Wednesday 27 June 2007

Bagels - Daring Bakers June Challenge

I have made bread maybe 4 or 5 times so far, and I haven’t really enjoyed it, so when my (now almost gone) gluten intolerance came along I ditched any bread making attempts, with almost a smile.

Hubble bubble!

I’ve seen many really top notch bread on fellow bloggers’ sites, and have always thought mmm, really good, but not for me. Recently though when I received Baking with Julia and read the lifelong driving passion of some amazingly dedicated bread bakers I felt the stirrings of interest in baking my own crust and crumb again. The pictures made it look quite fun. So I thought to myself I think I should give it at least one more try, and when the June Challenge for the Daring Bakers was announced to make bagels I thought well it’s going to be sooner rather than later!

Yeasty mix and flour ready to be combined.

Bagels originated in either Austria or Poland. The story goes that the original bagel or should I say bugel was first baked by a baker in Vienna for the King to celebrate his triumph of saving the city from invaders. The original was in the shape of a stirrup or ‘bugel’ in German. In Poland bagels were given to new Mothers to symbolise the circle of life. They were introduced to the countries that most of us now associate with bagels by Jewish immigrants. (my source for this history is The Best of Better by Marcy Goldman and Yvan Huneault).

Kneaded and ready to rise.

The word bagel speaks to me of leaden wheat-y circles, that are pretty hard to swallow! I tried shop bought – supermarket as opposed to baker’s artisan bread – with much glee as a teenager first and thought they were pretty horrible. I gave them another go a few years ago, but still this bread was not to be my friend. So it was with much trepidation that I started the challenge. I buoyed myself up with the never forgotten images from a TV programme from inside a Jewish bakery in New York city. What I remember is bagels in a large vat of water floating to the top, before being scooped out and placed on trays. The other thing I remember is equally large amounts of boiling oil for latkes, but that’s a different story.

Risen and ready to be formed.

So a bageling I went. They are a bit labour intensive to make, but it’s all different steps, so it’s not monotonous – well except for the boiling of the rings.

Post boiling

I was (even as a decidedly non-expert bread baker) pretty surprised by the amount of yeast – 4 tablespoons! I tried to reckon this against the other recipes I have in books and I wonder if it should have been 4 teaspoons? I stuck with the recipe though and had really monster bagel as a result, they just kept on rising! You proof the yeast. Add salt and flour. Knead for a while. Leave to rise in an oiled bowl. Shape. Boil then leave on tea towels. Then finally bake on a tray of cornmeal before cooling.

Monster Lumpy Bagels!!

I was 50/50 pleased and disappointed with my bagels. I'll start with the disappointment, they just were not pretty! I wanted them to look if not perfect then shiny and smooth, and well they just didn’t, they weren’t 100 miles off but I like things to look pretty. The positive was that they tasted better than any bagel we’ve eaten before them, they actually tasted of what they were made of and they were lovely with the toppings. Although they are meant to be a savoury, and you can add toppings of caraway seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, slivered onion pre baking I wanted them to be absolutely plain so didn’t even glaze them. I went traditional with smoked salmon and cream cheese, plain with good butter and my favourite, though I’m sure inauthentic butter and raspberry jam!

Bagels with Butter, Smoked Salmon and Raspberry Jam.

Thank you to this months hosts Jenny and Freya for choosing the recipe for us all. If you'd like to try this recipe you'll find it by clicking on the hosts names. I can say absolutely that I would not have made these otherwise, but I’m glad I did – even if they were not as perfect looking as I had hoped, and if I ever pass a real Jewish bakers I’m going in for some bagels! More bagels posts by clicking away on the list on the right under Daring Bakers.

Sunday 24 June 2007

Cinnamon Fudge Brownies

Cinnamon Fudge Brownies

I absolutely love the taste of cinnamon and chocolate together, and when I saw this recipe it had to be made. It comes from Dorie Greenspan’s Sweet Times Simple Desserts for Every Occasion cookbook.

