Monday, 28 November 2011

Wholemeal Apple Crumble Cake

What do you get if you cross a crumble with a cake? Why crumble cake of course! This is a subtly spiced dark winter version of your classic apple crumble, made with sweet woody cinnamon, treacly dark muscovado sugar and a healthy wholemeal crumb. If you'd like to make a sweeter summer version of this cake which would rise more, then just swop the wholemeal flour with plain flour, and the muscovado with caster sugar. It's one of those cakes that helps me work through our glut of autumnal garden apples and smells incredible as it bakes in the oven. I've made this crumble cake in advance to take to some friends who we'll be supping with this weekend, so there are no photos of the cut cake or cake slices, sorry.

Serves 8-10
Inspired by a recipe given on the Waitrose website. See their recipe here.

for the base:
3 eggs, room temperature
170g dark muscovado sugar
150g wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
50g raisins
170g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon runny honey
1 tablespoon milk, optional

for the apples:
3 eating apples, not too sweet
1 or 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
for the crumble topping:
85g caster sugar and/or dark muscovado sugar,
85g wholemeal or plain flour
60g rolled oats
85g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Turn the oven to 180C (160C fan oven). Grease and line a 20cm/23cm round spring form cake tin. Get out 2 small bowls and 1 large mixing bowl.

2. Peel, and slice the apples thinly, then scatter them with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and set to one side in the first small bowl.

3. In the second bowl, mix together the crumble ingredients by hand, until the mixture has the consistency of breadcrumbs. Put to one side.

4.  In the third, largest bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together thoroughly for approx 10-15 minutes.
You need to get it to the point where the eggs and sugar have paled and leave a trail when you lift the whisk.

5. While the eggs and sugar are whisking, melt the butter over a low heat. Let the butter cool slightly before gently folding it into the pale frothy eggs and sugar with a wooden spoon. If you stir too violently at this point you'll prevent the batter from rising in the oven, so gentleness is the key.

6. Next sieve the wholemeal flour and baking powder into the batter, again stirring very gently with a wooden spoon. Add the raisins and honey, and stir until just combined.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Carefully place the apple slices over the batter, and finish off by scattering the crumble mixture over the top of the cake.

8. Bake in the oven for approx 50-55 minutes. Check it after 45 minutes, and if the crumble is browning too quickly then cover the top of the cake with a sheet of kitchen foil before putting in the oven to continue baking.

9. You 'll know the cake is baked when a skewer comes out clean. Leave it to cool in the cake for 15 minutes before placing onto a wire rack or plate. Serve warm with vanilla icecream or cold with some cream.

This cake was idly baked while listening to Peter Pears singing Winter Words by Benjamin Britten

Friday, 25 November 2011

Orange & Marmalade Lattice Tart

This is the first time I've ever used shortcrust pastry, adapted for this tart from a lovely recipe by Tamasin Day-Lewis. I made several rookie errors in this bake, but the end result tasted divine, so I include it despite my knowledge that it has not been baked in the 'correct' way. My first error was that old chestnut of misreading the recipe: tired and idle, I added the orange juice to the zest before attempting to beat in the butter and sugar, causing the mixture to curdle and creating the treacle tartesque texture of the filling. My second was to use a silicone flan tin which I'd got free with a magazine. Silicone is great to use when baking muffins or cupcakes, but I realised when trying to release the warm tart from the tin that the silicone wasn't strong enough to support the bake and it started to crack at the edges as I moved it. Booo. So, note to self, next time use a proper loose based tart tin and read the recipe properly! And to you dear readers, learn from my mistakes and you will create a tart that looks and tastes truly gorgeous.

Adapted from Tamasin Day-Lewis's recipe in her fabulous book The Art of the Tart. Buy the book on Amazon here
I added the pastry lattice to the tart.

Serves 8

375 ready made and rolled shortcrust pastry, chilled
2 egg whites, beaten
3 tablespoons marmalade
grated zest and juice of 4 oranges
225g vanilla or golden caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs

1. Roll out three quarters of the ready made shortcrust pastry into a circle that's big enough to line the 22cm tart tin with a little overhang. Place the pastry circle into the tin, pressing it down at the edges. Shape the leftover pastry into a ball, cover with clingfilm and put this and the pastry circle in the fridge for 30 minutes.

2. Turn the oven to 190C (170C fan ovens).

3. To prepare to blind bake the chilled pastry circle, cut a circle of greaseproof paper and place it over the circle base, before covering with ceramic baking beans (or kidney beans or any kind of uncooked bean). Blind bake for 15 minutes, then remove the baking beans and greaseproof paper.

4. While the pastry is still blind baking, in a small bowl beat 1 egg white. Once baked, prick the pastry circle base and brush it with the beaten egg white before putting it back into the oven for another 5 minutes.

