Friday, 29 June 2012

(Cheating) Danish Pastries.

I just started to write this post to you all ‘nothing really exciting today...just a nice way to use up any leftover pastry and crème patissierie that you might have after making the custard tarts of last week’. It maybe felt like a bit of a come down after the air punching, patting-myself-on-the-back fest induced by this week’s other (very brilliant) offering of peanut butter (genius) cupcakes. I clearly am not over them yet.

But then I shook off the relative gloom (in large part a result of the relentless and torrential rain IN JUNE AAAAAGGH) and started patting myself on the back some more. Because, hell, I made Danish Pastries. Ok not reeeeeal Danish Pastries with yeast and trips to Denmark for research and all that jazz. Such right and proper pastries have indeed been on my ‘to bake’ list for a while now but they require methods which I think you will find fairly inaccessible (not in a patronising way, just in an ‘if I haven’t been bothered to get round to it yet, I very much doubt you’ll fancy doing it any time soon’ way).

These though...these are knock-up-able in almost as quick a time as it takes me to choose which uninspiring, disappointingly dry and shrivelled looking pastry I want from the supermarket shelves and then ends in me buying nothing and declaring that homemade muffins will have to do. And let me tell you, muffins, when one wants pastry, simply will not do. So here, make these, especially if you have left over pastry. Because they’re delicious and have all the good qualities of proper shop bought pastries without the bad ones. AND you get to have made your own Danish Pastries.

Oh gosh...I’m waffling. Mmmmwaffles. Yes. Think this house arrest (lack of job and temporary lack of partner and SO MUCH RAIN...IN JUNE...should you want an update) is turning my brain into crème patissiere. So anyway. Make these, make the pastry especially for the purpose, if you feel like it, or use the bought stuff. Whatever. Just don’t leave out the back patting and air punching. With Love and Cake.

Cheating Danish Pastries.

A few notes:
  • I'm not really going to give you very prescriptive instructions here, it's just kind of like 'cut and stick' with pastry and if you're using leftover bits and pieces, grams and spoonfuls is not very helpful. Make any shape and size you want, use any filling you want, make savoury ones, make Nutella ones....go crazy creative. I'll just tell you roughly what I did.
You will need

a baking sheet, greased with butter

shop bought puff pastry or homemade flaky pastry

creme patissiere
maple syrup
pecan nuts, toasted
icing sugar
  • Preheat the oven to 200 °c.
  • For the filling I stirred the maple syrup into the creme patissiere.
  • Now roll out the pastry, in lots and lots of icing sugar, so it's about 1/2 cm thick.
  • I cut some squares and some rectangles and dolloped the mapley creme patissiere in the middle of each.
  • On some creme patissiere blobs I sprinkled blueberries and on others, pecans. 
  • Now for the folding. The rectangles, I folded the long sides into the middle, and the squares, I got a bit creative like this.....

  • ...or you could just fold the four corners into the middle to meet each other, like I did with one of them.
  • When they're all ready to go, get them on you baking sheet and bake in the hot oven fro 15-20 minutes (or more or less depending on the size of your pastries).
  • When the pastries are golden and crispy, remove from the oven and move immediately onto a wire rack to cool, you don't want any sugar to cool and set and stick everything to the baking sheet.
  • Dust liberally with icing sugar, eat and air punch.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Peanut Butter Heaven, I Mean Cupcakes.

Ooooww, oH ooooooooooooooooooooooooooomm. There are no words. There are NO WORDS. When I die, if I keep being good (shhh don’t tell), I will go here, right HERE, to the middle of this cupcake, so I can roll around in its wondrousness and know that I've made it all the way to heaven. But hey...why keep being good, they’re here, on earth, and you can go and make them now, today, and know that heaven on earth is in a cupcake. 

Ok, so I knew they would be good when I embarked upon the PB cupcake mission, but really, I would think an old battery tasted delish if you wrapped it up in natural peanut butter. But seeeeeeerioulsy. I had no clue that new heights of kitchen pleasure would be achieved. 

