Thursday, 6 February 2014

Medovnik (Honey Cake)

  • 450 grams Flour
  • 180 grams Icing Sugar
  • 180 grams Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 6 tablespoons Honey
  • 4 tablespoons Cream
  • 1 teaspoon Cocoa Powder
Beat the butter, sugar, egg, honey and cream over a low heat (or bain marie) for about 5 minutes.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda and cocoa powder.  Then mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes covered in cling film. It should be a nice soft dough consistency and you should be able to roll it out without it sticking.  If it’s too sticky then let it sit another 5-10 minutes or use a little bit of flour.
On greaseproof paper draw an 8 inch circle (or square) and roll out approximately 160 grams (one eighth) of the dough to fit the circle. It should be about 2-3 mm thick (i.e. thin!)  Roll out 8 of the circles and bake each one for 4-7 minutes at 180C.
Once they are baked, cool them on wire rack, leaving the paper on (until you come to put the cake together).  The cake layers can be baked beforehand and kept in the fridge for up to a week, or frozen for up to a month.
(If you have any dough left, bake the extra too and later grind it up with the nuts to coat the outside of the cake)

Filling and topping

  • 1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 200 grams of Unsalted Butter
  • 70 grams roughly chopped walnuts
  • 50 ml of Rum or coffee or both
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons of Sugar
  • 150 ml of Water
You can first boil the can of sweetened condensed milk for 3 hours, unopened, in a pan of water. This makes it tastier, but is not essential. If you do, do this the day before, and do not open the can until several hours later when it has cooled sufficiently. 

To make the filling, blend the sweetened condensed milk with the butter until creamy.

Separately, mix the rum/coffee, sugar and water in a bowl and set aside.

Putting the cake together
Cut the edges off the 8 cake layers, so that they have a nice cleanly round shape (or square, if you used a square shape...) and don't have hard edges. The bits you've cut off can be ground into crumbs and used to spread over the cake at the end.
Put the first cake layer on a plate, and brush the rum/coffee mixture all over the top of it, then cover with the buttercream and sprinkle with a few chopped nuts.  Proceed like this, brushing both sides of the second and subsequent cake layers with the rum/coffee mixture, placing the layer on top of the last one, and spreading buttercream and nuts over it.
When you've put the last layer of cake on, cover the whole cake with the remaining buttercream and then with the cake crumbs and nuts.  Chill the whole cake in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but overnight is better - the longer you leave it, the more the cream soaks in and it becomes better. The cake can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Baked chocolatey ricotta cheesecake

For the base:

175g crunchy cocoa biscuits, anything with a classic biscuit consistency will do.
80g butter

Crush the biscuits (in a bag, with a rolling pin, or in a food processor) until fairly fine crumbs with some larger bits.  Cut the butter up and melt it in a bain-marie or microwave. Add the butter to the biscuits (in a bowl!) and use a spoon to combine thoroughly.

Butter your cheesecake tin (20 cm springform tin) thoroughly and line with greaseproof paper (on the bottom will do). Put the butter-biscuit mixture in the bottom of the tin and press down until it forms an even and compact covering over the whole base of the tin, about 1cm deep. Use the back of a spoon or your knuckles to press it down.

Put it in the fridge for 30 mins while you prepare the filling.

For the filling: 

120g dark chocolate, 50% cocoa
250g ricotta
250g greek yoghurt
3 eggs (if very big, use 2)
100g granulated sugar
35g cocoa powder
optional: grated rind of one lemon
cocoa for dusting the top of the cake

Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a bain-marie or microwave. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, and whisk the yolks with the sugar. Separately, whisk the whites with a pinch of salt until they form firm peaks.
Turn out the ricotta into a large bowl and cream it for a moment or two using a wooden spoon (add the grated rind of one lemon at this stage if you like!), then add the yoghurt gradually, followed by the egg yolks/sugar mixture, the melted chocolate and finally the whipped egg whites.

Pour the mixture into the tin, in which you have already prepared the biscuit base. Smooth the top, and bake in the centre of the oven at 160°C for about 50 minutes.

When done, remove and leave to cool in the tin. When it is lukewarm, place it in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.

When chilled, remove from the tin, dust with cocoa powder and serve, or if you like first decorate it with petals made of white chocolate and lemon slices, as below...

On a piece of greaseproof paper, sketch out petal shapes with a pencil.
Break up 75g white chocolate and melt in bain-marie or microwave. Using a spoon, fill in the petal shapes you've drawn on the paper with white chocolate. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then transfer to the fridge to harden up (at least 30 minutes).

Meanwhile cut the lemon into slim slices and simmer for 10 minutes in a pan with 100 ml water and 100g granulated sugar. Remove the lemon slices and cool them on a piece of greaseproof paper.

Place one of the lemon slices on top of the cake. Around it, arrange the white chocolate petals.If you like, outline them with a little dark chocolate sauce or melted dark chocolate.

Serve the remaining lemon slices together with the cake, if you like.

Keep the cake in the fridge :-)

Lemony oaty syrupy biscuits

  • 175 g butter 
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup   
  • grated rind of half a lemon (optional) 
  • 175 g self-raising flour
  • 75 g porridge oats
  • 175 g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 180C/gas 4. Grease 2 large baking trays.

2. Put the butter and golden syrup into a pan, with the lemon rind if desired, and heat over a low heat, stirring until all melted and combined.

3. Take pan off heat and add the flour, oats, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Stir, if necessary also knead with your hands, until you have a smooth dough. 
4. Turn out onto a clean surface and form into about 28 small balls, about 2cm thick.

5. Place the balls on the baking trays, well apart from each other as they spread significantly. Press the tops to flatten slightly.

6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and using a pallet knife vel sim., transfer to a cooling rack. 

Maková Bábovka - Poppy seed cake

  • 250 g butter or margarine
  • 190 g granulated sugar (vanilla if poss)
  • 1 sachet of vanilla sugar / few drops vanilla essence (or just use vanilla sugar above)
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 150 g ground poppy seeds (this requires a special grinder to squash the seeds - do not attempt in liquidiser!!)
  • 180 g plain flour (wholemeal or coarser flour to be encouraged)
  • 1 sachet baking powder
  • 200–250 ml milk
  • icing sugar to dust
1. Preheat oven to 180, fan oven 160 ˚C. Thoroughly grease medium size cake tin (ideally a ring mould, with a hole in the middle) and dust with flour. 

2. Cream butter/marg and sugar, add vanilla and egg yolks and beat until light and fluffy. Add the poppy seed mush and the baking powder. Mix, and add enough milk to obtain a dropping consistency. Whisk the egg whites until standing in firm peaks and fold into the mixture. Pour into the prepared tin, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

3. Check that the cake is completely done: stick a cake tester in in a few places! It has a tendency to be a bit sticky in the middle. When convinced, take it out of the oven and cool for 3 minutes in the tin, then carefully turn the cake out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.

Variation: At the egg white stage, add two handfuls of fresh or frozen cherries (hlaved, stones removed).