23 juil. 2014

Lime, Walnut and Date Tray Bake.

Bought a bundle of cookery magazines from a charity shop the other day, and this recipe was in an Australian one. I like traybakes.
The bake has lots of good things in it - dessicated coconut, lime zest, walnuts, dates, and it's easy to make. The biggest problem was changing the Aussie cups into grams. The cake turned out fine, so I must have my conversions fairly accurate!

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Grease and line a rectangular tin about 28 x 8 cm.

For the cake:
Put 150g flour, 110g caster sugar, 85g dessicated coconut, finely grated zest of 1 lime [you'll need another lime if you're going to make the candied lime peel, 150g chopped dates and 60g chopped walnuts into a bowl. Stir together.
Add 180g melted butter and mix together; then add 1 egg [lightly beaten] and stir together. Press this mixture into your tin and bake for 20 mins till golden.
Leave in tin for 5 mins then turn out onto wire rack.

For the lime Icing:
Put 225g icing sugar in a bowl with 15 melted butter and 1-2 tbspn lime juice. Mix together and spread over cool cake. Leave to set then cut into squares.

Make some candied lime peel - peel rind off 1 lime with a potato peeler and cut it into thin slices. Put 110g of caster sugar in a pan with 60ml of water. Add lime rind and stir over low heat till sugar has dissolved. Simmer uncovered, without stirring for 5 mins. Drain on wire rack and use it to decorate the tray bake.

Great flavours, lovely textures - crunch from the walnuts, soft from the dates, and the lovely hint of lime. The candied lime peel gives it that extra lime kick. One to make again.
I made the peel before making the cake so it could 'set', if that's the right word. Think I'll make some candied orange and lemon peel using this method - don't like the taste of the shop bought stuff.

18 juil. 2014

Chocolate and Orange Cake

I wanted to make a sandwich cake for OH's birthday, but also wanted it to look a bit different. Had a large orange to use up, so decided to use it in the cake and to decorate it.  Recently I saw a tv chef add a flake bar to a chocolate cake, so thought I'd try the same, instead of using cocoa or melted chocolate.

225sr flour
175g soft butter
175g caster sugar
grated rind of a large orange
3 eggs
2 crushed Flake bars
4 tbspn milk

100g soft butter
225g icing sugar
juice of 1/2 the orange

For the top:
1 orange divided into segments
a little crushed Flake bar

Preheat oven 170C/gas3

Grease and line a deep 20cm cake tin [or use 2 x 20cm sandwich tins]

Cream butter, sugar and orange rind together till light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the crushed Flake bars and fold in the flour alternately with the milk.
Spoon into the tin or tins, smooth top and bake for about 1-1/4 hrs till golden.
Leave in tin for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack to cool.

For the icing - beat the butter, orange juice and icing sugar together. Put it in the fridge for about 30 mins till it gets firmer.
When the cake's cold, slice it in half and fill with half the butter icing. Spread the rest of the icing on top and fork it over. Arrange the orange segments in the middle, and sprinkle some crushed Flake around the edge.

It's not really a traditional chocolate cake, but I've called it that because of the Flake in it. I like the texture the pieces of Flake give - just a bit of crunch - I thought they would melt. Nice orange flavour in the icing which reinforces the hint you get in the cake. It made a change, and OH enjoyed it.

12 juil. 2014

Ginger and Apricot Loaf

Another one of my favourite loaf cake recipes. This one uses stem ginger to give a better flavour than ground ginger. I've found a similar shop to the much missed [by me anyway] Julian Graves stores, so I stocked up on walnuts and dried fruit, including apricots. This such a quick loaf to make, and you can chose whether to ice it or not. I think the recipe is a WI one, as my mil gave it to me, and she usually used their recipes.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4 and grease and line a 900g loaf tin.

