News, Culture & Society

Celebrate 10 years of The Great British Bake Off with these scrumptious showstoppers

In Weekend Magazine on Saturday, we marked ten years of Britain’s favourite baking show with recipes from the new Great British Bake Off book. 

Today, we have a fabulous selection of showstoppers from The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes, dreamed up by contestants past and present. 

From indulgent chocolate gateaux to a boozy Christmas cake, they’ll impress your guests at any special occasion. 

We have a fabulous selection of showstoppers from The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes, dreamed up by contestants past and present. Presenters Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith are pictured above 

Heaven and Hell cake

John’s magnificent creation from Series 3 is altogether divine — with lemon and coconut cakes representing Heaven and the deeply indulgent chocolate cake representing Hell.

Hands on: 2½ hours

Bake: 1¾ hours

Serves 12

You will need: 

  • 25cm round, deep cake tin, greased, then base-lined with baking paper
  • 5cm round mini-cake tins x 12, greased
  • Medium piping bag fitted with a jam nozzle
  • 30cm cake card
  • 2 medium piping bags, each fitted with a medium star nozzle
  • Sugar thermometer
  • 6 straws or dowels
  • 15cm cake card
  • Kitchen blowtorch
  • Small piping bag fitted with a small writing nozzle
  • Sheet of baking paper
  • 2 strips baking paper, 35 x 8cm each.

For the hell cake

  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 230ml hot water
  • 9 large eggs, separated
  • 155ml sunflower oil
  • 2½ tsp vanilla paste
  • 450g golden caster sugar
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1½ tsp fine salt
  • Finely grated zest of 2 large unwaxed oranges
  • 320g plain flour, sifted

For the Ganache & Filling

  • 300ml double cream
  • 400g 54% dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 6 tbsp cherry jam

For the mirror glaze

  • 4 tbsp chilled water
  • 2 platinum-grade gelatine leaves
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 150g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 120ml double cream

To decorate

For the heaven cakes

  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 60ml sunflower oil
  • 90ml chilled water
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 large unwaxed lemon
  • 165g plain flour, sifted
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 150g lemon curd

For the meringue topping

  • 2 egg whites
  • 100g caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla paste
  • 100g desiccated coconut
  • 5 sheets edible gold leaf

To make the hell cake

Heat the oven to 170c/fan 150c/325f/ gas 3. Combine the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth. Set aside to cool a little. 

Place the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and, using a wooden spoon, stir in the oil, vanilla, caster sugar, bicarbonate of soda, salt and orange zest. 

John's magnificent creation from Series 3 is altogether divine — with lemon and coconut cakes representing Heaven and the deeply indulgent chocolate cake representing Hell

John’s magnificent creation from Series 3 is altogether divine — with lemon and coconut cakes representing Heaven and the deeply indulgent chocolate cake representing Hell

Stir in the cooled cocoa mixture, then add the flour, beating until smooth. Whisk the egg whites in the clean, grease-free bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, to stiff peaks. 

Fold the egg whites into the mixture, then spoon into the lined 25cm tin. Level the top and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

To make the heaven cakes

Place the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and, using a balloon whisk, mix in the oil, water, vanilla, caster sugar, lemon zest, flour, baking powder and salt.

Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks in the clean, grease-free bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Fold the egg whites into the mixture, then divide it equally between the mini tins. 

Bake for 15-17 minutes, until pale golden brown and just firm. Leave to cool in the tins for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Then, level the tops.

Spoon the lemon curd into the piping bag fitted with the jam nozzle and ‘inject’ each small cake with lemon curd.

For the hell ganache

Pour the cream into a medium pan over a medium heat and bring just to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and leave to stand for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Leave to cool until thick.

Cut the chocolate cake in half horizontally. Spread the bottom half with the cherry jam and a little of the ganache, then top with the other cake half. Turn the whole cake upside down onto the large cake card. 

Spread the top and sides with a thin layer of ganache, then chill for at least 10 minutes, or until set.

