Saturday, 14 April 2018

Sablé Breton

Sablé Breton biscuits are a deliciously buttery French shortbread.  There are lots of recipes available and they are all basically the same, but with some minor differences.  For instance, some use baking powder while others don't.  Some use ground almonds(almond flour) and flour where others just use flour.  But in essence they are pretty much the same.  

For mine I decided to use some finely ground almonds as that adds a different texture and extra flavour.  

The recipe is simple to make and the resultant biscuit is fantastic, a rich buttery shortbread that almost melts in the mouth.  Some people make them thinner than my recipe, and indeed I think maybe I made mine slightly thicker than necessary, but it really doesn't matter.  Also it seems that straight sided biscuits, in a mould, are normal but they can also be placed straight onto a baking tray and allowed to spread as they bake, also they can be placed into a muffin tin and baked(the sloping side will be fine).  Another variation in recipes sees some people decorate the tops, after egg washing, using a fork to create a pattern. For mine I decided to leave them plain, it certainly doesn't affect how they bake, or taste. 

These biscuits taste so good it is easy to eat more than one at a time.  Mine turned out very well indeed, with a slight sinking but perfectly baked.  I deliberately only made a small number as that suited my purpose, but doubling the recipe and slicing slightly thinner would give about 30 biscuits.

I thoroughly recommend this as great tasting recipe.
Sablé Breton

                                       Sablé Breton - Video Ingredients:
  • 125g (1 cup) Pastry or plain flour
  • 150g (1 stick + 2 1/2 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
  • 90g(2/3) icing sugar
  • 1 medium egg yolk(large in USA) 
  • 45g(3/8 cup) finely ground almonds/almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Method: (I used a hand mixer for all the mixing)
  1. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and smooth.
  2. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix until combined
  3. Add the ground almonds and mix until combined.
  4. Add the salt to the flour and add into the butter mixture then mix until it just comes together.
  5. Place the dough onto some plastic wrap and roll into a sausage shape about 25cm/12 inches long.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  7. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F.
  8. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap.
  9. Straighten the ends if necessary and cut into 12 - 16 equal sized slices.
  10. Place each slice into the base of a mould or tin(I used a 12 hole tin with straight sides but a muffin tin is fine. 
  11. Gently press the dough to spread to almost cover the base.
  12. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown especially around the edges.
  13. Cool for a couple of minutes in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Chocolate Chip Two Bite Brownies

I had a request to make some two bite brownies, which are ideal to snack on, particularly for children who often don't need a full sized brownie.  So to make small brownies I used a mini muffin tin and filled each hole to just below the top of the tin.  To try to retain a little more moisture in these small brownies I used a little oil with the butter.  

I added some milk chocolate chips into the mixture but this is not entirely necessary so omitting them would be fine.  The little brownies turned out perfectly, with a crisp crackle on the outside and soft and moist in the middle.  I think the milk chocolate added to the wonderful flavour, though I am sure lovers of dark chocolate would enjoy some of those chips in the brownies too.
Chocolate Chip Two Bite Brownies
Chocolate Chip Two Bite Brownies - Video
  • 95g (3/4cup) plain flour
  • 65g(1/2 cup) cocoa powder, sifted to remove lumps
  • 200g(1 cup) caster sugar(granulated is ok)
  • 2 medium(large in USA) eggs
  • 76g(1/3 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g(2/3 cup) chocolate chips(I used milk chocolate)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
  2. Grease a mini muffin tin. (I only have a 12 hole one so had to bake in two batches)
  3. Place the flour, cocoa powder and salt into a bowl and stir to combine.
  4. In a large bowl whisk the sugar, melted butter and eggs until all combined and pale in colour.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture until you have a paste.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips . until evenly spread throughout.
  7. Using two teaspoons divide the mixture into the holes of the muffin tin until just below the top of the tin.
  8. Use a finger to spread the mixture into the holes.
  9. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes, the brownies should be firm to the touch.
  10. Remove and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Chocolate Fudge Tart

I recently saw a recipe of a Chocolate Fudge Tart which looked very good.  So I decided that I would make one, but with a couple of variants to that recipe, to suit my particular taste.  

