Danish Cake

This is my offering to the GBBO, as it's more complicated than I usually make! I'd offered to make a cake for a birthday we'd been invited to, and as my daughter was here to help me, decided to try something a bit more ambitious. It's not the official birthday cake, but just another contribution to the tea.

The recipe comes from a leaflet I picked up many years ago in a supermarket, but it doesn't say much about the origins of the cake, just that it's from Denmark. It's unusual in that it has chopped pears in it, and uses gelatine to stiffen the cream mixture for the filling. It's a 'bit of an effort' cake to make too, so one for an occasion.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Grease and line a 20cm springform tin.

Whisk 4 egg yolks with the grated zest and juice of 1 lemon and 125g of icing sugar till pale and creamy. Whisk the 4 egg whites till stiff peaks.
 Sieve 75g plain flour, 25g cornflour and 1/2 tspn baking powder together then fold into the batter with the egg whites a little at a time.
Spoon into the tin and bake for 35-40 mins. Leave in the tin for 5 mins then put on a wire rack.

Soften 2 sheets of gelatine in 30ml cold water. Lightly whip two thirds of a pot of 500ml double cream then beat in the gelatine and 2 tbspn caster sugar. Fold in contents of a large can of pears, chopped and drained, and 75g grated dark chocolate [ keeping a little back to put on the top of the cake]. Leave filling to set.

When it's cold, cut the cake into three layers. Spread each layer with the cream mixture filling and assemble the cake.
Whip the other third of the double cream, and pipe rosettes around the edge of the top. Finish with a little of the grated chocolate.

I was pleased with the finished cake and it tasted good too. The filling wasn't too sweet and had a bit of texture from the chocolate. The sponge cake was light and had a slight lemony flavour. I liked the pieces of pear as they were soft, but still kept some texture. An unusual cake, but good for an occasion, and the plate is one of a set I inherited from Mum.



Looking through my French cookery books for something different to bake, I came across a recipe for 'Mirlitons'.
When I googled them to find out more, they seemed to be a strange looking green vegetable from the USA, also called chayote. What happened to the cakes?

I continued googling and found out that the little Mirliton Tartlets come from around Rouen in Normandy. There were quite a few recipes for them, but they all seemed to agree that they must have an almond and egg filling with vanilla extract and orange flower water; some had cream added, so I decided to add some to give them extra flavour. Apparently it's quite an old recipe, being found in a 18th century cookery book.

They sound very similar to the Welsh cheese cakes my Mum used to make - a pastry shell, a layer of jam then a sponge topping, but there's no almonds in Mum's recipe.

They're very easy to make, as you use a ready made sheet of puff pastry.

This recipe makes about 12 tartlets.

 Preheat oven 180C/gas 4 and grease a 12 hole tartlet tin.

Roll out a sheet of puff pastry [about 240g] and cut out 12 tartlets; use these to line your tin.

Put a good tspn of jam in each tartlet - I used some raspberry jam. Then make the filling by beating together 100g ground almonds, 100g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tspn vanilla extract, and 2 tspn orange flower water. Stir in about 5 tbspn whipped double cream and mix well. Spoon this mixture into your tartlet shells, and if you want, you can put a sprinkling of flaked almonds on the tops, but I chose not to do this.
Bake for about 20 mins till they're golden brown and turn out onto a wire rack. You can eat them hot or cold. Dust with icing sugar.

I'm not really sure if I like the orange flower water flavour, which is  very distinct. I liked the contrast between the fruity jam, the almond cake mixture and the pastry base. The cream made the texture quite soft. An interesting little tartlet!


Apricot Slices

I wanted to make something quick and easy for my grandsons' visit this afternoon. This slice must come under the 'easy to make and good for you' banner, as it has oats, muesli, honey, apricots, nuts ...  and surprisingly, all three boys will eat it!. I guess it's a posh flapjack!
It's one of my friend Ann's family recipes, and we love it.

