Tag Archives: cake

Crustless ricotta cheesecake

26 Mar

Baked ricotta cheesecake topped with freshly whipped cream (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Baked ricotta cheesecake topped with freshly whipped cream (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Many years ago, long before I started writing my food blog, I saved a few pages from a Pick ‘n Pay Fresh Ideas booklet before it became Fresh Living Magazine (not sure the exact date, it wasn’t included in my cut-out). Strangely, I never got around to making their recipe for an Italian baked ricotta cheesecake – although the picture had astounded me each time I saw it.

I recently paged through my saved cut-outs again and decided to finally give it a go. I love a good cheesecake any day and I’m always keen to try out new variations. This one is great because it doesn’t have any crust at all (a little less effort and more than a little less kilojoules) and it is made from ricotta cheese, not cream cheese or cottage cheese. The cake is slightly firmer than most other cream-cheese-based cheesecakes, with a delicate almost-crumbly texture. The smoothness of the texture completely depends on the smoothness of the ricotta that you are using, so look for a creamy and smooth ricotta product. The flavour is surprisingly light and not too sweet – a welcome alternative to heavier cream-based versions.

This Italian-style cheesecake is really easy to make, low in carbs and delicious topped with a layer of unsweetened softly whipped cream. It is best kept refrigerated. Dust with a little icing sugar if necessary.

Crustless ricotta cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Crustless ricotta cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients: (makes 1 x 20cm cake)

  • 1 kg ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 6 XL eggs
  • 1.2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
  • juice (about 1/4 cup) and finely grated peel of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • a pinch of salt
  • for serving: 250 ml cream, whipped

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 150 C. Set oven rack in the middle of the oven. Grease and flour a 20 cm springform cake tin.
  2. Place all ingredients (except cream) in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pour batter into the prepared tin.
  3. Bake for 1 1/2 hours (90 minutes) until filling is pale gold and centre is firm. Remove from oven and cool in tin.
  4. Remove from tin when completely cool, then top with whipped cream. Slice and serve.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Recipe: Pick ‘n Pay Fresh Ideas booklet

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography: Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe

Styling: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

A festive table from “Share: The Cookbook” with Poetry stores

15 Dec

A festive table loaded with delicious dishes out of "Share: The Cookbook" (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

A festive table loaded with delicious dishes out of “Share: The Cookbook” (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

It was such a treat to discover this new book on the shelf at Poetry stores – Share: The Cookbook. ShareIt is a celebration of women who have survived war and conflicts, but also a celebration of the foods that nourish and bring us together. Recipes such as Nigerian Beef and Okra Soup, Rwandan Chicken Casserole as well as magical images  of real people are laid out in surrounding pages. Between the beautifully simple recipes, women tell their stories of survival, determination and how they came to take part in programs offered by Women for Women International. A host of celebrities such as Jamie Oliver to Annie Lennox have contributed recipes bringing a diverse array of flavours and personalities to this unique book. 100% of the publisher’s profits go to Women for Woman International. Share is much more than just a cookbook, it’s written for people that are interested in issues of women’s rights whilst celebrating our common humanity.

I’ve chosen a range of recipes as part of a festive spread in association with Poetry stores, using some of their beautiful homeware but also one of their fabulous new table cloths. The recipes are bright and tasty, yet simple and inexpensive. The flavour inspiration come deep from the hearts of Africa and India, intertwined by a common love of sharing food, recipes and love around our tables.

This book makes a great Christmas gift, and will remain a favourite in your kitchen but also on your coffee table.

Tomato & spinach dahl (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tomato & spinach dahl (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Spinach & tomato dahl, by Peter Kindersley

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled & grated
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 250 g red lentils
  • 400g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 900 ml vegetable stock or water
  • 400 g baby spinach
  • to serve: steamed basmati rice, naan bread, natural yoghurt, fresh coriander leaves and fresh lemon/lime wedges

Method:

Heat the oil in a large heavy lidded pan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and salt. Cook and stir for 2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the lentils, tomatoes and stock/water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20-30 min when the lentils are thick. Stir often to prevent sticking on the bottom. Fold in the spinach and cook for about 2 minutes or until just wilted. Adjust seasoning and serve with steamed rice, naan bread, natural yoghurt, coriander leaves and fresh lemon/lime wedges.

