Sunday 29 December 2013

French Onion Soup

This is my all time favourite soup, I remember my first bowl of it at my uncles house when I was nine, it was superb; dark, rich and incredibly moreish.
It's a classic French dish of sheer simplicity in it's ingredients and techniques but requires care and attention to extract all the glorious flavour out of the humble onion, a vegetable often relegated to what you throw in the pan first.
The usual routine is to slowly saute the onions in a butter and oil, turning them from harsh, ridged eye waterers to a soft, golden, sticky pile of sweetness, true culinary alchemy.
However, Dom of Belleau Kitchen made a cracking version a few months back using a slow roasting method which managed to extract the wonder out of the onion without the faff of slicing and stirring beforehand, which I need to try. Either way, whichever technique you use, slowly is the key.

If I haven't convinced you yet, did I mention it's served with a slice of cheese on toast?

about a kilo of white onions, thinly sliced
40g butter
splash of oil
2 tsp of sugar
1.5 litres of beef stock
125ml of white wine.
Salt and Pepper
few slices of a crusty loaf
100g Gruyere cheese

Melt the butter with the oil in a large saucepan and add the onions.
Over a low to medium heat, slowly fry the onions for at lest 20 minutes until they turn golden and sticky, add the sugar after 15 minutes to aid caramelisation.
Once nicely golden, add the beef stock, seasoning and wine to the pan, add a lid with a small gap and simmer very gently for at the very least an hour.
Slice the bread so it fits in your bowls, under a grill toast one side, turn over then add the cheese and toast again until melted. place on top of the soup in the bowl.
Serve and enjoy.

Christmas Dinner 2013

Merry Christmas everybody, that's another Christmas Dinner over and done with for another year.

How was yours then? did you opt for Turkey or go with something  a bit more interesting? I refuse to have that bird grace my dinner table but we do roast a crown for sandwiches for the next few days.

Christmas dinner in my house this year was a simple affair, easy recipes that could be made the day before with little effort and would all come together with very little hassle and that would please my incredibly fussy family.
I am going to blog a few of the recipes but here is few picture I managed to take throughout the day of the end result.

Christmas Dinner 2013

Clementine Bellini

French Onion Soup

Main Course
Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb

Carrots cooked in butter, water, sugar and star anise

Brussels with chestnuts and bacon

Potato Dauphinoise


Sticky Toffee Pudding


A well earned dram of Single Malt

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

Friday 29 November 2013

Chilli Poached Pears - A Random Recipe

Not often I say this but I miss Summer. Not the heat and the muggy sleepless nights. What I miss is the light.

Daylight from long before you awaken, all the way until just an hour or so before you head to bed. Currently I get up in the dark, go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. This makes writing a blog fairly tricky, especially if all you have is a slightly dodgy phone camera and an abundance of light bulbs that suck the joy and life out of everything I try and take a picture of and I really dislike blogging with no or bad pictures.

I may have to get some sort of lightbox or hibernate until spring.
Anyhoo, it's another month and even though I've been absent I had to make a return for Dom's Random Recipes as it is one blogger challenge that pains me to miss so I have had to make this recipe at work, in order to get a decent picture, good job I work in a kitchen.

The book I randomly chose is Ramsay's Ultimate Home Cooking and the random page number selected is... *drum roll* 278!!

Well this recipe is nothing sort of superb, stunning flavours from the Star Anise combined with the saffron and chilli to give a deliciously sticky sauce that smacks you round the face with chilli heat before being washed away by the juicy sweet pear. I'm considering making this for Christmas dinner due to its ease and glorious flavour.

Chilli Poached Pears
125g Caster Sugar
1 red chilli, halved lengthways
Pinch of saffron (optional)
2 whole star anise
4 conference pears, peeled

4 star anise
1 tsp ground ginger

Slice a little bit off the bottom of the pear so it can stand up right.
Place the sugar, chilli, saffron and the star anise into a pan large enough for the pears. Add 500ml of water. Place over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved then add the pears.
Simmer gently for 10 mins until the pears are soft but still holding their shape.
Make the dust by grinding the star anise with a pestle and mortar and then mix in the ginger.
Remove the pears and reduce the liquor for 10-15 minutes until syrupy.
Serve either warm or cold with the syrup poured over the pears and sprinkled with the dust.


