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Archive for the ‘desserts’ Category

I posted a recipe about a loaf of bread a few days ago, mentioning that it’s the perfect bread to have with those early autumn stews. Well, it turns out I’m not yet ready for those early autumn stews. I still, inexplicably, long for strawberries, cold watermelon, summery salads & even more summery barbecues. I also wish I could turn back the time & have that missed summer holiday at a small, distant greek island… and mostly, I long for the sea. The closer I got to my longings this summer was a dip in a swimming pool here in London, when I was 9 months pregnant (it was wonderful, but when it’s the aegean you’re longing for, a swimming pool in North London simply won’t cut it).

So here I am again posting another summer recipe, taken from Tessa Kiros’ mouthwatering book ‘Falling cloudberries’. Kiros describes this as a finish cake… but I think it’s suitable for a summer celebration (or, ok, an early-autumn-wishing-it-were-summer celebration) anywhere in the world. It’s a delicious, delicate & light cake. It’s also easy to make. Highly recommended!

Sipi’s strawberry cake (from Tessa Kiros’ Falling cloudberries: A world of family recipes’)

Ingredients:

  • 220 gr (1 3/4 cups) cake flour or plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 180 gr (3/4 cup) sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 180 gr butter, melted
  • 185 ml (3/4 cup) warm milk
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 800 gr strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 750 ml (3 cups) thick double cream

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (gas mark 4)
  • grease & flour a 22 cm springform cake tin, or a bundt pan
  • put the flour & sugar in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of the baking powder
  • Mix in the butter & then stir in the milk
  • Add the egg yolks & vanilla & beat in well
  • Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, incorporating the rest of the baking powder when the eggs have started fluffing up
  • Fold the whites into the cake mixture
  • Pour the batter into the cake tin & bake for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean & the top is deep golden & crisp
  • Remove from the oven & leave to cool a bit before turning out onto a rack
  • When cool, slice the cake in half horizontally & put the bottom half on a large serving plate
  • Clean the strawberries& hull them (leave a few unhulled, if you prefer to see them that way on the top of the cake)
  • Dice about half the strawberries & sprinkle with a little lemon juice & 1 tablespoon of the icing sugar
  • Whip the cream into stiff peaks with the remaining icing sugar
  • Mix the diced strawberries with about a third of the whipped cream & spoon over the bottom of the cake
  • Put the other half of the cake on top & thickly spoon the remaining cream over the top & side, then decorate with the rest of the strawberries.
  • This is best eaten immediately. Any remains will keep for a day in the fridge.
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October is here, and it’s getting colder and colder by the day here in London. I’m already nostalgic for the summer- not that it was a particularly bright & sunny one! But it was the summer during which my little boy was born, & now that special time has passed & the newborn baby is a smiley two month old. In honour of those days just before my baby came to our world, I decided to re-start my blogging with one of the very last things I cooked & ate during those warm (well…in a manner of speaking) summer days of waiting. A few days after I made this ice-cream, true to the Hollywood-movie tradition, my waters broke in the middle of the night.

Nigella Lawson’s- or Marcella Hazan’s- world’s best chocolate ice cream (From Nigella’s ‘How to eat’, and originally from ‘Marcella’s Kitchen’)

Ingredients:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 130 gr plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 500 ml full-fat milk
  • 100 gr dark chocolate (min.70% cocoa solids)
  • 40 gr cocoa (best quality available)

Method:

  • Whisk the yolks & 130 gr of the sugar in a bowl until thick & creamy, foaming pale ribbons when you lift the whisk
  • Bring the milk to the boil & add it to the beaten yolks, pouring slowly & beating all the while
  • Melt the chocolate in a bowl above (but not touching) some simmering water in a pan
  • Then whisk this, followed by the cocoa, into the egg & milk mixture
  • Pour the chocolate-custard mixture into a pan & cook on a low to moderate heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until everything’s smooth & amalgamated & beginning to thicken (don’t cook until it’s really custard-like, but slightly less)
  • Put 2 tablespoons of sugar with 2 teaspoons of water into a thick bottomed saucepan & turn the heat to high
  • Make a caramel: heat this until it’s dark brown & molten (you are after the taste of burnt sugar)
  • As it browns, whisk it into the chocolate custard; don’t worry if it crystallizes on contact as the whisking will dissolve it
  • Turn into a bowl to cool
  • Then chill in the fridge for about 20 mins (or longer if that’s more convenient) before churning in your ice-cream maker according to instructions

This is an exceptionally delicious chocolate ice-cream, with a dark smoky taste (the smokiness due to the added caramel). Make it as soon as possible, before the autumn cold really hits you, and wave a last goodbye to the summer…

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A few days ago a friend was telling me that, from what he’s noticed, there are two desserts that women consistently love & men consistently dislike (or even hate). One of them is carrot cake. The other, cheesecake. So in his opinion there are clear gender differences in food preferences. Interesting thought. He did say that he makes an exception for this cheesecake. It’s a chocolate cheesecake, and so I don’t know if cheesecake fanatics would consider it a ‘true’ cheesecake. However, it’s delicious & makes for a good summer dessert, as it’s not too heavy (taste-wise, because calorie wise is another story!) And since it’s very chocolatey it appeals to those men who scoff at classic white cheesecakes.

