Thursday, 26 September 2013

Baileys Ganache Buttercream

This buttercream is amazing. Silky, smooth, chocolatey, and, best of all, full of Baileys! Wonderful stuff.
This recipe came about when I had lots of leftover Baileys ganache from the chocolate Baileys 'thank you' cake, and didn't want it to go to waste. So, as usual, I threw it in the kitchen aid and started chucking things in with it. First I added just icing sugar, but this wasn't giving me the smooth buttercream texture I wanted, it was yielding a more royal icing consistency. So then I added butter. What emerged from my whirring cauldron was a light and fluffy, yet intensely rich chocolatey, Baileys-y delicious mousse like icing, that piped beautifully.

Make this. Enjoy. Thank me later.

Baileys Ganache Buttercream

Left over Baileys ganche, cooled, but still runny (leave it to cool too long and it will set hard)
Butter, slightly softened
Icing sugar

1. Mix ganache with a mixer until smooth and aerated. Add icing sugar gradually, beating constantly until a thick paste forms. Gradually add butter in small chunks and whip in until everything is mixed well and you get a pipeable buttercream texture.

Keep any left overs in a sealed container or bag in the fridge.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Baileys Chocolate Cake

I'll admit, I haven't been paying too much attention to this blog lately. This saddens me. But it's gotten harder and harder to bake things lately because I'VE BEEN SO BUSY MOVING IN AT UNI ARGHHH. Phew. It got intense there. I've been here at the University of Exeter's Cornwall campus, Falmouth for just over a week now. Going from being a only-child-living-at-home to a flat of 8 rowdy 18 year olds has been quite an adjustment, but I'm loving the freedom and unaccountability and am really starting to love it here. If only I didn't have to go to lectures...

But I digress. Before I departed for the glorious shores of Cornwall, I did make something of a backlog of recipes (all 2 of them) to tide me through the first few weeks of Uni. I made this cake as a thank you, you probably guessed by the writing on it, to my best friend's parents, who gave me a touching card before I left. Any excuse to make a cake, I say.

This chocolate cake is a recipe I haven't shared before. It's moist, rich and delicious, but, interestingly, I don't think it lasts quite as well as my own chocolate cake recipe, and I'm not just saying that. I found it had the tendency to dry out slightly after a day or two, whereas mine stayed fresh for days and days. Nevertheless, it's superb fresh.

I filled the cake with a quantity of my baileys buttercream, and coated the cake in a ganache made with baileys and chocolate instead of the traditional cream. It worked wonderfully! (Note: the ganache will actually help the cake keep moisture, meaning it stayers fresher for longer!) The left over ganache gave me a base for my piping incing - I just added enough icing sugar to get it to a stiff, pipeable consistency. After I'd written my message, I finished the cake with a sprinkling of grated chocolate - a perfect end!

Chocolate Cake 
Makes 2 thick 6'' cakes, or 2 normal thickness 8/9'' cakes

225g butter, softened
225g soft brown sugar
200g self raising flour
25g cocoa powder
4 eggs
125g dark chocolate
120ml milk

1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5. Grease and line cake tins. Cream together the sugar and butter, and melt the chocolate and milk in a bowl over a pan of simmering water until combined. Set this mixture aside to cool slightly.
2. Crack the eggs into the butter mixture, one by one, beating after each egg has been added. Fold in dry ingredients and cooled milk and chocolate mixture.
3. Pour into prepared tins and bake until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean, or until the cakes have stopped 'singing' (making a bubbling noise) - sounds weird but it really works! This should be about 30 minutes for standard cake tins, but will take longer in deeper tins.
4. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack in the tins for at least 15 minutes before turning them out.

Baileys Ganache

300g dark chocolate
150-200ml baileys

1. Melt the baileys and chocolate in a saucepan over a low heat until combined, and they have reached a pourable consistency. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more baileys to thin.
2. Pour over sandwiched cake layers.

Recipe for the decorating icing will be the next post!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Cafe Citta, Cardiff

I've never written a restaurant review before. I know how ridiculous it is for a 18 year old to be analysing a restaurant chef's food. Don't judge me.

It was my Dad's birthday yesterday. Normally, we'd stay home and get a family take away, it being a special occasion, but my father, being the now quite middle aged and mature man (ya don't look a day over 25, Dad!) sensibly suggested that we combine the occasion with a visit to my Brother's new Uni house in Cardiff. Usually, when we go to Cardiff for a meal out (which, in my opinion, is painfully infrequently) we go to Cafe Rouge. Which is fine. It's nice, comfortable, familiar, and if you plan it right, quite cheap. But I jumped at the chance. 'JAMIE'S ITALIAN. JAMIE'S ITALIAN.' I shouted. I love Italian. If you couldn't tell.

But my father wasn't going to settle that easily. 'To TripAdvisor!' *points finger skyward*. 'Look, this place is number one on trip advisor's list of restaurants in Cardiff. Jamie's Italian is 136th.' 'And, what's your point?' I was thinking. But he did point out that Jamie's didn't have a great selection of vegetarian dishes, not brilliant news for Pete. So we ended up booking a table for 5 on a Thursday night at Cafe Citta. A true hidden jem. With fantastic food, a really cosy atmosphere, and entertainment provided by the chefs twirling pizza dough up in the air like you see on telly, I'd recommend the place to anyone.