The cinnamon is not overpowering but definitely noticeable, I wondered how these would go down with my family - they are not your usual brownie! I needn’t have worried because everyone liked the cinnamon/chocolate combination and they were gone before I knew it!

A lot of people seem to associate cinnamon with Christmas-sy flavours, but there is so much more to this aromatic, fragrant, sweet-spicy flavouring than a inclusion in just a few recipes in December. I guess they are like a great Parisian hot chocolate, but for the warmer months in brownie form!

If you’d like to try them here is the recipe:.

Cinnamon Fudge Brownies
From Sweet Times by Dorie Greenspan
½ cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter– I used 2 ¾ oz
2 tablespoons brewed coffee (instant is fine)
½ cup and 2 tablespoons sugar
6 oz high quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
½ cup walnut pieces
1. Centre a rack in the oven and preheat to 325oC. Butter and 8 inch square baking pan and flour the bottom, tap out excess flour and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon; reserve.
2. In a medium saucepan over direct heat bring the butter, sugar and coffee just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate and stir with a small whisk until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and leave to cool for a minute or two.
3. Still working in the saucepan with a small whisk, beat in the eggs, one at a time until you have a thick, glossy batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and gradually stir in the reserved dry ingredients. Fold in the nuts and scrape batter into the prepared pan.
4. Bake for 33 to 35 minutes, until the top is dry and crackly. Place the brownie pan in a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Unmould onto a rack and invert onto another rack to finish cooking completely. Make 16 sqaures.

Tuesday 19 June 2007

A Couple of American Main Course Salads

It’s that time of year again, and the salads are coming out again! Not that I don’t make salad year round, but I have a selection that although they are not Summer salads per se I only make them at this time of year so they are Summer salads to me at least.

These are my entry for an event called Salad Stravaganza! I had decided that my salads would come from Sheila Lukins fabulous U.S.A. Cookbook. A book that was published in 1997, I found it in a book shop in 1999 and have been charmed by it ever since. My favourite potato salad comes from this book – but more about that in another post. I managed to whittle down my choice of entry to two salads, but at the end of the day I couldn’t choose – they are too different – so here they both are.

Cowboy Rice Salad and Apricot, Ham and Cheese Salad. I don’t think there is any similarity to be drawn between them (except that they are in the same cook book!), but the diversity involved in all the different salads that can be made is not a small part of their charm. Now although they are not traditional diet salads they are both filling and I don’t need dessert after them – and believe my I have a raging sweet tooth!

Cowboy Rice Salad
Now, you’d probably guess based on rice, but once it’s made it’s all the add ins that leap out at you. Green beans, broad (lima) beans, kidney beans, chicken sausage and herbs and subtle spicing of the rice are great on their own, but the Luscious Lime Dressing makes it all sing together so well. I’ve played around with it a bit. Omitted sugar snap peas and used French green beans instead, and upped the chilli powder from ¼ teaspoon to ½ and also upped the turmeric powder from 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon. This is still essentially Sheila’s recipe if you’d like to make her recipe exactly just change the quantities in the recipe below to the above.

Cowboy Rice Salad

½ pound green beans
1 small onion cut into ¼ inch dice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup long grain white rice (I used Basmati)
½ teaspoon chilli powder (I used Mild)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
half a cinnamon stick
3 ½ cups (28 fl oz) chicken stock
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
½ cup diced red bell pepper (1/4 inch dice)
¾ cup cooked baby lima beans (broad beans it’s prettier if you skin them, but I don’t always)
¾ cup cooked red kidney beans
¼ lb cooked shredded chicken breast
1 small spicy smoked sausage, sliced ( I use a couple of Kabanos sausages)
2 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro) or parsley
½ cup Luscious Lime Dressing (recipe follows)

Bring a pot of water to the boil, add green beans and cook to still be a little al dente, but still crisp and green 4 mins or so. Refresh under cold water and set aside.
Place the onion and live oil in a heavy saucepan. Cook stirring until the onion is wilted, about 10 minutes. Stir in the rice, chilli powder, turmeric and cinnamon stick. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. The rice should be cooked and the stock absorbed.
Fluff the rice with a fork and add the rest of the ingredients. Check seasonings and serve in a pretty bowl.

