Monday, 15 November 2010

Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake with Tate & Lyle

My eldest daughter J9 had her birthday a few weeks ago. This time I asked her pointedly on what birthday cake she likes that she will eat. I did not want to repeat previous years when I buy or bake something and was eaten by all lonesome me. Sigh, they're too fussy these kids. Who are their parents?

Anyways, she said she wanted a Victoria Sponge Sandwich cake which we have been baking regularly this year and always gets eaten within a day. It's a favourite not only because of its nice buttery flavour but it's so easy to make. Before I used to have this notion that sponge cakes are technically challenging for your average baker. Well, not this sponge. Although I haven't tried it yet, I bet you can do a one-bowl mixing of all the ingredients. It's that simple.

This particular cake is also known as Victoria Sponge or Victoria Sandwich. Both of which pertains to a sponge cake with fillings in between layers.

I had some help in the guise of one of my favourite brands in the sugar department. One of Tate & Lyle's marketing people sent me some samples for my own baking use. To be honest I really don't need any introduction to it since I use Tate & Lyle regularly but any free samples is most welcome! As with the march of social networking websites that seems to be making blogs less popular, they have their own Facebook site that you have a peek at - We Love Baking.

Victoria Sponge

Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake

250 g  [1 cup] butter - at room temperature
250 g  caster sugar (superfine)
250 g  plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
3-4 Tbsp whole full-fat milk
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F. Butter two 20 cm round cake pan or a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and line its bottoms with greaseproof paper.
  2. Mix the flour and baking powder until well combined. Set aside.
  3. Beat the butter and caster sugar together until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the flour mixture. Mix until well incorporated.
  5. Add enough milk to the batter so that it falls off easily from a spoon.
  6. Divide the mixture between the two prepared pans.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes for the round pans or 50-55 minutes for the loaf pan or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Turn out on a rack and cool completely.
  9. Either level the top of one of the cake layer and spread the fillings on it or spread it on the bottom without leveling the top.
  10. Put the second cake layer on top and dust a little icing sugar over it.
  11. You have a choice of fillings below or spread whatever you like on it which in my daughter's case means - Nutella !
Note: You may use self-rising flour instead of plain flour, just make sure to omit the baking powder.

*Traditional Filling:
100 g  butter - softened to room temperature
125 g  icing sugar
1 cup strawberry jam
  • Beat the butter with the icing sugar.
  • Spread this first then put the strawberry jam on top of it.

*Filling 2:
1 cup double cream
fresh strawberries
strawberry jam
  • Whip the double cream to stiff peaks.
  • Assemble the fresh strawberries on the first cake layer then spoon a little jam on it.
  • Spread the whipped double cream on it.

Victoria Sponge

Victoria Sponge

Victoria Sponge with Nutella

Friday, 15 October 2010

Fudges Savoury Biscuits

Fudges has been quite generous to send me some of their delectable savoury biscuits. I'm quite familiar with the brand although only their sweet cookies are ones I have repeatedly purchased before. And like their sweet products, these new savoury biscuits are very good. We lost no time in trying them with different spreads, dips, drinks (teas and coffees) but I personally like them with soups which in these increasingly colder weather is very welcome indeed.

My favourite is the mature cheddar flavour while my husband prefer the stilton and walnut ones. Thanks Fudges Bakery!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Chicken Inasal

Chicken Inasal

I've been experimenting with concoctions for a chicken inasal recipe ever since I read this article about the wonderful piquant barbecued chicken from the Visayas region. Just reading that article and imagining the smoky, well marinated, juicy piece of chicken heaven made me salivate so much. I had to have one and fast!

Most of the recipes I read in the internet said not to scrimp on the spices. Most also suggest to marinate for 1 hour only. But I did get a lot of flavour when I extended that to 6 hours. It was great tasting!

