Gluten-free orange drizzle cake (and a 2nd birthday)

Slice of gluten-free orange drizzle cake
Happy Birthday to me! Well, not me really, but my wee blog is turning two. How time flies. While I celebrate with a large wedge of cake (more on that in a second), let me extend a heart-felt thank you to everybody who visits my little piece of the internet. Thank you to my friends and family who still show enthusiasm for new posts, to old friends who have messaged to tell me how much they enjoyed a particular recipe, to strangers on the other side of the world who share their thoughts, and to my other half who puts up with me insisting on taking 20 pictures of our plates before he can start his dinner (although, he does get to eat all these recipes, so it’s not exactly a terrible deal…).

This week’s recipe was inspired by two different people. The first was a lovely friend who came for dinner last Wednesday and who can’t eat gluten (like, seriously, not just one of these “oh eating a loaf of bread makes me bloated”…tell me something I don’t know); so I needed a completely gluten-free pudding. To me this shouldn’t be a prerequisite to a pudding that isn’t sweet and squidgy and indulgent. Or, more importantly, it shouldn’t mean no cake.

In my quest to find a great gluten-free cake recipe I came across an old folder with an assortment of allergy-friendly baking recipes. Years ago, just after I left high school, I worked with a guy, Paul, who had severe allergies not only to gluten, but also eggs, nuts and legumes. Yup. I’m pretty sure he lived off potatoes, meat and cheese. Although, on second thoughts, that doesn’t sound too bad… Anyway, an allergy to gluten, eggs and nuts makes for an incredibly tricky baking challenge. This folder I found was a collection of various recipes, which (if memory serves correctly) I amalgamated into a few Paul-friendly bakes so that he could get in on the afternoon treats that everyone else in the office got to indulge in. Of course, poor Paul couldn’t have actually eaten this particular recipe because of the eggs and nuts, but in that folder I found a gluten-free lemon cake recipe (I have no idea where I copied it down from I’m afraid!) which used polenta and ground almonds instead of flour. I’ve changed up the lemons for oranges, since it is the season for juicy, sweet oranges and I seem to be developing a theme of orange-flavoured recipes on birthday blogs. I tweaked a few other parts of the recipe and added an orange drizzle topping. This cake is gorgeous: it’s super moist, strong with orange and has a satisfying sugary crunch on top. In fact, there is no reason to save this recipe just for coeliacs, so don’t be put off by the gluten-free billing: everyone deserves a slice of this action!

One year ago:
Orange and milk-chocolate celebration cakes

Two years ago:
No-knead cardamom and cinnamon buns
Ingredients for gluten-free orange drizzle cake
Ingredients
250g butter, softened plus a little extra to grease the cake tin
250g vanilla sugar* or caster sugar
3 large eggs
100g polenta
250g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
2 oranges
60g icing sugar

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas Mark 3. Grease a 23cm cake tin with a little butter and line the bottom with a circle of baking parchment.
2. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Butter and vanilla sugar
Creamed butter and vanilla sugar
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between each addition.
Adding eggs to creamed butter and vanilla sugar
Beating eggs into the creamed butter and vanilla sugar
4. Add the polenta, ground almonds and baking powder and mix to combine.
Adding polenta, ground almonds and baking powder to the cake mixture
Gluten-free orange drizzle cake mixture
5. Zest both the oranges and juice one. Add the zest and juice to the cake mixture and stir again to evenly distribute.
Adding orange zest and juice to the cake mixture
Gluten-free orange drizzle cake mixture and lines cake tin
6. Spoon the mixture into your cake tin and flatten the top as well as you can using the back of a spoon.
Gluten-free orange drizzle cake ready to bake
7. Bake for 1 hour until the cake has risen, the top is a dark golden colour and a skewer comes out clean from the centre. If you’re concerned about the cake browning too much then cover the top loosely with foil about half way through baking.
Gluten-free orange cake after baking
8. Put the cake, still in its tin, on a wire rack. Make the drizzle topping by simply mixing the icing sugar with the juice from the second orange (you might not need all the juice, depending on how thick you’d like the topping to be).
Ingredients for orange drizzle topping
Orange drizzle topping
9. While the cake is still warm, prick lots of holes in it using a cake skewer. Pour over the drizzle topping and leave to cool fully in the tin.
Drizzle topping on gluten-free orange cake 1
This cake is best served the day you baked it, but it will keep for a couple more days in a tupperware tub. Serve with a little crème fraiche if you like.
Gluten-free orange drizzle cake 3
Gluten-free orange drizzle cake 4
* A quick word about vanilla sugar: I’m sure you can buy this in a large supermarket or fancy deli, but to make your own simply fill a tub or jar with sugar and add a split vanilla pod (I used one that I had removed the seeds from for another recipe). Seal, and use as and when you need!

