Battenburg Cake

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I made a Battenburg cake! A “super simple” checkerboard cake held together with jam and wrapped in marzipan. It’s supposed to be a light, tea cake. It’s not super simple, but it’s not that bad. Not that this was a roaring success. Let’s see where I went wrong …

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Starting off good. Made a seam. I’m pretty awesome.

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Gettin’ kind of annoying because EVERYTHING has to be measured. (Mmm, but not the egg shells. The scale became a garbage holder later on in the process.)

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First problem: I didn’t soften the butter enough. (Stupid lumps.)

Second problem: The almonds weren’t ground fine enough. (Stupid almond lumps.)

It’s going to be okay. I have the faith!

SONY DSCGo cakes GO!

SONY DSCRed is winning!

SONY DSCAll trimmed up and nowhere to go.

SONY DSCIs it just me, or does this picture of apricot jam look kind of romantic?

SONY DSCHa! Distance changed that.

SONY DSCThe most fun of the whole process was straining the jam. The directions were literally ‘push the jam through the strainer’. Done.

Rolling out the marzipan wasn’t nearly as fun.

SONY DSCIn fact, it caused a bit of a cake fail. No amount of “pressing together the edges” made this guy pretty.

SONY DSCBut my kind friends ate it anyway.

battenburg cake on Make A Gifmake animated gifs like this at MakeAGif

This wasn’t quite as easy as it sounded, but with some practice it might be. The first time was a definite pain. I think I’d make this cake again and again. I’m pretty sure it’ll get easier with practice. (Pie crusts were, why wouldn’t marzipan?) Next time I’ll try it with lemon and lime squares!

Battenburg Cake

Prep Time: 1 1/2 hours ; Bake Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

For the cake:
6 oz softened butter, plus extra to grease the pan
6 oz superfine sugar (I used light brown sugar)
3 medium eggs
5 oz self-raising flour
1.7 oz ground almonds (I thought it was a little funny to write 1.7 oz. There are supposed to be 50 grams ground almonds.)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
red food coloring

To hold the cake together:
10 tbsp apricot jam

For the covering:
1 lb & 2 oz ready-made marzipan (almond paste)
2 – 3 tbsp powered sugar, for rolling

Directions

Getting things ready:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease 8 inch square pan with butter.

Take a 12in x 8in strip of parchment paper and make a 3in fold in the center. This creates the division you need to cook the different color sponge cakes at the same time. Line your pan with the parchment paper.

Now to the fun part:

Mix the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, ground almonds, and vanilla & almond extracts in a mixer until well combined.

Separate 1/2 the batter and color it red. (Since you want the same amount of each color, you can weigh the batter to get a more exact measurement. I did, but red still won.)

Spoon each 1/2 of the batter into its own side of your 8 inch pan.

Bake in the center of your oven for about 25 minutes, or until the sponges have risen. Cool in the tin for five minutes, then slide a knife around the outside of each sponge and turn them out onto a wire rack. If the sponges have risen unevenly, press the surface gently until level. Leave until completely cold.

Putting it together:

To assemble the cake, first place one sponge on top of the other and trim off the crusty edges so they are both the same size. Cut the sponges in half lengthways to make four long rectangles.

Warm the apricot jam in a saucepan then press through a fine sieve.

Brush the long side of one of the sponges with jam and sandwich together with a sponge of a contrasting color. Do the same with the other two sponges.

Sandwich the two pairs of sponges together like a checker board and brush the top and sides with jam.

Now the covering (a.k.a. the less fun part):

Place the marzipan on a surface dusted with powdered sugar and roll into a rectangle of about 40cm x 20cm (or 16in x 10in); it should be large enough to wrap the cake completely, leaving the ends exposed, and be about 5mm (or ¼in) thick.

Turn the cake upside down on the marzipan and brush the underside of the sponges with jam.

Wrap the marzipan around the cake, pressing it gently onto the surface of the sponges, and press the edges together to make a firm join.

Turn back over with the seam underneath, trim a thin slice off each end and place on a serving plate.

Adapted from BBC Good Food and BBC Food Recipes.

Baking Music: Be Okay by Oh Honey

Kiwi Sorbet

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After my last, failed attempt at using the ice cream maker I’ve been super impatient to try it again. I bought three containers of Morton’s salt. (I would not be caught, again, without enough salt!) Then I was told that I couldn’t use table salt. It had to be rock salt. What? WHAT?! I just bought, like, 7 years worth of table salt. What the heck!

