Bake with Michelle Darmody: Cakes best served warm

MOST cakes benefit from cooling on a wire rack. This allows air to circulate on all sides and stops the soggy bottom effect.

There are other cakes and puddings that are delicious served warm, an old-fashioned boiled jam pudding, a chocolate fondant with melted ganache in its core or a hot apple tart with custard all make for a cozy satisfying end to a meal. Sweet and warmth combined can have a very comforting effect particularly when it is frosty outside.

The date cake is dense and sticky and can be baked ahead of time then heated again before serving, or simply pouring the hot sauce over it will warm the cake to above room temperature. A little of this dessert goes a long way. The sauce adds a rich, sweet stickiness to the cake. It can be made with some chopped nuts stirred through the batter for a change in texture. Walnuts work particularly well as the astringent taste cuts through some of the sweetness.

Citrus zest adds wonderful smells to the warm orange and almond cake or the lemon pudding. Its aroma intensifies with the heat. I use a microplane grater when I am zesting fruit, by gently dragging it over the lemon or orange I remove all the coloured layer but leave behind the more bitter pith, which is white. If you do not have a microplane the fine edge of a box grater will do, or you can cut off a very thin layer of peel with a paring knife and then finely chop this and add it to the cake batter.

Warm orange and almond cake

160g of soft butter

150g of golden caster sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

4 tsp of orange zest

1 tsp of almond essence

150g of self raising flour

60g of ground almonds

80mls of milk


Zest and juice of 2 oranges

80g icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line an 8 inch round, springform cake tin with baking parchment.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Mix the orange zest and almond essence through the egg and gently add this to the butter and sugar until combined.

Sieve in the flour and stir until it is completely combined. Stir in the ground almonds then the milk until smooth.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Stir the icing sugar into the orange juice and add the zest. Bring to the boil over a low heat and simmer for about five minutes until it has begun to get sticky. Pour this over the cake while it is warm. Allow it to soak into the cake and serve warm with some ice cream or fresh cream.

Hot lemon pudding

3 large eggs, separated

250 mls of milk

The zest of 3 medium sized lemons

6 tbsp of lemon juice

30g of soft butter

90g of plain flour, sieved

210g of golden caster sugar

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and butter an ovenproof dish that comfortably fits 2lbs in volume.

Mix everything except the egg whites together until smooth.

Then whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the rest of the ingredients.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared dish.

Fill a deep tray with water so that when the dish sits into it and the water comes halfway up the dish.

Bake for about 35 minutes until golden on top and set.

Serve warm.

Sticky date cake

450g of medjool dates, de-stoned and finely chopped

Enough warm water to just cover the dates

4 tsp of baking powder

270g of plain flour

1 egg and an extra egg yolk

200g of golden caster sugar

2 tsp of vanilla essence

For the sauce

250ml of cream

80g of golden caster sugar

1 tbsp of treacle

80g of butter

Heat an oven to 180C. Line a 10in by 12-in cake tin with baking parchment.

Mix the chopped dates with the warm water and half of the baking powder. Stir and set aside for about 10 minutes.

Sieve the rest of the baking powder with the flour and set aside.

Whisk the egg, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla until the mixture turns pale in colour.

Stir in the date mixture until completely combined. Gently fold in the flour mixture. Scoop the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

To make the sauce, heat the cream in a heavy-based saucepan until it is shivering. Whisk in the sugar, treacle and butter until smooth.

Serve wedges of the cake with some sauce poured over the top.

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