67. Peruvian Corn Cake

The imperfect yet delicious Peruvian Corn Cake

The imperfect yet delicious Peruvian Corn Cake

So not all cakes are perfect. Despite the rather rustic appearance this Peruvian Corn cake it is extremely delicious. It’s traditionally eaten in coffee shops with enormous amounts of whipped cream and adorned with cherries. As I was transporting this to Cake Club at The Cookhouse I had to make do with squirty cream in a can…

Squirty cream in a can masks all manner of sins

Squirty cream in a can masks all manner of sins

You’d think by now, 67 bakes in to my around the world in 80 bakes challenge I’d be getting pretty good at this baking malarkey. Alas I still have the odd disaster and ruin a cake or two.

Is it because I can’t resist tampering with the recipe?  Is it because I’m slap dash in the kitchen?  Or is it because the sultanas all sank to the bottom welding the cake to the tin meaning I had to hack at it with a sharp knife to prise the last half from it’s bundty prison?

Perhaps I was a bit too roough with the Peruvian Corn Cake?

Perhaps I was a bit too roough with the Peruvian Corn Cake?

I guess it’s a combination of all 3 to be honest. Nevertheless I took it to cake club to share with my friends and enjoyed an enormous slice of it smothered in whipped cream. Which hides a multitude of sins and disguises the broken bits.

Shhh no one will notice it's a cake of two halves

Shhh no one will notice it’s a cake of two halves

The Peruvian Corn Cake is infused with Star Anise and stuffed full with coconut and plump sultanas.  It’s a perfect crumbly cake to accompany a strong cup of coffee.

The stars of the show - Star Anise seeds and Pink Himalyan Salt ready for grinding

The stars of the show – Star Anise seeds and Pink Himalyan Salt ready for grinding

Cornmeal gives the cake a wonderful golden yellow hue and an interesting texture.  Light yet crumbly to the touch with bursts of sweet moisture from the sultanas.

I’m a big lover of fruit cake and bundt cake and coconut and spice so this is an absolute winner for me. I bet if you soaked the sultanas in a little rum beforehand it would be sublime.

If you’re not a dried fruit fan feel free to leave the sultanas out (and you might have more joy getting the cake out of its tin!)

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy

Being lazy I whacked everything into my kitchenaid knowing full well that if you want to distribute your dried fruit evenly you should roll it in a little flour first and fold it into the batter. Alas I was hasty and missed this step so I had sunken sultanas.  Although the cake batter is very fluid so I doubt it would suspend sultanas throughout the cake. Gravity is inevitable.

The beaten batter

The beaten batter

I adapted this recipe from a wonderful book which could have literally been made for me. Cakes from Around the World.

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Things that I used to make my Peruvian Corn Cake

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 30g butter or margarine (butter would be better if you have it)

Step 1: Beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy

  •  3 eggs

Step 2: Then beat in the eggs one at a time adding a little of the flour if it starts to spilt.

  • 240g Fine milled corn meal (not to be mistaken for corn flour which is white not yellow). If you only have coarse corn meal blitz it in the blender to make it fine milled.
  • 20g (2tablespoons) Baking powder
  • 40g plain flour
  • Ground star anise (I used 6 seeds from whole star anise or you could use 1/2tsp of ground star anise powder)
  • 40g desiccated coconut

Step 3: Measure all of the flours and spices together. Beat in a third of the dry ingredients followed by a third of the oil.  Repeat until all of the flours and oil is incorporated into the batter. Don’t forget to scrape the sides of the bowl down too!

  • 80ml olive oil (it’s supposed to be corn oil which I didn’t have but sunflower oil would also be a good substitute)

Step 4: Roll the sultanas in a little flour and fold them gently into the batter. (or of you can’t be bothered to dirty another spoon beat them in gently with your mixer there’s so much baking prefer in this cake it’s bound to rise so you probably don’t need to treat it too delicately worrying about keeping the air in the batter. )

  • 220g sultanas (golden if possible but they’re more expensive so I just used normal ones)

Step 5: Pour your cake batter into a thoroughly greased bundt tin.  You could add a little flour too for good measure.

