Category Archives: Cakes and patisserie

Tarty plum cake

Tarty plum cake

The lovely V was gigging, and there was no cake left in the house for his midnight supper. Pregnant and somewhat tired, I thought I would bake him something quick and easy to put a smile on his face. I came up with plum tart/cake as there were plenty of plums in the fruit bowl. We did not have a lot of butter, hence, the use of white chocolate.

450g plums

2 eggs

140g light demarera sugar

1tsp vanilla sugar (or some vanilla essence if you do not have access to this Danish gold dust)

75g self-raising flour

40g butter (or 80g if leaving out the chocolate)

40g white chocolate

50g hazelnuts (or a mix of nuts); roughly chopped (not toasted)

½-1 tbsp cinnamon

½ tsp cardamon (optional)


Turn the oven on to 190C.

Half the plums and remove the stones.

Melt the butter and chocolate and leave to cool slightly.

Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla until white and fluffy.

Add flour, butter and melted chocolate (and cardamon if using).

Grease a tart tin (if you use one with a loose bottom, you need to line it as the runny dough will otherwise escape).

Pour the dough into the tin, then press in the plums, cut side up.

Spread the chopped hazelnuts on top.

Sprinkle w a tablespoon of sugar and the cinnamon.

Bake for 25-35 minutes.

Dust with icing sugar if you must. Serve with crème fraîche  or natural yogurt.


Kanelsnurrer (cinnamon buns)

I have not posted in absolute ages. Apologies. It is not as if I have not been cooking or writing, though. I have done both in spades and, hence, have not had a minute to spare. That, and I have been watching Treme…


This week has been a baking bonanza: focaccia, fastelavnsboller (buns filled with creme patissiere) and kanelsnurrer. All three were a hit, so I shall post recipes for all. However, there is no question that the most popular were the kanelsnurrer. By a mile. Mr Speranza said it is one of the nicest pastries he has ever tried, and that is saying something given how much he loves bakery goods and the fact that he is a superb baker.

Makes 14 enormous kanelsnurrer

5 dl cold milk

15g fast action dried yeast

1 egg

1 kg flour (preferably strong)

150 g sugar

15 g sea salt

2 pods of cardamon (ground)

90 g butter

For the filling:

125 g butter (soft)

125 g light demarera sugar

3 tbsp cinnamon (ground)

Dissolve the yeast in the milk, then add the other dry ingredients (i.e. all except the butter). Mix in a kitchen robot for 15 minutes at a medium speed. The dough needs to be smooth and shiny, but not sticky. Now, add the butter in little cubes, and mix for a further 5-10 minutes. Do not skimp on the kneading, it makes all the difference. Leave the dough to rest for 2 hours covered by a tea towel.

Roll the dough out into a square (40cm x 50cm), and gently spread on the butter for the filling. You need to go all the way to the edges. Then sprinkle on the sugar and the cinnamon, and massage/press it gently, but firmly, into the butter. Fold the top one third of the dough towards the middle, and then the bottom one third on top (the dough is not a third of its original size). Roll the dough into a square, this time 30cm x 60 cm, and then cut it into 28 strips.

Take two strips and squeeze them together at the top. Hold the end of the two strips between your index and middle finger, then twist the strips twice around the two fingers, put the end through the loop and pull gently. Place on a lined baking tray, and leave to rise until doubled in size (approx. 2 hours).

Turn the oven on to 200C. Brush the kanelsnurrer with egg and/or milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes until baked through and nicely browned. They should be lovely and moist.

Ciambella – by Mr Speranza

Danish Storm is not a cake person. I am. So when she asked me to contribute a guest post on the subject of baking, I found it hard to choose a particular recipe.
Then I realised that there is one cake in my baking repertoire that I cook more often than any other. A cake that is at the same time excellent tasting, not too indulgent (you could happily have a slice every day with your morning coffee), Italian in origin, and dead easy to make. It had to be it. So let me tell you about the ciambella.
The ciambella is a round Italian cake (hence the name – ciambella means “tyre” in Italian) with an interesting floury texture, somehow in between a biscuit and a pound cake. It’s great for dipping in tea or coffee, and can also be served with desserts where its dry texture works wonders – particularly as an accompaniment to creamy puddings such as chocolate mousse or creme caramel.
The basic recipe below is flavoured with lemon and vanilla, but can be easily changed to incorporate different flavours instead: rhum, amaretto liqueur, orange zest, orange blossom water, rose water, etc.
For one ciambella:
115g butter (at room temperature)
450g self raising flour
170g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs (reserve 1 tsp of one yolk for the glaze)
2 tsp of vanilla essence
4 tbsp of milk
1) Rub the butter it into the flour and sugar with your hands until you get a mixture that looks like fine breadcrumbs.
Mr Speranza
2) Add the eggs, milk and salt and mix together into a dough.
3) Shape the dough into a thick sausage and form a ring with it.
4) Score the dough with 4 long slashes (in a criss-cross pattern).
5)  Brush the ciambella with a glaze made with 1 tsp of beaten egg yolk and 1tsp of water.
6) Bake for 35 minutes at 190C (170C fan assisted).