Archive for category dessert
What a long break from blogging I’ve had, (did anyone notice, haha)! I often go longer than I mean to between posts although long ago gave up trying to keep up with all the bloggers that post without fail each week (or each day)! However this was a long break even for me. After a fabulous holiday spent in Vermont where I completely forgot about everything and all routine went out of the window I was left wondering if there was a recipe left in me, I had no inspiration at all, until the discovery of this season’s blood oranges put me back on track!
I think part of the reason for my lack of inspiration is that I’m caught with that January feeling that I should be eating more healthily but not wanting to, then wondering what’s wrong with me that I have so little control! My head is a busy place this month! Anyone else feel the same or are you all diligently watching what you are eating? Kudos to you if you are! I am pretty much a rule follower but hate been told what to do so I think all the articles and constant talk of diets makes me rebel, after all isn’t January depressing enough? So for those rebels out there I offer you cake in January! For those avoiding cake, I’m sorry save this recipe and healthy new year recipes will resume!
I was so happy to come across the first of the blood oranges but then typically a few sat in the fruit bowl which led me to make this blood orange cake, a simple cake made with olive oil. Using olive oil eliminates the need to soften butter, which in colder climates can take quite a while! I based my cake on the Lemon Olive Oil cake that I make regularly. That cake is such a success so I thought I would swap blood orange juice for the lemon. I didn’t have yoghurt available so made my own buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to 125 mls of milk. This cake is not fancy, it’s just the right sort of plain with a simple blood orange syrup topping it. I like a slice with a cup of coffee but it would be great served with ice-cream as a dessert!
I wont pretend this is healthy in any way but it is good!
Blood Orange Cake
- 250 grams sugar
- 1 egg
- 125 ml buttermilk
- 100 ml olive oil
- 250 grams self-raising flour
- zest and juice of 3 blood oranges, reserve the juice for the syrup
for the glaze
- 60 grams sugar
- 100 ml blood orange juice
Grease and base line an 8 inch cake tin (I used a silicone one this time). Preheat oven to 350 F, 180 C, Gas 4.
- Whisk together the sugar and eggs.
- Mix in the buttermilk.
- Add the olive oil and blood orange zest.
- Fold in the flour.
- Pour mixture into cake tin.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean when inserted into middle of cake.
- While cake is baking make the syrup by putting the blood orange juice and sugar into a small sauce pan and heat until the sugar has melted, remove from the heat and leave until needed.
- When the cake is baked, take from the oven and while still hot prick cake surface with a toothpick and pour the blood orange syrup over the cake. Leave to cool in the tin.
Poached pears, that’s not something that usually rolls off of my tongue! Its a dessert that I would usually shun in favour of something more indulgent! However I’ve discovered how wrong I was to assume a poached pear would be an unsatisfactory choice! I had reason to make poached pears recently and I was surprised at how much I liked them!
I had the good fortune of coming across a very knowledgeable greengrocer when I went to buy my pears. Not only did he choose perfectly ripe pears for me, he gave me a step by step guide to poaching them, including talking me through making a cartouche from grease proof paper to keep the pears submerged in their poaching liquid (a cartouche is just a circle of grease proof paper). It turns out the greengrocer also has a restaurant and poached pears is one of their regular desserts so it was lucky for me that I chose to get my pears from him!
I was surprised that there are a few things in all the recipes I saw that weren’t mentioned so for the beginners out there I thought I would share my poached pear experience here!
- You will get burnt fingers, beware!
- Do get a pear or 2 extra just in case of an accident, they are more delicate than you would think.
- I would recommend you use a spoon to lift the stalk up out of the poaching liquid, grab the stalk then place the spoon under the bottom of the pear. As it’s so hot the tendency would be to lift the pear out of the liquid by the stalk, if you do you risk the stalk breaking off, leaving you with a damaged pear. Let the spoon support the pear’s weight but be careful not to pierce the pear with the spoon, gently does it!
- For even cooking and colouring the pears need to be under the liquid throughout the cooking. Be prepared to make extra poaching liquid if you have larger pears, the recipe I was using had nowhere near enough liquid, my pears were only half covered so I had to make more in a hurry!
- The pears should be covered but if you have added more liquid and they still aren’t covered or you don’t want to buy more wine just make sure you turn the pears around often to get even cooking.
These poached pears make a great dessert for the festive season, their ruby colour is so pretty! The pears make a nice light dessert and would make a nice change from all the heavier holiday foods. The poaching liquid is essentially a mulled wine so the house will be filled with the scent of Christmas as you make these.
Winter Spiced Poached Pears (adapted from this recipe)
- 6 pears, peeled but left whole with the stalk left on
- 1 bottle red wine (may need up to half of a 2nd bottle of wine if pears are particularly rotund)
- 750 ml water (may need another 250 ml if adding more wine for larger pears)
- 1 vanilla pod, halved length-ways and seeds scraped out
- 300 g sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks, each broken in two pieces
- 6 cloves
- Add the wine and water to a large pan along with the vanilla pod and seeds, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a simmer.
