Cake Week – Let’s Bake! –Okay, summer’s officially over apparently, but we can at least take comfort from the fact that as the schools go back for a new year, September also heralds Cake Week (5-11 September). This is a rather smart initiative by the same clever team that invented Chocolate Week, now well established in the culinary calendar. Cake Week has announced a jam-packed week of celebrations, launches and specials, with brands such as Hotel Chocolat, Lily Vanilli, Cutter & Squidge and Rosalind Miller Cakes marking the UK’s sweetest seven days. Its aim is to promote cake to UK consumers, encouraging them to support their local bakeries, bake at home and eat more cake! Whether it’s coffee and walnut, lemon drizzle or something more adventurous, there’s something for everyone to get a taste of Cake Week this September. For more information visit cakeweek.co.uk. Add to this the fact that a new series of Great British Bake Off starts on September 13 there should be no stopping you from wielding that wooden spoon or hot-footing it to the nearest bakery.
And, perfectly timed for you, I have news of a fabulous new cookbook called Jane’s Patisserie Celebrate! From bestselling author Jane Dunn, the book is packed with simple bakes, flavours and iconic treats to make every day special (and don’t we all need that at the moment!). It’s published by Ebury Press, at £20 for a lovely hardback. Jane has an enviable number of followers on Facebook and Instagram (talking of which, please follow me @theseasonedgastronome) and this new book has a recipe for every occasion, featuring her trademark twists on classic flavours, customisable ideas and added sparkle. With 70 new and exclusive recipes requested by her followers, along with some popular classics from her blog, and with a photo for every recipe, this book has everything you need to treat yourself and others.
To whet your appetite and inspire you, here’s a recipe for Eton Mess Cake, just in time to catch the last of those delicious fresh strawberries, but in true Jane fashion, she also gives tips to adapt it for year-round enjoyment.
Eton Mess Cake
“During the summer months I still crave cake, but I usually want something light and easy to make and this is the perfect celebration bake. Eton Mess in cake form is something that’s hard to dislike! The sponges are studded with strawberries to bring some moisture to the cake and it has a wonderful airy texture. Add freshly whipped cream, crushed meringues and some jam and you have the ultimate dessert. If you want to mix it up a little, use a different flavour jam, or even a different berry in the cake.”
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan and line three 20cm
springform cake tins with parchment paper.
Add the butter, sugar, flour and eggs to a large bowl and beat until the mixture is smooth. Divide the mixture evenly between the three tins. Lay the strawberries on the tops of the cakes
Put the cakes into the oven and bake for 25–30 minutes. The strawberries create more moisture in the cake batter, so it can sometimes take a little longer to bake. Keep an eye on the sponges – a cocktail stick or skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes should come out clean when the cakes are ready.
Leave to cool in the tins for about 30 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully.
In a large bowl, whip the double cream with the icing sugar to form soft peaks.
Spread a tablespoon or two of jam onto the first cooled sponge, and crush over some meringue. Spoon over one-third of the whipped cream and spread as evenly as possible. Add the second sponge layer and repeat. Finally, add the third sponge layer and slather on the remaining cream. Add the fresh strawberries, crumble over the remaining crushed meringue, and garnish with a sprinkling of freeze-dried strawberries.
You may have gathered if you previously made my Peanut Butter Jelly Blondies (page 136) that I am obsessed with all things ‘blondie’ and these Cinnamon Blondies hit the spot. With my first book and my blog, I was inspired by the ideas that my followers gave me and these have been one of the most highly requested bakes ever, so I had to include them here! An easy blondie batter flavoured with ground cinnamon and stuffed full of white chocolate chips, topped with a cinnamon-flavoured white chocolate drizzle; what could possibly be better? The warmth of the cinnamon makes this ideal for serving on bonfire night or even into the festive period. If you want to try a different spice such as ground ginger, go for it.
Prep: 20 minutes, Bake: 25–30 minutes, Cool: 3+ hours, Lasts: 4–5+ days, at room temperature
200g unsalted butter, melted
250g soft light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
275g plain flour
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp cornflour
300g white chocolate chips
75g white chocolate, melted
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan and line a 23cm square tin with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, add the melted butter and the sugar and beat until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat again until smooth. Add the flour, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and the cornflour and beat until thick. Add the chocolate chips and fold through.
Pour the mixture into the tin and spread out evenly. Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until there is a slight wobble in the middle. Leave to cool in the tin. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
Once the blondies have set, carefully mix the melted white chocolate and the remaining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon together. Drizzle over the blondies and return to the fridge to chill and set. Cut into squares with a sharp knife and enjoy!
The Seasoned Gastronome
Recipe extracts from Jane’s Patisserie Celebrate! by Jane Dunn (Ebury Press, £20)