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Saturday, 13 May 2017

Blackberry, Lime and Thyme Cake



So you might think these flavours sound a bit odd together, especially if you've never heard of thyme in a dessert before but it's getting more and more popular to use the herb in all manner of sweet things, hitting the botanical cake trend - nail on the head. It really does work and to those who might think it's a bit 'out-there' I urge you to give it a chance as the flavour is just a subtle hum in the background and not in the slightest bit overpowering. 



I made a sugar syrup using the lime juice and with the slow heat I popped the thyme in there to leave it to infuse and take on the delicate aromatics. After the syrup had reduced down slightly I strained it to remove the thyme, so you just get the flavour without the annoying leaves stuck in the cake. 



It is rather fitting weather for a cake like this, when it starts to feel a bit more like summer and you can enjoy a piece of this sat outside whilst soaking up the sunshine. 

Blackberry,  Lime  and  Thyme  Cake


Recipe adapted from one of my fave bloggers - Twigg Studios


Ingredients


For the sponge:
220g (2 sticks) butter
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
4 eggs
220g (1 cup) self raising flour
zest of 2 limes
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the syrup:
juice of two limes
3 sprigs of thyme
110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar

For the frosting:
300ml double cream
5 tbsp. icing sugar
4 to 5 tbsp. of syrup

For the filling:
Roughly 4 tbsp of blackberry jam

To decorate:
1 small punnet blackberries
Extra thyme sprigs

Method


Grease and line four small tins, (about 5 inches in diameter) or use two (8 inches). Preheat the oven to 160°C/ 350°F/ gas 4.
In a stand mixer add the butter and sugar and mix for about 4 minutes until pale and creamy then add one egg and mix for 2 minutes, then add another and mix for two minutes, and do the same with the next two. 

Next add the lime zest and vanilla and mix. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the flour by hand with a spatula being careful not to over mix. Pour evenly between tins and bake for approx. 25 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Turn out the cakes from the tin, remove the baking parchment and leave to cool completely. 

To make the syrup whilst the cake is cooking, in a pan add the juice, thyme and sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved then leave to reduce for a few minutes, once it becomes syrupy remove from the heat, pour the syrup into a bowl with sieve to strain the thyme sprigs. Leave 4-5 tbsp in a separate bowl to cool completely for the frosting, and brush over the remainder warm syrup onto the sponges. Leave it to soak in whilst still cooling. 

To make the frosting, in a mixer add the cream and icing sugar and mix until it is just starting to get thick then add the syrup and continue mixing until stiff.

To assemble the cake slice the tops off if too domed, spread jam onto one sponge then add some frosting and place on the next layer, continue this with the other layers (if doing more than 2). Spread the remaining frosting around the edges, not covering the sides completely to give it the 'naked' look and decorate with thyme by sticking sprigs on the sides and round the edge. Carefully arrange the blackberries into a pile in the middle of the cake. 

Store the cake in the fridge unless not eating straight away. 



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Monday, 17 April 2017

Instarecipe! Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Bun and Butter Pudding



Happy Easter, hope you all had a lovely weekend. It's the time to be eating chocolate - YASSSS - and what better way to use up those leftover hot cross buns along with the broken or little bits of chocolate hanging around (which I didn't seem to have, let's face it...no one can really have leftover chocolate) but if you're sick of eating it (literally) in egg form, then sprinkle some into this warm, gooey and comforting traditional pudding. It's been spruced up a bit by swapping the usual bread for hot cross buns, albeit not just any old hot cross buns at that! These are chocolate orange ones and unless you're from the UK and can bag yourself some from the reduced counter at THAT supermarket (think you know the one, their Easter TV advert made them the star product!!) then otherwise bake yourself a batch and let them go a bit stale first, OR sounds a bit too much effort? Then use any hot cross bun you have, they'll work just as perfectly. 

 


This pudding proved to be a real family favourite on Easter Sunday in our household, served warm out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside. I'd never tried eating normal bread and butter pudding before, or even made it - it's not really appealed to me, I loved this version but don't think I'll be able to go back now and have it any other way, chocolate orange was the turning point for me, it's the way forward guys!!!

