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Pistachio and Almond Biscotti

Pistachio and Almond Biscotti

By Kira

As I was browsing the Italian Home baking book, biscotti’s captured my attention. Biscotti in Italian means double baked. Since they are baked twice, which removes most of the moisture, so they can be stored for long period. They go beautifully paired with hot cup of coffee.

I had never tasted biscotti before so I was up for the challenge. You would have figured by now, I can never follow a recipe to “T”, I always like to add my little twist to it. With this one, I had reduce the amount of suagr and nuts as well. I made one batch with hard texture which is perfect biscotti and another batch with soft texture (You can achieve this by reducing the baking time during the second bake.) just to see how they taste with different textures.

Here is the picture of my Pistachio and Almond Biscotti


Considering this was my first attempt I was happy with the result, but there is still room for improvement. It tasted great with a subtle orange aroma coming through it and the crunchy nuts to bite on. It was so wonderful to look at the bright green colour of shelled pistchios all over the biscotti’s.

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Lemon Thyme Slices with Lemon Custard

Lemon Thyme Slices with Lemon Custard

By Kira

This month my baking group had the theme “Herbs & Spices”. Often, I use spices in my baking, so I was determined to do something with herbs. While, I was in search of baking with herbs, I came across this recipe. I adopted the recipe according to my preference.

I chose to use “Lemon Thyme leaves” which is very flavoursome with hint of lemon. I started picking off the leaves, I realised it wasn’t easy at all. It needs too much concentration and patience. After a while, I sighed, in order to make it interesting, I started taking pictures of each stage. Well, I am glad I did that, now I can write an illustrated recipe.

Lemon Thyme 1

Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 27 mins
Total time: 57 mins

Ingredients
For Biscuit Base:

  • Plain flour 195 g
  • Unsalted Butter, room temperature 112 g (cut into cubes)
  • Raw Caster Sugar 120 g
  • Cornstarch 1.5 tbsp
  • Salt 1/8 tsp (a big pinch)
  • Lemon Thyme leaves 2 tbsp

For Lemon Custard:

  • Lemon Zest 1 tsp (I used zest of 1 large lemon)
  • Lemon juice 80 ml ( I used 1 & 1/2 large lemon)
  • Eggs, room temperature 2 medium size
  • Milk 20 ml
  • Granulated Sugar 130 g
  • Plain flour 2 tbsp
  • Lemon thyme leaves to garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Place all the ingredients for the biscuit base in a food processor, pulse until it resembles coarse consistency as shown in the picture.Lemon Thyme2 Lemon Thyme3
  • Preheat the oven 180 C fan. Lightly grease a square/rectangle tin with butter. I used rectangular tin, so I end up with less thicker biscuit base. Transfer the crumbled biscuit base to the tin, level it with palette knife and gently press with your fingers to pack it slightly compact. Bake in the preheat oven for 15 minutes or until the edges lightly brown.Lemon Thyme4
  • Meanwhile, start to make the lemon custard. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until pale and foamy. Add the milk and flour and mix until there is no lumps. Add the sugar, lemon juice and zest and mix everything until well combined.Lemon Thyme5
  • Pour the lemon custard on top of the baked biscuit base, make sure it is spread evenly. Place the tin into the oven and bake for 12 minutes or until the lemon custard is just set.Lemon Thyme6
  • Remove from oven and let it cool completely. Cut into squares and enjoy!!!Lemon Thyme7
    Lemon Thyme Bars

Butternut squash cake with apple, currants topped with Almond streusel

Butternut squash cake with apple, currants topped with Almond streusel

By Kira

Recently, I decided to participate in Wimbledon baking group, where everyone has to bring one home made cake. Each meetup has a theme and this month’s theme is ‘A bake with a story’. Being my first meetup, I was wondering what to make. Finally, I decided to retry my very first attempt to make a cake for my exact equals birthday.

Here goes my story… My baking adventure started of a couple of year back in London. Before that I never baked in my whole life. Thats right you are reading it right. When I moved to London, I use to enjoy the BBC program for children ‘I can cook’ by Kathy. I started trying recipes from that program and slowly started of with cup cakes, muffins and cookies. By then I got the basic knowledge of baking, I wanted to try cakes. I was looking for recipes to make dinner with butternut squash, to my surprise I came across a cake recipe using butternut squash. I was surprised as well as excited by the thought of adding vegetable to a cake.

I never follow a recipe to a ‘T’, I always improvise with my basic knowledge and personal twists. I made the cake a day ahead of my exact equals birthday, to give me enough time for the backup plan. After I finished baking, my house was filled with pleasant smell. All is well at the end, now I have the trouble of hiding the cake for a another day.

