Sunday, 31 May 2015

Crumbly Jam Tarts

I wanted to make some Jam Tarts, always a favourite, particularly with children.  But I was so enamoured of the pastry I made for my Cherry Bakewells, since it was crumbly and almost melt in the mouth, that I decided to use that recipe, rather than a more traditional one.

Often the pastry in Jam Tarts is not so short and crumbly, and is a little chewy. Also the pastry is not blind-baked.  But for mine I decided that I would blind-bake it, as per the recipe for the Cherry Bakewells.  Then it was a question of how long put the jam filled tarts back into the oven for.  In the event I did that for just 10 minutes, long enough to get the jam bubbling and spreading across the tart shells.

The recipe below makes 18(can be squeezed to 20) easily.  I only had one 12 hole bun tin, so I used my whoopie pie tin for the other 6.  That means that the apricot jam tarts are slightly larger in circumference but shallower than the raspberry and strawberry ones.

I am very pleased with the results, 3 varieties of jam all tasting very nice, and with some sweetened coconut sprinkled on the top to give a different flavour and texture.  Oh my word, they are lovely. I have just eaten 3, one of each, with a cup of tea.  The pastry is sublime, I had to stop myself from eating another three, as I know that wouldn't have been the end of it.


Jam Tarts -Raspberry, Apricot and Strawberry
Ingredients:
  • 225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 130g butter, cut into cubes and chilled
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Jam of your choice, 1 to 1.5 teaspoons per tart.
  • Sweetened coconut for sprinkling(optional)
Method:
To make the pastry place the flour and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse in 5-10 second intervals until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs and there are no large lumps of butter. 
Mix the egg yolk with 2-3 tbsp cold water, tip in to the food processor and pulse again until the dough just comes together.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly until it just comes together. Shape into a flattish disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C/180c Fan, gas mark 6. 
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a large circle the thickness of about 3mm(1/16th Inch).
Stamp out 18 rounds using a glass or biscuit cutter.  The rounds should be larger than the circumference of the holes in the bun tin.
Carefully press into the holes of a lightly greased bun tin. 
Line each with  silver foil and fill with baking beans.
Chill for 30 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and  blind bake the pastry cases for 10 minutes until the sides are set.
Remove the baking beans and bake for another 5 minutes until the pastry is just cooked through at the base.
Set aside on a wire rack to cool.
Spoon in 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of jam into each tart shell.  Don't use too much or it will bubble up over the edges of the tarts.
Place back in the oven for ten minutes, until the jam is bubbling and has spread across the base of the tart shells.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the tin, before moving to a cooling rack.
Sprinkle a little sweetened coconut over each tart, if required, before they have fully cooled.  So the coconut will stick to the jam.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Chocolate & Hazelnut Cupcakes with Apricot Frosting.

After my last bake I had some frosting left in the fridge,  so I decided to use it up by making some Chocolate and Hazelnut cupcakes.

Chocolate and hazelnut is always a good combination and I think the addition of the mild apricot flavor in the buttercream makes a great topping.

The recipe I followed is actually from Allrecipes, but I didn't use the recommended frosting.  So the recipe below follows Allrecipes for the cupcake, but my own recipe for the frosting.

The recipe says it will make 14, but I think I could easily have eked out a 15th.

The results are very good indeed, though I am the first to admit and piping is not my forte.  I ate one cupcake while they were still warm, and it tasted so good, chocolatey, the the taste and crunch of hazelnut.  Then, when they were cooled and I had added the frosting I ate another and it was just wonderful.  So I recommend this recipe to anyone wanting to try something a little different.
Chocolate & Hazelnut Cupcakes, with Apricot Buttercream Frosting
Ingredients:
For the cupcakes
  • 100g 70% chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons milk (semi-skimmed is fine)
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 100g crushed hazelnuts
For the Frosting:
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp greek yogurt(or double cream)
  • 4tbsp apricot jam
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Method:
  1. Cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 180 C/160C Fan / Gas 4. 
  2. Melt the 100g chocolate and milk over a saucepan of boiling water.
  3. Beat the 175g butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy, stir in eggs. 
  4. Fold in flour, baking powder and hazelnuts.
  5. Add the melted chocolate and milk mixture and mix well. Spoon into muffin cases.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. To make the frosting combine the butter, icing sugar, great yogurt, apricot jam and vanilla extract until it is a nice creamy texture. Set aside to use when the cupcakes are cooled.
  8. Put the frosting into a piping bag, with a nozzle of your choice and pipe over the cupcakes.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Apricot & Yogurt Loaf

Today's bake is a very simple one, using a 2lb loaf tin, An apricot and yogurt loaf, with an apricot buttercream filling, and some hazelnuts sprinkled on the top.

