Sunday, May 31, 2020

Chocolate Ganache and Blackberry Cake - Charlotte Ree's recipe

Celebrate your birthday today. Celebrate being happy every day.

On Tuesday, my blog quietly turned 13 years old.  It's hard to believe that I started this blog so long ago.  I spent a good couple of years reading other people's blogs before I decided that I could so it too, and jumped in.  And here I still am, though much less frequently, as I have found Instagram a much quicker and easier way to share my cooking adventures.

I think the fact that I am still blogging is an occasion worth celebrating, so I will do so in the time honoured fashion of sharing a cake.

This cake is Chocolate Ganache and Blackberry Cake, and fittingly,  I discovered the recipe on my new favourite medium, Instagram.  It was posted by Charlotte Ree, an Australian baker who has published a cookbook fittingly called Just Desserts.

Despite looking ultra-chocolatey, this cake is flavoured with cocoa rather than chocolate.  The chocolate ganache and the blackberries are decorations on the cake rather than being ingredients.

I was particularly drawn to this cake because Charlotte had baked her version in the same Nordic Ware bundt tin that I had bought just before the lockdown started.  I hadn't had a chance to use it because one person does not need a whole bundt cake, but I had visitors coming for the first time in weeks on the weekend that I made it, so there was an excuse to make a whole cake.  And it certainly was a beauty of a cake, inside and out: 

I also shared this cake with my downstairs neighbours, who told me not once but twice how much they enjoyed it.  Now there's a ringing endorsement. 

You can find the recipe for this cake in Charlotte's book, on her Instagram site, or online here.  Go on, make it - I know you want to!

On that note, happy bloggiversary to Laws of the Kitchen.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Spritz Cookies

When I was growing up, my mum often made biscuits she calls “Pusher Biscuits”, because they are made with a biscuit press.  More commonly, these biscuits are known as Spritz Cookies, or Spritzgeback (squirt cookies) in Germany.

I was (and am) fascinated by the various shapes formed when the biscuit dough was extruded from the biscuit press. They are just so pretty.

These biscuits are shortbread like in flavour, and Mum always sandwiches them in pairs with water icing.

The dough is simple enough to make, but it is important to get a sufficiently firm consistency for the biscuits to be extruded correctly from the biscuit press. The biscuit press itself can be rather temperamental, and there were a couple of discs that would not work for me, no matter how hard I tried. If you don’t own a biscuit press, the dough can be extruded in short lengths from a pastry bag fitted with a wide star tip.

To make these biscuits, you will need:

120g butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 3/4 cups self raising flour
1 pinch salt

1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1-2 drops of food colouring (optional)
cold water

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat until pale and creamy. Place the egg into the bowl and beat well, followed by the vanilla.

In another bowl, sift the flour, cornflour and salt together. Add the sifted flours to the other ingredients, and beat until the ingredients just come together to form a firm dough with the consistency of pastry. (If your dough is not firm enough, it won’t extrude properly from the biscuit press; if this happens, just mix a little more self raising flour into the dough until the dough extrudes correctly.)

Form the dough into a log and fit it into a biscuit press fitted with your choice of disc and press the biscuits onto baking sheets lined with baking paper, leaving 2cm or so between the biscuits so that they have room to spread while baking.

Put the biscuit trays into the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until the biscuits turn lightly golden brown at the edges, turning the trays front to back and top to bottom half way during the baking time.

Remove the biscuits from the oven and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

To make the icing, mix the icing sugar with just enough water to make a spreadable (not runny) icing, and colour as desired. (I used 2 drops of rose pink colouring.)

Arrange the cooled biscuits into pairs of the same shape and size. Spread the icing onto one biscuit of each pair, and place the other biscuit of the pair on top. Set the biscuits aside on a flat surface until the icing sets before storing in an airtight container.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

TWD - Fruit and Nut Croquants

This week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Fruit and Nut Croquants. These biscuits are like a hybrid of biscotti and meringues, but are only baked once. They are crisp on the outside, and chewy in the middle.

I used cranberries and almonds in my croquants, and sprinkled nutmeg orange sugar from Gewurzhaus on top. I didn’t have cloves, so I substituted nutmeg and cloves for nutmeg and cardamom. They tasted really good, a bit like Christmas.

To see what everyone else made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Adam Liaw’s Chicken and Pumpkin Curry

There’s nothing like a good curry when the weather turns frosty, and I have seen a few great recipes lately.

Adam Liaw’s Chicken and Pumpkin Curry recipe on Instagram caught my eye, as Ihad all of the ingredients (more or less).

The recipe is simple and tasty, and the list of ingredients is not too long for a curry.

