Saturday, 28 February 2015

Lemon Shortbread Biscuits

I wanted to make some lemon biscuits, so that is what I did, and what a very nice biscuit they are too.

I started by searching around for a recipe.  The first I found was for something called Gooey Lemon Cookies.  But I was not convinced, by the listed ingredients, that they would effectively hold together.  So I abandoned that idea.  Instead I opted for a recipe for Lemon Cookies, on the Joyofbaking website.  That is a very nice website with some very good recipes.  I renamed the recipe, for my attempt, from cookies to shortbread biscuits, since shortbread is a biscuit, not a cookie.  The texture should be crisp and crunchy, with no soft centre.

Unlike most shortbreads this recipe includes egg yolks and it seems to have worked very well. The inclusion of lemon peel in the dough gives a nice, light lemon flavour.  Icing sugar mixed with a little lemon juice and drizzled over the top adds just a little extra sweetness and more lemon flavour.  That makes these a lovely accompaniment to a nice cup of tea.

Lemon Shortbread Biscuits

  • 2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (6 grams) freshly grated lemon zest (outer yellow skin of lemon) (about 1-2 large lemons)
  • 14 tablespoons (200 grams) unsaltedbutter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggyolks (35 grams), at room temperature
  • 2 cups (260 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (55 grams) confectioners sugar (powdered or icing sugar), sifted
  • 1-2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  1. In a small bowl mix the sugar with the lemon zest.
  2. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy smooth (1 - 2 minutes). Beat in the egg yolks. Scrape down the sides of your bowl as needed.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the flour mixture to the batter and beat just until the mixture starts to form large clumps. Divide the batter in half and shape each half into a log that is about 6 inches (15 cm) long and 2 inches (5 cm) wide. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until firm (at least four hours or up to three days). (Can freeze the unbaked logs for up to two months.)
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  5. Once the logs have become firm, with a sharp knife, slice each log into 1/4 inch (.5 mm) thick cookies. Place the cookies on your baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Bake for about15 - 18 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  6. Lemon Glaze: Place the confectioners sugar in a small bowl. Add enough lemon juice to make a mixture that flows slowly from your spoon. Drizzle the tops of the cookies with the glaze. Let dry for about 1-2 hours before placing in an airtight container.
Note:  On the Joyofbaking website is says this will make about 45 cookies, but for me it only made 24, which is ample, and they are of a reasonable size.  Which means that starting off with 2 6 inch blocks of dough, I must've cut thicker than recommended but which is ideal for my purposes.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Traditional Bread Pudding.

Bread Pudding!  That is something that brings back memories of childhood.  Being a heavy, stodgy and sweet pudding, made, usually, from stale bread.  It is simply lovely.  I decided to make it, from as traditional a recipe as I could find. 

I had to search around, since many recipes, particularly those from USA, which called themselves Bread Pudding are what we, in the UK, would really know as Bread and Butter pudding, which is something entirely different. One example of this was the Betty Crocker recipe, it uses a custard which is poured over the bread.  So although they call it Bread Pudding in the UK it would not be so. 

Anyway, after that little rant, I found a very nice recipe on BBC Good Food.  Although it varied from a few others that I checked I decided upon this as my first attempt.  I thought it sounded good and the reviews indicated that it is quite authentic, according to peoples memories of days gone by.  

The recipe is simple to follow, and doesn't have too many ingredients.  Once in the oven the room is filled with that lovely aroma of mixed spices and dried fruit.  I certainly enjoyed tasting the result, and am happy that it is very similar to what I remember from years ago.  Now I just have to see what my 'tasters' think of it.  Hopefully they will also enjoy it as much as I have.

Update: The 'tasters' all enjoyed it immensely, so I guess I shall be making it again soon.
Bread Pudding

  • 500g white or wholemeal bread
  • 500g/1lb 2oz mixed dried fruit
  • 85g mixed peel
  • 1 ½ tbsp mixed spice
  • 600ml milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 140g light muscovado sugar
  • zest 1 lemon (optional)
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp demerara sugar
  1. Tear the bread into a large mixing bowl and add the fruit, peel and spice. Pour in the milk, then stir or scrunch through your fingers to mix everything well and completely break up the bread. Add eggs, muscovado sugar and lemon zest if using. Stir well, then set aside for 15 mins to soak.
  2. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter and line the base of a 20cm non-stick square cake tin (not one with a loose base). Stir the melted butter into the pudding mixture, tip into the tin, then scatter with demerara sugar. Bake for 1½ hrs until firm and golden, covering with foil if it starts to brown too much. Turn out of the tin and strip off the paper. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Strawberry Muffins

I had some strawberries that needed to be used before they went past their best.  So I came up with the idea of some Strawberry Muffins.  I little research found me a few recipes but they were all rather different.  So I came up with my own, basing it on what I had read.

