Friday, 17 August 2012

Rich Fruit Cake

As long as you have the patience to bake this for as long as it needs then it's actually a very straightforward recipe. Combine this with the ability to buy pre-rolled marzipan and royal icing and it becomes simple to make a great looking cake.

Ingredients:

  • 350g butter, at room temperature
  • 350g soft brown sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 400g plain flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cloves, ground (or 1/3 tsp if pre-ground)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 150g almond flakes
  • 100g mixed peel, chopped
  • 100g glace cherries, chopped
  • 250g raisins
  • 250g sultanas
  • 600g currants
  • 6 tbsp brandy

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees.
  2. Cut a sheet or two of greaseproof paper so that it lines the side and bottom of your cake tin.
  3. Cut a sheet of greaseproof paper so that it fits on the top of your cake tin as a lid with a few cm of spare paper running down each side.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a very large bowl with a spoon. You want a smooth butter and sugar mixture.
  5. Mix the eggs into the butter and sugar mixture 2 at a time. If you add them all at once then it can be hard to mix and keep the consistency.
  6. Add the flour, cinnamon and cloves on top of the mixture and stir slowly.
  7. Add all the rest of the ingredients apart from the brandy and mix until uniform.
  8. Pour into the lined cake tin.
  9. Place in the oven for 1.5 hours.
  10. Remove from the oven and carefully place the paper lid over the top. Tie a length of string around it to keep the lid on. This helps to keep the cake moist while it continues to bake. Be careful not to burn yourself on the cake tin though, as it'll be hot.
  11. Return to the oven for a further 2 hours.
  12. Insert a skewer into the centre of the cake and remove it. If it comes out clean then it's cooked all the way through. If it doesn't then leave it for a further 15 minutes and re-test with the skewer. Depending on your oven you might need to do this cycle of testing and then waiting 15 minutes a few more times.
  13. Once cooked all the way through, remove from the oven and leave for a few hours to fully cool.
  14. When it's room temperature, carefully prick the top of the cake with a skewer and drizzle the brandy over it.
  15. Place the cake in an airtight container or cover with marzipan and icing before eating.
Makes a cake suitable for a 23cm square tin.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Barbecue Pizza

When I heard about the ability to cook pizza on a barbecue I knew I had to have a go. It works really well and gives the pizzas a strong smoky flavour. To get the cheese on top to melt enough then you'll almost certainly need a barbecue with a lid on it. Instead of a traditional tomato sauce, I went for a BBQ sauce style sauce to compete with the smoke flavour from the barbecue.

Ingredients:

  • 1 quantity of pizza dough
  • 100g of kale, washed and roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp brown sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
  • 2 balls of mozzarella (about 125g each), thinly sliced

Method:

  1. Make the pizza dough as per the other recipe.
  2. Light your barbecue.
  3. In a saucepan combine the kale, brown sauce and sugar.
  4. Heat the kale mixture over a low to medium heat until it reduces down nicely. You might want to add a spoon or two of water to start with, but it should take about 10 minutes to reduce down to a thick sticky sauce.
  5. Mash up the kale mixture with a fork so that it's a spreadable sauce.
  6. Split the pizza dough into two balls and roll each one out on some boards or baking trays (to make transferring them to the barbecue easier).
  7. Slide one of the rolled out pizza bases onto your barbecue and cover with the lid.
  8. Cook for 5 minutes and then turn the pizza base over.
  9. Before covering the base again, spread half of the kale over the top of it and then add on half the slices of cheese.
  10. Put the lid back on the barbecue and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  11. Remove from the barbecue and repeat the process with the other pizza base.
  12. Cut up the pizza, serve and enjoy.
Makes two pizzas, enough for 3 to 4 people.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

This 'cake' doesn't require any baking and is full of chocolate goodness.

