apple ricotta and almond cake

29 Apr 2023

Last week I had a few social engagaments and I offered to bring along the dessert. I had so many recipe options whirring through my brain I had trouble sleeping. Should I bring a tart; should I bring a cake; should I make a pavlova? I'd planned on making a completely different cake for work but when the time came, I was short of one ingredient and I wasn't feeling it. I looked through the fridge and I had a little ricotta cheese left over and a few apples in the fruit bowl so I decided to adapt Julia Busuttil Nishimura's
plum ricotta and almond cake recipe to make an apple ricotta and almond cake.

I made a few tiny tweaks to the recipe and as I was meeting friends for lunch that day, I was a bit time poor. I made the cake batter in the food processor and once all the ingredients were measured, it all came together very quickly. Slicing the apples and arranging them over the cake batter was probably the most time consuming part of the process.

I really think nut based cakes taste better the day after they're made. You end up with a lovely cake with a soft texture that's full of flavour. That being said, I had my piece on the day and it tasted mighty fine.

Here's the recipe for you which makes a 17 cm cake. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°CIf you'd like to make a 23cm cake, just double all the ingredients and the baking time should stay the same. 

Apple, ricotta and almond cake

75g unsalted butter, softened
75g fresh full-fat ricotta
80g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1½ tsp lemon rind
2 eggs
112g ground almonds
50g self-raising flour
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

1 small apple
1 tsp melted butter
3 tsp sugar
⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 tbs flaked almonds
Double cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C, conventional. Grease and line the base of a round 17cm cake tin with baking paper.

Place the butter, ricotta, sugar, vanilla and lemon rind in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until pale and fluffy. Alternatively cream in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Gently stir through the ground almonds, flour, salt and baking powder by hand and mix until just combined. Spoon into the prepared tin and smooth the top of the batter.

Peel and core the apple and slice thinly. Arrange the apple slices on top of the batter then drizzle the melted butter over the apple slices. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl then sprinkle over the apple slices, avoiding the very edge of the cake as the sugar tends to burn as the cake cooks. Scatter the almond flakes around the edge of the cake, then place the cake on the centre rack of the preheated oven. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when tested and the apple slices have softened. Slide a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it then let it cool for 10 minutes in the tin before turning out. Allow the cake to finish cooling on a wire rack before serving. Serve with double cream.

Another nice simple cake to add to your repertoire.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,



gill's honey cake

23 Apr 2023

I was a late convert to the joys of honey so I really haven't used it a great deal in my baking. I've had this Gill Meller honey cake recipe bookmarked for quite some time and with the changing seasons my fruit options have narrowed, so it seemed the perfect time to make this simple almond topped butter cake.

What makes this cake a bit special - well it uses wholemeal self raising flour and almond meal, a combination I don't think I've tried before. My wholemeal self raising flour was so old I had to turf it out and start afresh. Once baked, the cake is doused with runny honey whilst still warm.

Here's the recipe for you 
which makes a 17cm cake. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Gill's honey cake
150g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
125g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
75g self-raising wholemeal flour
½ tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
75g almond meal
15g flaked almonds
2 tbsp runny honey (or set honey, warmed sufficiently to trickle)

17cm springform cake tin, lightly greased and base-lined with baking parchment.

Peheat the oven to 170°C, conventional. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter to a cream. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat thoroughly until very light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour with each and beating thoroughly before adding the next.

Combine the remaining flour with the baking powder and salt and sift into the bowl. Using a large metal spoon, carefully fold into the mixture. Stir in the ground almonds until evenly mixed.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, spreading it evenly with the back of the spoon. Scatter over the flaked almonds. Stand the tin on a baking sheet (as the cake may leak a little butter during cooking). Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, until springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

On removing from the oven, trickle the honey over the surface so that it soaks into the hot cake. Leave in the tin for half an hour or so before turning out and placing on a wire rack to cool completely. 

This cake is best kept for a day or two before eating. It keeps well for at least a week, stored in an airtight tin.

This might be a simple cake but it's a mighty tasty one. It would be delicious served as a dessert with some stewed fruit or berries and a dollop of cream.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


plum, almond and polenta cake

16 Apr 2023

I knew I had some rhubarb in the freezer and planned to use it to make 
Skye McAlpine rhubarb and almond cake. When I looked in the freezer I didn't have enough rhubarb to make the cake but I thought the recipe would work just as well, topped with plums.

