Posts tagged cake

Orange Polenta Cake (free-from)


ollowing on from chapter 1 – “Hoisin, Soy and Ginger Meatballs” (previous post) you’ll know that a heavy weekend of exercise required some calorie replacement. Cue dessert. I’m not a big cake eater but any cake that’s doused in syrup is one that I can get on board with.

I’ve made a few drizzle cakes and polenta loaves in the past but the use of whole oranges in this recipe really makes a difference and bumps this one up the leader board! It doesn’t require a huge amount more effort but means this cake is moist and packed with orange flavour. It also make an excellent dessert unlike a Victoria sponge style cake as you can serve it warm with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream.


nintentionally this recipe is also dairy and gluten free! Which I think leads smoothly onto the news that I have now officially left the wine industry which has served me well for the past 4 years in London! But I’m more than excited to be entering a fresher, more creative and healthier career with Deliciously Ella. So next week starts the second chapter of my London life. Who knows what it has to hold and what recipes these blog posts might contain in the near future.

Adapated from a recipe by ‘John Torode’


  • 2 large oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 4 eggs
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 150g polenta
  • 80ml olive oil
  • 10g baking powder

Sticky Syrup

  • 3 oranges, juice (150ml juice)
  • 75g caster sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 23cm cake tin (springform recommended or loose bottomed)
  2. Place 1 orange and 1 lemon in a saucepan of water so they are completely submerged and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. After 30 minutes, remove the fruit from the pan and cut in half. Remove any unwanted seeds.
  4. Place in the bowl of a food processor and add the juice only of the other orange and lemon. Blend into a thick smooth paste.
  5. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt until foaming. Add the sugar and beat again.
  6. Next add the orange paste, almonds, oil and combine well.
  7. Add the polenta to the baking powder then fold these dry ingredients into the wet.
  8. Pour into your lined baking tin and bake for about 50 minutes.
  9. While cooking, make the syrup. Heat the sugar and juice on a medium heat until beginning to bubble and turn glossy. Keep warm.
  10. When the cake is ready pour over the syrup liberally whilst still in the tin. I like to pierce the whole cake with a cocktail stick (especially at the edges and middle) to allow the syrup to seep into the cake better. This prevents it running off the top and collecting round the edges.
  11. Once the syrup has soaked in thoroughly, remove from the tin and turn out onto a serving plate

Serve warm with ice cream or at room temperature. The cake will keep well for about a week if stored well and become more moist!


Coconut Blueberry Yoghurt Loaf

Jess - Coconut yoghurt loafJess - Coconut yoghurt loaf 2


was recently lucky enough to receive a generous bounty (excuse the pun) of The Coconut Collaborative’s tasty products to do some experimenting with. As my close friends will know I love all things coconut. I can’t get enough. So any food based with this creamy exotic flavour is in my good books. While targeted at the dairy free among us, you would not know for the lack of it with it creamy moreish taste. I thought I’d attempt to use their delicious flavoured and non flavoured yoghurts in a cake, dairy free, and packed with fruit. Devine.

And I know recipes do tend to write this a lot but this really (truly, honestly) is the EASIEST cake in the world to knock out. I think it took me a 5 minutes. Mixing bowl, spoon and loaf tin. Minimal washing up…more eating time. No scales needed just a ratio of yog-pots!

Jess - Coconut yoghurtJess - Coconut yoghurt2Makes 1 loaf

  • 1x 120g pot of ‘The Coconut Colloborative’ blueberry yoghurt (Here is have used this coconut based yoghurt so this is a dairy free loaf! But feel red to use any yoghurt of choice)
  • 2 pots self raising flour
  • Just under 1 pot caster sugar (dependant on the sweetness of your yoghurt)
  • 1/2 pot of vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/ seeds from 1 pod
  • Pinch salt
  • 150g blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. and grease and line a loaf tin
  2. Place the yoghurt in a large mixing bowl and then add the rest of the ingredients except the blueberries.
  3. Mix thoroughly to combine until you have a smooth batter
  4. Mix in the blueberries
  5. Spoon the mixture into a loaf tin and bake in the own for about 45 minutes until cooked. Bake for a little longer if a knife inserted into the middle does not come out clean.
  6. Leave to cool, dust with icing sugar and serve with extra blueberries and a hearty spoonful of Coconut Ice cream (see here for a dairy free option)

