Friday, 17 February 2017

Bread Cones

Somebody suggested that I might like to make some bread cones.  I hadn't really thought about it until then, but set about looking to see some.  I watched a few videos and decided that they would be quite simple to make and a novel way to eat lunch.

As ever, with bread, the recipe takes a little time, but not too much effort, if you have a stand mixer.  The result is a very pleasing bread, in the shape of cones that you can fill with sweet or savory fillings of choice.

To create cones I used two sheets of A4 paper, rolled into a cone and then covered with aluminium foil.  I had to make 8 and found it quite easy, once I had the method sorted out.  The important thing was to roll the paper into the foil in such a way that the foil could be tucked into the top to ensure no loose edges.

I was very pleased with how the bread and the cones turned out, so a total success, in my opinion.

Bread Cones

Bread Cones - Video
  • 500g strong white flour( plain flour would be fine)
  • 8g dry active yeast (a 7g sachet is ok, just prove for a little longer)
  • 2 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • 60g butter, just about melted
  • 22g caster sugar
  • 5g salt
  • 220ml lukewarm milk
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • sesame seed for sprinkling over the top
  1. Put a teaspoon of sugar into the milk and then add the dry active yeast and give it a stir.
  2. Leave the mixture to stand for 5 minutes, so the yeast starts to activate and become frothy.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer(you could do this all by hand, but it is more work) place the flour, salt and sugar.
  4. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs and the milk mixture.
  5. Beat, with the dough hook attached, until the mixture is combined.
  6. Add the melted butter and beat for 7 or 8 minutes until you have a soft, smooth and slightly sticky dough.
  7. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and form the dough into a ball.
  8. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover.
  9. Leave to prove for 1 hour, so that it doubles in size.
  10. While the dough is rising make the 8 cones.  Take two sheets of A4 paper and create a cone, starting at almost half way down the long side.
  11. Take a sheet of aluminium foil, slightly larger than the A4 paper.  As per my video, below, roll the cone into the foil and tuck in at the top, so you still have the cone shape, now covered.
  12. After 1 hour turn the dough out and knock back, to release the air.
  13. Cut into 8 roughly equal pieces and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
  14. Roll each piece into a length of about 30 inches.
  15. Then roll each length around the outside of a cone, pressing the end of the dough into the rest to keep it in place.
  16. Place the cones, with the pressed end downwards, onto a baking tray.  I got 4 on each tray.
  17. Leave to rest for 20 minutes, covered with a tea towel, while you preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F
  18. Brush each bread cone with beaten egg and sprinkle sesame seeds(or anything you like).
  19. Bake in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes until they are a nice shiny, golden colour.
  20. Remove from the oven and withdraw the cones from the middles and place the bread cones on a wire rack to cool completely.
  21. Fill with whatever filling you choose.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Almond & Coconut Cake

I am an avid viewer of very many Youtube channels, amongst them is Home Cooking Adventure and I saw a recipe on there for this recipe.  An Almond cake with a wonderful coconut and mascarpone cheese with double cream, white chocolate and coconut.  I then did a search for similar recipes and found quite a few of them.  But I came back to the one on Home Cooking Adventures as it looked so good.  

I made a couple of changes to the recipe, such as not using coconut milk to spread on the layers, rather I decided to spread a little raspberry jam, as I thought it would give just a hint of sharpness to a sweet cake.

I also didn't use any coconut extract, but that was simply because I found it impossible to find such a thing, at least in my local supermarkets.

My cake turned out very well, nice and light and it rose well.  

The important thing was to make sure that the cake was cooled completely before trying to cut it into three layers.

The frosting is very rich indeed, but it is very tasty.  In fact the entire cake is, at least to my mind, a triumph.  So I am very pleased indeed.

It does take a while to make, as there are many steps, but all the effort is worth it, as you will find out if you try it yourselves.

