Thursday, 27 April 2017

Lemon Posset - A Very Easy Dessert


One viewer asked if I could make something that didn't contain lots of butter. Since I don't like oil in cakes very much I decided to try a lovely old-fashioned British recipe, Posset.

According to Wikipedia Posset was a British hot drink of milk curdled with wine or ale, often spiced, which was popular from medieval times to the 19th century. The word is mainly used nowadays for a related dessert similar to syllabub. The modern version is usually made with cream and sugar with lemon, or other citric or acidic juice. Boiling the cream and sugar and then adding the lemon is all there is too making this deliciously silky dessert. The lemon causes the cream to set as it cools and tastes wonderful.

It takes only a few minutes to make and then you wait for it to chill and set. This is the sort of dessert that you can make the day before needed. So if you are having a dinner party or such you can do these in advance.

You can serve the posset in small dishes or glasses, and with some berries or sable type biscuuits.

Lemon Posset
                                         Lemon Posset - Video
Ingredients:

  • 600ml double cream(or heavy cream)
  • 150g caster sugar(granulated is fine too)
  • 100ml lemon juice(or juice from 3 lemons)
  • Zest from 3 lemons
Method:
  1. In a saucepan gently bring the sugar, cream and lemon zest to the boil, stirring all the time.
  2. When the mixture reaches boiling point strain to remove the zest(if you wish).
  3. Return the mixture to the saucepan and boil gently for 3 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and stir until fully combined.
  5. Pour the liquid into dishes of your choice and allow to cool a little before chilling in the fridge for at least 3 hours(covered with plastic wrap), to allow the posset to set.



Saturday, 22 April 2017

Lemon Squares - Lemon Bars

I felt like a big lemon hit today so I set about making some Lemon Squares, or Lemon Bars as they are known it some places.  These have a delicious shortbread base and a wonderful lemon topping.

The recipe is quite simple and just requires a little patience, as some waiting is involved.  The first thing to to make the shortbread and let it cool.  Then a simple lemon mixture, with eggs, sugar, flour and, of course, lemons.  Poured over and baked and then cooled, that is all there is to it.

I really enjoyed how mine turned out, the top had a light crisp coating, from the flour, and underneath the fantastic sharp hit of lemon, tempered by the sugar and the lovely buttery shortbread base.  These would be ideal, chilled, on a warm summer's day.  But they are also great at any time.
                               Lemon Squares - Lemon Bars

                        Lemon Square - Lemon Bars - Video
Ingredients:
For the base:
  • 255g plain flour
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
For the lemon topping:
  • 240ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of two lemons(my zest weighed 8g)
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 6 large eggs(extra large in USA)
  • 128g plain flour
  • Icing Sugar for decoration, if required.
Method:
  1. Place the butter and sugar into a stand mixer, with the paddle attached, and beat until light and fluffy(this can be done by hand too).
  2. Add the salt and flour and mix on slow speed until all is combined.
  3. Line a 13inch by 9 inch baking tin with some aluminium foil(this is to make it easy to remove the baked confection for cutting).
  4. Take the dough and press it all over the base of the baking tin trying to make it as even as possible.
  5. Chill in the fridge for 15 while the oven is pre-heating to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
  6. Bake the base in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until it is beginning to turn a nice golden colour.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. 
  8. Once the base is cooled place the eggs and caster sugar into a large bowl and whisk until fully combined.
  9. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and whisk to combine.
  10. Slowly add the flour and mix until all is combined and there are no lumps.
  11. Gently pour the mixture into the baking tin to cover the shortbread base.
  12. Carefully place in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the lemon mixutre is set, the top will be set with a light crisp and underneath to soft lemon filling.
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  14. Carefully remove from the tin and cut into squares of equal size(I got 24).
  15. Sprinkle some icing sugar on the top for decoration.



Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Torta Caprese - Capri Cake

I saw a lovely cake in a youtube video.  It was called Torta Caprese and was made with chocolate and ground almonds.  I thought I would like to try to make it, so I looked at several recipes and then vame up with my own, being a slightl variation on what I saw.  It seems that there are lots of different variations on this cake and for mine I decided to use a mixture of ground almonds and ground hazelnuts, since I just love the flavour that hazelnuts give to things.  

Some recipes use melted dark choclate and others use grated or ground dark chocolate.  I decided to the ground chocolate, so that it would melt as it cooks and hopefully give a lovely moist texture to the cake.