The recipe is simple and consists of a biscuit base, flavoured with cocoa powder.  Then a rich, silky smooth chocolate fudge mixture is poured into it and allowed to chill until set.  I also sprinkled roasted chopped hazelnuts on the top before chilling, to add another flavour and texture to the tart.

Although it takes a little while to make, most of the time is actually waiting time.  When it is chilled removing it from the tart tin is quite easy and then it is time to slice and eat.  What a lovely taste it has too, very good indeed.
Chocolate Fudge Tart

                                  Chocolate Fudge Tart - Video
for the tart base:
  • 150g (1 1/4 cups crumbed) of biscuits, processed to crumbs(Oat biscuits, digestives or Graham crackers are good)
  • 45g(1/2 cup) cocoa powder
  • 45g(1/4 cup) light brown sugar(granulated or caster sugar will be fine too)
  • 80g(6 tbsp is 78g) softened or melted butter
For the chocolate fudge filling:
  • 250g (9 oz)milk chocolate, chopped into pieces
  • 125g (4 1/2 oz)dark chocolate, chopped into pieces
  • 150g(1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) double cream, or heavy cream
  • 400g(14 oz) tin of caramel(condensed milk or dulce de leche is fine too)
  • pinch salt. (If the tin says 300ml that is fine it will weigh 400g).
  • 25g (1/4 cup)roasted chopped hazelnuts
  1. Grease a 23cm(9 inch) loose bottomed tart tin on the base and sides and line the base with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl place the biscuit crumbs and add the cocoa powder and sugar, then mix to combine.
  3. Add the butter and mix until the whole thing has formed a paste.
  4. Spread the biscuit paste over the base of the tart tin and up the sides, as evenly as possible.
  5. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350 F.
  7. Baked the biscuit base for 10 to 12 minutes.  If the sides seem to shrink use the back of a teaspoon to push some mixture back up the sides while still hot.
  8. Allow to cool as you make the chocolate fudge.
  9. Place the chocolate, cream, caramel and salt into a saucepan and heat on a low to medium, stirring, until everything has melted and come together into a thick chocolately liquid.
  10. Pour the mixture into the cooled tart base.
  11. Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts over the top.
  12. Place in the fridge for at least two hours, until the tart has set well.
  13. Remove from tart tin and slice.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Ring Doughnuts

I wanted to make some doughnuts.  So the other day I made up a small batch of dough I made two jam doughnuts.  That worked very well, though I overfilled them.  Today I thought I would make some doughnuts for the blog, but ring doughnuts, rather than filled ones, as a first attempt, so to speak.

The recipe will actually make about 16 ring doughnuts, depending on the size you cut out.  I used an 8cm/3 inch cutter and then about 2.5cm/just over 1 inch, to cut out the middle to make the hole.  The dough is a fairly basic enriched dough and works very well for these.  

After making the dough and proving, the next step is to roll out and cut out the shapes.  Then they prove again before frying in hot oil for one minute on each side.

Then having drained them I coated half of the doughnuts in sugar and the remainder in a chocolate ganache.  

It all worked very well and I really enjoyed the results,  having fried the middle bits and coated them in sugar I ate them all.

These doughnuts are best eaten on the day they are made, so if you don't need 16 you could halve the recipe.
Ring Doughnuts

