Saturday, 31 May 2014

BLUEBERRY CRUMBLE CAKE

I’m not usually a fan of these sorts of hybrid recipes because the original thing is usually better but, after trying a crumble cake in a café in Leeds, I think there is a place for this one. The smell of crumble through the house is always the best smell then when you find it’s topping a sweet blueberry filling, which tops a vanilla cake, you know it’s going to be a good day.

For the filling
300g blueberries
3 tbsp golden caster sugar
3 tsp corn flour

For the cake
200g golden caster sugar
200g butter, room temperature
3 eggs
200g self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
Splash of milk

For the crumble topping
100g plain flour
70g unrefined golden sugar (adds more crunch)
50g cold butter

Preheat oven to fan160/180/4. Grease and line a small square cake tin.
Put the blueberries in a sauce pan with a tiny splash of water and bring to boil. Add the sugar and allow to simmer so they break down and become jammy. Once some of the blueberries are just still holding their shape add the corn flour and remove from the heat. Allow to cool.

For the cake, beat together the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one by one, and then mix in the flour so that you have a thick batter. Stir in the vanilla extract and splash of milk to thin the mixture, but you do want it reasonably thick so that the blueberries can sit firmly on top of it.

Spoon the mixture into the tin and spread out along the base, but reserve a little bit. Spoon over the blueberries so that they cover the entire top of the cake mixture. Take the remaining cake mixture and blob over the blueberries then gently spread it out so you have a light, marbled covering of it. This is just to stop of the blueberry liquid absorbing the crumble topping.

Set to one side for a minute while you make the crumble topping. Rub together the flour, unrefined sugar and butter until you a thick bread crumb consistency. Scatter over the top of the cake, covering with a thick layer.


Bake for 50 minutes until the cake is firm and the topping golden. Leave to cool in the tin before removing and slicing into 9 squares. 


Saturday, 24 May 2014

HOT ICE

When the sun is blazing, like it recently has been, everyone wants something icy. Icecream, ice-pops, choc-ice.  Anything that brings out your inner 7 year old. I thought I’d do a slushy, granita sort of recipe, but make it more interesting by playing with the sensation you get from eating it. Hot and cold at the same time. The cold is obviously the frozen ice aspect. The hot is the fact that what is frozen is ginger ale infused with cinnamon and chilli. It tastes delicious and packs a punch.

600ml ginger ale
½ cinnamon stick
½ a red chilli
Chilli flakes and sliced crystalised ginger for topping (optional)

Put the ginger ale, cinnamon stick and half a chilli in a pan and slowly bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Allow to gently boil for a few minutes before removing from the heat and pouring through a sieve into a jug. Leave to cool.

Once cooled pour into a container and freeze for an hour before taking a fork to the mixture and giving it a good stir to break up any frozen pieces. Freeze again and repeat this process until completely frozen and the ice has a hard but slushy texture.

To serve top with the crystalised ginger and chilli flakes.


Saturday, 17 May 2014

BANOFFEE PIES

I wasn’t going to post this because I planned to make them following a recipe on the bbc good food website but by the end I changed quite a bit and put my ginger stamp on them, literally. The reason I was making banoffee pies in the first place was so that they could be eaten after a night out, alongside bread (the best post drinking food). They went down a storm, my mate even calling them ‘the best thing to grace [her] tastebuds’ and you should trust her, even if she was slightly intoxicated. They have a ginger biscuit base and caramel cream, just to make things a bit more special than the regular banoffee.

200g ginger biscuits
110g butter, melted
1  397g tin dulce de leche or Carnation caramel
200 ml double cream
2 ripe bananas
A shaving of dark chocolate (optional)

Makes 6

I used medium-holed Yorkshire puddings tins for these, lining the bottoms with parchment and an extra strip which hangs over the edges to help release them. But if you own mini loose bottomed tart tins, you’re very lucky and should use them.

Blitz the ginger biscuits in a food processor then pour in the melted butter and blitz again. Spoon the mixture into the tins and press down with the back of a spoon to form mini shells, so make sure you go up the sides. Press quite firmly because you want the base to be sturdy. Once you’ve done all six put them in the fridge for at least over an hour to set (I did overnight).

