Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Back from vacation with apricot jam cake

Apricot jam cake / Bolo de geleia de damasco

Hello, everyone!

I am back after spending wonderful vacation days in Spain: beautiful places, delicious food and massive amounts of Cava. :D

I returned home very happy, but also a couple of pounds heavier, even though I walked around a lot while I was there – one can’t eat all that jamón and pan con tomate and get away with it, right? :) I intend to eat lots of vegetables and fruit in the weeks to come (there’s a huge pot of vegetable soup already in my fridge), but I know I can’t survive without a slice of cake on the weekend.

Moderation is my mantra. ;)

If you’re like me, may I suggest this jam cake? It tastes delicious and it is very tender – don’t worry if the center sinks a bit, it’s totally OK because of the weight of the jam added to the batter. I haven’t tried it with other jam flavors, but I believe it would work with something sharp, not too sweet.

Apricot jam cake
from one of my favorite cookbooks

1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, softened
150g light brown sugar
1 cup apricot jam
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons sour cream

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20cm (8in) cake pan, line the bottom with baking paper, butter the paper as well and flour everything, removing the excess.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the jam until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Add the sour cream and mix until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until golden, risen and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool completely in the pan. Carefully unmold, remove the paper and invert onto a serving plate.

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Serves 8

Monday, September 1, 2014

Monte Carlos - beautiful and delicious

Monte Carlos

Since I'm all for food that looks beautiful, it won't come as a surprise for you that the minute I saw these cookies I had to make them: delicate and pretty, they looked like miniature versions of a Victoria sandwich, with the cream and jam layers.

When I tried one cookie, I noticed that they weren't just pretty: they were delicious as well. The beautiful and flavorsome combo reminded me of The Great British Bake Off and how annoying Paul Hollywood was on the fourth season, telling one contestant over and over again that she was a case of "style over substance" - needless to say, by the end of that season I couldn't stand the show anymore.

These cookies, my friends, are definitely not a case of style over substance - they are cute and taste great. Give these a go and let me know if you agree with me.

Monte Carlos
slightly adapted from the beautiful and delicious The Baking Collection (The Australian Women's Weekly)

Cookies:
200g all purpose flour
100g whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
40g desiccated unsweetened coconut
185g unsalted butter, softened
110g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Filling:
60g unsalted butter, softened
120g icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons whole milk, room temperature
about 50g blackberry jam

Preheat the oven to 180°/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt and coconut. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy. Beat in the egg. On low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.
For each cookie, roll 1 leveled tablespoon of dough , place 2,5cm (1in) apart onto prepared sheets and flatten with a fork. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden on the edges. Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then slide the paper with the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

Cream filling: using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla and light and fluffy. Beat in milk.

Spread jam in half the cookies and cream in the remaining half, then sandwich them together.

Makes 22 sandwich cookies

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