Sunday, 28 June 2015

Rainy Day Madeira Cake

Well that's the British summer over and done with! And now on to endure the perennial British rain. Lovely.

And so I've found myself on a typical rainy day, wanting to bake something, but having two major problems:
1) I didn't have any inspiration
2) I didn't want to go outside in the rain to get any extra ingredients

But then I stumbled upon this recipe, a simple, yummy Madeira cake. Perfect. What it lacks in a speedy baking time, it makes up for in simplicity. A great addition to a cup of tea when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and wait for the rain to stop.

Side note: I've recently move house and so am still getting used to the oven. As a result, I cooked my cake at too high a temperature, causing it to sink in the middle. i have since adjusted the temperature and cooking time accordingly, so please let me know if it works.

Rainy Day Madeira Cake
Bare Necessities:
110g/4oz Butter
11og/4oz Sugar
2tbsp Golden Syrup
2 Eggs
175g/6oz Self Raising Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Vanilla Extract

1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C/320F.
2. Grease and line a loaf tin.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
4. Beat in the Vanilla extract, syrup and eggs until fully combined (don't worry if it curdles at this point).
5. Fold in the flour and baking powder until fully combined.
6. Pour the mixture into the tin and pop in the oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
7. Leave to cool on a cooling rack.
8. Slice up and enjoy with a nice cup of tea!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Mint Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream

Summer is here! And what better way to enjoy the sun than to stay inside and make ice cream?

Since I was a child, my favourite ice cream has always been mint choc chip, and so when I was having a peruse through my two ice cream books, I happened upon a fresh mint ice cream that I all too readily decided to adapt to make into an all-time favourite. (I adapted the mint ice cream recipe from the latter book)

Even though I prefer to make ice creams in the Philadelphia style, as it means you don't have multiple egg whites left over at the end, I thought I'd make an exception for this one, as the use of egg yolks gives a slightly deeper flavour. I gave the leftover egg whites to my dog with his dinner, but they can just as easily be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of weeks, or for even longer in the freezer.

One thing I was really quite surprised about when I made it was the difference between ice cream made with fresh mint and store-bought mint ice cream. The flavour is much more subtle and soo much nicer!

A quick note about the mint: the recipe asks for 80g of fresh mint leaves. Bear in mind that if you're buying them in a shop and they're still on the stalks, the weight written on the packet will incorporate that weight as well. I know it sounds pretty obvious, but it's a good thing to bear in mind, as I bought a 100g packet of mint and got about 70/75g of actual mint leaves.

Mint Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream
Bare Necessities:

250ml Whole Milk
150g Sugar
500ml Double Cream
pinch Salt
80g Fresh Mint Leaves
5 Large Egg Yolks
50g Dark Chocolate

1. Warm the milk, sugar, salt and 250ml of the cream in a saucepan.
2. Add the mint leaves, and stir in until all of the leaves are submerged or at least wetted.
3. Place a lid on the saucepan, remove from the heat and leave to infuse for an hour.
4. Strain the minty mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Make sure that you really press down on the leaves with a spoon, you'd be surprised how much more mixture comes out!
5. Discard the mint leaves, you won't be needing them any more.
6. Separate the 5 yolks from their whites and gently
whisk the yolks.
7. Pour the yolks into the minty mixture, all the while whisking to make sure that the yolk is thoroughly combined.
8. Pour this custard back into the saucepan and gently heat on a low to medium heat, continuously stirring. Make sure that you scrape the sides and the bottom regularly to make sure that it doesn't burn or stick.
9. Once the custard starts to thicken to the texture of a thick cream or custard, remove it from the heat. This took me about 10 minutes, but it will differ from hob to hob, so make sure you're always watching it.
10. Strain the custard through a sieve into a bowl. The lumps tend to be at the bottom, so keep stirring the mixture in the sieve to speed up this process.
11. Put the bowl into an ice bath to cool down the custard. Keep stirring at this point, as even though it's no longer on the heat, it's still hot and will curdle if you don't stir it.
12. Once cooled (or at least at room temperature) mix in the remaining cream and stir until thoroughly combined.
13. Pour the mixture into the ice cream machine and follow the
manufacturer's instructions.
14. Once the mixture is starting to thicken and look a bit more like ice cream, melt the chocolate chips. Normally I'd do this in a Ban Marie, but a) I was out of pans, and b) it was only 50 grams, so I just melted them in the microwave.
15. Whilst the ice cream is churning away, slowly drizzle in the melted chocolate, stopping periodically to let it mix in a bit before continuing. As the ice cream will be very cold at this point, the chocolate won't combine with it, but instead instantly cool and mix in as a hard chocolate drizzle!
16. Once it's ready, serve up and go and enjoy the sun while it lasts!