Orange and Ginger Sponge Cake

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

I was awoken this morning by the sound of some appallingly obtrusive snoring from the next bedroom. I had never heard such disgusting sounds, at least not within the realms of civilised humanity. I poked my gracious head around the door and saw an elephantine lump breathing and belching flatulently, a vision that might have been redolent of a particularly nasty pyscho horror film. Fanny was on her back under the duvet, her head wrapped in her lacy bonnet, her substantial red nostrils flaring with every intake of breath dreaming no doubt about her latest Brazilian. It was a sight that few could have withstood without mental damage, but magically I survived.

I will have you know however that it was too damned early, and Ruby the cat was annoyed by the unnecessary sleep interruption. Desperate times call for desperate measures and frankly I felt like eating a large and sumptuous cake as compensation for the rude awakening. I stamped downstairs and decided on making a refreshing stimulating and quite fabulous orange and ginger sponge cake. Here is the recipe.

Zesty Orange and Ginger Cake

Preheat oven to 160°c

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

For the cake
• 250g butter
• 250g self-raising flour
• 1 level tsp baking powder
• 125g golden caster sugar
• 125g soft brown sugar
• 4 large eggs
• finely grated zest of 2 oranges
• 2 heaped dessert spoons glace ginger

For the butter icing
• 75g butter, softened
• 75g icing sugar, sifted
• 1 dessert spoonful of glace ginger pieces
• finely grated zest of 2 oranges

For the glaze topping
• 100g icing sugar
• juice of an orange (approx 100g)
• zest of 1 orange

Method

Grease two loose bottomed cake tins and place a sheet of baking paper on the base of each. This will help later when you have to extract the cake from the tins.

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

Put all of the dry cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl and combine them with the butter and the zest till you have a rather lovely fragrant doughey mixture.

Add the eggs, and whisk to blend giving a soft cake mixture.

Stir in the glace ginger dispersing it well.

Split the mixture between the two loose bottomed greased cake tins

Place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Check with skewer that the cakes are cooked. If still slightly gooey in the centre give them another 4-5 minutes.

Take out and place on a rack to cool.

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

Sandwiched buttercream icing

Once the cake has cooled mix the softened butter and the icing sugar in a large bowl.

Add half the grated rind.

Take one of the cakes and add a layer of icing to it.

Add some of the glace ginger to the layer that will be in the middle of the cakes.

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

For the topping

Mix the icing sugar and juice of half an orange

Add the zest

Pour the thin liquid over the top of the cake allowing it to overflow down the sides

Leave to set for a couple of hours – giving you a slightly crispy topping!

Fanny’s Scurrilous Fish Pie

Last year when we were staying with the ghastly Mrs Clam, Fanny cooked a delicious fish pie and here is the recipe with the video demo. This is fabulous comfort food and good for a supper dish with family and friends. You won’t have any leftovers!

fanny's scurrilous fish pie

INGREDIENTS – Serves 6

250g haddock

300g lightly smoked Scottish salmon

225g raw prawns – deveined

medium size (usually 200g) bag of fresh spinach

2 medium onions – peeled and cut into quarters

6 free range eggs

1 litre full cream milk

4 bay leaves

8 cloves

tspn black peppercorns

several sprigs lemon thyme

small bunch parsley

200g frozen peas

bunch of chives

1 large lemon

50ml Vermouth (white, extra dry – not that I would believe any of our gorgeous viewers would have even thought to use the sweet red one at the back of granny’s cocktail chest!)

2 heaped dstsp of flour

sea salt

fresh cracked black pepper

1.5kg potatoes

small bunch (about 4) spring onions – finely sliced, white parts and green

100ml full fat creme fraiche

200g Gruyere cheese, finely grated

METHOD

1) Start by peeling the potatoes and halving any larger ones – simmer in salted water for 25 mins until really tender. Meanwhile……

….2) Boil a full kettle of water

3) Place the haddock and salmon in a deep wide frying pan – there is no need to cut the fish in pieces or skin it. Stud the onion quarters with 2 cloves each and put these in with the fish, along with the bay leaves, parsley and lemon thyme, nestling the herbs in and amongst. Pour over the milk and sprinkle the peppercorns on. Simmer for 8 mins or so until the fish is just cooked – just translucent and flaky. Leave to cool and infuse.