P.S   My rather amateurish video gif representations was used here to show how easy this recipe is to complete. It takes no effort and is basically a simple assembling of ingredients. 

Note: I used a circle baking dish as it was about the right size for the amount of hot cross buns, just use whatever dish you have to fit the amount of hot cross buns you are using. 


Chocolate  Orange  Hot  Cross  Bun  and  Butter  Pudding


Adapted from here.

Serves 6

Ingredients


7 or 8 chocolate orange hot cross buns
25g butter
40g chocolate chips of your choice or chopped up easter egg chocolate
2 large eggs
250ml milk
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 Orange
1 tsp demerara sugar


Method


Heat the oven to 170°C/ 150°C Fan/ 325°F / Gas 3.

Cut the hot cross buns in half and butter the cut sides, sprinkle with half of the chocolate chips or chopped bits of chocolate, sandwich together again and place into a medium sized greased baking dish.

Beat the egg, milk and sugar together in a jug and pour over. Zest the orange and sprinkle all over the pudding with the demerara sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes until just set. Leave to stand for a few minutes and then serve into portions. 


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Monday, 10 April 2017

Baked Banana Choc Digestive Doughnuts

Some people find it easy to write out and about in busy places like at the park or library, although I’d much rather prefer the silence and comfort of being alone. So as I’m currently sat on this 5hr train on my way up to Edinburgh to visit my friend, this post is proving rather difficult to write. But making the most of this boring journey is a strong priority of mine as with university and work I have hardly found the time to blog – evidently. 
Doughnuts are having a bit of thing at the moment, woo! Go doughnuts! I’m not a really massive fan of the all so hyped ones (not gonna mention the name of THAT said brand, I think you know the one), however fresh home cooked gourmet doughnuts in all manner of flavours I can deal with, and when I say this… I can’t help but think of one of my most favourite places to eat them, the Steam Room. A humble independent with amazing coffee and an equally amazing flavoured array of doughnuts. They’re based in Sheffield which is pretty sad for me since I currently live nowhere near there, but whenever I’m visiting I make it a must go!
Although these are baked doughnuts and not the usual type that Steam Room usually sell, they were my starting point of inspiration for these. I had about a gazillion chocolate digestives leftover from some work we were doing at uni last week (standard day for a food student I suppose) and so I needed a use for them. Cheesecake you might say, but no that’s just the obvious un-inventive way to use them. Instead I opted to top some banana chocolate doughnuts with them because why the heck not, it’s nearly Easter time which means another reason to indulge and pile on those treats. 
I still didn’t manage to use all the digestives so I’ll still have to make a cheesecake (oh what a shame…) 
In the meantime I thoroughly recommend stuffing your face with these. Oh and shout out to my bestie Ellen - who I’m travelling up to Edinburgh to see now, for buying me my doughnut tray, a long awaited birthday present. (She knows me well, I’ve been wanting one for AGES!!), thanks to you we all have this doughnut recipe in our lives. 


Baked  Banana  Choc  Digestive  Doughnuts

Ingredients:

Makes 6 doughnuts, or approximately double if mini. 

For the doughnuts:
1 ½ small bananas or 1 large (ripe)
50g ( ¼ cup) caster sugar
60g ( ¼ cup) greek yoghurt
3 tsp butter (melted)
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
120g (1 cup AP flour) plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarb
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cinnamon
50g milk chocolate 

For the glaze:
105g (about 1 cup confectioner’s sugar) icing sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

For the decoration:
About 6 chocolate digestives, broken into pieces
3 squares of white chocolate

Method


Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/gas 3.
Grease the 6 hole doughnut tray lightly with cooking spray. Mash the bananas then put into a large mixing bowl with the paddle attachment of a free standing mixer. Add in the sugar, yoghurt and melted butter. Mix together, then add the egg and vanilla. Fold in the flour and the spices. 

