Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf Cake

Another winner from Sweet and Simple Bakes! Doesn't just the name of it make you drool? If any of you are amateur bakers, and would like to try out some no-fail recipes, you simply have to come on over and join Maria and Rosie and all the rest of us at Sweet and Simple Bakes. Every single one of their bakes so far (over a year's worth of bakes) have been completely amazing!

In this bake, you first make a simple loaf cake with some orange zest for flavoring. Then you make tiny holes and drizzle orange syrup onto the cake and let it drip down into the cake...mmm!!! Then, if that's not enough to send you racing over to the kitchen, you add a topping of melted chocolate and sprinkles - yes, you simply have to add sprinkles, so that's not optional, though the recipe says it is. So I'm telling you, make this the next time you have company, and you're guaranteed to awe.

(Sorry about the bad photos, but I took these with my phone's camera because my regular one suddenly stopped working as we cut into it!)


Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf Cake
(recipe from Sweet and Simple Bakes)

For The cake
175g (6 oz) softened butter
175g (6 oz) caster (super fine) sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
175g (6 oz) self-raising flour, sifted
2 tbsp milk

For The Orange Syrup
Juice of 1 orange
100g (4 oz) granulated sugar

For The Topping

50g (2 oz) dark chocolate or milk chocolate – your choice
Sprinkles of choice (optional)

You will need a 900g (2 lb) loaf tin – greased with a little butter and lined with greaseproof paper or non-stick baking paper.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

In a mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar and beat together until light and fluffy in appearance. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well until fully incorporated. Add the orange zest, flour and milk and fold in gently with a spatula or large metal spoon. Turn into the prepared tin (I used a loaf pan that was a little big, so it came out pretty flat looking), smooth the top of the mixture and bake in the oven on middle shelf 35 -45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. When cool make little holes in the cake with a skewer, (this is important for pouring the syrup onto the cake to ensure the syrup soaks in fully.)

For The Orange Syrup

Put the orange juice and granulated sugar into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil for a couple of minutes. Pour over the top of the cake. When all the juice has soaked in, carefully remove the cake from the tin.


For The Topping

Melt the chocolate by placing a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Once the chocolate has melted, pour over the top of the cake. Either smooth the top over with a spatula or make a little pattern with the prongs of a fork. Add sprinkles if desired, leave chocolate to set before cutting into the cake.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bakewell Tart

I've never actually had a Bakewell Tart, though we did make a Bakewell Cake for our Sweet + Simple Bakes challenge a few months ago. The concept is similar, except that instead of the jam being sandwiched between two layers of cake, it's used as a filling in a shortcrust pastry and topped with frangipane.

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart...er...pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

There were several things that went wrong with my Bakewell Tart and it was still scrumptious, so I can only imagine how good it must have been if it had come out well. The frangipane was absolutely amazing, and I used store-bought Strawberry Jam. The two mandatory elements of the challenge were the shortcrust pastry and the frangipane.

My shortcrust pastry was quite difficult. I'm not sure if its the humidity in India, or the intense heat but the dough was impossible to roll out. I had to use my hands to fill, patch and smooth the dough into the tart pan. My oven was also acting up and ended up with a tart that was much darker than I would have liked.

I have to say though, that I loved the taste of the tart. If I only knew the secret of great shortcrust pastry, I would definitely make it again.


Bakewell Tart ... er... Pudding

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Notes:
• If you cannot have nuts, you can try substituting Victoria sponge for the frangipane.
• You can use whichever jam you wish, but if you choose something with a lot of seeds, such as raspberry or blackberry, you should sieve them out.
• The jam quantity can be anywhere from 60ml (1/4 cup) to 250ml (1cup).
• The excess shortcrust can be rolled out and cut into cookie-shapes.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Notes:
• I make this using vanilla salt and vanilla sugar.
• If you wish, you can substitute the seeds of one vanilla bean, one teaspoon of vanilla paste or one teaspoon of vanilla extract for the almond extract

Frangipane

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gingerbread Cookies

My nephew came over yesterday all excited to make gingerbread cookies. He had his own recipe from a book, but that required a 2 hour wait for the dough in the refrigerator. I quickly checked online to find an easier recipe.

And came across one of the most lovely blogs I have seen. Exclusively Food, a blog by Amanda and Debbie, has great recipes and beautiful photographs. Their gingerbread people are incredibly cute, and thankfully my nephew loved them too.

So armed with their recipe, I had 3 kids making gingerbread cookies. They came out absolutely delicious! We didn't quite get to make people as I don't have great cookie cutters, but we made several different shapes. Our artistic talents were also slightly lacking. And most of the cookies were eaten before we could even get to the icing stage!


Gingerbread Cookies
(adapted from Exclusively Food)

2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
140 g Butter, softened
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 large Egg, divided into yolk and white
1 tsp Cinnamon Powder
1 tsp Nutmeg Powder
3 tsp Ginger (I used ginger paste)
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup Golden Syrup

Stir together in a bowl, the flour, baking soda and spices.

In another large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together. Add the egg yolk and golden syrup and beat together until combined. Slowly add in the flour mixture until just combined.

Preheat oven to 180 deg C. And line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Divide the dough into halves. Roll out one half between two sheets of baking paper or parchment paper. Transfer to the freezer. Repeat for the other half. Let the dough freeze for about 15-20 minutes. This is essential - its really difficult to work with the soft dough before freezing.

