Light Fruit Cake in the style of a Genoa Cake or a French Cake aux Fruits

Sometimes I find inspiration is lacking and I find it hard to come up with new ideas – well, there are over 700 unique recipes on my site! Then along comes a whole season of inspiration in the form of the Great British Bake Off. It’s such a feel-good programme when there is so much doom and gloom in the news, that it adds a touch of good natured homely fun to each Tuesday evening. I have tried to bake along for the past few years, but my plans have often gone awry. This year, however, I’m really going to try to keep it up and provide you lovely people with a new friendly Bake Off inspired recipe each week.

For Week 1: cake week; the three bakes were fruit cake, Angel cake slices and a childhood themed showstopper. It’s still the school summer holidays so the showstopper was out of the question (not enough time!), angel cake slices have so far eluded me as genoise sponge is so egg heavy I’ve never been able to recreate an egg-free version. I do hope to get there one day (bear with me!), but for now the fruit cake was the right choice for me.

I don’t often make fruit cakes (except at Christmas) as my children can’t stand dried fruit, but I have a fondness for an occasional slice, especially if it’s the lighter styles, I’m no fan a dark heavy dense fruit cake!

This lovely light fruit loaf is inspired by French-style or Genoa cake recipes and gives a wonderful delicate but fruity cake. Delicious freshly baked, or lightly toasted the next day 🙂

Light Genoa Fruit Cake

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 1 loaf cake

100g glace cherries

50g dates, stoned and roughly chopped

50g raisins

50g currants

1 tbsps brandy (or apple juice)

1 tsp cherry syrup (optional)

175g plain flour

1/2 tsp mixed spice

pinch of salt

35g dairy-free margarine

zest of 1 lemon

85g light Muscovado sugar

150ml dairy-free milk, warmed to hand hot temperature

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

  1. Grease and line a loaf tin
  2. Pour the brandy/apple juice over the dried fruit and leave to steep for at least half an hour
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 4
  4. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and mixed spice. Add the lemon zest.
  5. Rub in the dairy-free margarine, until the mix looks like fine breadcrumbs
  6. Stir in the sugar, and the dried fruits
  7. Add the bicarb to the warm milk and stir until dissolved
  8. Pour the milk into the dry ingredients and mix to form a stiff dough
  9. Turn into the lined loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes. Then turn the cake around and continue to bake for a further 15, or until a knife comes out clean.
  10. Cool on a wire rack.
  11. For added moisture pour over 1 tbsp extra brandy mixed with 1 tsp cherry syrup if you have any.
  12. Once cool brush with nappage (warmed equal parts apricot jam mixed with water) and decorate with extra halves place cherries

Salted Caramel Victoria Sponge Cake

Victoria sponge cake is surely the most appropriate traditional summertime cake. It’s the very essence of tea time, taken under the shade of an apple tree on a warm Summer afternoon, maybe along with some scones and cup of tea in fine china cups!

I’ve found it quite a journey to develop the perfect Victoria sponge recipe, for some reason it has been so much harder than a chocolate cake. Sometimes the texture is a bit too rubbery/bouncy or the flavour not quite right. However finally thanks to some gratefully received input from a reader and his mother in law, the a pretty fine egg and dairy-free Victoria sponge is here. It’s always such a delight to me when I feel I have developed a great ‘friendly’ alternative to a classic staple. I feel like I’m finally hitting my ‘brief’ from the outset of this journey, which is about enabling everyone to enjoy the same things. This cake would make an awesome birthday cake if chocolate isn’t your cup of [English] tea.

This sponge has a wonderful crumb, perfect for a layer cake and the addition of custard powder adds an additional welcome vanilla hit. Custard powder – that’s the tip I was given and wouldn’t have thought of myself.

