magic cake

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The ingredients for magic cake are straightforward: butter, sugar, eggs, flour, milk. The magic is created with the proportion of the ingredients and when baked at a low temperature, it separates into 3 layers: the lowest layer is a dense cake, the middle layer creamy custard and the top layer is a crunchy, light genoise sponge. This recipe was from the telegraph.

500ml milk
2 vanilla pods
4 eggs, separated
150g sugar
1tbsp vanilla extract
125g butter
110g flour

scrape the seeds from the vanilla pods, heat seeds and pods with milk until boiling
remove and leave to cool and infuse for 1hr
beat egg yolks with sugar and vanilla extract until thick
melt butter and add to mixture
fold in flour
add milk little by little
whisk egg whites till soft peaks and fold into mixture, no need to mix thoroughly, there should be lumps of egg white floating in a liquid mixture
bake at 150ºC in a lined tin for around 50mins
leave to cool in tin before turning out, chill in fridge to set

Very tasty and rich. A little less sugar next time, I find with most baking recipes I need to reduce the amount of sugar. My magic cake didn’t separate as well as the ones people post; the bottle dense layer probably needed a little more cooking. I was also impatient and ate a slice before it had a chance to chill in the fridge.

Definitely must make again. Most people credit jocooks as the originator of magic cake recipes and she has many different flavours like lemon, chocolate, butterscotch (ouch, too sweet probably), coconut.

#60: tiny but intense chocolate cake [recipe]

Task #60 of 101.1001 is to open a cookbook to a random page and make whatever comes up.

Because of differences in terminology and how ingredients are measured, I never use American recipes. For the longest time the only American food website I visit was simply recipes because of the old MT-loyalty thing. Gradually I added smitten kitchen, especially after Ms Perelman added proper measurements to her recipes. I bought her book when it came out, even got an autographed copy.

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So when I decided I should start cooking again, as in not just day-to-day cooking, I grabbed the book and opened it up. There, on page 250, is a recipe for tiny but intense chocolate cake. Looks divine, and very simple to make with easy ingredients. Can’t find it on her website, but it was on house and garden. I love the description:

In the short list of recipes I think any baker should have – or simply any person with friends, who delights in making those friends happy – is a chocolate cake to be thrown together just because I… Well, actually I did not know today was your birthday. Of course I am free tonight!

85g butter – the book says 85g, online recipe says 115g
115g chocolate
3 eggs, separated
65g sugar – online recipe says 45g
vanilla extract – i made it myself
pinch of sea salt
pinch of cinnamon

Melt the butter in a small saucepan until almost brown. Remove from heat, add chocolate and stir until chocolate has melted. Let the mixture cool.

Whisk egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon until smooth. I only used about 10g sugar because I was using toblerone instead of 70% chocolate. Add chocolate mixture. Whisk egg whites separately until stiff peaks, then fold into chocolate mixture.

Bake at 180ºC for 15-20mins until skewer comes out clean.

Remove from oven, allow to cool inside tin. The cake will deflate and come away from the side of the tin, at which time it’s okay to take out.

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The recipe says to use one 15cm/6-inch tin, but I only have the standard sized ones so I used even smaller 12cm/5-inch tins. Yielded 3 cakes.

Very, very light! It was like biting into air. Flourless cake, that’s why. I used barely any sugar so it wasn’t too sweet. From start to finish, less than 1 hr and it took that long because I couldn’t be bothered to get the electric whisk out and whisked the egg whites by hand.

Excellent last minute recipe and definitely worth making again.

applesauce cake-bread

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This applesauce bread-cake recipe is from cooking on a bootstrap, formerly known as A Girl Called Jack. Jack Monroe is a writer, cook and activist who first came into the public eye as a blogger sharing recipes from trying to survive as a single parent on £10 a week. Now a media personality due to activism against poverty (and the Tory govt) and after coming out as non-binary transgender. Interesting person to follow on twitter, there are always good stories on politics, family and cooking.

This is a vegan recipe that is supposed to cost 9p per serving. It’s always good to come across healthier recipes.

2 apples (whatever kind)
1 tsp lemon juice
100ml vegetable oil
225g plain flour
1.5tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sugar (if using tart apples)

Dice apples and cook with lemon juice until soft. Leave the skin on for texture. Leave to cool. The recipe says to drain but I didn’t have any liquid in the pan.

Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, add applesauce and oil. I found the mixture very dry so I added a little water to loosen it up.

Bake at 180ºC for 35-40mins.

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The result was nothing like I expected. It was quite dry and almost like a crumble. I think it needed one more apple and lots more liquid. Or I hadn’t cooked the apples mushy enough. It was nice though, if I didn’t think of it as being like the apple equivalent of banana bread. I was missing the richness of butter; flavourless sunflower oil simply isn’t as good.

Served with vanilla ice cream, which was gave more sweetness and acted as sauce (took it out of vegan territory, but it’s not important for us). I’m thinking we can also use custard, jam, honey, fruit compote or coulis. It definitely needed a sauce or accompaniment.

happy pancake day

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It’s Shrove Tuesday, so I made pancakes for tea. Easy to remember ingredients:

100g flour + pinch of salt
300ml milk
2 eggs
1tsp vegetable oil

The recipe says to rest the batter for 30mins. I usually don’t, but this time I did. A little googling reveals that it’s to do with letting the starch absorb the liquid, the gluten to relax and the air bubbles to disperse evenly. The end result is supposed to be a thick, uniform batter and more delicate cooked product.

They do seem easier to cook, although we scoffed them down too quickly to really appreciate the texture or delicate taste. The first one never works properly–that’s an accepted fact. Cook’s perk.

Parents had them with maple syrup or peanut butter. I had mine with lemon and sugar. Simple is best.

chilled cheesecake

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I realised I don’t have searchable recipe for chilled cheesecake. It’s hidden on an old page that was part of v1.0 of the website and no longer linked. And it’s so old it’s in ounces, so I need to update it. I’ve also based the new recipe on the packaging of ingredients available to me; the recipe converts to 350g cream cheese, but cream cheese packets are 200g, so I used 2 packets.

50g butter
120g digestives
400g cream cheese
75g caster sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
gelatine — about 1 tbsp in 3 tbsp hot water, this is powdered
250ml double cream
3 egg whites
1 punnet blueberries, or other fruit

  1. make base using butter and digestives, chill until set
  2. break up cheese, add sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice
  3. dissolve gelatine in water, add to cheese mixture
  4. add fruit
  5. whisk cream until soft peaks, fold into mixture
  6. whisk egg whites until firm peaks, fold into mixture
  7. pour mixture over base and chill till set

#pancakeday: pikelets and crêpes

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It’s Shrove Tuesday, which means PANCAKES! No, I haven’t forgotten why we eat pancakes on the day before Lent starts.

