Saturday, 31 October 2015

Fig & Goat's Cheese Muffins

I had an idea for some more savoury type of muffins and decided to try something with soft dried figs and goat's cheese.    I did a little research to see if such muffins were likely to be something that might work and it seemed that it would be a good thing to try.

I love figs, particularly fresh ones. But I thought that fresh, ripe, figs might be a little too wet, so I opted for the lovely soft dried ones that are available in most supermarkets in the UK.  Soft goat's cheese, so that it is easy to mix was the choice, rather than the firmer type that you can buy.  

The process is a little convoluted, but not so much so that it makes it a real chore.  So I set about making them, and I must say the results certainly look very good.  The proof will be in the tasting, but since I am not a lover of goat's cheese I am not the best person to say how good they are.  I am sure my family will love them, and that is the point of the exercise. But as they cooled I just couldn't resist and am happy to report that they taste wonderful. 

 I based my recipe on one from Eating Well but I made some minor changes.

Fig and Goat's Cheese Muffins
150g soft goat's cheese
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
zest of one lemon
256g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 medium eggs
1 medium egg - white only
165g soft brown sugar
240 ml buttermilk
60 ml olive oil
180g soft dried figs, chopped
sugar for sprinkling.

Preheat the oven to 220c/200c Fan/425f
Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cups, or grease the insides of the muffin cups
In a bowl beat the goat's cheese, golden syrup, 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract and the lemon zest until combined.
Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar into a bowl and whisk to make sure they are evenly combined.
In another bowl place the egg, whites, buttermilk and oil and whisk together until combined
Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until barely combined.
Add the chopped figs and gently stir in.
Divide half the mixture between the muffin cases.
Spoon a heaped teaspoon of the goat's cheese mixture, gently, into the middle of each muffin case.
Carefully spoon the remaining muffin mixture over and around the goat's cheese mixture.
Sprinkle to tops with some granulated sugar.
Place in the oven to bake for 14 minutes, until the muffins have risen and are brown on top and firm enough so that pressing gently allows them to spring back.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes in the tin before transferring to a cooling rack.
They will be best eaten warm, and within a couple of days, unless wrapped tightly and frozen.
If they are cool you can remove the paper case and wrap in paper towel and a few seconds in the microwave will warm them through.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Shortbread Petticoat Tails

Who doesn't love a nice piece of shortbread?  Certainly I have never come across anyone who doesn't like it.  So today I thought I would try to make some, in the traditional petticoat tail shape.  That is a round of shortbread, with a pattern and some lines for breaking into pieces.  Usually after baking you sprinkle some caster sugar on top as well.

Shortbread is not difficult to make, and has few ingredients, so almost anyone should be able to make it, even if just a basic oblong shape with lines on to make fingers.

It tastes so good and is delicious with a cup of tea, or coffee.

I recommend anyone to make this,  particularly those who are just starting out with baking.
Petticoat Tails - Shortbread

200g plain flour
60g sugar
113g(half a stick) of unsalted butter
a pinch of salt
ice cold water, as needed

Preheat the oven to 265c/145c Fan/365 F
Place the flour sugar and salt in a bowl and mix together.
Add the butter and rub between the fingers until the butter has mixed in thoughly with the sugar and flour, into a breadcrumb like consistency. 
Bring together by squeezing, adding a tablespoon of ice cold water if necessary, to make a nice smooth dough. Work it until it is not sticky, but no more than that.
Form into a ball and flatten slightly, then roll it out to about an 8 inch circle.
Score lines across the dough, into 8 equal triangles.
Use a fork to make a pattern on each triangle
Use your fingers to push in the edges to make a fluted pattern.
Carefully place in an 8 inch cake tin, or (as I did) use a pastry ring of the same size.
Transfer to a baking tray, lightly floured(or covered with baking parchment).
Bake in the oven for about 40 to 45 minutes until the shortbread has gone a nice golden colour.
Remove from the oven and gently re-score the dividing lines.
Sprinkle over some caster sugar and leave to cool.
Remove from the tin and serve.

Pumpkin & Cream Cheese Muffins

Another lovely recipe, Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins, courtesy of Joy Of Baking. I had to search to find some pumpkin puree, but found it in Waitrose, so I was all set to go.

