Thursday, 22 August 2013

Edinburgh Cake Awards 2013

Edinburgh Cake Award – Best Newcomer: Lovecrumbs, 155 West Port

A double act established in 2012 by two young women, the panel* was impressed by Lovecrumbs’ range, originality and focus on sugar. 
Coconut cake; violet & passionfruit cake
The cakes are fresh and delicious and they live in a wardrobe. The tea is high quality and the offer of a thermos of boiling top up water a welcome touch. The whole place made the panel want to up sticks and move to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Cake Award – Best Cake: Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43 High Street

A well established venue incorporating the15th century John Knox House, the cafe produces excellent new material, like this gluten free plum and cinnamon cake the panel ate.

The friendly staff also mentioned the hidden garden behind the Scottish Storytelling Centre, a quiet haven right off the Royal Mile.

The ‘star’ status of Mimi’s Bakehouse in Leith makes it ineligible for this prize but special mention goes to its newly opened takeaway at 250 Canongate. The panel doesn’t really like cupcakes but was impressed with its combination of Luca’s ice cream with Mimi’s cake. So impressed that the panel scoffed it before taking a photo.

Edinburgh Cake Award – Panel Prize: The Square, North St Andrew Street

A word-of-mouth hit, The Square does a great carrot cake and fantastic peanut butter brownies. It provides a perfect sugar hit if you’re hovering about waiting for the next show at The Stand.

Thanks to Edinburgh cake reviewer Cake Quest Edinburgh whose top picks also include two of last year’s winners, Falko and The Chocolate Tree in Morningside.

The panel burned off cake calories by simply spending all day running from one venue to another. These are all the acts seen in the last two weeks – special mention goes to everyone who used confectionery in their act:

Alternative Comedy Memorial Society (Cadbury’s Roses; may vary according to bill); Beta Males; Birthday Girls (mini Chupa Chups); BLAM!; Bridget Christie; Do the Right Thing Podcast; Each of Us; Gravity Boots; Hannah Gadsby; Jigsaw; Johnny Vegas; Liam Williams; Lucy Porter; Markus Birdman; Michael Legge; Multi-Levelled Morons (Twix); Paul Currie (cornflakes & milk – DON’T sit at the front); Pajama Men; Phil Ellis; Richard Gadd (large sponge cake used to horrific effect); Red Bastard; Richard Herring Edinburgh Fringe Podcast (small bag of Haribo); Sally Ann Hayward; Sarah Millican; Seymour Mace (marshmallows); Simon Munnery; Susan Calman; Tony Law; Vladimir McTavish & Keir McAllister; Zoe Lyons

*it’s just me

Who's Ready for Ice Cream?

A few years ago I was given an ice cream machine for Christmas. It sat largely dormant in a kitchen cupboard then unexpectedly sprang into action this summer, like an evil robot that eats nothing but custard.
Thanks Wayne!
A willing lackey, I cast about the internet for recipes and have listed my favourites here. My frosty overlord is a Magimix Gelato Chef 2200 and I recommend it – it soft freezes ice cream in 20 minutes and sorbet in 40 minutes. If you’ve neither the money nor the cupboard space for an ice cream machine, you can just put the mix in a Tupperware box in the freezer and stir it every couple of hours.

There are lots of variations on a traditional custard base for an ice cream. I’ve found that the following works well:

4 egg yolks, 100g caster sugar, 300ml full fat milk, 300ml double cream
  • Slowly heat the milk to boiling point in a small saucepan and beat the egg yolks and sugar.
  • While still beating, pour the milk into the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the pan and stir constantly until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

  • Don’t let it boil or the mixture will separate (if this happens and it starts to look like scrambled eggs, press it through a sieve).
  • Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the cream and flavouring, then freeze in the ice cream maker. When the mixture starts to solidify, transfer it to a plastic container. Now is the time to add any pieces like chopped nuts or chocolate chips. Put it in the freezer to firm completely.  

This base works well for any number of flavourings. Add about 2 teaspoons of a good quality extract – I’ve made vanilla, violet, rose and liquorice ice creams. 
Violet ice cream with chocolate chips. See previous blog for this obsession

It also works well with about 4 tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter and a handful of crushed peanuts, or my new favourite confectionery, Speculoos. If you'd like chocolate ice cream, sift 2 or 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder into the sugar, or for a richer version allow 200g dark chocolate chips to melt into the custard while it is still hot. You can stir in peanut butter too and you won't be sorry (unless you hate peanuts).

The above recipe is also a good base for adding a nut paste. I got these 100% nut pastes from Why Nut and they’re well worth the price, making a delicious ice cream. 

I read about them in a lovely blog called The Little Loaf – its author has a good recipe for pistachio choc ices here; I also made her delicious treacle tart ice cream (she’s right- if you leave the ice cream for a couple of days the pieces of treacle tart go chewy).

I particularly recommend the pistachio paste for its taste and beautiful colour. The amount needed varies according to taste – I used 100g of the hazelnut and pistachio pastes in the quantity of custard mentioned above, but only 50g of the almond paste. You need to mix in the paste thoroughly before churning in the ice cream machine,

Once the ice cream is soft frozen, you can add a handful of crushed pistachios, almonds or hazelnuts with some chocolate chips. Or if the fat content is still not high enough for you, you could make some almond roca (recipe here), break it into small pieces and add that to the almond ice cream. I also did the same with hazelnuts for the hazelnut ice cream. Both were so delicious I wondered why nobody will marry me (I know, I know, it's my personality).
Almond roca ice cream
If you’d like to get one of your five a day through the medium of ice cream, I like these recipes for banana ice cream (quick, easy, and surprisingly delicious, even if my nephew did spit it out); strawberry ice cream (I recommend halving the quantities) and – oh Delia, you know a trick or two – rhubarb crumble ice cream. I also found a good recipe for plum ice cream in a friend’s extensive collection of Olive magazines; as it’s old school hard copy I’ve had to type it with my fingers:

350g ripe plums, stoned and quartered
100g soft light brown sugar
3 egg yolks
100g icing sugar
200ml double cream
  • Put the plums in a pan with the light brown sugar and 225ml water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the plums are tender. Blend and press the stewed fruit through a sieve. Allow to cool.
  • Put the egg yolks and icing sugar in a bowl over gently simmering water. Whisk until the mixture is just warmed through. Take the bowl of the heat and whisk some more. Chill.
  • Whip the cream until it just holds its shape. Whisk in the plum puree and egg mixture, then churn in an ice cream maker 

There was also a good recipe for double honey ice cream:

225g runny honey
600ml double cream
250ml full fat milk
6 egg yolks
125g golden caster sugar
1 tbsp runny honey
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Warm the honey in a small pan over a low heat. In another pan, heat the cream and milk to just below boiling point.
  • Whisk the eggs yolks in a bowl, then pour the hot cream and milk over the eggs, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and stir over a low heat until the custard thickens.
  • Add the warmed honey; cool and churn in the ice cream machine.
  • To make the honeycomb, put the caster sugar and honey in a pan with 5 tbsp water. Bring slowly to the boil and continue to boil steadily until the caramel becomes honey coloured. Add the bicarbonate of soda, quickly swirl the pan to mix and pour onto a greased baking tray.
  • Once the honeycomb is cold and brittle, break it into small pieces and mix through the ice cream while it is soft-frozen.  

Mini choc ices

Another top tip from Delia Smith - make little scoops of ice cream with a melon baller, stick cocktail sticks in them , refreeze then dip in chocolate. Delia says they're 'ideal for dinner parties' so I ate all nine chatting with my imaginary friends about house prices.
Peanut butter ice cream dipped in milk chocolate with crushed peanuts
These have a high chocolate to ice cream ratio that can overpower the flavour of the ice cream, though the honey-flavoured chocolate on double honey ice cream with a piece of honeycomb on top helped combat this issue.

Using white chocolate also helps as it doesn't overpower the flavour of the ice cream.

Pistachio and strawberry. Thanks to Hanna Miettinen for the photo
Raspberry mini choc ices for an engagement party (not mine, fellas, don't panic)
For a healthier option (note that I’ve listed far fewer of these options) you can make a frozen yoghurt – this lemon curd frozen yoghurt was like a citrusy smack in the chops. You could also make a sorbet with just about any fruit. I made this raspberry sorbet which went down a treat; I also tried these alcoholic sorbets and, while I’m not a big fan of alcohol in puddings, enjoyed both the gin & tonic sorbet and the Pimms sorbet. Remember to follow the recipe when adding alcohol – too much and it won’t freeze, just like that bottle of vodka you’ve got hidden inside a bag of peas.

Some sorbet recipes add egg white but as I wanted these to be vegan I left it out and it worked fine. The addition of egg white (or even gelatine) helps to stop crystals forming after a couple of days, but I find eating all the sorbet within the space of a couple of days is equally effective

Once you have made all the ice creams
Yes, ALL of them

make sure there are lots of biscuits, cake, sprinkles, fruit and sauce. In the north east we call red sauce for ice cream 'monkey blood', but be careful of using this phrase outside the area. Now invite some friends around for an ice cream party.

With any luck there will be some leftover fruit the next day and you won’t be able to think of anything else to do with it apart from make more ice cream. Here is a good recipe for blueberry, coconut and lime ice cream and another for blackberry ice cream.

You are now trapped in a loop of making ice cream. This was the machine's plan all along.  It just has to figure out what to do with 50 leftover egg whites.

Top tips:

If you're putting ice cream in a tupperware box, make sure it doesn't still smell of last week's chilli or else the ice cream will absorb the flavour. Wipe the insides of the container with white alcohol such as vodka to remove any residue.

Speaking of containers: if you make a lot of ice cream and give it away, you'll probably be kissing goodbye to a lot of expensive tupperware. I found these containers in Poundland that hold half a litre. Eight for a quid. I can happily kiss goodbye to those.

Lastly, a lot of recipes tell you to boil fruit then chill it in the fridge. Rather than put it in the fridge while still hot, cool it first in a sink full of cold water. Just watch the tap.....

<<<YES!                           NO!>>>>
Post script. It's winter now and the ice cream machine has more or less gone into hibernation. There are, however, two winter flavours that are worth mentioning. Firstly, treacle toffee ice cream, inspired by a trip to The Feathers Inn in Hedley On the Hill. Simply make some treacle toffee (recipe here), break half of it into small pieces and melt it into the milk when making a traditional custard base. You can hide the leftover pieces of toffee in the bottom, like the bubblegum in a Two Ball Screwball only even better.

There is Christmas pudding ice cream (recipe here) that I've made for my family next week, claiming it's a "light alternative". I won't mention there's 600 ml of double cream in there...
And gingerbread ice cream, a recipe that took some working on to get the level of spices right. I find this works:

300 ml whipping cream
300 ml whole milk
3 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon ground ginger
4 whole cloves
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
50g light brown sugar
30g black treacle
50g golden syrup

Put the milk, cream, salt and all the spices in a pan. Bring to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat to let the flavours infuse for an hour. Strain the mixture to remove the spices and stir in the vanilla extract.

Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, syrup and treacle, reheat the cream mixture and add little by little. Return the mixture to the pan and stir until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Cool, then churn in an ice cream maker.