playing with flour

Month: February, 2013

Sour Cherry Torte

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When we first moved cities for work I was worried that I wouldn’t being having spur of the moment dinner parties with a group of fabulous people anymore. Last week I was definitely proved wrong. After a rough week on evening shifts all I wanted to do was have a glass of wine (or two) and eat a lot of food. I was lucky enough to rope in some new friends from the hospital and also convinced a couple of med school friends to travel up to join me. The result was a fun night of conversation and games that was finished off with an awesome dessert.

This torte is fantastic. Crunchy biscuit layer topped with sour cherries and topped with smooth sour cream. Personally I think the biscuit layer was a bit thick, so feel free to use a bit less of the mixture if you’d prefer it a bit thinner. Having said that, it is quite a crunchy base that doesn’t go soggy so a thick layer isn’t a big problem. You could use any sort of berries for the middle layer but I found these fantastic sour morello cherries that worked so well. If you can, I’d highly recommend hunting these down, they work perfectly with the sour cream.

The torte takes quite a while to cook and does tend to go quite brown on top which I was initially a bit concerned about. Don’t stress, this is how it should be. Once the topping appears set it’s ready, just allow to cool completely in the pan and make sure you run a knife around the edges to ensure no juicy bits are stuck before removing the tin. We’ve been eating the leftovers straight from the fridge which is pretty delicious but it is a bit better served at room temperature.

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Sour Cherry Torte

Base

1.5 cups plain flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup almond meal
1.5 tsp baking powder
4 oz unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 200º and prepare a springform pan. In a food processor combine all the ingredients and pulse until you get well combined crumbs. Pour into the pan and press in evenly. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool.

Sour Cherry Filling

700g morello cherries in syrup
1/4 cup caster sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup cornstarch

Drain the cherries reserving 1 cup of the liquid. In a saucepan combine all the ingredients with the liquid and heat over low to medium heat stirring for 5 minutes. The mixture should thicken and become fragrant. Allow to cool somewhat before pouring over the biscuit base.

Sour Cream Topping

500g sour cream
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with a whisk until combined. Pour over the cherry filling and smooth with a spatula. Lower the heat in the oven to 180º and bake the torte for 45-50 minutes or until the topping is set. Allow to cool completely in the pan before removing the tin. Enjoy.

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Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

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Ah, night shifts. The highly dreaded, anxiety fueling week that all interns dread. Well, most interns anyway. I do know of some people who actually look forward to night shifts, but I definitely wasn’t one of them. My biggest concern was staying awake through the night, especially as I don’t drink coffee. I was convinced I’d get to 3am and just fall asleep at a desk, or worse, while sitting with a patient. So I came up with a plan – eat plenty of sugar! That’s where these cupcakes came in. Ok, I’ll admit I had another motive as well as keeping my eyes open – I figured a little bribery of the other staff might help make things easier.

These cupcakes were born from me having a spare packet of Oreo’s and a need for something sweet. They’re a double hit of vanilla with flavouring in both the cupcake and the frosting but it isn’t overpowering thanks to the Oreo in the base and throughout the cake. To be honest I’d be keen to up the vanilla flavour a bit more using a vanilla pod but I’d run out so it they ended up fairly subtle – it’s up to you what you’d prefer to use. If you’re looking for something to make for Valentine’s day these would be perfect – and even more so if you used the pink Oreos (I think they’re strawberry?).

Oh and in case you were wondering, night shift was actually great fun. I stayed awake all night, saw a great mix of patients and slept so well once I got home!

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Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

1 oz soft unsalted butter
1 cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
2 cups plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1 packet Oreo’s split in half

Preheat the oven to 180º and prepare your baking cups. Cream the butter with the sugar then add the vanilla essence. Beat in the eggs one at a time then sift in the flour and baking powder. Stir through the milk. Break up half of the Oreo’s into pieces and stir through the batter.

In the base of each cupcake liner place half of an Oreo (the side with the cream) then spoon over the batter until 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.

Vanilla frosting

8 oz salt reduced butter
4 cups sifted icing sugar
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp vanilla essence

Beat the butter with the sugar until smooth then add the milk and vanilla. Beat for at least 5 minutes of until light and fluffy. Pipe onto cupcakes then top with mini Oreo’s.

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Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cake

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I was always the kid at school whose birthday fell in the holidays before school started. While it may seem like a great thing to be on holiday it never felt that way for me, I always felt that I missed out on bringing cupcakes to class or getting all the attention for the day from people who wouldn’t otherwise know it was my birthday. As I’ve grown up I’ve realized these things aren’t actually important and now that I’ve started working I’d be pretty happy to still be on holidays come late January! I don’t generally do anything fancy to celebrate but this year I wanted to have dinner with the friends that got me through med school and I was lucky enough to have some of my new colleagues come along too. I find the great thing about starting a new job is meeting new people and although it’s only been a couple of weeks I feel as though I’ve already made some great friends – some of which are people I previously knew (but not well) and some who I’ve only just met. Instead of making cupcakes I decided to make a slightly more grown up birthday treat – chocolate and raspberry truffle cake.

This cake is rich and decadent and a small piece is probably enough (although that didn’t stop some people from having seconds). Layers of light spongy cake studded with raspberries are sandwiched between creamy rich chocolate truffle frosting. The raspberries are tart enough to set off the sweetness and the cake layers aren’t so dense you can’t finish.

I love the technique of pouring the frosting over the cake while it is in the tin to get smooth layers. This saves on frosting time and looks really elegant. You may have to do some touch ups after removing the tin, just use a warm dry spatula to spread leftover frosting where needed. The cake is open to all sorts of decorating possibilities but I loved how simple and classy it looked plain (and this looked even better with sparklers in it at dinner). I apologize for not having a decent photo of the cake cut but it was a dark restaurant – trust me when I say that each layer was defined and evenly spaced and looked fantastic.

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Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Tart

1 cup plain flour
4 tbsp cocoa powder
2/3 cup caster sugar
8 eggs
200g melted butter
1 cup raspberries

Preheat your oven to 180º and prepare two springform baking tins. Beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl until thick and creamy (at least 5 minutes) then sift in and fold through the cocoa and flour. Divide between the two tins then sprinkle the raspberries over the top. Bake for 25 minutes or until set. Allow to cool in the tins.

Truffle Frosting

450g quality dark chocolate
2 cups cream
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup caster sugar

Melt the cream and chocolate over a low heat until melted and smooth. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and sugar over simmering water for at least 5 minutes or until thick and creamy. Fold the chocolate through the eggs and beat on low speed until cool.

Place one layer of cake in the springform tin then pour over half of the truffle filling. Place the second cake on top then pour over the rest of the frosting, it will run down the sides of the cake. Place in the fridge until cold and set. Carefully remove the tin after warming the sides with a warm cloth.

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