briarwood: (No1 LDA Smile)
It's sis's birthday today, and when I asked what birthday cake she wanted she said 'something with chocolate'. Not very specific. Sis is fussy, especially about chocolate, but I couldn't get anything more out of her than that.

So I went through my books and actually, while there are a lot of chocolate-based cakes, I don't have many that really work as an adult birthday cake. What I ended up making is something I've wanted to try for a while. Considering it was my first attempt, I didn't make too big a hash of it. It's a layered cake: three layers of chocolate buttermilk sponge layered with vanilla buttercream, and the whole thing encased in chocolate fudge. If that sounds like I'm giving Sis a heart attack for her birthday...well, yeah, it's pretty much a dietician's nightmare. But should taste amazing.

The chocolate fudge was so much fun to make. The recipe called for cream and syrup heated to boiling then poured over the chocolate, and mixed really, really slowly. I had visions of it going terribly wrong but when the whole thing came together it was such a great yay! moment! I won't be scared of it again.

One of the sponge layers fell to bits while I was assembling the cake. It didn't matter too much as I just carefully squished the pieces back together and hid it under the chocolate fudge. But that's the only thing that went wrong.

Want a pic? Here it is )

I'd love to show you one with all the layers, but the cake hasn't been cut yet.

The recipe came from Tea with Bea by Bea Vo and it's the cake on the cover so you can see what it's supposed to look like, at least.

It's a tough book to puzzle out in parts as there's a lot the author doesn't explain, but judging from my results today it's worth the effort.
briarwood: (Hogfather Death)
This year I was determined to do some proper baking for Christmas. I made my own mincemeat and Christmas pud. The mincemeat made lovely mince pies.

My most Christmassy bake was A gingerbread house )

As my own family have an irrational prejudice against traditional Christmas bakes, I made this Cheesecake! )

Our family tradition for Boxing Day lunch is a buffet: cold cuts of leftover turkey, ham and beef, plus chips and whatever else we've got that can be thrown together without too much effort. I made fresh bread as my contribution. Home baked bread... )
briarwood: (Dollhouse Echo Sierra)
Today I am being very adventurous in the kitchen. I am making a roast chicken as directed by Heston Blumenthal. It's a slow roast at a very low temperature; my cookery teacher from my schooldays would skin my alive for cooking chicken below 180 degrees but in this case I am trusting the master chef.

To go with it, I made Italian-style rosti. The recipe for this one looked really fiddly, but I can't get over how easy it was! I made the dough in 15 minutes before work and left it in the fridge to prove. This afternoon, making the herb dressing (garlic, lemon and thyme) took about ten minutes, and most of that was chopping the herbs. Then I rolled out the dough, painted it with the dressing, rolled it into a tight roll and let it rest a couple of minutes, then sliced it up and rolled each slice flat for cooking. Cooking it is an absolute breeze - super-hot pan, a teeny bit of olive oil and about a minute each side. So simple, and the house smells of garlic and herbs.

Here's a pic of my rosti )
briarwood: (FGT Sign)
Best bread recipe ever, I swear!

Another Dan Lepard recipe, this one is a wholemeal loaf made with grated apple, onion and toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds. There is almost no fat in the recipe but the apple makes the crumb almost as moist as cake. I used the steam method to bake it (a tray of boiling water placed on the shelf under the loaf in the oven) which got me a firm but not crunchy crust.

Dan recommends this bread for a pork sandwich, which is how I planned to eat it. But pulled pork takes a long time to cook and by the time I was done with the bread I was hungry. So I turned the first few slices into cheese on toast using mild cheddar mixed with a little soft cheese and a wee bit of mustard. Seriously, this is the best cheese on toast I have ever eaten!

I can't wait to try it with the pork.

ETA: I got it from Dan's book but I found the recipe online if anyone wants to try it.

Pic under the cut )
briarwood: True Blood - Lafayette from S3 promo pic (TB Lafayette S3)
It's sis's birthday this week, and she requested I make these. The recipe is another from Short and Sweet though I've seen this one elsewhere in various forms, such as this one from BBC Good Food or this one from the All Recipes website. The second is pretty close to Dan Lepard's, which I used. I adjusted Dan's recipe slightly: I'd asked Mum to pick me up some sour cream but she bought the half-fat version. That's generally a bad idea for baking, so I put in more butter than the recipe called for, hoping to balance it out. It seemed to work.The filling is made from melted marshmallows and the icing is just normal icing sugar and cocoa. The little stars are white chocolate - they were left over from the last batch of cupcakes I made before Christmas and I thought they'd add a nice touch.

I must report sis's opinion, as I have not tried one. She says they're delicious - chewy on the inside and the chocolate icing is just slightly bitter.

Chocolate Woopie Pies
briarwood: (No1 LDA Smile)
Back to loaves of bread this week. Well, one loaf. This is from Dan Lepard's recipe for Sour cream sandwich bread. The recipe looked a bit complicated to me when I read it but it was very easy to make and the dough rose like a dream. I increased the amounts in the recipe by about 20% to fit my tin (I must buy a smaller one when I can), and this is the result.

Picture beneath the cut )
briarwood: (UTS LifeYouDontHave)
Here's my latest adventure in baking.

While I love a good home-baked loaf of bread, I can never finish one before it goes stale. So I decided my next baking attempt should be rolls. These I can eat fresh, or freeze and defrost to eat later. Dan Lepard's recipe for Alehouse Rolls calls for either ale or stout (you boil off the alcohol so it doesn't kill the yeast). I used a locally brewed dark ale called Celt; it has a beautifully rich flavour in the bottle and it worked brilliantly for this recipe. I think stout would be a bit much. The other choice in the recipe is between wholemeal, rye or spelt flour; I used spelt. The recipe also involves toasted oats and honey.

I wasn't able to follow the directions for rising the dough perfectly as I was unexpectedly sent shopping in the middle of working on it. This meant that the first rise was about an hour, and the second about 30 minutes, instead of the other way around. But the mistiming does not appear to have adversely affected the result. It's perhaps a little denser than it should be but only very slightly.

The result:

Picture behind the cut )

The crust is firm but not crunchy, which is how I like it. (Crunchy crust tastes wonderful but it cuts my gums to shreds.) The crumb is amazingly tasty. I could eat this bread on its own, no butter or anything, just the bread. The ale gives it that lovely dark colour but the taste isn't beer-like. It tastes of malt and roast nuts, slightly sweet.

It will go beautifully with cheese or a salty meat like ham or salt beef. And I'm definitely making this one again...lots!
briarwood: (FGT Izzy Smile)
Here's my second attempt at baking my own bread.

The first, "Easy white bread" turned out okay, but I forgot to photograph it. This is "White farmhouse tin loaf". The recipe called for a 19" tin and mine was bigger than that, so it didn't get that lovely tin shape. But it's very tasty nonetheless. The texture is better than the first one: the crust is crisp without being cut-gums-open crunchy and the crumb is delightfully soft. Next time I'll increase the ingredients by about 25% and that should fill my tin properly.

Photo under the cut )

I won't post the whole recipe here as it's from a book, not freely available online. The book as mentioned before is Dan Lepard's Short and Sweet. (I will note, however, that if you have a Kindle, or a Kindle ap, you can get a free sample of said book from Amazon and the sample does include this recipe.)

It takes time to make this - most of the day, if you include the whole rising time - but the result is so worth it. Mass-produced bread just isn't the same.
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