Coffee Kahlua Crown Cake

The very wonderful Mary Berry has filmed a new series ‘Mary Berry Cooks’ which aired this week (Mondays 8.30pm, BBC2), and this week’s subject matter was Afternoon Tea.

This is a type of meal which is fairly close to my heart for obvious reasons and also a treat I like to indulge in, in celebration of life events. The idea that on a regular basis anyone needs 4 ‘meals’ a day is fairly ridiculous, but like the feasting we enjoy at Christmas, weddings and other high days and holidays, Afternoon Tea, preferably at a posh hotel and accompanied by a glass of Champagne to go with the tea and goodies really must sum up what we Brits do best to make you feel special. I had Tea at the Ritz as part of my Hen Party (a million years ago), and I had no problem convincing a whole bunch of female friends and relatives to munch through fabulous sandwiches, scones and cakes for an hour or two, despite the usually obsequious diets most of them generally adhered to.

Anyway, coming up with cake recipes and ideas these days is much like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, there’s not much left that hasn’t been tried already, however, reminding others of, perhaps forgotten, treats is the name of the game here.

IMG_1192This is, as the title of the post suggests, Coffee Kahlua Crown cake. Meringue on top of cakes is a bit of a favourite of mine from the aesthetic point of view and although I have offered up something similar before it was a bit of a half-baked (!) affair, this is far more sophisticated both in looks and flavour.

So essentially we have a coffee walnut sponge cake, 6 smallish meringues, butter icing and glace icing to decorate. Where to start; making the meringues perhaps.

Very straight forward really, the day before you plan on making the cake, you will need 3 medium egg whites and 150g caster sugar, you can add pinches of salt and vinegar and vanilla extract, but it’s not necessary, egg whites and sugar is enough!

So whisk the egg whites so that they form stiff peaks but the mixture hasn’t gone over and become ‘dry’. This is clear when you see it so whisk more circumspectly as you reach the stiff peak stage to see off this point. Then, turn the motor on the whisk down a bit and start adding dessert spoonfuls of sugar gradually allowing each spoonful to be fully incorporated before adding the next one. You are aiming for a stiff, glossy white state. It must hold it’s shape. You can colour the meringue if you wish at this point using colour pastes ideally, or not as the case may be.

Preheat the oven to 120°C/Fan 100°C and cover a couple of baking sheets with greaseproof paper. You can then either pipe the meringue using a nozzle like this → IMG_0756

or just use 2 teaspoons to create blobs, a bit bigger than a golf ball, spacing them with room to expand a little on the baking sheets. this amount of mixture will probably make about 12.

Bake for 1 – 1.5 hours until hard to touch and slightly browned. Leave the door of the oven ajar to let them cool.

They will store for a couple of weeks in an airtight tin.

Next the cake: a Mary Berry recipe if the truth be told (and she must be credited) with a minor tweak.

So you will need: the oven on to 180°C/Fan 160°C, grease and line the bases  of two 8″ sandwich tins.

The ingredients are as follows: 4 large eggs, 2 heaped teaspoons of instant coffee powder (use the fancier instant espresso as it’s more of a powder and less granular), 225g soft butter, 225g caster sugar, 225g self-raising flour, 2 level teaspoons of baking powder, 50g chopped walnuts.

It couldn’t be easier, crack the eggs into a jug and add the coffee powder and whisk together (yes really), weigh out all the other ingredients into a bowl and then add the egg/coffee mixture. Beat together until smooth. Divide between the two sandwich tins and level with a spoon. Bake for 25 minutes or so until a small sharp knife blade comes out clean and the cake is starting to come away from the edges. Leave to cool in the tins initially and them remove to a wire rack until cold.

To assemble: for the buttercream you will need 75g softened butter and 210g icing sugar, 1.5 tablespoon of milk and 1 tablespoon of Kalhua. Begin by beating the butter and sugar together, slowly initially to incorporate the sugar into the butter otherwise there will large sugar clouds everywhere. Then add the milk and Kahlua and turn up the mixer to beat quickly for 5 minutes. Stop half way through and scrape the sides down to ensure everything is mixed evenly.

