Posts Tagged ‘Springform’

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A Win and a Fail

November 10, 2009

Another gathering for a night of ladyboy poker provided another baking opportunity. In a search for inspiration a brief email poll of participants returned the single word ‘chocolate’.
I had recently bookmarked a recipe for Chocolate, Coffee and Cardamon Cake with a view to a dinner party/poker dessert (rather than a bake and take to work kind of cake). I had fresh pods in the cupboard from the gingerbread earlier in the week and the pictures on Spice and More’s blog screamed dense richness, just what you need with a good bottle of red to induce a lucky hand. I followed the recipe on the site, using the reduced amount of sugar suggested, with 70% chocolate (I had Green and Blacks in the cupboard). I have a Gaggia coffee machine (possibly my most prized possession) so brewed a double espresso then strained the crushed cardamon pods and seeds which I’d simmered in water into the coffee before adding all the liquid at the point stated. The type of tin wasn’t specified but you’ll need a deep springform for this one. I didn’t bother with a ganache (and this wasn’t because of previous disasters, I believe I now have a foolproof recipe) I just didn’t think it looked like it needed it, the top of the cake looked so moist and was slightly cracked and I worried about masking the cardamon with more chocolate. When it came to serving, additional chocolate definitely wasn’t needed, it was so tasty on it’s own.

Along with the cake I also offered to cook the main. I have the Leon book and love it so much that I gave it to several people as Christmas presents last year, my sister is currently spreading the Leon love by giving copies as gifts. I needed a one pot veggie dish and the Egyptian Tamarind stew looked appealing, filled as it is with roasted aubergines, peppers, tomatoes and chickpeas (or fava beans if you can find them). I Googled it for additional hints and tips and discovered that it had been part of the Guardian’s cookalong series with the added bonus of a pilaf recipe to accompany it. You can get the transcript and recipes here. I used agave nectar rather than honey, partly to just use it and partly because I’m not a fan of honey and wasn’t sure how strong the taste of it would be. I think the agave worked, I added a little more tamarind than suggested and I think that I would split the chillies to get a little bit more of a kick. The smell of the pilaf was amazing as the heat hit the spices and everyone enjoyed it.

So, two wins on the food front were joined by two poker wins – yes I won both games! Unheard of. Only that day I’d been moaning that I was feeling a little despondent as I rarely won a hand never mind games or cold hard cash and was pretty much only going along for the company and baking opportunity. But win I did, and it felt good.
There was a baking fail though, perhaps fail is too strong a word as colleagues at work seemed to enjoy it, but I can’t say I was taken with the Cardamon Vanilla Bundt featured on the Food Librarian’s ‘I Like Big Bundts’ series (in the lead up to National Bundt day on November 15th). It was heavier than I expected and whilst it smelt divine whilst baking, the end result didn’t have enough vanilla or cardamom for me. Do check out the series though, there are some fantastic looking cakes on there.
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Almost Fudge Gateau

August 10, 2009

Lady Poker Night is a semi-regular gathering that calls for a chocolate based dessert (to follow S’s infamous Chilli) and I had my lovely new copy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours to turn to. I was tempted by the Cinnamon Squares and the Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread, but reasoned these goodies suitable for easy work-place distribution and I wanted a cake. I wanted a round cake to be sliced into wedges not squares, I wanted to use some of the patisserie chocolate I had in my cupboard and so, the Almost-Fudge Gateau it was.

I have had a little look around the web to try and find some pictures of the finished product as I like to know what I’m aiming for and came across lots of comments about 70% chocolate being too bitter (there’s a lot of chocolate in the cake and the glaze). I only had 70% but needn’t have worried, I and the other poker players didn’t find it too bitter at all. It does need something to cut through the richness though. I had creme fraiche and others had some double cream, good vanilla ice cream would’ve been wonderful too. Doris lists the baking time as 35 – 45 minutes, mine was done at 35, after cooling I wrapped it and added the glaze the following day ready to take to the poker evening, and that was where the fun began.

I’ve only ever attempted a ganache once before and it was a disaster. I’m not a fan of frostings and glazes, finding them far too sweet and not enjoying the additional complications they bring to storing and traveling so tend to opt for recipes that don’t need them. Dorie lists this glaze as ‘optional’ but the cake looked like it needed it and I wanted to give it a go. My first two attempts failed, the ganache split and I couldn’t recover it. I then had to make a mad dash to the shops to buy more cream, had a little sit down with google and tried to work out what to do. My third attempt involved pouring the hot cream over broken, but unmelted chocolate but this too split, finally – and with many thanks to Joy of Baking who I should’ve turned to after the first failed attempt – I added a tablespoon of butter to the cream (and so did away with the syrup in the original recipe) poured the just boiling mixture over the broken chocolate and then left for 5 minutes before whisking gently – success! I’ve listed Dorie’s original recipe as well as the one I used below. Unfortunately the excitement of the moment and ensuing rush to get ready for the evening meat I completely forgot to take a picture of the finished cake, I’m gutted as it looked pretty damn fine but I’m sure I will be making it again soon.

