Sorry i have been absent for a while. I have moved house to a new city and started a new job… so things have been busy! Also it was my birthday. So i thought i would share my Birthday cake my Mum made.
My Mum used a tried and tested recipe for success from Mrs Beeton, her chocolate cake sponge. It was so light and yummy! On the top she iced and decorated with chocolate eggs which spelt out my name.
I wanted to make a nice simple afternoon cake, so i decided to go for a fresh and light tasting apple cake, using Greek yoghurt to add to the lightness of the sponge, a perfect accompaniment for Mothering Sunday.
What You Need:
3 Large Granny Smith Apples peeled and chopped into cubes, 25ml Apricot Brandy, 300g Greek yoghurt (I used Total), 4 eggs, 1 and a quarter teasp of baking powder, 225g caster sugar, 400g plain flour, 125ml olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 180c.
First add the eggs and sugar to a bowl and whisk until combined, then add in the yoghurt, brandy and oil until you have a lovely runny batter. To the mixture then add the sieved flour and baking powder, mixing to form a thick luscious cake mixture. Finally fold in the the chopped apple, place in a greased 9” cake tin and bake in the oven for 50 minutes. When done leave to cool, i drizzled over some left over cream cheese frosting.
Today is my dad’s birthday, so i decided to try out another cake recipe in The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. All the recipes look delicious but the blueberry cake really caught my eye and I had never used a bundt pan before.
The recipe was really easy to follow, and it produces a big cake! 6 eggs are used in total and the shiny purple blueberries drift around the cake bursting and soaking the light sponge. To decorate it is dripped in cream cheese frosting, blueberries and lightly dusted with icing sugar.
What You Need: 350 g unsalted butter, 350 g caster sugar, 6 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 450g plain flour, 2 tbsp & 2 tsp baking powder, 280 ml soured cream, 250 g fresh blueberries, plus extra to dust.
Cream cheese frosting: 300 g icing sugar, sifted, 50 g unsalted butter, 125 g cream cheese
Preheat the oven to 170°C .
Grease and dust a 25 cm ring mould. Mix sugar and butter and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time while mixing well, be sure to scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla extract, flour and baking powder until well mixed. Add the soured cream and mix well until everything is combined and the mixture is light and fluffy. Gently stir in the blueberries by hand until evenly dispersed. Pour the mixture into the ring mould and smooth over with a palette knife or a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, until golden brown. Leave the cake to cool slightly in the mould before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. When the cake is cold, cover the top and sides with Cream Cheese Frosting and decorate with more blueberries. Yum (^-^)
Sorry it has taken me awhile to get back to my personal challenge of the French macaroon. I bought all my ingredients and left them at work in the staff room, only to realise I had one weeks holiday and had to wait to go back and get the ingredients. However, as I waited I have been looking at many different macaroon recipes in the hopes that I would be able to perfect the previous disaster when making these French biscuits, and I have eventually got something to be proud of rather than a sticky runny mess (^-^)
I followed the same recipe as the French video I found last time (see it here), but with a few changes to make sure nothing went wrong this time.
This time I used a thick gel food colouring, which does not turn to liquid, keeping the mixture at the right consistancy. This colouring was more expensive than the usual kind but you can see better results. The second thing i also did to improve the recipe was to use an Italian meringue method instead of the quick simple way. This helped keep a thicker texture. I am really happy with my result and Its made me confident in tackling macaroons in the future. These ones have chocolate frosting. Yum (^-^)
Today before work i decided to do a little bread baking. Not sure where this sudden energy came from, but maybe I was paying for later whilst I was cycling to work. I also have a new obsession for rosemary and this bread smells so lovely!
What You Need:
250g White Bread Flour, 7g Dried Yeast, 7 sun dried tomatoes chopped, 50g parmesan cheese, 7 sprigs of rosemary, 200ml of warm water.
Preheat the oven to 230C.
Mix the flour, yeast and water in a bowl with a spoon to form a ball. Leave for 5 minutes to rest. Then take the dough to a floured surface and kneed for around 10-15 minutes until smooth. With the ball of dough roll out into a long rectangle shape. Sprinkle all the ingredients evenly over the dough, as if you are putting the toppings on a pizza. Then roll the dough up into a large sausage shape. Cut the sausage into six and arrange in a greased loaf tin, with the inside swirl facing up. Cover and leave in a warm place to prove for 40 minutes. Pop into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Once done cool and then eat! (^-^)
Since watching Gone with The Wind and reading Cold Mountain for the first time last year the American South has become an intriguing obsession, especially when it comes to food. I have never been to the south but the romantic descriptions of sweet tea, salt pork, red eye gravy and fried chicken skins makes my mouth water. So today i decided to bake something I have never tried or made before, Pecan Pie. First of all finding dark corn syrup in rainy Cambridge was my first mission, which i failed and had to settle for golden syrup, corn syrup can only be bought in the UK online or in specialist stores. I used a mixture of different recipes I have picked up and tried to create my own… which turned out not so bad. (^-^)
What You Need:
Pastry: 1 egg, 175g butter, 250g plain flour, 20g caster sugar, 1 tbsp water
Filling: 100g pecans, 50g butter, 3 large eggs, grind of salt, 250ml golden syrup, 25ml apricot brandy, 200g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 180c.
