Wedding cake: LEMON

Lemon drizzlesFor the wedding cake I made, there were three round tiers measuring 6″, 9″ and 12″ in diameter. Harri had requested that the top two tiers be lemon and the bottom tier be chocolate, so after much testing of recipes, here’s the lemon cake I ended up using.

Each tier was a three layer cake, and each layer was baked separately (as opposed to having baked one cake and cut it into three layers). The lemon cake was essentially three lemon drizzle cakes (I used Tana Ramsay’s recipe) stacked on top of one another and separated by a thickened version of Delia’s lemon curd.

As I only had one tin of each size, I baked the first layers of the 6″ and 9″ cakes at the same time, followed by the second and the third. The recipe below makes enough batter for a single 6″ and 9″ layer, however you’ll need to multiply it by 3 if you’re making an entire wedding cake. Otherwise, if you split the batter from the recipe below between 3 round 8″ tins, you’ll come out with a rather grand three-tiered cake, worthy of any birthday party.

LEMON CAKE

IngredientsWhat you’ll need

For the cake

395g unsalted butter, softened
395g caster sugar
7 eggs
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
395g self-raising flour

For the drizzle

juice of 2 ½ lemons
150g caster sugar

Begin by preheating the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F. Grease your tins and line with parchment paper.

Then, in a large bowl, beat the butter until it’s creamy (especially if it’s still a bit chilled), then add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, waiting until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Add the lemon zest and flour and mix until fully incorporated.

Divide the batter between your tins so that it reaches the same height in each, then bake for between 40 and 60 minutes (test to see when a skewer comes out clean to decide when they’re ready).

Once you pull them out of the oven, let them cool in their tins for 5 minutes. While they’re cooling, combine the lemon juice and caster sugar for the topping.

Creaming butterTurn the cakes out upside down* onto a wire rack, pierce the surface (or what used to be the bottom of the cake) at regular intervals with a small sharp knife, then drizzle the cake with the topping while still warm. Leave to cool completely.

*The reason you pour the topping over the bottom of the cake rather than the top is because the top is the side you’ll eventually slice off when you level the cakes (the bottom maintains a nice uniform shape from the tin). If you’re baking a single three-tier celebration cake, consider leaving one layer right side up on rack and making it the top layer of your cake.

LEMON CURD

If you’re making a wedding cake, the first set of volumes will make enough curd to go between the three layers of your 6″ and 9″ tiers. If you’re making an 8″ three layer cake, the second set will make enough for you.

What you’ll need (for the 6″ and 9″ tiers of a wedding cake)

zest and juice of 7½ large lemons
550g golden caster sugar
15 large eggs, lightly beaten
375g block butter
5 sheets gelatin (optional*)

What you’ll need (for a three-tier 8″ cake)

zest and juice of 2½ large lemons
183g golden caster sugar
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
125g block butter
1 ⅔ sheet gelatin (optional*)

*All the gelatin does is make your curd a bit thicker. If you’re making a wedding cake (which has to sit out all day and look as tidy as possible), I’d definitely recommend using it, but if it’s just a birthday cake you’ll be having at home, there’s probably no need.

What to do

IMG_1407If you plan to use gelatin, place the gelatin sheets in a small bowl, just covered with water, and let sit.

Place a bowl over a pan of boiling water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and add the lemon zest, lemon juice, caster sugar, eggs and butter.

Stirring occasionally, leave over the heat until thickened (this should take about 25-30 minutes for the single 8″ cake and may take up to 1 hour 30 minutes for the larger batch). Once the curd no longer appears to be getting any thicker, if you’re not using gelatin, remove it from the heat.

If you are using gelatin, take the saturated sheets from the bowl of water (try not bring any extra water with them), and add them to your curd. Stir for another couple of minutes until dissolved, then remove from the heat.

