Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Crusty Cob Loaf

To go with yesterday's Cauliflower Soup I decided on Paul Hollywood's recipe, on BBC Food website.  This is a white loaf with a hard crust on the outside.  

I watched a video of Paul making the loaf and read the recipe. It didn't give any indication that this would work well in a stand mixer, so I decided to do it all by hand.  I haven't tried to make bread by hand for about 35 years, but was pleasantly surprised at quite how easy it was.

My dough though, after leaving to prove did not seem quite a sticky as Paul's, in his video.  That may be because I didn't use all the water in the recipe. It does say that you may not need to use all the water, and I decided that I didn't.  However I am not sure if the loaf would have risen more if it was a little stickier.  Whatever, though, having cooked it I can say that is it very crusty on the outside and sounds hollow when tapped on the underside.  So all should be cooked properly. 

It will certainly be a nice accompaniment to the soup.  There is nothing quite like freshly baked bread and this will be eaten within 90 minutes of coming out of the oven. 

Crusty Cob Loaf
  • 500g/1lb 1oz strong white bread flour, plus a little extra flour for finishing
  • 40g/1½oz soft butter
  • 12g/2 sachets fast-action dried yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • about 300ml/10¾fl oz tepid water (warm not cold – about body temperature)
  • a little olive or sunflower oil
  1. Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the butter. Add the yeast at one side of the bowl and add the salt at the other, otherwise the salt will kill the yeast. Stir all the ingredients with a spoon to combine.
  2. Add half of the water and turn the mixture round with your fingers. Continue to add water a little at a time, combining well, until you’ve picked up all of the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all of the water, or you may need to add a little more – you want a dough that is well combined and soft, but not sticky or soggy. Mix with your fingers to make sure all of the ingredients are combined and use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl. Keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
  3. Use about a teaspoon of oil to lightly grease a clean work surface (using oil instead of flour will keep the texture of the dough consistent). Turn out your dough onto the greased work surface (make sure you have plenty of space).
  4. Fold the far edge of the dough into the middle of the dough, then turn the dough by 45 degrees and repeat. Do this several times until the dough is very lightly coated all over in olive oil.
  5. Now use your hands to knead the dough: push the dough out in one direction with the heel of your hand, then fold it back on itself. Turn the dough by 90 degrees and repeat. Kneading in this way stretches the gluten and makes the dough elastic. Do this for about 4 or 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Work quickly so that the mixture doesn’t stick to your hands – if it does get too sticky you can add a little flour to your hands.
  6. Clean and lightly oil your mixing bowl and put the dough back into it. Cover with a damp tea towel or lightly oiled cling film and set it aside to prove. This gives the yeast time to work: the dough should double in size. This should take around one hour, but will vary depending on the temperature of your room (don’t put the bowl in a hot place or the yeast will work too quickly).
  7. Line a baking tray with baking or silicone paper (not greaseproof).
  8. Once the dough has doubled in size scrape it out of the bowl to shape it. The texture should be bouncy and shiny. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back by kneading it firmly to 'knock' out the air. Use your hand to roll the dough up, then turn by 45 degrees and roll it up again. Repeat several times. Gently turn and smooth the dough into a round loaf shape.
  9. Place the loaf onto the lined baking tray, cover with a tea towel or lightly oiled cling film and leave to prove until it’s doubled in size. This will take about an hour, but may be quicker or slower depending on how warm your kitchen is.
  10. Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan assisted)/425F/Gas 7. Put an old, empty roasting tin into the bottom of the oven.
  11. After an hour the loaf should have proved (risen again). Sprinkle some flour on top and very gently rub it in. Use a large, sharp knife to make shallow cuts (about 1cm/½in deep) across the top of the loaf to create a diamond pattern.
  12. Put the loaf (on its baking tray) into the middle of the oven. Pour cold water into the empty roasting tray at the bottom of the oven just before you shut the door – this creates steam which helps the loaf develop a crisp and shiny crust.
  13. Bake the loaf for about 30 minutes.
  14. The loaf is cooked when it’s risen and golden. To check, take it out of the oven and tap it gently underneath – it should sound hollow. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Cauiflower Soup

After the rather lovely fruit cake I am taking a break from baking, until tomorrow.  Instead I have decided to make one of my favourite soups.  This is entirely my recipe, no cribbing from anyone else.  Therefore, as you might imagine, it is a very simple recipe but tastes delicious.