IMG_1191Lay the bottom half of the cake on a plate or cake stand, level the top of this layer with a long sharp serrated knife if necessary and then, coat with 2/3rds of the buttercream. Layer the top half of the cake on top and check whether it appears level. Spread the remainder of the buttercream thinly over the top of the cake and place the meringues (probably around 6) on top of the buttercream.

As a final flourish pop two spoonfuls of icing sugar in a small bowl and add just enough Kahlua to give a thick runny consistency so you can drizzle. Using a teaspoon go ahead and drizzle this icing over the meringue and cake. Dust with a little cocoa powder if you like.

The crowning glory of an Afternoon tea.

Tarty Seville Orange Tart

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My Brother’s birthday is at the end of January and mine is at the beginning. As a rule two things happen in between: if we are going to have snow, that’s when it will arrive and it duly has and my parents (yes that’s right both of them) make their annual supply of marmalade.

Currently I am not involved in this operation although at some point fairly soon I am going to have to acquire the Knowledge in that traditional hand me down sense. My better half has managed to end up on the distribution list and so will be looking to me to pick up the mantle eventually as he gets through his stock, more or less single-handed, long before the annual boiling comes round again. I have to say I haven’t even attempted to make the stuff at all, despite being a dab hand at jam, but the presence of Seville oranges in farm shops and occasionally in supermarkets does leave me feeling a little left out.

I need a distraction; Nigella makes the most delicious Seville Orange ice-cream, see :Nigella.com/No Churn bitter Orange Ice-cream, for some reason I cannot link this today, I think it’s absolutely wonderful being a bit of a tarty fan.

I have come up with a tart however as lemon tart is a favourite of mine and this I suspect would be a first cousin after all…

The recipe is basically Mary Berry’s but as the generic tart seem to be essentially the same list of ingredients whose-ever you make and as I have altered the prime ingredient I shall claim this as my own to some degree.

You will need:

For the sweet short crust pastry: 110g cold Butter, diced, 200g Plain Flour, 2 tbsp Icing Sugar, 1 Egg Yolk, cold Water

Just whizz the flour and the butter in a food processor until you have fine breadcrumb consistency, stir in the icing sugar and add the egg yolk and drizzle in enough cold water to form a ball of dough by whizzing again. You can always rub in by hand and then mix in the egg yolk and water by hand with a knife instead. Once you have a ball of dough, lightly roll out and line a greased 8 or 9″ loose bottomed tart tin and trim. Pop the pastry case in the fridge for 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes in the freezer, meanwhile….

For the filling you will need: 2 large Eggs, 90g Caster Sugar, 150g Ground Almonds, 85ml of whipping or double Cream, 2 Seville Oranges, zest and juice.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and beat together well.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C, once the pastry is chilled, remove from the freezer, add greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake blind for 10 minutes followed by 5 minutes without the paper and beans. Pour in the filling and bake again for 30-35 minutes. If you only have an 8″ tart tin there will be left overs, individual tarts (like jam tarts) can be made with a muffin tin.

Optionally you can make a glazed topping, you will need: 1 Seville Orange, 150g Caster Sugar, 135ml water.

In a frying pan, add the water and the sugar and gently heat to dissolve the sugar and then allow to boil for 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile slice the oranges thinly, discarding the pips, and then add them to the syrup and boil gently for another 5 minutes. If you have time transfer the whole lot to a bowl and allow the slices to soak for an hour or two.

Once the tart has cooled a little, arrange the orange slices and pour on the syrup, you may need to heat up the syrup to allow it to pour. Otherwise if you don’t fancy the glazed topping just sprinkle with icing sugar. Yummy.

Pineapple and Clementine Warm Fruit Salad

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This dessert sums up Christmas Eve to me.

