Thursday, 17 November 2011

Let's Make Christmas Fortnum & Mason Gift Swap

I cannot believe tomorrow is the day for the Let's Make Christmas Gift Swap at Fortnum & Mason - organised by Vanessa Kimbell (  I've been so looking forward to it and been dithering about what to make.  I finally made a decision and here it is WHITE CHRISTMAS MUD CAKES.

Oh dear - not a very good photograph !

Of course, the main reason for the indecision is the added problem of transporting the gift on the train - not quite the same as serving up cake or cakes at home.  So the cakes I finally decided on look nothing like they do in the recipe book, which is a Marks & Spencer recipe book called Christmas, in the book the cakes are baked in pudding moulds and turned out before having a topping which is cone shaped.  Not the best thing for transporting, so I had to make some changes.  First I made the cakes in silver cupcake cases and the topping I piled on top and left it to set before a dusting of icing sugar and edible glitter. 

Here's how they were made:

125g butter, chopped coarsely
125g white eating chocolate chopped coarsely
150g caster sugar
160ml milk
105g plain flour
35g self raising flour
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 160C/140C fan assisted.  Fill a 12 bun muffin tin with paper cases or grease eight 180ml pudding moulds.

Stir butter, chocolate, caster sugar and milk in medium saucepan over low heat until smooth.  Transfer to medium bowl, cool for 10 minutes.  Whisk in sifted flours, then eggs. Spoon cake mixture into cake cases or moulds (if in moulds place on oven tray).

Bake cakes for about 30 minutes.  If baking in moulds turn the hot cakes upside down (still in mould) onto baking parchment-lined tray; stand overnight.  Otherwise place cakes in papercases on a rack to cool.

White Christmas Topping:

120g white eating chocolate chopped coarsely
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
30g rice crispies
100g marshmallows
35g coarsely chopped unsalted pistachios
35g coarsely chopped dried cranberries

Stir chocolate and oil in small saucepan over low heat until smooth.  Combine rice crispies, marshmallows, nuts and fruit in medium bowl, stir in melted chocolate mixture and pile on top of the cakes.

Place cakes in the fridge for at least ten minutes before dusting with icing sugar.

I made a few extra for taste test purposes you understand - they are rather yummy - even if I do say so myself.  I just hope the recipient of my gift thinks so too.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Quote, Quote, Quote ..............

There's no significance to the picture above, other than that we had afternoon tea there when we were in Cyprus last year!  I just felt that this post needed a picture of some kind to brighten it up.

So, I was looking through a pastry book when I came across some good tips -

"A Carpenter's rule is, Measure twice, cut once.  A pastry chef's rule is, Scale twice, make once."

"Pastry Chefs are always well organised, specific, reliable and calmer than cooks."

"Organisation, cleanliness, and planning are 50 percent of a successful recipe."

"Musicians have an adage that translates well to pastry chefs:  Amateurs play a piece until they get it right, while professionals play it until they can't get it wrong.  Discipline gives the pastry chef the willingness to practice until it is impossible to fail."

All the above quotes are by Jacques Torres, Dean of Pastry Arts, The French Culinary Institute.

I love a good quote for afternoon tea!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Easiest Cake in the World .........

Clementine Cake

This is so easy and quick to make I don't know why I don't make it more often - and having tasted it again after such a long time I'm thinking we can have another one next week but will cover it with a chocolate ganache.  Which then leads on to it being like a chocolate orange and just perfect for Christmas!  Oranges are a very christmassy fruit both for its scent and flavour and I think this would make a perfect cake for Christmas, as I said with a chocolate ganache and perhaps some frosted fruit on top for decoration.

Anyway, the ingredients are:

4 - 5 clementines (about 375g total weight)
6 eggs
225g sugar
250g ground almonds
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder

Put the clementines in a pan with cold water and bring to the boil - then simmer for 2 hours.  Drain and then cool.  Once cool cut in half and remove any pips.  Place the whole fruit - skin, pith, fruit into a food processor and blitz until it is pulped completely. 

Preheat your oven to 190C and butter and line a 21cm springform tin (I used a loose bottomed tin).

Now - at this point Nigella says not to use the processor for the remainder of ingredients, but I have to say I did put everything in the processor, one ingredient at a time, pulse, put in the next ingredient until it was all completely mixed and there were no pieces of clementine skin visible - apart from tiny little flecks.

Pour the batter-like mixture into your tin and bake for an hour. 

Nigella suggested covering with a piece of foil or greaseproof after about 40 minutes to stop the top from burning - I did this with some greaseproof but I don't think I did it soon enough - as you can see, the outside is slightly singed - although the taste is unaffected.

Once taken out of the oven leave to cool on a rack in its tin until the cake is cold.

I had a slice for breakfast yesterday morning!  I just couldn't resist and apart from the sugar - it's a healthy option (well, that's my excuse anyway).

It was lovely for afternoon tea yesterday after school - the girls ate it with a slice of cheese!  I don't know why, but they like it that way!

I think I might send this to Ren Behan for the Simple and in Season/Fabulicious Food! competition.

Oh, and just so that you know, this recipe was taken from Nigella Lawson's How To Eat.