27 October 2015

Mango and Ginger No Bake Cheesecake

I should really fill you in, before you even read on any further; that this cheesecake is made with cake. An actual cake base, not biscuit. Cake.  

I don't like cheesecake with a biscuit base. Unless it's a baked cheesecake. I know that might sound mad, but I just think no bake cheesecakes are all kinds of gross if they have a biscuit base. 

I love the cheesecake toppings of a no bake. Just not the usual biscuit bases... You feel me? I just don't like them!  I will always, when I can, substitute the bottom of the cheesecake with a sponge type bottom. Red Velvet Cheesecake, Vanilla Cream Mascarpone Cheesecake, Baileys Chocolate Cheesecake and now Mango and Ginger Cheesecake... you get the idea.

It's also a no make, no bake, you just putting together ingredients kind of recipe so in all fairness, this could not be any easier! You buy a few small, readily available ingredients and bobs your uncle, you have a cheesecake. It's domestic god/goddess at it's finest and you really won't have lifted a finger!

Mango Cheesecake with a 
Mango Mirror Glaze on a Ginger Cake Base

Start off in the supermarket and grab yourself the following ingredients;

2 loaves of ginger cake
2 tubs of cream cheese
250ml single cream
1 vanilla pod
60g caster sugar
1 250ml bottle of mango puree
1 tsp from a sachet of gelatin powder
1 tbsp hot water

Cut up the two loaves of ginger cake and squash them into the bottom of an 8 inch round spring form tin.
Whip the cream cheese together until smooth and add the cream and vanilla seeds from inside the pod. Add the sugar and whip until soft and light. Be careful not to over whip. 
Fold in half the bottle of mango puree into the cream/cream cheese mixture until fully incorporated.
Pop half the mixture in on top of the ginger cake and smooth it out. Add the other half in and smooth out the top as best you can.
Put the pan in the fridge for at least two hours, or until set. Over night is best.

After about one hour, the cake should be firm enough to hold the mango mirror glaze.
Add one tablespoon of hot water into a bowl and sprinkle in the gelatin powder, stir around until it's fully dissolved. If it doesn't fully dissolve put the bowl into a hot water bain marie, and keep stirring until it does.

Pour in the rest of the bottle of mango puree into the dissolved gelatin and give it a quick stir. Pour that mixture than straight on top of the cheesecake mixture and smooth it out evenly.

Put the whole thing back in the fridge to set up, again, over night is best.

Removing the cake... 

To remove the cake from the spring form tin. Put a sharp knife under some hot water and run arounf the edge of the inside the tin, before popping the clasp. The cake will come away much cleaner from the sides.

The Great Irish Bake Off has started up again and this year I have a  friend baking in the tent. I got to know her through my own time on the Bake Off in Season 2 and I was delighted to see she got off on a very good start the other night!! This week was desserts, and the technical challenge was a very persnickety gelatin infused, biscuit baked, no bake mango and something or other (I really can't remember!!) cheesecake.

On account of my dislike for biscuit bases, I refused t follow the recipe exactly but have paid homage to the mango in the recipe above. So it's almost the same thing right? A no bake, cheats make, cheesecake that is genuinely great!!

One to pull out for the next dinner party... You're friends will love you for it!!

23 October 2015

Green Tea and Pistachio Bundt

This week.. let's see.. Oh wow! That was some week. 

It started with green tea donuts. Fail. Then double chocolate macarons. Fail. 

And I really did not feel like baking anything else. Because, well see I just can't handle my entire kitchen and cupboards of ingredients conspiring against me! But I remembered I had to bake my last cake with my lovely group The Cake Slice Bakers.. This month is the last month of our book, The Southern Cake Book, and it was a free choice. I remember there being a matcha bake way back when as a choice, and figured since I bombed on one matcha bake this week.. why not make it a two for.

Just feeling incredibly sorry for myself in case you hadn't figured.. Self pity party, table for one.

But then this one worked... and I was very happy with it! Well as happy as one can be after the realisation I forgot to marble it.. ooops! I also didn't have the required ingredients for the glaze that the book called for so made a vanilla sugar glaze and loaded it with yummy pistachios! But it did restore my fate in myself as a baker and as I went to take pictures...

Champ got sick. And I got sick and now I am back to feeling super sorry for myself and have nothing but a few photos on a bake I can no longer taste thanks to my smashing new head cold!

