Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Chocolate Chip & Hazelnut Muffins

For my first post Christmas bake I decided upon something simple, but very tasty, Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut Muffins.

The idea of these was very appealing to me, as I love chocolate and enjoy a change of texture in muffins, so hazelnuts certainly were worthy of consideration.

Muffins are always simple to make and usually turn out very well, so I set too and made them.  They have turned out very well indeed, offering that wonderful moist muffin texture mixed with the flavour of chocolate and the crunch of the hazelnuts.

I am very pleased with the result and will surely be making these again very soon.
Chocolate Chip & Hazelnut Muffins


Chocolate Chip & Hazelnut Muffins - video
Ingredients:

  • 260g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 170g dark chocolate chips(I used 70% cocoa solids)
  • 120g roughly chopped hazelnuts
  • 30ml soured cream
  • 160ml buttermilk
  • 112g melted butter
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 70g dark brown sugar
  • 70g granulated sugar.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F
  2. Line a muffin tin with paper cases, or grease the tin.
  3. In a bowl mix the eggs, vanilla extract buttermilk, soured cream, melted butter and both sugars until fully combined.
  4. Take a couple of table spoons of the flour and mix with the hazelnuts and chocolate chips so they become coated.
  5. Mix the remaining flour with the baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  6. Pour the flour mixture into the wet mixture and stir until just combined.
  7. Add the chocolate chip and hazelnuts, coated with the flour, into the batter and stir until just combined.
  8. Divide the batter into the 12 muffin cases and bake in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes,  until they are firm on top and a skewer, poked into the muffins, comes out clean apart from any melted chocolate.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cook completely.




Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Chocolate & Cherry Cheesecake

For my final bake before Christmas I decided to make a cheesecake.  Cherries always go so well with chocolate that I thought that would be a good idea.  I love Morello cherries and have had them in the past, from a jar, where they are soaked in kirsh.  So I thought that rather than buying fresh cherries I would use some of the kirsh soaked ones instead.  I found a recipe on Citrus & Candy which I adapted to meet my needs.

I also made a cherry compote, so was able to use some syrup from that to stir into the chocolate batter for some added flavour, but any decent cherry jam will do just fine. 

For the base I used some bourbon biscuits, which have a chocolate flavour and some chocolate cream in the middle.  I was therefore a bit unsure of how much butter I would need to use to combine the crumbed biscuits, but 50 grams seemed to work fine.

The cheesecake turned out very well, so I was pleased with that.  I cannot attest to how it tastes yet, since I will be taking it to family to eat on Christmas Day, but I am sure it will be very good.
Chocolate & Cherry Cheesecake



Chocolate and Cherry Cheesecake


Chocolate & Cherry Cheesecake - Video

Ingredients:

  • 150g chocolate biscuits(I used bourbons)
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 170g dark chocolate, melted and allowed to cool a little
  • 500g cream cheese 
  • 100g sour cream 
  • 135g caster sugar
  • 2 tsps cornflour or custard powder
  • 3 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 egg yolks (room temperature)
  • 3 Tbsp cherry syrup(or cherry jam is fine)
  • 200g cherries(drained completely if using tinned or jarred ones)

Method:

  1. Lightly butter a 20cm non-stick springform pan. Wrap the bottom of the tin well with at least 2 layers of aluminium foil if you’re using a standard springform tin.
  2. In a food processor, blitz the biscuits, butter and salt until clumpy then press into the tin so that it’s level-ish and compact. Refrigerate until required then put a full kettle on boil.
  3. Beat the cream cheese and sour cream in a food processor until smooth and free of lumps. 
  4. Blitz in the sugar and cornflour then the eggs. 
  5. Mix through the melted chocolate and cherry syrup and leave batter to rest for about 20-30 minutes to release any air bubbles.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
  7. Scatter the cherries over the biscuit base then pour in the cheesecake batter over the top. 
  8. Place the pan inside a deep roasting tray then transfer to the oven. 
  9. Carefully pour in the boiled water until it comes halfway up the tin.
  10. Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until the sides and top is just set but it’s wobbly and jiggly underneath. 
  11. Switch off the heat then carefully remove from oven. 
  12. Lift the pan out of the water, remove the foil then place on another tray.
  13. With a thin offset spatula, gently run it around the cheesecake to loosen the sides from the tin (cheesecake contracts as it cools so this will prevent it from splitting in the middle). 
  14. Return the cheesecake to the oven, which has been switched off, for another hour.
  15. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  16. Cover with plastic wrap.
  17. Place in the refrigerator overnight to make sure it is completely set.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Christmas Biscotti

