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Category Archives: Cakes

Little Strawberry and Blood Orange Cakes

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9AE196DF-0973-4F12-819A-5DE78E2DBF1EI’m a big fan of the little cake – delicious cakes in different shapes and sizes, filled with fruit and drizzled with a little icing. Perfect for afternoon tea.

I’ve been experimenting with different recipes and baking molds with varying success. I’ve come to the conclusion that too much fruit in the filling can make the little cakes fragile and hard to turn out. It’s also imperative to grease the molds really, really well to stop the cakes sticking.

Here’s a recipe that works. It’s pretty easy as it’s all made in the food processor. You can use whatever fruit you like – I chose strawberries as they are plentiful at the moment, and blood oranges as they are in season. You could substitute the blood orange juice with ordinary orange juice or lemon juice if you like.

Ingredients

125ml canola oil
175g sugar
1 egg
140g natural yoghurt
Juice of 1/2 blood orange
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 tsp vanilla paste
150g self-raising flour
100g frozen strawberries
150g icing sugar
Juice of 1/2 blood orange
1 tsp orange blossom water

Or substitute the juice of 1/2 lemon for lemon icing

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Grease and flour your chosen molds. Depending on the size of the molds, you should get 6-8 cakes from the mixture. I used mini bundt molds and some Nordic ware rose molds.

Put the oil, caster sugar and egg into a food processor and blitz until well combined. Add the yoghurt, blood orange juice, orange blossom water and vanilla paste, and blitz again. Add the flour and pulse to combine.

Finely chop the frozen strawberries and stir them through the mixture. Spoon the mixture into the molds.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.

Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a rack, easing the little cakes out of the molds trying not to break them!

To make the icing, put the icing sugar in a bowl with the blood orange juice and orange blossom water, or lemon juice. Stir to combine to make a smooth flowing icing. If the icu g is too runny, add more icing sugar, if it’s thick, add a little more juice.

Drizzle the icing over the cakes – letting it drip down the sides. Decorate with slices of fresh strawberry and blood orange. I scattered over some freeze dried strawberry powder too. Serve at afternoon tea or anytime you like!

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Pear and Hazelnut Tart – Jamie Cooks Italy

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C42A5815-2EC1-4519-AA14-8C654E97581FI’ve just acquired Jamie Oliver’s new book, Jamie Cooks Italy. It’s beautiful! A wealth of fantastic recipes which highlight the breadth and depth of Italian cooking. Here is a link to the book.

I couldn’t wait to start my baking, so this weekend I made a lovely chicken dish, “Chicken under a Brick”. More of this in a later post!

I also baked “Pear and Hazelnut Tart”, a twist on a classic frangipane tart. The frangipane is made with hazelnuts rather than almonds. You process whole hazelnuts, so the texture is quite gritty compared with traditional almond or hazelnut meal. Pears are baked on top of the frangipane. The pastry and frangipane are both flavoured with orange zest, which adds to the piquancy of the tart.

Here’s Jamie’s recipe as is. A couple of notes – I roll the pastry between clingfilm as this is far easier and less messy than the traditional way! I also substituted baking paper for non-PVC clingfilm in order to bake the tart blind, as I’m not sure you can get the latter in Australia.

Ingredients 

2 oranges
275g unsalted butter (cold)
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 large free-range eggs
Olive oil
150g blanched hazelnuts
150g golden caster sugar
3 firm pears

Method

To make the pastry, finely grate the zest of 1 orange into a food processor, add 125g of butter, the flour, icing sugar, vanilla paste and l egg, then pulse until it comes together into a ball of dough. Wrap in clingfilm and pop into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Lightly oil a 25cm non-stick loose-bottomed tart tin. Preheat the oven to l80 degrees C.

On a flour-dusted surface, roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick, then loosely roll it up around the rolling pin and unroll over the oiled tin, easing and pushing it carefully into the sides. Trim off any excess patch up any holes. Line with a double layer of non-PVC clingfilm, then fill with uncooked rice. Bake blind for IS minutes. Remove the clingfilm and rice, bake for a further 5 minutes, then leave to cool.

