Reidbury's Kitchen

Food thoughts, recipes and billowing smoke from a home cook's kitchen in London


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Nigella’s Yogurt Pot Cake

Nigella's Yogurt Pot Cake, Nigellissima

Nigella’s Yogurt Pot Cake, Nigellissima

I really enjoyed watching the latest Nigella series on TV – Nigellisma. Not just because I love the way she talks about food and that she always borders on the wholly-inappropriate-for-pre-watershed-telly, but because she ends up inspiring me to cook something that I would never have looked at twice from the book. Step up, Nigella’s Yogurt Pot Cake. The concept of this cake is that you take a regular-sized yogurt pot (150ml) and use it as an easy way to measure all the other ingredients. Unfortunately, trying to find a regular sized pot of yogurt in the East End of London proved too much – most of the yogurt pots were so large they had handles. Like paint pots. Seriously, how much yogurt does one family need? But anyway, Nigella thankfully preempted this potential problem and listed proper measurements too.

For the yogurt pot as a measurement version, check out the video on the BBC website hereAnd buy the book here

As I said, I would have flicked past this recipe had I not seen this being made during the series, and I’m so glad I tried it. Nigella suggests baking this in a 22cm savarin or ring mould, which I don’t have. But she also suggests a regular 22cm springform tin works fine, which is what I used. I’ve not had any experience of baking with yogurt and oil, so I’m not 100% sure if my cake came out ‘right’ or not, although I would say it was lovely. It didn’t rise to great heights, and wasn’t hugely crumbly, but it did taste wonderfully light with the lemon and vanilla working well together. It reminded me of a denser madeira cake. I’d like to think that’s what the cake is meant to turn out like, and not that I should have whipped the egg whites more before adding!

KB rating 7.5/10. PR rating 7/10

Yogurt Pot Cake (Cuts into about 16 slices)

Ingredients

  • 150g plain yogurt
  • 150ml flavourless vegetable oil (plus some for greasing)
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 capfuls (1.5 tsp) vanilla extract
  • Zest of half an unwaxed lemon
  • 175g plain flour
  • 75g cornflour
  • 1 tsp icing sugar (to serve)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4, and grease your ring mould or springform tin using vegetable oil.

Separate the eggs and put the whites into one bowl and the yolks in another. Whisk the whites until they are firm peaks. Set aside.

Scrape the yogurt onto the egg yolks, and use the yogurt pot to measure the other ingredients (or use the measurements provided above). So add 2 pots (just) of sugar and whisk with the egg yolks and yogurt until airy and light.

Fill the yogurt pot up with vegetable oil and, beating the whole time, slowly add to the egg yolk mixture. Then beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

Still beating, add in 2 pots of flour, followed by 1 pot of cornflour. Scrape down and fold in with a rubber spatula. Now with a large metal spoon, dollop in the egg whites and fold them in with the spatula.

Fill the mould/tin with the batter and bake in the oven for 30-35 mins. When cooked the sides will be coming away from the sides and a metal skewer or cake tester will come out clean.

Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let the cake sit in the tin for 10 mins before turning it out.

Once cooled, put onto a serving point and sprinkle over icing sugar.

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The ‘Gotta be Quick’ Coffee and Walnut Cake

Coffee & Walnut Layer Cake, Nigella Lawson's 'Kitchen'

Coffee & Walnut Layer Cake, Nigella Lawson’s ‘Kitchen’

We hold regular charity bake sales in our team at work, and trial and error has taught me that this cake goes fast! It’s really does seem to be one of the best sellers. In fact, I baked this last night to be sold today…and within 20 mins of the sale someone bought the whole cake. THE WHOLE CAKE! (It was for someone’s birthday just in case you’re concerned about their general well-being) . And if you needed any more convincing, Paul doesn’t like nuts but somehow loves this cake. It is one of the easiest cakes to make, and whilst the nutty flavour is quite subtle, the espresso really makes this cake sing. The buttercream frosting is really simple too, but really adds to the overall taste! (I’m not really an icing fan, but this converted me to the idea). The first time I made this I couldn’t get espresso powder, but I really would advise searching it out. I found a Percol espresso powder at the supermarket which I now use, but Nescafe also do one that’s quite widely available too.

This cake is from Nigella Lawson’s book, Kitchen, which is actually one of my favourite Nigella books. And whilst I’ve listed the recipe below, it’s also available online on her website here.

Coffee and Walnut Layer Cake (serves 8, but that’s according to Nigella! Her portions are huge, so it can probably serve more!)

Ingredients

For the sponge

  • 50g walnuts (pieces)
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g unsalted, softened butter (plus some for greasing)
  • 200g plain flour
  • 4 tsp espresso coffee
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk

For the buttercream frosting

  • 350g icing sugar
  • 175g unsalted, softened butter
  • 2.5 tsp espresso coffee
  • 1 tbsp water (boiling)
  • 25g walnuts (halves)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

Butter 2 20cm/8” sandwich tins and line the base of each with baking parchment.

Put the walnut pieces and sugar into a food processor and blitz to a fine nutty powder.

Add the butter, flour, espresso powder, baking powder, bicarb and eggs and process to a smooth batter.