For tea I made pikelets. I love this pop quiz:

What’s a pikelet?

Is it:

  1. a regional type of crumpet
  2. a type of pancake found in Australia and New Zealand
  3. stage name of Australian musician Evelyn Morris
  4. a North Staffordshire delicacy, a thicker form of oatcake with raisins added
  5. all of the above

The answer is (5). Most commonly the recipes I see are either (1) or (2). Complicated ones like this from Bake-off’s Ruby Tandoh that makes flat crumpets, I want to try this one day because, well, Ruby! and crumpets!!

What I used was a simple pancake-like recipe. I added blueberries because I felt like it.

150g SR flour
pinch of salt
1tbsp sugar
200ml milk
1 egg
1 punnet blueberries

Make a well in the dry ingredients, add egg and milk. Whisk slightly until no lumps, add blueberries. Drop 1 dessertspoon of the batter into olive oil/butter and cook till bubbles appear on top, flip and continue cooking till golden. Serve with blueberries and maple syrup.

Makes around 25 pikelets around 6cm (2.5in) in diameter.

So easy, and very tasty. They are small, so it’s easy to portion control. A combination of drop scones (with holes) and crumpets (less thick). Unlike pancakes, which go soggy when refridgerated, these are small enough to keep in the fridge as snacks, reheated in the microwave or eaten cold.

And because it’s pancake day, I made mushroom crêpes for dinner and served them with Ikea meatballs.

banana cranberry bread

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This banana bread recipe from the Mary Berry era is so old that the measurements are in oz. It is so tried and tested that I didn’t convert to grams—113g butter sounds funny.

4oz butter
4oz sugar
2 large eggs
8oz plain flour
2tsp bp
3 bananas, crushed
handful dried cranberries
1 vanilla pod

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk in eggs one at a time. Add bananas, cranberries and scrape vanilla beans from pod. Fold in flour, bp, add a splash of milk to loosen the mixture. Bake at 180°C for 45-50mins until a skewer comes out clean.

Traditionally it’s banana & walnut bread but I’ve never used walnuts because I don’t like them. For a slightly modern twist I added a handful of dried cranberries, taking inspiration from chocolat et zucchini—if Ms Dusoulier can do it, so can I. The cranberries added a tart taste and made the whole thing less stodgy.

We had it straight out of the oven so it was extra nice. Everybody liked it because it wasn’t too sweet.

#58 new recipe: double chocolate tart

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Tasks #49-58 of 101.1001 are to try 10 new recipes. It’s great that the 10th one turned out so nice.

I’ve mentioned before that even though I’ve been baking for a long time, it’s usually cakes and biscuits. I only tried bread a few months ago and choux is the only pastry I’m comfortable with. I rarely work with the most basic pastry of them all: shortcrust.

So we were watching MKR4 repeat and I decided to try the double chocolate tart one team made, because it looked so indulgent.

for the pastry:
150g cold butter
185g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
50g icing sugar
1 egg yolk

for the filling:
350g chocolate
80ml cream
50g brown sugar
2 eggs + 4 egg yolks

Sift the flour, cocoa and icing sugar into a large bowl, mix butter until resembling breadcrumbs. In the recipe they use a food processor but I couldn’t find mine, and besides I’m not sure it works anymore. Takes longer using hands but it’s not too bad. Put the mixture back in the fridge for 5mins to cool, then add the egg yolk. Combine into a dough. Initially I thought one egg yolk surely wasn’t enough to bind so much dry ingredients, but it worked after a bit of elbow grease. Knead on a flat surface briefly. Chill dough in fridge for 30mins.

Roll out dough to a tart tin. Well, I don’t have a tart tin, so I used half the dough and rolled out into a regular small cake tin, mending gaps where necessary. I tried to trim the side so it was flat. Cool the pastry in the fridge for 5mins, then blind bake at 180°C for 15mins with baking beans, followed by 10mins without. Didn’t have baking beans at parents’ place, so substituted with rice.

While the baked pastry case cools, make the filling. Melt chocolate and cream in a bain marie. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolk and sugar until frothy. Combine with melted chocolate carefully then pour into pastry case. Bake at 160°C for 30mins. Cool at room temperature, then in fridge until set.

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The pastry was quite short, may be a tad too short, but I like it. The filling was rich and, yes, indulgent. Should have served it with strawberries or raspberries but didn’t have it. Added to the richness by pouring a little cream over. I’ll have to buy a proper tart tin, it’s one of those desserts I’m going to add to my repertoire.
 

vanilla pannacotta

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I had some cream in the fridge I needed to use up, so I made pannacotta. Four ingredients: 500ml double cream, heated with 50g sugar and the seeds from one vanilla pod. When almost boiling, remove from heat and add to 2tsp gelatin powder already soaking in 3tbsp water.

A little too set, due to unfamiliar gelatin. But so rich, and so vanilla-y, can see all the seeds in the dessert. There was some discussion on a Paul Hollywood Pies & Puds program about the colour of pannacotta, whether it should be white or yellow. The chefs say white, but he had guest dairy farmers who brought in the richest, creamiest clotted cream from Devon and the pannacotta he made was yellow. It depends on the cream. The cream I used was good double cream, and the result was defiantly creamy yellow.

Ideally I would have liked to serve it with mixed berries or at the very least strawberries. Alas, the strawberries at the market were expensive and looked terrible. So mum opened a can of peaches. Heh, we’re not running a michelin star establishment here. 

salted caramel truffle

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Mum asked my niece what she wanted for her birthday and the reply was chocolate. Mum normally gives her nice chocoalte like godiva or equivalent. This year, I offered to make truffles. I made two types: mint choc and salted caramel.

The mint choc used 70% mint chocolate as base, and the usual add cream and butter method. The end result was a very subtle, almost non-existent mint flavour. If I had more time I’d infuse mint leaves in sugar syrup or find mint flavouring.

The salted caramel truffle came from an Edd Kimber recipe. In case people are not aware who is Edd Kimber, he was the winner of the first Great British Bake-off. I used 1/3rd of his recipe, to get about 20 truffles.

100g 70% chocolate
100g caster sugar
7g light brown sugar — probably not needed
100ml double or whipping cream
7g butter
1/2tsp salt

  1. break the chocolate into a large bowl, set aside
  2. in a heavy saucepan, slowly melt the white sugar, gently moving the pan until all the sugar has melted
  3. add half the cream and the recipe says brown sugar but I don’t think it’s needed
  4. the mixture will bubble madly, remove from heat if it gets too violent
  5. when the bubbling has subsided, add the rest of the cream, butter and salt
  6. pour over chocolate and stir until all chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy
  7. cover and set overnight. Roll into balls with hands, coat with cocoa powder (or icing sugar or chocolate shell), decorate with a crystal of rock salt

Very nice. I added more salt, it contrasted well with the sweetness of the caramel. 

