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Category Archives: Sweet Food

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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Pain aux Raisins – Little Danish Pastries

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2E29FFDB-655D-4CF0-B296-966430AF893FThere are two types of baking that I seek to perfect each year.

At Easter, I make hot cross buns, trying different recipes and tweaking these to find the best one. I’m generally in favour of Jamie Oliver’s recipes and one or other of these is my current go-to at Easter.

I am very fond of croissants, taste testing these in Sydney and Melbourne in search of “croissant nirvana”.

Making croissants is also a yearly baking exercise. And for these delightful pastries I turn to the baking guru Paul Hollywood and to the Scottish baking doctor James Morton. After much experimenting, I now use the same enriched dough to also produce Danish pastries.

So last week was croissant and Danish pastry making time! Specifically, my Danishes were pain aux raisin.

Here is the recipe for the pain aux raisins. The croissants were nice, in fact delicious, but the look was not so good as I had overproved them, which is why they don’t appear here.

The exact ingredients are the result of much tweaking, and I think my version works well. The method is mostly Paul with a bit of James thrown in.

Ingredients 

Enriched dough
450g strong flour
40g caster sugar
10g salt
10g instant yeast
10g unsalted butter, chilled
300mls full fat milk
250g unsalted high quality butter, chilled

Crème pâtissière
500mls milk
1 vanilla pod, split down the middle and seeds scraped out
100g caster sugar
4 free-range eggs, yolks only
40g cornflour

Filling
200g raisins
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 free-range egg

2 tbls apricot jam for glazing

Lemon icing
150g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Method
Dough

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, sugar, salt and test until combined, rubbing the salt and yeast in at opposite sides of the bowl. Roughly rub in the 10g butter until crumb-like, then add the milk and form into a dough.

Mix the dough on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for 6 minutes, until it has become smooth and doesn’t break when stretched. Place in 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 or cling film. Using a rolling pin, bash the butter until it flattens into a square, roughly 30cm x 20 cm. Return the butter to the fridge and remove the dough.

Roll out the dough on floured surface until it is a rectangle, about 50cm x 20cm. Lay the butter on the dough so that it covers the bottom two-thirds of it. Make sure that it is positioned neatly and comes almost to the edges.

Fold the exposed dough at the top down one-third of the butter. Now gently cut off the exposed bit of butter, without going through the dough, and put it on the top of the dough you have just folded down. Fold the bottom half of the dough up. You will now have a sandwich of two layers of butter and three of dough. Pinch the edges lightly to seal in the butter. Put the dough back in the plastic bag and chill for an hour to harden butter.

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. Place in the ziplock bag,  and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Carefully, repeat the instructions in the last paragraph twice more, so that the dough has been folded and rested three times altogether.

The dough now needs to be left in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight, to rest and rise slightly. It is then ready to use.

Crème pâtissière
Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the split vanilla pod and its seeds. Bring the milk mixture to the boil, then remove from the heat.

Whisk the sugar, egg yolks and cornflour together in a large bowl.

Pour out a little of the hot milk onto the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Whisk in the rest of the hot milk until well-combined, then return to the saucepan.

Cook the mixture over a gentle heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture becomes thick. It will just come to the boil.

Remove from the heat and pass the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl. Leave to cool, cover with clingfilm and then chill before using.

To make the pain aux raisins

Line several baking trays with baking paper – you will need at least 3 to bake all the pastries.

Cut the rested dough in half. Roll one half out on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle, about 7mm thick. Turn it 90°, if necessary, so a long edge is facing you. Smear half the crème pâtissière over the dough, leaving a clear 5cm margin along the near edge. Sprinkle half the raisins and cinnamon over the crème. Roll the dough towards you into a sausage, keeping it as tight as possible – give a gentle tug each time you roll to tighten the dough and give it a little tension. When you reach the end, roll the sausage back and forth a few times to seal the join. Repeat with the second piece of dough and remaining ingredients.

Cut the rolls into 3cm slices. Lay cut side up and apart on the baking trays and put each inside a clean plastic bag. Leave to rise at cool room temperature (18 – 24°C) until at least doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Heat oven to 200°C. Brush the risen pastries with beaten egg and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown. Meanwhile, warm the apricot jam with a little water in a saucepan or gently microwave, then sieve.

Once baked, take the pastries out of the oven and brush with the apricot jam. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For the icing, mix the icing sugar with as much of the lemon juice as you need to make a paste which is just runny enough to drizzle.

When the pastries are cool, drizzle the lemon icing over them.

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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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Jamie’s Smoothie Pancakes with Berries, Banana, Yoghurt and Nuts

 

PANCAKES! Always a great breakfast option, unless it’s hotcakes, waffles or crumpets! I really love a home made version of any one of these griddle cooked goods.

So Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Smoothie Pancakes with Berries, Banana, Yoghurt and Nuts  makes thick luscious and surprisingly healthy pancakes – they could even be described as hotcakes.

I’m re-blogging this gorgeous  recipe that comes from Jamie’s book Everyday Super Food.

Here is Jamie’s recipe very slightly tweaked.

Ingredients

320g blueberries or raspberries

1 ripe banana

170ml semi-skimmed milk

1 large free-range egg

250g wholemeal self raising flour

To serve

4 tbs natural yoghurt

Sprinkle of ground cinnamon

30g mixed unsalted nuts, chopped

Drizzle of honey

Method

Blitz half the berries, peeled banana, milk, egg and flour in a food processor or blender to make a smooth pancake batter. Fold in the remaining berries. Place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium high heat. When hot, put some batter into the frying pan to make large pancakes or small ones. I went for smallish. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or until crisp and browned. Jamie suggests flipping them for an additional 30 seconds each side to ensure they are super crispy. This seemed to work for me.

You can serve whole, or slice the pancakes in half so you can see the fruit. Serve with a spoonful or two of yoghurt, a sprinkling of cinnamon, some chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey.

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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