Step 6: Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 45 minutes at 190 degrees Celsius (fan).

Step 7: Allow to cool before attempting to coax it from the tin. Slice and smear with whipped cream. Eat enormous wedges with strong coffee!

 

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58. Spectacular Speculoos

Spectacular Speculoos recipe

Who hasn’t tried Speculoos biscuits?? Anyone?? These little beauties are often found sitting on the edge of your saucer in coffee shops and are a Dutch favourite. They’re crisp, carmelly, sweet and spicy.  Perfect for festive celebrations.  I’ve looked high and lo for the perfect Speculoos recipe and then decided to create my own. It’s very quick to make too!

Beat everything together

Beat everything together – very spicy!

All that’s required is a vigorous beating together of the butter, sugar, an egg, treacle, water, flour and copious amounts of spices (I’m always liberal with my spices) then it’s good to go. Speculoos spread is legendary in foodie circles too. I’ve even managed to incorporate it into my lazy Crack Pie too…

I finally get to try out my biscuit gun

I finally get to try out my biscuit gun

Traditional Dutch Speculoos are usually rolled out and imprinted with pretty patterns and designs. I don’t own anything pretty to imprint them with so I finally got to try out my biscuit gun! Which promises over 100 different designs… considering I bought it for £2 I was’t convinced it was going to work. Oh ye of little faith.

It needs to be a rather liquid batter to get it in the gun...

It needs to be a rather liquid batter to get it in the gun…

I knew that the traditional Speculoos recipe wouldn’t be suitable for use with a biscuit gun as the dough would be to thick to pipe through the patterned nozzles. I did what I always do and modified my recipe to my heart’s content. Adding treacle until I got the shiny, thick, gloopy texture I was hoping for.

Piped speculoos biscuits

Piped speculoos biscuits

The tricky bit is working out how to force the dough/batter into the biscuit gun. I squashed it in with a spoon and had to refill regularly as there isn’t much space in the barrel, but this gave me the opportunity to try out a few different nozzles. I quite liked the star and flowers shapes. Once the dough is in the barrel you just press down on the level and force the dough out the end onto a greased and lined baking sheet. As the dough is a bit sticky it can be a tad awkward to cut off the dough so you can pipe a new biscuit… hence some of the more ‘interesting’ shapes I produced. Occasionally I resorted to chopping the dough from the nozzle with a knife, pushing the gun into the dough and pulling it away again quickly or twisting the  gun until the dough broke naturally.

Refrigerate your piped biscuits

Refrigerate your piped biscuits

Once you’ve experimented with a variety of patterns and piped the entire contents of your dough onto baking sheets, pop them in the fridge to harden for about 15 minutes. This means that the biscuits will hold their shape whilst baking, as the butter will be less likely to melt and spread.

The baked speculoos biscuits

The baked speculoos biscuits

Don’t worry if you don’t have a biscuit gun, I also experimented with using a normal piping bag and star shaped nozzle which also worked rather well to make pretty swirls (even if I do say so myself). Or if you can’t be bothered with messing around making them look pretty and simply want to fill your mouth with speculoos goodness you could just use a spoon and whack a dollop of the mixture on the tray. Alternatively you could chill the dough/batter in the fridge so it’s much firmer (maybe overnight if needs be) and roll it out like you would normally with biscuits and cut them out with your favourite cutter. OR if that’s not enough options roll the chilled batter into a sausage, chill it in the fridge wrapped in cling film and then simply chop it into discs. Simple round biscuits with very little fuss or tidying up afterwards!

Teeny tiny speculoos

Teeny tiny speculoos

This recipe was enough to make at least 12-16 large biscuits and a multitude of mini speculoos biscuits too. (Sorry I shovelled them into my face so fast I didn’t get a chance to count how many I actually produced!)

