Archive | November, 2012

Lemon bars

19 Nov

my efforts to write weekly updates have lapsed ever so slightly. but i would like to add these little treats were baked last week, so I got the bake in, just not the write up. i had lots of lemons but wasn’t in the mood for a drizzle cake… so lemon bars it was.

a delicious shortbread base, with a sort of baked lemon curd topping, a straight take from joy of baking but with my ‘learnings’ added.

160g plain flour
35g golden caster sugar
135g butter

preheat oven to 175C. beat the butter and sugar with an electric whisk, then add the flour and whisk through the breadcrumb stage, until it’s just coming together, then turn out on a board, bringing the dough together with your hands and incorporating the final floury bits with a few kneads/turns of the dough.

You are then supposed to flatten it by hand in the tin (20cm x 20cm), but I rolled it out between 2 sheets of baking parchment (just bigger than the tin size), then lifted it into the tin and squished down any excess, and pushed the dough into any empty corners – much fewer sticky fingers. put in the pre-heated oven (175degC). bake til pale golden, approx 18-20mins. fyi- these quantities are a departure from the original recipe – the base on that rolled out very thin, and was a bit crumbly to serve, so I’ve up-ed it by 1/5.

2 eggs, beaten
180g golden caster sugar
zest and juice of 2 lemons
2tbsp plain flour

beat sugar and eggs for a few mins till airy and thickened slightly. stir in juice and zest, fold in flour. pour mix over the part-baked shortbread base. Bake at 175degreesC for 15-20mins.

I decided to bake my topping until golden, but I dried it out a bit :(, take out when just set through. Cool on a wire rack then douse with lots of icing sugar. zingy, rich, crumbly and chewy, yum!

I have plans a-foot for a Movember bake which, goes without saying, must be completed by the 30th! being unable to grow my own I’m hoping to raise a bit of £ and awareness by selling my wares at work. so watch this space for cute ‘tache cookies – flavour and topping combos are a work in progress.


The birth (day) of the jenny cake

5 Nov

q: what does a baking fanatic give one of her closest friends, the ‘girl who has everything’, on her 30th birthday!?
a: a cake created in her honour of course!

so, ladies and gentleman, i give you the ‘jenny’. a dessert-come-cake chocolate, raspeberry, creamy, crunchy celebration! and following the tradition the other greats – the sacher, the fraisier – finished to perfection with its own name piped across the top!

basically one of the most yummy and best looking i’ve made – see photo evidence. though i can not take all the credit, i was abley helped in the deocrating by my friend’s very sweet boyfriend.

executive summary: 3 layers of rich moist chocolate sponge, sandwiched with a vanillla mascarpone mousse and a generous layer of raspberry compote. coated with a thick layer of bitter dark chocolate ganache. topped with fresh plump raspberries, brushed with a glycerine gloss. the edges were covered in chopped roasted hazlenuts – applied in a horizontal slinging throwing motion – much like one would perform during a game of frisbee – by aforementioned boyfriend!

the recipe

the chocolate cake is based on this good food recipe which is amazing. the cake is moist and rich yet light, and bakes beautifully. I will warn you though, it rises well and has collapsed in on me before (the sticky fudgy middled outcome was delicious mind you!). so fill your tin with caution, don’t go much beyond the halfway point. the quantity on the Good Food site (for a 30cm round deep tin) filled 1 x 23cm and 1 x 30cm spring form tins (note: neither was very deep). I had a bit of mix left I daren’t add due to previous disaster, so i put about 2cm of mix in another 23cm tin and put it in with the others after 40mins baking time (ie once the risk of sinking had passed).

bake the cakes at 140degC for 1hr – until risen, spongey and knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. once cool, split the 23cm in half horizontally, the third layer is from the other tin (i split the larger cake 3 ways, assembled it as below and used it as cutting cake).

filling, plenty for the 23cm (do same again for the 30cm):
300g mascarpone cheese
1 large egg white beaten to soft peaks
3 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbpn icing sugar
1kg frozen rapsberries, defrosted and drained

lightly beat the mascarpone with the vanilla and sugar, so it is smooth and soft – but not runny. be careful as it is easy to overbeat. in a separate clean bowl beat the egg white then cut a spoonful into the mascarpone to loosen it a little, then gently fold in the remainder. this lightens the mix, and make it a bit more moussey, but you could skip the egg white.

spread half the mix on the bottom layer of the cake, and spread with a thin layer of the defrosted raspberries, which are a little like a fruity compote. carefully put the next layer of cake on top, the repeat the mascarpone mousse and raspberry spreading. top with the final layer (ensure a flat ‘bottom’ of one of the cakes is facing upwards).

ganache, nuts and rasps (enough for the 23cm cake):
300g dark chocolate (i love waitrose continental)
300ml double cream
200g bag of chopped hazlenuts
300g plump raspberries, washed a patted dry on kitchen paper
small bottle of glycerine

break up the choc and melt on med/low in the microwave til just melting, then remove stir to finish off you dont want it to be too hot. warm the cream in the microwave til just warm, 30secs on med should do it. pour the cream gradually over the chocolate, beating in gently with a fork, then add a little more cream. if it starts to get  stiff  warm the cream a little more, pour over, leave to mingle then keep beating.

once it is still runny enough to pour, but firm enough to stay where you put it (!), tip the ganache onto the cake and work across the top and down the sides, using a palate knife to spread and smooth. then stand the cake, with it’s plate, on foil and da da dahh **star equipment** here comes the hairdryer! on a med setting blow the cake, just enough to watch to the surface melt and shine. firstly get the vertical edge soft, and throw the chopped hazlenuts at it, turning as you go, after some throwing lift the cake off the foil, pick up the foil carefully folding it to tip the nuts back into the bowl, then carry on, until the edge is sufficiently coated.

then use the hair dryer to get a good shine on the top, and melt the ganache a little the add the raspberries, pressing the very gently into the ganache so they hold. do as many rings as you like. should you wish to do a message i melted white choc on low in the microwave, made a piping bag from greaseproof paper, then piped ‘jenny’ onto some baking parchment and popped it in the fridge. once it was set i carefully lifted it onto the cake.

For the final touch (phewf we got there!) i squeezed some glycerine into a bowl and used a small pastry brush to dab the raspberries with a glossy sheen , a la juicy tubes lips!

All in all this easily fed 50 hungry party goers.