Monthly Archives: June 2010

Cherry Bakewell Fairy Cakes

It is a well know fact that on of my favourite bakes is the humble Bakewell Tart. The sweet almond sponge partnered with the rich raspberry jam is one of my favourite sweet flavour combinations. Of course this elegant tart has been transformed into the more commonly known Cherry Bakewell format thanks to Mr Kipling. There is a place for the delicious Bakewell Tart but just sometimes life calls for the one essential thing a Cherry Bakewell has; a garish red Glace cherry. It’s the rule.

In the past I have reincarnated the Cherry Bakewell in biscuit form and while baking Fairy Cakes for a School Fete last week I decided to make them in Fairy Cake format. Dainty little bites of jammy, almondy goodness. Of course a healthier alternative due to lack of pastry. Who am I kidding.

I will admit these never made it to the school fete and were used to fuel not only me but Hubs & Father-in-Law who have been working on a big DIY project. For the school I made a batch of chocolate cakes dusted with edible glitter (essential School Cake Stall ingredient)  and vanilla cakes with bright pink icing. It is the basic version of this recipe that I’m currently teaching in my cookery classes and out of the 300 cakes we’ve baked so far each and every cake has worked perfectly.

Cherry Bakewell Fairy Cakes
Makes 12

100g self-raising flour

100g caster sugar

100g butter

2 eggs

1 tsp almond extract

4 tbsp raspberry jam

100g icing sugar

2 tbsp boiling water

6 glace cherries, cut in half

1) Preheat oven to 180°c and line a bun tin with fairy cake liners.

2) In a bowl beat together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy then one at a time stir in the eggs. Don’t worry if it begins to look curdled. Mix in the almond extract.

3) Carefully fold in the flour until the ingredients are well combined.

4) Put a dessert spoon of the mixture in each case. Place a 1tsp of the jam on top of the cake batter then top with a further tsp of cake batter. The jam sinks during cooking and by the time they come out of the oven the jam will be sitting nicely at the bottom of the cake.

5) Bake for 15-20 min until risen and golden. Allow to cool before icing.

6) In a bowl mix together the icing sugar and water until you have a smooth icing paste. Smooth the icing over the cakes and top with half a glace cherry. Ideally let the icing set before eating…but you know how it is.

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Fresh from the Oven – Pide

This month’s Fresh from the Oven challenge was hosted by Pei Lin and she chose the challenge to be Pide. Pide is not a bread I had heard of before but like always was keen to give it a go. It originates from Turkey and is used to break the fast after Ramadan.

I don’t know if it the heat we’re having at the moment here or the fact I never have much luck with recipes written in cups but I found the dough really hard to work with and I ended up adding quite a significant amount of flour to the dough to get it to be workable which in turn dried the dough out too much. Hubs said he like it and has been using it for sandwiches so it can’t be that bad!

I won’t give you the recipe I converted to as I don’t believe it is the best, but here is Pei Lin’s original recipe which seems to be far more successful than my conversion attempt. Apart from me mucking up the conversion the only alteration I made to the recipe was to top it with fennel seeds & nigella seeds instead of sesame seeds.

Garden update – June ’10

Thing are going well with our Edible Garden. The sun is producing a plethora of fine green plants along with small hints of vibrant colour. Tonight we tried the Borage for the first time. It’s such a beautiful flower, almost like a simplified Passion Flower; taste wise the flowers it taste like mild cucumber.It is an exciting time in the garden the bees and other insects are busy and our hard work slowly beginning to pay off.

For a change not many words, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Peas beginning to take over the onions

Peas – I don’t know why but I love how pea plants can beautifully twist around everything & anything they can find.

Broadbean flowers

Tomato flower

Beetroot. Our Golden Beetroots are not doing as well as the red beets.

