Lime and yoghurt cake

Lime and yoghurt cake
Lime and yoghurt cake

I’ve been planning on making a yoghurt-based cake for a while, and stumbled across Rachel Khoo’s pistachio and pomegranate cake recipe.

I’m a big fan of pistachios, but not their price tag so decided to substitute half for ground almonds instead. It still gave a hint of colour and flavour, so worked well.

I also wanted to add some lime to the cake to give it a bit more zing.

When making this cake, be prepared for the batter to be very thick and look like it’s never going to rise.

I can only say, trust me that this cake is incredibly moist and by no means heavy or dry.

The icing is an awesome addition, especially with the extra lime zest.

I definitely recommend giving this a go – perhaps in time for Mother’s Day??

Lime and yoghurt cake
Lime and yoghurt cake

Lime and yoghurt cake

150g caster sugar
50g ground almonds
50g ground pistachios
300g plain flour
150g vegetable oil
300g natural yoghurt
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lime

Yoghurt icing
250g icing sugar
50g natural icing
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
Zest of 1 lime

Whisk the caster sugar and oil in a stand-up mixer until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla extract. Stir in the yoghurt and the lime zest.

Sift in the flour and ground nuts, then gently fold together.

Pour into a greased cake tin 20cm springform tin – I used a chiffon cake tin.

Bake for 50 minutes at 160C, then remove from the pan and leave to fully cool.

Make the icing by combining the yoghurt and sifted icing sugar. Mix well and then pour over the cake. Sprinkle over pomegranate seeds and lime zest.

ANZAC DAY SPECIAL – best ever ANZAC biscuits

ANZAC biscuits
ANZAC biscuits

ANZAC Day, on 25th April, is one of the most important days of the year in Australia because it commemorates the Australia and New Zealand Army Corp who fought in WW1.

This year is extra special because it’s the 100 year anniversary of the landing on the shores of Gallipoli in Turkey.

There are many traditions observed on ANZAC Day including dawn services across the country and a National Ceremony.

And of course, there are ANZAC biscuits.

I lived overseas for seven years, and every year baked this recipe and shared with my colleagues in the UK.

It’s a very basic recipe, and not particularly unique as I was told several times – they are very similar to flapjacks or oatmeal cookies.

But according to ANZAC legend these biscuits – made of rolled oats, flour, butter, golden syrup, sugar and bi-carb soda – were not only sent to diggers in care packages. They also played a major role in fundraising efforts back at home.

This recipe is very old and from my mum’s Recipes for busy mothers by the Nursing Mother’s Association of Australia – first published in 1975, shortly before my sister was born.

Best ever ANZAC biscuits

1 cup rolled oats
½ cup self-raising flour
½ cup plain flour
¾ cup coconut
½ cup sugar
½ tsp bi-carb soda
2 tbsps boiling water
125g butter, melted
2 tbsps golden syrup

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Dissolve the bi-carb soda in the boiling water, then add to the melted butter and golden syrup.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Place teaspoonfuls of mixture onto a greased baking tray, then bake for 13-15 minutes at 160C.

Golden syrup sponge puddings

Golden syrup sponge puddings
Golden syrup sponge puddings

British puddings take some beating on a rainy day, and with not much time to bake today I decided to go for a golden syrup sponge.

This recipe can be swapped out using jam instead of golden syrup if you prefer that flavouring.

You’re essentially making a sponge batter, comprising butter, sugar, eggs and flour with a bit of lemon and ginger for extra flavour.

This is poured into moulds, either making individual serves or one big pudding, atop your flavouring which sits on the bottom to cook but seeps into the pudding when upended.

Golden syrup sponge puddings

125g butter, softened
125g light brown sugar
125g self-raising flour
2 medium sized eggs
Zest of half a lemon
½ tsp ground ginger
4 tbsp golden syrup
Extra butter for greasing

Pre-heat the oven at 180C.

Grease six individual dariole moulds with butter, then pour one tablespoon of syrup into each.

Make your sponge by creaming together the butter and sugar, before slowly adding the eggs, lemon zest, flour and ground ginger.

Pour into the moulds, on top of the syrup and then cover tightly with foil.

Place in a roasting tin and pour enough boiling water in to reach halfway up the side.

Cook for 25 minutes, then leave to sit for 5 minutes before up-ending onto a serving plate.

Chocolate fondants

Chocolate fondant
Chocolate fondant

For me, chocolate fondants are the ultimate dessert and what I’ll go for on a restaurant menu every time.

Rich, gooey and completely decadent these desserts look super impressive but are pretty straightforward to make once you have the hang of them.