Jess - Coconut yoghurt loaf 5

Coffee Drizzle Cake with Hazelnut Mascarpone


f you are, like me, an appreciator of all things coffee in flavour then this cake is certainly one to test out on a cold Sunday afternoon for a crowd that need pleasing. And more specifically a mother! (Happy Mother’s Day!) I’ll admit I’m no coffee nerd but even those that can pour a perfect patterned topped latte will love you for this moist sponge cake. I think many people these days are intimidated by baking with a preconcieved idea that it is difficult due to the eleborate disguise of the 21st century decoration, intricate piping and macaroon topped bakes. However like most cakes, the baking bit is extremely easy! Mix and combine. How you choose to refine your decoration is up to you. I don’t seem to have a natural knack for it sadly and my piping skills are far from successful on most attempts so this weekend I abandoned the fancy piping bag in place of the palate knife and went for a more welcomed rustic and homemade visual. It won’t win any show stopper rounds thats for sure but its all about the taste and texture…

This cake is based on a Delia classic. The sponge and syrup recipe have been taken from her ‘How to Cook – Book One’ with just a few adaptations in the ‘forage in the pantry’ style.

Sponge and Icing

  • 1 1/2 tbsp coffee dissolved in 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 75g walnuts
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 175g softened butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 8 tbsp sieved icing sugar
  • Handful of chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • Optional – 1 tbsp Frangelico/Amaretto
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder


  • 1 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 55ml boiling water
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and grease and line two cake tins (18cm/20cm wide. No bigger than 20cm)
  2. Toast the walnuts in a dry pan or hot oven for a few minutes until fragrant then set aside. Once cool, chop roughly.
  3. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl or the bowl of a food processor.
  4. Add the butter, sugar and eggs and mix until smooth and shiny. Add the coffee and combine well.
  5. Finally fold in the chopped walnuts then divide the mixture into the two tins, spreadably evenly and flattening out the tops.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  7. Meanwhile make the syrup. Combine the sugar and coffee in a jug before adding the boiling water. Stir continuously and thoroughly until he sugar has dissolved fully. Set aside until needed.
  8. Next make the icing. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl before beating in the mascarpone cheese. Add the liquor of choice if using and beat until smooth. Stir in the chopped hazelnuts, leaving some for scattering over the top. Taste and add more icing sugar if you like it a little sweeter.
  9. Once the cakes are cooked remove from the oven and prick all over with a cocktail stick or similar.
  10. Pour the syrup over both cakes until evenly absorbed. I find this is best done a spoonful at a time to avoid overflow.
  11. Leave to cool completely.
  12. When cool, remove from the tins and turn out onto a wire rack. For the base you’ll need the most even and flat looking cake. You may need to slice off the rounded top in order to get this but this little syrupy slice is an ideal tester!
  13. Place this onto a plate or cake stand and spoon over half the mascarpone smoothing out with a palate knife.
  14. Top with the second cake and the rest of the mascarpone.
  15. Scatter with any remaining nuts and a sprinkling of cocoa powder

Jess - Coffee Cake3

Dorset Apple Cake



here is nothing like a bit of baking on a cold, drizzly weekend to ease and nourish the soul and there is nothing like the warming spices of cinnamon and ginger combined lovingly with a spongey sweet cake and some juicy sharp seasonal apples to bake! Devoured cold with a warm brew or warm and spongy with lashings of Ambrosia, ice cream or just a trowel-ful of clotted cream you’ll fail to not be comforted by this festive tray bake. Open to additional ingredients this cake batter would be beautiful marbled with chunks of sweet marzipan or topped with some flaked almonds or toasty pecan nuts.

