Banket

P1000807Some of my family come from the Netherlands and every year relatives there would send us a box of goodies. Salted Liquorice, chocolate (usually in the shape of our initials), a Delft tile and Banket. Banket is a sausage roll-shaped pastry with an almond filling.  It is not something I have seen anywhere else and so after a while when family passed away and we no longer received these boxes I would think longingly of this pastry.

Fast forward a few years and I saw a recipe in a magazine for Galette des Rois.  It looked interesting, it was disc shaped and had an almond filling.  I baked it but found it too greasy. And so I tweaked the recipe….and tweaked it….and tweaked some more. And then I thought – the filling is rather similar to that of Banket, why don’t I tweak a bit more and try to recreate this pastry….and so I did. And so, here, dear readers, is my version of that pastry.

Ingredients:

70 butter at room temperature

80g golden caster sugar

1 medium egg, lightly beaten

300g ground almonds

1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur

1 tablespoon almond extract

400g ready-made puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 190ºC(fan oven).

Unroll the pastry and place it on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.  Cut the pastry in half along the width and slightly separate the two pieces of pastry. (Yes, I hang my head in shame, I always buy ready-made pastry, life is too short to make my own).

Beat the butter with the caster sugar using an electric whisk, until light and fluffy. Whisk in the egg.  Stir in the ground almonds, the alcohol and the almond extract.

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Divide the mixture in two, and spoon over the centre of each of the pieces of pastry.

Lightly wet the edges of the pastry with a bit of water and carefully fold the pastry over the filling, along the ends and the length, pressing carefully to seal the edges.  Each piece should look like a large thick sausage roll. If you’re feeling posh, brush some eggwash over the top of the pastry (it is worth it, it makes it look beautifully golden).

Place in oven for 30 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.  Breathe in that lovely almond fragrance!  This can be eaten hot or cold, but is really best when lukewarm.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

 

 

 

Vanilla Cupcakes with Fondant Icing

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My thoughts are turning back to baking.  Apart from the greed factor – I LOVE cake – there is something very comforting and satisfying about baking. It’s a combination of the idea, combining the ingredients, the delicious aroma as it bakes, and the wonderful end result. I was torn between tweaking my brownie recipe and baking cupcakes.  The latter won.

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Vanilla – or plain – cupcakes have their moments, and the recipe I found includes ground almonds in the ingredients, which just gives these lovely cakes their extra ooomf!  In fact, I prefer this version to any previous ones and it’s super-easy to make.

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I might have mentioned before that I am an icing girl, and there are not many times I prefer a cake un-iced.  With this particular recipe I like to use a fondant icing, as it compliments rather than detracts from, the cake itself.  I confess that I buy my fondant icing, it is just so much easier to open a packet and roll it out. With the help of a stencil and some edible lustre in blue, pink and gold (of course, gold!!) I have the finished result.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you all a peaceful weekend 🙂

 

Whisky Mac Cake

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I haven’t baked for a while because the horrors of real life intervened. But in a desperate attempt to restore some sort of normality to my life, I have been going over all my recipes.  It has been tempting to rely on an old favourite.  A many times tried and trusted recipe.  But curiosity overcame me when I saw a recipe for a sticky ginger loaf……and I thought “how can I tweak that recipe….”

A whisky mac is a lovely warming gingery drink and so I thought I’d see how it translated into cake form.  I suspect, like the boozy banana bread recipe, that it will be subtle, but hopefully give the cake just a little something extra.

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This recipe still needs tweaking (I can’t help myself, can I!). I want to swap the butter for oil, maybe add extra dates, and see how I go from there. In the meantime, it is a lovely gingery, slightly sticky cake. Mmmmm….breathe in deeply.

Just right for these “not quite yet summer” days.

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Boozy Banana Bread (adults only)

I bet you’re all sick of me posting about this banana bread.  Go on, admit it!  This will be the final time I post about it (says she) as I think the recipe has been tweaked as far as I can go.  The cake is not strictly boozy but has alcohol in it.  The flavour is subtle, giving it that extra je ne sais quoi.  I have researched this recipe and each version I see of it is slightly different.  I wanted to make it with all the elements that suited me and so, with the help of some over-ripe bananas I have been experimenting, and finally here it is.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (160°C Fan).  Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment (I love the loaf pan liners from Lakeland Limited)

Mash 3 large or 4 small over-ripe bananas, mix in 50ml bourbon or whiskey. I have used Jack Daniels in this one, but have previously used Jim Beam Maple, and Jamesons, all of which work particularly well with the flavour of the cake.

In a separate bowl, mix 20g cake flour with 200g milk chocolate buttons – or chopped chunks of milk chocolate.  I like Galaxy chocolate for this.  I have tried the recipe using dark chocolate, but really think milk chocolate works better here.