The sponge...pretty immensely peanut buttery. But it’s the icing that really does it; all fluffy and light and marshmallow and, of course, peanut buttery....but not in a claggy way, which I know is one of the thing peanut butter haters (what a strange breed) complain about. It’s the ‘Fluff’ you see, that weird American invention which is basically marshmallow in a jar, and is ever more of a pleasure to me because iiiiit’s veggie (yes people, marshmallows are not vegetarian usually and the deprivation is a struggle).

If you can’t find ‘Fluff’ or Marshmallow Creme’.....Hunt It. Down. Mine was a gift from one of my favourite people but I have it on good authority that Harvey Nicks is its original source. But even my local farm shop has it (obviously best shop EVER). If you really can’t find it or find the idea a bit repulsive, I understand, just omit it and you’ll have a regular peanut butter buttercream. Either way....MAKE THESE. Do a Nigella and shun guilt while taking earthly pleasure where you can. With Love and Cake.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes.
Icing inspiration from the Cookbook Queen herself.

A few notes:
  • If the dunking in chocolate parts is one step too far into faff-dom for you then feel free to skip it, you can see that they look just as lovely without there brown coat.
  • You might end up with a bit of icing and chocolate left over...I really don't see this as a hardship.
Makes 8
You will need

For the sponges
1x12 hole muffin pan, lined with 8 muffin cases

55g soft butter
170g smooth peanut butter
110g caster sugar
1 egg
a splosh of vanilla extract
155g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
155ml milk

For the icing
110g soft butter
110g peanut butter
1 splosh vanilla
2 tbsp milk
225g icing sugar
1/2 jar Fluff

For the chocolate layer
150g chocolate, milk or dark or a combo
50g butter

  • First job....get your oven to 180°c.
  • Then fill the empty holes in your muffin tin (as in, the ones with no muffin cases) with water. This just allows the heat to be distributed more evenly and everything cooks as equally as poss once in the oven.
  • Now to make the sponge. In a nice big bowl cream the butter, peanut butter and sugar together with an electric hand whisk or a wooden spoon.
  • Beat in the egg and vanilla until everything is well combined and the mixture is light and fluffy looking.
  • Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold into the mix.
  • Finally stir through the milk and divide the sandy coloured batter between the 8 muffin cases.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until risen and golden.
  • Allow the cakes to cool completely before even thinking about applying the icing.
  • When it is icing time....beat the butter, peanut butter, vanilla and milk together until well combined and you have a nice smooth paste. 
  • Sift over the icing sugar a bit at a time and beat in to combine.
  • Finally stir through the Fluff until just gentle, you don't want to beat the fluffyness out.
  • Pipe or spoon the icing onto the cakes, tryingtrying not to eat it all from the bowl.
  • For the final dunking stage...melt the chocolate and butter together with short blasts in a medium microwave, being careful to check it regularly, burnt chocolate is not nice. Or you could use a double boiler.
  • Pop the lovely liquid chocolate in a mug or little bowl that is just a bit wider and taller than the icing part of the cupcake.
  • Slowly and carefully dunk the icing of each cake into the chocolate, pull it out slowly and turn the right way up. L
  • eave to set to a soft, shiny, ohso heavenly shell. There are NO WORDS. 

Friday, 22 June 2012

Portuguese Custard Tarts.

Helllllloo there. This 'ere is a Dad pud. But that's kind of weird, because Dad has a thing for horrid puds, uh like trifle and custard tart and things that are squishy and wobbly. But this, these little round, rustic looking tarts, are lovely as well as being Dad-ish. 

Well I guess he doesn't just like things I think are bad....we both have a strong affection for Thomas Hardy, and he likes Bruce and his E Street Band, who, of course, I likelikeLOVE, and pastry, oh yesss we do both quite like a bit of pastry.

