Tag Archives: oven

Beetroot & Chocolate Cake

Finally, after months of waiting, I managed to get my hands on some raw beetroot. I’d been intending to make a beetroot and chocolate cake for ages… so I made this experimental number. It turned out brilliantly – a really juicy cake, nicely chocolatey, with just a hint of dirt. Lovely.

The pictures just came out looking like any old slab of cake, so here I’m treating you to an in-pan shot of the beetroot mixture as the marg is being melted into it.

It’s great once you mix it in with the chocolate as it bears a striking resemblance to puréed human flesh (if you believe the movies, at any rate). Also… in the interests of dietary requirements (after the gluten-free success last time) I note that this cake is dairy-free and eggless, but obviously check all your labels before cooking if you’re not sure. It also has plenty of vitamins A and E – respectively, 12 and 18% of the RDA, I calculate, if you’re dividing the cake into 8. But that is about 300kcal per slice, so don’t be scoffing it all back and blaming your podge on me.

Beetroot & Chocolate Cake
Makes a 9×13″ cake (use a baking dish).

2 medium/150g fresh raw beetroot, grated
1 cup/175g sugar
7 tbsp/125g margarine
1/2 tsp salt
pinch Chinese five-spice
1 cup water
2 cups/230g plain white flour
1/4 cup/30g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Place the beets, sugar, butter (or equivalent), salt, spice and water in a saucepan. Heat and simmer until the butter is melted, then put to one side to cool.

Sieve the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl. Grease a 9×13″ baking dish. When the beetroot mixture is merely warm, rather than scalding, mix into the dry ingredients. Pour into the prepared dish, and bake in a 160C oven for 35-40 minutes until a skewer/cocktail stick comes out clean.

Gluten-Free Pistachio & Chocolate Biscotti

Last Thursday was Bake Night at Casa Careless. Two birthdays and a spurt of enthusiasm led to these pinwheely delights:

and what I affectionately named Biscotti Mountain:

I actually made two lots of the biscotti, one set gluten-free, one set gluten-rich. Since the gluten-free one was my own adaptation, I thought I’d share (as when I was looking for gluten-free biscotti recipes I shied away in horror from just about all of them. So needlessly complicated!)

Gluten-Free Pistachio & Chocolate Biscotti
makes about 40-50 biscotti

200g plain gluten-free flour (I used this stuff, which is just what they had in the shop but seems very nice)
60g cocoa powder
150g caster sugar
50g plain chocolate
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
splash of milk, probably less than a tablespoon
100g roasted unsalted pistachios

Pulverise the flour, cocoa, sugar, chocolate, baking powder and salt in a food processor until the chocolate has broken into tiny pieces. Add the eggs, vanilla and a splash of milk and mix until a dough forms. Tip onto a floured surface and knead in the nuts. Divide into four and roll each out into a narrow log, about 3cm wide and 30cm long when flattened. Place onto a lined baking sheet and bake at 180C for 25 minutes.

When cooled, cut diagonally into 1-2cm size pieces. Y’know, like biscotti are supposed to look. Then put back into the oven for 15 mins, until further crisped. And you’re done.

The only real difference I found between the different flours was that the gluten-free didn’t hold its shape as well (I expected that) and was a bit stickier and harder to roll into logs. But that was solved just by keeping one hand to be coated in goo, and the other relatively clean and floured for rolling. Other than that, almost identical results for both batches.

Baking the blues away.

That’s not a football reference. In case you were worried.

I was hit by a sudden attack of the lonelies last night. In these situations nothing cheers me up more than baking – and even this baking took until this morning to fully take effect. Nice biscuits though. I shall share*.

Ginger Biscuits
Makes a tray of 12, which is 1 serving for a grumpy female.

4oz self-raising flour
2oz butter/marg
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2oz soft brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1/2 tsp water**

Rub the butter into the flour, soda and ginger. Add the sugar, syrup and water and mix well. Roll into walnut-sized balls, place on a tray with room to spread and flatten. Bake for ten minutes. Leave them on the tray to cool.

*The recipe. Not the biscuits. I ate all them pretty quickly. 😉
**The original recipe didn’t call for the water, but it’s so hard to mix it nearly made me cry. Add the water.