Luscious Lime Dressing

¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon runny honey
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
1 teaspoon minced garlic
salt and pepper
½ cup olive oil

Place the juice, honey, zest, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk together.
Slowly drizzle in the oil and whisk until combined. Makes ¾ cup – so you will have some leftover.

Apricot Ham and Cheese Salad

This is a quickly assembled salad that is tasty and yummy. One to remember if you have leftover baked ham! I haven’t changed any ingredients but have altered the method slightly to give less washing up. Also Sheila gives size of dice, but I don’t think it matters that much here. I’ve made it with sour cream and low fat yoghurt, and they both taste good. The sour cream gives a smooth mouth feel and the yoghurt doesn’t which makes a lighter dressing. I served this with some Jersey Royal potatoes tossed in a small amount of butter.

Thanks to Lisa and Kelly for hosting this Stravaganza.

Apricot Ham and Cheese Salad

½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream or low fat yoghurt
1 ½ tablespoons apricot jam (preserves)
1 ½ tablespoons honey mustard (I use 1 tablespoon honey and ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard)

6 oz Gruyere cheese, diced or shaved
1 pound baked ham, shredded or chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped or sliced
2 spring onions (scallions) 3 inches of green left on and sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced or diced
½ cup plump dried apricots, halved
2 tablespoond chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the dressing ingredients in the bottom of a large bowl.
Add everything else to the bowl and toss to combine. Check for seasoning and serve.

Thursday 14 June 2007

Love Bars


Love Bars

When I read about these in the Pret Food on The Move Pret DIY The Recipes book by Jane Lunzer Gifford I just knew I HAD to make them!

The book which I posted about last week ('Pret Lunches' a couple of sandwiches and the Pret Chocolate Bar) is fabulous, and I am so glad I bought it! I like how it is set out and in the introduction there are comments and phrases here and there, as in the Silver Palate Cookbook for example. Ther are no pictures in the style of a traditional cookbook, but many black and white ones of life at Pret. The nicely titled chapters are In the Thermos, The Lunch Box, Snacking on the Way, Too Good To Move, Home Sweet Home and Basics. It’s a real friend in the kitchen, it’ll keep me going with the what to have for lunch question for quite some time. I mentioned in my previous post that I’m not very good at thinking up lunches, breakfast, dinner, dessert, baking no problems, but lunch is my problem meal. The past few weekends have been a lot easier since started cooking from Pret DIY! This isn’t the first sandwich-y cookbook I’ve purchased I can think of at least two others off the top of my head, but neither have made it to the using pile, whereas Pret has. One recipe just seems to follow another and before I know it I’ll have a much more exciting lunch time reportiore. Here is a selection of some of the 35 recipes I have marked to try: Malaysian Chicken Soup, Chorizo Baguette, Pret Christmas Lunch Sandwiches, Salami, Cream Cheese & Olive Sandwich, Chicken Avocado Salad, Fennel, Prawn & Lime Salad, Lemon Drizzle Cake, Oat & Fruit Slice and Chocolate Goddess Cake.

Now back to the Love Bar. I think I was probably drawn to the bar for it’s title, I like romance, hearts, flowers and love. Just the word gives me a little smile! As for the ingredients - well it’s a gorgeous gorgeous bar. There are three layers, flapjack oaty bottom, fudgy toffee layer and then a sprinkling of healthy bits – nuts, seeds and chocolate. Chocolate healthy? You are maybe thinking and I think it is as long as you aren’t eating vast quantities in an unbalanced diet, but this is just my opinion and I’m sticking to it ha ha! I’m not entirely sure how big these bars are supposed to be but I got 20 fingers from the recipe. They are right up my street and I can only think they are called Love Bars because people love them! I do for sure.

