Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Apricot & Walnut Muffins

I just love apricots, and thought they would be very good in a nice, plain muffin.  But I wanted a little bit of crunch too, so I thought to make some Apricot Muffins with Walnuts.

As with all muffins recipes this one is very simple, one bowl with dry ingredients, once with wet ingredients, mix them together and add the stars of the show, apricots and walnuts.  That it all there is too it, except for baking of course.

Now the recipe does call for buttermilk, which I know many people don't ordinarily have in their fridge.  But that is not a problem as you can easily make your own version.  Simply take 250ml of milk(whole or 2% is fine) and add a tablespoon of lemon juice, or white vinegar to it and stir it in then leave it for 5 to 10 minutes.  That will give you a nice buttermilk, thinner that shop bought, but just as effective.

The muffins dont take long in the oven, and they rise to a nice dome as they bake.  Then it is simply a case of taking them out to cool and, if you wish, brushing some melted apricot jam over the tops to give them a nice sheen and a little extra hit of flavour.

Mine turned out very well, looking very nice and tasting just as good. Moist on the inside with the lovely apricot flavour and the crunch of some walnuts as well.

Apricot & Walnut Muffins

Apricot and Walnut Muffins


  • 130g dried apricots, chopped into pieces
  • 30g walnuts chopped or broken into small pieces
  • 250ml boiling water
  • 250g plain flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 60ml unsalted butter, melted
  • 60ml vegetable oil
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 225ml buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam, melted - optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c Fan/390 F/Gas mark 6
  2. Line a muffin tin with paper cups or tulips, or grease the tin itself.
  3. Place the chopped apricots in a bowl and cover with boiling water and leave to soak for at least 5 minutes.
  4. Mix the flour, baking soda, salt and caster sugar together in a bowl and set aside.
  5. In another bowl whisk the melted butter, oil, buttermilk and egg together until combined.
  6. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ones in.  Stir with a wooden spoon, gently, until the mixture is just combined.
  7. Strain the apricots, discarding the water.
  8. Add the apricots and walnuts to the mixture and stir in, gently, until combined. Do not stir too much, you just want everything combined.  Lumps are fine.
  9. Divide the mixture into 12 muffin cups and bake in the oven for 18 minutes.
  10. Test with a skewer to see the middle is cooked and remove from the oven.
  11. Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then remove to a wire rack.
  12. If desired brush some melted apricot jam over the top as a nice, tasty, glaze.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Sticky Toffee Muffins/Sticky Date Muffins

Having much enjoyed making Sticky Toffee Pudding, known in some places as Sticky Date Pudding I thought I would try to make some muffins of a similar nature.  So today I present my Sticky Toffee Muffins.

I did make a slight change, from the pudding, using light muscovado sugar rather than dark, as I wanted the pudding to be slightly lighter in colour.  Made from the residue of molasses the dark sugar has a slightly more intense flavour.  I wanted it to be just a little lighter this time. I also blitzed the soaked dates a little to make more of a puree than chunks of dates that would go in the pudding, that was in an attempt to make the texture more like a muffin.

The other difference is that I didn't soak the muffins in the toffee sauce immediately after baking, as you do with the pudding.  I wanted to be able to remove them from the tin and for them to stand up, which they may not do if too wet.

Of course you have to have a toffee sauce too, so I made that as well, otherwise the epithet sticky toffee wouldn't apply.

I am very pleased indeed with the result of the muffins, baked in the tin, rather than in paper cups. They stand up very well and with some of the toffee sauce poured over them and a little whipped cream on the side they really do make a lovely dessert, to be eaten warm or cold.

My goodness they do taste good.

