Donal Skehan

Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf…

Lemon & Poppyseed Loaf copy

What is it about lemon cakes and treats that makes them so popular? What I love most about this particular Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf is just how simple it is to prepare. I like to make a loaf, store it in a cake tin and have it at the ready for any guests who might drop in for a cup of tea!

Lemon & Poppyseed Loaf-2 copy

You can make this recipe as a plain lemon loaf and leave out the poppy seeds but I love the texture and little flecks of colour that they add. This is the perfect recipe for a first time baker to try as it really doesn’t get any easier!

Continue to the recipe for my Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf…

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Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf

Lemon & Poppyseed Loaf copy
What is it about lemon cakes and treats that makes them so popular? What I love most about this particular Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf is just how simple it is to prepare. I like to make a loaf, store it in a cake tin and have it at the ready for any guests who might drop in for a cup of tea!

Makes 1 loaf
110g wholemeal flour
110g plain flour
100ml natural yoghurt
200g caster sugar
100ml sunflower oil
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of poppy seeds
3 large eggs
Zest of 2 lemons
1⁄2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Flour to dust the tin

Lemon Icing:
110g icing sugar
3 tablespoons of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
T Grease a 2lb loaf tin (21cm x 11cm x 6cm) with butter, dust with flour or line with baking parchment and set aside.
 Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yoghurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Pour this mixture onto the dry ingredients and whisk well to incorporate. With a spatula, fold the sunflower oil into the batter, making sure it is well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean.

When the cake is done, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. This gives you time to prepare the tangy lemon icing.

Combine the sugar and lemon juice until smooth, you may need to add a drop of water or a little more icing sugar to achieve to correct consistency. Turn the cake onto a cooling rack and spoon the icing over the top of the cake allowing it to dribble down the sides. Serve in generous slices.

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Ultimate Banana Bread…

Banana Bread-1 copy

This recipe comes from my auntie Ann who spent a lot of time in America over the years and has picked up some really great US inspired recipes. This banana bread is deliciously moist and is extremely easy to throw together.

Banana Bread-2 copy

You can add a little sliced banana on top before it goes into the oven or even stir some chopped nuts or chocolate chips through the batter! The best thing about this banana bread recipe is it is so adaptable. Whatever you add, a thick slice served with a cup of tea is a match made in heaven.

Continue to the recipe for Auntie Ann’s Ultimate Banana Bread…

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Beer and Bacon Cookies

Beer & Bacon Cookies-4 copy

I’m always on the lookout for a great chocolate-chip cookie recipe, and this one is adapted from a famous New York Times recipe, which produces chewy cookies. However the difference with these little babies is the addition of candied bacon and beer! Beer & bacon all wrapped up into a cookie…What’s not to love! The dough benefits from resting overnight in the fridge and also freezes extremely well.

Makes 12
For the candied bacon
250g smocked, streaky bacon
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar

For the cookie dough
275g soft light brown sugar
225g granulated sugar
275g butter
2 large free-range eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoon of dark stout
475g plain flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
300g good-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped into chunks
Sea salt

Preheat your oven to 200°C. To make the candied bacon,line a baking tray with parchment paper and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Lay the smokey bacon on top and cover with the remaining brown sugar. Place in the oven for 20 mins. Once completely cooled, slice into 2cm pieces and set aside.

In a standalone mixer with a paddle beater (or in a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer), beat the sugars and butter until light and pale. Break in the eggs one at a time, mixing between additions and pausing to scrape down the sides with a spatula. Mix in the vanilla extract and stout. Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift in the flour and baking powder. Mix with a wooden spoon until well incorporated, then mix through the chocolate chunks and bacon pieces. Bring the dough together and split into two. Place each half on a sheet of cling film, roll up and form into a thick sausage shape, sealing the ends.

Depending on how many cookies you need (the sausages make six cookies each), you can place one of the cookie-dough sausages in the freezer for another time and one in the fridge to rest overnight. The frozen dough will last up to 6 months in the freezer. Simply pop it in the fridge, or give it an extremely cautious 30-second blast in the microwave before you plan to use it. The following day, take the dough out of the fridge, unwrap and slice into six pieces. Place the slices onto a lined baking sheet and sprinkle each cookie with a little sea salt.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4. Pop in the oven to bake for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown on the edges and ever so slightly pale in the centre. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Homecooked Bakery: Orange Polenta Cake

Orange-Polenta-Cake_2 Time for another installment of Homecooked Bakery and this week's recipe is a beauty! If you have not tried baking with polenta yet, give this cake a go. It's so moist and fragrant because it's doused with a honey and rosewater syrup and the polenta gives the cake a really great texture. Then the whole cake is decorated with vibrant green pistachios and orange zest. It's incredibly easy to make and it's the one I have pulled out again and again!

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Orange Polenta Cake With Honey & Rosewater Syrup


This fragrant and moist cake is not only visually beautiful, it also has the most delicious spiced sweet orange and honey flavour. The cake can be made gluten-free as long as you use a gluten-free baking powder. 

