Saturday, 19 August 2017

Lemon Icebox Cheescake

I saw a recipe for an icebox or, as we might call it, a refrigerator cheesecake. The recipe was on Cook's Country and it looked very good, so I thought I would give it a try.

The only baking is of the biscuit crumb base.  For flavour there is lemon juice and lemon curd, mixed into a cream and cream cheese filling.  It is easy to make, but does have to be left to set for about 6 hours before cutting and eating.

For mine I used leaf gelatine, rather than powdered gelatine to set the cheesecake and it worked well.  In fact I love the texture, and of course the sublime lemon flavour.  Although the recipe calls for home made lemon curd I am sure that any quality shop bought curd would be just fine.

So this is a recipe that works well and is very tasty, I heartily recommend it to all.
Lemon Icebox Cheesecake

                       Lemon Icebox Cheesecake - Video
For the base:
  • 220g of lemon sandwich biscuits(or digestives or graham crackers)
  • 28g of melted butter
  • Zest of one lemon

For the curd:
  • 1 medium egg(large in USA)
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 30ml lemon juice
  • 14g butter
  • 15ml double cream
For the filling:
  • 5 leaves of gelatine  ( or a packet of gelatine powder)
  • 500ml cold water( to soften gelatin)
  • 60ml lemon curd
  • 60 ml lemon juice
  • 680g cream cheese
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • Remainder of lemon curd for piping on top.
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F
  2. Put the biscuits into a processor and mix until they are finely crumbled.
  3. Add the melted butter and mix again until combined.
  4. Place the mixture into a 9in/23cm springform cake tin.
  5. Level the crumbs over the base and press down firmly to pack the crumbs together, level.
  6. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, until the base has firmed up and is golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  8. In a saucepan put the 50g caster sugar, the egg and egg yolk and the lemon juice.  
  9. Whisk together until all mixed.
  10. Heat , very gently, stirring all the time with a whisk to avoid the egg cooking, until the mixture has thickened up.
  11. Remove from the heat and add the butter and double cream and stir until melted and mixed in.
  12. Pour the curd into a bowl and refrigerate to cool down and thicken more.
  13. Place the gelatine leaves in a bowl with the cold water and leave for 5 minutes.
  14. Remove the softened gelatine leaves and squeeze out the excess water.
  15. Place the gelatine leaves in a saucepan with the lemon juice and gently heat until the leaves are dissolved(do not allow to boil)
  16. Pour the lemon juice and gelatine into a bowl and allow to cool.
  17. In the bowl of a stand mixer(you can do this all by hand or with a hand mixer and a large bowl) place the cream cheese and sugar.
  18. Beat with the paddle attachement until the cream cheese has incorporated the sugar and is nice and smooth.
  19. Add the double cream and mix again until all is combined.
  20. Add the cooled lemon juice mixture and the 60ml lemon curd and mix until combined.
  21. Pour the mixture over the cooled biscuit base and shake the tin gently to allow the mixture to level out.
  22. Pipe the remaining lemon curd onto the top, gently, in any pattern you want, and use a skewer to swirl around if you wish.
  23. Refrigerate for 6 hours.
  24. Run a paring knife around the inside edge of the cake tin and then release the cheesecake.
  25. Cut and serve.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Lemon Shortcake Biscuts(Cookies)

Shortcake, as opposed to shortbread, biscuits are popular in the UK.  The usually come in an oblong form, flat in the middle with a pattern around the edges.  I have looked for a recipe to make those but have never found one.  Most of the time when I search for 'shortcake' I am presented with recipes of the US type of shortcake, which is more cake-like.  So I decided to try to make my own.  I also had just bought a nifty little gadget that I wanted to try out for pressing a pattern onto biscuits.  So killing two birds with one stone seemed like a good idea. 

For mine I decided upon lemon shortcake biscuits, but only with lemon zest to give just a subtle hint of lemon in the biscuit.  These biscuits are less heavy on the butter than shortbread but, in my opinion, are just as nice and ideal with a cup of tea or coffee.

The recipe is simple, easy to make and has only a few ingredients.  You do have to wait a couple of hours, to chill the dough enough to form the biscuits, but that is no particular hardship.

Mine turned out very well, they taste wonderful, and are nice and crunchy, just as a shortcake biscuit should be.

