Thursday, 20 December 2012

Guglehupf (Fruit bread)

A wee dusting of Christmas snow.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I hosted a Christmas dinner/day for my friends. I knew that having a big, heavy, sweet pudding would probably be a waste as there would be lots of food, drinks and treats anyway. I opted instead for a Guglehupf. It's basically a cakey bread that has to be baked in a ring mould/bundt tin. I was flicking through my Food of Germany book, and this recipe was in the Christmas section for the section on Bavaria. It's made with yeast so that's where it gets some of its flavour from. I loaded in more sultanas than the recipe suggested and was going to add saffron - but forgot. Next time! Again, a very easy recipe - I just threw everything in at once and it turned out great! The dough is very wet, so it would be good if you had a dough scraper to aid the kneading process. It's nice and light, so perfect for a snack when you don't fancy a cloyingly sweet treat from the Quality Street tin.

Ingredients:

500g plain flour
60g sugar
pinch of salt
7g active dried yeast
250ml lukewarm milk
60g very soft butter, in pieces/lumps
2 eggs
250g sultanas/mixed dried fruit


Method:
- sift the flour, sugar and salt in to a warmed bowl. Add the yeast, eggs and the butter and then pour over the warm milk. 
- beat with a wooden spoon until properly incorporated. It will be very sticky.
- cover wit clingfilm and a tea towel and leave in a warm spot to double in size.

- once risen and looking a bit spider-web like and spongy when you give the edge a poke and a lift, tip on to a floured work surface and lightly knead. This will be tricky as it's very wet. It's handy if you have a dough scraper handy.
- gradually work in the dried fruit. 
- grease a bundt tin with some butter. Make the dough in to a sort of thick sausage shape and rest it in the tin. Leave to rise for another 20 minutes whilst the oven heats up.
- heat the oven to gas mark 5/ 200C. Bake for 30-40 minutes, checking after 30. Test with a knife or skewer.
-Turn out and cool on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar and enjoy on it's own or slathered in butter.
it's sort of like German panetone






Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Lebkuchen

Chocolate-dipped, crunchy-chewy domes of Christmas spice.

It's that time of year again! It's nearly Christmas, hooray! For a long time now it's been a tradition of mine to have a 'fake' Christmas day - the works: get up early, presents, a tree, the dinner, lots of films, cheese, mulled wine and falling asleep on the sofa at the appropriate time of 8.30 pm. This year I found my self in Berlin and so though that I would give all my lovely ladies a fake Christmas day. A table filled with nibbles in the day and a roast for eleven at night...
So I had the task of thinking of some lovely baked goods - lebkuchen, of course! Lovely gingery spiced biscuit-cakes that pop up everywhere at Cristmastime in Germany and date back as far as the 1200s. They are sweetened naturally with a lot of honey, so take care they don't catch in the oven. These are very, very easy to make. These taste better the longer you can leave the dough to rest. 4 hours is ok, but if you have the time, make the mixture the day before you want to eat them!
This recipe is adapted from goodfood.co.uk

Ingredients:

250g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
90g ground almonds
1 tsp lebkuchen spice mix (cinnamon, coriander, pepper, anis, ginger)
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
200ml honey
80g butter
zest of a lemon and an orange

100g dark chocolate

Method:
- sift the dry ingredients in to a large bowl.
- heat the honey and butter together until the butter melts and allow to cool slightly.
- Pour the molten honey on to the four, add the zest and beat well using a wooden spoon until combined. Cover with clingfilm and allow to rest. The dough will be very sticky and wet, but will firm up as it cools.
ready to bake!
- preheat the oven to gas mark 3/ 160C and line a large baking sheet with paper.
- Plonk the dough on to a lightly floured board and knead for a few seconds. Divide in to 30 equal portions (I went a bit overboard to ensure even sized treats. This recipe will make 30 21g biscuits!). Roll in to small balls and then lightly flatten so they have domed tops. Place on the sheet and bake in two batches for 10-12 minutes,
- cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water and dip the bottoms in. Leave to set upside down.
- boil the kettle, stick on the Muppet Christmas Carol and enjoy.


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Hazelnut and Sultana Chelsea Buns

Tasty nutty bread!

