Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

This ‘cake’ was an experiment that went a little wrong, so the final result turned out more like a ‘cheese cake’. However, it took me hours to make so I wasn’t going to chuck it out!

The original recipe came from Dan Lepard’s ‘Pear Mousse Cake’ in his book ‘Short and Sweet’ but can be found on this website too. I liked the sound of this cake as it uses a genoise sponge cake which is lovely and light.

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

This cake was intended to be a layered cake using the mousse as a frosting in between layers and around the outside of the cake. You get the mental image? Not exactly how mine turned out! 😦

The cake itself didn’t rise half as much I it was supposed to, but that’s because I added heavy ground sesame seeds to it and the cake wasn’t able to rise. So I only had one layer of sponge to work with and decided to make it into a cheese cake base! Waste not, want not! 🙂

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

I took the cake to the office and shared with colleagues but it wasn’t received very well. I guess because the black sesame flavour is new for most people and quite a savoury flavour so the little amount of sugar in the cake batter didn’t balance so well. The other thing was that the ‘mousse’ didn’t taste of pears! How disappointing! 😦

Despite there being 7 pears in this recipe, the mascarpone and cream completely wiped away the flavour of the pears… The mousse also didn’t set enough to spread onto a cake, so I added extra gelatine to make it more ‘cheese cakey’. Hence the results…

All in all, not a success but it wasn’t bad enough that I had to chuck it straight in the compost bin! Won’t be making that again then…

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

 

 

Honeycomb Brownies: Charity Bake Sale

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It’s been a while since I’ve shared some new baking with you all, not because I’ve not been busy in the kitchen but because I’ve been too busy write it up! This is the first of a series of uploads I’m aiming for this weekend…

These brownies were made for a charity bake sale for the British Red Cross. It was Red Cross Week (5th-11th May) and we were trying to raise £1 Million in a week up and down the UK. Most years I bake some goodies to sell in the office to raise a few pennies towards that massive target. This year I decided to make brownies, a straight forward recipe to follow after a long day at work and enjoyed by most people!

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Using this ‘Best Ever Brownies’ recipe, I made the basic brownie mix but hadn’t really thought of what extra flavours to add. So after a rummage around the baking cupboard I found some mini ‘Smarties’ and a tub of chocolate covered honeycomb that I’d bought and forgotten about. I also found some walnuts but decided against them as a lot of people don’t eat nuts and I didn’t want to narrow down my customer base too much! 😉

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It’s a shame that the honeycomb kind of disappeared as it melted but it added a little texture and additional flavour.

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The brownies were sold for £1 each and sold out within a few hours, so obviously very popular! 😀

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake Caramel top

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake (Gluten Free and Dairy Free): Clandestine Cake Club meet No. 2

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake with Almond Praline

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake with Almond Praline

I have previously written about the Clandestine Cake Club of which I am a proud member. The mission statement for the CCC is: Bake, Eat and Talk about Cake, so you can see where this post is going… 🙂

The last time I attended a CCC event, I took the Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake and the theme was ‘nouveaux’ -trying out a new recipe or using a new cook book or cake tin etc. This event theme was: ‘the Great British Bake Off! The ultimate baking-together experience. Whether you choose a recipe from one of the winners or something that was featured on the programme, even if you want to recreate the tent in cake, the choice is yours.’

I have to admit that I didn’t actually go with the theme as I forgot all about it! 🙂 The idea was to spend two hours baking a cake that could then be shared with fellow bakers and their friends/family later on. I loved the idea of spending the afternoon baking with people who love cake as much as I do, sharing tips and learning from each other. This is also one of the main reasons I write a food blog! 🙂

So that takes me to the inspiration for my cake. Wendy at Chez Chloe wrote about this recipe for Orange and Almond Cake, and I was absolutely hooked on the simplicity of the recipe!  The recipe if gluten free and dairy free (if you skip the caramel top!) Check out Wendy’s post for a simple step-by-step guide on how to prepare this cake.

