Saturday, 24 March 2012

Cardamom and Sultana Tea Loaf

A Tasty Tea- Time Treat
This loaf is very easy to make, but requires a little forward planning as you have to soak the fruit in the teas over night. It's packed full of plump fruit with a nice whiff of cardamom- and it's fat free! The recipe is based on a loaf from the Good Food 2012 calendar, but I've altered the amount of sugar as I found it a bit too sweet, and changed the tea flavour.

250g sultanas
100g mixed peel
120g light muscovado sugar
300ml cardamom tea, with around five pods bashed and flung in (I used 2 tblsp of loose leaf, but you could use 2 bags of any tea)
300g self raising flour
1 large egg, beaten
a little oil for greasing- or, to make it really fat free, I used a silicone loaf tin

- place the fruit, peel and sugar in to a bowl and pour over the hot tea. Stir well and leave to soak in over night.
- the next day, heat the oven to gas mark 2/ 150C. Line a tin if you don't have a silicone one.
- remove the pods if you can locate them (hopefully!) then stir in the flour and egg until well combined. Scoop in to the tin, level the surface and bung in the oven for 1 1/2- 1 3/4 hours. Check if it's done with a skewer. It should have risen, too.
- cool for 10 mins then remove to a wire rack. Put the kettle on. Slice and spread with butter (sorry, not fat free) and enjoy with a cuppa.

It freezes really well, and will keep for a good 5 days in an airtight container.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Black Forest Cupcakes with Mascarpone Icing

A forest of cake
For a while I'd been toying with the idea of a black forest inspired cake. This is a chocolate sponge with a mascarpone and cherry icing, a kirsch soaked cherry middle and chocolate shavings on the top. What a tasty treat!

This recipe makes around 18 smaller sized cakes than I would usually make. I used fairy cake cases.

160g softened butter
160g self raising flour
160g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
20g cocoa powder
2 squares of really dark chocolate (79% +), melted

250g mascarpone cheese at room temp.
70g icing sugar
60g butter, room temp.
2 more squares of chocolate

1 tin of black cherries in light syrup (you may have to pit them)
4 tblsp kirsch
few drops of almond extract

- line a bun tin with cake cases and set the oven to gas mark 4/180C. Drain the cherries ans reserve the syrup. Pour the kirsch and almond extract over the cherries and leave to soak.
- place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until pale and fluffy. add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. If it looks like it's about to curdle, add in a spoonful of the flour. Sift the flour and the cocoa powder together over the top of the buttery mixture and beat until just incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and a few tablespoons of the cherry syrup and mix well.
-spoon the batter in to the cases. I used a small ice cream scoop for the job, or if one isn't to hand, use 2 1/2 tablespoons.
-bake for 15-18 mins until a skewer comes out clean and cool on a wire rack.

-to make the icing, beat the butter and cheese together until blended and smooth. Add the icing sugar and mix gently - else you'll end up covered in dust! Chop up 10 or so of the cherries and gently fold in. Cover and place in the fridge.

om nom nom
- once the cakes are cooled, take a small knife and cut out a funnel from each of them, as if you were to make butterfly cakes. Try not to make them too wide or deep! Push two cherries in to each of the funnelled holes. Brush the remaining cherried-kirschy booze on to the top of the cakes.
-fill a piping bag with the icing and swirl on to each cake using a star (or your preferred) nozzle. Grate or shave the chocolate with the blade of a knife and sprinkle on the top.