Saturday, 24 November 2012

Thai tuna cakes

Thai tuna cakes

After my dessert binge of the last few weeks (mud cakes and biscuits= too much sugar in the house!), it is time to return to something a little healthier for a Saturday lunch. I discovered a few tins of tuna lying at the back of the cupboard which were crying out to be used up, so in order to keep them light and healthy, without tasting too tinned tuna-like, I mixed them up with some veges, chick peas, fried them up, and voila- thai tuna cakes, or tuna patties, or fritters (whatever you want to call them!). Eat them on their own, with salad, or even on a burger. It's a pretty easy recipe to make; this one makes 6, which were promptly vacuumed up for lunch.
 Start by peeling a small sized onion and grate it up (Sunglasses are always useful at this point in time). You might need to cut the last few layers with a knife at the end, for fear of grating some fingers.
 As we don't want soggy patties, drain as much juice as you can out of the onion. Just throw the grated onion into a sieve, and press it down with your hand.
 Then take a can of chickpeas, and drain them.
 Place them in a bowl
Either using a blender, food processor, stick blender, or just a good old fashioned fork, half mash up the chickpeas. 
 It's always nice to be able to slightly tell what it is, so you don't need to entirely puree it!
 Then take two shallots, and slice them up.  Make sure you get all of the white part and some of the green stem too.
Throw the onion and shallots in with the chickpeas. 
 Find half a red large capsicum, and grate it up too- just like the onion, only without the tears.
Sieve this one too- there is a lot more water than in the onion though. 
Find some fresh herbs from the garden. I have parsley, and wish I had fresh coriander.  Had to use the powdered stuff, but still tastes ok! Slice this up and throw into the bowl. 

Now for the tins of tuna.  I used two small 95g tins, one was sweet chilli, one was natural flavour. 

Use two tins of sweet chilli if you have them, or two tins of natural, but just avoid the italian flavoured ones for this meal- it won't do much for the asian flavours.

Drain them with the sieve, and press it down to get rid of all the juice.

Throw that in the bowl.
And mix it all in. Easy huh?
A few more ingredients- stir in one egg, and 2 tablespoons of corn flour to keep them together. 
1 or 2 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce. Stir it in, with some pepper and a teaspoon of ground coriander and you're ready to start frying.
Heat some oil up in a pan on medium heat- about 2 tablespoons. Anything but olive oil which will again take away from the thai flavour, I used rice bran oil. Apparently it's good for you.
Take a big spoonful of mixture 
And once the oil has heated up, place them in the pan, making them into little cakes. Pan fry for about 4-5 minutes
Turn them over once one side is golden brown
 and pan fry for a further 4 minutes on the other side.
 Take them out, squeeze some lemon juice over them.  Then serve on a plate with a good dollup of sweet chilli sauce.

Thai tuna cakes

400g tin chickpeas
2 small tins tuna 95g each (natural smoked flavour or sweet chilli)
1 small brown onion, grated
2 shallots
1/2 large red capsicum, grated
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (plus fresh coriander if you have some)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 egg
2 tablespoons corn flour
1-2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

2 tablespoons oil
1/2 a lemon to serve
Extra sweet chilli sauce to serve

1. Grate onion and capsicum, and drain of excess juices. 
2. Drain chickpeas, and half mash the chickpeas up using a stick blender
3. Finely slice the shallots, the white part and half of the green
4. Drain the tins of tuna, and squeeze out excess juice.
5. Mix all ingredients together (except oil, and the lemon and extra sweet chilli sauce to serve).
6. Heat oil to a medium heat in a large frypan. Using a large spoon, place batter on a hot pan in 'cakes'.
7. Let the tuna cakes cook for about 4-5 mins, or until golden brown on one side, before turning them to cook the other side for about 3-4 minutes.
8. Serve hot with lemon juice and extra sweet chilli sauce.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

White chocolate mud cake part 2: decorating

White Chocolate mud cake part 2: decorating

So it's been a whole week since the last post of the making of the actual cake.  In the meantime, the cake has been frozen, defrosted, covered in a layer of chocolate and cream, another layer of almost pure sugar, skewered between two other cakes of differing sizes, had flowers and ribbons pinned to it, been cut and eaten by a happy bride and groom and their guests. Busy week for a cake!
Now this is not a comprehensive 'how to fondant a cake', as I am a bit of an amateur in this field, but the white chocolate ganache that goes under it is pretty good, and is definitely required to finish off the mud cake.

