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Queen of cakes
7:00am Saturday 16th March 2013 in Lifestyle
Don't just bake for big celebrations - make homemade puds part of your everyday life, says Delia Smith. Keeley Bolger picks three recipes from Delia's Cakes to help kick-start your baking.
By Keeley Bolger
Some turn to therapy in times of need. Others phone their friends. But for queen of the kitchen Delia Smith, there's only one proven way to lift the blues - cake.
A hefty wedge of cake may not chase your woes away, but football fan Delia reckons the cheap and satisfying process of baking a cake is a great mood lifter. With this in mind, she has brought out a special edition of Delia's Cakes to mark the 35th anniversary of the release of her Book Of Cakes.
Delia's Cakes will include some trusty favourites like old-fashioned cherry cake and coffee and walnut cake, as well as some new recipes. And 90% of the recipes can now be made using gluten-free alternatives.
"The whole affair from start to finish is about supreme unadulterated pleasure," writes Delia of baking. "Or as someone once said, when you offer homemade cake to anyone, it never fails to put a smile on their face.
"Actually setting about making a cake, allowing your creative powers to come into play, knowing all those smiles that await you, has a kind of hidden social agenda - it's cheaper than therapy and much more pleasurable."
In these tough times, Delia believes that rather than reaching for shop-bought sweets it's more important than ever to put on our pinnies, crack out our cake tins and begin baking.
"If I might put a positive spin on our current climate of austerity, what homemade cakes have got going for them is that they provide you with something really luxurious at very little cost," she writes.
"A chain coffee-house muffin circa 2013 can cost six or seven times as much as a vastly superior homemade version."
So with Delia's encouragement ringing in your ears, it's time to tackle one of these tasty treats. Both the passion fruit and orange cake and the dark Jamaican gingerbread are new recipes, while the double lemon drizzle cake is an old classic.
Essential kit: :: For the Jamaican gingerbread, you will need a Silverwood loaf tin (or a standard 2lb loaf tin), lined with a 2lb traditional loaf tin liner.
:: For the fresh orange and passion fruit cake, you will need two 18cm by 4cm sponge tins, lightly buttered and bases lined, plus two wire cooling trays.
:: For the double lemon drizzle cake, you will need a 20cm loose-based round cake tin, greased and base lined :: For much information, visit www.deliaonline.com Dark Jamaican gingerbread 175g plain flour, sifted 1tbsp ground ginger 1tsp ground cinnamon ¼ nutmeg, grated ½tsp bicarbonate of soda 2tbsp milk 75g black treacle 75g golden syrup 75g dark brown soft sugar 75g block butter 1 large egg, lightly beaten Pre-heat the oven to 170°C, gas mark 3.
Begin by placing the tin of black treacle (without a lid) in a saucepan of barely simmering water to warm it and make it easier to measure. Sift the flour and spices into a large bowl, then mix the bicarbonate of soda with the milk and set it on one side. Now measure the black treacle, golden syrup, sugar and butter into a saucepan with 75ml of water, heat and gently stir until thoroughly melted and blended - don't let it come anywhere near the boil and don't go off and leave it!
Next add the syrup mixture to the flour and spices, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon, and when the mixture is smooth, beat in the egg a little at a time, followed by the bicarbonate of soda and milk. Now pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on a lower shelf so that the top of the tin is aligned with the centre of the oven for 1¼-1½ hours until it's well-risen and firm to the touch.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out. If possible, store it in a cake tin, still in its lining, for 24 hours before eating, and serve it cut in thick slices spread with butter.
Fresh orange & passion fruit cake 115g self-raising flour 1tsp baking powder 115g spreadable butter 2 large eggs 115g golden caster sugar Zest of 1 large orange 1tbsp orange juice For the filling: 2 ripe passion fruits 250g mascarpone 1tbsp golden caster sugar 1tsp vanilla extract 3tbsp orange juice A little icing sugar, sifted (to finish) Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC, gas mark 3.
First sift the flour and baking powder into a roomy mixing bowl, lifting the sieve quite high to give the flour a good airing as it goes down. Then add the butter, eggs and caster sugar and, using an electric hand whisk, mix to a smooth, creamy consistency for about one minute. After that, using a tablespoon, fold the orange zest and 1 tablespoon of orange juice into the mixture.
Divide the mixture between the two prepared tins, level off using the back of a tablespoon and bake near the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes. The cakes are cooked when you press lightly with your little finger and the centre springs back. Remove them from the oven and after about 30 seconds loosen the edges by sliding a palette knife all round then turn them out onto a wire cooling tray. Now carefully peel back the lining by first making a fold and gently pulling it back. Lightly place the other cooling tray on top and just flip them both over so that the tops are facing upwards (this is to prevent them sticking to the cooling tray).
To make the filling, slice the passion fruits into halves, then take a small bowl and a teaspoon and scoop out all the flesh and seeds into it. In another (larger) bowl combine the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons of orange juice. Then add two thirds of the passion fruit juice and seeds, and stir them in as evenly as possible.
Spread this mixture over one of the sponges, then make some indentations with a teaspoon all over and spoon the rest of the passion fruit into them. Then place the other cake on top, press it gently so the filling oozes out a little at the edges and dust the surface of the cake with sifted icing sugar just before serving. Store in a polythene box in the fridge.
Double lemon drizzle cake with poppy seeds 175g self-raising flour 1tsp baking powder 175g spreadable butter 175g golden caster sugar 3 large eggs Grated zest of 3 large lemons Juice of 1 large lemon 40g poppy seeds For the syrup: Juice of 3 large lemons Grated zest of 1 large lemon 50g golden icing sugar, sifted 100g golden granulated sugar To finish: 1tbsp golden granulated sugar, mixed with 1tsp poppy seeds Pre-heat the oven to 170°C, gas mark 3.
Start off by sifting the flour and baking powder into a roomy mixing bowl, holding the sieve quite high to give the flour a good airing as it goes down. Then add the butter, sugar, eggs, lemon zest and juice and finally the poppy seeds. Now, using an electric hand whisk, mix to a smooth creamy consistency for about one minute. Spoon the mixture into the tin, levelling it with the back of the spoon, and bake near the centre of the oven for 40 minutes or until the centre feels springy.
When the cake is ready, remove the tin from the oven to a board, then straight away mix together the syrup ingredients. Next stab the cake all over with a skewer and spoon the syrup evenly over the hot cake, then finally sprinkle with the sugar and poppy seed mixture. After that the cake needs to cool in its tin before it can be removed and stored in an airtight container.