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Tag Archives: afternoon tea

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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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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Ottolenghi’s Rosemary, Olive Oil and Orange Cake

 

This is a lovely cake from the wonderful Middle Eastern inspired food impresario Yotam Ottolenghi.

It’s fragrant with rosemary inside the cake, and the orange and lemon icing gives the cake a great citrus tang.

Although there are few steps to the recipe, it’s actually quite easy. You could leave out crystallising the rosemary sprigs to save time, but the sprigs are a nice aromatic touch plus they look great on the cake!

You could bake the cake in an ordinary tin, but if you have a bundt tin, make it in that, so the icing can drip down the centre of the cake.

I made the recipe with unusually, no tweaks of my own, so here is Yotam’s recipe largely unaltered.

Ingredients

FOR THE CRYSTALLIZED ROSEMARY:
10 small rosemary sprigs, no more than 3 cms each in size (see note)
1 egg white, lightly whisked
2 teaspoons caster sugar
FOR THE CAKE:
About 30 grams unsalted butter, softened, for greasing the tin
240 grams plain flour plus more to flour the tin
160 mls extra-virgin olive oil
120 grams caster sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (from about 1 1/2 oranges)
1 ½ tablespoons/7 grams packed finely chopped rosemary leaves
2 large free-range eggs
130 grams sour cream
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
FOR THE ORANGE ICING:
1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
150 grams sifted icing sugar

Method

At least six hours before you plan to ice the cake, prepare the crystallised rosemary: Brush rosemary on all sides with a little of the egg white and then dip it in the sugar, so the needles are lightly coated on all sides. Set aside on a wire rack to dry. Repeat with remaining rosemary. *Note: You want small, decorative clusters of needles. The simplest way to do this is to pull the smaller, bottom-most clumps off of large sprigs, or trim off the very tops of several sprigs.

Make the cake: Heat oven to 160 degree C. Generously grease a 9 inch/23 cm Bundt tin with half the butter and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Butter again, generously, and then flour it, tapping away the excess.

Put olive oil, superfine sugar, orange zest and chopped rosemary leaves in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until combined, then add eggs, one at a time. Whisk for another minute, until thick, then add sour cream and mix until combined on low speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the whisk.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the olive oil mixture and mix until combined. Increase speed to high and whisk for 1 minute.

Scrape batter into the Bundt pan and smooth the top with a small spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cake is cooked and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. (You may want to trim the cake at this stage, if it rises unevenly, to allow it to sit flat on the plate.)

Prepare the icing: In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. When the cake has cooled, drizzle icing on top, allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake, then top with the crystallized rosemary and serve.

PS Spot the Quirky Cat!

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Baklava Traybake

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Here’s a simple version of baklava. It’s a no fuss version when you just want to throw a few ingredients together to make a sticky sweet treat.

It’s rustic – meaning I was more interested in the taste then the look of baklava – but taste wins out on visuals if  you’re short on time.

My version uses half the ingredients, with only one layer of nut filling in between the two filo layers. For a more traditional baklava, double the ingredients and make two nut layers in between three filo layers.

Ingredients
300g walnuts
50g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
60g unsalted butter, melted
Half of a 375g packet filo pastry
Syrup
110g caster sugar
60g honey
30ml lemon juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan-forced.

To make the syrup, combine the sugar, honey and 90ml water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3 minutes, then set aside to cool.

To make the filling, process the walnuts in a food processor until reasonably finely chopped – you  don’t want big pieces but you don’t want a nut paste either! Add the sugar and cinnamon and pulse to just combine.

Using a pastry brush, grease the base and sides of an 18cm x 28cm slice tin with butter.

Unroll the filo on a large chopping board. Keep filo covered with a clean, slightly damp tea towel to prevent the sheets drying out. Brush the first sheet with butter, then place it in the tin. Repeat until you have used half the filo sheets. Scatter the nut mixture over the sheets.

Brush the next sheet with melted butter and layer on top of the mixture. Repeat with the remaining sheets. Press the layered filo gently to compress slightly. Brush the top well with melted butter.

Place the baklava in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm to make it easier to score. Using a small sharp knife, score the top few layers of filo into diamond shapes. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cover the top with foil if the filo looks like it’s browning too quickly.

Remove the tin from the oven, and while still hot, pour the honey syrup over the baklava in the tin. Leave for a couple of hours or until the syrup is absorbed, and baklava is cool.

Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into pieces along the score lines. It keeps well, covered, in the fridge for a week, if you can resist that long!

