We’re now into our fifth collective week of lockdown. Having had a ski season cut short by corona, my boyfriend and I had to travel home a month early from France, and thought it was best to isolate for a couple weeks before moving back in with his parents – so we’re now into our seventh week of lockdown. Instead of going into the doom and gloom of our current predicament, I thought I’d put together 10 of my all-time favourite cake recipes, including a few I’ve made even naughtier over the past 6 weeks! Some are super easy to get a grip on, and others a little harder for if you’re feeling a little more adventurous – it’s not like we don’t have plenty of time on our hands! So for those of you who aren’t key workers, whether a complete beginner or someone a little more experienced, here are my favourite baking recipes for lockdown. Have a crack, and let me know how you get on!
Salted Caramel Millionaire Shortbreads
Essentially a Mary Berry recipe, I can’t take the credit for this one. However, I will take the credit for switching up a couple things to make them even more luxurious – the salted part is me, as is the copious amounts of brown sugar. So if you feel like something rich this one is for you! Mary says you can get 24 squares out of this recipe – I alternatively managed to get 12 silly sized squares…
Shortbread: 250g plain flour, 75g soft light brown sugar, 175g softened butter
Caramel: 100g butter, 100g dark muscavado sugar, 2x 397g cans condensed milk, pinch of salt (to taste)
Topping: 200g milk chocolate, 50g white chocolate
Oven: 180 degrees C. Grease a 23 x 33cm swiss roll tin.
Shortbread: mix flour and light brown sugar. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mix resmebles fine breadcrumbs.
Knead mix together until it forms a dough, then press into the base of the tin. Prick lightly with a fork and bake for 15-20 minutes until firm to the touch and lightly browned.
Caramel: melt the butter and dark muscavado sugar in a pan, then add the condensed milk, constantly stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, then let simmer for 5 minutes or until the mix has thickened. Never stop stirring. At the end, add a pinch of salt and taste / adjust accordingly. Pour over the shortbread and let cool.
Topping: Break the milk and white chocolate into little pieces and either melt in a bain-marie, or pop it in the microwave, checking every 10 seconds and stirring each time until melted. Pour over the caramel and leave to set. Cut either 12 of 24 squares out of the tin depending on how self-indulgent you’re feeling…
Guinness Cake – ‘Monday’s Cake!’
This yummy recipe is all thanks to head chef and boss Mary of Jack & Jill Holidays. It is divine, delicious, and very very decadent. Mary and Jamie actually had this as their wedding cake, and I have already told Harry I want it for mine. Considering he used to eat a good couple of slices every Monday if the guests left any I think it’s safe to say this one is a firm favourite in our house! We had some Irish guests stay with us early on in the season, and they thought I’d made the cake in honour of their heritage, and whilst I desperately wanted to say I had, I definitely hadn’t, and it baffles me how this cake isn’t better known or in every baking bible you can get your hands on. To taste this cake after a day skiing in the stunning French Alps I couldn’t recommend staying with Jack & Jill enough! This recipe features amongst their afternoon tea recipes every winter by popular demand of all their lovely repeat guests. Serves 15.
Cake: 313ml Guinness, 313g unsalted butter, 94g cocoa powder, 500g caster sugar, 178ml crème fraiche, 3 large eggs, 1.5tbsp vanilla extract, 344g plain flour, 3tsp bicarbonate of soda
Whipped Icing: 375g cream cheese, 188g icing sugar, 157ml cream, grated chocolate to finish.
Oven: 180 degrees C. Butter and line a 30cm springform tin.
Cake: Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter – in spoons or slices – and heat until the butter has melted then whisk in the cocoa and sugar.
Beat the crème fraiche with the eggs and vanilla, then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan, and finally whisk in the flour and bicarbonate of soda.
Pour the mixture into the greased, lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.
When the cake’s cold, sit it on a flat plate and start the icing.
Whipped icing: Whip the cream cheese, icing sugar, and cream together. Once it’s a spreadable consistency, go ahead and spread on top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of a Guinness! Then grate some chocolate over the top to finish and you’re good to go.
Spiced Almond Loaf with a Maple Glaze
Now for one which I can take FULL credit for! I gave this a go as a complete experiment, and really had very little faith in myself, but oh my goodness gracious me did it come off. Not to toot my own trumpet, but… TOOT TOOT! So if you like a spiced cake, that’s super rich and very sugary, I highly recommend. This is definitely one for a rainy day, and potentially after a nice walk to enjoy with a steaming cup of tea or coffee, just to set the scene for you. It’s a bit of a sticky toffee pudding type vibe, so if you enjoy that, you’ll enjoy this! Serves 8-10 slices.
