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If you’re a baking fan, you may recognize Benjamina Ebuehi from Season 7 of The Great British Bake Off, where she impressed the judges and viewers with her creative and flavor-forward baking concoctions. But if you’ve never seen an episode of the show, you’ll want to get familiar with Benjamina’s sweets in her new cookbook, “The New Way to Cake.”

Related Reading: A Chocolate Snacking Cake with a Secret Ingredient

The New Way to Cake: Simple Recipes with Exceptional Flavor, $16.79 on Amazon

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Having grown up in a Nigerian family in London, Benjamina was constantly surrounded by food. Yet despite her inoculation into Nigerian culture and cuisine, Benjamina realized there was a blank space when it came to sweets and baking. So the young baker got to work, perfecting her baked goods and using ingredients from around the world. Her cookbook is a testament to that global mentality, with a focus on cakes. The pages are filled with recipes influenced by the world—hazelnut and tahini caramel cake, cardamom tres leches, and lemon, ricotta, and thyme mini loaves—cakes that are packed with fruits, spices, and inventive flavor combinations.

Her wealth of cake ideas are the kinds of sweets you can bake year round, but one recipe that’s perfect for the holidays quickly caught out eye: a cardamom cake with mulled wine jam. The elegant cake is spiced with cardamom, layered with mulled wine jam, and polished off with vanilla extract-infused mascarpone topping. It’ll unquestionably elevate any dessert table—and is definitely a necessary break from all that requisite peppermint. It’s a cake you can enjoy all winter long, even after the holiday carols have died down.

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Reprinted with permission from The New Way to Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. 

Cardamom Cake with Mulled Wine Jam Recipe

One of the best things about the Christmas season is the ability to mull pretty much everything in sight. I’ve worked my way through a mulled wine plum crumble, mulled chocolate truffles and mulled fruit compotes, just to name a few. This cake is no exception with the sweet cardamom acting as a canvas for the boozy mulled wine jam. Packed with plums, black grapes, orange and plenty of spice, this is my go-to alternative Christmas cake.

Cardamom Cake with Mulled Wine Jam

Makes: 1 round 8-inch (20-cm) layer cake
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
  • 10 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 2 tsp (10 g) vanilla bean paste
  • 2 1/4 cups (275 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp (15 g) baking powder
  • 1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp (225 g) superfine/caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease two round 8-inch (20-cm) cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. To make the cake, gently heat the milk in a saucepan with the cardamom pods and vanilla, letting it simmer for 2 minutes before removing from the heat. Cover, and let it cool for 15 minutes before straining out the pods. Sift together the flour and baking powder in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer or electric whisk, beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in half of the flour, beating briefly until combined, followed by the milk and remaining flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes in the pans before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Level the cakes with a serrated knife if they aren’t even. Sandwich the cakes together with half of the mascarpone and a generous spoonful or two of jam. Cover the top and sides with the remaining mascarpone. Use a bench scraper or palette knife to smooth the sides of the cake, scraping off just enough mascarpone to let the cake peek through. Add extra grapes and a few dollops of jam.

Mulled Wine Jam

Ingredients
  • 1 cup (240 ml) red wine
  • 2 1/2 cups (400 g) pitted and quartered plums
  • 2 cups (200 g) black seedless grapes, plus extra to decorate
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 1/4 cups (450 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice
  • Half an orange, thickly sliced
Instructions
  1. To make the jam, add the wine, plums, grapes, cinnamon sticks, star anise and nutmeg to a large saucepan. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes to soften the plums. Add the sugar, lemon juice and orange and boil for 12 to 20 minutes, or until it coats the back of a spoon. Remove the cinnamon sticks, star anise and orange slices and pour into a shallow tray to cool quickly. I like my jam quite chunky, but you can run yours through a food processor if you’d like.
  2. The recipe will make a little more jam than you’ll need. Store what’s left in a clean glass jar or tupperware for up to a month in the fridge.

Cake Topping

Ingredients
  • 1 cup (250 g) mascarpone
  • 1 1/4 cups (150 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. To make the topping, beat the mascarpone and sugar in a medium bowl by hand until smooth. Fold in the cream and vanilla and chill in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Header image courtesy of Holly Wulff Peterse.

Amy Schulman is an associate editor at Chowhound. She is decidedly pro-chocolate.
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