Archive for the English food Category

London Baking Battenberg cake recipe

Posted in Baking, Cakes, English food, Recipes with tags , , , , on 31/05/2011 by libbyplummer

London Baking BattenbergI first made my own version of Battenberg cake for the royal wedding back in April, but I didn’t post a recipe as I hadn’t quite perfected it – until now. This classic, British almond-flavoured cake was supposedly invented in 1884 for a royal wedding (for more info, see my previous Battenberg post).

Again, I haven’t opted for the classic pink and yellow colours, instead going for the pink and green from the London Baking logo (if you hadn’t already worked it out, this is inspired by The Clash’s London Calling album cover which was based on Elvis Presley’s first LP). Without further ado – here’s my recipe for London Baking Battenberg cake.

What you’ll need:
110g/4oz self-raising flour (sieved)
110g/4oz caster sugar (sieved)
110g/4oz unsalted butter (softened) or margerine
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
Paste food colouring
Apricot jam
Pack of marzipan

If you use all of the sponge, then this should make a cake that’s roughly the same size as the Battenberg that you buy in the shops. If, like me, you don’t have a tin that’s the correct shape and size then you’ll probably end up trimming alot of the sponge away to get straight edges so your cake will end up being about two thirds of the size.

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C (fan oven)/325°F/gas mark 3. Line two tins with baking parchment. Unless you have two tins that are exactly the right shape, you might need to use some ingenuity here. I used one brownie tin with a makeshift divider made from foil running down the middle to make two seperate baking areas, one for each colour sponge. What you need to end up with is two rectangular pieces of sponge that are deep enough to form the cake when sandwiched together. Two loaf tins would also work well. As you can see from the picture, the layers are slightly wonky, but it doesn’t really matter. If you want it to look perfect then you’ll either need to get your ruler out or invest in some pans that are exactly the right size (or ones that come with adjustable dividers).

Once you’ve finished horsing around with cake tins and foil, it’s time to make the cake. Plonk the sifted flour, sugar, butter/margarine and baking powder into a bowl and cream together with a fork. Next add the two eggs, mixing after adding each one, then add the vanilla extract and almond extract. One it’s all combined, give it a quick go with a whisk to make the mix light and fluffy. Divide the mixture between two bowls and add your chosen food colouring. I use Sugarflair paste colouring, adding a tiny amount at a time with a cocktail stick and mixing in with a fork until the shade is right.

Dollop each colour mixture into a separate tin (or separate area of the same tin) and bung in the oven for 20 minutes (or until very slightly golden brown and firm but springy to touch). After taking out of the oven, let the two layers cool in the baking tray for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack and leaving to cool completely.

Battenberg close-up

Now, the tricky bit. You need two rectangles of sponge, so if your pans weren’t exactly the right size to start with, grab a sharp knife and carefully level the top of the pink cake so that it’s flat and and is twice as wide as it is high. Do the same for the green cake. Spread a thin layer of apricot jam onto the top of the pink cake and stick the green layer on top. Cut lengthways down the middle so that you end up with two strips. Lay one on it’s side so that you have a line of pink and a line of green. Spread a thin layer of apricot jam on the top. Take the other strip and lay it on top the other way round so that the pink lays on top of the green underneath and vice versa.

Next, lightly dust a chopping board/worksurface with icing sugar, take a pack of marzipan and roll out until it’s about 3mm thick. You need enough to cover the four long sides of the cake, so try to roll it into a roughly rectangular shape (you can trim the excess afterwards). Rather than the usual yellow marzipan, I used white, which is much paler than the yellow, but not really pure white.

Next, heat a couple of tablespoons of apricot jam in a saucepan until it’s warm and slightly more liquid-like (being careful not to burn it). Using a pastry brush, cover the top and two long sides of the cake. Using the rolling pin for support, carefully lift up the marzipan and place on top of  the cake so that both sides are covered and there’s enough left on one side to cover the bottom. Smooth each side down and trims the ends of necessary. Once attached, paint the remaining melted jam onto the underside and fold the rest of the marzipan over so that all four sides of the cake and now wrapped in marzipan and trim the excess. Don’t worry –  it’s a lot easier than it sounds. Slice and serve with a nice brew (Americans – that means tea, not beer, unless you fancy an ale with your cake, of course).

