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Let them eat…JAM!

28 Oct

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I’ve been very busy in the kitchen this past month, not only baking but making jams, jellies and chutneys too. 

The crab apple trees have been laden with fruit and as a result I have been bottling crab apple jelly most weekends. The apple and pear trees have also had a really good season and so we have a cupboard full of chutneys too. 

However, it seemed like a good idea to try something a little different with all the cooking apples, as I was running out of ways to use them. Apple strudel, apple crumble, apple pie… mind you, the family have been quite happy about it! 

Some internet research led me to a Victorian recipe for spiced apple jam. I made up a batch and the results have been most impressive, so here is the recipe. I’m sure you’ll love it too.

3 kg sharp cooking apples (you’ll have about 2.7 kg by the time you’ve cleaned them up)
1.5 to 2 litres water
2 kg granulated sugar
Grated rind and juice of 3 unwaxed lemons
1 large cinnamon stick
a handful of cloves

METHOD

  1. Wash the apples and remove the stalks and cores,  then roughly chop them up. No need to peel.
  2. Pour over enough water to just cover the fruit.
  3. Add the lemon juice and grated rind, along with the cinnamon stick and cloves.
  4. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the fruit has broken down and become soft and pulpy.
  5. Press the pulp through a sieve and return the sieved pulp to the clean jam pan.
  6. Now add the sugar to the sieved pulp.
  7. Bring it gently to the boil, stirring all the time, to dissolve the sugar.
  8. Allow it to reach a rolling boil, and continue to boil until  it reaches 105 C, boiling rapidly for at least ten minutes.
  9. Test for setting on a cold plate – a little jam dropped on the plate should crinkle when pushed with a wooden spoon, and feel set fairly quickly. Continue to boil if not yet at setting point.
  10. When setting point is reached pour immediately into hot, sterilised jars. 

 

Bugby

29 Sep

My elder son has recently bought his first car. Soon after getting it home, his friend noticed the letters B and U and G in the number plate and so the little car has been named Bugby. It seemed appropriate that I mad a car themed cake for his birthday and so the challenge of the month was a Bugby cake. I first thought about sculpting the car shape from a number of square and rectangular cakes, but then I discovered a car-shaped mold on the internet and decided that it was worth the investment. It’s a great little cake tin and I think I’ll get a lot of use from it.

I made a bog standard beat and mix chocolate cake, my usual recipe which is always so successful. The first attempt however was a disaster. Despite greasing and spraying the tin, the cake refused to come out. It sat in the tin, clinging on to the sides until as a last resort I scraped it out with a spoon and ended up using the chucks as the base of a trifle..

It wasn’t just the car cake that was a disaster. I’d also made a round chocolate cake as we were expecting quite  a few guests, and as it was cooling, one foot of the cooling rack slipped off the kitchen counter and the entire cake slid, n slow motion, onto the floor…..

There was nothing I could do but start all over again and pretend it hadn’t happened. Car cake round 2 worked perfectly.

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Turned out beautifully! I used a little warm apricot jam to “glue” some pieces of foil into place to represent windows.

 
20130906_215624I used blue colouring to tint the butter cream and then piped rosettes onto the cake, covering every section except the tyres and the windows.

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Red gel icing for the tail lights and a little card “number plate”.

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A little gel icing for the head lights too…

20130906_222610I added some cocoa to a little plain butter cream for the tyres and for the hubcaps I used “Flying Saucers”. Yum.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd here I am with the finished product 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Romany Cream Tribute Biscuits

28 Aug

Any ex-pat South African in England will tell you that the sweets, the chocolates, the crisps (chips!) and the bubblegum are all so much better back there, out in the old country. Whether true or not is not for me to say. Nostalgia plays games with our taste buds, but I have to admit that Simba chips (never call them crisps – please!) Chappies bubblegum and Peppermint crisp chocolate bars have always been. to my mind (and tongue) unbeatable. And Tex bars, oh my! And Wicks. And Milo bars. And…and….the list goes on.

However, the pinnacle of Saffrican yumminess is the biscuits. The sort you buy in packets from the corner shop. I have fond memories of Lemon Creams, those square-shaped biscuits between which was sandwiched a layer of tart, lemony goodness. The trick was to pull the two halves apart, scrape off the bright yellow cream and eat that first, before dunking the biscuit squares into a cup of tea or coffee.

Up there on the Olympus of bought biscuits, however, is the Romany Cream. Why Romany? I have no idea and I’m sure whoever named them originally had no idea either as I can’t quite fathom the connection between chocolate, coconut and gypsies. But who cares when the combination is so delicious and so more-ish.

It’s possible to get Romany Creams here in England and occasionally I treat myself to a pack from my excellent local supplier of South African goodies. But the challenge was to make my own. Or at least something a bit like them. So here we are…Romany Cream Tribute Biscuits.

