Monday, 31 August 2015

Lemon Drizzle Cake

A solitary photo of this house's most popular cake
(Lacking top icing in this shot!)
Here you go Granny Vicki!

This lemon drizzle cake is Isaac and his best friend's favourite cake.  Fortunately it is also quick and easy.  All care, no responsibility on this recipe.  I have read it a few times and expanded on the method (mine is literally a list of ingredients... and an oven temperature)

Cake Ingredients
145 grams unbleached flour
55 grams ground almonds
1 + 3/4 teaspoons of baking powder
pinch of salt
zest of one lemon
120 grams natural unsweetened full fat yoghurt (I always use greek set)
200 grams caster/super fine sugar
150 grams eggs (usually 3)
95 grams vegetable oil

30 grams icing/powdered sugar
60 grams lemon juice (freshly squeezed usually just the one lemon from above)

Icing Glaze
110 grams icing/powdered sugar
45 grams lemon juice (freshly squeezed)

Bonus optional points - Lemon Curd Mascarpone Filling

250 grams mascarpone cheese
70 grams of lemon curd

Line the base of a 9 inch cake tin with parchment/baking paper and preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, almonds, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.

In another bowl (or stand mixer if you are feeling energetic enough to get your stand mixer out, but not energetic enough to whisk by hand) mix together the yoghurt, sugar, eggs and vegetable oil until it comes together in a homogenous mix.  Basically mix until the oil is no longer sitting on the surface.

Fold the flour mix into the wet ingredients until it is blended (about 30 seconds with a stand mixer, about two minutes by hand) - it won't be totally smooth, but nor should you have any big lumps or dry bits.

Bake in a 9 inch cake pan for 15 minutes, turn the pan and then bake for a further 10 - 15 minutes.  It will be baked when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry.

Allow to stand in the tin for 10 minutes, and make the syrup.

Bring the lemon juice and the icing sugar to the boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Remove from the heat.

Remove the cake from the tin to a cake rack.  Poke the top and the bottom with the toothpick, this will allow the syrup to penetrate more deeply in the cake.  Divide the syrup in half and brush half on the bottom of the cake and half on the top of the cake.  It pays to do the bottom first and then flip the cake to do the top.  Once the syrup is applied the surface becomes a sticky and sometimes adheres to the cake rack.

Make the icing glaze.  Sift the icing sugar into a bowl.  Make a well in the centre and add the lemon juice.  Mix until you have a smooth consistency.

Finally ice the top of the cake.  Pour onto the cake - I usually just tip and angle the cake to let gravity complete the job.

If you have made two cakes or you want to serve the cake with more calories, then you can fill it with the Lemon Mascarpone filling, or just serve the cream on the side.  To make the filling, fold the lemon curd into the mascarpone cheese - it is easier to do this if the mascarpone isn't straight from the fridge - 30 minutes is usually enough.  Definitely do not use the stand mixer to mix this - I found to my peril that beating mascarpone cheese will end in tears.   Taste the mix and add more depending on your lemon curd and personal taste.

And can you please text me with your address so I can send Isaac around to yours...

Flaky Cream Cheese Scones

So, that was quite a while between posts.  I am not going to do my usual post catch up where I post an entry for all the weeks I missed all on one day.  Probably because my baking hasn't been entirely aligned with the Alpha Bakers.  Who knew summer would be full of loads more things than baking to someone other than Marie's schedule.

I think I am going to best remember July and August 2015 as the summer of Lemon Drizzle.  Isaac has a serious cake crush on Lemon Drizzle, it was his birthday cake way back in July, it was our annual glamping cake and then I think I have made it every second week since.  It also prompted the new purchase of the microplane lemon zester and relegation to the bottom of the drawer for the old one.

I think I am now back to scheduled programming.  There was no request for Lemon Drizzle this weekend which cleared the way for the Flaky Cream Cheese Scones.  I have never been brilliant at scones.  Usually pretty simple - flour, fat, milk, baking powder, a bit of salt and then a light touch.  I think it was the last ingredient that always failed me.  And also, you need to know your dough.

