Monday, 25 September 2017

No More Soggy Bottom Pies! Part 1: Blind Baked Bottom


It's apple harvesting season! Right up into October, people will be venturing outside to choose the nicest apples of their trees, or just going to the shop to reap the fruits of somebody else's labour, for cooking, making into jam, or simply eating out of hand.

But one of the best fates I believe an apple can have is ending up in a nice apple pie, made with delicious buttery pastry! There's nothing better than rolling out the pastry, loving chopping up the apples and sugaring them up, popping it into the oven, and smelling the delicious, cinnamony goodness waft around the house as it bakes... you open the oven, take out the pie, cut a lovely slice out and--

The bottom is a soggy, mushy, mess. It breaks your heart.

However! This doesn't have to be your pie! There are a few ways to avoid a soggy bottom, and over the next few days, I'll be sharing the benefit of my knowledge with you, starting right now with my most recent adventure: a blind baked bottom crust.

Simple bake the bottom crust separately before assembly, and you'll have gorgeous, crispy crust all the way through!

Pros of Blind Baked Bottom: no soggy bottom, repeatable every time, bottom can be baked in advance and frozen for another time

Cons of Blind Baked Bottom: a little more time consuming, a little fiddly, and you run the risk of an undercooked filling.

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

DIFFICULTY
Requires experience with baking shortcrust pastry

TIME
About 2 hours

RECIPE RATING
Intermediate

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

INGREDIMENTS
Makes one 9 inch (22 centimetre) round pie

About 1 pound (455 grammes) shortcrust pastry, premade or shop-bought
1½ pounds (680 grammes) of Granny Smith or Bramley apples, peeled and halved
4 ounces (115 grammes) light brown sugar
Zest of a lemon
Juice of half a lemon
4 tablespoons (60 millilitres) cornflour
1 ounce (30 grammes) butter, soft
2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon (1 millilitre) ground cloves
¼ teaspoon (1 millilitre) grated nutmeg
Eggwash, for assembly, or use flour and milk
Demerara (Turbinado) sugar, for assembly



~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

CONTAINS
Gluten if using shop-bought pastry, eggs, dairy, refined sugar, pectin from apples

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

    METHOD

    First, make the bottom crust
    • Take roughly two-thirds of the pastry and roll out on a floured surface to quarter of an inch (5 millimetres) in thickness. 
    • Using the rolling pin to support the dough, lift it up and drape into a 9 inch (22 centimetre) pie dish, pressing down gently into the dish. Trim the excess, and then chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
    • After chilling, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F, Gas Mk.4). Take the pie dough out of the oven, line tightly with tin foil, fill with a layer of dried beans or rice, and blind bake on the centre shelf for about 20 to 25 minutes. You want it cooked all the way through and dry to the touch, but not browned.
    • Once cooked, allow to cool slightly, but leave the oven on for the next step.

    Then, finish off the pie
    • Slice the peeled, halved, and cored apples into quarter inch (5 millimetre) slices, and mix in a mixing bowl with the rest of the filling ingredients.
    • Roll the remaining dough out to the same thickness as the base to make the lid. If you want to make a decorative lid, cut the pastry as you need to.
    • Brush the baked crust liberally with eggwash, or you can mix some flour into a slurry with milk or water and use that instead, add in the filling, and drape over the lid.
    • Firmly press the lid onto the edge of the base crust, then trim off the excess. If your lid is whole and uncut, cut at least one slash in the top to allow for steam. Eggwash the top, or brush with milk, and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.
    • Return to the centre shelf of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the crust is a beautiful golden brown.
    • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving hot, or allow to cool completely for serving cold.

    STORAGE

    These will keep in an airtight container for up to three days in the fridge.

    Thursday, 21 September 2017

    Flapjack Bars with Yoghurt Topping (Wheat- and Egg Free)


    There are very few things in the world of bakery that scream "I am an Englishman!" as much as an oaty flapjack. As far back as the 16th century, the word flapjack has been used in the English language to refer to a variety of different baked things: pancakes, tarts, biscuits, and more. Nowadays, though, it conjures up an image of a buttery, golden syrupy, oaty traybake.

    Here in Ireland, flapjacks can be bought individually as breakfast bars, and often they have a yoghurty topping. I have travailed for many days to bring to you the perfect recipe for a yoghurty topping.

    Only after I failed in the attempt of developing the recipe. Four. Times. I eventually got it, though. The flapjack was harder than the icing, it has to be said.

