The return of The Great British Bake Off

It’s that time of year again when everyone is thinking about cakes! Whether you watch the Great British Bake Off or not, you will struggle to avoid hearing about all of the recipes, so if you can’t beat them join them! Why not have your own Bake Off at home or in the office.

Chocolate and Avocado Cake

Ingredients

For the cake

  • a little dairy-free sunflower spread, for greasing
  • 1 large, ripe avocado
  • 300g light muscovado sugar
  • 350g gluten-free plain flour
  • 50g good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 400ml unsweetened soya milk
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 85g ripe avocado 
  • 85g dairy-free sunflower spread
  • 200g dairy-free chocolate, 70% cocoa, broken into chunks
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 125ml unsweetened soya milk
  • 200g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • gluten-free and vegan sprinkles, to decorate
Method
  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease 2 x 20cm sandwich tins, then line the bases with baking parchment. Put the avocado and the sugar in a food processor and whizz until smooth. Add the rest of the cake ingredients to the bowl with 1/2 tsp fine salt and process again to a velvety, liquid batter. Divide between the tins and bake for 25 mins or until fully risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.
  2. Cool in the tins for 5 mins, then turn the cakes onto a rack to cool completely. While you wait, start preparing the frosting. Beat together the avocado and sunflower spread with electric beaters until creamy and smooth. Pass through a sieve and set aside.
  3. Melt the chocolate, either over a bowl of water or in the microwave, then let it cool for a few mins. Sift the cocoa into a large bowl. Bring the soya milk to a simmer, then gradually beat into the cocoa until smooth. Cool for a few mins. Tip in the avocado mix, icing sugar, melted chocolate and vanilla, and keep mixing to make a shiny, thick frosting. Use this to sandwich and top the cake. Cover with sprinkles or your own decoration, then leave to set for 10 mins before slicing. Can be made 2 days ahead.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • eggs
  • finely grated zest 1 lemon
  • 225g self-raising flour

For the drizzle topping

  • juice 1½ lemons
  • 85g caster sugar
Method
  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease 2 x 20cm sandwich tins, then line the bases with baking parchment. Put the avocado and the sugar in a food processor and whizz until smooth. Add the rest of the cake ingredients to the bowl with 1/2 tsp fine salt and process again to a velvety, liquid batter. Divide between the tins and bake for 25 mins or until fully risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.
  2. Cool in the tins for 5 mins, then turn the cakes onto a rack to cool completely. While you wait, start preparing the frosting. Beat together the avocado and sunflower spread with electric beaters until creamy and smooth. Pass through a sieve and set aside.
  3. Melt the chocolate, either over a bowl of water or in the microwave, then let it cool for a few mins. Sift the cocoa into a large bowl. Bring the soya milk to a simmer, then gradually beat into the cocoa until smooth. Cool for a few mins. Tip in the avocado mix, icing sugar, melted chocolate and vanilla, and keep mixing to make a shiny, thick frosting. Use this to sandwich and top the cake. Cover with sprinkles or your own decoration, then leave to set for 10 mins before slicing. Can be made 2 days ahead.

Carrot Cake

Ingredients

For the cake

  • zest and juice 1 orange
  • 50g sultanas
  • 150ml sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
  • eggs
  • 140g soft light brown sugar
  • 85g wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 85g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp each ground cinnamon and ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 140g carrots, coarsely grated
  • 50g walnuts, chopped, plus a few halves to decorate

For the icing

  • 200g soft cheese
  • 50g butter, softened
  • 85g icing sugar, sifted
  • pinch ground cinnamon
Method
  1. If you have time to do it the night before, put the orange zest and juice in a bowl with the sultanas. If you don’t have time, on the day simply stir the zest, juice and sultanas together and microwave on Medium for 1-2 mins.
  2. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and grease and line the base and sides of a 2lb loaf tin. Whisk together the oil and eggs. Mix together the sugar, flours, mixed spice, cinnamon and bicarb in your largest mixing bowl. Add the sultanas with any juice and zest left in the bowl, grated carrot, walnuts and whisked egg mixture into the dry ingredients, then thoroughly mix with a wooden spoon. Tip into the loaf tin and bake on the middle shelf for 1 hr, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin.
  3. Once cool, remove from the tin and make the icing. With an electric whisk, beat together the soft cheese, butter, icing sugar and cinnamon until smooth. Spread over the top of the cake and decorate with walnut halves.
Ingredients

For the raspberry sponge

  • 150ml pot raspberry yogurt
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 100g frozen raspberry, defrosted
  • 200g self-raising flour, plus an extra 5 tbsp
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • artificial pink food colouring