This would’ve been perfect as a traditional jam filled sponge cake, but since my children aren’t very keen on jam I turned this into a salted caramel sponge cake with a Lotus spread drizzle and salted caramel buttercream. A version I highly recommend 🙂

Salted Caramel Victoria Sponge Cake

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes one sandwich cake

370g self-raising flour

2 tbsps Birds custard powder

220g caster sugar

1 1/2 tsps bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

290ml dairy-free milk

2 tbsps dairy-free yogurt

100g dairy-free margarine, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 5. Grease and line 2 20cm sandwich tins
  2. Sift together the flour, custard powder, bicarb and salt
  3. Stir in the sugar
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the dairy-free milk, melted dairy-free margarine, yogurt and vanilla.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix gently until well combined.
  6. Pour into the cake tins and bake for 30 minutes, until a knife comes out clean
  7. Cool in the cake tins.

Filling, enough to fill one cake:

  • Make the buttercream by whisking together 1tbsp Trex, 1/4 cup dairy-free margarine, 1 cup sifted icing sugar [use Sugar and Crumbs salted caramel icing sugar if possible] and 1 tbsp dairy-free milk.
  • (if you can’t find flavoured icing sugar use normal but add 1 tsp caramel essence instead)
  • Make the caramel drizzle by combining 2 tbsp Lotus caramelised biscoff spread with 1 tbsp dairy-free milk
  • spread the buttercream over one of the sponges, top with the Lotus drizzle. Place the top layer on the cake and dust with a generous layer of icing sugar

Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake

I do love a loaf cake. They seem more casual and everyday than a round cake, and you can concentrate on flavour rather than fancy adornments. I also find them very useful to whip up for a pudding, tea time treat or snack at short notice; without the icing a cake can be made from start to finish in under an hour (with most of that time in the oven).

This particular recipe produces the most amazingly textured cake – it has what Mary Berry would call a good crumb! It also keeps fantastically well for a few days, so a loaf cake made on a Sunday can be used as an after school snack, or lunch box filler for the whole week.

I’ve added a good amount of some of the new Nomo chocolate from Kinnerton as I know my children love anything with chocolate in, but this cake would also work fantastically well with the addition of glace cherries, dried fruit or even handful of fresh berries.

Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, can be soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 1 2lb loaf

250g or 2 cups self-raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

30g or 1/4 cup corn flour

pinch of salt

115g or 1/2 cup dairy-free margarine

200g or 1 cup sugar

180g or 3/4 cup dairy-free yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

170 ml or 3/4 cup dairy-free milk

35g dairy-free dark chocolate, chopped

35g dairy-free creamy chocolate, chopped

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/gas mark 4
  2. Line a 2lb loaf tin
  3. Sift together the flour, corn flour, bicarbonate and salt and set aside
  4. Mix together the yogurt, dairy-free milk and vanilla and set aside
  5. Cream together the spread and sugar until light and fluffy
  6. Alternately add the flour and yogurt mix (about 1/3rd of the mix each time) and whisk well between each addition.
  7. Stir in the chopped chocolate
  8. Pour into the loaf tin and level off
  9. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a knife cones out clean
  10. Cool briefly in the tin before unmoulding.

Confetti Traybake

Easy, tasty and pretty what more could you want from a cake recipe? I needed to make a quick after-school snack and thought something pretty was what was needed with the May sunshine shining through the windows, and surely no-one can resist a colourful sprinkle strewn traybake when they return home from a long and busy day at school.

I think the combination of vanilla sponge, baked with sprinkles stirred in for a colourful ‘funfetti’ effect, vanilla buttercream and a topping of more sprinkles is as pretty as a picture. The added bonus is that this recipe can be whipped up in about 40 minutes, which includes cooking and cooling time, you can’t get much quicker than that for a wow-worthy cake.

