Category Archives: Cakes

No Oven? No Problem – Make an Orange Charlotte!

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Hi there. It’s been a while, I know. Since I last posted here I have changed jobs twice, and I now have quite a long commute and a lot less time for blogging. I have also become a bit lazy and keep forgetting to take pictures as I cook. I have missed my blog though, and I am ready to revive it and start posting again ; probably not every week but hopefully regularly enough.
So here goes : the return of the Greedy Frog!

I was cooking a bit of a special lunch for our family last weekend . When planning the menu I decided on a Carbonnade à la Flamande (aka Belgian Ale and Beef stew) because it is delicious and can be made ahead and then just reheated in the oven (Nigella’s recipe in case you were wondering). This solved one problem,  namely how to serve a slow-cooked casserole for lunch without needing to get up at dawn to prepare it. It however created another problem: the carbonnade left no room in the oven for a baked dessert. This is an issue for me because baked desserts are by far my favourites, both to eat and to make so I haven’t got many recipes for no – bake options.

I also have an irrational aversion for fridge cheesecakes (it is a cheeseCAKE for crying out loud, it needs to be baked!!!) so this was really not an option. 

As I was leafing through cookbooks looking for inspiration, I remembered one of my Mum’s dinner-party staples from when I was a kid: the fabulous Orange Charlotte (yes I did grow up in the 80’s). It always looked stunning and drew a lot of oohs and aahs from the guests; and it tastes pretty good too. I remember thinking at the time that it was a rather decadent and terribly sophisticated dessert; nowadays I am not quite so awed by it anymore, but I still think it is rather special and a lovely centrepiece.   

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A word of warning: Us French people usually like to sneak quite a bit of alcohol in most recipes, and this one is no exception. Just remember that this Charlotte is not cooked (apart from the custard) so if you are catering for children or teetotallers make sure you omit the booze. Or put it in and just send the kids to bed early, your choice.

You will need (for an 18 cm Ø Charlotte mould):

3 oranges

500 ml milk

250 ml double cream

6 egg yolks (freeze the whites to make meringues another day)

220 g caster sugar

7 tbsp orange liqueur (optional, see intro. You can replace it with orange syrup)

1 tbsp. cognac (optional)

8 gelatine leaves (or enough to set 1 litre of liquids, check the packet instructions)

24/30 sponge fingers

Method:

Line the charlotte mould with cling film (if you can’t get hold of a charlotte mould, find a deep bowl or cake tin of the correct diameter with sides roughly the same height as your sponge fingers; a pudding basin works well too). Put your gelatine leaves to soak in a bowl of cold water.

Make the custard: Pour the milk into a large saucepan and grate the zest of 1 orange into it (reserve the orange to make the syrup). Bring to the boil then leave to cool a little. In a large heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and 150 g of the sugar until pale. Add the milk gradually, whisking briskly (the milk should be warm rather than hot to avoid curdling the egg yolks). Pour the mix back into the saucepan and set on a low heat to thicken. This should take about 20 min, but make sure you stir constantly to stop it catching, and keep the heat low or the eggs will scramble. Patience is key here! When the custard coats the back of the spoon, take it off the heat. Drain the gelatine then add it to the custard, along with 2 tbsp. orange liqueur if using. Leave to cool.
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Meanwhile, make the syrup: Squeeze the juice of the reserved orange into a measuring jug; make it up to 200 ml with water, add 1 tbsp. sugar, and transfer to a small pan with the squeezed-out halves and simmer on a low heat until reduced and syrupy. Drain into a jug, pressing the skins well to get as much flavour into the syrup as possible.

In a large bowl, whisk the double cream to a stiff Chantilly. Add the cooled custard gradually, mixing delicately to avoid knocking the air out of the Chantilly.

In a shallow bowl, pour the orange syrup and add 3 tbsp. orange liqueur (if using). Quickly dip the sponge fingers into the syrup on both sides, and line the bottom and sides of the mould. Fill the mould with the custard / Chantilly mix almost to the top, and finish with another layer of sponge fingers dipped in syrup (you can break off bits of the sponge fingers to fill in any gaps).
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Refrigerate for at least 6 hrs or ideally overnight.

To decorate, peel the leftover oranges, separate into segments and remove all the peel and pith. If you have time, finely cut the peel and blanch it for a minute in boiling water with 2 tbsp of sugar mixed in. Drain.

