Saturday, September 27, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.8)



Povitica! Sadly this post is a little short on photos as my camera is currently in a different house to me. Hopefully I'll be able to update with pictures soon pictures now added, but I do have this one, from my phone showing the inside of the loaf:


This was definitely a challenging technical challenge, and there is no way I would have been able to do it in the two and a half hours allowed. It took me nearly four! I also struggled with making sure the bake was fully cooked (although, that may have been because I had to leave the house before the full hour was up for baking, and the poor loaf had to be baked in two different ovens in three rounds!!)


This is a tasty bread, but after an online calorie count, I understand why it is only served at special occasions. (Trust me, you don't want to know the numbers)



The dough stretching was really difficult, and I've no idea how the bakers got the dough so thin and even, with so few holes! I was very impressed with their techniques for spreading the filling (I really liked Martha's with the clingfilm!) - mine was a bit of a blob and smudge with my fingers, so there were some rather thick bits.



Recipe (From BBC food)
Ingredients
For the dough
300g/10½oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
40g/1½oz caster sugar
7g salt
10g/1/3oz fast-action yeast
30g/1oz unsalted butter, melted
1 large free-range egg, beaten
½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
150ml/5½fl oz whole milk, warmed
For the filling
60g/2¼oz unsalted butter
4 tbsp whole milk
280g/10oz walnut pieces
½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
100g/3½oz caster sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 free-range egg yolk, beaten
To assemble
15g/½oz butter, melted
1 free-range egg white, beaten
100g/3½oz icing sugar
Preparation method
1. For the dough, tip the flour and sugar into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook (*sigh* no freestanding mixer, still using the hand-held mixer with the whirly prongs). Add the salt into one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the melted butter, egg, vanilla seeds and warm milk and begin mixing on a slow speed. When the dough starts to come together, mix for a further 5-8 minutes on a medium speed until the dough is soft, smooth and stretchy.
2. Tip the dough into a lightly oiled mixing bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise until at least doubled in size – about one hour. Butter a 1kg/2lb loaf tin (for those whose tins are no longer labelled, that's a 19x12x9cm tin).
3. For the filling, place the butter and milk in a small pan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat.
4. Place the walnuts, vanilla seeds, sugar and cocoa powder into the bowl of a food processor and blend to a sandy powder. Add the egg yolk, milk and butter mixture and pulse to combine. Set aside.
5. To assemble, spread a clean bed sheet over a kitchen table and dust (generously) with flour. Turn the risen dough out onto the sheet and roll out the dough into a large 50x30cm/20x12in rectangle (at this stage, move the rectangle and ensure the area underneath is well floured - it's much easier now than when it is thinner). Brush the surface with 15g/½oz melted butter.
6. Dust your hands with flour and ease them underneath the dough. Using the backs of your hands, stretch the dough out from the centre until very thin and translucent (you should be able to see the sheet through the dough). The rectangle should measure approximately 1metrex60cm/40x24in.
7. Taking care not to tear the dough (hahahahahahahaha, by this point mine had several holes in it), spread the filling over the dough until evenly covered. If the filling has been standing for a long time and is too thick (by too thick he means anything more than a liquid), add a little warm milk to loosen it.
8. Starting at the long edge of the dough, lift the sheet and gently roll the dough up tightly, like a Swiss roll.
9. Carefully lift the dough and place one end in the bottom corner of the greased loaf tin. Ease the roll into the base of the tin to form a long ‘U’ shape, then double back laying the roll over the first ‘U’ shape to form a second ‘U’ shape on top.
10. Place the loaf tin inside a clean plastic bag and leave to rise for one hour.
11. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/ 350F/Gas 4.
12. Brush the dough with beaten egg white and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 150C/130C(fan)/300F/Gas 3 and bake for a further 45 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil if the top begins to darken too much.
13. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
14. Mix the icing sugar with a few drops of cold water to make a runny icing and drizzle it over the povitica. Slice and enjoy.

As usual, I am entering this in Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off 2014 (and hoping that I'll be allowed to put the photos in after I've linked up) and Supergolden Bakes #GBBO Bake Along.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.7)


 Pastry week! Surprisingly, this technical bake was actually quite easy. Obviously I had the full recipe, and wasn't left guessing, unlike the bakers in the tent.



However, there was no horizontal slicing of sponge, and relatively little ooze, just plenty of patience and refridgerating and rolling out.




Very peaceful, and I could put a load of laundry on at the same time.