With only having 2 hours to bake and decorate a cake, I wanted to go with something very simple but delivers on flavour too. The idea for the additional almond caramel top came from a pear and almond cake that I’ve had in a local coffee shop called ‘Teacup’. I generally love caramel and thought it would be a nice decorative feature that doesn’t rely on the cake being cooled before it can be added on.

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake

So here is how it was done:

Step one: Prepare the cake as Wendy suggests- I used one less egg and an 18″ round loose bottom cake tin. However this meant that the cake took a lot longer to bake, so I would suggest a 23″ round tin.

Step two: While the cake is baking make a basic caramel by simmering 125g butter, 125g butter, 50ml milk and 1/2 tsp sea salt in a saucepan until it is smooth and a deep caramel colour. Mix in 150g toasted almond flakes.

Step three: When the cake is cooked through, pour all the almond caramel mix on top of the cake and bake for another 10 minutes.

Almond Caramel Topping

Almond Caramel Topping

The cake should be served slightly warm, with a little cream if that takes your fancy! I think we could have done with letting it cool a little before cutting into it, however the extra baking time and hungry cake fans meant that this just wasn’t an option! 😀

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake Caramel top

Spanish Orange and Almond Cake Caramel top

The cake was super moist and the slightly bitter caramel topping did a great job of seeping into the top of the cake to create a lovely balance of flavours. Check out Helena’s official write up of the event!

I cannot finish this post without mentioning the amazing Sean from ‘Cook Manchester’ who provide fully equipped professional kitchen hire for small businesses. I had a good chat with Sean about his business and the kinds of people who have used the facilities. He’s a really inspiring guy who is passionate about  food and helping others to realise their dreams of starting their own food business. Please check out the website and share with friends who may be interested in finding out more about the facilities.

Bake-Along at Cook Manchester

Bake-Along at Cook Manchester

 

CCC-Bake Along

CCC-Bake Along

 

No Bake Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Inspiration for this recipe came from Anna over at Anna’s Kitchen Table after she reposted this amazing recipe for ‘Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Bottom Cheesecake’. Peanut butter is one of my guilty pleasures in life and the photos of the finished cheesecake instantly made me giddy with the excitement of tasting it and my baking fingers began to twitch!

When the occasion finally came along to give me an excuse to make this indulgent cake, I instantly bought a jar of peanut butter and got started! However on reading the recipe I found that I didn’t actually have enough time to make the original recipe since it is a baked cheesecake and requires at least 4 hours in the fridge! So I decided to make a ‘no bake’ version which is much faster and easier! 🙂

*WARNING* this Cheesecake contains a whole jar of peanut butter! 😀

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So the recipe I used wasn’t really written down anywhere, I tried to use two recipes and merge them together. However I have to admit that the ‘brownie’ bottom didn’t quite work out and I ended up with more of a ‘cake’ base instead…

 

Ingredients for the base

  • 1/4 jar of smooth peanut butter
  • 100g melted milk chocolate
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 100g flour (this is where I went wrong as this is far too much flour!)
  • two handfuls of salted peanuts

Method

  • Mix all ingredients together until just combined and bake in a spring form cake tin until just cooked- I think I baked it at 180 degrees C for 10 minutes- but this was too long…

 

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Cakey Peanuty Base

Once the base is taken out of the oven, add mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on top so they start to melt slightly…

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Ingredients for the filling

  • 2 tubs of full fat cream cheese
  • 3/4 tub of smooth peanut butter
  • 150ml milk
  • 100g icing sugar

Method

  • Put everything in a bowl and whisk it all together until blended well. Taste to see if it needs more sugar.
  • Once the base is cooled, spread the filling onto the base and level off
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Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Filling

 

The topping!

I used chocolate ganache, extra peanut butter cups and Maltesers…Go wild with your imagination! 🙂

 

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Apologies for another poor quality photo of the finished product! I served it this decadent dessert after a Mexican Night with friends.

