Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Cherry Chocolate Fondants

Remember when all it took to win a television cookery show such as MasterChef was an unburnt scallop, a thin slice of black pudding and a decadent chocolate fondant? The glory days of twitter hashtags such as #ScallopWatch and 5 million viewers watching with bated breath to see if the centre of a fondant was appropriately, gloriously, gooey?

For the last five years, every time I've made a chocolate fondant I've envisaged a miniature Gregg Wallace on my shoulder simultaneously licking his lips while jovially repeating the one line he will forever be associated with: 'Cooking doesn't get tougher than this'. I've laid siege at the oven door, crossing fingers, toes and spatulas for a soft, molten middle and a risen sponge. I've wanted to play a recording of the sweaty-palm, racing-heart MasterChef Countdown music as I serve the puds (erm.... in my defence, Monday nights can be quite slow around these parts). 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Raspberry and Yogurt Loaf Cake

Raspberries are having the year of their lives. If they were sprinters, they'd be gloriously winning the Olympics in world record breaking time. 

If they were musicians, they'd be celebrating Grammy award winning albums, platinum record sales and Chris Martin would be forced into spending his time touring burger joints rather than international stadiums with Coldplay. 

If they were authors, JK Rowling's book sales would be left in tatters and the Harry Potter theme park, hit by downward spiralling attendances, would be torn down in favour of 'Raspberry World'*. 

*Think M&M World, Leicester Square but pinker and more squishy. 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough No Churn Ice Cream

Despite writing a blog that is, quite frankly, sweeter than the inner most depths of a Haribo factory, I've yet to include an ice cream recipe. Partly I've been discouraged as we don't own a one of those unwieldy ice cream maker-machines, partly because we've only the teeniest of freezers and mostly because the corner shop five minutes away has yet to run out of Twisters.

But then I read loads of great no-churn ice cream recipes, it got to hot to switch the oven on and we ate loads of frozen peas one night, freeing the teeny freezer for sweeter stuff.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Konditor and Cook Cake School Review

There is probably only one cake in the entire world that has been seen by an estimated 125 million television viewers. The Curly Whirly Cake from Konditor and Cook was arguably the standout star at the Eurovision Song Contest 2014. But then of course a decadent dark chocolate sponge cake enveloped creamy vanilla frosting would be the leading light:

Image courtesy of Konditor and Cook

And one evening last week I popped along to the Konditor and Cook Cake School to learn all about the infamous Curly Whirly Cake. I'd been invited to the Introduction to Cake Decorating class, a two hour class packed full of brilliant tips and tricks to decorate biscuits and cakes, including the Curly Whirly. 

We headed behind the scenes at the Borough Market branch, through a door marked 'Cake School', the confectionery equivalent of walking through the wardrobe in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Our fantasy land beyond held tempting trays of Konditor and Cook nibbles. I for one tucked into with an alarming greed and gusto; apologies to my fellow course mates who probably did not have the chance to sample the bite sized brownies, delicate Parmesan shortbreads and the perfectly layered noisette sponge cake.

After we I had devoured the welcome snacks, Zera, Head Decorator at the branch, ably assisted by her colleague Alex began the class with an instruction to make a dozen mini parchment piping bags each. I'm not the most dexterous person at the best of times; this was like entering the world's most complex origami competition. But under Zera's expert and infinitely patient tutelage within a few minutes we'd all produced our piping bags:


Once they were filled with a variety of bright Royal icings, Zera demonstrated how to write and pipe the icing. It was just as well my first efforts were on a practice board. My writing was so wobbly it was as though I'd spent the previous two hours in the local pub hell bent on devouring their entire gin supply.

My wavy, childlike writing soon filled the board and it was time to progress to decorating biscuits. We were enthusiastically encouraged to decorate self-portraits and the faces of loved ones. Mine looked like the love child of Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart whilst my husband questioned his new orange beard when I presented him with his portrait later that evening:

(I'd like to confirm the biscuits were utterly delicious and my husband doesn't look anything like his biscuit portait.)

And then, then it was time to bring out the big gun: the undecorated Curly Whirly Cake. We all stood utterly transfixed by the gloriously perfect, naked cake, initially not daring to tarnish the smooth silky icing with wobbly lines and uneven decorating:


Eventually, inspired by Wimbledon I plumped for a strawberry decoration. I reasoned this was possibly more achievable that an iced image of Andy Murray Roger Federer fist-pumping his way to the final of the tennis. With Zera's invaluable assistance, this was my creation:

The class was incredibly enjoyable, relaxed, and taught with huge enthusiasm and warmth. The skills and tips are eminently transferable to the home kitchen ... just as soon as I figure out how to make the piping bags without Zera's close supervision and reassurance! 

If you’d like to visit Konditor & Cook there are four branches dotted across central London:

Waterloo – 22 Cornwall Road, SE1 8TW
Borough Market – 10 Stoney Street, SE1 9AD
Holborn – 46 Grays Inn Road, WC1X 8LR
The Gherkin – 30 St Mary Axe, EC3A 8BF

And a full list of their brilliant Cake School classes can be found right here.

PS: They've an awesome range of July 4th American Magic Cakes to celebrate today's Independence Day in store right now:

Image courtesy of Konditor and Cook

With many thanks to Konditor and Cook for inviting me along to the class and Cake School.