Friday, 21 October 2016

Halloween Mandarin and Pistachio Cake

Its national baking week so I needed no further encouragement to bake a delicious cake, however my sandwich cake tins were looking a little sad so as a special treat I replaced them with two 20 cm non stick loose bottom tins from Homesense. They are perfect for lifting the cake out and also really good quality as they do not distort or buckle in the oven. There is wonderful range of bake ware available at Homesense and it was really hard not to over indulge and buy the whole shop.

I adore the combination of chocolate and nuts and this delicious mandarin and pistachio cake fits the bill perfectly. It is flavoured with Mr Organic Mandarin Conserve, filled with mandarin butter cream and topped with a chocolate ganache and the sides are coated with flaked pistachios. Is your mouth salivating well there is more to come.....

The cake is finally garnished with chocolate coated peanuts (M&M) and white chocolate shavings, crushed chocolate peanuts and flaked pistachio nuts. It is a cake that is simply delectable and one slice is most certainly not enough!!!!!

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Halloween Mandarin and Pistachio Cake
Beautiful citrus flavours combined with chocolate and pistachio nuts makes this cake moist and delicious.
  • 200 g Caster Sugar
  • 200 g Butter
  • 200 g Self raising Flour
  • 4 Eggs (or egg replacer equivalent to 4 eggs)
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Mr Organic Sicilian Mandarin Conserve
  • 2 tablespoons Warm water
For Chocolate Ganache:
  • 100 g Milk Chocolate
  • 170 ml Double cream
For Decorating:
  • 100 g Flaked Pistachio nuts
  • 30 g White chocolate
  • 30 Chocolate covered Peanuts (M&M)
For Butter cream:
  • 150 g Softened Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Sicilian Mandarin Conserve
  • 300 g Icing sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.2. Grease and Line two 20 cm cake loose bottom cake tins.3. Add the butter and sugar to a mixing bowl and cream together until light and fluffy, 4. Sieve the flour and baking powder in to another bowl.5. Add the water to the Sicilian mandarin conserve and mix it together. Add this to the butter and sugar mixture.6 .Add the eggs to the butter mixture and whisk together.7. Fold in the flour with a metal spoon.Divide the mixture into the two prepared cake tins and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Remove cakes from oven and cool them fully. Once cooked remove them from the tins onto a wire rack.8.Make the butter cream by whisking together the remaining butter, icing sugar and the Sicilian mandarin conserve.9. Break the chocolate into small pieces and put it into a large bowl.10. Warm the cream up and pour it over the chocolate, wait for the cream to melt the chocolate and them mix it to make the ganache. 11. To assemble the cake place one of the cakes top side down onto cake board. Spread some butter cream in the centre and place the second cake top side up onto the cream to make a cake sandwich.12.Using a palette knife spread the remaining butter cream onto the sides of the cake and then stick the flaked pistachio nuts onto the sides.13. Spread some chocolate ganache on top of the cake, do not over do the topping as we not want the chocolate to run down the sides. Arrange the chocolate covered peanuts around the cake and grate some white chocolate shaving in the centre. Also sprinkle some crushed chocolate peanuts and a few pistachio flakes on top of the cake.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 cake

This recipe is in Collaboration with Homesense in celebration of  National Baking Week.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Supper Club hosted by Mr Organic

Supper clubs are quite a trend these days and its a great way to meet up, enjoy good food and make new friends. I recently attended a supper club hosted by Mr Organic at Printworks Kitchens. The supper club was hosted to showcase all the amazing Mr Organic products that are currently available through Ocado.

The story of Mr Organic started in 2009 when three friends Carlo, Kostas and Valerio decided to take  a well established business of growing organic tomatoes a step further and create a whole new brand of organic food for people to enjoy.

There are many products in the range including Olive oil, fruit conserves, pesto, grilled aubergine, dip, mayo, grains, pasta, free from chocolate spread as well as organic rice. All the dishes that were served at the supper club featured a selection of Mr Organics products. The whole meal was vegan and was cooked by Judy of Plant Based Judy.

As we mingled amongst the fellow guests, We enjoyed a wonder cocktail made with
Mr Organic elderflower conserve, cranberry
juice with a dash of lime and gin.

We also enjoyed a starter of tomato and
olive brushetta that was made using
Mr Organics tomato and Olive add on.
The fresh tomatoes an a layer of sauce on a crisp brushetta was flavour packed and delicious.

The main course was delicious as we were served dish after dish of scrumptious food. We had vegan avocado pesto pasta with vegan spicy black rice salad. Both dishes were delightful, the pasta was rich and creamy and the black rice salad was very tasty with the addition of roasted almonds in it.

There were also apetizing sides of mixed salad with mustard vinaigrette and a chilli garlic bean salad.

The food was really tasteful and plentiful, and there was a variety of textures and flavours. It was apparent that using organic ingredients in a dish really does make it taste better.

The meal ended with two delectable desserts, vegan chocolate hazelnut pastries made with flaky puff pastry filled with Mr Organic chocolate and hazelnut spread and rustic vegan pear, mandarin and blackberry crostata. The desserts were the perfect end to a wonderful meal.