Sunday 13 October 2013

New York Cheesecake

Start spreading the news....I'm leaving today...I want to be a part of it... New York New York

Ah New York, a city so good they named it twice and they weren't wrong. It is a truly epic place in all meanings of the word, the buildings, that song, the imagery and of course the food.

I have been lucky enough to visit twice with a third visit planned for next summer and already my list of things to do increases daily...
  • Visit Brooklyn Brewery
  • Attempt to eat a pastrami sandwich at Katz deli
  • Visit Momofuku to sample the Pork Buns
  • Visit a blues bar
  • Eat more cheesecake
Oh yes the cheesecake, if you have a food bucket list then eating a piece of New York Cheesecake in New York must surely be on it. It is the dessert that walks up to all diets and tells them where they can shove it, only a little more rudely. A glorious piece of heaven with creamy, soft cheese, the tang of sour cream and lemon and a rich biscuit base, what more could you ask for...well other than a cardiologist?

It has been on my 'to bake' list for a while but I never got round to it. So with it being the OH's birthday and with the previously mentioned third trip in its early planning/saving stages, I thought why not and got on with making it.

I used a recipe on the Good Food Website but increased the biscuit base ingredients after reading a few of the comments. I advise you also do so if you make it because it would be a very thin base. just simply double the ingredients stated in the recipe.

The end result was a delicious cheesecake that definitely reminded me of the Big Apple and it's dairy delights but it wasn't the same, that key element was missing and that is the beautiful city of New York itself...

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Spiced Apple Tea Loaf - A Random Recipe

 I am a miserable git on a Monday morning, well I'm a miserable git most of the time, depending on who you speak to, but more so on a Monday morning.

Standard cures are to be on holiday or failing that; coffee. However, arriving at work this Monday morning, I had a very pleasant surprise awaiting me in the form of a bushel (always wanted to use that word ) load of apples which cheered me up no end.

Recently I have been formulating a plan for thievery that would make Mr Ocean look like an amateur with my eye being on the rosy red fruit of a glorious apple tree on someones front lawn near my house. However, before I purchased a balaclava and a stepladder, I got wind that a colleague of mine had an apple tree, so I asked for a few with plans to make a pie, I did not expect to end up with half a tree, so I have lots of lovely apple cookery ahead.

As luck would have it, Dom's Random Recipe challenge this month is to use local ingredients and randomly pick a recipe based on that. Heading to the Good Food Website, I typed apple into the search bar and used a random number generator to pick a recipe. Number 5 was selected out of 306 which was... a Spiced Apple Tea Loaf.

Now this here recipe doesn't contain any tea, so how it is a tea loaf is beyond me and saying it goes well with a cup of tea does not make it a tea loaf, but no matter.

The recipe employs no major different cake making methods but the times stated on the recipe are a bit off. The addition of apple into the mix is going to cause havoc and stop this from being a quick bake. My oven took a further 40 minutes to fully cook it and I am not at all convinced that turning the oven down is a necessary step but I will leave you to judge that with your own ovens. do pu the foil on though because the apples on top do start to sizzle if not.

The end result is exactly what it says on the tin, A moist spicy apply cake that will go spot on with a nice cup of Rosy Lee. Lovely stuff

175g light muscavado sugar
175g Butter
3 large eggs
1 eating apple
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g mixed dried fruits
85g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
175g plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
splash of lemon or orange juice
1 tbsp marmalade or apricot jam

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Stir in the dried fruits, vanilla extract and grate in one half of the apple.
Mix the flour, spices, baking powder and a pinch of salt together.
Fold into the batter.
Pour into a lined, 900g loaf tin and level out.
Slice the other half of the apple and dip in the juice, place on top of the cake.
Sprinkle over another tbsp of sugar.
Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes at 180C/160C (fan)
After 45 minutes turn the oven down to 140C/120C (fan) and cover the cake with foil.
Bake for a further 45 minutes.
Leave to cool in the tin.
Serve and Enjoy.

