Chocolate and peanut butter cake

My stepson and family came for the day this week, and we have a tradition of having a nice cake for afternoon tea. I've mentioned my lovely German dil before, and she really is a superb baker [ her profession is in catering], so I try and make something new each time they come.
I decided on a chocolate cake, but with something different as filling. I found a jar of peanut butter in the cupboard – perfect - and is something I know we all like. I know it's calorific, but it's a special cake for an occasion.

200g sr flour
1 tspn baking powder
150g caster sugar
150g butter
200g dark chocolate
100ml milk

250g peanut butter [smooth, but if you wanted a different texture, crunchy]
100g butter
100g icing sugar

Preheat oven 180C Grease and baseline 2x20cm cake tins

Melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the eggs and sugar till light and frothy. Add the milk and gradually mix in the chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Spoon into the cake tins and bake for about 20 mins. Cool on a wire rack.
For the filling – beat the 2 butters and icing sugar together for 2-3 mins to get a good icing consistency. Add a little more icing sugar if you think it needs to be a bit thicker.
Cut the 2 sponges horizontally. Put the first one on a plate and spread ¼ of the icing over, top with the next sponge and do the same, then the 3rd and finally top with the 4th sponge. Spread the last of the icing on top.

My dil took the photo, and you can tell she's used to taking more professional looking ones than I do!
It was a great success, and because the icing is spread between the 4 cakes, it wasn't too much. Cake had a good chocolate taste and a soft texture. I liked the contrast between the cake and the creamy peanut butter filling. A good cake to have for afternoon tea.


Broyés de Poitou

This recipe is a speciality of the region we lived in in France, Poitou Charentes. You can find them in the region's supermarkets and they can be small, as these are, or be one large biscuit. They're not really biscuits, more of a biscake! Whatever you call them, they're delicious. This is the traditional recipe from a local baker.

Beat together 250g unsalted butter and 250g of sugar till light and creamy. Add a beaten egg and mix together then fold in 500g plain flour with 1 tspn baking powder and 1 tspn salt added and mix together till you get a ball. If you need it, add a few drops of water. It's easier to use a mixer.
Wrap the ball in clingfilm and put in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight, to firm up the dough.

Preheat oven hot - 210C/gas7
Cover 2 baking sheets with baking parchment or silicone sheets.

Take the dough out of the fridge and bring to room temperature.
 Roll out dough and using a 7cm fluted cutter, cut out the biscuits and put them on a baking sheet. Make the traditional pattern on the top [see photo] - I used the edge of a clean ruler.
Make a wash by beating an egg yolk with a little water, and paint the biscuits twice.
Bake for 15 mins till golden. Leave on tray to cool a little as they will still be softish and difficult to handle. They'll firm up when they're cool.

If you want to make one large biscuit, roll the dough out a little more than for the small ones. Using a template cut it into a 16cm round; make the pattern and brush with egg wash. Bake for 20-25 mins till golden.

You can see the pattern on the biscuits. This photo is one my friend took and has kindly let me use.
The biscuits have a crunchy texture and a lovely buttery flavour. You could add some vanilla or almond essence to the mixture, but I prefer to keep them traditional.


A Lebanese Cake

And now for something completely different!
I love Lebanese food; I knew little about it till we lived in France and made friends with a Lebanese couple. I love their use of spices, sumac, z'atar, dried mint, 7 spices etc, and I love falafel, houmous [sp?] and tabbouleh.
 I've long had a love-hate relationship with tahina or tahini, sesame seed paste, but was given this recipe for using it in a cake by our Lebanese friend, and I really liked the result. You could use peanut butter instead, and I think it would work really well, but the tahini makes a really rich, flavoursome cake.

Preheat oven 180C/gas 4.
Grease a 24cm cake tin well and sprinkle with 3 tbspn sesame seeds.

Beat 250ml tahini in a large bowl with 165g caster sugar, 40g light brown sugar and grated zest of 2 oranges till mixture is thick and creamy. Add the juice from the 2 oranges and 200g thick plain yoghurt and mix well.
Fold in 375g sr flour, 1/2 tspn salt, 1 tspn mixed spice, 100g chopped pistachio nuts, 3 tbspn sesame seeds and 6 chopped stoned dates. Mix throughly till everything is well combined.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 45 mins till golden and firm.
Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

I decorated it with some more orange zest. It's a rich cake with a dense texture - a great accompaniment to a cuppa or to have as a pudding with some creme fraiche, cream or ice cream.
It's difficult to describe the flavour of tahini - I think it's an interesting flavour, a bit nutty, slightly bitter and it's creamy.
If you want to know how it's made, have a look  here .
It's certainly a different flavour to my usual cakes, but it's one to have occasionally, when you feel the need for something different.


