Thursday 30 June 2011

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

When I was in my last few years at school Mum and I used to go to the cinema most Sundays. We would head to Paignton and have a short walk along the beach before ducking into the cinema complex on the waterfront. We never bought popcorn or drinks (mum would sneak in a bottle of water) but we did buy ice cream. We only ever bought one flavour: Häagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche in those pricey tiny tubs. You had to ask the confused teenager at the till for toffee ice cream. We were addicted.

So now I know how to make ice cream and how to make dulce de leche, the two had to be combined to recreate our favourite treat. This recipe is simple and recreated the ice cream I so fondly remember.

I served this ice cream at my birthday BBQ along with the rest of the strawberry frozen yogurt, a litre of David Lebovitz's chocolate ice cream (a new try for me - it's insane. So rich and smooth), my mum's tiramisu (recipe to come at some point soon) and a big bowl of macerated strawberries and raspberries. It was a great combination of indulgences.

The other sweet thing at my BBQ (though we didn't eat it till the next day) was my birthday cake. My lovely friends made it for me. There is something very special about a cake made for you with care and attention - which is why I always try to make sure everybody has one on their birthday. It's not about being fancy, it's about the thought behind it. I'll treasure the story of my friend Tom carefully tweezering the silver balls onto this cake because he wanted to get them just right. Baking can be such a wonderful gift.

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

375ml whole milk
185ml cream
300g + extra for swirling dulce de leche*

Heat the milk and cream in a large saucepan over medium heat until the mixture boils. Remove from the heat and whisk in the dulce de leche. Pour into a bowl set in an ice bath and leave to cool, stirring occasionally. Pour into a jug and refrigerate overnight. Churn according to  your manufacturers instructions. Layer some dulce into the bottom of your tub, add 1/3 of the ice cream, layer in more dulce, add the next and layer in etc. Freeze until firm.

* the recipe for making dulce is here, or you can buy it.

(Makes about 1 ltr)

Monday 27 June 2011

Strawberry Cream Layer Cake

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I made a cake on my birthday. It wasn't really my birthday cake (I am assured that my friends will be making me one for my birthday BBQ tomorrow, thereby breaking the current baker's curse situation) but it was the cake I ate on my birthday

My mum's friend Mary (of blueberry loaf cake with mint and lemon fame) also had some on the day and as a result decided to ask me to make one for her friend Susie's birthday. So I made it again this weekend and this time it really was a birthday cake.

Incoherant birthday rambling aside, this is a great summer cake. The featherlight sponges are split, brushed with vanilla syrup, soaked with some strawberry puree, smeared with softly whipped cream and finally topped with thinly sliced fresh strawberries. The icing on top is amazing (if I do say so myself) - marscarpone, a bit of icing sugar and some more lovely strawberry puree. The first time around I folded in some extra whipped cream but, as you can see from the photo above, it made it a bit too thin. Either way it's pale pink and utterly addictive.

So, birthday or not, I think you should make this cake soon.

Strawberry Cream Layer Cake
(sponge adapted from David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert, rest my own)

For the strawberry puree:
350g fresh ripe strawberries

Wash and dry the berries. Remove the stems and place into a food processor or blender. Blend until it is as smooth as possible. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl to remove the seeds. 

For the icing:
250g marscarpone
50g icing sugar
80g strawberry puree

Beat the marscarpone with a spoon in a medium sized bowl until smooth. Add the icing sugar and beat until combined. Add the strawberry puree in four batches, beating to combine between each addition. Put into the fridge to chill and set a bit while you make the sponges etc. 

For the sponges:
105g plain flour
40g cornflour
3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
4 eggs, separated
45ml cold water
160g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease and line two 7" tins (or 6" - I used these the first time). Sift the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt together three times. Place the yolks and water in bowl of a stand mixer and whip on high for 1 minute. Add the sugar and whip for 5 minutes - by then the mixture should be pale, fluffy and leave a trail when the whisk is lifted out that is visible for at least 5 seconds. Add the vanilla and whip for a few seconds to combine. Transfer the mixture to another bowl (unless you have two stand mixer bowls) and wash the bowl up, drying it carefully. Whip the egg whites in the mixer to stiff peaks.

Place the yolk mix bowl on a damp cloth to stop it moving. Sift 1/3 of the flour over the yolk mix, then fold it in carefully (see here for technique). Add and then fold in 1/3 of the egg whites. Repeat, folding 1/3 flour, 1/3 whites, 1/3 flour, 1/3 whites until they are all combined. Quickly and gently transfer the mixture to the two tins, level out and put in the oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes - a skewer should come out clean from the middle of the cake and it should spring back from a touch. Immediately slide a knife around the edge of each cake so that it shrinks evenly. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then remove to the rack and peel off the paper.

For the vanilla syrup:
75ml water
60g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla pod

While the sponges are baking, place the water and sugar into a small saucepan. Scrape the seeds out of the pod and add both the seeds and pod to the pan. Heat over a medium heat until the sugar has fully dissolved. Leave to steep until needed. 

To assemble:
100ml double cream
150g fresh strawberries
remaining strawberry puree

Whip the double cream until it holds soft peaks. Split the cool sponges into two with a serrated knife. Cut the strawberries into thin slices of about 1/2 cm. Cover the serving plate with four strips of baking parchment and then set one sponge circle on top. Brush 1/4 of the syrup over the sponge. Spoon over about 2-3 tbsp of strawberry puree, spreading it out as you go. Spread a 1/3 of the whipped cream over the top, leaving a small space around the edge. Arrange 1/3 of the strawberry slices over the cream in a single layer. Add the next sponge circle and press it down lightly. Repeat the syrup, puree, cream and strawberries for this circle and the next. Finally add the last layer and brush over the last 1/4 of the syrup. If you like, cut a wooden skewer to size and use as a dowel to keep everything in place. Use about 1/3 of the icing to create a crumb coat, concentrating on filling any gaps on the sides between layers. Chill for 30 minutes. Finally smooth over the rest of the icing and add any decoration - I piped whipped cream dots on the first, then wrote on the second with white chocolate.

This cake doesn't keep very well, as the strawberries and fresh whipped cream don't hold well (or the cake next to all that moisture) - so it's best to prepare it as near to the time you want to eat it as possible.

(Serves 10-12)

Friday 24 June 2011

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

Unbaked cheesecakes are so much fun to adapt. I probably have more original recipes for these than anything else (previous incarnations include chocolate, cherry, raspberry and caramel, lime...). As I made extra dulce de leche last week (original project coming soon, recipe for making dulce here) and I had some spare philadelphia and double cream in the fridge, I thought it was high time I made another. 

The eternal question of if gelatin is needed came into play again when I made this last night. In the end I didn't include any and the set wasn't really strong enough. After unmoulding, a photo shoot and a taxi ride it started to slide - I had to pop it in the freezer until serving, which meant it was part cheesecake, part ice cream. It was still delicious - I'm happy with the taste. I prefer to not use the gelatine but I think in this case it probably needs it. So I have included a small amount in the recipe below in brackets. You could leave it out if you're going to serve immediately. I'll make another one soon to test it out with the gelatine -  but I wanted to share it now, even if it is a work in progress. 

Edit: I've removed this recipe because I'm not happy with it and don't trust it to work for you - I hope to rework it one day.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Despite the drizzling dark grey weather, I have refused to give in. I will not start wearing tights or leggings again. It is summer and I will wear dresses with bare legs and I will eat ice cream. Or frozen yogurt (froyo for the abbreviation fiends among us). This stuff is delicious and really reminds me of my grandma's strawberry ice cream recipe (which I am determined to recreate this summer) - though hers was cream based. The strawberry flavour is really pronounced against the creamy and slightly tangy yogurt. And, of course, it's a fabulous colour.

PS. Don't do as I did and drizzle in a layer of leftover strawberry puree from another project. It crystallized into ice (duh, Emma)

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
(barely adapted from David Lebovitz's Perfect Scoop, also online here)

450g strawberries, hulled
130g caster sugar
240g full fat yogurt
2 tsp lemon juice

Chop the strawberries into slices and put in a bowl. Mix in the sugar and leave to macerate for an hour. Put into a blender/food processor and blend until smooth. Add the yogurt and lemon juice and blend until well combined. Sieve through a fine mesh to remove the seeds (optional). Pour into a jug and refrigerate for an hour. Churn in your ice cream maker as per manufacturers instructions.

(Makes about 1 ltr)

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls

I made these rolls when I went home just after my exams. Every time I'm home I usually head to mum's copy of Green & Black's Ultimate cookbook first. I should probably buy my own. I was craving something sweet but also yeasty and so this recipe jumped out as I flicked through. 

