Lemon and sugar brittle cake

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Ingredients

Cake

  • 160 self raising flour
  • 120+60g caster sugar (separated)
  • 4 eggs (yolk and white separated)
  • 80ml water
  • 80ml vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest from 2 lemons
  • 800ml double cream

Lemon curd

  • 2 lemons
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk

Sugar brittle

  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp bicarbonate

Cake

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C (356°F) or 160°C (320°F) in a fan assisted oven
  2. Mix flour, 120g caster sugar together and mix
  3. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the egg yolks, water, vanilla extract, lemon zest and vegetable oil
  4. Mix until the ingredients have been mixed and forms a smooth batter
  5. Beat  egg white with electric whisk until it is white and foamy
  6. Add the 60g caster sugar, one tbsp at a time to the egg white
  7. Continue whisking until the egg white is shiny and forms stiff peaks
  8. Add 1/3 of the egg white to the cake batter and mix it in
  9. Add 1/3 of the remaining egg white and very gently fold it into the batter, avoid releasing the air bubbles
  10. Add the remaining egg white and again, fold it in gently
  11. Once the egg white is fully incorporated, pour the cake batter into a 21cm round cake tin (without baking paper)
  12. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until well risen and skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake
  13. Turn the cake tin upside down and let the cake cool in the tin on a wired rack for at least an hour (if you had used baking paper, the cake would fall out of the tin during cooling)

Lemon curd

  1. Prepare lemon curd during cake cooling
  2. Mix lemon juice and zest from 2 lemons, butter and caster sugar together in a heatproof bowl
  3. Stand the bowl over simmering water in a saucepan, avoid touching the bottom of the bowl with the water below
  4. Once the sugar and butter have melted and incorporated, beat the eggs gently and add it into the lemon mixture and whisk immediately
  5. Whisk continuously for about 5 minutes and let it stand over simmering water for another 10-15 minutes (mix every 2-3 minutes)
  6. Cook the lemon curd over simmering water until it has slightly reduced in volume and coats the back of a metal spoon
  7. Take the lemon curd off the heat and let it cool

Sugar brittle

  1. Add honey to sugar in a saucepan and mix
  2. Heat until sugar has melted and turns to a dark yellow/very light brown
  3. Add bicarbonate and mix immediately
  4. Cook for a minute
  5. Pour in a baking tray covered with baking baking and let it cool and solidify

Assembly

  1. Whisk double cream until it stiffens, but not so much that it turns to butter
  2. Slice the cake horizontally to 2-3 equal slices (depends on what you can manage)
  3. Cover the slices with a layer of cream and a thin layer of lemon curd and put the slices on top of each other
  4. Pipe the remaining cream on the outside of the cake
  5. Break the sugar brittle into small pieces and use them to decorate the cake
  6. Spread the remaining lemon curd evenly over the cake

 

 

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Green Day’s American Idiot: UK national tour

Have I ever been a big fan of Green Day? Not really. Did I find this show entertaining? Well, not particularly either. You can say this musical is THE definition of a jukebox musical. Very often, you’ll find a storyline strung together with dialogues and broken up with songs that are of little importance to the progression of the story in these jukebox musicals. Of course, some of the shows of this genre are actually very well done, for example Beautiful: the Carole King Musical and Sunny Afternoon.

What about the American Idiot? Well, I sat through the entire show and didn’t really manage to catch the name of more than 1 or 2 of the characters. Furthermore, I had very little idea as to what was going on in act 1. The issue is that they tried to squeeze too many songs into a very short period of time and provided little to no description of the events taking place. My interpretation of the story is largely based on educated guesses and there were certainly many MANY head scratching moments.

The overhead TV that appeared on and off throughout the play could have been used more effectively. For the most part, what was displayed on TV had no connection to the events taking place on stage. In fact, I believe the TV screen was playing a random footage of stars and galaxy at one point.  Whatsername was hitting on a metal gate to attract Johnny’s attention in Act 1 soon after they met. The noise was very quiet and could have been missed easily. This could have been made much louder to attract the audiences attention.

Despite all that, some of the musical numbers were good. I personally enjoyed “Wake me up when September ends”, “Jesus of Suburbia” and the titled song “American idiot”. This show didn’t feel like a musical at all. If anything, it’s more suitable to describe it as a scripted rock concert. One with seats and no shouting. In conclusion, a very bizarre and strange experience.

Score: 1.5/5

 

Spiced pear and chocolate truffle tart

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This is a very simple recipe and can be finished in about 2 hours or less if you are working very efficiently. It’s delicious and a wonderful a dessert to any dinner. I hope you’ll enjoy this bake.

Ingredients

You will need to make a shortcrust pastry, the recipe for which can be found here. Alternatively, you can also purchase pre-made shortcrust pastry if you don’t fancy making it yourself.

