mutteringhousewife

What does the last of the housewives do?

Category: Cakes

Little Coconut Cakes

At least I’ve had some warning this time. Also prior experience. “Mum, can I take something in for the last choir of term?”

The first time I had this request from the Horror it was half an hour before we left for choir, so as I always strive to be a good parent I told him to go jump in the lake. Having learned this lesson I’ve been able to ratchet the request back to a much more reasonable forty eight hours prior. This even enables us to work out what baked good he’d like to take. He’s rather enamoured of something I had a crack at yesterday, namely mini coconut cakes. As they’re almost all gone, I’ve just made another batch. I’ll have to hide them so he has some to take in tomorrow morning.

First, locate some coconut. I like to get mine in flake form from The Source, in Balmain.

20130917-143744.jpg
A quick visit to the Thermomix turns it into a very fresh tasting desiccated coconut.

20130917-143833.jpg
One also needs coconut milk. I was able to persuade myself that the ancient tin dug out of the back of the cupboard contained something still edible, no really, it was fine. I tasted it and everything.

20130917-144006.jpg
Cream together ninety grams of butter with three quarters of a cup of sugar. Add a teaspoon of vanilla essence and an egg and cream some more. Add an egg yolk and incorporate that also. I found some nifty little glass saucers with lids for keeping just such a thing as left over egg whites.

20130917-144207.jpg
Was it at Peters of Kensington? I can’t remember. But I used some egg whites that had been kept this way for two weeks in the fridge only yesterday, they made excellent meringues.

Add three quarters of a cup of flour and beat that in. Add a third of a cup of coconut milk and the zest and juice of half a lemon and beat that in. Add a third of a cup more of flour and a third of a cup of desiccated coconut and beat that in. Spoon into greased mini muffin tins. Or these saucer shaped things that I think I inherited from my Nanna.

20130917-144504.jpg
Bake at 160 degrees for about twenty minutes, or until turning golden on top. Don’t they come out a cute shape?

20130917-144555.jpg
I’ve adapted the recipe from Coconut Tea Cakes in the ever reliable Good Cookie, by Tish Boyle. I have modified a few things. I added the lemon, I love citrus and coconut. I’d like to try lime, but it’s sometimes a bit funny when you cook it, especially the zest. The recipe book suggests sweetened shredded coconut, but I spit on that suggestion. Why can’t Americans sweeten things as they go, or would it be too shocking to see how much sugar they eat? Or are they just trying to use up all the corn syrup? There’s also a fancy frosting to go on top, but I’m not bothering. Too hard to store.

Of course what will happen is that The Horror will take these in tomorrow morning and some kid will have brought in Krispy Kremes. Then the Horror will eat half of the coconut cakes himself at recess and make himself some friends with the other half. Whatever, I’ve done my bit. The housewife’s honour is satisfied.

Not even Slightly Papa’s Ricotta Tarts

The Horror’s birthday is coming up and I like to get in early with cake requests. As anticipated it went something like this: “Strawberry cake. No, friands. No, caramel cake. Oh, some people like chocolate, how about half strawberry and half chocolate cupcakes? Or how about a ricotta cake?”

Anyone in the Inner West know that the the best ricotta cakes come from Papa’s Pasticceria. On weekends they have a line out the door and down the street of slavering hordes buying them as fast as they come out of the kitchen. Actually I don’t know if they are the best, I’ve never tried anyone else’s version. They are excellent. I knew I couldn’t replicate them, not with a week’s notice anyway, but I could have a stab at the ricotta tarts.

These are what you have if you just want a taste of ricotta cake. Not as widely known as the cake, I’m surprised they sell anything other than the cake at the weekend because the surging crowds rather obscure the long glass counter. You need to be in the know. I am, being a local, so I braved the throng last weekend and procured some for research purposes.

20130724-150824.jpg
Hmm, pastry quite short, maybe some cream? And there are many recipes about for ricotta cheesecakes, I might just take an average. Here’s what I did.

