Polish Gingerbread Cake

My lovely Polish neighbour and I enjoy making cakes together. I tasted a Polish gingerbread cake at her house recently, so thought I'd find a recipe and make one too.
I had a look online, but some didn't seem to be authentic, some had strange ingredients, so in the end I used a mixture of several recipes, taking what I thought were good bits from each!
The cake contains a mix of spices - ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, so I mixed together what I thought would give the cake a good spicy taste, without it being overpowering.
Some of the cakes in the recipes were cut in half and filled with plum jam, some were iced with chocolate, so it seems as if there's as many variations with this cake as there are with some traditional British cakes.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4           grease a 900g loaf tin

The recipe is very easy - you melt 170g light brown sugar with 75g butter, 170g honey and 2 tbspn strong coffee granules[ I used Azera Espresso] in a pan. As soon as the butter and sugar have dissolved, take pan off the heat and while the mixture is still hot add 300g plain flour which has been mixed with 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda and a mix of 1 tspn ginger,1 tspn cinnamon, 1/2 tspn cardamom, 1/2 tspn cloves and 1/2 tspn nutmeg. Mix this together - the mixture is very thick and quite difficult to stir together. Let it cool. beat 2 eggs and add to the batter, mixing well. It takes a bit of elbow work to get the eggs to mix in!
You can add a handful of dried fruit or nuts to the mixture, but I left it plain.
Spoon into the loaf tin and bake for about 50 - 60 mins.

For the chocolate topping I used the Mary Berry recipe that Suelle has adapted on her great  Mainly Baking blog It always works - it's chocolate, butter, golden syrup and milk.

The cake had a good spicy flavour and texture, but I thought it was rather dry. I left it in the oven a few minutes too long and the outside was quite hard, tho' it has softened since being left in a cake tin. I put a nice thick layer of the chocolate topping and this gave it another texture.
If I make this again, I think I will put a jam layer in the centre; maybe this layer is because the cake is meant to be dryish?


Raspberry Choux Buns

Since watching the GBBO ages ago, I've been wanting to make choux pastry. Nowadays I only bake for an occasion or when my family visit, so when I was asked to make something special for a lovely lady's 90th birthday party, I was very happy. I chatted to other people who'd also been invited to bake. They were making cakes of some kind, so I thought something with pastry would be good.
 I love profiteroles, so decided on a variation on the usual chocolate ones. I have some French baking magazines and in one of these they used strawberries,in the filling, and being French, the recipe didn't use double cream but ricotta cheese. Interesting, but I wanted to use raspberries, and I wasn't sure that ricotta would give the flavour I wanted, so I decided to use the traditional double cream.

I'm not going to write about making the choux pastry - have a look here for a recipe
or there are plenty of others on the web.

Preheat oven  200C/gas6       Line a baking tray with parchment paper

When you've made your choux pastry, put it in a piping bag with a large plain nozzle and pipe little balls on the paper. Bake for about 20 mins then cool on a wire rack.

To make the raspberry filling you need - 250ml double cream, 180g raspberries, 50g icing sugar and 1 tspn rosewater. Whip the cream till stiffish but not too thick, mash up the raspberries then add to the cream with the icing sugar and rose water and mix together. Put aside.

For the icing - 100g dark or cooking chocolate, 89g icing sugar, 40g butter and 3 tbspn water.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Add the icing sugar and butter.  Take the pan off the heat and add the water a bit at a time. If your icing seems too thin, just leave it to cool a bit.
Because the filling was quite thick, I couldn't pipe it in like you do usually, so I carefully cut round the balls and used a teaspoon to fill them with the raspberry cream mixture. Top with a layer of the chocolate icing then leave to rest.

I know my chocolate topping could be a lot neater, but these are my practice buns! Didn't get a chance to take a photo of the ones I took to the birthday party.
 The buns tasted good and were much enjoyed. I added the rosewater to give a little hint of another flavour, and I also had a bottle in the cupboard to use, but it's not necessary. I loved the raspberry filling as an alternative to just cream. The fruit adds another texture, and like the idea I saw originally, you could use strawberries chopped up.


Yoghurt , Peach and Semolina Cake

I'm sorting out my food cupboards, checking on use by dates etc. and I came across a some tinned peaches that needed to be used up. I'm not a great fan of peaches, but quite like them in cakes, so decided to make one from a recipe I made ages ago at a cookery class. It uses semolina as well as flour, and also yoghurt, so a bit different.

