Thursday, August 12, 2010

gingerbread apple cake

More cake! This one was a bit of a gamble (why do I always gamble when feeding the masses, and not when I'm cooking an entire cake for myself at home?). I was feeling a little safer as the recipe came from Deb from Smitten Kitchen (as did the potato tart below). Deb's recipes are always fairly reliable, but in her photos the cake looked a little low and a little.... brown.

But ginger and apple cake sounds lovely so I went ahead with it anyway. And am I glad I did, this one was more popular than the vanilla chocolate cheesecake I'll be posting soon. Anything that can beat cheesecake must be good. I tried to keep this one warm, but I think it just ended up making it a little soft, as it steamed itself sitting side it's cosy in my office. But I was told the corner pieces, where the caramel base had leaked through and burnt a little, was the best bit. I recommend serving this warm and with a little pouring cream.

Gingerbread Apple Upside-Down Cake
Serves 12

60g butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
4 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges

Cake Batter
125gm butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup honey
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Very softly whipped cream

Make the topping: Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease a 10-inch cake pan. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, four minutes, then swirl in salt. Remove from heat and pour into the bottom of your cake pan. Make circles of overlapping apple slices on top of the caramel. Chop any remaining slices and place them in the gaps.

Make the batter: Using a mixer, blend 1/2 cup butter and the sugar on medium-low speed. Increase the speed to high and cream until light and fluffy.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, molasses, honey and buttermilk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Alternate mixing the flour and molasses mixtures into the butter mixture, adding the next once the last has been incorporated.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake at least 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a platter.

Serve warm or cool with very softly whipped cream.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

cheese and potato, could it be better?

Alas, again there is the burden of having only my recipes here, although hopefully this will change very, very soon. There will be four recipes coming your way, all care of some of my favourite bloggers, but to start with is a Blue Cheese and Red Potato Tart, care of Smitten Kitchen. I use Deb's recipes a lot. She's great, even if she does have a babyfood section.

I must say that I did change her recipe around. If you follow the link above, you'll find her recipe for no rest, no blind bake pastry. It didn't work for me, it was a horrible, crumbly, dry mess. What do I do in these situations? I turn to Stephanie Alexander of course, and the pastry recipe is hers. This made too much for this tart, but that's OK. I made jam tartlettes to get me through the long, cold weekend.

Stephanie Alexander's fabulous shortcrust pastry
180g unsalted butter (room temp)
240g plain flour
pinch salt
3 tbspn water

Chop the butter into smallish pieces and rub roughly into the flour on a clean workbench. Add the water into a well in the center of the dough, and as Stephanie puts it:

"use a pastry scraper - being mindful of the technique used to mix cement - to work dough into a very very rough mess of buttery lumps".

You will be tempted to add more water. Don't.

Use the ball of your palm to smear the dough out over the bench. It will come together to form a moist ball of pastry dough. Cling film, rest in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes and then blind bake for about 20 minutes.

For the filling, care of Deb from Smitten Kitten.

One note: This is not a quiche. The filling will remain soft and custard-like after baked, not firm up like most egg fillings. I liked this texture; it was a little different but wanted to give a heads-up that the recipe hasn’t gone wrong if your potatoes can still be nudged a little after baking.

1 Tart Shell
about four or five small red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 cup heavy cream
1 large egg yolk
125gm blue cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoons finely chopped herb of your choice, I used rosemary. Thyme would be nice too.
Fine sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180°C. In a medium saucepan, cover potato slices with water by two inches. Simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. If the potatoes don’t seem very dry, pat them dry with towels.

Arrange potato slices, overlapping slightly, in concentric circles around the tart pan. Sprinkle blue cheese over potatoes. Whisk cream and egg yolk together and pour into tart shell, then sprinkle tart with herbs of your choice and salt.

Bake tart on a baking sheet until bubbling and golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan on rack and serve warm or cold.

I re-heated this at work, which frankly made the pastry a wee bit soggy, but still, it all got eaten. Would make a lovely spring or early lunch with a big pile of salad

Saturday, May 1, 2010

cheesecake heaven

Yes, another post with one of my recipes. Actually this is one that I made for a significant birthday celebration in the office, not technically for the cake club. But I've missed a couple of club events either through meetings or three weeks of leave (woohoo), and frankly no one's given me any recipes to post, so again, c'est moi.

And again I have taken this recipe from Peabody at Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. And the reason for this - Peabody does great cake. And this raspberry ripple cake is one of the best cakes I have ever eaten, let alone cooked. Seriously. The base is a bit of a long drawn out affair, which then leaves you with a tonne of left over dough to cook. This threw me as I was planning on cooking after work and had not left enough time for dough to rest. But the resulting biscuits were very nice too. Although in a pinch I reckon you could do a basic biscuit base and it would be fine. Something nutty (maybe Butternut Snaps?). But this is the recipe as Peabody gives it.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Biscuit Crust
350gm unsalted butter
1 3/4 cup icing sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 cup corn flour
1 3/4 cups hazelnut meal1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

Using a standing mixer with a paddle, cream the butter and sugar until light, then add the egg and mix in well.
Sift the dry ingredients together and then add to the wet, combining well. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for approximately 4 hours.

This is enough dough for 8 cheesecakes, you can make biscuits out of what you don't use. Or another 7 cheesecakes. I'm not here to tell you how to live your life....

For the first (and any subsequent) cheesecake, line a 10 inch springform tin with parchment and press in enough dough to make a 0.5cm thick base and prick with a fork. Bake at 180C for about 10 minutes, and then cool, while you get on with the filling.

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Filling
1/3 cup raspberry jam
1.2kg cream cheese (oh my lord!)
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 tblsp flour
5 eggs (again, oh my lord!)
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups raspberries, pureed and strained

Preheat oven to 180C.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the cheese and sugar until soft. Add in eggs one at a time. Mix until incorporated and scrape down the bowl down occasionally.

Add flour and mix well. Stir in the vanilla.

Spread the raspberry jam over the cooled crust coming about a centimeter from the edge.

Pour in 1/3 of the cheesecake batter. Then drizzle half of the puree on top. Repeat with more cheesecake batter and then puree. Pour the last third of the batter on. With a thin knife marble the cheesecake.

Bake in a bain marie for approximately 2 hours before cooling to room temp and then chilling overnight.

I won't lie to you. This cake is not on the weight watchers plan. However it is so seriously good you won't mind being fat. I know I don't. I did nick this picture from Peabody too, as my camera was absent this day, but I hope to make this cake again soon, so maybe I can replace it.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

german plum crumble cake

Last last year Wallis, one of the archaeologists, won a job in another state. Research only. Much jealousy resulted, which for Wallis was probably almost as good as the job! On visiting her erstwhile, and now solo, former flat mate Dr Space Junk I had a choice of Wallis left overs. Yes - her field food. I came away with a tin of three bean mix, some stir through red pepper pasta sauce and a huge bottle of plums.

What the freak was I going to do with all of those plums? Simple - German plum crumble cake. There is one of German descent in our office who could give you the proper name. But it's 8.30 on a Sunday night, so German plum crumble cake is all I got. And I got the recipe from Marie from A Year From Oak Cottage. Here 'tis

120g butter
1/3 cup golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1 tblspn sour cream
1 pinch salt
grated zest of one lemon
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups plums, pitted and sliced into wedges (or half a bottle of plums, if you're me)

For the crumble (which I made the night before and kept in the fridge):
85gm butter
3/4 cup plain flour
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Lightly butter a 9 to 10 inch cake tin with a removeable bottom and set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, lemon zest, vanilla, sour cream and salt. Whisk the flour, baking powder together and then add it to the creamed mixture, mixing it in well. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

Liberally spread the plums over top of the batter. Or if they're out of a bottle and a little bit squishy, just mush em up and spread em out.

