Tropical Beach Cake

tropical summer beach cake recipe clandestine cake club nottingham how to with sugar and crumbs flavoured icing

June’s Nottingham City Clandestine Cake Club had the wonderful (if I do say so myself) theme of ‘we’re all going on a summer holiday‘ – conveniently it had worked out to be the day before we went away for ours!

Fruity flavours and funky colours were definitely on the menu, and this was a perfect excuse to use some more of my lovely Sugar and Crumbs products. S&C make wonderful flavoured icing sugars and cocoa powders, with completely natural ingredients. They were kind enough to send me some to try earlier this year, and I then won a competition of theirs and received another great supply!

sugar and crumbs tropical icing sugar summer cake recipe bundt not granulated or caster

For this cake I used a 500g pack of their tropical icing sugar. If the pink lemonade one smells like Refreshers sweets – this one smells just like Fruit Salad sweets. Sweet tooth? Moi?!
I’d seen somewhere on their facebook page a while back that you can use the flavoured icing sugar in the cake itself, in place of where you’d normally use a white or brown sugar, but after a good search around couldn’t find a whole lot of recipes. Eventually I stumbled on this Powdered Sugar Pound Cake – but had to convert and scale down before I could get to work. It turned out really well and would definitely work in small bundt (or large one if you scaled up), adjusting cooking times of course.

Ingredients
165g butter
225g tropical icing sugar
165g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs

Method
– Beat together the butter and icing sugar. You’ll find this needs to be done very slowly (even if you’re doing it by hand), to prevent a great cloud of sugar dust descending on your kitchen
– Beat in the eggs along with a tablespoon of flour
– Sieve the remaining flour and baking powder, and mix well
– Pour into a well greased tin and level with a spatula
– Bake at 170 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes, until an inserted skewer comes out clean
– Turn out onto a cooling rack

Tropical Butter Icing
275g tropical icing sugar
100g butter
Tablespoon of milk (if needed)

– Beat together the sugar and butter. Add the milk a little at a time only if the mixture is a little stiff
– Spread all over the cake, or split and colour as desired

I split the icing for my cake into two, for the sand and the sea.

To make the sand, I blitzed up a small packet of biscuits in the food processor. Making a shoreline shape with the butter icing, I then gently pressed the biscuit crumbs all over, until the icing was completely covered.

tropical icing sugar summer beach cake sugar and crumbs recipe crushed shortbread biscuit to represent sand on summer tropical beach cake

It was rather a messy job trying to get the biscuits to stick to the side!

making edible sand on tropical beach summer cake from crushed biscuits

Once the sand had set a little, I set aside a tablespoon of the remaining icing, to stay white, and coloured the rest a light blue, before applying it all over the remaining half of the cake with a palette knife.

tropical swirl icing blue sea

To create the wave effects, I added random and alternate stripes of the white icing, and a bit more blue food colouring. Swirling them around a little with a knife, I then used a palette knife dipped in boiling water to smooth the whole area over.

tropical blue swirled sea summer beach cake

The sand and sea complete – onto those all important beach accessories! How our house doesn’t have any cocktail umbrellas I’m still not sure, but this tutorial on DIY parasols from Food 52 was fun and easy – much better than a drive to the supermarket, which was my back-up option. And all you need is paper, scissors, glue, and a cocktail stick!
I then got to work with my fondant to make the remaining elements. For the beach mat, I used a light brown fondant imprinted with a basket weave, and edged with black fondant. The beach ball was simply for rectangles of red and white fondant rolled together, and the birkenstocks shaped and cut yellow and brown fondants.

summer beach cake home-made parasol beach mat book ball and sandals

Having completely failed at making a bucket and spade, I decided to go down the literary route for the last item. Starting with a ‘cover’ of dark blue fondant, I then rolled some thin white strips, using a cocktail stick to gently press them into place, and black food colouring for the text.

sea and sand summer beach scene cake fondant accessories

Et voila – one tropical beach scene! We had a great time discussing all things summer and holiday at CCC, and of course devouring all the delicious cakes.

nottingham-city-event-july-2014-summer-holidays

I was really pleased with how my cake came out inside – the icing sugar made for a dense but incredibly light texture, a bit of a cross between madeira and sponge. And of course perfectly flavoured by Sugar and Crumbs! I’ll definitely be trying some more recipes with their icing sugars.

tropical cake recipe made with sugar and crumbs flavoured icing easy and light for summer

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Mint Chocolate Chip Tray Bake

mint chocolate chip traybake recipe easy dessert tea party cake recipe make ahead

An easy-but-wicked summer dessert – easy to make ahead and enjoyed by everyone!

The dark chocolate is wonderfully rich, interspersed with the crunch of the chocolate chips, and finished with a cool, smooth and creamy mint icing. Keep in the fridge until serving for an extra burst of freshness.

