21 sept. 2014

Mirlitons

Looking through my French cookery books for something different to bake, I came across a recipe for 'Mirlitons'.
When I googled them to find out more, they seemed to be a strange looking green vegetable from the USA, also called chayote. What happened to the cakes?



I continued googling and found out that the little Mirliton Tartlets come from around Rouen in Normandy. There were quite a few recipes for them, but they all seemed to agree that they must have an almond and egg filling with vanilla extract and orange flower water; some had cream added, so I decided to add some to give them extra flavour. Apparently it's quite an old recipe, being found in a 18th century cookery book.

They sound very similar to the Welsh cheese cakes my Mum used to make - a pastry shell, a layer of jam then a sponge topping, but there's no almonds in Mum's recipe.

They're very easy to make, as you use a ready made sheet of puff pastry.

This recipe makes about 12 tartlets.

 Preheat oven 180C/gas 4 and grease a 12 hole tartlet tin.

Roll out a sheet of puff pastry [about 240g] and cut out 12 tartlets; use these to line your tin.

Put a good tspn of jam in each tartlet - I used some raspberry jam. Then make the filling by beating together 100g ground almonds, 100g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tspn vanilla extract, and 2 tspn orange flower water. Stir in about 5 tbspn whipped double cream and mix well. Spoon this mixture into your tartlet shells, and if you want, you can put a sprinkling of flaked almonds on the tops, but I chose not to do this.
Bake for about 20 mins till they're golden brown and turn out onto a wire rack. You can eat them hot or cold. Dust with icing sugar.




I'm not really sure if I like the orange flower water flavour, which is  very distinct. I liked the contrast between the fruity jam, the almond cake mixture and the pastry base. The cream made the texture quite soft. An interesting little tartlet!



17 sept. 2014

Apricot Slices

I wanted to make something quick and easy for my grandsons' visit this afternoon. This slice must come under the 'easy to make and good for you' banner, as it has oats, muesli, honey, apricots, nuts ...  and surprisingly, all three boys will eat it!. I guess it's a posh flapjack!
It's one of my friend Ann's family recipes, and we love it.

30g oats
80g dried apricots
60g muesli
40g dessicated coconut
30g almonds chopped into pieces
70g plain flour
70g demerara sugar
2 tbspn honey
2 medium eggs
140g butter

Grease a deep 20cm square cake tin.
Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Cut the apricots into smallish pieces.
In a bowl beat 140g of the softened butter with the sugar and honey. Add the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour, oats, muesli, almonds, apricot pieces and the coconut.

Mix it all together and spoon into the tin; smooth the surface and cook for 30 mins. Leave it to go cold in the tin then cut into squares. It's very filling, so I cut it into small squares.

You can keep the slices for about 4 days in a airtight container.



Lovely flavours from the mix of ingredients and a chunky texture. I used some local honey and you could taste it's flowery flavour. You could vary the dried fruit and honey for a different flavour.

10 sept. 2014

Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

I wanted to make some kind of chocolate cake, and having looked through cookery books and folders I found this recipe which came from one of my neighbours in France. Four of us, all neighbours, took it in turn to host afternoon tea - the French ladies thought it was a great idea. This was one of Reneé's offerings.
I love anything made with nuts, especially hazelnuts, and it's another easy cake to make. I decided to make it in a bundt tin.

Grease a bundt mould or cake tin and preheat oven 180C/gas4

In a bowl over simmering water, melt 150g butter and 150g dark chocolate. Take bowl off and add 4 egg yolks, 175g caster sugar, 80g ground hazelnuts, 100g plain flour, 50g dark chocolate chopped up and a pinch of salt.
Beat the 4 egg whites till stiff and fold into the mixture.
Spoon into the tin and bake for 50mins. Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.

For the icing:
Chop 100g dark chocolate and melt it over water with 50g of butter. Pour it over the warm cake and leave to set.









One trick I learnt was to put the chocolate bar in a poly bag and tap it with a rolling pin to break it up. I usually end up with bits of chocolate everywhere!

The cake has a great chocolate flavour, and you can really taste the hazelnuts. The chunks of chocolate had just about kept their texture, but then melted in your mouth. I like the easy way you decorate it - no faffing with glacé icing or buttercream - just pour the chocolate over.

4 sept. 2014

Courgette and Sultana Cake

My friend gave me some courgettes and I wanted to make a cake with some of them. I had a look on the internet, but nothing really appealed, so I hunted through a couple of old baking cookery books and found a carrot cake with raisins, so adapted this. I fancied making a ring cake, but it can be made in a normal round cake tin.


Preheat oven 180C./gas4
Grease a 20cm ring mould well with butter or oil.

Beat together 125g butter and 150g caster sugar till nice and fluffy. Then add 2 beaten eggs and 2 tspn vanilla extract. Add 220g grated courgettes [about 11/2 medium courgettes] and 60g sultanas [or other dried fruit]. Mix together then fold in 225g sr flour.
Spoon into tin and smooth top. Bake for 35-40 mins till golden.
Leave cake in tin for about 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack.

I wanted a creamy topping, so made some vanilla buttercream. I wanted to try a method I'd found in a magazine; it's more complicated than the simple buttercream of icing sugar and butter, but hopefully it would taste less cloying.

