Cakes & Bakes: Double espresso brazil nut cake

Slice of home-made double espresso brazil nut cake and double espresso in vintage 'Black Velvet' china | H is for Home

We’ve been enjoying a very successful British summer of sport so far with Andy Murray winning Wimbledon (and Heather Watson the mixed doubles), Danny Willett taking the golf US Masters title and Chris Froome dominating the Tour de France. The England cricket team have been performing well, Lewis Hamilton leads the Formula One championship… and our Olympic prospects are looking bright.

Boiling milk and coffee in a saucepan | H is for Home

Chopped brazil nuts | H is for Home

What could we incorporate into this week’s Cakes & Bakes to mark the start of the afore mentioned Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro? Why brazil nuts of course!

Double espresso brazil nut cake mixture in a pair of round cake tins | H is for Home

Cooked double espresso brazil nut cake layers cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

I trawled all my cook books and the internet and eventually found Dan Lepard’s double espresso brazil nut cake recipe in the Guardian website’s Food & drink section. If you’re a fan of coffee & walnut cake, you’ll love this!

Making the sandwich filling for the double espresso brazil nut cake | H is for Home

Chocolate icing filling ingredients | H is for Home

His instructions call for a coffee water icing but I found a chocolate filling that I fancied (from my Little Books of Delight: Chocolate Cakes), so I combined the two together. I also added some whole and chopped brazil nuts to garnish the top. Serve it with a double espresso, what else?!

Iced & decorated double espresso brazil nut cake | H is for Home

Double espresso brazil nut cake
Serves 8
Write a review
Print
For the cake
  1. 100ml/3½fl oz milk
  2. 2 level tsps instant coffee
  3. 1 tbsp fine-ground roasted coffee beans
  4. 175g/7oz butter, softened
  5. 100g/4oz light soft brown sugar
  6. 100g/4oz caster sugar
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 100g/4oz plain flour
  9. 100g/4oz spelt, rye or wholemeal flour
  10. 2 level tsps baking powder
  11. 75g/3oz brazil nuts, finely chopped
For the chocolate cream filling
  1. 100g/4oz butter
  2. 25g/1oz cornflour
  3. 25g/1oz cocoa powder
  4. 300ml/½pt milk
  5. 50g/2oz dark chocolate
  6. 100g/4oz caster sugar
  7. 8 whole brazil nuts
  8. 10g/⅓oz chopped brazil nuts
  9.  
  10. Home-made double espresso brazil nut cake ingredients
  11.  
For the cake
  1. Butter two 20cm Victoria sponge tins and line the bases with discs of non-stick baking paper
  2. Combine the milk, instant coffee and ground coffee in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave until warm
  3. Beat the butter, brown sugar and caster sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time
  4. Beat in the coffee mixture until evenly combined
  5. Sift the two flours and baking powder together two or three times, then beat this through with the chopped brazil nuts
  6. Divide the mixture equally between the tins, heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes
  8. Remove from the cake tins and cool completely on a wire rack
For the filling
  1. Cream the butter until light and fluffy
  2. Mix the cornflour and cocoa with enough milk to make a smooth paste
  3. Put the chocolate and remaining milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil
  4. Pour on to the cornflour and cocoa mixture
  5. Return to the pan and simmer for at least 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the sugar and continue to simmer until the mixture reaches the consistency of a thick custard
  6. Cool, then gradually beat the custard into the butter
  7. Use some of the filling to sandwich the two cake layers together before using the rest to cover the top and sides
  8. Decorate with the whole and chopped brazil nuts
Adapted from The Guardian: Food & drink
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Apricot dartois

Slice of home-made apricot dartois | H is for Home

I’ve been looking at a tin of apricots in our store cupboard for about 2 years. Every time I opened the door it said, “use me, use me”, but I always reached for something else. But not this week – it was finally the apricots’ time!

