Tuesday, 30 September 2014

We Should Cocoa - The Jam Round-up

Jam Chocolate round-up
Well it seems jam isn't as popular as I'd thought it would be - either that or you've all decamped to the beach to enjoy the rather brilliant September weather we've been having in the UK this year. So here goes with we the small but very select number of We Should Cocoa entries this month. Do share the love and visit the blogs to find out more.

Hannah from Honey and Dough is hosting next month, so do pop along to her blog tomorrow to see what challenge she's set.

Janine over at Cake of the Week was doing a tour of friends and family early in the month and made some blackcurrant macarons to take along with her. Filled with a ganache made from white chocolate and blackcurrant jam, I'm feeling rather sorry I wasn't one of the lucky people being visited.

Suelle over at Mainly Baking always comes up with a real treat and having seen her hazelnut, apricot and chocolate tart, I am smitten. Inspired by the much beloved Bakewell tart Suelle has used foraged hazelnuts instead of almonds with apricot jam and chocolate of course.

Jam ganache seems to be particularly popular this month and Dom from Belleau Kitchen tried some out to top his beautifully marbled mini white chocolate and raspberry jam loaf.

I am super impressed with Kate's mixed berry "jaffa' cakes over at The Gluten Free Alchemist. They look just as they should I reckon, only much much better. The base is made from a sticky rice flour and the jelly is made from Kate's own autumnal berry jam.

September is such a wonderful month for nature's bounty and fruit in particular. Alida over at My Little Italian Kitchen has used pears for her entry in this chocolate and pear cake. She has been rather clever with her use of jam which isn't at first very obvious.

I used the chocolate blackberry jam I made to sandwich this blackberry chocolate cake. I had a go at feathering for the very first time with some blackberry ganache drizzled over dark chocolate.

A beautiful stack of pancakes comes next, made my Johanna of a Green Gourmet Giraffe with help from her daughter, Sylvia. Layered with chocolate, jam and bananas, these wonders are entirely vegan.

Huckleberry jam sounds very exotic to my English ears, but over in the States it's a little more familiar. Rebecca from BakeNQuilt has used it to very good effect in these mini huckleberry white chocolate cheesecake parfaits.

Next up is this spectacular tunnel of jam chocolate bundt cake from Laura of I'd Much Rather Bake Than ... Laura has become a little obsessed with Bundt tins and this is her latest. As you cut into it, you'll find a layer of her homemade blackberry jam sitting just under the surface - mmm.

In a bid to use up some lingonberry jam, Katie over at The Perfect Brownie decided that taking part in this month's challenge was the way to go. This delicious sounding lingonberry jam cheesecake brownie was the result.

And just in time Jill from Lapin D'Or and More got in with her exotic white chocolate and cardamom rice pudding with rose and raspberry sauce. Creamy rice pudding with a pool of red sauce made with rose petal jam sounds like it would satisfy my inner child as well as my more sophisticated adult self.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Chocolate Pear Cardamom Upside-Down Cake

Harvest festival meets Random Recipes meets Clandestine Cake Club in this post. As we had a hard challenge for August, Dom has gone easy on us this month and it's back to the basics of picking a random book from our collection and then a random recipe from that book. I used my usual Eat Your Books method of selection and came up with a recipe for a simple chocolate pear upside-down cake in Jennifer Donovan's book Chocolate. Happily this pick coincided with a Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club gathering on Thursday where the theme was harvest festival. And to tie it all together in a nice little bundle, my mother turned up with a jar of pears that she'd just poached. All sorted.

I had to add my own twist of course, so apart from using poached pears rather than raw ones, I substituted the vanilla for cardamom. The cake was fudgy and chocolatey, but the cardamom and pear stopped it being too sweet and sickly. It was in fact a delicious cake I will be repeating and the good folk at cake club seemed to enjoy it.

This is how I made:

Chocolate Pear Cardamom Upside-Down Cake

  • Melted 200g butter with 200g of dark 70% chocolate in a large saucepan over low heat.
  • Stirred in 150g cardamom sugar (golden caster sugar) and left to cool a little.
  • Beat in three duck eggs (large hens eggs will be fine) with 1 drop of the excellent Holy Lama cardamom extract.
  • Sifted in 120g self-raising flour and stirred gently until just combined.
  • Sprinkled 3 tbsp of dark brown sugar over the base of a 9" round silicon mould.
  • Lay 12 pear quarters on top of the sugar then poured the batter over the top.
  • Baked at 180℃ for 30 minutes until just done.
  • Left to cool for about ten minutes, then turned the cake upside down onto a serving plate.

The harvest festival theme resulted in a bounty of fruit and vegetable cakes. The cake shown here completely stole the show, but they were all very tasty and yes, I did manage to try a piece of each! An independent wine merchant with accompanying champagne and coffee bar, Bin Two in Padstow, was our venue and some of the participants seemed much more interested in the wine than they did in the cake. The shop included a cafe bar, so we all crowded and got up close and cosy. Thanks as always to Ellie Mitchell for organising another splendid cakey gathering.