I love recipes with a history. The recipe writer writes that her Norwegian mother taught her how to make these rolls by sight, just as her mother had taught her. The recipe was this 'amazing family secret'. She goes on to say that the day her mother admitted that her daughter's rolls were better than hers was one of the proudest moments of her life as a pastry chef. 

These rolls have some serious stuff going on. The vanilla-flecked dough is silky to work with and then beautifully fluffy when baked. There is a lot of butter involved. And a lot of brown sugar. And a good sprinkling of dark chocolate. My kind of indulgence. 

Super Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls
(adapted from Green and Black's Ultimate)

For the dough:
225ml whole milk
40g unsalted butter
25g fresh yeast (or 2 1/2 tsp dried)
500g strong bread flour
120g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 vanilla pod

Heat the milk and butter over a low heat until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool until you can comfortably keep your finger in it. Crumble the fresh yeast into the milk mix, stir and leave for 10 minutes. (If you want to use dried yeast do not add it into the milk, but into the dry ingredients). Sift the flour into a mixing bowl then stir in the caster sugar and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the milk/yeast mixture, the egg and half the flour mixture with the beater. Slowly add the rest of the flour mixture. If it is still very sticky, add a tbsp more flour (I didn't need to). Swap the beater for the dough hook and knead for 4 minutes (or 6 minutes by hand). Wipe out the flour bowl, grease, and place the dough into the bottom. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to double in a warm place - about 2 hours. 

For the sauce:
25g unsalted butter
50g light brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

When the dough is nearly doubled, place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until the butter has melted and it's all combined. Grease the bottom of your tray (about 35 x 45 cm) and then spread the sauce over the bottom. 

For the filling:
150g light brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
115g unsalted butter at room temperature - soft enough to be spread
150g dark chocolate (70%)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and chop the chocolate finely. Take the doubled dough and punch it down. On a well floured surface roll it out into a rectangle of about 35 x 45 cm. Spread the soft butter over the surface, leaving a border around the edge. Evenly sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over the butter, followed by the chocolate bits. Start with the long edge and roll the dough up, tucking it in as you roll. Use a bread knife or other serrated knife to cut the roll into 2, then 4, then 8, then 16. Place the rolls onto the sauced tray with about a 1cm gap. Leave to rise again with a damp tea towel draped over the tray for about 45 minutes until they're puffy. Bake in the oven until the rolls are risen and golden brown - about 25 minutes for me.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before carefully turning out onto a big plate.

(Makes 16 rolls)

Three more enriched bread recipes:
Hot Cross Buns
Chelsea Buns
Cinnamon Cardamon Kringel Bread

Sunday 12 June 2011

Sour Cream Chocolate Bundt Cake

During the 11 days of my exam period, I had a craving for a dark yet light chocolate cake with a sour cream tang. The day before my last exam, I bought the ingredients for this cake so I could make it once I had finished. I had been dreaming about the day I would finally finish my degree for months. I felt as if the moment I was told to stop writing the sun would suddenly start shining and life would start again, beautiful, vibrant and exciting. I daydreamed about idyllic summer days with perfect friendships and relationships and lots of cake and laughter. 

Unfortunately, as something deep inside me suspected, finishing was not all I wanted. I sat in the examination room with my heart thumping loudly inside my chest, waiting for those last few minutes to tick away. Nothing changed when the clock hand hit 12:30. I had a nice afternoon but the elation never came. I was utterly exhausted. The next morning things started changing out of my control and my daydreams started to fade quickly from sight. Instead everything around me blazing into colour, I felt desaturated even further and stuck in a bleak landscape I didn't have the energy to escape.

Though my life is not how I imagined it to be a few weeks ago, I cannot say that I am not hopeful for the future. I am proud of myself for what I have achieved in finishing my degree. I have learnt valuable lessons in the past ten days. I believe in taking the best from a situation and that everything happens for a reason. As every day passes the exhaustion seeps away and I feel stronger. I have many exciting challenges and adventures to come and, I'm sure, many bright happy days. 

As it happens, I have had one part of my wish: lots of cake. Exactly a week after I had sat writing my last exam, I finally stood in my kitchen in Oxford making this cake. It's delicious and all I had hoped it might be. My 22nd birthday on Friday also had cake despite the sad notes that hung over the day. I'll post about my birthday cake and another treat I made while recovering in Switzerland soon. Posting should generally resume, as my life is slowly beginning to. 