The only trouble I had with it was when I didn't flour my surface well enough and one or two layers of laminations decided to remain attached to the surface. But, even this wasn't too tragic.




I struggle to roll things into even shaped rectangles, so some of the kouign amman were bigger than others, but they were very tasty and have quickly disappeared into my friends and family!



Recipe (From BBC Food)

Ingredients
300g/10½oz strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting
5g fast-action yeast
1 tsp salt
200ml/7fl oz warm water
25g/1oz unsalted butter, melted
250g/9oz cold unsalted butter, in a block
100g/3½oz caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

Preparation method
1. Put the flour into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook (Yeah... I don't have one of those... back to the spirally dough hooks in a hand held mixer). Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Add the water and melted butter and mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes.
2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Put into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for one hour.
3. Sandwich the butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper and bash with a rolling pin, then roll out to a 18cm/7in square (This is strangely therapeutic, but don't lose track of how big it is getting!). Place in the fridge to keep chilled.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 20cm/8in square. Place the butter in the centre of the dough diagonally, so that each side of butter faces a corner of the dough. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to enclose like an envelope.
5. (Re-flour the surface) Roll the dough into a 45x15cm/18x6in rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough up over the middle, then fold the top third of the dough over. You will now have a sandwich of three layers of butter and three layers of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This completes one turn.


6. Repeat this process twice more (re-flouring the surface between each roll), so you have completed a total of three turns, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between turns.
7. Roll the dough into a rectangle as before. Sprinkle the dough with the caster sugar (I sprinkled around 80-90g here) and fold into thirds again. Working quickly (or the dough will start to ooze syrup and stick to everything), roll the dough into a large 40x30cm/16x12in rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with caster sugar (I sprinkled 10-20g here) and cut the dough into 12 squares.
8. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin well with oil. Gather the dough squares up by their four corners and place in the muffin tins, pulling the four corners towards the centre of the muffin tin, so that it gathers up like a four-leaf clover. Sprinkle with caster sugar (I used additional sugar here, about half a teaspoon per kouign amman) and leave to rise, covered with a clean tea towel, for 30 minutes until slightly puffed up.
9. Preheat oven to 220C/200C(fan)/425F/Gas 7. Bake the pastries for 30-40 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil halfway through if beginning to brown too much. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Be careful not to burn yourself on the caramelised sugar, but don’t leave them to cool for too long, or the caramelised sugar will harden and they will be stuck in the tin.
10. Serve warm or cold.

As usual, I am entering this into Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off 2014 and Supergolden Bakes #GBBO Bake Along.






Mmmm, kouign amman. Like a sugary croissant with even more calories!



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.6)


Okay. This was difficult. I mean, I know it's the technical bake, and it's meant to be a challenge, but I thought tiramisu cake was bad enough.


This had it all. Custard, genoese sponge, slicing sponges horizontally, jam, oozes, explosions and making your own marzipan.


And, if done properly, it needs a dozen eggs.Which, in my opinion, is a lot of eggs for one cake.


I didn't want to use raw eggs in my marzipan, as I will be serving this to a mixed crowd, and feel a bit twitchy serving other people raw eggs. So I still made my own marzipan, but I replaced the egg with simple syrup (actually it was the leftover syrup from poaching the pears for last week's technical!)


So, yes, disasters. My custard piping that was meant to contain the jam failed and all of a sudden there was jam spewing out of the sides of my cake like an over enthusiastic episode of ER, only without George Clooney to mop it all up.


The marzipan was a little overdone in the food processor and started spewing more oil than a certain petroleum company's tankers. And it crumbled. Badly. The pictures kindly don't the massive crack at the back!



It was definitely not dome shaped. And the shade of green colouring I picked made it closely resemble something from a 1970s Good Homes magazine.


Still, as they say, it's not the winning but the taking part. And I certainly took part. I think I'll be scraping cream, custard and jam out of my fridge for a while yet.