Frangipane ingredients | H is for Home Home-made frangipane | H is for Home

I decided on a recipe from Michel Roux’s Desserts: A Lifelong Passion and made an apricot dartois.

Ready-made puff pastry | H is for Home

Dartois is traditionally two layers of puff pastry with a sandwiched layer of frangipane or jam. It can occasionally contain a savoury filling.

Making an apricot dartois base | H is for Home

It’s quite a simple recipe – especially if you’re using ready-made puff pastry – and the pastry cutting is very straightforward too. Don’t be put off by the precision! The amount of frangipane made in the given recipe is HUGE! I halved the recipe (what’s half of 5 eggs? I just used 3 medium-sized ones) it still made half a kilo of the stuff. I set aside the 150 grams needed for the recipe then portioned up the rest into small lidded tubs and froze it all for use at a later date.

Making an apricot dartois pastry lid | H is for Home

The resulting dartois is very attractive and very delicious. I don’t think it would look out of place in a French patisserie’s shop window!

Uncooked apricot dartois | H is for Home

I used tinned apricots, but peaches, pears, plums or figs also work really well. If you’ve got fresh fruit, you can easily poach it beforehand in syrup.

Cooked home-made apricot dartois | H is for Home

Serve warm or cold with a fruit coulis, cream or ice cream.

Apricot dartois
Write a review
Print
For the frangipane [Makes 1.15kg/2lbs 10oz. I halved the recipe and still had enough for 3 portions]
  1. 250g/9oz butter, at room temperature
  2. 500g/1lb 2oz 'tant pour tant' (equal quantities of ground almonds and icing sugar sifted together)
  3. 50g/2oz plain flour
  4. 5 eggs
  5. 50ml/2 fl oz rum (optional)
For the dartois
  1. 1 500g pack of ready-made puff pastry (or you could make your own)
  2. 150g/5oz frangipane
  3. eggwash (1 egg yolk mixed with 1 soup spoon of milk and a pinch of salt)
  4. 1 tin apricot halves, drained (or you could poach your own)
  5. Icing sugar for dusting
  6.  
  7. Home-made apricot dartois ingredients
  8.  
To make the frangipane
  1. Beat the butter until very soft
  2. Still beating, add the tant pour tant and flour
  3. Add the eggs - one at a time - beating well between each addition until the frangipane is light an homogeneous
  4. Stir in the rum
To make the dartois
  1. On a lightly floured work surface, roll 225g/8oz of the pastry into a 27cm x 12cm/11" x 5" rectangle
  2. Roll this pastry around the rolling pin, then unroll it on to a baking sheet lightly dampened with cold water. Prick the pastry with a fork
  3. Using a spoon, spread the frangipane along the length of the pastry leaving a clear 2cm/¾" border on either side
  4. Brush these pastry borders with eggwash
  5. Pat dry the apricots and arrange them on the frangipane
  6. Roll out the remaining pastry into a 27cm x 13cm/11" x 5½" rectangle
  7. Fold the pastry in half lengthways without applying pressure
  8. Make incisions down the length of the pastry about every 4mm/⅙" with the heel of a chef's knife, leaving a 2cm/¾" strip intact on the two outside edges
  9. Unfold the pastry into its original shape and drape it over the rolling pin and unroll it on to the apricot-filled rectangle
  10. Lightly press the edges together with your fingertips and refrigerate the dartois for 30 minutes
  11. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/345ºF/gas mark 4
  12. Using a chef's knife, trim off about 3mm/⅛" in pastry along the length of the rectangle
  13. Delicately and sparingly brush the top of the pastry with egg wash
  14. Liberally brush the sides with more egg wash
  15. With the tip of a small, sharp knife, make light, diagonal incisions in the borders, then along the edges
  16. Bake for 25 minutes. Increase the temperature to 195ºC/380ºF/gas mark 6, dust the dartois with icing sugar and return it to the oven for 1-2 minutes, or place it under a hot salamander/grill for a few seconds until beautifully glazed
Notes
  1. Roux recommends serving it with a little jug of red fruit coulis. I prefer it with pouring cream.
Adapted from Desserts: A Lifelong Passion
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Daktyla

Home-made daktyla | H is for Home

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a small jar of black onion seeds with the plan of using it in and sprinkled on a home-made loaf of onion bread. Little did I know that onion seeds aren’t actually… onion seeds! I tasted a pinch expecting a blast of onion flavour, it had a slight onion/black pepper/earthy taste, not altogether unpleasant though.