Put 110g caster sugar and 85ml water in a pan and stir over a low heat till the mixture boils and the sugar's melted. Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 mins without stirring. Cool.
Beat 125g butter and 2 tspn vanilla extract together till light and fluffy, then pour in the sugar syrup, beating all the time till your mixture is smooth and fluffy.

Spread the mixture over the top and sides of your cake. I used some of the orange peel I made recently to decorate the top.



It's a moist cake, but not too moist, as you sometimes get with vegetable cakes. The topping was nothing like the usual butter cream. Yes it was sweet, but I didn't find it cloying; it was smooth and melted in your mouth. I'll use it again when I need a sweet topping. Liked the cake texture - not too dense, and  the fruit gave an added bite.



30 août 2014

Blueberry Cake

Our little blueberry bush, in its tub in the garden, has given us nearly 3kg of fruit this year. I've frozen some, but wanted to make something quick to offer my friend when she comes round for a cuppa this afternoon. I found this recipe in an old American baking magazine and it really is quick and easy.


260g plain flour
   200g caster sugar
  120g butter, cubed
1 teaspoon baking powder
250ml milk
2 eggs, separated
150g fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven 180C/gas4
grease and line a 20cm square cake tin

Put the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl then rub in the butter till you have crumbs. Put 1/4 of the mixture aside to use as a topping. Add the milk and egg yolks and beat together. Whisk the whites into soft peaks then add to the mixture gently. Spoon into the tin, sprinkle with the blueberries and top with the remaining crumbs. Bake for about 30 mins till golden.




I

Nice soft crumb from the cake and lots of juicy blueberries. Could have it as a dessert with ice cream or cream.

25 août 2014

Yoghurt and White Chocolate Cake



This was the second cake we made on the Baking Course I went on. It's an easy cake to make. I don't often use white chocolate as I have had some disasters when melting it, but this time it worked well. The addition of yoghurt makes this a nice moist cake, which is also light in texture.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4
Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin.

In a large bowl beat 125g butter with 110g caster sugar till light and fluffy using an electric hand mixer. Then add 2 beaten eggs and 1 tspn vanilla extract.
Melt 100g white chocolate, which has been roughly chopped, over simmering water - careful - and stir till it's melted.
Add the chocolate to the cake mixture with 125ml plain or vanilla yoghurt. Mix together gently then fold in 225g sr flour. Pour into tin and bake for 40 mins.
Leave cake in tin for 15mins then turn onto a wire rack.

For the topping:
Beat 125g cream cheese till creamy then add 60g melted white chocolate and 2 tbspn plain yoghurt. Beat together till smooth and fluffy. Spread over cooled cake and decorate with white chocolate curls.

I have to confess that we were given the chocolate shavings, but he gave us the method to make them. I wrote down notes, but think it's easier to see someone doing it, so I found this clip on You Tube.

http://uk.ask.com/youtube?q=How+to+make+chocolate+shavings&v=0UA0opJ_coE&qsrc=472

It's a really good flavoured cake; I used vanilla yoghurt with the vanilla extract and the flavour came through. The topping was very rich but very moreish.
A special occasion cake, but a useful recipe to have. The cake itself keeps for a month in a freezer uniced, or 3 days in an airtight tin iced.



15 août 2014

Russian Chocolate Torte

My friend and I went on a day's Baking Course this week, and this Torte was one of the things we made. In Russian it's called a Bistvitny Torte.
It's not difficult to make, but I found mixing the 2 chocolates together to make marbled chocolate quite challenging, especially making the marbling even.
 It was an interesting fun day, and we watched demonstrations of bread making and a complicated 4 layer gateau. We weren't expected to make these, but we did get to sample some of each.
We brought home the items we'd baked, and I asked if I could put the recipes on here, and was told it was ok if I wrote it in my own words. So that's what I'm doing!

What makes the torte different is that it's soaked in a brandy flavoured syrup, otherwise tbh it's a marble cake.

Preheat oven 190C/gas5
Grease a 23cm ring pan well .

Make the decorations -
Melt 25g each of dark and white chocolate.
Put a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray and put alternative spoonfuls of the chocolate on the paper, and spread together to make a thick marbled layer. Leave it to set then cut into squares then triangles.

Cake:
Beat 175g margarine or butter with 175g caster sugar till nice and fluffy. Add 1 tspn vanilla extract and mix in. Add 3 beaten eggs, a bit at a time, then fold in 225g sr flour.
Divide the mixture in 2, then melt 50g dark chocolate and add it to one of the halves. Put spoonfuls of each mixture into the tin and swirl with a skewer to marble.
Bake for 30 till golden. Let cake cool in tin for few mins, then put onto wire rack to get cold.

Syrup:
Put 125g sugar in a pan and add 6 tbspn water and heat till sugar's dissolved. Then boil for 1-2 mins.
Take it off the heat and add 3 tbspn brandy. Leave to cool a bit, then spoon over the cake so that it soaks in. Whip 150ml double cream, put into a piping bag and pipe a swirl round the top of the cake.
Decorate with the triangles you made earlier.


Even though the marbled chocolate was challenging, it's a nice idea. As chocolate and orange go together so well, you could maybe use Cointreau instead of the brandy. If you don't want alcohol in the cake, perhaps use orange juice?
The cake's nice and moist from the syrup, with a soft texture, and the cream is a good contrast with the crunchy chocolate.
Sorry it's not a very good photo [not unusual I know!!].

We also made a couple of types of biscuits, but will post these another time.