Prinsesstårta
(Recipe from BBC food)
For the vanilla custard
600ml/20fl oz milk
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways and seeded scraped out (I used vanilla extract, and added it with the butter. I'm hoping, soon, a nice vanilla company will take pity on me and send me real pods to try. Hint hint)
6 free-range egg yolks
100g/3½oz caster sugar
50g/1¾oz cornflour
50g/1¾oz unsalted butter
For the jam
200g/7oz raspberries (personally I think this made FAR too much jam, which is why it all exploded out)
175g/6oz jam sugar
For the sponge
4 large free-range eggs
150g/5½oz caster sugar
75g/2½oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g/1¾oz butter, melted
For the fondant rose
25g/1oz pink ready-to-roll icing (WHAT?! After the death-stare when Enwezor dared not to make his own fondant, this recipe has ready-to-roll?! And it's one of Mary's. I'm a little shocked. Although, also a little grateful, because that may have been the straw that broke my cake)
icing sugar, for dusting
To decorate
750ml/10 pints double cream
50g/1¾oz dark chocolate (36% cocoa solids), melted
For the marzipan
400g/14oz ground almonds
150g/5½oz caster sugar
250g/9oz icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
2 medium free-range eggs, beaten
1 tsp almond extract
green food colouring paste (do not use liquid food colouring)
(As I say, I didn't follow this recipe. I loosely used this one: Smitten Kitchen's Marzipan with more syrup, it was still rather crumbly)

Preparation method
1. For the vanilla custard, pour the milk into a pan with the vanilla seeds and vanilla pod and place over a low heat until just simmering. Remove from the heat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together until pale and creamy.
3. Remove the vanilla pod from the warm milk. (You can rinse this off to use in making vanilla sugar.)
4. Stir the warm milk slowly into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over a low heat for 4-5 minutes, whisking, until the mixture thickens. (It should be very thick (think, nearing stiff peaks, it will be longer than 5 minutes, mine took nearer 10).)
5. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter until melted and incorporated (If not using vanilla pod, and using vanilla extract, add that now). Transfer to a bowl, cover the surface with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool. Set aside to chill in the fridge.
6. For the jam, tip the raspberries into a deep saucepan with the sugar and two tablespoons of water. Cook gently over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil and boil vigorously for about four minutes, or until the temperature reaches 104C/219F on a sugar thermometer. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and leave to cool completely.
7. For the sponge, preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/Gas 4. Grease and line the base of a 23cm/9in springform tin with baking parchment.
8. Put the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and using an electric mixer, whisk together until the mixture is very pale and thick and the whisk leaves a trail on the surface when lifted. This will take about five minutes.
9. Sift the cornflour, flour and baking powder over the egg mixture and carefully fold in using a large metal spoon. Fold in the melted butter, taking care not to over mix (don't add the butter with the flour to avoid overmixing, as you'll end up with lumps of roux in your eggs, but you don't need to wait until the flour is completely combined before adding the butter).
10. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until the sponge is golden-brown and has just started to shrink away from the sides of the tin. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
11. For the fondant rose, roll 10 little pieces of fondant into small balls about the size of a cherry stone.
12. Dust two small pieces of greaseproof paper with icing sugar and one by one, place the balls of fondant between the sheets of greaseproof and flatten each ball out with your fingers, to a thin circle, approximately 2cm/1in in diameter. These form the petals. Roll the first petal up like a sausage to form a bud and wrap the remaining petals around the bud to make a rose. Bend and curl the edges of the petals, to make them look more realistic. Leave to dry for at least an hour.
13. To assemble the cake, using a serrated knife, cut the cake horizontally into three even layers. Place one of the sponges onto a serving plate. Spread a very thin layer of custard over the base of the first sponge.
14. Spoon a quarter of the custard into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe a border around the edge of the sponge – this is to contain the jam (pipe a big fat border. Twice. It may still explode, but at least you tried).
15. Spoon the jam over the sponge, and spread evenly within the border (I didn't need to do any spreading, there was so much jam).
16. In a bowl, whip 600ml/20fl oz of the double cream (I would suggest using 650ml here and less later) to firm peaks. Fold half of the whipped cream into the remaining custard.
17. Spread one-third of the custard cream over the jam.
18. Place the second sponge on top and spread over the remaining custard cream.
19. Place the third sponge on top. Spoon over the remaining whipped cream covering the sides (the whipped cream is the best way of containing the jam - slap it over leaks and smooth over) and smoothing into a small dome shape on the top (ran out of cream). Set aside in the fridge for an hour.
20. For the marzipan, mix the ground almonds and sugars in a mixer fitted with a dough hook, before adding the eggs and almond extract.
23. Whip the remaining 150ml/5½fl oz  (I would suggest only using 100ml of cream here) of cream to medium peaks and spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle. Pipe around the base of the cake.
24. Spoon the melted chocolate into a small paper piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe a swirl over the top of the cake (I had cream left over from the 150ml, so used this to top the cake instead). Top with the fondant rose.

As usual I am entering this in Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off 2014 and Supergolden Bakes GBBO Bake Along.









