It is probably the worst time to tear down the kitchen. Four days before Christmas and all that’s standing at one end of the open-plan living space is the old sink, pipes showing through a door-less cabinet. Since I haven’t yet decided on the new fixtures and layout, the handyman had to leave the sink purely for practical reasons.
With the big oven gone, what I miss the most is not being able to bake bread. This doesn’t, however, mean I would have to forgo cakes that would normally be baked. In fact, instead of a heat source, what you’ll need is a refrigerator!
So for everyone who finds themselves in the same boat without an oven, or have left their dessert preparation to the last minute, you may want to consider one of these no-bake desserts (videos included in the link).
You might be familiar with the local non-baked favourite called Kek Batik, named for the obvious resemblance to the traditional fabric print. It’s made with broken Marie biscuits combined with a chocolate sauce or runny custard made with egg, condensed milk and Milo. In Britain, there’s the Hedgehog Slice, which is made in a similar way with rich tea biscuits and a sugar syrup flavoured with cocoa. It’s been said that this simple dessert is Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite tea cake!
Our recipe is more like the Hedgehog, with nuts and a chocolate ganache topping added. The biscuits used are wholemeal digestives. The cake is made in a round tin, and cut into wedges. A lot of people I served the cake to thought it was actually baked.
Click the link for the recipe: No-bake Chocolate Biscuit Cake
A biscuit cake with a long history is the old-fashioned icebox cake. The title clearly states how it’s made, and traditionally, it comprises only two ingredients: Biscuits (or cookies) are layered with whipped cream in the shape of a round cake, and refrigerated. Once the cookies soften, the “cake” is easier to slice – here’s your cookies and cream in a very pretty presentation.
We have taken our frosting for icebox cake one notch up by adding cream cheese. I think it’s more tasty with cream cheese, but more important, it is more stable and allows the cake to be stored for longer – although I’m not sure it will last very long when you serve it! If you’re into fancy cake decoration, go crazy with your piping bag.
An unusual feature of our cake is how the biscuits are arranged. We use chocolate sandwich cookies, sandwich them together with frosting and lay them in a baking tin on their sides. Slice into the cake diagonally to see the pretty vertical brown and white stripes.
Click the link for the recipe: No-bake Icebox Cake
A no-bake pie is another dessert that is quite easy to throw together. Like the biscuit and icebox cakes above, we again use biscuits, this time in the crust. To be honest, I wanted to keep this an all-coconut pie, but couldn’t find any coconut biscuits and decided the next best thing would be gingernuts.
The filling, while containing egg yolk, is a cooked custard, unlike some of the mousse-type pie fillings. If coconut is not your thing, cream can be used instead of coconut milk and melted chocolate could be added for flavour, for instance. Or make it into a lime flavoured pie – citrus and coconut is another tasty combination.
The meringue topping, when made right, is soft and billowy. For the whisking step, an electric mixer is essential because a hand whisk and manual power just won’t get the job done well.
The part I like best – purely optional, of course – is getting to use my kitchen torch to toast the meringue. The smell of caramelising sugar is intoxicating, plus I get to play with fire! Leave the meringue plain and white if you can’t do the torching, or sprinkle toasted coconut on top if you like. Either way, this makes one impressive-looking dessert.