Tag Archives: beat ‘n’ mix

Valentine’s Rosette

15 Feb

Is there anything worse than a head cold? I have felt so miserable since the weekend that even my baking had to take a back seat. You know I’m feeling lousy when I’m not in the mood for playing with cake.

Instead of a cake recipe, this week I’d like to show you a really easy icing technique which looks as if you spent hours on it. It’s always impressive and couldn’t be simpler. I started out by making a pair of beat n mix chocolate cakes from the easy peasy recipe given previously. While the cakes cool on the rack prepare the icing.

Make up a quantity of butter icing. You will need 150 g softened butter and 300 g icing sugar. beat the butter well until smooth and soft and creamy then beat in the icing sugar until thoroughly combined. It needs to be glossy but not too soft. If you think it feels too soft, add icing sugar, a teaspoon at a time, until a stiffish consistency is reached. Now pop a few spoonfulls into an icing bag or syringe type icer, with a large star-shaped nozzle.

Starting from the outside of the first cake pipe circles of starryblobs. Leave about a centimetre between each circle. Do the same on the other cake.

icing rosette 1When you have iced concentric circles of creamy white icing on both cakes, you’ll find you still have some icing in the bowl, and to this you’ll need to add 3 tablespoons sifted cocoa. Beat well until the icing turns a luscious chocolaty colour.

Now wash out the icing bag/syringe and nozzle, dry thoroughly, and fill with the brown icing. Pipe concentric circles in the spaces on both cakes.

rosette icing 2Now, very carefully, lift one of the cakes and set it down on top of the other. Decorate with sprinkles or heart-shaped chocolates or whatever takes your fancy. When slices are cut, you’ll have alternating “stripes” of yummy brown and white icing, and everyone will think you’re terribly clever!

rosette icing 3

To ring the changes, this icing also works beautifully with a plain sponge cake. Flavour half the icing with a few drops of vanilla and the remainder with a spoonfull or two of lemon curd! Yum.

rosette icing 4


It’s snowing…only chocolate cake will do

5 Feb

Nowadays, chocolate cakes are usually made with melted chocolate. But back in the days when I started baking from my mom’s old recipe books, chocolate cakes were always made with cocoa. I really have no idea why this is – perhaps it was  just a more economical way of baking.

I’ve decided to get back to the old cocoa-based recipes and had a go at one today. A nice heart-warming choccie cake is perfect on a snowy day.  Actually it’s perfect on any sort of day but I needed an excuse. Or a reason.

I use cocoa in two ways – either by mixing it into a paste or by removing an equivalent amount of flour and replacing it with the powdered cocoa. The paste, I think, gives a richer-tasting result.

These quantities will make one large round cake (about a 23cm tin) or a rectangular tray bake – use a brownie tin – or divide the mixture between two 20cm round tins and sandwich together. Today, I simply made one large round cake.


5 tablespoons cocoa (proper cocoa, NOT sweetened drinking chocolate!)
5 tablespoons boiling water
230 g butter
230 caster sugar
280 g self raising flour
2 teasppons baking powder
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C and prepare the tin or tins with baking paper.
  2. Place the cocoa in a small bowl and add the boiling water. Mix to a smooth paste – it may take some time to incorporate all the lumpy bits but persevere. Leave the bowl on a window sill to cool down.
  3. Chuck all the other ingredients in a mixer and beat to a smooth batter. Don’t you just love a beat and mix cake? I do.
  4. If you don’t have a standard mixer or a food processor you can do it quite easily in a large bowl. Beat the butter first with a wooden spoon, then beat in the sugar, and finally everything else. Give it a good thrashing to get it smooth and light.
  5. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin or tins and bake for 40 minutes (one cake) or 30 minutes if using two tins. Test for done-ness but remember, slightly undercooked is better than overcooked where a cake like this is concerned.
  6. Turn onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
chocolate cake
For one cake – 200 g icing sugar, 100 g butter, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder.
For two cakes, sandwiched together –  300 g  icing sugar, 150 g butter, 4 tablespoons cocoa powder.
2 tablespoons apricot jam
  1. Weigh out the icing sugar, then remove 2 (or 4) tablespoons from it.
  2. Add 2 (4) tablespoons cocoa to the icing sugar.
  3. Place in blender with the softened butter and whizz until smooth.
  4. Warm the apricot jam in the microwave for 30 seconds, then brush over the surface of the cooled cake. This is helpful in two ways – it makes the cake nice and moist, and forms a crumb-free barrier between the cake and the icing. I remember an old auntie telling me about brushing cake surfaces with apricot jam and it works brilliantly! Nobody ever tucks in and says, “Ooh, this chocolate cake tastes of apricot jam!”  they just say, “Mmmmmsnarfelnomnom.”
  5. When the jam has cooled on the cake, slap on the icing and spread it around with a palette knife. I like to flick up little peaks with the tines of a fork, then sprinkle on chocolate sprinklies for added overkill.
This cake is best eaten on the day it’s baked. That’s a joke actually, because it’s always eaten on the day it’s baked. I’m sure it will keep in an airtight tin for a couple of days. 😉

Chocolate cake

Hazelnut and Coffee Cake

15 Jan

Greetings cakefans and apologies for the apparent lack of cake these past two weeks. Not that I haven’t been baking – I have – but last weekends efforts were both puddings which seem to have been eaten before they could be photographed and described. Oh dear. One was a sticky toffee pudding, the other a chocolate and orange pudding. Both will appear here in the not-too-distant future, and I’ll make sure they get to the Cakealogue before the family decimates them.

