Friday, 25 March 2016

Orange and Cardamom Drizzle Cake

For Easter, I decided to make a simple drizzle/glazed loaf cake, as I had totally run out of time to make a more formal fruit cake (which often happens!).   So, this is a really easy last minute cake, and you could decorate it with chickens and eggs, should you so wish.  Orange makes a lovely change from the ubiquitous lemon drizzle, which is synonymous with an unappealing slab of solid sponge, and I added ground cardamom for a bit of warmth to offset the orange.

There's really nothing difficult whatsoever about a loaf cake, just make sure that it doesn't cook so quickly that you get a burst of filling coming out of the top because the edges have cooked too fast.

Since photographing it, this particular one has gone away for the weekend with one of my sons -  I'll just have to make another...

Orange and Cardamom Drizzle Cake 
Orange and Cardamom Drizzle Cake

3 large fresh eggs
6oz/150g sieved self-raising flour or blend 
6oz/150g caster sugar
6oz/150g butter or spread at room temperature
¾ tsp baking powder
Grated zest of 1 orange
10-12 cardamom pods, pods removed, seeds ground in a pestle and mortar

2oz/50g granulated sugar
Juice of 1 orange
½ -1 oz icing sugar
2 cardamom pods treated as above

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 sugars, ground cardamom and orange juice 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.  Leave in the tin until cool.   If the icing has disappeared, make up some more with icing sugar and water or orange juice (a glacĂ© icing) and drizzle it over the top. 

Friday, 11 March 2016

Easy Cheesecake Ice Cream

A recent trip to Venice in February was a culinary paradise!  Little shops with cakes and decadent pastries and macarons.... and, oh, the ice creams....  I've decided it's never too cold for ice cream, particularly the way it is served in Italy, with the oblong tubs of the different flavours, each one decorated to make it even more tempting!   The strawberry cheesecake ice cream was totally covered in crumbed digestive biscuit, with a strawberry layer beneath, and huge chunks of strawberries embedded in the ice cream itself.   If you used gluten free digestive biscuits, then it would all be gluten free.

So, here is my take on it, given that I prefer the strawberries to be whole, if possible!   OK, nul points for beauty, but dix points for taste...

Easy Cheesecake Ice Cream 
Easy Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

2 egg yolks
1 vanilla pod, or 1tsp good quality vanilla extract
3oz/80g caster sugar
15floz/400ml mixed milk and cream – normally 2/3 cream to 1/3 milk
Juice of half a lemon
7oz/180g tub of full fat soft cheese (like Philadelphia)

5oz150g small strawberries, hulled (fresh or frozen)
2oz/50g sugar
Small quantity of water

3 digestive biscuits, crushed (you could use gluten free biscuits)

Separate the egg yolks into a bowl/food processor (putting the whites into a jar to make meringues later), then open the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds onto the yolks.  Add the caster sugar and the soft cheese and beat the mixture together.  Slowly add the cream/milk mixture and the lemon juice and whisk until it is well combined.   

Note:  If you wanted a more unctuous texture, plus you had more time, heat the lemon juice, milk and cream until blood heat, pour onto the yolks and sugar, and then heat again to thicken it, before slowly whisking in the soft cheese. 

Pour into an ice cream maker and churn until it is thick – probably about 35-50 minutes, depending on the warmth of the day.   This quantity usually makes about 1 pint, enough for 4 or 5.   

Whilst this is going on, put the strawberries into a pan, adding the sugar and water.  Simmer gently until the water has formed a syrup, but the strawberries haven’t disintegrated.  Chill the mixture, adding some to the ice cream if you wish.  

To serve, break up the digestive biscuits and either add them to the ice cream before it has finished, or simply scatter over the top and pour on the sauce. 