Kachumbari salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Kachumbari salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Kachumbari salad, by Craig Kielburger

  • 450 g ripe, firm tomatoes, sliced or diced
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 25 g fresh coriander
  • 1 chilli, sliced
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Place the tomatoes in a salad bowl. Top with the sliced onion, coriander & chilli.
  2. Drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil and season with salt & pepper.
Tandoori yoghurt chicken (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tandoori yoghurt chicken (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tandoori yoghurt chicken, by Bill McKibben

  • 1 whole chicken (about 1,5kg) cut into 8 pieces, skin removed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • juice of a lemon
  • 500 ml Greek yoghurt
  • 1 onion, coursely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3cm piece of ginger, peeled & grated
  • 1-2 red chillies, deseeded & chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • a drop of red food colouring (optional)
  • to serve: coriander leaves & lemon/lime wedges

Method:

  1. Using a sharp small knife, cut deep slashes into the thickest part of the chicken, but do not cut as far as the bone. Place in a large mixing bowl, then sprinkle with salt & lemon juice. Set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the marinade: place yoghurt, onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric & garam masala in a food processor and process to a smooth sauce. Add the red colouring, if using.
  3. Pour over the chicken, and rub into the slits. Cover and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
  4. Pre-heat the grill or fire, then cook the chicken for 20-25 minutes turning regularly. The chicken is cooked when there is no pink flesh and the juices run clear. Serve with fresh coriander and some lemon/lime wedges.
Orange, almond & olive oil cake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Orange, almond & olive oil cake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Orange scented olive oil almond cake, by Nell Newman

  • 100 g almonds (or ground almonds)
  • 100 g white rice flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 175 g white sugar
  • 120 ml olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 60 ml orange juice
  • 60 ml sherry
  • to decorate: orange segments/slices

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Grease/line a 20cm springform round cake tin.
  2. Toast the almonds in a dry pan over medium heat until lightly brown, then grind in a food processor. (alternatively use ground almonds)
  3. In a mixing bowl, sieve the rice flour and almonds with the baking powder & salt.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and creamy. Now add the olive oil in a thin stream while whisking, following with the vanilla, almond extract, zest, orange juice and sherry. Fold into the dry sieved ingredients.
  5. Using clean electric beaters, whisk the egg whites in another clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Now fold this into the yolk/flour mixture. Pour into the prepared tin, then bake for 30-40 minutes until light brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven, then allow to cool for 15 minutes before turning out on a clean folded tea towel. Invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Garnish with flaked almonds and/or orange segments/slices, and serve with whipped cream or creme fraiche.

All recipes from “Share: The Cookbook”, available from Poetry stores at R395.

All homeware, Wonkiware & wooden boards (except vintage brass cake plate, ladle and silver knife) available from Poetry stores.

Table cloth available from Poetry stores at R499 – available in blue or green.

Photography & styling: Tasha Seccombe

Text, propping, food preparation & styling: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant & food preparation: Elsebé Cronjé

This post was written and executed in association with Poetry stores.

Lemon curd swiss roll

22 Oct

Lemon curd swiss roll (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Lemon curd swiss roll (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

As mentioned before, I just adore South African food icon Phillippa Cheifitz and her recipes. She’s probably the reason that I want to write my own recipe book (and will, soon – watch this space). Her recipes are so stylish, simple, classic, doable and beautiful.

Lazy DaysPhillippa’s popular book “Lazy Days – Contemporary Country-style Cooking” was recently revised. I attended Phillippa’s book launch a week ago, and finally had the privilege of meeting this iconic and stylish woman. I still have the original version of Lazy Days and it remains one of my absolute favourites on my shelf. It’s a collection of recipes that you’d want to cook over and over again, containing classic staples like whole-egg mayonnaise, anchovy butter, onion confit and buttermilk pancakes. Phillippa writes about the food that she cooks on their West Coast weekends – the type of food that totally speaks to my heart.

Phillippa’s recipe for a lemon curd Swiss roll is so effortless and delightful, so I decided to feature it as a tribute. We also loved photographing this cake, as it was the first time that we worked inside my new kitchen. The natural lighting was just fantastic and we are so happy with the results. Looking forward to many more shoots in here.