Leave the curd to cool completely (ie. over several hours or overnight) and once everything is at room temperature, spread between the layers.*

Icing dam*If it’s a wedding cake you’re making, you’ll need to have levelled your layers first. This simply involves measuring and marking your cakes at the appropriate height (my layers were 1¼” or 3¼cm thick) and slicing off the un-level top. For the wedding cake I also used an icing dam, which was essentially a ring of buttercream on the outer edge of the cake to stop the curd bleeding out of the cake.

And that’s it!

Wedding Cake 101

Wedding cake

Wedding cakeSo anyone who’s been anywhere near me over the past three months will probably know that I’ve been preparing to make a wedding cake (and will most likely have been force fed tester cakes in the process). Well the wedding arrived last weekend, as did the wedding cake, and frankly, I would judge it a ‘great success’!

Now as you may imagine, a wedding cake is a fairly large undertaking and I absorbed an incredible amount of information while researching and preparing. Although I’ll obviously be posting the recipes, I’ve also included a bunch about wedding cakes more generally below – this is for the benefit of anyone who’s crazy enough to tackle this beast for the first time (though may not hold that much interest for the rest of you).

So… If you were to sit down and tell me you’d somehow been convinced to make a wedding cake and wondered if I had any tips, after ensuring you were in a lucid state of mind, this is what I’d recommend:

YOU TUBE: Oh YouTube… What would we do without you? Honestly, there are so many amazing videos out there that you can probably stop reading now… These were some of my faves:

  • Amanda Oakleaf taught me what a crumb coat was and how to ice with buttercream
  • Cookies, Cupcakes and Cardio has a three part series on the process, and though I wasn’t a fan of the icing job, Jen was pretty helpful
  • Epicurious has a handy video on stacking cakes (which I mention below as well)

TIMINGS: For your first cake, I would clear your schedule for the two days before the wedding (for example, if the wedding’s on a Saturday, I’d make sure you’re free on Thursday and Friday). You can use the first day to bake the cakes and the second day to make the fillings and ice them.

HOW BIG?: If you’re baking a wedding cake, you’ve probably been told how many people are attending the wedding (and if you haven’t, you’ll need to find out). This handy chart led me to decide on tiers that were 6″, 9″ and 12″ in diameter. There were 85 people at the wedding but I figured I’d definitely be safe with a cake that fed 100.

BatterHOW MUCH BATTER?: I’d tested my recipes a few times already so knew roughly how big the cakes were that they produced. Erring on the side of caution, I used a bit of simple arithmetic (good ol’ pi r squared) to figure out what I’d need to multiply each recipe by, and then added a bit extra on. After the cakes are baked, you cut them to size anyway, so if they’re a bit larger than necessary, it’s no big deal.

TRANSPORTATION AND SETUP: Find out what time the cake needs to be set up at the venue. I had my three tiers ready to go and in the fridge the night before, then took a cab down with them on the morning of. I left myself and hour and a half to get them sorted at the venue (bear in mind you’ll need to figure out where the cake is going, measure and cut your dowels, stack the cakes and then tidy up the icing). I probably only needed an hour and fifteen minutes, but then I really didn’t run into any obstacles.

StephenI’d also like to give a shout out to Stephen, my awesome Uber driver. He was super lovely, the smoothest driver ever, and more to the point, wore a three piece suit and a fedora. What a ledge.

BAKING THE CAKES: After speaking to a few of the bakers at work (insert plug for how awesome Bread Ahead is here) it was confirmed that baking each layer of each tier separately was the way forward (if you can imagine baking a single cake that’s six inches thick, you can probably imagine how it might not be the lightest or fluffiest). I had three tiers with three layers in each tier, so baked nine cakes in total.

INGREDIENTS: It turns out you need a lot of ingredients to make a cake this size. Sounds obvious, but don’t underestimate… It took me four trips to the supermarket on Violet (my bicycle) to get everything home, so make sure you factor this in. Even better, do an online shop and get everything delivered (or if you’re in a part of the world where everyone has a car, forget about this – you can just drive!).