    The yoghurty topping requires a little experience of sugar boiling, but it's nothing too complex. If sugar boiling is a no-go for you, you can use any other icing you want, or leave it out altogether.

    If you have a flapjack recipe you prefer, feel free to use it! I used this flapjack recipe more as a vehicle and an excuse to demonstrate the yoghurty topping, if I'm going to be completely honest.

    ~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

    DIFFICULTY
    Requires experience with sugar boiling stages

    TIME
    Over 6 hours

    RECIPE RATING
    Intermediate

    ~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

    INGREDIMENTS
    Makes one 8 inch (20 centimetre) tray of flapjacks

    For the flapjacks

    12 ounces (340 grammes) porridge oats
    6 ounces (170 grammes) butter, salted or unsalted
    4½ ounces (130 grammes) soft brown sugar
    1½ ounces (40 grammes) golden syrup
    1 fluid ounce (30 millilitres) water
    Cinnamon, to taste
    Vanilla essence, to taste

    For the icing,

    8 ounces (225 grammes) caster sugar
    4 ounces (115 grammes) Greek yoghurt
    4 ounces (115 grammes) unsalted butter
    1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) vanilla essence



    ~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

    FREE FROM
    Eggs, nuts, wheat

    CONTAINS
    Oats, dairy, refined sugar

    ~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

    METHOD

    First, make the flapjacks.
    • Line an 8 inch (20 centimetre) square tin with non-stick baking paper. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F, Gas Mk.2).
    • Take a quarter of the oats and grind to a flour in a blender or food processor. If you don't have heavy machinery, you can replace a quarter of the flour with instant oat cereal, like Ready Brek.
    • In a saucepan, melt the butter, sugar, syrup, and water together and bring to the boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and add in the porridge oats and the ground oats. Add in the cinnamon and vanilla essence to your liking.
    • Spread the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the centre shelf for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cooled enough to handle.

    Then, make the icing. 
    • Cook sugar, yoghurt, and half of the butter over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the butter has melted. Simmer to soft ball stage, about 118 to 120°C (235 to 240°F), stirring all the time.
    • Remove from heat and allow to stop bubbling, then begin to beat the icing: every time is thickens, add a quarter of the butter. 
    • Once the butter is completely beaten in and the icing has thickened, pour as much as you'd like over the still warm flapjacks. If you have icing leftover, store it in the fridge for another project.
    • Put the flapjacks in the fridge for about 4 hours to set the icing. Allow to come up to room temperature after the icing has set to cut easily. Cut into as many pieces as you'd like.

    STORAGE
    These will keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks. If you live in a warm region, keep them in the fridge to stop the icing from melting.

    Monday, 18 September 2017

    Yayeee! I'm Back, and Here to Introduce a New Collaborator....

    Hello again, all!

    I feel refreshed after my break, and as you can see things look a bit different around here! ...

    ... but not in the way I had planned.

    Over the past four weeks, I've tried out several free web designing platforms, and I was also researching how to get a domain name and hosting. However, it's a lot more complicated than I thought. Designing websites is fiddly, and I'm not a very 2D visual person when it comes to inventing web layouts.

    Also, getting domain names and hosting is a) much less straightforward than I had imagined, and b) much more pricey than I had imagined. I think it will be a while until we see a brand new web design and a new URL. Although, I do have a good friend who is a trained IT programmer and web designer. I think I may be able to seek her help, with the promise of cake and payment.

    She is not the collaborator I want to introduce, however: I want to introduce you to Sweetie Pie's newest companion, Bibbit!




    I felt that if Sweetie Pie were to host some upcoming videos (hint, hint) she would need a little companion. And also in the general running of the blog. From much sketch booking, I came up with Bibbit, a little kawaii froggo.


    Bibbit is green with a yellow tummy, rosy cheeks, and enjoys sweets and cakes. He is also a handy guide on how difficult recipes are:


    He has yet to be fully coloured and finished, but he is no less cute as a black and white sketch! I'm really pleased with how he turned out, and am very happy to introduce you all to him.

    This week, I'll be uploading my first recipe since my sister's birthday at the beginning of August. I'm happy to be back, but I was also happy to have a break. 

    Saturday, 5 August 2017

    3D Teddy Bear Cake! Part III: Decoration

    And now for the final home stretch! If you've completed parts one and two, you're ready for part three. By the end of this step, your cake should look something like this:


    Now, I've decorated my teddy bear cake to look like a panda, but you could do whatever kind of bear you like. You could make up some more chocolate icing and make him a simple teddy bear, or you could go completely mental with decorations. I've kept it nice and simple.

