Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Brothers and Battenberg cake

My brother, Andrew, just finished a quick visit to us on the East coast. As always, even though we don't see each other everyday and we haven't lived in the same city for over 20 years, we quickly reverted to the big bro', lil' sis roles. Good natured teasing combined with a Mom cooked meal made it seem like we were kids again. I made him his favourite blueberry pie to show him how much I appreciated his visit and he gave me hugs like he never did when we were younger.

I reminded him of the Bakewell tarts we used to fight over as children and he reminded me how his favourite treat from the British relatives was Battenberg cake from M&S - a pink and yellow cake wrapped in marzipan. It was always a bit too sweet for me but I came across this recipe in Nick Malgieri's book "A Baker's Tour". He uses cocoa to make the contrasting checkers chocolate and vanilla while others use just food colouring for pink and yellow squares. I didn't make my own marzipan but used store bought to make the production quicker. Either way it is still delicious!
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp Dutch process cocoa
3 Tbsp milk
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two loaf pans and line with parchment.
Cream butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes on medium speed. Add eggs one at a time and then scrape down the bowl and mix another minute until well combined. Sift flour and baking powder together and then add it to the butter mixture in 3 batches. Beat at low speed for 2 minutes until well combined.
Pour half the batter into one of the prepared pans. Combine the cocoa and milk into a paste and then add to the remaining batter. Mix well and then pour this chocolate batter into the second prepared pan. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Once the cakes have cooled trim the sides and level the top of the cake to make a 9 x 5 x 2 1/2 inch slab. Cut the cake lengthwise down the middle to make two "bars". Repeat with the other cake.
Warm the raspberry jam. (Assembly on a piece of parchment paper makes this less messy). Brush the glaze on the side of a vanilla cake bar and press it to a chocolate cake bar. Paint the top of the vanilla cake with glaze and place a chocolate cake bar on top. Paint the side of the chocolate bar and the top of the bottom bar (confused yet?) and place the vanilla cake. You should have two layers of alternating coloured/checkerboard cake.
Roll out the marzipan so that it will fit around and the length of your cake. A little bit of cornstarch will make it less sticky. Brush the cake with glaze, place it on the marzipan and then wrap the marzipan around the cake. Trim the ends of the cake flat. Enjoy with tea and big brothers!

Monday, July 06, 2009

What to do with all those berries!!!

Living in my little corner of the world I am lucky to be able to enjoy the berries of summer growing right in my own backyard - well, down the street and around the corner - but local none the less!
I always get a bit over excited when I see the new season of berries arriving in the grocery store or at the little huts along the road. I come home with enough berries to feed an army but only a family of four capable of eating them. What to do with all the berries? I freeze a lot of them to enjoy in the winter in muffins and cakes. I also make jam if I have the time but I really try to use them up when they are fresh and full of sunshine.
This recipe is from delicious magazine - a magazine from Australia that I found in my local bookstore in Nova Scotia (how's that for a global reach!). I used raspberries and blueberries for the tart that is not too sweet and highlights the flavour of the berries extremely well. This is a must try recipe!!

Makes 6

80g walnuts, toasted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 loosely packed cup (80g) brown sugar
12 sheets frozen filo pastry, thawed
100g unsalted butter, melted
1 cup (280g) thick Greek-style yoghurt
1 cup (240g) sour cream
raspberries or blueberries

Icing sugar, to dust
Honey, to drizzle
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease or spray six 4 inch tart pans.
Pulse nuts, spices and brown sugar in a food processor to finely chop.
Lay 1 filo sheet on the bench (keep the remaining filo covered with a damp tea towel as you work). Brush with a little butter and sprinkle with 2 tsp nut mixture. Lay another filo sheet on top, repeat with butter and nut mixture. Fold in half to form a 24cm square, trimming edges if needed. Brush top with butter. Push pastry into a tart pan, then fold edges, crimping and folding to form a 1.5cm-wide rim. Brush with more butter, then cover with a damp tea towel while you repeat with remaining filo, butter and nuts to make 6 tarts. Place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes or until crisp and golden. Cool in pans.

Turn out tart cases and place on plates. Combine yoghurt and cream, then spoon into the tarts. Top with berries, dust with icing sugar, drizzle with honey and serve.
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