Thursday, 24 January 2013

Australia Day Lamingtons


Lamingtons with passion fruit curd

It’s Australia Day on Saturday.  A public holiday for our friends down-under and a day for Australians all over the world to throw some snags on the Barbie, sink a few glasses of Bundaberg and catch up on the Neighbours omnibus. Although I’m not actually an Aussie, I am rather partial to a lamington (and a Bundaberg rum), and Australia Day seems as good a time as any to indulge.

Lamingtons are cubes of light, fluffy sponge, slathered in chocolate icing, before being dunked in desiccated coconut. They’re perfect for an afternoon lift with a cup of tea and make a nice change from our usual British fare. I have made traditional lamingtons many times before, but thought it might be nice to add an extra layer of sunshine this time round. 

Australia’s record-breaking heat wave has seen temperatures soar to 49.6°C in Moomba, so it looks like their extra layer of sunshine is already a given. The grey streets of London, however, tell a much chillier tale, so my lamington sunshine comes in the form of tart and sweet passion fruit curd. 

I love the refreshing, tropical tang of passion fruit and it works particularly well against the rich bitterness of dark chocolate. If you find your search for passion fruitless, lemon curd would be a delicious alternative.

Lamingtons

Lamington

I made a simple gluten free génoise, but a Victoria sponge will work just as well.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan)/350°F (325°F fan)/ Gas Mark 4. 
Line a 23 x 33cm (9 x 13inch) roulade tray with baking parchment.

For the sponge

4 large eggs
125g caster sugar
25g butter, melted
A generous splash of vanilla extract
125g Plain or rice flour

For the chocolate icing

150g dark chocolate (I used Green & Blacks 70%)
50g unsalted butter

For assembly

Passion fruit curd (either homemade or shop bought)
150g desiccated coconut

Lamingtons with passion fruit curd

Place the eggs and sugar in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Use an electric hand whisk to beat continuously until the mixture is hot. Carefully remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk on high speed for a good 5 minutes, or until the mixture has doubled in volume and is at the ribbon stage – pale, thick and mousse-like and leaves a slowly disappearing trail when you lift the beaters.

Whisk in the melted butter and vanilla before sifting over the flour. Fold in with a large metal spoon until fully combined. Be careful not to over-mix and knock the air out of the batter. Pour into your prepared roulade tray and bake for 10 -15 minutes or until the cake is springy and no longer sticky to touch. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Cut the sponge into 4cm x 4cm squares.


To make the icing, simply melt the chocolate with the butter in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water. Allow it to cool slightly, for dipping.

To assemble the lamingtons, sandwich two squares of sponge together with passion fruit curd and repeat with the rest of your squares of sponge. Pop the cakes in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Place a cake on a fork and dunk it in the chocolate icing, making sure it is fully coated on all sides. You can place the cakes on a wire rack and pour over the icing instead if you find it easier. Once covered dip the cakes in the desiccated coconut. Place on a plate and pop them back in the fridge to set. 


Friday, 18 January 2013

Chocolate, ginger and green tea mousse cakes


Chocolate, ginger and green tea mousse cake

All thoughts of January diets can be chucked out of the window on a snow day. You can't survive on lettuce leaves and cabbage soup in temperatures that start with a minus. Be kind to yourself. After traipsing through snow on your way home, turning the front door key with chattering teeth, before finally stepping into the warm, with wet feet and chapped hands (because you forgot your gloves. Again), a treat is definitely in order. Snow days are for cuddling up under blankets in front of the fire and turning to the sweeter things in life. 

This chocolate, ginger and green tea mousse cake ticks all the right boxes. It's simple enough to make that you'll still have time to play outside and throw snowballs at your friends and it's pretty enough to garner plenty of oohs and aahs. Although this isn't an instant pud', if you make it tonight, it will be soothing to know it's in the fridge waiting for you to delve in tomorrow. If that can't get you through a snowy weekend, I don't know what can.

Chocolate, ginger and green tea mousse cakes

Chocolate, ginger and green tea mousse cake


for the green tea cake

I made a gluten free version, but you can simply swap the rice flour for plain flour if wheat isn't an issue for you.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan)/350°F (325°F fan)/Gas Mark 4. Line a 23 x 33cm/9 x 13inch roulade tray with baking parchment.