Adapted from Marry Berry

Makes about 18 large pieces

  • 3 large cooking apples (About 550g)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 225g light muscovado sugar
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 large heaped tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a tray bake tin (about 30cm x 23cm)
  2. Peel, core and quarter the apples. Slice each thinly and place in a bowl. Squeeze over the lemon to prevent browning.
  3. Now, using an electric hand mixer or food processor, blend the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, half the cinnamon and ginger together before adding the eggs. Beat well adding a splash of milk to loosen for a few minutes until golden, glorious and combined.
  4. Spoon half into the lined baking tray. Top with halve the apples slices scattered randomly but evening over. Sprinkle over the remaining cinnamon
  5. Spread over the remaining batter and even out with a pallet knife
  6. Top with the remaining apples slices, pushing them into the batter slightly.
  7. OPTIONAL: Top with flaked almonds or nuts or a sprinkle or crunchy demerara sugar.
  8. bake for about 40 minutes until golden, spongey and firm and just communing away from the sides of the tray.
  9. Leave to cool before cutting. Serve warm with ice cream, custard or cream or at room temperature with a nice cup of tea!

Jess - Dorset Apple Cake3

Coffee and Walnut Brownies

Leftover Easter eggs. Still you cry! Yes, as a dark chocolate lover you don’t need much hence why I have a vat of the stuff still sitting patiently in the pantry. Brownies anyone?

Without doubt the best, most trusty brownie recipe and one I’ve always gone back to time after time. My only concern each time I make it is the sugar content. But we are talking about brownies here which come with a certain set of health flaws anyway. Courtesy of Green & Blacks but highly adapted here to reflect one of my favourite cakes, walnuts for crunch and coffee beans for surprise.

Makes about 20

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 100g dark chocolate (70%) Green & Blacks
  • 350g dark brown soft sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • Pinch salt
  • 100g chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp coffee beans, ground into chunks in a pestle and mortar
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 28cm x 18cm brownie tin with parchment (or a similar size)
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water until melted and combined. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Stir in the sugar and instant coffee granules until combined.
  4. Whisk the eggs and vanilla well in a bowl and then whisk these continuously into the chocolate mixture until well combined and glossy.
  5. Gently fold in the flour and salt.
  6. Finely, stir in the chopped nuts and crushed coffee beans.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until crispy on top but still soft inside. The edges may cook quicker leaving the middle pieces gooey and dense.
  8. Leave to cool completely (yes I know…amuse yourself here) until cold. Then cut into enormous pieces. Serve with some cool creamy ice cream.

Pear and Cinnamon Cake with Lotus Buttercream




wanted to create an Autumn cake that would fit with the seasons. Having been a bit of a stranger to baking recently, a gloriously empty leafy weekend back home seemed like a good time to reassure myself that The Great British Bake Off hadn’t detered me from the cake world! Pears seemed like a good choice here and I’m a cinnamon addict. After recently discovering the delights of ‘Lotus spread’ I felt it needed a place in one of my recipes so is used here in a crunchy coffee tainted buttercream. The chocolate leaves are a nice Autumnal touch here for a special occasion but feel free to leave these off if life is far too short in your eyes…

Makes 2 small cakes or 1 large one


  • 740g pears
  • 40g butter
  • 3 tbsp light muscovado sugar
  • ½ heaped tsp cinnamon
  • 200g butter
  • 200g sugar
  • 200g self raising flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3 large eggs, beaten lightly
  1. Peel, core and halve the pears and diced.
  2. Heat the 40g butter, sugar and cinnamon in a frying pan until melted.
  3. Add the pears and cook until the pears and softened and the caramel thickens and coats the pears. Set aside to cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 170°C. and grease and line 2 small cake tins (15cm wide) or one large one (24cm spring form tin)
  5. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  6. Add the eggs bit by bit with a little flour if it curdles.
  7. Fold in the flour and baking powder
  8. Finally fold in the pears and their syrup and spoon into the tins.
  9. bake for about 35-40 minutes until springy to touch and cooked in the middle. Leave to cool.

