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? 🙂

I have never been keen on slaving over hot stoves, cookers, burners, hobs and ovens…….this includes hot pressing irons….which is why I am happy to pay to get my clothes ironed……but I digress….

A quick easy way to prepare meals is to use a variety of complementary spices in making the dish. Pilau rice is a fantastic example; it is big on flavour and requires minimum effort to throw together.

The spices I used in making it comprise of cloves, cardamon, pepper corns, cassia bark, cinnamon, cumin and dry coriander and ginger. Some mixes may include, chili and turmeric. It sounds like a lot but with balanced proportions these aromatic ingredients lend themselves beautifully to the dish.

In some parts of East Africa such as Tanzania, pilau is served only at special occasions like weddings. This so because spices like cloves are highly valued in that region and in fact are exported globally as cash crops.

Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice
2 cups chicken stock or water
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 onion
1 tbs pilau spice mix (ensure that all spices are represented)
1 tbs vegetable oil.
1/2 tsp crushed chili flakes or cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic
Salt to taste ( adjust quantity depending on stock or if using using plain water)

The “How To”

Using a shallow skillet wide frying pan ( that has a lid) heat the pan dry and then add your spice mix as well as the chili or cayenne. Toast them in the dry hot pan for about a minute; this “activates” the spices, releasing their oils and intensifying their flavours.
Next, add the vegetable oil and chopped onions, garlic and green pepper stir for about 2 minutes until the onions are translucent; be careful not to burn them. Add the rinsed basmati rice to the pan and coat it completely with the spice and onion mix.

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Pour in the stock/water, turn the heat down and put the lid on. Minimise opening the pan until,the rice is cooked. When it is cooked (between 15 – 20 minutes, depending on the quality of the rice) let it sit for a few extra minutes with a dish cloth over the pan, fluff with a fork before serving.

I was feeling extra lazy the day, I made this meal so it went with some grilled beef sausages and a coconut cream sauce.

For the sauce you need 50 grams of butter, 1 cup coconut milk, 1 tsp corn flour, 1 tsp black pepper and salt to taste.

Mix butter and corn flour in a sauce pan over medium heat until you have a roux. Then slowly add in the coconut milk stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. It is ready when you have a homogenous sauce that lightly coats the back of a spoon.

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When a dear friend and her daughter came round to lunch the other day, I was frazzled because the munchkins were running me ragged. My guests needed nourishment for their tummies.

Rice and fish came to mind but I wanted it to look like I made an effort. The result? Sunny bright saffron rice and lemony herby fish.

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Ingredients
For the fish
2 large white fish fillets (I used cod)
2 tbs herbed butter
1 lemon
1 1/2 Black pepper
1 1/2 cayenne pepper
1 tbs butter
3/4 tbs salt.

For Saffron Rice
2 cups Basmati rice
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 good pinch saffron threads
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbs butter (optional)
Salt (to taste)

The “How To”

Heat the oven to 175 degrees Celcius
Place the the fillets on a shopping board and pat them completely dry with a paper towel. You may halve them or leave them whole depending on your preferred portion size.

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Sprinkle the fillets liberally on both sides with black and cayenne pepper. Then carefully, and evenly season both sides with salt.

Line a roasting pan with foil ensuring that you have an over hang on the sides to allow to allow you wrap the fish up in a parcel as it cooks. Heat a skillet with the table spoon of butter and sear the fellows for about a minute on each side then transfer them to the roasting the pan and squeeze half a lemon over them. Place a couple of slices of lemon on them and distribute the herbed butter as well. Wrap them up and place in the oven. After 17 minutes take them out and leave them to rest for a further 5 minutes stilled wrapped.

For an accompanying sauce, use the recipe described above for the pilau rice but add the pan drippings to it to infuse with the lemon and herbs.

To make the saffron rice simply add all ingredients except the butter in a skillet, bring to a boil, put the lid on and simmer until the rice is cooked. Least the rice sit for a few minutes in the pot for a few minutes then add the butter and fluff with a fork.

I added a small salad to garnish the plate and cleanse our palates as we dined. It was essentially sliced cucumbers and tomatoes with a wasabi dressing (it’s purely optional).

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Dessert was a berry treat. In my next post I will share the recipe for the 2 berry poke cake that promptly vanished after lunch.

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It was a delightful day and I enjoyed playing hostess.

FFF tip of the Day

Instead of using better as set out in the recipes here, you could replace with olive oil for a healthier alternative. Even your fresh herbs can be preserved in olive. Simply place washed herbs in ice trays and pour oil oil over them. Freeze and use as desired.