SPECIAL WEDDING CAKE KIT: Along with ingredients, there is a lot of random stuff you need to make a wedding cake. You’ll be able to pick up some at your local supermarket, but for the more specialist baking kit, it’s far easier to order online (I used Windsor Craft). Bear in mind you’ll need to allow enough time to have your order processed and delivered, so best not to leave this to the last minute. Here’s a (definitely non-inclusive) list of stuff you’ll need to consider getting:

  • CAKE TINS: Make sure these have completely vertical sides. When it comes to icing, that’s definitely essential.
  • CAKE DRUMS/BOARDS: Something you may or may not be aware of is that each cake sits on a board before it’s placed on top of the next. For my bottom cake, which was of fairly epic proportions, I opted for a cake drum (these are usually about 12mm thick). For the medium and small tiers I went with double thick card which seemed to do the trick.
  • Cake with dowelsDOWELS: Wedding cakes are pretty darn substantial, not to mention heavy (my to-ing and fro-ing from the cab to the venue definitely doubled as my upper body workout for the day). As a result, most employ a few dowels (thin sticks of wood) stuck in the bottom layers of the cake to provide some extra architectural support for the upper layers. There are countless videos on YouTube, but this one gives you the gist. A lot will recommend sticking a dowel from the top of the middle tier, down through the base of the middle tier to the base of the bottom tier. My cake boards were just too sturdy to be punctured, so my dowels only ever went through one layer (however this worked fine).
  • PIPING BAGS AND NOZZLES: Piping bags come in these awesome rolls, which means if you buy a single roll, you’ll have more than enough. As for nozzles, buy whichever ones you’ll need for decorating (that is if you’re using buttercream like me).
  • POSY PICKS: If you’re planning on adorning your finished cake with flowers, you may be wondering how people stick the stems in without getting flower juice in the cake (yuck). Enter posy picks! I didn’t end up using flowers, but these would be a good shout if I did.
  • TURNTABLE: Sadly, not of the DJ-ing variety… I actually picked up one of these for a fiver from ASDA. They make life a load easier when you’re icing (essentially it means you can spin your cake round while keeping your tools in roughly the same place which is tres handy).
  • PALETTE KNIFE: I had a large unlevel one and a small one which I actually ended up using more. These are definitely necessary when it comes to getting straight sides on your tiers and a smooth finish on your icing (I also used one of these to put the texture on my icing).
  • CAKE LIFTER: Not essential but useful for sure. Your cakes will be on boards for most of the process, but it can at times be tricky to shift them.
  • Cake boardCAKE STAND: Cakes look better when they’re on an awesome stand, but it turns out the vast majority of these are horrendously overpriced, not actually all that nice, and I’m pretty sure you’d never use them again. I was quite proud of myself when I discovered that you could get a large slate ‘pizza board’ for a fraction of the price (mine was under £13 off ebay). Winner winner chicken dinner.
If you have questions about anything else, just leave a reply on my About page and I’ll get back to you (if not with an answer, at least with an amusing anecdote or a joke instead. Please note that ‘amusing’ is a subjective term).

Apple strudel extraordinaire

rsz_strudel_2So a little while back I caught wind of a syndicate of bakers in the Putney area who gathered monthly to share their wares. The group is known as the Putney Bake Club, and as far as I’m concerned it’s one of the best ideas I’ve come across in a while.
Each month the organisers choose a theme, and then on the assigned date everyone brings their baking (along with a guest if they’d like) and spends a lovely couple of hours chatting, drinking tea and, of course, eating plenty of baked goods. What could be better?
On this particular occasion, the Bake Club’s theme was ‘film-inspired’, so I chose to bake an apple strudel reminiscent of the one Landa tucks into in Inglorious Bastards. The recipe is based on Jamie Oliver’s but includes a couple of substitutions.

