Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Football Crazy!

I think I am becoming addicted to shaped cakes - I spent years being too scared to to a shape other than round or square but now that I am 'brave' I find every opportunity to move away from traditional round or square. I made this cake using 2 x pyrex bowls which held a 9" mix - The cake looked really small though when they were stuck together. I also had to be really careful when trimming off the edges to keep the ball shape.

This was for my friend's brother's 21st who supports Newcastle (Black and White) I didn't want to put too much colour on the cake but wanted a few highlights.

Altogether - Fairly pleased with this one!

Report from the recipients...A lovely thank you card saying how pleased they were and how the cake tasted 'divine'! Bonus!

TWD - Caramel Topped Flan

Oh how disappointed was I last week to find that the recipe for the Tuesdays With Dorie group was Caramel Topped Flan - No matter how many times I read the ingredients/instructions/tried to bring myself to stare at the picture, I was never going to change the fact that it was a flan.

The problem?...I cannot abide the texture or consistency of flans or any custardy type dessert - I can still remember being sick after eating blancmange when I was about 4!

So what did I do...?
1. I went on holiday and tried not to feel too guilty about all those committed bakers who were baking flans even though it wasn't really their thing.
2. I tried to get a 'guest baker/blogger' to fulfil my duties as a TWD member but no luck - it seems either everyone hates flan or they were all on holiday with me!

Never mind..Next week is CHOCOLATE! Yippee!

In the meantime, for anyone that I haven't managed to put off - here is the recipe! Sorry no pics but I didn't think unopened packets of ingredients made for great shots!


For the Caramel
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
squirt of fresh lemon juice

For the Flan
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1-1/4 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a roasting pan or a 9-x-13-inch baking pan with a double thickness of paper towels. Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat.

Put a metal 8-x-2-inch round cake pan-not a nonstick one-in the oven to heat while you prepare the caramel.

To Make the Caramel: Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice together in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Put the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar becomes an amber-colored caramel, about 5 minutes-remove the pan from the heat at the first whiff of smoke.

Remove the cake pan from the oven and, working with oven mitts, pour the caramel into the pan and immediately tilt the pan to spread the caramel evenly over the bottom; set the pan aside.

To Make the Flan: Bring the cream and milk just to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a 2-quart glass measuring cup or in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for a minute or two, and then stir in the vanilla. Still whisking, drizzle in about one quarter of the hot liquid-this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the hot cream and milk. Using a large spoon, skim off the bubbles and foam that you worked up.

Put the caramel-lined cake pan in the roasting pan. Pour the custard into the cake pan and slide the setup into the oven. Very carefully pour enough hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. (Don’t worry if this sets the cake pan afloat.) Bake the flan for about 35 minutes, or until the top puffs a bit and is golden here and there. A knife inserted into the center of the flan should come out clean.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, transfer the cake pan to a cooking rack and run a knife between the flan and the sides of the pan to loosen it. Let the flan cool to room temperature on the rack, then loosely cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve, once more, run a knife between the flan and the pan. Choose a rimmed serving platter, place the platter over the cake pan, quickly flip the platter and pan over and remove the cake pan-the flan will shimmy out and the caramel sauce will coat the custard.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Viva Las Vegas!

I wasn't sure about this cake until I had finished it...This was an order for a 21st Las Vegas enthusiast. The recipient had never been to Las Vegas before but was having a Vegas themed party. The cake matched his invitations and the buildings on the side were supposed to match the skyline of Vegas. When I went to drop off and set up the cake the room was decorated in blues with loads of pics - including a massive poster of the birthday boy when he was about 2 with nothing but his shoes on!

The playing cards were painted which I should definately do more of...there is nothing more therapeutic!

Marathon Day!

What a day today has been...not only is it school holidays and I have had a 5 year old to entertain (who to be really honest was as good as gold and not a spot of trouble!) but I had 2 orders going out and my first ever deadline for the Tuesdays with Dorie group. AND I ACHEIVED IT ALL!

Not great pictures of today's cakes but I cannot do everything! The red and black cake is a Power Ranger cake for a 4 year old and the pink and yellow cake (which I lurve!) is for a 21 year old. The explosion cakes seem to be really popular at the minute - I try to do each one a tiny bit different.

I know I said that this week I would be baking Choc Orange Biscuits from Polly Put The Kettle On but the week ran away with me...I promise I will make amends!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

TWD - Brioche Raisin Snails

Oh there were sooo many times during the making of these that I was tempted to give up! When making the dough and it not pulling from the sides, when waiting for it to rise and it not really doing so, when rolling out a big mushy mess, when trying to cut the big mushy mess...but the end result?...Yummy!

Perhaps my snails don't look like everyone else's (and they certainly don't look like snails!) but they taste delicious.

There were lots of different stages to make before assembly but we had a really good laugh!

I do think the butter that I used was not really meant for baking even though it said it was on the packet - it kept separating away from the rest of the dough. The pastry cream was really easy to make and it behaved itself during the process. The raisins did not flambe even though I had moved everyone in the house 60 feet away from the stove! But I keep going back to the end taste...gorgeous! They are better slightly warm so I might be tempted to heat up in the mike.