You do need a food processor, or blender, or somesuch means of blending the cooked ingredients into a nice, thick, smooth soup.

Of course, others may wish to cream the soup, by the addition of some cream, or creme fraiche.  But for me that is not necessary.  This, therefore, is a tasty soup, but also a very healthy option, for those who may be watching their weight.

Just a word on the cauliflower I used.  I use frozen cauliflower florets, they seem to be cheaper than fresh ones, and also you dont need to do any chopping, just tip the contents into the saucepan.

My photo is devoid of any garnish, as I forgot to buy some parsley when I was in town this morning.  Apologies, of the profusest kind, for such omission.  If I were any good at photoshop I would have added some artificially. 

The addition of some croutons, when serving will work very well.  But intend to make a crusty white loaf of bread, tomorrow morning, to accompany the soup, which will be served for lunch.

The recipe makes about 8 decent sized servings.

Cauliflower Soup
  • 2 kg of cauliflower florets, (frozen works fine)
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1.5 litres of water (you may wish to add more liquid as you blend)
  • 2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes
  • 1 tbsp Worcesteshire Sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Chop the cauliflower into large florets(unless using frozen when it will already be done)
  2. Chop the onions fairly finely
  3. chop, or mince the garlic
  4. Add the stock cubes to a saucepan that has the water boiling
  5. Add the cauliflower, onion, garlic, worcestershire sauce to the water, and bring back to the boil.
  6. Allow it to boil, fairly gently, for about 30 minutes.  
  7. Add salt and pepper to your own taste.
  8. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool down 
  9. Blend the mixture(you can do this with a hand wand blender if you wish).  
  10. Set aside until you wish to serve it, when you will need to reheat to the desired temperature.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Chocolate Fruit Cake

This recipe, for a Chocolate Fruit Cake, is from Nigella's website.  According to Nigella's description it is squidgy, which please me, since I was rather worried that my attempt at it was not going to turn out quite right.

The most complicated thing about the recipe is following the instructions to double line the cake tin, and then to cover the outside of the tin too.  No explanation is given as to why the outside needs covering too.

Now I found a video of Nigella making this as a Christmas cake, and she didn't seem to paper the outside.  Nor did she double layer the insides, though she did use a thicker, re-usable liner so that may account for it.

She also made a comment, when dressing the cake, with some coated coffee beans, that they would hide any dip in the centre of the cake.  That was a relief to me, as mine had sunk somewhat too.

One further comment, on the recipe, it calls for prunes, and has no further comment.  However I decided that the prunes were rather too large to be used whole, so I chopped them into quarters before adding them to the saucepan.  When I watched the Nigella video I see that she too chopped the prunes, probably into smaller pieces than I had.  So I have adjusted her recipe, as shown below, to add the word 'chopped'.

I cannot attest to the taste of the cake, yet, as it is still cooling.  I want family to taste it first, as I don't like anything that has a taste of coffee.  Once assured that the Tia Maria used doesn't mean the cake is strongly flavoured with coffee I will try it too.

Also I should say that this will not be a strongly chocolate flavoured cake, there is only 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder in it, and a lot of fruit. So expect a slightly chocolate, fruity and spicy flavour.

This is a large cake, so it will provide a lot of servings.  But there is no worry that it will dry out, or go stale,  provided that it is stored in an airtight container.

Below I show a photo of the cake, just out of the tin.  I have now tasted the cake and it is extremely rich and very moist.  A truly indulgent cake.  Idiot that I am I forgot to take a photo when the first slice was taken, and now it is too late, as it has been delivered to family, for rapid devouring.