Repeat with a second, thicker coat of ganache as neatly as possible. Chill again for 15 minutes more until set. 

Put the rest of the ganache in a medium piping bag fitted with a medium star nozzle and chill until thick enough to pipe.

To decorate the Hell cake, temper the chocolate (see below), place a little in the small piping bag with writing nozzle and pipe ‘Tartarus’ (the pit beneath Hades!) onto a sheet of baking paper

To decorate the Hell cake, temper the chocolate (see below), place a little in the small piping bag with writing nozzle and pipe ‘Tartarus’ (the pit beneath Hades!) onto a sheet of baking paper

For the hell mirror glaze

Put the cold water in a shallow bowl, add the gelatine and soak for 5 minutes. Boil the sugar in 100ml of water in a pan over a high heat for about 3 minutes, to dissolve. 

Leave to cool for 1 minute then, using a balloon whisk, stir in the syrup and cocoa until smooth. Squeeze out the gelatine and add to the glaze, followed by the cream. Whisk until smooth. 

Place the chilled cake on a wire rack set over a tray to catch drips, pour the glaze over the cake and spread to cover.

To decorate the hell cake

To decorate the Hell cake, temper the chocolate (see below), place a little in the small piping bag with writing nozzle and pipe ‘Tartarus’ (the pit beneath Hades!) onto a sheet of baking paper. Leave to set. 

Spread the remaining chocolate thinly onto the strips of baking paper. Cool until set, then break into shards and arrange around the cake. Place the ‘Tartarus’ on top of the cake, then pipe remaining ganache around the base.

For the heaven meringue

Place the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk for 3-4 minutes, until it reaches 48c/118f on a sugar thermometer. 

Remove from the pan and whisk until the mixture cools and forms stiff, shiny peaks. Whisk in the vanilla.

Cover the top and sides of each mini cake with meringue and roll in coconut. Stack the cakes on the small cake card in a circle, seven cakes on the base, then four and then one on top. 

Hold in place with straws or dowel. Place the remaining meringue in the final medium piping bag fitted with a medium star nozzle.

Put the small card on top of the chocolate cake and pipe meringue swirls over the base to cover it. Brown the piped meringue with a blowtorch. Decorate with gold leaf flakes.

Lavender and lemon fox cake

Kim-Joy’s vegan celebration cake from Series 9 requires skill, but is sure to impress. 

If you don’t have time for the whole creation, try making just the biscuits to enjoy with a cup of tea.

Hands-on: 4 hours

Bake: 50 mins

Serves 30

You will need: 

  • 23cm round, deep cake tins x 3, greased, then base-lined with baking paper
  • 18cm round, deep cake tins x 3, greased, then base-lined with baking paper
  • Shallow metal baking tray
  • Baking tray lined with baking paper
  • 6 small disposable piping bags
  • 1 large disposable piping bag
  • 26cm round, thin cake board
  • 20cm round, thin cake board
  • Cake-decorating turntable
  • Tall side scraper
  • 4 dowels
  • Cocktail stick
  • 1 large piping bag fitted with a medium closed-star nozzle
  • Large piping bag with a small petal nozzle.

For the 23cm base tier sponge

  • 675g extra-fine self-raising sponge flour, sifted
  • 410g caster sugar
  • 5 tsp edible dried lavender
  • 2¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 635g soya milk
  • 230g sunflower oil
  • 5 tsp aquafaba, the water from a can of chickpeas, which behaves like egg white
  • 2½ tsp white wine vinegar

For the 18cm top tier sponge

  • 435g self-raising sponge flour, sifted
  • 260g caster sugar
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp edible dried lavender
  • 400g soya milk
  • 150g sunflower oil
  • 4½ tsp aquafaba
  • 3 tsp white wine vinegar

For the vegan lemon curd

  • 35g cornflour
  • 100g lemon-infused sugar
  • Juice of 5 lemons
  • 75g soya milk
  • 85g extra-virgin coconut oil

For the vegan biscuits

  • 150g plain flour, sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 20g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla paste
  • 80g coconut oil