It's just odd because I think of custard tart as something Dad likes, because, you know, he has to because he's Northern (don't know why I think of it as a Northern treat, because it's not, but heyho.....), and it's something I would nnneeever choose. BUT...loook at theeeese, how can one not like them. They have a much higher pastry to filling ratio than a slice of the English classic, aaaaand it's puff pastry so is all light and lovely and means the wobbly, vanilla heavy filling is always accompanied by a texture that isn't jellyish.

In short these are very very tasty and likeable, especially if you're a custard tart fan, and even if you're not usually. So make them...and make a pavlova with the egg whites you have left over and feast, or...the other way round. With Love and Cake.

Portuguese Custard Tarts.
Recipe from Pastry by Richard Bertinet.

A few notes:
  • This is the sort of recipe for which the type of tin you use reallyreally makes a difference. You really want a good quality, heavy and non-stick muffin pan, otherwise be prepared for sticking and spilling and tears. The tarts will still taste lovely of course but I wouldn't risk your heart.
  • These are however, meant to look misshapen and burnt on top. The cinnamon gets sort of singed and gives a lovely smokey flavour and the homemade feel is a major part of the joy.
  • You might have a bit of creme patissiere and pastry left can either make more tarts or do what I did and freeze both bits of leftovers with plans to head into improvised danish pastry territory sometime soon.
  • DON'T be scared of creme patissiere, the name of the method.
Makes 12
You will need

a 12 hole muffin pan, greased very well

For the creme patissiere
500ml whole milk
seeds of 1 vanilla pod or splosh of vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
120g caster sugar
50g plain flour

2 x quantities of homemade quick flaky pastry or 500g of shop bought puff pastry
sprinkling of cinnamon

  • First job is to make the creme pop the milk and vanilla in a fairly large, heavy bottomed (heeee) saucepan and heat until almost boiling.
  • Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl until the mixture has expanded and is light and creamy looking.
  • Then whisk the flour in to the egg mixture.
  • When the milk is juuuuuust starting to bubble, slowly slowly pour it over the egg yolks, whisking all the time.
  • When the milk is all whisked in, pour the custard back into the pan and heat gently until it comes to the boil, whisking fairly often so as not to let the bottom catch and burn.
  • Cook at boiling point for 1 minutes, whisking constantly and it should thicken to a nice thick, heaven scented mixture.
  • That's it, you've made creme patissiere. Pop it in a clean bowl and allow to cool and then chill until you need it.
  • Then it's time to make the pastry or pop to the shops to buy some.
  • When you're custard tart ready, preheat the oven to 180°c and roll out the pastry in lots of icing sugar and cut circles big enough to line your muffin pan so you have a good almost-centimetre of overhang.
  • Press the pastry circles into the muffin holes and fill with creme pattissiere.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon over the top of each tart if you fancy, though it is very optional, and pop in the oven to bake until the pastry is golden and the custard is wrinkly and singed.
  • When the tarts are out of the oven leave for just a few moments before carefully removing them from the pan...if you leave them for any longer the icing sugary bits will harden and stick everything together with devastating effect.
  • Eat, I think, at room temperature, with Dad if can.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Secret Mango and Passion Fruit Pavlova. don’t really need words for this do you. You know the drill...criiiispy, ‘only there for a moment’ meringue encasing a shiny, soft, billowing pillow of a marshmallow middle and topped with clouds and clouds of bland, but in a heavenly way, cream. And on top of that party, a jewel like patchwork of fruit and treats.

See, words are rubbish...they don’t convey even a teensy portion of the real joy that a mouthful of pav provides. But you know, don’t you?

What you miiiiight not know though, is that this ‘oooo’ inducing, showstopper of a pud is really very easy on the chef. The hardest part is taking the complements graciously while still pretending a little bit like it was actually, yes, quite a feat of engineering, thank you (oh gosh, I’m a terrible person).

