Baked & Delicious

EDITORS’ HINTS & TIPS

Meet Baked & Delicious Editors, Nikki Mohan and Wendy Sweetser, who’ll be keeping you up to date with Baked news and cooking up some great hints and tips!

Issue 17 celebrates The Bashful Battenberg

posted 05 March 2012 at 10:14:56

 

Have you seen The Great British Bakeoff on TV in South Africa? It’s been huge fun watching the contestants create all those wonderful cakes and bakes.

One challenge I particularly enjoyed was watching them make a Battenberg cake, that great British favourite our grandmothers always served for Sunday tea. If you think Battenberg looks difficult, then think again, as in this issue we show you exactly how to assemble the chequerboard pink and white squares of sponge and wrap them in a layer of soft, sweet marzipan. It might sound hard but, believe me, the cake is much easier to make than it looks and the end result is just delicious – a shop bought Battenberg doesn’t compare.

For really adventurous cooks – and I know there are lots of you out there – the Hungarian Dobos Torte has to be one of the most spectacular cakes ever created. Made by layering multiple rounds of ultra thin sponge with chocolate buttercream, the cake is then topped with a thin sheet of glossy caramel and swirls of buttercream. It’s also not baked in a case like an ordinary cake, you simply spread the mixture thinly on circles drawn on baking parchment placed on baking sheets. It sounds as though it shouldn’t work but, believe me, baking the sponge layers this way works beautifully and the finished gâteau will amaze your family and friends.

Cookies and meringues are some of our most popular bakes so in this issue we’ve combined the two to make Chocolate Meringue Cookies. Light, deliciously chocolatey and with a crisp, meringue-like crust, it makes my mouth water just writing about them! Excuse me for a moment while I sneak another one out of the tin.

 

We’ve also got two classics from France that look elegant and taste delicious. Cigarettes russes are light-as-air biscuits that can be served as an accompaniment to ice cream or a fruity dessert or offered to guests as petits fours with coffee. They’re pretty straightforward to make, the only tricky bit being rolling the biscuits when they come out of the oven. To do this, leave the biscuits on the baking sheet for 15 seconds or so to give them time to firm up a little, then carefully lift them off the sheet with a palette knife and roll them round the handle of a wooden spoon. As they’ll quickly harden and become too brittle to roll, it’s worth only baking three or four biscuits at a time, although all is not lost if they do go hard, just pop the biscuits back in the oven for a minute or two on the baking sheet and they’ll soften again.

Our other French classic is Chouquettes. We’re all familiar with profiteroles and these choux pastry buns are made the same way, except the buns are slightly bigger and they’re topped with crystal sugar rather than filled with cream and smothered in chocolate sauce. Big crystal sugar is readily available from larger supermarkets in France but for some reason it’s harder to get hold of over here so, if you have problems finding it, make your own by simply crushing up a few sugar cubes with a large heavy knife.

The jam in the sandwich; issue 15 investigates...

posted 06 February 2012 at 13:53:09

 

The jam in the sandwich

Hurrah! With this issue you receive your second silicone sandwich pan and you can begin to turn out such delicious sponge cakes that your family and friends will never allow a week to pass without demanding one, light and fragrant, from your oven.

We kick off with THE classic British sandwich, the Victoria sponge, which is really a yardstick for your cake-baking skills. Get this one right, and all the others will come naturally. With just a little experience you will know for yourselves exactly the right texture the batter should have to bake to the perfect feather-light finish. When you’ve cooked your sponges, gild the lily with really good home-made jam, a buttercream icing or fresh fruit and whipped cream. Or you could make a chocolate variation, like this one (see picture), which replaces 3tbsp of the self-raising flour with the same amount of cocoa powder, and is cooked in the same way. It’s filled with whipped cream and the topping consists of a 100g bar of dark chocolate melted together with a little butter tipped over the top and allowed to drip attractively down the sides.

The other sandwich cake in this issue, chocolate treacle, is a chiffon cake, made in the American manner with oil instead of fat. It has a denser, silkier texture than the Victoria sponge and its rich fudgy topping is almost like eating a chocolate truffle. We’d love to hear which type of sponge you prefer when you’ve tried them both!

Tarte tatin is normally a dessert made with apples, plums or figs, but the variation in this issue is a lovely green tomato tarte tatin which, topped with sliced red onion, makes an great lunch dish. And the other savoury this week is one of my favourites – a olive and tomato cake that looks rather like a lumpy savoury bread, but has a cakey, crumbly texture. Make a large one in the loaf pan or try my favourite way of using the dough – make mini loaves (freeze any surplus ones) as well as a big one – and just before you want them, reheat them gently, slice them and hand them round with drinks. Delicious! (Picture shows large and small cakes in the pans, alternatively the bleached ones shows one of the mini loaves sliced but no glass of red wine, sadly)

If cake-bread is not your thing, then give the jolly stripey pinwheel biscuits a go; they are surprisingly easy to make but your friends won’t know that. Or there are some great Danish pastries with sour cherries to kick start another fun day’s baking.

Happy cooking!

Nikki

Perfect pecan pie and much, much more in issue 14!

posted 10 January 2012 at 11:29:33

 

Perfect pecan pie and much, much more in issue 14!

