Eight-minute chocolate orange cake

IMG_2614

What’s not to love about a cake that you can make entirely in one cake tin? Hardly any dishes and quick to boot.  Because, although I love to cook and bake, there are times when I am too greedy or impatient to fuss around.  If it’s delicious and you can get it in the oven in under ten minutes, count me in.

I have been fiddling around with this particular recipe for a few weeks now, having found myself in need of a cake on several occasions (mainly the delicious shared morning teas for which my workmates are justly famous, but also once or twice just NEEDING CAKE).

It is adapted from this recipe for six-minute chocolate cake, which I understand is an old Moosewood one.  And perhaps this is why I am particularly drawn to this notion, because I have an enduring soft spot for all things Moosewood. I think The Enchanted Broccoli Forest is one of the sweetest cookbook titles of all time.  I still rue the day I trustingly lent out my own lovely Moosewood Cookbook, never to be seen again.

I have called this recipe an eight-minute chocolate cake, as I don’t feel I can truthfully say it takes six minutes like its predecessor, since I ask that you zest an orange. But, I promise it’s still eight minutes-quick with a chocolatey, satisfying cake at the end that’s worth the orange zesting.  It’s also pretty easy to whip up, as most of the ingredients are generally in the pantry.  I like the little dash of ground almonds for the moist and grainy texture the give, but if you don’t have these to hand, just use an extra 1/4 cup flour instead of the almonds, and it still works a treat producing a slightly firmer cake.

You will need:

  • 1 & 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds (or, if you don’t fancy ground almonds, use 1 & 1/2 cups of plain flour)
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1
 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 
cup brown sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 
cup coffee (cold)
  • 2 
teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 
tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice

Preheat your oven to 190 celsius.

Put the flour, ground almonds (if using), cocoa, baking soda, salt, sugar and the orange zest into an ungreased 9 inch round cake tin and mix it together, breaking up any lumps.

Mix together the oil coffee and vanilla and add to the dry ingredients in the tin.  Mix the batter until smooth with a whisk or a fork.

IMG_2662

Add the vinegar and orange juice and stir quickly. You will see pale stripes in the batter – this is where the baking soda is reacting with the vinegar and orange juice.  Stir until the vinegar and juice is just distributed through the batter.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Set aside the cake to cool.

It’s tasty dusted with a little icing sugar and served with whipped cream.  Or, as I have done in the picture, it responds well to a hearty dose of chocolate icing.

IMG_2684

Edmonds Cookbook ANZAC biscuits

IMG_2528

It is indeed a happy accident, that my arrival at ANZAC biscuits in the Edmonds Cook Book as I head forth in my self-imposed Edmonds Challenge has coincided so closely with ANZAC Day.

ANZAC Day always puts me in mind of Aud and Reg, my Granma and Grandad on my Dad’s side.  Along with many others, my grandparents were part of World War II. Grandad went away with the Royal Air Force, and Granma was a WAF.  The milk bottle in the picture above was once theirs, and I used it in a little homage to them.

Here’s a photo of Aud and Reg below; I think from my Grandad’s cryptic title (“four years ‘ard labour”) and the pile of paper in front of them, they are sitting in front of all of the letters they exchanged while Grandad was abroad.  He looks rather Don Draper, although that’s where the comparison ends…he was a most morally upstanding man and a teetotaller to boot.

IMG_2546

ANZAC biscuits enjoy a historical pedigree dating back to World War I, where their ancestor-biscuits of oats, golden syrup, sugar and four were sold at fetes and galas at home to raise money for the troops.  After Gallipoli the term ANZAC was born, and the ANZAC biscuit followed, first appearing in a cook book in 1921.

It is of course unthinkable that Edmonds, holding its bible-like status in the New Zealand baking canon, would not have a recipe for ANZAC biscuits, and indeed I, personally, would not use any other.  So without further ado, see below for Edmonds’ ANZAC biscuit recipe

IMG_2510

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup desiccated coconut
  • 3/4 rolled oats
  • 50g butter
  • 1 T golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 T boiling water

Heat the oven to180 degrees Celsius. Mix together the flour, sugar, coconut in a large-ish bowl.  Melt together the golden syrup and butter (I did this in a little dish in the microwave).  Dissolve the baking soda into the water and add it to the butter and syrup.  It will bubble and fizz in an awesome kind of way.

Mix the butter mixture with the dry ingredients and place tablespoonfuls on a cold, greased tray.  I must confess I used a cookie cutter to shape them; I’m sure this is not authentic, but I had some new cutters and I was looking for a chance to use them. Bake for 15 minutes or until they are golden and crispy.

