Sunday, 28 February 2016

Lemon Yogurt Loaf Cake - Lemon Yoghurt Loaf Cake

Yoghurt in a cake gives it a nice moist texture, so today I decided to make a Lemon Yoghurt(or Yogurt depending on where you live) Loaf Cake.

This is a simple recipe with just a handful of ingredients, but what ingredients they are.  Lemon is high on the list of my favourite flavours and this cake has it in abundance. Add the yoghurt in and you get the lovely moistness too.  Although the batter has only the zest of the lemon that is almost flavour enough since it has the strongest flavour of the whole fruit.  But when the cake is baked a lovely lemon syrup is poured over the cake to add to the flavour and give even more moistness.  Then to top it all off a nice, sweet and sharp icing is drizzled over the top.

What could be better than that?  Practically nothing I would venture to say.  

Now in my recipe I used melted butter but it is perfectly OK to use oil instead.  However since the fat content of butter is less than with oil an adjustment would have to be made.  120g of oil could be used instead of the butter, but then you should also increase the amount of yoghurt by about 35ml.
Lemon Yoghurt Loaf Cake

                               Lemon Yoghurt Loaf Cake - Video
  • 210g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 205ml plain whole milk yoghurt
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • 160g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 80ml freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  • 65g of additional caster sugar
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice.
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F.  Grease and flour a 2lb(900g) loaf tin(you can also line the bottom with parchment paper if you wish)
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl add the eggs, 200g sugar, yoghurt, vanilla extract and lemon zest and whisk until fully combined.
  4. Pour the flour mixture over the top of the wet mixture and whisk, or stir, to combine.
  5. Add the melted butter and stir in until fully combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake in the oven for 50 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.
  7. Remove the loaf from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before removing from the tin.
  8. Place the 65g caster sugar and 80 ml of lemon juice into a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes and then remove from the heat.
  9. With the loaf on a wire rack, over a tray, make some holes in the top with a skewer and pour the syrup slowly over it, allowing the syrup to soak in.
  10. In a bowl place the icing sugar and the 2 tbsp of lemon juice and mix until you have an icing of a thick, dropping consistency.
  11. Drip the icing over the top of the loaf cake allowing it to spread over the sides if you wish.
  12. Allow the icing to set a little and then cut the cake and eat it.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Whole Grain Cranberry Breaksfast Muffins

I read a wonderful recipe in the New York Times, for some blueberry muffins made with whole grains.  I wanted to try this out, but I prefer cranberries in muffins, so I adapted the recipe to suit that taste. I reduced the volumes of the various ingredients as well, since I didn't need so many muffins as that recipe would make.

These muffins are not over-sweet and are ideal for breakfast, for those in a hurry in the mornings.  They also freeze very well so if you make a big batch you can always pop some in the freezer for later.

The recipe takes no time to prepare, as with all muffins.  In fact the longest time really is weighing out a multitude of different ingredients, and then the washing of the pots afterwards.  Still that is not much to pay for such a delightful muffin.  These really do hit the spot, with the cranberries and the crunch of some walnut, as well as the spicy taste of nutmeg and cinnamon.  Add a streusel topping and you have a perfect start to a busy day.

I thoroughly recommend trying this recipe, whether it be from the NYT, with blueberries, or from here using the same volumes as I did.  I used tulip papers to line the muffin tin and I wanted large muffins, so the mixture made 11 good sized ones.  If using normal muffin cases you will probably get 12 with ease.
Wholegrain Cranberry Muffins