I really surprised him on his birthday, presenting with my very first perfect cake. Oh my goodness, the cake was so light and tasted delicious with bits of apple, currants and top of all was the almond streusel. The cake also had taken the nice yellow colour from the butternut squash puree.

Here is the picture of my Butternut squash cake with apple, currants topped with Almond Streusel.
           

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 65 mins

Ingredients
Dry Ingredients:

  • Plain flour – 140 g  (14 tbsp – level tablespoons)
  • Golden granuated raw cane sugar – 137 g (10.5 tbsp – level tablespoons)
  • Baking powder 1.5 tsp
  • Table Salt a pinch
  • Red apple, medium size 1
  • Juicy currants – 50 g (5 tbsp – I used Whitworths juicy currants)

Wet Ingredients:

  • Eggs, medium size, room temperature 2
  • Sunflower oil – 65 ml (4.5 tbsp  – I used Flora sunflower oil)
  • Vanilla essence 1 tsp
  • Nutmeg 0.25 tsp (I used freshly grated nutmeg)
  • Ground Cinnamon 0.50 tsp
  • Butternutsquash puree – 80g (8 tbsp  – level tablespoons)

Streusel Topping:

  • Whole Almonds 100 g (10 tbsp finely chopped almonds)
  • Golden granuated raw cane sugar – 33 g (2.5 tbsp)
  • Unsalted Butter, room temperature 20 g

Instructions

Butternut squash Puree:

  • Cut the medium size butternut squash in lengthwise, scoop out the seeds. Place it in the roasting tray with cut side down.
  • Pour little water into the base of the roasting tray.
  • Bake at 180C fan in the preheat oven for 35 mins or until the butternut squash is tender.
  • Remove the butternut squash from oven and let it cool completely.
  • Scoop out the flesh of the butternut squash. Puree it in the food processor until it has smooth texture.
  • The puree stores well in fridge and freeze. I usually make the puree a day before I plan to make the cake. Measure the amount that is needed for the cake and keep that in fridge. Freeze the remaining puree for later use.

Dry Bowl:

  • Shift the plain flour into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the sugar, baking powder and salt to the mixing bowl.
  • Give everything a good mix using a spatula and keep it aside.

Wet Bowl:

  • Have the electric hand blender with balloon whisk attachment ready.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, break the eggs and whisk it until it looks pale yellow in colour and foamy.
  • Add the oil to the egg mixture and whisk a few seconds until its mixed evenly.
  • Add the vanilla essence, nutmeg and cinnamon to the mixture and give a good mix.
  • Add the butternut squash puree to the mixture and whisk at low speed for a minute until its well blended.

Streusel Topping:

  • Place the whole almonds in the food processor and pulse until the almonds are finely chopped.
  • Transfer the chopped almonds to a bowl, then add the sugar and butter. Mix it with your finger tips until the mixture looks like a crumble.

Final steps:

  • Preheat the oven at 170C fan.
  • Line the 7 inches round deep cake tin with baking sheet.
  • Peel, core and cut the apple into cubes of 1cm pieces. Add the apple pieces and currants to the dry mixture bowl and give it a good mix.
  • Add the dry mixture into wet mixture bowl. Fold the mixture gently with a spatula, because you don’t want to knock out all the air bubbles produced by beating the eggs. Fold it until everything is well incorporated.
  • Fill the cake tin with the mixture. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the cake mixture. Very gently press the streusel to level it evenly.
  • Cover the top of the cake tin with aluminium foil. The foil cover prevents the almonds from burning. Bake at 170C fan for 25 mins.
  • Remove the aluminium foil and bake for further 22 mins or when a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove the cake from oven and let it cool for 10 mins before releasing it from the cake tin.
  • Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it cool completely.

Pineapple upside-down Individual cake

Pineapple upside-down Cake

By Kira

I was wondering what to do with fresh pineapple. I came across this recipe from the slow cooker book. I modified the recipe according to my liking and to suit the oven cooking.

Here is the picture of my pineapple upside-down cake. The texture of coconut spongy was light and when had with pineapple it tasted perfect for a treat.

