Cheats’ Puff Pastry: Wild Garlic Croissant

“If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.” Mario Andretti

Who in the world doesn’t love croissants? But majority of home-bakers always postpone to make them because of the long process a classic croissant dough requires to make… No doubt that homemade croissants are the best of all – of course when not in Paris… – but is it really possible to make them quick? To make them dairy-free? To fill in between the layers? It is actually quite easy.. it really takes no more than 20 minutes of work… the rest is simply waiting, and the croissants are wonderful. They are probably not nearly as flaky as the classic ones but for all the little work involved they are just perfect. Crispy on the outside, buttery, flaky, a perfect treat for breakfast or brunch. They can be served plain with a bit of jam alongside coffee or tea, or even house a delicious sandwich.

“Every flower blooms at a different pace.” Suzy Kassem

This croissant can be achieved by two speedier methods. One of them is based on freezing the butter and quick turns, the other one’s secret is layering.

Ingredients
60 ml lukewarm water or rice milk
3 tbsp sugar
25 g yeast
350 g flour
10 ml vinegar
10 ml oil
A pinch of salt
1/2 banana, mashed or one egg
130 g dairy-free margarine/spread, half of it mixed with finely chopped wild garlic
2 tbsp oil to glaze

Method
Freeze-turn Method
With the first method freeze half of the margarine, chill the other. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Rub in the chilled butter using fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Gradually add enough of the liquid ingredients mixed together to form a dough. Roll the dough out into a rectangle on a lightly floured work surface. Grate half of the frozen butter over the bottom two thirds of the dough. Fold down the top third and fold up the bottom third as if folding a letter.
Turn the folded dough through 90 degrees and roll it out into a rectangle again. Repeat the process of adding the remaining frozen butter and fold as before. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes before using.
Layering method
In a large bowl combine the lukewarm water with sugar and yeast and set aside until it starts to froth up. Mix in flour, vinegar, salt, oil and mashed banana, and knead into a soft, smooth dough. Cover with clingfilm and rest in the fridge until risen. Mix the margarine with the wild garlic, then chill. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces and roll each out on a floured work surface. Grate the margarine if hard. Spread an equal amount of margarine on seven of the dough pieces and layer them onto each other. If margarine become too soft, rest in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

Roll out the chilled dough and cut into eight triangles/wedges. Take each triangle in turn and pull the two corners at the base to stretch and widen it. Starting at the base of each triangle, begin to gently roll into a crescent/croissant, being careful not to crush the dough. Continue rolling, making sure the tip of each triangle ends up tucked under the croissant to hold in place. If adding any fillings, place across the widest part of the triangle before rolling up. If so desired, bend the ends of the croissants inwards, then transfer to baking trays lined with baking parchment, spaced well apart. Cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave to rise for 2 hrs, or until doubled in size. Heat oven to 180-190 degrees C. Generously glaze the croissants with oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes until risen and golden brown, then cool on wire racks.

“Love has no speed limit.” Debasish Mridha

Heavenly Herbs: Lemon Balm and Mint Macarons

“Here’s flowers for you; Hot lavender, mints…” William Shakespeare

Traditional medical benefits of herbs have been used by herbalists and apothecaries throughout the centuries. Herbs do more than simply adding flavour and colour to dishes, their healing and restorative powers are pretty impressive too…

Mint has got to be one of the most versatile herbs around. No herb or vegetable garden should be without at least one of the 40 or so sweet-smelling members of the mint family, as they are simply too useful and too easy to grow to miss…

Lemon balm, a member of the mint family, is considered a calming herb. It was used as far back as the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort from indigestion. Even before the Middle Ages, lemon balm was steeped in wine to lift the spirits and help heal (physical and mental) wounds.

