Archive | March, 2012

Gluten free cake

29 Mar

I chose this recipe for two reason.  Firstly, living in the northern hemisphere – oranges are in season and I love including fruit with baking.  Secondly, my mother’s favourite topic of conversation is anything to do with “gluten-free“.  So Mum, this recipe is for you.

It’s very simple and I haven’t put on any icing – so it isn’t pretty, but I really quite like it.  The recipe did suggest that on day 2, it tastes better and I must agree.  It’s just very simple and very tasty and not too sweet or too dry.

Orange Gluten-free cake

200 gr softened, almost melted, unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
6 eggs, separated
Grated zest of 2 unwaxed oranges, and juice of just half an orange
100 gr rice flour
250 gr caster / fine sugar
250 gr ground almonds

Preheat the oven to 160 C / 325 F.  Grease a 23 cm cake tin with the extra butter and line the bottom with greaseproof paper.

Whisk or beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then fold in the egg yolks, orange zest and orange juice.

In another bowl, mix the flour, sugar and almonds.  Fold the dry ingredients with the other mixture and then gently mix in the butter.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes.  Enjoy!


Easy Brioche loaf recipe

22 Mar

The first time I had brioche was in a very cheap hotel in the outskirts of Paris.  It was over 10 years ago and I just thought it was “fancy” toast and I ate about 6 slices every breakfast for the 4 days I stayed there.  I didn’t realise what I was eating until a few years later when a friend of mine introduced me to their “cake bread”.  Ah, that’s what it’s called.  We were both wrong, but right at the same time.

I looked at a few recipes as I was keen for eggy bread / french toast and brioche is the best way (“healthy” way, just how I like it) to enjoy a Sunday brunch at home.  Unfortunately, quite a few of the recipes I found were quite involved, included ingredients that I didn’t have and I’m a big fan of not leaving the house on a Sunday.  Then I found the below recipe.  It took about 5 minutes to get it into the oven.  A little crumbly once cooked – however I was trying to slice it while it was still warm and burning my hands, so if I allowed it to cool, I may not have had the same problem.

175 gr plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
175 ml crème fraîche
1 egg, beaten
30 gr caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
another egg or a little milk to glaze

Turn the oven on to 180 C / 350 F.  Grease a brioche tin or I just used a bread loaf tin, with butter.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and then stir in the crème fraîche.  Add the egg, sugar and salt and mix into a soft dough (I used my hands once it was all combined).  Place the mixture into the pre-prepared tin and glaze with another beaten egg or some milk and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Enjoy!

Peach Friands

15 Mar

I’m very happy to say that I’ve just discovered the wonders of friands, a close cousin to French financiers.  I had never heard of a friand before this week and I’m so glad I now know.

As I’ve mentioned in prior blogs, I have a bookshelf bulging with cookbooks and at the moment, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed with what to cook next.  I get easily distracted.  I have also bookmarked pages with pieces of paper, but looking at some cookbooks it seems that I have marked every single page.

In a bit of a state, I just gave a book to my partner and asked him politely (!!) in my panic to just chose one.  He chose the friands, even though I hadn’t marked it.  Don’t know how I missed that one.  Anyway, my partner is now to choose each recipe going forward until he elects a dud.

I think I will bake friands again, once its summer and an array of fruits are in season.  I used canned fruits in the below recipe, as I don’t like genetically engineered / unripe peaches.

100 gr unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the tins
100 gr white chocolate
230 gr desiccated coconut
345 gr icing / confectioners sugar
115 gr plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg whites
1 can sliced peaches, in their own juice (drained and cut into small cubes)

I used 12 mini loaf tins, but you can use a regular muffin tray or buy a friand tin.

Turn the oven on to 180 C / 350 F.

In a small saucepan, add the butter and chocolate and heat over a very low heat, stirring continuously.

In a large mixing bowl, sift in the sugar and flour and add the coconut, vanilla extract and the egg whites, which have been whisked lightly first.  Mix these ingredients together and add the butter and chocolate mixture.

Divide this mixture among the tins, filling just over half way and then drop the peaches on top.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 – 25 minutes.  Leave these to cool on a wire rack.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Layer Cake

7 Mar

 So it’s my partner’s birthday and for the first time ever, I’ve decided to bake him a birthday cake instead of buying one.  This is my first ever birthday cake and I am a little nervous.

I have been baking for a couple of months now, so I have learnt not to substitute ingredients ever (in these early stages until I understand the science) and to measure absolutely everything perfectly, so I’m hoping this cake will work out well.

