Posts tagged ‘home baking’

Maple 2 web
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I had the perfect autumn day today. It was a fresh crisp day, with a little drizzle in the air. I put my wellies on and went to the park for a little brisk walk. The leaves were all shades of gold and red and the dogs were playing in the mud. You get the picture! Once back home, I baked these maple syrup shortbread biscuits, just in time for Bonfire Night. They are great with a cup of steaming hot ginger and lemon tea!

I have been planning to bake some maple syrup biscuits for some time, but it took me a while to find the right recipe. Mine is based on the traditional 1-2-3 shortbread recipe, but it replaces sugar with pure maple syrup and adjusts butter and flour accordingly. As maple syrup is liquid, the biscuit is less crumbly than a traditional shortbread.

What makes or breaks these biscuits is the quality of the ingredients, so it’s worth using the best quality ingredients you can afford. Make sure that you use pure Canadian maple syrup (I used Shady Maple Farms’ organic 100% pure maple syrup). I used salted butter because I like to counter-balance the sweetness of the maple syrup; however, that’s just a matter of taste and unsalted butter will work just as well.

For a good result, temperature is also key. The butter must be very soft before you start making the dough, or it won’t become creamy enough to mix properly with the maple syrup. That’s why it’s a good idea to dice it and work it on its own, before incorporating the maple syrup. Once the dough is mixed, on the other hand, you want to keep it cool to make sure that the biscuits keep their shape in the oven. . If it is a hot day, you may need to leave the biscuits in the freezer for 15 minutes after cutting them to make sure that they hold their shape in the oven.

Maple P1 web

Ingredients (for 8 large biscuits)

  • 100ml pure maple syrup
  • 180g butter, diced and soft
  • 275g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Maple 1 web

How to make them

  1. Beat 180g of butter, diced and soft, and 100ml maple syrup with an electric mixer until smooth (this will take about 3-5 minutes).
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together 275g of plain flour and ½ teaspoon of salt. Using a spatula, gradually fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture until completely incorporated.
  3. Squeeze the dough into a ball, wrap it in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour (preferably two).
  4. Preheat the oven to 180ºC / Gas 4 (ventilated). Line a baking sheet with greaseproof baking paper.
  5. Dust the work surface with a little flour and gently roll the dough out to about 8mm-1cm thick. Cut into leaf shapes using a biscuit cutter.
  6. Transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet and sprinkle each biscuit with a pinch of brown sugar. If it is a hot day, leave in the freezer for 15 minutes to make sure that the biscuits hold their shape when baking.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes. The larger and thicker the biscuits, the longer they may need in the oven. Once they are pale golden and firm and no longer stick to the greaseproof paper, remove from the oven and transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy!

Maple P2 web

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P1120523 web
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My grandmother had a persimmon tree in her back garden in Italy and I have always loved their sweet vanilla taste and firm, shiny flesh. More exotic than apple and pear and with a warm, golden orange colour, persimmon (also known as Sharon fruit) is my favourite autumn fruit. To welcome the new season, I combined it with cinnamon and organic apple juice, two traditional autumn flavours, for a light and creamy seasonal cake.

In keeping with the Italian theme, I decided to go for a very simple Pan di Spagna sponge. Pan di Spagna is a traditional Italian sponge cake with a light and airy texture and only three ingredients: eggs, sugar, and flour. The basic Pan di Spagna sponge cake contains no butter, milk or oil, which makes it low-fat and perfect for a dairy-free diet. If you want to keep the persimmon compote dairy-free and low-fat as well, substitute the whipped cream with soya cream. Of course, you can also leave the cake naked or just add a sprinkle of icing sugar on top!

A-PdS1c web

There are different methods to make Pan di Spagna sponge: this recipe, based on Giallo Zafferano’s, uses the egg-separated method. Like angel cake, Pan di Spagna cake does not need raising agent: it raises thanks to the air and steam trapped inside the egg foam. Because the mixture needs to be as light as possible to raise properly, I recommend using a low-protein (weak) type of flour, such as US (unbleached) cake flour, Italian grade 00 flour or French T55 flour.

