Friday, 19 June 2015

Apple & Cinnamon Muffins - with Cinnamon Streusel Topping

I found a recipe for a lovely sounding muffin, Apple and Cinnamon, with a streusel topping, on Allrecipes.  It certainly whetted my appetite, since I love cinnamon and am a sucker for a good muffin.  I did read the reviews on the site, which was very important, since some people had problems with over filling the muffin cases, and a streusel topping that was far too wet.

So with mine I only filled my cases to two thirds full and I only used half the amount of butter suggested in the topping.

What a blessing that was, as the results of the bake are just wonderful.  Even during baking I got excited, as the aroma of cinnamon filled the room.

Even with my adjustsments the muffins did run down the sides a little, but nothing too distastrous.

The taste, after they had cooled down, was just wonderful, and with a nice crispy top to augment the soft, moist muffin..  I will be making these again for sure.  The mixture made 8 muffins for me, though the little boxes I made are probably slightly smaller than a normal muffin case.

In the recipe below I have made adjustments, for how I did everthing.  But the original recipe can be found (together with the comments of other bakers)  if you click the link to Allrecipes above.
Apple & Cinnamon Muffin, with cinnamon streusel topping

Ingredients:
For the muffin batter:
  • 190 g all-purpose flour
  • 150 g white sugar
  • 3 g salt
  • 7 g baking powder
  • 2 g ground cinnamon
  • 80 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 80 ml milk
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored diced
For the streusel topping:
  • 100 g white granulated sugar
  • 40 g all-purpose flour
  • 60g butter, cubed
  • 3 g ground cinnamon
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). 
  2. Grease a muffin pan, or line with paper liners( I used some cardboard cups)
  3. Stir together the  flour,  sugar, salt, baking powder and  cinnamon, as listed in the batter mix.
  4. Mix the oil, egg and milk in a separate bowl.
  5. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together, dont over mix.
  6. Fold in the apples. 
  7. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling to about two thirds full.
  8. In a small bowl, stir together 1the streusel ingredients until it is line a fine crumb, with some lumps. Sprinkle over unbaked muffins.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Lemon Pound Cake

A lemon pound cake seemed like a good idea.  Rather similar to what we know in the UK as Madeira Cake, I found a recipe on Foodnetwork.co,uk, I think taken from one by Anna Olson, but with metric weights.

This version is heavy on butter and has soured cream too, plus lots of eggs, which is significantly different to other recipes I found.  Reading it made me think it would taste so good, so I decided to give it a try.

The recipe calls for cooking at 160c, so I started mine at 140c Fan, but decided that would be a bit risky, so I quickly switched, after about 5 minutes, to 160c without the fan. I cooked for a full 70 mins, since I started out in that way.

It certainly cooked through well enough and the end result, with the lemon brushed over the top has given me a most tasty cake, which will be enjoyed by all who taste it.
Lemon Pound Cake

Ingredients:
  • 220g unsalted butter, just cooler than room temperature
  • 300g sugar
  • 1 tbsp finely-grated lemon zest
  • 5 large eggs, almost at room temperature
  • 80g sour cream (full-fat)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120g plain flour
  • 50g flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
For the glaze:
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 85g sugar
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and grease a 9-x-5-inch loaf pan.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest using electric beaters or a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  3. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the eggs with a fork and add this to the batter in a few additions, scraping down the bowl in between. 
  4. Stir the sour cream and vanilla together and beat this into the batter.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift the plain and cake flours and the salt and add this to the batter, mixing until fully incorporated, scraping to the bottom of the bowl to ensure this. 
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and tap it a few times to make it level and allow any air bubbles to escape. Bake the cake for 65 to 70 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and prepare the glaze while the cake is still warm.
  7. For the glaze, heat the lemon juice water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Poke holes in the warm pound cake using a bamboo skewer and brush the warm glaze over the cake.
  8.  Let the cake cool completely in the pan (the glaze will set once the cake is cool) before removing to serve.

The cake will keep well wrapped and unrefrigerated for up to 3 days.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Lime & Chocolate Shortbread Biscuits

For a nice simple biscuit recipe there is nothing better than shortbread.  Today I decided to try some lime and chocolate ones.

The recipe below produces a lovely, crumbly shortbread, with a nice lime flavour infused throughout.  Then it is just a matter of adding some chocolate.  I decided to put my chocolate on the base, rather than dipping the biscuits, as they are so fragile.  But if you try them, and make yours slightly thicker than mine you may be able to dip them quite easily.

