The complexity involved in putting together a beautiful, wholesome, delicious meal requires an understanding of the food and ingredients being used. There must be balance and everything on the plate should complement one another.

Women are complex beings, we have so many layers that make us who we are, yet we are expected to look beautiful, be in the best moods, say the right things and be perfect at everything. In reality, a lot of women “mask” their true persona behind a façade…..not a sustainable way to live by any means.

 Like a great meal, women should be free to be themselves, be comfortable in their own skin and free to be accepted just as they are.

Today’s recipes will focus on the beauty of naked cakes. Think shabby chic, elegant yummines….yes I know…..that’s a lot of paradoxes but when you try these recipes, I know that you will come round.

The Classic White cake:
This cake is simple and unpretentious with mild hints of vanilla and almond it envelops you in its subtle fluffiness. It’s quit easy to throw together too.  You can find full directions here

To garnish you can use some whipped cream and any assortment of preferred fruits or chocolate scattered over the top.

   
   NOTE: You may opt to halve the recipe and make just one cake.

Orange Syrup Cake

This baked yummy appears to be plain but is packed with flavour and texture. This dense moist cake will pair well with a generous scoop of ice cream or can be enjoyed on its own. Addiction alert: Be sure not be left alone with this cake! Find the full guide for making this cake here

NOTE: If you have orange syrup to hand already, then like I did, you may decide to skip making the candied oranges and use fresh oranges to garnish your cake.

   
   Let’s take a walk on the spicy side, shall we? How about a Spiced Apple Caramel Cake? Dense, dark, moist and riveting, it will be way to Hoover this cake unaided! You have been warned, follow this recipe and adjust the quantities accordingly. Omit the butter cream frosting, drizzle salted caramel over the cake and voila!

   
 
Chocolate, Rum and lemon cakes are not to be left out. Great recipes for these can be found here, here and here.

   
   

   
 

   

 These cakes are distinct, bold, gorgeous and delicious. They are not fussy in how they are presented but remain true to what they are.

Enjoy unmasking the inner cake in you.

There are only so many ways to make cakes, or so I thought. I’d like to clear up a small detail though; I have no pastry making training nor am I am authority. Also, I am not big on sweet pastry, I tend more towards the savory end of the spectrum. Having said that there a few cakes that have stood out; by now I think half the planet is conversant with my lemon poppy seed cake obssession.

During a recent internet trawl, I found two recipes that literally called out to me. Helped by the fact that I had all the ingredients to hand I could not rest until I made them. And thus began my night time baking sessions.

Both recipes were so simple that I wondered why they weren’t more popular……or maybe I move in the wrong cake circles. The first was a recipe for a blueberry lemon poke cake, From my post, “When life throws You a Lemon” you will quickly realise that I approve of anything that has lemons in it and even more so when paired with blueberries but on this occasion, I didn’t have blueberries. However, I had a freezer full of raspberries and in the spirit of giving things a twist, I decided to make it a two berry cake! So I filled it with raspberry coulis and topped it with fresh strawberries.

Here’s what you will need. 

Ingredients For the White Cake 

2¼ cups cake flour 

1 Tablespoon baking powder 

½ tsp salt 

1¼ cups buttermilk, at room temperature 

4 extra large egg whites, at room temperature 

1½ cups granulated sugar 

8 Tablespoons (4-ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature 

1 vanilla bean or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence 

 For the coulis
Please read my post on how to make a raspberry coulis. And for the Frosting
I used store bought cream cheese frosting. 1 carton strawberries was sufficient for the garnish 

 The “How To”

Preheat the oven to180 degrees Celcius. Butter and flour a 9 x 13-inch baking pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites.
In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until they are light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Split the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and add it in; scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue beating. 

Add flour mixture in portions still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk-egg mixture, beating continuously to get an even mix, then add the rest of the dry ingredients.
Beat batter for a couple of minutes to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool completely in pan on a wire rack, at least one hour.

Here’s why it s called a poke cake; using a fork poke holes in the cake (the cake should have plenty of poked holes).

Carefully pour your cooled raspberry coulis into the holes; it helps if you use a cup that had a spout. Then spread the cream cheese topping evenly over cake and place fresh strawberries on top for garnish. 

 Store this cake covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

This delightsome treat did not make it back to the refrigerator it all but disappeared on the table. There just seemed to be something magical about the raspberry soaked cake and the black flecks of vanilla that made us want to eat more of it.

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Note: if you don’t have came flour don’t panic, you can make your own. All you need is all purpose flour and corn flour. Measure out a cup of all purpose flour then take out two table spoons (put them back in the flour pack) and replace with two tablespoons of corn flour. Do this until you have the desired quantity for the recipe. The sift the flour mix in a large bowl and sift again into another bowl, do this 4 – 5 times. This helps to mix the flour through properly and to aerate the mix. There! Cake flour!

A day later, barely over the guilt of eating so much cake, I found another amazing recipe on David Lebovitz site.

When I read his recipe, there was no doubt in my mind that I would make it. Not only did it sound decadent, I just happened to have every single ingredient in my kitchen! I didn’t have to scamper off to find one ingredient or the other. In fact, I had a big jar of orange syrup idling away in my refrigerator!

