Monday, 30 May 2011

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Toffee

If you’re my dentist, then I certainly didn’t eat any of this.  Not a smidge.  Now, look away…

If you follow me on Twitter, then you would have heard me profess my love of Cybercandy and my love of Pretzel M&Ms.  The hard sugar shell, chocolate and then pretzel are a sugary mouthful of heaven and I knew I had to pay homage. 

Recipe adapted from

115gr butter
250gr caster sugar
2tbsp golden syrup
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp vanilla extract
90gr crushed pretzels (not dust, chunky crushed)
100gr dark chocolate (chips or just chopped up block)
Couple of pinches of rough sea salt (optional)

You will also need:-
A sugar thermometer (unless you are happy doing it with a cold saucer or a glass of water)
Baking sheet
Greaseproof paper

(Measure everything out before starting because I found I was scrabbling around for my measuring spoons and chopping chocolate like a thing possessed!)

1, Add the butter, sugar, syrup, salt and a couple of tablespoons of cold water to a medium sized saucepan.  Stir gently over a low heat until everything has dissolved.
2, Clip on a sugar thermometer and turn the heat up to medium/medium-high.
3, Prepare a baking tray with a layer of grease proof baking paper. 
4, Keep an eye on the toffee, stir it gently occasionally and bring it up to 145o/c or hard crack stage. 
5, When it has reached this, carefully remove from the heat, unhook the sugar thermometer and stir in the vanilla and the bicarbonate of soda.  Be careful, it will hiss and spit at you. 
6, Quickly stir in the pretzels and make sure they are all covered.
7, Tip the entire lot onto your baking sheet and spread as evenly as possible.
8, Leave this for a couple of minutes before sprinkling with the chocolate.  Wait another couple of minutes and the chocolate will have melted enough to be spread using either a spatula or a pastry brush.  Sprinkle with some rough sea salt like Maldon (or my favourite, Cornish Sea Salt)
9, Cover and leave to cool or pop it in the fridge.
10, Smack it with a rolling pin to make bite size shards when fully cooled.  

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Rainbow Cake

I made this cake for my blogs first birthday and as promised, here is the recipe!  I’ve been itching to make one of these cakes for ages!  They look so unassuming from the outside until they are cut into and people gasp and say “wow!”

I baked my cakes in three batches of two.  I didn’t want to put more than two in my oven at a time due to space and I wanted them cooking evenly. 

Altogether you will need:-

570gr unsalted butter
570gr caster sugar
9 eggs
3tsp vanilla extract
570gr self raising flour
3tsp baking powder

Food colouring (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)

Buttercream Icing
300gr butter
700gr icing sugar

1, For each batch (two cakes) you want to cream together 190gr of butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
2, Beat in three of the eggs along with 1tsp of vanilla extract
3, Sift in 190gr of the flour along with 1tsp of the baking powder
4, Fold this until just combined.  Don’t mix too much at this stage.  
5, Divide the batter into two bowls and add food colouring to each.  Bear in mind that the colour of the cake will be brighter than the batter but make them as bright as possible without overbeating.
6, Pour each batter into a greased or lined 7inch sandwich tin and bake in a preheated oven at 170o/c for 25 minutes
7, Cool the cakes and make the next two batches in the same way.
8, When you have all six cakes cooled and ready to be iced , trim all the cakes to a six inch diameter and make sure they are level using a cake leveller or a knife and a steady hand. 
9, Make one batch of butter cream icing by beating 150gr of butter until really pale and light then fold in 350gr icing sugar with a couple of teaspoons of milk and a couple of drops of vanilla extract.  If you want a really white butter cream add the tinest bit of blue food colouring and beat well.  I used a skewer to add the food colouring.  It’ll offset some of the yellow tinge. 
10, Use this batch to spread a small layer of icing between each cake
11, Whip up the next batch and give the cake a thin crumb coating.  Pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours so the crumb coat sets so your final ice will be all lovely and crumb free.

12, Remove the cake from the fridge and apply the rest of the icing to the cake using an offset spatula.  I swirled the top and then used a dessert spoon to lightly drag up the surface of the butter cream to create the stripes. 
13, Leave for a couple of hours in a cool place so the butter cream sets a little before cutting
14, This is a seriously large cake.  You have been warned.  Eight of us had a go at it and it beat us.  It beat us bad.  There was over half of it left.  And we all really love cake… 

Sunday, 22 May 2011

We Should Cocoa: Tiger Swiss Roll

This month’s We Should Cocoa is held by Chele at the Chocolate Teapot who has challenged us to make a swiss roll or a roulade.  You can see last month’s round up here for the marzipan challenge.

Initially, this was supposed to just be a chocolate orange swiss roll but I think when it had been baked and rolled, it was looking pretty tiger-y! So I thought I would share with you some interesting tiger facts:-

I was born in the Chinese year of the tiger.  Also due to the time of year of my birth the element of fire is also attached to me.  This means I am a Fire Tiger.  Jim is a Water Pig.  I’m happy with this.  Jim? Not so much.  Water Pig.  Giggle. 

I once sulked for a good few hours because we didn’t get to see the tigers at London Zoo.  I was 23.  I’m never going back to London Zoo. 

Tigers are cooool.  But you already knew that…

3 eggs
75gr caster sugar
75gr self raising flour
½ tbsp cocoa powder
Couple of drops of red and yellow food colouring
Zest of one orange

Orange curd
Chocolate butter cream

1, Beat the sugar and eggs together until pale and fluffy
2, Gently fold the sifted flour into the beaten sugar and eggs until just incorporated. 
3, Take four tablespoons of the batter and divide it between two bowls.
4, Gently stir the cocoa powder into one bowl and the food colouring into the rest
5, Transfer the coloured and cocoa-ed batter into separate sandwich bags, snip a tiny bit off each corner and pipe ‘tiger stripes’ onto a lined and greased Swiss roll tin and pop into the freezer.  I actually used a deep cookie tin to do mine and then, when cooked, trimmed it into a rectangle to roll.
6, When the tiger stripes are frozen solid, gently spoon the remaining cake batter over the top and smooth gently with a wet spoon. Sprinkle the orange zest evenly over the raw batter. 
7, Bake for 7-10 minutes until springy to the touch and starting to go golden brown. 
8, Remove from the oven, along with the greaseproof paper it was baked on and cover the top with a sheet of greaseproof paper.  Leave until just cool enough to handle and roll the whole thing up, with the long side facing you. Leave this to cool
9, When the Swiss roll has cooled, gently unroll it, remove the inside piece of greaseproof and smooth on a layer of chocolate butter cream and top that with some orange curd.
10, Re-roll the whole thing carefully and remove the outside layer of greaseproof.
11, Cut and serve.  Pretend you’re a tiger. (optional)

Recipe tweaked from here

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Cottage Garden

The combination of hot weather and those quick heavy showers we’ve had over the last couple of weekends have really made the garden burst into fruit and vegetable heaven.  I’m already excited about picking the fruits of our labour!

We’ve got onions, shallots, French beans, lettuce, courgettes, tomatoes, two lots of `garlic, horseradish, strawberries, a new rosemary bush, red gooseberries and blackcurrants.  Plus, my lovely Dad has leeks, some more different types of tomatoes and other bits!  Not sure where I’m going to fit everything in… 

Plus mystery bush has flowered this year! Check out these beauties! I had to hold up the stems because the flower heads are so heavy!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Happy Belated Blogrthday

I was quite happily sitting in the bath last night, debit card in my mouth, flicking about on the internet, whilst repeating the mantra “Do. Not. Drop. iPhone. In. Bath”, and booking my best friend’s birthday surprise. 

Birthdays are cool.  Well, other peoples are.  I always book for me and the best friend to go and do something rather than buying her a present.  Memories are better, sometimes, than gifts.  We’ve been on the London Eye, been to the Ice Bar and this year, I have just found the perfect thing for us to do.  But it’s a secret. 

That’s when the word birthday stuck in my head.  I knew my blog’s birthday was in May and a couple of swift clicks confirmed that it was a May birth for my blog.  But May 1st?!?  Whoops…

So here is my big 1st birthday blog cake.  It looks pretty plain but looks can be deceiving…  Hold back the hair.  Make a wish.  Totally wish I could share this with all the awesome people I’ve met through food blogging. 

We took it to a BBQ and eight of us barely managed half of it.  Recipe to follow.  

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Raspberry and Orange Mini Bundts

I had problems writing this post.  What do you write about bundts?  I’ve never been one to dip into the history of certain cakes and I don’t want to bore you.  As a substitute of writing this post, I have spent the past week (or so) replacing words in songs with the word ‘bundt’.  It definitely hasn’t helped with the writing.  

Jim thought I should just write ‘got bored, had ingredients, made cake, here it is’.  He’s a man of few words… Unless he’s talking about accountancy…

190gr unsalted butter
190gr golden caster sugar
Zest and juice of one orange
3 eggs
190gr self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
225gr fresh raspberries
Icing sugar

Preheat oven to 170o/c
1, Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
2, Beat in the eggs and zest
3, Fold in the flour until combined
4, Gently fold through the raspberries
5, Grease a 6 hole mini bundt tin and sprinkle a little of caster sugar into each one.  This helps with releasing the cake when it has cooked and who does like a bit of extra sugar…
6, Fill the mini bundt holes evenly with the batter and bake for 20-25minutes
7, When an inserted skewer comes out clean, remove them from the oven and turn onto a wire cooling rack. 

8, Mix the orange juice with a couple of table spoons of icing sugar to form a glaze.  Brush this liberally on the mini cakes before cooling