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and fold into the batter. Pour the batter into a disposable piping bag and cut off the end. Pipe the batter into the 6 hole tray in equal amounts until you have used up all your mixture but don’t over fill the holes. 

Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Once baked, leave to cool in the tray for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

Make the glaze by mixing the icing sugar with the cocoa powder in a medium bowl, then stir in the milk and vanilla until a thick smooth glaze. Pour the glaze onto a plate and then dip the cooled doughnuts one side into the glaze, lift off the plate allowing any excess to drip off before placing back onto the cooling rack. Before the glaze sets, sprinkle over the digestive biscuits so that it sticks to the glaze. 

Melt the chocolate squares in a small bowl in the microwave for about 30 seconds on a low setting and keep stirring at intervals until they have melted. Pour into a small disposable piping bag and cut off a small hole. Drizzle chocolate over the doughnuts and leave to set completely before eating. Best eaten within 2 days. 

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Saturday, 18 March 2017

Pistachio, Orange Blossom and Pomegranate Delices


Okay, so these look and sound rather fancy and I must point out now that this recipe certainly isn't for the faint-hearted cook, without trying to put you off!! This has got to be my longest method for a recipe I have ever created in the history of my 2 and a half years blogging. It took me so long to write this and never mind the good amount of hours spent cooking and experimenting to create something I was happy with. 

It is, let's just say, one of my more complex recipes...after all, if I'm gonna go all out and do old school patisserie I may as well do it justice and do it properly as it should be done. A delice is essentially a fancy french term for a layered slice which you'll often find in many forms of flavours and textures in all standard patisseries. The layered slice is an exercise in culinary harmony, and a budding pastry chef has much to learn from them. 



The real skill and secret to a successful delice is that all the components hold themselves individually and that they are precise and in the right order. The base is a patisserie sponge made with ground almonds called a joconde. It provides the structure and moisture due to its high fat content, but is soft in texture and complements the mousse layer. 

I wanted to create a delice with middle eastern inspired flavours as I've noticed this exciting cuisine is definitely on the up as a new emerging trend and a layered slice is the ideal opportunity to experiment with flavours and texture combinations. The middle eastern trend is taking ahold in the UK with countless new restaurant openings alone in 2016. Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurants and cookbooks being frontrunners in helping to boost the awareness of Middle Eastern foods and culture. 

The floral, botanical trend is also definitely something that is 'trendy' right now, especially when it comes to floral flavoured desserts. So, what I call the mousse is actually titled malabi. A popular middle eastern dessert: creamy, perfumed, milk-based pudding flavoured with either orange blossom or rose water. It was perfect to experiment with as I could create a mousse-like layer with just the cornflour as the stabilising agent - the 'traditional' way of course. 



I think for me, one of the best bits about this dessert is that element of excitement when you slice into it and uncover the fruity, dark ruby red jelly core. It would be great to serve to friends and family without telling them about the hidden centre and wait for their surprise reaction as they discover it for themselves (in the hope that they actually like pomegranate!!) 

Pistachio,  Orange  Blossom  and  Pomegranate  Delices

Makes 6

You will need three 13 x 5cm (depth 4cm) size approx. silicon loaf moulds


Ingredients:

For the Pomegranate Jelly Cubes:
1 gelatine leaf
100ml pomegranate juice
5g caster sugar

For the Orange Jelly Glaze:
2 gelatine leaves
200ml orange juice
10g caster sugar

For the Orange Blossom Malabi Mousse:
350ml whole milk
120ml double cream
75g caster sugar
30g cornflour/cornstarch
2 tbsp water
1 ½ tsp orange blossom water

For the pistachio Joconde Sponge:
Cooking oil spray for greasing
25g pistachios, finely ground with a processor
40g ground almonds
40g icing sugar
10g plain flour
1 large egg
10g butter, melted and cooled
80g egg white (about 3 medium eggs)
20g caster sugar

For decoration:
10g finely chopped pistachios

Method


Prepare the loaf moulds by lining tthem with cling film (plastic wrap), making sure to line the base and up the sides, leaving extra overhanging around the edge to fold over with once they are filled. Try to avoid any wrinkles with the cling film, making it as smooth as possible and getting it right into the corners. 

