Sunday, September 25, 2011

nah-ni-mo bars

CAAAANADAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!! Last week I went to my one and only 2011 Rugby World Cup match, between Canada and Tonga. I think half the town must've turned up to see the game but  even so, I like to think that not one of those 17,000 people brought homemade Nanaimo bars. Or antlers and a red nose.

Nanaimo bars are, of course*, native to the harbour City of Nanaimo and they're uber sweet; pretty much just a chocolate base covered with a layer of thick vanilla icing, finished with a chocolate top. Whoo! I thought they sounded really sweet but the recipe was endorsed by the City of Nanaimo so I didn't really have a choice; they had to be made the Nanaimo way!

Most people thought they were great but a few found them too sweet - not surprising as the middle layer is pretty much sugar held together with butter. I'm glad I made them though, just to taste the almost real thing.

I took my camera to the game but didn't really have the time to take photos (priority was given to trying to shout over Tongan supporters) and the one time I took a photo, I didn't check to see if I'd turned the auto-focus back on. What a dork.

Nanaimo bars are circled, being enjoyed. Have no idea how NOTHING in this photo
managed to get in focus.

Nanaimo Bars
Adapted from City of Nanaimo

Even though I was dedicated to the traditional recipe, I couldn't help but add a pinch of salt to the base and to make it a bit easier to cook the base - I wasn't so keen on chocolate scrambled eggs!

Layer Un
4oz unsalted butter
pinch salt
1/4 cup sugar
5 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups crumbed graham wafers (aka Digestives)
1/2 cup roughly chopped sliced almonds

In a small pan, gently heat butter, salt, sugar and cocoa, stirring constantly, until butter has melted and merged with the other ingredients. It should be a hot mix so take it off the heat and let it cool down for 5 minutes.

Quickly whisk the beaten egg into the chocolate and put back on a low heat. Continue stirring the mixture until it begins to thicken. I actually used a temp. probe to make sure it didn't go over 80C (cooking the egg while avoiding the scrambled horror).

Quickly stir in the rest of the ingredients and push into an ungreased 8 by 8inch square baking pan (I tinfoiled mine beforehand to make sure it came out easily).

Layer Deux
4oz unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cream
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Cream everything together and beat until light. Spread over first layer.

Layer Trois
4oz semi-sweet chocolate (I used 50% cocoa)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Melt chocolate and butter over a low heat, stirring constantly. Cool until cool as possible while still maintaining its pourability! Spread over second layer and chill until set.

Rough edges need to be trimmed off and eaten by the chef

*I sound like I've always known everything about Nanaimo when really I just google mapped it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cake Slice Bakers: Cheddar Cheese and Apple Cake

I read the name of this cake and thought it was just craziness; the product of a recipe writer who's cracked under the pressure of cake.

Yum yum! Also, that's the hand of a 21 YEAR OLD. uuuuuuugh.......

So I told people at school about it and they were all, "Oh, you should try cheese on slices of apple" and I was all, "Yes, I know of that combination but this is a cake" and they were like "Oh, you should try cheese with grapes" and I was all, "Fine. I'll make it." And they were all, "Oh, you should try marmite and apple" and I was like, "uuum" and someone was all, "you should try peanut butter and cheese!" and I was just like, "No."

So I made it and it was surprisingly good! It was pleasantly sweet with a nice tang and not full of melted cheese like I'd subconsciously imagined. A good word for it might be refreshing... It had a nice texture too so all in all, a nice cake.

Sad stuff now:

No. 1 - To share this cake with those cheese/pear/grapes/etc. fans, I cleverly protected it from my feline housemates by wrapping it up in three layers of clingfilm. Which of course they very cleverly ripped off in the dead of night for the sole purpose of licking all the icing sugar off the top.

Can't prove it but here's the suspected Cake Licker. I'm watching him...

No. 2 - this is my last CSBers post :( I've already gone through the new book they're going to bake from so I'm not so keen on going through it again. Good luck and happy baking to the continuing, and new, CSBers! You've been fabulous to bake with and I know where you are online now :)

Cheddar Cheese and Apple Cake
Adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking cornmeal/polenta
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4oz unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
6 tablespoons milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 large tart apple (I used a Granny Smith), peeled, cored and cut into 1cm (or 1/4inch) dice

Preheat oven to 175C/350F. Grease and dust a 9inch round cake pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Thoroughly mix in eggs, one at a time. Stir in half of the flour until just mixed in. Stir in milk. Stir in rest of flour until just incorporated. Carefully stir in cheese and apple.

Pour into prepared pan, smooth top, and bake until the cake is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes then cool completely, right way up, on a wire rack.

Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Store cake away from sneaky cats in a sealed container at room temp for up to two days.