29 May 2008

George's toffee apple cake

George, from Culinary travels of a kitchen goddess has a truly inspirational blog, stunning recipes, stunning pictures and she uses the most wonderful ingredients. If that wasn't enough George is writing a much anticipated cookery book. As she approaches the final stages of writing she has asked many foodie bloggers to test and blog about her recipes.

I must admit looking through the recipe list I was spoilt for choice and have a few recipes in mind to test for her.

First up though is Toffee apple cake, please check out George's original post about this recipe and to find the recipe itself.

This cake caught my eye as it sounds wonderful, toffee and apples are a perfect combination and this recipe didn't disappoint.

The ingredients were all easy to find, in fact I had them all in the cupboard and the recipe was written very clearly, although the lemon oil listed in the ingredients wasn't mentioned in the recipe, as it came last in the list of ingredients I added it last, over the apples.

While the cake was baking my kitchen was filled with a gorgeous aroma, normally when you bake you can tell what you are baking by the smell coming from the oven, this cake was different, I got individual wafts of olive oil (used instead of butter), then toffee then wafts of Cinnamon and apples, it was a treat to the senses.
My cake took 10 minutes less time to cook than specified in the recipe, but I put this down to my very fierce oven.

The cake was delicious, dry and crumbly, again down to the olive oil, added moisture came from the apples which were cooked perfectly then complimented beautifully with the dulce de leche.
Would I do anything differently? Next time I would use a spring form tin, as I like to serve
my cakes on a cake plate and this is quite a large cake to manoeuvre.

Would I make this cake again? Yes, yes, yes!!!

28 May 2008

The cake you want to eat when you've been chucked

Any Nigella fan will know exactly which cake I am talking about just by the title of this post. If you're not so clued up on Nigella this is the chocolate fudge cake from Nigella Bites, this is what Nigella says about it 'This is the sort of cake you'd want to eat the whole of when you'd been chucked. But even the sight of it, proud and tall and thickly iced on it's stand, comforts.' Nigella has never said a truer word.
We had a family birthday this week and a when a chocolate fudge cake (with extra chocolate flakes) was requested I couldn't wait to make this cake.
Why have I waited so long to make it.

Chocolate fudge cake
for the cake:
400g plain flour
250g golden caster sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
50g best quality cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
142ml sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
125ml corn oil
300ml chilled water

for the fudge icing:
175g dark chocolate
250g unsalted butter, softened
275g icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180c/ gas mark 4.
Butter and line the bottom of two 20cm sandwich tins.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt. In another bowl or wide necked measuring jug whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended. Using a freestanding mixer, beat together the melted butter and corn oil until just blended, then beat in the water.
Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed. Add the egg mixture and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared tins.
Bake the cakes for 50 - 55 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.
Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, melt the chocolate in the microwave- 2-3 minutes on medium should do it - and let cool slightly.
In another bowl beat the butter until it's soft and creamy and then add the sieved icing sugar and beat again until everything's light and fluffy. Then gently add the vanilla and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth.
Sandwich the middle of the cake with about a quarter of the icing, and then ice the top and sides too, spreading and smoothing with a rubber spatula.
Serves 10. Or 1 with a broken heart.

This cake is to die for, it is so delicious. The sour cream in the cake really cuts through the sweetness, it is light and fluffy, so moreish.
I covered mine in, as requested, chocolate flakes, they made a tasty addition and covered my not-so-perfect cake decorating skills. Although I must say that the icing was a dream to work with and I had more than plenty left for a bowl licking treat afterwards.
Everyone who had a slice of this cake raved about it, it is a must bake, even if you don't have a broken heart. Well, why would you want to wait around for that to happen.

25 May 2008

Chelsea buns

Chelsea buns, Bath buns, Paris buns, well, any buns to be honest are popular in my house but Chelsea buns always go down a storm. A favourite of my loved ones I make these for them as a special treat when I want a extra way to show I love them.
This is a simple yeasted recipe can be done in a couple of hours, Although I usually make the dough the night before and let them have a slow rise over night.

This recipe comes from, again, The big book of bread, as mentioned in the garlic focaccia post.