Royal wedding Battenberg cake

Posted in Baking, Cakes, English food with tags , , , , , , on 01/05/2011 by libbyplummer

Royal wedding battenbergAlong with the Anarchy in the UK cupcakes that I made for my mate’s royal wedding tea party,  I decided to pen a speedy recipe for some regal-themed Battenberg cake. Supposedly, this square-patterned cake was invented in honour of the 1884 marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter to Prince Louis of Battenberg, with the four squares representing the four Battenberg princes.

Battenberg cake

Sporting the patriotic red, white and blue (rather than the cake’s traditional colours of pink and yellow), my attempt tasted surprisingly like the real thing. However, due to a limited amount of time, and a mild hangover, it was a bit of a bodge job (the marzipan was too thick and all of the layers were completely different sizes), so I’ll wait until I’ve made it properly before I post a recipe. Stay tuned.

Royal wedding tea party leftovers

Royal wedding cakes

Anarchy in the UK cupcakes for the royal wedding

Posted in Baking, Cakes, English food, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , on 28/04/2011 by libbyplummer

Royal wedding cupcakesOk, so vanilla cupcakes aren’t going to topple the monarchy or ignite a revolution, but they are inspired by The Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK AND they have a circled A on them. Anything to make my over-enthusiastic purchasing of Union Jack cake cases make me look slightly less like a royalty-loving pillock.

And for the recipe? Read on and get stuck in.

Will and Kate mural

What you’ll need:
110g/4oz self-raising flour (sieved)
110g/4oz caster sugar (sieved)
110g/4oz margerine
1tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1tsp vanilla extract

For the buttercream icing:
225g/8oz icing (confecitoner’s) sugar (sieved)
100g/3.5oz softened unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the royal icing:
1 large egg white
250g/9oz icing (confectioner’s) sugar (sieved)
lemon juice (if needed)

Whatever sprinkles/food colours you desire

Makes 12 cupcakes

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C (fan oven)/325°F/gas mark 3. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases. Plonk the sifted flour, sugar, margarine and baking powder into a bowl and cream together with a fork. Next add the two eggs, mixing after adding each one, then add the vanilla extract. One it’s all combined, give it a quick go with a whisk to make the mix light and fluffy.

Royal wedding cupcakes

Distribute evenly between the 12 cupcakes cases and bung in the oven for 20 minutes (or until slightly golden brown and firm but springy to touch). After taking out of the oven, let them cool in the baking tray for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Make sure they’re totally cool before you add the icing, or it won’t stick.

Royal wedding cupcakes

For the buttercream icing, sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl and cream in the butter using a fork. Once it’s all combined and smooth, add in any colouring that you require ( I use paste colouring). On these particular cakes, I added a few drops of icing whitener, which pretty much does what it says on the tin. Once it’s ready, either pipe on with an icing bag or use a flat knife to spread onto the cakes.

Royal wedding cupcakes

Obviously you don’t have to pipe circled As onto your cakes (I don’t believe it’s a common move in the world of baking), but if you want to then read on. Whisk the egg white together with the sieved icing sugar until the misture is white and stands in stiff peaks. If it feels too thick to mix (or pipe), then add a couple of drops of lemon juice. Colour with paste colouring, pop into an icing bag and away you go.

Will & Cake royal wedding cake shop

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Cakes, English food, Gifts, Out and about with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 26/04/2011 by libbyplummer

Mini Royal Wedding cakesIf you want to celebrate the upcoming royal nuptials though the medium of cake then get yourself down to the Will & Cake pop-up shop at Maiden, 188  Shoreditch High Street, London.

William and Cake

The brainchild of Miss Cakehead, the shop will be open for one day only on Thursday 28 April 2011, the day before Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot. You’ll be able to take your pick from a wide range of sugar-coated regal treats including Will and Kate cake pops from Molly Bakes, mini replicas of William’s McVities Chocolate biscuit groom’s cake from Black Cherry Bakery and Mini Wedding Cakes from Leshie Loves Cake.