I was invited by Mr Organic to attend their supper club and to look at their new range of products. All the views and opinions expressed in this feature are my own as are all the photos.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Baking and food styling class by Currys

With the GBBO in full swing, the whole nation has been inspired to cook and bake. Supermarket sales have increased in baking products and bake ware sales have risen too. I too have been creating my own GBBO bakes that are inspired from the weekly episodes. My baking skills are not brilliant so when Currys who have partnered with Neff invited me to a Baking and Food styling workshop, I was delighted. I have recently upgraded my DSLR camera so to get to learn a little bit more about its functions, learn to bake and style sounded a perfect opportunity to improve my skills.

L'atelier de Chefs in St Pauls London is the perfect venue, their kitchens are kitted out with the newest Neff ovens and Hobbs which are state of the art. After mingling with fellow bloggers we watched a demo by Chef Fab who showed us how to bake a Hazelnut Torte. After the demo we split into groups to create our own bakes  so that we could decorate them and then use them to style and photograph with the help of Mademoiselle Poirot who is a food stylist and photographer.

The recipe was simple and easy to follow and our group worked in perfect Harmony to create our Hazelnut Torte, which was filled with stewed apples in apricot jam.

All our cakes turned out really good and there were no baking disasters. Whilst the cakes were cooling we had a mini photography session with Mademoiselle Poirot. We learnt how to get off the auto mode on a DSLR camera and use the aperture mode. We learnt about ISO, F stops and Shutter speeds.

ISO-This is a measure of the sensitivity of your camera’s digital sensor to light. On a bright day use a lower ISO, if its a dull day use a larger ISO 

Apeture- The aperture is an adjustable hole in the lens that lets light through into the camera. Aperture controls the depth of field in a photograph. It is measured in f stops, the higher the f stop the sharper the background, the lower the f stop you will have more blur in the background. This is great for food photography where you want to focus more on the actual hero of the recipe but want to blur the background.

Shutter Speed-  This is the length of time a camera shutter is open to expose light into the camera. 

Other tips:
Use a tripod to keep the camera steady.
Always shoot in natural light
Use direction of light from the side.
Use a light diffuser 

For beginners who wish to move from auto mode start off with:
1. Setting the camera ISO (smaller no for bright day and larger no for dull day)
2. Change the camera setting to A (Apeture mode)
3.Choose your f stop  to control how much blur -depth of focus you want in your photo.
4.Click away changing the f stop so see the different results of depth of focus.

Mademoiselle Poirot also shared some really good styling tips:
  • Food photos are most interesting when they tell a story.
  • Use props, backgrounds, plates, flowers, accessories.
  • Create your own style and don't be afraid to experiment.
  • Use colours and textures to create moods

Balance-Use Balance in photos they can be:
  • Symmetrical balance
  • Asymmetrical balance
  • Scale and proportion different levels
  • Use Radius so that tall items at place at the back and small at front
  • Use shadows, white area, textures to make photos more interesting.

Movement - This helps to draw eye into picture, examples of this are: 
  • Cutting a cake ie someones hand in photo on knife.
  • Dusting with icing sugar
  • Line of props from front to back

Colour- Use a colour wheel 
  • Analogue three next to each other
  • Complimentary colours opposite each other
These two photos were the styling created by Mademoiselle, the cake was autumnal so she has used fresh flowers and the ingredients from the cake to create a Autumn feel. The choice of cream and brown fabrics complimented the Autumn theme.

Being inspired by such a beautiful styling and keeping all the tips and tricks in mind, we were let loose to style and photograph our own cakes. Below you can see the results of the baked and styled Hazelnut Torte that I made with my group. 

I am really pleased with this photograph as I tried to create movement by showing that the cake has been sliced and it is being served. I also like the fact that you can see the apples in the filling which makes the ingredients used in the recipe more apparent. 

In this photo I have shown the slice of cake on a plate, it looks very rustic and very natural. I have used a really shallow depth of focus so that you can see the texture and filling in the cake more.

In this picture I was trying to make the cake look autumnal by making  use of the flowers and foliage as Mademoiselle Poirot had demonstrated in her styling.

I really enjoyed the baking and styling work shop hosted by Currys / PC world and Neff, I have learnt a lot from it. All the photos used in this post are my own as are the opinions expressed which are of my experience of the day.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Strawberry Popsicles

I love ice creams what ever the weather be it summer or winter and for me its always the right time to eat ice cream any time of the year. I enjoy making all types of frozen delights at home, especially no churn ice cream, frozen yoghurts, fruit sorbets, ice lollies and popsicles on sticks for my little nieces and nephews that visit often. For the kids I do try and keep the ingredients healthy and one really easy way to create a healthy popsicle is to use yoghurts and fruits.

In this recipe I have used Yeo valley limited edition strawberry and vanilla yoghurts which are made from organic ingredients with very little sugar. In the Yeo vally range you can also get natural fromage frais and fruited fromage frais too. Both these products have no added refined sugars so they are great for kids.

