Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Strawberries are not the only fruit

Raspberry Mousse Cake

It’s been over a week since Andy Murray lost the Wimbledon championship, but won the nation’s hearts, with his tearful and gracious post-match speech. After a fortnight of strawberry mania, perhaps it’s time to cast a wider berry net and place the focus on Scotland’s best. All hail the mighty raspberry!

Strawberries make up 60% of all fresh berry sales in the UK, with raspberries trailing behind with a mere 19%*. Raspberries thrive in cold climates – Russia is responsible for producing over a quarter of the world’s commercial output – but for my money, Scotland produces the best raspberries on the market.

As relatives to the rose, I’m not sure raspberries can be beaten in the beauty stakes. Their delicate form and alluring brightness prove too tempting for greedy admirers to resist. For protection, they bury themselves in the knotted grasp of sharp thorns, which only intensifies the reward after you’ve scraped the backs of your eager hands when picking.

I love the tang of tartness a raspberry brings and how their soft, fuzzy skin bursts with sweet crimson juice. Without wishing to show disloyalty to our beloved strawberries, as far as the pudding menu goes, I’d always reach for the raspberries first. Indeed they are my favourite berry, shining most fervently in confections and cakes. I love the marriage of raspberries and bitter chocolate and find this combination of fresh, trembling raspberry mousse with a wickedly dark chocolate cake base, particularly irresistible.

Raspberry mousse-topped chocolate cake.

I have made mine in ring moulds, but you can just as easily serve this pudding in flat-bottomed glasses. Simply line the base of each glass with a disc of cake, before pouring the mousse over the top to set.

Enough to make 8 ring moulds or 6 glasses

For the chocolate cake

Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan)/325°F/Gas Mark 3 and grease and line a small roulade tin with baking parchment

1 large egg, separated
A pinch of salt
30g caster sugar
40g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
20g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
25g plain flour (or plain GF flour for a gluten-free version)
Half a teaspoon of baking powder
10g cocoa

Whisk the egg white with the salt to the stiff peak stage and set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolk and sugar until pale and mousse-like. Whisk in the melted butter and chocolate before sifting over the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet before carefully folding the beaten egg white into the mixture with a large metal spoon. Pour the batter into your prepared roulade tray – it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t reach the edges of the tin and gently smooth it out evenly with a palette knife. Pop the tray in the oven for about 8 – 10 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the raspberry mousse

500g fresh raspberries, plus extra for garnishing
A squeeze of lemon juice
2 large whole eggs
1 large egg, separated
75g caster sugar
110ml white pudding wine (I used Sauternes, but Muscat or Vin Santo are also delicious)
Half a small pot (approx. 150ml) of double cream
3 leaves of gelatine, soaked in cold water for 5 – 10 minutes to soften.

Blitz the raspberries (minus the prettiest specimens to top your puddings) in a blender until completely broken down. Pass it through a fine sieve to remove the pips and stir in a small squeeze of lemon juice to the raspberry purée.

Whisk the cream to stiff(ish) peaks before gradually whisking in the pudding wine. You can burn off the alcohol by heating the wine and leaving it to cool before adding it to your cream for a non-alcoholic version. Set aside for later.

Place the whole eggs plus extra yolk and sugar in a large bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk continuously until the mixture has doubled in size and is pale and mousse-y. Take the bowl off the heat and continue to whisk until cool and stir in the raspberry purée before folding in the wine-y cream.

Squeeze any excess water out of the gelatine and dissolve it in about a tablespoon of recently boiled water from the kettle before stirring it through the raspberry mixture. Whisk the egg white until soft peaks form and fold it into the raspberry mousse – this will create an extra lightness to the mixture.

Oil your ring moulds (if using) with a little smear of flavourless oil.  Use the moulds to cut out a perfectly fitting disc of sponge to line the bottoms before placing all the mould on a small tray. Pour raspberry mousse over the cakes right up to the top and leave the mousses to set in the fridge for at least three hours.

When you are ready to de-mould them, simply pop them, one at a time, on an upturned egg cup before quickly blasting a blowtorch round their sides to release them and slide the mould down to reveal a (hopefully) perfectly shaped mousse-topped cake, then use a palette knife to transfer it onto a serving plate. If you don’t have a blowtorch, you can use a hairdryer instead. Once all the mousses are plated, top them with your leftover fresh raspberries.

* Statistic taken from www.berrygardens.co.uk, 2010.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Off to print I go...

This is not a photo from the book, as Ryland, Peters & Small, the publishing 
house, own the copyright on those, so you'll have to wait!
hings are all getting quite exciting on the book front. Boutique Wedding Cakes: Bake and Decorate Beautiful Cakes at Home went off to production on Friday. So, it's official: I am an author! I am ridiculously excited to be able to say that and I can't wait to hold a copy in my hands. It's already available for pre-order on Amazon, though that is NOT, I repeat NOT, the front cover of the book (in fact, that photo gets barely a corner of a page in the real thing...). It will be in the shops in the US in October, but us folks in the UK will have to wait until January 2013. 

The book features 19 designs coupled with 19 different cake recipes, so it will still be usable as a lovely cook book once your wedding cake has been baked, iced and, finally, eaten. Recipes include green tea and ginger, chocolate and Guinness, pistachio and orange blossom and white chocolate and cardamom alongside the more traditional fare of rich, boozy fruitcake, vanilla sponge and lemon drizzle. As well as recipes and step by step guides on how to decorate the specific design projects, the book will take you through a "how to" of all the basics, from covering a cake with marzipan and sugar paste, rodding and stacking for presentation and piping techniques. I also include trouble shooting tips and how to deliver and present your wedding cake safely.