Saturday, 22 October 2011

Currant-ly yum!

This is a special 'A Very Hummingbird Year' blog entry, as it's also an entry to the lovely The Pink Whisk's October Challenge. You can find all the details, plus lots more, here - The Pink Whisk

The October Challenge involves providing a recipe, method and photo of an apple recipe. Of course, when I saw the challenge, where else was I going to look but the pink Hummingbird bible?

I chose the truly scrumptious Apple and Currant Crumble Bars - surely at least two of my five a day? Here's the Hummingbird Cake Days recipe:

200g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
200g unsalted butter
250g soft light brown sugar
120g rolled oats
300g eating apples - recipe specifies Granny Smith, but I think it works with any!
4tbsp cornflour
3tsp cinnamon
1tsp nutmeg
1tsp ginger
175g currants - other dry fruits could well work too!

And here's what you do:

Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a tray with baking paper - a medium size roasting tin is perfect.
Sieve flour, salt and baking powder, then rub butter in with fingers until you get a crumble texture, stir in the sugar and oats, then put half into your tray and push down for the base.
Peel and slice apples, then toss them in the cornflour and spice mix. (I didn't have nutmeg so added an extra splodge (technical term) of cinnamon.)
Lay apples on the base in the tray, then sprinkle with currants, followed by remaining crumble mix.
Bake for around 35 minutes, until the crumble is golden.
Cool entirely in the tray. Slice. Serve!

I couldn't wait for the it to cool and had to dig into one corner with a spoon as soon as it was cooled enough to not take a layer of skin off the roof of my mouth!

While this recipe appley (geddit?) works as a snack bar, I also think it would be perfect as an after-dinner treat with a vat of custard. Now there's a thought... who's making the custard!?

Monday, 17 October 2011

Nutty upon nutty

As you all know, cheesecake is one of my favourite things. If I'm being honest it's mainly for the buttery biscuit base (have you ever had a chocolate cheesecake base? Oh em gee), but the sweet creamy topping is pretty awesome too! And, of course, the selection of toppings and fillings you can incorporate just add to the glorious cheesecake experience.

But pecan and butterscotch was new to me. In fact, butterscotch is something I have never worked with. But why?! It's perfect... especially to sweeten up a cheesecake!

Firstly, I did adapt this recipe ever so slightly. I didn't have quite enough pecans, but did have a little pouch of leftover walnuts, so I added these to the mix.

A quick whip (oo-er!) and a mix, and the cheesecake was ready for the oven. I was running low on patience on the day I baked this, so decided not to risk wrapping the tin and placing it in another tin filled with water... hence I ended up with a big crack through my finished cheesecake!

But, in hindsight, this wasn't such a terrible thing as it gave me a nice canyon of butterscotch through the middle of the cake when I poured the topping on. Winner!!

My pecans don't look particularly neat as they started "swimming" across the butterscotch... I think maybe the trick is to make it a little thicker than I did, or allow it to set a bit before placing the pecans. 

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Honey, I'm home!

You can't beat (beat, like eggs, geddit?) an unplanned bake. I almost made the Walnut and Honey loaf last week, but with birthday cakes and post-wedding treats to create, I was a little snowed under. I'm so glad I decided to keep myself busy as I was cooking Tuesday night's dinner... no better way of keeping busy in my book!

I think the only thing I've ever baked before with walnuts is a coffee and walnut cake, which I was bullied into baking by the token irishman at work. I don't even like coffee, so didn't get to try any of that one. But this one, with its honey glaze... shiny and yummy, that's all I have to say.

It all starts like a traditional cake - caster sugar, butter, egg, flour. Then the twist comes with the honey and walnuts... they're a match made in heaven. Unfortunately I didn't have any yogurt, as this recipe needs, but I had some ricotta cheese left over from last week's lemon and poppyseed loaf so I just threw some of that in instead, and it worked. (Phew!)

I'm a huge fan of the Hummingbird loaves - they're so simple but the taste would easily fool people into thinking you've slaved away in the kitchen for hours. I only have three more loaves to go from the pink bible... I think the cinnamon and raisin may have to wait for Christmas, so Pistachio or Cardamom next - both things I've never baked with!

It's all black and white

I'm such a fan of cheesecake. Baked cheesecake, though. Any other kind just isn't right. Nine times out of ten, if I'm in a restaurant and there's cheesecake on the dessert menu, I know what I'm having (though I am also a sucker for a custard pud)!

The Black and White Chocolate Cheesecake from the little pink bible is my idea of heaven. Cheesecake, plus chocolate, in a handy, snack-size bite? Yes please!

I had a little helper making this recipe as my middle niece Megan was sleeping over with Auntie Leanne. She's a little chocoholic, too, so the only problem we could find with this treat was how long we had to wait for it to set in the fridge after baking!!

I think the dish I used for my base was smaller than that recommended, as I had quite a bit of mixture left over. Of course, I had to save some for the black "blobs" on top of the bars, but I managed to make an extra cookie out of it too!

Here's what I ended up with after the first bake...

Good enough to eat already!

The rest of the bake is easy. Cheesecake-making is so simple, I'm sure a monkey could do it... though I'm not sure monkeys like chocolate? They need a banoffee pie...

Bearing in mind my dish was smaller than the one recommended by the Hummingbird, we ended up with slightly thicker than normal bars... but I'm not complaining. Extra thick cheesecake base and topping? Oh yes!!