Thank you Phillippa for the endless inspiration – you rock my world.

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 4 XL eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Beat the eggs with the sugar until very light & foamy.
  2. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt, then sift over the beaten egg mixture and fold in gently but evenly.
  3. Turn into a buttered baking Swiss-roll pan lined with nonstick baking paper. Bake one shelf above the middle at 200 C for about 12 minutes or until nicely risen.
  4. Turn out and pull off the paper carefully. Place a clean sheet of baking paper on top, then roll up, lengthways, in a tea towel.

Ingredients for the lemon curd:

  • 2 XL eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup strained lemon juice
  • grated rind of 2 lemons
  • 125 g chilled butter

Method:

  1. Beat the whole eggs and yolks until frothy, then gradually beat in the sugar until thick and pale.
  2. Mix in the lemon juice and rind. Turn into a heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking in the butter bit by bit. Cook for about 5 minutes, until thickened, but take care not to allow it to boil and curdle.
  3. Once thickened, remove from the stove and place a piece of nonstick paper direcly on the surface. Leave to cool completely. Refrigerate for a few hours until it is a good spreading consistency.
  4. To assemble: carefully unroll the sponge cake, spread with the lemon-curd fulling and roll up again. Dust with icing sugar, if you want to.

Credits:

Recipe: Phillippa Cheifits (Lazy Days: Easy Summer Cooking – Quivertree Publications)

Text: Ilse van der Merwe

Food preparation: Elsebé Cronje

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: The Demo Kitchen, Stellenbosch

Thank you to Catalyst Communications for the copy of Phillippa’s revised book. I will treasure it.

An Easter garden tea party with Poetry stores

7 Apr

An Easter garden tea party fit for a king (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

An Easter garden tea party fit for a king (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Next weekend many of us will be celebrating the Easter holidays – a time for utter indulgence in terms of festive family foods and sweet treats. The friendly team from Poetry stores asked me to once again put together a feast for this special occasion, and I decided to create a tea party spread with recipes from one of the books from their shelves: Tea Time by Jackie Brooks.

A tea party is such a great way to celebrate special occasions with family and friends. While the kids are hunting Easter eggs in the garden, you and your friends can gather around in a shady spot to enjoy the most delicious and decadent Easter treats with a cup of steaming tea. While Tasha (my good friend and also the photographer of this spread) and I worked to make the food look pretty, we asked our daughters to hold some of the dishes for a few individual recipe shots. They made such beautiful “hand models” that we had to pay them in Easter eggs!

My favourite recipe from this whole spread is the pecan cheesecake – it is utterly decadent and so very delicious. But the raspberry tarts take the prize for their wow factor – how pretty are those?

Jackie’s little recipe book is conveniently small (it will certainly fit into most handbags) and packed with so many easy recipes – sweet and savoury – for any tea time occasion. At only R150 is also makes a very affordable gift for a friend or loved one this Easter. Get it from your nearest Poetry store or online.

Butterfly cupcakes with pink cream filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Butterfly cupcakes with pink cream filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Butterfly cupcakes – makes 24: (all recipes from Tea Time by Jackie Brooks)

  • 125g butter
  • 5ml vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • filling: 250 ml cream, 2,5ml vanilla extract, 15 ml icing sugar, a drop of pink food colouring

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C.
  2. Beat butter, vanilla and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Sift flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir until mixture is smooth and all ingredients are well combined.
  4. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of mixture into paper cases. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. To make the filling, beat cream, vanilla and icing sugar together until thick.
  6. When the cupcakes are cool, cut a slice from the top of each cake and pipe on a small amount of filling. Cut the removed cake slices in half and arrange on top of cream to make butterfly wings. Dust with a little icing sugar.
Chocolate hazelnut cake with vintage doily sieve pattern (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Chocolate hazelnut cake with vintage doily sieve pattern (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Chocolate hazelnut cake – serves 8:

  • 250g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 325g hazelnuts, toasted and roughtly chopped
  • 15ml rum
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 190C.
  2. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and keep stirring until the chocolate melts. Remove from pan and cool slightly.
  3. Place egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until thick and pale. Fold the melted chocolate, hazelnuts and rum into the egg mixture.
  4. Place egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. Pour mixture into a greased and lined 23cm spring-form cake tin and bake for 50 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool cake in tin.
  5. Just prior to serving, dust cake with icing sugar (I used one of Tasha’s antique lace doilies to create a beautiful pattern).
Meltingly soft ginger kisses (photograhy by Tasha Seccombe)

Meltingly soft ginger kisses (photograhy by Tasha Seccombe)

Ginger kisses – makes 24:

  • 250g soft butter
  • 115g icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 15ml ground ginger
  • 225g plain/cake flour
  • 150g cornflour (Maizena)
  • Filling: 250g mascarpone, 50g stem ginger or preserved ginger, 15ml stem ginger syrup or maple syrup, 50g demerara sugar, 2,5ml vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.
  2. In a large bowl beat the butter until pale and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar, beating well until the mixutre is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until well combined. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of the flour.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the ginger, flour and cornflour. Sift the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Roll teaspoon-sized amount into balls and press down with a fork (use floured hands).
  4. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until firm and lightly golden in colour (not brown). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. While the biscuits and cooling, prepare the filling. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside. When the biscuits are cool enough, spread the filling on half the biscuits then place the remaining biscuits on top.
Baked pecan cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Baked pecan cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Pecan cheesecake – serves 12:

Base:

  • 180-200g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
  • 45ml sugar (optional)
  • 50g butter

Filling:

  • 1,25kg plain cream cheese (5 x 250g tubs), at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 40g butter, melted
  • 5 eggs
  • 5ml vanilla essence
  • 1 cup pecan nuts, chopped

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C.
  2. To make base, combine biscuits, sugar and butter, mixing well. Press into bottom of a greased 25cm spring-form tin, then chill in the fridge.
  3. For the filling: beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add brown sugar and butter, mixing well. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Spoon filling into tin and bake for 1 hour.
  4. Turn oven off and allow cheesecake to cool in oven with closed door for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, then cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate for 8 hours. Remove sides of spring-form tin, then decorate with extra pecans.
Fresh raspberry tarts with cream cheese filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Fresh raspberry tarts with cream cheese filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Raspberry & hazelnut tarts – makes 6:

Base:

  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 30 ml icing sugar
  • 30g ground hazelnuts
  • 80g butter, chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Cream filling:

  • 375g creamcheese430ml caster sugar
  • 60ml double cream

Raspberry topping:

  • 350g fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 cup smooth raspberry jam (warmed and sieved)

Method:

  1. To make pastry base, place flour, icing sugar, and hazelnuts in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg and pulse until it just comes together as a soft dough. Remove from bowl and wrap in cling wrap, then refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 200C. Knead pastry lightly, then roll out to 3mm thick. Line 6 greased 75mm flan tins with the rolled-out pastry dough. Line with baking paper and add beans or rice to weigh it down. Bake for 10 minute, then remove paper and beans and bake for another 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. To make filling, place cream cheese and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth. Beat cream in a separate bowl, then fold into cream cheese mixture.
  4. To assemble, spoon or pipe the filling into cooled pastry cases. Arrange raspberries on top, then brush warm jam over and refrigerate to set. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Credits:

This post was especially written for Poetry stores as part of their Easter 2014 celebration campaign.

All recipes from Tea Time by Jackie Brooks. Available from Poetry stores for R150.

All homeware, Wonkiware, jugs, mini wooden boards, tea cups & saucers, nougat bars, toffee bars, glass tea pot and wooden boxed exotic teas available from Poetry stores (except for white cake stand, animated vintage mug, bunny cookie cutters, and Easter eggs).

Intro text, recipe selection, food preparation & co-styling: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & co-styling: Tasha Seccombe

Green bunny prop courtesy of Lily’s Closet.

Classic chocolate cupcakes

25 Mar

A classic, moist, dark chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

A few years ago, before I even considered changing careers from music to food, I was already a huge fan of food TV. I watched Nigella, Jamie and Bill religiously on BBC Food (now BBC Lifestyle), and made notes now and then to remember some of their recipes.