Being a very simple recipe I was fairly sure that it would turn out well and it certainly did so.  The flavour is wonderful with the rich, dark chocolate mixing well with the nutty tasted of the almonds and hazelnuts.   I am very please with the results, having enjoyed the cake with a cup of tea.  It would also be ideal as a dessert, served with some creme fraiche or whipped cream.
Torta Caprese
Torta Caprese - Video
Ingredients:
  • 175g ground almonds(or 250g if you omit the hazelnuts)
  • 75g ground hazelnuts
  • 4 large eggs(extra large in USA) separated into whites and yolks
  • 200g melted butter, allowed to cool
  • 200g dark chocolate(I used 55% cocoa solids), finely chopped in a processor(or by hand)
  • 170g caster sugar.
  • Icing Sugar to sprinkle over the top.
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 1990C/170C fan/375F
  2. Grease a 9inch springform or loose bottomed cake tin and line the base with parchment paper.
  3. In a bowl whisk the egg white to stiff peaks, adding a little of the sugar to help the process.
  4. In another, large, bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the remaining sugar for a couple of minutes, until the mixture is very pale and has started to thicken.
  5. Add the ground almonds, ground hazelnut and the chocolate and mix together until all is combined and almost a paste.
  6. Add the melted butter and mix until combined.
  7. Add the egg whites, a little and first and then the remainder, and carefully mix until all is combined.  Try not to knock all the air out of the egg white.
  8. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and spread out so that the base is covered and the batter is level.
  9. Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is crisp and a skewer in the centre comes out clean.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, then remove from the cake tin.
  11. Sprinkle icing sugar over the top, then slice and serve.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Lemon Drizzle Friands

Those of you who regularly read my blog will know that I like almonds and just love friands.  So it is no surprise that I am making more friands, the delicious almond based cakes that are so popular in Australia and New Zealand.  I think they are becoming more popular in the UK too and probably elsewhere.

For today's friands I decided on a light lemon flavour, and then intensified that flavour with some lemon icing on the top.

Friands are very easy to make, and don't take long at all.  I have a friand pan so I can make the usual shape but using a muffin tin will work just as well, though differently shaped.

I do urge you all to try this recipe and am sure you will be delighted.  The lovely moist cake with the lemon flavour is a real treat for the taste buds.
Lemon Drizzle Friands

Lemon Drizzle Friands - Video

Ingredients:
For the friands:
  • 185g melted butter, allowed to cool a little
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 75g plain flour
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 6 medium egg whites(large in USA)
  • Zest from two lemons(my zest weighed 4 grams)
For the lemon drizzle icing:
  • 200g icing sugar
  • juice of one lemon(you may not need it all)
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F
  2. Place a baking tray into the oven to heat
  3. Grease a 12 hole friand(or muffin) pan with butter
  4. In a large bowl whisk the eggs until light and frothy(but not soft peaks)
  5. Sift the icing sugar and flour over the egg whites
  6. Sprinkle the ground almonds and lemon zest on top.
  7. Mix together until all is combined.
  8. Add the melted butter and mix again, until all is combined(it will combine but will take a couple of minutes.
  9. Divide the batter evenly into the 12 holes of the pan(about 2/3 full)
  10. Place on the baking tray in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the friands are springy to the touch and a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  12. In a bowl place the icing sugar and a little of the lemon juice.
  13. Stir the juice in, adding more a little at a time, until you have a nice consistency for the icing.  If you want it to drizzle it needs to be slightly runny.  If thicker you can just use it to coat the tops of the friands.
  14. When the friands are completely cooled ice the tops in whichever way you wish.  
  15. Allow the icing to set a little before serving.



Thursday, 6 April 2017

Tosset Cakes/Biscuits

As I was looking around the internet for some old fashioned bicsuit/cookie recipes I came across Tosset Cakes, which are a traditional biscuit made in Lancashire.  They are very similar to Goosnargh biscuits, also from Lancashire.  But the ratio of butter to flour in Tosset cakes is higher than in Goosnargh, so the resulting biscuits are more crumbly, and they just melt in the mouth..  Very delicate, they are also flavoured with slightly crushed caraway and coriander seeds.

Everywhere I looked the recipe was exactly the same, in the same proportions, so it is difficult to attribute a particular source for the recipe.  Though I did read that they featured on a Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty TV program.  I don't watch the show so I cant say how theirs turned out.

The recipe also claims to make 25 biscuits, but that is wrong.  If making biscuits of .5 cm thickness, using the volume of ingredients suggested, the number is likely to be at least 40.  This does mean extra rolling of the off-cuts.  That in turn can create some issues, as the dough is not the sort that wants to be handled too much.  Overworking the dough will cause it to spread a lot during baking.   In fact having read some reviews of various people's attempts some have turned out perfectly and others report that the dough spread all over the place.