Victoria sponge with fresh strawberries and cream

Victoria sponge cake with strawberries and cream
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again (and many times more): Scottish strawberries are the best strawberries. Despite the amount of moaning we do about our weather here, we are actually lucky enough to live in a country which happens to have the perfect strawberry-growing climate: long daylight hours during the summer, consistent temperatures that aren’t too scorching (see, it’s good for something!) and water, water everywhere. Right now we can get a kilo of Scottish strawberries for £3 in our local supermarket, which is the perfect excuse for over-indulging in the small, sweet treats until your finger tips are stained pink and your tummy is just a liiittle bit sore.

And this weekend is the perfect time to fit some strawberry-themed baking into your schedule, since it’s the Wimbledon finals. This cake is just a regular Victoria sponge, but it’s a handy little recipe to have under your belt, or up your sleeve, or in whatever metaphorical clothing garment you desire. It’s the simple rule of 200:200:200:4, which means 200g of butter to 200g of sugar to 200g of flour and 4 eggs, and it works perfectly every time. A Victoria sponge is often sandwiched together with jam and butter cream icing, which is lovely too, but I think fresh strawberries and double cream are called for during the summer. And without horribly jinxing the outcome of tonight’s semi-final, maybe your Scottish strawberry cake will have a particularly patriotic connotation come Sunday afternoon…

One year ago:
Strawberry and vanilla muffins
Ingredients for Victoria sponge cake with strawberries and cream
Ingredients
200g soft butter, plus a little extra for greasing
200g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
300ml double cream
400g strawberries
Icing sugar for decoration

Method
1. Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/Gas Mark 5. Grease and flour 2 x 21cm cake tins.
Greased and lined 21cm cake tin
Or if, like me, you only have one cake tin this size then just bake the layers one at a time. Be ready to wash out the cake tin, and grease and line it quickly the second time, as you don’t want the wet cake batter to sit for too long – the raising agents begin to react as soon as they come in contact with the wet ingredients so should be baked as quickly as possible.

2. Place the butter and sugar into a large bowl and beat well to a light, fluffy consistency.
Soft butter and caster sugar
Creamed butter and caster sugar
3. Slowly beat in the eggs, one by one, and add the vanilla extract. A tip to avoid a split batter (where the mixture looks a little curdled) is to add a dessert spoon of the flour after both the first and third eggs.
Adding eggs to the butter and sugar
4. Sift the flour and baking powder and fold into the cake batter until well combined.
Sifting the flour and baking powder into the wet ingredients
Folding the dry ingredients into the wet mixture
Victoria sponge cake batter
5. Divide the mix evenly between the cake tins and bake for 20 minutes until they are golden brown. The sponge should spring back when gently pushed and a skewer pushed into the centre should come out clean.
Cake batter ready to be baked
6. Remove from the oven and allow the cakes to cool for 5 minutes in the tin. Then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
Cooling the sponge in the tin
Cooling the sponges on a wire rack
7. Whip the cream to soft peaks and prepare the strawberries by removing the stalks and cutting into thick slices.
Preparing the strawberries and double cream
8. Place the bottom layer of the cake (I usually pick the flatter sponge for this) onto the plate you want to present your cake on and arrange the strawberry slices into a thick layer.
Arranging the strawberries on the sponge cake
9. Carefully spread a generous layer of double cream on top of the strawberries.
Spreading the whipped double cream on the strawberries
10. Sandwich the top layer of the cake on top of the cream, pressing down firmly.
Sandwiching the second sponge layer 1
Sandwiching the second sponge layer 2
Dust the cake with icing sugar just before serving.
Dusting the Victoria sponge cake with icing sugar
This cake doesn’t really need to be served with anything, other than perhaps even more strawberries piled on top. And of course a cup of tea, or a glass of Pimms if you’re really doing things right, to wash it down with.
Slice of Victoria sponge cake with strawberries and cream Continue reading

