March 25, 2015


cherry and almond yoghurt cake

I stumbled upon the idea for this cake in a roundabout way.  When I was actually looking for an easy yoghurt cake recipe I couldn’t find one quite this simple.  When I wasn’t looking for anything in particular along comes a recipe that is so easy and adaptable that it’s a real find.  I think so anyway.

cherry and almond yoghurt cake2

The idea is that you use a pot of yoghurt as one of the ingredients and use the empty pot to measure out all the other ingredients, well most of them anyway.

The idea is that it’s so simple you should never need to resort to a packet cake mix ever again.  I’m not quite so sure it’s absolutely that simple, especially when you decide to make an adaptation using glacé cherries like I did.  All that chopping, rinsing and drying of the cherries takes a fair amount of time.  I also followed a tip in one of Delia Smith’s cherry cake recipes – to keep some back and push them into the mixture before you put the cake in the oven, thereby making it less likely that all your cherries will sink to the bottom.

I used a paper line for my loaf tin, something which I now do regularly.  I’m not entirely sure I like the ridges you end up with on the side of the cake – which make it look rather like a shop bought cake – but it saves time and fiddling with baking paper.

cherry and almond yoghurt cake3

You can use any flavour of yoghurt you like.  Plain yoghurt would be good for a lemon cake version and I used strawberry for my cherry cake – I would have used cherry but when I opened the fridge the cherry one had already gone from the pack !!

There was a lot of mixture so I only filled the loaf tin by two thirds and used the remaining mixture to make some little buns.

The cake had a lovely texture, was nice and moist, cut well and kept well for several days.  Definitely a good recipe to have up your sleeve and great with a cup of tea or coffee. 

You can see the original version here.


1 small 125ml pot of cherry or strawberry yoghurt

1 pot of light olive oil (or sunflower oil)

½tsp almond essence

2 pots golden caster sugar

2 pots plain flour

1 pot ground almonds

1tsp baking powder

150g glacé cherries

4 eggs


Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan.  Grease, oil or butter a loaf tin and line the bottom, or use a paper liner.  Have a lined muffin tin or greased bun tin ready.

Chop the cherries into quarters, rinse and dry thoroughly – removing the syrup from them is what helps to prevent them sinking to the bottom of the cake, allegedly.

Put the yoghurt, oil, essence and sugar into a large bowl and mix together.  Add the eggs and mix again.  Add the flour, almonds and baking powder and mix thoroughly.

Stir in about three quarters of the cherries and transfer to your prepared tin.  Don’t overfill it – use excess mixture for your muffins or buns.

Dot the rest of the cherries over the cake and push each one into the mixture, just below the surface.

Bake the cake for 45-55 minutes, the buns will be ready in 25-30 minutes.  Cool in the tin for ten minutes then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Cuts into 10-12 slices.

March 4, 2015


sweetheart cakes
Some time ago Nick announced that he doesn’t really like cake all that much and the only cakes he does like are chocolate, ginger and fruit cake.  So for Valentine’s Day I decided I would treat him to some chocolate and ginger cakes, using my pretty new heart shaped tin.
Then things went pear shaped time wise – and baking was off the agenda.
sweetheart cakes6 Our kitchen in France used to look like this.  It looks pretty good from a distance but there are lots of things wrong with it so we decided to lash out on a new one.
The kitchen now looks like this.  Notice the nice big empty space under the beam where we found a humungous mouse nest.
Design 5
This is the artist’s impression of our new kitchen.  Nice and clean, no mouse nests, an oven whose door doesn’t fall off and nice tiles on the floor that don’t break up when you stand on them.  Plus a sink that drains properly and good lighting.
The new installation is about a month off but there is a lot of preparation work to do first, namely to remove the old kitchen, dig up the old kitchen floor and put down a new one.  The floor is being done by a professional builder and Nick had to dash across the channel to start the removal of the old kitchen before the said builder can start.  Hence the reason that I didn’t get my little cakes made.
Before I set off for France myself I picked up a packet of chocolate cake mix just in case.  I had no idea at that point whether I was going to have the facilities to bake anything so I thought I would make it easy for myself.  In fact we have managed to set up a reasonably functional temporary kitchen in the dining room.  Sadly the water supply is at the other end of the building but you can’t have everything.  It’s significantly better than camping at least.
sweetheart cakes2
Wright’s Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix was recommended in a blog I read as a handy item to have in the store cupboard so that’s the one I bought.  On the back of the pack there are instructions for using it for a loaf cake, muffins, cupcakes or a traybake so that inspired me with confidence. 
sweetheart cakes3
I added to the mix some ground ginger and chopped preserved ginger and used my new heart shaped bun tin.  There was a lot of mixture left over, enough to make four mini bundt cakes as well.
 sweetheart cakes4Unfortunately I couldn’t find my can of cake release spray so I buttered the tins well but the cakes still stuck, which was annoying.  Having had a few sticking bundt disasters in the past I find that the spray is the only way to more or less guarantee that the cake will come out.
Sadly this meant that all but one of the little cakes lost the nice pretty pattern on top that should have been imparted by the tin.  So I decorated them with a little ginger flavoured icing and they looked fine.  They tasted nice too.
sweetheart cakes5
I can’t say that they tasted as good as a real home made cake would have done but they were fine.  Better than no cake at all, which, under the circumstances, was the other option.  I will get another packet of the cake mix in for emergencies and even try some of the other flavours available.
Now I am really cheating and being rather cheeky in submitting these little cakes to the Aphabakes Challenge, organised by Ros of The more than occasional baker and Caroline of Caroline Makes, which this month is for the letter S. 
I fully intended to enter them last month when the letter was V – as chocolate and ginger Valentine’s cakes.  I blame mitigating circumstances for my cheek in changing the name to sweetheart cakes instead to comply with this month’s theme.  You can see the details here.
(If you’re interested you can read more about our new kitchen adventure here.)
Cheat’s Chocolate and Ginger Sweetheart Cakes
1 pack of Wright’s Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
200ml water and 60ml vegetable oil (as specified on the packet)
1tsp ground ginger
2 balls preserved ginger, chopped
2tblsp icing sugar
2 tsp syrup from the jar of ginger
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan.  Spray two bun tins with cake release spray (or butter well and cross your fingers).
Make up the cake mix according to the instructions on the packet, adding in the ginger.
Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until done.
Allow to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes then ease out gently and cool on a wire rack.
Make up the icing using a little extra liquid (water or syrup) if necessary to make runny.  Drizzle over the cakes when completely cold.
Makes approx 24 small cakes or buns.