Tuesday, 30 May 2017

No bake cracker cream cake

Another super easy no bake cake - it's sweet and delicate like a cloud, but not too sweet thanks to salted crackers. Preparation is quite quick and easy, but waiting for it to chill might be vexing. Even if you are tempted to try it earlier - this cake has to be chilled overnight or you won't be able to cut a piece without making a mess. Even though definitely worth trying :-)

Ingredients for 20x20cm pan:
2 packs of salted crackers (I used Tuc)
50g dark chocolate
For caramel filling:
1 tin of Carnation caramel
125g unsalted butter (room temperature)
For custard filling:
500ml full fat milk
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
2 heaped tablespoons cornflour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter (room temperature)
 For cream filling:
300ml whipping cream (or double cream)
2 tablespoons sugar

Start with preparing custard, as this needs to cool: Put half of the milk in a pan and heat up slowly. In the meantime put both flours, sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl, pour a bit remaining milk. Mix it to a paste, making sure there's no lumps and gradually adding rest of the milk. Pour everything in a pan with other part of milk and slowly bring to the boil, stirring continuously. When it's thickened, take it off and let it cool. Mix in butter. Mix caramel with butter to make another filling. Line a tin with parchment. On the bottom put a layer of crackers, cover it with caramel filling. Cover it with another layer of crackers, then custard filling and follow with crackers again. Whip cream with sugar until it holds shape. Spread it on top of the cake and sprinkle with grated chocolate. Chill overnight.
Enjoy :-)

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Breakfast bars

Today's recipe is ideal for someone who doesn't like to get up early in the morning to prepare breakfast, but still wants to eat something before going to work/school. These bars are yummy and full of goodness, perfect as a breakfast on the run or even as a healthy snack. They are surprisingly easy to prepare, so go ahead!

1 tin condensed milk
250g oats
175g dried fruits (raisins, dates, apricots - chopped, coconut)
125g mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, chia, sesame, linseed)
125g nuts (walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pecan, cashews)

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Pour milk in a pan and heat gently until it starts to evaporate. Pour milk in the bowl and mix with rest of ingredients. Line 20x30 baking tray with greaseproof paper, spread mix evenly. Bake it in 130C for an hour. Cut in bars when still warm.
Enjoy :-)

Friday, 26 May 2017

Puff pastry cream cones

I like to keep a spare roll or two of puff pastry in my freezer - it's very versatile and can be used with both sweet and savoury fillings to create a quick snack. One of my favorites are cream cones. They are quick and easy to make, as long as you have these:

I bought mine in Lakeland, but they are also available on Ebay or Amazon. Apart of that, you're gonna need:

Ingredients for 10-12 cones:
1 roll ready rolled puff pastry
1 cup whipping cream, chilled
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10-12 glacé cherries

If your puff pastry is frozen, let it thaw in the fridge overnight, if you bought a fresh one open the pack and unroll the pastry sheet. Cut it into even strips along the shorter edge. Roll each strip around the metal cone, starting from spike end and slightly overlapping layers as you go around. Press lightly the end of strip to stick it. Lay ready cones well spaced on a baking sheet - end of pastry strip down, so they don't unroll during baking (you can lightly press them to the sheet, so they don't rock to the sides). Bake them in 200C for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Let them cool.
Whip cream with sugar and vanilla extract, until it holds shape. Put it into piping bag and snip the end. Fill cones and finish them off with glacé cherries. You can use fresh berries as well!
Enjoy :-)

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Super easy apple pie

Sometimes you want something sweet, but you don't have time to prepare a cake or you're not the best at baking. This apple pie requires no skill whatsoever and preparing it takes only 15 minutes. There's nothing that could actually go wrong - it's a guaranteed success every time. Maybe you can try it today?

Ingredients for 22-23cm spring form:
1 cup plain flour
1 cup semolina
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2kg apples (juicy ones would be best)
150g unsalted butter (chilled)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
icing sugar - for dusting

Start with peeling apples, grate them on a coarse side of the grater. Mix in some cinnamon if you like. Pour all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Grease baking form or line it with a baking parchment. Pour one cup of  dry mixture on the bottom of the in and spread evenly. Spread half of the grated apples on top, then repeat. Spread last cup of the dry ingredients on top and cover it evenly with grated butter. Bake it in 180C for around 1 hour, making sure you put another pan underneath as juice from the apples very often leaks through. Dust with icing sugar after cooled.
Enjoy :-)

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Cream éclairs

One of the desserts I love are éclairs. They are quite simple, but yummy. And versatile enough you can swap filling flavours every time to get something else - you never get bored of them. Today I'm just preparing a simple cream éclairs - you can have some too!