I’ve been making fondants based on Felicity Cloake’s recipe (which in turn is based on Michel Roux’s recipe) for well over a year now and very rarely have had any mishaps.

Most of them have been recent, as I adjust to my new oven which seems to be too powerful at times and now powerful enough at others.

Taking things back a step, fondants, also known as chocolate lava cakes, are judged by their oozing centre.

There are two ways to achieve this:

  • Creating a cake-like batter and cooking it until it’s solid enough to hold its own weight, but still soft in the middle.
  • Creating a flavoured centre by freezing a block of fruit puree or salted caramel, then placing in the centre of your ramekin. It will cook more slowly than your surrounding cake batter resulting in a gooey centre. Donna Hay even adds a block of chocolate or spoonful of peanut butter in the middle of her batter to ensure the soft centre.

There are a few tricks when making a fondant, and the biggest one is knowing your oven really well. The fondants should have formed a crust on top and come away from the sides a bit. If you don’t have this after the estimated cooking time, trust your gut and return them to the oven for a couple of minutes.

The other tip is to prepare your mould well. Use a pastry brush to coat the inside of your mould with melted butter, then dust with cocoa powder.

And despite what Felicity says, it’s totally cheating to serve your fondant in the ramekin!!

Chocolate fondant - before

Chocolate fondants – makes 2

60g unsalted butter, cut into dice, plus extra to grease
1 tbsp cocoa powder
60g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
60g caster sugar
1 tbsp plain flour

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C if cooking immediately, and put a baking tray on the middle shelf. Butter the inside of 2 small ramekins or pudding moulds, and then put the cocoa in one and turn it to coat the inside, holding it over the second mould to catch any that escapes. Do the same with the other mould.
  2. Put the butter and chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water and stir occasionally until melted. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Vigorously whisk together the egg, yolk, sugar and a pinch of salt until pale and fluffy. Gently fold in the melted chocolate and butter, and then the flour. Spoon into the prepared moulds, stopping just shy of the top – at this point the mixture can be refrigerated until needed, or even frozen, as the puddings will not wait around once cooked.
  4. Put on to a hot baking tray and cook for 12 minutes (14 if from cold, 16 if frozen) until the tops are set and coming away from the sides of the moulds. Leave to rest for 30 seconds and then serve in the ramekins or turn out on to plates if you’re feeling confident – they’re great with clotted cream or plain ice cream.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY – Florentines

Florentines
Florentines

On impulse, I bought glacé cherries on a recent visit to Aldi, and haven’t known what to do with them.

And then I thought Florentines!

These lacy, light biscuits traditionally comprise nuts and cherries. Some recipes I’ve seen have replaced glacé cherries with sour dried cherries or cranberries but I wanted to go super kitsch.

I turned to Mary Berry for my recipe, but made a few changes based on personal taste and also what I had in my pantry.

Demerara sugar was replaced with caster and slivered almonds and chopped walnuts were my choice of nuts.

I also swapped out the golden syrup for 50% honey and 50% treacle for extra colour.

I wasn’t quite sure just how lacy the final product was supposed to be and am still not sure after much research – any ideas anyone?

Mine had a fair few holes, but luckily these were covered up by the dark chocolate

Oh my god, they were so delicious! I’m sure they’re not perfect, but they were crisp, rich with gems of cherry every now and then – like pimped up brandy snaps.

I actually think I prefer them without the chocolate – not sure if that is sacrilege???

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the traditional zigzag pattern on the back. I went to the trouble of tempering my chocolate which was supposed to mean it held the pattern but alas no.

I think it might be something to do with the temperature at the moment because the chocolate took about an hour to set.

I tried, but no cigar!

Florentines (adapted from Mary Berry recipe from BBC food)

50g butter
50g demerara sugar
25g treacle
25g honey
50g plain flour
25g glacé cherries, finely chopped
25g almonds, finely chopped
25g walnut pieces, finely chopped
200g plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line three baking trays with baking parchment or silicon sheets.
  2. Measure the butter, sugar and syrup into a small pan and heat gently until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and add the flour, chopped cranberries or cherries, candied peel and nuts to the pan. Stir well to mix.
  3. Make 18 florentines by spooning six teaspoonfuls of the mixture on to each of the prepared baking trays, leaving plenty of room for them to spread during cooking.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden-brown. Leave the florentines to cool before lifting onto a cooling rack using a palette knife (if the florentines have been baked on greased baking trays, then allow them to harden for a few moments only before lifting onto cooling racks to cool completely). If the florentines become too hard to remove, then pop them back into the oven for a few minutes to allow them to soften.
  5. Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, without letting the bowl touch the water. Temper the chocolate by breaking half of the chocolate into the bowl. Stir until the chocolate reaches a melting temperature of 53C/127F. Meanwhile, finely chop or grate the remaining chocolate.
  6. Carefully remove the bowl from the pan, add the rest of the chocolate and stir gently until the chocolate has cooled to 26C/79F.
  7. Spread a little melted chocolate over the flat base of each florentine and leave to cool slightly before marking a zigzag in the chocolate with a fork. Leave to set, chocolate side up on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