Speculoos selection

Speculoos selection

I absolutely love these speculoos biscuits. The thicker the biscuit the more chewy they are. The blend of spices is full and comforting, which the added sweetness of the treacle makes it my perfect winter bake.  In my haste to create Speculoos, I seem to have almost stumbled onto my own lebkuchen hybrid. The biscuits have a crispy sugar coating (without the need for any icing) and a chewy rich centre. Even the mini speculoos have a great snap and chew to them.  Speculoos biscuits freeze extremely well too so you can reveal wonderfully festive biscuits at any time of the day or night when friends or family call round.

Spectacular Speculoos

Tme for tea – Spectacular Speculoos

I plan on making my spectacular speculoos again very soon. Maybe for bonfire night and also when I perfect the recipe for rolling, I’m going to make speculoos baubles to adorn my Christmas tree with!

One speculoos or two?

One speculoos or two?

Things I used to make Spectacular Speculoos Biscuits

Prep: less than 10 minutes (if you have ground spices to hand , it will take a bit longer if you’re grinding them yourself)

Chill time: 15 -30 minutes

Bake time: 10-12 minutes

Makes: lots of spectular speculoos! (Approx 20 biscuits- more if you make mini ones too)

  • 110g margarine (is you want to use a biscuit gun marg will help!) or butter (if you want to roll them out)
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 tbs cinnamon
  • 1tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground cassis bark (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp ground star anise
  • 1/4 tsp rock salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Beat it all together until fluffy then beat it

  • 1 egg
  • 1 dessertspoon black treacle (molasses)
  • 1and a half tsp vanilla paste/extract
  • 300g plain flour

Pipe biscuits and refrigerate for 15 -30 minutes or chill dough then roll and cut biscuits out

Place on greased and lined tray and bake at 190 degrees c for 10- 12 minutes until firm to touch

Let them cool (if you can!) and eat with a proper cup of tea.

They will keep in the freezer for a good month or so too if you want to save some for a rainy day,

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45. Rosca De Reyes – Spanish Three Kings Cake

Rosca de Reyes - 3 Kings Cake

Rosca de Reyes – 3 Kings Cake

I’m so excited! I’ve been invited to join an online bake off with 4 amazing bloggers, including the wonderful Yasmin Lambert from the Great  British Bake Off! We’re all baking the Spanish festive bake, Rosca de reyes and the baker with the most votes will win £500 worth of holiday holiday vouchers! (which would come in very handy for our honeymoon which are still yet to arrange following our wedding in less than 3 weeks…) I’m so happy to also be able to offer you the chance to win  £50 of vouchers to spend on the very.co.uk Christmas Shop, perfect for finding those last minute Christmas gifts! My first ever competition on aroundtheworldin80bakes! 

If you would like to enter this competition all you need to do is vote for my Rosca de Reyes (aroundtheworldin80bakes) on the Cosmos Holidays website by leaving a comment at the bottom of the article and a 5 star rating. This would be very gratefully appreciated! You can see the full Rosca de Reyes in all it’s glory over on the Cosmos holiday website. The closing date is Wednesday 19th December. Then please let me know that you have voted by leaving me a comment on (any or all!)

This means I can then contact you if you are the lucky winner. I will choose one winner at random from all of those who vote for me. You could tweet something like “I’ve voted for @laurenprince #roscadereyes  to win£50very.co.uk vouchers http://aroundtheworldin80bakes.com #bakeoff #competition Vote to enter”

Now for the bake itself! I hope you like it!

Rosca de reyes  (Kings’ Cake) is a traditional Spanish  cake with an amazing story. It’s eaten on 6th January, the day that the 3 Kings (or wise men) reached the stable to visit Jesus.  This is also known as the religious holiday the Epiphany, a day where Christians celebrate the Son of God taking on human form as baby Jesus. In some countries this is the day that children open their presents rather than Christmas Day so this day definitely needs a special cake to celebrate!  A little figurine or a bean is usually hidden inside the cake to represent baby Jesus fleeing from King Herod who was trying to kill Jesus. Whoever finds the baby bean/figurine is blessed  as ‘King’ or ‘Queen’ of the banquet and should take the figurine to church with them on February 2nd. In Mexican cultures this person also has to throw the Epiphany banquet party for their families and friends the following year!