Sour Cream Chocolate Bundt Cake
(cake adapted from Citrus and Candy, icing adapted from Joy the Baker)

For the cake:
3 eggs
240g sour cream
55g best quality cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
230g plain flour
150g caster sugar
100g soft brown sugar
1 and 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 175C. Grease the bundt tin well with butter. Lightly beat the eggs in a large jug then whisk the sour cream, cocoa and vanilla in until combined.  In a mixer whisk the flour, sugars, baking powder, bicarb and salt together until evenly distributed. Add the soft butter and half the cocoa mix and slowly whisk until nearly combined, then increase the speed until fully incorporated. Slowly add more of the cocoa mix from the jug until fully incorporated. Transfer the mixture to the bundt tin and tap it a few times on your worktop to flatten and evenly distribute the mixture. Bake for 40-50 minutes - it's ready when a skewer/tester can be removed cleanly from the centre of part of the ring. Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. 

For the icing:
35g chocolate
40g butter
75g icing sugar
35ml sour cream
15ml coffee
(1 tbsp milk)

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove the water from the pan then melt the butter in the pan. Slowly add the melted butter to the chocolate while whisking. Add the sour cream and sift half of the sugar over the top and then whisk to combine (I did the s.c. first without the sugar and it went a bit funny, so I recommend following Joy's instructions and doing them together). Add the rest of the sugar and whisk again. Finally add the coffee and whisk once more. If too stiff, add a tbsp of milk and whisk again. 

(Serves 12-14)

Sunday 5 June 2011

Mum's Carrot Cake

Though I finally finished my exams on Thursday I unfortunately haven't been able to get back into the kitchen yet. In the holidays I photographed my mum making her favourite carrot cake and so she's going to take over for this post and tell you about this delicious recipe. 

Also a big thank you for the kind words of good luck I've received from readers and friends over the past few weeks :)

I am privileged to be asked to be a guest poster for my daughter, Emma. Originally, I was going to do this during her exams but I have been too busy. You may notice that the photos were taken a while ago. So here it is. My brother, Tim, loves this cake so I have just made one with him so that he will be able to make it with his three boys.

Baking has been made so much simpler by having scales that will zero once you have put the bowl on. You can see mine in the back of the photo below. Emma gave me a tip that if you are measuring flour that needs sieving then put the sieve on the top of the bowl, zero the scales and then put in the correct weight of flour- so much simpler!

It is a very moist cake and keeps well. I keep it on the side for the first day or two and then put it in the fridge after that. I then take it out to warm up before eating it as it tastes better at room temperature.

It also freezes very well. I put single portions on a tray uncovered, freeze them and then when they are solid I put them in a bag. I take my treat out about 2 hours before I want to eat it.

I use my simple grater as it creates good sized lumps which show up in the cake, giving it colour and are also big enough to taste.

This one did sink but it still tasted wonderful!

Mum's Carrot Cake
(adapted from Ottolenghi's The Cookbook)

For the cake:
160g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
200g sunflower oil
270g caster sugar
50g walnuts, toasted and chopped
50g dessicated coconut, lightly toasted
135g carrot, roughly grated
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line a 20cm springform tin. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate, cinnamon and cloves together.  Lightly whisk the egg and egg yolk together in a small bowl. Weigh (note gram measurement) the sunflower oil and place it with the sugar in the bowl of a mixer. Beat on medium for about a minute. Turn down and slowly add the egg mixture until incorporated. Add the walnuts, coconut, carrot and dry ingredients into the bowl and gently mix until combined. Remove the mixture to another bowl. Wash and dry the mixer bowl. Put the egg whites and salt into the clean bowl and whip to stiff peaks. Fold the whites into the carrot mix one third at a time. Spoon into the prepared tin and level. Place into the oven and bake for an hour or until a skewer comes out of the centre dry (it usually takes about 1hr 15 for us). If the top of the cake starts to brown too much, cover with foil. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack then turn out.  

 For the icing:
175g cream cheese at room temperature
70g unsalted butter at room temperature
35g icing sugar
25g runny honey
30g walnuts, chopped and toasted

Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth and creamy. In the mixer beat the butter, sugar and honey until light and fluffy. Fold the cheese into the butter mixture. Spread over the cake then top with the walnuts.

(Serves 8-10)