Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Mini Marble Cakes

Once I realise what I want to bake, I tend to become quite stubbornly specific about that idea. I have to hunt through the indexes of cookbooks, trying to see if they have the recipe I have in mind. Unsurprisingly, today I didn’t find a specific recipe for mini marble loaf cakes that I wanted. Guess I'll just have to write my own book one day! The inspiration came from a link I’d bookmarked, but on closer inspection that used 3 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks and I didn’t want the faff of using up the egg whites. Many of the marble cakes I saw seemed quite dry or difficult to downsize to my little batch. In the end, I heavily adapted a Mary Berry recipe (how can you go wrong?) and ended up with exactly what I’d wanted.mini cakesI’ve wanted to make a marble cake for a long time and it seemed the perfect way to use up odds and ends of chocolate. Using mini loaf pans made the marbling process a little bit more fiddly, but it was worth it in the end. The chocolate cake part is made using cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips, which means it isn’t too sweet against the light vanilla cake. The cakes are probably a little bit bigger than a cupcake (although some shop-bought cupcakes can be huge!) but seeing as they don’t have any icing they are not too rich and are the perfect teatime treat! I’d definitely like to experiment further with marble cakes when I have more ingredients in the house – a chocolate orange version, a coffee version, a version with dried fruit…so many ideas!mini cake

Mini Marble Cakes, adapted from a Marble Traybake recipe from Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book

Ingredients: 110g butter
110g caster sugar
140g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1tbsp cocoa powder
1tbsp hot water
50g dark chocolate, chopped
50g white chocolate, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180’C. Line 6 mini loaf tins with a strip of greaseproof paper.

2. Put the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs and milk in a food processor and beat until everything is well blended together.

3. Measure out half the cake mixture into another bowl. Add the vanilla essence and white chocolate chunks to the remaining mix in the food processor and stir to incorporate.

4. Mix the cocoa powder and hot water to a paste in a small bowl, then add to the other half of cake mixture along with the dark chocolate chunks.

5. Place a small teaspoonful of vanilla mixture into the bottom of each loaf tin, with a spoonful of chocolate mixture next to it. Layer up the two mixes in the tins, with alternating mixes on top of each other. Briefly marble with a thin cake skewer.

6. Bake for around 15-20minutes, until risen and set in the centre. Leave to cool before running round the edges of each tin with a knife and turning out.

Friday, 13 April 2012

White Chocolate Crème Brûlée with Passion fruit

I had quite a lot of inspiration to make this crème brûlée. Firstly, an article in the Times for a similar recipe which had passion fruit infused in it but no eggs – it was a simple ganache style recipe. Secondly, a random abundance of cream in my fridge that needed using up. Thirdly, it is my sister’s 20th birthday today and she loves white chocolate. As part of her birthday present I made her a book of 20 white chocolate recipes – truffles, cheesecake, tart, cake, mousse – every bake you can think of! A white chocolate crème brûlée was recipe number 16 and so I decided to combine the flavours of this brûlée with the Times passion fruit ideas. creme bruleeI’d never tried making a crème brûlée before but it is a dish I have often ordered at restaurants and enjoyed. I was apprehensive about doing it – visions of cream and eggs turning into a scrambled mess, slight concerns about setting the kitchen on fire with  a blowtorch – but it was actually easier than I thought. In this version, the white chocolate adds extra rich and creaminess to the custard that always contrasts so well with the dark caramel crunch of the topping. The tropical passion fruit works really well in cutting through the richness, preventing the dish becoming sickly and making it fresh. In a lot of white chocolate recipes the specific chocolate flavour gets lost, but happily in this recipe it is clearly distinguishable despite the actually rather small amount involved.white chocolate (2)White Chocolate Crème Brûlée with Passion fruit, adapted from a BBC recipe
Ingredients: 284ml double cream
50g white chocolate, broken into pieces
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp caster sugar , plus extra for topping
4 passion fruit

  1. Preheat the oven to 160'C/140'C fan. Heat the cream, chocolate and vanilla bean paste in a saucepan until the chocolate has melted. Take off the heat and allow to infuse and cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale, around 5 minutes. Pour in the chocolate cream. Strain into a jug and pour into 4-5 ramekins.
  3. Place in a roasting tray and pour boiling water halfway up the sides. Bake for 20-25 minutes until just set with a still wobbly centre. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hrs.
  4. To serve, sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar on top of each brûlées and caramelise with a blowtorch or briefly under a hot grill. Leave caramel to harden and cool for a few seconds. Halve the passion fruit and scoop the pulp of one onto the top of each crème brûlée, then serve.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Bars

My ‘Recipes To Make’ file of bookmarked links in my Favourites is getting a little out of control. 153 recipes, just in the ‘Sweet’ section – so not including a a ‘Savoury’ section or a notebook full of bits cut out from papers and magazines. Considering I bake roughly once a week, it would take me around 3 years to complete everything! Just reading the list makes me hungry. Peach Shortbread anyone? Lemon Rhubarb Bundt Cake? Blackberry Cream Cheese Pie?Almond Chocolate Tart? And so much more goodness yet my bookmarked file gets forgotten. Not any more! The ‘Sweet’ section is organised alphabetically (get me) so one of the first recipes I see every time I add something was these Apple Cinnamon Bars. A revision break yesterday called for a quick bake and these fitted the bill nicely.DSC_0505Essentially, this recipe turned out to be simply apple cake cut into squares but it was still delicious and smelt unbelievably good whilst baking. It has a good combination of classic flavours to complement the apple – vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg which make it more interesting than. It’s good with custard or cream, hot or cold, even for breakfast – whenever! DSC_0522The recipe is quick and simple to make too, so these bars can be whipped up whenever you need some cake fast. The flavours may be quite autumnal, but England has just experienced some snow (it’s April! Snow? Really?) so I think that’s excusable. You can find the recipe here and as for my favourites: 1 down, 152 to go.