For the royal icing

  • 100ml aquafaba
  • 500g icing sugar, sifted
  • Orange food-colouring paste or gel
  • Honey-gold food-colour, paste or gel
  • Brown food-colour, paste or gel
  • ½ tsp cocoa powder

For the vegan buttercream

  • 175g block vegetarian spread, diced
  • 375g vegetable shortening
  • 500g icing sugar, sifted
  • Pink food-colour, paste or gel
  • Dark green food colour paste or gel
  • Light green food colour, paste or gel
  • Lime green food colour, paste or gel

To make the sponge

Heat the oven to 180c/fan 160c/350f/gas 4. Make the sponge for the bottom tier by mixing all the dry ingredients together in a big bowl and whisk all the wet ingredients together in another. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and whisk until smooth and just combined.

Pour equal amounts of mixture into the three larger tins and bake for 15-20 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centres comes out clean. Turn out the sponges onto a wire rack, peel off the baking paper and leave to cool.

Kim-Joy’s vegan celebration cake from Series 9 requires skill, but is sure to impress

Kim-Joy’s vegan celebration cake from Series 9 requires skill, but is sure to impress

Mix together the sponge ingredients for the smaller, top-tier cakes, as before, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Cool.

For the lemon curd

Meanwhile, make the lemon curd. Whisk together the cornflour and 100ml water to a paste. Place in a small pan and stir in the sugar and lemon juice. 

Cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Keep stirring until the mixture has thickened and you can no longer taste the cornflour.

Turn the heat to low and add the soya milk and oil. 

Stir briskly until the oil has melted and the mixture is smooth, then pour into the shallow metal tray, cover with cling film and freeze for about 45 minutes.

For the biscuits

Put all the dry ingredients and vanilla in a bowl, then rub in the coconut oil. Add 20-25ml of water and combine to make a dough. 

Roll out the dough on a floured worktop to about 6mm thick. Cut out three mushroom shapes and three fox shapes. 

Place on the lined baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes, until slightly browned at the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the royal icing

Meanwhile, beat 75ml of the aquafaba in a stand mixer fitted with a beater, on medium-high speed until frothy, then add half the icing sugar and mix until smooth.

Add the remaining icing sugar and mix until the icing leaves a ribbon trail when you lift the beater. Add more icing sugar if too runny. 

Put about two-thirds of the royal icing in a medium bowl, then divide into three portions — one slightly larger than the other two.

If you don’t have time for the whole creation, try making just the biscuits to enjoy with a cup of tea. Decorate the cake with the fox and mushroom biscuits

If you don’t have time for the whole creation, try making just the biscuits to enjoy with a cup of tea. Decorate the cake with the fox and mushroom biscuits

Colour the larger portion with orange colouring and a tiny amount of the honey-gold to make orange with a tinge of golden brown. Add the brown colouring and cocoa powder to one smaller portion for a deep brown colour. 

Leave the remaining portion white. Divide the icing colours into the small piping bags as follows, and set aside:

Orange: 1/4 into 1 piping bag and 3/4 into another.

Brown: Place all in 1 piping bag.

White: 1/4 into 1 piping bag and 3/4 into another.

Add enough orange colouring to give a bright orange colour to the remaining icing in the mixer bowl, and stir in 1 tablespoon of aquafaba at a time, until the icing is runny enough for a controlled ‘drip’. Cover with cling film and set aside.

For the buttercream

Put the spread into the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater and mix on a low-medium speed until smooth. Mix in the vegetable shortening until smooth and combined. 

Mix in one-third of the icing sugar until combined, then add the remaining icing sugar, gradually increasing the speed each time, until the buttercream is white and smooth. 

Put half the buttercream into the large disposable piping bag.

How to melt chocolate

Break the chocolate into small, even-sized pieces and place these in a heatproof bowl.

Set the bowl over a pan that is one-third full of gently simmering or steaming water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. 

