17 oct. 2014

A Lebanese Cake

And now for something completely different!
I love Lebanese food; I knew little about it till we lived in France and made friends with a Lebanese couple. I love their use of spices, sumac, z'atar, dried mint, 7 spices etc, and I love falafel, houmous [sp?] and tabbouleh.
 I've long had a love-hate relationship with tahina or tahini, sesame seed paste, but was given this recipe for using it in a cake by our Lebanese friend, and I really liked the result. You could use peanut butter instead, and I think it would work really well, but the tahini makes a really rich, flavoursome cake.

Preheat oven 180C/gas 4.
Grease a 24cm cake tin well and sprinkle with 3 tbspn sesame seeds.

Beat 250ml tahini in a large bowl with 165g caster sugar, 40g light brown sugar and grated zest of 2 oranges till mixture is thick and creamy. Add the juice from the 2 oranges and 200g thick plain yoghurt and mix well.
Fold in 375g sr flour, 1/2 tspn salt, 1 tspn mixed spice, 100g chopped pistachio nuts, 3 tbspn sesame seeds and 6 chopped stoned dates. Mix throughly till everything is well combined.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 45 mins till golden and firm.
Turn onto a wire rack to cool.


I decorated it with some more orange zest. It's a rich cake with a dense texture - a great accompaniment to a cuppa or to have as a pudding with some creme fraiche, cream or ice cream.
It's difficult to describe the flavour of tahini - I think it's an interesting flavour, a bit nutty, slightly bitter and it's creamy.
If you want to know how it's made, have a look  here .
It's certainly a different flavour to my usual cakes, but it's one to have occasionally, when you feel the need for something different.


10 oct. 2014

Tropical Chocolate Cake

I seem to be making a lot of chocolate cakes lately, but this one is a bit different in that it has tropical flavours and ingredients.
 I found the recipe in a booklet I picked up at a food fair, and it's a cake I've been meaning to try. I found a bottle of rum in the back of the cupboard, and as well as my using it for Flognarde, a recipe you can find on  Phil's blog 'As Strong As Soup' , I'm going to use some in this cake [opt].
The tropical part comes from the creamed coconut, pineapple and dessicated coconut.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4 and grease and line a 20cm springform tin.

For the cake:

Cream together 100g soft butter and 200g caster sugar till pale and fluffy.
Stir in 60g melted chocolate and 2 egg yolks. Sift together 175g sr flour and 1 tspn mixed spice, then fold these into the batter with 4 tbspn creamed coconut, 3 tbspn milk and 1 tbspn rum [or you could use pineapple juice].
Beat the egg whites till stiff then gently fold them into the batter. Add 1 tbspn dessicated coconut and mix together.
Spoon into your tin and bake for about 45 mins till golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

For the topping:

Whip 150ml double cream and pipe onto the cake, anyway you fancy. Decorate the cream with some pineapple chunks from a 200g tin [drained].

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The flavour of the coconut comes through well, but is not overpowering. Nice soft texture and a hint of rum. Topping finished off the cake nicely, and the pineapple chunks gave it another texture. An unusual cake, and one I'll make again.



4 oct. 2014

Chocolate Coffee Meringue Cake



The filling and icing on this cake is delicious - something special. It's a French recipe for a cake we made on a cookery course whilst I was living there. I needed a special cake for my daughter's birthday, and she loves coffee and chocolate so this fitted the bill as it's a chocolate cake with coffee filling and icing.
It takes a bit of time to make as there are several stages, but I think it's worth the effort.

For the cake: you need 125g of dark chocolate, 150g butter,125g caster sugar, 4 eggs, 75g flour and 1 tspn baking powder and 75g ground almonds.

For the icing and filling you need 150g butter, 125g icing sugar, 2 egg whites, 1 tspn instant coffee and 1 tbspn warm water.

Preheat oven 150C/gas 2 or 3  - it's baked in quite a cool oven.
Grease and base line a 20cm springform tin.