When I was a child we often assembled, after the trip to Church on Christmas Day, round at some good friends for drinks. This drinks party dragged on for hours and as a result my parents weren’t particularly in the right frame of mind, by the time we returned home, to start fiddling about with Christmas lunch. Consequently, we would have our turkey and trimmings on Christmas Eve for dinner and then have cold meat, delicious leftovers and salad etc. on Christmas Day followed by traditional Christmas pudding which was truly appreciated as we weren’t too stuffed. Dessert on Christmas Eve, after the turkey, would therefore be this warm fruit salad…..

This is delicious and a fantastic antidote to all the rich food. It tastes great with Christmas pudding if you have room, on its own, with mince pies, leftovers cold for breakfast….. the options go on and on.

You will need: 1 Pineapple, 6/8 Clementines, 3 tbsp light brown sugar, 25g unsalted butter, 1 tsp ground Ginger mixed with the sugar OR 1 tsp grated fresh Ginger OR 2 or 3 pieces of stem Ginger in syrup, finely sliced, a splash of White Rum (optional).

IMG_0572The trickiest part to this is digging out the pineapple chunks. So, with a large sharp knife cut down through the top leaves and the body of the pineapple so that you have two boaty halves. With the knife at a slant, cut a v shape section lengthways out of the middle to remove the woody core. Then cut a grid pattern lengthways and widthways almost through to the skin but not quite and with a spoon dig out the chunks you have created. You should then have a pile of chunks and 2 holders, essentially the skin and leaves of the pineapple. Reserve the holders to load the completed salad back into.

Peel the clementines and try to remove as much pith as possible. Find a large frying pan and over a low to moderate heat, melt the butter until foaming, add the pineapple, clementines, sugar and ginger and gently stir around until it is warmed through (5 minutes or so). Add the rum if using, you can flambé the fruit if you wish and then, having popped the pineapple holders in a suitable serving dish, load in all the fruit and juices.

Christmas in a pineapple cup… I hope you have a good one. x

Sorry about the picture, once we actually make this, I will update!

Mini Mincemeat Tarts

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Just before we get into mincemeat tarts, here is the result of the Decorate your own Christmas cake Workshop held last Friday. I had an intermediate group, so that’s students with some prior modelling/decorating experience. A Christmas wreath with sparkle -y roses and a festive robin.

Here are some of the gorgeous cakes produced by the students and the demonstration in progress…. As you can see there is always a unique element to each cake even if we are essentially producing the same thing.

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This design is fairly easy to achieve, sugarpaste can be bought from specialist cake shops in a variety of colours or purchased online and with the addition of a little Tylo powder, a food thickener, modelling paste can be produced. This is much easier to use when cutting out foliage such as holly and ivy as the paste is stiffer. Foliage plunge cutters are widely available.

Robins are very easy to produce: again using modelling paste form an egg shape and fashion a head and a tail. Add a red breast from a disc of red paste, eyes and  a beak and wings. Claws from black or brown complete the design. A robin would also look very good on a chocolate log.

IMG_0518So on with the mincemeat tarts. I am including a recipe for this as they are a Christmas staple, unfortunately widely overlooked as a culinary delight and easily relegated to shop bought status. However with a little bit of forethought, care and attention can provide a delicious dessert all on their own with a little cream or ice-cream and easy peasy to produce at a stressful time.

Firstly acquire some really good mincemeat (making your own is a bridge too far). Farm shops are very good for this or the best quality you can afford in the supermarket. The second trick is to have a go at making your own pastry. I know I know, the perceived wisdom is that making your own pastry is a waste of time but trust me, if you have food processor it takes seconds, and you get a MUCH better result. It also behaves itself a lot better too (much less shrinkage).

So the sweet shortcrust recipe: the one I use is Rachel Allen’s, but as these things are really a bit of a standard thing I’ll include the details here.

