Blackforest Cake

January 28, 2011

Untraditionally for Christmas this year, I decided to make a Blackforest Cake. There was going to be a mass of people at our family Christmas this year. We were going to have the traditional pudding, as well as a pavlova but for my SIL I decided Blackforest Cake.

Well maybe not entirely just for her………

It’s not something you see very often in the shops anymore, I remember growing up that this was quite often the fare at events. Nowadays it seems to be cheesecakes…or is that just where I am?

Anyway – I made it, and I had such fun doing it. Was a multiple step process. Starting with the cherry filling, then the multiple layers of cake. My cake had 5 layers I even had the shortcrust base, and the layers themselves…well they left a bit to be desired if you ask me. But, they could’ve been worse for sure! and I had such fun assembling, and grating the fairtrade chocolate all over the cake that who really cared?

Blackforest Cake


125g plain flour
10g cocoa
1t Baking powder
50g sugar
1T kirsch
75g butter


350g jar of cherries
30g cornflour
25g sugar
3T kirsch


225g butter at room temperature
225g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
225g self raising flour
2T cocoa
2T milk


750ml pure cream
2T kirsch
50g icing sugar

Base: Sift flour with cocoa & baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add sugar, kirsch and softened butter. Mix using a dough hook or paddle beater until combined. Roll out to a 28cm circle, and place into a lined 28cm spring form tin. I still don’t have a rolling pin at the new place, so I simply tipped the mixture into the tin, and pressed it out to fit. Poke the dough all over with a fork, as below. Bake in oven at 200C for 10 or 15 minutes
Cherry: Drain a jar of cherries (reserving all juice but keeping 4T to the side, put juice into a pot and bring to a boil. Mix cornflour and the 4T of juice until all lumps have dissolved and when juice comes to the boil, take off the heat and whisk in this mixture, returning it to the heat until its thick. Remove from the heat, add cherries and once completely cool add sugar and kirsch.
Layers: Cream the butter and the sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, and stir in the vanilla extract. Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon, adding a little extra milk if necessary, to create a batter with a soft dropping consistency. Divide the mixture between the cake tins and gently spread out with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin, cool completely
Cream: Whip cream until peaking, adding in sugar and kirsch until smooth and incorporated.
Assembly: base, cherries, some cream, layer, cream, layer, cream etc….cover outside with cream, grate chocolate and cover whole cake.


Brownie Goodness

January 21, 2011

I have a soft spot for brownies, I don’t so much like eating them. But, I do like making them. I like soft-gooeness of it all…I don’t really know why, but I enjoy it.

I use Nigella Lawson’s Snow-Flecked Brownies as my base always from Feast. I’ve made them with adaptations many times over. Properly snow-flecked with white choc chips, sometimes with dark chocolate, sometimes with no chips and rather walnuts. They’re just a brilliant base recipe. They make such beautiful moist brownies……I love the gooey!

Make sure you don’t overcook it though, otherwise it will loose its gooey and become a cake! They still nice….but not really brownies anymore are they?


* 355g unsalted butter
* 370g chocolate
* 6 eggs
* 2 cups sugar
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* 1.5 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 255g chocolate buttons (white, milk or dark)
* About 2 teaspoons confectioners sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line the sides and base of a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan with aluminum foil or baking parchment. (I used used a muffin tin this time though.)
Melt the butter and dark chocolate together in a large heavy-based pan over low heat.
In a bowl, beat the eggs together with the sugar and vanilla extract. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool a little, then add the egg and sugar mixture and beat well. Fold in the flour and salt. Then stir in the buttons. Beat to combine then scrape and pour the brownie mixture into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 25 minutes. You can see when the brownies are ready because the top dried to a slightly paler brown speckle, while the middle remains dark, dense and gooey. Even with such a big batch you do need to keep checking on it; the difference between gungey brownies and dry ones is only a few minutes. Remember, too, that they will continue to cook as they cool.


