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Hold on February 7, 2011

January has passed, in a sticky blur of mango and sand. Summer is always like this for me – Christmas whizzes by in a frenzy, then I wallow through the first month of the calendar year, letting the garden, my hair and the lists of postponed stuff and phone calls grow to unmanageable proportions. At heart I’m still on school holidays in January and this feeling doesn’t dissipate, no matter how far from actually being in school. Aside from regular games of slow-motion chasey, the small one and I have mainly lain around, on the beach, in the pool, in the wild grass of our yard, and on the floor of the living room, listening to the pock-grunt of tennis and reading Moo, Ba, La La La forty hundred times or so. The few days I’ve worked have been slow and quiet, long hours of sitting with women while they breastfeed, interrupted only to help plough through the Christmas chocolates.

But now it’s February, the true start of the year. Crammed weeks of delayed appointments, maniacal list-crossing-off activity, actual work, shonky parenting* and a happy happy return to baking. Our poor, neglected oven isn’t going to know what’s hit it. Christmas brought a heavy windfall of recipe books…Jose Marechal’s Secrets of Macarons, Tim Halket’s Five Fat Hens, a book of afternoon slices to drool over (ginger cheesecake, earl grey tea custard, oh my), The Original Australian Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book (!!! clever, clever SF) and Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Cake Bible. The latter alone could keep me occupied for months, and to begin – something simple and ferociously indulgent:

 

 

Chocolate Oblivion

455 grams of your favourite dark eating chocolate, I used Old Gold which is only about 50% cocoa

225 grams of unsalted butter

300 grams of eggs (weighed without shells – 5 or 6 large)

 

 

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees celsius (200 fan forced)

Grease and line a 20cm springform tin and set aside with a roasting pan

Break up the chocolate and chop the butter roughly. Put them both into a large metal bowl over a pan of just simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Take off the heat and set aside.

 

 

Break your eggs into a large glass bowl. Get your handheld electric mixer ready. Place the bowl over a pan of just simmering water and beat the eggs on high speed until they are warm-hot and foamy. Take off the heat and continue to beat on high speed until the eggs are cool.

 

 

Fold the eggs gently into the chocolate mixture in two-three installments, folding until no streaks remain.

 

 

Pour the mixture into the prepared springform tin. Place the tin in your roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with very hot water (up to about 3 cm up the side of the cake tin).

Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes. In the meantime, butter one side of a piece of foil.

Place the foil over the cake and bake for a further ten minutes. The cake will still look fudgy in the middle – this is good.

 

 

Take the cake out of the oven and out of the water bath. Cool on a rack, in the tin, for 45-60 minutes, then refrigerate for a few hours.

When it is nicely firm, very carefully remove the springform side of the tin. You may need to gently run a palette knife between cake and tin first. Cover a plate in cling film. Invert the cake onto the covered plate, remove the base of the tin gently. Lastly, invert the cake onto a serving plate. Slice generously.

 

Eat. At room temperature it is silken and ever-so-slightly melty. On a hot day, straight from the fridge, it is cold and densely fudgy. We went through two cakes in a week, with a little help from the LMFs. No sugar, no flour. Really, it’s damn near a health food.

 

*More on this shortly.

 

Recipe catch up: Part 3 November 13, 2010

Or how to accidentally eat one’s body weight in rice in one day:

Lunch – Due to tragedy of zero leftovers at home, eat emergency cafeteria lunch of sushi hand rolls

Dinner – Scarf down large amount of heavenly chilli eggplant, with rice

Afternoon tea –

Rice Pudding Pie

otherwise known as Tamara Milstein’s Torta di Riso, from her very excellent book Bake Your Cake & Eat It Too

120 grams of rice flour

130 grams of plain flour

50 grams of pistachio kernels

70 grams of brown sugar

100 grams of white sugar

220 grams of butter, cold

2 large eggs

750 mls of full fat milk

160 grams of arborio rice

4 egg yolks

zest of 1 large lemon

2 tablespoons of almond flakes/slivers

1/2 a teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/2 a teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Put the rice flour, plain flour, pistachios, and a pinch of salt in your food processor.

Whizz until the nuts are roughly chopped.

Add the brown sugar, 120 grams of the butter and 1 egg.

Whizz until combined.

Remove the dough and knead very briefly, just to bring it together.

Shape into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Put the milk and rice in a medium saucepan with a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer for half an hour or until the rice is tender and the milk absorbed. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, combine 75 grams of the white sugar, 50 grams of the remaining butter, the 4 egg yolks, lemon zest and almonds and mix very well.

Stir this mixture into the rice.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 fan forced)

Butter a 22cm springform cake tin.

Get your pastry out of the fridge. Roll it out between two sheets of baking paper, rolling until it is about 5mm thick and large enough to line the entire cake tin.

Carefully line the tin, patching any torn or split areas.

Pour the rice mixture into the pastry shell.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining egg, butter and sugar with the nutmeg and cinnamon.

Drizzle this over the surface of the rice mixture. You can gently swirl it in with a fork to spread it across the whole cake.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until nicely set and golden.