- Make a circle of grease proof paper to cover your pears while poaching.
- Lower the pears into the liquid adding more until the pears are covered. Place the cartouche (circle of grease proof paper) over the pears to keep them under the liquid. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the pears are tender all the way through (test using a cocktail stick).
- When tender remove the pears carefully from the liquid. When cooled the pears can be stored like this in a Tupperware in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- Bring the poaching liquid to a boil for around 10 minutes or until its reduced and syrupy. When cooled the syrup can also be stored in the fridge up to 2 days.
- When ready, serve the pears and syrup at room temperature. Simply place a pear on each plate and drizzle with some of the syrup. Serve with cream or creme fraiche.
This year I’m not cooking for Thanksgiving as we are dining at a pub called the Mayflower. Apparently the Mayflower is the pub from where the original pilgrims set off on their journey to America! I only found out about it this year, even though it’s not far from me! The pub celebrates Thanksgiving so I’m looking forward to having a traditional Thanksgiving meal there this year.
I also wont be cooking at Christmas this year as we will be in the snowy mountains of Vermont! It seemed a shame to let all these lovely recipes go by so I thought I would round-up some of my favourites to save for myself for future celebratory meals and also to share, maybe inspire with some ideas for your Thanksgiving (or Christmas) cooking.
A must for me, after many years of experimenting I’ve settled on dry brining my turkey. I think it really does produce the most tasty, succulent turkey meat. The method I use for the dry brine is called the “Judy Bird” and is so simple but does require you to be organised as the recommended brining time is 3 days. I admit I usually only brine for 2 days and it turns out fabulously.
Vegetarian main course option
When I came across this Butternut Asparagus Crespelle it sounded so good it had to be included in my dream Thanksgiving recipe round-up, it sounds fabulous!
The last gravy I made for Thanksgiving was this make ahead gravy and I would definitely recommend it. Making the gravy ahead of time is the perfect solution to that last-minute stress when everything is ready at the same time but you have to stir the gravy!
I love stuffing but so often I’m left stuffingless after discovering the stuffing contains sausage. As someone who doesn’t eat much meat it’s so disappointing to look forward to the stuffing only to discover meat hidden in it. I like to have 2 different stuffings if feeding a crowd and think its nice to offer a meat free stuffing. I love cornbread stuffing like this one from Love and Lemons.
I recently heard the term “stufffins” and just love with the idea! Its stuffing cooked in a muffin tin for individual portions, or stuffing muffins, what a fabulous idea! These will definitely be featuring on my next Thanksgiving table, although I don’t think I will be able to wait and will have to try them much sooner than that!
These are possibly my favourite dishes at Thanksgiving, I can get carried away and end up choosing too many! Some side dish recipes to catch my eye this year are as follows.
I love the look of these lovely Green Beans with Crisp Shallots from Mark Bittman they look delicious but also seem quick to make which is exactly what you want when it comes to the vegetable dishes for Thanksgiving.
I have spent many years tweaking my Cranberry Sauce recipe and its the one I always use, for Thanksgiving, Christmas and to give away.
Sweet potatoes are one of my favourite things about a Thanksgiving meal, these Rosemary and Garlic Mashed Sweet potatoes with kale sound amazing!
What about these Kale Stuffing Butternut Squash Stacks from Food to Glow?
Of course, my favourite part of a meal! The usual pumpkin pie doesn’t go down so well here but I like to keep the pumpkin theme and have had my eye on these Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifles for some time! This Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie is a fabulous alternative for the pumpkin haters!
And there you have it, my dream Thanksgiving spread! Wherever you are and whatever you do I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving!
I saw these on Pinterest last year, pumpkin time had passed for me so I kept the idea stored and now that “pumpkin time” has returned these were, of course, the first thing I wanted to make!
Please do make these! They are good, seriously good! The recipe was by the Blue eyed bakers and they say you will need “comfy pants”, indeed this is true! These cute little donuts are sweet and spicy with a hint of pumpkin pie, just perfect for kicking off autumn and pumpkin time!
Making baked donuts was a first for me, I wonder why have I never tried baked donuts before? I guess I’m not usually not a great donut fan as I find half way through you begin to taste the oil and the whole thing is reminiscent of fries! However with baked donuts they are more cakey and not oily. With mini baked donuts they are cute and the small size means less guilt (kinda, sorta!)
The recipe was in cups so for all those here in the UK I made the recipe and weighed all the ingredients in grams so you too can share in the delight that is the mini baked donut!
These donuts, as delicious and cute as they are do not store well, in fact not at all. You have a couple of hours at the most to enjoy these little treats, after that the sugar begins to melt! You can make the donuts ahead of time but don’t coat with the sugar until just before serving.
