Sunday, 30 October 2011

Halloween skull and bat cookies with cardamon

I know I know, this is fairly late now for a Halloween post but I have been so busy working on our costumes for this weekends party. And what a fun it was. So here's my slightly belated post:


750g flour
1 tsp baking powder
225g unsalted butter, softened
125g sugar
1 tsp salt
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp cardamon
2 eggs
royal icing sugar mix
black food colouring

Cream the butter until pale with an electric mixer. Add the sugar, salt, cardamon and lemon zest and beat some more. Add the eggs and lemon juice and beat until uniform and fluffy. Sift the flour and baking powder and slowly add to the mixture. Wrap dough in cling film and place in the fridge for about an hour. In the meantime cut your cookie shapes out of cardboard. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Roll out the dough to 3mm thick on a lightly floured surface. Using the stencil cut out the cookies with a knife. Before baking place in the fridge for 10 min to avoid shrinking and so they will hold shape better. Bake for about 8-10 minutes. Cool and decorate wit royal icing. The recipe makes about 50-60 cookies.

Chocolate and beetroot cake with popping candy buttercream

I used to love popping candy when I was a kid and there's no reason why we can't use it in a more adult version of a dessert. I added it in the purple buttercream between the sponge layers and it adds a bit of fun to this Halloween cake. The beetroot is great as it makes the sponge very moist and the colour is an extra plus. Don't be put off by the intense black colour of the icing. You won't taste it and it won't leave your teeth stained. To get this colour I had to use up almost half a bottle of black food colouring... Black food always has something fascinating, right? Not quite natural so absolutely perfect for Halloween!


For the beetroot sponge
250 grams self-raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
100ml vegetable oil
300g sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar
2 eggs
100ml milk
2 tbs yoghurt
100g beetroot purée

For the spicy chocolate sponge
125 grams self-raising flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
50ml vegetable oil
150g brown sugar
1/2 tsp allspice
1 eggs
50ml milk
1 tbs yoghurt

rum to brush the sponge cakes with
200g unsalted butter
400g icing sugar
black food colouring
purple food colouring
2 packs popping candy
pomegranate seeds

Preheat the oven to 175°C and grease two baking tins of the same size. With a hand mixer beat the oil, sugar and vanilla sugar for a couple of minutes. Add the eggs and beat until fluffy. Sift the flour and cocoa and slowly beat in, alternating with the milk and yoghurt mix. At last add the beetroot and fold in. Divide in two and pour into the baking tins. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Take out of the tins and cool on a rack. In the meantime prepare the second batch according to the same instructions, bake and cool as well. Brush one side of the sponges with some rum. Now leave the sponges in the fridge to chill so it will be easier to apply icing later.
To make the icing beat the butter until pale and fluffy and slowly add the sifted icing sugar. Beat some more until uniform. Divide in two batches and colour with the liquid food colouring and add the popping candy to the purple batch. Spread the purple icing between the three sponges and use half of the black on the outside. Chill again for another hour and then apply the rest of the black butter cream evenly. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Pumpkin and black sesame ice cream cake

I have a Halloween dinner coming up this week and the colour theme is orange and black. Not very creative there but then it depends on what you do with it. For dessert I was thinking of pumpkin and black sesame so I created this layered ice cream cake on a black sesame and olive oil sponge base. There is another ice cream layer with black sesame and two layers of spiced pumpkin ice cream. You could make double the quantity of my recipe so you get two evenly coloured pumpkin ice cream layers but my ice cream maker is small so I had to do two batches and they turned out slightly different in colour and ever so slightly in flavour. I used a different coconut milk with less coconut content for one and that may have caused it. Oh, and before I forget it, the ice cream is dairy free. Might come in handy if like me you have a friend who is lactose intolerant.


For the sesame sponge base:
2 eggs
4 tbsp black sesame seeds
6 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
40ml water
40ml olive oil

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Beat the eggs and 3 tbsp of sugar until aerated and fluffy. In a pestle and mortar grind the remaining 3 tbsp of sugar and the black sesame seeds. Add to the egg mixture. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in gently without loosing too much air. Add water and olive oil and pour into a small baking tray and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.

For the pumpkin ice cream:
(enough for 2 layers):
600g roasted pumpkin
knob of ginger
1 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
zest of 1 orange
pinch of salt
500ml or 2 cans of coconut milk
200g caster sugar

Peel the pumpkin and roast the slices in the oven for about 40 minutes at 175°C. Keep them covered with foil so they don't brown but get soft. When cooled down blend the pumpkin with the ginger, orange peel and spices to a fine puree. Add the spices, caster sugar and coconut milk. Pour in an ice cream machine and make according to instructions. Divide up in two portions for the two layers.