Almost-Fudge Gateau

Dorie Greenspan ‘Baking; from my home to yours’

(conversions to metric are mine)

5 large eggs

9 oz (258g) bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped

1 cup (220g) sugar (I used golden caster)

5 tbsp unsalted butter cut into chunks (2.5oz/72g)

2 table spoons of coffee or water (I used coffee, a hint of coffee always so good with chocolate)

1/3 cup (55g) all purpose flour

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350F (180C), butter a 9-inch spring-form pan, line the bottom of the pan, butter the lining and dust the buttered pan with flour, tapping out the excess (I didn’t line the pan, just buttered and floured and it came out fine). Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone mat.

Separate the eggs with whites into a large mixing bowl and yolks in small bowl,

Melt the chocolate, sugar, butter and coffee in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water until melted – sugar may still be grainy. Remove form heat and let sit for 3 minutes.

Using a wooden spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour.

Beat eggs with pinch of salt until they hold firm but glossy peaks. Using the spatula, stir in a quarter of the whites into batter, then gently fold in the rest.

Scrape batter into pan and jiggle pan to spread evenly.

Bake for 25 – 45 minutes until evenly risen (may rise around edges first) and the top has firmed (may be cracked)

Allow to rest in pan for 5 – 10 minutes, then run a blunt knife gently around the edges and remove the sides of the pan. Invert cake onto rack and remove base and paper. Invert onto another rack and allow to cool to room temperature right side up. As it cools it may sink

For the Glaze

Turn the cooled cake over on the rack so your glazing the bottom and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with paper to catch any drips

Dorie’s version:

4oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup heavy (double) cream

2 teaspoons light corn syrup (golden syrup is an acceptable substitute)

Melt chocolate in heatproof bowl over pan of simmering water or in microwave – chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup

My version – Dorie’s quantities, Joy of Bakings method:

4oz chocolate

1/2 cup cream

1 tbsp butter

Ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth.

Pour the glaze (which ever version you use) over the cake and smooth with metal icing spatula, don’t worry if it drips unevenly down the sides of the cake. allow to set at room temperature or refrigerate if impatient.

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Wholemeal Honey Cake

August 3, 2009




Not that I believe you need an excuse to eat or bake a cake, but I’m always on the lookout for special occasions for which to get the cake tins out. My good friend C has grandchildren coming to visit this week, had recently given me a recipe for Hugh Fearnely-Wittingsall’s Wholemeal Honey Cake and challenged me to produce one that didn’t sink in the middle as her previous attempts had done. My plan was to spend Sunday morning baking, so when the morning started with 4.30 on my bedside clock at least I knew the kitchen would smell divine by the time the shipping forecast came on.


As the majority of the products from my kitchen get distributed amongst work colleagues I try to keep them nut free (I nearly killed a colleague once – a long story for another time) I dismiss so many recipes on the basis that they full of wonderful crunchy nuts or are based on fluffy ground almonds. A shame as I love nuts and sometimes you can’t just leave them out or find an adequate substitute. But this cake was not for work, it was filled with ground almonds and covered with a liberal sprinkling of slivered ones – wonderful for catching the honey that’s drizzled over when fresh from the oven.


Unfortunately, sink it did. The recipe called for self-raising wholemeal flour which I couldn’t find, so I added an extra teaspoon of baking powder (a possible cause for the slump?) it also seemed to contain an enormous amount of butter – so much so that whilst baking it ran out of the bottom of the tin. It also took an additional 20 minutes of baking until the centre was set, my oven is trusty and I don’t usually have to make such big adjustments – the butter? Were I to make it again I would reduce the amount and I’m tempted to have another go soon as I don’t like to be beaten and would like to see what difference less butter would make (perhaps a whole 100g less?) but I will wait for C to enjoy this one and indicate she’s ready to receive another.




Wholemeal Honey Cake


350g unsalted butter, softened
265g unrefined caster sugar
4 organic eggs
150g ground almonds
150g wholemeal self-raising flour (I used plain wholemeal with an extra 1tsp of baking powder)

1 tsp baking powder
50g flaked almonds
3-4 tbsp runny honey


Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/ gas mark 3. Grease a 24cm diameter, springform cake tin with a little of the butter and line the base with baking parchment.

Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, and cream them together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the ground almonds, then sift in the flour and baking powder and gently fold these in, too.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin, scatter the flaked almonds over the top, and bake for 45 minutes (or 65 in my case), or until a knife pushed into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and, while it’s still hot, evenly drizzle all over with honey. Place the tin on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or cold.