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Category Archives: Sweet Food

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!

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!

Raspberry Blondies

Brownies? Blondies? Both excellent sweet treats in a fudgy, gooey kind of way. This one is a sweet version of a brownie, made with white chocolate, so technically definitely a blondie!

I got the inspiration a few years back from a post on the internet, no longer around. The general idea is that raspberries and white chocolate are a match made in heaven, so I ran with that idea!

The blondies are made with plain flour only, no baking powder, but they seem to rise all the same.

Ingredients

115g unsalted butter

180g white chocolate chopped

115g caster sugar

2 free-range eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla paste

125g plain flour +1tablespoon flour

1 cup frozen raspberries

Method

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

Grease and line a square 20 cm x 20 cm baking tin with baking paper. You could use a 18cm x 27cm baking tin instead.

Melt the butter and 100g of the white chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until smooth.

Beat the sugar, free-range eggs and vanilla paste in a bowl until the mixture is thick and pale.

Gently combine the the butter and white chocolate mixture into the egg and sugar mixture.

Gently fold 1/3 of the flour into the batter and repeat twice until all the flour is all incorporated.

Put half the raspberries into the tablespoon of flour then gently fold the raspberries/flour into the mixture.

Pour the mixture into the tin and place the remaining white chocolate pieces and raspberries over the top of the mixture.

Bake for 30- 35 minutes. The blondies will have risen but will still be slightly soft in the middle.

Cool in the tin before cutting into squares.

Pear and Almond Buttermilk Cake

Pears are lovely at the moment, a great winter fruit perfect for cakes or pies or puddings.

This simple cake makes the most of pears and is great for morning tea, afternoon tea or even as a dessert. You could substitute apples too.

I added a plum to the fruit for colour because I had one on hand but that’s entirely optional.

Ingredients

2 pears

1 large plum (optional)

150g almonds flakes

125g butter

150g sugar

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond essence

125mls buttermilk

50g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons Demerara sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.

Peel the pears and cut vertically into thin slices, avoiding the core. Cut the plum into slices if using.

Butter a 20 or 22cm cake tin. The smaller tin will give you a deeper cake, the larger tin will give you a flatter cake.

Line the base with baking paper.

Put the almond flakes into a food processor and blitz for a minute until you have small pieces. Remove from the processor.

Put the butter in the food processor and blitz until it is soft. Add the sugar and cream well. Add the eggs and mix until amalgamated. Add the essences and the buttermilk. Add the flour, baking powder and chopped almonds and blitz briefly.

Spoon the mixture into the prepare tin. Arrange the pear slices and plum slices (if using) in a circle around the mixture, any leftover can be put into the centre. Sprinkle with the Demerara sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Serve as is or drizzle with lemon icing. Make this by combining a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice with enough icing sugar to make a drizzle icing.

You could also great a little lemon or lime zest over the cake too.

Pear and Sour Cherry Loaf

What to do with a couple of over ripe pears? Put them in a loaf of course and add sour cherries for a tangy flavour. And almond extract goes really well with both these ingredients!

A couple of things to say about this loaf. First, it’s an all-in-one loaf, and made in the food processor too. So it’s super simple. Believe me, the all-in-one method produces great results!

Secondly, I have been very interested in the Queen of Baking Mary Berry’s advocacy of baking spread, rather than butter, in cakes. I’ve used baking spread in Mary’s Victoria Sponge recipe and it produced a lovely textured sponge. So I have used baking spread in this recipe. But by all means, use butter if you prefer, but make sure it’s super soft.

Ingredients

125g caster sugar

125g baking spread (I use Nuttelex here in Australia)

2 free range eggs at room temperature

125g self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 very ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks

100g sour cherries

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Butter a 21cm x 10cm loaf tin, or similar size.

Put everything except the cherries into the bowl of a food processor. Whizz until everything is combined. Don’t overdo it or the mixture will be tough.

Stir in the sour cherries.

Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean.

Cool completely in the tin before turning out as the loaf is quite fragile while warm.

Serve sprinkled with a little caster sugar. A dollop of cream or yoghurt would be nice – I had some passionfruit curd on hand so I smothered the loaf with a few spoonfuls!

Apple Tart Easy as Pie

Here’s a recipe for a really easy apple tart. True, you do make the sweet shortcrust base. But if you’re pushed for a time just use a good store bought version – here in Australia Careme brand is excellent!