The base of the cheesecake was slightly too thick, but not too heavy. The filling was very creamy and the peanut butter came through extremely well! I think I could have been a little more adventurous with the toppings, however I was bleeding quite heavily from cutting my thumb whilst trying to chop a Malteser in half, so finished off quickly so I could!

Overall, the cheesecake was very tasty if you love peanut butter, but I think it’s best reserved for special occasions! 🙂

I’ll be trying out Anna’s recipe next time…

Caramel Profiteroles: A stab at French patisserie

Caramel Profiteroles

Caramel Profiteroles: My attempt at recreating 

 

On a recent break to Nice in the south of France, I had the most delicious profiterole dessert from a local patisserie that was open until 10pm! Imagine if such an amazing thing existed in my home town?! I’d never have an emergency dessert baking moment again… Oh to dream!

So while in France, it’s obligatory to eat as much from the local patisseries as possible,from breakfast croissants to afternoon treats after a long day of sightseeing. Well that’s what I think anyway!

Caramel Profiteroles from Nice, France

This is a photo of the Caramel Profiteroles I had in Nice, France- doesn’t it look so perfect and delicious?

So as you can see this dessert was amazing and I haven’t seen it available anywhere since. The choux pastry was crisp and the creme patissiere not too sweet. The burnt caramel offset the cream perfectly and I was so sad to eat the last mouthful! Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to go back and get another one as we left the next morning. So I have recreated it in my own kitchen as part of the Mother’s Day lunch for my family!

Caramel Profiteroles

Caramel Profiteroles

 

I have to admit that I don’t have a recipe to share as I kind of made it up as I went along, starting from a basic choux pastry mix and filling the profiteroles with creme patissiere. But here is a similar one if you want to give it a go yourself!

When working with the caramel, be very careful as I managed to burn my middle finger and a thumb on the burning hot sugar! Blisters alert! 😦

With only a photo of the original dessert on my phone to go by, I made a stab at reconstructing the dessert to look the same. The base is a disk of choux pastry that I had to squash down as it puffed up then I used some of the caramel to ‘glue’ three creme patissiere filled profiteroles onto the base. I decided that easiest way to do the profiteroles was to fill them first that dip them into the caramel, hence the burning of fingers as they were heavy and kept falling in! I topped the freshly whipped cream with some flaked almonds that I toasted then ground.

Caramel Profiteroles

Caramel Profiteroles- home made

 

I think I managed to capture the general essence of the dessert, not as neat I wanted but it was OK for a first attempt. Unfortunately I was pressed for time so was unable to take step-by-step photos. Maybe I’ll attempt this again and take photos next time! 🙂

 

 

Novelty Duck Pond and Farm Animals Cake

Novelty 'Duck Pond' and Farm Animals Cake

Novelty ‘Duck Pond’ and Farm Animals Cake

I’m super excited about this cake, even after the event has been and gone… For my nephew’s 3rd Birthday my sister and I decided to try and make a ‘duck pond and farm animals’ cake as he is obsessed with ducks and farms animals!

A quick Google and scout around Pintrest and the ideas were flowing! I’m not a huge fan of icing and marzipan or buttercream on cakes, as I prefer ream cakes that are a lot less sugary. You may have already seen from my previous cake posts that I tend to reduce the sugar in cake recipes so they aren’t so sweet and the flavours of the cake itself are allowed to shine through.

With no children of my own, I obviously have a lot more time on my hands to bake and decorate birthday celebration cakes. However I have to admit that I have no artistic bone in my body! So my cakes are quite plain and have simple (of very messy) decoration. Obviously with children’s birthday cakes it’s all about the ‘wow factor’ as they are usually much more interested in the way it looks than the taste of it! Store bough party cakes tend to be fairly plain inside, going for a jam or buttercream filling…

Novelty 'Duck Pond' and Farm Animals Cake

Novelty ‘Duck Pond’ and Farm Animals Cake

With this cake I made a stand and decided that it needed to taste really good as well as look good! So using my mum’s Victoria Sponge recipe I made the lightest of lightest cakes, making a salted caramel cream for the filling. The outside of the cake was decorated using KitKat fingers (for the fence) and coloured whipped cream for the ‘grass’ and ‘water’. The pebbles, ducks and farm animals were all made from ready made sugar pastes.

