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Chocolate and Hazelnut Torte

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This is a recipe that I have adapted from one of my favourites from delicious magazine. After the first time that I made it I switched the chocolate ganache for whipped cream on top, which I felt balanced the dark chocolate of the cake better still. I also crush amaretti biscuits and scattered them over the top also.

 

Then recently I had the idea of making it with hazelnuts and Frangelico instead of almonds and Amaretto. It worked very well, but it could easily be adapted for whatever alcohol you prefer. I think Marsala would be especially delicious and would be a nod to Tiramisu, especially if you folded some mascarpone through the cream and dusted the whole thing with cocoa powder.

Ingredients:

200g Of Butter

200g of Dark Chocolate

150g of Ground Hazelnuts

6 Medium Eggs

180g of Caster Sugar

50ml of Frangelico liqueur

To finish:

300g Double Cream

30g of Icing Sugar

30ml of Frangelico

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla

40g of Roughly Chopped Hazelnuts

(any kind of other decoration you fancy, perhaps gold sugar or sprinkles. I grated about 25g of Dark Chocolate over mine)

  1. Preheat your oven to 160C and grease and line a 9″ springform making tin.DSC_0102
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate slowly over a bain marie.
  3. Meanwhile, eparate the egg whites and yolks.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar until thick and pale.
  5. Once the chocolate and butter have melted add the Frangelico and stir in the ground hazelnuts. Allow this mixture to sit to cool a little for 5 minutes.
  6. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until firm and stiff.
  7. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg yolk and sugar mixture and fold until completely blended.
  8. Take a large spoonful of the stiff egg whites and use it to slacken the chocolate and egg yolk mixture. Then add the rest of the egg whites and fold until incorporated, being gentle to ensure that as much air is maintained as possible.DSC_0126
  9. The mixture will be very loose. Pour it into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes. It will rise up and crack (don’t worry) and is ready when a skewer comes out clean.DSC_0127
  10. Allow it to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before unclipping the springform sides. Allow to cool completely before finishing off with the cream.DSC_0132
  11. To make the cream, put the cream, vanilla and Frangelico in a bowl, sieve the icing sugar on top, then whisk the whole lot together until it is firm and holds its shape. If you want to pipe the cream you may want to whisk a little firmer but don’t go too far.
  12. Cover the cooled cake with the cream then scatter the chopped hazelnuts, grated chocolate and any other decorations that you wish.

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This is a moist cake and an excellent after dinner desert. It is pretty grown up in its flavours (though my kids like it!) and you can always substitute the alcohol for flavourings or flavoured syrup. It keeps well if kept covered and cool for two or three days. And, without the use of flour, it’s gluten free, so a great option for a dinner party dessert if someone can’t tolerate gluten amongst the party.

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And if you like cherries…use ground almonds in the cake, kirsch as your alcohol, grate hunks of dark chocolate on top of the cream, then spoon cherries soaked in kirsch onto the top just before serving.

Simple Roast Chicken

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This isn’t so much a post about how to roast a chicken, though I will say how I go about it: it’s more of a post about how living in the countryside has brought me closer to farmers and food producers and the impact it’s had upon how I shop and cook. This proximity, and the friendliness and welcome of these hard working families, has made me more interested in the food I buy, cook and feed to my children. It has made me want to see where the meat comes from; to see how the animals live; and to build relationships with the people responsible for them.

This is the first of two posts about the people that I have met since moving to our village, and a bigger step into blogging about something other than baking. I have previously touched upon enjoying the fruits of our new garden (rhubarb, apples, blackberries and plums) and our local hedgerows (namely my foray into Elderflower Cordial production and its use in my Elderflower and Strawberry summer celebration cake) so it is no surprise that I have embraced other local produce.

I knew of St Brides Poultry through friends in the restaurant industry. Their slowly grown and completely free range chickens, guinea fowl and turkeys are sought after by some of the UK’s best chefs and feature on the menu of Michelin star restaurants, including Restaurant Andrew Fairlie in Gleneagles, Perthshire. As it happens, the farm is only a few miles from our new home in Stonehouse, Lanarkshire. Although they mostly supply to restaurants, Aj and Robert give locals a chance to buy their birds once a month, and the opportunity to order turkeys for Christmas each year.