Chocolate and red wine birthday cake

Decorating the chocolate and red wine celebration cake with rainbow sprinkles 1
The credit for this cake goes 100% to Deb from the Smitten Kitchen blog. This is one of my favourite food blogs out there, and when I saw her picture of this cake on Instagram a few weeks ago I knew straight away that I had to make it. Happily, it coincided with my other half’s birthday and with his only request for his cake being “chocolate, chocolate, chocolate” this seemed like it was the only and ideal solution.
Chocolate and red wine birthday cake with rainbow sprinkles
This cake was a complete success. Although it’s really all about the piles of sweet chocolatey buttercream on top, the sponge itself was delicious. It’s dense, almost like a brownie, but the overall effect is not too overwhelming as it’s a fairly thin sponge cut into small pieces. Instead of using buttermilk as in the original recipe, I went for Deb’s suggestion of substituting for red wine. On the day I baked it, we didn’t think the red wine flavour came through strongly, although it did add some much needed acidity to cut through the rich chocolate flavour, but on the second and third days after mellowing in the fridge you could definitely taste the red wine. If you’re baking this cake for little ones (it would be the perfect birthday cake for a kids party, and the quantities can easily be increased to make a larger cake) then just switch back to the buttermilk.
Ingredients for chocolate and red wine celebration cake
Ingredients (cuts into 12-16 small pieces)
85g softened butter
145g soft dark brown sugar
25g caster sugar
1 large egg, plus one large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
175ml red wine
40g cocoa powder
125g plain flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

55g dark chocolate
180g icing sugar
115g softened butter
Pinch of salt
1-2 tbsp whole milk or cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
Topping of your choice – I used rainbow chocolate beans from Sainsburys