I was at the shops the other day and saw a bag of ground hazelnuts for nearly free! I thought 'what a bargain, I'll have some of those!', only to find that it's not hazelnut, but 'hazelnut filling'. Sort of a ready mixed nut/sugar/flavour combo. So then I started to wonder what I could fill with this bag of wonder and remembered that I attempted some nutty Chelsea buns a few weeks ago. They ended up being a bit dry as I didn't have enough fruit or nuts...now I had 250g to use up!

The dough is really just your average bread dough, but enriched with milk and an egg. TASTY! I added in some Christmassy spices. Well, 'tis the season and all.

Ingredients:
400g strong white flour
100g wholemeal/wholegrain flour
1 tsp salt
1 sachet (7g) dried yeast
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground anise
275 ml milk
35g butter
1 egg

1 250g packet hazelnut filling (or mix your own with ground nuts, sugar a little cornflour and some flavourings)
200g sultanas

a little milk with a tsp of vanilla sugar for brushing

Method:
-gently heat the milk and butter in a small pan until the butter melts, then set aside to cool
- sift the flours, spices and and salt in to a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yeast. Pour the milk and butter in to the well, mix a little then add the egg and mix to combine.
- tip on to a floured board and knead for around 5 mins. Place in a clean bowl, cover with cling film and let it prove in a warm area for an hour or until doubled in size.
- heat the oven to gas mark 5. Line the base of a 20cm round loose-bottomed tin with baking paper. Once the dough has doubled, tip out and knock back. Roll in to a large rectangle about 1cm thick. 
- make up the filling by adding 4 tblsp of milk to the nuts and then spread over the dough, leaving 2cm clear at the furthest wide end.
- sprinkle the sultanas all over and then roll it all up in to a fairly tight sausage. Brush the 2cm gap with milk if necessary to stick the edge together. Trim the edges and then slice in to 8 even buns.

- place these in to the prepared tin leaving a little gap between each one.
-Leave to rise for another 20- 30 minutes or so.
- brush with milk and vanilla sugar and bake for 30 minutes - they should sound hollow when tapped. Remove from the tin, leave to cool slightly, then tear and share!


still steamy from the oven. 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Chai Masala Cake with Honey and Ginger Cheesecake Icing

With a sprinkle of ginger on the top.

It's getting rather chilly here now - snow, sleet, visible breath - so I thought it best to have a few folk over for some dinner to warm them (and my flat) up! Curry is my go to main so I baked a chai flavoured cake to go along with it. I made a version of this last year, but it didn't quite work - the icing was all runny and it felt a bit heavy. So this time I went for a Swiss meringue butter cream loaded with cream cheese for a tangy, fluffy and stable icing. Chai + ginger + honey x 4 = tasty cake in your mouth.

Ingredients:
for the chai spice mix
4 cardamom pods, seeds out
- 7 cloves
- 10 black pepper corns
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 1 tblsp ground ginger
- pinch of ground star anise

for the cake
- 240g softened butter
- 240g sugar
- 4 eggs
- 240g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tea bag (I used Yorkshire tea)

for the Swiss meringue cheesecake icing
- 2 egg whites
- 70g sugar
- 200g room temp butter, cubed*
- 150g cream cheese, room temp*
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tblsp honey

*they need to be the same temperature or else one could chill the other = lumpy butter in the icing

Method: - First thing's first: make the spice mix. Heat a dry frying pan on a low heat and add all the whole spices. Keep swirling so they don't burn. Once they smell tasty, they're done. Tip in to a spice grinder/pestle and mortar and add the ground ginger and anise and finely grind.

- preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and line two 20cm round sponge tins with baking paper. Stick on the kettle. Make a nice, strong cup of tea with 1/4tsp of the spice mix and 100ml water. Steep.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale. Add the eggs, one at a time mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add the vanilla.
- Sift on the flour and baking powder and gently stir in, then beat for 10 seconds or so until fully incorporated. Add the rest of the spice mixture and the strong tea (sans bag), and mix well.
- Divide between the two tins and bake for 18 mins, check for done-ness if they need more time, give them some. Once baked, turn on to wire racks to cool.
Rustic...yes. That's what we'll call it.

