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Monthly Archives: July 2022

Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake, the food of the gods or at least, the angels! A couple of years ago I had never made this beautiful cake, so I decided I needed to give it ago. I’ve made it a few times since, as a special occasion cake.

I’m re-visiting a previous post, just to show you that it’s quite possible to make this cake without too much experience, provided you follow a few simple guidelines, which I’ve listed below.

The result is of course, sublime!

Angel food cake is notable because it contains no fat and no egg yolks. In fact, it’s basically egg whites, sugar and flour, with cream of tartar. It also needs to be cooked in a special angel food cake tin.

I did a heap of research online to find out how to bake this cake. There are several things you need to do for cake success:

*Acquire an angel food cake tin for a start, and learn how to use the tin.

The tin should be 25cm/10in in diameter.

*Don’t grease the tin!

*Cool the cake upside down, the tin being supported on its own legs.

*Treat your egg whites in the mixture with care. Whisk the egg whites until aerated and foamy but not dry. After adding the sugar, whisk into soft but not stiff peaks. The egg white mixture will continue to expand in the oven. Stiff peaks may deflate in the oven.

My recipe is developed from very helpful instructions from the Queen of Cakes, Mary Berry, link here and Sally’s Baking Addiction, link here. Both food writers explain the science of the angel food cake clearly with understandable instructions.

Angel food cake is best served with cream and fruit or a sauce. It would be tricky to ice the cake as it’s so delicate, so it’s usually served plain.

I served this particular cake with lots of strawberries and raspberries, and berry whipped cream – whipped cream mixed with some berry jam and then piped onto the cake in swirls.

An angelic dusting of icing sugar makes this a truly heavenly cake to eat!

Ingredients 

Cake

125g plain flour

300g caster sugar

10 large free-range egg whites

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

½ teaspoon salt

To serve

250mls whipping cream

1-2 tablespoons of any berry jam – strawberry, raspberry or blueberry, or a mixture

250g strawberries

250g raspberries

Icing sugar, to dust 

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, 180 degrees C non fan forced.  Make sure you have an oven shelf positioned in the lower third of the oven. 

Sift the flour and salt and add to a food processor. Pulse them with 100g of the caster sugar. This will aerate the dry ingredients to help create a light cake texture.

Whisk the 10 egg whites in an electric stand mixer on a high speed for one minute until frothy. Add the lemon juice, cream of tartar and salt and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes, or until foamy peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Increase the speed, and add the remaining 200g of caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time to form firm, but not stiff peaks. You will end up with a big volume of meringue mixture.

Sprinkle over one third of the flour/sugar mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. Repeat with the next third of the mixture and then the last third. Be very careful to fold the flour/sugar mixture gently to keep as much air in the angel food mixture as possible.

Carefully spoon the mixture into an angel food cake tin. Do not grease the tin! There is a lot of mixture to get into the tin. Once in the tin, gently run a knife through the centre of the mixture to remove any pockets of air. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. The cake should be pale brown and should have risen slightly. If the egg whites have been over beaten, or the mixture stirred too aggressively, the baked cake can sink.

Take out of the oven and turn the tin upside down onto the tin’s cooling legs on the bench top. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for at least an hour, two is ideal.

Once the cake is cool, run a knife around the outer edge of the cake tin, and also the inner edge around the centre insert, to remove it from the tin. 

Turn the tin over and invert onto a plate. Remove the centre insert, and very carefully run a palette knife between the cake and the base of the tin to separate the cake from the base.  Being very careful, turn the cake right side up and place on a wire rack to cool.

Once cool, very delicately turn the cake right side up and place on a serving plate.

To serve:

Whip the cream until fairly stiff, but don’t overwhip or you’ll end up with butter! Put into a piping bag, and swirl your berry jam of choice into the cream. Pipe swirls or rosettes, if you’re being fancy, around the diameter of the cake.

Pile lots of strawberries and raspberries into the centre of the angel food cake.