Prepare the pomegranate jelly cubes and orange jelly glaze the night before so it has time to set. Apply the same method to both. Place the gelatine leaves in a jug of cold water and leave to soak for 5 minutes. Heat the juice (separately) and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then squeeze the excess moisture out of the gelatine leaves (making sure to put 1 leaf into the pomegranate juice) and dissolve them into the hot juice, give it a quick stir. Pour the pomegranate juice into a silicon ice cube tray, you may not need all the juice depending on the size of your cube tray. You could pour the leftovers into ramekins for jelly desserts. Leave them to set in the fridge overnight. Pour the orange jelly into the three prepared lined loaf moulds, distributing the juice equally to create a thin layer on the base. Leave to set in the fridge overnight. 

On the day of serving, prepare the malabi. Combine the milk, cream, and sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Once the mixture comes to the boil, remove from the heat. While you’re waiting for your milk to heat up, dissolve the cornflour in the water, whisking as you add it to make sure there are no lumps. When the milk comes to the boil, quickly whisk in the cornflour paste along with the orange blossom water and immediately remove from the heat. Leave to cool in a bowl, place a layer of cling film on the surface to stop a skin forming, chill in the fridge until thick enough to pipe. 

Prepare the pistachio joconde. Preheat the oven to 200°C/350°F/gas 6. Line a 15 x 20cm (approx. size) traybake tin with parchment paper and lightly grease with the cooking spray. Firstly, make a pistachio paste by putting the finely ground pistachios into a pestle and mortar and grind until they form a paste (this takes a good 5 minutes, the natural oils come out of the nuts and help to make a paste-like consistency.) 

Put the paste, ground almonds, icing sugar, flour, eggs and butter into a bowl and whisk together for about 3 minutes to make a smooth paste. 

Whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar until a smooth and glossy meringue forms. 

Fold in a spoonful of the meringue into the pistachio mixture to loosen it, then fold in the remaining meringue. Spread out thinly onto the lined prepared tin, leveling it out if necessary to the corners. Bake for 12-15 minutes until cooked, a skewer inserted should come out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, peel off the parchment paper. 

Fill the malabi mousse into a piping bag and cut a large hole. Pipe a thick layer into each of the prepared loaf moulds with the jelly glaze as the base. Then turn out the pomegranate jelly cubes from the tray and place 2 into each loaf mould, leave a gap between the 2 cubes and so there is a border left around the edge of each cube. Then use the rest of the malabi mousse to pipe around and a thin layer on top of the jelly cube, repeat with all three moulds until it is all used up. Place back into the fridge to set for 1 hour.  

Once the pistachio joconde sponge has cooled completely, cut three 13 x 5cm rectangles out and place on top of the malabi like a lid, this forms the final layer and will be the base once turned out. Press down slightly so it fits snug inside the mould but it should reach the top. Then use the overhanging extra cling film to cover the sponge. Leave to set for roughly another 4-5 hours. 

To serve, remove from the fridge. Unwrap the cling film top and turn out the delices onto a board. It may require a knife around the edge to tease it out at first, or try tapping the base, bending the silicon slightly. Once released, peeling off the surrounding cling film, cut each one into precisely half so you end up with 6 cube shaped delices in total. For decoration, sprinkle chopped pistachios onto half of each delice diagonally using a piece of paper - cover one side corner to corner, so that you create a clean line edge. 

They are best served chilled on the day of making but should be stored in the fridge if necessary.   
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Sunday, 12 February 2017

Caramelised Banana Tart


I've been feeling very uninspired recently, probably a mix of being ill multiple times (seriously though, I've never been this ill AND it came back, again and again...just wonderful) and that the weather has been bloody freezing here! 



These times call for desperate measures in the name of ultimate sweet treat comfort foods. Oh yes. This caramelised banana tart turned out to be a bit of an experiment but boy, did it turn out good!! It looks fancy and impressive, though it's really not that hard.



A sweet pastry case filled with a layer of a sponge-like mix, akin to that of frangipane, minus the almond flavour and replaced with sweet vanilla. Then, a fanned layer of banana slices, sprinkled with a generous amount of sugar which is then browned to caramelised perfection under the grill. If you don't have a grill, a blow torch would also work well here. 

The recipe is adapted from The Metropolitan Bakery switching up quite a few components. They claim that theirs is better served immediately, but fortunately I found this to be a lie because mine lasted fine for days, stored in the fridge. I recommend that you heat it up again, served with ice cream of course. 

Caramelised  Banana  Tart


Ingredients:


For the Pastry:
190g (1 + ⅔ cup) plain flour
110g (⅓ cup + 2tbsp) butter, cold and cubed
1 small egg
45g (3 tbsp) caster sugar   

For the Filling:
2tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
60ml (¼ cup heavy cream) double cream
1 large egg
70g (¼ cup + 2 tbsp) soft light brown sugar
2 tbsp self-raising flour

For the top:
3 bananas
½ lemon
55g (¼ cup) caster sugar

Method


To make the pastry, in a bowl rub the flour into the butter to achieve a breadcrumb consistency. In a separate small bowl whisk the egg and sugar together. Add to the flour mixture, bit by bit, until you form a dough which sticks together. You may not need all the egg depending on the size. Cover the dough in clingfilm and leave in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Once the dough has chilled, roll out onto a floured work surface so it is big enough to line a tart tin. Place the pastry into the tin, pressing down lightly on the sides and cut off any excess overhanging, but it will trimmed again after baking. Prick the base with a fork all over and blind bake with parchment paper filled with baking beans/rice/pasta. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, then bake for a further 5 minutes. Trim around the edges with a serrated knife to make it level. 

Meanwhile to make the filling, melt the butter with vanilla in a small saucepan and cook until the butter bubbles and turns a dark golden brown, swirling the pan gently to cook evenly. Cool slightly then whisk together in a bowl with the the cream, egg, sugar, and flour. Spread the filling over the bottom of the prebaked tart shell and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until the filling is just set. Remove tart from the oven and cool on a rack.

Put the grill (broiler) on a medium heat setting to warm up. Peel the bananas and slice crosswise into thin slices. Arrange the slices over the tart in an overlapping circular pattern. Brush the banana slices lightly with lemon juice. Sprinkle the bananas evenly with sugar. Place the tart under the grill (broiler) and cook until the sugar caramelises, turning now and then to make sure it browns evenly. Turn down the heat if it starts to overcook the pastry edge. Remove tart from the grill and cool on a rack. Remove the tart tin. 

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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Raspberry, White Chocolate and Green Tea Magic Cake


I'm gonna get straight to it, what's so magic about this cake...I can tell you're all dying to know. The magic is all in the baking since it's actually made of the very usual suspects of eggs, sugar, flour, butter and milk.



If you read on to the method of this recipe, you'll notice that it involves whisking egg whites until they're stiff and then gently incorporating with a whisk into a very wet mixture. YES! A Whisk! I know this goes against what every chef or cookbook will tell you, but it's the correct method with this recipe because folding it in with a metal spoon/spatula simply won't do much or equally it will take you hours and to be honest, you do want to still be left with large white lumps at the end, that's where the science behind this begins. 



In fact, I had to go against a lot of my baking instincts with this recipe. At the end of the baking time given in the recipe, the cake should still have a slight wobble, which will set when it is chilled. So testing a cake with a skewer will not help here, you need the centre to still be wet. But, be warned... The upper layer – the genoise sponge – should be well baked and golden. (In hindsight, I probably could have left this one in the oven slightly longer, you can tell by looking at my layering in the photo, the genoise top layer is hard to decipher.) 



