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Monday, 31 May 2010

Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake

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Sometimes you need a little bit of extra love.... you need to know that someone is thinking of you.... and be reminded of home with something special.

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At the moment I have a son who is doing his GCSEs and another who is away at university with his first year exams looming. I can pamper the one at home with his favourite treats, making the revision a little more bearable. The one away has to make do with a flying visit, dinner out and a package of (mainly chocolate) goodies to aid his long revision sessions.

Nigella Lawson has a recipe for a quadruple chocolate loaf cake in her book 'Feast', it's the perfect cake for those wanting a good fix of chocolatey deliciousness. There's cocoa and dark chocolate in the cake, chocolate syrup to drench the cake and sliced chocolate to top it off.

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Try to get the syrup into the holes

A disaster occurred when I was taking the cake out of the oven, I dropped the tin and most of the cake flew out, decorating the floor. But this turned out to be a good thing. Why? Because I had been measuring and baking so many different things that morning I'd forgotten to add the sugar to the cake mixture. Urgh! Thankfully, this cake is super easy to make and the second one came out perfectly.

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Obviously I couldn't cut into the cake, but here is one that I made last year, you can see the chocolate syrup running through the cake

Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
Nigella's recipe uses a food processor to blitz all the ingredients together, I used a hand-held electric mixer instead. I also melted the chocolate for the main part of the cake.
You will need a large loaf tin, mine was 23cm x 14cm, 7cm deep and Nigella uses one that measures 21cm x 11cm and 7.5cm deep.

For the cake:
200g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g cocoa powder
275g caster sugar
175g unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
80 ml soured cream - or substitute double cream
175g dark chocolate, melted - I used half dark and half milk chocolate
125ml boiling water

For the syrup:
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
125ml water
100g caster sugar

To top the cake:
1 small bar of dark chocolate, cut into slivers - I used milk chocolate

Line the cake tin with non-stick baking parchment and preheat the oven to 170ºC. Melt the chocolate for the cake in a glass bowl either in a microwave or set over a pan of simmering water.

Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream into a large bowl and using an electric hand whisk, start whisking the mixture together. Add the melted chocolate and gradually add the boiling water. Whisk until you have a lovely glossy mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and pop it into the oven. Bake for about an hour, it may need more or less time. Check with a metal skewer, insert it into the cake and if it comes out clean it's ready.

While the cake is cooking, put the syrup ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, you want a reduced liquid, more of a caramelized syrup.

When the cake has cooked, remove it from the tin, keeping the paper on and put it onto a cooling rack. Make some holes in the top of the cake and pour the syrup as evenly as possible over the cake, trying to get it to run into the holes.

When the cake has completely cooled, you can remove the paper and put it onto a serving plate. Slice the small bar of chocolate into slivers and scatter it over the top of the cake before serving.

Printable Recipe

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Chocolate = comfort

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This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2010 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Mini Lemon Meringue Tartlets

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One of the ingredients I use most in my baking is sugar, so I was delighted to be sent a box of various cane sugars from Tate & Lyle.

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Tate & Lyle is proud to be the first sugar company in the UK committed to making all their retail sugar bags Fair Trade certified. They have an informative website, 'Taste & Smile', which also includes a recipe section. Facebook pages for products, companies and blogs are popping up daily, and there is an active Tate & Lyle Facebook page called "We Love Baking", where you can discuss baking, show off your own recipes and post photos - I spotted some wonderful looking cakes!

We love baking image

I was fascinated to learn that the Tate Gallery was named after Henry Tate, who in 1889 donated his collection of 65 contemporary paintings to the Government, on the condition that a gallery dedicated to British art was built. The Tate & Lyle sugar refinery is still in the original location, on the banks of the Thames in East London. The sugar that is transported by ships can be unloaded directly into the refinery, thus reducing the carbon emissions associated with long road journeys.

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Using Tate & Lyle sugars, I made some little lemon meringue tarts, perfect for an afternoon tea party. If you read this blog regularly you will know that I love making pastry, and my favourite sweet pastry recipe is Dori Greenspan's - a tender, crisp pastry that, when baked, is actually good enough to eat naked! Pastry cases can be stored in an airtight container for a number of days until needed, as can the meringues. Lemon curd can be stored in the fridge for several weeks. All that is needed is a quick assembly of the tarts before serving.