I used a new loaf tin, which though claiming to be 2lb was wider than my other tins.  That meant that the loaf wasn't as tall as would otherwise have been the case.  But it also meant that it was likely to cook slightly quicker than it might have. 

As with most loaf cakes, that have raising agents, the top splits slightly in rising.  But it looked very good as it was baking, and gave off a nice aroma.  

The list of ingredients is not extensive and it is all very easy to mix together, so everything was very simple.

The result, with the cake cut in half and filled with the buttercream, and then smeared with some apricot jam and sprinkled with hazelnuts, is very good indeed.  It tastes lovely and goes extremely well with a cup of tea, for elevenses, which is a mid-morning break for some refreshment.

Ingredients:

  • 75ml sunflower oil
  • 150g greek yogurt
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 210g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 125g dried, ready to eat apricot, chopped into pieces

For the filling:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp greek yogurt
  • 4tbsp apricot jam
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the top:

  • 1 tbsp apricot jam
  • 2 tbsp chopped hazelnuts(or any nut of your choice)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c Fan/gas mark 4.
  2. Grease a 2lb loaf tin and line the bottom with baking paper.
  3. In a bowl mix the oil, yogurt, eggs and vanilla extract, whisking until all combined.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and apricots and gently fold in.  It is a good idea to stir the apricots into the flour and baking powder first.  this will coat the apricots in flour and help prevent them from sinking.
  5. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin, spreading it out to all corners and level on top.
  6. Bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick, poked into the centre, comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool for a few minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack, removing the baking paper from the bottom.
  8. To make the filling combine the butter, icing sugar, great yogurt, apricot jam and vanilla extract until it is a nice creamy texture.  Set aside to use when the cake is cooled.
  9. When the cake has completely cooled take a knife and slice the cake into two layers along the middle.  Spread the buttercream mixture on the bottom layer about half an inch thick.
  10. Place the second layer on top of the buttercream.
  11. Spread a little apricot jam over the top of the cake and sprinkle the hazelnuts over it.
  12. Then it is ready to slice and to be enjoyed.


Sunday, 24 May 2015

Two Bakewell Tartets - Cherry and Normal

I have made a full sized Bakewell Tart before, and posted it on the blog.  Today I decided to make some Cherry Bakewells.  These are a common fixture in the supermarkets in the UK, and I wanted to try my hand at them.  But I thought I would ring the changes a little too and make some normal Bakewells as well.  So the recipe below tells you how to do both types.  The only real difference being the amount of almond mixture in each one, and the addtional icing and half a glace cherry on top.

I was undecided whether to use a bun tin or a muffin pan for these, but opted for the muffin pan.  But I didn't want the pastry all the way up the sides since than would make them larger than I needed.

I also wanted to ensure that I was able to use all the pastry, so I created half as much almond batter than is shown in the recipe.  This was so that I could make a triple sized Cherry Bakewell, using the off cuts of the pastry.  That one will be for me, no sharing.

They have turned out very well, and taste even better than the ones in the supermarkets.  Maybe cause the pastry is more buttery, or because I used more jam.  Whatever it is they really do taste great.

The recipe below will make 12 Cherry Bakewells quite easily. If you want to re-roll the off cut pastry and use it to make more you will need to increase the amount of almond batter that you make, maybe by about 50%. 

If you want to try the normal Bakewells (without the icing and cherry) you need slightly more batter.
Cherry and Normal Bakewells, and my extra large one.....Yum!!!

Ingredients:

FOR THE PASTRY:
  • 225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 130g butter, cut into cubes and chilled
  • 1 egg yolk
FOR THE FILLING:
  • 50g  butter, softened
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g ground almonds
  • ½ large egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 6 tsp raspberry jam
FOR THE TOPPING:
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 6 glace cherries, halved
Method:
To make the pastry place the flour and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse in 5-10 second intervals until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs and there are no large lumps of butter. 
Mix the egg yolk with 2-3 tbsp cold water, tip in to the food processor and pulse again until the dough just comes together.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly until it just comes together. Shape into a flattish disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C/180c Fan, gas mark 6. 
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a large circle the thickness of about 3mm(1/16th Inch).
Stamp out 12 rounds using a 10cm  biscuit cutter. 
Carefully press into the holes of a muffin tin. 
Line each with  silver foil and fill with baking beans.
Chill for 30 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and  blind bake the pastry cases for 10 minutes until the sides are set.
Remove the baking beans and bake for another 5 minutes until the pastry is just cooked through at the base.
Set aside on a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, make the filling.
Cream the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes until soft.
Beat in the ground almonds, egg and flour until smooth; set aside.
Spread about ½ tsp raspberry jam in the base of each pastry case, then spoon in the almond filling so it comes about half way up the sides. (For normal Bakewells fill to about two thirds full, and sprinkle a few sliced almonds on top.)
Lower the oven to 180C/160c Fan, gas mark 4. 
Bake the tarts for 20 minutes until lightly golden. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer the tarts to a wire rack to cool completely.
Mix the icing sugar with about 2 tbsp water until you have a thick white paste. Spoon on top of the tart cases and top each with half a glacé cherry.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Coconut and Raspberry Jam Financiers