Remove from the freezer and cut desired shapes. Transfer to the baking sheet carefully and bake for 10 minutes until firm. Let cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack.


While the cookies are baking, whisk together the icing:

Icing

1 1/3 cup Icing Sugar
1 Egg White (the one you saved from the yolk above)

Combine very well until a pale white. Add food coloring if you'd like. Decorate the cookies (I used Ziploc bags with a tiny bit of the edge cut off to pipe the icing onto the cookies) after they have cooled a bit from the oven. And let the icing set completely (of course, we didn't wait at all!).

They were fantastic. Thanks so much for a keeper recipe!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Adai

Adai is a form of south Indian crepe, sort of like a dosa, but made with a larger proportion of lentils, and hence far healthier than dosas. Dosas also need to ferment, while adais can be made as soon as the batter is mixed together.


Adai

2 cup Raw Rice
1 cup Channa Dal (split Chick Peas)
1 cup Urad Dal (split Black Gram)
1 cup Toor Dal (Pigeon Peas)
6 Dried Red Chillies

Salt, to taste
Chilli Powder, to taste
A pinch of Asoefetida
2-3 Curry Leaves, chopped fine

Soak the rice, dals and red chillies for 4-5 hours. Drain the water from the soaking mixture, and grind to a coarse texture.


Add the salt, chilli powder, asoefetida and curry leaves to the batter.

Heat a flat pan (such as a dosa pan or an omelette pan). When hot, spread a ladle-ful of the batter onto the pan in a circular motion.


When one side is golden brown, flip over carefully and let cook for a further two minutes.


Serve warm with chutney or jaggery/ palm sugar/ brown sugar.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chinese Dumplings/ Potstickers

For the June challenge for the Daring Cooks, Jen of use real butter chose to challenge us to make chinese dumplings or potstickers. I absolutely loved the challenge. I've been on holiday for a month and got back today, the day we were supposed to post the challenge!

I read through the instructions with complete apprehension, thinking I would have to bow out of this month's recipe. But it sounded simple and dumplings are a big favorite at home. So I simply had to try it. And simple it was! Thanks Jen for teaching us this wonderful technique.

I'm simplifying it here, but do check out the other Daring Cooks' for the complete recipe.


Dough


2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Water

Mix the ingredients together to form a soft, silky dough. Cover it with a damp cloth and let rest for 15 minutes. Uncover and cut into small portions. Roll each into a small circle. Keep the others covered with the damp cloth.

Fill each circle with about a tablespoon of chosen filling. Close the ends and pleat the edges (as neatly as possible - mine were a little amateur, but I'm sure it'll improve with practice).


Fillings

Jen gave us several options, but I chose a simple vegetarian version with mushrooms, carrots, spring onions and potatoes (yes, potatoes - I chose potatoes to act as a binder, plus I didn't want to go shopping for groceries just then!).

I sauteed the vegetables together and mashed the potatoes with some salt, sesame oil and a little black pepper for some heat.


Now you can either steam, boil or pan fry the dumplings. I steamed the dumplings for 2 minutes and then pan fried them in a little bit of sesame oil.


They were absolutely delicious and I'm having them for dinner right now as a I type. Thanks for a wonderful challenge, and I'm definitely going to be trying this often.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Lemon Curd Muffins


Sigh. I have a feeling that the bakes from Sweet and Simple Bakes is going to make me gain 10 pounds!

I think this has got to be one of my most favorite bakes so far. Not only were we to make muffins with a to-die-for lemon curd filling, I also got to make my own lemon curd. And I must say, the lemon curd was just... UNBELIEVABLE!! I couldn't stop tasting it and was seriously considering making a second batch!

Lemon Curd
(recipe from S & SB)

55 g/ 22 oz Butter
8 oz Sugar
2 Lemons
2 Eggs, lightly beaten

Grate the rinds of the lemon and squeeze out the juice.

Set up a double boiler with a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water. Add the butter and sugar to the glass bowl. Keep stirring until the butter is melted.

Add the rind and the juice and continue stirring for a minute. Now stir in the eggs and stir constantly for 30 minutes, until a spoon drawn through the lemon curd lets you see the bottom of the glass bowl.

Pour into a sterilized jar. It will keep up to a month (sadly I don't have any left!).

Now onto the luscious muffins :)


Lemon Curd Muffins
(Recipe from S & SB)

7 oz Self-Raising Flour
3 1/2 oz Golden Caster Sugar (I used regular caster sugar)
1 large Egg
3 fl oz Oil
5 fl oz Milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
12 tsp Lemon Curd

For the Glaze/ Coating:
4 tbsp Lemon Curd
2 oz Caster Sugar

Preheat the oven to 190 deg C.

For the muffins, mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar) in one bowl and the wet ingredients (except the lemon curd) in another. Slowly add the wet to the dry ingredients until combined.

Line a muffin pan. Put a teaspoon of the batter into the lined muffin pan. Top with one teaspoon of lemon curd. Now add the rest of the batter.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

While it is baking, melt the lemon curd for the glaze over the stove top or in the microwave. Spread on the muffins when they come out of the oven and sprinkle with the caster sugar.

Oh goodness they were so delicious!!! And the inside was gooey and just perfect - a lovely combination of tart and sweet!


Thanks, Maria and Rosie for another amazing bake! And for sharing your treasured recipes with us!