Good Food & Gardeners’ World Show

Visiting the Good Food Show with friends is a bit of a tradition for us. We prefer the Summer show as it seems to be less crowded and you have the added bonus of The Gardeners’ World Show you can visit at the same time. I can honestly say this year I found the Good Food part of the show disappointing. Genuine lack of artisan companies, too many big corporate companies and what on earth has toothpaste got to do with Good Food (anyone who went to the show will know what I mean). Don’t get me started on some of the rude stall holders. For some I got the feeling they couldn’t be bothered being there and potential customers were an inconvenience for them. I don’t know if the lack of decent suppliers was due to the show clashing with Taste London. Another gripe of mine was that a large proportion of the alcohol section was only available if you paid another £7 on top of the already quite expensive ticket.

Given the rough some diamonds did shine. The divine chocolate company Lauden‘s Marc de Champagne are some of the best chocolates I have ever tasted and am planning to order some of their truffles and pistachio cups soon. Taste of Johal  were selling delicious hot Indian dishes (a departure from the lack lustre hog-roast roll I had from another stall)

I will admit we ended up spending most of our time and money in the outside Gardeners’ World area as we found this area to be more interesting, plus you were less likely to be bashed around the ankle by the bloomin’ pull-along trolleys.

In the Gardeners’ World end as long as you avoided hot tubs, posh sheds and stalls that wouldn’t look out-of-place at Donnington Market there was the lovely presented Allotment shop along with charities and organisations passionate about wildlife. Outside on the green in the Floral Marquee was were the best stalls were. Stall after stall of beautiful plant and flower displays and to make it even better you could buy the plants. If I didn’t have an already full garden I could have spent a great deal of money. On the Fuchsiavale stand they had some stunning fuchsias including one that appeared to be almost black and hot pink. I wish I had noted the name of it. I also eyed up some alliums, lilies and stunning roses. Hubs purchased a Tree Onion from Pennard Plants. A slightly odd-looking plant that was gaining a lot of interest on the stall, I’ll be interested to see how well it works in our garden.

We enjoyed seeing the show gardens with my favourite being Salad Bar, A Stick in Time designed by Girlguiding Staffordshire and unsurprisingly the veg patch in the Birmingham Borders section. We also listened in to a talk by Alys Fowler on container gardening with the focus on edible plants. I was pleased to hear lots of the plants she suggested we already have in our garden. The floral marquee has given me the bug for flowers and next year maybe we’ll head to Tatton or Chelsea…Oh my goodness I think we’re getting old!

Chocolate Banana Bread

I will openly admit, I’ve always been a Nigella fan and I don’t care what people say. Her cookbook How to be a Domestic Goddess was one of the first books I bought for the house when we moved into it 5 years ago. It ended up igniting a passion for cooking and is one of the most used books in the house. My favourite recipes from it have to be the brownies and banana bread. The banana bread being totally fail safe and, I think, the first recipe I cooked from it. Even me, a chronic recipe fiddler, sticks very closely to her recipe as it’s so good.

Well I say I stick to the recipe, with baking recently I’ve been cutting back on sugar. As much as I love baking I surprisingly don’t have a sweet tooth. Offer me a chocolate bar of bag of crisps I will unashamedly take the crisps. I don’t like sweeteners for various reasons so prefer to use the real thing, but use less of it. With the majority of cakes you can cut back on the sugar as much as 50% without ruining the cake. Of course this won’t work with food like jam and meringues where the sugar is essential.   Now I make the majority of things we eat from scratch the biggest thing I’ve noticed is how over-sweet the majority of shop-bought cakes and biscuits are. So much so I can no longer eat the once-loved chocolate digestive as I find it tooth-achingly sweet. This banana bread certainly doesn’t lose anything from the sugar being reduced as so much sweetness comes from the banana and sultanas. If anything it brings out the rich chocolate taste. One thing I will say is that the banana does have a tendency to sink to the bottom in this cake, but don’t worry as this gives it a delicious gooey fudgeyness.

Chocolate Banana Bread
based on Nigella Banana Bread recipe

100g sultanas

75ml dark rum

150g plain flour

25g cocoa powder

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

125g unsalted butter

100g caster sugar

2 eggs

4 (300g) ripe bananas, mashed

50g chocolate chips

1 tsp vanilla extract

1) Place the sultanas and rum in a bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave overnight.

2) Preheat oven to 170°c then grease or line a 2lb loaf tin.

