Thursday, 19 February 2015

Poached Pear's Ginger Cake

I still find myself constantly debating an age-old question; What is my favourite cake? I think I've settled on, this cannot be answered, for, I love all the cake (how poetic). I can certainly pick out the ones I'll always be drawn too - banana cakes, ginger cakes, pineapple cakes, I suppose I'm more of a changeable seasonal cake lover, summer, I want fruit, winter, I want spice. Nothing beats a classic ginger cake lets face it. They're warming and just like a cake-hug, and who doesn't love a cake hug right? 

So if you're looking for the super tasty warming cake to get you through the last stint of winter, this is the one! Poached pear have literally become my favourite thing - I don't know if you've noticed.....but this works! Ah this works so well! The pears, they're moist, they're juciy, they're little pockets of happiness given an extra va-va-voom with some ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg to get those taste-buds going!

Poached Pear's Ginger Cake
Poached Pears
3 pears, peeled
800ml water - or enough to cover the pears
200g sugar
2tbsp orange juice
1 cinnamon stick

Ginger Cake
Made in a 2lb loaf tin & adapted from Delia Smith
I like to go heavy on the ginger but decrease/increase as needed
175g plain flour
75g brown sugar
75g unsalted butter
75g black treacle
75g golden syrup
75ml water
2 1/2 tbsp ginger
1 1/2tsp cinnamon
1tsp nutmeg
2tbsp milk
1/2tsp bi-carbonate of soda
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Poached Pears
1. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan - have enough water so that the pears are totally submerged - they'll float so just jig them around every so often. 
2. Bring to a boil and stir gently to help the sugar dissolve and then reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. You don't want the pears to disintergrate so you may need to vary then time you simmer going on how ripe they are, if they're super soft, simmer for a shorter amount of time and then allow them to cool in the juices.
3. When they're firm and not soggy, remove the pan from the heat. Remove the pears and allow them too cool before whipping them into the batter. Just dab them down with some kitchen roll when ready to go in the batter

Ginger Cake
4. Preheat the oven to 170C/gas 3 and either line or lightly grease a non-stick 2lb loaf tin
5. In a bowl sift together the flour and spices. In a jug or cup, mix the milk and bicarb together
6. In a saucepan melt and blend together the sugar, treacle, golden syrup, water and butter. This only needs to be one unified mix, not boiled!
7. Add the warm syrup mix into the flour and spices and beat together - serious elbow grease needed
8. When it's coming together and smooth, add the lightly beaten egg gradually and continue to beat and then start to add the milk and bicarb mix
9. When you've got a nice smooth texture pour the batter into a loaf tin and then take the pears and gently press them into the batter. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 to 1 hour 30, checking that its well risen and firm to touch. Allow to cool before moving onto a wire rack to cool

The pears add a delicious moisture to this cake so you don't need to accompany it with anything, but if you do want something, so simple vanilla ice cream would go a treat with this desert -cake!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Almond Cookies

These biscuits really are something else! The texture, the spice, the melting, they're super tasty and even better they literally take 10 minutes to whip up, a short bake and they're good to go. Perfect. Literally perfect. Super chewy texture just makes them so scrummy, the kind of cookie you could accidentally eat a whole load of!

So I can't believe we're already a full month into the new year! Time is just whizzing on and how exciting! But one thing I cannot wait for, is some warmth, I'm already eagerly awaiting the longer, brighter nights, the warm evenings, the picnics, the long walks! Aaaah, I should stop getting ahead of myself, it actually snowed down South to, we've got a long way to go before any of that warmer weather! Don't get me wrong, I do love winter, but I love it in the mountains, and the rain, that's not for me at all!

So, though the weather might be a little cold and dreary, these little cookies are warming and just like an edible hug, and well, who wouldn't love one of those right?! So, get making and baking!

Almond Cookies

200g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
40g stem ginger, drained, finely chopped
2 egg whites
zest of 1 orange
1/2tsp ginger
2tbsp plain flour
12 glacé cherries

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F/gas 4 and line a baking sheet with baking paper. You may want to make these in two batches as they'll spread a little, so perhaps two baking sheets if you have them will do.
2. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks
3. In another bowl mix together the ground almonds, orange zest, half the ground ginger and then the stem ginger
4. Fold in the egg whites to the dry mix to form a sticky dough
5. Roll the dough and split it into 12 balls as evenly sized as possible
6. In a small bowl take the plain flour and rest of the ground ginger and then lightly coat each dough ball and then shake of the excess
7. Put the balls well space apart on a baking sheet and then flatten each a little and then place a cherry into the middle
8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden. Once done, cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Raspberry & Pistachio Financiers

I adore patisserie and it's something I have a huge growing interest for, it's just all so stunning. Without fail I see those beautiful little treats in a shop window and I'm there, ooo-ing and aaa-ing, thinking, jeez I wish I could do that, and then devour them all. So this year I've decided is patisserie year, obviously! 2015, year of the patisserie! And I'm super excited to learn more about such a beautiful style of baking and I'm excited to share it with you and learn from you all too!

 I've got a lot of plans for FentonEats this year, the main will be actually posting more frequently than once a month! There's a serious backlog of delicious bakes to get out there! So as well as patisserie, I reckon this years challenge is to work on my savoury food, everyone knows how much I adore anything sweet but there's certainly a gap for the savoury world and it's time to tackle it!! Especially bread, oh the dark art of bread, how terrifying! Bread tends to be Richards domain in this household and cake is mine, but time to shake it up and get over the bread fear!

So cheers to the New Year! And I hope its one filled with new experiences and adventures! There's so many things I want to try and get involved in and I'm so excited about this year and just being. This year is all about being, just taking it all in and living, being a free spirit! A free spirit who eats all the cake that is.

Raspberry & Pistachio Financiers
A variation on Will Torrent's Financiers from a book I'd highly recommend - Patisserie at Home
I've used a mini-loaf pan from Lakeland for these, however these are readily easy to source over the internet too!
Recipe makes roughly 6-8 depending on the mini loaf size

40g plain flour, sifted
60g unsalted butter
30g frozen raspberries (about a handful)
30g pistachios
45g (3tbsp) ground almonds 
110g icing sugar, sifted
2 egg whites
2tsp runny honey
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp baking powder

juice of half a lemon
50g icing sugar
pistachios chopped - about 10 chopped up should be sufficient

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3 and lightly butter the pan
2. Start by making a beurre noisette - melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and continue until it reaches a golden brown colour and stops sizzling. This will take about 3-4 minutes, you're separating out the butterfat and milk solids, the initial sizzling is the milk solids separating which fall to the bottom of the pan and then start browning, this gives of a lovely nutty aroma to the butter. Once you're happy, add the vanilla and remove from the heat
3. In a blender/food processor add the icing sugar, pistachios, ground almonds, plain flour and baking powder and grind until you've got a fine textured mixture. Transfer to a mixing bowl
4. In another bowl, take the egg whites and honey and whisk with an electric mixer until soft peaks have formed to make a meringue
5. Fold the meringue into the bowl of dry ingredients and then fold in the beurre noisette
6. Divide the mixture into the loaf tins about 2/3 full, they'll rise so you don't want to over fill. Then take some of the raspberries and press them lightly onto the mixture.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, allow to cool in the tin for a short while before removing onto a wire rack

8. Whisk together the lemon juice and icing sugar and then spread over the financiers - I used a silicon brush. Then sprinkle on the chopped pistachios