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Lemon drizzle cake January 17, 2010

Posted by Helen in cakes, dessert.
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I love anything with lemon in it, and this cake from Olive magazine didn’t disappoint.  With its soft crumbly inside and sugary crunchy lemony topping … just heavenly with a big mug of coffee on a chilly afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients
225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
Lemons, 3 zested, 2 juiced
4 medium eggs, lightly whisked
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
Icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Butter and line the base of a 20cm cake tin. 

Beat the butter and caster sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add the lemon zest (reserving some for the topping) and mix well. Whisk the eggs gradually into the butter mixture, beating well between each addition – don’t worry if it curdles.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and fold into the cake mixture using a large metal spoon or spatula. Add the ground almonds and ¾ of the lemon juice, and fold until thoroughly combined. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out without any raw mix on it.

Put the cake tin on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile mix together the remaining lemon juice and zest and enough icing sugar to make a runny icing and then drizzle over the top of the cake. Cool in the tin for a further 30 minutes and then remove from the tin and cool completely before serving.

Serve as a pudding, dressed up with a dollop of crème fraîche.

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The world’s best brownies December 30, 2009

Posted by Helen in cakes, chocolate, cookies, dessert.
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Brownie recipes are like men. You go through a lot of them in a lifetime, searching for that perfect one. Along the way, you find some that are quite good and some that are so dreadful you never want to see them again. Most fall somewhere in between – they’re pleasant enough, but you probably wouldn’t bring them home to your mother. No matter how many disasters you come across, you’re still willing to put yourself out there and search for the elusive “one.” You read coookbooks and surf the web in desperation – the cook’s equivalent of online dating. But then … then … all of a sudden one comes along that completely changes your life. That’s how it was for me when I encountered Nigel Slater’s Very Very Good Brownie recipe a few years ago. It was lust at first sight. How could I possibly resist a recipe which fed me such smoothly seductive lines as, “This isn’t just gastroporn, this is positively pay-per-view,” and “What I want is the mother of all brownies – pure, dense and unapologetically raunchy.” Swoon. I know now that I’ll never ever look at another brownie recipe again. I’m a changed woman. A one-recipe woman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients
300g golden caster sugar
250g butter
250g chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3 large eggs + 1 extra egg yolk
60g flour
60g finest quality cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder

You will need a baking tin, about 23cm x 23cm, preferably non-stick, or a small roasting tin.

Set the oven at 180°C/Gas 4. Line the bottom of the baking tin with baking parchment. Put the sugar and butter into the bowl of a food mixer and beat for several minutes till white and fluffy.

Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces, set 50g of it aside and melt the rest in a bowl suspended over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. As soon as the chocolate has melted remove it from the heat. Chop the remaining 50g into gravel-sized pieces.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat them lightly with a fork. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix in a pinch of salt. With the food mixer running slowly, introduce the beaten egg a little at a time, speeding up in between additions. Remove the bowl from the mixer to the work surface, then mix in the melted and the chopped chocolate with a large metal spoon. Lastly, fold in the flour and cocoa, gently and firmly, without knocking any of the air out. Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smooth the top and bake for 30 minutes. The top will have risen slightly and the cake will appear slightly softer in the middle than around the edges.Pierce the centre of the cake with a fork – it should come out sticky, but not with raw mixture attached to it. If it does, then return the brownie to the oven for three more minutes. It is worth remembering that it will solidify a little on cooling, so if it appears a bit wet, don’t worry.

I’m in love.

Coffee and walnut cake November 5, 2009

Posted by Helen in cakes.
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This is one of my very favourite recipes from one of my very favourite cooks – Nigel Slater.  He says this is what he would choose for his last meal, and I think he may have a point. It’s a very light and airy sponge with perfect coffee and nutty flavours, and the rich sweet buttercream icing is a perfect match.

Ingredients
175g unsalted butter
175g unrefined golden caster sugar
65g walnut pieces
3 large eggs
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp instant coffee granules

For the icing:
200g unsalted butter
400g icing sugar
2 tsp instant coffee granules
60g walnut pieces

Line, grease and flour two 21cm loose-bottomed sponge tins. Set your oven for 180C.

Beat the butter and sugar with an electrix mixer until they’re light, pale and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a bowl, break them up with a fork and add them a little at a time to the butter and sugar, beating well after each addition.

Mix the flour and baking powder together and mix into the butter and sugar gently, with the mixer on a slow speed or by hand, with a large metal spoon. Dissolve the coffee granules in 1 tbsp boiling water, then stir into the cake. Chop the walnuts and fold gently into the cake.

Divide the cake mixture between the two cake tins, smooth lightly, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

To make the icing, beat the butter until soft and pale with an electric beater, then add the sugar and beat until smooth and creamy. Stir 1 tbsp boiling water into the coffee granules then mix it into the buttercream. Fold in the walnut pieces.

As soon as it is cool, turn one half of the cake upside down on a plate or board, spread it with a good third of the buttercream, then place the second half on top. Spread the remaining buttercream on top and round the sides. (I find that I prefer really thick icing between the layers and on top of the cake, rather than around the sides.)