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.
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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.

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!

Cheats rasmalai

Another traditional Indian dessert, made without the traditional faff.

Rasmalai – dumplings made from milk powder (traditionally milk curd – like ricotta), submerged in sweetened milk, flavoured with cardamon, saffron and lots of nuts. The balls double in size when soaked in the milk. They become light, fluffy, puffs of creamy dough.

The traditional method can be found here – Love & Lentils. You will need a full day to make these babies from scratch.

Alternatively, you can try my ‘cheats’ method which takes under an hour.

Rasmalai

DUMPLINGS

  • 1 cup unsweetened milk powder (Nido) or dry milk – I used a tea mug as a measure
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 1 levelled tbsp plain flour
  • 1tbsp ghee, melted (or any oil)
  • 1 egg, beaten

SWEETENED MILK

  • 1 litre whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar – I used the same tea mug as above
  • 5/6 whole cardamon
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Handful of chopped nuts (pistachios and almonds, or anything you like)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamon

METHOD

  1. Place the milk, sugar, saffron and whole cardamon in a large pot, and bring it to the boil. Once boiled, leave it on a low heat for 10 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile – in a separate bowl, mix together the powdered milk, flour and baking powder. Add the ghee (or oil) and mix well.
  3. Slowly add the eggs. Stop adding egg, when the mixture just starts to hold together. If the mix wont hold together, even after all the egg is added, add a tiny bit of milk. Don’t worry if the dough is a little crumbly – it’s better this way.
  4. Knead the dough for a few minutes.
  5. Make small balls from the dough (remember they double in size). Try to work with light hands, not squeezing the balls too tightly, as they may not cook the whole way through, yet making sure they wont separate when boiled. Don’t leave the balls out for longer than 5 minutes – cover with a damp tea towel if you absolutely must wait longer.
  6. Gently place the balls in the simmering milk. Turn the heat up to high, and bring the milk to the boil – watch it doesn’t make a mess!
  7. Once the milk has boiled, cover the pot, turn the heat down for about 10-15 minutes, or until the balls are fully cooked through. Here is where your dough balls become light fluffy dumplings.
  8. Leave the dumplings on the slowest flame for a further 2-3 minutes, to eliminate any chances of an uncooked dumpling (hard in the middle).
  9. Gently transfer them to a glass serving bowl, and sprinkle with nuts and ground cardamon.
  10. Chill in the fridge before serving.

Slightly adapted from The Chef in Me – Thanks C!

Rasmalai

Whipped!

“Haaaaapppy birthday to youuu”

I love birthdays. I think I love other people’s birthdays more than they do! Surprising people with lovely treats and gifts is SO much fun.

Cue today’s treat:

Profiteroles. FILLED with different flavoured whipped cream.

Whipped cream

Cinnamon, Chantilly, Chocolate, Hazelnut and Lemon.

CINNAMON CREAM

  • 150ml double cream
  • 1tbsp icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Alter the above quantities, depending on the amount of cream you are whipping. Replace the cinnamon for any powdered flavour you like (like ginger)!

METHOD

  1. Whip the double cream to soft peaks.
  2. Add the icing sugar and ground cinnamon, and whip to medium peaks.
  3. Be careful not to over whip, from which point there is no going back!

CHANTILLY CREAM

See previous blog post!

CHOCOLATE CREAM

  • 150ml double cream
  • 50g chocolate, chopped

METHOD

  1. Heat the cream in a saucepan until it reaches boiling point.
  2. Pour it over the chopped chocolate, in a heat proof bowl, and let them mingle for a minute.
  3. Stir together until properly combined, and leave to cool completely.
  4. When cool. whip away until you reach the desired peak level.
  5. Note that it takes longer to whip this cream, so be patient!

HAZELNUT CREAM

  • 150ml double cream
  • 1tbsp icing sugar
  • Handful of chopped hazelnuts
Alter the above quantities, depending on the amount of cream you are whipping. Replace the hazelnuts for any nuts you like (macadamia?)

METHOD

  1. Whip the double cream to soft peaks.
  2. Add the icing sugar, and whip a tiny bit more.
  3. Throw in the chopped hazelnuts, and enjoy the CRUNCH!

LEMON CREAM

  • 150ml double cream
  • 1tbsp icing sugar
  • Zest from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2tsp lemon juice
Alter the above quantities, depending on the amount of cream you are whipping. Replace the lemon with any other citrus fruit you like (Oranges – mmmm)!

METHOD

  1. Whip the double cream to soft peaks.
  2. Add the icing sugar, and lemon zest, and whip a little more.
  3. Mix in the lemon juice, a little at a time.

Slightly adapted from Kitchen Simplicity – Thanks K!

Follow my previous blog post and make profiteroles, and replace the cream with any flavour you like! My favourite was cinnamon – I just couldn’t get enough!

Birthday treats!