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 175C/150C fan/Gas Mark 3. Grease a 20x20cm cake tin and line it with a square of baking parchment.
Greasing and lining a 20x20cm cake tin
2. Tip the soft butter and both dark and caster sugars into a large bowl.
Butter and two sugars to be creamed
Use a hand whisk to mix until the mixture is fluffy and turns lighter in colour.
Creamed butter and two sugars
3. Add the egg, yolk and vanilla extract and beat again until fully combined.
Adding one egg and one yolk to the creamed butter and sugars
Eggs, sugars and butter
4. Pour in the red wine and mix again. At this point I had a minor panic as the mixture looked split. However, Deb says in her original recipe “don’t worry if the batter looks uneven”, so I decided to put my full trust in her and continue. Sift the dry ingredients (cocoa powder, flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt) into the bowl and give one final mix to combine.
Sifting the dry ingredients into the wet cake mix
And lo and behold I had a smooth, unctuous cake batter. Never doubt the Smitten Kitchen.
Final chocolate and red wine cake mix
5. Pour the batter into your cake tin and smooth the top out with a palette knife or the back of a spoon.
Cake batter ready to be poured into the cake tin
Chocolate and red wine cake ready to be baked
6. Bake for 25 minutes until a skewer comes out the middle of the cake clean. Place the tin on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then turn the sponge out to cool completely.
Cooling the chocolate and red wine celebration cake in the tin
Turning the chocolate and red wine cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely
7. While the cake cools make the icing. Melt the dark chocolate in a bain-marie and then set aside to cool to room temperature. This is important, because if the chocolate is still hot when you add it to the buttercream then it will melt the butter and ruin your icing.
Melting dark chocolat in a bain marie
Melted dark chocolate for the icing
8. Whisk the butter and icing sugar together until very light and fluffy. Don’t skimp on the time you give to this step as this is what gives the frosting a gorgeous texture.
Butter and icing sugar to make the frosting
Whipped butter and icing sugar for the chocolate frosting
9. Add the melted chocolate, salt, milk or cream and vanilla extract and whip again for 5 minutes until well combined.
Adding dark chocolate to the buttercream icing
10. Carefully move the sponge onto your serving plate or board and pile the frosting in the middle of the cake.
Chocolate buttercream icing piled on to the chocolate sponge
Using a palette knife or the back of a butter knife spread the chocolate buttercream over the cake. Start in the middle and push the icing towards the edge of the cake, swirling as you go.
Spreading the chocolate buttercream onto the chocolate sponge
Spreading the chocolate frosting onto the chocolate sponge
11. Finally, liberally sprinkle your cake with the topping of your choice. Don’t hold back: chocolate sprinkles, flakes, buttons, popping candy are all more than acceptable here.
Decorating the chocolate and red wine celebration cake with rainbow sprinkles 2
Decorating the chocolate and red wine celebration cake with rainbow sprinkles
The cake will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days, and longer in the fridge – after the first day the texture of the sponge became even fudgier. This recipe really is chocolate heaven.
Chocolate and red wine birthday cake with rainbow sprinkles 2

Orange and milk-chocolate celebration cakes (and a 1st birthday)

Valentines orange and milk chocolate celebration cakes
Today is my little blog’s first birthday and I want to take the opportunity to say a huge, heartfelt thank-you thank-you thank-you to each and every one of you. Whether you’ve been with me from the start of my blogging journey or you’ve just stumbled upon this site today, I massively appreciate you taking the time to visit. Blogging has been a lot more work than I first expected, as each post takes a surprisingly long time to create, from finding old recipes or developing a new one to photographing every step of the cooking to editing the photos and writing up the recipe. But I love it, and it’s even more rewarding when I get messages out of the blue from old friends who have tried a recipe and enjoyed it, or even from people I have never met who have travelled to my site across the ether of the internet. Since starting this blog I’ve had nearly 14,000 hits, with by far the most popular recipes being my slow-cooked BBQ pulled pork tagine, rosemary and garlic slow-cooked lamb shanks and slow-cooked pork belly with crackling (anyone spot a theme there…?). My mum’s magical banana bread recipe is also a favourite, and definitely the recipe that friends have told me they have baked the most (so feel free to take all the credit here mum!). However there are a grand total of 58 separate recipe posts on the blog so far to choose from so dive on in to discover more.

On to today’s business, it seemed only fitting to celebrate a birthday with a cake. Orange season is in full swing and in fact one of my very first recipes a year ago was my Bells of St Clement’s Cake. This time we’re being a bit more dainty and a lot more cutesy with our cake-making – it is Valentine’s Day tomorrow after all. When baking this recipe I would advise you to use the best quality marmalade that you can find. I used this jar:
Homemade Seville orange marmalade
of my parents’ new batch of homemade marmalade. It has a punchy bitter orange flavour which is balanced well with the sweet milk chocolate. Of course you don’t need to use heart-shaped cutters, but sometimes kitsch baking is the order of the day, especially when there’s an excuse to be celebrating…
Ingredients for orange and milk chocolate celebration cakes
Ingredients (makes 5 individual cakes)
200g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
200g very soft butter
200g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
Zest of 1 orange

100ml double or whipping cream
1 tbsp icing sugar
5 tsp marmalade
100g milk chocolate