Today I made some biscotti, with a bit of a nod to Christmas.  Dried cranberries and flaked almonds together with the zest and juice from clementines is what flavours them.  I found the recipe on Laurainthekitchen. Although the recipe makes thinner sausages of dough than I am used to with biscotti I followed the instructions, since I was sure they would turn out well.

I love biscotti and am always up for a variation in flavour, so these really hit the spot for me.  My cranberries were dried but had been infused with blueberry juice too, so they were extra flavoursome. The resultant biscotti really do taste delicious, so although they will keep for a long time in an airtight container I am fairly sure they wont last more than a few days before all are consumed.

The recipe is easy to follow, and I have, in my version below, converted the ingredients into metric measurements.  But clicking the link for Laurainthekitchen will take you to the version with cup measurements.
Christmas Biscotti

Ingredients:

  • 340g plain flour
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • Zest from two clementines
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 100g flaked almonds
  • 3 tbsp clementine juice
  • 75ml vegetable oil

Method:
1) Position oven racks in the middle and top of the oven and preheat oven to 180c/160c Fan350 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2) In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder to combine. In a small bowl toss the Clementine zest, the flaked almonds and cranberries with about ¼ cup of the flour mixture. Mix it together well to insure the zest is not in big clumps. Add this mixture to the large bowl of the flour mixture and mix well.

3) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the eggs, oil and Clementine juice and mix to combine well. Add the flour mixture and mix to combine but not over mixing!

4) The dough will be very sticky.

5) Dump dough onto a heavily floured board and divide dough in to 6 equal portions. Roll each piece into a log that’s about 12 inches long, make sure to dust with flour along the way to keep dough from sticking. Set the logs about 3 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheet, press gently to flatten each log so that they are about 1 ½ to 2 inches wide. Bake until the logs are golden and firmly near the center, about 25 minutes rotating the baking sheets half way through to insure even baking.

6) Let the logs cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. Transfer logs to a cutting board, using a serrated knife, slice them on a sharp diagonal into about ½ inch thick slices. Arrange the slices on the baking sheets, laying cut side down. Return to oven and bake for 7 minutes. Turn the cookies over and rotate the baking sheets and bake for another 9 to 10 minutes or until golden and lightly browned.

7) Let cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. (The cookies will not harden until totally cooled) Enjoy!

Monday, 21 December 2015

Panettone

Well Christmas is almost with us, so what better time to make Panettone, a traditional Italian cake, eaten at this time of year.  I have seen so many recipes for panettone, using many different ingredients, for flavours, almost all kinds of dried fruits, chocolate, almonds etc.  But for mine I wanted to make it with what in the UK we might associate with Christmas, so I used sultanas, raisins and candied peel.  They are ingredients used in a traditional British Christmas cake, so they seemed ideal for this recipe.  This is a recipe that takes a long time, but that included two periods of proving the dough which accounts for 7 hours.

Panettone actually has a bread like texture, rather than a sponge cake, made with strong white bread flour.  It should be a light texture, with lots of holes in it.  With lemon and orange zest mixed into the dough as well as the candied peel my panettone gave off a wonderful aroma during baking.  It turned out very well indeed, so far as I can see.  I cant check the inside at present since I want to deliver it intact, to be cut on Christmas Day.   But I am sure it will be fine.  I will try to update this blog entry after it has been cut open.

I should say that you don't need to wait for Christmas to make this lovely cake, I can see no reason why it shouldn't be enjoyed at any time of year, particularly if varying the fruit and flavours used.

I dont have a panettone tin, so I had to improvise.  To do this I used an 18cm deep cake tin and lined the sides with two layers of baking parchment, to a height of 20 cm.  This was rather more than needed but I wanted to be sure that as the cake rose during baking it didn't come over the top.

Panettone

As said, I am very pleased with the result.  Although it takes a very long time to make panettone I am sure it is worth all the effort.