So for mine I decided not only to chill the dough for an hour before rolling out, as suggested in the recipe, but also to chill again before baking.  Also I varied the method slightly, adding the crushed seeds into the flour and sugar before rubbing in the butter.  The original instruction had the butter rubbed in and then the seeds added and mixed in.  I thought this could easily lead to overworkng teh dough, so I opted for my method. I also did a test using 20% volumes as I didn't want to waste so much if they were not going to be any good.  The test worked well with a lovely crisp, crumbly and flavoursome biscuit.  So then it was on to making a full batch.  They turned out great too, so I am very pleased indeed to have discovered a lovely new(to me) treat.
Tosset Cakes - Biscuits

Tosset Cakes - Biscuits - Video

Ingredients:
  • 500g plain flour(plus extra for dusting)
  • 500g softened unsalted butter, cubed
  • 150g caster sugar(plus extra for sprinkling on the top of the biscuits before baking)
  • 1 heaped tsp of caraway seeds(about 3.5g)
  • 1 heaped tsp of coriander seeds(about 3.5g)
  • Icing sugar to sift over the baked biscuits
Method:
  1. Using a pestle and mortar(or any other way), gently crush the caraway and coriander seeds a little to break them down, without turning to dust.
  2. In a large bowl place the flour, sugar and crushed seeds and mix to get them all evenly combined.
  3. Add the butter and gently toss in the mixture to coat.
  4. Using your fingers rub the butter into the flour mixture until there are no large lumps.
  5. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture just enough that it starts clumping together.
  6. Pull the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
  7. Dust the work surface with flour and roll out he chilled dough to a thickness of .5cm(about 1/4).
  8. Using a 6cm cookie cutter cut out rounds and place on a lightly floured baking tray.
  9. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350 F.
  10. Sprinkle caster sugar over the cut out biscuits.
  11. Bake the biscuits in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.  Watch them carefully as you don't want them to colour, they should be pale.
  12. Allow to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes and then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cook completely.
  13. If desired sift some icing sugar over the top before serving.

Note:
I think another method, to avoid overworking the dough would be, instead of forming a ball and chilling, to form a couple of sausage shapes of the dough, 6cm in diameter and chilling that.  Then they should be firm enough to cut into .5cm slices rather than rolling out.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Passion Fruit Curd Cupcakes

I only recently tasted Passion Fruit and really enjoyed it.  So I bought some and made some curd and then used that in some tarts.  However I had a problem with the video, so I couldn't put it on youtube, but it is in this blog.

Passion Fruits tend to be very expensive, but I found some Passion Fruit Puree online from a reputable company, so I bought a 1 kg carton.  It is 90% Passion Fruit and 10% sugar, with no additives.  The puree is actually more like a juice.  As is Passion Fruit pulp if you make your own.

So I decided that today I would make some cupcakes and some Passion Fruit Curd to go in the middle of them. Then to top it off I wanted to make some buttercream frosting, also with a flavour of Passion Fruit.

Since I have a lot of puree I made more curd than I would need for the cupcakes, so that I could put it in jars and use it later.

The cakes, as ever, are easy to make. The curd too is quite easy, though you have to stir it all the time to ensure the egg doesn't cook and go lumpy. 

I am very pleased with how mine turned out.  The Passion Fruit Curd seemed a little runny as I inserted it into the cupcakes, but that was the heat from my hands loosening it up.  The jars that I refrigerated have firmed up to a nice spreadable consistency.

Of course you could make these cupcakes with any curd, shop bought or home made.  But since I had the Passion Fruit puree that seemed to be the obvious choice.
Passion Fruit Curd Cupcakes
 

Passion Fruit Curd Cupcakes - Video
Ingredients:
For the curd:
  • 8 medium eggs yolks(large in USA)
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 160ml passion fruit puree(no seeds)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 140g unsalted butter.
For the cupcakes:
  • 113g softened unsalted butter
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 195g plain flour
  • 60ml whole milk
For the buttercream:
  • 113g softened butter, unsalted
  • 230g icing sugar
  • 2tbsp passion fruit puree

Method:

