Tag Archives: baking

Apple Tart

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This is an apple tart just like my Mum makes. Apples with a hint of cloves enclosed in a shortcrust pastry and dished up with custard or vanilla ice cream. YUM!

Ingredients:

For the Pastry

255 g / 9 oz  plain flour

2 tbspn  icing sugar

pinch of salt

140 g  /  5 oz hard margarine or butter

6 tbspn cold water

For the filling

3 large cooking apples  { or 4-6 regular sized baking apples of your choice } peeled, cored and quartered.

If using cooking apples then stew and cool first otherwise leave to soften during the baking process

sugar to taste

1 tspn Cinnamon

3-4 whole cloves

Utensils

1 sieve, mixing bowl. 9 ” tart dish,  peeler/ slicer,  wooden spoon, knife, measuring spoons and a wire rack for cooling

Method

*Preheat the oven to  200°C / 400°F / / Gas mark 6

Sieve the flour, icing sugar and pinch of salt into the bowl from a height so as much air as possible is incorporated

Cut the margarine / butter into the flour and then with your fingertips rub into the flour lifting and letting it drop  from a height again adding more air which will make the pastry light. Do this part as quickly as possible to avoid melting.

Add the cold water a little at a time and using a knife to slowly mix together and then use your hand to firm up the mixture. The dough should now be a consistency for rolling.

At this point to make the dough more stretchy and easy to roll, place in a polythene bag and leave into the fridge for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into two halve. Take one half and roll our so it is big enough to fit the 9”  dish. Trim the edges with a knife.

Cover the pastry with the apples and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon to taste. Place the cloves inbetween the apples too.

Roll out the second half of pastry. Moisten around the edge of the bottom layer and place the second pice on top.

Press down on the pastry edges making sure it’s sealed. Trim any excess pastry with a knife in a downward motion and flute the edges with a pinching action.

Cut a small slit in the centre of the tart to allow steam to escape whilst cooking.

Bake for 30 minutes until the crust is a golden brown. Dust with caster sugar or icing sugar to serve.

^_^   Enjoy!

Chocolate Layer Cake

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A birthday wouldn’t be a birthday without a cake! So this year for my 28th birthday I decided to make a cake using a wonderful recipe that I adapted from a Mary Engelbreit book I bought in the Goodwill Store for $3!  I hadn’t made a cake like this before, or anything Mary Engelbreit for that matter (I recognised her name from her sweet illustrations)  It turned out scrumptious and was really easy to make!  I will definately make this again and again in the future, perhaps with a different frosting or an extra layer…O_O!

I used my best ingredients for this like a really good vanilla extract, Ghirardelli chocolate baking chips and my favourite baking cocoa Schaffen Berger  and oh boy it was totally worth it. The richness and chocolatey heaven of this cake is any chocolate lovers dream.

Serves 8 — 10

Ingredients:
For the cakes

185 g / 1 2/3 cups cup of plain flour

75 g / 2/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder – preferably Dutch processed cocoa powder

1 1/2 tspn baking powder

1/4 tspn salt

1/2 tspn baking soda

175 g / 3/4 cup ( 1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter (at room temperature)

340 g / 1 1/2 cup sugar

3 large freerange eggs at room temperature

1 1/2 tspn vanilla extract

330 g / 1 1/3 cups of sour cream

Utensils:

Two mixing bowls,whisk,spatula,wooden spoon(s), sieve, hand mixer (if possible) two 9-inch round cake tins

Method:

*Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas mark 4

Grease and flour the two 9 inch round cake tins

In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt

In another mixing bowl, ‘cream’ the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. (If using an electric mixer use a low speed)

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition followed by the vanilla extract.

Next add half of the flour and all of the sour cream. Continue blending everything well ( or beating on a low speed) and then add the remaining flour.

Pour the batter in the prepared tins and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon.

Bake the layers for approx 30mins or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 mins before removing from the tins. Let cool completely on the racks while you prepare the frosting. (It is important for the cakes to be cooled before frosting as heat would just cause your frosting to melt)


                          

Ingredients:      

For the Sour Cream Fudge frosting ( makes 2 1/4 cups )

10 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate pieces or coarsely chopped

330 g / 1 1/3 cups of sour cream

1 tspn vanilla extract

Utensils:

A heatproof bowl, saucepan, mixing bowl, wooden spoon and icing spatula

Method:

Over a medium heat melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl placed on a saucepan of water. Stirring occasionally until smooth.