You will need for 6 tartlets: 110g cold butter, diced, 200g plain flour, 1 tbsp icing sugar, 1 egg yolk plus 1 egg beaten for glazing.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C. Grease your mini tart tins (loose bottomed for preference) with butter, pop the diced butter, sugar and flour in the food processor and whizz until you have coarse bread crumbs, add at least half the egg yolk and whizz again until it has more or less come together, then remove from the bowl to your work top and add a little more yolk if necessary and with a light touch bring together to form a smooth ball. Wrap in cling film and fridge for 30 minutes. Once chilled, roll the pastry between two pieces of cling film to a thickness of 3mm or so and using a large pastry cutter (size will depend on tart tin size) cut out at least 4 discs and press into the tart tins. Repeat the rolling out process with the remainder of the pastry to produce the last two discs giving you six in total. Freeze the pastry lined tins for 15 minutes. Then bake blind for 10-15 minutes, remove from the oven, brush with a little left over beaten egg yolk or beaten egg if necessary and return to the oven for 2 minutes max. From any remaining pastry cut out stars, brush with beaten egg and bake, on a greased baking sheet, for 5-10 minutes with the pastry cases until lightly browned.

These can then be held in this state for as long as you like, or frozen…..

When you are more or less ready to eat them, dollop 4 or 5 heaped tsps of mincemeat in each tart tin, top with a star and bake at the same temperature as before for 10 minutes or so. We are trying to get the suet in the mincemeat melted but not overcook the mincemeat so that it becomes browned and chewy. If they are frozen defrost them before you start.

Once out of the oven remove from the tins and sprinkle copious amounts of icing sugar over. Delicious.

I’m going to give my favourite Christmas dessert recipe in a few days, a warm fruit salad, perfect after a rich meal….see you then

Autumnal Crumble and other Berrilicious Delights

So our gorgeous new puppy, Kenya, has been the catalyst for a serious increase in countryside walks and spin-off benefits include a freezer-full of blackberries. There is also a lot more mud to deal with, particularly as it has been so wet, but  I suppose there has to be some sort of cost to foraging….

I shall start with a plum and blackberry crumble, which was inspired by Nigella Lawson’s new series Nigellissima, to which I have been glued, naturally, but Amaretti biscuits are only just available in some supermarkets, so I have come up with a store cupboard alternative.

Autumnal Crumble (serves 6)

You will need for the fruit base: 2 punnets of Plums, (these are currently on offer in Sainsburys, the firm round variety), a punnet of Blackberries or 150g or so, 3 tbsp Marsala Wine, 2 tbsp of soft brown sugar.

You will need for the crumble: 150g Plain or Self Raising Flour, 75g Butter, fridge cold, 75g Rolled Oats, 75g Brown Sugar, 75g Chopped Hazelnuts or Chopped Almonds, pretoasted or not is fine.

So I expect this hardly needs directions but here we go:

  • Wash the plums, halve, remove the stone and halve again, pop in a saucepan with the Marsala, sugar and 3 tbsp of water.
  • Cook over a gentle heat until the plums are tender and the sugar dissolved, about 5 – 10 minutes. You want to retain some bite to the fruit.
  • Pop these in an ovenproof dish minus the liquid and add the blackberries and mix in.
  • To make the crumble topping, rub the butter into the flour either by hand or using a mixer until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs and then stir in all the other ingredients.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C
  • Just before you wish to cook your crumble sprinkle the topping over the fruit and then bake for around 30 minutes until any juice is bubbling and the topping is browned.
  • The cooking liquor from the plums can be reduced over a moderate heat to create a delicious syrup.

Another favourite round here, Orange Berry Salad (serves 4)

You will need: 4 or 5 Oranges, thin-skinned for preference, 4 tbsp of Maple Syrup, 2 tbsp of Orange juice, a large handful or more of Blackberries and a sprinkling of Toasted Flaked Almonds, (you can buy toasted flaked almonds or toast your own, but they toast quickly so don’t leave them to their own devices for a second).

