Tag Archives: citrus

ORANGE & HIBISCUS CAKE

hibiscus & orange cake

A little while ago I was given a big bag of dried hibiscus by a nice man from Honestea at the Smithsonian food festival. I knew I wanted to do more than just make a brew from it and it has sat patiently in my pantry whilst I’ve been distracted by all manner of festive goodies.

Now it can have my full attention though and I’ve chosen to try it out in an adaptation of my Greek yoghurt marble cake. It works really well, I think I like it even more than the chocolate version (and that’s saying something!) The colour of this is great, it’s a purple (almost blue) and orange cake without a single drop of food colouring in it. Amazing! Hibiscus has very tart, fruity flavour, not at all floral, as you might expect and the sweetness of the orange in this cake goes with it perfectly.
I’m looking forward to experimenting with the rest of the bag…

hibiscus & orange cake

Ingredients

zest and juice of 1 orange
15g dried hibiscus
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp hot water
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
150g sugar
75g butter, melted
150g fat-free Greek yoghurt
2 eggs

hibiscus & orange cake

Pre-heat your oven to 190°c and grease and line a loaf tin.
Warm the orange juice a little and use this to steep the hibiscus in a small dish. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the hot water and set it aside to cool.
Sift together the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl and then whisk the salt and sugar into it.
In a separate bowl or jug beat together the melted butter, Greek yoghurt and eggs, ensuring that they are well combined. Stir the bicarbonate of soda into this. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture. Use a rubber spatula to stir everything together, until it is just combined. You don’t want to over-mix things at this stage.

hibiscus & orange cake
Divide the mixture roughly in two and fold the orange zest into one half. Use a tea strainer or small mesh sieve to squeeze as much liquid as possible out the steeped hibiscus and discard the ‘leaves’. Pour this liquid (it should be at least a couple of tablespoons) into the other half of the batter and stir it together.
Gently marble the two batters together and then pour them into the prepared loaf tin. Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, until it is lovely and golden on top and a cake tester comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

hibiscus & orange cake

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WARM ORANGE ROASTED BEET SALAD WITH HARISSA GREEK YOGHURT

orange roasted beetroot salad

Just look at the colours of this. Deep purple, vibrant green and fiery oranges. How could you fail to be cheered up on a gloomy January day if you were presented with this? And that’s before your fork has even come close to your mouth!The beetroot is earthy but also sweet and sticky from the orange, the fiery harissa is instantly cooled by the rich, creamy, tart yoghurt, the pistachios add crunch and the thyme lends a savoury finish.

orange roasted beetroot salad
I enjoyed this dish so much that I suspect my fingers might be beetroot stained for the rest of winter. I do lead a glamorous life!
This is really good with a big mixed green salad or some braised green lentils (or both!). I think what I love most about this is that it makes me feel like I’m doing the whole January healthy eating thing whilst not missing out on all that lovely winter comfort food.
As an added bonus you don’t really have to weight or measure any of the ingredients for this, I’ve only put amounts as a guide, you can pretty much do everything to taste.

orange roasted beetroot salad

Ingredients
serves 2-4

4-6 smallish beetroot
1/2 tsp olive oil
juice and zest of 1 orange
couple of sprigs of thyme
salt and pepper to taste
knob of butter
handful of roasted pistachios
150g Greek yoghurt
1 tsp harissa

orange roasted beetroot salad

Pre-heat your oven to 220°c and line a small roasting tin with foil.
Trim the tops and roots of the beetroot but don’t peel them, just give them a good scrub. Cut each one into six or eight pieces (depending on how big they are). Toss them in the roasting tin with the salt, pepper and oil.
Zest the orange and set this aside to use as a garnish. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice over the beetroot. Sprinkle on the thyme leaves, keeping back a few to finish off the dish. Roast the beetroot for about an hour, they might take a bit longer if the pieces are quite chunky. Turn them a couple of times during roasting and give them a poke with a knife to see if they are tender.
Once they cooked to your liking take the tin out of the oven and add a small knob of butter to the beetroot. Toss the veg around until the butter has melted and they look nice and shiny. Let this cool for a few minutes.
Dollop the yoghurt onto your serving plate and spread it out into a thick layer. Dot the yoghurt with the harissa and swirl it into it. Pile the beetroot into the middle of the plate and then scatter over the reserved thyme, orange zest and the pistachios as a garnish.