Chelsea buns
225g strong white bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
55g butter, diced
1 1/2 tsp easy blend instant yeast
25g caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
100ml warm milk
85g mixed raisins and currants
55g sultanas
55g light soft brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp honey to glaze
Grease a 8inch square tin and set aside. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl, then lightly rub in 25g butter. Stir in yeast and caster sugar. Make a well in the centre, then add the egg and enough milk, mixing to form a soft dough.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Shape into a round, then place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place till doubled in size.
Knock back the dough on a lightly floured surface, then roll out to form a 30 x 23 cm rectangle. Melt the remaining butter and brush it over the dough.
Combine the fruit, brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the dough.
Starting with the long side, roll up the dough, fairly tightly like a Swiss roll. Cut into 12 even slices, then place the rolls, cut side up, in the tin. Cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 190c/ gas mark 5. Bake the buns for about 25-30minutes, or until risen and golden brown.
Remove from the oven and brush twice with honey while still hot. Cool slightly in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack. Serve warm or cold.
These delicious buns don't last long, not that they don't keep well, I mean they don't hang around long, they quickly disappear.
I often substitute the honey glaze for a sticky sugar glaze and I always garnish them with a handful of preserving sugar, the coarse granules give a 'coffee shop' look.

19 May 2008

Masala omelette

I can hardly call this a recipe, I cook it so often for myself that it is a way of life. Probably one of my favourite recipes from Nigella. So simple yet so satisfying.
It comes from the 'All -day breakfast' section of Nigella Bites, and while I started off cooking this as a breakfast dish, I now cook this whenever I get a chance.

Yes, chilli for breakfast may seem odd to some people, I love it, I am a chilli freak though.

The original recipe ,below, is really just a blueprint, as Nigella says this recipe lends itself to many different combination.

Masala omelette

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 spring onion, sliced finely

1-2 chillies to taste, red or green

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

2 eggs, beaten

freshly chopped coriander for sprinkling over

chapattis to eat with, if you feel like it.

Preheat the grill.

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan 20-27cm in diameter, and fry the spring onion, chilli, garlic and turmeric until soft. Add the other spices and fry for another minute, stirring occasionally, then add the beaten eggs, swirling the pan to help the eggs set underneath.

When the omelette is nearly set, flash it under the hot grill to finish it off, and serve with chapattis.

Serves 1.

So adaptable, Nigella suggests adding mint or grated ginger, I usually up the garlic and chilli's and leave out the chapatti, sometimes I abandon the grill as I like this quite underdone, nothing worse than a over cooked omelette.

17 May 2008

Garlic Focaccia

I love Italian bread and as tonight is pasta night what better than a focaccia. The original recipe I used comes from 'The big book of bread' by Anne Sheasby. This book is a bread bible, every bread you can think of is in this book and it is a real inspiration to me. I did fiddle with the recipe, although the dough is the original recipe from the book I made this into a garlic focaccia. Sauteed garlic was wrapped inside the bread dough then I studded the bread with garlic cloves and rosemary, fresh from the garden.
(based on half quantity)
225g plain white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon easy blend yeast
1 1/5 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
110ml warm water
I added to this:
8 cloves garlic, chopped
12 cloves garlic unpeeled.
3 tbsp olive oil
Few sprigs of rosemary

Preheat oven to 200c.
Grease a baking tray and set aside.
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, stir in the yeast.
Make a well in the centre, then add the olive oil and enough water to make a soft dough.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead till soft and elastic. Shape the dough into a round, then place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave until doubled in size.
Gently saute the garlic in a 1 tbsp of olive oil, when golden brown, remove from the pan and pour over the remaining oil. Set aside.
Gently simmer the unpeeled cloves of garlic for 10 minutes in a pan of water. When soft drain and set aside.
Knock back the dough and roll out to a large rectangle, spread the sauteed garlic (keep the oil for later though) over the dough and fold over the edges to enclose the garlic.
Turn the dough over and brush with the remaining garlic infused oil, stud with the cooked garlic cloves and rosemary. Sprinkle a little flour over the top.
Bake for 20 minutes.

This bread was delicious, and very simple to do. The garlic centre was very mild and the garlic cloves steamed in their skins, making them a aromatic contrast to the rosemary.
I will be baking this bread again and again.

11 May 2008

Sour cream chocolate muffins

Sour cream chocolate muffins, the title says it all. I first discovered the sour cream, chocolate combination through Nigella Lawson, she uses this in many of her chocolate cakes. The sour cream seems to cut through the cloying sweetness of the chocolate. You don't get that sickly feeling meaning you are always able to go back for seconds.
As with most muffin recipes, this is so simple, mix wet into dry ingredients, mix not- so-well, bake and devour.

dry ingredients:
200g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
20gg caster sugar
50g cocoa
wet ingredients:
200g butter, melted and cooled
142ml pot sour cream
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
optional: 150g chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180c.
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
In another bowl add the wet ingredients, whisk well until combined.
Pour wet ingredients into the dry bowl and mix to combine. Do not over mix the batter should be lumpy.
Stir in chocolate chips, if using.
Spoon into muffin cases and bake for 25 - 30 minutes.
These muffins were delicious, dense and velvety. The sour cream makes such a difference to any chocolate recipe. I think this mixture would be great cooked in a loaf tin, sliced and served with cream.