Turn the heat to low, or turn it off completely, and just let the chocolate melt, occasionally giving it a stir to help it, if you like. 

When the chocolate is melted, carefully lift the bowl off the pan. 

Set the bowl over a pan that is one-third full of gently simmering or steaming water

Set the bowl over a pan that is one-third full of gently simmering or steaming water

Divide and colour the remainder as follows, and set aside: About 150g buttercream coloured pink. 

About 150g buttercream coloured dark green. About 2 tablespoons of buttercream coloured light green. Leave the remainder in the bowl.

To assemble the base

Place the larger cake board on the icing turntable. Snip a large tip on the piping bag containing white buttercream and pipe a blob on the board. Top with a large sponge. 

Spread a little buttercream from the bowl over the surface of the cake and, from the piping bag, pipe a white buttercream ‘dam’ around the top edge of the cake (this is to stop the lemon curd seeping out). 

Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the lemon curd on top and spread evenly. Repeat with a second large sponge and then top with the third large sponge.

Spread the white buttercream from the bowl on top of the cake and around the sides. Spread a few smears of pink buttercream here and there on the sides.

Smooth the top, then smooth the sides using the icing scraper. Aim for a thin crumb coat (see right). Insert dowels into the cake and transfer to the fridge to keep chilled.

To assemble the top tier

How to temper chocolate

Tempering chocolate is a process of heating and cooling chocolate to a particular temperature to produce chocolate that is shiny and has a good snap.

Firstly, follow the process for melting chocolate (above). Melt two-thirds of the chocolate until a sugar thermometer shows 45c/113f for dark chocolate or 43c/109f for milk or white. 

Remove from the heat, then stir in the remaining third of chocolate until melted. 

Leave to cool, continuing to stir, until the temperature reaches 27c/80f. 

Tempering chocolate is a process of heating and cooling chocolate to a particular temperature to produce chocolate that is shiny and has a good snap

Tempering chocolate is a process of heating and cooling chocolate to a particular temperature to produce chocolate that is shiny and has a good snap

Place the smaller cake board onto the turntable and stack and ice the smaller sponge layers just as you did for the base tier, except this time using dark green icing on the top and a combination of white and dark green buttercream on the sides.

Mark the outline of a fox shape on the top of the uppermost cake using the cocktail stick.

Snip a very small hole in the piping bag containing the smaller amount of orange royal icing, and snip a small-medium tip on the bag containing the larger amount of orange royal icing. 

Repeat for the white royal icing. Snip a small tip on the brown royal icing.

Use the small-tipped piping bags of orange and white royal icing to pipe the outline of the fox. Use the larger tipped bags to ‘flood’ the orange and white areas. 

Working quickly, use the cocktail stick to blend the white and orange by the tip of the tail. Leave to set, then add the legs, nose and mouth.

Now start piping the biscuits, piping the foxes in the same way you did for the cake. Pipe orange over the mushroom biscuits (outline first, then flooding), and pipe on white dots while the orange icing is wet.

Remove the first cake tier from the fridge and place the second tier on top. Using a large spoon, pour the thinned orange icing in carefully controlled drips down the side of the bottom cake tier.

For the roses and swirls

Marble the pink buttercream with a little of the remaining white buttercream, but don’t over mix, then divide it in half and place each half in a large piping bag — one fitted with the closed-star nozzle and the other with the petal nozzle.

Pipe swirls around the base of each tier and pipe roses on top.

Colour any remaining white buttercream with lime green, place this in the remaining small piping bag. Snip the end into a V-shape and pipe tiny green leaves between the roses.

Decorate the cake with the fox and mushroom biscuits.

Pineapple and coconut sandwich cake

In Series 8, Sophie made this tropical-tasting sandwich cake, topped with a pineapple flower made of baked pineapple ‘leather’.

Hands-on: 1½ hours

Bake: 1½ hours

Serves 12

You will need: 

  • 20cm sandwich tins x 2, greased, then base-lined with baking paper
  • Baking sheet lined with baking paper
  • Mini-muffin tray
  • Sugar thermometer
  • 1 large piping bag fitted with a medium, plain nozzle.