As long as you’ve got a few hours to let it sit, snug in the oven, it requires no sweat and toil from you. That is unless you don’t have an electric whisk or that case, just count it as your day’s exercise, because it might be a tad toil inducing. But that just means you actually deseeeerve the ‘ooooo’s. Well done you. Me though...I’ll take them anyway, just don’t tell. With Love and Cake.

Mango, Passion Fruit and Coconut Pavlova.

A few notes:
  • Pavs are as versatile as your regular could top it with any number of concoctions; berries are a fav for summer, and pears, nuts and chocolate is a great wintery combination. And, if the worst comes to worst and you have a pav disaster, you can crush it all up and go down the Eton Mess route.
  • If you're not making this because you're left with egg whites from another recipe, you're going to be wondering what will come of your half dozen leftover yolks....fear not, I have the perfect recipe just around the corner. Portuguese custard tart anyone? And if you just can't about this beauuuutiful biscuit recipe
  • Use an electric hand whisk if you can....unless you're training for the Olympics.

Makes one giiiiant pav
You will need

1 large baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper

6 egg whites
pinch salt
300g caster sugar
350ml double cream
1 small, super ripe mango, sliced
The pulp and seeds of 1 passion fruit
1 tbsp dessicated coconut, toasted under the grill for a few moments
  • First job...preheat your oven to 120°c.
  • Whisk up your egg whites with the salt so they form stiff in, when you pull the whisk out they leave behind a nice proud looking mountain that doesn't flop over, if it flops, keep whisking.
  • Then add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly until eventually you have a shiny and thickened cloud.
  • To make sure your greaseproof paper doesn't move around on the baking sheet dab a bit of the meringue mixture in each corner of the baking sheet and press the paper on top.
  • Make a nice big disc, with a slight dip in the middle, of meringue on the baking sheet and bake for 2 hours 30 minutes.
  • When the time is up, turn the oven off but leave the pavlova inside to cool slowly.
  • When it's cool and ready for its toppings, softly whip the cream and spread gently over the meringue.
  • Top with the mango slices, drizzle over the passion fruit pulp and sprinkle the coconut over the top.
  • Stand proud and keep quiet. 

Friday, 15 June 2012

Friday Afternoon Oat and Coconut Cookies.

Oh dear....Hi....I think if I’m not careful this could easily turn all ‘Woe Is Me’, and that’s no good for anyone. I’m not woeful, so don’t worry about that...I just think my body feels a bit like it could do with being separated from my brain for a bit. Its brain is mean and nasty you see and keeps forcing it to do things it doesn’t want to do like waking to alarms set for times with sixes in them, and running around outside on days so windy it makes running dooooowwn hill a struggle and cycling....CYCLING, this body was not built for anyone’s??

I think Miss Body would like to just take off her hat for a while and remain very still and very horizontal for a whiiiiiile. And then she would like to stir, just a tiny bit, just enough to notice a big duvet hug and take in the joy of a film with a guaranteed happy know the sort of thing, will they, won’t they, oww they broke up, aaaahh they’re back together again happily ever after. A biscuit or 2 would also not be unwelcome.

Thing is though, you can’t temporarily take your hat off, and this hat seems to have given up being able to allow much’s always on my to do list, it’s just that it’s the last point on the list; coming after bread making, pants folding, running up and down hills, finding things and writing more lists. And something aaaalllways happens which means the 24 hours that I’ve written this list for shrink right down, to almost nothing, leaving no time for lounging. A shame really as I have a nice range of louuunge weeeear (for some reason you just have to say loooounge weeeeear all posh and elllonnggaaaattted).

Oh presuming that’s just what happens when you’re not 12 anymore. But at least not being 12 anymore means you can eat biscuits whenever you want and you get to put too much sugar in your coffee...and that is what I shall do to stop this body’s nose getting any closer to this keyboard in front of it. With Love and Cake.