One of the recipes that survived in my scribbled recipe notebook, was a basic cupcake recipe from Nigella Lawson. While she was demonstrating the easy steps, I was trying to write it down – only getting cryptic notes of ingredients and some of the method. Not knowing back then that I could have just checked the full recipe online, I tried to make sense of my scribbles later that day. The great thing is, the recipe is so very simple and absolutely fool proof that I have made dozens of batches of these over the years. For chocolate cupcakes, I just substitute two heaped tablespoons of flour for two heaped tablespoons of cocoa powder.

More recently, I looked up the original recipe. Nigella uses royal icing for her cupcakes, but I prefer a rich and fluffy buttercream frosting. Use whatever you prefer.

These chocolate cupcakes always deliver in terms of taste and texture. (Photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Ingredients: (makes 12)

Note: Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before you start. It makes a big difference to the texture. Also, a digital scale will make your life a lot easier for this recipe.

  • 75 g cake flour
  • 50 g cocoa powder (for vanilla cupcakes, leave the cocoa powder out and just use 125 g of cake flour in total)
  • 125 g sugar
  • 125 g soft butter
  • 2 XL eggs
  • 5 ml baking powder
  • 2.5 ml baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • a small pinch of salt
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 30 ml milk

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Line a 12 hole cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Place all of the ingredients except the milk in a food processor, and pulse to mix thoroughly. Scrape down the sides.
  3. With the motor running, add the milk and process for a further 1 minute until the mixture becomes very smooth. Now use 2 dessert spoons to drop the batter into the cupcake tin holes, spreading the mixture to fill all 12 holes (it always looks like it’s not enough, but trust me – it is).
  4. Bake for 15-18 minutes until cooked and golden on top (an inserted skewer should come out clean). Remove from the oven and transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the chocolate buttercream frosting:

  • 125 g soft butter (very soft, but not melted)
  • 200 g icing sugar, sifted
  • 50 g cocoa powder, sifted (or less if you don’t like it to be too dark)
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 15-30 ml milk

Method:

  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), then use an electric whisk to beat it until pale and creamy (takes about 2-3 minutes).
  2. Add the sifted icing sugar and cocoa powder a little at a time, mixing until it is thoroughly incorporated. Add the vanilla and a little milk and whisk to get a light and fluffy texture, but don’t add too much milk or the mixture won’t hold shape.
  3. Transfer the icing to a piping bag fitted with a nozzle of your choice, then pipe the icing on top of the cupcakes. Don’t refrigerate them, as the icing will become hard and unpleasant to eat. Enjoy immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

The mixture makes exactly 12 cupcakes. I love their cracked tops. (Photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe adaptation, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Cheat’s “macarons” with jam and cream

4 Sep

Cheat’s macarons, filled with cream and jam (Photography by Tasha Seccombe)

There is a universal love all over the world for cake with cream and jam; it’s an age-old trend. You’ll find it in the form of swiss rolls, cream cakes, cupcakes, whoopie pies, scones and cookies – it’s just one of those combos that work.

These soft little cookies were made from regular cupcake batter, piped onto a lined baking sheet, then filled with a swirl of jam and cream. And yes, they resemble French macarons. But they are so much easier to make than macarons, with none of the frustration or effort!

You can also fill these treats with caramel or your favourite version of butter icing. They are delicate, yet really simple – perfect for a special teatime treat.

Ingredients for batter:

  • 125 g cake flour
  • 125 g butter (soft)
  • 125 g sugar
  • 5 ml baking powder
  • 2.5 ml baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 ml vanilla essence
  • 30 ml milk

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients except the milk in a food processor, then process for about 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides, then process again. With the motor running, add the milk, then process for another 30 seconds until the mixture becomes very silky and smooth.
  3. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a relatively small nozzle, then pipe the batter in circles of about 2-3cm in diameter, leaving enough space inbetween for rising.
  4. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 5-8 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. They should be firm and lightly straw coloured, but not brown.
  5. Remove the cookies from the oven, then carefully transfer them with a spatula to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat this process to use up all the batter.

