Monday, December 29, 2014

Rachel Allen's Sticky Toffee Pudding and associated Toffee Sauce - Commentary!

I was going to put the recipe on this post but it appears to be listed rather a lot elsewhere! Here's one example - used simply because it is simple independent like me, making no money from the details!

But the important thing here is not the recipe - it's the commentary!

I made this for some friends yesterday and, as it is advertised, it is a sumptuous crowd pleaser that will satisfy both sweet and average tastes! It also goes particularly well with a Lustau (I don't like sherry but this is very different!), if you happen to have any lying around!

Unlike me, I followed the recipe to the letter / gram / measure but in hindsight, I would make a few changes. I wouldn't dare to say improvements for fear of upsetting Rachel, simply amendments that might enhance your pleasure of this recipe...

  • It serves 10 people eating a relatively balanced and average diet, not the 6 stated! To provide a little evidence, I baked it in a 100mm x 240mm (100mm deep) loaf tin. It filled the tin and cooked in the time stated perfectly. we each had a 6th and found ourselves needing to pause to rest our stomachs!  
  • Equally, the sauce serves 10 as well - actually, I have no idea because I have only tried to drown 6 servings with the quantity suggested. The measures help you to create around 1 litre of sauce. For 6, I think it is  a little too sweet! 
  • Use Earl Grey tea -  I am not sure if Jamie O stole it from Rachel A or vice-versa, but I think it works well. To be honest, I am not sure I could taste it but I did have a cold!. However, I would suggest that the slight lemony sweetness of Earl Grey cuts through the sweet stickiness of the pudding. 
  • Use a little more liquid (tea) or fat (butter) than stated. I added a little more than suggested but still thought it could benefit from some more. 
  • Add a little Baking Powder - if you are daring and think there is space in the tin / baking pan! - if you want it a little airier! - of course it then might serve more than 10!
I hear the little padding of feet upstairs and feel I should rescue my wife from our son!

Monday, July 07, 2014

Rhubarb and Streusel Bars

I can't take any credit for this other than the credit for passing on this amazing recipe and complementing it as a great way to use up rhubarb.

With more than our fair share of rhubarb there is always a crop ready to be cut and used. When faced with this along with a freezer that was already filled with pockets of frozen rhubarb (and other fruit!), I googled rhubarb cake recipe and found this. 

1.5 cups quick cooking rolled Oats (not sure why they need to be quick cooking but rolled is good!)
1 cup of all purpose Flour (I have no idea if this is Self Raising or not, i have used both and think Self Raising works better!)
3 / 4 cup of packed brown Sugar (I use soft brown sugar rather than dark but the latter would work I think!)
3 / 4 cup Butter
1 / 4 cup granulated Sugar
2 tablespoons of all purpose Flour (see comment above!)
1 / 2 teaspoon of Ground Ginger (I have used fresh ginger and it works. I used ground dried ginger last night and don't think that 1/2 teaspoon is enough, try twice this!)
2 cups of Rhubarb (The recipe says frozen unsweetened, I have used fresh, frozen and stewed and all seem to work!)


Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line 8x8x2-inch baking pan with heavy foil (I didn't realise you could get heavy foil, I use aluminium but guess it is all in the pronunciation?!) extended beyond pan edges (not sure why ?!).

In large bowl stir together oats, the 1 cup flour, and brown sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse (the coarser the better - I would say very coarse!) crumbs (add more butter if it feels dry, I am not sure how you manage to measure butter in cups so I have guessed and more is definitely better).

Set aside 1 cup oats mixture. Press remaining on bottom of prepared pan (works well to use the back of a spoon to smooth over!). Bake 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl stir together granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and ground ginger. Add rhubarb; toss to coat. Spread on hot crust. Sprinkle reserved oats mixture; press lightly.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until top is golden and filling is bubbly. Cool on rack.

Lift from pan; cut into bars. Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 2 days (don't quote me but it lasts longer than this if you can resist it. I think 2 weeks has been my record as we forgot about them!).

Borrowed from the following website:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Easy Deliciously Moist Chocolate Cake - with Yoghurt! - no salt! - only 40 minutes in the oven!

Yes, you heard it folks, this is a cake recipe that uses yoghurt! It is quite delicious and moves away from the deep fudge richness of most chocolate cakes (despite the amount of cocoa used!). It goes wonderfully with the decadent icing included in an early post!

275g caster sugar
175g soft tub margarine (I used half lurpac and half butter!)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
175g low fat natural yoghurt 
225g self-raising flour
50g cocoa
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Grease a 23cm spring form or loose bottom tin. Line the base with grease proof paper. Dust with a little flour. (OK so I also lined the sides and forgot to dust with flour - not sure it made any difference!