To make the topping whisk together the sugar, flour and spices. Rub in the butter until it is crumbly. Sprinkle it evenly over the plums.

Bake in the pre-heated oven on the middle rack for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, until the topping is nicely browned and the cake tests done. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 15 minutes, cooling on a wire rack, before removing the sides of the pan.

This was still warm when we ate it, which I think helped immeasurably.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

pick me, pick me

When I first started the cake club I didn't realise I would be the first cab off the ranks. Really. That would require me to be far too organised. I'd even lost the email with the list of dates on it and had to get it sent to me again.

Which makes it rather difficult in some ways, because now I have to decide what I'm going to post. Will I post everything that everyone brings? Or just one thing from everyone? And if it's one thing, do I pick it or does the cook? Lordy, had I know this was going to be such an ethical quagmire, I may not have started in the first place.

I have decided this time to post everything (but in two posts). Maybe I can let the individual decide (or I will just decide, deep down I am - after all - a brutal dictator).

Today I bring a sweet and a savoury.

Savoury is garlicy green pea crostini. These are a no brainer and come from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat. Simply roast a head of garlic (slice the top off the head, keeping the body intact, make a little tin foil cradle for it, drizzle generously with olive oil and roast in a moderate oven till the cloves are golden and gooey), cook some frozen peas and blend together with butter and freshly grated parmesan. I love these because of the colour. Normally I serve these as a combo with some mushrooms ones and some liverwurst ones, but due to the abnormal amount of cake, I only had time to do the pea ones.

Next is a Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake. This recipe comes from the divine Peabody of Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. Peabody certainly knows how to bake, and to eat, and if her blog is anything to go by beat up other people on the ice hockey rink. Go Peabody!

The recipe has many steps, but don't be fooled. It's pretty easy to do. It was easier for me as Dr Space Junk joined me for the cooking frenzy - and bought the pizza and helped with the dishes. Cheers DSJ! You can check out the whole recipe on Peabody's site, but this is my, probably shortened version. I have a reputation for shortening recipes, so be warned!

Cinnamon Roll Batter
2/3 cup caster sugar
120g unsalted butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cups plain flour
2 tspn baking powder
vanilla essence and salt

First preheat to 180 and grease a spring form tin
Then cream butter and sugar until creamy (3 minutes in a mixer with a paddle attachment. Far too long by hand).
Add egg, milk and vanilla and scrape down after mixing. The sift the flour, salt and baking powder in and mix on low speed until combined.

Then you need to get the sucker in the pan. Only use half, save the other half for later. To get it in the pan I doused my hands in vegetable oil and pushed it out until it evenly covered the base.

Cheescake Filling
450g soften cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 tblspn plain flour
3 eggs

In the mixer that you've just cleaned the bowl and paddle for, cream the softened cheese and sugar for 2 minutes on high speed. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down after each one (make sure the mixed in well and not just a semi-coagulated mess in amongst bits of cream cheese). Then add vanilla and sugar and when combined, pour on top of the cake base

Cinnamon Filling
mix 85g of melted butter with 1 cup of brown sugar and 3tspn ground cinnamon. when well combined, drop spoonfulls of this on to the cake mixture. Then get the rest of the cake batter and do likewise. Then use a knife to swirl them together.

Then get the sucker in the oven for 50-55 minutes. It will be luscious and golden and your whole house will smell like cinnamon rolls.

Bring it to room temp after taking it out of the oven before refrigerating for at least four hours.

Make an icing mix from 50gm cream cheese, 40gm butter, 1 cup icing sugar 1tblspn lemon juice and a little milk if needed. You can see from the pictures that Peabody is a much better icing dribbler than I. In my defence it all go swished about a bit in the car on the way to work.

So there you have it, the first in transit Cake Club post. My other offerings were German plum cake and Apple Kuchen. Very Teutonic I know. I'll put them up a day or two.

Friday, February 19, 2010

down the hatch

What did you call me? Oh, it's not me, it's the name of the cake - Tipsy Tart.