Saturday 5 October 2013

Treacle Tart

I have been a bit quiet on the old blogging front recently. All the usual excuses apply here: lack of funds, lack of inspiration and just simply can't be bothered, I'm sure we all go through similar waves when it comes to food but hopefully we all emerge on the other side relatively unscathed. In an effort to get restarted, I have decided to have a go at a few classic bakes and just enjoy baking/cooking them.

The first one on my 'list' is one I have been wanted to make/try for many a year, to be more precise it was when I was in Year 4 and I was reading a certain book...about a wizard...can't for the life of remember the book's name, think it just faded into a scar over time.

Anyway, this wizard, whose name escapes me, had a Treacle Tart on his first night at his new digs and every since then I've fancied trying one.

It is, in my opinion, a weird tart indeed consisting of just syrup (not treacle, which surprised me) breadcrumbs and lemon, but it relatively simple to make. the recipe is based on a Queen Mary Berry recipe which was used in last years Great British Bake Off as a technical challenge. I decided to omit the lattice pastry over the top from this recipe but feel free to have a go if you like.

Treacle Tart
200g plain flour
100g Butter
2 tbsp water

400g golden syrup
150g fine, white breadcrumbs
Zest and juice of 2 lemons

Add the butter to the flour and rub together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
add the water and stir with a knife to combine, then knead together quickly to combine until a soft dough.
Wrap tightly in clingfilm and leave in fridge for at least half n hour.

Get two sheets of cling film, spread one across the work surface, place each mound of dough in the middle and spread the other sheet over the top.
Roll out gently in between the two sheets of cling film (this method stops any excess flour being added to the pastry and drying it out).
Remove the top layer and using the bottom layer drape the pastry gently into the tin and press gently into all edges.
Prick the base with a fork to stop it from rising in the oven
Return to the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 180C and place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.

Melt the syrup in a large pan, do not allow to boil.
Pour in the breadcrumbs and lemon juice/zest and stir to combine.
Add some more breadcrumbs if the mixture is too runny.
Pour into the pastry case and level out.
Stick it in the oven on the tray and bake for about 35 minutes until golden brown and the pastry is golden.

Leave to firm in the tin and serve warm or cold with whipped cream or cream fraiche.

So it turns out that treacle tart is, weird ingredients aside, rather nice. Sweet but slightly sour, chewy but crisp. I highly recommend serving with cream fraiche as it cuts through the sweetness making it much more balanced and tasty.

Give it a go

Friday 30 August 2013

Oxtail and Guinness Stew

I have a new love in my life, it's smooth, curvy and provides me lots of tasty food for very little effort. Yep, it's my shiny new slow cooker.
I have toyed with buying one for an age but never seemed to get round to it but finally, after a few Twitter conversations I went out and bought this little 4.5 litre beauty for less than 20 quid at Argos.

After two days of ownership I already have an ever increasing list of things to cook in it including; chilli, pulled pork and of all things confit duck. To get the ball rolling and to give it a trial run, I decided to keep it simple with a beer and beef stew using the lesser used cut of oxtail and everyone's favourite Irish export, (after the Dubliners), Guinness. This is a fairy heavy stew which is probably not suitable for these Summer months but Winter is coming people, so be prepared.

To these two ingredients, I added a variety of vegetables, lots of rosemary and some tinned tomatoes. I also browned the onions and meat to add a bit more flavour.

The resulting stew after a long, painful wait of 9 hours was just glorious. Thick, rich, beefy and damned tasty. The previously tough oxtail was easily pushed off the bone with a teaspoon and then promptly fell apart into tender pieces of beef. It's the stuff dreams are made of.

