Thursday, 24 September 2015

Frosted Coffee and Walnut Layer Cake by Gordon Ramsay

Another coffee and walnut layer cake?  Yes, and for a very good reason!  I've never made this meringue cuite frosting before, and, seeing it on the Bake Off prodded me into action.  The recipe I used was one by Gordon Ramsay, and the cake was described by one of my testers as the nicest coffee and walnut she'd ever had.   The only problem is that it looks rather sad.  Why?  Because Gordon's recipe didn't make enough meringue for the top and sides, so I ended up quickly whipping up some butter icing for the middle.  By that stage, the meringue had gone down, and there was even less of it - so much so I had to pipe cream around the base.  

So, here is one of my failures, just in case you had the impression that everything was a success!

I've modified the recipe to include more meringue, plus a butter icing filling.  So you won't have the same problem.  Aren't I nice?

Frosted Coffee and Walnut Layer Cake 
Frosted Coffee and Walnut Layer Cake

8oz/225g muscovado sugar
8oz/225g  butter or spread at room temperature
4 large fresh eggs, beaten
5 tbsps/75ml espresso, cooled (or strong dark coffee)
8oz/225g sieved self raising flour
4oz/110g walnuts, finely chopped
2 tsp baking powder
8-12 walnut halves to decorate
2oz caster sugar, 1 tbsp water

Butter Icing filling:
6oz/150g sieved icing sugar (absolutely necessary or you get lumps)
3oz/75g butter or spread at room temperature  
1 tablespoon coffee essence

Meringue Cuite Frosting:
3 large egg whites
5oz/150g sieved icing sugar
Few drops of vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 170 deg C, and line three 8” loose bottom sandwich tins with parchment (or spray with a “cake release” agent), and grease the sides.

In a food processor or Kenwood, cream the buter and muscovado sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, a little at a time (if the mixture starts to look grainy, add 1 tbsp flour each time).  Fold in the walnuts, and the espresso, then add the baking powder and flour, folding it together until there are no little bursts of flour. 

Divide the mixture between the tins and cook for 20-25 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.

Tip out of the tins onto a wire rack and leave to cool.  When cool, make the filling.  Blend the butter, icing sugar and coffee essence in a food processor, adding a little more essence if needed to give a softer consistency – too hard and the cake top will peel off as you spread it.   Sandwich the cakes together. 
Place the walnut halves on a piece of parchment.  Put the caster sugar and water into a small pan and heat until it becomes a dark caramel.  Pour this over the walnuts, and allow to cool (I found this easier than trying to dip them!).  

Now make the meringue cuite frosting.  Put the egg whites in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Whisk the whites until they reach soft peaks, then carry on whisking, adding the icing sugar.  Once this has been added, keep whisking until the mixture is thick and glossy.  This takes ages!   Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla, then cover the cake, top and sides, swirling it around.  Top with the walnut halves. 

Friday, 11 September 2015

Chocolate and Prune Tart by Paul Hollywood

We are in mid-Bake Off at the moment, and Paul Hollywood is, as always, striding up and down during the baking, eyeing up the preparation and making the contestants tremble with his steely glare.. thank goodness I'm not taking part!

Tasked with providing puddings for my Reserve Unit's Selection Day, I dived into his Pies and Puds book, and found this delicious Chocolate and Prune Tart.   As I had a spare tart case in the freezer, I didn't make his chocolate pastry, but put it into the recipe below so you get the full Hollywood effect.

It was a hit with the recruits, despite the fact that there wasn't time to soak the prunes overnight - I simply put them into the microwave and warmed them up a bit.  You are probably more organised than I am....

Chocolate and Prune Tart
Chocolate and Prune Tart

7oz/175g plain flour
2 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
4oz/110g unsalted butter, cut into dice
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp lemon juice
2tbsp cold water

Chocolate Filling:
6oz/150g ready-to-eat soft prunes, cut into quarters
1 tbsp brandy
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 floz/50ml boiling water

3oz/75g dark chocolate, broken
4floz/125ml double cream
8oz/200g mascarpone
2 medium eggs, beaten

The day before (if you spot this in time!), put the prunes, brandy and vanilla in a bowl, pour on the boiling water and leave to soak for several hours.  If time is short, simply bung the bowl into the microwave and give it a minute’s heat. 

Make the pastry – blend dry ingredients, rub in the butter with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs.  Mix the egg with the juice and water, make a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour it in.  Using one hand, mix it all together, adding a bit more water if it is too dry.  Knead gently.    Chill for 20 minutes.  Line a 9” loose bottom flan case.  Chill again.   Heat the oven to 200 deg C and bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment and beans and return to the oven for 8 minutes.  Paul recommends keeping a small bit of pastry back to fill in any cracks after the tart case has cooked. 

Turn the oven down to 180 deg C.  Melt the chocolate and cream together (I put mine into the microwave), stirring occasionally.  Take off the heat and leave for 3 minutes, then beat in the mascarpone and eggs.  Paul says to use a balloon whisk to remove any lumps.  He’s right!   Stir in the prune mixture, plus any juices.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until nearly set – it should have a wobble.  Leave to cool in the tin.  Serve at room temperature with a spoonful of cream (only a spoonful, Paul?)

Friday, 4 September 2015

Rose Ice Cream

Exploring the delicate taste of rosewater, I've been trying it in ice cream.   It seems to go best with little pieces of rose Turkish delight, and, if you do a cooked custard, instead of my quicker method of simply freezing the mix uncooked, it turns into the most unctuous, perfumed.... oh, I've run out of superlatives!   Suffice to say, it has not only passed the husband test, he likes it so much he's now jealously guarding the remaining scrapings from all comers!

I appreciate it is not usually possible to buy just Rose Turkish delight, so I might have to find a way to use up the lemon variety (unless you can eat it without it being in a pudding, of course).

Rose Ice Cream
Rose Ice Cream  

3 egg yolks
1 pint/600ml double or single cream and milk mixed (more cream = richer ice cream)
4oz/120g caster sugar
1tsp good rose essence
½ tube of pink food colouring (Dr Oetker's hot pink!)
4-6 pieces of rose Turkish delight, quartered

Warm the milk/cream in a pan until blood temperature.  Beat the eggs, sugar and rose essence together in a bowl, add the milk and cream and then pour it all back into the pan.  Stir it gently until it thickens slightly, then allow it to cool.  Pour into an ice cream maker and churn until thick.  Add the colouring slowly so you get what you want – not too Barbie, preferably….

Just before the end, add most of the Turkish delight, so that it gets mixed in, but doesn’t either disintegrate or stick to the paddles.   Serve with extra Turkish delight on the top.   This makes approx. 1.5litres, and should be served with delicate little biscuits.  You could scatter it with rose petals, for added beauty, but they don’t honestly taste that great!