For choux pastry:
125g salted butter
1 cup water
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
5 eggs

First you have to boil the pastry - for that, place water and butter in a pan and heat it up slowly until butter is melted. Mixture will probably start boiling about the same time, so you can add sieved flour with baking powder - from this point you have to constantly stir, otherwise it's gonna stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. The pastry is ready when it looks uniform with no lumps and starts to come off of the sides of the pan and forming a ball. If  it does so, take it off and put aside to cool. When it starts to get to room temperature (still might be slightly warm), place it in a bowl and start mixing. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure it's well incorporated. Put dough in a piping bag and squeeze it on a baking tray, shaping long éclairs. Bake them in 200C for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let them cool.

For cream filling:
500ml heavy whipping cream, chilled
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put all ingredients in a bowl and whip until it holds it's shape.
To fill the éclairs, cut them alongside with sharp knife. Put the whipped cream in a piping bag with a star nozzle and squeeze it in opening until it's full. You can drizzle ready éclairs with chocolate or dust them with icing sugar.
Enjoy :-)

Monday, 22 May 2017

Press biscuits / spritz cookies

If you are a happy owner of a biscuit press, for example one like this, I'm sure you love to make hundreds of those little pretty biscuits. It's so much fun! It's like playing little biscuits factory. If you haven't tried yet, give it a go! Here's a recipe for those little beauties. If you don't have a press yet you can easily get one on ebay or amazon (I got mine from Lidl on a promo sale). For those who want to try a recipe without press, I have good news - this dough is versatile enough, you can even use piping bag and nozzle to create fancy shapes. What you're waiting for?

250g salted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with mixer until it's light and fluffy. Add egg yolks - one at a time and mix until it's well incorporated. Add vanilla extract and flour and mix well. When the dough is ready, put a bit at a time in the press and shape biscuits by aligning plate side with greased tray and pressing the lever. Biscuits don't have to be far apart as they don't raise much. Bake them in 180C for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. After taking out of the oven, biscuits are very soft - give them couple minutes to firm up before moving them on a plate.
Enjoy :-)

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Italian mimosa cake (Torta mimosa)

Today's cake is a typical italian festive cake - on 8th march, International Women Day, italian women are being gifted with mimosa flowers. This cake looks exactly like mimosa flower, hence the name. It utilises custard - 'crema pasticcera' and has delicate orange flavor. Hope you enjoy this one:-)


For the cake (pan di spagna) - makes 2 pans 20cm each:
8 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
7 heaped tablespoons plain flour
1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

First beat eggs with salt and sugar on high, until light and fluffy - it's gonna take at least 10 minutes, so be patient. Add vanilla and sieved flours with baking powder, fold in gently, just enough to mix. Divide mix evenly between 2 pans and bake in 160C for around 50 minutes. If you don't have 2 pans same size, divide ingredients in half and make 2 separate batters - cake has to be baked straight away, otherwise it's not going to raise properly. Set aside to cool.

For custard:
500ml full fat milk
225ml heavy whipping cream
5 egg yolks
5 tablespoons cornflour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 For punch:
130ml water
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
75ml Grand Marnier (or other orange liquor)

Put milk and 125ml of cream in a pan and heat up slowly. In the meantime, mix egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and whisk a bit to mix all ingredients. When milk is near to the boiling point, take it off the heat, and pour a little bit in the egg yolk mix. Whisk it quickly to mix it well and pour everything in the milk pan. Whisk it until it's smooth and there's no lumps. Put it back on the stove and heat up slowly, until it thickens, stirring continuously. When the custard is ready, pour it in the bowl and cover with cling film touching the surface, to prevent skin from forming. Leave it to cool off completely. Whisk remaining cream. Soften cooled custard, then mix in couple spoonfulls of whipped cream to soften it further. Add remaining cream and fold gently.

