apple vanilla pound cake

23 Nov 2020

I'd planned on making an apple pie this weekend but lost my pie making mojo and decided to make an apple cake instead. I've become a big fan of Joanne Chang's recipe and found this recipe for an apple vanilla pound cake on her IG live series. It uses an unusual technique, so I wanted to give it a try.
I had everything I needed in my pantry so quickly whipped up the loaf (literally) on Saturday morning.
The cake was easy to make and the batter tasted lovely.
All the cake needed was a light dusting of icing sugar before serving. Here's the recipe for you which makes a small loaf cake. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Apple vanilla pound cake - Makes 1 loaf
120 g unsalted butter
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
45 mls cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium granny smith apple, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp lemon juice
3 large eggs
¾ cup caster sugar
1¼ cups plain flour, sifted (sift after measuring)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon icing sugar, for garnish
Heat the oven to 180°C and place a rack in the centre of the oven. Line a small loaf tin with baking paper.
In a small pan, melt the butter. Add the vanilla bean paste to the butter. Whisk in the cream and vanilla extract and set aside to let the mixture come to room temperature.

In a small bowl combine the apple slices with the lemon juice and set to one side.
In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip together the eggs and sugar until thick and lemony coloured, 4 to 5 minutes on medium high speed. While the eggs and sugar are whipping, sift and stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. When the egg-sugar mixture is thick, add the dry ingredients and gently fold by hand using a rubber spatula.
Spoon a few large spoonfuls of the batter into the butter-cream mixture and stir to combine well. Once the butter-cream mixture is lightened, add it all into the batter and fold until completely combined.
Scoop into the prepared loaf pan. Layer the apples across the top in 2-3 rows. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes until the pound cake is golden brown on top and firm when you press it in the middle. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool.

Sift a bit of icing sugar on top to finish off the cake and slice and serve. Use a very sharp serrated knife to gently slice through the apples. Pound cake may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

I'm planning to remake this using the classic butter creaming method and let you know which method produced the best cake. 

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen. 

Bye for now, Jillian


brown butter tahini rye chocolate chunk cookie cups

13 Nov 2020

As a fan of both Ottolenghi and Honey & Co, it was only a matter of time before I started using tahini in my baking. I have a very old bottle of tahini that's been sitting in my cupboard for I don't know how long. It had seized a little but after a bit of a whiz with a chopstick it was ready to go. Originally I'd planned on making a Honey & Co white chocolate and tahini cake but then I spied this recipe for brown butter tahini rye cookie cups and I quickly changed my plans.
My biscuit jar was empty so I decided to bake a small batch of these cookie cups. The recipe has a very high fat to flour ratio so I was a bit concerned how they would turn out.
On a very gloomy morning I assembled all the ingredients.
I set to work making the cookie dough which tasted delicious but was very, very soft. The dough needs 12 hours in the freezer before baking so I shaped the cookie dough before freezing.
Cookie cups are usually baked in muffin tins but I baked my cookies in a 12 cup macaroon pan. I think the mixture is too soft to make regular cookies though as they'd spread all over the place. To make regular cookies, I'd either add a bit more flour to the dough or I'd reduce the butter and tahini quantity a little.
Here’s the recipe for you which makes 12 cookie cups. These are best served warm and as they are baked using cookie dough straight from the freezer, just bake them when you need them. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60 g eggs. My oven is a conventional oven so if you have a fan-forced oven you may need to reduce the temperature by 20ºC.
Brown butter tahini rye cookie cups – makes 12
113 g unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g tahini
1 large egg
¾ cup plain flour
¼ cup rye flour
¼ tsp bicarb soda
¼ tsp baking powder
pinch salt
140 g dark chocolate pieces, I used 52% cocoa (reserve 12 large pieces) 
Sea salt flakes

In a covered microwave safe bowl, cook the butter on high for 5-6 minutes or until the butter smells very nutty and the milk solids turn golden brown. Refrigerate the bowl until the butter begins to solidify. Weigh the browned butter; it should be about 90g. If you have less, add enough room temperature unsalted butter to get there. 
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the browned butter and the sugars together with the vanilla until pale and fluffy. Add the tahini and egg and continue mixing on medium speed for another 2 minutes, scraping down the sides every so often to be sure everything is incorporated.
Combine the plain flour, rye flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add to the mixer and combine on low until just combined. Add the chocolate pieces and mix them in by hand with a rubber spatula.
Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Scoop out 12 dough balls and place them on the baking sheet. Top each cookie dough ball with a large piece of chocolate. Wrap the baking sheet with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for at least 12 hours. This will allow the glutens in the flour to relax and will give you a tender soft cookie. Do not skip this step. The cookie dough will keep in a ziplock bag in the freezer for up to 6 months. Bake them off as needed!
Pre-heat the oven to 170˚C conventional. Place a cookie dough ball into each cup of a greased non-stick macaroon tray or muffin tin then sprinkle each cookie cup with a few salt flakes. Bake for 15-17 minutes until just golden brown around the edges. They will still look fairly unbaked in the middle. Cool for at least 20 minutes before using a small offset spatula (or butter knife) to transfer the cookie cups to a cooling rack.

