Warming Sweet Potato And Orange Soup with Sweet Potato Croutons

Many years ago, my sister gave me this utterly awesome soup recipe book by the New Covent Garden Food Company. When we lived in the UK, I loved their warming soup lunch meals – the perfect thing in a country cursed with perpetual cold weather! I have never tried this one before, but since I had a lot of sweet potato in the pantry and oranges are in season, I thought I’d test it. And oh my goodness! It’s delicious!! I adjusted the recipe a little because I am not particularly fond of bacon. I know, some people believe that there is something wrong with me! But this veggie version is beautiful and warming – just the thing we need with the icy weather. And it’s low carb, so it’s ideal for you Banters as well!

sweet potato soup and fresh oranges

How to make Sweet Potato and Orange Soup with Sweet Potato Croutons

 You Will Need:

  • 20g butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 500g peeled sweet potatoes (375g roughly chopped, and 125g cubed for the croutons)
  • 200g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 100ml vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 150ml milk
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • fresh coriander and double cream yoghurt for serving

Method for the soup:

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan and cook the onions until soft.

Add the roughly chopped sweet potatoes and potatoes, stock, orange juice and ground coriander. Bring to the boil, and then simmer covered until the vegetables are soft (about 30 minutes).

 

Method for the sweet potato croutons:

While the soup is gently bubbling away, heat some oil in a saucepan and once it’s hot, add the cubed sweet potato. Once the cubes have turned a golden brown colour, remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. Keep an eye on the sweet potato – you don’t want it to get too dark!

Back to the soup! When the vegetables are cooked, allow the soup to cool a little. Then add the milk and puree with a blend stick.

sweet potato soup and fresh oranges

Serve the soup garnished with a dollop of yoghurt, the sweet potato croutons and freshly chopped coriander!

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

Mexican Tomato Soup with Cheesy Quesadilla Dippers

Something about the cold weather makes me want to stuff my face with super spicy food. Luckily, Mexico was our food destination for the week. Which meant that spicy, hot goodness was on the menu every single day. I LOVED it!

This Mexican Tomato soup, like many of my favourite things, is all about the extras! The soup is hearty and mild without the quesadillas, so don’t be afraid to add more chilli. Let us know what you think in the comments box below!

You will need

For the Tomato Soup:

  • 1 small pumpkin cut in chunks
  • 8 chopped tomatoes *
  • 3 Habanero chillies chopped (or any chilli you prefer)
  • 1 large onion chopped **
  • ½ yellow pepper chopped ***
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. stock powder
  • 750ml water
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • Salt to taste

*      Dice an extra tomato for a soothing tomato salsa
**   Keep 2 tbsp. onion aside for the quesadilla filling (Let it sit in vinegar to reduce the sharpness)
*** Chop extra yellow pepper for the quesadilla filling

cheesy-spinanch-quesadilla

For the Cheesy Quesadillas:

  • 2 tortillas
  • 2 tbsp. diced yellow pepper
  • 2 tbsp. onion
  • 2 Jalapenos sliced
  • 1 handful baby spinach leaves
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese (or semi-hard cheese of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp. cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp. Sriracha sauce

tomato-cucumber-and-onion-salsa-in-a-rustic-bowl

Optional Extras:

Hot food is not for the faint-hearted so take a delicious precaution in the form of cooling quesadilla-toppers.
Here are our favourite sense soothers:

  • Chopped tomato, cucumber and onion salsa
  • Yoghurt or sour cream
  • Guacamole or pureed avocado

Method

mexican-soup-with-quesadilla-dippers

For the Soup:

  1. Melt butter on high heat in a large pot or pressure cooker.
  2. Add onions, tomato, pumpkin and yellow pepper to the pot and fry for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste, stock powder, black pepper and chillies and fry for 5 minutes more.
  4. Mix in the water, close the lid and let the mixture do its thing.
  5. 20 minutes in a pressure cooker, and 30 – 40 minutes on the stove or until the pumpkin falls apart. (Prepare the Quesadillas while you wait).
  6. Once the veggies are soft remove the pot from the heat and blend the soup until smooth.
  7. Add salt to taste.