Filling

  • 310g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
  • 270g double cream
  • 180g milk (full fat or semi skimmed)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 30g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 conference pears
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 1tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1tsp caster sugar
  1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C (392°F) or 180°C (356°F) in a fan assisted oven
  2. Roll out pastry to about 2-3mm thick
  3. Place pastry into a 23cm spring form tart tin and press the pastry along the edges into the tin
  4. Use a fork to prick holes on the base of the pastry
  5. Layer a piece of baking paper on the pastry and cover with baking beans
  6. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes and trim off the excess pastry from the edges of the tin
  7. Return pastry to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes
  8. Remove baking beans and baking paper and bake for another 5 minutes or until the bottom of the pastry is dry
  9. Take the pastry out, but keep the oven on
  10. The pears can be prepared in advance. Half fill a saucepan with water and mix in the sugar and lemon juice and bring the water to a simmer
  11. Peel and half the conference pears and put it into the simmering water, cover the saucepan with a lid and boil for about 30 minutes or until soft
  12. Take the pears out of the saucepan and drain any excess water
  13. Remove the core and stem from the pears
  14. In a saucepan, mix the milk and double cream and bring it to a simmer
  15. Place the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl and add the scorched milk and cream to the chocolate, allow the chocolate to sit in the hot milk for 5 minutes
  16. Whisk chocolate until it has completely melted
  17. Whisk in the salt, butter and egg yolks until completely incorporated into the chocolate
  18. Pour the chocolate mix into the tart case and place the pears inside
  19. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the filling is set and there is a slight wobble in the centre
  20. Take the tart out of the oven and let it cool for about 2 hours
  21. Heat the apricot jam and brush it onto the pears in the tart
  22. Mix the caster sugar and mixed spice and sprinkle onto the apricot jam coated pears
  23. Dust the tart with cocoa powder if desired

 

 

Easter cake

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I have been terribly busy, so it’s been 3 months since I last posted. But for this joyous occasion, I decided to pick up my apron again. I find this to be a nice alternative to the very sweet and full of marzipan Simnel cake for Easter. It’s fairly quick to make and the children will most likely love the mini eggs decoration!

Ingredients

Sponge

  • 4 medium eggs
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g plain flour
  • 25g unsalted butter

Filling and decoration

  • 400ml milk (full fat or semi skimmed)
  • 3 egg yolks + 1 whole egg
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 70g cornflour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 70g unsalted butter
  • 150ml double cream
  • 100g hazelnut
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • bag of mini eggs

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C (160C fan)
  2. Line the bottom and sides of a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper
  3. Put 4 eggs and 125g caster sugar in a large mixing bowl and use the medium setting of electric whisk and beat for about 5 minutes. Increase the speed to high and whisk until it is pale and have at least tripled in volume (should also leave a trail of ribbon when you take the whisk out). This will take about 10-15 minutes depending on your settings
  4.  While the eggs and sugar are mixing, melt the butter in microwave, just enough to melt it and let it cool on the the side
  5. Add the melted butter and sift 125g flour into the egg mixture
  6. Use a large spoon to gently fold in the flour and butter until completely incorporated
  7. Gently pour the cake batter into the baking tin and bake for 30-35 minutes. The sides of the cake should start to shrink away from the baking parchment and the skewer comes up clean when inserted into the cake
  8. Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, remove the baking paper and let the cake cool on a wired rack. Rotating the cake every couple of minutes in the 1st 30 minutes to prevent it from sticking to the wire
  9. Once the cake is cold, slice it in half horizontally
  10. Prepare the filling by mixing the egg yolks and whole egg with 120g caster sugar
  11. Beat in the corn flour into the egg/sugar mixture
  12. Put milk in saucepan and put it over medium heat until it starts to simmer
  13. Add a small amount of the hot milk to the egg mix and whisk continuously while adding
  14. Continue adding the hot milk to the egg mix until all the milk has been added. Remember to whisk continuously
  15. Return the whole mixture into the saucepan and put it over medium heat, whisk continuously until it thickens
  16. Add in the vanilla extract and the butter into the pastry cream and take it off the heat
  17. Beat in the butter until it is completely incorporated
  18. Put the pastry cream to the side and let it cool to room temperature
  19. Beat the double cream until it thickens and fold it into the cooled pastry cream
  20. Spread the pastry cream onto 1 slice of cake and place the other slice on top
  21. Cover the rest of the cake with the pastry cream and leave it in the fridge
  22. Put the hazelnuts into a frying pan and add sprinkle icing sugar onto them, heat until the icing sugar has melted and coated the hazelnuts with a light layer of caramel
  23. Take the caramelised hazelnut off the heat and let it cool
  24. Chop the hazelnut into small fragments and use them to decorate the cake (on the side only or all over, it’s up to you)
  25. To make spun sugar, heat 250g granulated sugar in a light colour saucepan until the sugar has melted (I prefer the dry method, i.e. you heat the sugar without water. You are far less likely to get sugar crystals this way, but the caramel will form and burn slightly quicker)
  26. Once the caramel is a light golden colour, switch off the heat, it will continue to brown for a little bit more
  27. Gauge its consistency, when it is too hot and runny, it’s much harder to make spun sugar
  28. Let it cool for a minute in the saucepan and it should start to thicken, once it reaches the consistency at which it runs down the fork slowly, it’s ready
  29. Over a bowl, quickly flick the caramel back and forth to form thin webs of caramel threads and continue until you have enough or the caramel in the saucepan has solidified
  30. Roll the caramel threads into a ball and put it on your cake
  31. Place the mini eggs inside the spun sugar nest

Christmas Croquembouche

It’s been quite a while since I have posted anything due to work and the manic build up to christmas. A croquembouche is normally used for weddings, but seeing I didn’t have a christmas tree in the house, I decided to make one. An edible one! This can be divided into 2 components, the choux buns and the biscuits. The biscuits is mostly for decorations. Both the biscuit and the choux recipe can be found in my previous posts. So, I’ll simply link to those and provide a simple procedure on the assembly.

