Cooking, Recipes

Ghoulish Bakes

I know I said this blog was about cook-books but hey it’s mine and I can change the rules, right?

Those of you following me on facebook will know that I have been trying to perfect my ‘Halloween Graveyard Cake’ before next weekend and some of you have requested the recipe so here goes…………

I found the idea for the cake in an old edition of BBC Good Food Magazine – the sponge is very easy and I decorated it with butter icing rather than chocolate.

If you’re doing the headstones – make sure you allow the chocolate to set fully before adding the writing (trust me I know what I’m talking about!!)

First Attempt
Take 2

Graveyard Cake

 

Oven:

180C/Gas 4

 What you need:

  • 375g soft brown sugar
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 85g cocoa powder
  • 200ml milk
  • 175 mlsunflower oil
  • 4 eggs
  • Butter Icing:
    • 225g/ 9oz icing sugar
    • 175g/6oz  butter
    • 50g /2ozcocoa
    • Splash of milk/rum
  • ‘Headstones’
    • Rich tea finger biscuits
    • 50ml/2 fl oz. cream
    • 50g/2 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped

What you do:

  • Mix the dry ingredients – the sugar, flour and cocoa in a large bowl (make sure to break up any lumps in the sugar!)
  • In a measuring jug mix together the milk and oil and lightly whisk in the eggs, then add to the dry ingredients and mix to a smooth batter.
  • Pour cake mix into a lined cake tin (20*20*5 cm).
  • Bake in preheated oven for 40 mins until firm to touch.
  • Allow to cool in tin for 10 mins before turning out.
  • To make the butter cream – whizz icing sugar, butter and cocoa inn the food processor and add a splash of milk to ‘loosen’. (If you’re making it for an adult party add rum or brandy instead of the milk!)
  • For the ‘headstones’, pour the cream in to a small saucepan and bring to just ‘below the boil’. Pour over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts. Use a pastry brush to paint the chocolate onto the rich tea biscuits and leave to cool.
  • Decorate the cake with butter icing, ‘headstones’ and lots of imagination!
My next challenge is to try the meringue ghosts to attach to the headstones!
I hope my nieces and nephew like it next weekend – It will be interesting to see how they choose to decorate the cake!
Happy Halloween!
PS for anyone who worked in Louise’s this is a simpler method of the famous ‘oil cake’ – you don’t have to separate the eggs!
Chef, Cookbooks, Cooking, Recipes, Uncategorized

Apples, apples everywhere………….

Okay so I finally started a blog and decided on a theme – now my dilemma was which cookbook  got to open the show!

Thanks for all your suggestions and I will get round to them all I promise – even to Hugh (eventually….) !

The problem was solved by the amount of apples in my kitchen demanding to be used (thank you to all my wonderful neighbours). I decided to stew and freeze some of them and then remembered a recipe for a ‘sauce’ cake. Cue  Sophie Grigson’s Country Kitchen

This book was a Christmas present from my sister after my time in Ballymaloe Cookery School  and her inscription  ‘to the petite chef with the big ideas’ still makes me smile!  The splashed pages and the handwritten notes will convince you that this is one of the workers in my collection – I love the Rhubarb & Honey Compote, and her sweet & sour red cabbage is a Christmas must.

In the introduction the book is described as  ‘a record of a year’s cooking in a country kitchen – but with a modern twist’ . This is borne out in recipes such as ‘pot-roast pork with star anise, ginger. tamarind and port’ or ‘cauliflower with sundried tomatoes, garlic and capers’ .

The book is laid out by season with beautiful photographs and informative notes on ingredients. The recipes are well laid out and easy to follow and most importantly they work! My biggest peeve is that it doesn’t have a photograph for every dish – I like to know what I’m aspiring to!

My favourite and most used from this book is Sophie’s recipe for ‘Gooseberry Sauce Cake’ – simple and quick and adaptable for most fruits. I’ve tried it with gooseberries, rhubarb, plums and most recently with apples and the result is a lovely moist cake everytime!