Enjoy!

 

Ingredients (for 6-8 people)

P1120488 webFor the Pan di Spagna sponge

  • 5 eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 75g 00-type flour (or other weak flour)
  • 75g corn flour
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar

For the persimmon compote

  • 5 persimmons
  • 250ml organic apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons whipped cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the crème Chantilly

  • 250ml full-fat whipping cream
  • 50g icing sugar

To assemble and decorate

  • 30ml organic apple juice
  • 1 persimmon
  • A few mint leaves

How to make it

How to make the Pan di Spagna sponge cake

1. Pre-heat the oven at 180-160ºC. Grease and line with baking paper a medium round tin (18cm diametre). Sieve together 75g 00-type flour (or other weak flour) and 75g corn flour.

2. Separate the whites from the yolks of 5 eggs; this is easier when the eggs are fridge-cold. Take care not to leave any trace of the yolks in the egg whites bowl.

3. With a sharp knife, cut the vanilla pod in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the egg yolks bowl.

4. Whisk the yolks and the vanilla seeds with 100g caster sugar until the mixture doubles in size and becomes light and fluffy (see photo 4b for how it should look like).

5. Whisk the egg whites with 50g caster sugar and ½ teaspoon cream of tartar until they make hard peaks.

6. Using a large spatula, gently mix the egg whites to the yolks mixture. Take care not to overmix: you don’t want to knock the air bubbles out of the mixture.

7. Gradually sift the dry ingredients over the mixture, gently folding them in until they are completely incorporated.

8. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake at 180ºC for 40 minutes (static oven) or at 160ºC for 30 minutes (ventilated oven). The cake is ready when it springs back if poked with a finger.

9. Once the cake is baked, turn the oven off and leave it in the oven to cool down for about 10 minutes. Then take the cake out of the oven and let it cool completely before taking it out of the tin.

How to make the persimmon compote

10. Cut 5 persimmons in small pieces.

11. Transfer the persimmons to a pan and add 250ml organic apple juice and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Slowly simmer on a low heath for about one hour, until the compote reduces to the consistency of a jam.

12. Blend the compote in a food processor until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons whipped cream and mix well. Set aside.

How to assemble and decorate the cake

13. Make the crème Chantilly by whisking together 250ml full-fat whisking cream and 50g icing sugar.

14. Cut the cake in three horizontal layers.

15. Drizzle 10ml organic apple juice over the bottom layer. Spread half of the persimmon compote and then a layer of crème Chantilly over the persimmon compote layer.

16. Place the second layer of cake on top of the first one and drizzle 10ml organic apple juice over it. Cover with the remaining persimmon compote and a layer of crème Chantilly.

17. Top the cake with the third layer and drizzle the remaining 10ml organic apple juice over it. Spread a thin layer of crème Chantilly over the whole cake and leave to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour. This layer will create a smooth surface for the rest of the crème Chantilly to be laid upon.

18. Once the first layer of crème Chantilly is set, cover the cake with the remaining crème Chantilly. Decorate with one persimmon, sliced, and a few mint leaves.

This cake keeps well in the fridge for 1-2 days.

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Soda bread web 3
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I love The Great British Bake Off (who doesn’t?). So I was very excited to be one of the production guests in this week’s An Extra Slice. Week three is bread week, so I had to bake a loaf – not just a normal one, one good enough to be on TV!

Despite the pressure, however, this girl is not for novelty shapes and bright colours, no matter what. I went for simple, elegant rosemary soda bread, decorated with a sunflower carving.

Soda bread is a quick bread. Unlike other types of bread, it does not include yeast and does not need proving. It does not need kneading either; in fact, kneading can make the final loaf quite heavy, so try handling it as little as possible. Without yeast and without proving, soda bread rises in the oven, thanks to the reaction between bicarbonate of soda (which is alkaline) and buttermilk (which is acidic).

