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Category Archives: Sweet Food

Blood Orange Mini Cakes

This is the “mini” cake version of a larger blood orange cake I make. See here for the recipe. I thought that little cakes might be good for an afternoon tea, so I have adapted the recipe to make lovely little jewel bright cakes which are just delicious. Nothing beats the flavour and colour of blood oranges!

Ingredients

Candied orange slices

2 blood oranges
200g caster sugar

Cakes

2 blood oranges
200g  caster sugar
125g very soft butter
2 free range eggs
½ tsp vanilla essence
125g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder

Method

Candied Blood Oranges
Finely slice 2 of the oranges, discarding the ends and keeping as many slices intact as you can.
Dissolve 200g of the sugar in 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Carefully place the orange slices in the syrup and simmer them until they are soft and sticky. Remove from the syrup using tongs. If the syrup is not reduced enough, cook it for a few minutes extra to thicken – but don’t let it go to toffee.

Cakes
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
Grease a mini cake tin which has removeable bottoms. Line the bases with circles of baking paper. If you don’t have a tin with removeable bottoms, you could use an ordinary muffin tin, but turning out the mini cakes will be tricky, as you need to keep the candied orange slices intact.
Chop 2 of the blood oranges in quarters and remove each end. Blitz in the food processor until reasonably finely chopped – there should still be some small chunks in the mixture.
Add the butter and 200g of the sugar and blitz in the food processor. The mixture will look very curdled! Add the eggs and vanilla and blitz again, the mixture will still look very curdled!
Gently fold in the flour and baking powder, making sure not to over mix or the cake with toughen. The cake mixture will now look “normal”.
Place the candied orange slices on the paper bases in the tin, as artistically as possible, remembering, as this is an upside down cake, that the bottoms become the top!
Place the batter over the top of the slices. Bake for 20- 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean. As these cakes are small, they may need a little less cooking, but they are also quite moist, so may need the allotted time. My advice is check after 15 minutes and keep checking thereafter.
Remove from the oven once cooked and cool the tin on a wire rack. When the cakes are cool (not cold), carefully remove each mini cake from the mold.  Even more carefully, take off the bases and peel away the baking paper.
Brush the mini cakes with the blood orange syrup and serve.

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Kouign Amann and Cruffins: Variations on Croissant Dough


I’m re-blogging my 2016 post on two pastries that are kind of variations on the ubiquitous croissant. I felt compelled to do so after reading an article in the August 2017 edition of Australian Gourmet Traveller, in which pastry “fads” were discussed, albeit tongue-in-cheek!

What is the next baked sensation, quips Larissa Dubecki, as she reminisces on pastry trends from Sex in the City’s cupcakes, through macarons, cronuts and kouign amann, with éclairs being dubbed the newest big thing in 2017.

So here are my (simplified) recipes for kouign amann and cruffins, the former still having baking currency because they’re a classic, the latter sadly fulfilling their destiny as a food fad.

I am firmly of the view that BOTH pastries should be up there in the baking hall of fame as they are not that difficult to make and are really quite delicious!

Kouign amann (pronounced queen amarn) are Breton pastries that are similar to croissants. They have a layer of sugar in the dough, and are baked in a unique shape with four distinct corners.

Cruffins are that curious hybrid, the love child of a croissant and a muffin and the sibling of the cronut.  They have flaky croissant layers yet are compact enough to hold and eat as they have that neat muffin shape.

While the dough for both these pastries is not identical, they are close enough to use one batch of croissant dough to create cruffins and kouign amman. And both pastries can be baked in a muffin tin.

I essentially made a croissant dough and used 1/4 dough for each type of pastry. I layered one dough portion with sugar, and used that for the kouign amann, while the other dough portion I merely had to shape into cruffins before baking. So you end up with 6 cruffins and 6 kouign amann. Just double the quantities for 12 of each.

So here is my simplified recipe for both delights. You can find lots of variations, some quite complicated for both, online, but I wanted recipes that were reasonably simple and not to technically challenging. The kouign amann recipe is adapted from Emma Christensen’s helpful post from her Kitchn blog.

Kouign Amann

Ingredients

1/4 batch croissant dough *(recipe follows below)

1 cup caster sugar + additional for rolling

1/4 cup icing sugar for dusting

Icing/glaze

1/2 cup icing sugar

Juice of 1/4 lemon

Method

Roll out your pre-prepared croissant dough to a long rectangle, about 1/2 cm thick. Sprinkle the rectangle with 1/2 cup sugar and press lightly with the rolling pin to help it stick. now fold the top (narrower end) third down and the bottom third up, like folding a letter.