To serve, simply invert the charlotte onto a serving plate, and arrange the orange segments around and on top of it, and the peel if using.

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The Best Strawberry Cheesecake

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This is the cheesecake recipe I turn to when time is in short supply but I still want to make something delicious for the following day.  I started making this at 8 pm tonight,  less than an hour later,  it was ready to come out of the oven!

You can vary the recipe depending on what is in season (or which tinned fruit is languishing at the back of your cupboard).  I used rosewater as a flavouring but natural vanilla extract or lemon zest would be lovely too.

You will need :

8 digestive biscuits
50g melted butter
600g cream cheese (I use 300g full-fat and 300g light)
2tbsp plain flour
175g caster sugar
2 tbsp rosewater
2 eggs +1 yolk
142 ml sour cream
400g strawberries
1 tbsp icing sugar

Method :

Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/gas 4. Butter a 20 cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper.

In a food processor,  crush the biscuits into fine crumbs. Mix thoroughly with the melted butter and press into the base of the tin with your palm. Bake for 5 min.

Meanwhile, whisk the cream cheese, flour, sugar, rosewater, eggs, egg yolk and sour cream until well mixed and fluffy.

Wash half the strawberries,  hull and cut into quarters.

Pour the mixture delicately over the biscuit base, then scatter the strawberries over the top and push them down slightly. 

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Bake for 40 min until set but still wobbly in the middle.

Cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar, then carefully ease out of the tin when cool and transfer to a serving plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Keep 3 or 4 strawberries to one side, and wash, hull and quarter the rest. Put in a small pan with the icing sugar and cook on a low heat for a few min until soft. Blend to a smooth purée.

Before serving, thinly slice the remaining strawberries, and arrange on each plate with a slice of cheesecake and a drizzle of strawberry purée.

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Chocolate Orange Brownies

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These brownies are deliciously moist and bursting with flavour. The richness of the chocolate teamed up with the orange makes for a wonderful combination.

I came up with this recipe when I was preparing for a charity bake sale at work. A colleague asked for brownies to be included but he is allergic to nuts. I didn’t want to just make a plain chocolate brownie, because I like something to counteract the richness of the chocolate. I instantly thought of including orange but I didn’t think that just chucking orange zest into the mix would deliver enough flavour.

Then I remembered the celebrated clementine cake by Nigella The Great, and decided that a boiled orange would deliver a strong orange taste and help keep the brownies moist. I added the candied peel for texture, but you can do without if you prefer your brownies without “bits” in them.

The finished recipe received a very enthusiastic reception and I have had several requests for these brownies since!

You will need:

1 orange
250 g dark chocolate
150 g butter
3 medium eggs
100 g demerara sugar
150 g caster sugar
85 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
40 g chopped mixed candied peel (optional)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160C/ fan 140C/Gas 3.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Immerse the orange (whole and un-peeled) into the water, and boil for 30 min. Drain, then purée the orange (with a stick blender or in a food processor). Leave to cool.
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Melt the chocolate and butter together, either in the microwave or in a small pan set over a very gentle heat. Leave to cool.

With an electric whisk, or in a stand mixer beat the eggs until pale, then gradually add the sugars and whisk until pale and foamy.
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Add the melted chocolate, then the orange mixing gently in between. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold gently.

Pour delicately into a greased tray bake tin (mine is about 20×30 cm)and scatter the candied peel over the top.
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Bake for about 20 to 25 min. It is ready when a skewer comes out mostly clean but with a few crumbs attached; don’t over-bake your brownies or they will be dry!

Turn out onto a wire rack, and cut into rectangles when cool.

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Mince Pies: The Taste of Christmas

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Mince pies are among my favourite Christmas treats. When I first came across mince pies, shortly after moving here from France, I was intrigued by the name: did these crazy Brits really eat sweetened meat? A quick Google search reassured me that this wasn’t the case anymore, and only the suet remained from what was originally a meat-based dish. Vegetable suet can of course be substituted if you prefer.

Baking mince pies has to be the best way to spend a cold December afternoon; it is a real joy to bring the lovely, golden pies out of the oven and it makes the whole house smell of Christmas!
This recipe makes more mincemeat than you need. Store the remainder in sterilized jars and keep for another baking session; or decorate the jars with pretty labels to make a lovely home-made gift!