Home Made Muesli bars

January 20, 2011

I have been on a bit of a baking sabbatical. Well perhaps I should rephrase, a bit of a blogging about baking sabbatical. I’ve been churning out biscotti still, and muffins for the Husband to munch on. And, made some lemon meringue (which I will blog about eventually) with some leftover whites from the icecream I made. But, I guess what I’m saying is that I haven’t been photographing and noting it. I’ve been baking to supply food, not to try things, or assess them. But, to give someone (usually the Husband) something to eat.

Last night, I wanted to do something though. I made caramel icecream, muesli bars and brownies. I thought I’d start with the bars – the icecream likely will never make an apperance (consumed very quickly by the Husband) but the brownies will.

This is probably the best recipe I’ve come across for Muesli bars. The Husband quite likes to take Muesli bars to work and I’ve tried many different recipes over the months trying to find the one I think is most suitable. I don’t want to give in and buy him pre-made ones out of an aisle in the shopping centre. Meh!

So with some tweeking and some changing from a variety of recipes I’ve used. I came up with the following.

Home-made muesli bars

125g butter
75g firmly packed brown sugar
135g rolled oats
75g self-raising flour
135g trail mix (or fruit & nut mix, or a nut & seed mix)

Preheat oven to 180°C and greace a slice pan and line with one piece of baking paper.
Stir butter and sugar in saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Take off the heat and add in the remaining ingredients.
Press the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for about 35 minutes or until golden.
Cool in the pan. Cut into bars (I usually cut them whilst they’re still warm to touch so that they’re not crunchy and breakable then)


Banana Bread

August 6, 2010

Banana Bread from Crust and Crumb oh so yummy, but oh so bad for you!

The BIL has called this butter bread! it’s bad for you on a whole number of levels. The sugar content is enormous!

I am going to have to try it with different combinations, because the commentary suggests replacing the banana with grated zucchini or carrots or raisin or blueberry. And, it does allow for different amounts of sugars. I’ve only made it in the original banana bread version and I’ve not played with the sugar content but I will. I’ve also done it with walnuts and without walnuts, love it best with walnuts. There is a suggestion that one replaces the nuts with chocolate or a combination of the two…ideas ideas….

What I love about banana bread and similar is that they are moist, and quick and simple. They are tender tender goodness due to the butter!!!! oh the mouth watering-ness of it all. The other good thing about this is that you can make the batter days in advance and keep it in the fridge (for up to 3 days) or freeze it (for up to 1month) its really just great.

Banana Bread

3.5 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1.5t baking powder
1/4t baking soda
3/4t salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1.5 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2t vanilla extract
1.25 cup buttermilk
2.5 cups mashed banana
1.5 cups walnuts

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into a mixing bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer (with paddle) cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy (about 2 minutes). Mix in the eggs, 1 at a time. then mix in the vanilla. The mixture should be light and fluffy. Mix in one third of the flour mix, then one third of the buttermilk, then one third of the bananas and repeat. Mix until the flour is absorbed and batter is smooth. Stir in the walnuts if using, just till evenly dispersed. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease two 4×8 inch loaf pans. Fill the pans two-thirds full. Bake for about 45 minutes then reduced the heat to 170C and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let the loaves cool in th pan for about 10 minutes then turn out and let them cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

IT is a bit late, but I am pretty pleased to have this delicious bad-ness to celebrate 1 whole year of me blogging now…albeit sporadically


July Daring Baker Challenge

July 31, 2010

I’m running a bit late, though I did take complete the challenge in time!

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

It was a lot of fun to make, and each component had its own little challenge. We regularly make icecream in our house hold (KitchenAid goodness), the Husband lives on the stuff but because of that consumption really started to occur before properly set. What can you do though?

Attached is the original recipe!

Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake


Yeasted Bagels

July 25, 2010

Another recipe from Crust and Crumb against using the poolish style pre-ferment.