This is when I wish that my parents hadn't moved thousands of miles from my Grandmother.  Knowing exactly when the dough is right means that you have to make a lot of scones.  And the best way to make a lot of scones is to live on a farm and have a big family and random workers to feed.  Scones were always on the "menu" for soup lunches, post dinner dessert and smoko for the shearing crews and other farm workers.  I am not sure my grandmother was ever in pursuit of the best scone: the scone was the standby staple to feed a peckish crowd, just a vehicle for slabs of butter and jam, cream only if you were being a bit posh.  Cream was for cake, not for scones.  I am not sure if that is a New Zealand thing, or just a thing about living on a farm miles from the nearest store.  

I think my grandmother would have tutted at Rose's recipe.  Butter, flour, salt, baking powder - yes, no question.  Cream cheese, cream whipped to soft peaks - tut tut tut.  Dried cranberries or blueberries - tut tut tut tut tut!  Anyway, I didn't quite have the exact ingredients this afternoon as I readied these for tea and scone with a friend.  So I will lead you through the slight variations.

The three headed monster terrorising China Town

Charles Petillon's Heartbeat at Covent Garden - maybe more amazing whilst not trailing the three headed monster...
The three headed monster and I were in Covent Garden yesterday checking out this installation by Charles Petillon  and buying school shoes for the new school year when we happened upon a street giveaway of Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese.  I think that was the funniest thing I have seen in quite a while.  People walking along eating tubs of whipped cream cheese with a plastic spoon.  There were some very weird expressions as people realised it was a salty savoury cheese, rather than some a new Phily Ice Cream.  I think the lack of rubbish bins in London probably contributed to the number of people forced to eat the entire tub.  I just shoved my three tubs in my handbag and it was this whipped, gelatin stabilised cream cheese which ended up in my scone.  The best bit being the tub provided the perfect amount.

The other thing I didn't have was the cream.  Well, not real cream.  In the UK they have this stuff called Elmlea.  It is akin to margarine masquerading as butter.  This is fake cream, supposedly healthier for you but with so many ingredients and a shelf life to last into the next century you actually question whether the lower saturated fats are *actually* offset by the extended list of all the other rubbish.  Needless to say, I am not a fan.  The reason I end up with this pretender is because I sent my Mum, visiting here from New Zealand to buy cream.  In New Zealand there is no such thing as single cream or double cream, so I duly told Mum to buy double cream.  This counterfeit cream - dairy cream alternative sits in the cream section and it is the only one with bright packaging.  My mother, the bower bird/barracuda/magpie, spotted the word Double and ticked it off her list.  It has sat in quiet contemplation in my fridge ever since.  Given the cream wasn't going to be the main feature of these scones, I set it free.  The strangest thing is that it didn't really whip to soft peaks... until *nature* took its course after it sat on the bench for about 15 minutes at room temperature and firmed up some more...

If you are familiar with making scones, then you will be well acquainted with the method...

Cut the cream cheese into the dry ingredients with knives and then rub in the butter so it looks flaky.  Then the cranberries/blueberries are stirred in, followed by the cream whipped to soft peaks.  This then makes the scone dough.  Mine was pretty wet and sticky so I added in a bit more flour (sorry Rose!)  I gave myself permission to do this given the substitution of the wetter cream cheese and the fake cream...

Then Rose has you briefly knead the dough and then press it into a 9 inch cake tin.  Which is pretty clever really.  The thing that also struggle with when it comes to scones is how high they should be.  The 9 inch tin means that Rose keeps control of the height - clever!  Not that I am calling Rose a control freak.  Not at all.

Then into a hot oven to bake for about 20 minutes.  I went to the full 20 minutes, when I probably should have only baked to about 17 minutes.  Mine are looking a little like they spent a bit too long in the heat...

I suspect Rose would have liked them like this because they had a little crunch to them.  I think I prefer them with less crunch.  Speaking of crunch, there is a section following on from this recipe about making scone tops which Rose loves because they have more crunch...I don't get that.  For me the scone is about the pillowy softness, not the crunch.  Also, Rose, don't worry about the crunchy toppers - just bake them for 3 minutes too long!!

My friend arrived and we lamented our respective summer weight gains as we ate our way through three scones between the two of us.  In a token effort to calorie economising, we just split them  horizontally in half and topped with butter and strawberry jam and held back the cream (see how much better Elmlea is for you - it makes you not want cream!).  The final wash up of this long and rambling post is that the scones get a tick of approval.  I am not a fan of the dried cranberries mixed through - for both she and me, these would have been better to be a plumper dried fruit, like a raisin or a date or even a sultana.