Cake: 175g butter, 175g soft light brown sugar, 135g self-raising flour, 40g ground almonds, 1tsp cinnamon, 1tsp ginger, ½ tsp nutmeg, a drop of almond essence, ½ tsp baking powder, 3 eggs.
Glaze: Maple syrup, 100g light brown soft sugar.
Oven: 180 degrees C. Grease and line the base of a 1.2 litre loaf tin.
Cake: All in one method. 40-45min in the oven – or until a skewer comes out clean.
Glaze: Combine maple syrup and sugar, and pop in microwave to loosen. Once the cake is out, pour over whilst it’s still hot.
Leave for 5 mins then take out of loaf tin.
Carrot, Raisin & Candied Pecan Cake
This recipe comes mainly from BBC Good Food with a few of my own switches just based on personal preference. You can whack 50g of your choice of nuts (walnuts will probably work best) into the mix if you fancy that, so feel free to try out a couple of your own preferences! From the cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest to the candied pecans and cream cheese icing, this cake oozes flavour. This recipe will serve 10-12.
Cake: 235ml vegetable oil, plus extra for the tin, 100g natural yoghurt, 4 large eggs, 1.5 tsp vanilla extract, 0.5 an orange – zested, 265g self-raising flour, 335g light muscavado sugar, 2.5 tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ fresh nutmeg – finely grated, 265g carrots – grated, 100g sultanas or raisins.
Icing / Topping: 100g slightly salted butter, 300g icing sugar, 100g full fat cream cheese, 50g pecans, 1 tbsp water, 2 tbsp sugar
Oven: 180 degrees C. Oil and line 2x 20cm cake tins.
Cake: Whisk the oil, yoghurts, eggs, vanilla and zest in a jug.
Mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg with a pinch of salt in a bowl.
Squeeze any lumps of sugar through your fingers, shaking the bowl a few times to bring the lumps to the surface.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry, along with the carrots and raisins. Combine.
Divide between the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes / until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins.
Icing: To make the icing, beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Add half the cream cheese and beat, then add the other half when smooth.
Topping: Combine the sugar and water in a pan on a very low heat, then drop in the pecans and once covered, remove and leave to cool.
Once the cake has completely cooled, ice both sponges, and finish with the candied pecans.
Jaffa Drizzle Loaf
Now for another super easy recipe, an all in one method cake, super quick and super yummy. Chocolate and orange really is a match made in heaven, and one of my all-time favourite combinations and features in another one of my top 10 recipes! This one serves 8-10 slices.
Cake: 140g butter, 200g self-raising flour, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, 200g golden caster sugar, 3 large eggs, 6 tbsp milk, finley grated zest and juice of 2 small oranges or 1 large.
Topping: 3 tbsp orange juice, 50g dark chocolate.
Oven: 80 degrees C. Grease and line the base of a 1.2 litre loaf tin.
Cake: Chuck all the cake ingredients in together and beat. Pour mixture into the loaf tin. Bake for 40-50min – until a skewer comes out clean.
Topping: Heat orange juice and sugar until dissolved then pour over the hot cake. Melt chocolate and drizzle over finished cake and leave to set.
Coffee & Almond Cake with a Coffee & Caramel Buttercream Icing
I made this one for Mother’s Day this year after my Mum going on, and on, and ON, dropping constant hints that that was what she’d like me to make her. Originally a coffee cake with coffee icing, I thought it needed a bit of sprucing up, hence the introduction of the almond and caramel. Surprisingly, another all in one method, I promise my next cake will test your brains and baking skills a little more. If almonds and caramel aren’t your thing you could use the same quantities, but try these alternatives – Coffee and Walnut (blitz the walnuts in a tbsp of water, tbsp soft brown light sugar and icing sugar until thick enough for icing); Coffee and Cinnamon (1.5tsp cinnamon in the cake), or to make any of these even more special, sprinkle the icing with smashed up biscoff biscuits! Serves 8.
Cake: 170g caster sugar, 170g butter, 3 large eggs, 150g self-raising flour, 20g ground almonds (if doing one of the alternate recipes, put in 20g self-raising flour instead of almonds to make up the quantities), 1.5 tsp baking powder, 1tbsp dissolved instant coffee.
Icing: 250g icing sugar, 100g butter, 1.5tbsp dissolved instant coffee, 2 tbsp caramel.
Oven: 160 degrees C. Line and grease 2 x 18cm sandwich tins.
Cake: All in one method. Fold in the baking powder last and gently. 25-30min in oven or until a skewer comes out clean.
Icing: Beat all icing ingredients together. When cake has cooled ice both sponges. Sieve over either icing sugar, or grate some chocolate over the top to finish.
Myrtille Berry Bakewell Tart – ‘Tuesday’s Cake!’