Dust liberally with icing sugar over the whole cake.

Rosewater and Lime Cakes

I love making little cakes, and I like to make cakes in different sizes and shapes.

I’m a great collector of molds for cakes, and my collection is always growing… I picked up these little rose molds made by Nordicware some time ago. They are perfect for little cakes for afternoon tea or even for a dessert.

While they are very pretty the molds do need careful management in order that the cakes don’t stick. I use this method – I butter the molds well, sprinkle them with flour, and freeze them for 15 minutes or so. This seems to do the trick.

However you could make these cakes in any fancy molds or in a muffin pan.

Something else that I do with these cakes, is to use buttermilk. I find this gives the cakes a really lovely flavour and I think perhaps helps them to keep well.

And lime and rosewater is a beautiful combination!

Ingredients

Little Rose Cakes

125g butter

125g caster sugar

Zest of 1/2 lime

2 large free-range eggs

200g plan flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

125mls buttermilk

Icing

100g icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon rosewater

Juice of 1/4 lime

A drop of pink food colouring

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. You can make this little cakes in any fancy molds you have on hand. I made these in Nordicware rose molds, but you could use any standard 12 cup muffin pan.

Butter and flour your molds – if you’re using any kind of fancy molds, you will need to butter and flour them very well as I mentioned in the introduction.

Cream the butter and sugar in electric mixer with the lime zest. Add the eggs and beat until well mixed. Add the plain flour and baking powder plus the buttermilk, and gently mix until just incorporated.

Place the tin in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and golden on top.

Cool the cakes in their molds or muffin pan for 5 minutes, then carefully remove from the molds or muffin pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.

In a bowl, mix together the icing sugar, rosewater, lime juice and pink food colouring and beat well. If the icing is too soft, or runny, then add more icing sugar to get the desired consistency.

However you don’t want the icing too thick, as this is more of a glaze than an icing. You want the beautiful rose shapes of the molds to be visible!

Drizzle over the little rose cakes, serve as is for afternoon tea, or with a dollop of cream as a dessert.

Raspberry and Rosewater Cake

If you follow this blog at all, you may realise I’m pretty keen on rosewater as an ingredient. I love its floral, heady flavour, with mysterious overtones of the exotic Middle East.

A great pairing with rosewater is raspberries. This recipe is something quite simple that anyone can make.

I got the idea for the recipe by adapting a great recipe from the “Queen of Baking” Mary Berry. Mary has a recipe for a Victoria Sponge that is ultra simple. Mary uses baking spread, not butter in her sponge. As a butter aficionado, I would have said “Oh no!” But I trust Mary, and I made the cake with baking spread. And it works! As Mary says it makes a really light sponge.

So I have been adapting and tweaking the recipe for different cakes in different sizes. This version uses three quarters of the original quantity.

But if you don’t like baking spread, by all means use butter. Just make sure it’s soft, or it won’t cream properly.

Ingredients

170g baking spread (I use Nuttelex, an Australian brand)

170g caster sugar

3 free-range eggs

170g self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon rosewater

125g frozen raspberries

2 teaspoons plain flour, for the raspberries

Icing

Juice of half a lemon, or enough to make a soft icing

150g icing sugar

A few drops of pink food colouring, enough to make a rose pink icing

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Butter a 22cm spring form tin and line the base with baking paper.

Cream the baking spread and caster sugar in an electric mixer. Add the eggs and 1 tablespoon of the flour, and mix well. (This is to stop the egg, sugar and butter curdling).

Add the rest of the flour and baking powder, and mix until incorporated. Don’t overmix, or the cake will be tough.

Stir in the rosewater. Sprinkle the raspberries with the flour and gently fold through.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and smooth the top.

Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before carefully turning out onto a cake rack.

For the icing, add the lemon juice to the icing sugar in a small bowl and mix well. You may need less or more lemon juice. You want a soft icing that will stay on the cake and not drip off. Add the food colouring carefully, you don’t want a lurid cake!