Lemon Shortcake Biscuits
Lemon Shortcake Biscuits - Cookies - Video

  • 350g plain flour
  • 130g softened butter
  • 120g icing sugar (150 g if you dont use the vanilla sugar below)
  • 30g vanilla sugar(that is caster sugar that I had stored with an empty vanilla bean pod to infuse the sugar with a vanilla flavour)
  • 2 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • Zest of lemon(I used two small lemons the zest weighed 4 grams)

  1. In a bowl sift the icing sugar and cream with the vanilla sugar and the butter, until nicely smooth.
  2. Add the eggs and lemon zest and mix until fully combined.
  3. Add the flour and mix until combined and the biscuit dough is smooth.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap shaped into a rough square flat disc and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/320F
  6. Line some baking trays( I used 4 but I baked in two batches, so two would be enough), with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  7. Take the dough from the fridge and roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness(I cut my dough into 4 and did each piece separately, keeping the remainder chilled).
  8. Using a cookie cutter of about 2.25 inches cut out the cookies( you should get 40 plus extra from cut off dough re-rolled).
  9. Place on the baking tray and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the biscuits are just beginning to change colour.
  10. Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Coffee & Walnut Cake

Though I don't like coffee and am not a lover of walnuts I decided to make a Coffee & Walnut Cake as some in my family like it very much.  This cake is two layers of coffee sponge with chopped walnuts in it.  The two layers are sandwiched by a rich coffee buttercream, with more of that on the top too.  Then a few halved walnuts are placed on the top as well. 

I saw lots of different recipes on the internet that I could have tried, but I opted for one that I found in The Guardian as they always try several different recipes and then come up with 'How to make the perfect .....'  So that is what I tried.

The recipe is easy to follow and results in two light sponge cakes in less than an hour, from start to finish.  Then making the buttercream is a breeze too.  

Mine turned out just as I expected, and I am sure if tastes wonderful.  Since I don't like coffee I didn't taste the cake, but I had a little taste of the butterream frosting and that had a big hit of coffee..  I know it will be enjoyed by the intended recipients.

I am away for 3 weeks from now, but I have prepared some videos which I will try to put online whilst I am holidaying.  Then it will be back to normal at the start of September.
Coffee & Walnut Cake
                                Coffee & Walnut Cake - Video Ingredients:
For the cake:
  • 2tbsp instant coffee dissolved in a tablespoon of boiling water
  • 75g walnuts, toasted in dry pan and  roughly chopped
  • 225g butter, at room temperature
  • 225g soft, light-brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten together
  • 225g plain flour
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • Milk, optional
For the buttercream and topping:
  • 2tbsp instant coffee dissolved in a tablespoon of boiling water
  • 165g butter, at room temperature
  • 425g icing sugar
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 4tbsp double cream
  • 25g halved walnuts, toasted in a dry pan
Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F and grease and line the bases of 2 x 20cm(8 inch) sandwich tins.
Beat the butter and sugar together until really light and fluffy.
With the mixer still running, pour in the egg mix very gradually, scraping down the sides of the mixer as necessary. 

Add in the coffee and mix again.
Once incorporated, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and walnuts together and add to the wet mix.
Gently fold until fully combined.
The batter should fall, reluctantly, from a spoon; if not, add a little milk to loosen it. 
Divide between the 2 tins, and bake for about 25 minutes until well risen. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tins, then put on a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, mix the 2tbsp coffee for the icing with 1tbsp boiling water and allow to cool.

Once the cakes have cooled, make the icing. Beat the butter until soft, then sift in the sugar and salt and add the cooled coffee and cream. Stir together until evenly combined. Top one cake with a little less than half the icing, spreading it more thickly in a ring around the edge, and then place the other cake on top. Spoon the remaining icing on the top, and arrange the walnuts in a pleasing pattern.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

As I am soon going over to Canada to visit my sister's family I thought I would test out my recipe for a cinnamon swirl loaf.  I would usually want to add raisins as well but I am aware that my great-nieces don't like raisins in their bread so I made mine without.  For the recipe I will include the optional raisins but I have to say this bread is lovely just as it is, toasted and with lashings of butter.

It does take a while to make but is well worth the effort.  It is also ideal for slicing and freezing in little packages to be used whenever you want some variety to your morning toast.

I am pleased with how well mine turned out, the swirls being well defined and the taste of the bread is just fantastic.  It can be eaten without toasting but I find that toasting is better, as he brings out the aroma of the cinnamon as well.
                                         Cinnamon Swirl Bread 

