Friday, 30 January 2015

Mini Monkey Bread

Having never heard of Monkey Bread I was intrigued, when I found a photo of some on a site called Zergnet. It is not a site I had heard of either, and can't even remember how I found it.  But the site is well worth a look, for those who have an interest in food, since it draws lots of information together from a host of other sites.  

Anyway, as I said, I had never heard of Monkey Bread until I saw the photo.  I immediately started to investigate and found that usually in is made in a Bundt tin.  I don't have one of those, so searched around and found that it is possible to make mini versions, using a muffin tin.

I decided to try, and see how they turned out.  The first thing to say is that I think I divided my dough into slightly too large pieces, and filled the muffin holes rather too full.  So the recipe below, which will make enough for a bundt tin made 12 muffin hole ones and, with a 12cm pastry ring, 5cm deep, I used the remaining dough to make a large one.  So I estimate that the mixture would actually make 18 mini ones, if the pieces were slightly smaller, as suggested above.

The definite advantage of using a bundt tin is that the caramel sauce can be poured over the top of the dough once in the tin, whereas I had to be very careful when trying to drizzle it over the mini ones. 

I will be making this again, in a bundt tin, just as soon as I get hold of one.

In the meantime please enjoy this effort, which is such a delightful way of eating a caramel coated, cinnamon bun, with the individual pieces easily coming away from the rest.

Mini Monkey Bread
More Mini Monkey Bread
  • 12 grams active dried yeast
  • 60 ml warm water
  • 300 ml warm milk, (at least 2% fat)
  • 62grams melted butter
  • 50 granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 640 grams plain flour
To coat the dough:
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 125 grams melted butter
  • 250 grams granulated sugar
For the caramel:
  • 62 grams melted butter
  • 120 grams light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the icing:
  • 200 grams Icing Sugar
  • 3 tbsp whipping or double cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Mix the water and milk together, in a large bowl(stand mixer is good) and add the dried yeast.  Stir the yeast in and leave for a few minutes to start the activation.
  2. Add the remaining dough ingredients(butter, eggs, sugar, salt, flour) to the bowl and, with the dough hook, mix together until the flour is fully mixed in with the liquid and has started to form a smooth dough.  You can do this by hand if you wish.
  3. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a further 5 minutes until it is easily formed into a nice, smooth and springy ball.
  4. Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in
  5. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 8 hours( I left mine overnight)
  6. Remove the risen dough from the bowl and knock it back.
  7. Flatten it with your hands, or roll it, to a thickness of about half an inch.  Cut into pieces( about 45 for a bundt tin and about 90 for 18 muffin holes)
  8. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl
  9. place the melted butter in another bowl
  10. Take each piece of dough and coat with butter and then roll it in the sugar mixture.
  11. Place the piece of dough in the bundt tin, or the muffin pan, 5 pieces to each muffin hole.
  12. Cover the dough and allow to rise again, for 30 minutes
  13. Preheat the oven to 180C/160 Fan/350 F
  14. Mix the remaining melted butter with the brown sugar and vanilla extract then pour over the dough(if using a bundt tin).  If using muffin tins gently spoon the mixture over the dough.  Since I am recommending smaller pieces it should not have risen as high as mine, and so will not spill over the pan.
  15. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes for bundt tin or for 15 to 20 minutes for muffin tins.
  16. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  17. Turn out onto a cooling rack. If using muffin tins gently turn them over.
  18. Mix the icing sugar, cream and vanilla extract to make the icing.  For a more runny consistency you may add more cream.
  19. Pipe the icing over the monkey bread and allow to set.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Chocolate Tartlet, with Chocolate Ganache

I found a recipe in Le Cordon Bleu's Chocolate Bible, for a Chocolate Tartlet, with a soft chocolate filling and topped with a chocolate ganache.  I reproduce the recipe below, or you can find it on Le Corden Bleu website.  

I am never entirely successful with my pastry, it always shrinks somewhat, when in the oven, and when it is too late.  I realise that one cause is overworking the dough, so I was fastidious in following this recipe and hardly worked the pastry at all.  I then chilled it as directed and rolled it out.  I actually measured, by weight the amounts needed and kept the remainder in the fridge as I rolled out each piece individually.  Having lined the pan i then refrigerated again and then removed the excess pastry.  That final step, although part of Le Cordon Bleu's instruction, for lining a pastry case, was a mistake.  As usual, when baking, the pastry shrank.  Had I left the excess in place I could have trimmed it after baking.

Anyway, I got the cases baked, even though they were not quite as deep as I wanted them.  I should also say that I don't have the 10cm round tartlet tins mentioned in the recipe.  So I used a twelve hole square cake tin. Each hole was 10cm corner to corner, which means not of the same volume as the round ones.  I therefore had pastry dough and soft chocolate filling mixture over.  No matter, I was able to make some extra tartlets.  So instead of 12 round ones I ended up with 15 square ones.

