22 November 2009

Greedy Pudding Pear Cake


(just look at that juicy slice of pear, what you can't see is the crunch of caramel you hit, before you bite into that luscious pear)

I was watching an episode of River Cottage on replay. I like to watch it this way, so if anything gruesome comes on, I can just fast forward. I do love Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's passion for food and love watching him cook, but some of it is just stomach churning.

Not so this dish. A delicious pear cake, ever so moist with slices of juicy, caramelised pears sunk into it's depths. I slammed on my pause button and grabbed a notebook (there is always one to hand anywhere in the house) and started to scribble down the recipe as he cooked. My mouth was watering as I continued to watch and scribble. Needless to say, I made the cake as soon as I could lay my hands on some ground almonds.

Gorgeous, just gorgeous! I just wish my evening photography was as good as the cake was!























Greedy Pudding Pear Cake

cake

300g butter
250g caster sugar
4 large eggs
150g self-raising flour
150g ground almonds
a pinch of cinnamon


pears

3 tender to firm pears
25g butter
1 tbsp caster sugar

Heat the oven to 180 c/ fan 160 c/ gas 4 (Hugh didn't specify the oven temperature, so I just went with the temperature I used for my Apple Cake). Line a 20cm cake tin. I like to use the inserts available from Lakeland, it saves time and effort. Don't you just hate lining cake tins?

Peel the pears and cut into 3 long slices. Melt the butter until bubbling and then add the sugar. move the pan about until the sugar has begun to melt and the cook the pears in this syrup for a few minutes until they are beginning to colour. Once they are tender, take of the heat and set aside.

Whisk the 300g of softened butter until pale and fluffy (one of Hugh's tips), then add the caster sugar. Still whisking, crack open 4 eggs and add one at a time. Sieve in the flour and ground almonds and fold together. Sprinkle over the cinnamon and stir into the mixture.

Smooth the cake mixture into your prepared cake tin, top with the pears, making a flower pattern. Spoon any left over caramel from the pan over the pears and the bake in the middle of a pre-heated oven for 45 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

Hugh's cake came out a lot browner than mine, but I think that might have been to do with the oven temperature. When I make this again, I will be doing it just the same way. The cake was lovely and golden and baked to perfection. I may add a little more cinnamon next time, as it wasn't very noticeable in the first cake. My friend Andrew, hinted that he would like some ginger in it next time and I think that would work well too.

15 November 2009

Cook Express
















I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this latest offering from Dorling Kindersley - Cook Express. I was planning on setting this book up as a prize, however, it is just too water damaged to give out. Thanks DHL!

All is not lost though, a large selection of recipes from this beautifully put together book are available as a widget for your desktop and it is also available to buy directly from Dorling Kindersley or from Amazon UK with a massive 40% discount.

The book is divided into two sections - Everyday and Food For Friends.

Everyday
























No Cook
(Mixed Mushroom Spinach & Orange Salad )
(Flageolet Bean & Smoked Cheese Salad)
Speedy Suppers
Everyday Chicken
10 Ways With ..... (cheese, salmon, mince, sausages, eggs, bacon and ham & turkey)
Faster Pasta
























Pizza, Quesadillas and Pancakes
(Perfect Pizza Dough)
Easy Tarts & Pies
Get The Most From Your Roast
Batch & Freeze
Store cupboard


Food For Friends

Menu Planners
No-Fuss Finger Food & Dips
Tapas-Style
Simple Starters
Big-Pot Gatherings
All-in-One Roasts
Barbeque
























No-Cook Desserts
(Meringue & Mango Mess)
(Orange & Chocolate Tiramisu)
(Tropical Trifle)
(Blackcurrant Jelly with Vanilla Cream)
Freeze Ahead Desserts
Indulgent Puddings
Cakes & Bakes


The book has a massive 700 recipes, each and every one of them illustrated with a mouthwatering photo. I don't know about you, but I hate cookbooks that don't give you photos alongside recipes.

Each section of the book includes tips and techniques to compliment the recipes and there is a really nifty recipe chooser at the front of the book, which shows photos of each dish in the book, with title, cooking time and page number listed underneath. A much smarter way of offering an index, more tastespotting than the average index and saves a lot of time when browsing for a recipe.

There are a good selection of vegetarian recipes in this book and all recipes can be made in under 15 or 30 minutes, so great for rustling up dishes after work or when you are short of time.

Some of my favourite recipes in the book are Artichoke & Fennel Dip, Swiss Chard & Gruyere Cheese Tart, Pearl Barley & Borlotti Bean One-Pot, Mushroom & Ricotta Pies with Red Pepper Pesto, Pear & Cinnamon Strudel, Blueberry Ripple Cheesecake and Apricot Crumble Shortcake.

I am sure I will be sharing a recipe or two from the book with you soon. It is a real treasure trove.

Disclosure Statement: I received this book free from the publisher to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

08 November 2009

Jaffa Drizzle Sponge Cake





























When I saw this cake on Anne's blog I was bowled over. I was due to start work at 1pm that day, but I had to make this cake right away. I had an hour and a half before I set off for work and I figured I could just about manage it, so I rushed downstairs to confirm I had all the ingredients. As luck would have it I had everything I needed and so I set to work making the most glorious sponge cake, flavoured with orange and drizzled with chocolate.

Anne's original recipe is here. I'm reproducing it here because I tinkered with it a little as Anne said it would be nice with a little more orange.

Jaffa Drizzle Sponge Cake

Ingredients

140g butter , softened
200g self-raising flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
200g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
6 tbsp milk
finely grated zest 1 large orange
3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice from said orange


To Finish

the rest of the freshly squeezed orange juice from aforementioned orange
50g golden caster sugar
50g dark chocolate


Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line the base of a 1.2-litre loaf tin. Put all the cake ingredients into a bowl and beat with a hand whisk or wooden spoon for 3-5 mins, until light and fluffy. Spoon the mix into the tin and level the top.

Bake for 40-50 mins, until golden brown and firm to the touch. Meanwhile, heat the orange juice and sugar gently in a small pan, stirring until dissolved. When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and spoon over the orange mix. Leave to cool in the tin, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Break up the chocolate and melt over a pan of simmering water Drizzle over the cake and leave to set.

































What can I say about this cake? Well it is marvellous. The smell of orange wafting around the house while it baked was wonderful and it didn't disappoint on tasting either. The sponge was lovely and light and you could really taste the orange, although it wasn't overpowering and all topped off with dark chocolate. It was like a giant jaffa cake. What more could you ask for?

Just in case any of you aren't familiar with jaffa cakes, they are made by McVities and are a british biscuit/cake with a sponge like base, a layer of orange jelly all topped off with a coating of dark chocolate and they are very, very addictive!

My skills at drizzling leave a great deal to be desired. If any of you have any tips on how to drizzle more evenly and delicately I would be very grateful. Oh and you may have noticed I drizzled a little white chocolate on my cake with no more finesse than the dark chocolate.

Well, the cake received rave reviews and I have made it again since. I thought I was being clever the second time I made it and I creamed the butter, eggs and sugar together before adding the other ingredients, but to be honest I think it was a little lighter using the throw-everything-in-at-once technique.

My parents have since put in a request for another one and soon! There only complaint with the last one was that I only gave them half and it didn't last long enough.