Bake these to order as these are at their best still warm from the oven. Otherwise a 10-15 second zap in the microwave will do the trick. The tahini rye cookie cups are very tasty, an intriguing blend of sweet and salty with some savoury notes from the tahini. Definitely worth making again.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen. 

Bye for now,



pumpkin spice cupcakes

9 Nov 2020

You can tell Thanksgiving is around the corner when instagram is flooded with all things pumpkin. How could I not add my own pumpkin flavoured cupcakes to the mix?

Originally this was going to be pumpkin bread but when I walked past the shelves and spied the friand tin, I decided to turn the pumpkin bread into cupcakes.

The cake mixture itself is very tasty but the cream cheese icing with pecans atop, make these little cakes into very tasty treats. I shared these with my neighbours and workmates and when one asked for the recipe, you know you have a hit on your hands.

Here’s the recipe for you which makes 9 friands or 12 cupcakes. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with cream cheese icing - inspired by the Flour Bakery Famous Banana Cake recipe
¾ cup plain flour 
½ teaspoon baking powder 
¼ tsp bicarb soda 
½ tsp ground cinnamon 
¼ tsp ground ginger 
pinch nutmeg 
pinch cloves 
pinch sea salt 
¼ cup brown sugar 
¼ cup caster sugar 
1 egg 
¼ cup canola oil 
200 gm pumpkin puree
1 tbs yoghurt 
1 tsp vanilla 

30 gms unsalted butter, softened 
60 gms Philadelphia cream cheese, softened 
½ tsp vanilla extract 
1 cup sifted icing sugar 
Whole pecans to decorate (mine were maple glazed)  

Glazed Pecans 
12 pecan halves 
¼ cup maple syrup or maple flavoured syrup 
Pinch of sea salt

Position the rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 180°C. Butter 12 cup muffin pan or line with paper liners. I used a friand pan. 

In a bowl, sift together the flour, bicarb soda, spices and salt. Set aside. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, or a handheld mixer, beat together the sugar and egg on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. With the machine on low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Do not pour the oil in all at once. Add it slowly so it has time to incorporate into the egg mixture and doesn't deflate the air you have just beaten into the batter. Adding the oil should take about 1 minute. Add the pumpkin, the yoghurt and vanilla, then continue to mix on low speed just until combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible.

Carefully spoon the batter into each muffin or friand tin. Fill each tin about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until risen and golden and tests cooked when a skewer is inserted. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from the tin. Ice when completely cold.

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (conventional). Toss pecans in maple syrup then spread out in a single layer on a baking paper lined baking tray. Sprinkle the pecans with a few flakes of sea salt. Bake until maple syrup is caramelized and pecans are toasted about 10 minutes. Normally I check the pecans after 5 minutes, and then turn them over. Remember the maple syrup is hot so use tongs or a fork for this step. Let cool completely on baking sheet before storing the pecans in an airtight container.

While the cupcakes are cooling, blend the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and icing sugar in a food processor until smooth or you can do this using hand beaters. Refrigerate the filling for an hour to allow it to firm. Top each cupcake with a generous dollop of icing before topping with a pecan. Store in a sealed container in the fridge but bring to room temperature before serving.

Like the rest of the world I was on tenterhooks all weekend awaiting the outcome of the US election. 

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen. 

Bye for now,



devil's food cake with chocolate cream cheese icing

1 Nov 2020

It's a very long time since I last made a Devils Food Cake. I think I was stil a teenager. With my favourite twin girls about to have their first birthday, I decided to make a 3 layer Devil's Food Cake to celebrate their birthday using Claire Ptak's recipe as my base.

Claire's devils' food cake is a simple one bowl recipe which makes a very light and moist cake. I had a secret weapon though, some ridiculously dark and rich chocolate cream cheese icing which would elevate a slice of bread to gourmet status.
The cake is best made the day before serving and refrigerated to firm the cake before icing. The icing makes a generous amount so you could completely coat the cake or do some piping if you wished.

Here's the recipe for you, which makes a 17 cm cake or a three layer 16 cm cake. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional oven so if you have a fan-forced oven you may need to reduce the temperature by 20ºC.