You will need (for 24 mince pies) :

For the mincemeat:

250g Bramley apples, peeled and grated
100g sultanas
60g currants
70g dried cranberries
180g raisins
110g chopped mixed peel
30g chopped almonds (optional)
4tbsp brandy
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
170g dark muscovado sugar
120g shredded vegetable suet

For the pastry:

450g plain flour
230g cold butter, diced
Juice and grated zest of 1 orange
1 beaten egg
Icing sugar

Method:

Make the mincemeat:

In a large saucepan, combine the apple, dried fruit, peel, almonds, alcohol, zest, juices, and spices. Cook over a low heat, stirring regularly, until the mix is fairly dry and the dried fruit has plumped up (this should take 45 min to 1h).

Leave to cool, then mix in the suet and muscovado sugar.

Make the pastry:

To make by hand, rub the flour into the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, add the zest and juice and bring together into a ball ( add a bit of iced water if necessary).
Alternatively use a food processor: mix the flour and butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, then add the zest and juice and mix again until it comes together, adding a bit of iced water if necessary. Knead lightly a couple of times.
Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 15 to 20 min.

Assemble the mince pies:

PrehEeat the oven to 190*C/ fan 170*C/ Gas 5. Cut the pastry into 2 pieces, about one third to two thirds.
Roll out the larger piece (leave the other piece in the fridge) on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 3 mm. With an 8 cm round fluted cutter, stamp out 24 bases and use them to line 2 12-hole mince pie tins, or patty tins ( you will need to re-roll the trimmings).
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Fill each pastry case with about 1 tbsp mincemeat.
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Roll out the rest of the pastry as before, and cut out 24 lids with a 7 cm cutter.
Brush the edges of the pastry cases with water, then press a lid down on each base, sealing well.
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Make 3 slits in each pie top with a sharp knife, then brush with some beaten egg and bake for about 20 min or until nice and golden.
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Cool for 10 min in the tins, then remove to a wire rack and dredge with icing sugar.

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Filed under Bakes, Cakes, Christmas, Desserts, Pastry, Pies, Sweet Tarts

Lemon and Raspberries Layer Cake

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I made this for Mr Greedy Frog’s birthday. We gathered a few friends and relatives and had a lovely, relaxed barbecue in our garden. This cake was the perfect conclusion to the meal: it is special enough to be a Birthday cake, yet it isn’t too fussy. And it is also very easy to make, which is always a bonus when you are entertaining. I made the sponge the night before, then made the filling and assembled the cake on the day. Easy, peasy!

You will need:

For the sponge:

225 g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

200 g caster sugar

200 g butter

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp milk

Zest 1 lemon

For the filling and topping:

400 g medium-fat soft cheese

Zest and juice 1 lemon

100 g icing sugar + 1 tbsp for dusting

4 tbsp lemon curd

200 g raspberries

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180ºC/fan 160ºC/gas 4. Line a deep, well-greased 18cm round tin.

Put all the ingredients except the milk into a large bowl and whisk until well combined (or use a stand mixer). Add the milk and gently stir it through.

Pour the batter into the tin, and bake for 50 to 60 min or until a skewer comes out clean.  Cool in the tin for 10 min, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

When the cake has cooled down, make the filling. Beat the cream cheese, zest, juice and 100 g icing sugar until smooth. Reserve.

Cut the sponge into 3 layers of equal thickness. Spread the bottom layer with a third of the filling, top with the middle layer and more filling, then the top layer. Spread the remaining filling over the top of the cake, dollop the lemon curd all over, and finish with the raspberries. Dust with icing sugar.
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Raspberry and Rose Cheesecake Sandwich

raspberry and rose cheesecake sandwich

I created this cake for a competition I entered. I had in mind a cross between a cheesecake and a Victoria sandwich, and I must admit I am rather happy with the result!

It took a little bit of work to get the texture right for the filling, as it needs to be dense enough to support the sponge on top and keep its shape, while still being creamy and light.

I am no cake decorator, hence the simple topping of fresh fruit with a dusting of icing sugar (almost anything looks fancier with icing sugar!).