NOTE: Cake tin size: I used two small tins. This isn’t really a recipe that could make a tiered cake due to the pears which make it more of a dense cake. So either use 2 small tins for 2 cakes or one large one. I also had some extra mixture so made a few muffins (which will take about 20 minutes to bake) as gifts to take to some willing friends.




  • 160g unsalted butter, softened
  • 80g ‘Lotus biscuit spread’, crunchy
  • 90g ish icing sugar
  • 40-50g dark chocolate
  • Handful mint leaves
  1. Start with the chocolate leaves. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over some simmering water until melted.
  2. Use a pastry brush and coat the back of the mint leaves very thickly. Done too thinly and they will snap when ready. Don’t worry about doing these really thickly. Lay over a rolling pin to dry and pop in the fridge.
  3. Once set, remove from the fridge. I won’t lie, this bit is fiddly and I think I only ended up with 2 whole leaves. But, the effect is still good. Make sure your hands are really hot and carefully peel the mint leaf from the chocolate. Repeat and set these aside carefully.
  4. For the buttercream, cream together the butter, spread and as much icing sugar to taste. This is a guide and your tastes will vary.
  5. Spoon into a piping back and use to pipe your cakes
  6. Decorate with the leaves and serve!


Apple Pie ‘Duffins’ and a 2nd Birthday




This weekend called for a belated blog birthday celebration and naturally a cake! Celebrating not only the last day of August which was blissfully sunny and spent wakeboarding on a glass-like lake in Wiltshire with some friends, but also the 2nd birthday of ‘forage in the pantry’ or FITP as its been recently named. Since my first ever blogged recipe and still one of my absolute favourites (see here) it has been two years of new experiments, flavours, combinations, styles, and ingredients which have flown by deliciously. A LOT has happened and changed in these past 2 years but the blog has been ticking over loyally and creatively in the background. Maintaining my sanity and satiety.

It pains me to say it but as Autumn approaches on the horizon in the form of darker nights and colder mornings, the apples are abundant and I felt it only natural to choose them as the star in my birthday cake. Taking inspiration from the controversial Starbucks ‘Duffin’ (muffin filled with jam) I have concocted a cinnamon cake filled wickedly with a slow roasted spiced apple puree and a tangy ginger lemon frosting. I refrained from rolling in sugar. Delicious served fresh on the day bitten into with no prior warning of the jammy filling.

Apple Pureesee here

Apple Crisps

  • 1 apple
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 35ml water
  • cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 130° C and line a baking tray with parchment.
  2. Slice the apple on the horizontal using a mandolin to very fine slithers.
  3. Heat the water and sugar in a pan until the sugar dissolves and it bubbles into a lovely clear syrup.
  4. Lay the slices on the tray and brush with the glaze. Dust with a little cinnamon and sugar if you like and bake in a low oven for about 30 minutes until dry and crisp. Leave to cool.

Cinnamon Muffins – I actually found these too big and dense. I think they’d work much better as cupcake with a lighted spongy texture so I have included a recipe below but feel free to make them GIANT and muffin like as titled.

  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 115g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 35g chopped hazelnuts (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 180° C and line a cupcake tin with cases.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together very well until pale a fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla a bit at a time.
  4. Now sieve in the flour, cinnamon and baking powder and fold in gently until just incorporated.
  5. Fold in the nuts and loosen with a dash of milk if needed.
  6. Fill your cupcake cases and bake for about 15 minutes until golden and set in the middle. Leave to cool.





Ginger Lemon Buttercream

  • 125g softened unsalted butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp ginger syrup (from a jar of stem ginger. You can also add some chopped stem ginger if you like)
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  1. Combine all (in a food processor) until well mixed. Fill a piping bag and use to decorate the duffins.


