Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chocolate Macarons (Ladurée Sucré Bake Through)

Sometimes, even with plenty of macaron experience, they just go a bit wrong, and sometimes, you just don't know why! All had seemed well with these shells, but they never developed feet, and the shells were thin and cracked.

The ganache split, when I was adding the second "part" of the cream. On the upside, that was fairly easily rescued by chilling then beating with some liquid glucose. The leftover ganache is now sitting solidly and innocently in the fridge awaiting being turned into truffles.

Still, they tasted pretty good - sweet shells, with a deep, bitter, chocolate filling - despite the liquid glucose, the ganache still had a wonderful dark chocolate bite. They just won't be winning any competitions for looks.

Chocolate ganache
290g 70% cacao solids chocolate
270ml double cream
60g butter
Macaron shells
260g ground almonds
250g icing sugar
15g cocoa powder
65g 70% cacao solids chocolate
6 egg whites + 1/2 an egg white
210g granulated sugar

Recipe - Macarons Chocolate from Sucré

Macarons in the past: Macarons, Almond Macarons, Almond Cake with Macaroon Top

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Almond Cake with Macaroon Top - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (2/100)

Another unusual cake method from Hummingbird Bakery! Butter and marzipan are creamed together, before icing sugar (rather than the usual caster sugar) is added. The marzipan replaces the need for almond extract, and despite the small quantity, imparts a good flavour - not overpowering, but not so subtle that you miss it.

This is also a cake to make you nervous - it requires removing the cake from the oven before it is done, at a stage the recipe terms, "almost done," then applying a macaron batter directly to the top of the cake. It flies in the face of just about everything you're taught about baking - don't open the oven door before the cake is ready, and certainly don't weigh down a cake that is liable to sink (because it wasn't ready) with a wet macaron batter!

Surprisingly, however, it worked! (And, I would like to point out, better than the cake in the book, which has a dip in the middle!) I baked the cake at 150C fan, (Home Sweet Home doesn't give fan temperatures) for 40 minutes, until it was a lovely golden brown on top, and sprang back when prodded, but was still "singing" (an ear placed near the cake heard crackling noises) and then topped it with the macaron.

The recipe also notes that a springform tin is essential, or the cake won't turn out. I didn't read this until I had turned the cake out, and I can verify that if you just use a loose bottomed tin and fully line the sides and bottom with non-stick baking paper, the cake will turn out. My cake is slightly smaller at 7+1/2 inches in diameter, as this was the closest to an 8 inch diameter tin that I had.

80g fine yellow cornmeal (I used maize meal, which I found in my local independent wholefood shop)
80g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
115g unsalted butter, softened
50g marzipan
200g icingsugar
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
60g sour cream
2 large egg whites
125g caster sugar
125g ground almonds

Oooh, look! A nice shiny badge for this bake along (thanks to my genius brother) - if you want to join us on our bake through Home Sweet Home, please do! You don't have to join in for all of it, but if you join us, why not use this badge and pop a link below so we know we're not the only crazy ones out there! (If this proves popular, I'll add a link-up tool so everyone can see what's going on)


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 Next up: Linzer Cookies!

I'm entering this in CookBlogShare

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jaffa Cake Cupcakes - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (1/100)

As you may remember, Pigling and I have decided to battle the post Bake Off Blues (it's a real thing) together by baking through one of our books. It took us a while to decide on a book - eventually we found one we both have - Home Sweet Home by the Hummingbird Bakery. The aim of this bake through is that we will actually try all of the recipes in a cookbook. I don't know about you, but I have several cookbooks where I have never cooked anything from it, or perhaps one or two recipes.

We're hoping to bake all the recipes, at a rate of about one a week - which, given the cover indicates there are 100 recipes, means we'll take about 2 years!! There may be some flexibility in the schedule, but this is up for negotiation. In order to avoid getting bogged down in one type of bake, we are planning to bake one recipe from each chapter in turn, then start again (i.e. week 1 cupcakes, week 2 cakes cheesecakes and roulades, week 3 cookies and biscuits... then back to cupcakes again for week 8)

If you're a baker, and fancy a little bit of light relief and baking fun, why don't you join us? You could bake just one recipe, or all of them, or just cheer from the sidelines! At some point there might be a logo/badge, but not just yet!