Farm Animals

Farm Animals

I’m particularly impressed by these farm animals made by my cousin, they are so cute! The sheep especially as she rolled out each tiny ball individually to get the ‘woolly’ effect.

Ducks swimming and diving

Ducks swimming and diving

My sister made these little ducks, I especially love the baby ducks and the ones that have dunked their heads in the ‘water’ so only their feet and bums are showing!

For the cake recipe, see my previous post ‘Green Tea and Black Sesame Marble Cake‘ but skip the matcha powder and black sesame powder for a plain cake, or if you want flavoured sponge just follow the recipe as is!

For the salted caramel cream I used a made a basic caramel recipe (melted sugar in a pan and added cream once melted and a pinch of sea salt) then added it to whipped cream once it has cooled.

Duck Pond and Farm Animal Cake

Duck Pond and Farm Animal Cake

I’m very proud of our team effort on this cake. Although I have no patience and vision for modelling and crafting for novelty cakes, I know who to go to if I ever need to decorate novelty cakes again!

My nephew absolutely loved his birthday cake so all of the effort was well worth it. The adults also enjoyed eating the cake itself, leaving all the sugar paste animals to one side. Mission accomplished! 🙂

Raspberry and Double Chocolate Muffins and Loaf Cake

Raspberry and Chocolate Muffin

Raspberry and Chocolate Muffin

You know it’s been a long time since you’ve made cake when work colleagues start asking for them! Around the same time last year (just after Christmas when everyone was trying to shift a few pounds!) it was the opposite, we were all sick of the sight of cakes and biscuits in the office…

So I dusted off the muffin tin and rummaged for the muffin cases to try out this Raspberry and Chocolate Muffin recipe. This recipe current has 239 positive reviews so I chose to go with this one without even bothering to look at others, why would I ignore such a highly recommended recipe?!

Raspberry and Chocolate Muffin

Raspberry and Chocolate Muffin

First thing to note is that the recipe uses ‘cups’ rather than weighing out each ingredient making it very simple to throw together. I usually have some frozen berries in the freezer for emergency baking or fruity sauce making (yes there are instances of such urgent issues in my life). I also have quite a few blocks of chocolate left over from Christmas baking. I’m not a huge fan of eating chocolate on its own so they have gone untouched in case of other dessert making adventures.

The recipe itself calls for white chocolate but I didn’t have enough so I ended up using both white and milk chocolates, hence the ‘double chocolate’ element of the muffin. As with most cake recipes, I reduced the amount of sugar from 1 cup to 2/3 cup. I figured that with all that chocolate in it, it would be sweet enough. On taste testing the muffins (I had to have 2 just to be sure) I would even go for half a cup of sugar depending on how sweet your chocolate is!

Raspberry and Chocolate Muffins and Loaf

Raspberry and Chocolate Muffins and Loaf

I was quite surprised that there is only 50g of butter and 1 egg in this recipe. Relatively low in fat compared to other muffin recipes, an excuse to eat double the amount maybe?

Due to the expanding number of people working in my office I made two batches. The first batch went into a loaf tin and the second batch in 12 muffin cases. I have to say that sticking the the muffins is much quicker. They took 20 minutes but the loaf tin took a good 45 minutes to bake. However, having a cake to cut up is always more enjoyable when with a group of friends with a round of tea and coffee… There are pros and cons to both, but pretty much any cake is always a good thing!

