Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Grasshopper Cake

I made a cake for my father-in-law's birthday this week - a saw the recipe in a book Leigh bought me for Christmas. This is a Grasshopper Cake - apparently named after the cocktail. It's a yummy chocolate cake filled and covered with a peppermint butter icing - very, very nice. I have to say I didn't believe the recipe when it said I would be able to cut the cake into thirds - it's only a 2 egg cake, but I guess the bicarb and lemon juice did the trick!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's been a productive few days!

After a bit of a baking drought, I've managed to bake a few new (and old!) things over the last few days and I've finally finished my animal alphabet cross stitch!

First was some doughnut muffins from the Good Food magazine - very easy to make and they do seem to taste doughnutty...although that might just be because they're covered in caster sugar after baking!!! I had a little trouble dividing my mix so that the jam was properly covered (I used too much in the bottom layer), but they turned out fine. As I was typing the recipe out I also remembered that this was a recipe the boys helped me with. Leo was in charge of the dry bowl - I turned my back on him to help Zachary with the wet bowl, turned back and saw him spooning flour into his mouth! Nice.

(Good Food Jan 2012)

140g golden caster sugar, plus 200g extra for dusting
200g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100ml natural yoghurt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
140g butter, melted
12 tsp seedless raspberry jam

1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin (or use a silicone one). Put 140g sugar, flour and bicarb in a bowl and mix to combine. In a jug, whisk together the yoghurt, eggs and vanilla. Tip the jug contents and melted butter into the dry ingredients and quickly fold with a metal spoon to combine.

2. Divide two-thirds of the mixture between muffin holes. Carefully add 1 tsp jam into the centre of each, then cover with the remaining mixture. Bake for 16-18 minutes until risen, golden and springy to the touch.

3. Leave the muffins to cool for 5 minutes before lifting out of the tin and rolling in the extra sugar.

Then this week, Leigh made some lemon marmalade from the February 2012 Good Food and I followed this up with their lemon bakewell tarts as well. The pastry was a bit of a bind to make (interesting, reverse method of making) and cracked a lot while I was trying to roll it out, but it came out of the tins beautifully and there were no soggy bottoms.

(Good Food Magazine Feb 2012)

Sweet Pastry -
85g butter at room temperature
zest 1 lemon
50g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
200g plain flour
Filling -
zest 2 lemons
100g butter at room temperature
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
85g ground almonds
25g plain flour
6 tbsp homemade lemon marmalade (or lemon curd)
25g flaked almonds
icing sugar, for dusting

1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. To make the pastry, place the butter and lemon zest in a food processor and blitz until soft. Sieve in the icing sugar and blitz again until light and creamy. Mix in the egg yolk with 1 tbsp water, then add in the flour until it's just combined.

2. On a lightly floured surface, bring the pastry together into a ball, then wrap in cling film and flatten lightly to form a disc. Chill in the fridge for 30 mins.
3. Roll out the pastry and use to line six 10 x 2 cm loose-bottomed tart tins, trimming off any excess. Put in the fridge while making the filling. If pastry cracks or breaks, patch up with trimmings.

4. To make the filling, beat together the lemon zest, butter and caster sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, including a spoonful of the ground almonds with each addition. When all the egg has been added, mix in the remaining ground almonds and flour.

5. Spread the marmalade or curd over the bases of the tart cases. Spoon over the filling and smooth with a palette knife or spatula. The tarts will be full to the top, which is fine. Scatter over the flaked almonds, sit tarts on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden.

Then yesterday I went a bit mad in the kitchen, making not only the bakewell tarts, but also some mini muffins and a cherry bakewell sponge. Yom.

And finally my completed cross stitch - ready for framing, great!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Outsmarted by my 3 1/2 year old...

I am shamed. The boys had a bubble bath last night and Leigh ran the shower to rinse them down before they got out. He put the shower head back in its stand, leaving Zachary in the bath for me to get him out. I complained that as I was shorter than Leigh, I couldn't reach round the shower to turn it off without soaking my arm. Quick as a flash Zachary told me to just turn the shower off at the wall switch. Which worked. My mental faculties are dull!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Bakewell Cheesecake

The January 2012 edition of the BBC Good Food magazine had a great set of recipes entitled "Your favourites made even better," ie "putting a fresh spin on well-loved classics." I am keen to try the doughnut muffins and the Eccles cake (a big sponge cake rather than the individual pastry ones) but yesterday I made and today we ate, Bakewell cheesecake. It was lovely, and far less rich than I had anticipated after tipping 900g Philadelphia cheese into it!

I was a good girl and followed the recipe closely as to baking and cooling instructions, however forgot to toast the flaked almonds, and didn't buy enough almond biscuits so had to use 50g malted milks to make it up to 200g! Still, turned out nicely. I don't think it will replace my love of Bakewell tarts and cakes, but lovely all the same.

(Good Food Jan 2012)

200g almond biscuits
100g toasted flaked almonds
1/2 tsp almond extract
100g butter, melted
3 x 300g packs full-fat soft cheese
250g caster sugar
4 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
200ml tub soured cream
just over half a jar of cherry jam
icing sugar and cream, to serve

1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Line the base and sides of a 23cm springform tin with baking parchment. Bash the biscuits and 75g of the flaked almonds to crumbs. Mix with the almond extract and butter, then press int the base of the prepared tin and bake for 10 mins. Set aside to cool while you make the filling.

2. In your largest bowl, whisk the cheese until creamy. Add the sugar and whisk to combine. Whisk in the flour, then the vanilla, the eggs one at a time, and finally the soured cream.

3. Dollop spoonfuls of the mixture into the tin, dotting in tbsps of jam as you go. Smooth the top as gently as you can.

4. Carefully place the tin on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Scatter the remaining almonds. Decrease oven to 110C/90C fan/gas 1/4 and bake for a further 35 mins. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed and leave the cheesecake to cool for 1 hr. Open oven door and leave it ajar for another hour. Cool for a third hour at room temp, then cover and chill overnight.

5. Remove from the tin and carefully peel off the parchment. Dust with icing sugar and serve with cream.