Baklava

1 Apr

If you want to impress your guests look no further than this¬†embarrassingly¬†easy Baklava recipe ūüėČ

It has the look and the flavour of the authentic stuff and I promise you it is really easy to make. Only you need to set aside some time, don’t rush it.
20130329_170312INGREDIENTS

250 g filo pastry (find it in the chiller cabinets of larger supermarkets Рabout £1.50 for this quantity)
100 g shelled pistachio nuts
100 g walnuts
250 g butter (you may need more)
250 g caster sugar
cinnamon, rose water, vanilla pod Рall these are optional but can be used to add a lovely fragrance
juice of half a lemon

METHOD

Place the¬†nuts¬†in a food¬†processor¬†and blitz until chopped. You don’t want them too finely¬†ground. Alternatilvely, place in a freezer bag and bash the daylights out of them with a rolling pin.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHeat the oven to 180 C.

Place  the butter in a microwaveable dish and  microwave until melted.

Unroll the filo and cut the sheets in half. Brush a square oven proof dish or tin with butter and place one sheet of filo on the base, folding it to fit.

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Brush this sheet with more melted butter.

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Continue brushing and folding until half the pack of filo is used up.

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Now sprinkle on the chopped nuts and spread across the filo in a flat, dense layer.

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Continue as before with the filo and melted butter until you have used it all.

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Take a very sharp knife and carefully score diamond shapes int the pastry  Do this by first scoring straight parallel lines, then diagonal lines.

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Pop the baklava into the oven for 30 to 50 minutes depending on your oven. Keep an eye on it. It will puff up a little and turn golden. Remove from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, make the syrup.

Place the sugar in a saucepan with 250 ml tap water and the juice of half a lemon. Add a few drops of rose water or a sprinkle of cinnamon or a vanilla pod if you wish. Or all of these flavourings together Рwhy not? Bring to the boil and leave to bubble gently for about fifteen minutes until thickened and syrupy.

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Pour the syrup over the Baklava and leave to set. Enjoy cut into tiny diamonds with a cup of strong coffee.

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A challenge – Toblerone Cake!

1 Apr

The challenge was – Can you make a giant Toblerone cake? ¬†Challenge accepted ūüôā Here it is…

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This is how I went about it.

Firstly I made a dense chocolate loaf cake.

INGREDIENTS

75 g softened butter
175 g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
140 g self raising flour
85 g ground almonds
100 ml milk
4 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder
50 g chopped nougat
50 g slivered almonds
50 g dark chocolate chips

METHOD

  1. Heat the oven to 180 C and grease and line a 900 g loaf tin (2 lb size)
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients except the almonds, nougat and choc chips.
  4. When nicely combined stir in the remaining ingredients.
  5. Scrape into the tin and bake until risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  6. Leave in the tin to cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. Wrap in cling film (around the tine as well) and pop into the freezer for about four hours. This makes the cake easier to cut to shape.

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When the cake has firmed up remove from the tin and remove the paper. Slice the top flat and turn upside down. ¬†Now using a sharp, serrated knife,¬†carefully¬†carve down both of the long sides to create a Toblerone shape. Don’t go all the way to the bottom – it needs a “platform” to sit on.

Now cut straight down at 2 cm intervals to create the typical chunks of a Tolerone bar. Gently remove the bits you cut out – again don’t go all the way down. You don’t¬†want¬†to separate the pieces from the base. The bits you cut oout will be eaten quite quickly by ravenous on-lookers…

One you’re happy with the shape, melt a large slab of milk chocolate cake covering and pour it all over the top. Use a pastry brush to scrape up the puddles and keep topping it up until the cake is completely covered. Leave it to set.

20130329_162813Cut around the base to remove the cake from the chocolate puddle and give it a nice straight edge. Place on a serving platter.

You¬†could stop now or you could do what I did and go a bit mad. I copied the Toblerone logo onto some¬†light yellow¬†card to¬†make¬†a giant box and placed it so that the cake appeared to have come out of the box. ¬†It looked particularly cute when I placed a “real” Toblerone alongside ūüôā

Enjoy!

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Bannoffeetellacheesecake!

24 Mar

This time the challenge came from my younger son, Peter, who dreamed up the idea of the  ultimate combination of all his favourite things in one cake. Bannoffee pie meets cheesecake meets Nutella. What could I do? Obviously it had to be attempted.

Bannoffeetellacheesecake

Bannoffeetellacheesecake

 

After three months of not baking or even eating anything cake-like I wasn’t even tempted to lick out the bowl or my fingers as I proceeded, so I’m pleased¬†with¬†myself¬†twice over. Firstly for accepting and¬†executing¬†the challenge, and secondly for having one small¬†slice¬†of the¬†finished¬†product¬†and not feeling inclined to pig¬†out¬†on any more.

To make this overindulgent concoction I started with a biscuit base, using about twenty amaretti biscuits, finely¬†crushed¬†and mixed with 50g melted butter. Spread this onto the base of a 23 cm round springform tin and bake for about ten minutes at 180 C to set and crisp up the base. Here’s a little tip – wet your hands under cold running water, shake off the excess then use your cool, damp hands to spread and flatten the biscuit crumbs. Much¬†easier¬†than the back of¬†a¬†spoon.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes while you prepare the cheesecake filling.

Place 500 g  of Philadelphia (or similar cream cheese) into a blender along with a big blob (about 100 g ) of Nutella, three eggs, 170 ml soured cream, 3 Tablespoons self-raising flour and 175 g golden aster sugar, and whizz until smoothly blended.

