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Muscat Cake with Raisins and Walnuts

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This is a versatile recipe as it can be made in different sizes, served as a dessert or just as a treat. It’s quite easy to make – another food processor mixture which I love! The most time consuming aspect is soaking the raisins beforehand.

Ingredients

1 cup of raisins

1/4 cup muscat

125g self-raising flour

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

A handful of chopped walnuts

Muscat syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 water

1/4 cup muscat

 

Method

Place the raisins into a bowl with the muscat and leave to soak for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. For small cakes, grease a muffin tin. Or, for a larger cake, grease a 20cm round cake tin. I happened to have a small square tin on hand, so I used that, as well filling the remainder of the mixture into muffin molds.

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Put all the ingredients except raisins, muscat and walnuts in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Carefully fold the raisins and muscat and then the walnuts into the mixture. If the mixture looks too wet or sloppy, add a tablespoon or two more of flour.

Spoon mixture into the muffin tin or cake tins. Tap lightly to settle the mixture.

Place the tin/s in the oven and bake for 20 minutes for muffins,  35-4o minutes for the round cake tin or until the muffin/cakes are cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. I cannot be more  precise than this as the mixture has a lot of liquid and it’s difficult to judge exact cooking times.

Meanwhile, to make the syrup, put the sugar and water in a heavy based saucepan, stirring until dissolved. Then boil for 5 minutes without stirring or until the the syrup has reduced to stickiness but not toffee. Take off the heat and add the muscat.

Remove the muffins/cake from the oven and pierce all over with a skewer. Pour over the hot syrup.

Cool the muffins/cake in the tin/tins. Turn out carefully as the the cakes can be quite fragile with the infused syrup.

Serve with a scattering of raisins and walnuts in any left over syrup.

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Scarlet Berry and Mandarin Cake with Meringue Buttercream

IMG_3014I am now the proud owner of a Kitchenaid! It’s scarlet red, very shiny and lovely to look at. And SO easy to use. A gift from my friends for a special birthday, organized by Mlle X.

IMG_2770So this was Kitchenaid christening weekend. I’m  a devotee of The Great British Bakeoff http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b013pqnm. After watching an episode I just have to bake.

The cake is loosely based on a recipe from that program by Mary Berry. I substituted whole mandarins plus some marmalade for the all-marmalade version.

The cake is not for the fainted hearted, as it is dense and fruity and quite heavy. I think I would make the all-marmalade version next time. The equal quantities of butter to sugar made it a little rich, so maybe a little less butter would lighten it too. But if you want a dense and flavourful cake, you certainly achieve that here.

I filled and iced the cake with meringue buttercream. The Kitchenaid produced a stunning result! Mega rich!

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Cakes (2)

Ingredients

200g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
4 large free range eggs
200g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 small whole mandarins, chopped and blitzed in a food processor
2 tbsp milk
3 tbsp chunky Seville orange marmalade

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Butter two 20 cm round cake tins and line with baking paper. Butter the paper.
Cream the softened butter with a Kitchenaid or similar mixer until soft and creamy. Beat in the sugar gradually, then continue to beat until it becomes pale and fluffy.
Gradually beat in the eggs, beating well after each addition.Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and gently fold into the mixture with a large metal spoon. When thoroughly combined, stir in the blitzed mandarins, marmalade and milk.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins and spread evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown and and a skewer inserted in the cakes comes out clean. Run a round bladed knife around the inside of the tin to loosen and then carefully turn the cakes out onto a wire rack. Flip to right side up. Allow the cakes to cool completely before filling and icing.

Meringue Buttercream 

Ingredients
4 egg whites
2 cups white sugar
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Method
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 frosting consistency.
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Filling and Topping

Spread one of the cakes, thickly, with half the buttercream using a palette knife. top with sliced strawberries or other scarlet fruit, and a little fruit from any good marmalade. I used my homemade mandarin marmalade.

Top with the remaining cake, ice with the remaining buttercream, and decorate with berries and marmalade fruit as you fancy!

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Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Carrots

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I found this recipe in a fabulous cook book of mine, the Silver Palate Cookbook. This book, plus the follow up The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, are treasure troves of stunning recipes; some hearty, some fancy, some healthy, some decadent!
The carrot cake recipe is unusual is that it contains cooked carrots. These give the cake a deep, slightly caramelized, flavour.
I have added ground ginger as well as cinnamon, as ginger works well with carrot. You can omit the walnuts, as I did in the pictured cake, for your nut free friends.
The candied baby carrots were my addition, and they looked really pretty and tasted great!
Ingredients
Carrot Cake

3 cups plain flour
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tbl bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp each ground cinnamon and ground ginger
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbl vanilla extract
1 1/2 walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 1/3 cup pureed cooked carrots
3/4cup drained crushed pineapple

Cream Cheese Frosting

250gms cream cheese, at room temperature
100gms reduced salt butter, at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla pate
Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Grease two 23 cm springform tins.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in the walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.

Pour the batter into the prepared tins. Place on the centre rack of the oven and bake until the edges have pulled away from the sides and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, about  50 minutes.

Cool on a cake rack for 3 hours. Fill and frost the cake with the cream cheese frosting.

Cream together cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Slowly sift in the icing sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated. Mixture should be free of lumps. Stir in vanilla, and lemon juice if desired.

Decorate with candied carrots and sifted icing sugar.

Candied Carrots

Take 6 baby carrots, trim, leaving some green tops.
Keep smaller carrots whole and slice larger carrots in halves or quarters through the length of carrot.

In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil, brushing the sides of the saucepan with cold water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. Add carrots, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until carrots are translucent, about 25 minutes.

In another small saucepan, combine 1.5 cups of sugar with .5 cup water. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil, brushing the sides of the saucepan with cold water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. When the sugar has completely dissolved, remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer candied carrots from the syrup in which they boiled to this new sugar syrup. Let stand until completely cooled; discard the old syrup.

Transfer carrots to some baking paper, gently pat dry with kitchen towel. The carrots can be used to decorate the cake or stored for a couple of days in an airtight container.

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