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Despite being informed that this wouldn’t work, I couldn’t help singing this the whole time … You’re gonna be sor-bet. (Really, I was singing you’re gonna be ice cream … is it cold, smooth and sweet? It’s ice cream. Duh.)

Except for my impatience, this was really quite easy.

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Boil the honey, sugar and water into a simple syrup and then put it in the fridge to cool.

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Halve the kiwi and then use a spoon to scoop them out.

SONY DSCPuree the cold syrup, lime juice and kiwi.

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So it looks like this

SONY DSCPut mix into an ice cream maker and mix forEVER.

SONY DSCYou can eat it right away, but it’s still a tad runny. Freeze it over night to get it nice and sorbet-y.

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Bon appétit!

Kiwi Sorbet
(from Week of Meals)
Makes about 1 quart

Ingredients

¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup honey
5 cups of peeled and cut kiwi
Juice of 1 lime

Directions

In a heavy saucepan add sugar, water and honey. Over medium heat bring to a boil, dissolving the sugar and honey. Remove from heat. Refrigerate until syrup is cool. (I put it in the freezer for a bit ’cause I’m impatient.)

With a blender or immersion blender, blend together cool syrup, kiwi and lime juice. Pour contents into ice cream maker and turn on for 25 to 30 minutes, until mixture is stiff and bunching into the blades.

But wait! Cause then this happened:

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Kiwi-lime gin and tonic! It was much better the second time around when I added less sorbet which gave it time to melt into (and cool down) the drink. Woot!

Sorbet-ing Music: Where the Wind Blows by Coco O.

Treat Week – Olive Oil and Sea Salt Cookies

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In my office, everyone is assigned a treat week and this is mine! After a very intense conversation about what I should bring (these are serious topics in my office) it was decided that I need to make something seasonally-appropriate. Something with raspberries. Maybe a crumble. DEFINITELY don’t bring the treat in on Fridays (from the coworker who doesn’t work Fridays). I didn’t mean to, but I ignored them. Except the Friday thing. That was no joke.

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I got to use my mixer again!

Anyway, I’ve been on Pinterest a lot this week and I found this yummy and easy cookie recipe from Butter Lust Blog. The thing is, when it’s your treat week, you’re baking after you get home late. So easy is better. Also, I’m a commuter without a car, so carry-ability is a serious consideration. Ideas that require 9×13 in pans tend to get chucked.

And I got to use my mixer again!!! We are about three days from giving the mixer counter space all to itself. It tends to overwhelm the less beautiful items around it. (Get out of the way kitchen knives!)

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These cookies were so good. I was a little scared to use too much sea salt and I regret that. So, when you make them don’t be scared! The sea salt bites are the best bites.

Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the olive oil and sugar and mix until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each one. Add the cocoa powder, flour, and salt and beat until a dough forms – it should be the consistency of a thick brownie batter.

In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda into the hot water. Add dissolved baking soda and vanilla and beat until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula.

Refrigerate the batter for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.

Use a cookie scoop to scoop out heaping tablespoons onto your prepared baking sheets and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until edges are set.

Let cool completely on the baking sheets then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Eat ’em!

Cooking Music: In The Heights soundtrack (keeps me awake when I bake at night)

Shamrock Butter Cookies

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY (weekend)!!! I got the best St. Paddy’s Day gift when I got home from work.

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Isn’t she beautiful? Of course, I had to use her right away.

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Fortunately, I was already going to make butter cookies for my sister’s (Kori) annual St. Paddy’s Day party. So I didn’t have to think too hard about what to make. It was so nice to be able to throw butter and sugar in a bowl, start the mixer and walk away. I did a little kitchen dance to celebrate.

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Kori’s St. Paddy’s Day party is legend. She is a wiz at throwing a great party. I know she works her butt off decorating, cleaning, prepping food and alcohol, but she always makes it look effortless.

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Friends of friends are always welcome. It just a fun, comfortable place to hang out. Green beer? Of course. Corned beef sandwiches? Naturally. Also poker, sometimes jello shots, and lots of friends to round it out. Kids can stay until 9pm.

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She didn’t ask for cookies. But who can resist butter cookies? Nothing goes better with green beer. The worst part about making these cookies is that they are impossible to transport once they are frosted. Also, this recipe makes a million (exaggeration? pshaw!) cookies, so I figured I’d bring them home sans frosting and hope my nieces and nephew want to help decorate them.

