German Apple Cake

I love apple cakes, and this is a recipe from my lovely German dil.

It's an unusual apple cake as it has 3 layers. It's not the prettiest of cakes, but the flavour's really good. It's not a huge cake, but it's nice eaten warm as a pudd., or you could eat it cold as a cake with your afternoon cuppa.

100g butter
100g caster sugar
200g sr flour
1 large egg
pinch salt
500g cooking apples
55g sultanas
1 tspn cinnamon
55g demerara sugar

Preheat oven 190C/gas 5.
Grease and line a 20cm springform tin.

Melt butter in microwave or pan. Remove and add the sugar, flour, egg and salt. Mix to a stiff dough.
Put 2/3 of the dough in the bootom of the cake tin, pressing it to cover the base.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together and then put on top of the dough.
Put the 1/3 of the dough on top in pieces, tearing it and gently pressing it down. It won't cover the apple mixture.
Bake for about 50 mins till golden, but cover with some foil for about the last 10 mins to stop the top burning.
Cool in the tin then put on a plate and serve warm or cold.

It's not burnt! I used dark demerara sugar mixed with the cinnamon and apple.

I love the apple layer with the sultanas, sugar and cinnamon. It's a nice mixture of textures - the cake bottom, the apple layer and the almost cobbler topping. Just right for this cold, miserable weather.

I'm off to my daughter next week for a break, so won't be posting. I lost my husband recently, so have little inclination to bake. My son came to visit, so I felt I had to make an effort, and made this as a dessert. 


Chocolate and Coconut Bavarois

What is a Bavarois? Well, according to the internet it's  the French name for Bavarian cream, it is a delicate cream dessert with a crème Anglaise base made from either milk, cream or a fruit puree and then aerated with whipped cream and whipped egg whites before being set in the refrigerator with gelatine. It may be a straight vanilla or combined with additional flavourings; such as chocolate, coffee or liqueurs, served on its own as an individual dessert or as a filling for a variety of charlottes, tortes, cakes etc.  

So now you know!
I wanted a dessert for my son and family's visit this week, and I found this in an old French magazine cutting. It's unusual in that instead of having a pastry case and filling it with the Bavarois cream, you use dessicated coconut, flour, milk, egg whites and sugar to make a sort of nest.

Preheat oven 150C/gas2                         Grease and base line a 23cm cake tin.

In a largish bowl mix together 250g of dessicated coconut, 100g caster sugar, 3 egg whites and 1/2 small glass of water into a kind of pastry. Spread this mixture thickly onto the base and up the sides of the tin and bake for about 30 mins.at this temperature then increase to 180C/gas4 for another 10 mins.  Leave it to cool in the tin.
For the cream - put 2 leaves of gelatine in some cold water; beat the 3 egg yolks with 150g caster sugar till creamy, then add 20g flour and fold together. Add 300ml of milk to thin the mixture, continuously beating to avoid lumps.
Put 100ml of whipping in the fridge to get cold.
Melt 100g of dark chocolate 70% in a pan and when it's melted, pour in the egg mixture and mix over a medium heat till the it thickens. Add the melted gelatine and mix again. Leave to get cold.
Beat the cold whipping cream with a hand held electric mixer till thick then add it to the melted chocolate. Very carefully fold this into the egg mixture and spoon into the coconut nest.
Put into the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving with a little dessicated coconut sprinkled on top if liked.

It's very rich, and a small portion is sufficient. The recipe said it was for 4 people, and it looks small in the photo my son took, but it's on a large dinner plate. I grated some chocolate on top instead of coconut. It was more work than I  usually do for a dessert, but tasted so good and creamy, and the nest had a great coconut flavour and a very unusual texture.


Chocolate Biscotti

Ever since Paul Hollywood made some biscotti on GBBO, I've wanted to make some. I found a couple of recipes on line that I liked, so I took ideas from them and made some chocolate ones. Also had a packet of hazelnuts in the cupboard that needed using, so added those to the mix.