I’ve never eaten a Rosca de reyes despite all of our family holidays in Spain as a child. We always visited Spain in the Summer holidays where we contented ourselves eating ice cream and custard filled donuts whilst basking in the sun on the beaches instead. Some of our best family holidays were in Spain, so this recipe intrigued me. I’ve never attempted to hide things inside my cakes before and was unable to find a figurine in my house small enough, or that wouldn’t poison us all so I decided to make one out of sugar paste instead and hope that it doesn’t melt in the oven!

My marzipan interpretation of the baby Jesus...

My marzipan interpretation of the baby Jesus…

Looking for a suitable recipe I discovered there are quite a few variables. The Rosca de reyes is usually a ring shape or it could also be an oval (depending on how many people you’re baking for!). The festive dried fruits usually include wonderful reds, greens and oranges so you could use cherries, apricots, figs, cranberries, or mixed candied peel. The choices are endless.

This is essentially an enriched dough, shaped into a bejewelled festive wreath. It’s a bit of a cake/bread/pastry hybrid and stuffed with beautiful dried fruits.

Whizz up the flour and yeast

Whizz up the flour and yeast

If you’re using instant dried yeast you can throw it straight into your flour and mix it evenly through the flour. Using my Russian Doll measuring cups makes life a bit easier than weighing things out on the scales.

As it’s almost Christmas (we’re celebrating on 15th December this year as our wedding is just around the corner…) I wanted to make light work of this recipe. I struggle to knead dough for a long time, I’m simply not tall enough to put enough weight into it! So I whacked it all into my food processor to ease the process. If you don’t have a food processor you can mix it together by hand instead.

Grind up a star anise

Grind up a star anise

I whizzed the yeast and the flour together first to make sure the yeast is evenly distributed throughout the flour. Then while the food processor was running I added the dry ingredients first, the sugar, salt, cinnamon and ground star anise.  The spices really enhance the colour of the dough giving it a wonderful brown hue.

Rub in the butter

Rub in the butter

Once this is combined I popped the butter in and rubbed/blended it into the flour.

Rub in the butter until it looks sandy

Rub in the butter until it looks sandy

Followed quickly by the  beaten eggs, vanilla pod seeds and water. In the future I probably wouldn’t add any water as this made an extremely wet and sticky dough which meant my food processor went into over drive and actually caught fire! The poor food processor didn’t make it but the dough was thoroughly kneaded!

 

Beat in the eggs

Beat in the eggs

 

 

The food processor may screech a bit in protest but it can (usually!) knead the dough (using the dough hook) for a good 3 minutes before it starts to rock out of control and dance off the work top.

I had to add a little more flour in order to knead the dough by hand as it was more of a paste at this stage.

It was rather a sticky dough...

 

Once it becomes a firm dough it’s ready for a final knead on the work surface for 5 minutes or so until it bounces back when pressed lightly with a finger.

I had to bring out the cavalry to sort out this sticky mess - dough scraper!

 

Then to rest the dough for 2 hours in a greased and covered bowl in a warm place until it’s doubled in size. Or if like me you like to do things in stages feel free to let it rise slowly over night in the fridge and shape it at your leisure the next day.

A nice firm brown dough

 

When the dough has risen, punch it down and knead it thoroughly before starting to shape it into a ring or wreath. This really reminds me of my Swedish Tea Ring attempt. Roll it into a rectangle  about 30cm by 20cm. I oiled the board to stop the dough from sticking rather than dusting it with flour.

Roll it out to an even rectangle about 5mm thick

Roll it out to an even rectangle about 5mm thick

Spread the melted butter all over and give a generous coating to the outside edge of the dough.

Spread a generous coating of melted butter all over

 

I found I had an extra bit of dough which I trimmed off to make my rectangle extra straight. I used this to make another plaited version of Rosca De Reyes later on.

My second plaited Rosca de Reyes

 

Line the dough with an even covering of candied fruits, cinnamon and sugar.

