Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dan Lepard's Black Forest chocolate cake

Dan Lepard's Black Forest chocolate and cherry cake
Dan Lepard's Black Forest chocolate and cherry cake. All photography by Jill Mead for the Guardian
Getting a rich chocolate flavour in a soft cake is a touch complex, as it requires tricks to keep the flavour intense while maintaining a delicate texture. I used to half-joke that my favourite was a ready-made packet cake mix with melted chocolate stirred through before baking. Packet mixes use modified starches such as tapioca to form a gel, making the cake moist, and will forgo butter in favour of oil to keep it soft when chilled.
Now, when you try to take your favourite butter cake recipe and add expensive dark chocolate, it can often turn out horribly dry and heavy. The reason for this lies in the type of chocolate you use. If a chocolate contains 70% cocoa, it effectively contains 70% starch. So although dark chocolate appears to be fat – of the most delicious kind – it's only actually about 30% fat and the rest is starch. So adding that expensive chocolate is like adding extra flour, and bitterness, to your recipe. This is fine, just so long as you reduce the flour, and increase the sugar to balance the flavour.

Black Forest chocolate cake

Here is my version of a chocolate packet mix formula, intense with chocolate, and with a texture that stays quite soft and moist in the refrigerator. If you like a slightly lighter flavour you can use half milk and half dark chocolate instead.
For the chocolate mixture
200ml milk
25g plain flour
200g 70% dark chocolate
75ml sunflower oil
For the cake
250g caster sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
6 medium eggs
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
To finish
Kirsch or brandy
Cherry cake filling (see below)
Sweetened whipped cream
Grated chocolate
Dan step 1: Line the base of two ungreased deep round cake tins with discs of nonstick paper. 1 Line the base of two ungreased deep round sandwich cake tins with discs of nonstick paper.
Dan step 2: Put the milk in a pan with the flour and whisk well, bringing to the boil. Add chocolate 2 Put the milk in a saucepan with the flour and whisk well while bringing to the boil. Add the chocolate, broken into pieces, and the oil, then stir occasionally as the chocolate melts and the mixture takes on an oily, split appearance.
Dan step 3: Spoon the mix into a mixing bowl, add sugar & vanilla then beat until smooth and glossy. 3 Spoon the mixture into a large mixing bowl, add sugar and vanilla then beat until smooth and glossy.
Dan step 4: Beat in the eggs, two at a time, add the flour and baking powder & stir well til smooth 4 Beat in the eggs, two at a time, then add the flour and baking powder and stir well until smooth.
Dan Step 5: pour choccy into baking tin. 5 Divide the mixture between the tins and bake at 180C/160C fan/350F/gas mark 4 for about 40 minutes until a skewer poked in comes out clean. While the cakes are warm in the tin, wrap them well (I use clingfilm) then leave until cold.
Dan step 6: Take the cakes out of tins. Spoon 2-3 tbsp of kirsch on top. Put cherry mix on top 6 To assemble, take the cakes out of the tins and spoon 2-3 tbsp of kirsch over the top of each if you like. Spread half the cherry mixture over each of the cakes, blob and swirl sweetened whipped cream over one, top with the other cake and spoon more cream over the top. Grate chocolate over to finish.

Now try this ...
Cherry cake filling

Cooked fresh cherries combined with cherry jam makes this filling bright and fruit-filled. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days, and doubles as a simple sauce for ice-cream.
400g fresh ripe cherries
Juice of ½ a lemon
100ml cold water
150g cherry jam
2 tsp cornflour
1 Pit and halve the cherries then place in a saucepan with the lemon juice and water. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 10 minutes until the liquid has almost vanished and the cherries are tender.
2 Mix the jam with the cornflour, stir in with the cherries and bring to the boil again. Let the filling cool before using.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How to bake the perfect flourless chocolate cake