Rotate the dough 90 degrees so that the open end is facing you, like a book. Roll the dough out to a rectangle about 1/2 cm thick. Sprinkle the rectangle with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and press lightly with the rolling pin to help it stick. Fold the top third down and the bottom third up. If any sugar falls out, press it back into the folds.

Put the dough into large plastic bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

 If you haven’t already done so, generously butter a 6 or 12 hole muffin tin. (If making cruffins at the same time, you will already have buttered your muffin tin.)

Sprinkle the rolling surface with caster sugar.  Transfer rested dough to the rolling surface. Sprinkle a little additional sugar over the top of the dough. Roll the dough out to a rectangle about 1/2 cm thick.

Cut the dough using a pizza cutter or sharp knife into 10cm squares. Fold the corners of each square toward the center. Pick up each pastry and tuck it firmly into the muffin holes. You may have to push it in gently. You should get about 6 pastries.

Place a large plastic bag over the muffin tin and leave to prove for about an hour, or until the kouign amann  are slightly puffed up.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.

Bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through baking. The kouign amann are cooked when they are puffed up and a rich golden brown croissanty colour. Be careful that the tips don’t burn. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes; don’t  let the kouign amann cool completely in the muffin holes or the sugar will harden and make the pastries pretty tough to remove.

Remove the kouign amann to a wire rack or large plate. Drench with 1/4 cup icing sugar while still warm. To  ice the kouign amann, mix the icing sugar and lemon juice to make a dribbly sort of icing/glaze. Using a pastry brush, paint the kouign amann with the icing/glaze.

Cruffins

Ingredients

1/4 batch croissant dough *(recipe follows below)

1/4 cup icing sugar for dusting

Icing/glaze

1/2 cup icing sugar

Juice of 1/4 lemon

1 tbls raspberry fondant creme (optional)

1 tsp freeze dried raspberry powder (optional)

Method

Generously butter a 6 or 12 hole muffin tin.

Roll out your pre-prepared croissant dough to a long rectangle, about 1/2 cm thick. Cut it in half lengthways if it is too big to deal with. Cut strips of dough again lenghthways, about 10cm wide, using a pizza cutter or sharp knife. The strips can be wider, the wider the strip the higher the cruffin. The trick is to have dough, once rolled, big enough to rise high, but not so big that they flow over the muffin tin without support.

Carefully roll up each strip starting from a short end (10cm end), fairly tightly. Place each roll cut side up in a muffin hole. You should get around 6 cruffins.  At this stage you can leave to prove as is, or wait, as  I did, to fill the other muffin holes with kouign amann pastries.

Place a large plastic bag over the tin and leave to prove for about an hour, or until the cruffins have grown in size.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.

Once proved, bake for about 30 minutes until the cruffins are puffed up and a rich golden brown croissanty colour. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cruffins to a wire rack or large plate. Drench with 1/4 cup icing sugar while still warm.

For the icing, mix the icing sugar, lemon juice raspberry fondant creme if using, to make a dribbly sort of icing/glaze. Using a pastry brush, paint the cruffins with the icing/glaze. For added artiness and a lovely intense raspberry taste, scatter a little freeze dried raspberry powder over the cruffins.

Croissant Dough recipe

This recipe is that of the inimitable James Morton, finalist on the Great British Bakeoff 2012. His book Brilliant Bread is full of great recipes that make bread making, and in this case, croissant making, a common sense affair.

So here is James’ recipe (for the dough only).

Ingredients

900g strong white flour

50g caster sugar

2 x 7 g sachets fast-action yeast

14g salt

20g unsalted butter, chilled

500g full-fat milk

200g sourdough starter (My Note – you could leave this out if you haven’t got a starter, but it does improve the flavour)

500g unsalted high quality butter, chilled

Method

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, yeast and salt until combined, rubbing the yeast and salt in at opposite sides of the bowl. Roughly rub in the 20g butter until crumb-like, then add the milk and starter if using and form into a dough.

Knead the dough vigorously for 10-15 minutes until it has become smooth and doesn’t break when stretched. Wrap in cling film (I use a large plastic zip lock bag)  and refrigerate for at least an hour  but preferably overnight.

Once the dough has rested, take the additional butter and place it between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper (I find cling film works well). Using a rolling pin, bash the butter until it flattens into a square, roughly 20cm x 20 cm and 10 cm thick. Return the butter to the fridge and remove the croissant dough.

