It’s suddenly hit me that Easter is not much more than a week away. Time to get organised with Easter eggs and a bit of Easter baking. These almond Easter thumbprint cookies turned out to be a real hit. They’re made with wholemeal spelt flour and ground almonds with a good dollop of amaretto chocolate ganache in the middle. Oh, and a cheeky little Easter egg perched on top – it’s all about the nest at this time of year.
We’ve had the worst year ever on our plot. Lack of time combined with mega numbers of pests including deer, has meant little survived. We do, however, have plenty of kale. When I found a big bag of kale in my veg box last week, I knew I had to up my game. The result was a big batch of these vibrant green kefir kale pancakes. Served with vegetable tomato sauce and fried halloumi, it made for a most delicious meal – several meals in fact.
Back along, nearly three years ago to be exact, I hosted a six course chocolate themed dinner party for friends. These rhubarb friands with white chocolate (that’s with an a not an e) accompanied the rhubarb, rose and white chocolate ice-cream that made up the last course but one. With rhubarb already in season, this seems like a good time to finally publish the recipe.
When I set banana as this month’s ingredient for We Should Cocoa, I didn’t have anything particular in mind, but with the run of wet weather we’ve been experiencing down in Cornwall over the last few days, I needed comfort and cheer. It had to be pancakes. Not just any old pancakes, but something a little luxurious which was also healthy, delicious and above all comforting, Banana pancakes it was then – with added ricotta.
Having seen a a review of the Ozeri Green Earth Frying pan over at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary with its toxin-free, non-stick qualities, I was keen to try it out for myself. I fell in love with the cheerful lime green colour, despite my desire for only red equipment in my kitchen. I particularly liked its non-polluting environmental credentials. I’ve always been very wary of non-stick cookware and have tried to steer clear of it due to its purportedly toxic nature. Made out of heavy-gauge anodized aluminium for even cooking, the natural ceramic coating on this pan is 100% PTFE and PFOA free, meaning there are no heavy metals or chemicals present. The surface is textured which apparently helps to prevent food sticking and also speeds up cooking times by allowing heat to flow underneath the food. Ozeri claim that the coating is more durable and scratch resistant than other non-stick pans – only time and use will tell on that one.
The task this month from Belleau Kitchen was to select our 30th cookbook and then make the recipe from whatever was on page 30 – this is the 30th RR after all. I always approach Random Recipes with some trepidation as you just never know what you might get landed with, but off I went to Eat Your Books to find my 30th cookbook. In case you’ve missed it, I have a giveway running at the moment for a lifetime’s membership of Eat Your Books – I can’t recommend it highly enough. As it happened, I struck lucky and my 30th book was Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. For many years, this was the only book on my bookshelf dedicated to baking, so I know it well. Now that I have many others, I don’t use it as often; I was glad to be persuaded to renew my acquaintance. It also meant, that with any luck I might be able to enter this into Forever Nigella.
The next task was to go and find the book and turn to page 30 – Rhubarb Cornmeal Cake. Now this couldn’t have been more opportune. I made this cake once before, many years ago, so I already knew it was a good one. I was shortly to be baking for Liskeard’s first pop-up cafe and was wondering what gluten-free bake I could include. With a little tweaking, namely substituting the wheat flour for buckwheat, this would do very nicely, I thought. The addition of white chocolate could only improve things and would allow it to appear on Chocolate Log Blog. I’ve already established that rose and rhubarb make for a fine combination, so I wanted to include some rose syrup here for added interest.
So this is how I made:
Rhubarb and Rose Polenta Cake
- Washed and trimmed the rhubarb, cutting it into ½ cm slices.
- Placed in a bowl and covered with 100g of cardamom sugar (caster) to extract some of the juice. Added 4 tbsp rose syrup.
- Melted 50g white chocolate (G&B) in a bowl over hot water.
- Creamed 125g unsalted butter with 150g cardamom sugar (caster) until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the cooled chocolate.
- Beat in 2 large duck eggs, one at a time.
- Sifted in 150g buckwheat flour, 155g fine cornmeal, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, ¼ tsp salt and 1 tsp ground cinnamon.
- Stirred in 250g natural yogurt alternately with the flour until just combined.
- Gently stirred in the rhubarb and juice.
- Poured into a 23cm cake mould and baked at 180° C for about 50 minutes until the top was well risen and springy to the touch.
- Covered with tin foil after the first 30 minutes to prevent the top burning.
- Left to cool for 20 minutes, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Dusted with icing sugar and scattered with rose petals.
The bake came an honourable second behind the most popular one, the chocolate cake. Sadly, I didn’t get to try any, but I had very good feedback and all of it disappeared. The very first person to try anything was gluten intolerant, so she was delighted to have something tasty she could eat.