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Strawberry Ripple Cake Revisited

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I was looking back at my archives and I found this lovely cake that I made a while back. I thought it might be nice to revisit it. It’s a simple butter cake, with a strawberry jam ripple. The addition of sour cream makes it a very moist cake too!

Summer in Sydney is all about the berries. Every supermarket and green grocer is practically giving away strawberries! And blueberries and raspberries are, well, as cheap as chips or … berries. So I use berries, and in particular strawberries, in cakes, puddindgs and pies quite a lot.

Ingredients

150g unsalted or salt reduced butter, at room temperature

215g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2  large free-range eggs

300g  self-raising flour

300g  sour cream

1/2 cup strawberry jam (preferably home-made, see recipe below)*

Icing

200g icing sugar mixture

15g butter, at room temperature, chopped

1 1/2-2 tablespoons hot water

1-2 drops red food colouring

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C or 160 degreees C fan-forced.

The cake looks nice in a decorative mold like a rum baba tin, which I used, or a bundt tin. Otherwise use a large cake tin. Grease the mold or tin with butter or non stick spray.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla in a food processor until pale and thoroughly amalgamated. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour and sour cream, alternately, using a metal spoon. Tricky but not impossible in a food processor!

Pour half the mixture into the prepared mold or tin. Spoon over half the jam. Using a skewer, ripple the jam through the mixture.  Spoon the rest of the cake mixture in to the mold or tin, add the remaining jam and ripple again.

Bake for 40-50  minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  The cake will take longer in a deep mold, it will take a shorter time in a conventional tin. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Icing

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Put the butter into a cup, pour over the hot water, and stir until the butter is dissolved. Mix into the icing sugar. Stir in the food colouring. Icing is not an exact science, so carefully add more icing sugar or a little water as needed, to get the icing to the right consistency. You can ice with a knife or just spoon over the cake and let the icing drip down the sides. Set aside until set.

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Battenberg Cake

 

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If you’re a fan of the Great British Bakeoff, then you might have seen a Masterclass from the 2011 series when Mary Berry made a coffee and walnut battenberg cake.

You can see Mary’s excellent recipe here. I have been really keen to have a go, and it’s taken me until now to do just that, spurred on by an excellent purchase on my recent U.K. food trip.

I was very taken with London’s Borough Market  – more of that anon – and when John Whaite GBBO winner 2012 told me about the Borough Kitchen shop, I had a great time investigating their goodies!

So, I found a Silverwood Multisize Cake Pan with Dividers. This is the perfect tin to make Battenberg cake in, to create the lovely chequerboard effect. If you don’t have a fancy tin like this one, you can create the dividers using baking paper folded to divide the tin in two.

My battenberg was coffee and ginger, and I changed the quantities slightly to make more mixture. I also noticed that Mary’s oven temperature and cooking times were different on the TV masterclass from the BBC Food recipe. The masterclass turned out to be right (lower oven shorter cooking) so my recipe reflects that. I’ve tweaked a few other things too, as you do, to suit my cooking style.

Here is my battenberg – a little “rustic”  – but I’m happy with my first attempt!

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Coffee and Ginger Battenberg Cake

Ingredients

For the cake
150g butter
150g caster sugar
3 free range eggs
150g self-raising flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
75g ground almonds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tsp milk
2 tsp instant coffee powder
50g stem ginger, chopped

For the coffee butter icing
100g  icing sugar
50g butter, softened
½ tsp instant coffee powder
1½ tsp milk

To decorate the cake
225g/8oz white marzipan
Pecan praline pieces

Method
For the cake, preheat the oven to 160C or 140C fan forced oven.

If you have a multi divider tin, assemble the dividers to make an 8″ or 20cm square tin, and then using another divider, create another division dawn the middle. Grease the square with the divider well.

If you are using a regular cake tin, Mary gives these instructions.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 20cm/8in square, shallow cake tin.
Cut out a piece of baking paper that is 7.5cm/3in longer than the length of the tin. Fold the paper in half widthways. Open out the paper and push up the centre fold to make a 4cm/1½in pleat. Line the base of the tin with this, making any adjustments to ensure the pleat runs down the centre of the tin making in effect two rectangular ‘tins’ within the tin.

Mix the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and ground almonds in a stand mixer  until smooth and slightly lighter in colour.
Spoon slightly more than half the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons of the milk. Set aside.
Mix the coffee in the remaining 2 teaspoons of milk, stirring until it has dissolved and then stir this into the other bowl of mixture with the chopped stem ginger. Spoon the vanilla mixture into one half of the tin and the coffee and ginger mixture into the other half. Level the surface of each half with a knife.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the cake is well risen, springy to the touch and has shrunk slightly from the sides of the tin.

Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then loosen the cake from the sides with a round bladed knife, turn it out, removing the baking paper and finish cooling on a wire rack.
For the butter icing, sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl. Add the butter. Mix the coffee and milk together until the coffee has dissolved, and pour into the bowl. Cream the butter and sugar until smooth and you have an “icing” consistency.

Trim the crispy outer edges off the cooled cake with a serrated knife, then cut and trim if necessary into 4 equal strips. Lay one vanilla and one coffee and ginger strip next to each other, then use a little of the butter icing to stick them together. Spread a little  more icing on the top. Stick the remaining two strips together with icing and place them on top to create a chequerboard effect.
Spread more icing over the top of the assembled cake.

Take the marzipan and roll on a work surface lightly dusted with sifted icing sugar, into an oblong, the length of the cake and sufficiently wide to wrap around the cake. Be careful you don’t roll any cake crumbs onto the marzipan. You may have to roll the marzipan a couple of times to get the right size.

Quickly flip the rolled marzipan over, so the top side you have been rolling will end up as the top side on the cake.

Lay the butter iced side of the cake  (ie the top) on the marzipan, positioning it so that when you lift up one long side, it perfectly covers one side of the cake (this way the join will be neatly in the corner).
Spread the rest of the icing over the remaining three sides of the cake (not the ends). Brush off any crumbs from the marzipan and work surface.

Roll the cake over in the marzipan, pressing to neatly cover it, then brush the corner join lightly with water, pressing it to seal.

Turn the cake over so that the join is underneath. Trim a slim slice from each end of the cake to neaten and show off the chequerboard effect. Smooth the marzipan over with your hands to give it a smooth finish. It’s simply a case of trying to make the marzipan look neat!

I decorated my  battenberg with some pecan praline pieces that I had made – but crystallised ginger or plain pecans, walnuts or almonds would do just as well!

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John Whaite’s Kitchen School – a Fabulous Cooking Course

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Thursday 15 December – and I ventured north into deepest Lancashire to Wrightington, to the John Whaite Kitchen for a one day cooking course making delicate afternoon tea delights. See here for the link.

And this was a really big adventure for this quirky writer – I had travelled all the way from Sydney, Australia to do this course! And of course I’ve also been doing heaps of foodie stuff in the UK along the way, to be featured in later posts.

John was the winner of the Great British Bakeoff 2012, and I am a huge fan of Bakeoff.

“Festive Afternoon Tea with John Whaite” was held in a converted barn on John’s family property, and the vibe from the get go was warm, welcoming and very pre-Christmas festive.

Wonderful smells wafted my way as I entered and sat down with 9 other jolly and eager cooks! Coffee and cinnamon rolls began the day at the big communal table.

John introduced the day in the way he continued throughout our course – friendly, knowledgeable and with a boyish grin. And his naughty sense of humour made the day very entertaining…

Under John’s guidance we made three recipes with a Christmas twist, as well as having John demonstrate an additional recipe.

So Gingerbread Latte Cakes, little Mont Blancs and Fig Prune Port and Stilton Tartlets, plus John’s Cranberry and Orange Scones were created by the class and John during the day. And to add to the Christmas cheer there was mulled cider, its heady scent permeating the cooking space.

What was so impressive about the course was the balance between learning through demonstration and actually using the techniques, as well as John being on hand to troubleshoot our queries.

We made the recipes together, utilising the blast chiller, fridge and ovens to prepare the different stages of each recipe concurrently.

We learnt how to make genoise sponge, short crust pastry and sablé, frangipane, mousse, chocolate ganache and buttercream, all basic techniques of patisserie making.

I have a pretty good understanding of cooking – but this course showed me so many additional techniques, tricks and really good tips!

As readers of this blog know, refinement is not my thing – but John showed me how finessing patisserie is not as difficult as it looks.

One of my culinary aims is to pipe accurately and well. While this is a work in progress, I  think that John’s instruction and demonstrations have given me a lot of confidence to get this skill under control.

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After all the rolling, mixing and piping, and flour, sugar, eggs, cream, chocolate and spices were all fragrantly combined into our afternoon tea delicacies, we sat down at the communal table for our own afternoon tea washed down with glass or two of prosecco. This was a lovely way to finish the day – plus we got to take our beautiful bounty home!

I had a ball! My partner for the day, Kathryn, was delightful and very patient with my piping efforts. The rest of the group were fun and  very supportive too.

I loved the whole thing. Hats off to John for being a great cook, teacher and host!

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