Now that the chocolate has cooled and firmed up the biscuits are no longer so brittle and are just so melt in the mouth delicious.
Lime & Chocolate Shortbread

Ingredients:

  • 140g plain flour
  • 30 g cornflour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp of lime zest
  • 113 g softened butter
  • 62g icing sugar
  • 100g dark chocolate

Method:

  1. Cream the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffly
  2. Add the egg yolk and lime zest and mix until combined
  3. Add the flour and cornflour also until fully combined.
  4. Take the dough and form it into a sausage, about 12 inches long.
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for two hours to firm up.
  6. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/350 F.
  7. Grease two baking sheets.
  8. Remove the dough from the fridge and cut into slices no thinner than a quarter of an inch.
  9. Place on the baking sheets, leaving room for them to spread a little.
  10. Bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes until beginning to brown slightly on the eggs.
  11. Remove from the oven and prick the top of each biscuit with a fork to allow any steam to escape.
  12. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie(or in a microwave oven if you prefer)
  13. When the biscuits have cooled turn them over and coat each one with chocolate and leave to set.



Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Kiev Cake - Hazelnut Nut Meringue & Sponge Cake

Kiev Cake is something I had not heard of until I read a recipe for it in The Guardian, provided by Olia Hercules. It sounded like a rather scrumptious cake, with so many elements.  I was a little daunted by decided to try it.  With Meringue, sponge cake, a creme mousseline and a chocolate ganache all layered, and with hazelnuts too I was sure it would taste great, if it turned out ok.

There are a lot of steps to the recipe and it does take rather a long time to make it, since the the mousseling and the ganache need time to firm up before use, and the cake needs to cool as well.

But since I had lots of time on my hands, waiting for a package to be delivered I thought today was an ideal time to try it.

I am quite pleased with the result, though I made the meringue layers a little too large and had to cut them down a bit.   That was due to the fact that my 23cm cake tin is slightly smaller than a 23cm pastry ring that I have.  I used the pastry ring to measure out the meringue circles.  But all was well as I was able to cut the meringue down without everything disintegrating.

In the recipe below I have included the instructions for creating the hazelnut spikes as suggested in the original article, but I didn't make them for my cake.  This is because I have to transport the cake across town and dont have a box deep enough to contain the spikes on top of the cake.  Instead I sprinkled some roughly chopped hazelnuts on the top, it worked just as well.
Kiev Cake

Ingredients:
For the hazelnut meringue
  • 180g blanched hazelnuts
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar
For the crème mousseline (pastry cream)
  • 500ml whole milk
  • Seeds from 2 vanilla pods 
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 40g plain flour
  • 40g cornflour
  • 250g unsalted butter (at room temperature – best if left out overnight)
For the chocolate ganache
  • 350g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 350ml whipping cream
  • 20g unsalted butter
For the sponge
  • 5 eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 80g butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing
  • 175g flour
For the hazelnut spikes
  • 150g sugar
  • 3 whole hazelnuts
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. 
  2. Reserve three whole hazelnuts for later and blitz the rest in a food processor until they are coarsely chopped. Spread the nuts on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes until they turn golden. Let them cool. Turn the oven down to 150C/300F/gas mark 2.
  3. Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper, draw a circle around a 23cm cake tin on both pieces, then turn them over so the marked side is facing the tray.
  4. To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until they start to form peaks. Gradually add the sugar while whisking until the meringue is glossy and stiff. 
  5. Carefully fold in the cooled hazelnuts with a large metal spoon and put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.
  6. Pipe the meringue onto the circles on the lined baking sheets. Bake in the oven for an hour, until the meringues have set and you can easily peel them off the paper.
  7. Meanwhile, make the crème mousseline (pastry cream). Warm the milk in a pan with the vanilla seeds and half of the sugar until it begins to steam. 
  8. While it is warming, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until pale, then whisk in the flour and cornflour. 
  9. Pour half of the steaming milk into the yolks and whisk together. 
  10. Pour all the mixture back into the remaining milk and whisk constantly on a medium to low heat until the mixture thickens and you can no longer taste flour.
  11. Remove from the heat and let it cool in a bowl.
  12. To make the ganache, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. 
  13. Warm the cream in a pan until it just begins to steam. 
  14. Stir the cream into the melted chocolate gradually, then stir in the butter in chunks. Allow the ganache to sit at room temperature to firm up slightly, stirring occasionally, until needed.
  15. To make the sponge, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. 
  16. Beat the eggs and sugar together in a bowl with an electric whisk for at least 5 minutes until very thick, pale and foamy. 
  17. Trickle in the melted butter, still whisking the mixture.
  18. Gently fold the flour in, trying not to knock any air out. 
  19. Pour the cake batter into a greased 23cm round springform cake tin and bake for 25-30 minutes. 
  20. Let it cool.
  21. Place the cooled pastry cream in a bowl and, using an electric whisk, gradually whisk the room-temperature butter into the pastry cream, about 1 tbsp at a time, until fully incorporated. The cream will now be lighter in colour, stiff and with a slightly aerated texture. It is essential that the pastry cream and the butter are both at room temperature or the mixture will split. Place the cream in a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.
  22. Cut the sponge in half horizontally. Place one half into the cake tin without the bottom (or use a 23cm deep mousse ring if you have one) and spread with the ganache. 
  23. Place one disc of meringue on top (cut to size if needed).
  24. Pipe the crème mousseline on top in even circles, about 5cm thick: leave enough room in the tin for the remaining meringue and sponge. 
  25. Spread ganache on top of the second meringue, then top with the second half of the sponge. 
  26. Spread or pipe the remaining ganache on top, then carefully place on top of the mousseline. 
  27. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour, then carefully remove the tin.
  28. To make the spikes, slowly melt the sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan. Swirl the pan occasionally, but don’t stir it. The caramel is ready when it has turned amber. 
  29. Place paper on the floor under a kitchen surface and have a heavy pan ready. Place toothpicks into the reserved whole hazelnuts then dip them into the caramel. 
  30. Secure the toothpick under the pan and over the paper and allow the caramel to drip off the hazelnut. Gently remove the toothpicks from the nuts and break off the caramel spike at the length you want and place them on top of the cake.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Chocolate & Hazelnut Biscotti