Chocolate cheesecake (from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a domestic goddess’)

Ingredients:

  • 125 gr. digestive biscuits
  • 50g unsalted butter, very soft or melted
  • 500g cream cheese
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 175ml sour cream
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon lime juice (to taste)
  • 150 gr. dark chocolate, melted

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180C
  • Put the kettle on to boil
  • Melt the chocolate either in a microwave or double boiler, and set aside to cool slightly.
  • Process the biscuits & melted butter together & press in the bottom of a 20 cm springform tin, then put it in the fridge until the filling is ready
  • Beat the cream cheese to soften it, then mix in the sugar
  • Add the eggs & yolks, one by one, beating in after each addition
  • Pour in the sour cream & the lime juice & beat until smooth & creamy (if you want it a bit sourer, add a bit more lime juice)
  • Gently fold in the melted chocolate, you want the cheesecake marbled with dark chocolate, so don’t combine fully
  • Take the springform pan out of the fridge and line the outside of the pan with a good layer of strong foil, and then another layer over that. This will protect it from the water bath
  • Sit the springform pan in a roasting pan and pour in the cheesecake filling. Fill the roasting pan with recently-boiled water from the kettle to come about halfway up the cake pan, and bake in the over for about an hour. The top of the cheesecake should be set, but underneath should still have a wobble to it
  • Peel away the foil and sit the cheesecake in its pan on a rack to cool. Put in the fridge once it’s no longer hot, and leave to set until you want to unmould it. Let it lose its chill before unspringing to serve

If you want to try any other chocolate cheesecake recipes, here are a few possibilities:

PS- I’m still waiting for my baby to arrive, so no news from my side of things. It’s getting a bit tiring at this point, I really want him to hurry up & appear! Enough with being pregnant (especially in this unusual London heat).

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Those of you who have been following this blog from its beginning (which was very very recently, after all!) must know by now about my obsession with Nigella Lawson recipes. Here’s why I like them: they work (most of the time); and they’re fun to read about, before actually cooking them. After all, cooking is as much about imagining & thinking & planning, as it is about actually getting round to doing it.

This is one of Nigella’s cakes that I’ve been meaning to try for ages, but never dared! It always seemed far too indulgent & sugar-loaded to me… and it is! The perfect opportunity presented itself during a weekend with two friends where we did loads of indulgent things: loads of cooking (& eating!), long chats until the early hours of the morning, and watching sex & the city at the cinema. At some point we decided we wanted to make the most chocolatey of chocolate cakes that we could find… & we chose this. It lived up to its promise.

Chocolate Fudge cake (from ‘Nigella Bites’. Nigella herself adapted it from Tish Boyle’s ‘Diner desserts’)

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 400g plain flour
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 50g best quality cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 142ml/small tub sour cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 125ml corn oil
  • 300ml chilled water

For the fudge icing:

  • 175g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 275g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
  • Butter and line the bottom of two 20cm sandwich tins.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt.
  • In another bowl or wide-necked measuring jug whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended.
  • Using a freestanding or handheld electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and corn oil until just blended (you’ll need another large bowl for this if using the hand whisk; the freestanding mixer comes with its own bowl), then beat in the water. (We did this by hand, a mixer- handheld or freestanding- is not really needed).
  • Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed.
  • Add the egg mixture, and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared tins.
  • Bake the cakes for 50-55 minutes, or until a cake-tester comes out clean.
  • Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.
  • To make the icing, melt the chocolate in the microwave – 2-3 minutes on medium should do it – or in a bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, and let cool slightly.
  • In another bowl, beat the butter until it’s soft and creamy (we used a hand held mixer for this) and then add the sieved icing sugar and beat again until everything’s light and fluffy.
  • As Nigella says: ‘I know sieving is a pain, the one job in the kitchen I really hate, but you have to do it or the icing will be unsoothingly lumpy’ (so make sure you do sieve the icing sugar!).
  • Then gently add the vanilla and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth.
  • Sandwich the middle of the cake with about a quarter of the icing, and then ice the top and sides, too, spreading and smoothing with a rubber spatula.