SONY DSCI just frosted a couple to make the pictures look good. (Also, they’ll go well with coffee tomorrow.)

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Thanks for the mixer, mom and dad! She works beautifully! I love her. I promise to take care of her. Look! She has her own little home already.

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Butter Cookies

SONY DSCIngredients:
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
5 cups flour, divided
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda dissolved in …
2 tbsp milk

Directions:

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, salt, cream of tartar, baking soda/milk mixture and 3 cups flour. Add another cup of flour until dough is workable. You’ll use the rest of the flour to roll out the dough.

Roll out and cut. Bake at 350° for 8 – 12 minutes.

Frosting Option #1
Mix powdered sugar and milk until you get the consistency you want, add food coloring and frost.

Frosting Option #2
Mix equal parts butter and powdered sugar. Add milk (and more powdered sugar) until you get the consistency you want. Add a little bit of vanilla and salt to flavor your frosting. Color, frost and decorate!

Baking Music: Happy Mix (includes Golden by Jill Scott, See the World by Gomez, Low Rider by War and so many more happy songs!)

First Ice Cream! Buttermilk Basil Sorbet

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Happy Snow Day! We have had our share of snowy and cold days this year. I much prefer snowy to cold. And what is the most appropriate thing you can make during a snow storm? Ice cream. Duh.

This is not, like, baby’s first ice cream. This is, like, Katie’s first attempt with an ice cream maker. I know you’re excited, but hold up, it was only a semi-success.

My parents are cleaning out their house. Sort of. And, as a result, I inherited their ice cream maker. It’s really hard to say no to an ice cream maker (even though free space in our apartment is quickly filled). There are just too many interesting ice creams and sorbets that go unmade because of lack of machinery. E says the same thing about pasta. We have different priorities.

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This 1970’s Waring Ice Cream Parlor came without directions. (At least I was unwilling to dig around my parents basement to find them. Basements are scary). However, the internet is a wonderful thing. I found instructions for this baby by searching the name on the side of the ice cream maker. Score! First hurdle, successfully cleared.

There is something that sounds so good about buttermilk basil sorbet. I had everything I needed. I just had to use the basil before it went bad, so … basil cut up.

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Lime zested.

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Buttermilk buttermilked. Wait … that’s not right. Well. Everything in the bowl, then.

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All ingredients in the ice cream maker (this will be so easy!). But again, wait … no. Do you have any idea how much salt you need to make ice cream? Like, lots and lots of salt. To keep the machine cold while it’s working your milk into ice cream you have to have about a dozen layers of ice and salt. I thought I had a whole extra box of salt, but nope. Second hurdle not only not cleared, but fell over with me like Danny Zuko on the race track … are Grease references allowed?

I only had a couple layers of ice in before I realized my problem, so then I had to do it old school. I pulled out some cheap metal pans and poured in the soon-to-be sorbet.

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If you’re not using an ice cream machine then you are supposed to scrape the pan each time a layer of ice forms. For the little muffin tin I was able to scrape up the ice three times, but for the larger bread loaf pan, it took too long to freeze (and I had places to be). What was most interesting about this accidental experiment was that the sorbet from the muffin tins was actually creamier than the sorbet in the bread pan. The bread pan sorbet was more like Italian ice. I didn’t really believe in the importance of scraping up the ice. Doubter. Either way the combination of buttermilk, lime and basil was pretty savory and satisfying.

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Lesson learned. And, it’s never too cold to eat ice cream.

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Buttermilk Basil Sorbet
Serves: 12; WW Points: 3
Prep time: 10 min; Ice Cream Maker Time: 50 minutes (otherwise, several hours)

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup(s) sugar, granulated, divided
2/3 cup water
1 cup(s) basil, fresh, cut into ribbons, minced
4 cups low-fat buttermilk
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp lime zest, finely minced

Directions:
To make basil syrup, combine 2/3 cup sugar with 2/3 cup of water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low, add basil and simmer for 5 minutes; set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine remaining 2/3 cup sugar with buttermilk, lime juice and zest; mix until sugar dissolves. Add cooled basil syrup to buttermilk mixture and mix thoroughly. Run sorbet mixture through an ice cream maker according to its package directions. Transfer sorbet to a container and freeze for 12 to 24 hours before serving. If you do not have an ice cream maker, poor into metal pan and freeze. Scrape through ice several times. Yields about 1/2 cup per serving.

Cooking Music: Doctor Who (it can’t always be music)