Blueberry and pistachio cake with coffee cardamom cream

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I’ve decided I really needed to get blogging again. I took this decision a few months ago and now spent quite some time figuring out where to schedule it in. Not that it takes much time, but one of my agenda points highlighted as a main priority these days is “twin boy management” (boss sometimes seems to differ). As with most things, I handle this quite well if I do say so myself so I manage to find some spare time as well, but lying on the couch has recently become a new hobby of mine… it’s a bit like what some people get at the gym (so I’m told), it really becomes addictive!

Anyway, today I found the solution: blogging from my mobile while lying on the couch! The boys are doing fine by the way, taking a nap as we speak (either that or doing something they are not supposed to – in any case, it’s quiet).

Ever since having them nearly a year ago, I haven’t stopped baking, I just stopped writing about it. I already used to go for the quick-and-dirty-chuck-it-all-in-a-bowl recipes a lot in the past and even more so now. Also, baking became a multi-step (and sometimes even multi-day) process, where I add an ingredient to the bowl, hand back a toy (that is immediately thrown back on the floor), add some more ingredients, prepare a bottle, preheat the oven… you get the point.

Anyway, back to food: I baked this cake for our family easter lunch. It’s not our traditional easter bake. That’s made of layers of milk-soaked cookies and coffee buttercream and an absolute favourite of my parents and grandparents. But I don’t like it and neither do my siblings and as I was in charge of dessert we didn’t see it this year. However, easter without buttercream is just no real easter according to my mum, so I came up with this solution: a light and fruity cake with the all important buttercream! Luckily I took a picture before everyone arrived as not a single crumb remained after the meal! Here’s how to make it:

Melt 175g butter and leave to cool. Heat oven to 160C and lightly grease and line the base of 2 x 20cm sandwich tins with baking parchment. Grease the tins again, dust with a little caster sugar and a little flour, then tap out any excess.

Put 4 eggs and 225 g golden caster sugar in a heatproof bowl and, using an electric whisk, mix briefly to combine. Place the bowl over a pan of steaming water and continue to whisk until the mixture is pale and thick – when the whisk is lifted, the mixture should leave a trail on the surface lasting about 5 secs. This will take about 5 to 10 mins. Remove the bowl from the pan and continue beating for 2 mins.

Continue to whisk the mixture while trickling the melted butter around the edge of the bowl. Sift in 200g self-raising flour and 85g ground pistachios, very gently give the mixture 2-3 folds, then add 100g blueberries and fold again, being careful not to knock out all the air. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 25-30 mins, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

To make the buttercream, beat 250g softened butter and 200g icing sugar together with 2 egg yolks. Add 1 tablespoon instant coffee, diluted in 3 tablespoons water, and the crushed seeds of 6 cardamom pods and beat until combined.

Cool cakes in their tins for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack. Remove lining paper when completely cooled. Sandwich the cakes together with the coffee cardamom cream, and spread some more on the top and around the sides. You can also decorate it with pistachios and blueberries.

Enjoy!

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Dairy-free and gluten-free: blueberry and coconut cake

dairy-free and gluten-free blueberry and coconut cakeThis weekend my in-laws came to visit but despite of the heat, we managed to keep our cool. My sister-in-law is on a dairy-free and gluten-free diet since a few months, so that was a new challenge for me. But I like a good challenge, and I went in search for a nice cake recipe. I found this one on the GoodFood website as a dairy-free recipe and it was easily adapted to make it gluten-free as well. It went down a treat and my sister-in-law went home with the few left-overs! Here’s how to make it:

Heat the oven to 160C and grease a 22 cm Bundt or ring tin with vegetable oil (I used sunflower). Whisk 250 ml sunflower oil, 3 eggs, 225 g sugar and 2 tsp vanilla extract in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine 300 g gluten-free flour, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (or use self-raising flour) and 50 g desiccated coconut. Alternately, fold the flour mix and 175 ml soya milk into the wet ingredients, in 2-3 batches, starting and ending with the flour.

Spoon a quarter into the tin. Fold 140 g blueberries (they can be fresh or frozen, I prefer frozen as they break up more and give a blue colour and more flavour to the cake) into the remaining batter, then spoon into the tin. Bake for 1 h or until a skewer comes out clean (cover the cake with tin foil if it browns too quickly).

Cool in tin for 10 min, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Dust with icing sugar to serve. Enjoy!

Ready for summer: polenta, orange and blueberry loaf

orange and blueberry loafI’ve been away from my blog for a few weeks and with good reason: I was on holiday! And yes, the weather was nice, we had a great time, we visited a lot but managed to relax and as always it was way too short… The relaxed feeling was gone all too quickly once I struggled through the pile of mails at work so it’s back to another relaxing hobby: baking. By now you probably realised that blueberries, along with raspberries, are among my favourite fruits and in this cake they almost pop in your mouth as you eat it. I found the recipe in a recent GoodFood magazine and as always it tasted delicious.

First, heat the oven to 140 C and line a loaf tin with baking parchment. Put 100 g polenta, 200 g self-raising flour, 140 g sugar, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 140 g softened butter and the zest of 1 orange into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. If you don’t have a food processor or if, like mine, it decided to break down, just get your hands in it and rub the butter through the mixture until you get the same result (it won’t take long, I promise). Combine the juice of 1/2 orange with 1 egg, then pour this into the dry ingredients and pulse until the mixture forms a ball of dough (or get your hands in it again to achieve the same result).

Push half the dough into the lined tin and scatter with half of 200 g blueberries. Cover the berries with the remaining dough and finish with the remaining berries. Bake for 1h10 until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 min before transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely before eating. If you want, you can freeze the cake (or pieces of it) as well: wrap in a double layer of foil and pop in the freezer. Defrost for at least 3 h before eating. Enjoy while listening to Summernights, the ultimate Grease classic.

More blueberry recipes

> Blueberry cheesecake gateau
> Blueberry crumble cheesecake
> Blueberry muffins
> Blueberry pancakes
> Summer fruit cake

Use up your polenta: light lemon drizzle cake

Fast, fresh and simple: blueberry muffins

Blueberry muffinsI absolutely love blueberry muffins, so I have already tried several recipes to get that moist texture full of blueberries. I firmly believe it should not be a nice cake with some blue dots here and there were the berries are, it should be blue all the way. And I finally found a recipe that delivers on that and it’s fast and simple as well! I’ve been watching some episodes of Donna Hay‘s Fast, Fresh and Simple, which is were I saw her make this recipe. As an Australian, she cooks using cups. I’ve translated it in European weights, but I’m adding the cup indications as well as it’s even easier for those who use them. Finally, this really is a store cupboard recipe as well, so it’s great for a lazy Sunday, like mine!

First, preheat the oven to 180 C and line a muffin tin with paper cases. In a bowl, mix 375 g self-raising flour (2 and 1/2 cups) with 220 g caster sugar (1 cup)  and 1 tsp baking powder. As usual, don’t bother sieving it. Make a well in the center and add 125 ml vegetable oil (1/2 cup) – you can use sunflower oil for example, if using olive oil, use one with a neutral taste otherwise it will taste through in your muffins – 125 ml milk (1/2 cup – I always use semi-skimmed, but you can use whole milk as well, just take what’s in your fridge), 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla extract (or the seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod). Give the liquids a good stir to break up the egg yolk and bring the dough together in a few stirs. Now add 300 g frozen blueberries and stir again to disperse them evenly. Distribute the dough over the 12 muffin cases and give them a good sprinkle of granulated sugar for that extra crunchy top layer. Put in the oven for 30-35 min until golden brown and springy to the touch. Enjoy!

Great combination: blueberry crumble cheesecake

Blueberry crumble cheesecakeContrary to me, my brother is not a dessert kinda guy. So when I was recently invited for a delicious barbecue, I knew that dessert would not be part of the menu so I brought the solution myself! And my brother absolutely loved and didn’t object at all to keeping the left-overs! I found this recipe in a recent issue of Olive magazine that I got as part of my birthday present from a friend.

The original recipe by John Torode is made with blackberries but I went for blueberries instead. You can of course opt for a mix of fruit or other fruits such as strawberries instead. This recipe is really easy to make, it just takes a bit more time than throwing everything together, but beating some biscuits to crumbs while pretending it’s that annoying colleague can’t really be called “work” now can it…

First, make the base by crushing 200 g digestive biscuits (I used petit beurres). Stir in 50 g ground hazelnuts (I used almonds instead) and 125 g melted butter. Line the base of a 23 cm spring tin with the biscuit mix and pack it well with the back of a spoon or just use your hands. Butter the sides and chill in the fridge for half an hour while you make the filling.

Heat the oven to 140 C. Whisk 90 g caster sugar with 300 g soft cheese (I used “Campina De Brabander”). Separate 2 eggs and slowly add the egg yolks one at the time to the cheese mix while whisking all the time until combined. Whisk in 300 g soured cream. If you don’t have sour cream, you can substitute for more soft cheese, but be sure to add the juice of half a lemon as well in that case. I didn’t have enough sour cream so I used 200 g soured cream, 400 g soft cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice instead.

In a clean bowl, whisk the two egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff (you need to be able to turn the bowl upside down and keep it over your head, and this is not a joke! If you can’t do that, keep beating!). Add 85 g caster sugar a spoonful of the time, whisking between each addition until stiff and glossy. Mix the meringue into the soft cheese mix, you can be quite vigorous so don’t worry about knocking the air out.

Pour a good layer of the cheese mix on the biscuit base and drop in a few blueberries (you need 200 g blueberries in total, save half for the crumble). Repeat the process until all the mix and 100 g of the blueberries have been used. Cook in the oven for 20 min.

In the meantime, make the crumble topping by whizzing 100 g plain flour in a food processor with a pinch of salt and 50 g chilled butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Toss with 50 g sugar and the remaining 100 g blueberries. After 20 min, gently take the cheesecake half out of the oven and scatter the crumble mix on top. Return to the oven and bake for another 40 min. If it’s still too wobbly for your liking, leave to cool the cheesecake in the oven, otherwise take it out and leave to cool completely in the tin before serving (don’t worry if it cracks, the crumble will mask it). Enjoy!

Bake it your way: summer fruit cake

Blueberry cakeHere’s the situation: you were going to bake a nice elaborate tart for a birthday party, but it turned out you missed some vital ingredient and it was sold out in the local supermarket. By the time a solution was found, there was no more time to bake it, so here came plan B: this delicious summer fruit drizzle cake! I found the recipe in the latest GoodFood magazine, and it was an instant hit. What’s great about this recipe, is that you can put whatever fruit in it you want! So it’s a great way to get rid of those apples lying around. I went for the blueberry version, but here are some other fruit suggestions: apricots, blackberries, nectarines, peaches, plums, raspberries, a mix of berries, redcurrants or blackcurrants, apples, pears, strawberries… the list goes on and on! Make sure to dice the larger fruits and you’re good to go.

Preheat the oven to 160 C. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment. Put 175 g very soft butter, 175 g caster sugar, 250 g self-raising flour, 2 eggs and 2 tsp vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 5 min until pale and creamy. The mixture will be very thick.

Spread one-third of the cake mix into the tin, then scatter over 50 g of the fruit (you’ll need 175 g fruit in total). Carefully spread another third of the cake mix on top and scatter with another 50 g fruit. Finally, add the rest of the cake mix and level the top with the back of a spoon. Bake for 1 hour, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

In the mean time, put the remaining 75 g of fruit in a bowl with 140 g sugar and 2 tbsp citrus juice (I used lime, but you can use lemon or orange juice as well). Stir with a fork, mashing the fruit a little as you go. When the cake comes out of the oven, poke it all over with a skewer and spoon the fruit and sugar mix on top. Leave in the tin until the cake is cool and the topping is set and crisp. If you prefer, you can also freeze the cake (without the topping).

This is definitely going to become a much used recipe to get rid of any ripe fruit! I can’t tell you how long it will remain fresh… it got eaten to quickly!

Yummie blueberry cakes

Blueberry cakes
Blueberry cakes

I’m a huge fan of blueberry muffins. In Belgium, they’re not easy to find (not if you want a really tasty one that is) so it’s always the first thing I buy when I get to London (and the second, and third…). My Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook contains a blueberry muffin recipe, and as I haven’t got a trip to London planned in the near future, I decided it was time to give the recipe a go. The result was delicious, but it wasn’t a muffin, more a cute little cake as you can see in the picture. Although that’s probably due to the fact that I used a cupcake tin instead of a muffin tin… another item to add on my wish list!

Preheat the oven to 170 C and line a 12-hole muffin tray (american size, which is bigger then UK size) with paper cases. Put 360 g plain flour, 370 g caster sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda in a bowl and mix on slow speed (the recipe suggest using an electric mixer but I did it by hand to avoid the cloud of dust – and also because I was lazy: my whisks where in the dishwasher and I didn’t feel like washing them by hand. In the end I thought my arm would fall off at any time, so maybe the electric option as the recipe suggest is not so bad after all). Put 375 ml buttermilk, 1 egg and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract in a jug and mix to combine. Slowly pour into the flour mixture and beat until all the ingredients are incorporated. Pour in 70 g melted butter and beat until it has just been incorporated, then turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat until the dough is even and smooth. Finally, gently fold in 250 g blueberries with a wooden spoon until evenly dispersed.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 min, or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. You can store them in a box to keep all week, but don’t put the box in the sun as I did, that makes them get really really sticky (but still good!). Enjoy!