Friday, February 12, 2010

Black Forest Gateau - Happy Birthday Norwegian Internet Sprite

Well the Angel Food cake was polished off and the plate licked by the ladies in the school canteen. I can take off my hair shirt now.

I know an internet sprite in Norway who may be tempted to make Black Forest Gateau for her own birthday cake:

N.B. you really need to make this a day or a morning at the very least in advance. And make sure the kids are not underfoot you will need to give it your full attention but it is so very worth it.

175g butter or margarine
175g caster sugar
3 eggs separated
150g self raising flour
75g best quality cocoa powder
1 tsp coffee powder
a little milk to bind
preheat oven to 170 degrees
line a 7 inch cake tin with a loose bottom
beat the sugar and fat until pale and fluffy and beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Sieve dry ingredients on to baking paper and set aside.
In a large spotlessly clean bowl beat the egg whites until stiff. In a third bowl mix in alternate spoonfuls of the two (start with the sugar and butter and spoon in a big metal spoon's worth of egg white and fold gently). Use a little milk to bind until the mix is wet but not runny - what they used to call a soft dropping consistency in Home Economical Days. Turn in to the cake tin and bake for about 35 minutes or until risen and springy and just starting to come away from the edge of the tin. It is best to leave it to cool in the tin, cover with plastic and chill overnight but not a hanging offence if you don't have time.

Cherry filling:
250g fresh cherries
125ml water
100g caster sugar
dash of vanilla essence

OR a 400ml or thereabouts jar of morrello cherries.

Pit the cherries and put in a pan. Add the sugar and water and dissolve over gentle heat. Give them a poke and splash in the vanilla stew them for 10 minutes. Strain them reserving the syrup. Rinse the cherries in a sieve. Reunite with the syrup and lace liberally with vodka.

Filling and decoration:
600ml double cream
50g chopped toasted hazelnuts
150g very dark chocolate

In a small pan bring 200ml of cream to a gentle simmer. Stir in 50g chopped chocolate and chill.
Dissolve a teaspoon of gelatine powder in a little hat water and mix it in to the chocolate cream and chill again for 20 minut
Clear the decks, you will need lots of space. Slice the cold cake in to three horizontally and put on to three plates, one of which will be your serving plate because once this baby is assembled it ain't going nowhere prettily. Drain cherries dousing each cake with the syrup * if you are using bottled cherries do the same but use no more than 100ml of their juice and don't forget the vodka. *
Stack the cake layers ending with the plain cake.
Beat 400ml of the cream til stiff. Spread half of it on one cake and top with half the cherries, repeat. That gives two cakes spread with cream and cherries. Don't eat it yet. Spoon a little chocolate cream on the the top of the cake and sprinkle with nuts.
Make chocolate shards or curls - I am too cack-handed to do the curls - and stick them round the side of the cake into the cream. There Will Be Gaps.
Using a piping bag pipe rosettes of chocolate cream on to the top, I suggest 10 of them to give a cutting guide.
Put a cover on and chill for 2 hours.
Ta -Daaaaaaaaaa!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's no Angel

I am certain Angel Food Cake served in any smart town-house on the Eastern Seaboard, no let's narrow it down to the genteel cafes of North Carolina, does NOT come out like this: Further south the ladies of Maycomb county would hide this disgrace in the cleft of an oak rather than send it round to Boo Radley.

Marshmallowy. A stench of sugar on the burn-turn and the leathery yet oozing and sticky surface of Jabba the Hutt. What went wrong? Does anyone know? There must be a perfect alchemic formula, a golden proportion of egg white, sugar and flour. And then of course there is the final piece of the perfect cake puzzle: Know Thine Oven Like The Back Of Thine Hand. I am between ovens at present, waiting for a new one to be fitted. I used my Mother-in-Law's fan-forced electric. Only I now know it to be a fan-fettered electric. My Mother-in-Law likes to cover fans with tin foil; the one in her oven, the top of the outside air-con unit. Dunno why. Maybe she got spooked by Angelheart.

However, never wishing to miss an opportunity to experiment I filled the two layers with what I fancy is a butterscotch pastry cream: Butter and raw sugar cooked together for some minutes and finished off the heat with milk and cream. Back on the heat with cornflour stirred through until it is cohesive and set.

My word, it is delicious. Not pretty or easy to serve. Delicious.

Hmm..... trial and error is the only way to learn. I shall pursue my quest for the right recipe and right method (and very likely right mood) for this American Classic. Watch this space.

Now American Chocolate Fudge Brownies, the type that Alicia Keys' PA vetoed, now those I CAN DO.

Monday, February 8, 2010


The Beach Boys, the two remaining members Bruce and Mike (oh yes first name terms) and their band, are extremely pleasant.
They clear their own plates, they eat white bread and candy and they laugh a lot. However, backstage at King's Park on a balmy summer afternoon it's pretty hard not to be. I'm not mentioning no names or nothing.

I have a lot of cookery books. Many of them snaffled from my bibliophile mother's formidable collection. I don't know where to start. In a fit of unoriginality I go with A to Z. So this week it's Patricia Lousada's American Sampler, A Sainsbury Cookbook from 1982. 75p.

I 'm going with the big classics for all the family: Chef's salad, New York spinach and bacon salad with hot dressing, chicken tamale pie, tuna noodle casserole, popovers, Angel food cake.

You may notice Chocolate Brownies are not on the list. You may be aware I have already mistressed those squashy brown squares of gooey goodness. But that's another story.

Now the kids are back at school I shall be able to give attention to learning how to drive this blogging contraption put in some direction and plot to it all.

What's for your dinner?