What you’ll need

rsz_strudel_15 small sweet eating apples
juice of ½ lemon
150g pecans, chopped
ground cinnamon
150g dark muscovado sugar
80g butter
4 large (or 8 smaller) sheets filo pastry
60g caster sugar
1 handful sultanas
icing sugar to dust
ice cream or custard to serve

What to do

Begin by preheating your oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F.

Then, to get started with your prep, you’ll need to peel and core your apples, and slice them thinly. Once sliced, transfer them to a large bowl filled with water and the lemon juice to keep them from going brown.

rsz_strudel_5Next, in a small bowl, mix the pecans, cinnamon and muscovado sugar, and set aside.

For the construction of your strudel, you’ll need to clear a bit of counter space an lay out a clean tea towel. Trim your filo pastry sheets so that they measure 30cmx50cm (if you’re using smaller sheets, you can use 2 sheets for each layer) and place your first sheet on the tea towel.

Melt your butter in a small pan (it may require some reheating during this process to keep it liquid-y) and brush the first layer of filo with butter. If you’re using two smaller sheets, you’ll be able to bind their connecting edges with a bit of water. Sprinkle a third of your pecan/cinnamon/muscovado mix over the sheet and repeat the process another two times, finally topping with the fourth sheet of filo.

rsz_strudel_3Drain your apples (getting rid of as much water as you can) and mix them in a large bowl with the caster sugar and sultanas. Transfer your apple mixture to the filo pastry, laying it in a strip down the long edge of the pastry. Brush the opposite (long) edge with water and you’re ready to roll (quite literally!).

Starting with the apple edge of the pastry, gently roll the strudel (like you would a swiss roll) using the towel to help you as you go. Once it’s completely rolled, press down the wet edge to seal the strudel. At this point you can also wet the two ends of the pastry and press them to seal. Transfer the strudel rather carefully to a baking sheet.

Pop it in the over for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Leave it to cool slightly on the baking sheet, then dust with icing sugar when you’re ready to serve. Slice the strudel and accompany with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or custard.

rsz_strudel_4
There was some pretty stiff (if friendly) competition for this rather rustic strudel at the Putney Bake Club…

I warn you, this isn’t the tidiest of desserts to serve and you’ll need to be prepared for a bit of crumbling and flaking, but that won’t stop it from being delicious!

Riskrem (essentially rice pudding mixed with whipped cream topped with roasted rhubarb)

IMG_2044.JPGAt home I have a stack of recipes torn from magazines that are perfect for dipping into when I’m running short of inspiration. This recipe for ‘riskrem’ came from an old issue of delicious. and has been on my list of desserts to make for quite some time. The pudding is deceivingly rich and very luxurious as a result, but the real show-stopper is the rhubarb. Tart but sweet and the perfect accompaniment. Serves 4-6.

What you’ll need

IMG_2009.JPGFor the rice pudding
150g pudding or arborio (risotto) rice
10g butter
500ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp caster sugar

6-8 rhubarb stalks
6 tbsp golden caster sugar
300ml double cream
1 1/2 tbsp icing sugar (caster will do if you’re short)
1 tsp vanilla extract
30g flaked almonds, toasted

What to do

Begin by making the rice pudding. Put the kettle on, then rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. Transfer the rice to a saucepan, pour 300ml of boiling water over it and add the the butter and a pinch of salt. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the water has been absorbed.

IMG_2021.JPGAdd the milk, vanilla and sugar to the pan (adding more or less sugar depending on the size of your sweet tooth). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes until the pudding is thick and sticks to your spoon. Remove from the heat and cool completely before continuing.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF. Wash the rhubarb and slice into 1-2 inch pieces. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the golden caster sugar and allow to sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread the macerated rhubarb on a baking sheet (one with a lip to keep hold of the juices) and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

IMG_2031.JPGWhile the rhubarb’s baking, take a large bowl and gently whip the double cream and icing sugar. Break up the cooled rice pudding in the saucepan, and add this and the vanilla to the whipped cream. Gently fold together and divide amongst serving glasses or bowls.