Almond & Coconut Cake

Almond & Coconut Cake - Video

For the cake:
  • 6 medium(large in USA) eggs, room temperature, separated in to yolks and whites)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200g sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 tsp (5g) almond extract
For the frosting:
  • 200g white chocolate
  • 45g canned coconut milk
  • 250g Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 500g double creaam
  • 30g powdered sugar
  • 40g unsweetened dessicated coconut
For assembly and topping:
  • 2 tbsp of raspberry jam( I used seedless)
  • chopped almonds - to sprinkle of top (optional)
  • dessicated to cover the frosting.
  • Rafaello white chocolate truffles (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 170C/150C Fan/340F Grease and line bottom and sides of a 9 inch (23cm) pan with parchment paper. 
  2. Separate egg whites from yolks. Add a pinch of salt over the whites and start mixing until foamy. 
  3. Gradually add sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. 
  4. In a small bowl mix egg yolks with almond extract and fold them into the whipped whites. 
  5. Mix the ground almonds and the flour together and gradually(in three parts) fold into the egg mixture.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. 
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes until lightly golden. 
  8. Rmove from the oven and let it cool for about 10-15 minutes. 
  9. Remove from pan and cool completely on a rack. 
  10. Meanwhile prepare the frosting. Place chocolate and coconut milk in a heatproof bowl and let it melt over a pan with simmering water.  Then allow to cool but not enough to set.
  11. In a large bowl mix Mascarpone cheese until smooth. Add melted chocolate and mix until combined. 
  12. In another large bowl whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Incorporate powdered sugar and dessicated coconut during mixting.
  13. Gradually incorporate whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture. 
  14. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. 
  15. Divide the sponge cake in 3 layers. Place one cake layer on your serving plate. 
  16. Spread half of the jam over the cake layer, leaving a gap all around the edge.
  17. Spread evenly with a bit less than a third of frosting. 
  18. Repeat, with the second layer of cake. 
  19. Add the third layer of cake and spread the remaining frosting on top and sides of the cake.
  20. Sprinkle dessicated coconut on the top and sides of the cake and refrigerate until ready to serve. 
  21. Decorate as desired, I’ve used Raffaello truffles, and chopped almonds.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Garlic & Thyme Bread

I have an Aerogarden hyrdoponic garden and am growing salad leaves and some herbs in it.  One of the herbs is Thyme which is flourishing so I needed to find a recipe to use some of the leaves.  I came across this recipe for Garlic and Thyme Bread on Goodfood and it is very simple to make.  I have already made it once, so I know that it turns out well and tastes great.

I have varied the recipe slightly, in the amount of thyme used.  The recipe on Goodfood says a 'bunch' of thyme.  I think time has a very strong flavour and 'bunch' is a rather imprecise measure.  So I chopped enough leaves to make a tablespoon full.  That was easily enough to impart a great flavour into the bread.  But, of course, using more would be fine for those wanting a stronger flavour.

The recipe can be done entirely by hand, which is probably best as this is only a small loaf, and doesn't take too much time, apart from the 2 hours of resting/proving time.

The result is a very pleasing bread that is ideal, buttered, with soup.  It would also work well made into rolls I am sure, but I stuck with the loaf format.
Garlic & Thyme Bread
Garlic & Thyme Bread Video
  • 250 g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 150 ml warm water
  • 1 tsp (4 grams)dry active yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch thyme, chopped ( chopped mine and used 1 tbsp)
  1. Put the flour into a mixing bowl and mix in the salt, then make a well in the centre. 
  2. Dissolve the dried yeast in the warm water and add the sugar and leave for 5 minutes. 
  3. Pour the water and yeast into the well,
  4. With a wooden spoon, start mixing the flour with the yeasted water, gathering the flour in from the sides, working outwards and make a firm dough. 
  5. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 8 minutes. 
  6. Flatten the dough into a circle and add the chopped garlic and thyme. 
  7. Fold the dough over and then knead for a further 2 minutes until the garlic and thyme are mixed through. 
  8. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. 
  9. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/gas 7/430F, and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  10. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes and shape into an oval loaf. 
  11. Make 2.5cm slashes in the dough with a very sharp knife and leave to stand for 10 minutes. 
  12. Dust with flour and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes. The bread is ready when you knock the bottom and it sounds hollow.
  13. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Chocolate Marshmallow Teacakes.