3) Mix the melted butter and sugar together until well combined then beat in the eggs one by one followed by the mashed bananas. Stir in the chocolate chips, vanilla and sultanas

4) In a separate bowl mix together the remaining dry ingredients then carefully stir into the wet ingredients. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 60-75 minutes, or until the cake passes the skewer test.

Miss Masala – Murgh Makhani

It’s that time of year again when Hubs & I celebrate our wedding anniversary. How the 3 years have flown. Traditionally we have an Indian takeaway in or around our anniversary as the romantic chap Hubs is proposed over a Chicken Tikka Biryani from the classily named Balti Towers way back in 2005.

I adore Indian food and used to cook it quite regularly but something happened and I lost my Indian food cooking mojo. I don’t know if it was the hours in work or that a great Indian takeaway had opened a small drive away. An email from the wonderful Mallika about her new cookbook – Miss Masala came to the rescue to get me back on to the Indian food bandwagon. I’ve been following Mallika’s blog from back in the day when I was a Domestic Goddess in Training. What I love about her cookbook and blog is that she is great at explaining the ingredients and techniques and also she tells you all the fantastic shortcuts that really work and that most people won’t tell you about.

As soon as I opened the cookbook I knew I had to make Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken). It’s one of my favourite Indian dishes that is rarely seen in many Indian restaurants around here. Who can say no to spiced chicken in a buttery, creamy, tomato sauce? I realised this was also a great dish to cook for our anniversary and time to chuck the takeaway menu.

Because the weather was so beautiful last night we started the chicken on the BBQ then finished it off in the sauce on the hob. The sauce was really easy to make and I have to say produced one of the best tasting curries I have ever made; Just like the Makhanis I have tasted in the past. The meal with accompanied with papads (poppadoms), raita and a chilli dip. I did have a slight rice fail though; I had a good intention to make a beautiful spice infused rice but hadn’t spotted we had run out of basmati rice. We never run out of basmati rice so had to sub with a long grain & wild rice mix. This didn’t distract from the delicious curry though.

Thanks to Mallika I think I have rediscovered my love for Indian food and Miss Masala will certainly be reappearing the in the kitchen soon, especially now that Hubs has built the Tandoor clay oven in the back garden I think we’re very much geared for an Indian Summer. One thing though, I should have taken Mallika’s advice as to getting rid of eau do curry as right now I smell strongly of fenugreek.

Murgh Makhani
Serves 10
From Miss Masala by Mallika Basu

2 kg boneless chicken breasts

250 gm + 4 tbsp natural yogurt

142 ml soured cream

500 gm salted butter

1.3 kg passata (the best you can get)

8 green cardamoms

16 whole black peppers

4 inches cinnamon

16 cloves

2 inches ginger

16 cloves garlic

2 tsp kassori methi (dried fenugreek)

4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1) Preheat the oven to a high heat (200 degrees centigrade). Start cutting the chicken into large bite-sized chunks and piling them up in a mixing bowl. Place the whole spices on a baking sheet and dry roast them for about 10 minutes until you can smell them strongly.

2) In a blender, whizz together the roasted spices with the ginger and garlic. Add a little bit of water to get a smooth paste. I would ask you to powder the spices et al but it’s too tiresome.

3) Don’t worry if the paste is a little grainy. Add it along with salt, lemon juice and the 250 gm of yogurt to the chicken and mix the whole lot together well.  Leave this to rest for 2-3 hours. When you are ready to eat, preheat the oven to 200°c, gas mark 6.

4) Spoon the pieces of chicken into two shallow baking sheets and bake for twenty minutes until they are white all the way through. You could also skewer the chicken pieces on to metal or moistened bamboo skewers and stick themm on a BBQ, cooking them for 10 min on each side. Soak the kasoori methi in two tablespoons of hot water.

5) In the meantime, bring the passata to heat in a large pot over a medium heat. Mix in the remaining yogurt, sour cream and butter.  When you can see the melted butter on the surface of the curry, mix in the cooked chicken with all its juices. Simmer for 10 mins, or until the oil floats to the surface

6) Finally, stir in the kasoori methi and its hot water. Serve immediately with jeera pulao and Cobra beer for ultimate satisfaction.

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