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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Scarlet Berry and Mandarin Cake with Meringue Buttercream

IMG_3014I am now the proud owner of a Kitchenaid! It’s scarlet red, very shiny and lovely to look at. And SO easy to use. A gift from my friends for a special birthday, organized by Mlle X.

IMG_2770So this was Kitchenaid christening weekend. I’m  a devotee of The Great British Bakeoff http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b013pqnm. After watching an episode I just have to bake.

The cake is loosely based on a recipe from that program by Mary Berry. I substituted whole mandarins plus some marmalade for the all-marmalade version.

The cake is not for the fainted hearted, as it is dense and fruity and quite heavy. I think I would make the all-marmalade version next time. The equal quantities of butter to sugar made it a little rich, so maybe a little less butter would lighten it too. But if you want a dense and flavourful cake, you certainly achieve that here.

I filled and iced the cake with meringue buttercream. The Kitchenaid produced a stunning result! Mega rich!

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Cakes (2)

Ingredients

200g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
4 large free range eggs
200g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 small whole mandarins, chopped and blitzed in a food processor
2 tbsp milk
3 tbsp chunky Seville orange marmalade

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Butter two 20 cm round cake tins and line with baking paper. Butter the paper.
Cream the softened butter with a Kitchenaid or similar mixer until soft and creamy. Beat in the sugar gradually, then continue to beat until it becomes pale and fluffy.
Gradually beat in the eggs, beating well after each addition.Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and gently fold into the mixture with a large metal spoon. When thoroughly combined, stir in the blitzed mandarins, marmalade and milk.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins and spread evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown and and a skewer inserted in the cakes comes out clean. Run a round bladed knife around the inside of the tin to loosen and then carefully turn the cakes out onto a wire rack. Flip to right side up. Allow the cakes to cool completely before filling and icing.

Meringue Buttercream 

Ingredients
4 egg whites
2 cups white sugar
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Method
Place the egg whites and sugar into a metal bowl and set over a saucepan filled with about 5 cms of simmering water.
Heat, stirring frequently, until the temperature of the egg whites reaches 60 degrees C.  Transfer the heated egg whites and sugar to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Mix at high speed until they have reached their maximum volume, 5 to 10 minutes.
Mix on medium or medium-high speed while pinching off small pieces of butter and throwing them in. Mix in vanilla. Continue beating for about 5 minutes until the meringue and butter mixture is completely amalgamated, thick and of frosting consistency.
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Filling and Topping

Spread one of the cakes, thickly, with half the buttercream using a palette knife. top with sliced strawberries or other scarlet fruit, and a little fruit from any good marmalade. I used my homemade mandarin marmalade.

Top with the remaining cake, ice with the remaining buttercream, and decorate with berries and marmalade fruit as you fancy!

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Chocolate Mousse Meringue Cake

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Chocolate Mousse Meringue Cake is basically a vacherin with a chocolate mousse filling. Two layers of meringue are sandwiched together with Nigella’s chocolate mousse, whipped cream and strawberries.  Not for the faint hearted, and definitely not for the diet conscious!

Meringues

Ingredients

6 egg whites
1.5 cup caster sugar
A few drops of vanilla essence
1/2tsp balsamic vinegar
3 heaped tbs cocoa or to taste
150g dark chocolate

Method

Preheat oven to 150degrees C (non fan forced).

Place a sheet of baking paper on each of 2 baking trays.
Roughly mark out a circle on each  – about the diameter of a dinner plate.
Spray lightly with non-stick spray.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff.
Gradually beat in sugar, continue beating until very stiff.
Stir in vanilla and vinegar, then stir in cocoa and chopped chocolate.
Spoon onto paper circles.
Place baking trays in centre of oven.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Turn oven off, leave in oven with door ajar for further hour.

Chocolate Mousse

http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/instant-chocolate-mousse-4

When meringues are completely cool, carefully remove from baking paper.
Place 1 meringue with flat side facing up on a plate.
Spoon chocolate mousse onto meringue, top with cut strawberries and then whipped cream.
Place second meringue on top, flat side down.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Decorate with fresh berries and sprinkled chocolate as desired.

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Beef, Tomato and Pedro Ximinez Pasties + Sundried Tomato and Persian Feta Pasties

IMG_2611These winter warmers are great as portable fare and can be made as bite sized treats or more substantial picnic food.

I used store bought puff pastry sheets as I was a little short on time to make my own rough puff.