Sausage & Mushroom Flan

Recently, I’ve been thinking about flan. Firstly, thinking that it is an under-used word, most people preferring the more tinny and exotic ‘quiche’. And secondly, wondering exactly why it is that both flans and quiches tend to be so… well… grim. I mean, what is a flan, but an omelette in a pastry case? I like pastry; I like omelette; I like cheese and most of the other items that are generally put into quiches. So why so dismissive?

So this evening, I set about making one. And hurrah, I liked it! So much so it’s proving pretty difficult not to eat the whole thing right now. Must… save… some… for… breakfast…

Sausage & Mushroom Flan
Serves 2-4, depending on other dishes.

6oz plain flour
3oz butter/other fat if you’re that way inclined
1 onion, chopped
2 sausages, skinned and crumbled
1 clove garlic, crushed
good handful of mushrooms, sliced
dash oregano
dash chilli flakes
2 eggs
milk
grated cheese

OK. Make up some shortcrust with the flour and fat. Roll it out and fit into an 8″/20cm flan dish or cake tin or whatever. Prick the base with a for and pre-bake for about 10 minutes, but don’t let it dry out.

At some point – maybe when chilling the pastry – sauté the onion and sausage in a little oil, then add the garlic, mushrooms & flavours and sauté all until cooked. Beat the eggs with a splash of milk – about as much as you’d usually use in an omelette or scrambled egg.

Now arrange the sausagey bit in the pastry, pour the egg over the top, sprinkle with a little grated cheese and bake for about 30 minutes at 180C. Or until it’s done. I kinda forgot to check the time.

You know, I’m really quite pleased with this. Go flan!

Mushroom Jalousie

My mum used to make this for us when I was a kid – I think it’s quite possibly one of my favourite recipes ever. I’m not sure if she knows that… Actually, I think I’ve had drunken conversations with her when I’ve slurred my appreciation for it, so it’s all ok. I have expressed my gratitude for it. Anyway, it’s one of those recipes I pretty much know off by heart, and which I don’t really alter any time I do it. It’s quick and simple, and brilliant comfort food.

Mushroom Jalousie
Serves 3

250g puff pastry
1 onion, chopped
175g mushrooms, chopped in a similar fashion
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp marmite
3 slices worth of breadcrumbs
50g cheese, grated
1 small egg, lightly beaten

Sauté the onion and mushrooms in a little olive oil until the juices start to run. Remove from heat and stir in the basil, pepper & marmite; then add the breadcrumbs and cheese, and lastly the egg.

Roll out the pastry to about the size of your baking tray. Fold in half along the long edge to make a crease, then fold one of those halves over again and cut diagonal slashes in it. Unfold and lalala you have little arrow shapes like > > > in your pastry.

Pile the filling on the other side, wet the edges, fold the > > > side over the top of the filling and mush the edges together so they stick and seal. Brush with milk (for a glaze) and bung in the oven for 20-25 mins until pretty and golden.

(Alternatively, divide pastry and make cute little pasties, bake for a bit less time then freeze individually for ready meal goodness.)


Now, discussions. The cheese only needs to be cheddar or somesuch… did think about experimenting with stilton but the marmite gives it enough of a salty kick, so I don’t think it’s necessary. Also, is a bit of over-complication for something which is supposed to be down-to-earth and, umm, uncomplicated.

Oh 3 slices of bread is about 100g. If that makes much of a difference. And you’ll only be using half a block of bought puff pastry, so you can use the rest to make cheese straws/other pastry-based snacks. In fact I’m considering mince pies… I have at least one jar of mincemeat in the cupboard that I failed to make anything with at Christmas.

Cinnamon Scones

I got a craving for scones. So I made some.

Cinnamon Scones
Makes 12

8oz plain flour
4 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 oz butter
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp (ish) milk

Sift the dry ingredients and rub in the butter. Mix in the milk to make a springy dough. Knead lightly and roll out to about 1/2″ thick. Cut in 2″ rounds, brush with milk, whack on a baking sheet and into the oven for 10 minutes. Done.