Bubbling bread sponge | H is for Home

When I looked it up, black onion seeds are actually nigella seeds; they’re also commonly known as black cumin or kalonji. Love in a Mist, which grows on our allotment, is a very close relation. I wonder whether it’s seeds are also edible.

Mixture of sponge, flour, olive oil and seeds | H is for Home

Anyhow, since my onion loaf idea was scuppered (at least for the time being) I looked into what I could make using my black onion seeds. That’s when I came across daktyla, a Greek/Cypriot/Turkish rustic bread.

Rising daktyla dough | H is for Home

The seeds are mixed with sesame seeds both in and atop a sort of tear-and-share loaf made up of rows of dough. Δάχτυλα, (daktyla in Greek) means ‘fingers’.

Daktyla dough balls | H is for Home Daktyla dough batons

I just happened to have a large bag of black sesame seeds that I bought in a Chinese supermarket, so I already had all the necessary ingredients in stock.

Sprinkling seeds on daktyla dough | H is for Home

There was quite a lot of proofing time involved – an hour for the sponge, 90 minutes for the first proof, another 90 for the second – but it meant that I could get on and do other things in between time.

Details of cooked daktyla | H is for Home

It was delicious with baba ganoush and salad. I imagine it would go down well with hummus, feta and Anari cheeses, olives and cured meats.

Daktyla
Serves 8
Write a review
Print
For the sponge
  1. 130g/4½oz strong white bread flour
  2. 70g/2½oz cornmeal/polenta
  3. 7g/¼oz instant yeast
  4. 300ml/10½ fl oz warm water
For the dough
  1. 240g/8½oz strong white bread flour
  2. 1½ tsp salt
  3. 2tbsp olive oil
  4. 30g/1oz toasted sesame seeds + 1tbsp to sprinkle over the loaf
  5. 1 tablespoon nigella seeds + 1tsp to sprinkle over the loaf
  6.  
  7. Home-made daktyla ingredients
  8.  
For the sponge
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the strong white bread flour, cornmeal, yeast and warm water making sure there are no lumps (A Danish dough whisk is perfect for this job). Allow the mixture rest for an hour, or until it's foamy and full of bubbles
For the dough
  1. Combine the remaining ingredients into the sponge and knead -- by hand, mixer, food processor or bread machine -- to form a soft, supple dough, adding a small amount of extra water or flour as needed
  2. Place the dough in a greased bowl, and cover it with a proof cover or cling film. Allow it to rise for 1½ hours, or until almost doubled in size
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured or greased work surface and divide the dough into 8 pieces. Round each piece into a ball, then shape each into a baton about 10cm/4-in in length
  4. Grease or line with parchment, a 46 x 33cm / 18 x 13-in baking sheet
  5. Place the ovals of dough side by side (long sides almost touching each other) on the sheet, leaving about 2½cm/1-in between each; they'll fill the pan end to end
  6. Cover the baking sheet and allow the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it's expanded enough so that the ovals are touching each other
  7. Brush the top of the dough very lightly with water (or spray it gently), and sprinkle with a mixture of toasted sesame seeds and nigella seeds
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 190ºC/375°F/Gas mark for 25-30 minutes, until it's golden brown
  9. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Flatbread

Detail of home-made flatbread | H is for Home

I’ve made a few different types of flatbread in the past, but this one is by far the quickest and easiest to date – probably the best tasting too!

