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Victoria Sponge

I love having morning and afternoon teas. It’s a great way to catch up with friends and I like the fact that I can prepare everything in advance, from cakes to scones to sandwiches.

A big favourite is my Victoria Sponge. It’s a delicious cake, and filled with jam or cream, it’s so more-ish. The recipe is based on one from James and Tom Morton’s “Shetland, Cooking on the Edge of the World”.

James describes in vivid detail his grandmother’s recipe. It really is a tribute to her baking skills and to recipes handed down through the family.

Now Queen Victoria would not be at all amused, as I fill my sponge with cream. Sacrilege I know, but I love the ooze of softly whipped cream on top of jam in between those delicious sponge layers!

Ingredients 

150g salted butter

150g caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 medium free-range eggs

150g self raising flour 

1/2 tsp baking powder

Full fat milk, to loosen mixture

To fill and decorate

Strawberry or raspberry or mixed berry jam, homemade or store bought, 

200 mls cream, whipped 

Icing sugar or caster sugar, for the top of the cake

Fresh and crystallised rose petals 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, 160 degrees C fan-forced. Grease 2 18cm (7 inch cake tins with butter, really really well.

Take a large piece baking or parchment paper, fold in half, and draw a circle around one of the tins. With the drawing as a guide, cut out 2 circles.  Line the base of each cake tin with the paper circles. 

Heat the butter in a microwave or in a saucepan on the stove top, to the point where half the butter is just melted, and the rest is soft. Put the butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs into a mixing bowl, or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, and whisk on medium speed until the mixture is very pale and thick, almost mousse like.

Sieve the flour and baking powder, and fold these in gently using a metal spoon, being careful not to overmix. When the mixture is nearly smooth, add a little milk, a dash at a time, to loosen the mixture “until it falls from the spoon in a swift wave”.

Spoon the mixture into the tins, gently smoothing flat. Put the cakes into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown on top and the cakes bounce back when gently pressed.

Take out of the oven, and cool in the tins for 10 minutes. Run a butter or palette knife around the edge of the tins to free the sides. Carefully turn the cakes onto a wire cooling rack. Peel off the baking/parchment paper. Leave to completely cool.

Place one cake, upside down on the plate or cake stand you intend to serve the cake on. Spread with the jam, and then spoon or pipe on the whipped cream. Place the other cake on top. 

Dust with icing or caster sugar, sieved over the cake. I like to serve the cake with fresh and crystallised rose petals.

For the crystallised rose petals:

Take one lovely rose, hopefully growing in your garden, and gently wash and dry each petal. Lightly beat an egg white, with a few drops of rosewater, in a small shallow bowl. Dip each petal in the beaten egg white, shaking off any excess. Put 75g caster sugar on a large plate. Dip each petal in the caster sugar, again shaking off the excess. Place the petals on baking paper on a tray, to dry, in a warm place. 

The petals are quite fragile, but will last a couple of days. They are very useful for decorating cakes, biscuits and tarts. And adding the rosewater intensifies the rose flavour!


Chocolate Mousse Meringue Cake

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Chocolate Mousse Meringue Cake is basically a vacherin with a chocolate mousse filling. Two layers of meringue are sandwiched together with Nigella’s chocolate mousse, whipped cream and strawberries.  Not for the faint hearted, and definitely not for the diet conscious!

Meringues

Ingredients

6 egg whites
1.5 cup caster sugar
A few drops of vanilla essence
1/2tsp balsamic vinegar
3 heaped tbs cocoa or to taste
150g dark chocolate

Method

Preheat oven to 150degrees C (non fan forced).

Place a sheet of baking paper on each of 2 baking trays.
Roughly mark out a circle on each  – about the diameter of a dinner plate.
Spray lightly with non-stick spray.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff.
Gradually beat in sugar, continue beating until very stiff.
Stir in vanilla and vinegar, then stir in cocoa and chopped chocolate.
Spoon onto paper circles.
Place baking trays in centre of oven.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Turn oven off, leave in oven with door ajar for further hour.

Chocolate Mousse

http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/instant-chocolate-mousse-4

When meringues are completely cool, carefully remove from baking paper.
Place 1 meringue with flat side facing up on a plate.
Spoon chocolate mousse onto meringue, top with cut strawberries and then whipped cream.
Place second meringue on top, flat side down.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Decorate with fresh berries and sprinkled chocolate as desired.