Panettone - Video

Ingredients:
  • 400g strong white bread flour
  • 3 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • 60ml milk
  • 60ml water
  • 7g dried active yeast(not easybake/instant yeast)
  • 70g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • Zest of one orange
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 80g sultanas
  • 65g raisins
  • 60g chopped candied peel
Method:
  1. Warm the milk and water together to about 43 degrees celsius(about 110 F)
  2. Pour the liquid into a bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. 
  3. Leave it for 5-10 minutes, until it begins to froth.
  4. Add 4 tablespoons of flour and 2 teaspoons of sugar to the frothing mixture.
  5. Whisk the mixture to combine the flour and sugar.
  6. Cover the bowl with plastic film and leave for 30 minutes for the yeast to become very active.
  7. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the eggs, sugar, lemon and orange zest and vanilla extract and whisk until combined.
  8. Tip the yeast mixture into the bowl and whisk again to combine.
  9. Put the flour and salt into the bowl and, with the dough hook, mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.
  10. Add the sultanas, raisins and chopped candied peel and mix until just combined. The dough will still be very sticky.
  11. Flour the work surface with a good amount of flour.
  12. Turn out the dough onto the flour and knead into the flour, scattering some on the top as well, until the dough is not longer sticky.  
  13. Form into a ball and place into a large bowl, that has been greased.  
  14. Cover the bowl with plastic film and leave to prove, in a warm place, for about 4 hours, until the dough has tripled in size.
  15. Remove from the bowl, onto a lightly floured surface and knock out the air.  
  16. Form into a ball again.
  17. Place the dough into a panettone tin, or as I did line the base of an 18cm deep cake tin, with a removable base and line the sides with a double thickness of parchment paper, with comes to a height of about 7 or 8 inches, and place the dough in that.
  18. With a sharp knife cut a cross into the top of the dough.
  19. Gently cover again with plastic film and allow to prove for 2-3 hours until the dough has again risen to double its' size.
  20. As the dough comes to the end of this second proving preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350 F.
  21. Ensure that racks are removed to allow room for the tin to go into the oven with out touching any elements.
  22. Remove the plastic film and use an egg wash to brush over the top of the dough.
  23. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. 
  24. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then remove the cake from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  25. To store the cake you can wrap it in plastic wrap and then tin foil to keep it fresh for up to a week.


Saturday, 19 December 2015

Golden Syrup Cupcakes

I do love golden syrup and those nice people at Lyle who make the most popular brand in the UK, have some very nice recipes on their website.  I opted to try the cupcake recipe, since it is very straightforward and promised to be simply delicious.You can see the original recipe here.  Or you can read it below, as I did it.

It is all very easy, particularly if you have a stand mixer or a hand mixer.  But it can also be done by hand with a mixing bowl and a spoon.

My attempt turned out very well indeed, and the taste of the light sponge, with a slight taste of golden syrup perfectly fits with the soft buttercream frosting.  I highly recommend these cupcakes.

Of course if you are unable to get golden syrup you can use corn syrup or make golden syrup yourself, which is very easy, using just water, sugar and a couple of slices of lemon.  There is an easy to follow recipe for that on Food .com.
Golden Syrup Cupcakes




Golden Syrup Cupcakes Video

Ingredients:
Cupcakes:
  • 185g (6½oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 150g (5oz)  golden caster sugar
  • 185g (6½oz) self-raising flour
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp milk
Buttercream & decoration:
  • 110g (4oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g (7oz) icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup + extra for drizzling
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160° Fan, 350°F, Gas 4 while you combine the butter, caster sugar, flour, eggs and milk together in a bowl. Beat with a mixer until soft and creamy.
  2. Divide the mixture between paper cases in a 12-hole muffin tin and bake on the middle shelf for 20-25 minutes until well risen and golden brown (and they spring back when lightly pressed with a finger). Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool while you make the buttercream.
  3. Plonk the butter in a bowl, sift over the icing sugar and mix until soft, then add the golden syrup and milk and stir it smooth.
  4. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and decorate the cakes with a swirl of butter cream.
  5. You’re ready to just drizzle over a little golden syrup, lightly dust with icing sugar and serve away.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

St Lucia Buns - Lussekatter

I came across a bun that I had never heard of, from Scandinavia, St. Lucia Buns, or Lussekatter.  Usually eaten on 13th December each year, in honour of St Lucia they have saffron in them and sometimes cardamom as well.  Most recipes had a reversed 's' shaped bun, though some had a normal 's' shape.  Some used quark while others used sour cream, double cream, natural yogurt and milk.  So I came up with the combination that would work with what I had in the fridge, which was milk and natural yogurt.

