Readers’ recipe swap: Rock’n’roll cakes | Eve O’Sullivan (2024)

In rock’n’roll terms, a weekend of baking cakes hardly sounds like a wild tale from a musician’s autobiography, but, after cooking my way through so many creamy, boozy, borderline-outrageous recipes, I feel the resulting sugar sweats might be in some way comparable.

As my last week in charge of Recipe Swap, it’s also been a timely reminder of why I’ve loved doing this for the last couple of years. It seems that for a lot of people, including myself, a few hours of solitary creativity in the kitchen does wonders for general wellbeing. Everyone should try at least one of the dishes from Guardian Cook readers; you’ll be hard pushed to find recipes as well tested, appreciated and loved. As I have found, making good food is about practice, and with hundreds of your brilliant submissions under my belt, I certainly now have that.

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So on to the bakes; I started with a filthy rich chocolate cake inspired by The Cramps song Goo Goo Muck, for which we have Rachel Kelly to thank. Although leftover chocolate at Easter sounds unthinkable, if you are in that boat, this is the cake you’ll need to empty the cupboard. On the note of special occasions, if you are looking for something truly standout, then Fadime’s beetroot, clementine and hazelnut meringue masterpiece is just that. It’s inspired by Kate Bush: do you really need any more reason to make it than that? Polly Brown’s Smashing Pumpkin cake is given added texture from desiccated coconut and a little warmth from the spices and a tang from the lime icing, and, clever name aside, I can’t think of anything more crowd-pleasing on a crisp winter’s afternoon. Diane Kitchen’s rock cakes are, to me, the kind of classic bake that you can learn off by heart. Bilberries are hard to come by in London in February, as you can imagine, but blueberries were a decent substitute. Of course, the rock ‘n’ roll theme lends itself to generous amounts of booze; MizPepperpot’s port and rum-infused fruit cake will now be my go-to recipe when such a thing is required, somehow more aromatic and sweet than brandied versions.

The winner this week findsing the perfect balance of indulgence, simplicity and added interest. Colonial Cravings’ red hot chilli mousse cake (do you see what they did there?)will take you less than an hour to make, but the sweet, rum-spiked cream, kick of cayenne and flour-free, chocolatey base will have the compleimentsapplause rolling in for much longer than that.

The winning recipe: red hot chilli chocolate mousse cake (pictured above)

OK, “red hot” might be overstating it a bit, this actually has wonderful slight spiciness: tingly, warm and brilliant. The texture of this cake is heavenly, crisp and meringue-like on the top and at the edges, rich and fudgy in the middle.
Colonial Cravings, via GuardianWitness

Serves 6-8
150g dark chocolate
4 eggs
100g sugar
75g butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
A pinch of salt

For the vanilla rum cream
300ml double cream
½ tsp vanilla paste
1-2 tbsp dark rum (to taste)
1 tsp sugar

1 Preheat oven to 180C/350/gas mark 4. Grease a 20cm springform cake tin. Line the base with greaseproof paper.

2 Chop up the chocolate and melt it together with the butter, either in a double boiler or by using short blasts in the microwave, then allow to cool.

3 Separate the eggs, putting the whites and yolks into two large mixing bowls. Add the sugar to the yolks and beat them until they are butter coloured and thick and fluffy. Add the spices and vanilla to this and briefly beat it again.

4 Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to stiff peaks. Pour the chocolate mix into the egg yolk mix and blend well. Mix a big spoonful of the egg whites into the chocolate to lighten it. Carefully, with a big metal spoon, fold in the rest of the whites, 2 tbsp at a time. Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 40 minutes.

5 Leave the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack; the middle will sink – just fill it with even more cream. Don’t worry if you have cracks in the top either. Run a pallet knife around the inside of the tin and then carefully release the cake and slide it off the base and on to a serving plate. Carefully peel away the paper from underneath, this can be a bit fiddly because the top of the cake might be a bit crisp and delicate.

6 Put all the ingredients for the cream in a mixing bowl and whip until it forms soft peaks. Pipe or spoon this into the crater in the middle.

Pi for a sensitive man

This is my rock’n’roll pi(e), based on a favourite Kate bush song, Pi, which I believe is in part dedicated to Alan Turing, a “sweet, gentle, sensitive man, with an obsessive nature and deep fascination for numbers”. For me Kate Bush is the epitome of rock and roll in a very feminine form and being able to make a cake tribute to her was a joy.