5. Remove again from the oven and using a knife spread the marmalade over the base of the tart as it cools.

6. In a large bowl, mix the orange zest with the butter and sugar, creaming them together until well combined.

7. Beat the 4 eggs until fluffy and pale, then add them to the butter, sugar and zest mixture.

8. Next place the bowl over a bain mairie (a pan of just simmering water), and stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved.

9. Take off the heat, and stir the orange juice into the mixture.

10. Pour the mixture over the marmalade spread pastry base.

11. Take the chilled ball of leftover pastry and roll it out. Cut strips of pastry into approx 1cm wide strips, and carefully place the strips over the orange and marmalade filling. I didn't bother, but if you want to make it look especially smart you could also place a few long strips around the edge of the tart to create a rim.

12. In another small bowl whisk the 2nd egg white until fluffy, before brushing the pastry lattice (and the rim, if made) with the beaten egg.

13. Bake in the oven for approx 25 minutes. Serve warm or cold, with cream or custard.

This tart was idly baked while listening to Sorry I Haven't A Clue on BBC Radio 4

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Snowstorm Birthday: Coconut, Ginger & Cherry Cake

I created this gorgeous layer cake for my father's birthday, a variation of the cherry and almond cake I've blogged about before. The addition of glace ginger gives it a particularly festive zinginess, ideal to balance out the gluttonous sweetness of the coconut and glace cherry. A very special and scrumptious cake. Dad loved it, and he certainly wasn't the only one!

Cake base adapted from the cake recipe in Joanna Isle's lovely little book from the 1980s, A Proper Tea buy the book on Amazon  
Topping and other additions my own recipe.

For the base:
115g glace cherries
115g glace ginger
200g self-raising flour
pinch of salt (optional)
200g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
50g ground almonds
50g dessicated coconut
200g butter
half a tsp almond extract

1. Turn the oven to 160C (140C fan oven). Grease and line a 23 inch baking tin or two 18 inch tins.

2. Halve the glace cherries and glace ginger and roll them in a little extra flour, before putting them to one side. Rolling them in flour may stop them from all sinking to the bottom of the cake when it's baking (although, being an idle cook, I don't worry about that sort of thing).

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until creamed.

4. Add the first beaten egg to the creamed mixture, then sieve in a little of the flour and stir gently before adding the other 2 eggs, and the rest of the flour, salt if using, and almond extract a bit at a time.

5. Throw in the cherries, ginger, coconut and ground almonds. Stir the cake mixture gently by hand with a wooden spoon until the fruit and nuts are well combined.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin or tins and bake for approx 50 minutes, until the tops have browned and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave in the tins for 10 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack or plate.

for the filling:
4-6 tablespoons cherry jam (I used M&S red cherry conserve)

7. When the cakes have cooled, spread cherry jam over the bottom cake, sandwiching the other cake ontop.

for the topping:
100g icing sugar
2 tablespoons water or coconut milk
3 or 4 large handfuls coconut curls or dessicated coconut
1 large handful glace cherries
1 large handful glace ginger

8. Make glace icing by whisking the water and icing sugar together until a firm but runny consistency. Pour the icing over the top cake, letting it drip down the sides. Quickly scatter coconut over the top cake before the icing dries. Add the glace cherries and ginger to decorate, then sprinkle more coconut on top.

9. Leave for half an hour to let the icing and topping settle, before serving the cake with cream, custard or icecream.

This cake was idly baked while listening to The Velvet Underground & Nico's debut album.

Lemon Curd Cupcakes

My gorgeous lemon curd cupcakes make the ideal store cupboard bakes. At this time of year, when our fruit cages are bare, all I need is some shop bought lemon curd and one solitary lemon to make these simple cupcakes sing. Very moreish, very pretty, and with a pleasingly generous dollop of curd inside the heart of each cake.

My own, makes 12 medium muffin-sized cupcakes

for the base:
125g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
125g unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
125g light muscovado sugar
finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Turn the oven to 180 (160 fan) and place medium cupcake cases in a 12 muffin baking tray. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, until smooth and fluffy.

2. Throw in the eggs one at a time and beat in, adding a spoonful of flour after each one. Then stir in the lemon zest and tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

3. Next sieve the flour and baking powder into the mixture, stirring gently until the batter is well combined.

4. Spoon the batter into each cupcake case, until they are approximately two-thirds full (you want to leave enough room for the cakes to rise).

5. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. You'll know the cakes are done when a skewer comes out clean.

6. Take out of the oven and leave for a few minutes, before moving the cupcakes in their cases to a wire rack or plate to cool.

for the filling:
approx 180g lemon curd

7. Once the cupcakes are cool, use an apple corer or a sharp knife to remove the centre of the cake, then fill the hole with lemon curd.