3 large eggs
90g caster sugar
20g unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp matcha (green tea powder)
90g rice or plain flour

Place the eggs and sugar in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk continuously until the mixture is hot. Carefully remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk on high speed until the mixture has doubled in volume and is at the ribbon stage: pale, thick and mousse-like, leaving a slowly disappearing trail when you lift the beaters. This can take a good 5 minutes with an electric hand whisk.

Whisk in the melted butter. Sift over the matcha and flour and fold in using a large metal spoon, being careful not to overmix and knock the air out of the batter.

Pour the batter into your prepared tin and gently level it with a palette knife. Pop the cake in the oven to 10 to 15 minutes or until the cake is firm and springy to touch. Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate and ginger mousse

A classic French chocolate mousse only has two ingredients: eggs and chocolate, but to make the mousse more stable when you take them out of their moulds, I have added butter and cream.

100g good quality dark chocolate
70g unsalted butter
4 tbsp ginger syrup (from a jar of Chinese stem ginger)
2 large eggs, separated
A pinch of salt
60ml double cream

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water. Once smooth, glossy and fully melted, whisk in the egg yolks and ginger syrup. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until stiff peaks form and fold into the chocolate mixture with a large metal spoon. Be careful not to knock the air out of the mousse. In the same bowl as you whisked the egg whites, whisk the cream to soft peaks (there's no need to wash the beaters) and fold the cream into the mousse. Decant into a jug ready for assembling the mousse cakes.

Assembly

2 balls of stem ginger, finely sliced, plus extra cut into fine matchsticks to decorate their tops.

Grease the inside of 8 ring moulds (4cm x 6cm) with a tasteless oil. I used groundnut, but sunflower oil will be equally good.

Use the ring moulds to cut out a round of cake to fit the base of each mould. Line a tray with baking parchment and place the cake filled ring moulds on to it. Gently press the cake to ensure it is pushed fully down to the base. Top the cakes with some fine slices of ginger before filling the ring moulds with ginger and chocolate mousse, right up to their tops. Place the tray in the fridge for at least six hours or overnight. Before removing the ring moulds, artfully place a few matchsticks of ginger on top. Place a mousse cake on an egg cup before flashing round the edge with a blowtorch. You should be able to slide the ring mould down off the cake. If you don't have a blowtorch, you can use a hairdryer. Transfer the mousse cake on to a plate using a palette knife and repeat until all of the cakes have been de-moulded.


Chocolate, ginger and green tea mousse cake




Thursday, 17 January 2013

Sticky toffee cake


Sticky toffee cake

So, January. Here we go again. The time of year when gym memberships go up and the diet police come out, full-throttle, wiggling about in leotards and wagging their bony fingers at us, stirring up shame and dishing up huge dollops of self-disgust.  I’m tired of them spoiling the whole of January by making us regret our festive right to have a merry and indulgent Christmas. All these guilt-inducing fad diets only send me, weeping, into the arms of the biscuit barrel.

Based on the most perfect British winter dessert - the sticky toffee pudding - this cake is basically an up yours to the January detox. Rich and sweet, without being sickly, sticky toffee cake will brighten up a wintry afternoon in no time. It has the added bonus of not requiring you to remember to take the butter out of the fridge to come up to room temperature before you put your pinny on. And it has dates in, so it’s practically one of your five-a-day.

Sticky Toffee Cake

Slice of sticky toffee cake


Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan)/350°F (325°F fan)/ Gas Mark 4. Grease and line two 9-inch sandwich tins.

For the cake

400g dates, stoned and roughly chopped (I used medjool)
2 mugs of fairly weak black tea
200g light muscovado sugar
50g dark muscovado sugar (this gives it more depth, but you can substitute it for more light if you don’t want to mess about with two sugars)
2 tbsp golden syrup
4 large eggs
200g unsalted butter, melted
3 heaped teaspoons of mixed spice
A generous splash of vanilla extract
350g self raising flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
A pinch of salt

For the sticky toffee sauce

100g light muscovado sugar
50g dark muscovado sugar (or more light)
30g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
A generous splash of vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
125ml double cream or condensed milk

For the buttercream

200g soft, unsalted butter (take it out of the fridge when you start making the cake, so it’ll be soft by the time you make the icing)
400g icing sugar
Half the cold sticky toffee sauce
A splash of milk, if needed

Place the dates in a saucepan with the tea and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and leave to simmer for 5 minutes. You can, if you wish, blitz the dates and tea in a blender at this stage, for a smoother texture to your final cake, but it’s by no means essential.Whisk the eggs, sugars and syrup together until pale and fluffy.  Gradually whisk in the melted butter.   Fold in the dates and vanilla. Sift all the dry ingredients over the top of the wet and fold together with a large metal spoon. Be careful not to knock the air out of the mixture.  

