Friday, October 24, 2014

FFWD - Canneles for Dorie's Birthday

It's a special French Friday with Dorie this week, as today is Dorie Greenspan's birthday.  Happy birthday Dorie!

Our mission this week is to select one of the nominated recipes from Dorie's new book, Baking Chez Moi, and make and post about it.

I was pleased that one of the recipes was for canneles.  The recipe is posted online here.  I have had this on my "must make" list for a long time, and earlier this year, I had even bought a silicone mould to make my own canneles.

There has been a lot written about the difficulty of making canneles, what makes a perfect cannel, and tips and tricks for making them.  I have the fabulous advantage of having never laid eyes on a cannele in the flesh, so to speak, so I was guided entirely by Dorie's notes and the photographs that I found online.

The name of canneles comes from the fact that they are baked in moulds which make them "channelled".  Dorie says that traditionally they are baked until they turn almost as dark as nuggets of coal, and we were told to bake them until they became "very dark - black really".  This sounds counter-intuitive, but the idea is that canneles are all crispy, chewy caramelised sugar on the outside and soft and custardy on the inside.

Having never eaten a cannele before, I thought mine fitted the bill.  Of the 8 canneles that I made, two puffed up and never really fell down properly, so they were an odd shape.  The   others were certainly the right shape, and I think they were the right colour, according to Dorie's standards (cf other commentators).

However, it took an hour and a half to achieve this colour in my oven, not an hour.  I began to despair of ever getting even close, but I am happy with the end result.

I ate one of my canneles and thought it was good - it had a lovely, chewy outside and a soft, custardy middle as per Dorie's description. Now I just need to convince people at work that these little black cakes(?) are supposed to be like that and are really good. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lemon Creme Fraiche Cake

Recently, I had some crème fraiche left in the fridge to use up, so busily Googled recipes containing crème fraiche.  I tried "crème fraiche" plus "ingredient" which largely gave me recipes for making crème fraiche, so I changed tack and Googled "crème fraiche" plus "cake" and bingo - I found this terrific recipe for Lemon Crème Fraiche Cake

The finished cake was so moist and light, and was a winner at work:

The only change that I made to the recipe was to substitute some of the crème fraiche for thickened cream, as I did not have quite enough crème fraiche.  It didn't seem to make a difference to the finished product.  Also, if you want enough glaze to easily cover the cake, I recommend at least doubling the recipe given - I found that the amount suggested did not make enough glaze to easily cover the top of the cake.

This cake was popular at work too, so comes highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WWDH - Chickpea and roast pumpkin soup

For Wednesday with Donna Hay this week, I chose another soup - this time, Donna's Chickpea and Roast Pumpkin Soup from p76 of Off the Shelf.  You can also find the recipe online here

I enjoyed this soup - the whole chickpeas added some welcome texture.  However, I found it slightly too sweet, and would have upped the spice component - perhaps by adding some chilli.

To see what Margaret, Chaya and Sarah thought, visit their websites.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Citrus Sunbeam Layer Cake for Chi

A colleague, Chi, had his last day with us last week.  I found out when his last day was, and decided to make him a cake to ensure that he was seen off in the right fashion.

I had not the faintest idea what kind of cake Chi liked best, so I randomly decided I would make some kind of orange cake based on the number of oranges I had in the fridge.  A lot of recipes that I came across were of the boiled orange/flourless variety.  Not having a couple of hours to boil oranges, I was very excited when I landed on the recipe for Citrus Sunbeam Layer Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook.

You can also find the recipe for this cake online here.  I chose to make only a half recipe, and made two orange layers and one lemon layer, as I wanted my cake to focus on the orange.  I also substituted Cointreau for the limoncello to bring out the orange flavour.  I left the alcohol out of the icing completely - mainly because I forgot to add it.

To decorate the cake, I used black writing icing (a winner) and popping candy (not a good idea - it all popped as soon as I put it on the cake and went quite sticky looking).

Despite my off-centre writing and sticky popping candy decoration, Chi was very pleased with his cake, and a number of people told me they enjoyed it.  I'll count that as a keeper in my books.

Friday, October 17, 2014

FFWD - Roasted Kipfler Potatoes with Garlic

This week's edition of French Fridays with Dorie is a Sunday roast dish -  Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic.  Unfortunately it is not the season for Jerusalem Artichokes, so I used kipfler potatoes instead - similar shape, similar taste (or so the Internet tells me).

It is pretty simple to make this - peel your Jerusalem artichokes or potatoes, slice them lengthways, place them in an oiled casserole dish with salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and sliced garlic cloves, mix it all up, and bake on high until golden and cooked through.

How can you go wrong with this - it tasted good.

To see what everyone else thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the FFWD website.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cheesecake topped brownies

My final birthday afternoon tea post relates to something chocolatey and delish - brownies!  In this case, I made brownie bites with cheesecake topping from p146 of Nibbles - 100 Sweet and Savoury Finger Foods.

These little bites are just the ticket for someone who likes their chocolate - and they are very simple to make.

To make them, you will need:

125g butter
200g dark chocolate
220g sugar
3 eggs
150g plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


180g cream cheese 
75g sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 165 degrees Celsius, and grease and line a 27cm x 17.5cm slice tin.

For the topping, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth, then add the remaining topping ingredients and beat to combine.  Set aside.

For the brownies, melt the butter and chocolate together over a bain marie. 

Using an electric mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs until light and creamy.  Mix in the chocolate mixture.  Add the flour and vanilla extract, and mix to combine.

Pour the brownie batter into the prepared tin.  Spoon the cheesecake topping over the top of the batter and spread evenly.  Using a knife, cut through the mixture at intervals to create a marbled pattern.

Put the brownies into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through.  Cool the brownies in the tin, then cut into 1 inch squares.  Serve  and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

WWDH - French Onion Soup

For Wednesday with Donna Hay this week, Sarah chose French Onion Soup from p28 of Modern Classics I.  I did have a sense of deja vu with this one, and sure enough, found that we had made it in February 2013, before Sarah joined us.  Oh well, it never hurts to make the classics again, and we are finding that we are all going back to the same recipes subconsciously because they were good.

I liked this well enough, but only made a quarter recipe because I didn't want to swim in soup all week.

To see what Sarah, Margaret and Chaya thought of this soup, visit their websites.