Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chocolate Custard Squares - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (5/100)


I have to say, hats off to Fred (of Tales of Pigling Bland - for more info on why she is "Fred," you'll have to go here and here (and read the comments)) for suggesting baking through a Hummingbird Bakery book. So many things I would have missed out on - the number of bakes in this book I would have skipped over, without a second glance, if it wasn't for the discipline of a bake-along.

This one is an excellent example - a bizarre combination at first glance, that somehow all comes together into a chocolate-y-vanilla-y-deliciousness.

I made a couple of substitutions: I replaced the cashew nuts with an equal weight of almonds because I realised too late I didn't have any and couldn't be bothered to buy more felt almonds were a nice alternative.

I also substituted amaretto for the Kahlua, because, despite finding 3 bottles of Chartreuse (seriously! What even is it?!) in the ancient family liquor cabinet, there was no Kahlua, and I ain't buying an entire bottle for the sake of 3 tablespoons. Plus, with the almonds, it complimented the base nicely.

These are seriously rich - the recipe suggests cutting into 12-15 squares, I cut into 16, and that still seemed an awfully big portion to me! However, they disappeared mighty fast at both PCC and work.

Base (smooshed up in the food processor, then baked at 170C for 15 minutes):
100g amaretti biscuits
60g unsalted cashews (I substituted unblanched almonds)
40g cocoa powder (the recipe specifies, "sifted," I did not sift, as it then tells you to blitz it with the other ingredients in a food processor, and if a food processor cannot get out the lumps in the cocoa, then we have bigger problems)
100g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter
80g desiccated coconut
2 large eggs
Custard filling (basically a thick buttercream):
200g unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons custard powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
500g icing sugar
4 tablespoons whole milk
Chocolate topping
150g dark chocolate (I used a blend of ~75g 85% and ~75g ~70% - the filling is so sweet you need a nice bitter chocolate to cut through)
25g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons Kahlua (I used Amaretto instead)

In other news - the Laduree bake along is on hold, as it turns out finding barquette moulds and savarin moulds in the correct sizes is a) difficult and b) being debated as to its value - I'm not keen to buy things I will only use once/have one use for - kitchen space is limited, and likely to need packing up and moving at some point. I am sad about this, as I was enjoying learning patisserie, so will definitely return to it at some point. Now to find something else for the twice weekly baking...

Next up: Raspberry Jelly Roll (Swiss roll!)


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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Lemon Macarons (Ladurée Sucré Bake Through)

These faired a little better than the chocolate macarons, with over half of the macarons forming feet, and fewer cracked tops. I think the problem is too thick batter, even after some hearty macaronage, so it may be a question of more stirring, less gentle folding, or slightly less almonds and icing sugar.

These underwent a very strange reaction in the fridge and became very soft on the outside as well as the inside, perhaps the lemon cream was a bit too wet, and there was too much water absorption?

They were rather melt-in-the-mouth, though, and this was well received. The lemon flavour was excellent, and the combination of the tart cream with the sweet macaron was rather nice.

I have one more type of macaron left (I think - raspberry) before I move onto other types of patisserie, and then I need to locate barquette moulds and savarin moulds! Maybe I'll take a short break to do some Christmas baking instead.

Macarons previously: MacaronsAlmond MacaronsAlmond Cake with Macaroon TopChocolate Macarons.

Lemon Cream:
160g granulated sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon (unwaxed)
5g (2 tsp) cornflour
3 eggs
110ml lemon juice
235g butter (softened)
Macaron shells:
275g ground almonds
250g icing sugar
6+1/2 egg whites (separated)
210g granulated sugar
few drops of yellow food colouring (I added more than a few drops of natural yellow food colouring, but did not get the desired colour, unfortunately)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Blackbottom Pie - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (4/100)

Some time ago, I made blackbottom cupcakes (also a Hummingbird Bakery recipe) - they had cream cheese in them, which always seems to go weird when I mix it up to bake with. The resulting cupcakes were a bit, "meh" - they were dry and not that exciting, so I wasn't holding out much hope for this pie.

However, the pie is quite a different sort of a thing to the cupcakes. For a start; no cake. A biscuit crumb base, topped with two sorts of custard (chocolate and plain) followed by whipped cream and shaved chocolate. This is a whole other story, folks.

The recommended pie dish diameter was 9 inches. I think if I was making again, I'd use an 8 inch pie dish, as I think I'd like more height to my pie, this felt a little thin. Mind you, it is quite rich, so you'd need a smaller slice. Oh, dilemmas, dilemmas!

Sadly, it seems that just Pigling (or Fred, as The Foggy Knitter suggested last time) and I are willing to engage in this Bake Along, so I'm trying to think of a way to inspire you, my readers (all three of you.) Any suggestions? You don't have to join in with all of it, just one or two bakes? So we don't feel so lonely? Do I sound desperate? I feel like I sound desperate!