To make this curry, you will need:


8 macadamia nuts (I used cashew nuts)
2cm galangal (I skipped it)
2cm ginger (I used a squirt of ginger from a tube)
5 garlic cloves (again, I used a squirt from a tube)
1 onion

Other ingredients

1 chicken, jointed (I chopped up a couple of chicken breasts)
1/2 butternut pumpkin (I used Kent pumpkin)
10 curry leaves (I used the zest of a lime instead)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons Baba’s meat curry powder (I used Keens Mild Curry Powder)
400ml coconut cream
800ml water
(I also added about 250g snow peas toward the end of the cooking time)

Put the rampeh ingredients into a food processor and blitz to form a paste.

Put a tablespoon of oil into a deep frypan or wok and heat until sizzling. Fry the rampeh in the pan for 10 minutes, then add the remaining ingredients to the pan and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for 40 minutes.

Serve with steamed or boiled rice.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

TWD - Cocktail Puffs

This week’s TWD recipe is Cocktail Puffs. Doristas who made these last fortnight said the dough was fussy and the biscuits were teeny tiny - and I agree on both counts.

When the dough goes for its first chill, as Dorie says, it’s more like frosting than dough. Even after the first chill, the dough is very sticky. All up, this dough sits in the freezer for 3 hours.

The biscuits are filled with a thin layer of savoury spread - I used mustard pickles. They are folded over and cut into one inch pieces - absolutely tiny. I made 11 biscuits from one quarter of the recipe.

The end product tastes fine, but not worth the time and effort to get there.

To see what everyone else made this week, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

TWD - Tea and Honey Pots de Creme

“I don’t feel very much like Pooh today," said Pooh.

                  "There there," said Piglet. "I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.” 

                                                                      A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Tea and Honey Pots de Crème.  We have made a few different versions of this dessert, which is a baked custard flavoured in different ways.

This particular version of pots de crème is flavoured with tea and honey, as its name suggests.  The recipe called for rose tea; I didn't have that, so I used passionfruit and hibiscus tea instead.  The pots de crème are also flavoured with a little rosewater, which blended just fine with the slightly floral taste of the passionfruit and hibiscus tea.

Left to my own devices, I might never have made this recipe, but I am  glad that I did, because I enjoyed this dessert very much.  I made two, just for me, from a quarter of the recipe.

To see what everyone else made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.  

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Royal Chocolate Cupcakes for Mother's Day

Today is Mothers Day, a special day set aside to celebrate mums everywhere.  Because of lockdown restrictions, many people (myself included) could not be with their mums physically today, and instead had to catch up via technology.

I thought that these Royal Chocolate Cupcakes were a special recipe to post to celebrate  Mothers Day.  The recipe was posted by the Queen's pastry chefs to celebrate her recent birthday, but I think they are adaptable to any occasion.

Here are the cakes unadorned:

I love this recipe - the cupcakes were amazingly light and fluffy, whereas I had expected them to be quite dense.  My preference would have been to leave out the white chocolate chips, which in my case all sank to the bottom of the cakes and didn't add much to the flavour. 

I made the chocolate icing and decorated the cupcakes with sprinkles: 

Here's a close up of a cupcake - look at that luscious chocolate icing:


To make these cupcakes, you will need:

15ml vinegar
300ml milk
50ml vegetable oil
60g melted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
250g self raising flour
75g cocoa powder
300g sugar
10g bicarbonate of soda
100g white chocolate chips

For the icing:

90g dark chocolate
100g butter
125g icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake papers.
Put the flour, sugar, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.  

In  jug, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, melted butter, oil, vinegar and milk.

Slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and fold through the chocolate chips (if using).

Using an icecream scoop, scoop the batter into the cupcake cases.

Bake the cupcakes in the oven for 15-18 minutes or until cooked through (they will spring back when you press on the top of them).

Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool slightly in the tin before unmoulding to cool completely on a wire rack.

Once the cupcakes are cool, make the icing by beating the icing sugar and butter together until light and creamy, then folding through the melted chocolate.  Spread the icing on top of the cupcakes with a spatula or knife, and decorate as desired.

Finally, I could not let the day pass without posting a photo of me with my mother:

Happy Mothers Day Mutti!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

TWD - Salt and Pepper, Sugar and Spice Galettes

This week‘s Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Salt and Pepper, Sugar and Spice Galettes.  These are roll out biscuits flavoured with salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

I made a third of the recipe and ended up with 23 biscuits. Admittedly, I had rolled some too thin, but I was glad I didn’t make the full recipe.

These were tasty biscuits, not a stand out, but good.

To see what everyone else made this week, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.