    You will need:

    • 10 ounces (300 grammes) white buttercream icing
    • 10 ounces (300 grammes) chocolate buttercream icing, dyed black
    • About 2 ounces (55 grammes) fondant icing
    • Black and green food colouring
    • A wafer stick
    • A grass piping nozzle, or a clean toothbrush
    • Any other decorations you'd like

    What to do with them:
    Spread or pipe the white and black icing onto the bear to mimic the colouring of a panda. I spread mine on then textured it with a toothbrush once it had set a little, but you can also use a grass nozzle to pipe on individual tufts of fur. That takes far too long for me, and gives me a cramp in my hand, so I use go low-tech.

    If you're going the spreading and texturing route, use a new clean toothbrush with soft bristles. Also, it really helps if you have an offset palette knife to get into all the corners.


    Dye a small amount of fondant green to make some leaves, and then dye a larger amount black to make his eye patches (rolled and cut out), nose (moulded with my fingertips) and mouth (made out of a thin fondant rope). Place the eye patches, nose, and mouth on the icing while it's still a little wet, then add in the eyes, which are made out of small discs of white and black fondant.


    Place the wafer stick in place, and then decorate it with the leaves. If you like, you could make fondant bows, or little bugs or things to add extra interest. If you want to skip on the fondant altogether, you can just pipe on the appropriately coloured buttercream to make the facial features and leaves.

    As you can see from the three parts of this tutorial, this is a long-winded and ambitious project. The results are cool, however I'll be returning to my traditional gateaux after this, and probably won't do another novelty cake for a while....

    Friday, 4 August 2017

    3D Teddy Bear Cake! Part II: Assembly

    Following on from part one, where you made the cakes and the icing, it's time to move onto part two here we assemble the cakes, so you have something that looks like this by the end!


    So, if you completed part one fully, you should now have roughly a butt-tonne of icing, two 7 inch (16 centimetre) bowl shaped cakes, one 4 inch (10 centimetre) tall round cake, and one 8 inch (20 centimetre) sandwich cake. With that, let's begin!

    I thought instead of taking photos of the whole process, which sometimes can be hard to understand, I would draw a series of brightly colour coordinated diagrams in Photoshop, which took me two whole hours. To see each picture expanded, click on it.

    Here are the diagrams for the Head and Body. Please click 
    on the pictures to expand them.



    Here is the diagram for the overall assembly.
    Please click on the picture to expand it.


    Here is how to assemble the overall teddy cake. Please
    click on the picture to expand.


    IMPORTANT
    If making this cake for children, do not use cocktail sticks! Use pieces of dry spaghetti to fix the cake together. I usually do that anyway, regardless of the age group, because if someone accidentally eats one it won't do them much harm.

    Now we've assembled the cake, it's time to decorate! Click here for Part III.

    Thursday, 3 August 2017

    3D Teddy Bear Cake! Part I: Designing, and Baking the Cakes

    For the first time since 2013, I had made a novelty 3D shaped cake! It's been a whole four years, but I present to you Novelty Cake № 2: Panda Bear!


    Being a bitter cynic, I generally don't like novelty cakes: I feel like they're cheap tricks in comparison to a perfectly crafted, technically challenging traditional gâteau. However, that doesn't mean that others don't like them, or appreciate them, or enjoy receiving them as gifts.


    For the past few years, I've been making the same kinds of cakes for my sister and this year I was motivated to do something completely different for her, and also to do another novelty cake for all my lovely readers! (Seeing as the Dinnersaurus is the most read post on my blog.)


    This one was a serious challenge, and took pretty much two days to make it from scratch from cake mixture to finished cake model. And in this two part post, I'll explain the process from start to finish how I did it!

    Research
    Once I decided to do the 3D cake, I researched how people had already made it. So, I looked at many videos online, from this sped up version using multiple 6 inch (16 centimetre) cakes which are then trimmed and shaped, Ann Reardon's version using different shapes of cake on How To Cook That, and I even watched a German video from Nicoles Zuckerwerk

    Most 3D teddy recipes use cake truffles to make the arms, legs, ears, and tail, but I didn't want to do that because I thought it would be too sickly. I decided that I would make as many aspects of the bear out of cake, and only resort to fondant if absolutely necessary.

