Monday, 29 August 2011

upside down pineapple and pecan cake (gluten free)

Upside down pineapple cake is one one of my families favourites!  The cake is baked with the pineapple on the underside, so that when it is flipped out of its tin the pineapple is revealed in all its gloriously citrus wonder.  And even though you know it is there, there is still the odd 'oooo' and 'ahhhh' and 'yipee' when the flip is a success.

This recipe is adapted to be gluten-free, however, you can use regular self-raising flour.  It will work just as well and will probably rise a lot better too.  The gluten-free flour blends, although decent, do not always result in a light and fluffy cake, however, for this particular recipe, dense and moist is just how it should be!  Alternatively, i think that a wholemeal flour could work well, especially as its two favourite companions - fruit and syrup - make an appearance.

The pecans and ground almonds are optional.  I just like the combination of pecans with fruit, and the almonds create that nutty flavour all the way through the cake.  A much simplified version of this recipe would be to make a 6oz sponge mixture (6oz butter / 6oz caster sugar / 3 eggs / 6oz s-r flour) and pour over the pineapple, as the recipe details below.

1 small tin of pineapple rings, in fruit juice
6oz / 170g self-raising flour
6oz / 170g golden caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
3 medium free-range eggs, lightly whisked
6oz / 170g gluten free self-raising flour blend (you can use regular self-raising if you prefer)
2 tsp baking powder
2oz / 55g ground almonds (optional)
1oz / 30g pecans, roughly chopped (optional)

for the glaze, when the cake is baked....
pineapple juice (from the tin of pineapple rings)
3oz / 80g of golden caster sugar

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180 and line the base of a 23" clip cake tin.
Drain the tin of pineapple rings into a small bowl, making sure you keep the juice.
Arrange the rings on the bottom of the cake tin.  You can chop them into pieces if you prefer - be as artistic as you like with the arrangement, remembering that they will be on top of the cake once it is turned out from its tin.
Cream the butter in an electric mixer, if you have one, with a wooden spoon if not.
Add the golden caster sugar (6oz) and mix again until combined.
Add the golden syrup and mix again.
Whisk the eggs together in a separate bowl and then add them to the mixture, a little at a time, mixing in between until combined.
Sieve the flour, ground almonds and baking powder into a separate bowl.
Using a wooden spoon, gently fold the flour mixture into the cake mixture, a little at a time, until smooth and combined. 
Add the pecans and fold until they are through the mixture.
Pour the cake mixture over the pineapple pieces in the cake tin and place on the middle shelf of the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the skewer test is successful!

When a skewer, inserted into the middle of the cake, comes out clean the cake is done.
Leave the cake in its tin and place on a wire rack.
Mix together the pineapple juice and the golden caster sugar (3oz) in a small bowl, until thick(ish) and glaze-like.  You may need a little less or more sugar depending on how much juice was in the tin, just add a little at a time until you are satisfied.
Skewer the cake several times, whilst it is still warm in its tin.  Pour this sugary glaze over the cake.
Leave the cake to cool for and hour or so in the tin.  This will give the glaze a chance to harden as well.
Once cooled, unclip the cake tin and turn it out onto a cake stand or plate.  The method of completing this flip can be entirely your own, but i find the easiest way is to place the cake stand or plate, upside down on top of the cake, grab the two together and flip it towards myself.
Gently lift the base of the tin from the top of the cake and peal off the greaseproof / parchment lining.
Et voila!
Serve with warm custard, cream or ice cream depending on your mood and the weather.

Katie x

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Cake Bakers Dozen!

13 ingredients that I always make sure I have in the kitchen cupboards. Planned, or in an emergency, I'm ready to rustle up the perfect cake at the first opportunity!

the classics...
1   slightly salted butter - pastry, sponge, cakes and biscuits - this guy does 'em all
2   golden caster sugar - a personal preference, light brown soft works just as well
3   free-range eggs - I don't want my yolks coming from any old barn!
4   self-raising flour - when you want it to rise
5   plain flour - when you don't want it to rise
6   bicarbonate - for baking and household cleaning...

for that little kick...
7   ground almonds - mmm, nutty!
8   golden syrup - for when sugar just isn't enough
9   vanilla extract - to complete the perfect sponge

for making the right impression...
10 dark chocolate - minimum 70% cocoa solids
11 unwaxed lemons - ooooo zest me up!
12 chopped nuts - usually pecans
13 icing sugar - because a little dusting makes everything look charming!