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I was very keen to try their chicken, but I also wanted to visit the farm to see the birds and to find out how their farming methods differed from the ghastly mass farming methods as highlighted by the likes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in recent years.

I got in touch with AJ and asked if I could have a quick visit. She immediately said yes and we arranged a suitable time. I went off with shortbread in hand as a way of thanks for taking the time to show around someone who was a very keen but amateur cook.

Both AJ and Robert gave me a very warm welcome,  inviting me in for coffee before heading out to the see the farm itself. They explained their background in sourcing and selling luxury and quality produce for the industry before deciding to set up the farm to focus on rearing slowly grown, one hundred percent free range, and carefully cared for poultry.

I think Robert does a far better job explaining what they are all about in this short video. You can see and hear their passion and commitment.

Robert explains their story.

As for our Sunday roast, well, let’s just say the kids and I all thought it was the best roast chicken we had ever tasted.

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I inserted a split clove of garlic and some butter under the skin of each breast, slathered on some more butter and sea salt and whacked it in the oven, upside down (like my Grandma used to do, and, incidentally, how Aj recommends you roast their chickens), at 200C for about 20 minutes, then turned it down to 180C for a further 40 minutes. During cooking I basted it with the butter and juices, and turned it breast up for the last 20 minutes to ensure a good crisp skin and juicy meat throughout. I also allowed the roasted chicken to rest for about 15 minutes, covered in foil, whilst I used the cooking juices and the water from the vegetables to make a gravy.

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I served the chicken with some roasted potatoes and celeriac, and some rainbow carrots. I wanted to keep things simple so that we would focus on the taste of the chicken.

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After dinner I boiled the carcass and made the most flavoursome and delicious chicken soup. What surprised me most was how gelatinous the chicken stock was, and how much it actually tasted of chicken. Supermarket chickens don’t make stock that taste of anything. AJ explained that because their birds are allowed to grow slowly and mature, slaughtered weeks later than mass produced chickens, they have time to develop not only an amazing taste but some bone marrow.

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A chicken from St Brides Poultry will cost you about £10 and is a few pounds more expensive than a supermarket bird, but, my goodness, do you taste the difference. Personally, I think it is worth every penny. I also think that when food tastes this good, you are happy to eat perhaps a slightly smaller portion but savour the taste even more.

Furthermore, it was so very lovely to meet Robert and AJ. Theirs is a risky and very hard way to make a living, but they do it because they have a passion for excellent produce and want to rear the best tasting poultry in the UK. I hope that they continue to grow in the direction that they need to (you can find out more about their new Crowdfunded Campaign).

And for clarity, all of this does not mean that I don’t use a supermarket. I have three growing children to feed, and the supermarket offers the choice and affordability that most people rely on these days. But, building these friendship and making the choice to spent a few extra pounds on quality and ethically reared meat and fresh produce (that is also local) when I can, is so rewarding on many levels. Maybe one day,  my bread and cakes will be part of this thriving local food producer economy and community.

Pumpkin, Apple & Pecan Bundt

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It’s that time of year again when I get obsessed with all things autumnal, and, in terms of baking, I love spices like cinnamon, ginger and cardamom, and to use apples, pears, and nuts as key ingredients. Of course, I have succumbed to the American invasion of pumpkin, and love to bake with it during the months leading up to Christmas.

It used to be near impossible to get canned pumpkin in the UK, but it is slowly becoming easier to find. When I do find it, however, I tend to stock up, just in case.

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I decided to make another bundt cake recipe that I could top with another favourite ingredients of mine, maple butter. If you cannot get any, simple make an icing with equal parts maple syrup and icing sugar.

So, this is a *big* cake. Don’t make it for just you and your friend having coffee together. I used a large bundt tin. I suppose you could half all of the ingredients and make it in a smaller bundt tin, a regular tin, or even a large loaf tin (or two.) It’s also a cake to have with coffee rather than a gooey, squidgey dessert type of cake, if you know what I mean.

