Posts Tagged ‘Caramel’

h1

Brand New Spatula at (pre) Dawn

December 10, 2010

Winter means that even a modestly early morning in the kitchen is spent facing darkened windows, although this last Saturday the freezing cold snap (might have to revise the use of the term snap as that implies brevity) meant that there was at least the sparkle of ice and snow in the pitch black of my garden at 5am. I was glad to wake early as I had a morning free from builders, a recipe and a brand new spatula (gifted to me on my birthday) to try out.

I really enjoy Dan Lepard’s ‘How to Bake’ series in the Saturday Guardian, it’s one of the first pages I turn to frequently one to cut out and add to the stack slipped into various notebooks and recipe books. I always hope for a cake rather than a bread or pudding recipe and the previous week I was rewarded with a festive fruit cake recipe that was immediately pinned up in the kitchen as ‘one to make soon’ rather than tucked away.

I made my Christmas cakes, in mini loaf form, some time ago to the same Mary Berry recipe as last year and have been tending to them ever since, feeding with Brandy and trying to resist picking at their fruit and nut studded tops,

So I really don’t need another fruit cake in my kitchen –  what a ridiculous statement!

I originally baked this as a gift to take to a family gathering that I’m going to this weekend, and once cooled I double wrapped it ready to be stored for the week. But I just couldn’t resist. The thought of the figs, prunes and walnuts contained in the caramel cake was just a little too much. Plus, I had to cut into it to get a photo so I could properly blog about it didn’t I? Then, of course, the tasting is all important to ensure the feedback I leave here is accurate. I’m not sure at what point photographing and tasting became munching, but my god, this is a tasty cake. So I had to bake two more on Sunday morning. Cake number one has been distributed and devoured by a couple of people, cakes two and three are wrapped and ready to be transported and cakes four and  five are in the planning! This will definitely be my stand by fruit cake from now on.

This has no booze in it (although you could feed afterwards) and no pre-soaking of the fruit so there’s not a huge amount of preparation. In fact with the figs being taken care of with kitchen shears rather than chopping (handy tip that) the prep was quick, especially as the cherries are left whole (although I did give them a rinse) and the walnuts remain in their halves. What you end up with is a cake rich with delicious fruit with wonderful texture from the nuts and whole cherries – I’d even go as far as to say that the addition of alcohol might detract from the soft, warm richness from the caramel.

Dan adds that the cake is ready to ice and decorate ‘as you please’ but I think the only things needed alongside a slice of this is a mug of tea, a slice of sharp cheddar and perhaps an open fire and to enjoy it by. Should you happen to have all, some, or none of the above to hand, the recipe on the Guardian’s site is definitely one to bookmark

h1

The Perfect Project For a Sunday Afternoon

August 10, 2009

Jumping from blog link to blog link I came across Dinner with Julie and a browse through her recipe index lead me to an intriguing sounding Brown Rice Muesli. My favourite meal of the day is breakfast, I often go to bed thinking of my morning porridge and would eat breakfast foods for every meal if I could. Stays in hotels are all about the selection of goodies on offer in the morning – you can keep your eggs and bacon, pastries and muffins no matter how decadent or perfectly cooked, for me it’s all about the cereals on offer, the selection of dried and fresh fruit and if there is the possibility of mixing my own combination, piling the ingredients high and adding plenty of yoghurt then I’m the happiest girl in the room. The Brown Rice Muesli didn’t take my fancy but the recipe was coupled with one for Fleur de Sel Caramels. I’ve been treated recently to some wonderful salted caramel ice cream but have never made anything like it myself.

After the ganache disaster of the previous post that necessitated a mad dash to the shops for extra ingredients, I was left with a fair amount of spare double cream and the caramels were a perfect way to use it up, I had plenty of golden syrup and it seemed like a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

I’m not sure that I managed the recipe successfully as I had nothing to compare it to, I aimed for the ‘firmer chewy caramels’ but still found them quite soft. They also melted easily at room temperature (although the afternoon I took them into work was warm) I struggled to remove the foil so popped them in the fridge overnight and it came off fairly easily in the morning, the chilling also helped when cutting them into bite size chunks. I think I underplayed the salt, I’m an absolute salt fiend and was wary of making them to my taste. I didn’t do the second dusting as suggested in the recipe and think I was a little conservative overall. There was no way I was going to wrap each one in greaseproof paper but mini muffin cases were a perfect alternative to pop them into. The feedback was good and they were great fun to make – fascinating to watch the caramel boil away and the smell was divine!


Fleur de Sel Caramels


1 cup golden syrup

2 cups sugar

1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
2 cups whipping (heavy) cream
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
fleur de sel or flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Line the bottom and sides of a 9″x9″ baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease the foil.

Combine the syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely and the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. (If you like, add a couple drops of lemon juice to prevent crystallization – I was fine without.)

Wash any sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes.

Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more if it needs it. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook uncovered, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 305°F.

Meanwhile, bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan (add grated nutmeg first if you’re making the nutmeg version); turn off the heat and set aside.

When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter.

Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful.

Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally at the beginning to more frequently at the end, until the mixture reaches 260°F for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F for firmer chewy caramels.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for an hour or so, until slightly firm but still tacky. Sprinkle the surface lightly with flaky salt, pressing gently to help it adhere if you need to. Leave for another 3-4 hours, or until firm.

Invert the sheet of caramel onto a dry cutting board or sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the foil and if you like, sprinkle the other side with more salt. Cut the caramels with a large, sharp knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.

h1

My Kind of Cake

August 7, 2009

Despite my love of baking, given the choice I would opt for savoury end of the baked goods spectrum. When I visited Betty’s Tearooms in York earlier in the year it was the fruit cake with Wenslydale that jumped out at me rather than the display of sweet patisserie. When I saw the photo of this cake made by Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe I immediately thought that this is my kind of cake. Plus, I had all the ingredients to hand.

Johanna is based in Melbourne where it’s winter, so this moist, dense fruit filled cake must make for the perfect accompaniment to a pot of tea on a chilly afternoon. The seemingly constant wet weather here meant it didn’t feel too odd to be making such an autumnal dish at what’s supposed to be the height of summer.

Johanna had adapted the original recipe by changing caster sugar to demerara and substituted some of the plain flour for wholemeal. I added a tea spoon of mixed spice and next time I make it (which will be soon) I will try the addition of a handful of walnuts.

Apple and date cake

2 green apples, peeled, cored and chopped into chunks

1 cup (155g) pitted dated, chopped

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

1 cup boiling water

125g unsalted butter

1 cup (250g) raw sugar (demerara)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup (155g) plain white flour

½ cup (77g) plain wholemeal flour

1 tsp mixed spice

Topping:

60g unsalted butter

½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tablespoons milk

Cover chopped dates and apples with bicarb and boiling water and set aside to cool – the wider the bowl the quicker this will be, approx 1 hour.

Beat together butter a sugar until pale and creamy add eggs and vanilla essence. Add the fruit mixture and fold in the flours in two lots

Spoon into a well greased 23cm round cake tin and bake in a preheated 180C for 45-50 minutes.

Prepare the topping about five minutes before the cake is due to come out of the oven by mixing all the ingredients in a small saucepan over a low heat until the butter has melted and sugar has dissolved (you can also do this in the microwave). Allow the topping mixture to cool and thicken slightly before spreading over the cake.

Return the cake to the oven for another 15 – 30 minutes (it was just 15 minutes for me) test by inserting a skewer