Flourless sponge cake with ground walnuts and a layer of apricot jam with grated dark chocolate topping: exquisite, elegant, delicious and gluten free.
Old fashioned molasses cake? Think again – this one has fresh grated ginger added for the zing, and you don’t even need an electric mixer to make it.
Christmas fruit cake - lighter in colour and in taste but still rich and full of raisins, berries, apricots, figs and almonds. It keeps very well but needn’t be made weeks ahead of Christmas – tastes best when it had been standing for a couple of days.
Galette des rois, an elegant treat for the night of Epiphany, or any other time during the twelve days of Christmas. There are some lovely traditions associated with the galette: a ‘fève’ is hidden inside the cake - a tiny china figurine or an almond - and the lucky person to find it (and not choke on it) is crowned a king or queen for the carnival.
Gâteau Basque is a traditional pastry from the Basque region of France. A buttery tart, plain or filled with cherries or pastry cream, it is similar to gateau Breton and just as gorgeous.
Gateau Breton is French butter cake, Brittany's finest. It's an enormous shortbread, a gigantic jammy dodger, the impossibly buttery double tart.
This is a genoise sponge cake with mascarpone and blueberry filling. Before my last birthday (oh yes, I make my own birthday cake in this house, no respite for the wicked) I thought I’d make something restrained. Elegant.
Ginger cake with candied ginger pieces, jam filling and maple syrup icing. I always thought ‘gingerbread’ referred only to cookies until I saw the cranberry gingerbread cake in NYTimes Cooking.
St. Louis gooey butter cake made from scratch, with the best gooey buttery topping. The gooey butter is sold as breakfast pastry and there are two variants, fiercely defended by the respective factions. One: ready cake mix and a cream cheese topping sounds lovely and easy but the yeast base and buttery sugary goo on top appeals to me with the force of the original.
Hazelnut ricotta cake with apricot and chocolate glaze is smooth with a poppy crunch, like velvet dipped in glitter. It is rich but tastes light, so you‘re tempted to have another slice.
Honey and apricot brack, inspired by traditional Irish bread with raisins and currants aka barmbrack, this one is full of dried apricots, sultanas and walnut chunks.
Honey cake with dates and apples from Nigella Lawson’s collection is not only suitable for Rosh Hashanah: it’s simply the perfect autumnal cake.
Jamaican hummingbird cake is a wonderful thing: easy and unpretentious, but gorgeous enough for a birthday or wedding. Try my version with crushed pineapple, pistachios and apple buttercream.
Hungarian flourless hazelnut cake with buttercream filling. This is a fantastically nice cake that incidentally happens to be flourless, just so, and anyone will completely love it, gluten-shy or not.
Island buttermilk cake: no eggs, no butter, just fresh berries and the magic ingredient - buttermilk. The cake originates from Cranberry Island Bakery in Maine which sadly is no more. Huge shame as their defunct Facebook page also shows some divine whoopies.
Ciambella, Italian breakfast lemon cake shaped like a doughnut, with an occasional berry, is the Roman way to meet the day. With a cappuccino and a smile.
Italian yoghurt cake or torta allo yogurt, also known as torta 7 vasetti. Simple but genius: use the yoghurt pot to measure all the other ingredients.
Julekake (pronounced yoo-le-kar-ka) is a traditional Norwegian Christmas bread, with Sukat (candied citrus peel) and raisins. Julekake is flavoured with cardamom and it’s best toasted, served with gjetost (brown cheese).
Lemon and almond teacakes from Ottolenghi are really mini ring cakes or individual doughnut cakes but so delicious you can call them anything you like, it won’t matter.
Lemon drizzle cake with poppy seeds. The kind of cake that can make you hum when eating it. It’s the one-slice-is-never-enough cake. It’s the how-come-there’s-none-left? kind of cake. And it’s easy, easy-peasy, even my nephew could whip it up.
Lemon butter cake, soft and spongy, made with condensed milk and flavoured with lemon zest. I love this recipe: it calls for 125g condensed milk which is about two thirds of a tin. And what with the remaining milk, you don’t want to waste it, do you? And the cake is quite nice too.
Pound cake with lemon syrup drizzle and light icing glaze. This was a super-disappearing cake – only a few crumbs were left by Sunday afternoon.
Lemon polenta cake, tender and not too sweet; wonderfully crunchy on the bite. It’s gluten free, easy to whip up and it looks like a round of delicious sunshine on the plate.