The result is nice, crisp pastry, with a lovely soft chocolate filling and a shiny ganache on top.  Not perfect, by any means, but certainly good enough to eat, and enjoy doing so.

Chocolate Tartlets

Chocolate Tartlet

Sweet pastry dough:

  • 110 g butter
  • 110 g powdered sugar
  • 45 g ground almonds
  • 210 g flour
  • 1 large egg (60 g)
Soft chocolate filling:
  • 105 g "couverture" chocolate 70 %
  • 60 g butter, softened
  • 60 g ground almonds
  • 90 g egg whites
  • 75 g sugar
  • 45 g flour
Ganache glaze:
  • 150 g chocolate, chopped
  • 150 ml whipping cream
  • 70 g sugar
  • 60 g butter
  • 120 ml water (I didn't use any water at all)

Sweet pastry dough:

  1.  Rub the butter into the dry ingredients, add the egg and combine. “fraiser” - mix the dough evenly by smearing it with the fleshy part of the palm of the hand. 
  2. Form into a ball and refrigerate approximately 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  4. Roll out the sweet pastry dough to a thickness of approximately 3 mm and cut disks 12 cm . Line tartlet molds and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  5. Bake the tartlet cases in the preheated oven for approximately 10 minutes.

Soft chocolate filling:
  1.  Melt chocolate over a bain-marie, remove from the heat and mix in the softened butter. Add the ground almonds.
  2.  Beat egg whites until foamy. 
  3. Gradually add the sugar, beating until the egg whites are smooth, shiny and stiff peaks form. 
  4. Delicately fold in the meringued egg whites, followed by the flour. 
  5. Fill the tartlet shells to 2/3 and bake for 3 to 4 minutes.
Ganache glaze:
  1.  Put the chocolate in a bowl. 
  2. Heat the whipping cream, butter and sugar, pour onto the chocolate and add a little water to obtain a smooth consistency. 
  3. Coat each tartlet with ganache glaze.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Whoopie Pies

Whoopie Pies are something that I had not heard about.  But I came across them as I was looking around for something to bake. It seems, if what I read is true, that these are becoming increasingly popular.  The version I decided to make is heavy on the chocolate.  I wasn't sure about the filling for the middle, so I experimented and found that using just marshmellow is very messy, as you have to heat a marshmallow on the bottom half of the pie, then place the top half on top.  Getting it just right, so that the marshmallow doesn't drip all over the sides is very hit and miss.   So I opted for a different filling, with marshmallow cream, sugar, butter and vanilla extract.  That worked very well indeed and, to my taste is much preferable to the marshmallow alone.

The recipe I followed, from The Food Network is an easy one to follow.  My only change was that I made my pies larger, actually about double in size I think, and so only made 9 pies, but that is certainly enough for my purposes.  I also increased the cooking time to 9 minutes, because of the larger size. The filling, as I mentioned earlier, is also different.

For the recipe, shown below, I will leave the instructions as per the Food Network site, as people can decide for themselves whether to do as I did. But I will add my alternative to the filling at the bottom.
Whoopie Pie


  • Ingredients
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup natural cocoa powder, such as Hershey's or Scharffen Berger
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons fine salt
  • 18 large marshmallows, (not minis)(see my alternative below)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet.
  2. Put the unsweetened and semisweet chocolates and butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl; heat at 75 percent power until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir, and continue to microwave until completely melted, about 2 minutes more. (Alternatively, put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching the water, and stir occasionally until melted and smooth.)
  3. Whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla into the chocolate mixture until smooth.
  4. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into another bowl. Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until moistened. Switch to a rubber spatula and finish folding the batter together; take care not to over-mix.
  5. Use a small cookie scoop or spoon to drop a heaping tablespoon of batter onto the prepared pan. Repeat to make 36 cookies, spacing them about 1-inch apart. Bake until the cookies spring back when lightly touched, about 6 minutes.
  6. Cool the cookies slightly. Transfer half of the cookies to a rack. Turn the remaining cookies on the pan over, so they lay flat side up. Place a marshmallow on top of each flipped cookie and return pan to the oven. Cook just until the marshmallow begins to soften and puff, about 3 minutes. Cool marshmallow topped cookies slightly, about 2 minutes. Top with the remaining cookies, pressing lightly to make sandwiches. Cool whoopee pies completely on wire racks. Serve.
  7. Store in tightly sealed container for up to 1 week.
Alternative filling:
  • 1 stick (112 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 200 grams icing sugar
  • one tub of marshmallow fluff
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix all those ingredients together until creamy and smooth.  Then it is ready to use instead of marshallow.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Lemon Layer Cake

I found a very appetising recipe on BBC Food, by Simon Rimmer, for a Lemon Layer Cake.  This is a sponge cake, cut into two layers and filled will a marbled lemon and mascarpone cheese filling.