Ingredients:

  • 200g unsalted butter, cut into squares
  • 300g dark chocolate, broken into squares
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 300g rich tea biscuits
  • 75g hazelnuts, roughly chopped into chunks
  • 75g raisins

Method:

  1. Put the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a bowl and place over a saucepan with some water in it.
  2. Bring the water in the pan to a simmer and use it to slowly melt the chocolate and butter together. Don't stir the chocolate mixture until it looks like it's mostly melted.
  3. Carefully and slowly stir the chocolate mixture until it's got the same consistency.
  4. Remove from the heat and put to one side.
  5. Meanwhile, place the rich tea biscuits in a large freezer/plastic bag. Place this bag inside another bag so that it doesn't matter if it breaks.
  6. Use a rolling pin to break the biscuits up into small chunks.
  7. Combine the biscuits with the chocolate mixture and add the nuts and raisins.
  8. Mix well.
  9. While the chocolate is still molten, pour it into a roasting tin or baking tray with high sides.
  10. Press down with a spoon.
  11. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours until it's all set.
  12. Cut into slices with a sharp knife and place into an airtight container.
  13. Once this has set there is no need to keep it in the fridge.
Makes 16 squares of biscuit cake.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Grated Carrot Fritters

The inside of these fritters goes nice and soft while the outside crisps up nicely in the pan. They go well on their own or as a side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 leek, washed and finely chopped
  • 3 tsp sunflower oil
  • 6 carrots, washed, ends removed and grated
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp plain flour

Method:

  1. Fry the leek in a tsp of sunflower oil in a large frying pan until soft. Keep the pan around, as you're going to use it again soon.
  2. Put the leek in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  3. Put the remaining oil in the frying pan and heat it up over a medium heat.
  4. Use your hands to form the carrot mixture into about 6 to 8 burger shaped pieces. Squeeze them with your hands to make sure they are compressed together.
  5. Fry for about 7 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned.
  6. Serve with some ketchup on the side.
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Feta and Pepper Sour Dough Burgers

This is a simple and straightforward way of making some home-made vegetarian burgers. The only downside is that you really need to make the dough in the morning if you want this for dinner. If you can't find some sour dough starter then don't worry, you can create your own starter from scratch fairly easily.

Ingredients:

  • 300g sour dough starter
  • 500g strong plain flour
  • 200ml warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sweet peppers, cut in half, stalks and seeds removed
  • 75g (about half a block) feta cheese, sliced lengthwise into 4 slices
  • 4 tsp tomato chutney or piccalilli

Method:

  1. Mix the sour dough starter, flour, warm water and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Kneed it with your hands once it starts to form a ball. You should kneed for 3 to 4 minutes. If it keeps sticking to your hands add a bit more flour and if it falls apart add a bit more water. After adding some water or flour it's worth kneeding for a minute or two as it can take a while for flour to absorb the water.
  3. Shape the dough into a large ball and cover the bowl with a damp tea towel.
  4. Leave to rise for 4 or 5 hours.
  5. Remove the dough from the bowl and kneed it for a couple of minutes.
  6. Divide into six pieces, roll each into a ball and then place on a greased baking tray.
  7. Cover and leave to rise for an hour or two.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees.
  9. Prepare the halves of the sweet pepper and lightly coat them in oil.
  10. Place the peppers on the baking tray with the bread and bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
  11. Remove the peppers and rolls from the oven and leave to stand for a couple of minutes.
  12. Cut open 4 of the rolls and fill each with a spoonful of the chutney, half a roasted pepper and a slice of feta.
Makes 4 burgers with a couple of rolls left over for lunch.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Sour Dough Friendship Cake

I got this recipe from my parents at the same time as taking a portion of their sour dough starter. The recipe called it "Herman, German Friendship Cake". If you can't find some sour dough starter then don't worry, you can create your own starter from scratch fairly easily.

Ingredients:

  • 200g of sour dough mixture
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 160ml sunflower oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cooking apples, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 bananas, peeled and sliced
  • 100g raisins
  • 100g chopped walnuts
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 2 heaped tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • 25g butter, thinly sliced

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together apart from the dark brown sugar and the butter.
  3. Grease a large roasting tin with some butter.
  4. Pour the mixture into the roasting tin.
  5. Sprinkle the brown sugar and thinly sliced butter over the top.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes in the oven. Check that it's cooked all the way through before removing it. To do this just insert a skewer into the center and check it comes out clean.
  7. Leave to cool and then slice into squares.
  8. Store in an air tight container before eating. This can also be stored for months in the freezer.
Makes 16 slices.