For the Quesadillas:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  2. Spread Sriracha on one tortilla. Then add a layer of cottage cheese.
  3. Sprinkle a little bit of cheddar cheese (thin layers of cheese will keep the quesadilla from falling apart).
  4. Add a layer of sliced Jalapenos, yellow pepper and onion.
  5. Sprinkle more cheese on the tortilla base.
  6. Add the spinach leaves, finish with yet another sprinkling of cheese and place the other tortilla on top.
  7. Place the quesadilla on the top oven shelf. Once the top is crispy, after 5-10 minutes, place the quesadilla on the lowest oven shelf until it’s perfectly crisp and golden.
  8. Remove the quesadillas from the oven, let it cool for two minutes then cut the quesadilla into eight sections (like a pizza).

Now all that’s left to do is plate!

mexican-soup-with-quesadilla-dippers-tomato-salsa-and-sour-cream

Happy Eating!

 

tenille

 

Friday Night Bangers In Blankets

I try to keep the menu light on a Friday night with things like burgers and pizza, but sometimes I get a bit over-excited, and I try something new! Pigs In Blankets are a firm favourite here, especially when party season swings around (July sees three birthdays in our house) and you have to make something quick for the crowds. So I thought it could be fun to make them with pork sausages for supper instead with cocktail sausages as a party snack. And it worked! Everybody loved them, and now I have something new for my Friday night repertoire – Bangers In Blankets!

pigs in blankets

P.I.B is really a very simple thing to make. And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can get the kids involved as well to create their own. If I make it as party food, I wrap each sausage in a triangle of pastry. Because pork bangers are much bigger, I decided to cut down on the amount of pastry so that you don’t end up with a doughy ball and keep the pork the hero.

You will need

  • Good quality pork bangers
  • A roll of puff pastry
  • Flour for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten

pigs in blankets

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the bangers on a greased tray and precook in the oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool to the touch.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and cut into strips. The thickness of the strips will really depend on what you want to create! We used wider bands to braid and thinner strips to just roll around the sausages. Play with the pastry!

Lightly brush the pastry with the beaten egg and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed up and golden.

pigs in blankets

Serve with potato wedges, salad and mustard of course!

Happy Cooking!

 

Wholesome Ostrich and Mushroom Potjiekos

Potjiekos is a South African national treasure. When you think about it, potjiekos is really just a stew that’s been made on an open fire. There are a few essentials when it comes to making a potjie: pack everything with care, meat in the bottom, and don’t stir! It takes a lot of discipline not to stir a pot though, so we don’t completely abide by the rules. Here’s Joey’s delicious ostrich and mushroom potjiekos, made with love and a secret ingredient!

Joey making potjie

Ingredients

  • 500g Ostrich goulash pieces
  • 500g mixed mushrooms
  • oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, cut up
  • 500g baby potatoes
  • 250g green beans
  • 125ml magic stock*
  • 500ml water
  • cornstarch
  • a handful of fresh herbs (we used flat leaf parsley, origanum and thyme)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 125ml red wine

* The secret is in the stock! Make your own by grilling 1kg beef bones in the oven for 30 mins. Then boil them in 3 litres of water with a few carrots, celery, onions, and garlic until you’ve cooked all the goodness out of them. Decant the delicious liquid into small tubs and use when needed for soups, stews, potjie or anything else really!

Method

Get your fire going! You will need a pile of medium heat coles to start. It’s best to use a tripod under your pot.

potjiekos on fire

Heat the oil and fry the onions and garlic. Add the meat and brown, then remove and let it rest.

ostrich goulash potjie

Next, add the baby potatoes, carrots, stock and water. Let it cook for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are almost cooked.

veggies cooking on a fire

Add the meat, mushrooms, and red wine and reduce the heat by removing some of the coals. Season to taste. Then let it simmer for about 30 minutes until the meat is tender.

potjiekos red wine

To thicken the potjie:

Add cold water to the cornstarch to form a paste. Then add some of the potjie juice to the cornstarch and mix till smooth and lump-free before adding the mixture to the potjie. Stir and cook for another 10 minutes before serving.

potjiekos

Serve with a few sprinkles of fresh herbs and a glass of deep red wine.