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These meringues are the crisp, crunchy kind, but you can use soft meringue or substitute whipped cream if you prefer

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Lemon Meringue Tartlets
The amount of pastry depends upon your tartlet size, as does the meringue and lemon curd.
Lemon Curd - I used Delia's recipe

Sweet Tart Dough
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

8oz plain flour
2oz Tate & Lyle's icing sugar
4oz butter, cut into cubes
pinch salt
1 large egg yolk

Using a food processor, blend the flour, icing sugar and pinch of salt with the cubes of butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and pulse gently until the pastry comes together. If the pastry is not binding properly, your egg yolk may not have been big enough, so add a little water or milk, a teaspoon at a time until it does come together.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, roll it out fairly thinly and cut out rounds to fit your tartlet tin. Prick the pastry bottoms with a fork and put the tartlet trays into the freezer for at least 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF and bake for about 15-20 minutes until nicely browned.

Meringues - or substitute wipped cream

2 egg whites
100 g Tate & Lyle's caster sugar

Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment or non-stick baking paper.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff, add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking well for about 1 minute after each addition.
Pipe or spoon the meringue mixture into little conical shapes onto the non-stick paper.
Bake in the oven at 110ºC (225º F) for about 1 hour (they may need more), changing the position of the trays half way through the cooking - don’t let them brown.
Cool on a wire rack.
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The granulated sugar makes a fabulous caramelized sugar topping on a crème brûlée or in this case, rice pudding

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This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2010 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Wrapped Baked Asparagus with Parmesan

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Look for firm, green spears with tight, crisp tips

British asparagus season is here! From 24th April to about the 21st of June, you can enjoy the best asparagus in the world, and I came across one of the best recipes for it in the universe! I found it in The Times Magazine from chef Jeremy Lee, baked asparagus with Parmesan. The asparagus is wrapped in feuilles de brick, a Tunisian pastry similar to filo which you can find in packs of ten sheets at Waitrose.

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Wrapped Baked Asparagus with Parmesan
Recipe adapted from Jeremy Lee

The original recipe says to boil the asparagus spears furiously until tender, but I think it's better to just blanch the asparagus for up to half a minute (depending on the thickness) as it's then going to be baked for 7-8 minutes and I prefer it to remain crisp.

20 asparagus spears
1 packet feuilles de brick (or sub with filo pastry)

100g unsalted butter, melted

35g freshly grated Parmesan
A few sprinkles of chilli flakes - optional - my little addition

Sea salt and freshly milled pepper

Peel the stalks if the asparagus is tough skinned. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and blanch the asparagus for up to half a minute or so. Remove from the boiling water and lay on a plate to cool.

Open the pastry sheets and remove one at a time from the packet. Cut in half and brush lightly with butter. Sprinkle on the Parmesan, a few chilli flakes if using and season with salt and pepper. Lay a spear of asparagus along the edge of the pastry and roll it as tightly as possible. Place on a baking tray, you may need a couple of trays. Repeat with the remaining asparagus and place the trays in the fridge while you warm up the oven. These can be done in advance, just cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge until you need them.

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 5.

Place the trays into the hot oven and bake for about 7-8 minutes until golden brown. Pile the spears on a plate and grate fresh Parmesan all over and serve straight away.

(Printable Recipe)

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This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2010 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Kellogg's Football Promotion

Something amusing happened the other week, I had a phone call from a guy trying to locate our house so he could deliver something (I hadn't ordered anything!) When he turned up a bit later, we discovered that he had dialed the wrong number and the parcel wasn't for me after all.

Not half an hour later, there was a knock at the door and another delivery man was there with a rather large box in his hands! It was for ME! I hadn't ordered this either, but when I opened it I had to laugh as I saw the contents. It was a box, divided into two parts, with 'Love Football' on one side and 'Hate Football' on the other side.

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On the 'Love Football' side there were all footie related items, while on the 'Hate Football' side there were loads of girly things, perfect for a pampering session, along with a promotional box of Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Bites.

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I don't need to remind anyone that the World Cup is looming and the Kellogg's promotion can be found at their feast of football website - look for the promotional packs, collect codes and claim rewards. The promotion runs until July 2010 and will feature on packs of Kellogg's Crunchy Nut, Crunchy Nut Bites, Crunchy Nut Clusters, Crunchy Nut Nutty, Kellogg's Corn Flakes and Frosties.

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Not a cereal I would usually buy, but I was pleasantly surprised and instead of having them with milk, I put a couple of handfuls into a bag and ate them as a snack when I went out.

Do you love football or hate it???

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This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2010 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.