Oxtail and Guinness Stew
Ingredients (makes 5 decent portions)
600g of oxtail, cut into sections, (ask your butcher)
1 bottle of original Guinness (2, if you fancy one yourself)
2 onions, diced.
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
2 carrots, sliced into circles
2 leeks, sliced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes.
2 twigs of rosemary, take off the leaves but put the twig in as well.
1 beef stock pot
200ml of water
Salt and Black pepper

Heat oil in a frying pan and brown the onions and garlic, transfer into the slow cooker.
Season the oxtail and fry in the pan until browned on all sides, transfer to the cooker.
Add every other ingredient into the cooker and give it a stir.
Put the lid, switch to low and go to the pub for the next 8-9 hours.
After the required time, remove the oxtails and scrap off the meat and mix into the stew.
Serve with your favourite carbohydrate and veg based accompaniments.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry - A Random Recipe

An interesting challenge from Belleau Kitchen HQ this month. The illustrious cookbook we had to cook from had to be chosen on 'the hoof' so to speak. What cookbook would we grab if we had only ten seconds to pick one?

The instructions were to get a friend, house mate etc... to count to ten while the challenger sprinted to the cookbooks and grabbed one. Now I live alone so I had to do this one myself.

So I went outside... psyched myself up...nearly convinced myself the house was on fire....sprinted in....and grabbed my favourite bottle of whisky (next to the cookbooks) and legged it back outside in a blind panic.

After composing myself with a wee dram (any excuse). I tried again, this time without working myself up beforehand.

I was torn between two cookbooks to grab, the first one was Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets, this is one of my favourite books because as well as the recipes, it give an explanation into why you are doing a certain stage or technique in a recipe and coming from a Food Science background and having to teach the stuff, this is my cup of tea.


My sensible head kicked in and I grabbed one of my other favourites which is Our Hugh's River Cottage Veg Everyday with winning argument being - easier and healthier recipes.

Book sorted and after a quick random number generator I landed on Page 26 and this rather interesting curry from one of my favourite chef's; Angela Hartnett.
Normally, I'm not a fan of cauliflower and I would not normally pick this recipe to cook but cover anything in enough spice and I'll probably eat it (not squid, I hate squid) and to go with the rules of the challenge I had to give it ago.

The resulting curry was excellent, nicely spiced, fragrant and fresh with a nice kick from the chilli flakes. It was very easy to make, 40 minutes from beginning to eating so good for a mid week tea. another success from River Cottage Veg.

The recipe is available here on the Guardian website or on page 26 of the book which you really should own by now.

Thursday 22 August 2013

Turkey Leg with a Barbecue Sauce

I have walked through Leeds Market more times than I can remember, either for wander to soak up the atmosphere of a bustling market and to have a nosy at the food or it's to stock up on some fine produce.

Usually, it's the normal selection of fish, meat and veg and rarely something a bit different catches my eye, However these beauties required a double take. my first thought is that these chickens had grown up near a nuclear plant or something but on closer inspection they were Turkey legs and good God in Heaven are they huge, I have put one up against a wine bottle to give you an idea, the other one I bought was the bigger of the two.

Seeing this took me straight back to holidays in America, where roasted ones of this size were available at a popular theme park, so naturally I bought two for the bargain price of £1.75 each. One of these I reckon will feed about 3 people, with sides obviously. (or one very greedy person)

To cook them I planned to treat it like any roast chicken as it was big enough and marinate then roast in a Barbecue Sauce that @feastandglory cooked recently for her little gathering, which is superb little recipe with just the right amount of sweetness and heat.

Alternatively if you can't get hold of a turkey leg, get some chicken thighs, drench them in the sauce and roast for about 40 mins. 

Turkey Leg with Barbecue Sauce
1 turkey leg
3 spring onions, chop up the entire thing, green stems and all
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.
1 scotch bonnet, finely chopped. keep the seeds in you wuss.
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp dark rum
3 tbsp clear honey
1/2tsp all spice

Take all the marinade ingredients together and mix well until fully combined and saucy.
Poke the turkey leg with a sharp knife all over.
Take a large food bag and place the marinade and the leg in there and seal.
Shake it, rub it, do the conga with it until the leg is well covered in the marinade.
Leave for a minimum of three hours or overnight if you can.
Take a roasting tray and open the bag and empty it's contents into the tray.
Cover the tray with tinfoil and roast for about an hour at 200C.
Baste a few times during cooking.
Stick a thermometer into the leg after the cooking time and if it reads 70C then you are good to go, if not put it back in the oven for 10 minutes.
Leave to rest then eat in whatever way you see fit, go all medieval on it if you like.