The muffins are flavoured with the pumpkin and some spices and then a nice cream cheese mixture is spooned into a dip in the batter, so that as it bakes the muffin comes up around the cream cheese which sets nicely. 

It is a simple enough recipe and the results are very good indeed, certainly a nice treat on a lovely autumnal day.

The recipe below will make about 12 muffins, direct in the muffin pan without paper cases.

Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 227 g full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 65 g granulated white sugar
  • 1 lmedium egg, at room temperature (55 grams out of shell)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pumpkin Muffins:
  • 195 g all purpose flour
  • 200 g granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon  salt
  • 113 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 medium eggs, at room temperature (110 grams out of shell)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 170 g solid packed, canned pumpkin puree

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Place your oven rack in the middle of your oven. Butter or spray each muffin cup with a non stick vegetable spray.
  2. In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. 
  3. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract and beat until creamy and smooth. 
  4. Set aside while you make the muffin batter.
  5. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat to combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, ground spices, and salt. 
  6. Add the butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and pumpkin puree. 
  7. Beat the wet and dry ingredients together at medium speed until the batter is smooth and satiny, about 30-60 seconds. 
  8. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  9. Fill the muffin cups evenly (about 2/3 full) with the batter using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. 
  10. Make a well in the center of the batter of each muffin andthen spoon a few tablespoons of the cream cheese filling into the well.
  11. Place in the oven and bake for about 18 -20 minutes,or until the cream cheese filling has set and the pumpkin feels springy to the touch (a toothpick inserted into the pumpkin part of the muffin will come out clean.)
  12. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Peach & Raspberry Frangipane Tart

I decided upon a frangipane tart today.  Those of you who know Bakewell Tarts will recognise that this recipe is basically that, with some fruit on top.  Since I love Bakewell Tart I knew for sure that I would enjoy this.  The recipe is from The Radio Times, courtesy of the Great British Bake Off and Mary Berry.  

Although it takes a while to make, and several different processes it is well worth the effort since the result is simply wonderful.

The recipe calls for a 28cm tart tin and I only had a 25cm one.  So I simply made the full amount of pastry and filling and used the extra to make a small tart as well.  But of course you could always adjust the ingredients instead.
Peach & Raspberry Frangipane Tart

225g plain flour
100g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
50g caster sugar
1 medium egg (large in USA)
1 tablespoon icy cold water

175g unsalted butter, softened
175g caster sugar
4 medium(large in USA) eggs, at room temperature, beaten to mix
175g ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract generous ½ jar home-made raspberry jam OR best-quality shop-bought jam

3 ripe peaches OR
1 x 420g tin sliced peaches
200g raspberries
4 tablespoons apricot jam

  1. Make the rich sweet shortcrust pastry either by hand or in a food processor. By hand, sift the flour into a bowl, add the diced butter and rub in* until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar. Beat the egg with the water until combined, then stir into the crumbs with a round-bladed knife to make a slightly soft but not sticky dough. To use a food processor, put the flour and butter into the bowl and blitz until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Add the sugar and 'pulse' to combine. Mix the egg with the water and, with the machine running, add through the feed tube. Stop the machine as soon as a ball of dough forms. Wrap the dough and chill for 20 minutes until firm but not hard.
  2. Heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5, and put the baking sheet in to heat up. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured worktop and use to line a 28cm flan tin.  Prick the base of the pastry case well with a fork, then chill for 10 minutes.
  3. Line the pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking beans, then set the tin on the heated baking sheet and bake blind* for about 15 minutes until the pastry is set and the edges are lightly coloured. Remove the paper and beans and return the empty pastry case to the oven to bake for a further 10–12 minutes until the base is cooked through (no damp patches) and turning a light golden colour. Set aside to cool (leave the oven on).
  4. Now make the almond filling. Put the soft butter and sugar into the food processor (no need to wash the bowl) and blitz until the mixture is creamy and smooth. With the machine running, pour in the eggs through the feed tube. Once combined, stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl. Add the ground almonds and almond extract and blitz just until combined. You can also make the filling by hand: cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy using a wooden spoon or hand-held electric whisk, then gradually beat in the eggs. Fold in the almonds and almond extract.
  5. Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam over the base of the pastry case. Spoon the almond mixture on top and spread evenly. Bake in the heated oven for 30–40 minutes until the filling is golden and feels springy when gently pressed in the centre. Remove the tart from the oven and leave to cool.
  6. Once the tart is cold, start on the decoration. If you are using fresh peaches they need to be peeled. To do this, make a small nick in the skin near the stem end, then lower the peaches into a pan of boiling water and leave for 10 seconds. Drain, then peel off the loosened skins with the help of a small sharp knife. Halve the peaches and remove the stones, then cut into thick slices. If using tinned peaches, drain thoroughly.
  7. Arrange the peach slices and raspberries in neat circles on top of the tart. Warm the apricot jam in a small pan over low heat, then press through a fine sieve to remove any lumps of fruit. If necessary, reheat the sieved jam so it is nice and runny, then gently brush it over the fruit to glaze. Leave to set before serving.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Blueberry, Cranberry & White Chocolate Flapjack