Roll out the dough on floured surface until it is a rectangle about double the size of the flattened butter (20cm x 40cm). On one half of this, place the flattened butter.Fold the dough over the butter and pinch all around the edges to seal. Turn the dough round a quarter turn.

Gently roll the dough out into a new rectangle about three to four times as long as it is wide. Gently take both ends and fold them over towards each other, so that they meet in the middle (your rectangle should now be half as long as it was). Then, fold the new shape in half again, closing it like a book. Wrap in cling film or place in the plastic bag,  and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Carefully, repeat the instructions in the last paragraph twice more, so that the dough has been folded and rested three times altogether. Rest for 20 minutes one final time.

The dough can be used immediately or frozen for future use.

I  can thoroughly recommend  freezing the dough. The basic recipe makes a HUGE quantity of dough. It make so much sense to divide it into two, or even four, bake with some now, and freeze the rest for use at a later date.

 

 

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Clementine Layer Cake with Raspberry Meringue Buttercream


Here is a quirky celebration cake, or if you’re looking for a cake to make that requires a few cake decorating skills. Nothing too challenging, I assure you!

I created this one lazy Saturday, with nothing more in mind than I wanted to make a cake that looked good and on which I could try out a few new skills in icing and decorating. As I’m the classic rustic baker, this cake is quite achievable for anyone with some basic skills! I was inspired by a recent trip to Saga in Enmore, in Sydney’s inner west where the legendary Andy Bowdy makes awesome cakes! Check out the website here!

You could use all or just some of my ideas, and tailor make the cake to suit your own creativity.

And by the way, for us Aussies, who only recently have (limited) access to clementines, mandarins would be great too!

The full description of the cake is this: Clementine and Almond Cake with Raspberry Meringue Buttercream, White Chocolate Crumb, White Chocolate Passionfruit Drizzle, Toffee Fruit.  The cake itself is based on that wonderful, and now quite universal, orange almond cake from Claudia Roden, first seen in A New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden.

I have included the quantities for a full size cake mixture. You probably won’t need the entire mixture – however if your cake is a baked in tins larger than the ones I’ve used (10cm/4in), you may need the whole lot. If you do have some mixture left over, just bake it in muffins molds for some seriously moist and delicious little cakes!

The same with the meringue buttercream. I have given quantities enough for a large amount of frosting. You can make less, or keep the remaining buttercream for another bake.

So here’s my recipe for the cake and its assembly.

Ingredients

Clementine Cake
3 clementines skin on (or 3 mandarins)
4 free-range eggs
250g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
250g ground almonds

Raspberry Meringue Buttercream
4 egg whites
2 cups white sugar
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons freeze dried raspberry powder or enough to make a deep pink buttercream

White Chocolate Crumb
100g white chocolate
1 tablespoon passionfruit fondant creme* or a few drops good quality yellow food colouring

White Chocolate Passionfruit Drizzle or Dribble!
100g white chocolate
1 tablespoon passionfruit fondant creme* or a few drops yellow food colouring
A few drops milk

Toffee Fruit
3 tablespoons caster sugar
A few clementine segments and whole strawberries

Method

Cake

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, 170 degrees C non fan forced. Butter 3 small cake tins well, and line the bases with a circle of baking paper – I used tins 10cm/4in in diameter.
Place clementines in a medium saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain, cool and chop (discard seeds), then blitz in a food processor. Add the eggs and sugar and process until combined. Add the baking powder and ground almonds and blitz making sure  everything is thoroughly mixed. The mixture is quite a wet one, so you can, if you’re nervous add 1-2 tablespoons of plain flour to make the batter a little less runny.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tins.
Bake for up to an hour, or until until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the cakes comes out clean. If the cakes are still wet, bake for longer.  However, the cakes may take less than the hour – check at the 40 minute mark for “doneness”.
Cool the cakes before carefully turning out of the tins, removing the baking paper.

Raspberry Meringue Buttercream

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 icing consistency. Carefully fold in the freeze dried raspberry powder.

White Chocolate Crumb

This method is tricky and possibly controversial! There are no doubt recipes which tell you how to bake white chocolate in the oven until it caramelizes and goes crumbly. I can’t guarantee the success of my method – a lot will depend on the power of your microwave and you own baking intuition in judging timings.
Essentially, you are cooking the white chocolate after it has melted, causing it to seize.
My method is pretty easy – stick the white chocolate in pieces  in the microwave (not on high- medium or even lower), and carefully melt. Then add the fondant creme or yellow food colouring mixing it through the warm chocolate. It will start to seize up. If it’s crumbly enough for you, then it’s done. If you want a more distinct crumb, place the chocolate back in the microwave on a low heat and cook for longer. I would advise going in 20 second bursts until you are satisfied with the crumb texture.

