Sunday, 29 September 2013

Chocolate, courgette and pistachio cake

Carrot cake is a common household cake now a days. Its becoming increasingly common to see other vegetables appearing in cakes though some may turn their noses up!

Veg in cakes are a great thing, they add moisture, can impart deep flavour,for example carrot or beetroot, though not always as with the cake below. Having the veg present often reduces the fat and sugar content of the cake making the bake healthier.

I saw the recipe for this cake and was instantly intrigued, plus there is the added bonus of the veg been hidden so if you have fussy eaters you just need not tell them!

Chocolate, courgette and pistachio cake

100g shelled pistachios
3 medium eggs
175g light muscovado sugar
300g courgettes, peeled and finely grated
120g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

100g butter
100g icing sugar
50g cocoa powder
vegetables a chance in your cakes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN  and lightly oil 2x 18cm sandwich tins, lining the base with baking parchment. 

Blitz 75g of the pistachios in a food processor until they reassemble flour, the finer the better. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl for 2 minutes until pale and fluff. Beat in the courgette and pistachio followed by the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Make sure that everything is well mixed. 

Split the cake mix evenly between the two tins. then bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool for a minute in the tin then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing beat the butter until softened. Then beat in the icing sugar and two tablespoons of boiling water. Beat until a paste is formed then beat for a further minute until the mixture doubles in volume. Beat in the cocoa powder one tablespoon at a time. Once all the cocoa has been added beat for one final minute until the mixture is fluffy.

Roughly chop the remaining 25g of pistachios. Use half the icing to coat one of the cakes, sprinkle on half the pistachios. Set the other cake on top. Ice the top with the remaining icing and sprinkle with the remaining pistachios.

This is a nice squidgy chocolate cake, with  lovely flavour and the icing is amazing. Why don't you give vegetables a change in your cakes?

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Bake along with Bake Off- Date and apple crumble traybake

I love watching the biscuit week on bake off. This week certainly did not disappoint, traybakes, tuiles and biscuit towers.

Some of those towers were impressive, Christine's Bavarian clock tower in particular, my heart was in my mouth a couple of times though!

I decided to make a traybake, I love a traybake and took this as an opportunity to make one that I had not done before, with bake off standard flavours and textures. I have made orange tuiles before, the recipe is here

The date crumble traybake is already a popular traybake, I added mixed spice to the crumble and apple to the date centre to jazz it up a little.

Date and apple crumble traybake

200g dates
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
2 eating apples
200g porridge oats
130g light brown sugar
110g self raising flour
200g butter (I used lactofree spread to no ill affect)

Make the date and apple purée first. Put the dates into a saucepan with 120ml of water and the vanilla. Heat gently for up to 10 minutes until all the water as been absorbed by the dates and they are beginning to  break down.

Remove the dates from the heat, grate the apples and stir into the dates, set aside to cool. 

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN. Grease and line a 23 cm square tin (I used a silicon one that didn't need lining as I had run out of baking paper) 

Pulse the oats, ,flour, sugar and mixed spice. in a food processor (or mix by hand) add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumble and starts to come together (or alternatively rub in with your fingers).  

Press ~2/3 of the mixture into the prepared tin then top with the date purée.
Lightly crumble and press the remaining 1/3 of the crumble mix on top.

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. 

Leave to cool in the tin for 15-30 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into squares. 

Be careful these are dangerously addictive! The filling is sweet and sticky and goes fantastically with the lightly spiced crunchy topping.

I think Paul and Mary would have liked these providing I cut them into nice equal squares! They do keep well, but the topping will soften a little.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Lemon drizzle cake

I love being creative in the kitchen and pushing myself out of my comfort zone but sometimes I just want to make and more importantly eat something just that bit simpler, and a simple slice of cake, without icing and frosting, to go with a cup of tea was what I was craving.

I made a simple lemon drizzle cake, the recipe is from the hummingbird bakery but I adapted it to make it dairy free and reduced the sugar.

The recipe makes a lot of batter, I have the bigger size loaf tin and there was way too much mix. Luckily I have mini loaf tins too and so I recruited them and actually ended up with one loaf and two mini ones! Luckily the cake keeps well in an airtight tin!

Lemon drizzle loaf (s!)

200g lactofree spread
275g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
½ tsp vanilla paste
Zest of two lemons
350g self raising flour
250g unsweetened almond milk

25g caster sugar

Juice of one and half lemons

Preheat the oven to 170C/150C FAN and grease and line the base of a 2lb loaf tin (have the mini ones on standby!)

Gently melt the butter (or lactose free alternative) and set aside to cool. Using a hand held or free standing electric whisk beat the eggs and sugar till thick, light and mousse like. eat in the vanilla and lemon zest. Add in a third of the lemon and beat until incorporated  beat in a third of the milk. Continue adding the remaining flour and milk in this way Finally eat in the melted butter, on slow, until no streak remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin(s), filling n more than 3/4 full. Bake in the preheated oven for 65-75 minutes, until risen, golden and springy.  