If you do make your own, my recipe is based on the wonderful Michael James’ recipe from “The Tivoli Road Baker”. There’s not much about pastry that Michael doesn’t know.

Apart from the pastry the only work is chopping up apples, so you can put this recipe together in no time at all.

Ingredients

Sweet Pastry

100g unsalted butter, diced and softened

100g caster sugar

1 free-range egg

250g plain flour

1/4 tsp salt

Filling

2 large apples

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons caster sugar

Demerara sugar for sprinkling

Method

To make the pastry, in an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together really well. Add the egg then add the flour and salt in two additions. Mix just until the pastry comes together.

Put the pastry onto a floured board and gently knead until it just comes together. It will still be quite soft and even a bit sticky.

Wrap in cling wrap and rest in the fridge for an hour.

Meanwhile prepare your filling by chopping the apples into thin slices. Put them into a bowl and cover with the lemon juice.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Butter a 23cm 9 inch fluted loose based tart tin.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and place on the floured board. Roll the pastry to a circle that’s bigger than the tin so the pastry will hang over the sides. Gently press the pastry into the base and sides.

Mix the caster sugar through the apple slices. Place the apple slices in circles around the pastry, doubling up the layers to use all the apple.

Turn the oven down to 180 degrees C. Place the tart in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the apples are soft and the pastry is golden brown.

Remove from the oven, and if desired, sprinkle with Demerara sugar for extra sweetness.

Serve with cream, sour cream or ice cream or just eat on its own. Simple and delicious.

Easter Egg Rocky Road

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Easter is upon us! Already thinking that you might end up with too many Easter eggs? Well here is a lovely idea to use up that excess chocolate.

Rocky Road is always great if you want to throw a few delicious ingredients into some melted chocolate – nuts, marshmallows, glacé fruit all work well.

Easter Egg Rocky Road is a perfect recipe to include mini Easter eggs, and as well you could smash up some bigger eggs too!

Easter Rocky Road is simple – you can add pretty much what you feel like at the time.

Here’s what I did.

Easter Egg Rocky Road

Melt a 200g block of dark chocolate and a 200g block + half a block of white chocolate. Pour into a tin lined with foil, dark on one side and white on the other. Leave a little of each chocolate for splattering.

Using a skewer, run some pink food colouring through the white chocolate.

Place as many as you like of the following in the melted chocolate – pink and white marshmallows, Smarties or M and Ms, mini Easter eggs.

I scattered some freeze-dried raspberry powder over the Rocky Road too.

Splatter or drizzle the left-over dark chocolate on the white side and the white chocolate on the dark side.

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Easter Fruit and Spice Muffins

This year I’m getting my Easter baking sorted early. And I’m also writing my Easter posts early too! So to get the ball rolling, heres a lovely Easter muffin recipe from a few years back.

It’s a great alternative – or addition – to hot cross buns, super simple muffins with all the flavour of hot cross buns. And the added bonus that they are dipped in cinnamon sugar to give a donut crunch on the top!

The mixture makes 6 large muffins or 12 normal size ones.

This mixture keeps really well in the fridge for a couple of days, so why not bake double the recipe and keep the remaining mixture in the fridge. That way you can have fresh muffins to bake on demand!

Ingredients
1 cup sultanas and raisins
1/3 cup Pedro Ximinez sherry or any sweet sherry
2 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking sofa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup milk
2 large free-range eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup golden syrup

For the topping 
20g melted butter
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon 

Method
Soak the sultanas and raisins in the sherry for half an hour or more, if you have the time.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease the holes of a 6 or 12 cup muffin pan.
Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a second bowl, beat the milk, eggs, oil, honey and golden syrup. Blend the wet ingredients with the dry, stirring for about 20 seconds. Gently stir in the fruit just until blended.
Fill the holes of the prepared pan two-thirds full. Or fill a little higher if you like muffins that have a “muffin top”!
Bake the muffins for 15-20 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. I check after 15 minutes. Ovens are variable, so you need to keep checking for doneness.
When the muffins are clearly cooked, remove the muffin pan from the oven and allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing them from the pan.
Put the melted butter in a small bowl, and mix the caster sugar and cinnamon on a plate. While the muffins are still warm, dip the top of each one in butter and then in the sugar/cinnamon mixture.
Serve warm or at room temperature, for morning tea, afternoon tea or anytime Easter snack.

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