Ingredients (cake layer)
100g dark chocolate
125g butter
100g sugar
50g cream cheese
3 eggs
185g plain flour
100g dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Method
– Melt the chocolate via your preferred method – be that microwave, over a pan of hot water, etc. Set aside to cool
– Beat together the butter, sugar, and cream cheese
– Beat in the eggs and milk , with a tablespoon of flour
– Once the chocolate is cool enough – it should only feel lukewarm to touch, quickly but carefully add to the mixture and quickly beat in. Too hot and you’ll cook the eggs, too cold or too slow to beat and the chocolate will solidify in before it’s mixed! It’s not as tricky as it sounds but make sure your wooden spoon is at the ready
– Add the flour, baking powder, and chocolate chips. By putting the chocolate chips in last, they’ll get a thin coating of flour, which should stop them sinking during cooking- Beat together until all combined, but don’t over-mix
– Pour into a well-greased tin, 20 cm / 8 inches square is ideal
– Bake at 180 degrees for 25 – 35 minutes. Test with a skewer, but be wary of mistaking melted chocolate chips for uncooked cake batter! It should also start to pull away from the side of the tin when ready.
– Leave to cool in the tin, so the chocolate chips have time to set

mixing dark chocolate chips into cocoa batter with flour to prevent sinking dark chocolate chip traybake sticky batter ready to bake

tray bake fresh from the oven chocolate crispy crunch brownie top

I find it better to ice within the tin as well – you can ensure an even coating right up to side, and you can even refrigerate in the tin until you’re ready to slice and serve.

Mint icing
75g butter
Few drops peppermint essence
Couple drops lemon juice
200g icing sugar
Green food colouring
50g dark chocolate chips, to decorate

– Beat together all the ingredients bar the chocolate chips. The food colouring is entirely optional but I think adds to the effect
– Spoon the icing onto the cake, and spread evenly with a small palette knife or the back of a spoon, making sure you have even coverage at the sides and the corners
– Sprinkle generously with the dark chocolate chips
– Wrap in cling-film and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve – I’d recommend a minimum of an hour in the fridge, maximum of 2 days
– Cut into squares as large as you please – mine were big and chunky and didn’t last long at all!

mound of mint colour and flavour icing on dark chocolate chip traybake recipe mint chocolate chip traybake icing setting inside tin

mint chocolate chip tray bake ready to be cut into squares easy dessert recipe

mint chocolate chip traybake recipe easy summer dessert

corner section of tray bake mint icing dark chocolate chips brownie cake base

mint chocolate chip traybake big dessert squares easy party summer cooking

Fat-Free Banana, Date & Maple Syrup Loaf

banana date and maple syrup loaf cake high fibre low fat and low sugar recipe

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a bunch of blackening bananas in the supermarket, reduced to just 10p. Knowing I had a free evening ahead – I hastily picked them up and started dreaming of banana recipes! (Thanks to my Dad for ingraining in me an inability to walk past a reduced section without stopping – unfortunately this does also extend to clothes, shoes, bakeware…!)

Back home I quickly found some banana bread recipes, and thought the maple syrup I’d brought back from a recent trip to the US would be a perfect complement. A quick rummage in the cupboard and I ended up with dates as well – to come up with a super-healthy loaf, with no added sugar or fat. (Maple syrup is a natural product, so that’s good for you too, right?) Definitely a good couple of your five a day! You can add more or less spices depending on your taste buds.

Ingredients
300g ripe / blackening bananas
100g chopped dates
50 ml maple syrup
250g plain flour – use wholemeal if you are being extra healthy, although it will make for a heavier loaf
75ml milk
4 medium eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon water

Method
– Put the chopped dates, maple syrup and water into a saucepan, heat slowly until gently bubbling. Allow to bubble for a couple of minutes, remove from the heat, and stir well. You should fine the dates have started to break down into a paste – if not heat for another minute or two. Set aside to cool. tur
– Mash the bananas, they don’t need to be too smooth (small lumps are fine), as they will melt down during cooking
– In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. Add the date mixture, bananas, milk and eggs. Mix together well, but don’t over beat.
– Pour into a greased, lined loaf tin. It is quite a liquid mixture so will level out easily by itself.
– Bake at 150 degrees for 1 hour. In my fan oven this was the perfect time – an inserted skewer came out clean first time – but for other oven types it’ll take longer. Give it extra time in increments, testing with a skewer each time that oven beeps!
– Leave to cool in the tin, wait until you’re ready to serve before slicing

banana date and maple syrup fat free loaf cake recipe healthy baking batter mix ready to bake

banana date and maple syrup fat free low sugar cake recipe easy loaf tin bake

It’s best eaten quickly, or keep in the fridge in tupperware and work through it over a few days. It won’t be difficult!

Enjoy in big slices. It definitely doesn’t taste healthy, but makes a brilliant guilt free snack! If you’re after something a little naughtier, it works just as well with a good smother of butter, a la malt loaf.

sliced banana date and maple syrup loaf cake from home recipe

banana date and maple syrup loaf sliced with butter healthy treat recipe