    I also researched what teddy bears look like when sitting down by turning to my very helpful model: Val. He was bought for me by my companion for Valentine's Day, and he's a lovely. My companion helped me visualise some aspects of the bear model, but mostly it's pretty straightforward.



    Tin Shapes and Sizes
    Instead of making a load of layers of round cake and cutting to size, thus wasting a lot of cake, I thought about how I could make cakes that are as close to the actual bear component shapes as possible. I originally contemplated getting a terracotta pot that would make a conical cake, but thought against it once I realised how much preparation a terracotta pot needs to be used for baking.

    I decided to use traditional round cakes, and cakes cooked in a small Pyrex baking dish. I used one tall 4 inch (10 centimetre)  round tin, a 7x2 inch (16x5 centimetre) Pyrex pudding dish, and an 8 inch (20 centimetre) round sandwich tin.

    Baking the Cakes
    The issue with novelty cakes is that they need a good, firm, dry cake that's easily cut and moulded. This means the cake keeps its shape, but it's not—in my opinion—the nicest cake to eat. If you like, throughout assembly you can sprinkle the cakes with a nice simple syrup to keep them moist.

    Round 1
    In round one, I made a cake mixture by creaming together 4 ounces (115 grammes) soft butter and 3 ounces (85 grammes) caster sugar, until light and fluffy. In a small cup, I beat 4 egg yolks with 2 fluid ounces (60 millilitres) room temperature milk, and gradually beat it into the butter mixture in 4 increments, beating very well after each addition. Onto a sheet of baking paper, I sifted 7½ (210 grammes) ounces of white spelt flour, ½ ounce (15 grammes) of cocoa powder, and 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) of baking powder. In a separate bowl, I whipped the 4 egg whites with another 3 ounces (85 grammes) of caster sugar until it reached stiff peaks. I added half of this to the butter mixture, along with half of the dry ingredients. I mixed this through halfway, then added the remaining half of the whites and dry ingredients. I then finally folded it through carefully but thoroughly until there were no streaks of egg white or flour left.

    I divided this mixture between the 4 inch (10 centimetre) tin, and the 7 inch (16 centimetre) dish, making sure to fill each one no more than three-quarters full; the tin will need less mixture than the dish. I baked them in an oven preheated to 180°C (350°F, Gas Mk.3) for 25 to 30 minutes-ish, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake came out clean. I took the smaller cake out about 2 or 3 minutes earlier than the larger one.


    Round 2
    Once the cakes were cooked, I made the same amount of mixture again, but with half the amount of baking powder. I needed the first lot to have big domes, because they come in handy later. I divided the mixture once again, but this time equally between the Pyrex dish and the sandwich tin.

    I then allowed all the cakes to cool completely before assembly.

    Making the Icing
    Similarly with the icing, you need a good thick, rich icing that sets firm. This helps you with any trimming you might need to do, and helps keep the overall shape in place.

    To make the icing, I melted 1 pound (445 grammes) of plain chocolate, half a pound (225 grammes) of unsalted butter, and 4 fluid ounces (120 millilitres) of whole milk together. I allowed them to set to room temperature (about an hour), then beat in 1 pound (445 grammes) of icing sugar to make a rich, thick, decadent chocolate icing. If you find the icing begins to set in the bowl while you're working on the cake, just give it the odd whisk every now and again.

    Now we've made the cakes and the icing, it's time to assemble! Click here to see Part II of this tutorial, which includes fully colour coordinated diagrams!

    Monday, 31 July 2017

    Something Different: Doboš Torte (Wheat Free, with Dairy Free Option)

    Tetszik a tortát? Itt van egy Doboš torta!


    There ain't nothing like a good Central European cake: they tend to be decadent, elegant, and impressive, but made with good, simple, traditional baking ingredients. They also tend to feature a serious amount of eggs and butter. I love the proper old fashioned, somewhat imperial cakes like this, and in general am a big fan of German, Polish, and Central European baking.


    This cake is no different: invented by the Hungarian baker Jozef Dobos, this dessert was introduced to the Austro-Hungarian courts in 1885. I first saw a picture of this cake on Pinterest, which started me on a whimsical adventure through all the wonderful Hungarian and Romanian cakes there are to see.

    From my observation, many cakes from this region revolve around multiple layers of thin sponge cake, sandwiched with some sort of buttercream or pastry cream, and decorated with dark caramel accents and nuts. Doboš Torte is no different, being made from 5 layers of cake, sandwiched with chocolate, and decorated with caramel coated biscuits and flaked almonds and hazelnuts.