It is a super easy method, using ideas cobbled together from various pumpkin cakes that I’ve tried in the past. I found that the flavours develop and the texture improves when eaten the day after.

Ingredients

1 Can of Pumpkin puree (about 400g if you are making your own, fresh)

4 Eggs

4 Teaspoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice

2 Teaspoons of Bicarbonate of Soda

400g of Plain Flour

400g of Caster Sugar

1 1/2 Teaspoons of Salt

2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract

240g Vegetable Oil

100g Pecans

4 Apples

To Decorate:

150g of Moose Maple Butter

150g Icing Sugar

Pumpkin Seeds (I dusted mine with gold lustre)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan).DSC_0124 (1).jpg
  2. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl: the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Remove 70g of this dry mixture and place in a smaller bowl (to coat the chopped apples with) and leave the remaining to one side.DSC_0127 (1)
  3. Now whisk together the can of pumpkin purée, the oil, the eggs, and the vanilla in a another large bowl.DSC_0130 (2).jpg
  4. Peel, core and chop the apples. Put them in the bowl of 70g of flour mixture and toss them until they are completely coated.
  5. Chop the pecans, keeping them quite large.
  6. Add the dry to the wet ingredients and whisk until completely incorporated.DSC_0139 (1)
  7. Fold in the apples and pecans.
  8. Pour into a prepared large bundt tin and bake for about 50 minutes. It will rise slightly above the sides of the tin but should not spill over.DSC_0140
  9. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tin then turn out to cool completely.IMG_7920 (1)
  10. Make the icing by melting the Moose Maple Butter then whisk in the icing sugar until you have a smooth, fluid icing. Pour over the cooled cake and scatter with pumpkin seeds (or chopped pecans if you prefer.) If you cannot get the butter, then whisk 100g of maple syrup with 100g of icing sugar and use that instead.

 

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I hope that you enjoy my latest cake and can forgive me for my obsession with all things autumn.

Pea and Mint Ravioli

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If you follow my Instagram account or know me in real life, you will know that my passion goes beyond baking and all things sweet. I love to cook and have done so since I was a child.

I have decided to share some of my savoury recipes, and here comes the first one.

Ever since I first made my own pasta a couple of years ago, I (and my kids) have become quite fixated by it. Its texture is like no bought pasta, even the fresh pasta in the supermarket. It is smooth and silky, robust and filling, and deeply satisfying and very fun to make.

If you have never made your own pasta, then I urge you do so.

When I saw peas in their pods in the supermarket, it took me back to my childhood when the only peas my grandma ever served where freshly podded, having been bought from the market and brought home in a brown paper bag. I loved to sit at the dining table with her and pop the sweet, green peas from their pods. I quickly bought some and had the idea of pairing them with mint and ricotta in ravioli.

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As usual, I got the kids involved and they loved podding the peas too. We also discovered that our puppy loved eating the occasional escaped pea that flew across the kitchen.

Anyway, I was delighted with how the ravioli turned out, so I made it again, documented the process and wrote up the recipe. I hope that you enjoy it too.

Ingredients

250g tub of Ricotta

8 Mint Leaves, give or take 😉

15g of freshly grated Parmesan

500g of fresh peas in their pods (about 180g when out of their pods)

1 Egg Yolk

Salt and Pepper

For the Pasta:

