Oranges in orange blossom syrup

This recipe goes deliciously with my semolina cake drenched in rose water syrup, but it can also be enjoyed on its own (or with ice cream)

Use blood oranges in the short time that they are in season. They give a great impact!

Oranges in orange blossom water

  • 4 oranges
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • 2tbsp honey
  • 1/2 vanilla pod, or a few drops of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick, or a pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp orange blossom water

METHOD

  1. Segment the oranges by cutting the flesh from the pith. Squeeze the central section that remains once the segments have been removed. Keep the segments separate from the juice.
  2. In a small pan, bring the orange juice, sugar, honey, vanilla (pod or extract), cinnamon and orange blossom water to the boil. Simmer it for a few minutes to thicken, then pour the syrup over the orange segments.
  3. Leave them to cool, and allow some time for the flavours to infuse.
  4. Serve as a side to a dessert, or as a fruity dessert to be enjoyed alone.

Semolina cake drenched in sticky rosewater syrup

This cake is widely known as Basbousa. It’s a traditional Middle Eastern dessert. It tastes nutty, coconutty and sweet; paired with the delicious and distinctive scent of Rose water. It can be made days ahead as it actually improves with time. Cakes made with semolina are ‘healthy’ (-er than normal cakes), and have a great texture.

What was the reason for baking this beauty? GREED, and the dire need to fatten the world (well my colleagues and friends anyway).

Semolina cake

SEMOLINA CAKE

  • 335g semolina
  • 110g sugar
  • 30g desiccated coconut (preferably unsweetened)
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 110g plain yoghurt
  • 55g melted butter
  • 115ml milk
  • Handful of flaked or whole almonds

ROSE WATER SYRUP

  • 375ml water
  • 120g sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod or 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • 2tbsp rose water
  • pinch of saffron soaked in 2tbsp cold water

METHOD

  1. Mix together the semolina, sugar, desiccated coconut and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in the yoghurt, melted butter and milk to form a stiff batter.
  3. Spread the mixture into a lined baking tin, approximately 6×6 inches square. (Make sure you line the dish with greaseproof paper, otherwise you will have a nightmare releasing the cake after it has been baked!) Score diagonal lines to form a diamond pattern into the batter, and place the almonds in the middle of each diamond. Leave the mixture to rest for about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to about 180C, and pop the cake in for 25 minutes, or until it starts to turn a lovely golden brown.
  5. While the cake is baking, make the syrup. In a small pan, bring the water, sugar, vanilla (pod or extract), rose water and saffron, along with it’s soaking water to the boil. Simmer it for about 5 minutes, and leave it to cool slightly.
  6. When the cake is ready, remove it from the oven, and re score the diamond pattern. It is important that you do this, so the syrup soaks deep into the cracks of the cake to completely smother each piece.
  7. While the cake is still hot, pour the syrup over the cake and allow the syrup to fully absorb into the cake. Cool it completely before you remove it from the tin.

Tips:

  • Serve this cake with yoghurt sweetened with honey, and seasonal fruit.
  • When storing it for a few days, ensure it is in an airtight container.
  • Replace the rose water with orange blossom water, or any other flavoured syrup.

Soft white bread rolls

These were so soft – they made for perfect chicken burgers.

BREAD ROLLS

  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 packet of yeast (instant is fine)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 200ml milk
  • 1tbsp butter

GLAZE

  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1tbsp milk
  • pinch of salt
  • sesame seeds or poppy seeds