Sticky Toffee Muffin
For the muffins
  • 250g pitted dates, chopped into pieces
  • 250ml water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 140g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 medium eggs (lightly beaten). in USA that would be large eggs
For the toffee sauce:
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 75g dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • 125 ml double cream
For the whipped cream:
  • 125g double cream
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  1. Place the chopped dates in a saucepan and sprinkle the baking soda over them.
  2. Add the water into the saucepan and stir. Leave for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan/350F/gas 4.
  4. Lightly grease a 12 hole muffin tin.
  5. Bring the chopped date mixture to the boil and take off the heat.
  6. Add the butter and stir to dissolve.  Set aside to cool a little.
  7. Blitz the mixture in a food processor, or mash by hand until you have a chunky sort of puree.
  8. Sift the flour into a large bowl.
  9. Make sure there are no lumps in the muscovado sugar and add to the flour.  If there are some lumps you can rub the sugar and flour between your fingers to eliminate them.
  10. Make a well in the flour/sugar mixture and pour in the eggs, vanilla extract and the date mixture.
  11. Stir together until just combined
  12. Divide among the muffin tins(the mixture may almost come up to the top as the baking soda will have made the date mixture rather fluffy) and bake for 20 mins.
  13. Test with a skewer and if it comes out clean remove the muffins from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Then take the muffins out of the tin and place on a wire rack that has some baking parchment on it(that is to stop the muffins from sticking to the rack).
  14. Now to make the toffee sauce, put the butter, muscovado sugar, golden syrup and cream in a pan over a low heat. 
  15. Stir to combine, and bring to the boil.
  16. As soon as it reaches a boiling point reduce the heat and simmer for 10 mins until thickened.
  17. Remove from the heat and allow the sauce to cool to room temperature.
  18. For the whipped cream simply add the icing sugar to the double cream and whip until it is nice and thick and can be spooned on to the side of the plate next to the muffin.  The toffee sauce can be poured over the muffin, and even a little over the cream if you like.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Dark Chocolate Chip, Pistachio & Sea Salt Cookies

I came across what seems to be a very nice recipe for Chocolate Chip and Pistachio cookies, with some sea salt sprinkled on the top.  It was on Two Peas & Their Pod. That recipe is in cups for measurements and in my version below I have converted to grams, since I find it easier working with metric measurements.  

The promise of lovely 70% dark chocolate with the pistachios and a hit of salt too was just too good to pass up.

As with most cookies they are very simple to make and are very rewarding to eat, once cooled.

I am pleased with how mine turned out and they taste delicious too, so I am sure they are quite close to the originals.

I only got 23 rather than 24 from the recipe but that is because a couple of mine are rather larger than the others.  Not to worry though, I will be eating them before anyone else sees them.
Chocolate Chip, Pistachio and Sea Salt Cookies
  • 190g all-purpose flour/plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 160 light brown sugar
  • 1 medium egg,(large in USA)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 65g chopped pistachios, shells removed (I left mine whole)
  • 150g chopped dark chocolate
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling on cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper and set aside.
    In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
    Using a mixer, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
    With the mixer on low, slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated.
    Stir in the pistachios and chocolate chunks. 
  2. Using a spoon or cookie scoop, form tablespoons size balls of cookie dough. 
  3. Place balls on prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. 
  4. Sprinkle cookie dough balls with sea salt. Bake cookies for 12 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. 
  5. Let cookies sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.
  6. Store in an air-tight container for up to 4 days.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Coconut & Chocolate Chip Muffins

I had an idea for some muffins, based on my home made bounty bars from a few months ago.
So I needed chocolate, coconut and condensed milk.  Then it was a question of how much of each and how to combine them into a muffin mix.

I think I came up with quite a good ratio of each to the others and ended up with a lovely tasting muffin.  Usually with muffins you might have some yoghurt, buttermilk or milk in them, and sugar.  But since I was using condensed milk, which is already wet and quite sweet I didn't need the other, apart from a couple of tablespoons of milk to mix into the condensed milk to make it more workable.

Testing with a skewer is a bit hit and miss, since the chocolate chips will melt during cooking, but about 20 minutes in the oven is just about right.

They turned out to be nice and moist, just how I like a muffin to be, and the coconut gives them a nice texture too. The flavour is very good indeed, I heartily recommend these muffins.

The recipe below will make about 12 decent sized muffins.
Chocolate Chip & Coconut Muffins

  • 190g Plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 120g shredded coconut
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 medium egg(in USA that would be large)
  • 240ml condensed milk
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 60ml vegetable oil
  • 120g milk chocolate chips(dark is fine)
  • extra coconut for sprinkling on the top

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/375 F
  2. Line a muffin tin with cases
  3. Mix the dry ingredients, flour, cocoa powder, coconut, baking powder, together in a large bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl mix the condensed milk with the milk to loosen the mixture.  
  5. Add the egg and the oil and mix in.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix, until just combined.(hold back a few to place on the top)
  7. Add in the chocolate chips and mix again.
  8. Divide the mixture into the muffin cases.
  9. Sprinkle over the extra coconut over the top of each muffin and add a few chocolate chips.
  10. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Fruit & Nut Biscotti

Looking in the cupboard to see what was available I found a few things that I thought would be good together in a nice biscotti biscuit.