Today was  the sort of day that called for a nice, warming sort of afternoon cake to go with coffee.  How about a coffee cake? And as I had no walnuts, I decided to improvise with what I did have…hazelnuts. The result was scrumptious, and the sort of experiment that makes you think, hmmm, I’ll do that again.

Hazelnut and Coffee Cake

Before starting this cake make some really strong coffee. I got a De Longhi espresso maker for Christmas and I’m in love with it. The best espressi and cappuccini this side of Rome are now to be found in my kitchen.  I made a double shot espresso and left it to cool. You’ll need this for the cake. Don’t worry if you don’t have a fancypants machine, normal caffetiere coffee is fine. Or the sort you make in a moka. Or as a last resort, strong instant coffee.


200 g softened butter
200 g light brown sugar
200 g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 medium eggs
2 tablespoons STRONG coffee
2 tablespoons milk
75 g chopped hazelnuts


  1. Heat the oven to 180 C and grease and line a brownie tin or large square tin with non-stick paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients in large bowl and beat really well until smooth and beautifully blended.
  3. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 30 – 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  4. Place on a cooling rack and leave to cool in the tin while you make the icing.
Hazelnut and Coffee icing
100 g butter
200 g icing sugar
2 teaspoons STRONG coffee
2 teaspoons hazelnut syrup (optional)
whole hazelnuts to decorate.
  1. Place all the ingredients – except the nuts – in a blender and whizz until smooth.
  2. Spread on the cooled cake, decorate with the whole hazelnuts.
  3. Get the coffee on!
  4. Sit back and wait for the compliments.
Coffee and hazelnut closeup

Beat ‘n’ Mix cakes

24 Aug

One bowl wonders. Ah yes, the easiest cakes in the world, the sort where you just chuck everything into one bowl, mix it all together and bake.

Minimum fuss and way less washing up too.

The great chef, Antonio Carluccio (whom I admire enormously) has an expression “MOFMOF”. All his cooking has to be MOFMOF! It stands for “Minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour” and I think it should be the kitchen motto for all of us. A Beat and Mix cake is just that. Minimum effort, maximum reward.

I’ll give you my basic recipe here and then explain how you can zhoozh up the recipe to make something completely different. This is what you’ll need:

A set of measuring cups – absolutely vital for my sort of baking. When I first learnt to bake in South Africa we almost always used cups for measuring dry ingredients. They are widely used in Australian and American recipes too, so definitely worth the small investment. Places like Lakeland sell them and Nigella does them in covetable colours.

Two 20cm round tins


1 1/2 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 cup caster sugar
175g butter at room temperature or Stork
1/2 cup milk
3 medium eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence


1. First grease and line the tins with baking parchment, and heat the oven to 170C
2. Cream the butter (or Stork) in a large bowl. If using an electric mixer it should only take half a minute or so. If beating     by hand use a wooden spoon and give it a bit of wellie.
3.  Now place a sieve over the bowl and sift the dry ingredients straight in, followed by the milk, eggs and essence. No         need to sift the wet stuff, haha
4. Beat slowly at first so the flour doesn’t leap up the sides and get all over your face (or maybe that’s just me) and as the
ingredients are incorporated you can beat a little faster and faster.
5. Pour the batter into the tins as equally as possible, and use a spatula to get it all out of the bowl. It’s advisable to not be
too zealous with the spatula or you’ll have nothing to lick.
6. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes. Remember to check with a skewer or toothpick for doneness. Sticky batter on the stick means
leave it another five or ten minutes.
7. Cool on a wire rack while you decide how to ice it.


You can make a plain butter icing remembering the golden rule of ‘half fat to sugar’. In other words, if you use 200g butter you’ll need 400g icing sugar. If you use 300g butter you’ll need 600g icing sugar.

A few drops of vanilla essence in the mix will be lovely.You can also use almond essence, or rum essence, or And so forth.  You could also use pink food colouring. Other food colourings are also avavilable, but pink rules.

Once you’ve beaten the icing to a yummy smoothness use half to sandwich the two cooled cakes together, then slap the rest over the top. You can ice the sides if you wish but it’s a fiddle, so distract your guests from the un-iced sides by smothering the top of the cake in chocolate sprinkles,  pink edible glitter, cherries, smarties…..

Washing Up

Two cake tins, one large bowl, measuring cups, wooden spoon, teaspoon, sieve. And if the cake is divine you can get your grateful guests to do the washing up for you. A winning cake all round.


Remove two tablespoons of the flour before you add it to the mix and replace with two tablespoons of cocoa powder (NOT drinking chocolate) Voila, you have chocolate cake. Do the same thing with the icing and decorate with chocolate sprinkles for a triple choccie hit.

Mix a tablespoon of strong black coffee into the batter, and another into the icing and decorate with walnut halves for a lazy, easy coffee and walnut cake. You could crush 20g walnuts and throw them into the batter too.

Add the pulp of two passion fruits to the batter and another two to the icing and you’ll have a yummy passion fruit cake, or more correctly, Grenadilla cake!

These are just a few ideas. You could try your own. Let me know how you get on.

Happy baking!

%d bloggers like this: