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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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Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Spiced Pears with Honey, Nuts, Granola and Yoghurt


Sometimes it's good not to over complicate a recipe, avoiding the label of being too 'pretentious' or 'over the top'. Just put simple, delicious ingredients together which classically work well. It's what I've tried to do here with these perfectly ripe pears, pairing them with the breakfast items of honey, pistachios, walnuts, granola pieces and natural yoghurt.


I wouldn't even really call this a recipe, there's hardly any effort or cooking involved, it's merely an idea of a wonderful way to start the day...something I enjoy assembling together (when I have that luxury of a bit more time at breakfast.)


The recipe is enough for 1 person so double or triple the quantities for how many you want. It's really just a guide of quantities, I know that I certainly don't want to be fussing around in the morning with measuring spoons or scales, that's why I've said it's a guide...nothing's for definite here. You may want to top it with other extras too such as sunflower seeds which I was going to use (but forgot!) and sultanas or flaked almonds, oh and the honey can be subbed for maple or agave syrup. 



Spiced  Pears  with  Honey,  Nuts,  Granola  and  Yoghurt


Ingredients:

1 serving


20g butter
2 pears, ripened
⅛ tsp ground ginger
⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey + extra for drizzling
3 tsp natural yoghurt
1 tbsp pistachios, chopped
1 tbsp walnuts, chopped
2 tbsp granola clusters 


Method


Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat whilst slicing the pears into fairly thin pieces, keeping its natural shape, discarding the stalk and core. Add the ginger, cinnamon and vanilla to the melted butter and stir together. Place the pear slices flat face down. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on one side, drizzle over the 2 tbsp honey and then turn the pears over. Cook for another 2 minutes. 

Once cooked, place the pears onto the plate. Spoon over the yoghurt and sprinkle the nuts and granola clusters on top. Drizzle more honey if desired. 
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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Pandiramerino (a.k.a Rosemary and Raisin Buns)


It's been a good while since I've made a bread recipe on here, mainly because they just take that little bit more time to muster up between proving, and with uni life, well, it can 'prove' rather tricky to fit in with studying (yes, the word play was intended there.) However, with semester two not commencing till February (yeah, it does seem a long break with Christmas as well) but I'm not gonna complain cuz it means I now get to do this.... make bread again! Wooooo. 



There was no real explanation why I made this bread in particular, other than I saw it in Emiko Davies' book, 'Florentine' and thought they looked beautiful with their glistening, glossy sugar syrup glaze and criss cross tops.



Apparently, the name pandiramerino actually translates as 'rosemary bread' and they were originally made by countryside peasants for Giovedi’ Santo, the Thursday before Easter. Perhaps, the Italians nod to our hot cross buns, just sayin'...historically it's probably not true. They can be made with either sultanas or raisins, with the plump, naturally sweet fruits giving a hit to contrast with the quite neutral, savoury flavour from the rosemary. 

You can find the Florentians devouring these little buns in bakeries for breakfast with their morning coffee. It's this picturesque, rather romantic notion which drew me to the idea of first making them. So whilst I sit in my Birmingham uni flat, eating them warm straight from the oven, (disappointedly with just a bog-standard cup of tea may I add), it transports me to the warm, cultured Tuscan city. A bit dramatic I know, but when a food has a story, or background behind it, it somehow makes it taste even better. 



Pandiramerino / Rosemary  and  Raisin  Buns


Recipe adpated slightly from Emiko Davies


Makes 8 buns


Ingredients

7g (2 tsp) active dry yeast
1 tbsp caster sugar
180ml (3/4 cup or 6 fluid oz) lukewarm water
300g (2 cups) plain flour, sifted
70g (1/2 cup) sultanas or raisins
3 rosemary sprigs, chopped
60ml (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
A pinch of salt
55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar

Method


Mix the yeast, sugar and lukewarm water in a jug and leave it to sit for about 10 minutes, till all dissolved. Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl and pour over the water yeast mixture. Stir together with a spoon at first and then use your hands to bring it to form a firm dough ball. Place into a lightly greased bowl and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, away from draughts and covered with a damp tea towel or cling film (plastic wrap). 

