Last Minute Lemon and Poppyseed Ring Cake

During Easter, I went a bit anti-Easter related baked goods.  I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m kind of tired of all the Easter eggs, bunnies, and bird nests.  We’ve all had our fair share of chocolatey goodness and enough is enough.

So when I was told that we had guests coming for cake and tea two hours before they were due to arrive – I refused to bake anything Easter-related I got out the trusty old Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and picked a recipe that reminds me of spring: the Lemon and Poppy Seed Ring Cake.Read More »

Lemon & Raspberry Tart with Poppy Seed Pastry

The name of this recipe is enough to get me hungry.  I saw this in my new copy of Lorraine Pascale’s Baking Made Easy and had to try it.  It was the perfect dinner party dessert and I had to get over my fear of tarts.

The tart dish I have is a little bigger than the one recommended in the equipment so I made 1/3 extra to make sure there was enough to fit.

I started by making the poppy seed dough – I whisked together the butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and added in the eggs one at a time.  I then stirred in the flour, salt and poppy seeds till it made a soft, uniform dough. I then wrapped it up and let it cool in the fridge for 2 hours.  Simple – I don’t know why I was so worried about making tarts!

After the 2 hours, I rolled it out and attempted to ‘lay’ it over the tart tin.  After about 4 pathetic attempts I gave up doing it Lorraine Pascale’s way and did it my way.  I rolled the dough out on baking parchment and flipped it onto the tart tin – not the most elegant method but it worked.  A few patches were needed here and there but otherwise it seemed to be fool-proof!

Lemon & Raspberry Tart with Poppy Seed Pastry

The tart went back in the fridge for 15minutes to harden up before it went into the oven for a blind bake using baking beads.  After about 15 minutes I took the beads out and baked for a further 5 minutes.  Now the recipe said that my tart shouldn’t have much colour on it but mine was turning a light golden so I took it out a little earlier and let it cool.

Lemon & Raspberry Tart with Poppy Seed Pastry

 The filling was definitely the easiest part of the bake.  I whisked together the eggs and sugar for a few minutes, added some double cream and finally the lemon zest and juice.  This was poured into the tart case and baked until it was slightly wobbly in the middle.

I’m starting to realise that my oven is a lot hotter than it should be so turned down the heat by 15-20 degrees and checked on it 15 minutes sooner.  It was barely wobbly in the middle – oops!

Lemon & Raspberry Tart with Poppy Seed Pastry

I took it out just in time and let it cool. Then it was simply a matter of decorating the top with raspberries and a dusting of icing sugar and hey presto, my first proper tart!

Lemon & Raspberry Tart with Poppy Seed Pastry

The tart looked quite impressive and was very well received (especially when the guests had already tasted some of my Chocolate Truffles earlier on).  It was served with a drizzle of single cream and tasted absolutely beautiful! It was delicious and creamy but with a nice lemony zing to it and the raspberries and poppy seeds went amazingly well with it all.

Lemon & Raspberry Tart with Poppy Seed Pastry

 This is definitely up there amongst the favourites and I will definitely make it again. Not only is it scrumptious but it’s become very clear through making this that I need to practice making tart dough!

Easy Breezy Lemon Squeezy Cheesecake

This is my first Mary Berry Cheesecake, and in true Diary of a Bake-A-Holic style I looked for the easiest one possible. The name of this recipe therefore made the choice ridiculously easy for me.

 I went out specifically to buy some condensed milk and got a tiny bit carried away with all the recipes on the tins. About 20 minutes later I realised what I was doing and grabbed the first tin of condensed milk I saw and dashed home to start baking.

The base of the cheesecake consisted of digestive biscuits, melted butter and a bit of Demerera sugar.  I was determined not to have any big lumpy bits of biscuit so whipped out the pestle and mortar and ground my way through the pack. Naturally one or two had to be eaten along the way – for quality assurance, of course.

I finally managed to get all the biscuits crushed and mixed with the butter and sugar, squished the somewhat dry mixture into the bottom of the cake tin and got it into the fridge to cool while I worked on the next layer. Mary Berry, I hope you know what you’re doing with these crumbly bases!

Then came the hard part – grating lemon zests! Over the course of this blog, I have realised that it is impossible for me to grate anything without injuring myself. I have therefore come up with a fool-proof plan to get it done without any type of injury … bribe someone else to do it. This time, three lemons were grated by a loving father, who received tea and a digestive biscuit for his troubles (thanks dad!).

With the hardest job out of the way, I set about measuring out the cheese, single cream and condensed milk ready to be mixed.  This is where I encountered a slight hitch … my condensed milk was actually ‘caramelised’ condensed milk.  Oops. I had been so engrossed in the recipes on the sides of the tin I didn’t bother to look at what I was buying! I rushed to the shops again while I fogged off a ‘digestive biscuit covered with caramelised condensed milk’ snack onto my family (which, I’d like to point out, is very tasty!).

Once back, I whisked everything together and attempted to spread the mixture evenly on top of the biscuit base.  This went in the fridge overnight and the bowl was taken away by the family to be ‘taste tested’ – a term I wish I didn’t teach them!