Don’t be put off with the various parts of making this sweet, vibrant and intensely flavoured bake.
Fadime, via GuardianWitness

Readers’ recipe swap: Rock’n’roll cakes | Eve O’Sullivan (1)

Serves 4-6
For the meringue
3 large egg whites
85g caster sugar
85g icing sugar

For the beetroot dust and syrup
3 medium beetroot, peeled cut in big chunks
25g caster sugar, plus extra for the dust
Peel of 1 clementine or orange, thinly sliced

For the creme patissière
250ml milk
1 vanilla pod, split open
3 egg yolks
60g sugar
20g plain flour
1 tsp cornflour

For the filling
160ml double cream
25g caster sugar
2 tbsp beetroot and clementine syrup
60g finely chopped or ground hazelnuts

1 Preheat the oven to 100C/200F/gas mark 4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and draw four 14cm diameter circles on them.

2 Put the egg whites into a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed with an electric hand whisk to stiff peaks, then up the speed, gradually adding the caster sugar in 3-4 additions, beating continuously until thick and glossy. Sift icing sugar over the mix slowly and continue to whisk until the mix is smooth, stiff and glossy. Pour it into a piping bag and fill in the discs by piping in concentric circles. Bake for about 1½ hours until crisp. Leave to cool.

3 In a food processor, blitz the beetroot then pass it through a fine sieve over a saucepan. Spread the beetroot pulp from the sieve on to a parchment-lined baking tray as thinly as possible, then put it in the oven at the same temperature as the meringue. Cook until completely dehydrated and dry, like soil – around 1 hour. After cooling, blitz it in a food processor with 1 tbsp of caster sugar until it resembles dust.

4 Put the 25g sugar, beetroot juice and clementine peel in a saucepan, bring to a boil then simmer until thick, syrupy and reduced by almost half – leaving about 2 tbsp. Allow to cool.

5 For the creme patissière, heat the milk with the vanilla pod in a saucepan until starting to boil, then take off the heat.

6 In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar for a few minutes until pale and thickened. Whisk in the flours followed by the hot milk, then pour the mix back into the pan, over a low heat, stirring all the time until the mix is thick and boiling. Take the pan off the heat, cover with clingfilm to prevent a skin from forming, then chill.

7 For the filling, whisk the sugar with the cream until thick, then add the beetroot syrup and 250g of the creme patissière. Save a quarter of the mix, fold in the ground hazelnuts to the larger amount of mix, then leave both mixes in the fridge for 20 minutes until cool and a little set.

8 Assemble the pie. Put one meringue disc on a serving plate and spread over a thick layer of the creme patissière mix with hazelnuts in it. Repeat twice, then put the fourth disc over the top and pour over the mix without the hazelnut. Leave in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with beetroot dust to serve.

Goo Goo Muck cake

I was in my teens when I first discovered the Cramps. My homage comes from the title of one of their earliest records. Since my cake-decorating skills are limited, having a cake topped with chocolate goo and lumpy sweets seems to fit in perfectly with the swamp rock atmosphere.
Rachel Kelly, London

Serves 10-12
200g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
250g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
1 tsp instant espresso granules or instant dark roast coffee
100ml whole milk
250g self-raising flour, sifted
40g cocoa powder
250g caster sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
150ml sour cream

For the chocolate ganache
150g milk chocolate
150g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
100ml double cream
50g unsalted butter
Maltesers, to decorate
Mini Creme Eggs, to decorate

1 Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Grease and line a round, loose-bottomed 23cm cake tin, then set aside to cool a little.

2 Gently melt the chocolate, butter, instant coffee and milk in a heatproof bowl, sitting over a small saucepan of gently simmering water. Once melted, remove from the heat and set aside.

3 Sift the flour and cocoa powder togetherin a large bowl. Stir in the caster sugar. Carefully fold in the chocolate mix, beaten eggs, vanilla and sour cream, then pour into the prepared cake tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for 1-1½ hours, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside to cool in the tin.

4 To make the ganache, melt the milk and dark chocolate together with the double cream and unsalted butter in a bowl over a small pan of gently simmering water. Set aside to cool a little, then either spread the ganache evenly over the cake, or for a more rustic effect (and since I am rubbish at the fiddly stuff!) pour over the cake. Scatter with Maltesers for a suitably monstrous effect and Creme Eggs for a greater lumpy appearance.