Not even brandy in it to drink afterwards...
   

However:


Sunday, September 07, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.5)

I have a confession. Since I make the Technical Bake "blind" (in that I have not seen the episode before baking,) it turns out I accidentally cheated when making this weeks Mini Pear Pies.



Let me explain. About a month ago, the pears on our tree were ready. Since they do not keep well, and all arrive at once, I poached them, then froze them in their poaching liquor.




When this Technical Bake came around, I was delighted to find a use for my poached pears, so I defrosted about half and set about. This was almost certainly the Technical Bake I found easiest, and after watching the episode, I understood why - I did not have the challenge of working out when the pear was cool enough for the wrapping.




Really, I only had an advantage over the tent based bakers, as any cook at home would have the luxury of time to leave the pears to cool completely. On the other hand, the size of my pears (tiny. No really. Absolutely minature - the equivalent to about a quarter of a normal pear,) made the removal of the core quite tricky. The instructions on the BBC food website indicate that a melon baller would be a good way to remove the core. If I had used a melon baller there would be no pear left. Instead the end of a vegetable peeler and a great deal of sticky patience was required.




I was delighted with the rough puff - this is the first time I've tried to make it, and it puffed up and flaked beautifully.


Recipe (from BBC Food)

Ingredients
For the rough puff pastry
200g/7oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling
100g/3½oz butter, in a block, frozen (well and truly frozen is best for nice marbling and consequent flakiness - I put mine in the freezer the night before making this bake)
100g/3½oz lard, in a block, frozen (see note for butter)
1 free-range egg, beaten (this is for glazing, I omitted a glaze)
2 tbsp granulated sugar

For the poached pears
6 large, firm pears (preferably ones that are straight and tall - hahahahahahahaha - see pictures)
300g/10½oz caster sugar
500ml/18fl oz dry white wine (my pears were actually poached in a simple syrup of sugar and water only, as they were only being poached to preserve them, I added a little cinnamon and lemon to the syrup before reducing it for brushing the pears)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, zest only

Preparation method
1.For the rough puff pastry, measure the flour into a bowl and grate the butter and lard into the flour (this is the point where you'll believe that you are about to succumb to frostbite, shake it off). Use a knife to coat the butter and lard in the flour. Add 120-150ml/4-5fl oz cold water and mix until it comes together to form a firm dough (I erred on the lower side, and the dough was just about right, but it will depend on the warmth and humidity of your kitchen).
2. Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface to a rectangle. Fold the top third down and then fold the bottom third up and over. Turn it 90 degrees (a quarter turn) and repeat the rolling and folding. Set aside, covered, in the fridge for 20 minutes.
3. Repeat the rolling, folding and chilling twice more so you have a total of four folds and turns. Set aside, wrapped in cling film, in the fridge until ready to use (at least another 20 minutes).
4. Meanwhile, for the poached pears, peel the pears, keeping the stems intact. Tip the caster sugar into a large saucepan with 400ml/14fl oz water, the white wine, cinnamon and orange zest and slowly bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for three minutes.
5. Add the pears to the pan. Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Reserving the syrup, remove the pears from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool on kitchen paper. Using a melon baller or small teaspoon remove the core from the pears (see comment above).
7. Return the syrup to the heat and boil rapidly for 10-15 minutes until the volume of the liquid is reduced by half and the syrup is thick. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
8. When the fruit and syrup are cool (read - completely cold), roll out the chilled pastry to a rectangle measuring 60x20cm/23½x8in and a thickness of no more than 5mm/¼in.
9. Using a sharp knife and a ruler cut the pastry into long strips 8mm/⅓in wide (I think my strips could have been a litte narrower, but 8mm is a funny size to try to eyeball!). You will need about 18-20 strips.
10. Brush the pears with the cooled sugar syrup and starting from the bottom, wrap the pastry strips around the pears (I found it was easiest to stuff the end of the strip into where the core was to get me started, but I fear that this is not the orthodox method). When you come to the end of the pastry strip, brush the end lightly with syrup and press to adhere to the next pastry strip. Continue wrapping until you reach the top of the pear. (Three strips should cover each pear (or one strip for each of my mini-pears)). Tuck the end of the last pastry piece behind the previous dough spiral.
11. Cut out six leaf shapes from the remaining pastry. Draw veins on the leaves with a sharp knife and stick one leaf below the stem of each pastry pear, with a little sugar syrup (I used a cutter. And I didn't draw lines - half of the leaves fell off in the oven anyway!).
12. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C(Fan)/400F/Gas 6. Place the pastry covered pears on a baking tray. Brush the pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
13. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes then serve with a drizzle of the reduced sugar syrup.