One tip that I did take, from a video I watched, was to chop the strawberries and mix them with some sugar, to draw out the excess liquid, so that the muffins wouldn't get too wet during cooking.

I cooked them for 15 minutes, but a toothpick inserted into a couple showed that they weren't ready.  So they went back in the oven for a further 5 minutes.  20 minutes total time and they were cooked just fine. 

As for taste, they have a lovely, subtle strawberry flavour, and are not too sweet.  So, I think, they could be ideal for those who often like a muffin for breakfast.  For me it is always muesli, so these will be eaten with a nice cup of tea, during the day.
Strawberry Muffins

Strawberry Muffins
180 grams of chopped strawberries(about 200g before chopping)
300 grams plain flour
150 grams caster sugar
2 extra tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
230 ml milk
60 ml vegetable oil
2 tablespoons strawberry jam, melted
3 medium eggs

Preheat the oven to 200c/180c Fan/400F
Remove the tops of the strawberries and discard
Chop the strawberries into fairly small pieces
Place in a bowl with the 2 tbsp caster sugar and mix.  This will allow excess juice to leak from the strawberries.
Mix the flour, baking powder and caster sugar in a bowl.
Melt the jam and mix, in another bowl with the milk and oil
Add the eggs and whisk to mix well
Pour the mixture into the flour mix and stir in to combine
As soon as combined drain the strawberries and add them to the mixture and gently mix in.
Divide the mixture equally between 12 muffin cups
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, test with a skewer to make sure they are cooked.
Allow to cool for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Welsh Rarebit Muffins

I wanted to make a savoury muffin, instead of the sweet ones I am going to do tomorrow.  I looked around to see what I could find, and came across this recipe for Welsh Rarebit Muffins, on BBC Food . For those who are not familiar with Welsh Rarebit it is more commonly known as cheese on toast.  So to find a muffin variant is interesting, to say the least.

As with most muffin recipes, this is quite easy to follow.  Just two bowls, one for dry and wet for wet ingredients. Then mix the two together and divide into the muffin cases. 

Nothing can really be much easier than that.  But the taste of the resulting muffins, with the cheesy flavour, enhanced with mustard and Worcester sauce is very good indeed.  They also look very nice, I think.

These muffins can easily be eaten at breakfast, or for a snack during the day.  I enjoyed eating one, which is quite surprising as I don't like cooked cheese at all.  But in a cooled muffin, as with a cheese scone, I can manage very well, thankyou!

Bearing in mind the fat content of the cheese I decided to use a zero fat Greek Yoghurt, and it worked very well indeed. I would also suggest using a very strong flavoured cheese to ensure that the flavour seeps into the muffin.
Welsh Rarebit Muffins
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ level tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ level tsp mustard powder
  • 100g strong cheese, half grated, half cubed
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 150g Greek yogurt(I used a zero fat version)
  • 125ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  1. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
  2. Mix together the self-raising and plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and mustard powder in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the cheese, oil, yogurt, milk, egg and Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Combine all the ingredients and divide between the muffin cases in the muffin tin.
  5. Place in the oven for 20-25 mins until golden. Remove and cool slightly on a rack.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Tarte Tatin

When I first started this blog the very first item I mentioned was Tarte Tatin.  However I hadn't anticipated doing a blog when I first tried the recipe, so I had no photograph to post.  I did promise to make it again, at some time and then post a photo.

So today I did just that, I made another tarte tatin.  As I said in my first post, this recipe doesn't use puff pastry.  It uses a shortcrust type pastry, but with a twist.  The pastry is frozen and then shredded, or grated onto the apples.

So when it cooks the pastry is more like a crumble, or a cake, topped with the gorgeous, caramel coated apple. 

This latest version has turned out very well indeed, and tastes wonderful.  I hope you will try the recipe, it is well worth the effort.