How do you get it creamy yet fluffy, have you made the original River Café chocolate nemesis recipe, and which other gluten-free desserts are worth a go?
Felicity Cloake's perfect flourless chocolate cake
Felicity Cloake’s perfect flourless chocolate cake. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/Guardian
This week has been a learning curve for me. I’d naively assumed that a flourless chocolate cake was the kind of thing you might make when a coeliac friend was coming for tea, possibly involving some sort of ground nuts or cornflour.
But after looking at a few recipes, it dawned on me that I was barking up completely the wrong tree. Though such cakes certainly exist, the classic flourless variety doesn’t just eschew wheat, but any sort of starchy meal, giving it a rich flavour and a dense, fudgy or creamy texture that puts it firmly in the dessert, rather than the teatime, category. (Though, of course, there’s nothing to stop you inviting that coeliac friend for dinner.)
Flourless chocolate cakes don’t tend to vary much in the ingredient department: there is chocolate, obviously, plus eggs, sugar and some sort of fat, usually butter but occasionally cream. The difference, as I discovered, comes in how they are combined and baked.

The chocolate

Justin Gellatly's flourless chocolate cake
Justin Gellatly’s flourless chocolate cake.
Most recipes use just melted chocolate, but ex-St John pastry chef Justin Gellatly’s excellently named Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding sifts in some cocoa powder as well. Having used a combination of the two with great success in my brownie and my teatime chocolate cake recipes, I know that cocoa comes in useful when you want a concentrated chocolate flavour without making the cake itself too sickly, and so it proves here. Though undeniably rich, Gellatly’s cake manages to be intensely flavoured but less cloying than the infamous River Café chocolate nemesis (the easy version, obviously; I’m not in the market for the “kind of cowpat” reported by those unfortunates who trialled the original recipe).
Gellatly and the River Café both use a relatively small amount of chocolate and cocoa in proportion to the other ingredients, which proves wise: I find both David Lebovitz’s Racines cake, from his book Ready for Dessert, and San Francisco’s Zuni Café’s signature gateau victoire a little too bitter for my taste, though those with more sophisticated palates may disagree. I do like Lebovitz’s cocoa nibs, though – these crunchy shards of roasted cocoa bean add texture and a hit of bitterness to each mouthful. If you can’t find them, however, they’re not essential.

The sugar

David Lebovitz's flourless chocolate cake
David Lebovitz’s flourless chocolate cake.
Everyone except Lebovitz uses caster sugar – he goes for granulated, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference as far as I can tell. The River Café adds most of the sugar in the form of a syrup, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, but which someone better at kitchen chemistry than me might be able to explain – syrups are often used to keep cakes soft and moist, but without flour, this seems less likely. None of the recipes I try have quite the right amount of sugar for my liking. Annie Bell’s French and flourless, from her Baking Bible, is closest, while Lebovitz and Zuni are too bitter, and the River Café and Gellatly a smidgen too sweet. As well as striking a balance with quantity, I’m going to sub in a proportion of soft brown sugar too, for a hint of caramel flavour. I’m surprised that Lebovitz and Gellatly are the only bakers to make mention of a balancing pinch of salt, which is helpful for rounding out the flavour of most sweet dishes, but absolutely essential in a rich dish like this.

The eggs and fats

River Cafe's flourless chocolate cake
River Cafe’s flourless chocolate cake.
Eggs are usually separated and whisked up independently to give the cake a moussey consistency, which saves it from overwhelming heaviness. The River Café and Zuni use whole eggs instead, the latter with two extra yolks as well, which explains why their cakes have the smoothest, densest texture. Gellatly’s cake contains a far higher proportion of eggs than any other recipe – 11 as opposed to only four in the Zuni version – which I suspect is why it is incredibly rich yet surprisingly light. Butter is the fat of choice here; only Zuni chooses whipped cream instead, diluting the chocolate flavour.