Worth having a go but only if you have lots of spare time and don't live near a tesco that sells nice danishes!

Quite a lenghtly introduction into my first Tuesdays with Dorie experiment but I'll definately be back for more! Unfortunately, I am not doing next week's flan (i am trying to enlist a guest baker but she is having none of it!)

To make the Brioche Raisin Snails...
Brioche Raisin Snails

1 cup moist, plump raisins
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 recipe for Golden Brioche Loaves(page 48), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating overnight)
1/2 recipe Pastry Cream (page 448)

For The Optional Glaze
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
About 1 teaspoon water
Drop of pure vanilla extract

Getting Ready: Line one large or two smaller baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Put the raisins in a small saucepan, cover them with hot water and let them steep for about 4 minutes, until they are plumped. Drain the raisins, return them to the saucepan and, stirring constantly, warm them over low heat. When the raisins are very hot, pull the pan from the heat and pour over the rum. Standing back, ignite the rum. Stair until the flames go out, then cover and set aside. (The raisins and rum an be kept in a covered jar for up to 1 day.)
Mix the sugar and cinnamon together.
On a flour dusted surface, roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches wide and 16 inches long, with a short end toward you. Spread the pastry cream across the dough, leaving 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Scatter the raisins over the pastry cream and sprinkle the raisins and cream with the cinnamon sugar. Starting wit the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it up to 2 months; see Storing for further instructions. Or, if you do not want to make the full recipe, use as much of the dough as you’d like and freeze the remainder.)
With a chef’s knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends if they’re ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into rounds a scant 1 inch thick. Put the snails on the lined baking sheet(s), leaving some puff space between them.
Lightly cover the snails with wax paper and set the baking sheet(s) in a warm place until the snails have doubles in volume–they’ll be puffy and soft–about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Getting Ready To Bake: When the snails have almost fully risen, preheat the oven: depending on the number of baking sheets you have, either center a rack in the oven or position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the wax paper, and bake the snails for about 25 minutes (rotate the sheets if you’re using two, from top to bottom and front to back after 15 minutes), or until they are puffed and richly browned. Using a metal spatula, transfer the snails onto a cooling rack.

If You Want To Glaze The Snails: Put a piece of wax paper under the rack of warm rolls to act as a drip catcher. Put the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl, and stir in a teaspoon of water. Keep adding water drop by drop until you have an icing that falls from the tip of a spoon. Add the vanilla extract, then drizzle the icing over the hot snails.

Golden Brioche Loaves

2 packets active dry yeast
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 3/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

For The Glaze
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water

To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can– this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you’re doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you’ll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You’ll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.
Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)

Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To Make the Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.
Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.

Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.
Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk– this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.
Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are full incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold or, if you want to cool it quickly–as I always do–put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Better late than never - Ginger Sponge

Well, its a bit later than anticipated due to camera hitches but the cake was made and the verdict is in...Very easy to make (even when I have to interfere and change the recipe slightly), tasted ok to me but the rest of the family LOVED it!

The instructions said that opening the oven door and banging it shut again half way through would make it very gooey and sticky in the the middle - This didn't happen to me but then again I'm glad it didn't! The same instructions said that it was best eaten straightaway but I thought it improved over the course of 24 (ish) hours - It didn't last long enough to find out any longer.

To make:
2 cups S R Flour - I used 1/3 porridge oats for a bit of a bite which I think made it slightly more interesting
1 cup Caster Sugar
3oz butter
2 tsp ground ginger
2 Tbsp golden syrup or 1/2 and 1/2 treacle and syrup - I had no syrup so used all treacle and it turned out ok.
1 tsp bicarb soda dissolved in half a cup of boiling water
1 cup milk

1. Put all dry ingredients in a large bowl
2. Melt butter and syrup
3. Add to dry ingredients
4. Add dissolved bicard or soda followed by the milk
5. beat until a clear batter
6. Pour into greased and lined 9" round cake tin and bake for approx. 1 hour 350F or 180C

Now for this week's assignment...Chocolate and Orange Biscuits! Can't wait!

Monday, 3 March 2008

Week One: Polly Put The Kettle On!

I am championning a lovely book called 'Polly Put The Kettle On' by Polly Whitehead. This is fabulous mix of baking recipes all with a little story or background to where the author came across them. The author, Polly Whitehead lives near to a friend of mine in Huddersfield and has a lovely writing style which makes you want to start baking immediately! Each week I will try to make a different recipe from this book and will review-hopefully on a Tuesday. This week's recipe will be ginger sponge...Review to follow tomorrow...
I am a big fan of another blog called Tuesdays with Dorie where the members cook a recipe each week from Baking: From My house to yours by Dorie Greenspan - I intend on joining this group as soon as I can get hold of Dorie's book which also looks easily pleased I am!

Volkswagon Caravanette Cake

Well this is the first can only get more interesting from here! I have chosen for the first pic my last week's cake which happened to be my husbnad's 30th cake (Not all my cakes will be family's promise!) This was a sponge cake shaped to look like the van which will probably be the closest he ever gets to owning one! The sad thing about this cake is it won't even get eaten as he has decided to to cut into it but to display it in his shop - Not sure how I feel about that!

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