Allow to cool in the tin, then gently remove to slice and serve.

We ate this cool and by itself, which was super tasty. But I suspect it would be even lovelier with some cream whipped up with a smidge of nutmeg. And it may be drawing a long bow to suggest that this falls within Loophole number 3, but we did have an awful lot of rice in the cupboard. Surely it can’t last forever?

 

The high road September 26, 2010

Filed under: Beautiful baking,Cakes to covet — titchandboofer @ 9:12 am
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There are times when one’s beloved is not. There are times, in fact, when your significant other might actually be a bit of a bastard. For one of my lovely midwife friends (LMF), today is one of those days. And isn’t it so tempting, when your spouse is being a bastard, to just be a bastard right back at them? You might not want to actually speak to them, but you do want to stay close by, just to let them know – through the mediums of stomping, door-slamming and heavy sighing – that you are wronged and they are responsible. Unfortunately, like me, my long-suffering LMF is sharing her life with an irredeemably stubborn and obtuse Polack. And like me my LMF has come to know that Polacks pay no attention to the subtext of stomping, door-slamming or heavy sighing. The Polack assumes that if you have stomped into another room, you want to be in the other room alone and that maybe you’re just feeling a little heavy-footed today. No amount of exaggerated huffing or avoiding eye-contact will make the Polack realise they should be apologise for a wrongdoing. If they were wrong, which is of course pretty unlikely, they would have apologised already. Obviously.

So, my LMF did not stay home today and wear herself out with foot-stampery. She went out and bought the bastard a birthday present. Then she came here and made him a birthday cake. Because, as anyone sharing their life with a stubborn Polack knows, there’s just no point holding a grudge. They only get confused.

Bastard Husband Guilt Trip Cake*

*adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly Cakes & Slices

200 grams of dark chocolate, chopped roughly

1 tablespoon of instant coffee

1 tablespoon of boiling water

150 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature

125 grams of caster sugar plus 2 tablespoons extra

3 eggs, separated

1 cup of plain flour

Filling:

200 grams of pure cream

1/2 tablespoon of instant coffee

1/2 tablespoon of boiling water

1 tablespoon of icing sugar

Icing:

140 grams of dark chocolate, chopped roughly

140 grams of unsalted butter

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees celsius (170 fan forced).

Grease and line a 23cm springform tin.

Melt the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl over hot water (set a small pan to simmer, then turn it off). Set aside to cool to room temperature.

The original recipe suggests adding a tablespoon of water to the melted sugar. Reading this, I thought ‘hmmm, that will seize the chocolate’. Then I thought ‘maybe this is a magical exception that the AWW has somehow created’. It is not an exception. Adding water to melted chocolate makes it seize. Do not do this. It’s a quick way to waste a lot of chocolate. Whenever you’re reading a recipe, listen to your instinct. They are not infallible. On the upside, redoing the chocolate part gave us the idea to add coffee and make this a mocha sacher torte.


In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water.

Add the coffee to the mixture, beating well to combine.

Stir in the melted chocolate.

Sift in the flour and stir well to combine.

In a medium bowl (glass or metal) beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the extra caster sugar and beat well until the sugar has dissolved.

Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.

Spread the batter into the tin. Bake for 30 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cake is completely cold (this can be hastened by putting it in the freezer for 15 minutes, which is helpful if all the children in the kitchen are driving you mad with their restlessness) cut it in half horizontally.

For the filling:

Sift the icing sugar into the cream.

Whisk until thickened slightly.

Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water.

Whisk into the cream and continue to whisk until spreadably thick.

Spread on the bottom layer of the cake. Replace the top layer.

For the icing:

Melt the chocolate and butter in a small heatproof bowl over hot water.

Set aside to cool and thicken. This may also be hastened by putting it in the fridge, stirring regularly until it reaches a spreadable consistency.

Spread all over the top and sides of the cake.

Take it home and give it to the undeserving bastard. With love.

 

So long and thanks for all the apples September 24, 2010

Filed under: Beautiful baking,Cakes to covet — titchandboofer @ 10:02 pm
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The Nanna and Coach have gone off traveling once more. They travel every couple of months, be it to cling to the bunks of a ship in the wild Antarctic seas, or to venture all the way to London’s borough market and bring home muesli. I am a little sad, as their absence means no Nanna Day each week for the small person and no Family Dinner Night each week for all of us. I’m also a teeny bit jealous, itching to go somewhere hot and sticky, where coconuts with straws are sold from roadside carts and you can swim at dawn – when the baby wakes up – and snooze in the afternoon. But I am also a little happy, as their departure means we inherit their perishables: salty black olives, fillets of snapper, bulbs of fennel, fancy yoghurt, extra eggs and shiny, crisp Granny Smith apples.

Farewell Cake

3 small Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored, quartered and finely sliced

250 grams of blackberries (frozen is fine, even preferable as they will hold their shape better during mixing)

350 grams of self-raising flour, sifted

250 grams of dark brown sugar

250 grams of natural yoghurt (or flavoured, whatever you fancy)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

125 grams of unsalted butter

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 fan forced).

