Baking with my Boy …

An afternoon baking with my teenage son was a real treat today. Together we prepared dessert for tomorrow’s lunch (Baked Alaska), a Chocolate and Orange cake (his choice, I’ve never made it before but it is delicious – definitely one to make again) and chocolate digestives.
The star of the afternoon was the Chocolate and Orange cake:

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This is a very light sponge where half the mixture has cocoa and milk added and the other half has orange juice and zest added. Once out of the oven I used a skewer to put holes all over the cake, I then brushed an icing sugar and orange juice mixture all over the top. As this seeped in to the cake, I dribbled melted chocolate over the top.

Making individual Baked Alaskas for dessert tomorrow meant that we could try very mini versions today! I made the raspberry ice cream yesterday and the lemon sponge base this morning. All we had to do this afternoon was make the Italian meringue. I’m really looking forward to the ‘full’ version tomorrow as the little taster that we had tonight was yummy!

The digestives were a quick treat for my husband as they are his favourite biscuits, we stamped them with
the instruction ‘eat me’ and then coated the other side with chocolate:

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Tea Cakes – a Truly Testing Technique …

I’m a huge fan of ‘The Great British Bake Off’. It’s competitive baking at its best, it’s always interesting, informative and above all it’s fun. The current series has recently finished and we are now being treated to the masterclasses. During these masterclass programmes, we, the viewers are shown how to bake the various technical challenges, properly.

Instead of a birthday cake on his 12th birthday, my oldest decided that a cake would be fine for his party (which was yesterday) but on his birthday, he would like tea cakes, as seen on the aforementioned programme. Unfortunately this meant that I had to make them before seeing them done properly on the masterclass programme.

Considering that I hand whisked the meringue/marshmallow (it has to be done over simmering water, otherwise it wouldn’t be cooked) plus the fact that my silicone tin is more muffin shaped rather than domed, I think they turned out quite well:

I’m particularly pleased with the biscuits, they are crunchy without breaking up too much and they had much more flavour than shop bought digestives. The tea cake itself is incredibly sweet – too sweet even for my sweet tooth but I’ll certainly be making the biscuits again.

 

The tastiest thing this Christmas …

was a Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart. It looked tasty on paper, the ingredients were a great combination – chocolate, cream, sugar, butter and digestives – but I wasn’t expecting the final result to be quite so delicious. I even prepared our visiting parents for the fact that I thought desert had gone a ‘bit wrong’.

Here are the pictures, the recipe follows. There was total silence around the table whilst this was being eaten, someone even asked if they could lick their plate clean!

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And so to the recipe:

For the crust:

250g digestive biscuits, crushed

125g butter, melted

For the caramel:

225g caster sugar

100g chilled butter

100ml double cream

1 heaped tsp Maldon sea salt

For the topping:

100g caster sugar

2 eggs

2 extra egg yolks

250g dark chocolate

150g butter

Ice cream, to serve

1. Heat your oven to 180*C. Lightly grease a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin.

2. Place the crushed biscuits in a bowl, add the butter and mix well. Press the biscuit mixture in to the greased tin, chill the tin in the fridge for 30 minutes or the freezer for 10. Remove the tin from the fridge and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the base feels dry. Leave to cool.

3. For the caramel, bring the sugar and 100ml water to the boil in a pan over a medium heat, stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the butter, return to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes or until the mixture is a toffee colour. Pour in the cream and the salt and boil for another 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened. Cool for a few minutes before pouring over the biscuit base.

4. To make the chocolate topping, whisk the sugar, eggs and egg yolks for 4 minutes, or until thick and pale. Gently melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water), leave to cool for a minute and then add to the sugar  and egg mixture, whisking until smooth and glossy.

5. Spread the chocolate mixture over the caramel and bake for about 20 minutes or until it is almost set but still a bit wobbly. Allow to cool in the tin, refrigerate if you prefer your caramel firm rather than gooey (either way is great!)

And that’s it – a recipe that will definitely be going in to the family file, one which I will no doubt use again and again, whenever I get the chance.