The revival of interest in baking has enticed people into the kitchens who might never have been seduced by a pot of stew or even a tagine. The Great British Bake Off had the whole country in a frenzy, apparently 14 million people watched one of the episodes, the biggest viewing figures after the royal wedding. Rachelâ€™s Bake and Cake TV series too had very impressive viewing numbers and the accompanying books have been reprinted many times.Â Farmers markets too have provided an outlet for home bakers to sell their creations and create some extra income and employment.
This coincides with a greater appreciation of homemade cakes rather than the perfect professional looking confections that look stunning but rarely deliver on flavour. Somehow, people now feel more confident if something doesn’t look too slick.
Recently, Rachel and I had a fun afternoon at the Kinsale Arts Festival. We were invited to judge the Come Home for your CakeÂ competition. We had the enviable task of tasting the 30 entries that Maggie Hogan and Ruth MacDonald had laid out in a square on four tables. It was a real â€˜wowâ€™ moment. Some cakes were simple, others elaborately iced and decorated like the two crinoline doll cakes embellished with fondant icing and glitter.
There were several versions of lemon drizzle cake in a variety of shapes and sizes, one delicious version included blueberries and had been cooked in a Swiss roll tin with lemon icing drizzled over the top.
There was also a variety of cheese cakes, several gluten free cakes and a Tarte Tatin. It was a tough chore to judge; the standard was fantastically good overall. After the judging, there was a question and answer session on baking and then we announced the prize winners. We decided the winner was an orange chiffon cake, Karen Ferguson from Bandon, who was anxious that we should know that the recipe was given to her by Lily Perrot, made the delicious, feather-like cake with a light orange icing.
She and the other winners kindly agreed that I could share their winning recipes with Irish Examiner readers.
Rachel and I decided to give another prize of lunch and afternoon demonstration at the Ballymaloe Cookery School for two people in the coeliac section. There were three delicious cakes, Chocolate and raspberry, Carrot cake and a Lemon drizzle. When we announced the winners, we discovered that the first two cakes were made by two sisters Grace (aged 10) and Cathy Hynes (aged 11). The rise in the number of coeliacs and those with wheat intolerance is extraordinary so people are always on the lookout for delicious recipes. My book on Healthy Gluten Free Food written in conjunction with Rosemary Kearney is published by Kyle Books and is now in its eighth printing. All the recipes are of course gluten free and also suitable for those with a wheat allergy.
Congratulations to all the bakers and special thanks for sharing. Such generosity of spirit is so important and itâ€™s always a delight to hear stories of people who not only share their recipes but also pass on their skills.
Gluten Free Chocolate and Raspberry Cake
10 year old Grace Hynes made this cake based on the original recipe for Chocolate Fudge Cake in Rachel Allenâ€™s book â€˜Cakeâ€™. She substituted ground almonds for flour and used 5 instead of 6 eggs and 200g instead of 250g of chocolate. The result was a moist and memorable gluten free chocolate cake. She decorated the top with fresh raspberries.
Serves 10 â€“ 12
200g (7oz) dark chocolate in drops or broken into pieces
225g (8oz) butter, plus extra for greasing
325g (11 Â½ oz) caster sugar
5 eggs separated
275g (10 oz) ground almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
225g (8oz) fresh raspberries
For the Icing
275g (10oz) icing sugar
100g (3 1/2 oz) cocoa powder
125g (4 Â½ oz) butter
175g (6oz) caster sugar
25cm (10in) diameter spring-form or loose bottomed cake tin with 6cm (2 Â½ in) sides.
Preheat the oven to 160ÂºC/325ÂºF, Gas 3, then butter the sides of the cake tin and line the base with a disc of baking parchment. If youâ€™re using a spring-form tin, make sure the base is upside down, so thereâ€™s no lip and the cake can slide off easily when cooked. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Leave until just melted, stirring occasionally, then set aside.
Either in a large bowl using a wooden spoon or in the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle beater, cream the butter until soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well between each addition. Mix in the ground almonds and the melted chocolate, followed by the baking powder and vanilla extract.
