Almost spring (?) and visitors from home!

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The past week was full-on busy but in a good way! I made sure to celebrate pancake day in both a British and Swedish manner.

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There were savoury pancakes (with cheddar, pancetta, chives and avocado for example) and sweet ones (with nutella, whipped cream and raspberries) and of course a Swedish cream bun (fastlagsbulle) from Swedish bakery Bageriet.

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On Thursday my dear friends Maria and Daniel and their two children arrived in London so I met up with them in the evening for a quick burger at Fire Station and a catch up.

On Friday after work we met up again for a longer dinner at Tredwells, which was as child friendly as I had hoped. In fact all places we ate at were very child friendly.

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On Saturday Maria and I left Daniel to look after the kids while we went to the V&A and the fabulous Balenciaga exhibition. I’ve wanted to see it since it came on ages ago, and am so happy I managed to see it just before it ended.

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Afterwards we treated ourselves to some cupcakes at Hummingbird bakery, a little tradition of ours.

In the evening it got cold (compared to 10C and sunshine during the day) so it was perfect with dinner in the cosiest of pubs, complete with dogs (and dog treats), a fire place and comfort food.

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Yesterday we had a nice relaxed lunch at Whyte & Brown in Kingly Court before we hit the shops on Regent Street and Carnaby Street and even ventured into Hamleys (phew).

It was so lovely to spend so much time with my lovely friends! It’s far more relaxed when my friends come here than when I go home and try to make time for everyone. Such a treat!

 

Pecan pie

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I made this Thanksgiving pie the year before last and lots of times before then, but haven’t found the time (in the busy period between Thanksgiving and Christmas) to blog about it. So here it is, in January, but it’s still worth making it – apart from being a Thanksgiving staple dessert it’s also a wonderful winter pie.

The recipe is courtesy of The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (the bakery’s first, and in my opinion also the best, cookbook).

Pecan pie, serves 10-12

Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

Pie crust:

260 g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

110g (unsalted) butter

Grease a 23cm pie dish. Put the flour, salt and butter in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. )

Add 1 tbsp water and beat until well-mixed. Add a second tbsp water and beat until you have a smooth dough. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for an hour.

Roll out on a floured surface and line the pie dish, trimming the edges. No need to blind bake. 

Filling:

200 g caster sugar

250 ml dark corn syrup (golden syrup works well)

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

60 unsalted butter, cubed

1/4 tsp vanilla 

100 g shelled pecans + extra for decoration

Save the 10-12 nicest pecans for decoration. Chop the rest.

Preheat the oven to 170C. 

Add sugar, syrup and salt in a large saucepan and place on medium heat. Bring to the boil, then remove from heat and let cool slightly. 

Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the warm (not hot) sugar mixture and stir it in swiftly (to avoid scrambling the eggs). Add butter and vanilla and stir until the butter has melted and been incorporated. 

Place the chopped pecans in the pie case and pour in the sugar mixture. Arrange the saved pecans carefully on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a dark golden colour and slightly crunchy on top. Leave to cool and serve while it’s slightly warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

 

Brownies with dulce de leche frosting

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This frosting feels like magic. Despite the fact that it contains dulce de leche, full fat cream cheese and whipped cream it makes these dense brownies appear lighter than they are without any frosting.

Plus the killer combination of heavy chocolate and sweet but not sickly dulce de leche is just delicious! But you had probably figured that out already.

I’ve made these bad boys twice now and they went down a storm both times. At work they couldn’t believe they felt as light as they did and when I made them at a brunch for my friends in Sweden I got asked for the recipe straight away.

The idea for the combination of flavours and the frosting recipe is entirely my own creation, but I used my go-to brownie recipe courtesy of The Hummingbird Bakery. There is no point trying to come up with a perfect brownie recipe when it already exists.

Brownies, makes 18-20

Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery’s wonderful recipe.

5 eggs

500 g caster sugar

100 g cocoa

120 g plain flour

250 g melted butter

50 g roughly chopped dark chocolate 

Beat eggs and sugar fluffy and white. Add flour and cocoa, then the butter. Mix thoroughly. Fold in the nuts and chocolate and pour into a lined baking tray. Bake for 30-35 mins in 170C. Leave to cool completely.