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When the base is cool. slice 2 large bananas and place on top of the crumb base.

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Then spread half a tin of caramel over the bananas. Keep the remaining half to use later.

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Now pour on the smoothly delicious cheesecake mixture. it will be rather runny at this stage. Carefully place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Keep an eye on it. You want it too be set in the middle but not dried out.

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Leave to cool on a wire rack.  Make sure it is completely cool (I left mine overnight) before decorating . Spread the remaining half tin of caramel on top of the cooled cake. Swirl in a bit of Nutella if you wish, or just finish with a big blob of the stuff. Slice another large banana, sprinkle it with lemon juice to preserve its colour, and use the slices to decorate the top of your cheesecake.

Probably best eaten on the day. I’m not sure how¬†well¬†this will keep – it will probably go a bit gooey. It’s rich and decadent and a little goes a long way, but my sons and their friends gave it the thumbs up, and that’s all that matters.

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“Poor is the pupil who does not exceed his master,”… Leonardo

3 Mar

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The eagle-eyed among you will have¬†noticed¬†a lack of Cakealogue posts of late. It’s true, I’ve not done any baking¬†since¬†the end of December. And I’ve not done any thinking about baking either. The reason is simple – I realised, ¬†towards the end of 2012 that I had¬†gained¬†a lot of weight. I was looking like a¬†hippo¬† Action was required and that meant changing the way I ate. Sadly it also meant no baking – at least for a few months.

My family and regular cake testers have been supportive because they have seen the transformation. At least it’s the start of the transformation. I¬†have¬†some way to go yet.

But as I write this I am smugly aware that there’s 12kg less of me than there was on the 31st December 2012. Hopefully, by the middle of May another 12 kg will have gone. For good.

Baking, much as I love it, was doing me no favours. It’s not that I even eat what I bake! It’s the tasting and the testing along the way that did it.

The Cakefans have been reassured though, that I will bake over the Easter holidays when the university bunch are back in town. In fact this year’s Cake challenge has already been set and accepted, so watch this space. A friend has suggested I blog about losing weight – a sort of Slimalogue – and I might just do it. Unless anyone thinks it’s a horribly¬†boring¬†topic to read about…

Meanwhile, the pans and measures at Cakealogue Towers have been in action once again. My elder son wanted to bake a cake as a treat for his lovely girlfriend, and so, under my watchful eye, he mixed, baked, decorated and presented a¬†superb¬† ¬†chocolate ¬†cake. He used my Beat and Mix easy peasy¬†chocolate¬†cake recipe,¬†substituting¬†dark molasses sugar for regular caster sugar, which¬†resulted¬†in deep, dark, caramelly splodges. He sandwiched the two¬†halves¬†with¬†Nutella and then topped it with butter cream into which he’d mixed cocoa powder and ¬†another spoonful of Nutella.

The result looked stunning. And apparently it tasted gorgeous too. But I have to rely on reports because I didn’t get to try it!

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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.

Marvellous Marzipan Mince Pies

23 Dec

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Mmmm, it’s that time of year again, when the whole house smells of delicious things baking in the kitchen. Mince pies really evoke the season with their boozy fruitiness and aromatic spiciness. I like to make my own and serve them warm from the oven. Of course, when I say “make my own” I mean the cheat’s version. I could make the mincemeat – indeed I once did – and I could make my own pastry, but¬†really¬† life’s too short. And anyway, the supermarkets¬†do¬†such a fantastic selection of¬†Christmas¬†mince it would be rude not to buy it.

This year I tried two quite spectacular bought  mincemeats and used both in my marzipanned versions of the pies  The result is yummy and more-ish.

Lots of mincemeat varieties are available but these two really impressed this year. At Sainsbury I found a jar of “Taste the Difference” ¬†mincemeat made with cassis. The alcohol gives it quite a deep pinky-red colour and it has a sweet/sharp jamminess. ¬†And at Waitrose,¬†their¬†standard, non-posh variety has such a wonderful citrus and spice flavour I feel I could eat it straight from the jar by the spoonful.

To make my Mavellous Marzipan Mince Pies, here is what you need.

INGREDIENTS

Ready to roll pastry Рpuff or short crust, any type works well
A jar of Christmas mince
A little marzipan Рthe leftover bits from your Christmas cake are ideal
A little ready-to-roll icing – again, use the leftover bits from the cake

Heat the oven to 190 C

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  1. Cut out twelve rounds of pastry using a plastic tumbler or food preparation ring.
  2. Use them to line a twelve hole shallow muffin tin.
  3. Place¬†teaspoonfuls¬†of mince in each pie. Don’t be tempted to put too much in and resist the feeling that you are being mean. You’re not. A¬†teaspoon¬†is enough. Any more and it will bubble up and make a sticky gooey mess that makes cleaning your tin impossible.
  4. Now top each mound with a blob of marzipan.
  5. Roll out the icing and cut stars or snowflakes using a cutter.
  6. Top each marzipan blob with an icing shape.
  7. Place the muffin tray in the preheated oven and bake for no more than 15 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool a little before sprinkling with icing sugar (not essential) and enjoy with a cup of tea.

 

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Pink Snowflake Cake for Christmas

16 Dec

This year’s cake is a traditional fruit cake because I plan to make something different next week for the anti-fruitcake lobby within the family. My original plan for the icing was a poinsettia theme, but I couldn’t¬†resist¬†using the cute little snowflake cutters ¬†bought last year. So snowflakes it is. But with some added bling. Pink bling ūüôā

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