Although they take a little time, and are a little fiddly, most of the time is waiting for the dough to prove.  Certainly once the dough is ready they don't take long to bake. 
St. Lucia Buns - Lussekatter

Mine turned out very nicely, so I was quite pleased with myself.  They are a lovely soft bun, with a very interesting flavour.  I think they are ideal as a breakfast bun.  I am sure I will make them again since I thoroughly enjoyed the taste.

St. Lucia Buns

Ingredients:
  • 240ml milk
  • 60 ml natural yogurt
  • .5g saffron, ground to powder or cut very finely
  • 75g butter, cubed
  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 7g dry active yeast
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cardamom
  • 1 large egg 
  • 24 plump raisins
  • oil for greasing
  • 1 medium egg, beaten, for brushing on top of the buns.
Method:
  1. Place the milk and the saffron, together with a couple of teaspoons of sugar, into a saucepan and heat until steaming.
  2. Remove the milk from the heat and put the butter in so that it will melt, and cool the milk at the same time.
  3. Sprnkle the yeast over the milk mixture and stir.  Then leave for 5 to 10 minutes for the yeast to activate and start to froth.
  4. Pour the milk mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, add the cardamom and the egg and beat until mixed together.
  5. Add the sugar and beat again.
  6. Add the flour, gradually, in thirds and mix until combined.
  7. Change from the paddle attachment to the kneading attachment and knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is still slightly sticky, but not enough to completely stick to your hands.
  8. Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a ball.
  9. Grease another bowl and place the dough in it to prove, for between 1 and 2 hours, covering the bowl with clingfilm, until it has double in size.
  10. Remove the dough from the bowl and knock back, to take the air out.
  11. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts.
  12. Roll each part into a snake, about 14 inches long.
  13. Curl each end into a spiral, making a reverse 's' shape.
  14. Place each 's' onto a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. ( I used two baking sheets, with 6 on each)
  15. Cover the dough again, with oiled clingfilm, and leave to double in size.
  16. Whilst they are doing the second prove preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F.
  17. When the buns have double in size brush each one with beaten egg.
  18. Poke a raisin into the middle of each swirl of the reverse 's'.
  19. Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes, until the buns have gone a nice golden colour and the underside sounds hollow when tapped.
  20. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.




Monday, 14 December 2015

Chocolate Shortbread -Using A Cookie Press

Today I got another cookie press, which I hoped would work better than the one I used last week.  To try it out I decided on Chocolate Shortbread, using a recipe in the booklet that came with it.  For info the cookie press is made by OXO.  The recipe was for 12 dozen cookies, which is far more than I wanted, even though they are very small.  So I decided to halve the recipe.

It all worked very well indeed, and the cookies turned out very well.  I also discovered that doing two clicks would make a larger cookie, though the pattern is not so defined.  I tried that on a few, just as an experiment.
Chocolate Shortbread Cookies - made using a cookie press

These cookies are a nice shortbread with a lovely chocolate flavour, but it isn't overpowering.  They go very well indeed with a cup of tea.  They are also a nice size, for popping into the mouth.  So all in all I am very pleased with the result and with the purchase.

Chocolate Shortbread

Ingredients:  This is the halved recipe, for 72 cookies(I got 74)
  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 220g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 100g sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 medium egg(large in USA)
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 190c/170C Fan/375 F
  2. Sieve the flour, salt and cocoa powder together
  3. Cream the butter, then add the sugar and cream it again.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until all combined.
  5. Gradually add the flour mixture and fully combine.
  6. Load the batter into a cookie press, with the plate of your choice.
  7. Press out the cookies onto baking sheets, that are neither greased or lined with paper.
  8. Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes until fully cooked.
  9. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Saturday, 12 December 2015

Christmas Stollen Cake

I wanted to try Stollen, since I have never eaten it.  So I had a look around and found a Delia Smith recipe for Waitrose which seemed quite easy.  It was different to other recipes, in that it didn't seem to need any kneading of the dough.  I also watched the video and everything seemed to work out quite well.  So that is what I opted to try.  