You should be left with a cake 'like' dessert (take note of the 'like' simile!) which divides itself due to being such a wet mixture, into three layers, each with its own texture.... 1. the base of the cake is dense and moist, similarly to that of a retro blancmange. 2. a light delicate cream forms in the middle, this one with a layer of raspberries which rise to the middle during cooking. 3. the top layer is a lovely light Genoise sponge like I have mentioned above. 



I did quite a bit of research on these so called magic cakes but I don't think they're very well known in the baking community. This one rule kept popping up though, the tin size is paramount! In an article written by The Telegraph, it says that the tin should correspond "exactly to the quantity of ingredients in the recipe. If your tin is too small, you might not be able to pour all your beaten egg whites on top, resulting in a Genoise layer that is too thin. Conversely, if your tin is too big, each layer will be too thin and it will be difficult to tell them apart." 

It's important that you're also patient (if you can wait) for the best results, especially when it comes to the chilling, as it should be left alone in the fridge in its tin for 2 hours. AT LEAST! It will be easier to turn out and the chilling allows for flavours to develop so they can get to know one another. 

It's not like a usual cake, storing it in the fridge for upto a few days is absolutely fine, it won't dry out and I actually think it tastes better with days. 



This recipe is an adaption from the book by Christelle Huet-Gomez, titled 'Magic Cakes'. Her recipe calls for matcha tea. But, we all know by now that students are on a very restricted budget...one that definitely doesn't permit me the purchase of this pricey green powder. So, with this in mind, I have created a cheaper but just as delicious alternative which substitutes the matcha for normal (still quality) green tea bags. It doesn't emit that lovely vivid green colour unlike matcha, sadly, therefore in addition I had to add some natural green food colouring to compensate. If you would prefer to leave that out though, you can, as it is simply there for aesthetic purposes. 

Raspberry, White  Chocolate  and   Green  Tea  Magic  Cake

 
Makes enough to fill an 2lb loaf tin. 


Ingredients:


For the magic cake:
4 good quality green tea bags
500ml (17 fl oz) milk 
4 eggs, separated
150 g (3/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
1 tbsp water
125 g (1 stick) butter
100 g (3/4 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
pinch of salt
150g frozen raspberries

For the white chocolate ganache:
150g (1 cup) white chocolate
70ml (2 1/4 fl oz) double (whipping) cream 

For the topping:
85g (2/3 cup) frozen raspberries

Method


Place the teabags to infuse with the milk in a small metal saucepan and heat until it reaches simmering point. Remove from the heat and leave for 10 minutes. Squeeze out excess from the bags and leave to cool completely before incorporating. 

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2. Grease, line the base and sides of the loaf tin with parchment paper. 

Separate the eggs, leaving the whites for later. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and water until the mixture whitens. Melt the butter and pour it into the mixture. Then add the flour, salt and beat for a few minutes more. Add the cooled, infused milk bit by bit, whisking constantly.

Beat the egg whites until stiff in a separate bowl and, using a whisk, gently incorporate them into the wet batter. There will be some lumps remaining. 

Arrange the raspberries in the bottom of the greased loaf tin and pour the batter on top. The raspberries will rise into the middle of the cake during baking. Smooth the surface of the batter with the blade of a knife and bake in the oven for 50 minutes. When the cake comes out of the oven it will wobble slightly.

Before turning it out, leave it to set in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. 

To make the white chocolate ganache, melt the chocolate, then away from the heat, pour in the cream. Whisk until well combined, smooth and thick. Chill in the fridge for about 1 hour. The ganache may set too hard, if so, remove from the fridge and leave at room temperature when it looks thick enough to spread over the cake without dripping down the sides. 

To rectify an almost solid set ganache, simmer some water in a pan and hold the bowl of ganache over the simmering pan without it touching the water. Keep stirring until the ganache starts to loosen. At this point quickly remove from the heat and keep beating, the initial heat from the bowl will continue to melt it slightly. 

Once the cake has chilled, turn it out from the tin and remove the parchment paper. Place onto a serving board. Smooth over the ganache. Decorate with more raspberries by defrosting them in the microwave until they are soft and have started to create juices, then spoon over with the natural coulis. 

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