Pastry. Into the Thermomix chuck 50 grams of cold Pepe Saya butter, two tablespoons of sugar, two tablespoons of cream, a cup of flour, a teaspoon of baking powder. Zap. In a few seconds you’ll get a jug full of damp crumbs.

20130724-151102.jpg
I pressed these into fifteen fluted Bakers Secret tart tins, the ones with the removable bottoms. There was enough for sixteen, but I’ve lost the bottom out of one of them. Surprised its only one, really. Baked these for a touch over five minutes, until they just started to colour.

20130724-151234.jpg
Cheesecake filling. Bung into the KitchenAid bowl an egg and two tablespoons of sugar. Beat until the stuff goes white.

20130724-151416.jpg
In another bowl mix together 125 grams mascarpone, two tablespoons of cream, 250 grams of fresh ricotta and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. You can do this with a fork. The old skills remain. Fold the cream mixture into the egg. Spoon into the tart shells. Bake at 140 degrees for about forty minutes, I like to go easy on the cheese. Take it out when it’s just starting to tan a little around the edges. The cheese filling will be puffed up, but will subside once it cools.

20130724-151755.jpg
I would recommend de tinning them before putting them in the fridge, though they’re pretty fragile at this point.

Oh, they were good, all right. “A lot like custard tarts”, remarked the Moose as he embarked upon his third. The pastry was quite fragile, but melted in the mouth. The whole lot was just sweet enough. The ricotta filling was light and fluffy, quite a bit lighter than Sam Papa’s version. And that’s what the Horror couldn’t get past. He couldn’t even finish one. “It just isn’t right”, he said, handing me half. “I can’t forget that they’re not Papa’s”. Well, he’s right, they’re not. I need a tougher pastry and a creamier filling.

20130724-152757.jpg
Having said that, I’ve just sampled one two days later and they age in the fridge very well indeed, as do Papa’s. The pastry is still fresh and delicious, but not nearly as fragile. The filling has compacted a little. I may see if the Horror can bring himself to try another one. But you know what? Papa sells these for less than two dollars each. I have an excellent tart recipe for my next afternoon tea extravaganza and I’ll buy the Horror his birthday cake from the Pasticceria.

Thermomix Friands – Orange and Poppyseed

My Thermomix had its own holiday while we were away. It went to visit a friend and made a variety of beverages and butter and many other things that I’ll find out about next time I barge into her house and demand she makes me a coffee. I missed it as soon as I got home, I had to go and retrieve it and immediately make porridge and yoghurt and raisin bread in it. Not all at the same time. Over several hours. I know I’ve discussed friands before, but they’re just one more thing that’s a lot easier in the Thermomix.

The order is a little different to doing it by hand, as are the ingredients. You put in the jug 200 grams of white sugar and 110 grams of blanched almonds. Zap it, zap it good. Probably about speed eight for a good thirty seconds. Rub the mixture between your fingers after it stops, if you want it finer go another thirty seconds. It depends whether you’re using caster sugar or regular, or slivered almonds. You want really fine. Tip this mixture into a bowl.

Put 125 grams of sweet butter into the jug and melt it at 60 degrees and speed two for about three minutes. Actually, I got this completely the wrong way round today, I did the butter first. I had almond meal, last time I went up to the IGA that’s all they had. I forgot about turning the sugar into icing sugar. So after the butter had melted I put in the two hundred grams of sugar and kept it at sixty degrees for another three minutes on speed three to dissolve it.

Then you put back in the sugar and almond mixture, plus three quarters of a cup of plain flour, half a teaspoon of baking powder, three eggs and your flavouring. I’m doing orange and poppyseed because blood oranges have just come in. I want to make something with the insides of the blood oranges, so in pursuit of my snout to tail philosophy when it comes to citrus fruit I’m saving the zest. Ignore the instructions for doing citrus zest in the Thermomix, you need a Microplane. You can’t Thermomix everything, you know.

20130716-201122.jpg
I tend to use a lot of citrus zest, so the zest of twelve blood oranges should disappear quickly from the neat little glass dish I’ve stored it in. You want the zest of two oranges for this recipe, it’s about a tablespoonful. You also want a tablespoon of poppy seeds, put those in the jug too. Have I got everything? Sugar, butter, almond meal, flour, baking powder, egg, orange zest, poppy seeds. All right. I zapped it on speed eight while looking through the hole in the lid, stopping when it looked well and truly mixed.

