Wednesday, 29 December 2010

If this is Torture, Chain Me to the Wall

Disney Classic # 27 - Oliver and Company

I really enjoyed Oliver and Company - like many of the lesser-known Disney Classics, it's completely underrated. I'd decided quite early on that I would be basing this weeks cake on the appearance of one of the main characters in the film: a ginger cake for the ginger kitty Oliver. Simple as that really.

I used a recipe in my trusted Good Food's 101 Cakes and Bakes. I have to admit that I had a bit of a problem with the timing of this cake... the original recipe said to bake the cake at gas mark 3 for 30-35 minutes, but I thought no way a cake of this size would bake that quickly at such a low temperature, so I decided to put my cake in at gas mark 4 for 45 minutes. It ended up taking an hour and a half to cook!! In the end the cake was still warm when served and the icing started to melt... but the movie had ended and we were still waiting for the cake to cool! Nightmare! I'd recommend trying to bake this cake at gas mark 5 for 45 minutes, and see where that gets you... just give yourself a lot of time to play with!

Prep time: 20 mins           Cook time: 1 hour 30 mins           Serves: 8-10 slices

200g margarine
175g dark molasses sugar
3tbsp honey
150ml milk
2 large eggs
4 pieces stem ginger, drained from their syrup
300g self-raising flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
4 tbsp ginger syrup, drained from the jar
300g icing sugar
150g unsalted butter
2 tsp lemon juice

  1.  Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease and line a baking tin.
  2. In a large saucepan, gently melt the butter, sugar and honey over a low heat then leave to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Whilst the butter mixture is cooling, chop the stem ginger into very small pieces and place to one side. Beat the eggs in a small bowl.
  4. Once sufficiently cool, stir the milk into the butter/sugar mixture, followed by the beaten eggs and the chopped stem ginger.
  5. Sift the flour and ground ginger into the mixture and combine thoroughly.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface with the back of the spoon. Place in the preheated oven for around 1 hour 15 minutes - 1 hour 30 minutes, but check after 1 hour. When a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean the cake is done. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 1 hour before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Once cool, skewer the top of the cake in various places and pour 2 tbsp of the ginger syrup all over.
  8. Beat together the remaining syrup, icing sugar, butter and lemon juice until thick and smooth and spread this over the top of the cake. Cut into slices and serve ^_^

Next time it's The Little Mermaid - my first EVER Disney movie, and to celebrate I'll be trying my hand at baking and decorating a sea-themed novelty cake!
Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Thank You, Dawson.

Disney Classic # 26 - Basil the Great Mouse Detective

I think my rationale for choosing to make a cheesecake for this movie is fairly obvious; Basil is a Mouse, and mice like cheese... Besides, it's nice to try different kinds of dessert rather than making a sponge cake each week. Plus I absolutely love cheesecake, and have gotten pretty good at making it over the years. You'll have to forgive my dodgy photos of this cake... for some reason I just couldn't get a good shot! We also didn't have the DVD case as I borrowed this from a friend who bought it round on USB, so I think once I own Basil on DVD I'll make another cheesecake and replace these photos.

I first came across this cheesecake recipe in school, when I did a project on incorporating more fruit into the diet for my GCSE Food Technology. Suffice it to say that was many years ago, (and my mini-apple cheesecakes did not go down so well...) but I've now perfected the recipe to produce a delicious lemon cheesecake. Unfortunately I no longer have the original hand out the recipe was given to me on, nor my own notes from my trials when using the recipe in the project. In fact, I generally just guestimate when I'm making cheesecake so I wasn't even sure on the measurements!! For the purpose of the blog, I weighed everything 1 used this time... I figured that would be more helpful than saying "a packet of biscuits" and "a bit of butter". ^_^
Prep time: 30 mins    Cook time: No cook but needs at least 2 hours to set     Serves: 8-10

300g ginger biscuits
50g margarine
400ml double cream
400g cream cheese
200g icing sugar
2 tbsp lemon curd

  1. Line a loose based cake tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Break the biscuits into a food processor and blend until fine crumbs. Melt the margarine in a saucepan over a low heat, then mix this into the biscuit crumbs. Tip the crumb mixture into the lined cake tin, and press down firmly with the back of a spoon, until all of the crumbs are compressed and completely flat. Place this base into the fridge to set whilst you prepare the cheese filling.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the double cream to soft peak stage. Add the cream cheese, icing sugar and lemon curd and continue to whisk until the ingredients are well combined.
  4. Spoon the filling mixture onto the biscuit base and smooth the top. Place in the fridge to set for at least two hours - the longer the better though!
  5. To serve, carefully remove the cheesecake from the cake tin and cut into slices. 