I decided to get inventive with financiers today.  Taking a fairly basic recipe and experimenting with some raspberry jam and some sweetened, shredded, coconut.  This is my third time making financiers, and I decided not to use trimoline, but just icing sugar as the main sweetener.  

Having made the batter and allowed it to chill for a couple of hours I piped it into the moulds and then dripped three very small blobs of jam on each one, and covered them with some coconut.

Cooking time was also experimental, since the jam melts as it is heated, so a little extra time, to ensure that the financier cook through, is neccessary.  But the time cannot be such that the coconut with burn.  Some of it will sink into the batter and leave a nice, browned cover on the top.

I am very pleased with the result of my little experiment, the jam seeps into the batter a little and the coconut sinks as well, but the texture of the financier remains and the taste is very good indeed.
Coconut and Raspberry Jam Financiers

Ingredients:
  • 50g butter
  • 50g plain flour plus 
  • 140g ground almonds
  • 6 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp raspberry jam
  • 30g sweetened shredded coconut
  • 140g icing sugar

Method:
  • Grease your financier moulds.  
  • The mixture will make about 20, so you may have to bake in batches, if so grease the moulds each time.
  • Gently heat the butter in a small pan over a medium heat until it turns a dark golden brown, then immediately remove from the heat.
  • Mix together all the dry(except the coconut) ingredients in a large bowl then stir in the egg whites.
  • Gradually stir in the hot butter until you have a smooth batter. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 220C /200 C Fan
  • Spoon the batter into the chilled tins until they are three quarters full.
  • Pipe three small blobs of jam onto each financier and then sprinkle a decent covering of coconut over them.
  •  Bake for 10–12 minutes until firm and golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and dust with icing sugar to serve.


Monday, 18 May 2015

Rhubarb & Soured Cream Cake, with Ginger Syrup

What an enticing prospect a Rhubarb cake is.  I found a recipe on a card from Waitrose, for a Rhubard and Soured Cream Cake, with a ginger syrup.

The photo on the card looked very nice and reading the recipe made me want to try it.  My sister had frozen some rhubarb, from her garden, so I was able to use some of that.  In thawing it out a lot of moisture came out, so I used that instead of cold water when making the ginger syrup, just in case the flavour of the rhubarb had diminished through the loss of moisture.  Though the aroma from the oven as it baked certainly didn't make me think that this would be the case.  Once the syrup was made and spooned over the cake it really looked great and smelled deliciously spicy.

As for the recipe it is easy to follow and doesn't have too many ingredients.
Rhubarb & Soured Cream Cake, with Ginger Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 75g butter, softened
  • 250g soft brown sugar
  • 284ml soured cream
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 400g rhubarb chopped into one inch pieces(roughly)
  • 100g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c Fan/350F.  Grease a 23cm springform cake tin(9 inches), and line the base with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter with the soft brown sugar
  3. Add a little soured cream and mix until smooth
  4. Add the remaining soured cream, eggs and 2 teaspoons of ground ginger and beat until combined.
  5. Gently fold in the flour until combined and spoon the mixture into the cake tin.
  6. Top the batter with the chopped rhubarb, either randomly or in a pattern.
  7. Bake for 1.5 hours, or until the cake is firm to the touch.  If the top begins to brown too quickly cover it with tin foil for the last 30 minutes.
  8. Once baked leave the cake in the in to cool for ten minutes.  Then turn it out, removing the parchment paper and allow to cook on a wire rack.
  9. When the cake is cooled place it on a presentation plate, ready for the syrup.
  10. In a saucepan put 100g caster sugar, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger and 100 ml of cold water(I used liquid released from the frozen rhubarb).
  11. Heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  12. Increase the heat and allow to boil for about 5 minutes to create a nice syrup.
  13. Spoon the syrup over the top of the cake and allow it to be absorbed.
  14. Cut the cake into wedges to serve.



