Posts from the ‘Recipes’ category

Walnut cake feature
W&G on FacebookW&G on Twitter

This recipe is inspired by the coffee, cardamom and walnut cake in Fiona Cairn’s beautiful book Seasonal Baking (which I wholeheartedly recommend). I love baking with seasonal ingredients and the caramel and walnut decoration reminds me of golden autumn leaves. This is the perfect cake to have with a warming coffee after a brisk walk in the park on a Sunday afternoon!

In addition to making it dairy-free (of course!) I substituted the buttercream with a soya-based coffee and cardamom cream, which is lighter and less sugar-heavy.

The round and warm scent of cardamom makes a good addition to autumn and winter bakes (have a look at my Swedish cardamom and cinnamon buns). For this recipe you will need the dark brown seeds inside the cardamom pods. Although supermarkets generally sells the green pods, rather than the seeds, there is no need to go through the fastidious process of de-seeding the pods, as the seeds are easily available online, including via Amazon. It is important to ground the seeds immediately before use, to keep their flavour intact.

Ingredients (for 6-8 people)

275g caster sugar
275g icing sugar
175g margarine, plus more for the tin
125g flour
100g walnuts halves
100g ground almonds
3 eggs
6 tsp (about 30 g) freshly ground cardamom
4 tbsp (about 50ml) decaf coffee
3 tbsp (about 40ml) whipped soy single cream
1tsp vanilla extract
1 bag (7gr) baking powder

How to make it

1. Prepare the ingredients: cut 175g margarine in pieces and leave it out to soften; roughly chop 50g walnuts; sieve together 125g flour and 1 bag (7gr) baking powder. Grease a 20cm round cake tin and line with baking parchment.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C / fan 160°C / gas mark 4. Keeping them separate, place both the 50g walnut halves and the 50g chopped walnuts on baking trays and roast for six minutes. Cool.

3. Using a food mixed or an electric whisk, cream together 175g margarine, 175g caster sugar and 1 tablespoon decaf coffee until very light and fluffy. Lightly beat 3 eggs, then add them to the mixture. Gradually add 50g ground almonds and 3 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom. Gently fold in the flour-baking powder mix and 50g chopped walnuts; don’t over-mix.

4. Pour into the tin and bake at 160°C (fan) for 60 min, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

5. Prepare the caramelised walnuts: lay 50g walnut halves on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Put 100g of caster sugar and 100ml of cold water in a saucepan and dissolve the sugar over a gentle heat, stirring with a metal spoon. Increase the heat to a boil, stop stirring and occasionally brush the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, to prevent crystals forming. Boil until the mixture turns a beautiful caramel gold and has thickened.

6. Have a sink or washing-up bowl of cold water to hand. Plunge the base of the pan into the cold water, then, using a teaspoon, drizzle the caramel over the walnuts on the tray and leave to set.

7. For the coffee and cardamom cream, mix 275g icing sugar (sifted), 50g ground almonds and 3 teaspoons ground cardamom. Using a food mixed or an electric whisk, add 3 tablespoons decaf coffee and 3 tablespoons whipped soy cream. If it is too runny, add more icing sugar. If it is too stiff, add more whipped soy cream, until it reaches the desired texture.

8. When the cake is completely cool, cut it in half horizontally. Spread half of the coffee and cardamom cream over the bottom half, then place one half over the other. Spread the other half of the coffee and cardamom cream on top.

9. Decorate with the caramelised walnuts and the caramel shards. Enjoy!

P1100293 web

P1100299 web

2 Comments

Enrica feature

W&G on FacebookW&G on Twitter

 

Today is my cousin Enrica’s birthday and this is her celebration cake! Trained as a lawyer, Enrica is a fine patissière at heart and the best cake-maker in the family (sorry other family members, but you know it’s true…). This recipe is based on her signature breakfast yogurt cake (having cake for breakfast is one of the many wonderful things about food in Italy), which I made berry-loaded and dairy-free. The lavender-infused sugar and the grated lemon zest give it a fragrant, lovely scent.

Happy birthday Enrica!

Enrica 0

Ingredients (for 6-8 people)

450 gr blackberries

300 gr cake flour

150 gr lavender-infused sugar (or white granulated sugar)

200 gr dairy-free soya yogurt

100 gr sunflower oil (or other vegetable flavourless oil)

3 whole eggs

Two tablespoons of blackberry jam

The zest of one untreated lemon, grated

1 bag (7gr) baking powder

A pinch of salt

Icing sugar for dusting

How to make it

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Using a food mixer, whisk the whole eggs with the lemon zest and a pinch of salt.