I think I will also try another recipe to see how the result actually differs. But this one worked well enough for me and I must say it is nice and light and tastes delicious.   With lots of fruit, some almonds and marzipan it is a very nice alternative to the traditional British christmas cake.

I did make one change to the recipe.  Since the other recipes I saw all seemed to brush melted butter over the baked stollen and then sift icing sugar on top of that I decided that it was probably more traditional than the icing that Delia's recipe suggested.  So I omitted the icing and went with butter and icing sugar instead.

I hope to try panettone as well in the next week or so, just to see how that differs too.

In the meantime this is a good recipe and very easy to follow.
Christmas Stollen Cake


Christmas Stollen Cake - Video
Ingredients:
  • 350g strong white flour
  • a pinch of fine salt
  • 2 teaspoons easy bake yeast
  • 40g currants (I like pinhead)
  • 25g whole candied peel, finely chopped
  • 50g sultanas
  • 40g no-soak apricots, chopped
  • 40g natural glace cherries, quartered
  • 25g almonds, chopped (skin on)
  • the grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 40g golden caster sugar
  • 110g spreadable butter
  • 110ml hand-hot milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 175g white almond icing (marzipan). See related recipe below
  • 50g melted butter
  • 4 tbsp icing sugar
Method:
  1. First put 300g of the flour, together with the salt and yeast, into a mixing bowl and give it a quick mix. 
  2. Sprinkle in the currants, candied peel, sultanas, apricots, glace cherries, chopped almonds, lemon zest and caster sugar and give it all a stir before making a well in the centre. 
  3. Then add the butter and pour over the hand-hot milk. Add the beaten egg and mix everything together with a spatula– until the mixture is well blended. 
  4. Now sprinkle 25g flour on to a board (you’ll need this because the mixture is very sticky), and pile the mixture on top. Then turn the dough over in the flour and knead lightly to form a ball.
  5. Now return the dough to its bowl and place it in a polythene bag closed with a clip and leave it at room temperature until it has doubled in size (the time this takes can vary depending on the temperature – it could take up to 2 hours). 
  6. After that, turn the risen dough out on to a board floured with the remaining 25g of flour. Punch the air out of it and knead it back into a smooth ball and then shape the dough out to an oblong about 15 x 20 cm with a floured rolling pin. 
  7. Using your hands, roll out the marzipan to form a sausage shape about 14cm long and place width ways in the centre of the dough, finishing just short of the edges. Simply bring one side over the marzipan, followed by the other. 
  8. Then carefully turn it over, so that the seam is underneath, and place it diagonally on the baking sheet, allowing plenty of room for expansion. 
  9. Put the whole thing in one, or you may need two, lightly oiled polythene bags and leave it to prove in a warm place until it has doubled in size again. (This will take about an hour).
  10. Pre-heat the oven to180°C gas mark 4.
  11. Remove the bag and bake for 40 minutes in the centre of the oven. 
  12. As soon as it is out of the oven brush all over the tops and sides with melted butter.
  13. Sift icing sugar over the top.
  14. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Orange Pecan Pie(or Tart)

I found a great recipe on Allrecipes for Orange Pecan Pie.  I am always unsure whether a pie should have a top crust as well, so I opted to call mine pie(or tart).  I also made a change to the recipe on that site, since a reviewer seemed to imply the filling didn't set.  I also decided to make my own pastry cake, rather than use a shop bought one.

I really enjoyed making this, and my pastry case turned out perfectly, with some dough left over for me to use for something else.  My change to the recipe was to only use 180ml of golden syrup, rather than 240 ml.  Also I used golden syrup instead of corn syrup, since I love the flavour and obtaining corn syrup in the UK is quite difficult.

The pie is out of the oven and I can smell the lovely aroma of orange as I sit here typing this blog entry.

I made a huge mistake too, but not related to the baking.  Rather it was on the making of a video to accompany the recipe.  I tested a wireless lavalier microphone and it worked fine.  So I decided to use that.  But as I attached the transmitter to the back of my trousers I must have changed the transmitting channel, so that it no longer matched the channel set on the receiver.  Thus I ended up with a nice video and absolutely no sound.  So for this recipe I will not be posting the video.