Enjoy!

Savoury cheesecake with chilli, tomato, and basil

I’ll be honest: I didn’t know that something like a savoury cheesecake even existed! But when I received a link to this recipe earlier this week, I knew that I had to try it. They had me at cheese, tomato and basil. That has to be one of my all-time favourite combinations of ingredients: on a sandwich, in an omelette, on a pizza, with pasta, and of course on its own. You can’t go wrong! AND this recipe is low-carb!

I didn’t plan to modify this recipe at all, but when I went to buy the ingredients and they didn’t have ricotta, I could for the life of me not figure what to substitute it with. In my defense, it was early in the morning and I’d had only 1 cup of coffee by then, so even Mr Google was not able to help me. I ended up substituting the ricotta with cream cheese. In hindsight, cottage cheese would have been a better choice. None the less, it worked out well and produced a deliciously silky, creamy, super rich savoury cheesecake. Oh, and I find it really hard to justify the cost of pine nuts, so I used my go-to in this situation: toasted sunflower seeds.

Baked Savoury Cheesecake with Cherry Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar - Homeology

You will need

For the Cheesecake:

  • 450 g ricotta (or if you’re like me, 450g of cream cheese)
  • 1 cup plain cream cheese – at room temperature
  • 1 Tbs wholegrain mustard
  • 1 Tbs garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 small green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • pinch white pepper

For the Topping:

  • 500g rosa tomatoes
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbs spoon of toasted sunflower seeds and basil to serve

Baked Savoury Cheesecake - Homeology

Method

Seriously, this could not be easier!

For the Cheesecake:

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Prepare a springform cake tin by lining the base with baking paper and greasing.

Mix all the cheesecake ingredients thoroughly using an electric mixer. Then spoon into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 30 minutes.

Allow to cool in the tin, and refrigerate until you’re ready for the next step!

Baked Savoury Cheesecake with Cherry Tomatoes, Balsamic Vinegar and Parsley - Homeology

For the Topping:

Preheat the grill to 200°C.

Toss the tomatoes in some oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place them under the grill until they have caramelized – around 10-15 minutes. Then allow to cool.

To Assemble:

Once you’re ready to serve, remove the cake from the springform tin and arrange the tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with basil leaves and roasted sunflower seeds.

Slice of Baked Savoury Cheesecake with Cherry Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar - Homeology

Happy Baking!

Cheeky Thai-inspired Chicken Corn Soup

In an attempt to try and up our culinary craftiness while eating healthy, we’ve been keeping to themed menus for the past few weeks. Each week we select a different country to learn from – but due to popular demand (read – because the other half said so) Thailand is featuring for the second time in one month! But I’m out of some of the essential Thai ingredients so I decided to make a “Thai-inspired” dish instead, a fusion if you will.

Immune Booster Thai Chicken Corn Soup

This healthy and wholesome soup is a classic with a twist – chicken corn soup done the Thai green curry way.

healthy vegetable soup ingredients

INGREDIENTS:

For the Soup

  • 2 cooked chicken breasts – shredded*
  • Corn from 2 corn cobs/1.5 cups frozen corn or 1 can sweetcorn
  • Green curry paste **
  • 400ml Coconut Milk (or cream)
  • 750ml vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Shallots or other onions
  • 10ml olive oil
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper

*Fry the chicken breasts until just cooked then shred by using two forks. Or, leave out the chicken altogether if you’re vegetarian.