I used the leftover rough puff to make a cheeky blackberry galette.


I am entering this post in Supergolden Bakes #GBBO Bake Along and Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off 2014







Sunday, August 31, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.4)

Desserts! Always an odd episode in my mind, as I'm never quite sure what constitutes a dessert, nor why a biscuit or a cake or a sweet bread is not a dessert, indeed, this technical bake caused a few ripples in the definition world, with comments about whether a tiramisu cake was actually, in fact, a cake, not a dessert. I digress.


This technical bake conclusively proved to me that I would struggle to cope with the pressure of the bake-off tent. I don't receive a television signal where I live (story for another day) and, therefore, watch the bake-off at a later date, in the company of The Fair Physiologist, The Pure Mathematician In Exile (when he's not at work) and their son, Little Boy Red. My contribution to this viewing is the technical bake.


Despite knowing that this family is one of the nicest around, and that, quite frankly, if a bake contains cake, chocolate and cream they will eat it, even if it doesn't meet the exacting standards required of a Bake Off Bake, I still found horizontal sponge slicing one of the most stressful things I have ever done. Just saying.


I didn't add the brandy to my tiramisu cake, because 100ml of brandy is an awful lot if you're expected to drive after eating this cake. I replaced it by increasing the amount of water used to make up the coffee, but upon reflection should have increased the coffee too, as the flavour was somewhat lost.


I also did not entirely understand the point of the crumb coat on the top layer of the cake - either this needs to be done all the way through to stop the marscapone cream and sponge from becoming one entity, or it is unneccessary, as the top layer is thoroughly covered in a thick dusting of cocoa, so you cannot see any splodgy bits of sponge anyway.



(External, after paper peeled off, sorry, no internal shots, too keen to tuck in! It was much neater inside, promise)

Having broken my thermometer whilst attempting to temper the chocolate previously (resulting in a drive to the tip clutching a bag with balls of mercury in, which the nice tip man kindly relieved me of), I merely microwaved half until melted, then stirred in the other half, which I had broken into smallish pieces. No measuring temperatures, and the chocolate was beautifully tempered, nice even snap and a lovely shine.

Recipe (from BBC Food)

Ingredients
For the sponge
a little softened butter, for greasing
4 large free-range eggs
100g/3½oz caster sugar
100g/3½oz self-raising flour

For the filling
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
150ml/5½fl oz boiling water
100ml/3½fl oz brandy
750g (3 x 250g/9oz tubs) full-fat mascarpone cheese
300ml/10½fl oz double cream
3 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
75g/2½oz dark chocolate (36% cocoa solids), grated

For the decoration
100g/3½oz dark chocolate, (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped (you do NOT need all of this - 50g would have been plenty)
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Preparation method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 38x25cm/15x10in Swiss roll tin and line with baking parchment.
2. For the sponge, place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and, using an electric hand-held mixer, whisk together for about five minutes, or until the mixture is very pale and thick (here, five minutes really means five minutes, not a half hearted two and a half, you want SO much air in here). The mixture should leave a light trail on the surface when the whisk is lifted (ribbon stage).



