Sunday, 23 October 2011

Simple Victoria Sponge

I love watching food programmes,they're really the only thing I watch on tv anymore.One of my all time favourties has to be The Great British Bake Off which is unfortunately now finished.When I saw that a book had been realeased to accompany the series I knew I had to get it.I ordered it on Amazon and within a few days I was leafing through the hundreds of recipes choosing which to make first.
The book is packed full of recipes many of which are detailed and long.I normally love to challange myself with a more difficult recipe,but when I saw that the first recipe was for the perfect Victoria Sponge,I changed my mind.There is something about a Victoria Sponge that is so appealing.If made correctly,it's light,moist and most importantly declicious.
I followed the method exactly for this recipe,taking my time beating the butter and sugar and when folding in the flour.Even with taking extra care to do everything to the letter,this cake still comes together in no time.Before I knew it,the smell of a freshly baked sponge was wafting through my kitchen.Once cooled,I whipped some double cream until stiff.I spread one sponge with a generous amount of raspberry jam and then topped with the thick cream,and finally the second sponge.Dusted with icing sugar and the cake was complete.I couldn't wait to dig in and thankfully I wasn't dissapointed.The sponge combined with the cream and jam was just perfect.

225g butter,softened
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
225g self raising flour,sifted
1 tbsp milk

300ml double cream
30g icing sugar
Raspberry/Strawberry jam
Icing sugar,to finish

1.Preheat the oven to 180C.Grease and line the bases of two 20cm(8in)sandwich tins.
2.Beat the softened butter for a couple of minutes,until creamy and light in colour.Gradually add in the sugar and continue beating for 3 to 4 minutes until fluffy and light in colour.
3.Break the 4 eggs into a bowl with the vanilla extract.Beat briefly with a fork just to break the eggs up.Gradually beat the eggs into the butter and sugar mixture.If the mixture begins to look curdled add a tablespoon of the sifted flour and continue as before.
4.Take the previously sifted flour and sift again,this time over the sponge.Add the tablespoon of milk and fold these through the mixture,taking care not to knock out any air you have incorporated.
5.Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared tins and place in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes.The sponges are cooked when they are a good golden brown and spring back lightly when pressed.Insert a skewer into the middle cakes and make sure it comes out clean.
6.Allow to cool for a minute or two and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.Beat the cream with the icing sugar until quite stiff.
7.Once the sponges are cold,place one onto a serving plate.Spread with a generous amount of jam and then top with the stiffly whipped cream.Place the other sponge on top and finish with a dusting of icing sugar.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Chocolate Cake

I usually make it my business to never let it go any longer than one week before I post but unfortunately last weekend between one thing and another I just ran out of time.So this post is a little later than usual but trust me this cake is worth the wait ;)With the evenings getting shorter by the minute and the weather getting noticeably colder,this cake is comfort food personified.Three layers of moist,chocolaty sponge covered in a silky smooth chocolate ganache.
I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't easy to please when it comes to desserts,or anything sweet now that I come to think of it.But I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that this really is one of the nicest chocolate cakes I have tried so far.And believe me I've tried many.This sponge is so moist,with a slight fudgy texture and it offers a full on chocolate flavour.The ganache is thick and smooth and pairs wonderfully with the cake.One slice of this cake and I knew it was my new go to recipe for when I'm craving something chocolate.

This was the third recipe I've tried from Edd Kimber's new book The Boy Who Bakes and once again the book has delivered.I seriously recommend this book to anyone with an interest in baking-his recipes all look to die for and I'm sure I'll be trying out many more in the coming weeks.Although this cake may look like it took a long time,it was actually surprisingly easy.The ganache is also so simple to apply,I wouldn't say it took me more than 15 minutes to assemble the cooled cakes.

110 g unsalted butter,room temp.
110g plain chocolate(60-70%)
280ml boiling water
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
140 ml buttermilk
280g plain flour
2 Tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
340g soft brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs,lightly beaten