EASTER SPECIAL – Leftover bun and butter pudding

Leftover bun and butter pudding
Leftover bun and butter pudding

This is the last of my Easter-themed posts and what better way to finish up with a recipe using leftover hot cross buns?

This pudding is not going to win any beauty competitions (and neither is my photography), but trust me when I say it’s probably the best way to convert hot cross bun haters.

I mean, how can anyone hate sweet buns, topped with chocolate and held together with custard??

An extra bit of flavour is added in the form of booze – I used sherry but you can use brandy or cognac instead.

I also grated a bit of orange zest and threw a few broken bits of chocolate egg in there for added richness.

You can also add sultanas or dried apricots if you are using traditional hot cross buns.

Leftover bun and butter pudding

6 stale hot cross buns (mine were chocolate and cranberry)
Splash of dry sherry
Grated zest of 1 orange
Handful of broken chocolate eggs

Crème Anglaise

3 eggs
500ml pouring cream
500ml milk
1 vanilla pod
180g caster sugar

Make the crème Anglaise by heating the cream and milk in a saucepan to a gentle boil. Split the vanilla pod and leave in the mixture to infuse.

Beat together the eggs and sugar until pale, then pour over the milk/cream stirring constantly.

Remove the vanilla pod.

Cut the hot cross buns in half, and butter each side. Lay one layer out in a ceramic dish,  then pour over half the custard. Leave to sit for 10 minutes.

Lay a second layer on top, then pour over the rest of the custard so that it nearly reaches the top.

Add the sherry, orange zest and pieces of broken chocolate.

Place the ceramic dish into a large roasting tin and fill halfway with boiling water – creating a bain-marie.

Cook for 45 minutes at 170C or until the top has browned and the custard has started to set.

White chocolate mousse FAIL

White chocolate mousse
White chocolate mousse

I always promised to publish my failures as well as my triumphs and this one certainly falls into the former category.

The good thing is that I totally know where I went wrong, so at least can learn from my mistake.

Basically, I set out to make a white chocolate mousse based on Michel Roux’s recipe – his included kaffir lime, but I wanted to keep mine simple because I was dressing it with mini chocolate eggs as an Easter treat.

So, I started off and until the final moment everything was looking good.

I had my chocolate melted, my gelatine melted in hot milk, my eggs yolks mixed with liquid glucose and my cream whipped to ribbon stage.

So, one by one I added the ingredients until I got to the whipped cream where I wavered.

Surely you shouldn’t add whipped cream to a warm chocolate, egg and milk mix? Wouldn’t it melt the cream?

But I decided to ignore my gut and crack on as the recipe suggested – and of course, I watched as my whipped cream melted and the whole mixture ended up in a liquid form.

I poured it into serving glasses (where I barely got 3 portions as opposed to the suggested 4-6) and refrigerated for an hour.

I wanted to try to salvage one, so poured it onto a bowl and whipped it – unfortunately, it split the mousse so that obviously didn’t work.

They still tasted great, but were definitely more “pots de crème” than light and airy mousses.

The ironic thing is that I’m planning to make milk chocolate pots de crème in a couple of weeks!

White chocolate mousse

150g white chocolate (I used Lindt)
½ sheet leaf gelatine
50ml
1 ½ tsp liquid glucose
2 egg yolks
150ml whipping cream
30g icing sugar

Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water. Ensure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl.

Soak the gelatine in a shallow dish of water to soften for about 5 minutes.

Bring the milk to the boil in a small saucepan, then take off the heat. Drain the gelatine, squeezing out any excess water, then add to the milk.

In a separate bowl, mix the glucose, 1 tsp warm water and egg yolks together.

In yet another bowl, whip together the cream and sugar to a ribbon consistency.

Pour the milk over the melted chocolate and mix with a balloon whisk until smooth. Gently fold in the egg yolk mixture. Finally, using the spatula, carefully fold in the whipped cream.

Pour into 4-6 cups or little dishes, depending on size. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Note – as I learned, wait until the mix is completed cold before folding in the whipped cream!