**I made my own salsa-like green curry mixture, but you can use store bought paste – scroll to the bottom of the page for my home-made version.

shredded cooked chicken for healthy soup

Additional Extras

The great thing about this soup is that you can add pretty much any vegetable you like. This is what I used:

  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup asparagus
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1 small cabbage – shredded (Bok Choy is a lovely alternative)
  • 1-2 raw scrambled eggs

chopped mushroom for healthy soup

Garnish

  • Coriander leaves
  • Chopped spring onion
  • Chopped raw carrot

METHOD:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot then fry the shallots until translucent.
  2. Add the green curry mixture and sweat for 3-5 minutes until fragrant (the part where you feel the chilli and garlic tickle your nose) 😉.
  3. If you’re using carrots or starchy vegetables add them first (the other veggies will be added later).
  4. Mix in the rice vinegar, and let it reduce for a few minutes before adding the stock, water and soy sauce.
  5. Add the corn and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Swirl the soup mixture with a spoon then add the raw egg slowly. Watch it do its magic and move on to the next step.
  7. Now you can add the softer veggies, mushroom, asparagus, broccoli, and the chicken to the soup.
  8. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. Place the cabbage on top of the soup, close the lid and let it sit for 3 minutes.
  10. Turn off the stove and mix in the coconut milk/cream.
  11. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  12. Pour the hearty mix into soup bowls, garnish with coriander leaves, carrots and spring onion. Drizzle with lemon juice and dig in!
  13. Sit back and enjoy the sizzle of a strengthening immune-system!

Optional: Thai Green Curry Salsa/Paste

The reason behind salsa is that I use a food blender and not a food processor, which is still do-able because the flavour is spot-on! But! A food processor is better, because it’ll create a paste that will add a lovely pastel green tint to the soup.

home made green curry salsa in black bowl

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 4 chillies of your choice – the smaller they are, the hotter the curry (feel free to add more)
  • 1-2 inch ginger, peeled
  • 2 lemongrass sticks
  • 4 sprigs of spring onion
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • Bunch of coriander/cilantro leaves

easy home made thai green curry paste ingredients

METHOD:

  1. Clean and peel the ingredients, chop off the woody bits of the lemongrass and spring onion.
  2. Add all ingredients (including fish paste) to a food processor and blend. Fine chopping will also do.
  3. Refrigerate until needed for the main recipe.

home made green curry salsa in black bowl

 

Happy Cooking!

tenille

Beautiful and Delicious Frangipani Fruit Rose Tart

I have a deep appreciation for something beautiful, and this month’s Frangipani Fruit Rose Tart is just that… something absolutely gorgeous!  Though time-consuming, these hand-rolled fruit roses aren’t that difficult once you get the hang of it and they make for a very impressive dessert.

plum roses

YOU WILL NEED

Equipment: An electric mixer/food processor, tart tin (I recommend one with a loose bottom), a mandolin slicer or very sharp knife, ceramic baking beans (or uncooked rice).

INGREDIENTS

For the tart crust:

400g sweet shortcrust pastry (I used shop-bought!)

Flour, for dusting

For the frangipani:

125g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

125g caster sugar

25g plain flour

125g ground almonds

1 large free-range egg, beaten

For the fruit roses:

6-8 medium-sized plums or other stone fruit of your choice – riper fruits work best

To finish:

3-4 tablespoons apricot jam

METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 200ºC (Gas Mark 6) and prepare your tart tin by spraying with non-stick spray.

Instructions for the crust:

  • Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of about 3mm. Use the pastry to line the tin, gently pressing it into the sides and leaving about 1cm overhanging the top edge.

  • Using a fork, prick the base, then line with greaseproof paper and fill with ceramic baking beans or uncooked rice. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

  • When the crust has chilled, blind bake it in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, then return the pastry to the oven for 5 minutes to cook the base.

  • When cooked, use a sharp knife to trim the excess pastry, so it’s level with the top of the tin and set aside to cool.

  • Turn the oven down to 150ºC (Gas Mark 2).

Instructions for the frangipani:

  • Using your electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, flour and almonds together.

  • Once combined, slowly add the egg, mixing until fully incorporated.
  • Allow the frangipane to rest for 5 minutes before smoothing it inside the pastry case.