Butter and line a 23cm springform tin.

In a small bowl, melt the butter and set it aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, dark brown sugar and cinnamon, whisking to break up the sugar (you could sift it, but that’s far more time consuming).

Add the apple and blackberries and stir gently. I didn’t want to make the blackberries mushy and turn the whole cake purple.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add the yoghurt and melted butter, whisking to combine.

Add this mixture to the flour, sugar and fruit.

Fold gently until combined. The batter will be dense and sticky.

Scrape into your prepared tin.

Bake for 1 and 1/4 hours.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Lovely eaten warm and not at all bad cold either.

It’s quite a dense cake, thickly studded with the tangy, juicy berries and slivers of apple that still keep a bit of bite to them. Slightly cinnamony, but not at all overwhelming. In fact, if you love cinnamon you could add an extra half a teaspoon and be very happy. We ate it all by itself, but a big dollop of creme fraiche or real vanilla yoghurt couldn’t hurt. And needless to say, it goes very nicely with a great big mug of tea.

 

Buy more spoons September 13, 2010

Warning:

Making this cake will entail the use of every bowl, spoon, saucepan, measuring cup and spatula in your kitchen.

The cake and its icing contain an obscene amount of butter.

Making the cake part will lull you into a false sense of security about the rest of it.

Making the icing will push your patience to the limit.

Despite owning a dishwasher, you will still wash up over and over again before you are done.

It is best if no-one else tries to do anything in the kitchen for the duration.

There are many things one can achieve whilst playing with a one-year old and watching one’s partner blow up the blender. Making italian meringue is not one of them.

Reading the recipe eighty-five times will not always prevent you from stuffing it up somehow.

Rose Levy Beranbaum is an evil genius.

The end result is well worth the effort.

People will ask you to make it again.

Heart Attack Cake

The batter:

180 grams of egg whites, or about 6 large, at room temperature

1 1/3 cups of whole coconut milk (not light, or lite, or any other pretendy stuff)

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons of coconut extract

400 grams of plain flour

400 grams of caster sugar

5 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

230 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees celsius (160 fan forced)

Butter and line two 23 cm springform cake tins. Measure your tins. Make sure they are the same size (yes you, you know who you are).

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites with 1/3 of a cup of the coconut milk, the vanilla extract and the coconut extract.

In your freestanding mixer,with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt on low speed for 30 seconds, to just combine.

Add the butter and the remaining 1 cup of coconut milk. Mix on low speed until combined, then raise the speed to medium and beat for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.

Gradually add the egg white mixture in three batches, beating on medium speed for ~30 seconds in between each addition.

Spread the mixture evenly between the two tins. Weighing the tins will help in creating even layers in your cake. There should be approximately 760 grams of mixture in each tin.

Spread the mixture out evenly. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, until just golden and springy, when an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for ten minutes, then turn out carefully onto lightly greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert the cakes, so the tops are up. Allow to cool completely.

Silk Meringue Buttercream – an icing in three acts

Coconut creme anglaise*

*you could do this bit up to 3 days in advance

100 grams of sugar

100 grams of egg yolks (about 5 large) at room temperature

1/2 a cup of coconut milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of coconut extract

First, put some iced water in a large bowl. Rest a medium bowl in the iced water. Put a sieve over the medium bowl. Set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan combine the sugar and egg yolks.

In a small saucepan bring the coconut milk to the boil. Add two tablespoons of hot coconut milk to the yolk mixture, stirring constantly.

Set the yolk mixture over low heat. Stirring constantly, add the remaining coconut milk.

Continue to stir over heat, keeping going until just below boiling point. The mixture will thicken and steam slightly. An instant read thermometer will read 76 degrees celsius. This will take a little while. Don’t rush it, or you’ll scramble the eggs and have to start all over again.

Pour through the sieve into the medium bowl. Stir in the vanilla and coconut extracts . Allow to cool to room temperature. If doing more than a few hours in advance, cover with clingfilm (directly on the surface) and refrigerate.

Italian meringue*

*a bastard of a thing to make

60 grams of egg white (about 2 large) at room temperature

1/3 of a cup of caster sugar, plus 2 tablespoons

30 grams of water

1/4 of a teaspoon of cream of tartar (Whatever your own beloved might tell you huffily, this is not sauce to have with battered fish, nor will it spontaneously become such.)

Rose says: have ready a 1-cup glass jug.

I say: don’t bother, it leads to far too much drama.

Put your egg whites in a medium size glass or ceramic bowl. Have a handheld beater ready.

In a small saucepan, stir together the 1/3 cup of caster sugar and the water. Heat on medium-high, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Turn the heat to low and leave it to go while you do the next bit. If you have an electric stove, take it off the heat.

Beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Turn off the mixer and add the cream of tartar. Beat again on medium-high until soft peaks form. Continue beating and add the extra 2 tablespoons of caster sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Go back to the stove. Increase the heat under the syrup to medium-high and boil for a few minutes, until an instant-read thermometer reads 120 degrees celsius. It shouldn’t be colouring. Transfer to the glass jug if you’re following Rose’s instruction.

Take your syrup to the egg whites. Start beating the egg whites agian, adding the syrup in a thin stream that doesn’t touch the beaters (it will fly off everywhere and set on the side of the bowl). If you’re using a glass jug, the syrup will almost instantly cool down and harden, becoming unusable. You can then try and microwave it. This won’t work. Then you hack the lumps of hardened syrup back into the saucepan with a splash of water and try and turn it back into syrup. There will be swearing. Once you’ve remade syrup, you can complete the meringue. Once all the syrup is in, continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes. It will be lovely and dense and velvety. Set aside.

Act 3: completing the  buttercream*

*very satisfying

460 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature

Coconut creme anglaise

Italian meringue

~150 grams of shredded coconut (I used the moist shredded coconut that comes in a snaplock bag, but you could use dessicated or large flakes)

In your freestanding mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and paler.

Gradually beat in the coconut creme anglaise, beating until smooth.

Add the italian meringue and beat until just incorporated. If the mixture looks curdled it’s too cold – you can fix this by resting the bowl inside another bowl of warm water – but this shouldn’t happen if you haven’t refrigerated anything.

And finally, many long hours after you began, you are ready to ice.

Spread a little smidge of buttercream on your serving plate, to stop the cake skidding around. Put your bottom layer on this. Spread the bottom layer with ~just over a cup of the buttercream, spreading it almost to the edge – the weight of the upper layer will push it out further. Put the top layer on. Then cover the top and sides with the remaining buttercream. You may have a cup or so leftover. This is no bad thing really, given the enormous amount of butter.

Now, for the last bit. This will be messy. Balancing the plate on one hand, tilt the cake so that you can coat the sides with shredded coconut. Coat the top last. Then scoop up all the coconut you’ve dropped on the bench and the floor and feed it to your chickens.

Beautiful! Congratulate yourself heartily. I did. Then I reread part of the recipe and realised I had been meant to mix 2 cups of shredded coconut into the buttercream. Damn. I was a bit peeved about this until we ate some, but the consensus was that the buttercream would have been made all gluggy and grainy with more coconut. As it is, it is beautifully silky and still very coconutty in flavour. It’s up to you…

Everyone has loved it.

The beloved said it’s good enough to eat off the cat.

And I will make it again. One day.


 

Second chance September 5, 2010

Persistent in her attempts to curb my baking enthusiasm, the beloved has come up with a new system. Rather than just arbitrarily slapping down an embargo when she gets to sugar overload (usually by midweek), she’s now issuing out baking passes like she’s some kind of kitchen border control. “Carrying unsalted butter? Sorry, you cannot cross the border. Refer to the terms of your multiple-visit visa…see? Section 3, subsection a/ii: Items that pertain directly or indirectly to the pursuit of creating baked goods cannot be carried into The Kitchen. Are you intending to carry out work that may lead to the combination – mechanically or manually – of sugar, butter, eggs and flour? If so, again I refer you to the terms of your current visa… Section 5, subsection c/ix: declaration of intent to bake without a valid pass will result in detention and/or confiscation of equipment. False declarations will lead to deportation from The Kitchen and the revoking of all previously held visa rights.”

A couple of loopholes have yet to be covered by this legislation, allowing baking if the resulting goods are to exit the house – untouched – within twelve hours of completion, or if the resulting goods are of a flavour/form/consistency that would never be willingly consumed – even when desperate – by the beloved. In the true style of all corrupt border control officials, the beloved can also override her own rules and just demand baked goods at any time. Luckily for me, the weekend swung around and I realised that all of this week’s baking has ‘somehow’ fallen within the loopholes, leaving me with one perfectly valid baking pass. To celebrate this and feed a friend (and fellow baking enthusiast) visiting from Canberra, I decided to delve into the pristine pages of Rose’s Heavenly Cakes.

This incredible book winged its way to me some months ago, a gift from the beloved’s sister. I have loved it dearly, all these months, even before I’d baked a single crumb from its pages. Not only is it photographed beautifully (which, let’s face it, accounts for 90% of the grade when you’re marking a potential new cookbook) but it is thorough. Really, really thorough. Ingredients are listed  by name, volume, weight in pounds & ounces, weight in metric and temperature (in celsius and fahrenheit, naturally) at which they should be used. Instructions for a single cake cover several pages. There are planning ahead tips, so as not to find out five minutes before your guests arrive that your icing will need 2 hours to set. There is a little back-story for each cake. And yet, despite the slightly anal thoroughness, Rose doesn’t come across as preachy or terse. She’s not as dip-your-bosoms-in-it indulgent as Nigella, but I still find myself drooling a little over almost every recipe (Two Fat Cats Whoopie Pie anyone? Or perhaps some Baby Chocolate Oblivions?). So what has taken me so long to get going? Well, the sheer length of the recipes did give me pause, but it was mainly the size of the completed cakes. This weekend’s project serves 14-16 people and requires 17 eggs. Obviously they would be 14-16 people who don’t like cake as much as I do, but even so, 17 eggs is a big commitment – either save up for a long long time and be super vigilant against The Crow or (the horror) buy extra eggs. I bought the extra eggs.