Wholegrain Cranberry Muffins - Video
For the muffins mixture:
  • 120g plain flour
  • 35g wholemeal(wholewheat) flour or wheatgerm
  • 45g cornmeal
  • 35g rolled oats
  • 70g light brown sugar(dark brown is fine too)
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground nutmeg
  • 200ml buttermilk
  • 160ml coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 80ml maple syrup
  • 2 medium eggs(USA large)
  • 100g grated carrot
  • 130g dried cranberries
  • 57g chopped walnuts(or pecans)
for the streusel:
  • 35g light brown sugar
  • 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
  • 30g cold butter, cubed
  • 30g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/18c Fan/400F.  Line a muffin tin with paper cases, or grease it well.
  2. Make the muffins: In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flours, cornmeal, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. 
  3. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, mix the wet ingredients: buttermilk, oil, maple syrup and eggs and add the carrots too. 
  4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently mix just until blended. Don’t worry about a few lumps or streaks of flour. rrotStir in the, blueberries and nuts if using. 
  5. In a small bowl, mix and pinch all the streusel ingredients together until blended and crumbly. (If using butter, cut into small pieces first.)
  6. Using an ice-cream scoop or small ladle, divide thick batter among muffin cups, filling almost to the top. Mound the batter slightly in the center of each cup; this will help make a domed muffin top. 
  7. Use your fingers to divide streusel over batter and press lightly onto the surface.
  8. Place muffin tin in oven and bake for 20-22 minutes, until a tester inserted into center of muffin comes out moist but clean. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. Cool muffins in pan on rack, then remove from tin.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Linzer Torte - Austrian Jam Tart Cake

I  came across Linzer Torte when viewing some videos on youtube.  It seems, having done some research, that it is the oldest recorded cake, dating back to about 1653.  Basically it is a pastry dough covered with jam and topped with a lattice of more dough.  The dough is made from ground nuts, often hazelnut or almonds, or a mixture of both.  Blackcurrants seem to be the popular jam flavour in days gone by but these days often raspberry jam is used.

Having looked at several recipes and watched some videos I decided that I would use ground almonds and raspberry jam.  The dough is easy to make in a processor, but it can also be done by hand, rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients until it is like breadcrumbs and then gently bringing it together with egg yolks and vanilla extract.

I did mine in a processor, since it takes much less time.  Then having lined the tart tin with dough and covered it in jam I chilled it in the fridge with the remaining dough.  It was then just a matter of rolling out the remaining dough and cutting it into strips to form the lattice cover. Keeping the dough chilled is key to that part since it is very short and likely to break very easily.

I am very pleased with the result of my efforts, it turned out to be very tasty indeed, and since I had some home made custard available it went down very well with that.
Linzer Torte
Linzer Torte with custard


  • 210g ground almonds
  • 195g plain flour
  • 135g caster sugar
  • 195g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 2 eggs yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 200g of raspberry jam
  • Icing sugar, for dusting.


  1. In a food processor place all the dry ingredients and blitz to mix.
  2. Add the chilled butter and process to a fine breadcrumb consistency.
  3. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and process until just combined, do not over mix.
  4. Remove from the processor and pull the dough into a ball.
  5. Cut of between a quarter and a third and set aside in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap.
  6. Press the rest of the dough into a greased 24cm fluted tart pan, until even over the base and push about half way up the sides.
  7. Spread the jam over the level dough until evenly coated.
  8. Place the flan tin, covered, in the fridge and leave for one hour.
  9. Remove the excess dough from the fridge and roll out, between parchment paper until it is about the same size as the base of the flan.
  10. Cut into about 10 strips(5 will be placed on the flan and then the other five place on top in the other direction).
  11. Place the dough back into the fridge for at least 10 minutes so that it firms up.
  12. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F.
  13. Place a baking tray in the oven to heat at the same time.
  14. Remove the flan tin and the strips of dough from the fridge.
  15. Gently place 5 strips over the flan and then turn the tine one quarter turn and place the other 5 strips on the top.
  16. Press the end to the side of the flan dough.
  17. Bake in the oven, on the baking tray, for 35 minutes until a nice golden brown.
  18. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the tin.
  19. Dust with some icing sugar and then cut to serve.  I served with some custard, but cream would be fine.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Lemon & Blueberry Friands

Friands are a lovely light cake, originally of French origin I believe, which is now very popular in Australia and New Zealand.  Usually they are made in a special pan, with oval cups that have straight sides, but they can equally well be made in a muffin pan.