Ingredients for the jam and cream swirl filling:

  • about 1/2 cup berry jam (I used black currant jam)
  • 250 ml cream
  • icing sugar for dusting

Method:

  1. If the jam you are using is quite chunky, use a stick blender and a tall cup to process it to a smooth pulp. This will make it easier to pipe.
  2. Whisk the cream in a separate mixing bowl until just stiff (but not too stiff), then gently stir in the smooth jam – it doesn’t have to be mixed completely.
  3. Transfer the cream and jam mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle of your choice, then pipe the mixture on the inside of the cooled cookies. Use more cookies to close them up like little sandwiches. Dust with icing sugar, then serve.

PS: You can also just use thick cream or cream cheese and chunky jam to spread it onto the cookies with a knife – the 2 separate layers also look quite beautiful!

Cheat’s macarons (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.

Red velvet cake

15 Apr

Luscious red velvet cake with vanilla buttercream icing (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

It seems that there’s a red velvet cake revival every 2 years. In fact, I did a post on red velvet cupcakes exactly 2 years ago (on the 28th of March). But I’m telling you, that revival has been going on for decades. Just as you think people have forgotton the craze, they tend to get back on the wagon.

So here I am, on the red velvet wagon again. Why? Because this cake seriously is a thing of beauty.  It’s not only a normal cake with a load of red food colouring – it’s a fluffy, moist, velvety creation like no other. You just need to look at it to understand that this is the royal Duchess of cakes.

This recipe is slightly different to the cupcake recipe and makes 2 layers that you can sandwich together (I slice them each in half horizontally to create 4 thin layers). I prefer to use a vanilla buttercream icing that is whipped like cream, I prefer the colour and texture of this to a cream cheese icing or a mascarpone icing.

This is the perfect “high tea” cake.

Ingredients for cake: (recipe adapted from “The Ultimate Snowflake Collection” by Heilie Pienaar)

  •  125 butter, softened
  • 210 g caster sugar
  • 2 XL eggs
  • 30 ml red food colouring (or “crimson pink”)
  • 15 ml milk
  • 30 ml cocoa powder
  • 280 g cake flour
  • 2,5 ml salt
  • 250 ml buttermilk
  • 5 ml bicarbonate of soda
  • 15 ml white vinegar
  • 5 ml vanilla essence

Method:

  1. Grease and line 2 x 20cm round cake tins, and pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. Using electric beaters, cream butter and sugar. Now add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat untill the mixture is light and fluffy.
  3. Add the food colouring and milk, then beat well.
  4. Sift the cocoa powder, cake flour and salt together. Add half the dry ingredients, then half the buttermilk. Mix well, now add the remaining half of the dry ingredients, then the buttermilk, and mix well.
  5. Dissolve the bicarb into the vinegar, then add it to the mixture along with the vanilla.  Fold it in with a spatula, then pour into the greased pans. Bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven, then leave in the pans for 5 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack to cool completely.

Buttercream frosting:

  • 250 g butter, very soft
  • seeds of one vanilla pod
  • 500 g icing sugar, sifted (powdered confectioner’s sugar)
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk

Whisk/beat butter and vanilla seeds until very light in colour and fluffy, for around 3-5 minutes.  Add icing sugar a little at a time, and beat/whisk at low-speed untill it starts to come together, then on high-speed untill light and creamy. Add milk and whisk further Put in piping bag and pipe onto cupcakes.

A slice of red velvet delight… (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Credits:

This post was written especially for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe.

Recipe testing and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Tasha Seccombe and Nicola Pretorius

Angel cake with white chocolate ganache and banana cream

19 Feb

Angel cake with white chocolate ganache and banana cream filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

This Valentines Day will mark the 1 year anniversary of working with the fabulous food team from The Pretty Blog, Nicola and Tasha. I wrote my first post for TPB exactly one year ago for a dark chocolate tart with fresh berries, and we felt so exhilarated with the results of our very first picture!

But more importantly, this year on the 14th of February I’ll also be celebrating my 9th wedding anniversary. So many things great things have happened in my life over the past year, and I am so very thankful for the overwhelming support and love from my family! One year ago, I was still struggling to get to grips with my choice to make a complete career change from the music management industry to the food industry as a writer and recipe developer. Things weren’t always easy and I (we) had to make a lot of sacrifices. One year later, I am so excited about where I’m heading, with extremely exciting projects lined up for 2013 and 2014. But the biggest thing that I have learnt over the past year, is how important my husband and my little daughter are to me, and how very lucky I am to have them both in my life.