Gym membership starts tomorrow.  Yes, really.  Attendance and participation at said gym to follow soon after.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The Red Velvet Rose (or whatever Bundt pan you have to hand)

A single token photo...

As I was tipping an entire bottle of red food colouring into this cake, I did wonder if this was one of those recipes born out of desperation.  One of those "I don't have enough cocoa powder but everyone wants chocolate cake..." improvisations.  It turns out that red velvet cake was the result of a chemical reaction between ingredients in dodgy chocolate, cocoa powder and baking soda.  Up until now, I thought that if I searched long enough I could find at least one single article on the internet to corroborate any hair brained thought I might have.   Apparently the internet is not aligned to my hair brained thoughts...

This cake nearly didn't get made.  This week has seen too many baked products exit the oven.  On Friday night I made the French Orange Cream Tart.  On Sunday I made the French Orange Cream Tart again.  The little boys turn four tomorrow, so I have made two cakes for their birthday.  Were it not for the fact that the Red Velvet eats into the vast amount of egg white generated by two French Orange Cream Tarts, it would still be languishing in the pile of unbaked guilt.   So on Monday night, after the blogging deadline, fuelled by obligation and surplus egg white, I pulled this cake together whilst making dinner.

This is absolutely quick and easy.  The scariest thing is extracting it from the bundt tin.  I didn't take any photos of the baking process, there wasn't really the time to even find the camera, let alone take photos.  Although don't let the quick and easy classification lull you into thinking there won't be a pile of dishes awaiting you once it makes its way into the oven.  My mother and Chris will tell you that whilst the food that churns out of my kitchen is okay, it probably isn't worth all the dishes...  Even with a dishwasher.  That either says a lot about the quality of my cooking or the aversion to being my sous chef.

Happy to say that even if you are Pam free, the heritage bundt will release the goods if greased with butter and flour the old fashioned way.

I took this cake to work along with the White Chocolate Ganache as promoted by the Evil Cake Lady.  There were plenty of oohs and aahs about how pretty the cake was.  Amazement that I was able to carve it into such an amazing shape...

I went for the higher proportion of cocoa powder so the cake was more brown/red than red/brown.  For me this cake is neither here nor there.  Not chocolate, not vanilla.  The crumb and texture are amazing though, so I think I will try this recipe again without the cocoa and without the red colouring to see what kind of white cake we end up with...

There weren't loads of comments at work.  Clearly I am bringing too much cake into the office.  Chris really liked the sliver of cake that made it home.  But see early comment about bringing too much cake into the office.  The man is cake starved, so I think part of his enjoyment of the cake was that he actually got cake.  That is not a euphemism.  At least I don't think it is a euphemism.  Time to end this post.

I didn't make the Chocolate Oblivion, so the next thing up is the ice cream meringue sandwiches.  Definitely not taking those into the office.


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

French Orange Cream Tart

I didn't really have any expectations for this tart.  I kind of dragged myself into the kitchen to make it on Sunday afternoon out of a sense of obligation to the Alpha Bakers.  So you don't need to be in a great frame of mind to produce great baking, such is the glory of a Rose recipe.  Truly, if for no other reason than to secure this recipe, you should definitely immediately buy the Baking Bible.

The pastry is a Pate Sucree - a sweet cookie pastry.  The difference from the average run of the mill pate sucree is the turbinado sugar which gives it a great crunch in the finished product.

The filling is the perfect balance of orange and lemon and given depth from the cream and egg yolks.   I didn't opt for the caramalised sugar crust.  Even though I have carted a blow torch from country to country for the past 10 years, I am yet to find the right gas to fill it.  I am not even sure what to ask for.

The last forkful of this tart was a bit reading the last chapter of a great book.  You don't want it to end, but you want to enjoy every last bit of it.  Then the sense of bereavement that you will never eat/read anything as good ever again...  So whilst you can never eat or read it again with that first sense of wonder, then subsequent times will hopefully bring something new.   I think I am going to have a long and meaningful relationship with this recipe.

The photos are lost in that spinning coloured ball between computer and internet and once I work that out I will load them up.

EDITED to add - since this original version, I have made this tart twice more.  Do you know how much egg white I have in my freezer?  A lot.  The last time I made this I was a *little* distracted and unsurprisingly, made a few errors... happy errors as it turned out.  I cooked my pastry till quite dark, but not burned - that was the best pastry ever!  Second, I forgot to add in the reduced orange juice, until about 10 minutes into the baking.  Improvising as ever, I reduced it by about a third again until it was quite dark and viscous, and then swirled this in to the not yet set custard filling.  Sweet happy disaster, it was incredible.  It was amazing.  I can't even describe how good it was - definitely better than the original.  Hoping I can replicate those errors again.  I see my future will be a freezer full of egg whites!

