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Twin sisters Rachel and Lauren Finch have been baking the north-west’s most decadent cakes since 2016. Now, they’re sharing their secrets with a new cookbook…
From the outside, Finch Bakery in Blackburn looks like any other cake shop – but inside, it’s far from ordinary. Founded by twin sisters Rachel and Lauren Finch in 2016, it’s Lancashire’s answer to the likes of London-based Crumbs & Doilies and Cutter & Squidge – by which we mean it’s the northern home of aesthetically extravagant yet utterly delicious bakes.
Since opening, it’s become a must-visit for everything from daily-made brownies and blondies to unfeasibly perfect-looking layer cakes, building up a fan base of 150,000 Instagram followers along the way.
If distance means you won’t be dropping by anytime soon, or you just want to recreate the sisters’ show-stopping bakes at home, you can now turn to the Finches’ new cookbook. Filled with fool-proof recipes for crowd-pleasing cakes, cookies and more, The Finch Bakery is effectively an encyclopaedia for anyone with a sweet tooth – and below, the Finch sisters share three recipes from the book.
Few phrases fill our souls with more joy than ‘portable cake’, so it’s easy to see why Rachel and Lauren’s cake jars are bestsellers. To make them at home, it’s as simple as layering sponge, buttercream and your choice of filling into a mason jar. Once prepared, screw the lid back on for a delightfully transportable dessert.
If cinnamon is your catnip, make a batch of Rachel and Lauren’s pumpkin spice cookies. Classic autumnal flavours are mixed into the pair’s signature cookie dough, which is rolled around a cream cheese filling to form a meltingly soft centre when cooked. Trust us – you’ll be baking these from now until December.
Finally, Finch Bakery’s Jammie Dodger blondies are multi-textured perfection. Make a batch of white chocolate blondie batter, then swirl the top with jam, mini Jammie Dodgers and white chocolate chips. Rachel and Lauren bake the mixture until it’s fudgy, then slice into generous squares.
How long before you have to bake one of these recipes? We give it an hour…
Lauren and Rachel say: “These beauties are one of the things that initially put our little bakery on the map! Layering sponge inside a jar creates an impressive mess-free dessert – just grab a spoon and you’re ready to go. Our customers have taken their cake jars to the cinema, on hikes and even abroad… what could be better than indulging in a cake jar on the beach!
“Cake jars are perfect for using up leftover buttercream and cupcakes or cake cut-offs. This method shows you how to make cake jars with already-baked sponge – generally, each layer of sponge requires 50g of cake (or 1 cupcake). Our cake jar recipes fill a standard 454g jam jar.
“You can add as many layers and fillings as you like to your cake jars… sponge and buttercream only, or fillings such as jam, lemon curd, caramel, ganache or chocolate spread. Add a little extra buttercream for flavours that need no additional filling, such as carrot cake and red velvet.”
Makes 4 cake jars
- 600g cake (around 12 cupcakes)
- fillings of your choice (optional)
- buttercream (see recipe below)
You will need:
- piping bags and nozzle of your choice (optional)
- 4 x 454g jam jars
Load the buttercream into a piping bag and snip 1cm from the tip (you can use a nozzle, if you like). Pipe a blob of buttercream into the bottom of a jar.
Crumble 50g of cake or 1 cupcake into the bottom of the jar. Lightly push down and flatten the cake using the end of a rolling pin.
Load any filling, if using, into another piping bag and pipe a ring around the perimeter of the jar. Alternatively, spoon filling into the jar and use the back of the spoon to spread it in a thin layer.
Pipe a ring of buttercream around the perimeter of the jar, on top of the filling.
Repeat with another layer of cake, any fillings (if using) and buttercream. The general rule is to add 1 teaspoon of filling per layer.
Add a third layer of cake and finish by squeezing a small blob of filling (if using) in the middle and piping a final ring of buttercream.
If you have the willpower to resist eating it straight away, screw the lid on to enjoy it later. Cake jars will keep for 3 days; cake jars that include cream or cream cheese are best eaten on the day you make them or should be stored in the fridge.
If you are using a spread such as Nutella or Lotus Biscoff as the filling, melt it in the microwave and pour on top of the sponge for each layer. Tilt and rotate the jar in your hand so that the melted spread covers the sponge evenly and is visible from the outside of the jar.
Allow to cool slightly before piping the buttercream on top of the spread, or it may melt.
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 500g icing sugar, plus extra if needed
Add the butter to the bowl of a mixer and whip on a high speed for 5 minutes - this may take a little longer if using a hand-held electric whisk.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and whip for another 30 seconds. This will turn the butter more white than yellow.
Sift the icing sugar into the bowl and combine on a medium setting, remembering to stop and scrape around the sides to mix in everything fully.
Pumpkin spice cookies
Lauren and Rachel say: “Whether you like it in your latte or prefer a sweeter treat, pumpkin spice is an autumn staple. Filled with a soft cream cheese centre, these cookies will have you dreaming about cosy nights in.”