Next time it's Oliver and Company, and I'll be making a yummy ginger cake for our little ginger protagonist.
Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


Disney Classic # 25 - The Black Cauldron

I didn't remember very much about the Black Cauldron, other than that it is the darkest Disney movie by far and scared the poopies out of my little sisters so much that we hardly watched it as kids. It is pretty creepy... from what I remembered before watching the movie this week there is this evil skull-faced king, and a magical cauldron, and if the king gets the cauldron he can raise an undead army... and there's this ginger kid who works on a farm and has a magic pig and he has to try to stop the evil king.

Why am I giving you this sketchy synopsis? Well, that's what I remembered of the film - so you can imagine how difficult it was to come up with an idea for a dessert to fit! Anyways, I did a little research and found out that the film is based on a book (or series of books) which in turn are based on Welsh folklore. And there is our connection!! I'd never made Welsh Cakes (or pice ar y maen) before, but they seemed to be akin to scotch pancakes, and my friend Sarah K said they're really tasty, so I decided to give them a go.

That's me on the left, showing my dislike for currants. Everyone else thought the cakes were fab.

Based on a recipe I found here. (I rely on BBC Good Food far too much for this!)

Prep time: 10 minutes      Cook time: 20 minutes      Makes: 8 cakes

225g plain flour
85g caster sugar (plus extra for dusting)
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g butter
50g lard, plus extra for frying
60g mixed dried fruits
1 egg
splash of milk (if required)

  1. Tip the flour, sugar, mixed spice and baking powder into a large bowl.
  2. Chop the butter and the lard into small pieces, and then add these to the bowl of flour.
  3. Rub the butter and lard into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse bread crumbs.
  4. Tip the mixed dried fruits into the bowl with the mixture, and stir in with your hands.
  5. In a separate smaller bowl, beat the egg. Add the egg to the rest of the mixture, stirring with a fork. Once the egg is mostly incorporated, begin to work the mixture with you hands to form a soft dough. If the mixture is too dry to bind as a dough, add a little milk as required.
  6. Dust the work surface well with flour and roll out the dough to roughly 1 cm thickness. Cut rounds out of the dough and place these to one side, and re-roll the trimmings to continue making cakes.
  7. Grease a heavy frying pan with lard and place over a medium heat. Fry the cakes in batches (I could fit three in my pan at once) until golden brown on both sides. For me this took roughly 2 minutes on each side, although I did flip them over a few times to make sure they weren't burning. Once cooked, dust the cakes with a little caster sugar and serve.

Next week we're watching Basil the Great Mouse Detective, and I'll be making a scrumptious cheesecake to go with it!

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Best of Friends

Disney Classic # 24 - The Fox and the Hound

Now this was one of my more clever ideas. I thought of it quite early on in the challenge, and haven't been able to come up with anything quite as good since. I took the idea from the film of using two things that stereotypically shouldn't go together, (such as a fox and a hound dog), but that actually work really well together, (such as Todd and Copper becoming best friends despite the notion they are natural enemies.) And that's how we ended up with chocolate chilli brownies ^_^ One would think that chocolate and chilli shouldn't go together, but actually they taste great!

Chocolate and chilli, the best of friends.

I based this recipe on one I found on a recipe card in my local supermarket back in February (it was a valentines recipe). As a side note - I love picking up recipe cards in supermarkets... they should do more of them! Anyways, these brownies are fairly simple and very very tasty - they are deliciously warming on a winters evening with a good cup of tea; I definitely recommend giving them a go!

