Ready, steady, bake! Cakes inspired by Great British Bake Off

By
Eve O'Sullivan
Added
24 August, 2016

In celebration of the start of Great British Bake Off, we're cooking two of our most popular cake recipes from the library; a gorgeously fragrant sponge from Yasmin Khan's The Saffron Tales, and something chocolatey and indulgent from Claire Clark's 80 Cakes Around the World.

Persian love cake

This enchanting cake reminds me of a Persian garden in the late spring, adorned with the floral scent of rose water and citrus, and decorated with bright green pistachios. If it is not devoured in one sitting, the oil in the ground almond base ensures a moist, densely textured cake that will keep well for a couple of days, covered in foil. A sprinkling of dried rose petals looks ever so pretty for special occasions, but don’t worry if you can’t get hold of any. It’s still a cake to win hearts.


Serves 6-8


200g unsalted butter

150g caster sugar

4 medium eggs

12 cardamom pods

100g plain flour, sifted

275g ground almonds

1 unwaxed lemon, zested and juiced

1 tablespoon rosewater

1 teaspoon baking powder

A generous pinch of fine sea salt


For the drizzle topping

2 tbsp caster sugar

½ lemon, juiced

½ tbsp rosewater


For the icing

150g icing sugar

¾ lemon, juiced

150g icing sugar


To decorate

2 teaspoons sliced pistachios

2 teaspoons dried rose petals


Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. Grease a 22cm cake tin (one with a removable base) and line it with baking parchment.


In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. When the mixture is thoroughly combined, beat in the eggs.


Place the cardamom pods in a mortar and work with a pestle to get the seeds out of the pods. Discard the pods and grind the seeds to a fine powder. Add them to the cake mixture, along with the flour, ground almonds, lemon zest and juice, rose water, baking powder and salt. Mix well.


Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. To check if it is ready, stick a fork in the middle of the cake – it should come out dry.


Towards the end of the cooking time, make your drizzle topping. Place the caster sugar, lemon juice and rose water in a small pan over a low heat and heat until the sugar melts.


Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Poke holes all over the top of the warm cake and drizzle over the syrup.


When the cake is completely cool, make the icing by combining the icing sugar, lemon juice and a few teaspoons of water until you have a smooth, thick icing. Spoon the icing over the cake and finish with a sprinkling of sliced pistachios and, if you like, rose petals.



Chocolate pomegranate cake

Pomegranates are grown throughout Israel and are used in many different dishes. There can be as many as 600 seeds in one fruit. I adore this cake. Moist and divine, it has everything a good cake needs: brown sugar, treacle, spice, chocolate and, of course, pomegranates. Get cracking and try it - you won't be disappointed. The chocolate is in the icing rather than the cake itself, making for a great contrast of chocolate and spice. Serve with creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt as a dessert.


Makes one 23cm cake

330g plain flour

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

245ml buttermilk

2 medium eggs

270g dark soft brown sugar

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

150g treacle

100g unsalted butter, melted


For the syrup

180ml pomegranate juice

170g caster sugar

6 cardamom pods, crushed

½ teaspoon rose water


For the chocolate glaze

20g unsalted butter, diced

120ml double cream

125g dark chocolate, finely chopped


To decorate

1 large pomegranate, seeds removed



Heat the oven to 170°C. Grease a 23cm springform cake tin or a petal cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.


Sift the flour, ginger, cardamom and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl. Make a deep well in the centre, add the buttermilk, eggs, sugar, molasses, treacle and melted butter and whisk until smooth. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes or until the cake is well risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.


To make the syrup, put the pomegranate juice, sugar and cardamom in a small pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat and add the rosewater. Pass through a fine sieve. Allow the syrup to cool slightly, then pour it over the cake in the tin. Leave in the tin for about 15 minutes before turning it out.


To make the glaze, put the butter and cream into a small pan and bring to the boil. Pour over the chocolate in a bowl and leave for I minute, then whisk gently to make a shiny glaze. Pour the glaze immediately over the cake and push it to the sides with a spatula, allowing it to fall over the edges slightly. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds.


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