Thursday, 26 April 2012

Birthday cakes- Rocky road cake and coffee and walnut.

It was my 25th birthday last weekend and thought I would make not one, but two birthday cakes. Becoming quite a collector of cookbooks, I initially found it quite difficult to chose a recipe to bake. I finally decided on baking a rocky road cake from Lorraine Pascale's home cooking made easy. Although Ms Pascale describes the cake as "a very naughty rocky road cake", there was actually no pictures on how this cake should look. However, I was aware most rocky road cakes/tray bakes would contain lots of naughty ingredients like marshmellows and chocolate drops. I did substitute some of the recommended ingredients such as digestive biscuits for a mars bar- very random but I forgot about the biscuits and had my eye on a mars bar so I used that instead.
Here is how my very naughty rocky road cake turned out:

It was very over the top, lots of excess of naughty ingredients and very rich - I loved this cake! I would strongly advise making this cake for children as it contains lots of sweet treats.

My second birthday cake I made myself was a coffee and walnut cake from the first series of the Great British bake off. The book for series one is called The Great British Book of Baking, and is currently available from WH Smith online for £6. Coffee and walnut cake is my second favourite cake after chocolate cake, and I decided to use another recipe besides my blueprint from Nigella's Kitchen book. I'm glad I took a chance as I prefer how the cake turned out, and have to admit it is slightly better than Nigella's version. I used my heart shape tins again and liked the way my coffee and walnut cake turned out.

Recipe for rocky road cake
Oil, for oiling
125g butter, sofetened
50g mascarpone
5 eggs
165g self-raising flour
40g coco powder
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g mini marshmallows, plus extra 10g to decorate
60g maltesers, plus extra 20g to deocrate
60g digestive biscuits or rich tea crushed
60g white chocolate chips, plus extra 20g to deocrate
2-3 tbsp milk or water

200g butter
400g icing sugar
3tbsp milk
100g dark chocolate
60g creme fraiche

2*20 cm round sandwich tin.

Preheat the oven to 180c, Gas Mark 4. Oil the base of the tins with a little oil and line with grease proof paper or baking parchment.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the mascarpone and stir through a little, then add half the flour and beat well for a couple of minutes until well combined. Fold in the marshmallows, maltesers, crushed biscuits and chocolate chips. If the mixture looks a little stiff, add the milk or water and mix together.

Divide the cake mixture between the tins and bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes are cooked and spongy to the touch when pressed lightly with a finger.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Put the butter in a large bowl and beat very well, then add the icing sugar and milk and mix well. Gradually add the melted chocolate, stirring all the time, then fold in the creme fraiche until well combined. Set aside.

Once the cakes are ready, take the tins out the oven and leave to cool. When completely cool, take them out of the tins. Put a blob of the icing onto a serving plate and place the cake on top of the icing. Now spread some icing over the cake and place the other sponge on top. Spread the rest of the icing over the whole cake to cover. Scatter the extra marshmallows, malted chocolate balls and chocolate chips over the top and sides of the cake and serve.


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Prosciutto, mozzarella and fig pizza

From the onset I must declare I did not use fig, due to me already having a packet of dates in the cupboard and me wanting to use the dates, instead of buying the figs. Anyway, this recipe comes from the wonderful Lorraine Pascale's Baking made easy - my core baking book and is very easy to make. Once you make the the pizza dough, which is easy, this pizza is fairly simple. If you do not have the time i'm sure ready made pizza dough would work just as well.
The tomato base is lovely and fresh, and the three core ingredients I used - prosciutto, mozzarella and dates all added a different flavour to the pizza. I'm sure you can substitute the topping ingredients to what you have in the cupboard. Here is how my pizza turned out.

For all pizza lovers this is the recipe for you prosciutto pizza
P.S it is helpful if you purchase a pizza tray, and to ensure the pizza base is round, I place a bowl over the rolled dough to make sure the pizza is in a circular shape.