This issue is stuffed with small things to munch: pretty poppy seed biscotti sandwiched together with lime-scented mascarpone, delicious oatmeal bars that are perfect for the lunchbox or for taking on picnics and, my personal favourites, the tiny parmesan and chilli biscuits. These cocktail nibbles are completely addictive – before you know it you’ve demolished a bowlful on your own (and downed a glass or two of wine as well) so it is a really good idea to double up the quantities when you are making them. You can freeze half the dough uncooked and then you have some to hand for the next time – or even tomorrow!

Sometimes you don’t feel like the floury mess that rolling out dough can create.  A good solution is to roll the dough between sheets of cling film, which has the added advantage of not making the dough too floury. Over-floured dough can make the biscuits very brittle and difficult to keep in one piece. However, dipping the edge of the cutter into a shallow saucer of flour before you stamp out shapes prevents a sticky build-up of dough on the cutting edge spoiling the shape of the biscuits or cookies. 

From the charms of the miniscule to the splendours of two party piece desserts is just a small step for Baked and Delicious readers! Do try a baked Alaska. It not only looks good but it never fails to impress with its delightful contrasts of crisp meringue, chilly ice cream and a well-flavoured sponge. Go for broke with a really good quality ice cream, too, as this is a pudding that has to be finished up right away so you might as well indulge yourself in the nicest possible way.

Ice cream is a brilliant accompaniment to my other favourite here, the gorgeous, calorifically disastrous but otherwise awesome American party piece, pecan pie. Any sensible person would obviously stick to one small slice, but you might this difficult unless you have an iron will. If you do have such a thing, you’ll find this dessert also tastes excellent in night raids on the larder when you’ve had time to work off the first piece! But you might find that other family members have already had the same idea and it’s all gone. Never mind, console yourself with one of those munchable flapjacks instead.

In the next issue, with both silicone sandwich pans in your hands, we’ll be tackling that British classic, the Victoria sponge. Although in essence it’s the simplest of cakes, making a really light and lovely one is a proof that you are becoming a eally good baker.

Happy baking!

Nikki

 

 

Tart-tastic

posted 14 November 2011 at 11:26:02

 

There are some real treats for you in Issue 7; I know, because the best bit of working on Baked and Delicious is trying out the recipes and I can’t help having favourites. A few months ago I’d probably have left making ciabatta to the Italians but now I’ve made it myself several times and it’s really very special. Messy, of course, but fun – the dough is stickier than you imagine but it smells wonderful even before it’s cooked and by the time it’s done the whole family will be in the kitchen waiting to try it. Good enough to eat on its own, it’s even better dipped into a dish of olive oil and balsamic vinegar – and of course it’s just what you need to go with a plate of sliced salami and cheese. For an authentically Italian spring taste, serve a dish of raw baby broad beans on the side.

Then there’s the mouth-watering tarta de Santiago, or traditional St James’s tart. For more than a thousand years the faithful have travelled the St James’s Way on foot and horseback to the city of Santiago di Compostela in north-western Spain. There, in the shadow of the ancient cathedral, the local bakers who greeted them knew exactly what would set the weary pilgrims to rights: a feather-light but nourishing tart consisting of a light pastry shell with an egg and almond filling and a light lemony fragrance. On the top a layer of apricot jam has the Cross of St James cunningly dusted onto it. My family loved it so much they are threatening to set off on foot for Spain if I don’t make them another one soon!

Did I mention the biscuits? Well, there are some crumbly ones in this issue – orange and cranberry, pecan and chocolate chip – and, for contrast, some delicately delicious French ones, the classic langues de chat or cat’s tongues that provide such a brilliant contrast to a bowl of ice cream or fresh fruit. It’s really hard even to allow these cookies enough time to cool before you start munching.

Meanwhile I’ve been working on the bakes for our Summer Special, which features a splendidly versatile rose silicone mould in which you can make cake, bread, jelly or even ice cream. And there’s another marvellous tart – this time a savoury asparagus one that’s perfect for a seasonal celebration.

Let’s hear what you make of the recipes! Happy baking,

Nikki

The Cheesecake Debate

posted 09 November 2011 at 17:09:48

I know lots of you are looking forward to making the cheesecake in issue 6. We’ve suggested an American-style raspberry one because it looks stunning and tastes divine, but there are a lot of different recipes about and I have started to wonder if there is an all-time favourite cheesecake.

There is the famous New York cheesecake, which the Americans would say was ‘authentic’ but I read the other day that cheesecake was popular in ancient Greece, so maybe not! The New York cheesecake is marvellously creamy, and a great favourite in my house, but you can’t go wrong with the UK version which is so easy to make and utterly delicious.

In Germany they create a sweet and sour taste using a quark cheese, not unlike our cottage cheese, while the Italians still use recipes from ancient Roman times using honey and ricotta or mascarpone. Both of these sound lovely and I’m going to find time to make them to see if they are good enough for  Baked & Delicious.

And in the meantime, I will set up a poll on Facebook so you can vote for your favourite and help us decide which ones to feature in future issues.

Keep baking!

Nikki

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