Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter! Please enjoy this delicious Whole Lemon Cake.

If you like lemon then I feel quite confident you will love this luscious, moist, delicate, many layered lemon flavour cake from the ever lovely Mary Berry - it uses a whole lemon in the cake part of the recipe, meaning skin, zest, pith, juice - everything but the pips, and an unusually made sugared zest for the decoration! I have not seen a recipe using either of these techniques before so instantly I was intrigued when I watched Mary mention such in one of her episodes aired on Aunty Beeb - the colloquial name for the BBC.

To the cake without further ado! I made a half of Mary's recipe for a small cake as there are only two of us and, even though we could easily and happily eat a full sized cake, I prefer to keep us and the cake on the smaller size by baking mini cakes in a 6" diameter pan. I did also bake the cake in one pan and then split the tall cake into 3 layers - Mary does two cakes that she splits into 4. Click on MARY for the link to her original full size cake recipe.

First make your sugary zest for the top of the cake

The peel of one lemon preferably organic - either peel and cut into fine strips or use a zester which will automatically give you fine long strips.

2oz sugar

1. Put the peel in a  small pan, cover it with boiling water and add half the caster sugar. 

2. Boil vigorously for one minute.

3. Drain the peel and reserve the resultant nicely flavoured simple syrup for another use.

4. Scatter evenly onto non-stick parchment paper and sprinkle the remaining sugar over.

5. Put in a warm place to dry out for as long as possible or overnight, until crisp - if you are in a hurry, dry out in a low oven 110C/225F for 30 minutes - I left mine in our wood burning stove with the door open for the evening. This is a nice crispy crunchy version of candied peel that has a delicate flavour and could be used in and on top of many a sweet recipe.
Ta dah.....
Now for the cake....always read through the recipe one or two times before you begin so you know what is involved - you don't want any surprises half way through!
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F
YUM - three types of lemon - whole chopped, juice and sugared zest!
  INGREDIENTS: Have everything at room temp and make sure your butter is good and soft.
1 large thin-skinned lemon - I couldn't find any thin skinned ones in Belfast recently so I used a relatively thick skinned one and it was fine but I imagine a Meyer lemon, or even two because they tend to be smaller, would be wondrous in this cake. Do get the thinnest skinned as you an though so less pith and more flesh.

5oz/140g/1 1/4 sticks of butter softened 

5oz/140g/ 1/2 cup sugar

5oz/140g/1 1/4 cups white flour

1 level teaspoon of baking powder

2 large eggs whisked

1. Here's the interesting part - put your lemon in a small pan, cover with hot water and boil for about 20 minutes until very soft.

2. Drain and cut in half, remove the pips and put the whole lemon in a blender or food processor and chop until smooth but with some chunks - so don't puree it, allow to cool.

3. Add all the remaining cake ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth OR if you don't have a food processor like me and you like to do all these things by hand cream the butter til very smooth, add the sugar and cream again and then add all the rest of the ingredients and cream until smooth.

4. Add half of the lemon pulp and mix evenly.

5. Like I said earlier I made one small cake in one layer - so - butter and flour a 6" diameter cake pan and dollop all your batter in, smooth the top.

6. Bake for about 45 - 55 mins. until nice and golden brown and a skewer pricked into the centre of the cake comes out clean AND the cake is shrinking a little from the edges of the pan - at about 30 mins. check the cake and if it is browning too much, as mine was, put a hat of parchment paper or foil to stop it getting burnt.
Just out of the oven
7. Leave to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then turn over onto a wire rack to cool - I decided to use the bottom of my cake as the top because it was so smooth so no need to turn the cake back over from the wire rack.

8. Whilst your cake cools you can make the filling.
1oz/28g/1/4 stick soft butter

6oz/175g/1 1/2 cups icing/confectioners sugar

 5oz/150g/well mounded 1/2 cup creme fraiche or marscapone - I prefer the creme fraiche for the slight tanginess.

the rest of the boiled chopped lemon
 1. In a food processor blend the butter and sugar, by hand cream the butter and slowly add the sugar to cream mixing well between additions - eventually it will be hard to blend anymore so then....

