Gastronomically Terrific

February 1, 2016

Tiramisu layer cake

Filed under: Cake, party, pudding, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 2:34 pm

To end my dinner party, I decided to make tiramisu for dessert. I’ve made tiramisu before a number of times, but I had never tried the one in Nigella’s Christmas cookbook. The majority of recipes from this book seem to come out well, and I knew that the likelihood of it being fairly alcoholic was relatively high.

Thankfully, nothing disappointed. The recipe was simple, there was plenty of alcohol, and it made for a great dessert.

I had bought a loaf cake to make this tiramisu with, but I was a little worried it was more coffee than chocolate flavoured, and I knew that without chocolate cake the coffee flavour was likely to be overwhelming. Luckily, earlier that week I had ended up making chocolate sponge traybake with my son, having failed to make sure I had the right ingredients to make apple crumble in the house (or rather, having had the ingredients but then somebody eating all the apples). So I used that in place of the shop-bought loaf I had.

Now, Nigella’s recipe states quite clearly that homemade sponge cake doesn’t tend to soak up the alcohol as well as shop-bought loaf cake. Not so my cake, which soaked up a lot of Kahlua… I had to use three times as much as suggested (I’m not sure what this says about my baking, but it meant extra booze, so I guess it’s a good thing). I was also using Kahlua rather than the suggested Tia Maria; simply because that’s what we had in the house. It seemed to work fine!

Making tiramisu is actually pretty easy – it’s mostly about creating layers. Other than beating together eggs, caster sugar, mascarpone, double cream and the Kahlua, all you need to do is layer up the cake.

Firstly, you soak the sponge in Kahlua. Then you add this to the bottom of a tin before adding a layer of the cream mixture. You basically keep going with soaked sponge and cream layers until you’re done, ensuring you end with a cream layer. It’s a good idea to use a spring-form tin because when you’re done the cream hasn’t set yet – it needs to go in the fridge for at least 12 hours for this to happen. Having a spring-form tin means the cream stays in one place – but once it has set, you can remove the sides and it looks pretty good around the edges. And tastes, hopefully, lovely and boozy!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pg. 93-94

 

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January 30, 2016

Mini cupcakes

Mini cupcakes CUFor a while now, I have been wanting to make the cocktail-inspired mini cupcakes that appear in my Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days recipe book. They look incredibly appealing, and I really wanted to give them a try. New Years Eve and a dinner party in mid January seemed like two really good excuses to try out 3 of the 4 recipes that appear in the book. For New Years Eve, I made the brandy chocolate mini cupcakes. For my January dinner party, I went with the Strawberry Daiquiri mini cupcakes and the Mojito mini cupcakes.

The brandy chocolate mini cupcakes turned out fairly well. The cupcake mixture was a chocolate, orange and brandy one, and the frosting was a chocolate, orange and brandy flavour too. To give the cupcakes a festive feel, I covered them in edible gold glitter. They looked stunning, and tasted pretty good. The only problem was with the amounts. The recipe claimed it made 24-30 cupcakes – I ended up with 48, which was far too many. And I still only needed two thirds of the frosting to ice all 48 cakes.

The strawberry daiquiri and mojito mini cupcakes didn’t go so well, however. Whilst the strawberry daiquiri cakes tasted OK, the frosting was really grainy and just didn’t look very impressive. Also, the bottom of the cakes are just strawberries soaked in white rum. So whilst they taste OK, they aren’t the easiest thing to eat. The mojito mini cupcakes were even worse. They had plenty of white rum in them, but you couldn’t taste any of it. They just tasted like boring tiny lime cakes. They also looked pretty bad, as the frosting for these was just as grainy as that for the strawberry daiquiri mini cupcakes. Whilst some of this may have been down to the way I baked the cakes, I’m entirely unconvinced that the recipes are particularly good ones. Whilst I was also looking after an ill baby the day I made these, she did spend a lot of time asleep, so I had plenty of time to myself to concentrate on making these… it’s unlikely to be an experiment I repeat any time soon!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days Recipes to make every day special, by Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers, pg. 198

January 29, 2016

S’moreanne cupcakes

Filed under: Cake, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 1:49 pm

 

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A slightly more successful attempt at making sugar syrup

After the complete failure of my butterscotch marshmallow bars, I (perhaps foolishly) decided to try out another recipe from the same recipe book. This time, I wanted to make S’moreanne cupcakes. Having read through the recipe, I knew they were going to be something of a challenge.

There are three different elements to these cakes. Firstly, you need to make a chocolate sponge. That turned out fine, and was no more complicated than making a standard sponge cake. Secondly, you add chocolate shavings and biscuit crumbs to the top of the sponge batter. Again, not particularly hard to do.