Similar to financiers which I often make, but slightly lighter and just as delicious.  For mine I decided that lemon and blueberries would be a very good addition.  The basis for the friands, as with financiers is ground almonds and egg whites.  It is a simple recipe and takes very little time to prepare and bake.  So these are easy to do and can be ready in no time at all.

Mine turned out very well indeed, I was very pleased with just how light and tasty they were, with a lovely lemon flavour and the softened blueberries giving an extra hit.  

You should try these, using a muffin pan if you don't want to search for, and buy, a special tin.  You will be very impressed with the results.
Lemon & Blueberry Friands

                            Lemon & Blueberry Friands - Video
  • 185g melted and cooled butter
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 50g plain flour
  • 6 medium(USA large) egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of two lemons, grated
  • 80-150g blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F.
  2. Grease a twelve hole friand of muffin pan.
  3. Sift the icing sugar and the flour into a large bowl.
  4. Add the ground almonds and stir in to combine.
  5. Whisk the egg whites until they are light and frothy but have not reached soft peaks.
  6. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg whites and vanilla extract.
  7. Mix until combined into a batter.
  8. Add the lemon zest and pour the melted butter over the top, then mix it in until it it fully combined.
  9. Divide the mixture equally into the 12 cups of the pan.
  10. Drop 5 or 6 blueberries into each cup so that they start to sink a little.
  11. Bake in the oven for 20 to 22 minutes until the friands are springy when the tops are pressed.
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then gently remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Chocolate Macarons - A French Delight

I have tried to make macarons before, and they were reasonable good.  Today I decided to try to make some more, this time Chocolate Macarons.

There seem to be two ways to prepare macarons, one involves whipping egg whites to stiff peaks and then to work them into the dry ingredients, which are ground almonds and icing sugar, and in my case some cocoa powder.  The second method is to use the Italian meringue method using a hot syrup when whisking the egg whites.  It is the second method that I decided to give a try.  This seemed to work very well, giving a nice texture to the batter when combined.  When baked they worked well too, giving a small foot during cooking to make, what I consider, to be a perfect macaron.

Making macarons is not the easiest thing to do, but if you get it right it is most certainly very rewarding.  The important thing is to use exact measurements, this means to weigh everything accurately and not to rely on cup measurements which can be rather inexact.

For mine I wanted to colour the meringue but not to much, so that they contrasted nicely with a chocolate ganache filling.  So I used some cocoa powder instead of some of the icing sugar.  This gave a nice colour to the meringues and just a hint of flavour too. 

When the meringues are made they taste good, but for the fullest flavour they should be refrigerated for 24 hours.  This allows the texture to change, so that the crispy outside softens slightly and the flavour that is the filling can be asorbed somewhat into the macarons.  

They keep very well in the fridge for up to a week and they can be frozen too, for about a month.  So it isn't necessary to eat them all at one time, but can be savoured just a few at a time over a few weeks.
Chocolate Macarons

