Friday Cake Time: Dulce de Leche Cake

Dulce de Leche Cake © Laura Madeleine

This cake has no shame; it’s a sticky, nutty, creamy, unashamedly cakey cake. A combination of mascarpone and hazelnuts keeps it from sliding into sugar-coma territory, but if you have a sweet tooth, this’un’s for you.

You can make dulce de leche yourself, if you’ve the patience, but otherwise just buy it in a tin. Spoon-licking lingerers will no doubt “help” you with the ingredients.

Dulce de Leche Cake
You will need:
For the cake
  • 175g butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 50g chopped hazelnuts

For the filling and topping:

  • 300g mascarpone
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out or a few drops vanilla essence
  • 25g chopped hazelnuts, to decorate
  • 1/2 tin or about 5 tablespoons of dulce de leche (caramel)

Make it!
The cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Lightly grease and line a 23cm round cake tin.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of flour with each to help the mixture stay smooth.
  4. Gently fold in the remainder of the flour and baking powder, taking care not to over-mix.
  5. When just combined, stir in the chopped hazelnuts.
  6. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until risen and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  7. Cool in the tin for a few minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

The filling and topping:

  1. Spoon the mascarpone into a bowl. Add the vanilla and icing sugar (you might want a little more, to taste) and beat together. Set aside.
  2. Finely chop or give the hazelnuts a quick blitz with a hand blender.
  3. Tip them into a small, dry frying pan and toast over a medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant – careful, they burn quickly. Set aside to cool.
  4. Carefully cut your cake in half.
  5. Spread the bottom half of the cake with a thick layer of the dulce de leche or caramel, followed by half of the mascarpone.
  6. Sandwich the top on and spread the remaining mascarpone over the top and sides of the cake.
  7. Swirl the remaining caramel over the surface and add the toasted hazelnuts to finish.
This recipe was first featured on the wonderful, much-missed Domestic Sluttery. 

Friday Cake Time: Marmite Cake

Marmite Cake © Laura Madeleine
When I was born, my sister Lucy was so disgusted by the idea of a baby sister that she stopped speaking for an entire year. Ok, she was only two. Impressive stubbornness, even then. Anyway,  since she wouldn’t speak, every morning, my mum had to do an identity parade of condiments to find out what Lucy wanted on her toast. She would point at the shelf, and read out what was there: “Jam? Peanut Butter? Marmite?” The last one would always get a frantic nodding. Hardly surprising then, that I said my first word at breakfast-time one day. Can you guess? Yep. Not “Mum” or “Dad” but “Marmite”.
This cake’s a celebration of the great, brown, yeasty stuff. I love it. Especially with cheese and melted butter. Be still my heart.  It’s a savoury cake, before any of you run away screaming, and that makes it great for picnics.


Marmite Cake

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30-40 minutes 

You’ll need:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 200g mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 125ml olive oil
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon plain yoghurt
  • 1 (large) tsp Marmite
  • Large pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
For the topping:
  • 20g butter, melted
  • 2 tsp Marmite

Make it!

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and lightly grease a 20cm round cake tin. (A silicon one works well for this).
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add 150g of the cheese and stir to combine. (Save the rest of the cheese for the top later).
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs until very frothy and gradually add the olive oil, milk, yoghurt, and Marmite, whisking well. Season with the salt and black pepper, if you like.
  4. Add the egg to the flour mixture in batches, stirring to combine.
  5. Scoop into the cake tin and smooth out evenly, the sprinkle the top with the rest of the grated cheese.
  6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cheese is golden and the cake feels firm.
  7. Cool in the tin for a few minutes.
The topping:
  1. Melt the butter and Marmite together in a small saucepan.
  2. Whilst the cake is still warm, poke holes in the top with a skewer and drizzle over the melted butter-Marmite mixture.
  3. Serve with LARGE SLICES OF CHEDDAR and revel in glorious Marmiteyness…

This recipe was first featured on the wonderful, much-missed Domestic Sluttery. 

Friday Cake Time: Gin and Tonic Cake

Gin and Tonic CakeYes, you heard me. Gin and Tonic. In a cake. I am unapologetic.

Actually, this cake contains no real gin (stop sighing in disappointment, you can drink the gin while you eat the cake) so it’s fine for non-drinkers and drinkers alike.

Instead, it’s a happy sponge meeting of juniper and bitter lemon. It’s good with a cup of tea, or with… oh, go on, crack open the Bombay Sapphire.