Chocolate Fruit Cake
  • 350 grams prunes, chopped
  • 250 grams raisins
  • 125 grams currants
  • 50 grams piece candied orange peel
  • 175 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 175 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 175 ml runny honey
  • 125 ml tia maria or other coffee liqueur
  • 2 - 3 oranges (juice and zest)
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 3 large eggs (beaten)
  • 150 grams plain flour
  • 75 grams ground almonds
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 2/150°C/300°F. Line the sides and bottom of a 20cm / 8-inch round, 9cm / 3½ inch deep, loose-bottomed cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment. Before proceeding any further, read the following which explains how to do it if you need the encouragement. The paper should come up higher than the sides of the tin; think of a lining that’s twice as deep as the tin. Cut out two circles of paper, and two very long rectangles that will fit along the sides of the tin coming up from it like a top hat. Before you put the rectangular cut-out paper in, fold one long side in of both pieces, as if turning up a hem of about 2cm / 1 inch, and then take some scissors and snip into this hem, at intervals of about 2cm / 1 inch – as if you were making a rough frill. Grease the tin, lay one circle on the bottom and get one of your long pieces, then fit with the frilly edge along the bottom, which you press down to sit flat on the circle to hold it in place. Press the paper well into the sides, and repeat with the second piece. Now place the second circle of paper on the bottom of the tin, but on top of the two pressed-down frilly edges, which will also help to hold the pieces around the edge in place. Finally, wrap the tin with brown parcel paper, again making it higher than the sides, and tie it in place with kitchen twine.
  2. Put the fruit, butter, sugar, runny honey, Tia Maria, orange juice and zests, spice and cocoa into a large wide saucepan and bring to the boil gently, stirring as the butter melts. Simmer for 10 minutes, and then take off the heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes.
  3. After the 30 minutes are up, it will have cooled a little (though you could leave it for longer if you wanted). Add the beaten eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula, however you like, to combine.
  4. Pour the fruit cake mixture into the prepared cake tin. Place in the oven and bake for 1¾–2 hours, by which time the top of the cake should be firm but will have a shiny and sticky look. If you insert a cake tester into the centre of the cake it will still be a little gooey in the middle.
  5. Put the cake on a cooling rack. It will hold its heat and take a while to cool, but once it has, unmould it from the tin and, if you don’t want to eat it immediately (and like any fruit cake it has a very long life), wrap it in baking parchment and then in foil and place in a tin.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Bacon and Onion Roly Poly

I love suet based puddings and savouries.  This particular one is a roly poly, rather than a pudding.  Usually, or at least more often, suet items are steamed or cooked in a muslin cloth and boiled.  However for this particular item I really didn't want it to be too stodgy, so I decided to bake it entirely in the oven.

In advance of cutting it open it seems to have baked quite well, and I have seen recipes that do say to bake it, so all should be ok.   Certainly the smell that is filling the room as the roly poly cools is very intoxicating, in a non-alcoholic way.

I will post a photo of the inside, once it has been cut open, but that won't be until tomorrow.

Update:  I have now tasted it and I must say it is very nice indeed.  I have also posted a photo so that the inside can be seen.
Bacon and Onion Roly Poly
Bacon and Onion Roly Poly, open
  • 225 grams self raising flour
  • 110 grams of suet
  • 10 rashers of bacon(either smoked or unsmoked), trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • water in a jug
  • 1 stock cube/oxo cube
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • milk or egg white to glaze.
  1. Heat the oven to 200c/180c fan/400f/gas mark 6
  2. Cut the bacon into pieces, about an inch square(doesn't have to be too precise, larger or smaller, is fine. 
  3. Gently fry the bacon, just enough to allow any excess liquid out.  Then drain the bacon on paper towel.
  4. In a bowl mix the flour and suet together and gradually add some water.  A tablespoon or two at the start, and then just one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms a dough.
  5. Flour the work surface and rolling pin
  6. Roll out the dough in an oblong, until it is about 1/4 inch thick.
  7. Sprinkle the bacon over the rolled out dough, making sure to leave about 2 inches around the edges free.
  8. Cover the bacon with the chopped onion and then sprinkle the cube over it too.
  9. Using a pastry brush now brush the edges
  10. Starting at the short side of the dough gently roll it up, encasing the bacon and onion, until it is completely rolled.  Press the sides to seal the dough and then transfer to greased and floured baking tray, ensuring that the sealed edge along the length of the roll is on the bottom.
  11. Brush the roll with milk or egg
  12. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes to one hour, until the top is a nice golden brown.
  13. Remove from oven and allow to cool a little before slicing.