                                                  This photo of Cafe Citta is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Photos of Cafe Citta, Cardiff

At first glance, Cafe Citta doesn't look like the best place to grab a meal. Situated on Church Street, Cardiff, the neighboring strip club and photocopying shop don't really set it in the best light. But look past that, it's about to get so much better. The Cafe itself is very narrow, and can only seat about 25 at a time. Not surprising considering every single dish is made fresh to order by just two chefs in the open kitchen at the back of the restaurant, who provide great entertainment flipping and spinning pizza doughs and firing them in the authentic pizza oven. I may have stared a little too much. But it was so interesting!!

The menu was wide and we all had a hard time choosing what we wanted. There was also a specials board that I assume changes every day. We started off with a garlic pizza, a housemade pizza dough thin crust spread with butter, garlic and rosemary, then fired in the wood oven. Because it was cooked in the hot oven the pizza we shared as a starter arrived in no time. It was delicious. The base wasn't too thin or crispy (something that stopped me ordering a pizza for my main), but instead was soft and slightly chewy, not too garlicy, and the crispy rosemary was a genius addition. My plan was to save my slice to eat with my main, but after a while I gave in, not wanting it to go cold before my pasta arrived. That, I would say, was the only downside to the place. The small kitchen and even smaller staff meant the wait for our main courses was quite long, especially as there were a few large parties waiting on their meals at the same time. This wasn't a problem for us, but I can see how it could be annoying for some.

                                                     This photo of Cafe Citta is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Photos of Cafe Citta, Cardiff
a folded pizza

I honestly can't remember the name of what I ordered, because it was something really long and Italian. Basically, it was spaghetti with a rich tomato sauce, pancetta, chillis, red onion, garlic and rocket. It was amazing. The sauce was smokey and delicious, and there was just enough to leave you well satisfied, but not overly stuffed so I couldn't sample other people's. Speaking of, my brother, Pete, being a vegi (who they were very helpful and accommodating to, saying they could make practically anything vegetarian, seeing as it's made to order), ordered a 'folded pizza' (pretty much exactly how it sounds, a pizza folded like you would a pancake, a few more times than a calzone) with courgettes, rocket and parma ham, but asked for the ham to be replaced with goat's cheese. I tried a bit. It was actually stunning. Like the garlic pizza, the middle of the dough was slightly under cooked and chewy, not at all crispy, which I loved. It oozed cheese and had incredible flavour. It'll probably order that next time we go, it was that good. My Dad ordered a porchini and Italian sausage pizza, which was also great.

We were left full and happy. The bill came to £62 for 5 meals plus drinks. Very reasonable. Especially for food of that quality. The staff were helpful and kind, and the family run atmosphere of the place really was lovely. It was also interesting to hear the waitresses and chefs speaking to each other in Italian, it really added to the authentic feel. Of course, it was miles away from real Italy, but probably a lot closer than the corporate chain Jamie's Italian.

It'd still love to go there sometime, though.
But I'll probably be returning to Cafe Citta first...

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Banoffee Puddings

Remember that leftover toffee sauce from the banoffee pie I made a few weeks ago? I knew I couldn't throw it away. It was just too damn tasty. So I made these (at the time, I stress, this post is being written much later). The idea started off that I was going to make sticky toffee puddings. This was fine, until I opened the cupboard to find but a single, solitary date in the packet that I thought was full. That just won't do.

So I panicked (the puddings were meant to be a dessert for a family meal), and decided to wing it. I used the same sponge recipe, but instead of using dates, I put sliced bananas at the bottom of each pudding dish. I covered these banana coins with a spoon of caramel and the sponge mixture. They worked out great. The bananas sweetened during baking and the caramel soaked into the sponge as it cooked. These little puddings were great and it was so nice to have single serve desserts that turned out really neatly.

These are delicious, but are also very sweet, so I'd recommend serving them with either cream or ice cream...

Banoffee Puddings
Makes 5

175g self raising flour
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g castor sugar
2 eggs
85g butter, softened
200ml milk

2 bananas, plus extra for serving
5tbsp caramel sauce, plus extra for serving
cream/ice cream

1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4. Grease 5 single serve pudding basins/ramekins. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy then beat in the eggs, flour and bicarb slowly and gently. Incorporate the milk slowly until you have a runny batter.
 2. Slice the bananas into 1cm coins and divide between the pudding basins (you could also do this as one large pudding if you wanted), place a tablespoon of caramel sauce on top of the bananas.
3. Divide the cake batter among the basins. Level off and place basins on a baking tray. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Serve with extra caramel sauce, extra sliced bananas, and ice cream/cream.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Food Markets Of Nice, France

Today I got back from a week long holiday in Nice, France. After seven days of sunning, sight seeing and cocktailing, I think I'm finally drifting back down to Earth. I went with my BFF (cringe), Elinor (the 'El' from the previous post). We decided it would be fun to film our escapades and put them on YouTube. On the third day, we visited the Old Town markets, a personal highlight of the trip. The colours were so vibrant, and the atmosphere was amazing. Seeing all that fresh produce has definitely given me some interesting ideas to work with. If you're interested in checking out our little montage, and putting a voice to the face behind this vlog, feel free to check it out below. Or not. Links to previous and subsequent days are also around there too.