See Will & Cake for the full menu and to get your orders in.

Via: Maiden
Via: Miss Cakehead

Photos: Nathan Pask

Easter brownies with smashed up Cadbury’s Mini Eggs

Posted in American food, Baking, Cakes, English food, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , , on 24/04/2011 by libbyplummer

I considered making zombie Jesus biscuits for Easter but I didn’t have time (next year, readers, next year). Instead I decided on some less blasphemous brownies. I topped the whole lot with melted chocolate and covered one half in Dr Oetker citrus strands and edible glitter. Stumped for inspiration for a Easter-based topping for the other half, I finally decided to smash up some Cadbury’s Mini Eggs, before adding some edible silver spray, just in case the brownies didn’t look quite camp enough.

Easter citrus brownies
The basic recipe (which can be used on its own, without the need to set about a bag of Mini Eggs with a rolling pin) is an old classic from my mum. As with most of the best chocolate cake recipes, the taste is accomplished with cocoa and sugar, rather than chocolate, which results in a tasty, moist cake rather than a greasy, sickly stodge, like many of the brownies that you get in the shops.

What you’ll need:
250g/8.82oz unsalted butter
325g/13oz caster sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
100g/4oz plain flour (sieved)
75g/3oz cocoa (sieved)
0.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt

For the topping (optional):
1 big bar of plain chocolate
Citrus sprinkles
Edible glitter
Cadbury’s Mini Eggs
Edible lustre spray

Makes 12 brownies

Easter brownie

What to do:
Grease and line a square brownie tin (roughly 10 x 10 inches, but it doesn’t really matter) and pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C (fan oven)/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and pour into a large bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix together. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture with a fork in betweeen each one. Add the sieved flour and cocoa powder (actual cocoa, not drinking chocolate), baking powder and salt and mix it all together.

Easter brownies

Pour into the tin and spread evenly using a spatula, then bung in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes. Once the cooking time’s up, remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool completely.

For the topping:
As I mentioned earlier, you can leave the brownies plain, or if you require some comically over-the-top seasonal topping then read on. First, pour a small amount of water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down so that it’s simmering. Break the bar of chocolate into small pieces, drop into a heat-proof bowl and sit the bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure that there’s some distance between the water and the bottom of the bowl. Stir the chocolate until it’s all melted then pour over the cake and spread out evenly with a spatula.

Easter brownies

Then add whatever decorations you require before the chocolate sets. I used citrus-flavoured sugar strands from Dr Oetker, edible glitter, Cadbury’s Mini Eggs (which I smashed up in a bag with a rolling pin), and edible lustre spray.

Here on London Baking, I do like a tenuous link, so in honour of my smashed up Mini Eggs, here’s Smash it Up by The Damned. Happy Easter!

Pancake Day recipe

Posted in Baking, English food, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , on 08/03/2011 by libbyplummer

English pancake

It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that today is Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday. English pancakes are a doddle to make and are traditionally served with lemon juice and sugar. Here’s my simple recipe (actually it’s my mum’s recipe):

What you’ll need:

4 oz/115g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 egg
1/2 a pint/285ml of milk
Oil/butter for frying
Lemon juice, sugar or whatever for topping

What to do:

Sieve the flour into a bowl, and beat together with the salt, egg and milk. Grab a frying pan and either melt a tiny bit of butter or spray with it with some oil ( I use olive oil) over a medium hot hob. Once the fat is hot, dollop a spoonful of pancake mixture into the pan – how much you use depends on how big you want your pancakes to be.

Tilt the pan in all directions to spread the mixture around. The first side should be done after a few minutes, once you can lift the pancake away from the pan with a spatula and it’s looks golden brown. Now the important bit.

You can either be boring and flip it over using a spatula or, as tradition dictates, you can toss it in the air so that it flips over and the lands the other way up in the pan. Once you’ve done that, and no doubt scraped a couple of failed attempts off of the floor, cook the second side of the pancake as you did with the first.