Icing layer number one: white chocolate ganache

Start with lots of white chocolate - 400 grams.  This is 100g more than I would use for the dark chocolate ganache, as white chocolate has a lower melting point than normal chocolate, you need extra to make sure it's not too runny to get some nice square edges on the cake.
Place the chocolate a saucepan on very very low heat, along with 84 mls of cream. Beautiful pouring cream rather than thickened cream works best. Keep stirring the whole time.
If it looks like the chocolate is melting too quickly, take it off the heat for a minute.
 Slowly the cream and chocolate will come together.
Until it's beautiful and smooth. It actually looks a lot like condensed milk. This process took about an entire 5 minutes. And there you have lovely ganache ready to put on your cake. 

As for putting it on the cake, it's really all a matter of pouring and smoothing.  But first, if you're making it for a special occasion and need a cake board, place a little ganache on the board to help the cake stick down and spread it around.

(Thanks Jess for taking these next few photos! Cake decorating is definitely a 2 handed, if not 4 handed task! I was very thankful for the support).

Place the cake on the board
And pour about half the ganache goodness on top.  
  It will start to smooth out on its own, but help it along with the smooth edge of a knife, or a very handy palate knife as I have.  Keep spreading it around the top, and then down over the sides. It's much easier to ganache the sides from the spillover on top, rather than applying it directly to the sides... well that method usually ends up in a mess for me.
Once it's a little over the sides, pour the rest on, and keep working it around until you have an evenly covered top and sides. 
Looking very focussed.  
And there it is all finished in the background, with its sister cakes: the 14 inch chocolate mud and the 6 inch marble white chocolate/dark chocolate mud. 

White Chocolate Ganache

400g white chocolate
84 mls of pouring cream

1. Over a very low heat, place the chocolate and cream in a saucepan.  Keep stirring and melt the chocolate into the cream. Take off heat if it is melting too quickly. Stir until smooth. This should take less than 5 minutes.
2. Pour on top of a white chocolate mud cake (Make sure cake is properly cooled if baking at the same time), and spread with a palate knife over the top and sides of cake until smooth.

And if you want to see the finished product, and some fondant-ing along the way, read on down.

Icing layer number two: Fondant 

For the 10 inch cake, we used about 750g of fondant.
 Knead it around, on a lightly icing-sugared surface
Spread it out, get a rolling pin and roll it out flat, turning it as you go to make a nice circle. It usually helps to do this on a silicone mat to stop it sticking to the bench top, but we did this on some baking paper and it worked out just fine.  
Once it's spread out and about 5mm thick all over (you can see this in the background of the photo below!), brush some hot water on your cake (to make the fondant stick), and flip the fondant on the cake (very easy if you took the silicone mat or baking paper option). 

Smooth it out either with either your fingertips, the palate knife, or even another ball of fondant. Start at the top and move down the sides, then cut off the excess around the base. You might also have to patch a few areas up around the base if the fondant didn't quite reach down.

I might have missed a few photos in here, but here is the finished product! Propped up with a few wooden stents so the layers don't collapse on each other.
And this is what it looks like when it's all dressed up (decorations not by me!) Beautiful!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

White chocolate mud (wedding!) cake

White chocolate mud cake

I feel very privileged to have been asked to make a friend's wedding cake, and so have been trying a number of white chocolate mud cake recipes to make sure I get it right! I already have a great dark chocolate mud recipe for the base layer, and needed a white chocolate one for a middle layer. Unfortunately I made the beginner's mistake of thinking it would be perfectly fine to switch the dark for white chocolate and leave out the cocoa. After it was cooked I remembered that cocoa tends to set things better than buttery white chocolate.  While it still tasted good,  I decided to bring bring in the experts for attempt number two, and this cake is adapted from a planet cake recipe (and worked perfectly!).

Firstly, as I'm baking it in a 10 inch round cake tin, there is always the issue of the outside cooking quicker than the inside of the cake, so I'm using two little tricks to keep this at bay.  Trick number one is lining the tin with brown paper and then with baking paper. 
This does feel a little like children's craft, tracing and cutting, but definitely helps your cake cook a little better! I use ordinary brown paper lunch bags, cutting along one side and the base to get a wide enough sheet to cover the base of the tin. Place the paper in the tin, trace a circle around the base, then cut your circle out cut.  Cut a few longer rectangle strips to cover the sides. Make them wide enough to come up over the top of the tin (this stops the cake browning too soon). Stick it all down with some butter, and do the same with the baking paper over the top of the brown paper.
 Now the preparation is done, we can get onto the baking! Measure out 300 grams of butter, and 270ml of water.
Place these in a pot on the stove over medium heat and let the butter melt into the water. Make sure it doesn't start simmering! 
Once the chocolate and butter are all mixed in, turn the heat off and add 300 grams of white chocolate.
 Stir in the chocolate until it is all melted and combined with the butter and water.
Smooth as glass. 
In a separate bowl, sift 300 grams of plain flour (2 1/4 cups) in with 150 grams of self raising flour (1 cup and 1 tablespoon). Stir to combine, or let your mixer sift and combine for you.
Measure 400 grams of caster sugar (about 2 cups- it looks a lot, I know!) and stir this in with the flour.
 In a third bowl, gently beat 3 eggs in with 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla essence.
You now have three separate bowls of ingredients, all ready to combine.  
Tip the egg into the flour first, along with 1/3 of the chocolate/butter mix 
Mix this until just starting to combine 
then slowly add the rest of the chocolate mix.  This should avoid any lumps forming 
Keep stirring until it's beautiful and smooth and runny, just as a mud cake should be.
Scrape all the batter into your beautifully lined tin.
Like so. Now here is trick number two of making the centre of the cake set. Buy a flower nail from any cake supplies place (or ebay!).  This is like a nail with a flat head which sits on the base of the tin. The extra bit of metal provides some heat to the centre of the cake, reducing baking time. When you pull the cake out of the tin, cut the top of the cake off, and flip it over for decorating, you can just pull it out.
Bake at 160 degrees c for 1 hour 50 minutes, or with the flower nail, 1 hour 40. Each oven will vary, so you may need more or less cooking time than these.  Make sure the cake's done by inserting a skewer or sharp knife in, and if no batter comes out, it's done. Cool it down in the tin. Enjoy in moderation, or for an extra special occasions, such as a wedding! As the wedding isn't for another week, I'm going to freeze this and pull it out a day beforehand to decorate. If you can't wait that long for the next decorating post... ice it with sour cream and white chocolate ganache (recipe below).

White chocolate mud cake 

300 g butter
270 ml water
300 g white chocolate 
300 g plain flour
150 g self raising flour
400 g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Brown paper, baking paper and extra butter to prepare the tin.

1. Prepare a 10 inch baking tin, by lining it with brown paper and baking paper.  Stick the paper down with some extra butter.
2. Place 300 g butter and 270ml water in a pot over moderate heat on the stove. Stir until butter has melted into the water and combined.
3. Take off the heat, and stir in the white chocolate. Stir until all chocolate is melted and combined.
4. In a separate bowl, stir together sifted plain flour with self raising flour and sugar.
5. Lightly beat the eggs and mix in vanilla essence.
6. Pour egg mixture and 1/3 of the chocolate mixture into the flour. Fold to combine. Slowly pour in the rest of the chocolate mixture in until smooth.
7. Pour mixture into baking tin. Bake at 160 degrees for 1 hour 40 (with a flower nail) or 1 hour 50 without. Test with a skewer or knife to check if it's done- if knife comes out clean.
8. Let it cool in the tin.

To ice the cake (will have to wait for this one!) make a white chocolate and sour cream ganache. Over a very, very low heat, in a saucepan melt 200g white chocolate and 90g sour cream. Keep stirring until combined. Let it cool slightly before icing cake.