  • Peel the oranges with a sharp knife so that you remove the pith too, and slice to give wheel-like slices.
  • Arrange on a shallow serving dish of appropriate size.
  • In a small saucepan heat together the syrup and orange juice, and pour over the oranges.
  • Scatter over some blackberries and chill.
  • Just before serving sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds

Goes well with cake or tarts like frangipan, something slightly dry on its own.

If you do not have maple syrup, you can make a sugar syrup with 50g of sugar and 50ml of water, heat gently in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves and allow to boil gently for 2 minutes. To flavour, add a little honey or brandy! Cool a little and pour over the oranges.

Strawberry Glut Rain Delay Trifle

Ok, I promise this is the last of the strawberries and cream for a little while, but in my defense, Child 2’s strawberry patch has been extremely prolific despite the weather and we are ankle-deep in them. This doesn’t excuse the relentless presence of cream I know, but don’t be alarmed, I shall balance all this decadence out with some low-fat, low carb ideas very soon!

So whilst we were watching the tennis excitement on Sunday a rain delay struck, very helpfully, at the point where my better half and I felt we should really make a few dinner plans and have a cup of tea. The following dessert had vaguely been discussed over the weekend as Saturday morning’s charity bakeathon had left us with an orange sponge traybake to use up. My better half thought he might fancy his hand at a trifle recipe using the said sponge and the endless heaps of strawberries and so with a small amount of guidance from me produced this:

The kids, who are always reluctant to eat too much fruit, were charmed by this after a nervous start as there is no sherry involved and the strawberries seemed to maintain a low profile compared to the other components.

This is a fantastic way to use up left over cake. Quantities of cake, fruit, custard and cream are not critical at all and will depend on the number of mouths you have to feed or possibly how much left over cake you have.

You will need: some plain-ish Sponge Cake, Jam, Strawberries, Pimms, Lemonade, Custard either bought or homemade and Whipped Cream.

  • Begin by making up the Pimms, 1:2 Pimms to Lemonade so stronger than normal. 2 shots Pimms and 4 shots Lemonade should be enough for a regular quantity of trifle (4-6 servings). Pour the Pimms and Lemonade into a saucepan and heat until boiling and then simmer for a minute or two to boil off the alcohol. Allow to cool a little.
  • If your cake doesn’t already have jam in it, then make jam ‘sandwiches’ with it and then cut the sandwiches into fingers and arrange a generous layer in the bottom of your bowl, we used morello cherry jam but raspberry or strawberry would be fine too.
  • Pour the cooling Pimms mixture over the sponge and let that soak in whilst you wash and slice up some strawberries (around 200g). Add them as a layer over the cake.
  • Spoon on about 300-400ml of ready-made vanilla custard, for the size above, or make up some however you usually do having let it cool down to some degree before you spoon onto the strawberries. Cover with clingfilm at this point, to stop a skin forming if the custard is warm, and allow it reach room temperature then chill in the fridge.
  • Just before serving whip up about 300ml of whipping cream and spread over.
  • Decorate with whole strawberries or slices if you wish.
  • Yummy

For anyone who is wondering how the Turkish Delight turned out it is on my Facebook page. Click on the link on the side bar to have a look.

I have a cheeky request for anyone who is feeling charitable today. I need one more FB like for my Cutest Cakes Facebook page to receive stats info, so if you do go and see the Turkish Delight and have an account please could you consider ‘liking’ my account if you haven’t already. Also many thanks and to all the new follows here and the ‘likers’ over on FB that I have already.

I love you all.

Chocolate Ganache Icing for 4th of July Fun

So just a quick post today as I promised a chocolate icing recipe on The Cutest Cakes Facebook page about a week ago and the cupcakes above rather aptly seem to cover that base.

Dark chocolate buttercream is a curious thing, often becoming dry and difficult to pipe or spread; Ganache icing, on the other hand, is easier to work with if you bear in mind a few simple points.

The basic recipe is very simple: For 12 cupcakes, for the sake of argument, and using either dark or white chocolate you need anywhere between equal to twice as much chocolate to double cream. So 100g-200g of chocolate and 100ml of double cream. This will give enough ganache to spread onto the cakes. If you want to pipe on: 250-500g of chocolate to 250ml double cream.