                                      Ring Doughnuts - Video
for the dough
  • 500g(4 cups) strong white bread flour(plain flour would be ok)
  • 50g(1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 40g unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • 150 ml (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) whole milk - luke warm
  • 130 ml (1/2 cup + 2 tsp) water - luke warm
  • 10g (1 1/2 sachets) instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt.
  • Unflavoured oil, such as vegetable, sunflower, etc, for frying. (I used a large pan with 1 1/2 litres of oil which was about 1 3/4 inches deep)
For the top or coating:
  • caster sugar on a baking tray, to roll some of the doughnuts in)
  • 100g dark chocolate chopped into small pieces
  • 60ml(1/4 cup) double cream, or heavy cream
  • 28g(2 tbsp) butter
  1. Place the flour, yeast and caster sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix to combine(this can all be done by hand, but a mixer makes the whole process easier)
  2. Add the eggs, milk, water butter and salt.
  3. Fit the dough hook to the mixer.
  4. Mix together on a low speed for two minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary to get all the flour combined.
  5. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth, elastic and only slightly tacky.
  6. Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead briefly, ensuring it doesn't stick to the surface. 
  7. Form into a ball, continuing to turn in the hands to create some tension.
  8. Place the dough into a greased bowl, coating all the surface of the dough, and cover with plastic wrap and allow to prove for 1 to 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
  9. Flour the work surface and tip the dough out.
  10. Knock it back to release the gases.
  11. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 1 cm(1/2 inch).
  12. Cut out circles of dough about 8cm/3 inches in size, flouring the cutter each time.
  13. Cut out the centre of each circle with a cutter about 2.5 cm/ just over 1 inch in diameter.  I used an upturned piping nozzle. Make sure you flour the nozzle each time.
  14. Place the doughnut shapes onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper to prevent sticking. For this I very lightly sprinkled flour on the paper too.
  15. Cover loosely and with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to prove for about 30 minutes.
  16. As the doughnut shapes prove heat the oil in a large, deep, pan to 180C/350F.  You can test the temperature by dipping the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil. If the oil bubbles slightly around the spoon as it is dipped then it is hot enough.
  17. Carefully place 3 or 4 doughnuts into the oil and allow to cook for one minute, then turn them over and allow to cook for another minute.
  18. Remove from the oil onto a wire rack.
  19. Repeat the process with the remainder.
  20. As the other cook you can coat the cooked ones with caster sugar, while they are still hot.
  21. If you wish to cover some in chocolater ganache you will need to all those to cool completely.
  22. Place the chocolate and double cream into a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water.
  23. Stir until the chocolate has melted into the cream and it is all smooth and combined.
  24. Remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring until it has all combined and is a nice glossy liquid.
  25. Allow the ganache to cool, so that it thickens somewhat.  
  26. When cool carefully dip each of the doughnuts into the ganache, so that the top half is coated and place on a rack to set, covering with some sprinkles if you wish.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Hot Cross Bun Loaf - For Easter

Hot Cross Buns are a traditional Easter bun, eaten on Good Friday in the UK.  In fact they can be eaten at any time, but Good Friday is the tradition.   These days the shop bought versions are available for months in advance of Easter.  They also come in many different combinations of flavours.   Personally I prefer the more traditional flavours.

Since I already have a couple of versions of Hot Cross Buns on the blog and on Youtube I thought I would make a variation, in the shape of a loaf that can be sliced, rather than individual buns.  

I then got even more adventurous and decided to make two variations, one free form bun shaped and the other in a loaf tin.  I also decided to mix up the fruit a little.  Usually currants are the main fruit, with mixed peel.  But for this version I have used currants, sultanas, raisin, glace cherries and peel.  Of course you can mix any dried fruit you wish, blueberries, cranberries, etc, and even chocolate chips if you wish.  But I stuck with my tried and tested favourites.

Although I made two loaves the recipe below, and the ingredients used to mix the dough in the video are enough for just one.  I made a second batch of dough off camera.  I did this mainly because not everyone might have a 2lb loaf tin and I wanated to show that they could still make the loaf if they wished.

Also, if individual buns are preferrred the recipe below will make 12.  But the baking time should be reduced to 25 - 30 minutes.

Although making these take a little time it is very rewarding since the resultant loaf is very good indeed, with the lovely texture of the bread, with lots of fruity filling and the hit of the spices too. 

Mine turned out very well indeed and is perfect to eat with just some butter.  Sliced and toasted and then buttered is also wonderful.
Hot Cross Bun Loaves
Hot Cross Bun Loaves - Video