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Passionfruit Ice Cream Slice

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Annabel Langbein has a great ice cream recipe which doesn’t require churning.

I have had a number of ice cream makers over the years, and currently have a Sunbeam Gelateria  ice cream maker which I thought would be used heaps as one can make ice cream from scratch in half an hour.

However the machine languishes on my bench top and I use it so infrequently that I have had to get the instruction book out each time I want to use the machine!

There are a number of no churn ice cream recipes that are really good. Here is the link to Annabel’s recipe: http://www.annabel-langbein.com/recipes/pistachio–berry-ice-cream/288

I made a passionfruit version served with fresh passionfruit.  I made a third of the quantity (pictured) which was just enough for two…or one greedy ice cream eater…

The following recipe is the full size quantity as this is probably what you would make for family or friends.

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Passionfruit Ice Cream Slice

Ingredients
3 eggs
10 tbsp caster sugar, divided in half
2 tbsp boiling water
2 cups cream, chilled
6-8 passionfruit pulp, plus pulp of 4 more for sauce.

Method
Line a large 2.5 litre container or 6 molds or ramekins with baking paper.

To make the ice cream base, begin by separating the eggs. Place the egg whites in one bowl and the egg yolks in another, ensuring no yolk gets mixed in with the whites.

Once you have separated all three egg whites, add 5 tbsp of the caster sugar and beat the mixture until it forms stiff peaks. This will take about 6-7 minutes.

Now take the bowl containing the three egg yolks and add the remaining 5 tbsp of caster sugar and the 2 tbsp boiling water. Without washing the beater, beat until the egg yolks are pale, thick and ribbony. You will know they are ready when they hold a figure of eight.

In the third bowl, beat the cream to soft peaks.

Gently add the egg yolk mixture and cream a to the beaten egg whites. Fold together using a large flat spoon, then add the passionfruit pulp. Pour the mixture into the prepared container or molds or ramekins.

Freeze for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight, until set. To serve, lift the ice cream out of its container/s, cut into slices and serve with more passionfruit pulp.
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Cinnamon Scrolls

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Ingredients

Dough
2 cups plain flour
1tbl caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/4 cups thickened cream

Filling
1 tbl butter, melted
1/8 cup caster sugar and 1/8 cup brown sugar
2 tsps cinnamon

Icing
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tbl milk

Extra caster sugar and cinnamon for dusting

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C non fan forced, 160 degrees C fan forced.
Place flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the cream until just combined. If the dough is a little dry, add a little more cream carefully.

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Lightly flour a board and turn the mixture onto the board.
Knead the dough on the floured surface until only just incorporated.
Roll the dough into a large rectangle.

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Combine sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush the dough rectangle with melted butter.
Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the dough.

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Roll the dough from the longest side to form a scroll. Cut into 10 fat slices or 16 smaller slices slices.

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Place slices onto a baking tray.

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Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden (the bigger the slices, the longer the cooking time).
Place on a wire rack and dust with the additional cinnamon and sugar while still hot.
Make the icing by mixing the icing sugar and the milk in a small bowl.
Pour the icing over the scrolls.
Serve warm or room temperature, but do not refrigerate.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

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This is a great chocolate cake! The recipe is from Sophie Dahl’s cook book The Delicious Miss Dahl.

It’s a fllourless chocolate cake so it has a fudgy, moussy texture. The beauty of this cake is that unlike most chocolate based desserts, there is no melting of the chocolate, which can be problematical. You simply process the chocolate with the sugar in the food processor. It seems to be the nearest thing to full proof!

Ingredients
300 gms plain chocolate, broken into pieces
225 gms caster sugar
175 mls boiling water
225 gms salted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
6 free-range eggs, separated
1 tsp instant coffee powder or, alternatively, make a strong espresso and mix a 1/4 cup as part of the boiling water
2 tsp vanilla extract

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced or 180 degrees C non fan-forced.
For the cake, grease and line the base of a 23cm spring form tin with baking paper.
*NOTE (IS): Line tin, and place tin on baking tray lined with foil, as this cake can leak!

Blend the chocolate and sugar in a food processor until a fine powder forms. Add the boiling water, butter, egg yolks, coffee powder (if using) and vanilla extract and blend until well combined.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed, then, using a metal spoon, gently fold into the chocolate mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin, then transfer to the fridge for 2-3 hours.