Oat and Coconut Cookies.
From Breakfast, Lunch, Tea by Rose Carrarini

A few notes:
  • These are soft and chewy and sweet and syrupy tasting. The perfect side to your afternoon coffee on those Fridays on which you require an extra kick up the bum to see you through to the end. A spot of Van Morrison to accompany them doesn't go amiss either.
  • Apparently they are Australian and otherwise known as Anzacs. You won't care what they're called though, when you've got a mouthful.
  • I used half plain flour and half wholemeal bread flour here, because I wanted a bit more bite than 100% white flour could provide and bread flour was the only wholemeal I had to hand. Feel free though to go all plain or use regular wholemeal, either as a half or for the whole amount.
Makes around 20
You will need

a large baking sheet, lined

125g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
80g plain flour
80g wholemeal flour
100g desiccated coconut
180g soft light brown sugar
100g rolled oats
pinch of salt 
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp recently boiled water

  • Oven....160°c.
  • Pop the butter and syrup in a small saucepan and heat gently so the butter melts.
  • Stir the flour, coconut, sugar, oats and salt together in a bowl.
  • Mix together the bicarb and water and pour into the syrup and butter mixture.
  • Pour the syrupy loveliness over the dry ingredients and mix so everything is well combined and you have a stiff dough.
  • Break walnut sized blobs of dough off and use your hands to shape them into patties, around 5 centimetres across.
  • Lay them on your baking sheet with plenty of room for expansion (I cooked mine in 2 batches).
  • Bake for 15 minutes until puffed up a bit and golden.
  • Once out of the oven, leave the cookies to firm up on the baking sheet for 5 minutes or so; they will sink and become more cookie like.
  • Pop the cookies onto a wire rack to cool completely or grab your mug, press play and have a happier afternoon.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Blueberry Cream Cheese Loaf; not at all weird.

Do you know....Americans have this thing called coffee cake. No strangeness there you suppose; the very British coffee and walnut cake is a tea house staple and with lots of coffee buttercream, very good it is too. But there IS weirdness here because, you see, (and it did take a fair amount of Google-ing before I myself saw) American coffee cake has absolutely nothing to do with coffee until you, the eater of said cake, sit it next to your own steaming cup of, well, you know, coffee.

That is weird isn't it? I mean it's pretty much mandatory to accompany a slice of that old English fav Vicky sponge with a china cup of tea, but that doesn't mean we call it tea cake.Tea cake HAS TEA IN IT. 

See...weird. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being mean to ours friends across the pond. Come on now, they invented peanut butter M&Ms and have the endlessly charismatic Mr Obama on their side; they must have good hearts. Just cake naming issues. Though I suppose coming from the country of the 'fat rascal' and 'iced fingers', I guess we're in no position to judge.

So anyhooo, the recipe that inspired this loaf cake is American and classified as 'coffee cake', but I felt compelled to 'English it up a bit'. Hence, blueberry and cream cheese loaf cake. Eat whenever you want, with whatever you want. Though FYI it does indeed make the MOST delish, if a tad indulgent, breakfast. With Love and Cake.

Blueberry and Cream Cheese Loaf Cake.

A few notes:
  • Of course, if bluebs aren't your thing, use any berry you fancy. Local rasps would be summer heaven.
  • I haven't quite got to this stage yet, but I imagine, when this cake is a few too many days old, that it would be wonderful toasted and spread with something yummy.
Make one big loaf cake
You will need

1 large loaf tin, greased and lined

200g cream cheese, fridge cold
250g butter, at room temp
200g caster sugar
3 eggs
210g self raising flour
90g plain flour
4 tbsp milk
100g blueberries, fresh or frozen