Another one from the mountains. It’s always great to have something a little different to try and this could be it! I even managed to convince Harry’s Mum who was highly opposed to the idea of having almonds incorporated into her afternoon tea dining experience. So even if you think, this one might not be for you, definitely give it a go, you’ll surprise yourself, I promise. Make sure to follow the recipe meticulously and you should be golden! Serves 15.
Tart: Pack of shortcrust pastry, Myrtille Berry Jam, 225g butter, 225g caster sugar, 120g ground almonds, 120g self-raising flour, 4 eggs, 1 tsp almond extract.
Topping: Handful of flaked almonds, 1 tbsp apricot jam, 2 tbsp water.
Oven: 180 degrees C. Line 23cm flan tin and roll in pastry, prick with a fork and blind bake for 15 minutes.
Frangipane: Once baked on the bottom and slightly browned (remember it’s going back in!), generously coat pastry with Myrtille Berry Jam. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add the eggs, almond extract, the self-raising flour and ground almonds. Fold together and pour into pastry case, on top of the jam. Spread as evenly as possible.
Topping: In a microwave, combine the apricot jam and water, heat until thin, and spread over the top of frangipane. Sprinkle with flaked almonds. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes.
Dark Chocolate Orange Brownies
Last, but definitely not least of the lovely recipes I came upon whilst in France are the Dark Chocolate Orange Brownies. I did say I was a lover of the chocolate/ orange combination… In that spirit I did add extra orange zest to this recipe; I feel that’s what gives these brownies their wow factor, therefore I believe the orange is absolutely ESSENTIAL to them being so great! Of course, if you’re not a fan of oranges, they can always be left out; I just prefer the tanginess to go with all that rich chocolatey goodness! This recipe will again serve around 15 people, depending on how big you want to cut your squares.
Brownies: 370g of (good cooking) dark chocolate broken into pieces, 370g butter, 550g sugar, a pinch of salt, 6 eggs, 170g plain flour, 80g cocoa powder, zest of 2 oranges and juice of 1, plus extra zest to decorate.
Oven: 180 degrees C, grease and line a 23cm square baking tin.
Brownies: Melt butter and chocolate together over a bain-marie.
Whisk eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy in a seperate bowl. Once the choclate has cooled, add to the eggs and sugar and mix until combined. Sift the flour and cocoa into the mixture. Add the orange zest and juice and fold in. Bake in the oven until it’s stopped wobbling in the middle and a skewer comes out clean – 35 – 45 minutes.
Leave to cool completely, and then slice into squares, dust with icing sugar and more orange zest to finish.
Who doesn’t love a lemon drizzle? I’m always a little reluctant to make this one, just because it requires no brain power or skill at all and I love my spiced cakes and experimenting with my flavours. That said, whenever I do make this one, it lasts about an hour because we all want to have at least 2 slices on the trot. This one is quick, easy, and great for beginners and you’re absolutely guaranteed to have everyone in your house singing your praises – the less of you the better – not quite so many fights over how many slices each person has managed to get their greedy little hands on! Serves 8 – 10 slices.
Cake: 3 eggs, 175g caster sugar, 175g self-raising flour, 175g butter, zest of 1 lemon, ¾ tsp baking powder.
Drizzle: Juice of 1 lemon, 100g caster sugar.
Oven: 180 degrees C. Grease and line the base of a 1.2 litre loaf tin.
Cake: All in one method. 40min in the oven (loaf tin), or until a skewer comes out clean.
Drizzle: Combine juice of 1 lemon and 100g caster sugar. Prick loaf with a cocktail stick whilst hot, and pour over the drizzle. Leave to cool in tin, then remove and slice on in!
Finally, we have the Victoria Sponge! This one needs no introduction, other than to say it not only tastes good but it’s SO easy to make, my classic all in one method creeping back in for no.10 one last time. This will serve 8 people – ENJOY!
Cake: 225g softened butter, 225g caster sugar, 4 large eggs, 225g self-raising flour, 2 level tsp baking powder.
Filling / Topping: 4 tbsp strawberry or raspberry jam, a little caster sugar for sprinkling, 600g icing sugar, 300g unsalted butter, and a dash of vanilla extract.
Oven: 180 degrees C. Grease 2 x 20cm sandwich tins and line the base of each with baking parchment.
Cake: All in one method – beat the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and baking powder & divide the mixture between the 2 tins. Bake for about 25 minutes or until well risen and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins then turn out onto a wire rack and remove the baking parchment.
Filling / topping: Beat the icing sugar, butter and vanilla essence for the butter icing – add a tbsp of boiling water if it needs loosening.
When the cake is completely cool, spread one of the cakes with the jam, followed by the butter, sandwich the second cake on top and sprinkle with caster sugar to finish.