Tag Archives: Aga baking

Chocolate and Mint Arctic Roll

This is my entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge.  This month’s challenge is to make a swiss roll or roulade.  Well, you have already witnessed my roulade attempt for last week’s Sunday lunch.  Well, this was this week’s Sunday dessert.  My two girls have fallen in love with mint choc chip ice cream and I keep having to buy tubs from the supermarket to sate their appetite. I have wanted to make mint ice cream for a while.  The mint in our garden is in its prime, a month earlier than usual.  It is also rampant so finding another use for it is a big bonus.

I have always wondered how you got the mint flavour in there – do you infuse the cream or infuse a sugar syrup? (Obviously, if you are a commercial ice cream seller you use mint flavouring and you don’t go in for this infusing malarkey). I googled mint ice cream and found that you can infuse the cream or you can infuse a sugar syrup.  I decided to go with the former.

My first attempt was a disaster.  I decided that to get the green colour you probably needed to chop the leaves and the stalks.  I forgot that mint turns brown when bruised and the cream turned a mucky brown colour on top – not very appetising.

So, the second time round I removed the leaves from the stalks and discarded the stalks (the chickens loved them). I kept the leaves whole and infused them for an hour in the warm cream.  This seemed to work very well but the cream wasn’t very green.  So I thought I would puree the mint leaves and push them through a sieve with the cream again, risking that this may turn the cream brown.  Well, in actual fact I nearly turned the cream red (reminder to self – stick blenders are extremely sharp and will cut your fingers!). Fortunately, all blood was contained well away from the infused cream and I had no reason to tell my guests that we were having mint and strawberry ice cream, as suggested by my helpful neighbour.  I also still have my index finger and thumb intact, just about.

Anyway, as it turns out the infused cream did have a subtle green glow about it.

Not quite commercial mint choc chip green  but lovely anyway.  I was surprised by the taste, it is nothing like commercial mint ice cream.  It had a subtle mint taste with a slight earthiness about it.  I really enjoyed it. I don’t think the kids were as impressed though because it didn’t taste like what they are used to.

I could have just served it as it is but I still wanted to enter this month’s challenge, so I thought an arctic roll might just hit the spot.

I made a traditional swiss roll rather than a roulade.  The difference for me between the two is the flour used in a swiss roll.  If I was making it again I might use the roulade recipe as it is richer and not quite so dry as a swiss roll.  But this did roll better.  I borrowed my mum’s tin – the right size for the recipe, and rolled it straight away as it came out of the oven.  Then unrolled it to fill it with ice cream. No cracks!

Next time I will make the ice cream the day before to give it time to freeze properly and I might just take James Martin’s advice to freeze the ice cream in a plastic pipe as trying to roll it in greaseproof paper was messy and difficult.

For the Mint choc chip ice cream
600ml double cream
60g mint leaves
50g caster sugar
6 egg yolks
1 dsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate, chopped into chip sized pieces

For the swiss roll
3 eggs
75g caster sugar
50g plain flour
25g cocoa powder

Method
For the ice cream:

Pour the double cream into a saucepan and add the mint leaves.  Place the pan on a medium heat and bring up to almost boiling point.  Remove the pan from the heat and  leave to infuse for 1 hour.

Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla extract together until combined.  Sieve the cream into a jug and discard the mint leaves.  Pour the cream over the eggs and whisk well.  Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over a gentle heat, stirring all the time, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Allow to cool and then freeze in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions or pour into a plastic container and place in the freezer removing every half hour for two hours to beat the mixture and remove ice crystals.

I would then recommend sourcing a clean plastic pipe as James Martin advises and freezing the ice cream in this.  Otherwise, lay a piece of greaseproof paper on a worktop and spoon on the ice cream and roll up into a tube shape measuring 5cm x 30 cm.  I found this quite difficult because I had made my ice cream that day and it was melting as soon as I handled it.  So I would advise making the ice cream the day before to give it time to freeze properly.

For the swiss roll

Grease and line with greaseproof paper a shallow swiss roll tin measuring 33cm x 23cm.

Whisk together the eggs and the sugar in a large bowl until the whisk leaves a trail when lifted. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder together and fold very carefully into the mixture.  Spread this evenly onto the tin.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or with the grid shelf on the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga for 8 minutes until the sides are shrinking away from the tin.