8. When all the cupcakes have been filled, spread a little extra lemon curd over the top of each.

for the icing:
225g unsalted butter, room temperature
425g icing sugar
50ml milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
food colouring tint paste (I used Primrose, both by Sugarflair)
wafer butterflies, sugar flowers or lemon peel curls to decorate, optional

8. Beat the butter until creamy. Stir in the milk and mix together. 

9. Sift half the icing sugar into the mixture, and stir thoroughly, before adding the other half and continuing to stir until it is a thick paste. Take care stirring the icing sugar, as this is a bit messy, I tend to wear an apron as I've been known to accidentally drench myself in it when stirring too vigorously!

10. When the icing is combined, the only thing left to do is to colour it. With colour tint pastes you only need to add a pin prick amount before stirring it in to give the icing a beautiful pastel colour.

11. Get a pint glass and place a piping bag with a nozzle inside the glass, so that the nozzle is on the bottom of the glass. Fold the piping bag edges over the glass rim. Spoon the paste into the piping bag, then carefully take the bag out of the glass and twist the end of the bag so that the icing is well contained.

12. Pipe the icing over the cupcakes and decorate with sugar flowers or wafer butterflies, lemon peel curls or anything else you fancy. To pipe a rose, you start piping in the middle of the cupcake and work outwards. To pipe a classic swirl, you start piping at the outer edge of the cupcake and work inwards.

These cupcakes were idly baked to the sound of the Mazzy Star album She Hangs Brightly 

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Gluten Free Marmalade Cake

This marmalade cake is moist, light and gorgeous, with the added benefit of being gluten free. The chopped mixed peel and orange slice topping give it a festive look just right for winter, and it makes a delicious, easy and healthy alternative to a traditional heavy christmas cake. To make it even more celebratory you could double the base quantities and turn it into a layer cake, spreading a good thick splodge of marmalade or whipped double cream between the two sponges. The quality of marmalade will have a direct impact on the taste of this cake, so try to buy the best you can.

Adapted from the great recipe by Nigel Slater. See his recipe at the Guardian newspaper website here
Serves 8

for the cake base:
175g unsalted butter, room temperature
175g caster sugar
175g gluten free plain flour mix (Dove's Farm or M&S recommended)
1 large orange (for zest and juice)
3 eggs
75g good quality marmalade

1. Turn oven to 180C (160 fan), and grease and line an 18 or 20cm round cake tin.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

3. Finely grate the orange, putting the zest to one side for later.

4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, stirring well between each addition.

5. Add the marmalade and grated orange zest, and beat again until well combined.

6. Next gently stir in the gluten free flour using a wooden spoon.

7. Finally add the juice of half the orange, mixing it gently into the batter.

8. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin, and bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. You'll know the cake's done when the top bounces back under your thumb and a skewer comes out clean.

9. When done, take the cake out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes, before carefully placing it on a wire rack to cool further.

for the orange topping:
100g icing sugar, sieved
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 or 3 large handfuls of chopped mixed peel
2 large oranges, chopped into thin segments

10. When the cake is cool. you can add the topping. To make the orange icing glaze, combine the icing sugar and orange juice in a bowl and beat with a fork until the icing has a runny consistency. Spoon the icing over the cake, letting it fall down the sides.

11. Place the slices of orange around the outside edge of the top of the cake. Fill the middle of the top with chopped mixed peel, and then leave it to set for half an hour. Serve with just a cuppa if you're eating this for tea; or with a healthy drizzling of cream and the accompaniment of a good glass of wine as an after supper treat.

This cake was idly baked to the sounds of Marianne Faithfull's album 20th Century Blues

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Blackberry & Apple Tarte Tatin

This delicious rustic and easy twist on the traditional Tarte Tatin is quite a find. You won't need a fancy ovenproof pan as you would with most Tatin recipes, a cake tin does the job just as well. Nor will you need to take the time to make the puff pastry from scratch, for ready made is really where it's at with this recipe. What a gorgeous dish, and with all the hard work taken out of it, ideal for an idle baker.

Adapted from the recipe given in Good Housekeeping's Easy Bakes, Cakes & Puds Summer 2011, which is still on sale in national newsagents. For more information go to the Good Housekeeping website here.
I've added the cinnamon and star anise, and changed their recipe from raspberry & apple to blackberry & apple, for an extra autumnal taste.

Serves 6

75g butter
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
150g caster sugar, plus a little extra
6 Cox or other eating apples, washed,
125g blackberries, washed
375g ready made puff pastry
5 tbsp double cream, plus extra to serve

1. Butter the base and sides of a 23 inch roundspringform cake tin, before sprinkling a little caster sugar over the base.

