8/20/2017

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake

My love of cinnamon is well known, so when I got given some apples, I decided to try a recipe given to me ages ago by an American friend. It's nothing special to look at, but tastes great - that's of course, if you like cinnamon! It's not overwhelming, as there's none in the cake only in the topping.

The recipe uses butter milk and oil. The amount of cinnamon sugar topping suggested for the cake was far too much, even for me, so I reduced it drastically, and there was still plenty.

225g light brown sugar, 75ml oil, 1 large egg, 225ml buttermilk, 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 350g plain flour, 180g chopped apples [weight after peeled - I used 3 eating apples]

Topping: 2 tbspn granulated sugar and 11/2 tspn cinnamon

Preheat oven 160C/gas3                  Grease and base line a 20cm round cake tin.

Put the brown sugar, oil, egg, buttermilk, bicarb, vanilla extract and flour in a big bowl and mis together well. Stir in the apples then spoon the batter in the tin.
Mix the granulated sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the top of the batter.
Bake for about 1 hour 10 mins. The recipe said 45 -55 mins, but although the topping was nice and crunchy, the cake wasn't cooked in the middle. Leave in the tin for 5 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack.




Sorry about the photos. My camera has died, so am trying to use my husband's 'posh' one!

It's a typical American cake in that it's very sweet. I served some as a dessert with crème fraîche, which counteracted some of the sweetness. Some friends had a slice with a cuppa and they didn't find it too sweet.
 You can see that there's plenty of sugar topping, but the recipe said 150g sugar and 3 tspn cinnamon!
It's a light crumb and a soft texture, and the crunchy topping makes a good contrast.


8/09/2017

Chocolate and Tonka Bean Muffins

I think I've mentioned before that I much prefer muffins to cupcakes - I find the icing on cupcakes just too much.

We have a lovely shop in town which sells a great range of herbs and spices, particularly difficult to find ones. In France I did a day's cookery course in a local restaurant, and one of the ingredients we used was Tonka beans. If you want to find out more about them:

http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/how-to-cook/how-to-cook-with-tonka-beans

I'd never heard of them, so was interested to taste their flavour. It's hard to describe - a bit similar to vanilla, but with fruity and spicy elements! You only use a little, as they can be harmful in large quantities, so it's claimed. I bought 3 beans from my local shop.

I'm explaining all this, because my lovely friend who owns the tea shop, gave me her recipe for chocolate muffins with Tonka bean.

The recipe!

200g sr flour, 1 tspn baking powder, 150g white chocolate, 12 small squares of dark chocolate, 1 Tonka bean, 100g caster sugar, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 2 eggs and 50ml milk. Icing sugar to dust tops [opt]

Preheat oven 180C                     grease a 12 hole muffin tin or use muffin paper cases

Break the white chocolate into pieces and melt over pan of simmering water. I usually use my microwave for melting chocolate, but have had a few disasters in it when melting white chocolate!
Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl then add the sugar and mix.
Add the beaten eggs, vanilla extract, milk and melted chocolate. Grate half of the Tonka bean into the batter using a small grater. Beat together.
Fill the holes in the muffin tin or the paper cases 3/4 full then press a square of dark chocolate down into the middle.
Bake for 20 and cool on a wire rack. Dust tops with icing sugar.


These were delicious. Lovely soft texture, melted chocolate in the middle, hint of the exotic bean. Very different flavour from my usual muffins. Will definitely make them again. Now I have to work out what to do with the half of the bean I didn't grate! More muffins?

8/01/2017

Upside Down Plum Cake

I bought a punnet of local grown red plums, and wanted to use them in a cake rather than my usual pie or crumble.
This is a nice easy recipe I was given by my French friend, and I often use it with different fruits.

250g red plums, 180g caster sugar, 130g soft butter, 100g sr flour, 4 eggs, icing sugar to sprinkle over top [opt]

Preheat oven 200C/gas6                           Grease a 20cm cake tin

Wash plums then cut in half and remove stones.
Separate the eggs and add the yolks to the sugar. Beat till white and fluffy.
Beat in the butter then fold in the flour.
Whisk the egg whites till stiff then fold into the batter.
Line the base of the tin with the plums, cut side down, and cover with the batter.
After 20 mins, turn the oven down to 180C and bake for a further 20 mins.
When cool, turn out upside down and dust the top with icing sugar.



I like the cake mixture - it has a soft crumb and a light texture. It's a good contrast to the juicy plums. The cake makes a good dessert with some ice cream or cream. I sometimes use pears or apples instead of plums.