After a hectic day the next day I came home to a family sitting expectantly and waiting for me to get the cheesecake out; when I say ‘sitting expectantly’, I actually mean they were glaring at me and pointing at the kitchen as soon as I walked through the door (charming aren’t they?!).

 In my rush to get home I managed to buy double cream instead of whipping cream but I figured it was all relative and started to whisk it anyway. It didn’t help that I didn’t whisk it as much as I probably should have – but I put this down to pressure from the evil glares I was getting for taking so long. A few slice strawberries later and ‘et voila’, we have an Easy Lemon Cheesecake ready to be served.

Once everyone had had their first piece and stopped glaring at me, I could tuck into my own slice of cheesecake. Oh my, Mary Berry, you have done it again! The biscuit base was delectable – the Demerera sugar adds a lovely sweet crunch to it all.  If that wasn’t enough the actual cheesy part – I dribble just thinking about it.  It was very sweet, which may not be to all tastes, but is definitely to mine.  It wasn’t sickly sweet however, but was light and creamy, with the lemon cutting through the sweetness perfectly.


Basically this is a delight of a cheesecake.  The only downside was that the double cream made the cake look a little runny, but this is only an aesthetic hitch and thus shouldn’t count in any way. OK, so looks count a bit but it tastes so good that frankly, no one cared.

Lemon Twirls

This month seems to be the month of baking and birthdays; I’ve had another birthday order; and by birthday order I mean a cake present that benefits my blog (we’re happy all round, no?!).

I’ve been dreading this birthday because I knew what the birthday boy would ask for: lemon cupcakes! I love the taste of these cakes; hate grating a horrific amount of lemons.

Once again, I wanted to ‘play’ with my new cake decorating stuff so decided to make some fondant leaves to decorate the top; these were made the day before.

The recipe was an extension of the basic sponge; the only difference was the grated lemon zest.  All the dry ingredients were mixed together and all the ‘wet’ ingredients in a separate bowl.  The ‘wet’ ingredients were then slowly added and whisked up.  These were all spooned into cases and put into the oven for 20 minutes.

The smell of these cupcakes is amazing! It drove everyone in the house a bit crazy while they were cooking, especially as they weren’t getting any (oops!).  Once out of the oven, they were put aside to cool and I started working on the buttercream icing; which was the standard measures with some lemon zest and yellow food colouring.

Now at this point I was rushing, as I was already late to get ready for another person’s birthday dinner; so I got my Wilton 2D nozzle ready and started icing the cupcakes like a rose.  Can you spot my mistake?  I didn’t.  I got incredibly confused when the icing came out more like spaghetti than a rose shape; until I realised that all the lemon bits had got stuck and blocked up the nozzle.  Great.  I resorted to the fool proof Hummingbird ‘twirl’ and put the leaves on top.

The cake was described as, and I quote, beautiful.  Job done!

A Loaf of Lemoniness…

Another first for me but a different type of first: still cake, different tin.  A lemon loaf. I’m guessing it’s called a loaf because of the tin but you never know, there may be an extremely scientific or arbitrary reason.  Anyone who can enlighten me, please do.

Any-who, I digress.  I have a love/hate relationship with lemon cakes: love the taste; hate the effect it has on my poor fingers.  This recipe only called for 2 lemons to be grated (thankfully) so it didn’t take too long to get started on baking.


The recipe seemed to be the reverse of you’re normal cake making process, as the butter went last.  I actually had to switch the bowl I was using because I immediately put the butter in first.  Oops.  Other than this there weren’t any huge dilemmas.  I used the same technique of greasing and dusting the tin to stop it sticking.

Ok. I lie.  There was one other mini mishap.  I had a bit of a panic when it came to putting the batter into the cake tin; nothing too dramatic, there just seemed to be a lot of batter in relation to my cake tin.  I was a bit worried that the cake would seriously overflow into a gooey mess while baking so held back on using the rest.  Instead I improvised and made a few lemon cupcakes.

After going in the oven, the cake took around an hour to cook (this was less time than the recipe suggests but I put that down to not using all the batter).  The loaf came out really nice and golden; to be fair I could have used all the batter without making a mess but this is a learning curve.


The syrup was easy enough to figure out: sugar, water, lemon zest and juice.  You’d think that I couldn’t manage to mess that one up right? Wrong.  I got a bit eager and started preparing the syrup as soon as the cake started to bake and then took it off the heat when it was ready and the cake had a long way to go still.  With the cake timer beeping I came back to see my syrup had gone a bit sticky and, well, solid.  It was saved quite easily by putting it back on the hob for a minute or two but I ended up with less syrup than I should have had.  I would suggest starting on the syrup when the cake is out of the oven.

Another tip for pouring the syrup, make little holes in the loaf before you pour the syrup over.  Doing this makes some of the syrup go through to the cake and makes it that much nicer.  The loaf came out really nice and moist and was greatly enjoyed by the lucky person who got it as a present.