26 March 2011
Brownies Recipes From Cakes By Pam Corbin
It is one of those strange and massive events, where you can be treated to delicious, lovingly made cheese from the Wensleydale Cheese Company with their Jervaulx Blue through to the tasteless, sweaty industrial cheese of AB Technologies Alimentaire, who initiated me into the delights of chocolate flavoured cheese strings (revolting) and wasabi flavoured cheese strings (not great but strangely I think it is a possiblity, but you would need more wasabi for a kick and tastier cheese). The other weird flavour from the show was Purbeck Ice Cream's Horseradish and Beetroot Icecream, which was intriguing and would work well as an amuse bouche. The Steenbergs (our) stand was quite busy, but opposite us was Higgidy Pies - now they have done massively well and are now in most of the major multiples which from a start about 7 years ago is truly immense.
In fact, most of the businesses around us at the IFE trade show were all in Boots, Sainsburys, Tesco and Waitrose etc, so it was slightly weird being one of the few to hold out and say "No thank you" to the big multiples, and long may we be able to resist the temptation even if it means we are all the poorer for our positioning. It is also interesting to note that inspite of the fact that customers are always telling us "Don't got into the multiples" and so on, they were happily swarming around Higgidy Pies despite the fact that they are listed in Asda, Boots, Budgens, Ocado, Sainsburys and Waitrose.
And just round from us was Thursday Cottage, which is now part of Tiptree, but was founded by Pam Corbin. Pam now does courses in jam making and writes books for River Cottage. She is one of the world's beautiful people - lovely nature, light and fresh manner and a great cook, as well as a real fan of Steenbergs ingredients. Pam has just finished her book from River Cottage on Cakes and she has kindly mentioned Steenbergs spices on more than one occasion, for which we are so grateful.
Anyway to the book. The aptly-called "Cakes" is number 8 in River Cottage's series of indispensible handbooks, covering the basics of core areas like jam making, baking cakes etc. They are hard-backed but the size of a normal paperback, so they are handy and convenient rather than big and bulky. What's more they make difficult topics, really easy. There are masses of cakes - real cakes as this is full of lots of delicious-sounding flavour combinations, but they are classic British-style cakes and not the flouncy, airy and chic cakes of the superchef catwalk scene.
So I have chosen a couple of recipes to try: firstly "My chocolate brownies" in this blog, followed (perhaps) by "Wholemeal orange cake", "Simnel cakelets", "Cut and come again" in subsequent blogs. But please make sure you go out and buy her books, because Pam is really lovely.
(Adapted from Cakes by Pam Corbin)
185g / 6½ oz plain chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
185g / 6½ oz unsalted butter
3 large eggs
275g / 9¾ oz Fairtrade golden caster sugar
85g / 3oz plain flour
50g / 1¾ oz white chocolate, roughly chopped (I tried out Morrisons Best for this)
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Put the plain chocolate in a heatproof bowl with the unsalted butter. Place over a barely simmering water on a low heat and leave until melted. Stir to blend together and take off the heat.
Fold the chocolate mixture into the mousse-like egg mixture. Sift the flour and cocoa powder and fold into the mixture as gently as possible. Then fold in the chopped chocolate pieces.
Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake for 35 minutes, or until the top has just stopped to wobble and then take out and leave to cool in the tin. You are trying to leave the brownie partly uncooked and stop it becoming a chocolate cake.
When thoroughly cooled, turn out the brownies onto a tea-towel and then place onto a chopping board. Cut into squares.
The brownies can be stored for 4-5 days in an airtight container, but brownies never last that long in our household and these are truly scrumptious. The ones from the centre of the cake tin are the best as they have that delicious, moist mouthfeel.