For the chocolate sponge

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150ml pot natural yogurt
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

To decorate

  • 200ml pot double cream
  • 100g seedless raspberry jam
  • 100g bar dark chocolate, roughly chopped

vegetable oil, for greasing

Method
  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line the base of a deep 22cm round cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. To make the raspberry sponge, put the yogurt, oil and raspberries in a food processor or blender, and whizz until well blended. Sieve, to remove the seeds, into a measuring jug, until you reach 300ml. Discard the rest.
  3. From now, make the 2 cakes simultaneously. In 2 mixing bowls, separately mix the dry ingredients, plus a pinch of salt, for the raspberry and chocolate sponges. Crack in the eggs, then add the yogurt, oil and vanilla extract to the chocolate one, and the measured raspberry mixture to the other. Beat each with an electric whisk until smooth, cleaning whisks between bowls. Quickly stir some pink food colouring into the raspberry batter, to give a strong colour – a good cherry pink works well.
  4. Sit the cake tin in front of you and a bowl of cake batter to each side – you need to work quickly and smoothly for the next bit, so make sure your oven is hot and racks are in the right place. Using 2 x ½ cup measurers, or 2 similar ladles or serving spoons, spoon 1 measure (about 150ml) of the chocolate batter into the very centre of the prepared cake tin. Don’t wait for it to settle or spread, quickly top with the same measure of raspberry mixture, right in the middle (see Secrets of success, below). Repeat alternating batters, without pausing, until all the mixes are finished, then put straight in the oven.
  5. Bake for 1 hr until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean – keep an eye on it though, you may want to loosely cover with parchment after 45 mins if the cake is looking dark (the top will be cracked). Cool in the tin.
  6. To decorate, put the cream and raspberry jam in a pan, and bring nearly to the boil, stirring to melt the jam. Take off the heat, tip in the chocolate and leave until melted. Stir together until smooth. When thick enough to spread, remove the cake from the tin and swirl the chocolate icing all over the top.

Chocolate and Raspberry Zebra Cake

Banana Cake  with Pecan Crumble Crunch

Ingredients
Method
  1. Heat  the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4, and line the base and sides of a deep 20cm (8 inch) loose-bottomed cake tin with baking parchment. For the crumble topping stir together 2 tbsp each of the sugar, flour and chopped pecans, then add the butter, cut into a few pieces, and rub together until you have sticky crumbs. Set aside.
  2. Break up the whole eggs with a fork, then mix with the mashed banana, oil and milk until all the wet ingredients are well combined. In a separate, large bowl tip in the remaining sugar, flour and pecans, and briefly stir with the cinnamon and baking powder. Whisk the egg whites until just stiff. To combine, tip the oily banana mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and quickly stir in until you have a smooth, lump-free mix. Finally using a large metal spoon or spatula gently fold in the egg whites, then carefully pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Scatter over the crumble topping and bake for 1 hr, until a skewer stuck in to the middle comes out clean. Check the cake with 15 mins to go, if the surface is browning too quickly cover with another piece of baking parchment.
  3. Once the cake is ready leave it in its tin for 5 minutes, then finish cooling on a wire rack.

Unicorn Cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 150g white caster sugar
  • eggs
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 150g self-raising flour

For the vanilla syrup

For the buttercream

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 4 tsp milk
  • few drops vanilla extract
  • food colouring ( we used pink, green and blue)

To decorate

  • selection of sweets and sprinkles (we used hundreds and thousands, chocolate buttons, white chocolate stars, Smarties and coloured sugar).
Method
  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line a 12-hole cupcake tin with paper muffin cases. Put all of the cake ingredients into a bowl and whisk with electric beaters for 3-4 mins until light and pale. Divide the mixture evenly between the cases and bake for 20 mins or until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of one of the cakes comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  2. Mix together the maple syrup, vanilla extract and 1 tbsp water. Use a cocktail stick to poke a few tiny holes in each of the cooled cupcakes then drizzle a little bit of the syrup over each one.
  3. Beat together the butter, icing sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth and pale. Put half the buttercream in one bowl and leave as it is, then divide the other half into 3 bowls. Use the food colouring to dye one pink, one pale green and one pale blue, then transfer them all to one large piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle, including the plain. Pipe swirls on top of the cupcakes – as the buttercream comes through the bag, the colours will start to blend and change as you pipe. Decorate the tops of the cupcakes with your favourite sprinkles if you like.

This indulgent Chocolate and Avocado cake, is topped with a rich frosting – you’d never guess that it’s free from dairy, eggs, wheat and nuts. Find the recipe here.