Chocolate Macarons - Video
For the meringue:
  • 212g ground almonds
  • 184g icing sugar
  • 28g cocoa powder
  • 82g egg whites
  • a further 90g egg whites
  • 236g granulated, or caster,  sugar
  • 158g water
For the choclate ganache:
  • 115g dark chocolate chips
  • 120g double cream
  • 25g softened butter, cubed
  1. In a food processor place the ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder and blitz for about 30 seconds to mix together and to chop the ground almonds even finer.
  2. Sieve the mixture into a large bowl.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture and pour in 82 grams of egg whites.
  4. Mix together until fully combined and then set aside.
  5. Place the water and caster sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  6. Use a thermometer to test the temperature of the sugar until it reaches 107-110C(about 225 F).
  7. At that point continue heating the syrup whilst whisking the 90g of egg whites to soft peaks.
  8. When the syrup as reached 115C (about 240F) remove from the heat.
  9. The egg whites should have reached soft peaks so gently start pouring the syrup into the mixture, close to the side of the bowl so that it does hit the whisk.
  10. Continue whisking on high until you have achieved stiff peaks.
  11. Once you have the egg whites at stiff peaks you need to combined them into the almond mixture to combine.  To do with fold them in, fairly gently, and keep going until you have reached a thick ribbon consistency.  When some batter falls off the spatula in should slowly combine back into the mixture, leaving no peaks.
  12. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F.
  13. Line two baking trays(you will need to do this twice as their will be two batches), with parchment paper.
  14. Place the batter into a piping bag with a 1/2 in nozzle fitted.
  15. Pipe the mixture in 1 1/2 blobs(about an inch or so apart), holding the nozzle upright.  A little peak will appear as you lift the bag, this should disappear by sinking back into the batter.
  16. When you have piped all the batter for two baking sheets lift the baking sheets and drop them back onto the counter, a couple of times, to allow any air to escape from the batter.
  17. Leave the baking sheets to settle for about 20 to 30 minutes, by which time the tops should have formed a skin, so that they are not tacky to the touch.
  18. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 12 minutes.  The macarons should have risen slightly forming a shallow foot on the bottom.  Gently push one macaron and if it is wobbly leave them for a further minute of two.  It they are not wobbly remove them from the oven.
  19. Remove the baking parchment from the baking sheet and allow the macarons to cool before gently lifting them onto a wire rack.
  20. Repeat the process for the remaining batter.
  21. As the macaron shells are cooking completely heat the double cream unti almost boiling.
  22. Place the chocolate chips into bowl and pour the heated cream over them.
  23. After a minute stir the mixture until the chocolate has melted into the cream.
  24. Add the butter and stir until it too has melted.
  25. Leave to cool and then place into a piping bag.
  26. Pair the macaron shells into evenly sized pairs, turning one of each pair upside down.
  27. Pipe some chocolate ganache onto each upturned shell and cover with its pair.
  28. Refrigerate for 24 hours to obtain the best texture and flavour.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Raspberry Financiers

Those of you who may follow my blog postings will know that I love Financiers.  Today I made some, with raspberries too.  Financiers are a wonderfully moist almond cake and these, today, with the raspberry are simply delicious.

In my previous versions of financiers I have always chilled the batter overnight before baking.  But since I have seen many recipes that don't bother with that I thought I would forego the chilling too, just to see what the difference might be.

I also departed from my use of my financier moulds, as I wanted to put the raspberry in the middle of each cake.  So I used two shallow mince pie/jam tart tins instead and they worked very well.

Once baked the fnanciers are slightly crispy around the edge, but when they are stored in an airtight container the crisp edges become nice and soft and the whole cake is moist and slightly tacky to the touch.

These with the addition of a raspberry and a little jam in the centre really do taste so good.  The recipe below will make about 34 financiers and they store very well.  You can even freeze them for a couple of months too.
Raspberry Financiers

Raspberry Financiers - Video

  • 120g plain flour
  • 270g ground almonds
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 305ml egg whites
  • 100g golden syrup
  • 340g butter
  • about 36 raspberries
  • 2 tbsp seedless raspberry jam
  1. Sift the flour and sugar together, into a large bowl.
  2. Mix in the ground almonds.
  3. Add the egg whites and golden syrup and stir until everything is combined.
  4. In a pan melt the butter and cook until it starts to colour. Once the butter solids have turned a dark golden colour take of the heat.
  5. Immediately pour the butter into the batter mixture and stir until it is all combined.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220C/220C Fan/430F.
  7. Grease some shallow jam tart tins(muffin tins would be ok, but only fill to half full at most).
  8. Spoon the batter into the tins, filling to just below the rim.
  9. Place a raspberry, nose down, into the middle of each portion of batter.
  10. Drip a little raspberry jam into the hole of the raspberry.
  11. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven.  The edges will be slightly crispy and the rest will be soft and moist. 
  13. Remove from the mould and place on a rack to cool. As they cool down the edges will soften also.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Healthy Carrot & Banana Breakfast Muffins

I saw another lovely recipe on Donal Skehan's site. It was for a muffin made with the pulp of juiced carrots and apples with ginger.  I was intrigued and decided to make a version of my own, but using carrot pulp only.  Certainly this recipe is a novel use of the pulp left over from juicing.  So I set about making the muffins, adjusting the recipe to suit my needs.