Serve in its own, or decorate with whatever you have to hand, in my case some dried rosebuds and rose pink glitter powder. Probably fresh raspberries would be just as nice!

Keto Pork Pies

I have a friend who is on a strict keto diet. I often make recipes that are naturally keto friendly or adapting ingredients to make the recipe fit the requirements.

Hearty beef or lamb stews are easy, provided you leave out the root vegetables. Chilli beef is always a winner!

My friend is very partial to pork pies. So they are definitely on the “to bake” list! Now pork pies are notoriously tricky to make with hot water pastry. And if you hand raise the pastry, that’s really challenging!

You need to adapt the pastry with keto friendly ingredients. And it’s still a hot water crust pastry which is more difficult to handle than ordinary pastry. However this recipe doesn’t require hand raising. Simply bake in large muffin molds, or small pie molds as I did.

The keto pastry is not that difficult to handle and the resulting crust is quite delicious!

Ingredients

Filling

2 rashers bacon

300g pork shoulder

4 spring onions or 1 medium onion

A small handful each of thyme and sage

1/2 teaspoon chilli paste or chilli powder

Salt and pepper

Hot water crust pastry

200 grams almond flour

200 grams oat bran

1 ½ teaspoon guar or xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

Ground black pepper

60 grams butter

60 grams lard

200 grams water

1 free range egg

Jelly

1 gelatine platinum leaf

125 mls chicken or vegetable stock

1 free range egg, beaten, for glazing.

Method

Butter the pork pie molds well. Large muffin molds work well.

Chop the bacon rashers and the pork shoulder roughly, and put in a food processor. Add the spring onion or onion also roughy chopped, and the thyme, sage, chilli and salt and pepper.

Blitz in the food processor, until the ingredients are combined. Don’t over process. You want a pork mince, not a paste.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C fan forced.

Meanwhile, make the pastry. Mix the almond flour, oat bran, guar or xanthan gum, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Lightly whisk the egg, make a well in the centre, put in the egg and mix in. Don’t worry if you can’t mix in properly – you will get clumps.

Put the butter, lard and water in a saucepan over a low heat and cook until the butter and lard are fully melted.

Turn the heat up and bring the liquid to the boil, and as soon as it starts boiling, carefully pour all the liquid into the flour mixture. You will need to stir everything together quite quickly while the mixture is still warm. Make sure everything is combined.

This mixture will make 6 pies, so divide the mixture into 6 large balls for the pie bottoms and 6 smaller balls for the pie lids.

Press each of the larger balls of dough into the molds, pushing the dough down into the molds and up the sides. Make sure there are no holes.

Divide the pork mix into 6 portions and put each portion inside the pastry bottoms. Leave a space at the top, for the jelly.

Using your fingers, stretch the small balls of dough into circles to fit the top of the pies for the lids.

Brush some beaten egg around the edges of the pies. Place the dough lids on top of the pies, and gently press all around the edges to stick the lids and bottoms together.

Brush the pork pie tops with more beaten egg, and make a hole in the centre of the pies.

Put the pies in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, and egg wash the tops again. Put back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Take the pork pies from the oven and allow them to cool inside the molds.

Meanwhile, dissolve the gelatine leaf in the hot stock. Pour the stock slowly inside the pork pies through the hole in the lids until they are full. Let the stock soak in for a moment, then pour in a little more stock.

Put the pies in the fridge for a few hours for the jelly to set.

Serve at room temperature with plenty of your favourite chutney or relish, and maybe a few pickles on the side.

Moroccan Winter Soup

This is a hearty warming winter soup that is redolent with fragrant Moroccan spices. The base is root vegetables, and their robust flavours work well with the spice mix.

It’s pretty easy – bake the veggies with the spices, then transfer to a saucepan to cook a little more, then blend to soup consistency.

The root vegetables can be varied, but you definitely need some “orange” vegetables like pumpkin or carrots.

