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Farewell Cakes 

Over the last week, as our final issue approached, it got me thinking about the last 7 months as food and health editor here at the Express. I have been overjoyed to be able to share my passion for cooking great food and interlinking it with my science background. I hope that at least one of my recipes has resonated with you or that you’ve learned a thing or two from my articles. While this issue marks an end to a fantastic run, I want to finish on a positive note and celebrate. What better way to celebrate than with cakes! It’s a bit of a tradition when there’s a birthday or holiday coming up in my family or friend group that I bake something sweet to mark the occasion. I want to share with you two stellar cake recipes that will add a sentimental touch to any celebratory event.

First up is a Confetti Cake (sometimes referred to as funfetti), which can only be described as the quintessential party cake. This colourful bake will delight young and old and is the perfect entry point to baking. For this particular cake I prefer to ice it with an Italian meringue buttercream which I will also tell you how to make below. 

Confetti Cake 

Ingredients

  • 450g unsalted butter at room temperature 
  • 300g golden caster sugar 
  • 8 whole eggs
  • 1tbsp vanilla paste or extract 
  • 450g self-raising flour 
  • 1tsp baking powder 
  • 1tsp salt
  • 200g high quality sprinkles (it’s important to splurge on bright colourful sprinkles here as cheaper brands tend to be only coated in a coloured pigment and not coloured all the way through)

Method

  • Preheat you oven to 160 degrees Celsius fan (180 degrees Celsius for non-fan ovens).
  • Add room temperature butter and sugar to the bowl of stand mixer or bowl that is big enough for an electric whisk. It is important that the butter is truly soft here and can be easily spread. Beat the sugar and butter for 5-6 minutes until the mixture has doubled in size and its much paler than when you started. 
  • Keep the mixer running and add the eggs in one at a time until each is completely combined. The mixture may start to split towards the 7th or 8th egg but do not worry, it will come back together in the next step. 
  • Beat in the vanilla before adding the flour, baking powder and salt to the bowl. If using a stand mixer, switch to the paddle attachment here and fold the mixture until just combined. If mixing in a separate bowl swap to a spatula when adding the dry ingredients. 
  • Once combined, sprinkle over the sprinkles and gently fold through. 
  • Divide the batter evenly between two buttered and parchment paper lined cake tines. 
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and when a cake tester or knife can be inserted and removed without any wet batter coming with it. 
  • Once the cake is fully cooled you can begin to ice it. 

Italian Meringue Buttercream 

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites 
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar 
  • 1tsp salt
  • 270g white sugar 
  • 80g water 
  • 450g unsalted butter at room temperature 
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  • Add 200g of the sugar into a saucepan with the water and heat on medium high until the mixture is bubbling and becomes mostly clear.
  • While the sugar is boiling, add egg whites, cream of tartar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk vigorously.
  • Once the whites are foamy, slowly stream in the remaining sugar and beat until soft peaks form. 
  • Continue to beat the mixture until it cools down – about 5 minutes. You can feel the sides of the bowl to check the temperature.
  • Once cooled add the butter to the mixture 1 tablespoon at a time and wait for it to fully incorporate before the next addition. The mixture may turn runny here but stick with it, adding the butter piece by piece. 
  • Once the butter is fully incorporated, refrigerate the whole mixture for 30 minutes or until you are ready to use. 
  • Once ready to ice, remove from the fridge and give the mixture a quick whip. Here is where you can add any colourings or flavourings you want. If using food colouring make sure it’s the gel kind as it will mix through the icing much better. 

 

And that’s how to make the two main parts of the perfect party cake! To assemble you can cut the cake to your preferred size, add icing between both layers and ice the outside. Feel free to add more sprinkles to the outside and add your own personal flair. 

The next recipe is for the easiest banana bread you can make – it takes only 1 hour and yields a moist loaf that can be eaten after dinner or even for breakfast the next morning. This creation is definitely a cake in every sense except its namesake!

Banana Bread 

Ingredients

  • 150g softened butter 
  • 150g caster sugar 
  • 150g self-raising flour 
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2 whole eggs 
  • 2 ripe bananas 

Method

  • Preheat you oven to 160 degrees Celsius fan (180 degrees Celsius for non-fan ovens).
  • Grease a 1kg loaf tin.
  • Add butter and sugar to a bowl and beat for 5-6 minutes until the mixture has doubled in size and its much paler than when you started.
  • Add in eggs one by one and beat until fully combined. 
  • Mash both bananas together until smooth then fold through the egg & butter mixture. 
  • Mix together flour and baking powder and add to the main mixture. Fold until just combined as to not overwork the batter. 
  • Pour batter into the loaf tin and place in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown on top. If you’d like, you can also add slices of bananas or other toppings at this stage – nuts such as walnuts are always a great addition!
  • Allow the bread to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack. 
  • This bread can be eaten warm with a scoop full of ice cream or allowed to cool fully and drizzled with an icing sugar and lemon juice mix for a fancier occasion. 

As always if you make any of the recipes featured in the Express, we would love to see them! You can post a picture on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #ExpressCooks.