  • Take your cooled cupcake/muffin and slice the top off (usually easier if they have risen with a dome!)
  • Cut out the middle to create a small whole keeping the removed cake.
  • Fill with about 2tsp of apple puree.
  • Top with a little bit of the filling to hide the puree, eat the excess.
  • Pipe the buttercream over the top in any pattern you like
  • Top with a wafer
  • The best bit….serve to a greedy worthy friend.


Toscakaka – Caramel Almond Cake



Aside from the fact that this cake tastes undeniably devine, one of the things I like about it the most is the subtle way you can pick off the sticky caramel almonds from the top when no one is looking with fairly unnoticeable consequences. Its not the done thing to swipe a greedy finger through the icing on a cake but you can get away with it here. Be warned, once you start you may end up with a topless and naked sponge cake and some unimpressed guests. If there was ever an award for moreish-ness (excuse the made up word) this cake would triump.

Its a super light sponge base which I decided to spike with cinnamon and vanilla, basted and topped with a crunchy caramel almond praline which is left to set and encase the pillowey cake. This recipe is from ‘Scandilicious Baking’ and is therefore (I’m told) a classic Scandi treat which quite frankly just makes me want to visit the region even more. I took the recipes advice and added a tsp of coffee to the praline topping which adds a really deep and intense flavour.

Serves 10-12


  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
  • 150g plain flour
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp fine salt
  • 75g melted butter
  • 75ml buttermilk (or add a tsp of lemon juice added to normal milk)

Praline topping

  • 150g flaked almonds
  • 125g soft light brown muscovado sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 50ml milk
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a loose bottomed tin (8cm of so wide) with parchement. If making your buttermilk add the lemon juice to the milk now and set aside for a few minutes.
  2. Whisk the eggs, vanilla and caster sugar on a high speed for at least 5 minutes until really thick and creamy to get in as much air as possible. It really will pay to do this for a good length of time.
  3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Sieve over half this dry mixture into the eggs and extremely gently using a metal spoon fold in making sure retain the air.
  4. Add half the buttermilk and fold in. Add the remaining flour, fold in and finally the rest of the buttermilk.
  5. Finally fold in the melted butter.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and set. It is important it is set so that it doesn’t collapse when you coat it in praline!
  7. While that bakes, toast the almonds in a dry frying pan or hot oven for a few minutes until golden and fragrant.
  8. Add to a saucepan with the butter, sugar, milk, salt and coffee.
  9. Heat until all melted together and then bubble for a few minutes until thick.
  10. When the cake is ready remove from the oven and increase the heat to 200°C. Pour the praline over the cake, smooth out and bake for 8-10 minutes at this higher temperature until the top is golden and gooey.
  11. Leave to cool before cutting to allow the caramel to set and encase the cake.

This can be enjoyed on its own or with healthy lashings of custard


Mojito Cake



Over the weekend I rather indulged in a culinary sense and selfishly used the excuse of a work birthday to make a cocktail inspired cake. After all, I do work at a wine company and it was only natural that booze should appear (albeit subtly) in any birthday creation to grace the office for the prying eyes and hopeful stomachs of the hungry workers. The rum I used was subtle but by all means spoon a few generous splashes over the warm cooked cakes once baked and allow to soak willingly into the sponge whilst cooling….

I have been wanting to try my hand at homemade curd for a while so now seemed like the perfect time! This cake recipe is loosely based on the one by John Whaite (from GBBO 2012) where I borrowed the curd measurements. However, the rest of the cake recipe I altered to my own tastes. But thanks John- the idea was yours.

NOTE: The quantities for the lime curd make double the amount you’ll need for this cake – unless of course you make 4 sponges and make it an extortionate 4 layered number. But making this quantity is easier than halving egg yolks and for me, extra curd and 3 spare egg whites equals one thing- ‘Lime Meringue Pie’.