IMG_2513

Spiced apple and ginger loaf

IMG_2418

Every Autumn when I start spying lovely plump pears, plums and apples, thoughts of warming fruity goodies are not far behind.  This particular little loaf I’m bringing you today has been a long time in the making.  It first starting flitting about the corners of my mind a few years ago, when the aforementioned greedy Autumnal thoughts lead me to this delicious chocolate and pear cake. So this Autumn, finding my fruit bowl running over with many sweet little apples, I began hankering after something upside down-y involving apples.

It has taken a little experimenting, but I am happy to settle on this combination of slightly spicy ginger loaf topped with apples.  Upside down fruit-topped baking, I have concluded, needs a reasonably hefty cake to support it, and ginger loaf is up to the task.  I used this ginger loaf recipe as a base with some tweaking of my own, including a little wholemeal flour to give it some extra muscle.  And also because I love wholemeal flour.

For this spiced apple and ginger loaf you will need:

IMG_2455

Apple topping:

  • 1 apple (I like Braeburn for this)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Ginger loaf:

  • 50g butter
  • 1 Tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup milk

Butter your loaf tin.  Peel your apple if you like, although I prefer mine with a little bit of skin.  Quarter the apple and cut each quarter into thin slices.  Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle into the bottom of the loaf tin.  Lay the apple slices in top of this mixture and set aside.

IMG_2460

Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a large saucepan.  Add the egg and the sugar and mix in.  Then add all the other dry ingredients except for the baking soda.  Mix the baking soda into the milk and then add this to the mixture.

Pour the ginger loaf mixture into the tin, on top of the apples.

Bake for 50 – 55 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.  This may seem like a long time for a little loaf, but the fresh juicy apple slices make the mixture quite moist and mean the loaf needs longer to bake.  Trust me, I have been faced with the sad, sucking noise of turning out under-cooked baking in earlier versions of this apple-topped cake, when I have had less patience with the length of baking time.

Rest the loaf for a few minutes in its tin before running a knife around the edges and gently turning upside down.

The apple keeps this loaf tasty and moist. It can be a little prone to breaking up, so you may like to use a spoon, particularly if you fancy this warm with some vanilla ice-cream.  This, I can recommend.

Happy baking.

IMG_2480

Maple candied walnuts

IMG_2661

I love walnuts.  Perhaps this started with the grand old walnut tree in our garden when I was little.  When I wasn’t swinging from it or chasing the chickens that lived at its feet, I was happily crushing walnuts between concrete blocks so I could prise the nuts from their wrinkly little shells.  I still remember the pang of pride the day Mum put the mangled results in a small dish at the dinner table for everyone to share, even though the results of my efforts were mainly bits of concrete with the odd bit of bruised walnut flesh.

IMG_2582

So I felt a very lucky person indeed when I was offered some walnuts recently, still in their green casings.  Of course I jumped at the chance. One of the things I love most about walnuts is their versatility – they will happily partner with savoury or sweet, and can turn an ordinary salad or muffin into something that little bit more scrumptious and gourmet.

I fancied something autumnal and sweet, and after a little research settled on experimenting with candied walnuts spiced up with some maple and cinnamon, borrowing heavily from the caramelising talents of BraveTart who I have learnt from with my candied sugar experiments in the past.  And here’s how I got there:

IMG_2596

Ingredients:

  • 12 walnuts – of course whole is ideal, but I was whacking mine with a hammer to get them out of their shells and some where less than whole, which didn’t seem to matter too much
  • 12 toothpicks
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 4 T white sugar
  • 1 T water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Method:

Put toothpicks into the walnuts.  They get their pretty little stalagmite-like shape from being hung upside-down, so I put a wooden board along the edge of the sink to hang them from and some baking paper in the sink to catch the drips.  I also prepared some strips of masking tape for taping the toothpick ends to the board.

Put all of the other ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to the boil, swishing the pan to stop it sticking.

When the sugar is dissolved and the mixture turns amber, put the pot on the wooden board.  Take each tooth-picked walnut in turn and dip it into the sugar, coating it generously.  Turn it upside down over the the sink so the caramel drips off.  Secure and tape the other end to the wooden board.  It may look a little like a Game of Thrones-style torture chamber for walnuts, to be honest.

IMG_2656

When the caramel has hardened and cooled, pull the toothpick out and you will have pretty little maple walnut teardrops to use as garnish or gobble up as is.  They are lovely with ice cream.

IMG_2672

Antipasto, courtesy of Edmonds

Ladies and gentlemen, we have finally hit the International Dishes section of the Edmonds Cook Book.