- For the icing: Heat an inch or so of water in a small pan and simmer. Place the egg whites and sugar in a heat proof bowl and set over the pan (do not allow the water to touch the bowl). Whisk gently by hand. You want to dissolve the sugar whilst gently cooking the egg. Once dissolved (check by rubbing some between your fingers) whisk faster. Remove from the heat and beat with an electric whisk until the bowl has cooled and you have 
meringue. It takes a while.
- Once cooled, begin to add the butter, beating well as you go. The meringue will disappear, it will look like soup and or cottage cheese at varying points, but persevere. One all in, add the cream cheese in the same fashion.
- by now it should be more solid and looking like fluffy frosting. Add the ginger and the honey and stir well.
- Assemble! Cut each of the sponges in half so you have 4 (ideally the same size...I did not manage that). Place the first layer on a plate and spoon on 1/4 of the icing. Do the same with the rest. Sprinkle with a little more ginger and enjoy!

Light, fluffy, cheesecake-esque icing.


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Apple and Toffee Crumble Cake

It's like an apple crumble...but with cake and toffee sauce.

The days are getting shorter and I have a lot more time on my hands as there is less work. This is generally bad, but it also means that i have more time to mill around the kitchen and do some baking! I fancied some cake but didn't want it to have loads of icing or a glaze or anything...then I saw some Granny Smiths just chilling out in the fruit basket. So cake with an apple crumble topping spiked with toffee sauce it was to be. As usual, I've gone for a bake-it-with-your-eyes-closed Victoria sponge base. EASY! Unfortunately I'm not so good at remembering when I have things in the oven and it caught just a bit on the bottom and sides - rubbish! Nothing a little extra toffee won't sort out.

Ingredients:
for the cake:
175g soft butter
175g sugar
3 eggs
175g plain flour
tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla extract

for the crumble
50g cold butter, diced
55g sugar (white and brown mix if you like)
70g flour (plain and wholemeal mix)

for the toffee
50g butter
50g white sugar
50g brown sugar
60ml single cream

2 medium Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced

Method:
- preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and line and grease a 20cm round loose bottomed tin
-make the crumble: place all the ingredients in to a medium sized bowl and rub the butter in to the dry stuff until you get something resembling breadcrumbs - or crumble! Set aside in a cool area.
-Make the sponge: cream the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add the flour and baking powder, stir to incorporate, then beat to combine. 
- for the toffee sauce, place all the ingredients in to a small sauce pan and set over a medium heat. Once all the sugar has dissolved, turn up high and boil for a few minutes till thickened. Remember to stir!
-Assemble! Pour the cake mix in to the tin and level. Add the apple slices then spoon over 5 tblsp or so of the sauce. Sprinkle some of the crumble on top (you won't need all of it. You can freeze the rest).
-bake for 30 minutes and test with a knife or skewer to make sure it's done.
-Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Serve with the rest of the toffee sauce.

Toffee! Just a little over done on the bottom there. ooops!


Sunday, 25 November 2012

Banana Waffles

Waffles with three different styles of banana!
Since I decided the floor was no place to hang my coat anymore, I realised that I was going to need a friend to come and help me drill some holes for a pretty set of hooks I had acquired. Because this was going to happen in the morning, I made some brunch in exchange for labour - and seeing as I don't get nearly enough use from that waffle iron, waffles were on the menu! A request was put in for them to have banana in. I had a look on the internet for a recipe, but couldn't decide on any of them so just sort of...well I made it up. They have bananas times three: one mashed in to the batter, some cooked in the middle and then some fresh slices on the top. A dollop of yogurt and a drizzle of honey later, you have tasty breakfast times! The batter keeps for a few days in the fridge - which is good as this will make 8.

Ingredients:
200g plain flour
80g wholemeal flour
2tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp each of ground ginger and cinnamon 
10g vanilla sugar
1 ripe banana, mashed up in a bowl
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
300ml milk
65g plain yogurt
25g butter, melted
2tblsp honey

one banana per waffle
yogurt
honey

Method:
- place all of the dry ingredients in to a large bowl and mix about a bit
- crack the eggs in to the mashed banana and combine using a balloon whisk. Then add the milk and vanilla and mix well. Add this in to the dry ingredients, mix well then add the yogurt.
-pour over the melted butter and honey and whisk
- turn on the waffle iron and when hot spoon some of the batter on and spread a little (I used a 1/4 cup measure as it was about the right size) slice half a banana on to the batter then dot a little more of the mixture on top of each slice. Close the iron and cook for around 3 minutes or until fluffed up and browned. 
-serve with the other half of the banana, yogurt and honey. YUM!(AND only 215 calories a waffle, if you make 8 - excellent!)