Meanwhile in a bowl combine the sour cream and vanilla extract. Next gradually combine the chocolate and sour cream until smooth and shiny (If using an electric mixer use a medium setting)

Let stand for approx 20- 30 mins until room temperature and slightly thickened stirring once or twice.

Frosting Technique:

Before you begin, remember to brush away loose crumbs. Spread a layer of frosting over the first cake layer evenly but without reaching the edge as the weight of the top cake layer will do that for you once you centre it on top. Continue to spread the frosting smoothly using the icing spatula over the top of the cake and all around the sides. Finish by topping with chocolate sprinkles and last but not least enjoy!

Pineapple uʍop-ǝpısdn cake!

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So this delightful and easy peasy cake is a recipe I learnt in school. It’s so simple to make, tastes yummy and you don’t have to always use pineapples – tinned peaches or apricots would make nice variations too. This is probably my favourite cake to bake, not because of how easy and fast it is but because it makes one of my favourite fruits into a gorgeous caramelised sweet topping. The cake itself (a madeira mixture -substituting milk for pineapple juice mind)  is moist but firm – perfect for slicing! It also looks kinda cool too.

Ingredients:

To line the base of the tin;

50g / 4 tbsp /1.76 oz butter/margarine (I prefer butter for a more caramelised flavour) & a little extra for greasing

50g/ 1.76 oz brown sugar

1 small tin of pineapple rings (drained) in juice – about 4-5 rings

4 or 5 glace cherries (optional- you’ll see from my image I didn’t have any so went nuts with the nuts!)

4 or 5 walnuts (whole) – I sometimes use chopped walnuts so about a handful is enough for a topping.

Madeira Mixture;

100g / 3 1/2 oz / 8 tbsp  butter or margarine chopped up & at room temperature

2 free-range eggs

1/4 tsp baking powder

100g / 3 1/2 oz  caster sugar

125g / 4 oz  plain flour

1 tbsp pineapple juice ( instead of milk to moisten)

1/4 tsp vanilla essence

Utensils:

7 inch (18cm) tin , two mixing bowls, spatula & mixing spoon, hand blender (not a necessity with elbow grease!) & wire rack

*Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas mark 4   & grease the tin well with the ‘extra’ butter*

Method:

For lining the tin – blend the butter and brown sugar into a creamy mixture and spread this over the base of the tin. Arrange the pineapple rings (cherries) & walnuts in an attractive pattern over this base. I usually fit 5 rings and fill in the spaces with the nuts and cherries.

Next make the madeira mixture.

Start by ‘creaming’ the  butter and sugar until combined into a pale and creamy mixture.

Beat in the two eggs, one at a time adding a tbspn of the flour after the 2nd egg to prevent the mixture from curdling.

Sift the flour and baking powder and  fold into the rest of the mixture and blend (this is where a hand blender is well, handy) until smooth.

Add the tbsp of pineapple juice to moisten & vanilla essence for more flavour and blend some more, until the mixture falls slowly from the spoon.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with the spatula and spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, taking care not to lift the fruit and nuts out of place as this will spoil the ‘decoration’.

Smooth down using the back of the spoon.

Bake for about 30 minutes and then reduce the oven heat to about 150°C / 300°F / Gas mark 2, for a further 10 minutes until cooked through – 40 minutes in total.

The cake should be golden and have pulled away from the edges of the tin.

Leave to cool in the tin on the wire rack for about five minutes before placing a plate over the tin and turning upside-down. The cake should skip out easily.

Enjoy all on its own …or with custard!

Flour Power!!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

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This yumdiddleyscrumptious recipe I got from my sister & is one of her ‘notoriously good’ desserts. It really is yummy and probably a favourite with many – it most certainly is with my husband which is why I will always have the necessary ingredients on hand in future! This is something he seems to order constantly as ‘pudding’ when we dine out. This is a classic British treat (Some say it has English origins others, Scottish) consisting of a very moist sponge made with finely chopped dates (sometimes prunes) and covered in a toffee sauce.

The cake itself can be kept in the freezer for later use, so it can be useful to make up several at once. Both the pudding and sauce actually taste better the day after baking I think, as it gives all those richer ingredients a chance to mingle and blend together. They can be re-heated then (separately!) and served with ice-cream or cream (I personally love good auld Vanilla Haagen Daaz) or custard.

