Saturday, 23 October 2010

Carrot and Lentil Soup

This is my favourite soup - very quick and easy to make, very tasty - and filling too because of the lentils.

Fry onion, celery and garlic in a little oil for a few minutes, then add carrot and fry for a bit longer until it's warmed through.

Pour in vegetable stock, red split peas and some pepper, and give a good stir. Bring just to the boil then simmer gently, covered for 20-30 minutes.

When the carrots are soft and the soup is pulpy, it's ready.

I ate mine with a slice of butter on top. Tonight I reheated some of the leftover soup (it always tastes nicer the next day) and added a blob of sour cream and some fried mushrooms. Very tasty!!!

1 onion, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced or chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
70 g split red peas, rinsed
700 ml vegetable stock

Serves 2 generously

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Choc Mint-topped Chocolate Cake

My middle son asked for a chocolate birthday cake topped with cream and mint chocolate. I thought a simple cream topping needed a cake that was a bit more rich and moist than my other chocolate birthday cake.

I used a recipe from 'Apples for Jam' that I hadn't tried before called simply 'Chocolate cake with icing' but skipped the icing part.

Melt the butter in a pan, then add chopped up dark chocolate and cocoa powder and stir until all melted together. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl beat the egg whites until creamy and stiff.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks until creamy, then beat in the sugar. Add the melted chocolate mixture a little at a time, mixing until smooth.

Carefully fold in beaten egg whites, mixing until completely incorporated.

Scrape out into buttered and floured 24 cm springform pan (I buttered and base-lined my tin, and mine was 22 cm) and cook at 180 C for 30 - 35 min.

Cool the cake completely in the pan before turning out. I'm not sure if mine puffed up as much as it should have - I'm never very good at folding in whipped egg whites - but it was nice anyway!

I topped it with beaten cream and roughly chopped mint Aero. Yum!

180 g unsalted butter
50 g dark chocolate
30 g cocoa powder
3 eggs, separated
180 g caster sugar
125 g flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp milk

24 cm springform tin

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Chocolate Cake with Strawberries and Cream

A variation on the chocolate birthday cake - this is my little son's birthday cake for his actual birthday (rather than his party cake). It is the same recipe as the Chocolate Cake with Hundreds and Thousands but this time I cut it in half horizontally and put cream and strawberries in the middle. Then I topped it with chocolate icing and some halved strawberries.

It was very nice, but in future I would use a different recipe for slicing in halves, at this was difficult to cut without it falling apart. Because of the generous cracks in the top. Thank goodness for gooey chocolate icing that glued it all back together!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Chocolate Cake with Hundreds and Thousands

It's birthday cake-making time here, this was the birthday party cake for the smallest boy in the house. A chocolate cake with chocolate icing and hundreds and thousands (a bit like a huge chocolate freckle).

This is the recipe I usually use if I'm asked to make a chocolate birthday cake. It uses cocoa powder, is quick and easy and not expensive. You just put all the ingredients in a food processor or mixer, then whizz it all up.

If you don't have a mixer or food processor, put everything in a big bowl and beat everything together by hand - that's how I always used to do it. Just make sure the butter is very soft or you'll be there for weeks.

All combined...

...ready for the cake tin (buttered and base lined). My tin is 22 cm. Cook at 170 or 180 C depending on how fierce your oven is.

After about 55 minutes (stick a skewer or sharp knife in the middle part to check it's cooked right through) take it out of the oven and leave to cool.

This cake always gets cracks in the top especially if you use a food processor, I've found. I choose to see this as a good thing, because it means that the icing gets right down into the cake. It's best to use a thickish icing so the cracks don't show.

I spread on some chocolate icing, then decided to get fancy and try a baking paper cut-out number. This was all done while eleven 6- and 7-year-olds rampaged around the house, so I was a bit crazy.
It took me about an hour to decorate the cake as I kept having to go and supervise children and tell them to stop running etc. Luckily it was ready just in time!

Putting hundreds and thousands on a dome-topped cake is a very tricky thing to do. They all roll and bounce around the place. I'm going to be finding them all over the house for months to come.

The cake was a big success...

Where did it all go?

185 g butter, very soft
330 g (1 1/2 cups) caster sugar
3 eggs
225 g (1 1/2 cups) self-raising flour
110 g (3/4 cups) plain flour
50 g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
250 ml (1 cup) warm/hot water

Chocolate icing
65 g butter (ie the rest of the 250 g block)
3 tbsp milk
25 g cocoa powder, sifted
22g g icing sugar, sifted (or use icing mixture and skip the sifting)

Place butter and milk in a small pan and heat gently until butter is melted. Pour into a large bowl and blend in cocoa powder. Stir in icing sugar and beat until smooth. Either use immediately to give a smooth, glossy finish or allow to thicken for a buttercream-type finish. If it gets too thick, add a little more milk. (For a cake with cracks, like this one, make sure the icing is thick enough to fill in the cracks before spreading over.)