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Grease a 20x20cm cake tin with a little butter and line it with baking parchment. A handy tip is to leave a little excess paper hanging over two opposite sides, so that lifting the cake out of the tin once it’s baked is easy breezy.
Greasing and lining a 20x20cm cake tin
2. Sift (or stir with a whisk if you’re lazy like me!) the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
Whisking the flour and baking powder
3. Add all the other cake ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs and orange zest) and whisk using an electric hand whisk or mixer until smooth.
Cake mixture ingredients for the all-in-one method
Orange flavoured cake batter
4. Spoon the cake batter into the tin and level with a knife or the back of a spoon. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer comes out the middle of the cake clean. Remove from the tin and place on a wire rack for a couple of hours to cool completely.
Cake mixture ready to be baked
5. Trim the top off the sponge so that it’s level and use a heart-shaped biscuit cutter to cut out five small cakes.
Cooled and trimmed sponge ready to be cut
Cutting out heart-shaped cakes
6. Whip the cream and icing sugar together until it forms loose peaks.
Preparing to create the orange and milk chocolate celebration cakes
7. Halve each cake.
Halving the heart-shaped sponges
Pop a teaspoon of marmalade onto the bottom piece and spread out to the edges.
Adding a teaspoon of homemade marmalade
Spreading the homemade marmalade
Add a generous dollop of cream in the middle and place the tops back on, pressing down gently.
Adding a large spoon of whipped cream
Sandwiching the cakes
8. Melt the milk chocolate in a bain marie and drizzle over the cakes.
Melting milk chocolate for cake decorations
You can use a piping bag with a small, round nozzle, but if you don’t have one then you can spoon the melted chocolate into a freezer bag, push it all down to one corner and snip a little hole in the corner with a pair of scissors: voila! Homemade piping bag.
Orange and milk chocolate celebration cakes
Allow the chocolate to cool and then serve to your loved ones, or scoff by yourself while watching repeats of Friends and wearing the comfiest pyjamas you own. It’s Valentine’s Day, and if you can’t treat yourself on Valentine’s Day then when can you!
Blog birthday orange and milk chocolate celebration cakes

Upside-down plum cake

Upside down plum cake served with creme fraiche
This was a bit of an experimental recipe, which turned out to be absolutely gorgeous (forgive me if I blow my own trumpet on this one, but it really was a scrumptious cake: light, moist, rich, sweet and spicy). Obviously the idea comes from a pineapple upside-down cake, which has become to be regarded as somewhat of a retro cake that would fit in at a 70s themed dinner party along with prawn cocktail, cheese fondue and duck a l’orange. Now I don’t mind telling you: that sounds like a great menu to me, “retro” or not. With plums still in season they seemed like the obvious fruit choice, and they work well with festive spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. A simple vanilla sponge cake recipe made using the all-in-one method was all that was needed to top (or bottom, depending on which way round you look at it…) the fruit.

I do have a confession to make about the execution of this recipe, which will demonstrate how things in my kitchen don’t always go so smoothly (as if you needed that after mayonnaise-gate). The oven was at temperature, the cake was layered in the tin and I popped it into the oven with great anticipation. Less than five minutes later acrid black smoke was billowing from the oven as a little of the sugar and butter mixture (and presumably some juice from the plums) oozed out the bottom of the cake tin and hit the hot oven floor. At the speed of lightning I whipped the tin out, onto a baking tray and back into the oven, to prevent it getting worse. Luckily, neither the opening of the oven door at the start of baking or the smoke seemed to affect the quality of the cake in the end. SO, if anyone has any bright ideas about how to prevent this from happening do leave a comment below! For now, my advice would be to put the cake tin on a baking tray from the start or perhaps to use a cake tin that doesn’t have a loose bottom (though in this case I would grease the tin extremely well as it may be more difficult to turn out).
Ingredients for upside down plum cake
Ingredients
50g softened butter, plus extra for greasing
50g light soft brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ fresh nutmeg, grated
1 tsp vanilla extract
6-8 ripe plums

