Baking, Cakes, Catering, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Meringue Gateau – a cake for all seasons!

A few weeks ago on twitter Evin was looking for suggestions for an alternative Christening cake and I suggested this one. This is a cake that I’ve used for christenings, birthdays, First Communions and even a small wedding. It’s versatile, elegant and relatively simple to make but it does look impressive!

I made one for a ‘surprise’ birthday recently and decided to go for three layers rather than the normal two. You only need three things to assemble this cake – meringues, butter cream and whipped cream , lots of it!

For the Meringue Discs, I used 8 egg whites and 16oz caster sugar whisked together in the Kenwood until mixture formed stiff peaks (NB make sure your bowl is clean and dry before adding the egg whites !)

Btw meringue measurements only even seem to work for me in imperial – 2 ozs sugar to each egg white.

Draw 3 20cm/8″ circles on parchment paper – turn the paper over so pencil doesn’t get on cake and pipe the meringue mix evenly over the three circles. Don’t worry there will be some leftover – I just pipe these as baby meringues.

Now comes the part where everyone seems to disagree – I cook the discs at 130 C Fan for 30 mins, check to see how they’re doing and normally end up leaving them for another 10-15 mins at 100 C Fan. You’ll know the meringues are done when you can lift them off the paper easily. I always leave my meringues to cool in the (switched-off!) oven.

Please note  it’s very useful to stick a tea-towel in the oven door to remind yourself that there’s something in there – twice baked meringues are not good – trust me I know!

Next you need to make Chocolate Butter Cream. For three layers I used 9 oz butter, 13oz icing sugar and 3 oz Green & Black’s Cocoa Powder  – blend all three ingredients in a food processor and add in good dash of rum or brandy to loosen the mixture.

You also need to whip lots of Glenisk cream – I think I used at least a litre on this cake (see I’m incapable of sticking to one measurement system – must be the engineer in me!)

Now to assemble the cake, sorry gateau!

Use a little butter cream to keep the base meringue layer in place on the cake board , then carefully spread butter cream over the first meringue disc.

Then cover the butter cream with whipped cream (I never said this was going to be low calorie, did I ?)

Place the next meringue disc on top of the cream and then repeat the chocolate butter cream and whipped cream layers. Top with the final meringue disc

Then just in case there isn’t enough cream – you need to cover the entire cake in more of it!

I put it in the freezer to set overnight at this point – if time is of the essence you can skip this step and decorate it straight away.

Now came the tricky bit – I normally just decorate the top with lots of chocolate and baby meringues but something made me want to write on the top this time (never again!). I did lots of practising……….

and I got lots of twitter support from Arnelle  and  Rosanne on how to pipe writing, freeze it, lift it off paper onto the cake, use stencils…… I even tried following Zack’s instructions for making a mini piping bag….

And this is what I ended up with ….

I may need more practise on my writing but the cake itself went down very well even if the birthday girl wasn’t as surprised as she should have been!

I hope you like it too!

Happy Cooking!

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Baking, Cakes, Catering, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Afternoon Tea Treat…..Lemon Cake

This is a very quick post in response to requests on twitter for  for my apparently “famous” lemon cake recipe !

I found this recipe several years in one of those little books that sometimes come free with the Good Food magazine and it’s become a firm favourite!

The original recipe used an ‘all in one’ method which I found didn’t work for me so I reverted to the old fashioned creaming of the butter and sugar first (in my trusty Kenwood of course………..)

It’s a quick and easy cake to make and it freezes well – always good to have one on standby. We like to serve it with morning coffee or afternoon tea and it always goes down with our clients.  I hope you like it!

Hey Pesto! Lemon Cake

No Servings:        15 mini squares
Oven:                    180 C/Fan 160/Gas 4
 

What you need:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 75 ml milk
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Topping:
    • 100g caster sugar
    • Juice of 1 lemon

What to do:

  • Cream the butter and sugar together using K beater in Kenwood (or by hand if you’re feeling energetic!)
  • Add in the eggs and the milk to give nice light batter
  • Then fold in flour, baking powder and lemon zest.
  • Pour mix into a lined baking tin (approx… 20cm * 30cm) and bake in preheated oven for 30 mins – you want it golden-y colour and firm to touch.
  • Make the icing by heating together the sugar and the lemon juice until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Pour the icing over the cake and leave to cool.
  • Once cooled cut into squares ,  dust with icing sugar and serve on a pretty plate!

PS I have made a gluten free version using Dove’s Farm GF flour and a teaspoon of Xanthan Gum – it works!

Happy Cooking!

 

PS2 apologies for lack of photos of finished cake but I did say this was a quick post!

Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Healthy Eating, Recipes

A Healthy Start – to the Day and the New Year!

Once again I’m distracted away from cook book reviews………..well I was trying to be a radio star!!!

This week I was thrilled to be invited onto the Today with Will Faulkner radio program to discuss my favourite topic – food. I thought I was going in to promote my cookery classes in Hugh Lynch’s Pub but instead was given a  brief  to talk about Healthy eating for New Year .

Thinking about this I decided that the best thing would be to make small but effective lifestyle changes – starting with the most important meal of the day – breakfast!

I had to admit, when Will asked me about porridge and how to encourage children to eat it, that I CAN’T abide the stuff – I can’t even stand to look at it, never mind cook it or worse still eat it!  However I do appreciate the healthiness of porridge oats and I have no problem eating them in other forms – bread, granola or even my Mum’s famous oatmeal biscuits!

So as  ‘props’ to my interview I brought along my favourite breakfast  (and porridge alternative!) –  Granola &  Glenisk Greek-style yoghurt and oaty brown bread – all I was missing was the coffee!

Here are the recipes for same – except the yoghurt of course!

If you can get your hands on them – Kilbeggan Organic Porridge Oats are the best in these recipes!

Breakfast Granola

This is based on a Jill Dupleix recipe – I tend to add whatever seeds and dried fruit I have to hand. My Christmas batch had a lot of dried cranberries in it! Just watch the sugar content when you’re choosing dried fruit.

No Servings:       10+ 
Oven:                  150C/Gas 2            

 What you need:

  • 400g Kilbeggan  Oatmeal Flakes
  • 3 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp linseed
  • 100g flaked almonds
  • 100g hazelnuts or walnuts
  • 50g dessicated coconut
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg (freshly grated)
  • 100g dried fruit – cranberries, cherries, apricots….
  • 100g sultanas

What to do:

  • Mix oats, seeds, nuts and salt in a large bowl.
  • Heat  honey, olive oil and spices in small pan until just melted.
  • Pour liquid over dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Spread evenly over two lined baking trays.
  • Bake for 20-30 mins, ‘shaking’ once or twice, until nicely toasted.
  • Remove from the oven and add in the dried fruits.
  • Allow to cool and then store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
This is really delicious served with Glenisk Yoghurt – especially the Natural Greek Style one!

Margaret’s Oaty Brown Bread

This recipe comes from my friend Margaret – I love it so much I’ve asked her permission to share it.  I have substituted molasses for the egg that was in her original recipe . It only takes 5 minutes to put together – quicker than going to the shop!

No Servings:         1 Loaf
Oven:                     220C/200 C Fan/Gas 5

What you need:

  • 4oz /125g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 4oz/125g  oatbran
  • 4oz/125g  pinhead oatmeal
  • 4 oz/125g Kilbeggan oatflakes
  • 1 tsp bread soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 dessertsp molasses/treacle
  • 15fl oz/ 425ml  buttermilk

 What to do:

  • Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. (Make sure to sieve in bread soda)
  • Make a hollow in the centre and pour in buttermilk & treacle. Mix quickly & well. Pour into lined 2lb bread tin.
  • Bake in hot oven for 20mins then reduce heat to 170C/Gas 3  and bake for another 15-20 mins.
  • Turn out of tin and check for ‘hollow’ sound.
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Of course it’s not just for breakfast….

I hope you enjoy the recipes and thanks again to Midlands 103 for inviting me in – hopefully there will be more chances for me to rabbit on about all things food!

Happy Cooking!

PS there are still two classes left on the ‘Easy Entertaining’ course in Hugh Lynch’s …..

Catering, Cookbooks, Cooking, Food

To resolute or not!

New Year’s Day always seems to be a day for reflection and for making great plans for the forthcoming year. Though I remembering reading somewhere that new year resolutions would be much more successful if made any time other than on January 1!  So maybe I should wait until February 1 before trying to improve my life!

One thing I am determined to do is blog more – thankfully  December was very busy month for Hey Pesto! so I’m afraid lots of things were neglected. I am going to get back on track with working through my cookbook collection (which surprise, surprise is still growing!)

I want to give more cookery classes, starting with ‘Easy Entertaining’ this month ( I love this poster designed by Ken of Any Given Food)

I want to update my own skills by attending a few classes myself – all suggestions welcome!

I can’t believe this is Hey Pesto! ‘s 8th year in business so here’s to 2012 being a good one! I’m doing a ‘Grow Your Business’ course at the moment and I need to do lots of homework before my next mentoring session next week!

But most importantly I want to enjoy life, eat lots of good food and spend time with friends and family.

So have you made any resolutions?

Happy New Year!

Yvonne x