To prepare punch, put water and sugar in a pan and heat gently, stiring until sugar dissolves. Mix in the liquor and leave to cool.

Remove browned part of cakes - you can cut it off wth a knife or even easier - rub fine grater on the surface of the cake, remove all crumbs. Thanks to that cake is going to have nice yellowish colour. Slice both cakes horizontally, to get 4 sheets. Place first sheet on a tray, moisten it with some punch. Spread evenly 1/3 of the custard filling. Repeat until you have a stack of 3 - spread remaining custard on top and sides of the cake. Cut remaining slice of cake in cubes around 1cm in size. Use them to cover the cake top and sides. You can sprinkle some icing sugar on top.
Buon apetito :-)

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Raspberry and pistachio heart

Today I want to show you a perfect cake to celebrate with your other half. Aromatic and  moist, dreamy - absolutely amazing. I can guarantee, you're not gonna finish after just one piece.

Ingredients for 20-23cm pan:
250g unsalted butter
200g granulated sugar (1 cup)
5 eggs
120g pistachio kernels
250g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon rose water
seeds from 5 cardamom pods
red food colouring

Grind pistachio kernels to powder in a blender, but don't blend too long as they'll get oily. Mix them together with sieved flour and baking powder, set aside. Beat butter with sugar in a bowl, until it's soft and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure they are well incorporated. Add rose water, cardamom seeds and flour with pistachios, mix well with spatula. Add couple drops of red colouring and mix - check if you like the colour - add some more if required. Pour mixture in a greased pan, bake in 170C for around 50 minutes. Set aside to cool.

For filling:
500ml heavy whipping cream, chilled
400g raspberries
3 tablespoons sugar
handful of chopped pistachio kernels - for decoration
1 teaspoon of rose water

Whip cream with sugar and rose water until it holds its shape. Slice cake horizontally, so you have 2 sheets. Put one of them on a tray, spread half of the whipped cream and arrange raspberries on top, saving couple of them for decoration. Cover with second part of cake and spread evenly remaining cream. Decorate with chopped pistachios and raspberries (mine has actually chopped jelly on top).
Enjoy :-)

Friday, 19 May 2017

Zebra cake

Here's some easy and effective cake. It doesn't require any special ingredients, as long as you have a bottle of a fizzy drink in your cupboard.

Ingredients for 12x25cm loaf tin:

3 cups and 3 tablespoons plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
5 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup lemonade (or other fizzy drink)
1 cup sunflower oil (or vegetable oil)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sieve 3 cups of flour together with baking powder, set aside. Whisk eggs and sugar together until it's light and fluffy - it's gonna take around 10 minutes. Mix in extract and slowly bit by bit, taking turns mix in oil, lemonade and3 cups of flour, folding it with spatula. When you use up all the ingredients, divide batter in two even halves, adding 3 tablespoons flour to first and cocoa powder to second one. Grease the tin or line it with paper. Using ladles or big spoons, pour mixtures in the middle of the tin - one ladle at a time, alternating between white and brown batter until all the batter is gone. Bake it for around an hour in 170C, or until pick comes out clean. After it's cooled you can dust it with icing sugar or drizzle with melted chocolate.
Enjoy :-)

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Light strawberry cake

Nice weather outside makes you feel like it's summer already. I grabbed some strawberries when shopping and thought I would like something light and airy. This cake would make a perfect summer dessert. Especially if it's served straight from the fridge. Recipe is for 22cm spring form.

For sponge cake:
6 eggs
6 heaped tablespoons granulated sugar
5 heaped tablespoons self-raising flour (if you're using plain one, just add half a teaspoon baking powder)
1 heaped tablespoon cornflour (starch)

 Switch the oven on - you're gonna need 180C (170C if using fan oven). Line the spring form with baking parchment in a way so the sheet of paper covers the bottom and then side part is clipped onto that.
This will make an extra seal and will prevent batter from leaking through.
Put the eggs and sugar in a bowl and start whipping it on high, until it's light and creamy - it will take around 10 minutes, a bit longer if you are using hand mixer. It should look something like this:
When it's done, sieve both flours and fold them into the batter carefully. Don't overmix it or it will start sinking - you want it as light and fluffy as possible. Pour the batter into spring form and bake it for 40 minutes until golden brown. Make sure you don't open oven door until cake is well-browned - it doesn't contain any fat stabilizing it and is very delicate, therefore it may sink if you do. After the cake is ready, take it out of the oven and rest it upside down on tea towel to cool. Wen it has cooled completely, run a knife around the cake to loosen it up and remove from form. Using sharp long knife, slice it in half horizontally.