I didn’t win the competition, by the way, and I realised that I am actually quite a bad sport: never mind the taking part, I really wanted to win! 🙂

You will need:

 For decorating:

About 150 g mixed raspberries and strawberries
Icing sugar
1 pink rose
1 egg white
2 tbsp granulated sugar

 

For the sponge:

4 eggs
225 g caster sugar
225 self-raising flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
225 g butter, at room temperature, diced
50 g raspberries

 

For the raspberry coulis:

50 g raspberries
2 tbsp icing sugar
3 tbsp rose water

 

For the cheesecake filling:

150 g double cream
50 g crème fraîche
250 g cream cheese
200 g cottage cheese
100 g caster sugar
30 ml rose water
8 g gelatine (leaves)

 

Method:

 The day before:

Gently peel the petals off the rose, rinse and pat dry with kitchen paper. Lightly wisk the egg white. Dip the petals in it one by one, shaking off any excess and arrange them on a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Sprinkle with the granulated sugar, and leave to dry for 24h.

 On the day; make the sponge.

Switch the oven on to 180C/ fan 160C/ gas 4. Grease and line 2 x 20 cm Ø sandwich tins.

Whisk the eggs, butter and sugar together until just combined, then fold in the flour and baking powder, being careful not to over mix. Finally, add the raspberries.

Divide the batter between the two prepared tins and bake for about 25 min, or until golden and springy in the middle, and the edges are coming away from the tin. Cool in the tins for 5 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

 Make the coulis:

In a small pan, put the raspberries, icing sugar and rose water and bring to the boil over a low heat, lightly crushing the raspberries with a spoon. Leave to simmer for about 5 mins or until slightly reduced and syrupy. Leave to cool.

 Make the filling:

Soak the gelatine leaves in a small bowl of cold water.

Mix the double cream and crème fraîche and whisk to stiff peaks.

In another bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, cottage cheese, sugar and rose water.

Squeeze the softened gelatine to release excess water. In a small pan, boil 1 tbsp water, add the gelatine and stir to melt, then pour straight away into the cream cheese mix and stir through. Gently combine the cream cheese mix with the whipped cream.

Mix 1 tbsp of the filling into the raspberry coulis, then pour the coulis into the filling, stirring once or twice to get a marble effect.

 Assemble the cake:

Place one of the cakes on a serving plate, and top with big dollops of the filling; keep going until the filling is all used up. Use a palette knife to straighten the edges and flatten the top, but don’t worry about being too tidy at this stage. Refrigerate for about an hour, then top with the other sponge and use the palette knife to neaten the filling up a bit. Chill for another hour.

Just before serving, top the cake with the raspberries and strawberries, dot with the candied rose petals, and sprinkle with icing sugar.

 

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Chocolate Charlotte

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I made this as a treat for Mr Greedy Frog and my father-in-law on Father’s day (which shows how long it took me to actually post this recipe!).

This recipe has been in my family for a long time; my grandmother used to make a bit of extra money by helping a local caterer with food preparation, and this is one of the recipes she learnt in this job. Her boss was renowned for her Chocolate Charlotte, and for every event she catered for, they would make a large number of these. This was in the days before food processors and other gadget went mainstream, so a strong arm was essential to cream all this butter and sugar!

I am taking what my grandmother would see as an easy way out: I use my beloved KitchenAid for this recipe; if you are doing it by hand, make sure you don’t cut corners during the creaming stage or the end result will be a bit grainy.

*Warning: This dessert contains raw eggs and a teeny bit of alcohol, so if you are pregnant you will need to bookmark it for later; if you are a teetotaller you can try using rosewater, or maybe coffee extract.

You will need (for 6 to 8 portions):

125 g butter
125 g caster sugar
125 g good quality dark chocolate
4 eggs
300g to 400g sponge fingers (depending on size)
4 tbsp dark rhum

Method:

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth.

Separate the eggs; keep the whites for later and add the yolks to the preparation.

Melt the chocolate then add to the bowl. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and add to the rest of the preparation.

In a shallow dish, mix the rhum with 4 tbsp water. Quickly dip the sponge fingers in the rhum, then use them to line your Charlotte tin (or a pudding basin). Tip in half the chocolate mixture.

Add another layer of sponge fingers, then the rest of the mixture.
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Finish with another layer of sponge fingers. Cover with a small plate slightly smaller than the tin, and press down firmly. Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.

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Filed under Cakes, Christmas, Desserts