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Category Archives: Dessert

Brioches Filled With Cream and a Golden Syrup Topping

Brioche, rich and buttery. Not quite cake, not quite bread. Cream buns, oozing with whipped cream and jam. So why not combine the two? This was my thinking when I was baking a few weeks back.

It was ANZAC Day in Sydney, and I felt bad about not baking my usual batch of ANZAC biscuits. Keen to further extend my baking skills in enriched dough, I had the bright idea of making brioche and topping with a mixture of golden syrup, oats and coconut as a nod to the aforementioned biscuit.

Then I thought, what about filling each brioche with whipped cream like a cream bun? Even better!

And yes, it worked a treat. Cream filled brioches with a golden syrup topping. Yummy!

When you try something for the first time, particularly if it’s a tricky yeast based recipe, you need to go to an expert for guidance. Once you’ve mastered the technique, then you can do a little bit of experimentation.

I went to baking guru Paul Hollywood’s recipe for brioche and then added the topping and filling ingredients. Here’s the recipe, with my tweaks.

Ingredients

500g strong white flour
50g caster sugar
10g instant yeast
7g salt
140ml full-fat milk
6 free-range eggs, one of these eggs beaten for egg wash
250g unsalted butter, softened

250ml cream for whipping
1/2 cup golden syrup + extra for drizzling
A couple of tablespoons of rolled oats
A tablespoon of coconut shavings

Method

Put the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, milk and five eggs into a free-standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix for about 5 minutes to a smooth dough.

Add the butter to the dough and mix for a further 5 minutes in the mixer. Leaving the dough in the bowl, cover and leave in the fridge overnight.

The dough should now be stiff and easily shaped.

Grease 12 fluted brioche moulds. You may even have some mixture over, in which case you can bake as brioche rolls.

Cut the dough into 50g pieces. Roughly shape each piece of dough into a ball and put each one into the greased fluted brioche moulds. If you don’t have moulds, you could use a regular muffin pan. Or you can simply shape the dough pieces into balls and bake as rolls.

Leave the brioches in a warm place to rise for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200C degrees C. Brush each brioche with the egg wash and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden-brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, whip the cream and chill the whipped cream in the fridge. In a small saucepan, heat the golden syrup, rolled oats and coconut shavings until the golden syrup is runny and costs the oats and coconut.

When the brioches are quite cool, cut in half. Pipe or spoon some whipped cream onto the bottom halves, enough to ooze out the sides a little. Place the tops back on. Drizzle the golden syrup/oat/coconut mixture over the tops as much or as little as you desire.

Serve with more drizzles of golden syrup. I like to set the tops of some of the brioches at a jaunty angle, making them look a little bit like open scallop shells, or so I think!

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Apple and Lemon Thyme Galette

I love quick and easy cakes and desserts and this one certainly is. My rustic apple galette is easy to prepare and looks pretty, in a rustic kind of way!

This version was helped by using a mixture of apples I picked up at The Loch in Berrima, in the beautiful Southern Highlands. The Loch grows and sells wonderful produce and has a great restaurant too. The apples were spectacular. Some of them even had pink flesh, as you can see from the photos. I wish I knew what the variety was. I’ll ask next time I’m there.

The galette is also enhanced by baking some lemon thyme sprigs with the apples and scattering some crystallised lemon thyme sprigs over the finished galette.

This galette would work with any kind of short crust pastry. My version is based on the sour cream pastry of the wonderful cook Maggie Beer. I sometimes substitute Greek yoghurt for sour cream, as I did this time. However, I find this creates a softer, more delicate pastry. It’s consequently a little harder to handle. Up to you what kind of pastry you use. Good store-bought short crust is fine too!

Ingredients

Pastry
200g butter chilled
250g plain flour
125ml sour cream or Greek yoghurt

3 red apples, whatever you fancy. Crisp apples like Pink Lady are excellent
Lemon juice
1 free-range egg yolk, beaten, for glazing
Several sprigs of lemon thyme
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 free-range egg white, lightly beaten

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Cut the butter into cubes and pulse with the flour in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Spoon in the sour cream or yoghurt and continue to pulse in bursts until the mixture comes together into a ball.

Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Core and slice the apples thinly, and place the slices into the lemon juice to stop them going brown.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out between two pieces of baking paper so that it is about 2cm thick, rolling into a rough circle. Remove the top layer of baking paper and carefully transfer the pastry to your lined baking tray, by turning the pastry over and removing the bottom sheet.

Shape the round to neaten it if needed, and turn the outer edge up about 2cm in to make the sides of the galette.

Drain the apples slices and place in any artistic way you like on the tart.

Brush the 2cm edge of the galette with as much of the beaten egg as you need. Scatter some of the thyme sprigs over the galette and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar.

Place the galette in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. The galette should be golden brown around the edges.