I love biscotti, the twice baked biscuits that are an ideal accompaniment to tea or coffee.  So with some pistachios, flaked almonds, raisins and dried canberries I was all set to get baking.  

Of course, if you decide to make some yourself you can put in whatever you want.  The only thing I would suggest is that you dont put wet fruit in, just dried things such as blueberries, currants, etc, and if they are large I suggest chopping them as well.

To add a little extra flavour I added some mixed spice as well, which gives a lovely aroma during cooking as well as a very nice taste.

No equipment other than a bowl is needed, and your arms get a nice workout whilst making the dough, so that is an added bonus when making these, since the dough takes some working to get all the ingredients combined.
Fruit & Nut Biscotti


350g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
250g golden caster sugar
3 medium eggs, beaten
coarsely grated zest 1 orange
85g raisins, chopped slightly
85g dried cranberries
50g almond flakes
50g shelled pistachios

Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/350F. Line a  baking sheet with baking paper. 
Put the flour, baking powder, spice and sugar in a large bowl, then mix well. 
Stir in the eggs and zest until the mixture starts forming clumps, then bring the dough together with your hands.  This will take a while but keep at it until all the flour in incorporated.
Mix the fruit and the nuts together and then add to the dough and work in completely.
Lightly flour your work surface and divide the dough into two piece.
Roll each piece into a sausage about 10 inches long.
Press each sausage down to flatten the top, trying to make the width even along the whole length.
Place each sausage onto the lined baking tray and place in then oven for about 30 minutes. By which time the dough should have risen slightly and feel firm to the touch.
Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack for a at least 10 minutes.
As soon as they are out of the oven turn it down to 140C/fan 120C/285F.
Using a serrated knife, cut into slices about 1/2 an inch thick on the diagonal, then lay the slices flat on the baking sheets. 
Bake for another 15 mins, then turn them over, and bake again for another 15 mins until dry and golden. 
Tip onto a wire rack to cool completely, then store in an airtight container.  They will be good to eat for at least one month.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Choux Pastry Cream Puffs - with Caramel and Strawberries

I became more than a little adventurous today, deciding to make choux pastry again.  This time I decided on a sort of cream puff, but instead of just whipped cream I decided to put some strawberry slices in as well and then top with a lovely caramel icing, and let it drip down the side a little.

For the choux pastry I read several recipes and decided go with the one on Joy of Baking . But I departed from the recipe for the filling and icing, and also for the size of the buns.

I must say I am very pleased with the result of the bake, though I could have used just a little more cream in the filling.  But since I only had 300ml on hand that is all I could use.  Nevertheless there is ample cream in each bun and the strawberries give a lovely flavour hit, mixing very nicely with the sweet caramel topping.

The recipe below will make six buns of about 3 inches in diameter, which is a great size for one person to really enjoy.
Cream Puff with strawberry slices and caramel icing

For the choux pastry:
  • 65 g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 57 g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 120 ml water
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
For the filling:

  • 300ml double cream
  • six small, ripe, strawberries hulled and sliced into about 4 pieces
  • 2 tbps icing sugar

For the caramel topping:
  • 250g butter
  • 3 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 70ml double cream
  • 50-100g icing sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C/180C Fan) and place rack in center of oven. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly butter or spray the pan with a non stick vegetable spray.
In a bowl sift or whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.

Place the butter and water in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. (Make sure that the butter melts before the water boils to reduce the amount of evaporation.) 
Remove from heat and, with a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture, all at once, and stir until combined. 
Return saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about 1-2 minutes). 
Transfer the dough to your electric mixer, or use a hand mixer, and beat on low speed to release the steam from the dough (about a minute). 
Once the dough is lukewarm start adding the lightly beaten eggs (dough will separate and then come together) and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste (dough will fall from a spoon in a thick ribbon). 
Spoon or pipe 6 mounds of dough, about 2.5 - 3 inches in diameter onto the baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. (you can make smaller if you wish).
Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C/160c). Continue to bake for a further 30 to 35minutesor until the shells are a nice amber color and when split, are almost dry inside. 
Turn the oven off, poke a couple of holes in each puff and, with the oven door slightly ajar, let the shells completely cool (and dry out). 
To make the sauce, heat the butter, brown sugar and cream  together in a small pan for 5 mins, stirring now and again until silky and smooth. 
Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes, then add the icing sugar and stir to fully combine.  You can vary the amount of icing sugar to obtain the consistency you want.
Whisk the double cream and the 2tbsp icing sugar together until it has thickened and stands up in stiff peaks.
Cut each of the puffs in half and pipe or spoon cream into the base, place slices of strawberry on top of the cream and then add more cream on top of the strawberry slices.
Place the top half of the puff on top of the cream and gently ice with the caramel topping, allowing it to slightly drip down the sides.
Place in the fridge to cool, and until they are to be eaten.  Of course these are best eaten on the day they are made.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Treacle Tart