400g of 00 or Pasta Flour

4 large Eggs

  1. Firstly, make your pasta by combining the eggs and flour in a bowl, then once you have a scraggy dough, turn it out onto a surface and kneed until smooth and silky.
  2. Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for half an hour to an hour.
  3. Now to the ravioli filling. Pod your peas and blanch them in boiling water for two minutes, then drain and place in cold water to stop the cooking and cool them rapidly.DSC_0147
  4. Once the peas are cool, blitz them in a blender until they form a rough paste.DSC_0143
  5. Chop the fresh mint.DSC_0144
  6. In a mixing bowl, add the ricotta, the egg yolk, parmesan, pea paste, mint, salt and pepper. Combine all the ingredients.DSC_0150
  7. Chill until ready to use.
  8. Roll out your rested pasta as you normally would. For filled pasta I stop at the second last setting so it is not too thin.DSC_0152
  9. Lay out your strips of pasta, load up your pea and mint filling into a piping bag if you have one (you could use a spoon but I find it easier to pipe the filling), and prepare a small bowl of cooled boiled water and a pastry brush.
  10. Pipe equal quantities of the filling at even spaces along the pasta, then lightly brush between them with water and along the long edge.
  11. Gently fold the pasta over, being careful to push out any air bubbles, then press down gently but firmly between all the fillings, so that you end up with sealed pouches of filled pasta.
  12. Using a knife, pizza wheel, or a ravioli gadget like mine, separate the pouches into individual ravioli and place to one side.DSC_0166 (1).jpg
  13. Keep going until you have used up all of your filling and pasta (you may have to roll out some excess pasta and re-use).DSC_0173 (1)
  14. Boil some salted water in a large pan and gently place the fresh ravioli in to cook. They are cooked when they float to the top and this should take 3-5 minutes. Be careful to move the ravioli gently in the pan so that they do not clump together.

I served our ravioli with some of the reserved pasta water, some melted butter and more grated parmesan.

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The taste was so fresh and light. It has become a firm favourite in our house: I hope it does in yours too.

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I also served it with this beautiful Grüner Veltliner from Mark and Spencer, which went beautifully. I would love to claim that my wine knowledge is so expert that I paired it myself, but I can’t. Marks and Spencer were selling it with the label recommending it with a pea and mint risotto, so, it jumped off the shelf at me.

So, as I come to the end of my first savoury post, I feel both excited and a little cheeky. I am excited to share another passion of mine, that I simply have never thought to write down and share before, but also a little worried that people might think me arrogant to share something that I have created myself but have no training in (I have no training in baking either but somehow that feels different.) Of course, I wouldn’t have the experience of making and enjoying pasta if it wasn’t for my Italian mum, Carla Tomasi who gave me so much advice and support when I started on my pasta journey through Instagram and emails.

So, once again, big thanks and much gratitude to the wonderful friends that I have made through social media around the world. You are all my food heroes.

 

White Forest Gateau

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The final cake, though I wouldn’t pipe icing around the top or use fresh cherries next time.

This is a cake that I adapted from a recipe that I found in delicious. magazine. I made the original a couple of months ago but didn’t care for the icing at all. I decided I wanted to nail a cake with cherry and almond flavours, that featured white chocolate, but it couldn’t be cloying or heavy.

I also had various visions of how the final cake would be decorated. But I think I made it too fussy and old fashioned on this occasion and would definitely scale back a bit next time. But I thought it would be helpful to include the process to show that it usually takes a few attempts to get to where you want to be.

Ingredients

150g of Plain Flour

50g of Ground Almonds

2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder

300g of Caster Sugar

5 Medium Eggs, separated

1/2 Teaspoon of Cream of Tartar

2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 Teaspoons of Almond Extract

115g of Vegetable Oil

250g of good Cherry Jam

 

Syrup ( if you don’t want to use alcohol you could make it all water and sugar)

70g of Sugar

30g of Water

40g of Kirsch

 

White Chocolate Cream

450 of Double Cream

180g of White Chocolate

90g of Icing Sugar

Decoration

30g of Freeze Dried Cherries or Freeze Dried Cherry Powder

150g of White Chocolate

Before you start baking it is a good idea to make your white chocolate bark or shards for the sides of the cake. I didn’t execute mine especially well the first time: I didn’t temper the chocolate (naughty Frances!) and left it too thick.

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Too thick!

Melt the 150g of white chocolate (temper it if you can) and spread it out thinly on some sheets of greaseproof paper, then carefully roll it up around a cardboard tube. Allow to cool then pop it in the fridge or freezer.