Once out of the oven, leave to cool. To make the crystallised thyme sprigs, dip some more thyme sprigs in the beaten egg white, then dip in the remaining tablespoon of caster sugar. Leave to dry on a piece of baking paper.

Serve with the thyme sprigs scattered over, and as is, or with plenty of thick cream!

Lemon Meringue Poke Cakes

Ingredients

Little cakes
125g self-raising flour
125g caster sugar
125g butter
2 large free-range eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of half a lemon
2 tblsp milk

Lemon Curd
Juice of 2 lemons
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 free-range egg yolks, beaten lightly

Meringue
2 free-range egg whites
120g caster sugar

Method

For the cakes, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

This mixture makes 12 cupcakes, but you are looking for a larger than cupcake size in this recipe. You should get 6 good size cakes from the mixture. Liberally grease a 6 mold pan. I used my popover pan, as I love the deepness of each mold. A Texas muffin pan with 6 holes will work too.

Put all the ingredients except the milk in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the milk while pulsing to make a soft, dropping consistency.

Spoon the mixture into the molds, filling the molds equally.

Place the pan into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and golden on top.

Pop the cakes out of the molds and leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the lemon curd, place all the ingredients in a double boiler or bain marie. Cook over a medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. When cool, refrigerate until ready to use.

For the meringue, place egg whites in the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 3-4 minutes to soft peaks.

Add caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each to be incorporated before adding the next, whisking until mixture is glossy. The meringue will be shiny and will hold stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted from the bowl.

To assemble, take each cake and “poke” 3 holes in the top of each cake, using the end of a wooden spoon. Be careful as you do this, as the cake might break. The idea is to get holes big enough to pipe the lemon curd into, but the end of the wooden spoon is just a little too large for the “poking”. If you have something a little smaller, by all means use that instead.

Fill a piping bag without a nozzle with the lemon curd, and gently pipe some curd into each hole in the cakes. The aim is to fill the holes. Once each cake is filled, pipe or spoon the rest of the curd over the tops of the cakes.

Fill another piping bag also without a nozzle with the meringue. You will only need half the mixture, so you can make a few spare meringues with the remainder of the mixture. Pipe a swirl of meringue on the top of each cake. Now using a blow torch, scorch the meringue topping as little or as much as you like.

The lemon meringue cakes look good and when you cut them open or bite into them, they should ooze with lemon curd from the “poke” holes. Very delicious and quite mooreish!

Tropical Pavlova

Pavlova has to be one of my favourite desserts. I love any meringue concoction – light and fluffy pavs, meringues layered with cream, chocolate, berries or nuts like vacherin or dacquoise, or little meringues sandwiched together with cream in the form of meringue kisses. They are all delightful!

I was making a pavlova for friends recently. Everyone loves a pavlova filled with cream and strawberries, but this time I wanted to fill the pav with some seasonal flavours. There is an abundance of tropical fruit available in farmers’ markets and supermarkets at the moment, which is wonderful as we swelter through a hot, late summer in Sydney.

Pineapple, mango and passionfruit were the obvious choices. Pineapples in particular are fantastic – ripe, sweet and juicy.

I also love lemon curd as a filler for pavlova, and this time I made a passionfruit/lemon curd to top the cream and provide a base for the tropical fruit. Toasted coconut added the finishing touch!

I made the pavlova as a tranche – a long rectangle. It’s great for serving a crowd. The quantities here would also make a two layer round pavlova, or a very large round one for a party.

Ingredients

Pavlova
8 egg whites
450g caster sugar
1 teaspoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons cornflour, sifted

Passionfruit/Lemon Curd
You need one whole quantity of the curd, plus most of second quantity. I suggest making the curd in 2 lots, as I think it’s a bit tricky to make a really big amount. These are the ingredients to make 1 quantity.

Juice of 2 lemons
Juice and seeds of 2 passionfruit
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 egg yolks, beaten lightly

1 small pineapple
2 mangoes
2 passionfruit
A handful of coconut shavings

600mls cream
½ teaspoon vanilla paste

Method

Pavlova
Preheat oven to 120 degrees C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. You will need a tray large enough for a rectangle (roughly) 35cm x 20cms or 14in x 8in.

Place egg whites in the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 3-4 minutes to soft peaks.

Add caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each to be incorporated before adding the next, whisking until mixture is glossy. The meringue will be shiny and will hold stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted from the bowl. 

Reduce speed to low, then add vinegar and cornflour, beating for about 30 seconds to combine.

Spread ¾ of the mixture over the baking paper in a rectangle, smoothing the top. Place the remaining mixture in a large plastic piping bag and snip 1cm/½in off the end. Pipe the meringue onto the rectangle, in little blobs along all the sides, to make a rim.

Bake for about 1½ hours or until the meringue can be lifted easily off the paper without sticking. Turn off the oven, and leave in the oven for several hours, or even overnight, until the meringue is cold.

