Monday, 17 October 2011

Sticky Gingerbread with Pears

Sticky and Cakey
I finally remembered to get some treacle to make gingerbread. Hooray! I decided I wanted to make some gingerbread as I had a bag of pears that were ripening faster than I could eat them. My Grandma used to make a delicious trifle with Jamaican gingerbread, tinned pears, custard and cream. It was all store cupboard ingredients but it was delicious, and so the pear- gingerbread combination is one which will always remind me of her. Next time, I'll up the ginger, (it wasn't quite gingery enough- when I have something ginger flavoured, I like it to be really strong, and I will get around to brewing some ginger beer- crabbies was a disappointment), but in all honesty, it was delicious as it was. 
8 oz plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 oz butter
4 oz golden syrup
4 oz black treacle
2 oz soft dark brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
4 fl oz milk
1 oz mix candied & fresh ginger
2-3 ripe pears, peeled and sliced
- preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and line am 8 inch square tin with baking paper
- sift the dry ingredients in to a large bowl and set aside
-put the butter, syrup, treacle and sugar in a heatproof bowl of a pan of boiling water and leave to melt. Stir occasionally and when al combined and smooth, allow to cool slightly
- add the beaten eggs to the milk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the melted stuff followed by the milk and eggs. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Arrange the sliced pears on top.
-pour in to the prepared tin and bake for around an hour.
-once a skewer comes out clean, leave to cool in the tin for 5 mins then on a wire rack until cold. Slice and enjoy with a cup of tea!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Fortress Cake

It's basically just chocolate
It's a fortress because of its height: layers of cake, raspberries and chocolate ganache icing with an extra layer of fool for fun. It would have been two layers higher had it not been for the fact I had to transport it to my friend's for her birthday! The cake itself is a brownie-sponge cross. I used techniques and measurements from both types of bake to come up with a very chocolatey, rich sponge. A reason for this is that I'm usually a little disappointed with chocolate cakes as they never really deliver a chocolate hit, and I find that melting chocolate with butter usually does the trick. Coffee also makes it even more chocolatey!  I made the cake in 3 tins and sliced them open.

not the prettiest, but pretty tasty

240g butter
200g 74/70% chocolate
1 tsp of instant coffee made up with 2tblsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
40g soft dark brown sugar
240g self raising flour
1 tsp baking  powder
20g cocoa

150g raspberries 
300 ml double cream
200g icing sugar
150g dark chocolate

-preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and grease and line 3 8" round cake tins.
- bring a few inches of water to boil in a pan. Chop up the butter and chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl. Add in the coffee and vanilla. Once boiling, place the heat proof bowl over the top and turn off the heat.
- beat the eggs and the sugar together until light and doubled in size.
-sift together all the dry ingredients. 
- give the chocolate mixture a stir- if it hasn't melted, bring the water back to the boil, then turn off the heat. Once the mix has melted and cooled, slowly pour the chocolate in to the eggs and sugar whilst beating. Once thoroughly combined, sift the dry ingredients over the top and gently fold in using a large metal spoon. Do this until just combined. Pour equal quantities in to the tins, level out and bake for 20-25 mins, switching the tins around after 15 mins. 
-when baked, remove from the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack.

- melt the chocolate for the icing over a bowl of hot water. Add in the cream and mix together. Leave to cool. Sift in enough icing sugar to thicken so that it will hold the cakes together.

-slice the cake in half horizontally and spread some icing on the one of tops. Put some raspberries on and add another cake. Continue until you get to the last cake ( the recipe will make 6 layers, I only did four for the actual cake. It was lucky as one broke, so I had a spare. The other one is in the freezer for cake emergencies!). Spread the remaining icing on top and then decorate with some more raspberries.
I had some raspberry fool left over from this recipe so used it as one of the layers. Next time I make the cake I think that I would just make a load of fool and use it instead of the ganache, as the sharpness was excellent against the dense cake. 

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Foolish Almond and Raspberry Cupcakes

Almond and Raspberry Fool Cupcakes
I wanted to make a cake to take along to a friend's birthday and decided that wee cakes would be the easiest to transport. I wanted to do something a little more special than just a normal sponge with butter cream, and I also wanted to make it a little like a victoria sponge with jam and cream. So! I funnelled out a bit of the middle a filled it with a fool made with fresh raspberries and raspberry jam. TASTY! The sponge and icing are both almond flavoured because 1. that's one of my favourites and 2. almond and raspberry match well.
3 eggs
6 oz butter
6 oz caster sugar
6 oz self raising flour
a few drops of almond extract

small pot of double cream
150g fresh raspberries
2 tblsp raspberry jam

125 g very soft butter
300 g icing sugar
dash of milk
red food colouring

-heat the oven to gas 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with papers
- place the butter in a microwaveable bowl and heat on the lowest setting for 10 second bursts. You want it to be as soft as whipped cream, but not melted. Add the sugar and cream together and beat until light and fluffy.
-add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add in a few drops of almond extract.
- sift in the flour and mix until just incorporated. 
-  spoon in 3 tablespoons of mixture to each case. Bake for 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
- once baked, remove from the tin and leave to cool on wire racks.

