Baking · Cake · Cupcakes · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

The Netherlands: Caramel Apple Waffle Cake

Netherlands flag outline

When I was younger, my father usd to go to the Fotokina trade shows in Amsterdam every year, and when he returned he would invariably have brought us back stroopwafels, the iconic caramel waffle biscuits flavoured with cinnamon. Whilst relatively commonplace in England today, back then they were a novelty, and we used to excitedly anticipate his return with these lovely little biscuits. This following cake takes inspiration from these treats, and combines them with sticky caramel apples (to allow you to feel slightly more virtuous!)

The cake is made in a waffle maker, which makes this cake very quick to make in comparisons to many others. These are layered with caramel apples and a salted caramel cream.

Caramel Apple Waffle Cake


Cake Waffles

  • 4oz plain flour
  • 4oz caster sugar
  • 4oz butter
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs

Caramel Apples:

  • 2oz butter
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 dessert apples

Salted Caramel Creme Filling (taken from here):

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups of icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup of caramel

To make the cake waffles, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla essence and eggs and mix thoroughly before sifting in the flour and baking powder. Beat the mixture until a smooth batter is formed –  add a tablespoon of water if the btter is too thick. Preheat your waffle maker and make the waffles following the instructions specific to your model. As a general guide the waffles will likely take about 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool whilst you make the other components of the cake.

To make the caramel creme filling first beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and salt and cream together before adding the caramel. Combine the mixture and keep cool until needed.

Make the caramel apples by peeling and coring the apples before cutting them into segments. Melt the butter in a pan before adding the apples and caster sugar. Cook or about 10 minutes, tuning occasionally until the apples are caramelised.

Assemble the cakes by spreading a waffle with the caramel cream and adding a layer of caramel apples. Spread a second waffle with the caramel cream and decorate with apple slices before placing on the top to complete the cake.

Baking · Cupcakes · Sweets

Mint Humbug Cupcakes

Old fashioned mint sweets are gradually going out of fashion in the UK. They are regarded as being a particularly old-fashioned sweet, and the new innovations in confectionary techniques and flavours have tended to drive people towards to newer types of sweets. Humbugs though, still have a particular vintage appeal to them, and one that still is appealing today.

Mint Humbug Cupcake


Mint Humbug Cupcake 3

Another Hummingbird Bakery recipe, this one takes the traditional boiled sweet, the mint humbug and develops this into a cupcake. I was dubious about this – I often find caramel very sweet, but in this recipe the peppermint goes someway to cutting through the sweetness. The recipe suggests topping them with crushed mint humbugs, but I used rice paper butterflies to top the cupcakes – I couldn’t face any more sugar in them!

Mint Humbug Cupcake 2

Mint Humbug Cupcakes



  • 70g butter, softened.
  • 210g plain flour
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 210 ml whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint essence
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50g tinned caramel


  • 500g icing sugar
  • 160g butter, softened
  • 50ml milk
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint essence
  • 20g tinned caramel


Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3, and line a cupcake tin with liners. Set aside for later.

Beat together the butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until they form crumbs. Mix the eggs, milk and peppermint essence together in a separate bowl and when well-combined, start adding to the dry ingredients, slowly and mixing well after each addition. Beat the mixture until a smooth batter is formed. Add the caramel and mix in until well-distributed through the mixture.

Fill the cupcake cases to 2/3’s full, and bake for 30 minutes until form and well risen. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.

Make the frosting by beating together the butter, icing sugar and milk with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the peppermint essence and caramel and beat until completely combined. Transfer to a piping bag and pip a swirl onto the top of each cupcake,before decorating as you prefer.

Baking · Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Monaco: Grand Prix Billionnaires Shortbread

Flag of Monaco

Ah, Monaco. Just the name of it is enough to conjour up images of riches from gigantic houses and yachts to the pictures of the rich and famous. It is one of the richest countries on earth, has the highest number of millionnaires/billionaires per capita, and the district of Monte Carlo was described by the Encyclopedia Brittanica as an

“international byword for the extravagant display and reckless dispersal of wealth”

Grace Kelly became a Monasque citizen after marrying Prince Rainer III of Monaco in 1956. She was styled as ‘Her Serene Highness’ from this point – a title which I think is lovely, and am thinking of adopting for myself (assuming I can remember to be serene!) In a slightly less impressive way, Monaco’s refusal to levy income tax on most of its citizens means that many rich Europeans gain Monasque citizenship to take advantage of this, thus again increasing the sheer amount of million/billionaires in one country.