Whilst the swiss roll is cooking, lay a piece of greaseproof paper, which is bigger than the swiss roll tray, on the worktop and dust with cocoa powder or sugar.

As soon as the swiss roll is removed from the oven carefully invert it into the greaseproof paper.  Peel away the paper that is on the bottom and, using the paper underneath to help you, roll into a swiss roll.  Place on a wire rack to cool.

When you are ready to serve, remove the roll of ice cream from the freezer, unroll the swiss roll.  Place the ice cream in the middle and re roll the swiss roll to cover.  Serve in slices.

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Summer Roulade

I made this on sunday, with the first British strawberries that I have seen this year.  The rolling didn’t work out too well. But I thought to myself, ‘well I will post it as it tastes good’.  Then just before I post it I read Chele’s latest blog about this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge. This month’s challenge is not an ingredient, but a technique and you guessed it – the making and rolling of a roulade/ swiss roll.  Oh well, maybe more practice is needed before I can submit an entry into this month’s challenge.

Last time I made this roulade it rolled much better.  But last time I had run over to my parent’s house to borrow her swiss roll tin, which measures 29cm x 18cm and has shallow sides.  On Sunday I used my Aga half-sized roasting dish which measure 27cm x 16cm and so this resulted in a slightly thicker and slightly shorter cake.  This made it more difficult to roll, so I think getting the right sized tin is definitely the way to go if you want to enter any challenges.  If you just want a tasty cake then live a little on the edge and use a tin that is approximately the right size.

The recipe for the cake element is based on Delia’s Squidgy Chocolate Log from her Complete Cookery Course.

For the cake:

6 eggs
150g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder

Method

Line a swiss roll (shallow) tin that measures  29cm x 18cm with greaseproof paper or silicone sheet.

Separate the eggs.  Whisk the yolks until they start to thicken.  Add the sugar and whisk until a little thicker. Sift over the cocoa powder and fold in.

In a separate and scrupulously clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.  Add one third of the egg whites and fold in carefully and then add the rest of the egg whites in two further batches.  Folding carefully to retain as much air as possible.  Pour the mixture carefully into the prepare tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the centre of the Baking Oven of the Aga for about 20 minutes until it is springy to the touch.

Leave in the tin to cool.

For the filling:

3 tablespoons of strawberry jam
300ml double cream
about 8 strawberries
1 tbsp cocoa powder

Place a sheet of greaseproof paper, slightly larger than the cake, onto the worktop and dust with cocoa. Softly whip the cream.   Turn the cake out of the tin onto the greaseproof paper.  Spread the jam evenly over the surface and then spread the cream on top.  Halve the strawberries and dot them on top of the cream.  Using the greaseproof paper roll the cake gently into a roll.  If it cracks, it will still taste good. Serve with extra double cream poured over.

Rainbow Cake

“Finally!”, I hear you shout.  This is the cake I made for the crystallised violets.  It was my niece’s 22nd birthday and she had asked for a cake reminiscent of childhood birthday cakes.  This, then, had to be a rainbow cake. Then I added my own childhood memories – a topping of melted Dairy Milk and chocolate rose leaves.  I hope she has similar memories to mine.  She was pleased with the cake and I think it soaked up some of the alcohol consumed that day.

However, because it was destined for my niece I couldn’t slice into it to show you how beautiful a rainbow cake is.  Also, the girls had helped me make this cake and were very excited about the rainbowness of it all, and then disappointed to see that it came out of the oven looking very  much like a normal cake.  So I made one for them the very next day and they decorated it with icing.  The second one rose a lot in the middle.  Mixing the colours into the batter can mean you overmix the cake, losing a lot of the air, and I think this is what happened.  It still tasted good though and both girls have requested rainbow cakes for their next birthday.

This is it destined for the oven, and this is it when cooked.

Every slice is different.

225g softened butter
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
225g plain (all purpose) flour
2 tsp baking powder
50 ml milk
food colourings of your choice ( we used pink, red, purple and green)

Method

Grease and line a 20cm cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180°c, gas mark 4.

Beat the butter until soft and then add the sugar and beat together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat again.