2. Peel, core and halve the apples.

3. In a frying pan, heat 25g diced cubes of the butter over a medium heat until foaming gently. Then add the prepared apple halves to the butter, cut side facing up and in one layer only. Throw in the star anise and cinnamon stick, and cook for 10-15 minutes until the apples start to caramelize.

4. Place the apple halves, still cut side up, onto the base of the baking tin. Next add the blackberries so that they nestle in the space around the circles of apple. Sprinkle over 1 teaspoon of the caster sugar and then put the tin to one side to let the apples cool down.

5. Turn the oven to 200C (180 fan ovens).

6. Roll out the pastry to a thickness just over 0.5cm. Then cut it into a 24cm circle.

7. Gently place the pastry circle over the apples and blackberries, and using a spoon lift the fruit to tuck the pastry down into the edges of the cake tin. This will help the pastry to hug the fruit as it bakes. Prick a few holes in the pastry to allow the steam out as it bakes.

8. Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, until the pastry is golden.

9. While the Tarte Tatin is baking, you can make the butterscotch sauce. Heat the remaining 50g of butter over a low heat hob until melted.

10. Next gently stir the remaining caster sugar, plus the split vanilla pod, into the melted butter, so that it dissolves into it. Turn the heat up high and let the sauce bubble until it turns a light caramel brown colour. Then quickly and carefully remove from the heat and gently stir in the cream, making sure not to splash yourself with any of the sauce which will be very hot and could easily burn you.

11. When the Tarte Tatin is baked and the butterscotch sauce ready, place a large plate over the top of the cake tin and turn upside down gently. Carefully remove the tin, so that the Tarte is on the plate, before spooning butterscotch sauce over the top of the Tarte. The blackberries will have turned the apples and pastry a gorgeous pink.

12. Add some more blackberries for decoration, and perhaps a few herb leaves from the garden to decorate. Serve warm with more double cream and butterscotch sauce.

This Tarte Tatin was idly baked while listening to little Nico the kitten playing with a cardboard box

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Klaus's bread

Mr Eve was taught how to make this delicious, soft on the inside, crusty on the outside farmhouse loaf by his German chef stepfather Klaus, and he bakes it for us whenever he can. The taste and texture is in a different league to that of even bakery bought bread. All he's done is add a couple of tweaks to Klaus fantastic recipe. He's keen to stress that he's an inexperienced baker, but the recipe is so simple that he's baffled why people would use clunky bread making machines when the act of making the loaf is such a pleasure. For me the act of eating the loaf is even more of a pleasure! One more note from Mr Eve, if you want to bake bread then please refrain from adding any sugar to the dough: "Sugary bread is for numpties".

Adapted from one inherited from Klaus Boemke
Serves 8-10

650g bread flour: a third to a half of which should be strong white bread flour; the rest can be a combination of brown bread flour, wholemeal, granary, rye or spelt flour;
7-10g fast acting yeast;
a pinch of salt;
a couple of knobs of butter;
400ml tepid water

1. In a large bowl mix the bread flours together with the yeast.

2. Add a pinch of salt and several knobs of butter to the bowl, mixing it into the flour and yeast with a wooden spoon.

3. Add the water, making sure that it is tepid - neither hot nor cold.

4. With an electric whisk, mix the dough together for a couple of minutes until it's well combined and a solid enough consistency to be lifted out of the bowl in a ball. You might need to add a little more water if the dough feels too dry, or a little more flour if it feels too wet.

5. Now for the fun part; lift the dough ball out and knead, stretch, press and beat it with your hands for a few minutes to bring air into the loaf. Mr Eve likes to pretend it's George Osborne's face and give it a few good punches. Very therapeutic.

6. Put the kneaded dough back into the bowl, cover the bowl with a tea towel, and leave in a warm place for about 45 minutes to rise.

7. Shortly before the dough has finished rising, turn the oven on to 190C (170C fan ovens).

8. Grease a little butter onto the base of a baking tray, to stop the bread sticking as it bakes.

9. Take the risen dough out of the bowl, beat and knead the air out again, and shape it into a loaf, before placing it onto the baking tray.

10. Bake in the oven for about 40-45 minutes. To work out whether it's done at this point, turn the loaf upside down and pat the bottom a couple of times with the base of bread knife. You should hear a hollow sound.

10. Once baked, put the loaf on a wire rack or plate to cool. We like to cut and eat the bread while still hot, which makes the texture more soft and crumbly to slice; it will firm up as it cools. For lunch today we ate slices of this loaf topped with westcountry cheddar and large dollops of our friend Anne's delectable home made apple, date and walnut chutney. Yum!

This bread was idly baked by Mr Eve while we listened to Florence & The Machine's album Ceremonials