One of my New Year’s aspirations is to expand my cake repertoire. Over recent years, my baking has become a bit lacklustre and I have often fallen back on the same trusted favourites. I love baking but find it mystifying – sometimes I can make exactly the same things and they don’t work at all. Anyway, a Sunday afternoon making a cake and listening to podcast or audiobook can’t be beaten in my book.

My 2016 baking progress so far:

      1. Spiced Carrot, Pistachio & Almond (gf): This is a gorgeous cake from Persiana which is fast becoming a favourite cookbook. It is moist, fun to make and most importantly good to eat. Perfect for tea or to make as a pudding, I’m keen to try it again and add the Rosewater cream suggested in the book. I would happily make this again in a flash.
        Verdict: 8/10.
      2. Pain aux Raisin – cheat version: I made these from a kit from the supermarket so they don’t really count. I found them fun to make but too sweet for my liking.
        Verdict: 4/10
      3. Snickerdoodle Apple Bread: This is a Cookie and Cups recipe and once I got my head round working in cups worked really well. It is easy to make and very tasty. I added double the amount of apples because we like fruit in our household and it worked well. It is a great everyday cake, cheap to make and lasts a long time. It doesn’t look very presentable but the cinnamon sugar gives it a lovely crunch.
        Verdict: 8/10.
      4. Pistachio and Raspberries Brownies (v, gf): From Anna Jones’ A Modern Way to CookSadly these were a complete baking fail and I was so disappointed as I had been excited to make them. I think I must have undercooked them because they ended up in a gooey horrible mess that you had to eat with a spoon. While quite tasty, it was a bit cloying in texture and although my family valiantly tried to eat them in the end they were binned. I made them using chia seeds for the first time which I found gave them a sort of odd texture – I think perhaps I should have ground them up first. They were also very expensive to add further insult to the whole experience.  The coconut sugar made them quite oily as well.
        Verdict: 1/10
      5. Lemon and Thyme (not quite a) Bundt cake: Nigella is the queen of baking as far as I’m concerned and find her recipes work brilliantly. This is from her latest book, Simply Nigella, which has three bundt cakes. It is a bit fiddly because she relies on you having a fixed fancy mixer but well worth it. I made it in a square tin slightly larger than she suggested and only baked it for an hour. It made a huge pyramid cake but it has a lovely texture. I would prefer a bit more flavour in it – I used lemon thyme rather than thyme and I think it didn’t provide as much contrast as I would have liked. Next time, I will put more in. The topping is delicious and I would definitely try making this again.
        Verdict: 7/10


I want to have a crack at making madeleines next.

What are your fail-safe cake recipes? What should I try next?

12 Responses to Adventures in cake: sprucing up my baking in 2016

  1. Cat says:

    I recommend the Waitrose madeleine recipe (available online). My cake of the month so far is blood orange drizzle cake, adapted from Nigella’s lemon syrup (aka drizzle) cake recipe. So good if you can get hold of decent blood oranges!

    Happy baking!

  2. Susanne says:

    Dear Lara,
    What to bake next?
    I suggest “waves of the Danube” or “Donauwellen”, a german cake with a base of marble cake with baked in bottled morello cherries, topped with butter cream or a mixture of cream and custard and a chocolate topping.
    Lovely moist, good for feeding many people and not difficult at all.
    Love your blog!!
    Love, Susanne

    • Lara says:

      Thanks Susanne, that is great to hear! I have never heard of a Donauwellen cake but it sounds delicious so I will definitely try it! Lara x

  3. Helen says:

    Some mighty fine looking cakes there! Shame the Anna Jones recipe didn’t work out after I raved about her book :-(. I must admit, her sweet recipes haven’t appealed to me at all but her savoury ones have fast become staples here. For your next trick, might I suggest the Honey & Co Baking Book?

    • Lara says:

      Don’t worry – there are lots of other lovely things in her book. I might give them another go with amended ingredients, I suspect part of the problem is my lack of knowledge about chia seeds! Sort of had a frogspawn like texture. *shudder*

      Honey & Co looks gorgeous and I didn’t know about them at all so will definitely try some of their lovely looking cakes. Lx

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