Now for the cake:

  1. Grease and line two 8″ deep sided sandwich pans. Preheat the oven to 170C (or 150C fan).
  2. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, and stir through the ground almonds and 200g of the caster sugar.
  3. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until foamy, add the cream of tartar, then whisk until soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 100g of caster sugar as if you are making meringue.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until creamy, then add the vanilla and almond extracts and the oil. Mix well.DSC_0020 (1)
  5. Add the egg yolk mix to the dry mix. It will be a thick paste like above.DSC_0024
  6. Add a heaped spoonful of the egg white mixture to loosen the egg yolk mixture (which is very stiff) then fold in the rest of the egg whites.DSC_0025
  7. Divide the mixture between the two baking pans and bake for 30-35 mins until risen, golden and firm.DSC_0007
  8. Allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from their pans and cool completely. They will sink a little in the middle, so don’t worry.

Make the Kirsch syrup whilst the cakes are cooling.

  1. Put the sugar, water and kirsch in a saucepan on a low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool.DSC_0012
  2. When the cakes have completely cooled, level their tops and pour the syrup over both of them.

Now make the White Chocolate Cream.

  1. Carefully melt the white chocolate in a bain marie.
  2. Sieve the icing sugar into the double cream and whip until very soft peaks.
  3. Pour the melted white chocolate into the whipped double cream and whip again. Be very careful not to over whip. You want firm peaks but not dry or split.

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Spread the cherry jam over one of the cakes, followed by a good layer (about 1cm thick) of the icing. Place the other cake on top, cut side down. Now cover the cake gently (to avoid getting crumbs through the icing) and evenly all over.

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If using freeze dried cherry pieces, put them in a food processor and whizz up until they are like dust. Sprinkle this through a sieve on the top of the cake.

Unwrap the cold or frozen white chocolate. It will break into shards. Press the sides into the side of the cake until it is covered.

As you can see from my top photograph, I piped icing and placed fresh cherries on the cake. Next time, I will leave it with the freeze dried cherries and white chocolate shards, but you can choose whatever way you want to decorate, and I appreciate that you may not want to order some freeze dried cherries for a one off. You may not even want to bother with the white chocolate on the side (or buy some ready made white chocolate shavings.) If so, don’t worry, you will still get the chocolate flavour through the white chocolate cream. The cake would also look beautiful with just the icing and a few piped rosettes and fresh cherries. Or if you wanted some crunch, some slivers of almonds pressed around the sides would also be delicious and pretty.

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I should have stopped here! Less is often more in my book.

Keep the cake cool until you are ready to serve because of the fresh cream, but it will still be enjoyable after a night in the fridge if it doesn’t all get eaten on the day it’s made.

Cherry & Almond Squares

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I can’t take much credit for this recipe: it is based on an old favourite of mine from BBC Good Food magazine, Blackberry and Coconut Squares. I did reduce the amount of sugar and change the flavourings, however.

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It came about because I saw a large carton of fresh cherries reduced at the supermarket and decided to buy them and give the recipe a new twist. I find with fruity recipes, that I like to alter them according to the season and what’s easily available.

Ingredients:

250g of Self Raising Flour

25g of Oats

230g of Light Brown Sugar

200g of Cold Butter, cubed

30g of Ground Almonds

300g Fresh Cherries, stoned and halved

2 Medium Eggs

1/2 Teaspoon of Almond Extract

50g of Flaked Almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan oven) and line an 8″ square baking tin.DSC_0009 (1)
  2. Put the flour, oats, sugar and butter in a large bowl and rub together until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Mix through the ground almonds.DSC_0011
  4. Weigh out 150g of this breadcrumb mixture in a separate bowl and add the flaked almonds to it, and mix through again.
  5. Break the eggs into a bowl and add the almond extract. Beat the eggs lightly.DSC_0014
  6. Add the egg mixture to the remaining breadcrumbs mixture and stir through. It will be a thick and sticky batter.DSC_0015
  7. Put the batter into the lined baking tin and spread it as evenly as you can.DSC_0019
  8. Spread the prepared fresh cherries over the batter, pressing a few in.
  9. Spread the breadcrumb and flaked almond mixture over the cherries, clumping some of it in your hand as you go.DSC_0021
  10. Bake in the oven for about an hour until the top is golden and crunchy and the inside firm. If the top looks as though it is going to burn, cover loosely with foil.DSC_0008 (2)
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool if you wish to cut it into tidy squares or serve warm with custard, cream or ice-cream as dessert.