Monday, 9 April 2012

Chocolate fudge cake.

Happy Easter! I was initially going to make a low fat weight watchers fruit crumble for the Easter weekend, but this did not go down well with my family. I then decided on making on a chocolate based dessert/pudding as this seemed more fitting with the Easter celebrations. I was given a cook book on my last placement called "one ingredient four ways" and decided on making the chocolate fudge cake (p.171) as the cake looked very gooey and rich. I have noticed there is a typing error for the recipe, as the recipe stipulates a serving four, but there is enough to serve 12.
Here is how my cake turned out
The 11 mini chocolate eggs represents Jesus's true disciples. The cake is very rich, gooey and perfect for chocolate lovers a la moi.
Recipe for chocolate fudge cake:
176g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing.
175g golden caster sugar (I used ordinary caster sugar)
3 eggs beaten
3 tbsp golden syrup
40g ground almonds
175g self-raising flour
40g coco powder
225g plain chocolate (I used a combination of milk and dark)
55g dark muscovado sugar
225g unsalted butter, diced
5tbsp evaporated milk (I used semi-skimmed milk)

Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4). Grease and line the bases of two 20cm/8 inch sandwich tins.
To make the icing, place the chocolate, muscovado sugar, butter and evaporated milk in a heavy based sauce pan. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until melted. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until spreadable.
For the cake, place the butter and caster sugar in a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Stir in the golden syrup and ground almonds. Sift the flour and coco powder into a separate bowl, then fold into the mixture. Add a little water, if necessary, to make a dropping consistency.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until springy to the touch and a skewer in the centre comes out clean.
Leave the cakes in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. When the cakes are cold, sandwich them together with half the icing. Spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the cake, swirling it to give a frosted appearance.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Review - Nigella Lawson Feasts

As i've stated many times before, I discovered Nigella's cooking pretty late in life (only last year). In my defence, I was only 11 when she brought out How to Eat, and not many 11 year olds would want to read a cooking manual. However, I have fallen in love with her Feasts cookbook. Having purchased this book way back in January, I promptly wrote a to cook and too bake list. There are pictures of the recipes on almost every page and the book is sorted out in sections of Feasts such as a chapter on Christmas feasts, chocolate feast and even funeral feasts.
 Some have turned out and looked delicious such as the lamb maharja and crunchy pork chops. Whilst some have been an absolute dissapointment (Georgian roast chicken and rigatoni al forno, I did use taglitelle for the latter). Although the majority of the recipes in this book serve 6-8 plus more for some, I had no problems reducing the quantities to suit 2 or so servings. Some of the pictures of the dishes based on feast have previously been mentioned in my other posts, where as some haven't.
Chocolate Guinness cake- lovely, moist and rich. This cake was very easy to make and one of the most well known chocolate cake from Nigella's feasts cookbook. The recipe can be found here: Chocolate guinness cake.

Crunchy pork chips- another easy to make dish, I also made the garliky spinach and tomato salad to go alongside this lovely dish (p.345).
Finger lickin ribs (p.150), this recipe is quite similar to the ribs that are featured in Nigella's Forever Summer and Kitchen cook book. I marinaded the ribs for several hours before cooking. Another successful dish.
Lamb maharja (p.324), this dish is featured as a prat of a curry feast. I attempted to also make the aloo gobbi, which was a healthy accompaniment to this curry feast.
Old fashioned chocolate cake (p.269).  So luscious, rich and indulgent. I added the strawberries to add 1 of my 5 a day lol. Recipe can be found here: old fashioned chocolate cake.

One pan sage and onion chicken and sausage bake with potato grating and broccoli. I must admit not the most appealing dish, but it tasted lovely. The recipe can be found here: Sage and onion chicken and sausage bake.
One of my favourite feast dishes. Pasta with ham and peas (p.244) so rich (I substituted cream for cream fraiche) - A must for any pastaholic.

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