For the frangipane, blitz the nuts into a fine powder in the food processor. Add the remaining 150g of butter and the caster sugar and blitz again to combine. Finely grate in the remaining orange zest, crack in the remaining 2 eggs and blitz again. Just before assembling, peel the pears, quarter lengthways and remove the cores, then toss in the juice of half an orange.

Spoon the frangipane into the pastry case in an even layer, then arrange the pear quarters on top. Bake at time bottom of the oven for 40 minutes, or until golden. Leave for 5 minutes in the tin, then release and serve warm. Nice with orange-spiked crème fraîche and crumbled toasted hazelnuts.

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Quince Tart: Free-form Style

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74EC71E1-AE14-4F34-95CC-8B26D4CC3439It’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and in Sydney we’re experiencing a really crisp winter, which I love, as I’m a fan of the cold weather.

Quinces are in season and I make a few quince recipes at this time of year. One of my favourites is baked quince with crumble, slices of slowly baked quince with a crumble topping and thick cream.

Quinces go well with pastry, so I recently made a rustic quince tart, a simple sweet short crust pastry base, baked free-form, topped with cookedquince.

The pastry recipe is from a recipe for Red Apple Rustic Tart,  and the baked quince is adapted from a recipe for Quince Shortcake.

Ingredients

For the quinces:

2 quinces
100g caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

For the pastry:

1 3/4 cups plain flour
170 grams butter
1 tablespoon sugar plus extra for sprinkling
A good pinch of salt
2 tablespoons ice cold water

Method

Baked quinces:

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.  Peel the quinces, halve lengthways and remove cores. Cut in slices and put the slices in a small baking dish. Scatter over sugar and squeeze over the lemon juice.

Cover tightly with a doubled sheet of foil. Bake the quinces for 2-3 hours, basting a few times through the process, until the quinces are soft and a ruby red colour. Remove from the dish to cool.

Pastry:

Pulse flour, butter, sugar and salt in food processor, until the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Add enough iced water to bring the pastry together – be careful not to over mix.

Wrap the pastry in cling film and refrigerate for 20 -30 minutes.

To make the tart:

Turn the oven up to 170 degrees C.  Butter a baking dish. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out between 2 sheets of cling film. Remove from the cling film and drape over the baking dish, shaping rough sides inside the dish. This is a free-form tart so there is no need to make it look “pretty” or too even.

Place the baked quince slices on top of the pastry higgledy piggledy, the more rustic the better. Sprinkle the additional sugar liberally over the edges of the pastry.

Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden brown.

Serve warm with whipped cream or thick Greek yoghurt.9AD45771-6D98-40E5-8FB1-B3C89C8BEA88

 

 

Ottolenghi Strawberry and Vanilla Mini-Cakes

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65A6C6F5-BF69-48B7-819F-A414FCDB6DC0I love little cakes, and I’m always keen to find recipes for something other than cupcakes.

Yotam Ottolenghi in his lovely book Sweet, written with another great cook Helen Goh, has a number of recipes for all kinds of little cakes. Many of the cakes are made with ground almonds, making them moist and delicious.

These Strawberry and Vanilla Mini-Cakes are very fragrant with fresh strawberries and vanilla. The cakes are quite dense and would be great on their own. The strawberry icing however, adds piquancy, but be careful as it’s quite runny!

Here’s the recipe from Sweet. Ottolenghi suggests making the cakes in a pop-over or giant muffin tin, giving you 12, or if you make them in regular muffin tins you will end up with 18.

I decorated the cakes with freeze dried strawberry powder instead of freeze dried whole berries.