Award time

I was very happy and surprised to be awarded a 'I love you this much' award by the lovely Rosie from Rosie bakes a 'peace' of cake. http://rosiebakesapeaceofcake.blogspot.com/ please go and have a look at Rosie's gorgeous blog, it is a inspiration.
Thank you so much Rosie!

I am going to pass this award on to Anna from 'At Anna's kitchen table. http://atannaskitchentable.blogspot.com/ I love Anna's blog, it has a lovely homely feeling, as if you are part of the furniture there. She is passionate about food and her family and it really comes though in her writing. She is very deserving of this award. Please go and visit her kitchen.

09 May 2008

Easy chocolate croissants

This comes from Nigella Express, and to be honest the only reason I hadn't made these earlier was that I thought it was sacrilege to call a puff pastry parcel a croissant. Authentic they aren't but other than spending two days making real croissants this is the next best thing, well, apart from visiting a very good bakery.

I decided to make these as I had half a packet of pastry leftover from the curry puffs, waste not want not.

Basically this is what to do:
1 x 375g ready rolled puff pastry
1 x 100g dark chocolate
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 220c. Unfurl the sheet of pastry and cut into 6 squares.
Cut each square diagonally to give 2 small triangles. Put the triangles with the wider part facing you, and the point away from you.
Break off small pieces of chocolate (approx. 1cm) and place on the pastry triangles, about 2cm up from the wide end nearest you.
Then carefully roll from that chocolate-loaded end towards the point of the triangle.
You should now have something resembling a straight croissant. Seal it slightly with your fingertips and curl it around into a crescent.
Place the 12 chocolate croissants on a lined but not buttered baking tray and paint with the beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes until they are golden and puffy and exuberantly, if minaturely, croissant-like.

Well they were cute, even though they refused to turn golden brown. My daughter, croissant conosseuir, asked why I had tried to replicate her favourite French pastry with puff pastry, sacrilege indeed.
Would I make these again, only to use up leftover puff pastry, not that they weren't tasty, they were, if you like chocolate wrapped puff pastry. They were wolfed down rather quickly, but a visit to a good baker would be just as easy and far more delicious.

08 May 2008

Curry puffs

This recipe comes from my favourite food writer's column, Tom Norrington-Davies, writing for delicious. Talking about snobbery towards curry powder, yes I am guilty too, we all seem to have a tub of the stuff lurking at the back of the cupboard, yet tend to use a array of delicious spices to achieve that hot, aromatic base for 'curry' in it's place. I use 'curry' as the word we British in particular use for anything even slightly spiced and not really authentic.
This recipe for a simple cheats samosa really caught my eye, if I can give in too curry powder I can live with a puff pastry style samosa.

Chicken curry puffs, from Tom Norrington-Davies.
450g potatoes, cut into 1 cm dice
3 garlic cloves
2 shallots
3 -4 sprigs fresh coriander
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp mild curry powder
1 tsp tomato puree
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp groundnut oil
250g coarsely minced chicken
500g block puff pastry
1 egg

Cook the diced potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water until they are just tender. Drain and cool.
Chop the garlic, shallots and coriander to a near paste using a food processor, place in a small bowl and season with the curry powder, sugar, tomato puree and soy sauce.
Heat the groundnut oil in a frying pan, and fry the curry paste over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until it is a deep golden brown colour.
Add the minced chicken and a couple spoonfuls of water to moisten and continue frying until the meat is cooked through.
Fold in the cooked potatoes and check the seasoning, you might one more soy or a pinch more sugar. The flavour should be spicy-salty-sweet. Cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 200c / gm 6, roll out the puff pastry. Use a saucer as a guide and cut out 8 smallish discs; the size is up to you really, they could be canape or snack size. I use a 13cm saucer.

Make a egg wash by beating the egg with 3 tbsp water. Egg wash the edges of the pastry discs and fill the centres with the curry filling. Fold the discs into turnovers and crimp the edges before egg washing the pastries.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the curry puffs on the tray, bake for 125minutes or until they are golden and fluffy. Rest for 5 minutes before attacking.

I was unsure how the curry puffs would live up to my beloved samosa but the filling of cooked potato and spiced chicken, tasted absolutely divine, so good that I almost did away with the pastry and had the filling as a side. Combined with buttery, flaky pastry these were a real treat along side my Saturday night 'curry' definatley a keeper. I will make these time and time again.