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  1. For the choux pastry, please follow this link . You will need 1.5x the amount stated in the recipe for the croquembouche
  2. Creme patissiere was used for the filling of the choux buns instead of cream to provide a little bit more structural support. Creme patissiere recipe can be found lower down
  3. For biscuits, please use this link. This is purely for decorations, so you don’t have to make this for the croquembouche if you don’t want to. I did for the star at the top and the biscuit men at the bottom

Ingredients for creme patissiere

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 20g plain flour
  • 20g corn flour
  • 350ml milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Beat the egg yolks and the sugar together
  • Sift and beat in the plan and corn flour into the egg
  • Heat the milk until simmering
  • Add the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk continuously until all of the milk has been added
  • Pour the runny mixture back into saucepan and heat over medium heat
  • Whisk continuously until it thickens
  • Add vanilla extract and mix it in
  • Remove from heat and allow it to cool down completely

Assembly

  • Fill the choux buns with the creme patissiere
  • To stick the choux buns together, you will need to make caramel
  • Simply heat granulated sugar in a light coloured saucepan without water and stir occasionally to help the melting of the sugar
  • Once the sugar is a light brown colour, add in 1 tsp of water gently and keep it on VERY low heat (work quickly, or the caramel will burn and taste bitter even at low heat)
  • Dunk the filled choux buns into the caramel and stick it together to make a cone shaped tower (easily done, but not so easy executed without a proper cone)
  • Use the caramel to stick the biscuits to the choux tower
  • Decorate with melted white chocolate and icing sugar

 

 

Chocolate and cinnamon biscuits

Ingredients

  • 120g unsalted butter (room temperature and very soft)
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 20g coco powder
  • 130g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Cream butter and icing sugar together
  2. Sift the flour and coco powder and add in the cinnamon
  3. Mix the ingredients with hands until it forms a non-sticky dough (if the mixture remains sticky, add 5g plain flour and knead the dough again)
  4. Chill the biscuit dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes
  5. Meanwhile, Pre-heat oven to 180°C (356°F) or 160°C (320°F) in a fan assisted oven
  6. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 4-5mm thick
  7. Cut out the desired shaped biscuits
  8. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and place the cut out biscuits onto the tray
  9. Bake for 15-17 minutes
  10. The biscuits will remain very slightly soft when taken out of the oven, but this will firm up as it cools over 5-10 minutes

Sweet potato and hazelnut tart

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Ingrdients

pastry

  • 90g unsalted butter
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 190g plain flour
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1tbsp water

Filling

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 800g sweet potato, excluding skin)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 400ml double cream
  • 40-60g caster sugar
  • 80g hazelnut, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  1. To make the pastry, mix plain flour and icing sugar and add in the butter in small cubes
  2. Use your finger tips to rub the butter and flour together until it resembles breadcrumbs
  3. Add in the egg and the water
  4. Gently combine the ingredients until it forms a smooth dough
  5. Chill the pastry dough in the fridge for 30 minutes
  6. Roll out the pastry to about 2-3mm thick and line a 23cm tart tin
  7. Prick small holes at the bottom of the pastry using a fork
  8. Place a sheet of baking paper on the pastry case and put baking beans on top
  9. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes
  10. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 200°C (392°F) or 180°C (356°F) in a fan assisted oven
  11. Blind bake the pastry case for 8 minutes and trim off the excess pastry from the tin and bake for another 15 minutes
  12. Remove the baking beans and baking paper and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the base is golden and dry
  13. Take the pastry out and let it cool down
  14. Lower oven temperature to 170°C (338°F) or 150°C (3202°F) in a fan assisted oven
  15. Finely chop the hazelnut and sprinkle 2 tbsp icing sugar over it in a pan
  16. Put it over medium heat until the icing sugar has melted
  17. Take it off the heat and let it cool down
  18. Cook the sweet potato by opening it into halves and steam it for about 30-40 minutes over medium heat, or until it is cooked in the middle
  19. Scoop out the inside of the sweet potato and put it into a saucepan
  20. Add the sugar (depending on the sweetness of your sweet potatoes) and the double cream to the cooked sweet potato
  21. Put it over medium heat until the cream starts to bubble
  22. Blend the mixture until it forms a purée
  23. Let it cool down slightly for about 15 minutes
  24. Add and mix in cinnamon, vanilla, eggs and the hazelnuts to the purée, mix thoroughly
  25. Pour the filling into the pastry case and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the filling is just set, it should have a slight wobble in the middle when it is done
  26. Take it out of the oven and let it cool down