“Lemon balm causes the mind and heart to become merry.” Seraphio

When placed in unexpected food-hosts like macaron, herbs elevate the flavour from great to royal, the colour from nice to sensational, and the aroma from inviting to sexual, whilst also lessen the feeling of guilt…actually macarons with herbs have be eaten for the benefits, never mind the – rather generous – dusting of sugar…

“All that man needs for health and healing has been provided by God in nature, the challenge of science is to find it.” Philippus Theophrastrus Bombast

Ingredients
4 egg whites, at room temperature
200 g granulated sugar
130 almond meal
280 g confectioners sugar
3 tsp dried lemon balm
3 tsp dried mint
100 g dark chocolate, melted
100 g white chocolate, melted

Method
Sieve the almond meal and icing sugar together, set aside. Beat the egg whites over medium-high speed until they begin to froth, then add granulated sugar, gradually. Continue beating the mixture until eggs whites are glossy and stiff peaks form. Add half of the dry mixture to the egg whites, fold slowly until all ingredients are well combined, then repeat with the other half of the dry mixture. It should slowly dripping off the spatula back into the bowl and easily absorbing back into the batter at the bottom. Divide the batter in two. Mix 3 tsp dried lemon balm and yellow gel food colouring into half, and stir in the mint with green food colouring into the other half. Transfer batter into a piping bags, than pipe onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. When all the batter is piped out, firmly tap the baking sheet onto a hard surface. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C and bake the macarons for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, lift parchment paper with macarons onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Fill mint macaron shells with dark chocolate and lemon balm macarons with white chocolate.

A Tasty Affair: Chocolate Cheesecake

“It is important to experiment and endlessly seek after creating the best possible flavours when preparing foods. That means not being afraid to experiment with various ingredients.” Rocco DiSpirito

Chocolate and cheese surely must be two of the most loved foods around the world…
Who doesn’t love cheese or chocolate? But together? As weird as it sounds, they can actually create the perfect flavour-combination when carefully selected and paired.

Cheese and chocolate are quite different on the palette of taste buds, therefore, the idea of combining them probably seems. Even though, they might appear very different at first, fundamentally, they are quite similar too: rich, buttery, nutty, creamy…can be interchangeably used to describe the eating experience of both chocolate and cheese! It may not be an obvious match. In general, lighter and creamier cheeses pair better with lighter, creamier chocolates. Cheeses and chocolate have flavour components that complement each other well: the sweetness of the chocolate will emphasize the nuttiness of the cheese without being too intense or overpowering. The key to this marriage of ingredients is keeping the recipe simple and choosing high quality ingredients. Both are very rich foods and with these type of foods modest (little in variation and little in amount) goes a long way…

“Modesty is the gentle art of enhancing your charm by pretending not to be aware of it.” Oliver Herford

Ingredients
180 g leftover chocolate biscuits
75 g butter
360 g cream cheese
200 g mascarpone
180 g sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line the base of a 20 – 22 spring form cake tin. Place the biscuits in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin to fine crumbs. Melt the butter and add the biscuit crumbs, stir to combine. Add the zest of a lemon and an orange. Place in the base of the cake tin and spread in an even layer, then flatten tightly. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden. Remove and leave to cool while preparing the filling. Reduce the oven to 160 degrees C. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, mascarpone and sugar until smooth then add flour, vanilla and eggs, beating well between each addition. Act quickly, as beating too much air in adversely affects the surface of cheesecake. Pour the cream cheese mix on to the biscuit base then bake in the oven for 60 minutes. The cheesecake should be just set with a slight wobble and should still be creamy on top with just a slight crispier hint around the edges. Once the cheesecake is cooked, turn off the oven and prop open the door so that it is slightly ajar and leave the cheesecake to cool in the oven for another hour or so. Once the oven is cool you, remove the cheesecake to cool completely before removing from the tin. Decorate with fresh chocolate shards and icing sugar.

“Variety’s the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour.” William Cowper

An Edible Zoo for a Young Macaron Lover

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France

A young person is an honest and cruel critic of all things person-made even if artistic… The same intensity that young hearts turn towards the God-created beauties of nature with, defines their opinion about the art made by their fellow humans…regardless of what the art actually is, painting, drawing, collecting or baking… Baking, however, has an array of opportunities for creating, making and wowing the taste buds, eyes and nose of all people big and small… Baking is an art where people use the characteristics of ingredients and suggestions of recipes as inspiration rather than the letter of the law – ingredients are approached and adjusted depending on personal tastes. Measurements and timings are vague and rely on knowing appropriate textures, colours etc. Results are inconsistent until recipes have been tried many, many times, however, this inconsistency can be understood as uniqueness and personality…Fabricating personal messages via the art of ingredients, food and baking is a delicate art that needs a deep understanding of how foods link and how they affect each other under different conditions.

