Tuesday, 24 September 2013

If you go down to the woods today...

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But when life gives you a tin of cherries which you've opened by mistake what do you do? No second thoughts required: make Black Forest gateau!

Black Forest gateau on a white cake stand
Black Forest gateau

A simple fat-free chocolate sponge sprinkled with Kirsch, then laden with cherry jam, cherries and whipped cream, all topped with a glossy, rich chocolate ganache. Sounds a lot of fuss, but you know I wouldn't have made it if it was. 

I served this for pudding at a recent dinner party. I'd invited several opinionated food-loving friends and as the date grew closer so I grew more terrified about cooking for them. I eventually decided to serve a 70's meal - starting with Snowballs and mushroom vol au vents followed by prawn cocktail, coq au vin, Black Forest gateau and Matchmakers with coffee. 

Black Forest gateau

3 large eggs
175g caster sugar
175g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
5 tablespoons hot water
350ml double cream
450g tin pitted black cherries, drained
4 tablespoons Kirsch*
3 tablespoons cherry jam (I used St Dalfour no sugar added
100g dark chocolate

Pre-heat oven to 190/gas 5. 

Make the sponge: Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. When the mixture is pale and thick and you can just see the trail of the whisk, remove it from the heat and whisk for another 2 minutes. Sift and fold in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and hot water. Transfer to a 23cm cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes. Slice it in 2 when the sponge is cool. 

Assembly: Sprinkle each cut side with 2 tablespoons Kirsch, then spread the bottom piece with jam, 300ml whipped cream and cherries. Sandwich the cakes together.

The icing on the cake: Bring the remaining 50ml cream to the boil, then remove from the heat and stir in 100g chocolate. Allow it to cool a little and spread over the top of the cake. Decorate with a few reserved cherries and some icing sugar.

*For a non-alcoholic version use cherry juice

Slice of Black Forest gateau on a plate
One slice or two?

Monday, 9 September 2013

Aural gratification

Check out today's post over at Kitchen Bitching on essential kitchen playlists. It's so groan-worthy you may want to take PUN-itive measures!

Dark Side of the Spoon by Pink Floyd

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Sunday munch

I'm going retro today, and making a couple of recipes from the archive for lunch: creamy chicken and bacon pie with crisp filo pastry, and a pear and ginger cake studded with chunks of juicy pear and smothered in ginger syrup. Click here for the pie recipe and here for the cake.

I've always loved filo pastry, but shied away from the hassle of dealing with it. When making this pie I had a lightbulb-pastry-moment: simply take up the filo and scrunch it onto the pie filling, then brush all over with melted butter and bake. Less fat, less faff. 

chicken and bacon pie mixture in dish covered with one sheet of filo pastry
One sheet at a time

This recipe feeds 4 generously. I often hive off a bit of the mixture and freeze it to make a child-size portion for another day. If you are making it ahead, cook the filling and allow it to cool (it will sit happily in the fridge for a couple of days), then add the pastry and butter just before you bake it.

pear and ginger loaf cake, sliced, on glass plate
Everyone loves a ginger

The pear and ginger cake is baked in a loaf tin and won't win prizes for its looks. Mine often ends up concave instead of beautifully domed - but that's because of the pear and the syrupy bits of ginger weighing it down. Serve it warm with thick cream or ice cream, or cooled and sliced.