White Chocolate Drizzle

This needs to be made when you are ready to apply the drizzle/dribble to the cake.
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, taking care that the bowl does not touch the water. Or live dangerously as I did and melt the white chocolate in the microwave on a low heat setting.
Once melted, add the  fondant creme or yellow food colouring. As with the white chocolate crumb, the chocolate will probably seize. Take off  the heat and add a few drops of milk and beat vigorously until the mixture is of drizzling consistency. It comes back pretty well.

Toffee Fruit

Put the caster sugar in a small frying pan over a medium heat and dissolve the sugar, being careful not to stir the sugar. Once the melted sugar has hit that beautiful toffee/tea colour, remove from the heat, and carefully pour most of the toffee over the clementine segments and strawberries on the baking paper. Pour the last bit of the liquid toffee onto the baking paper so that you can break it up into shards once cold.

Assembly

Carefully cut the 3 cakes horizontally in half, to create 6 layers. This can be quite tricky as this cake is incredibly moist and can break easily.Work out which of the 6 layers are good, and which  you want to disguise. Pick the best for the top layer, a sturdy one for the bottom layer, and all the rest in between.
Place the bottom layer on a cake plate or cake board. Ice with the meringue buttercream, again being careful  as the cake is fragile. Repeat with the other layers, making the frosting on the top nice and thick. Ice the sides of the cake. A good palette knife will help with achieving a smooth texture.

Now for the decoration! This is where you can use your creative license! I dribbled the white chocolate drizzle down the sides of the cake, scattered the white chocolate crumb over the cake and around the base, placed the toffee fruit on and around the cake, and lastly decorated the cake with the toffee shards.
But absolutely you can have fun with this cake and do whatever you like to make your cake a quirky and visually spectacular creation!

*My local kitchen store stocks a range of Roberts Fondant Cremes see here for the link to the Passionfruit one I used in the recipe. However you can easily get the yellow effect by just using yellow food colouring, and don’t worry about the passionfruit flavour.

 

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Blood Orange Friands

 

 

Here's another recipe for friands, those delicious little cakes made with eggs whites only and ground almonds, very similar to the French financier.

This version features wonderful blood oranges, now available in Sydney, one of the joys of a beautiful bright winter! It's 21 degrees C on this sunny July day!

The recipe is really so versatile, you can add lots of different fruit to the basic recipe. Cherries, pears, raspberries and blueberries work well.

Ingredients

6 egg whites, beaten lightly

75g plain flour

240g icing sugar, sifted

125g almond meal

150g melted butter, cooled

Grated zest and juice of a blood orange

10 tablespoons icing sugar or enough to make a thick glaze.

Optional – some salted pistachio praline to decorate*

Slices of blood orange

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced. Lightly grease 12 friand molds.

Beat the egg whites until frothy with fork in a large mixing bowl.

Sift the flour and icing sugar into the bowl, stir in almond meal and then add the melted butter. Stir in the zest of the blood orange, and the juice of one half of the blood orange.

Spoon the mixture (approximately ¼ cup) into each of the molds.

Bake in preheated oven for 20  minutes until cooked through and golden brown or until a skewer is inserted into centre comes out clean. Sometimes the friands need a few more minutes in the oven to be nice and brown.

To make the glaze, mix the juice of the other half of the blood orange with the icing sugar. You may need to add more or less juice or more or less icing sugar to get the glaze to the right consistency to ice the friands.
Ice the friands with just enough glaze to coat the tops and perhaps to run down the sides a little.

*To make the salted pistachio praline, dissolve a couple of tablespoons of caster sugar in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Don't stir, or the sugar will crystallize. Once the dissolved sugar has turned to a deep toffee colour, pour the praline over a handful of salted pistachios on some baking paper. Once hard, bash the praline into fragments.

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Passionfruit Buttermilk Cakes

Passionfruit are plentiful and quite well priced in June in Sydney. I’m addicted to their heady sweet and tangy taste and the lovely mellow yellow colour they give to cakes and icings. I also love the depth of flavour that cooking with buttermilk gives to cakes and breads. I was keen to try the cheat’s buttermilk you can make using regular milk. Simply add lemon juice or vinegar to milk, or even lime juice, and you have a pretty good substitute!

Here is the recipe for these passionfruit beauties. You can make them dainty or scale them up as I did, using my three tier muffin molds.

