Friday, 12 May 2017

Kelpot's chocolate pinata cake

Today was Kelpot's last day, so I spent most of last night putting together her leaving cake. Given that Kelly loves both cake and chocolate it was quite an easy design process.

I ended up with a three tier chocolate and vanilla cake, sandwiched with chocolate fudge icing, covered in white chocolate buttercream and decorated with kingsize buttons.

What I hadn't really figured into my night was all the cooling and waiting. Even though I used the buttercream recipe I had used before I was quite worried by the lack of combination and setting early on. Perseverence paid off and with time it made a very good icing.

That wasn't the end of it though. I had to do a three tier cake because I cut the middle cake into an annulus thus creating a cavity to conceal a landslide of Maltesers, Rolos and Munchies.

I wasn't there for the actual cutting, but had briefed a couple of people so that during the slicing they could be assured that nothing was going wrong.

By all accounts it went well. I came back to an office deafened by the silence of post-cake inactivity, so I think it went down pretty well. However, I will leave the final comment to the text message that I received from a colleague:


Sunday, 9 April 2017

Apple beignets

On an idle Sunday morning, with nothing much but culinary exploration to fill my time, it seems apple beignets are a delightful breakfast*.

Hot apple swaddled in a crisp sweet batter. What's not to like? 

OK so it is a faff setting up the deep fat fryer, but there's not really any other way of cooking these; shallow frying just wouldn't do it. My fryer is ever so slightly too small, so I had to cook each slice individually, making it slightly more time consuming, but still worth it, I think. That may also account for the slightly reduced "puff".

I never realised beignets were so simple. I'm not entirely sure you need to rest the batter for two hours. I think you could get away with half an hour. I think it depends just how hungry you are...

The batter makes plenty for encasing two apples, which should give you 10-12 slices.

125g plain flour
30g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
50ml milk
60ml dry cider
2 eating apples 
Oil for deep-frying

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the eggs and whisk until combined.
2. Lightly whisk the milk, cider and eggs to combine and add to the dry ingredients, whisking until smooth. Add the liquids in little by little to avoid lumps. Let it rest for two hours.
3. Peel, core then slice the apples about 5mm thick. Dip them into the batter, then fry in oil at 180°C until golden brown.
4. Dust with sugar to finish and enjoy them while still hot.

*You should know by now that this blog is about eating tasty food, so don't judge. Besides it's one of your 5-a-day...

Monday, 6 March 2017

Chocolate and banana cake

I was "commissioned" (I use inverted commas because I wasn't actually paid) to make a cake for a colleague's birthday. 

It was the first time that I've created a cake by completely drawing on elements that I have previously used. The cake used all recipes that I have used before just in a new combination.

The specification was based on the recipients preferred flavours: chocolate and banana with come caramel thrown in to round things out.

It turned out quiet well, despite being an "assembly" job.

 (Yet again, I forgot about taking photos so rushed...)

The flavours all worked really well together. I was worried that it might be rather too sweet, but that fear was definitely not realised. The banana cream brought a freshness with a depth of flavour coming from the chocolate fudge icing. There was a pleasing banana "aroma" permeating through the whole cake. Despite each mouthful being comprised of different elements, the whole thing worked rather well. It has a well-rounded flavour that was long on the palette. 

I initially thought there many have been some benefit it using a butter-based chocolate cake rather than oil-based. however, this was based on trimmings of the cake in isolation. In combination with the other elements, however, I don't think anything need to change.

The recipe drew on the following elements:

Chocolate cake: Banana, chocolate and peanut butter cake with an added 100g melted chocolate added to the batter

Chocolate fudge icing: Half the amount of Icing 4 from the wedding cake tasting with an added 1tsp of cocoa

Caramel icing: Twice the amount of the external frosting from the Caramel cake

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Pancake Day 2017

I love Shrove Tuesday. Any day where an entire nation celebrates a single food stuff is good with me. Most people go down the dessert route: crepes with lemon and sugar as pudding. You can't argue with a classic like that.

I prefer to fully embrace both the pancake and day aspect of the event: three meals, means three opportunities to eat pancakes.

Breakfast - Banana pancakes with banana caramel sauce

Lunch - Herb crepes filled with smoked salmon and creme fraiche with capers and cornichon.

Dinner - Layers of pancakes dowsed in maple syrup and stacked with black pudding, bacon, sausage and steak. Topped with a fried egg.

I admit I did go American twice but the toppings were significantly different to justify it and make for a very tasty day. Roll on 2018...

Monday, 30 January 2017

Strawberry gateaux

As part of my annual January task of "eating the freezer", I am often confronted by items that are quite difficult to find a discrete use for. One such item was some strawberry puree which I made with the remains of my glut of strawberries after my first adventure to a PYO last summer.