Preheat oven 180c/gas4          Line 2 baking trays with silicone or baking parchment

I used a food processor  - put in 320g plain flour, 30g cocoa, 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda, 160g chocolate chunks, milk or plain, 250g hazelnuts and 1 tspn salt and pulse till the chocolate and hazelnuts are pea size.

Beat 4 large eggs and 200g caster sugar till fluffy then add the flour mixture and fold in - or use a food mixer on low speed.
Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and divide into 3. Shape each into a 45cm log. Put onto the baking trays and flatten gently. Brush the tops with egg wash made from a beaten egg white and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Bake for 20-25mins then cool on a wire rack.
When they are cool, cut on the diagonal to the size you want.
Bake again on the trays for 10-12 mins, till the biscotti are firm and dry then cool on a wire rack.
They keep well in a tin for about 2 weeks or you can freeze them.

As you can see, I decorated them with some white and dark chocolate icing. The hazelnuts added a good extra texture as did the icing and they have a lovely crunch. A nice treat, but maybe the icing's a bad idea if you want to dip them into coffee!


Peanut and Chocolate Cake

My stepson and family came for the day this week, and we have a tradition of having a nice cake for afternoon tea. I've mentioned my lovely German dil before, and she really is a superb baker [ her profession is in catering], so I try and make something new each time they come.
I decided on a chocolate cake, but with something different as filling. I found a jar of peanut butter in the cupboard – perfect - and is something I know we all like. I know it's calorific, but it's a special cake for an occasion.

200g sr flour
1 tspn baking powder
150g caster sugar
150g butter
200g dark chocolate
100ml milk

250g peanut butter [smooth, but if you wanted a different texture, crunchy]
100g butter
100g icing sugar

Preheat oven 180C Grease and baseline 2x20cm cake tins

Melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the eggs and sugar till light and frothy. Add the milk and gradually mix in the chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Spoon into the cake tins and bake for about 20 mins. Cool on a wire rack.
For the filling – beat the 2 butters and icing sugar together for 2-3 mins to get a good icing consistency. Add a little more icing sugar if you think it needs to be a bit thicker.
Cut the 2 sponges horizontally. Put the first one on a plate and spread ¼ of the icing over, top with the next sponge and do the same, then the 3rd and finally top with the 4th sponge. Spread the last of the icing on top.

My dil took the photo, and you can tell she's used to taking more professional looking ones than I do!

It was a great success, and because the icing is spread between the 4 cakes, it wasn't too much. Cake had a good chocolate taste and a soft texture. I liked the contrast between the cake and the creamy peanut butter filling. A good cake to have for afternoon tea.


Annie's Maple Cake

My friend went on holiday recently to Canada and brought me back a can of maple syrup. This recipe was on a leaflet attached to the can, so I thought I'd try it. It's a simple cake with a lot of flavour, and I've named it after my friend. 

For the Cake:
125g butter, softened
100g white sugar
125cl maple syrup
1 tspn  vanilla extract
2 eggs
 200g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 1/2 tspn baking powder
60ml milk

100g toasted chopped walnuts

For the Maple Icing:
125g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
2 tbspn maple syrup

For the Maple drizzle topping:
125cl maple syrup
1 tbspn butter
pinch of salt
Preheat oven 180C/gas4 
Grease and line a 23cm cake tin
Beat together the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time then add the maple syrup and the vanilla. Mix the baking powder, salt and flour together and fold into the mixture with the milk.
Spoon into the tin and bake for 25-30 mins till golden. Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing - beat the butter, icing sugar and maple syrup together till light and fluffy.

For the drizzle - put the maple syrup in a pan over a medium heat and cook without stirring till it gets to 98C on a sugar thermometer. Let it cool a bit then add the butter and salt and beat together. Cool in the fridge.

Ice the cooled cake with the maple icing , drizzle over the syrup and top with the walnuts.

