So another January, another attempt at being a Gwyneth Paltrow-esque model of perfect health. Every year comes the endless promises to my body that I will only feed it whole foods, nothing will pass my lips unless it is dense with nutrition and completely lacking in any fun (ie. sugar, fat, carbohydrate, alcohol, yawn). I dream that by February, my skin will be glowing, I will be wearing a size 8 and I will be participating in triathlons. And by the second week in January, I have always conveniently forgotten all these promises to my body. Ohh just one glass/bottle of Prosecco tonight won’t hurt, it’s a special occasion, it’s the dogs birthday. Ohh I’ll just lick the spoon, I need to make sure this cake mix isn’t poisonous. Ohh I’ll just walk this bit of the run so I can take in all the scenery. And before I know it. I am back to old habits and feeling a bit of a failure. So after 29 years of failed resolutions, this years I decided to set myself something a little more achievable rather than trying to completely over haul my lifestyle. As you can tell from the blog that sugar is pretty important to me but I am also very aware that it is not so good for my waistline. I couldn’t possibly ban it altogether (What would become of this blog?! Hollylovescarrots? Hollyloveslentils?) so I am making one little resolution. I am making a conscious effort to cut out refined sugar from my every day diet. That’s it. Sure I can still enjoy licking the bowl after baking and enjoy a slice of my own cake because it’s a once a week treat but day-to-day sugar is no more. If something needs a little sweetening mid week, a bit of raw honey or organic maple syrup does the trick and still offers nutritional benefits. Little changes like this go a long way and mean I am less likely to fail, this morning I made amazing spelt and coconut milk pancakes drizzled with a local honey, totes delish and guilt free (recipe coming soon). So this year, I’m not going to be a resolution failure (don’t quote me on that…)
I’d like to point out that this weeks photos are the first lot of pictures taken solo by me using my new camera (rather than using my mobile). I treated myself to a Canon 100D with my prize winnings from the Tate and Lyle baking dreams competition and set up a set in my garden using an old wooden kitchen top, a huge cardboard box from my mums new VibroPlate and some wallpaper samples I nicked from John Lewis. I’m pretty pleased with myself for a first attempt! It was great fun setting up the scene, trying different angles and props. My mind is already bubbling with ideas for the next shoot!
This weeks cake is cute as a button! These are individual square cakes which have been made from one large rectangular cake and cut into lots of little layers, stacked up with layers of lemon curd (a home made gift from my lovely friend Rachel Holtham), coated in mascarpone icing rolled in chopped hazelnuts. I topped them off with a swirl of mascarpone icing and a white chocolate heart lolly (made with a chocolate mould from Tyger). These make great looking individual desserts or wedding favours. You could swap the lemon curd for jam or Nutella, YUMMO. Yes these are little extra effort but totally worth it.
Lemon, mascarpone and hazelnut mini cakes
- 450g plain flour, sifted
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 120g unsalted butter, softened
- 300g caster sugar
- finely grated zest of 2 lemons
- 4 large eggs
- 300ml whole milk
- 200g chopped hazelnuts
- Juice of half lemon
- 2 teaspoons of caster sugar
- Jar of lemon curd
- 150g mascarpone
- 50g unsalted butter
- 300g icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 180c and grease and line a 30x20cm cake tin (or a couple of smaller square tins. This will affect the thickness of your sponges)
- Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside.
- Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon zest briefly.
- Add the eggs gradually, beating just to incorporate. If the mixture starts to split, add a tablespoon of flour. Add half the dry mixture and beat to combine. Slowly add the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients until just incorporated.
- Divide the mixture between the tins and level out. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack placed over a baking tray. Cut off a third of the cake, prick the third all over with a cocktail stick. Stir the juice from half a lemon with the 2 teaspoons of caster sugar an pour over the third of cake.
- Cut a 5cmx 5cm square template using a piece of card or paper. Cut out as many squares as you can using the template from your sponges.
- Make your icing by beating together the mascarpone and butter. Add icing sugar gradually until desired sweetness achieved, you may require a little more or less icing sugar.
- Take one square that has not been soaked in syrup, add a topping of icing, pop on a layer of sponge that has been soaked in syrup, top that with lemon curd and add one last layer of non syrup sponge. Cover the 4 sides and top with icing. Put your nuts onto a plate or baking tray and roll the cake in the nuts and then scatter some on top. I also added a swirl of icing using a piping bag and nozzle. As mentioned I used a lollipop mould from Tyger and cocktail sticks to make the decorations but feel free to add what you like! Some candied lemon would look cute or some dolly mixtures.