  • Ordinary first job...preheat your oven to 180°c.
  • Now for the cream cheese; cut into cubes as best you can, though it will be more like blobs, and pop back in the fridge to firm up.
  • Meanwhile, cream the butter and sugar together until creamy and light. 
  • Then beat in the eggs, one at a time, as well as a tablespoon of flour with each egg addition.
  • Fold in the rest of the flour and then the milk so everything is well combined and you have a soft, but fairly stiff consistency.
  • Finally, gently fold through the berries and cubed cream cheese so it remains in little blobs rather than getting totally mixed in.
  • Pour the mixture into your loaf tin and get in the oven where it will need to bake for up to 1 1/4 hours, though check after 1 hour. At this stage if it needs longer but the top is browned enough, cover with a bit of foil.
  • When it's golden and firm, leave to cool for a good while in its tin before turning out and leaving to cool completely...oooorr, I suppose, you could put the kettle on and dive right in.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Iced Coffee...In Hope.

Okok I know todaaaaaay might not be an Iced Coffee day. Well it might be with you I guess, living in the microclimate of eternal sunshine and crystal seas of Cornwall, but I know most places, on this June day (JUNE...COME ON), are facing weather warnings and inside out umbrellas.

Seriously....Whhhhhhy do we do this to ourselves. ‘Summer’. It doesn’t meaaaaan anything. “Have a nice summer.” “What shall we do this summer.” “See you over the summer.” Really, summer = that time when Wimbledon gets rained on, Glastonbury gets rained on and the washing, hung outside in a cloud free moment, gets rained on.

The most important summer related phrase is “are you going anywhere nice this summer?” Because really, that’s the only thing to do...ruuuun. Run to somewhere with a real summer. Somewhere where you don’t risk a heart attack by jumping in the sea. And somewhere where Iced Coffee is the standard, not the celebration of 2 hours of temps above 20°.

Heck...we live here though, so we best just buck up, pop the heating back on and get on with it I spose. Howeeeveeeeer in eternal hope, I suggest you get some of this ready and waiting in your freezer, just in case there’s a day around the corner on which the sun shines favourable on us, because when that day arrives, yes when, it'll be too late. Fingers cross, sun dance danced and sun god worshipped. With Love and Cake.

Iced Coffee.

A few notes:
  • Basically this is coffee ice cubes, defrosted in milk. Simple. So I won't get faffy with specific measurements. Hope you don't mind.
  • It's actually a great way to use up coffee that's left over, and has maybe been sitting around in the cafetiere for a while. Any time you find more than just the dregs left over, pour them in an ice cube tray and add to your stash.
  • I usually put a lot of sugar in the coffee before I freeze it. I like supersweet coffee anyway but something happens to cold coffee which I think makes it extra bitter. So maybe give it a quick taste before you freeze it and make it a tad sweeter than you would usually enjoy.
You will need 

Strong black coffee

  • Ok so first you need to sweeten your black coffee to just a bit sweeter than you usually like by stirring in some sugar so it dissolves (see notes).
  • Then pour it into ice cube trays and pop in your freezer.
  • When it's frozen, transfer your coffee ice cubes into a plastic food bag and keep stashed at the bag of your freezer and keep your fingers crossed for a sunny day.
  • On that elusive occasion, a few hours before you want the drink, or maybe before a picnic a or lunch, fill your vessel; be it a single glass, big jug, or outdoors friendly Thermos, with your coffee ice cubes and pour over enough of your favourite milk to cover.
  • Slowly slowly the coffee goodness will melt into it's milky surroundings and give you heaven on a hot day. Enjoy. And never EVER complain about the heat. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Right Royal Lemon Cake.

Well helloooo there. I doooo hope you’ve been having muchmuch Jubilee fun. I kiiiiind of want to not care and to poopoooo the whole notion, a millionaire Gran in a hat having Gary Barlow through her a party, as a tacky indulgence, but alas, I am not that person. Somehow, at some point I became the person that threw a Royal Wedding parting and made a red, white and blue cake and made red, white and blue bunting out of cardboard and string. I am not is me and my ‘any excuse for joy and excitement’ soul. It could be worse, I could care about Made in Chelsea...oh wait....moving swiftly on.