Chill the individual servings in the fridge, and top with the rhubarb, it’s lovely juices and the toasted almonds before serving. Then enjoy!

Many thanks to delicious. for this lovely recipe.
View more great recipes from delicious. here.

French Apple Tart

IMG_1922Whenever I look into a bakery window, I find myself drawn to the apple tart. There’s something strangely hypnotic about the intricate overlapping of the apple slices (or else I simply have a weakness for baked apples and pastry), and I’m very rarely let down when I order a slice. I won’t lie, this particular tart requires a bit of time to make (so you’ll want to set an afternoon aside), but I assure you, the result is worth it and is guaranteed to impress even your harshest critics. The recipe is compliments of (who else but) Mary Berry, and her well placed hint of citrus brings out an entirely new level of flavour.

What you’ll need

For the pastry
250g (8oz) plain flour
125g (4oz) chilled butter, cubed
125g (4oz) caster sugar
4 egg yolks
IMG_1897**Mary’s recipe calls for an 11″ fluted flan tin, but I used a 12″ one. You’ll also need baking beans or rice/pasta.

For the filling
90g (3oz) butter
1.5kg (3lb) cooking apples, quartered, cored and cut into slices
3 tbsp water
6 tbsp apricot jam
125g (4oz) caster sugar
grated zest of 1 large lemon

For the topping and glaze
375g (12oz) eating apples, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp caster sugar
6 tbsp apricot jam

What to do

For this recipe, the first thing to get cracking with is the pastry. In a large bowl, rub the flour and cubes of butter together with your fingertips until you have a mixture resembling fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the caster sugar, then add the yolks and a tbsp or so of cold water IMG_1890if required (that is if you’re having trouble bringing the mixture together into a dough). Once you’ve created a ball of dough, press it into a disc shape (this will make it easier to roll out), cover in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

While the pastry’s chilling, you can get started peeling, coring and chopping your apples. Once this hard work’s done, melt the butter in a large pan, add the apples and water, then cover and leave to simmer gently for 20-25 minutes or until the apples are very soft. Once soft, pass the apples through a nylon sieve into another saucepan, add the apricot jam, sugar and lemon zest, and cook on medium-high heat for 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 190C/170Cfan/375F. By this point in time, your pastry should be properly chilled, so remove it from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the IMG_1912pastry out until it’s large enough to cover your flan tin, then transfer to the tin. Make sure the pastry is pressed snugly into the pastry case in the corners and on the sides, then cover with foil or greaseproof paper and line with baking beans (or rice or dried pasta). Bake ‘blind’ for 10-15 minutes, then remove the foil and beans and continue to bake for a further 5 minutes. Leave to cool.

As you wait for your pastry and filling to cool, you’ll have time to peel and slice your eating apples. Once you’ve finished this, spoon the filling into the case and then arrange the apple slices on top. Brush the apples with lemon juice and sprinkle with caster sugar.  Bake the tart for 30-35 minutes until the apples are IMG_1934tender and their edges are brown (during this process, you’ll want to keep an eye on the apples – if they get too dark too early, lower the oven temperature slightly).

About 5 minutes before the tart’s due to come out of the oven, heat the apricot jam and pass through a sieve. Once the tart’s been taken out, brush the apples with the apricot jam, then leave to cool completely.

Serve either warm (with ice cream) or cold (with a cup of freshly brewed coffee) and pretend – just for a moment – you’re in Paris.

This recipe was taken from Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook.
For more Mary Berry inspiration, visit her facebook page and website.

Salted Caramel Tarte Tatin

IMG_1824An early episode of this year’s Bake Off required each competitor to present their own take on a Tarte Tatin to Mary and Paul. Ever since, I’ve been meaning to try my hand at making this wonderfully posh-sounding dessert, and when delicious. magazine adorned their cover with this mahogany-hued gem last October, the question of which recipe to follow was answered.