Passionfruit/Lemon Curd
Place all the ingredients except the passionfruit seeds in a double boiler or bain marie. Cook over a medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat, and stir through the passionfruit seeds, and set aside to cool. When cool, refrigerate until ready to use.

Cut the pineapple and mangoes into small chunks. You can, if you like, cook the pineapple in a couple of tablespoons of caster sugar and a couple of tablespoons of dark rum in a frying pan, until the pineapple is slightly softened. I think the pineapple is fine, though, without cooking.

You will need to lightly dry roast the coconut shavings in a hot frying pan for a few minutes until the coconut has some colour.

Whip the cream to soft peaks, with the vanilla paste.

To assemble, place the pavlova tranche on a large serving plate or board. Spoon the cream onto the pavlova, then top with the passionfruit/lemon curd. Place the fruit pieces on top of the curd, scattering the seeds of the other passionfruit. Finally scatter the toasted coconut over the pavlova.

The pavlova should be left for a couple of hours before serving. I think a pavlova is nicest the next day, when the flavours have had a chance to mature. A little bit messy, a little bit gooey, but definitely yummy!

Passionfruit and Lemon Ricotta Cake

This cake is pretty easy to make, looks good and keeps really well. It’s quite dense because of the ricotta, and this helps with its keeping properties. It has both self raising flour and baking powder to help with the rise as it’s heavy.

You don’t need huge slices of this cake, either, as it’s very satisfying. Great for an afternoon tea!

Oh, and it freezes beautifully, which is good to know as you can freeze left over cake to enjoy later – much better then eating it all at the one time!

Ingredients

Cake

140g softened butter 

140g caster sugar

2 free-range eggs

200g full fat ricotta

Juice of 1 medium lemon

140g self-raising flour

1 level tsp baking powder

Buttercream Icing

400g icing sugar

200g unsalted butter

2 passionfruit

75g white chocolate (optional)

Method 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced. Grease and line with baking paper a medium sized cake tin – 18cm or 20cm works well. 

Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor. You can use a stand mixer if you like – but I find the food processor does the job just fine! Add the eggs and process well, then add the ricotta and the lemon juice. Add the flour and the baking powder and pulse a few times to just incorporate the flour. Don’t worry if the cakes looks curdled either after adding the eggs or adding the ricotta – it will come together after you mix in the flour. 

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and bake for 30 – 40minutes, or until golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake in the tin until quite cool, then turn the cake out and remove the baking paper.

For the buttercream icing, I do use my KitchenAid mixer, as I think it helps to get a really light buttercream. But I have made buttercream quite successfully in the food processor too. 

Beat the butter and icing sugar in a stand mixer until light and creamy. Add the passionfruit, seeds and all. I melted white chocolate and added this to the buttercream to give the buttercream extra stability for piping, but you can easily not include the white chocolate.

You can ice the cake however you like. First of all I covered the whole cake in a load of buttercream. I went for the “naked” look on the sides by scraping back the icing with a palette knife to achieve the exposed effect. Then I decided to practise my piping skills by piping rosettes all over the cake. I liked the effect of the passionfruit seeds in each rosette. But a simply iced cake with buttercream is always a thing of beauty! And tastes just as good as cake with more fancy icing!

Jamie’s Cherry Cheesecake Semifreddo for Christmas

Here’s another recipe from the archives for a Christmas dessert. It’s a lovely Jamie Oliver ice cream bombe from 2013.
This cherry cheesecake semifreddo bombe is pretty spectacular when frozen in a domed bowl and then turned out. And a cold alternative to a traditional hot Christmas pudding or perhaps serve both  – that’s what I usually do!
I remember finding this dessert from a magazine of Christmas recipes produced by Woolworths, our Australian supermarket for whom Jamie is the signature chef, so the recipe was created as a seasonal dessert for Australia.
Jamie has combined three great ideas – cherries, luscious cheesecake and semifreddo for all who love ice cream.
It’s an easy recipe but you need to be prepared for a quite a few steps, and of course freezing time overnight.
I made these changes to the original recipe:
I used frozen pitted cherries rather than fresh (simply to save time pitting the fresh cherries).
I used ginger nut biscuits for the biscuit crunch component instead of digestive biscuits. This really worked as the biscuit crunch had a great festive ginger flavour!

