Saturday, 8 November 2014

Baked Raspberry Ripple New York Cheesecake

Two posts within days of each other?! Can this be real? Yes, mainly because I've been at home and so had access to a kitchen and abundant cooking supplies. It's been amazing. I came home to about 5 packs of Philadelphia my mum had bought for making a red velvet cake which never materialised, so I decided a cheesecake would be a good way to use it all up! I was correct (said cheesecake was demolished within a day of me letting my dad near it).

I've seen a lot of raspberry cheesecakes knocking about on instagram recently, and it made me really want to create my own! I wasn't quite sure how to go about it, so I just made a basic vanilla cheesecake and my own improvised version of raspberry puree. I bought frozen raspberries for the puree, and didn't really think about defrosting them until I needed to make the puree. I didn't defrost them, and it turned out fine! This cheesecake is creamy, thick and decadent, but the raspberry cuts through the sweetness to ensure it isn't overpowering - the best combination!

The recipe is adapted from Nigel Slater's Baked Lemon and Vanilla Cheesecake in his 'Real Food' book.

Recipe (serves 8-10):
  • 250g digestives
  • 90g butter, melted
  • 500g full fat cream cheese
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 165ml double cream
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 150oC, and grease a 23cm springform tin.
  2. Smash the digestives into small crumbs by placing them in a plastic bag and bashing them with a rolling pin.
  3. Mix the digestives and the butter, and flatten into the prepared tin. Put in the fridge while preparing the cheesecake.
  4. Beat the cream cheese and the sugar together until thick and creamy.
  5. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, until well combined.
  6. Pour in the cream.
  7. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  8. Pour the mixture into the tin.
  9. Blend the raspberries with 1tbsp of icing sugar (and some water if frozen) until smooth.
  10. Lightly dot the raspberry mixture around the top of the cheesecake mixture (you will not use all of the puree).
  11. Swirl the dots into the cake with a skewer, and decorate with a few raspberries if desired.
  12. Cook in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the cheesecake is lightly golden and slightly wobbly in the centre.
  13. Leave to cool (and refrigerate overnight if possible).

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Hi! It's been a while. Even though I promised it wouldn't be. Then again, I think we've realised through the duration of this blog that my blogging promises mean very little. Ah well. I had a birthday! I turned 19!! I feel old. 19 isn't very old, but it's the last year I can call myself a 'teenager', and 20 sounds very old and grown-up, which I'm not ready to be. At least I've got another year to get my head around it before I actually turn 20! Anyway, this cake - I wanted something big, cool, and calorific for my 19th, so I decided to make a 5-layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, marshmallow icing and Katherine Sabbath-inspired decorations.

The first step consisted of making the chocolate bark. I melted some dairy milk, spread it out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, mixed some melted white chocolate with pink food colouring and dolloped that on, sprinkled on some 'eton mess' mix I found in sainsbury's (basically small bits of meringue and dried raspberries), and put it in the fridge. Very simple.

After the bark was made, I moved onto the cake. Some may say this is the best part. I'm inclined to agree. I baked 5 layers (well, 6, but I dropped one...) of moist, dense chocolate cake, and left it overnight to settle. It makes it a lot less crumbly and much easier to work with when it's been allowed time to set!

I sandwiched the layers together with chocolate frosting, one of the most amazing substances ever to be invented. I ate half of the mix before it even made its way to the cake.

For the outside of the cake, I used Primrose Bakery's marshmallow icing recipe. The quantity was just enough to cover the cake, but it really could have done with a bit more (oops). I smashed into the chocolate bark with a knife to create shard-like blocks, and stuck them into the cake with maltesers propping them up - any excuse to put more maltesers on a cake! I decorated the outside with a ring of maltesers, and then threw 100s & 1000s around the base. Finally, lashings of edible glitter were added as the finishing touches. 

I then promptly dropped something into the front of the cake, leaving a dent and a quick patching up exercise. I managed to do this before photos were taken on the good camera, hence the number of side shots and iPhone photos. That was a lot of birthday drama! I think the rubber duck candles more than make up for the ruined icing though!

Recipe - makes enough for a good three days of cake-eating/serves at least 10:

Cake - per 2 layers:
  • 6oz caster/soft brown sugar
  • 6oz butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 4.5oz self-raising flour
  • 1.5oz cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180oC. Grease and line two 8" cake tins.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy.
  3. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, until well combined. Don't worry if the mixtures curdles, it will all be rectified with the addition of flour.
  4. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.
  5. Fold it in gently, until all incorporated.
  6. Halve the mixture between the two baking tins.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Leave to cool, preferable overnight if you want to have a crumb-free icing experience.
Chocolate buttercream - I never weigh out my icing measurements because I prefer just to add things until I get the right consistency, but here is my mum's icing recipe (which is basically the exact same one I use!)

