Sunday, 14 September 2014

Raspberry ripple cheesecake squares

This recipe was featured in the Sainsbury’s magazine – by far and away the best supermarket magazine in my opinion. The recipe, initially, looks like a very basic cheesecake with a bit of a fruity swirl on top.  Look closer and you will spot two less common twists to a cheesecake: firstly, the addition of ground pistachios to the biscuit base, and secondly, yoghurt in the cheesecake.  Both additions pack in extra flavour and I loved the tanginess the yoghurt added.  The pistachios in the base look so pretty:

I must confess I was dubious as to the quantities of the ingredients required for the topping – it looked so much! But the fact it is baked in a traybake tin rather than the more traditional round tin necessitates the larger quantity of cheesecake – and I don’t have a problem with making a bigger cheesecake! (Do take heed though, and use a deep tin!)

Restraint is the key to creating the ripple effect.  I have to force myself to stop about five swirls before I want to otherwise you lose the definition and it all looks an odd shade of pink rather than the lovely red/white contrast.  It’s the same with any marble cake too – I always have the urge to make just one more swirl (I am the Columbo of baking) and then regret it!

Now I must end on a rant.  Kraft – the makers of Philadelphia, my go to cream cheese provider – has relaunched their product.  Now aside from the fact I’m not sure it’s quite as tangy as it was before (it’s billed as ‘now even creamier’), to my horror, the pots now have less content.  What used to be a 300g pot is now 280g.  A 200g pot is now 180g.  This is not good news for recipes using cream cheese – such as this one – where 600g is needed.  Interestingly, the pot looks the same size...just with less filling.  No doubt it is so the price can be kept the same, but, if you are paying the same price for 6.7% less content then surely that is a price rise?  Do they think we’re stupid? Not to mention the extra annoyance that you now need to buy three pots where you previously would only need two.  I am not impressed Kraft, not impressed at all.


For the base:
100g pistachio nuts
200g ginger nut biscuits
75g unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the topping:
600g cream cheese – I used Philadelphia
450g Greek yoghurt – I used Total
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons cornflour

For the ripple:
150g raspberries
1 tablespoon icing sugar


Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan oven 140°C/320°F/gas mark 3.

Line a tin approximately 30cm x 20cm with baking paper.  Make sure the tin has a bit of depth to it – about 4cm minimum.  I used a disposable foil traybake tin as I find them easy to cut open and get the finished item out.

Put the nuts and biscuits into a food processor and blitz to crumbs.

Add the butter and blitz again until you have the texture of clumpy, wet sand.  NB. There is no need to melt the butter.

Press the crumbs into the prepared tin and ensure you have an even distribution.

Beat together all the ingredients for the topping until well combined.

Spoon over the biscuit base and level the surface.

Now make the ripple: blitz the raspberries and icing sugar together in a food processor.

Sieve to remove the seeds.

Blob the puree on top of the cheesecake and, using a skewer, swirl it around so it mixes a little with the cheesecake – don’t over swirl or you will lose the contrast and just end up with it looking pink!  Less is more!

Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until there’s a slight wobble but the mix isn’t runny.

Cool, in the tin, before refrigerating until you wish to serve.

Cut into generous squares.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Chocolate and ginger sandwich cake

I am extremely suggestible with my baking.  Like most bakers I have a ‘to bake’ list, but then I’ll come across a recipe in a magazine or online and think, ‘that’s what I’m baking next’ and the list goes out the window.  That’s what happened here – I saw this recipe in a Sunday supplement magazine and all I could think about was how lovely chocolate and ginger sponge sounded.  When I leave for work in the morning I have noticed the aromas of Autumn starting to appear and obviously Autumn means spice so this cake had to be!

This is going to sound a stupid question (possibly because it is) but why is stem ginger only ever in ball shapes?  Why not just irregular chunks – it would do the same thing but waste less ginger.  Who decided that the only appropriate shape for stem ginger was a sphere?  And why are they always roughly the same size, to the extent that recipes will say ‘use one ball of stem ginger’ like it’s an actual recognised weight?  Answers on a postcard to….

The ginger and chocolate are very well balanced in this recipe – you get a nice hit of chocolate followed by a gentle spicy warmth.  The sponge is particularly light with a lovely soft crumb.  Perfect to enjoy with a cup of tea. 

