Easter 2017

I haven’t been posting for long time on here or my FB page, but I just had a busy baking week and I thought I would sit down and record what was going on.

We moved the house last July to an old bungalow which belonged to my father-in-law from our house in Belfast which we lived about 7 years.  The house is in the country, about 30 minutes drive from Belfast. This is where my husband grown up and where our boys’ Grandad had lived.

Every Easter, ever since my boys are big enough to run around and developed the love for chocolate, we came to this ‘Grandad’s house’ for Easter. Our garden in Belfast was small and Grandad’s garden was bigger (and likely to have more rabbits living nearby), so we would bring a basket each for boys to collect eggs, hot cross buns and a simnel cake to share. Grandad would come out to the garden even if it was bit chilly and stand at the corner of his house to watch boys run around his garden looking for chocolate eggs.

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This year, we are living here. No Grandad now but we did the same as before, with same cake and same buns.

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Simnel cake is a strange one. It is apparently a traditional cake for Easter, but I think it actually became known about 5 years ago or so. I don’t know if this cake was once popular and forgotten OR it was only baked in certain part of UK and became known widely recently. But we like rich fruit cake and burnt marzipan, so it became our Easter tradition.

For this cake, I don’t actually follow certain recipe. I make a Christmas cake dough (any rich fruit cake recipe will do), just add marzipan in the middle (put a half of cake mix in the tin, add a layer of thin marzipan, topped with rest of cake dough), bake as you’ll do for Christmas cake and decorate the top with more marzipan and toast the top. (I just put the whole cake under a grill, but if you have a burner, it will work well. )

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Our favourite for Easter time is this hot cross buns. It’s a sweet raisin bread, with bit of cinamon. You can see the recipe of this bun at my old post. Hot cross bun

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A blue egg in the picture was a wee present from my husband. It had a few champagne truffles inside of a hand-pained wooden egg. A real treat for me. x

A few more days of Easter holiday left. Boys are running around in the Grandad’s garden. I wonder if I should make another batch of hot cross bun before the school starts.

Classsic ‘Gateau au Chocolat’ with Rum Raisin Ice Cream

I made this cake in winter, and it was sitting on my draft for some time. It is already May, but it is such a wet and cold day today in Belfast, I might as well post this now.

Gâteau au chocolat simply means chocolate cake, probably any chocolate cake. However, somehow in Japan, when you say ‘Gato Shokora (Gateau au Chocolat)’, it means a dark rich simple chocolate cake, usually with crack or dent on top covered with powder sugar, served with whipped cream.

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It is very chocolaty and rich but not heavy. Quite grown-up sort of cake.

Gateau au Chocolat

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 2hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

dark chocolate…..120g
butter……………….60g
plain flour………….20g
cocoa………………30g
egg york…………..3
caster sugar…….50g
whipping cream…50cc
egg white…………3
cater sugar (for meringue)…50g
icing sugar…. some
1.Chop chocolate into small chunks, and put it in a clean bowl with butter. Melt using double boiler (with water about 50C), or microwave. Do not over heat.
2. Mix cocoa powder and plain flour, sift them together, make sure there is no rumps.
3. Line 18cm round tin with non stick baking paper, and heat oven to 170C
4. Add egg york to melted chocolate&butter (1).
5. Mix 50g of caster sugar, half at time, mixing well after each half.
6. Add whipping cream, and mix till all combined.
7. Make meringue using egg white and sugar (50g).
8. Add small bit of meringue to 6.
9. Then add flour and cocoa mix (2), mix with spatula.
10. Add the rest of meringue and mix with spatula.
11. Put the mixture into the tin, bake in a oven 165C, for 40 minutes or so, till a skewer comes out clean in the middle.  .
12. Remove side lining paper while warm, and leave it to cool.
13. Top with sifted icing sugar, and serve with cream or ice cream.

Gateau au Chocola is often served with whipped cream, as the cake can be crumbly and rich without it.

But I decided to make it a bit special & grown up by serving it with rum raisin ice cream.

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Original recipe for rum raisin ice cream is from Saveur.com 

I made the quantity half of original recipe. It looked like this amount was good for ice cream maker I used. And it was plenty for me and my husband.

I have to say, this was the nicest rum raisin ice cream I had for ages. It is worth a try.

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It is a May bank holiday weekend in the UK. Yay!
Happy Fiesta Friday!

Battenberg Checker Board Cake

I need to post about this cake, with my deepest regret, which failed to meet my expectation.

Oh dear, I probably shouldn’t post about this one, but I feel that I need to be honest with my mistake here. In the end, this is a place to share idea and tips, as well as cataloguing my baking.

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This cake was an order from a friend of mine, a birthday cake for a lady in her 70s.
I was told that birthday lady doesn’t like too much of sweet cake, but she’d take a slice of cake/loaf with her tea.
So, my idea was to make a classic battenberg cake, but with a round checker board style, decorated with vintage design.

