Monday, 17 April 2017

Polish Babka

Polish fruity babka with lemon icing for Easter

Here's a cake/bread I made for Easter :) Babka is a traditional Polish bread served at Easter time, and there are so many varieties, it was difficult to find a consistent recipe. I finally found one I liked however, and it turned out pretty yummy :) This babka is like a fruity sweet bread, topped with lemon icing. It reminds me a little of hot cross buns in taste and texture, and makes a nice centrepiece to an afternoon tea.
I used a 23cm circular bundt tin, like the one pictured below:


The bread/cake was really easy to prepare, and it requires NO kneading :) Just make sure to give plenty of time for the dough to rise. If you have time, for the best flavour, cover the dough in clingfilm and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, bring the dough to room temperature for around an hour, before baking. As a minimum, leave the dough to prove for 2 hours.

Makes one 23cm cake (easily serves 12)

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 500g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 sachets instant dried yeast (7g)
  • 90g (1/3 cups) granulated sugar
  • 90g (1/3 cup) softened unsalted butter
  • 120ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • 150g (1/2 cup) mixed dried fruits (I used raisins, sultanas and mixed candied peel)
  • 1 lemon, zested finely
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice

For the icing:

  • 175g (2/3 cup) icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • yellow food colouring (I used Wilton concentrated food gel)

Method:

1. In a large mixing bowl, pour in the flour. To opposite sides of the bowl add the yeast and the salt (so that they do not touch). Briefly stir the flour mixture to evenly distribute the salt and yeast.

2. Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter has melted and the milk is bubbling. Set aside to cool to a tepid temperature (when it feels warm to your finger rather than hot).

3. To the flour, add the sugar, lemon zest, eggs, vanilla and other spices. Slowly add the milk/butter and beat with a wooden spoon until a dough is formed (there is no need to knead the dough). 

4. Lightly grease a bundt tin, and tip in the dough (it wants to be about 1/3 full). Cover with cling film, and set aside for at least 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.

5. Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan)/350f/ gas mark 4. Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the bread comes out clean. If the bread browns too quickly, cover with foil to finish baking.

6. To make the icing, sift the sugar into a bowl and add the lemon juice. Stir until all of the sugar has been absorbed - you want the icing to be bright white and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and slowly drop of the spoon.

7. Set aside a few tablespoons of icing, and colour yellow.

8. Once cool, turn the cake out onto the presentation dish. Spread the white icing over the top of the cake, allowing it to slightly drip down the sides of the cake.

9. Pour the yellow icing into a piping bag. Pipe thin yellow lines over the cake. Wait for the icing to set.

10. Enjoy!

This bread is nicest eaten the day it's baked, or it can be frozen before icing.

Polish fruity babka with lemon icing for Easter

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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Ultimate Birthday Cheesecake

stacked kahlua cointreau chocolate cheesecake oreo

stacked kahlua cointreau chocolate cheesecake oreo slice

Hi everyone!! Life has been too painful for the last few weeks in the lead up to the marathon, so I have been lazy with blogging :( But now the marathon is over WOOHOO, and I can get back to writing!

Last week, as well as being the last week before the dreaded M day, it was my partner's 30th birthday. He LOVES cheesecake, and I mean LOVES it, so I thought I'd have a go at making a cheesecake that was a bit more special than usual.

Baked cheesecakes stack surprisingly well, so I decided on making a two layered cheesecake, one half was dark chocolate and kahlua (one of his favourite spirits) and the other was white chocolate and cointreau (because cointreau is amazing). 

I smothered the cheesecake layers with a milk chocolate cream cheese frosting, and patted on crushed oreos for the textured look. Finally I topped the cake off with a chocolate slab, and a white chocolate slab (designed to look like the lego logo, but I don't know how well that came through...)

We love the cheesecake, but I would say it's a great cake for MANY people to enjoy - this could very easily serve and fill 20 people. It's lasting really well though - we've had it in the fridge 6 days so far, and it is still in great condition, even after being cut into.

So if you know someone who likes cheesecake, this really wasn't that hard a recipe, and the taste was worth any effort spent making it :)

Also if you'd like a non-alcoholic version, you can replace the kahlua with espresso coffee, and the cointreau with orange juice.