  1. Place the egg yolks, salt,  granulated sugar and 160ml passion fruit puree into a heatproof bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bowl.
  3. Whisk continuously until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  4. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the butter, stirring until it has all mixed into the egg mixture.
  5. If you have any lumps of cooked egg you can sieve the curd through a fine strainer.
  6. You can jar up, in sterilised jars, 2/3 of the curd and allow the remaining curd to cool ready for use in the cupcakes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.  
  8. Line a muffin tin with paper cases.
  9. In the bowl of an stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitter(you can do this by hand or with a hand mixer) mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffly, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  10. Add the eggs, one and a time and beat until fully combined.
  11. Add the vanilla extrace and beat until fully combined.
  12. In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder salt and lemon zest together.
  13. Add the flour in three additions, interspersed with the milk in two additions, to the butter mixture and mix until just combined each time.
  14. Divide the batter into the 12 muffin cases.
  15. Bake in the oven for 17 to 20 minutes, until springy to the touch and a skewer inserted come out clean.
  16. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  17. Sieve the icing sugar.
  18. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment fitted, add the butter and icing sugar and mix, slowly at first to avoid clouds of sugar, until combined.  
  19. Add the passion fruit puree and mix again, until fully combined.
  20. Adjust the mixture by adding more sugar to make it firmer, or more liquid to make it looser.
  21. Place the reserved curd into a piping bag( I used a special nozzle on mine, for inserting into cakes) and either cut out a hole in the top of each cake and fill with curd, replacing the top, or insert the nozzle and squeeze curd into the centre of the cake.
  22. Wipe any excess curd from the cupcakes.
  23. Place the buttercream into a piping bag that has a star nozzle fitted.
  24. Pipe the buttercream onto each cupcake, starting on the outside and working into the centre, pulling up at the middle to make a point.
  25. Refrigerate for a short while to allow the buttercream to firm up slightly, then serve.


Monday, 27 March 2017

Blueberry Hand Pies

I decided to make two different sized Blueberry Hand Pies, using ready rolled puff pastry, as opposed to making my own which is what I usually do.  

Since the filling was to be some wild blueberry conserve added to frozen blueberries the use of ready rolled puff pastry makes these a very quick and easy treat to make.

I decided to make three pies from one sheet of pastry and then use another two sheets to make 24 mini, one to two bite ones.

The one thing that I did learn in this process is that you really have to work quite quickly with the ready rolled pastry.

My efforts turned out very well, with the pastry so puffy and flaky and the wonderful sweet blueberry filling.  I think they are ideal to serve warm, but cool is fine too.

The one thing to say is that you can use any size sheet of puff pastry, and cut the pies to the size you wish.  You may just need to slightly adjust the cooking times.  For my large pies 11cm(4 1/2inch) squares meant that I could get three from one sheet.

If you wish to make your own puff pastry you can follow the recipe from this blog post, though you may wish to halve the all the amounts : http://geoffsbakingblog.blogspot.com/2015/04/mille-feuille-with-chocolate-filling.html .


Blueberry Hand Pies

                                 Blueberry Hand Pies - Video
Ingredients:
For large pies:
  • 1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry (mine was 320g and 34x23cm)
  • 50g frozen blueberries
  • 37g wild blueberry conserve
  • beaten egg, to wash
  • demerara sugar to sprinkle.
For Mini Pies:
  • 2 sheets for ready rolled puff pastry.
  • 100g frozen blueberries
  • 75g wild blueberry conserve
  • beaten egg to wash
  • demerara sugar to sprinkle.
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C F/400F
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  3. Mix the conserve into the frozen blueberries.
  4. Unroll one sheet of puff pastry and cut into 6 equal sized squares, discarding any extra edges.
  5. Spoon the blueberry mixture into the centre of 3 of the square.
  6. Brush egg was round the edges of those 3 squares.
  7. Place the other squares on top of the first three squares and press the edges together, using a fork to make a pattern all the way round.
  8. Egg was all over and sprinkle with demerara sugar.
  9. Make three slits in the top of each pie.
  10. Place on a baking tray and bake for 25 minutes, until the pastry has puffed up, gone a nice golden brown colour.
  11. Remove from the oven and all to cool.
  12. Meanwhile unroll the second sheet of pastry(if you want to make the mini ones too) and place it on parchment paper on a baking tray.
  13. Very lightly score 24 squares into the pastry.
  14. Place a small amount of the blueberry mixture into the centre of each square.
  15. Brush egg wash all around the edges and between each blob of blueberries.
  16. Open the third sheet of pastry and quickly roll out ot be a little bitter larger in dimension.
  17. Carefully place that sheet on top of the waiting blueberries.
  18. Gently press down around the edges and between each pile of blueberries, so the the top and bottom sheets of pastry are stuck together by the egg wash.  
  19. Using a pizza cutter, or a sharp knife cut the pastry into the squares, where the top and bottom are stuck together, to make your 24 squares.  Make sure the top edges of each square is firmly stuck to the bottom edges of each square.
  20. Cut all around the edge to remove any excess pastry.
  21. Egg wash all over.
  22. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until puffy and golden.  
  23. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, gently teasing each square apart, if they are not already separated.