…And then you eat this. Preferably with no distractions like starter or main course. Just go straight to the dessert. Is lovely with vanilla ice-cream or unsweetened whipped cream.

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One more lemon cake

I’ve said it again, I love lemon & I use it all the time: in desserts, in main courses, in breakfast-baking, generally, in everything that I can think of. So without further ado, here’s one more cake, this time made with lemon & sour cream, chosen because I wanted to use up a carton of good quality sour cream I had in my fridge. This cake doesn’t strictly belong to any of my list-goals, as it wasn’t taken from a blog nor a cookbook, but it was so delicious, that I thought what the hell, I should write about it.

Just one note: It tastes better on the day after you’ve baked it, because the lemon syrup takes some time to be absorbed, so it’s a great make-ahead cake. I served it with creme fraiche & fresh raspberries, but whipped cream would also be nice, and of course any kind of berries, or indeed other fruits too, depending on season.

Lemon sour-cream pound cake (recipe discovered on the Oprah Winfrey website– quite an unlikely place as I’ve never visited this website before!)

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 225 gr. unsalted butter (1 cup), at room temperature
  • 3 cups caster sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • grated zest of 2 lemons (preferably unwaxed & organic lemons, just to be on the safe side)
  • 1 cup sour cream (about 250 ml), at room temperature

Lemon syrup

  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (I used juice from 2 lemons, you can use more or less according to taste)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • zest of 1 lemon (I skipped this for the syrup

Method:

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 160-170 degrees celcius (325 Fahrenheit)
  • Butter and flour a 10-inch (I used a 23 cm) fluted tube (Bundt) pan, and tap out the excess flour
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb of soda and salt together; set aside
  • Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a hand-held electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and zest
  • On low speed, add the flour in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour
  • Beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula
  • Spread evenly in the pan
  • Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours
  • Prepare the syrup: Bring the lemon juice, zest, water and sugar to a boil over high heat and cook until it is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes
  • Allow syrup to cool before drizzling onto the cake
  • Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes
  • Drizzle half the syrup over the cake (use as much syrup as you want, but remember that initially it’ll taste very lemony- even TOO lemony- but after one day the syrup will be absorbed all through the cake, and it will taste less lemony, and much more subtle)
  • Invert onto the rack and brush with the remaining syrup. Cool completely

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This is a suggestion from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to eat’ which I thought I’d try: I’ve been curious about the taste for a long time. It’s very simple. Just add some good quality balsamic vinegar to a bowl of fresh strawberries. It might be an idea to leave the strawberries ‘sitting’ in the balsamic vinegar for a while (say, one hour) before eating.

Some food-writers, for example Antony Worrall Thompson at the BBC food website, Maki at Just Hungry, or the AllRecipes website, suggest you add some sugar to the strawberries as well, or even a tiny bit of black pepper and some fresh mint as well. I didn’t, I decided that I would keep things as simple as possible since it was the first time I was trying this.

The verdict? I really liked this. The balsamic vinegar adds a robust, deep, strong taste to the strawberries, but doesn’t take away any of their ‘strawberriness’ or freshness. This would be fantastic served with plain vanilla ice cream, or indeed as an accompaniment to a simple cake. I’ll definitely be having this again.

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Moving on to goal 155… which is a fun & indulgent one: making one dessert from someone else’s blog every two weeks. I chose a recipe which I’d bookmarked a while ago: Yoghurt cake from Jessica at Smalltime Cooks (originally from Clotilde at Chocolate & Zucchini). This cake is delicious and very very simple to make. I used low-fat greek yoghurt instead of the stipulated full-fat, because that’s what I had in the house. As soon as it was out of the oven, I gobbled up a slice with some black cherry jam… I highly recommend the combination (but you can use any jam, of course).

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil, plus a bit to grease pan (for greasing the pan, I used a light-olive-oil spray which I had)
  • 1 cup plain unsweetened whole milk yogurt (I used 0% greek yoghurt and it still turned out delicious)
  • 1 cup caster sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon light or amber rum (optional but recommended)
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • Good pinch of fine sea sal

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit)
  • Grease the sides of a 10-inch round cake pan or springform pan (I used an 8-inch springform pan) with oil and line the bottom with parchment paper if the pan is not springform
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt and sugar
  • Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition
  • Add the vanilla, oil, and rum, if using, and whisk again
  • In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  • Pour the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture, and whisk until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean
  • Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let stand for 10 minutes.
  • Run a knife around the pan to loosen. If you’re using the springform pan, unclasp the sides. Otherwise, flip the cake onto a plate and flip it back on the rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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