I had an idea for some flapjacks, a lovely oat, butter and golden syrup cake.  I had some dried blueberries and cranberries which I felt sure would taste so good in a flapjack. Then I thought about covering them with white chocolate.  In the end I decided that might be too much white chocolate so I simply piped some in criss-cross lines to give a taste of the chocolate but not overpowering since I wanted the oat and the fruit to be the stars.

It is simple to make flapjacks, simply melting butter, golden syrup and sugar and then combining with dry ingredients.  The important thing is to let the baked flapjacks cool completely in the pan before cutting to size and turning out.

The resultant flapjacks are sweet, sticky and very fruity, so they dont need to be cut into large pieces. A small square is sufficient for a serving. Of course you can cut them larger if you wish but I find small is better.

The aroma of all the ingredients baking fills the room delightfully, with the fruit being prominent.

Mine turned out very well indeed and taste wonderful.  For such a simple recipe this really is a winner.

  • 250g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 250g oats
  • 100g plain flour
  • 100g dried blueberries
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 100g white chocolate broken into pieces(or use chips)
Blueberry, Cranberry & White Chocolate Flapjack
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/150c Fan/340F/Gas mark 3. Grease and line a 23cm square or 20cm x 25cm a 5cm baking tray.
  2. Slowly heat the butter, golden syrup and sugar until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved
  3. In a large bowl stit the oats, flour, blueberries and cranberries to combine.
  4. Pour in the melted butter mixture and stir to fully combine.
  5. Pour the mixture into the baking tray and spread evenly, making sure to get right into the corners.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  8. Cut into pieces of the size you want.
  9. Gently melt the white chocolate in a bowl, over a pan of simmering water.
  10. Turn out the flapjacks onto a wire rack and pipe the white chocolate over them in a criss-cross pattern.
  11. Set aside to cool the chocolate before serving.

Friday, 16 October 2015


Arlettes are a puff pastry biscuit(cookie) that I had never heard of.  But it was featured as a technical challenge on Great British Bake Off a few weeks ago.  The recipe then appeared on BBC Food and it seemed an ideal challenge for me to try.

This recipe calls for reverse(or inverse) puff pastry.  Usually with puff pastry you make the dough and then wrap it around cold butter and roll and turn it, chilling each time.  With reverse puff pastry you make a dough and then you make a butter mixture, with some flour, and that is wrapped around the dough.  So it is actually reversing the butter aspect of the pastry.  Apparently this is likely to make it more flaky.

The recipe is not too complicated, but it does take a while, since you have to keep chilling the dough after each book turn.  But all that time is well worth it as you end up with a light, crispy, cinnamon-swirled biscuit that is most enjoyable.

For the dough:
  • 60g/2¼oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 60g/2¼oz plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 40g/1½oz unsalted butter, melted
For the butter layer:
  • 125g/4½oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 25g/1oz strong white bread flour
  • 25g/1oz plain flour
For the filling:
  • 50g/1¾oz granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • icing sugar, for dusting
  1. Put the flours, salt, butter and 50ml/2fl oz cold water in a bowl and gently mix to form a dough.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. 
  3. Shape the dough into a square, wrap in cling film and chill for an hour (or freeze for 20-30 minutes).
  4. For the butter layer, cream the butter and flours together using an electric mixer. 
  5. Sandwich the mixture between two sheets of cling film and roll out to a rectangle the same width as the square of dough, but twice as long. Chill in the fridge for 25 minutes.
  6. Unwrap the chilled dough and butter layer. Place the chilled butter layer, short end facing towards you on a lightly floured surface and place the square of dough in the centre of the butter sheet. 
  7. Make sure it is positioned neatly and covers almost to the edges. 
  8. Lift the exposed butter sheet at the top and fold it down over the dough, then fold the exposed butter sheet at the bottom up over the top, so the dough is completely enclosed in the butter sheet.
  9. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, short end towards you. Roll out to a rectangle, keeping the edges as even as possible. 
  10. Fold the top quarter down and the bottom quarter up so they meet neatly in the centre. 
  11. Then fold the dough in half along the centre line. This is called a book turn. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 25 minutes.
  12. Remove the dough from the fridge and make another book turn. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 25 minutes.
  13. For the filling, mix the granulated sugar and the cinnamon together in a bowl. 
  14. On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry to a rectangle as before and sprinkle over the sugar.
  15. Make another book turn to incorporate the sugar, then roll out the pastry 1cm/½in thick, to a rectangle 12x20cm/4½x8in.
  16. Roll up the pastry from the short end like a Swiss roll. 
  17. Wrap in cling film and chill for 25 minutes.
  18. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Line 2 baking trays lines with silicon sheets or non-stick baking paper.
  19. Trim the ends of the roll and cut into 8 x 1cm/½in thick slices. 
  20. Dust the work surface heavily with icing sugar and roll each piece of dough out very thinly, turning to coat in the sugar and to prevent sticking. 
  21. Place the biscuits on the prepared trays and bake for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully turn the biscuits and cook for a further 5-6 minutes, or until golden-brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Peach Financiers

Financiers are French Petit Fours which I have made a few times, with different flavours.  Today I thought I would try my basic one once again, but with a little cube of peach inserted on the top part way through baking.  That will add a little something different when eating them.  My basic recipe is from Le Cordon Bleu cookbook that I bought a while back.  The recipe calls for trimoline, which is an invert sugar.  The first time I made them I went through the process of making invert sugar and it worked well, but it took a lot of extra time.  I have discovered that using golden syrup(or corn syrup) works just as well as the invert sugar.  Indeed just adding more sugar rather than syrup will work, but maybe you wouldn't have quite the same moistness in the cakes. There is a nice website, which gives very simple to follow instructions on how to make trimoline for those who wish to try it.  That is the site I used when I did it. 

The recipe also uses beurre noisette, which is a browned butter, strained to remove any black pieces formed during browning.  This butter has a nice nutty flavour after browning and is well worth doing.

Although the recipe says to refrigerate the batter overnight I have seen many recipes that dont refrigerate at all.  I followed the refrigeration method, since it firms up the batter.  It may also allow the flavour of the butter to soak into the batter more thoroughly too.

The peach ones turned out very nicely and taste wonderful.  When they come out of the over the edges are a little crispy, but that crispiness disappears quickly when they are stored in an airtight container.

Peach Financiers
  • 120g plain flour
  • 270g ground almonds
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 305ml egg whites
  • 100g Golden Syrup(or trimoline if using that)
  • 340g butter
  • 36 small cubes of peach(fresh is best but tinned is ok)
  1. Sift the flour, almonds and icing sugar.  If using ground almonds and it is not fine enough to sieve mix it into the sifted sugar and flour.
  2. Add the egg whites and golden syrup to the dry ingredients and mix until a smooth dough is formed.
  3. In a small saucepan melt the butter and cook until it starts to colour.  Once the butter solids have turned a dark golden colour take of the heat.
  4. Add to the dough and stir it in immediately.
  5. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic film and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220c.  Lightly grease the moulds and place them on a baking sheet.
  7. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip.
  8. Pipe into the moulds, filling them about two thirds full and bake for 3 minutes.  Remove from the oven and pop a piece of peach into the centre of each financier
  9. Return the financiers to the oven and continue to back for another 7 mintues,until golden brown and firm to the touch.
  10. Remove from the moulds and place on a wire rack to cool.
  11. Store in an airtight container.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Banoffee Muffins

Today I made Banoffee Muffins.  This is a variation on Banoffee Pie, which is described in Wikipedia thus:  
"Banoffee pie is an English dessert pie made from bananas, cream and toffee from boiled condensed milk (or dulce de leche), either on a pastry base or one made from crumbled biscuits and butter. "

A muffin variation is a simply delicious alternative with the lovely flavour of ripe bananas and a toffee caramel mixed in.