This year, I didn’t quite reach the party throwing point; people up here across the border seem to care veeery little about the whole thing. I think the wedding was just more of a ‘thing’ because of the St Andrews connection. But I diiiiiid dust off the bunting and, of course, I made a cake. A lemon cake with lemon buttercream and white chocolate ganache to be exact. This is in fact the same one I made for my Royal Wedding do, and I think it’s one I’ll return to as a brill, fairly simple but rather spectacular centrepiece. For this occasion though I thought I’d omit the food colouring; a bit more class seemed appropriate this year; don’t think you’d EVER find HRH tucking into a red, white and blue cake.

While it IS simple I prOMise, there are a few steps required if you are to get the full ‘party cake’ effect. None of them are fiddly or majorly effortful, but they do require time, not from you, just in general, to cool and set etc, so you need to start off your efforts at least the day before you want to serve.

Allllllso, this is one of my beloved vegetable cakes....a courgette lemon sponge in fact, and therefore a million times more moist than it deserves and just gets moister and moister as time goes by. It also means there is noooo butter in the cake mix...allowing room for all that icing. You will need it, there is A LOT, but that’s the way I like it. I hope you do too. Happy Jubilee. With Love and Cake.

Lemon and White Chocolate Celebration Cake.
Adapted from Harry Eastwood's magnificent Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache.

A few notes:
  • I'm guessing you probably don't have 4x18cm cake tins, I know I don't. In fact I had to fiddle with the original recipe which was written for 3 tins, which is why the measurements are a bit random. So what to do...hopefully you have 2x18cm tins so just halve the recipe and make 2 layers, and then start again and make the other 2. The tricky thing is the cant really halve an egg. So...easiest thing to do is to go by volume; 7 beaten eggs is about 400ml, so use 200ml for each half.
  • Of course though if your 'occasion' is not quite up to Jubilee status and you don't fancy quite so much effort and faff, just stick to two layers. And while you're at it, it would still be a fabulous cake without one or other of the icings, or totally bare naked if you prefer.
  • My stars and hearts...I LOVE. Allllll they are is melted while chocolate poured into silicone ice cube trays (hearts) and cookie cutters on greaseproof paper (stars) and left to set. Dust with a spot of edible glitter and don your party hat.
Makes a rather tall 18cm, 4 layered cake
You will need

For the sponge
4x18cm loose bottomed cake tins, greased and lined

7 eggs
270g caster sugar
430g courgette, finely grated
290g plain flour
190g ground almonds
4 tsps baking powder
zest of 4 lemons
3 tbsp strawberry jam (or your fav)

For the buttercream
100g butter, at room temp
400g icing sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice

For the ganache
150g double cream
150g white chocolate, finely chopped

  • Ok, here we go. First, as always, preheat you oven to 180°c.
  • Now whisk together your eggs and sugar for a good few minutes until pale and bubbling full of air.
  • Next, whisk in the grated courgette, then sift in the flour and fold it in to the eggs with the ground almonds, baking powder and zest until well combined.
  • Pour a quarter of the mixture into each of the prepared tins and bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch.
  • Leave the cakes to cool in the time for around 10 minutes, and then turn out and and remove the greaseproof paper, leaving to cool completely before icing.
  • While the cooling is happening you can get on with the buttercream. Just whisk the soft butter until it is nice smooth paste.
  • Then add the icing sugar and lemon juice a bit at a time; whisking to combine and scraping down the bowl in between each addition.
  • Now to make the ganache. It's easy. Pop the cream in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring juuuust to the boil. 
  • Pour straight over the finely chopped chocolate and let sit for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, so that the heat left in the cream slowly melts the chocolate. It wont take long.
  • When it's smooth and all melted, give it a good stir and leave in the fridge while you get on with the other bits and bobs. 
  • So now you've done the hard it's just time for a little prettifying.
  • First stack the cakes on your serving dish, spreading 1 tbsp of jam on the top of each cake as you go, just leaving the very top bare.
  • Now for the buttercream. First you want to do a 'crumb layer', which basically means use about 1/4 of the buttercream to ice the cake in a thin layer all over, and you'll notice that all the loose crumbs get caught and stuck in the icing. Now the cake needs 30 mins or so in the fridge, which will trap all the crumbs and stop them poking through into your proper layer of buttercream.
  • When the 'crumb layer' is cold and set, it's time to ice the cake with the rest of the buttercream and give it another 15 minutes or so in the fridge.
  • When that's done it's time for the ganache. It needs just to be poured over the cake and left to drizzle but only do this when the ganache has had a good few hours in the fridge and is not very far from being set, otherwise it'll slip right off and you'll have a very messy kitchen and a ganache-less cake.
  • Now, you've done for the addition of a few white chocolate twiddles if you fancy and a flourish of're ready to celebrate. Just don't forget to invite me.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Spontaneous Strawberry and Elderflower Waffles.

