Saturday, 28 December 2013

Mary Berry's Tunis Cake

I hope everyone’s had a lovely Christmas break. This is the first year that I’ve been working right up until the 25th so I’ve been loving spending time with my family and eating my own body weight in food. This recipe is off the Christmas Bake-Off special, and was specially requested by my auntie for when she came to visit. I have to admit that I thought it was going to be quite plain, and a tad heavy because of the ground almonds, but it’s actually delicious and perfectly light. Needless to say it’s an excellent pudding choice following a mammoth roast dinner.

Oh and another plus point: it’s ridiculously easy to make.

225g butter
225g caster sugar
225 self-raising flour
70g ground almonds
4 large eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
300ml double cream
400g plain chocolate (40-50%)

Preheat the oven to 180⁰C (160⁰C fan) and line a 20cm round tin, making sure the edges come way above the top of the tin. This is because you pour the ganache straight onto the top of the cake whilst it’s still in the tin.

Add the butter, caster sugar, flour, ground almonds, eggs and lemon zest to a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined.

Spoon the mixture into the tin, it should be at a dropping consistency, and use a spatula to level it out. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until cooked all the way through and springy to the touch. I turned it around at 45 minutes and put some brown paper on top to prevent it from burning. Cool the cake in the tin.

When the cake has completely cooled make the ganache. Gently heat the double cream in a saucepan until steaming, but not boiling.

Take the cream off of the heat and add the chocolate, broken into pieces, to the cream. Use a spatula to stir the chocolate until it’s completely melted into the cream, and reaches a dark, shiny consistency. Don’t be tempted to put the saucepan back on the heat to melt the chocolate, because as The Mary Berry says herself: chocolate melts in a child pocket.

When the ganache has cooled slightly but isn’t setting, pour evenly over the top of the cake which should still be in the tin, and leave to set.

Now Mary decorated her Tunis cake with marzipan leaves, but I have to admit that I am a Christmas Heathen, and hate marzipan, possibly slightly more than I hate Marmite. Because of this I was a little lazy and used ready-made decorations, but I think these holly leaf buttons are really sweet.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies

Christmas to me is all about coming home to a warm house with the smell of freshly baked goodies. To say that my mum and I go a little mental baking-wise over the festive season is an understatement. Sadly, this is the first Christmas that I’ve been too busy to bake everything that I want! Cookies are one of the easiest things to make though, so if you’re stretched for time like me, bung these in the oven and bask in the Christmassy smell.

This is a Nigella recipe from her book Nigella Christmas. I know she’s been getting a lot of bad press at the moment but I really don’t give a damn, she’s still a domestic goddess to me. I did omit the pecans however, because no one really likes nuts in their cookies, do they?!

150g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
75g rolled oats
125g soft butter
75g dark brown sugar
100g caster sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla extract
75g dried cranberries
50g pecans, roughly chopped (optional…)
150g white chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat the oven to 180⁰C and line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment.

Measure the flour, baking powder, salt and rolled oats into a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.

Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

Fold in the flour mixture.

Stir in the cranberries and white chocolate. The original recipe says to use chocolate chips but personally I prefer roughly chopped chunks in my cookies.

Spoon walnuts sized balls onto the prepared baking trays, leaving plenty of room for spreading, and lightly squish the tops with a fork.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Leave them to harden on the trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Serve on a ridiculous Christmas plate which you only get to use once a year.