Thursday, December 21, 2017

Cakes of the World - Tarte au Citron

I've never actually made a lemon tart of any kind even though I've certainly eaten my fair share. We're having a week of recurrent lemon food. Already this week we've eaten lemon curd in yoghurt, lemon poppy seed pancakes and now a lemon tart. Luckily, we all love lemons!


For the pastry:

340g plain flour
Pinch of salt
150g butter
90g icing sugar
2 eggs

Put the butter and icing sugar in a bowl and combine until creamy.

Add the eggs and whisk until well mixed in.

Stir in the flour a bit at a time until a dough is formed. Cover the dough ball in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

For the filling:

4 eggs
2 egg yolks
285g caster sugar
185ml thick cream
250ml lemon juice
Grated zest of 3 lemons

Preheat the oven to 190C. Roll out your pastry and line a fluted dish with it. Bake it for 10-12 minutes. When you remove the pastry case turn the oven down to 150C.

Whisk the eggs and the sugar together.

Add the cream, constantly whisking so it combines well.

Add the lemon juice and zest. Stir well and then pour into the pastry case. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until set.

I was a bit disappointed with how my tarte au citron turned out. The pastry was a little thick, it had puffed up a lot when pre-baked. Also there was a thin crust of crystalised sugar on the top. I'd used a thicker unrefined sugar so maybe that's why. It added a nice crispness to the top of the tart anyway. Other than those problems, it tasted great. The lemon filling was silky, smooth and tart. We all enjoyed it with a spoonful of thick cream on top.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cakes of the World - Chocolate Éclair

This cream cake hails from France and is named after the French word for 'flash of lightning' because they are eaten so quickly. After looking at the recipe I might have to get everyone to eat them slowly since they take so long to make.


For the Pastry Cream Filling

5 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornflour
1/2 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1 cup milk
1 cup single cream
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vanilla

Put the egg yolks, cornflour, salt and half of the sugar in a bowl.

Whisk them together until well combined.

In a pan heat up the milk, cream and remainder of the sugar. When the sugar has dissolved and the cream/milk is simmering remove from the heat.

Slowly stir the warm cream mix into the egg yolk mix until it's all combined. Pour it back into the pan and heat, stirring continuously!! until the mixture bubbles.

The first time I did this part I left the pan for a moment and the bottom part of the mixture clumped and burnt. I had to start again from the beginning. It happens really quickly so make sure you stir it well and keep a constant watch over it. That's why a couple of these steps don't have a picture, I didn't have time!

Pour back into the bowl and stir in the butter and vanilla, you'll be left with a beautiful silky smooth cream that it's impossible to resist a tiny spoon of to taste.

For the Ganache Topping

1/2 cup double cream
1/2 cup choc chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

This bit is nice and easy! Heat up the cream until bubbles start to form.

Pour the warm cream over the chocolate chips. Let it sit for 5 minutes. This is a good opportunity to sit down and relax for a few minutes yourself after all the excitement of the pastry cream!

Come back refreshed and add the vanilla. Stir until you have a smooth chocolatey ganache.

For the Choux Pastry

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
2 egg whites

Preheat your oven to 218C. In a pan, mix the milk, water, butter and sugar together. Heat on a medium heat until the mixture simmers. Add the flour all at once and stir well until the dough pulls away from the sides.

Let this cool for a few minutes then start to add the eggs and whites. Add them one at a time, mixing until they're completely mixed in before adding another egg/white. Finally stir in the vanilla.

Pipe the pastry in 2-3 inch tubes onto trays lined with baking paper. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 180C and bake for 30 minutes more. Remove from the oven and pierce one end with a knife so steam can escape. When cooled fill with the pastry cream and spread a layer of ganache on top. Et voila!

My choux pastry must have been a bit too loose because my tubes didn't stay as tubes and turned into lovely blobs. My eclairs have turned into choux buns. C'est la vie! We certainly didn't let the change of shape deter us and these cream cakes were devoured in a flash of lightning. I've never had an eclair with pastry cream in before, usually it's just whipped cream and I much preferred this version. The pastry cream is a beautiful thing. A mouthful of it encaased in light choux pastry and topped with chocolate ganache is a bite of heaven.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cakes of the World - Napolyeon Tort

This cake is the national dessert of Russia. It's made up of 16 layers of crispy pastry filled with a homemade custard. When I looked at the recipe the day I made this cake I wondered what on earth I'd been thinking. Past Emma really pulled a fast one on Present Emma who wasn't keen on making such a complicated looking cake!


For the pastry:
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2  egg whites
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 cups flour 
  • 4 tablespoons butter
For the custard:
  • 6 cups milk
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 16 tablespoons butter 

To make the pastry, mix together the butter and sugar until creamy.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff.

Fold the egg whites into the butter mix along with the salt and sour cream.

Add the flour a tablespoon at a time and mix well to combine. You should end up with a soft pliable dough. I did after adding another cup of flour. Wrap this dough in clingfilm and chill for an hour (longer if possible).