Firstly I juiced the carrots and then took a break, to drink the juice.  Then it was on with the recipe and it is so very easy, as is the case with most muffins.  It is not only easy but produces a lovely muffin, ideal for a quick munch at breakfast.  Topped with a chocolate ganache as well it makes an ideal mid morning treat too, with a cup of tea.  The recipe doesn't use butter or sugar, just the sweetness of the golden syrup.  It uses coconut oil, which I had never used before, and I was very impressed.  Usually I don't like oil in muffins, as there seems to be a particular taste that pervades them, but in this case you don't taste the oil at all.

My version turned out very well indeed, a lovely moist and tasty muffin that really fills you up and leaves you very satisfied.  This is well worth the little time needed to make.
Carrot & Banana Muffins

                                Carrot & Banana Muffins - Video
For the muffins:
  • 200g plain flour
  • 200g rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • half a teaspoon of salt
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 75ml golden syrup
  • 250ml  milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 150g pulp from juiced carrots
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
For the chocolate glaze:
  • 3 tbsp raw cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp honey 
  • 100g coconut oil, melted
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F
Line a muffin tin with cases, or grease the cups.
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.
In a large measuring jug, whisk together the golden syrup, milk, eggs, bananas, carrot pulp and coconut oil. 
Pour the wet ingredient mixture into the dry ingredients and fold through until just combined.
Divide the mixture between the individual muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes, or until they have risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. 
Allow the muffins to cool completely on a wire rack while you prepare the glaze.In a bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, honey and coconut oil until you have a smooth mixture. 
If the coconut oil is still warm allow the mix to cooland thicken slightly before glazing.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Swedish Sticky Chocolate Cake - Kladdkaka

I have been watching lots of videos of how to make this wonderfully moist cake.  Kladdkaka is a Swedish cake, moist and sticky inside.  In fact in some recipes the moistness is slightly runny.  I didn't want a runny centre, so I opted to follow a recipe by Donal Skehan, where everything is mixed in a single pot and then poured into a cake tin to bake.

It is just so simple and the resultant cake is so very tasty.   I passed a link to Donal's video to my sister in Canada.  She has made it too and reported by 'exquisite', so that is a testament in itself.

I also have a friend in South Carolina who is going to make it today and take it, I think, to his Super Bowl get together.

So get to it guys, have a go at this.  This is one that just wont fail.
Kladdkaka - Swedish Sticky Chocolate Cake

                  Kladdkaka - Swedish Sticky Chocolate Cake - Video
  • 100g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 70g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder (I used 4tbsp - 30grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract(I didn't use this, but only because I forgot)
  • Icing sugar, to dust
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Grease a 20cm cake tin with a removable base, grease the tin and line with parchment paper.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan. 
  4. Remove from the heat, add the sugar and eggs and mix well.
  5. Add the flour, cocoa and vanilla and mix until combined.
  6. Pour into the prepared cake tin and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Dust with icing sugar, if you wish, before serving.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Decadent Chocolate Cake

A nice rich chocolate cake is sometimes a treat that is well worth the effort.  For mine I made two reasonably thin chocolate cakes and layered them with some cherry jam and a lovely, rich, chocolate cream.  Then I finished it all off with a silky chocolate ganache.

So this is definitely a cake for lovers of chocolate and cream.  It does takes some time to make, but is not difficult.  It is just a matter of waiting for things to cool or to set and then everything has come together to make a fantastic treat.

As long as you get organised making the cakes first, and allowing them to cool completely. it is then just a case of whipping up some sugar, cream and cocoa powder to make a lovely filling and topping.  Then more cream with chocolate to make the ganache and that is all there is to it.