The traditional deep cuts help the heat to get to the middle and the loaf to bake evenly. Carving a stylised flower shape on the top, rather than the usual cross, is a way to make the final result prettier and more personal.

As a homage to The Great British Bake Off, this recipe is based on Paul Hollywood’s. This version includes rosemary, but you can try other flavours (mint, feta cheese and beetroot is Ben’s favourite).

Soda bread web 1

 

Ingredients (for one loaf)

400ml buttermilk
250g wholemeal flour
250g plain white flour, plus extra for dusting
20g fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt

How to make it

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 ºC. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Mix 250g wholemeal flour, 250g plain white flour, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add 20g fresh rosemary, finely chopped, and mix again.
  3. Stir in 400ml buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it quickly into a loaf. Do not knead it, or the bread will be heavy.
  4. Put the dough on the baking tray. With deep cuts through the dough, carve a flower or your favourite shape on the top. Dust with a little white plain flour.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until the loaf is cooked through – it should be golden and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Leave it to cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

Soda bread web 2

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20150815. Sugar'n' spice Index top

Before starting: ingredients

All-in-one cakes

Creamed cakes

Meringues

Whisked cakes and sponge cakes

Pastries

Biscuits and small bakes

Bread

Savoury bakes

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Cardamom web feature
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I discovered cardamom as a baking ingredient about a year ago in Sweden, where it is used widely since the Vikings brought it back from their travels to far-flung corners of the world. I cannot have enough since (and I am not alone – Ben had 40 cardamom buns as his birthday cake!). More exotic and interesting than cinnamon, it works beautifully in both summer and winter bakes.

Despite being a common ingredient of Persian and Middle-Eastern baking, as well as Nordic pastries, cardamom may be difficult to find in the UK or mainland Europe. In Britain, it is more often associated with curries, as big green cardamom pods are a common ingredient of Pilau rice. For most baking recipes, however, you will need ground cardamom, rather than the whole pods. Where to find it?

Of course, you can buy green whole cardamom pods in most supermarkets and then crush them to get to the dark brown seeds inside. However, this operation can be quite long and fastidious (it took me about 20 minutes of crushing and some motivation for the photo sequence below!).

Cardamom pods, seeds and ground seeds

Cardamom pods, seeds and ground seeds

When I find myself around London’s Marylebone I pay a visit to Totally Swedish, a wonderful little shop on Crawford Street, where you can buy Kockens Kardemumma ground cardamom (also available in their online shop). Ground cardamom can be found in other online stores as well, for example Ottolenghi’s.

For best results, however, it is important to grind the seeds immediately before use, to keep their flavour and fragrant smell. If you have the time, it is worth buying cardamom seeds (easily available online, including via Amazon) and grind them at the last minute.

 

Flavour combinations

Cardamom tastes delicious combined with: rosewater, orange, pistachio, walnuts, hazelnuts, coffee and cinnamon.

 

Try cardamom in these recipes

Swedish cardamom and cinnamon buns (kardamomma bulle)
Autumn gold dairy-free cardamom and walnut cake

 

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Meringue web feature
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There’s something magical about meringues. I love the idea that these airy, featherweight glossy blobs are made of only two ingredients (egg whites and sugar). I love their purity: they are naturally fat-free, gluten-free and dairy-free. And I love that this purity and simplicity requires some precision: meringues are all about sticking to a few rules.

If unicorns exist, their horn is not made of ivory: it’s made of meringue.

In essence, meringues are made beating sugar into egg whites. These two ingredients can be combined in several different ways to make the classic piped, dry meringue; the toppings of lemon meringue pie or baked Alaska; or the “islands” of île flottante (floating island). In the French method, the simpler one, the mixture is then baked. In the Swiss meringue method, egg whites and sugar are whisked over a bain-marie. The Italian meringue method uses boiling sugar syrup instead of caster sugar.

Do it like a pro: equipment

Copper bowls are best for whipping egg whites, because the chemical reaction between the copper and the egg whites makes the foam more stable. Alternatively, you can use any large glass or stainless steel bowl. A ceramic bowl will do, but please don’t use a plastic bowl – they tend to collect grease, no matter how well they are washed, and you risk compromising your egg foam.