Instructions for the fruit roses:

  • To begin, cut your fruit in half, remove the pit and place one of the fruit halves on the mandolin.  Slice as thin as possible – I used a 2mm setting. Riper fruit, sliced thinly, roll much easier than crispier fruit or thicker slices.
  • Arrange all the slices on top of one another and cut in half along the same line as where the stone used to be.
  • Take a single slice and start rolling it as tightly as possible to form the core of your rose.

fruit rose petals

  • Gradually add petals, making sure the tapered end of each next slice overlaps with a fuller petal section of the previous slice.

fruit tart intructions

  • As you finish each rose, place it on the frangipani filling, gently pushing it into the filling. You can always add more petals at this stage to make the rose look fuller. Continue to roll roses until the tart is filled.

  • Once all the roses are in, bake the tart for approximately 30-35 minutes until the fruit roses are soft and the frangipani filling is golden.

  • Gently heat the apricot jam in a small pan for about 2 minutes until runny and warm. Remove the tart from the oven and brush with the melted jam while still warm.
  • Allow the tart to cool slightly before removing from the tin for serving in slices.

Cook’s notes:

  • I was only able to lay my hands on plums, but you could use any or a combination of stone fruits like peaches, nectarines, apricots etc.
  • The rose making is definitely the most time-consuming part of this dessert. You can, however, make some of the roses in advance if you have egg cups or other little shallow cups to hold them in place. I’m doing the instructions as if you’re using a mandolin as I did, but if you’re confident enough in your fine-slicing-abilities, a very sharp knife will do the trick!

Happy baking, and do let me know how your tart turns out!

 

Deliciously Moreish Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie for Supper

It could be the season, but I am obsessed with everything pumpkin at the moment: pumpkin fritters, pumpkin soup and delicious pumpkin curry have been regular features in our home. But I’ve never made pumpkin pie – in fact; I only had pumpkin pie for the first time recently at a friend’s birthday lunch. It’s not a typical dish you’ll find on a South African menu, but that only inspired me more to try it. This is my gluten-free pumpkin pie – and it’s an accompaniment to a main meal rather than a dessert, even though it looks pretty enough to be one.

My Latest Favourite Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe

pumpkin pie recipe

I found the gluten-free crust recipe on A Little Sanity. I adapted it slightly because my all-purpose gluten-free flour needed less water. You will need to adjust it as necessary to get a dough that is good to work with.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 2 Cups of Gluten Free Flour
  • 1/2 Cup of Butter at room temperature
  • 1 Egg
  • 60ml Cold Water
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Teaspoon Sugar

For the Filling:

  • 1 ½ cups pureed cooked pumpkin
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 3/4 cup milk

For Decoration:

Seasonal fruit like gooseberries and pomegranate seeds, pastry stars and gold dust.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare one 22cm pie dish.

For the crust:

pumpkin pie recipe

1// Mix the dry ingredients. Then rub in the butter using your fingers. The mixture will take on a crumbly consistency.

 

pumpkin pie recipe

2// Add the egg and mix well. Then add the water little by little until you get a dough ball.

 

pumpkin pie recipe

3// Place the dough in a prepared pie dish, using your fingers to even out the crust across the base and sides of the dish. I used a bit of extra dough to make little stars for decorating the pie with. You can bake them on a baking tray for 10-15 mins.

For The Filling:

Mix the pie filling ingredients together until blended well. Spoon the filling onto the crust and bake for 45 – 55 mins, or until the filling is still slightly wobbly.

pumpkin pie recipe

Decorate the pie with seasonal berries, pastry stars and some gold dust. Serve with roast meat and salad. And a glass of wine of course!

A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA:

pumpkin pie recipe

pumpkin pie recipe

I had some left-over filling, so I baked it in a muffin pan for 25mins. Serve with fresh berries and creme fraiche for a small treat!

Happy Baking!

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever – For Mother’s Day

We all have our favourite recipes – the ones we know will never fail us.  Today’s recipe is one such staple: my Ultimate Go-To Chocolate Cake.  This recipe has been halved, doubled, cupcake-d, tray-baked or a combination of the lot.  The oil in it makes it incredibly moist, staying fresh for up to a week (honestly – try it!!!) and it has the added bonus of being egg and dairy free. This three-tiered naked beauty was made, on this occasion, for my lovely Mom’s 69th birthday.  Why don’t you give it a try for Mother’s Day?  Get as creative as you like with the decorations… please let me know how it turns out!

best chocolate cake

YOU WILL NEED

Equipment: An electric mixer/food processor, sieve, additional heat-proof bowl, cake tins as preferred*, greaseproof/baking paper, Bake Even strips**, plastic straws (if using flowers, to facilitate safe placement of flower stems)

 

INGREDIENTS

For the chocolate cake:

3 (4½) cups cake flour

4 (6) teaspoons baking powder

1 (1½) teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

150 (225) ml cocoa (the darkest you can find)

2 (3) cups sugar

Pinch of salt

2 (3) cups boiled water

1 (1½) cup oil

50 (75) ml vinegar

2 (3) teaspoons vanilla essence

best chocolate cake

Just enough vanilla frosting for the naked look:

200g butter, VERY soft but not melted

400g icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

To finish:

Flowers or other decorations of your choice (we used begonia and eucalyptus)

 

METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 180ºC and prepare your baking tins by lining with greaseproof paper (or cupcake wrappers if you’re opting for cupcakes and wrapping in Bake Even strips.

Instructions for the cake:

  • Sift & mix all the dry ingredients in your mixer bowl.
  • Combine all the wet ingredients in your heat-proof bowl.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix on low until well combined.
  • Pour the mixture into your prepared tins/cupcake wrappers, making sure they’re about equal depth.

Note: If you’re using different sized tins as I did, the cakes will obviously bake at different speeds.  I decided it would be less disruptive to the baking process to quickly add the smaller cakes to the oven mid-bake than it would be to test them and have to possibly put them back.  This worked well for me.

Baking times:

  • Put the largest tins in the oven first and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Once 25 minutes has passed, quickly add the smaller tins to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes.
  • After this time, check all by inserting a skewer or sharp knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. If any of the cakes need a little longer, extend the bake by 5 minutes at a time until done.
  • Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Instructions for the frosting:

  • Combine all the ingredients in your electric mixer and mix very well. The more you beat the frosting, the lighter it will become!

To assemble:

  • Start by levelling cakes where necessary, then sandwiching the two large cakes with a little frosting.

  • Place a blob of frosting in the middle of the top tier and spread to cover an area roughly the size of the next cake, then position the mid-size tier.
  • Again, create an area of frosting roughly the size of the smallest tier and position your final cake on top.
  • Once all the tiers are assembled, proceed to apply a very thin coat of frosting all over. You may, like me, find this counter-intuitive… I’m so used to always trying to cover a cake impeccably.

  • Decorate to your liking.

If you choose to add flowers to your cake, here are a few tips!

best chocolate cake

  • Choose flowers that are safe to come into contact with food. Things like roses are perfect, or other edible flowers.
  • Just to be safe, use straws to keep the stems away from the cake. Burn the ends of the straws and pinch it to create a closed tube.
  • To ensure that the flowers stay fresh and pretty, decorate the cake just before serving.

best chocolate cake

best chocolate cake

best chocolate cake

Cook’s notes:

* I made the recipe up 1½ times (see quantities in brackets) and I used two 21cm cake tins, one 15cm cake tin and a 10cm tin. My large tins have loose bottoms, so I didn’t line their sides, but I seriously recommend lining the sides of any tin without a loose bottom.

** Bake Even strips help achieve level cakes with minimal doming.  If you don’t have proper Bake Even strips, you can use dampened tea towels or strips cut from old towels.  Simply fasten them around your tin with paper clips.  I actually did this for my two smaller pans as I only have two strips… it worked a charm!