 


IMG_1815What you’ll need

8 small or 6 large Braeburn (or equally crisp) apples
200g golden caster sugar
50ml water
50g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
375g block of all-butter puff pastry (so I suppose we’re cheating a bit…)
plain flour for dusting

What to do
Begin by peeling, coring and halving your apples. Don’t worry if they start to brown a bit as   they will be smothered in caramel in the finished product.

IMG_1818Now ideally you’ll have an oven-proof frying pan (roughly 20cm across at its base) that you can use for all steps of this recipe, but if you’re short of stove and oven compatible containers (as I am), you can use a frying pan first and transfer everything to a casserole or pie dish part way through.

Add the golden caster sugar and water to the frying pan and, over low heat, stir until melted. Once melted, increase the heat, stop stirring and bubble for about 5 minutes or until the caramel is a rich brown colour.

IMG_1821Here, you’ll want to swirl the caramel around to prevent it burning, and don’t be afraid to cook the caramel until it’s a lovely dark colour. That said, if you suspect it’s about to go too far and pass into the realm of burnt, it’s useful to have a sink full of cold water at the ready to plunge your pan into to stop the cooking process.

As soon as you’re happy with the colour of the caramel, remove it from the heat and immediately stir in the butter and salt (you’ll be able to expect a bit of foaming activity here). Arrange the apples in the pan, round side down, and fill in the gaps with smaller slices of apple. Return the pan to the heat and cook for a further 5 minutes on low heat.

IMG_1822If you’re not using an oven-proof pan, now’s the time you’ll have to do a bit of juggling. Carefully remove the apples from the pan, transfer the caramel to a round casserole or pie dish (20cm in diameter at the bottom), then re-arrange the apples in the new dish. Following this (in either scenario), leave the apples and caramel to cool.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/fan200ºC/430ºF.

Roll your pastry out on a floured surface until it’s 2-3mm thick (roughly the thickness of a pound coin). Using a plate or lid (or anything you can find that’s very slightly larger than your pan) as a guide, trace and cut your pastry into a large circle. Transfer the pastry onto your pan and tuck the edges into the side between the apples and the edge.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is a lovely golden brown. Remove from the oven, cool for 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.

I served mine with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it went down a treat!

IMG_1823

Many thanks to delicious. for this lovely recipe.
View more great recipes from delicious. here.

Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays of the year. I love that there’s no gift giving, and that it goes by almost unnoticed in the shops (or perhaps that’s just because I’m in the UK where it’s not celebrated). In any case, no Thanksgiving meal would be complete without pumpkin pie, and while my preference (strangely) is for the slightly fake-tasting store-bought variety, this homemade recipe is a close second. Boasting a lovely spicy flavour, this pumpkin pie is guaranteed to warm your belly and leave you feeling content with the world.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160º fan/350ºF.

What you’ll need:

For the pastry:
175g plain flour
85g cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
40g icing sugar, sifted
2 egg yolk
1 ½ tbsp cold water

For the filling:
675g freshly scooped pumpkin
4 eggs (3 whole plus 1 yolk)
115g dark brown sugar
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
¾ tsp ground allspice
¾ tsp ground cloves
¾ tsp ground ginger
500ml double cream (415ml for the pie and 85ml to whip and top)

What to do:

If you haven’t already, preheat the oven to 180ºC/160º fan/350ºF.

This pie marked my first experience using a food processor to create pastry, and I can’t believe how effortless it was. Measure your flour, icing sugar and butter directly into the food processor and blend until you have a crumb-like mixture. Add the egg yolks and water and blend again. Remove the dough from the food processor, mould it into a ball and wrap it in cling film. Leave to rest in the fridge for 30-60min.

While you’re waiting for your dough to relax, weigh out your pumpkin, pop it in a covered saucepan with about an inch of water, and steam it until it’s mushy (this should take about 20 minutes). Once it’s lost its stiffness, drain in a sieve and squeeze out any excess water.

In a separate bowl, gently whisk the eggs (both the whole eggs and the yolk). Then, combine the cream, sugar and spices in a saucepan and heat to a boil. Simmer for about 30 seconds then remove from the heat and set aside.

