Saturday, May 23, 2009

Doesn't Time Fly?

I can't believe that it's a year since I started blogging but when I look back I began with Teenboy's birthday cake and here is this year's offering. Actually, I'm a bit late as the cake has been and gone so I can confidently say that it was a success!

I did have a long hard think as to what cake would go down well with a 16 year old and he was too busy with living to give a great deal of thought to it so I went with a recipe that I've been wanting to try, Nigella's Chocolate Guinness cake!

I just love the thought of chocolate and guinness together and the frosting on top makes it sound wonderful. It is also so easy to make which gives it the big thumbs up around here. If you haven't tried it do give it a go and don't worry if you haven't got easy access to guinness as I just used a Tasmanian stout which tasted pretty good! If you have a copy of Nigella's Feast you'll find the recipe there!

250 ml Guinness
250 g unsalted butter
75 g cocoa
400 g caster sugar
142 ml sour cream
2 eggs

1t tbsp real vanilla extract
275 g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the icing:
300 g Philadelphia cream cheese

150 g icing sugar
125 ml double or whipping cream
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180oc, butter and line a 23 cm springform tin
Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter gradually, and heat until the butter has melted. At which time, whisk in the cocoa and sugar.
Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the bicarb and flour.
Pour the cake batter into the greased, lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack as it is quite a damp cake.
Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar, then beat together. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of a pint.

Things have changed such a lot since I started this blog. I'm no longer a student but am working in community services as a family counsellor and loving it. However, it does mean that time is a little more hard to come by and Tuesday nights are a rush to finish work, get home, feed everybody, make next day's lunches and then get out to orchestra practice so imagine my delight when OH came home early and got this gastronomic feast ready for us all! He invented the curry recipe but I know that it contained Patak's Madras paste. The raita was his own and very delicious. I'm hoping that Tuesday nights will become a regular cooking feature for him!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

More Hearth Warming!

The gingerbread and wedges have disappeared and the tin is looking rather empty. The weather is still cool at night but we are having lovely autumn daytime temperatures with loads of sun. Well, that's the weather update! Now to refilling that tin!
Way back in February I got the yearning to do some yeast cookery and rootled around for a Chelsea bun or Lardy Cake recipe. However, when I came across this I knew that I just had to have a go. These are gorgeous, sticky, spicy and yummy so well worth repeating and they do fill the house with the most delicious aroma! May I present my
Swedish Cinnamon Rolls
50g melted butter
300ml warm milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
85g custard powder
500g strong flour
1pack/ 1 teaspoon dried yeast (7g)
150g brown sugar
2 heaped teaspoons cinnamon
50g room temp butter
50g Philly cheese
15g butter
100g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
A squeeze lemon juice
If your flour is cold put it in a bowl and either warm in the oven or give it a few seconds in the microwave. Then add the sugar, salt, custard powder and yeast and mix well together. In a jug mix together the melted butter, egg and milk and add to the dry ingredients. Knead until smooth and elastic. This is a really good way to burn the calories that you will take in from eating the buns or you could do it all in your mixer if you have a dough hook!
Cover the bowl with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 10-20 minutes.
Meanwhile mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. You could also add sultanas or raisins if you liked.
Knock back the dough and roll into a rectangle. Dot the dough with the softened butter and then sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon mix over. Roll the dough up into one long roll and seal the edges with a little milk. Don't roll the dough too tightly or the buns will pop up in their middles!
With a sharp knife, cut the roll into about 12 buns. They should be about 1 1/2 inches thick. Place in a lined tin (I use my roasting tin) so they are not quite touching and leave to rise for about an hour. They should now be doubled in size and just touching.
Bake for 15-20 mins at 180 degrees C until light golden brown and when you knock the bottom of the tin it sounds hollow.
To make the frosting beat together the Philly cheese, 15g butter, vanilla essence and lemon juice and then add the sieved icing sugar. Pour over the buns before they cool.
These are great with a cup of coffee or for a huge sugar hit, try hot chocolate!!
This should keep the wolf from the door while I get on with Teen Boys birthday cake!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Baking warms the home....

....and the hearts! It's turned into a really cold Autumn here or I'm really becoming 'Aussiefied' and finding temperatures that I once would have thought nothing of now shiveringly cold. Anyway, the coolness is a really good excuse to spend time in the kitchen baking and of course, warming the house!

This week I've used 2 recipes, one new and the other familiar but both had the house smelling wonderful. The new recipe is for a very dark and sticky gingerbread and comes all the way from Scotland from Rita who spends some of her time on Violet's Pantry, the foodie forum where I also hang out. This recipe is from her mother and is so easy that I love it! The gingerbread turns all glossy and sticky overnight and I have the feeling that it won't last long!

Very Dark and Sticky Gingerbread

Melt the following ingredients-: 1/2 pint of milk 5ozs dark soft brown sugar 2tbsp treacle 2tbsp syrup 4ozs butter/marg

Cool until barely warm then add

2 beaten eggs and then

1/2lb S.R Flour 1/2 teasp bicarb. soda 1tbsp each ginger, cinnamon, and mixed spice and a pinch of salt.

This makes one 2lb and one 1lb loaf, line the tins.

Bake for 75 mins @ gas 4/ 180c / 350f

This is even better if you can resist cutting it for a day or two.

Now, these Mincemeat Wedges are absolutely wonderful and hit the mark when I fancy a mince pie but don't want to be making pastry. I got the recipe from Maria, who is one half of the inspiration behind Sweet and Simple Bakes, the monthly baking challenge that I try to join in with. If you want to find inspiration for loads of lovely bakes then do go to her blog, the link is up on the right hand side, just look for The Goddess's Kitchen. It's a wonderful place to go and drool too!
Mincemeat Wedges
Makes 12
225g/8oz/2 cups self-raising wholemeal flour
75g/3oz/6 tbsp unsalted butter, diced
75g/3oz/⅓ Demerara sugar
1 egg, beaten
115g/4oz/ ⅓ cup good quality mincemeat
6oml/4 tbsp milk
crushed brown or white sugar cubes or a mixture, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6. Line the base of a 20cm/8in round sandwich tin and lightly grease the sides. Put the flour in a bowl, add the diced butter and rub in with your fingertips just until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.Stir in the Demerara sugar, egg and mincemeat. Add enough milk to mix to a soft dough. Spread evenly in the prepared tin and sprinkle generously with the crushed sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes until firm and golden. Cool in the tin, then cut into wedges to serve.
The smell in the house is almost festive and has me really looking forward to the long weekend that we're taking the kids on in July when we hope to do Christmas in July in a fantastic mountain lodge at Turon Gates, but I'm sure you'll hear more of that as time goes on!