Makes 2 loaf tins

Ingredients:

For the pudding

8 oz /16 tbsp butter chopped up – plus a tiny bit extra for greasing

8 oz / 1 cup of golden caster sugar

3 eggs

12 oz / 1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 1/2 tsp of baking powder

4 oz / 1/2 cup milk

4 oz / 1/2 cup water

1 tsp vanilla essence

12 oz / 1 1/2 cups of finely chopped & pitted dates

For the Toffee Sauce

16 oz / 2 cups of light muscovado sugar / tightly packed brown sugar

10 oz / 1 1/4 cups of double cream

2 oz / 4 tbsp butter

4 oz / 1/2 cup of finely chopped pecan nuts

Golden Syrup (if you have some in your cupboard, but not a necessity for the recipe)

Utensils: A loaf tin, a spatula, saucepan & a food blender if you have one, if not elbow grease works just as well 🙂

 *Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas mark 4   & grease your tin well with the ‘extra’ butter*

Method:

Start by blending together the butter and sugar until combined into a pale and creamy mixture.

Add the eggs one at a time. Using your spatula scrape down the sides making sure the eggs are combined well, and not stuck to the sides.

Combine the flour & baking powder and add to your mixture while slowly adding the milk and water as you combine all of the ingredients into a smooth batter.

Lastly fold in the dates and  pour half of the mixture into the greased tin.

Bake for approx 45 mins (times may vary depending on your oven 30 minutes may be sufficient) or until a fork inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Repeat with the remaining batter mixture for the second loaf.

Leave to cool on a wire rack in the tin for 5 mins before removing from the tin and continue cooling for another 10 minutes.

In the saucepan, bring the cream, butter and sugar to the boil stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer, add the pecan nuts and continue stirring over a low heat for approx 5 minutes.  (For an even more toffee flavour add 1 tbsp of golden syrup)

Cut the loaf into slices, pour over the warm toffee sauce and serve with a scoop (or three!) of vanilla ice-cream…and enjoy!

Mince Pies

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Christmas in California prompted the start of what has become my ‘Baking Buzz’  for 2011. Americans don’t eat mince pies (!) I know. I couldn’t believe it either. Imagine with all the Irish & British living over here, you think it would have caught on by now! I think I need to start a trend. Mince pies are a necessity (for me) during the holidays & rightly so – what on earth would Santa think come Christmas Eve?! Served on their own or with cream/custard/ice-cream they really are simply scrumptious.

I was home two weeks before Crimbo so stocked up on a few jars of ‘Chivers Mincemeat’ (which is basically a fruit preserve (v) for those who have never heard/seen or tasted it. You can make this yourself  but at home you can get in in jars for handiness!) and brought them back bubble-wrapped safely in my luggage. They did cause suspicion mind and one jar was unwrapped and inspected at customs along with my Lyons tea stash. Blank faces then approved my sneaky food supplies, (phew!) they had already moved on to a Swedish lady with a huge salami (now that’s definitely meat).

And so the recipe goes

Serves 12

Ingredients:

100g / 3 1/2 oz  butter – plus a tiny bit extra for greasing.

200g / 7 oz plain flour – plus extra for dusting

25g / 1 oz icing sugar – plus extra for dusting

1 egg yolk

2-3 tablespoons of milk – plus extra for glazing

300g / 10 1/2 oz mincemeat

Utensils:

A Tartlet tin (mine was a 12-hole one) , two fluted cutters  (3 inch & 2 1/2 inch), a pastry brush & rolling pin

*Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas mark 4   & grease your tin well with the ‘extra’ butter*

Method:

Sift the flour into a bowl & then using you fingertips, rub in the remaining butter until your mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the sugar & egg yolk. Stir in enough milk to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface & knead lightly until smooth.

Roll your dough into a smooth ball & roll out to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Use the bigger (3 inch) cutter to to cut out 12 rounds (flouring the cutters in between each round) and line the tartlet  tin making little cases.

Half-fill each ‘case’ with mincemeat. Cut out a further 12 rounds from the  remaining dough using the smaller (2 1/2 inch) cutter to make lids for your pies. Using the pastry brush, glaze each lid before placing on top of each pie.

Bake in  the preheated oven for 15-20 mins until the pastry is a golden colour (times may vary depending on your oven )

Remove from the oven & cool on a wire rack. Don’t forget to dust with the ‘extra’ icing sugar before serving.

Christmas 2010