Milk and ghee in a glass measuring jug | H is for Home

Being a flatbread, there’s no added yeast – so no long proofing times; there’s also no heavy kneading.

Flatbread dough divided into quarters | H is for Home Rolling out flatbread dough into rounds | H is for Home

You can make the dough in advance and then fry off when required. You could even roll out each flatbread, layer between parchment paper, wrap in cling film and freeze for up to 6 months.

Home-made flatbread | H is for Home

It’s so flexible when it comes to serving suggestions, we don’t know where to start. You can have it with a selection of dips or fill with salads, roast vegetables, kebabs etc. They’d be great served alongside Indian, Mediterranean or Middle Eastern cuisine – they’re so versatile

Stuffed home-made flatbread | H is for Home

For today’s first outing I tried it with a delicious smoked humous and Justin plumped for a spicy Moroccan chicken affair. We both really fancy it with babaganoush – so it just might be on the menu again tomorrow!

Flatbread
Yields 4
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 300g/10½oz strong bread flour flour (level cups, unsifted, not packed), plus extra for dusting
  2. ½ tsp salt
  3. 50g/1¾oz ghee
  4. 180ml/6 fl oz milk
  5. 2-3 tbsp olive oil or ghee (for frying)
  6.  
  7. Home-made flatbread ingredients
  8.  
Instructions
  1. Put the butter and ghee into a measuring jug and heat in the microwave until the ghee is just melted. Stir to combine
  2. In a large mixing bowl, bring together the flour, salt and ghee/milk mixture into a smooth dough. Add a little more flour if sticky
  3. Lightly sprinkle a work surface with flour, turn out the dough and knead for a minute or two
  4. Wrap in clingfilm and rest at room temperature for about half an hour
  5. Sprinkle the work surface again with a little flour, remove the dough from the clingfilm and divide the dough into 4 equal pieces
  6. Form each piece into a ball and roll out into about ⅛" / ⅓cm thick rounds
  7. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil/ghee in a heavy-bottomed skillet pan over a medium-high heat
  8. Carefully lay one of the flattened dough rounds in the pan and fry for about a minute. Flip over and cook the other side, pressing down with a spatula where it puffs up
  9. Stack the cooked flatbreads on top of each other - the moisture helps soften the surface, making them even more pliable
  10. Serve straight away or they can be reheated by re-frying on low heat, 30 seconds each side
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Elderflower shortbread

Home-made elderflower shortbread petticoat tails | H is for Home

It’s elderflower season again – one of the classic smells and tastes of summer!

Sprigs of elderflowers infusing into caster sugar | H is for Home

We see those frothy white flowers growing wild all around and can’t bear to see them going to waste.

Antique shortbread mould floured with polenta | H is for Home

We’ve already made a large batch of elderflower cordial which will last us a good few months. In the past, there’s also been elderflower champagne and elderflower cakes too. This week, we decided to try some biscuits – elderflower shortbread to be precise.

Home-made elderflower shortbread round prior to being cooked | H is for Home

There are various methods for incorporating the flowers’ flavour into the biscuit. We experimented with three – using cordial as one of the ingredients, infusing the sugar with elderflower bunches and finally incorporating the tiny petals into the biscuit mix itself.

Home-made

We found that cordial made the biscuits a bit hard, crystalline and possibly too sweet. The infused sugar runs the risk of lots of creepy crawlies escaping into the sugar (even if you shake carefully) – and the resulting elderflower flavour wasn’t intense enough for us. The last technique worked best for us – by quite a long way actually, so that would be our recommendation. The resulting shortbread was moist and crumbly with a wonderful distinctive flavour – give them a go before those flowers disappear!

