Thursday, 16 September 2010

Ice Cream Cake

There is a book which has been on my Amazon wish list for a while called 'Rose's Heavenly Cakes' by Rose Levy Beranbaum so imagine my surprise when I came across a blog called 'Heavenly Cake Baker' - where a bunch of very talented bakers are 'Julie and Julia-ing' their way through this book. That's something I'd quite like to do at some point but I need to find a baking book that I love so much that I literally want to try every single recipe. Perhaps Rose's book will be it.

Anyway, I digress - one of the cakes they made was a chocolate ice cream cake. As soon as I saw pictures, I was determined to make an ice cream cake and when a friend's birthday came up, my mind immediately went to the ice cream cake. Now try as I might, I couldn't find a recipe for Rose's version - I guess I just have to buy the book - so I decided to improvise and I used Nigella Lawson's Victoria Sponge recipe from 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' because it's just an incredibly simple yet flavourful recipe. I used Carte D'or's 'Vanilla' and 'Chocolate Inspiration' ice creams as they were buy one get one free but if you're feeling flush, I'd recommend buying a luxury brand of ice cream like Green & Blacks or Waitrose's Seriously Creamy Range. The great thing with this is you can mix it up as you feel like. I'll probably always have a layer of vanilla in mine but perhaps make the second layer coconut and lime ice cream in summer or use just different chocolate ice creams when I am having an intense chocolate craving. The spring form pan is your oyster! Go crazy!

Serves 10 – 12
Prepare about 24 hours before you intend to serve it.

Ingredients

Cake
338g unsalted butter, very soft
338g caster sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs
300g self raising flour
38g corn flour
1 and a half teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons of milk
12 inch spring form pan

Filling
2 litres of ice cream - I used 1 litre each of two flavours

Fudge sauce
200g milk chocolate
100g white chocolate
300ml single cream
Whole milk

Cake
1 - Grease and flour your baking tin
2 - Preheat the oven to 180ÂșC/gas mark 4
3 - Cream the butter and sugar together till the butter has turned white. 
4 - Add the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of flour between each.
5 - Fold in the rest of the flour and the corn flour, adding no baking powder, and when all is incorporated, add the milk as you need.
6 - Pour and scrape the batter into the tin and bake for about 40 minutes until the cake is beginning to come away at the edges, is springy to the touch on top and a cake-tester comes out clean. 
7 - Take out cake and leave to cool for an hour.

Assembly
1 - When you take out the cake from the oven, take out your ice cream from the freezer.
2 - When cake is completely cool (about an hour), remove it from the spring form pan, and slice in half horizontally (Tip: Sticking toothpicks into the side of the cake at the halfway mark at regular intervals all the way around will help you guide your knife and cut it evenly)
3 - Put the bottom half back into the spring form pan (exposed side facing up). Handle the cake carefully as it will be delicate but don't worry too much about mistakes as you can cover a multitude of sins with the ice cream and fudge sauce.
4 - Evenly spread the first layer (1 litre) of ice cream on top of the half cake in the baking tin, making sure to spread it all the way to the edges. Follow with the second flavour, again spreading evenly and round the edges.
5 - Cover with the top half of the cake. Wrap the tin in cling film and place back into the freezer.

Fudge sauce
Make the fudge sauce about 10 minutes before you intend to serve the cake.
1 - Break the chocolate up and melt it (I melt chocolate in a Pyrex bowl placed in a wok partially filled with water)
2 - When melted, take the chocolate off the heat and stir in the cream, stirring continuously.
3 - You want it quite liquid as it will harden once it is poured onto the frozen cake so add milk to get it to a liquid consistency (think the consistency of gravy).
4 - When you are ready to serve the cake, place spring form tin on a large plate, open up the clasp and lift the side of the tin off the cake. 
5 - Pour the hot fudge sauce over the top, drizzling some down the sides. I kept half of the fudge sauce and poured a bit over each individual slice.
Tip: To cut the ice cream cake, have a pitcher of hot water nearby and dip the knife into it in between cutting each slice

Friday, 10 September 2010

Irene's Meat Pies

I don't need to explain meat pies to any Nigerian readers. For non-Nigerian readers, meat pies are a snack food similar to Jamaican Patties (but I think all Nigerians would agree that meat pies are better ;p). We had them during our lunch breaks at school, bought them from Mr. Biggs (a Nigerian fast food joint), they form an integral part of any good 'small chops' plate - in fact meat pies are to Nigerians what cold water is to garri. Hmmm, okay, for a non- Nigerian metaphor ... okay, got one, meat pies are to Nigerians what a tea bag is to tea - absolutely essential! Good comparison huh ;p

Despite being so 'essential', I might have made them once in home economics class at school but never since. I got my meat pie fixes from parties and Chicken Republic on my yearly visits to Nigeria and from my friend Irene in between. Irene makes great meat pies (not often enough by any means) but enough that I never felt the need to learn how to make them myself. In fact, she gave me this recipe a long while ago, after she first made them for us, but I never felt the need to use it till now. 'Why?' I hear you ask. Because friends, my 'friend' Irene decided to move back to Nigeria! Did she stop to think of the consequences this would have on her meat pie loving friends??? Nope! Luckily, I stepped up, tried Irene's recipe and realised that in lieu of her actually being here to make them, she had left the next best thing; a great recipe. So without further ado, here it is!

I'd never made pastry before but following Irene's instructions, it was easy peasy.

