This is my first entry into the Forever Nigella challenge created by Maison Cupcake and I'm just squeezing it in before the April challenge deadline ends. The theme for this challenge was 'Street Party' and is being hosted by Mardi at the lovely Eat Live Travel Write blog. I thought that Nigella's book Feast would be the perfect choice as it covers food for all kind of celebratory events. As we were having a little party for a certain wedding on Friday I decided to make her recipe for 'Love Buns' to celebrate William and Kate's big day. The recipe can be found here on nigella.com. The topping on these cakes is like a pillowy cloud of marshmallow - very indulgent. So the cakes got eaten, the Pimms got drunk and we partied for the new Duke & Duchess of Cambridge!
Saturday, 30 April 2011
Saturday, 23 April 2011
I'm not going to lie, I was a bit gutted when I saw this month's We Should Cocoa Challenge set by Choclette. The secret ingredient for April is marzipan. I loathe marzipan - the flavour, the smell, everything! However the key word in the title is 'challenge' and I was determined to try baking with it - maybe it would change my mind about the evil almond paste. I trawled the internet to find a recipe which combined marzipan and chocolate and eventually came across this one for Spanish Vanilla Cake on cooksunited.co.uk. I was with Mr CB when buying the ingredients - I didn't realise that he too has a shared dislike of marzipan, even commenting that he couldn't have a packet in the house. He is prone to exaggeration so I did ignore this comment and buy it anyway!
I ordered a bundt tin specially for this cake but it unfortunately hasn't arrived yet so I had to make do with a normal springform tin. I really like the fact that this mixture was so light due to the beaten egg whites and it does result in a great springy cake. It is very similar to those little madeleine type cakes you get in bags in Spanish (a clue in the name of the cake maybe?!) supermarkets - a little bland but strangely moreish at the same time. I would prefer this cake without the marzipan - while the flavour isn't overpowering it is definitely there. Mr CB however did manage a whole slice....
1 vanilla pod
6 eggs, separated
150g plain flour
60g dark chocolate, roughly chopped + extra for decorating
1. Grease a springform tin and preheat the oven to 190c.
2. Whisk the marzipan with half of the sugar, the scraped out vanilla seeds, salt, egg and 6 egg yolks. Stir until creamy.
3. Beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar until stiff and fold into the mixture.
4. Sieve the flour and cornflour over the batter and fold in. Finally fold in the chopped chocolate.
5. Pour the dough into the tin and bake for 60 minutes.
A while ago I made a tart from a recipe I found in a weekend supplement. It was part of an extract from the Popina Book of Baking. I was looking in my local bookshop this morning and came across the actual book. I loved the recipe I'd already tried and after a quick flick saw about 5 other recipes I immediately wanted to try so I now have the full book. I didn't realise that Popina started out with a grant from the Prince's Trust and a stall on Portobello Market. It is a gem of a book and when I read how it all started I'm even more pleased I bought it.
This recipe is for the most delicious, moist, not too sweet muffins, perfect for breakfast or mid morning and pretty healthy too. I'm a bit obsessed with spelt at the moment - flour, pasta, bread - as I love the flavour.
The recipe can be found in Popina Book of Baking.
Sunday, 17 April 2011
This recipe is for Dom at Belleau Kitchen's Random Recipe challenge. The challenge this month states that a random recipe must be cooked from your first ever cookbook. I unfortunately don't have my first one still which was, I think, The Usborne Beginner's Cookbook. I'm really disappointed about this as there is a fair chance I would have spent this morning making my favourite Chocolate Cornflake cakes! I had a look on my bookshelf and after some deliberation decided that my oldest book on there is Eat Drink Live by Fran Warde, which was given to me by a friend many years ago.
I admit that to get a baking recipe it took a few random openings but on the third attempt I came to the Sultana Scones page. While I know this isn't the most exciting thing to bake I was actually really pleased as I've never made scones before. It was also quite appropriate as I know Dom is currently looking for the perfect scone recipe so he triumphs at his village fete competition. Mine are certainly not perfect - they are a bit heavy which I think was due to over kneading. They wouldn't make the afternoon tea bill at Claridge's - they reminded more me of the type served at Watford Gap Services! So I think more practice is necessary but the clotted cream and jam certainly elevated them up a level....