The recipe for both the pastry case and the filling are both very simple, so if you like oranges and pecans I urge you to give this a try.

I really enjoyed the taste of the end result and can thoroughly recommend it, a wonderfully crisp and buttery pastry with a lovely orange and pecan filling.

Orange Pecan Pie/Tart

Ingredients:
For the pastry:

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

For the filling:

  • 180ml golden syrup
  • 110g chopped pecans
  • 3 medium eggs(in USA large),beaten
  • 57g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1tbsp orange juice
  • zest of two oranges
  • 1/2tsp salt

Method:

  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 25cm 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 but reduce to 180c/160c Fan/350F).
  4. In a large bowl whisk the eggs and then add the butter,salt and sugar and beat together.
  5. Add the orange juice and orange zest and beat to combine.
  6. Add the pecans and stir in.
  7. Pour the mixture into the cooled pastry case and place in the oven to bake for 45 minutes, until the mixture has set.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least ten minutes before removing from the tin.  Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Serve with some whipped cream, or ice-cream.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Lemon Coconut Loaf Cake

I just love coconut, so when I found a recipe for Lemon Coconut Loaf Cake on Allrecipes I just had to try it.

A lovely light cake, with some thin icing brushed over the top for more coconut to be sprinkled over is simply wonderful.

The recipe is quite easy to follow and doesn't use a huge number of ingredients, but the resultant loaf cake really tastes superb.  The smell of the coconut filling the room as it bakes just whets the appetite so that you can hardly wait to get it out of the oven and start eating.

My version was browning around the edge and with 25 minutes to go I decided to put some tin foil around the edge to stop further browning.  Easy to do, just take an oblong of tin foil, slightly larger that the opening in your tin, fold over the edge to about a inch wide and cut out the centre.  Then just place on top of the baking cake.


Lemon Coconut Loaf Cake

Having taken it out of the oven and topped it with the icing and coconut it was simply a case of letting it cool until completely cold and then cutting myself a slice. The taste is just wonderful, and extremely moreish. 

Lemon Coconut Loaf Cake Video

Ingredients:
For the cake:
  • 120g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • pinch salt
  • 120ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 4 tablespoons dessicated coconut
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
For the lemon icing:
  • 3 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Extra dessicated coconut, if you like
Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 C 160 C Fan/350F / gas mark 4. 
  2. Lightly grease a 900g loaf tin.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and lemon juice. 
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Sieve the flour and salt; add to creamed butter mixture alternately with the milk. 
  6. Stir in the dessicated coconut and grated lemon.
  7. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 
  8. If the edge of the cake is browning too quickly you can cover just the edge with silver foil to stop it from burning.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then remove from the tin onto a wire rack.
  10. Stir the lemon juice into the icing sugar to make a slightly thick (but still runny) icing to and brush over the cake. 
  11. Sprinkle more coconut over the top, if you like. Let it harden slightly before slicing.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies

One of my sisters sent me a link on Pinterest to some very nice looking cookies, which were ginger dipped in white chocolate and decorated with holly and berries.

I thought I would give them a try, though not at all confident about holly and berries.  That called for Candy Melts and piping. I was right to worry, Candy Melts are not something I will be trying again.  Having searched all over for them I rather wish I hadn't bothered.  But I did manage a little decoration, even though it wasn't very good.

The recipe came from Cooking Classy and I followed it fairly precisely, though converting to metric measures.

The end result is a very tasty cookie and the white chocolate dipping worked fine as well.  These are well worth trying, especially if you are proficient in piping.
White chocolate dipped ginger cookies

Ingredients:

  • 290g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 170g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 110g soft brown sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 60ml molasses(or dark treacle)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g white chocolate chips
  • 3 tsp vegetable shortening(I used Trex)
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar.