Anyway, onto this weeks recipe -  Jaffa Cake Cupcakes. A cupcake formation of the classic jaffa cake - a sponge base, an orange jelly filling and a chocolate buttercream - decorated with a jaffa cake (to remove doubt as to the contents!)

I love the idea of this bake. Hummingbird bakery cupcakes always intrigue me, as there is a much lower proportion of butter, higher proportion of sugar, than I would usually use, and the addition of milk. The batter is also made in an unusual (to me) way - the dry ingredients and butter and mixed together to make a crumb, then the liquid ingredients are slowly added. Normally for a sponge cake, I would cream butter and sugar, add eggs, flavourings and then flour and leavening. Milk would be unlikely to feature.

The Hummingbird method does produce a lovely tender crumb, but a rather crunchy top to the cake - which is remedied by copious quantities of buttercream (a little too much in this recipe, some ended up in the freezer, despite cakes with their volume in buttercream! Next time I would probably make 2/3 of the recipe for the icing, reduce the icing sugar and increase the cocoa content for a more chocolatey icing.)

Strangely the high sugar content makes the batter very sweet (yes, I tested it) but the sponge cake does not suffer. Altogether, this is a rather scrummy, and unusual, cupcake. I may need to invest in a cupcake corer for the future recipes, as my ability to extract cylinders of cake from cupcakes leaves something to be desired! I also couldn't find mini jaffa cakes, hence the large ones were halved to make "ears" for these cupcakes.

70g unsalted butter, very soft
210g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
210ml full-fat milk
2 eggs (large)
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g shredless (smooth) marmalade

Frosting: (but I would make only 2/3 of this)
450g icing sugar (sifted)
60g cocoa powder (sifted)
150g unsalted butter, very soft
60ml full fat milk
jaffa cakes, to decorate.

Recipe, from Home Sweet Home, by The Hummingbird Bakery, but also available as a Waterstones Recipe Card, here.

I am entering this in Cook Blog Share:


 Edited to add the badge:

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Almond Macarons (Ladurée Sucré Bake Through)

You may recall how, post Great British Bake Off, I felt the need for a new baking regime. I chatted to Pigling and we came up with our new bake through.

This is not it. Sorry. I usually bake twice a week, so I thought I'd bake along with her one day a week, and do an independent challenge to hone my patisserie skills separately.

If you've not come across Sucré, or indeed Ladurée, allow me explain. Ladurée is a Parisian bakery, tea salon and patisserie, that has now spread worldwide. Sucré is a book of recipes from Ladurée. It is beautiful, and completely impractical for the kitchen, being pistachio green velvet, with gilded page edges, wrapped in lavender tissue and in a pistacio green box.

The recipes presume a certain degree of baking knowledge, are a little fiddly, slightly more effort than your average cupcake, but usually produce rather spectacular results. (Unfortunately, I failed to take any pictures of the results)

I started at the beginning, with one of their famous macaron recipes (incidentally, there is an entire chapter of macaron recipes) - almond macarons. I forgot the chopped almonds to sprinkle on top, and did not make enough turns of my spatula to loosen the macaron batter (apparently this process of loosening is called macaronage, who knew?!) but the results were eagerly devoured by friends and colleagues. The recipe does produce a fair quantity of macarons, so you may wish to make just half or even just a third of the recipe if you don't have such obliging colleagues.

Macaron shells
275g ground almonds (almond flour)
250g icing sugar
6+1/2 egg whites
210g granulated sugar
100g chopped almonds
Almond cream filling (adapted as neither almond paste with 65% almonds nor unsweetened almond pulp are available where I live)
150g butter
200g ground almonds
110g icing sugar
200ml double cream

The recipe is the Macarons Amande from Sucré.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Apple and Cranberry Autumn Slice

Autumn is truly here.

 Although I appreciate the beauty of the season, with the changing leaves, the legitimacy of spices such as cinnamon and ginger, and warming soups, it always makes me sad to say goodbye to the warmer weather.