On a final note, I was wondering what the correct pronunciation of scone is - I'm in the minority that I say scone as in cone rather than scone as in con. I thought this poem I found online summed it up nicely:
"I asked the maid in dulcet tone
To order me a buttered scone
The silly girl has been and gone
And ordered me a buttered scone."
500g self raising flour
125g butter, diced
300ml milk, plus extra for glazing
1. Preheat the oven to 220c/Gas 7. Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour.
2. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, then rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sultanas.
3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk. Mix with a round-bladed knife until the mixture is soft and spongy.
4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes until smooth. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 2.5cm. Use a 6cm biscuit cutter to cut out 6-8 rounds. Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk
5. Put on the baking sheet and cook for 10-12 minutes.
Sunday, 10 April 2011
Last week I got a lovely surprise email from Nessa at Nessa's Family Kitchen to say I had won a set of butterfly cookie cutters in the prize draw she ran to celebrate her Irish Blog Award (Best Newcomer Award). Big congratulations to Nessa for her well deserved award! So my parcel arrived with the cutest cookie cutters and I wanted to use them straight away. These biscuits are a bit of fun really - I'm certainly not going to win any prizes for my icing skills! - but I thought they were very spring-like and the fact I made them on this sunny day also added to that theme.
For the actual biscuits I used a basic biscuit recipe from none other than The WI Book of Biscuits which my Mum has had since I was little. While leafing through the book I noticed that all the WI members in the village had written their names by their favourite biscuit recipe which I guess was their speciality bake. I wonder if you dared to bake someone else's recipe was it baking sheets at dawn?! I managed to find an unclaimed recipe - it is actually one for 'Alphabet Biscuits' which I've adapted for these butterfly versions. I iced them with some thick royal icing with a little bit of red, yellow, blue and green food colouring added in for the pastel shades.
225g plain flour
50g caster sugar
1/4 tspn cinnamon (I didn't put this in mine)
pinch of salt
1 tbspn water
1. Preheat oven to 180c.
2. Rub the butter into the flour to the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, salt and water and knead the dough.
3. Roll the dough out thinly and cut with biscuit cutters.
4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes then allow to cool before icing.
Saturday, 2 April 2011
Happy Mother's Day to my Mum and all those other Mums out there for tomorrow! This Chocolate and Banana Cake hasn't been made because I'm obsessed with recipes with featuring the yellow fruit, despite the fact that previous recipes might indicate otherwise! I've chosen to make it as I heard about an initiative Breakthrough Breast Cancer are running for Mother's Day. This amazing charity has linked up with the author Jane Green to release a free downloadablerecipe book to encourage people to get cooking for for their Mums. The recipe book is definitely worth a look with some great things to cook (I'm particularly liking the sound of Moroccan Chicken with Tomatoes and Saffron Honey Jam). All the recipes in the booklet come from Jane Green's new novel The Love Verb. If you don't know her books, Jane is one of those writers who manage to write unputdownable, miss your train stop, type of page turners. This book is based on when she nursed her best friend through breast cancer and helped her family by cooking for them. Her friend very sadly lost her fight.
I obviously wanted to a baking recipe so chose this cake - I've never tried the combination of chocolate and bananas together in a cakes and was a little sceptical, as was Mr CB, but he proclaimed the recipe a success - just have to see what my Mum thinks now!
175g plain chocolate (I used Green & Blacks 70% Dark)
225g unsalted butter
220g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
100g plain + 2 tbsp (the measurements are converted from US so I meant to weigh the total g but forgot)
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 ripe bananas, mashed
Cream Cheese Frosting:
300g cream cheese
150g icing sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1. Preheat oven to 180c. Grease and line a loaf tin.
2. Melt the chocolate, either in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually mix in the eggs.
3. Mix the dry ingredients together and mix into the beaten mixture. Add the bananas and melted chocolate and combine well.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45 mins - 1 hour.
5. Once cooled, spread the cream cheese frosting over the top. Make the frosting by mixing the 3 ingredients together well.