Once the bases have set release them from the tin(s). If they’re stuck a little bit, just gently tease the sides with a knife, but if you used my trick of putting a strip of baking paper under, you should be able to pull this and release them easily enough.

Into each base spoon about 2 tbsps of the caramel, spreading out a little. Then chop the bananas, I did them on a slight diagonal and reasonably thin, and arrange them on top of the caramel. You can usually get about 3 or 4 in each tart, depending on the size of the cut.


Whip up the cream until it just becomes stiff and then take a few heaped tablespoons of the caramel and mix in. Spoon onto each tart, swirling around a little to make a fluffy effect. To finish take a tiny amount of the caramel and drop onto of the cream. With a tooth pick ripple it around, just to make a nice little pattern on the top. Grate a tiny bit of chocolate on to the side too and then place (and keep) in the fridge until ready for eating, which in my case was 4.30am. 


Saturday, 10 May 2014

HONEY SHORTBREAD FINGERS

I had plans for making lemon thyme or lavender short bread, imaging there was some growing in the garden. When I got there we had parsley, basil, bay, mint and rosemary, none of which I fancied putting in shortbread. I searched the kitchen for an alternative, resisting ginger and lemon since I use them in every other recipe and decided on honey, which makes these already rich biscuits that little bit richer.
I didn’t intend these shortbread fingers to look this monstrous, they grew huge in the oven, so cut them smaller if you wish.

250g plain flour
85g golden caster sugar
170g butter, room temperature
2 tbsp honey

 Heat the oven to fan140/160c/3. Line 2 baking trays with parchment.
To make the shortbread mix the flour and sugar in a bowl then rub in the butter until the mixture goes clumpy. Add the honey then begin to kneed in the bowl, until the mixture forms a workable dough. Transfer onto a surface then roll out, to the thickness of about 2 £1 coins stacked (I couldn’t think of a better description sorry).


Even off the sides of the dough with a knife then begin to cut into rectangular fingers. Reroll the any off cuts or mistakes and continue until you have used all the mixture and filled the trays with shortbread fingers.

 Bake for about 20-25 minutes towards the bottom of the oven, covering the tops of the trays with a piece of baking paper to stop any fingers catching. Once baked transfer straight onto a wire rack. If they felt a bit spongy at first don't worry, they’ll crisp on the rack. 


Saturday, 3 May 2014

PISTACHIO CAKE

I find it hard to describe the flavour of pistachios; I think they have a warmth about them, so basically they just perk up this very basic sponge with subtle nuttiness. Green is my favourite colour and I’m always attracted to pistachio cake in shops mainly because of that reason. When I baked this cake the outside was golden so I expected not much green inside. I thought I hadn’t cracked it. Adding loads of pistachios for full on green impact would have cost a bomb and I’m really not into food colouring. I was surprised though. The inside does have a subtle green tinge which is nice (fluorescent food is never good). I think overall the word that describes this cake best is subtle, even down to the basic buttercream. Subtlety is a winner.

For the Cake
250g butter, room temperature
250g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
225g self raising flour
100g shelled pistachios, blitzed in a food processor (I roasted pistachios with the shells on and removed them myself)
Couple of splashes of milk

For the Buttercream
175g butter, room temperature
300g icing sugar
A handful of pistachios to decorate

Heat oven the oven to fan170/190c/5. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Alternate adding the eggs and flour until you get smooth batter then add the blitzed pistachios and mix in well so that the mixture is tinged with green. If the batter seems too thick, loosen with some milk until it just falls from the spoon. 

Pour the mixture equally between the two tins then bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and springy to touch. Once baked, leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tins before turning each out and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the buttercream, gently whip the butter until smooth whilst gradually adding the icing sugar until it’s all incorporate and silky.


To assemble, take the cooled cakes and cut off any peaked parts (and eat these bits-the perks of baking it) so that the cakes a level for stacking. Spoon half of the buttercream over one the cakes and smooth out. Place the other cake on top before piling the remainder of the buttercream on top and scattering over a handful of pistachios. Enjoy.