    This cake was a show stopper when it was first invented, and it is still today: the whole cake uses 10 eggs, that all need beating into sponges and foamy custards. Making it today takes a lot of beating with an electric mixer, so God knows how long it would have taken the Imperial bakers to beat all the eggs by hand back in the 19th century.

    Through research on Hungarian websites, with the help of Google Translate, I found the traditional buttercream recipe for this cake, that uses eggs and sugar as a base, like a French buttercream. However, for those of you that are nervous about raw eggs, these are beaten over steaming water until thick and creamy, so technically the eggs are cooked. If that doesn't ease your troubled mind, however, don't feed to small children, elderly people, or people with autoimmune issues.


    INGREDIMENTS
    For one very large cake that serves 16 people

    For 6 sponge layers

    • 6 medium eggs, separated
    • 6 ounces (170 grammes) caster sugar
    • 6 tablespoons (90 millilitres) sunflower oil
    • 6 tablespoons (90 millilitres) milk, or milk alternative
    • Icing sugar, for dusting
    For the chocolate buttercream,
    • 4 medium eggs*
    • 8 ounces (225 grammes) caster sugar
    • 8 ounces (225 grammes) dark chocolate, about 60%, most dark chocolates are dairy-free, but check the ingredients just to be sure
    • 12 ounces (340 grammes) unsalted butter, or margarine
    • 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) vanilla essence
    For caramel topping,
    • 3 ounces (85 grammes) caster sugar
    • 4 teaspoons (20 millilitres) cold water
    • 4 teaspoons (20 grammes) unsalted butter
    To assemble,
    • 16 hazelnuts
    • About 3 or 4 ounces (85 to 115 grammes) flaked almonds
    * If you're nervous about using semi-cooked eggs in your icing, use 8 fluid ounces (240 millilitres) of milk, or milk alternative, cooked into a custard with 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) of cornflour. This will make it a chocolate version of the icing used in my red velvet cake recipe.

    METHOD

    First, prepare the buttercream base.
    • In a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, beat together the eggs and caster sugar very well with an electric mixer until pale yellow, super fluffy, and tripled in volume. This can take up to 8 or 10 minutes, so be patient. Once light and fluffy, remove from the heat and beat for a further 2 minutes to set the texture.
    • In another large heatproof bowl, either over the same simmering pan or in the microwave, melt the chocolate.
    • Take a small spoonful of the whipped eggs and fold into the chocolate. It will seize and turn crumbly, but don't be alarmed: as you gradually fold in the whipped egg, it will turn back into a smooth, moussey mixture.
    • Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover with cling film and allow to set for about an hour.
    Next, prepare the sponges.
    • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F, Gas Mk.3), and line two flat baking trays that are at least 10 inch (25 centimetre) square. On the back side of the baking paper, draw around an 8 inch (20 centimetre) round tin: this will be your guide for making the sponges.
    • Not many people can fit 6 trays in their oven, so you have to make the mixture a bit at a time. If you prepare all the sponge mixture at once, but can only cook 2 sponges at a time, the remaining mixture in the bowl will deflate. As such, for each tray that will fit in your oven, use a sixth of your ingredients.
    • Prepare the mixture as you need according to this recipe, using a third of the ingredients listed. Divide the mixture between the two trays, putting the mixture into the middle of the circle guide. Smooth the batter out to the edges of the circle.
    • Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until evenly golden brown. Remove the paper from the trays, and cool the cakes upside down on a wire rack until the paper can peel off easily.
    • Put the liners back onto the trays, and continue the process until you have 6 cakes altogether. 
    • Cool all the cakes completely. If you don't have enough wire racks to cool all your cakes, cool 2 at a time, then stack on a plate. Just dust each cake generously with icing sugar to stop them from sticking to each other.
    Once the cakes are cooled, prepare the caramel biscuit layer.
    • Take the cake that's the most evenly shaped, and place it upside down on a sheet of non-stick paper. Butter the blade of a large kitchen knife very well.
    • In a pan, cook the sugar and water together, stirring constantly, over medium heat until it becomes a golden brown syrup. This can take up to 5 minutes.
    • Add in the butter and stir well. It'll steam and bubble up, but after a few seconds it'll calm down.
    • Working very quickly, pour the caramel over the cake's surface and even out. If some goes over the sides, it's okay.
    • Once smoothed, score the surface of the cake circle into 16 pieces, pressing down well with the knife. If it starts to stick, butter the blade again. Also, trim any caramel that has run off the sides.
    • Allow to cool completely before cutting cleanly into the individual wedges. Keep covered while finishing the cake so they don't go sticky.
    Now, make the butter cream and assemble the cake.


