Exam season has hit Cambridge. Even those of us who haven’t got exams can feel up in the air, or is that just the dismal weather. Remember back in April when the sun was shining? No me neither, we do live in England after all. Not only is the atmosphere pretty grim, but extra curricular and social activities have dropped to virtually nothing. Other than a housemate trip to the very English ‘Cambridge Beer Festival’ things are pretty quiet. Im aware I am making myself incredibly unpopular to those with exams by keeping myself busy with Sudoku puzzles and the like, so I thought I would cheer them up by making a cake. As it is a cake for the choir, it is of course Gluten and Dairy Free for the Gluten and Dairy Free boy. I also thought it would be a bit more fun if I made it in the shape of book, specifically the book that is pretty much the foundation of knowledge for any music student. That way the music students can get a kick out of literally devouring their revision.
600g ground almonds
100g cocoa powder
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp baking powder
2tsp vanilla extract
Large pinch of sea salt
3 egg whites
- Preheat the oven to Fan 180*c and line a 20cmx15cm baking tray.
Whisk the egg, sugar, vanilla, honey and salt together. Meanwhile combine all the remaining dry ingredients. Mix the two bowls together and add water to thin the mixture a little.
Cook for 15-20mins in two batches, until set and a spatula comes out clean.
Meanwhile make the marshmallow icing. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Meanwhile heat the sugar with a splash if water until it becomes a clear, bubbling liquid. Pour into the egg whites whilst still whisking. When all the syrup is combined, keep whisking for 4-5mins. Spread or pipe onto the cake, using some to sandwich the cake and some to ice the cake.
NB If you want to recreate the book, use ready to roll icing and roll between to sheets of grease proof paper to get a thin sheet without sticking to the rolling pin.
What with the launch of the Gonville and Cauis CD of Brazilian music, I got rather nostalgic today for my 2 weeks in Brazil last year and turned back to The Comedy Agent’s Birthday present to me from last year; a book of Brazilan recipes.
Cabana:The Cookbook is not just a recipe fountain but also contains essential guides for life such as ‘how to dance the samba’,
‘how to recognise Brazilian fruit’ (something that would’ve come in useful while in the fruit markets in São Paolo), and of course the vital ‘how to make a perfect Caipirinha’. (I’m still not sure I’m pronouncing it properly, for reference: How to say Caipirinha.)
it is full of wonderful recipes such as: Crazy lady cake (a rich dark chocolate sponge), the addictive Pao de Queijo, and one of my favourite recipes that I am constantly doing variations of, Fejioda, or Black bean stew. Of course being me, I decided to ignore all these recipes and instead take inspiration from all the different flavours. Here is my Banana,Coconut and Lime, boozy sponge with Avocado-Chocolate ganache. As usual, a normal version of this is not enough of a challenge, so this is my healthy, dairy and gluten free version. (Hopefully proving Dairy and gluten free isn’t all expensive, hard to source ingredients)
100g coconut flakes
1tsp vanilla extract
170g caster sugar
75ml cachaca (or rum if none available)
pinch sea salt
1 large avocado
1tbsp cocoa powder
2 pinches of salt
200g icing sugar
1tbsp cocoa powder
- For the coconut flour, Soak the coconut flakes in 25ml hot water for 4hrs. Blend in a blender, drain well, lay out the flakes on a baking tray and dry for either 3hrs at 170°C or overnight with the light on in the oven. Blend in the food processor to a fine powder.
Mix the ingredients for the cake in a food processor. Spoon into a lined cake tin and bake for 30mins at fan 160°C until browned. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, Heat the syrup ingredients together till sugar is dissolved and syrup has thickened slightly. Pour over cake. 4. Leave cake to cool COMPLETELY. Make the ganache. Blend the ganache ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Spread onto the cooled cake.
To finish. Make a glace icing by mixing the coca powder and icing sugar with 2-3tsp of water to a very thick icing (nb mix well before adding more water).
Spoon into a piping bag and decorate!
NB As you may have noticed in this post, I’ve learned how to use links in my blog, onwards and upwards…
The Accidental Brownies
On the last day of Croatia I was in using up mode. I saw eggs, chocolate and what I thought was flour and immediately thought of brownies. (Plus I had been told off earlier that day by one of the boys for not providing enough between meal snacks – you would have thought with all that food….-) I also saw some mascarpone so decided to add them in too. I melted chocolate, a little salt and butter together in a pan. Meanwhile I whisked the eggs with sugar and added in vanilla and the mascarpone. I mixed this into the chocolate mix. At this point I realised that the flour was not actually flour, but cornflour. I debated throwing the whole mixture away but decided it was a waste of perfectly good ingredients. So instead I added the cornflour tentatively. I was so nervous that I only cooked the brownies for 15mins at 140oC before checking every 5mins to see if they were done. 10mins later they passed my test and I took them out and let them harden up.
They were a surprise success, more morish even than Nigella’s brownies (the recipe I would usually swear by). They proved useful again when my sister was baking for a gluten intolerant friend; I had accidentally invented my own recipe for the perfect snack for her.