Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Daring Bakers June 2012 - Battenburg

Nish Whips Up A Dish was featured on Bon Appetite sometime last week! My whimsical post on Lemon and Mint Ice Cubes was featured in a post solely dedicated to unique and creative ice-cubes. This probably counts as one of the prouder moments of my food blogging career.

And so this seems like the perfect opportunity to thank all my readers for supporting this humble blog for the past 18 months. Thank you to each and every one of you for your emails and comments left which both wonderful and touching. I know I don't respond to every comment but trust me, each one brightens my day and genuinely brings a smile to my face. Nish Whips Up A Dish would be nothing without your support, encouragement and love. So a big thank you and here's a hugeee hug for every one of you <3

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Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.

Battenburg is a traditional British treat, where two layers of different coloured  almond flavoured sponges  are ‘glued’ together with apricot jam which is then covered in a layer of marzipan. Once sliced, a checkerboard pattern is evident.
My attempt was a semi-successful one. It’s become a recurring theme with these challenges that something is bound to go wrong. I decided to make a traditional Batternburg as it was always my favourite treat when in university. I followed the very helpful step-by-step instructions given by Mandy however when it came down to slicing the cakes evenly, I failed massively. I accidentally sliced off a big chuck of the pink layer, leaving it rather lopsided. In an attempt to salvage the mess, I tried sticking it back using apricot jam as the ‘glue’. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have used jam. The marzipan layer really pulls the cake into shape and I am very sure, it would have held the extra bit of the pink layer without the need of an adhesive.




The marzipan layer was a nightmare to work with. Firstly I didn’t have enough to go around and secondly the weather was far too humid to work with marzipan. Thirdly I ran out of icing sugar which probably explained the difficulty I had rolling out the marzipan. Anyway, I tried and semi-succeeded. I tried to make the cake look as pretty as I could, and that is worth something right? 



I would have made a second one, and possibly a third as I have an amazing flavour combination I want to try out, but my job is taking a lot of my time at the moment! I’m hoping things start slowing down because I am fed up with all the imperfect challenge results



Traditional Battenburg 

Serves 8

Ingredients

175g unsalted butter, softened
175g caster sugar
175g self raising flour
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp milk
65g ground almonds
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Red colouring
Apricot jam (or any other jam of your preference)
250g marzipan

Method
  1. Prepare baking tin according to instructions illustrated here, or if you own a batternburg tin, line and greaseit and set aside.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients and set aside. Combine wet ingredients in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients and beat until just incorporated and batter is smooth.
  3. Spoon half the mixture into one side of the prepared baking tin.
  4. Add droplets of red colouring to the remaining mixture until desired colour is achieved.
  5. Spoon the pink batter into the other half of the prepared tin.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and leave to cool in tin for a few minutes. Remove from tin and leave to cool thoroughly.
  8. Trim the edges of the cakes with a serrated knife.
  9. Cut each coloured cake in half lengthways so you are now left with four strips of cake.
  10. Neaten the strips and trim as necessary. Don't go overboard!
  11. Gently heat the apricot jam with a tablespoon of water.
  12. Brush the warmed jam on all sides of the strips and join together forming a checkerboard pattern.
  13. Dust a dry surface with a generous amount of icing sugar. Roll out marzipan, large enough to cover the entire cake.
  14. Brush one side of the cake with jam and set it down on the marzipan. Brush jam on the remaining three sides and start rolling the cake and marzipan until cake it covered.
  15. Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam of the marzipan is at the bottom.
  16. Using the blunt side of a knife, score patterns on the top of the cake and decorate as desired.
  17. Slice a thin layer of the cake to showcase the gorgeous pattern of the Batternburg cake.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Wan Ton Soup


For the first time in weeks (months?) I woke up on a Saturday morning feeling fresh as a daisy! No hangover, no fatigue in sight. Bright eyed and bushy tailed no thanks to an uneventful Friday night, with me happily tucked into bed by 10pm, I set about planning for my day of cooking and baking. No plans were made as I was adamant that my day would be spent pottering about in the kitchen. I made a quick trip to my favourite baking supplies shop; bought another stash of pretty cupcake liners, some novelty chocolate chips, doilies (!) amongst other basic baking ingredients.