Love Bars

Thank you so much to the lovely people at Pret for allowing me to post their recipe from Pret Food on the Move Pret DIY The Recipes by Jane Lunzer Gifford.

For the flapjack base:
150g golden syrup
1 tbsp clear honey
200g unsalted butter
350g rolled oats
60g soft brown sugar

For the Topping:
60g dark brown sugar
130ml double cream
60g unsalted butter
35g pumpkin seeds
45g dark chocolate chips
35g shelled pistachio nuts
35g chopped almonds

1) Pre-heat the oven to 150C (300F/Gas 2). Grease a 23cm (9 inch square) baking tray.
2) To make the base, warm the syrup, honey and butter until blended together in a large pan over a low heat. Add the oats and soft brown sugar and mix well.Place in a baking tray and smooth the top, bake for 20 minutes or until the surface is lightly browned but not dark. Then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
3) Meanwhile, to make the topping, put the dark brown sugar and double cream in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat (this prevents the mixture from burning). Dissolve the sugar and then increase the heat and bring the mixture to the boil and keep boiling for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously whilst the cream thickens as the liquid evaporates.The wider the base of the pan, the larger the surface area and therefore the quicker the evaporation. Keep an eye on the consistency and stop boiling before the cream catches and burns, but it needs to thicken so that it becomes a little like fudge.Take off the heat and stir in the butter until it has all melted. Pour over the flapjack and spread with a palette knife.
4) While still warm, sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, pistachio nuts and almonds.Cut into slices when completely cold.

Monday 11 June 2007

Quick Chicken Korma

Quick Chicken Korma

I really like Nigel Slater he has such passion for good food, and it's comforting to know that he likes cheap candy bars and the very best chocolate as well. I like how he writes and although I haven’t cooked a huge amount of his recipes I have all his books and enjoy reading them a lot. I hope he considers doing another Kitchen Diaries as it’s fun to dip in and out of it.
This korma is from his The 30 Minute Cook – The Best of The Worlds Quick Cooking. Now Nigel is the first to admit that quick and korma is a contradiction in terms, and it is – but this is just really good. I’m not too keen on anything too spicy, so korma with it’s subtle spicing and slight tingle is just my thing. Korma sauce and nan bread, yum! If you like things quite fiery you could use a strong chilli powder, I use mild – but that’s just me. I didn’t make the nan bread, if I had done it would have taken it out of the bracket of a quick weeknight supper, and that is really what this book is about for me. That said I would like to make my own nan bread one day but not today!

From the same book I also made his hoisin chicken with walnuts and mushrooms recently, but didn’t take a picture because although it tasted good it looked a bit brown! My little one liked the mushrooms in the sauce and kept asking for more mucky mushrooms, so I guess I made the right call in not taking the picture. This book is due for a serious re-read though, it was first published in 1994 when I bought it and I re-read it periodically. It’s the type of book to provide inspiration to a frazzled cook who wants something a bit interesting when short of time.

Here is Nigel’s korma if you fancy trying it. I forgot to sprinkle on the corriander, and also you can use 2 to 4 chicken breasts depending on the amount of sauce you would like.

Quick Korma
50g (2oz) butter
2 medium onions, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
4cm knob of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds from 6 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
50g (2oz) shelled cashews or almonds
2 bay leaves
2 boned chicken breasts
5 fl oz 150ml yoghurt
5 fl oz 150ml double (heavy) cream
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
Melt the butter in a deep, heavy bottomed casserole, add the onions, garlic and ginger and cook for about 5 minutes. If it’s not browning add a little oil. It is essential not to burn the butter. Add the spices, bay leaves and nuts and cook for around 3 minutes, stirring almost constantly. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Add to the casserole and when it has coloured a little pour in 8 fl oz 225ml of boiling water. Season with salt and pepper and leave to simmer on a reasonably high heat till the chicken is tender (around 15 minutes).
Mix the yoghurt and cream together and stir into the chicken and spice mixture. Simmer, very gently, for 4-5 minutes. Don’t let it boil as it will curdle. Scatter over the coriander and serve with pilaf or bread. For 2, generously.