Depending on how quickly you’ve moved, your dough should be nearly ready to roll out. Lightly dust your surface and rolling pin with flour, and roll your pastry into a sheet big enough to cover a 10-inch (relatively deep) pie dish. Transfer your pastry to the dish, press it into the bottom edge and trim off any excess pastry around the top.

Next, pour your cream mixture over your whisked eggs and add the pumpkin. Whisk the mixture until it’s relatively smooth (don’t worry if you still have strands of pumpkin).

Pour the filling into the unbaked pastry case and bake for approximately 40 minutes (the filling should be very slightly wobbly when it’s removed). Cool on a wire rack.

I prefer to serve the pie warm with a generous dollop of whipped cream, however, it’s entirely delicious and acceptable to serve it cold.

Enjoy!

 
 

Mary Berry’s American Chocolate Wedding Cake (GF)

Our friends Kate and Iain had their 10th wedding anniversary last month and to celebrate the occasion, Kate and I tackled Mary Berry’s American Chocolate Wedding Cake. Unaware that a standard American wedding cake existed, we took on this project of rather epic proportions, and after tasting the finished product, I’m sure any American would be proud of the association. We found the recipe in Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book, and while the recipe below is perfect for making one 8 inch and one 10-inch cake, you can refer to the back of the book if you’d rather a 6-, 9- or 12-inch construction.

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/170º fan/375ºF.


What you’ll need:

For the cake:
1050g dark chocolate
24 eggs (20 separated and 4 whole)
850g caster sugar
550g ground almonds
5 tsp black coffee
150g apricot jam

For the icing:
700g dark chocolate
300g unsalted butter

What to do:
If you haven’t already, preheat the oven to 190ºC/170º fan/375ºF. Lightly grease one 8-inch and one 10-inch round pan (at least 3 inches deep) and line with greased greaseproof paper.

Next, melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water (it’s best if your bowl does not touch the water). Once melted, remove from the heat and set aside.

Separate the eggs and combine the 20 yolks and 4 whole eggs in a bowl. Add the sugar and beat with an electric whisk until ‘thick and light’ (this will take slightly longer than you expect). Add the chocolate, ground almonds and coffee and continue mixing until smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff and gently fold them into the chocolate batter (you will quickly discover you need a very large bowl for this). Once combined, pour into the two tins and bake. Mary recommends a baking time of 1 hour, but I found ours took a bit longer. As with any cake, bake until an inserted knife comes out clean.

Once you’ve removed your cakes from the oven, let them cool in the tin for about five minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Once cooled, warm and sieve the apricot jam and spread or brush over the tops (originally the bottoms) and sides of the two overturned cakes.

For the icing, melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, stirring occasionally. Keeping each cake on its cooling rack (with a tray underneath to catch any
dripping chocolate), pour the icing over top, covering both the top and sides. Even the surface with a knife as you go, then leave to set.

Once cool, stack the smaller cake on top of the larger and decorate as you see fit. We ate the cake as is, and it was entirely delicious, however Mary recommends complimenting it with a raspberry coulis, which I imagine would be even more decadent.

The cake we made was indeed massive and would have comfortably fed fifty, so adjust your recipe to suit your guest list.

Otherwise, enjoy!

For more Mary Berry inspiration, visit the facebook page and her website.

Rick Stein’s Lavish Lemon & Lime Tart

This lovely recipe was featured on the cover of the September issue of delicious. and seeing as it was the editor’s pick (and bearing in mind my penchant for all things citrus-inspired), I decided to give it a whirl. Although making your own pastry takes a bit of patience, the filling is super-snappy, and the end result was very nearly heavenly.

On a side note, we’re currently passing our days at the Cowell residence, which comes with the added benefit of a luxuriously spacious kitchen, so if you enjoy the new setting, you have Iain and Kate to thank!

