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Cake hall of fame

If you’re in the mood for some serious baking you’ve come to the right place. We’ve rounded up 100 all-time favourite cake recipes for you to try, from classics like chocolate fudge cake, date and walnut and carrot cake through to fashionable cupcakes and cake pops. We’ve got a so many delicious cake recipes that choosing just one is going to be a tough choice.

Some of our all-time favourites cakes include tangy lemon drizzle cake, simple vanilla cupcakes and of course, some naughty but nice chocolate cupcakes. You can make cheesecakes, brownies and even an upside-down cake. If that’s not enough we’ve also got some special recipes from the likes of Rachel Allen, Lorraine Pascale and the baking legend that is Mary Berry.

Don’t forget to start your very own recipe book to keep all your favourite bakes in one place. All you have to do is click ‘save this recipe’ and every single one will be stored in your very own online recipe book. It makes baking and finding those classic cake recipes a lot easier!

You could save our moist tea loaf and make it next week when the family are over, or you could save our sweet whoopie pies to make as an edible gift for that special friend. You could save our chocolate layer cake for a Christmas show-stopper or our butterfly buns to make with the kids this weekend.

Take a look through our cake hall of fame to find the perfect cake recipe for you…

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Date bread

If this looks familiar, it’s because it is almost identical in every way to a Banana Bread For Dory (q.v.) but it uses dates instead of bananas.

I wanted to try this out because my friend Becky B brought over a sticky date cake the other day and it reminded me of the packet of dates in the larder I had been meaning to use to make a sticky toffee pudding, but have never quite found the excuse for.

It’s also because I do LOVE that banana bread recipe but quite often don’t find I have quite the right number of overripe bananas to justify it. So I wondered if it was possible with dates. And it is! It is still a sort of date bread, rather than a cake, because it’s not especially sweet, which I think is a good thing. You could definitely spread this with butter, for example. Like all cakey/breads that are not a sponge, this keeps very well in tupperware for a few days.

Becky B did a terribly clever thing with HER date cake, which was to soak it, in the manner of a lemon drizzle cake, with a caramel sauce that she bought from Waitrose – it was Bonne Maman, she said: “Confiture de Caramel”. She thinned it with some hot water, pricked the cake all over with a skewer and then went MAD with the sauce. It was really, really fab. My mother always says that things that other people have made for you are always more delicious than something you have made yourself, but still – Becky B is a terrific cook.

You can also make your own caramel sauce if you are that sort of person – there is a recipe somewhere on here, have a rummage.

So here we go

Date bread

150 veg oil
200g dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
250g dates
75g natural yoghurt
1 tsp bicarb of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
225g wholemeal spelt flour (get it from Waitrose)
2 tbs caster sugar or cane sugar

1 Pre-heat your oven to 170C and butter a 2lb loaf tin and line it (YES you must do this, don’t be lazy) and line a baking sheet, too.

1 In a bowl whisk together the oil, sugar, vanilla and eggs

2 Chop up the dates roughly then put them in a bowl and pour over boiling water to just cover them. Leave them to soak for 20 mins then drain them and sort of gently mash them through the sieve to get out most of the water.

3 Add the youghurt to the dates and mix together. Sprinkle over the bicarb of soda, baking powder, and salt and stir again.

4 Mix the date mixture and the sugar/egg mixture together. Then sprinkle over the flour and stir until things are only just combined. Over-mixing is disastrous here so stop as soon as you can’t see any more flour. Spoon the batter into your smugly-lined tin.

5 Sprinkle some sugar – caster, cane or granulated -down the spine of the loaf and then put in the oven.

7 Bake for 45-50 mins.

HOW is Kitty, people say to me. How is she, how is she? I don’t talk about her that much any more because she is just off my hands. She turns two in February but she has been off since she turned 18 months old and could walk, talk, ask for things, watch tv, sit and draw or look at her books, play imaginary games with her stuffed animals, scoot around the kitchen on her little trike and so on. She is an actual person these days and it’s such a relief, I can’t tell you.

When I look back on some of the darker things I wrote when she was small I feel awful, so guilty. But it must have been bad for me to write those things, it must have been like that. She’s now this little chattering pixie, everyone wants a piece of her, everyone wants a smile and to hear her squeak “I’m knackered!” – her first party trick.

I used to dread her waking up in the night – the thought of it made me feel actually sick with anxiety. Now sometimes I wake in the night and hope that she might wake, too and need me. But she never does.

Here is a picture of Kitty with her bunny, her hair a bit wild from her nap. Note how she is gripping the bunny quite hard round the neck – I think she is trying to get him to tell her where the chocolate is. I can get pictures printed on t-shirts, mugs, bags and mousemats for a small fee if anyone is interested?

Though I can see the benefits of babies, I suppose. They are not constantly after your iPad and whatever it is that you are eating. And they don’t have a massive fucking tantrum when you try to stop them from doing incredibly dangerous things.

 

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Chicken recipes

Chicken recipes

Chicken has got to be one of our favourite meats to cook with. It’s cheap, versatile and is a real crowd-pleaser with the whole family. If you love cooking chicken, take a look at our guide for what type of chicken to buy, how to store, prepare and cook chicken and what tasty flavours you can use to create delicious chicken recipes.