*** For this “naked finish”, I used a simple vanilla frosting, but I’m including the chocolate frosting recipe for you anyway as that’s what I normally use.  The recipe, made up once, will make one tray-bake or a decent twin layered round cake using 21cm tins, or it yields 48 cupcakes.  To make enough chocolate frosting for a 2-tiered round cake, combine 400g butter (VERY soft but not melted), 800g icing sugar (sifted) and 80ml cocoa.  Mix very well as per vanilla frosting instructions above.

best chocolate cake

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Boozy Meringue-topped Trifle for Non-Trifle-Lovers!

This month, Germarie asked me to make a trifle that went with her theme of playful things that are a little bit out of the box, a little bit different, something definitely fun. Thank goodness for that, because I’m no trifle fan! There’s something about the texture of the cake crumbs together with the other moist ingredients that just don’t do it for me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it’s served cold, as I have no problem with sticky toffee pudding and custard for example. But trifle? No. I find it more than just a trifle off-putting. So I embarked on a quest for a non-traditional trifle-type dessert that resulted in this deliciously boozy, meringue-topped trifle version of a recipe I found. Omitting the alcohol and sticking to normal jelly would obviously make this an ideal child-friendly dessert. Whichever way you decide to go, rainbow away and enjoy!

Boozy Meringue-topped Trifle for Non-Trifle-Lovers

YOU WILL NEED

Equipment: An electric mixer/food processor, whisk, 1 small and 1 medium saucepan, sugar thermometer, heat-proof bowls, trifle dish

INGREDIENTS

For the boozy peach jelly:
125ml hot water
20ml gelatine granules
375ml peach Schnapps
375ml cold water
Few drops orange gel colour

For each of the other jellies:
Pre-packed jelly mixes in your choice of colours

For the custard:
45ml Custard powder (Moir’s in my case)
45ml sugar
500ml milk

For the meringue:
85ml sugar
63ml water
2 egg whites
30ml caster sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp vanilla essence

METHOD

Instructions for the boozy jelly:
• Pour the hot water into a large bowl, then add the gelatine granules.
• Stir briskly with a fork until dissolved.
• Add the peach schnapps and cold water, then mix thoroughly.
• Refrigerate uncovered until set.

Instructions for the other jellies (according to packet instructions, which are in my case):
• Dissolve contents of packet in 225ml boiling water – stir well until no more granules are visible.
• Add 225ml of cold water and mix thoroughly.
• Refrigerate uncovered until set.

Instructions for the custard*:
• Measure out 500ml milk in a measuring jug, then pour all but about 50ml into a small saucepan.

• Mix 45ml custard powder and 45ml sugar with the 50ml milk in the jug.
• Bring the remaining 450ml to the boil in a saucepan.
• Once it’s boiled, pour the hot milk into the custard mixture, while stirring well.
• Return the mixture to the saucepan and bring to a slow boil while stirring continuously, until the desired thickness is reached.
• Remove from heat and allow to cool.*

 

To assemble:

• Remove all chilled jellies from the fridge, then stir each with a fork to break up the jelly.
• Choose the first two that will go at the bottom of the trifle, then layer them in the trifle dish in the order of your preference. Start from the sides and work inwards, evening out each layer as much as possible before starting on the next.
• After 2 jelly layers, add a layer of custard.
• Top with the remaining 2 jellies.
• Return trifle dish to the fridge.

Instructions for the meringue:
• Place sugar and water in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
• Bring to a boil while stirring, but stop stirring once the mixture boils. Monitor the temperature, ensuring it reaches 120ºC.
• Whisk egg whites, caster sugar & cream of tartar to soft peaks.
• Very slowly, while beating, pour the hot sugar syrup in a very thin stream over beaten egg whites.
• Continue beating until egg whites are stiff and glossy.
• Remove trifle dish from the fridge, then dollop the Italian meringue over the set trifle and use a blowtorch to brown the edges of the meringue.

Cook’s notes:
* You could, of course, use shop bought custard, but I prefer the taste of homemade. At least the homemade-from-powder variety… if you’re an all-out kitchen goddess, I’m sure your made-from-scratch egg custard will work wonderfully!
* I’ve opted for medium thickness custard so that the custard layer won’t run into the jelly layers below it. But you can tailor your custard to your preference.

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