BAKING: A Choctastic Torte (Meg Rivers Home Baking)

So, on this journey of kitchen experiments I have apparently found myself on – I decided to bake a torte. I have never baked a torte and was unsure what it was supposed to look/taste like but it was the only thing in the cook book that I could successfully travel from Essex to London for a dinner party.

Taken from the beautiful and comforting Meg Rivers Home Baking cook book, this recipe is all about simplicity, chocolate and great taste (who wouldn’t want to bake something that tasted like Nutella?)

The ingredients were pretty straight forward…
100g whole, balanced hazelnuts
250g dark/bittersweet chocolate (I used Menier Dark Cooking Chocolate)
100g salted butter
6 eggs
1/2 cream of tartar
120g caster sugar

For the ganache topping…
200g dark/bittersweet chocolate (I used Menier Dark Cooking Chocolate)
125g salted butter
4 tablespoons of whole, blanched hazelnuts

23cm round cake tin (for the first time in my life I actually had the correct sized cake tin!)

Baking

Firstly, please be warned – DO NOT BUY UN-BLANCHED HAZELNUTS UNLESS YOU ENJOY PAINSTAKINGLY PEELING 200G OF HAZELNUTS ONE BY ONE I made this error and I began to hate the torte before I even started to bake. Don’t make the same mistake as me, hunt down those blanched hazelnuts.

It was a fairly simple recipe (which I can post on here if anyone needs?) and turned out to be a pleasure to bake. My mum has a troublesome oven but we powered on and I got a great consistency with the torte which I was pleased with, although, it did taste a little ‘torte’ and I’m not sure if the chocolate I used was too dark?

Ta Da!

Be warned, this is very chocolatey. It’s not Devil Cake level but you definitely need a 30min break after dinner before you can tackle a slice. The hazelnuts come through beautifully which does give a lovely mature edge to the torte – this would be a hit with the guys also!
The ganache recipe is also a great one, very simple and effective although mine did require some cooling just to get a good spreading consistency. I also recommended getting some double cream to serve with to take off the edge.

This torte got many thumbs up – a recommended recipe! (Again, happy to post step by step if someone wants 🙂 )

Zealand Coffee – Roman Road, London

One of my favourite coffee shops EVER is Zealand on Roman Road, Bethnal Green.

I used to come here a lot a few years ago when my sister, who introduced me to Zealand, lived in Bethnal Green. I forgot how much I loved it!

Mr A. and I decided to take stroll and grab a coffee and bite to eat for breakfast (at 1pm ha)
The decision to go to Zealand was THE BEST DECISION WE MADE ALL WEEK.

This place is effortlessly cool, a little on the small side (not nice to sit outside when it’s cold!) and of course very rustic and healthy. The menu is so simple and the food is delicious – I do love a place with a small menu, always means that they can nail what they have on there!

We ordered two flat whites and had to sit outside for a bit while we waited for a comfy seat inside.

Coffee & menu

I went for the ‘brie, mixed leaves & caramelised onion granary s/w’ and of course, I added bacon – they had to put it on flat bread though as they had run out of granary (which totally made it better in my eyes!) Mr A. went for the ‘avo toast with chili flakes & lemon’ and also added bacon (I don’t like chili or flakes but I’ve been told this combo is one of the best known to man – and probably, if you have been to AUS or NZ,  you are  hooked anyway)

Avo

The staff could do with being a little bit nicer but hey ho. Maybe it’s not cool to be nice?!

Of course we finished it off with cake and of course it was a flour less chocolate & orange cake BUT IT WAS SO DARN TASTY.

£19 for all of that and a fresh mint tea…not the cheapest but a definite must visit.


BAKING: A Fabulous Flower Pot Cake ROUND 2

The big day came along (Mothers Day) and it was time for me to make my Fabulous Flower Pot Cake all over again.

I made a few fundamental changes to my Fabulous Flower Pot Cake – Trial Run

HERE ARE MY CHANGES IN AN EASY TO READ LIST 🙂

1. Instead of a Rich Chocolate cake, I baked a Madeira cake (which was utterly DELISH)
This was much better idea as the rich chocolate cake literally made your face sweat as it was so intense.

2. To avoid the whole fridge drama (cakes don’t like being in the fridge but cream cheese frosting does!) I decided to make a butter cream for the flowers on top.
Unfortunately, butter cream (for some reason, could be my creaming skills) doesn’t create a smooth edge when piped into a flower shape. Which looks messy. And I wish I had stuck with the cream cheese frosting.

Cake step by step
3. I made a fresh strawberry butter cream for the filling and the crumb coating – it was SO tasty but a little running.
I didn’t dry the strawberries after washing and in hindsight I realised I probably should have. I used some of the left over strawberry butter cream to pipe some of the flowers and it was a nightmare as it was so runny! oops.

4. I did use double the fondant icing and it made the whole cake look 100% better than before! yay! And I made the brown myself (with red & green food dye so I was proud eh!)

Overall, the cake was a success! I do wish I had pipped the flowers on more neatly  but I was having some issues with thickness of butter creams etc. and slowly losing the will to live so they got a bit messy. I was pleased with the end product and my biggest critics, the fam, seemed to be pleased also! Horrah!

Final cake
P.S. I am LOVING using all of my new fancy baking tools 🙂