home made cakes for special days and elevenses

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Forever Nigella #10 - Lemon Meringue Cake

I have baked this as a Christmas Day dessert for the last two years. It is delicious, and light enough to squeeze in after an enormous plate of Christmas dinner. I'm going to try something different for Christmas Day this year but couldn't quite let go of this, so I wheeled it out for a pre-Christmas lunch with friends at the weekend. Perfect timing for the 10th Forever Nigella, hosted by Maison Cupcake.

Though called a cake, this is more of a dessert as the cake layer is very thin. The recipe comes from Nigella's 'Feast', and is also published on her web site. Nigella suggests replacing the lemon curd with passion fruit curd to serve this at Easter. To make it a little more 'Christmassy' I swapped the lemon for orange, which also worked well.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Corporate Logo Cupcakes for Christmas

I have been busy baking hundreds of these this week for the lovely people at Blue Cube to give to their clients as Christmas gifts. I must try a few with my own logo some time, to see how they look.

I had a lovely day off on Friday once this order was finished, and went to visit the Harrods food hall for the very first time. Sarah of Scrumptious Sally was horrified that I never been and made it her mission to rectify the situation.  We did get a little side tracked by the beauty counters as Sarah was on a lipstick finding mission, but once that was that was done (how much??!) we moved on to the delights of the food hall. I still have a pistachio marzipan treat from William Curley awaiting my attention downstairs. It is hidden from view until I get a moment alone to enjoy it in peace.

Even more fun than Harrods was our fabulous lunch at Ottolenghi in Islington. I have been waiting to go there for so long that there was a real danger the meal would not live up to my expectations. Suffice to say that I was not disappointed. There was a huge array of delicious veggie salads on display, and mountains of beautiful cakes. Accompanied by a lovely glass of wine this was just perfect. A brilliant day out.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Swedish Saffron Buns for Saint Lucia's Day

These saffron buns, known as lussebulle or lussekatte, are traditionally eaten in Sweden on 13 December, Saint Lucia's Day. I was asked to make them having never even seen them before, and with no idea how they were supposed to taste. Therefore a trial run was in order, but the high price of saffron meant that I only had one chance to get it right. I found several recipes on line, and based on reviews of these and a lack of fresh yeast, I made some adaptations and decided on this:

Lussekatte (makes 12)

120ml semi skimmed milk
30ml double cream
65g butter
0.4g saffron (one pack)
75g caster sugar
350g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp dried yeast
1 egg
24 raisins

Using a pestle and mortar, grind the saffron threads into powder. This is easier to do if a pinch of sugar is added to the saffron. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the cream and saffron. Pour this over the dried yeast and stir to remove any lumps. Add the sugar, followed by the flour and salt. The mixture should come together into a beautiful golden yellow, slightly sticky dough. Leave this to rest in a clean bowl, covered with a tea towel, for approximately 30 minutes.

Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, then divide into 12 even sized balls. Roll each ball into a sausage shape, approximately 15cm long. Shape each one into a reverse 's' shape and place on a lined baking tray. Push a raisin into each end, as pictured above. Cover with a tea towel and leave for another 40 minutes.

Cover each bun with an egg wash and bake at 180 degrees (fan oven), for 10-12 minutes. Serve warm or cold, but eat the same day or perhaps freeze. The saffron dries the dough out, so these will not keep for long. They probably won't hang around for long anyway, as they are very yummy! Perfect with a hot chocolate on a cold day. I asked a lovely Swedish friend to do a taste test for authenticity and she gave them the nod, so hopefully we will be OK for Saint Lucia's Day.

Monday, 5 December 2011

My First Gingerbread House

I have seen some beautiful gingerbread houses recently and thought it high time I attempted one myself. I used a gingerbread recipe from the BBC Good Food web site, which was very tasty and easy to work with. The house is far from perfect, but I was happy with it for a first attempt. The kids are taking it to a tea party tomorrow and can't wait to pull it apart and start eating.