Tales from kitchen and cellar

Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Christmas Pudding and Ginger Stout, Stir Up Sunday

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, drink, food, Food and Drink on November 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stir Up Sunday

It’s the second of my recipe blog’s for the Wine Place in Wokingham. This week we’ve been looking at matching beer to your very own home made Christmas Pudding. This weekend it’s Stir Up Sunday and if you’ve never made your own Christmas pudding, now’s your chance.

Take a look at the blog and recipe here

 

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Decadent Orange Polenta Cake

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, food on August 9, 2012 at 10:50 am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who doesn’t like cake? Sorry, don’t answer that! Very few at any rate and for those who are looking for something a little different to a classic sponge then this rich, sumptuous, glossy orange cake might be just the ticket.

Dense and delicious, rich and yummy this is a serious cake from Ottolenghi the cookbook. It’s a little effort but worth it.

Ingredients

50g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

200g unsalted butter

200g caster sugar

3 free range eggs, lightly beaten

2 tsp orange blossom water

240g ground almonds

120g quick cook polenta

Caramel Topping

90g caster sugar

2tbsp water

20g unsalted butter cut into cubes

2-3 oranges

Glaze (optional)

3tbsp orange marmalade (shredless)

1 tbsp water

Method

Preheat oven to 170 Gas Mark 3

Take an 8 inch cake tin, grease and line the base and sides with baking parchment.

Place the sugar and the water for the caramel in a pan and bring gently to the boil, do not stir or the sugar will crystalise. After a few minutes the sugar will start to darken to a golden caramel. Remove from the heat and stepping back from the pan add the butter.

Pour the caramel into the base of your cake tin and swirl around so the base of the tin is fully covered.

Zest your oranges being careful not to remove the bitter pith and set to one side.

Carefully cut off the rind of the oranges and slice into 6 discs removing any seeds as you go along. Place the orange slices into the caramel and pack in tightly. Use an extra orange if necessary.

Start with the cake batter. With the help of a kitchen aid or electric beaters cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Then add the eggs, orange blossom water and zest.

Fold in the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour in the tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a plate. Leave to cool completely.

You can glaze the cake with some warmed shredless marmalade for extra shine. Serve with a little sweetened mascarpone for a sweet sharp twang.

Enjoy!

Strawberry Meringue, Crowning Glory

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on July 24, 2012 at 7:57 am

Strawberry Meringue

Is there any finer pudding in these summer months than the crisp, chewy, light texture of home made meringue, whipped cream with fresh vanilla and the star of the show… the voluptuous strawberry.

This dish has great impact, the rustic wow factor and is every bit as tasty and gorgeous as it looks. I urge you all to go find the finest strawberries you can,  a good double cream and free range eggs.

Ingredients (serves 6 with leftovers)

4 fresh egg whites (large)

225g caster sugar

1 vanilla pod split and seeded

500 ml double cream

3 tbsp icing sugar

2 punnets of strawberries

 

Method

Preheat oven to 140 C, line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper and draw circles in pencil using a plate as a guideline.

Using a very clean bowl and electric beaters, whisk the egg whites until medium to stiff peaks are formed. Beat for a little longer then add 1 tablespoon of sugar then whisk again, repeat before adding the remaining sugar. Beat until thick and glossy.

Spoon onto your baking sheets and place on the bottom two shelves and bake for one hour, then turn the oven off completely and leave the meringue to cool overnight.

When you are ready to serve your meringue, wash, hull and chop your strawberries into quarters. Keep a few whole for decoration I usually set 7 aside. You can add a little sugar and cointreau to the strawberries if you like for added sweetness and kick.

Whip the cream with the vanilla seeds and icing sugar until thick enough to hold its own weight but still be spread.

Carefully remove the meringue from the greaseproof paper and using a large plate to serve keep your best meringue for the top.

Spread the cream on the bottom of the meringue, top with the strawberries together with any juice that has leached out, use a little of the cream to sandwich the top on carefully and decorate with the strawberries set aside using a little more of the cream.

It is very fragile at this stage but if it cracks don’t worry too much, serve and enjoy!

If there is any left you can pop it in the fridge and serve as an eton mess the next day, delicious.

 

 

 

Tarty Tarte Tatin

In Baking, food, Food and Drink on July 19, 2012 at 11:59 am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tasty Tarte Tatin

This decadent tarte tatin really is as good to eat as it looks. Leave to cool slightly before tucking in so that the caramel starts to get a little tacky and sticks to your teeth before being washed away by the softness of the apple. Yum!

Ingredients

240g caster sugar

90 g unsalted butter diced

1 x 500g pack of puff pastry

2 pink lady apples

a little flour for rolling out

1 cinnamon stick (optional)

vanilla ice cream to serve

Method

Pre heat the oven to 200C/ 180 fan or gas mark 6

Take a heavy based  small frying pan and heat the sugar with a little water until the sugar dissolves and starts to caramelise, don’t stir as the mixture may crystalise.