I did use the friand tin this time, they do look a lot more appealing in that shape.

20130716-201833.jpg
As you only get six to a tin I also used a patty cake tin inherited from my Nanna. I put the tins in the oven for a couple of minutes, then cut off a chunk of cold butter to grease them with. I’ve tried the spray oils and they don’t work as well as butter. You have to be a bit careful releasing the friands, wait until they’re cool and maybe run a knife around them if you can’t ease them out.

20130716-202035.jpg
I overcooked them a little because I like the tops crunchy. Not that I get to eat them. They really are quite a bit lighter in texture done this way than by my old fashioned manual labour way. I going to have to think of some other flavours than orange and poppyseed and pistachio. If I did hazelnut and cocoa powder that would be a Nutella flavoured friand. Now there’s a thought. Wow, stream of consciousness invention right there.

Orange Cake

It’s fresh, it’s home grown, it’s possibly organic, it’s a bag full of backyard oranges. I do love being gifted raw ingredients, so how could I knock back a bag of oranges. A very large bag, full to the brim of thin skinned, sweet, juicy, I’m guessing Valencias. We have eaten quite a lot of them. Some of them went into an orange and passionfruit syrup. Some of them succumbed to the blue green algae. But I still have a bowl full left, and I’ve always wanted to try an orange and almond cake.

There’s actually a recipe for it in the Thermomix cookbook. I’m deeply suspicious of most of those recipes, even more so as this one claims to be fat free. What a lot of nonsense. It contains 250 grams of almond meal, it isn’t even slightly fat free. So I compare it to the orange cake recipe in the Stephanie Alexander Cooks Companion, and it looks fairly believable despite having only half the eggs. Here’s what I did.

Take two large, or three small oranges and bung them in the Thermomix steamer basket. Stick a litre of water in the jug and cook those babies for forty five minutes at Varoma temperature on speed three. The Stephanie Alexander recipe suggests gently boiling them for two hours, so I’m quite glad I’m not doing that, given my attention span. I’m quite capable of going out to buy cucumbers and returning to find my kitchen a smouldering ruin if I did that. See, I’m saving money with the Thermomix.

20130613-160241.jpg
They’re very soft after forty five minutes, I’m happy not to cook them further. You’re supposed to cut the oranges open at this point to hunt for pips, which I dutifully do and don’t find any. Bung them into the emptied jug and add on top 250 grams of almond meal, 250 grams of sugar, a teaspoon of baking powder and some eggs. The Thermomix recipe says three, Stephanie Alexander says six. I compromise on five, as that’s how many I have left in the box. See how full the jug is, yet when you zap it on speed seven for twenty seconds the oranges are pulverised and the whole lot is completely mixed.

20130613-160718.jpg
Pour it into a lined cake tin and bake it at 180 degrees for forty five minutes to an hour. The skewer test doesn’t really work on this type of cake, so when I pull it out after fifty five minutes for a sample it’s still fairly damp inside. Or moist, if you prefer.

20130613-160857.jpg
From what Stephanie says, it should be, but I’d rather it wasn’t. I put it back in the oven for another half an hour on 150 degrees and do actually go and buy cucumbers. It’s certainly dryer inside when I get back.

I do like the flavour, but not so sure about the texture. I might try reducing the eggs next time. Or possibly adding some flour and more baking powder. I’d like it lighter. But for there to be a next time, this one needs to be eaten first. Lucky it’s fat free.

Honey Roll Cake

Back in the Seventies, when I was a nipper, baked goods either came from adding water to the contents of a packet, or from the bakery. In my case, Bertoldo’s Bakery. Our favourite ever cake from there was the inaccurately named Honey Roll. The Women’s Weekly cookbook Sweet Old-fashioned Favourites has a terrific recipe for it, and I made it today for the cake stall at the Great Fair at the Muffet’s school tomorrow.

