Friday, 21 February 2014

The Bombe?

Last weekend I had a conversation about an alternative to trifle, which lead to the invention of the Swiss-roll, jelly, Angel Delight (or S-JAD) bombe.

Given that I had some time on my hands today and access to all the required elements I just had to give it a go.

Firstly, I covered a large glass bowl in cling film and packed two raspberry Swiss roll-worth of slices tightly in.

Next, I made up a strawberry jelly using just half the recommended amount of water. The jelly was to be the mortar of my cakey igloo, so I needed it to have the requisite structural integrity. This was poured over the Swiss-roll slices.

I swathed a desert bowl in cling film and weighted it down on the jelly, forcing the liquid up the sides of the bowl. I left this in place whilst he jelly set in the refrigerator.

Once the jelly had set, I removed the dessert bowl and poured in a strawberry Angel Delight. Again it was left to set.

I managed to turn the whole thing out onto a serving dish. I was a little disappointed that it didn't quite hold it's shape as well as I has hoped. The first thing that comes to mind is The Blob, obviously.

I'm not sure the end result was quite worth the effort. Quite simply it tasted like jellified Swiss-roll with Angel Delight. Not quite the off-the-shelf gastronomic delight I had dreamed of. Still as they say, "nothing ventured, nothing gained".

Friday, 7 February 2014

Baked Alaska

The old work gang of Hammers came over tonight, for what turned out to be, a very civilised Friday evening. 

It was styled as the first part of a Come Dine With Me quadrilogy. I'd planned a pretty good seasonal three courses:

Jerusalem artichoke soup
Roast chicken with all the trimmings
Baked Alaska

It all went rather well. The soup bought a hush to the dining room for the first time since everyone arrived. A good sign.

The roast chicken was also well received. Quite an accomplishment for a Friday night post-work affair, I thought given that not only was a chicken roasted it was accompanied by roast potatoes (obviously), lemon carrots, purple-sprouting broccoli and celeriac purée. I even managed to make a decent gravy from the roasting juices, which is a first for me.

However, clearly the most interesting part of the evening (well for me anyway) was the dessert of baked Alaska. Given the fact that the whole gang seemed to have given up the ghost and decanted to the sofa to adjust their waist bands and digest, I wasn't entirely sure I was going to get the chance to make it. It would have been a tad frustrating having been up the night before making the sponge base, roasting the rhubarb and defrosting egg whites. Thankfully sense, or was it just plain greed, prevailed.

This is a pud of contrasts. The light ginger sponge as the base, which had a delicate warmth, worked well with the fruity rhubarb. The sweet meringue was offset by the tartness of rhubarb. The combination of temperatures and textures worked remarkably well.

I was going to make a separate orange sauce to accompany it but held-off as it seemed that that might just push everyone over the edge.

I'm not sure there's much of a recipe to give for the Baked Alaska, it's more of an assembly job, unless you're making all the individual components. What I did was make an 8" Victoria sponge (using the usual 2444 mix) with a teaspoon of ground ginger. I used my usual recipe to roast about a pound of forced rhubarb.

Just before assembly I made the meringue. Four egg white were whisked until stiff then 7oz of caster sugar gradually added until the meringue was glossy and stiff. To assemble, the cake base was first put on a roasting tray. The juices from the rhubarb were brushed over the cake then the rhubarb spread all over in a single layer. Next softened vanilla ice-cream was piled on. (You should really put it back in the freezer for 10 minutes or so before doing anything else.). The the meringue was slathered over everything making sure that there were no gaps. The pud was then baked for 10mins at 200°C until brown. (I used a blow torch to add some extra depth of colour).

You have to serve this pretty quickly. It also needs easting all in one go, so make sure you've got plenty of people around who are still hungry! (Mind you I did toy with making individual ones, which may have been more elegant and slightly less extravagant.)

PS. This is what my dinner the following night, made with the left-overs, looked like. It was just as tasty especially with the potatoes and chicken  fried in goose fat...

Sunday, 2 February 2014

My first fruit cake

Today I delivered my first ever fruit cake. I know. I was as surprised as you when I realised I hadn't ever made a fruit cake before.

I didn't really know where to begin for a recipe. There seems to be some quite a lot of dull recipes that basically just mix fruit and a load of flour - no wonder they are "heavy". Remarkably the recipes are incredibly similar. There also seemed to be some variation between a fruit cake and a Christmas cake, with the latter having a much more interesting set of ingredients. (Why can't you have a "Christmas" fruit cake any time of the year?) I stumbled upon a recipe for ale cake and since I wanted a cake that had more than a hint of booze (it was for my friend's dad as a thank-you for some no longer used bake-ware) this is what I went with.

It turned out very well. The fruit was incredibly juicy, (as well they should be having absorbed half a pint of ale!) leading to a very moist cake. It had a complexity and deepness to it that was remarkable. The topping was a sweet hit that served to break up the homogeneity of the cake very well. Ultimately it could be described as very satisfying!

Recipe for Ale Cake (adapted from Women's hour)

For the cake:
225g raisins
225g sultanas
350g currants
75g citrus peel
250ml strong English ale
225g butter
225g dark brown muscovado sugar
1 tablespoon black treacle
4 eggs
225g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
Zest of one lemon
For the icing:
75ml evaporated milk
3oz caster sugar
Egg yolk
1.5oz butter
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1oz dessicated coconut
2oz mixed fruit and nuts, chopped

1. In a large bowl, steep the fruits and the citrus peel in the ale, leaving it for at least 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
2. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, beat in the treacle and then slowly add the eggs
3. Fold in the flour and spice, until thoroughly mixed together.
4. Stir in the steeped fruits
5. Pile the mixture into a greased and lined 8" round cake tin.
6. Bake in the centre of the oven for one hour at 160°C (the original recipe states 180°C but this is too high and leads to the cake getting far too brown too quickly). Reduce the temperature to 120°C for a further 2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out cleanly. Leave to cool.
7. For the icing mix the milk, egg yolk, sugar, butter and vanilla extract in a small pan over a low heat. Stir continuously until the mixture thickens, approx. 12 mins.
8. Remove from the heat.
9. Beat in the fruit and nuts and coconut. Continue until the mixture has cooled and thickened to a spreading consistency.
10. Slather all over the cool cake and allow to cool completely.

NB. The cake can be stored before being iced. To store wrap first in baking paper then in foil and place in an air-tight container.
Related Posts with Thumbnails