Beef, Tomato and Pedro Ximinez Pasties

The filling was some slow cooked beef cheeks, cooked in Pedro Ximinez sherry. I added in a chopped fresh tomato and and handful of chopped sundried tomatoes. I reduced the tomatoes with the cooked beef until the mixture was thick enough to be used a pastie filling.

Recipe for the beef cheeks follows.

For a dozen pasties, you would need about 1/3 of the recipe quantity. The rest is great served with mashed potato or pasta, root vegetables or green salad.

Ingredients

1.5 kg  beef cheeks
125 ml  olive oil
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 garlicky bulb, halved
1 brown onion, sliced
500 ml  Pedro Ximenez sherry
500 ml  red wine
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C or even lower if your oven is hot (like mine).

Trim the beef cheeks to neaten them up and remove any sinew and silver skin. Season well.

Heat half the olive oil in a large heavy-based baking dish over high heat. Brown the beef cheeks for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden, then remove from the pan.

Add the remaining olive oil, then add the carrot, garlic and onion and sauté over high heat for 12-15 minutes, or until well browned. Stir in the sherry, wine, bay leaves, thyme, sea salt and 500 ml water.

Reduce the heat and add the beef cheeks.  Cover and place in the oven to cook for 3-4 hours, or until the cheeks are beginning to fall apart.

The sauce from the beef cheeks should by now be reduced and glaze-like. If it needs further reducing, remove the cheeks from the baking dish, cover with foil to keep them warm and simmer the sauce over high heat on the stove top until nicely reduced.

Increase the oven to 190 degrees C. Take 3 puff pastry sheets, and using a plate as a template, cut out 12  20cm circles; you may have to gather up the trimmings and re-roll them to get all your circles. Don’t worry if you don’t get 12; just get as many as you can from the pastry sheets.

Spoon the stew on to one half of each circle. Brush the pastry edges with water, fold the other half of the pastry over the filling to form a half-moon shape and crimp well to seal.

Place the pasties on a lightly oiled baking sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Eat pasties warm or cold.IMG_2584

Sundried Tomato and Persian Feta Pasties

Simply chopped sundried tomatoes and crumble some Persian soft feta. Add a sprinkling of fresh herbs like coriander or thyme to taste.

The quantities are up to you – I used 6 sundried tomatoes and 3 small pieces of feta to make 2 large pasties from 1 pastry sheet.

Spoon the filling on to one half of each circle. Brush the pastry edges with water, fold the other half of the pastry over the filling to form a half-moon shape and crimp to seal. These pasties may open during cooking, but as the filling isn’t liquid, they stay intact.

Place the pasties on a lightly oiled baking sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. These ones are best eaten cold. IMG_2571

Chocolate and Raspberry Shortcake Slice

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I am continuing with my slice/traybake experiments. I am intrigued with their nomenclature. Slice in Australia, traybake in the UK, and my fellow blogger Revolutionary Pie
tells me they are bars in the US. Here is her blog:

http://revolutionarypie.com/

Gaining inspiration from my Berry Jam Shortcake Traybake, I had to whip up a batch of slices for a lunch so my shortcake recipe became chocolate by adding cocoa and dark chocolate pieces to the pastry and I sandwiched the shortcake with raspberries and sugar before baking.

The raspberries made the slice a bit gooey, so next time I would bake a little longer perhaps to firm up the slice.

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Ingredients

125 g unsalted butter

125 g castor sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

175 plain flour

50 g ground almonds

1/4 cup dutch cocoa

1 tsp baking powder

40g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

1/2 cup frozen raspberries

2 tbsp demerara sugar

Milk, to brush the pastry

Method

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Grease and line a medium sized square cake tin.

For the shortcake, beat the butter and castor sugar until thick and creamy. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour, almond meal, cocoa and baking powder, then stir until combined. Mix in the chopped dark chocolate. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly to just bring the mixture together. Divide the pastry in half, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each pastry portion into a square about the size of the tin, then press one square into the tin. Scatter the frozen raspberries over the pastry, making sure to leave a border around the edge. Scatter 1 tablespoon of the demerara sugar over the raspberries.

Top with the remaining pastry square and press the edges together to seal. Brush with milk and sprinkle with the remaining demerara sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes or until until the top looks firm (cover loosely with foil if browning too quickly). Cool in the tin for 20 minutes before carefully removing from the tin and cutting into slices.

Picture below is a plate of the chocolate shortcake with the berry jam shortcake traybake:IMG_2547

https://thequirkandthecool.com/2014/06/01/berry-jam-shortcake-traybake/

Chicken, Leek and Bacon Pies

IMG_2434These little pies are great portable fare when you’re on the go  – small enough to carry, substantial enough to be satisfying.