First dish of the day was this delicious bowl of Wan Ton Soup, or Wan Tan as it’s spelt in the East. Wan Tons are basically dumplings which contain chopped prawn or pork or a mixture of both, served in a soup or fried. In Malaysia, Wan Ton Soup is a staple dish which can be found in most Chinese hawker stalls; usually this dish is served with thin strands of noodles forming a more substantial meal. However if like me, you’re on a diet, or simply prefer having a light meal, then this is the perfect alternative.


The filling for these wan tons/dumplings contained prawn, chives, spring onions, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, fish sauce and pepper. Simple ingredients which packs a punch! When de-shelling the prawns, always set the shells and head aside to be used to make a stock. This stock usually makes the soup, with a depth of flavour unobtainable otherwise.

These dumplings take about 30 seconds to cook in boiling water. A tell tale sign that the dumpling is cooked is when it floats to the surface. If using noodles and/or leafy green vegetables, blanch it in the same pot and remove when done. Assemble all components in individual bowls and pour the soup over.


Wan Ton Soup

Serves 3

Ingredients

Wan tons/Dumplings
10-12 fresh prawns, de-shelled and de-veined
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 inch ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp chives, chopped
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 chicken/pork/fish stock cube
1/4 tsp fish sauce
Pinch of salt
Generous dash of white pepper
1/2 tsp corn flour
Wantan/Dumpling wrappers

Soup
4 cups water
1 tsp sesame oil
A handful of prawn heads and shell
Salt and white pepper
Spring onions, chopped


Additionals
2 tbsp spring onion, chopped
Pak choi/ Spring greens
Red chilli, sliced
1 tbsp soy sauce

Method
  1. Rinse the prawns in cold water to ensure prawns remain firm. Pat dry with paper towel and chop into 3-4 pieces. Chop garlic, ginger and chives and add to the prawns.
  2. Season with sesame oil, fish sauce, salt, pepper, stock cube and corn flour and set aside for 1 hour.
  3. Start preparing the soup by bringing the soup ingredients to a boil. Leave to simmer for 1 hour. Strain and set aside in a separate pan. Heat as necessary.
  4. To assemble, place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of a wanton wrapper.  Brush water on the sides of the wrapper and gather all edges into the middle encasing the filling, by forming a parcel. Set aside on a dry surface and continue filling the wrappers.
  5. Bring a pan of water to a rolling boil. Drop 4-5 wan tons into the water at a time and leave to boil for 30 seconds. A tell-tale sign that the won ton is ready is when it floats to the surface. Remove and add to the soup or place into bowls immediately.
  6. Blanch pak choi/spring greens in the same water and shock it with cold water to preserve the vegetable’s crunch and colour.
  7. To assemble, place cooked wan tons in a bowl together with the pak choi/spring greens and pour ladles of soup of it. Top it off with a sprinkling of spring onions.
  8. Best served with a side helping of sliced chillies soaked in soy sauce.
  9. Wan tons can be made and frozen for up to a month. Once filled, store in a container and freeze immediately.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Bourbon Biscuits

Bourbon biscuits are my favourite kind of biscuits. So when I came across this recipe the other week, I knew I had to try making these biscuits in my own kitchen!

Bourbons are basically two chocolate biscuits sandwiched together with a thick layer of bourbon infused chocolate icing. If that already sounds like heaven, wait till you dunk it in hot mug of tea! This is a relatively simple recipe to put together and tastes a lot more decadent than a shop-bought biscuit, maybe because actual bourbon is used in this recipe!

This recipe only yields 10-12 biscuits, so doubling the ingredients may be a necessity if you, like me are a big fan of these chocolaty treats!

Bourbon Biscuits

Recipe from thelittleloaf

Yields 10-12 biscuits

Ingredients

Biscuits

50g unsalted butter, softened
50g soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
110g plain white flour
20g cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Few drops - 2 tsp milk, enough to bring the dough together.
1 tbsp caster sugar, for sprinkling

Icing

50g unsalted butter, softened
75g icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp bourbon

Method

Biscuits
  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  2. Add butter and brown sugar to a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Butter  mixture should take on a pale light brown colour.
  3. Beat in golden syrup. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
  4. Add milk, 2-3 drops at a time until dough comes together. Transfer dough to floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes. Roll into a rectangle with a 3-4mm thickness. Cut into even rectangles, approximately 6cm x 3cm.
  5. Place on baking tray and prick the surface of the biscuits with a fork.
  6. Chill in fridge for 20 minutes or in the freezer for 5 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle biscuits with caster sugar just before transferring the baking tray to the oven.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. 
Bourbon filling 
  1. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add sifted icing sugar and cocoa powder. Beat until combined. Add bourbon and give the icing a final mix.
  2. Dollop a heaped teaspoon of filling on a chocolate biscuit and spread out it out evenly. Sandwich the biscuit and filling with a second biscuit.
  3. Repeat until all biscuits are filled.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Elderflower and Ginger Beer Drink