Gin & Tonic Cake

You will need:
For the cake:
  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp dried juniper berries
  • 60ml milk
For the bitter lemon syrup:
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 50ml bitter lemon or tonic water, if you’re in a fix
  • Zest and juice 1/2 a lemon
  • Icing sugar, to decorate
Make it!
The cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Grease and line a 23cm, 9 inch deep cake tin.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.
  4. Add a quarter of the eggs, along with a tablespoon of the flour and beat well. Repeat with rest of the eggs, beating well in between.
  5. Add the rest of the flour in thirds, folding in lightly in between until it is just incorporated and no streaks are showing.
  6. Crush the juniper berries in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Place in a pan with the milk and heat until it comes to a gentle simmer.
  7. Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl and set aside to cool for a moment.
  8. When cool, stir gently into the cake mixture.
  9. Dollop into the tin, smooth over the top and bake for around 30 minutes, or until it’s golden and risen, and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
The syrup:
  1. Place the sugar, bitter lemon, lemon juice and zest in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to a simmer and reduce over a medium heat until the consistency thickens. BE CAREFUL because hot sugar is HOT.
  3. When the cake is out of the oven, prick holes all over the surface with a skewer and spoon on the sugar syrup so that it soaks in. Dust with icing sugar and leave for a few minutes before turning out of the tin and leaving to cool on a wire rack.
  4. Decorate with a little more icing sugar, lemon zest and eat as a side to your favourite gin-based beverage.

This recipe was first featured on the much-loved, much-missed Domestic Sluttery.

Friday Cake Time: Orange Blossom & Honey Polenta Cake

© Laura Madeleine

I love this cake. It’s bright, cheery, sweet and comforting all at once. AND it keeps well in a tin, getting better over the course of a few days. It’s also easy to adapt to suit tastes and needs. No nuts for you? Leave them out. Dairy free? Easy. Gluten free? No problem.

Orange Blossom & Honey Polenta Cake

You will need:

For the cake:
  • 200g butter, softened (or dairy-free spread, if you’re non-lactose)
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 150g polenta (fine cornmeal)
  • 50g ground almonds (if you’re nut free, you can use 200g polenta instead!)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (gluten free, if you are too)
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 2 tsp orange blossom extract
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange

For the syrup:

  • Juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 1-2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 2 tsp orange blossom extract
Make it!
The cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 165C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 20cm baking tin. (Just grease it if you’re using a silicone one).
  2. Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Measure the polenta, almonds (if using) and baking powder into a separate bowl.
  4. Beat the eggs in a jug, together with the orange blossom extract and honey.
  5. Add a third of the polenta mixture to the butter mixture, along with a third of the eggs and stir gently to combine. Repeat twice more with the remaining ingredients.
  6. Stir in the orange zest and 2 tbsp of the juice.
  7. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, until the top is golden-brown and a skewer pushed into the middle and held there for a few seconds comes out clean.
  8. Place on a wire-rack and leave to cool in the tin.

The syrup:

  1. Whilst the cake is cooking, put the remaining juice in a saucepan along with the icing sugar and orange blossom extract. (You may want to add more or less to taste).
  2. Simmer over a low heat for 3-4 minutes until the liquid has reduced slightly.
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Use a skewer to poke holes in the top of the cooling cake. Spoon the syrup over the top, making sure to cover the whole cake evenly.
  5. Decorate with zest from the second orange, and a drizzle of honey. (I put some jasmine flowers on mine as well, because why shouldn’t you, eh?)

This recipe was first featured on the much-loved, much-missed Domestic Sluttery.

Friday Cake Time: Chocolate Chilli Fondant Puddings

Chocolate Fondant PuddingsAs we all know from Masterchef, there is no sorrow like an over-baked fondant pudding. The moment you break the cake surface with that spoon, and glorious, warm melted chocolate oozes out… Cue the drooling.

If you ever want to knock something impressive up for someone, these are a) pretty darn foolproof, even if you’re not that into baking, and b) they don’t take long to cook, so you can take the opportunity to perform that six minute, solo interpretive dance routine you’ve been wanting to try out on your guests. They won’t run away, because they’re aware of imminent pudding.

Chocolate Chilli Fondant Puddings (makes 6)

You will need:

  • 300g good quality dark chocolate
  • 75g butter, diced
  • 75g muscovado sugar
  • 5 free-range eggs, beaten
  • 40g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp of a likely booze (I used dark rum but cointreau or similar would work too)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Make it!
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / Gas Mark 6. Grease 6 ramekins.
  2. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a large pyrex bowl or similar set over a pan of simmering water. (Try not to let the water touch the bottom of the bowl).
  3. When the chocolate is melted, tip in the butter, sugar, eggs and flour and whisk well until combined.
  4. Stir in the rum and cayenne.
  5. Spoon the mixture evenly into the ramekins and sprinkle with a little more sugar.
  6. Place on a baking tray and bake for 9-10 minutes, until beginning to rise. The puddings should be cooked into a thin, cakey layer on the outside concealing devilish, molten chocolate within.
  7. Serve immediately, with ice cream and champagne and try not to drool so much, it’s unbecoming.
P.S. you can prepare up to step 5 in advance: just cover and chill until ready to use, then add an extra 2-3 minutes to the cooking time, allowing you to slip into something more comfortable… (a hooded onesie, OBVIOUSLY).
This recipe was first featured on the much-missed, much loved, Domestic Sluttery.