I did ask my partner which cake he would like and of course, he chose the most difficult one I have in any of my cookbooks – which includes cutting 2 thin cakes into halves – mmmm.

I must confess, I did start baking this cake a little cocky.  Being a big fan of cooking shows and boring my partner endlessly with them (he has mentioned more than once that even hearing them gets him a little frustrated now, whoops), I have seen that these chefs easily crack an egg with one hand.  As they make it look really easy and I had to crack 3 eggs into the bowl with the egg beater on – so I thought I would give it a go.  Ah.  Yeah.  Not so easy.  I managed to crush an entire egg in my hand and drop some of the eggshell into the bowl.  Not a great start.  I had to quickly turn the egg beater off and out the shells before they were blended into the mix.  Probably should practise that one before doing it for real with a special birthday cake!

 Happy Birthday!

2 1/2 cups (375 gr) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
180 gr dark chocolate
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
3/4  cup (180 gr) butter
1 3/4 cups (150 gr) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (125 ml) plain yoghurt
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) heavy / double cream
3 tablespoons confectioners / icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (250 gr) raspberry jam
350 gr dark chocolate
3/4 cup (180 ml) sour cream
1 1/2 cups (225 gr) confectioners / icing sugar

Turn oven on to 350 F / 180 C.  Butter two 9 inch / 23 cm round cake pans.  Line with parchment paper and butter again.

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Melt the chocolate in the microwave (30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds stir, etc).  Set chocolate aside to cool.

Beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer / egg beater on medium speed until creamy.  Add the eggs, one at a time beating until just blended.  Turn the mixer / beater on low speed and slowly add the melted chocolate.  Then add the yoghurt and the dry ingredients.  Divide into the two pre-prepared cake tins.

Bake until cooked for 30 – 40 minutes.  Cool completely on cooling racks.

For the filling: with the mixer / beater on high speed beat all ingredients together until stiff.

For the frosting: Melt the chocolate using the same method as before.  Quickly stir in the sour cream and sugar, not allowing the mixture to cool too much as it will become stiff and difficult to spread.

Assembly: Cut the horizontally.  Place one layer on a serving plate.  Spread with one-third of the raspberry jam and layer of frosting.  Spread one-third of the cream.  Repeat with the remaining cake layers.  Top with a plain cake layer. 

Spread the top and sides with the remaining frosting. 

The cake didn’t last very long at the party in a London pub….Enjoy!

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 Mar

I only live with one person and that’s my partner.  Unfortunately, he isn’t much of a cake or dessert fan.  It’s not that he doesn’t like it; it’s just that he won’t eat much of it.  Since I have started this baking quest, I’ve had to constantly urge my partner to eat more cake, otherwise I will need to sign up to a triathlon, as the half marathon I’m currently training for won’t take care of the extra calories I’m consuming.

 This has been a constant battle, until this week.

 I finally found something that my partner has eaten willingly.  But, instead of eating one or two everyday, he has learnt from me and ate the entire batch of cookies in just two days.  I must admit, we both had our fair share when they first came out of the oven (as they did taste amazing warm, with gooey chocolate chips) but I was dreaming about them on the way home from work the next day, as you do.  But alas, they were all gone.  Not even one was left in the cookie jar the next day!  Gutted.

 Thankfully, they are very easy to make, so it won’t be any hassle to whip them up again – (I bought a new electric mixer as I didn’t want to make these by hand like I did with the cupcakes, and I’m in love, it’s the simple things…)

2 1/2 cups (375 gr) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (200 gr) softened butter
3/4 cup (150 gr) granulated / brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 gr) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (180 gr) dark chocolate chips – I used 75% cocoa content
1 cup (180 gr) white chocolate chips

Turn oven on to 180 C / 350 F.  Grease two baking sheets with butter.

Mix the flour, bicarb of soda / baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. 

In a large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars with an electric mixer until smooth & creamy.  Add one egg at a time and beat until just combined.

Turn the mixer onto a low-speed and add in the vanilla and then the dry ingredients.  Turn the mixer off.  Mix in the chocolate chips in by hand.

Scoop out one tablespoon of cookie dough and roll into a ball.  Drop onto the pre-prepared baking trays and make sure that each cookie is about 3 inches / 8 cm apart.  Bake in the oven for about 10 – 12 minutes or until the edges of each cookie is golden brown.  Allow to cool (or eat them after they have cooled for a minute or two, so good!).  Enjoy!

Cookies with a glass of milk