The dark chocolate ganache will definitely hold it’s shape with equal quantities of both, the white chocolate ganache I would use more chocolate than cream to be on the safe side.

Break the chocolate into a bowl and add the cream. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and heat gently until all the chocolate is thoroughly melted and combined with the cream to give a thick, glossy mixture. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, whisking from time to time with a balloon whisk.

As with the chocolate fudge icing given here, you want a spreading consistency and depending on the amount you have made this can take anywhere between 1 and 3 hours to achieve. I know this seems like a long time but it is worth the wait!

Once the ganache is at that point, i.e. it more or less holds it’s shape and when you swirl it with a balloon whisk the mixture sticks to the whisk rather than trickles back into the bowl and requires you to tap the whisk on the side of the bowl in order to dislodge it, it is ready to use. Spread thickly onto cupcakes or pipe extravagantly and add toppings of your choice. It goes without saying that this icing can be used to coat a large cake too…..

Fridge any left overs and bear in mind this icing is heavily laced with cream so try to ice your cake/cakes fairly last minute.

From Alaska to The Black Forest via SW19

So my fascination with meringues continues and as I promised an easy chocolate cake recipe I have decided to combine the two. I know this looks a bit extreme, very ‘over the top’ but as you breakdown the components, just think gateaux not cake.

I saw the idea for combining cake and meringues in Annie Bell’s book Gorgeous Cakes, and admittedly, she had much smaller morsels of meringue adorning her’s so if you are deliberately making a batch to top a cake you might like to scale accordingly. Also the meringues can be used as art, so the above cake (more of an unfinished experiment) has the currently ubiquitous Union Jack/ Wimbledon theme echoing through it, whereas meringues which are a deeper pink and purple might make this cake seem more like a crown or feed into the Black Forest gateaux idea. Another scenerio might be to colour the meringues with caramel, either actual or food paste, and then drizzle chocolate over the top to give a more sophisticated look. The possibilities are endless!

I think this one would be called Death by Strawberries and Cream as the strawberry sauce drizzled across it gives a delightful grizzly sense of that….

So we have meringues as described in the previous post which you can find here and then:

You will need: 225ml of double cream, some strawberries (or fruit of your choice or not as the case may be), strawberry sauce (optional), reduced sugar Morello Cherry Jam and a Chocolate Cake.

The Easiest Chocolate Cake

This is my Mother’s recipe and is the cake that was baked typically for birthday parties when I was a child. I’m going to give the quantities in imperial as that is how the recipe comes, with an approximation of the grams etc.

6½ oz (187g) Self Raising Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

2 heaped tbsp Cocoa Powder (sifted)

2 large Eggs

5 oz (150g) Caster Sugar

¼ pint Milk (150ml)

2 tbsp Golden Syrup

5 oz (150g) Butter or Margarine, melted and allowed to cool a little

Preheat the oven to 300 °F/Gas 2/ 150°C/Fan 130°C. Grease sides and bases and then line the bases of 2 7″ sandwich pans, the non-loose bottomed, old fashioned type, and add about a tsp of flour to the bases. Turn the pans on their sides and tap the flour round the sides of the tins to coat, tip out any loose flour.

Combine all the ingredients and whisk to form a smooth batter with a balloon whisk or using a paddle attachment with a mixer.

Pour into the prepared tins.

Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack.

That is it! There is nothing to it. I love this recipe as it takes us back to an era, essentially post WW2, when eeking out ‘fancy’ ingredients was a necessity: 2 eggs, 2 tbsp of cocoa powder. This is not a rich chocolate-y cake but something of it’s time. My Mother’s generation can still seem nervous to bake a cake with four eggs in it. Sponge cakes, in particular, I’m often asked how I get to ‘look like that’,

‘Well for starters it’s got four eggs in it.’ The decadence of it!

‘Really, four eggs in this cake!’

