Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sweet Treats

Yesterday was a delight. With only two weeks left I decided I could afford to go mad with the ingredients and so made up enough goodies to last the rest of the Challenge.
Firstly I made a jug of custard (using custard powder) in the microwave. Whilst that was cooling I then made a Sicilian Cassata. The next thing was to make three individual bowls of Sherry Trifle, followed by a batch of Profiteroles. When the custard was cold I was able to put some on the jelly (later to be topped with thick cream), and the Proffies were filled with a mixture of custard and thick cream (later to be smothered in melted chocolate).

For our main meal of the day I did a really good Spaghetti Bolognese made correctly using a sofrito base. This used up the last of my minced beef, but I still have some stewing steak, two lots of mutton, some diced chicken, chicken winglets, not to mention sausages, salmon, smoked haddock and kippers. And that's without checking thoroughly. Yes, you see I forgot I also had loads of chicken livers. So plenty to go at there.

As promised I also found time to try an unusual recipe and here is one for Chocolate Cake which made me smile as it reminded me so very much of my childhood when I made mud pies. So certainly one worth letting the children have a go at making.
I didn't believe it was possible it would work as it contained no eggs, and instead of butter or marg., vegetable oil (I used sunflower) was used. But it did work and in some ways the 'to the dry, add the wet' method of combining ingredients reminded me of the way muffins are made,.

Being an American recipe, this uses cup measurements which (if you have a set of these measuring 'cups - and if not worth getting some) is simpler than relying on a set of scales. One cup measures 8fl.oz which is slightly less than the average mug. Although I do have the aforementioned set of 'cups', I chose to use a mug which, when filled to overflowing, holds exactly 8 fl.oz, (a teacup might do the same) so I used that. Alternatively, I could, and perhaps should have used one of my pint glass Pyrex (or even my plastic) measuring jug. As the cake is actually mixed in the baking tin, the good thing is, there is only the jug (or mug) and spoon to wash up afterwards.

Couldn't be Easier Chocolate Cake:
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/3rd cup cocoa
1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup oil
1 cup cold water
2 tblsp white vinegar
Into an 8" square shallow baking tin (ungreased and unlined but pref. non-stick) , put in the first five (dry) ingredients and stir them around with a flat whisk or fork until well mixed. Put the remaining (wet) ingredients into a jug and pour them over the dry mix and start stirring with a flat whisk until thoroughly blended. Be as quick as you can and make sure you work into the corners to gather up any wet oily bits left. When well mixed, IMMEDIATELY place the tin in a preheated oven 180C, 375F, Gas 6 and bake for 25 minutes until firm on top. It should be cooked when you see the sides of the cake have pulled away from the tin. Cool in the tin.
Tip: I see is no reason why the dry ingredients can't be mixed in a bowl before putting into the baking tin. Or even making the whole thing in a bowl and then pouring it into a tin. But doing it that way I certainly would have lost all the pleasure of trying something new.
Once the cake has cooled it is not difficult to remove it from the tin, but I found that a fish slice worked best as otherwise it could break up.

After baking I was pleased to see the cake had a perfectly flat top, and - after sampling - decided it could make a simpler version of my Ticket Office Pudding, by just pouring butterscotch sauce over the top while it was hot and then returning it to the oven until bubbling. Or, as I do with TOP, pour over a double helping of sauce, let it set, pop it in the freezer and cut off what is required to reheat in the microwave (no more than 2 mins). Perhaps I should rename this version: Economy-Ticket Pudding.

The following recipe I tried many years ago. It worked then, so I see no reason why it won't work now. Not a million miles away from the last recipe it does have an interesting method of combining ingredients again.

Cocoa Fudge Casserole Cake:
1 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3rds cup of sugar
2 tblsp cocoa
1/2 cup (4 fl.oz) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tblsp melted butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup firmly packed soft brown sugar
extra cocoa (1/4 cup)
1 - 1/4 cup boiling water
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cocoa together three times (you need to get as much air into it as possible as again, no eggs are used). Put the milk, vanilla and butter together in a measuring jug and add to the dry ingredients. Stir until just moistened.
Mix in the nuts. Spread mixture into a shallow 6 cup (that's 6 times 8 fl.oz = which I work out at just under two and a half pint capacity) buttered casserole. (I use the type of dish in which I make my lasagne).
Mix together the brown sugar and the extra cocoa and sprinkle over the top. Finally pour over the entire pudding all the boiling water. Bake at 350F (and its equivalents) for 50-60 mins. Serve warm with ice-cream or whipped cream or chocolate sauce or butterscotch sauce. Oh, why not serve with the lot!

If you are fond of Welsh Rarebit, then I have a scrumptious recipe to give you tomorrow. Not only can it be eaten on toast, the mixture can also be kept in the fridge to use as you want, and will also freeze. Great too spread on top of smoked haddock or kippers and grilled. Told you I was keeping the best till (almost) last.