Tip the egg whites into a separate bowl, add a pinch of salt and beat until stiff but still smooth in appearance â€“ do not over beat. Fold the egg whites into the cake mixture and then pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
Bake for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean but moist. Leave in the tin for 20 minutes, then loosen the edges of the cake using a small, sharp knife and remove the sides of the tin before carefully transferring to a serving plate to cool down fully.
While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl. Place the butter, caster sugar and 100ml (3 Â½fl oz) water in a saucepan and set over a medium heat. Stir all the ingredients together until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved, then pour into the dry ingredients and mix together well.
When the cake has cooled, pour over the icing, allowing it to drizzle down the sides.
Decorate with fresh raspberries.
Karen Fergusonâ€™s Orange Chiffon Cake
Lilly Perrott shared this American favourite with Karen.
225g (8oz) white flour
350g (12oz) caster sugar
3 level teaspoons baking powder
1 level teaspoon salt
grated zest of 2 oranges
125ml (4fl oz) vegetable oil
7 egg yolks
50ml (2fl oz) orange juice, freshly squeezed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
225g (8oz) egg whites
Â½ teaspoon cream of tartar (Bextartar)
450 g (1lb) icing sugar
Grated zest of 2 oranges
Freshly squeezed orange juice
2 x 9inch Bundt tin (a circle with a hold in the centre)
Preheat oven to 325 F or 160 C or Gas 3. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add in the oil, egg yolks, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla extract. Beat vigorously with a spoon or in a food mixer at medium speed until smooth.
Measure egg whites and cream of tartar into spotlessly clean and dry large mixing bowl. Beat until very stiff. Pour egg yolk mixture over the beaten egg whites, and whisk, use a wire whisk and fold together very carefully, take your time!
Pour into the UNGREASEDÂ 9 inch Bundt tins and bake for 45 to 55 minutes. When fully cooked invert over bottle until cold. When cold, loosen sides of cake with a knife or very small spatula and release clip or if it does not have a clip bang cake tin on edge of worktop until it frees itself keep hand under tin when banging as it can fall out suddenly!
To make the icing, put the sieved icing sugar into a bowl, add the orange zest and enough juice to make a softish icing. Careful not to make it too runny or it will run straight off the cake.
Put the cakes on cake rack and allow icing to drip onto plate underneath, then scrape up the icing and cover the gaps. Move to the serving plate before icing is set.
Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
350 g (12 ozs) carrots, peeled and grated
55 g (2 oz) pecan nuts finely chopped
5 large eggs
220 g (7 ozs) pale brown sugar
250 g (9 ozs) ground almonds
1 heaped teaspoon of baking powder
Â½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Â¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Cream Cheese Frosting
250 g (9 ozs) cream cheese, at room temperature
50 g (2 oz) butter
100 g (3Â½ ozs) icing sugar
zest and juice of half a lemon, or to taste
Preheat the oven to 180ÂºC/350ÂºF/gas mark 4.
Grease two 20 cm (8 inch) cake tins or spring form pans
Put the grated carrot in a bowl, add the chopped pecan nuts. Whisk the eggs and add to the bowl with the brown sugar, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Mix well.
Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely in the tin before removing.
To make the frosting.
Cream the butter and cheese in a bowl. Add the sieved icing sugar, zest, freshly squeezed lemon juice and continue to beat for another few minutes, until pale and fluffy.
When the cakes are cool â€“ sandwich together and ice with frosting. Decorate with pecans or tiny marzipan carrots.
Jacques and Eithne Barry have extended the much loved Jacques Restaurant out onto Oliver Plunkett Street with a Tapas Bar serving delicious bites – (021) 427 7387 – www.jacquesrestaurant.ie
The Carlingford Oyster FestivalÂ Thursday 8th to Monday 12th AugustÂ Carlingford, County Louth – www.carlingford.ie
The first Ballymaloe Garden Festival is from 31st Aug to 1st Sep 2013 â€“ some well-known speakers including Joy Larcom, Helen Dillon, Susan Turner, Alys Fowler, Brian Crossâ€¦will talk about garden design, seaside and urban gardening, restoration, composting, seed saving, unusual edibles, foraging and much more. Plant and food stalls and childrenâ€™s education area. www.ballymaloe.ie for a program of events.