200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
200g pain flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease a 21-23cm cake tin generously with butter.
2. Cream together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla until smooth and well combined.
Butter and sugar for creaming
Creamed butter and sugar
3. Cut the plums in half and remove the stones.
Halved plums
4. Spread the creamed butter and sugar onto the bottom of the cake tin and push the plums into the mixture, cut side down. Pack the plums tightly together – you may need to cut the final one into more than halves in order to fill all the gaps.
Top layer of the upside down plum cake
Plums pushed into the creamed butter and sugar
5. Place the ingredients for the sponge (butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla and eggs) into a large bowl. Using an electric whisk beat together the ingredients until everything is incorporated and you have an incredibly light, fluffy mix.
Ingredients for the all-in-one method
All in one method sponge mix
6. Spoon the sponge mixture on top of the plums and spread evenly. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out the middle of the cake clean and the sponge springs back to the touch. Leave the cake to cool slightly before turning out.
Pouring the sponge mix into the cake tin
Upside down plum cake ready to be baked
When you are ready to serve, gently release the cake from the tin. Place your serving plate on top of the sponge and flip the cake in one brave move.
Upside down spiced plum cake with vanilla sponge
Cut at the table so everything can admire the beautiful pattern and colour of the plums on top.
Upside down spiced plum cake with vanilla sponge
As this is a very sweet and spiced cake, I would recommend serving it with a dollop of crème fraîche or natural yogurt. Enjoy!
Slice of upside down plum cake with creme fraiche

Peter Rabbit’s Party Cake

Carrot cake for afternoon teaThis recipe comes from my very lovely Auntie Rosie. My mum has had a hand-written copy tucked away in a folder for years, and it’s really the only go-to carrot cake recipe that you need. It’s very lightly spiced with cinnamon and comes out the oven dense, but deliciously moist thanks to the carrots and apples. A light, fluffy Victoria sponge can be absolute perfection, but sometimes your cravings call for a richer cake, one with the caramel flavour of brown sugar, the softness of cooked fruits and vegetables and small bursts of fudgy raisins throughout. The sourness of the icing on top helps to balance the sweet sponge. It’s a simple cream cheese affair, flavoured with lemon juice and, my own personal addition, orange zest.
Ingredients for homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
Ingredients
115g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
250g carrots, peeled and grated
2 apples, peeled and grated
170g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
200g flour
7 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
115g raisins
3 tbsp milk

60g icing sugar
250g cream cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice
Zest of 1 orange

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 160C fan/180C/Gas Mark 4 and grease a 20cm cake tin with a little butter.
2. Melt the butter and mix with the olive oil.
Melted butter mixed with olive oil for carrot cake
3. Mix the fats with the sugar, eggs, and grated carrots and apples.
Mixed wet ingredients
4. Sieve the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt) and fold into the wet mix.
Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting 1
Adding the dry ingredients to the wet mixture for carrot cake
Carrot cake batter after mixing wet and dry ingredients
5. Add the milk and raisins to the cake mixture and stir well.
Adding milk and raisins to the carrot cake batter
6. Spoon the cake mixture into the cake tin and bake for about an hour until a skewer comes out the middle of the cake clean.
Pouring the carrot cake batter into the cake tin
Carrot cake ready for baking
7. Turn the cake out and leave to cool while you make the icing.
Baked carrot cake
Cooled carrot cake ready for icing
8. To make the icing simply beat together the icing sugar, cream cheese, lemon juice and orange zest. Keep in the fridge until you are ready to ice the cake.
Mixing the cream cheese icing
9. Once the sponge is completely cool, spoon the cream cheese frosting onto the cake and spread evenly. Leave like this, or decorate in whatever way takes your fancy: I dotted some orange food colouring gel around the top of the cake and then used a skewer to swirl it through the icing.
Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
This carrot cake doesn’t need any extras, like cream, on the side whether it’s served up mid-afternoon or for pudding. All you need is a generous wedge of cake, and perhaps a cup of tea.
Homemade carrot cake
Thanks for the fabulous recipe Auntie Rosie! x

