Monday, July 21, 2014

Passionfruit Magic Custard Cake

This cake has been popping up on baking blogs and Pinterest pages like nobody's business lately. So of course I had to jump on the band wagon and try it. It's not possible for me to be taunted by a magical cake that somehow (i.e. magically) turns one batter into two layers of custard and cake without attempting to make it myself.

And of course the result had to be shared with you. It's a gem. And actually is a little magical. I don't know the science behind it but you literally do end up with two defined layers of custard and cake. It's pretty impressive. 

Given that this is a 'custard' cake, be warned that it is eggy. If you don't like set custard or egg desserts this probably won't be for you. For me, I love them (witness the joy of Clafoutis) so I could happily munch through a few squares of this beauty. Especially doused in extra passionfruit. Is there much better than passionfruit and custard? Yes, there is - it's magical passionfruit custard cake. 

Passionfruit Custard Cake

120g unsalted butter 
4 eggs, separated
1⁄4 tsp white vinegar 

165g icing sugar
1⁄4 cup passionfruit syrup/pulp
Zest of 1 lemon
120g plain flour
2 cups (480ml) whole milk 

Icing sugar for dusting 

Preheat oven to 160°C (320F) and grease an 8-inch square tin (or similar sized rectangular tin). Melt the butter and set aside. In a clean metal bowl beat the egg whites and vinegar until stiff peaks form. In another bowl use a hand whisk to combine the yolks, icing sugar, passionfruit and zest – it will be stiff to start with but will soften up. Whisk in the melted butter. Add the flour, mix, then add the milk and whisk again. The batter will be very wet. Using the whisk, gently fold in the egg whites, a third at a time, stirring until there are no large lumps of egg white remaining. Pour the batter into your tin and bake for 45-55mins. The top will be golden and the centre will wobble a little. Cool for a few hours, dust with icing sugar and cut into squares. Serve with extra passionfruit for a super tangy hit. Store in the fridge. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Caramel Apples. Eat 'em or weep.

Making caramel takes commitment. That statement may (sadly) stop some of you from making it but I know there's someone out there with the determination and chutzpah to make this goodness happen – if that's you, you will be handsomely rewarded! 

Caramel apples are time machines in disguise. Just one bite and you'll understand. The holding of the stick, the awkward angling of the head (and apple) so you can take that first bite, the tang of the apple, the stickiness of the caramel and the juice running down your's what kids do. Not what adults do. No kid would ever expect to come home and find that their parents had made them a batch of caramel apples just for fun. If you make these your parent cred will go up exponentially (in the eyes of your child...possibly not in the eyes of other parents but who cares what they think, besides there are apples involved so you're totally providing a balanced meal).

The two toughest things about making caramel are the constant stirring and the heat. You can’t leave caramel to its own devices or you’ll end up with a lumpy, pebbly, potentially burnt mess. You also can’t be careless with it as caramel can give a nasty burn. No matter how tempted you are to dip in a finger or lick the spoon, don’t. Just don't. Making caramel involves heating sugar to a very high temperature and sugar burns are pure evil. 

So now that I’ve scared you all away (I hope there are still a few of you left!) below is the caramel apple recipe that I promised a few weeks back. Contrary to the above it’s actually quite easy and it results in a delicious, slightly chewy, creamy caramel that is the perfect partner to a crisp, tart apple. Do it for the kids.

Special thanks to Little Miss Rose for the photos. 

Caramel Apples 
225g butter 
2 cups brown sugar 
1 cup golden syrup 
1 can (395g) condensed milk 
1-2 tsps vanilla extract 
8-10 apples, Granny Smith are best
Chopsticks or clean twigs 
Candy thermometer 

Grease a large sheet of baking paper with butter. Wash apples and push a chopstick into the top of each. Dip apples in boiling water for 5 seconds and dry to remove any wax. 

Place the first four ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Stir constantly from start to finish otherwise it may crystallise or burn. Once the caramel starts to bubble insert a candy thermometer and continue stirring until it reaches 118-120°C (around 15 minutes). Remove caramel from heat and stir in the vanilla. Cool for a few minutes then dip each apple in, rotating to cover the apple and shaking a little to remove excess. Stand on the greased baking paper to set. 

*Weekly Tip: For extra good times, dip the caramel apples in crushed nuts, cookie pieces, mini marshmallows or chocolate chips. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Pear Clafoutis. What's not to love?

People! Meet my new favourite dessert, Clafoutis. 

I can see many winter nights on my couch with a bowl of this custardy, flan-like goodness cradled in my hands. Clafoutis has always intrigued me and I’m disappointed in myself that it took me this long to make it. Clafoutis, where have you been all my life? Oh that’s right, on the tables of French bistros being served up to intellects and artistes (because that's what I think all French people are). Now you’re also snuggling with me on my couch in Tauranga.

Clafoutis is traditionally made with cherries but you can substitute all sorts of other fruits. Originally I was just going to roll with pears until I remembered the glut of feijoas I had out on the lawn. So in they went. And thank goodness for that. Pear and feijoa are a great match together, let alone with a delicious custard blanket encasing them. And did I mention cream? Heavy pouring cream. Oh my.

I read somewhere (i.e. wikipedia) that a clafoutis made without cherries is a 'flaugnarde'. Both are excellent words to say. Either way, clafoutis or flaugnarde, you are delicious and you are most definitely here to stay. Make this immediately, so you too can bundle up on the couch under a blanket and enjoy this deeply comforting dessert. Tonight this is going to accompany a screening of Charlie Chaplin's City Lights. I'm a lucky girl.

Pear & Feijoa Clafoutis

Butter, for greasing
Sugar, for sprinkling
1 large pear
10 feijoas (or use a different fruit if you prefer)
4 eggs
135g brown sugar
100ml cream
190ml milk
1 tsp Heilala Vanilla Extract
½ tsp almond extract (optional)
¼ tsp salt
70g flour

Grease a baking dish with butter and sprinkle sugar over so it sticks to the butter. Preheat oven to 170°C. Whisk the eggs and brown sugar together until pale and fluffy. Combine cream, milk, extracts and salt and stir into egg mix. Sift the flour over top and whisk to combine. Let sit while you prepare the fruit. Core and slice pear into thin wedges and scoop out feijoa flesh, place fruit in a single layer on the bottom of the dish and gently pour the batter over top. Bake for 35mins or until golden and the custard is firm. Sprinkle with icing sugar and enjoy.
*Weekly Tip: If you chill clafoutis it takes on a nice firm texture making it easy to slice into wedges. So, if (for some strange reason) you find yourself with any leftover, it makes a great lunch snack.