Chocolate Layer Cake

Always a classic, whatever the time of year, this yummy recipe from the Dairy Book of Home Cookery looks and tastes too good to pass up…

Serves 8-10

Ingredients
110g (4oz) self-raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
110g (4oz) butter
110g (4oz) caster sugar
25g (1oz) golden syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 tsp milk
200ml (7floz) double cream, whipped
Grated chocolate to decorate

Method

  1. Grease and line a deep 20.5cm (8in) round cake tin.
  2. Sift flour twice with cocoa.
  3. Cream butter, sugar, syrup and vanilla together until very pale in colour, light in texture and fluffy.
  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tbsp of sifted dry ingredients with each one.
  5. Fold in milk and remaining dry ingredients with a metal spoon.
  6. Transfer to prepared tin and smooth top with a knife.
  7. Bake at 180°C (350°F) Mark 4 for 35-40 minutes, or until a wooden cocktail stick, inserted into centre of cake, comes out clean.
  8. Turn out on to a wire rack, strip off paper and leave until cool.
  9. Cut cake into two or three layers.
  10. Fill and cover top with double cream, whipped until thick, or butter cream.

Courgette, Walnut & Cinnamon Layer Cake

So bear with me, this sounds a bit wrong, courgette in a cake, but after the success of beetroot cake, why not give this a go… at worst at least you are getting one of your 5 a day!

You will need three 20cm diameter loose-bottomed sandwich tins.
Serves 10-12

Ingredients:
3 large eggs
300ml sunflower oil
300g soft light brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence
300g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
300g peeled and grated courgettes
100g walnuts, roughly chopped, plus 10-12 extra halves (caramelised if you wish) to decorate

For the frosting
240g unsalted butter, softened
1½ tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra for dusting
750g icing sugar
75g plain Greek yoghurt

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees/gas mark 3, and line the bases of the sandwich tins with baking parchment.
  2. Using a hand-held electric whisk or a free standing electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the eggs, sunflower oil, sugar and vanilla essence until they are all combined.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and the ground spices. With the mixer or electric whisk running on a low speed, add these to the eggs, sugar and sunflower oil in two batches, beating well after each addition until all the ingredients are incorporated. Lastly, add the courgettes and chopped walnuts to the batter, mixing them in thoroughly.
  4. Divide the cake batter evenly between the three prepared cake tins and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden on top and springy to the touch.
  5. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for a few minutes before carefully turning them out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting. Mix together the butter, cinnamon and icing sugar using the electric whisk or free standing mixer with the paddle attachment. Keep mixing until the butter is fully incorporated and the mixture is sandy in consistency.
  7. Add the yoghurt and mix on a low speed until the ingredients are combined, then increase the speed and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  8. Once the cake layers have fully cooled, place the first layer of sponge on a plate or cake card and top with three to four tablespoons of the frosting, smoothing it out using a palette knife and adding a little more if needed.
  9. Sandwich the second layer of cake on top and add another three to four tablespoons of the frosting, then add the final layer and use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake.
  10. To finish, you can make a swirled pattern in the frosting using the tip of your palette knife. Dust with a little ground cinnamon and decorate with walnut halves, caramelised if you wish.
Recipe from Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days by Tarek Malouf and the Hummingbird bakers, published by Collins (£20), Also http://bit.ly/nXhSgG.