orange roasted beetroot salad

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CHOCOLATE ORANGE TRIFLE

chocolate orange trifle

I think there’s still just about enough time to squeeze in one last moment of indulgence before we all embark on the inevitable dessert-purgatory that is January. Even I might try to exercise some self-control (no promises though, okay…)
But until the clock strikes 12 we can enjoy this. Today is also my Mum’s birthday and I’m pretty sure that she would approve of this truly decadent dessert. Golden sponge soaked in a boozy orange syrup smothered in a rich truffle ganache and a very soft, light, mousse and finished off with fresh whipped cream. I’ve decorated mine with some orange meringues simply because I’ve apparently become the sort of person who has that kind of thing hanging around the pantry!
Here I’ve used the orange sponge from my cranberry & orange Victoria sponge, using quantities for one egg. If you do this it’s best to bake it in a smaller tin or as cupcakes, otherwise it’ll be really thin. You can of course use a shop-bought sponge if you want to save yourself a bit of time, it doesn’t necessarily have to be orange flavoured.

chocolate orange trifle

Ingredients
serves 6

enough orange flavoured sponge cake to line the base of your serving dish

Orange syrup
juice of 1 orange
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp orange liqueur

Chocolate truffle ganache
75g dark chocolate
75ml cream
10g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
zest of 1 orange

Chocolate mousse
90g milk chocolate
3 eggs (separated)
1 tbsp bandy
pinch of salt

125ml double cream
dark chocolate to decorate (I also used tiny orange flavoured meringues)

chocolate orange trifle

Start by making the orange syrup. Combine the orange juice and sugar in a small pan and heat them until the sugar has dissolved and the juice has reduced a bit. Remove the pan from the heat and add the orange liqueur. Leave this to cool a little.
Cut the sponge into cubes and use them to line the base of your serving dish. Spoon the orange syrup over the sponge making sure that each piece of sponge soaks up some of the liquid. Let this sit at room temperature whilst you make the chocolate ganache.
Put all the ingredients for the sauce into a small pan and gently melt them together over a very low heat. Stir the mixture constantly to ensure that the chocolate doesn’t burn or seize. Once it has melted and combined pour the warm ganache over the sponge layer. Now put the dish in the fridge to chill out for a little while, just whilst you make the mousse layer.

chocolate orange trifle
Break up the milk chocolate and put it in a bowl, set over a pan of gently simmering water. Melt the chocolate, stirring it occasionally and then remove it from the heat. Quickly stir in the brandy. This might cause the chocolate to thicken a little but don’t panic as long as it isn’t grainy. Beat the egg yolks into the chocolate, one at a time, whilst it’s still warm and then leave the mixture to cool.
Whip the egg whites in a separate bowl along with the salt, until they hold a stiff peak. Beat one tablespoon of the egg whites into the chocolate to lighten the mixture. Follow this by very carefully, using a large metal spoon, folding in the remaining egg whites, a couple of spoons at a time until it is all incorporated and you have a light airy mousse.
Pour this on top of the cooled chocolate ganache layer and then return the dish to the fridge and forget about for a couple of hours so that the mousse can set more firmly.
Finally whip the cream so that it holds soft peaks and then spread it all over the top of the trifle. Finish off with a little chocolate (or meringue) decoration and refrigerate until you are ready to serve it.

chocolate orange trifle

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CHRISTMAS STOCKING COCKTAIL

Clementine sour

Put the fruit at the bottom of your Christmas stocking to good use this year and make one of these.

Clementine sour
I love this drink, it looks all sorts of fancy but it’s actually pretty easy to make once you’ve got the syrup. It’s not as tart as a ‘sour’ because the clementine juice is nice and sweet and the spices make it wonderfully fragrant. I also like to think that the foamy egg white layer on the top makes it look extra festive and snowy.

This makes enough for two drinks but you can easily increase the quantities. To make the simple syrup lightly crush 3 cloves and 1/2 tsp pink peppercorns before combining with equal amounts of soft brown sugar and water (about 3 tbsp of each) in a small pan and heating gently for a few minutes. Leave to cool before straining and using.

Clementine sour

Makes 2
75ml bourbon
2-3 strips of clementine/satsuma zest
25ml clove and pink peppercorn brown sugar simple syrup
Juice of 2 clementines/satsumas (50ml approx)
25ml triple sec
1 egg white
ice

Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 1 minute. Strain into coupe or martini glasses and let the foam settle on the surface before garnishing with pink peppercorns.

Clementine sour

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CRANBERRY & ORANGE VICTORIA SPONGE

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge

A well made classic Victoria Sponge is a thing of beauty, although I have to confess that I do always have to have cream or buttercream in my filling (sorry Women’s Institute).
It’s all about the texture. It should be light and springy with a nice even crumb so be careful that you don’t over beat the batter. In a traditional Victoria Sponge you also rely solely on the quality of your ingredients for the flavour so I always use real butter rather than baking margarine and I always try to find fresh free-range eggs. I only ever use free-range anyway but if you can get locally reared ones then 9 times out of 10 they’ll be richer than anything you buy in the supermarkets. They’ll also give your sponge great colour.
I find that I get the best results when I let all of my ingredients get up to room temperature before I start.
American self-rising flour does seem to be a tiny bit different to U.K self-raising flour but this recipe should work fine with both.