Rule number one of making meringues: keep the egg whites far from any fat. Even small amounts of fat can causes the beaten egg whites to collapse.

Even a little water or fat can ruin the whole meringue, so make sure that the bowl and beaters are perfectly clean and dry to obtain maximum volume. Wiping the bowl with a wedge of lemon to remove any traces of grease can often help the process.

Finally, you will need an electric whisk; whisking the eggs with a manual balloon whisk is best left to those with action hero-sized biceps.

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Eggs and sugar

French meringue has only two ingredients: whipped egg whites and sugar.

Caster sugar is better than granulated sugar because it is easier to dissolve in the egg foam. I follow Laduree and BBC Good Food and use half caster (during the whisking stage) and half icing sugar (during the folding stage). As icing sugar dissolves quicker in the stiff egg mixture, it reduces the risks of over-mixing and of leaving sugar grains undissolved. Whichever sugar you use, steer clear of sugar substitutes: the sugar stiffens the foam and is necessary to the structure.

Both egg whites and sugar chemically attract water. For this reason, Martha Stewart recommends avoiding making meringues on a rainy or really humid day. Now, this seems like sensible advice for those lucky human beings who live in California, Southern Spain or other similarly blessed sunny places. If, like me, you live in London (or other similarly less-blessed rainy places), waiting for a perfectly dry day would become quite unpractical. So, do as the British have done for centuries, lift your collar and ignore the weather!

Although not necessary, cream of tartar (potassium tartrate) if often used to help increase the volume and stability of whisked egg whites.

Meringues can be flavoured with cocoa powder, cinnamon or almonds. These must be mixed in at the end, delicately folding from the bottom up.

Separating the eggs

Separating the eggsCold eggs separate more easily because the whites hold together better, so make sure to separate the eggs when they are fridge-cold. Crack the egg in half and hold the shell halves over a bowl. Transfer the yolk back and forth between the halves, letting the white drop into the bowl. Alternatively, you can use an egg separator (my friend Linda gave me one as a present and it works pretty well). Transfer the yolk to another bowl.

When separating eggs, be careful not to cut the yolk, as whites containing any yolk will not beat properly. If a speck of egg yolk falls into the egg whites, lift it out with an empty eggshell half or a clean teaspoon. Do not try to fish it out with your fingers; even the oil on your skin will prevent the egg whites from expanding!

Whisking the eggs

While eggs separate better when they are cold, egg whites whip better when they are at room temperature. After separating, bring the egg whites to room temperature by letting them stand for 15-30 minutes.

Whisking makes the egg whites foam glossier and thicker. You can check the progression of the egg whites looking at the peaks they form when the beater is lifted: the first stage is soft peaks; the second stage is firm peaks; and the last stage is stiff peaks. Soft peaks have tips that curl over and disappear when the beaters are lifted. Stiff peaks have tips that stand straight and hold their shape when the beaters are lifted.

Peaks compared text

To test that the meringue is done, you should be able to hold the bowl upside-down over your head without it sliding out. Less dramatically, you should be able to hold a spoonful of it upside down and none of it drops off.

Adding the sugar

Add one third of the sugar at the soft peaks stage; another third at the firm peaks stage; and the last third at the stiff peaks stage. Don’t add any sugar before the whites have been whipped to soft peaks, as this can double the time you have to whip the egg whites to get a foam.

Add the sugar one spoonful at a time and keep beating the whole time. Adding the sugar gradually to the egg whites ensures that the sugar dissolves completely. To tell if the sugar is dissolved, rub a bit of the foam between your fingers: it should feel completely smooth. If it feels gritty, the sugar is not dissolved, so keep beating.

Baking

Hard meringues are not really cooked; they are dried out in a very low oven to allow the water in them to evaporate. The result should be white, crisp and dry.

