So, January is here, Christmas is a distant memory, and we are all in need of a pick-me-up. What better than some comforting bakes to fill the house with delightful smells, to share with friends and family, and to arm ourselves with ‘hygge’, or cosiness and wellbeing in the Danish sense, as we know the winter is far from over.  And spare a thought for those who have birthdays in January, where cakes must still be made and milestones are still being celebrated. 

I love using spice in cakes around this time of year and a crumble cake with pears and crystalised ginger served with custard is the perfect antidote to the January blues. Celebration cakes can also be spiced up too, and there is a twist on a cinnamon roll cake that can be a real showstopper for a party.

Chocolate is a great mood booster and paired with beetroot, it makes a real earthy, wintery, rich cake, covered in cream cheese frosting, an excellent combination for an afternoon tea or lunch time dessert. 

Lemons and cherries, although available all year round, are summery fruits, but I’ve included lemon meringue cupcakes and cherry bakewell tartlets. These are feel good recipes that we all know, because nostalgia is comforting, like a warm hug, lifting the spirits and reminding us of sunnier times. Happy baking!

Pear, Ginger, and Almond Crumble Cake

Serves 10-12



  • 120 g softened butter
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 50 g ground almond
  • 120 g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 50 ml milk
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 ripe pears, peeled and chopped

Crumble topping:

  • 50 g plain flour
  • 30 g flaked almonds
  • 30 g porridge oats
  • 70 g light brown sugar
  • 40 g melted butter
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 50 g crystallised ginger, finely chopped 


  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line the bottom of a 20 cm (8 inch) springform tin, and brush melted butter around the sides. 
  • Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer. Add the eggs one by one, then add the ground almond.
  • Add half of the milk, and half of the flour, the baking powder and ginger. 
  • Add the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour. 
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
  • In a separate bowl, add all the ingredients for the crumble mix. Combine well but do not worry about lumps, these will become the crunchy bits of the crumble. 
  • Layer the pears on top of the cake mixture, ensuring to create an even layer, then sprinkle the crumble mixture on top. 
  • Bake for 50-60 mins, checking to make sure a skewer comes out clean. 
  • Serve warm with cream or custard. 

Cinnamon Roll Cake

Serves 10-12



  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 125 g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 400 g cream cheese
  • 140 g icing sugar
  • 160 g softened butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 70 g dark brown sugar


Make the icing:

  • Whip the softened butter in a mixer until it is pale in colour and soft and smooth. 
  • Add the sifted icing sugar, whipping until well combined, then add the cream cheese and vanilla extract. 
  • Mix until the icing is smooth and divide the mixture into two. In one bowl add the cinnamon and the dark brown sugar and keep the other icing for decorating the outside. 
  • Make the sponge:
  • Line a 38 cm x 26 cm swiss roll baking tray with baking paper. Pre heat oven to 180 degrees.
  • Using a whisk attachment whisk the eggs, sugar, warm water and vanilla extract until the mixture is pale and has thickened so that it forms a trail when the whisk is lifted. This will take about 5 minutes, depending on the mixer. 
  • Sift the flour and gently fold into the mixture with a metal spoon. Try to keep as much of the air as possible. 
  • Pour into the prepared tray, smooth out the mixture to the edges and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cake is spongy, and a skewer comes out clean. 
  • Leave the sponge to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn the tray out onto a sheet of baking paper sprinkled with icing sugar. 
  • With the narrow end facing you, roll the sponge with the paper and leave it to cool. 
  • When it is cold, carefully unroll it, and cut it in to 2 even strips from the narrow end, you could use a pizza cutter to do this. 

To Assemble

  • Spread cinnamon icing over both of the cake strips, saving a little for decorating the top of the cake at the end. 
  • Starting at the narrow end roll the first strip back up, then connect the end of this roll to the beginning of the next strip and continue until it is like a large swiss roll. 
  • Turn it around onto a plate or cake board so that the spiral is at the top and bottom and chill for at least half an hour to firm up the cake structure.
  • Cover the cake in the vanilla cream cheese buttercream and use the remaining cinnamon icing to pipe a spiral on the top and some icing swirls, or just decorate as you wish. 
  • Chill and serve, cutting just as a normal cake.  

Chocolate and Beetroot Loaf Cake

Serves 8-10



  • 150 g cooked beetroot (not pickled)
  • 130 g plain flour
  • 40 g ground almond
  • 40 g cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 170 g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120 ml sunflower oil
  • 40 ml sour cream
  • 40 g dark chocolate chips

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 75 g softened butter
  • 150 g cream cheese
  • 50 g icing sugar
  • Dried rose petals or chocolate shavings to decorate.


  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line a 2 lb loaf tin with baking parchment. 
  • In a food processor, blitz the beetroot with a little oil to a puree. 
  • Whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla and veg oil in a mixer. 
  • Add the beetroot puree, the sour cream, then the flour, baking powder, and cocoa. Mix until just combined and fold in the chocolate chips. 
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, and bake for 1 hour, checking after 50 mins, until a skewer comes out clean. 
  • Leave in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn it out onto a wire tray to cool.
  • To make the icing, beat the butter until it is pale and soft. Add the icing sugar, mix until combined and add the cream cheese. Mix well until the icing is soft and smooth. 
  • Spread on the cooled cake and decorate with dried rose petals or chocolate shavings. 