#57 new recipe: rosemary flatbread

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Tasks #49-58 of 101 in 1001 are 10 new recipes. This is #9, and the first bread recipe.

I’ve been baking since I was 11 or 12, but I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve made bread. I’ve been watching too many GBBO and masterchef episodes and I want to have a bread recipe I can master and keep in my back pocket. This is based on a jamie recipe.

500g strong bread flour
15g (or 1.5 packet) yeast
1/2 tbsp salt
1tbsp sugar
300ml water

Mix the dry ingredients with about half the water, add more water to get to a sticky consistency. Knead until a silky, elastic dough is formed. Leave in a covered bowl for 30mins to prove, until doubled in size.

Knock the air out and knead a little more. Tear off chunks of the dough, add fresh rosemary leaves and roll into small balls. Pat between palms into flat shapes about 0.5cm thick.

Pan fry in olive oil until golden. Sprinkle sea salt and drizzle rosemary & oil.

I’m very pleased with the results. A little yeasty, I think I added too much yeast. They fluffed up nicely during cooking and had a wonderful golden brown colour. Slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. I’ll definitely make them again.

chocolate cake no scales

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My scales broke, or rather, the scales I had at parents’ place broke and I can’t be bothered to a) go get the ones at my place or b) go buy new ones. Sales start in november, so I want to wait a few weeks. That said, for some reason I felt like making chocolate cake. So I did some random googling and found a recipe that uses cup measurements.

First of, I know many, many, many bakers use cup measurements — all American recipes are in cups as well as some NZ and Aussie recipes. But I’m uncomfortable with it, as we can see from the results. The recipe didn’t specify what type of cup so I used a proper ones from a professional cooking shop.

3 cups SR flour — that looked like A LOT! Must be something like 300-400g
2 tsp bicarb
pinch of salt
2 cups sugar — I used less, about 1.75 cups
3/4 cup cocoa powder — I used a combo of cocoa powder and chocolate pieces
2 eggs — didn’t seem enough
1 cup oil — I used a combo of soft butter and canola oil
1 cup milk
1 cup hot water

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl, add wet ingredients and mix well.

That’s it. No creaming, no beating, no getting lots of air into the mixture.

Bake at 180˚C for 45mins. The recipe said 200˚C but I was slow cooking ribs in the oven so I couldn’t bring the temp that high. The rib roasting tray also meant I had room for a rectangular cake tin as opposed to a regular round cake tin. I had enough mixture for 2 cakes—I thought that was a lot of flour and sugar.

The result was, surprisingly, good. We liked the reduced sugar, so it’s not sickly sweet. Light and fluffy inside (bicarb+SR flour?), perhaps a tad too crumbly and a really nice crust outside. I normally don’t go for the end bits but this time I was super glad I did.

So, using a cup to gram conversion table:
350g SR flour
2 tsp bicarb
pinch of salt
350g sugar
75g cocoa
2 eggs — I still think it’s not enough, may be increase to 3 eggs
250g butter
250ml milk
250ml hot water

Or half for just one cake.

 

#homemade chocolate truffles

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250g dark chocolate
250ml double cream
knob of butter

Break chocolate into small pieces in a bowl. Heat cream and butter until almost boiling, then pour onto the chocolate pieces. Stir until chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Leave in fridge overnight to set.

Use a small spoon and hands to shape gently then roll in cocoa powder or chopped nuts. I also made a small batch that had a splash of highland park added. It was quite strong. Made around 30 truffles in total. 

#55 new recipe: key lime pie

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Tasks #49-58 of 101 in 1001 are to try 10 new recipes. This is #7 and the 5th baking recipe so far.

Mum went to lunch at the restaurant of a training hotel the other day. She had chocolate mousse (“like really bad ice cream”) and tried her friend’s key lime pie (“it was good”). Sis and gis had key lime pie recently and liked it. It’s my dad’s birthday. So all these events combined mean I should make key lime pie.

Yes, it’s quintessentially American, but the recipe I trusted was from bbc good food because: a) hob nobs!! and b) grams not cups.

300g hob nobs
150g butter
3 egg yolks (I used 4 because the eggs were small)
1 can (397g) condensed milk
zest and juice from 4 limes (these were tiny limes so I used 5)

Make the base from crushed hob nobs and melted butter. Allow to cool. Whisk egg yolks for about 1min, add the condensed milk and whisk for 3mins. Add lime zest and juice, whisk for another 3mins. Pour over base, bake at 160°C for 15-20mins. Leave in tin to cool overnight in fridge.

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I tried to make candied lime peel. Blanched lime slices in hot water then simmered in a simple syrup made from equal quantities of sugar and water for 15mins. Was still quite bitter (from peel, not pith) so I didn’t use it to decorate. Instead I whipped up some cream and used strawberries. Couldn’t be bothered to break out the piping bag so I just quenelled the cream.

Everyone seemed to like it and no complaints. I thought it was an extremely simple recipe, I liked that it was loaded with lime flavour and wasn’t too sweet. Next time I’ll make mixed citrus peel, may be that’ll work. Or just grate lime zest over a heap of cream.

more pound cakes

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Made a few more batches of pound cake. Experimented with new flavours and new flavour combinations, hope they work. I started labelling the new ones. Still about 3-4 batches to bake tomorrow.

shopping and pound cakes

Woke up at 5am, ugh, couldn’t go back to sleep so I read for a bit. Around 9-ish we headed out, got drive-thru mcdonalds breakfast then went to the cemetery. Costco, mall and grocery store followed. I bought some cute small ice cream makers, a towel and red velvet cheesecake to go.

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Made several batches of pound cakes to take to Portland with us. The type of ingredients are similar to what I use for fairy cakes and regular cake but the actual ingredients were different — different butter/margarine, a special cake flour and the eggs were beaten before adding. The proportions were a little different too, so for me it was learning a rew recipe. At the end I was able to make the batches all by myself. Made plain and chocolate flavoured ones.

mum’s mother’s day birthday

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Mum’s birthday coincides with US Mother’s Day quite often, and this year for added bonus it’s on a Sunday. The disadvantage is that many restaurants bump up their prices or force people to order set meals so traditionally we never go out on Mother’s Day.

For lunch I made some of Mum’s favourites: rack of lamb with carrot, parsnips and sautéed potatoes and mushroom. This particular rack wasn’t trimmed, which is fine because I can French trim it; but for some reason untrimmed racks still have the central bone which makes it very hard to cut when done. I was struggling with it and the presentation suffered. I got it nice and pink though.

