Month: January 2015

Book Review: Konditor & Cook. Reservedly legendary baking

Konditor & Cook : Book review

Konditor & Cook. Reservedly legendary baking

This is not your average baking book. This one’s different! “Why?” I hear you ask. Well the recipes are just not what you’d expect…. but in a good way. The combinations are different and unusual and dare I say it – intriguing like ‘Melon and Ginger’ slinger – which sounds more like a smoothie than a tart and ‘101% Apple pie’! How do you do that?

 

Konditor & Cook: Book reviewThe shop

For those who don’t know Konditor & Cook is a little cake shop tucked out behind Waterloo East station on Cornwall road in London. I used to walk past it on my way to work in the mornings and always had to have a good look in the window as I passed by. There was always a line of people queueing outside waiting to pick up their morning coffee and cake. Whenever someone had a birthday or celebration on the magazine a cake would be ordered from K&C – until I started baking that is!

Konditor & Cook: Book review

The Author

Konditor and Cook is the brainchild of Gerhard Jenne. He opened his little baking shop in 1993 using his skills as a pastry chief from Germany; where he studied before moving to England and training under Justin De Blank. This book is full of his most popular recipes. There’s a lot of German influence in the bakes but none of the obvious recipes. I haven’t heard of a lot of the cakes here but they look and sound so good.

Konditor & Cook: Book review

One of the best things about this book is that everything has a real “depth of flavour” as Gerhard says that’s the most important thing -and I think we would all agree with him on that? You don’t need specialist equipment to make any of these cakes – even the more decorated ones at the back- and his ethos that the recipes are easy to make just works in this day and age of our busy lives

Most of these recipes don’t take a lot of time or energy, just enthusiasm and a keen appetite” Gerhard Jenne

Konditor & Cook: Book reviewSo what’s in the book?

The book includes the following chapters. Here’s a few but by all means not all bakes included.

Cakes

Figgy fruit loaf – a cake for cheese, Stem ginger, Almond St Clement cake and sunken pear and black gingerbread cake to name just a few

Tarts and puddings

Choose from Raspberry fudge tart (a favorite at the shop), Rhubarb and orange Meringue, twice baked raspberry ricotta cheesecake with a thyme crust, Strawboffie pie, summer pudding sand and there’s more

Mini bakes

Jammilicious Linzers, Raspberry rocks Meringues (which have raspberries baked in the centres- yum), lemon and currant puff – which are next on my list, Very berry tartlets (as seen above) Kipferl cookies; a traditional Christmas biscuit in Germany,

Brownies and slices

This is where I started when I first got the book. I made the Boston brownies and they are divine! There’s also Whisky and fig brownies, Bakewell slab, Hot cross Blondies and Tarta de Santiago which was inspired by Brindisa a local Borough Market Spanish food importer.

Muffins, cupcakes and buns

If there’s one recipe that is going to get you excited in this chapter it’s the ‘Black velvet cupcakes with Irish cream frosting’. All I really have to say about this is Bailey’s Irish cream liquer. The rest you can imagine! Other tasty sounding bites are Dorset apple cakes, Iced prune buns – these are a really cute domed shape and look super delish – I’m making them this weekend.

Fun and festivities

This is where your creative talents can get into action. There are K&C’s signature ‘Magic cakes’ (I’m sure they’re called this as they disappear!), Spaghetti Bolognese cupcakes, The chocolate cabbage cake (as seen below) don’t worry it’s all chocolate and just looks like a cabbage – there’s not a green leaf to be seen inside this creation. The mulled wine cupcakes also sound amazing.

Basics, tips and techniques

Not only is this chapter full of really good, solid advice but there are more recipes and tips throughout it. There are more pastry recipes as well as frostings, custard and lemon curd all of which can be used with the recipes throughout the book. There are tips on piping, lining a cake tin and how to temper chocolate.

Konditor & Cook: Book review

My thoughts on Konditor & Cook. Reservedly legendary baking.