7/22/2017

Raspberry, Hazelnut and Pine Nut Tart

Have been having another sort out in my baking cupboard to find what needed using up. I found some pine nuts and ground hazelnuts, both very near their 'use by' date, so decided to use them in a tart. 
What would go well with them?  I always have some frozen raspberries ready to use, as they're one of my favourite fruits and thought these would work well with the nuts. For the filling I'd use creme fraîche instead of cream, not to make the tart too rich.

My loose-bottomed tart tin is 23cm. Preheat oven 200C/gas6

You need 300g of shortcrust pastry, bought or home made [ I added a little sugar to it].
Roll out the pastry to fit the greased tin, and put in the fridge.

Break 3 eggs into a bowl and add another yolk, 120g caster sugar and 60g ground hazelnuts. Whisk together , then add 100cl creme fraîche  and 1 tspn vanilla extract and mix together well.

Put 200g of raspberries on top of the pastry and pour over the egg mixture. Sprinkle 80g of pine nuts on top and bake for 35-40 mins till the top is golden. Leave the tart in the tin to get cold before removing.




I really liked the different textures in the tart - the pastry, the creamy filling, the soft tart raspberries and the crunch of the pine nuts. The flavours worked well together. A nice easy summer dessert.



7/15/2017

Litle Rhubarb Meringue Tartlets

I made these a while ago when there was rhubarb in my local market. As well as rhubarb and meringue, there's an almond cream in the tartlets.
I cheated and bought a block of short crust pastry, but of course you can make it yourself.

You need: 320g shortcrust pastry, 400g rhubarb and 80g caster sugar, 125g ground almonds, 80g butter, 125g caster sugar and 3eggs, 3 egg whites and 75g caster sugar.

Preheat oven 180C           You need a 12 hole bun or tartlet tin.

Peel and chop the rhubarb then cover it with the 80g caster sugar and leave for 1 hour.

Roll out the pastry and use a cutter to cut out circles to fit your tin. Line these with baking beans and bake for 10 mins; take the beans out and bake for a further 5 mins. Take tin out of the oven and let the tartlet cases cool.

Cream : beat the butter and 125g caster sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, then the ground almonds - beat the mixture well.

Turn the oven down to 120C.

Meringue: beat the egg whites into peaks; add half the sugar and beat in ,then fold in the rest.

Put some cream into the bottom of the pastry cases, add some rhubarb then top with some meringue - I piped mine on.

Bake again for 15 mins till golden.



Lovely mixture of textures - crunchy pastry, soft cream, tangy rhubarb, then the meringue.

Think I've said before that I don't bake just for me, but these were for friends I'd invited for tea. Made a nice change from scones and cakes.





7/03/2017

Peach Loaf Cake

Sometimes you just want a simple piece of cake with your cuppa, and this loaf cake is just what you need. I had a medium sized tin of peaches reaching its 'Use by' date, so decided to add them to a basic loaf cake mixture.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                      Grease a 900g loaf tin

Beat together 150g butter and 150g caster sugar. Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time.

Fold in 150g flour with 1 tspn baking powder.

Drain the syrup from the tin of peaches and cut them into dice. Add to the batter and stir in.

Spoon into cake tin and bake for about 40 mins.


This is my attempt and prettying up my photo of the cake! I kept back a couple of peach slices and added some flowers that were hanging round in the cupboard!
The cake was nice and moist, with a soft crumb. Good contrast between the soft cake and the fruit. I'll certainly make it again, but with a different fruit, such as pears or pineapple or raspberries. Maybe add a bit of spice. A good standby recipe.


6/25/2017

Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

I like brownies, and my friend gave me this recipe which is a bit different from your usual one. It has cream cheese added to the batter.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4               Grease and line a 18x24cm tin

Put 125g butter, 125g dark chocolate and 200g light brown sugar in a pan; stir over medium heat till melted. Take pan off the heat and beat in 3 eggs.
Add 50g sr flour, 50g cocoa and stir into the mixture.
Pour into the tin.
Beat 200g cream cheese [use full fat not low fat] with 50g icing sugar till smooth. Spoon into the batter then swirl with the tip of a knife to get a marbled effect.
Bake the brownies for 35-40 mins.


I liked these - you get the taste of the traditional brownie with the added texture of a cheesecake. They mix together well. Do I prefer it to the normal brownie - no, I don't think so, but it makes a change! I thought cooking them for so long would make them hard, but the crumb was moist.