Apart from the obvious aim of eating, the edible art has many benefits and meanings: it teaches about sustainability, emphasizes  thoughtful consumption, driving the message that knowing where food comes and supporting local growth is critical in lowering people’s global carbon footprint. Baking  has the magic power to age-appropriately combine nature’s beuty with hand-made creations, whilst gloriously mixing art, food and fun…

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.” James Herriot

Ingredients
4 egg whites, at room temperature
200 g granulated sugar
130 almond meal
280 g confectioners sugar

Method
Sieve the almond meal and icing sugar together, set aside. Beat the egg whites over medium-high speed until they begin to froth, then add granulated sugar, gradually. Continue beating the mixture until eggs whites are glossy and stiff peaks form. Add half of the dry mixture to the egg whites, fold slowly until all ingredients are well combined, then repeat with the other half of the dry mixture. It should slowly dripping off the spatula back into the bowl and easily absorbing back into the batter at the bottom. Transfer batter into a piping bag, than pipe onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. When all the batter is piped out, firmly tap the baking sheet onto a hard surface. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C and bake the macarons for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, lift parchment paper with macarons onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” Martin Buber

A Tasty Hero: Kossuth Crescent

“And if you cannot remain indifferent, you must resolve to throw your weight into that balance in which the fate and condition of man is weighed.” Lajos Kossuth

Lajos Kossuth was a Hungarian lawyer, journalist, politician and Governor-President of the Hungarian Kingdom during the 1858-1849 revolution. He was an oral genius with extreme talent in rhetoric, leading political debates and public speeches. Kossuth emerged from a poor gentry family into regent-president of the kingdom. As the most influential contemporary American journalist Horace Greeley said about Kossuth: “Among the orators, patriots, statesmen, exiles, he has, living or dead, no superior.” Kossuth’s powerful English and American speeches impressed and touched the most famous contemporary American orator Daniel Webster so, that he wrote a book about Kossuth’s life. He was widely honored during his lifetime, including in Great Britain and the United States, as a freedom fighter and bellwether of democracy in Europe.

“It is the surmounting of difficulties that makes heroes.” Lajos Kossuth

As a young politician he often dined in Palugyay Jakab’s restaurant, the Ironspring in Bratislava (which was part of Hungary at the time, named Pozsony). The menu of the popular eatery consisted local delicacies. One of the area’s typical dishes was a sponge-like simple cake which had variations made with walnut, hazelnut and almond. As Kossuth loved the dessert, the culinary world just calls it the Kossuth Crescent. Kossuth, who lived in a simple household with a peasant kitchen, was not choosy or picky, he accepted and tasted all foods that were offered to him. This little gem is -despite of its simplicity – really tasty.

Ingredients
200 g butter
180 g flour
200 g icing sugar
4 eggs
1 pinch of baking powder
Zest of one lemon
100 g walnut or almonds, chopped fined


Beat the butter, eggyolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk the eggwhite into stiff peaks, then gently fold into the eggyolk mixture. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the batter, and carefully mix together. Pour it into a lined baking tray and scatter the chopped walnuts on top. Bake in preheated 180 degrees C oven for about 30 minutes. Once cooled, cut crescents with a round cookie cutter.

“The unspoken word never does harm.” Lajos Kossuth

The Perfect White: Swiss Meringue Buttercream

“Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.” Coco Chanel

The colour white is colour at its most complete and pure, the colour of perfection. The psychological meaning of white is purity, innocence, wholeness and completion, the colour of new beginnings. It is the blank canvas waiting to be written upon. While white isn’t stimulating to the senses, it opens the way for the creation of anything the mind can conceive. White contains an equal balance of all the colors of the spectrum, representing both the positive and negative aspects of all colors. Its basic feature is equality, implying fairness and impartiality, neutrality and independence. New lives come into the world with a perfect balance of white, ready to imprint their lives with all the colors of the spectrum from all life experiences.

The colour of snow, white is often used to represent coolness and simplicity. White’s association with cleanliness and sterility makes it pleasing to the human eye, a bright and brilliant colour that can present the perfect elegance on a cake: pleasing to the eye, pleasing to the needs…really is a thing of beauty….