The photography is a lot darker and moodier in this book than in the average baking book which I’m not usually a massive fan of but with these recipes it just works. I really love the details about each bake before the recipe – either where it originates from or who inspired it. It makes the book really informative and personal, but it’s the extra details in the ‘Basics, tips and techniques’ chapter that make it a must. There are tons of really useful tips and advice that I haven’t seen before. I also really like the way it’s written. You feel like you’re having a chat with your baker friend Gerhard who’s sharing his best knowledge with you. It’s so relaxed and chatty.

Having made quite a few recipes from this book – the Boston Brownies are to die for! I really like this book. It’s good to have something a bit different on your  kitchen shelves. It has a few old favorites – coffee cake, lemon meringue pies and strawberry tarts, but the more unusual recipes are what I rate the most.

Konditor & Cook: Deservedly Legendary Baking by Ebury Press available on Amazon

Do you have this book? Would you buy it and if so why? I’d love to know.

EmmaMT x

How to make an Elsa Frozen cake

Elsa Frozen cake

Last summer I was asked to make a cake for my friends little daughter Belle. I was sure she was going to be two but she was to be three! Where do the years go? It feels like only yesterday she was a tiny baby.

As I am sure you’re aware, if you are a little three year old girl your birthday/Christmas/life is going to be all about Frozen. Whether you’re in the Elsa camp or Anna that’s what all the little girls want. Did you see the program about Frozen that was on over Christmas? It’s the most successful cartoon of all time. The queue’s outside the Bromley Disney store with mum’s waiting to get their hands on the latest delivery of Elsa dresses went round the block and started from 8am and that was back in October! I can’t imagine what it was like in December.

My girls loved the film and I have to say that we have had a sing-along or two in the car (ahem- led by me and under protests of suffering daughters!) I’ve admitted to singing ‘Let it go’ on the way to shoots when the girls aren’t even in the car. I’m sure I’m not alone – am I?

So, I was pretty happy when I was finally asked to make an Elsa cake. I had been waiting !!!! The mum was happy to have a doll in the cake but I don’t really do that. It takes away the creativity and fun for me. So here’s how I did it.

How to make an Elsa Frozen cake

Start with the skirt

Elsa Frozen cake - skirtI started off with two Madeira cakes. One was baked in a Christmas pudding cake tin which gave the top the cake the skirt/waisted look. I matched the bottom of that tin to the closest size round tin – mine was a 7″.

I cut the half sphere cake in half then added butter cream and jam in between each layer then cut the outside of the cake into a more skirt shape. Next the cake was given two coats of butter cream – a crumb coat and a top coat.

The skirt was covered in sugar paste, smoothed and neatened and placed on the cake board; which I had covered in white sugar paste a few days earlier. I set the cake to the back of the board so I had room for wording and a few snowflakes.

How to make Elsa’s face

Elsa Frozen cake -face

It’s a good idea to make the head ahead of time. The more time it has to harden the easier it is to handle and position it when you need to add the hair later on.

I coloured plenty of white sugar paste with Paprika coloured food gel (enough for the head, body and arms) so it was a really pale flesh colour then made the shape of the head. I used my fingers to make dents in the eye sockets and created a nose. I did make nostrils but they looked terrible so I rubbed them out.

I used a flower and Leaf Shaper Tool (the pointed one) to make a slight indent for the mouth and the outline of the eyes. I then filled in the eyes with white shimmer powder. To make the shimmer into a paint I used a little vodka mixed with the powder. You only need a tiny amount of each. This white paint is really easy to apply if you go slow and don’t have too much on your brush. If you have lots of liquid on your brush it really runs into every crevice and beyond your outline. You’re better off doing two to three light layers rather than one thicker one.

To make the cheeks rosy I applied a small amount of pink powder. To do this sprinkle some powder onto a piece of kitchen paper then use a dry paint brush to apply it. Dab off as much colour as you can so it looks like there’s hardly any on it then brush it onto Elsa’s cheeks in a  gentle round action. I also added a little bit to above her eyes to give her more of a glowy eye shadow.