Once the sugar has reached a dark caramel colour remove from the heat and add the sugar carefully so as not to splash yourself with molten liquid!

Roll out the pastry to the size of the frying pan around the thickness of a pound coin.

Peel and core the apple and cut each into four wedeges, arrange on top of the caramel place the cinnamon stick across the tart diagonally if using. Then tuck in the pastry just like a blanket and bake in the oven for around 40 minutes.

Leave to cool before turning out, and serve with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

Taste the tropics…in a muffin!

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on July 10, 2012 at 10:58 am

Marvelous Muffins

Mango and coconut muffins

In this miserable summer weather a bit of baking always lifts my spirits and as I thought of hotter climes the idea of a totally tropical mango and coconut muffin recipe came to mind. We might not have the caribbean sunshine but we can certainly taste the tropics!

This recipe is a great basic guideline swap around the mango for any fruit you like, peach also works well. Buttermilk for me makes a muffin great and I am supremely confident that this is one of the best muffin recipes around.

Ingredients

Makes around 20-24 muffins

4 cups of plain flour

8 tsp BP

1 cup caster sugar

200 g melted butter

400 ml buttermilk

2 eggs

2 cups of  chopped fruit (I used mango)

1/2 cup dessicated coconut

2 muffin trays and cases

Method

Pre-heat oven to 160 C, Gas Mark 4

Line 2 muffin trays with muffin cases.

Sift the flour together with the baking powder sugar and pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. In  a seperate bowl mix the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter. Fold them all together. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake for Approx 20-25 min until risen and golden brown. Test with a skewer that comes out clean from the mixture.

Leave to cool a little on a wire rack, but try whilst still warm for the best taste. Enjoy!

I also have a new little friend keeping me company in the kitchen, I would like to introduce Maisie…

 

Dotty About Cake

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on June 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm

 

Celebration Cake

Cakes are a firm favourite of mine whether they’re to eat, bake, decorate or share. This cake is no exception. When a friend asked me to bake a cake to celebrate her ten year wedding anniversary I was, of course thrilled. With little direction except “fresh flowers please!” I was excited but nervous about creating the right cake.

Thankfully this one went down a treat. The lemon drizzle and lemon curd buttercream was rich, sharp, sweet and tangy and was enjoyed by all.

I covered the cake in two layers of buttercream chilling between each layer before I covered it in ivory sugar fondant. I left to set overnight before spraying with gold food spray a number of times to ensure a golden, glittery sheen.

I picked roses from the garden mixed with some shop bought and they were kept moist in a little soaked oasis planted in a jam jar lid.

The spots on the cake were made from three different pastel fondants which I thought would complement both the cake and the flowers. I cut them out in three different sizes and stuck on with a little vodka.

I was tempted to spray again with a little gold but I liked the juxtaposition of the matt spots against the sheen of the cake.

I rested the flowers on top and added an ivory ribbon at the base secured with a pin, and that was it!

Ready to eat….

 

Birthday Cake Celebrations

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, drink, food, Food and Drink on May 31, 2012 at 8:45 am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

Birthday Cake

Today I am showcasing a recent cake I made for a 60th Birthday. It’s a little more fun to look at and I had a great time making it. I tried to make it funny and light hearted as the birthday girl in question is exactly that.

I tried to tie in her home sofa, a place she likes to relax and with what better celebratory drink than a glass of champagne.

I made a basic lemon sponge with all the fillings that I have showcased here before. Once again I coated the cake in two layers of lemon curd buttercream and then iced with white fondant. A little shimmer of silver spray glitter, gave the cake a pearlescent sheen. Everything on this cake was edible except the champagne glass which was made of plastic

I cut out triangles of bunting from fondant paste and dotted a little blue icing between each to give the impression of the string that would be used to hold it up. I was keen for the bunting to hang in different lengths around the cake to give a more relaxed feel.

The figure and sofa itself was made in two stages. I made the sofa out of 6 parts. 2 parts for the underneath I shaped as pillows and stacked on top of each other. This website teaches you how…I made a rug out of a little blue fondant and one of my shaping tools gave it a fringed effect.

For the figurine I rolled out a tube for the legs which I folded in the middle. A body was mad out of white icing with two balls of icing for the feminine form! I made two flesh coloured arms and attached them to the body frame.

I then rolled out a little blue icing and rolled out a few small strips of white icing. I rolled the white into the blue to form a stripy top. This I then draped over the icing torso, and trimmed to make it look like a top.

At this stage I was pretty happy, the head proved more challenging and in truth I did many different versions. I added a little red food dust that you can buy from cake shops for blusher. I made little white balls which I pushed into the eye sockets using a small ball shaped icing tool. A little blue food pen was used for the iris’s and black for the eyelashes.

Her wedge shoes with toes were simply made with a little blue fondant and a little flesh colour to show her toes.