In a mixing bowl sieve the flour and rub in the butter to create bread crumbs, then stir in the sugar. Add the egg and water and combine with a round edged knife in cutting motions. Once into a ball, kneed lightly on a floured surface and refrigerate for 10mins. Then roll out the pastry to fit the case and refrigerate for a further 20mins.
For the filling, add the syrup, sugar and salt to a pan and melt down and boil. Set aside. Whisk three eggs in a heatproof bowl and pour in the slightly cooled mixture. Over a tray of boiling water place the bowl of mixture into the bath and stir vigourously making sure it is combined well, then adding the butter and brandy. Place the chopped pecans into the refrigerated pastry case and pour over the warm mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 45 mins or until dark brown. Then serve.
This month i decided to go for the home of fantastic dessert and Patisseries, France. Tarte Tatin is a sweet, simple and rustic style apple tart which is made upside down in a frying pan and then baked in the oven. This is also an unusual dish as in France hot desserts are rare, and this one comes with a fantastic story. The origins of this tart are that two sisters made the dish by mistake by cooking apples for an apple pie for too long in a pan, quick thinking led to adding a pastry top to the pan and then baking it in the oven, the results a sticky chewy caramel, accompanied by oval shaped apples and a thin crisp pastry base. The French version of such a classic dish is so unique in flavour and look, that it’s defintaly an all time favorite.
What You Need:
Pastry: 2 egg yolks, 150g plain flour, 25g sugar, 100g butter
Filling: 5 eating apples, peels and cored (granny smith), 50g Butter, 100g sugar
Combine the flour and butter, to form bread crumbs and then add the sugar. Mix in the egg yolks with a knife and combine the ingredients until it forms a dough. Lightly need and the refrigerate for 20mins.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
In a nonstick frying pan with a metal handle, add the sugar and butter and heat on med/low until a nice yellow syrup has formed. Add the apples curve-side down and heat for 15mins, until they are golden brown and the syrup has turned to a brown sticky caramel. Take the chilled pasty and roll out to fit the pan, place the pastry on top of the apple mixture and fold excess down the sides of the pan. Place in the oven for 20mins on 200C and then a further 20mins on 150c. Turn out onto a try or large plate and eat warm.
This month I decided to try the famous cupcake bakery which is in London and New York. The book is a joy to look at with delicious pictures and easy to follow instructions. I wanted to try the Key Lime Pie, as this is something I have never tried before and is not a popular treat in the UK, but is a traditional american dessert, naked after the Florida grown lime .also i had loads of limes left over from christmas (^-^) . I suppose a key lime pie is a cross between a cheesecake and a lemon meringue pie.
The natural green filing and the crunchy biscuit crust really compliment well, topped with fluffy meringue, or cream . I will definitely try this again as it is so easy to make, does not take much time and I think will suit well for summer BBQs and parties. The book helped me perfect my biscuit crust skill which before was hit and miss. You can find the book in all good bookstores, i got mine for christmas. Yum .
Happy New Year and into a new decade we go. What a better way to celebrate than a big ball of meatballs with home made tomato sauce, there is nothing more warming and satisfying. The thing about tomato sauce is to season, this is very important as the right balance is essential otherwise tomatoes are very easy to taste bland.
What You Need:
800g Tinned Whole Plum Tomatoes or You own poached Tomatoes, peeled (around 9 tomatoes with juice, roughly chopped), 3 garlic cloves, 1 glass of red wine, 1 glass of chicken stock, 1 large onion, hand full of fresh thyme, 2 tsp of sugar, salt and pepper to season
First slice thinly the garlic and the onions and in a large pan with olive oil sauté until golden brown and soft, once done add the glass of wine and simmer for around 5 minutes, then add the sugar and a pinch of salt. Mix together until the sugar starts to thicken. Then add the tomatoes and stir. Simmer the mixture for a further 5 minutes and then stir in the chicken stock followed by a grind of pepper and salt. Bring the sauce to the boil and let it bubble for 5 minutes. Turn down the heat and simmer for 2 hours adding the thyme leaves. After set the sauce aside and let it cool at room temperature to capture all the flavours.
To serve pour the sauce over meatballs or roasted vegetables and grated cheese and bake in the oven for 20mins, eat with spaghetti or a light spinach salad.
So here is what i made with my mincemeat filling from before. What a perfect traditional christmas treat. Especially served hot with brandy butter and a glass of baileys. Simply follow my mincemeat recipe, incase in any pastry type of your choice, glaze with a beaten egg, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10-12 mins on 180C, eat warm or cold. Good for freezing and using when you want, or even leave a few out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.