Rule number two of making meringues: bake at very low temperature (60-70 ºC) for a very long time (4-6 hours, ideally overnight).

If you make meringues on a rainy or humid day, you will probably have to bake the meringues longer than on a dry day.

Meringue 4 web

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • Caster sugar, same weight as the egg whites (depending on the size of the eggs, this should be between 90g-120g)
  • Icing sugar, same weight as the egg whites (depending on the size of the eggs, this should be between 90g-120g)
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)

How to make them (French method)

  1. Preheat the oven to fan 60ºC (conventional 70ºC). Line two baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Take three large eggs out of the fridge and separate them, tipping the egg whites into a large clean mixing bowl (preferably glass or metal, not plastic). Weight the egg whites (if your scale does not take away the tare automatically, weight the egg withes together with the bowl and subtract the weight of the empty bowl). Weight the caster sugar and the icing sugar (each should be the same weight as the egg whites).
  3. Add half a teaspoon cream of tartar.
  4. Once the egg whites have reached room temperature, whisk them with an electric hand whisk or mixer on a medium speed until frothy.
  5. Increase the speed to high and continue whisking until soft peaks form. Slowly sprinkle in one-third of the caster sugar, sieved, one spoonful at a time. Adding the sugar slowly helps prevent the meringue from weeping later. Whisk.
  6. Slowly sprinkle in the remaining two-thirds of the caster sugar, sieved, one spoonful at a time. Whisk until stiff but not dry. The mixture should be thick and glossy.
  7. Sieve the icing sugar. Sprinkle it over the mixture, one third at the time. Gently fold in with a rubber spatula or a big metal spoon, keeping as much air in the mixture as possible.
  8. Once the icing sugar is fully incorporated, pour the mixture into a piping bag and pipe on to the baking sheet in round or square shapes.
  9. Bake for as long as you can: ideally overnight, but at least two hours. The meringues should stay white but they should sound crisp when tapped underneath. Switch the oven off and leave the meringues to cool inside it.
  10. Enjoy!

Troubleshooting

If your meringue starts to brown: the oven temperature is too high causing the sugar to caramelize.

If the inside of the meringue is chewy and sticky instead of dry, crisp and crunchy and/or the outside of the meringue separates from the inside: the oven temperature is too high, causing the outside of the meringue to dry and set too quickly.

If your meringue starts “weeping” or “sweating” (that is, beads of moisture form on its surface) the sugar has not properly dissolved in the egg whites. To prevent this, add the sugar slowly during mixing.

Meringues will keep for at least a week if stored in an airtight container, but they don’t like to be in the fridge.

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6. Lemon shortbread web
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This is the traditional, 1-2-3 shortbread recipe: 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter and 3 parts flour – so for 100g of sugar, you will need 200g of butter and 300g of flour; or 1 cup sugar, 2 cups butter and 3 cups flour. The reason why I love this recipe is that it lets delicious, honest ingredients shine through – plus, it’s easy to remember!

What makes or breaks shortbread biscuits is the butter, so make sure that you use the best quality butter you can afford (those yellow farmhouse organic butters are ideal). I used salted butter because I like to counter-balance the sweetness of the sugar; however, that’s just a matter of taste and unsalted butter will work just as well.

When working the butter, it’s important to pay attention to its temperature. The butter must be very soft before you start making the dough, or it won’t become creamy enough to mix properly with the sugar and flour. That’s why it’s a good idea to work it on its own, before incorporating the sugar. Once the dough is mixed, on the other hand, you want to keep it cool to make sure that the biscuits keep their shape in the oven.

Use seasonal ingredients as natural flavours: I added lemon zest and matcha green tea powder for spring, but you can try adding lavender in summer, vanilla in autumn and orange zest or cardamom and cinnamon in winter. If you use matcha green tea powder or a similar dry ingredient for flavouring, remember to reduce the flour accordingly.

Enjoy!

4. Lemon shortbreads web feature

Lemon shortbread biscuits

Ingredients (for about 20 biscuits)
100g (3½oz) granulated or caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
200g (7oz) salted butter at room temperature
300g (10½oz) plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
The zest of two organic and un-waxed lemons, grated

How to make them
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F or Gas mark 3).