Except I can’t do a roll. I’ve tried. I’ve failed numerous times, it always breaks. I need someone to actually demonstrate, and don’t direct me to YouTube, I don’t like watching video on the computer, it’s just a thing. So I make this one as a filled cake.

Cream together 60 grams of butter and three quarters of a cup of golden syrup. Mix in one and a quarter cups of plain flour and a teaspoon of baking powder. Also mix in teaspoons of ginger, one teaspoon of cinnamon, three quarters of a teaspoon of ground nutmeg and a quarter of a teaspoon of ground cloves. I keep the cloves and nutmeg whole and grind them as needed. I grate the nutmeg with a Microplane and the cloves in really small quantities in the trusty old coffee grinder. I don’t use cloves much. Stir in two eggs. Mix one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda with a quarter of a cup of boiling water and stir it into the cake batter.

I’ve tried making one large cake and slicing in half and making two thin cakes, and I prefer the latter, especially as I do have twin round cake tins. It will be much neater if you grease the two tins, but I wasn’t in the mood, so lined them rather carelessly with baking paper. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t get it exactly even. Bake them until they’re really quite dark, about twenty minutes at 180 degrees, but do test them with a skewer.

20130510-174411.jpg
Meanwhile you do the challenging bit. I don’t know if you’ve had a honey roll, but it’s filled with a delicious confection that isn’t cream. You could whip some cream until it’s very stiff with some icing sugar and sandwich the cake with that, but it wouldn’t be right. You should really make Washed Mock Cream.

Beat together 125 grams of sweet butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence, a tablespoon of honey and half a cup of caster sugar. Beat it good. I have done this with hand held beater, but I am enjoying it more with the KitchenAid. Don’t try it with a fork, seriously. When it’s light and fluffy, cover the mix with cold water.

20130510-174755.jpg
Shake it for a minute, then drain the water off. Beat again. Rinse and repeat until you’ve done it six times and the mix is nearly white. In the middle of the process is will look like cottage cheese.

20130510-174901.jpg
You need to beat it fairly severely towards the end to get it to coalesce again, it will be about the texture of cream cheese, still spreadable. Squash it onto the bottom cake, it will be a thick layer.

20130510-175028.jpg
Snuggle the top cake onto the cream. Dust the top liberally with desiccated coconut, press it down with your hand, it should stick a little.

20130510-175131.jpg
It has been boxed and delivered and I’m experiencing that hollow feeling of having sent a cake to a cake stall and never knowing what’s going to happen to it. What will they charge for it? Will it sell quickly? Will its new owner enjoy it? I should have written on the box that it keeps well and like most spice cakes is even better after a couple of days. I’m over thinking it, aren’t I.

Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Cake in the Thermomix

I don’t usually make cakes, they don’t survive lunch boxes and inevitably require the use of a napkin. But a special birthday requires a special cake and so it was that yesterday I found the perfect cake recipe for a brother in law who is refusing to turn fifty and it seemed like a recipe written specifically for a Thermomix.

It’s a recipe from Nigella’s How to Eat and I first made it back when my sister was editing a minor newsletter for one of those tiny companies that seem to splinter off fund managers from time to time and it had a recipe section. She would source the recipe and I would make it and photograph it for the newsletter and in this case take the finished product in to the kids’ school’s staffroom where it was gratefully demolished.

To make it in a Thermomix, you bung in the jug 250 grams of dark chocolate, 250 grams of sweet butter, one hundred grams of caster sugar, ninety grams of muscovado sugar (or some sugar that isn’t white), two tablespoons of framboise liqueur (shout yourself, you can always put it in champagne at a later date when you want to feel fancy), and 350 ml of water into which two teaspoons of instant coffee have been dissolved. Nigella suggested 370ml, which is a cup and a half, but I did that last time and found the resulting cake a bit too wet. It is supposed to be puddingy, but I don’t want it falling apart. I may have actually used 340 ml, I just took about half a centimetre off the top of the cup and half cup measures. It was much better. I also used 70% cocoa chocolate this time as opposed to the supermarket variety 55%, and it could have stood a touch more sugar. It was rich and authoritative however, and I’d probably leave it alone. Have it with ice cream if you want more sweetness.