While the cake is cooking make the syrup. Heat the sugar with the lemon juice until thickened and a syrup consistency. 

When the cake comes out of the oven transfer to  wire rack and use a skewer or cocktail stick to make holes two thirds of the way down the cake. Brush the syrup over the cake allowing it to soak in.

This cake does exactly everything I wanted it to. The perfect mate to a hot drink after a long day. 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Bake along with bake off- Filo pastry pie

Pies and tarts last week on the Great British bake off and I was inspired to make a filo pastry pie.

Full disclosure: I did not make my own filo pastry, for two reasons 1) My kitchen is not big enough to swing a cat and my longest work surface is less than a meter long. 2) Paul and Mary are not here to judge me!

I have made a few filo pies before but decided to make a competition worthy one. Even without making my own pastry it required some effort, not a quick week day meal!

It is adapted from a Tom Kerridge recipe. It is fish, surrounded by a mix of basmati and wild rice with garlic, lemon, dill and mozzarella, all tightly encased in spinach leaves then wrapped in crispy filo pastry.

I made two small pies instead of a big bake off style pie as there is only the two of us and I do not waste food.

Filo fish pie

Makes 2 individual sized.

75g basmati and wild rice (dry)
1 clove of garlic
Vegetable stock cube
Zest of one lemon
Small bunch of dill
125g of mozzarella
60g spinach leaves (bigger are better)
2 fillets of white fish, I used frozen hake fillets that had been defrosted.
2-4 sheet of filo pastry.
Melted butter or egg to coat the pastry.

First off this requires cooling and resting time so make sure you have enough time before starting!

Spritz a frying pan with a little oil and lightly fry the garlic, add the rice and fry for 30 seconds or so. Add 200ml of veg stock and turn down to lowest heat, allow to cook for 45 minutes until the rice is tender and all the stock absorbed. Note my low heat is quite hot still so I had to top up with a little more stock a couple of times, keep you eye on it.

Transfer the cooked rice to a bowl and allow to cool completely. Once the rice is completely cool stir through the zest of a lemon, the mozzarella and finely chop in a good tablespoon of dill and season with a little salt and pepper.

Blanch the spinach for 30 seconds or so in hot water, drain and transfer to cold water immediately to stop the cooking, drain again and lay out the spinach on kitchen towel of a clean tea towel to drain of most of the water.

Lay out a sheet of clingfilm. Lay out a layer of spinach leaves a little wider and longer than the size of your fish.

Add spoonfuls of the cooled rice on top of the spinach, flatten then add the fish on top. Add another few spoonfuls of the rice mix to cover the fish and then finish with another layer of the spinach leaves. Now carefully wrap the whole thing up tightly in clingfilm and pop into the fridge for at least one hour, or up to two.

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C FAN and lightly grease a baking sheet.

Lay out a sheet of filo on a work surface and fold in half (length ways). Alternatively if your pasty sheet is small, or your fish parcel is big simple lay two sheets on top of each other.

Gently transfer you fish parcel from the clingfilm to the centre of your filo pastry. Fold the short ends in and then wrap the rest of the filo around the fish. Glue the seam with a little beaten egg or melted butter. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Glaze the top of the pastry with melted butter or beaten egg.

Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.

This was a little effort and a little fiddly in places but it does not involve too long in the kitchen, a lot of time is waiting and it is honestly not has tricky as I though it would be.

Its worth noting that I did not use all the rice mix, I packed a lot in but there was a little left over, it probably depends on the size of your fish.

The effort was worth it though, the flavours and textures in this pie are lovely and a little bit different. It was very filling too, only a salad was needed alongside and I was stuffed!  

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Quince and Camembert flatbreads

The letter for this months alpha bakes is 'Q'. A tricky one perhaps but I knew immediately what I wanted to bake. I have had my eye on these little flatbreads for a while.

They contain quince paste, which I believe you can get all year round so no waiting for quince's to come into season.

These are a Paul Hollywood recipe and can be found here

A few notes.

1) I halved the recipe for the two of us.

2)We had some the day I made the dough, and some the next day and some the next! The dough kept really well wrapped up tight in clingfilm in the fridge.

3)Three I did no read properly and put in all the water at once. I do not think it made a blind but of difference apart from it was crazily messy to begin with.

These taste amazing, honestly they are my favourite flatbreads to date. Considering that Camembert has a pretty strong flavour I wondered if it would overpower the quince. I need not have worried the flavours balance beautifully. The texture of these flatbreads is lovely and soft, maybe because the dough is wet, maybe from melty cheese, either way it is very very  good.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Chocolate madeleines

Following on from my earlier bake off post.

