Sunken Apple Cake

It is that time of year where warm comforting treats are needed to snuggle up with on the sofa after a long day at work and a journey home in the twilight. Luckily it is also the time of year where a lot of fantastic ingredients that have been ripening over the summer are finally in plentiful supply. I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s blog a few weeks ago and couldn’t wait to try it out. I finally got around to it last night and I am smitten with this recipe. I altered the ingredients slightly based on what I had in the cupboard but in general remained faithful to the inspiration.

Ingredients

4 tiny apples – peeled, cored and halved
2 tbsp granulated sugar
juice of 1 lemon
125 g butter
80 g granulated sugar
2 tbsp honey
100 g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
2 eggs – separated

The only alterations I made were to account for the fact that I was short an egg to follow the recipe as described. I used a little less flour so the batter din’t become too stiff and added the milk before folding in the whipped egg whites to loosen the mixture a bit. I also left out the glaze which means that the honey flavour is very subtle but this was because Mr Elbi wanted to add custard to his! I also poured the lemon juice and sugar mixture from the apples over the cake before I put it in the oven and this gave a nice moist sticky texture to the top.

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Before and after baking

This was exactly what we were after last night to eat while watching Great British Bake Off Final having got cold and wet on the way home and suffering the first colds of the season. Soft, warming but light with fruit and an airy batter. I can’t wait to make this again perhaps with pears or plums.

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I did keep a perfect piece to photograph and upload here. Unfortunately I turned my back on it for a few seconds too long and it got scoffed by Mr Elbi. At least he enjoyed it. You can just about see here that the cake part is quite close textured. I think if using this slightly reduced mixture 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder is probably enough otherwise it rises a bit too much and collapses a little. Having said that, it did not affect the overall result too much and we had a great time eating and watching the last three great British Bakers sweating it out on the final. Everyone’s showstoppers were fantastic but I think Nancy stole the prize with her incredible edible Moulin Rouge (with moving sugar sails).

Povitica (Pov-e-Tee-za)

Autumn has arrived in Bristol and I for one am quite please. I do like the long hot summer days but there is something so cosy about a fresh, bright autumn day that I cannot help but enjoy them. It is currently at that blissful stage where you need a jumper on the way to and from work but it is daylight when you wake up and warm enough to eat outdoors in a T-shirt comfortably at lunchtime. Adding to my current happiness is my new job situation which came about quite suddenly a few weeks ago. I have now substituted 3 hrs of daily commute with a 15 minute walk each way.

To celebrate my new lifestyle I am doing a lot more baking and this week I was inspired by the Great British Bake Off technical challenge. This European bread with an unpronounceable name is made with enriched dough and a walnut and cocoa filling looked spectacular when the contestants made it last week and I was desperate to give it a go. It is a Paul Hollywood recipe which means time consuming but delicious. Paul’s recipes always seem to involve more ingredients, more processes and lengthier resting periods. There have been numerous times where I have chose a short-cut version of a recipe rather than following his faff-tacular instructions only to be disappointed. If you follow his method to the letter, the results are almost guaranteed in my experience. This Povitica was another example of just that. Having learnt my lesson from previous failures, I did exactly as ordered by the recipe on the BBC website with the exception that I halved everything (after all, there was only Mr Elbi and myself to eat it).

After making a heavily enriched dough (which took much longer than the recipe suggested to rise), and a nutty, buttery, cocoa-y filling, the dough is stretched as large as possible and the filling spread evenly on top. Then a giant swiss roll is made and snaked into a loaf tin. After another rise and LOOOOOOOOOONG bake, the loaf is read and comes out looking ordinary and golden. The magic of this bake come when you slice into it revealing the pattern created by the swiss roll.

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This is an absolutely delicious piece of baking (if I do say so myself). The savoury flavour of the nuts balances out all the sugar in the dough and the filling to give a fantastically moreish product. This did take me about 4.5 hours to make though. Perfect for my new lifestyle / a quiet Sunday at home.

Week 4 – Pies and Tarts

Argh! My own person Bake-Off challenge has ground to a serious halt. I have been baking but not putting the pictures etc. up on here. So prepare for an onslaught of baking related information. This week I took on the showstopper challenge……or did I? Last year the contestants were asked to make strudel and I was so inspired by the painstakingly slow process of gently stretching out the dough to get lovely thin strudel pastry. To me, this all seemed very similar to the filo pastry challenge but under a different name. If anyone feels strongly that this is incorrect I would love to know why but my interpretation of this challenge meant that I could try out a recipe that I have had my eye on for the last year; Catherine’s strudel from the last series of GBBO.

I modified the reipe slightly using a bit more couscous to make the filling and feta cheese to replace the slipcote cheese. I kind of wish I hadn’t done this because I think the softer cheese would have been nice in the strudel which turned out a bit dry in the middle.

Making the dough was good fun. I used the over the shoulder flinging method to need my pastry and had to remake it after a disaster which saw the first batch sail across my kitchen and land in the bin – could not have done it better if I had tried. The second batch was more successful though and stayed out of the bin. As the dough comes together, it becomes a soft elastic dough that stretches like silly putty. After resting it has to be stretched to the very thin sheet that is used to wrap the dough. This was so much easier than I expected. In fact it was so easy that I made it way too thin and then it was too delicate to manipulate around the dough. I could have read a newspaper through it though. The strudel wasn’t as neat as I had hoped but it made for great picnic fodder when walking around the Brecon Beacons this week. We ate it with plenty of yogurt mixed with chilli sauce to counteract the dry texture of the filling but this went nicely with the strudel. I am no longer scared of making this super thin pastry though and look forward to using it again.

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