Saturday, 25 June 2011

Che Bella Torta!


In all my excitement trying to eat all of the raspberries in the garden (they are still going), I have forgotten to let you in on my latest piece of news.
It's an idea that has floated around in my head for as long as I can remember, but it has only been since my visit to the Blue Door Bakery that I began to question why I wasn't doing what I really wanted to do with my life.

Have you guessed yet?

I've opened up my own little cake making and decorating company!
After weeks of careful consideration and a lot of suggestions, Bella Torta was born! The last couple of months have gone in a whirlwind of buying new equipment, testing out cake recipes, making sugar flowers and decorations and fussing about over a new website. I must just publicly thank my uncle I and aunty C for helping design such a fun little logo that now takes pride of place on a few aprons, letterheads and a rather fantastic self inking stamp. (No, I have not stamped everything in sight......).


I've already completed my first order - a box of cupcakes with buttercream swirls and various tiny handmade drugs for a doctors birthday and Ill be decorating a wedding cake this week with a very interesting theme. Pictures to follow..

Anyway, I'd really love for you to go and check out my website or facebook page to see what I've been up to. Of course, I wouldn't complain if you decided to put in an order either! Keep checking back too, because in the next couple of weeks I've got a very exciting piece of news that I'm finding it really, really hard to keep quiet about.


Thursday, 16 June 2011

An Abundance of Raspberries

We are drowning in raspberries. Every other day we are forced into the garden with a bowl to full with more and more of the little red jewels. It also seems that someone is fed up with the abundance of our new favourite fruit, and is less interested in picking and eating and more interested in squelching and stamping them into the floor. Oh dear.

Thankfully, I was able to get her to eat some in yet another raspberry and apricot themed dessert. This time, a galette without any sugar in the pastry to allow the natural sweetness in the fruits to shine through.

Raspberry and Apricot Galettes (apapted from Tartlette. Makes 5)

For the pastry dough
70g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 egg yolks
pinch salt
210g plain flour
2 tablespoons milk

For the fruits
5 apricots
2 tablespoons sugar
2 stems lemon balm
100g raspberries
75g caster sugar
6 leaves lemon balm
1 egg, beaten

For the pastry
In a mixer, whip the butter on medium speed until light and airy.
Add the egg yolks and pinch of salt and beat well after each addition, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. 
Mix in all of the flour and mix briefly to form breadcrumbs.
Add enough milk to bring the dough into a ball.
Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for an hour.

For the fruits
While the dough is resting, place the apricots, sugar and lemon balm stalks in a pan with enough water to cover them.
Set over a high heat and bring to a boil before reducing the heat and poaching the apricots until just tender.
Remove from the heat, strain, discarding the cooking liquid and now almost slimey leaves and let them cool on a clean kitchen towel.
Once cooled, peel and halve them, remove the stones and slice the peaches thin.

To assemble
Preheat oven to 180C.

When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board. If the dough tears while you roll, just patch it with your fingertips.
Cut eight 4-inch rounds, I used a saucer, rerolling and using the dough as you go (ig it gets too soft, just refrigerate for a few minutes as you fill the other galettes with fruit).
Arrange the slices of a whole apricot in the center of each round and gather the edges, pleating as you go with your fingertips (don't worry about being even - these are free form). Add the raspberries on top and sprinkle with sugar and some freshly chopped lemon balm leaves.
Place all the galettes on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush with beaten egg and bake for about 30-35 minutes

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

A Raspberry and Apricot Upside Down Cake

Suddenly, we are well and truly in the throws of summer. We wear short sleeves during the day, sometimes walk home from the restaurant in the light and are eating the first if the produce from our new garden. I have already mentioned how lucky we are to have bought a house with such an established garden. We have enjoyed the last of the years rhubarb now but our herbs are still very alive despite all the picking we do. It is not uncommon for one of us to take M out into the garden and come back with a few roses from one of the 18 bushes we have inherited (yes, you did read that right!) or a bunch of sage, thyme, marjoram to name a few.

Last week we gleefully noticed that our raspberries were deep red and bursting with juice. We ate them greedily straight off the bush.
This week we had been more restrained and managed to put off picking any for a few days so I would have enough to use them in something special. In the end, we had too many anyway, so found ourselves hoovering the remainder up while we waited for our cake to bake.

Raspberry and apricot upside down cake

5 ripe apricots
100g ripe raspberries
225g unwanted butter at room temperature
225g caster sugar
3 large eggs
2tbsp almond extract
300g self raising flour

Preheat the oven to gas Mark 3 1/2/ 170C.
Butter and flour the sides of a 25cm springform tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.
Beat the sugar and butter together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, each with a tbsp of flour and beat well.
Quickly beat in the almond extract, followed by the flour.
Halve and stone the apricots and lay then cut side up into the springform tin. Fill in the gaps between them with the raspberries, making sure the fruit is in a single layer.
Gently spoon the cake mixture out over the fruits.
Bake for 1 - 1 1/4 hours until a skewer comes out clean and the top is golden and springs back to the touch.
Rest the cake in it's tin for 5minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
Peel the paper off once cool and serve with yogurt or cream and some chopped pistachios or almonds.