I had visions of these before I actually cobbled them together. I thought they were going to stand all tall and fluffy, studded beautifully with shiny, ruby strawbs. That was the plan, and you know that I’m a bit of a one for a plan. Just can’t help myself.

The reality, as you can see, was a little different. More sunken and all moody coloured; in fact quite less than the joyous red and white theme I had in mind. But do you know, sometimes I just have to accept that a plan is sometimes more of a hindrance than a help. Sometimes, I just have to force a deep breath on myself and go with it, whatever ‘it’ maybe.

Obviously an extensive, to the minute plan made 2 weeks in advance involving several lists is preferable. But in this case it would be sad if my glowing, spongy vision detracted from the more subtle tasting, dense but not heavy, alllllmost squidgy yummyness that my stray from the planned path culminated in. A lesson for life I guess.

Ooops sozzles, didn’t mean to get all profound on you...eheeee, cake, giggles and all things airyfairy. Best to redress the balance between serious and fluffy. Now, I’m off to right a list. With Love and Cake.

Strawberry and Elderflower Waffles
Oringinal Waffle recipe from Jamie O's Christmas Magazine

A few notes:
  • If you're not in possession of bottles of last years elderflower cordial that need using asap (oops) and don't fancy buying any specially, just use a few teaspoons of caster sugar to mix with the strawberries and mix icing sugar into the mascarpone.
  • Of course the strawbs don't have to come into it at all, if you fancy waffle straight up, head here for the original recipe.
  • It is VERY IMPORTANT that you use a non-stick pan here. The sugary strawbs will NOT make it easy on you when it comes to flipping if your pan is not non-stick, however much butter you use to grease. Trust me.
Serves 4
You will need

A non-stick pan, about 18cm across, very well buttered

1 egg
150ml milk
110g self raising flour
1 1/4 tsps baking powder
50g butter, melted
150g strawberries, quartered
2 tbsps elderflower cordial
serve with mascarpone spiked with a slash of elderflower corial

  • First we need to make the waffle batter. Whisk together the egg and milk and then beat in the flour, baking powder and cooled melted butter; stopping stirring as soon as everything is combined.
  • Set this aside to rest for half an hour.
  • Meanwhile mix the strawberries with the cordial and let them sit too.
  • When the half hour is up, pop the pan on a medium heat and get nice and hot.
  • At the final moment, mix the strawberries into the batter with as few stirs as poss and pour into the hot pan.
  • Cook for 5ish minutes on the first side until at least 50% of the batter is set and firm and you can have a peek and see that the underside is golden and lovely looking.
  • Now for flipping. The easiest was to do it is to slide the half cooked waffle onto a plate, uncooked side remaining up. Then hover the pan, upside down, over the waffle and turn plate and pan over so the waffle has no choice but to plop into the plan, cooked side up.
  • Cook for about another 5 minutes until all is firm and burnished.
  • Noooow it's ready for you. Splodge on some sweetened mascarpone and a few extra strawbs and feel spontaneous.