110g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
225g (1 cup) caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g buttermilk or plain yoghurt
50g vegetable oil
112g hot water


Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature 250g cream cheese, at room temperature 100g icing sugar, sifted 50g Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted Optional – chocolate curls for decoration

Cake Method 

Preheat the oven to 170°C, conventional. Butter and line a 17cm cake tin or three 16cm sandwich tins with baking paper. I also dusted the tins with some cocoa.

Measure the dry ingredients, including the caster sugar, into a large mixing bowl and whisk with a balloon whisk to distribute the salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder evenly throughout the other dry ingredients.

In a large jug, whisk together the wet ingredients (except for the hot water). Once they are well mixed together, slowly whisk in the hot water.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in half of the wet mixture. Starting in the middle of the bowl, whisk in a clockwise, circular motion. Resist the temptation to switch direction or you’ll end up with lumps of dry ingredients. Gradually add the remaining wet ingredients until you have a smooth, liquid batter.

Pour the batter into the tin (s) right away and bake for 25 minutes for the sandwich cakes or 40 minutes for the larger cake or until the top is springy to the touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Remove the cake from its tin by running a small paring knife along the inside of the tin to release the cake. Allow to cool completely before turning out. Be careful with this step as the cake is quite delicate.

If you made the larger cake, using a serrated bread knife (the longest one you have), score a horizontal line half of the way up the side of the cake and then slowly cut the cake into three layers.

Chocolate cream cheese icing 

Place the butter, the cream cheese and the vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until pale and creamy. Scrape down the side of the bowl, add the icing sugar and cocoa, and mix until just combined. 

To assemble 
Place one cake layer onto a serving plate. Spread a third of the icing over the cake, then top with the second cake layer. Spread another third of the icing over the second layer then spread the remaining icing over the top of the cake. If you like you can make a naked version of the cake by piping an extra cm of icing over the exterior of each layer of icing then smoothing the extra icing evenly around the outside of the cake. Place in the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

As this was a birthday cake, I couldn't cut into it to show you the layers but they looked good. The adults really enjoyed the cake. One twin thought the cake sans icing was pretty good. The other twin was more interested in smooshing her piece to smithereens. 

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen. 

Bye for now, 



fitzrovia buns

25 Oct 2020

These buns from Honey & Co have been on my to-make list for ages. Before I could make them I had to source some sour cherries.
My usual supplier, a local health food store, suddenly closed down a few months ago and it took me a few months before I found another source.
I made the buttery dough the night before baking the buns, rolled them before I went grocery shopping, then baked them on my return for a late breakfast. Look at all those gorgeous cherries and pistachios.

The recipe made 8 buns and while they were in the oven I made the honey and sugar syrup with which to douse the buns.

Here's the recipe for you which makes 6 - 8 buns. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60 g eggs. My oven is a conventional oven so if you have a fan-forced oven you may need to reduce the temperature by 20ºC.
Fitzrovia Buns adapted from Honey & Co


70 g unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature

1½ tsp dried yeast

1 egg

60 g caster sugar

80–100 mls milk

300 g plain flour

pinch salt


Place the butter, yeast, egg, sugar and 80 mls of the milk in a large mixing bowl, then top with the flour and salt. Use the dough attachment on your mixer or your hands to bring it all together to a smooth, shiny dough, adding the remaining 20 mls of milk if it looks dry. Don’t worry too much if you still have some whole flecks of butter running through the dough; they will make your final bun super-light.


Once the dough has a nice texture to it (after about 2–3 minutes with an electric mixer or 5–6 minutes working by hand), wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours to 12 hours.

Here are a few guidelines to working with this dough:

  • Allow at least 2 hours to refrigerate it before shaping, as it can be very soft when freshly made. Ideally, if you plan ahead, make the dough the day before, place it in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight. 
  • Try to work it with as little additional flour as you dare. The end product will benefit greatly. Work on a cool surface in a cool kitchen, as the dough will soften quickly once out of the fridge.
  • Have all your fillings ready before you start on the dough. It also helps if you have your tray lined in advance.
  • If you are going to bake after shaping, leave the buns at room temperature to prove.
  • If you are preparing in advance, freeze the unbaked buns as soon as they are shaped (to preserve as much yeast activity as possible when you send it to sleep in the freezer.
  • You can shape the buns in the evening, place them on the baking tray and pop them in the fridge to prove slowly overnight and bake first thing in the morning.
  • Filled dough will keep for up to a week in the freezer but after that they start to deteriorate and lose their plumpness.
  • Always freeze unbaked dough uncovered on a tray, then (once frozen) you can transfer to a container or freezer bag or wrap the tray with plastic wrap. When you are ready to bake, thaw overnight in the fridge before taking out to proof in the morning (or if you only sleep 5–6 hours, simply leave them out at room temperature, and when you wake they should be ready to bake).