To make the fool, lightly whip the cream and add in the jam and a handful of chopped raspberries. Mix gently.

To make the butter cream, beat the butter and add in half the icing sugar. Add in a few drops of extract, mix carefully, then add the rest of the sugar. Add enough milk to make it a bit smoother and lighter. Drop in a few drips of colouring and give it a few turns- if you mix it properly it will just be pink and not swirly.

- once cool, use a potato peeler with an apple corer to funnel out space for the fool from the cakes. Pipe in enough fool to fill (hard to say). Then pipe on the icing. Top with a raspberry. TADA!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Salty Peanut Tiffin

Heart Attack in a convenient Bite Sized Mouthful
You know how there are some things in life that you can't comprehend? I don't understand how some people don't like eating savoury, salty snacks at the same time as a mouthful of chocolate. One of my favourite treats is a square of dairy milk sandwiched between a few ready salted crisps. NOM NOM NOM! So, having a craving for some salty chocolaty deliciousness, and considering you can't get pretzel flipz any more and I didn't have any walkers in the house I made some peanut refrigerator cake. There really is no need for a recipe for this, it's just what you have in the cupboard, melted together. Genius.
I melted a few bars of dark chocolate with a tablespoon of golden syrup and added around 10 broken rich tea biscuits, the remnants of a pack of coco pops, a handful of raisins and a big handful of salted roasted peanuts. Squashed it all in to a lined brownie tin and then poured on some melted milk chocolate. Stick it in the fridge and an hour later you have a slab of salty tea accompaniments to hand for as long as they remain uneaten! I always try to not add any 'fresh' ingredients like butter a it would limit the shelf life of the finished cake. 
Always there when you fancy a pick me up

Banana and Toffee Cupcakes

Bannoffi cakes
Banana sponge with toffee buttercream. YUM! To counteract the sweetness of the icing, I made some quite bitter caramel shards to decorate them. The sponge is a classic 3 egg Victoria with a few mashed up super ripe bananas. I would usually fill the cases up a little higher so that there is a better cake-icing ratio (I can't stand it when there is more icing than cake on a cup cake), but I fancied making a couple of chocolate banana mini loaves. I made my own toffee/caramel sauce for the icing in a very slapdash taste-it-and-see way. You could also use an actual recipe or the stuff that comes in a tin. I just had a few left over bits and pieces. This recipe makes 12.
3 eggs. Weigh them in their shells and then use that weight for the self raising flour, butter and caster sugar.
2 very ripe bananas 
125g very soft butter
300g icing sugar
tsp milk
a few tablespoons of toffee sauce (I used a few tablespoons of sugar, a large knob of butter and a tablespoon of double cream boiled together and cooled)

- heat the oven to gas 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cases
-cream together the butter and sugar
-add in two of the eggs. If it looks a little curdled, add in a little of the flour
-mash the bananas with a fork and mix in the 3rd egg. Add this to the mix and whisk.
- add the flour and mix to a smooth batter. Distribute evenly in the cases and bake for 20 minutes. 
Chocolate banana mini loaves
At this point I had a little batter left over and added 2 big tablespoons of cocoa powder and some chopped up chocolate and made these. Two wee loaves in my under used mini loaf tin.

When cooked, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 
To make the icing, beat the butter with half the icing sugar until well incorporated. Add in the rest of the sugar and the milk and beat well. Add the (cooled if just made) caramel and mix in. Decorate!

I made the shards of caramel by cooking some sugar with a dash of water in a frying pan until it turned a dark brown, then quickly tipped it on to some greaseproof paper until cold. I think it would have worked better if I smashed it up in to tiny crystals. NEXT TIME!
oodles of sugar

Apple Blackberry and Ginger Strudel

Super Seasonal Strudel
On Sunday we had a big roast, hooray! We wanted some dessert that wasn't too heavy but full of flavour. Having assessed that cox apples and brambles were in season, and an excellent match to boot, I made a strudel. I found a recipe for a pear and ginger one, so added a little of that spice in to the mix. I picked up the candied stuff whilst on holiday, so I'm not sure where to get it from here, so stem would be fine. Tasty! It takes minutes to throw together, and really delivers on taste. Perfect with a dollop of cream.
750g cox apples
150g blackberries
50g granulated sugar
20g dark brown sugar
60g melted butter
20g candied ginger (or 40g of stem)
6 sheets of filo pastry
handful of flaked almonds
icing sugar to dust

- heat the oven to gas 6 and line a baking sheet with baking paper. 
- peel and core the apples and chop in to 1cm dice. Put half the butter in to a frying pan on a gentle heat. Tip in the apples and a the sugar and cook until they begin to soften. Transfer in to a bowl and cool for a few minutes. Add the ginger and the blackberries and stir gently.
- Place two sheets of filo on to the baking sheet and brush with a little of the butter. Spoon the filling down the long side. Fold the sides up and over the filling. Place another sheet on top and tuck under the sides. Repeat this, brushing with butter after each sheet. (Alternatively, place all sheets on the baking sheet, add the filling to one end, fold over the edges and roll).
- Brush with the last of the butter and sprinkle on the almonds.
-Bake for 20 minutes. Dust with the icing sugar and serve with some cream.