Sunday, 17 May 2015

Chocolate Financiers

For World Baking Day, which is today, I have decided to bake some Chocolate Financiers.  For this I took the recipe that I used a few weeks back, for Financiers, and adjusted it to include chocolate.

So, basically, I adjusted the amount of almonds and replaced some with cocoa powder.  I started the recipe yesterday, as the batter has to be refrigerated overnight, before being piping into the financier molds.

This recipe allowed me to use up the trimoline that I made when baking the original financiers.  But you don't need to use trimoline, as I have found many recipes online that just use sugar instead.  But I think to make a decent flavoured financier is it necessary to make the beurre noisette, since that gives the butter such a nice taste.

Many recipes also seem to add fruit or nuts to the top of the batter after it has been piped into the moulds.  Some seem to cook the batter for a few minutes and then pop the fruit on, so that it doesn't sink.

For me though I decided just on the nice, straightforward financiers, since the original ones that I made were so well received.  You could, of course, always serve them with a couple of raspberries and a little whipped cream, if you wanted to make them more of a dessert than an accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee.  

They do taste good and are slightly crispy on the outside and moist and soft in the middle, with a great flavour of chocolate.

This mixture made 36 financiers for me.  So you should get a good number if you try the recipe, depending on how full you pipe each mold.

Chocolate Financiers with Raspberries and Cream

Chocolate Financiers
Ingredients:
  • 120g plain flour
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 305ml egg whites
  • 100g trimoline(invert sugar)
  • 340g butter

Method:
  1. Sift the flour, 230g of almonds, cocoa powder and icing sugar.  If the ground almonds are not fine enough to sieve mix them into the sifted sugar and flour.
  2. Add the egg whites and trimoline 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, add the remaining 20 of almonds and gently mix in. This will give a nice flecking to the baked financiers. 
  6. Cover with plastic film and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  7. Preheat the oven to 220c.  Lightly grease the moulds and place them on a baking sheet.
  8. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip.
  9. Pipe into the moulds, filling them about two thirds full and bake until nice and firm, but springy to the touch, about 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from the moulds and place on a wire rack to cool.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Strawberry Cupcakes

I decided to try some cupcakes, using strawberries as a flavouring.  Fresh strawberries, pureed for the cake mix and for the frosting too, and then some slices of strawberry on top sounded like a good idea.

It was a bit of a guess just how much puree to use in each, but with the frosting it wasn't too difficult as adding more icing sugar would always firm it up.

In the end I decided that about 160 ml of puree for each would be about right.  So that is what I used.
The mixture for the cupcakes seemed of the right consistency after mixing, so I was optimistic that they would turn out fine, and they did.

They cupcakes have a lovely strawberry flavour and the frosting is sweet and flavoursome too, so I am very pleased with the end result, apart from the piping.  I didn't have the right nozzle, and maybe had the frosting just a little too soft.  But it firmed up nicely once it had been placed in the fridge for a while.
Strawberry Cupcakes

Ingredients:
For the cupcakes:
  • 160 g of fresh strawberries
  • 165 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 60 ml milk
  • 1 tsp.vanilla extract
  • 120g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1 medium egg 
  • 2 medium egg whites 

For the frosting:

  • 80g fresh strawberries (plus more for topping)
  • 240g unsalted butter, 
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200-300g  icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp.vanilla extract
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt. 
  3. Pulse strawberries in a small food processor until puréed. You should have about 160ml of purée. 
  4. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and the strawberry purée.
  5. Cream butter on medium-high speed of mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add granulated sugar and continue to beat until well-combined and fluffy.
  6. Reduce mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
  7. Add half flour mixture, slowly, with mixer on low; mix until just blended. 
  8. Add milk mixture; mix until just blended. 
  9. Add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of bowl with spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
  10. Scoop batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. 
  11. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, be sure to test using a toothpick to make sure they are completely done in the center. 
  12. Transfer muffin pan to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in pan before icing.
  13. To make the frosting purée the  strawberries until smooth. 
  14. Beat together butter and salt on medium speed of mixer until light and fluffy.
  15. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add sifted powdered sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla and 60ml cup strawberry purée, mix until just blended. 

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Ginger and Honey Crisp Biscuits

I found a recipe, on Waitrose website, for Ginger and Honey Biscuits, with Chocolate & Honey Dip.
Now I only wanted the biscuits, not the dip.  However, I have reproduced the full recipe below, for those who may wish to have the dip to savour with the biscuits. 