Can we just write this week off and start fresh after the bank holiday on Monday??

Green Tea and Pistachio Bundt 
adapted from The Southern Cake Book's Green Tea- Honeysuckle Cake pg 205

225g soft butter
575g caster sugar
60ml honey
6 large eggs at room temp.
675g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
125ml buttermilk
2tsp green tea (matcha) powder
1 tsp vanilla
250g icing sugar
60ml milk
100g chopped pistachios

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F or Gas Mark 3. Grease a bundt pan with butter and flour until coated. Tip out any excess flour.
Beat the butter until creamy and slowly add the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the honey and mix until just blended.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing a little after each addition.
Sift the flour, baking powder and add to the butter mixture in batches, alternating with the milk.
Fold in the matcha and combine until blended through.
Bake for at least one hour to one hour 15, on the middle shelf, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack. When cool, remove from the tin and poor over the glaze.

Make the glaze:

Add the vanilla, milk and icing sugar to a pot and allow to melt together over a low heat, until just heated. Pour immediately over the cold, turned out cake and sprinkle with the chopped pistachio.

Want to check out what the rest of the bakers choose as their final bake.. Have a peek at the linky below.. BUT also come back next month, for our new book reveal!! It's such a pretty one...

18 October 2015

Pumpkin Spice Apple Pie

Autumn is always in-my-comfort-zone time for me. 

You know how the dreaded bikini-body season is over and the wrap me up into a squidgy ball of layers season has begun. My kitchen gets stocked up with lovely, hearty flavours. Spices, sweet and savoury begin to appear on my shelves and using just a smidgen of some of them propels my senses into a world of longer nights, cozy fires and hearty suppers.

You don't get that in bikini season. Bikini season (that 3 days of sun between April and August!!) shuns you for liking cream or meringue, or, or um... cream with meringue. Bikini season really sucks. It's why I try to ignore it.. and it's why I stick to shoes! Shoes and I, we got a thing. Shoes will never make my bum look fat! And as for Autumn shoes.. well you've got boots.. and pudgy, squidgy toes in warm toasty socks to fill those boots. It's the best season. 

The American's have this thing called Fall.. It's like our Autumn, but not really. They are consumed by pumpkins and changing leaves and taking pictures of beautifully decorated porches with rich harvests. I guess because they get more than the one and a half seasons we get.. they celebrate them all. 

It makes me so jealous. 

But they do share their ideas with us, so that's always nice! And they have this thing called "Pumpkin Spice" and it comes out in Fall. If Autumn has a smell.. this is it. If Autumn has a taste this is it. And best of all, it's super simple to make yourself. Not to mention cost effective. 

Pumpkin Spice

3 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves

Add the above spices into a jar and mix. It's that simple. I use a twist cap kilner jar and it makes about about half a jar full. Use the pumpkin spice as required in your recipe.

 All Butter Short Crust 

240g plain flour
50g icing sugar
150g diced cold butter (+ a little extra for greasing)
1 large egg

Preheat your oven to 180C, 350F or gas mark 4.
Put the flour, butter and icing sugar into a food processor and blitz until looks like breadcrumbs.
Crack in the egg and bring together until a soft ball forms.
Wrap in clingfilm, pat down and leave in fridge for 30 mins.
Grease up a 9/10 inch round pie dish.
When it comes out of the fridge, split into two balls, one slightly larger than the other and roll out. 

Pop the larger circle into your pie dish and then if you are so inclined blind bake the pastry case bottom using pastry beads in a pre-heated oven for about 10- 15 minutes.

Apple Pie

6 large Bramley's fit my 10 inch dish. Skin the apples completely and then just chop them into however you feel... I like to do a rough slice and just keep slicing through the apple until I reach the inner core.

50g white sugar
60g brown sugar (I used demerara)
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice

Fill the pastry case with the apples and top with the remaining pastry. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven and minding the top doesn't get too brown. Allow to cool slightly on a wire tray upon taking it out of the oven.

Serve as you see fit.. or save it all for yourself. 

Tell me... What does your Autumn taste like?

12 October 2015

Black Tea Sponge with Honey Buttercream and Blackberry Jam

Things I noticed...

The leaves have lost their summer green glow. The autumn hues of red, browns and gold are in abundance and some of the trees have started to loose their leaves. But the sun is beating down, big and bright? It's that weird weather where you need to bring a jacket with you in the morning. But if you're still wearing it at lunch, you will get heat stroke. Having said that, the back garden has relished the sun and rain mixture and has grown wild and of it's own volition these past few weeks... and while it's a disaster to look out upon, has grown a fine abundance of blackberries.