Preheat your oven to 190C and line two baking sheets with paper. Divide the dough into 16 pieces and roll out each one to a circle roughly 8 inches in diameter. I did mine slighly smaller than that so I could fit 2 per baking tray. Bake for 6 to 10 minutes until golden brown and slightly crispy on the edges. Keep going until you have a stack of 16 pastry circles.

Now to make the custard. Pour the milk into a big pan and warm through.

Beat together the egg yolks with the egg white and sugar.

Stir in the flour.

It makes quite a thick mixture. Pour this mixture into the warm milk and stir constantly until it's well combined.

Add the vanilla and butter, continue stirring over a low heat until thick and creamy. The custard smells fantastic at this point.

My custard did not thicken at all. The recipe tells you to let it thicken on a low heat but mine only got thicker by letting it heat up and almost boil.

Let the custard cool so you can assemble the cake. Place a pastry disc on a plate and add a layer of custard. Keep going until you've used all the pastry up finishing with pastry on top. Put in the fridge for about 4-5 hours. (long time to wait for cake!)

I really didn't know what to expect from this cake. Mine didn't really look like others I'd seen online. I felt like it'd be impossible to slice even. But when it came out of the fridge it was all soft. The custard had soaked into the pastry making it easy to slice. The custard had a lovely caramelised flavour and the very edges of the pastry were still crispy. It's like nothing I've tasted before but I can tell you it was delicious!

The recipe I used called it time-consuming but worth it. I have to agree!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Cakes of the World - Purukook

These cake bars are Estonian and are sometimes called Streusal Cake or Crumb Cake. It's a nice simple recipe with only a few ingredients, I just had to buy some more jam and I was good to go!


400g flour
85g sugar
A pinch of salt
200g butter
1 egg
1 jar of jam

Put the flour, sugar and salt in your mixer. 

Cut up the butter and add it to the bowl. Use the whisk attachment to mix into breadcrumbs.

Take out a third of the breadcrumb mix and set aside for a topping. Mix the egg into the remaining crumble and it'll form into a dough. press this dough into a greased or lined baking tray. I really need to get myself a square baking tray. The one I use is rectangular and too big, the mixture never fits so I have to scooch it to one end to make it work.

Spread the jam on top of the base. (I look like I'm involved in some product placement in this photo, I'm not getting paid I promise!)

Now sprinkle that saved crumble mix on top of the jam. Cover it quite heavily because I thought I'd done enough but it sinks into the hot jam when you bake it.

Bake for 30 minutes at 200C. At 28 minutes I could smell that it was just about done. I really like when recipe baking times are spot on as they're so often a bit off due to differences in oven temperatures. Let the cake cool for 5-10 minutes then cut into squares.

Leigh and Erin were quite unimpressed with this cake offering. Erin says they make it at her school for lunches and she's had it before. (Confirmed by Leigh, as Erin often claims to have tried a food before to avoid it). So much for giving them new food experiences! Haha. I really liked the streusal topping, it tasted a lot like eating fruit crumble and I'd like to try these cake bars warm with some custard. I liked how easy they were to make and that the base had a nice crumbly shortbread taste to it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cakes of the World - Bienenstich

This German cake translates as Bee Sting Cake, a name supposedly earned by a legend that the baker who invented it was stung by a bee attracted to the honey in the topping. I'll make sure to keep the windows shut when I make this cake just in case but I've never been stung by a bee. Much to JD's amazement (displeasure?) because bees seem to seek him out.

I decided to include this cake on my blog because it's quite different, it's made from a bread-like dough rather than a batter and is filled with an almond cream pudding.


For the cake:

1 5/8 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 pinch salt
3/4 cup warm milk

For the topping:

3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk
5/8 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon honey

For the filling:

1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup cornflour
1 egg
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 tablespoon cream of tartar

Mix together the ingredients for the cake. I did it in my stand mixer because I've been using it gratuitously since I got it. Mix it with the dough hook in the mixer or knead by hand until it's smooth and elastic. Cover and leave somewhere warm for an hour until it's doubled in size.

While the dough is rising you can make the topping. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a small pan and stir in the icing sugar and milk until dissolved. Add the almonds and honey then continue to cook until it boils. Take off the heat and save for later.

When the dough is ready, punch it down and roll it out into two circles. Place each circle into a greased cake tin. Add the almond mix to the top of one half. Bake in the oven at 205C for 20-25 minutes until the almonds have turned golden brown. Leave to cool.

Now it's time to make the filling. Dissolve the cornflour in a little bit of milk. Add it to a bowl on top of a pan of hot water along with the rest of the milk and the sugar. Stir constantly as it starts to thicken. Take it off the heat and stir in the beaten egg and almond extract.

Chill this pudding mixture in the fridge for an hour. When you're ready to make up the cake, whip the cream with the cream of tartar until stiff and then fold into the pudding mix. Spread the cream filling on the bottom half of the cake and top with the almond crusted half.

This was a really interesting cake, it was bready in texture with a lovely gooey layer on the top under the almonds. The cream filling added to it's overall lightness. It was really difficult to slice though and the top slid off when we'd eaten half of it. Leigh and Erin really enjoyed it and had seconds immediately. It was nice to try a different style of cake than the usual sponge we normally have.
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