As soon as I heard that Victoria had chosen mint as this month’s We Should Cocoa ingredient, I knew immediately I wanted to use fresh mint. We have an abundance of both spearmint and peppermint growing down at the plot and it seemed criminal not to use some of it for this challenge. That’s as far as I got for a while, but then along came the Cornish strawberries. Warmed by the sun (we did get a few days of it), I couldn’t resist the scent of an enticing tray of them as I passed by our local greengrocers – the decision to incorporate strawberries marinaded in mint syrup was made. The next leap was simple, Kate had set layer cakes as this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, so that is what I planned to do. The last piece of the jigsaw came from Janine who chose cocktails for her Baking with Spirit challenge. Woohoo, last year I came up with the cocktail Chocadoodledoo, using vodka, chocolate, mint and cream, so all I had to do was use some of my mint schnapps and add cream. So, maybe the strawberries didn’t quite fit in, but it is June for goodness sake and it’s meant to be summer. I used Pam Corbin’s recipe in Cakes for the Genoese but used duck eggs and buckwheat flour to make it gluten free.
This is how I made:
Chocolate Genoese with Minted Strawberry Cream
- Heated 100g golden caster sugar with 100 ml water in a pan and simmered for a few minutes. Added a handful of spearmint leaves, covered the pan and simmered for a further 5 minutes. Turned off the heat and left to infuse for an hour.
- Stirred in 1 tbsp homemade mint schnapps.
- Melted 75g unsalted butter in a pan over low heat.
- Using electric beaters, beat 125g of golden caster sugar and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt with 4 duck eggs for about 10 minutes on high speed, when the mixture was pale, thick and had quadrupled in volume.
- Sifted in 100g of buckwheat flour with 25g cocoa powder in two batches. Folded each batch into the eggs as gently as possible.
- Poured the cooled butter down the side of the bowl and folded in – again as gently as possible.
- Divided between two 8 inch cake moulds and baked at 180C for 22 minutes when the tops were firm and a cake tester came out clean.
- Roughly chopped a punnet of Cornish Strawberries and poured over two tbsp of the mint syrup. Stirred and left to infuse.
- As soon as the cakes came out of the oven poured the remaining syrup over the tops, then left for 15 minutes.
- Turned out onto a wire rack and left to cool completely.
- Whisked 150 ml whipping cream until peaks formed.
- Spooned the strawberries and juice over one cake, then covered with the cream.
- Placed the remaining cake on top and dusted with icing sugar.
The cake was as light as a feather and disappeared rather too quickly. The mint gave a subtle cooling quality which was refreshing and the slight alcoholic kick added a frisson of sophistication. The strawberries and cream did exactly what was required of them. The rain may have poured down, but it felt like summer in our house as we gorged on this delicious minted strawberry and cream chocolate cake.
I’m also entering this to Karen’s Cooking with Herbs as both the cake and strawberries are infused with fresh mint.
Whilst I’m at it, I may as well enter it into Ren’s Simple and in Season as it features both mint and strawberries.
And of course I mustn’t forget Made with Love Mondays on Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/Luv.
And finally, I think, I’m linking this up to Recipe of the Week with Emily of A Mummy Too. It does what it says on the tin!
|Pear, Carob and Honey Cake|
When I was living at home as a teenager, my mother and I went through one of our sporadic health kicks and didn’t eat or drink any chocolate for a few months. Carob powder was the substance we used to replace it, both in drinks and in baking. It was an acquired taste but really rather nice once I got used to it. Whilst the only comparison to cocoa was its form and colour, it had a pleasant flavour which was not at all bitter. When I saw some carob in a health food shop recently, I had a yen to make a carob cake again and remind myself of its qualities.
Dom has decided to go on a health kick this month, so for Random Recipes we are tasked with picking a “happy and healthy” recipe. I immediately thought of my new book, Love Bake Nourish by Amber Rose. I shall be posting a review of this at some point, but suffice it to say I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. Although there are only a few chocolate recipes in it, I asked CT to pick any page number in the belief I could always add chocolate if it wasn’t already present in the recipe.
Page number 46 gave me Caramelised Pear and Buckwheat Pudding Cake. This couldn’t have been more fortuitous; I had just been sent a surprise tray of South African apples and pears from Beautiful Country, Beautiful Fruit, so was really pleased to have landed on this one and the recipe sounded delicious. However, the more I scrutinised it, the more I thought it just didn’t lend itself to chocolate. As I was about to ask CT to pick another number, I had a brain wave – carob might work. This was a “free from” cake, having neither wheat nor sugar, so why not make a “free from chocolate” cake too?
The recipe called for maple syrup, but as I didn’t have any of that, I used a mixture of honey and my homemade dandelion honey instead.