That were quickly gobbled up by every blackbird in the country and I got about 8 good ones.

I clearly needed more for the jam and while I am all for the experience of blackberry picking, I didn't get the time and bought the bloomin' things in the supermarket. Yes.. YES... I know they are free from every bush by the road and ditch but I just didn't get the chance to go picking. You have to leave me off this one...

Now unless you've been living under a rock; you'll know that the Great British Bake Off is over.. Nadyia won and in the next few weeks or so, the Great Irish Bake Off is due to air. It's an entire autumn/winter of baking. I can't believe it. I opted to bake the Showstopper as my final entry into the Great Bloggers Bake Off with the lovely Jenny from Mummy Mishaps.

The premise was, three cakes that are quintessentially British. Not being British, I hadn't a breeze what was quintessential so I scribbled down what "British" was to me.

It wasn't much to be honest.. we share a lot of things in common, but The Queen, cricket, red telephone boxes, Victoria Sponge, Mrs Patmore and tea came out on top. Out of those, the following cake was born...

Soft Set Blackberry Jam (I made this up and it worked out!)

250g blackberries
125g sugar
2 tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon cornflour

Put the cornflour into the water and mix through. Put all of the ingredients into a pot over a medium heat and all to simmer down into a mush. Give it a few stirs every now and then. Allow to cool and thicken.

Black Tea Victoria Sponge

I made three cakes here. The recipe below provides enough for ONE, two layered Victoria Sponge. If you want to do what I did... I double and a half-ed it.. (If you get me?)

Prepare two 8 inch cake pans and pre-heat your oven to 180 C/350F or Gas Mark 4.

125ml of hot milk
Contents of three teabags
225g soft butter
225g caster sugar
40g plain flour
210g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4  eggs at room temperature

Heat your milk in the microwave until hot but not boiling.
Add in the contents of three teabags and stir up. Allow to cool. The longer you leave the tea to infuse, the stronger the flavour.
Cream your butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
Dry whisk the flours and baking powder together. 
Add the eggs into the butter/sugar mix, one at a time and mix until the yolk has disappeared. 
Add half the flour to the mixture, then the milk and then the rest of the flour. Be careful not to over mix as you want it to stay nice and light and fluffy!
Divide the mixture between your two tins and pop into a pre-heated oven for 25-35 minutes or until golden on top or your cake tester comes out clear.
Allow to cool in the tins for about 5 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack and cooling completely. 

Honey Buttercream Frosting

225g soft, unsalted butter
500g icing sugar
60ml honey

Beat the butter for a few moments until very soft and pale.
100g ish.. at a time, add in the icing sugar until completely mixed through.
Fold through the honey and leave to one side at room temperature until you are ready to frost your cake.

Putting it all together...

Sandwich the two layers of your cake together with some jam and buttercream an continue to cover the outside of the cake with another layer of buttercream.

Any left over jam... Lick it straight off the spoon, pop it on your morning toast or dip in a bread stick of two. You could put more on the cake too... I am simply providing you with options!

Clare and her absolute dote, Jacob are hosting the finals this week! Jacob is a junior baker, and his lovley Mummy Clare helps him write the blog! Be sure to stop by and see the other bakes the rest of the bloggers chose as their final entry!! It's going to be a tough choice for Jenny I am sure!

If you follow this link here... you will get all my blog posts for this years Great British Bake Off blog along! I had so much fun baking with such a talented group of bloggers.

I won Star Baker for my Croquemebouche Cupcakes and my Irish Cream Chocolate Tart. Here's hoping my Victoria Sponge can get me through finals!!

07 October 2015

Snickers Macaron

I am always asked where do I get  the time? The time for this, that or the other. 

But the thing is I don't have the time. I have the same amount of time as you or anyone else and I just haphazardly decide what to spend my time on. That'll mean somethings get left out altogether, put on the back burner or get thrown on a list for "another day". Then there are somethings that the world stops for. Those moments where it doesn't matter what you are doing, the world stops.

Did you ever get one of those moments? The have to, right now this instant moments, where you just need a treat? Born out of the necessity to have something sweet and salty but you don't want to just go buy a snickers. That... and because you're in your pajamas since you got home from work and the thoughts of getting dressed again is just too much. Instead you decide you want to lavish over making something, that takes up all your time in the world and then is gone in about two bites. You know the moments I'm talking about right?