Dulce de leche frosting, enough for one batch of brownies

200 g (half a tin) dulce de leche 

200 g Philadelphia

300 ml whipping cream

Mix dulce de leche and Philadelphia in a bowl. Whip the cream in another bowl and mix into the dulce de leche mixture. Whip the mixture with an electric mixer to make it even fluffier. Place a spoonful of the frosting on each brownie. Decorate with a dusting of cocoa. 

Chocolate cheesecake

It really annoys me that I didn’t take a picture of this lovely cake. Note to self: the camera doesn’t work without a memory card. So above is a borrowed picture.

I always trust The Hummingbird Bakery’s recipes, and especially their first book is utterly brilliant, but I still wasn’t sure if I needed a chocolate cheesecake in my life and repertoar. But it turns out I did. I see this cheesecake more as a delicious chocolate cake that happens to be a cheesecake then just a cheesecake. The cream cheese makes it creamy yet still light in texture but the flavour focus is the chocolate, so it is important to choose a good quality chocolate for this. I don’t like mine too bitter so 60-70% cocoa solids is perfect for me.

Chocolate cheesecake, serves 8-10

Adapted from the The Hummingbird Bakery’s recipe.

Base:

200 g digestives

2 tbsp cocoa

150 g butter, melted

Filling:

900 g full-fat Philadelphia

190 g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla

4 eggs

200 g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 150C. Roughly break up the digestive biscuits and put them in a food processor with the cocoa powder. Process until finely ground. Add the butter and mix until you have the consistency of wet sand. Press the mixture into the base of a round springform (about 20 cm Ø), using the back of a spoon works well. Refrigerate while you make the topping. 

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract with an electric whisk on slow speed until you get a very smooth, thick mixture. Add one egg at a time while still mixing. Scrape down the sides in between.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t allow the base of the bowl to touch the water). Let it cool a little. Spoon a little of the cream cheese mixture into the melted chocolate, stir to mix then add a little more. This will even out the temperatures of the two mixtures. Eventually you can stir all the cream cheese mixture into the chocolate mixture until combined. 

Pour the mixture onto the cold base. Cover the base and sides of the tin with tin foil and put it inside a deep baking tray and and fill with water until it reaches two-thirds of the way up the cake tin. Bake for 40 -50 minutes, checking regularly after 40 minutes. Don’t overcook, it should be wobbly in the centre. Leave to cool slightly in the tin, then cover and refridgerate overnight before serving.

Butterscotch pecan cheesecake

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For the monthly cakes in November I had originally thought of making a pecan pie as a nod to Thanksgiving, but most my colleagues it seemed had actually been celebrating Thanksgiving so a pecan pie didn’t seem as such a good idea anymore.

I still wanted to make something similar and looking through a cookbook at home, I found the perfect compromise – a butterscotch pecan cheesecake.

It basically tastes like a pecan pie, pairing the nuts with the butterscotch, but in the form of a cheesecake. Genius!

Everyone in the office loved it, and so did I. Definitely a good autumnal recipe to have up your sleeve. IMG_2005

Butterscotch pecan cheesecake, serves 10

Adapted from a Hummingbird Bakery recipe from the book Cake Days.

Biscuit base:

220 g digestives

100 g melted butter

Cheesecake layer:

700 g full-fat cream cheese

120 g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3 eggs

80 g pecans, finely chopped. Plus 10-12 pecan halves, to decorate.

Butterscotch glaze:

60 g butter

45 g soft light brown sugar

2 tbsp whole milk

120 g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 160C. Line the base of the cake tin with baking parchment, then, in a food processor, mix  the digestive biscuits into fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and mix until the crumbs have the consistency of wet sand. Press them into the vase of the tin, then either place in the fridge to set for 20-30 minutes or bake the base for 10-15 minutes. Leave to cool before adding the cheesecake mixture. 

Using a hand-held whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment, mix together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Stir in the chopped pecans by hand and then pour the cheesecake mix on to the biscuit base. 