I pretty much followed the Blue Eyed Bakers recipe so have linked to that and just included the measurements in grams below. The only change I made was to leave out the cloves (husband is a hater) and I coated half of my donuts in plain sugar as cinnamon is not as popular here! I love cinnamon everything (does anyone remember those cinnamon toothpicks years ago?) but I am aware that as strange as it may be to me not everyone likes cinnamon as I do and actually the donuts themselves are quite cinnamon-y so the plain sugar-coating was equally good, these mini donuts really are my new favourite thing!
Mini Pumpkin Donuts
- 250 grams plain flour
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 90 mls vegetable oil
- 75 grams light muscovado sugar
- 1 egg
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 170 grams canned (or fresh, pureed) pumpkin
- 125 mls milk
for the sugar-coating (for half cinnamon sugar-coated donuts and half plain sugared donuts)
- 100 grams melted butter
- 130 grams sugar
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
For a mix of cinnamon sugared and plain sugared donuts mix 70 grams of the sugar with the cinnamon to coat one half of the donuts. Use the remaining sugar to coat the other half of the donuts.
- To see how to make these delightful donuts see here on the Blue Eyed Bakers blog
I have abstained from baking, particularly cakes for the last few weeks. Well one can only abstain for so long! It was a long weekend here last week and I wanted to make a cake! You would imagine that I would have known exactly what to bake but that was not the case, choosing which cake proved to be a hard decision. Lots of recipe perusing left me with a craving for an orange cake, lots more perusing led me to the discovery of orange and cardamom cakes! After all this perusing I was out of time and now didn’t have all the ingredients for any of the cakes I found so I improvised, using my Lemon Olive Oil cake recipe but swapping orange and cardamom for lemon and making my own buttermilk as I forgot to buy yoghurt! I could not have been more disorganised if Id tried!
Despite my disorganisation this cake was a triumph! Orange and cardamom are a match made in heaven! The smell of the fresh ground cardamom and the orange zest is amazing, if ever I get around to making my own body scrub this will be the scent I use! The cake is light and fluffy and very moist.
note : Making your own buttermilk, if you don’t have any, is really easy! Just stir 1 tbsp of lemon juice into 1 cup of milk, it will begin to thicken almost immediately, leave for 10 minutes and use instead buttermilk
Orange Cardamom Cake
- 200 grams (1 cup) caster sugar (I use unrefined)
- zest of 1 large orange (unwaxed if you can)
- 3 cardamom pods
- 2 eggs
- 220 grams (1.5 cups) self-raising flour
- 20o mls (3/4 cup) buttermilk
- 155 mls (2/3 cup) olive oil
- Pre heat your oven to 180 C, 350 F, Gas 4. Grease and base line a loaf tin.
- Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and grind until powdery using a pestle and mortar. Add to the sugar with the orange zest and using your fingers mix together well, this releases the oils in the zest and makes a wonderful fragrant mix.
- Whisk together the orange, cardamom sugar and the eggs, adding the eggs one at a time. I use my stand mixer for this.
- Mix in the buttermilk.
- Mix in the olive oil.
- Fold in the flour.
- Pour into prepared loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.
No one can fail to have seen the devastation caused by the storm called Sandy that recently hit and devastated parts of the east coast of America. Seeing the coverage on tv it was hard to hard to believe what I was seeing. Not just water damage but fires had broken out and so many people were without power. Some were able to stay in hotels while they waited for power to be restored but what happened to the others? I know it wouldn’t have been in my budget to be able to stay in a hotel at the drop of a hat. If I were one of the people whose houses were destroyed I honestly don’t know what I would do. My heart goes out to those poor people. Of course people lost more than just belongings, some also lost loved ones, such terrible sadness. From so far away all I can do is hold those people in my thoughts and wish them well.
Of course the news changes and attention moves to other stories. Those people without houses however are still living that life. Then I saw this post of Barb’s asking food bloggers to unite, show support and make a comfort dish on November 8th, something you would make for someone in need of a little help and maybe donate something to the various charities helping those affected by that terrible storm.
So that’s what I’m doing, today I’m sharing this recipe for apple crumble as part of the Food Bloggers Support for Sandy event organised by Barb from Creative Culinary and Jen Jenn Cuisine Of course it doesn’t just have to be today, the link up is open for the rest of November so join us!
Apple crumble seemed just the sort of dish that one would associate with comfort food. Of course something savoury would probably be more appropriate for someone without use of a kitchen but I figured there is always room for dessert! My version is quite generous with the crumble. I like to use unrefined muscovado sugar and cinnamon so its fragrant and sweet.