2. When the eggs are starting becoming firm, but are not making peaks yet, sprinkle the lavender-infused sugar a little at a time. Keep whisking until you have a light and frothy mixture. All in all, the whisking should take you at least 10 minutes.

3. Working by hand, delicately add the oil and the yogurt to the egg mixture, folding from bottom to top.

4. Mix the flour and the baking powder. Still working by hand, gently fold the flour mix into the egg mixture.

5. With a food processor, blend 150 gr of blackberries. Add half of the blend to the mixture. Pour the mixture into a tall cake tin, about 18 cm across, previously coated in oil and flour.

6. Bake at 180 degrees for about 45 minutes. Once the cake is ready, leave it on a wire rack to cool down.

7. While the cake cools down, prepare the cake filling by mixing two tablespoons of blackberry jam, two tablespoons of dairy-free soya yogurt and the remaining half of the blackberry blend.

8. Cut the cake in half horizontally.

9. Spread half the blackberry filling on the bottom half of the cake. Place the remaining blackberries on top and cover with the rest of the blackberry filling.

10. Cover with the upper half of the cake and dust with icing sugar. Enjoy!

1 Comment

P1080957 feature

W&G on FacebookWatkins & George Etsy shopW&G on Twitter

Do like the Swedish do and share these buns and a coffee with a friend! Having a coffee break with friends or family is a social institution in Sweden, known as fika, and pastries (in particular cinnamon and cardamom buns) are so much a part of it that they are often referred to as fikabröd, fika-bread.

This recipe is based on the one by Linda Lomelino of the wonderful (and highly recommended) Swedish blog Call Me Cupcake, with some personal tweaks. Even if you have never used cardamom or fresh yeast in your baking before, it is really worth sticking to the Swedish recipe and giving it a try, as these are the two ingredients that give the buns their fragrant, aromatic flavour.

Fresh yeast is easily available online, in most whole food shops or from real bakeries.

In Britain, cardamom is more often associated with curries than with sweet pastries; cardamom pods are the big green pods in Pilau rice. For this recipe you will need the dark brown seeds inside the pods. Although supermarkets generally sells the green pods, rather than the seeds, the seeds are easily available online, including via Amazon. For this recipe, it is important to ground the seeds immediately before use, to keep their flavour and smell.

Cardamom pods, seeds and ground seeds

Cardamom pods, seeds and ground seeds

Ingredients (for about 18 extra-large buns)

840 g all purpose flour (1400 ml)
500 ml milk
325 g soft butter
180 g (200 ml) granulated or brown sugar
50 g fresh (live) yeast (or 14 g, that is two envelopes, of fast action dried yeast)
3 tablespoons freshly ground cardamom
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pearl sugar, chopped almonds or granulated sugar for decorating
1 egg, lightly beaten [optional]

How to make them

1. Before starting mixing the ingredients you will need to proof the fresh yeast. Heat 500 ml milk in a saucepan or in the microwave until it is approximately 37°C (98.5 F). The temperature is important: if the milk is hotter, the yeast will burn; if the milk is colder, the yeast will not activate (if you do not have a cooking thermometer you can use a medical one – just don’t tell anyone). When the milk is approximately 37°C, sprinkle 50 g fresh yeast (or 14 g of fast action dried yeast) and add 90 g granulated or brown sugar. Stir well until dissolved, then leave aside for 5 minutes.

If the yeast is alive and active, it will release in the water and feed on the sugar. After a while, you should be able to see a bubbly foam forming on the surface, which is carbon dioxide being released (see photo 1). This is proof that the yeast is active. If after 5 minutes you cannot see any bubble, unfortunately your yeast is not working. You need to throw the milk solution away and start again. It is annoying, but it’s better starting again now than seeing your buns lying flat in the oven!

2. While waiting for the yeast to activate, mix 150 g soft butter, 2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom and ½ teaspoon salt until smooth in a large bowl. After the yeast has activated, add the milk solution to the butter mixture.

3. Gradually add 840 g all purpose flour, then work until the dough is smooth and elastic.

4. Cover the bowl with a cloth and put in the oven, turned on at the minimum temperature. This is not to start the baking, but to help the dough rising. Leave to rise for about 45-60 minutes, until doubled in size.