    • In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy and smooth. Add in the cooled chocolate custard mixture a spoon at a time, beating well after each addition.
    • On your serving plate, assemble the cake by layering all 5 remaining cakes with half of the chocolate icing in thin layers.
    • Use the remaining icing to coat the top and sides. Pat almonds into the side of the cake to decorate. You could also use finely chopped nuts of your choice to decorate the sides.
    • Even place the hazelnuts around the top edge of the cake. Prop the caramel biscuit wedges on the top, leaning against the hazelnuts.
    • Pipe a decoration in the middle to cover the tips of the caramel biscuits. If you have enough icing leftover, you can pipe a border; I didn't have enough to do so. Allow to set for about an hour before serving.
    This cake must be kept in the fridge, well wrapped so the caramel doesn't melt. Eat within 3 days of making, because of the egg in the icing.

    THIS TIME IN 2016: Chocolate Lime Cupcakes (Wheat Free)
    THIS TIME IN 2014: Lessons in Chocolate Dipping and Edible Anniversary Gifts
    THIS TIME IN 2013: Homemade Box of Chocolates = WIN
    There was no blog this time in 2015.

    Thursday, 27 July 2017

    Ice-Cream Month: Arctic Roll, a Retro Classic? (Wheat Free, with Dairy-Free Option)

    For my final Ice-Cream Month offering, I present to you my finest frozen achievement: Arctic Roll!


    I will admit I've been dying to share this one with you, because it was a big challenge. I've been waiting for the moment the calendar turned up the July 26th so I could make this for my companion's birthday and show it off on my blog.

    My companion says he remembers eating this as a boy and how much he enjoyed it, so I said I'd make him one for his birthday at his request. This birthday was full of DIY projects: I made him a die earring (which he's wearing), some cherry schnapps (which I'll probably make again at some point, and then blog about it), and this cake.

    Happy birthday, my lovely!

    I decided I'd research this one quite heavily: I watched a lot of videos, and read a lot of recipes online. I decided to turn to a trusted resource: I watched a Jamie Oliver video on YouTube, and the woman who is demonstrating makes it look fussy as Hell. In the video, she spreads the ice-cream directly onto the cake like you would do with whipped cream and makes a valiant attempt to wrap it up. It's a mess, and I thought I could do that better!

    Spoiler alert: I couldn't. My advice: do a  Rich Harris and ROLL THE ICE-CREAM INTO A LOG FIRST (but ignore the rest of the video: he makes it look far more difficult than it actually is). Don't be a hero and try and roll it up like you would do with whipped cream in a rolled cake; it's possible but it's messy.



    So the roll you see pictured here has had a few issues: it froze as an oval from the ice-cream being too soft, the jam mixed into the ice-cream a bit, and to add insult to injury I froze it upside down so the seam was on top.

    However, the family enjoyed it, and my companion loved it: they didn't seem to think there was a single thing wrong with it. Maybe I'm just my own harshest critic! But, even though mine turned out very nicely despite the faffing around, I've written the below recipe instructions to include the proper and less messy way to do it.


     So, here's what you'll need to make it.

    INGREDIMENTS
    For one cake that serves about 10 people

    • 3 eggs, separated
    • 3 ounces (85 grammes) caster sugar
    • 3 tablespoons (45 millilitres) sunflower oil
    • 3 tablespoons (45 millilitres) whole milk, or milk alternative
    • 3 ounces (85 grammes) white spelt flour, or gluten free flour mix
    • 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60 millilitres) seedless raspberry jam
    • 2 pints (1·140 litres) good quality vanilla ice-cream, preferably one with visible vanilla seeds, or dairy-free ice-cream
    • Icing sugar, for dusting