A new departure for me today, biscotti.  I have never eaten one, let alone tried to make any.  Biscotti means twice-baked, so it is a biscuit that is baked twice to make it hard and dry and very suitable for dipping into coffee or a hot chocolate sauce.  Of course there is nothing to stop one eating them just by themselves, or dunking in a cup of tea.

For this bake I decided to use a recipe from Joyofbaking - courtesy of Stephanie Jaworski, Chocolate & Hazelnut Biscotti.  I must say the aroma that comes from the oven as the biscuits bake is just wonderful and the resultant biscuit is very tasty indeed.  

Since I don't like coffee, under any circumstances, or in any shape, I didn't include the coffee element of the recipe, but Stephanie does say, in her video, that this can be omitted.  Also when trying the baked result I used a nice hot cup of English breakfast tea for dunking and thoroughly enjoyed both the tea and the biscotti.

The recipe is easy to follow and works very well indeed.  The dough is very tough and heavy and also sticky, so a fair amount of flour is required on the work surface, to mould it to the shape required. Baking is in two stages, after having roasted the hazelnuts.

I guess one could save some time by buying ready roasted nuts, but I did my own.

All in all I am very pleased with the result and will be trying a few variations in the next few weeks.
Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup (150 grams)hazelnuts
  • 4 ounces (120 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (210 grams) firmly packed light brownsugar
  • 1 3/4 cups (230 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) unsweetened cocoapowder
  • 1 tablespoon (4 grams) instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams)baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs(UK medium eggs)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). 
  2. To toast hazelnuts: spread on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant, and the skins start to blister and peel.
  3. Remove from oven and cover the nuts with a clean dish towel. 
  4. Let the nuts 'steam' for 5 minutes and then briskly rub the towel (with nuts inside) to remove the skins from the nuts. Cool and then chop coarsely.
  5. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degree F (150 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. In a food processor, fitted with the metal blade, place the coarsely chopped chocolate and brown sugar and process until the chocolate is very fine.
  7. Then, in a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda and salt.
  8. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and vanilla extract until combined (about one minute). 
  9. Add the chocolate/sugar mixture and the flour mixture and beat until a stiff dough forms, adding the hazelnuts about half way through mixing.
  10. With floured hands divide the dough in half. 
  11. On a lightly floured surface roll each half of dough into a log shape about 10 inches (25 cm) long and 2 inches (5 cm) wide. 
  12. Transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 3 inches (7.5 cm) apart.
  13. Bake until almost firm to the touch, about 35 -40 minutes(logs will spread during baking). Remove from the oven, place on wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes.
  14. Using a long spatula transfer the logs to a cutting board. 
  15. Using a serrated or sharp knife cut the dough into slices 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick on the diagonal. Arrange the slices cut-side down on the baking sheet. 
  16. Bake 15 minutes. 
  17. Turn the slices over and bake until crisp and dry, about 15 minutes.
  18.  Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. 

These are wonderful with a white chocolate glaze: Melt 3 ounces (90 grams) of chopped white chocolate in a small metal bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Dip one end of the biscotti into the chocolate and let it dry, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Store in an airtight container for several weeks.



Saturday, 6 June 2015

Lovely Lime Slices

After the success of my Lemon Slices a couple of days ago, which were very well received by the tasters, I decided to try limes with basically the same recipe.  A little addition was to try to candy some lime slices to put some small pieces on the top of each slice of cake.

As mentioned the other day this is a simple recipe, and as long as you dont overmix the batter, just ensuring that the flour and almonds are combined with the wet ingredients, success is almost assured.