Classic Victoria sponge

If you want to make the classic Victoria Sponge then just leave out the orange zest from the sponge, sandwich it together with good quality jam (usually strawberry or raspberry) and dust the top with a little sugar.

classic Victoria sponge

Ingredients
serves 10-12

Orange sponge
3 eggs
the weight of the eggs (inc shells) in butter, sugar and self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tbsp milk
zest of 1 orange

Cranberry compote
70g ish cranberries (mine were frozen)
30g sugar
juice of 1 orange

Swiss meringue buttercream
1 egg white
50g sugar
70g butter (room temperature and cut into small pieces)
zest of 1 orange

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge

Pre-heat your oven to 180°c and grease two sandwich tins. Place a disc of baking parchment in the base of each.
Weigh your eggs, in their shells so that you know how much flour, butter and sugar you’ll need.
Sift together the baking powder and flour a couple of times and set it aside. This will get plenty of air into it.
Using a hand or stand mixer beat together the butter and sugar until it is pale, thick and fluffy, this should take a minute or two.
Lightly beat each egg and mix them, one at a time, into the butter and sugar. Follow each addition with a spoonful of the flour and beat it well. Once you have added all of the eggs briefly beat in the orange zest. Sift the remaining flour into the batter in two batches and carefully fold it in.

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge
Finally stir in the milk to loosen the mixture to a nice soft dropping consistency. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two prepared tins (I actually weigh mine) and level off the tops. Bake them in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open the oven door during this time as you might cause them to sink in the middle. Once the time is up open the oven door and test that the sponges are cooked with a skewer. Give them another minute or two if it doesn’t come out clean. They should feel light and springy once they are cooked.
Put the cooked sponges on a wire rack and let them cool in the tins for five minutes then turn them out on the rack and carefully remove the greaseproof paper. Let them become completely cool before you fill them.

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge
Make the compote by combining the sugar, cranberries and the juice of the orange in a small saucepan. Pop this over a moderate heat and let it gently bubble away for a few minutes. Mash the berries a bit to release their juice, but be careful as they tend to pop and you don’t want them to splatter you with hot juice. Once the juice is thick and syrupy you can leave the compote to cool and become a bit jammy.
Swiss Meringue buttercream is next on your to-do list. Put the egg white and sugar in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Gently whisk it to keep it moving whilst it heats, it needs to be quite warm and the sugar needs to have dissolved into the egg white. Just rub a little between your fingers to check the temperature and that it isn’t grainy. Remove the pan from the heat and then whisk the egg white until it is stiff (like meringue) and cool. An electric mixer makes this pretty quick and easy. Once it is cool you can slowly beat in the butter, one small piece at a time. If the mixture is too warm then the butter will simply melt so make sure it’s cool before you start. You can pop it in the fridge for a few minutes if you need to. Continue to whip the buttercream until it has emulsified and become smooth and creamy and then mix through the orange zest.

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge
Decide which of your cakes is the least pretty and place it, upside-down, on a serving plate. Spread the cold cranberry compote onto it and the follow this with the orange Swiss meringue buttercream. I prefer to pipe this but to be honest it isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference to the way it tastes!
Carefully place on the top layer of cake and then sprinkle it with a little icing sugar as a finishing touch.

Cranberry & orange Victoria sponge

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LAVENDER AND HONEY MADELEINES

Lavender & honey madeleines

I realise that having a third madeleine recipe on here may be a bit extravagant, a second floral themed one at that, but when I scavenged some lavender flowers from my mums garden I couldn’t resist using them in some of these pretty little cakes. Plus it totally justifies the fact that I even own a madeleine tin at all!
I’m not normally a massive fan of lavender, I think that I associate the smell of it with having migraines, but these are actually very nice. The lemon zest really perks them up so that the lavender isn’t too perfumy. They go very well with a cup of earl grey tea too.

Lavender & honey madeleines

Ingredients
makes 12

65g butter
50g sugar
1 tbsp lavender flowers
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 egg
85g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp milk

Melt the butter and use a little of it to brush your madeleine tin. Dust the tin with a little flour too and shake out any excess. Put the tin in the fridge to chill. Set the remaining butter aside to cool.
Put the sugar, lavender and lemon zest in a dinky food processor and whizz it up for a few moments. This will get some of the oils from the flowers and zest into the sugar.
Beat together the egg and the sugar until it is thick, pale and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and then fold this into the egg mixture.
Mix the honey and milk into the butter, making sure that the honey blends in. Stir this into the batter and then let it stand in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Lavender & honey madeleines
Towards the end of the resting time pre-heat the oven to 220°c.
Spoon the batter into each of the little shell shaped cavities of the chilled madeleine tin. You don’t need to worry too much about spreading it out to fill them, the batter will do this of its own accord once it hits the heat of the oven.
Bake the madeleines for three minutes and then turn the oven down to 180°c and leave them for a further five minutes.
Once the little cakes have risen and become golden brown take them out of the oven and place the tray on a cooling rack for a few minutes. When they’ve cooled a bit you can carefully lift them out of the tin and let cool completely on the rack before sprinkling them with a little icing sugar.

Lavender & honey madeleines

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GIN AND LEMON TART

gin and lemon tart

I was recently sent a newspaper clipping with ‘useful’ tips for gin (thanks Kath). Some of the tips were a bit silly, “why not use gin as an air-freshener?” Because I don’t want my house to smell like a 18th century tavern. “Why not use it as an aftershave?” Because I don’t want my husband to smell like an 18th century tavern. “Why not use gin as a mouthwash?” Because I don’t want to get pulled over on my drive to the gym every morning.
One of the tips, however, did make a lot of sense to me. “Why not use gin in pastry?” The chemists daughter in me thinks this actually makes a lot of sense, not just from a flavour point of view, but because the alcohol will evaporate at a different rate to water, therefore giving you a lighter, flakier crust. That has to be worth a try. I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for sticking booze in my food so why stop now? I think it worked too, the crust on this is rich and buttery but also very crisp and delicate.

gin and lemon tart
I like a creamy, custardy filling in a lemon tart, rather than the lemon meringue pie curd type. This one is very softly set and extremely tangy with a little warmth from the gin at the end. The booze also adds some very subtle botanical undertones so make sure that you pick a really nice quality gin.
I’m not sure that I could think of a better summer dessert than this!

gin and lemon tart

Ingredients
serves 12

Pastry
170g plain flour
100g cold butter
50g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
25ml citrusy gin (I used Green Hat spring/summer edition)

Filling
150g icing sugar
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
zest and juice of 2 lemons
200g sour cream
50ml of the same gin you used in the pastry

gin and lemon tart

Mix together the flour and icing sugar, ensuring that they are well blended. Cut the butter into small pieces and then lightly rub this into the flour mixture, until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Beat together the egg yolk and the gin and use this to bring the dry mixture together to form a nice soft dough, you might not need all of the liquid so add it a bit at a time. If you need more liquid then add a tiny splash more gin. As always, when making pastry, you want to keep the mixing and handling to the bare minimum so that it doesn’t become tough. Wrap the ball of dough in cling film, flatten it a little and pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes to relax. Grease a 23cm, loose bottomed tart tin.

lemon & gin tart
After the dough has done relaxing, roll it out so that it is big enough to fill the tin. I do this between pieces of cling film so that I don’t work any extra flour into it but by all means use a lightly floured surface if you prefer that. Line the tin with the pastry, gently pushing it into all the nooks and crannies. I also tend to leave a little overhang (you can trim it after it’s cooked) to allow for any shrinkage during baking. Recover the pastry case and put it back in the fridge to relax again for 20 minutes whilst the oven pre-heats to 190°c.
Prick the pastry base with a fork and cover it with a piece of grease-proof paper and then pile on some baking beans. Bake the pastry case for 20 minutes, then remove the beans and uncover it before returning it to the oven for a further 10 minutes. Once it is fully baked take the pastry case out and turn the oven down to 150°c.
At this point you can start on the filling. Mix together the icing sugar and lemon zest in a jug, then beat in the eggs and finally the lemon juice. Leave this to stand in the fridge whilst the oven cools down (for 10-15 minutes) so that the flavours can develop. when you are ready beat in the sour cream and finally the gin, making sure the filling is very smooth.

Doing a pretty good impression of Pac-Man!

Doing a pretty good impression of Pac-Man!

Put the pastry case in the oven and carefully pour then filling into it in there, it’s much easier than trying to fill it and then transfer it to the oven, there’s no way my hands are that steady.
Bake the tart for 30 minutes. It should have a little wobble to it, like a cheesecake, when it’s ready. Turn the oven off and open the door but leave that tart in there to cool down before putting it in the fridge to chill before serving.
I’ve garnished mine with a couple of leaves that I made from some leftover pastry (which got a bit too brown!), a caramelised lemon slice and a dusting of icing sugar.

gin and lemon tart

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