For dinner we did find a restaurant that didn’t have any mother’s day special. It’s the yakitori place we go to regularly for happy hour. We reserved a private room last time I was there with sis and we all had loads of yakitori and sake. For dessert I brought the cake I made earlier—the restaurant didn’t charge us extra for plates and forks.

I saw a pretty picture of pancake cake and it reminded me of the cake we had in Hokkaido which was cream cake wrapped in a pancake. There’s a different taste and texture with the addition of the pancake. Instead of doing layers of pancake, I made a standard victoria sponge and alternated layers of cake with pancake. The filling is melted chocolate mixed with hazelnuts and whipped cream. Topped with shaved chocolate and strawberries. Looking at the picture I guess I should have sliced it in three instead of two so it doesn’t loook so uneven. Tasted good, everybody seemed to enjoy it.

101.1001 #54.6 | 30in30 #17 new sweet recipe

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This is a combination of task #54.6 of 101 in 1001 and task #17 in 30 in 30 is to try a new sweet recipe.

This is a recipe for no-bake blueberry truffle tart that has been bookmarked for a while. I made some adjustments, mainly in the ingredients and making of the base. The idea remains the same, make a biscuit base, make a ganache, top with blueberries.

225g crushed biscuits — I used half oreos and half hob-nobs, the recipe used just oreos
75g butter
225g dark chocolate
250ml cream — should be 300ml but the carton was 250ml
1 punnet blueberries

Crush the biscuits, I put them in a ziploc bag and whacked them with a pestle but a rolling pin or food processor will work. Melt butter in pan, add biscuit crumbs and transfer to lined tin. The recipe used individual fairy cake tins but mum didn’t have that tin so I improvised and used a square tin. Allow to set in fridge (around 20-30mins).

Melt the chocolate on a bain marie and stir in the cream. Can do it the other way round, heat cream and pour over chocolate. Either way, stir until chocolate has melted and the mixture glossy and smooth.

I sprinkled half the punnet of blueberries on the biscuit base and added the ganache. Set in fridge for about 10mins, then sprinkle the rest on top. Return to fridge so the ganache sets. I left mine overnight.

Usually we combine chocolate with raspberries or strawberries but blueberries work very well too. The ganache was extremely rich, and the fruitiness of the blueberries in every bite was a good contrast. A small slice is more than enough.

pandan cake

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Very common in Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of SE Asia is food flavoured with pandan leaves. It imparts a bright green colour and a gentle coconuty fragrant. They use it mainly with desserts and curries.

You can get pandan cake even at Singapore airport. The shop is right next to the departure gate so you check your luggage, go get your cake and then go through immigration. Easy peasy.

Pandan cake is basically a chiffon cake flavoured with pandan. I spotted a packet of pandan sugar at an indonesian store the other day and thought i should give it a try. They have a recipe at the back, although not completely clear (they don’t tell people to whisk the egg white and no oven time or temperature specified).

5 eggs, separated
2 tbsp cooking oil — i used grapeseed
4 tbsp coconut milk
150g SR flour
120g pandan sugar

Mix egg yolks with half the sugar until thick. Normally the mixture turns pale but with the green sugar I had to use texture and experience—took about 10mins vigorous hand beating. Add ccoking oil, coconut milk and fold in flour.

Beat egg whites until soft peak stage, add rest of sugar and beat until stiff. Fold into egg yolk mixture.

Bake at 180°C for about 1hr until a skewer comes out clean.

Very light, fluffy and the pandan flavour was subtle. Some people may be put off by the strange green colour but it really was very good.

#51: new recipe — cheesecake

 

I usually make chilled cheesecake rather than baked, but after this one I think I’ll switch to baked. Recipe from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course. I used blueberries instead of his raspberries.

500g cream cheese
150g sugar
3 eggs
2 tbsp flour
zest of 1 lemon
200g blueberries

Mix cream cheese and sugar, add eggs a little at at time, then flour and the lemon zest. The mixture looked a bit thick at that point so I added the juice of 1/2 lemon. Stir in the blueberries and transfer to baking tin. Tap firmly to get rid of air bubbles and distribute blueberries. Bake at 180°C for about 45mins-1hr.

Like I said, I don’t usually make baked cheesecake. I forgot that you’re supposed to let it cool completely in the tin before removing, so when I took the outer ring off like I would do with cake, I ended up with Michelin man cheesecake that had bulged in the middle like belly fat. Argh. Put the ring back on immediately and let it cool overnight in the fridge.

That said, it was delicious. Rich, good taste and texture. The recipe doesn’t have a biscuit base, and I don’t think it needs it.

#50 new recipe — christmas chocolate log

Task #50 in 101 in 1001 challenge: 2 of 10 new recipes.

I’ve made yule log before, and it is a sort of family tradition. I wanted to find a recipe that was less sweet, and was pleased that bbc goodfood came through again. I made some adjustments to the recipe, taking out some more sugar, substituting honey for golden syrup and using the chocolate cream for both filling and icing.

for the sponge:
3 eggs
85g sugar
85g plain flour
1/2 tsp bp
2 tbsp cocoa powder

for the filling:
50g butter
150g dark toblerone
250ml carton + 5tbsp whipping cream
1 tbsp honey

Whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift flour, bp, cocoa and fold into egg mixture. Bake in a swiss roll tray for 10-12mins at 200°C. Remove from oven, roll in the greaseproof paper and leave to cool.

Melt the butter and chocolate on a bain marie, cool. Add honey and 5tbsp cream. Whip the carton of cream until soft peaks then fold in the chocolate mixture.

Unroll sponge and spread filling generously. Roll carefully into log shape. Cut off one end as the branch. Ice with rest of chocolate cream.

We didn’t have icing sugar so I sieved some caster sugar over as the snow. I like this chocolate cream filling much better than using butter icing. It was very rich, I cut a thickish slice and divided it into three for me and parents, it was enough.

#49: new recipe — lebkuchen

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Task #49 in 101 task in 1001 days challenge: 1 of 10 new recipes.

Lebkuchen are German gingerbread-like biscuits that are traditionally made at christmas. We bought some at my niece’s school fair, loved them and I decided to try my hand at making them. This recipe is from bbc goodfood, which was hands down the easiest.

250g plain flour
1 tsp bp
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
85g ground almonds
1tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
zest of 1 lemon
a pinch each of ground cloves, grated nutmeg and black pepper
85g butter
200ml clear honey

  • sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl
  • heat the butter and honey until the butter has melted and add to the dry ingredients
  • mix well, cool mixture to room temperature
  • roll the dough into 30 balls, flatten on baking sheet, bake at 180°C for 12-15mins
  • cool on wire rack, pretend to be Jamie Oliver by flicking melted chocolate haphazardly over biscuits

I very nearly burnt the first batch of 15, another minute and they would have to go into the bin. Luckily the second batch were okay. I think they were too small, next time I’ll make 20 instead of 30.

