Tag Archives: cake making

Pistachio and Plum Cake

Whilst we are, of course, normally far too busy being exceedingly fabulous hostesses to stop for afternoon tea, there are just occasionally times when the planets align and we are able to let our mascara run and our reinforced under cladding sag (well away from public view, obviously), kick off our court shoes and spark up a Capstan Full Strength while the kettle boils.

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

Seeing as though also we are trying to reintegrate into high society once again, this uniquely English institution is a remarkably civilised and uncomplicated step to take on that journey. One thing it does require, though, is cake – and this is a slightly exotic version of a Victoria Sandwich. I hope you enjoy its rich denseness and alluring pale green and amaranth colours, just not quite in the somewhat literal sense Brenda seems to have done by the look of the stretch marks in her Spanx and the jangling palette of her maquillage…..

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake


for the cake

200g unsalted pistachios – shelled and skinned
275g butter – in approx 1-2cm cubes and at room temp
275g icing sugar
7 large eggs
375g ground almonds
110g cornflour
2tsp baking powder

for the filling

stewed plums – we had these in the freezer. Don’t worry if you don’t, you can use a neighbour’s – or just use plum jam.
sugar to taste

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake


Preheat the oven to 180°C while you shell and skin the pistachios – if you buy pre shelled, excellent. Rub most of the skins off but don’t overly fret if some get left on, making a cake should be a pleasure, not turned into an afternoon of purgatory.

Place the pistachios in a metal pan and roast for 5 mins, perhaps briefly taking out half way through to give the pan a small shake.

Once hot and fragrant, take out and blitz in the food processor until they’re forming a paste.

Now lower the oven temperature to 150°C while you grease with butter and line a 22cm cake tin.

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

Add the ground almonds, the butter, icing sugar and eggs (I popped a couple of extra yolks in too which I had in the fridge left over from making a meringue!). Whizz for up to 2 mins or so till well combined, add the cornflour and whizz on slowest speed for a few seconds till just combined.

Pour the mix into the cake tin and slot into the oven on the middle shelf for an hour or a tiny bit longer if not quite yet cooked. I also turned mine half way through to ensure very even cooking.

Meanwhile, take about 300ml of the stewed plums, pressed them through a sieve into a small pan and heated gently on the hob. Then add just enough sugar to take off the sour edge but not cause the fruit to get too sweet. Allow the puree to just simmer for about 15-20 mins so that you end up with something quite jammy in consistency. Set aside to cool.

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

Once the cake is done, turn out onto a wire rack to cool which may take a good couple of hours. With a long, thin blade, slice horizontally in two, and on the lower half, spread a fairly thin layer of the plum puree – as if to spread jam on toast. Replace the top half of the cake, dust with icing sugar and serve with cups of tea using your best china!

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake

It is a lovely time of year for enjoying a small slice of cake with a cup of tea in the late afternoon sun. Well, some of us show some restraint. Unfortunately Fanny always helps herself to gargantuan slices and drinks our home made Plum Vodka with hers!!!

lovely tea time lemon drizzle cake by fanny and brenda

225g butter –  softened
225g caster sugar
4 egg plus a yolk if you’re feeling decadent
2 lemons – zest finely grated ( I recommend doing this directly into the mix at the time)
225g self-raising flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
For the drizzle topping
juice of 2 lemons
100g caster sugar


.    Heat oven to 150°C fan.

.    Beat together the softened butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy, then add the  eggs one at a time,  mixing through after each one.

Now sift in the flour -  I like to put half in first, mix, then the other half (it helps avoid flour storms…) and the baking powder –  next zest the lemon directly into the bowl, which ensures all the lemon oil (and therefore flavour) gets into the mix –  and combine well.

Line a loaf tin (8 x 21cm) with buttered greaseproof paper,  spoon in the mixture and level out the top.

.    Bake for 50-55 mins until a skewer inserted right into the cake comes out clean. While the cake is cooling in its tin, mix together the lemon juice  and the caster sugar to make the drizzle. Prick the warm cake all over with a skewer or fork, then pour over the drizzle – the juice will sink in and the sugar will form a crisp sweet-tangy topping.

Once the cake is completely cool, turn it out of the tin, slice and serve…

lovely tea time lemon drizzle cake by fanny and brenda

Almond Cake with Plum Purée

This really is a lovely tea-time treat and simple to make. The end result is sweet and moist and with the plum purée it could double as a delicious pud too.
fanny and brendas almond cake with plum puréee - simple to make and an absolute treat


200g ground almonds

275g caster sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp almond extract

3 large eggs

250g salted butter (softened)

1 measure of Galliano (vanilla) liqueur (or apricot brandy or indeed cherry brandy)

75g plain flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

Icing sugar to dust


Small bowl of stewed plums

Icing sugar to sweeten


Preheat oven to 180°c/350°F

Take a cake tin with a push out bottom and grease it. Then place some baking paper in the bottom and grease that too.

Add a scattering of sliced almonds to the base.

fanny and brendas almond cake with plum puréee - simple to make and an absolute treat

Take your ground almonds and mix them with the sugar and salt in the blender.