Serves 1 small office of hungry workers


  • 220g self raising flour
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 220g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 tbsp rum (I used honey rum)
  • Pinch baking powder

Lime Curd

  • 250ml lime juice
  • 125g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Zest 1 lime
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 25g cornflour


  • 300ml double cream
  • 100g icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 tbsp rum
  • Bunch mint leaves
  1. Start with the lime curd. Place the lime juice, zest and butter in a saucepan and melt over a low heat until combined.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar in a bowl and then whisk in the cornflour until thick and creamy.
  3. Now, making sure you whisk continuously so you don’t get lime flavoured scrambled eggs, pour the hot lime and butter over the egg yolks whisking all the time until combined.
  4. Return the mixture to the pan and over a low heat, whisk continuously until it thickens (5-10mins). Keep whisking so the bottom doesn’t catch and scramble. Once thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, spoon into a shallow dish. Cover with clingfilm and chill.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line two 20cm cake tins. For the cake, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 of the eggs and the vanilla and them sift in half the flour and combine.
  6. Add the remaining eggs and the rest of the flour and the baking powder. Mix in the rum and divide the mixture between the baking tins.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes until cooked. If soaking in rum, once cooked prick all over and spoon over a little rum and allow them to cool in their tins before removing.
  8. Meanwhile, whisk the double cream with the icing sugar until thickened but still floppy and light- don’t overmix. Chop the mint leaves and fold in with the rum.
  9. Once ready to assemble, place one sponge halve on your serving board. Spoon over a generous spoonful of lime curd. Layer on top half the cream and place the other sponge half on top.
  10. Mix the remaining cream with 2-3 tbsp of the lime curd and spoon into a piping bag (optional). Pipe a neat decoration of your choosing on top and scatter with the small pretty mint leaves from your bunch of mint!



Coffee and Date Drizzle Cake






This cake is moreish, moist and had me (who has the most pathetic of sweet tooth) eyeing up my second piece as I licked the crumbs clean from my greedy fingers after my first piece. Its not as ‘coffee-ey’ as a traditional coffee and walnut sponge but the use of this Percol fine powdered espresso coffee works wonderfully to create a deep coffee background hum. Super fine and smooth and a good way to get your coffee cake hating friends to relish the joys of this treat.

Feel free to experiment a little here with the icing flavour or dried fruit. Figs or prunes would be effective for example instead of dates. Try soaking them in brandy, cognac or even rum first! Try flavourng your icing with cinnamon or cocoa for a mocha effect. However, I feel the icing needs to be coffee flavoured to really bring out the flavour in this cake!

1 small Cake

  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 small eggs
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 100g self raising flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 12g cocoa powder
  • 160ml strong coffee (I used Percol espresso powder), cooled slightly
  • 65ml buttermilk
  • 80g dates, sliced (reserve a few for decoration)


  • 250g mascarpone
  • 80g sieved icing sugar
  • 1 tsp coffee mixed with a splash of boiling water.
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line and grease 2 cake tins. I used 2 small 6inch tins so the sponges were fairly thick. Make up the coffee and soak the dates in the hot liquid briefly if you like.
  2. Cream the butter and caster sugar together until fluffy. Whisk the eggs and vanilla and add, a bit at a time, until combined with the buttercream.
  3. Sieve together the bicarbonate, flour, almonds and cocoa and fold in to the egg mixture.
  4. Mix in the cooled coffee and the buttermilk to form a smooth batter and divide equally between the tins.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 180C°. Bake for a further 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  6. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large bowl beat the mascarpone with the icing sugar and add the coffee. Chill until needed.
  7. Make the syrup by mixing together about 1 tbsp of coffee with 50ml hot water and a tbsp of caster sugar.
  8. Once the cakes have cooked, remove from the oven and leave in their tins to cool for 10 minutes or so. Prick the cakes and spoon over the syrup and leave to cool completely.
  9. Once cooled, they are ready to ice. I could have got away with cutting each of my sponges in half horizontally to make a 4 tiered cake but do as you please. Divide the icing over the sponges.
  10. Decorate with some slices of dates and some crushed cocoa nibs if you like!