50 g unsalted butter at room temperature

100 g light brown sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp vanilla paste

75 g dried sour cherries

60 g chopped pistachios, reserving 1 tbs for decoration

a little cream or melted butter

1 batch base sugar syrup (recipe follows)


Mix the butter, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in a small bowl until well combined. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out with a rolling pin on a very lightly floured workbench to a rectangle about 8 x 12 inches. You may need to flip the dough over once or twice to get an even, smooth sheet, but try to work with as little flour as you can so as not to dry the dough out.


Lay the rectangle lengthwise in front of you and spread the spiced butter in a thin layer all over, all the way to the edges, then sprinkle the cherries and pistachios at regular intervals on top, so that each bite will contain a bit of everything.

Lift the long edge of the dough closest to you and start rolling it up away from you, keeping it nice and tight without stretching the dough, until you end up with a sausage about 12 inches long. If it comes out a little longer, push it in from both ends to condense it a little; if it comes out shorter, then use your hands to roll it out a little until it reaches 12 inches. Cut into 6 or 8 even-sized slices, depending on how many buns you want.

Line a 12 x 8 inch baking tin with a piece of baking parchment so that it comes up the sides in one piece, and lay the buns flat on the base, spiral facing upwards. This is the time to freeze the buns if you want to bake them at a later date; otherwise leave them in a warm place.

After 15–20 minutes, preheat the oven to 200°C. Allow the buns to continue rising. The dough should have expanded and should be shiny and taut. Brush each bun with a little cream or melted butter and sprinkle the remaining pistachios over the top.

Place in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C and then turn the tin for an even bake. Bake for another 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and pour over the sugar syrup. Allow to cool slightly before devouring.

Base sugar syrup

75 mls water

75 mls sugar

2 tsp honey 



Place all the ingredients in a small pan and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil, skim off any foam that comes to the top and remove from the heat. You can make this syrup in advance — just keep it in a jar or bottle in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

I can't even begin to tell you how fabulous these buns are, still warm from the oven. I will definitely be making these again.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,



rhubarb cheesecake crumble squares

19 Oct 2020

I had no intention of making these rhubarb cheesecake crumble squares until I walked into my local fruit shop and discovered that rhubarb was on sale. It's no secret that I adore rhubarb but how best to use it?

I decided to make a rhubarb version of these raspberry cheesecake crumble bars.
Decision made, I picked up some cream cheese on my way home and set to work putting these together.
I made these over the long weekend and with plenty of time on my hand, I baked the crust one day, then prepared the cheesecake filling and the rhubarb topping the following day.
The squares need cooling time before they're cut so it's best to bake them the day before serving.

Here's the recipe for you which makes 16 - 24 squares.For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60 g eggs. My oven is a conventional oven so if you have a fan-forced oven you may need to reduce the temperature by 20ºC.

Rhubarb Cheesecake Crumble Squares – adapted from the Raspberry Cheesecake Streusel Bars recipe from One Tin Bakes by Edd Kimber

225g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
350g plain flour
200g caster sugar
¼ tsp fine sea salt
5 tbs rolled oats
1 tbs raw sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

500g cream cheese, at room temperature
cup Greek yoghurt, at room temperature
200g caster (superfine) sugar
1 tbs plain flour
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 large eggs

Rhubarb topping
1 bunch rhubarb, washed, trimmed and cut into 5 cm lengths
3 tablespoons caster sugar mixed with 1 tsp finely grated orange rind


Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 9 x13 inch brownie tin, then line with a strip of parchment paper that overhangs the two long sides of the tin. Secure the paper in place with two metal clips.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 9 x13 inch brownie tin, then line with a strip of parchment paper that overhangs the two long sides of the tin. Secure the paper in place with two metal clips.

For the crumble, mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Gradually drizzle in the melted butter, stirring with a fork to combine until the mixture has formed clumps, then tip about two-thirds (try ¾) of the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out evenly. Use a glass to compact it into a flat layer. Dock all over with a fork and then freeze for 10 minutes. Mix the remaining crumble with the oats, raw sugar and cinnamon then refrigerate until needed.

Bake the base for 10-15 minutes, or until just starting to brown, then remove and set aside to cool. 

To make the cheesecake, place all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix together until smooth and evenly combined. Pour the cheesecake mix evenly over the base. 

For the filling, arrange the rhubarb pieces decoratively over the cheesecake and then sprinkle with the caster sugar mixture. Strew the reserved crumble evenly over the top then bake for 50-60 minutes or until the crumble is lightly browned and the rhubarb is cooked through.

Leave to cool in the tin for an hour, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, before cutting into squares to serve. Bring to room temperature before serving. The squares can be store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 4 days.  

I gave some of these to my neighbours and they were declared 'magnificent'. High praise indeed. 

See you all again next week. 

Bye for now, 



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