A note on the spices. As well as that beautiful spice sumac, I included ras al hanout or baharat. These are Middle Eastern spice mixes. Either mix is good – use whatever you can get your hands on.

Ingredients

500g pumpkin

500g carrots

250g sweet potatoes

250g swede

2 onions cut into chunks

4 -5 garlic cloves

2 teaspoon of ras al hanout or baharat

1 teaspoon sumac

Sea salt and ground black pepper

30mls olive oil

1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock

Method

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C fan forced.

Peel the vegetables and chop into rough chunks.

Put all the vegetables into a large baking tray, sprinkle over the spices and salt and pepper. Pour over the olive oil. Mix well, making sure everything is coated with oil.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot or saucepan. Place on the stovetop. Add the stock, and bring to a medium boil.

Cook for 5 minutes to amalgamate the veggies and stock. Using a stick blender, blitz in the saucepan until you have a good soup consistency, still a bit chunky. Or you could put the soup in a blender and process.

Serve with crusty bread, preferably sourdough. You could add a dash of yoghurt and a sprinkle of thyme or coriander for added zhush!

The soup freezes and reheats well.

Swedish Cardamom Buns

A very exciting time in the Quirk and the Cool kitchen! I have recently acquired an Akarsrum mixer from the incredible people at Blackwood Lane in Melbourne in Victoria. It’s Swedish, and an incredibly efficient and powerful machine, particularly for producing dough.

So it seemed appropriate to make something Swedish for the first use of the machine!

I love sweet rolls, scrolls and buns, but I haven’t yet made kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) or kardemummabullar (cardamom buns).

This recipe is adapted from the Ankarsrum cook book, and is technically a cinnamon bun recipe. But I think the cardamom flavour is outstanding, so I’m calling these cardamom buns.

The Ankarsrum performed well with making the enriched dough. And making and shaping the knots was pretty easy.

Well done to my Ankarsrum mixer!

Here is my tweaked recipe for the rolls. I halved the quantities and added in a whole egg. You might like to bake at a slightly lower temperature. I baked the rolls pictured at 220 degrees C which was a little too hot.

It goes without saying that you could follow this recipe in a KitchenAid or similar.

Dough

Ingredients

75g softened butter

50g sugar

1 free-range egg, beaten

250mls milk

420g strong flour

1 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds

7g instant yeast

7g salt

Filling

100g very soft butter

100g sugar

1/2 beaten free-range egg, for brushing

2 teaspoons Demerara or raw sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Method

Mix the soft butter, sugar and egg together in your mixer, to just incorporate. Add the milk, and mix to combine.

Put the flour into a bowl, and stir in the ground cardamom seeds. Put the yeast on top of the flour, and the salt on the opposite side.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture a little at a time to the mixer bowl. Continue to knead until the dough is soft and elastic and passes the window pane test.

Cover the dough with a plastic bag, towel or my favourite, a plastic shower cap. Leave to prove in a warm place for 1 hour.

Meanwhile make the filling by mixing the butter, sugar and cinnamon together with a palette knife until it’s a smooth paste.

The dough should now have doubled in size. Remove the dough and place on a floured board or bench. Gently roll the dough to a large rectangle about 45 x 30 cm.

Spread the filling over the whole rectangle. Halve the rectangle, putting the long sides together, to make a smaller rectangle 45 x15 cm. Cut into 12 strips. You will have enough dough to trim the uneven ends. You can bake these as scraps!

Pull each strip lengthwise, twist several times, and form into a knot. There are videos on YouTube that can help you if you’re not sure – that’s what I used.

Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, cover with a large plastic bag or tea towel, and leave to prove for an hour.

15 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 220 degrees C, or 210 degrees C if you want your buns less “well done”.

Brush the proved buns with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Place the baking tray into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Serve them warm as is or spread with a little salted butter.

Best eaten on the day, but they microwave beautifully a day or so later!

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