2. Cut 200g salted butter into small cubes and cream it until pale and fluffy.

3. Add 100g granulated or caster sugar and mix together, either by hand or using an electric hand whisk, until pale and smooth. The mixture will still be gritty, as the sugar does not dissolve in butter at room temperature.

4. Add the zest of one lemon.

5. Using a spatula, slowly fold in 300g plain flour until completely incorporated (try not to work the flour too much or the biscuits will not be so crumbly). The mixture should look like breadcrumbs.

6. Using your hands, gently squeeze the mixture together into a ball of dough. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for 2 hours.

7. Dust the work surface with a little flour and gently roll the dough out to about 5mm (¼in) thick. Cut into flower shapes using a biscuit cutter.

8. Transfer the biscuits to a baking tray lined with baking parchment and sprinkle each biscuit with a pinch of sugar and a pinch of lemon zest. If it is a hot day, chill in the fridge for 15 more minutes to make sure that the biscuits hold their shape when baking.

9. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden-brown.

10. Remove from the oven and transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool.

5. Lemon shortbread web feature

Matcha green tea shortbread biscuits

Ingredients (for about 20 biscuits)
100g (3½oz) granulated or caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
200g (7oz) salted butter at room temperature
270g (9½oz) plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
1½ tablespoon matcha green tea powder

How to make them
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F or Gas mark 3).

2. Cut 200g salted butter into small cubes and cream it until pale and fluffy.

3. Add 100g granulated or caster sugar and mix together, either by hand or using an electric hand whisk, until pale and smooth. The mixture will still be gritty, as the sugar does not dissolve in butter at room temperature.

4. Mix 1½ tablespoon matcha green tea powder into 270g plain flour.

5. Using a spatula, slowly fold the flour mixture in the butter mixture until completely incorporated (try not to work the flour too much or the biscuits will not be so crumbly). The end result should look like breadcrumbs.

6. Using your hands, gently squeeze the mixture together into a ball of dough. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for 2 hours.

7. Dust the work surface with a little flour and gently roll the dough out to about 5mm (¼in) thick. Cut into leaf shapes using a biscuit cutter. If you don’t have a leaf-shaped cutter, you can use a round biscuit cutter, overlapping two circles.

8. Transfer the biscuits to a baking tray lined with baking parchment and sprinkle each biscuit with a pinch of sugar. If it is a hot day, chill in the fridge for 15 more minutes to make sure that the biscuits hold their shape when baking.

9. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

10. Remove from the oven and transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool.

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Choc Spelt Courf feat
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Christmas can be delicious without being over-indulgent. This chocolate cake recipe, by Linzi Barrow of Clandestine Cake Club Lancaster for the Goovy Food Company, includes courgette and spelt flour for a great yet not-too-sweet taste. What is more, it is dairy-free. A star-shaped tin (I used Ikea’s Drommar) and some sparkly decoration will make it extra-special. This is how I like my Christmas nights: starry and chocolate-y!

Ingredients (for 8 people)

225g courgettes
200g spelt flour
175ml light agave nectar
75ml olive oil
2 eggs
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
Edible gold spray, golden sugar, white chocolate stars and icing sugar to decorate

How to make it

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Oil and line a star-shaped cake tin.
2. Sift 200g spelt flour, 4 tbsp cocoa powder, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, and 1/2 tsp salt into a bowl.
3. Add 175 ml light agave nectar, 75 ml olive oil and 2 eggs and mix well.
4. Grate 225g courgettes and add to the mix.
5. Pour your batter into your prepared tin. Bake for approx 45 minutes until well risen and until a skewer comes out cleanly from the middle. Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes and then on a wire rack.
6. Decorate with edible gold spray, golden sugar, icing sugar and white chocolate stars. Enjoy!

 

CSC cake 7

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Walnut cake feature
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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!

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P1100299 web

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