For the decoration
Spoon whipped cream over the top of the cake and scatter with mixed berries. You could dust with icing sugar or grate chocolate over the top too.

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Meringues

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Meringues – the quickest party food to make at short notice, and so easy. There are a myriad of things you can do with them – serve them on their own, make meringue sandwiches with a cream filling, flavour them, colour them, or pile them high into a meringue mountain which is my favourite thing to do.
Best served with champagne to cut through the cloying sweetness.

Meringue Mountain

Make meringues – flavour and colour of your choice – and pile up croquembouche style sandwiched together with vanilla cream.

Here is my no fail meringue recipe, originally from Margaret Fulton, via an old recipe of my mother.

Meringues

Ingredients
3 egg free range whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup caster sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to very slow – 135 degrees C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Beat egg whites at low speed with an electric mixer until frothy, add cream of tartar and beat on highest speed until peaks hold their shape. Gradually beat in 2 tablespoons of the measured sugar and continue beating for 2-3 minutes. Add all the remaining sugar at once, fold in quickly and lightly with a metal spoon.

Add your flavouring at this point or food colour. In the images below I made pink rosewater meringues as well as plain ones.

Spoon or pipe onto prepared trays. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Leave in oven for a further 1/2 hour or until dry – longer is better.  When cool, store in an airtight container.

As this Quirky writer is a fan of all things rustic, I like my meringues free form  – but you could certainly pipe them for a more formal effect!

Assemble your meringue mountain in whatever way takes your fancy. I decorated the pink and white rosewater meringue mountain with crystallized rose petals.

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The concept for “Meringue Mountain” originated with the sister of Quirky, a very creative and colourful cook!

Note from Quirky sister:

“I make an even easier version using plain meringues cemented with vanilla flavoured whipped cream. This is great for children’s parties, afternoon teas or to serve at a dinner party. The mountain can be either passed around and individual meringues plucked from it or the meringues can be served in clumps in bowls.

I sometimes colour the cream pale pink or green and decorate the spaces between the meringues. I have used crystallised violets and rose petals – but easier and I think more effective are fresh flowers providing of course they are not remotely poisonous.

For an afternoon tea for another of Quirky’s sister’s 70th birthday I used pink plum blossom. The drought had killed most of our violets and I needed to improvise. Violet leaves or vine leaves can also be arranged in a circle to frame the base of the mountain to great effect. These are just some of the things which I do. I am sure other mountain makers will have loads more ideas.

One thing I have promised myself I will do one day is to use chocolate as decoration by moulding dark chocolate on camellia leaves. This technique was first shown to me by our former neighbour, a conservator and always consummately creative.”

The meringue mountain below is made up of sour cherry meringues and chocolate meringues. The recipes for these meringues are from delicious. December2012/January2013.

Meringue Mountain

Chocolate and Raspberry Vacherin 

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I  love meringue  – making it and eating it of course. I cook all versions of egg white and sugar creations from pavlovas to vacherins, dacquoises and plain old meringues.

A vacherin is two discs of meringue sandwiched together with cream and a yummy filling. Chocolate flavoured meringue and cream and raspberries go so well together.

INGREDIENTS

4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
a few drops of vanilla essence
1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 heaped tbs cocoa or to taste
100gms dark chocolate
250mls cream, whipped
300gms frozen raspberries
1 tbs icing sugar

METHOD

Defrost raspberries with icing sugar.
Drain off excess liquid.
Blitz chocolate in food processor until the consistency of breadcrumbs.

Preheat oven to 150degrees C (non fan forced).
Place a sheet of baking paper on each of 2 baking trays.
Roughly mark out a circle on each  – about the diameter of a dinner plate.
Spray lightly with non-stick spray.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff.
Gradually beat in sugar, continue beating until very stiff.
Stir in vanilla and vinegar, then stir in cocoa and chopped chocolate.
Spoon onto paper circles.
Place baking trays in centre of oven.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Turn oven off, leave in oven with door ajar for further hour.

When meringues are completely cool, carefully remove from baking paper.
Place 1 meringue with flat side facing up on a plate.
Spoon cream onto meringue, then raspberries.
Place second meringue on top, flat side down.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Decorate with chocolate shavings or fresh berries as desired.

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