2. Add the creme fraiche or marscapone and blend really well.

3. Add the remaining chopped boiled lemon and blend well - to be honest mine looked a little curdled but it didn't go too far and it tasted really good - with butter and lemon in there I can't imagine it would ever not be a little curdled.
1. Make sure your cake is completely cool or the filling will melt.

2. Mark your cake for two cuts and then be brave and cut into three even horizontal discs:
A close up of the cakes texture
  3. Slather the filling almost to the edges of one of your cake discs, pop the other on top and do the same, pop the final disc on top thus:
 Now make your topping:

3 1/2ozs/100g/heaped 3/4 cup icing/confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon or more lemon juice 

Put the sugar in a small bowl and add the juice bit by bit until you get a smooth and flowing but slightly stiff icing then pour it forth onto your cake top - sprinkle the sugary zest over - I then added some chopped crystallized ginger for a little bite - a good bite - a nice addition.

It's a lovely sophisticated cake - the whole lemon gives it an elegant flavour, a little marmaladey because of the pith - it is neither too sweet or too tart, it is moist and light but toothsome - and I bet it will taste even better tomorrow!


If you are interested in either of the prints you see in the background on these pics - Blue Rhapsody and Pink Quilt Design - you can find both at my Spoonflower shop in fabric, wallpaper, wrapping paper and wall decals and in my CafePress shop on all manner of items - Thanks You!
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My new design "Gilding the Lily" - please vote for me at Spoonflower!

Here is my latest design/illustration called "Gilding the Lily" - a title I think is self explanatory!
 I originally hand painted this in watercolour on paper and then scanned, cleaned and Photoshopped the files ready to be uploaded both to my Society6 and Spoonflower shops to make it available as iPad and iPhone cases, framed and stretched prints, tote bags, fabric, wallpaper and so much more.

Here are pictures of some of the items with links to purchase them below the images:
Indoor and outdoor pillows available with and without inserts HERE
Shower curtains available HERE

Women's and men's t's are available HERE in a plethora of colours.
 Kids t's are available HERE and Baby Onesies HERE

Allover printed tote bags HERE
Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone cases HERE
Mugs are HERE

Rugs are a brand new item at Society6 and they are available HERE
Stationery cards are HERE
For other items and designs in my Society6 shop please click HERE 

Gilding the Lily is also available as an archival print, hand signed by me - with personailzed signature if requested - from my ETSY shop

Coincidentally this weeks recent competition at Spoonflower was a call for Lilies so I created my original design into an allover repeat and entered it into the competition - I would be ever so grateful if you would be kind enough to vote for me by clicking on this
You can only vote once, I can't tell you where my design is as it shuffles for each person voting, you click on the tick/check mark upper left, the border goes green and then put in the code at the bottom of the page!
Here's the design to look for:
 and here is that design in repeat:
I think I'll be trying this design out with perhaps a blue ground to see how it looks as an alternative/addition to the black.

Thanks for stopping by - next up is an interesting twist on Hot Cross Buns for Friday IF they work out - well I've changed my mind since I wrote this post (I think I'm doing a very lemon cake instead for Easter) but if you want gorgeous Hot Cross Buns please check out my friends Anne blogpost about such at Carrington Lane Bakery. Here's a pic of her perfect buns:

 In the meantime if you would like to bake a faboo cake for Easter why not try a Simnel Cake bursting with dried fruit and oodles of marzipan - click HERE for my recipe.
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Simple sublime Maple Syrup Tarts

What a little beauty this is - simple, elegant, unassuming in the looks department but packing a complex wallop with it's flavour - another one of those wonderful recipes that belies the simplicity of it's ingredients and method. These Maple Syrup Tarts are marvellous! They are like a cross between an English custard tart and a pecan pie minus the nuts. They are creamy, buttery, custardy, chewy and sweet without being cloying. If you like Maple Syrup make them as soon as you can. I found this recipe at
Kitchen Vignettes by Aubergine 
and decided to try a half recipe because I don't have much syrup and felt, and rightly so hooray!, that this might work well as mini pies.

