Archive for April, 2011

Two Simple Chocolate Traybakes Made For Village Royal Wedding Tea Party

Saturday, April 30th, 2011
Raise A Glass For The Royal Toast

Raise A Glass For The Royal Toast

Like much of the country, and the world, we spent yesterday using the excuse of the Royal Wedding for a village party on the green and a day off the daily grind.  The weather behaved, raining during the wedding ceremony forcing my son and I from the garden to watch the pageantry, look at the dresses and see the kiss, then glorious sunshine for games and tea on the green in the afternoon.  Much fun was had by all ages and the familiar discourse of conservative, village life in rural North Yorkshire was reaffirmed, so that we can now spend the intervening time diluting this partiotism down again with more liberal & progressive ideas until our next celebration of Englishness or Britishness or Northerness comes along sometime in the very near future.

But the question was what to make for the tea party.  Everyone else had been making masses of sandwiches, sausage rolls and cupcakes; in fact, the tea tables groaned with far too much food.  We were told not to make a cucumber or egg mayo sandwich, which was fine by me, and asked to make some biscuits or such like.  As it was for the Royal Wedding, I recalled that Prince William had requested a tray bake for his stag party, being one of his favourites, so there was the hook - a simple chocolate traybake.

Sack Race On Green

Sack Race On Green

Chase The Yellow Chicken

Chase The Yellow Chicken

I trawled the web for ideas to find whether anyone had leaked the secret recipe but no such luck, but I found a few thoughts and from those have created my own ersatz Royal biscuity, chocolatey “no cook” tray bakes.  They were very good and went down a treat.

Rich Tea Tray Bake

Rich Tea Tray Bake

Crunchie Chocolate Traybake

60g / 2 oz plain chocolate
60g / 2 oz milk chocolate
100g / 3½ oz / 1 stick unsalted butter
2tbsp golden syrup
200g / 7oz digestive biscuits
100g / 3½ oz sultanas
100g / 3½ oz Crunchie bars (honeycomb, cinder or sponge toffee)

Topping

100g / 3½ oz dark chocolate
100g / 3½ oz Crunchie bars (honeycomb, cinder or sponge toffee)

1.  Lightly grease a 17cm x 26cm (7 inch x 10 inch) baking tray and line the base with baking paper.  Set aside.

2.  Firstly, crush the digestive biscuits and cinder toffee.  Put the digestives into a clear freezer bag and tie the end without much air in it.  Then with the end of a rolling pin smash the digestives into small pieces.  Do the same for the cinder toffee, but I like these in larger chunks for the texture; you can either do these in two batches or as one and then halve the amount – your proportions do not need to be precise, so don’t get hung up on the details.  Mix the Crunchie bar with the sultanas.

Crunched Up Cinder Toffee And Sultanas

Crunched Up Cinder Toffee And Sultanas

3.  Secondly, place the plain and dark chocolate for the base in a heatproof or metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Add the golden syrup and butter.  Melt these all together, stirring occassionally with a metal spoon.

Chocolate, butter and golden syrup

Chocolate, butter and golden syrup

4.  When melted, add the digestive biscuits, sultanas and honeycomb and mix all thoroughly together.  Make sure that everything has been coated with the chocolate mix.

5.  Spoon the mixture into the tray and put into fridge to set  while you prepare the topping.

6.  For the topping, melt the dark chocolate, then mix in the remaining crushed up Crunchie bars.  Take the tray out of the fridge and cover the base evenly with the chocolate topping.

7.  Leave in the fridge for about 1 hour to fully set, then turn out onto a chopping board.  With a sharp knife, cut into small rectangles of about  1½ cm x 2cm (½ inch x 1 inch).

Crunchie Chocolate Traybake

Crunchie Chocolate Traybake

Rich Tea Chocolate Traybake

225g / 8 oz rich tea biscuits
50g / 1¾ oz / 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
125g / 4½ oz golden caster sugar
1 free range egg, lightly beaten
100g / 3½ oz dark chocolate

Topping

125g / 4½ oz dark chocolate
75g / 4½ oz milk chocolate
50g / 1¾ oz white chocolate

1.  Lightly grease a small round cake tin (15cm, 6 inch in diameter), with a removable base.  Place a circle of baking parchment in the base.  Set aside.

2.  Crunch up the rich tea biscuits into small pieces, leaving some that are larger at about 1cm / ½ inch.  Cream the butter and caster sugar together, then add the egg and whisk again.

Crushed Rich Tea Biscuits

Crushed Rich Tea Biscuits

3.  Break the dark chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl and melt over simmering water.  When melted, add the sugar-butter-egg mix to the chocolate and stir in until melted and thickened to a light custard texture, which will take a couple of minutes.