This post marks the 7th anniversary of The Caked Crusader.  Seven years! Where has the time gone?  I’m now pretty close to a recipe for each day of the that sounds like a good year!


For the sponge:
50g cocoa powder
6 tablespoons boiling water
4 tablespoons milk
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 balls of stem ginger, very finely chopped -I used my mini food processor to blitz it small enough; if you don’t have one then consider grating it
175g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the buttercream:
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g icing sugar
2 tablespoons stem ginger syrup
1 tablespoon milk

To decorate: 1 ball of stem ginger, very finely chopped


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Line two 20cm loose bottomed sandwich tins with baking paper.

Start by making the cocoa paste: Stir the cocoa powder and boiling water together ensuring that there are no lumps.

Stir in the milk and take care to eliminate any powdery lumps.

Put the paste to one side.

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar together until smooth, whippy and creamy looking.  Do not skimp on this stage.

Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Beat in the ground ginger and the finely chopped stem ginger.

Stir in the cocoa paste.

Fold in the flour and the baking powder taking care that the ingredients are well incorporated.

Spoon into the prepared tins and level the surface.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before de-tinning and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

Now make the buttercream: beat the butter until it is pale and whippy.  I find that beating the butter first makes it lighter and easier to incorporate the icing sugar.

Add the icing sugar and beat until smooth and well combined.

Add the ginger syrup and milk and continue to beat until you have a lovely smooth  buttercream – the best test is to take a tiny amount on your tongue and press it against the roof of your mouth.  If it feels grainy you need to continue beating it to dissolve the sugar.
Place one sponge on the serving plate and spread half the buttercream over it.

Place the second sponge on top and spread the remaining buttercream over it.

Decorate with finely chopped stem ginger.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Blueberry sponge cake with cream cheese frosting


It’s all very well being selfless and baking to please others but sometimes you just need to be selfish and bake something to please yourself!  This week I had a hankering for blueberries baked in a simple sponge with cream cheese frosting.  Et voila!  I think blueberries are my favourite fruit to bake in a sponge – I love the way they break down, bleeding their juice into the sponge and also the magnificent pop of colour you get when cutting a slice.  It’s particularly effective when the outside of the cake is so plain and pale.

The cream cheese frosting is my favourite as it’s so smooth and creamy.  It’s great to team with a crumbly sponge because you can take some on the fork and use it to pick up all the crumbs.  This is one of my tests as to whether someone is a true cake lover or not.  (It may also double as a test for greedy guts! If so, I am guilty!)  A true cake lover will always gather their crumbs and eat them – after all, they are just smaller versions of the slice of cake.  An occasional cake eater will eat the slice and leave all the debris on the plate – it’s a total giveaway that this is not my kind of person!

I think this cake looks really good and could easily take pride of place on the afternoon tea table; don’t however assume that means it is difficult or time consuming to make – it is neither.  The sponge recipe and method is as basic as possible, as is the frosting.  It’s an example of great flavours and ingredients producing something simple but delightful.

Foolishly, I made double the amount of frosting.  I cannot explain what possessed me other than a greedy stupidity that the amounts set out in the recipe below didn’t look enough.  Hence, I was left with a large amount of cream cheese frosting.  We always joke that cream cheese frosting is so lovely we could just eat it by the spoonful so, eyeing the strawberries and left over blueberries I had sitting in a colander I threw together an impromptu dessert.  Serve it with some crisp biscuits if you want to look fancy.  Bonus dessert....the best kind!


For the sponge:
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g self raising flour
150g blueberries

For the frosting (this is enough to cover the top and sides of the cake):
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g cream cheese, at room temperature – I used Philadelphia

To decorate: 50g blueberries


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Line a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper.

Start by making the sponge: beat together the butter and sugar until pale and whippy.  Don’t be tempted to skimp on this stage – it needs a lot of beating.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding some of the flour if it looks like it’s curdling.  (NB. If you have beaten the butter and sugar for long enough it will not curdle – so if your mix does make sure you beat for longer next time)

Beat in the vanilla.

Stir in the flour.