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I am already thinking of how I can adapt this for orchard fruits in the autumn, with plums and cinnamon a firm favourite.

I hope you enjoy this summery traybake.

Elderflower and Strawberry Summer Celebration

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This cake is a combination of tweaked recipes from elsewhere and my own imagination. It came about because of my recent obsession with elderflower. I have always loved the flavour of elderflower and knew that people gathered the flowers and made their own cordial and wine, but for some reason I assumed it didn’t grow in Scotland.

But since getting our puppy, then moving to our new house and village, I have become much more aware of the passing seasons and the flowers, trees and plants around me. I had a rough idea of what elderflower looked like but wasn’t sure. Then I saw some flowers that I thought might be it whilst out on a walk with the dog. I photographed it and had it confirmed by my friends on a Facebook group, who are keen cooks and bakers. I researched more about collecting and making cordial and decided to give it a try.

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I decided to use The River Cottage recipe which was very straight forward and easy. During the process I did doubt how it was going to taste because it didn’t smell especially edible when I poured the boiling water on the flower heads, but all came good by the morning after the sugar and lemon and orange juice had been added.

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I had been thinking of how best to use this summer flavour in a desert or cake for Father’s Day, and eventually took inspiration from a strawberry cake that I had previously made using a BBC Good Food recipe.

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The Queen of Hearts cake that I made using a recipe from BBC Good Food (link at the end of the post).

I won’t pretend that this cake is super fast, but if you have the time and patience it’s worth it for a special family occasion and is very summery. Of course, making your own cordial is completely optional: I just had a bee in my bonnet about trying it out. I do actually have some ready made in a bottle in my kitchen from Ikea.

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Ingredients

Cake:

150g of Butter

150g of Caster Sugar

150g of Self Raising Flour

3 Medium Eggs, beaten

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

2 Teaspoons of Elderflower Cordial plus 100ml to soak the baked and cooled sponge

Filling:

450g of Strawberries

75g of Icing Sugar

2 Gelatine Leaves

1 Tablespoon of Elderflower Cordial

300ml of Double Cream

To Decorate:

1 Tablespoon of Icing Sugar

200ml of Double Cream

3 Tablespoons of Elderflower Cordial

5/6 Strawberries

Fresh and washed Elderflowers

You will also need two 8″ round sandwich tins, and a loose bottomed 7″ deep sided round tin.

  1. Grease and line the two 8″ sandwich tins and preheat the oven to 180C or 160C fan.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then very slowly add the eggs. Add a spoon of flour if you are worried about the mixture cuddling.
  3. Add the flour and fold in.
  4. Add the vanilla and cordial and mix in gently.
  5. Split the mixture between the two tins, smooth out and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Allow them to cool a little for a few minutes before turning out to cool completely.
  7. Whilst the cakes cool, make the strawberry cream for the filling.
  8. Wash and remove the stalks of 150g of strawberries. Put them in a food processor or blender with 75g of icing sugar and blend until smooth.
  9. Soak the two gelatine leaves in some cold water.
  10. Put the strawberry puree in a saucepan with the cordial and warm through. When it is hot (not boiling) squeeze the excess water from the gelatine leaves and add them to the strawberry mixture and stir until dissolved.
  11. Put this mixture to one side and allow to cool completely. You can pop it in the fridge to speed this up.
  12. Meanwhile, wash and remove the stalks of the remaining 300g of strawberries for the filling. Try to gather strawberries of a similar size and half them. These are going to line the tin so should be as uniform as possible. Chop up the rest of the strawberries (it’s a good idea to wait to do this until after you’ve lined the tin with the halved strawberries first).DSC_0524
  13. Once the cakes are cool, line the 7″ tin with greaseproof paper. Trim the sponges to the exact size as the tin, and level off the tops so that they are even.
  14. Place one sponge on the bottom of the tin. It will be a snug fit.
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  15. Drizzle or brush 50ml of the cordial over the sponge at the base of the tin.
  16. Now line up the uniform strawberries inside the tin with their cut edge facing outwards.DSC_0527 (2)
  17. Scatter the rest of the cut strawberries inside the ring of strawberries.DSC_0529
  18. Make the strawberry filling by whisking the 300ml of double cream until firm then folding in the cooled strawberry puree.DSC_0532 (1)
  19. Gently add the strawberry filling to the tin, making sure it goes between all the gaps between the strawberries, especially the ones lining the tin. Give the tin a gently tap on the work top to help ensure the gaps are filled. Smooth the top off.
  20. Place the second cake on top and soak the remaining 50ml of cordial over it.
  21. Place the cake in a fridge to firm up for at least an hour, but your could leave it longer.
  22. When you are ready to finish the cake off, whip up the remaining 200ml of double cream with 3 tablespoons of cordial until firm enough to pipe.DSC_0527 (1)
  23. Remove the cake from the tin as carefully as you can. Using a sieve, sprinkle the centre of the cake with icing sugar. Then pipe the elderflower flavoured cream around the top edge before placing the last of the strawberries and fresh elderflowers on it.