“Black and white, oldest of the vintages, newest of the last season.” Vikrmn

Ingredients
3 large egg whites
250g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
Few drops of vanilla extract
300g unsalted butter, softened

Method
Tip the egg whites into a bowl and add the sugar and salt. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk the mixture, preferably using a table-top mixer, until it becomes a thick meringue and whisk in the vanilla extract. Cut the butter into chunks and whisk it in – the mixture may collapse and go runny, but keep whisking it at full speed and it will combine together to give a fluffy buttercream. Use this buttercream to frost any cake or cupcake. It can be frozen stored in an airtight container for up to a month.

“A lie has many colours, while white is the only faithful colour of truth.” Munia Khan

Cupcake Dress for the Hungarian Somloi Galuska

“I’ve never met a problem a proper cupcake couldn’t fix.” Sarah Ockler

One of Hungary’s best known delicacies is the decadent sweet dish known as somlói galuska (shom-loh-ee gah-loosh-kaw)…The name translates as “Somló dumpling” in English, Somló being a town near Lake Balaton, well-known for its wine. Calling the dessert a dumpling is a little misleading, as the mixture of the three different flavored sponge cakes, pastry cream, raisins, walnuts, chocolate sauce and whipped cream is technically a trifle, far from anything what is known as dumpling. Rum is traditionally used in the form of a simple dressing syrup on the sponge layers.

It was first made for the World Exhibition of 1958 in Brussels by József Béla Szőcs. It won the professional price and became an instant favourite. The confectioner simply named the cake after the town where he had lived and worked. The original recipe is still a secret, but many people tried to recreate it which is why many variations of the recipe exist. However, one can tell when eating the real deal…

“Life is short. Eat dessert first.” Ernestine Ulmer

The traditional presentation is created by scooping three balls of the assemble sponge layers into a bowl or on a plate, with a dollop of whipped cream and chocolate sauce garnish, however, it makes a charmingly romantic looking, light cupcake with layers of flavour surprises.

Ingredients
For the cakes
4 eggs
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp ground walnut
6 tbsp milk
Vanilla extract
2 handful of raisins soaked in rum
For vanilla cream
300 ml low-fat milk
3 egg yolks (about 100 g)
45 g cane sugar
1-2 tbsp vanilla extract
10 g maize starch
zest of half untreated lemon
For the assembly
2 tbsp rum
250 ml whipping cream
50 g dark chocolate
A handful of walnuts

Method
Soak the sultanas in rum.
For the vanilla cream heat the milk with the lemon zest and place in vanilla extract. Beat the egg yolks with the cane sugar until white and creamy. Mix it with a ladle of warm milk, until incorporated it well. Put this mixture into the remaining milk, then heat gently, stirring it until thickening.
For the sponge cake beat the egg whites with the half of the sugar to a meringue-like stiff peak foam, then set aside. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and shiny , then carefully fold the sieved flour into the egg white with a flexible spatula. Divide in three parts. In one of them mix the grounded walnuts with 3 tbsp milk, in another mix the cocoa powder with 3 tbsp milk, whilst the third one will be plain. Pour all three mixtures into a piping bag with a plain, wide nozzle. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases, and pipe the three batters, alternating the different mixtures, scattering in some soaked sultanas in between, filling each case two-thirds full and smoothing the top with gentle shaking. Bake in preheated 175°C oven for 18-20 minutes, then set aside to cool. When cool, cut the cupcake tops in an angle to create a hole and fill with the vanilla cream. Place the top back. Once it has set, brush rum on the top, and decorate with whipped cream, walnut chunks and melted chocolate.

“Dessert is to a meal what a dress is to a woman.” Béatrice Peltre

The Cake Business That is Worth Making Cheese for…

“Life is great. Cheese makes it better.” Avery Aames

Good cheesecakes are based on simple recipes… Although some might think it is a craft difficult to master, when the balance of soft cheese, eggs, sugar and a few flavourings is right, making cheesecake is a straightforward confectionery affair. Cheesecakes are technically baked cheesy custards on beds of cookie base. There are different  fundamental types of cheesecake, caused by the variety of cheese affecting the texture and taste: curd cheesecake, ricotta based Italian cheesecake, quark in the German cheesecake, cream cheese founded New York cheesecake and the unbaked French cheesecake. They all have different origin, however going back to the same roots: the ancient Greeks made the earliest known cheesecakes, consisting of patties of fresh cheese pounded smooth with flour and honey and cooked on an earthenware griddle. In the late medieval Europe the cheesecake reformed in tart form with a pastry base. For the following five centuries, almost every subsequent English cookbook contained at least one cheesecake recipe.

“Dessert without cheese is like a beauty with only one eye.” Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Preferring one or the other is simply a result of personal taste, rather than a choice being based on the existence of an “ultimately perfect cheesecake” – there is no such recipe… However, homemade cheese definitely makes any cheesecake more of an unforgettable culinary experience than any other version.

Making cream cheese
Ingredients: 500 ml whipping, pasteurized and 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Preparation: In a heavy saucepan, bring  the cream to 87 degrees C, stirring often. It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles (all that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, covering the  back of the wooden spoon thickly). Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.

Making the cheesecake
Ingredients: 180 g leftover biscuits, 75 g butter, 360 g cream cheese, 100 g mascarpone, 100 g natural yogurt, 180 g sugar, 4 tbsp plain flour, 4 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla extract, zest of two lemons and two oranges


Method: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line the base of a 20 – 22 spring form cake tin. Place the biscuits in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin to fine crumbs. Melt the butter and add the biscuit crumbs, stir to combine. Add the zest of a lemon and an orange. Place in the base of the cake tin and spread in an even layer, then flatten tightly. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden. Remove and leave to cool while preparing the filling. Reduce the oven to 160 degrees C. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, mascarpone, yogurt and sugar until smooth then add flour, vanilla and eggs, beating well between each addition. Add the zest of a lemon and an orange. Act quickly, as beating too much air in adversely affects the surface of cheesecake. Pour the cream cheese mix on to the biscuit base then bake in the oven for 60 minutes. The cheesecake should be just set with a slight wobble and should still be cream on top with just a slight golden hint around the edges. Once the cheesecake is cooked, turn off the oven and prop open the door so that it is slightly ajar and leave the cheesecake to cool in the oven for another hour or so. Once the oven is cool you, remove the cheesecake to cool completely before removing from the tin. Decorate with fresh fruit and sugar.

“The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” Gilbert K. Chesterton

The Scent of Spring: Sweet Violet Ombre Cake

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” Mark Twain

In mythology Zeus had a lover named Ione, from which the word viola is derived. His wife, Hera was jealous and turned her into a white heifer. Zeus created violets to give her something lovely to graze upon. Wherever Venus and Adonis lay together a bed of violets was said to have sprung. Persephone, the daughter of the Earth Mother Demeter, was picking violets when Pluto kidnapped her to live with him in the underworld. Athens was once known as “the city of violets.” The leaf and flower have been used for thousands of years by millions of people as an antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic agent. Violets have been applied and eaten to improve acne, anger, asthma, bronchitis, colds, eczema, fever, grief, headache, heartbreak, sore throat, ulcers whooping cough and many other problems. The flowers are eaten by some as a breath freshener. Violet flower essence helps those that feel lonely, despite being surrounded by others. It increases openness and helps shy aloof people that want to share but feel overwhelmed. Is there a better reason to make a cake?

Violet syrup
40 to 50 g Sweet violets (about 3 to 4 handfuls)
150ml Boiling water
300g White caster sugar
Directions: Remove all of the stalks, green “peeps” in the middle of the violets and the leaves before putting all of the flowers into a clean bowl. Pour the boiling water over the flowers, then cover with a tea towel and allow the violets to infuse overnight or for 24 hours. Next day, put the violets and water into a suitable sized sauce pan on top of larger pan with water underneath and proceed then add the sugar and stir well. Bring the water in the pan to a rolling boil and keep stirring the violet mixture until the sugar has completely dissolved. Strain the violet mixture through a fine sieve, then bottle it. It keeps for up 12 months.