Serves 20

Ingredients:

For the Kahlua cheesecake:

  • 200g (2 cups) chocolate covered hobnobs, crushed
  • 50g (1/4 cup) butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 225g (1 & 1/2 cups) dark chocolate
  • 400g (2 cups) cream cheese
  • 100g (1/2 cup and 1/2 tbsp) soft brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 300ml (1 & 1/4 cups) double cream
  • 5 tbsp Kahlua (or espresso coffee/strong instant coffee)

For the Cointreau cheesecake:

  • 200g (2 cups) digestives (or you could use more hobnobs), crushed
  • 50g (1/4 cup) butter melted
  • Finely grated zest of one orange
  • 400g (2 cups) cream cheese
  • 450g (3 cups) white chocolate
  • 300ml (1 & 1/4 cups) double cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tbsp Cointreau (or orange juice)

For the frosting:

  • 200g (1 cup) cream cheese
  • 50g (1/3 cup) milk chocolate, melted

To finish:

  • 100g Oreos, crushed (1 cup)
  • 75g (1/2 cup) milk chocolate
  • 75g (1/2 cup) white chocolate
  • pink concentrated gel food colouring (or red if you have it)
  • 4 straws (or cake dowels)
  • 1 digestive biscuit
  • Edible silver food colouring paintbrush/pen (optional)

Method:

For the Kahlua cheesecake:

1. Preheat the oven to 160c (140c fan)/ f/ gas mark 4. Lightly grease the base and sides of a 23cm springform cake tin.

2. Pour the finely crushed hobnobs into a bowl and stir in the cinnamon. Pour over the melted butter, and stir until the biscuit crumbs are starting to stick together. Pour into the prepared tin and use the back of a spoon to press the biscuits on the base and halfway up the sides of the tin. 

3. Bake for 10 minutes, then take out of the oven to cool.

4. Melt the dark chocolate by placing in a microwave on full power for 20 second bursts, stirring well after each addition. Once all of the chocolate has melted set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

5. Beat the cream cheese with the sugar. Once all of the sugar has dissolved, whisk in the eggs one at a time.

6. Add the melted chocolate, double cream and Kahlua, and whisk until smooth.

7. Pour into the prepared cake tin, and bake for around 1 hour, until only the middle of the cheesecake wobbles when the tin is lightly shaken. 

8. Take the cheesecake out of the oven, and run a knife around the cheesecake - this helps to prevent any cracking when the cheesecake cools. Leave to cool to room temperature, then chill for at least 2 hours.

For the Cointreau Cheesecake:

1. Preheat the oven to 160c (140c fan)/ f/ gas mark 4. Lightly grease the base and sides of a 23cm springform cake tin.


2. Pour the finely crushed digestive biscuits into a bowl and add the grated orange zest and melted butter. Stir until the butter has mixed well with the biscuits, then tip into the prepared cake tin. Press the biscuits down into the base and halfway up the sides of the cake tin.

3. Bake the base of the cheesecake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven to cool.

4. Melt the chocolate and double cream in a saucepan on a low heat. Stir the chocolate/cream regularly to be sure that it doesn't overheat. Once all of the chocolate has melted, set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

5. Pour the cream cheese into a medium mixing bowl and whisk in the eggs one at a time. Pour over the white chocolate/cream mixture and cointreau, and whisk until smooth.

6. Pour into the prepared cake tin, and bake for 1 hour until only the middle of the cheesecake moves when the cheesecake is lightly shaken.

7. Take out of the oven and immediately run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to help prevent cracking. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge for at least two hours until chilled.

To assemble:

1. Beat the cream cheese with the melted chocolate until smooth.

2. Take both cheesecakes out of the fridge and remove from their tins. Place the first cheesecake on a cake board (I used the white chocolate cheesecake on the bottom, but either way round will work fine). 

3. Place 4 straws in the bottom cheesecake so that they are the corners of a 5cm square in the middle of the cheesecake. Trim the straws so that they just poke out of the top of the cheesecake - these act as stabilisers for the cake.

4. Place the second cheesecake on top of the first. Spread the chocolate cheese frosting over the top and sides of the cake.

6. Pat the crushed Oreos all over the stacked cheesecake and place in the fridge to set for an hour.

7. Melt 75g milk chocolate in a microwave on high power, for 15 second bursts, stirring well after each burst. Once fully melted leave to cool for a few minutes to thicken slightly.

8. Cover a tray with cling film, and pour on the milk chocolate. Spread the chocolate thinly to the rough shape of a 20cm square. This will be the "plaque" for the cake. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes, until set.

9. Repeat with the white chocolate - I made a much smaller rectangle of this, and coloured half of it pink (by dipping a cocktail stick into the pink food colouring and mixing this into the melted white chocolate). After spreading out the pink chocolate, place the white chocolate in a piping bag. Place the pink chocolate in the freezer for a few minutes until set. Cut the end off the piping bag (cut 2-3mm from the end), and pipe whatever you like onto the pink chocolate. 

10. I used an edible silver glitter pen to mark up the milk chocolate plaque, but to be honest, the white chocolate works better, so you can pipe the remainder of the white chocolate onto the set milk chocolate.

11. Trim the milk and white chocolate slabs to even rectangles, and place on the cake. I used a spare digestive biscuit to prop up the plaque, which my boyfriend liked :) 

12. Enjoy!!!

stacked kahlua cointreau chocolate cheesecake oreo slice


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