Annie Bell's flourless chocolate cake
Annie Bell’s flourless chocolate cake.
Lebovitz flavours his cake with vanilla essence and espresso, while Zuni uses just the coffee. Though I can’t pick up much in the way of vanilla, I’m surprised by how much difference even a little coffee makes – though I’d be hard-pressed to identify it as a flavour, the bitterness works brilliantly with that of the chocolate, giving the whole thing greater depth.


Zuni's flourless chocolate cake
Zuni’s flourless chocolate cake.
The River Café and Zuni both bake their versions in a water bath to moderate the temperature for a creamier result, but as this is still a cake rather than a mousse, I prefer it to have a little bit of fluffiness to it. Gellatly manages to achieve both textures in the same dish by baking two-thirds of his mixture for 30 minutes, cooling it for 20, adding the remainder and putting it back in the oven for another 20 minutes, so the bottom is drier and lighter and the top creamy and dense. It’s a really nice idea, but a bit of a faff. Instead, I’m plumping for something in between the two – a rich, dense chocolate cake with just enough fluff to make it worthy of the name.
(Serves 8-10)
260g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
260g butter
1 tbsp strong coffee
8 eggs, separated
100g soft light brown sugar
160g golden caster sugar
85g cocoa powder
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp cocoa nibs (optional)
Grease a 23cm cake tin and line with greaseproof paper. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth, then stir in the coffee and set aside to cool slightly. Heat the oven to 160C/320F/gas mark three.
Put the egg yolks and sugars in a food processor and whisk until doubled in volume. Turn the machine off and sift the cocoa powder on top of the egg mixture (don’t just dump it in or you’ll get lumps). Add the salt, then mix on a low speed until the cocoa is well combined.
Put the egg whites in another large bowl and whisk to the soft-peak stage.
Gently fold the melted chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Fold a third of the egg white into the mixture to loosen it before very carefully folding the rest in, until the mixture is no longer streaky but an even, rich brown. Sprinkle the cocoa nibs on top, if using.
Spoon into the tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until just set on top, then allow to cool in the tin on a wire rack. Serve with something tart, such as creme fraiche.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

From Jaffa Cakes to Weetabix, who really owns Britain’s favourite foods?

With the news that Britain’s biggest biscuit company United Biscuits has been sold to Turkish firm Yildiz, we chart the global drift of the UK’s kitchen-cupboard stalwarts

Big in Turkey … Jaffa Cakes.
Big in Turkey … Jaffa Cakes. Photograph: Clive Gee/PA
Those foreigners, they come over here and steal our biscuits. That was Ukip’s imaginary response to Monday’s newsflash that Britain’s biggest biscuit maker United Biscuits, guardian of the Jaffa Cake, Penguin and McVitie’s Digestives, had been gobbled up by little known Turkish food giant Yildiz for £2bn. But it’s not the first time that overseas firms have raided our larder …

Jaffa Cakes

These cakey-biscuity hybrids roll off a production line in Manchester but its parent, United Biscuits – which also owns Jacob’s, Twiglets and Mini Cheddars – is based in Hayes Middlesex. Yildiz’s perhaps less well known brands include “Turtles”, “Kat Kat, Tat” and “Bizim Mutfak” so opportunities for new biscuit variants abound.

Cadbury Dairy Milk

Cadbury Dairy Milk.
Cadbury Dairy Milk. Photograph: Linda Nylind/Guardian
It’s as British as Hershey’s these days after US food giant Kraft wrested control of Britain’s favourite chocolatier for £11.6bn in 2010. Dairy Milk is still made in Cadbury’s spiritual home of Bournville, but its paymasters are based near Chicago, in Deerfield, Illinois.

Burton’s Biscuits

Jammie Dodgers.
Jammie Dodgers. Photograph: Sarah Lee/Guardian
Ahh, Jammie Dodgers with that gooey splodge of red stuff in the middle. Jammies are part of the Burton’s Biscuit (tin) along with other dunking favourites such as Lyons fig rolls and Wagon Wheels, but the St Albans company is British no more having been sold to Canadian investors, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, for £350m last year.


