Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Blueberry and Lemon Gateaux

light and creamy
I've been busy for a week or so, so haven't got around to doing very much baking recently. I did make a tasty yet terrible looking unmarbled-marbled chocolate torte. It looked awful! I made this gateaux at my Monday night baking class. At first it didn't look as though it would turn out that well, but it ended up looking pretty good- and tasting yummy. It's a whisked/genoese sponge. It's iced with French butter cream (made with egg yolks and sugar syrup)- super light and creamy.
This will make a four layered gateaux filled with jam and blueberries, iced with lemon butter cream and finished with toasted almonds and dark chocolate. YUM!

6 large eggs
185g caster sugar
185g plain flour
30g butter, melted and cooled

a small amount of plain sugar syrup for brushing

a punnet of blueberries
a few tablespoons of dark jam (I used blackberry)

3 large egg yolks
300g soft-ish unsalted butter
100ml water
150g sugar
zest of one lemon and the juice of half

flaked almonds, grated/shaved dark chocolate
-Heat the oven to 180/gas mark 4
- butter and flour 3 8 inch round tins and then line each with a circle of baking paper.
- boil some water in a pan and place a large heat proof bowl over the top without allowing the bowl to touch the water. Remove the bowl, add the eggs and sugar, then replace on to the pan of water and whisk on high. Continue to whisk until the mixture has doubled in size (around 10 mins). Remove from the heat and continue to whisk for 1 minute.
- sift the flour over the top of the mixture and gently fold in with a spatula or with a large whisk. Ad the melted butter and fold in
- distribute the mixture between the three tins and then smack them on the counter to get rid of big bubbles.  bake for around 25 mins- it should be lightly golden and should shrink away from the sides.
- once cooked, cool in the tins then slice each of the cake in half. You only really need 4 halves- there's an extra cake in
case one breaks, or if you want a massive gateaux. or another wee one.

- For the icing!
-put the yolks in to a bowl (a free standing mixer bowl if possible) and start to whisk them. 
-put the water and sugar in to a small pan and heat on low until the sugar has dissolved. Once dissolved, heat on high until the syrup reaches 110 C on a thermometer. Continue to whisk the yolks on high speed until creamy. Once the syrup has reached 116 C, remove from the heat and carefully pour in to the yolks, avoiding the whisk. Continue to whisk on high until cold
- once the bowl is cold, turn the speed to medium and then gradually add the butter until it's all in there. Mix in the zest and the juice. Tada! Super light, not overly sweet lemony butter icing.

- Brush some sugar syrup on the layers to moisten. Spread jam and blueberries in between the layers then cover the top and the sides with butter cream. Jazz it up with some piping round the edges, put some flaked almonds around the sides and pile some chocolate on top, or decorate it any which way you fancy.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Spiced Gingery Snappy Biscuits

I've never been very good at biscuits
I've never been very good at making biscuits. I've only really ever attempted them a handful of times, but they always end up either too floppy, or you can taste the floury/doughy yuckiness of undercooked baked goods. Or they burn. or the recipe was plain just tasteless ('cinnamon treats' were not the treat they had promised). This one, however I think worked out pretty well! They were supposed to snap- and they do. Crunchy, tasty, spicy sweet biscuits that were simple to make. I adapted the recipe from the Marks and Spencer's christmas book 2009.

225g plain flour
165g dark soft brown sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 clove, smashed pretty finely
150g butter, chopped
1 egg yolk

-  Put everything except the yolk in to a food processor and blitz until crumbly. Add the yolk and pulse until combined.
- tip out on to a clean surface and bring together until a solid dough is formed (mine was really dry so took a while- be persistent). Once fully combined, knead until smooth: not for too long. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 mins.
- Cut in half and place one half on a sheet of foil or baking paper. Place another sheet on top and roll to a thickness of about 3mm. Repeat with the other half, then put both in the fridge for another 30.
- heat the oven to gas 4/180C. Line 2 baking sheets. Cut out shapes from the dough (I got around 24 by using a 6 cm plain cutter, but you could also use a ginger bread man or any other shape). Bake for 11 minutes then leave to cool on the trays.

Salty Chocolate Truffle Torte

Deep and rich and rummy with salty peanut pastry
I was invited to dinner and scrabble at a friend's, so I said that I would bring round some dessert. I wanted to make use of my cute little loose bottom mini tart tins, and thought, salty pastry with rich chocolatey filling? YES PLEASE! I've made variations of this tart before, using almonds and cocoa in the pastry, bourbon in the filling, different amounts of salt, blah blah. This time I thought I'd make use of some pub quiz winnings rum and some ground up peanuts in the base. The result? rich, deep chocolatey smoothness with a warming heat from the rum and a salty crumbly finish.

65g plain flour
15g icing sugar
40g butter
30g finely ground up roasted salted peanuts
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten (you will need nearly all of it)
pinch of salt

150ml double cream
15g golden syrup
25g dark soft brown sugar
175g dark chocolate (75% or so) broken in to small pieces
35g butter, chopped
30 ml dark rum

-Preheat the oven to gas 3/170, lightly grease 4 little tart tins with loose bottoms. Make the pastry. Put the flour, icing sugar and butter in to a bowl and rub in until it's breadcrumb like. Stir in the nuts and mix in some yolk to bind. Mix in a little iced water until it becomes a dough- not too much though. Wrap in cling film and freeze for 10 minutes or so.
-Roll out the pastry quite thinly and line the tins. Place a little foil or baking paper over the top and pour in some baking beans. Bake for 15 mins. Remove the baking beans and then bake for 10 mins more. Leave to cool.
- Heat the cream until it boils. Remove from the heat and add the sugar and syrup until dissolved. Add the chocolate and butter and stir until melted. Add the rum and stir. Leave it to cool for a little bit, then beat to emulsify. Pour in to the cases and leave to set.
- for extra heart attack inducing fun, sprinkle with a little extra sea salt before serving.

The pastry was a little thick, but that's not such a bad thing when you have all that filling to contend with

Friday, 4 November 2011

Almond and Orange Blossom Friands

Three's a charm
I wanted to do some simple baking today, and of course craved something chewy and sticky that only a good measure of ground almonds can cater for- so I made a batch of friands. I don't have a proper tin, so I just used a plain old 12 hole muffin one and I think they turned out ok- perhaps a little singed, but that's because I have a gas oven (basically a box of fire) so that often happens to the back lot. 
The tins get greased with melted butter which helps to create a crisp and chewy crust, whilst the cake is light with a moist chewy texture from the almonds. Lovely with a cup of tea.
180g unsalted butter, melted
6 medium egg whites
225g icing sugar
75g plain flour
125g ground almonds
zest of a lemon
1 tablespoon orange blossom water 
icing sugar to dust

-Set the oven to gas mark 6/ 200C and place a baking tray on the top shelf (large enough to put the muffin/friand tray on to)
-use a pastry brush to brush some of the melted butter in to each hole of a 12 hole muffin/friand tin and set the rest of the butter aside to cool.
- lightly hand whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until they are frothy. Not peaky, just frothy. Sift the icing sugar and flour over the top of the whites, the sprinkle over the almonds and zest. By sifting and sprinkling you should incorporate some air and not let any of the dry mix sink to the bottom of the whites. Gently pour over the melted butter.
- fold these in with the whisk by simultaneously turning the whisk and turning the bowl (or do it with a big metal spoon)until it's a smooth batter. Add the blossom water and mix. 
-Fill the holes nearly to the top. leaving a wee gap. Bake for 20 minutes, checking after 18. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes before running a knife around the edges and flipping them on to a rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar and enjoy!

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