Friday, 2 March 2018

Almond Bread

If I can almost see the weekend from here, then I can almost smell the almond bread for weekend breakfasting from here too.

Almond Bread
slightly adapted from here
Makes two loaves

75g hot water
150g milk
50g olive oil
1 egg
15g fresh yeast
500g bakers flour
1 teaspoon salt
50g almond meal
150g slivered almonds
7 teaspoons caster sugar

Oil two 18 x 11 x 10 cm bread tins. Set aside.

Put the hot water, cold milk, olive oil, egg, yeast, flour and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix for 5 minutes, then rest for 1 minute. Add the almond meal and slivered almonds and mix on low for another minute. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for about 45 minutes. Gently and briefly knead the dough in the bowl and rest for a further 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into two even portions and shape them into balls, cover with a damp tea towel and leave them to rest for 25 minutes.

Lightly flour a work surface and press the dough balls into rectangles. Fold them into thirds, like you would a business letter, and then roll them into a fat sausage shape. Place the loaves, seam side down, into the prepared bread tins. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour until puffy.

Preheat the oven to 210C fan-forced.

Use a spray bottle to squirt some water into the hot oven to create some steam and quickly place the tins onto the middle shelf. Reduce the temperature to 180C and bake for 35 - 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn them out onto a wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Mediterranean Orange Cake with Cardamom Creme Anglaise

If I ever needed any excuse to eat cake, the fact that it's fresh out of the oven would be good enough for me.

Mediterranean Orange Cake with Cardamom Creme Anglaise
slightly adapted from here

For the Creme Anglaise:
500ml full cream milk
1 vanilla bean split in half lengthways and seeds scraped
3 cardamom pods, bruised
5 egg yolks
70g caster sugar

For the Cake:
180g almond meal
65g fresh breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon orange flower water
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
150g caster sugar
4 eggs
160ml vegetable oil 

Make the Creme Anglaise:
Heat the milk, vanilla bean and seeds and the cardamom pods in a saucepan over medium heat until almost boiling. Remove from the heat, discard the vanilla bean and set aside.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar until combined. While whisking, pour the warm milk over the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the stove and stir over low heat until it coats the back of the spoon (around 86C). Do not boil. Stain through a fine meshed sieve and set aside to cool. 

Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 170C. Lightly grease the base and sides of a 22cm round cake tin and line with baking paper, making sure the paper comes up 2cm above the top of the pan. Set aside.

Put the almond, breadcrumbs, baking powder and orange zest into a bowl and whisk to mix. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the sugar and eggs together until thick and pale. Gradually add the oil and orange blossom water and beat until well combined. Use a large metal spoon to fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  

Allow to stand in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack rack to cool.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Bundt Cake with Chocolate and Walnuts

This is one of those no-frills, quick-to-whip-up, "plain" cakes. They are inevitably far more delicious than they might look. Under promise, over deliver is the name of the game.

Bundt Cake with Chocolate and Walnuts

350g unsalted butter, at room temperature
350g caster suagr
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 eggs, at room temperature
½ cup buttermilk
450g plain flour
150g corn flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
200g chopped wanuts
100g chopped dark chocolate
Icing sugar, for dusting
Whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 24cm Bundt pan. Set aside.

Put the butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium high for about 5 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and buttermilk and mix to combine.

In a separate bowl, mix the plain flour, corn flour and baking powder together. Sift if over the butter mixture and gently fold it in. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the chopped chocolate and spoon in the remaining batter. Level the top and bake for about 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust liberally with icing sugar and serve with generous dollops of whipped cream.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Lamb Kefta

I know if I make meatballs for dinner, there'll be smiles all round. It doesn't matter what kind of meatball or what type of sauce they are in, the last ball in the pan will be fought over and the sauce mopped up with chunks of bread. Meatballs are my fallback position. You know those days when you pace up and down the supermarket aisles for ages, wondering what you are doing to make for dinner and nothing immediately presents itself as a viable option? Those are my meatball days. You can bet, when my head is cloudy and I'm struggling for meal ideas, there's definitely a chance of meatballs. (And yes, I apologise for that last sentence.)

Lamb Kefta
Serves 4 - 6
slightly adapted from here

For the Kefta:
600g ground lamb
1½ tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, minced
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon

For the Sauce:
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
150g moghrabieh
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large cinnamon quill
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
1 x 700g bottle passata
750ml chicken or beef stock
100g pine nuts

Toast the Moghrabieh and Pine Nuts:
In a large, wide pan over medium-low heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the moghrabieh and cook in the oil until golden and toasted. This will only take a few minutes. Add enough boiling water to cover the moghrabieh and boil for about 5 - 8 minutes until they are starting to become tender. Remove from the pan, drain and set aside.

Wipe the pan dry and toast the pine nuts until they too are golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Make the Kefta:
Put all the kefta ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Take 2 tablespoons of mixture and form into balls.

Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan you toasted the moghrabieh and pine nuts in over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook for about 4 - 5 minutes, turning regularly, until browned all over. Remove from pan and set aside.

Make the Sauce:
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan, lower the heat to medium low. Add the onions, garlic, cinnamon and cumin and cook for about 3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan. Be careful not to burn the spices. Add the chickpeas and the passata. Bring to boil and add the stock and simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes, until reduced by half. Return the meatballs to the pan and add the moghrabieh and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Summer Fruit Tart

I saw this tart on the cover of the latest Donna Hay magazine and knew I had to make it. Given that I have a house bursting with summer fruit, freshly picked berries and am always (always) prepared to make pastry... it was a no brainer. Not to mention a couple of baby birds (aka my sons) who are always (always) ready to eat ... I wonder where they get that from? (Shrugs IDK)

Summer Fruit Tart
slightly adapted from here

For the Pastry:
225g plain flour (I use Tipo "00")
55g caster sugar
100g cold unsalted butter
Good pinch of salt
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
60ml iced water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Filling:
40g almond meal
600g stone fruit, stones removed and cut into wedges (I used a mixture of white peaches, apricots and red plums)
250g fresh blueberries
55g vanilla 1 tablespoon extra for sprinkling
1 egg, lightly beaten

Make the Pastry:
Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor and blitz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the vinegar, water and vanilla and process until a dough forms. Turn out onto a work surface. bring it together into a ball and wrap it on plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

Make the Tart:
Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Set aside.

Put the stone fruit, blueberries and vanilla sugar into a large mixing bowl and toss to mix. Set aside.

Roll the pastry out between two sheets of baking paper until it is about 34cm round. Place it on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the almond meal, leaving a 5cm clearance around the edges. Pile the fruit mixture on top of the almond meal, leaving any juice that has collected in the bowl (you don't want your pastry to go soggy). Fold the border of the pastry up, creating a rim, roughly crimping as you go. Brush the pastry edges with the egg and sprinkle with the extra vanilla sugar. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to firm it up.

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes until the pastry is golden

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Simple Vegan Chocolate Cake

I have a KitchenAid mixer which I adore. It's an absolute treasure and a gift from husband. I love it and I use it almost every day. In fact, I don't think I could live without it. But on days when all I want to do is some gentle stirring, I make cakes like this one. It only requires a couple of mixing bowls and a saucepan and I get to have my cake and eat it too.

Simple Vegan Chocolate Cake
slightly adapted from here

For the Frosting:
60ml cold water
75g coconut butter (not coconut oil)
50g dark brown sugar
1½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
1½ tablespooons cocoa powder
150g dairy free dark chocolate, chopped

For the Cake:
225g plain four
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
75g cocoa powder
300g dark brown sugar
375ml hot water
75g coconut oil
1½ teaspoons cider vinegar

Make the Frosting:
Put all the frosting ingredients except the chopped chocolate into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once everything has dissolved turn off the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Leave for a minutes, then give it a stir. It will be smooth and shiny. Set aside to cool.

Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 180C and slide a baking sheet in to heat up.

Line the bottom of a 20cm round springform cake pan with baking paper. Set aside.

Put the flour, baking soda, salt and espresso powder into a mixing bowl and stir to mix.

In a separate bowl, stir the sugar, water, coconut oil and vinegar until the oil has melted. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 minutes or until the cake comes away from the sides of the pan.

Remove from the oven and leave the cake in its tin to cool on a wire rack.

Frost the Cake:
Give the frosting a stir. It should be a good spreading consistency buy now. Spread the frosting over the unmoulded cake and use a offset palette knife to ease it to the edges. Leave the cake in its tin for 30 minutes for the frosting to set before unmoulding and slicing.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Sticky Gingerbread

'Tis the season to be full of gingerbread... regardless of the actual season. If you live in the Southern hemisphere, you feel me, right?

Sticky Gingerbread
slightly adapted from here

225g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
115g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
115g molasses
115g golden syrup
115g dark muscovado sugar
275ml full cream milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a large loaf pan and line it with baking paper. Set aside. I use my largest loaf pan which is 3 litre capacity.  It's probably a bit too big, but better than trying to cram too much batter in a smaller pan and having the inevitable spill-over. Just use the biggest pan you've got and don't fill it right up to the rim. Or, the other option is to make two smaller cakes, in which case cooking times will vary.

Put the molasses and golden syrup into a small pan and warm it gently until runny. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a separate pan, heat the milk and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm.

Put the flour, baking soda and spices into a food processor and blitz for about 10 seconds to mix. Add the butter and blitz briefly until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs. Tip into a large mixing bowl. Add the milk mixture and whisk, then quickly add the molasses mixture, followed by the egg. Whisk until it is a smooth batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 - 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin before turning out. Wrap the loaf in a fresh piece of baking paper and then in foil and leave for a day before slicing. Store in an airtight container. It will get stickier the longer it is kept.