Judging by the speed at which my colleagues devoured this, I would suggest it is a Good Thing. I even persuaded the chaplain to try it. (What does it say about you if you can tempt a man of the cloth with a chocolate pie?)

200g double chocolate cookies, crushed into crumbs (I may have made a boo-boo here and bought chocolate chunk cookies, which weren't "double" - I just added a tablespoon of cocoa to the crumbs and all was well again)
80g unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons rum
1 tablespoon water
2 leaves of gelatine (are all leaves of gelatine the same? I'm not sure my pie had quite enough gelatine in, it was set, but a little too soft for my liking...hmmm)
500ml whole milk
4 egg yolks (save the whites to make Almond Macarons or Chocolate Macarons etc)
160g caster sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
170g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), chopped (I used posh couverture buttons, and didn't bother chopping, and all was still well)
400ml double cream
3 tablespoons icing sugar (I reduced this to 1 and a half, and it was plenty sweet enough)
20g dark chocolate, shaved with a vegetable peeler.

Next week: Chocolate Custard Squares!


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Monday, November 03, 2014

Linzer Cookies - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (3/100)

Week three of this 2 year adventure that Pigling Bland and I have started on. (Aside - do you think it's okay that I call her Pigling? She has self-styled as such in the bio of her blog, but in real life I'd certainly only ever call her Gill, hmmm.)

Anyway, a fairly standard cookie recipe, with a fairly ordinary method of manufacture, (cream butter and sugar, add rest of ingredients, chill, roll, chill, cut, bake,) in contrast with the last two bakes from Home Sweet Home.

I did ignore the instructions slightly, because I thought these looked better with a smaller centre cut out - the instructions advised one about twice as big, but I preferred the semi-jammy-dodger type look.

These are quite big biscuits really, about twice the size of your normal jammy dodger, but standard linzer cookie size (based on my somewhat limited experience - the coffee shop where I used to work sold them, but at £1.50 each I was somewhat reluctant to buy one...)

Linzer cookies have a spiced biscuit dough, which contains ground almonds, and are generally filled with raspberry or strawberry jam. I substituted the jam with wild plum and apple jelly, which I feel gives them just the right deep red centres. 

280g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
380g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
60g ground almonds
200g seedless strawberry jam (or any red, smooth, jelly or jam)

Next week: Blackbottom Pie

Please do join us in this crazy bake along. Here's a badge if you do, and do pop a link in the comments so we can have a nosey!


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Sunday, November 02, 2014

A Lake District Adventure

In a brief break from baking, The Kindred Spirit and I took a holiday in the Lake District (like other fashionable people.)

We stayed at High Wray Farm, which I would highly recommend - a lovely B&B on part of the Claife Estate (formerly belonged to Mr William Heelis, husband of Miss Beatrix Potter,) with excellent food, rooms, and an excellent hostess - nothing was too much trouble.

The welcome was warm (as were the rooms, which is always appreciated with Lake District weather!)

We sampled Grasmere Gingerbread and explored as many National Trust treasures as we could, including Hill Top (Miss Beatrix Potter's house,) The Beatrix Potter Gallery (housed in what was Mr William Heelis's office,) Allen Bank (an unusual property where you can touch everything, because only the shell is original, following a fire a few years ago, but the very first tennant there was William Wordsworth,) William Wordsworth's grave (quietly unassuming,) and admired the beautiful scenery of Lake Windermere and its surroundings.

Well worth a visit, and one I hope will be repeated.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chocolate Macarons (Ladurée Sucré Bake Through)

Sometimes, even with plenty of macaron experience, they just go a bit wrong, and sometimes, you just don't know why! All had seemed well with these shells, but they never developed feet, and the shells were thin and cracked.

The ganache split, when I was adding the second "part" of the cream. On the upside, that was fairly easily rescued by chilling then beating with some liquid glucose. The leftover ganache is now sitting solidly and innocently in the fridge awaiting being turned into truffles.

Still, they tasted pretty good - sweet shells, with a deep, bitter, chocolate filling - despite the liquid glucose, the ganache still had a wonderful dark chocolate bite. They just won't be winning any competitions for looks.

Chocolate ganache
290g 70% cacao solids chocolate
270ml double cream
60g butter
Macaron shells
260g ground almonds
250g icing sugar
15g cocoa powder
65g 70% cacao solids chocolate
6 egg whites + 1/2 an egg white
210g granulated sugar

Recipe - Macarons Chocolate from Sucré

Macarons in the past: Macarons, Almond Macarons, Almond Cake with Macaroon Top

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Almond Cake with Macaroon Top - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (2/100)

Another unusual cake method from Hummingbird Bakery! Butter and marzipan are creamed together, before icing sugar (rather than the usual caster sugar) is added. The marzipan replaces the need for almond extract, and despite the small quantity, imparts a good flavour - not overpowering, but not so subtle that you miss it.

