Raspberry drenched chocolate cake

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This cake is being added to my regular cake repertoire. A raspberry-infused chocolate cake with a fudgy consistency but not so dense and rich that you can’t have a sneaky second slice.

When I mentioned this recipe to Lois, she wondered whether it might be more popular now than it was when she first published it, as the taste for dense, rich chocolate cakes has grown. As chocolate cakes go, this isn’t the most intense, mousse-like one you’ll find, but I think that it is one of the nicest.

This recipe is has a few stages and a number of bowls involved, but it’s not tricky. And totally worth it.

Raspberry drenched chocolate cake (Good Food, p.35)

Cake:

100g dark chocolate (I used Whittaker’s Dark Ghana 72%)

100g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

3 free-range eggs

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/4 cup flour

raspberries for decorating

Raspberry purée:

1/2 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon orange or raspberry liqueur (I had some kirsch kicking about, so I used that)

To make the cake and puree:

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Butter and line a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Set up a double boiler: find a small to medium-sized pot and a glass bowl that will sit inside the pot with the edges of the bowl supported by the edge of the pot. Put just enough water into the pot so that the water doesn’t touch the bowl. Bring the water to a gentle simmer and then carefully place the bowl on top. Break the chocolate into chunks and place into the bowl. Stir until melted, then add the butter cubes and stir until shiny and smooth.

Prepare the purée by putting all three ingredients into a blender and blitzing until smooth. Scrap out of blender and push through a sieve into another bowl.

Now, back to the cake. Separate the eggs and place the yolks into a medium-sized mixing bowl and the whites into a large-sized bowl. Add 1/4 cup of caster sugar to the yolks and beat until thick and pale with a set of electric beaters. Pour in the chocolate and butter mixture and the raspberry purée. Sift the flour into this mixture next and stir until combined.

Clean the beaters thoroughly and whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of caster sugar and beat until glossy. Fold the egg whites, a spoonful at a time, through the chocolate mixture – you want to keep the mixture light and airy but fully incorporate the egg whites with no lumps. Pour batter into the cake tin and bake for 30 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin.

Chocolate glaze:

100g dark chocolate

45g butter

2 tablespoons more of the same liqueur you used in the raspberry purée

Set up your double boiler again and melt the chocolate. Add the cubes of butter and mix until smooth. Add the liqueur and remove the bowl from the double boiler. Once the cake has cooled, carefully pour the glaze over the cake and decorate the top with fresh raspberries.

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Pueblo beef & cornbread

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We made this on a Sunday afternoon in January. Outside it was grey and drizzly but warm; definitely not weather for eating salad, something warm and comforting was required. Served in bowls with a wedge of cornbread on top, Pueblo beef with corn, tomatoes and beans is a perfectly light, yet hearty supper.

I tweaked Lois’ recipe slightly by adding some fresh red chilli and I opted to use avocado oil to fry the meat and onions in, instead of the suggested lard or dripping. Once the beans and corn were added, I cooked it for a shorter time, as I like my green beans to still have a bit of bite.

Pueblo beef, corn, tomatoes and beans (Good Food, p. 15)

500g braising beef (Lois suggests blade steak)

2 onions

2-3 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons cooking oil

a small red chilli

500g fresh tomatoes or a 420g can of tomatoes in juice

1/2 cup water

couple of large sprigs of oregano or thyme (I used both)

salt & freshly ground pepper

2 cups corn kernels

2 cups green beans, cut into halves or thirds depending on size

2 tablespoons sunflower or pumpkin seeds

Cut the beef into 1cm cubes. Dice the onions and finely chop the garlic. Heat the oil in a heavy pan (for which you have a lid) over a medium-high heat . Add the beef and quickly brown it. Lower the heat and add the onions and garlic and cook gently until softened. Add the finely chopped chilli and cook for a minute longer. Add the tomatoes, water, herbs and grind over some pepper and salt. Cover and simmer very gently for one hour. Stir in the corn, beans and seeds. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for another 15-20 minutes. If there is still lots of liquid, remove the lid for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Cornbread (Good Food, p. 17)

1 cup corn kernels, roughly chopped

1/2 onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 small red chilli, finely chopped

1 free-range egg

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup grated cheese

1/2 cup cornmeal, coarse or fine

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Sauté the onion in a tablespoon of butter until soft and add the chopped chilli and corn kernels. Transfer this mixture into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Beat the egg and sour cream together and add to the corn mixture with the grated cheese. In another bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper. Stir into the corn mixture. Add milk and stir until you’ve got a fairly runny batter.

Lois suggests baking the cornbread in a cast iron pan; I used a large loaf pan but you could also use a cake tin. Put the remaining tablespoon of butter in whatever pan you’ve decided to use and put into the hot oven to melt. Remove the pan, pour in the batter and bake for about 25 minutes until firm and golden-brown. Best served warm, but also excellent the next day, cut into wedges and heated in a griddle pan.

Apricot Bretonne

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Apricot bretonne is undoubtedly the recipe to start this blog. Mum’s copy of Good Food falls open at this page; the spine slightly cracked and the page splotched with buttery fingers and annotated with mum’s handwritten note: ‘excellent’. And it really is. This is one of the very best summer desserts in my opinion. A tender, crumbly shortcake topped with tangy, melted apricots sprinkled with cinnamon. You can’t improve upon this; it’s already perfection.

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Apricot Bretonne (Lois Daish, Good Food, p.33)

120g flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

120g butter, cut into smallish cubes

60g caster sugar

1 egg yolk

8 apricots

sugar & cinnamon

First off, make the cake dough, which needs to rest in the fridge for half an hour before you use it. Put the flour, baking powder and butter into the bowl of a food processor and process until the butter is finely chopped and dispersed through the flour. Add the sugar and process again. Now add the egg yolk and process until the mixture starts to clump together. Cut a piece of cling film and lay it flat on the bench, then tip the cake dough onto this. Form the dough into a wrapped-up ball by bringing the corners of the cling film together. Put the dough in the fridge to rest.

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 20cm round loose-bottomed tin with baking paper. Prepare the apricots by cutting in half and removing the stones. Once the dough has rested, push it into the base of the tin – it doesn’t need to be smooth, but ensure it’s an even-ish thickness. Place the apricots on top, cut-side down, and sprinkle over cinnamon and caster sugar. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until golden brown. Eat the bretonne while it’s still warm with vanilla ice cream.

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