Ingredients

Cakes

200g self-raising flour

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

125mls buttermilk 0r cheat’s buttermilk ( I added the juice of half a lime to regular milk)

Pulp from 4 passionfruit

Passionfruit Icing

250g icing sugar, sifted

Pulp from 2 passionfruit + 1 passionfruit for the optional fondant icing

1 tbs passionfruit fondant creme (optional)

Method

Cakes

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C.  You can make this little cakes in any fancy molds you have on hand. The cakes pictured were baked in my Silverwood three tier muffin molds. I buttered and floured these molds. You can use any standard 12 cup muffin tin.  Line the muffin tin with cupcake cases.

Put all the ingredients except the pasionfruit pulp in a food processor and blitz till smooth.  Stir the passionfruit pulp into the batter.

Spoon the mixture into the molds or paper cases. If you’re using fancy molds like mine you will get 6 sizeable cakes. Using a regular muffin tin,  you will get 8-12 cakes, depending on how big you want them.

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

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

Ice with a generous amount of passionfruit icing, letting it drip down the sides of the cakes.

Passionfruit Icing

In a bowl, mix together the icing sugar and passionfruit pulp and beat well. If the icing is too soft, or runny, then add more icing sugar to get the desired consistency.

Optional –  I mixed a tablespoon of passionfruit fondant creme (warmed gently in the microwave for a minute or two) with the pulp of 1 passionfruit. This made a very yellow icing which I drizzled on top of of the other icing. More for effect than anything else!

 

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Brown Sugar Waffles with Golden Syrup and Cinnamon Sugar

Waffles! I always thought they were hard to make until I started using a waffle maker, a present from years ago, that I found at the back of a kitchen cupboard. Et voila! From batter to plate in 15 minutes. So yummy, and they look pretty groovy too!

I made these last weekend and served them with a drizzle of golden syrup, a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar and good dollop of sour cream to undercut the sweetness. Magic breakfast!

Ingredients

110g plain flour
20g cornflour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbls dark brown sugar or muscavado sugar
190ml buttermilk
30ml vegetable oil
1 free-range egg separated

To serve
Golden syrup, cinnamon sugar, sour cream or creme fraiche

Method

Heat an electric waffle maker for a few minutes.  Put the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix by hand to combine. Add the buttermilk, oil and egg yolk and whisk until smooth.

Put the egg white into another bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whisked egg white into the flour mixture. Carefully ladle 2 tablespoons of batter (or enough to cover the waffle plate) into the waffle maker. Cook until the waffle is a nice dark golden brown – my waffle maker lets me check the state of doneness simply by opening up and having a look. Carefully remove the cooked waffle to a warm plate and continue making.

Serve with golden syrup, cinnamon sugar and sour cream or creme fraiche. Makes about 6 waffles.

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Sweet Cherry Yorkshire Puddings

 

I love making and eating Yorkshire puddings. They’re great hot served with roast beef or other things. I sometimes make Jamie Oliver’s Baby Yorkshire puds with smoked trout and horseradish pate (see here for recipe).

As readers of the blog will know, I’m fond of anything sweet, so a couple of weeks ago I created a great breakfast or brunch recipe, basically sweet Yorkshire puddings filled with cherries. They worked a treat, and were delicious warm from the oven and also at room temperature. I served them with Greek yoghurt and more cherries.

Ingredients

Extra light olive oil
3 large free-range eggs
115 grams plain flour
A pinch of salt
1 tbls caster sugar
285 mls milk
1 cup frozen cherries

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Pour a small amount of oil into a 12 cup muffin tin, so you have a thin layer covering the bottom of each muffin mold. Put the tin onto the top shelf in the hot oven for around 10 minutes so the oil gets really hot.

Beat eggs, flour, salt, caster sugar and milk together, either by hand or in a food processor, until light and smooth.  You can make this ahead of time  – the mixture actually improves in the fridge.

When you are ready to bake the puddings, stir the cherries through the batter.  You mightn’t get 12  – it’s more important to really fill up some of the molds full than fill all of them.

Carefully take the tin out of the hot oven and quickly and confidently pour the batter into the hot muffin tin, filling each mold reasonably full. Return the tin to the top shelf of the oven to cook for around 10 to 12 minutes, or until the puddings have risen and are a golden brown. But don’t open the oven door, otherwise your puddings will deflate!

Once cooked, remove from the oven. Carefully slide out of the molds. Eat warm or at room temperature. When you break open the muffins you will get a lovely cherry ooze.

Serve with yoghurt or creme fraiche,  honey or cinnamon sugar and more cherries. A delicious take on the traditional Yorkshire pudding.

 

 

 

 

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