Baking · Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Republic of Ireland: Chocolate Guinness Cake

English: Irish Flag

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In honour of today I present the cake for the Republic of Ireland – the Chocolate Guinness Cake.

The Shamrock, a typical Irish clover.

This cake is everything a chocolate cake should be; moist, chocolatey, dense and seriously delicious! The Guinness gives this cake a deep richness and the cream cheese frosting finishes the cake off perfectly (not to mention making it look authentic!) Sadly this is not an original recipe, being taken from the amazing book ‘Cake Days’ by the Hummingbird Bakery. Having said that though, this cake is too good not to make, and is one that is made regularly!

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Ingredients:

The cake:

  • 250ml Guinness
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 140 ml buttermilk
  • 280g plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

The frosting:

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 125g full fat cream cheese
  • Cocoa powder (for dusting)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F)/Gas Mark 3, and line the base of a 9in springform tin with baking parchment.

Heat the butter and Guinness in a saucepan until the butter has melted, before removing from the heat and stirring in the sugar and cocoa powder. In a separate jug, mix the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla essence, before adding to the mixture in the pan.

Sift together the remaining cake ingredients into a bowl. Add the contents of the pan and mix until completely incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Set aside to cool before removing from the tin in preparation for frosting.

To make the frosting, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the butter until there are no lumps. Add the cream cheese, and beat in slowly. Increase the speed, and continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy. Cover the cake with the frosting before dusting with cocoa powder.

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Baking · Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Northern Ireland: Irish Coffee Cake

The Shamrock, a typical Irish clover.

As I am sure you are aware, this Sunday is St. Patrick’s day, and so this weekend is going for demonstrate the two cakes of Ireland. Today we are going to finish of the UK and introduce you to the cake for Northern Ireland.

English: A design proposal for a new Northern ...

As mentioned in the Nation Cake Challenge Page, one of the main problems with this project is how to differentiate between closely related countries, and the two nations of Ireland demonstrates this very clearly, as much of the classic Irish cuisine seems to be common between the two countries. In response to this, I decided to create two countries, each representing a different focus of Irish food. Northern Ireland led the way, represented by an Irish coffee cake.

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This cake consists of a coffee sponge, soaked in a syrup of black coffee and Irish whisky. This is then layered with whipped cream liberally dosed with more whisky. The cake was then decorated by cocoa powder and flaked almonds.

Initially flaked almonds were used in the cake mix which gave a great crunchy texture to the sponge, however it did pose problems when leveling the cake -when the knife caught one of the almond flakes it would often rip out a chunk of cake mixture, resulting in a rather wobbly cake! As a result I replaced the flaked almonds with ground almonds, so as to keep the taste by ensure a neater finish.

Irish Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Coffee Syrup:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup strong black coffee
  • 1/4 cup Irish whiskey

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp Irish whiskey
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Flaked almonds, to decorate.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line and grease a 8in baking tin and set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Dissolve the instant coffee in the vanilla extract and a tablespoon of boiling water, and beat into the mixture. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and ground almonds before combining with the batter. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 30 minutes in the oven (or until a skewer comes out clean). Leave to cool in the tin.

To make the coffee syrup, put the coffee and sugar in a pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the  sugar. Boil for one minute before removing from the heat and stirring in the whiskey. Use a sharp knife to make small slits in the top of the cake and pour over the syrup. Let the cake cool until all the syrup is absorbed.

Add the whiskey and sugar to the cream, and whisk until holding soft peaks. Using a large knife, carefully slice the cake into two and sandwich with the cream. Decorate the cake with the rest of the cream and flaked almonds.

Baking · Cake · Cupcakes · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Scotland: Cranachan Cake

Flag of Scotland. Ratio 3:5. The blue used is ...

I must admit the first thought that ran through my head when trying to design a Scottish cake was ‘How on earth am I going to combine haggis and deep-fried Mars bars into a cake people would actually want to eat?’ After a few minutes of panic I settled down, and remembered that actually Scotland has some wonderful produce which would make an excellent cake. For this cake, I decided to take inspiration from the dessert cranachan.

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Cranachan is a Scottish dessert consisting of whipped cream, oats, raspberries, honey and whiskey, similar to the English dish Eton mess. My version of this dessert includes a cake made with rolled oats to add texture, soaked in scotch whiskey. This is then sandwiched with raspberry compote and topped with whipped cream. I then decorated the cake with fresh raspberries and a sprinkling of rolled oats.

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This recipe also works well made into cupcakes. To achieve this, I made the cupcake mixture as described below, before removing the centre and filling with the raspberry compote.  These were then topped with whipped cream and decorated again with raspberries and oats.

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Cranachan Cake

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 4oz plain flour
  • 4oz rolled oats
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 8oz butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of Scotch whiskey

Raspberry Compote:

  • 2 punnets raspberries
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

Whipped cream topping:

  • 300 ml double cream
  • 4 tbsp whiskey

Instructions

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5. Grease an 8in round springform tin and set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and smooth. Add in the eggs, beating well after each addition. Mix together the flour, oats and baking powder. Add this to the creamed mixture, mixing well to make a smooth mixture. Add the vanilla essence and stir in until completely combined. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and smooth the top. Bake in to oven for approximately 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

When the cake comes out of the oven, use a skewer or sharp knife make small slits in the cake. Pour over the whiskey, allowing time for the liquid to sink into the cake. Leave to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the tin and allowing to cool completely. Split the cake in half horizontally ready for filling.