Chocolate and Raspberry Loaf Cake

Raspberry and chocolate loaf cake
There are some food combinations that just undeniably work: tomato and basil, salmon and dill, goats cheese and figs, lamb and mint, and so it goes on. In my books, chocolate and fruit are one of these matches made in heaven. I’ve been seeing punnets of really plump, dark raspberries in the shops lately and find them utterly irresistible. After a fruitful (seewhatIdidthere) trip to the greengrocers on Sunday morning, I spent Sunday afternoon whipping up some treats for an afternoon tea catch-up with some of my very favourite ladies. Of course there had to be chocolate included in the spread somewhere, and so the chocolate-raspberry loaf was born.

If raspberries aren’t really to your taste (although we may have to have a little falling out if this is the case) or if you can’t get your paws on any, then this recipe would definitely be easy to adapt. Try candied orange peel folded through the sponge mix and orange zest in the icing. Or dried cherries and a splash of Kirsch. Or freeze-dried strawberries in the sponge and strawberry puree whisked through the icing. If the idea of fruit anywhere near your chocolate is an insult, then just leave the offending ingredients out for an unadulterated chocolate hit. A table spoon or two of cocoa powder in the icing might be more up your street. Whatever you decide, the underlying recipe is ridiculously easy – we’re using the “all-in-one” method where all the ingredients are whisked together in one go. No creaming, no risk of egg-curdling, no sifting. Convinced? Ready, set, let’s go!
Ingredients for chocolate and raspberry loaf cake
Ingredients
140g butter, softened
180g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
3 tsp baking powder
200g caster sugar
3 large eggs
6 tbsp milk
3 tbsp freeze-dried raspberries

125g butter, softened
250g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
100g fresh raspberries

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 160C fan/180C/gas Mark 4. Butter a loaf tin and line with baking parchment. Leaving some excess paper hanging over the long sides makes it easier to lift the cake out after baking.
Lining a loaf tin with baking parchment
2. Place the butter, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, caster sugar, eggs and milk in a large bowl. Using a hand whisk or wooden spoon mix the ingredients together for a few minutes until they are fully combined and the mixture has a light, aerated texture.
The all-in-one method for making a raspberry chocolate loaf
Chocolate loaf cake mix
3. Gently fold the freeze-dried raspberries through the cake batter. Try not to over-mix as you will lose some of the air that you whisked in at the previous step.
Folding in the freeze-dried raspberries to the chocolate cake mix
Chocolate and raspberry loaf cake mix
4. Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin and smooth flat with the back of a spoon.
Filling the loaf tin with chocolate and raspberry cake mix
5. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the cake is dark brown and a knife or cake tester comes out the centre of the cake clean. Lift out of the loaf tin and place on a wire rack to cool.
Cooling the chocolate and raspberry loaf cake on a wire rack
6. Whisk the softened butter together with the icing sugar for 5 minutes. A good tip here is to cover the bowl with a large tea towel to stop every surface in your kitchen becoming dusted in powdered sugar.
Ingredients for raspberry buttercream icing
7. Add the vanilla extract and milk, and continue whisking for a few more minutes. Finally add the fresh raspberries and whisk until evenly combined.
Adding vanilla to the buttercream icing
Adding fresh raspberries to the butter cream icing
Raspberry buttercream icing
Raspberry buttercream icing
8. Ice the top of the cooled loaf with a generous layer of raspberry icing.
Iced raspberry and chocolate loaf cake
This cake is super light and fluffy in texture, and the icing is a perfect mix of butter-icing sweetness and sharp raspberry flavour. It is at its peak eaten on the day of baking, but will keep well for another couple of days in an airtight container. Serve with tea or a large glass of ice-cold milk. Lovely.