Sunday 27 July 2008

Sweet Taste of the Tropics

I was browsing through my favourite blogs and saw the recipe for this on Rosie's blog. It is a Delia Smith recipe. I always find Delia's recipes very dependable and this looked so good I just had to make it. I loved the idea of mixing coconut with limes. The result was everything it promised to be. The sharpness of lime juice blending beautifully with the sweetness of the cake and icing. Rosie followed the recipe to the letter but that would not be me. The basic recipe is the same but I altered the amounts and did a different topping and filling but still used the lime juice as directed. Perfect I do urge you to try it. Rosie's looked wonderful. She is a great baker and has a lovely blog. Well worth a visit. Beautiful photos too.

2 oz (50 g) desiccated coconut
2 limes
6 oz (175 g) self-raising flour
6 oz (175 g) caster sugar
6 oz (175 g) soft margarine or butter
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 level tablespoons dried coconut milk powder
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder

For the icing: 3 limes
8 oz (225 g) icing sugar
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C).
You will also need two 8 inch (20 cm) sponge tins 1½ inches (4 cm) deep, the bases lined with silicone paper (parchment).

For the cake,
start off by grating the zest of the 2 limes on to a small saucer, then cover that with cling film and set on one side. Next, measure the desiccated coconut into a small bowl, then squeeze the juice of the limes and pour this over the coconut to allow it to soften and soak up the juice for an hour or so.
To make the cake, just take a large, roomy bowl and sift in the flour, lifting the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing. Then simply throw in all the other cake ingredients, including the lime zest and soaked coconut, and with an electric hand whisk, switched to high speed, whisk everything till thoroughly blended – about 2-3 minutes.
Now divide the mixture equally between the two prepared tins, smooth to level off the tops and bake on a middle shelf of the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the centres feel springy to the touch. ( I found 20 minutes was long enough so check then)
Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn them out on to a wire rack to cool completely, carefully peeling off the base papers. They must be completely cold before the icing goes on.

To make the icing, begin by removing the zest from the limes – this is best done with a zester as you need long, thin, curly strips that look pretty. Then, with your sharpest knife, remove all the outer pith, then carefully remove each segment (holding the limes over a bowl to catch any juice), sliding the knife in between the membrane so that you have the flesh of the segments only. This is much easier to do with limes than it is with other citrus fruits. Drop the segments into the bowl and squeeze the last drops of juice from the pith.

Now, sift the icing sugar in on top of the limes a little at a time, carefully folding it in with a tablespoon in order not to break up the lime segments too much.
When all the sugar is incorporated, allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes, then spread half of it on to the surface of one of the cakes and scatter with half the lime zest.
Place the other cake on top, spread the rest of the icing on top of that and scatter the rest of the zest over.
Then place the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up the icing before serving.

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection and Delia's Vegetarian Collection.


I was unable to find the dried coconut powder so added and extra tablespoon of dessicated coconut

I increased the amounts of flour sugar and butter each by 50gms/20z and used four eggs

I also made the cake by the creaming method as I think it gives a lighter result but this is up to you.

I made butter cream by creaming 175gms /6ozbutter with225gme/8oz icing sugar and added the lime zest and lime juice to this mixture.

I used two limes instead of three for the butter cream

I also added a rather magic ingredient called 'Pavlova magic which my lovely forum friend Gail sent me from Australia. She is a big time cake decorator so I listen to what she has to say.
It isn't necessary to add it you will still get a lovely tangy butter cream but this powder takes it another dimension altogether. I was amazed at the transformation. The butter cream metamorphosed into a lovely light pillowy marsmallowy consistency. Just lovely. You don't have to journey to Australia to buy this stuff. I found it available here.

Friday 25 July 2008

Chocolate Buttons Anyone?

I saw these recently and I could not resist making them. I was not keen on the cookie dough in the recipe. It was to be rolled out between sheets of baking parchment and a light bulb went off in my head saying sticky mess. I could do without that thank you, so I adapted my basic shortbread recipe. My dear forum friend Carlotta sent me some lovely flavoured drinking chocolate from Italy. It is wonderfully decadent and so chocolatey . This gave me a golden opportunity to use it in baking.