Gently stir in the blueberries taking care not to burst them.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and level the surface.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes before de-tinning and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

Now make the frosting: start by beating the butter until it is pale and whippy.

Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth and well combined.

Add the cream cheese and beat until the frosting is smooth, thick and fluffy looking.  I like to take a small amount, place it on my tongue and then press it up against the roof of my mouth – if I cannot feel any sugar crystals and the texture feels smooth and uniform i.e. no blobs of cheese in there, then I know it’s ready.  If the beating has made the frosting too soft to comfortably spread refrigerate for 20 minutes or so.

Spread the frosting over the top and sides of the sponge cake.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Monday, 25 August 2014

Almond and cherry slices

Mr CC has been muttering of late that I don’t make his favourite sort of cakes.  The poor thing is practically malnourished due to my neglect! When I asked him what were his favourite sort of cakes he replied: anything that Mr Kipling makes.  Now don’t get me wrong; I am not (ok, I try not to be) a cake snob and will happily enjoy a Mr Kipling cake if there’s one on offer…but the thought of choosing one over a nice home baked treat is something I struggle with; if Mr CC heard my dramatic in-take of breath at his comment he didn’t let on. 

Mr CC mentioned, in particular, almond slices so I pondered how to take the essence of a Mr Kipling almond slice and pimp it up a bit.  I decided on adding a pastry base, chopped cherries and some thick white icing.  It then dawned on me that what I had actually created was the lovechild of a Mr Kipling almond slice and
bakewell tart…and it tasted as good as you’d expect!

If you’re pushed for time you can forget the pastry and simply bake the filling; the result will be a very pleasing almond sponge.  The cherries work so well with almond.  Whilst I still can’t manage half a glace cherry on top of a cake, chopped into small pieces I rather like the fruity –almost jammy - chewy little pop they bring to proceedings.  The cake will keep for days - anything with almonds seems to get better day after day as the nut oil is released.

This basic recipe has some alternative options available – omit the cherries and replace with fresh fruit such as raspberries or blueberries; you could also add a layer of jam between pastry and filling.

For the pastry:
175g plain flour
85g unsalted butter – straight from the fridge
30g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cold water

For the filling:
110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
150g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
50g ground almonds
100g glace cherries, chopped quite small
1 tablespoon milk
A couple of handfuls of flaked almonds

For the icing:
100g icing sugar
Enough warm water to make a thick, glossy icing - add it a teaspoon at a time

Start by making the pastry: place the flour and butter in the food processor and blitz until you have fine crumbs.

Add the sugar and blitz briefly.

While the machine is still running pour in the egg yolk and water.

Stop the processor when small clumps of pastry start to form.

Tip the clumps out onto a sheet of clingfilm and, using your hands, bring together into a ball of pastry.

If you wish to make the pastry by hand rub the butter into the flour until you have crumbs.  Stir in the sugar, egg and water and, bring together to a ball of dough.

Roll the pastry out between two sheets of clingfilm – this saves having to add any extra flour and changing the make up of the pastry.

Line a 30cm x 20cm traybake tin with the pastry.  I like to use a disposable foil traybake tin as I find it easier to get the cooked traybake out! 

Use any spare pastry to patch the tin – it’s good natured and will patch easily.

Prick the base of the pastry with a fork.

Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 1 hour. (Note that the pastry is rested after rolling – not before).

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

Cover the chilled pastry with non-stick foil or baking paper and weigh down with baking beans.

Bake for 10 minutes before removing the paper and beans and cooking for a further 10 minutes or until golden.

Put to one side to cool while you make the filling.

Now make the filling: beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and whippy.

Beat in the eggs.

Stir in the flour and baking powder.

Fold in the ground almonds and chopped cherries.

Stir in the milk to slacken the mixture.

Spoon into the pastry case and flatten well to ensure there are no air pockets.

Level the surface and scatter over the flaked almonds.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the almond sponge comes out clean.

Leave to cool, in the tin, on a wire rack.

When the cake is cool make the icing: add warm water, a teaspoon at a time, to the icing sugar and mix until you have a thick, white, glossy icing.

Use a spoon to drizzle over the almond sponge.

Leave to set.

Cut into generous finger-shaped slices – I got 18 fingers.

Eat on its own with a big cup of tea.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.