This is how I made:
Caramelised Pear, Honey and Carob Cake
- Ground the seeds from two cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar.
- Peeled, quartered and cored two firm Williams pears.
- Melted 25g unsalted butter in a pan with 2 tbsp dandelion honey on a medium to low heat.
- Added the cardamom powder and stirred to distribute.
- Added the pears and left for about 5 minutes to brown a little. Turned them over and did the same to the other side.
- Whipped 150g unsalted butter with 125g New Zealand thyme honey until light and creamy.
- Beat in 2 large duck eggs, one at a time.
- Sifted in 75g buckwheat flour and 50g carob powder.
- Folded this in together with 75g ground almonds.
- Spooned this into a 22 cm cake mould.
- Placed the pear quarters in a fan shape on top of the cake and scraped the remaining caramel over the tops.
- Baked at 170C for 40 minutes until the cake was risen and a skewer inserted into the middle came out clean.
- Left to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Dusted the top with icing sugar.
|Gluten Free Pear, Carob and Honey Cake|
I was really pleased with the appearance of this cake, with the batter rising above the pears giving an appealing sunken look to the fruit. The crumb was close textured, but not in the least bit heavy with a melt in the mouth quality. I was right, carob, caramel and pear make for an excellent combination. It was a delight to get reacquainted with carob and I’m wondering why its been so many years since I’ve used it.
Random Recipes is a monthly cooking challenge devised by Dashing Dom of Belleau Kitchen, whereby you get to cook a recipe from your cookbooks that has been chosen randomly. I’ve been in from the beginning and this is my favourite blogging challenge (excluding We Should Cocoa of course); I look forward to it with some trepidation each month – you never know what you are going to get.
I’m also submitting this to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays whereby everything must be made from scratch.
Best of British comes back to the South West this month from London and has now reached the county of Dorset. The first and if truth be told, only thing that came to mind when thinking about Dorset speciality food was Dorset Apple Cake. Strangely, with all of my cookery books I didn’t have a single recipe for this. So, I resorted to the net and came up with this winner – voted the Dorset National Dish in 2006 by Greg Coomer.
Like many other people this year, I haven’t had nearly as many apples from my mother’s trees as normal, but I still have a few. I’d been mulling over an apple cake for a while and wanted to include a bar of Lindt Luscious Caramel in it. Easy peasy, I would adapt Greg’s cake of course. I made a larger quantity as I don’t have an 8″ cake mould, omitted the lemon peel, substituted chocolate for raisins and used cardamom sugar. I also substituted buckwheat for the specified cornflour and did my usual mix of flours. I also used, err, Cornish apples – shhhhh!
This is how I did it:
- Weighed out 10oz flour (4oz spelt, 4oz plain white, 2oz buckwheat) and sifted into a bowl with 2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp bicarb of soda.
- Added 5oz cardamom (caster) sugar.
- Rubbed in 5oz unsalted butter until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
- Peeled, cored and diced 250g of tart apples (Cornish variety – label missing) stirring into the mixture to coat as I went along so the apples didn’t brown.
- Made a well in the centre and added 2 medium eggs and 2 tbsp milk.
- Stirred until all combined.
- Added a chopped 100g bar of Lindt Luscious Caramel and stirred in.
- Spooned into a 21cm cake mould.
- Cored and sliced one tart apple, but left the peel on.
- Drizzled over 1 tbsp lemon juice to stop the slices from browning, then arranged the slices on top of the cake.
- Scattered over 1 tbsp of soft brown sugar.
- Baked in the oven at 180C for 35 minutes.
My friends the friands are back. This time it’s with a bright pink fruity version. I give you my very own mini raspberry & white chocolate friands, made for after dinner nibbles with friends.
This is what I did:
- Melted 60g unsalted butter in a small pan and left to cool.
- Crushed 50g raspberries in a small bowl with the back of a fork.
- Whisked 2 duck egg whites until frothy in a larger bowl.
- Whisked in 80g sifted icing sugar.
- Gently stirred in the melted butter and crushed raspberries.
- Stirred 30g buckwheat flour and 40g ground almonds.
- Stirred in 50g white chocolate chips.
- Placed a teaspoon of the mixture in 12 mini silicone cupcake cases.
- Placed a whole raspberry on top then filled the cases up with more mixture.
- Divided the remaining mixture between 4 larger silicone cupcakes cases.
- Baked for about 15 minutes at 180C until firm and well risen.
- Left to cool for a little, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Dusted with icing sugar.
Utterly scrumptious, these little friands had just the right balance of sweetness and fruity acidity. The juicy texture combined with the bright colour made these gorgeous to look at and just as good to eat. These were so moist they needed to be consumed on the day, but to be honest, this was not a difficulty.
These are the other scrummy friands I’ve made so far.