Funnily enough this was the recipe I wanted to make that created all of the poolish in the first place. The Husband finally developed an appreciation for the wonderfulness of a good bagel whilst we were overseas. On two occasions he had bagels (I know that’s not a lot in a 6 week period) but both times they satisfied amazing hunger needs. First time around was just a plain bagel, with nothing on it. Which may not sound all together appealing but after a bout of food poisoning and nearly 2 days of not eating, this was the very first thing he ate. He was ravenous by that stage and he was able to keep it down. Tick one for bagels! The second time around we were in transit on our way home, we hit Heathrow with a little bit of time to get some food into our systems (we’d been offered egg sandwiches in flight…so never going to happen for him!. We arrived seeing TGI Fridays, think score! Only to be disappointed with the line, with little else on offer, we headed to the shortest line. The bagel place! Now you wouldn’t hold much hope in these sorts of establishments really but, as “luck” would have it, it was nearly 8 hours since our last meal, so again he was ravenous. He howed down 1 bagel, slathered with cream cheese and salmon, enjoyed it immensely and was still hungry so dived on another, bacon and chicken this time around. Oh how he enjoyed them. So two very positive wonderful food memories associated with bagels!

So since I’ve returned I have been purchasing bagels in store, making variations on the above, plus others. But I always knew in the back of my mind that I would have to give cooking them a go. Then this book entered my life, and all of its wonderful-ness just called out to have everything inside it made. So slowly but surely I began that challenge. With immense joy as you may have already figured out!

I enjoyed making these bagels a lot. I love the poaching step, and I will be doing this again, and next time around I think I’ll be trying some poppy seed, or perhaps flavoured dough. And, maybe just maybe, using the entire batch of poolish just for them! This time around they just got speckled with some almond meal I used because I didn’t have cornmeal!

I did poach one a touch too long as I was distracted reading the commentaries (for the next recipe I’ll write about) which are so very important in this book. Which resulted in this one bagel being a touch more…..chewy then the rest of them. But, still tasty, and I am yet to really find anything truly wrong with his formulas! It is a very dry dough, that uses lukewarm water to ensure no little specks of yeast speckle the surface of your finished product and its very important you follow this, because part of a good bagel is its looks! I also really liked his method of forming the bagel, instead of rope-and-loop he suggests shoving your thumb through the centre of a ball of dough, and it works well, its quick and is a lot gentler on the dough. One important thing to remember is that when poaching your dough, if they do not float to the surface within 15 seconds of dropping them in, they have not been proofed enough and when baked in the oven the hole will close up.

Yeasted Bagels

Makes 6 – 14 bagels depending on the size you make

1 cup poolish
½ t instant yeast
½ cup lukewarm water
3.5 cups unbleached bread flour
2t salt
1 ½ T honey or malt syrup

Meausre out the sponge and let it sit at room temperature for an hour before using it. Stir the yeast into the water to dissolve and let it sit for 3 minutes. combine the sponge, flour, salt and honey in the bowl of KitchenAid with a dough hook, add the water-yeast mixture.
Mix for 1 minute on a low speed and then for 10 minutes on medium speed – watching to make sure the machine is not struggling (you can of course knead by hand) when done the dough will be dense and fairly dry to the touch, and pass the windowpane test.
Immediately cut the dough into 6-14 pieces depending on the size you want. Roll the pieces into balls. Cover them with plastic wrap or a clean towel and rest for 5 minutes. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and dust it lightly with cornmeal.
To form the bagels, poke a hole in the centre of one piece of the dough with your thumb. Keeping your thumb in the centre, work your dough around, expanding the hole and making an even circle. Put your other thumb in the hole too and gently expand the hole to about 1 inch. If the dough resists or tears let it rest for a few more minutes.
Place the shaped pieces about 2 inches apart on the pan. Enclose the pan in a plastic bag and let the dough rest for 1.5 hours, until it increases about 25% – test the dough if you want, by drpping it in a pan of cold water. If it doesn’t float let it rest a bit longer and then try again.
Make sure the bag is closed and put in the fridge for at least 6 hours, if not over night.
Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 240C lightly grease a baking tray and line with parchment and sprinkle with cornmeal and then mist with spray. Remove the shaped dough from the fridge at least half an hour before you plan to bake them.
Fill a large pot of water with at least 4 inches of water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat so the water is simmering.
Working in batches, gently drop the dough in water. After 1 minute flip the bagels over with a slotted spoon and poach them on the other side for another 1 minute.
Remove the bagels with a slotted spoon, allowing the water to drip into the pot. Place them 2 inches apart on the tray. It is here you would sprinkle with seeds or toppings if you want.
Bake the bagels for 10-12 minutes, till lightly browned. Checking halfway through and rotating the pan front to back.
Transfer the bagels to a rack at allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before eating. To freeze bagels, allow to cool completely and seal tightly in a freezer bag, and its a good idea to pre-slice them at this point too!

