Wednesday, 8 January 2014

New Year catch up

It's the 8th of January and I've not baked one thing yet. My fingers are twitching so I can feel it coming on soon as I sit here looking at sourdoughs in my Paul Hollywood book.

But it's 8pm and not time to bake so I'll catch up on my Christmas baking.

I decided eventually not to make my own mince pies as our local bakery makes the most amazing mince pies with cream cheese and orange pastry. I've made my own version (I'll hunt out my recipe later) but decided to cheat this year. I did make a cake though, a gingerbread house and some Lebkuchen (see previous blog posts) 

I did decide however to make some cake pops as a practice for my brother's wedding (but a Christmas theme) which turned out ok. They're very very sweet but since you only get one/two mouthfuls then that's fine by me. They're one of the trickiest things to make. You have to have more candy melts than you require so you can get a good dip. You have to roll the cake pops to the right size (with trial and error mine were 20g each). They need to chill before you coat so the stick won't slide out but you can't let them get too cold or the coating will crack as the cake pops warm up.........etc etc. but I was pleased for my very first attempt. 

Christmas Dinner in our family is always followed by puddings. Most of my family don't like fruit puddings like Christmas pudding so I always choose a new dessert to try each year. This year I decided to make vanilla pannacotta, ginger ice cream and a cake my mum found in a magazine in September which she demanded (politely) I make. It's a salted caramel chocolate ombré cake made of five layers of different coloured sponge filled with salted caramel and chocolate ganache. 

Salted caramel chocolate ombré cake:
425g plain flour
25g baking powder
200g butter
300g icing sugar
6 large free range egg whites 
275ml milk
4 tbsp cocoa powder
5 1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
1/2 tsp gel black food colouring 

400g dark chocolate 
400ml double cream

Salted caramel:
150ml double cream
125g dulce de leche or Carnation caramel
1 tsp sea salt 

Heat the oven to 180c (160 fan)
Beat the butter and icing sugar until pale and creamy. Beat in the egg whites a little at a time mixing well. Fold in the flour and baking powder then add 150ml of the milk. 

Now the interesting part! You need to split the mixture into 5 portions. I did this by weight in 5 different bowls

Bowl 1: add 25ml of milk and mix to incorporate 

Bowl 2: mix 25ml of milk and 1/2 tsp cocoa together and mix in to incorporate 

Bowl 3: mix 25ml of milk, 1 tsp cocoa and 1 tsp coffee and mix in to incorporate 

Bowl 4: mix 25ml of milk, 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa and 1/2 tbsp and mix in to incorporate 

Bowl 5: mix 25ml of milk, 2 tbsp cocoa, 1tbsp coffee and the black food colouring and mix in to incorporate 

Spoon into the cake tins, smooth the tops and bake for approximately 12 minutes 

To make the ganache, break up the chocolate, heat the cream until it just reaches scalding point then add in the chocolate. Leave for a few minutes then whisk to make the ganache. It will still be quite runny but leave to cool and it will thicken. Don't leave for hours though or it will be too thick to spread!

For the salted caramel, whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks then mix in the caramel and the salt. I could only get Carnation caramel but oh my!!! This was amazing stuff. I could eat a bowl of it.

Now you need to assemble the cake. 
Place the darker coloured sponge on the bottom of your plate and spread with some caramel cream. Add the next darkest sponge and spread with ganache. Keep doing this, adding the next lightest sponge and cream/ganache. Then cover the whole cake in the remaining ganache. Decorate if you wish like I did. Leave to set. Because it's made with cream it ideally needs to be eaten within a couple of days. You only need a small slice as it's quite dense. But it was Christmas 😁😁

I decorated mine with these tiny sugar gingerbread men I found in Sainsburys and a failed Christmas present I attempted to make - my salted caramel filled chocolate gingerbread men. The mould I was using was too deep and I couldn't get half of them out without breaking them. I was so upset. But at least I had a use for them.

So I could have used that same salted caramel that I made for my chocolates, for my cake but there wasn't enough left over and I decided to stick with the recipe (ie be lazy and buy caramel). But this salted caramel that I made was delicious and I'll use this recipe again for other things 

Salted caramel:
175g caster sugar 
150ml double cream
10g unsalted butter
Large pinch of flaked sea salt 

Put the sugar into a medium saucepan over a medium heat and cook until the sugar melts and caramelises. Mane sure you don't let it go too dark, nor do you want it too light. It needs to be a rusty colour. Take off the heat and add half of the double cream and the salt. It will splutter so take care. Add the rest of the cream then the butter and stir until smooth.

Pour into a jar and leave to cool. It will eventually go to a very sticky caramel so if you want to use it to fill anything or spread you'll need to warm it up a little or use it before it goes too dense.

I'll be back later with the panna cotta and ice cream recipes 

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