Get the idea: How to fancy up a simple store-bought or homemade cake for dessert
A cake is an efficient way to cater for dessert for a crowd, as you only need this one thing which can be cut up to feed many. Good chocolate cakes, pound cakes, sponge cakes, fruit cakes, gingerbread or lemon loaves are easy to make — and easier to buy these days — and the ways of slicing and filling them, and serving accompaniments with them to fancy them up are countless.
These ideas are useful when you are required to bring dessert — not to mention for a special dessert.
Soak plenty of sliced, pitted prunes in plenty of very sweet sherry (Pedro Ximenez if you have it) for an hour. Pour the liquid over the two halves of a bought or homemade chocolate cake. Place the prunes on top of one half and top with whipped cream. Place the other half on top. Spread the top with more whipped cream, a covering of irregular chocolate shards (see right) and a dusting of cocoa.
Bring some berries to the boil with a little sugar. Cool and chill. Slice a pound cake or madeira cake into three horizontal slices so you have three layers. Generously spoon the berries on two of the layers and place a layer of cow or sheep’s milk ricotta on top of the berries. Sprinkle well with chopped dark chocolate and crystallised fruit. Place the top on, press down gently and serve in wedges with whipped cream.
Make or buy a plain sponge cake and split it into three layers. Generously douse each layer with port and spread two of them with strawberry jam. Cover these two with cream and sliced strawberries, layer on top of each other and place the third layer on top. Spread the top with jam and place halved strawberries in a neat pattern on top. Brush the top with plenty of jam and serve with more whipped cream.
Sprinkle a trifle sponge with a little white rum, pure maple syrup and plenty of thick coconut cream. Sprinkle with toasted macadamias. Serve with sliced mangoes and coconut cream.
Gently warm slices of fruit cake in the microwave, douse with whisky and serve with real vanilla ice cream and homemade or bought creme anglaise. A bit like Christmas pudding.
Bring some frozen blackberries to the boil with sugar to sweeten. Cool and reserve. Slice a bought or homemade pound or madeira cake into 2cm-thick slices and toast them. Serve the toasted cake with the blackberries and mascarpone.
Halve, peel and core some pears and poach them in a lightly sweetened syrup until tender. Cool and chill. Serve with a bought or homemade gooey loaf of gingerbread with slices of creamy ripe brie.
Soak a mix of dried fruit (golden raisins, figs, prunes, currants, fresh dates) in brandy and a little pure maple syrup to sweeten for an hour. Add sliced bananas and serve with wedges of warm chocolate cake (gently heat in the microwave), caramel sauce (made from 1 part sugar and water boiled until golden, with 2 parts cream carefully mixed into it and melted over low heat to dissolve any lumps) and whipped cream.
Buy one of those syrupy lemon loaves and sprinkle it well with limoncello. Serve sliced with a big bowl of fresh blueberries and a bowl of cream whipped with an equal quantity of mascarpone.
Make a tropical trifle with plain trifle sponge which has been broken into large bite-sized pieces and well sprinkled with dark rum. Make a salad of fresh pineapple pieces, pawpaw, bananas and mangoes and place this on top of the sponge. Then pour over thick coconut cream, and top with whipped cream, toasted coconut and shaved dark chocolate.