The recipe I followed, with some additional comments, is below:
Tarte Tatin
For the pastry
For the filling
  • 6 Braeburn apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8-12 wedges.  You can use other firm apples such as Cox's, but I just love Braeburns
  • ¼ lemon
  • 110g/4oz caster sugar
  • 110g/4oz butter
To serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 250C/500F/Gas 9.
  2. First, make the pastry. In a food processor, mix the flour, butter and icing sugar just until they resemble breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and, using the pulse button, mix until it comes together in a dough. Note:  I didn't have a food processor, so I crumbed the flour, butter and icing sugar between my fingertips.  Then when I achieved the breadcrumb state I added the other ingredients and mixed together. 
  3. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and divide into two pieces. Wrap in      clingfilm and put in the freezer to chill for at least an hour.
  4. For the filling, place the apple wedges in a bowl, squeeze the lemon juice over them and toss them gently.
  5. Sprinkle 3/4  of the sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan and place on the hob over a medium heat, turning the pan frequently and making sure the sugar doesn't burn. Allow the sugar to caramelise a little and become a pale golden brown, then remove from the heat and arrange the drained apple pieces in one layer over the bottom of the pan. Note:  do not be tempted to stir the sugar at all, or it will start to crystalise.  You can add just a little water at the start if you wish to help the sugar dissove. 
  6. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the apples have softened a bit and      started to release some liquid - about 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the remaining sugar and dot the butter on top. Remove the pastry from the freezer and, using the coarse side of a cheese grater, grate the pastry with long steady strokes over the apples until it forms an even layer at least 2.5cm/1 inch thick. Do not press      down. Return to the oven, turn the heat down to 220C/425F/Gas 7 and bake until the pastry is golden brown - about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for a minute or two.
  8. Take a heatproof serving dish that is generously larger than the pan on all sides and place over the pan. Protecting your hands with a dry folded tea-towel, and holding the dish and pan firmly together, quickly and carefully flip the pan and the dish so that the pan is on top. Tap the pan sharply a few times all round with a wooden spoon, then lift off. The tart should be left on the serving dish with the apple on top.
  9. Serve warm with double cream,  or vanilla ice cream.
The result of my first attempt was very good indeed.  This second attempt is, if anything even better.  Maybe that is a reflection of my confidence, since I have now been baking for about 8 months.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Abbey Crunch Biscuits

Years ago McVitie's used to have a wonderful biscuit called Abbey Crunch.  They don't seem to make it any more, and it is such a shame.  They tasted so good, with a crunchy at texture and a lovely flavour of golden syrup.  I just had to try to make some so I set about looking to see if I could find anything about them.

After searching for a while to find a recipe I did come across a few, all of which seem to be basically the same.  

They seemed to be in Imperial measures, so I have tried to adapt everything to metric. 

I have a sister who lives in Canada. She, being an aficionado of all things baked, particularly those which taste as heavenly as Abbey Crunch, saw the recipe and made some herself.  Her report back is that they taste delicious and are light and crunchy.  So please take that as a recommendation and make some of these yourselves, and report back in the comments section to let me know how you get on.

Abbey Crunch Biscuits

  • 140g Butter
  • 140g Caster Sugar
  • 140g Self raising flour
  • 112g Rolled oats
  • 15 ml Milk
  • 10 ml Golden Syrup
  • 1tsp Baking Soda

  1. Cream butter and sugar
  2. Mix in milk, soda and syrup
  3. Stir in flour and oats and mix well
  4. Roll into about 24 small balls and put on greased baking tray
  5. Cook for 25 mins on 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2 until golden brown in colour.
  6. Allow to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack until fully cooled and hardened.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Cardamom & Lemon Stamped Cookies

I found an interesting recipe for these Cardamom and Lemon biscuits(cookies) on the BBC Food site.  It is a recipe from The Hairy Bikers.  Since I had some cardamom that I had ground myself a few weeks ago, and a lemon that was sitting looking sorry for itself, I thought I would give them a try.

As with most biscuit recipes this is fairly simple.  The most difficult thing is to divide the dough into roughly equal portions.  I resorted to weighing the dough and dividing by 24 and then weighing enough for each portion. 