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Gold Dust Chocolate Cake

Millionaire Chocolate Cake_4

This a proper show stopper of a chocolate cake and perfect for special occasions.  The edible gold powder can be bought online or in select baking stores.

Serves 8-12
Butter for greasing
350g self-raising flour
5 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300g caster sugar
4 large free-range eggs, beaten
300ml sun flower oil
300ml milk
4tbsp golden syrup

For the frosting:
60g cocoa powder
220g butter, at room temperature
450g cream cheese
375g icing sugar
1 teaspoon of edible gold powder

Preheat the oven to 170°C, grease two 23 cm cake tins with removable bases and line with parchment paper. Sift the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl of a standalone mixer. Add the sugar and mix well. Measure the wet ingredients into a measuring jug. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the contents of the jug. Beat together with the mixture until you have a smooth mixture. Spoon the cake batter into the lined tins and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before transferring to a wire rack until completely cool.  If the cakes have to much of a rise in the centre, simply cut away the imperfections with a bread knife so you have a flat top.

To make the frosting, place the butter and cream cheese in a bowl and beat for 2 minutes until combined. Then gradually sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder, using a spatula to mix through until you have a smooth, spreadable frosting. Transfer one cake to a cakestand and spread 1/4 of the frosting on top using a long offset spatula, then place the second cake on top and spread 1/3 of the remaining mixture all over the top and sides.  Place the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes.  This is known as a crumb coat which prevents crumbs getting into your final frosting and ensures a smooth finish. Remove the cake from the fridge and spread over the remaining frosting, saving a little if you wish to pipe little peaks on the top.

Dust with a little edible gold powder to finish.

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Prinsesstårta- Swedish Princess Cake

Varients on the layers of this traditional Swedish cake are quite common and can also be referred to as Prinstårta and Opera Cake. This is my version and makes a wonderful celebration cake.

Serves 12
For the sponge layers:

4 large free range eggs
170g caster sugar
120g plain flour
butter for greasing the tin

For the Crème Patissière:
1 vanilla pod
450ml milk
120g caster sugar
6 large free range egg yolks
50g cornflour
50g unsalted butter, softened

For the filling and assembly:
125g fresh raspberries
750ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks
500g marzipan (use red or pink food colouring
if you can’t find pink marzipan)

Preheat the oven to 190°C and grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin with parchment paper.

Beat together the eggs and the sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift the flour in to the bowl and fold gently into the egg mixture, until you are left with no lumps in the bowl. Pour the mixture into the cake tin.

Bake on the middle wrack of the oven for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool slightly in the tin and then turn it out on to a cooling rack. When completely cool, using a bread knife, divide the cake into three even layers.

For the crème patissière, split the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds. Add this to a medium saucepan with the milk and place over a medium high heat. Bring to the boil and then turn off the heat. Scoop out the vanilla pod.

While the milk is coming to the boil, place the sugar, cornflour and egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and beat with a whisk until thick and pale. Pour the hot milk into the bowl, whisking quickly and continuously until it is smooth and incorporated. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and place over a medium heat beating continuously until it has thickened.

Transfer the crème pâtissière to a cold bowl, create a flat surface with the back of a spatula and wipe the top with a little butter (this will prevent a skin forming). Cover directly with cling film and allow to cool completely.

Place one of the cake layers on a cake stand. Use one-third of the crème pâtissière to pipe three circles around the base of the bottom layer, starting from the outside, in. Place the raspberries inside the creme patisserie circles. Mix a spoonful of the cream with a little of the creme patisserie and pipe over the raspberries. Put on the next layer of cake and spread with half the remaining crème pâtissière over the top. Put the last layer of cake in place and spread the remaining crème pâtissière on top.  Spread the cream over the top and sides of the cake, creating a smooth dome shape.

In a bowl, add a drop of food colouring to the marzipan and knead it until you have an even pink colour. Dust a clean surface with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan until it’s about 1mm in thickness. Cover the cake with the marzipan, trimming the excess around the edges. (You can use the excess marzipan to make the little rose on top.)

Dust the cake with icing sugar and place a little marzipan rose on top.

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Sticky Maple, Apple & Ginger Cake

The Method

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I Like Big Buns and I Cannot Lie!

No otha’ bruthas’ can deny… and so on… What is about sweet things like big dirty chocolate cakes, drippy sticky toffee pudding, and oozing eclairs that always seem to grab people’s attention?  I could write fresh and healthy recipes everyday for the rest of my life, and they would still never get the same reaction as the oooohing and aaaahing that a great big, filthy slice of gooey, dark chocolate brownie manages to draw. Some of the first recipes I ever cooke, were baking ones, and to this day it’s one of my favourite forms of cooking in the kitchen.  I have cooked Swedish cinnamon buns to their death at this stage, but they have to be one of the best baking discoveries I’ve come across in the last 5 years.

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Have Your Cake And Eat It!

Earlier this year, many food writers made their predictions for 2011’s hottest food trends, and one of the big things mentioned again and again was the rise in popularity of home baking.  Rather than trying to find something to topple the mighty cupcake, baking in general is being made cool again.

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