Fluffy!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Clementine and Cardamom Polenta Cake

Syrupy and orangey.

I really love the texture of a cake when it's loaded with delicious polenta - because it's quite crumbly it takes a good lashing of syrup well, but it's also pretty dense so is quite satisfying and substantial. Also, because it's getting close to Christmas, the shops around here are loaded with clementines for next to nothing! So I bought a lot...too many to eat. So I thought, hmmm...they can become a cake! So they did. I've always loved orange flavours mixed with cardamom, so that's what's happened here. Very easy to make and it lasts ages in an air tight tin.

Ingredients:

200g butter, room temp
230g sugar
10g vanilla sugar
3 eggs
150g polenta
190g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 heaped tblsp low fat yogurt
zest and juice of 5 clementines (do not juice until needed)
7 cardamom pods, seeds smashed - pods discarded

extra 100g sugar

Method:
-preheat the oven to gas mark 3 and grease and line a 20cm loose bottomed tin with baking paper and set aside.
-cream the butter and the sugars together until light and fluffy and add the cardamom
-add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition so they are nearly totally combined. Add the flour, polenta and baking powder
-add the yogurt and zest. Cut 3 of the 5 fruits in half and squeeze the juice in to the batter. Mix well
-Spoon the mixture in to the tin and level. Bake on the middle shelf for 35-40 minutes. It may need longer - test with a skewer or a knife and when it comes out batter free, your cake is done! Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out on to a wire rack.
-make the syrup: Juice the remaining clementines in to a small pan and tip in around 100g of sugar. Simmer until dissolved then boil until it thickens. Pour some of this onto a serving plate, place the cake on top and then spoon the remaining syrup over the cake. 
-Serve with ice cream, yogurt or on its own.


not the best picture, but the pomegranate was delicious on top!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Apple Waffles with candied Hazelnuts

Heart shaped breakfast treats.

I made an excellent purchase a while ago - a waffle iron! I haven't used it nearly enough yet. I did have some friends round for some waffles when I got it, but it's just sort of stayed in the cupboard since then. So when I had Sunday off I decided to make some brunch! A German recipe for apple ones won. They tasted like little mini apple pies.


Ingredients:
60g butter, melted and slightly cooled
10g vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
2 eggs
100g plain flour
60g cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
100ml milk
zest of a lemon
1 big apple

100g hazelnuts
some sugar

Method:
-first make the hazelnuts. Tip the nuts in to a small pan and toast over a medium heat. Place on some baking paper to cool. Add a good amount of sugar to the pan and place on a low heat to dissolve. Once dissolved, heat until it starts to turn golden brown. Don't stir the caramel or it will crystalise! When it's ready, very carefully pour on to the nuts and leave to set. When completely cold, smash the brittle up in a bag.
- For the waffles! Put all the dry ingredients in to a bowl and mix. Add the eggs, milk and zest (and vanilla extract if using) and whisk in to a thick batter. Pour in the butter, mix to combine and then cover and leave in the fridge for an hour or so.
- heat up the waffle iron. Core and quarter the apple and slice thinly. Mix the apple in to the batter. When the iron is hot enough, spoon some of the mixture on and close the top. 
Cook each waffle for about 4 minutes. They should puff up a bit. 
- serve with yogurt, the hazelnuts, some cinnamon and a drizzle of honey. A lovely Sunday treat!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Pistachio and Rose Cupcakes

Pistachio cupcakes with rose scented Swiss Meringue butter cream.

More birthdays! This time - mine! I've wanted to make some rose and pistachio cakes for a while, and seeing as I was making a Moroccan inspired dinner I thought these would be fitting for dessert. As luck would have it, a friend made me a cake as well. Happy cake day to me indeed!