For filling:
750g strawberries
500ml double cream, chilled
2 packs strawberry jelly (each for a pint of liquid)
some grated chocolate or chocolate sprinkles for decoration

 First prepare jelly. If you are using cubes, put them in a microwavable bowl, add 200ml water and microwave it for around 60 seconds, checking every now and then if it has melted. Be careful not to boil it or it's not gonna set properly. If you are using instant powdered jelly, add 200ml boiling water and stir until it's dissolved. Set it aside.
Put one sheet of cake on a tray and clip the spring form side part on - that's going to be a base. Wash the strawberries and set 2 aside for decoration. Slice some of the strawberries in half and stand them on a cake base, with the sliced part touching the pan. Arrange the rest inside.

When jelly has cooled a bit, but it's still warm, you can start whipping cream. When cream starts to thicken, slowly pour jelly, whipping continuously, until it's all well mixed. Pour 3/4 of the mixture on top of strawberries. Spread it evenly and cover with second sheet of cake (sliced part down). Spread the remaining cream on top, sprinkle some grated chocolate and arrange previously left sliced strawberries. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours until it's set.
Enjoy :-)

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Chocolate truffles

Today I want to show you how to make a quick and easy dessert - chocolate truffles. If you want to prepare them for children, just omit rum :-)

200g plain chocolate (you can mix 100g plain 100 milk chocolate if you want sweeter truffles)
200ml double cream
2 tablespoons of rum (optional)
couple drops of rum flavouring
chocolate sprinkles for covering

Break chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl. Pour cream in a pan and heat it slowly on low heat, stirring occasionally. You have to heat it up to nearly-boiling point (but be careful not to boil it!). You can tell when it's the right time as cream starts to evaporate. Take it off the hob and pour over chocolate. Let it stand for 5 minutes. When most of the chocolate has melted, add rum and flavouring and stir with whisk until smooth. Let it cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours until firm to touch. Take a teaspoon of mixture at a time and quickly form a ball in your hands and cover in sprinkles. You have to work quickly, cause heat from your hands will melt the chocolate (you can moisten your palms with a bit of oil, so mixture won't stick). You can keep them for up to 2 days if refrigerated, but mine didn't even last a day.
Hope you enjoy :-)

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Ice cream wafer cup-cakes

What to do with leftover wafer cups? Of course cupcakes! Actually more like cup-cakes, the cake inside is a lemon muffin. Since they are topped with whipped cream, they can easily pass as ice cream, but they are even better - they don't need freezer! And you can make them as colorful as mine. How? There you go:
Obviously you're gonna need these

Here's the full list to make 12 cup-cakes:

For batter:
200g plain flour (1 and 1/4 cup)
2 teaspoons baking powder
half teaspoon baking soda
150g granulated sugar (3/4 cup)
80g salted butter, melted (if you have only unsalted one, just add a pinch of salt)
150ml milk
1 egg
zest and juice from 2 lemons
12 wafer cups

Mix flour, baking powder, soda and sugar in a bowl. In another bowl Whisk egg a little bit, just to break it, add melted butter (make sure it's cooled down), milk, zest and juice. Pour all the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix well. Place wafer cups in the muffin pan (no need to grease) and divide mixture evenly between them. Bake them for about 25 minutes in 200C. Check with a pick, to make sure they are baked. Take them out of the oven and set aside to cool.

To make whipped cream topping:
500ml heavy whipping cream (double cream will do as well)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
half teaspoon lemon extract
food colouring

Make sure cream is well chilled (ideally overnight in the fridge). Put cream, sugar and lemon extract in a bowl and whisk with electric mixer until it holds its shape. Divide whipped cream in as many parts as many colours you want and mix each part with different colouring. To get 2-toned topping, I've put 2 colours of cream in one icing bag and then squeezed it on top of the cakes - you can experiment with that.
Enjoy :-)