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Chocolate Cake and Chapel Down

Most chocolate cakes these days are heavy and rich.  This one is rich, but the cake is light, the richness is in the glazing.  This cake recipe works really well as a double layered cake, but I made it as just one layer and made a rich chocolate glaze. But if you want a double layer cake you could fill it either with a chocolate ganache or a fresh cream and sprinkle with icing sugar.  Or if you really are a chocolate lover make double layer, fill with ganache and coat in the glaze…

Ingredients:thumb_IMG_3534_1024

110gms Self raising flour

3 Tbsp Cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

110gms butter

2 eggs

110gms Sugar

Method:

Grease a small round cake tin and line tin in baking parchment paper.  Heat oven to 180degrees on fan bake.

Cream butter and sugar, beat eggs and gradually mix in to butter and sugar to make sure you don’t split the butter.

Sieve together flour, baking powder and Cocoa and fold into butter mix.  Add 2 tbsp of boiling water and mix gently.  Pour into cake tin and spread  evenly.

Cook for 25-30min – until top bounces back and skewer is clean.

Chocolate Glaze:

1. Mix together: 2 Tbsp Sugar & 110mls thick double cream, Boil sugar and double cream in a pan.

2. cut finely 100 gm dark chocolate and put in a bowl with 20gms of butter

3. Add boiled cream mixture to dark chocolate and butter and mix until smooth

4. Let it cool slightly and then pour over the cake and spread evenly over top and around sides.

Decorate however you like!

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Chocolate cake and Chapel Down

Chocolate cake and Chapel Down

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Cinnamon Square: The best tea and cake in Rickmansworth

I’ve been living in Chorleywood for 3 years now and feel a bit embarrassed that I have never been to this place. I have always been a bit diss appointed with Rickmansworth, a town dominated by Cafe Nero and Costa.

But yesterday, after our Baby Sensory class I went to Cinammon Square looking for a little afternoon treat.

I had the Bruschetta first, because if you have your Veges then it’s ok to have dessert.

The bread was a little hard, but that is what you get with sourdough, but the flavouring was lovely, really tasty tomatoes and fresh basil. It didn’t feel too oily either which often is what Bruschetta can be.

For my sweet treat, I was tempted by the red velvet cupcake. It was lovely. Really light and fluffy and the cream cheese icing was gorgeous, not too sickly which they sometimes can be.

Their selection of cakes and pastries could rival any French patisserie, it is all made by them and they have fresh bread too.

I definitely recommend for lunch or afternoon tea and cake.

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The light and fluffy Victoria Sponge

A fantastic Victoria sponge can be the best cake. Light and fluffy, jam centre, nothing beats it.

This recipe is as light as it gets. I think the real trick to getting a light vic sponge is soft butter to start.

In this recipe I have used half rice flour and half potato flour in place of the self raising flour. I have added a teaspoon of baking powder and half a teaspoon of xanthar gum.

It is wonderful. I have fought off the urge to eat the whole thing!!

20131018-192025.jpg

Recipe:

115gm butter
115gm caster sugar
2 eggs
115gm self raising flour
2 tablespoons of water

Beat butter and sugar til light and fluffy. Make sure the butter is really soft before starting.

Beat eggs in a bowl. Slowly add eggs a tablespoon at a time to the butter mix, continue beating butter each time you add the egg.

Sieve flour into mix, mix through and then add water, mix again.

Pour into the sandwich tin (lined with paper and greased).

Bake at 180-200degrees for 20 min or until golden brown.

Good luck!

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My Macaron secrets

flamingo-and-roseMacarons are my signature, but since moving house and building a new kitchen I had had some major fails!  Macarons are notoriously difficult – when I first started making them in 2011 i remember going through about a dozen eggs before i got a batch that was edible.  Now my fails recently were down to forgetting some of my tricks, so I thought i would share my exact method and tricks for all of those who want to try these.