Makes approximately 18 pies

Ingredients

Pastry
500g plain flour
5 tablespoons of cold butter
1 level teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon nutmeg
Warm water

Filling
250g beef mince
1 onion, finely cubed
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 large potatoes (not baking potatoes), peeled and finely cubed
1 carrot, peeled and finely cubed
Handful of peas and sweetcorn
Seasoning (thyme, black pepper, salt)

Assembly
Flour
One egg, beaten with a dash of milk

Pastry
1 - Measure the flour into a clean, dry bowl. Add the salt and nutmeg and stir together
2 - Break off the 5 tablespoons of butter (large spoon fulls) and add to the flour
3 - With your hands, rub the butter into the flour piece by piece until it all disappears and the flour is crumbly. Add one more tablespoon of butter if necessary. The flour should be crumbly but light. This process should take you at least 10 minutes. Any quicker and you're being too heavy handed.  As you rub the butter into the flour, lift it and let it fall back into the bowl, this is to allow air into it.
4 - Add water to the mix, tablespoons at a time kneading it with your hands until the dough bonds together completely leaving the bowl clean. You don't want the pastry too dry so it is crumbly; you need to be able to roll it out.
5 - Wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
 Meat pies are all about the pastry, practice makes perfect

Preheat oven to 180ÂșC

Filling
1 - In a pan or wok, heat up 4 tablespoons of oil, and on low heat, add the onions and garlic.
2 - When browned, add the mince and fry for a couple of minutes till mince is cooked.
3 - Add a cup of water and the rest of the vegetables and leave to simmer for a few minutes then add seasoning to taste. Season however you want; add chillies if you want it spicy.
4 - Leave to cook on low heat until all the water is absorbed and the potatoes and carrots are cooked and tender. Turn off and allow to cool.

Assembly
1 - Clean and dry a counter surface and sprinkle with flour.
2 - I roll all the pastry out in one go but you can do it in two lots if your surface isn't big enough. Dust your rolling pin with flour and roll out your pastry. Not too thin.
3 - Cut using a cutter - I use a large mug to get relatively small pies. If you want larger pies, use something larger to cut. I make circles over all of the rolled out dough and then gather the in between pieces into a ball ready to roll out for the next batch.
4 - Fill (but don't over fill) your pastry on one side with mix. Keep mix away from edges. Keeping a small bowl of water nearby and dipping one finger in, run your wet finger in a semi circle round the edge of your circle where you intend the ends of the meat pie to meet. This helps bond the dough when you fold the empty half of your pastry circle over the half with the filling.
5 - Using your fingers, press down on the ends and then using a fork, seal all the way round and pierce a couple of times in the middle to allow the heat to escape when baking.
6 - Repeat until all your pies are ready. Place pies on a baking tray and using a small brush, brush lightly with beaten egg and milk.

7 - Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

My Baking Adventures!

I have always loved baking and because I know my creations taste great, I have never been too fussed about how they look. My housemate (who is very into baked goods and their appearances) has actually laughed at my cakes a few times. This one time, at band camp it was a Victoria Sponge which had risen in the oven and then fallen as soon as I took it out so it was too thin to slice in two. 'No biggie', I thought, 'I'll just put the cream and strawberries on top in the manner of a tart'. And I was perfectly happy with this until my housemate came in, took one look at it, pointed with one hand and burst out laughing while trying to stifle his laughter with the other hand. Another time, I had made a layer cake but only had enough frosting to cover the top of it so the sides were frosting-less - he said it looked half naked! But it never bothered me ... until I started baking cupcakes. Because let's be honest, cupcakes are all about appearances! A layer cake will always taste better than a cupcake but what cupcakes have is the potential to look so amazing that you actually have a pang of regret when you bite into them. And now I'm very into appearances, not just of my cupcakes but all my cakes!

There are some really talented bakers around like Faithy The Baker and 4 Goodness Cake and they have inspired me to work on learning to frost cakes so that one day I too might make incredible cake creations just like theirs! But practice makes perfect so there is a lot of baking and frosting in my future before I'm even close. Starting with a cupcake decorating course at the make lounge in November - I can't wait! If anyone knows of any other good cake decorating or even baking courses in London, please do let me know! I might invest in a 'cake decorating for dummies' book after in order to continue learning and progressing. Again, if anybody can recommend any good BEGINNERS cake decorating books, then please let me know.

I'm sure it's not coincidence that I'm trying to improve my craft around the same time that I have realised that I would like to take this baking thing more seriously and start baking for parties and events from home. I had a taste of mass baking the last couple of weekends. I made a huge, rather rude cake for a friend's Hen Party a couple of weekends ago despite much initial protest on my part that I had never made a willy cake and wouldn't even know where to start. After much discussion with my cousin (who begged, pleaded and cajoled me into making the cake), I decided to make a vanilla sponge cake with a strawberry cream filling and vanilla buttercream icing using the recipe for the vanilla cupcakes I blogged about here. And then for the piece de resistance, we bought a willy mould into which I poured melted chocolate and voila – an 8 inch chocolate willy! Due to the fact that I’d like my blog to have a U rating, I’m not going to post pictures but email me if you’d like to see one!

My baking the following weekend was more family friendly – 60 cupcakes; half of them vanilla with vanilla buttercream frosting (as per my previous post) and half red velvet with cream cheese frosting (which I’ll blog about in the future). Despite only being able to bake 12 at a time, I really enjoyed the process and it seemed everyone really enjoyed the results!


So if you’re in London and you need some cupcakes, a cake, anything baked really, for an event or party, let me know!

In other news, Nigella has a new book out; Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home which has been promptly added to my Amazon wish list! Bring on Christmas or Amazon might send me an angry email telling me to stop adding books to my wish list unless I start buying books from it!
Have an amazing weekend and week people!