Lemon Luxury Layer Cake

Get settled in, this won’t be quick. This recipe has three components: cake, lemon curd and buttercream. Either give yourself two days to complete this, or start really early in the morning. The cake is pretty straightforward, but must be completely cooled before it can be cut into layers. The lemon curd and the buttercream each need about a three-four hour jump on your predicted serving time.

You will need two cake tins of equal size (23cm, springform), a food thermometer (Rose recommends an instant-read sort, but I only have a milk-frothing one and that did the job), and a good amount of baking paper. An offset palette knife would be useful. I don’t have one.

Cake batter:

170 grams of white chocolate (I know, the hated white chocolate. Rose convinced me to hazard this recipe by specifying exactly what to look for in my white chocolate – information that would have been useful a couple of weeks ago – it should be at least 30% cocoa butter, ideally with vanilla, such as Green & Blacks or Whittakers)

112 grams of egg yolk, at room temperature (roughly 6 large)

242 grams of milk (1 cup)

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

300 grams of plain flour

240 grams of caster sugar

4 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder

3/4 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of lemon zest

128 grams of unsalted butter at 19-23 degrees celsius (room temperature, unless you’re a bit stingy with the heating, or if it’s the middle of summer)

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees celsius (160 fan forced)

Butter and line your cake tins

Chop the white chocolate and put it in a small heatproof bowl. Simmer some water in a small saucepan, then turn off the heat. Put the bowl over the saucepan, not letting the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Stir frequently until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool until no longer warm to touch, but still fluid in consistency.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, 1/3 of the milk and the vanilla extract until just combined.

Using a freestanding mixer (ie Kenwood Chef/Mixmaster) on low speed, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining milk. Mix on low speed until just combined, raise the speed to medium and mix for 1 1/2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary.

Gradually add the egg mixture to the batter, in three stages, mixing on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.

Add the melted chocolate and mix until well combined.

Spoon the batter into your prepared tins. Each tin will be just under half full. To be precise, use your scales and put ~600 grams of mixture into each tin.

Bake for 25-35 minutes. The cakes are done when golden, springy to touch and when an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Let the cakes cool in their tins for 10 minutes, then turn onto greased racks to cool completely.

Lemon Curd:

6 grams of lemon zest, finely chopped/grated

130 grams of egg yolk at room temperature (about 7 large)

225 grams of caster sugar

85 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature

141 grams of lemon juice, well strained

pinch of salt

Put the zest into a medium bowl and set it aside with a sieve over the top. Just before you start the curd, rest this bowl in another bowl with ice in it.

In a medium saucepan, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and butter until well combined. Whisk in the lemon juice and salt. The mixture will appear split – this is okay and won’t last. Cook over low-medium heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula, scraping down the sides frequently. Keep stirring until the mixture thickly coats the spatula but is still liquid enough to pour (a kind of plopping consistency). The mixture will become opaque and turn a golden yellowy-orange. Do not let it boil or it will curdle. Err on the side of lower temperature. This may take a bit longer, but you won’t stuff it up. When you are satisfied, pour it immediately through the sieve into the bowl with the zest. Allow to cool, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Divide the curd into two containers: 100 grams in one, to add to the buttercream and the rest in another. Cover tightly and refrigerate until cool (about three hours, or overnight is fine).

White Chocolate Lemon Buttercream, Part 1:

White Chocolate Custard base:

300 grams of white chocolate (as per above specifications), chopped

150 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature, chopped

200 grams of whole eggs (about 4 large), lightly beaten

In a large bowl, over just simmering water (again, don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water), melt the white chocolate and butter together, stirring until smooth.

Whisk the eggs into the mixture.

Continue whisking and heating until the mixture reaches 60 degrees celsius and is slightly thickened.

Remove from the heat and refrigerate, stirring every 15 minutes until the temperature has dropped to 21 degrees celsius.

Buttercream Part 2:

142 grams of unsalted butter

The White Chocolate Custard

The 100 gram portion of lemon curd

Using your freestanding mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Gradually beat the white chocolate custard into the butter, scraping down the sides as necessary. Continue beating until stiff, creamy peaks form. Cover and set aside for about 1 hour (I had lunch and came back after about 40 minutes and that seemed fine)

Beat on high for 30 seconds, add the lemon curd and beat to just incorporate.

Putting it all together:

Cut your cooled cakes in half (horizontally, duh). This is not that tricky, just make sure you have plenty of bench space. Sliding two strips of baking paper under each piece will also help to maneuver them (you can pull the strips out from between the layers without dislodging much curd/buttercream at all).

Spread just under half the lemon curd on each of the bottom layers (leaving just a little left over). Spread not quite to the edges, the weight of the layers will push it further out.

Spread a little (~ a tablespoon) of buttercream on your serving plate (this stops the cake from lurching around)

Put a lower layer, spread with curd on the serving plate. Set an upper layer on top. Spread with about 1/2 a cup of buttercream, spreading not quite to the edges).

Put the next lower layer on top of this:

Set the final upper layer on the very top. Use the remaining buttercream to cover the top and sides of the cake:

Swirl the leftover lemon curd through the buttercream on the top of the cake:

Slice, serve and eat:

Do I need to say how good this tastes? I may have overdone the amount of buttercream on the top of the cake, but even so, it is truly lovely. Lemony, white-chocolatey and a cake that is dense but not at all dry.

Not only was it worthy of using up my baking pass, it has patched up the cracks in my relationship with the abominable white chocolate.

 

Everyone’s a little bit whiny September 1, 2010

Filed under: Beautiful baking,Cakes to covet — titchandboofer @ 11:47 am
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I have a cold. The beloved has a cold. Small has a cold. Fun times. Day spent mainly curled up in an armchair, drowsily feeding a drowsy small. Then I remembered we had rhubarb in the house. Glorious, sweet, tangy rhubarb. Perfect for cold wintry days. Turn it into crumble or sponge pudding, pie or fool, something very American called grunt, or just stew it and heap it over vanilla ice-cream, or tuck it under custard. Or make cake.


Wintery Whinypants Cake

~300 grams of fresh rhubarb (roughly half a bunch, exact amount not essential – just go with your preference, although a massive amount will destabilise the cake a little)

310 grams of self-raising flour, sifted

250 grams of brown sugar

1 vanilla pod

2 eggs

125 grams of plain yoghurt

125 grams of unsalted butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (170 fan forced)

Butter and line a 20cm springform tin

Crack your eggs into a small bowl. Put your yoghurt in another small bowl.

Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds. Stir the seeds into the yoghurt. Immerse the split pod in the cracked eggs. Set aside (If you like, you could do this a few hours ahead of time, putting the bowls in the fridge. If you were super keen, you could put your uncracked eggs in an airtight container with the vanilla pod for 24 hours beforehand to really infuse the flavour in. Conversely, if you can’t be bothered with any of this faffing about, just use a teaspoon of vanilla extract.)

Trim the leaves and ends from the stalks of rhubarb. Slice finely (<1/2 cm thick if you can).

Put the flour, sugar and rhubarb in a large bowl and combine well.

Remove the vanilla pod from the eggs and beat them lightly.

Add the eggs, yoghurt and melted butter to the bowl with the flour, sugar and rhubarb. Mix thoroughly to combine.

Spoon into your prepared cake tin, smoothing out the top. The mixture is very thick but don’t worry, this is just how it should be.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, depending on the force of your oven. It is done when an inserted skewer comes out clean and the top is a little springy.

Leave in the tin to cool for ~15 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack.

Eat while it’s still warm if you can, drizzled with a little cream, or served with a scoop of ice-cream.

Just right for a cold evening. Warm, rich cake, studded liberally with tangy little jewels of rhubarb. Perfect remedy for a whiny family.

 

White nemesis August 28, 2010

One of my lovely-midwife-friends is engaged! Well, to be absolutely accurate, two of the LMFs are engaged and I give a third one about six months before she too sprouts a sparkly rock on her ring finger. But back to the point – the LMF of this story had her engagement party last night. She and her fiance (both as cute as buttons can be) celebrated their engagement with their friends and family in a hall bedecked with twinkling fairy lights, with ivy winding about candles, with photos of the two of them looking button-cute and with tables groaning beneath plates of all sorts of food (there was middle-eastern lamb that I would have sold a relative for, not small obviously, but any of the extended family). A week ago this LMF was at small’s birthday party. We were chatting about her upcoming celebration and how all the guests were bringing food. I half-jokingly offered to make the cake, thinking ‘oh it would be lovely to be able to do it for her’ but also thinking ‘surely she would have that all wrapped up by now’. Not, as it seemed. Huzzah! Gift baking! Not just fun and indulgent but completely sanctioned by the beloved at any time.

Having spent much of the past two weeks poring over epicure: chocolate, I had ideas. Too many ideas. The LMFs engagement story is utterly romantic. It all began in the dead of the night, there was mystery, there were aeroplanes, there was even a sea-plane, there was swimming, there were fish, and of course the popping-of-the-question, all by the love of her life. A heart shaped cake seemed the right choice. But one heart seemed small and lonely. Almost as importantly, it only enabled the use of one recipe.

Two Hearts

Part One:

“Coco the burlesque wonder cake” (I could not pass up an opportunity to make a cake with such an impressive name – thank you to Ben Johnson of thelovebite.com, very very much)

175 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature

1/3 of a cup of cocoa

2/3 of a cup of caster sugar

1 1/2 cups of self-raising flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 a cup of golden syrup

3/4 of a cup of sour cream

2 eggs

For the cake –

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius (180 fan forced)

Butter and line a tine (~22cm diameter)

Put all the ingredients in a food processor. Whizz until well combined. Pour into your prepared tin.