I was jammed out and had been stuffing myself for days with the beautiful berries and couldn't face any more. I pureed the remaining half pound and popped it in the freezer where it had quietly sat.

I wasn't quite sure what to do with the puree but once the idea of a strawberry cake stuck me, there was no going back. There are many American recipes available but the vast majority seem to include "jell-o" to get the requisite taste and colour. I was determined that jelly should play no part in my cake.

I was pretty pleased with the result. The cake itself clearly tasted of strawberry although it was more subtle. The jam added "smash-you-in-the-face" strawberry hit. There were clearly strawberries in there. The cake was rich and buttery with a slightly close  texture but it was still light. It wasn't too sweet (which I had feared) and the tang of the cream cheese in the icing was welcome.

The odd thing was the crazy grey-ish colour! I put this down to it being all natural ingredients - no colourings used (although I was tempted!). I'm aware it's a bit dull from the outside, I'd decorate with fresh strawberries, if they were in season.

I wonder if I used an oil-based cake rather than butter the flavour, and colour, might be more pronounced. Perhaps I might even make a foray into the world of chiffon cakes. I'll need a lot more strawberries though...

Recipe for Strawberry Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing (adapted from Happy Foodie recipe)

225g butter
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs
210g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
25g cornflour
225g strawberry puree
1tsp vanilla extract
Strawberry jam for the filling
For the icing:
4oz butter
4oz cream cheese
4oz white chocolate
100ml double cream
2oz icing sugar

1. Cream the butter and sugar together until white and fluffy.
2. Add the eggs one at a time and beat in. Sifting in a tbsp of flour with each egg will stop the mix splitting.
3. Beat in the strawberry puree and vanilla until combined.
4. Sift in the cornflour, flour and baking powder.
5. Divide the mix between two 8" lined cake tins and bake at 180°C for 25mins, or until done.
6. While the cake is baking, make the icing.
7. Melt the cream and chocolate together in a bain marie. Leave to cool.
8. Beat the butter until soft and pale. Gradually add in the  sugar. Beat in the cooled chocolate and cream mi.
9. Beat thoroughly and refrigerate to cool and thicken.
10. Once the cake and icing are cooled, it is time to construct.
11. Spread a generous layer of jam over one of the cakes. Followed by about a generous helping of the icing (no more than a third) and sandwich the cakes together.
12. Spread a thin layer of icing around the top and sides of the cake and refrigerate. 
13. Once the base layer of icing has set, slather on the remaining icing. 

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Lime and pistachio cake

This was a cake I made for a leaving do at work last Autumn, but I've been asked for the recipe so it's a very belated write-up.

Sorry about the picture, I blame taking it at work...

I was asked for a vegetable cake and carrot was just to obvious. Once my thoughts turned to courgette, I then got thinking about how to decorate. And green was the only way to go, hence the lime and pistachio. I wanted to try and make the cakes actually green but pistachio paste is very hard to get hold of in SE London! Nonetheless, it went down a treat. A lovely moist cake, with a rich cream cheese icing cut with lime and the occasional crunch from a sweet pistachio.

Lime and pistachio cake

250g butter
200g caster sugar
3 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
Juice and zest of 2 limes
200g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1/4tsp salt
300g courgette (skin on), grated and left to drain in a sieve
75g pistachio + 25g chopped pistachio to decorate
Lime curd filling:
3oz caster sugar
1 eggs, well beaten
Grated zest and juice of 2 limes
2oz butter
Lime cream cheese icing:
50g butter
200g cream cheese
85g icing sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lime

1. Grease and line two 8" cake tins. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar.
3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until combined. Add some of the flour after each egg to prevent the mixture splitting.
4. Beat in the vanilla extract, lime zest and juice.
5. Sift in the remaining flour, baking powder and salt and fold until combined.
6. Fold in the grated courgette and pistachios.
7. Divide the cake mixture between two 8" greased and lined cake tins.
8. Bake at 180°C for 25 minutes until the sponge is cooked (the top will spring back and the sides will have come away from the sides of the tin).
9. Whilst the cakes are baking and cooling make the lime curd. Place the ingredients in a heat proof bowl and suspend over a saucepan containing hot water. Cook until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 20 minutes.
10. To make the icing beat the butter until soft.
11. Gradually beat in the cream cheese until completely combined.
12. Beat in the lime juice and zest and sugar. (Add sugar to taste).
13. To construct the cake, spread lime curd over the top of one of the cakes.
14. Invert the top cake and spread half the cream cheese icing over the bottom of the cake. Turn this cake the right way up and sandwich the two cakes together.
15. Spread the remaining icing over the top of the cake.
16. Decorate with chopped pistachios and lime zest.
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