The autumn rains, the low mists and the shorter days also have a habit of dampening my spirits (given the leakiness of the house I live in and my car, sometimes the dampening is literal.)

To cheer myself up, and because there was an appeal for traybakes for a fundraising event at work, I adapted a Smitten Kitchen recipe to give it a more autumnal feel.

This is warm and spicy, with a wonderful crunch on top and lovely sweet squishiness within. I removed the lemon, because with the tart apples, it was redundant, but if you're using a sweeter eating variety, you may prefer to pop it back in.

The biscuit mix is very crumbly - it will look like ground almonds in the bowl, but if you squidge it, it will come together, and it bakes up into a solid biscuit on the base and a crisp crumb on the top.

I don't have a 9"x13" tin, so ended up with a 7"x10" tin and a 500g loaf tin for the extras!

Adapted (anglicised and metric-ified) from Smitten Kitchen

200g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
375g plain flour
225g cold unsalted butter
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
500g diced apple (skin left on, but cores, stalks and fuzzy bits removed) - I used a mixture of two heritage varieties that we grow - Winstons (when newly picked these are tart, but sweeten with storage) and Lord Lambourne) but feel free to use any apple of your choice
150g dried cranberries
1+1/2 tsp cinnamon
100g granulated sugar
4 teaspoons cornflour

1. Preheat the oven to 190 C (170C fan). Grease a 9×13 inch tin.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 200g sugar, flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt. Use a fork or pastry blender to blend in the butter and egg. The dough will be very crumbly, and resemble ground almonds. Press half of the dough mixture into the prepared tin.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornflour and cinnamon. Gently mix in the apple dice and cranberries. Sprinkle the apple mixture evenly over the base. Sprinkle remaining dough over the layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until top is golden brown (mine took about 40 minutes). Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.10)

Apologies for the sheer volume of photos in this post, I finally dug out a proper flash (one that arcs) and the light is so good with it that I got a little carried away.

My second apology is that there are no scones. I'll probably be carted away as "not British" or something, but I just don't like them. I find them claggy and unpleasant. Since these two recipes provided enough cake and patisserie to feed a small army, I didn't feel it was necessary to make scones as well!

The Victoria sponges were a doddle, and, for once, I found the horizontal slicing easy (it helped that the cakes had a decent depth.) As strawberries are out of season, I used a mixture of homemade apple butter and homemade wild plum and apple jelly to give a jam with a good texture and colour.

The tartes au citron were less simple - the pastry shrunk terribly (I knew I should have chilled the pastry in the freezer, but live and learn) so there was not quite enough room for the filling, which in turn lead to custard spillage.

And we all know that custard spillage leads to soggy bottoms.

However, in the tarts without spillage, I had wonderful crisp bases, so maybe I would have avoided Mary's stares?

I almost certainly would have run out of time, however, but I'm not sure if that's because my cakes and tarts were larger than those on the show (I'm afraid my dedication to the technical bake cause did not extend to buying a whole new range of bakeware, so I had to make do and mend.)

I also use black eye beans as pastry weights. These have been my weights since I was a student, and seeing as the bag cost me all of 59p and contains so many more beans than commercially available beans, I'm pretty happy. I did note they used rice on Bake Off!

The flavour of this tart was delicious - I had a little leftover filling, so made myself a lemon posset (silly name for a desset, in my opinion, given what else a posset is.)

Point to note - allow the chocolate to cool and thicken slightly before piping, otherwise you too will pipe, "colon" on top of your tarts.)

I'm a little sad that the technical bakes are now over, it has been a wonderful project to follow through, and I have learnt so many new baking skills. Next I'm thinking of baking through Laduree's book, "Sucre" as a homemade patisserie course. Anyone want to join me?

Personally, I think that they missed a trick with this challenge - they should have taken away their kitchen aids and food processors in order to truly make them go "back to basics," just putting time pressure on them, I don't think, makes for good baking - most of us bake to relax, not to get more hyped up, but, as I'm sure I've said before, I am not made for Bake Off!