For the sponge

  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cut into 3 x 5mm-thick rounds, then the remainder cored and cut into small chunks
  • 170g unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 5 large eggs, beaten
  • 240g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 100g fresh coconut chunks, peeled and blitzed to a gravel texture
  • 15g coconut flakes, toasted, to decorate

For the buttercream

  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 250g unsalted butter, diced and softened
  • ½ tsp coconut flavouring, plus extra to taste, if necessary
Place the pineapple flower in the centre of the cake and decorate with toasted coconut flakes and the reserved 50g of pineapple, chopped into 1cm pieces

Place the pineapple flower in the centre of the cake and decorate with toasted coconut flakes and the reserved 50g of pineapple, chopped into 1cm pieces

Heat the oven to 180c/fan 160c/350f/gas 4. Weigh out 150g of the pineapple chunks for the cake mixture, drain thoroughly and pat dry with kitchen paper. Set aside 50g for decoration (eat the rest).

Combine the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a beater attachment, on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, until pale and creamy. Gradually add the eggs, little by little, beating well after each addition. 

Add 1 tablespoon of the flour with the last three additions of egg, then sift in the remaining flour and fold to combine. Mix in the coconut ‘gravel’ and pineapple chunks.

Divide the mixture equally between the prepared tins. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 2 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Reduce the oven to 140c/fan 120c/275f/gas 1.

Prepare the pineapple flower. Put the 3 pineapple slices on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then turn over and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, until they are dry but flexible, with golden edges. 

In Series 8, Sophie made this tropical-tasting sandwich cake, topped with a pineapple flower made of baked pineapple ‘leather’

In Series 8, Sophie made this tropical-tasting sandwich cake, topped with a pineapple flower made of baked pineapple ‘leather’

Press each slice into a hole in the muffin tray. Return to the oven for a further 20 minutes or so, until dry and golden. Cool in the tray, then stack the slices into each other to make a flower. Set aside.

Now make the buttercream by dissolving the sugar in 90ml of water in a medium pan over a low heat (about 3-5 minutes). While the sugar is dissolving, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. 

Once the sugar has completely dissolved, increase the heat under the pan to a rapid boil until the syrup reaches 121c/250f on a sugar thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat.

With the whisk at full speed, pour the hot syrup onto the egg whites in a thin stream. Continue whisking until the meringue is very thick and glossy and has cooled to room temperature. 

Gradually add the butter, whisking after each addition until the buttercream is smooth and thick. Incorporate the coconut flavouring, adding more to taste, if you prefer. Cover the bowl and chill until firm enough to pipe.

To assemble, place one sponge, top-side down, on a cake stand. Spoon the buttercream into the large piping bag fitted with the plain nozzle. 

Pipe large ‘kisses’ on top of the sponge, saving half the buttercream for the next layer. Top with the second sponge, top-side upwards, and pipe more kisses.

Place the pineapple flower in the centre of the cake and decorate with toasted coconut flakes and the reserved 50g of pineapple, chopped into 1cm pieces.

How to ice a semi-naked cake

Naked cakes are bare or un-iced on the side, while semi-naked cakes have a very thin covering of buttercream icing that allows the cake layers to peak through. 

Use the following instructions for creating semi-naked cakes or for crumb-coating cakes you will later decorate fully.

You will need: Cake-decorating turntable or cake stand or board l Palette knife l Tall side scraper.

1. Assemble your layer cake as instructed in the recipe, spreading a generous layer of your chosen buttercream between the layers of cake and making sure the sponges are even and flat. 

Fill and smooth any gaps at the side of the cake, between the layers. Once you have a smooth surface, you’re ready for the semi-naked coating.

Assemble your layer cake as instructed in the recipe, spreading a generous layer of your chosen buttercream between the layers of cake and making sure the sponges are even and flat

Assemble your layer cake as instructed in the recipe, spreading a generous layer of your chosen buttercream between the layers of cake and making sure the sponges are even and flat

2. Generously spread some additional buttercream around the sides of the cake with a palette knife using gentle pressure and with one hand on top of the cake to secure it. 

