#37 FOOD NEWS: Test shoot teaser

Lemoncello meringue cake

Test shoots are a great way to get experimenting! Baked alaska, come lemon meringue pie, come a cheeky dash of Italian Liqueur. This was one of those ideas that sounded great on paper but would it actually work?! The answer is thankfully, yes! The best bit is, you can prepare the sponge and lemon lemon layer way ahead. I can’t wait to see it when proper food photographer, Adrian Lawrence gets his hands on it!

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Serves: 8-10
Prep: 30 mins, plus chilling and cooling
Cook: 25 mins

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4 lemons, juice and zest
290g unsalted butter, cubed
465g caster sugar
6 large eggs, plus 3 large egg whites
6 gelatine leaves
45ml shot limoncello (optional)
1tsp vanilla extract
115g self-raising flour
3/4 tsp baking powder

1 Grease a 1L Pyrex bowl with oil, then line with cling film, so the edges hang over the sides. Squeeze the lemon juice into a small microwavable  bowl and add the lemon zest.

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Add 175g of the butter and 175g of the caster sugar. Mix well.

37lemon curd design

2 Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 mins.

3 Meanwhile, heat the lemon mixture in the microwave on full power for 3 mins, stirring every 30 seconds, until the butter and sugar has melted.

4 Gradually add 4 beaten eggs, whisking continuously. Microwave on full power for a further 1 1/2 mins. Whisk well. Allow to cool for 1 minute, then return to the microwave and heat on full power for a further minute. Whisk well. Remove 3tbsp of the mixture, cover, and set aside.

5 Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine leaves and place in a measuring jug. Pour over 200ml of just boiled water. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved. Top up with 150ml cold water. Gradually pour into the lemon mix, whilst continuously stirring. Stir in the limoncello, if using. Pour into the lined Pyrex bowl. Chill for at least 4 hours, until set.

6 For the sponge base, preheat the oven to 170’C, 150’C fan, gas 3. Grease and line an 18cm loose-bottomed sandwich tin. Beat the remaining butter with 115g of the caster sugar. Add 2 eggs one at a time beating well in between each addition. Fold through the flour and baking powder. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25 mins.

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Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 mins. Remove from the tin and allow to cool completely on the wire rack. Level the surface with a serrated knife.

7 For the meringue, using an electric hand whisk, whip the egg whites until medium peaks form. Gradually trickle in the remaining sugar whilst continuing to whisk until stiff glossy peaks form.

37stiff glossy peaks

8 To assemble, preheat the oven to 230’C, 210’C fan, gas 8. Spread the top of the cake with the 3 tbsp of the reserved lemon curd mixture. Then invert the bowl of set lemon jelly on top of the cake.

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Transfer to a flat baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Spoon over the meringue in swirling motions ensuring the jelly and sponge is completely enclosed. Bake for 4-6 mins until golden (for maximum control use a cooks blow-torch). Remove from the oven and chill for 20  mins to firm up before serving.

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33 FOOD NEWS: Theo Randall’s Croccante with mascarpone cream

So it’s December the 1st  – Christmas has officially started, the twinkly lights are appearing, festive food markets are popping up quicker than you can say, ‘two mulled wines and a mince pie’. And best of all, TV cookery has also been given its annual Christmassy seasoning (and by the taste of this dessert – I am most definitely not complaining!).

Delve into Theo Randall’s delicious alternative to Christmas pud from 12 Chefs of Christmas:

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200g whole blanched (skinned) almonds (See Britalian Tip)
200g caster sugar
200g mascarpone
Seeds from ½ vanilla pod
50g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp Marsala or to taste
150ml double cream
3 punnets fresh raspberries

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1 For the Almond Croccante, preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan. Spread the almonds on a small baking tray and roast for 5 mins until they are a light golden colour. Leave to one side. Put the sugar in a saucepan and add 1 tbsp water.

almonds strip

2 Cook, without stirring, on a medium heat until the sugar melts and turns a light golden colour. Add the almonds and carry on cooking for 1 min. Pour on to an oiled baking sheet and leave to cool and set. Roughly break up the croquante and put into a plastic bag. Bash with a rolling pin to break up. 

almond - bash

3 To make the cream, beat the mascarpone with the vanilla seeds and icing sugar and then beat in the Marsala. In a separate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

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4 Spoon the crema di mascarpone on to a serving dish. Scatter over the raspberries and sprinkle with almond croccante. 

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12 Chefs of Christmas is sure to get you in the festive spirit! Everyday at 11am this December, Food Network UK (Freeview 41, Sky 248, Freesat 149/151, Virgin 287). For more Christmas recipes go to http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/

Britalian Tip 

If you haven’t got enough whole blanched almonds (as I didn’t!). After baking them, stir through the toasted nuts of your choice to make up to 200g – I used toasted flaked almonds but you could simply use your favourite type of nut.