5. Meanwhile, mix 175 g soft butter, 90 g granulated or brown sugar, 1 ½ tablespoons freshly ground cardamom, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract for the filling. Set aside.

6. When the dough is ready, roll it out into a large rectangle, about 40×50 cm. Spread the filling on top.

7. Fold the dough in half (you should have half of it layered on top of the other half).

8. Cut out long strips of dough (about 1-2 cm wide).

9. Properly spinning a cardamom bun into a knotty shape is an art: here is how the professionals do it. If you haven’t mastered the art yet, you can just twist each strip (as in photo 9a) and then roll it (as in photo 9b).

10. Put the buns on a baking tray covered with baking paper, cover with a clean cloth and leave to rise for 30 minutes. In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 250°C (480F).

11. If you are not worried about egg allergies, brush the buns with a lightly beaten egg (the more egg you use, the browner the buns will be after baking). However, this is not an essential step – skipping it will make your buns egg-free.

12. Sprinkle the buns generously with pearl sugar, granulated sugar or chopped almonds and the remaining cardamom and cinnamon. Bake for about 8-11 minutes, depending on the size of the buns.

13. The buns are at their best when they are warm. Enjoy!

 

7 Comments

Lentils and curry cake 1
W&G on FacebookWatkins & George Etsy shopW&G on Twitter

Have you ever wondered what to do with the red lentils that somehow end up forgotten at the back of the cupboard? A wonderfully moist and flavourful cake, of course!

This is a very easy and quick recipe, slightly modified from a version published in Elle à Table, March-April 2014.

Allergy warning: this recipe contains eggs, dairy products, gluten and nuts.

Ingredients (for 8-10 people)

350g red lentils
150g gruyère cheese, grated
70g breadcrumbs
50g hazelnuts, chopped
2 good-sized carrots, cubed
1 onion, sliced
6 eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons curry powder

How to make it

  1. Pre-heat the oven at 170 degrees.
  2. Boil the lentils in plenty of water for about 10-15 minutes, adding a tablespoon of salt when the water starts boiling. Drain and keep on the side.
  3. In a pan, lightly fry the onion in a little olive oil. When it becomes golden, add the carrots. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
  4. In a bowl, whip the eggs with the grated cheese and the breadcrumbs.
  5. Add the lentils, the carrots and onion mixture, the olive oil and the curry powder. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Butter and dust a rectangular cake tin with flour. Fill with the cake mixture.
  7. Sprinkle the cake with the chopped hazelnuts.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Enjoy!

2 Comments

Mediterranean cake

W&G on FacebookWatkins & George Etsy shopW&G on Twitter
A fail-safe recipe that will bring the flavors and colors of the Mediterranean to your table in a little longer than one hour! Vegetarian and dairy-free.

Ingredients

Mediterranean cake ingredients200 gr (7 oz)  flour
200 gr (7 oz) sun-dried tomatoes (drained weight)
100 gr (3.5 oz) extra-firm tofu
50 gr (1.8 oz) pitted olives (drained weight)
3 eggs
10 cl (3.5 oz, a glass) soy milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 basil leaves
1 sachet (7 gr, 1/4 oz) yeast for hand baking
salt and pepper

Notes: You can use smoked or flavored tofu (I used sun-dried tomatoes-flavored tofu) but do not use silken tofu – it would be impossible to grate! If you are not vegan or milk-intolerant you can use gruyere cheese instead of tofu and substitute soy milk with cow milk.

You will also need: A small rectangular baking tin, about 23 x 13 cm (9 x 5 inches)

How to make it

Mediterranean cake step 1 1. Pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees (°C).
Mix in a large bowl flour and yeast.
A
A
A
A

A
A
A
A

Mediterranean cake step 2 2. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs with the oil and the soy milk.
Season with salt and pepper.
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A

Mediterranean cake step 3

 3. Pour the egg mixture over the flour.
Mix.
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A

Mediterranean cake step 4

4. Grate the tofu and add to the mixture.
Chop the sun-dried tomatoes, the olives and the basil leaves and add to the mixture.
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A

Mediterranean cake step 55. Grease a rectangular baking tray and pour the mixture in.
Put in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes.
Leave to cool down before removing from the tin.
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A

Mediterranean cake stage 6

 6. Decorate the cake with fresh basil and tomatoes.
 ENJOY!

 

1 Comment