Yet the Baby Boomers are the wealthiest sector of the population by far, own their own houses, foreign holidays all the time, pay the grandchildren’s school fees etc., but the post war rationing they grew up with still colours their baking view.

Anyway, once you have made the cake and meringues, it is an assembly job.

Reduce Sugar Morello Cherry Jam: great stuff, more like cherries set in jelly, not runny and not too sweet, a bit of a must with everything else that is going on. Widely available in supermarkets. If you need to, level the base layer of the cake just a touch using a large sharp knife, and use about ½ the jar of jam as filling. Then sit on the top layer. Whisk the double cream until stiff. You could use half cream half 0% fat greek yoghurt instead, or whipping cream, and spread over the top of the cake. Arrange your strawberries and meringues as you wish. Drizzle with strawberry sauce. This can be bought, or made using misshapen strawberries, a dessert spoon of sugar and the same of water. Heat in a saucepan over a moderate heat until you have a jammy mush, press through a sieve into a bowl to remove the seeds and heat again until thick and treacly. Allow to cool and drizzle with a spoon or if you can make a greaseproof piping bag, go that route.

Epic.

The fact that the cake itself is not too rich does help here, but this really is for those with a sweet tooth. Fridge any left overs due to the cream. It is still good with coffee the next day.

If you want just a basic chocolate cake use the chocolate fudge icing, method given here to fill and coat the top with the following quantities: 3 oz (75g) Icing Sugar sifted, 1 oz (25g) Cocoa Powder, sifted, 1½ oz (40g) Stork Margarine or Butter, 2 tbsp Water, 2 oz (50g) Caster Sugar.

N.B. Strawberries were courtesy of Child 2’s strawberry patch, thanks muchly gorgeous creature (despite the lack of front teeth) ♥.

A Fairly Patriotic (Eton) Mess: Meringues for Murray

Update: Murray won. And just for completeness on this sporting day; Italy are currently 2-0 up against Germany. Viva Italia!! Further Update: Victory for Italy – I don’t think anyone was expecting that.

As I was shopping with my BFF recently we wandered past a bakery selling the most amazing looking meringues. This most delicious looking batch of them was piled haphazardly and invitingly in the window. They were vast and in this case pink and so a germ of an idea started to form in my mind….

Wimbledon is in full swing and despite some improved performances from the British women, our main hope is Andy Murray as usual. As he is, in fact, Scottish I have developed the following based partly on Cranachan (an extremely yummy Scottish dessert) and Eton Mess.

For 12 Meringues you will need: 3 medium egg whites, 120g Caster Sugar, Food Colouring Paste or Liquid

Preheat the oven to 140°C/Fan 120°C. Line a baking sheet or two with greaseproof paper.

Into a clean grease free bowl place the egg whites and whisk at a fairly high-speed until the egg whites reach the soft peaked stage (as you drag the whisk out of the foamy whites, peaks form, the tops of which flop over).

Add a tbsp of the caster sugar and whisk that in well, again on a fairly high-speed. Add another tbsp of sugar and whisk well again. Continue until all the sugar is used up. You should have a lovely glossy stiff foam.

Add a small amount of food colouring and fold in until spread evenly throughout the mixture. Obviously colour to your satisfaction.

Spoon heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture onto the baking sheets leaving plenty of space in between each dollop and transfer to the oven. This quantity should provide 12 meringues. Immediately turn the temperature down to 120°C/Fan 100°C. Bake for 1 hour. Then turn the oven off and leave the door ajar until the meringues are cold.

They keep in an airtight tin for a week or two if you can resist them.

The Patriotic Mess: as you can see I decided to make both blue and pink meringues, but as far as the dessert went, I used the blue. Blue food as I have stated before is not very popular, however in this Olympic/Jubilee year there is a lot more blue food around. The blue is there, of course, due to the presence of the Scottish flag in the Union Jack, so this dessert is dedicated to Mr Murray and the match he’s playing this afternoon. I think it goes without saying that you can colour the meringues to your own tastes or not at all.