If you were not going to eat the cake within the hour I would pop it back in the fridge to help it to keep its shape, but remove it about half an hour before you want to eat it.

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BBC Good Food Queen of Hearts cake

Mocha Coffee Cake

DSC_0532.jpgI came up with this recipe for my old school friend who was coming over for coffee. I asked her what her favourite cake flavours were and she said: coffee, coconut, fruit and dark chocolate. I decided coffee and chocolate was a good way to go.

I’ve long been a fan of Annie Bell’s Coffee and Walnut cake. Her coffee and mascarpone cream is so very delicious: it’s creamy but not clawing; and it feels luxurious and decadent, but is incredibly simple to make. The topping is almost identical to Annie Bell’s, so I can’t take credit for how delicious it is. But I decided I wanted to make more of a coffee sponge, incorporating chocolate, and leaving out the nuts on this occasion (though you could always sprinkle chopped walnuts on the top if you fancy). I also wanted to add more flavour and moisture by using a sugar syrup on the cake itself.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

150g of Butter at room temperature

150g of Golden Caster Sugar

150g of Self Raising Flour

3 Medium Eggs

2 Heaped Teaspoons of Instant Coffee

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

100g of Dark Chocolate Chips

For the Syrup:

80g of Golden Caster Sugar

50ml of Water

30ml of Tia Maria or Kahlua (or a further 30ml of water if you prefer)

1 Teaspoon of Instant Coffee

For the topping:

150g of Mascarpone

1 Teaspoon of Icing Sugar

1 Teaspoon of Golden Syrup

3 Teaspoons of Strong Black Coffee

1 Teaspoon of Cocoa

Chocolate coated coffee beans (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (or 160C fan) and grease and line a 7″ round cake tin.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Beat the eggs with the instant coffee until the coffee is dissolved.
  4. Slowly add the egg and coffee mixture to the creamed butter and sugar, mixing well between additions. Add a teaspoon of flour to prevent curdling.
  5. Mix in the vanilla.
  6. Fold in the flour then fold in the chocolate chips.DSC_0515
  7. Put the batter in the cake tin and smooth the top, then bake for 35-40 minutes until risen, dark golden and a skewer comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes whilst you make the syrup.
  9. Warm the water, Tia Maria (if using), sugar and coffee in a pan over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved.DSC_0518
  10. Pierce the cake all over with a skewer.DSC_0519
  11. Slowly our the syrup over the cake, focusing on where the cake is pierced.
  12. Allow to cool completely.
  13. To make the topping, simply add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix together gently: it does not need to be whipped. I find it pipes better when firm, so chill in the fridge for 15 minutes if you intend to pipe it.DSC_0523
  14. Spread or pipe over the cooled cake and sieve some cocoa over the top. If you fancy using chocolate coated coffee beans then finish off with these. Alternatively, you could grate dark chocolate over the mascarpone cream if you prefer.

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Serve with your favourite hot drink: we enjoyed ours with mugs of coffee.