This is also a cake to make you nervous - it requires removing the cake from the oven before it is done, at a stage the recipe terms, "almost done," then applying a macaron batter directly to the top of the cake. It flies in the face of just about everything you're taught about baking - don't open the oven door before the cake is ready, and certainly don't weigh down a cake that is liable to sink (because it wasn't ready) with a wet macaron batter!

Surprisingly, however, it worked! (And, I would like to point out, better than the cake in the book, which has a dip in the middle!) I baked the cake at 150C fan, (Home Sweet Home doesn't give fan temperatures) for 40 minutes, until it was a lovely golden brown on top, and sprang back when prodded, but was still "singing" (an ear placed near the cake heard crackling noises) and then topped it with the macaron.

The recipe also notes that a springform tin is essential, or the cake won't turn out. I didn't read this until I had turned the cake out, and I can verify that if you just use a loose bottomed tin and fully line the sides and bottom with non-stick baking paper, the cake will turn out. My cake is slightly smaller at 7+1/2 inches in diameter, as this was the closest to an 8 inch diameter tin that I had.

80g fine yellow cornmeal (I used maize meal, which I found in my local independent wholefood shop)
80g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
115g unsalted butter, softened
50g marzipan
200g icingsugar
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
60g sour cream
2 large egg whites
125g caster sugar
125g ground almonds

Oooh, look! A nice shiny badge for this bake along (thanks to my genius brother) - if you want to join us on our bake through Home Sweet Home, please do! You don't have to join in for all of it, but if you join us, why not use this badge and pop a link below so we know we're not the only crazy ones out there! (If this proves popular, I'll add a link-up tool so everyone can see what's going on)


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 Next up: Linzer Cookies!

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jaffa Cake Cupcakes - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (1/100)

As you may remember, Pigling and I have decided to battle the post Bake Off Blues (it's a real thing) together by baking through one of our books. It took us a while to decide on a book - eventually we found one we both have - Home Sweet Home by the Hummingbird Bakery. The aim of this bake through is that we will actually try all of the recipes in a cookbook. I don't know about you, but I have several cookbooks where I have never cooked anything from it, or perhaps one or two recipes.

We're hoping to bake all the recipes, at a rate of about one a week - which, given the cover indicates there are 100 recipes, means we'll take about 2 years!! There may be some flexibility in the schedule, but this is up for negotiation. In order to avoid getting bogged down in one type of bake, we are planning to bake one recipe from each chapter in turn, then start again (i.e. week 1 cupcakes, week 2 cakes cheesecakes and roulades, week 3 cookies and biscuits... then back to cupcakes again for week 8)

If you're a baker, and fancy a little bit of light relief and baking fun, why don't you join us? You could bake just one recipe, or all of them, or just cheer from the sidelines! At some point there might be a logo/badge, but not just yet!

Anyway, onto this weeks recipe -  Jaffa Cake Cupcakes. A cupcake formation of the classic jaffa cake - a sponge base, an orange jelly filling and a chocolate buttercream - decorated with a jaffa cake (to remove doubt as to the contents!)

I love the idea of this bake. Hummingbird bakery cupcakes always intrigue me, as there is a much lower proportion of butter, higher proportion of sugar, than I would usually use, and the addition of milk. The batter is also made in an unusual (to me) way - the dry ingredients and butter and mixed together to make a crumb, then the liquid ingredients are slowly added. Normally for a sponge cake, I would cream butter and sugar, add eggs, flavourings and then flour and leavening. Milk would be unlikely to feature.

The Hummingbird method does produce a lovely tender crumb, but a rather crunchy top to the cake - which is remedied by copious quantities of buttercream (a little too much in this recipe, some ended up in the freezer, despite cakes with their volume in buttercream! Next time I would probably make 2/3 of the recipe for the icing, reduce the icing sugar and increase the cocoa content for a more chocolatey icing.)

Strangely the high sugar content makes the batter very sweet (yes, I tested it) but the sponge cake does not suffer. Altogether, this is a rather scrummy, and unusual, cupcake. I may need to invest in a cupcake corer for the future recipes, as my ability to extract cylinders of cake from cupcakes leaves something to be desired! I also couldn't find mini jaffa cakes, hence the large ones were halved to make "ears" for these cupcakes.

70g unsalted butter, very soft
210g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
210ml full-fat milk
2 eggs (large)
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g shredless (smooth) marmalade

Frosting: (but I would make only 2/3 of this)
450g icing sugar (sifted)
60g cocoa powder (sifted)
150g unsalted butter, very soft
60ml full fat milk
jaffa cakes, to decorate.

Recipe, from Home Sweet Home, by The Hummingbird Bakery, but also available as a Waterstones Recipe Card, here.

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