Like Skye, I also adapted the River Cafe polenta, almond and lemon cake recipe to make this naturally gluten-free plum, almond and polenta cake. I tweaked the quantities to make the cake a little less dense and upped the baking powder to ensure the plums sank into the batter, part of the magic of plum cake.

Here's the recipe for you which makes a 17cm cake. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Plum, almond and polenta cake
125g butter, softened, plus more for the tin
125g caster sugar 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
Grated rind of 1 lemon (3 tsp) 
2 eggs 
65g polenta or maize flour
1 tbs potato starch 
3/4 tsp baking powder 
110g ground almonds 
15 mls milk 
sea salt flakes 
2-3 plums, halved, pitted and sliced
1 tbs caster sugar 

Heat the oven to 190°C conventional. Butter a 17cm springform cake tin and line it with baking paper. 

Beat the butter and sugar, vanilla and lemon rind together until pale and light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift the polenta, the potato starch and the baking powder into a small bowl then stir through the ground almonds then add a pinch salt. Add the polenta mixture to the batter followed by the milk and stir to form a soft batter. The cake batter can also be made in a food processor. 

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin and then arrange the plum slices over the cake batter. Dredge the plums with a tablespoon of caster sugar before baking. Please note, the plums will sink into the batter as the cake bakes so don't have to be too precise with your arrangement of the slices. 

Place the cake on the centre rack and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cake is cooked when tested with a skewer and brown on top. Let cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before loosening with a knife. Allow the cake to cool completely before turning out onto a wire rack. The cake will keep for two to three days in an airtight tin.

This cake was an absolute winner. I took my piece home and cut the piece in half to eat over 2 days but it was so yummy, I scoffed the piece in about 2 bites. Skye suggested topping the cake with either blackberries or raspberries but I could see the polenta cake would beautifully as the base for an upside down blood orange or rhubarb cake. Watch this space.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


Chocolate, orange and hazelnut breakfast bread

10 Apr 2023

For Easter this year I thought I might make a batch of Pan di Ramerino, Tuscan rosemary and raisin buns, however whilst looking through Skye McAlpines' book 'A Table in Venice' for food and travel inspiration, I spied a recipe for Putizza, a Slovenian bread. It looked intriguing, so instead of making a batch of hot cross buns or pan di ramerino, I decided to make this chocolate, orange and hazelnut bread. 

I've changed the technique a little from Skye's original recipe. I like to activate the yeast when making a sweet dough, just to be sure. I also made the dough, brioche style, by slowly adding butter to the base dough, then I did a few stretch and folds before resting the dough in the fridge.

Following Skye's instructions I made the dough the day before, filled and shaped the loaf, then covered the tin with plastic wrap before refrigerating it overnight. The following day, it took a few hours for the loaf to come to room temperature and to rise before I glazed and baked the bread which came out of the oven in time for brunch. 

Here’s the recipe for you which makes a 23cm breakfast bread. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Chocolate, orange and hazelnut breakfast bread
7g dried yeast
250ml whole milk 
1 tsp caster sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
470g strong white flour
1 teaspoon salt
70g caster sugar 
70g salted butter, diced 
1 egg to glaze

For the filling
70g salted butter, softened
50g demerara sugar 
50g breadcrumbs
2 tbls milk
70g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
75g blanched toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped 
Grated zest of orange 
50g raisins or sultanas, steeped in 40ml brandy or orange juice

Grease a large bowl and set to one side. Combine the yeast, milk and 1 tsp sugar in a large liquid measuring cup and rest for 5 minutes or until foamy then stir in the beaten egg.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the flour, sugar and salt and stir on low to combine. Add the egg mixture and mix on low to combine until a dough has formed, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the butter, one piece at a time. When all the butter has been added, which should take a further 5 minutes, increase the speed to medium and beat the butter into the dough, until all the little butter pieces are incorporated. Transfer the sticky dough to the prepared bowl. 

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Place your fingers or a spatula underneath the dough and gently pull the dough up and fold it back over itself. Turn the bowl and repeat this folding again. Continue 6 to 8 more times, until all the dough has been folded over on itself. Re-cover the bowl with plastic and let it rise for another 30 minutes. Repeat the folding process again then cover the bowl with cling film or a damp tea towel and 
leave in a warm place for about 1 and ½ hours, until doubled in size. I prefer to leave the dough in the fridge for at least 2 hours to firm before shaping. 

Make the filling 
Beat the butter, sugar and breadcrumbs together with an electric mixer until they form a thick paste. Add the milk and beat again until creamy. Stir in the chocolate, hazelnuts and orange zest, then cover and set to one side.

