Chocolate Sponge with Peaches and Pistachio

This recipe was born after craving for chocolate and peaches. I just thought it should go nice together and I didn’t want anything heavy. So I took a classic sponge recipe, substitute some of the flour with the coco powder. Then I decide to go for simple Chantilly cream and pistachio for decoration. Next time, I might try it with Mascarpone icing and toasted almonds instead.

CHOCOLATE SPONGE WITH PEACHES AND PISTACHIO

Ingredients:

225g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

225g caster sugar

4 eggs

220g self-raising flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

50g cocoa powder

300ml double cream

2 tablespoons icing sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3-4 tablespoons of apricot jam

6 fresh apricots, ripen but not mushy

50g pistachio, chopped )or toasted almonds)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan. Lightly butter two loose-bottomed 20cm sandwich tins and line the bases with baking paper.

  2. Put the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and cocoa in a large bowl and beat with the mixer for 2 minutes, or until just blended.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins. Level the surface using a spatula or the back of a spoon.

  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes. The tops of the cakes should spring back when pressed lightly with a finger. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes. Run a small palette knife around the edge of the tins, then carefully turn the cakes out onto a wire rack. Peel off the paper and leave to cool completely.

  5. While the cakes are cooling, put the jam in a little pan with 2 teaspoons of water and heat it up until it’s melted, set aside to cool slightly.
  6. Then make a Chantilly cream. Pour the cream into a large mixing bowl then whisk until soft peaks form. Add in the icing sugar and vanilla extract and mix in gently until well incorporated.
  7. To assemble the cake, spread with the jam and half of the cream over the first cake, put the other one on top (top upwards), spread with the remaining of the cream, decorate with fresh peaches and pistachio. To go one step further, you can glaze the peaches with some of the melted apricot jam, to give this extra shine to the cake.

 

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Baklava Loaf

This loaf is just as indulgent as Baklava, but a little bit easier on calories and the amount of sweetness. I love that it’s buttermilk based and full of crunch and texture.

BAKLAVA LOAF

(Adapted from Good Things magazine)

Ingredients:

For the filling:

200g mix of pistachios and walnuts, chopped

100ml runny honey

4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground clove

1/2 orange, zest only

 

For the Cake Mixture:

225g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

50g sugar

1 large egg

50g butter, melted

250ml buttermilk

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix all the filling ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. For the cake mixture, combine the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Put the egg, melted butter and buttermilk in a separate bowl and mix well. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing well, but taking care not to overwork.
  3. Lightly butter a lot tin, pour in the cake mixture and spoon over the filling. Repeat twice, ending with the layer of the nut mixture.
  4. Bake it for 20-25 minutes or until the cake is golden-brown and springs back when pressed. Allow to cool before serving.

 

Apricot and Pistachio Bars

Another bake from ‘Baked in America’ book and another success. To be honest it even exceeded my expectations.

One of the downside of this book is a lack of photographs. I’m not into step-by-step ones, however, I appreciate at least one photo to go with any recipe. Especially if it’s a completely unknown to you recipe, at least to know what this dish should look like. In this case, there was a photo with the recipe, but it was so dark that I presumed the bake included some chocolate or cacao powder. I read the recipe again and again and still couldn’t understand what was added to make the bake so dark. Then I realised, that if you put the required amount of sugar ( a whopping 450g for the filling and another 100g for the base!!!) that anything will turn black, as well as all your taste buds will be numb forever.

Actually, this time I baked with my friend and we decided to follow the recipe precisely, apart from adding only 1/3 of the asking sugar amount. Other than the sugar issue, it is a good bake with a rather short but firm buttery base and wonderful topping, slightly gooey, but full of texture with lovely cardamon aroma.

APRICOT AND PISTACHIO BARS

Ingredients:

For the pastry base:

90g icing sugar

300g plain flour

225g butter, softened

For the filling:

225g dried apricots

115g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 salt

1/2 ground cardamon

4 eggs

190g light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

100g pistachios, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter the tin (30x23x5cm), and line with parchment.
  2. Place the dried apricots in a pan, cover with water and simmer for about 10 minutes to rehydrate them. Drain, cool, chop the apricots, then leave them aside.
  3. For the crust base, using mixer or processor, on a low speed combine the sugar, flour and butter until the mixture is crumbly. Dump the whole lot into the prepared tin, press it on to the bottom and slightly aside (I found the back of the metal spoon is good for that). Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until just barely browned. Remove from the oven, put aside, let it cool.
  4. For the filling, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cardamon and set aside. Using the same bowl from the crust mixture, combine the eggs, sugar and vanilla until evenly mixed. Then add the flour mixture, until it well incorporated. At the end, fold in the cooled apricots and the pistachios. Pour the batter over the cooled crust and smooth it.
  5. Bake it for another 25-30 minutes, until it evenly browned. Let the bake cool in the tin completely , then cut into squares or triangles, sprinkle icing sugar on top, if you wish.