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.

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

-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!


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!

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)

- 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.

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

-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.