I chose to make a Swiss meringue icing as I find it to be a little sweeter than the French butter cream I usually make. I thought this would go nicely with the salty-sweet flavour of the nuts and provide a good balance.

Ingredients:
140g softened butter
140g sugar
140g plain flour 
1 tsp baking powder
100g pistachios, shelled 
2 eggs
70ml milk

4 egg whites
120g sugar
230g butter, cubed, at room temp
3tsp rose water

Method:
-preheat the oven to gas mark 3 and line a bun/muffin tin with 12 paper cases.
-beat the butter using electric beaters to soften. Place the nuts in to a jug/blender and whizz up. Add a few spoons of sugar and whizz again to combine. 
-Add the rest of the sugar to the butter and whisk till fluffy and light. Then add in the nutty sugar and mix. Add the eggs and beat until mixed in. Sieve the flour and the baking powder over the top and beat until just mixed in. Add the milk so that the batter is a little less stiff.
Cooling Cakes

- spoon the batter in to the cases and bake for 25 minutes. Check that a spoon comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.
like this

-to make the icing, put the egg whites and sugar in a heat proof bowl and set over a small pan of simmering water. Basically you want to dissolve the sugar and lightly cook the egg whites without them scrambling. Whisk very lightly over the heat using a balloon whisk. If you do this by hand then you can get a better sense of when the sugar had dissolved. Once dissolved, remove from the heat and whisk using an electric whisk until meringue has magically appeared. This takes about 10 minutes. Keep going until the bowl is cool and you have nice firm, glossy peaks.
-then start to add the butter slowly whilst still beating. Once its all in there it should be fairly firm and looking like butter icing. Add the rose water a tsp at a time, tasting as you go. The idea is to just get a nice scent - lest you should end up with edible pot pourri. 

-spoon in to a piping bag and pipe on to the cooled cakes. Voila!

nom!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Strawberry Torte

How very red.
October definitely seems to be the month for birthdays, as it is another of my friends' today! She said that her favourite things were strawberries and that she wanted something I believe is called an Erdbeer schnitten. I Tried to find a recipe for it, but alas! Could not find a definitive one. So I trawled the internet and came up with a mish mash of what I think would be tasty. I opted for a simple victoria sponge base and a layer of creme patisserie topped with strawberries and a jelly glaze. I was a bit worried about the warm jelly melting all the filling, so I waited a bit too long and it wasn't very pour-able...
I hope it's right. Happy Birthday!

Ingredients:
For the base
180g soft butter
180g sugar
3 eggs
130g plain flour
50g cornflour
vanilla extract

for the creme patisserie
150ml milk
100ml cream
40g sugar
3 egg yolks
10g corn flour
20g plain flour
100ml extra cream, whipped.
10g vanilla sugar

Plus a punnet of strawberries and a packet of red torte jelly powder (tortenguss)

Method:
- preheat the oven to gas 4/180C and grease a flan tin
- beat the butter till smooth, then cream in the sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well.
-sieve over the flours and mix until just mixed. Pour in to the tin and level. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the tin and leave to cool. Turn which ever way up seems the most sensible (I went for upside down) and carve out some of the inside of the cake to make room for the filling.
- Make the creme patisserie as per the filling in these profiteroles, and cover the cake.
- slice up the strawberries and lay on top.  
-make the tortenguss to the pack instructions (if you can@t find it you could substitute some warmed up apricot jam). Once cooled enough, pour all over the top and leave to set!



Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Sacher Torte

It's a slab o'chocolate

As I am such a fan of making cakes, I always try my best in rustling one up when it comes to a special occasion - like a birthday! It was my friend's the other day and I asked her what she would like. She said Sacher Torte. So here it is. Unfortunately I was a little rushed in having to get out the door and transport it so I didn't glaze the sides for fear of it all getting a bit too messy on the tram. You need to have quite a bit of time to make this one as there's lots of 'letting it cool' parts. I am also glad a photo was snapped before the knife got to it. It's based on a Mary Berry recipe. Can't go wrong there.