Thirdly, you make the sugar syrup. Whilst this is boiling, you whisk together egg whites. You then add the sugar syrup to the egg whites and whisk it all together to make a shiny meringue. This meringue is then added to the top of the baked cupcakes. The cakes are then lightly browned with a cook’s blowtorch, before being topped with squares of chocolate and some biscuit crumbs. Now, I admit that I ended up using the blowtorch after adding the chocolate squares, giving the cakes a little more of a burnt look than intended. But overall, I was really pleased with how these cakes turned out. Yes, they are incredibly rich. But they looked good, and tasted lovely – and I didn’t mess up the sugar syrup this time!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days Recipes to make every day special, by Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers, pg. 182-3

January 28, 2016

Butterscotch Marshmallow Bars

Filed under: biscuits, Cake, Sweets — Tags: , , , — lawsonanna @ 1:39 pm

I don’t have a photo of this bake. Trust me, you don’t mind. It looked rubbish. I had seen this in one of my cookbooks and thought it looked really tempting.  It also helpfully used up the left-over double cream I had lying around in the fridge.

These bars start with you making a dough to put on the bottom of a baking tray, before making a butterscotch sauce which you pour over the dough and marshmallows, and them leave the whole thing to set in the fridge.

Somehow, I managed to mess up every stage of this recipe. It didn’t feel right to have a dough on the base anyway, and I really messed up making the butterscotch sauce (I know I over-boiled it). I know the final result was bad, because nobody was willing to eat it – not even my dad. And he eats anything. Whilst the awful end result was partly my fault, I have a suspicion it was also partly the recipes fault – this isn’t something I’m inspired to try again!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days Recipes to Make Every Day Special, by Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers, pg. 182-3

January 27, 2016

Ladybird cupcakes

Filed under: Cake, child-friendly, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — lawsonanna @ 1:31 pm

I hadn’t really intended to do any baking, but I was at home with my kids and my son was asking if we could bake something. So after having a hunt through one of my recipe books, I found a couple of things I had the ingredients for. I asked my son which he would prefer to make, and he chose ladybird cupcakes. I was worried he had picked them because of the red ladybirds (red being his favourite colour) The only thing I didn’t have was red icing (although I had a myriad of other colours to use up). I warned him this was the case, and he didn’t seem to mind.

The cakes themselves were incredibly easy to make – just your bog standard vanilla fairy cakes. The icing wasn’t too tough either – good news for us, as my son is only three. In order to make the ladybirds, we cut out circles of skin-coloured icing and fixed them to the top of the cake. Then we used chocolate-brown icing to make heads and the spots (by squishing small balls flat), and the tails (by rolling small pieces into tubes). We used tiny pieces of white icing for the mouths, and I happened to have some of those tiny necklace sweeties hanging around, which made great eyes.

Not a difficult bake, but the end result was pretty effective. And if you have a fairly patient and willing three-year-old, this is one they can help with!

Who made it: Anna and Joe

Recipe: Fairy Cakes by Joanna Farrow, pg. 18

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Baking update

Filed under: Cake, fish, main, party, starter, vegetarian — lawsonanna @ 1:18 pm

Since we returned from California in September 2015, I have done a fair amount of baking. I’ve made a mixture of old favourites, new interesting recipes, and things I think my son will be able to help with. What I haven’t done is blog about the majority of these bakes. I do have some draft posts saved here, with some pretty good photos of some of my November and December 2015 bakes.

So, instead of attempting to blog about all the baking I have done over the past few months (and really can’t remember that well), I’ll try and supplement the draft posts I’ve already written and add them to the blog.

I’ll then do my best to start blogging about my bakes and cooking experiments again! I have a good starting point for this, because last weekend I put together a 3-course meal for a few friends. To whet your appetite, this is what I made for it:

Stilton and leek tarts for starters

Baked salmon with parmesan crust for main

Tiramisu for afters…

… and some mini cocktail cupcakes for aperitifs. I’ll write proper posts about these four bakes once I’ve had a go at redrafting and posting about some of my more interesting bakes from 2015. So look out for a smattering of blog posts from me over the next week or so! I’m going to start with ladybird cupcakes…

 

November 24, 2015

Caramel cupcakes

Filed under: Cake, Uncategorized — Tags: — lawsonanna @ 11:04 pm

I’ve made these before. Although apparently never blogged about them. Or taken any photos of them. Which is a bit sad, as they tend to look pretty good. They don’t taste bad either. They must taste fine, or I wouldn’t have made them twice.

