Week 52 Maria’s Chocolate cake with soft white chocolate icing
I can’t believe it - it’s been one year! And so this is my last ‘Maria’s Kitchen’ blog post. Of course I have to finish on a chocolate cake. This is my own recipe and contains a whole 1lb of 70% chocolate melted throughout and a cup of strong coffee to develop the taste further. Milk keeps it moist and soft and the dark brown sugar gives it a slightly caramel flavour. I wanted an icing that contained no butter or cream because the cake is very rich and one that tasted purely of white chocolate, so mine contains milk instead and is devastatingly sweet and good enough to eat with a spoon. I adore flake with this cake but you can top yours with whatever takes your fancy. It isn’t a fancy cake that cuts neatly, but a dig in, use a fork, pudding of a cake.
Thank you so much to everyone of you who has taken the time to follow my journey this year. I said at the beginning that ‘…you never know where we might be in a year’, well, my daughter, Charlotte and I will be starting our own bake and confectionery company due to start trading in the middle of November 2012. ‘Our Sweet Things' has grown out of bringing joy to others through baking and making sweet things together since Charlotte was a little girl. We hope you continue to support us by taking a look at our website www.oursweetthings.co.uk which will go live in November too! Focusing on developing my baking skills this year has been incredible and I have loved sharing it with you. Love and hugs back to you all (and a big chunck of cake….of course!)
Oh boy… go on then! ;O)
Week 51 Mary Anne’s Melting moments
I can’t believe it’s nearly been a year! I have wanted to bake these gorgeous little morsels from the very beginning and only remembered them because the new series of The Great British Bake-off has started. Thank goodness I did - they are absolutely delicious. Not too sweet and oh so melt in the mouth. They are a little bit complicated to bake but take each step at a time and bare in mind the recipe requires a lot of cooling time here and there. But they are sooo pretty you will immediately forgive the fact that it has taken you more time that you can possibly imagine to prepare them. They will pretty up any summer table. Mine got eaten in a flash, which is great because they don’t keep very well (and tend to go a little soggy). Well, done Mary Anne - I love this recipe and will definitely be baking them again. Nom nom nom!
Reference: Collister, L. (2011)THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF How To Bake, Ebury Publishing, London
ISBN 978 1 849 90268 7
Week 50 Nigella’s Tropical Chocolate Cake
How can I be seasonal and eat a chocolate cake? Nigella of course!! Nigella must be a chocolate lover too because her chocolate cakes are nearly always fantastic. Her recipe is a little lazy though - another ‘bung it all in’ - which I did and got sprayed with sloshing pineapple and cream cheese! This wouldn’t be half so bad if I hadn’t already had a wardrobe change due to some single cream that flew out the fridge at me already today. The butter does not mix in easily with out a lot of work which makes me wince as the flour is getting over worked every extra stir of the batter! Nigella does warn you that the cake will look disappointingly flat and not to panic because it will look lovely when it is iced. I still have faith tho because her chocolate cookies and chocolate honey cake and others are sooo good. My oven took an extra 20 minutes to bake this cake (I also find this common when following her cake recipes) so just follow your common sense and get it out when the skewer comes out with only crumbs on them. My cakes rose and were not flat at all but instead of feeling elated by this I get a stress head that I may have over cooked it. In the end I probably would have baked it for 5 minutes less. This is surprisingly light and feels wonderfully summery. And Nigella was right - it does look lovely all dressed up!
Lawson, N. (2004) Feast,Chattu and Windus, London
Week 49 Cairns Tiny Rose Creams
I can’t stop thinking of my lovely Nan while I’m making these. I’m visiting her tomorrow and I think she will adore them. They are incredibly vintage and yet modern at the same time. These may seem rather complicated but I urge you to give them a go. It is 3 simple parts - a sponge, a fondant (easier than you can imagine) and melting the chocolate during the assembly (the delicate bit - keep the heat super low. I turn the heat off all together). Fiona’s recipe also includes violet creams - you simply substitute the rose for violet liquer and decorate with violet petals instead. When you are pouring the chocolate over the cake, place them on a wire rack with a tray underneath to catch all the drips. This is the 2nd recipe I have used from this book and yet again her flavours manage to be subtle, light but wonderfully satisfying.
Week 48 Maria’s Cake Pops
I have some brownies left over (a rare problem in this house) and there’s even only so much a chocoholic can consume in one week. Soooo, I thought this is the week to make cake pops to tempt my family. You can really make this as easy or as difficult as you like. I’m definately up for easy this week. Some peeps make them into amazing stuff like handbags or faces etc but I need my life to be simple this week and so my cake balls will be big and basic but ohhhh so gorgeous all the same. If you have vanilla cake you can mix the basic buttercream with some strawberry jam, or if you have a carrot cake you can make a buttercream with some orange zest added. You can simply dip these gorgeous balls into any chocolate you like - I used a 70% to compliment my chocolate buttercream. I used my daughters favourite ice-cream sprinkles and the result was a brilliant success. They were eaten in no time at all and more were requested. I don’t think I’ll be throwing away any left-overs again!
