Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Chocolate Orange Layer Cake

Huge sparkler candles for the occasion

I worked out that I hadn't seen my mum on her birthday for around six years or so, and thought that it was high time I did! I went back to the UK for a visit, saw some friends in Glasgow and the midlands, had some food, some wine and some fun and then carried on down the country to Devon to see my family. We went to one of the River Cottage canteens the day after mum's actual birthday (delicious, by the way), but on the day we stayed in. My sister cooked up a tasty curry and I was in charge of the cake. When asked what flavour she might like, mum replied "chocolate orange?" so I obliged!
It's a four-layer orange flavoured chocolate chip sponge, brushed with orange syrup and sandwiched with orange scented whipped cream - all covered in a dark chocolate ganache. 

4 large eggs
300g caster sugar
310g softened butter
310g self-raising flour
2 large oranges, both zested and juiced
50g dark chocolate bashed in to pieces - or buy some chocolate chips :)

70g extra sugar

500ml double cream
200g 70% dark chocolate, chopped up
1 tsp vanilla extract

as you can see my 'bash it and see' method of making
chips make for uneven distribution!
-preheat the oven to 160/gas mark 4 and line two 20cm round cake tins with baking paper and set aside.
-cream the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add in half the zest. Gradually add in the eggs, one by one, mixing as you go. Sprinkle in some flour after each addition to stop it from looking curdled. 
-Sift the flour over the top and stir in with the mixers first, then whisk quickly to combine well. Pour in 4 tablespoons of the orange juice and stir. Gently stir in the chocolate chips and then divide between the two prepared tins. 
-bake for around 30 mins, checking after 20. Test with a knife or a skewer - if it comes out clean, it's done! If not, leave them in a little longer.
-once cooked, remove from the tins and cool on a wire rack.

-make the syrup! Place the extra sugar in to a small pan and top up with an equal amount of the orange juice. Over a low heat, dissolve the sugar, then bring to the boil until it has a syrupy consistency. Leave to cool slightly.
-once the cakes are cold, split each in two so there are 4 layers. Brush the syrup on to the tops of each one.

- whip up 300ml of the cream with the rest of the zest and spread 1/3 on to the first cake. Top with another cake - spread more cream etc.
- to make the ganache, bring the remaining cream to the boil, take off the heat and stir in the chocolate and the vanilla. Leave for a few minutes to cool, then pour over the top of the cake. Either let it drip down or attempt (as I foolishly did) to spread around the edges of the cake...a bit messy without a torte ring!
top with candles and get singing

Friday, 11 January 2013

Apple and Sultana Buttermilk Scones

Light and fluffy and...low fat?!
This is my first post for a while - and indeed the first one this year! Christmas was fairly busy, milling around at my parent's house in the constant rain. Needless to say there was some extreme over-indulgence of the cheese/meat/chocolate/wine variety. Well, a new year and a new start! I am not going to even delude myself in to believing I could stick to a new year's resolution of less cake and or wine. I thought I would, instead, attempt a few bakes that were a little more kind to the waistline. First one? Scones! Not known for their slimming properties (epecially once laden with jam and lashings of clotted cream), I wanted to make them at least a little bit better for you - but without substitutes. Apple and sultanas meant less sugar, buttermilk is very low in fat and keeps them moist and I used less butter than usual. They turned out pretty well, I have to say! There's even some wholemeal flour snuck in, too. I don't have any cutters here, and the trick to getting well risen scones is to use something with a sharp edge - I resorted to a knife.
This makes 16 medium sized scones, weighing in at 175 kcal a piece with only 3g of saturated fat. Winner! 

400g plain flour
50g wholemeal flour
10g baking powder
5g bicarbinate of soda
pinch salt
85g cold butter, diced
50g sugar
100g sultanas
100g apple grated or diced fairly small
285ml buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1/2 a lemon

- preheat the oven to gas mark 7 and line a baking tray with baking paper. Set aside.
- tip the flours, raising agents, salt and butter in to a bowl. Rub the butter in to the flour using your finger tips until there are no large lumps left.
- add the sugar and stir. Add in the fruits and zest and mix well, making sure everything is well coated in the flour.
- warm the buttermilk and vanilla in a small saucepan or in the microwave until just steaming. Add 1/3 of the flour to a large bowl, then some of the liquid. Mix well using a round-ended knife. Continue alternating and mixing until used up. 
- tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead very gently until you have dough. Flatten out with your palm to about 4-5cm thick and then cut using cutters or a very sharp knife (glasses/cups don't work as well).
- arrange on the baking tray leaving a little room to rise and bake for 10 minutes. Check, then return to the oven for another 3 minutes.
 -cool on a wire rack, split open and enjoy with butter, jam, cream - anything! 

The apple and sultana could even be part of your 5 a day!