Occasionally, revolve the turntable or cake plate or board while you work around the cake, to make sure it is evenly coated.

Generously spread some additional buttercream around the sides of the cake with a palette knife

Generously spread some additional buttercream around the sides of the cake with a palette knife

Once you have covered the side in a single coating of buttercream, spread an even layer over the top of the cake

Once you have covered the side in a single coating of buttercream, spread an even layer over the top of the cake

3. Once you have covered the side in a single coating of buttercream, spread an even layer over the top of the cake, spreading it out smoothly with the palette knife.

4. Once the whole cake is covered, use a side scraper to smooth off any excess covering on the sides. 

Spread and remove the buttercream until you are happy with the finish and coverage – expose some areas of the cake and leave others more covered.

5. Put the cake in the fridge to chill and firm up for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour. If chilling for more than 2 hours, cover loosely with cling film after the first hour.

Once the whole cake is covered, use a side scraper to smooth off any excess covering on the sides. Spread and remove the buttercream until you are happy with the finish and coverage

Once the whole cake is covered, use a side scraper to smooth off any excess covering on the sides. Spread and remove the buttercream until you are happy with the finish and coverage

Grandma’s fruit cake

This is a recipe passed down from Steph’s great-grandmother via her mum. A rich Christmas cake, soaked in brandy, it is best baked at least five weeks before eating. These quantities will also make a single 30cm cake, baked for 4-4½ hours.

Hands-on: 20 mins

Bake: 4 hours

Serves 60

You will need: 

  • 23cm and 15cm round, deep cake tins, greased then double lined (base and sides) with baking paper, then double wrapped in strips of brown paper around the outsides of the tins (tie with string)
Spoon 2 tablespoons of extra brandy into each cake, then cover the cakes with baking paper and wrap them in foil. Place them in a tin or box, to store

Spoon 2 tablespoons of extra brandy into each cake, then cover the cakes with baking paper and wrap them in foil. Place them in a tin or box, to store

For the fruit cake

  • 475g salted butter, softened● 475g dark muscovado sugar
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 475g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1½ tsp mixed spice
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 500g raisins
  • 500g currants
  • 500g sultanas
  • 75g each of green and red glacé cherries, quartered
  • 125g candied peel, chopped
  • 50g angelica, chopped
  • Finely grated zest of1½ unwaxed lemons
  • 2 tbsp brandy, plus extra for feeding the cake

For the almond paste

  • 800g ground almonds
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 400g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp vanilla essence
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 6 tbsp apricot jam

For the royal icing

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1kg icing sugar, sifted
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp glycerine

Heat the oven to 150c/fan 130c/300f/gas 2. Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment, on medium speed for 5 minutes, until pale and creamy. 

With the mixer on a low speed, add the eggs, a little at a time, beating well between each addition.

Place the flour, spices, salt, raisins, currants, sultanas, glace cherries, candied peel, angelica and lemon zest into a very large mixing bowl and stir together. 

Add the 2 tablespoons of brandy, then add the creamed mixture to the fruit and stir well with a large metal spoon until everything is evenly combined.

This is a recipe passed down from Steph’s great-grandmother via her mum. Her cake featured in series 10

This is a recipe passed down from Steph’s great-grandmother via her mum. Her cake featured in series 10

Divide the mixture proportionately between the two tins. Level the tops, then bake: the 23cm cake will take 3½-4 hours and the 15cm will take about 2½ hours — or until the cakes feel firm to the touch, are a rich, golden brown, and a skewer inserted into centres comes out clean.

If they are colouring too much, cover them with foil for the remaining baking time.

Once the cakes are baked, leave them to cool completely in the tins, then transfer to a plate or board, leaving the baking paper attached to the sides and bottom to keep them moist.