Ingredients:
for the cake
140g dark chocolate - I used a mix of 85 and 70%
140g soft butter
115g sugar
1 tsp vanilla
5 eggs, separated
90g ground almonds
50g plain flour

for the glaze
4 tblsp apricot jam (no bits)
140g 70% chocolate
200ml pouring cream
4 squares milk chocolate

Method:
-preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180C. Grease the sides and line the bottom of a 22cm loose bottomed tin.
-melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Leave to the side.
-Beat the butter in a large bowl with electric beaters until nice and soft, then add the sugar and beat until incorporated.
-Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and mix, followed by the egg yolks. 
- Sieve the almonds and flour over the top and fold in. It should be pretty thick and stiff by now.
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until quite stiff. Fold these in to the chocolatey batter. Do this by sacrificing one third to loosen the mix - i.e mix the first third in without a care for losing air, then gently fold in the rest.
-Spoon in to the tin and level the top. Bake for 40 minutes. It should have risen up -  check the centre with a knife. Once cooked, remove from the oven, then the tin after 5 minutes and leave to cool on a rack.
- Heat the jam and then brush on to the cooled cake and allow to set. 
-Heat the cream in a small pan till it's nearly boiling, then turn off the heat and add in the dark chocolate for the glaze. Stir. Cool until it's the right consistency to coat the cake without being too runny, and cover the cake. Cool. Melt the milk chocolate, pour in to a wee bag made out of baking paper and pipe 'Sacher' on top. 


Friday, 28 September 2012

Prince Regent's Torte



I used vanilla and chocolate, so the layers aren't as clear. Was still tasty though.
I've wanted to make this cake for a while, and now that I'm in Germany, I thought I would! It's a Bavarian cake that has to have at least 6 - I went for 8 layers - of very thin sponge, filled with butter icing and then covered in dark chocolate. It's named after the guy it was baked for; Prince Regent Luitpold who was PR of Bavaria from 1886. Apparently it has all the layers because of the 8 regions of Bavaria during his reign...hence the 8. It was supposed to have sickly sweet icing-sugar-butter-icing, but I opted for a French Buttercream instead. It's biscuity and cakey at the same time.
Basically it's just another reason to eat a lot of butter.

Ingredients:
for the cake
-250g soft butter
-250g sugar
-4 medium eggs
-200g plain flour
-50g cornflour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp vanilla extract
for the filling
-4 egg yolks
-150g sugar
-100ml water
-300g softened butter, cut in to chunks
-3 tblsp cocoa
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
for the covering
-150g really dark chocolate (85%)
-40g butter

Method: 
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 5. Using a 20cm loose bottomed round tin, cut out 8 cartouches (circles of baking paper). Weigh the bowl you are going to use for the batter and make a note.
-For the cakes cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flours and the baking powder over the top and then gently fold in with a large metal spoon. Try not to over mix.
- weigh the mix and less the weight of the bowl. Divide in to 8 and then spoon the correct amount on to the first circle of paper, smooth it out evenly then gently place it in to the tin. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Set up the next lot of batter whilst the former is cooking. Remember to lay the baking paper in between the cooling sponges! Repeat until all the mixture is gone and you have 8 sponges.
-Make the butter cream! Pour the water over the sugar in a small pan and set over the lowest heat until it dossolves (you don't want too much water to evaporate). Once dissolved, whack up high and get your thermometer ready. Once the syrup reaches 110C, start beating (using an electric whisk/mixer) the egg yolks till they thicken. When the syrup is bubbling and at 116C, carefully pour on to the eggs, whilst still whisking. Keep at it. Eventually they will cool and will be a thickened yolky meringue-type substance. 
- once cool, continue beating and add in the butter. It should thicken in to tasty icing.
- divide in to two and flavour one with the cocoa and one with vanilla.
- Once the cakes are cool, build the torte by layering the sponges with alternating buttercream. 
-melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly, then spread over the top and sides of the cake.

-slice and then drown in butter.



Thursday, 23 August 2012

Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Bundt

That's quite a thick layer of ganache, there.

A lot of things were supposed to happen today...well, some things any way. I went to work and was all finished by 12.30 (yay for me!) and then nothing else was really falling in to place. So I thought I would cheer myself up by doing a spot of baking. Once the cake was in the oven I got a very excellent phone call! So then there was something to celebrate, and then as if by magic - there was a cake!