    METHOD
    • Take the ice-cream and let them sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes. You'll need to shape the ice-cream into a log before you wrap it. Don't make the same mistake I did and try and roll the swiss roll with soft ice-cream in it: it won't work.
    • Take a big piece of non-stick paper and mark out the short width of the cake tin you'll be using for the swiss roll cake: this will be the length of your ice-cream log. I used a  9x13 inch (22x33 centimetre) rectangular tin, which would have made my ice-cream log about 9 inches (22 centimetres) long. Turn it upside down so the pen is on the outside.
    • Place the ice cream in a pile at one end, then roll it up in the paper, leaving a little for holding onto while shaping. Use the paper to squish the ice-cream into a log shape as wide as your guidlines, making sure it's the same thickness all the way through the log. If the ice-cream is getting too soft, just pop it into the freezer for 10 minutes, then continue working on it.
    • Roll the ice-cream log up completely in the paper, then twist the ends. Wrap in cling film, and place in the freezer to freeze solid, about an hour.
    • Line the bottom of the cake tin you're using with non-stick baking paper. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F, Gas Mk.4), with the rack in the centre.
    • Prepare the cake to these instructions, using the ingredients listed above. Bake for 17 or 18 minutes, until golden on the surface and springy to the touch. Any longer, and the cake will be too dry to roll; any less, and it will squish when you roll it.
    • Using another piece of non-stick paper. Trim and roll up in the paper as directed and allow to cool completely. Carefully unwrap and spread the surface with the jam.
    • Take the ice-cream log out of the freezer and let it sit for about 5 minutes to soften ever so slighyly. Place the ice-cream log at one end of the cake, and roll up. Twist the ends of the paper like a sweet wrapper; discard the paper used to roll the log.
    • Freeze for a full hour at least before serving (make sure you freeze it seam side down, like I didn't), then allow to sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes before cutting and serving. The cake insulates the ice-cream, so it won't melt as quickly.
    There were no blogs on this day in 2013 nor 2016.

    Tuesday, 25 July 2017

    Ice-Cream Month: Proper Custard Ice-Cream, a Kitchen Experiment

    This one is admittedly quite experimental, but I want to share with you my no-churn real vanilla ice-cream adventures.


    No churn ice-cream made with condensed milk is very tasty, but it's got nothing on vanilla ice-cream made with a good custard. However, these kinds of custard ice-creams are almost impossible to make nicely without an ice-cream machine.

    I decided to do some serious research, and this brought me to Serious Eat's own experimentations with no churn ice-cream. In their article on how best to make traditional ice-cream without a machine, they came up with this method: essentially, you make the custard without the cream, freeze it into cubes, then use the cream to blend the ice cubes into an ice-cream with the food processor.


    It's a neat trick, but I wanted to try and get back to an even more basic method, without any machinery. I took inspiration from their recipe, and came up with something that's somewhere between a semifreddo and a traditional ice-cream.

    So, read below how I did this experiment. I think it turned out surprisingly well: it was a little bit icy, but that'll always happen with no-churn traditional ice-creams.

    INGREDIMENTS

    • 2 medium eggs
    • 4 ounces (115 grammes) sugar
    • ½ UK pint (285 millilitres) whole milk
    • ½ UK pint (285 millilitres) whipping cream
    • 1 tablespoon (15 millilitres) vanilla essence

    METHOD
    • In a bowl over a pan of simmering water, beat together the eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl until the sugar has dissolved and they have doubled in volume to make a pale, moussey mixture.
    • In a separate mixing bowl, whip the cream to firm peaks. Fold in the egg mixture, being very careful to maintain the airiness.
    • Gently fold in the milk to get a thin moussey mixture. Pour into a shallow glass or metal dish, and freeze in the coldest part of your freezer for 30 minutes.
    • After 30 minutes, take out of the freezer and beat vigorously with a balloon whisk to break up the frozen parts and mix them back into the unfrozen parts. Pop back into the freezer for another 30 minutes, and repeat the process 5 more times.
    • After the sixth and final agitation, transfer to a plastic container with a lid and freeze solid, for about 2 hours.
    • Before serving, allow it to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

    Monday, 24 July 2017

    Ice-Cream Month: Tiramisù Ice-Cream (Wheat Free)

    Ti piace il gelato? Hai un gelato tiramisico!

     

    Granted, this isn't actually proper gelato, but I love me some tiramisù! I've made a few tiramisù inspired desserts on this blog, mostly involving cheesecakes, because it's one of my favourite muses: the combination of cheesecake-like cream, sponge cake, coffee and chocolate is just right for me. It's a decadent creamy treat, with a kick.

    I first made tiramisù inspired ice-cream about four years ago for a Dutch friend, but it never made it to the blog because we ate it all. So, in honour of Ice-Cream Month, I thought I'd make it again.