Don’t worry if there’s a little dip in the top of each cake. Use a skewer to pierce the cakes all over, taking care not to pierce all the way to the bottom.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of extra brandy into each cake, then cover the cakes with baking paper and wrap them in foil. Place them in a tin or box, to store.

Uncover the cakes once a week for the next 4 weeks, each time feeding with 1 tablespoon of brandy each. 

About 1 week before you intend to serve the cakes, make the almond paste. In a bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together the almonds, caster sugar and icing sugar.

A rich Christmas cake, soaked in brandy, it is best baked at least five weeks before eating. These quantities will also make a single 30cm cake, baked for 4-4½ hours

A rich Christmas cake, soaked in brandy, it is best baked at least five weeks before eating. These quantities will also make a single 30cm cake, baked for 4-4½ hours

Add the vanilla, lemon juice and enough of the beaten eggs to give a stiff paste (you may not need all the egg). Chill the paste for 30 minutes to firm up.

For the 15cm cake, you will need about 550g paste; for the 23cm cake about 950g. 

On a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar, roll out one half of each weighed portion of almond paste to a circle large enough to cover the top of each cake and about 1-1.5cm thick. 

With the remaining paste, roll out two long strips, one each to cover the sides of the cakes.

Heat the apricot jam in a small pan over a low heat to loosen. Brush the top and side of each cake with the warm jam, then place the appropriate circle of almond paste on top and wrap the appropriate strip around the side, trimming any excess and pressing the seam together where the pieces of paste meet.

Loosely cover the cakes with baking paper and leave for at least 24 hours before spreading over the royal icing.

To make the royal icing, whisk the egg whites with an electric hand whisk for about 1-2 minutes, until frothy.

Whisk in the icing sugar and stir in the lemon juice and glycerine. Whisk together until the icing is thick enough to hold stiff peaks.

Using a palette knife, spread the tops and sides of the cakes with royal icing.

Smooth it around the sides and rough up the tops to create the effect of snow.

Tip: Leave the cakes overnight at room temperature to allow the icing to harden, then store in a tin until needed. Don’t wrap in cling film or store in a plastic box or the cakes will go mouldy.

Liquorice sponge cake

A few years ago, Jamie’s grandma bought him a liquorice birthday cake. He loved it so much, he decided to make his own. 

Keep the liquorice icing fairly thick to stop it running all down the sides.

Hands-on: 35 mins

Bake: 40 mins

Serves 8

You will need: 20cm sandwich tins x 2, greased, then base-lined with baking paper.

For the sponge

A few years ago, Jamie’s grandma bought him a liquorice birthday cake. He loved it so much, he decided to make his own

  • 300g unsalted butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g light muscovado sugar
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 300g plain flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tbsp liquorice essence
  • White chocolate shavings, to decorate

For the buttercream

  • 75g salted butter, softened
  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • 25g cocoa powder

For the liquorice icing

  • 150g fondant icing sugar
  • 1 tsp liquorice essence
  • Black food-colouring gel

Heat the oven to 180c/fan 160c/350f/gas 4. Beat the butter and sugars in a stand mixer fitted with the beater, on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, until pale and creamy. 

Add the eggs, little by little, beating well between each addition. Using a metal spoon, fold in the flour, baking powder and liquorice essence until combined. 

Divide the mixture between the two prepared tins and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. 

Keep the liquorice icing fairly thick to stop it running all down the sides. Pour the icing over the top of the cake and decorate with white chocolate shavings to finis

Keep the liquorice icing fairly thick to stop it running all down the sides. Pour the icing over the top of the cake and decorate with white chocolate shavings to finis

Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Now, make the buttercream. Place the butter in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk until fluffy. 

Gradually add the icing sugar and cocoa powder, and beat until fully combined. Spread the buttercream on one of the cooked cakes and place the other cake on top.

To make the liquorice icing, mix the icing sugar with the liquorice essence and enough water to make a thick, pouring consistency. Mix in the black food colouring to turn the icing completely black. 

Pour the icing over the top of the cake and decorate with white chocolate shavings to finish.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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