Bake for ten minutes, then reduce the heat by 20 degrees and bake for another half an hour. It’s done when you poke the top gently and it springs back.

Cool in the tin for about ten minutes then turn onto a rack and cool completely.

Frosting:

50 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 a cup of sour cream

3 tablespoons of golden syrup

80 grams of dark eating chocolate, melted

3 cups of icing sugar, sifted

1/4 of a cup of cocoa

25 grams of dark eating chocolate, chopped into little bits

Put all the ingredients except the chopped chocolate into the food processor. Whizz until well combined. Add the chopped chocolate and pulse to splinter it a little. Spread over the cooled cake. This cake is luscious – the golden syrup gives the cake and the icing a hint of caramel; there is a generous amount of icing; the chocolate splintered through the icing adds bite and a bittersweet edge. It doesn’t surprise me that this cake is rumoured to receive fan mail. I’m tempted to send a little note myself.

Part Two:

“Lisa’s white chocolate cake”. Not such an exciting title, but this LMF does like her chocolate and I was aiming for contrast.

125 mls of water

200 grams of caster sugar

80 grams of unsalted butter, chopped

100 grams of white chocolate broken into pieces

2 eggs, lightly beaten

100 grams of self-raising flour, sifted

30 grams of cocoa powder (yes, you read correctly, cocoa – the cake is not white to look at, until it’s slathered with icing)

1 cup of frozen raspberries (my tweak)

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees celsius (170 fan forced).

Butter and line your tin.

Bring the water to the boil in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Take off the heat.

Add the butter and white chocolate. Stir until melted. Cool slightly.

Whisk in the eggs. Sift in the flour and cocoa. Mix until well combined.

Pour into your prepared tin (it will be pourable) and tap the tin to settle any bubbles. Drop in your raspberries at the last minute (they will sink, but will still be tasty).

Bake for about half an hour. When done an inserted skewer will come out clean.

Cool in the tin.

For the icing:

Up until this point everything was very smooth sailing. Perfect. Tasty cakes. Excellent first batch of icing for cake number one. Layout ideas coming along nicely. Found a tray that meant I wouldn’t have to venture out to buy a cake board. Then I started on the white chocolate ganache. I haven’t baked with white chocolate for a long time and now I remember why. It is an abomination. It does not behave like chocolate. It doesn’t cooperate.

1 cup of thickened cream

200 grams of white chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon of unsalted butter

~1 1/2 cups of icing sugar, sifted (yes I know, not traditionally a ganache component, all will be explained)

Heat the cream in a saucepan over low heat. Add the chocolate, mixing until it is melted. Add the butter and mix to combine. Remove from heat. Allow to cool and thicken, stirring occasionally.

Right. Well the first time I tried to be clever – I tried to treat the ganache like the version from the Nutella cake, whisking to cool and thicken it into a mousse-like consistency. So it split. Tasty, but kind of nasty to look at.

Nevermind, thinks I, I have enough things for a second batch. Gently I repeat the melting and stirring process, then leave it alone. It cools. It does not thicken. I put it in the fridge. It does not thicken. I put it in the freezer. It does not thicken. Time is running out. We should have left for lovely party an hour ago.

In desperation, I put a bit on the cake, hoping it will set in the manner of ice-magic touching ice-cream. No.

In further desperation, I start whisking icing sugar into it. Ah ha!! Success! Lovely texture, not quite tooth-achingly sweet, very white.

I put this on the cake. The previous, runny stuff slooshes off from beneath the new icing and onto the tray. I mop it up with half a roll of paper towel while the beloved, small and another LMF watch with a kind of amused horror. Frantic smoodging of icing continues. Cake ends up well covered, if not as perfectly pretty as I would have liked. In the meantime I have melted some extra dark chocolate and piped a message out onto some baking paper. Miraculously it has set and can even be extricated from the paper and transferred to the cake without stuffing it up irreparably. With zero time to spare, cake is complete.

Sadly I cannot show you a photo of the finished cakes in all their glory. For one thing, the hurried photo I took before we sprinted out the door was pretty appalling. More importantly, the anonymity of my LMF and her own beloved would be compromised. Best just to look at the second last photo and use your imagination. My last pieces of advice: if you want white chocolate just buy a block of Cadbury Dream. Then eat it. If you want glorious cake and mouthwatering ganache, use 70%+ dark eating chocolate, the tastiest you can afford.

 

Faking it…some more August 24, 2010

Filed under: Beautiful baking,Cakes to covet,Parenting — titchandboofer @ 12:36 am
Tags: , ,

Putting the last post together, the photos took seventy-hundred years to upload, I got distracted by a book on the desk and completely forgot to say what the cake was actually like. In short, it’s a mud cake – dense, muddy, moist and very very chocolatey. Traditionally I believe the icing would be buttercream but, given that adults were outnumbering kids at small’s first birthday by a considerable margin, I opted for a dark and bittersweet ganache. Overall effect – beautiful. In fact we cut the cake just as small, in the time-honoured tradition of birthday-children, was conking out and getting teary. I exited stage left to wrangle his over-stimulated little self into bed. By the time I reappeared about fifteen minutes later, the cake board was bare and a trail of crumbs led me outside where the happy cake-eaters were belting the pinata with a stick. Happy Birthday Small!