Mine turned out very nicely and it tastes fantastic, though it is quite rich so a small slice may be enough for most people.
Decadent Chocolate Cake

I made a video of this recipe, but forgot to turn the camera on for pouring the ganache, so that part is missing and I just give a brief explanation.  It seems that filming can be just as tricky as baking.

Decandent Chocolate Cake
for the cake:
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 90ml boiling water
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 60ml milk
  • 100g/soft unsalted butter
  • 300g caster sugar
  • (if you want an extra rise in the cake you can include a heaped teaspoon of baking powder as well)
For a syrup:
  • 100ml water
  • 100g sugar
  • 2tbsp dark rum
For the filling:
  • 500ml double cream(heavy cream is fine)
  • 200g condensed milk
  • 45g cocoa powder, sifted
For the chocolate ganache:
  • 250g dark chocolate in chips or chopped into small pieces
  • 250ml double cream(heavy cream is fine)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F and grease two 8 inch cake tins, with loose bottoms.  Line the bottoms with baking parchment.
  2. In a stand mixer(you can do this all by hand) put the cocoa powder and pour in the boiling water.
  3. Mix with the paddle attachment to make a nice thick paste.
  4. Add all the other cake ingredients and beat until fully combined, but to not overmix.
  5. Divide the batter evenly into the two cakes tins and bake for 25 minutes, until the cake has started to come away from the edge of the tin and the top is springy to the touch.
  6. Allow to cool in the tins for at least 10 minutes and then turn out on to a cooling racka nd leave to cool completely.
  7. For the syrup bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan.  
  8. Let is bubble for a couple of minutes and then pour into a bowl.
  9. Add the rum and stir.
  10. Set aside for later.
  11. In a stand mixer(or by hand) whisk the 500ml of cream with the condensed milk and the 45g cocoa powder until it is very thick.
  12. Place in the fridge to firm it up, for about an hour.
  13. Brush some of the syrup all over each of the cakes and let it soak in.
  14. One one of the cakes spread a layer of cherry jam.
  15. Then spread one third of the cream filling on top of the jam.
  16. Place the second cake on top and use the remaining cream filling to cover the top and sides of the whole cake.
  17. Place in the fridge for at least three hours to allow the cream to firm up.
  18. Place the 250 ml of cream into a small saucepan and heat until just simmering.
  19. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until it has melted into a nice, smooth and silky liquid.  
  20. This is going to be poured over the cake, so if it is too thick for pouring add a tablespoon or two of warm milk to thin it out a little.
  21. Remove the cake from the fridge and place on a wire rack, over a baking tray.
  22. Pour the chocolate ganache over the top of the cake and use a spatula to level it off, letting ganache run down the sides to fully coat the cake. 
  23. Place the cake back in the fridge for a few hours more to allow the ganache to firm up.
  24. The ganache that has dripped into the baking tray can be put into an piping bag and allowed to cool for piping onto the top of the cake as an extra adornment, if required.
  25. When the ganache has firmed up remove the cake from the fridge and cut a slice, using a sharp knife dipped into hot water(and then dried) so that it cuts cleanly through the ganache.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Individual Beef And Mushroom Pies

I decided I wanted to make something savoury, but with baking involved.  So for this I chose to make some individual beef and mushroom pies.  For this sort of pie you can use whatever ingredients you wish but I opted for beef, mushrooms, carrots and onions, with a nice rich gravy.

Some people like a pot pie type, where there is only a lid of pastry on the top of the meat, but I actually prefer a full pie, where the filling is entirely enclosed.  I also have a preference for shortcrust pastry, rather than puff, for savoury dishes, so I opted to make that.

When making shortcrust pastry you also have a choice of which shortening agent to use.  Some use butter, others butter and lard and I decided on just lard.  Lard gives a nice crisp to the pastry and the base tends to cook better, when there is a wet filling.

The first thing to do is to make the filling and I did that, removing the contents from the gravy.  Although the gravy was quite thick I wanted to make it thicker still, so that I could place the meat into the pie and put the gravy on top.  During cooking the gravy will thin and slide through the filling coating the meat nicely.  That also means that the pastry base has time to bake and not become soggy.