Prep time: 20 mins       Cook time: 35-40mins      Serves: 9

1 red chilli pepper
225g margarine
100g cocoa powder
4 medium eggs
450g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g self raising flour
1 tsp extra hot chilli powder
icing sugar for dusting

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease and line a square baking tin.
  2. Melt the margarine in a small saucepan over a low heat. Once the margarine has completely melted, remove from heat and stir in the cocoa powder. Leave to one side to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Whilst the cocoa is cooling, chop the chilli pepper as finely as you are able to. Discard most of the seeds, but don't worry if a few are left over.
  4. Tip the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract into a large bowl and whisk until pale and foamy. 
  5. Stir in the cooled cocoa mixture, the flour and the chillies and beat until well combined. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40mins, until the top is firm but the middle is soft.
  6. Allow the brownies to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar and slice into squares to serve. 

Next week we're watching The Black Cauldron, and I'll be making traditional Welsh Cakes.

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

R-E-S-C-U-E Rescue Aid Society!

Disney Classic # 23 - The Rescuers

I have to be honest - I really really struggled to come up with an idea for this one (and it's sequel, The Rescuers Down Under!) When I first started this challenge, I made a list of the 49 movies in the Disney Classics Collection, and I used to write down any ideas I had for cakes next to the respective movie, so that I wouldn't forget. However, I ended up with 15 movies (including The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under) that I simply did not have a single idea for. It's not that I don't enjoy the Rescuers movies - I was just drawing a blank when it came to inspiration for the cakes!

As it turns out, sometimes good ideas come to you when you least expect them to. One night/morning way back in early September I woke at 5am and found myself unable to get back to sleep. So I started flicking through some recipe books, just to give myself a way to pass the time that wouldn't disturb my sleeping Mr. That was when I stumbled across a recipe for "porter cake". On reading the title, I initially thought, "Bernard is a porter! I could make a Bernard cake!" Yes!! An idea! OK, I know that technically Bernard is a "janitor" - but that's just a technicality, the two roles are synonymous (I even checked a thesaurus :-P) and of course, the "porter" in the recipe refers to beer rather than a job role - but I for one thought the link was great.

My one issue with this idea was that I didn't feel it right to make a "Bernard" cake without making a "Miss Bianca" cake - and I still needed an idea for The Rescuers Down Under, so I set about searching for my "Miss Bianca" recipe. And I found it the same evening! In a few weeks time I'll be making a sophisticated Hungarian Dobos Torte in honour of our sophisticated Hungarian madame mouse - this week I made a lovely porter cake in honour of Bernard, our porter/janitor extraordinaire.

This recipe came from, yep you guessed it, BBC Good Food's 101 Cakes and Bakes. I followed the recipe to the letter, as it was an unusual method I didn't want to ruin anything. As always, the 101 Cakes and Bakes recipe did not fail to impress!

Note: this cake takes a long long long time to bake! Just wanted to forewarn you!
Prep time: 40 mins     Cook time: 1 hour - 1 hour 15 mins        Serves: 8-10

175g slightly salted butter
450g mixed dried fruit
1 orange
175g light brown sugar
200ml porter (Guinness or Caffrey's)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 medium eggs
300g plain flour
2 tsp mixed spice
2tbsp flaked almonds
2tbsp coarse demerara sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 3, and grease and line a deep baking tin. (I used 7.5" round)
  2. Chop the butter into cubes and place this in a large saucepan, with the mixed dried fruit, the zest and juice of the orange, the light brown sugar, and the porter. Begin to heat the ingredients slowly, stirring consistently until the butter melts. Once the butter has melted increase the heat under the pan until the mixture comes to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, then stir in the bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will start to foam up, this is supposed to happen!
  4. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and then stir them into the mixture a little at a time.
  5. Sift the flour and mixed spice into the pan and mix well until completely combined.
  6. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the flaked almonds and demerara sugar onto the top of the cake and then bake in the oven for 1 hour - 1 hour 15, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. The cake tastes better if left in the cake tin until just before serving!

Next week we're watching The Fox and the Hound, and I'm dishing up some delicious chocolate chilli brownies.

Happy Thoughts