So you can imagine that after baking such lovely cake and muffins for my work mates, I was looking forward to seeing their reactions when they took the initial bite and tasted the tart raspberries with the sweet chocolatey nuggets of goodness. Well something terrible happened, and not for the first time! I FORGOT to take the cakes with me in the morning! Can you imagine the horror when I realised half way into my one hour commute to work? I just dreaded having to tell them all that the cakes I had made especially for them were abandoned on my coffee table 30 miles away… The worst of it was that I wasn’t even due in the office the next day so couldn’t even give them slightly stale cake. Oh well, more for me! 🙂

Their wish has been left unfulfilled…

Green Tea and Black Sesame Marble Cake

Green Tea and Black Sesame Marble Cake

Green Tea and Black Sesame Marble Cake

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Green Tea and Black Sesame Marble Cake

Green Tea and Black Sesame Marble Cake

Green Tea and Black Sesame Marble Cake

After gaining a little more confidence in my ‘cake marbling’ skills, I decided to attempt a ‘Chinese’ version for my family using the classic combination of Green Tea and Black Sesame! I have previously posted ‘Green Tea and Black Sesame Swiss Roll‘.

Using a ‘Victoria Sponge’ recipe that my mum passed onto me, I have tried to create a lighter version of the traditional ‘marble pound cake’ by using a ‘chiffon cake’ style method. This basically involves getting as much air in the eggs as possible and then folding in a small amount of flour to hold it all together. There is also less sugar which is typical of Chinese cakes.

Green Tea and Black Sesame Marble Cake

Green Tea and Black Sesame Marble Cake

 

Ingredients

  • 5 Medium Eggs
  • 120 g Caster Sugar
  • 90 g Self Raising Flour
  • 30 g Cornflour
  • 35 g Olive Oil
  • 2 tbs Ground Black Sesame Seeds
  • 1 tbs Matcha Powder (Food grade Green Tea Powder)
  • a pinch of black sesame seeds for decoration

 

Method

  • Beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and to ‘ribbon texture’
  • Sift in both flours and fold into the egg mixture (avoid mixing as it deflates all your hard work in getting the air in!)
  • Pour in the oil and stir until just combined
  • Pour half the batter into another mixing bowl
  • Fold in the ground sesame seeds into one half the batter and the matcha powder into the other half of the batter
  • Now carefully pour both batters into a lined and greased cake tin. This is difficult with this cake batter as it is very runny! The way I did it was to pour the batters into the corners and let them run into the middle so you get a chance to at least get 4 definite colour blocks.
  • Finally swirl a skewer or knife through the mixture a couple of times to create the ‘marble’ effect.

 

Matcha and Black Sesame Marble Cake

Matcha and Black Sesame Marble Cake

This cake was a hit with my family, not too sweet and very light in texture. A definite keeper!

Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake

Marble Cake

Marble Cake

On my recent adventure to the Clandestine Cake Club I came across two ladies who made ‘marble cakes’ and I found myself wondering why I have never attempted to make one? I had made a fairly low maintenance Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake which is a fairly straight forward all in one method with a lime syrup to drizzle on top. I had a chat with a fellow baker who had made a delicious Chocolate and Orange Marble Cake and she reassured me that the secret to marbling is that ‘less is more’. So today I decided to give it a shot!

Marble Cake recipe

Marble Cake recipe from Dan Lepard’s ‘Short and Sweet’

I used a Dan Lepard recipe from his book ‘Short and Sweet’. The recipe is actually for a Marbled Chocolate Crumble Cake but I decided to skip on the crumble since to simplify things for myself. He has posted a similar recipe on his Guardian column which gives brilliant step by step photos to guide you along the way to a perfect marble cake!

Marble Loaf Cake

Marble Loaf Cake

So taking the cake out of the oven, I felt quietly confident that cake would be a success as the top was nicely marbled and you could see the contrasting colours. However one the cake had cooled though to cut through it was a very different story inside! I was obviously not thorough enough with the ‘swirling’ so have ended up with blocks of cake that are either ‘chocolate’ or ‘vanilla’. This may have something to do with my cutting the cake into squares instead of slices though…

Marbled Cake

Marbled Cake

The texture of the cake is a little crumbly on the chocolate bits where it started to fall away a little when I cut it. The vanilla parts were fine though. On tasting a few of the crumbs, I have to say it tastes lovely! Very deep chocolate flavour and not too sweet. I like Dan Lepard’s recipes and will definitely try more from his book!

