Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Maple and Pecan Drizzle Cake

Loaf cakes are a largely unappreciated species.  Using the same amount of ingredients as a standard cake (something I still can't quite believe!), but generally slightly denser, they are perfect for cake addicts who don't want the added sugar of the icing.  Healthy cake!   Also, as they are in a more compact form, they cut up better and stand up to travel.  When does this become important?  When on a coach-based weekend, of course!  The Army marches on its stomach, and my TA unit is no exception - we have just spent a historic weekend re-visiting the places in France and Belgium where our forebears saw service in 1914.  The diaries and songs show that the diet was uninspiring and monotonous, but relieved by "ration biscuit" and good chocolate.  I like to think some cake crept in there too....

Maple and Pecan Drizzle Cake

Maple and Pecan Drizzle Cake

3 large fresh eggs
6oz/150g sieved self-raising flour
5oz/125g light brown soft sugar 
1floz/25g maple syrup
6oz/150g butter or spread at room temperature
¾ tsp baking powder
2oz/50g chopped pecans

Crunchy Topping:
2oz/50g Demerara sugar
3 or 4 tbsp maple syrup
1oz/25g chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 180 deg C, and line a 2lb loaf tin with parchment.

In a food processor or Kenwood, blend the cake ingredients together and then beat until pale and fluffy.   Shove into the oven and cook for 25-35 minutes (depending on the heat of your oven) until risen and golden brown.  To test, the cake should have come away from the edges slightly, and if you put a (heated) knife or skewer into the middle, it will come out clean.

Mix together the sugar and syrup and, as soon as the cake has come out of the oven, stab it with a cocktail stick to make some deep holes and pour the mixture all over it slowly, adding more syrup if inclined.   Scatter with the remaining pecans.    Leave in the tin until cool

Friday, 17 October 2014

Plum and Cinnamon Sponge Pudding

The scent of plums cooking is amazing!   It reminds me of late summer, and this pudding also has a delicious hint of cinnamon in what must be one of the world's easiest bakes.   I like it because you can use less than beautiful older plums, or even those ones you buy that turn out to be bullets, and it still works well.  I'm sure you could make it with just ground almonds instead of the mix of almonds and flour, and it would be more squidgy (and if you tried it, you might need to add some milk to the basic mix), and it can be dairy free if you use a spread instead of butter.   Please don't forget to serve it with lots of custard - this is an update on a rib-sticking British pud, not an elegant Continental confection!

Plum and Cinnamon Sponge Pudding

Plum and Cinnamon Sponge Pudding

6 plums, stones removed
2 large fresh eggs
3oz/85g self raising flour
1oz/25g ground almonds
4oz/110g caster sugar
4oz/110g softened butter/buttery spread
1 level tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1oz flaked almonds

Preheat oven to 180 deg C, and grease a 9” baking dish – the dish needs to be at least 2”/50mm high to allow for the pudding to rise (we can all hope!).   

In a food processor or Kenwood, blend the eggs, flour, sugar, spread, baking powder and cinnamon together and then beat for about one minute.   Tip the mixture into the baking dish, then press in the plums, cut side up (it works best this way round).  Finally, sprinkle on the flaked almonds.     Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the sponge is cooked.  To test, put a (heated) knife or skewer into the middle, and it should come out clean.

Serve hot with lashings of real custard!  Custard is on my blog:

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Delia's Fallen Chocolate Soufflé

Delia’s recipes work.  Sometimes I find she complicates things, but the bottom line is that all of her recipes work, and they are all divine.   Please go and buy some of her books – you really won’t regret it – as there are many recipes you really won’t find anywhere else.   I tested this delicious soufflé at a TA weekend, and it disappeared, as anything chocolate will, but the photo didn’t do it justice.  That meant I was FORCED to make another one… so here it is!  (and here I am, a stone heavier)  It is naturally gluten free, could be dairy free, also absolutely delicious - go on, just tidy up that little edge... 

Delia's Fallen Chocolate Soufflé 
Delia’s Fallen Chocolate Soufflé with Prune and Armagnac Sauce

To soak the prunes:
12oz/350g ready-to-eat prunes
5fl oz/150ml water
5fl oz/150ml Armagnac

To make the soufflé:
7oz/200g dark continental chocolate, pref 75% cocoa solids
4oz/110g butter
1 tbsp Armagnac 
4 x large eggs, separated
4oz/110g caster sugar  
Cocoa powder or icing sugar for dusting

For the prune and crème fraiche sauce:
the remainder of the soaked prunes
5fl oz/150ml creme fraiche


Line an 8 inch/20cm springform cake tin with baking parchment.
Put the prunes, water and Armagnac into a bowl and microwave until it is hot but not boiling.  Remove from the heat and then allow the prunes to soak.  This speeds up the process, although Delia advises soaking overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 170 deg C.  Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave, then  add the second dose of Armagnac and leave to cool.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl for about 5 minutes – a Kenwood/Kitchen Aid mixer is better at this than a hand whisk.  

Remove 18 of the soaked prunes, cutting each one in half.  Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the whisked egg, and add the prunes.   Whisk the egg whites in a dry bowl to the soft peak stage (Delia tells you to wash and dry your whisk thoroughly, and she’s right because otherwise the whites absorb the fats in the bowl and don’t whisk – I learned this through trial and error!).   Fold the whites into the mixture.  The easiest way is to fold a tablespoonful in first, then the rest of it.   You don’t want white islands.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 mins or until the centre feels springy to the touch.  Allow the soufflé to cool in the tin. When it's quite cold, remove it from the tin, peel off the paper, then cover and chill for several hours.   Dust with cocoa or icing sugar.  

For the sauce, liquidize the left over prunes and their liquid and stir in the crème fraiche.   Delia suggests stirring it to give a marbled effect.  Serve separately.  It doesn’t look glamorous, to be honest, but tastes amazing!  (also can be eaten on its own with ice cream…)