I worked off a photograph to get the hair effect. I mixed a little yellow with a little liquorice food colouring, I added a little mexican sugar paste to the mixture that ensured that it would set hard and not flop at the ends. Using a knife I made cuts into the hair for effect.

A little blue bracelet was added to reduce the obvious join between hand and arm. I used spaghetti (uncooked) through the torso which stuck out a little to attach the head.

Finally a little lemon jelly was made to fill the champagne glass, which I syringed into the glass and left to set in the fridge. Green fondant icing was used for the bottle together with a mexican paste label that I wrote on using a food colouring pen.

I mixed a little fondant with vodka to make a paste and set the sofa on the cake before icing Happy Birthday.

In hindsight I should have used a dowling road through the sofa and the cake so that the figurine didn’t collapse into the cake, which after a 5 hour car journey it sadly did!

Marvelous Meringues

In Baking, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on May 22, 2012 at 11:48 am

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mini Meringue Mountains

Ahh meringues, the simple sweet pleasure of this crispy dessert is not to be underestimated. Crunchy and chewy clouds of joy which work as a great vehicle for other flavours such as fresh fruit, cream, ice cream or just enjoyed on their own.

I am a huge fan of the meringue and over the years I would consider it my “go to” dessert if all else fails. In short, I would like to think that after many years of searching for the perfect recipe it was right under my nose all along!

Delia Smith or should I say Saint Delia’s recipe is simple, foolproof and works time after time. These mini meringue mountains were made using her method and provide the perfect crunch to chew ratio. I have changed only one ingredient, I used golden caster sugar to give a creamy glow to the final result. Here it is:

Ingredients

3 large fresh egg whites

175g golden caster sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 140C

Using a baking sheet lightly oil and line with silicone paper (this is to ease the meringues off at the end)

Using a spotlessly clean bowl, place the egg whites in the bowl and whisk until you form medium to soft peaks (turn the bowl on top of your head and the egg whites should stay put).

At this stage add one tablespoon of sugar to the mixture, and re whisk to bring it to medium to stiff peak again, keep adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time, twice more. Then add the remaining sugar to the mixture.

Using two big spoons scoop the meringue mixture into rustic dollops onto the baking sheet.

Place in the oven for one hour then turn the oven off. Leave the meringue in the oven until cold. This is best left overnight if you can.

Enjoy with whipped cream and some fruit rippled through it like strawberries or raspberries. Or if you made my perfect peaches yesterday and had a little of them left the jus will make this sweet treat sublime!

Enjoy!

Perfect Peaches

In Baking, Cooking, drink, food, Food and Drink on May 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect Poached Peaches

I know it’s a little early but I did spy some lovely looking peaches which although a little hard are perfect for this recipe. This photo was taken a couple of summers ago during a catering holiday I undertook in Italy. The peaches then, like now were a little under ripe but once they were poached as you can see they were good enough…well, to eat. Truly delicious!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

6 Peaches

1 fresh vanilla pod

2-3 Tablespoons clear honey

1 bottle of rosé wine

Method

Halve the peaches and stone them. Place in a shallow pan with all of the ingredients above including the split vanilla pod and seeds. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook the peaches until tender which will take around 15 minutes. Leave to cool a little then remove the peaches from the poaching liquor and skin them if you prefer.

Reduce the liquor until syrupy in consistency, add more honey if you prefer.

Add the peaches back into the liquor then serve warm or at room temperature. A generous dollop of créme fraiche, greek yoghurt or creamy ice cream will be delicious with this dessert and the whitish colour looks great against the rosé jus. Roll on the summer!

Going Bananas Over Banana Bread

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on May 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moist Banana Loaf

This great tea time treat took  its inspiration from the four sad and black looking bananas lurking at the bottom of my fruit bowl. As I wavered whether it would be less cruel to just put them out of their misery and into the bin a wave of inspiration hit me. A second life was awaiting these sad looking fruit souls in the form of a delicious and moist banana bread.

Below is a recipe I have taken from the BBC website. It’s quick and easy and will fill your kitchen with the sweet aromas of baking and warm bananas. Although it’s very tempting to eat whilst warm from the tin this cake benefits from a days relax. The true fruity banana flavour develops more and the moist cake just tastes better all round…A really great reincarnation for the humble banana.

Ingredients

  • 285g/10oz plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 110g/4oz butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 225g/8oz caster sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 85ml/3fl oz buttermilk (or normal milk mixed with 1½ tsp lemon juice or vinegar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Grease and line with baking parchment a large loaf tin

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  • Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk and vanilla extract to the butter and sugar mixture and mix well. Fold in the flour mixture.
  • Grease a 20cm x 12.5cm/8in x 5in loaf tin and pour the cake mixture into the tin.
  • Transfer to the oven and bake for about an hour, or until well-risen and golden-brown.
  • Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.