Having put all of this gluttony in the jug, put it on 50 degrees for eight minutes on speed two. I’ve tried melting chocolate at higher speeds but it just chucks it up the walls of the jug. That should get everything melted together. If you’re groaning under the absence of a Thermomix you can melt it all together in a heavy based saucepan or a double boiler, and you’ll even have to stir it yourself. When it’s melted put in the butterfly attachment and beat in two eggs for one minute on speed three. Add thirty grams of cocoa powder, one hundred and eighty grams of plain flour (a cup and a half) and three teaspoons of baking powder. Beat again for one minute at speed three. Take off the lid and have a poke around with the spatula to make sure there aren’t any lumps. It should be a runny mixture looking, as the Moose commented, like melted chocolate. Are you sure you’re making a cake, Mum, not just a giant chocolate?

Grease a 22cm round springform cake tin. I usually line things with baking paper, but this one you want greased. I do it by rubbing it over with a cold stick of butter, get right into the edges. Or as you please. Pour half the mix into the cake tin, making sure you’ve got the spring bit closed and the bottom sitting snugly. Sprinkle over 250 grams of raspberries, you’d be mad not to use frozen ones from Serbia. If you want to use fresh ones, use them as decoration on top where they’ll be appreciated. Pour over the rest of the mix, making sure no cheeky raspberries are poking out. Bake at 180 degrees for about forty five minutes. The top should stay flat and develop cracks when it’s cooked, thus:

20130415-120850.jpg
It looks rather nice sprinkled with icing sugar. It is very rich, so I served it with whipped cream. Having only ever made whipped cream with a bowl and a whisk and plenty of wrist action I was very surprised to see how quickly cream thickens in the Thermomix. Honestly, don’t let it go more than about twenty seconds, you’ll get butter, which will be entertaining, but of no use to you as an accompaniment.

20130415-121441.jpg
I’ve still got three pieces left. I do wonder whether I should find out if gets better with age as some chocolate cakes do, or just have them for lunch?

Raspberry Linzer Thingo

There are still many recipes in Tish Boyle’s The Good Cookie that I want to try and I’ve had my eye on this one for a while. I’ll tell you at the outset that it tastes fantastic, but it’s no good at all. Have a go at it after I’ve gone through a few iterations. It’s a texture thing.

I’m going to give you the recipe anyway. Grind together half a cup of slivered almonds, half a cup of hazelnuts and half a cup of caster sugar. If you have a terrific almost brand new blender, this will take seconds. If your almost brand new blender is taking a holiday in Western Australia you’ll need to do this in four batches in your twenty year old coffee grinder. I’m not bitter. Much.

In your far more reliable KitchenAid, mix 270 grams of butter with a third of a cup of brown sugar. I think this may be my problem. The recipe specifies 9 tablespoons of butter, and I’m using a conversion of thirty grams to the tablespoon. What kind of measurement is a tablespoon? Crazy Americans. Anyway, it’s clearly too much. Next time I make this, and I will, I’ll be using significantly less butter. Maybe just 200 grams. We’ll see. Beat in an egg. Beat in the ground nuts and sugar mixture, also half a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a quarter of a teaspoon of almond essence. Don’t mess with the flavours, they’re just right. Add one and a half cups of plain flour, a teaspoon of baking powder, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, one quarter of a teaspoon of ground cloves (you want them very finely ground, they’re very strong), and a quarter of a teaspoon of salt. Mix it up until it just comes together.

The second problem is that this is a very large amount of dough. The recipe suggests pressing two thirds of it into a lined square cake tin, spreading it with raspberry jam, then messing about with cutting the rest into strips and doing a fancy lattice arrangement on top with them. Because the dough was so soft with all the butter, the strips just blobbed in to each other. That’s another reason I think the butter measurement was wrong. I think next time I’d spread the dough out into a larger slice pan and possibly still do the lattice thing with the firmer dough. You’d need more than half a cup of raspberry jam, so buy more than one jar. Bake it at 160 degrees for about thirty five minutes.