Katie x

Sunday, 21 August 2011

fiery ginger biscuits (and lemon cream filling)

For many people, late night drunken journeys home consist of trying to stay awake and refraining from sending lewd text messages to past lovers. Not me! My night bus journey home on Friday night passed all too quickly, as I made frantic notes on what to bake in a hungover state on Saturday afternoon....the results are these delicious ginger biscuit gems, which are the perfect antidote to that groggy feeling that I like to call a 'sauvignon state of mind'.... Enjoy!

biscuit ingredients
8oz butter
5oz golden caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2tsp (heaped) grated fresh Ginger
10oz plain flour

filling ingredients
2oz softened butter
1oz lemon curd (1tsp lemon juice if you have no curd)
1/2 tsp grated ginger
4oz icing sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together, in an electric mixer if you have one - with a wooden spoon if not, until fluffy and pale.  Separate an egg and add the yolk to the mixture.  You do not need the white for this recipe, but perhaps you can save it to be used in another recipe in the next day or two.  Mix for a couple of minutes until combined.  Grate the ginger and add to the mixture, mix again.  The amount of ginger is for guidance only - if you like your ginger biscuits really fiery then add more - remember, the ginger will taste stronger once it has caramalised inside the biscuit as it bakes in the oven.  Sieve the flour and then stir into the rest of the mixture, a little at at time, until combined and a biscuit dough is formed.  Cut this into two parts, hopefully fairly equal in size.  Wrap the two halves in cling film, or place in a freezer bag, and allow to cool in the refrigerator for an hour.
Remove the dough from the fridge and lay one of the halves on a lightly floured surface.
Pre-heat the oven to gas Mark 5.
Press down lightly on top of the dough to slightly flatten the surface - this will make it easier to roll.  Now take your floured rolling pin to the dough and roll to your preferred thickness.  If you are making ginger biscuits without the filling, then perhaps make them a little thicker.  If, as I have you done, you would like to sandwich two together with the lemon filling between, then roll the dough to a thiner thickness.  The thiner the dough a) the more biscuits you will get out of the mixture and b) the quicker they will cook.  Remember though, too thin and they will burn very easily.  I suggest no less than 3mm - whatever their thickness, they will not rise very much at all.
Now select your cutting implements!  Depending on the cutter you choose, you may get anything from 10-20 biscuits from each half of the dough.  I have chosen a medium-ish fluted cutter and, in respect of the ginger, I am going to cut out a wee gingerbread man from the centre of each of the biscuits.  This will also provide a lovely viewport to that delicious lemon and ginger filling.  Cut out your biscuit shapes and lay on a lined (with parchment) baking tray - allow a little space between them as, although they won't rise, they may spread a little.

Repeat the above with the other piece of dough, however,  If you have cut out a shape, like my gingerbread men, from the centre of the biscuits made from the other half of dough, make sure you don't from these ones, as they will be the back of the biscuit sandwich and we don't want all that lovely filling to fall out!
Place each tray of biscuits in the oven, on a middle shelf, for around ten minutes - a little longer (say 10-15) if they are thicker and a little less (say 5-7) if they are thin.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for a minute on the tray, then transfer them onto a wire rack to cool completely - the biscuits are likely to be a little floppy when they come out of the oven. This does not mean that they are not baked through, they will harden as they cool.
Now for the filling.  Cream the butter and add the lemon curd and ginger.  Mix together well.  Sieve the icing sugar and add a little at time to the butter mixture until it is all combined.  I'm using my mums  homemade Lemon curd, but any would do of course! The amount created from the ingredients above should be enough filling to fill all your biscuits, but it will also depend on how thinly / thickly you rolled them, so be prepared to make a little more, if required.
Once the biscuits have cooled completely, start creating your biscuit sandwiches!!
Lovely, as ever, with a cup of tea and a filum.

Katie x

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

dark chocolate and pecan loaf

In the mood for something nutty and easy?  Try this one....

4 oz softened butter
4 oz golden caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp golden syrup
3 oz self-raising flour
2 tsp of baking powder
1 oz ground almonds
1 oz pecans, chopped
2 oz dark chocolate, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 5.
Cream the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer, or with a wooden spoon and some elbow grease if you haven't got one.
Lightly whisk the eggs in a small bowl and add a little at a time to the butter / sugar mixture until blended.  If you add too much at once the mixture may curdle, so take care.  It a curdle does occur, simple beat a little harder and for longer and the mixture should put itself right.  Panic not!
Add the Golden syrup and mix again.
sieve the flour, ground almonds and baking powder into a separate bowl.  Fold the flour into the mixture, a little at a time, and be patient to make sure that you don't knock too much air out.
Chop the pecans and dark chocolate into small chunks, add to the mixture and fold until combined.
Grease (with a little butter) and line the base of a 2lb loaf tin with parchment or greaseproof paper.
Pour the mixture into the tin and place on the top shelf of the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a skewer, inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean / dry.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack before removing from the tin.
Serve warm, I suspect, for a melty chocolate opportunity.
I, however, will have to wait until it is cooled as it won't be cut until elevensees tomorrow at work!
Photos to follow.

Katie x