    This one went a bit pear shaped because the cream didn't whip up right for me this time: I think my ingredients were too warm. It still tasted amazing, but didn't layer and swirl as well as I might have liked. As such, I will reiterate that it's imperative that your ingredients are all cold! That way you'll get lovely fluffsome ice-cream that'll stay super soft in the freezer.


    This also uses some yoghurt for sourness, and mixed in equal proportions with icing sugar it can replace some of the condensed milk in your recipe. Although, to maintain the silky texture, never replace more than half of the condensed milk.

    INGREDIMENTS
    Makes about 2 pints (about a litre) of ice-cream

    For the ice-cream base

    • 16 UK fluid ounces (455 millilitres) whipping cream
    • 10 UK fluid ounces (285 millilitres) condensed milk
    • 2 ounces (55 grammes) Greek yoghurt
    • 2 ounces (55 grammes) icing sugar
    • 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) instant espresso powder
    • 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) vanilla essence
    To assemble,
    • 1 medium egg, separated
    • 1 ounce (30 grammes) caster sugar
    • 1 ounce (30 grammes) white spelt flour, sifted
    • 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) sunflower oil
    • Chocolate syrup, for assembly
    • Optional: white rum, for sprinkling
    Instead of making sponge cakes, you can just use shop-bought trifle sponges. I make my own because I can't buy wheat-free trifle sponges in Ireland.

    METHOD

    First, make the sponge cakes.
    • Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, Gas Mk.7), and line a flat tray with non-stick baking paper.
    • In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add in the sugar while beating until you have a glossy meringue that holds stiff peaks.
    • Beat in the yolk and oil, then switch to a metal spoon to fold in the flour. Be sure to fold it in completely.
    • Spoon little blobs of cake mixture onto the baking paper, tap the tray on the work surface a few times, and then bake on the centre shelf of the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes. The cakes will be done when they are an even golden brown, and springy to the touch.
    • Allow to cool completely before assembling the ice-cream. If you like, you can sprinkle them gently with some white rum, but this is completely optional.

    Then, make the ice-cream base.
    • In a measuring jug big enough to hold a UK pint (570 millilitres), mix together the Greek yoghurt and icing sugar until it becomes flowing and smooth. Top up the yoghurt mixture up to 12 UK fluid ounces (340 millilitres) with condensed milk. You might have some condensed milk leftover, so use that for another project.
    • In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream to soft peaks. Fold in the yoghurt and condensed milk mixture and the vanilla essence, then continue to beat until it hold medium peaks.
    • Divide the mixture in two: leave one part plain, and into the other part fold the espresso powder.
    Now, assemble the masterpiece.
    • In a two-pint (1 litre) pudding basin, layer the ice-cream bases with crumbled cakes and chocolate syrup as you want. Once layered, swirl with a knife to marble the layers, and then decorate the top with more crumbled cake and chocolate syrup.
    • Cover with the lid or some cling film and freeze for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

    Sunday, 23 July 2017

    Essential Ingredient: Glucose Syrup

    My master's thesis has been handed in, woohoo! Now, back to the kitchen to make an absolute sugar craft staple: glucose syrup.


    Glucose syrup is a handy ingredient to prevent sugar from crystalising in recipes like caramel or chewy sweets, and it's also a good substitute for sugar in frozen desserts. In the United States, corn syrup occupies this role, and often here in Ireland people reach for golden syrup in its place. Because, oddly enough, glucose syrup is very difficult to gets your hands on.

    I remember a time when you could get it from the pharmacy, and in small tubes from the baking section of the supermarket. But now, you can only get it online. Luckily, it's very easy to make.

    In a large, heavy based saucepan, cook a pound (455 grammes) of sugar with 4 fluid ounces (120 millilitres) of water and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Cook on low, stirring only until to sugar dissolves. Up the heat to medium low, and cook slowly without stirring until it reaches 114 °C (237 °F). This could take about 30 minutes or more. If there are any grains of sugar on the sides of the pan, wash them away with a pastry brush dipped in hot water.


    Turn off the flame, and allow to cool down completely without being moved, bumped, or disturbed. Once completely cool, transfer to a clean, sterile jar without scraping the sides of the saucepan; you can scrape the bottom. Scraping the sides would reintroduce sugar crystals and be the ruin of your syrup.

    Glucose syrup will keep for up to a month in a cupboard, but after that it could start to crystalise.

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