Wednesday 31 July 2013

Raspberry Curd Tart

Today's bake was inspired by a recipe from this month's Olive which was a Blackberry Curd Tart but instead I fancied using raspberries instead to see if that would work well.

Being in school today for Summer School, I took the magazine in to have a read through and get the list of ingredients, unfortunately on leaving, I wrote down the ingredients and promptly left the recipe at school, sounds like the beginning of a Bake Off technical challenge this.

For the pastry I used my usual sweet shortcrust pastry recipe and techniques. For the filling I broke down the raspberries with a little bit of sugar over a low heat to extract all the juices and then shoved it through a sieve to remove all the pips. To this juice I mixed in the condensed milk and 3 large yolks and turned the oven low and cooked the filling gently until set.

I was slightly disappointed upon mixing the ingredients as I was expecting a vivid red but alas it wasn't to be. The end result however was a success; crisp pastry, very smooth light curd filling that was slightly more sweet than sour but with some extra raspberries on top soon brought it back to the sour side.

Not a bad result for a recipe less baking session.

Raspberry Curd Tart
210g Plain flour
35g icing sugar
125g cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
2 tsp of water
1 egg white (to brush the cooked case)

300g raspberries plus extra for the top
1tsp caster sugar
1 tin of condensed milk (397g)
3 large yolks

Uses one 20cm tart tin

Mix the flour and sugar together, add the butter.
Rub the butter into the flour gently between your fingertips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the yolk and water and mix together.
Using your hands bring together the mix into a dough ball, don't overwork.
Wrap tightly in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30mins to an hour.

Get two sheets of cling film, spread one across the work surface, placethe  dough in the middle and spread the other sheet over the top.
Roll out gently in between the two sheets of cling film (this method stops any excess flour being added to the pastry and drying it out).
Remove the top layer and using the bottom layer drape the pastry gently into the tin and press gently into all edges.
Take a square of greaseproof paper and place over the pastry, fill with lentils, baking beans, coins and blind bake for 12-15 minutes at 180C (fan)
Remove the paper and items and bake for a further 12-15 mins, keep an eye out, when it reaches a golden colour you are happy with then take it out.
Brush with egg white and place back in the oven for a minute or so.
Take out and leave to cool completely.
Turn the oven down to 150C (fan)

Place the raspberries and caster sugar into a saucepan and heat gently until it breaks down and releases all the juice.
Push through a fine sieve until all the juice is separated from the pips.
Stir in the condensed milk and egg yolks until fully combined, the colour should be uniform.
Pour into the cooled tart tin.
Place into the oven (150C) and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Serve with some ice cream and the extra raspberries


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Friday 26 July 2013

Spinach salad with Dates & Almonds

 Ottolenghi is currently one of my favourite chefs. I have eaten at his restaurant/deli outlets several times and gone back multiple times just for the cakes and patisserie available. His recent programme Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Feast was a superb tour of that region and his books are stunning with many recipes pairing ingredients together that you wouldn't normally consider as well as showing new ways with old ones. His Plenty book would happily send me vegetarian if I didn't like meat so much.

So I was very happy to get his latest book (co-authored with Sami Tamimi) Jerusalem to cook from for Dom's Random Recipe Challenge this month. The challenge was a lot more simple than usual, instead of us randomly picking the book it had to be the 30th book and the 30th page to celebrate the 30th random recipe challenge, how time files.

The recipe on page 30-31 was a salad.

Now the word salad is a word that comes with negative connotations regarding dieting or dire offerings with a tired old iceberg and a dull tomato. In the world of Ottolenghi however, the salad is a glorious feast for the senses and this one is no different...
Sweet, slightly sticky dates, offset with sour lemon and sumac. crisp fried pittas, crunchy almonds and soft spinach leaves with just the slightest hint of chilli heat all combine together in a superb salad that can be happily eaten as an entire meal instead of being relegated to a side dish. Simple but brilliant.

