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 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

June 8, 2015

Tiramisu

Filed under: pudding — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:14 pm
Tiramisu

… nearly all gone.

I’ve made this before, a number of times, but not for a while now. I love tiramisu, and this is a really easy, cheat-type version – so I decided it was time to make it again.

To make it, you put together a coffee and marsala mixture, then tip some sponge fingers into this. This makes up the sponge layers of the tiramisu. You then beat together cream and icing sugar, and fold in some mascarpone cream and marsala. This is spread over the layers of sponge fingers, ensuring you end with a layer of the cream mixture. Finally, sprinkle some chocolate over the top and leave in the fridge for all the marsala to soak up into the pudding.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Cheesecakes pavlovas & trifles, Australian Women’s Weekly, pg. 51

June 6, 2015

Mothering Sunday Sweets

Filed under: gift, Sweets — Tags: , , — lawsonanna @ 9:14 pm

Marzipan sweets CUOnce again, it’s not that I haven’t been baking recently – just that I haven’t got around to writing about all the things that I have been baking. I’ll try and catch up over the next week or so, so expect another plethora of blog posts from me in the next few days.

The first thing on the list is these Mothering Sunday Sweets. I actually made them for my mum’s birthday because Mothering Sunday itself was a bit busy (baby no. 2 was born about a week before Mothering Sunday – not a time when you get a lot of baking done…).

These sweets were quite fun and easy to make, especially as I took the cheats route and bought the marzipan instead of eating it. The only effort I really had to put in was melting some chocolate. The hardest part of the whole thing was finding a box to put the sweets in.

I made three different types of sweets in total – one was just marzipan balls with half glace cherries on top, one was strips of marzipan spread with melted chocolate and then rolled up (these looked great and tasted pretty good too), and the final sweet was marzipan, cherries, sultanas and brandy mixed together and rolled into a sausage. The sausage shape was then dipped in melted chocolate and the chocolate left to set before being cut into slices.

I would say I have no idea how these tasted because I made them as a present, but I may have made some extra sweets which I then, umm, tried? They were, on the whole, pretty tasty! The marzipan chocolate strips and marzipan mixed with cherries etc. sweets both looked and tasted really rather good.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris, Judith Merrell, pg. 14-15

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

May 8, 2015

Rocky road to Emmaus

Filed under: biscuits, Cake, Easter — Tags: , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:30 am

Daffodils I’m probably writing about these a little late, but over the Easter weekend I did a range of baking, primarily in preparation for a Bank Holiday visit and Easter Egg hunt with four toddlers (and their, rather hungrier, parents). This is the first of three bakes I made.

Once again, it’s a relatively simple recipe from Hallelujah! Easter cook book, in order to make my life simple. You melt together butter, golden syrup and chocolate, then add this mixture to bashed up biscuits, raisins and rum. Once the mixture has cooled slightly you add marshmallows (unless you’re making the vegetarian version to keep your husband happy, in which case you leave out the marshmallows altogether. I did both – some wRocky road CUith, some without).

Once you’ve poured the mixture into a baking tin, all you need to do is leave it in the fridge to set. No oven needed, and the result is some very chocolatey rocky road.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris and Judith Merrell, pg. 55

February 26, 2015

Trinity Cake

Filed under: Cake, Easter — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:59 am

Trinity cake with slice cut out from aboveI specifically hadn’t planned to bake much in the near future, knowing that soon there would be a new baby in the house. But this baby is taking their time, so I’ve found myself with a fair bit of spare time. So, on Pancake Day, I was hunting through a Hallelujah! Easter recipe book to remind myself of the amounts needed for pancake ingredients. As I flicked through the book, I realised that a lot of the recipes were pretty simple and used ingredients we already had lying around the house. So I figured it was a good book to use to make relatively easy, simple-to-find-ingredients-for-recipes until this late baby made an appearance.