Chocolate Marshmallow Teacakes are a firm favourite in the UK.  They are readily available in all supermarkets.  Basically a chocolate marshmallow teacake  is a shortbread type biscuit with a dome of a marshmallow type meringue and then covered in chocolate, either dark or milk.  The usual size is big enough for two or three bites.  For mine they will be larger, as I am using a recipe from BBC Food.  This calls for silicone moulds 3 inches in diameter, but the only one I could find was 2.5 inches in diameter, so I had to adapt things a little.

I did make them the other day as a trial and they turned out well, but the process turned rather messy.  So for the video I changed things slightly.  One thing was that the biscuits may shrink in baking, so making a biscuit the same diameter as the moulds may mean they will be slightly too small  In today's effort I actually cut out biscuits that were 3 inches in diameter, and then halfway through baking them I took them out and used a 2.5 cookie cutter to reduce the size.  That worked well, so I had exactly the right size.

The other change I made was that instead of putting the biscuits in the melted chocolate and coating them all over I actually placed them on a wire rack and coated the top and sides and let them harden, then I turned them over and spread melted chocolate on the bottoms.  That worked well too, and was less messy than previously.

The eventual outcome was very pleasing, with the sweetness of the marshmallow, the texture of the biscuit and the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate all working together to give a wonderful treat.
Chocolate Marshmallow Teacakes

Chocolate Marshmallow Teacakes - Video
  • 400g/14oz dark chocolate with around 40% cocoa solids
  • 50g/1¾oz wholemeal flour
  • 50g/1¾oz plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 25g/1oz caster sugar
  • 25g/1oz butter
  • 2 tbsp milk
For the marshmallow:
  • 3 free-range eggs, whites only
  • 150g/5½oz caster sugar
  • 6 tsp golden syrup
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ vanilla pod, seeds only
  1. Melt 300g/10½oz of the dark chocolate in a bowl set over a simmering pan of water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Melting the chocolate over a soft heat stops the chocolate from discolouring later on. 
  2. Leave aside to cool slightly - you can’t line the moulds if the chocolate is too runny.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.
  4. To make the biscuits, put the flours, salt, baking powder and caster sugar into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips. 
  5. Add the milk, 1 tbsp at a time and stir everything together to form a smooth ball. (you may not need the 2nd tablespoon of milk).
  6. On a floured surface roll out the dough to about 5mm/¼in thick. 
  7. Cut out six rounds with a 7.5cm/3in straight sided round cutter.
  8. Place the rounds on a flat plate or board and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  9. Make sure the biscuits are perfectly round and well chilled, otherwise they might spread or shrink when baked.
  10. Bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes. They do need to be hard, not soft as they form the base of the teacake. If your moulds are smaller than 3 inches then half way thru baking cut the biscuits down to size using a smaller cookie cutter.
  11. Remove the biscuits from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
  12. Coat the inside of the moulds with the melted chocolate. The thickness of the chocolate should be enough to make them sturdy but not too thick. This is best done with a spoon, using the back to run the chocolate around the moulds. If the chocolate is too runny it will mean that the top of the dome is too thick and the side too thin.
  13. Set aside to set. Do not put the domes in the fridge as the chocolate will lose its shine.
  14. Meanwhile dip the cooled biscuits in the remaining melted chocolate, covering them completely (you may need to melt more chocolate). You can either dip the biscuits in the chocolate or spread the chocolate onto the biscuits with a palette knife. Place the coated biscuits onto parchment paper.
  15. For the marshmallow, place all of the ingredients in a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water), and whisk with an electric hand whisk for 6-8 minutes, making sure it is smooth, silky and doubled in volume. Make sure it is very stiff, the consistency of whipped cream, so it will hold when piped - you don’t want it runny.
  16. Spoon the marshmallow mixture into a piping bag.
  17. Melt the remaining chocolate, and place into a disposable piping bag with a sealed end. Set aside to cool and stiffen up a bit, but not harden.
  18. Peel the biscuits off the parchment and place them onto clean parchment, flat side down.
  19. Pipe the marshmallow into each chocolate-lined mould just up to the top.
  20. Snip a 2cm/¾in end off the piping bag with the chocolate in it.
  21. Carefully pipe some chocolate on the marshmallow and a rim of chocolate around the biscuit base and swiftly place the biscuit on top of the marshmallow filled dome. Smooth the join with a knife.
  22. Leave the teacakes to set until completely cool and sealed together.
  23. Very carefully remove the completed teacakes from the mould – be careful of fingerprints on the glossy dome.
  24. Place on a plate and keep cool – but do not refrigerate, to make sure the chocolate keeps its glossy shine.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Mini Carrot Cakes