This week was interesting, not much baking actually, lots of stove top work, until we got the petits fours. There was some beautiful little creations going on. I wanted to eat Becas's beautiful baby macarons and Ruby's shortbread white chocolate creations.

These are one of my petit four from the weekend. Perhaps my least glamorous one but absolutely delicious.


Chocolate madeleines

makes 16

1 egg
120g golden caster sugar
1/2  tsp vanilla paste
80g plain flour
15g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp finely ground instant coffee or a tablespoon of freshly made coffee
80g butter
25g white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 170C/150C FAN and lightly grease your madeleine tin. Gently melt the butter, then side aside to cool. 

Whisk the egg, sugar and vanilla until thick, moussey and very pale in colour. Add the flour, coffee and cocoa powder and gently fold in with a metal spoon. When the flour is almost incorporated add about a tablespoon of the melted butter and fold in. Add half the remaining butter and continue to fold in, once it is incorporated add the remaining butter and fold in. You should be left with a lovely glossy mix.

Fill the prepared tin with the mix, you can use a spoon, I used a piping bag to pipe a line into each tin, this way I hoped to get them similar sizes. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Melt the white chocolate, put in a piping bad and snip off the corner, pipe a zig zag, or design off your choice, on each madeleine. 

These were more chocolatey than I thought they could be and really really good with a cup of tea or coffee.  

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

'Bake along with Bake Off' - Desserts- Petits fours

So this week its desserts. Trifle, Iles flottants and petits fours await the brave contestants. Now Mark does now like trifle, Iles flottants floats not our boats so by default petite fours it was! Ok so it was more work but at the end you get to eat lots of little cakes!

I was doing this in advance of the show so could only guess the exact nature of the challenge. I know they have to make 24 and assume they would have to make eight each of three type,s or four each of six. I went for 3. I do not know how long they have but have timed myself to compare.

I made almond and raspberry meringue kisses, pistachio salambos (from one of the bake off books) and double chocolate madelines.  The meringue post is below, I will post the other two items in the next couple of days.

They are all really really good, I am finding it hard to chose a favourite I keep changing my mind, Mark thinks the mini pistachio choux buns just edge into the lead.

Either way I am very very impressed with what I have achieved and Paul and Mary would be in trouble if they disagreed!

I am very excited about the bake off tonight, as always, but tonight will be better with a plate of these treats.

Almond and raspberry meringue kisses

makes 14-16 pairs

2 egg whites
pinch cream of tartar
1/2 tsp almond extract
100g caster sugar
pink food colouring (optional)

100ml double cream
2 tablespoons raspberry jam

First line a baking sheet with parchment paper, I actually used my silicon macaron sheet/guide but I suspect not everyone owns such a thing, and preheat the oven to 120C/100C FAN.

Put the egg whites in spotless grease free bowl, I use a metal one, along with the cream of tartar. Whisk until stiffish peaks are forming, add in half the sugar and almond extract and whisk until stiff glossy peaks are beginning to form before whisking in the rest of the sugar, you need nice stiff, shiny peaks but take care not to over beat.

I chose to paint a few stripes of food colouring on the inside of the piping bag but this is completely optional. Spoon the meringue mix into the piping bag fitted with a star tip.

Pipe teeny meringues into your prepared sheets. There are two ways to do it, either swirl it, the food colouring will give a spiral.

Or pipe straight down and you will get lines.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour to 90 minutes (I know, I know, its a broad range) until dry and crisp. Leave on the sheet until cool then gently peel away.

To fill whip the cream until soft peaks form then whisk in the raspberry jam. Pop the cream into a bag fitted with  star tip and pipe a good star shaped dollop onto half the meringues. Sandwich with another meringue and eat!

Monday, 2 September 2013

White chocolate, orange and cardamom breakfast rolls

So having said I would only bake one thing from each bake off week I have already made two from bread week. I was impressed with Ruby for making a peacock out of bread, something I would never have thought of, let alone have attempted! The judges were impressed with her flavour though too and not just its looks, and I have to say I was tempted to try it myself.

So these morning rolls were conceived, as I may have mentioned I was not going to make  peacock!

The recipe can be found here, along with the instructions for making the peacock, should you wish to try.

I divided the recipe by 3 and got 6 rolls.

To the basic mix I added the zest of a whole orange, and the crushed seeds of three cardamom pods. Once I had kneaded the dough I then added 1/2 of my chopped white chocolate and briefly kneaded it in.

After the first proving I rolled the dough into a rectangle, sprinkle over the crushed seeds of 3 more cardamom pods, a tablespoon of caster sugar and the remaining white chocolate. I then rolled up the dough, cut into 6 equal buns and then set on a baking tray covered with parchment to rise for a further 30 minutes.

At this point I covered the dough and left in the fridge overnight.

To bake the rolls I heated the oven to 140C (fan) and cooked for 20-25 minutes.

They were delicious. Thank you for the idea Ruby!