225g butter
285g plain chocolate(60-70%)
2 Tbsp golden syrup
240ml double cream
1.Preheat the oven to 180C(160C fan)gas mark 4.Grease and line three 20cm round cake tins with baking parchment,then grease the parchment too.Melt the chocolate in a microwave or in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water,making sure the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water.Set aside to cool slightly.Whisk the cocoa powder with the boiling water in a separate bowl.Whisk in the buttermilk and set aside.
2.Sift the flour,bicarbonate of soda and salt together into a bowl.In a separate bowl use an electric hand mixer to beat the butter,sugar,eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy,about 5 minutes.Beat in the eggs,a little at a time,beating until fully combined.With the mixer on low,pour the cooled chocolate down the side of the bowl and once fully combined,add a third of the flour mixture followed by half the buttermilk mixture.Repeat and then add the final third of the flour mixture.Divide equally among the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.Cool in the tins for 10 minutes before inverting onto wire racks to cool completely.
3.To make the ganache,melt the butter,chocolate and golden syrup in the microwave or heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water.Once melted and smooth,add the cream and mix to combine.Remove from the heat and allow to set until spreadable,about 15-20 minutes.If the ganache is not setting at room temperature you can refrigerate it,but watch carefully that it stays spreadable.
4.To assemble the cake,put the first layer of cake on a serving plate and spread the top with a layer of ganache.Then place the second layer of cake on top and spread this with a layer of ganache.Finally place the third cake layer on top and cover the whole top and sides of the cake with the remaining ganache.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Streusel Apple Pie

I don't know about you but I really feel Winter has arrived.I know that technically it's still Autumn but I'm a cold person by nature so I'm already really feeling the cold.There's so many things about Winter that I hate:the bitter cold,the dull,dark sky,the constant rain,the shorter days,the fact that one is almost completely confined to the house...the list is endless!But then again there are many things I love about Winter but the main one has to be Winter baking.I can't think of anything more inviting than spending my weekends trapped in my cosy kitchen working on an exciting new recipe.Personally I think Winter baking allows you to experiment with trickier recipes as I always seem to have a whole day to complete a recipe.
Apples are in season at the moment so for that reason I was searching around for an interesting recipe involving apples this week.I recently got Edd Kimber's new book The Boy Who Bakes and I spotted an interesting recipe comprised of a pastry base a cinnamon flavoured apple filling and a crumbly streusel topping.I spent most of my day working on this recipe from making the shortcrust pastry right down to the streusel topping.This by no means came together in a matter of minutes and if your looking for something quick to satisfy your sweet craving then this certainly isn't what you're looking for.But if your looking for something to spend your day slowly working through with a delicious rewarding result then this certainly fits the bill.The shortcrust base is just he right crumbly texture and isn't overly sweet.The apple filling is flavoured with cinnamon,ginger and nutmeg giving it that little extra something and the streusel topping is a lovely sweet finish to the pie.I would definitely recommend this for anyone looking to make an apple inspired recipe this week.

Shortcrust Pastry
125g unsalted butter,diced and chilled
200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
35-60ml ice cold water

Streusel Topping
140g plain flour
100g caster sugar
110g butter

For The Filling
1.3kg eating apples(granny smith)
1 tsp lemon juice
15g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 tbsps flour
pinch of salt
15g butter,small pieces

1.Begin with the shortcrust pastry.In a large bowl rub the butter into the flour and salt with your fingertips or using a pastry blender,until you have irregular breadcrumbs.Add half the water and mix until the mixture starts to come together,adding more water if the mixture is too dry.Place onto a work surface and using the heel of your hand,press and smear the dough across the work surface a few times,then gather it together and form into a flat round.Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.Alternatively this can be done using a food processor and then smearing across the work surface as mentioned above.
2.While the pastry is chilling make the streusel topping.Sieve the flour and sugar into a bowl and then rub in the butter using your fingertips.Gather the dough together then chill until needed.
3.Lightly flour the work surface and rolling pin,and roll out the chilled shortcrust pastry to fit a 23cm(9in) pie dish.Line with the dough and trim any excess leaving a 2.5cm overhang.Roll the excess pastry under itself to form the pie's edge.Crimp the pie's edge using your fingertips.Chill for 30 minutes.Preheat the oven to 200C(180C Fan)gas mark 6.
3.Line the prepared pastry shell with baking parchment and fill with a layer of baking beans or rice.Bake for 20 minutes.Remove the baking beans and baking parchment,then bake for a further 10 minutes or until the pie begins to turn golden.
4.To make the filling,peel,core and slice the apples,then put them in a large bowl with the lemon juice,sugar,cinnamon,nutmeg,ginger,flour and salt.Mix well.
5.Add the filling to the pastry shell and dot with the butter.Bake for 15 minutes,then open the oven reduce the temperature to 180C(160 Fan)gas mark 4.Break the streusel topping into little pieces and spread it across the top of the pie.Bake for another 45-50 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the pastry golden.Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes.