Saturday 9 August 2014 brownies?!

So, although life at Sugar Moon mostly consists of brownies...
 & yet more brownies...
 I do often bake other things...for the Farmer's Market, for friends or just for fun!
For instance, a good friend asked me to bake a big cake for a joint 65th birthday celebration for her parents....she wanted it to be both coffee & walnut and big enough to feed 30 and to have a nautical theme as her parents enjoy sailing.

I didn't want to create a tiered cake... for 30 people, I find that cutting squares is much easier. People (especially after a big meal) don't usually want a huge wedge of sweet stuff. So a rectangle fits the bill perfectly...but in two distinct flavours?

I got around it by making up the two cake mixtures at the same time (!) and pouring them into the cake tin almost simultaneously. I created a foil 'divide' to keep them separate as I poured, but took this away before baking...
 this was a big cake and took almost 2 hours to bake properly (a good tip that really works when you are scaling up a recipe is to lower the oven temperature and bake for the top and sides don't cook too quickly and leave a raw middle...)
 I liked the stepped effect of the finished cake....
 and then the decoration. I made a whipped white chocolate icing, which takes colour very well...this only needed a tiny teaspoon of royal blue paste but gave a great effect! The 'sand' is light brown sugar...
 which I adhered by brushing that portion of the cake with a sugar syrup..
 only the yacht, candles and shell are inedible. I was very pleased with the result...
and luckily so was our friend! I'll hear reports of the party later...

Meanwhile, I thought you might like a recipe? This is the Hazelnut & Fresh Apricot Cake that I baked for our recent Farmer's Market.
It was absolutely gorgeous....ideal, of course, with coffee or tea as a snack...but it would also be brilliant as a dessert with some creme fraiche or even ice cream I think. It will keep well for a few days, in the fridge (as the apricots are fresh ones) and will be even nicer the day after baking, when all the flavours have melded together...

Hazelnut & Fresh Apricot Cake

280g soft light brown sugar
270g ground roasted hazelnuts (I buy the skin-on ones, cheaper & fine for this recipe...& most others too! Simply toast for about 5 mins in a hot oven until golden and smelling very nutty! Then cool before grinding in a processor to a fine crumb)
50g ground almonds
50g fine semolina or polenta
75g self-raising flour
5 eggs (medium, free-range)
1 tsp ground cinnamon - optional but tastes lovely!
225g unsalted butter, melted and cooled a little
a punnet of apricots..(exact quantities don't matter for this but roughly 5/6 fruits. It also doesn't matter if they are slightly underripe as they are being cooked)

Preheat oven to 180c/160c fan/Gas Mark 4
Grease & line a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin with baking parchment.

Simply mix all the dry ingredients together, then add the butter and eggs and mix well. I use my stand mixer for this, as there is quite a lot of mixture...but you could do it by hand with a wooden spoon, of course! Scrape into the prepared tin. Roughly chop the apricots, removing the stones (I actually just pull them apart with my fingers...I prefer a rustic look for this cake. You could slice them and arrange them evenly in a pattern if you'd like it to look more formal) and scatter or place gently over the surface of the batter. Don't push them in, the cake will rise around them beautifully.

Bake for about an hour, until it's golden brown and slightly pulling away at the sides. Check it after 45 minutes and rotate the tin in the oven if you need to, to ensure even baking.

Cool in the tin on a wire rack, then push up the bottom and remove the lining paper from the sides and bottom before transferring to a serving plate (run a palette knife under the base to help remove the base paper.)

Enjoy it...and have a wonderful weekend!


  1. I need to order more brownies. As soon as the temperature goes down a bit. I really want to try the orange and chocolate ones. And you said you have seasonal ones too? You put me in a mood to bake, but my wife is sick so it will have to wait for another week.

    1. Guillaume ~ the orange chocolate are really amazing. Hope your wife gets better soon.

  2. I love your birthday cake, Rachel! Very clever to combine the two flavors with foil while pouring and then remove!! I'll file that away to try sometime. Your icing is brilliant!! You achieved the ocean wave look and amazingly creative to include the "sandy" shore line! Well done!!

  3. Rachel! I love that cake! You are so multi~talented. Thanks for the tip, to put a foil barrier in to keep the batter separated. Also, thanks for that recipe. Can't wait to try it. Waving ~~~

  4. Oh Rachel, I too would love the orange and chocolate--it is a flavor combination I just love!!!


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