Time For Cake

At this time of year you may be craving some warm comfort food to keep you going. Why not cook up a tasty cake to enjoy with family or friends one afternoon over a nice cuppa.

Sloe Gin Cake

200g butter, at room temperature
200g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
175g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
90g ground almonds
100ml buttermilk
4 tbsp flaked almonds

100g butter, softened
140g icing sugar, plus more for dusting
3-4 dark purple plums
150ml sloe gin
30g golden caster sugar


Heat the oven to 170C/fan 150C/gas 3½. Cream the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one by one, adding a tablespoon of flour after the first egg. Fold in the flour, baking powder and ground almonds followed by the buttermilk. Spoon the mixture into two buttered and lined 18 cm loose-based sponge tins and sprinkle the almonds over the surface of each tin. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are risen and golden, then cool on wire racks.

Meanwhile, beat the butter for the filling until it's light and creamy and beat in the icing sugar to make a butter cream. Tip the plums into a pan with the sloe gin and sugar and cook them together until the plums just soften but hold their shape. Scoop out and cool the plums. Reduce the liquid to a syrup.

Sandwich the cakes together with some of the syrup and the butter cream. Decorate with the plums, a few more almonds and a drizzle of the syrup.

Dorset Apple Cake

90g blanched hazelnuts, lightly toasted
170g butter, room temperature, plus extra for the tin
170g soft light brown sugar
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
100g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 lemons, zested
3 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1 cm chunks (roughly 450g prepared weight)
2 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp demerara sugar
double cream, to serve


Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter and line a 20cm springform cake tin with baking paper.

Tip 70g of the hazelnuts into a high-powered blender and whizz until they resemble a sandy consistency. Roughly chop the remaining 20g.
Beat together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Gradually whisk in the eggs, adding a tablespoon of the flour halfway through to prevent the mixture from splitting.
Sift in the flour, ground hazelnuts, baking powder, 1 tsp of cinnamon, mixed spice, ground cloves and lemon zest, then briefly whisk until fully combined. Toss the apple in the cornflour and remaining 1 tsp of cinnamon, then fold through the batter until evenly distributed.
Tip into the cake tin, smooth the top with the back of a spoon and sprinkle with demerara sugar and the roughly chopped hazelnuts. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 55-60 mins or until a skewer comes out cleanly when inserted in the middle. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool fully.
Serve with a generous pouring of double cream.

Pumpkin Cake

225ml rapeseed oil, plus extra for the tin
175g sultanas
1 orange, zested and juiced
200g self-raising flour
100g spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp mixed spice
250g soft light brown sugar
50ml maple syrup
4 large eggs
350g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and grated (prepped weight 285g)
100g walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
1-2 tbsp (optional) milk
100g slightly salted butter, softened, 300g icing sugar,
100g soft cheese, 2 tbsp maple syrup, plus extra to drizzle
1 orange, zested, walnuts or pecans, to decorate (optional)


Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line a 30cm x 20cm cake tin. Mix the sultanas with the orange zest and juice and put to one side.

Mix the flours, baking powder, mixed spice and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk the oil, maple syrup and eggs in a jug. Tip the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk for 1-2 minutes with an electric hand whisk until just combined. Tip in the sultanas with the juice and zest.

Gently fold in the pumpkin and nuts, if using. If the batter is very thick, add the milk to loosen. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.

To make the icing, beat the butter until pale. Sieve in the icing sugar in batches, beating well between each addition. Beat in the soft cheese and maple syrup. Swirl the icing over the top of the cake with a palette knife. Decorate with the orange zest, a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkling of nuts, if using. Cut the cake into 12 squares. Will keep for three days in an airtight container in the fridge.