As the description mentions using condensed milk,boiled it seemed a good idea to follow a recipe from the Carnation website, which used Carnation's own Caramel, where they have already done the job for you. Of course since the caramel is made from condensed milk it is already sweet, so no sugar is needed in the recipe.

This is a very simple recipe, once you have assembled the ingredients ready to make them. For mine I used cardboard muffin cups, rather than a muffin tin lined with paper cups. Now the muffin cups are larger than cases, so it was a guess as to how much they would fill as they baked, but dividing the mixture fairly evenly between them resulted in the muffins filling the cups and blooming out of the top. They looked wonderful when baked and I could hardly wait to see how they tasted. Luckily it is recommended to eat them warm, so I didn't have to wait too long. But it is fine to let them cool and eat them, or simply pop one in the microwave oven for about 15 seconds to warm it through before eating. The taste is just delicious, and most certainly moreish. I could happily have eaten a second one almost immediately but managed to stop myself.

I heartily recommend these to anyone who likes a nice, sweet, muffin with that lovely toffee flavour with the beautiful hit of banana too and a nice crunch from pecans, if desired.

  • 275g self-raising flour
  • Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C for fan ovens) Gas Mark 5.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl.
  • In another bowl, mix the eggs, milk, oil, mashed bananas, vanilla and a dollop of the caramel. Then, mix this gently into the flour until just combined, don’t beat hard (if it looks lumpy its right!).
  • Gently swirl through the rest of the caramel until rippled.
  • Place muffin cases in the tin and spoon in the muffin mix.
  • Top with the chopped nuts, if you like them. Bake for about 20 minutes, cool slightly then tuck in!
  • aising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 medium eggs (large in USA)
  • 150ml milk (I used 2%, which is semi skimmed)
  • 5tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed (my unzipped bananas weighed 210 grams)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 397g can Carnation Caramel
  • 55g chopped pecan nuts (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan, 375 F, Gas Mark 5, grease and line a 12 hole muffin tin, or use muffin cups.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda together, in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl mix the milk, oil, eggs, vanilla extract, bananas and a dollop of caramel.
  4. Add to the flour mixture and mix gently until just combined.  Do not overmix.
  5. Gently swirl the rest of the caramel through the mixture until rippled, if possible.
  6. Divide the mixture equally between the muffin cups, or cases.
  7. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until cooked.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before eating.
  9. They can be reheated slightly, in a microwave oven before eating if they have cooled.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Most Lemony Lemon Muffins

I found a lovely recipe for a very lemony muffin, with toasted sesame seeds, on The Kitchn webiste.  I really wanted to try them as soon as possible, so I got right to work.

As with most muffins they are quite simple to make and the effort is rewarded by a really scrumptious muffin.  With sesame seeds and lemon zest in the muffin and with a lemon glaze drizzled over the top they really are a treat for the taste buds. The only changes I made was that I didn't use any vanilla extract as I didn't think it would be needed, and I only used 1 tsp of baking powder which worked just perfectly.

I also did a video recording of the process, which I will edit over the next couple of days and post to, with an update to this post so that it can be viewed from the blog as well.

Not much more to say about these muffins, except that I converted the recipe to metric weights, since I am more comfortable using them.

I do recommend trying these and thank The Kitchn for such a wonderful recipe.
Most Lemony Lemon Muffins

for the muffins:
  • 320g plain flour
  • 100g sugar
  • 70g sesame seeds, toasted, optional
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 large lemons, zested and juiced
  • 300ml cup milk 
  • 120 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 medium
for the syrup:
  • 120ml lemon juice, from the juiced lemons (above) 
  • 100g sugar
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F/190C/160C Fan. 
  2. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan with liners or by greasing the cups.
  3. Whisk the flour, sugar, sesame seeds (if using), baking powder, and salt with the lemon zest. 
  4. In a small bowl beat the milk, oil, and egg.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and beat with a spoon just until smooth.
  6. Pour into the muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick just comes out clean.
  7. While baking, prepare the lemon syrup. Whisk the lemon juice and sugar together in a small saucepan and boil for about five minutes or until slightly reduced and shiny. Remove from the heat.
  8. When the muffins come out of the oven, immediately poke a couple toothpick holes in each muffin and carefully drizzle the hot syrup over them. Let cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan to let the syrup absorb.
  9. Muffins will keep at room temperature for up to 5 days. They can also be frozen then thawed at room temperature.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Blueberry Shortbread

Who doesn't enjoy a nice shortbread biscuit?  Not many people I am sure.  Add some dried blueberries into the mix and you have a really lovely biscuit, with the shortness of the buttery biscuit and the fruitiness of the blueberries. So my Blueberry Shortbread Biscuits recipe is adapted from My Baking which measure things in cups, which I converted to metric measurements since I prefer working like that.  As Stephanie Jaworski of Joy of Baking said in a recent video, once you have used metric measurements you will always want to use them, for accuracy.