In a large bowl put 115g wholemeal flour, 115g plain flour, 11/2tspns baking powder, 150g soft brown sugar, 115g soft butter, pinch salt, 2 beaten eggs, zest of a lemon and 2 tbspns of milk - beat it all together with an electric hand mixer. Stir in 175g chopped dried apricots [the no soak ones] and add 3 pieces of stem ginger chopped finely together with 4 tbspns of the ginger syrup. Finely slice a 4th piece of ginger and keep for the top.
Spoon mixture into the tin, level, then arrange the 4th piece of ginger down the centre of the top.
Bake for about 1 hr or so. Mine took 75 mins, and I had to cover the top with some foil, as it was getting too brown.
Leave in tin for about 15mins then turn onto a wire rack.
I decorated the top when cool with some lemon glace icing [I used 115g icing sugar with about 1 tbspn of lemon juice].

A nice treat with a cuppa  - a lovely subtle ginger flavour and a bite from the apricots. A good combination of flavours.

7 juil. 2014

Pear and Chocolate Charlotte

One of my favourite French desserts is a Charlotte, and I had a tin of pears which needed using and a recipe from a French neighbour for making a chocolate and pear one. It doesn't need cooking, just chilling.
I bought a Charlotte mould when living there, but you can use any deep cake tin.
It's simple to make and delicious.
Charlottes can also be made with bread.

You need:

a large packet of boudoir biscuits [sponge fingers] or make your own 
200ml cream
a sachet of vanilla sugar [about 1 tbspn]
large tin of pears in syrup
150g dark chocolate
4 egg yolks

Open can of pears and pour syrup into a small bowl and slice the pears. Dip the boudoir biscuits into the syrup and line a Charlotte mould with them, keeping some back for the top.

Using an electric hand beater, beat the cream and vanilla sugar together till it's thick.

Melt the chocolate over a low heat. Turn the heat off and add the egg yolks, beating together till the mixture cools. Add the cream and mix together.

Pour half this chocolate mixture into the mould over the biscuits and add half the sliced pears; cover with the rest of the chocolate mixture and finally top with a layer of the syrup-soaked boudoir biscuits.

Put in the fridge for 12 hours, then carefully unmould the Charlotte.

You can see that a Charlotte mould is curved, so made in an ordinary deep cake tin it won't look quite the same. You could use fruit to make a Charlotte - strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, gooseberry etc The biscuits I used were quite thick, as I bought them in France, but any thinner boudoir biscuits work just as well.

There are some great Charlotte recipes here

1 juil. 2014

Rhubarb and Cinnamon Muffins

A quick post as I'm off to my daughter in London till Sunday.

I made these muffins to use up the last sticks of rhubarb in the garden. I usually use oil instead of butter, but thought I'd give these a try. The recipe is from a tatty book I picked up in a charity shop, called '100 Muffins' , but it doesn't have the writer's name in it. 
150g caster sugar
280g plain flour
21/2 tspns baking powder
1 tspn cinnamon
1/2 tspn bicarb.
1/2 tpsn salt
250ml creme fraiche 
110g melted butter
2 eggs
1 tspn vanilla
150g diced rhubarb
3 tbspn caster sugar
1/2 tspn cinnamon

Preheat oven 200C/gas6             Grease a 12 hole muffin tin.

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, salt and bicarb together in a bowl. In another bowl whisk together the creme fraiche, eggs, butter and vanilla to a smooth batter. Stir the wet mixture into the dry one, but don't over mix. Stir in the rhubarb. 
Spoon the batter into the muffin tin.
 Mix the cinnamon and caster sugar and sprinkle over the muffins.
Bake for about 20 mins till golden. Cool on a wire rack.

They're very tasty - like the contrast of the crunchy top. A good use for a small amount of rhubarb.

ps thought the muffin looked good against the bright green pvc tablecloth I bought in France for the garden table!

25 juin 2014

Strawberry Meringue Cake

With Wimbledon just started, thought I'd make something special with strawberries. It was my daughter's birthday and she came up for the weekend, so needed a cake - this was just the thing.
It's made with oil not butter and is very easy to make, yet it looks 'an occasion' cake.