Clandestine Cake Club: Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake

Clandestine Cake Club
Clandestine Cake Cake Club Cake Selection

Clandestine Cake Cake Club Cake Selection

Are any of you Clandestine Cakes Club members? Have you heard of the club before? If not, and you LOVE baking cakes and anything cake related, you have to check it out! The basic premise is that as a member you bake a cake to take to an event, you share the cake with other members and then make new friends over the common interest of cake!

I heard about this secret cake society over a year ago and was super excited with the idea. There are clubs all over the UK, and increasingly all over the world! It was founded in the summer of 2010 by a lady called Lynn Hill from Leeds, Northern England. The mission statement for the CCC is: Bake, Eat and Talk about Cake, now there is nothing wrong with that!

As you all know you can make plans and then life gets in the way so you put things off and then you find that months have gone by and you still haven’t gotten round to doing those things that you really want to do. The CCC is that thing for me! I joined one of the groups but kept on missing out on their meets due to being busy at work or having other things planned. I even baked a cake once and then missed the meeting as I was stuck at work! So this time, I planned way ahead and sent an email to join the January meeting.

There are a few main things to take note of. The venue is a secret until a few days before the event. Once you have signed up to the event, the organiser will send an email to confirm the venue. There is a ‘Cake only Rule’- ‘CCC is not like any other club. You can share a cake, you cannot share a cupcake, Muffin or a Brownie. There is interaction and conversation as soon as you begin to slice a cake, that you don’t seem to get when you pick up a cupcake etc.’ You can also take a guest with you (who can choose to bake or not!).

Each event has a theme to guide your baking and give inspiration. The theme of the event I attended was ‘nouveaux’ -trying out a new recipe or using a new cook book or cake tin etc. The groups are run by volunteers who do it because they love cake and baking. So check out your local group and join one today! On the night there were 15 cakes on offer! A lot of new members so lots of people to chat to and get to know. The tea flowed and we worked our way through all the cakes with the determination to try every single one of them.

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

The recipe I decided to go with was a Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake. Not strictly a ‘new’ recipe for me but a ‘new improved version’ of the cake as I wanted to ensure that the cake would taste nice and I not turn out a total disaster! The cake was well received on the night, although it wasn’t the most attractive cake there. I got lots of comments about the flavour combination and was even asked for the recipe, which is always a good sign! The cake is fairly dense but still moist due to the yoghurt and the lime drizzle. The flavours work really well together and it’s sto easy to do if you have a food processor!

So here it is: (You’ll need a food processor and a small sauce pan)

Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake  (Adapted from ‘Sweet Food’ publised by Murdoch Books)

Ingredients

  • 150g Pistachio nuts
  • 1 tsp Ground Cardamom (about 15 pods)
  • 150g Butter
  • 185g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 180g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 125g Plain Yoghurt
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 2 tbs Honey

Method

  • Grease and line cake tin (either 20cm round tin or 2lb loaf tin)
  • Place pistachios and ground cardamom in the processor and pulse until just chopped
  • Add butter and flour and caster sugar then pulse for 20 seconds or until crunbly
  • Combine yoghurt and eggs then add to the cake batter before pulsing again for 10 secons or until just combined
  • Bake in oven at 180 degrees C for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean
  • In a small pan warm up the lime of the juice and the honey until combined and becomes a sticky syrup
  • Once the cake has cooled a little, pierce it all over with the skewer and slowly pour over the lime and honey mixture as a ‘drizzle’
  • Allow cake to fully cool in the tin

The original recipe contains a lot more sugar and a little less cardamom but I found it way to sweet, so I use honey to make the syrup, and found the cardamom could be stronger, so I have changed the recipe to my taste. The original recipe can be found on this site.

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

I really enjoyed my first event as a Clandestine Cake Club member and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves cake! 🙂