Confetti Traybake

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

200g self-raising flour

100g caster sugar

pinch of salt

100ml sunflower oil

150ml dairy-free milk

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp sprinkles

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 5
  2. Line a square baking tray with parchment
  3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl. Stir in the sugar.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the dairy-free milk, lemon, vanilla and oil.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently mix, until well combined. Stir through the sprinkles.
  6. Pour the mix into the lined tin, level off and bake for 20-22 minutes, until lightly golden and a knife comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

for the buttercream:

3 tbsp dairy-free margarine
1 tbsp vegetable fat
around 2 cups icing sugar
a splash of dairy-free milk

  1. Whisk together the fats
  2. Whisk in the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, adding a splash of dairy-free milk. You may not need all the sugar, just keep checking the taste and texture
  3. Spread the buttercream over the cooled traybake and scatter liberally with sprinkles

Easter Rocky Road

Happy Easter (or just long bank holiday weekend) everyone 🐣

We’re been so lucky this year with a glorious sunny weekend, filled with plenty of time outside enjoying the countryside, having Easter Egg hunts or just gardening. It’s been a really joyous and sunny way to spend a long weekend.

Chocolate is everywhere at easter time, which certainly poses it’s problems for the food-allergy family. Things have definitely improved, but still the majority of Easter treats (and particularly child oriented ones) have to be avoided. Oh to be able to buy candy shelled mini-eggs just like everyone else!

To ensure the chocolate quota is at maximum for everyone I’ve made wonderfully spring-themed rocky road, decorated with homemade mini-eggs (melted dairy-free chocolate set in a mould with a glitter coating) and the obligatory mini fluffy chicks! Also called tiffin or chocolate biscuit cake, this combination of roughly crushed biscuits, rice crisps and marshmallows enrobed in chocolate will delight nearly everyone.

This is also the perfect recipe to use up any leftover chocolate, take away the Easter adornments and you have the perfect teatime treat for any time of year 🙂

Easter Rocky Road

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, sesame-free, can be gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 12 or so bars

160g dairy-free dark chocolate, roughly chopped

60g dairy-free margarine

25g golden syrup

100g chocolate biscuits, roughly crushed (I used Lotus biscuits that are (currently) dairy, egg and nut-free)

25g Rice Krispies

50g mini vegetarian marshmallows (or use normal if you’re not vegetarian/vegan)

homemade mini-eggs, jelly eggs and sprinkles to decorate

  1. Line a square brownie tin with non-stick parchment
  2. Melt together the chocolate, margarine and syrup, either in a microwave or over a bain marie
  3. Stir in the crushed biscuits, Rice Krispie and marshmallows.
  4. Evenly spread into the tin and press down.
  5. Scatter over some sprinkles and press the mini and jelly eggs on top for an extra dose of fun
  6. Leave to set in the fridge.
  7. Cut into bars.

Brownies with a Biscoff Swirl

Brownies are such a popular and useful sweet treat. They work equally well as a cake, snack or a pudding; we particularly like a warmed brownie with ice cream and caramel or magic chocolate sauce – mmmmm pure pudding heaven.

I have’t posted a brownie recipe for absolutely ages, but last week I came across some pictures of beautiful brownies which featured a yummy swirl. This got me thinking, brownies are delicious but they’re not overly sweet, so a swirl to sweeten the overall effect would work a treat. Biscoff spread is such a great nut-free spread and is delicious with chocolate, so my decision of flavour combos was a real no brainer!

To counter the sweet swirl, I have made these brownies extra rich and decadent with plenty of melted chocolate stirred in, giving a luxurious and intensely chocolatey effect. There are what you may call brownie perfection.

Brownies with a Biscoff Swirl

 

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

4 tbsp cocoa powder

150g self-raising flour

110g caster sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 tbsp flavourless oil, I use sunflower

250ml dairy-free milk

100g dairy-free chocolate, melted

4 tbsp Biscoff spread

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Line a brownie tin with parchment
  2. In a bowl, mix together the cocoa, self-raising flour, caster sugar and salt.
  3. Pour in the oil, milk and vanilla and mix to form a smooth batter
  4. Stir in the melted chocolate (this will make the batter much stiffer)
  5. Transfer to the lined brownie tin and level off.
  6. Warm the Biscoff spread so it becomes runnier, dollop over the brownie batter and using the handle of a wooden spoon swirl it though
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. It should be a bit gooey looking in the middle. Cool fully in the tin before cutting into portions.