Spinach salad with Dates & Almonds
1tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
100g pitted medjool dates, quartered lengthwaqys
30g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small pittas, ripped to small pieces
 75g whole almonds, roughly chopped
2 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
150g baby spinach leaves
2 tbsp lemon juice

Add the dates and onion to a bowl with the white wine, mix and leave to marinate for 20 minutes, drain any remaining vinegar off and discard.
Heat half the oil with the butter in a frying pan and cook the almonds and pitta over a medium heat for 5 minutes until golden and crispy. remove from the heat and sprinkle over the chilli flakes, sumac and a pinch of salt. Set aside to cool.
Toss the spinach leaves with the pitta mix, add the dates and onion, remaining olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
Serve immediately.


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Monday 15 July 2013

Orange and Polenta Cake

While Britain slowly roasts under a blazing sun and the 'news'papers report that the end of the world is upon us all because the mercury exceeds 25C the last thing you probably want to do is go into the kitchen and bake a cake when you want to go outside and bake yourself, preferably with a beer or chilled wine baste.

But hold on just one minute and get yourself inside (or get up early while it's still quite cool) and make this little gem of a cake I found on Good Food.

It is a simple cake with no fancy toppings which would melt like a ice lolly on a barbecue or in the case of cream, go off faster than you can whip it. It keeps very well for a few days and it is definitely a summers day cake with a lovely golden colour and deep orange flavour from the soaking liquor.

I altered the recipe slightly as the original stated to wait until the cake is cold to drizzle it with the syrup, that in my mind is a silly idea. While it is still warm, stab it all over with a toothpick or similar then brush the syrup over so it soaks in and then repeat until it's all used up, this keeps it deliciously soft and tasty.

Orange and Polenta Cake
250g unsalted butter
250g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
140g polenta
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
zest and juice 2 oranges (less 100ml juice for the glaze)
Line the base and sides of a 23cm cake tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time and mix well.
Add the dry ingredients and the zest and juice after removal of 100ml.
Transfer to the tin and spread evenly.
Bake in a preheated oven a 160C/140C(fan) for about 45 minutes until a skewer can be removed clean.
Turn out onto a wire rack.
Add the sugar and juice to a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, allow to cool.
Stab the cake with a toothpick then brush the glaze over the top, keep brushing as the cake absorbs it. Leave to cool completely
Serve with a bucket of ice cream.

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Sunday 30 June 2013


It doesn't come much better than a profiterole. Sure you can argue the merits of an ├ęclair but ├ęclairs are messy and once you start one you are committed until it's finished, unless you are that person that saves half for later...tut tut. A profiterole is a bite sized piece of joy. Crisp, light choux pastry, filled to the point of bursting with fresh cream and drenched with chocolate, it's a dieter worst nightmare.

I have been a little obsessed with perfecting the art of the choux recently, having decided to teach it to 13-14 year olds, I have to get it right myself first.

It's a simple pastry at heart, no gently rubbing flour into butter, no worrying about the heat of the room, no danger over kneading and making it tough for just a few examples.

There are several key points to follow for making a decent choux bun:
  • beat the flour in quickly when  the liquid boils
  • make sure to return the mixture to the heat to dry.
  • careful with the amount of egg added as it is temperamental and you might not need it all.
  •  don't open the bloody oven until its cooked.
Once you have mastered the art then the world is your lobster. Flavour the cream with your favourite liqueur, baileys or whisky for example or don't use cream and fill it with cream patisserie instead. Drown them in your favourite chocolate or up the game and make a Croquembouche or a St Honore.

150ml water
50g Butter
60g flour, sieved.
2 eggs, beaten
200ml Double Cream
1 tbsp icing sugar
100g Dark Chocolate

Melt the butter with the water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiled, take off the heat, pour in the flour and beat hard with wooden spoon until a smooth paste and coming away from the sides.
Place back on the heat for about 30 seconds to dry out further.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before adding the egg
Add the egg, a bit at time, mixing well after each addition. the mixture will look like it's splitting but keep beating, it will sort itself out. when the mixture reaches a consistency where it will drop off the spoon with a jerk then stop adding the egg.
Spoon the mixture into a piping bag.
Pipe small mounds on a sheet of greaseproof paper, keep them even.
Once done, then with your wet finger, tap the pointy tops down gently to make them smooth.
Bake in a preheated oven at 190C (fan) for 20 minutes until the buns are crisp and golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully.