Make the raspberry compote by reducing down the sugar and raspberries in a small pan until the mixture is thick. Strain through a sieve to remove the seeds and taste, adding more sugar as you feel necessary. Once it is sufficiently thick (you want it to be the consistency of raspberry jam) then spread on the bottom half of the cake.

[Cheat: You could use raspberry jam instead of the compote if preferred  -just ensure you choose a good brand!]

Whip up the cream, icing sugar and whiskey together for the topping, ensuring that it is really thick and creamy. Use the cream to top the cake, before decorating with fresh raspberries.

Baking · Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge · Savoury Cakes

Wales: Leek and Caerphilly Cake

Flag of Wales

For the Welsh cake, I decided to take inspiration from two central foci of Welsh Cuisine – the leek (itself a national symbol), and Caerphilly cheese, intrinsic to the aforenamed Welsh town. In contrast to many of the other cakes in this project I decided to create a savoury cake, rather than trying to force connections with more disparate. Though the idea of a savoury cake is rather curious in England, the idea is not new, having been found in many other cultures for centuries. This particular cake is excellent served either on its own, or as an accompaniment to a bowl of soup.

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The cake keeps well in an airtight box, though should be eaten within 4-5 days. After this point the cheese smell can become rather overpowering (though surprisingly this is not tasted in the cake!)

Leek and Caerphilly Cake

Ingredients:

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 100g caerphilly cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 120ml milk
  • 50ml olive oil

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6. Grease a loaf tin and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the flour, leek, cheese and pepper and mix well. Mix the milk, egg and olive oil in a separate bowl, and the mix into the dry ingredients. Spoon into the moulds and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

Baking · Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

England: Sherry Trifle Cake

Saint George's cross (a red cross on a white b...

Where better to start in this journey than my own home country – England! From the outset this cake seemed like it would be a simple one to design due to the prevalence of puddings in English food culture – aside from roast beef, old-fashioned puddings are surely what our country is famous for! After wavering between several choices, I finally settled on sherry trifle as the basis for this cake (based in no small measure on the fact that it is my favourite dessert!)

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This classic dessert lends itself well to adapting into cake form, as the pudding itself combines layers of sherry-soaked sponge, jam, fruit, custard and cream. My version consists of a vanilla sponge cake soaked with sherry, filled with custard and jelly, before being topped with whipped cream and decorated with fresh raspberries and flaked almonds. The fruit and toppings could be altered according to your taste – an orange and chocolate version would also be delicious!

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I have given instructions here for using packet jelly, due to the ease of access. However, this would also work well with homemade jelly. If you are using packet jelly you muse ensure that it is fully set before placing the cake on top as otherwise the jelly will soak into the cake. You can make the jelly separately and add to the cake, but this can cause difficulties as I found when I had to flip a layer of jelly from a frying pan onto the top of the cake!

Sherry Trifle Cake

Ingredients:

The Cake:

  • 12oz butter/margerine
  • 12oz caster sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 tsp vanilla essence
  • 12oz plain flour
  • 4.5 level tsp baking powder
  • 10 tbsp sweet sherry

Crème Patisserie

  • 425ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 level tbsp plain flour
  • 1 level tbsp cornflower
  • 10g butter

Other toppings:

  • 1 packet of strawberry jelly
  • 1 pint of cold water
  • 2 punnets of raspberries
  • Flaked almonds to decorate

Instructions:

The Cake

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5. Grease one 10in round baking tin and set aside.

Cream together the butter and the sugar until pale. Add in the eggs, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat into the mixture. Sift the flour and the baking powder into the mixture, and fold in until completely combined.

Divide the mixture in half and pour each portion into the two prepared tins. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, turning the tins after 30 minutes to ensure a consistent colour. Test the cakes with a skewer or sharp knife; if the skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake it is properly baked, otherwise return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the oven, and whilst warm, use a sharp knife to make small slits in the top of each cake. Pour 5 tbsp of sherry over each cake, ensuring an even coating. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tins and set aside to cool completely.

The Jelly

Make the jelly up according to the instructions on the packet. Line one of the cake tins with cling film, ensuring no gaps, and pour in the jelly mixture. Leave to set overnight in the fridge.

Using a sharp knife, cut a thin layer off the top of each cake to ensure a flat surface, and then turn the cakes upside down. Place the cake into the pan on top of the cooled jelly, and quickly flip the pan upside down, so the cake is underneath. Remove the pan and the clingfilm from the cake

The Crème Patisserie

Put the milk and vanilla pod in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Take it off the heat and pour it into a bowl, allowing the vanilla pod to infuse the milk. Mix together the sugar and egg yolks until the mixture is pale and thick. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk and discard. Slowly add the milk to the mixture, whisking constantly. Add the flour and cornflower, continuing to whisk the mixture. Return to the pan and bring to the boil, before reducing the heat and simmering the mixture for three minutes, stirring continuously. Remove the mixture from the heat immediately and place into a bowl, covering with a sheet of greased baking parchment to prevent a skin from forming. Leave to cool completely.

Assembling the Cake

Add a layer of crème patisserie onto to the bottom cake, and placing the second cake on top. If any filling spills out this can be removed by using a knife to trim away the excess. Place back in the fridge to chill. Just before you wish to serve the cake, whip the cream and spread on the top of the cake. Decorate with toasted flaked almonds and raspberries.