I did not attempt to tweak or personalise this recipe, I followed it to the letter and I had no regrets! It turned out perfectly! My husband and I dubbed it “Burst if Sunshine” because that is exactly what it was.

We shared it with friends, hubby took a huge chunk to work and everyone who ate it was mesmerized. You absolutely must try it!

You an find the recipe here

Well, now that I think of it, I made a tiny adjustment to the recipe. Since I already had orange syrup, I did not go through the process of candying my oranges and opted to use fresh slices instead as a garnish.

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To be frank, nothing stops you from trying something new. These cakes are amazing but yet so easy to put together. Surprise yourself and your friends today. All it takes is a little effort. 

FFF Tip of the Day: Reasons to make fruit Sauces and Syrup 

1. Fruit sauces or coulis and syrups are wonderful to make ahead and can save so much time if you do. 

 2. They are also a great way to preserve fruits especially when they are in season and you have tonnes! 

 3. They make an excellent addition most desserts and even breakfast meals. 

4. They are easy to make and require no great technical ability. 

 Need I say more? 🙂

There aren’t that many fruits that are so versatile that they are pretty to look at, great to cook with, fabulous garnishes, and even excellent for cleaning. The lemon is one of those wholesome food items and I went to town with them this weekend.

I follow two amazing food blogs; Eat litle bird and The Patterned Plate, the women behind these blogs are nothing short of amazing and they are a source of inspiration for me and my food lab escapades. I was trawling their blogs (I am actually a permanent resident on both blogs but let’s keep that to ourselves shall we?) last week when I found some amazing recipes for lemon based cakes and treats.

In the last week, I have churned out 4 blueberry and lemon cakes, a batch of lemon drizzle friands, a batch of candied lemons and an amazing jar of fragrant lemon syrup.

Lemon cake and friands trio

These recipes are surprisingly easy to make and deliver such a wonderful eating experience that they are definitely worth making!

Without further a do, the recipe for Blueberry and Lemon Cake!

Ingredients

  • 150g butter, melted
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 140ml creme fraiche (I used butter milk)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 125g fresh blueberries

“The How To”
Pre-heat oven to 160°C.  Butter and lightly flour an 8 inch round cake pan or 9×5 inch loaf tin.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Add creme fraiche, lemon zest and vanilla essence and mix until well combined.

Gently fold through plain flour and baking powder. Then carefully fold in the blueberries.
Spoon the mixture into your preferred cake tin and bake for about an hour or until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in the cake tin for 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Dust with some icing sugar and enjoy!

Blueberry and Lemon Cake cutBlueberry and lemon cake slice preferredThe lemon friands are also fuss free once you have all the ingredients. I couldn’t find ground almonds anywhere so I made mine by blitzing chopped almonds in my food processor.

lemon friands

Recipe

  • 160g unsalted butter, melted, cooled, plus extra to brush
  • 2/3 cup (100g) plain flour, plus extra to dust
  • 1 2/3 cups (250g) icing sugar, plus extra to dust
  • 1 cup (125g) ground almonds
  • 6 egg whites
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus extra to serve (optional)

Lemon drizzle icing

  • 1 1/2 cups (225g) icing sugar, sifted
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon

 “The How To”

Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush a 12-hole friand pan or muffin pan with a little melted butter, then dust with a little flour, shaking out excess.

Sift the flour and sugar into a large bowl, then stir in the almond meal.

Place egg whites in a small bowl and lightly froth with a fork, then add to the flour mixture with the melted butter and lemon zest, stirring to combine.

Divide batter among friand/muffin holes, filling to two-thirds full. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, for the lemon icing, place the icing sugar and zest in a bowl, then stir in enough juice to make a soft runny icing.

Drizzle lemon icing over the cooled cakes and allow to set, top with candied lemon slices and garnish with extra lemon zest.

Lemon drizzled friands bittenAfter zesting all those lemons I couldn’t bear to let them go to waste so I made candied lemons to top the friands. I also ended up with the most fragrant lemon syrup.

Recipe for candied lemons

  • 2 lemons
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup water

“The How To”

Cut lemons into 1/8-inch-thick rounds using a mandolin or sharp knife; discard seeds. Stir together sugar, lemon juice, and water in a large skillet over medium heat until sugar is dissolved; about 4 minutes.

Add lemon slices, and simmer gently, keeping slices in a single layer and turning occasionally, 30 – 40 minutes or until slightly translucent and rinds are softened.

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Remove from heat. Place slices in a single layer on a wax paper lined tray, using tongs. Cool completely (about 1 hour).

Lemon drizzled friands on cake stand2The responses that I have received from these recipes have been wonderful. The lemon friands were a major hit with hubby and even the boys got in on the action (I had to hold back so they wouldn’t bounce off the walls with the sugar topping and all).

Baking these treats left my home smelling fresh and fragrant; it was truly a beautiful experience.

So next time life throws you a lemon, make lemon drizzle friands, blueberry lemon cake, candied lemons and lemon syrup!

TIP OF THE DAY:

You can use lemons to deordorise your fridge. Cut a lemon in half, put some salt on it and put it at the back of your fridge. It will absorb all those odd odours that fridges tend to harbour! Don’t you just love this fruit?