Cake:
Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks and caster sugar till white and fluffy. Add the chocolate mixture, flour and baking powder and ground almonds and mix well. Whisk the 4 egg whites into stiff peaks and fold carefully into the batter.
Bake for an hour then cool on a wire rack.

Filling and icing:
Mix the coffee powder and warm water together then add 25g of the butter and mix together.
Put the egg whites in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk them with the icing sugar to get a firm meringue. Take pan off the heat and add the coffee mixture and gently mix together.Cream the rest of the butter [125g] then add, a little a time, to the meringue mixture. Put the bowl in the fridge for at least an hour to chill.

When the cake's cool and the meringue chilled, cut the cake into 3 rounds. Put some meringue filling on each round and assemble cake. Cover the outside of cake with the rest of the meringue mixture and put in fridge for several hours before serving.




It's a good idea to make the cake the day before you need it, and you could decorate the top with grated chocolate or chocolate curls etc or flaked almonds, but I decided to leave it plain. I bought a couple of large candles which made up her age, and lit these separately [well a lady doesn't give her age away online does she?].

The cake is nice and moist and has a great chocolate flavour.It has a soft texture which goes well with the creamy filling. The icing is very rich and the coffee gives a quite subtle flavour. You could use more coffee powder to get a more definite flavour.
Take it out of the fridge a while before you need it, so it's not too cold to eat!

Most French cake recipes I've tried just say that the cake tin you need is a 'moule à manqué', but doesn't say a size. I'm not sure if this cake tin is maybe just one size? I brought one back and it's 25cm, but not very deep. I used a deep 20cm springform tin to give the cake 3 good layers.


27 sept. 2014

Danish Cake



This is my offering to the GBBO, as it's more complicated than I usually make! I'd offered to make a cake for a birthday we'd been invited to, and as my daughter was here to help me, decided to try something a bit more ambitious. It's not the official birthday cake, but just another contribution to the tea.

The recipe comes from a leaflet I picked up many years ago in a supermarket, but it doesn't say much about the origins of the cake, just that it's from Denmark. It's unusual in that it has chopped pears in it, and uses gelatine to stiffen the cream mixture for the filling. It's a 'bit of an effort' cake to make too, so one for an occasion.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Grease and line a 20cm springform tin.

Whisk 4 egg yolks with the grated zest and juice of 1 lemon and 125g of icing sugar till pale and creamy. Whisk the 4 egg whites till stiff peaks.
 Sieve 75g plain flour, 25g cornflour and 1/2 tspn baking powder together then fold into the batter with the egg whites a little at a time.
Spoon into the tin and bake for 35-40 mins. Leave in the tin for 5 mins then put on a wire rack.

 Filling:
Soften 2 sheets of gelatine in 30ml cold water. Lightly whip two thirds of a pot of 500ml double cream then beat in the gelatine and 2 tbspn caster sugar. Fold in contents of a large can of pears, chopped and drained, and 75g grated dark chocolate [ keeping a little back to put on the top of the cake]. Leave filling to set.

When it's cold, cut the cake into three layers. Spread each layer with the cream mixture filling and assemble the cake.
Whip the other third of the double cream, and pipe rosettes around the edge of the top. Finish with a little of the grated chocolate.


I was pleased with the finished cake and it tasted good too. The filling wasn't too sweet and had a bit of texture from the chocolate. The sponge cake was light and had a slight lemony flavour. I liked the pieces of pear as they were soft, but still kept some texture. An unusual cake, but good for an occasion, and the plate is one of a set I inherited from Mum.


21 sept. 2014

Mirlitons

Looking through my French cookery books for something different to bake, I came across a recipe for 'Mirlitons'.
When I googled them to find out more, they seemed to be a strange looking green vegetable from the USA, also called chayote. What happened to the cakes?