Friday 8 June 2007



When the sun comes out and the berries ripen up it’s pavlova time! I love a good pav, as do all my nearest and dearest. I tend to make them only in the warmer months, probably because I like to make them with beautiful Summer berries. This pavlova comes from Butter Sugar Flour Eggs by Gale Gand.

A few miles from where we live there is raspberry farm and for the past three (or maybe 4) years they have sold their berries from a little porta cabin thing at the roadside. They are not particularly cheap, but I know I’m buying something picked the day I buy them and of premium quality, with only the miles between the farm and home as the distance the berries have travelled. As a bonus they sell bags of frozen berries as a reasonable price for making jam, and due to them having been consigned to the jam bags because they are too ripe to sell as ‘perfect’ shapely berries they and the jam they make taste wonderful. I also bought some Scottish strawberries as well, but not originating from as far north as us.

For quite a few years I made many different recipes for pavlova until I found this one. It really is (to my mind anyway) a four star pavlova. It’s secret and therefore Gale’s secret that she so kindly shares with us is to use raspberry vinegar. She calls it a "…subtle, almost ghostly raspberry flavour…" and that pretty much sums it up – it makes for a great flavoured pav, it doesn’t just taste sweet, there is a little more there in terms of flavour. I have changed the creamy topping only a little, giving a nod to Billy Granger in his Everyday book, and added in a small pot of low fat yoghurt. I did this because I wanted a bit more topping, but didn’t just want to add more cream. I think the mix of cream and yoghurt tastes richer than just cream alone, and it’s not quite so calorific – but I don’t think a pav is the time to worry about that one! Also you might be thinking does the cream need the soft brown sugar – it brings out the flavour of the cream, and if you think that sounds weird give it a go next time you whisk cream for a dessert. Here is the recipe if you would like to try it.


½ cup egg whites (4 fl oz) about 4 eggs
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cornflour
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
½ teaaspoon vanilla extract
10fl oz double (heavy) cream
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 fl oz pot of plain low fat yoghurt (my addition and optional)
Chocolate curls for sprinkling (also my addition and absolutely optional!)
Fruit for the topping

Heat the oven to 350. Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a mixer fitter with a whisk attachment until foamy. Add the sugar, cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and continue to whisk until stiff, smooth and glossy (about 5 – 8 minutes more).
Draw a 9 inch circle on a piece of parchment paper and lay on a baking tray with the pencil marks down, but you should still be able to see the circle (or just go by eye). Spoon the egg whites onto the paper and smooth the sides and top with the back of a spoon. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 300 and bake until the mringue has puffed up and cracked on the top and a light café au lait colour, about 45 minutes more. Turn off the oven and let the pav cool for 30 minutes still in the oven, but with the door ajar. Then cool on a rack (still on the paper and tray).
When cool peel away the paper and whip the cream and sugar until pretty stiff, then fold in the yoghurt, spread over the meringue and top with fruit. I like a sprinkle of chocolate as well, but it’s your call now!

Monday 4 June 2007

Pret Lunches

These two sandwiches and bar come from a book called Pret Food on the Move by Jane Lunzer Gifford. I would have to own up that I have never been to a Pret shop or indeed tasted any of their sandwiches or anything else for that matter. What motivated me to buy this book is that I’m just really bad at thinking up sandwich combinations. I always have been, I mean I like the usual tuna mayo, prawn Marie rose, Coronation chicken, ham and cheese, chicken and grapes… but I like something a bit different too, and that’s where I come unstuck.

So it was with much hope that I picked up the Pret book, it’s modern and stylish and it surely delivers with the usual and the not so usual. The chapters are: In the Thermos, The Lunch Box, Snacking on the Way, Too Good to Move, Home Sweet Home and Basics.

