Monday, 13 May 2013

Fat Bottomed Cheesecake

If truth be told I am not a big cheesecake fan. I think years of moussey, fluffy, soggy based concoctions at school are probably to blame. And can someone explain to me why the topping was always an odd green colour? My Mother-In-Law has worked tirelessly at trying to cure me of my cheesecake aversion. Her baked cheesecakes make a regular appearance at the banquets feasts meals when we visit. Usually alongside at least one other pudding. I have grown to truly like her cheesecake, and because I enjoy a challenge I have learnt to bake them too. Always baked. Always. Surely there is no other way? Though I was intrigued to recently read this recipe by Nigel Slater, my food hero. This cheesecake doesn't even get a whiff of baking. Dare I try it? I might have to simply because Nigel doesn't usually get it wrong. In the meantime, this is my basic cheesecake recipe:

What You Need:

For the base:

  • 90g digestive biscuits
  • 90g ginger nuts
  • 60g grape nuts (or just add 30g more ginger nuts and 30g more digestives)
  • 100g butter
  • A pinch of salt

For the cheesecake layer:

  • 600g full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 4 tbsp cornflour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

For the soured cream topping:

  • 450ml soured cream
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

What You Do:

Make the base:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Crumb the biscuits in a food processor or by whacking them savagely with a rolling pin in a bag
  3. Mix with the grape nuts (if using). 
  4. Melt the butter, then add the biscuit crumbs and a pinch of salt and mix well.
  5. Firmly spread the crumbs over the base of a tall 20cm cake tin (spring form is best).
  6. Put this into the oven for 20 minutes while you make the cheesecake topping.

Make the cheesecake layer:

  1. Put the cheese into a large bowl and stir with a whisk to get rid of any lumps.
  2. Mix in the mascarpone cheese, cornflour, sugar and vanilla extract.
  3. Beat the eggs together, and then gradually add them to the mixture beating until the mixture is just smooth.
  4. Take the tin out of the oven and turn the oven down to 110C , you might like to keep the door open for a couple of minutes to help it to cool down more quickly.
  5. Pour the mixture onto the base, and gently shake it to level it. 
  6. Put it back into the oven on a baking tray and bake for about 80- 90 minutes, until it is set, but still slightly wobbly in the middle.
  7. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to cool for about 20 minutes, but turn the oven up to 180C.

Make the soured cream topping:

  1. While the cheesecake is cooling, stir together the soured cream, caster sugar and vanilla extract.
  2. Pour the soured cream topping over the cheesecake and bake it again for 10 minutes at this higher temperature.
  3. Then turn the oven off and open the door slightly to allow the cheesecake to cool completely inside before taking it out, removing from the tin and refrigerating.

All that is left after lunch.....

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Ginger Cake

I have a thing for stem ginger (with Greek yoghurt please), root ginger (in my green monster smoothie thank you), and ginger in general. Apparently it is very good for you. In which case, this cake is the healthiest thing I have ever made, and I really should a) make it more often and b) have a third second slice right now. It is based on Dan Lepard's Ginger and Honey Cake, but:
  1. I didn't have quite enough honey in the cupboard so used 200g honey, 50g golden syrup and 50g black treacle.
  2. I couldn't bring myself to chop up 400g of stem ginger (about 3 of those little jars!), so only used one which gave me 150g of gingery nuggets which I actually felt was more than enough.
  3. I forgot to add the grated stem ginger, but the cake was still delicious though I probably would try to be less forgetful next time.
This was a definite success - gingery, moist and obviously so, so good for you. My Mother-In-Law's ginger soup is the stuff of legends when anyone is feeling unwell in our family. I might have to add this cake to the 'feel better soon' list of things to cook.

Could there be a healthier cake?

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Who Knew?

I have just made a cake full of glace cherries. And they have NOT sunk! Apparently, if you rinse the sticky little things, dry and lightly dust them in flour before stirring them into the mix they don't plummet to the bottom of the cake during cooking. The cake I have just made is this cherry and almond loaf by Nigella. It is simple and delicious, but it did need a lot longer in the oven (about 80 minutes in total) before it was ready. This meant covering the top with foil to stop it from browning too much after roughly 50 minutes. Just so you know.

Shockingly bad photo, but don't those cherries look good!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Biscuit Brownie Fudge Bars

Amazing son number 2 is going away for the weekend on a camp with his friends from church. Excited is something of an understatement. Combined with the fact that it is his 10th birthday next week and excitement levels are high. So high that I am thinking of banning all sugary substances in his diet to maintain my sanity. I have however made a batch of very sugary treats for him to share with his friends while he is away. I won't be there to deal with the sugar overload. Apparently he will be allowed to play football at 8 o'clock in the morning on both days of the camp. This is a very good thing according to him. I can only admire the camp leaders - tire them out before breakfast. Genius. I hope it works. And that these biscuit/brownie/fudge bars don't cause too much mayhem. 