As to flavour it is a fine judgement on how much lime juice to include in both the batter and for brushing over the top.  But since I love limes I didn't think I would be able to 'overdo' it.

The result is more than acceptable, with a lovely lime flavour mixed with the sweet, sugary icing and a soft, most sponge.  I know this is very similar to my last post, but I just couldn't resist making them.  I will try to come up with something entirely different for my next bake.

Lovely Lime Slices

Ingredients:
  • 175g butter, softened
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • juice and zest of 3 limes
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 2 limes, sliced for making candied lime.
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar, for coating candied lime slices
Method:
  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. 
  2. Line the base and sides of a 20cm(8 inch) square tin with baking parchment (the easiest way is to cross 2 x 20cm strips over the base). 
  3. Beat the butter, caster sugar, flour, almonds, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and the lime zest and juice from ½ lime with an electric whisk until smooth. 
  4. Scrape the mixture into the tin and bake for 25-30 mins until a skewer poked in comes out clean.
  5. Let the cake cool for a few minutes.
  6. While the cake is baking you can candy the lime slices, by bring the water and sugar to the boil and dropping the lime slices in.
  7. Simmer the lime slices gently for about 15 minutes, until the pith has gone almost translucent.
  8. Using a slotted spoon place the lime slices on a cooling rack, over a tray, and allow to cool completely.
  9. The slices will remain sticky.  
  10. With a tooth pick make holes, about an inch deep, in lines over the cake(about 1 inch apart)
  11. Brush lime juice over the cake, letting it soak in. 
  12. When the surface looks quite dry repeat the process with more lime juice.
  13. When the cake is completely cooled place the the icing sugar in a bowl and mix with about 2 tablespoons of lime juice.
  14. Mix together until you have a thick paste.  Don't use too much liquid or the icing will be too runny.
  15. Ice the top of the cake with the icing mixture, spreading it all over.  Be careful how you do this or you will pull up some of the cake.  
  16. Allow the icing to set firm, or at least firmer.
  17. Then cut the cake in half, so you have two four inch by 8 inch cakes.  
  18. Cut each of the 8 inch lengths into 6 to 8 slices.
  19. Use a hot, sharp knife to do this, so it doesn't smear too much icing down the sides as you cut.
  20. Dip each candied lime slice(or piece if you can cut them up) in caster sugar and place on top of the individual cake slices. I cut mine into small pieces as the cake slices are quite narrow.



Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Lemon Sponge Slices

I have a lovely, light, recipe today.  A lemon sponge which is covered with a lemon icing.  Not too much lemon though, as I rather like just enough of the lemon flavour in both to let you know it is there, but not enough to really swamp the taste buds.

For this recipe I was concerned that over beating the mixture would put too much air in it, resulting in a sponge that sinks.. So, although the recipe says to mix all the ingredients together at once, I mixed everything except the flour, baking powder and almonds, first, creaming them together until they were light and fluffy.  Then I just folded in the dry ingredients.  It seems to have worked quite well, since the sponge didn't sink at all, which has happened to me before.

It is very easy to over mix, particularly if using an electric mixer.  But I think I got it just right, mixing the wet ingredients in the mixer and then folding in the dry.

I am very pleased with the result, a light sponge, very moist as the lemon juice has been brushed over the top, and sweet, lemony icing.
Lemon Sponge Slices

Ingredients:
  • 175g butter, softened
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 175g icing sugar
Method:
  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. 
  2. Line the base and sides of a 20cm(8 inch) square tin with baking parchment (the easiest way is to cross 2 x 20cm strips over the base). 
  3. Beat the butter, caster sugar, flour, almonds, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and the lemon zest and juice from ½ lemon with an electric whisk until smooth. 
  4. Scrape the mixture into the tin and bake for 25-30 mins until a skewer poked in comes out clean.
  5. Let the cake cool for a few minutes.
  6. With a tooth pick make holes, about an inch deep, in lines over the cake(about 1 inch apart)
  7. Brush lemon juice over the cake, letting it soak in. 
  8. When the surface looks quite dry repeat the process with more lemon juice.
  9. When the cake is completely cooled place the the icing sugar in a bowl and mix with about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  10. Mix together until you have a thick paste.  Don't use too much liquid or the icing will be too runny.
  11. Ice the top of the cake with the icing mixture, spreading it all over.  Be careful how you do this or you will pull up some of the cake.  
  12. Allow the icing to set firm, or at least firmer.
  13. Then cut the cake in half, so you have two four inch by 8 inch cakes.  
  14. Cut each of the 8 inch lengths into 6 to 8 slices.
  15. Use a hot, sharp knife to do this, so it doesn't smear too much icing down the sides as you cut.