Bin Two were hosting a Macmillan Coffee Morning the following day, so I also brought along a few oaty ginger biscuits. These were quite fiery as they were not only flavoured with ground ginger but included crystallised ginger too. CT got almost grumpy when he was only allowed to try one.

So this is another success I put down to Dom and his Random Recipes over at Belleau Kitchen - such a fun and interesting challenge - most of the time anyway!

I had a bit of a dilemma trying to decide which of this month's seasonal recipes should be sent to Simple and in Season - there have been so many good ones. But despite the rather prosaic nature of pear after the colours and flavours of blackberry and plum, this cake deserves recognition. Nazima of Franglais Kitchen is hosting this month on behalf of Ren Behan.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Miso Muffins with Kale, Carrot and Courgette

If you haven't heard of the baking challenge Alpha Bakes, you may have had less of a headache than I did this month. A random letter is generated each month and we have to find something to bake where a main ingredient or name begins with that letter. When it happens to be C there is no problem for me - everything I bake has chocolate in it, but when it's something a little more obscure such as Z, it becomes  difficult. This month's letter is K. Although kiwi fruit came to mind initially and when I looked in my recipe books I found a few obscurely named recipes beginning with K, I ended up going with kale. Despite the pigeons, kale is one of the few crops we've managed to grow this year and having initially dismissed this as an ingredient, I decided I really wanted to use some in a bake. Once I'd decided that, it was easy. I resorted to my trusty savoury brunch muffin recipe and adapted it to suit.

It just so happens (and in a timely manner for #OrganicSeptember), that I was sent a jar of Yutaka organic classic miso paste to try out. Miso is no stranger in this household and we have been using it for more years than I care to remember. We make miso soup, use it instead of stock in our other soups and sometimes just drink it with hot water in a mug. It's meant to be incredibly good for you. However, other than soup, I've not been very adventurous with it. So why not try it out in muffins I thought? As soon as the idea crossed my mind, I knew it was a good one and I was right. The umami flavour it gave to the muffins was perfect. Miso has this uncanny ability to bring out the flavours of other ingredients and that's exactly what it did here.

For those not in the know, miso originates from Japan and is a paste made from fermented soy beans and grains. It's full of umami flavours and is a fabulous ingredient for all, but especially vegetarians and vegans. It's quite salty so a little goes a long way. We always buy an unpasturised version so we get a dose of the beneficial enzymes which are destroyed by the pasturisation process. We add it to soup after it has been taken off the heat and has stopped bubbling. This jar of Yutaka organic miso paste has no information regarding pasteurisation, so I have to assume it has been treated. As I was baking with it, this didn't really matter. The strap line on the jar reading "good food made Japan-easy" made me laugh.  It is available via Sainsbury's and costs £2.99.

With the miso, I really didn't need to add any cheese. But I had some goat's cheese in the fridge which was crying out to be used, so I sliced that on top to give a nice crusty surface and it did make for an extra level of yumminess. I probably didn't need to add the cocoa either, but these just wouldn't be my signature brunch muffins without it.

K is for Kale for Alpha Bakes over at The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes.

Due to the goats cheese nearly running out of the fridge, I am entering these into the No Food Waste challenge over at Chef Mireille's East West Realm. This is a monthly event coordinated by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary is also hosting Extra Veg this month on behalf of Fuss Free Flavour and Utterly Scrummy Food for Families. Stuffed full of veg, these muffins are a great way of getting extra veg into the diet.

In addition to the cheese that needed using up, the kale, carrot, courgette and garlic used were all grown by us, making them even tastier as well as suitable for Credit Crunch Munch. Hosted by Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours, you'll find it this month over at Maison Cupcake.

print recipe

Miso Muffins with Kale, Carrot & Courgette
Ideal for breakfast, brunch or lunch boxes these savoury muffins are very tasty and packed full of goodness. They are also simple to make.
  • 300g flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 kale leaves - finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot - grated
  • 1 medium courgette - grated
  • 1 clove garlic - finely chopped
  • 2 eggs - large (I used duck eggs)
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 100ml yogurt
  • 80ml milk
  • 1 rounded tsp miso
  • 100g goat's cheese
1. Mix the miso with a little of the yogurt, then mix in the rest along with the oil and milk.2. Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir in the kale, carrot, courgette and garlic. Make a well in the centre.3. Break in the eggs and stir from the middle outwards, gradually adding in the yogurt and miso mixture until everything is just incorporated.4. Divide the mixture between 12 large silicone muffin moulds.5. Cut the cheese first into 12 and then each piece into three or four. Lay these pieces on top of the muffins.6. Bake at 180℃ for 30 to 35 minutes when the muffins should be well risen and the cheese golden. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12


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