IMG_2224

As I make my way alphabetically (and rather slowly, I do admit) through the Edmonds Cook Book, the A section to date has yielded a fair bit of baking and things involving almonds.  But now, we find ourselves at Antipasto, opening a rather ambitious International Dishes selection including foreign delicacies like nachos and cucumber salad.

I suspect in this day and age, many of us are familiar with antipasto and its role as the opening dish in an Italian meal.  In our little far-flung corner of the world, however, the inclusion of Antipasto, and indeed an International Dishes section at all, to the Edmonds was no doubt a bold leap into the unknown at the time.

This may explain why tasty cheese makes up the cheese selection in the ingredients list, when in other antipasto recipes we see rather more exotic cheeses such as aged Manchengo or Gruyere.  But tasty cheese is a firm favourite in our shaky isles and it is only appropriate that it features in the Edmonds take on antipasto.  And I don’t want to seem as if I am sneezing at tasty cheese.  There are very few snacks as lovely as a thick slice of tasty cheese on a cracker with a generous spoonful of my Mum’s tamarillo chutney.

So for an antipasto platter, Edmonds-style, you will need the following:

  • 425g can artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 6 to 8 slices of smoked beef
  • 250g tasty cheese
  • cherry tomatoes
  • 6 to 8 slices of salami

 

IMG_2216

And the rest is pretty simple chaps.  After draining and rinsing the artichokes, all that one is required to do with the ingredients is ‘arrange decoratively on a plate.’  I will leave the arranging up to your imaginations.  This is how mine looked and it was most pleasing with a little tipple on a late Summer afternoon.  Enjoy.

IMG_2253

Chocolate and ginger Anzac biscuits

IMG_1771

These little lovelies simply wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the mighty Anzac biscuit, which inspired me with its comforting blend of oats and golden syrup. I shan’t be going into too much more detail on this point, because Anzac biscuits will be coming up shortly as part of my Edmond’s challenge and I’d hate to spoil anything, except to note that the Anzac biscuit is a source of national pride for many an Antipodean baker.

Whenever I feel in need of a bit of nourishing, I turn to my trusty jar of rolled oats and all kinds of delicious are never too far away. These biscuits are easy to make and although my ones have apricot and raisins, any dried fruit you had in residence in your pantry would make a happy union with the rest of the recipe. Ditto the chocolate; I like milk chocolate and dark is also most toothsome. I’ve yet to try white chocolate, but I reckon this would also be pretty fabulous.

Enjoy these with a steaming hot mug of tea, and with the oats and the fruit, I do believe they would make an acceptable breakfast. They are pretty much porridge in a biscuit, after all.

Happy Baking.

You will need:
1& 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup Raisins
1/2 cup apricots, chopped
2 t fresh grated ginger
200g chocolate of your choosing, roughly chopped
150 g butter
2 T Golden Syrup
2 T hot water

IMG_1668

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients, grated ginger and chopped chocolate.

Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a pan over medium heat.

Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water and then add this to the melted golden syrup and butter. This will cause the mixture to bubble up. Tip it quickly into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Put tablespoon-sized dollops of the mixture onto greased baking trays (I get about 20 out of this recipe).

Bake the biscuits at 180 celscius for 15 minutes or until they are golden, and then cool on a baking rack.

IMG_1691

Re-rising to my Edmonds Challenge: introducing broccoli with almonds

IMG_1582

You could be forgiven for thinking my Edmonds Challenge had gone off the boil somewhat…truth is, it had, and for that I apologise. But, dear readers, we are back on the boil, quite literally in fact, as today’s recipe includes broccoli, boiling water and a saucepan.

A while ago, I promised a run of almonds as I worked my way through almond recipes in the ‘A’ section of our national treasure the Edmonds Cookbook, and indeed they did as I grabbled with some new treats, including devilled almonds and almond biscuits.

IMG_1599

Today we greet the last entry in the ‘Almonds’ section, Broccoli with Almonds. And can I say, what a delight. Lightly cooked broccoli covered with lemony butter and toasted sliced almonds. Oh yum.

This happy marriage of food with butter and nuts has its own official culinary term, ‘amandine‘, which means food cooked with butter and seasonings and garnished with a sprinkling of almonds.

Edmonds’ own take on this delight, a ‘Broccoli Amandine’ if you like, is a little gem. Easy and tasty, it would be a classy and delicious accompaniment to any supper. I chose to accompany mine with a little brown rice for lunch and can report this was a very satisfactory pairing.

The recipe is below…enjoy.

Edmonds Broccoli with Almonds
500g broccoli, cut into florets
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt
pepper
2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds

Cook the broccoli in salted, boiling water until it is just tender.
In another saucepan, melt the butter and add the lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Drain the broccoli.
Add the almonds to the butter mix and spoon this over the broccoli.

IMG_1534