For the dough:
  • 500g(4 cups) strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 75g(3/8 cup) caster sugar
  • 2 tsp all spice powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 lemon, finely grated zest only
  • 10g/¼oz salt
  • 10g/(1 1/2 sachets) fast-action dried yeast
  • 40g/1½oz butter
  • 300ml(1 1/4 cups) milk
  • 1 medium egg, beaten (large in USA)
  • 200g (1 1/2 cups) dried fruit( I used 50g each of currants, sultanas, raisins and chopped morello glace cherries) . Any combination is fine if you like it.
  • 50g(1/3 cup) finely chopped mixed peel
  • oil, for greasing
For the paste for crosses:
  • 25g flour
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • + warmed apricot jam for brushing on top.
  1. Heat the milk until warm, but not hot.
  2. Melt the butter.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the flour, all spice, cinnamon, lemon zest and sugar.
  4. Add the yeast on one side of the bowl and the salt on the other side.
  5. Mix all those dry ingredients together.
  6. Add the egg, butter and half of the milk.
  7. Knead with the dough attachment(you can do this by hand but it is more work) until the dough is a glossy, elastic constistency that is slightly tacky.  
  8. Add the dried fruit and mixed peel and mix until all is combined.
  9. Lightly flour the work surface and tip the dough out onto it. 
  10. Knead and turn until satisfied that the fruit is fairly evenly incorporated.
  11. Form the dough into a ball and place into a greased bowl, turning over once to fully coat in oil.
  12. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to prove for 1 1/2-2 hours until it has doubled in size.
  13. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back to remove the air.  
  14. Then make the loaf, either by folding the dough in on itself and forming a ball, which is then placed on a lined baking tray, or by dividing into 8 equal sized pieces and rolling into a log shape about 3 inches long which can be placed on end in the 2lb loaf tin, in two rows of 4.
  15. Cover the loaf again, loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to prove until doubled in size(1 - 1/2 hours).
  16. While the dough is proving preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/400F.
  17. Mix 25g flour with the oil and a little of the water to form a thick paste that is just loose enough to be piped.  You may not need all of the water.
  18. Place that mixture into a piping bag and snip off the end leaving a hole of no more than about 1/4 inch.
  19. Pipe one cross on a round loaf, making the cross about 1/2 inch wide, or pipe 8 crosses, one on each of the tops of the logs, but only about 1/4 inch.
  20. Bake in the oven for 35 0 40 minutes, until the top is a nice golden colour, and the base sounds hollow when tapped.  You can test the internal temperature if you have a thermometer, and it should be at least 88C/190F.
  21. Remove from tin, or baking tray and place on a wire rack.
  22. Brush with a little warmed apricot jam to give a sticky, top and then allow to cool completely.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Chocolate Sandwich Sponge Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

Today's recipe is a very easy chocolate sponge cake, in two layers, that have a simple chocolate buttercream between them.

This recipe is simple, with not too many ingredients and when complete it tastes very good indeed.

You can make much richer chocolate cakes, more decadent in style, but for a simple, easy to make cake, this is difficult to beat.

Mine turned out very nicely, even though both my cameras gave me problems which made editing things together rather difficult.  But, as you will see, the cake turned out well and I can confirm that it tastes very good indeed.
Chocolate Sandwich Sponge w Chocolate Buttercream

        Chocolate Sandwich Sponge w Chocolate Buttercream - Video

for the sponge cakes:
  • 225g(2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
  • 225g(1 cup + 2 tbsp) caster sugar(granulated is ok)
  • 175g(1 1/4 cups + 2 tbsp) self rising flour
  • 4 medium(large in USA) eggs
  • 50g(scant 1/2 cup) cocoa powder
for the buttercream:
  • 50g(1 3/4 oz) dark chocolate broken into small chunks
  • 100g (1 stick minus 1 tbsp) softened unsalted butter
  • 200g (1 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp) icing sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
  2. Grease two 8 inch sandwich tins and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar,for the sponges, together until nice and fluffy( I used a stand mixer).
  4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until fully combined.  Add a little flour to prevent curdling if you wish.
  5. Mix the flour and cocoa powder together(sieve cocoa powder if it has lumps).
  6. Fold the flour//cocoa powder into the wet mixture until all is combined.
  7. Divide the mixture equally between the cake tins and spread evenly across the base.
  8. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until the top is springy and a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.
  9. Place the sponge cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Melt the chocolate, either in microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  11. Allow to cool down.
  12. Beat the butter and icing sugar together until all is combined into a creamy mass.
  13. Add the cooled, melted, chocolate and mix in until all is evenly combined.
  14. Turn on sponge cake upside down and spread the buttercream all over the top surface.
  15. Place the other sponge cake on top and press gently to fix to the buttercream.
  16. Sift icing sugar, or cocoa powder, or both, over the top if you wish before serving.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Kanos & Rondos - Dutch Almond Cakes

I have long enjoyed the Almond Fingers that we can buy in the stores in the UK.  They are made in Holland and are simply wonderful. But that got me to thinking about whether they were popular in Holland.  So after some research I discover that Kano (shaped like a canoe) and Rondo shaped as a round cake are very popular.  I found a great recipe on Weekend Bakery to make them.  In fact I also bought my Kano molds from there since I couldn't find them anywhere else at all.  Unfortunately they no longer sell Rondo rings so I had to make to and mend for those.  