 

Faking it August 23, 2010

I’m not really a hoarder. Except when it comes to books. It is purely the threat of financial punishment, in the form of fines, that sees me reluctantly handing back library books. One of my ‘if you won Tattslotto what would you do?’ responses is invariably ‘go to Borders/Hill of Content/Sun Theatre Bookshop (so hard to choose…) and buy one of everything’. Even disliked, half-read, boring, technical, out-of-date, written-in-a-language-I-cannot-understand books still have homes on my overstuffed shelves. And anyone who has lent me a book would know that it can be a long long time before they make their way home (you know, when the guilt really kicks in and the beloved has asked about the book’s provenance pointedly at least three times). But I have an excuse – it’s a genetic problem. It must be. That is the only reasonable explanation why my aunt has a ten-year-death-grip on my mother’s copy of the Australian Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake book.

Australian’s will understand. Possibly even non-Aussies have heard of the fame of the AWWBC book. It is a legend, in book form. And if my sources are correct it is tragically out of print. I have hunted high and low. I have searched the site of my favourite online second-hand book purveyor (abe.com – very handy for book lovers). I even tried to wrest it from the clutches of my aunt. No luck. Mysteriously, even The Nanna doesn’t have a copy, which makes me suspect that one of her sisters pinched it from her. Last week, acting on a baseless rumour that it was back in print, I scoured our local shopping centre’s six book-sellers. No luck. All I found was an AWW Birthday Parties book, which had frankly terrifying suggestions on how to dress your six-year olds up as tarts and make them a handbag cake (or something similar, I kind of blocked out the whole awful experience). Not a patch on the original, with classics like the train, the swimming pool (for years I begged for that, but my mother, The Granny, is strangely averse to jelly), the doll-with-giant-cake-skirt, the rocket, and – most importantly – the number one.

When small was six months old I had decided that that was the cake I was making. I fought off The Granny and marked my cake-making territory with lots of stern phone calls. I thought I had plenty of time to actually lay my hands on a copy of the hallowed book. Wrong. A week out, still no book. I was saved by two things – the cake is really pretty basic and I actually remembered what it looked like (all those years of poring over it and harassing The Granny were not wasted!). So, there was nought to do but fake it…

The Small One’s Number One

250 grams of unsalted butter, chopped

200 grams of dark eating chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)

440 grams of caster sugar

330 mls of water

1 tablespoon of dry instant coffee (I used instant espresso)

110 grams of plain flour

110 grams of self-raising flour

25 grams of cocoa powder

3 eggs, beaten lightly (these I had to cadge from one of the LMF’s chooks, as ours are still slacking off)

Icing:

200 grams of dark eating chocolate (here I used Whittaker’s 72% just to see what it was like)

160 mls of thickened cream

Smarties (evil, Nestle-produced, I know I know)

Grease and line your tin. Even in you have a Number 1 tin, as I do, that specifically says to grease with copha and dust with flour. Just line it anyway – far less pain in the long term. If you do not have a Number 1 tin, draw an outline of the shape you want, bake your cake (you may need double quantity) in square pans, allow to cool, put template over the cooled cake and cut out the shapes you need. Anything a bit dodgy can be glued together with icing.

Preheat your oven to 150 degrees celsius (130 fan forced)

Combine the butter, chocolate, sugar, water and coffee in a medium saucepan. Stir over low heat, without boiling, until butter is melted and the mixture can be stirred smooth.

Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool for at least ten minutes.

Combine the flours and cocoa powder. Whisk into the chocolate mixture in two batches.

Whisk in the eggs.

Pour the mixture into the prepared (lined!) pan. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, depending on your oven. Start checking on it from around the hour mark.

Let it cool completely in the tin. Before you tip it onto your plate/cakeboard/breadboard/bench get a good sharp breadknife and slice off the risen bit (I sliced level with the tin sides but that would be madness if it had risen way above the tin) so that it will be sit steadily to be iced and sliced.

For the icing:

Combine the chocolate and cream in a medium size heatproof bowl. Place over a pan of just simmering water until the chocolate begins to melt. Turn the heat off and continue to stir until the mixture is smooth.

Stir (or whisk) until cooling and thickened. Do not wander off to breastfeed your child at this point as I did, letting it get too thick and meaning I had to stick the evil Smarties on like a speed demon.

Spread all over your cake and stud with Smarties as thickly as you like. I just did the top.

Almost the most satisfying moment of the day? The beloved’s cousin seeing the cake and exclaiming ‘I’m having such a de ja vu moment! That’s exactly the same as the cake I had for my first birthday! Mum made it from the Australian Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake book’!