Posts Tagged ‘River Cottage’

Bake A Coffee Cake To Put A Spring Back Into Your Step

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

I am going through one of those slow patches with an enthusiasm level akin to the doldrums, full of periods of calm, then storms, but all interspersed with light winds.  Nothing much seems to be working, with nowt falling into place.  It is as if your legs are moving but you are not actually getting anywhere or doing much of any consequence.

But the sun has come out and spring is here, so I have managed to take a few photos of spring and been for a few walks along the Ure with my daughter, chatting about this and that, while watching the white flowers bloom on blackthorn bushes, promising of sloes in the autumn.  And the rabbits hopping around undisturbed by the oak tree in the pasture.

Springtime = Coffee Cake

Springtime = Coffee Cake

While Pam Corbin has managed to keep me from mischief as I continue to play with recipes from her delightful book, “Cakes“.  I had a good go with her Wholemeal Orange Cake with Earl Grey Icing, which has a delicate orange citrus flavour, and made an amended version of her Coffee and Walnut Cake, morphing into a coffee cake for Sophie’s birthday (21 again) as I am not the greatest fan of walnuts, finding them bitter with a yucky aftertaste.

So here’s my Coffee Cake, based on Pam’s Coffee & Walnut Cake:

For the cake:

200g/ 7 oz organic plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
200g / 7 oz unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and left to soften
200g / 7 oz golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
2tsp coffee extract or 1tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1tbsp boiling water or 50ml Camp coffee  essence
25ml / 1¾ tbsp milk

For the filling:

60g /2 oz unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and softened
125g /4¼ oz icing sugar, sieved
1tsp coffee extract, or 2tsp instant coffee in 2tsp boiling water or 10ml Camp coffee essence

For the icing:
200g / 7 oz icing sugar, sieved
1tbsp strong fresh coffee

Preheat the oven to 220C/350F.  Prepare two 20cm/ 8 inch round sandwich tins by lightly greasing them both, then lining the bases with baking paper.

Sieve The Flour

Sieve The Flour

Sieve the plain flour and baking powder and set aside.

Put the butter into a large mixing bowl, then with an electric hand whisk beat to a cream, then add the sugar and beat until light and creamy.  Add the eggs, then 2tbsp of flour and beat together.  Add the coffee essence and beat until light and fluffy.

Now fold in the flour in 2 halves.  Add the milk and stir carefully to keep the consistency.

Divide the mixture between the 2 prepared cake tins, spreading out evenly with a spoon.  Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the tops are a light golden brown and springy to touch.  Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Prepare the buttercream filling by beating all the filling ingredients together until light and creamy.

Make the coffee icing, by mixing the ingredients together, adding perhaps 1-2 tbsp boiling water to get the consistency smooth, but still thick.

Put one of the cooled cakes onto a plate or cake stand.  With a sharp knife carefully slice the top off the cake to make it flat, enjoying eating this as chef’s perks.  Spread the top over with the buttercream, then sandwich the other cake over the top.  Now, spread the coffee icing over the top.

Prepare The Coffee Buttercream For The Coffee Sandwich Cakes

Prepare The Coffee Buttercream For The Coffee Sandwich Cakes

Coffee Cake

Coffee Cake

Enjoy with tea or coffee and the cake will last a week in an airtight tin.

Then you could enjoy Pam’s orange cake next…

Brownies Recipes From Cakes By Pam Corbin

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

We have just been at the International Food Exhibition 2011, IFE 2011, at Excel in London, where we have been exhibiting. 

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.

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

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
40g / 1½ oz Fairtrade cocoa powder (even Cadbury’s is Fairtrade these days)
50g / 1¾ oz white chocolate, roughly chopped (I tried out Morrisons Best for this)
50g / 1¾ oz milk chocolate, roughly chopped (I used half a bar of Cadbury’s Fairtrade Dairy Milk, then ate the rest)

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.

Whisk the eggs and Fairtrade golden caster sugar together with an electric whisk or mixer until pale and quadrupled in volume, which takes 5-10 minutes.  According to Pam, this is the key bit as it increases the volume massively and makes the whole brownie more succulent.
Whisk The Eggs And Sugar To Much Bigger Volume

Whisk The Eggs And Sugar To Much Bigger Volume

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.

Fold Chocolate Into Egg-Sugar Mix

Fold Chocolate Into Egg-Sugar Mix

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.