NIGELLA’S LOVE BUNS

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
― Winston Churchill
One thousand people looked at the Reluctant Chef’s facebook page and hit like! One thousand! Sounds so good I think I’ll walk around this otherwise dreary Monday morning saying it over and over again to myself. One thousand!

We’ve had lots and lots of cakes up on this blog and not all that many cupcakes so I thought we could celebrate “one thousand” with a week’s worth of cupcake recipes. As you can see from my amateurly put together collage up top, it’s going to be quite a line up. I’m pretty sure I’ve got a recipe for everyone’s tastes. We’re going to have:

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Coffee Muffins with Brown Butter Streudel
Pound Cupcakes with Brown Butter Glaze
Classic Banana Cupcakes with Honey Cinnamon Frosting; and of course
Nigella’s Love Buns

Chocoholics can relax. Since a cupcake is basically just a baby cake you can easily plop cake batter into your muffin tray and end up with a whole pile of cupcakes. And vice versa. Bake this cupcake batter in a larger dish and you’ll have cakes. So I didn’t bother trying out anything chocolate since I already know this dense, fudgey chocolatey explosion would make the perfect chocolate cupcakes. Prefer a chocolate muffin? Try these.

So getting to the love buns (name and recipe from Nigella) these are perfect to start off this cupcake party. So bright and cheerful they might even cure my monday morning blues.

Makes 12
I think the name makes it quite obvious where I got the recipe
What you’ll need:

For your buns

125 gms softened butter
125 gms powdered sugar
125 gms flour
3 eggs
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla essence
3 – 4 tbsp milk

For the icing

3 egg whites
4 tbsp honey
75 gms icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
Sprinkles

How to:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Pop all the ingredients for the buns into a large bowl and mix, mix, mix till you have a smooth batter.

3. Butter up your cupcake tray or line with cupcake liners. Divide up the batter between the slots in the tray.

4. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes till they’ve nicely risen and they’ve cooked through. Stick a toothpick in to check and see if it comes out clean. Let them cool once they’re done.

5. For the topping, you’ll need to put together a double broiler – heat a pan with water and put a bowl on top of this that fits snugly into the first pan.

6. With the water barely simmering, put in your egg whites and honey and start to whisk till you have a gleaming white paste. Add the sugar slowly and whisk some more – it should hold peaks. This will probably take ATLEAST 5 minutes of whisking.

Foodnote: Okay so I never find this very easy. Things you have to keep in mind (1) don’t let the water get too hot or the eggs will cook, (2) can’t do this without an electric whisk, (3) this takes a while and you need to be careful that your whisk doesn’t tip the hot water over so be very patient – it will be worth it.

7. Take the bowl off the pan and keep whisking to cool the mixture down. Add the vanilla.

8. Smear the cupcake over with topping and swirl it around the best you can. Add the sprinkles immediately and let them set.

LAYER CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE AND CUSTARD FILLING

“I suppose I wanted to have my cake and eat it.
But then again, what were you going to do with your cake if not eat it?
Frame it?
Use it as a sachet in your underwear drawer?”
― Marian Keyes, Watermelon
 
 For the Reluctant Chef celebrates 500 facebook likes! Since the Reluctant Chef likes nothing more than celebrating pretty much anything we’re going to party it up with this over the top double layer cake with chocolate ganache and custard filling.

Thank you to all those people who keep checking in to see what’s going on with the world’s smallest food blog. Thank you also for all those spambots trying to sell me hemarroid cream and anti-depressant medication who I suspect make up a large portion of the hits Blogger is counting. Thank you all! I’d like to repay you with the recipe for this elaborate cake  – it’s definitely meant for an occassion.

I love that this cake has so much random stuff going on. There’s a layer of cake! Ooh there’s another layer! Oh my god is that chocolate on top? Is the whole thing stuffed with custard?! Yes! Yes! This is all true. If you have fruit/candy/sprinkes/nuts on hand you can thrown them on here and turn this into a real carnival. Don’t hold back! The time for restraint was gone the moment you decided to bake this.

Serves atleast 8
Adapted from Nigella Lawson

What you’ll need:

For the cake

200 gm flour
3 tbsp custard powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
5 eggs
225 gm melted butter
200 gm caster sugar
3 tbsp milk

For the filling

125 gm sugar
4 tsp custard powder
75 gm butter
¼ cup boiling water

For the icing

200 gm chocolate
3 tbsp water
*sprinkles if you want to decorate some more*

How to:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter 2 equal sized dishes. Put aside.

2. Put all the ingredients for the sponge cake together and blend. Divide equally between the 2 pans and bake for 20 mins.

Note: The best way to do this is to usually sift all the dry ingredients together, then add the eggs, then the butter and to whisk everything well. Add the milk last to make the batter wetter.

3. Once your cakes are baked – leave them out to cool for a little while.

4. While the cakes are cooling, plunk in all the ingredients for the custard filling and whisk really well. Make sure the water is really hot so the custard powder dissolves and you don’t have a powdery residue left on your tongue while eating the filling.

5. Spread the custard filling generously between the two cakes and stick them together. No need to be very neat, a little of the bright yellow custard oozing out between the sponge adds colour.

6. Melt the chocolate in a pan and add water or heavy cream if you need to liquefy the chocolate some more. Once melted pour on top of the custard sponge sandwich you’ve created.

7. Decorate some more if you want.

NEW YORK STYLE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

“Exercise is a dirty word. Every time I hear it I wash my mouth out with chocolate.”
― Charles M. Schulz
300 people like For the Reluctant Chef! Celebrating today with a history lesson on cheesecakes!

That the ancient Greeks came up with what we today call the cheesecake makes me marvel at what a glorious and evolved race they were. The Greek physician Aegimus even wrote a book on the art of making cheesecake. Like their ideas on philosophy and politics I think people realized the Greeks knew what they were talking about and before you knew it everyone had gotten on board the cheesecake train.

The basic cheesecake is made of fresh cheese, eggs, sugar and topped sometimes with fruit or chocolate but almost every country has it’s own interpretation. New Yorkers use heavy cream or sour cream and twice bake their versions while the French have come up with a much lighter cake made of Neufchatel Cheese and gelatin as the binder. South Americans like to top it up with marmalade (guava in Brazil and strawberries in Argentina) while the English, Australians and Belgians don’t bother to bake their adaptation. The list goes on since cheesecakes are made on every continent (that has people) and almost every country.

This is a recipe for a rich, creamy and utterly delicious New York style chocolate cheesecake.

   
What you’ll need:

For the base

125 gm digestive biscuits
60 gms butter
1 tbsp cocoa powder

For the filling

175 gms dark chocolate

500 gms cream cheese
150 gms caster sugar
150 ml sour cream
1 tbsp custard powder
4 eggs
4 egg yolks
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp hot water

For the glaze (optional)

75 gms dark chocolate
70 ml cream

How to:

1. Smash the crumbs, cocoa and butter together to make a crumbly dough.

2. Press into an ovenproof dish evenly to make the base and pop in to the freezer.

3. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

4. Put the water to boil and melt the chocolate.

5. Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, custard powder. Then the eggs, the yolks and the sour cream. Finally the cocoa, hot water and melted chocolate. Beat till smooth.

6. Put the dish into a bigger dish that you can fill up halfway with just boiled water. Pour in the cheesecake filling. Bake with the hot water bath for about 45 minutes (till the top is firm).

Foodnote: Cheesecakes are really dense and continue to cook even after you take them out of the oven. The water bath helps to spread the heat evenly so they cook better and don’t crack up. You’ll see from the photo that mine went ahead and craked anyway but don’t worry it will continue to be scrumptious.

7. Let it cool out in the open and then let it set overnight in the fridge.

8. If you want to have a glaze on top of the cheesecake – melt the chocolate and cream and whisk till its smooth.

9. Drizzle the chocolate on top of the cheesecake and serve.

DANISH’S RICH CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

“Save the earth. It’s the only planet with chocolate.”  – Author Unknown

Chocolate. The only thing in life that is best when dark and bitter.

Speaking of dark and bitter. I’m sure you’ve guessed I really enjoy cooking. I wish I had more time to do it but since I don’t get home from work too early, my time in the kitchen is usually restricted to weekends. When it finally is the weekend, I really look forward to my kitchen time except for when I get around to working on a recipe I’ve set my heart on only to realize I’m missing an ingredient. I am SO tired of recipes with endless ingredients lists, the number of herbs and spices every cookbook needs you to buy and the expectation that you will have feta, ricotta and mascarpone readily available in your kitchen.

To record my protest against this phenomenon which requires every budding cook to spend all their time (and money) at expensive grocery stores buying vague-o ingredients with a carbon footprint the size of an adult bison I’m putting up this. An easy, relatively quick mousse recipe with 3 ingredients that works really, REALLY well.

Thank you Danish for the recipe!

Serves 2
Recipe from Danish Sheikh

What you’ll need:

70 gm dark chocolate (The darker the better. I just crumbled and melted Chokola’s 70% cocoa chocolate bar and it came out great.)
2 eggs
1 tsp sugar (powdered)

How to:

1. Separate the eggs. Keep the yolks aside.

2. Beat the whites till soft peaks form.

3. Melt the chocolate.

4. Into the melted chocolate, whisk the yolks in quickly. Then whisk in the egg whites 1/3 at a time. Make sure it’s all well amalgamated.

5. Spoon into 2 ramekins and set for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

6. Serve with whipped cream or without.

 

STRAWBERRY AND MASCARPONE TART

 
“A boy doesn’t have to go to war to be a hero; he can say he doesn’t like pie when he sees there isn’t enough to go around.” – E.W. Howe

A flaky pastry shell filled with light, creamy mascarpone all drenched in strawberries. Since this is the only season you’ll get fresh strawberries in India don’t let the chance go. This was my first experience with making pastry and it turns out, like most things that seem intimidating, when you get down to it – it isn’t that scary after all.

Happy Women’s Day.

 Serves 8
Adapted from Good Food Magazine

What you’ll need:

For the filling

250 gm mascarpone
150 gm hung curd [Just tie up some curd in a muslin cloth and let the excess water drip out till you have the thick white paste of hung curd left]
150 ml double cream
4 tbsp icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
500 gm strawberries (chopped)

For the crust

225 gm flour
100 gm butter (chilled and cut into little cubes)
Pinch of salt

How to:

Make the pastry

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.

2. Sift the flour into a bowl, add the butter and knead till you have a crumbly mixture. Add 2-3 tbsp chilled water to knead into a dough. Wrap in cling film and chill.

3. Roll out the pastry to coin size thickness and line your baking dish. Put a layer of foil on top and fill with baking beans (or just ordinary beans) and bake for fifteen minutes.

4. Take out the foil and beans and bake for another 15 minutes till the pastry is golden. Let it cool completely.

Make the filling

5. Beat the mascarpone, hung curd, cream, icing sugar and vanilla together. Fill into the cool pastry case.

6. Top with most of the chopped up strawberries. Stick in the fridge for atleast 2 hours.

7. Puree the rest of the strawberries and serve with the strawberry pulp drizzled on top.