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

 

January 31, 2016

Baked salmon with parmesan crust

Baked salmonsOn to the main for my dinner party. This was even easier than the starter, but looked (and tasted) pretty good.

I seasoned four salmon fillets (one each) and put them on a roasting tin. I then made a white wine and mushroom sauce (by cooking the mushrooms in the wine, removing the mushrooms, boiling wine and cream together, then returning the mushrooms to the pan), and added a small amount of the sauce to the top of each salmon fillet.

Finally, I made a breadcrumb topping with breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, lemon and paprika. I sprinkled this topping over the salmon fillets, then baked them in the oven for 15 minutes.

I served the fillets with extra sauce over the top (saved and reheated from earlier), buttered and minted potatoes, and some rocket on the side. Whilst I wanted a decent meal, I didn’t want to stuff everybody before they had tried my tiramisu!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection, pg. 76

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

 

DSC09377

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 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

DSC09375

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

November 23, 2015

Rolo cheesecake

Filed under: cheesecake, pudding, Uncategorized — Tags: , — lawsonanna @ 10:42 pm

So, over the summer I spent a fair amount of time not baking, due to being in California… and it’s been even longer since I posted to this blog.

Since we returned at the end of September, I have done a fair bit of baking – somewhere between 8 and 10 bakes in total. I think that’s approximately one a week. I’ll try and blog about them all, but it’s entirely possible I’ll forget some along the way.

So, my first bake was this no bake Rolo cheesecake. The recipe had been e-mailed to me during the summer by a Pampered Chef consultant, but having none of the equipment available to me that I have at home, I decided to wait until we got back to the UK.

And what a disappointment this first bake turned out to be. Cheesecake and Rolos. It sounds amazing doesn’t it? What could go wrong? Well, that’s the problem. It’s just cheesecake and Rolos. Sure, you add some vanilla crunch cream biscuits to the base. And some caramel and cream to the filling. But basically, it’s just cheesecake with a whole bunch of Rolos thrown in. In the end, it was all just a bit dull.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: E-mail from a Pampered Chef consultant

 

July 25, 2015

Hershey’s Chocolate Cakes

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonanna @ 4:55 am
40 Joe and Anna fingers pouring cake mixture

Adding the cake mix to the bowl

We’re currently spending three months in California, and I have two small children 7 days a week (no nursery for the toddler whilst we’re here). So I’ve been trying to find things to do with the toddler. Now, I would never normally buy ready-made cake mix (even after making it, as far as I can figure out it’s basically just sugar, flour and cocoa powder mixed together for you), but I thought it would be a good way to involve the toddler in baking without it taking too long.

So I bought this Hershey’s chocolate cake mix. You pour the dry ingredients into a bowl, then add oil, eggs and water before mixing it all together. You then add half the mixture to cupcake cases, pour in some melted chocolate (also provided), and cover it over with the cake mixture. My toddler loved helping add the ingredients to the bowl and mixing them together, but got bored when I was filling the cake cases. The batter is really wet, and as we’re house-sitting, I didn’t want my toddler making a really big mess. Plus, the chocolate is actually really difficult to squeeze out – I struggled, let alone getting a 2-year-old to help.

The finished product

The finished product

The end result was a pretty good one – the cat certainly enjoyed it (we have 3 less cupcakes than intended…). But it wasn’t quite the baking experience I had hoped; I was really hoping to find the type of cake mixes you get in the UK, where you mix batter and then decorate the top of the cakes with edible paper stickers – meaning your toddler can help with the majority of it. It was worth doing, but I think my toddler would have been just as happy if I’d asked him to also add the flour and sugar to the cake mix!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hershey’s packet recipe

July 3, 2015

Sweetcorn soup

Filed under: lunch, Uncategorized, vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 6:10 pm

Another lunch that I made when my mum was visiting for the week (hence the continuing lack of photos), this would have been easy… if the baby hadn’t woken up, deciding she wanted a really long feed… resulting in me leaving the vegetables cooking for too long and burning them slightly.

The vegetables that burnt slightly were leek, carrot and potato, which boiled slightly dry. Luckily my mum saved it just in time. I then added sweetcorn, and whizzed together all the vegetables in a blender. I then added a stock cube and some milk before serving up the soup.

Had I not nearly burnt the soup, it would have tasted pretty good. It was also a little too thick because a little too much of the water had boiled off. But if I didn’t have a crying, hungry baby, I’d attempt this easy soup again!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter! By Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris and Judith Merrell, pg. 10-11

July 2, 2015

Easter meringue tart

Filed under: pudding, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 11:04 am

Easter meringue tart very CUWanting to make a slightly different, interesting pudding for when mum was visiting, I decided to make this Easter meringue tart (even though it was in no way close to Eater). I made it the night before she arrived, and we ate it over the course of the week she was with us, as it was rather large.

The first thing I did was make a flan case using the recipe in the same book for cuddura, which is basically a sweet pastry made from flour, icing sugar and butter. That was fairly easy to do.

Once I had made that and used it to line the base, I made the rice filling – basically a rice pudding made with milk, rice, caster sugar and almond essence. That took ages because I had to wait for the rice to cook in the milk. I got a bit bored waiting. I then added egg yolks and waited for the mixture to thicken, which was much faster!

Once that was done, I covered the flan base with cherry jam, and added the rice pudding mixture.

Finally, I made the meringue mixture (by whisking the egg whites and then adding the caster sugar, teaspoon by teaspoon) and added this to the top of the tart. Once the tart was assembled, the whole thing was baked in the oven for an hour at 110C.

Whilst the tart was fun to make, and looked pretty good, it did taste a little odd. The rice filling didn’t really feel like it belonged, and we were all in agreement that really it would have been nicer (and much more normal) if it had been a standard lemon meringue tart.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter! By Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris and Judith Merrell, pg. 26-29

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