I think the jury is still out on the rorschach style of decoration, which I saw on a Jamie Oliver christmas program the other day. That’s all he seemed to be doing nowadays, either piling food on a platter or wooden board and then flicking whatever sauce or dressing all over the place.

I wouldn’t say this recipe was 100% successful. It tasted quite nice, I like using honey instead of sugar and having lots of spices made the whole kitchen smell of christmas. Because they were so small, they weren’t as chewy as I’d like. Next time I’ll also grate in a little ginger to give it more of a ginger taste.

brownies

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Based on Nigella’s recipe for snow-flecked brownies. Half the recipe quantity was perfect for the square tin.

melt 190g chocolate + 190g butter over bain marie, cool
whisk 160g sugar and 2 large eggs until pale and thick
combine chocolate and egg mixtures
add 50g mixed nuts
fold in 115g plain flour
bake at 180°C for 30mins until top is dry

The recipe uses 100g white chocolate buttons, when I first made it I used dark chocolate but this time I just used nuts, and a smaller quantity because I didn’t want the brownie to be overwhelmed by nuts. We had peanuts, almonds, pistachios and cashews in a snack jar so that was what I used. Although I cut it into 3×3 squares for presentation, 4×4 squares is probably a more reasonable serving size.

There is a debate about whether brownies should be cakey, gooey or fudgy. These were somewhere in between gooey and fudgy. The tops were crispy and the inside quite dense without being too sticky. The rich chocolate taste came through, which is always important.

yogurt panna cotta

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The kitchn described panna cotta as the perfect dessert because it’s easy to make, using standard ingredients. It is also incredibly versatile: substituting ingredients or reducing the sugar level doesn’t seem to bother the recipe at all. Last time I made it, it was a little too firm. Tasted good, but it was like cream flavoured jelly.

This is a slightly healthier version of the traditional panna cotta, with less sugar and uses yogurt instead of a lot of the cream. Recipe from smitten kitchen and all credit goes to Deb Perelman for converting her American measurements to metric.

  • 475ml mixture of milk and cream — use as much or as little of each, even 100% milk or 100% cream, using just a little cream will make it so much richer; I used 200ml whipping cream and the rest was reduced fat milk
  • 450g yogurt — most recipes use greek yogurt, it just happened that mum made natural yogurt which worked equally well
  • 75g sugar — recipe says between 50-100g
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 2.5 tsp gelatin powder
  • 2 tbsp lime juice — recipe says lemon juice but we ran out of lemons so I substituted lime

Dissolve the gelatin in water, set aside
Combine the yogurt with half the milk+cream
Slowly heat sugar and the remaining milk+cream to a gentle simmer, then pour onto the dissolved gelatin
Add the milk+cream mixture to the yogurt mixture, whisk until smooth
Add lime juice
Pour into oiled containers and set in fridge

There was richness from the cream, tartness from the yogurt and the texture was suitably wobbly and creamy. Strawberries and other berries are expensive recently so mum suggesting using nutella. I tried to do a little fancy decoration with the thick spread and some museli crumbs. The chocolate and crumbs actually went well with the panna cotta.

lemon curd & blueberry cake

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Based on a bbc recipe. Lemon and blueberries go so well together.

175g butter
175g sugar
3 eggs
200g SR flour
100g greek yogurt
2 tbsp lemon curd
zest & juice of 1 lemon
punnet of blueberries (around 100g)

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add eggs. Add yogurt, lemon curd, lemon zest & juice. Fold in flour.

Spoon half the mixture into tin, sprinkle half the blueberries. Add the other half of the mixture, and the rest of the blueberries.

Bake at 180°C for about 45mins. Serve with more lemon curd and blueberries.

chocolate fondant

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This is the last of the chocfest we’ve been having at home. First attempt at chocolate fondant, recipe from the guardian.

60g dark chocolate
60g butter
30g sugar — recipe says 60g, I didn’t think we need so much
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp plain flour

Melt chocolate and butter over bain marie and set aside to cool. Whisk egg, egg yolk and sugar until pale and thick, around 5-10mins or the time it takes for the chocolate to melt. Combine chocolate and egg mixtures. Fold in flour, pour into greased tins. Bake at 200°C for 10mins, until the top is just set.

Leave in tin for 30-60 seconds then turn out.

Probably a little tiny bit overdone. The recipe says 12mins, I took them out at 10mins, may be that was even a minute too late.

chocolate yogurt mousse

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The recipe for regular chocolate mousse is very rich, almost 500ml of cream total. So we wanted to find a less fattening alternative, and Mum found a chocolate yogurt mousse recipe that uses greek yogurt. I bought her a yogurt maker a long long time ago, and she’s been making her own yogurt occasionally.

We didn’t exactly follow the recipe, skipped the coffee and there was a step with boiling water that didn’t work. Skipped the sugar too.

85g chocolate — we used 100g, a whole dark toblerone
1tbsp cocoa — not even sure it’s necessary, will skip next time
2 egg whites, whisked to soft peaks stage
50g greek yogurt — that’s not a lot, we added an extra tablespoon

Melt the chocolate over a bain marie, add cocoa powder. At this point the recipe said add a couple of tablespoons of boiling water to soften the chocolate. Argh! Adding water to melted chocolate makes it lumpy and solid. I had to rescue it using vegetable oil and a bit of egg yolk.

Add yogurt to chocolate mixture. Fold in egg whites. We tasted at this point and decided no sugar was needed. Leave in fridge to set.

The end result is definitely light, although still very chocolate-y. Can taste the slight sourness of the yogurt, in a pleasant but not overpowering way. Quite soft and doesn’t hold its shape that well — it’s fine in a glass but spooning it out on a plate for presentation will end up being chocolate milkshake. To make it more solid, may be add the egg yolks or whisk the egg whites to stiffer peaks? I want to add more yogurt but it’ll make it too sour. Hmm, more research needed.

banana bread

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Mum came back from the market with bananas asking if I could make banana bread. Of course! We have sugar, flour, bp, eggs but not enough butter so I needed to be creative.

I don’t like walnuts so I never make the traditional banana walnut bread. I needed 4oz butter for the recipe: I ended up using 2oz butter, 1oz margarine (from a tub we found in one of the fridges) and the rest was made up using olive oil. Creamed with 4oz sugar, added 3 eggs (these were small eggs, normally it’s 2 large eggs), 3 bananas, 8oz plain flour and 1tsp bp. A splash of milk to loosen the dough. Baked at 180°C for 1hr.

