I’ve been following Karen Burns-Booth fabulous food blog, Lavender & Lovage, pretty much since its inception. Now, we have the cookbook, newly published this month, Lavender & Lovage: a culinary notebook of memories & recipes from home & abroad. Read on for my review and a recipe for Earl Grey fruit cake with orange icing.
First of all I’d like to wish everyone a Very Happy New Year. May 2014 bring you plenty of chocotunities.
When I saw this spiced stollen traybake over at How to Cook Good Food before Christmas, I knew I would have to make this or something similar very soon. I had no stollen at all last year and it is one of my favourites. A spicy stollen full of fruit and marzipan in cake form is an excellent idea. My version is actually quite different to Laura’s, but hers was the inspiration. These would have been perfect for bringing in the new year along with a glass of something special or for celebrating today, New Year’s Day.
As it happens, my mother’s birthday is on New Year’s Eve and as we were going to be out and about, I needed something portable. She’s a bit of a marzipan fan, so stollen cakes seemed to fit the bill very nicely. I’d also been sent a surprise Christmas parcel from Dr Oetker which handily contained both marzipan and chocolate chips.
This is how I made:
- Added 75g sultanas and 25g mixed peel (homemade) to a bowl together with 25g ground almonds and 2 tbsp rum and left to soak overnight.
- Creamed 150g unsalted butter with 125g cardamom (golden caster) sugar.
- Grated in the zest of a small lemon.
- Added 1/2 tsp freshly ground coriander, a good grating of nutmeg and a good grinding of black pepper.
- Creamed some more until the mixture was very light and fluffy.
- Beat in 3 small eggs.
- Sifted in 160g flour (half wholemeal, half white), 1 tsp mesquite powder (optional), 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of bicarbonate of soda.
- Stirred this in alternately with 1 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp sour milk.
- Folded in the fruit and rum mixture, 50g dark chocolate chips and 100g chopped marzipan.
- Spooned into 15 cupcake cases then scattered a few flaked almonds over the top.
- Baked at 180°C for 20 minutes, then turned onto a rack to cool.
- Dusted with vanilla sugar.
The house smelt deliciously of nutmeg and coriander whilst the cakes were baking. CT and I couldn’t help ourselves, but had to filch a warm one as they came out of the oven. Ooh, they were so delicious, sweet and seasonally spicy.
We ate another one or two whilst watching The Hobbit (second time for us, birthday treat for my mother). They may not have been as impressive as Smaug’s Hoard, but each bite uncovered buried treasure – rum soaked sultanas, marzipan and chocolate chips or occasionally all three. The sponge was light and a glorious yellow just like the dragon’s gold. And if CT takes another one without permission, I’ll be breathing fire all over him. Actually he’s unable to fulfil his desire as my mother squirrelled the remainder away and is jealously guarding her hoard.
The beautiful golden yellow sponge was the result of some local free range eggs which I buy whenever I am able. I am thus entering it into this month’s Tea Time Treats where the theme is eggs. This has been chosen by the new co-host Jane of The Hedgecombers. I’m pleased to say that Karen of Lavender and Lovage remains.
With those local eggs in mind where the chickens truly run freely, I am entering this into Shop Local at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.
I’m also submitting this to Jac’s Bookmarked Recipes over at Tinned Tomatoes where you can see last month’s round-up.
You can’t go through the Easter period without hot cross buns. They’re traditional! Homemade are, of course, the best. These super delicious choc cross buns are made with a pre-ferment and have a chocolate cross painted on the top.
Sweet pastries and breads is the challenge for Teatime Treats this month set by Karen of Lavender and Lovage. This event is co-hosted by Kate of What Kate Baked. I thought I had a sweet tooth, but you should see what these two get for tea!
I was going to enter the cinnamon and chocolate buns I made for this tea party back in the summer, but still haven’t posted. But then I picked up my copy of Short & Sweet and there was no looking back. Dan’s top tea cakes were just crying to be made; not only did they use loads of peel (and I had quite a lot of my candied lemon and orange peel to use up), but they also had chocolate in them. Chocolate? Really?