METHOD

  1. Mix the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Warm the milk and butter in a saucepan, until the butter is just starting to melt.
    (Science bit: Don’t let the milk get too warm. It should be around 38C – body temperature – for the yeast to activate.)
  3. Pour the milk and butter into the dry ingredients, and mix together to make a rough dough. If the mixture is too wet, add a little more flour (try not to add too much – it’s ok for the dough to be a little sticky).
  4. Lightly flour your work surface, and knead the dough until it is smooth and silky (this takes about 5-10 minutes).
  5. Put the dough in a greased bowl, and cover it with some greased cling-film.
  6. Leave the dough in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size (remember, yeast likes warmth).
  7. Once it has risen, turn the dough onto a floured surface.
  8. Pull off pieces of dough, about the size of golf balls. Flatten the smaller piece of dough, and pull the sides into the middle of the dough. This will ensure your rolls rise in a nice shape. (Bad description of what to do I know.. See The Pink Whisk for a pictorial description.)
  9. Place the rolls onto a greased baking tray. Give each roll some space for growth. Cover with a tea towel for a second chance to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat your oven to about 220C.
  11. Beat together the eggs, milk and pinch of salt, and paint the risen dough with the glaze, before sprinkling on some poppy seeds or sesame seeds.
  12. Bake the buns in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. They should be a nice golden brown colour. Put them on a cooling rack, or do as I did; slice in half, smother in ketchup, cheese and salad. Add a nice meaty chicken burger and devour!

Salted caramel choc pot

Crack through the solid chocolate lid to reach a smooth chocolate ganache; beneath which, lies dreamy salted caramel. Rich and super indulgent.  Happy chocolatey Easter.

Caramel choc potSALTED CARAMEL

  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1/4 tsp sea-salt

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped (your favourite kind)
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1tsp unsalted butter

CHOCOLATE

  • 50g dark chocolate, chopped: for a solid top to the dessert
These measurements make about 4/5 ramekins worth of dessert.

METHOD

  1. To make the caramel, melt the butter in a pan. Add sugar and cream. 
  2. Stir the mixture over a low heat until it dissolves, then increase the heat a little, and simmer until the sauce thickens, and turns a deep caramel brown.
  3. Remove from the heat, and leave it to cool for about 10 minutes. Stir in the salt flakes, and pour the mixture into your serving ramekins. Pop them in the fridge to set.
  4. To make the chocolate ganache, heat the cream in a pan and pour it over the chopped chocolate.
  5. Stir until the chocolate has dissolved, and mix in the butter.
  6. Pour the ganache over the set caramel, and leave it to set in the fridge.
  7. Melt the remaining chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl at all.
  8. Carefully spoon the chocolate over the set ganache layer, and tilt the ramekin to ensure it is totally covered with chocolate. This will set as quite a hard layer of chocolate, that needs to be smashed before you can reach the gooey caramel – so good!

Choc pot

 Slightly adapted from goodtoknow recipes – Thanks G!

Coconut & passionfruit cupcakes

All the mums I have ever met LOVE coconut. Ok maybe thats not quite factual, but through my experience it seems the case.

Hence the arrival of Mother’s day. It had to be something coconutty.

Next challenge: ‘too sweet’ Every cake I have ever made for my mum, has had the icing scraped off.

Everyone keep your fingers crossed for these little babies! Lets see what the ultimate cake critic (mummy) makes.

cococ-passion cake

CAKE

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 50g creamed coconut, coarsely grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 80ml coconut cream
  • Pulp of 2 passionfruits

ICING

  • 250g icing sugar sifted
  • 4 tbsps coconut cream

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to about 160C. Prepare your cupcake tray by lining each cupcake ‘dip’ with butter, and a sprinkle of flour. This will ensure the cakes don’t stick to the sides. 
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the coarsley grated creamed coconut and mix well.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well each time.
  5. Fold in the flour, coconut cream and passionfruit pulp, until just combined.
  6. Scoop even amounts into the cupcake tray, and pop into the oven for 22-25 minutes, or until golden brown and springy to the touch.
  7. Once done, pop them on a cooling rack until completely cool. Meanwhile make the icing by mixing the icing sugar with the coconut cream. You are looking for the consistency of thick custard.
  8. Add a teaspoonful of icing to the top of each cake, and swirl your spoon to encourage it to drizzle down the sides. Top with a sprinkle of desiccated coconut and admire!

These pretty babies were still too sweet for mi madre! Grr! The search continues. On a brighter note, everyone else loved the sweet, sharp flavour that these delivered.

Recipe slightly adapted from The Pink Whisk – Thanks P!

