Monday, 20 February 2012

Pancake Day 2012

Pancake Day 2012 by Charlotte

The humble pancake officially pops up once a year - probably once a month at my house - unofficially. Personally I don't think you can beat a good pancake for breakfast. My favourite filling would have to be blueberries or raspberries mixed in with the batter so that they enjoy maximum time in the hot pan, exploding their juices everywhere; a gruesome but very tasty death for the fruits. A dash of maple syrup goes pretty well on top, finishing this dish off nicely.

This year we have chosen savoury pancakes (followed by sweet ones) which have a distinct whiff of Italy about them. Filled with ham hock (a cheap but superbly flavoured cut); buffalo mozzarella which works a treat if you keep several pancakes warm in the oven as the cheese simply melts, spreading its brilliance throughout the pancake; cherry tomatoes and a twist of black pepper. Simple but very very effective.

For a basic pancake I use:
120g sieved plain flour
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
300ml milk

Mix the flour and salt, whisk in the eggs and then gradually add the milk. You should have a thick batter that is a similar thickness to single cream. Make sure all the flour is mixed in and there are no lumps.

Heat a small knob of butter in a frying pan and turn the heat up high. Turn the heat to medium before adding a ladle sized amount of batter to the pan. Ensure the batter is evenly spread. The pancake should take around 30 seconds to cook and you can then flip it to cook the second side.

If you're making savoury pancakes then I suggest adding the filling, folding the pancakes up and keeping them warm in the oven so that all the flavours come together.

I have just about grown out of trying to see how many pancakes I can eat in one sitting, however, I always make sure I squeeze in at least one classic lemon and sugar pancake.

Happy flippin'!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Black Forest Cupcakes

As you may have noticed there has been a flurry of significant birthday's in the Keston Kitchen, all of course which have been celebrated with the requisite amount of food and feasting.
Back at the end of November it was Ceri's turn to party into her third decade.
When deciding what to bake to mark this occasion I knew the result had to be suitably glamorous and boozy!
I decided on Black Forest gateau cupcakes with cherry brandy. I think the results went down well, the cupcakes all made it safely to the pub although not all of the safely made it into someones mouth...

For the recipe I used the Humming Bird Bakery chocolate cupcakes as a starting point and then got quite carried away with the decoration!

Ingredients: Makes 16-18 cupcakes

For the cakes:
100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140g caster sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter at room temperature
120ml whole milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

For the decoration:
A jar of black cherry jam
3 tbsp cherry brandy (could use Kirsch)

200ml double cream
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2tsp cherry brandy
dark chocolate to grate over at the end
16-18 fresh cherries

Pre-heat the oven to 170C.
Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a free standing electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on a slow speed until you get s sandy consistency. We don't have a mixer so i used a handheld electric whisk.
Separately whisk together the milk, egg and vanilla extract together in a jug, then slowly pour about half into the flour mixture, beat to combine and make sure you get rid of any lumps.
Mix more slowly as you add the remaining milk mixture, scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth but do not over mix.
Spoon the mixture into paper cases until 2/3 full and bake in the pre-heated over for about 20 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly and then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

When completely cool use an apple corer to remove a small plug of cake from each cupcake and dollop about half a teaspoon of cherry jam into the hole before replacing the plug. i found this could be done without really discarding any of the cake.
Heat 2 tbsp of the cherry jam in the microwave and strain if necessary to remove any lumps, them mix the runny hot jam with 3 tbsp cherry brandy and brush the mixture liberally over the top of the cupcakes.

Whip the double cream and stir through the icing sugar, vanilla and brandy. If you have a piping bag use this to pipe swirls of the cream onto the top of the cupcakes once the jam/brandy mixture has fully soaked in.

Finally to finish, place a cherry on top of each cake, grate over a little dark chocolate and i also added white chocolate stars which i sprayed gold (with edible spray).

Best enjoyed at a sophisticated birthday party (ideally by eating them but you can always smear them across your friends faces instead!)

Rachael xx