Lemon ricotta cake Italian style. This is a very good baked cheesecake, not overly cheesy and not too sweet. I’ll say whack in even more lemon – it doesn’t come through that much.
Condensed milk cake with vibrant lime flavour: easy, tender and buttery like a good pound cake. You can put that tin from the back of the cupboard to good use!
Lime marble cake with lime syrup drizzle. Limes both smell and taste gorgeous. The best bit in making this cake was grating the lime zest. Well – almost the best bit. Eating it isn’t bad either.
Lime yoghurt pistachio cake with lime and rosewater syrup drizzled all over it: I swear there isn't a better cake made with yoghurt. Or lime. Or pistachios.
Lumberjack date and apple cake with caramelised coconut topping. Try as I might, I can’t trace the origin of lumberjack cake or why it is called thus.
As homemade brownies go, they don’t come any better than my marshmallow brownies, with marshmallow made from scratch or, more sensibly, marshmallow fluff.
Marzipan loaf cake based on Nigella Lawson’s recipe, using homemade marzipan. That’s a simple plain cake with marzipan in the mix but there’s nothing plain about the way it tastes.
Mascarpone blueberry cake, rich and velvety with a tangy flavour from the blueberries. Adding mascarpone to the cake mix makes it rich, moist and tender and no, it doesn't taste like a cheesecake!
Matcha (green tea) sponge cake with lemon and bay leaf scented whipped cream frosting. It’s a beautiful dessert, beautifully simple to make (but nobody will believe you how easy it is).
Metre-long cake, Polish metrowiec, is a two-tone plain and chocolate cake puzzle: sliced and then put together again! With jam! And chocolate glaze! Even though it’s a bit shorter than one metre.
Samin Nosrat’s midnight cake is one of the easiest and the nicest chocolate cakes in the world. I finish it with a dried mixed fruit salad topping for a citrusy tang.
Mini gateaux bretons, individual breton butter cakes with jam filling. Breton butter cakes are the wonderfully buttery, shortbread-like cakes from Brittany.
The best, darkest, gooey-est chocolate cake ever – so I’ve called it Morticia’s cake. A bit of effort involved, separating eggs and folding the batter carefully but the end product is pure Addams Family.
Norwegian apple cake, eplekake, is plenty of apple slices on sponge batter enriched with milk. This recipe is from NY Times but cross-referenced with Norway!
Old fashioned apple cake with brown sugar frosting. We used to have two apple trees in the garden: one eating, one cooking, fruiting every other year each, in alternative years – a perfect arrangement.
Sour cream cake with orange flavour and raw cacao nib crunch is like a sophisticated pound cake with chocolate chips.
Orange and lavender quatre-quarts cake - great combination of orange and a strong unusual flavour of lavender. One of the easiest cakes to bake. Four quarters: there are only four basic ingredients and they are mixed together in equal parts.
Orange flavoured ciambella with dark chocolate glaze is Italian ring-shaped breakfast cake. This one is made without butter but with olive oil; serve it for an indulgent breakfast or for dessert.
Orange macaroon cake with dessicated coconut and orange liqueur. This is a glorious cake. Just the right moisture (wet), orange flavour fantastic (no, can’t be less), and slightly chewy on account of the coconut.
Dan Lepard’s orange and walnut loaf cake with cinnamon and fresh ginger, a wonderful combination of flavours. One saucepan, a loaf tin and zest from five oranges!
King Oskar II cake - almond macaron style cake filled with buttercream. Apparently they sell them in Ikea, frozen, and tasty to boot, alongside the meatballs and pickled herring. I adore Swedes and Swedish food but detest Ikea.
Panpepato, Italian classic Christmas dessert from the province of Siena, is the ancient version of panforte di Siena, Italian biscuits packed with fruit and nuts. Panpepato is spicy, peppery and very chocolatey.
Parsnip and orange cake with cinnamon and raisins. Very similar to carrot cake though not quite as moist, it’s good enough to bake at Christmas instead of the fruit cake.
Passion fruit cake with crunchy coconut crumble. Passion fruit, or maracuja, are the nicest smelling and flavoured fruit on earth. Does the flesh have to come wrapped around those crunchy pips though?
Peach pound cake is the richest, most buttery and tender crumb made with peach puree, with diced fresh peach embedded in the batter. Jerrelle Guy’s recipe from NY Times Cooking with minor tweaks.
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