<img src="https://mutteringhousewife.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/20130305-202055.jpg" alt="20130305-202055.jpg" class="alignno

20130305-202215.jpg

You can see that it’s very soft, but the taste is sensational. It’s definitely going in my morning tea repertoire. Once I get it right.

Edited to note that a friend has very kindly pointed out, restraining herself from all forms of mockery, that a tablespoon is only fifteen grams. Doesn’t that explain a lot? In my very poor defence, I was clearly thinking of an oz. What better illustration could there be for the adoption of SI units?

Banana bread

Tough enough to slice and toast, to survive a lunchbox, not enough fat to count as a cake and an excellent afternoon tea for growing kiddies. Banana bread, I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about it yet.

First, take two squishy bananas. Hang on a minute, where did they go? I do think that in this age where everything is glossed over and practised and polished and photoshopped it is time for a little honesty. There I was, all ready to make banana bread. But the squashy bananas that were at their bread making peak were gone. There was only one explanation. The cleaners had chucked them in the bin. I love never having to mop my own floors, but I do think that the rubbish sorting message is not getting through to the more recent arrivals to our shores, including those with the invidious job of cleaning my house. They have in the past chucked my compost, school notes, all the recycling, odd socks, coat hangers and a cheque in the red bin. This time they had gone too far. I marched out to the bin, dear reader, and retrieved those two bananas. Yes, I did. They were still in their skins after all, but I rinsed them anyway and you’d never know what a traumatic few days they’d had. Don’t tell my children.

So, take two bananas that have had a hard week and liberate them from their blackened skins into a mixing bowl. If you happen to have a KitchenAid, then get it beating at a reasonable speed and those bananas will be squashed into oblivion, leaving no unexpected chunks. Then you can toss in all the other ingredients. These are, in no particular order, two cups of flour, four teaspoons of baking powder, a teaspoon of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of mixed spice, three quarters of a cup of brown sugar, a quarter of a cup of wheat germ, a quarter of a cup of milk that the kids are complaining is starting to smell a bit off (or buttermilk), 60 grams of softened butter and two eggs. Mix it up and scrape it into a baking paper lined loaf tin. Bake at one hundred and fifty degrees Celsius for about an hour and half.

20130228-163341.jpg
Fills those tummies and uses up the fruit that I’m pretty sure they don’t eat on purpose so I’ll make it into banana bread.

Choc Mint Slice

My husband likes to make requests of me, he thinks it makes me feel useful. Some make me furrow my brow not inconsiderably, like the “please sort out the Outlook 2010/IMAP problems”, which has defeated greater minds than mine. Some I greet with whoops of joy, like “please can I have morning tea for ten people for a meeting on Sunday morning”. Catering, but without the paperwork.

I decide to give him tea scented shortbread, ANZAC biscuits, hazelnut biscotti and something chocolate. He put on his sad face and said “but, there aren’t any ginger nuts!”. He keeps asking not to make those because he’ll just be compelled to eat them all, and then where will the schoolgirl figure be? Men. I can just about make them in my sleep, so he got a batch of those. The chocolate brownies I usually make just weren’t quite right, so the kids get them (there’s only three pieces left). I’m wondering if Pepe Saya butter isn’t so great with chocolate or what’s going on. It was the perfect opportunity to make some chocolate mint slice, something I’ve been contemplating for quite some time.

I knew what I wanted was a more robust version of the after dinner mints that I’ve stopped refining because I kept eating them. The Internet wasn’t the place for recipes because a mint slice appears to be one of those weird recipes that people want to make with crushed up mint chocolate bars. Why wouldn’t you just eat the chocolate bar? Women’s Weekly Cakes and Slices had the closest to what I was looking for, but it will need to undergo further refinement, so let me know if you want to volunteer for testing.