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks, stir in a tbsp of icing sugar (optional). Using a thin nozzle, pipe cream by piercing the bottom of each choux bun with the nozzle and then piping straight into the centre.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water and either dip each bun into the chocolate or drizzle it all over with a spoon.


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Friday 28 June 2013

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cake

After the success of the Triple Chocolate Cake of Death, another colleague at work got wind that I can make a decent cake when I put my mind to it and enquired if I could make one for her up coming wedding anniversary, being in a nice mood for a change and never one to turn down an opportunity to bake, I agreed and began pondering what to make.

The brief was even vaguer than the chocolate one with the brief  for this bake just simply 'cake'. Very helpful that. normally my go to flavour in cakey form are Lemon or chocolate, usually with raspberries but....British Strawberries are in fine form at the moment and there are some fine varieties floating about.

My advice when buying them are to give them a sniff, if they smack you round the head with strawberry aroma, get them bought and eaten but do it quickly because they are usually at the peak of their powers and will go off very quickly.

To go with the strawberries, I decided to opt away from the usual dark chocolate and go the other end of the spectrum with a white chocolate butter cream. I also decided to move away from a strawberry jam filling and go for a deliciously gooey and sticky strawberry compote which would help show off the strawberry flavour instead of just being very sweet.

Main Cake ( two 8 inch tins)
6 eggs - weigh in shells to find their weight then use this measurement for the following.
Caster Sugar
SR flour
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Little cake (one 4.5in tin)
1 egg, as above weigh in shell to find the weight.
SR Flour
Caster sugar
tiny drop of vanilla extract

Strawberry compote
450g strawberries, hulled and chopped in half or quarters.
4 tbsp Caster Sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice.

White Chocolate Buttercream
220g Butter
500g Icing sugar
300g White chocolate
milk (if needed)

To decorate
100g white chocolate
Punnet of strawberries

Cook each cake separately. For each cake, beat all the ingredients together in a bowl until a smooth cake batter is formed and the mixture easily falls off a spoon. Divide the mixture between the two lined and greased cake tins equally or pour the mixture straight into the lined and greased little cake tin. Level out and place in a preheated oven at 160C(fan) for about 45 minutes for the big cake and about 20-25 minutes for the little cake. Check they are done by inserting a skewer into the middle to see if it can be removed clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Place the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice into a saucepan, heat gently until the strawberries start breaking down, stop cooking when it is syrupy but there are still decent lumps of strawberry in there. set aside and leave to cool.

Cling film a flat movable surface, such as a chopping board. melt the chocolate, in a bowl, over a pan of simmering water. once melted pour over the clingfilm and spread into a thin even layer, place in the fridge to cool and set.

White Chocolate Buttercream
melt the white chocolate using the above method and set aside. beat half the icing sugar with the butter until smooth, continue beating in the sugar until all is combined and smooth. pour in the white chocolate and beat until well combined. If very thick then add a tsp of milk until at the required consistency. If too thin, add more icing sugar to thicken it.

Trim the cake and make it even so it doesn't lean to one side. On the bottom layer pipe or spoon a barrier of buttercream around the edge.
Spoon the compote into the centre, try and avoid lots of syrup and add mainly the strawberries. The remainder can be spooned over individual slices.
Place the second cake layer on top.
Apply a crumb coat of buttercream to the big cake and the little cake separately and place in the fridge to set for about 10 minutes.
Completely cover the big cake with butter cream and place the little cake on top and cover that as well.
Hull and half strawberries and attach around the cake and the top of the cake.
Slice the layer of set chocolate into shards and place around the top of the cake at angles.

Serve with the remainder of the compote.


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