Sitting at home on a Friday night, after an extraordinarily long week at work I am cruising my favourite blogs, deciding what to take for my turn at the Cake Club next Wednesday (and having a few glasses of wine, as it happens). And I though it a good idea to have at least two recipes up from others before I added my own.

So it was back to painter-chick's list. For those who know me, it will be unsurprising that Tipsy Tart jumped off the list. A cross between a sticky-date-pudding and a big ol' tumbler of brandy.

Tipsy Tart

For the cake
60g butter
1 cu
p sugar
1 cup boiling water
pn bicarbonate soda
pitted dates
100g walnuts or pecans chopped
1 1/2 cups plain flour
tspn baking powder
pinch salt

Cream butter and sugar together and add beaten egg. Pour boiling water and bicarbonate of soda over dates and nuts.

Put mixture into flattish buttered pyrex dish, lamington pan or two separate tart dishes (about 22.5cm in diameter). Bake at 180 degrees for 30-40 minutes. (Watch for burning at the end.) Allow to cool a little. Prick well and pour hot brandy sauce over tart.

Brandy Sauce
1 1/2 c sugar
60ml brand
1 tspn vanilla
1 cup water
knob of butter

Boil ingredients together for five minutes until sugar has dissolved, and sauce has thickened slightly

The cake can be kept for a few days before serving - with whipped cream of course.

It should be noted that this recipe came from Janet in 1997. 1997!!!?? Blimey

Friday, February 12, 2010

the first slice

Like most work places, mine is one where some days a better than others. Some days, you tick things off lists. Some days the phone never rings and the only people who knock on your door want to take you out for coffee.

Then there are other days. Days when the piles of relentless bureaucracy pile so high that you fear they will teeter over, forever burying you under a mound of submission documents so immense that you will never emerge - entombed forever waiting for the archaeologist's trowel to uncover you years later. Who was this strange woman, and why the hell did she have so much paper?

Yes, I'm sure that you, too, work, or have worked, in such an unpredictable environment. And on days like that? You eat cake of course.

And now, I don't want imply that things in my workplace are so bad that we have to have regular scheduled sessions of whipped cream and puff pastry, but every other Wednesday is Cake Day. On a roster system we bring in 'cake'. Now I say 'cake', rather than just cake, because cake seems to mean cake, and some dips, and fruit, and a flan or a tart and then some little nibbly bits to go with them. The wise remember not to bring lunch on cake day, the forgetful suffer from bloated stomach. I've only been working in this office for a bit over a year, but the Cake Club has been a long standing tradition, and by all accounts has got more and more over the top as time has gone by.

So, in order to preserve these recipes for posterity, I have put together the Cake Club, to record our best kitchen artistry, and probably a little bit of gossip as well. Having sent out the email asking for past Cake Club favourites, the young lady who sits outside our boss' door was the first off the mark. I'm going to call her the painter-chick. I hope she understands why. Painter-chick sent me a raft of her past favourites. Today I've decided to post a chocolate pavlova

Chocolate Pavlova
6 egg whites
300g caster sugar
2 drops white vinegar
3 tblsnp cocoa powder
150gm dark chocolate, finely grated

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar a third at a time until it is well combined and then beat until mixture is smooth and satiny, adding the vinegar at the end. Fold in the cocoa powder and chocolate. Pile the mixture on a baking tray covered with baking parchment, creating a small well in the centre for the topping.

Place in 180 degree pre-heated oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 150 degrees. Bake for 90 minutes, then leave the over door ajar and allow the pavlova to cool in the oven.

When cool top with whipped cream and berries.

As I said, this is an old recipe, so I'm afraid this photo is not taken in our dreary little staff kitchen. I nicked it from Nora at Life's Smorgasboard. Thanks Nora! I'm not sure who supplied the recipe to painter-chick, but thanks to them to.

Quite coincidentally then next Cake Day is mine - in just over a week's time. Now that I've created this record, I had better come up with something good (and not forget the camera).