30g oats
80g dried apricots
60g muesli
40g dessicated coconut
30g almonds chopped into pieces
70g plain flour
70g demerara sugar
2 tbspn honey
2 medium eggs
140g butter

Grease a deep 20cm square cake tin.
Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Cut the apricots into smallish pieces.
In a bowl beat 140g of the softened butter with the sugar and honey. Add the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour, oats, muesli, almonds, apricot pieces and the coconut.

Mix it all together and spoon into the tin; smooth the surface and cook for 30 mins. Leave it to go cold in the tin then cut into squares. It's very filling, so I cut it into small squares.

You can keep the slices for about 4 days in a airtight container.

Lovely flavours from the mix of ingredients and a chunky texture. I used some local honey and you could taste it's flowery flavour. You could vary the dried fruit and honey for a different flavour.


Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

I wanted to make some kind of chocolate cake, and having looked through cookery books and folders I found this recipe which came from one of my neighbours in France. Four of us, all neighbours, took it in turn to host afternoon tea - the French ladies thought it was a great idea. This was one of Reneé's offerings.
I love anything made with nuts, especially hazelnuts, and it's another easy cake to make. I decided to make it in a bundt tin.

Grease a bundt mould or cake tin and preheat oven 180C/gas4

In a bowl over simmering water, melt 150g butter and 150g dark chocolate. Take bowl off and add 4 egg yolks, 175g caster sugar, 80g ground hazelnuts, 100g plain flour, 50g dark chocolate chopped up and a pinch of salt.
Beat the 4 egg whites till stiff and fold into the mixture.
Spoon into the tin and bake for 50mins. Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.

For the icing:
Chop 100g dark chocolate and melt it over water with 50g of butter. Pour it over the warm cake and leave to set.

One trick I learnt was to put the chocolate bar in a poly bag and tap it with a rolling pin to break it up. I usually end up with bits of chocolate everywhere!

The cake has a great chocolate flavour, and you can really taste the hazelnuts. The chunks of chocolate had just about kept their texture, but then melted in your mouth. I like the easy way you decorate it - no faffing with glacé icing or buttercream - just pour the chocolate over.


Courgette and Sultana Cake

My friend gave me some courgettes and I wanted to make a cake with some of them. I had a look on the internet, but nothing really appealed, so I hunted through a couple of old baking cookery books and found a carrot cake with raisins, so adapted this. I fancied making a ring cake, but it can be made in a normal round cake tin.

Preheat oven 180C./gas4
Grease a 20cm ring mould well with butter or oil.

Beat together 125g butter and 150g caster sugar till nice and fluffy. Then add 2 beaten eggs and 2 tspn vanilla extract. Add 220g grated courgettes [about 11/2 medium courgettes] and 60g sultanas [or other dried fruit]. Mix together then fold in 225g sr flour.
Spoon into tin and smooth top. Bake for 35-40 mins till golden.
Leave cake in tin for about 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack.

I wanted a creamy topping, so made some vanilla buttercream. I wanted to try a method I'd found in a magazine; it's more complicated than the simple buttercream of icing sugar and butter, but hopefully it would taste less cloying.

Put 110g caster sugar and 85ml water in a pan and stir over a low heat till the mixture boils and the sugar's melted. Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 mins without stirring. Cool.
Beat 125g butter and 2 tspn vanilla extract together till light and fluffy, then pour in the sugar syrup, beating all the time till your mixture is smooth and fluffy.

Spread the mixture over the top and sides of your cake. I used some of the orange peel I made recently to decorate the top.

It's a moist cake, but not too moist, as you sometimes get with vegetable cakes. The topping was nothing like the usual butter cream. Yes it was sweet, but I didn't find it cloying; it was smooth and melted in your mouth. I'll use it again when I need a sweet topping. Liked the cake texture - not too dense, and  the fruit gave an added bite.

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