I followed the recipe precisely and found that the taste of ginger is not very marked, until you find a peice of the chopped stem ginger.  So for those who like a more robust ginger flavour you may wish to double the amount of ginger powder.  Of course it could be that my ginger powder had lost some strength, but I hadn't had it in the cupboard for very long, so I rather doubt it.

The aroma that is given off as they cook is very pleasant, you can definitely smell the orange zest as well as the ginger.

I did find that rolling out was easier by halving the dough and placing one half back in the fridge while I dealt with the other half.  Then I placed the off-cut of pastry back in the fridge to firm up a little before rolling out again.  That allowed me to get 36 biscuits from the mixture.  I could have easily got 40 if I rolled the off-cut out once more, but I discarded that instead.
Ginger and Honey Crisp Biscuits

Ingredients:
  • 150g softened butter
  • 20g icing sugar
  • 40g light brown sugar
  • 3 tsp clear honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 20g chopped stem ginger in syrup
  • 1 medium egg
  • 200g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
For the dip (optional)
  • 100ml whipping cream
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
Method:
  1. Place the butter and sugars in a large bowl and cream together with an electric whisk until pale then beat in the honey with the vanilla, orange zest and chopped stem ginger.
  2. Add the egg, and when combined, sieve in the flour, add the ground almonds and ground ginger and mix until it forms a smooth soft dough. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge until firm or overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4 and line 2 or 3 baking trays with baking parchment.
  4. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and using a 5cm round pastry-cutter cut out 40 circles. Transfer them onto the baking trays. Bake in the preheated oven for 8–10 minutes until the edges are golden and still soft in the centre. Cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring onto a rack to cool completely.
  5. (Optional) To make the dip: place the whipping cream into a small sauce pan and bring to the boil. Add in the chocolate and honey and whisk until it becomes smooth and glossy. Serve with the ginger and honey biscuits.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Sablé Breton


Sablé Breton, a lovely, crisp and very light biscuit, or cookie, is just the ticket for today. Perfect with a cup of tea, or coffee, they are just so easy to eat. The method also has a huge benefit for the baker, since they are cut out part way through baking, so there are lots of off-cuts that deservedly belong to the person doing the baking.

The recipe is quite easy to follow and doesn't take long, though you need to chill the dough after rolling out, so that increases the time to complete.  But the result is well worth waiting for, they taste absolutely wonderful, and almost melt in the mouth.  Certainly they are very moreish so be advised that you may need to make extra.

Also when you have cut out the shapes, with the 5cm cutter you can use a smaller one to cut some more, from the space left in between.  I did this, as you can see by the smaller ones at the front of the photo.

Some recipes use a combination of flour and ground almonds, but I used only plain flour and it worked out fine.  It just depends on which recipe you find and follow.

Sablé Breton

Ingredients:
  • 200 g  plain flour
  • 160 g  salted butter, softened
  • 140 g ) caster sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk and a tbsp of milk, mixed, for a glaze

Method:
  1. Cream together the butter and sugar.  
  2. Add the egg yolks and the vanilla extract and beat well.
  3. Sift in the flour and baking powder. 
  4. Add the lemon zest and mix well to form a dough.
  5. Place half the dough on a piece of baking paper the size of your baking sheet. Place another piece of baking paper on top and roll the dough out to about 2-3 mm (1/8") thick.
  6. Repeat the process with the remaining half of the dough.
  7. Slide each of the halves of dough, on the paper onto baking tryas and place in the fridge or freezer to harden the dough.
  8. Peel off the top paper. Score the dough with a fork to make a lattice pattern. Brush with the glaze.
  9. Bake at 170°C/340°F fan oven, 190°C/380°F normal oven for 5 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and use a cookie cutter to cut circles into the dough. 50-60 mm (2-2½") cookie cutters are best for this cookie.
  11. Return the tray to the oven and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the cookies are golden brown.
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  13. When cool carefully remove the biscuits from the dough, leaving the off-cuts.
The baker can then gorge on the off-cuts, while sharing the biscuits with everyone else.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Basbousa

Basbousa is an interesting bake. It seems to come from the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and, maybe Greece, in various guises.  Some recipes have coconut, some don't.  The one common is that it is made with semolina, though some recipes add flour too.

For my attempt, as per Titli's Busy Kitchen omits the coconut.  Titli also explains that in some places it is known as Hareesa.  

Now I must say that this does have quite a lot of sugar in it, but so do most desserts etc from that part of the world.  When I was in Turkey I sample several of the filo pastry confections, small and very, very sweet.  This seems to be up there with that level of sweetness.