The cake has a great flavour, thought it is rather sweet. I thought it might be quite dense, but it has a soft texture and the icing, drizzle and walnuts each add another dimension to it. I found the drizzle a bit of a pain to make, so another time I think I'd just ice the cake and top it with the walnuts, though pecans would be good too.


Fig and Almond Tart

There are a lot of fresh figs around in the shops, so I decided to make a tart. Recently I bought a large bag of grounds almonds from a cash and carry, so decided to use them with the figs -  another gluten free recipe.

I love fresh figs; they're so versatile. You can use them with savoury things like ham as a starter, or just sprinkle them with brown sugar and bake for a tasty dessert. My friend adds them to salads.

The tart uses shortcrust pastry, baked blind. You can use your favourite recipe or buy it ready made. You need enough for a rectangular tart tin [with a loose base if possible] - 250g flour and 125g fat.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Grease the tart tin and line it with the shortcrust pastry. Either prick the pastry or use baking beans, and bake blind for about 15 mins.
 For the almond cream  - beat 60g soft butter with 60g caster sugar and 60g ground almonds; add 1 egg and beat into the mixture. Add 10cl of whipping cream and mix together well. if you want an even stronger almond flavour add a drop or 2 of almond extract, but no more as it's quite strong.
Pour the mixture into the pastry case.
Cut up 350g of figs into halves, quarters or slices and spread over the top of the almond mixture.
Sprinkle over about 50g of chopped skinned whole almonds or flaked almonds.
Bake for about 35mins. Cool on a wire rack.

 This is a frangipane filling and I love anything with an almond flavour, and this tart ticks all my boxes. The lovely soft textured almost gooey almond filling contrasting with the crispness of the pastry, then the soft figs and their seeds adding another texture with the almonds giving it a bit of crunch. We ate it with some vanilla ice cream, but cream or crème fraîche would be good too.


Reine de Saba Cake

A Reine de Saba [or Queen of Sheba] cake was one of Julia Child's favourites. There are lots of recipes of her version on blogs and websites, but this version is my French neighbour's family recipe. It always appears for birthdays and special occasions, which is how I got to try it. Persuading them to give me their recipe involved some making of English cakes on my part!

I don't know why it's named after the Queen of Sheba; one suggestion I found online said  ' it shares many of the Bible Queen's qualities - exotic, rich, irresistible and the stuff legends are made of'. Hmmm!

If you want to try JC's version here's a link to her Reine de Saba Cake. There's also a clip on You Tube of JC making this cake on her French Chef programme - here's the You Tube Clip. What an annoying voice she has!

It's a chocolate and almond cake, but a lot of the recipes online don't have any almonds!

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                Grease and line and 23cm springform tin

  350g dark chocolate [ my neighbour uses the lovely dark patisserie chocolate you can buy so easily in France] 6 eggs, 200g caster sugar, 3 tbspn potato flour or cornflour, 80g ground almonds, 100g salted butter, 80ml single cream and a pinch of salt

Separate the eggs and whisk the yolks and caster sugar together till white and fluffy. Add the potato flour or cornflour then the ground almonds, mixing well after each addition.
Melt 200g of the chocolate and the 100g of butter over simmering water. Pour this into a bowl, then
beat the egg whites into stiff peaks with a pinch of salt and add therm carefully to the chocolate mixture.
Spoon the batter into the tin and bake for about 30 mins. Don't over bake it. Leave to cool in the tin then put on a wire rack.
Grate the rest of the chocolate; put the cream in a pan and bring to the boil then pour it over the chocolate and mix together. JC's recipe added 2 tbspn of rum to the sauce.
Spread the chocolate icing over the cake.

I added my own twist to the recipe and put toasted almond flakes round the sides of the cake. They stick well to the icing!

The cake is a bit like a brownie, in that it's a bit fudgy in the middle. It's very rich, but it has a lovely delicate crumb which melts in your mouth. I liked the flaked almonds, as they gave another texture and some crunch to the cake. You have the moist almond cake, the smooth chocolate topping and the crunchy flaked almonds.

I'm not sure what Julia would make of my version, but I hope she'd like it!