I have also used ready to serve custard  to make my popsicles, but you can make your own custard at home if you wish.

The beauty of these popsicles is that you can make them using any fruit and yoghurt flavour combination. Peaches work really well as do mangoes for these popsicles.

They also work well if you add pureed fruits as a base and then top the fruit with the yoghurt mixture which you can see I have done in the popsicles I have made in the shot glasses. To make these just add pureed fruit in the base of the mould and freeze for 30 minutes, after which top up with the yoghurt mixture and freeze for three hours.

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Strawberry Popsicles
Strawberry frozen delights on sticks that are creamy and delicious.
1. Slice the strawberries and line the Popsicle moulds with them. Place the moulds in the freezer for 30 minutes so that the strawberries stick to the moulds.(this makes pouring the mixture easier into the moulds without the strawberries dislodging.2. In a food processor whisk up the custard with the agave nectar and strawberry essence.3. In another bowl tip out the Yeo valley strawberry and vanilla yoghurt and mix it together with a whisk.4. Fold the whisked yoghurt into the custard mixture. If you have any remaining strawberries cut them into smaller pieces and add to the mixture at this stage.5. Remove the popsicle moulds from the freezer and pour the mixture into the popsicle moulds. Tap the moulds to dislodge any air bubbles. Put the popsicle caps into the mixture and return the moulds to the freezer for another three hours to set fully.If you have any remaining mixture left you can pour them into mini shot glasses and put a lolly stick in the centre and freeze them to make more popsicles.6. To de mould dip the popsicle mould into some warm water and they should slide out of the moulds easily.
Prep time: Freezing time: Total time: Yield:8 popsicles

This post is in collaboration with Yeo Valley.
The patterned Nador plates and Nador mini cups featured in this post were press samples supplied by Forma

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Mini Genoise Mousse Cakes

Week 7-Dessert week of GBBO has been and gone and the challenges to my mind are getting harder and harder. This week we saw contestants  make Roulade as the signature challenge, followed by technical challenge of making Marjolaine, a layered meringue with cream and nuts followed by the show stoppers Mousse cakes. All the bakes looked extremely difficult and you could clearly see the stress on the contestants faces as they struggled to create the perfect bake.

This week I have attempted to create my own version of the mini mousse cakes. I have used a vanilla genoise sponge recipe from GBBO and made a vegetarian mango and cardamon mousse topped with fresh mangoes and strawberries and finally finished off with a decorated chocolate collar around the mini cakes.

Some of the ingredients for my challenge this week were provided by Tesco

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Mini Genoise Mousse Cake
Light Genoise sponge topped with delicious cardamon mango mousse and garnished with fresh mango and strawberries and pistachio nuts.
  • 50g butter (melted)
  • 100g sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 140g Plain flour (sifted 3 times)
  • 120g Whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Icing sugar
  • 120g mango puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cardamon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla essence
  • 8 Strawberries
  • 1 Fresh mango
  • 200g Milk chocolate
  • 10 pistachio nut sliced
  • 1 sheet Edible chocolate transfer
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/ 400 degrees F2. Line a square tin with grease proof paper and keep it aside.3.Place the eggs and sugar in large bowl and set it over a bowl of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Beat with an electric whisk until the mixture is thick and fluffy then remove the bowl from the pan and continue beating for three minutes.4. Add the melted butter and then gently fold in the flour.5.Transfer the batter to the prepared cake tin and smooth the top.6.Bake the cake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.7. Remove cake from the oven and leave to cool.8.To make the mousse, whip up the cream with the icing sugar until it forms stiff peaks.9. Fold in the mango puree, cardamon and vanilla essence very gently. Place the mousse in the fridge to chill.10 Peel the mango and cut it into thin slices.Hull the strawberries and cut them into thin slices.11.Using a cookie cutter that is 6 cm in diameter, cut 6 round cakes from the large cake, any off cuts can be used for making trifle.12. Break the chocolate and melt it in the microwave at 30 sec intervals until its melted. Remove from the microwave and keep aside.13. Cut the chocolate transfer paper to fit around the cake rounds and cut 6 sheets. Make sure they are at least 1 inch taller than the cake as there will be need to be a cavity to fill the mousse.14. Place the chocolate transfers on a baking sheet and using a palette knife thinly spread the melted chocolate on the design,15 Place the tray in the fridge for the chocolate to semi set for about 5 minutes.16 Remove chocolate wrapper from fridge and wrap them around the cake rounds. Return the chocolate wrapped cake back to the fridge to set completely. (about 1 hour)17. Remove the chocolate covered cakes from fridge and gently peel off the plastic wrapper to expose the chocolate design.With a sharp knife level the top of the cups.18. Spoon the mousse on top of the cakes and return the cakes to the fridge for 30 minutes.The mousse has no gelatin so it will not set fully but the chocolate sides of the cake will hold the mousse.19. To serve garnish the mousse cakes with mango slices and strawberry slices and sprinkle pistachio slices.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 mini cakes

Submitting this to :
Great Bloggers Bake Off with Jenny from Mummy Mishaps.

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