I used rose water in my syrup.  Wow! what an aroma that small amount gave off as I stirred it into the syrup.  It is the first time I have used it, and understand why so many recipes say to be careful not to use so much.

I must say the results of my bake taste delicous, and I love the texture of the semolina cake.
Basbousa
Ingredients:
For the cake:
  • 225 g (8 oz) semolina
  • 225 g (8 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 340 g (12 fl oz) thick or Greek yoghurt
  • 50 g (2 oz or 4 tbsp) melted butter
  • 24 blanched almonds
  • 1 tsp baking soda
For the syrup:
  • 225 g (8 oz) sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ tsp rose water or orange water (optional)
Method:
  1. Begin by making the syrup. Put 350 ml (12 fl oz) of water in a pan and add the sugar and lemon juice. Bring to the boil with stirring.
  2. Boil the sugar solution vigorously with stirring for 8-10 minutes until the solution starts to look a little syrupy (110°C or 230°F on a candy thermometer). Turn off the heat, carefully stir in the rose water, then leave to cool.
  3. Put the sugar, semolina and baking soda in a large bowl. Mix well.
  4. Beat the yoghurt into the mixture, followed by the melted butter.
  5. Pour the mixture into a greased 12″ x 8″ (30 cm x 20 cm) baking tray and bake at 180°C for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and press the almonds into the sponge so that when you come to cut the cake each piece will have a single almond at the centre. Return to the oven and bake at 180° for a further 20-25 minutes.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Turn the cake out (it’s best to use two chopping boards for this) and cut the cake into 24 pieces. Return the cake to the baking tray.
  8. Drizzle the syrup over the cake in three batches, allowing each batch to soak into the cake before adding the next. Leave for 2-4 hours to allow the syrup to infuse evenly throughout the cake.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Lemon Blueberry Loaf Cake

A Lemon Blueberry Loaf Cake sounded just too good not to try.  So, from JoyofBaking I bring you this easy recipe.    As always with that site they give the ingredients in both metric and US style measurements.  There is also a video of how to make it.

The only difference with mine is that I baked it at 160C Fan, rather than 180C.  I prefer to bake using the fan, since it ensure the heat is evenly dispersed around the oven.  But I am always slightly wary of doing so when a recipe doesn't actually mention it.

The aroma that is given off as the cake bakes is simply mouth wateringly good.  I almost wanted to pull the cake out of the oven and take a spoon to it as it was baking.  I managed to avoid that though and the result has turned out very well.  As with most loaf cakes the top splits slightly on cooking.  I was also pleased that the blueberries didn't sink to the bottom, which can happen sometimes.

All in all this is one very delicous cake indeed, and so moist.  I know it wont be around long enough to go dry.
Lemon Blueberry Loaf Cake

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest(outer yellow skin of the lemon)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsaltedbutter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
Lemon Glaze:
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Method:
Lemon Blueberry Loaf Recipe:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter (or spray with a non stick vegetable spray) the bottom and sides of a loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3 inch) (23 x 13 x 8 cm). 
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Remove 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture. Place the blueberries in a separate bowl and toss the berries with the 1 tablespoon flour (this will help prevent the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the pan during baking.)
  3. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beatthe butter until softened (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). 
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
  5. Beat in the vanilla extract. 
  6. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture (in three additions) and milk (in two additions) alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Mix only until combined. 
  7. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  8. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 55 to 65 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Lemon Glaze and finishing:
  1. In a small microwaveable bowl, stir the sugar with the lemon juice. 
  2. Place in the microwave for about 20 seconds or just until sugar has dissolved.
  3. When the bread is done, remove from oven and place on a wire rack. 
  4. Pierce the top of the hot loaf with a wooden skewer or toothpick and then brush with the hot lemon glaze. 
  5. Cool the loaf in the pan for about 30 minutes then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack. 
  6. This bread is best served on the day it is made, but it can be stored several days or frozen.


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Almond Sponge and Chocolate Pyramid

In a book I bought I found a recipe for this type of cake.  However, the recipe, as with several others in the book, was not complete,and it didn't properly explain the construction of the cake, not to mention the fact that the phots revealed only half the number of layers that the recipe indicated.  

So I decided to try it, but putting my own spin on the recipe, to see if I could do a better job of explaining how to make it.

The result is really quite pleasing, so I am quite happy about it.  But it did take some working out to get to the end result.  I must confess that it doesn't look quite as neat, with the chocolate filling, as I would have liked, but you cant undo what you have done.