If there was ever an angel, it is my husband, Schalk. We have been together for 13 years, and he has been my absolute rock. These days it is very rare to find a love that is so complete and so full of joy, friendship and adventure. I love him even more today than the day we got married.

Ingredients for angel cake:

  • 175 g cake flour
  • 15 ml baking powder
  • 5 ml cream of tartar
  • 2 ml salt
  • 45 g cornflour
  • 12 XL egg whites
  • 315 g caster sugar
  • 2 ml almond essence

Ingredients for white chocolate ganache:

  • 160 g white chocolate (I used 2 x 80g slabs of Nestlé Milky Bar)
  • 150 ml fresh cream

Ingredients for banana cream filling:

  •  250 ml cream
  • 15 ml caster sugar
  • 5 ml vanilla essence (or 2 ml vanilla extract)
  • 1 banana, mashed

Method for angel cake:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt and cornflour.
  3. In another large mixing bowl, beat/whisk egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the caster sugar while whisking continuously, until you reach medium peak stage (between soft peaks and stiff peaks). Add the almond essence and whisk for a few seconds.
  4. Add dry ingredients to egg whites, then fold in gently with a metal spoon until the mixture is smooth. Pour into an ungreased 24 cm loose bottomed angel cake pan or ring pan (I used a normal loose bottomed cake pan and placed a drinking glass in the middle to create the distinctive angel cake hole).
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes until done, then remove from the oven and leave in the pan to cool for 5-10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack. Cool completely.

Method for white chocolate ganache:

  1. Break chocolate into small blocks into a glass mixing bowl.
  2. On the stove top in a small sauce pan, bring the cream to a boil, then quickly remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Leave to melt for 2-3 minutes, then stir gently until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool to the desired consistency while filling the cake with the banana cream (I love a slightly more spreadable ganache, but you can also drizzle it over the cake white it is still a bit warm and slightly runny).

Method for banana cream:

  1. In a mixing bowl, add the cream, sugar and vanilla. Whip the mixture with a whisk or electric beaters, until it is stiff enough to hold shape (don’t over-beat!)
  2. Add the mashed banana, then fold it into the cream. Use a sharp knife to cut the cake horizontally in 2 layers, then fill generously with the banana cream and carefully put the top layer back in place. Then spread/drizzle the top with the white chocolate ganache.

PS: I used Heilie Pienaar’s recipe for angel cake from her new book “The Ultimate Snowflake Collection”. She used a passion fruit glaze icing for her cake, but I prefer to top mine with a decadent white chocolate ganache and fill it with a banana cream filling.

PPS: This cake is best the next day, but the banana cream have a tendency to turn dark after 24 hours. My advice would be to make the cake ahead (the previous day), store it in an airtight container, then fill and ice the cake a few hours before serving.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius and Tasha Seccombe.

Plate: Poetry

Custard cake

6 Sep

Custard cake from my childhood (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I consider myself very lucky to have grown up in our neighbourhood in Uniepark, Stellenbosch. There were many other children around, and we would play in the park across our house until night time. I had many friends, and a few of us shared a classroom from primary school to matric. I still remain friends with a couple of these amazing childhood friends, as it seems that we were interwoven in each others lives forever – almost like family.

One of these special women is Martinette Basson (previously De Jongh).  Her Dad worked with my Dad at the University, and her Mom was a highly respected nurse. They always had the BEST snacks at their birthday parties (she had an older sister and a younger brother), and we used to bake cookies and make fudge at each other’s houses. We also had the most amazing sleepover parties, which always included a midnight feast where we raided the pantry. Those were great times!

Unfortunately, Martinette’s Dad passed away a few years ago, and she moved back from the UK with her young family to spend some time at her Mom’s house in Stellenbosch. I attended a baby shower of her youngest daughter, and had the most amazing custard cake – her Mom’s recipe – complete blast from the past! This was the cake that I had dreamt about for years, not being able to find the recipe anywhere, nor buy a similar cake in any shop. I asked for the recipe, and she wrote it down for me on her Mom’s customised writing pad (it says “From the desk of Elza de Jongh”). I stuck the piece of paper in my recipe book, and it has since collected a few yellow “baking marks”, showing just how popular the recipe is!