Once again this year I have made my own maple syrup with sap from my one big old maple tree - it has been a strange sap season thusfar - it started really late because of the never ending cold and there's only been one day so far with it really flowing, the last 2 days it hasn't flowed at all even though it seemed like the conditions were right - above freezing and sunny but narry a drop has dripped so perhaps my syrup making days are already over for this year.
Sap freezing on the way to the pail. 

So - to the recipe: Enough for 10 small delights

PASTRY: Please do weigh your ingredients if you can - the result will be much more reliable!
Start with everything cold, cold, cold - I even put my flour and sugar in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour before I start making the pastry!

5ozs/ 1 1/4 cups of white flour 

4ozs salted butter - hardened in the freezer  

2oz/heaped 1/4 cup of sugar 

about 2 to 4 fluid ounces/1/8 to 1/4 COLD water - the amount will vary depending on the weather and your flour 

METHOD: This is by hand and not in a cuisinart but if you want to use a machine adaption should be easy - you just swish a couple of times for each step until the dough comes together in a ball. 

1. Sift the flour and add the sugar and blend.

 2. Grate the hardened butter into the flour:
3. Gently work butter into flour until it resembles coarse meal or swish in a food processor to achieve the same.
4. Add some of the water and start squushing the pastry and keep adding bit by bit of water until it can be formed into a non-sticky ball - less water is better so squush hard until it comes together: 

5. Put into the fridge to rest for at least one hour - or as long as you like. 

6. Remove your dough from the fridge and allow it to warm slightly for a few minutes then roll out to about a 10" circle, cut as many circles as you can and then reroll the rest to end up with 10 circles - I am making these tarts in small muffin tins and used a 4" diameter glass to make my pastry circles to fit into the tins as seen below - note the pastry does not go all the way up the sides of the tin.
7. Now pop the pastry back in the fridge while you make the heaven that is the filling. By the way - I only have one muffin tin with six holes so I made mine in 2 batches of 6 and then 4. 

Have your oven at 325F
Enough for ten mini tarts but double this if you want to make a single 9" tart

2oz/ 1/4 cup of salted butter

4 fluid ounces/ 1/4 cup half and half/light cream

1/2 tablespoon white flour

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 large egg whisked

6 fluid ounces/ 3/4 cup maple syrup

1. Gently boil the maple syrup for a few minutes to thicken.

2. Take off the heat and whisk in the butter until it is melted. 

3. Mix in the cream.

4. Put the flour into the measuring jug you had the maple syrup in, and add some of the maple butter mix and whisk until smooth:
5. Then add the egg and whisk some more, then add the rest of the maple butter mix and the salt and whisk until smooth.
6. Take the pastry cases out of the fridge and pour the filling into the pastry cases all the way to the top.
 7. Bob into the pre heated oven and bake for about 35 minutes turning the tin around half way through to get an even bake.

8. Your tarts should look like this and if you jiggle them a little the centres should still have a bit of a wobble.
 9. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before running a palette knife around the edge of each tart to make sure they aren't stuck, then allow to cool completely in the tins.
As usual get the kettle on, kick your shoes off, put your feet up and enjoy a few of your new favourite recipe tarts!
Chewy top, creamy centre, slight weep as in most custardy tarts but a nice weep, yummy pastry - an all around delight!
I do hope I get some more maple sap so I can enjoy these again with my own syrup.
BTW if you like my Blue Rhapsody napkins as pictured in the background of these pics you can find them HERE!

Finally, finally, finally the seemingly never ending winter is over (better keep my fingers crossed there just in case) and nearly all the snow has gone - although you can see some in the background of this pic of my favourite ancient apple tree bare as can be
and the daffs are starting to show through the leaf mulch in the woods beside the house - I cannot wait for the first balmy day and the first blooming flower, this spring and summer I am going to absolutely, undeniably, cross my heart enjoy every single second of every day!
Happy Baking - please be in touch if you make these tarts and feel free to post your pics of such on my 
Facebook page - thanks!!!
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My next post will be about my latest design
"Gilding the Lily"
Stay tuned!