Easy orange, rosemary and polenta cake

I love making cakes when you don’t have to “cream the butter and sugar” As soon as I see a recipe that asks for that, I’m out of there. This one is so easy and uses the whole orange, which gives it a very intense flavor that the fresh rosemary positively flirts with! And a great added bonus is that it is also gluten free.

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Serves 8

Butter, for greasing
2 large oranges
6 extra large free-range eggs
6 oz polenta
6 oz ground almonds
9 oz golden caster sugar
1 heaped tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tsp demerara sugar

For the orange drizzle
4 oz caster sugar
3 tbsp orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, Cointreau or Triple Sec
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Grated or shredded zest of 1 orange

Grease and base-line a 9 inch springform cake tin. Put the whole oranges in a large pan of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour, until soft. Remove, cool, then halve and remove the pips.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Whizz the orange halves (with the skin) to a purée in a food processor. Beat in the eggs, polenta, almonds, sugar and rosemary.
Pour into the tin and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Bake for 1 hour, until the cake is risen and golden.
For the drizzle, dissolve the sugar in 100ml hot water in a pan. Boil for 5 minutes but don’t let it color. Remove from the heat and cool briefly. Add the liqueur, rosemary and zest.
Cool the cake in the tin, then turn out and drizzle with the syrup.


Mary Berry’s easy frozen chocolate torte



Mary Berry, for those who haven’t heard of her, is the British queen of baking and her recipes are usually very easy and foolproof. Here is a terrific one that you can make in advance, freeze and keep for a long time, although you won’t want to!

Serves 10

For the mousse
14 oz dark chocolate, 70% or more.
4 oz superfine sugar (caster sugar)
6 tbsp water
4 large egg yolks
2 tbsp brandy
20 fl oz heavy cream

To decorate
Powdered sugar (icing sugar)
12 large strawberries, sliced
Extra cream to pour over the servings

Lightly grease an 8 inch loose-bottomed cake tin and line with cling film.
Break the chocolate into sections and drop into a food processor. Process for 1 minute or until just a few pieces remain in the otherwise powdery chocolate.  Alternatively, you could finely grate the chocolate.
Place the sugar and water into a small pan and heat gently over a low heat, until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally.
Increase the heat and boil briskly for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture becomes a light syrup.
Set the food processor running and pour the hot syrup through the funnel onto the chocolate – it should melt, but add a dash of boiling water if the chocolate hasn’t completely melted.
Drop the egg yolks into the melted chocolate and process for a few seconds before adding the brandy. If you are not using a food processor, beat the ingredients together with a wooden spoon.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream until lightly thickened.
Fold in the chocolate mixture and then spoon it into the prepared tin, leveling the top with the back of a spoon.
Cover with cling film and transfer to the freezer for a minimum of 4 hours or until it has frozen.
To serve, remove the torte from the freezer, release it from the tin and transfer to a nice cake plate.
Leave to soften for about 10 to 15 minutes before dusting with powdered sugar.
Decorate with fresh strawberries and serve with some cream on the side.




Heavenly one bowl apple cake


This is a dark, dense, gooey apple cake. The one extra step in this recipe is for soaking the dates in Apple Brandy or Calvados.

Serves 12 to 16
3/4 cup chopped dates
3/4 cup Calvados or apple brandy
2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
4 cups slightly tart apples; peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1/2 cup melted butter
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
icing sugar for decorations

About 1 hour before starting to bake, place the dates in a small bowl and cover with the Calvados or apple brandy. Stir from time to time and if they get too “tight” just add more brandy.
Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Using butter, grease a baking pan. (approx 13″ x 9″ x 2″)
Into a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
Add the chopped apples, dates, melted butter and the eggs. This will be a heavy, thick batter, but don’t worry, just make sure you mix it well together.
Spread in the prepared pan, place on a rack in the center of the oven and bake for 1 hour.
Test with a skewer, if it comes out a bit gooey, then bake for another 5 to 10 mins.
It will be a nice dark color  and should spring back to a light touch.
Serve with some icing sugar (powdered sugar) sprinkled over the top. This is delicious hot, warm or cold.


One-bowl easy banana cake


This is the easiest one-bowl banana cake recipe. Use a flat rectangular baking tin for this, as it will cook  more evenly.

4 bananas
11 oz superfine sugar (caster sugar)
4 large eggs
8 fl oz sunflower oil
15 oz plain flour
2 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2  tsp salt
5 oz walnut pieces
4 oz raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 F
Mash the bananas until they are smooth. A potato masher is good for this.
In a large bowl, put the mashed bananas, and add all the other ingredients, one by one, stirring with each addition. It doesn’t matter in what order you put them in, except I recommend putting the raisins and walnuts in at the end.
Lightly grease your baking tin and pour the cake mixture in.
Bake for 1 hour.


One-bowl golden raisin (sultana) cake


Another one-bowl gem and this is packed with golden raisins, or, as they say in New Zealand, sultanas. This is terrific with a cup of tea, midday, and it lasts for 2 weeks!

4 1/2 oz melted butter
1 1/2 lbs golden raisins
3/4 cup plain flour
2 tbsp marmalade
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup sweet sherry

Preheat the oven to 300 F.
Grease a cake tin or loaf tin, line the base with parchment paper.
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, beat with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are combined well.
Spread  into the prepared tin. ( You can decorate the top with blanched almonds if you like.)
Bake in the oven for 1.5 to 2 hours.
Remove from the oven when firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean when pushed into the cake.
Cover with foil and leave to cool in the tin.

One-bowl tangy lemon cake

Don’t you just love those cakes that require everything to be thrown into one bowl, mixed together, then put into the oven? No creaming the butter and sugar!
This is so easy and has a real tang to it as you spoon the lemon syrup over the hot cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.

6 oz butter
6 oz superfine sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
2 lemons, juiced and the finely grated rind
6 oz self raising flour

Preheat the oven to 350 F
Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat well until well mixed together.
Add the finely grated rind of 2 lemons.
Spoon the mixture into a greased and lined round cake tin and bake for about 55 minutes until just firm.
Squeeze the juice from the 2 lemons and mix with 1 oz of suerfine sugar.
Spoon this syrup over the top of the cake while still warm for a lovely tang.

Mocha Chocolate Icebox cake

Here is a lovely, easy cake to make for Valentines Day. You will adore it and so will your other half!
A Barefoot Contessa gem.

Serves 8
2 cups cold heavy cream
12 oz Italian mascarpone cheese
1.2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Kahlua liqueur
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Pernigotti
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Three 8-ounce packages Tate’s Bake Shop chocolate chip cookies
Shaved semi sweet chocolate, for garnish

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, Kahlua, cocoa powder, espresso powder and vanilla. Mix on low speed to combine and then slowly raise the speed until it forms firm peaks.

To assemble the cake, arrange a layer of chocolate chip cookies in an 8 inch springform pan, covering the bottom as much as possible. (You can break some to fill in the empty spaces)
Spread a 1/5 of the mocha whipped cream evenly over the cookies.
Place another layer of cookies on top, lying flat and touching, followed by another 1/5 of the cream.
Continue layering cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, ending with a layer of cream.
Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan.
Sprinkle the top with the shaved chocolate, cut in wedges and serve cold