Elderflower shortbread
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 elderflower heads
  2. 75g/3oz caster sugar
  3. 175g/6oz plain flour
  4. 75g/3oz fine semolina
  5. 175g/6oz butter
  6.  
  7. Home-made elderflower shortbread ingredients
  8.  
Instructions
  1. Make sure the elderflower heads are free of insects and brown bits
  2. Using scissors, carefully snip off the little flower heads add to the sugar and stir in. Allow to infuse for about an hour
  3. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas mark 2
  4. If using a mould, sprinkle it with semolina to prevent the dough from sticking
  5. Put the elderflower-infused sugar, flour, semolina and butter into a food processor and combine for about 30 seconds or until lumps begin to form
  6. Turn the mixture out on to a lightly floured work surface and bring together into a ball
  7. Press the dough evenly into your mould (or baking tin). If using a mould, turn the dough out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment
  8. Prick the top with a fork to prevent it from rising
  9. Bake for about an hour or until the shortbread just begins to brown
  10. Remove from the oven on to a wire cooling rack
  11. While still a bit warm score the top with a knife into petticoat tails/portions
  12. Once cooled completely, remove from the tin and cut into pieces
  13. Store in an airtight container for up to a week
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Cornmeal loaf

Home-made cornmeal loaf | H is for Home

Dan Lepard is probably my favourite bread & pastry baker. I’ve cut out and kept some of his recipes that were published in his long-running (now sadly ended) column in the Guardian Weekend Magazine. Luckily, they’re all still available in the Guardian’s online archive.

Whisked wet cornmeal | H is dfor Home

I’ve had his tasty cornmeal baps recipe bookmarked for a few weeks, planning to give them a go. Instead of baps,I decided to turn them into a cornmeal loaf instead.

Mixing cornmeal, egg, honey, yoghurt and cold water | H is for Home

The recipe makes two 500g/ oz loaves. I found the dough a little on the wet side and the cooked loaf a bit too sweet so I’ve ever so slightly tweaked the recipe below. Saying that, this is one of the best loaves I’ve ever baked.

Mixing cornmeal loaf dough by hand | H is for Home

It has a great, slightly springy crumb and crisp crust.

Cornmeal loaf dough in a mixing bowl | H is for Home

Lepard recommends pairing it with fried chicken – building your own (probably far superior) McChicken Sandwich or KFC Fillet Burger. Justin also likes the idea of slicing it for a smoked bacon sandwich.

Two cornmeal loaves having a final proofing in loaf tins | H is for Home

Being a vegetarian, I might pair it with my home-made hummus or grilled Halloumi for its tangy saltiness.

Two risen, uncooked cornmeal loaves sprinkled with cornmeal before going in the oven | H is for Home

What would you pair it with?

Two cornmeal loaves cooling in their tins on a wire rack | H is for Home

Cornmeal loaf
Yields 2
Write a review
Print
Cook Time
35 min
Cook Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 100g/3½oz coarse cornmeal or polenta
  2. 300ml/10½ fl oz boiling water
  3. 100g/3½oz plain yoghurt
  4. 400ml/14 fl oz cold water
  5. 1 medium egg
  6. 30g/1oz agave nectar or honey
  7. 7g/¼oz fast-action yeast
  8. 1kg/2.2lb strong white flour
  9. 50g/1¾oz cornflour
  10. 3 tsp fine salt
  11. Cornmeal to finish
  12.  
  13. Home-made cornmeal loaf ingredients
  14.  
Instructions
  1. Put the cornmeal in a large mixing bowl, pour on the boiling water, whisk and leave for 10 minutes
  2. Whisk in the yoghurt, water, egg and honey until smooth
  3. Stir in the yeast. Add the flour, cornflour and salt, and mix to a smooth dough. Cover and leave for 10 minutes
  4. Lightly oil a patch of worktop. Gently knead the dough on it for 10-12 seconds then return it to the bowl. Cover and leave an hour
  5. If making 2 medium-sized loaves, divide the dough into 2 pieces of about 500g each. Shape into ovals with a little flour before putting into greased loaf tins. Leave to rise for about 90 minutes
  6. Heat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan/400ºF/gas mark 6 and sprinkle with cornmeal. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden
Adapted from Dan Lepard: Step-by-step baking
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
Save