The resultant biscuits(cookies) are very good indeed.  They have that perfumed cardamom flavour, with just a little hint of lemon, as well as the lovely shortbread texture.  They go very well indeed with a nice, strong, cup of tea.  
Cardamom & Lemon Cookies

  • 225g/8 oz butter, softened
  • 150g/5½ oz caster sugar
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 250g/9 oz plain flour
  • 100g/3½ oz ground almonds
  • 3 tsp ground cardamom or 1 heaped tsp cardamom seeds, ground in a pestle and mortar
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Line 2 large baking trays with baking parchment.
  2. Using an electric hand-whisk, beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the flour, almonds and cardamom until the mixture is well combined and comes together to form a stiff dough.
  4. Roll the dough into 24 balls and place 12 on each baking tray – make sure you leave space between each one.
  5. Press each cookie with a cookie stamp or the bottom of a glass to flatten and leave decorative indentations in the dough.
  6. Bake a tray at a time for 12–14 minutes until the cookies are pale golden brown.
  7. Leave them to cool on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. They will crisp up as they cool. Store the cookies in an airtight tin and eat within 7 days.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Victoria Sponge, with Coconut and Pineapple Icing.

I had intended to make a Victoria Sponge cake with a pineapple filling.  But I had to change my plan, part way through.  Even after draining the crushed pineapple it was far to wet to contemplate putting in the middle of the cake.  It would also not mix well with a buttercream filling, making that too wet too.  So I abandoned that plan, but had already cooked the sponge layers.  So I opted instead for a buttercream filling and used some of the pineapple juice to create it icing on top, and then covered that with shredded coconut.  

I didn't ice all over the cake, since I tend to find too much makes it all rather too sweet for my taste.

It is disappointing when a plan doesn't come together.  But I am quite pleased with the eventual result.  I shall have to put more thought into how to use pineapple.  Meanwhile I now have a drained can of pineapple that will have to be used with my muesli each morning, until it has been used up.

Victoria Sponge with Coconut and Pineapple Icing

For the cake:
  • 3 large eggs, weighed in their shells
  • The same weight of soft lightly salted butter, caster sugar and self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 2tbsp milk
  • 5tbsp raspberry jam
  • Caster sugar, to top
For the buttercream:
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 50ml double cream
For the Icing:
100g Icing Sugar
2 tbsp pineapple juice(add a little more if required to make the icing just fluid enough to spread)
Shredded coconut to sprinkle all over the top of the take.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/gas mark 4) and grease and base-line 2 x 21cm sandwich tins. 
  2. Put the butter and sugar into a food mixer, or use a hand mixer to combine until light and really fluffy.
  3. Scrape down the sides, beat the eggs together, then add them to the mixture a little at a time. 
  4. Scrape the sides of the bowl down to make sure everything is mixed in properly.
  5. Fold in the flour, baking powder and salt, then add enough milk so that the mixture drops easily off a spoon, but does not run off. 
  6. Divide evenly between the tins, smooth the top and put in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and well risen: a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.
  7. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then put, flat-side down, on a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the buttercream by beating the butter until light and fluffy, then adding the sugar and cream and a pinch of salt. Beat together well, then set aside until the cake is cool.
  8. Place on cake layer on a plate and spread the buttercream over it(you can add a layer of jam if you wish, I didn't as I already intended to put coconut on top).
  9. Place the other cake layer on top of the buttercream.
  10. Mix the 100g icing sugar with the pineapple juice, until it is a smooth paste, of a consistency that can be spread over the top of the cake, without running down the sides.
  11. Sprinkle and gently press shredded coconut all over the top of the icing.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Mini Raspberry Victoria Sponge, with Chocolate Ganache

Victoria Sponge is a lovely, light cake.  In this version, of individual cakes, I have added freeze-dried raspberry powder to the sponge mixture to give it a little raspberry flavour.  Then a smear of raspberry jam on the bottom layer, covered with a nice chocolately buttercream before the top layer goes on.  The whole thing is then covered in a rich chocolate ganache.

That makes for a lovely, rich cake, with the lightness of the sponge offsetting the lovely ganache.

for the cakes:
  • 175g/6oz unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
  • 175g/6oz caster sugar
  • 3 large free-range eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175g/6oz self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp of raspberry powder
for the filling:
  • 50g/1¾oz good-quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
  • 100g/3½oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g/7oz icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • milk, if necessary to loosen the mixture.
  • 2 tbsp raspberry jam(jelly)
for the topping:
  • 227 grams semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 180 m) double cream
  • 28 grams unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 190C(170C fan)/375F/Gas 5. Lightly grease the mini cake tins with butter. (I used a square mini cake tin)
To make the cakes, cream the butter and caster sugar together until the mixture is pale and light. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
Sift the flour into the bowl and fold in until the mixture is glossy and smooth, and stir in the raspberry powder until combined.
Evenly divide the batter between the 12 holes and bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are soft and springy to the touch.
Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.
In a bain marie(double boiler) melt the 50 grams of chocolate
As it melts mix the softened 100 g of butter and icing sugar, and the vanilla extract.
Pour in the chocolate and mix together until it is all smooth. If the mixture seems a little too dry add a little milk to loosen it slightly.
When the cakes are cooled spread a teaspoon of jam over 6 of the cakes.  If necessary level the top of the cakes, with a knife, skimming off a little of the cake.
Cover the jam with a layer of buttercream, and level it off.
Place the remaining 6 cakes on top of those covered in buttercream.
Place the 227 grams of chocolate in a bowl.
Bring the cream and butter to a boil, in a saucepan.
As soon as it is boiling pour it over the chocolate and mix together, gently, until the chocolate is fully melted and mixed in with the cream and butter.
Allow to cool a little and then pour over each of the 6 Victoria Sponges, using a spatula to help level the sides, if there are gaps.
Allow to cool, in a refrigerator. 
Take out of the refrigerator at least an hour before serving, so the chocolate and the cake has softened a little.

Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes

Cupcakes is a departure for me, having never made them before.  But I had a Victoria Sponge recipe that I wanted to try, with some freeze-dried raspberry powder.  I have another recipe that I want to use it for, but thought I would try out the cupcakes first.

It all went quite easily, as you would expect with a cupcake, and the flavour and aroma of raspberry was just sufficiently evident to make the experiement worthwhile.  Adding some raspberry jam(jelly)  just makes them extra special, and the chocolate buttercream finishes everything off very well.

Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes
for the cakes
  • 175g/6oz unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
  • 175g/6oz caster sugar
  • 3 large free-range eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175g/6oz self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp of raspberry powder
for the topping:
50g/1¾oz good-quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
100g/3½oz unsalted butter, softened
200g/7oz icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
milk, if necessary to loosen the mixture.
4 tbsp raspberry jam(jelly)

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C(170C fan)/375F/Gas 5. Lightly grease the tins with butter.
  2. To make the cakes, cream the butter and caster sugar together until the mixture is pale and light. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
  3. Sift the flour into the bowl and fold in until the mixture is glossy and smooth, and stir in the raspberry powder until combined.
  4. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers
  5. Evenly divide the batter between the 12 holes and bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are soft and springy to the touch.
  6. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.
  7. When cool scoop a little hole in the centre top of each cupcake and replace with a teaspoon of raspberry jam
  8. In a bain marie(double boiler) melt the chocolate
  9. As it melts mix the softened butter and icing sugar, and the vanilla extract.
  10. Pour in the chocolate and mix together until it is all smooth. If the mixture seems a little too dry add a little milk to loosen it slightly.
  11. Scoop the buttercream mixture into an icing bag with a start nozzle, and pipe onto each cupcake.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Brioche à Tête

A while back I made some Brioche, from a Paul Hollywood recipe, it turned out very well indeed, as you can see here. Today I decided that I would use the same recipe to try to make some Brioche à Tête, which are rolls, with a little 'head' on them.  

I did check out some specific recipes for these, but I decided to use the Hollywood recipe again, and just adjust the instructions after the dough had been rested in the fridge overnight.

I cant claim that the result look as good as the professionals, but they turned out well enough, and taste great.  Also I don't have Brioche tins so I used a muffin tin instead, which doesn't give the pretty fluted edge, but still works fine.

If you try to make these, and follow the recipe below, using a muffin tin you should get about 16 buns/rolls.

Brioche à Tête

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
7g salt
50g caster sugar
10g instant yeast
140ml warm full-fat milk
5 medium eggs
250g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the milk and eggs and mix on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for a further 6 – 8 minutes, until you have a soft, glossy, elastic dough.
Add the softened butter and continue to mix for a further 4 – 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl periodically to ensure that the butter is thoroughly incorporated. The dough will be very soft.
Tip the dough into a plastic bowl, cover and chill overnight or for at least 7 hours, until it is firmed up and you are able to shape it.
Lightly dust the worktop with flour and tip out the dough onto it
Knock the dough down and fold it into itself a few times.
Roll the dough into a sausage and divide into 16 pieces, about 75grams each.
Grease your muffin tins.
Heat the oven to 185c/165 c Fan/ Gas Mark 4 1/2/ 362F
Roll each piece of dough into a sausage, about 3 inches long.
Using the side of your hand roll and indentation into the dough, dividing into 1 third, to 2 thirds.  Roll gently, stretching the neck of the indentation slightly.  
Flatten the larger part of the dough and make a hole in the middle, with your thumbs. 
Pull the head, which is attached to the neck of the dough, through the hole and gently form the roll into a round, place in the muffin tin, as level as possible.
Gently press the head into the rest of the dough, 
Repeat the process for all the remaining 15 portions of dough
Cover and allow to rest until they have doubled in size
Using a beaten egg brush the buns to lightly cover and then sprinkle some preserving sugat(or any that has those nice large granularity)
Place in the oven, on the middle shelf, and bake for 15 minutes
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about one minute.  
Tip out onto a cooling rack.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Devonshire Scones

Scones, filled with cream and jam are a lovely treat with afternoon tea.  I really enjoy them, and found a nice, and easy, recipe from Mary Berry .

The recipe will make a good 18 - 24 scones, with a 5cm cutter, depending on the thickness of the dough.  They take no time at all to prepare and only 10-15 minutes to cook, so they are ideal for making on the you wish to eat them.  They are also best eaten fresh, though you can freeze them for later too.

I made mine in a stand mixer, rather than a food processor.  As the mixer was already out on the counter.  They turned out well, so I think doing it like that, or as Mary suggests in a processor, or even by hand it fine.  The important thing is not to overwork the dough and try to keep the air in.
Devonshire Scone with Cream and Strawberry Jam
  • 450g (1 lb) self-raising flour
  • 2 rounded teaspoons baking powder
  • 75g (3 oz) butter, at room temperature
  • 50g (2 oz) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • about 225 ml (8 fl oz) milk
Makes about 20 scones
  1. Lightly grease two baking trays. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7.
  2. Measure the flour and baking powder into a processor. Add the butter and process until a crumble, then add the sugar. Or make by hand by rubbing the butter into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  3. Beat the eggs together until blended and make up to a generous 300ml (1/2 pint) with the milk, then put about 2 tablespoons of the egg/milk aside in a cup for glazing the scones later. Gradually add the egg/milk mixture to the dry ingredients until you have a soft dough. It is far better that the scone mixture is on the wet side, sticking to your fingers, as the scones will rise better.
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and flatten it out with your hand, or use a rolling pin, to a thickness of 1-2 cm (1/2 – ¾ inch). Use a 5 cm (2 inch) fluted cutter to stamp out the dough by pushing the cutter straight down into the dough (as opposed to twisting the cutter) then lift it straight out. This ensures that the scones will rise evenly and keep their shape. Gently push the remaining dough together, knead very lightly then re-roll and cut more scones out as before. 
  5. Arrange the scones on the prepared baking trays and brush the tops with the reserved beaten egg/milk mixture to glaze. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the scones are well risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack, covered with a clean tea towel to keep them moist. Serve as fresh as possible, cut in half and spread generously with strawberry jam and top with a good spoonful of thick cream.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Tres Leches Cake

This cake, Tres Leches, is one that I had never heard of before.  From Mexico it is a sponge cake, infused with three milks, condensed, evaporated and full milk.  It sounded interesting, but I wondered whether it might be too sweet for the English palate.  But hey! You will never know until you try it, so I decided to give it a go. 

I did some research, on several recipes, and watched a few videos too and, as with all these things, everyone has a slightly different way to make the cake.  From the mixture of milks, to the type of flour to be used, and even to adding rum, or banana, everyone seems to do it differently. Still more difference is that some separate the eggs and mix the yolks in with the butter and then flour, and then whisk the whites with sugar and fold in.  Others don't separate the eggs at all.  So I guess you pays your money and takes your chance, so to speak.  For ease, being of a fairly lazy disposition, I opted for the whole egg method.

The pan to use is also different across the recipes, and I opted for a 9 inch springform pan, and cooked my cake for 35 minutes, until the centre was cooked.  I didn't worry about with the edge might go slightly dry, since it was to be soaked in the milk, so it would not end up dry.  If using the same recipe, but with a 9x13 pan the cooking time should be adjusted to about 25 minutes to achieve the same result.

It is usual to top the cake with some whipped cream, though I am not entirely sure this is necessary.  But for authenticity I suppose it is ok, or just serve a scoop of cream on the side.

Well having completed the cake I can report that it is certainly very different from anything I have tried before.  But it does have a lovely, sweet, creamy flavour.  Maybe a tad too sweet for my taste. The texture is unusual too, as you would expect, having poured all that milk into it.  Very nice to have as a dessert.  I bet, though I am not not a fan of spicy food, that it would be the perfect ending to a nice Mexican dinner.
Tres Leches Cake

for the cake:

  • 190 grams self raising flour, plus extra for dusting the cake pan
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 113 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 225 grams caster sugar
  • 5 medium eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract

for the 3 milk infusion:
  • 1 can(397 grams) condensed milk
  • 1 can(410 grams) evaporated milk
  • 250 ml whole milk

for the topping(if you want one)
  • 300 ml double cream
  • 200 grams icing sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 175C/155C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4. 
  2. Lightly oil and flour a 9 inch springform pan or 13 by 9-inch metal  and set aside.
  3. Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy. 
  5. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar.
  6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. 
  7. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine. 
  8. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. 
  9. Add the flour mixture to the batter one third at a time and mix just until combined. 
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. . Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35 minutes, if using the springform pan, or 25 minutes if using teh 13x9 pan, or until the cake is lightly golden and a skewer comes out clean.
  11. Allow the cake to cook on a wire rack, removing from the pan after 5 minutes.
  12. Place the cake in another pan, larger than the diameter of the cake.  Use a fork, or a pointed knife, to make holes all over the top of the cake.
  13. Mix the condensed, evaporated and full milks together, whisking to combine.
  14. Then slowly pour the mixture over the cake.  It doesn't all have to be poured at once.  Do it slowly, allowing time for the milk to be absorbed.  Some will run over the edge, hence the larger pan.  
  15. Once all the milk has been poured over place the cake in the refrigerator, for at least 4 hours.  This will allow it to firm up a little, as it will be very soggy having had all that milk poured over it.
  16. When it is firm, beat the cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract together until it has thickened nicely.
  17. Then you can either spread it over the top of the cake, or serve it separately.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies

Having discovered whoopie pies last week I thought I would give them a second outing, but this time using ginger.  I love gingerbread, with its' sticky texture and its' molasses and ginger rich flavour.  I checked out a few recipes and it seems that a popular filling for this type of whoopie pie is a cream cheese based one.  So that is what I decided upon too.  

I used a whoopie pie tin, a twelve whole tin with very shallow holes.  I wanted to try to get the pie the same size, and as I am not a very accurate piper, or dolloper, I thought the tin would be the best idea. 

You just have to make sure that the level of mixture is about the same in each hole, once it has settled.  Also you only need to put about a tablespoon and a half of mixture in each hole.

The results are out of the oven and have been filled with the cream cheese filling.  They look quite good and taste great.

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies
  • 280 grams plain flour
  • 100 grams caster sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125ml molasses
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 80 ml vegetable oil
  • 80 ml boiling water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 225 grams cream cheese
  • 375 gram icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 62 gram butter

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C/350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, or lightly grease a whoopie pie tin.  
  2. Combine flour, white sugar, molasses, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. 
  3. Mix in vegetable oil and egg until combined. 
  4. Pour in boiling water and whisk until smooth.
  5. Spoon the mixture in amounts of about 1.5 tablespoons onto the baking sheet/pan  (if you only have one whoopie pie pan, like me you will need to do it in two batches.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until puffed and golden, about 12 minutes. Allow to cool on the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring onto a rack to cool completely.
  7. Beat icing sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer on low until combined. Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy.
  8. Spread about 2 teaspoons of filling onto the bottom of a cookie; top with another similarly sized cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies. Chill for 30 minutes.