Almond Sponge and Chocolate Pyramid
Sliced - Almond Sponge and Chocolate Pyramid

Ingredients:
  • 40g Plain Flour
  • 140g Ground Almonds
  • 140g Icing Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 4 Egg whites
  • 1tsp Vanilla extract
  • 50g Caster sugar
  • 30g Melted Butter
  • 300 ml Double Cream
  • 300 g Dark Chocolate, chopped into small pieces


Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 220c/200c Fan.  Grease and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour and place in a bowl, with the ground almonds icing sugar and vanilla extract.
  3. Mix them together and then add the eggs, one at a time and beat until combined and of a ribbony texture.
  4. It a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with the caster sugar until they form medium peaks.
  5. Add one third of the egg white mixture to the batter and mix to combine.
  6. Add the remaining egg white mixture to the batter and gently fold in until combined, As it is just about combined add the melted butter as well.  
  7. Pour the batter into the baking tray, spreading it to cover the entire tray.
  8. Place in the oven and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until slightly brown on top and springy to the touch.
  9. Remove from the oven and slide on to a wire rack, to cool, still with the parchment paper attached.
  10. Heat the cream until it is boiling.
  11. Place the chocolate into a heat proof bowl.
  12. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir gently until the chocolate has melted and fully combined with the cream.  Set aside to cool.
  13. Remove the paper from the sponge.
  14. Position the sponge, long side facing you.
  15. Cut the sponge into six strips of equal widths,  NOTE the long side should be divided into the six strips, so each strip is the length of the short side.
  16. Take some chocolate mixture and spread over one strip of sponge.  Make sure that the chocolate is an even thickness as possible.
  17. Repeat the process with each of the remaining strips.
  18. Place the strips one upon the other, so you have sponge,choc, sponge,choc, etc in six layer of each.
  19. Place in the refrigerator to allow the chocolate to firm up.  The sponge will firm up too, that is good for the next steps.
  20. When it has firmed up remove the cake from the fridge.  Turn onto its' side, so that the layers are pointing upwards.
  21. The length of the cake is probably too long to make a decent pyramid, so cut it in half, to make two shorter lengths.
  22. Take one half of the cake, laying on its' side still, and cut in two, diagonally from one corner to the opposite corner.
  23. You now have two triangles. Stand one up and the take the other and stand it against the first one, so the long sides are together.  Now you have the pyramid.  Repeat the process with the other half of the cake.
  24. You now have two pyramids.  You can either coat each of these in chocolate, leaving the layered ends exposed, or you can put both cakes together to make a longer one, sandwiching them together with chocolate before applying the coating.
  25. Use a fork to create wavy lines on the chocolate.
  26. Allow to firm up.



Sunday, 3 May 2015

Pretzels - 2 Flavours

For a change I thought I would bake something I have never eaten before.  I know that pretzels are very popular in some countries, though they are not widely eaten in the UK.

I looked at a few recipes, and some videos, to see how to make them and decided to try Paul Hollywood's recipe from BBC Food website.

There are quite a few steps in a convoluted recipe, but it is not too difficult, particularly if you adopt the simple way of shaping the pretzels.

Paul's recipe is for two different flavours, a savoury one, which is topped with salt and sesame seeds.  Then a sweet one with poppy seeds and orange zest, and topped with an orange syryp and candied orange peel.

I have now sample both and they taste good, though I cannot say how well they are made since I have never eaten a professionally made one.  But certainly they are good enough for me.