Add the milk, pouring it down the funnel with the motor still running, or just pulsing, to loosen the cake mixture: it should be a soft, dropping consistency, so add more milk if you need to. (If you are making this by hand, bash the nuts to a rubbly powder with a rolling pin and mix with the dry ingredients; then cream the butter and sugar together, and beat in some dry ingredients and eggs alternately and, finally, the milk.)

Divide the mixture between the 2 lined tins and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the sponge has risen and feels springy to the touch.

Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, before turning them out onto the rack and peeling off the baking parchment.

When the sponges are cool, you can make the buttercream.

Pulse the icing sugar in the food processor until it is lump free, then add the butter and process to make a smooth icing.

Dissolve the instant espresso powder in 1 tablespoon boiling water and add it while still hot to the processor, pulsing to blend into the buttercream. (If you are doing this by hand, sieve the icing sugar and beat it into the butter with a wooden spoon. Then beat in the hot coffee liquid).

Place 1 sponge upside down on your cake stand or serving plate.

Spread with about half the icing; then place on it the second sponge, right side up (i.e. so the 2 flat sides of the sponges meet in the middle) and cover the top with the remaining icing in a ramshackle swirly pattern.

This cake is all about old-fashioned, rustic charm, so don’t worry unduly: however the frosting goes on is fine. similarly, don’t fret about some buttercream oozing out around the middle: that’s what makes it look so inviting.

Gently press the walnut halves into the top of the icing all around the edge of the circle about 1cm apart

Eat a piece before it all goes…


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Apple & Frangipane Tarts

Apple Frangipane Tarts

Apple Frangipane Tarts

So last year I went to Leith’s School of Food and Wine to take on a Pastry Workshop. I would highly recommend both the course and Leith’s for anyone interested in furthering their knowledge or learning a new skill. I always knew that pastry is a tough mistress, but within the first 20 minutes it became pretty clear that we were going to have a day of mixed fortunes! The chef who provided an initial demo of the items we were going to make was very honest that pastry is something that takes plenty of practice, cold hands and the right atmospheric conditions to get right! We learned to make three types of pastry:

  • Choux Pastry in the form of Profiteroles
  • Rich Shortcrust in the form of a Salmon & Dill Quiche
  • Pâte Sucrée (sweet shortcrust) in the form of Apple and Frangipane Tarts

Full details on the 2013 course are here but my highlight was the Apple and Frangipane Tarts. Whilst they require some effort to make, they just look so irresistible and have always garnered lots of ‘oohs’ of approval, so here’s the recipe:

APPLE AND FRANGIPANE TARTS

For the Pâte Sucrée (I reckon you can get 6-8 small tarts out of this)

  • 170g plain flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 85g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 85g sugar
  • 2 drops of vanilla essence (I would use extract here)

For the Frangipane

  • 200g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tbsp Calvados or kirsch (optional allegedly, but I wholeheartedly approve)
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 3-4 ripe dessert apples

For the apricot glaze

  • 3 tbsp apricot jam
  • ½ tbsp water
  • Juice of half a small lemon

Make the pastry:

I’m using the method that was taught during the course.  Our instructor did say there’s a food processor version, but honestly, the pleasure in making these tarts for me is the ‘hands on’ approach!

Sift the flour with the salt on to a board.  With your fist make a large circle in the centre (about the size of a dinner plate) so you are left with a ring of flour. Place the sugar and butter in the centre.

Using the fingertips of one hand, mix the butter and sugar together in a ‘pecking’ motion.  Once mixed, add the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla essence and ‘peck’ into a paste.  After that, flick the flour over the paste using a palette knife. Using the ‘sharp’ side of the palette knife ‘chop’ the pastry until all the flour is combined. When combined, frasier the pastry into 6-8 sections (as many sections as you want tarts).  This involves shaving 3 slivers off the ball of dough with a pallet knife at a time, and then pressing all the slivers together to form your finished clump of pastry).

If the pastry seems too soft to roll out, wrap it in clingfilm and chill in the fridge.  Then, roll it out to fit your tart cases and line them.  Good luck with this – the shorter the pastry, the better it’ll taste, but the more frustration it’ll add to your life when you’re trying to line those tins…! Chill in the fridge (regardless of whether you’ve chilled the dough up to this point or not).

Make the Frangipane:

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6 and put in a baking sheet to heat

Cream the butter in a bowl gradually beat in the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and soft.

Gradually add the eggs and egg yolks, beating well after each addition.

Add the Calvados or Kirsch if using (I judge you if you don’t), and then stir in the ground almonds and the flour. Spread the frangipane into the chilled pastry cases.

Peel the apples (unless they’re red or pink, in which case leave them as they are), halve them and scoop out the cores. Cut the apples crosswise into very thin slices and arrange them on the frangipane keeping the slices of each apple together. Press them down gently until they touch the pastry base.

Bake the tarts on the preheated baking sheet near the top of the oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the pastry dough is beginning to brown. Turn down the oven temperature to 170C/350F/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 30 -35 minutes or until apples are tender and the frangipane is set.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Remove from the tart cases whilst the tarts are still warm as it’s easier.

Make the apricot glaze: 

Whilst the tarts are cooling, make the apricot glaze. Place all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring gently until syrupy. Strain.

Brush the tarts with the apricot glaze quickly (as the glaze can set pretty quickly and become unspreadable) and serve at room temperature. These tarts are best eaten the day they’re cooked, but they can also be frozen.

Et voila… Bask in the glory of the inevitable praise that will follow!