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I hope you enjoy making this quick and easy coffee cake.

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Pistachio and Apricot Tart

 

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This recipe came about simply from chancing upon some very pretty apricots at the supermarket. I thought they would be delicious in a frangipane type tart, but then wondered what it would be like to substitute pistachios for the traditional almonds. There was only one way to find out; and I was delighted with the result. I have to say, though, that it’s maybe not the prettiest tart that I’ve ever made, and almost looks savoury. But I can assure you that it is sweet and delicious.

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Ingredients:

300g of Sweet Pastry

100g of Butter, at room temperature

100g of Caster Sugar

2 Medium Eggs

150g of Pistachios

40g of Self Raising Flour

3 or 4 Apricots

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C. Roll out the pastry and line an 8″ tart tin with it, leaving the excess to hang over the edge. Prick the base with a fork several times and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
  2. Whilst the pastry is chilling prepare the apricots by cutting them in half and removing the stones. dsc_0191
  3. Place 100g of the pistachios in a food processor and blitz them until they are fine, small pieces (they don’t need to be quite the powder of ground almonds but close).dsc_0195
  4. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans and bake blind for 20 minutes, then remove the lining paper and beans and put it back in the oven to dry out the base for a further 5-10 minutes.
  5. Once blind baked leave the pastry case to one side and make the filling. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one by one, with a dessert spoon of flour to stop them from curdling. Once both eggs have been incorporated, add any remaining flour plus the 100g of ground pistachios and mix well.
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    When I first made this, I poached the apricots, but soon realised there was no need to do this, hence them looking already cooked in the picture above.

  6. Spread the pistachio mixture out over the base of the tart case, then add the cut apricots (cut side down) on top. Roughly chop the remaining 50g of pistachios and scatter over the batter.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the batter is firm. Watch the edges of the pastry for catching and cover loosely with foil of you think there is a risk of the top burning.dsc_0217
  8. Allow to cool in the tin. Trim the excess pastry from the top of the tart and serve on its own or with cream.

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I hope you give this tart a try if you are a fan of pistachios whilst the apricots are in season.

Blueberry and Lime Bundt Cake

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Greetings from the blogging wilderness. I have moved house, unpacked a little and started to plan a lot. In the mean time, I have been quietly finding my way round my new oven (and planning its replacement). So, with an extension in the offing, blog posts won’t be super frequent, but I hope you will stay with me, and that the odd wee recipe like this will keep you interested.

It really is a super simple cake but, I think, very delicious. I tweaked and adapted Felicity Cloake’s Lemon Drizzle Cake recipe and ended up with this. If you want fruity, zingy, and moist, then this is the cake for you. It doesn’t need to be iced or served with cream. And it doesn’t need to be in a bundt tin: a loaf tin or even small round tin would be just as nice.

Ingredients:

175g of Butter

175g of Caster Sugar

3 medium eggs

4 Unwaxed Limes (3 might be enough if they are large)

100g of Self Raising Flour

75g of Ground Almonds

150g Fresh Blueberries plus a teaspoon of flour

Syrup:

Juice of the limes (about 100ml)

100g of Caster Sugar

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  1. Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C fan oven. Grease or spray your bundt tin (or any other shape that you want to use).
  2. Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Zest the limes to give you three decent teaspoons of zest. Add this to the creamed butter and sugar and mix once more.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, with a teaspoon of flour after each addition to stop it from curdling.
  5. Once all the eggs are incorporated, tip the rest of the flour and ground almonds in, and fold in gently.DSC_0193
  6. Coat the blueberries in a teaspoon of flour, add most to the batter, and fold again.
  7. Carefully put the batter into the prepared tin and smooth gently. Scatter the remaining blueberries and gently press in to the batter.DSC_0196
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.DSC_0197
  9. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out.DSC_0200
  10. Mix the 100g of caster sugar with the juice from the limes and slowly drizzle it over the cake, allowing it to absorb slowly. If you wish to hold some back for serving, do so.

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It is very moist and has a tender crumb. I hope you enjoy it as much as our family did.

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