June 17, 2011
It might be raining outside but it’s summer and this week’s gorgeous cherries prove it. I think they’re the best batch so far. Sadly this means they’re probably nearly finished but they’ll be followed by plums, apricots (in the bags next week with any luck), peaches, grapes….. So, come on summer – we have food that needs to be eaten in the sun prefarably in the garden or park. Sort it out!!!!!
As you’ve probably noticed this week’s photos are um, quite superior to my usual attempts. And no, it wasn’t me. Last week I teamed up with professional photographer Bríd ní Luasaigh who was keen to take some photos of food. She usually photographs still life, interiors and people as you can see from her amazing website.
Our photo shoot took an exhausting 6 hours. In the last year or so I’ve really tried to put time into my food photography but on a busy week I’ll admit that some shots involve stealing a dinner as everyone’s sitting down and blocking out the protests while I frantically try to get something that will work. With Bríd it was the real deal and I’ve hopefully learnt lots. First of all, I need a new camera, a tripod and maybe a few other bits. I’ll be looking into it while saving up my euros and this will hopefully lead to some better shots. The bar, as you can see is now very high. No pressure!
The cakes look amazing but more importantly they taste pretty great too. These are what we called butterfly buns when I was a kid and they were a staple at all our birthday parties. Basically they’re buns with the top sliced off, cut in two then stuck back on top on a bed of cream or icing. I have to say I normally hate all the pretty prettiness of the ubiquitous cupcake but I have a real soft spot for these.
Cherries are just so good on their own and the season is over in a heartbeat that I normally wouldn’t recommend doing much with them but they were perfect for this kind of cake so I made an exception. To make things a bit more grown up I macerated them first in Cointreau. I had bought a nagin of Kirsch for the occasion because it seemed like the obvious way to go but when I opened it paint stripper was the only thing I could think of (!!) so I decided not to go ahead. The orange of Cointreau or Triple Sec offsets the cherries very well but I reckon cognac and maybe even a coffee liquor would work too.
The cake mixture is a butter one which I added a little marzipan to. You don’t have to, but as cherry and almond are so good together I couldn’t resist. At this time of year marzipan isn’t the easiest to track down and I had to go to Fallon and Byrne in the end. If that’s just a step too far for you, don’t worry they are great without it, or you can substitute a couple of tablespoons of the flour with ground almonds. With or without these cakes are gorgeous – cherries, cake, almonds and cream ……… how could they not be?
Cherry butterfly buns
160gr butter at room temperature – sit it in a bowl of hot water if it’s straight from the fridge and it’ll be easier to mix
3 medium eggs
160gr self-raising flour
A teaspoon of vanilla extract
A splash of milk
30gr marzipan cut into 8 squares or discs
8-10 muffin moulds – I used paper ones that I got in M&S that I set into a muffin tin to ensure they didn’t lose their shape
A dash of Cointreau or Triple Sec (optional)
A scant tablespoon sugar
225 ml double or whipping cream
2 tablespoons flaked almonds lightly toasted
Icing sugar for decoration
Start off with the cherries. Cut them in half and remove the stones then put in a bowl with the booze and sugar and set aside.
For the buns, begin by creaming the butter and sugar together until they turn a fluffy pale yellow. Beat in an egg followed by a couple of tablespoons of flour. Mix well then add another egg and continue like this until all the eggs and flour have been added and fully mixed in. Finally, add a small splash of milk and the vanilla extract, give thing a final mix then stop.
Cover the base of each mould with cake mixture then add a square of marzipan. Divide the remaining mixture evenly between all the moulds and place in a preheated oven (Gas mark 5).
Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden on top. Check they are fully cooked by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean they’re done. Put them on a wire tray to cool.
After about an hour when the buns have fully cooled, slice off the tops and cut them in half. Scoop a tiny bit of cake mixture out of each remaining bun so the fruit has somewhere to sit. Top each bun with cherries and a little of the juice. If you can, try to arrange cherries around the side so you’ll get the pretty effect you can see in the pictures. Beat the cream with a little sugar and top the cherries with cream. Add the “wings” and dust with icing sugar. Top the cream with the toasted almonds.
This week’s Pak Choy and Ginger make perfect partners in the wok. Try them tossed with some chilli and garlic with a side of tofu or with oranges sesame noodles. We’ve got broccoli in all the bags this week and recently Aoife from I can has cook did a brilliant mashup of one of my Asian salads and one from 101 cookbooks. Super healthy and, most importantly bursting with flavour it could be one for beating those rainy day blues.
I’m in Convergence down in Cultivate tomorrow taking part in the Green Economy forum. If anyone’s interested in setting up a green business anytime soon it would be well worth your while to come along.
Have a brilliant weekend,