So if like me you’re overrun with apples you should give this a try:

Apple Sauce Cake

What you need:

  • 10oz/280g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 40z/110g caster sugar
  • 40z/110g demerara sugar
  • 4oz/110g butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 pt/300ml stewed apples

All set!

the original recipe includes 1/2 tsp salt which I omitted as I use salted butter
What you do:
  • Firstly stew your fruit – I used a mix of sweet and cooking apples as I like the difference in texture. Peel, core and chop the fruit. Then stew with a little water over a low heat for 20-30 mins. I didn’t use any particular quantities as I froze the rest of the fruit in 1/2 pint portions for future cakes!
  • When fruit is stewed to your liking measure out 1/2 pt for your cake (btw apologies for any confusion and if I appear old fashioned but I tend to bake in imperial and cook in metric!)
  • Mix all your dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and sugars together
  • Fold in wet ingredientsFold in the lightly beaten eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract. Finally stir in the stewed apples.
  • Pour into prepared tinPour mixture into a lined 9″/23cm springform tin and sprinkle a little extra demerara sugar over the top.
  • Sophie’s instructions are to bake the cake at 180C/Gas 4 for 45 minutes. Having tried it on several occasions it takes 30-35 minutes in my oven at 170C Fan so I’d advise you to check it after 30 mins!
  • Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10-15 mins before turning out. Then there’s nothing left to do but serve it with some lightly whipped cream!
The finished product!
***************
There are lots more recipes in this book that I’ve earmarked to try and as this is the first year my pear tree has produced any fruit next up is Sophie’s  fresh pear relish……….
Cookbooks, Cooking, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized

Books, Books and more Cook Books!

I love books – I grew up in a house full of them – and one of my best childhood memories is going with my Dad to the bookshop to buy a new one as a weekly treat (and the row that ensued one week when I refused to pick ‘Robinson Crusoe’!)

I still consider buying books a present to myself and there are some that I’ve had for years that I could never get rid off.  And then there’s my cookbook collection…………

Those of you who know me on Twitter will know that I suffer from a ‘slight’ cookbook addiction and that cookbooks have a tendency to follow me home from shops!

Surely a girl can never have too many shoes or cookbooks?

I have approximately 200 cookbooks (well 188 to be more precise!). I know this because due to recent house-painting they all had to be removed from the shelves so allow the painters near the walls and I took the opportunity to count them!

The true number probably exceeds 200 as I found a few more today which had obviously been mis-filed! And then of course there’s the collection of booklets, food magazines, recipe files; not to mention the five lever arch folders from my time at Ballymaloe ( cookingisfun.ie)!

As I was re-filing them I noticed that while some were much thumbed and much-loved there were others had barely been opened but were sitting there like trophies (yes Gordon I’m talking about you!)

So then I had an idea – why not use my cookbook collection as the basis for my blog (with a few other bits & bobs thrown in of course!) . All those books that are sitting there looking pretty will now have to pay their way! I’m challenging myself to work through them and try a  recipe a week and give my tuppence worth on the book!

Now I need to examine my collection carefully and select the first star………………Any requests?


Uncategorized

Hamlet has nothing on me!

I could teach Hamlet about procrastination. I have toyed with the idea of blogging for a long time now but have managed to successfully avoid actually doing it!

I have gone to a WordPress camp with Margaret from A Year in Redwood to find out what was involved – I felt I had wandered into a strange country – without an interpreter!

I have joined the Irish Food Bloggers Associationwith all good intentions.

I have attended two Food Blogging Photography workshops – and I still use my i-phone!

I have even been at a food bloggers lunch hosted by the lovely Joanna from Smorgasblog.

So this is it – I’m taking the plunge! The catalyst – peer pressure fromMammy’s Kitchen, Nessa’s Family Kitchen and Paula’s Sweet Treats  on the train to the Irish Food Pix event last Friday (oh and a little ‘subtle’ encoragement from The Katz Miaow, Wise Words & Like Mam Used To Bake among others on Twitter!)

What to write about – well that surely requires more procrastination  – I could:

  • try recipes from my large collection of cookbooks
  • talk about my cookery classes
  • write about my catering business
  • justify dining out just so I can blog about it
  • village life
  • ……
More than likely it will be a mixture of all the above and more so please accompany me on my journey…and if I hesitate too much then feel free to give me a push!
Now before my courage deserts me I’m going to press publish – once I find the button….
PS my name is Yvonne, I used to be an engineer but now I run a catering business called Hey Pesto! and yes I’m mad about all things food!