Didn’t matter that it was the round tin again, it was another good bake. Light, fluffy and not too sweet with a crunchy crust. The butter-margarine-olive oil combination didn’t hurt the recipe at all. In fact, it was easier to cream, important because I was doing it by hand. Everyone’s pleased with the result.

ham and cheese cake salé

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My recent baking efforts haven’t been terribly successful. The French apple tart suffered from soggy bottom when the puff pastry didn’t rise properly; the mango yogurt fake cheesecake was lumpy and looked like baby food; the cheesecake for my dad’s birthday was wobbly and almost collapsed. The only thing that worked was chocolate mousse.

Still, I wanted to bake something for my parents while I’m staying with them. They didn’t want anything sweet so I looked through my recipes and remembered this savoury ham and cheese bread that I enjoyed. The recipe is based on what the French call cake salé, or savoury cakes/loaf.
Sugar-free, butter-free. Usually with cheese. I like Hugh F-W’s idea that it’s a perfect way of using up leftover roast meats and bits of cheese.

Eggs, milk, olive oil, flour, bp, diced ham, grated cheddar. Much easier than the traditional creaming and whipping for a sweet cake. Like making muffins, it was just simple folding being careful not to over-mix. In the oven at 180°C for 1hr. Mum doesn’t have a rectangular loaf tin so I improvised with a round cake tin. Aside from not looking like a loaf, it was really great. The saltiness of the ham and cheese went well with the olive oil-based base. In terms of texture, I thought it was somewhere between a scone and a muffin. We ate it straight out of the oven so the top was still crispy. A good bake.

chocolate mousse for mum

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It’s probably only a slight exaggeration to say that I can make this chocolate mousse in my sleep. I’ve done it so many times, and served it to so many people, it’s sort of a signature dish of mine. Mum felt like it, so I made it and tried to teach her. Usually I make it from dark toblerone, but we couldn’t find it so I used a good quality Belgian 70% dark chocolate.

Four ingredients only, and 4 steps:

  1. melt 300g chocolate and a knob of butter over a bain marie
  2. separate 3 eggs; add chocolate mixture to egg yolks when melted and cooled — slowly, otherwise there’d be scrambled eggs
  3. whisk egg whites, fold into chocolate mixture
  4. whisk 500ml whipping cream, add to chocolate mixture, leave in fridge to set for at least 1 hour

The end result was smooth and very rich, the chocolate was good. Sprinkled a little grated chocolate on top for decoration. We liked it.

not quite a pastry chef

tartpommes001

Had a gathering with mm and her mum at her place. Cheese and dried sausages with a nice gewurztraminer. I made warm grilled vegetable salad (peppers, courgettes, butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, rocket). Also tried making a french apple tart, and mm requested apple crumble.

The apple tart recipe is from Michel Roux Jr, I saw him make it on Food & Drink and it looked straightforward.

Roll out 180g puff pastry into a 25cm round, chill in fridge. Spread over apple compote (an apple stewed with a bit of water and sugar) and lay over sliced apples. Eggwash the pastry edges, sprinkle 2tbsp sugar and dots of butter, glaze. Bake at 200°C for 30mins until golden brown.

Except it wasn’t straightforward. The pastry didn’t rise properly and the tart ended up with what Paul Hollywood would call soggy bottom. I have no idea why. May be the pastry wasn’t cold enough, may be the compote and apple slices weren’t cold enough, may be the compote was too wet, may be the oven wasn’t hot enough. I can bake fairly competently and have no problems with crumbles and choux pastry. I’m just not very good at regular pastry.

I pan-fried a slice in a regular frying pan and the bottom was crispy. Overall, the flavours were fine so it’s a matter of mastering the puff pastry.

orange rice cake recipe

orangericecake008mini

1.7l (3pt) milk
1 vanilla pod
300g arborio rice
200g sugar
5 large eggs
50ml cointreau
40g raisins
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange

I saw this recipe for orange rice cake on Two Greedy Italians and it looked so fabulous that I couldn’t wait to try it. So I made it for my parents.

Bring the milk to a boil together with the sugar, vanilla pod and large pieces of lemon zest. Add the rice all at once, stir at low to medium heat until the rice has absorbed the mlik, around 25-30mins. The mixture should be creamy and slightly thick. Remove from heat and cool, discarding the vanilla and lemon zest.

Separate the eggs. Mix the yolks with cointreau. Whisk the whites until firm. Once the rice mixture has cooled, add the egg yolks, raisin, orange zest then fold in the egg whites. Bake at 180°C for about 1 hr. Can be served hot or cold.

A long time ago, I had a moist, custardy, slightly heavy cake from France. It’s a bit like canalé but with dried fruit. This tasted a bit like that. There’s a lot of custard flavour, the rice gives a different texture and the citrus is a good contrast. Flourless, butterless but still very rich and yummy.

07.04

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My obligatory once a year day off. Weather was nice, 20°C. Spent the morning skyping with sis and mum, I’m glad we finally got round to fixing everyone’s logins. Mum kept worrying about image quality, but as long as I can see her, I’m not complaining. We even did a 3-way conference call. Talked with mm when she called too, told her about plans for the day and just chatted. It was nice.

Went for a very slow 5-miles around the park, then to the local shops to get some baking ingredients. Last year it was croquembouche, this year I made a flourless swedish apple cake. It was too moist and didn’t hold its shape very well, but tasted perfectly fine.

For dinner I made surf and turf. Ack, I did the same last year, so it’s a tradition now. It’s also supposed to be national beer day so I got a vedett beer from belgium to go with my dinner.

savoury ham and cheese bread

hamcheesebread02

This is adapted from a new york times article that talked about savoury loaves, or cake salés, that are French families’ secrets. The idea of using a muffin base appealed to me very much, knowing how easy it is to make. The recipe itself is straightforward, though I didn’t have gruyère so I substituted grated cheddar. I also converted the American measurements to something I can work with.

300g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
3 eggs
80ml milk
80ml olive oil
175g diced ham
175g grated / diced cheese

Mix the eggs, milk and olive oil in a large bowl. Fold in sifted flour and bp. Do not overmix. Add ham and cheese, season with s&p.

Bake in a lined loaf tin at 180°C for about 45mins. Remove from tin and cool for about 30mins to firm up before slicing.

Alternately, make individual portions using muffin pans.

#62 make a croquembouche

croquembouche02

A croquembouche is a showpiece dessert of French origin that is popular at big events such as weddings and anniversaries. It’s basically a tall tower of profiteroles. Lots of recipes and writeups about it.

I have a foolproof choux pastry recipe from the Sainsbury’s home baking book. I’ve been using this recipe for years and years and years.

  • 4oz butter
  • 300ml water
  • 5oz plain flour
  • 4 eggs

Heat the butter and water until boiling. Remove from heat and add flour all at once. I’d double sifted the flour beforehand. Beat with wooden spoon until the mixture leaves the sides of the saucepan. Add eggs a little at a time, combining well. Spoon onto a lined baking sheet and bake at 200°C for 25mins until golden. Make a slit at the side and cool. I used regular whipped cream sweetened with a little icing sugar for filling. This made 24 small profiteroles.