Once the whites of her eyes are completely dry I painted on two circles in ‘baby blue’ food gel colour. The next step was to add the black eye liner. I used the ‘black’ food gel colour and a really tiny paint brush and went really, REALLY slowly. Paint on largish pupils in the centre of the blue of the eyes at the same time. Again leave it to dry completely between each layer. Paint on the bottom eye liner and add a white dot of shimmer on each pupil.

Use a small amount of the paprika gel colour – watered down to draw on the eye brows and the freckles.

For the ears add two tiny balls of the flesh colour, squished into ovals then pressed into place with a little bit of edible glue.

Finish off the face with a ruby-red colour for the lips.

I place the head on skewer to dry. The hole made by the skewer will make it easier to position later on.

How to make Elsa’s body

Elsa Frozen cake - arms

Take some of the flesh coloured sugar paste and mould it into the body shape. Position the body on the skirt, securing with some royal icing. Place a long skewer through both so that the body can set in place in a completely upright position.

 

Roll out some of the blue dress coloured sugar paste and shape it so it has a dip at the neckline and a point at the bottom on the front. Wrap this piece around the body. Where the sugar paste overlaps at the back cut away the excess and smooth the join line.Roll out a long strip of pale blue icing and position it over the join line bringing it to a point at the front.

To make the arms: Roll out two pieces of flesh coloured sugar paste . Cut them to the desired length. At the elbow and wrists use your finger to roll the length and make it a tiny bit thinner. Flatten the ends so that the shoulder is more natural and the hand is the right size. Use a knife to cut the fingers and thumbs and a small ball tool  to make indents where the nails are. Attach the arms with royal icing or food glue.

I cut out a large ‘3’ for Elsa to hold to personalise the cake a little more and glued this into place on the skirt before gluing the hand in place. This helps the arms to stay in place (glueing the hands) and lets you add a piece of rolled up kitchen paper under the elbow to keep the shape until it’s dry – which will take a good few hours.

The final step is to paint the arms with a glittery blue paint – I mixed a little food colour with white shimmer powder  and vodka and let it get quite runny. This gives the effect of a sheer sleeve. This took a few hours to dry.

How to make Elsa’s cape
Elsa Frozen cake - train

The cape was made out of pale blue sugar paste rolled quite thin. I cut it to shape then held it up against the cake to make sure it was a good fit. Once I was happy that the top would sit nicely at the shoulders and the base would just sit on the cake board I gave the edges a frill by rolling it with a Bulbulous Cone Modelling Tool. The cape was stuck onto the cake with royal icing. A piece of kitchen paper was positioned under the base of the cape and a layer of shimmer food colour – the same as used for the sleeves, was used to coat the whole cape to make it shimmer and shine.

 How to finish Elsa’s body
Elsa Frozen cake - shimmer

The last step for the body was to add a layer of glitter. I used a paint brush to coat the bodice with edible glue then used the tiniest amount of glitter on a dry brush. Too much glitter on your brush and it will go everywhere! Very slowly dab the glitter over the bodice then leave to dry before you touch it again.

How to make Elsa’s hair

Elsa Frozen cake -hair

Now it’s time to position the head. Cut the skewer down so the skewer won’t stick out the top of Elsa’s head and place the head in place. Use a little royal icing to secure her.

For the hair; roll out strands of pale yellow sugar paste and use three thicker ones to make a long plait. Secure the plait to the back of the head so it comes down over her shoulder. Add more strands from the top of her head so that they cover up the top for the plait. Use smaller strands to create Elsa’s fringe. Add a little glitter to the ends. Elsa Frozen cake - Belle

As Belle is a short name I was able to add it to the ‘3’. I thought a touch of glitter was needed here. All three year old girls love a touch of glitter!

Adding snowflakesElsa Frozen cake - back

To decorate the cake board I cut out some snowflakes with snowflake plunger cutters and added yet more glitter to them using edible glue. I cut some in half so they could be placed right up against the skirt so it looked like Elsa was walking on snow.

Before glueing the snowflakes in place I piped the birthday message then used royal icing to position the snowflakes.

Elsa Frozen cake - side view

This cake although looks quite complicated and time-consuming, actually didn’t take that long to make. The longest part is having to wait for the head and arms to harden- and the eyes to dry between each layer.