Chicken nutrients

Chicken is not only tasty, it’s full of nutrients that your family needs. As well as being a great source of protein, chicken is also rich in vitamin B6 and B3, which help your body’s metabolism by turning protein into energy. As well as providing a dose of potassium and amino acids, which aid your body’s growth and maintenance, chicken is also full of selenium, which produces antioxidants and has been linked to cancer protection.

Beware of the chicken skin! It may be very tasty but it can almost double the amount of fat in your chicken . Cook the chicken with the skin on but remove before eating to get all the flavours in your meat without all the fat – best of both worlds!

 

Types of chicken  

Fresh or frozen chicken?

Fresh chicken lasts 2-3 days in the fridge so if you’re planning on using it immediately you should go for fresh chicken as it’s easier to prepare. Make sure the chicken feels supple and doesn’t smell funny to ensure it’s fresh. You can freeze fresh chicken buy washing it, patting dry, wrapping in tight parcels and putting in the freezer. Always freeze chicken on the day you bought it. 

Frozen chicken is often cheaper so if you’re doing a big shop for the month a bag of frozen chicken will save you some cash. Make sure the chicken is completely frozen and has no liquid in the package – as this means it has defrosted slightly. To defrost a chicken, you need to allow it to defrost in the fridge and not at room temperature – make sure you place it on a plate to collect any of the juices.

Chicken juices can contaminate other foods so make sure, however you store your chicken, that no juices can escape the packaging and get onto other foods.

It is very important to check the sell-by date when buying chicken. Do not buy or eat chicken even slightly past the sell-by date.

 

Cuts of chicken  

Whole chicken. The best way to cook a whole chicken is, of course, to roast it. You can buy it with or without the giblets (organs) inside. The giblets can be used in a stock or gravy for extra flavour but they aren’t for the squeamish! A little oil and lemon is all you need to bring out the flavours in your roast chicken – or you could try something a little different with one of our roast chicken recipes.

Whole chickens are cheaper than buying the parts separately so if you’re feeling brave you can buy a whole one and cut it down into joints. We have a step-by-step guide for how to joint chicken if you fancy giving it a go. If you don’t fancy this, ask your butcher to do it for you.

Chicken breasts. Breasts have the lowest fat content of all cuts of chicken and you can buy them with or without the skin. Chicken breasts are really versatile and can be stuffed, grilled, baked or fried and, when chopped, used in pasta dishes, salads, pies and many, many more recipes.

Chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are a cheaper alternative to chicken breasts and some people say they’re a lot tastier as the meat is a little darker and has a richer flavour. Chicken thighs can be bought boned or boneless and can be used in a variety of different meals – casseroles, traybakes and stuffed are just some of our ways with chicken thighs.

Chicken drumsticks. Similar to thighs in taste and texture, chicken drumsticks are good on the BBQ and are delicious baked with a tasty marinade. They’re wonderfully messy as well so the kids will love eating them!

Chicken wings. The cheapest cut of chicken, wings are quite fatty and have very little meat on them compared to other cuts but they’re delicious on the BBQ and make great party food snacks as you can eat them with your hands.

 

 

How to cook chicken

Preparing chicken

When preparing chicken you have to be a lot more careful than with other foods and meats. The bacteria on raw chicken can cause salmonella poisoning so it’s important not to let it touch any other raw food or cooking utensils before it is cooked. When preparing the chicken you need to use separate chopping boards and utensils to other foods – or make sure you wash them thoroughly before using them again. Surfaces and utensils should be washed with warm soapy water to rid them of raw chicken juices. Your hands are equally as important and must be washed regularly when handling chicken to ensure you don’t contaminate other surfaces.

When cooking chicken you need to make sure it is cooked all the way through before serving. If you see any pink areas, it needs to be cooked longer. Thigh and drumstick meat will look a little grey when cooked. To check a whole chicken is cooked, insert a skewer into one of the joints and if the juices run clear, it’s ready.

 

Ways to cook chicken

Baked chicken is the healthiest way to cook chicken. It allows the juice and flavours to develop so the meat will need less seasoning once done.

Frying chicken is less healthy but is great if you’re in a hurry. Use one calorie oil spray rather than oil or butter if you want to keep the calorie down.

Barbecuing chicken can be delicious but you have to be very careful about making sure it is cooked properly – check our guide for barbecuing chicken.

Poaching or steaming chicken are other, slightly old-fashioned, ways to cook chicken but are also great as a healthier alternative to frying.

Slow cooking. If you overcook chicken in the oven it can become really dry but that doesn’t mean you can’t slow cook it. If you have a slow cooker you can add it to a rich sauce a cook for up to 8 hours for a deliciously rich flavour. See our slow cooker recipes for some ideas.

 

Flavours that complement chicken

  • Lemon
  • Garlic
  • Chilli
  • Mustard
  • Leeks
  • Pesto
  • Paprika
  • Cajun spices
  • Curry powder
  • Saffron
  • Oregano

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