A nice simple recipe is all you need for shortbread and very few steps.  I make things slightly more taxing for myself by wanting the biscuits to be all the same size, so I tend to weigh the mixture and divide by the number of biscuits, so I can use the same amount in each biscuit, to within about a gram.  In this instance I had 616 grams of mixture, and wanted 18 biscuits, so that was just about 34 grams each time.

I can certainly confirm that these biscuits are really nice and short and with that wonderful fruity flavour.  Well worth the little time it took to make them, even though using a food processor means lots of fiddly washing up.
Blueberry Shortbread Biscuits

170g cold unsalted butter
190g plain flour
135g caster sugar
35g cornflour
70g dried blueberries
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F
Place the flour, cornflour, salt and caster sugar into a food processor and pulse to mix together.
Place the butter into the flour mixture and pulse repeatedly until the mixture resembles bread crumbs
Pour the mixture into a large bowl and add the blueberries, mixing them together to spread the fruit around.
Divide the mixture evenly into 18 holes of muffins tins and press down to pack firmly, making them as level as you can.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cook completely.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Yorkshire Parkin - A Ginger Cake With Oats

Parkin is a traditional cake in the north of England particularly Yorkshire and Lancashire around about Bonfire Night(Guy Fawkes Night - 5th November)  There are differences between the various versions, but the Yorkshire version, at least,  has oats in the cake which appealed to me when I was considering which to make, so Yorkshire Parkin it is.

According to wiki Parkin is a hard cake, when baked, but as it is left, in an airtight container, for a few days it becomes very moist and sticky.  That is exactly what I want, something that can easily be enjoyed with a cup of tea, and will be just as good in a bowl, with some custard, as a dessert.

With ginger, nutmeg, mixed spice, molasses, golden syrup and dark brown muscovado sugar you can just imagine the wonderful aroma that fills the room as it bakes.  

I, of course, could not resist cutting a piece of my effort, even though it is best left for about 3 days in an airtight container.  It can also be left of up to a week before eating.  I can report that the taste is simply phenomenal and is only going to get better as the texture changes during the next few days.

I am so pleased I tried this one, and that it turned quitewell, even though it didn't rise in the middle to be level.  That could be because I adjusted the heat as described below. Having trawled many sites to find a recipe I wanted to try I opted for About Food for mine, and the only difference I made was to bake at 120c Fan, rather 140C without the fan.  I always prefer to bake with the fan, simply as it bakes more evenly.

Yorkshire Parkin

  • 8 oz/220g soft butter
  • 4 oz/110g soft, dark brown sugar
  • 2oz / 55g black treacle/molasses
  • 7oz / 200g golden syrup/ corn syrup
  • 5oz/ 120g medium oatmeal
  • 7 oz/ 200g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp milk
  1. Heat the oven to 275°F/140°C/gas 1 Note:(I used 120C Fan instead)
  2. Grease an 8" x 8"/ 20cm x 20cm square cake tin.
  3. In a large heavy-based saucepan melt together the butter, sugar, treacle, golden syrup over a gentle heat. Do not allow the mixture to boil, you simply need to melt these together.
  4. In a large, spacious, baking bowl stir together all the dry ingredients. 
  5. Gradually add the melted butter mixture stirring to coat all the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  6. Gradually, beat in the eggs a few tablespoons at a time. 
  7. Finally add the milk and again stir well.
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and cook for 1½ hours until firm and set and a dark golden brown.
  9. Remove the parkin from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
  10.  Once cool store the Parkin in an airtight tin for a minimum of 3 days if you can resist eating it, you can even leave it up to a week before eating and the flavors really develop and the mixture softens even further and become moist and sticky.
  11. The Parkin will keep up to two weeks in an airtight container.