Cardamom and mandarin sponge

I love to create cakes for special occasions. This particular confection heralded the arrival of two little kittens named Gustav and Zero – friends were invited over to see them and share a slice of summery cake with a burst of fruit.

For the sponge

175g sugar

175g butter

3 eggs

1tbsp rosewater

175 g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

The contents of 10-12 cardamom pods, ground with a pestle and mortar

1 tbsp milk

Preheat your oven to 180C. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then gradually add the eggs and rosewater. Once combined, fold in the flour, baking powder and cardamom. Pour the mixture into two greased and lined sandwich tins and bake for 20-15 minutes or until the sponge is lightly browned and springs back when you press it with your finger.

For the filling and topping

2 tins mandarin segments in juice

1 cinnamon stick

5 cardamom pods

50g sugar

150ml whipping cream

Empty the juice from the mandarin segments into a saucepan and add the sugar and spices. Bring to the boil and then simmer until thick and syrupy. Remove from the heat, combine with the mandarin segments AND LEAVE TO COOL. Whip the cream until stiff. Arrange half of the mandarin segments on the bottom layer of your cake and drizzle with syrup. Top with whipped cream and the second layer of cake. Arrange the remaining segements on top of the cake and drizzle with a bit more syrup.



And here are the kittens!


Gaiju Cake

One of the things I particularly like to do is invent special cakes for friends’ birthdays. This decadent little number was for my friend Daniel. He’d mentioned he was serving bourbon at his birthday party and I wanted to bring something with spice in it that would complement the flavour. But you don’t need whiskey to enjoy this cake! It’s great for any special occasion.

For the saffron and cardamom sponge:

  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 3-4 strands saffron
  • 175g butter (room temperature)
  • 175g sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp milk

Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and crush them with a pestle and mortar, then soak the saffron strands in a teaspoon of boiling water. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and then beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the spices. Finally, stir in the flour and baking powder. Divide the mixture between two greased sandwich tins and bake at 175C for 25-30 minutes.

For the saffron cream:

  • 60ml double cream
  • A few strands saffron
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar

Soak the saffron strands in 2tsp boiling water and leave to soak for a few minutes before adding to the cream. Whip the cream and saffron into stiff peaks, then combine with the icing sugar.

For the buttercream:

  • A few saffron strands soaked in 1tbsp boiling water
  • 140g butter (at room temperature)
  • 280g icing sugar

Put all the ingredients into a bowl and beat until they form a smooth cream

Once the cake has cooled, assembly is easy – spread the saffron cream on one of your cakes and place the other on top. Then smother the whole thing with buttercream, using a palette knife for a smooth effect – then enjoy!