Monday, August 24, 2009

Peach & Plum Crumble

While I was out in the New England countryside, we bought some farm fresh peaches and plums and decided to make a crumble.
Peaches and plums define summer for me and make a perfect pair together,especially in this.
The topping for the crumble had to be the best I had ever tasted and the fruit was perfectly sweetened and produced this wonderful pink syrup.
We enjoyed this crumble with some vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries on the side. 
A big thank you to my mother-in-law to be, for creating this recipe with me :)

For the fruit:
  • 3 peaches (sliced)
  • 4 plums (sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
For the topping:
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick)
  • Pinch of salt

Start by slicing the peaches and plums and layering them inside a 9 inch oven dish.

Mix together the orange juice and vanilla extract and pour all over the fruit and then sprinkle over a teaspoon of sugar.

Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

For the topping add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and begin to rub everything together between your fingers until you are left with a well combined mixture.

Crumble the topping over the fruit to evenly cover.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.

The topping should be golden brown and the fruit should be bubbling underneath.

You can eat this straight out of the oven or you can leave it to cool and then reheat it again if you want.

The crumble is perfect with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of creme fraiche.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lemon Cream Cake

As you can see by the candles, this is a birthday cake :)
It's a buttermilk sponge cake with a lemon cream icing using mascarpone cheese.
I made this cake last summer using regular cream cheese and it works all the same way, but the sweet creaminess of the mascarpone compliments the sourness of the lemon juice very nicely.

It was my partner's birthday this week and I decided to make him this cake. He's had it before and I remember him liking it a lot so I thought it was a good choice.

Sadly I was looking forward to a lengthier week of cake and a cup of tea after, but the cake was a little too popular to last even a couple of days.

This has easily become one of my favorite cakes in the word, It's the perfect balance of lemon and sweetness and is the perfect cake for a summer afternoon high tea.

For the cake:
  • 2 1/4 cups fine cake flour
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 buttermilk
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/3 cups white sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Begin by sifting the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.

In another bowl, beat the buttermilk and egg whites with an electric whisk until it forms soft peaks.

In another bowl, rub together the sugar and lemon zest and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.

Gradually add half of the flour while whisking with an electric mixer.Then slowly add the egg whites and mix again.

Add the rest of the flour, continuing to mix well until you're left with a smooth batter.

Divide the cake batter into two 9 inch round cake pans lined with parchment paper.

(I used spring form pans which makes it easier to remove the cakes)

Bake at the top of the oven for 30-35 minutes.

When the cakes are done, let them cool in their cake pans a little before transferring to a cooling rack.

For the Lemon Cream:

  • 1 tub of soft mascarpone cheese (8 oz)
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 5 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream

When the cakes have cooled fully you can begin to make the lemon cream.

Whip the cream with an electric whisk until it forms high stiff peaks. Add the mascarpone and lemon juice to the cream and whisk. Then slowly add in the confectioners sugar, whisking well until smooth.

Begin to assemble the cake by placing one of the cakes on a serving plate. Spread the lemon cream to cover the top of the cake.

Then carefully place the other cake on top of the lemon cream covered cake and cover them all over with the rest of the lemon cream.

Decorate the cake as you like! I used sliced lemons and blueberries and lightly dusted confectioners sugar over the cake.

Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving to enable the lemon cream to set.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Chocolate Cheesecake

I was Introduced to this cheesecake about 6 years ago. I was given a piece that was brought home by my Mum after a dinner party.
The cheesecake was said to be made by a friend of her friend.

t must have been the best cheesecake I ever had and of course I instantly asked her to try and get the recipe for me.
"Marianne's Cheesecake" the recipe said. The name just stuck and it has always been referred to as "Marianne's Cheesecake." The funny thing is, I have never met Marianne, but I would like to thank her where ever she is for this delightful cheesecake recipe.

There's absolutely nothing complicated about this recipe. Its simplicity is what makes this cheesecake so appealing to make (and eat) and there is no baking required.
The recipe actually calls for digestive biscuits for the base of the cheesecake, but now that I'm living in New York and can't buy them so easily, I just used chocolate chip cookies.

Marianne's Cheesecake

For the base:
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chip cookies (or chocolate digestive biscuits if you have them)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
For the top:
  • 3 1/4 cups really good dark chocolate (broken into small pieces)
  • 1 cup finely ground white sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tubs soft cream cheese (8 oz tubs)

In a food processor, grind the chocolate chip cookies to course crumbs. Then add the butter, brown sugar and cocoa powder and pulse a few times until combined.

Add this mixture to a 9 inch round spring form cake pan and press it firmly into the bottom of the pan until you're left with a flat, compressed surface.

Place the pan in the refrigerator.

Fill 1/3 of a medium sized sauce pan with water and heat on the stove until the water begins to simmer, then turn the heat to medium/low.

Place a heat proof bowl on top of the pan and add the broken up chocolate.

When the chocolate has melted add the sugar and stir well, then add the heavy cream.

Let this all melt together and then take the bowl off the heat.

Add the softened cream cheese to the bowl of chocolate and whisk this well with an electric mixer.

Pour this mixture on top of the base of the cake pan and smooth out on top with a spatula. Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 3 hours until set.

When the cheesecake is ready to be served, run a knife around the whole cake, then un-clip the spring form pan gently and remove the top.

I like to take the cheesecake out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving, so that it slightly softens.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Brioche Buttons

Balthazar restaurant in New York have a bakery that sell these little brioches and I always thought they were really adorable, so I decided to make my own version of the little buttons.
I baked them using a mini muffin pan, so they turned out to be approximately 2 1/2 inches tall.

I made chocolate brioche buttons with half of the recipe and the other half I kept plain, I love them both.

If you want them fresh for breakfast, wrap the dough in plastic wrap the night before (after rising) and bake them in the morning. Make sure that you take the dough out at least 30-40 minutes before baking so that it is at room temperature.

Brioche Buttons
(Makes approx 36)

  • 9 fluid ounces lukewarm milk
  • 1 packet dry active yeast (7g)
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 3/4 cup cooled melted butter (plus more for brushing on top)
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Semi sweet chocolate chips (for the chocolate brioche)
  • Mini muffin pan

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Make a hollow hole in the center of the flour and pour in the lukewarm milk (I just warmed the milk in the microwave for 1 minute).

Then add the yeast to the milk with 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Let this sit for 5 minutes until it's bubbly.

Then mix the milky yeast and the flour together.

Then add the beaten eggs, lemon zest, salt, cooled melted butter and sugar.

Mix the dough together very well and then begin to knead (you can do this with your hands or with a mixer).

If the dough is too sticky then add a some extra sifted flour.

Once kneaded well, cover the bowl in plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm room for 1 hour.

When the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough down and begin to knead again with your hands for 2 minutes.

Place the dough on a floured surface to rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Start to roll the dough into little balls to fit inside the mini muffin holes.

For the chocolate ones place a couple of chocolate chips in each dough ball and pinch tight to close them inside.

Brush each of the buttons with melted butter before baking.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes per batch at 400F.

Take them out of the oven when they are beginning to turn golden.

As soon as you take them out brush them again with melted butter.

They can be eaten straight out of the oven or after they have cooled down.

Cute little things!

Perfect petite brioche buttons for breakfast :)
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