Cake pops

The cake fashion moved beyond macarons and cupcakes. The new madness in a modern woman’s kitchen are cake pops. This dessert is simple to explain: it is a bit of cake on top of a stick. It’s easy to make,  you don’t need special knowledge or equipment. All you need to have is a keen love to decorate, and it’s a plus if you don’t mind being creative.

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E 80 cake

Exactly twenty years ago Elemér Auguszt the member of the famous Hungarian pastry dynasty was given a special cake for his 80th birthday with the following text on the top: “Happy Birthday, Elemér! 80”.

It was the delicious E80 cake as we know it today. This cake is the symbol of the traditionalism and professionalism of the sophisticated Hungarian pastry arts.  It is made with a rich chocolate filling and a thin marzipan layer in the middle and covered with light coffee cream.

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Asparagus tart

This is the first recipe in our new kitchen that is worth mentioning.

As I have already mentioned I like working with asparagus. Although in my kitchen she is the Queen of vegetables, I do not use it quite often. First of all I am keen on buying seasonal vegetables or fruit and the English asparagus mainly available on the market between April and May. This is quite a small window to enjoy it. In addition, I would like to avoid thinking of asparagus as an everyday product. It is so unique, ideal for a special occasion. 

Although it is middle of September, for some reason I bought two nice bunches of them to make my favourite asparagus tart. When I checked the package I realised they were grown in Peru. Of course I felt guilty about it and I promised myself I won’t do it again. I did not have enough so I had to modified the recipe and add peas in it too.

 

  • 200g pâte brisée
  • 175g asparagus
  • 150g pea
  • 100g freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 150ml double cream
  • 150ml milk
  • Salt and pepper

pâte brisée (for 450g) 

  • 175g butter (softened and diced)
  • 250g flour
  • 1 egg
  • (cold water if necessary)

 

Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl and add the diced butter. Rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the egg (if you are making the first version) and 2 tablespoons of cold water if necessary.
Knead lightly with your hand, wrap the pastry in cling film and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and line with baking parchment or graseproof paper, fill with baking beans.
Bake the pastry for 15-20minutes if you are preparing tartlets and 40minutes for a tart. Leave to cool before filling.
Cook the asparagus and the peas in salted, boiling water for about 20 minutes until tender. Drain and chop the spears, leaving the tips whole.

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Dust a tart tin with flour. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a round and line the prepared tin.

Prick the base all over with a fork and beak blind (line the pastry with baking parchment, fill with baking beans) for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and the parchment, then spoon the vegetables over the base of the pastry case.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Beat together the eggs, milk, cream, salt and pepper in a nutmeg and add the cheese in it.

Carefully pour into the pastry case and bake about 20minutes. Serve hot or cold with green salad.

Flounder from West Hampstead Farmers’ Market

At West Hampstead Market there is Gary’s Fresh fish every Saturday. We have bought fish twice and I would say we made a good deal both time. On last Saturday we arrived there just before closing so most of the goods were sold. Fortunately few nice flat fish, it called flounder, still waited for us, so we picked them up to make a quick lunch.

Ingredients for 2:

  • 2 medium or 3 small flounder (fillet)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 200g arborio risotto
  • 1 shallot (pilled and chopped finely)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 50 ml sherry
  • a handful of fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  • salt, butter

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the shallot. Fry the onion over a medium heat until golden and soft. Add the rice, sherry and just enough stock to cover the rice. Bring to simmer and gently cook until all the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladleful at a time, and gently cook. It takes about 12-15 minutes. When the rice is al-dente add the cheese and the finely chopped basil leaves and take it off the heat.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and place the fish in the pan skin-side down, cook for about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.Turn it around and cook for further 1-2 minutes on this side. The fillets will shrink a little bit, it is a normal behavior.

Serve with slices of lemon and fresh basil.

Much ado about nothing

As I have plenty of time I wanted to try a special recipe, something new, possible a technical challenge. I opened my chocolate book out and was looking for the right recipe. I was sure I found it, but honesty, I think the result looks like a simple, good quality chocolate sponge. Maybe it is a little bit moister and heavier. Anyway, if you want to make nice sponge takes twice as much time as it normally does, this recipe highly recommended.

Ingredients for 12 slices:

Cake:

  • 40g butter
  • 60g flour
  • 4g baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 60 g granulated sugar
  • 70 g chocolate (70%)
  • 60 ml whipping cream
  • 2 egg white
  • 2 handful of berries

Almond streusel:

  • 30 g brown sugar
  • 30 g ground almond
  • 5 g cocoa powder
  • 40 g flour
  • 30 g butter

Combine the sugar, almond, cocoa powder, flour in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small dice and mix it in using your hand. You should get crumbly texture. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the butter in a saucepan until it is just melted. Mix the flour with the baking powder.

Whisk the eggs with the sugar until thick and pale. Add the almond and the other dry ingredients. Stir them in until just mixed.

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie. Heat the whipping cream and combine it with the chocolate. Add the ganache to the dough and stir in the melted butter.

Whisk the egg white and fold it in carefully.

Preheat the oven  to 150°C.

Line the tin with parchment paper. Pour the butter into the bottom of the pan, scatter the fruit on the top of the cake, then sprinkle the streusel over it. Bake for about 1 hour.