Sadly, Martinette’s Mom passed away shortly after I had gotten the recipe. She was a formidable women, quietly spoken, but such an inspiration to all of us. I now think of her every time I see the handwritten recipe “from the desk of Elza de Jongh” for custard cake. I’m sure she is smiling at how much joy this recipe has brought to our family!

Tannie Elza, no-one can beat your custard cake! We miss you!

Note: This recipe is all about the custard icing. Please use any sponge cake recipe that you are comfortable with – I like the warm milk method, and I use a little less sugar than tannie Elsa’s original cake batter recipe. But don’t tweak anything about the custard icing – it looks a little curdled, but that is exactly what it should look like! 🙂

Ingredients for sponge cake:

  •  4 eggs
  • 300 ml (250 g) caster sugar
  • 500 ml (280 g) cake flour
  • 15 ml baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 250 ml milk
  • 100 g butter
  • 5 ml vanilla essence

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Grease and/or line 2 x 20 cm round cake tins.
  2. Beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, then fold into egg mixture.
  4. Heat milk and butter until butter is melted, but don’t let it boil. Add vanilla, then fold into flour and egg mixture.
  5. Pour batter into lined cake tins, then bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked and golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven, and cool on wire racks.

Ingredients for Custard icing:

  • 500 ml milk
  • 100 ml custard powder (I use Moirs)
  • 125 g butter at room temperature
  • 200 ml caster sugar
  • 5 ml vanilla essence
  • 100 ml desiccated coconut, toasted to a golden brown in a dry pan

Method:

  1. Dissolve the custard powder in 100 ml milk. Heat remaining 400 ml milk until boiling point, then add custard mixture and stir for a few minutes over lowered heat until it is smooth and thick. Take care not to let it burn.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar and vanilla for a few minutes until creamy.
  3. Add cooled custard to butter mixture, then beat on high speed for about 3 minutes until smooth. It will look slightly curdled, that is perfect!
  4. Spread custard on cake layers and on top, then top with toasted coconut.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe

Carrot cake with dates and pecans

12 Jul

Carrot cake with dates and pecans (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

Somehow I always feel a bit less guilty when indulging in carrot cake instead of chocolate cake, or any other cake for that matter. The carrots, raisins, dates and pecan nuts surely are very good for my health, I’d tell myself. And also, cream cheese icing must be full of calcium and general “dairy goodness”. Well, I suppose the happiness that a slice of carrot cake brings, far exceeds the kilojoules. 😉

So here is my recipe for a delicious, chunky, nutty, moist carrot cake, filled with the fruity goodness of raisins and dates. I top it with a rich cream cheese icing – almost the same that I use for my lemon and poppy seed cake – so versatile and utterly scrumptious.

This cake is even better on the second and third day, as it absorbs some of the wetness of the icing over time. Serve on it’s own, or with a dollop of freshly whipped cream (my Mother’s indulgent way).

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 375 ml (315 g) caster sugar
  • 250 ml vegetable oil
  • 500 ml (280 g) cake flour
  • 10 ml (2 t) baking powder
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 t) salt
  • 5 ml (1 t) fine cinnamon
  • 5 ml (1 t) fine ginger
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 t) fine nutmeg
  • 2,5 ml baking soda
  • 750 ml (375) grated carrot
  • 125 ml seedless raisins
  • 50 g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
  • 125 ml finely chopped dried dates  (about 10-12 dried dates)

Ingredients for cream cheese icing:

  • 230 g cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 100 g butter (at room temperature)
  • 500 g icing sugar, sifted
  • 5 ml vanilla essence
  • 50 g pecan nuts, chopped (to garnish on top)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. Beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add oil and mix well.
  4. Sift dry ingredients together, then fold into wet mixture with a metal spoon.
  5. Now fold in raisins, dates, pecans and carrots.
  6. Pour batter into 2 x 20 cm lined cake tins, then bake for 35-40 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven, then let it stand in the tins for about 15 minutes before turning out. Cool completely before icing.
  8. For icing: beat cream cheese and butter together until very light and creamy – about 10 minutes. Add icing sugar and vanilla and beat for a further 2 minutes until smooth and lump free. Spread on first layer, top with second layer, then ice the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle with chopped pecan nuts.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.

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