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 18 mins
Total time: 28 mins
Yield: 2 servings
Baking Utensil: 2 ramekins

Ingredients
Plain flour50 g
Baking powder1/2 tsp
Sugar2 tbsp plus extra to sprinkle the ramekins base
Unsalted Butter – at room temperature25 g plus extra for coating the ramekins
Desiccated coconut1 tbsp
Egg1/2 large
Honey1 tbsp
Pineapple chunks50 g

Instructions
– Cream together butter and sugar, using an electric hand blender.
– Add the egg to the creamed butter and a tbsp of flour to stop the mixture from curdling. Mix until the egg is well incorporated.
– Add the remaining flour, baking powder, desiccated coconut to the mixture. Mix on low speed until everything is mixed well.
– Grease 2 ramekins. Fill each ramekins with 1/2 tbsp of honey, sprinkle a thin layer of sugar and then spread half the pineapple chunks and half of cake mixture. Level the surface with back of wet spoon.
– Bake at preheat oven 170C fan for 18 minutes. Remove the ramekins from oven and let it cool on wire rack.
– Loosen the edge of the ramekins and turn the cake into the serving plate.

Enjoy the soft coconut sponge with sweet chunky pineapples.

Diablo Chocolate Cake

Diablo Chocolate Cake

By Kira

Have you ever wondered why the rich chocolate cake is coined with Devil? I think its because it is simply irresistible and even the devil can’t help it.

Here is the picture of my devil’s chocolate cake. It tasted so rich chocolatey and texture was so spongey. Wow, it was delicious and I ended up eating like a devil, proving the name “Devil’s Chocolate Cake”. After we enjoyed the wonderful cake, me and my exact equal named my Devil’s Chocolate cake after the devil Diablo.

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 55 mins
Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients
Plain flour200 g
Green & Black Cocoa powder40 g
Baking powder3 tsp
a pinch of salt
Sugar280 g
Unsalted Butter – at room temperature80 g
Milk240 ml
Egg2
Vanilla extract1/2 tsp
Cocoa buttercream frosting enough to sandwich 3 layers and top of the cake.

Instructions
– Cream together butter and sugar, using an electric hand blender.
– Add the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt to the creamed butter. Mix on low speed until a coarse grainy consistency is achieved.
– Beat the eggs, in a separated bowl. Add the milk and vanilla extract to the egg mixture and give it a good whisk.
– Add half the milk mixture to the flour mixture. Start to mix on low speed and then on medium speed until there are no lumps.
– Gradually add the remaining milk mixture. Mix on low speed until the mixture looks smooth.
– Grease and line the cake tin. Fill the tin with cake mixture and level it.
– Bake at preheat oven 170C fan for 35 minutes. Remove the cake from oven and let it cool on wire rack.
– Cut the cake into 3 layers after it is completely cool down. Spread the cocoa buttercream frosting between the layers and on the top.

Enjoy the rich chocolatey spongey devil’s chocolate cake.

Black Forest Gateau

Black Forest Gateau


By Kira

Black Forest Gateau, is a delicious German dessert. It consist of layers of chocolate cake filled cherries, kirsch and whipped cream between each layers. It is named after the liquor Schwarzwälder Kirsch which is used in the gateau.  Schwarzwälder Kirsch is a speciality liquor (distilled from tart cherries) of the black forest region.

This is my first attempt to make black forest gateau. I had some fresh cherries left in the fridge and I thought it would be wonderful for my black forest gateau. I made the chocolate cake separately, then sandwiched three layers of cake with whipped cream and cherry filling. For chocolate cake recipe follow my Diablo chocolate cake. The chocolate cake itself was soft and light. The whipped cream and cherry filling added moistness to the gateau. It tasted rich and deliciously.

The decorations on the cake does not justify its taste, I know it needs more work. I decorated it, without palette knife nor icing set. I also know my fingers needs practice, since I gave up on using paper and pen along time ago 🙂

Pear Crumble

Pear Crumble

By Kira

Pear Crumble, one of the traditional english dessert. So yummy with soft fruit filling and crumbly topping, served with custard.

Prep time :10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Yield: 4 portions

Ingredients

Filling
Ripened Pears450 g
Billington’s Demerara unrefined sugar1 tbsp

Crumble Topping
Allison plain flour110 g
Butter35 g
Billington’s Golden Granulated Sugar40 g ~ 45 g

Instructions
– Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan).
– Peel and quarter the pears. Remove the core and pips and cut each quarter into 2 or 3 pieces and arrange them in a pie dish.
– Sprinkle the demerara sugar on top of the fruit.
– In a mixing bowl, add the flour, butter and rub them together until it looks crumbly. Make sure the butter is spread evenly. Add the granulated sugar and mix well until everything is combined.
– Sprinkle crumble topping evenly over the fruit filling. Use a palette knife to even out the toppings.
– Bake for 30 ~ 35 minutes until the topping is golden brown.

Enjoy the crumble either warm or cold with your favourite custard. Golden crumble topping is the one which makes this dish so yummy. 

Note: You can replace the pear filling with any fruit to your liking.