Enough to fill 5 layers of cake:

  • 400-450g icing sugar
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 100g soft butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk to mix
  1. Sift 400g icing sugar and the cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Add the butter and two tablespoons of milk. 
  3. Mix well with a large spoon or electric whisk, adding more milk if necessary to make a soft, smooth, spreadable buttercream. 
  4. Taste and adjust the flavour, adding more sifted icing sugar and/or cocoa powder if needed.
Marshmallow icing:
  • 120g granulated sugar
  • 80g golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Food colouring of choice.
  1. In a large saucepan, heat sugar, golden syrup and water on a high heat until it reaches soft ball stage (the mixture, when a small amount is dropped in cool water, should ball together to form a squishy, not hard ball).
  2. Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks when the beater is removed.
  3. Slowly whisk the sugar mixture into the egg whites.
  4. Continue beating until thick and smooth.
  5. Beat in the vanilla.
  6. Add food colouring, until desired concentration has been reached.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Billington's #BakeFace Brownies

I'm alive!! Sorry for the massive lack of posts recently, but settling into life as a university student takes a bit of time, plus there's not all that much time left over for baking (sadly). Also, I left my camera at home so it's iPhone pics all the way!

Anyway, to the point - brownies. More specifically, Billington's brownies. If you follow me on instagram (which you totally should, click here), then you may have seen me post about these a little bit. Billington's, together with Baking Mad, are running a #BakeFace competition to win some cool prizes, and all you need to do to enter is submit a photo here of your best #BakeFace!

Now to what's most important - the food itself. These brownies were made according to the Billington's recipe, and they were pretty different to other brownies I've made (see here, and here, and here, aaaand here - I love brownies ok don't judge). The recipe calls for 350g of dark chocolate, which is a heck of a lot, especially when you're a student whose baking chocolate stocks are severely limited. However, it's worth it - the end result is dense, chocolately gooeyness which led me to eat about half the pan before remembering I had a Baking Society meeting later in the day which I was meant to take the brownies to...

The use of dark muscovado sugar definitely made this richer than other recipes, and the texture was just so good. Once I've saved up enough money to stock up on cooking chocolate, I'll be making these again - perfect comfort food for the dark days, after all: winter is coming.

Last but not least, I would be very grateful if you could please vote for me in this competition! I really want to own a mug with my face on! 

Please click here to vote!

DISCLAIMER: For this post I did receive a small hamper of baking goods from a PR company, but this has not affected my opinion at all - these brownies are damn good and I do really want a mug with my face on!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Trifle Birthday Cake

It was my dad's birthday the other day, and I took it upon myself to make a cake - a birthday does not exist without cake, it's scientifically proven. My dad likes trifle, and recently watched the episode of GBBO where they make Swedish Princess Cake, so I thought the best thing to do would be to make a weird hybrid of these things (and it worked!).

I started off by making two normal vanilla sponges, then when they were cool I set to work. I covered the bottom layer with about an entire jar of jam - my dad loves jam - and built up little walls around the edges. I then thickened some custard with a little cornflour, and poured that into the middle of the jam, so it got kept in by the jam walls.

I sandwiched the other sponge layer on top, and sadly the jam walls didn't quite hold up and so the custard leaked out - I remedied it by pouring the rest of the custard around the edge of the cake to make it look deliberate. I then piped whipped cream on the top, plopped some  balls of marzipan on top of them, and dusted it off with some icing sugar.

The result was a rich, decadent, pretty damn tasty cake. The next day, the remaining custard had soaked into the sponge and created a really cool custard-cake, something I will be exploring in the future...

Also, I know I haven't been posting much, but everything is so hectic - I'm moving to university on Saturday, and I don't think I'll have much time to do anything until I've settled in!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars

I've found my happy place - it's on the settee, listening to George Ezra, browsing tumblr and eating these. Perfection. These cookie bars are a remake of the ones I made at Christmas time, with a couple of changes. The chocolate is bigger, chunkier, and much better. The butter, rather than being melted, is creamed with the sugar to create a nicer texture - less oily than the previous version.

These are the best thing - more substantial than cookies, yet with a similar taste and a sufficient amount of chocolate. A wonderful A Level result celebration food! On the morning of my results I could really have done with one of these to settle my nerves, but sadly I had to settle with baking afterwards and lining my stomach with them before a big night of forgetting we even did A Levels by downing all the vodka. In the morning, however, it all came back to me... Including the fact that I will be moving to Camden in September, in order to start a shiny new life as a History undergraduate! Luckily, my accommodation is amazing and has photograph-worthy kitchens in which I can bake to my heart's content (until my loan runs out)! 

If you've never made cookie bars, I strongly recommend making these right now. Even if you're reading this at 3am mid-air on a flight to Tokyo, make these right now. Or, if you've made some before, make these now! Why would you want to live in a world without cookie bars?!

Recipe (makes 24-ish squares):

  • 170g butter, melted
  • 200g soft light brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 150g chocolate, chopped into chunks
  1. Preheat the oven to 165oC and line a 9"x12" baking tray.
  2. Cream the sugars and the butter together using an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
  4. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into the mixture and gently fold it in.
  5. Stir in the chocolate until just combined.
  6. Press the mixture into the baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden on top and a skewer/knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.