Method:
  1. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg for 20 seconds, set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar until well blended. 
  3. Mix in egg. 
  4. Blend in molasses and vanilla. 
  5. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill 1 hour. Preheat oven to 180C/160C Fan/350 degrees during last 10 minutes of chilling.
  6. Scoop dough out about 1 1/2 Tbsp at a time, shape into balls then roll in remaining 3 Tbsp granulated sugar. 
  7. Transfer to Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart (keep dough chilled that is not currently baking), flatten tops just slightly (to evenly level). 
  8. Bake in preheated oven 8 - 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. In a microwave safe bowl, melt 1 cup white chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp shortening at a time in microwave on HIGH power in 10 second intervals, stirring between intervals, until melted, smooth and fairly runny (I did batches of it because it will cool as your dipping, plus its easy to burn so you don't want to work with too much of it at a time. Then once you've used it up melt more, you may not need all 3 cups). Dip half of each cookie in melted white chocolate mixture then run bottom of cookie slightly along edge of bowl to remove excess, then return to Silpat or parchment paper to set at room temperature.
  10. If doing the holly decoration, melt candy melts according to directions on package (I worked in small batches because it sets quickly, maybe 9 chips at a time, plus you won't need much). Pour into a piping bags fitted with a #4 tip and pipe decorations. Allow to set a room temperature.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Sour Cream & Cranberry Muffins

I found a lovely recipe for Sour Cream and Cranberry Muffins on Midwest Living.  Reading it just made me want to make them immediately.  I had to wait though, until I could buy some more cranberries.  So today I set about making them. 
Sour Cream & Cranberry Muffins

The recipe calls for pumpkin pie spice mix. That is not something that is readily available in the UK, so I looked around for a recipe to make my own.  In the recipe below I will list the spice ingredients individually, so that those who cant find the pumpkin pie spice mix wont have to search on how to make it. 

The muffins, stuffed with cranberries and with pecan nuts and and the spice mix really do taste very good indeed and turned out very well.

I have made a video of this recipe which you can see below, or on youtube here: https://youtu.be/xwuJxsBtmA4



Sour Cream and Cranberry Muffins - Video

Ingredients:
  • 190g plain flour
  • 57g unsalted butter,
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 225g sour crean
  • 120ml milk
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 35g chopped pecan nuts
  • 55g soft brown sugar
  • 25g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp all spice
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
  2. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin, or line with muffin cases.
  3. In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt together and cut in the butter until you have a sort of breadcrumb like texture.
  4. In another bowl combine the sour cream, milk, egg, 100g sugar.
  5. Mix the sour cream mixture into the dry mixture until just combined, it will still be a little lumpy.
  6. Gently fold in the dried cranberries.
  7. Mix the spices, brown sugar and 25g granulated sugar and pecans together.
  8. Divide half the muffin batter into the 12 muffins cases.
  9. Sprinkle half the spice and nut mixture on top of that batter.
  10. Divide the remaining batter into the muffin cases
  11. Sprinkle the remaining spice and nut mixture over the top.
  12. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a skewer poked into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
  13. Remove from the oven.  Allow to cool for a few minutes and then transfer the muffins to a cooling rack.



Friday, 4 December 2015

Spritz Cookies/Swedish Butter Biscuits

Having bought a cookie/biscuit press I decided I would try to make some Spritz Cookies, a very short, melt in the mouth, type of cookie. 

I had a recipe supplied with the press so I tried that for this time, making only one change, to add some lemon extract for a little extra flavour.

The resultant cookies are wonderful in taste and the recipe worked well.  But I think if I could somehow make them slightly thicker they would be even better.  One design didn't work so well, the bobbly ring cookies at bottom left of the photo.  There was also another bobble in the middle of the design, but the dough didn't spread enough on baking to attach it to the rest of the ring.  That apart I am very pleased with the results.  More practice with dough of a slightly different consistency will actually perfect the technique, I am sure.

Meanwhile as a first attempt I am quite pleased with these.
Spritz Cookies

Ingredients:
  • 260g plain flour
  • 225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 2 medium egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract

Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160C Fan/350F.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy( I used a stand mixers)
  3. Add the eggs and mix to combine.
  4. Add the vanilla extrac and lemon extract and combine.
  5. Add the flour and mix until fully combined into a stiff batter.
  6. If you are using a cookie press add the batter into the barrel of the press and choose the pattern plate.
  7. Press the cookies onto a baking sheet.
  8. If not using a press place the batter into a piping bag and pipe into whatever shapes you wish.
  9. Add any extras such as glace cherries or chopped nuts.
  10. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on size and thickness, until the edges start to brown.
  11. Remove from the oven and gently transfer to a cooling rack.  They will be very fragile, so take care.