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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Mr Puck-Tastic Chocolate Cake

Let me introduce my friend Kate's new puppy pug - Puck (or Mr Puck as he is now called)  He is one tough little solider, only weeks in to young life he developed a problem in his eye that caused it to cloud over and restrict his vision.  The vets worked really hard and at one point it looked like his eye might have to be removed.   With lots of love and support his eye slowly started to return to normal and it all seemed like he was getting better when Kate noticed his other eye (the good one) had started to develop similar problems.  A quick rush to the vets resulted in very bad news - it would be very unlikely that this eye would return to normal.  A few days later he was undergoing an operation to remove his eye...  

Thankfully he is now a very happy puppy and is always fighting with his sister and his eye seems to be healing well and his vision, although poor, is getting better.  

As a thank you to the vet Kate ask my help in baking a cake.  She had already researched online and came across a number of 'Pub Cakes', some much better (and less creepy) than others.   We decided to use a selection of ideas and build our own version, with eye patch.

The cake in the picture is a chocolate cake covered in a rich chocolate ganache and then decorated with fondant icing.  Not bad for a few hours work.  

The cake is from Great British Bake Off winner 'Jo Wheatley'.  In her book she simply tops with cake with crushed Malteasers.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Apple Tart with Salted Caramel and Hazelnuts

This tart is a bit of an experiment.  I had a bag of apples in the fridge that really needed using up and I couldn't be bothered to juice them.  I flicked through a couple of cookbooks and located a simple recipe of apple tart.  Simple being - make a pasty case, slice apples and arrange, bake, spread with apricot jam, eat.  I was just about to start making it when I remembered I had some hazelnuts that needed using up.  While hunting through the cupboard for the hazelnuts I knocked over the box of sea salt and I suddenly thought - salted caramel!

I had never made salted caramel before but I had tried it a number of times and liked it.  I think the last time was a salted caramel latte from Costa Coffee.  Anyway, it didn't take long to find a suitable recipe online for salted caramel sauce and after a little bit of playing around with the recipe I came up with this.

The tart was better the next day after the caramel had time to set.  Straight from the oven the apples had released quite a bit of juice and cutting the tart resulted in a puddle of sauce.  The next day however the caramel had set more and the juices soaked back in to the apple.

The pastry for this tart is baked along with the apples, but I brushed the uncooked pastry with egg to form a seal.  After an initial bake to soften the apples I poured over the caramel and baked for a further 20 minutes.

Salty and sweet...I didn't use any special apples for this, actually I was worried they would be too sweet, it worked and I am happy with it.