Grease a 23cm round springform cake tin with butter. Take the risen dough out of the bowl and knock the air out of it. Cut off a third of the dough and roll or stretch it out into a 23cm round. Place it in the tin, then roll out the rest of dough on a lightly floured surface until you have a rectangle, roughly 35 x 25cm. Stir the raisins and their juices into the filling and then spread it over the dough as evenly as you can taking it right up to the edges. Roll it up tightly from the longest side, then cut it into 8 – 10 roughly 4cm wide rounds. Place the rounds snugly on top of the dough in the cake tin, swirly side up. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes until nearly doubled in size or place in the fridge overnight  if you're planning to make this for breakfast.

Heat the oven to 180°C, conventional. Beat the remaining egg and brush it over the dough. Place the tin on the centre rack and bake for 40 minutes or until golden on top, then turn out onto a cooling rack. The putizza is best eaten on the day it is baked.

I had a piece or 2 of the bread, 
still warm from the oven, for brunch with a cup of tea and it was absolutely delicious. If you increased the amount of filling by 50%, I think you could make a large batch of amazing chocolate, orange and hazelnut filled scrolls from this recipe.

Next Easter I promise I'll make those rosemary and raisin buns. See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


chocolate easter egg tart with a tim tam crust

3 Apr 2023

Easter is just around the corner so I decided to make a no-bake chocolate easter egg tart. Last year 
I saw Elizabeth Hewson make a Hot Chocolate Tart on an episode of The Cook Up. The base was made from Tim Tams, my all-time favourite chocolate biscuit.

The Tim Tam crust was something I wanted to try and it seemed the perfect vehicle for a smooth chocolate ganache filling I spied on Claire Saffitz's YouTube channel. I made the tart, then topped it with unsweetened whipped cream, a few crumbled Easter eggs and a dusting of Tim Tam crumbs to make this Easter themed no-bake tart. I don't think I've ever made a no-bake tart before and I was a bit worried it would fall apart, but once chilled I could cut a neat slice.

Here's the recipe for you which makes a 4 cm deep 17cm tart.
For all my recipes, I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C. 

Chocolate Easter Egg Tart with a Tim Tam crust - the tart can be made up to two days ahead. Keep, covered, in the fridge and decorate the tart with cream, biscuit crumbs and cocoa just before serving.

1 x 200g packet Tim Tam biscuits
30 g unsalted butter, melted
Pinch sea salt flakes

150g finely chopped dark chocolate (64-70%)
Pinch sea salt flakes
250mls cold thickened cream, divided
50g melted unsalted butter

To serve
125mls thickened cream, softly whipped
2-3 small Easter eggs
Cocoa powder

Grease and line a 17 cm flan tin with baking paper. Process the biscuits in a food processor until finely crushed. Reserve a tablespoon for decoration then transfer the remaining crumbs to a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter and the salt flakes, then press the mixture over base and up sides of prepared the tin. Refrigerate while making filling.

In a large heatproof bowl, combine the chopped chocolate and a generous pinch of salt and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat 150mls of the cream over medium heat just until you see gentle bubbling around the sides. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside for 30 seconds to cool slightly, then pour it over the chocolate. Cut butter into 1 cm pieces and add to the bowl. Let the chocolate mixture sit undisturbed for about 5 minutes to allow the chocolate to melt. Whisk the ganache gently, starting in the centre of the bowl and working outward, until the mixture is completely smooth. Set the bowl aside while you whip the cream.

In a medium bowl, with a hand mixer, whip the remaining 100mls cream on low speed then gradually increase the speed to medium-high as it thickens, until you have medium peaks. Set the bowl aside.

Beat the ganache with the hand mixer (no need to wash after whipping the cream) on low speed and gradually increase the speed to medium-high until the ganache thickens and holds the marks of the whisk, about 4 minutes. Add the whipped cream and gently fold through the ganache until the mixture is streak-free. Spoon the whipped ganache into the tart shell then using an offset spatula, smooth the surface working it to the sides in an even layer. Set the tart aside uncovered at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, then refrigerate until serving time.

To serve, place the tart on a serving plate. Decorate the tart with dollops of cream and a few crumbled Easter eggs. Dust with sifted cocoa powder and the Tim Tam crumbs.

I took this into work and shared it with my chocolate mad workmates. It was declared an absolute hit with it's smooth creamy filling and intriguing salt flecked crust.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Wishing you all a Happy Easter.

Bye for now,


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