For the black sesame ice cream:
300ml coconut milk
6-8 tbsp black sesame seeds
100g caster sugar

In a pestle and mortar grind the sesame seeds to a fine powder. Mix the ingredients and pour in the ice cream machine and make according to instructions.

To assemble the cake:
Line a cake tin with cling film and spread half of the pumpkin ice to create the first layer. Put in the freezer to set. Now add the black sesame ice cream and place in the freezer again before spreading the second layer of pumpkin ice cream. Cut the sponge to fit and cover the ice cream with it. Pop back in the freezer. Take out ten minutes before serving. Take out of the tin and remove the cling film. Cut into slices and serve. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Happy Thanksgiving and a pumpkin pie

Thanks Giving is not a public holiday here in Britain but I used to celebrate it in Canada and I like the idea of celebrating harvest and the end of the season. Pumpkin pie is probably not only my favourite and I have given this classic a new appearance this year. From leftovers of my pastry I cut some leaves which I egg washed and added as decoration on top of the pie.


sweet pastry base
500g pumpkin, peeled and cubed
2 tbs rum
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
125ml single cream
1 egg
100g sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Peel and cube the pumpkin and place on a baking tray. Cover with foil and leave in the oven for 40 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. Blind bake the sweet pastry and prepare the filling by processing the pumpkin and the spices. Add the egg, sugar and cream and pour into the baked pastry shell. Cut leaves from the remaining sweet pastry. To egg wash mix one egg yolk with a dash of water and a pinch of salt and brush on the rim of the pastry and the leaves. Bake for about an hour at 170°C until set. Rotate the cake after half an hour so it bakes evenly.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Colour lovers: Berrylicious

Delicious and rich colours from pinkish reds to purple to blue, from light to dark and warm to cold. This makes for a strong contrast and is nevertheless a harmonious palette.
Natural plant pigments localized in the skin and seeds of the fruit give berries their colour. Most of these pigments are antioxidants and berries are therefor sometimes classified as 'superfood'. Check out the palette at colourlovers

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Though it starts End of September Octoberfest is good fun and now available even in London.
Octoberfest actually starts in September in Munich but it's so much fun we now have our own humble little version in London.

Pink peppercorn decoration

I love the pink colour of these peppercorns. They make great decoration. You could add to a bouquet, draped around a wreath or dress a candle like I did. Simple but effective.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Yoghurt ice cream variations

The weather this week came like a surprise: heatwave in autumnal London with temperatures reaching 29°C and marking a record high for October in this country. What better way to celebrate this than with homemade ice cream. Since I have a new little helper in the shape of an ice cream machine my life is made so easy. Mix your ingredients together and pour into the chilled bowl, 20 minutes later you have a perfectly smooth ice cream thanks to it being constantly churned. I love it! The ice cream maker was a gift for my birthday but I had always wanted one, since I was a kid. Not sure why I never got one myself but it may be because I didn't think I could justify it using up precious space in my tiny kitchen cupboards or maybe because it felt too much of an indulgence. Anyway, I am glad I have one now and have been busy making all sorts of ice cream since then.
As I like keeping things simple I have tried variations of yoghurt based ice cream. It is very low in fat so even healthy. For a dessert. The other variation I tried is with coconut milk and that worked very well too. I added toasted coconut flakes for some extra texture. Very nice. And the other variation I tried was a salted pistachio ice cream. If you like salted caramel this one could be for you.


500g yoghurt
100g caster sugar
150ml blackberry juice

Mix all the ingredients together and place in the ice cream maker for about 20 minutes or according to instructions for your machine. If doing by hand place the mixture in the freezer and take out about every half an hour and churn by hand and place in the freezer again and repeat the process until frozen.


400ml coconut milk
100g yoghurt
handful desiccated coconut

Gently toast the desiccated coconut in a hot pan or under the grill in your oven until slightly brown. Let cool down and add to the coconut milk. Mix all the ingredients together and place in the ice cream maker for about 20 minutes or according to instructions for your machine. If doing by hand place the mixture in the freezer and take out about every half an hour and churn by hand and place in the freezer again and repeat the process until frozen.


250ml cream
250g yoghurt
150g salted pistachios
100g caster sugar

In a pestle and mortar crush the pistachios finely. Mix the cream, yoghurt, sugar and add the pistachios. Place in the ice cream maker for about 20 minutes or according to instructions for your machine. If doing by hand place the mixture in the freezer and take out about every half an hour and churn by hand and place in the freezer again and repeat the process until frozen.