Eccles Cakes

A fruit filled, slightly spicy flaky pastry confection is always welcome.  So with Eccles Cakes we have something that really hits the mark, so to speak. Thought to have originated in the town of Eccles, in Lancashire, these cakes are a sweet and fruity delight.  Using a recipe from BBC Good Food, which I have found to be a very good place to search for tried and tested ones, I set about making the cakes..  

Having followed the recipe, and managed to get 10 equal sized cakes I have decided that they are actually a little too large.  So if I make them again I will certainly use a small pastry ring to cut out the circles, and then less filling inside.  I guess the mixture could make about 14 decent sized cakes quite easily.   I don't think the cooking time would need adjustment, it is just worth keeping an eye on them as they bake.

Eccles Cakes

For the pastry
  • 250g block cold butter
  • 350g plain flour
  • juice ½ lemon
  • 100ml iced water
For the filling
  • 25g butter
  • 200g currants
  • 50g mixed chopped peel
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger and ground allspice
  • zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange, plus a few tbsp of orange juice
To glaze
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp preserving sugar, or granulated sugar if you don't have preserving sugar
  • To make the pastry, dice the butter and put it in the freezer to go really hard. Tip flour into the bowl of a food processor with half the butter and pulse to the texture of breadcrumbs. Pour in the lemon juice and 100ml iced water, and pulse to a dough. Tip in the rest of the butter and pulse a few times until the dough is heavily flecked with butter. It is important that you don’t overdo this as the flecks of butter are what makes the pastry flaky.
  • On a floured surface roll the pastry out to a neat rectangle about 20 x 30cm. Fold the two ends of the pastry into the middle , then fold in half . Roll the pastry out again and refold the same way 3 more times resting the pastry for at least 15 mins each time between roll and fold, then leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 mins before using.
  • To make the filling, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Take it off the heat and stir in all the other ingredients until completely mixed, then set aside.
  • To make the cakes, roll the pastry out until it’s just a little thicker than a £1 coin and cut out rounds about 12cm across. Re-roll the trimming if needed. Place a good heaped tablespoon of mixture in the middle of each round(I drained the mixture to eliminate what I considered to be an excess of liquid), brush the edges of the rounds with water, then gather the pastry around the filling and squeeze it together . Flip them over so the smooth top is upwards and pat them into a smooth round. Flatten each round with a rolling pin to an oval until the fruit just starts to poke through, then place on a baking tray. Cut 2 little slits in each Eccles cakes, brush generously with egg white and sprinkle with the sugar .
  • Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 8. Bake the Eccles cakes for 15-20 mins until just past golden brown and sticky. Leave to cool on a rack and enjoy while still warm or cold with a cup of tea. If you prefer, Eccles cakes also go really well served with a wedge of hard, tangy British cheese such as Lancashire or cheddar.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Kouign Amann

Kouign Amann, pronounced something like Queen Amarn,  is a pastry that I had never heard of, until it appeared as a challenge on The Great British Bake-Off.  So I had to investigate, and found that it is similar in texture to a croissant.  The recipe I followed is from Paul Hollywood, on BBC Food website.  It is quite a convoluted recipe, but quite easy to follow.

I have since found other recipes that do things a little differently from this one, for instance using soft butter and mixing sugar with it, before forming into a pat and refrigerating.  Some French versions seem to have a large, round confection, rather than the individual ones here.

But, having taken mine out of the oven they certainly look fine on the outside.  I hope they are flaky inside too.  Take note of the recipe instruction about covering with silver foil if the colour seems to be getting too much.  You can see from mine that some extremities are rather too dark, but I am sure they will taste just fine.