8oz/225gms butter
4oz/100gms caster sugar
10 oz/275gms plain flour
4oz/100gms cornflour
2teasps drinking chocolate dissolved in a tblsp of hot water
pinch of salt

Cream softened butter and sugar.
Add the chocolate paste and sifted flours and salt gradually and mix well
Turn out onto a floured worktop and knead lightly into a round
Roll out and cut into biscuits
Make a small indentation on each biscuit with a drinks bottle top.
Make four holes with a tooth pick
Bake at 350F /180.C /Gas 4 for about 15 -20mins
Place on a cooling rack and sprinkle with caster sugar while still warm.
Makes about 30 biscuits with a small cutter.

Tuesday 22 July 2008

Brown Version of the Softest Bread

A couple of months ago I waxed lyrical about white bread I made that was the softest loveliest loaf I had made. To see this just click on the link below. This is the brown version. It worked out so well I just had to share. For those of you who can't be bothered looking back, the recipe from The Italian Baker by Carol Field is Pane in Cassetta which is a sandwich loaf. It called for the loaf to be baked in a Pullman pan. This is a long pan with a sliding lid. I had never heard of a Pullman pan let alone know what it looked like. I improvised by placing one loaf tin on top of the other. The result was amazing. I decided I would like to try one of these Pullman pans and I searched. They are not easily obtained on this side of the pond. I managed to acquire one on Ebay (Is there anything you can't buy there?) The results were good but nowhere near as good as the method I used. I am still no closer as to the reason why. Some things I think are better just accepted.

600gms/1lb 6oz white bread flour
100gms/4oz bran
A handful of seeds to your liking such as sunflower pumpkin etc.
400mls/14fl.oz tepid water ( You may have to add a little more because of the bran. Do so little by little)
50gms/2oz lard melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teasps salt
One envelope or a teasp of fast action yeast.

Mix all the ingredients together and knead for ten minutes by hand/ five mins with a dough hook in the mixer/approx 1 minute in the food processor.
Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl covered with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size-about an hour.

Flatten the dough on a lightly floured work surface to expel the air bubbles.
Roll out to form a rectangle approx 9"x15"/23cmsx40cms.
Fold in thirds like a business letter then roll out and fold again.
Flatten the dough to fit into the buttered floured pan.
The strong and compact dough should fill the pan about half way
Place another pan of the same size, well buttered, on top.

Leave to rise in a warm place for approx 1/2 -1 hour covered with the other tin. It should rise to nearly the top of the tin
Bake in a pre-heated oven 200.C/400.F/Gas 6 for an hour.
Gently unmould onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Notes The pans I used measured 23.5 x1 9.3 x 6.99cms/9.25 x 5.25 x 2.75 inches
You can substitute oil instead of lard but this will make a difference to the texture.
Remember lard has half the saturated fat of butter.
I don't get on with wholemeal flour very well. I find it produces a loaf with a density I dislike. That is why I use white flour and add bran.

Rustic Beef and Potato Bake

This is a firm family favourite in our house and has been for many years. It is a cheat's dish but if you dislike using processed food you can of course make it from scratch. I have done it both ways. I have also modified the cheat's version slightly. Whatever way you choose to do it, trust me, it is a tasty and filling meal. If you have a busy schedule I suggest you make it the night before then all you have to do is pop it in the oven when you come home from work or wherever your day takes you. Such a relief when you know there is a tasty meal waiting for you and there is no effort. Just pour a glass of wine and relax while it heats.

This will serve 3-4 people. If you want more increase the amount of potatoes as there is plenty of meat and sauce to accommodate this.

450g/1lb minced beef (or lamb)
275g/10oz ready made cheese sauce ( I have used a can of condensed mushroom soup here with added grated cheese)
225g/80z spicy pasta sauce
1 teasp dried oregano
3 largish potatoes thinly sliced
1 onion finely chopped
1 clove of garlic smushed
100g/40z cheddar cheese or mozzarella (I use both)
Freshly milled black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 190.C/375.F/Gas 5
Grease a not too deep baking dish.

Fry the mince until brown draining off any excess fat.
Boil the potato slices for about five minutes then drain and allow to dry without the lid.
Whisk together the cheese sauce and the pasta sauce adding the oregano and garlic. If you are making this to put straight in the oven warm the sauce in a saucepan first stirring until it is smooth..

Layer and arrange the potato slices in the dish.
Sprinkle over the chopped onion and give a good grinding of black pepper.
Spread the mince on top of the potato and onions.
Pour the sauce over the top.
Cover with greased foil and cook in the oven for 40-50 minutes.
Sprinkle over the cheese (cheddar first and then mozzarella if using both)
Return to the oven and bake uncovered for a further 10 minutes or until the cheese melts.

