food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘cakes & desserts’ Category

chocolate cake

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This recipe for “always moist chocolate cake” was given to me by Darla many, many years ago and has been a favourite at many events since. It’s easy to make, lends itself to many variations and is always a hit. This one is topped with a chocolate, coffee and sour cream frosting.

Preheat your oven to 180ºC (375ºF). In a small saucepan combine 6 tablespoons of good cocoa powder, 1 cup of boiling water and 150g (5¼ oz) of butter and heat until the mixture is melted and glossy. Remove from the heat and place in a mixing bowl, the bowl of a stand mixer is ideal if you have one. Measure ½ a cup of milk and pour in 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice or cider vinegar and set aside to sour. To the mixing bowl add 2 cups of sugar and ¼ of a teaspoon of salt (don’t add this if your butter is salted) and mix to combine. Next add 2 cups of sifted flour and 1½ teaspoons of sifted baking soda and mix again. Now add the soured milk then 2 lightly beaten eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Beat the batter vigorously for at least 2 minutes. The resulting batter will be quite thin. Pour it into a greased cake pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin before turning out and allow the cake to cool completely before frosting. To make the frosting, melt 70g (2½ oz) of dark chocolate then add 60ml (2 fl oz) of sour cream, 30ml (1 fl oz) of strong coffee and 1 cup of pure icing sugar. Mix well until there are no lumps and adjust with extra sour cream if the mixture is too thick or extra icing sugar if too thin. 

Written by michelle picker

May 20, 2020 at 12:10 am

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roasted strawberry and yoghurt ice cream

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This ice cream is an adaptation of a recipe from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer. Roasting is an amazing way to bring out the flavour of the strawberries.

 

Preheat your oven to 180ºC (375ºF). Wash, hull and dry 450g (1 lb) of strawberries and slice them into 3 or 4 slices each. Mix them with ⅓ of a cup of sugar and spread them into a glass or ceramic baking dish. Roast for 8 minutes and then allow them to cool slightly. Purée the strawberries, adding 45ml (3 tablespoons) of lemon juice and set aside in the fridge. For the ice cream, measure 2 cups of milk and remove 2 tablespoons of the milk to make a slurry with 5 teaspoons of cornflour (cornstarch). Heat the remainder of the milk in a saucepan with 1¼ cups of heavy cream, ⅔ of a cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of light corn syrup. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour in the cornflour slurry. Stir, return to the heat and allow to thicken. In another bowl, whisk 3 tablespoons of softened cream cheese with ⅛ of a teaspoon of salt. Pour in the hot milk mixture and whisk until smooth. Add ½ a cup of the strawberry purée and ⅓ of a cup of yoghurt thinned with water to make ½ a cup and whisk again until smooth. Cool the ice cream mixture then churn in your preferred manner. Transfer to a container and freeze for at least 4 hours until firm. Serve the ice cream with some of the remaining strawberry purée.

Written by michelle picker

April 22, 2020 at 12:07 am

flourless lemon and poppy seed cake

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This wonderfully moist, flourless cake is a variation of Claudia Roden’s classic orange and almond cake. In this version I used lemons and poppy seeds, a classic combination. And with a glut of lemons, why not?

First boil 3 large or 4 small lemons until very soft. You can do this ahead of time and if you have a pressure cooker it will reduce the cooking time a lot. When cooled, cut the lemons open and remove any pips as well as the central pith. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and prepare a spring-form cake tin by greasing and lining with baking paper. In a food processor combine the lemons with 250g (8.8oz) of almond meal, ¾ of a cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 5 large eggs and some grated lemon zest and process until smooth. If the mixture is very wet, add a little more almond meal. Stir in some poppy seeds – the amount is flexible as long as they are visible throughout the mixture. Transfer the mixture into the cake tin and bake for up to an hour until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin and serve with double cream.

Written by michelle picker

April 1, 2020 at 12:06 am

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mojito tiramisu

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Tiramisu might be a misnomer for this dessert but as it’s made with some of the same ingredients and methods as a traditional tiramisu, I’m sticking with it. I’m also being a bit liberal with the mojito label as a mojito is generally made with lime and not lemon juice. It’s a great combination of flavours, though – lemon, white rum and mint.

Line a 22cm (9″) spring-form cake tin with baking parchment. To make the lemon curd, I opted for an adaptation of a sous vide method which worked excellently well. If you have a sous vide wand or machine, in a cryovac bag combine 3 whole large eggs, 4 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter, ½ a cup of sugar, ¼ of a cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of powdered gelatine. Stir and seal the bag and place in a 74ºC (165ºF) water bath for 45 minutes. When it’s cooked, remove to a blender and process until emulsified. Set aside. To make the mascarpone cream, beat 150ml (5 fl oz) of cream until soft peaks form. Combine with 600g (21 oz) of mascarpone cheese, the finely grated zest of 2 lemons and 60g (2 oz) of sugar. Combine well and set aside. In a shallow bowl mix 60ml of lemon juice, 60g (2 oz) of sugar and 40ml of white rum (this only gives a mild rum flavor and you may want to add more). Stir until the sugar has dissolved. To assemble, dip savoiardi biscuits (sponge finger biscuits) briefly into the lemon juice mixture and place in the bottom of the cake tin making sure not to leave too much space. Sprinkle a little more of the liquid over them before topping with half of the lemon curd and half of the mascarpone cream. Repeat these steps to make a second layer. Chill in the fridge overnight or as long as possible. When it came to serving, I left my tiramisu upside down as I thought it looked more interesting. To invert it, just turn it over onto a serving plate, peel off the paper and voilá. Top with fresh mint.