Unbleached bread flour 100%
Poolish 50%
Instant Yeast 0.4%
Water 25%
Salt 3.1%
Honey (or malt) 6.2%



July 18, 2010

Crust and Crumb is an amazing book. I love it, I love bread so that’s probably why. Having said that the major problem is of course my intolerance of one of the most important ingredients. Yeast and I are not friends and yet I will not stop eating it!

I am slowly making my way through the different recipes, and today I started quite a bit today. I have made the Banana Bread, the French Bread II (with Pate Fermentee) and the White Sandwich Loaf. And have enjoyed every mouthful of all of them. I decided though that I wanted to make some bagels. So, I had to make some poolish style pre-ferment. This is a sponge made by combining yeast with a small amount of flour and a large amount of water. Due to the lack of resistance of dough, the yeast ferments and multiplies more quickly.

Like the recipe says due to the small amount of yeast that is already in this dish it makes it difficult to reduce the amount of fermentee you create. There is a suggestion of perhaps cutting the ingredients in half and using 1/8 t of yeast, but you can freeze the sponge if you want. Or you can just make the full batch and then make a lot of things! If you do decide to freeze the poolish you need to do so just before or after refrigerating it on the first night, otherwise it’s less reliable and take it out at least 24hours before you want to use it.

One of the many things I made with this pre-ferment is pizza dough.

Now the Husband makes a really good non-yeasted pizza dough that I love and actually prefer over this dough now that I’ve tried it. However, due to the fact that I had all this leftover poolish I wanted to give it a go. It is a nice flavoured dough but just didn’t have the same flavour that the Husband’s does. I would make it again if I had leftover poolish so it’s not a bad thing is it? There is 2 dough’s though so I could always try the other one as well.

The quantity of this was 3 pizza’s as I was catering for the parent’s-in-laws who came over to help the Husband mount our dryer so I could reclaim some space in my laundry, I needed to be mindful of tastes. So I went with a classic Hawaiian
a BBQ chicken
and pepperoni.

Poolish Style Pre-ferment

4 cups unbleached bread flour
4 cups cool water
1/4t instant yeast

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl large enough to hold the batter after it has doubled in volume. Beat or whisk for about 1 minute, until the batter is well mixed and quite smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature for 3-5hours or till foamy and bubbly. Refrigerate the poolish, well covered, and overnight.
Makes just over 3 pounds

Pizza Dough I

3.5 cups unbleached bread flour
2t salt
¼ t instant yeast
2T honey
½ cup olive oil
¾ cup plus 1T cool water
1 ¼ cup poolish

Combine all the ingredient in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (not dough) or a mixing bowl. Mix on a low speed for 1 minute and then increase to a medium speed and mix for about 12 minutes until the dough is smooth and creamy. It will be very thick and like pancake batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for about 3 hours, till bubbly. Refrigerate overnight; it will thicken as it cools. Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured work surface and divide into 3 pieces. Toss the pieces one at a time in flour, gently round into a bowl and mist the tops of the dough with cooking spray and cover with a plastic bag. Let the dough rise for at least 30 minutes before proceeding. Preheat the oven to 290C (or as high as your oven will go) prepare the oven for heath baking. Line an inverted sheet pan with parchment and mist. Spread out the dough and make it as thin as possible without tearing. Dress the pizza with the sauce and toppings you want. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven and serve.