I opted for a marbled chocolate and vanilla bundt with a nice thick layer of dark chocolate ganache. Death by chocolate? Perhaps! It's your average nice-and-simple 4 egg Victoria sponge with one half laced with vanilla and the other with some chocolate. Easy.

Ingredients:
4 eggs. Weigh them whole and then use that as the weight for the other ingredients
butter, at room temperature
caster sugar
self raising flour

200g dark chocolate, chopped
2 tblsp cocoa
120ml cream
2 vanilla pods/ 1/2 tsp extract


Method:
- Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a bundt/ring tin
- beat the butter until nice and fluffy and then add the sugar and beat till light and fluffy. It's all very fluffy.
- add the eggs one at a time, beating aster each addition. Add in a tablespoon of the flour if it starts to look as though it may curdle.
- Sift in the flour and fold in until everything is mixed in well.
- divide the batter in to two. In one half, add the seeds of a vanilla pod (or two) or 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. In the other half, mix in the cocoa and then melt 50g of the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over boiling water. Add this to the chocolate half and stir to combine. 
- add both sets of batter in to the tin as you like. Swirl it around a bit with a knife. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean!
- once baked, leave in the tin for 5 mins and then turn out on to a wire rack.
- heat the cream in a sauce pan until it starts to come to the boil. Add the rest of the chocolate and whisk until its lovely and melted and thick and ganache-like. Spoon on to the top so it starts to run down the sides.
- leave to cool, slice and enjoy!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Bagels

Much better than from a packet!

Today was exceedingly hot and stuffy, so I decided that I should take a trip to a lake or a river after work. Then I remembered how lazy I am and how a warm day is the perfect day for bread. I've wanted to bake some bagels for a while and thought, today is the day!

I didn't really have anything in the way of a topping -  I like lots of seeds on my bagels - but I did try to introduce a little sultana and cinnamon in to half the dough. But I did it after it had proven, so I had some fun pushing the little dried fruits in to the dough and watching them ping out again.

This recipe will make 8 fairly decent sized bagels for breakfast and lunch styled treats.

Ingredients:
450g strong bread flour
sachet of active dried yeast (7g)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
300ml lukewarm water

a big pan of water with 1 tblsp honey and 1 tblsp sugar

Method:
- pour 100ml of the warm water in to a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface and then sprinkle the sugar on the top (this should help the yeast to sink). Let it sit for 10 mins (do not stir) until it's nice and frothy. Then stir to dissolve.
- mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the yeasty mixture, then top it up with just about all of the rest of the lukewarm water.
- mix together until it's of a lovely soft consistency, but not too sticky. Tip out on to a floured work surface and knead for about 10 mins until smooth and elastic. Form in to a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, drape some cling film over the top and leave to rise for an hour in a warm place.
- Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with paper.
- Get the big pan of water on to boil.
- punch the dough a bit and leave again for a few minutes. (This is when I decided to make half the dough cinnamon and sultana). Divide the dough in to 8 - 10 equal sized lumps and shape in to balls. Do this by rolling it around in a circular motion on the work surface with the palm of your hand. Stick your finger (or the end of a wooden spoon) into the middle and wiggle it about until you have a hole. 
- add the bagels two at a time to the pan of boiling sugary water. Boil on each side for 1 minute, remove, drain and then place the 'right way up' on to the baking tray. Now would be the time to top them with some tasty seeds if you have them to hand.
look at that sultana still trying to escape!
- bake for 25 minutes, leave to cool on a wire rack, slice them open and enjoy with your favourite bagel toppings. Mine's banana and honey.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut Friands

Chocolate Hazelnut Friands.
After having a custard experiment disaster the other day, I had an awful lot of egg whites to use up. I didn't really fancy meringues and decided that friands were on the cards, mostly due to how affordable mountains of nuts are here. I opted for a tasty nutella inspired chocolate and hazelnut concoction. Unfortunately I had to dash out to work just as they'd finished baking. I have a lack of tupperware here and they lost the fight against the open air. Still tasty though!