Written by michelle picker

March 4, 2020 at 12:16 am

walnut lemon and cardamom cake

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I spied this recipe in Moro The Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark. The focus of the cookbook is Spanish and Muslim Mediterranean food, or food of the Moors. They describe this cake perfectly – moist and a little crumbly. The cake is also gluten free as long as you use gluten free baking powder.

Preheat your oven to 160ºC (325ºF) and line a 23cm (9″) spring-form cake tin. Measure out 175g (6 oz) each of walnuts and blanched whole almonds. Crush them, either by hand or machine, until you have a mixture of small and very small pieces – some of it should be as fine as walnut or almond meal. Now beat 230g (8 oz) of butter and 230g (8 oz) of caster sugar until light and pale in colour. Stir in the crushed walnuts and almonds then add 3 large eggs, one at a time. Add 160g (5⅔ oz) of polenta, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, the finely grated zest of 1½ lemons, the juice of 2 large lemons and 3-4 tablespoons of ground cardamom. Mix well to combine and spoon the mixture into the prepared tin. Place the tin onto a baking sheet and bake for approximately 1½ hours until golden brown and just set in the centre. Don’t be tempted to cook this cake for a shorter amount of time in a hotter oven as the polenta will not have time to cook. Cool in the tin before removing to a serving plate. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Written by michelle picker

February 12, 2020 at 12:09 am

coconut and pandan panna cotta with palm sugar syrup

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In south-east Asia pandan leaf is a staple flavouring ingredient. It has a distinctive aroma that’s a little sweet and grassy. Often used to flavour rice, the combination of pandan with coconut milk and palm sugar is particularly popular for desserts. It’s used for jellies, cakes, and all kinds of puddings, which are usually coloured a vibrant green with extra colouring. Here the flavours are combined in a panna cotta. This recipe makes 6 seervings.

Cut 30g (1 oz) of pandan leaf into short lengths and process in a blender with 300g (10½ oz) of coconut cream. Pour this mixture into a saucepan and add 1 cup of full cream milk, 300g (10½ oz) of double cream and 80g (2.8 oz) of sugar. Bring to boil and simmer for a few minutes. While this mixture is heating up, allow the gelatine to bloom. Add 20g (4 teaspoons) of powdered gelatine to a ¼ cup of milk and allow it to sit for a few minutes. When the coconut mixture is ready, strain it through a very fine double mesh strainer or a cloth until no fibres remain. Allow to cool a little and then add the gelatine, stirring to make sure there are no lumps. If you like your panna cotta served on plates, you will need to lightly oil the ramekins in which they will set. Otherwise you can pour the mixture straight into glasses. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. To make the syrup, combine 300g (10½ oz) of roughly chopped dark palm sugar (gula melaka) and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan with a lid. Cover and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture becomes a slightly thickened syrup. Set aside to cool. When the panna cotta are set pour the syrup over the top of each to serve.

Written by michelle picker

January 15, 2020 at 12:11 am

pavlova roulade

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Christmas is upon us and here in Australia pavlova is one of our most popular celebration cakes. Traditionally pavlova consists of a round meringue base, usually quite high and ideally with a crisp crust and chewy centre, which is slathered with cream and covered with fresh fruit. And as it’s summer here and fruit is at it’s finest, what better way to show it off? In this version, from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh (who just happens to be an Australian) the meringue and filling are rolled instead. I made mine with mangoes, passionfruit and blackberries.

To make the meringue first preheat your oven to 220ºC (430ºF) and line a shallow baking tray with baking paper. My tray was a little flat so I stapled the corners of the paper to make the sides a little higher. Put 6 large room-temperature egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and, using the whisk, beat them on medium to high speed until you have soft peaks forming. Continue to beat while slowly adding 375g (13 oz) of caster sugar, one spoonful at a time, until the mixture is thick and glossy. This should take at least 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar. Now increase the speed for a final minute of combining. Transfer the meringue mix to the prepared baking sheet and spread it out evenly with a spatula. Place in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 200ºC (390ºF). Bake for 35 minutes or until the meringue is crusty and has coloured a bit. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool completely. At this stage you can even keep the meringue for assembly the next day by covering it with a clean tea towel and setting it aside at room temperature. To make the filling, beat 400ml (13½ fl oz) of double cream until you have soft peaks just forming. Add 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and 30g (1 oz) of pure icing sugar and continue to beat a little until the cream is just firm enough. Be careful not to beat too long or your cream will turn into butter.

When you’re ready to assemble the roulade, place a clean tea towel over the meringue and invert it onto a work surface. Peel off the baking paper and spread about ⅔ of the cream evenly over the meringue and then cover it generously with the fruit. I put mangoes and passionfruit into the roulade but saved my blackberries for the top. You can also add toasted almond slices at this stage but I opted to put them only on the top. With the help of the tea towel, roll the meringue into a log shape and then carefully pull away the tea towel. Slide the roulade onto a serving platter with the seam facing down. Top with the remaining cream, fruit and toasted almonds and serve.

Written by michelle picker

December 25, 2019 at 12:08 am