Wedding dress of Grace Kelly

However today a very exciting event is taking place – The Monaco Grand Prix! Arguably the most famous and prestigious motor race in the world, it forms a third of the Triple Crown of Motor Sport (also including the Indianapolis 5000 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans) and is extremely popular in the principality. Many of the drivers own property there and the race has been described as adding

” a location of exceptional glamour and prestige”

Looking at the picture below, you can only agree.

View of Monaco

Anyway, back to the race. I am a massive Formula 1 fan, and so later today I will be sat on the sofa cheering on Mr Kimi Raikkonnen who is my main championship hope for this season. (I also have a soft spot for Mark Webber and Jensen Button, but I have my – metaphorical – money on Raikkonnen!) Whilst I watching the race I will be eating some of this scrumptious delight, which is my Monaco-Grand-Prix-Billionnaires Shortbread.


Now you might have heard of the Millionaires shortbread which features a layer of shortbread, topped with caramel and chocolate. There is actually a level up – the Billionnaires shortbread which includes a layer of peanut butter as well. I do not get this – a ridiculously extravagant, luxurious dessert and you go and put peanut butter in it? No thank you! This is my version which includes a layer of champagne-flavoured chocolate ganache under the caramel. So much more extravagant and delicious!


So go to the TV/Radio/Internet and watch the race. Imagine yourself in very expensive sunglasses, sitting on a yacht in the sunshine. And when it’s over and reality hits, make this and live the dream.

Monaco-Grand-Prix-Billionaires Shortbread


  • 150g butter
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 210g plain flour
  • a pinch of salt

Caramel Topping (Don’t use tinned whatever you do – it doesn’t work!)

  • 50g butter
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 400g condensed milk

Champagne-Chocolate Ganache:

  • 100g plain chocolate
  • 70g double cream
  • 2 tbsp champagne


  • 100g plain chocolate
  • Edible gold lustre (optional)


This dish is made in several stages, but a lot of the preparation is layering up the dessert and then leaving it to chill in the fridge (so not too much hassle!) First make the shortbread. Cream together the butter and sugar before mixing in the flour and salt in two halves. Press the mixture into a lined square cake tin and prick with a fork – this doesn’t have to be too neat as it will be covered later, juts try to make it as even as possible. Place this in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes. Turn your oven to gas mark 3/325°F/170°C and leave to heat up. After the shortbread mixture has chilled, bake on the middle shelf for 1 hour until firm and golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

Whilst the mixture is cooling, make the chocolate-champagne ganache. Melt 100g chocolate over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture is smooth remove from the heat and stir in the champagne and double cream until fully combined. Place in the fridge to chill.

Once the shortbread is completely cold, spread a layer of the ganache on the top, using a spatula to flatten the mixture as much as possible. Place back in the fridge for 15 minutes to set further.

Whilst this is setting make the caramel by heating the butter, condensed milk and sugar in a saucepan, bringing to the boil but all the time watching it carefully! Reduce the heat and cook for 4-5 minutes until the caramel starts to come away from the sides of the pan. Pour the caramel over the shortbread and ganache before again returning to the fridge. Finally, melt the remaining chocolate and spread over the top before returning to the fridge for a final 30-minute chill. Remove from the tin and cut into small squares before serving. To paraphrase Caroline, ‘Get your rich on’ and enjoy!

Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge · Uncategorized

Hungary: Dobos Torte

flag of Hungary ►

From Hungary, introducing the Dobos Torte. This cake has a wealth of history attached to it, and it went on to become famous throughout the world. Invented in 1885 by the confectioner József C. Dobos, the cake was first shown at the 1885 National General Exhibition of Budapest, where some of its first samplers included Franz Joseph I and his wife. The cake used buttercream which was practically unknown at the time, and differed from the other cakes of the time due to its elegance and simplicity (in the case of mine,a rather more rustic elegance!). Dobos spent much of his time travelling around Europe, introducing this cake to different countries, resulting in the cake achieving international acclaim.


Dobos invented the cake and buttercream himself, keeping the recipe secret until his retirement in 1906. At this point he gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners and Gingerbread Makers Chamber of Industry, on the proviso that anyone could take advantage of the recipe. The recipe used for this cake is an adaption of Rick Rodger’s torte, taken from here.


This cake has a lot of components to it, but actually I was surprised to find that it doesn’t take that long to make. So don’t be put off by the daunting scale of the recipe – it is great fun to do, and oh-so-impressive when completed! As you can see from the picture below, my cake has 7 layers in it, however these are very thin layers which make it quite tricky to construct (let alone getting them off the paper in one piece – I originally made 14!) Make it easier on yourself and make the layers a bit thicker! I also used scissors to trim the layers into shape, as I found that worked far better than a knife.