Beat the caster sugar and margarine in a bowl (I love that they tell you to do it in a bowl - not sure what I would have done without knowing that!) until smooth. 

Beat in the eggs (without the shells - I added this instruction given the one above I thought it might be important!), vanilla essence and yoghurt.

Sift in the flour, cocoa, and bicarbonate of soda.

Stir until fully combined.

Spoon mixture into a the greased tin and level the top.

Cook in preheated oven for at least 40 minutes and then a little more until a skewer comes out clean (hope you know what this means!).

Cool a little (5 minutes) before releasing from the tin!

NB I feel I must add the following post script notes for anyone like me:

1. 40 minutes in our oven wasn't enough! In fact it was the worst time to open the oven because the cake sank a little! I think 50 mins probably did the trick!

2. If you wanted this as a sandwich cake (with an icing middle) then you could divide the mixture between 2 sandwich tins. Alternatively you could use twice the mixture and make a very high chocolate cake!

3. The decadent icing I describe in a previous post makes enough to cover the huge cake version - i.e. twice the mixture noted above!

4. The recipe suggested 12 slices - Based on experience I would suggest 16 (at least!) although it might depend on the amount of decadent icing you use!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Decadent Chocolate Icing

think this comes from a Good Food Magazine or similar. It tastes good so I thought I would share! It says it is great for sponge or cupcakes!

335g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids
450g unsalted butter
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
475g icing sugar
2 eggs

Melt the chocolate and allow to cool slightly - for about as long as it takes to do the next steps before the chocolate is needed!

Place the butter, salt and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat with a mixer until very light and fluffy - about 4 minutes.

Add the icing sugar a little at a time whilst beating on a slow speed - watch out for the sugar clouds that appear every time you add more sugar! Beat for a further 4 minutes after all of the icing sugar has been added.

Add the eggs one at a time and beat some more. The mixture doesn't bruise easily so another 5 minutes should be plenty!

Add the melted chocolate and ... you guessed it, beat some more! Another 4 minutes should suffice!

Makes enough for the delicious chocolate cake in my next post!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Brenda's Mum's Carrot Cake

Well, I couldn't find anywhere else to put it so I thought I would put it here for safe keeping!

It is probably the best carrot cake in the world - moist, chunky, tasty, sweet and above all - comforting. Thanks Brenda, her mum and of course the chickens. The italicised items are my notes!

For the Icing - May need a little less for a tray bake?!
400g icing sugar
100g cream cheese
50g unsalted butter

For the Cake
2 eggs
200g soft brown sugar
150ml corn, sunflower or vegetable oil
200g grated carrot
50g walnut or pecan pieces, roughly chopped - Could use raisins or sultanas
75g diced pineapple, fresh or tinned, roughly chopped
50g desiccated coconut
200g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 150 C(300 F/Gas 2) Line a 21 cm (8 1/4 in tin with baking paper) - You can use a tray bake as an alternative - 20cm x 15cm (ish)!

The icing needs to be prepared in advance so that it can be chilled before spreading over the cake, so make this first.  Beat the cream cheese and butter together thoroughly - easiest with an electric whisk, but strong hand beating would also work.  Add the icing sugar to the mix in three equal batches, beating well between each addition. - This can get messy as icing sugar creates a great alternative to dry ice (theatre smoke) when beaten with an electric whisk - Put in the fridge to set.

In a large bowl, using an electric beater, whisk the the eggs at high speed until doubled in volume.  Add the sugar and continue beating until pale and fluffy. - Not sure mine went fluffy at this point, more creamy than fluffy! - With the whisk still on high speed, add the oil in a slow steady stream.  Keep beating until the mix holds the shape of any trail across the surface - Hold might be a little strong! Kinda like corn flour and water mix: holds then slowly then reforms!?.

Gently fold the carrot, walnut or pecan pieces - or sultanas / raisins if using them -, pineapple and coconut into the cake mixture with a metal spoon in a figure of eight technique.  Sift the flour into the bowl with the cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and fold them in gently too.

Transfer the mixture to the baking tin - again with care, so that the air you've taken care to whisk in isn't whacked out. - I love that description / instruction! - Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean when poked into the centre of the cake.  If the top of the cake seems to be browning too much before the centre is ready, balance a piece of baking paper or foil across the top of the tin and it will protect the cake from burning.

Leave the cake to cool for 10-15 mins before turning it out onto a wire rack.  When it is completely cold, slice the cake in half horizontally and spread a third of the cream cheese mixture over the bottom half - Of course if you used a tray bake then it would be unwise to cut in half! -.  Put the top back on and cover the whole cake with the remaining icing.