I love carrot cake, as it is moist, sweet and with a taste of cinnamon too.  I came across a recipe on Tesco Realfood for a mini version, and only 6 of them which is ideal for me, but doubling up the recipe would make 12 for those who need more.

The recipe is very easy and uses margarine, though oil could be substituted I think. In fact I used low fat spread instead of margarine and it worked very well.  

The recipe also uses sultanas but any dried fruit would be a reasonable substitute for those who are not keen on sultanas.

Everything is easily mixed together, so these take very little time to make and only 20 minutes to bake.  So in less than an hour you can be eating them fresh from the oven.

You could also top them with some frosting, buttercream or cream cheese frosting, for instance, but I like them just as they are.
Mini Carrot Cakes
Mini Carrot Cakes - Video
  • 125g (4oz) carrots
  • 100g (3½oz) sugar
  • 75g (3oz) margarine
  • 100g (3½oz) plain flour
  • 5ml (½ fl oz) cinnamon
  • 5ml (½ fl oz) baking powder
  • 1 large egg(xl in USA)
  • 60g (2oz) sultanas
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180F/400F
  2. Line a 6 hole muffin tin with paper cases
  3. Peel and grate the carrots into a bowl.
  4. Add the sugar and margarine and mix all the ingredients together. 
  5. Sift the flour into the bowl, along with the baking powder and the cinnamon.
  6. Crack the egg into a bowl and beat it before adding it to the cake mixture.
  7. Add the sultanas and stir again. 
  8. Divide the mixture equally between the cupcake cases using two metal spoons. 
  9. Place the carrot cakes into the oven to bake for 15 to 20 minutes until they’re golden and piping hot throughout, a skewer poked into the middle should come out clean, and when pressed on top the cakes spring back  (mine took 20 minutes).
  10. Remove from the oven and from the muffin tin, onto a wire rack to cool.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Owl Butter Cookies

I found a lovely recipe on etsy blog bt Heather Baird.  She used this a little gifts for people to take away after Thanksgiving dinner.  They looked so cute and I thought they would be something that children would enjoy helping to make.  I decided that I would give them a try too.

They are a simple butter cookie but decorated to look like owls.  So really the recipe itself is quite simple and it just takes a while to cut out and make the owl face.

I copied the recipe precisely, except that I converted to metric weights as that is how I preferred to work.

Mine turned out quite well, if not as professional looking as those done in the original recipe.  They also taste wonderful, so are well worth trying.
Owl Butter Cookies