Well, you could of course use beef dripping, but if you’re a vegetarian like me, you can, according to Dan, substitute this with a good quality white chocolate as the cocoa butter gives a softer consistency to the crumb than would butter. It all sounded rather intriguing and I was keen to try it out.
I sort of followed Dan’s recipe, which you can see here, but I used half bread flour and half wholemeal. I also only used 50g currants and I added 150g fresh cranberries cut in half. I used G&B white chocolate and my own mixed peel – which I cut into pieces with a pair of scissors.
I found this rather a lengthy and faffy process and I wasn’t at all enthused by the stickiness of the dough which I found quite hard to work with. I was also rather upset that the tops got burnt, if making these again, I would not bake them at such a high temperature. But I have to say these were the BEST tea cakes I’ve ever eaten. They were also huge. I divided the dough into ten pieces rather than the nine that Dan had stated and they were still massive. This of course was by no means a bad thing, but twelve or a baker’s dozen would have produced a more reasonable size.
So what made them so good? The combination of tangy citrus peel &, the tartness of cranberries and the balancing sweetness of the teacake itself. The crumb was deliciously soft just as Dan had promised. CT hates mixed peel, but he loved these tea cakes slathered in butter stating they were possibly the ultimate comfort food.
This was one of the first #shortandtweet challenges, which I now wish I’d done along with everyone else. I shamelessly called for help when I was having problems folding the very sticky dough. You can see the round-up here and get an idea of what better ones than mine might look like.
I’m also entering this into Ren’s commendable Simple and in Season blog event, which is something I thoroughly approve of. Do check out her blog Ren Behan, a title which represents her blog’s contents very well.
Having missed trying a piece of the Orange and Earl Grey Cake, I was keen to make another one as soon as possible. I could have made the exact same one and one day I will, but having spotted a recipe for orange cassata cake in Dan Lepard’s Short & Sweet, I thought I’d try that one instead – it did contain chocolate after all!
This is how I did it:
- Creamed 125g unsalted butter with 125g cardamom sugar until light and fluffy.
- Grated in the zest of 1.5 oranges and creamed a bit more.
- Beat in 3 medium eggs (sadly duck eggs are no longer in season), alternating each one with a spoonful of the flour mixture.
- Sifted 200g sifted flour (half spelt and half white), 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda, 25g custard powder (substituted for the cornflour which I didn’t have) and 75g icing sugar.
- Stirred this in to the egg mixture alternately with 75g milk.
- Divided the mixture between two 22 cm round cake moulds and baked at 180C for 20 minutes.
- Left to cool for 10 minutes then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Beat 250g curd cheese (I used quark). The recipe asked for ricotta which I’d wanted to use, but couldn’t get hold of any.
- Grated in the zest from the remaining half orange, reserving a few strands for decoration.
- Stirred in 40g chopped dark orange chocolate (I used Lindt Orange Intense which also contains pieces of orange and almonds), 1 tsp vanilla extract and 15g very finely chopped mixed peel. CT is not a fan of mixed peel so I didn’t use as much as the recipe stated.
- Beat 100g icing sugar with 3 tbsp of orange juice until it was soft enough to spread but not so runny it would slide off the cake as the Earl Grey icing had previously done.
- Sandwiched the two cakes together with the cheese mixture.
- Topped with the icing and scattered the reserved strands of orange zest over the top.
This was a deliciously citrussy cake, but it tasted of real orange, rather than that horrible synthetic taste you so often get with some commercial offerings, which neither CT nor I can abide. It had a good firm, but moist texture and was well risen. With the chocolate in the filling only and all layers containing orange, the orange was allowed to be the star of the show. It’s an orange cake with chocolate not a chocolate cake with orange. The icing was just the right amount to give a welcome addition of sweetness, but not so much as to be cloying. The chocolate in the filling provided a nice contrasting crunch to the sponginess of the cake and the cheese was pleasantly tart and creamy. CT, who is not a lover of peel, remained mercifully silent on the subject of its presence – result!