Monthly Archives: March 2009

Focaccia

 

I had the day off work today so decided to try a recipe I had had bookmarked since I saw it on the Guardian website. Its a recipe from Nigel Slater, whose book Real Cooking i’ve just purchased (savory meal recipe coming later this week). I haven’t made bread since i was little and I used to make bread rolls with my Grandma. I was surprised how easy this was and how little time it took. I would urge you to try this if you have never made bread before, it’s simple, delicious and definitely worth the small amount of effort.

 

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My Grandmother’s Gingerbread Cake

This is a recipe that has been in my family for at least 50 years, yet I have never made, nor even tasted, the cake. The reason for this is because it was my Nana’s recipe and she passed away when I was just three. My Mum is an excellent cook but she says she has never been able to get it quite right. As it was Mothers day in the UK this past weekend I thought it would be nice to make as a treat for my Mum. This is a nice moist cake with a great ginger taste and its actually very easy to make. This was made last minute so there were a couple of extras I didnt have for the original recipe but it was still great without them.

Ingredients

170g Plain Flour

170g Wholemeal Flour

3 Generous Tsp Ground Ginger

1 Tsp Mixed Spice

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1 Tsp Bicarbonate Soda

Pinch of Salt

Pinch Cayenne Pepper (I didnt have any)

170g Butter

113g Caster Sugar

2 Generous Tablespoons Orange Marmalade

340g Golden Syrup

(plus an extra spoonful and some chopped stem ginger if you have it)

2 Eggs

1 1/2 Gills Milk (210 ml Milk)

1. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a whisk.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/woodwood/3376788862/

2. Melt the Sugar, Syrup, Marmalade, and Stem Ginger

3. In a separate bowl beat the eggs  and add the milk

4. Once melted add the syrup mixture to the dry and mix well, then slowly add the milk and eggs. The mixture will be very thin but thats fine.

5. Bake at 150c in and 8 inch square pan for 1hr until a toothpick comes out the middle clean.

We found the taste and texture of this cake only gets better over the days after its baked.

Lemon Yogurt Anything Cake

 

Originally this was going to be a blueberry yogurt cake as I had seen in made on Smittenkitchen.com recently. When I saw the price at the supermarket for the berries I decided to replace them with the frozen raspberries I already had. As this was only meant as a bit of an experiment with oil based cakes I didn’t really feel like spending £4 on the berries alone. I had only made an oil based cake once before (carrot) and I was not overly pleased with it. I found the taste lacking and frankly the texture was weird, spongey but not in a good way. This however was more successful, the taste was very fresh and fragrant and the texture didn’t seem so much of an issue this time round. Im leaning towards thinking that all oil cakes share a similar texture and that there is nothing wrong with it per se but its just something in not accustomed to.

 

 

Lemon Yogurt Anything Cake

Adapted from an Ina Garten Recipe found on Smittenkitchen.com

1 1/2 cups + 1 tblsp Plain Flour 
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Cup Plain Whole-Milk Yogurt
1 Cup plus 1 tblsp Sugar
3 Extra-large Eggs
2 tsp Grated Lemon Zest (aprox 2 lemons)
1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 Cups Raspberries, fresh (I would avoid frozen in the case of Raspberries)
1/3 Cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

 

 

1. Preheat the oven to 175c 350f. Grease a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 Loaf pan and line the base  with parchment paper and flour the pan.

2. Sift 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and in another bowl whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil.

3. Gently whisk the wet ingredients into the dry. Sprinkle the remaining flour over the berries and gently mix to coat the fruit (this is supposed to help the fruit from sinking but mine still did a bit) Fold the fruit carefully into the batter and then pour into prepared pan and bake for 50 + plus minutes until a cake tester comes out clean

 

 

4. Whilst the cake bakes put the remaining sugar and the lemon juice in a saucepan and cook until the sugar dissolves, then set aside.

5. Once the cake is done allow it to cool in the pan for 10 mintues before letting cool completely on a wire rack. Whilst cooling on the rack use a toothpick to make holes over the sides and top of the cake and then brush with syrup. Cool fully before eating.

 

 

In the ingredients list I suggest not to use frozen raspberries and the reason for this is that when you thaw the fruit it tends to not be in perfect form and is normally in quite a wet state, having been bashed around a bit. I think that because the fruit released more juice than it would have done had it been fresh the texture of the cake would be improved with fresh, although this is a complete hunch as I have only made this the once.