The idea was good, I’d thought, because I made battenberg before, and it was lovely, and checker-board surprise will be good as a birthday cake.

Ah…. that’s where my success was ended.
Battenberg I made before was a recipe of Mary Berry, a British home cook queen,  and I found her recipe reliable.  The her coffee and walnuts battenberg is very good, and I altered her recipe to make normal pink battenberg before.

But this time, I needed to make round checkerboard, and I found this recipe. It’s lovely rose and almond batternberg, but I had a few problems.
Problem 1. the recipe’s oven temperature might be too low for my oven. My first batch sank in the middle while baking.
Problem 2. the cake mix of this recipe is too dry. Little less flour made more sense.  I saw some people omitting almond powder to make it less dry on its review, but almond is the key flavour here.

I should have used round checkerboard recipe as a guide, and calculate quantity and used Mary Berry’s recipe for cake base.
But when I realised it, it was too late.  So, I decorated the cake with my sunken heart, as pretty as it could be with vintage decorations.
I  apologised to my friend for dryness of the crumbs, and gave it to her as a present.

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Vintage style decoration with a touch of Spring.

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2014-04-20 15.06.33 (1) (640x538) A photo of inside the cake my friend send me. It seemed that the cake was well received but a bit crumbly and difficult to cut. If I was to do another one of those, I’d use another recipe for cake base, and I’d reduce its colour to softer pink.

I kept my left over sunken rose sponge in freezer, when I defrosted it to eat the other day, it was more moist. Strange. Freezing made my dry sponge more moist. Learnt new thing again.

(April 2014)

Simnel Cake

Easter came and we enjoyed the Spring holiday with kids. Boys had a great fun looking for eggs at Grandad’s garden. (Yes, Easter bunny came. )

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For Easter, I’ve been making this traditional Simnel cake for some years now.

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It’s a fruits cake like Chirstmas cake, but with marzipan in the middle  and on the top.

P1070175 (640x481)It’s very old fashion cake but we like it.

The top of Simnel cake is always decorated with 11 marzipan ball, representing the twelve apostles, minus Judas, apparently. I like the classic simple look and flavour of toasted marzipan, so I always decorate in this traditional manner.

(But this year, I burned the top… oh dear… I ate burned marzipan balls and put lightly toasted new ones on top. )

The recipe below is altered and adjusted to suit me from Mary Barry’s Simnel Cake from Red Magazine website. See original recipe on this link.
Or you can simply use your favourite fruit cake recipe and add a disc of marzipan in the middle before baking, and decorate top with more marzipan.

Simnel Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 2hr
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

(make 1 x 15cm tin. double the amount for 18cm tin)

butter….85g
light moscavado sugar….85g
eggs…….1 1/2
self-raising flour……85g

sultanas…..80g
currants……45g
glacé cherries, quartered…..45g
lemon zest ……. 1/2 lemon
ground mixed spice ….. 1/2 tsp

The filling and decoration:
natural colour marzipan…..1 pack (500g)
apricot jam…2 tbsp

1. Roll out one-third of the marzipan. Using the base of the cake tin as a guide, cut out a circle slightly smaller than your cake tin.
2. Line the bottom and side with greaseproof paper, preheat oven 150C.
3. Cream butter and sugar, then add egg little by little.
4. Once combined, add flour, spice, and fruits.
5. Spoon half of the cake mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Top with the disc of marzipan from step 1.
4. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and level the surface.
5. Bake in a preheated oven at 150°C for 1 hours- 80min or so. (or two and a quarter hours for 18cm cake)or until golden brown and firm to the touch. (You cannot use skewer test, as hot marzipan stick to the skewer, it is difficult to tell if it is cooked or not. )Cover the top of the cake with greaseproof paper if it is browning too quickly.
6.Once cooked, leave to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin, and leave to cool completely.
7. Warm the jam and use to brush the top of the cake.
8. To decorate the cake, roll out half of the remaining almond paste and use the tin to cut out an 15 centimetre round. Put on top of the jam. Make 11 even-sized balls with marzipan and place them on top. Use jam to stick them if you need.
9. Place under a hot grill for one to two minutes, until the balls are golden. (Don’t leave them alone under the grill! it burns quickly. You shouldn’t do this bit while you cook Easter breakfast in the same time. I learnt…)

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Traditional Easter tea treats
Simnel cake + Hot cross buns.

(April 2014)

Batternberg Cake

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Oh so classic.

My wee son saw this on a recipe book and asked me to make one, so I made one to take with us to my father-in-law. (June 2013)

The recipe uses only apricot jam to stick cake parts and marzipan, but I had left over butter icing, so I  mixed jam and butter icing.

My husband likes marzipan, but I wasn’t a fan at first. It’s not what I grew up with and it tastes too sweet sometimes. I used shop bought marzipan, but I choose the best one I can get at the shop, meaning the one with highest almond content. Good quality marzipan tastes more like almond and I like the flavour of it now. I guess I should attempt to make marzipan myself sometime.

(June 2013)