I was pretty happy with the end result but if I do it again I would make her neck a bit longer. Also as I was typing this up Darcey peered over my shoulder and said she looks a bit fat! I didn’t see that till she mentioned it so next time I’ll make her slimmer.Elsa Frozen cake

I really enjoyed making it though. Anyone need an Anna cake? She’s next on my want list!

EmmaMT

x

Kitchen Gadgets Review: Russell Hobbs Aura 6 in 1 hand held blender

Russell Hobbs Aura 6 in 1 hand held blender

I love to test a kitchen gadget but especially when it’s one that helps with your baking. This Russell Hobbs Aura 6 in 1 hand held whisk is really clever. It has the ability to perform six tasks.

    • Processing
    • Creaming
    • Slicing
    • Shredding
    • Blending
    • Whisking

The Aura has a 600W  motor so it’s got the perfect amount of power to handle anything from whisking egg whites to grating cheese.

There are two attachments for the main stick. A stainless Steel blending leg which is for making smoothies, soups and pancake mixes till they are really smooth and creamy and a stainless steel whisk which will make really light work of egg whites for meringues.

Why it’s a winner

What makes this gadget a winner in my eyes is the 1.2 litre processing bowl. It’s just like having a food processor but without the cost or the weight! The three attachments that fit into the jug are the processing blade which is great for mixing up cake mixes and doughs – or in this post’s case, crushing biscuits into crumbs in a matter of seconds for a cheese cake base; the creaming disk which is for creating the smoothest of sauces and mayonnaise and the slicing / shredding disk which is great for grating carrots, cheese, courgettes etc- coleslaw anyone?  The list of what it can do goes on and on.

IMG_2651IMG_2643IMG_2644

Russell Hobbs sent me this Aura to test and set me the challenge of making a cheesecake with it and I have to say I haven’t stopped using it since. I’m currently making up a pancake recipe for a post I’m doing for Achica for pancake day and the stick blender made light work of mixing up all the different combinations I tried – and there were a lot! More on that in February. I also made a triple chocolate mouse to take to a friends last week and that involved a lot of whisking which the whisk handled with ease.

“So what about the cheesecake?”

I hear you cry? Well I made it. Chocolate cheesecake is my all time favorite cake (at the moment) I may have mentioned that before. So that’s what I made. But Tim doesn’t like it and the girls won’t touch cheesecake at all so…….. can you guess where this is going? I ate half of an 8″ double chocolate cheesecake on my own! And worst of all I didn’t even take a photo of it as my camera wasn’t working!!! So I decided to improve on my recipe when I was invited for a Christmas lunch with the Tennis mums, and that way I couldn’t eat the whole thing on my own. This time I made a chocolate cherry cheesecake and it was deelish. Maybe even better than the first one!  Half of that cheesecake came home (thanks to a delivery from Caroline – thanks hun) so I got to take pics with my now fixed camera and I very quickly took the rest round to my sisters…… after I had eaten another couple of slices. I really need to add a few more miles to my runs!

So here’s the recipe. It’s dead easy to make but even easier to eat and makes a great desert whether it’s Christmas, Easter or just for the hell of it.

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake recipe

Chocolate cherry cheesecake recipe

For the base

  • 100g digestive biscuits – crushed to smitherines
  • 40g butter

For the cake

  • 600g full fat cream cheese (low fat ones just don’t work!)
  • 115g Caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 large eggs – separated
  • 280ml double cream
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 1 tin of cherries drained – but keep the juice to one side.