Brie and Cranberry Sandwich

This was one that I’ve ordered in cafes and although they are usually good I always want about 4 or 5 times the amount to cranberry sauce in them! Ah see my sweet tooth will get it’s sugar one way or the other. It’s bread, mayo, brie, cranberry sauce, pine nuts and lettuce leaves. The precise quantities are in the book, but I just went by a rough eye. The pine nuts were a nice addition offering a bit of crunch against the softness of the rest of the filling.
Provencal Chicken Sandwich

This was Caesar mayo (Pret recipe, in which I down scaled the anchovies to suit my own preferences), black olives, chicken, roasted tomatoes, red pepper and leaves. The mayo really made it!

As well as the two sandwiches here I’ve also made their egg mayo and bacon baguette, cold potato salad and something from the sweet section – Pret Choc Bar. It’s a melt and stir sort of bar and I always want to try new bars of this sort, because I have a big soft spot for them. This one was top notch delivering a good dark chocolate taste with a base of dark chocolate, biscuits butter, sultanas and golden syrup then a milk chocolate topping.
Pret Choc Bar

There are many more recipes and ideas that I plan to try, and the success of the five things I’ve made so far would spur me on. They have something called a (sweet) Love Bar, a baked bar which sounds really gorgeous, flapjack bottom, toffee-ish layer and sprinkling of healthy crunchy bits.

Expect to see it on these pages very soon, as I’m hoping to give it a go this weekend! I’d try it sooner, but this week is just too manic – no time to bake? Now that’s a sorry state of affairs!

Saturday 2 June 2007

Chocolate Midnight

Chocolate Midnight

This is a cake from Dorie Greenspan, and it appears in her Sweet Times book as Chocolate Midnight and also in Baking From My Home to Yours as Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake. I was very taken with the name chocolate midnight, so that’s what I’m going with! It's so poetic. A soft, moist chocolate cake sandwiched with cherry jam and coated with chocolate icing, mmmm.

It’s a chocolate loaf cake that is cut into three horizontal layers and sandwiched with cherry jam. I found a very good Fairtrade one made with morello cherries and it was sweet / sour so it went with the chocolate cake perfectly, the icing is a simple chocolate one that was also not too sweet. I’m actually quite surprised that I liked it because I usually like things to be really sweet, but like it I did! I served it with some slightly sweetened whipped cream and next time I’m going to add a cherry compote to the plate too as I think that would have made a perfect pairing (trio?). I decorated it with crystalised rose petals, because I found them again recently when making the Daring Bakers gateau – and I couldn’t help myself I need my pretty decoration fix! I used a 2lb UK loaf tin, and a bit spilled over the top when baking, and this is ok by me as that counts as a cooks perk! Next time though I might use my 3lb tin instead.

I won’t type out the recipe, as Baking is a well owned book – but if you don’t have it and you’d like to try this cake please say in the comments and I’ll add it for you. Edit: Here it is!

Chocolate Midnight

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 cup ( 2 sticks) 8 oz unsalted butter, a room temp
1 1/3 cup cugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (8 fl oz) sour cream

1/3 cup raspberry jam (I used cherry)

The Frosting
5 oz high quality bittersweet chocolate
½ cup sour cream
Crystalised Rose Petals (my adition and optional)

The cake: Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 10 x 5" loaf pan and dust the inside with flour, tapping out the excess. Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda onto a large sheet of waxed paper, reserve.
In an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on a medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 5 mins, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the sour cream, then the sifted dry ingredients. Give the batter a last stir with a rubber spatula. Scrape into the prepared pan, push down the middle a bit so that the edges nearest the pan are higher and bake for 55 – 65 mins – or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Turn out of the pan after 5 minutes and cool upside down on a wire rack.
The filling: Bring the jam and 1 tsp water to a boil, stirring. Cut the cooled cake in three horizontally and spread the jam between the two inside layers.
The Frosting: Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan with barely simmering water. Still over hot water stir in the sour cream. Remove the bowl from the heat and use to ice the cake.