Sift the flour and the baking powder over the batter and gently fold in.  Add the milk and fold again.  Divide the mixture between four bowls (or however many colours you are using) and using the food colouring make each bowl of mixture a different colour.  Try not to overmix the mixture when adding the colours.

Spoon alternate colours into the tin, trying to make a level top without swirling them together too much.

Place into a preheated oven at 180°c, or the baking oven of the four-oven Aga and bake for 45-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then take out of the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

Nutella fairy cakes

These have been in my mind for quite a while. I have been thinking about how Nutella might taste in the middle of a fairy cake and what would happen to its consistency. I can tell the seasons from a jar of Nutella.  In the winter it is almost impossible to spoon out of the jar, the cold of the cupboard has set it hard.  In the summer it becomes oily and hard to keep on the knife as it is lifted out of the jar.

Well, these little cakes were made when the Nutella is of perfect consistency, on a mild spring day, when the sky is an almost azure ( I am in England after all and we don’t often get an azure sky) and the temperature is that wonderful warm on your back but don’t reach for the sun screen warm. The Nutella stayed soft in the centre of the cakes making for a lovely bite of gooeyness.  This also means that there is no need for frosting – perfect.
Makes 12

110g light soft brown sugar
110g softened butter
120g self raising flour (or plain flour with 1 tsp baking powder added)
20g good quality cocoa
2 eggs
Nutella or hazelnut chocolate spread, about 6 teaspoons

Method

Place all of the ingredients, except for the Nutella, in a large bowl and whisk well until all is combined.

Place a scant teaspoonful of the mixture into a fairy cake (mini muffin) case in a patty (mini muffin) tin.  Place  half a teaspoonful of Nutella on top.  Cover with another scant teaspoonful of cake batter.  Repeat with the remaining eleven.

Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the baking oven of the Aga for 15-20 minutes until springy to the touch of a light finger.

Place on a wire rack to cool.

Breadsticks

I made these for saturday night too.  I have wanted to make them for a while and saturday presented the perfect opportunity.  The recipe is from Daniel Steven’s Bread book (River Cottage Handbook No. 3), which is a great book and deserves space on any keen cook’s shelf.

I sprinkled some with sea salt, some with freshly ground pepper, some with crushed chilli and the rest with sesame seeds.

Next time I make them I will be more careful not to stretch them when I lift them onto the tray.  Stretching leads to thinner parts which cook quicker then the rest. I think they were worth the effort, sometimes  it is good to make something that you can buy so easily.

Makes about 30

250g strong white bread flour
250g plain flour
2 tsp fine salt
7g sachet easy bake yeast
glug of olive oil
325ml warm water

Olive oil to brush on breadsticks and then the toppings of your choice or you could leave them plain.

Method

Place the flours, salt and yeast in a bowl and add the olive oil and the water and mix to a sticky dough.  Turn onto a work surface and knead until the dough feels smooth and elastic. Form into a ball place back into the bowl and cover with a large bin liner.  Leave until the dough has doubled in size.

Press the air out of the dough gently with your fingertips and then roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is about 1 cm thick.  I split the dough in half before I rolled it out so that it didn’t become unmanageable.

Then cut into strips as wide and as long as you want.  Lift carefully onto a lightly greased baking tray (I used four baking trays for all of the dough), brush lightly with olive oil and then sprinkle your topping on. Cover again with the bin liner and leave to rise for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°c, gas mark 6 or use the roasting oven of the Aga and then cook the breadsticks for about 20 minutes until they are golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate hazelnut cupcake with coffee buttercream

I think I could benefit from a cupcake decorating course 🙂

I made these the other day to have in the park on the walk home from school to celebrate the change in the weather we seem to have had in the last week or so.  Spring may actually have sprung.  Of course, though, because we had planned a picnic the English weather let us know that we were fools and the sun didn’t peek out of the clouds once.  It was a fairly cold picnic!  Oh well, the cupcakes were good.

I made these in muffin tins so that they are a fair-sized cupcake. You don’t see fairy cakes about much these days.  A fairy cake sized cake is sometimes exactly right to fill a hole.  So feel free to make these smaller.  If you are making them muffin sized they will make 12, so smaller might make 16- 20 I would say.