Serve with lemon juice and sugar, or if you prefer, mix the sugar with a little cinammon for some added flavour. You can also use savoury toppings, such as cheese, if you don’t have much of sweet tooth.

(The pancake in the picture isn’t mine – it’s from Google images, let me know if it’s yours and you want a credit!).

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Rings

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, English food, Recipes with tags , , , , , , on 06/02/2011 by libbyplummer

Rock 'n' Roll Party RingsI’ve been wanting to try out some homemade Party Rings ever since I saw a recipe for them in Kate Shirazi’s Cookie Magic book. For the uninitiated, the Party Ring is a circular British biscuit (cookie, if you’re American) made by Fox’s that comes in a variety of pastel colour combinations. First introduced in 1983, Party Rings have been a staple of children’s parties ever since and are remembered fondly by most of us that grew up in the 80s (and 90s).

Original Party Rings

The following is just my basic biscuit recipe – it’s really the fancy icing that makes them Party Rings, in this case, Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Rings, thanks to the lack of a pastel pink and purple colour scheme. You can use whatever colours you like, but I decided on black and red to match my Marshall micro amp, along with a touch of blue because, er, I like blue. Don’t be put off by the fiddly icing as it really is much easier to recreate than it looks, in fact I made these during breaks in Saturday’s two Six Nations rugby matches.

What you’ll need:

For the biscuits:
90g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt

For the icing:
300g icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
Paste food colouring

What to do:

First, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl using a fork, then beat in the egg and vanilla extract. In a seperate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and then add to the original mixture. Stir together until it’s all combined. Once all mixed in, roll the dough into a ball and wrap in clingfilm. If the dough feels a bit too sticky to be rolled out, then add a touch of flour. Leave the dough to chill in the fridge for about an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C/160 degrees C (fan oven)/gas mark 4. Sprinkle some flour onto a chopping board or kitchen worktop and roll the dough out until it’s about 50mm thick, adding a touch more flour to the board as you go along to prevent it from sticking. Cut out circles of the dough, and then cut a hole in the middle of each one. I used the screwcap from a minature Jack Daniels bottle (yes, really) as it was the only thing I could find that was the right size. If you’re got a steady enough hand then you could cut the holes out freehand with a sharp knife. I also used a sharp knife to add grooves to each biscuit to match those found on the underside of the real thing. It doesn’t really make any difference to the taste, but it did kill a few minutes while I was waiting for the match to start up again.

Party Ring underside

Place the the cut-out circles (groove-side up) on a lined baking sheet (make sure they’re well spaced, or they’ll fuse together in the oven when the dough expands). I use a non-stick Teflon baking mat as it’s mega-easy to clean and can be used over and over again. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the biscuits are slightly golden around the edges and slightly soft in the middle (they’ll firm up while they cool). Once out of the oven, transfer them to a wire cooling rack and after they’re fully cooled down then you can make a start on the icing. Make sure they’re totally cool, or the icing won’t stick properly.

Party Rings with grooves

To make the glace icing, sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and add about four tablespoons of (not quite boiling) water from the kettle and mix together. If the icing is too thick, then add a bit more water (only add a tiny bit at a time). Next, separate the icing into different bowls and colour it. I use Sugarflair paste colouring as it’s much more effective than the liquid stuff. Make sure that you only add a bit at a time as you don’t need much (I use a cocktail stick and mix it in with a fork). Once coloured, you can use a knife to spread the icing on if you like, but I tend to just hold the biscuits upside down and dunk them in the bowl, a method I discovered some time ago by accidentally dropping a biscuit into the bowl. It’s best to ice the underside of the biscuits for a flat finish (i.e, the side that was on the bottom when they were in the oven). Next, take one of the contrasting colours of icing, get a decent dollop on a teaspoon and drizzle it across the biscuits in zig zags. Then, while the icing is still wet, drag a cocktail stick through the stipes you’ve made to create the marbled effect. It’s best to do a few biscuits at a time, so that the icing doesn’t dry in between.

Rock 'n' Roll Party Rings 2

Once you’re done, leave the icing to dry completely and you’re all set for your dazzling your friends with your double-tough take on a children’s party snack. Rock, and indeed, roll.

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