Week 47 Ginger shortbread slice in SLICES
It’s summer but it’s raining. My heating is off and on still and we’re entering into August! So I feel fine (and rather cosy) about baking something warming. Besides, my hubby is home this week (enjoying the olympics) and he has the munchies for something crumbly with icing. I decided not to follow the instructions when making the shortbread - I have made it the ‘beating the sugar and butter together first’ way before and it is never as successful as making it the way you would a crumble i.e put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir them together then rub the chopped (not too soft) butter in to make ‘breadcrumbs’. Then press into a tin. They also don’t mention that you should place the shortbread in the fridge for 30 minutes then prick it all over before baking (honestly! If you didn’t prick it the shortbread would rise). The topping is as easy as they say, though, and you literally do just add all the ingredients together and heat it through gently. The kitchen smells lovely - and I feel confident that despite the lazy instructions the recipe is a hubby pleaser. Well, time to put the kettle on for a cup of tea, have a catch up on the olympics and a yummy slice of fattening shortbread (which will burn off bouncing on the sofa and yelling at the screen) - COME ON TEAM GB!!!!
Reference: Adams, A (2009)INDULGENCE slices a fine selection of sweet treats, Murdock Books, Australia
Week 46 The Butch Bakery’s Mojito Cupcakes
Summer’s here! Here in the SE we have enjoyed 3 whole days of sunshine. That may be it for the year, but it was enough to throw me into the Summer spirit of long icey cocktails. I’m partial to a Mojito so the concept of a Mojito cupcake is a rather thrilling one. I found this recipe in a cupcake book for men. It’s full of blokey ‘lingo’ and butch looking cupcakes. One recipe calls for bacon… I tried not to snigger at the chapter titles which includes Play Ball and Touchdown. I tried even harder not to belly laugh when I read some of the cupcake names, such as Driller and Tailgate. I can’t decide whether men would find these patronising, though I love the idea of masculine cupcakes. Somehow I found myself opting for the girliest one in the book. The lime cupcake contains lots of lime zest and juice and some heavy cream to-boot. The icing is a glorious combination of lime and mint - one I’d never had before but would definitely play with again. David suggests you pour about a teaspoon of dark rum onto each cupcake before icing. I would humbly suggest you either don’t, or if you do, try the more girly white rum and coconut drink we all know and love. The dark rum kind of interrupted the flavours rather than enhancing anything. In fact it actually tasted rather unpleasant (and I’m a fan of rum in a cake). Part of this may be that the recipe asks for 1/2tsp of salt which in this cake came on rather strong. I get that this is not meant to be a delicate all sweetness cake, buuuut… Still, I’m happy to sit in the garden with a good summer book and lick off that icing all day.
Reference: Arrick, D. (2011)THE BUTCH BAKERY COOKBOOK, John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey, USA
Week 45 River Cottage Bounty bar cake
I’m thinking tropical paradise… white beaches, blue skies, the warmth of sun on your face… (I’m trying very hard not to think of the wettest British summer time possibly ever!). So here is the Bounty bar cake! To transport you to warmer climes. The cake itself is really very yummy and contains a mass of coconut milk and desiccated coconut along with some cocoa powder. It is moist too. But for me the chocolate creme fraiche ganache is the absolute winner - it is gorgeous! Please try it - you may not go back to the traditional cream variety. I used a 55% dark chocolate which goes well with the tang of the creme fraiche. I also decided to decorate mine by cutting the loaf into ‘bars’ and then pouring over the chocolate ganache and instead of using chocolate buttons I sprinkled a little more desiccated coconut over mine. This ones a hit and yes for a moment I was transported to paradise - a soft chocolate and coconut one!!
Reference: Corbin, P (2011) River Cottage Handbook No.8 Cakes, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, London.
Week 44 Kimber’s Blueberry Crumb Tart
I wanted to bake something with blueberries because they are so gorgeous this time of year. I feel immediately better when I eat these purple berries as if my body is elated by all the natural goodness. In my mind this tart is practically a health food. I opted for individual tarts as I love the look of the fruit and crumble pieces looking over sized. The pastry is a good one - with almonds, vanilla seeds and icing sugar. It crumbles beautifully. I love that the filling lets the blueberries speak for themselves and has them bathing in a little lemon juice and sugar with just a little cornflour to thicken it. The crumble (and who doesn’t like crumble?!) contains ground almonds and also a touch of cinnamon which works so well. So this blueberry season allow yourself to indulge a little and wrap them up in a bed of crumbliness - you will feel all the benefit that these berries can bring with the comfort that only a warm crumbly pie can bring - heaven!
Reference: Kimber, E (2011)THE BOY WHO BAKES,Kyle Books, London.
ISBN 978 0 85783 045 6
Week 43 The Tartine Cherry Clafoutis
I’ve always wanted to make this! You can make this with a tart shell but I just fancy this lighter summer version. As it is the cherry season I have opted for cherries but you could also use apricots which will be in season soon or in winter you could use prunes. What ever takes your fancy. I think a little kirsch may be a good option. But today I want to stick to this recipe to see how it works out first before I let my greedy indulgent side take over. I feel this is a perfect summer 2012 dessert because it hasn’t stopped raining - I have even put the heating on for 1/2 a day because I fancied a warm towel after my bath - and Clafoutis also promises to be comforting, yet light. I’m surprised how simple it was to make - just follow the simple instructions on my recipe page and its done in ten minutes! In fact the hard things about making this is not eating too many of the cherries before you put them in the custard and waiting for 15 minutes for it to cool a little once it’s come out of the oven. Who cares if it’s July and it’s raining - as long as you have comforting, delicious treats like this to eat… and warm towels!
Reference: Prueitt, M and Robertson, C. (2006)TARTINE,Chronicle Books, San Francisco.
ISBN 978 0 8118 5150 3