Now take a small handful of that mixture and scatter it over the base and round the edges. This will give a rather lovely crust to the finished product.

Add the eggs, butter and Galliano to the mix and blend well

Add the flour and baking powder and blend

fanny and brendas almond cake with plum puréee - simple to make and an absolute treat

Pour mixture into cake dish and place in the middle of the oven.

Cook for 20 minutes and then reduce to 150°c/300°F for the last 15 minutes.

Leave to cool for a couple of hours and then take out of cake dish.

Place on presentation plate and dust with icing sugar

fanny and brendas almond cake with plum puréee - simple to make and an absolute treat

For the purée

Take a bowl of stewed plums

Sieve them into another bowl

Add icing sugar to sweeten to taste

Serve cake with cream and purée and watch your guests become friends for life!

fanny and brendas almond cake with plum puréee - simple to make and an absolute treat

Orange and Ginger Sponge Cake

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

I was awoken this morning by the sound of some appallingly obtrusive snoring from the next bedroom. I had never heard such disgusting sounds, at least not within the realms of civilised humanity. I poked my gracious head around the door and saw an elephantine lump breathing and belching flatulently, a vision that might have been redolent of a particularly nasty pyscho horror film. Fanny was on her back under the duvet, her head wrapped in her lacy bonnet, her substantial red nostrils flaring with every intake of breath dreaming no doubt about her latest Brazilian. It was a sight that few could have withstood without mental damage, but magically I survived.

I will have you know however that it was too damned early, and Ruby the cat was annoyed by the unnecessary sleep interruption. Desperate times call for desperate measures and frankly I felt like eating a large and sumptuous cake as compensation for the rude awakening. I stamped downstairs and decided on making a refreshing stimulating and quite fabulous orange and ginger sponge cake. Here is the recipe.

Zesty Orange and Ginger Cake

Preheat oven to 160°c

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

For the cake
• 250g butter
• 250g self-raising flour
• 1 level tsp baking powder
• 125g golden caster sugar
• 125g soft brown sugar
• 4 large eggs
• finely grated zest of 2 oranges
• 2 heaped dessert spoons glace ginger

For the butter icing
• 75g butter, softened
• 75g icing sugar, sifted
• 1 dessert spoonful of glace ginger pieces
• finely grated zest of 2 oranges

For the glaze topping
• 100g icing sugar
• juice of an orange (approx 100g)
• zest of 1 orange


Grease two loose bottomed cake tins and place a sheet of baking paper on the base of each. This will help later when you have to extract the cake from the tins.

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

Put all of the dry cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl and combine them with the butter and the zest till you have a rather lovely fragrant doughey mixture.

Add the eggs, and whisk to blend giving a soft cake mixture.

Stir in the glace ginger dispersing it well.

Split the mixture between the two loose bottomed greased cake tins

Place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Check with skewer that the cakes are cooked. If still slightly gooey in the centre give them another 4-5 minutes.

Take out and place on a rack to cool.

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

Sandwiched buttercream icing

Once the cake has cooled mix the softened butter and the icing sugar in a large bowl.

Add half the grated rind.

Take one of the cakes and add a layer of icing to it.

Add some of the glace ginger to the layer that will be in the middle of the cakes.

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

For the topping

Mix the icing sugar and juice of half an orange

Add the zest

Pour the thin liquid over the top of the cake allowing it to overflow down the sides

Leave to set for a couple of hours – giving you a slightly crispy topping!

Candying peel

It’s strange how the last days of a warm summer have passed and how quickly Christmas is now approaching. On the train today I saw two glittery ‘snowmen’ on a city roof along with some other festive decorations. The build up has begun and while it’s easy to complain about it all, actually it is a useful prompt to start some of the preparations for the food to be enjoyed at that time.

mixed candied candy citrus orange lemon lime peel

Today I have been candying citrus fruit peel – 3 oranges.  I am intending some of this peel to go into the Fanny and Brenda Joyous Christmas Cake and some of it to go into my really very delicious mincemeat.

mixed candied candy citrus orange lemon lime peel

Now wash the fruit. Cut off the ends. I did the same with the oranges, lemons and limes. Make sure all of them are unwaxed.

Cut the skin into quarters as it makes the peeling a bit easier.

mixed candied candy citrus orange lemon lime peel

Peel off the skin and cut into narrow slithers

Place them in a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil.

Tip the water out and repeat twice. This will tenderise the skin.

mixed candied candy citrus orange lemon lime peel

Meanwhile in a bowl whisk up 400g of caster sugar in 200g of water.

Now tip into a small pan and turn on the heat. Let it simmer for about five minutes and then add the peel

Cook on a slow simmer for about 50 minutes.

When soft strain them and place them in a tray to cool down.

(I keep the resultant syrup for using in tarts and dribbling on ice cream….)

Once they have cooled you can use them in the fruit mix for the christmas cake or mincemeat or they can be covered in caster sugar and enjoyed individually.

I have found that  different citrus types cook slightly differently. Please check out my blog about candying lemon peel.

mixed candied candy citrus orange lemon lime peel