Owl Butter Cookies - Video

  • 227g softened butter(I used slightly salted but if not add a pinch of salt to the flour)
  • 225g granulated sugar
  • 385g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 medium egg(large in USA)
  • 30 blanched almonds quartered length ways(or 120 slivered almonds)
  • 20 whole almonds with skins on
  • 40 dark chocolate chips
  • cocoa powder for dusting the wings.
  1. In a stand mixer cream the butter and sugar until combined(dont over mix)
  2. Add the egg, vanilla extract and almond extract and mix until combined.
  3. Add the flour(with salt if using) and mix on slow until it clumps together.
  4. Remove from the mixer, onto parchment paper.
  5. Remove about 150 grams of the dough and set aside.
  6. Shape the remaining dough into an oblong and place more parchment paper on top.
  7. Roll out into an oblong and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
  8. Meanwhile roll the remaining set aside dough into 40 small balls, this is for the owl eyes.
  9. Refrigerate the balls too.
  10. After an hour roll the main dough again, to make it just a bit more than 1/4 inch thick.
  11. Cut out the cookies, using a 3 inch diameter cookie cutter and transfer carefully to a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  12. One each cookie place two balls close together to be the eyes.
  13. Press a chocolate chip, pointed side down, into each ball.
  14. Place a whole almond  just below the eyes to make a beak.
  15. Using the cookie cutter again gently make a wing on each side of the cookie(don't cut all the way through the dough).
  16. Use a blunt edge to press line in a criss cross pattern in each of the wings.
  17. Using a small pastry brush dust some cocoa powder onto the wings to give definition.
  18. Use 6 slivered almonds in groups of three to make the owl feet.
  19. Refrigerate the cookies for a further 30 minutes, to help prevent them from spreading.
  20. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
  21. Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes, until the slivered almonds are beginning to go a golden colour.
  22. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cook on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Rosette/Kaiser Bread Rolls

Today I decided to make some bread rolls.  I have bought a few items from an Italian company, including a cutter with a rosette pattern, similar to a Kaiser Roll cutter.  So, having eaten Kaiser rolls for years when I was in Prague I decided to make those, albeit with my rosette cutter.  I also decided that I should make some manually, knotting the dough, so that people can see how to do that too if they watch the video.

This roll is fairly basic, as far as ingredients are concerned, with most recipes only varying slightly.  I used strong white flour, though most recipes call for plain flour/all purpose flour.  Either is fine, the strong white just has slightly more gluten.

Having made the dough it was just a question of rolling into balls and using the cutter to make the pattern.  Then with a couple of the balls rolling them into sausages and knotting them to make the kaiser roll shape.

I topped mine with sesame seeds, though they can be left plain or have any number of things, such as salt or poppy seeds added.
Kaiser(left) and Rosette Rolls

Kaiser and Rosette Rolls - Video
  • 500g strong white flour(plain is fine)
  • 300ml water, warm but not hot
  • 30g softened butter
  • 20g sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 7g fast action dried yeast
  • beaten egg for a wash
  • sesame seeds for sprinkling
  1. Place the water, half the sugar and the yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer(doing all by hand is fine, but harder work) and leave to activate for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the butter, remaining sugar and 300g flour.
  3. Using the dough hook mix the ingredients together until combined.
  4. Mix the salt with the remaining flour and add most of it to the bowl.
  5. Mix again on medium until the dough becomes smooth and slightly tacky.
  6. Only add more flour to achieve that texture.  When the dough comes away from the bowl and is smooth it should be ready.
  7. Remove the dough and form into a ball.
  8. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, ensuring that the dough is turned to coat in the oil.
  9. Cover and allow to prove until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  10. Remove the dough from the bowl and knock back to remove the air.
  11. Cut into 8 equal pieces.
  12. Roll each piece into a bowl.
  13. If using a cutter, Kaiser or Rosetter, press it down on each ball, almost all the way through, but not quite.
  14. Place each roll, pattern side down, on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  15. If doing manually roll each ball into a sausage of about 12 inches/25cm and tie into a loose know, with two loose ends.  
  16. Take the end that is under the knot and pull up and over, poking it into the middle of the knot.
  17. Take the end that is on top of the knot and push underneath, poking it into the middle of the knot.
  18. Place the manual Kaiser rolls onto the baking tray.
  19. Cover with a tea towel, or plastic wrap, and allow to rise again, until doubled in size.
  20. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F.
  21. If using the roll cutter turn the rolls pattern side up.
  22. Whether using cutter or manual, brush the rolls with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  23. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the rolls are a nice golden colour.
  24. Test that the rolls are done by tapping the underside and you should hear a hollow sound.
  25. Place on a wire rack to cool.