Divide between the two tins and pop into the oven for around 35 to 40 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.  While the cake is baking, make the toffee sauce. Place all the ingredients, except for the cream, into a saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until all the sugar has dissolved.  Bring to a rolling boil, before stirring in the cream.  Prick the tops of your baked cakes all over with a skewer or cocktail stick before drizzling a generous amount of the toffee sauce over each cake.  Leave the cakes to cool completely in their tins on top of a cooling rack, before turning out.

To make the buttercream, simply whisk the butter until creamy and sift over and whisk in half of the icing sugar, before doing the same again with the second half (this stops it flying out of your bowl and covering your kitchen in icing sugar). Add the rest of the cold toffee sauce, reserving a couple of spoons’ worth to drizzle over the top, and whisk in. If the buttercream is too stiff, whisk in a little milk to slacken it slightly.  Sandwich the cakes together with half of the buttercream and spread the remaining on the top, before drizzling over the reserved toffee sauce.  Enjoy!

Sticky toffee close up.

TOP TIP: You can halve the ingredients for 6-inch sandwich tins (reduce the baking time to 25 - 30 mins) or a 2lb loaf tin.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Posh tropical mousse cake.



Barely an hour after the clock struck twelve, 2013 saw fit to give me the gift of norovirus. It really was the gift that kept on giving (and giving and giving) and was even less fun than it sounds. Now, having made a full recovery, I'm intending to grab this year with both hands to make up for the ropey start. I've got a new sous-vide to play with (a Christmas present from the lovely Richard Hurst), lots of exciting new recipes to add to my cake repertoire and tomorrow marks the date of the OFFICIAL UK PUBLICATION DATE OF MY BOOK! Amazon may have been sending out copies since October, but now it will be in ACTUAL BOOKSHOPS and everything. You may be able to tell from my liberal use of capital letters, that I'm fairly excited by this. So excited, in fact, that I've put the next hour aside to plan my book launch party. There's no rest for the wicked.

Aside from my party plans, I have also been celebrating no longer having norovirus by making and eating lots of delicious things this week, including this lime and mango mousse-topped lime cake. To make it even more sunshine-y, I served it with passion fruit ice cream, fresh pineapple and passion fruit pulp. It was mighty tasty and perfect dinner party fare.

Happy New Year!

Mango and lime mousse cake

For the cake

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and line a roulade tin with baking parchment and oil 6 ring moulds

3 large eggs, separated
100g caster sugar
25g butter, melted
The zest of 2 limes
100g plain flour (you can substitute this for rice flour to make it gluten free)

Place the eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk (with an electric whisk if you have one, to save arm power) until the mixture is hot. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk for a good 5 minutes or until the mixture has doubled in volume and is thick, pale and mousse-like. Whisk in the melted butter before sifting over the flour and folding it in. Fold in the lime zest and pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 15-20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Once cool, line a small tray with baking parchment and use the ring moulds to cut out a disc of cake and transfer on to your tray. Gently press the cake to ensure each disc is properly pushed into the base of each ring.

For the mousse

1 ripe mango, peeled, stoned and blitzed in a blender
2 large eggs, separated
175ml double cream
The juice of 2 limes
2 leaves of gelatine, softened in cold water for 10 minutes.

Place the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl and whisk together until thick and pale. In the meantime, pop the cream in a pan and heat until it just boils. Pour the cream over the eggs and whisk in, before transferring it back in the pan over a gentle heat. Stir continuously until the custard begins to thicken and then pour into a jug. Stir in the lime juice and mango puree and top the jug with cling film to prevent a skin forming. Leave to cool completely before popping it in the fridge to chill.

Whisk the egg whites and fold through the custard. Squeeze out the excess cold water from the gelatine and melt it with 1 tbsp of boiling water. Stir it into the mousse before filling each mould right to the top. Pop the tray of filled moulds in the fridge to set for 4 hours.

To de-mould, simply flash a blow torch round the edge of each mould before sliding it off. You can use a hairdryer instead if you don't have a blow torch. Grate a little extra lime zest over their tops if you like and tuck in.