Ingredients

150g digestive biscuits (I used ginger nuts)
75g unsalted butter
250g fresh cherries (I used frozen pitted cherries)
250g golden caster sugar
1 lemon
4 large free-range eggs
250ml double cream
250g cream cheese
50g dark chocolate
A large handful of cherries or mixed fresh berries

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until fine. Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat and stir in the blitzed biscuits and a good pinch of sea salt.
Empty the mixture into a small baking dish (roughly 15 x 20 cm), pat down and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden and firm. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, halve and de-stone the cherries and place in a small pan with 200g of the caster sugar. (Or use frozen cherries). Finely grate in the lemon zest and squeeze in the juice of half and place over a medium-low heat.
Gently bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6-8 minutes, or until softened and syrupy. Leave to cool completely, then blitz two-thirds of the mixture into a purée in a blender.
When you are ready to assemble the semifreddo, separate the eggs into two large mixing bowls and pour the double cream into a third bowl. Whisk the cream to soft peaks and beat in the cream cheese.
Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining caster sugar until creamy and pale and doubled in volume.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of sea salt until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the whites into the yolks, using a large metal spoon to keep the mixture as light as possible.
Beat a large spoonful of the egg mixture into the cream cheese mixture to loosen it, then carefully fold through the remaining.
Marble in half the puréed cherries and crumble in most of the biscuit mixture in large and small pieces, then fold through most of the whole cooked cherries. Spoon the semifreddo into a 1.5 litre ceramic bowl, then crumble over the remaining biscuit and ripple through most of the remaining purée. Put the dish into the freezer for at least 6 hours.
When you are ready to serve, dip the bowl 2/3 of the way into a large bowl or pan of just-boiled water, being careful not to submerge completely. Hold until you start to see the semifreddo loosen from the sides of the bowl. Place an upside down cake stand or plate on top of the bowl, and quickly turn over, holding one hand on the bowl and one hand on the cake stand.
The semifreddo should come out in a beautiful dome. Serve garnished with the remaining puree, cooked cherries, shavings of dark chocolate and a handful of fresh cherries or mixed berries.

 

 

Christmas Pudding Cake

I made this cake/pudding last Christmas, a fabulous Nigella recipe, for one of those celebration meals sometime after the big day and before New Year. I’m posting again for anyone who is looking for a relatively simple cake to make for Christmas or Boxing Day. There’s no baking required, more an assembly of different luscious elements.

It’s a kind of “tiramisu meets trifle”! Layers of liqueur soaked panettone are interspersed with a mascarpone/ cream/egg/sugar/liqueur mixture with glacé fruit, chocolate and pistachios added.

I made a couple of alterations to the original recipe. I soaked the panettone in Cointreau as the specified Tuaca liqueur is hard to obtain.  As I was unable to source marrons glacés (candied chestnuts), I used glacé ginger instead.

The other recipe alteration was entirely accidental – the recipe asks for Marsala to flavour the mascarpone mixture. I inadvertently grabbed a bottle of coffee liqueur and used this instead. A happy accident as it turned out as the cake now had a real tiramisu flavour!

The link to Nigella’s recipe is here for the original version.

A couple of points. I think finely chopped chocolate is preferable to chocolate chips as these are a little too crunchy in the cake. The other thing to take note of, is not to overbeat the mixture when you add the mascarpone as mascarpone can easily curdle as I found out to my cost!

Here is the recipe as I made it.

Ingredients

625 grams panettone (approximately)
6 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
2 large free-range eggs at room temperature
75 gms caster sugar
500 gms mascarpone cheese
250 mls cream
125 mls coffee liqueur
75 gms glacé ginger
125 gms chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate
100 gms pistachios chopped
Pomegranate seeds from half a pomegranate

Method

Using a serrated knife, cut the panettone roughly into 1cm slices, then use about a third of these to line the bottom of a 22cm springform cake tin. Tear off pieces to fit so that there are no gaps.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of  the orange liqueur over the panettone.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until very frothy and increased in volume and lightness.

Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and double cream, then gradually whisk in the coffee liqueur and whisk until the mixture is thick and spreadable. If you stop every so often you can gauge how thick the mixture is and whether you are in danger of overbeating.

Remove 250ml or a cup of the mixture to a bowl, cover and put in the fridge, for the top layer of the cake.

Chop the glacé ginger into small pieces and then add to the rest of the mascarpone cream mixture.  Then add 100gms of the chocolate chips and 75gms of the chopped pistachios, and fold both into the mixture.

Spoon half of the mixture on top of the panettone layer in the cake tin. Put another third of the panettone slices over the cream filling, again making sure there are no gaps. Sprinkle with another 2 tablespoons of liqueur.

Spoon the other half of the cream mixture onto to the panettone. Top with the final layer of panettone, leaving no gaps and sprinkle over the last 2 tablespoons of liqueur.

Cover the cake tightly with clingfilm, pressing down on the top a little, and put in the fridge for at least overnight.

To serve, take the cake out of the fridge, unmould it and sit it on a flat plate or cake stand, then spread with the reserved mascarpone mixture. Definitely don’t try to lift the cake off the base, as the cake is too soft and moist to remove.

Scatter the top of the cake with the remaining chocolate chips and chopped pistachios and the pomegranate seeds. The cake will look a little rustic around the sides but this is part of its charm!

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