My recipe:

3 egg whites (or 93grams of liquid egg white)

85 gms Ground Almonds

150gms Icing Sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

colouring

Firstly, one of the most important factors of success is the egg white.  They must be aged.  This means you separate them from the yolk and leave covered in a dish for 24-48 hours.  cover in clingfilm and leave a little hole in the clingfilm.

I sometimes use liquid eggwhites, when using these, it is important that they are room temperature.  aging them for 24hours still helps. but if not then the alternative is 10secs in the microwave.

Secondly, oven temperature is a major factor.  I set my oven at 140degrees on Bake (i have a range oven and bake is the two lines (top & bottom elements).  I bake for 7minutes at 140 then reduce to 110degrees for 7minutes.  You must watch them carefully.  They must be in the middle of the oven.

Thirdly, you must double tray.  This is either two trays one on top of the other, or use a silicon matt on top of your oven tray.  ALWAYS use baking paper.

Fourth Trick: Once piped, bang them hard on the bench, this gets rid of air bubbles.

Fifth trick. Drying the tops.  If you do not get a skin within an hour of piping they are unlikely to work.  The skin forming depends upon the ambient temperature of the room.  I find if there is humidity they don’t try.  My trick (not energy friendly) is to place them under a halogen light or lamp.  the heat of the halogen helps them form a skin in good time.  If it takes too long to form a skin then you don’t get a ‘foot’ on them as they dry too much and then the top cracks.  Don’t be tempted to put them in the oven when they are not dry as they will just crack.

So you have my tricks, here is the recipe basics:

1. Put your sugar and almonds in the food processer and blend until fine.  i leave it on about 3 minutes on high.  Then pass through a seive.

2. Beat your egg whites to stiff, then add sugar, half at a time.  Beat until very firm.

3. Add colouring.  Gel is best as liquid colour can affect the egg consistency.

4. Mix in your almond and sugar mix. Half at a time, with a rubber spatula.  Fold it in, when the first half is folded in add the second half.

5. Macronage time: Beat/fold/press into the bowl, 10-12 times.  when it is flowing like lava (i can’t believe i said that as the books annoyed me when they say that, but it is the best description, then it is ready for your piping bag.  flowing like lava test – when you dribble it into the bowl the dribble marks will dissolve and flatten within a few seconds.  (so when you pipe your circles the peaks on top will soften down to a flat top).

6. Pipe onto your trays, bang on the surface and leave to dry.

7. bake once dry – but remember to test the baking temperature and duration.

Good Luck!

(Macrons are naturally gluten free so a fab treat for anyone!)

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Dreaming of the rain and rhubarb preserves…

Alice’s Kitchen has been closed for 12-months and things are about to heat up!  As I sat in an airconditioned conference room in Chicago this morning, looking out at the dreary wet weather I began to scheme …and dream of the rhubarb growing in the vege patch.

I am in Chicago for work, well for my day job.  I am feeling desperately homesick and can’t wait to get home.  Spending a week with strangers takes it’s toll and as i sit now in the hotel bar with a glass of Savignon Blanc, I am planning Alice’s return.

Those of you who have followed Alice’s Tea Garden from the beginning know that my main focus was on the Tea Parties, but as life has changed, I have moved out of London, I am going to spend more time on helping others to create the best tea parties.  This will mean I am going to start posting more details about recipes, menu suggestions, matching teas with your menus and quirky themes to consider for your afternoon tea parties.

I am going to do more of the ‘pop up’ event style parties as it is easier for me to plan and manage these events around my calendar.

So for those people of Chorleywood and the  Chalfonts… look out soon for summer parties… a great way to meet some new local people and an alternative weekend afternoon in the garden.

Now i digressed.  What i was telling you all was that i was dreaming of my Rhubarb, and then out pops Hugh today with a great article on preserves… what better way for me to use my rhurbarb than a Rhubarb chutney.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/21/preserve-recipes-fearnley-whittingstall

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's gooseberry curd

Image courtesy of the Guardian…http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/21/preserve-recipes-fearnley-whittingstall