Double Chocolate Oriolos

For the longest time I thought these were Rose's take on an Oreo.   Wrong.  Instead these are a ground walnut and cocoa cookie and totally amazing and so much better than an Oreo.

The toasted and skinned walnuts are ground with the dry ingredients.  This is another food processor cookie recipe which makes these pretty quick and easy to make.

The finished mix is then left to chill for 30 minutes before rolling into balls.  The balls are then flattened with much zeal with a sugar coated glass by the helpers.   The end result, despite much zeal and probably too much processing, is a fantastic cookie.  The boys all loved these.

Thumbs up from Patrick

Isaac thinks they are pretty good, but yet to displace Lemon Drizzle Cake as his favourite sweet.

These will definitely be on the bake again list.  Even with the painful deskinning of the toasted walnuts...

Grateful I made a double batch...

Blu Rhu Pie

Not very many photos of the Blue Rhu Pie, but plenty of learnings:

  1. Blueberry and Rhubarb in a pie is an amazing combination
  2. Rose's Cream Cheese Pastry is amazing which means you will appear amazing to all who consume it
  3. Lattice top pies is better meditation that rolling and assembling cookies, so not only will you appear amazing you will also be chilled out
  4. Use the Bottom Heat setting in the Neff oven to get a brown crisp bottom (otherwise the amazing zen like appearance from 2 and 3 will be completely offset by you pallid soggy bottom).

The first step is to mix cornflour and the rhubarb, blueberries and a bit of sugar and let it macerate for a while.  In the recipe, not that long, in real life, quite a long time.  This is then cooked until it thickens just so...

See previous blog posts on how to make the pastry - it is very very easy, assuming you have a food processor.  Even doing the lattice top is easy enough if you follow Rose's pictures in the book.  And from someone who barely knows left from right, it is easy.

I don't own a baking stone and I not sure I am ready to add it to my kitchen.  I have this awfully strong premonition of it dropping on my toes, and that ends happily for neither toes nor stone.  Anyway, the initial eating of the pie resulted in a pallid and uncooked base.  So, I just turned the oven to bottom heat at 180 degrees celsius and left in the oven for another 25 minutes.  The end result was a perfectly baked pie.  I have always been highly dubious of putting something back in the oven for further baking - but no more.  I am a complete convert.

The texture and flavour combination was amazing, especially after it was cooked properly!

Definitely on the quick and easy and impressive list.  Don't make that noise - remember, pastry is easy to pull together when you have Rose showing you how...

Lemon Jammies

I am yet to find making cookies the kind of mediation that other bakers enjoy.  To me, there are too many steps to arrive at the end result, particularly when you end up sandwiching them together.  I much prefer these type of cookies when they are produced by someone other than me. 

Rose does somewhat lessen the load by giving an option to make the dough in the food processor.  This recipe calls for double digit grams of lemon zest.  My scales resolutely refuse to weigh zest of any citrus.  For the record, the zest of two lemons fails to even register at a gram on my scales.  So, I didn't put in the double digit amount, according to my scales, I put in no weight of lemon zest.  In actual fact, two lemons were zested in and it created a fantastic lemon biscuit.  Truth be told, these were the preferred biscuit.

This dough went through a number of steps, none of which I can remember - it really is time you bough Rose's book, if you haven't already.

 This time I did refrigerate the dough.  I have baked enough of Rose's cookie recipes to now know when to chill out and when to plough on.  This is a dough to be chilled if you want to hold the shape and get it lifted off the bench onto the baking tray.

I did cheat with the filling.  This lemon curd is almost indistinguishable from home made.  The wee boys dislike both versions, so I am happier with them turning their noses up to the bought one rather than the one I slaved over.

The end result was rather pretty but these lasted a long time.  Had I not filled them with evil lemon curd, I think they would have disappeared alot sooner.  The secret to a full biscuit tin are slowly being uncovered!

So whilst Tony may be on his 18th order of these cookies, they won't be reappearing any time soon.  I do wonder if this biscuit dough could be fashioned as the base to a lemon curd tart?