I also think other recipes are more liberal with the sugar than I was. But having now tasted mine I must say they are simply wonderful.  The family enjoyed them very much too, in fact there is no chance of them going stale, as there are only 3, of the 12 originally made, left now.
Kouign Amann

  • 300g/10½oz strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 5g fast-action yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 200ml/7fl oz warm water
  • 25g/1oz unsalted butter, melted
  • 250g/9oz cold unsalted butter, in a block
  • 100g/3½oz caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  1. Put the flour into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Add the water and melted butter and mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes.
  2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Put into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for one hour.
  3. Sandwich the butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper and bash with a rolling pin, then roll out to a 14cm/5½in square. Place in the fridge to keep chilled.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 20cm/8in square. Place the butter in the centre of the dough diagonally, so that each side of butter faces a corner of the dough. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to enclose like an envelope.
  5. Roll the dough into a 45x15cm/18x6in rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough up over the middle, then fold the top third of the dough over. You will now have a sandwich of three layers of butter and three layers of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This completes one turn.
  6. Repeat this process twice more, so you have completed a total of three turns, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between turns.
  7. Roll the dough into a rectangle as before. Sprinkle the dough with the caster sugar and fold into thirds again. Working quickly, roll the dough into a large 40x30cm/16x12in rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with caster sugar and cut the dough into 12 squares.
  8. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin well with oil. Gather the dough squares up by their four corners and place in the muffin tins, pulling the four corners towards the centre of the muffin tin, so that it gathers up like a four-leaf clover. Sprinkle with caster sugar and leave to rise, covered with a clean tea towel, for 30 minutes until slightly puffed up.
  9. Preheat oven to 220C/200C(fan)/425F/Gas 7. Bake the pastries for 30-40 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil halfway through if beginning to brown too much. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Be careful not to burn yourself on the caramelised sugar, but don’t leave them to cool for too long, or the caramelised sugar will harden and they will be stuck in the tin.
  10. Serve warm or cold.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie is an old favourite in the UK.  Often these days those that are available in supermarkets don't really have the meringue as it should be.  So a home-baked one is always likely to be preferable.  

The recipe I used, from BBC Good Food  calls it Ultimate Lemon Meringue Pie.  Until I actually taste it I will hold fire on giving it the 'ultimate' epithet.

Now I did have a bit of a disaster with my pastry for this pie.  It is a very,very short pastry and I blind baked it for the requisite 15 minutes.  But in attempting to remove the ceramic beans and the paper( I used parchment instead of silver foil) I dragged the paper, breaking up the pastry and making a complete mess.  Would I let that thwart me?  Indeed I would not!  I dumped the offending creation and started again.  For the second time I used silver foil, as prescribed by the recipe and it was fine.

As for the filling and the meringue, no disasters there.  The filling looks rather like a lemon curd in texture and, warm, it spread over the pastry case just fine.  I almost ran out of meringue for the middle, having to take some from the edge to make it completely covered.

As you can see from the photo below the meringue looks fine.  I will post a photo of a slice of the pie, once it as been cut open. But first I have to wait for it to cool down.
Lemon Meringue Pie - cooling down before coming out of tin
Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Meringue Slice

For the pastry

  • 175g plain flour
  • 100g cold butter, cut in small pieces
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
For the filling
  • 2 level tbsp cornflour
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • finely grated zest 2 large lemon
  • 125ml fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
  • juice 1 small orange
  • 85g butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 egg yolks and a 1 whole egg
For the meringue
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 2 level tsp cornflour