Dorie Greenspan’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

As part of my marathon baking weekend I tried out a new cookie recipe. I turned to the stand by of Dorie Greenspan’s mamouth book “Baking – From my Home to Yours”. I wanted a relatively simple choc chip cookie and so I chose Dorie’s “Best Chocolate Chip Cookie”. The recipe says it makes 45 but it made 60 for me. I only baked 30 of them and froze the shaped dough in the freezer so I can bake one when ever I fancy one.

 

  2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

  1 Tsp Salt

  3/4 Tsp Baking Soda

  225g Unsalted Butter

                             1 Cup Sugar                                                       

2/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar

 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

                                                                                                                                                      2 Large Eggs                                                                                 

340g Bittersweet Chocolate chopped into chips

             1 Cup Finely Chopped Pecans

 

1. Preheat Oven to 190c or 375f and line 2 baking sheets with Silpats or Parchment 

2. Whisk the Flour Salt and Baking Soda together 

3. In a stand mixer on medium beat the butter for a minute till smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes until well blended. Beat in the Vanilla then the eggs one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.

4. Reduce mixer to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only till incorporated 

5. With a rubber spatula mix in the nuts and chocolate

 

 

6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours

 

I froze these so they too close together to bake

I froze these so they too close together to bake

 

 

7. Using a rounded tablespoon measure put balls of batter on baking sheets leaving plenty of space, and bake one sheet at a time for 10-12 mins until the edges brown but the centre is just golden. Allow to cool on the sheet a minute or so then move to a cooling rack.

Homemade Marsmallows

Who knew you could make marshmallows at home, not me. To be honest i’d never thought about it but when I found a recipe in the “Baked – New Frontiers in Baking” book I was intrigued, enough so that I took the plunge and had a go. Do you know what, they are so easy to make and good too. So long as you are comfortable boiling sugar and you have a stand mixer your set. This weekend ended up being a big baking session. I had planned on making these marshmallows and some chocolate chip cookies (coming soon) but then my Mum attempted to subtlety suggest I make some red velvet cookies. I say she was subtle but when you find all the ingredients waiting for you the subtlety is kind of lost. So saturday I made the cupcakes and the cookie dough and then today i baked the cookies and made the marshmallows, quite a busy weekend.

 

 

Mint Chocolate Marshmallows, adapted from “Baked – New Frontiers in Baking”

12 Sheets Gelatin

2 Cups Sugar

1 Cup Light Corn Syrup

1 Tsp Mint Extract

1/4 Cup Corn Starch/Flour

1/2 Cup Confectioners Sugar

1/2 Cup Water

(as is often when using American cookbooks I come across ingredients that are either hard or impossible to find here in the UK. This time it was corn syrup. I therefore replaced the syrup with liquid glucose as its pretty much the same stuff just the plant used to derive the product is different)

 

1. Grease a 9×13 pan with shortening make sure to get into the corners and all the sides, mix the sugar and corn starch together and sieve in half to the pan and shake to coat then discard the rest.

2. Put the Gelatin in a medium bowl filled with cold water and a couple of Ice Cubes to keep it cold (can anyone explain why the need for ice cubes) set aside

3. In a medium saucepan gently mix 1/2 cup light corn syrup, sugar and water trying not to splash up the sides. Use a wet pastry brush to wash down the sides to make sure no sugar is on the side to avoid crystalisation. Put over medium high heat with a sugar thermometer clipped on the side

4. Fill another medium saucepan half full with water and place on the stove over medium low heat

5. Put the remaining light corn syrup in the bowl of your mixer with the whisk attachment in place.

6. When the sugar mixture reaches 220f ring out the gelatin mixture and discard the water. Place the gelatin back in the bowl and set over the simmering water and mix with a spatula until it melts. Once completely melted set the mixer on low pour in the gelatin and keep mixer on low.

7. When the sugar reaches 240f take off heat an turn the mixer up to medium for a minute and the slowly add the sugar syrup to the mixer, down the side avoid the whisk. When all the sugar is in turn the mixer to medium high for 5 minutes. Once the five minutes is up add the mint and enough coloring to achieve the desired shade. Now turn the mixer to high for a further minute.

 

 

 

8. Working fast add the mixture to your pan and try to smooth out (i would suggest using an oiled spatula, its sooo sticky) then sieve over the remaining sugar/corn starch mixture. Let set for at least six hours, it should come out the pan easily and can be cut easily with a pizza wheel. You could like me dip them in chocolate or leave them plain.