Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cake banishes all woes

Life has been difficult lately. Like many others here in Ireland, my boyfriend and I have started to worry about money. Our incomes have fallen as prices have risen and we can't help but feel anxious about paying our ever escalating bills.

It's hard to stay positive when faced with money worries. It's hard to stay open to the many possibilities of life when you're focussing on how you're going to pay the mortgage...

There's one thing that always helps me when I find myself overwhelmed by worry, one thing that can always be relied upon to banish all anxious thoughts and instantly make me feel better.

Can you guess that that one thing is? If you know me at all, you are sure to guess correctly. It simply has to be cake.

I found the recipe for these 'Summer Bakewells' in this week's Sunday Times Style section. Created by London's wonderfully-named Lily Vanilli, their sweet citrus-infused pastry, melt-in-the-mouth frangipane and smoooth vanilla buttercream instantly banished all thoughts of woe.

Here are the ingredients and instructions for making 12 of these lovelies. (Don't be put off by how long the list looks: these are actually easy to make.)

For the pastry:
250g flour, plus extra for dusting
50g icing sugar
125g cold butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg, beaten
Zest of 1 orange
A splash of milk

For the coulis:
200g frozen mixed berries
50g caster sugar
50ml water

For the frangipane:
85g unsalted butter at room temperature
85g golden caster sugar
85g ground almonds
Zest of 1 oraange
1 egg

For the vanilla buttercream:
55g unsalted butter at room temperature
250 icing sugar
4 tbsp ground almonds
125ml double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Toasted flaked almonds and berries to decorate

  • Make the pastry. I made mine in a food processor, combining the sugar and the flour, whizzing in the butter, adding the egg and the zest and then the milk until I had a dough. If you don't have a food processor, all you have to do is sieve the flour and sugar into a bowl and rub in the butter until you get a fine, crumb-like mixture. Add the egg, zest and milk and work it into a ball.

  • Flour the ball lightly. Wrap it in clingfilm and refridgerate for 30 mins.

  • Make the coulis by placing the fruit, sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed pan. Bring it to the boil, stirring continously. Reduce the heat and simmer until it has thickened. Leave to cool.

  • Make the frangipane by beating all of the ingredients together until they are smooth. Spoon into a piping bag. (Don't worry if you don't have one. You can also use a spoon.)

  • Make the buttercream by beating the butter for 5 mins. Add the sugar, ground almonds and half the cream and beat slowly until incorporated. Add the rest of the cream graduallly and finally add the vanilla extract to taste. Beat well for 3 mins or so or until smooth and light.

  • Heat the oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5/370F.

  • Roll out the pastry and cut into rounds to fit a cupcake pan. Press into place. (As you can see, my attempt was a bit of a patchwork affair.)

  • Spoon in some coulis.

  • Pipe in the frangipane (spoon it in if you don't have a piping bag).

  • Top with flaked almonds and bake for 25 to 30 mins.

  • Allow to cool then pipe with the buttercream and top with the berry of your choice.

  • Regulars at Dingle Farmers' Market: I'll be tweaking this recipe a little and these cakes will be making an appearance on my stall. This means that you too will be able to banish your woes while indulging in decadent cakes!


    1. Paula,
      They are gorgeous (says she stuffing her mouth with one as she types!).