For the fruit filling
- 750 grams apples, about 6 large
- 30 grams unrefined muscovado sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
For the crumble
- 180 grams plain flour
- 120 grams unrefined muscovado sugar
- 100 grams unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 180 C, 350, F, Gas 4
- Peel and core the apples then slice them.Place in a bowl and mix with the sugar and cinnamon, seeing that all the apple slices are coated.
- To make the crumble rub together the flour, sugar and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Put the apples into an oven proof dish and sprinkle the crumble over the top of them until all the apples are covered.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is brown and crisp.
- Serve warm or cold with ice-cream, custard or cream.
If you feel inclined to make a donation here are some of the larger organizations that are helping the victims of Sandy.
- American Red Cross is providing food, shelter, and other forms of support to hurricane victims. You can donate directly to the Red Cross or you can also text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
- The Salvation Army is also focused on providing food, shelter, and support to victims, and takes donations for storm relief.
- Feeding America is providing food, water and supplies to those who need it as part of their disaster relief program.
If donating from the UK the above websites will not accept a UK address the British Red Cross also has a hurricane Sandy appeal.
Surely no one can disagree with the title I chose for the latest cake I made? I came across this cake a few months ago and thought it to honestly be one of the prettiest cakes I’d ever seen! There was even a tutorial on how to achieve this masterpiece. I stored all this information mentally, knowing one day I would have to make that cake.
Well that day arrived last week! It was my favourite 10-year-old girls birthday. Along with her two brothers, I have looked after this little girl since she was born. The last 12 years of my life not only have flown by but have been filled with these three wonderful children and what a blessing it has been. Sandwiched in between the two boys is Minnie, the sunshine of my life. That gorgeous birthday cake was my project for her 10th birthday cake.
Although I love baking, fancy cakes are not really my forte, I do like the cakes I make to look nice but I possess neither the patience or steady hand required to make delicate icing decorations. So this was a challenge for me!
Prior to making the cake I made up a batch of buttercream and following the tutorial video I practiced piping roses onto baking paper. I recommend doing this, if like me fancy icing is not usually your thing. On i am baker’s crusting buttercream page there are a lot of comments about changing shortening for butter. Concerns over melting and whether the butter would be able to hold its shape were worrying, but I have a problem with cakes that look nice but don’t taste nice and the thought of eating and feeding to the children raw shortening was not even a consideration so I made my roses with buttercream. It was a fairly warm day, at one point the kitchen got up to 25 c but the buttercream held its shape and even a couple of days later the last piece looked fine despite just been kept covered on the counter. So maybe if you live in a really hot climate and aren’t in an air-conditioned room butter may not be suitable but for me butter was no problem at all and definitely tastes better than shortening!
I made the sponges the day before I intended on decorating them, using Delia Smith’s basic sponge recipe. The buttercream I made on the day. I separated a little of the buttercream and mixed in some purple food colouring which I used to sandwich the two sponges together. I liked the idea of making the vertical layers seen on i am bakers blog and one day I will but for this time it really was too much for me to attempt along with the roses! So I settled on just adding a little colour to the buttercream in the middle of the cake. When the cakes were sandwiched together I gave them a thin coating of buttercream, spreading it as smoothly as possible. I then put the cake into the freezer for 30 minutes, this was an important step for me as it allowed any roses that I wasn’t happy with to be easily scraped off without damaging the crumb coat. It also allowed me time for a much needed coffee! To decorate with the roses I started on the side of the cake then did the top. This really gets easier as you go along, after the first 3 roses I knew it was all going to be ok and relaxed, getting speedier at piping the roses.
I was delighted with the results of this cake! It really wasn’t difficult to decorate, the tutorial video is brilliant, if I can do this then anyone can! This was a wonderful cake for visual impact but importantly it tasted good too, and the birthday girl? After blowing out the candles and staring at the cake for a while she turned to me and said ” I love you”.
The Most Beautiful Birthday Cake (adapted from this Rose cake from i am baker)
For the cake
I used this recipe from Delia Smith but instead of using a 7 inch cake pan I used an 8 inch cake pan and put all of the cake mix into it, I then repeated this, resulting in 2 larger sponges. I decided not to double up the ingredients as I’ve heard that by doing that you may get a heavier cake. So I made one sponge and while it was baking I prepared the other one.
For the frosting
I based the frosting on this recipe from i am baker, it is sweet and there is a lot but I wanted to be sure that I had enough for any mistakes! This makes more than enough, with some left over. I tried to keep it slightly drier by adding less butter and milk than the recipe which seemed to work well for me.
- 200 gram (7 oz) butter at room temperature
- splash of vanilla extract
- 500 gram (18 oz) icing (confectioners) sugar
- 60 ml (2 fl oz) milk
- Using a mixer or food processor cream together the butter and vanilla until well softened.
- Add the icing sugar in a few stages, stopping every now and then to scrape the sides of the bowl
- Add the milk a little at a time when the mix becomes too stiff.
Follow the video tutorial to decorate the cake