Ingredients 

1 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp/ 250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups/250 g granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

scraped seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod

4 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup/120 g self-rising flour, plus extra for dusting

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/3 cups/140 g almond meal

7 oz/200 g fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/3 inch/1-cm dice

Strawberry Icing

2 oz/55 g fresh strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped

2 1/2 cups/300 g confectioners’ sugar

1 tbsp light corn syrup

scraped seeds of  1/4 vanilla pod

6 whole strawberries (or 9 if using a regular muffin pan) cut in half lengthwise, or 2 tbsp freeze-dried chopped strawberries, to garnish

Method

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Grease and flour the molds of your chosen pans.

Place the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla seeds in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on medium speed until light, then add the eggs, a little at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times as you go. (Adding the eggs gradually should prevent the mix from splitting, but don’t worry too much if it does, it might look a bit curdled, but this will not affect the final result.)

Continue to beat until fully combined. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then stir in the almond meat. Turn the speed of the mixer to medium-low, then add the dry ingredients in three batches and finally fold in the diced strawberries.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared molds – it should come about three-quarters of the way up the sides (about two-thirds in a regular muffin pan). Bake for about 22 minutes (about 20 minutes in a regular muffin pan), rotating the pan halfway  through, until a skewer inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes before easing the cakes out of the molds. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the strawberry icing, place all the icing ingredients in a food processor and process together until smooth.

Drizzle the tops of the upside-down cakes with the icing, allowing it to drip down the sides. If desired, garnish with half a strawberry on each cake, cut side facing up, or a sprinkle of dried strawberries.

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Mandarin Hazelnut Cake

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Everyone loves the famous Orange Almond Cake, Claudia Roden’s recipe from her book A New Book of Middle Eastern Food. 

It’s gluten and dairy free, and that is why in Australia it’s the staple of many cafes and restaurants,  although I would hazard a guess that not many people would know of its origin! I started cooking this recipe many years ago and I still have the original Book of Middle Eastern Food, albeit well thumbed and food stained..

In this recipe I have changed the two main ingredients. I substituted mandarins for oranges and hazelnuts for almonds. I still follow the basic recipe, cooking the mandarins whole and blitzing them in the food processor. I also halved the ingredients to make a smaller cake – it’s still a decent size.

The result was a fragrant mandarin scented cake, that was very nutty – I encouraged the nuttiness by roasting the ground hazelnuts first.

For a version of the original, see here for this SBS recipe.

Ingredients

3 small mandarins, washed

150g ground hazelnuts

125 g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting

3 free-range eggs

1 tsp baking powder

Whole hazelnuts for decorating

Candied mandarin segments and peel for decorating*

Dark chocolate for drizzling

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan-forced. Grease  and line the base of a 18cm springform cake tin with baking paper. You don’t need to line the sides – just grease well.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Wash the mandarins and cook in the boiling water for about 1/2 hour, or until soft.

While the mandarins are cooking, spread the ground  hazelnuts on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes until the hazelnuts are lightly toasted and smelling nutty!

Remove the mandarins and allow to cool to room temperature, then put the whole mandarins in a food processor and blitz to a rough purée.

Put the caster sugar and eggs into the food processor and pulse.

Add the ground hazelnuts and baking powder, and pulse quickly to mix.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1-1¼ hours, until  a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool before carefully removing the sides from the springform tin. If you can remove the cake from the base, that’s great – but if it’s too moist, don’t worry!

Decorate, if you like, with whole hazelnuts and candied mandarin pieces and peel. Serve with cream, sour cream or creme fraiche.

 

*To candy the mandarin segments and peel, make a sugar syrup by dissolving 3 tablespoons of sugar in 3 tablespoons of water, and bring to the boil. Put mandarin segments and finely sliced peel in the syrup and cook for about 5 minutes, then remove and drain on baking paper.

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Orange Pistachio Cake

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0E31CC2B-1514-4526-BB02-13F098CBAA18Recently I was at lunch at a friend’s – the energetic Mrs B! She made a beautiful lunch, the piece de resistance of which was a gorgeous orange and pistachio cake, based on a recipe from Philippa Grogran’s and Richard Cornish’s wonderful book Phillippa’s Home Baking. The link to the book is here.