I used a 200g loaf tin greased and lined with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180C/gas5

To make the cake you need 50g butter, 100g caster sugar, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 2 eggs - separated. Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and egg yolks together till nice and white and fluffy. Add 250g plain yoghurt and mix in.
Mix together 125g plain flour, 2 tspn baking powder and 125g semolina and add to the batter.
Whisk the 2 egg whites till stiff then fold carefully into the cake mixture. 
Put half of the mixture into the cake tin. Chop up 200g peaches halves or slices into dice and add half to the cake tin on top of the batter. Put the rest of the cake batter on top and finish with the rest of the peaches.
Bake for about and hour till golden. Have a look at the cake towards the end, after about 45 mins, to make sure the top isn't burning or getting too dark. Cover with a piece of foil if it is.
Cool cake in the tin for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack to cool.

I doubled the recipe and made 2 cakes, as I needed one for a coffee morning. The yoghurt makes the cake really moist; it has a nice fine texture and is light and fruity. I like the fruit going through the cake, rather than just on top. You could use other fruit like raspberries, apples, pears or plums. It makes a good dessert too, with maybe some crème fraîche or ice cream.


Bakewell Pudding (or maybe not!)

 I recently picked up a book in a local charity shop about 'Food of the British Isles'.It's a compilation of recipes from restaurants and cooks. I was especially interested in the Cake Section, as I've been wanting to try some of the more unusual British cake and pudding recipes for some time.
This one isn't very unusual, but thought I'd try it as it's called a Bakewell Pudding and not a Tart. In the book, the writer says says that a Pudding is made with puff pastry and the Tart with shortcrust. Is it that simple? I bet a lot of local people would disagree with this definition!

The writer made her puff pastry from scratch, but I bought mine, butter of course!

For the Pudding you need: 500g butter puff pastry, 3 tbspn raspberry jam, 150g butter, 150g caster sugar, 3 eggs plus a yolk, beaten, 150g ground almonds, zest of a lemon,2 tspn almond extract, 1 tbspn flaked almonds and some icing sugar to dust the top.

Preheat oven 190C/gas5                 you need a 20cm deep tart tin, greased 

Roll the pastry out to about 5mm, then use it to line the tart tin. Prick base with a fork and put in fridge for about 20 mins. Put some baking paper on the pastry and fill with baking beans or rice. Cook for 15 mins till pale golden, take out the beans and cook for another 5 mins.
Spread the jam onto the pastry.
Make the filling - cream the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. Beat the yolk into the other eggs then add a bit at a time to the mixture. Fold in the ground almonds, lemon zest and almond extract.
Pour into the pastry case and level. Bake for about 30 mins, take pudding out of the oven and sprinkle with the flaked almonds then put back in the oven for another 10 mins or till set and golden. Sieve over some icing sugar while the pudding is still warm [ I didn't bother].

I know, it doesn't look any different from a Bakewell Tart, and it doesn't taste any different either! It has a good deep filling, and as I love any kind of almonds, this is a good dessert. Nice crumbly pastry, fruity jam, soft almond sponge and crunchy nuts. What's not to like, but I'll try and be more adventurous with the next recipe from the book!


Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake

I wanted a chocolate recipe for an Easter cake, but wanted to try something a bit different. I love the flavour of orange with chocolate [yes, I did get a Chocolate Orange Easter Egg!!] so this French recipe seemed just the thing. It's made in a Bundt mould, which makes it look a little bit more special for an occasion.

For the cake you need - 150g sr flour,1 tspn baking powder, 100g ground almonds, 220g caster sugar, 150g butter [melted], 4 eggs, grated zest of 1 orange.
For the syrup you need - 220g caster sugar, 250ml orange juice, peeled zest of 4 oranges.
For the icing - 150g dark chocolate

Preheat oven 160C/gas3
Grease a Bundt tin or mould well or spray with a Cake Release spray.

To make the cake - grate the zest of the orange. Beat the eggs with the caster sugar till white and fluffy. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Melt the butter in a microwave then add to the mixture with the ground almonds and orange zest. Mix well.
Bake for 45-50 mins.
5 mins before cake is cooked make the syrup. Cut the peeled zest into thin strips. Put the sugar, orange juice and zest in a pan, and simmer gently over a low heat for about an hour till the zest is 'confit' or candied. When the syrup is thick, take pan off heat.
Take the cake out of its mould or tin and place on a wire rack with a plate underneath to catch the excess syrup. spread the syrup generously over the cake using a pastry brush.
Melt the chocolate for the icing over simmering water or in the microwave. When melted, pour over cake, letting it run down in the grooves in the sides of the cake.
Leave for a few mins for icing to harden a little then sprinkle the candied orange strips over the cake.

This is a good family sized cake. Everyone had a good slice and there was plenty left over. It has a nice moist texture with a good orange flavour.. I liked the contrast with the chocolate icing, but wasn't too sure about the candied zest. I thought there was too much of it. It was a change from cakes with Easter eggs. I'd like to try it with lime or lemon instead of the orange.

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