Ingredients:
200g ground hazelnuts
175g unsalted butter
6 egg whites
160g plain flour
2 tblsp cocoa
230g icing sugar, plus more for dusting

Method:
-preheat the oven to 200C and grease a 12 hole muffin/friand tin
- heat the butter in a small saucepan until melted. Keep an eye on it and take off the heat once it's gone nice and brown - this adds a nutty loveliness to the butter. Remove, strain for darkened milk solids and keep to the side.
- whisk the whites until frothy, not peaky, just nice and foamy. 
-sift the dry ingredients in to a large bowl and stir the nuts in. Make a well in the centre and add the egg whites and the cooled butter. Mix to combine. 
- spoon this in to the tin and bake for 25 mins, checking after 20. A skewer should come out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack
- dust liberally with icing sugar and serve!#



Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Peach and Almond Tarts

Peachy.
This week I remembered how much I love peaches. Then I remembered how much I love anything that tastes like almonds. And then I remembered how delicious home made rough puff pastry is. 

Ingredients:
For the Rough Puff Pastry:
This makes 500g of pastry, you only really need half this amount for the tarts, but it's always nice to have left overs in the fringe or freezer (just make sure you stack the trimmings rather than scrunch them).

250g very cold butter, cubed
250g plain white flour
125ml iced water
5g salt

For the filling:
100g ground almonds
100g soft butter
1 egg
25g sugar
a few drops of almond extract
3-4 ripe peaches, depending on size, sliced finely in to crescents
a little vanilla sugar for dusting

Method:
For the pastry:
- weigh out all the ingredients. Tip the flour out on to a cool, clean surface and make a well in the centre. Tip the butter in to the centre and start to scrunch the butter in to the flour. Keep doing this until the flour and butter are fairly well mixed. You want to have pretty big lumps of butter throughout the flour.
-Add around half the water and mix it in with your fingers to form a dough. Add enough water that it starts to come together but is not sticky (you probably won't need all of it)
-very gently knead it so it forms a ball. Roll this out so that the length is 3 times the width.
-Now start folding: bring the bottom edge in to the middle of the length, then fold the top down over this (like a business letter)
- turn this folded dough one quarter to the right. Roll again so that it is 3 times longer than it is wide. Fold again in the same way. Make a mark in the dough using two fingertips (to remind you that you have done two folds. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for 20 mins.
-repeat this rolling and folding twice more, mark it with four finger dents and return to the fridge for 20 mins.
Hooray! We have rough puff ready to use. Cut this block in half and save the other half for another recipe.
puffy buttery layers. Om nom nom

For the tarts: 
-heat the over to 200C and line a baking tray with paper
-mix together all the filling ingredients except the peaches.
- roll out the pastry to about 2mm thick. Either using a small saucer as a guide and cutting around it, or using a pastry cutter (10cm diameter) cut out 4 rounds. Place them on the baking sheet.
- add a tablespoon of the almond mixture to each of these discs and spread nearly to the edges.
-arrange the peaches on top in a circular fashion, overlapping the central corners as you go.
- bake for 10 mins. After 10, remove from the oven, sprinkle with the vanilla sugar and turn upside-down (this can be tricky) so the bottom of the pasty can cook and puff up. Cook for a further 10 mins. Turn them back up the right way round and bake for a further 2 mins (if they need extra time).

-And there you have them! Warm, melt in the mouth buttery peachy loveliness.

recipe adapted from Good Food magazine

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Brown Soda Bread


The easiest bread in the world
Today I was peckish and fancied a freshly baked loaf, still hot from the oven, smothered in butter. But I am impatient and didn't want to have it take hours with lots of kneading and proving and all that. That's for nice lazy days, earmarked for bread making. So I opted for soda bread which takes 46 minutes - 1 minute to prepare, 45 to bake.

Ingredients:
225g wholemeal flour (I used the type with lots of seeds in)
225g strong plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp butter
1 egg
350ml buttermilk

Method:
- preheat the oven to 200C and lay a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray
-combine all of the dry ingredients in to a large bowl and make a well
- beat the egg in to the buttermilk. Pour most of it into the well. Gradually bring the dry in to the wet using a spoon or your hand
- add enough of the buttermilk so that the dough is soft but not too sticky. Once everything's mixed, form in to a rounded shape, place on the baking sheet and slash a big line or a cross in to the surface.
-bake for 40 minutes, remove and serve with lashings of salted butter.