Carefully melt caster sugar in a heavy pan. When caramelised, dip profiteroles one by one and arrange. The caramel acts as glue to bind the puffs together. To make the sugar decoration, dip a whisk in the caramel and flick it across 2 sticks (I used planting sticks, although rulers might have worked better).

Normally croquembouches are very tall, hence their centrepiece nature. Mine was more like a mini version.

easter pie

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I’m down at the house to celebrate Easter. All new traditions for me. One being working in a tag team to make pie. I’ve never liked pastry, but this seemed straightforward — flour, corn oil, ice cold water, rolled out. Filling was ricotta cheese flavoured with parsley and sugar. Baked at 220°C for 30mins. My task was at the end, since I’m the newbie. I put on the eggwash (over the pie but not the crust!) and kept track of the rotation — we had 2 ovens going. The crusts turned out golden, and the filling was soft and tasty.

#66(7) new pastry: chocolate quinoa cake

chocquinoacake02

I discovered quinoa over the summer and has made it several times as a salad or as the starchy part of a meal. Little did I know, until I read more about it, that chocolate and quinoa go so well together.

This recipe is adapted from here. The author thoughtfully tried to convert American cup measurements to metric but failed in a spectacularly cute way — there is no way on earth that flour and sugar are measured in ml.

3 eggs
150g sugar
100g butter
100g chocolate
225g cooked quinoa
175g flour
1 tsp bp

  1. whisk egg and sugar until pale and thick
  2. melt butter and chocolate over bain marie
  3. add chocolate mixture to egg mixture
  4. add quinoa
  5. sift in flour and bp
  6. bake at 180°C for 30-35mins

Okay, this is just…phenomenal. The quinoa gives it a chewy crunchy texture that is unique and the cake itself is moist and fluffy. I ate a slice, then half of one, then the bits that fell off when I moved it. I’ve never been so lacking in discipline, and I don’t usually like chocolate.

#66(6) new dessert: yule log

yulelog01

Come to think of it, making yule log is one of my family’s christmas traditions. This is a nigella like recipe made from a flourless cake mixture and chocolate butter icing.

6 eggs, separated
6oz / 150g sugar
2oz / 50g cocoa powder + 2tbsp for icing
3oz / 75g butter
8oz / 250g icing sugar

  1. whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks, then add 50g sugar
  2. in a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks, rest of sugar until pale and mousse-like, add cocoa powder
  3. fold egg white mixture into chocolate mixture
  4. bake at 180°C for 20mins until cake springs back when pressed
  5. cool for 5mins, then turn out to greaseproof paper sprinkled with sugar on a wet tea towel
  6. make icing by whisking butter, icing sugar, 2tbsp cocoa, 2 tbsp milk
  7. spread icing on cake, then roll up like a swiss roll
  8. cut off a branch, stick to main branch using icing
  9. spread icing all over, sieve icing sugar and decorate

It was too sweet, next time I’ll use crème au buerre filling and ganache as icing.

#66(5) new dessert: chocolate soufflé

chocsouffle003

I’ve always found soufflé intimidating. I suppose I shouldn’t, cos I’m not a bad pastry chef. A few weeks ago my friend Car remarked nonchalantly about something or other that I should make chocolate soufflé for her family. It was meant to be a tease, or challenge, or punishment, i can’t remember. I didn’t put up any argument, just said, “okay.”

Not surprisingly there are a lot of recipes. Because I don’t have my cookbooks I focused purely on the ones available online. After a little research I decided on the one at cooking for engineers. It seemed straightforward and I appreciated the step-by-step pictures.

The first challenge was that I didn’t have time to go shopping during the week for the chocolate I wanted to use. At the end I got 2 packs of baking chocolate and mixed the 100% and 54% together.

In a bain marie, melt 8oz chocolate, 1tbsp butter and 60ml double cream. Meanwhile, whisk 5 egg whites with 1/2 tsp cream of tartar till soft peaks, then add 70g sugar and whisk till the stiff peaks stage.

Add 4 egg yolks to the chocolate mixture, then fold in the egg whites. Bake at 190°C for 20mins, serve immediately.

The good news is that it was mostly successful. The soufflés didn’t deflate, and were very rich. The bad news was that the chocolate didn’t work out and it wasn’t sweet enough. It actually wasn’t good enough quality. Next time I’ll use proper high quality chocolate.

#66(4) new pastry: danish butter cookies

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Every Christmas and other holiday, danish butter cookies in their distinctive round blue tin comes out. I defy anyone to say they don’t like these beauties.

So I was reading how Molly from orangette made them. Anyone who regularly reads food blogs will appreciate that orangette isn’t just a food blog with recipes, it’s a full-on foodie experience. Anyway, I was intrigued with the recipe, which was from the December 2008 edition of Gourmet and apparently is one passed down through several generations.

I used scaled down proportions, because I didn’t need so many. It’s easy for me to get the authentic Danish Lurpak butter; I generally use Anchor but Lurpak is only slightly more expensive, and probably worth it to follow the recipe. The American convention of using cups instead of weight fazed me a little, but I’ve converted it.

8oz butter
1/3 cup sugar, or around 3oz
2 cups plain flour, or around 12oz
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 small egg, for eggwash
sugar for sprinkling — the recipe calls for sanding sugar, I just used demerara

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then the recipe says beat the flour and baking soda in using the electric whisk, which…is an invitation for having flour flying everywhere. I folded the dry ingredients in using the more trusty spoon spatula method, only when mostly combined then I whisked the mixture till it was like crumbs.

Work the dough between 2 sheets of clingfilm, then roll out to a rectangle. I found that folding the clingfilms so they form the rectangular shape made rolling much easier, and the dough kept to the shape. Chill in the fridge for at least 30mins.

Remove the top sheet of the clingfilm and cut into 1” squares. This was the shape I liked most, and the easiest to work with. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle the demerara sugar.

Bake at 160C for 15mins. I found it needed an extra 5 mins to get really pale golden brown, I guess it’s my oven. Anyway, watch them till they get pale golden. Cool for 5mins then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes around 50 cookies.

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Okay, mine don’t look as pretty as the blue-tinned danish cookies. In fact they look kinda like sad shortbread, and very difficult to photograph (as warned by orangette). But man, they taste decadent.

chocolate chip cookies

cchipcookies002

mm’s parents invited me for dinner tonight, they’ve been including me in family gatherings lately, even though technically they don’t know they’re my in-laws. Interesting conundrum.