You will need for 4 servings: 150 ml Double Cream and 150g or ml of 0% Fat Greek Yoghurt, 4 Blue Meringues, 400g Raspberries, washed, 2 tbsp Whisky, 2 tbsp runny Honey, a sprinkling of toasted Porridge Oats or Granola!

In a bowl whip the double cream until stiff (use a balloon whisk). Fold the yoghurt, whisky and honey into the cream. Fold in the raspberries. Dollop single spoonfuls of the raspberry cream mixture into the serving bowls, crumble over the meringue, add another spoonful of the cream mixture and top with the toasted porridge oats or granola.

This really is good!

Meringues Part 2 involves the chocolate cake I promised….

Simple Soft Fruits

So we are deep into the soft fruits season and given the expense and uneven ripening of some (peaches, apricots, nectarines) at the point of purchase it can be very tricky to have enough of any one thing to convert into a delicious dessert. I also feel that for many of the summer fruits, red and blackcurrants aside, the least fuss the better. Washed and used as an accompaniment to other things seems the best way forward.

A couple of ideas: pancake pouches with soft fruits, and the old favourite, a vintage sponge. Of course, the ever-present strawberries and raspberries below can be replaced with sliced peaches, nectarines and whole cherries if you have them.

Pancake pouches

I first saw these on Pinterest just as an image and the pouches looked perfect. I can’t imagine how the author/baker managed to get the batter to form little cauldrons into which the fruits can be spooned, but the version we ended up with went down a storm with the kids and can definitely be served up at breakfast as a low faff option or as a pudding with ice-cream as well as fruit. The origins appear to be mini German or Dutch Pancakes.

1 cup or 250ml milk
6 eggs
1 cup or 130g flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. orange zest (optional)
1/4 cup or 60g butter, melted

Sifted Icing Sugar for dusting

  1. Pouches with ice-cream and fruit

    Preheat oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C. Blend first six ingredients (milk to orange zest) in a blender.  Be careful to see that any flour clumps get well-blended.

  2. Blend in butter a little at a time in order to temper the eggs.
  3. Grease muffin tins very well with butter and distribute batter evenly between 18 holes, slightly less than half-full per hole.  Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until puffy and golden on top.
  4. Remove carefully from the oven and allow to fall back and cool down for a few minutes before carefully teasing away from the hole with a small palette knife or similar, arrange individually or together on a plate and dust liberally with icing sugar.

Borrowed from realmomkitchen.com. Bless them, although the recipe appears to be a traditional one.

These are really gorgeous in taste and this method allows one to make pancakes of a morning without the batch cooking. They basically behaved like Yorkshire puddings, for those Brits reading this, but do not cook long enough to set in the puffed up state have a lovely gooey texture too. Yummy. You might need to trial this a couple of times to get the pouch effect and just less than half full as opposed to just over half full in the bun holes seems to work better.

Vintage Cake with Soft Fruits

Just a reminder really that a simple sponge see Easy Peasy Vintage Sponge Cake with soft fruits and cream can create a wow factor like any beautifully iced cake and is far less fuss. Just one word of caution: don’t be tempted to substitute whipping cream for double, it can’t cope with the weight of the top tier so well.

And just for good measure food marriages with soft fruits include:

  • raspberries folded into whipped cream with a ¼-½ tsp of rose-water,
  • peaches cut in half, sprinkled with a little brown sugar and grilled, top with Greek yoghurt and chopped, toasted pistachios,
  • and strawberries with chocolate.

My Mother’s Easy Peasy chocolate cake recipe coming very soon.

Previous Older Entries

The Cutest Cakes: Classic Cakes

Lilies and Pearls

The Cutest Cakes: Cupcakes

Rosebud Vanilla Cupcake

The Cutest Cakes: Individual Iced Cakes

Miniature Fruit Cake

Details for The Cutest Cakes can be found at www.cutestcakes.co.uk or if you click the image on the side bar you will be transported there.