Weetabix. Photograph: Alamy
The Chinese are literally eating our breakfast these days, gobbling up British cereal maker Weetabix two years ago in a deal worth £1.2bn. The takeover by state-owned Bright Food has spawned a number of spin-offs, with green tea-flavoured breakfast bars, developed in its Northamptonshire labs, to be exported to China.

Newcastle Brown Ale

Newcastle Brown Ale.
Newcastle Brown Ale. Photograph: Alamy
The carve up of UK brewing giant Scottish & Newcastle in 2008 saw “Newkie Brown” fall to Heineken. According to the Dutch brewer’s website it is one of the fastest-selling beers in the US with its “delicate fruit aroma, and caramel and nutty malt taste” making it easy to drink. That’s not how we remember it from our student days.

New Covent Garden Soup

New Covent Garden Soup.
New Covent Garden Soup. Photograph: Katherine Rose
The posh soup maker, set up by two North London entrepreneurs in 1986, is now owned by Hain Celestial, the US food group which is also home to Linda McCartney’s vegetarian sausages.

The Glenlivet

Glenlivet. Photograph: Alamy
This single malt appears to be Scottish as tartan and shortbread with the Glenlivet distillery nestled in the dramatic scenery of Speyside, but it has been owned by French drinks giant Pernod Ricard for more than a decade.

Sarson’s vinegar

Sarson's vinegar.
Sarson’s vinegar. Photograph: Alamy
The famous condiment was invented by London vinegar maker Thomas Sarson in 1794, and according to vinegar lore, you used to catch a whiff of it brewing as you approached London Bridge due to its nearby factory. Two years ago, it was one of several brands sold off by Mr Kipling owner Premier Food’s to Japan’s Mizkan Group.

Monday, January 7, 2013

There Are The Top Ten Italian Desserts

Italian cuisine varies region-to-region, you can find different traditions and different culinary expertise all throughout Italy. Italian desserts are no different. While every Italian region may have its own dessert recipe, these select few desserts have spread both nationally and internationally. These are the top ten desserts you owe it to yourself to try if you are in Italy.

10. Struffoli – Struffoli is a traditionally Neapolitan dessert that consists of marble-sized deep fried balls of dough. They are light on the inside and crunchy on the outside. They are often mixed with other sweet things such as honey. While there are a number of ways to present Struffoli, the traditional way is presenting them with bits of an orange rind, cinnamon taste confection, and honey. Struffoli is often served warm during Easter and Christmas.

9. Tartufo di Pizzo – A typical pastry product from what is now Calabria. It is a hand-shaped cake with a heart of chocolate, melted and covered with sprinkles of cocoa powder and sugar.

8. Biscotti – The full name for biscotti is biscotti di Prato (which translates into biscuits of Prato). These cakes are twice baked. While still hot and fresh in the oven, these large almond biscuits are cut. That is why they remain dry and crunchy after baking.

7. Babà – Even though it may have Polish origins, the Babà is now typically a product that you would find in Naples. They are liquid saturated yeast cakes. These are often filled with pastry cream or whipped cream.

6. Ciarduna – Traditionally from Palermo, Ciarduna are sweet pastries. The pastries are made up from an almond cookie shell that is filled with mascarpone or ricotta filling. There are also varieties that are filled with powdered sugar and chocolate frosting or covered in a chocolate shell.

5. Panna Cotta – Originally, Panna Cotta is from the Piemonte region, but you can now find it all throughout Italy. It is made by simmering together sugar, milk, and cream, and mixing them together with gelatin. You then let it cool until set. It is usually served with caramel sauce, chocolate, or wild fruit coulis.

4. Cassata Siciliana – A round sponge cake that is moistened by liqueur or fruit juices and has layers of candied peel, vanilla, chocolate filling, or ricotta cheese. It is covered with a shell of green and pink pastel colored icing, marzipan, and layered with decorative designs. Not only exceptionally tasty, but also beautiful to look at.