Treacle Tart is a British favourite, and is ideal with some nice, creamy custard.  It will go just as well with cream or ice-cream, so whichever takes one's fancy it just fine. When I was at school it was served with custard.

Although called treacle tart the main ingredient is actually golden syrup.  Those who cant find golden syrup can easily make it themselves, or they can substitute corn syrup instead.  The major difference between the two is that golden syrup is made with slices of lemon used to infuse during making.  The lemons are then discarded.  So for this recipe, which already uses the zest of a lemon corn syrup will work just fine.

The base is a shortcrust pastry, and the scraps can be used to put a lattice type top to the tart, if required.

You can use shop bought pastry, though I prefer to make my own.  I love the smell of pastry cooking and the added sweet aroma of the golden syrup really makes me want to taste it as soon as possible. There is also a nice hint of lemon, from the zest, as it cooks.

Mine turned out very nicely, I think, and it certainly tastes how I remember from many years ago. It is a simple to make tart with a delicious flavour, so I recommend people to try this one.
Treacle Tart with whipped cream


For the pastry:
  • 275g plain flour
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 140g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 3-4 tbsp water
For the filling:
  • 350g golden syrup
  • 150g fresh white or brown breadcrumbs(or a mixture of both is fine)
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp double cream
  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch of salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  1. Make the pastry by mixing the flour and caster sugar together, preferably in a food processor. 
  2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. 
  3. Add  just enough water to bring the pastry together. 
  4. Remove from the processor and gently squeeze into a ball. 
  5. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/gas mark 6. 
  7. Place a heavy baking tray in the oven.
  8. Grease a 23cm round flan tin or cake tin.
  9. Remove the pastry from the fridge, cutting one third of it and place that back in the fridge, wrapped in cling film.
  10. Roll out the remaining two thirds of the pastry to 4mm thick. Line the flan tin with the rolled out pastry.
  11. You can leave the excess over the edge at this stage.
  12. Prick the base with a fork.  Cover with clingfilm again and place back in the fridge.
  13. Warm the golden syrup slightly to make it easier to mix with the other ingredients.
  14. Melt the butter and stir into the golden syrup.
  15. Beat the cream and egg together and add in the lemon zest and salt.
  16. Mix the golden syrup and cream mixtures together and stir in the breadcrumbs.
  17. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut into about 12 strips. You can make a nice lattice, threading the strips over and under each other, but I don't bother, as I will explain.
  18. Remove the flan tin from the fridge and pour the muxture into it.
  19. Slightly wet the edge of the pastry around the flan tin.
  20. Take six strips of rolled out pastry and lay them all in the same direction across the flan, leaving a nice gap between each.
  21. Lay the other 6 strips across the flan, making a criss cross effect.
  22. Press the edges down against the dampened edge of the pastry case.
  23. Trim off any excess.
  24. Place the tart in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  25. Reduce the heat to 180c/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4 and bake for a further 20 minutes, or slightly longer if the pastry isn't nice and golden.
  26. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely in the tin.  Then you  can turn it out and serve it, with custard, cream or ice cream.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Sticky Citrus Sponge Cake

I found this lovely recipe of BBC Good Food .  Certainly reading the recipe and looking at the photo I was impressed.  The idea of a sponge cake, flavoured with orange zest and chopped pieces, topped with more orange, this time slices, and coated in golden syrup sound simply wonderful. With the syrup and the ground almonds included you cannot expect the cake to be as light as a Victoria Sponge, but it should still be delicious.

It is also a simple recipe to follow, since most of the ingredients go into the bowl at the same time, for mixing. The only ones that don't are put straight into the cake tin, the golden syrup and the orange slices.  The recipe called for a 23cm round cake tin, which I dont have, but some research convinced me that for the amount of mixture fitting into a 23cm round tin a 20cm/8inch square tin is just as good.  So the 8 inch square tin is what I used.  The lovely aroma of orange filled the room as the baked, whetting the appetite well and truly.

