Tag Archives: orange

Winter flavours…

I bloody HATE how early Christmas is every year. There were advent calendars for pets in the local supermarket back in August. I mean, if there’s one thing that’s not essential for Christmas it’s an advent calendar for your pet (sorry Doris)

And then I got irrationally angry about this product and signage in the supermarket yesterday.

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IT’S A CHRISTMAS TREE.

We can all see it’s a bloody Christmas tree, Sainsbury’s, calling it a ‘tiered tree objet’ does not make it less of a seasonal product. And let’s not even go to the bit where you’ve missed the ‘c’ out of object. It does not make it more desirable. I’m hoping it’s just a typo and not some misplaced sense of thinking Frenchifying a word makes a product hipper.

Having said all of that I love Christmas spices. LOVE them. All of them. And so, this very morning, I decided to make a batch of orange and cardamom cookies. And sure, they’re festive, but I deliberately made them heartshaped so they’re not seasonally relevant. Well, Valentine’s day I guess but I’m not American or 14 so I just don’t care. Let’s say I made them as it  was our six year anniversary  a couple of weekends ago and I’m filled with the romance of our love for each other*.

*If you know me, you’ll know I vommed a little in my mouth as I wrote that. 

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Orange and Cardamom biscuits 

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 40g dark muscovado sugar
  • 15 cardmom pods, seeds removed and ground
  • Zest of two oranges
  • 170g butter softened
  • 240g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt

Mix the orange zest and ground cardamom seeds into the sugar so that the sugar is flavoured with the spices. Beat in the softened butter and then sift in the flour and salt. Mix till just combined, then split dough into two, flatten into discs and refrigerate for up to one hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 170C.

Take one disc of dough and roll out to about 0.5cm thickness. Using whatever cutters you haev to hand, cut out biscuits and put onto a baking tray (lined with greaseproof paper, of course).

Keep rerolling until all dough is used up. The first disc made about 10 heart shaped biscuits so this recipe will probably make 20 or so.

Bake at 170C for about 15 mins until the biscuits are golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack and leave to cool before eating.

The dough can be frozen as can the actual cookies, so you can always have a festively spiced biscuit treat to hand.

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Chocolate Orange brownie cake (or a baked poop?? You decide)

My father in law turned 70 this weekend so we’ve been celebrating with the family a lot over the last few days. He had quite a traumatic injury last spring involving his bike, his leg and a truck so it’s been a hell of a year for him and was good to be able to spend time with him and see how he’s recovering.

Birthday boy

We went to a lovely party with his friends on the Sunday, where his long term partner who is an amazing cook, put on a spread that included no less than two pies, a deboned, stuffed chicken, about 43 salads and beautiful home baked bread, followed by an incredible four desserts – my favourite was the chocolate Amaretto cherry tart, the husband could have happily drowned himself in the St Clements trifle. Yums.

Cherry chocolate amaretto tart and baked cheesecake

On Monday, my sister in law hosted a gathering just for the immediate family and she asked me to make a cake. I was more than happy to oblige and decided to make a orange chocolate brownie cake, with a little dusting of orange flavoured icing sugar on top. How difficult could this be? I can bake brownies, as my slutty brownies post (hopefully) proved.

Lordy, everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong and I ended up with a cake that looked like this.

Oh dear

Yup, a gigantic baked cow pat. Or, as I fondly referred to it, a turd cake.

Clearly, a dusting of icing sugar, orange flavoured or not, wasn’t going to polish this turd so I ended up making an orange butter cream icing instead which I think made the whole thing a little too sweet but it looked so much better. And they all seemed to like it and the brownie bit actually tasted fine so this is why I’m putting the recipe below. Maybe you’ll have more luck with it, I think I was just having an off day. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

Chocolate Orange Brownie cake with orange buttercream icing

So much better

Brownie Cake Ingredients

  • 175g butter
  • 175g dark chocolate (at least 70%) + an additional 100g all chopped into chunks
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 70g plain flour
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • Zest of two oranges

Method

  • Preheat oven to gas mark 4
  • Grease and line a 20cm cake tin, ideally with a loose bottom or springform to make it easy to remove the cake
  • Melt together the butter, 175g of chocolate, sugar and orange zest over a very low heat until it has all combined and you can’t feel any grains of sugar.
  • Add a pinch of salt and leave to cool a little – use this time to whip your egg whites into soft peaks
  • Once the butter/choc/sugar mix has cooled a little, whisk in the egg yolks and the remaining 100g of chocolate
  • Gently fold in the flour until all combined then fold in the egg whites, taking care not to lose any of the air in them
  • Spoon batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes until the top bounces back when you touch it
  • Leave to cool

A note here – when I started mixing the flour into the batter, I noticed that there was a layer of oil that just wouldn’t combine with anything. Didn’t want to put too much flour into the mix but did probably add an extra 10g or so – it didn’t help, I believe this was the start of my turd cake problems. Because of this the egg whites didn’t fold in correctly causing the “natural” pattern as seen on the cake above. 

Whilst the cake cools, prepare the icing.

I had already put aside 200g of icing sugar with the zest of two oranges to give it that orangey flavour but if you don’t have that, it’s just as easy to add the zest to the butter to make orange butter cream

Orange buttercream icing

  • 100g butter softened
  • 150g icing sugar
  • Zest of two oranges
  • 3-4 tbsps of orange juice

Method

  • Beat the butter till it’s light and fluffy – much easier to use an electric or stand mixer for this
  • Add the orange zest and icing sugar and combine
  • Slowly add the orange juice a spoonful at a time until you have a consistency you’re happy with

If you’re better at icing than me, this may look good piped – at this point I was running out of time and flustered at the state of the cake so I simply used the dump and spread method.

Despite appearances, this cake tasted much better than I thought it would so do give it a go – and if you’re cleverer than me, please explain why it looked like a poop? Thanks awfully!