Sumptuous sponge cake

I have been looking at recipes for the humble sponge cake and am intrigued by the specifications of temperatures and treatment of ingredients, I wonder how much this actually affects the final product of the process. My usual method is to grab stuff from the cupboards and fridge, fling them together, mix and bake and this has earned me and my bakery a number of heartfelt compliments. I intend to make a number of simple sponges using different methods to compare the outcomes and determine the best way to make a sponge cake.

To start the process, I made a Victoria sponge sandwich this evening paying rigorous attention to every detail. In particular, I preheated the oven, lined the tins, sieved the flour and warmed both the butter and eggs to room temperature before starting the process. These are all steps that I have bypassed as a matter of course in the past. Beating the eggs and adding them slowly to prevent curdling is also something that I have never before attached importance to breaking all the eggs directly into the mixture and mixing as one. All this extra effort added very little time to the cooking process which was surprising as I was under the impression that avoiding these steps was highly efficient. The cake I made from the creaming method followed this evening was light and fluffy and softer than I have ever acheived before. Definately worth the extra effort!


A brief foray into Molecular Gastronomy

Having recieved a introductory molecular gastronomy for Christmas and made it a new years resolution to get back into cooking I set about creating a molecular gastronomy delight for tonight’s evening meal. As a trained experimental chemist, this field of cuisine should suit my talents and way of working more than any others. However, I find the whole field rather daunting and feeling less than inspired about a creation for this evening, I looked for a recipe online. This search yielded a number of very lengthy and complicated dishes that I felt distinctly incapable of following. Wanting to get more familiar with the range of additives in my kit I decided to create something simple using one of the ingredients. I selected carrageenan which is capable of setting a liquid into a flexible gel. I heated dark chocolate, water, sugar and a half teaspoon of carrageenan powder to boiling point and poured over blueberry coulis and caramel. The effect was almost instant with the gelification occuring as soon as the warm mixture touched the cold glass ramekins. Not only was the result a delicious, smooth and silky chocolate desert, carrageenan is apparently considered as soluble fibre, it contains 0 calories making the luxurious desert much less diet-busting than it tasted, I was thoroughly impressed with this quick easy chocolate pudding and will definatly be recreating it. I will upload the recipe with photographs later.


My new year may have to start in February at this rate as my resolutions are yet to start coming into effect and its already halfway through January. Oh well, I wouldn’t want to be conventional and start my resoutions at the same time as everyone else in the world would I? One of my resolutions was to start writing on a much more regular basis……hence this post……..and another was to start getting back into cooking. To that end, I have been reading through my collection of recipe cards collected over the years from different supermarkets and found some interesing dishes. Tonight I experimented with what claimed to be a moroccan fish stew created by the chefs at Sanisburys. This was meant to be a quick meal created simply and cheaply from a number of ingredients available at the supermarket chain. The recipe called for a can of ratatouille provencale which is not available at my local shop so I created my own and froze the additional portions made by virtue of the fact that I had to use a whole aubergine. This is placed on a bed of spring greens and topped with fish fillets before being baked for 45 min and then served with couscous mixed with chickpeas. I made a number of alterations to the recipe as the original lacked the spiciness that I would normally associate with the cuisine of northern Africa. Adding the chickpeas to the ratatouille gave more variety of textures within the stew and the addition of turmeric, paprika, chilli powder and cinnamon gave the flavour of the stew the additional dimension that appealed to my spice favouring palette. The accompainying couscous was then made with chicken stock and chopped tomatoes, cucumber and walnuts were then stirred through to produce an interesting side for the fish stew with differing textures. All in all this was a delicious evening meal which won approval with my most fearsome critic….my boyfriend and now I have ratatouille in the freezer that I can use as a sauce base for future meals.