Of late, the weather has been more humid than usual, with flashes of rain which barely cools the air. As mentioned here, I tend to shy away from consuming carbs and protein, preferring salads, frozen yoghurt and ice cold drinks.

Having bought elderflower cordial (yay Ikea!) recently I was itching to create an elderflower inspired drink. My excitement of having discovered elderflower drink in KL stems from the fact that elderflower is pretty much unheard of in Malaysia. When living in the UK, it was virtually the only drink I would order when having a meal in the pub!




Instead of diluting the cordial with water, I used ginger-beer to create this Elderflower and Ginger beer Drink.. Both flavours paired well with one another and the fizz from the ginger-beer added a refreshing touch.  I also added a few lychees into the pitcher as there were an abundance of it in the kitchen. The flesh of the fruit absorbed some of the flavours of the elderflower and ginger beer which made it a pleasure to chew through once the glass was empty.
A few lemon slices were also added to the mix but this is entirely optional. It may seem that this drink has too many components; however rest assured it doesn’t. The mild flavours of each ingredient complement one another to create a delicious and refreshing drink that will quench your parched throat.



Elderflower and Ginger Beer Drink

Ingredients

One can of ginger beer
6-8 tbsp elderflower cordial
Ice cubes
Lychees
Juice from half a lemon
Lemon slices
Basil/Mint leaves for decoration

Method

Mix all ingredients together in a pitcher. Serve immediately.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Profiteroles with Drizzled Chocolate



I do realise that I’ve been posting an avalanche of dessert recipes lately. It’s hardly been helping the diet and new healthy lifestyle I’ve supposedly adopted but there is no way I’d survive the week where salads and soups and lots of runs thrown become the norm, without a reward of something sweet.

So here is another dessert post – specifically Profiteroles with Drizzled Chocolate!



This was my first attempt at making choux pastry and I was surprised at how simple the dough came together. Everything is done in a pot and doesn’t take much longer than 20 minutes from start till it goes in the oven. Choux pastry can be used to create a variety of treats; profiteroles, ├ęclairs or even a savoury pastry dish called. Once baked, it’s usually filled with cream or ice cream and is best consumed immediately. 



I initially envisioned a stack of fresh profiteroles filled with cream and passion fruit curd, generously drizzled with melted chocolate; but because this was the first time making choux pastry, I wasn’t sure if the pastry would hold up or would it even be tasty. So I went for the safe option of basic whipped cream and melted chocolate. The profiteroles turned out really well and scrumptious. I’ll definitely be making the passion fruit filled ones soon!

Profiteroles with Drizzled Chocolate 

Adapted from Pastry Cook

Makes 20 small puffs, 14 large puffs or 12 eclairs.

Choux Pastry

Ingredients

65 g plain flour
Pinch of salt
50 g butter, diced
150 ml water
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Method
  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C. Sift flour and salt on to a small sheet of parchment paper.
  2. Put butter and water in a pan simultaneously and heat gently until the butter has melted.
  3. Increase the heat and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and immediately tip in the sifted flour and beat vigorously until the flour is fully mixed into the liquid.
  4. Return pan to a low heat and beat the mixture until it begins to form a ball.
  5. Remove from heat and all to cool for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the beaten eggs a little at a time, beating well between each addition, until dough becomes a very shiny and smooth thick paste. It may not be necessary to add all the egg. The mixture will initially be lumpy but with vigorous beating it will become smooth and glossy.
  7. Spoon or pipe dough on to baking sheet, which has be dampened with water. Space well apart.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove and cool.
To fill:
  1. Pipe freshly whipped cream and arrange on a platter to form a dome. 
  2. Drizzle melted chocolate and serve.

Choux Pastry tips:
  • It may not be necessary to add all the beaten eggs. Use enough to ensure the paste holds its shape.
  • Choux pastry should be piped or spooned into required shapes while still warm. For best results, it should be baked immediately.