200g unsalted butter, softened
200g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
100g whole hazelnuts
100g plain (all-purpose) flour
25g good quality cocoa
2 tsp baking powder

For the frosting
100g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
3 tsp cool strong coffee, made from 3 tsp of instant coffee dissolved in  4 tsps of just boiled water
2 tbsp double cream

Method

Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and place into a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 for about 4 minutes until they are lightly toasted.  Be careful, they soon burn. Pour them onto a clean tea towel and rub gently.  Most of the skins will come off, but leave some on as they add a good flavour.  Turn the oven down to 180°c, gas mark 4.

Put the hazelnuts into a food processor and whizz until they are large crumbs.  This adds a nice crunchiness to the cupcake.

Place the butter and sugar into a bowl and whisk until fluffy and pale.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well with each addition. Gently stir in the hazelnuts.

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder over and fold in gently.

Place dessertspoonfuls of the mixture into the muffin cases in a muffin tin. They should be about three-quarters full. If you are using fairy cases then use a teaspoon to fill them three-quarters full.

Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the Baking Oven of the Aga for about 20 – 25 minutes for the muffin sized cakes or 10-15 minutes for the fairy cake size.  They should look firm and feel springy to a gentle touch.

Leave them to cool in the tin for a minute or two and then lift out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat the butter in a bowl until soft, add the icing sugar and stir in gently at first.  If you beat it straight in you will end up with a fine layer of icing sugar dust all over the kitchen.  When it is starting to clump together start to whisk it until it is fluffy. Add the coffee and beat again. Add the cream and beat until all is combined.  Pipe over the cupcakes more artistically then I can manage.

 

Earl Grey Kisses

Are you ready for a tale of woe?

This month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge was hosted by Choclette and she came up with the fantastic idea of creating something with chocolate and tea.  Now straight away the thought struck me that Earl Grey truffles would be a lovely thing.  Except I had no Earl Grey in the house.

The days of February passed in a dash and I suddenly found myself in the middle of half term, at home with two busy children and still no Earl Grey.  Several trips to the shops later and still no Earl Grey.  It was the final day of the challenge and I managed to remember to buy Earl Grey, but then a cough came on and I ran out of energy and time.

Anyway, Sunday morning arrived and I thought I would make the truffles for eating after dinner.  I made them but the ganache split. I was making dinner for ten so the truffle mixture stayed in the fridge.  Monday morning and the split ganache was saved with the addition  of a bit more cream, but then I was busy and when I took the ganache out of the fridge it had set solid and there was no way any truffles could be formed.  The split ganache had returned with a fury it seems.

So today I reheated the ganache and yes it is well and truly split.  No truffles will be made from this. But in that ganache is 100g of chocolate and 200ml of cream.  I was not about to waste it.  The little one is off from nursery with a cough of her own but wanted to make cookies.  So here they are, cookies made with the ganache and filled with the ganache.

I will try to make the truffles again as the mixture tasted lovely.  These cookies are tasty but the delicate Earl Grey taste is lost amongst the biscuityness of it all.  But the ganache has at least been saved.

For the ganache:

100g best quality dark chocolate, chopped finely
200ml double cream
4 heaped tsp Earl Grey loose tea

Method

Pour the cream into a small saucepan and add the tea leaves.  Heat until just under boiling point. Take the pan off the heat and leave to infuse for  15 minutes. Place the chopped chocolate into a shallow bowl.  Strain the cream through a sieve into a jug, reheat gently and pour over the chocolate.  Leave to melt for a minute or so and then stir gently until the mixture is smooth.  If you successfully manage this without it splitting and becoming granular then you should be able to place it in the fridge for an hour or so and then roll into truffles.

For the cookies:

100g butter, softened
75g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
3 tbsps of the Earl Grey chocolate ganache
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
a splash of milk if necessary

Method

Cream together the butter and the sugar until fluffy.  Add the egg and beat until well combined.  Add the ganache and stir to mix.  Sieve over the flour and baking powder and stir until the mixture comes together into a stiff dough.  You may need a splash of milk to help it come together.

Roll teaspoonfuls into balls and flatten into discs and place onto greased baking trays (you will need two).  Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the Baking Oven of the Aga for 8-12 minutes until they look dry and feel firm.  Leave to cool on the tin for a couple of minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sandwich two of the biscuits together using the Earl Grey chocolate ganache.