It's the salty peanuts. It's the crunch. It's the soft chewiness. It's the stuff it all in my mouth at once and not regret it-ness! 

This batch came to school with me and were a big hit! They are a super little hey look, I baked and you can have some, type of thing!  And they are gluten free too so you know, works for those with allergies..

Unless you've a peanut allergy... Then this post, really, is not for you.

Macaron Shells
This recipe doubles up nicely. 
I have never tripled it because holy moly... that makes a lot of macarons!

4 aged egg whites (and by aged I mean crack the eggs, leave them covered over in a bowl on your counter over night- up to 24 hours.)
100g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
280g icing sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2-3 tablespoons crushed salted peanuts

You need to start with a clean, grease free mixing bowl and a mixer. (I use the silver bowl and whisk off my stand mixer but, a hand mixer will do perfectly if that’s what you have!)

On a high speed, whip your egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue whipping the egg whites on a high speed and start pouring the caster sugar into the mixing bowl. I start off with a slow and steady stream and stop after 1/3 has gone in. I let it whip for a while and start again, adding another 1/3 and then stopping pouring sugar. Repeat for the third batch. 

Continue whipping for a further 3-4 minutes until your egg whites form a thick and glossy stiff peaked meringue. 

Sieve together the icing sugar and ground almonds into a large bowl and discard any large lumps or bumps you found were too big to go through the sieve. Sieve in the 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and then sieve the entire dry mix for a second time to make sure it is completely lump free and airy.

Taking a spatula, fold the egg whites into the almond, dry mixture. Your aim here is to squash out any air in the meringue. You can be rough with your folds, just make sure to keep folding through, making sure all the dry mix has been incorporated into the meringue.

You’re going for, what the internet describes as, a “thick ribbon” consistency. Essentially that means the mix almost falls back on itself in around 10 seconds.

I use a macaron silicone mat as a guide, under my parchment paper to pipe my macaron shells to size. You can print off macaron templates which are very helpful in giving you a good reference for size when you are piping out macaron. 

Line a few baking trays with parchment, and using your template, or not, pipe the rounds onto the tray. Keep going until you use all the mix- this recipe yields about 28-30 macrons shells. Giving you 14/15 whole macarons.

Holding your tray about a foot off above the counter top or table you are working at... drop it! Repeat this a couple of times to knock out any air bubbles and smooth out your macarons. Sprinkle the crushed peanuts over the wet tops one half of your shells and leave to dry. (You can so both sides if you like.. It's up to you!)

Leave the shells to rest so that they form a skin and have become dry enough on the outside that you can lightly touch them.  This process could take up to an hour.

Preheat your oven to 130C/250F, Gas mark 1/2.. Once the macarons are ready for the oven,  pop them in for 8 minutes. After the 8 minutes, insert a wooden spoon into the oven door to keep it a little bit open. Continue baking for another 4-6 minutes until the top of the shell is crisp and if you wiggled it, gently, from side to side. It should be one piece!

Remove from the oven onto a cooling tray and cool completely before filling. Continue baking whatever other shells are left in the same way.

Caramel Sauce

Cook 125g butter and 180g of dark brown sugar in a medium non stick pan over a medium heat for two to three minutes, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
Whisk in 200ml of double cream and bring the entire thing to a light boil, stirring constantly.

Turn off the heat and allow to stand until it's cooled slightly, stirring often.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

225g soft, room temperature, unsalted butter
500g sifted icing sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste, or 1 vanilla pod
up to 60ml cream/whole milk

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on high until it is very soft and pale. (TIP: pop the butter in the microwave for a few seconds until very soft.)
Add in the icing sugar a few cups at a time.
If the buttercream is very thick, add a tablespoon of cream or milk in until the desired texture has been reached. 
Add the vanilla bean or paste.
Mix the bejeebus out of it until light and fluffy. The faster and longer you mix this, the lighter and fluffier it will be. 

Fill each of the macron halves with some buttercream and some caramel. Top with the macaron shell with the peanuts on it and serve. I like them left until the next day. leave them in the fridge over night, if you can, and allow to come to room temperature before serving. The flavours meld together and in my humble opinion, the macaron shells are nicer!

Let me know if you try them.. I would love to see how you got on!

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