One of the secrets, according to Mang Melchor, is in the vinegar. Use your best and most acidic 'native' vinegar and you cannot go wrong. A lot of people swear by the use of Star margarine or butter in the basting sauce. But on my two trials I used the rendered fat from the chicken itself with nothing but achuete to colour it and it came out good. Next time I'll put some butter and salt in it. We'll see ...

This recipe is still in the tweaking stage so the proportion and ingredients will most likely change later on as I continue to discover the best way of grilling these chicken delights.

Chicken Inasal

1 kg  chicken legs
6 Tbsp vinegar
6 Tbsp calamansi or lemon juice
1 Tbsp sea salt
2 tsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp minced ginger
1 piece tanglad (lemongrass) - chopped into 1-inch pieces
freshly ground black pepper

*Basting Sauce:
3 Tbsp rendered chicken oil or vegetable oil
1 Tbsp achuete (annatto) seed

  1. Trim excess fat and skin from the chicken and set aside. Make diagonal slits on both sides of the chicken legs.
  2. Combine all other ingredients then put in a plastic ziploc bag together with the chicken legs. Marinate for at least 2 hours.
  3. For the basting sauce, cook the reserved chicken fat and skin with a little water. Once the water evaporates, drizzle a little oil. Fry the chicken fat until well crisp.
  4. Remove the crispy chicken fat/skin and add the achuete seeds. Lower heat and cook for about 1 minute or until the achuete gives off its deep red colour. Strain the achuete seeds and discard. Set aside the coloured oil for basting.
  5. [Optional] Place the chicken legs in a baking pan tightly covered by aluminum foil. Bake at 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F for 25 minutes.
  6. Grill chicken on a charcoal barbecue while basting with the achuete oil from time to time. Cook until outside is crisp and well browned.

Note: If you skipped the oven-cooking, grill the chicken on indirect heat in the barbecue for at least 15-20 minutes to ensure that the inside is cooked. Then move it to direct heat for the last 5-10 minutes of browning.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Chocolate Date Fudge Cake

Chocolate Date Fudge Birthday Cake

It was the apple monster's 19th birthday and this is what he requested - the same chocolate cake I made about two years ago for his father. Although I have to reduce *a lot* of the sugars since my lasting memory of it was tooth-achingly sweet. He loved the icing which was buttercream-based so that stayed in. The caramel filling has to go because it packs in too much of the sweetness and we really don't want it too sweet. I adapted this from the Great American Food cookbook by Lesley Allin. Well, actually in the book it was titled - Chocolate Fudge Turtle Cake. I couldn't for the life of me make turtle-looking mounds with the icing and you have to put in pecans as their 'feet'. My kids don't like nuts in cakes so I didn't have to do it - yay! The cake itself was very moist and the icing really lovely especially if you chill the cake first in the fridge. Very nice. I hope you like it, too.

Chocolate Date Fudge Cake

Chocolate Date Fudge Cake

80 g  [1/2 cup] chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup boiling water
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
170 g  dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa content) - broken into pieces
65 g  [1/3 cup] caster sugar
4 large eggs - separated
125 g  [1/2 cup] unsalted butter - room temperature
220 g  [1 cup firmly packed] brown sugar
240 g  plain self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Put the chopped dates in a heat-proof bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Add 1/4 tsp of the bicarbonate of soda and stir to combine. Let stand for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Puree the mixture in a food processor or with a stick blender. If you don't have a blender, mash it with a fork. Set aside.
  3. Combine the dark chocolate, date puree, caster sugar, and 1 egg yolk in a saucepan. Cook over low-medium heat while stirring constantly until all of the chocolate is melted and the mixture well combined. Do not allow to boil. Remove from heat and cool.
  4. In a bowl, sift and combine together the flour, baking powder, remaining bicarbonate of soda, and the salt. Set aside.
  5. Mix the sour cream, cold water, and vanilla in another container. Set aside.
  6. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F.
  7. In a big bowl, beat the butter with the brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  8. Add the remaining 3 egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  9. Mix in the flour and sour cream mixtures alternately in 3 parts ending with the dry ingredients. Make sure to beat well after each addition.
  10. Add in the cooled chocolate mixture until evenly combined.
  11. In a separate clean bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until stiff but not dry.
  12. Using a metal spoon, fold the egg whites into the cake batter gently but thoroughly.
  13. Pour the batter equally between the two prepared cake pans and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean.
  14. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes then turn out on a rack and cool completely.