Preheat oven 190C/gas5
Grease and line 2x18cm [7"] sandwich tins

For the cake you need to sieve 150g plain flour, 25g cornflour and 2 level tspns baking powder into a bowl.
Mix together 100ml veg oil [I used sunflower] and 100ml water in another bowl.
Separate 2 eggs and add the yolks to the oil/water mixture and mix together. Stir the dry ingredients in and mix to a batter. Whisk the egg whites till stiff then fold into the mixture.
Divide into the tins then bake for 25-30 mins. Cool on a wire rack. Turn the oven off.

For the little meringues you need to put 1 egg white in a clean dry bowl and whisk till stiff and dry. Mix together 40g caster sugar and 15g icing sugar, then gradually whisk them into the whites.
Put a sheet of baking paper or a silicone sheet onto a baking tray, and using a piping bag and a large fluted nozzle, pipe about 15 rosettes. Put the tray into the oven when it's cool and leave there to dry for about 2 hours - if the oven's too hot, leave the door open.
You can make the meringues earlier and keep them in an airtight tin till you need them.

To finish the cake you need 350g strawberries [ stalks removed] and 250ml double cream.
Keep about 15 strawberries whole then lightly mash the rest. Whisk the cream till it's stiff but still soft and fold in the mashed strawberries.
Use half this mixture as the filling between the 2 sandwich cakes, then spread the rest on the top and decorate with the whole strawberries and the meringues. I sprinkled the meringues with some caster sugar to give a sparkly effect.

Loved the cream with the mashed strawberries - a real Summer taste. You could buy the little meringues or use just strawberries on top, or raspberries or other soft summer fruit. A simple cake, but great for a special occasion.

19 juin 2014

Lemon and Chocolate Tartlets

We had a good holiday in Brittany, and enjoyed lots of excellent food and wine. We ate in several creperies, enjoying the galettes made with buckwheat flour and filled with great things like prawns, cheese, ham and veg. We enjoyed some of the regions specialities such as Le Far Breton [ which is similar to the French Flan I posted about a while ago, but it has prunes and rum in it] and Kouign-amann, a butter cake made with yeast - very rich. We visited  couple of biscuit factories and sampled different flavoured palets and the galettes breton. My favourite flavour was the caramel and sea salt one. We also ate some gateau Breton, which is very similar in texture and flavour to the special cake from the Deux Sevres. I find them rather dry, but ok with a glass of cider!

I thought I'd post a French recipe to keep our holiday memories alive. It was given to me by my friend's neighbour; we were invited to her house for a meal, and this was the dessert. She also made a fantastic 'pain d'epices' using Moroccan spices, as her husband is Moroccan. She gave me that recipe too, and permission to use both recipes on my blog - lovely lady. Thank you C.
C bought the shortcrust pastry, but you could make your own, as I did, using your favourite recipe. I bought some candied lemons in a French delicatessen [as well as quite a few other goodies!]. The tartlets are little lemon ones topped with chocolate and cream. What's not to like?

You need shortcrust pastry using 250g of flour - I used 3 egg yolks, 50g of caster sugar and 150g of unsalted butter to make mine in the food processor. Put the ball of pastry in the fridge for about 30 mins then roll out to fit 6 tartlet tins x 10cm in diameter. Prick with a fork or add baking beans and bake blind in a preheated oven 200C/gas6  for 10 mins.

For the filling - beat 3 eggs with 200g of caster sugar and the finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons. Add 100g of melted butter and beat together. Pour the filling into the pastry cases.
Reduce the heat of the oven to 180C/gas4 and bake the tartlets for 20 mins. Put on a wire rack to cool.

Bring 20cl of single cream to the boil and add 200g of dark chocolate broken into pieces - it's easier if you add them in 2 lots. Stir together. Pour onto the lemon tartlets when they're cold. Put in the fridge for an hour before using. Decorate the top with some candied lemon pieces.

Lemon and chocolate is a combination which I've not really tried before, but I like it. The ganache gives a lemon tart a luxurious finish.