Monday, 18 March 2013

Riccarelli.. little almond bites

These little biscuits are incrediably moreish and so easy to make. As they have no gluten they are perfect for a gluten free diet and lovely as a gift, wrapped up in pretty paper or layered high in a pretty box or tin.This should give you approximately 25 biscuits depending how large you make them.

 120g / 3 large egg whites
 50g icing sugar plus extra for dusting
 250g caster sugar
 300g ground almonds
 grated zest of an orange
almond extract/optional - just a couple of drops as it can be quite overpowering.

Grease 2 trays - this is important as with no added fat they will stick to the trays like glue. Beat the egg whites with the icing sugar until increased in volume. Fold in the remaining ingrediants one at a time until everything is fully incorporated. Cover a board liberally with icing sugar and begin to shape the mixture, taking teaspoon size amounts and shaping them into a lozenge shape making a slight indentation in the centre or at the sides. Space well apart on the trays - they will spread - then sift over a generous layer of icing sugar, thick enough so they look completely white.
 Bake at 160 for 15-20 mins until the surface looks cracked. They should be pale in colour not browned.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool briefly on the trays, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

You will find one, two, three of these are simply not enough !

. TIPS.. Try these amounts initially and if the mixture seems a little too wet then add a little less egg white. Dusting your hands in icing sugar helps with the stickiness when shaping.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Pomegranate T pot sponges with pomegranate jewels..!

This is a simple sponge cake mix with pomegranate flavouring for a little difference decorated with
little pomegranate, fresh flowers and rosemary.

225g unsalted butter softened, plus a little extra for greasing
225g self raising flour
caster sugar
2 organic eggs lightly beaten
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

2 round 7inch/20cm tins - greased and base lined with grease proof
Oven 180c/350f

Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Mix in then pomegranate essence. Gradually mix in the eggs. Fold in the flour, baking powder and salt with a large metal
spoon until just incorporated. Don't over mix or the end result will be heavy.

Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 22-25 mins until nicely coloured but not brown.
Test with a skewer making sure it comes out clean and the top is nice and springy to the touch.
Leave to cool before you turn out the cakes on to wire rack.

Once cool use a teapot cutter - which you will naturally have !  dust with icing sugar and flowers.

Friday, 15 March 2013

French flair in Brighton..

A new Patisserie is in place in Brighton in recent weeks and lovely it is too.

Boutique Salon du The - Chef/Patron of Cocoa Patisserie - but with very different styling. Situated in upmarket Duke St it differs from the usual Brighton fare as it looks decidedly French. Minamilist, clean with a long, large glass counter above which hangs stunning coloured pendant lights highlighting a fabulous rainbow selection of macaroons below, 24 flavours encompassing delights such as tonka bean, passionfruit and lychee with raspberry. Sitting alongside are a selection of small cakes and pastries with typical French flourish.

There is seating upstairs where you can select savouries from the menu with a varied selection of leaf teas and coffee.Presentation is a visual treat, glass teapots and tap water served in beautiful glasses coloured sherbert pink and lime green, with top up hot water for your tea in a metal flask.The staff all seem to be French adding to the authenticity.

Come the warmer weather you can sit outside and people watch..

Lovely lamingtons..

Australians claim these as their own but as a New Zealander we baked and ate them too, just like the iconic Pavlova. Whatever the truth both are classics and all Antipodeans will have some sort of memory of them, no doubt from their Mothers.
Lamingtons in particular are a 'fun' thing to bake with little ones as the mess tends to appeal. Just remember to cover everything as chocolate and coconut sticks to children and surfaces like glue.

125g unsalted butter -melted
300g unrefined caster sugar
250g sour cream
3 tsp vanilla extract
50ml sunflower oil
5 organic eggs
300g plain flour - g/f if required
3tsp baking powder - g/f if required

For the chocolate coating

300g dark chocolate or cocoa
30g cocoa
200g caster sugar
150ml milk
250/300g desiccated coconut - you may need more or less

25cm square tin lined with non stick paper
Heat oven to 170c/150c fan/325f/gas 3

Pour the melted butter into a mixing bowl with the sugar, sour cream,vanilla extract and oil, beat for a minute or so until nice and smooth, add the eggs one at a time and beat each one in well before adding the next. Sift in the flour and baking powder and stir well. Spoon the batter into the tin, cover the top with a lid of foil and bake for about an hour - removing foil after 40 mins. 
Test with a skewer after an hour,it should come out clean when ready.

Cool the cake in the tin, covering with cling film to keep moist.

Finely chop the chocolate then whisk the cocoa, sugar and milk in a pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and leave until just warm before using. Cut the cake
into squares then fill a roomy bowl with the coconut and dip each one into the chocolate mix until completely covered then coat each square in the coconut. Using a pair of forks helps with less mess.

Place on a wire rack to set.

Clementine cake..

This is Claudia Roden's orange and almond cake recipe which I have slightly adapted by using clementines instead of the 2 whole oranges and topped with a cream cheese orange zest icing.

You do need a food processor for this, unless your going for the more authentic 1968 version where you had to press the oranges through a sieve. This is the perfect cake for those of us who have problems with gluten and/or butter as it is without both.

2 whole oranges or 5 clementines
6 organic eggs
250g ground almonds
250g unrefined caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder g/f


2 tubs of cream cheese
Icing sugar, sifted enough to your own taste preference

Zest of one orange

Butter or cake release spray for the tin
Dusting of flour

190c pre heated oven/170c fan assisted
8inch round springform tin

Wash and boil the oranges unpeeled in water, enough to cover for 1/2 hours - clementines will need a lot less cooking time, just until the skin is nice and soft.
Leave them to cool, then cut open and remove the pips. Chop into large pieces and place in the processor. Add the eggs and remaining ingredients and whizz until everything is well incorporated.
You may need to check that all the almonds have blended properly.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for an hour. It should have a nice brown colour to the top. Leave to cool on a wire rack for about 10 mins then loosen the tin. You may find the cake sticks 
to the sides of the tin a little due to the sugar fruit juice mix, if so just go round the inside rim of the tin with flat edged spatula to loosen.

Turn out and leave to cool completely if you want to ice it.

Mix icing ingredients together in a large bowl. I don't tend to be too specific as I taste as I go.
Smooth over a cold cake and add extras as you like .