* To assemble:
  1. Level the top of one of the cake layers by slicing off the excess. Spread about 1/2 cup of the chocolate frosting on it.
  2. Put the other cake layer on top and spread the rest of the frosting generously over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving.

Chocolate Frosting

130 g  [2/3 cup] granulated sugar
375 ml  [1 1/2 cup] double or whipping cream
170 g  dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa content) - broken into pieces
pinch of salt
125 g  [1/2 cup] unsalted butter
1/4 - 1/2 tsp instant espresso or ordinary coffee granules
1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Mix the sugar, cream in a heavy saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over low-medium heat.
  2. Reduce to heat to low and simmer while stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Remove from the heat, add in the chocolate and coffee granules. Stir until chocolate has melted.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until butter has melted.
  5. Cool the mixture and put in the fridge for about 30 minutes-1 hour.
  6. By this time the mixture should be thicker. Beat the frosting with an electric mixer until the colour changes slightly and it has a spreading consistency.

Chocolate Date Fudge Cake

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Mac & Cheese

It's been quite a while since I've blogged and I'm missing it a bit. My virtual life has to be put on hold so that I can take care of important things in real life. There is no dearth of materials, mind you. I've a number of recipes in a queue waiting for me to pick up my blogging keyboards again.

Possibly the most common recipe I have to continually look in my cookbook is the macaroni and cheese recipe. My kids request it almost every week now.

I was wondering about the elbow-shaped pasta very common in the Philippines which is usually used for this recipe. The fact is, I cannot find it here among the local UK supermarkets. The only places I saw them are in - surprise, surprise - Pinoy food shops. So I normally use penne or rigatoni pasta or any tube pasta except, ironically, macaroni itself. The macaronis here are quite small and thick. I'd really prefer a lighter bite on the pasta hence the choice of other pasta shapes.

As expected, I adopted the recipe from The Ultimate Recipe Book. I think I'll be cooking virtually every recipe in there. It suggested putting breadcrumbs as a topping. But everytime I did I end up coughing and choking on the little breadcrumb grains. So that is definitely off with only the cheese adorning the top.

Macaroni & Cheese

Macaroni & Cheese

350 g  of grated cheese (any combination of Cheddar, Parmesan, and Gruyere)
500 g  tube pasta (penne, rigatoni, macaroni, etc.)
1 liter [4 cups] full-fat milk
65 g  [1/4 cup] butter
1/3 cup plain flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

  1. Reserve about 1/3 cup of the grated cheese for topping.
  2. Boil and cook the pasta according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  4. Add in the flour. Cook for about 2 minutes while continually stirring.
  5. Stir in the milk about 1 cup at a time. Bring to gentle boil while making sure to stir until smooth before adding the next 1 cup in.
  6. Once all the milk is in, simmer over low heat for about 4 minutes while stirring from time to time.
  7. Remove from heat. Add the mustard, stir until blended. Add the cheese, stir until blended as well.
  8. Add in salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Mix in with the pasta. Pour into a greased 9 x 13-inch heatproof dish. Sprinkle the reserved grated cheese on top.
  10. [Optional] Bake for 10 minutes in an oven at 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F.
  11. Grill for about 5 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  12. Serve while still hot.

Variation: Replace the reserved cheese topping with fresh breadcrumbs - process two slices of fresh bread (you may remove the crust) in a food chopper or processor and sprinkle on top of the pasta before baking.

Mac & Cheese