Wrap the cake tin in tin foil and place in a roasting tin. Fill with water to about 5 mm from the top of the cake tin, creating a water bath,to prevent the cake cracking on top while cooking. Place in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until the cheesecake is a light golden colour, especially aronud the edges, firm to the touch and with only a slight wobble in the middle. (It is possible to bake the cake without a water bath on a lower heat keeping an eye on it all the way through, but I would only recommend that to experienced bakers. You need to know exactly when to take it out.)

Allow the cheesecake to cool down to room temperature, and then place in the fridge to set for a few hours. When the cheesecake is fully chilled, make the butterscotch glaze.

Put the butter, light brown sugar and milk in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the icing sugar and vanilla essence, then whisk until the glaze is smooth. Pour the glaze on top of the cheesecake and let it set for a few more hours. Decorate the top with the pecan halves. Remove from the cake tin before serving. 

Moist chocolate cake with frosting

I love a good chocolate cake with frosting, partyly because I (like most people) really like chocolate, but also because of a dear childhood memory.

My maternal grandmother was a good cook and baker and when it was her or granddad’s birthday they would usually celebrate it the old-fashioned Swedish way with and afternoon cake party. Normally there would be seven types of cakes and cookies, including danishes or cinnamon rolls, a sponge of some form, and a proper birthday cake as the main attraction.

Some of these cakes could be quite grown-up in taste, so to please us grandchildren she would make a chocolate sheetcake with frosting, which we loved (well, I still do). And mind you, frosting didn’t even exist in rural Sweden in the mid-eighties, so she was well before her time.

But the cake was lovely and I think about it a lot. Unfortunately I never managed to get the recipe off her before she died, but my mother think she knows how she made it. I have yet to try that method for frosting, I think I have been putting it off because I so want it to be right.

But now, I can experiment again, because even if the recipe my mother has suggested turns out wrong, this Hummingbird Bakery frosting is so close to what I remember it tasted like, although containing completely different ingredients, that I am pleased either way.

My dear mommi Edith (my nickname for her when I was a child) – this is for you.

Moist chocolate cake with frosting, serves 8-10

400 ml caster sugar

330 ml plain flour

4 tbsp cocoa

2,5 tsp vanilla sugar

2,5 tsp baking powder

135 g melted butter

3 eggs

200 ml boiling water

Mix the dry ingredients. Add eggs, butter and water, stir to incorporate. Pour into a greased springform. Bake in a low oven, 175 C for 35-45 minuten. Leave to cool completely. Cut in half with a serrated knife (bread knife).

Chocolate frosting

200 g icing sugar

75 g softened butter

30 g cocoa

150 g cream cheese, cold

Beat sugar, butter and cocoa with an electric whisk. Add the cream cheese and beat until you have a glossy and even frosting.

Divide the batch into two. Use half as filling in the middle. Use the rest to either cover the cake all around or to pipe decorations on top. Sprinkle with icing sugar (which I forgot). 

Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting

It has almost become a tradition for me to bake something for the office on a Sunday. I love baking, and feel I have enough time on a Sunday to spend hours in the kitchen, and most people like a little Monday pick-me-up.

Two Sundays ago now I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, their first cookbook.

I want to learn how to decorate cakes, but one step at the time, this time I piped the frosting and decorated it with glitter or rice-paper roses, all edible, but not sure the roses tasted much.

Chocolate cupcakes, makes 12-14

100 g plain flour

20 g cocao

140 g caster sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

a pinch of salt

40 g softened butter

120 ml whole milk

1 egg

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Beat butter, cocao, sugar, baking powder and flour in a bowl until sandy. Mix milk, egg and vanilla extract in a bowl/jug and add that to the sandy mixture while whisking. Beat until fully combined. Fill cupcake cases to 2/3 and bake in 175 C for 20-25 mins. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Chokladfrosting, enough for 14 cupcakes

300 g icing sugar

100 g softened butter

40 g cocao

40 ml whole milk

Beat sugar, cocao and butter in a bowl. Add the milk bit by bit and beat until the frosting is glossy. Pipe onto the completely cool cupcakes.