4) Put the spinach in a colander and pour over the boiling water – set to one side to drain

5) Check the potatoes are done, drain and return to pan to steam dry for a few minutes then mash and add 100g butter, the creme fraiche, Gruyere (reserving about a quarter of it), spring onions and salt and pepper. If it feels too stiff, loosen slightly with a little milk but you don’t want a puree either, as this will tend to cause the mash to sink into the filling below once in situ as the crowning of this fabulous pie.

6) Melt 50g butter in a small jug by microwaving for 40 seconds and switch on the oven to 170C(fan assisted) now

fanny's scurrilous fish pie

7) if using individual pots, which I highly recommend, arrange a ring of wilted spinach around the bottom of each one, pour a little of the melted butter inside the spinach ring then crack an egg onto the buttered space inside the spinach ring.

8) Using a slotted spoon, remove the fish from the by-now fragrant cooking milk, take the skin off any pieces which have it and flake the fish fillets evenly into the pots, over the spinach/egg on the bottom. You can now arrange the prawns evenly amongst the pots, along with the peas.

fanny's scurrilous fish pie

9) In a medium size saucepan, melt 25g butter until it’s foaming then add your flour and whisk on a medium heat to make a roux – it should turn no darker than dark golden. Brown means burnt so avoid this. Then strain the cooking milk/herbs mix through a sieve directly into the roux and whisk quickly to ensure a smooth sauce. As the milk will still be hot, or at least quite warm, it should take no time to come up to the boil. Whisk most, if not all the time while continuing to boil for about 5 mins. The consistency you want is a bit thicker than double cream. Add the juice of the lemon and the vermouth, snip in the chives, season well with salt and fresh cracked black pepper and lastly whisk in the remaining 25g butter for the final, glossy touch to this delicious and satisfying but professional and nutritious pie

fanny's scurrilous fish pie

10) Now pour the sauce over the pots which should JUST submerge the ingredients you’ve already put in.

11) Spoon over the mash direct onto the mix in the pots and top with a sprinkle of the remaining Gruyere (and I cheated for even more “mmmmm” factor by further topping with a couple of teaspoons of fine, home-made breadcrumbs and a few small dots of butter)

12) Place in the oven and bake for 20 mins until there’s a golden crust and some of the sauce is bubbling artistically over the side – you might want to cover the baking sheet in tinfoil as you know my motto of “save the washing up”.

13) Serve still in their own pots to your salivating guests, with naked pride……..as nothing else is needed. Apart from a lovely glass of Chablis or citrussy Muscadet…

fanny's scurrilous fish pie

Delicious Fish Stock

fish stock recipe from fanny and brenda

This is a wonderful fish stock which can act as a base for bouillabaise, fish stew, soups etc. It is quite delicious and will influence the end result of your lovely fish recipe.

Ingredients

4 langoustines – I used cooked ones but raw would be even better – deveined and rinsed but retaining meat and all shell including head and legs. Meat does not have to be removed from legs or tail but the tail meats can be eaten or used in many fish recipes you make with this stock

5 shallots or a small red or pink onion – finely sliced

root and trimmings from 1 bulb fennel – finely sliced

1 carrot, finely sliced

large handful fresh parsley

1/2 lemon

1 bayleaf

3/4 tsp fennel seeds

3/4 tsp black pepper corns

big splash Vermouth (extra dry). You could use dry white wine but I like the extra “herbiness”

Method

Place the fennel, carrots and onion/shallot into the stockpot

Roughly chop the parsley, including the stems, and add them to the stockpot along with the half lemon, bayleaf, fennel seeds and black pepper corns.

Add prepared langoustines to pot

Pour in the vermouth, then add enough cold water to cover the fish and vegetables (about 1 litre)

Place the stockpot onto a high heat and bring the liquid to a simmer. You probably won’t find there is any, but remove scum that forms on the surface with a spoon and discard. Reduce the heat, put the lid on and let simmer gently for half an hour and dont stir it (which could make it go cloudy)

At the end of cooking time, remove the stock from the heat, let cool a little and strain. With a wooden spoon, lightly press the stock ingredients against the sieve to drain as much of the precious liquid as possible but without too much force that some of the softer components. like the onion, start to squish through which will make it go cloudy. Discard anything you catch in the sieve, unless you can rescue any of the small langoustine tail meats.

You should be left with around half a litre of clear stock which can be covered with clingfilm and stored in fridge for at least a few days – or used immediately.