Now these cakes are made with two layers of buttery, crumbly pastry with almonds paste sandwiched between them.  The taste is fantastic and is so much better than the flavour of the shop bought ones(though they are still wonderful).  In making the recipe I also took account of the fact that many people would not have access to either the Kano or Rondo rings, so I made a couple in a muffin tin too. That works fine, just that there is slightly larger pastry to almond paste ratio in those.

The recipe is actually very easy to do, and can all be done in a couple of hours, unless, as recommended on Weekend Bakery you wish to make the almond paste the day before, to give it time to ripen.

For mine I actually added some almond extract as I didn't wish to wait 24 hours from making the paste to making the cakes. 

I am so pleased at how mine turned out, though I had done a practice bake a couple of weeks ago which gave me some confidence.

The texture of the cake is great, a rich, buttery pastry and the soft chewy almond paste in the middle.  I am sure than anyone who makes them will not be disappointed.
Kano and Rondo - Dutch Almond Cakes

Kano & Rondo - Dutch Almond Cakes - Video
for the pastry dough
  • 200g Pastry flour(or plain flour)
  • 5g baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g light brown muscovado sugar, or soft white sugar(at a push caster sugar would be fine)
  • 150g cold butter cut into cubes.
For the almond paste and topping: (you can make this in advance, but don't add the egg until the day you intend to use the paste)
  • 75g almonds, chopped or blanced whole almonds
  • 75g caster sugar
  • zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract(optional)
  • water for mixing
  • 10 whole almonds or shaved almonds
  • 1 egg beaten(you wont need all of the egg).
  1. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and place into a food processor(or a large bowl).
  2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture becomes like fine breadcrumbs(or cut the butter into the flour by hand).
  3. Pulse again until the mixture is about to clump together.  
  4. Tip out onto the work surface and use your hands to pull together into a dough(do not overwork).
  5. Divide into to equal parts and wrap in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for an hour.
  6. Grind the almonds and caster sugar and the lemon zest together to get a fine textured crumb(I used my immersion blender).
  7. Tip into a bowl and add the almond extract, if using.
  8. Stir in and add water, one teaspoon at a time, until the mixture begins to form a thick, damp, paste.
  9. Don't make it too wet.  If making the day before wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.
  10. When ready to use the paste place it in a bowl and break it into small pieces.
  11. Add egg a little at a time and mix until the paste is smooth and is of the consistency that can be piped from a bag, but still firm enough to hold its shaped when piped.
  12. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F
  13. Line a baking tray with parchment paper(or get a muffin tin).
  14. Place one disc of pastry dough onto a lightly floured work surface(if the pastry is too hard you can knead very slightly to make it easier to roll).
  15. Roll out to a thickness of 4mm, between 1/8 and 1/4 inch.
  16. Use your kano or rondo rings to cut out 10 shapes.  If using a muffin tin you a cookie cutter to cut out circles of about 9cm(3 1/2 inches).
  17. Place the cut out pastry into the rings, or muffin tin.
  18. Place the almond paste mixture into a piping bag and pipe a blob into the centre of pastry in rondo rings, or a strip on the pastry in the kano rings, or a blob into the well of pastry in muffin tins.
  19. Roll the remaining disc of pastry and cut out 10 shapes again, as before but for muffin tins this time use a 7 cm(3 inch) cutter.
  20. Place the cut out pastry over the piped almond paste and gently press the edges of the pastry down onto the edge of the bottom layer of pastry.  This will leave a dome in the middle where the almond paste is.
  21. Brush all over with beaten egg.
  22. Place an almond on the top and press gently.
  23. Brush all over again with egg.
  24. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the tops have gone a lovely golden brown.
  25. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes and then gently remove from the moulds, onto a cooling rack to cool completely.