Preparation method

  1. For the pastry, put the flour, butter, icing sugar, egg yolk (save the white for the meringue) and 1 tbsp cold water into a food processor. Using the pulse button so the mix is not overworked, process until the mix starts to bind. Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface, gather together until smooth, then roll out and line a 23 x 2.5cm loose-bottom fluted flan tin. Trim and neaten the edges. Press pastry into flutes. The pastry is quite rich, so don’t worry if it cracks, just press it back together. Prick the base with a fork, line with foil, shiny side down, and chill for 1⁄2-1 hour (or overnight).
  2. Put a baking sheet in the oven and heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Bake the pastry case ‘blind’ (filled with dry beans) for 15 mins, then remove the foil and bake a further 5-8 mins until the pastry is pale golden and cooked. Set aside. (Can be done a day ahead if you want to get ahead.) Lower the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
  3. While the pastry bakes, prepare the filling: mix the cornflour, sugar and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Strain and stir in the lemon juice gradually. Make orange juice up to 200ml/7fl oz with water and strain into the pan. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. Once the mixture bubbles, remove from the heat and beat in the butter until melted. Beat the egg yolks (save white for meringue) and whole egg together, stir into the pan and return to a medium heat. Keep stirring vigorously for a few minutes, until the mixture thickens and plops from the spoon. (It will bubble, but doesn’t curdle.) Take off the heat and set aside while you make the meringue.
  4. Put the egg whites in a large bowl. Whisk to soft peaks, then add half the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking between each addition without overbeating. Whisk in the cornflour, then add the rest of the sugar as before until smooth and thick. Quickly reheat the filling and pour it into the pastry case. Immediately put spoonfuls of meringue around the edge of the filling (if you start in the middle the meringue may sink), then spread so it just touches the pastry (this will anchor it and help stop it sliding). Pile the rest into the centre, spreading so it touches the surface of the hot filling (and starts to cook), then give it all a swirl. Return to the oven for 18-20 mins until the meringue is crisp and slightly coloured. Let the pie sit in the tin for 30 mins, then remove and leave for at least another 1⁄2-1 hr before slicing. Eat the same day.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Mississippi Mud Pie

I have researched, on the internet, a number of different recipes for Mississippi Mud Pie and found it difficult to decide which was the really authentic one.  However it seems that there are two main variants. One has a biscuit base and then filling and topping. The other variant seems to have no biscuit base, and majors heavily on marshmellow to go between the 'mud pie' and the topping.  This second variant seemed, to my eyes, to be a confectionery nightmare.  I watched a few videos of it being made, and without exception the resulting mess, as served up on a plate or dish seemed to be a big pile of gunk.  It also seemed to have an inordinate amount of sugary ingredients.  I am sure it tastes wonderful, but that is not one that I wanted to try.  So I opted for the biscuit base variant and chose a recipe from BBC Food .  Now, of course, I have no idea how close this might be to something available in Mississippi, but reading the recipe did whet my appetite.

So here is the result:
Mississippi Mud Pie

Mississippi Mud Pie - Slice

For the base
  • 300g/10½oz bourbon biscuits, crushed
  • 75g/2½oz butter, melted
For the filling
  • 85g/3oz dark chocolate, minimum 70 per cent cocoa solids
  • 85g/3oz butter
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 85g/3oz muscovado sugar
  • 100ml/3½oz double cream
For the fudge sauce
  • 150g/5½oz dark chocolate, minimum 70 per cent cocoa solids
  • 150ml/5½fl oz double cream, plus extra to serve
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 175g/6oz icing sugar, sieve
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/365F/Gas 4.
  2. Mix the biscuits and melted butter together in a bowl. Press the mixture into the base and sides of a 23cm/9in springfrom tin. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  3. For the filling, melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. (Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water
  4. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl for 5-6 minutes, or until thick and creamy. Fold in the cream and melted chocolate mixture. Pour into the chilled springform tin and bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until just set. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, for the fudge sauce, heat all of the fudge sauce ingredients in a saucepan, stirring regularly, over a medium heat until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Spread the sauce over the cooled pie and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Serve with double cream.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Farmhouse Sultana Cake

Farmhouse Sultana Cake, from a recipe on a couple of different sites, seems to be fairly simple to make.  It certainly gives off a lovely aroma as it cooks, the mixed spices filling the room and really whetting the apetite.  I took the recipe from Cook It Simply .

It is a nice, easy to follow recipe, though I didn't use the  suggested 8 inch square cake tin, as mine has a fixed base.  Instead a used an 8 inch round tin.  This makes the cake smaller in surface area, but deeper.  The top of the cake cracked during cooking, but that is not a particular problem, as long as the inside is cooked through, and it doesn't collapse during cooling. 

The other site that I found exactly the same recipe on didn't mention what type of cake tin to use.

I didn't sprinkle sugar over the top of mine, which may have been a bit of a mistake, as I think that is what really makes it a Farmhouse cake, but I thought there was enough sugar in the batter to make it sweet enough.  
Farmhouse Sultana cake
Farmhouse Sultana Cake - sliced

  • 2 cups (225 g) 8 oz flour (All purpose)
  • 2 level tsp (10 ml) Mixed Spice (All Spice / Pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1 level tsp (5 ml) Bicarbonate of soda (Baking soda)
  • 1 1/2 cups (225 g) 8 oz plain wholemeal flour (whole grain)
  • 3/4 cup 170 g (6 oz) butter
  • 1 cup (225 g) 1/2 lb soft brown sugar
  • 8 oz (225 g) sultanas (golden raisins)
  • 1 egg. beaten
  • about 300 ml (1/2 pint) milk
  • 10 sugar cubes or 10 tsp granulated sugar
1. Butter and base-line a 20.5 cm (8 inch) square cake tin.
2. Sift the plain flour.with the spice and soda into a large mixing bowl; stir in the wholemeal flour.
3. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs and stir in the sugar and sultanas.
4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the egg and milk. Beat gently until well mixed and of a soft droppjng consistency adding more milk if necessary. Turn into the prepared tin.
5. Roughly crush the sugar cubes with the end of a rolling pin and scatter over the cake.
6. Bake in the oven at 170°C (325°f) mark 3 for about 1 hour 40 minutes until cooked. (When tested with a fine skewer, no traces of moist cake should remain.) Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

Vanilla Fudge

I found that a large tub of double cream that I had bought was about to go out of date.  Or at least reach its 'best by' date.  So, in an effort not to waste the cream I decided to find something that I could 'knock up' fairly simply.  What I chose was vanilla fudge, from a recipe on BBC Good Food .

It is a little bit of a chore to make, with having to ensure the ingredients reach a particular temperature, and then cooling, and stirring etc.  But the end result turned out quite well.  I dont have a sugar thermometer, so had to improvise with a probe thermometer, and it did the job well enough, though I was holding in a gloved hand, in case the mixture exploded as it boiled.

That is a word of warning, this recipe requires the mixture to be boiling and as it is full of sugar you must be very careful not to use too small a pan, or it will boil over and can do a lot of harm if it comes into contact with your skin.

The results of my efforts were very good, a lovely sweet fudge, with a vanilla taste.  Though, of course, it is very heavy in calories, so not a good idea to eat too much at a time.  Luckily it keeps well in an airtight container.
Vanilla Fudge

Vanilla Fudge, again

  • 450g golden caster sugar
  • 400g double cream
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp glucose syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  1. Line a 20 x 20cm cake tin with baking parchment. Tip the sugar, cream, butter and glucose syrup into a medium to large saucepan. Heat to dissolve the sugar and melt the butter, stirring now and again.
  2. Once dissolved, put a sugar thermometer in the pan, making sure the end is completely covered by the syrup – if not, transfer the mixture to a smaller pan (with enough space for the syrup to bubble up). Increase the heat and bring the syrup to a steady boil. Keep bubbling, stirring occasionally to stop the sugar from catching, until the mixture reaches 116C – this is known as the soft ball stage.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to sit, undisturbed, for 5 mins, until the temperature drops to 110C. Stir in the vanilla and a good pinch of salt.
  4. Keep the sugar thermometer in the pan and begin beating the mixture with a wooden spoon, quite vigorously, until the temperature cools to about 60C. By this time the fudge will be really thick and will have lost it glossy shine. Remove the thermometer and continue beating for a few mins more. This process is very important when making fudge, as it creates small sugar crystals, which give the fudge its lovely smooth and creamy texture (see 'fudge know-how', below).
  5. Before it sets completely, quickly pour the fudge into your prepared tin and smooth over the surface. Leave to cool at room temperature overnight – don’t put the fudge in the fridge as it will become sticky and won’t set properly. Cut into bite-sized pieces and pop in a box to give as a present. Will keep, in a sealed container, for up to 2 months.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Sultana and Lemon Syrup Fairy Cakes

Now this is a very nice recipe, for some very tasty, light and easy to eat fairy cakes.  I found the recipe on Good To Know Recipes

I must issue a warning here, the recipe on the site, which I reproduce below, states 'makes 12'.  However, and luckily for me, I read the comments below the recipe and discovered that there was probably an error.  Everyone was commenting that the batter made very large cakes, or far more than 12. 

Bearing that in mind I halved all the ingredients and was able to stretch the resultant batter to make 12.  The recipe also called for 3 large eggs.  In order to halve the amount I used 2 medium eggs and the result turned out very well. 

So if you wish to make 12, rather than about 24, use 87 grams instead of 175 gram of each major ingredient, and use 2 medium eggs.  

The reason for not making the cakes so large that they overflow the top of the muffin cases is that you will be spooning on the syrup, which needs to have a way to stay in place and to seep into the cake.  If they are too large, and rounded, the syrup will just run away.

Sultana and Lemon Syrup Fairy Cakes


  • 175g (6oz) butter, softened
  • 175g (6oz) golden caster sugar
  • 175g (6oz) self-raising flour
  • 5ml (1tsp) baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 30ml (2tbsp) lemon curd
  • 100g (4oz) sultanas
For the topping:
  • 100g (4oz) granulated sugar
  • Juice and grated rind from 1 lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (180°C, 350°F). Line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cake cases.
  2. Place the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs in a large bowl and whisk with an electric whisk until thoroughly blended, pale and creamy. Fold in the lemon curd and sultanas.
  3. Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and bake for 15-20 mins until risen and golden brown. While the cakes are baking, mix the topping ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. Remove the cakes from the oven and leave for 1-2 mins, then spoon some of the topping over each cupcake. Leave to cool in the tray. The sugar topping will go crisp on cooling.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Chocolate Brownies

A nice, simple, recipe today, Chocolate Brownies.  These are very easy to make and have a lovely, rich, chocolate flavour, with a crunch top and a moist insides.  

The problem with these is that you rather want to eat one each time you have a cup of tea.  If you drink as much tea as I do you could rather overdo your sugar intake if you eat too many.
Chocolate Brownie
  • 140g/5oz dark chocolate
  • 225g/8oz butter
  • 5 free-range eggs
  • 450g/1lb caster sugar
  • 110g/4oz plain flour
  • 55g/2oz cocoa powder
  1. Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Line a 20x30cm/8x12in baking tin with baking parchment.
  2. Gently melt the butter and the sugar together in a large pan.
  3. Take off the heat and beat in the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Turn into the baking tin and bake for 30-40 minutes until the top of the brownie is firm but the inside still feels soft.
  5. Take out of the oven and cool in the tin. Cut into 5cm/2in squares when cool. Perfect with a cup of tea.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Cheese Scones

As a bit of a savoury bake today I have made cheese scones.  I don't actually enjoy cooked cheese, but a scone is fine, as it will be eaten cold, and there is not too much cheese in it.  It is melted cheese like on pizza and in things like lasagne which I find so unpalatable,

The recipe I used is from BBC Good Food and makes enough for 12 to 15 scones, though they are quite small in size, almost to the point of being mini scones.

It is a simple to make recipe and, as it is cooking now, it smells quite nice.
Cheese Scones

200g Self raising flour
50g butter, at room temperature
75g grated cheddar cheese
25g rolled oats
125 ml milk

  1. Heat oven to 220c/fan 200c/425f/gas 7. Place the flour in a large bowl, then rub in the butter. Stir in the oats and cheese, then the milk – if it feels like it might be dry, add a touch more milk, then bring together to make a soft dough.
  2. Lightly dust the surface with a little flour. roll out the dough no thinner than 2cm. Using a 4cm plain cutter, firmly stamp out the rounds – try not to twist the cutter as this makes the scones rise unevenly. re-roll the trimmings and stamp out more.
  3. Transfer to a non-stick baking sheet, dust with a little more flour or grated cheese, then bake for 12-15 mins until well risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack before serving on their own or topped with mashed avocado, or soft cheese, and ham, cucumber or cress.