Begin by preheating the oven to 200ºC/fan180ºC/gas 6/395ºF.

What you’ll need

For the pastry
250g plain (all purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
25g icing sugar
150g chilled unsalted butter, cubed
2 medium free-range egg yolks
1 egg white, lightly beaten

For the filling
3 large or 4 small lemons
2 limes
6 eggs
250g granulated sugar
150mL double cream
icing sugar to dust (optional)

What to do

For the pastry
Begin by sifting the flour, icing sugar and a pinch of salt. Next, chop your butter into small cubes and, if you have the luxury of a food processor, mix until your end result result resembles fine crumbs. If you do not have a food processor, mix with your hands until you have the same result, doing your best not to over-handle the dough.

Add the yolks and 1 ½ tbsp water, and continue mixing until the pastry comes together. Knead the dough a couple of times before wrapping in cling film and leaving to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Once the pastry has chilled, roll it into a thin layer (using flour to dust) and line a 25cm diameter, 3cm deep loose bottomed tart tin. Prick the base of the tart with a fork (don’t hold back here) and pop it into the fridge to chill for another 25 minutes.

If you haven’t already turned the oven on, preheat to 200ºC/fan180ºC/gas 6/395ºF and place a baking tray in the oven to pre-heat as well.

Once your pastry has finished chilling, remove it from the fridge, line with baking paper and baking beans or pie weights, and bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are very lightly browned. Remove the baking paper and beans/pie weights, and continue to bake for another 4 minutes. Remove once again, brush with the egg white, and return to the oven for a final two minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 120ºC/fan100ºC/gas ½/250ºF.

For the filling
I found I had plenty of time to spare while the pastry was chilling, so got cracking on this earlier.

Begin by grating the zest from the lemons, then squeeze the juice from all of the lemons and limes (this should give you roughly 160mL). In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together by hand (you don’t want the eggs to be frothy), add the citrus juice and cream, and sieve the resulting mixture. Add the lemon zest and you’re good to go.

To bake the tart, Rick Stein gives a handy tip to avoid spilling. Place the baking sheet back in the oven place the pastry case
on the tray and pull the shelf half way out of the oven. Pour the filling into the pastry case, slide the shelf back into the oven and cook for approximately 45 minutes (until just set). Remove from the oven and leave to cool (don’t refrigerate). Dust with
icing if you feel inclined and serve on the
same day if you can.

As per usual, all that’s left to do is enjoy!

Many thanks to Rick Stein and delicious.
This recipe is copyright Rick Stein.
View more great recipes from Rick Stein and delicious.

Cracking Crumble

I’m not sure what all of this nonsense is about crumble being a winter dessert – in my mind it’s absolutely top notch all year round. In fact, the very nature of the mighty crumble allows whatever fruit is in season to be thrown in, so summer ingredients can definitely be catered to. This recipe calls for tinned peaches and frozen raspberries (hardly seasonal, I know) but I’m particularly partial to the moisture they lend the finished product. That said, the crumble is your oyster, so mix it up!

Begin by preheating the oven to 180ºC/160ºCfan/gas mark 5/350ºF.

What you’ll need
8 apples
1 tin of peaches
1 cup frozen raspberries
300g plain (all purpose) flour
pinch of salt
175g sugar (brown or granulated)
200g butter

What to do
Begin by peeling and slicing your apples with your apple peeler/de-corer/slicer machine. If you do not have one, you cannot make this recipe (just kidding, but if you do have one, it makes this rather mundane task delightfully amusing).

Put the apple slices in a large baking/casserole dish (this recipe should feed about eight people), add the peaches (sorry, no syrup) and defrosted raspberries.

In a separate bowl, use your hands to combine the flour, salt, sugar and butter until you’ve achieved a crumble-esque consistency. Gently tip the topping over your fruit and bake for roughly 45-50 minutes.

If you have the time, allow the crumble to cool for a few minutes before serving. Otherwise, top with ice cream or custard and tuck in!