Birthdays and odd combinations

On Thursday my mum’s partner Steve turned 60. On Saturday we are all trundling down to the Sussex countryside to celebrate, and I’m in charge of the cake!! I was to be quite honest a little excited, with no parameters other than its not to be decorated I could do anything. Well Steve is known for his love of unusual food combinations. One Easter we had a fantastic Mayan chilli chocolate cake in the shape of a Mayan temple. Last Christmas was every kind of local berry gin you could imagine. So inspired by the chilli and the fruit I decided I wanted to make a chilli chocolate cake but, as Steve doesn’t have a big sweet tooth, with some fruit in it. So googling away I came across this. I figured I could just adapt it to make it into a cake. Now I’m known a little for my kitchen disasters as much as my baking (tempura vegetables, a very desperate chocolate finger house cake using kinder chocolate, the list goes on) so having little time to practice I decided to make a mini version of the cake, as I went along in order to make sure it tasted great and worked out.

Mango Mousse

  • 4 cups Mango Puree
  • 2 each Thai Chili, split
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 12 Gelatin Sheets
  • 2 qt Heavy Cream

Mango Gel

  • 1 ¾ cup Mango Puree
  • ¾ cup Water
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 2 sheets Gelatin

Chocolate Cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

So following the recipe I made the cake on Thursday night. Mini cake alongside, and its tasted great, so far so good. I substituted buttermilk for yoghurt, as I can never find it in the supermarket, and I’m not sure they even have it in this country.

Preheat the oven to 165 Celsius. Butter a round deep cake tin with a removable bottom. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then the buttermilk and vanilla.  Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well blended but do not over mix. Scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool.

So Friday night came and time for the complicated bits. I followed the recipe for the Mango gel and mousse, simultaneously following another recipe for the instructions on how to make the mousse:

Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water.

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to the boil, simmer for 3-4 minutes and remove from the heat. Add the gelatin, which will dissolve immediately.

Peel and coarsely dice the mango and place in a liquidiser with the juice and zest of half orange. Reduce to a purée.

Place the cream in a large bowl and whisk to ribbon stage.

Add the syrup/gelatin and whisk in.

With a metal spoon, beat in the mango purée.

Layer mousse- about 1” inch thick and smooth out with rubber spatula. Pour room temperature gel. Make gel while cake is cooling so you can pour it over the mousse it a liquid state. Allow to set at least 2-4 hours. Best results if allowed to rest overnight.

And this is what I ended up with.


It survived a train journey to mums and being taken out of the cake tin, and although the topping did leak down the side of the cake a little, I was happy with it for a first try, and the verdict was YUM!



Crouching Tiger Hidden Zebra

20th August

Arriving home the other night I wandered into the lounge to find the housemate watching the TV as per usual. Distracted by his online poker he had left the TV on BBC and Lorraine Pascale’s Fast Fresh and Easy Food was starting. I sat transfixed for the next 30 mins, apparently breaking silence to mutter ‘ooo I could give that a go’ or ‘ooo we could have that for your leaving do’. But what inspired me the most was her ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Zebra’ cake, which I decided to make this week. The recipe wasn’t available online and I hadn’t thought to write it down, so I made a basic sponge cake recipe:


2 medium eggs

75g caster sugar

75g self-raising flour

Heat oven to 180ºC, 350ºF, Gas Mark 4. Grease an 18 cm (7 inch) cake tin.

I whizzed all this together in the food processer and poured it into a freezer bag and tied it at the end. I then made the mixture again but put on 65g of self-raising flour, and 10g of sifted cocoa powder in. Whizzed again and into another freezer bag.

This is where it gets messy, snip the corners of each freezer bag, and picking one colour, pipe a circle into the middle of the cake tin. Then using the other colour pipe another circle into that. Continue, alternating colours until the tin is full, you will probably have some mix left over. It should look like this:

Before the oven


Pop it in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Cool and eat. I added a layer of butter cream onto the top of the cake as I thought it was bit dry. The cake tasted good but was strangely bouncy; perhaps I will try with plain flour and baking powder next time.

A zebra in a cake?!

Poker food [face]

4th August Poker Food

Any social occasion and you will find me in the kitchen baking or cooking up a storm. The word guests seems to signal to me that this is an occasion to cook for a bunch of people, which takes the pressure off you having to eat it all yourself, after all I don’t want to spend my entire life in a zumba class. We were hosting the regular poker night round ours, and last time I had been accused of making food that wasn’t manly enough. So I quickly whipped up some classic cheese straws from the Be-ro cookbook, adding small chopped bits of fried bacon into half of the mix, to change it up a bit. No photos, I forgot and they were gobbled up so fast I lost the chance. I’ve been making them in various forms since I was about 6 and my Gran taught me how. She taught me most of what I see as staple family foods, Yorkshire puddings, cheese straws, flapjacks, and of course fruitcake. Everytime I visited my Gran as a student she would send me home with a fruitcake that would then last me the term. I’ve taking them camping, eaten them at the cinema, there is nothing more comforting than fruitcake, especially when just out of the oven mmm.  The recipe can be found on the be-ro website if you don’t have access to the 1970s original cookbook.

Anyway.Now that the manly food was out of the way I could concentrate on experimenting with some classics. The week before I had eaten an AMAZING flapjack at a hotel in Somerset, moist, chewy and packed full of dry fruit, it was divine. I wanted flapjacks. I followed this basic recipe found on BBC Food, and added in half a bag of Whitworths dried fruit. I made far too many, but the boys ate them during the week and I took some for my girlfriends on our Dorset mini break, so it went down well. Once again the recipe is a Lorraine Pascale, somewhat a theme for me at the moment, I am somewhat in awe of the woman.


  • 175g/6oz butter
  • 175g/6oz golden syrup
  • 175g/6oz muscovado sugar
  • 350g/12oz porridge oats
  • ½ lemon, finely grated zest
  • pinch ground ginger

 I also added nutmeg and dried fruit.

Preparation method

  • Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2 and line a 20cm/8in square baking tin with baking paper.
  • Melt the butter in a medium pan over a low heat. Dip a brush in the butter and brush the baking tin with a little bit of it. Add the golden syrup and sugar to the butter and heat gently. Once the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the porridge oats, lemon zest and ginger.
  • Pack the mixture into the baking tin and squash down. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
  • Once cooked, remove from the oven, leave to cool for 15 minutes, then turn out on to a chopping board and cut into squares.

Ta da! (i didn’t win at poker 😦 )