The original recipe is for Lemon Pistachio Cake, but Mrs B made it with oranges. She also served the cake surrounded with orange slices.

Here’s my interpretation of Mrs B’s version of Phillippa’s cake! The photos are of the wonderful cake that Mrs B served.

Ingredients 
40g unsalted pistachios
300g cultured butter – softened (cultured butter is readily available now in supermarkets)
240g caster sugar
4  free-range eggs
A pinch of salt
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod
Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
130g ground pistachios 
90g ground almonds
40g arrowroot flour or cornflour

Syrup topping
Finely grated zest & juice of 1 large orange
50g caster sugar

Orange slices, to serve.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Line the base of a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.

Spread out the pistachios on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 8 minutes.  Remove and rub in a clean tea towel to remove the skins, then roughly chop.  Set aside until you make the syrup.  Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/145°C fan-forced.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.  Add the salt, vanilla seeds and orange zest and mix well, then gently fold through the ground nuts and flour, a third at a time.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 1 hour 10 minutes – 1 hour 25 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and rest in the tin for 5 minutes before placing a plate over the tin and upturning the cake onto the plate.  Gently peel off the lining paper from the bottom of the cake.  Place another plate on the bottom of the cake and upturn the cake again so it is right-side up.

To make the syrup topping, place the orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes or until slightly thickened and syrupy, but fresh and tangy in flavour.  Stir in the chopped pistachios and orange zest, then spoon evenly over the cake while it is still warm.

Peel 3 oranges carefully, making sure you remove all the pith. Slice thinly, and surround the cake, spooning any remaining syrup over the orange slices.

This cake will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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Little Ginger Caramel Cheesecakes

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31CFED5D-F980-41F1-9953-28FE10746308Cheesecake! A big favourite, but an indulgence I enjoy in moderation, as it’s SO moreish I can eat too much…

So mini cheesecakes are the perfect sweet treat to end a meal or a as little pick me-up at afternoon tea time.

The recipe is my go-to recipe for baked cheesecake, blogged here many times. I substituted mascarpone for cream cheese, for no other reason than I had some in the fridge and thought it would go well in cheesecake!

I added crystallized ginger to my little cheesecakes as well as ginger caramel, but plain caramel would be fine too.

To serve, I put some chunks of fresh pineapple on the top of each little cheesecake. This complemented the ginger flavour beautifully!

Ingredients

Crumb Crust
230g sweet biscuits (half plain, half ginger nut)
1/2 level teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 level teaspoon cinnamon
85g butter

Mascarpone Filling
500g mascarpone
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbls ginger or plain caramel or dulche de leche (jar or tin is fine, don’t bother making it)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 free-range eggs
6 pieces crystallized ginger (a small handful), chopped finely  + extra for decorating

Pineapple chunks to decorate

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 170 degrees fan-forced.

Butter individual molds with a removable base, see photo. If you don’t have these molds, you could use ordinary muffin or cupcake  molds. You would just need to be careful easing them out of the molds.

I filled 8 of my removable bottom molds. You would fill at least 8 or even 10 ordinary muffin molds.

Crush biscuits very finely in a food processor and add the nutmeg and cinnamon. Melt butter in a saucepan, remove from heat and quickly stir in the biscuit crumbs.

Press firmly into greased molds, covering the bases with a good layer of biscuit crumb.

Put mascarpone, sugar and caramel in the food processor and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, whizzing after each addition.  Stir in the crystallized ginger pieces.

Pour mixture into the individual molds on top of the biscuit crumb bases.  Fill each mold to about 3/4 full.  Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the cheesecake is just set. Remove from oven and leave to cool completely.

Carefully remove each cheesecake from its mold. Store in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight to completely firm up.

Serve cold, with chunks of pineapple on top of each cheesecake, and extra slivers of crystallized ginger. You could drizzle a little warmed caramel over the top too, for a truly caramel experience!

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