For the Glaze

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 200ml the juice from the cherries – add water to make up to 200ml
  1. Line the bottom of an 8″ cake tin with silicon paper. Pre-heat your oven to 160C (140C for fan ovens)
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and add the biscuit crumbs. Stir till all the crumbs are coated. Press into the bottom of the cake tin and chill in the fridge while making the rest of the cake.
  3. Break the chocolate into small pieces and set in a bowl over a saucepan half filled with simmering water. Make sure that the bowl does not touch the water. Melt the chocolate then set aside to cool a little.
  4. Whisk the cream till it’s thick; but not solid then add the rest of the cake ingredients. Slowly add the cooled chocolate. I wanted there to be a few lines of plain cheesecake in with the chocolate cheesecake but I over mixed it!
  5. Finally add the drained cherries and mix – then pour the mixture over the biscuit base. Pop in the oven for 45 minutes. It will look a bit wobbly on top when it’s done. This is right. It will continue to set once out of the oven so just look for the edges of the cake to be coming away from the cake tin ever so slightly. Set aside to cool. The middle of the cake will sink a little. I like that. It means the glaze won’t dribble over the edge.
  6. To make the glaze place the cherry juice in a saucepan over a low heat and add the sugar. Stir until dissolved. Add the flour slowly. I use a mini sieve to sprinkle it over the top of the liquid gradually and mix well as I add more. That way I don’t get lumps. Lumpy glaze. Yuck! Continue to stir and allow the mixture to bubble gently for 4-5 minutes. Set aside to cool a little before pouring over the still warm cheesecake (which is still in the tin)
  7. Leave the cake with the glaze to cool completely then chill in the fridge over night (or for at least four hours).
  8. Remove the cake from the tin by placing a small bowl on your worktop and placing the cake tin on top. Press the cake tin down from the sides so the cake comes out. You should be able to remove the cake from the base of the cake tin but it’s not really necessary.
  9. Serve and eat within two days.

The first video review

I’ve been thinking about doing short 5 minute video reviews of kitchen gadgets on the blog for a while now so this seemed like the perfect time. It’s not long and it’s not professional but I hope you like it. Here’s the Russell Hobbs Aura 6 in 1 hand held blender

Enjoy!

EmmaMT x

Disclaimer: The product in this post was provided by  Russell Hobbs  (Thanks you guys I love it) All thoughts and opinions and entirely my own.

 

Melt in your mouth Lemon butter biscuits recipe

Lemon butter biscuitsI don’t know about you guys but we try not to have too many treats in the house over the Christmas break. We’re all at home, chilling and watching TV (or playing Minecraft if you’re my girls) and the temptation to pick and graze is a bit too much. But, by 28th December I was dreaming about biscuits and after making so many for other people for gifts I thought it was time to bake some just for us.

Lemon butter biscuits

These Lemon butter biscuits are really light and melt in the mouth. I had come up with the recipe (adapting it from an old favourite), made the mix and had them in the oven by 7.25am. Not bad when you’re on holiday from work. The first dozen I baked were really brown underneath so I baked the next lot for a shorter time. The corners were only just a little more than golden when I took them out of the oven and the tops looked a touch anaemic but it definitely improved the texture. They don’t look baked but trust me they are. They continue to cook for a few minutes while they sit on the baking tray cooling which makes them just perfect when they’re completely cooled.

Another thing I should mention is that I froze a small batch of these (or we probably would have eaten the lot – I made 35 from this recipe) so I can pop them in the oven if we have friends pop round unexpectedly. I love doing that.

Print this recipe here 

Lemon butter biscuits recipe

(makes around 30-35)

  • 200g butter at room temperature
  • 200g caster sugar – sieved
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 rind and juice of a lemon
  • 370g plain flour- sieved
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Extra golden caster sugar for rolling the biscuits in.
  1. Line a baking tray with silicon paper and pre-heat your oven to 170ºC (Fan oven150ºC)

  2. Place all the ingredients into the bowl and mix. You can mix by hand or with a stand mixer but however you do it be careful not to over mix or the biscuits will become tough and will lose their lightness.

  3. Place the golden caster sugar into a bowl.  Roll a spoonful of biscuit dough into a ball so it’s around the size of a large walnut then roll it around in the caster sugar till it’s completely coated.

  4. Place on the baking tray and use a fork to press the ball down a little. These biscuits only spread a little bit.

  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are turning a deep golden brown colour – not brown-brown. Remove and leave to cool on the baking tray for ten minutes before transferring onto a rack to go complete cold.

Enjoy!

 

EmmaMT

xLemon butter biscuits

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