4.  Stir up the broken biscuit pieces until throughly coated.  Transfer the chocolatey biscuit mix into the cake tin, making sure that the pieces are squashed right into all the gaps to make a firm, continuous base.  Put into the fridge for about 1 hour until thoroughly set.

Take The Crunchy Chocolate Base From The Fridge

Take The Crunchy Chocolate Base From The Fridge

5.  Remove the base from the fridge and leave at room temperature while you do prepare the dark chocolate.  Break the dark chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl and melt over simmering water.  While it is melting, gently slide the prepared biscuit base out of the cake tin.  Spread the melted chocolate over the base. smoothing until nice and even.  Put into the fridge for about ½ an hour.

6.  For the final flourish, melt the white chocolate and then drizzle over the top of the dark chocolate.  Place it all back into the fridge again for 2 hours to set fully. With a sharp knife, cut into small shapes of about  1½ cm x 2cm (½ inch x 1 inch); I know that it it is a circle so it doesn’t quite work but that gives the cook loads of scraps to test for deliciousness.

Drizzle White Chocolate Over Base

Drizzle White Chocolate Over Base

Cut The Cake Into Small Pieces

Cut The Cake Into Small Pieces

Bake A Coffee Cake To Put A Spring Back Into Your Step

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

I am going through one of those slow patches with an enthusiasm level akin to the doldrums, full of periods of calm, then storms, but all interspersed with light winds.  Nothing much seems to be working, with nowt falling into place.  It is as if your legs are moving but you are not actually getting anywhere or doing much of any consequence.

But the sun has come out and spring is here, so I have managed to take a few photos of spring and been for a few walks along the Ure with my daughter, chatting about this and that, while watching the white flowers bloom on blackthorn bushes, promising of sloes in the autumn.  And the rabbits hopping around undisturbed by the oak tree in the pasture.

Springtime = Coffee Cake

Springtime = Coffee Cake

While Pam Corbin has managed to keep me from mischief as I continue to play with recipes from her delightful book, “Cakes“.  I had a good go with her Wholemeal Orange Cake with Earl Grey Icing, which has a delicate orange citrus flavour, and made an amended version of her Coffee and Walnut Cake, morphing into a coffee cake for Sophie’s birthday (21 again) as I am not the greatest fan of walnuts, finding them bitter with a yucky aftertaste.

So here’s my Coffee Cake, based on Pam’s Coffee & Walnut Cake:

For the cake:

200g/ 7 oz organic plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
200g / 7 oz unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and left to soften
200g / 7 oz golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
2tsp coffee extract or 1tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1tbsp boiling water or 50ml Camp coffee  essence
25ml / 1¾ tbsp milk

For the filling:

60g /2 oz unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and softened
125g /4¼ oz icing sugar, sieved
1tsp coffee extract, or 2tsp instant coffee in 2tsp boiling water or 10ml Camp coffee essence

For the icing:
200g / 7 oz icing sugar, sieved
1tbsp strong fresh coffee

Preheat the oven to 220C/350F.  Prepare two 20cm/ 8 inch round sandwich tins by lightly greasing them both, then lining the bases with baking paper.

Sieve The Flour

Sieve The Flour

Sieve the plain flour and baking powder and set aside.

Put the butter into a large mixing bowl, then with an electric hand whisk beat to a cream, then add the sugar and beat until light and creamy.  Add the eggs, then 2tbsp of flour and beat together.  Add the coffee essence and beat until light and fluffy.

Now fold in the flour in 2 halves.  Add the milk and stir carefully to keep the consistency.

Divide the mixture between the 2 prepared cake tins, spreading out evenly with a spoon.  Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the tops are a light golden brown and springy to touch.  Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Prepare the buttercream filling by beating all the filling ingredients together until light and creamy.

Make the coffee icing, by mixing the ingredients together, adding perhaps 1-2 tbsp boiling water to get the consistency smooth, but still thick.

Put one of the cooled cakes onto a plate or cake stand.  With a sharp knife carefully slice the top off the cake to make it flat, enjoying eating this as chef’s perks.  Spread the top over with the buttercream, then sandwich the other cake over the top.  Now, spread the coffee icing over the top.

Prepare The Coffee Buttercream For The Coffee Sandwich Cakes

Prepare The Coffee Buttercream For The Coffee Sandwich Cakes

Coffee Cake

Coffee Cake

Enjoy with tea or coffee and the cake will last a week in an airtight tin.

Then you could enjoy Pam’s orange cake next…