                             Cinnamon Swirl Bread - Video
For the dough:
  • 100ml water at 43c/110F
  • 160ml milk, scalded and cooled to 48C/120F
  • 7g active dried yeast
  • 1 large egg(XL in USA)
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 500g strong white bread flour(plain flour would be ok too)
  • 50g raisins (if desired)
For the filling:
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 15g ground cinnamon
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 10g butter
  1. In the warm water place the yeast and a little of the sugar, stir and set aside to activate for 10 minutes, until the yeast has started to foam up.
  2. In a bowl whisk the yeast, sugar, egg and butter together.
  3. Add the milk and whisk until all is mixed well.
  4. Place that mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
  5. Add the flour and mix on low speed to get the flour combined.
  6. Increase the speed to medium and continue mixing for a few minutes, until the dough is coming away, cleanly, from the side of the bowl.  The dough should be smooth and slightly tacky to the touch.
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a ball.
  8. Place the dough in a large bowl that has been lightly greased.
  9. Turn the dough to ensure it is coated with the oil and then cover the bowl and allow to rest in a warm, draught-free place until it has doubled in size(mine took a couple of hours as it was quite cool, 1.5 is usually enough).
  10. Grease the insides of a 2lb/900g loaf tin with butter.
  11. Take the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured work surface and knock the dough back to release the gases.
  12. Flatten the dough, or roll it out, into a rectangle, with the short side being slightly narrower than the length of the loaf tin.
  13. Brush egg over the surface of the dough.
  14. Mix the ground cinnamon and 90g sugar together and sprinkle all over the top surface of the dough.
  15. At this stage if you want to use raisins too you can sprinkle about 50g of them over the dough.
  16. Roll the dough, from the short side tightly.
  17. As you roll brush the exposed dough with egg
  18. When the dough has been rolled up pinch the seam all the way long to seal it and tuck the ends to seal them.
  19. Place the rolled dough into the loaf tin and press it down to cover the surface of the base.
  20. Cover the loaf tin with a clean, damp, tea towel(or loosely with plastic wrap) and leave to rest until the dough has doubled in size again, probably about an hour.
  21. As the dough rises heat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350 F.
  22. Place the tin in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
  23. If the top starts to brown too quickly you can cover it with some aluminium foil for the last 10 or so minutes.
  24. Remove the loaf from the oven and tip out onto  a wire rack to cool,  rubbing a little butter over the top if you wish(as soon as it is out of the oven).
  25. When the bread has cooled completely it is ready to slice and enjoy.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Today I have a lovely recipe, from BBC Good Food, for a Chocolate Fudge Cake.  This is a single layer cake, but could quite easily be turned into two layers by doubling the recipe to create two cakes and then maybe filling with a chocolate buttercream, using some of the frosting from the recipe.

I think one layer is more than enough though, so that is what I made.  I also used a smaller cake tin than suggested in the recipe, because I only have 20cm square tins.  But that is fine, the cake still baked time.  It is just a case of checking to see when it is done, so adjusting timings as necessary.

The recipe is easy to follow and everything for the cake can be done in a large saucepan, though I used a bowl to mix in some ingredients, simply because I find it easier to video like that.

Once baked and frosted I put some sprinkles on, as they did in the recipe, though I don't think that is entirely necessary, but it does make them look great.

This is a lovely cake, nice and moist and with that rich chocolate flavour, enhanced by the fudge-like frosting.  This is one I shall make again I am sure.
Chocolate Fudge Cake
                                Chocolate Fudge Cake - Video
For the cake:
  • 200g dark chocolate,
  • 200g butter
  • 200g muscovado sugar, I  used a combination of dark and light
  • 100ml soured cream
  • 2 medium eggs(large in USA), beaten
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
For the icing:
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 170g condensed milk
  • 100g butter
  • Sprinkles to decorate, if required
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/320F.
  2. Grease and line a 22cm square cake tin with parchment paper(I used 20cm square tin)
  3. Place the butter, chocolate and sugar into a large saucepan with 100ml of hot water.
  4. Gently heat until all has melted, stir to combine.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  6. Add the soured cream and stir to combine.
  7. Add the beaten eggs and stir to combine.
  8. Sift in the flour, salt and cocoa powder and whisk of stir until combined and there are no visible lumps.
  9. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 50 minutes until the centre is springy and a skewer comes out clean.
  10. Place the cake, in the tin, on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
  11. Place the chocolate, condensed milk and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and allow to melt, stirring to combine.
  12. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.   This can be done by chilling if necessary.
  13. When the cake is completely cook remove from the tin and paper and spread the frosting over the top.
  14. Cover with sprinkles if you are using them.
  15. Cut into pieces of the size you want.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Buttery Shortcrust Apple Turnovers

I love shortcrust pastry, especially when it's crisp,  buttery and flaky.  So when I saw a recipe on Food Wishes for what Chef John called Buttercrust pastry I thought I would like to try it, instead of my usual shortcrust, for some apple turnovers.  I have made apple turnovers before, but that was using puff pastry.  They were very good, but I always prefer shortcrust, so this was a good opportunity to try out this recipe.

For the filling I used Bramley apples, which are cooking apples and are very tart.  Granny Smith or any other green, tart, apple would be fine.  Of course any apple of your choice would be ok too.  I also added cinnamon and cooked the apples in some butter and sugar with the cinnamon, until soft and most of the liquid had been cooked out.