If you have left overs they are very nice re-heated the next day.

Friday 18 July 2008

Pi's Pork Stroganoff with Three Mustards

Pi is an Administrator on a Forum I frequent. She is a great cook and has a lovely blog. I have used quite a lot of her recipes and all with great success. Do take time to visit.
This particular recipe is a real keeper. The flavours are wonderful and a nice change from Beef Stroganoff. The last time I made it I used pork pieces and slow cooked them in white wine then did the business and it worked a treat.
I served it with plain boiled rice and a salad on the side.
The quantities given serve 2

350g pork fillet
110g small open-cap mushrooms
1 tsp mustard powder
1 heaped tsp grain mustard
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
200ml crème fraîche
2 tsp groundnut oil
10g butter1 small onion,
peeled, halved and thinly sliced
75ml dry white wine
salt and freshly milled black pepper

Firstly trim any fat off the fillet and then cut it into fine strips at most 1/2cm wide and approximately 7-8cm long. What I do is, using a very sharp knife and working along the length of the fillet, carefully cut it into 1/2cm thick slices. Then taking one slice at a time, I pat it flat on the cutting board and cut it down the length into 1/2cm wide strips. Now just cut across the middle a couple of times to get strips 7-8cm long.

Prepare the mushrooms by slicing them through the stalk into thin slices. It is better not to wash the mushrooms, a careful cleaning with a soft brush to remove any dirt is sufficient.

Using a heavy-based frying pan about 23-25cm in diameter, heat the oil and butter together over a medium heat. Add the sliced onion and fry gently for a few minutes until soft. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Turn the heat under the pan to high and when it is really hot add the strips of pork and fry them quickly. Keep them on the move all the time so they cook evenly and don't burn.
Now add the mushrooms and toss them around to cook briefly until their juices start to run. After that, return the onion to the pan and stir in.
Season well with salt and pepper, then add the wine and let it bubble and reduce slightly before adding the crème fraîche mixed with the mustards.
Stir everything together and let the sauce reduce to half its original volume.
Serve immediately.

Thursday 17 July 2008

Lemon Pound Cake

I am a great pound cake fan. The making is simple and the results are always reliably good. When I want to make a cake but time or mood does not allow for a more complex recipe this is what I turn to. The comforting pleasure of mixing equal quantities of ingredients with the addition of simple flavourings and frostings safe in the knowledge that it will actually turn out beautifully is absolute therapy in the kitchen for me.
The pound cake originated several centuries ago in England from yeast leavened bread-like cakes. The name comes from the fact that the original pound cakes contained one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. No leaveners were used other than the air whipped into the batter. These cakes were rich and dense. By the mid 1800's pound cake recipes began to deviate slightly from the original formula to make a lighter cake. Some recipes even contained a liquid, such as alcohol or rose water. It wasn't until the 20th century that artificial leaveners (baking powder/soda) were added. Today, pound cakes use different proportions of the same ingredients as the original formula to produce a lighter cake.
This recipe is more of a quarter pound cake. I took it from Bill Granger's Everyday. Lovely and tangy. I am frequently asked for the recipe. A much loved cake.
I sometimes make it in a loaf tin or an eight inch square tin or as pictured two small tins and sandwich together.

Lemon Pound Cake

250g/9oz unsalted butter, softened
250g/9oz caster sugar
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
4 free-range eggs
250g/9oz self-raising flour, sifted
lemon butter icing

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Grease and line the base of a deep 20cm/8in square baking tin with baking paper.
3. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until pale and creamy. Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla extract.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just combined after each addition.
5. Fold in the sifted flour in two batches until well combined.
6. Spoon into the tin and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the middle of the cake comes out clean (you can cover the cake loosely with foil if it is browning too quickly).
7. Cool for ten minutes before removing from the tin and turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Ice with lemon butter icing.

Lemon Butter Icing

75G/3oz Unsalted butter
100G/4oz Icing Sugar
2 teasps finely grated lemon zest
2 teasps lemon juice

Beat the butter until soft and white.
Add lemon zest and juice
Gradually beat in sifted icing sugar
Spread over the cake

If making a sandwich cake you will need more of the buttercream

I add a good squeeze of lemon juice to the cake mixture too. Gives it more flavour I think.

I made this again yesterday but I was not in the mood for faffing about creaming etc. I bunged it all in the food processor and added a pinch of baking powder. It was so thick and feather light