I made the pies with bought butter puff pastry. I think they would be nicer with home made rough puff pastry – I have made beef and red wine pasties with rough puff and they were really tasty.

The filling is Nigel Slater’s recipe from his Dish of the Day series from the episode Simple Treats:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01nq1yv%5B/

It’s pretty easy – you poach the chicken in milk before combining with bacon and leek.  Nigel used chicken thighs on the bone which I also used, giving the pies a lovely flavour.

Ingredients

2 chicken thighs on the bone

6 peppercorns

2 eschallots

1 bay leaf

Milk (enough to cover chicken pieces)

3 rashers of free range, chopped

15g butter

1 leek sliced

1.5 tbsp plain flour

1.5 tsp Dijon mustard

1 packet of Careme butter puff pasyry

1 egg beaten, for glazing

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees C.

Place the chicken, peppercorns, eschallots and bay leaf in a saucepan. Cover with the milk. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.

Put the bacon in a large frying pan with the butter, add the sliced leek and cook until the leek is soft.

When the chicken is cooked, remove from the milk and pull the meat form the bone. Put into the frying pan with the leek and bacon.

Add the flour and cook for about two minutes then add the milk through a sieve to remove peppercorns and bay leaf. Add the Dijon mustard. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.

Roll out the puff pastry on a board. Cut circles from the puff pastry  with a cutter or plate as guide, big enough to line the holes in a regular muffin tin. Grease the holes, and gently ease the pastry circles into the holes. Brush each pastry circle with the egg wash.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the pastry is lightly brown and puffed. Remove from the oven to cool.

Fill the pastry cases with a generous amount of the filling.  Try not to fill the cases with too much sauce. These pies need to be eaten with fingers so they shouldn’t be too runny!

Cut out circles from the remaining puff pastry, big enough to cover each pie. These pies are rustic, so a perfect lid isn’t important. Brush the lids with more egg wash.

Return the pies to the oven for another 10 minutes or until the pastry lids are lightly brown and puffed.

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Caramel Walnut Slice

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Another slice recipe! This recipe is adapted from the May 2014 issue of delicious. magazine in a feature on slices. A caramel topping, crunchy with chopped walnuts, on top of a pastry base. The topping is a little bit soft and gooey, making it almost like a walnut tart.

Perhaps I’ll try converting the slice into a tart next!

Ingredients

Base

125g softened butter

2 tbls icing sugar

150g self raising flour

Topping

2 eggs

250g brown sugar

100g walnuts, chopped

90g desiccated coconut

2 tbls extra flour

Method

Preheat oven to 170degrees C. Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper, leaving an overhang of paper on the sides.

Combine the base ingredients in a food processor and whizz until a soft pastry like dough forms.

Press the dough into the baking tin and bake for 15-20 minutes until just golden brown.

Whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add in remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Pour the mixture over the baked base, return to the oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the topping is set.

Cool in the baking tin then cut into slices to serve.

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Berry Jam Shortcake Traybake

IMG_2306Traybakes or slices are my current baking obsession. Portable, easy to whip up, and always popular, they suit my life at the moment where I need to create something sweet on a regular basis for the hungry hordes or just to keep this quirky writer sane!

So I have adapted my shortcake recipe as a traybake. I left out the whole fruit and just used jam. I cooked for a fraction longer to ensure the bake was firm when sliced. And of course I substituted a square tin instead of a tart mold.

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Ingredients

125 g unsalted butter

125 g castor sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

175 plain flour

50 g ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

4 tbls good whole strawberry conserve

2 tbls good raspberry jam

Milk, to brush the pastry

1 tbsp demerara sugar

2 tbsp flaked almonds

Method

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Grease and line a medium sized square cake tin.

For the shortcake, beat the butter and castor sugar until thick and creamy. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour, almond meal and baking powder, then stir until combined. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly to just bring the mixture together. Divide the dough in half, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough portion into a square about the size of the tin, then press one square into the tin. Spoon the strawberry conserve over the dough, then the raspberry jam, leaving a small border around the edge.

Top with the remaining dough square and press the edges together to seal. Brush with milk and sprinkle with demerara sugar and flaked almonds.

Bake for 30 minutes or until until golden (cover loosely with foil if browning too quickly). Cool in the tin for 20 minutes before carefully removing from the tin and cutting into slices. IMG_2286

 

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