Thursday, 23 August 2012

Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Bundt

That's quite a thick layer of ganache, there.

A lot of things were supposed to happen today...well, some things any way. I went to work and was all finished by 12.30 (yay for me!) and then nothing else was really falling in to place. So I thought I would cheer myself up by doing a spot of baking. Once the cake was in the oven I got a very excellent phone call! So then there was something to celebrate, and then as if by magic - there was a cake!

I opted for a marbled chocolate and vanilla bundt with a nice thick layer of dark chocolate ganache. Death by chocolate? Perhaps! It's your average nice-and-simple 4 egg Victoria sponge with one half laced with vanilla and the other with some chocolate. Easy.

4 eggs. Weigh them whole and then use that as the weight for the other ingredients
butter, at room temperature
caster sugar
self raising flour

200g dark chocolate, chopped
2 tblsp cocoa
120ml cream
2 vanilla pods/ 1/2 tsp extract

- Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a bundt/ring tin
- beat the butter until nice and fluffy and then add the sugar and beat till light and fluffy. It's all very fluffy.
- add the eggs one at a time, beating aster each addition. Add in a tablespoon of the flour if it starts to look as though it may curdle.
- Sift in the flour and fold in until everything is mixed in well.
- divide the batter in to two. In one half, add the seeds of a vanilla pod (or two) or 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. In the other half, mix in the cocoa and then melt 50g of the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over boiling water. Add this to the chocolate half and stir to combine. 
- add both sets of batter in to the tin as you like. Swirl it around a bit with a knife. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean!
- once baked, leave in the tin for 5 mins and then turn out on to a wire rack.
- heat the cream in a sauce pan until it starts to come to the boil. Add the rest of the chocolate and whisk until its lovely and melted and thick and ganache-like. Spoon on to the top so it starts to run down the sides.
- leave to cool, slice and enjoy!

Monday, 20 August 2012


Much better than from a packet!

Today was exceedingly hot and stuffy, so I decided that I should take a trip to a lake or a river after work. Then I remembered how lazy I am and how a warm day is the perfect day for bread. I've wanted to bake some bagels for a while and thought, today is the day!

I didn't really have anything in the way of a topping -  I like lots of seeds on my bagels - but I did try to introduce a little sultana and cinnamon in to half the dough. But I did it after it had proven, so I had some fun pushing the little dried fruits in to the dough and watching them ping out again.

This recipe will make 8 fairly decent sized bagels for breakfast and lunch styled treats.

450g strong bread flour
sachet of active dried yeast (7g)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
300ml lukewarm water

a big pan of water with 1 tblsp honey and 1 tblsp sugar

- pour 100ml of the warm water in to a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface and then sprinkle the sugar on the top (this should help the yeast to sink). Let it sit for 10 mins (do not stir) until it's nice and frothy. Then stir to dissolve.
- mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the yeasty mixture, then top it up with just about all of the rest of the lukewarm water.
- mix together until it's of a lovely soft consistency, but not too sticky. Tip out on to a floured work surface and knead for about 10 mins until smooth and elastic. Form in to a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, drape some cling film over the top and leave to rise for an hour in a warm place.
- Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with paper.
- Get the big pan of water on to boil.
- punch the dough a bit and leave again for a few minutes. (This is when I decided to make half the dough cinnamon and sultana). Divide the dough in to 8 - 10 equal sized lumps and shape in to balls. Do this by rolling it around in a circular motion on the work surface with the palm of your hand. Stick your finger (or the end of a wooden spoon) into the middle and wiggle it about until you have a hole. 
- add the bagels two at a time to the pan of boiling sugary water. Boil on each side for 1 minute, remove, drain and then place the 'right way up' on to the baking tray. Now would be the time to top them with some tasty seeds if you have them to hand.
look at that sultana still trying to escape!
- bake for 25 minutes, leave to cool on a wire rack, slice them open and enjoy with your favourite bagel toppings. Mine's banana and honey.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut Friands

Chocolate Hazelnut Friands.
After having a custard experiment disaster the other day, I had an awful lot of egg whites to use up. I didn't really fancy meringues and decided that friands were on the cards, mostly due to how affordable mountains of nuts are here. I opted for a tasty nutella inspired chocolate and hazelnut concoction. Unfortunately I had to dash out to work just as they'd finished baking. I have a lack of tupperware here and they lost the fight against the open air. Still tasty though!

200g ground hazelnuts
175g unsalted butter
6 egg whites
160g plain flour
2 tblsp cocoa
230g icing sugar, plus more for dusting

-preheat the oven to 200C and grease a 12 hole muffin/friand tin
- heat the butter in a small saucepan until melted. Keep an eye on it and take off the heat once it's gone nice and brown - this adds a nutty loveliness to the butter. Remove, strain for darkened milk solids and keep to the side.
- whisk the whites until frothy, not peaky, just nice and foamy. 
-sift the dry ingredients in to a large bowl and stir the nuts in. Make a well in the centre and add the egg whites and the cooled butter. Mix to combine. 
- spoon this in to the tin and bake for 25 mins, checking after 20. A skewer should come out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack
- dust liberally with icing sugar and serve!#

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Peach and Almond Tarts

This week I remembered how much I love peaches. Then I remembered how much I love anything that tastes like almonds. And then I remembered how delicious home made rough puff pastry is. 

For the Rough Puff Pastry:
This makes 500g of pastry, you only really need half this amount for the tarts, but it's always nice to have left overs in the fringe or freezer (just make sure you stack the trimmings rather than scrunch them).

250g very cold butter, cubed
250g plain white flour
125ml iced water
5g salt

For the filling:
100g ground almonds
100g soft butter
1 egg
25g sugar
a few drops of almond extract
3-4 ripe peaches, depending on size, sliced finely in to crescents
a little vanilla sugar for dusting

For the pastry:
- weigh out all the ingredients. Tip the flour out on to a cool, clean surface and make a well in the centre. Tip the butter in to the centre and start to scrunch the butter in to the flour. Keep doing this until the flour and butter are fairly well mixed. You want to have pretty big lumps of butter throughout the flour.
-Add around half the water and mix it in with your fingers to form a dough. Add enough water that it starts to come together but is not sticky (you probably won't need all of it)
-very gently knead it so it forms a ball. Roll this out so that the length is 3 times the width.
-Now start folding: bring the bottom edge in to the middle of the length, then fold the top down over this (like a business letter)
- turn this folded dough one quarter to the right. Roll again so that it is 3 times longer than it is wide. Fold again in the same way. Make a mark in the dough using two fingertips (to remind you that you have done two folds. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for 20 mins.
-repeat this rolling and folding twice more, mark it with four finger dents and return to the fridge for 20 mins.
Hooray! We have rough puff ready to use. Cut this block in half and save the other half for another recipe.
puffy buttery layers. Om nom nom

For the tarts: 
-heat the over to 200C and line a baking tray with paper
-mix together all the filling ingredients except the peaches.
- roll out the pastry to about 2mm thick. Either using a small saucer as a guide and cutting around it, or using a pastry cutter (10cm diameter) cut out 4 rounds. Place them on the baking sheet.
- add a tablespoon of the almond mixture to each of these discs and spread nearly to the edges.
-arrange the peaches on top in a circular fashion, overlapping the central corners as you go.
- bake for 10 mins. After 10, remove from the oven, sprinkle with the vanilla sugar and turn upside-down (this can be tricky) so the bottom of the pasty can cook and puff up. Cook for a further 10 mins. Turn them back up the right way round and bake for a further 2 mins (if they need extra time).

-And there you have them! Warm, melt in the mouth buttery peachy loveliness.

recipe adapted from Good Food magazine