Even so, this looked like one of those recipes where they’d let their attention wander a bit. The base was unusual, but I took them at their word and it produced a fairly dense cake layer, which worked well when the slice was at room temperature, but not when it had been refrigerated. Here’s how to make the base:
Mix together 2/3 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 1/4 of a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, 1/3 of a cup of caster sugar and their grams of softened butter. Stir in a third of a cup of water. Stir in an egg. Pour this lot into a baking paper lined 25 by 30 cm slice tin or, in my case, roasting pan. Bake at 180 degrees for about twenty minutes.

I was happy with the peppermint filling. You mix a tablespoon of vegetable oil with two and quarter cups of icing sugar and one and a half teaspoons of peppermint essence in a heat proof bowl. Actually, it doesn’t mix at all, so you add in three tablespoons of milk. When you’ve incorporated most of the icing sugar and you have a stiff paste, starting mixing it over a saucepan of boiling water until it becomes spreadable. I’d suggest wrapping you hands in a teatowel, steam burns are unpleasant. If you can’t get it to form a paste, add a touch more milk. The recipe oddly didn’t specify the amount of peppermint essence, but I thought one and a half teaspoons was about right. Spread the paste over the slightly cooled base. You want to wait a bit, otherwise you’ll tear the base up. Stick this into the fridge until it’s firm.

They then suggest melting 125 grams of dark chocolate with 90 grams of unsalted butter (in a bowl over boiling water) to spread over the top. Now I know from experience that if you just melt straight chocolate and spread it on the slice you’ll get a chocolate layer that is very delicious but impossible to cut without shattering unless you want to muck around with a hot knife. The butter is to make it softer, but as it turns out I think this combination is too soft, you have to lick your fingers after eating. I might try 40 grams of butter with 170 grams of chocolate next time.

20130211-145110.jpg

I’m also going to try for more of a biscuit base next time, then I can have the soft chocolate on top and serve it refrigerated. Or if I stick with the cake base, a much firmer chocolate layer. I wouldn’t mind trying this version of peppermint fondant in an after dinner mint either, maybe in disc form dipped in chocolate. But perhaps I should be thinking of my schoolgirl figure.

Orange and Poppyseed Friands

The cupboard is bare, so what shall I make? I know, raspberry slice. But I’ve already blogged about that, so lucky for you I’m also making orange and poppyseed friands at the special request of the Horror who very kindly didn’t give his piano teacher a nervous breakdown yesterday. It makes a nice change not to have to reconstruct the poor man before sending him on his way.

Friands are based on almond meal and icing sugar. You can get almond meal at the supermarket most of the time, but sometimes you find that only slivered almonds are available, and then only in a one kilo bag. You take them to the checkout and spend some quality time noticing that the pink lady behind you seems to not only have applied her own fake eyelashes, but to have actually made them herself out of what appears to be black cotton and hairspray. These are harsh economic times, my friends.

You can convert your slivered almonds into almond meal quite easily with the cup attachment on your stick mixture. At least, you could if you hadn’t fractured it while trying to convince it that it was just as good as a Thermomix. Failing that, a blender will also do an adequate job, though the resulting meal won’t be as homogeneous as one would like. It’s OK, though, we’re not making macarons.

With your fingers, mix in a bowl the dry ingredients. These are one cup of almond meal, one and two thirds of a cup of sifted icing sugar, three quarters of a cup of plain flour, half a teaspoon of baking powder, the shredded zest of two oranges and a tablespoon of poppyseeds. Mix in five egg whites, then 125 grams of melted butter. You can then spoon the mixture into very well buttered and floured friand tins, or make life easy for yourself and use paper muffin cases. These don’t rise very much, so if using the friand tins you can fill them nearly all the way up so they do that cute little break in the middle as they rise out of the tin.

This is the only flavoured friand recipe I’ve found (Donna Hay again) all other so called flavours just have bits of fruit piled on top. The flavouring has to be dry not to mess up the recipe. I guess you could use dried fruit, but isn’t very friand like. I’m working on a pistachio one, but the Horror thinks I have a way to go. It’s tricky, because every time I buy shelled pistachios they get all eaten. You can also use three eggs instead of five egg whites in this recipe, it’s a little richer. You could use other citrus zest too, but not lime, whenever I use lime zest it goes all brown and chewy.

20121113-144846.jpg