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Coffee and Nut Doboz Torte

The Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge is really just an old fashioned recipe with no pictures, isn't it?  At least, that's what I thought, when I tried this Doboz Torte from my old Hulme and Downs Penguin Cordon Bleu Cookery book.  Actually, there was a faint memory of this particular cake coming up as a challenge on one of the previous series, so it was an added incentive to try to bring to life the method and words on the page.  The cake consists of five thin layers of sponge, with butter cream (and cream!) filling;  the top layer has a caramel carapace

Did it work?  Yes, it did, BUT.... the funny thing is that every time I've tried to make butter cream by the complicated but fabulous method, there isn't enough.  Is that just my sweet tooth?  (probably) Note to the wise:  up the quantity by at least 1/3.  I used whipped cream instead, and it was good,   This is decorated in unashamed 1970s fashion - lots of fat swirly bits.  As I had misread the recipe and chopped up all the nuts, I made pulled caramel blobs for the top - as you can see, nul points for glamour!   It was very good, but the caramel top doesn't last for more than a day.

By the way, I blitzed the remaining caramel to a powder with some more nuts and made a praline ice cream....

Coffee and Nut Doboz Torte
Coffee and Nut Doboz Torte

4 eggs
6oz/170g caster sugar
5oz/140g plain flour

Butter cream:      (increase this by 1/3 or use half a pint of cream later)
3oz/85g sugar
2.5fl oz/75ml water
3 egg yolks
8oz/225g butter
2oz/50g browned hazelnuts
Coffee flavouring – I prefer liquid essence, otherwise use 1 tsp coffee/1 dsp boiling water

½ pint/285ml double cream

5oz/140g sugar
4 fl oz/115ml water (doesn’t have to be exact!)

2-3 tbsp browned ground hazelnuts and some whole ones

First, prepare five sheets of baking parchment by drawing an 8” circle on each, brushing lightly with oil and dusting with flour.   Preheat the oven to 190 deg C.

The whisk the eggs, adding the sugar gradually, whisking over a pan of hot water until thick (alternative – pour boiling water into the whisking bowl and allow it to warm up).   Remove from the heat and continue whisking until the bowl is cold.  Sift the flour with the salt and, using a metal spoon, fold lightly into the mixture.  Divide into 5 and spread lovingly and evenly into the circles.   Bake each round for about 5-8 minutes.  Trim them with a sharp knife and then cool on a wire rack – peel off the sheets as soon as you can do it without damaging the cake.

Whilst this is going on, make the butter cream.   Blitz the hazelnuts to powder, adding liquid coffee essence.   Put the egg yolks into a bowl and get a whisk ready.  Cream the butter in a second bowl (beat until it is very soft, almost like whipped cream).   Dissolve the sugar in the water and boil it “to the thread”, ie until you can put a small amount on your thumb (it’s hot!), and when you put your finger to the thumb and take it away, it makes a thread.  Then pour it onto the egg yolks, whisking until thick.  Then keep whisking at a slower speed, adding small dollops of the creamed butter so that it all goes together nicely.    

Put aside ¼ of this mixture for decoration (something I forgot to do), then add the hazelnuts and coffee essence to the remainder and beat it in. 

Now take the best looking and smoothest round of cake, put it onto a well oiled tin, ready for the caramel.   Melt the sugar in the water on a low heat, then boil rapidly until it is a rich brown colour.  Pour it over the cake (it will go further than that) and, when the caramel is just about to set, mark it into slices with a sharp, oiled, knife and trim the edges.  Don’t throw away the rest of the caramel!  (I also used some of the not-set bits that fell off the cake and made pulled decorations).

Assemble the cake in layers.  Keep enough of the butter cream to coat the sides, so you may have to use whipped cream in between the butter cream layers if there isn’t enough.  Put the caramel layer on the top and spread the last butter cream around the sides.   Press the chopped/ground hazelnuts around the sides.  Take the reserved butter cream and beat some coffee flavouring into it.  Pipe rosettes around the joins and top with whole nuts or the caramel decorations. 

Serve with coffee and wait for the sugar high!