Sunday, 25 May 2014

Strawberry Shortcakes/Passion Fruit Shortcakes

Based on a recipe from Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

I've made these once before about a year ago so felt it was a good choice to make as a birthday gift for a friend. I had to smuggle them into the club (yes, you heard me right), and they are better served warm, but they survived (just) and still tasted great.

I found some delicious Belgian strawberries at the bargain price of 20 SEK (~ £2) at the street stalls that are common in Stockholm and was sold a cake box from a local cake shop for 5 SEK so was feeling pretty smug. At the same time, I was also slightly indignant as the same shop had sold me two cake boxes of the same size two months earlier for 15 SEK each.

I had to go to The English Shop to get pastry cutters, and weirdly enough, couldn't find the required 6.5 cm size, so had to choose between a 6 cm ring or 7 cm. I opted for the smaller size in the end.

I was able to make a baker's dozen from the dough, and ahem, 'rounded it off' to a proper dozen, just for testing purposes, of course!

The strawberry sauce was lovely, and I would say that the optional balsamic vinegar is actually essential.

Strawberry ones

The whipped cream was a bit of a challenge as Swedish cream doesn't whip as easily as the English type, so I added a couple of teaspoons of vannilinsocker to help it along, which it did, although it was still too soupy for my liking. I would say that only half of the cream is needed; 125 ml rather than 250 ml.

I will be trying this again with the suggested alternative of passion fruit to strawberries for another friend's birthday as I know she loves the fruit (as do I!)
Keep your eyes peeled!

Nightmare to make! Doing double quantities wasn't a good plan!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Chocolate Cheesecake

After many years of looking longingly through the glass panels of my mind, I decided to break through and finally make My First Cheesecake.

I opted to do a chocolate version as a colleague is an expert at the more traditional NY cheesecake, and I didn't want to disappoint myself. I was swaying between Nigella's suggestions, and those from The Hummingbird Bakery book. I settled on basing this bake on the latter as I had the right size tin, and do not yet own a 20cm springform (that Nige's recipes require).

The mixture was fairly easy, both for the base and the cheesey mix. I was a bit concerned that when lowering the temperature of the melted chocolate with the cheese mixture, it turned a bit claggy, which reminded me of an awful encounter with corn flour when making custard. It righted itself in the end, and I even added a little flourish of a cup of milk & white chocolate chips in the batter. In retrospect, I think another half cup would have been better.

The Bain Marie, oh the Bain Marie! None of my roasting tins were big enough to sit the springform in, especially with the double layer of extra thick foil around it, so I used one of those trays that fit across the oven.

The water didn't go up to the recommended 2/3 of the tin, more like 1/2, but it didn't appear to hurt the cake (this is written pre-Cut). I baked it for 50 minutes, and despite the wobble I took it out.

So far, I'm pleased with the outcome... Maybe I'll research on how to lessen the bubbles...
Mixing by hand perhaps? Hopefully after refrigerating, the cake is *still* good!

So after the cut, I found the cake to be very soft... this was after around 12 hours in the fridge! It tasted amazing, though, so still very pleased with my first attempt!

The Cut

Monday, 5 May 2014

Gateau Breton

Based on a recipe from Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

According to Nigella, it is a cross between a pastry and a pound cake.

Very simple cake, surprisingly moist, but needs to be carefully watched. I felt it was overdone at 25 minutes but I wanted to follow the instructions exactly. Next time 20 minutes! It still tasted nice!

Before the bake...
I don't think it made any difference, but I used a 26 cm tin rather than a 25 cm. I felt that was a better option to a 23 cm.


Butterscotch Layer Cake

Recipe base from Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

I would like to say I followed the instructions exactly but right off the bat, I added too much water to the sugar for my caramel. First time excuse still valid??

I managed to rescue it somewhat, and the cake was a success. Moist, and not overly sweet. Obviously no oil painting, but it was gone in 15 minutes from the staff room, which I was pleased with.

Finished Article

The cut! The top was missing a piece as it stuck to the tin

Read about my second attempt here

Available at Samara's Baked Goods

Hummingbird Cake

Based on recipe from... You guessed it: The Hummingbird Bakery book.

A signature fruit cake that I would never have attempted, again because it is a layer cake (see Brooklyn Blackout Cake), and also because it has pineapple in it. Not my cup of tea... Or so I thought!

The batter was easy to create, and the bake was very simple. Again, being a reluctant cake decorator I unceremoniously slathered the cream cheese frosting on, and arranged some pecan nuts on the cake. It actually had its own charm. I'm hindsight, I should have probably levelled the cakes as the result was quite a tall assembly, but meh! I didn't want the scraps about.

The cake turned out to be lovely and light... Whilst it was mainly a banana and pecan cake, the cream cheese frosting made it reminiscent of carrot cake.

Definitely one to do again!

Available at Samara's Baked Goods

Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Based on the recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery book.

I was nervous about this cake, mainly because it's a layer cake - never attempted one before! - and also because it involves a custard; also never made one from scratch.

The instructions were very clear, the cakes and the custard came out well. My issue was with the assembly. The chilled custard was very stiff despite not chilling it for as long as advised, and I was worried it would destroy the cake as I was spreading it on. I wouldn't chill it again should I make it again (unlikely)!
I also couldn't get the crumbs on neatly so it looked very homemade... Not that I'm complaining, a polished finish on one of my cakes would be suspicious given my less than favourable views on icing.

'Finished' Product
Regarding the taste, I found the cake rather heavy and extremely chocolatey. One for the chocoholics, but not for me... I'm not a chocolate fan.

The 'Cut' - don't mind the speck, that was from another cake!