I suspect part of my reason for making these more than once is that the ingredients are pretty simple – the only thing I have to go out and buy specially is tinned caramel, and that’s easy to find. The cakes themselves taste sweet and yummy; nice and basic, fairly easy to make, but not at all disappointing. There’s not much else to say about them really…

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Cake Days: The Hummingbird Bakery Recipes to make every day special, by Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers, pg. 28-9

June 12, 2015

Easter bonnet cake

Filed under: Cake, Easter, gift — Tags: , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:37 pm

Easter bonnet cake from front sideAnother recipe that I made for my mum’s birthday, even though it’s officially an Easter recipe. I’ve been wanting to make this for ages (it looks good in the photos, and sounded pretty easy to make considering the potential end result), and messing up the rest of my mum’s present (basically I ordered the wrong thing) meant it was a good excuse to make this.

The cake itself is simple – it’s just a basic lemon sponge cake. The only difference is you bake it in a Pyrex dish so that it gives the right shape for a bonnet. It’s the decorating that takes time. You place the cake on a circle of icing, then cover the cake with icing after you’ve used a cake cooling rack to mark out squares. You then make flowers out of icing to place around the edge of the cake, and tie a ribbon around the bottom of the cake (which is a great device for hiding the joins in the icing!). Finally, you can create some icing butterflies to add to the cake. All relatively easy if you have the right cutters – which, for the most part, I did. And I was relatively pleased with the end result.

Unfortunately however, unlike the Mothering Sunday sweets, I didn’t get to try any of this (when offered, I foolishly went for the flapjacks. Yes, they were good – but I know what flapjacks taste like), so I can’t say if the cake was tasty or not. My mum told me it was good though, so I guess I’ll choose to believe her.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris, Judith Merrell, pg. 38-39

May 12, 2015

Chocolate mallow cake

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:22 am

Chocolate mousse cakeThis is an incredibly simple recipe that I found on The Teal Ribbon Girl’s blog (which they, in turn, found in a Sainsbury’s magazine). I wasn’t planning on doing any baking, but the recipe appealed to me not just because it was simple to make, but also because it used eggs, cream and chocolate, and little else. We just happened to have tons of eggs and cream to use up.

To make the cake, you beat together caster sugar and the yolks of five eggs. You then add dark cooking chocolate and whisk in hot water. You then need to fold in the five egg whites, which have to be whisked into soft peaks first. This cake mixture is then divided between two tins and baked for 20 minutes. Once the cake has been cooled in the fridge, you need to add the whipped cream and sandwich the two layers together. You can then dust the top of the cake with icing sugar.

Initially I wasn’t very impressed with the final result. I thought it looked a bit rubbish. This was entirely my own fault-I rushed baking the cake ad came very close to totally messing it up. Thankfully, once we had cut into and eaten the cake, it didn’t seem so bad after all. It looked a lot better on the inside and tasted pretty good too!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: From The Teal Ribbon Girl’s blog (originally from a Sainsbury’s magazine)

May 10, 2015

Easter nest torte

Filed under: Cake, Easter, party — Tags: , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:04 am

Easter nest torte CUThe last of my three Easter bakes, this one was somewhat more complicated than the other two. I have made it before, which helped, and I really wanted to give it a go because it has a chocolate mousse layer – something you can’t really eat when pregnant, and there were three no-longer pregnant ladies in the house (me included) for our Easter weekend gathering.

There are four stages to making this cake. The first is to make a basic chocolate sponge, so it starts off fairly easily.

The second stage is to make a chocolate collar to go round the cake, which you need to do once the sponge has baked (so you can measure its exact circumference). Making the chocolate collar is simply a case of melting some dark chocolate and pouring it onto a strip of greaseproof paper that you’ve measured out to the right size. The tricky bit is getting the chocolate at the right time so you can wrap it around the cake without it breaking.

The third stage is to make the chocolate mousse by egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and milk. You then boil more milk, pour it over the egg yolk mixture, and cook them together gently. You then add the gelatine and chocolate to the mousse. Once the mousse has started to thicken, you add whipped cream and then pour the mousse mixture onto the top of the chocolate cake.

Once the cake has been in the fridge for a couple of hours, the fourth and final stage is to add shards of chocolate (I used Flake) to the top of the mousse layer, and some Mini eggs in the centre to make it look like a nest.

Not a recipe I attempt often because it is quite complex (made even more so by the fact that I use Vege-gel so my vegetarian husband can eat it), but if you manage to make it work, it looks and tastes amazing!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Simply Cadbury’s Chocolate. Joanna Farrow, pg. 120-121

All the Easter cakes

All my Easter bakes

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