Tropical Chocolate Cake

I seem to be making a lot of chocolate cakes lately, but this one is a bit different in that it has tropical flavours and ingredients.
 I found the recipe in a booklet I picked up at a food fair, and it's a cake I've been meaning to try. I found a bottle of rum in the back of the cupboard, and as well as my using it for Flognarde, a recipe you can find on  Phil's blog 'As Strong As Soup' , I'm going to use some in this cake [opt].
The tropical part comes from the creamed coconut, pineapple and dessicated coconut.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4 and grease and line a 20cm springform tin.

For the cake:

Cream together 100g soft butter and 200g caster sugar till pale and fluffy.
Stir in 60g melted chocolate and 2 egg yolks. Sift together 175g sr flour and 1 tspn mixed spice, then fold these into the batter with 4 tbspn creamed coconut, 3 tbspn milk and 1 tbspn rum [or you could use pineapple juice].
Beat the egg whites till stiff then gently fold them into the batter. Add 1 tbspn dessicated coconut and mix together.
Spoon into your tin and bake for about 45 mins till golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

For the topping:

Whip 150ml double cream and pipe onto the cake, anyway you fancy. Decorate the cream with some pineapple chunks from a 200g tin [drained].


The flavour of the coconut comes through well, but is not overpowering. Nice soft texture and a hint of rum. Topping finished off the cake nicely, and the pineapple chunks gave it another texture. An unusual cake, and one I'll make again.


Chocolate Coffee Meringue Cake

The filling and icing on this cake is delicious - something special. It's a French recipe for a cake we made on a cookery course whilst I was living there. I needed a special cake for my daughter's birthday, and she loves coffee and chocolate so this fitted the bill as it's a chocolate cake with coffee filling and icing.
It takes a bit of time to make as there are several stages, but I think it's worth the effort.

For the cake: you need 125g of dark chocolate, 150g butter,125g caster sugar, 4 eggs, 75g flour and 1 tspn baking powder and 75g ground almonds.

For the icing and filling you need 150g butter, 125g icing sugar, 2 egg whites, 1 tspn instant coffee and 1 tbspn warm water.

Preheat oven 150C/gas 2 or 3  - it's baked in quite a cool oven.
Grease and base line a 20cm springform tin.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks and caster sugar till white and fluffy. Add the chocolate mixture, flour and baking powder and ground almonds and mix well. Whisk the 4 egg whites into stiff peaks and fold carefully into the batter.
Bake for an hour then cool on a wire rack.

Filling and icing:
Mix the coffee powder and warm water together then add 25g of the butter and mix together.
Put the egg whites in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk them with the icing sugar to get a firm meringue. Take pan off the heat and add the coffee mixture and gently mix together.Cream the rest of the butter [125g] then add, a little a time, to the meringue mixture. Put the bowl in the fridge for at least an hour to chill.

When the cake's cool and the meringue chilled, cut the cake into 3 rounds. Put some meringue filling on each round and assemble cake. Cover the outside of cake with the rest of the meringue mixture and put in fridge for several hours before serving.

It's a good idea to make the cake the day before you need it, and you could decorate the top with grated chocolate or chocolate curls etc or flaked almonds, but I decided to leave it plain. I bought a couple of large candles which made up her age, and lit these separately [well a lady doesn't give her age away online does she?].

The cake is nice and moist and has a great chocolate flavour.It has a soft texture which goes well with the creamy filling. The icing is very rich and the coffee gives a quite subtle flavour. You could use more coffee powder to get a more definite flavour.
Take it out of the fridge a while before you need it, so it's not too cold to eat!

Most French cake recipes I've tried just say that the cake tin you need is a 'moule à manqué', but doesn't say a size. I'm not sure if this cake tin is maybe just one size? I brought one back and it's 25cm, but not very deep. I used a deep 20cm springform tin to give the cake 3 good layers.

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