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INGREDIENTS

60 g pure cocoa
60 g drinking chocolate ( I used Nesquik)
110 ml boiling water
180 g softened butter
180 g self raising flour
180 g caster sugar
i teaspoon Baking Powder
pinch of salt
110 g desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla

FILLING

100 g plain chocolate – 70 % cocoa solids
30 g softened butter
10 g drinking chocolate

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C and line at least four large oven trays with baking paper.
  2. Dissolve the cocoa and drinking chocolate in the boiling water. Stir until the mixture is smooth a thick and leave to cool.
  3. Cream the butter and caster sugar and pale and light.
  4. Add the sifted dry ingredients and beat to combine.
  5. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and continue beating. (I used the food processor for this but will probably use the large Kenwood mixer and  K beater next time)
  6. Stir in the vanilla and coconut and combine thoroughly. Use a wooden spoon at this point as the mixture is dense and heavy. My food processor found it difficult to cope.
  7. Dip your hands in cool water and shake off the excess. Use your damp hands to shape small balls of mixture and flatten to approximate oval shapes using the back of a fork.

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Be sure to spread them out quite a bit as they will spread when they bake.

Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 12 – 15 minutes then leave to cool on a cooling rack while you make the filling.

 

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The finished biscuits are then sandwiched together with the cream filling. They were a lot less crunchy than the real thing (I may have to let them bake a little longer next time) but I think they tasted just like the Romany Creams of my dreams. Richly chocolatey and cocnutty too. Bliss.

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2012 in review

31 Dec

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

A Match made in Kitchen Heaven

16 Dec

I think I’ve just discovered another of those amazing combinations that go together so perfectly – the sharp flavour of lemons and the sweetness of blueberries.  A few weeks ago I tasted a shop-bought lemon and blueberry cake. It was a revelation. I decided I needed to come up with a recipe and I do believe I have. It’s gorgeous. And it couldn’t be easier.

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INGREDIENTS

230 g butter at room temperature
230 g caster sugar
230 g self raising flour
4 large eggs
2 lemons
100 g fresh, sweet blueberries

Preheat the oven to 180 C and grease a ring tin. I used a silicone mold on this occasion and it worked beautifully 🙂

METHOD

  1. Finely grate the zest from the lemons and then squeeze out the juice and set it to one side. You’ll need it later.
  2. Now throw everything except the blueberries into a food processor.
  3. Blitz it all together until smooth and creamy but flecked with the delicate strands of zest.
  4. When it’s all combined stir in the blueberries. Don’t over mix and don’t let the blueberries break up.
  5. Pour into the prepared tin or mold.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for between 30 and 45 minutes. Check for doneness with a skewer or toothpick and leave to cool a little on a wire rack.
  7. While the cake cools mix the reserved lemon juice with about 4 tablespoons of icing sugar and then spread this syrup over the still warm cake so that it soaks in and adds to the general gooeyness and yumminess of the cake.

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Squidgy Lemon Yumminess

28 Nov

OK, not the most technical description of a recipe, but the tray bake I made today is extremely lemony, is soft and squidgy and has that indefinable yumminess that is the hallmark of all great tray bakes (she says modestly) and so that’s what I’m calling it.

Basically, it’s our old friend, the Very Easy lemon drizzle cake. All the ingredients are slapped into a bowl and mixed together. Couldn’t be easier, really. But I’ve been thinking about tray bakes lately so decided to try it out in a shallow brownie tin rather than my usual style of making a loaf cake.

Why am I thinking about tray bakes? Because I have a birthday looming (not a big one, nothing special) and I need to take some cakes into work to share with my colleagues. There’ll be trouble if I don’t. Tray bakes are easy to make and easy to transport. Lemon drizzle is always popular  See where this is heading?

INGREDIENTS

225 g butter at room temperature
225 g golden caster sugar
250 g self raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons milk
2 lemons – grated rind for the cake, juice for the topping

TOPPING

150 g granulated sugar
juice of the 2 lemons

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C and grease and line a large brownie (tray bake) tin.
  2. Beat the softened utter for a few minutes then add all the other ingredients and beat until smooth and beautifully blended.
  3. Pour into the tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about 35 – 40 minutes. Test for doneness with a skewer, then leave in the tin, on a wire rack, to cool for a little while.
  4. Turn out on the rack and make the topping. Stir the sugar into the lemon juice until you have a smooth, pouring consistency, then spread over the top of the still-warm cake.
  5. When cool cut into squares and try to not snarf the lot in one go.

 

I’m still here!

6 Oct

Cakealogue has been a little quiet for a while and I apologise for the lack of new recipes and chit chat. It’s not that I haven’t been baking – I have! – but life has been so hectic of late I’ve had to relegate a few things to the back burner. And sadly, my blog is one of those things that got relegated. I blame the day job. Were it not for the fact that I actually have to work for a living I’d happily spend every morning in the kitchen, concocting ever more excitingly decadent dishes, and then every afternoon writing abut them and photographing them. With occasional breaks for shoe shopping. Hmmmm sounds like a lifestyle I could embrace.

Fortunately I have been keeping a record of the past few weekends bakeathons and any minute now they’ll begin to appear. Stick with me folks, Cakealogue is here to stay.

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