Coat with sugar and spice and all things nice

 

Take your figurine/bean (or in my case a hand crafted marzipan baby Jesus) and hide him amongst the fruit.

Hide your figurine inside the fruit

 

Then roll it up into one long sausage, from the longest edge to the longest edge.

Roll roll roll your dough

 

Once you have you sausage shape you can add a smattering of melted butter to one end and coax the 2 edges together to form a ring. Feel free to pop a small greased pudding dish in the centre of the ring to ensure the ring has a hole in the middle as the dough rises.

The final sausage shape

 

A final egg wash and decoration with your chosen candied fruits, I used glace cherries and mixed peel, and it’s ready for the final proving.

Using lazy egg wash in a can (!) and dotting with cherries

 

Cover your ring with greased cling film to prevent it sticking and leave it for an hour to double in size on a baking tray greased and lined with greaseproof paper.

Bejewelled and ready to prove itself

 

After 40 minutes in the oven at 170 degrees C the Rosca De Reyes will have taken on a golden tinge and be firm to the touch. You can check it’s cooked through by tapping the bottom, of the ring, it should sound hollow.

Straight from the oven

 

Once it’s cooled completely I carried on decorating my Three Kings Cake. I’ve been saving my gold lustre spray for a special occasion and this seemed to be the perfect time to use it! I thought the gold would add a regal touch to the ring and additional symbolism as one of the 3 Kings brought gold as a present for baby Jesus. So I’m presenting a very gold Rosca de Reyes to you!

Then it seemed a bit too gold… so I added a sprinkling of marzipan stars with a dab of brandy on the back of each star to hold it in place. The original plan was to add just the one star, as the 3 Kings followed the star to Bethlehem to find baby Jesus in the stable, however I got a bit carried away with my cutters and made an entire starry night of marzipan instead. Resulting in a very decadent Rosca De Reyes!

A very decadent Rosca de Reyes - 3 King's Cake

 

With my left over dough I created a plaited Rosca De Reyes and smeared cinnamon, butter and sugar in between the plaits and dotted a few more glace cherries on the top. I hid one whole cherry underneath and tucked it into the dough.

A golden plaited Rosca de Reyes

 

Once it was baked I also gave it a liberal coating of edible gold lustre.

This bake feels so festive and is a wonderful cake to share with friends and family. It’s a bit like hiding a silver sixpence inside your Christmas pudding, waiting in anticipation to see who finds the baby Jesus inside their piece of bread. I loved this bake and think it may become a regular festive creation in my house. The egg wash gives the outside a fantastic bite to it. I love warming spices and this definitely packs a punch, with the cinnamon and star anise spices in the dough, carried through to the spicy sugary fruit inside. It is also rather reminiscent of a sticky Chelsea bun but even more festive and sparkly!

Cinnamon swirls - a slice of Rosca de Reyes

 

Marzipan is not traditionally found inside Rosca de reyes, but I adore it and try to fit it into everything that I possibly can. The addition of marzipan made the rosca de reyes slightly stollen-esque and what’s not to love about stollen? (It’s another of my favourite festive bakes – as if I don’t have enough already?!)  I try not to waste any ingredients  and wanted to put my left over marzipan to good use from icing my Wedding and Christmas cakes. You can adapt this recipe to suit your own favourite ingredients and play around with the shape too. Have fun and hope you enjoy it as much as me!

 

Things I used to make Rosca De Reyes:

Bake for approximately 45 minutes at 350 degrees F or 170 degrees C

  • 1/3 cup warm water (only add as much as you need)
  • 1 packet of yeast (7g dried instant yeast)
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Filling

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon/mixed spice
  • A marzipan baby Jesus (or you can use a small figurine or toy or a bean)
  • Dried/candied fruit (about 2 cups of assorted fruit cut into small pieces  such as sultanas, orange/lemon peel, mango or cherries)

Decoration

  • Large dried fruits (so they don’t burn in the oven) such as glace cherries
  • Beaten egg (to wash over the whole ring)
  • Edible gold lustre spray (or glitter) if you wish!
  • Marzipan and star cutters