I was keen to give it a try and wanted to try, at the same time, to test something to stop the sponge from going hard as the edges.  To do this I wrapped some wet paper towel in tin foil and tied it round the outside of the cake pan.  I must say the experiment seems to have worked, as the sides of the cake are not in the least bit crispy. They are paler than you usuallly get from a cake, but that is fine.

The cake did sink, very slightly, in the middle after taking it out of the oven.  This seems to be for one of a number of reasons, including old flour, or too much mixing, or opening the oven too soon.  I haven't fathomed, yet, how you test a cake without opening the oven.  If I ever do I will certainly patent the idea.

Anyway, all that said the cake turned out well and tastes rather delicious. It is, of course very, very moist, since it has had a lot of lemon drizzled into the sponge, and that as been absorbed.  So it is the sort of cake that you eat with a fork, rather than try to pick it up with your hands.

Lemon Layer Cake

Lemon Layer Cake Slice
For the lemon drizzle:
  • 4 lemons, juice only
  • 75g/2¾oz caster sugar
For the sponge:
  • 200g/7oz caster sugar
  • 200g/7oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 lemons, zest only
  • 3 free-range eggs, beaten
  • 200g/7oz self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
For the filling:
  • 2 free-range egg yolks
  • 75g/2¾oz caster sugar
  • 50g/1¾oz unsalted butter
  • 2 lemons, juice and zest
  • 100g/3½oz mascarpone
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. 
  2. Grease a 20cm/8in springform cake tin with butter, then add a small amount of flour, turn the cake tin to coat the sides and bottom and shake out any excess.
  3. For the lemon drizzle, in a bowl, mix together the lemon juice and sugar until the mixture is well combined and the sugar has melted. Set aside
  4. For the sponge, beat the sugar, butter and lemon zest in a mixing bowl until pale and fluffy, using an electric whisk.
  5. Gradually add the eggs, whisking after each addition until the egg is completely incorporated into the mixture before adding the next. Carefully fold in the flour using a metal spoon
  6. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the sponge has risen and is cooked through. (The sponge is cooked through when a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  7. As soon as the cake is cooked, remove it from the springform cake tin and prick the top all over with a cocktail stick. Pour over the lemon drizzle mixture to soak the sponge, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.
  8. For the filling, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a pan over a low to medium heat until the sugar has melted.
  9. Add the butter, lemon juice and zest, and continue to cook, whisking continuously, for 4-5 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened and is smooth and well combined. Set aside to cool completely.
  10. Using a metal spoon, carefully fold the mascarpone into the cooled lemon curd mixture to create a marbled effect.
  11. When the sponge has cooled, cut the cake in half horizontally to create two thinner cakes. Spread the lemon filling all over the lower half of the cake, then place the top half (the half that was pricked and soaked in the lemon drizzle) on top.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Individual Pork Pies

There is nothing quite like a pork pie, eaten cold, with some Branston pickle or caramelised red onions, together with some salad or chips.  I checked out a few recipes and decided that I needed to amalgamate a few to get what I wanted.

I used a straight sided muffin tin to make my version, and it worked quite well.  

For those who are not familiar with pork pie they are made with a hot watercrust pastry, using lard as the shortening agent.

When the pies are cooked the last thing is to pour some liquid, infused with gelatine in the top to fill any gaps with a nice tasty jelly.
Individual Pork Pies

Individual Pork Pies
150g lard
500g plain flour
400g minced pork
100g smoked bacon finely chopped
1 large onion, diced finely
1 tbsp Worcester Sauce
1 tsp mustard powder
300g stock, chicken or vegetable
2 small sheets of gelatine
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper to season to personal taste

Heat the oven to 180c/Gas Mark 4
Grease a straight-sided muffin tin, with loose bottoms
Mix the pork, bacon, onion, mustard powder and Worcester sauce in a bowl, using your hands to make sure it is well combined.  
Add salt and pepper 
Melt the lard with 200ml water, bring to the boil
With the flour in a bowl make a well and pour the lard/water mixture in
Mix until it has formed a dough.
Take one quarter of the dough and wrap in cling film.
Roll out the remaining dough and cut into  8 12-13 cm circles.
Place each circle, carefully, into 8 holes in the muffin pan lining the bottom and sides
Divide the pork mixture equally among the 8 lined holes of the muffin tin.
Roll out the clingfilm wrapped pastry and cut into 8 circles large enough to top each of the pies
Egg wash the top of the pie and the under side of the newly rolled tops.
Place the tops on the pie, pinching the edges together. 
Make a hole in the centre of each top, to allow steam to get out.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, then remove from the muffin tin, placing on a baking tray.
Egg wash the tops and sides of each pie and return to the oven and cook for a further 25-30 minutes, until the pies are golden brown
Remove from the oven and as they cool soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.
Heat the stock to boiling point
Strain the gelatine wring out to remove excess water.
Place the gelatine in the stock and stir until it is dissolved.
Using a funnel gently pour stock into the top of each pie, being sure not to let it overflow.
Allow to cool and settle, overnight is best.  Then they will be nice and firm and ready to eat.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Mini(Individual) Chocolate & Cherry Gateaux

I came up with this recipe for a Mini Chocolate Gateaux by mixing parts of two or three different recipes together.

The idea was to make individual cakes, with straight sides, so a muffin tin was not an option.  I acquired a 12 hole pan, with the same diameter as muffin tins, but with straight sides and removable bottoms. That seemed to be just what I needed.  Though I wouldn't be using all 12 holes.

The recipe shown below will make 9 cakes of a reasonable size.

Then I wanted to cut the cake into two separate layers, so that I could fill between the layers with some cherry compote.

Finally I wanted to cover the whole thing with chocolate ganache, roughly shaped all over, and top with a glace cherry.

The result has turned out very well indeed, and the taste is great, lovely fruity cherries mixed in with the chocolate sponge.  It would be a good idea to serve these with some whipped cream, and maybe a little extra compote on the side.
Mini Chocolate Cherry Gateaux

For the cakes:
  • 125 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 100 grams dark chocolate (broken into pieces)
  • 300 grams morello cherry jam
  • 150 grams caster sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 150 grams self-raising flour
  • a little extra jam, melted, for coating the cakes
For the filling:
  • 400g fresh ripe cherries
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 100ml cold water
  • 150g cherry jam
  • 2 tsp cornflour
For the ganache:
  • 200g (7.05 ounces) dark chocolate (for a firmer ganache you can add more chocolate)
  • 100ml double cream 
  • 1 tablespoon glucose syrup (optional- to retain a shine in the ganache)
Make the compote first, so it has time to cool before being used
Pit and halve the cherries then place in a saucepan with the lemon juice and water. Bring to the boil then simmer until the liquid has almost vanished and the cherries are tender, It took 15 minutes for me.
Mix the jam with the cornflour, stir in with the cherries and bring to the boil again, for a couple of minutes to cook the cornflour.

.Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160C Fangas mark 4/350ºF.
Put the butter in a saucepan on the heat to melt. When nearly completely melted, stir in the chocolate. Leave for a moment to begin softening, then take the pan off the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and chocolate are smooth and melted. 

Add the cherry jam, sugar, salt and eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon and when all is pretty well amalgamated stir in the flour.
Equally share the mixture between 9 holes in your baking tin and bake for 25-30 minute.
Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out.
When the cakes are cooled carefully cut them into two layers.
Add some of the compote onto the bottom layer, so that it is covered, but not too wet, and place the other layer on top, pressing down lightly to make sure the compote just about reaches the edges.
Using a pastry brush smear some melted jam over the top and sides of the cake and set aside.
In a bain marie(double boiler) gently melt the chocolate and remove from the heat. 
Add the cream and stir until amalgamated.
Add the glycerine as well and stir in(if using).
If the ganache is too liquid you need to add some more chocolate(though you could just pour it over the cakes as long as it trickles over the sides.
Allow to cool slightly and then using a palette knife cover each cake, top and sides, with the ganache.
Set aside to allow the ganache to firm up.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Coconut Muffins

I seem to be enjoying muffins quite a bit lately, and have come up with a recipe of my own that I wanted to try.  That is coconut muffins, topped with icing and some more coconut.  Most muffins don't really have toppings, except maybe some crumbs to add some crunch, but I think these little beauties deserve to be topped off with shredded coconut.

I also researched a little bit, about how to add butter instead of oil to a muffin mix, since I have been asked to substitute, or not to use so much oil.  It isn't as simple as substituting an amount of oil with the same amount of melted butter, as the oil has a higher fat content, which is what makes the muffins so moist.  So when substituting it with butter I also had a adjust how much other liquid I would usually put in.  For instance I read that 125ml of oil would have to become 170 ml of butter.  So I tried to use that ratio in my mix.  

In the recipe below I suggest cooking for 20 minutes, that worked very well for me, but ovens are notorious in their vagaries, so if you wish to try these you may have to adjust the cooking time.  As long as a skewer, when used to test the muffins, comes out clean all will be fine.

For the coconut I used desiccated in the muffin mix, as it is more finely chopped that the normal shredded coconut.  I used sweetened, shredded coconut for the topping as it really does give a lovely addtional taste and texture.

Anyway, on to my recipe, and a couple of photos.  To see more than just the first photo Google+ viewers need to click the link to the blog.
Coconut Muffin

Coconut Muffins
  • 350g Plain Flour
  • 75g desiccated coconut
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 112g melted butter, cooled
  • 240ml milk
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
For the topping:
  • 200g Icing sugar, sieved(or sifted if you prefer that word)
  • 2 ½ tablespoons water
  • 50g Sweetened shredded coconut( you can use desiccated as shredded is difficult to find).
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 
  2. In one bowl whisk the eggs with the caster sugar 
  3. Whisk in the melted butter and milk 
  4. Mix in the vanilla extract and desiccated coconut 
  5. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together 
  6. Add those dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients, and mix to incorporate. Do not over mix. 
  7. Line your muffin tin with 12 muffin cases, or muffin tulips and drop the mixture, in equal proportions into the cases 
  8. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. 
  9. Allow to cool 
  10. In a bowl mix the icing sugar with the 2 ½ tablespoons of water to make a thick icing paste, that is still just able to drip from a spoon. Add the water slowly, so the icing doesn’t get too thick. 
  11. If your muffins are in cases you can dunk them into the icing to cover the tops, if your muffins are in tulip cases drip the icing over each muffin until the top is coated. 
  12. Sprinkle the sweetened shredded coconut over the top of the icing, pressing down gently.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Shrewsbury Cakes (also known as Shropshire Cakes)

Now this recipe is not actually a cake at all, it is a biscuit, or cookie for American readers of the blog.

The reason for making these shortbread type biscuits is quite simple.  I was watching TV and a guy came on, talking about historic recipes.  Ivan Day was the guy's name, he appears in many British programmes talking of the subject of food in times gone by.  Anyway he demonstrated the recipe for Shrewbury Cakes, and told some of the history behind them.  The cakes date back to the 17th Century, and were used, according to Ivan as an accompaniment to a specific type of alcoholic punch.  The pattern was there to allow the biscuits to be broken into pieces to dip in the drink.  

I then did some searching on the internet and found an interesting site, with a nice explanation, and a recipe.  The site is A Taste Of The Past, you can click that link to see the site, and read about the recipe.

Now I made a big mistake today, when shopping, I forgot the buy rosewater, which rather stymied me for making the biscuits.  So I had to improvise and used some diluted orange extract instead.  It worked quite well.  I was worried that I might ruin the biscuits by having too much of an orange flavour, but it is fine, there is just a hint of the orange and the cinnamon.

Below, in the photos I and have included a mug of tea, just to allow for some perspective on size for the biscuits.

I will also put the original recipe here, and just add a note that I used orange extract(diluted) instead of rosewater.

Shrewsbury Cakes
  • 1 lb (450g) Plain flour
  • 8 oz (225 g) Butter
  • 8 oz (225 g) Caster sugar
  • ½ tsp (2.5 ml) Cinnamon
  • 1 medium Egg
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) Rosewater ( I used a teaspoon of diluted orange extract instead)
  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, and rub in the butter.
  2. Work in the egg and rosewater with a round bladed knife.
  3. Knead lightly to form a stiff dough.
  4. Divide the dough into 16 equal balls, and pat out into 5” (13cm) rounds.
  5. Decorate with a comb to form diamond shapes.
  6. Bake at 180°C (350 °F) for 10-15 minutes.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Chelsea Buns

Chelsea Buns are a lovely, fruit-filled bread, traditionally baked close together so that they join up in baking. I read lots of recipes before deciding what ingredients to use.  Some use mixed dried fruit, others sultanas, raisin, apricots, cherries and any number of other fruits.  I eventually decided to try to make something that resembled what I used to eat as a child.  That is one with mixed dried fruit.

The recipe takes a little time as there are several different steps, and time is needed to rest the dough as well. But the time taken is well worth it, when they come out of the oven, the aroma filling the room.  If all has turned out ok, you then cover the buns will some jam to make a nice sticky top, and finally some icing is dripped over the buns.  All in all these really are a lovely accompaniment to a nice cup of tea, or coffee.  I am only guessing that they will go well with coffee, as I don't like it, so never drink it.

Chelsea Buns

Chelsea Bun - close up


For the dough:
  • 500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 x 7g sachet fast-acting yeast
  • 300ml/10fl oz milk
  • 40g/1½oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the tin
  • 1 free-range egg
  • vegetable oil, for greasing
For the filling:
  • 25g/1oz unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 orange, zest only, grated
  • 75g/2½oz soft brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 300 g10½oz mixed dried fruit
For the topping:
  • 1 tbsp of apricot jam(or similar)
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 1 to 2 tbsp orange juice
  1. Place the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the yeast.
  2. Warm the milk and butter in a small saucepan until the butter is melted and the mixture is lukewarm. Pour into the flour mixture, add the egg and stir thoroughly until the contents of the bowl come together as a soft dough.
  3. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead well for five minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. You can do these first 3 steps in a stand mixer if you wish.
  4. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and leave to rise, covered with a damp tea towel, for one hour or until doubled in size.
  5. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out dough into a rectangle about 40x30cm/16x12 inches.
  6. Mix the cinnamon in with the sugar, then add the mixed fruit in as well.
  7. Brush the rolled out dough all over with the melted butter. Evenly sprinkle the orange zest over the buttered surface, followed by the combined mixture.
  8. Roll the  long side of the dough towards you quite tightly, until the roll is complete and tight. With a sharp knife cut into thick rounds - you should get about 12.  To assist with the rolling you can press one long edge of the dough onto the work surface, to hold it in place whilst rolling.
  9. Grease a deep roasting tin or baking tray thoroughly with butter.
  10. Place the buns, cut side up, into the greased baking tray leaving about ½in of space between each one. As they prove again before baking they will join up nicely.
  11. Leave to rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place.
  12. Preheat oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/Gas 5.
  13. Bake for  the buns for 20-25 minutes until golden-brown. If they start to brown too much place some tin foil over the top.
  14. Remove the buns from the oven and let them cool slightly before transferring them from the tin to a cooling rack.
  15. Melt the jam in a small saucepan with a splash of water until smooth. Brush the jam over the buns to glaze and allow to cool.
  16. Mix together the icing sugar, and orange juice to make the icing, that you can drip, or pipe over the cooled buns.
  17. Eat and enjoy.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Almond Macaroons

As a child a nice little treat was an Almond Macaroon, which had a lining on the underside of rice paper.  I haven't seen them for years, but the name popped into my head the other day.  So a search on the internet ensued, and Lo! the delightful Delia came up trumps.  Delia Online had a recipe that I just had to try.  

Very few ingredients, and very simple to make these macaroons taste wonderful, and are chewy on the inside, with a slight crunch on the outside.  Though Delia implies that leaving them overnight will make them chewy, I guess all over.

Update: I have to make some more, they went down so well 16 just wasn't enough.  So another batch tomorrow.  These may become my all time favourite.The chewy texture and almond flavour is just wonderful.

Almond Macaroons
  • 90g ground almonds
  • 10g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 level teaspoon ground rice
  • 110g golden granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • a few drops pure almond extract
  • 16 blanched almonds
  • some golden caster sugar
  • rice paper
  1. Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas Mark 2
  2. In a bowl mix the ground almonds together with the sifted icing sugar, ground rice and granulated sugar. 
  3. Now stir in the unbeaten egg white and a few drops of almond extract and continue stirring until very thoroughly mixed. The mixture will be sticky but what you now need to do is to divide it in the bowl into four and then divide each quarter into four and roll each piece into a ball, using your hands. 
  4. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet, lined with rice paper, allowing room between each one for the biscuits to expand during the cooking. Now dampen your fingers and press the biscuits down a little into rounds. 
  5. After that top each one with a blanched almond and finally sprinkle on the caster sugar. 
  6. Now bake the biscuits near the centre of the oven for about 25–30 minutes, or until they are tinged a light golden brown. 
  7. Leave them to cool, then strip off the rice paper surrounding each biscuit.
  8. Store them in an airtight tin as soon as they have cooled if you like to eat them crisp or, if you prefer them a bit chewy, leave them overnight before storing in a tin.

Custard Cherry Biscuits

I found a recipe for these Custard Cherry Biscuits on Flickr.  I was paging through some photos using Google search and saw the photo.  Visiting the website that the photo is on provided a recipe as well.  It all looked very simple, so I thought I would give it a try.

The result turned out quite well.  The biscuits taste very nice.  I did add a little milk to the mixture as it seemed just a little dry.  That may be because I didn't convert the 'cup' measures to more precise grams.  I will add that instruction to the recipe below.  I also used Morello glace cherries as I prefer the flavour of those to the normal glace cherries.

I should also mention that the recipe indicates that the mixture will spread in the oven. That didn't really happen to mine, very much at all.  But the result is certainly very tasty.
Custard Cherry Biscuits

  • 250g unsalted butter, chopped, at room temperature
  • ½ cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 cups plain flour, sifted
  • ½ cup custard powder, sifted
  • 15 glacé cherries, halved
  • 1 tbsp milk, to be used if the mixture seems too dry.

  1. Preheat oven to moderate, 180°C. Lightly grease and line 2 baking trays.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Gradually fold in flour and custard powder until combined.
  3. Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Arrange on prepared trays, leaving 4cm space between each biscuit (this allows for spreading). Flatten lightly with a fork. Press cherry halves, cut-side down, onto each biscuit.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Cool on trays.

Biscuits will be soft when removed from oven, but will harden on cooling.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Apple Streusel Muffins

I found a very nice sounding recipe on Bakinglady's blog for an Apple Muffin, with a Streusel topping.  So I thought I would give it a try.

The instructions are very easy to follow and the muffins take no time at all to make.  The topping makes a nice contrast to the softness of the apple filled muffin, and together they taste very nice indeed.

They are certainly well worth the little effort needed to make them.

Apple Streusel Muffins

Apple Streusel Muffins 2

Streusel topping
  • 75g demerera sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 85g plain flour
  • 1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 1 level tablespoon flaked almonds( I didn't have flaked, so I chopped some blanched almonds)
Wet mixture
  • 115g sunflower oil
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 120g Greek yogurt
  • 60g milk
  • 1 level teaspoon good quality vanilla paste or extract

Dry mixture
  • 125g light soft brown sugar
  • 220g plain flour
  • 1 level teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 level teaspoons mixed spice
  • 150g finely chopped apple ( approximately 2 medium apples)
  • Preheat the oven to 200c, 180c for a fan assisted oven and place 10 cardboard muffin cases onto a tray (alternatively use paper muffin cases and place them into a muffin tin.
  • Start by making the streusel topping by placing the sugar, flour, mixed spice and butter into a small bowl and rubbing it through your fingertips until you have a coarse, lumpy mixture then add in the flaked almonds, set aside.
  • Now prepare your wet ingredients by combining the eggs, oil, milk, yogurt and vanilla essence in a jug, whisk gently to combine
  • For your dry ingredients, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and mixed spice in a large bowl, whisk gently with a wire whisk to combine all the ingredients then add the chopped apples and stir again.
  • Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients and mix quickly and gently until JUST combined, do not beat or over mix, or you will end up with rubbery muffins.
  • Divide the mixture equally between the muffin cases then divide the streusel topping over the tops, pushing the mixture down very gently with your fingertips to help it stick to the muffin mixture.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes then drop the temperature to 180c or 160c and continue baking for a further 20-25 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle. Leave to cool.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Stoneground Wholemeal Loaf and Rolls - With Mulligatawny Soup

I wanted to try a Mulligatawny soup recipe that I found, but also needed some bread to go with it, so I decided on some wholemeal rolls.  However I struggled to find a decent recipe for the rolls that I liked.  I did find a Paul Hollywood recipe for a wholemeal loaf, and thought that maybe I could use that for the rolls.  However, since I would have to guess at the cooking time for the rolls I decided to make two batches of dough, and use one for a loaf and one for the rolls.  With wholemeal bread, particularly using stoneground flour, it doesn't stay fresh for long, so making two batches might not be a good idea.  But either the loaf of the rolls can be frozen, so nothing is lost doing it this way.

As for Mulligatawny soup, for those who may not know of it, it is an Anglo-Indian soup, with various interpretations, but all including curry powder.  I chose a recipe, on Abbescookingantics  that uses red lentils to help thicken the soup, but some use rice instead.  Also the combination of vegetables and indeed what meat is used, varies from recipe to recipe.  Having made, and tasted the soup I must confess that it has a great flavour, not hot, but spicy enough, and with a sweet aftertaste, probably from the inclusion of apples and mango chutney.  I think the addition of more red lentils or maybe a diced potato would have thickened it a little more.  But it is certainly very nice.

I should also say that the stoneground flour creates a closer textured, more dense type of bread, but is very flavoursome.  In order to lighten the 'crumb' somewhat strong white flour can be added, and you can vary the proportion of it, to the amount of stoneground.  I stuck with Paul Hollywood's recipe of 400g stoneground and 100g strong white.  It does make a really lovely tasting bread.
Stoneground Loaf and Roll

Mulligatawny Soup

Stoneground Loaf or Rolls
  • 400g stone-ground strong wholemeal bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100g strong white bread flour
  • 10g salt
  • 10g instant yeast
  • 40g unsalted butter, softened
  • 320ml tepid water
  • Olive oil for kneading
Method: (I have included extra instructions for making rolls instead of a loaf)
  1. Tip the flours into a large mixing bowl and add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the butter and three quarters of the water, and turn the mixture around with your fingers. Add water a little at a time until you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all the water, or you may need to add more — you want dough that is soft, but not soggy. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl, folding the edges into the middle. Keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
  2. Coat the work surface with a little olive oil, then tip the dough onto it and begin to knead. Keep kneading for 5–10 minutes until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin.
  3. When your dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until at least doubled in size — at least 1 hour, but it’s fine to leave it for 2 or even 3 hours.
  4. Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper.
  5. Dust your work surface lightly with flour and tip your dough onto it. Knock the air out of the dough by folding it inwards repeatedly until the dough is smooth. Flatten the dough and roll it up into a sausage, then roll this out with your hands until it is about 30cm long. Tie the dough in a knot and place on the prepared baking tray.
  6. If you want rolls instead, cut the 30cm roll into 8 equal pieces and work until roughly rounded. Place on a baking tray, leaving space for them to grow.
  7. Put the tray into a clean plastic bag. Leave to prove for about an hour, until the dough is at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger. Heat your oven to 430F/220C/Gas 7 and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up.
  8. Gently rub flour all over the proved dough. Put the loaf into the oven and fill the roasting tray with hot water. This will create steam in the oven, which helps give the bread a lighter crust. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes, then check it is cooked by tapping the base — it should sound hollow.  If you are making rolls bake for about 20-25 mins, making sure they don't overcook. Cool on a wire rack.

Mulligatawny Soup:
Ingredients:  (I doubled all the ingredients, as I like to have enough for extra helpings)
  • 1 tbsp butter/vegetable oil
  • 100g uncooked chicken meat (breast/leg/thigh - doesn't matter) - diced
  • 2 carrots - peeled and diced
  • 2 sticks celery - diced
  • 1 onion - diced
  • 1 turnip - peeled and diced
  • 1 apple
  • 50g red lentils
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 heaped tbsp mango chutney
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 ltr chicken stock - from a cube is fine
  1. Heat the butter/oil in the saucepan over a medium heat and gently brown the diced chicken meat for a couple of minutes. When no pink is showing, add the carrots, celery, onion and turnip. Stir well, put the lid on and sweat the veg gently for 10 minutes or until softened. Giving it the odd stir to prevent it from sticking on the bottom.
  2. Peel, core and chop the apple - add it to the pan along with the lentils, curry powder, chutney and tomato puree. Cook for 1 minute, then add the chicken stock.
  3. Replace the lid and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the vegetables and lentils are cooked. Serve 'as is' with a dollop of fresh soured cream to garnish.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

London Cheesecake

Now this is a treat from my childhood.  In those days they were known just as cheesecakes.  But I suppose with the advent of that glutinous, cloying cheesy type tart that is so popular these days my childhood favourite has had to change its' name.

A London Cheesecake is a puff pastry with a jam and frangipane 'filling', topped with icing and shredded, sweetened coconut.  It has absolutely nothing to do with cheese.  Some think it may relate to the similarity of the shredded coconut, which does look a little like grated cheese. To find a recipe was quite difficult, and I opted for one that didn't work well, it suggested two layers of pastry, with jam and frangipane in the middle. I did that, but the result was that the pastry wasn't cooked properly, and it also curled up at the edges.  Luckily I had made my own puff pastry, from a Paul Hollywood recipe, and there was enough left to do another batch, using a different recipe.   This recipe accorded more accurately with my memory, in that the frangipane and jam were placed on top of the pastry, rather than inside.  The results were much better.

Traditionally I think London Cheesecakes were round, but those available in Greggs(without the frangipane I think, or not very much of it) are square.  I guess this is to limit the wastage of pastry that results in cutting out circles.  Anyway, I made mine square, as I wasn't sure, after my first attempt, whether I would have enough pastry left.  I also think I cut them smaller than I needed to.  I made quite small ones, I think that a larger square, with a reduced number of cakes would actually have been better.  But I am very happy with the result.  I found the recipe on Bakinglady's blog

Now for the recipe, I did, as I mentioned earlier, make my own puff pastry.  That is likely to be the first and only time I do that.  It was a very long-winded exercise and, although it worked out fine, I was not confident of the results.  In fact it took a full 24 hours, resting the dough for 7 hours, then working it into layers, with resting again with each turn, and then resting overnight after that.   I am sure that shop bought puff pastry would be perfectly adequate.  So below I will simply detail what to do, assuming the puff pastry is already available.  If you wish to make your own you can check out Paul Hollywood's recipe here. As I said it works very well, but take a lot of time.

London Cheesecake

 I had half of my 600gram self made block of puff pastry left, but now recommend shop bought.  I think you can buy ready rolled as well.

375g sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
75g butter
75g caster sugar
75g self raising flour
1large egg, beaten
30g ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
200g Icing sugar, sieved
2 ½ tablespoons water
50g Sweetened shredded coconut( you can use dessicated as shredded is difficult to find, mine arrived courtesy of my sister in Canada, where it is to be found easily).

Preheat your oven to 180C/160 Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4
Cream the butter, sugar and almond extract together.
Slowly add the egg and mix thoroughly
Add the flour and ground almonds and mix together, then set aside.
Roll out the pastry and cut it into 12 squares (you can use rounds, but will waster pastry).
Place the squares on baking sheets(I used two sheets)
Put a teaspoon of jam in the middle of each square
Carefully cover the jam(entirely to avoid seepage) with the almond mixture( about a tablespoon)
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, ensuring that the mixture doesn't burn, but the pastry browns nicely.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool as you prepare the icing.
Take the icing sugar and add 2 tablespoons of water.  
Mix together to form a thick paste.  If it is too thick add a little more water, but only a little you don't want a loose icing)
Spoon icing onto each of the cooled cakes, using a spatula to spread it over the top.
Sprinkle coconut over the top of each cake and gently press into the icing.
Eat and enjoy this lovely cake.