3. Cannoli – A delicious pastry desert. Fried pastry dough made into tube-shaped shell form. They are usually filled with a creamy, sweet filling, often containing ricotta. These are well known in the United States as well.

2. Gelato – The only thing to say about the Italian version of ice cream is that people do not actually realize what the big deal is about gelato until they try it. Creamy, rich and yet not filling in the slightest, ice cream how it should be.

1. Tiramisu – Tiramisu is perhaps the most popular Italian dessert. The original recipe comes from the northern region of Veneto. Ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a mixture of mascarpone and egg yolks, flavored with cocoa and liquor. The original recipe has since been adapted in many different varieties including cakes and puddings.

Friday, December 28, 2012

It Is Really An Easy Mango Pudding Recipe

Now you can make Thai Dessert at your home any time.Here some Thai Dessert Recipe for you.What makes it extra good is the fact that it is made with coconut milk instead of whipping cream or evaporated milk. Unlike dairy products, coconut milk brings out and enhances the taste of the mango, plus adds that touch of richness you're looking for in a pudding. Here is an easy mango pudding recipe below:

  • 2 medium to large ripe mangoes
  • 1 packet gelatine
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup good-quality coconut milk
  1. Make sure your mangoes are ripe - the fruit should be bright orange or yellow and fairly soft. Scoop out the fruit, including around the stone. Place the fruit in a food processor or blender and blitz to create a smooth mango puree. Leave the mango in the processor/blender.
  2. In a saucepan, heat up the water until it reaches a rolling bowl. Remove from heat. While stirring the water with a whisk or fork, sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the water and stir briskly in order not to have any lumps.
  3. Add the sugar to the hot water/gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve.
  4. Add this mixture to the mango in the food processor/blender. Also add the coconut milk. Blitz briefly until ingredients are combined.
  5. Pour into dessert bowls or cups and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (or up to 24 if making ahead of company coming). Serve cold on its own, or with some fresh fruit, and ENJOY!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How To Make Yogurt And Fruit Cake Easily

To delight the taste buds of your guests, nothing is better than to make the cake yourself. Leave the traditional chocolate cake and delight your guests by making a cake with yoghurt and berries.

Recipe for yogurt cake with berries and a recipe is relatively simple to make and everyone beginners. It will take about twenty minutes to make the cake batter yogurt and about thirty minutes to cook this wonder. Before starting the recipe for yogurt and fruit cake, preheat your oven to 180 ° C.

Ingredients and utensils:
  • Before anything else, it is essential to prepare the list of ingredients. Recipe for yogurt cake with berries and requires the following ingredients: A yogurt (you can focus on a 0% yogurt to lighten the recipe or yogurt with berries), two egg yolks, two egg whites, a yoghurt pot with oil, three flour yogurt, a yogurt pot caster sugar, a packet of vanilla sugar and a packet of yeast and 450 grams of red fruits.
  • To complete the recipe for yogurt cake and berries, you’ll need a drummer and a cake pan.
  • To start cake recipe yoghurt and berries, pour into a large container, plain yogurt or yogurt with berries and then dilute it with all the oil pot and the pot of caster sugar, the three jars of flour and yoghurt sachet of yeast. Separate the white from yellow. Put the yolks in the above mixture and put a pinch of salt in the blanks as you go in snow.
  • Stir in egg whites and mix in preparation for a smooth paste then add the berries. Butter the mold and pour the batter. Bake for about 30 minutes.
  • The red fruits are available at a certain time of year. Thus, to make the recipe for yogurt cake and berries in the summer season not, you can buy packages of frozen berries to your supermarket shelf as usual.
  • Moreover, nothing prevents you to replace the berries with red fruit jam. In this case, instead of adding 450 grams of red fruit, it will put four large tablespoons of red fruit jam.