Gluten free banana and blueberry cake

Banana and blueberry cake

Banana and blueberry cake

Even on holiday, I can’t help myself and still end up baking! I don’t like seeng food go to waste and had some fruit which was becoming over-ripe so I decided to put it to good use. This is best made with those bananas which are going brown at the bottom of your fruit bowl. I also had a large punnet of blueberries that needed eating so decided to throw some of those into the mix aswell. You could easily use other fruit that you have, such as raspberries or chopped up nuts.

I made this cake with gluten free flour as I’m going to leave it in the freezer here for when my sister comes next week. Her youngest son has Coeliac disease so, as this cake is gluten free, they can all enjoy it. If you don’t need a GF cake, simply use standard plain flour and omit the milk (I only add this as GF flour is quite dry).

I didn’t have any of my usual baking ingredients with me but this cake is so simple it didn’t matter. I even baked it in a roasting tin!

Ingredients:

  • 8oz gluten free plain flour (I use Dove’s Farm which is easily available in supermarkets)
  • Half a teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 4oz soft margarine or butter
  • 7oz granulated sugar
  • 4 very ripe bananas, mashed up
  • 6oz blueberries (this is an approximate amount, more or less is fine)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons milk

You’ll also need an 8 inch square tin, or similar, greased and lined with greaseproof paper.

What you need to do:

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C (fan oven).

Sieve the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Add the margarine/butter and cut into pieces with a table knife. Then rub the butter into the flour using the tips of your fingers, until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar then add the banana and gently fold them into the dry ingredients.

Make a well in the centre of the mix and add the eggs along with the milk. Also tip in the blueberries (or fruit of your choice). Gently stir the eggs, milk and fruit into the other ingredients. Don’t over mix but make sure there are no pockets of flour left.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

Cook for 1 hour then turn the oven down to 150 degrees and bake for a further 30 minutes. If the top starts to brown too much, loosely cover with foil – I forgot to do this so mine came out quite brown on top! I don’t think it matters though as it just adds a lovely crunch to this soft and fruity cake. The cake is cooked when a skewer (or fork) comes out clean.

Leave to cool completely in the tin before turning out then peel off the greaseproof paper.

Gluten free banana and blueberry cake

This would also be delicious with some lemon icing. Simply sift some icing sugar into a bowl, add some lemon juice and mix until you have a pourable icing. Drizzle over the cold cake. Yummy!

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Basic vanilla cupcakes

Here’s a useful recipe for basic vanilla cupcakes. You can use these as a base for all sorts of other cupcakes and decorate them however you like. Serve them simply with some glace icing or pipe a big swirl of fluffy buttercream ontop or use fondant to jazz them up for a special celebration. You can get cupcake cases in all sorts of patterns and styles so the possibilities are endless! They also freeze very well so you can make them in advance and store them in the freezer until you need them. This recipe makes 12-15 cupcakes, depending on how large you want them to be. Ingredients:

  • 6oz soft margarine or butter
  • 6oz caster sugar
  • 6oz self raising flour, sieved
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Equipment:

  • Mixing bowl and electric hand mixer or an electric stand mixer.
  • Cupcake tray or baking tray.
  • 12-15 paper cupcake cases or baking cups.
  • Wire cooling rack.

Method: 1) Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees centigrade (fan oven) and place your paper cases into the cupcake tray. 2) Put all the cupcake ingredients into your bowl. Starting on a low speed, begin to mix them all together. Increase the speed to medium and beat for a couple of minutes until you have a light, fluffy batter.

Cupcake batter.

Cupcake batter.

3) Divide the mixture between your paper cases. If you fill the cases just over half way, you will get about 15 cupcakes that have a flat top. For domed cupcakes, fill the cases about 3/4 way up and you will get about 12 cakes.

Cupcake batter in cases.

Cupcake batter in cases.

4) Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes. The cakes are ready when they spring back if you lightly press them with your finger. If you insert a cocktail stick or skewer into the cupcake, it will come out clean.

Cupcakes cooling.

Cupcakes cooling.

5) Leave the cupcakes in the tray for about 5 minutes then remove them onto a wire rack to cool completely. If you wish to freeze the cupcakes, place them in a sealable food bag or a plastic box with tight fitting lid. Store them flat in the freezer. They do not take long to de-frost so remove them from the freezer about 30 minutes before you want to ice and decorate them.

A classic Victoria sponge cake

This classic Victoria sponge cake is something I bake all the time. I also use the recipe as a basis for all sorts of other cakes and bakes, altering the flavour and amount of ingredients as I need to. Traditionally, sponge recipes call for you to cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs before folding in the flour. However, I find it much easier to use the ‘all in one’ method where all the ingredients are mixed together at the same time.

Ingredients:

This recipe will make an 8 inch cake or approximately 24 cupcakes/buns.

  • 8oz soft butter or margarine
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 8oz self raising flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I prefer to use this rather than essence)
Classic Victoria sponge cake ingredients.

Classic Victoria sponge cake ingredients.

Equipment:

  • 2 x 8 inch round cake tins greased and lined with greaseproof or parchment paper.
  • Mixing bowl.
  • Electric stand mixer or electric stand mixer. You can make this recipe by hand but it is hard work and will take you much longer!
  • Cooling rack.
Prepared tins

Prepared tins

Method:

1) Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees centigrade.

2) Add all your ingredients to your mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer.

Ingredients ready for mixing.

Ingredients ready for mixing.

3) On slow speed, start to mix the ingredients together. Gradually increase the speed to medium and blend for 2-3 minutes until the batter is pale and all the ingredients are well mixed.

Victoria sponge mixture.

Victoria sponge mixture.

4) Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins. Then use the back of a spoon or a spatula to spread the mixture out so it is level.

Divide the mixture between the tins and level.

Divide the mixture between the tins and level.

5) Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden and starting to pull away from the sides of the tin. The sponge should spring back when gently pressed with your finger. If you want to double check, you can insert a cocktail stick or skewer into the cake – this will come out clean when the cake is ready. When baking your cakes, do not open the oven door until at least 20 minutes has passed or your cakes may sink in the middle.

6) Leave the cakes in the tin for 5-10 minutes. Then turn out onto a cooling rack and leave until completely cold. Your cakes are done!

Victoria sponge cakes.

Victoria sponge cakes.

You can use this recipe as a base for lots of different flavoured sponges. Here are some ideas…

  • Lemon – add the finely grated zest of 1 lemon.
  • Orange – add the finely grated zest of 1 small orange or half a large orange.
  • Chocolate – mix 2 tablespoons cocoa powder with 3 tablespoons boiling water until you have a smooth paste. Leave to cool a little before adding to the cake batter and mixing thoroughly.
  • Coffee – mix 2 teaspoons instant coffee with a little boiling water until you have a smooth paste. As with the chocolate, leave to cool a little then add to the cake batter.

 

Assembling the cake:

For a traditional Victoria sponge, you simply sandwich the two layers together with a generous amount of jam and dust the top with either caster sugar or icing sugar. Serve on a pretty cake stand or plate and this forms a wonderful centre piece for an afternoon tea.

To make this even more special, however, you can whip up some fluffy buttercream to sandwich the cakes together and decorate the top. See my basic buttercream recipe for guidance on how to make this. For an 8 inch cake, you will need about 5oz soft butter/margarine and 10oz icing sugar.

1) Place one of the cakes on a serving plate or cake stand. Spread some of the buttercream (approximately half) onto the sponge.

Spread half the buttercream onto the bottom layer of sponge.

Spread half the buttercream onto the bottom layer of sponge.

2) Turn the top layer of sponge over and spread a couple of spoonfuls of jam onto the cake. Then flip this back over and carefully place it onto the bottom layer of sponge.

Spread jam onto the sponge.

Spread jam onto the sponge.

Sandwich the two layers of sponge together.

Sandwich the two layers of sponge together.

3) Again, you could now just dust the top of the cake with sifted icing sugar but we’re going to go all out here! Spread a thin layer of buttercream over the top of the cake. It helps if you have a palette knife as it will give you a nice smooth surface but this isn’t essential and you can just use a normal table knife instead.

Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top of the cake.

Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top of the cake.

4) Next, choose which sprinkles you would like to use and scatter these in the centre of the buttercream you just spread on the cake. You don’t need to put the sprinkles right up to the edge of the cake as we are going to pipe some buttercream swirls.

Add your sprinkles of choice to the centre of the cake.

Add your sprinkles of choice to the centre of the cake.

5) Now we are going to add swirls of buttercream to finish off the cake. For this, you will need a piping bag (I tend to use disposable ones from Lakeland) and a large star piping nozzle. Snip a hole in the bottom of the piping bag and add the nozzle. Then fill the bag with the remaining buttercream. A tip for making this easier is to place your piping bag, with nozzle already inserted, into a tall glass. Push the top of the piping bag over the edge of the glass then fill with buttercream. Pipe swirls of buttercream around the edge of the cake and it is now complete!

Finished Victoria sponge cake.

Finished Victoria sponge cake.

6) Slice and enjoy!

Enjoy your delicious cake!

Enjoy your delicious cake!

Buttercream

Buttercream is a wonderful and delicious thing! It is so versatile and can be made in lots of different flavours and colours to suit any occasion. There are many recipes available but personally, I prefer to just use twice as much icing sugar to butter as I find this works best for me.

Ingredients:

  • 5oz very soft margarine or butter
  • 10oz icing sugar, sifted

This will make enough buttercream to fill and ice an 8 inch round sponge cake or to pipe onto approximately 12 cupcakes. As long as you stick to the ratio of 1:2 you can increase or decrease the amount of ingredients to make as much buttercream as you need.

Equipment:

  • Electric hand beater and mixing bowl or an electric stand mixer. You can make buttercream by hand but it is very hard work, takes a long time and you won’t get quite the same fluffy result as you do with a machine.
  • Gel food colours if you want to colour your buttercream. I would recommend these rather than liquid food colouring as they will not affect the consistency of the icing. They are readily available on the internet and specialist cake shops but I’ve seen that supermarkets are now starting to stock them in the baking aisle.

Method:

1) Place your butter or margarine in your bowl and beat for several minutes until very soft.

2) Add half of the icing sugar to the butter and, starting on a slow speed, to avoid an icing sugar cloud, begin beating the ingredients together. Increase the speed to high and beat until all the icing sugar is incorporated.

3) Add the remaining icing sugar and beat this in as before. Continue to beat on a high speed for several minutes until the buttercream is very light and fluffy. It should have increased in volume and will be very pale.

4) If you want to colour the buttercream, use a toothpick to add a small amount of gel food colouring. Then beat this in thoroughly. If the colour is not strong enough, add in some more food colouring until you have the shade you want. Just remember, you can always add more colouring but you can’t take it away so proceed with caution!

5) To store the buttercream if you are not going to use it straight away, place it in a plastic box with a tight fitting lid and keep it in the fridge. Take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you want to use it so it comes back up to room temperature. You may have to beat it a little before use.

You can use the buttercream to fill and decorate cakes, for crumb coating before adding fondant icing, for swirling on top of cupcakes and many other things.

Cupcake swirl.

Cupcake swirl.