Left - Sesame Seed Pretzels and Right - Orange and Poppy Seed Pretzels

Ingredients:
For the dough:
  • 500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour
  • 10g salt
  • 7g/¼oz fast-action yeast
  • 40g/1½oz butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp malt extract
  • 280ml/9½fl oz milk
  • 2 oranges, zest only
  • 50g/1¾oz poppy seeds
  • oil for greasing
For the topping:
  • 21g/¾oz bicarbonate of soda
  • 20g/¾oz rock salt
  • 50g/1¾oz sesame seeds
  • 3 oranges, juice of 3, zest of 1 cut into thin slithers
  • 125g/4½oz sugar
Method:
  1. Add the flour, salt, yeast and butter to a bowl. In a jug, add the malt extract to the milk and stir to dissolve. Add the milk mixture gradually to the flour and mix until a dough is formed.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead. The dough should be stiff but not sticky, and shouldn’t need any extra flour to knead. Continue for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and glossy.
  3. Divide the dough in half. To one half, add the zest of two oranges and the poppy seeds, and mix through, ensuring even distribution. Leave the other half plain. Place both doughs into separate oiled bowls, cover, and leave to prove until doubled in size (about 45 minutes).
  4. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  5. Once proved, turn both the doughs out and divide each one into six equal pieces. Using your hands, take each piece, and roll the dough into a long sausage shape, tapering the ends, and creating a slight bulge in the middle. Each piece should be about 40-50cm/16-20in in length. You may need to roll out each of the strands just part way at first, then rest them, allowing the glutens to relax, before continuing to roll them out to their full length. This can help to prevent the strands springing back and creating unevenly shaped pieces. As you roll out the ropes you should apply some pressure to the dough, working from the middle outwards, pushing out any air bubbles that may have formed in the dough.
  6. The traditional and quickest way to shape a pretzel is to take hold of each end of the strand and lift it into the air to create a U-shape. Then, without letting go of the ends, and in one swift movement, flip the centre of the U, propelling it to form a double twist. Lay it back down on the work bench and lightly press the tapered ends onto the opposite sides of the pretzel, attaching them either side of the central bulge. You may find a little dab of water helps to stick the ends to the pretzel. Carefully flip the pretzels over and onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper, so that the ends are now face down. You should now have a classic pretzel shape with three equally spaced sections.
  7. Alternatively, shape each rope into a wide U-shape on the work bench. Take the two ends and manually twist them around each other twice before fixing the tapered end pieces to the opposite sides of the pretzel underneath the main circle of the pretzel so that you can’t see the joins. Press down lightly to seal, without misshaping the pretzel. Work quickly to shape all 12 pretzels.
  8. Add the bicarbonate of soda to 7 litres/12½pints of boiling water, and gently drop each pretzel into the boiling water for approximately five seconds. Gently remove and place on a baking tray, keeping the different flavours separate. While the plain dough is still wet from the water, sprinkle over the salt and sesame seeds.
  9. With a sharp knife, make a deep slash into the thickest part of the dough.
  10. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until they are a deep brown colour.
  11. Meanwhile make the glaze for the sweet pretzels. Put the orange juice into a saucepan and add 100g/3½oz sugar. Add the zest, and bring up to the boil. Boil for one minute, then remove the zest using a slotted spoon and roll it in the remaining sugar. Continue to cook the syrup until reduced in volume and sticky. Pass through a fine sieve.
  12. Place the baked pretzels on a wire cooling rack, brush the sweet pretzels with the syrup glaze and sprinkle over the candied zest.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Who doesn't enjoy a nice muffin?  I guess that just about everyone likes them, and most people enjoy a lemon flavoured cake.  So put the two together, with some poppy seeds and you arrive at a really enjoyable muffin.

I researched various recipes and came up with my own version, mainly because all the options I looked at differed, using milk, yoghurt, sour cream, creme fraiche etc.  I had some double cream that needed to be used up, so I wanted to use that instead of any of those previously mentioned products. The amount of poppy seeds also varied between the recipes.  I decided upon two tablespoons as a reasonable amount.

I also wanted to try to create a little crunch on the top, rather than an icing, so I used some lemon juice with some granulated sugar, and brushed it over the top of the muffins while they were still very hot, straight from the oven.  A little of the lemon juice soaks into the muffin and leave the sugar to harden nicely.

They taste delicious, and are soft and moist.  I thoroughly recommend these to you all.
Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 260g self raising flour
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 112g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • grated rind of two medium lemons(or one large)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 240ml double cream(or sour cream or buttermilk)

for the top:

  • 2 lemons -juiced
  • 50 grams granulated sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Grease a twelve cup muffin tin, or put paper muffin cases in each hole.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs and mix until combined.
  4. Add the vanilla extract, lemon rind and double cream and mix until combined
  5. In a separate bowl combine the flour, poppy seeds and salt.
  6. Add those dry ingredients into the wet mixture and stir until just combined.  Do not beat, it just wants to be mixed in so that all the flour is mixed in.
  7. Using a spoon, or scoop, place the mixture, evenly between the twelve muffin cups.
  8. Bake in the oven for 18 minutes.
  9. Mix the lemon juice and 50g of sugar together, but not so much that the sugar dissolves.
  10. Test the muffins with a toothpick to see that it comes out clean. If so remove from the oven. If the toothpick is not clean leave the muffins in the oven for another two minutes.
  11. As soon as they are out of the oven you can drizzle the lemon/sugar mixture over the top of the muffins, or you can use a pastry brush to coat them.
  12. Allow to cool so that the lemon/sugar mixture make the tops of the muffins slightly crunchy.