The first thing I made was the Trinity Cake. I have made this before, but it was a couple of years ago. It’s actually a super-easy cake to make, but made a bit more complex by the fact that each layer is flavoured slightly differently. So there is a vanilla sponge layer, a chocolate sponge layer and a coffee sponge layer. Each layer is sandwiched together with buttercream, and then the top is simply dusted with icing sugar. The only time-consuming element is mixing together 3 different sponge cakes instead of one.

One thing worth mentioning is that the recipe suggests using three 7in round sandwich tins. I used three 6in square sandwich tins – simply because that’s the type of tin I had three of, and I couldn’t be bothered to cook each layer in the oven separately. It turns out that this was the right choice; there was only just enough mixture to cover the bottom of my 6in square tins. It turned out fine, but if you did want to use 7in tins you should probably make more mixture than the recipe suggests (which is 50g of each basic sponge ingredient plus one egg).

For a quick and easy weekend cake, it’s fine – but it’s not very exciting. The flavourings are pretty mellow (although I guess it would be easy to add extra coffee or chocolate for a stronger taste), and it is, when you think about it, just a basic sponge cake. I’m not sure it’s something I would choose to make for a special occasion like Easter though (unless you really are a novice baker).

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter by Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris and Judith Merrell, pg. 56-57

January 3, 2015

Yule log

43 Choc yule log CUOnce again, a recipe I have made before – last Christmas in fact. This time around, I made it because my family were visiting us this Christmas. This was the second chocolate log I made this year, and froze ready for the Christmas period.

The basic roulade mixture only contains 6 eggs, caster sugar and cocoa powder (this yule log is pure chocolate). The great thing about making the log this year was that for my birthday I had been bought a proper (9×12) swiss roll tin, meaning that the roulade came out the right size, and could be made the right shape. In the past I’ve used a square baking tin – which works, just not quite as well.

Both the filling and icing for this roulade are the same – which does at least make life easy. They’re basically just a chocolate icing mixture. I do think that the icing on my previous effort looked better, but this still wasn’t a bad attempt.

The thing that hasn’t changed since the last time I made this was how incredibly rich  and chocolately it is (which I have to admit, I had forgotten). We all ate some of this yule log for Christmas Day tea, and it prevented any of us being at all interested in trying in the Christmas Cake. Thankfully, Christmas Cake is fruit, so leaving it for a few days really didn’t matter!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pg. 191-193

December 25, 2014

Champagne truffles

Filed under: Christmas, Sweets — Tags: , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:28 pm
Christmas decadence

Christmas decadence

For my last birthday (back in March), or possibly even Christmas last year, I was given a Sweet Shop Recipe Book (which I had asked for). It has recipes for a whole range of exciting sounding sweets, fudge, toffees and truffles – but of course I haven’t gotten around to making anything from it for the whole year.

Upon spotting that one of the recipes was for champagne truffles (incorporating two of my favourite things – champagne and glitter), I decided this Christmas was time to change all that. And I’m please to say that the result, even if I say so myself, does look pretty stunning).

Although we followed the recipe in terms of ingredients, we did change exactly how we carried out various stages, primarily due to previous truffle experiences. After tempering the chocolate we lined some ice cube cases with it, before adding the truffle mixture (which included both Cava and brandy- mmm…). We then covered the truffle mixture with more tempered chocolate before leaving the truffles to set.

Once the truffles were set, we prised them out of the ice cube cases and added edible gold glitter. We weren’t sure of the best way to add the glitter at first – brushing them seemed to work, but then I tried adding some glitter to a small sieve and shaking that over the truffles (just as you would with icing sugar). That worked well, and to get a really good shimmer we then brushed that glitter over the truffles. The end result is really decadent, and definitely one that impresses. Guests didn’t know whether the truffles were homemade or shop bought, which made me feel good!

Who made it: Dan and Anna (yes, this was definitely a joint effort)

Recipe: The Old-Fashioned Hand-made Sweet Shop Recipe Book, Claire Ptak, pg. 140-141

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