“The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.” Tennessee Williams

Crystallised violets
20 violet flowers with about 2-inches of stem attached
1 egg white, beaten until frothy
2 tablespoons powdered or confectioner’s sugar
Directions: Beat the egg white until it is frothy all the way through, but not stiff. Place the sugar in a small bowl. Pick up a violet flower by the stem. Dip the flower into the egg white, twirling it gently to coat the entire flower. Shake off excess egg white then dip the flower into the sugar. Twirl the flower stem between the thumb and forefinger of the hand that is holding it so that the flower gets evenly coated with sugar on all sides. Place the violet on a paper towel. Repeat the egg and sugar steps with the rest of the violet flowers. Transfer the sugared flowers to a shelf in your refrigerator for 24 hours. As the flowers dry most of the sugar will be absorbed by the egg white, creating a glaze on the petals. Snip off the stems and discard them. Transfer the candied violets to an airtight container and store at room temperature.

Cake
360 g butter, softened, plus a little extra for greasing
690 g plain flour
430 g golden caster sugar
9 medium egg
50 ml violet syrup
3 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3 tsp vanilla extract
Edible purple food colouring
Icing
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 x 250g tubs cream cheese or mascarpone
350g icing sugar
50 ml violet syrup to brush

“When you talk to me I smell violets.” L.M. Montgomery

Method
Heat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease 6 x 20cm round sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment. Tip all the sponge ingredients, apart from the food colouring, into a mixing bowl, then beat with an electric whisk until smooth. Add a couple of drops of food colouring and fill one tin. Then add a couple more drops, and fill the second sandwich tin smooth as much as possible, then carry on until all six tins are filled and there is no batter remaining. At each addition, keep going until happy with the colour! Bake each cake for 12 minutes or until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean. Gently turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool. When cooled, brush with violet syrup. To make the icing, very briefly beat the vanilla and cream cheese or mascarpone with an electric whisk until smooth. Sift in the icing sugar and gently fold in with a spatula. Smear a little icing on the cake stand to stick the first sponge. Repeat sandwiching, from the light up to the dark sponges. Spread the remaining icing thickly all over the sides and top of the cake. To make the purple ganache, heat 100 g double cream, the slowly stir in 300 g of white chocolate and a couple of drops purple food colouring. It needs to be layered on the top, so it slowly drips down the sides.

Spring Love: Flower Gem Cupcakes

“The earth laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Like a secret, rarely made treat, the so called “white cake” does not sound as an old recipe, it seems rather modern and fresh… When made, it is elegant and ladylike. Making this peculiarly white and light sponge lacks any fanciful technique, yet it is quite remarkable…Until I have found it in my late grandmother’s old handwritten recipe book, I associated her with heavier dessert but this is soft as a feather.
The white cake is a the perfect lover of the spring bloomers…Fresh flowers can be employed in a number of ways in cake making and decorating, from delicate flavour enhancing, through being garnishes to all-out cake-topper flower arrangements…But why not to have it at all levels…

“A weed is but an unloved flower.” Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ingredients
For the cakes
4 eggwhites, 120 g sugar, a pinch of salt, 10 g chopped walnuts, 10 g fruit gummies, chopped, 10 g chopped chocolate chips, 80 g flour, 4 g baking powder
For the frosting
150 ml coconut milk, 1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract, 50 g of caster sugar, 30 g of cornflour, 150 g dairy free spread, 50 g shredded coconut
For the jelly gems
200 ml elderflower cordial, 20 g gelatin powder, ox eye daisy flowers

Methods
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg whites and sugar into stiff peaks. Mix the rest of the ingredients, then fold into the eggwhites gently. Divide batter among 12 paper lined muffin cups, filling each cup nearly full. Bake in preheated oven 18 – 20 minutes until golden and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool completely then pipe frosting over cupcakes.


To make the frosting bring the milk and vanilla to the boil in a saucepan then remove from the heat. Mix the sugar and flour together until thoroughly incorporated. Pour 1/3 of the warmed milk over the flour mixture and whisk vigorously. Pour the mixture into the saucepan with the milk and continue to whisk over a medium heat. Cook until the mixture boils and thickens being careful not to let it burn on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat, mix in the coconut and allow to cool then cream together with butter.
To make the jelly gems heat the elderflower cordial, mix in the gelatine and let it cool slightly. Pour onto a shallow tray with short sides, then push in the flowers upside down in a random arrangement. Place in the fridge. When set, cut circles with a cookie cutter and move from tray and place on top of cupcakes gently.

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.” Iris Murdoch