Biscuit Brownie Fudge Bars
  • 350g bourbon biscuits bashed into crumbs
  • 50g bourbon biscuits cut into chunks
  • 120g melted butter
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 100g white chocolate
  1. Preheat the oven to 160c and line a baking tray with baking paper
  2. Mix the melted butter and bourbon biscuits crumbs and press evenly into the baking tray
  3. In a pan gently heat the condensed milk, dark chocolate and milk chocolate, stirring all the time until fully melted and combined
  4. Pour the condensed milk/chocolate mixture over the biscuit base
  5. Scatter the chocolate chips over this along with the chunks of bourbon biscuit and gently press in
  6. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes
  7. Remove from the oven and drizzle the melted white chocolate all over the top
  8. Once cool, refrigerate overnight before cutting into pieces

Apt, Very Apt

ANOTHER day of dressing up for amazing son number 2 at school today. Can I just reiterate that I do cake not costumes. I can make pretty good cake but rubbish costumes. And again I left it until the day before to sort said costume. The theme for today was 'Super Heroes' for Red Nose Day. We just about pulled it off again as amazing son number 2 is so very cute. There was some compromise discussion as to what super hero he wanted to be a few days ago. We decided on 'Super Geek' with the catchphrase 'I know ALL the answers'. I had to laugh this morning. He wanted to dust his bedroom to earn pocket money and I said that he had to tidy away all the Lego and toys on the floor first. His reply? "Why do I need to tidy first, I'm not going to dust the floor?!" Hmmm. An answer for everything that one, truly.

'I know ALL the answers!'

Monday, 4 March 2013

Coffee and Biscoff Muffins

I have joyfully managed to track down some more Lotus Biscuit Spread (aka Biscoff, though I don't know why) since I singlehandedly finished the jars I brought back from America last summer. We had 8 jars in the cupboard a mere 5 days ago. Now there are just 5. I did give one to a friend, but it doesn't negate the fact that 2 have already been consumed. Not quite all by me, I have allowed the gorgeous husband and the amazing sons to sample a little. Please understand that I have given up chocolate for Lent and you do not want to come between me and my Biscoff. 

My favourite way to eat this deliciousness was initially on a spoon cold from the fridge. Somehow a jar found its way into the microwave and I discovered that when warmed and runny it is possibly even more amazing. And provided the inspiration for some late night baking (ok, we're talking 8pm) yesterday. Coffee muffins topped with Biscoff Spread. The week is looking good with some of these to eat!

I used this recipe but upped the coffee a little as we like it strong. I also put a good dollop of the Biscoff in the middle before baking, and then simply spooned the melted spread over the top when the muffins had cooled. The gorgeous husband and the amazing sons have gone to work/school with one each. See, me being generous again and sharing. The rest are mine though. All mine.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Quest

There is nothing I like more than a really good brownie. Well, with the possible exception of macarons. I could happily eat brownies for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And have been known to come closer to achieving that than should be allowed. They need to be dense, moist and fudgey with  a slight crispy crust on the top. We are talking about the need for brownie perfection here. It is something of a quest of mine. I am usually disappointed when I buy ready made ones and prefer to make my own. This has meant eating many, many brownies trying many recipes. One of the few exceptions to the ready made rule are Paul A Young brownies. This man is a chocolate genius and his come very close to being everything a brownie should be for me. Sadly, they are only available in London. Nice excuse for a trip, but not feasible on a regular enough basis. I needed a brownie in my life yesterday so decided to try a Paul A Young recipe that I stumbled across. I tweaked a bit as I only had light brown soft sugar and molasses sugar in the house, and I added extra marzipan chunks to the brownie batter. The gorgeous husband declared them "the best brownie I have ever made". I am having to avoid the kitchen to stop myself from eating anymore today. I'm not sure I'm the 'brownie queen' yet as the mince pie maker claims that crown for himself still, but I'm working on it.

Brownie Love - complete with a molasses sugar and marzipan crust

Monday, 7 January 2013

No Guttersnipe

My favourite film of all time is My Fair Lady. I absolutely adore it. Admittedly, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Shrek come pretty high on my list so please don't think me too posh cultured. As a child I endured benefitted from regular elocution lessons so I have always felt something of an affinity with Eliza. Professor Higgins may not have been able to label me a "guttersnipe" to begin with but I'm sure even he would be impressed by my high standards regarding grammar and enunciation nowadays. I'm not even sure I like text speak/abbreviations in messages. I only use them as they do save time. I am going to have to lie down in a darkened room after receiving the most recent text message from amazing son number 1.

Professor Higgins may be needed if that is ever articulated out loud, believe me.