It is imperative to let the pastry dough rest for at least an hour.  I left mine for two hours.  The recipe calls for more water than I might otherwise have used, but that certainly makes rolling out easier.  

The turnovers turned out very well indeed, with a lovely, crisp, pastry case.  The filling retained some tartness, and had the sweetness of the sugar as well as the hit of cinnamon.  Altogether they were very good indeed.  

Quite easy to make and the recipe is simple and unlikely to fail, so I recommend this one to all.

Buttery Shortcrust Apple Turnovers
                            Buttery Shortcrust Apple Turnovers - Video
For the pastry:
  • 256g plain flour
  • 113g ice cold butter, cut into 16 cubes
  • 15g caster sugar
  • 90ml ice cold water
  • 1 tsp salt
For the filling:
  • 700g apples(before peeling)
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 30g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 28g butter
  • A little water, if necessary
  • juice o a lemon to stop the apples oxidising(optional)
  • Egg wash
  1. In a food processor place half the flour.
  2. Add the cubed butter.
  3. Add the remaining flour, sugar and salt.
  4. Pulse in short bursts until the butter has been broken down and there are pea sized lumps.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl and then add the water.
  6. Pulse, in slightly longer bursts, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  7. Scrape down again and pulse for a couple of seconds more.
  8. Turn the mixture onto a work surface, it will be all crumbs,  and use your hands to squeeze it together until it forms a nice pastry ball.  
  9. Mop up any loose crumbs and form the dough into a disc.
  10. Cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate for at least one hour ( I did two hour, so my filling could cool down as well).
  11. Peel the apples and core them.
  12. Cut them into small cubes, tossing in lemon juice if you wish to stop them browning as you peel the others.
  13. Place the butter into a large frying pan and heat until melted and starting to brown(don't have the heat too high).
  14. Add the apples and toss to coat in butter.
  15. Allow the apples to cook and release the juices.
  16. Cook until the juice is bubbling nicely and then add the sugars.
  17. Stir around to mix the sugar into the apples.
  18. As the juices begin to reduce sprinkle over the cinnamon and continue to cook until the liquid has just about disappeared. (if you have the softness you want in the apples you can strain off excess juice).
  19. Place the mixture onto a plate and allow to cool.
  20. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F
  21. Line baking trays(I used two, to hold two turnovers each) with silicone mats or parchment paper.
  22. Divide the pastry dough into four equal parts.
  23. Roll out into roughly 8 inch circles and place a quarter of the apple mixture in the centre.
  24. Fold one half of the pastry over the apples and press down against the other half of the pastry, but leaving a gap around the edge.
  25. Press the top pastry edge down on to the bottom pastry.
  26. Fold the overlapping part of the bottom pastry over on to the edge of the top pastry, pressing down.
  27. Using a finger and thumb of one hand and a finger of the other pinch the edge together, making dimples.
  28. Place the turnovers onto the baking trays and brush them with egg wash.
  29. Sprinkle some granulated sugar over the top.
  30. Make three small slits into the top of each turnover.
  31. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the pastry has gone a lovely golden brown colour and the sugar on top as melted in.
  32. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before trying to eat.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Vanilla Mantecadas

Yesterday I discovered Mantecadas, having never heard of them before.  I saw some photos on Pinterest and that piqued my interest.  So I started to look for some recipes and read up a little on the origin.  Mantencadas seem to come in various forms and are from Spain.  The ones I saw were a Mexican variation, so that is what I am making today.

They are a bun, baked in a muffin tin.  The batter is quite loose and has instant yeast in it, so that will make them rise well and will make the texture different from muffins or cupcakes.

The recipe is simple doesn't require much mixing.  In fact I think rather less mixing than I did would actually make the tops more rounded than mine.  I was torn between vanilla and orange as the flavouring to use.  But the orange extract that I have seemed very strong and I didn't want to overpower the buns, so I opted for vanilla.  As my first attempt I decided to make 6, but in the event I had a little batter left over so made a couple of mini loaf shaped ones too.

The results are a lovely, light, bun/cake that is springy to the touch and very tasty to eat.
Vanilla Mantecadas

                                       Vanilla Mantecadas - Video
  • 125g plain flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs, large USA
  • 120ml milk
  • 120 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp instant/easy bake yeast
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  1. Line a 6 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
  2. In a large bowl whisk the eggs and then add the sugar and whisk again until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and milk and whisk to combine.
  4. Gradually add the oil and mix to combine.
  5. In a bowl mix the flour, yeast, baking powder and salt.
  6. Gradually add those dry ingredients into the egg mixture and mix until just combined.  Don't over mix.
  7. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/ 400 F.
  9. Pour the batter into the paper cases until it is just below the top of the cases.
  10. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.