- 250g unsalted butter
- 125g granulated sugar
- 175g light soft brown sugar
- 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
- 600g plain flour
- 10g cornflour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 200g milk chocolate chips
- 200g white chocolate chips, plus 150g to decorate
- orange oil-based or gel food colouring
- 2 ½ tsp pumpkin spice mix (see recipe below)
- pumpkin seeds, to decorate (optional)
For the cream cheese filling:
- 80g full-fat cream cheese
- 200g icing sugar
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- a dash of lemon juice
You will need:
- mixer or hand-held electric whisk
- 2–3 baking trays, lined
Follow the recipe for the pumpkin spice mix (below).
Next, make the cream cheese filling using the quantities listed above. Add the cream cheese to a mixer and sift in the icing sugar. Mix on a low speed until combined, then turn it up to medium. It may be quite runny, depending on the brand of icing sugar and the temperature of the cream cheese.
Mix in the cornflour to thicken. Add a dash of lemon juice and mix until combined. The consistency should be like thick glacé icing. If the mixture is too runny, add 50g icing sugar at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
Put the mixture into the freezer for 30 minutes to solidify slightly.
Place the butter in a mixer (or use a hand-held electric whisk) and mix on medium speed until smooth and light in colour.
Add both sugars, the eggs and egg yolk, and beat together until combined. Before adding the flours and chocolate chips, add some orange food colouring and the pumpkin spice mix.
Add the rest of the ingredients and combine everything together.
Form 12 even balls of cookie dough, weighing around 140g each. Split each ball in half.
Flatten both halves slightly against the work surface with your palm.
Put one half in your hand and, using a teaspoon, dollop the cream cheese filling in the centre of the dough.
Carefully pick up the other flattened half with the other hand and place over the top.
Pinch the sides together making sure no cream cheese filling escapes. Roll gently in your hands to seal.
Once all 12 cookies are filled and rolled into a thick cookie shape, add the white chocolate chips and some pumpkin seeds, if using, to the tops.
Arrange the cookies on the lined baking trays and place in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan/Gas 7).
Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes. Leave to cool completely on the trays.
Roll in cinnamon sugar before baking (1:1 ground cinnamon and granulated sugar) for an extra sweet crunch.
Pumpkin spice mix
- 6 tbsp sweet ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp allspice
- ½ tsp ground cloves
Mix the spices together in a bowl. As spices are very fine, it is easy to add too much allspice or cloves, which will overpower the mix – try adding them a pinch at a time, to taste.
Store in an airtight container.
Use in other recipes, in coffee or hot chocolate, or sprinkled over pancakes!
Jamie Dodger blondies
Lauren and Rachel say: “Filled with white chocolate chips, swirled with strawberry jam and topped with Jammie Dodgers, these blondies are our kryptonite! Fudgy and sweet, this recipe will be top of your list to bake for your emergency freezer treat stash!”
- 170g unsalted butter
- 100g white chocolate
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g light soft brown sugar
- 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
- ¼ tsp salt
- 30g golden syrup
- 250g plain flour
- 1 heaped tbsp cornflour
- 150g white chocolate chips
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
For the topping:
- 150g strawberry or raspberry jam
- 12–15 Mini Jammie Dodgers
- 50g white chocolate chips
You will need:
- mixer or hand-held electric whisk
- 20 x 30cm tin
- lined piping bag
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan/Gas 4).
Melt the butter and white chocolate together in the microwave at full power or gently on the hob. Stir with a spoon or spatula until combined.
Put the caster sugar and light soft brown sugar into the bowl of a mixer, then pour in the melted butter and chocolate mixture. Mix on a medium setting for 1 minute. Alternatively, use a mixing bowl and a hand-held electric whisk.
Whisk the eggs and egg yolk together, then add to the mixture with the salt and golden syrup, mixing on a low speed.
Sift the plain flour and cornflour together into the bowl, before mixing by hand or on a low speed. When combined, add 150g of the white chocolate chips and the vanilla extract, and mix gently.
Pour the mixture into the lined tin, spreading it evenly right up to the edges of the tin.
For the topping, spoon the jam into a piping bag and snip the end off. Pipe 6 lines vertically down the rectangular tin, evenly spaced.
Use a knife or skewer to drag the jam back and forth horizontally, creating a feathered pattern.
Distribute the Jammie Dodgers and the remaining white chocolate chips evenly across the top of the blondie batter.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the middle still wobbles.
Allow to cool completely in the tin. Once cold, chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight before cutting into squares or rectangles.
Do not be put off by the wobble once cooked – the blondie will look undercooked until completely set!
Allow to cool completely, and then put it in the fridge for several hours before cutting. We like to leave them overnight to make sure they are fully set.
Finch Bakery: Sweet Homemade Treats and Showstopper Celebration Cakes by Lauren and Rachel Finch (£20, DK) is out now
Photography: Jessica Griffiths