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Makes 12



  • 150 g softened butter
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 150 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Lemon Curd:

  • 50 g butter
  • 110 g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons

Swiss Meringue:

  • 100 g egg white
  • 150 g sugar


  • Make the lemon curd:
  • Mix the eggs and egg yolk together in a bowl.
  • In a saucepan over a medium heat, melt the butter, add the sugar, lemon juice and zest. 
  • Once the sugar has dissolved, turn down the heat to low, and whisk the eggs into the saucepan.
  • Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir until it starts to thicken. Once this happens remove it from the heat and pour the lemon curd into a bowl. Pass it through a sieve and leave it cool.   

Make the cupcakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. 
  • Line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcake cases. 
  • Cream the butter and the sugar together, add the eggs one by one, ensuring to mix well in between. 
  • Add the vanilla essence, and the flour, salt and baking powder. 
  • Divide between the cupcake cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire tray. 

Make the Swiss meringue:

  • Bring a pot of water to the boil. 
  • In a spotlessly clean mixing bowl add the egg whites and caster sugar together. 
  • Mix to combine and place the bowl with the eggs and sugar on top of the pot of boiling water. Over a medium heat, whisk constantly until the sugar has fully dissolved or the mixture has reached 70 degrees. You can use a regular temperature probe for this, no need for a sugar thermometer. 
  • Remove the bowl from the heat and mix on a medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase the speed to high until stiff peaks form. 

To Assemble:

  • Fill a piping bag with meringue. 
  • Using the end of a piping tip, an apple corer, or a small spoon, scoop out a small piece of each cupcake. 
  • Fill with lemon curd, about a tablespoon, and pipe on top of this with the meringue, covering the top of the cupcake. Using a cook’s blowtorch, torch the meringue until it is golden brown. 

Cherry Bakewell Tartlets

Makes 6 individual tartlets (9cm tartlet tins) or 12 mini tarts (muffin tin)


Sweet pastry:

  • 160 g plain flour
  • 30 g icing sugar
  • 150 g softened butter
  • 1-2 medium egg yolks


  • 120 g ground almond
  • 120 g softened butter
  • 120 g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs 

Cherry jam:

  • 200 g fresh (pitted) or frozen cherries (keep 6 whole cherries to garnish)
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • Juice of ½ a lemon

Small drop of almond essence


  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • Pink food colouring


Make the cherry jam:

  • Heat the cherries, with the caster sugar, almond essence in a saucepan over a medium heat until the cherries reach a jam like consistency. 
  • Add lemon juice and leave to cool. 

Make the sweet pastry:

  • In a mixer cream the butter with the icing sugar. 
  • Add the flour and mix until the consistency of breadcrumbs.
  • Add as much of the egg yolk as you need to bring the pastry together, it will be slightly sticky, turn it out onto a floured surface, and combine until smooth. 
  • Lightly flour and wrap it, leaving it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Make the Frangipane:

  • Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer, add the eggs, then add the ground almond. Mix until combined. 

To Assemble and Bake the Tartlets:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Brush the insides of the tartlet tins (or the muffin tin) with melted butter. 
  • Once the pastry is chilled, roll it out to roughly a half cm thick, cut out discs large enough to line the tins, trim the pastry to fit, and chill the cases for 30 minutes.
  • Blind bake the pastry cases by first pricking the pastry all over with a fork, and then lining them with baking parchment. Use baking beans, uncooked rice, or uncooked beans to weigh down the paper in the cases, and bake for 12 minutes, or until the sides of the pastry cases have started to brown. Remove the paper and beans, and egg wash the pastry cases. Use the remaining egg yolk and a pastry brush to do this. Bake for a further 5 minutes. 
  • Spread cherry jam on the bottom of each pastry case and fill each three quarters of the way up with frangipane. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the frangipane is golden brown, set and risen. Remove the tartlets to a cooling rack. 
  • To decorate, mix the icing sugar with water to create a thick icing that will sit on top of the cooled tartlets. 
  • Start with a small amount of water, 1 tsp and add more until it is thick enough to spread on the tartlets without dripping over the edges too much. 
  • Take a small amount of the white icing and colour it pink with a drop of pink food colouring. 
  • Using a piping bag, cut a tiny hole and pipe pink vertical lines across the white icing. With a toothpick, ‘feather’ the pink icing by dragging it through the lines in the opposite direction. 
  • Garnish each tartlet with a cherry. 

Kate O Hora – Bio

With over 25 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, Kate O Hora has worked both front and back of house in many of Dublin’s top restaurants including La Stampa, The Unicorn and Aqua. She set up The Cake Table during the first lockdown, after years of baking for friends and family. She left her full-time cheffing position in 2021 to concentrate on her cake business which has gone from strength to strength. 

Having a huge passion for food she commenced a masters in Gastronomy and Food Studies in 2019 at TU Dublin, graduated in 2021 and has since been working in other areas of the food industry, including food styling, recipe development and restaurant consultation. 

Instagram:  @thecake_table

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