Chocolate (cheat’s) birthday cake!

Birthday cake 1

My daughter Aoife turned 18 recently (so how did that happen?) – she was celebrating with some of her friends and I was tasked with making the cake. I was all set to make a fancy cake with lots of butter, eggs, dark chocolate, soured cream etc and then decorate it. I was stressing about it in the office that week at work when one of the girls in the office questioned why I was going to such trouble for a bunch of teenagers and why not use a cake mix out of a packet instead! Horror of horrors to the ears of someone who makes a point of making everything from scratch however the more I thought about it the more I thought that perhaps this was actually a brilliant idea. Continue reading


Gluten Free Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

Choc olive oil cake 1

I have been dying to share this recipe with you and to urge you to give it a try – it’s delicious, moist, gooey, chocolatey flavour will beat many brownies and because it doesn’t contain any flour, it is super light. When I made this recently it disappeared so quickly I couldn’t believe it – it was voted right up there along with the Oreo Brownies from a previous post. This is saying quite something. Did I mention also how quick and easy it is to make? So what are you waiting for?!

The recipe was one published by Domini Kemp in her weekly section in the Irish Times Magazine and because she said it was voted one of her most popular recipes I decided that I needed to check it out. I was not disappointed, I guarantee you won’t be either, enjoy.

Serves 8

Preparation time : 15 mins

Cooking time : 30 minutes


50g / 2oz  cocoa powder
150g / 5oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
50ml / 2fl oz boiling water
150ml / ¼ pint olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
200g / 7oz soft brown sugar
3 eggs
150g / 5oz ground almonds
½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
Pinch salt

Equipment : 22inch spring-form tin


  • Line the tin with parchment paper
  • Turn oven on to 170° C / 325° F
  • Mix / blitz cocoa powder and dark chocolate in a food processor into little shards of chocolate
  • Add the boiling water and blitz again
  • Add the olive oil and vanilla extract
  • In a separate (large) bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with a beater until nice and thick – for at least 5 minutes
  • Add the chocolate mixture to it and beat until well mixed in
  • Fold in the dry ingredients (ground almonds, bicarb of soda and salt)
  • Pour into the tin and bake for 30 minutes


Dutch Apple Cake

Dutch Apple Cake 3

I think it’s fair to say that any apple dessert, cake or tart goes down well in my house and while I adore an apple tart I am pretty hopeless when it comes to making pastry so I only make them occasionally. (Promise I will share my most reliable tried and tested recipe for apple tart in a future blog post!).  This Dutch Apple Cake is an absolute winner – delicious, beautifully light, moist and fluffy and can be served warm with some cream, custard or ice cream for dessert or with a cup of tea or coffee.

The recipe is from the same book as last week’s Chocolate Biscuit Cake recipe (Darina Allen’s Easy Entertaining) – gosh did I enjoy that cake last week. At the end of a busy day I would wait until I was on my own, put the kettle on, make a mug of tea, cut a very small sliver of the cake and savour every mouthful. So, so good. Continue reading

Divine chocolate mousse cake

chocolate mousse cake 3

A slightly later than usual blog post this week which almost didn’t happen as I have just gone back to work after a wonderful year off.  This has upset my routine (just a little!) and trying to get this dish made and photographed after a day’s work has given me a few headaches. (Think it’s a bit too soon to ask for time off during the day to take my food pics!) However, I just had to share this absolutely divine chocolate recipe with you  – just the delicious chocolatey smells coming out of your oven when it is cooking will have you and anyone else in your house drooling and waiting impatiently to dig in when it comes out. Dark, moist, delicate, pure chocolate heaven. It is unbelievably light as there is no flour in it so gluten-free as well. I normally wouldn’t recommend sharing this under any circumstances but given the weekend that is in it share it with someone very special if you must but only if you absolutely have to! So go on and indulge yourself – a glass of something bubbly with it and life won’t get much better.

The recipe is really really simple –  equal quantities i.e. 150g of dark chocolate, butter and sugar and 3 eggs. That’s it!

Serves 6 (or one big serving!)


  • 150g dark chocolate (60/70% cocoa solids)
  • 150g softened unsalted butter (plus extra for greasing)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs separated
  • Icing sugar for dusting

Pre-heat the oven to 160° C / 325°F or Gas 3.

  • Grease a 20cm / 8in springform cake tin (an ordinary cake tin will work as well once it is well greased) and line the base with greaseproof paper.
  • Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl isn’t touching the water. Leave to cool.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, then fold in the melted chocolate.
  • In another bowl whisk the egg whites until they stand in soft peaks.
  • Stir 2 large spoonfuls into the chocolate mixture to loosen it slightly and then gently fold in the remainder.
  • Put the mixture into the tin and bake for 1 hour or until a crust has formed on top and there is no ‘wobble’ in the middle.
  • The cake will rise up dramatically during the cooking but will sink once you take it out of the oven. It will also crack and this is perfectly normal.
  • Leave to cool on a wife rack, and remove from the tin.
  • Serve the cake dusted lightly with icing sugar and cream, ice-cream, raspberries and / or chocolate sauce.


The Perfect Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake 2

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this cake, it is universally popular more so I think than chocolate cake, and that is saying something. I gave some friends of mine a sample of this cake recently by way of a kind of  ‘roadtest’ and the feedback was great. What I like most about the recipe is that it is so reliable – the cake comes out perfect every time. There is a nice short list of ingredients and equal quantities of butter, flour and sugar which make it really, really simple to make.    Continue reading

Moroccan Spiced Orange Cake


I came across this recipe (by Clodagh McKenna) for a flour-less orange cake in a Christmas magazine last year and kept it as it sounded so appealing. It is so simple to make – the ingredients are combined to make up a batter which is just poured into the tin and then popped into a cold oven. (Having said that when I was making the cake for the first time I didn’t spot that until it was too late and I put it into a hot oven, however it was absolutely fine.) It doesn’t look promising when it comes out of oven but wow does it taste gorgeous. Soft, moist, orange flavour, dark brown on the outside and a rich yellow gold on the inside and so so light. I have made it twice recently and it disappeared faster than any cake I have made. Enjoy!

Continue reading