As you can see, it is very rich and delectable, a real treat of a cake, and one that should definitely be in your reportoire! However, if you eat this and feel like your clothes are getting smaller, in the next post I’m going to be writing about some vegan desserts which I been working on, and am actually quite proud of, considering I’ve never had any experience in this field before. These probably can’t really be called healthy, but they taste as decadent as full-fat versions, but make you feel healthier, which can’t be bad!

Dobos Torte


Sponge cake layers

  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (162g) icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 95g plain flour
  • 17g cornflour
  • pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) caster sugar
  • 4oz (110g) good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 250g butter (at room temperature

Caramel topping

  • 1 cup (200g) caster sugar
  • 12 tbsp (180 ml) water
  • 8 tsp (40 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil

Finishing touches

  • 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
  • ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts


The Sponge Layers (Can be prepared before hand and stored in the fridge)

Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C). Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9″ (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over.

Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture becomes thick and pale yellow. (The whisk should leave a ribbon-like trail when lifted from the bowl.)

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form then beat in the remaining icing sugar until until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt, before sifting half the flour over the eggs, and folding in. Repeat with the remaining flour.
Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a spatula, spread about 3/4 cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers (6 is a good number but if you have more batter, make more layers!). Completely cool the layers. Using an 8″ springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. I found a pair of scissors worked best for completing this.

The Chocolate Buttercream (this can also be prepared in advance)

Whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened. Place the bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (the water should not touch the bowl) and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. When cool, beat in the soft butter, a bit at a time. Chill whilst you make the caramel topping.

The Caramel Topping

Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and butter the paper. Place a reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges.

Put the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the contents. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel. The caramel in the picture is probably a little over, though still very delicious – I think that’s a little too dark to be called ‘amber’. However, after tasting we decided that it really wasn’t an issue as far as taste went!

Ensure the cake layer is not too cold, or the caramel will set too fast. Pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer and quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using an oiled knife, quickly cut through the layer along the score lines, making sure that you use one clean cut. (If all else fails, I waited until it had cooled enough to handle and – again – attacked it with a pair of scissors! Not up to professional standards but effective!)

Assembling the cake

Divide the buttercream into six equal parts. Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of the serving plate and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with the other layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake, pressing the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides. Prop a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, and arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern.

Baking · Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Portugal: Cinnamon Custard Cake

Flag of Portugal

Custard forms a huge part of Portuguese patisserie, and is unarguably a central facet in the Portuguese culture. Desserts used to be made primarily by the members of the religious orders in the country, and the story goes that the nuns used so many egg whites to stiffen their outfits that they had to find numerous ways in which to use up the egg yolks, thus starting the prevalence of custard dishes.


This cake is a combination of a crème caramel and a cinnamon cake, featuring layers of caramel, custard and cake, baked in the oven and turned out. The caramel on the top surprised me; I expected it to be a hard caramel layer, but instead it is a runny caramel (think crème caramel again!). Napkins are therefore essential, but it is still delicious. If made correctly and cooled sufficiently you should have  distinct layers when sliced, so don’t be tempted to rush this cooling stage!


The recipe is adapted from here.

Cinnamon Custard Cake



  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup water


  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup semi-skimmed milk
  • 1/4 cup of caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp finely grated lemon rind


  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup minus 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup self raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup of semi-skimmed milk
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup minus 1 tbsp of caster sugar (yes, this is needed twice!)


Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a square pyrex dish. Set aside.

Make the caramel by heating the sugar and water in a pan until it comes to the boil. Turn down the heat slightly and continue to boil until the mixture turns the colour of amber. Do not stir at any point during this as the sugar will crystallise – if you need to move the mixture around then swirl the pan. Pour the mixture into a greased tin and leave to set.

Place all the ingredients for the custard in a bowl. Mix gently until the sugar is completely dissolved, though air bubbles still remain. Strain the custard into the baking pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon together. Beat one portion of the sugar and the egg yolks together until thick and pale. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, mixing well after each addition until the batter is smooth.

In another bowl mix together the egg whites and remaining sugar until it forms stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter until completely incorporated. Pour this mixture over the custard mixture – it should float on top. Use a spatula to smooth the mixture over the top, ensuring there are no gaps which the custard could leak out from. Place the cake pan in a larger tin, half full of hot water and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes.

Cool the cake down completely before turning out as otherwise the custard will not have set completely and the cake will collapse. When the cake is completely cold, place a plate on top of the pan and invert to turn the cake out. Caramel may leak out at this point so it may be appropriate to do this over the sink.