Jamaican black cake

You might say that this cake is more reggae‘n’rhumba than rock’n’roll, but this is my tribute cake to Eve’s final column...It’s boozy, it’s bold and it’s beautifully delicious. I’m referring to the cake here as I can’t comment on Ms. O’Sullivan!

This is actually a version of Jamaican Black cake, a traditional fruit cake, heavily soaked in rum – the more the better – and used for celebrations. It’s delicious eaten with cheese, and a real treat when covered in marzipan and icing. I’ve made so many of this cake, tweaking the recipe each time, and I think I’ve finally nailed the perfect version.
Miz Pepperpot, via GuardianWitness

Serves 10-12
150ml ruby port
200ml Jamaican white rum
340g sultanas
340g currants
115g dried prunes
60g candied peel
85g glace cherries, halved
225g softened butter
225g dark brown sugar
4 medium eggs
85g ground almonds
225g plain flour
1 heaped tsp mixed spice
1 tbsp black treacle
A few drops each of almond and vanilla extract
½ tbsp browning (a burnt caramel liquid you can find in Caribbean shops; optional)

1 First soak the fruit. Put the port with 100ml of the rum into a sealable jar or dish. Add all the dried fruit and leave it to sit for at least 1 week, turning the fruit occasionally. But if you want to speed this up. If you don’t have a spare week, you can simmer the fruit in the port and rum in a saucepan over a medium heat until plump, then allow it to cool before using.

2 Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/gas mark 1, then grease and line a 20cm, deep cake tin. Put ⅔ of the soaked fruit in a blender and whizz to a mush.

3 Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk until fluffy then gradually beat in the eggs. Add a little of the flour if the mix begins to curdle. Stir in the ground almonds, then the flour and mixed spice. Mix in the treacle, almond and vanilla extract, all of the fruit and the browning, if using. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and bake for 3½ hours, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.

4 When the cake has cooled, prick the top all over with a skewer and spoon on 2 tbsp of the remaining rum. Wrap the cake in clingfilm and set aside. Repeat this process twice over the next two weeks.

Smashing pumpkin, coconut and lime cake with cream cheese and lime icing

This moist, gently spiced cake works just as well with butternut squash. The citrus bite of the cream cheese frosting cuts through the richness of the coconut. Perfect with a mid-morning coffee or indulgent enough as a dessert.
Polly Brown, East Molesey, Surrey

Serves 10-12
For the cake
225g self-raising flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
A pinch of salt
175g caster sugar
100g desiccated coconut
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100ml sunflower oil
100ml coconut milk
Juice and zest of 1 orange
Zest of 2 limes
225g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, chopped, steamed and pureed

For the icing
100g butter
200g full fat soft cheese
85g icing sugar, sifted
Zest and juice of 2 limes

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease a 25cm cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.

2 Sift together the flour, baking powder, spices and salt in a large bowl, then stir in the caster sugar and the desiccated coconut. In a separate jug, beat the eggs, then add the vanilla extract, oil, coconut milk, zests and juice and mix. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Add the puree; mix the whole batter well until combined.

3 Spoon the batter into the cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until a metal skewer comes out clean from the centre of the cake. Allow the cake to cool in the tin, then transfer to a rack to cool.

4 For the icing, mix all the ingredients together. Beat well. Spread the icing generously over the cake, then serve.

Ilkley rock ‘n’ roll cakes

You will have heard of rock cakes, but not Ilkley Moor version made by my daughter for Blue Peter’s Fantasy Feast competition to celebrate their 40th birthday. Her novel cakes so inspired the judges that she won an invitation to their party along with a much-coveted Blue Peter badge. She chose rock cakes because of the famous Cow and Calf rocks in Ilkley. The moors here are covered in bilberries in June, which is why she chose that fruit to flavour them. So there you have the ROCK cakes that we have been ROLLING out since 1998.
Diane Kitchen, Ilkley

Makes 10-12
225g self-raising flour
A pinch of salt
110g butter, cubed
110g caster sugar
85g currants
30g mixed peel
100g bilberries (from Ilkley Moor), or blueberries
1 egg, beaten
75-100ml milk

1 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl, then and rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Sprinkle in the caster sugar. Stir in the currants and mixed peel and half the berries.

2 Mix in the egg and a little milk to form a stiff dough, adding more milk if you need it. Put in rough heaps on a parchment-lined baking tray, then push the remaining bilberries into the top of each rock cake. Bake for 15-20 minutes until firm and golden, then cool on a wire rack.

Readers’ recipe swap: Rock’n’roll cakes | Eve O’Sullivan (2024)
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