I didn’t want to go empty handed, and it being so close to Christmas. So I made chocolate chip cookies. I’m useless at picking out gifts for people and if I have time, I prefer to make food items. As the LA Times said in its article 50 ways to make your holiday gifts homemade,

Not only are homemade gifts less expensive, they also capture the spirit of holiday giving in a way that purchased gifts simply can’t.

These were real easy, I can’t remember where I got the recipe, but I’ve always had it on the old html version of my website. Cream 8oz butter with 4oz sugar, add 2 large (or 3 small) eggs, fold in 10oz SR flour and 12oz chocolate chips. Spoon onto a lined baking tray and bake for 15-20mins until golden. Makes 24 large cookies.

I wrapped them up in clingfilm and put them in pretty Christmas-y gift bags. Freshly made, I could still smell them when I gave them out at the restaurant, and my apartment now has that warm homely baking smell that will last till the morning.

#66(3) new pastry: apple & blackberry crumble cake

applecrumblecake01

It’s Mum’s birthday and Mother’s Day, so she deserves something special. I said I’d make a cake. I used to make cheesecakes, but this time I wanted something I’d never made before, so she can try something new.

This apple & blackberry crumble cake recipe is from bbc good food. It’s one of the more involved recipes I’ve tried. Nothing difficult, just time consuming and fiddly.

For the cake:
150g unsalted butter
150g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
150g crème fraiche

For the fruit topping:
25g unsalted butter
1 tbsp sugar
4 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges
150g blackberries

For the crumble topping:
50g unsalted butter
50g soft brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
75g plain flour
50g blanched hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Step 1: make the crumble topping
melt the butter, then mix in the sugar, cinnamon, flour and nuts. Set aside

Step 2: prepare the apples
melt the butter in a frying pan, add the sugar and apple wedges
cook for 10-15mins until the apples and soft and golden. Set aside to cool

Step 3: make the cake
cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
add eggs one at a time
fold in flour, baking powder
add crème fraîche

Step 4: assemble
spoon roughly 2/3 of the cake mixture into a round cake tin
scatter 1/3 crumble mixture
top with the remaining cake mixture
scatter 1/3 crumble mixture
arrange apple and blackberries
top with remaining crumble mixture

bake at 190°C for 1.5 hours, covering with foil halfway through if crumble browns too quickly
cool for 10 mins then cool on wire rack
serve with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and crème fraîche

#66(2) new pastry: four nut chocolate brownies

fournutbrownie

From Delia’s winter collection. Yes, I know it’s May and it’s not winter, but who cares when there’s brownies? I don’t usually like nuts, but this was good.

1oz each of macadamia, pecan, hazelnut, brazil nut
2oz dark chocolate
4oz butter
2 large eggs
8oz granulated sugar
2oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Roughly chop and roast the nuts for exactly 8 minutes
Melt chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water
Cool, then mix in all the other ingredients
Bake at 180°C for 30 mins, cool, then cut into squares

#66(1) new dessert — lemon sponge pudding

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When I think of sponge puddings, it’s usually the upturned pudding basin-shaped cake swimming in custard or golden syrup — oversweet, thick and stodgy. After a couple of bites, it leaves me full and wanting fruit or sorbet. I guess it’s an English prerogative, the heavy sponge pudding that shocks the arteries.

Which was why I was so excited to find this recipe from Nigel Slater’s Appetite. It’s been a good book of cooking tips and recipes for me. His website seems to have disappeared but I found an excerpt at The Guardian that quoted this particular page. The best thing is that it’s delicious and very light. The citrus makes sure that it’s not too sweet and gives it a bright tang. I think I left mine in the oven too long and the sauce dried out a bit, but it’s still very yummy — the top is a light (here’s that word again) crust and the bottom is this exquisite custardy, lemony soft sponge. It has to be tasted to give it full credit.

If I were to plate this properly I’d serve it with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or mascarpone or a pretty lemon sauce and a raspberry or two. Accompanied by limoncello, of course.

100g butter
175g sugar
1 lemon + 2 oranges or 4 lemons — I used all lemons this time
4 eggs, separated
40g plain flour
400ml milk

cream the butter and sugar
add egg yolks followed by flour and milk alternatively until the mixture resembles a soft cake batter
add zest and juice of fruit
beat egg whites until stiff peaks and fold into mixture
bake in basin over a roasting tin of water at 180°C for about 1 hour

brownies

Quite surprising that I’ve never made brownies before. I’m at home today so it was the perfect opportunity. This is based on Nigella’s recipe. For an Americanized version, and photo of how they should look like go to the Food Network.

I used half portions, made 24 small almost bite-sized brownies.

375g chocolate
375g butter
4 large eggs
350g sugar
225g plain flour
200g chocolate bits — she used white chocolate buttons which I didn’t have, so I used regular choc chips

Melt chocolate and butter in a large bowl over boiling water. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and sugar. Add vanilla extract if using it.

Cool the melted chocolate and butter slightly, then whisk in the egg and sugar mixture. Fold in the flour and chocolate bits. Bake in square tin at 180°C for about 25 mins until the top is dry.

Sprinkle over cocoa powder or icing sugar before serving. I’m thinking a dollop of clotted cream or a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream will turn this into a dessert. For true decadence, top with chocolate ganache, garnish with mixed berries macerated with brandy and drizzle a raspberry coulis.

brownies

choc chip in a bag

I’m terrible at buying presents. So this year I decided to make chocolate chip cookies for my colleagues — I have to give to about 10 people, which is added incentive to keep it simple. Recipe is from Delia. I made 3 batches of double the recipe, one without cocoa and 2 with varying amounts of cocoa. The first lot burnt, so I ended up with 88 cookies.

4 oz (110 g) self-raising flour
½ oz (10 g) cocoa
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 oz (50 g) butter
1½ oz (40 g) light brown sugar
2 oz (50 g) dark chocolate chunks
2 oz (50 g) golden syrup (about 2 tablespoons)

Sift the flour, bicarb, cocoa and ginger into a mixing bowl. Rub butter in till breadcrumb stage. Add sugar and chocolate, then the golden syrup. Mix with a spatula, then with hands till doughy. Divide into chunks of 16 and roll into balls with hands. Flatten slightly and bake in batches of 8 at 180°C for 12-14 minutes. Leave on tray for a few minutes then transfer to cooling rack.

I bagged them in those small transparent gift bags decorated with a Christmas tree ornament.

cookies

a day of baking

may be I’m losing my touch. I made blueberry muffins and scones today. Neither of which turned out that well. The scones were like shortbread, I haven’t made round scones for a long time, these were triangular. But no height.

There were no fresh blueberries at the supermarket so I had to make do with canned. It’s not as nice. And I nearly forgot to put sugar into the mixture.

I’d been working on it all afternoon.

I wasn’t happy. At all.