The Royal Dubonnet cake

As I alluded to in my previous recipe, Dubonnet with gin, Darina had an idea of making a cake based on the Queen’s favourite drink. After giving it a little thought, I decided to use my old recipe for lemon drizzle with gin and combine it with some sort of Dubonnet ‘element’.

Dubonnet is classed as a fortified wine which is flavoured with herbs and spices. I’ve not come across it before last week but I’m instantly a big fan. It’s similar to port wines but even a little sweeter and those herbs give it a slightly unusual, more complex taste.

But how to incorporate this lovely drink in a cake that already is an adventure by itself? Three words: royal icing & jelly. I’m not a fan of cream cheese or buttercream icing but what I do like is royal icing (no eggs in mine). The Dubonnet gives the icing a beautiful, soft, colour that is somewhere between pink and purple. Kind of reminds me of flowering heather.

I’ve not made jelly in a long time so this was quite a lot of fun. Idea behind that was to leave a more distinctive and noticeable appearance of the wine in the cake, you could eat it by itself from inside the cake. My jelly layer ended being just over 1 cm thick (using 23 cm cake base and 50 cl of fluid, more on this in a bit), you could shine a light through it as it sat there sandwiched between two layers of lemon drizzle.

OK, enough chat, on to the recipe. I really hope you give this a try, I know it’s a bit of work but it’s quite likely the best cake I’ve ever made–or tasted for that matter.

The Royal Dubonnet cake

Moist cake that’ll definitely impress your guests. Pretty alcoholic so don’t let kids go crazy with this.

Ingredients: Lemon drizzle base

  • 225 g soft butter
  • 255 g sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 255 g self raising (or plain flour and 2 tsp baking powder)
  • grated zest of a lemon
  • 20 cl lemon gin liqueur
  • 10 cl apple juice
  • juice of one lemon
  • 25 g sugar

Ingredients: Dubonnet jelly

  • 30 cl Dubonnet
  • 20 cl red grape juice
  • gelatine (vegetarian if available)

Ingredients: Royal icing

  • 250 g icing sugar
  • 40 ml Dubonnet

Method: lemon drizzle base

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C
  2. Mix soft butter with sugar using a hand mixer. Continue mixing and add eggs one at a time
  3. Then add flour and lemon zest. Only mix until dough is thoroughly mixed
  4. Pour into a 23 cm cake tin and bake for 45 minutes or until ready. (Normally I don’t recommend using a silicone base but as we’re using the same base to make our jelly it is advisable. It is perhaps easier to get the jelly out of a silicone one.)
  5. When ready, let it cool for 5 minutes, remove from the base and slice in two. Horizontally, obviously.
  6. Dribble the mix of gin, apple juice and sugar on the cake to moisten it. Remember to do both sides and pour on the cut side.

Method: jelly

  1. Pour the red grape juice and Dubonnet in a small sauce pan
  2. Whisk in the gelatine
  3. carefully bring to boil and simmer for a minute
  4. Pour the mix in to the cake base used for making the cake (make sure it’s not one with a removable bottom)
  5. Put it in a fridge for at least an hour to set

Method: the assembly

  1. Once the jelly has set or you’re almost ready to serve it, place bottom of the cake with cut side down on top of the jelly.
  2. Put a plate on top and in one continues fast movement bring the whole thing upside down
  3. Place it on a table and carefully remove the cake tin. You should end up with cake in the bottom with a clear layer of jelly on top of it
  4. Now all you need to do is put the other half of the cake on and spread royal icing on top
  5. When mixing the royal icing, make sure it’s very thick. It will suck moisture out of the cake and flow down the sides

Quick notes

While it’s OK to make the lemon drizzle base the day before serving, do not add the jelly layer much before serving. The sponge will literally suck the jelly dry in about a day and you’re left with a layer of jam.

Preparation time: 1 Hours

Cooking time: 2 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

A Dubonnet with gin, shaken

I wasn’t planning on posting this but what the heck. It was so nice I can’t keep it to myself.

I had a chat a few days ago with Darina about what kind of cake I should make for this years street party and she suggested doing something Royal. Perhaps somethings based on the Queens favourite drink. As it happens it is not a gin and tonic but a Dubonnet with gin. (Yeah, I know… You can never be sure what her favourite drink is. I mean, I keep changing my mind through out the evening.) Dubonnet isn’t something I’d normally have in the house and as I’m not making the cakes until tomorrow morning, we thought we might as well give Her drink ago. Turns out the drink is actually really good. Here’s how to make one.

Dubonnet and gin cocktail

Favourite drink of Her Majesty, Queen Elisabeth II. Allegedly.

Ingredients

  • 4 cl Dubonnet
  • 3 cl gin
  • slice of lemon
  • ice

Method

  1. Mix Dubonnet and gin in a shaker with some ice
  2. Strain on top of the lemon and ice in a glass
  3. Drink and think of England

Preparation time: 1 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 1

Shortbread

Having always been a fan of shortbread, it’s surprising I’ve not made any before last week. I was inspired by our friend Sara Macdonald who gave some of her home baked shortbread to Darina for her birthday.

Turns out, shortbread is very easy to make. Just look at the main ingredients; flour, butter and sugar. Very simple, even regular bread has more ingredients.

Shortbread

Ingredients

  • 125 g butter
  • 60 g sugar and extra for topping
  • 180 g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 190C.
  2. Start by mixing sugar, soft butter, salt and vanilla using an electric whisk
  3. Add flour and mix until just properly mixed. You should now have a bowl of crumbs
  4. Press into brick using your hand and place on the work surface
  5. Roll into a 1 cm thick rectangular and cut into fingers
  6. Place the shortbread fingers on a baking tray and freeze for 5-10 minutes
  7. Once they’ve gone a little hard, roll them in sugar and place back on the baking tray
  8. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until they start looking golden brown around the edges

Quick notes

Be careful not to over bake or make them too thin, this will make them too cruncy. Unless of course, you want them too cruncy.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 12-20

And here’s a little more of a British Easter tradition

This is perhaps a little late for Easter 2012 but in good time for 2013. Again, I’ve not made these before but they turned out really well and we’re liked by all. This is a slightly modified recipe of the BBC original.

Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients

For the buns
  • 625 g strong white flour
  • 8 g salt
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 45 g butter
  • 85 g sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 10 g dried yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 275 ml warm milk
  • 150 g raisins
  • And for the topping
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup

Method

  1. Start by sieving the flour, salt and mixed spice into a large bowl. Rub the butter in the flour.
  2. In a separate smaller bowl, mix the milk, sugar, yeast and lemon zest. Leave it for 10 minutes or until you can see that the yeast has started.
  3. Combine above in the larger bowl and add your raisins at the same time.
  4. Once properly mixed, knead for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Leave it to rise for at least an hour or until doubled in size.
  6. Knock it back, divide into 16 equal size little balls and place them on a lightly buttered baking tray. (I do the division by splitting in twos.)
  7. Cover the baking tray with cling film and leave in a warm place for 30-60 minutes or until they’ve risen nicely. Mine took quite a while so be patient.
  8. Pre heat your oven to 240° Celsius or ‘rather high’ gas mark.
  9. While waiting for your oven to heat, mix 2 tablespoons of plain flour and a little bit of water in to a paste and spoon into a piping bag.
  10. Use the paste to draw a cross on the buns.
  11. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and ready.
  12. Once out of the oven, brush the buns with warmed up golden syrup for that distinctive glaze.
  13. Let them cool down for five minutes or enjoy straight away.

Preparation time: 2-3 hour(s)

Cooking time: 10-20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 16

Easter treat from the East

Or well, east at least if you’re standing in the Western Europe. If I look back at my childhood and what I remember Easter for it has to be these two things; mämmi and paskha. Mämmi is a Finnish dessert that–how should I say this–doesn’t travel well because of its appearance. (Go ahead, click on the link and you’ll understand)

The second, paskha, traveled well into Finland from Russia back when we used to be part of the empire and get more influences from the Eastern Orthodox church.

Paskha or Pascha is a festal dish made in Eastern Orthodox countries of those foods which are forbidden during the fast of Great Lent. It is made during Holy Week and then brought to church on Great Saturday to be blessed after the Paschal Vigil. The name of the dish comes from Pascha, the Eastern Orthodox celebration of Easter.

Wikipedia

It’s been part of my family’s Easter celebrations for as long as I remember and probably my favourite thing about the season. Of course, as a Finn, I should pick mämmi but try both side by side and tell me this isn’t better.

Without further ado, here’s my mums recipe for paskha.

Paskha

Ingredients

  • 250 g formage frais or quark (try and find the full fat versions of these, really makes a big difference)
  • 70 g butter
  • 70 g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 75 ml whipping cream
  • 50 g raisins
  • 30 g crushed almonds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 heaped tablespoon candied orange peel (or mixed peel)

Method

  1. Gently whip the cream for a minute or two. You’re not trying to make whipped cream, just to give a bit more body
  2. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together really well
  3. Pour in to a paskha mold (more on this later), cover and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours or over night

Notes

I don’t actually have a paskha mould and wasn’t able to get one for this Easter. I made mine in a coffee filter holder with the filter in the place. If you do this, remember to wet the filter before pouring in your mixture. Traditionally paskha is made in a wooden mould that gives it its distinctive shape (see below). You can of course use anything that’s suitable as a mould. One thing is that excess fluid must be able to strain away so muslin and a hole in the bottom is needed. Maybe try a flower pot? This recipe filled a regular sized coffee filter and there was a little bit extra.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 12 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Spiced Cake in a Pool of Chocolate Sauce

This is again one of my mums old recipes. I’ve made it time and a time again, always with great success. Only little addition I made this time is the pool of chocolate sauce it sits in. I’ve been off sweets and chocolate for almost two and a half months now so any reason to incorporate a bit of chocolate in a cake, I’ll take it.

Spiced Cake or Maustekakku as it’s called in Finnish

Hazzle free cake with chocolate sauce.

Ingredients

  • 450 ml plain flour
  • 300 ml soft brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 5 tsp mixed spice
  • 2-3 apples, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 ml sour cream
  • 100 g melted butter

Method

  1. Gently mix all the ingredients
  2. Bake in the oven at 175°C for one hour
  3. Let it cool down for 30 minutes and pour chocolate sauce on top. Generously.

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Chocolate sauce

Ingredients

  • 200 g milk chocolate
  • 100 ml double cream
  • 1 knob of butter

Method

  1. Heat up the cream and butter
  2. Once they they’re almost at boil, turn of the heat and mix in the chocolate

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

Fresh and Sweet Pea Soup

Pea soup is a traditional Thursday food in Finland. The tradition goes back all the way to the 15th Century when Finland used to be Catholic. People used to fast on Fridays so it was important to eat something nutritious and filling the day before. Although Finland became Lutheran in the 16th Century, the tradition lived on. Today many schools and the Army serve pea soup on a Thursday. For the same reasons, pea soup is also eaten on Shrove Tuesday, day before the fast begins.

Most pea soup eaten in modern day Finland is made with dried peas and is sold in 400 gram tins. As my corner shop doesn’t carry any dried peas, I decided to make up the recipe with fresh ones. Better for it. The soup turned out lovely, fresh but also sweet and filling. I’ve not added any ham to keep this vegetarian but if you feel like it, throw in a couple of handfuls of diced ham about a minute before taking it off the heat.

Fresh Pea Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 500 g fresh frozen peas
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • knob of butter
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • salt
  • 1/3 tsp white pepper
  • egg

Method

  1. Sauté the chopped onions with the butter for about four minutes
  2. Meanwhile, place the egg in boiling water for 10 minutes
  3. Add the stock, peas, a pinch of salt, white pepper and the mustard
  4. Bring it back to boil and once it does, leave it to simmer for another four minutes
  5. Blitz with a hand mixer until almost smooth
  6. Serve with half a hard boiled egg
  7. Garnish with small basil or mint leave but don’t use olive oil as I did. It just doesn’t go with it

Quick notes

I’ve tagged this as vegan which it obviously isn’t. But if you substitute butter with vegetable oil and leave the egg out, the pea soup suddenly become suitable for vegan diets. This recipe serves two as a main or four as a starter.

Preparation time: 2 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Thick Pizza Sauce

As most thing we do, my pizza sauce is going through a perpetual rebirth. 2011 draws to a close and this is now my favourite. This recipe makes for about 3-5 pizzas, depending on how long you let it simmer and how much you use. Worry not if you make too much, it makes a perfect pasta sauce the next day.

Pizza Sauce version: #6 // Dec 2011

Ingredients

  • Clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Tin of plum tomatoes (400 g)
  • 30 g tomato pure
  • Olive oil
  • Chilli flakes
  • About 10 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method

  1. Fry the garlic in the oil for a few minutes on medium heat
  2. Mean while, pour the plum tomatoes in to bowl and properly crush them with your fingers
  3. Add chilli in with the garlic and then the tomatoes
  4. Mix well, add tomato pure and mix again
  5. Add sugar in small increments, tasting each time to make sure it doesn’t go too sweet
  6. Season
  7. Throw in your chopped up basil leaves and let it simmer till excess water has evaporated

Preparation time: 1 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minutes(s)

Number of servings (yield): 3-5

Gherkin Soup with Dill

Last summer, we had a lovely dinner at Fishers in the City, a very nice fish restaurant in Edinburgh. I can’t remember what I had but Darina’s starter was much more memorable; gherkin soup. I had never heard of such soup before and apart from few recipes online, it’s not well know. Perhaps that’s because gherkins aren’t as popular in much of English speaking world as they are in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

This recipe is a sort of a combination of the few I could find, taking the best bits and keeping it very simple. Unlike many vegetarian soups I think the gherkins bring a bit more body and distinct flavour.

We had this as the soup course on our Christmas meal this year. It’s great as it’s easy to make, I’ll make mine in the morning and heat it up for serving.

Polish Gherkin Soup with Dill

Ingredients

  • 120 g diced onions
  • 150 g diced potatoes
  • 150 g diced carrots
  • 150 g gherkin, sliced into strips
  • 5 tbsp cream
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
  • gherkin brine
  • 1/2 tbsp dill
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method

  1. Heat butter in a small sauce pan and lightly fry the onions in it for 3 minutes or until soft. Be careful not to brown them
  2. Add potatoes and carrots, and generously cover with water
  3. Bring to boil and let it simmer till carrots are almost cooked
  4. In a small bowl, dust the sliced gherkins with flour so they’re covered and then add to the pan
  5. Add cream, stock and seasoning to taste. Omit dill if gherkins are preserved with it. You can also use a splash of gherkin brine to enhance the flavour
  6. You can also add a little bit of finely chopped red chillies to add warmth
  7. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4

Carrot and Swede Casseroles – Finnish Christmas Classics

These two casserole dishes are must-haves in Finnish Christmas table. They’re side dishes to the main but especially carrot casserole would make a great vegetarian main anytime of the year.

Carrot Casserole

Ingredients

  • 75 ml rice
  • 200 ml water (or water carrots were boiled in)
  • 350 ml milk
  • 500 g carrors, sliced and boiled
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of white pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tbsp syrup
  • 1 egg
  • breadcrumbs and butter for crusting

Method

  1. Start by boiling the carrots in barely enough water.
  2. Keep the water and use it to boil your rice. Once rice has absorbed all the water, add milk and simmer on lowest heat for 45 minutes.
  3. Mash your carrots and add other ingredients. I usually add rice last, little by little, and make sure there’s not too much of it. You can make this as little or much ‘carroty’ as you want.
  4. Divide in batter into two, buttered, tin foil trays. This will make two roughly 400 gram trays. Level the tray and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 45 minutes in 200°C with a knob of butter on top.

Preparation time: 1 hour

Cooking time: 50 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6 as a side

Swede (or Rutabaga) Casserole

Ingredients

  • 650 g swede, diced
  • 120 ml cream
  • 40 ml breadcrumbs (plus extra for topping)
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of white pepper
  • butter

Method

  1. Boil your swede and mash when ready
  2. Add other ingredients and mix well
  3. (Sometimes swedes (and Swedes) can be a bit bitter, if so add more syrup)
  4. Divide into two buttered tin foil trays. This should make two 400 gram trays
  5. Level the tray and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 45 minutes in 200°C with a knob of butter on top.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8 as a side