3. Sift over the flour (the one and only time I sift flour, I just spent five minutes beating air in, I jolly well want the flour to be light too) and fold in gently using a metal spoon or spatula, taking care not to over mix (also taking care not to under mix, or you'll have blobs of flour - I think would be better to add the flour in stages, but didn't actually test this theory).
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and tilt the tin to level the surface (again, no prodding or smoothing it out, preserve that air!).
5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen, golden-brown and springy to the touch (mine took nearer 30 minutes). Cool in the tin for five minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
6. For the filling, dissolve the coffee in the boiling water and add the brandy (see note above about omitting brandy). Set aside to cool. Now is a good time to grate your chocolate if you haven't already.
7. When the sponge is cold, carefully slice the cake in half horizontally, so you have two thin sponges of equal depth (hahahaha, unless you have some sort of freaky precision cutter these sponges will not be equal depth, just be proud if they are two sponges rather than millions of pieces).
8. Using the loose base of a square cake tin as a guide, cut two 18cm/7in squares from each sponge (I found it easier to cut the squares out and then cut in half horizontally, due to the relatively short blade of my knife). You don't need the sponge trimmings for the tiramisu cake, eat them now to calm your nerves or save them for something else.
9. Line the base and sides of the square tin with long rectangles of baking parchment; there should be plenty of excess parchment which you can use to help lift the cake from the tin later (which is all well and good, but good luck getting the base parchment off the blessed thing!).
10. Place the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually beat in the cream and icing sugar to make a creamy, spreadable frosting.
11. Place one layer of sponge in the base of the lined cake tin. Spoon over one-quarter of the coffee brandy mixture. Then spread (or pipe. I wish I'd piped) one-quarter of the mascarpone frosting over the soaked sponge. Scatter over one-third of the grated chocolate.
12. Place the second sponge on top, spoon over another quarter of the coffee mixture then spread another quarter of the frosting over the soaked sponge. Scatter over another one third of the grated chocolate. Repeat with the third sponge and another one-quarter of the coffee mixture and frosting and the remaining grated chocolate.
13. Place the fourth sponge on top and spoon over the remaining coffee mixture. Using a palette knife spread a very thin layer of the remaining frosting over the top of the cake – this is called a ‘crumb coat’ and will seal in any loose crumbs of sponge. (Nope, still haven't worked out why you need this crumb coat, you won't be able to see the cream once the cocoa dusting is on)
14. Wipe the palette knife and spread the rest of the frosting in a thicker layer over the cake. Chill for at least one hour in the fridge before turning out.
15. While the cake is chilling, melt half of the chopped chocolate in a small bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. (Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.) Gently stir the chocolate until it reaches a melting temperature of 53C/127F.
16. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the remaining half of chopped chocolate and continuing stirring gently until the chocolate cools to 31C/88F or lower and is thick enough to pipe.
17. Place a sheet of baking parchment on the work surface. Use another sheet to make a paper piping bag.
18. Spoon the melted chocolate into the paper piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe decorative shapes onto the baking parchment. Leave to set until required.
19. Dust the chilled tiramisu cake with the cocoa powder (thus hiding any boo-boos in the cream), before turning out (there is no turning involved - you want the cake to still have the top at the top) onto a serving plate using the parchment paper to help lift out of the tin. Decorate with the chocolate shapes.

Now drink the brandy you didn't put in the cake.

I'm entering this in Supergolden Bakes #GBBO Bake Along and Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off 2014 (Desserts) .






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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Wild Plum and Apple Jelly


Foraging for food is one of my favourite things. First - the thrill of the chase, to track down some wild, but tasty, foodstuff. Then the stuffing of pockets and bags. Finally, the joy of creating something that, if not entirely free, certainly of smaller cost.


Wild plums, here, encompasses damsons, sloes and bullaces. The apple is added to mellow the bitterness and provide a little extra pectin. I also had to add lemon juice, as mine initially wouldn't set (I also added too little sugar) and had to reboil (which sadly loses some of the wild plum flavour and makes it a little "caramelly" in flavour.) This jelly is good with game or other "rich" meats, but could just as easily be spread on toast, or in jam tarts, if that's your preference.


The plums were picked over the course of two weeks, as they ripened, and stored in the freezer (whole) until enough were gathered, as it was such a short period of time. If I was going to keep them for longer, I would consider removing the stones first, as they can make the plums (more) bitter.

Ingredients:
2 kg wild plums (I used a mix of damsons, sloes and bullaces)
750g cooking apples (I used underripe bramleys and a few windfalls of indeterminate breed)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1.8 kg granulated sugar (ish - will depend on your juice yield)

1. Place plums in a large pan with 1 litre of water. Cook over a gentle heat until the plums have broken down (this can be assisted with a potato masher.)



2. Tip the mush into a jelly bag over a large bowl and leave to drain.
3. Place the apples, roughly quartered, but not peeled or cored, into the same pan (don't bother washing it!) with 500ml of water. Cook as for the plums.
4. Add the mush to the jelly bag and leave to drain overnight.
(Optional: after 30 mins, empty mush back into pan, add a further 500ml of water and simmer for a further half hour, then tip back into the jelly bag and leave to drain overnight - I did this, but don't think I would bother next time, I think I just diluted the extract)
5. Measure the juice (I got 2 litres) and allow 900g to 1kg of sugar per litre. Don't add the sugar yet.
6. Put clean jam jars in the oven to sterilise.


7. Pour the juice into a very large pan and bring to the boil. Stir in the sugar until dissolved, then return to the boil. Boil until the temperature is ~108C on a jam thermometer, or until your chosen method indicates that the jelly will set.
8. Pour hot jelly into hot jars, and put the lids on. Leave the jars undisturbed to set overnight.