Saturday, August 13, 2011

Pistachio Loaf

It was my mom's birthday this week. She's obsessed with pistachio everything. So the logical cake to make was this one, found in The Hummingbird Bakery's Cake Days book. It's like a Madeira cake with additional pistachios. It's heavy on the butter. In short, it's amazing. Add it to your repertoire now!

Pistachio Loaf
Adapted from Cake Days
190g butter, unsalted, soft
190g caster sugar
3 eggs
splash of vanilla
190g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
60ml buttermilk
100g pistachios, shelled and bashed

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a loaf tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together until white and fluffy. Add in the eggs and vanilla. Then beat in the dry ingredients, followed by the buttermilk. Lastly, fold in the pistachios. The mixture is fairly stiff. Spoon it into the loaf tin and spread flat. Bake for an hour (I turned it halfway, my oven is like that.) Allow to cool in the tin before turning out onto a rack and cooling completely.


For the icing, mix 150g icing sugar with 2 tablespoons hot water. Add more icing sugar if the mixture is too runny. Spoon this over the cooled loaf and top with a few pistachios...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


We're taking a hiatus over here at Philosophy and Madeleines. We'll be back soon. Keep a look out for us from October!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Honey, Chocolate, Walnut Tart

I'm a chocolate fan only sometimes. I like it in it's pure chocolate bar form but am less fond of it when it's included in desserts. Often times the chocolate dessert is rich, cloying and completely over-powering. Other times it's made of such terrible quality chocolate that I cannot get past that first bite. I'm more of a custard person in truth. But other people love chocolate desserts and it's hard to go wrong with a variation on the classic Chocolate Tart. I've so many recipes for Chocolate Tart that it's impossible to know which is truly best. Each chef has their own tweak to the recipe that I don't really feel the need to settle on any specific one.

This one is good for people who like the chocolate-nut combination or for those who are looking for a little something extra in their tart. This one's less rich than some others I've seen but should still be served with crémé fraîche or something similar to cut through the richness.

Honey, Chocolate, Walnut Tart
Adapted from Gourmet: Chocolate

You'll need one quantity of sweet pastry, rolled out thin enough to see the table beneath and lining a tart tin. There's a recipe for it here. You need to rest the pastry for 20 minutes once it's lined the tin. Preheat the oven to 180C. Remove the tart from the oven and fill it with rice, lining the tart with baking paper first. Blind bake the tart for 20 minutes. Then remove the rice and baking paper and return to the oven for a further 3-5 minutes, until the base is golden and dry. If there are any cracks in the base brush it with egg white until the crack is filled. This must be done whilst the base is hot.

Reduce the oven temperature to 160C.

For the Filling:
150g dark chocolate (good quality)
150g butter, unsalted
55g caster sugar
splash of vanilla
3 eggs
1/4c honey
pinch of salt
120g walnuts, toasted and bashed slightly

Melt the butter and chocolate together, either in the microwave (on 30 second intervals) or over a bain marie. Mix them together until smooth and allow to cool slightly.
In a separate bowl whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla until combined. Then whisk in the honey and salt. Whisk in the chocolate mixture. The mixture will thicken significantly.

Place the walnuts onto the base of the tart, evenly distributed all over. Pour the chocolate mixture over the walnuts, making sure you cover the entire base.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tart is slightly puffy at the edges and has set in the middle. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tin.

Lemon Muffins

Sometimes it's like a life-handing-you-lemons series of days. Well, I'm no dab hand at lemonade so the only thing to do is to make these. Plus they're carbohydrates which makes everyone feel better. And they look like a little ray of summer sunshine which helps too. They're good to eat pretty much at any time but I like them with tea in the afternoon. Feel free to adapt the recipe as you wish. You can add in 200g of fresh raspberries and 1/4cup of poppyseeds if you're feeling that way inclined. You could also substitute the lemon rind for lime rind. I suspect they're good with white chocolate chips too, about 1/2 cup's worth. They can be iced and masqueraded as cupcakes but sometimes I like them just as they are...

Lemon Muffins
Adapted from Tom Aikens Cooking

115g butter, unsalted, soft
230g caster sugar
splash of vanilla
rind of one lemon
5 egg yolks
250ml sour cream
315g cake flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake holders or grease if not using any holders.
Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla and rind until white and fluffy. Add in the yolks. Then add in the flour (and bicarb and baking powder) in 3 batches, alternating with the sour cream. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff. Beat this into the mixture, still using a beater attachment. (The mixture is very stiff and I struggled to fold the whites in by hand as I would normally do.)

Separate the mixture into the muffin tins and bake for 15 - 20 minutes until the muffins are risen and golden.

Allow to cool in the tins before transferring to a wire rack.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Vanilla Slice

There are no words to describe how sublime this vanilla slice was. It made my weekend.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Food Market

Findings from the Karkloof Farmer's Market in the Midlands. Ate more than my body weight in cheese, baked goods and bread. Happiness is.

Cinnamon Apple Cake

So my friend got this new KitchenAid mixer the other day and today I was invited over for it's inaugural using. Wow, it's such a pretty thing. I'm hoping some kind soul is going to buy me one soon. Everything about it is cool. But I'm not getting money from KitchenAid so enough spouting on it's fabulousness. We also had an over abundance of sour apples which we needed to use so apple cake seemed a good idea and this one looked so lovely in the pictures, how could we not make it?

So, this comes from the queen of Australian food, Ms Donna Hay. How awesome is she? This is from the Modern Classics 2 book, an essential for any baker. Don't be alarmed by the batter (I was), it's very thick and you may struggle a little to spread it out in the tin. Persevere because it's totally worth it. This is a good tea cake but could be served as dessert too, perhaps with some crémé fraîche?

Cinnamon Apple Cake
Adapted from Modern Classics 2
For the Cake: 
185g unsalted butter, soft
2/3c caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 and a half cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup milk

For the Apples:
4 apples
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

So, preheat your oven to 160C and grease and tin a spring-form tin (22cm).
Cream the butter, sugar and cinnamon in your standing mixer until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, then add in the flour and baking powder followed by the milk. You'll see that the batter is very thick. Fear not, it does it's thing in the oven.

Spread the batter out over the lined tin, use a spatula for help.

Now, peel, halve and core the apples. Then carefully cut slits into the apple halves, without actually cutting them apart. (You want half apple pieces with slits, not pieces of apple.) Place these over the cake batter, pushing them in a little.

Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle this over the apples.

Bake this for 50 minutes. Then, if you feel inclined you can glaze the cake with apricot jam before returning it to the oven for another 10 minutes. We didn't have apricot jam so we skipped the whole glazing debacle and just baked it for the full 60 minutes. It was glorious.