I continued googling and found out that the little Mirliton Tartlets come from around Rouen in Normandy. There were quite a few recipes for them, but they all seemed to agree that they must have an almond and egg filling with vanilla extract and orange flower water; some had cream added, so I decided to add some to give them extra flavour. Apparently it's quite an old recipe, being found in a 18th century cookery book.

They sound very similar to the Welsh cheese cakes my Mum used to make - a pastry shell, a layer of jam then a sponge topping, but there's no almonds in Mum's recipe.

They're very easy to make, as you use a ready made sheet of puff pastry.

This recipe makes about 12 tartlets.

 Preheat oven 180C/gas 4 and grease a 12 hole tartlet tin.

Roll out a sheet of puff pastry [about 240g] and cut out 12 tartlets; use these to line your tin.

Put a good tspn of jam in each tartlet - I used some raspberry jam. Then make the filling by beating together 100g ground almonds, 100g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tspn vanilla extract, and 2 tspn orange flower water. Stir in about 5 tbspn whipped double cream and mix well. Spoon this mixture into your tartlet shells, and if you want, you can put a sprinkling of flaked almonds on the tops, but I chose not to do this.
Bake for about 20 mins till they're golden brown and turn out onto a wire rack. You can eat them hot or cold. Dust with icing sugar.




I'm not really sure if I like the orange flower water flavour, which is  very distinct. I liked the contrast between the fruity jam, the almond cake mixture and the pastry base. The cream made the texture quite soft. An interesting little tartlet!



17 sept. 2014

Apricot Slices

I wanted to make something quick and easy for my grandsons' visit this afternoon. This slice must come under the 'easy to make and good for you' banner, as it has oats, muesli, honey, apricots, nuts ...  and surprisingly, all three boys will eat it!. I guess it's a posh flapjack!
It's one of my friend Ann's family recipes, and we love it.

30g oats
80g dried apricots
60g muesli
40g dessicated coconut
30g almonds chopped into pieces
70g plain flour
70g demerara sugar
2 tbspn honey
2 medium eggs
140g butter

Grease a deep 20cm square cake tin.
Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Cut the apricots into smallish pieces.
In a bowl beat 140g of the softened butter with the sugar and honey. Add the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour, oats, muesli, almonds, apricot pieces and the coconut.

Mix it all together and spoon into the tin; smooth the surface and cook for 30 mins. Leave it to go cold in the tin then cut into squares. It's very filling, so I cut it into small squares.

You can keep the slices for about 4 days in a airtight container.



Lovely flavours from the mix of ingredients and a chunky texture. I used some local honey and you could taste it's flowery flavour. You could vary the dried fruit and honey for a different flavour.

10 sept. 2014

Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

I wanted to make some kind of chocolate cake, and having looked through cookery books and folders I found this recipe which came from one of my neighbours in France. Four of us, all neighbours, took it in turn to host afternoon tea - the French ladies thought it was a great idea. This was one of Reneé's offerings.
I love anything made with nuts, especially hazelnuts, and it's another easy cake to make. I decided to make it in a bundt tin.

Grease a bundt mould or cake tin and preheat oven 180C/gas4

In a bowl over simmering water, melt 150g butter and 150g dark chocolate. Take bowl off and add 4 egg yolks, 175g caster sugar, 80g ground hazelnuts, 100g plain flour, 50g dark chocolate chopped up and a pinch of salt.
Beat the 4 egg whites till stiff and fold into the mixture.
Spoon into the tin and bake for 50mins. Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.

For the icing:
Chop 100g dark chocolate and melt it over water with 50g of butter. Pour it over the warm cake and leave to set.









One trick I learnt was to put the chocolate bar in a poly bag and tap it with a rolling pin to break it up. I usually end up with bits of chocolate everywhere!

The cake has a great chocolate flavour, and you can really taste the hazelnuts. The chunks of chocolate had just about kept their texture, but then melted in your mouth. I like the easy way you decorate it - no faffing with glacé icing or buttercream - just pour the chocolate over.