Recipes (From BBC Food)
For the pastry
175g/6oz plain flour
100g/3½oz cold butter, cut into small cubes
25g/1oz icing sugar
1 free-range egg yolk

For the filling
4 large free-range eggs
100ml/3½fl oz double cream
150g/5½oz caster sugar
3 lemons, juice and zest
icing sugar, for dusting

For the decoration
100g/3½oz plain chocolate (36% cocoa solids), chopped

Preparation method
1. For the pastry, place the flour, butter and icing sugar into a food processor (I used a good old fashioned pastry blender). Pulse briefly until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then add the egg yolk and one tablespoon of cold water. Pulse again until the mixture sticks together in clumps then tip onto a work surface and gather it into a ball with your hands. Knead the pastry just two or three times to make it into a smooth ball. Wrap it in cling film and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
2. Grease 12 x 7.5cm/3in fluted tart tins.
3. Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 5mm/¼in. Cut out circles with a 10cm/4in round cutter and use to line the tins, re-rolling the pastry as necessary. Place the tart cases in the fridge to chill (when I make these again, I will freeze the shells to reduce shrinkage).
4. Preheat the oven to 200C(180C fan)/400F/Gas 6.
5. Cover the base of the tartlets with heat-safe cling film, baking parchment or foil and fill with a few baking beans. Bake blind for seven minutes then remove the cling film and beans (I might also prick the pastry and bake blind for a couple more minutes to prevent puffing up in the next step).
6. Return the pastry cases to the oven for another 4-5 minutes or until they are light golden-brown and completely dry. Set aside to cool while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 170C(150 fan)/325F/Gas 3.
7. For the filling, break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk together with a wire whisk. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and whisk again until they are all well-combined. Pour the filling mixture into a jug, then into the cooled baked pastry cases. To prevent it spilling as they go into the oven, pour in most of the filling so it almost fills the tarts, carefully sit the baking sheet and tarts on the oven shelf, then top up with the rest of the filling to completely fill the tarts.
8. Bake for about seven minutes, or until just set but with a slight wobble in the centre (DO NOT overcook - far better to remove when more wobbly as the custard continues to cook, and if left for longer will crack, curdle or split).
9. Leave to cool slightly then carefully ease the tartlets from their tins an place on a wire rack to cool completely.
10. For the decoration, melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. (Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the surface of the water.) (Allow chocolate to cool slightly and thicken a little) Spoon the melted chocolate into a small disposable piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe the word ‘citron’ or a decoration of your choice on top of the tarts.

For the jam
500g/1lb 2oz strawberries, hulled and halved
500g/1lb 2oz jam sugar

For the sponge
175g/6oz unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
175g/6oz caster sugar
3 large free-range eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g/6oz self-raising flour
300ml/10½fl oz double cream
icing sugar, for dusting

Preparation method
1. For the jam, place the strawberries in a large saucepan and crush with a potato masher.
2. Add the jam sugar and heat gently, stirring continuously, until the sugar dissolves.
3. Keep stirring, increasing the heat, bringing it to a full rolling boil, one that bubbles vigorously, rises in the pan and cannot be stirred down.
4. Start timing and boil for four minutes only. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. (Since strawberries are not in season, I used homemade apple butter and wild plum and apple jelly mixed together to get a good colour and texture)
5. For the sponge, preheat the oven to 190C(170C fan)/375F/Gas 5. Lightly grease the tins with butter.
6. To make the cakes, cream the butter and caster sugar together until the mixture is pale and light. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
7. Sift the flour into the bowl and fold in until the mixture is glossy and smooth.
8. Divide the mixture between the mini sandwich tin cups and level with a teaspoon.
9. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 15 minutes until golden-brown and springy to the touch.
10. Leave the cakes to cool in the tin for two minutes and then ease onto a wire cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
11. Whip the cream to soft peaks and spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle.
12. Cut each cake in half horizontally with a bread knife.
13. Pipe one dot of the cream in the middle of each cake base and the rest in dots around the edges. Drizzle the jam over the cream, place the sponge tops on and lightly sift icing sugar over the cakes.

For the final time, I am entering this into Supergolden Bakes #GBBO Bake Along and Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off. I think I will miss this link up most of all - it's been such fun to be competitive in a tame way, and to see what others have baked.