Mississippi mud pie

Visiting my sister, I know never to go empty handed. Clothes and toys for the kids maybe? No. Gifts for my sister and bro-in-law maybe? No.

Mississippi mud pie? Yes.

This cake is the most rich cake ever! Goo-ey, dark, intense chocolate, a hint of coffee, lashings of whipped cream and an almost treacle-like crunchy base. I can only ever manage the smallest slither, yet my sisters can sure do some serious damage to this cake!

Mississippi mud pie

TREACLE BISCUIT BASE

  • 125g digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 25g demerara sugar

MUDDY FILLING

  • 400g plain chocolate (I used Bourneville), broken into pieces
  • 225g butter
  • 2tbsp instant coffee
  • 2tbsp boiling water
  • 300ml single cream
  • 350g dark muscovado sugar
  • 6 eggs

TO FINISH

  • 150ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to around 180C. Lightly grease a 20cm spring-form, or loose bottomed cake tin.
  2. To make the base, mix together the crushed digestive biscuits, the melted butter and the demerara sugar. Spoon into the prepared cake tin.
  3. Level the mixture out evenly using the back of a metal spoon. I also like to get a potato masher involved to make sure the base is nice and flat.
  4. Now turn to the muddy filling. Measure the chocolate, butter, instant coffee, and water into a large pan and heat gently until the butter and chocolate have melted.
  5. Remove from the heat, and gradually beat in the cream, sugar and eggs.
  6. Pour the mix onto the prepared biscuit crumb, and pop into the oven for around 75-90 minutes, or until the cake has less of a wobble. It may need longer than this, however – it will firm up completely as it cools.
  7. Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin.
  8. Decorate the top with whipped cream and blimmin’ dig in!
Slightly adapted from the one and only – Mary Berry. Thanks M!

Sliced pie

Fresh coconut dream

Valentines shmalentines.

Cupcakes made from FRESH COCONUT, topped with soft marshmallow icing.

Make these delicious cakes for your lover. Your friends. Your haters. Or yourself. Why?? Because they are VERY tasty.

I started with a lovely bunch of coconuts:

Coconuts

Oven baked at 160C for about 10-15 minutes (until they cracked), then carefully prised open:

Open coconut

Using a small knife, I carefully removed the white flesh of the coconut, and peeled the brown skin using a potato peeler. I then popped the remaining white flesh in a blender to grate it finely. You can use a hand grater – but be warned – it might be hard work!

Also note… Coconuts make alot of mess…

Coconut dream

COCONUT CUPCAKES

  • 100g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 75g fresh coconut, grated (or unsweetened shop bought coconut)
  • 100g creamed coconut, grated
  • 50ml coconut milk
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder

METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to about 180C.
  2. Prepare your fresh coconut, as above.
  3. Cream the butter and the sugar, until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs 1 at a time. In between start to add some fresh coconut.
  5. Add the rest of the fresh coconut, coconut milk and creamed coconut, and mix for about 1 minute.
  6. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the mix, along with the vanilla essence, and fold the mix until JUST combined. Don’t mix any longer than the just combined stage, as  the mix may end up chewy.
  7. Spoon the mix into the cupcake cases, and pop into the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven, and place onto a cooling rack to cool.
Recipe slightly adapted from Baking Elements – Thanks B!

SOFT MARSHMALLOW ICING

  • 400g caster sugar
  • 170ml water
  • 1/4tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 egg whites
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Combine sugar, water and cream of tartar in a saucepan.
  2. Cook until sugar thermometer reaches 115 degrees C, or until syrup spins a long thread when dripped from a spoon.
  3. Beat egg whites until stiff.
  4. Pour a thin, slow stream of the syrup into egg whites, beating constantly until frosting stands in peaks. Stir in salt and vanilla to taste.
Recipe slightly adapted from All Recipes – Thanks Randoms!

ASSEMBLY

  • Spoon, pipe or slop the icing onto the cupcakes.
  • Sprinkle fresh coconut on top: 

Coconut love

Carefully place the cuppies in a pretty little box, tie a ribbon and gleefully hand over to your lover, friend, foe or self.

Wrapped up!

Enjoy!