With an electric whisk, whisk together 2 large eggs, 80g golden caster sugar, 100g light muscovado sugar and 120ml light olive oil (or sunflower oil). Whisk till well blended, about 3-5 minutes.

Add 220g cake flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3 generous teaspoons of baking powder.  Mix together gently and then give it a good whisk again. Fold in the chocolate with remaining flour and gently mix.  Pour into loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes.

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It is done when a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave in the pan for five minutes and then remove from the pan and liner and leave on a rack to cool.

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Whatever you are doing, wherever you are, I hope you have a lovely peaceful weekend 🙂

 

 

The “C” Word (Part 4)

What do you do when you’ve had a long stressful week at work and only two hours sleep? You think it’s a good idea to unwrap and ice your Christmas cake! Yes, with barely a brain cell, and absolutely no artistic ability, it seemed like a very good idea.

Over the years I have tried various toppings / icing / decoration for my cake. Now I am an icing girl. Through and through.  Without icing there is usually very little point to anything.  I am a “would you like a piece of cake with your icing?” type of girl. Less is most definitely not more, when it comes to icing!

I do think a classic royal icing is the best, but we all remember the tooth-shattering hardness of this, and so the soft royal icing took over. I love this, you  need no talent, just put it on the cake, rough it up, and it looks like lovely peaks of snow. Royal icing however is made with egg, and I hate egg. Did I mention how much I hate egg? Bleurgh. And somehow I manage to smell the egg, when I have made the royal icing, with every mouthful of cake I detect that egg.  And guess what, fondant icing is made with egg too…..so this put me right off making my own fondant icing.

I don’t like to buy ready made icing, I need to feel I have actually made the effort, and succeeded. But, in this instance, reader, I caved. I gave in and bought ready made fondant icing.

And so, to the cake, which has been wrapped up tightly for weeks, just waiting for this day. A layer of apricot jam, and then a layer of marzipan:

and then topped with a layer of white fondant icing:

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This, you understand is just too plain. I must decorate it. Being completely devoid of talent doesn’t prevent me from having a wild imagination.  Past experience however has taught me to scale down my ambition, and I am determined, one day, to master a basic form of cake decoration so that it doesn’t look like a three-year old has done it. I have to admit, I am not doing very well on this front.  This year I set myself the task of making a fondant icing bow. I have watched countless YouTube videos of how to do this. I have even had a few trial runs (no photographic evidence!). Today it was now or never. I am not happy with my bow, it’s a bit rough around the edges, it’s just not quite right, but I have done worse.  I wanted to dust some edible lustre on the fondant ribbon, but it had a pinkish tinge to it, and didn’t look right. The blue one didn’t sparkle and shine, but somehow ended up making the ribbon look as if it was made from suede! Oh well. There’s always a next time! As for the snowflakes, no talent required, I have one of those marvellous stamp things that you punch into the fondant icing 🙂

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And so here is my Christmas cake, with fondant icing decoration. I just need to wait for it to dry a little bit before I cut myself a slice!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, stay safe. Have a wonderful weekend 🙂

The “C” Word (part 3) aka Bûche de Noël

Once again we go back to chocolate, and somehow it wouldn’t be Christmas without a Bûche de Noël – also known as Chocolate Log. I have made this a number of times, and always use the recipe in Nigella Lawson’s “Christmas”. It works, it is delicious. And, it contains no flour!  The sponge consists entirely of eggs, cocoa powder, caster sugar and vanilla essence.

Whisk the egg whites with some of the caster sugar; whisk the egg yolks with the remainder of the caster sugar until creamy and mousse-like; add the cocoa powder and vanilla, combine with egg whites and pour into baking tin.

Once baked, remove from the oven, cool slightly before turning out onto a sheet of baking paper and carefully roll up.  Leave to cool before icing.

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Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, have a peaceful and happy weekend 🙂

 

The “C” word (part 2) aka Christmas Cake

Some Christmas food preparation needs to be done long in advance of the day. And today, I am talking Christmas Cake!

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I am not usually a big fan of fruit cake, but after years of persevering, I found a Christmas cake recipe that I really do like.

This recipe is a two-day process – first the dried fruit needs to be soaked overnight in a mixture of port and mulled wine spices.

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I have only done minor tweaking on this recipe – I loathe glace cherries, and so instead I add dried blueberries and cranberries to the raisins, sultanas, candied citrus peel, prunes and fresh ginger. And I add walnuts. I mean, why, oh why, would you have a fruit cake that didn’t have nuts in it!!

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This recipe makes a huge cake, and one of the joys of it is that it doesn’t need “feeding” like a traditional Christmas cake does. Once it has cooled, it gets tightly wrapped up in baking parchment and tin foil, and put away to mature, whilst I decide how to decorate it. I usually bake the cake in September or October, and it will last – well wrapped – for months.

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It is a bit cracked, like me, but whilst cooking has filled the house with the lovely, spicy, warm delicious fragrance of Christmas.