Meanwhile, place the sultanas or raisins, chopped rosemary and oil in a small bowl and stir together, Leave it to infuse whilst the dough is rising. 

Once the dough has risen for about 1 hour, remove from the bowl and knead in the oil, rosemary and raisin mixture, along with a pinch of salt. The dough will be quite oily and sticky. Split the dough equally into 8 portions, weighing about 70-80g each. Shape each portion into a round ball and place onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper, well spaced apart. Cover the tray loosely with a damp tea towel and leave to rise again in a warm place for another 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F/ gas 6. 

Brush the tops of the bun lightly with some olive oil and make a criss cross slash across each one like a hashtag symbol using a razor or very sharp knife. Leave them to rest in a warm place for a final 10-15 minutes. 

Place into the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes until golden. Meanwhile, to make a sugar syrup glaze, place the 55g of caster sugar into a small saucepan with 2 tbsp of water and heat till dissolved. Bring it to the boil and once the buns are cooked, brush them straight away with the hot sugar syrup. 

Like most breads, these are best eaten the day they are made.

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Monday, 2 January 2017

Cranberry and White Chocolate Bundt Cake


It's got to that time of year again, when I can't face another cheese board and reached that chocolate overload limit. But of course, there's nothing wrong with a bit of cake and I thought this would be the best way to use up those leftover cranberries which have been hanging out in my fridge for the past week now from Christmas day (I just couldn't throw them away!!) as well as putting to good use those obligatory christmas nuts which nobody ate. 



I also happened to have some dried cranberries which must have been from last year's christmas which I used to decorate the top with. Ah well, they tasted fine to me so why not! I chucked all of the fresh ones into the cake itself, forgetting that I was going to sugar coat some for decoration. You could still do that if you fancied but I found that dried ones on top worked really well for supplying another texture and they wouldn't bleed juices into the white chocolate. 



On another note, being a new year n' all that, I'd like to wish all my readers a happy, joyful and exciting new year for 2017, full of great, delicious food too of course. Oh and let's celebrate with this cake... hehe!



Cranberry  and  White  Chocolate  Bundt  Cake


Makes enough for one large bundt shaped tin (2 litres)


Ingredients


Vegetable oil or cake release spray for greasing
200 g (1 cup)  butter (room temperature)
100 g (½ cup) caster sugar
100g (½ cup) soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 eggs (room temperature)
350 g (2 + 1⁄4 cup) plain flour (all-purpose flour) + extra for dusting
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
25 g (2 tbsp) cornstarch (corn flour)
1 pinch of salt
150g (3/5 cups)  natural plain yoghurt
150 g (1 + 1⁄4 cup) fresh cranberries

For the top:
130g ( ¾ cup) white chocolate, melted
20g (1⁄4 cup) dried cranberries
10g (2 tbsp) pistachios, chopped finely

Method


Preheat the oven to 170°C/ 325°F/ gas 3. Grease the bundt tin with vegetable oil or cake release spray. Then sieve a little flour in the tin to coat the insides of the tin, tap off excess. Cream the butter, both sugars and vanilla extract until smooth and fluffy, Beat in the eggs.

Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cornstarch and salt in a separate bowl and then fold into the creamed batter. Fold in the yoghurt and fresh cranberries kept whole. Spoon into the prepared tin and level out. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. 

Once baked, take straight out of the oven and place onto a damp tea towel. This helps to release it from the tin. Leave to cool in its tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To finish, pour over the white chocolate, using a spoon to drizzle in an attractive manner so it drips down the sides. Scatter over the dried cranberries and chopped pistachios. Leave the chocolate to set before cutting. Store in an airtight container. 




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