The only thing about the recipe on BBC Good Food that I was not happy with was an instruction to make a deep hollow in the centre of the batter, once it is in the tin.  The purpose is to stop the centre rising too high. The instruction was far too vague, so I opted to try a different solution to get an level-ish cake.  I wrapped to layers of brown paper on the outside of the cake tin.  That stops the outside of the cake cooking to quickly and, thereby, not rising. It should therefor allow the ouside edges of the cake to rise nicely, to about the same level as the centre.  As you can see from the photo below, my plan with paper worked out just fine.  I am very pleased indeed.
Sticky Citrus Sponge Cake

  • 4 medium oranges
  • 6 tbsp golden syrup, plus extra to serve, optional
  • 200g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 4 large eggs
  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C/fan/gas 4/350F. Grease a 23cm round cake tin or a 20cm square cake tin
  2. Finely grate the zest from 2 oranges into a large bowl. 
  3. Cut the peel and pith from all the oranges with a serrated knife, and slice quite thickly.
  4. Drizzle the golden syrup evenly over the base of the cake tin. There is no need to line the tin and it shouldn’t have a loose bottom otherwise the syrup will bubble through. 
  5. Arrange the best orange slices on top of the syrup and finely chop any that don’t fit.
  6. Put all the remaining ingredients in the bowl with the zest and chopped orange. 
  7. Beat with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Spoon on top of the oranges, spread lightly and make a deep hollow in the centre of the mix with the back of a spoon – this will ensure that the cake rises evenly.(For my cake I didn't make the hollow I simply wrapped the tin in two layer of brown paper.)
  8. Bake for 45-50 mins until firm when pressed. 
  9. Allow to settle for 5 mins before turning out. Drizzle with golden syrup if you like, and serve with custard or ice cream.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Gypsy Tart

Gypsy Tart is a dessert that used to be served, as I remember, as part of our school dinners, in the 1960s.  It seems that this tart originated in Kent, a county in the South East of England. 

Consisting of only shortcrust pastry and two other ingredients it is the sort of thing that anyone can try, particularly if they use ready made pastry, or pastry cases.

I always like to make my own pastry, particularly shortcrust, since I seem to have hit on a method that turns out very well time after time.

The only other ingredients evaporated milk(though some people use condensed milk, though this would make it even sweeeter) and dark muscovado sugar.  This sugar has a distinct molasses flavour and comes from the juice of sugar cane and is produced by evaporation until crystalisation occurs.

The resultant tart is a nice short pastry and a mousse-like filling which is very sweet and the distinct caramel and molasses flavour.

The recipe below actually makes twice as much pastry as is needed to line a 23cm tart tin.  So the other half can be frozen, for at least a couple of months, and used at a later date.  The filling mixture also makes more than needed to fill my tart tin.  But to some extent that depends on the depth of the tin.  Mine is only 2.5cm deep, and some are at least 1cm deeper.  But I just poured the extra mixture into a small ovenproof dish and cooked it as well.

My tart turned out very well, thankfully and tastes delicious.  It should be served cold and I would suggest adding some fruit compote, such as raspberry, to add a touch of tartness.
Gypsy Tart
For the pastry:
  • 350 gplain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 30 g granulated white sugar
  • 226 g unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 60 - 120 ml ice water
For the filling:
  • 400g evaporated milk
  • 340g dark muscovado sugar
  1. Place one tin of evaporated milk into the fridge to chill for several hours.
  2. In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds).
  3. Pour 60 ml water in a slow, steady, stream through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water. Do not process more than 30 seconds.
  4. Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball.
  5. Divide the dough in half, flattening each half into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour before using. Since the recipe makes twice as much pastry as needed one of the discs can be frozen to use later.
  6. After the dough has chilled sufficiently, remove from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured surface. 
  7. Roll the pastry into a 12 inch (30 cm) circle. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the centre of the pastry outwards).) 
  8. Fold the dough in half and gently transfer to a 9 inch (23 cm) pie pan. Brush off any excess flour and trim the edges of the pastry to fit the pie pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  9. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F.
  10. Remove the pastry from the fridge and prick all over with a fork.
  11. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with baking beans(or rice).
  12. Blind bake the pastry for 15 minutes.
  13. Remove from the oven and empty the beans and paper.
  14. Replace the pastry in the oven for 5-10 minutes to finish cooking the base completely.
  15. Remove the pastry from the oven and allow to cool.
  16. Place the sugar and evaporated milk into a stand mixer and whisk for at least 15 minutes, until it is light, frothy and thickened.
  17. Pour the filling into the pastry case until it is just below the rim.
  18. Place the filled pastry case in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, until cooked and slightly tacky to the touch.
  19. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin, completely, before placing in the fridge.
  20. Serve cold.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Gingerbread Cake with Creamy Lemon Frosting

I love ginger, in almost any form and the thought of some gingerbread fairly sets me salivating.  So I decided upon Gingerbread Cake with a Creamy Lemon Frosting.  The first thing to do, of course, is to make the gingerbread cake and allow it to cool completely.

Then a nice frosting, with cream cheese, lemon, or lemon curd and icing sugar smoothed over the top of the cake before cutting into squares  turns the whole thing into a wonderful tasting treat.

As ever the aroma from the oven whilst the cake is baking is just fantastic, all that gingery goodness filling the room.

Gingerbread Cake with Creamy Lemon Frosting
For the cake:
  • 113 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 110 g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 50 g granulated white sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 120 ml black treacle or molasses
  • 260g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tspground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • Zest of 1 lemon or orange
  • 240 ml milk, at room temperature
For the Frosting:
  • 170g cream cheese
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 60ml lemon curd
  • 320g icing sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C160C Fan/350F
  2. Grease and flour and 8 inch square cake tin at least 2 inches deep. It is a good idea to also line the base of the tin with parchment paper since the cake is moist and this will help prevent any possibility of sticking to the bottom.
  3. Line the outside of the cake tin with brown paper, tied with string (this is to stop the sides of the cake baking too quickly and not rising in line with the rest of the cake).
  4. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and cloves  into a large bowl and then set aside.
  5. In a stand mixer(or a hand held mixer) cream the butter.
  6. Add both sugars and mix until light and fluffy.
  7. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until comined.
  8. Add the black treacle or molasses and beat until combined.
  9. Grate the zest from a lemon or orange and add to the dry mixture, stirring in with a whisk.
  10. Add the flour to the mixer, in 3 stages, alternating with half the milk between stages.
  11. Mix until just combined.
  12. Pour the batter into the cake tin and shake to level it out nicely.
  13. Bake in the oven for about 40-45 minutes, until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean.  It is best to check this after about 35 minutes so you can gauge how much longer to cook for.
  14. Remove from the oven and place the tin on a cooling rack to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  15. Remove the cake from the tin and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
  16. Beat the lemon curd, cream cheese, butter and icing sugar together to make the frosting.
  17. Once you have a nice creamy consistency use a palate knife to cover the top of the cake with the frosting.
  18. Cut the cake into 9 pieces to serve.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookies, with Chopped Walnuts & Dried Blueberries

These Chocolate Chip cookies have chopped walnuts and dried blueberries in as well.  I saw a recipe on Joy Of Baking for refrigerator cookies and have slightly varied it, to add some blueberries so that they have that cookie consistency with a nice hit of chocolate the crunch of nuts and the chewy texture of the blueberries.

The list of ingredients isn't too long and the method is very simple, as usual for cookies and biscuits.  The difference with these, though, is that the batter needs to be refrigerated before cutting and baking.  In fact you can keep the batter in the fridge for several days if you wish, or even freeze it for later use. So there isn't any need, necessarily, to bake all the cookies at one time.  So it is ideal if you just need a few cookies at a time, you can cut what you want and bake them and keep the remainder for another time.

That being said they do taste so good that it is difficult to see how they would last very long before being baked. They really do taste absolutely wonderful.

With the edges just a little crisp and crunchy and the centres being of the nice chewy consistency of cookies they are a perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea, or coffee.

This recipe should make about 32 cookies, but if you cut them a little thicker than half an inch you will need to bake for a couple of minutes extra, and expect to get fewer than that number.
Chocolate Chip, Walnut & Blueberry Cookies

260g plain flour
1 teaspoon (5g)baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (1g)salt
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
90g icing sugar
140g  light brown sugar
1 medium egg(in USA this would be a large egg)
1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) pure vanilla extract
200g dark chocolate(you can use milk or white if you prefer) chips
110g finely chopped walnuts

60g chopped dried blueberries

Mix the flour, salt and baking soda together in a blow, to distribute evenly.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth. 

Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. 
Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.
Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat just until incorporated. 
Then stir or beat in the chocolate chips, chopped nuts and blueberries.
Divide the dough in half (about 535 grams for each log) and shape each half into a rectangular shape that is about 8 inches (20 cm) long and 2 1/2 inches (7.5 cm) wide. (or into a log if preferred)
Wrap each rectangle in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until firm (at least four hours). (Can freeze the unbaked rectangles for up to two months.)
Preheat oven to 325  F /165 C/145 C Fan.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
Once the batter is firm, with a sharp knife, slice cookies about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick. 
Place the cookies on the baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. 
Bake the cookies for about 14 minutes or until they are golden brown around the edges but still a little soft in the centre.
Unless using a fan oven rotate your baking sheet front to back about halfway through the baking time. 
Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I have been wondering about Rev Velvet cake for a while and doing some investigations I found a few recipes for cupcakes that seemed to meet the requirements.  I eventually opted for the recipe on Joy Of Baking.  

Now it wasn't as straightforward as I would have like, for a couple of reasons.  Firstly I didn't have any buttermilk and didn't want to make a special trip to the supermarket to get it, so I made my own(240 ml of milk mixed with one teaspoon of white vinegar and left for 5 minutes). 

That done I was ready to make the cupcakes.  Everything seems to have turned out well, though I am red/green colour blind, so I am not entirely sure mine are as red as they should be.  They look more brown than red to me.  But watching the video on Joy of Baking the cupcakes there didn't seem to be a garish red.  Of course I guess it depends to some extent on the vibrancy of liquid red that is added.

So though I cannot confirm that my cupcakes are as red as they should be I can confirm that they are light and moist and taste very good, with very smooth, creamy frosting.
Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes:
  • 1 1/4 cups (125 grams) sifted cakeflour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoons (10 grams) regular or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsaltedbutter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups (150 grams) granulated whitesugar
  • 1 medium egg(large in USA)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring
  • 1/2 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioners' (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) cold heavy whipping cream (double cream) (35-40% butterfat)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and line 12 muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.
In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes).
Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes).
Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Scrape downthe sides of the bowl.
Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring.
With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.
Working quickly, divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 18 -23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes and them remove from pan. Let cool completely before frosting.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and beat until smooth.
Using the whisk attachment, gradually add the heavy cream/double cream and whip until the frosting is thick enough to pipe.
Add more sugar or cream as needed to get the right consistency.
Either spread the frosting with a knife or offset spatula, or use a large 1M Wilton open star decorating tip to pipe the frosting.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Ginger Nuts - Biscuits/Cookies

Ginger Nuts are a British favourite, a lovely gingery hard and crunchy biscuit.  Ideal for dunking in a cup of tea.  I decided to make some after I discovered that I didn't have any on this blog.  I know I have made them before, but that was probably before I started the blog.

Anyway they are very simple to make, simply mixing the dry ingredients, adding the wet ones and mixing into a dough.  Then they are rolled and cut out and chilled before baking.

They are sure to turn out well, as did mine, except for one minor thing, filling the kitchen with a lovely aroma as they bake. Usually the top of the biscuit will crack.  Mine didn't, making me wonder if my baking soda needs to be replaced, either that or I overworked the dough.  I will be trying them again, so will let you know. 

As they cool they firm up until they are hard and crunchy.

The recipe that I used is not my own, but is taken from GoodToKnow, and is originally from Paul Hollywood.  I have increased the amount of ginger to suit my taste. The original recipe had 2 teaspoons of ground ginger. (In the original edit of this I said tablespoons in error, silly me)
Ginger Nuts
  • 340g/12oz plain flour
  • 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 level tsps ground ginger
  • 100g/4oz butter
  • 160g light brown sugar
  • 4 tblsp golden syrup
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C/160C Fan/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Line the baking trays with grease proof paper.
  3. Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Rub in butter with finger tips until it looks like bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar then the syrup and the beaten egg. Bring it all together to form a smooth pastry dough. 
  4. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to be about 8mm thick. Using a 2” straight-sided round cutter, cut out biscuits until all the biscuit dough is used up. Place on baking trays ensuring enough room is left for slight expansion of the biscuit. This should give you about 40 biscuits.  But dont worry if you dont have the exact size cutter, a larger one will be fine too.
  5. Chill on the baking trays for 20 minutes in fridge.
  6. Cook for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from tray with palette knife and place on a cooling rack.