Then it was time to make the shortcrust pastry, keeping it quite dry and crumbly, even during rolling out.  The benefit of this type of pastry is that the rolling doesn't have to be perfect as it is easy to patch any defects with extra pastry.

I did one test pie first just to see how it would turn out. That would allow me to adjust my method a little if necessary.  In the event the test pie was just great, with the pastry cooked perfectly and the filling was nice and moist.  

So then it was straight on to making the remaining pies.  I am am very pleased with the results of this little experiment.  So I have a nice batch of pies, and can freeze some for later use. They will just need to be reheated in the oven, on a low heat, to make them perfect for the table.

This recipe made 8 individual pies.  I used tin foil pie cases for 5, including my test pie, and 3 oval pie dishes for the other 3.  Both types had the same volume even though the tin foil ones were taller, they were not so long and wide.  The pies weighed 250g after baking, so almost 9 ounces.

I judge this to be a very successful experiment, resulting in a most tasty pie.
Beef and Mushroom Pie
  • 1kg diced beef(I used skirt which is just great for pies)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 3 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and then sliced.
  • 300g of button mushrooms, sliced or quartered.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 500g beef stock
  • 2tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 3tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped or grated
  • 3tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp cornflour, for extra thickening
  • 650g plain flour
  • 250g lard
  • 100ml ice cold water
  • 1 large egg, for egg wash
  1. For the filling dice the meat, onions and chop the carrots and mushrooms.
  2. Place the oil in a frying pan saute the onions and carrots, on a medium heat, for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.
  3. Remove the carrots and onions from the pan and fry off the meat, to brown it, in the same pan.  Do the meat in batches so that it fries rather than steams.
  4. Place the onions, carrots, garlic and mushrooms into a large pot, that has a lid.
  5. Add the ketchup, worcestershire sauce and beef stock to the pot as well.
  6. Toss the browned beef in the plain flour until coated and add to the pot as well.
  7. Add salt and pepper to your taste.
  8. Bring the pot to the boil and then cover with the lid and allow to cook gently for about an hour and a half, until the diced meat is cooked.
  9. Strain the filling into a bowl, leaving the stock in the pot.  
  10. Bring back to the boil.
  11. Add a little water to the cornflour and stir into a paste with no lumps.
  12. Gradually add the cornflour to the stock, stirring all the time, until the stock thickens to a lovely thick consistency.
  13. Pour into a jug and allow to set.
  14. When the meat filling has cooled completely you can place it, covered, into the fridge until you need it for the pies.
  15. In a large bowl place the plain flour and the lard, chopped into squares.
  16. Cut the lard into the flour until it has combined into fine breadcrumbs(you can do this in a food processor)
  17. Add the iced water, a tablespoon at a time, and cut into the flour mixture until it starts to come together.  Mine took about 90ml water.
  18. Using your hands pull the flour mixture into one large ball of dough.  Cover with cling film and refrigerate for about an hour.
  19. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.  Place a baking tray into the oven to heat up at the same time.
  20. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and cut into pieces that can be individually rolled to make the linings of the pie cases.  Line the cases, do not grease them.
  21. Use a pastry brush to egg wash the pastry base.
  22. Fill the pie cases with enough filling to come just below the top level of the case.
  23. Spoon some of the set stock over the top of the filling, spreading it evenly over the filling.
  24. Roll out more pastry to cover the tops of the pies.
  25. Egg wash the edge of the pastry in the pie cases and place the pastry lid on top. Press down all around the edges to seal.
  26. Egg was the top of the pies, cutting an 'X' into the centre to allow out any steam.
  27. Place the pies onto the heated baking tray and place back in the oven to bake for 40 minutes, until the top has gone a nice golden brown.
  28. Remove the pies from the oven place, still in the pie cases, on a wire rack to cool a little before serving.
  29. You can allow to cool completely and then freeze them(or chill them) for later use.  If you do you then need to reheat them fully in the oven.