Friday, 30 September 2016

Bakewell Tart Squares(Frangipane Squares)

I just love Bakewell Tart, that wonderful confection that has a pastry base with a layer of raspberry jam and then topped with frangipane.  It is simply delicous.  I have made a couple of variations of Bakewell Tart for this blog, but today I decided that I would make a large tart that can be cut into squares and eaten however one likes, with cream, ice-cream or just on their own.

Although the recipe takes a little time it is quite simple to do, but there are a few steps involved so you have to be a little patient.

The result is a most rewarding treat, a lovely buttery shortcrust pastry and a beautifully moist frangipane to complement the sharp raspberry jam.  To top it all off a scattering of shaved almonds on the top before baking gives an additional crunch to the whole thing.  I always use seedless raspberry jam, but I am sure jam with seeds in would be fine too.

If you have the time this recipe is really worth trying, I am sure you wont be disappointed.
Bakewell Tart/Frangipane Tart Squares

Bakewell Tart/Frangipane Tart Squares - Video

For the pastry base:
  • 125 cold butter cut into cubes
  • 300g plain flour
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg (large in USA)
  • 1 additional egg to use as an egg wash on the pastry.
  • 2 tbsp milk( you may not need it all)
For the filling:
  • 225g softened unsalted butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp almond extract (optional, if you want a stronger almond flavour)
  • 3 medium eggs (large in USA)
  • 50g plain flour
  • zest of one lemon
  • Raspberry Jam, to go on top of the pastry( I used about 150g)
  • Flaked Almonds to scatter on the top(I used 50g, but less would also be fine)

  1. Make the pastry first by placing the flour, butter and sugar into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. 
  2. Add the egg and pulse until the mixture comes together to form a rough dough. 
  3. Add enough of the milk so that pulsing makes the dough start to form large clumps.
  4. Remove from the processor and shape into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile prepare a 12in x 8in (30cm x 20cm) baking tin by greasing it and lining it with parchment paper.
  6. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to 12 x 8 inches. If it cracks don't worry, it is very short and you can patch it easily.
  7. Place the rolled out dough into the lined tin, it should entirely cover the bottom, but not go up the sides.
  8. Cover and refrigerate for a further 30 minutes.
  9. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas 6.
  10. Remove the tin from the fridge and prick the dough, all over the surface, with a fork.
  11. Place a layer of parchment paper over the dough and pour in baking beans so that you can blind-bake the pastry.
  12. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is lightly golden-brown.
  13. Remove the paper and beans and brush the pastry all over with the egg wash and place it back in teh oven for a further 5 minutes.. 
  14. After 5 minutes remove the pastry from the oven and set aside.
  15. Reduce the heat of the oven to 180C/160 Fan/350F/Gas 4.
  16. For the filling, beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer, with paddle attachment, until light and fluffly( you can do this by hand too).
  17. Add the eggs, and the almond extract, and mix until fully combined with the butter mixture.
  18. Mix in the ground almonds, . 
  19. Fold in the lemon zest and the flour.
  20. Spread  the raspberry jam generously across the base of the pastry, leaving a /1in gap around the edge.
  21. Spread the filling mixture over the jam and sprinkle over the flaked almonds.
  22. Bake the tart for 20 - 30 minutes, until the filling is set and golden-brown. Allow to cool in the tin before serving.
  23. To serve, cut the tart into 2in squares, or whatever size you wish.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Snickerdoodles - A Cinnamon Sugar Cookie

I have never tried Snickerdoodles, and hadn't even seen them before, so I decided to make them to see what they are like.  

A sweet sugar cookie that is flavoured with cinnamon sugar on the outside the recipe is very basic, and easy to make.  I did some research, checking various recipes and they all seem to be very much the same, with varying amounts of cinnamon and with some using cream of tartar while others don't.

I must say that having made mine and tasted them I am won over to these deliciously light cookies. They are ideal with a nice cup of tea, with a crisp outside and a soft, chewy centre. I only used 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, giving a hint of cinnamon flavour.  If you want a bigger hit of cinnamon you may wish to double the amount used.

My recipe below will make at least 3 dozen, of the size I made, which was using a slightly heaped tablespoon of the dough for each one.  Using a level tablespoon would probably make about 4 dozen, if you prefer them a little smaller.


Snickerdoodles - Video
  • 226g softened unsalted butter
  • 300g caster sugar(granulated is fine)
  • 350g plain flour
  • 2 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon 
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F
  2. Line a couple of baking trays with baking parchment.
  3. Cream the butter and caster sugar together until they are nice and soft and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat in until combined.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and beat that in as well.
  6. In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar together.
  7. Then add the flour mixture into the wet mixture and beat until fully combined.
  8. If the mixture is very soft(as it may be if the butter was very soft to start) place in the fridge to firmup a little.  This may take between 20 mins and an hour.
  9. Mix the granulated sugar and cinnamon together  until it is all even mixed.
  10. Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into balls, using about a slightly heaped tablespoon of dough.
  11. Roll each ball in the sugar and cinnamon mixture and place on the baking tray, leaving a good space between each ball to allow for spreading. ( I left at leach two inches between each ball).
  12. When you have rolled enough to fill two baking trays(you will have to do in batches probably) flatten each of the balls slightly with a glass and place them in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the sides are firm and the cookies are slightly golden.
  13. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  14. The cookies will be risen and domed when the come out of the oven and will sink slightly during cooling.
  15. When cool they can be transferred to an airtight container for storage, or eaten right away, where they will stay fresh for up to a week.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Boston Cream Cupcakes

Having enjoyed Boston Cream Doughnuts when I have been in Canada and the USA I wanted to make something with that taste.  Not wanting to do doughnuts I thought firstly of Boston Cream Pie, but then decided on some nice simple cupcakes instead.

I haven't actually had much time over the past few weeks, for baking, as I am organising my move to a new flat.  So a fairly simple recipe is what I needed to satisfy my craving for something sweet and to have something to post.  

These cupcakes are delicious, in fact so much so that I ate two before even filling and icing them.

For a Boston Cream filling I need to make some creme patissiere, a lovely thick vanilla custard.  Then I also needed a soft chocolate topping, using some golden syrup so that it doesn't set completely..

So this is a recipe in three parts, but you can make the creme patissiere in advance, and even the chocolate ganache too, if you wish.

I was very pleased at how mine turned out, they tasted so good, with the lovely cupcake texture, the awesome vanilla creme pat and the rich chocolate topping..  I only cut the cupcakes in half and sandwiched them halve together with creme pat.. Some people cut out a cone shape and fill that with creme pat, and that works well too.
Boston Cream Cupcakes

Boston Cream Cupcakes - video

For the cupcakes:
  • 195g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 113g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 2 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120ml milk(I used semi-skimmed)
For the creme patissiere:
  • 2 medium egg yolks(large in USA)
  • 20g cornflour
  • 40g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 240ml whole milk
  • 6g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the chocolate ganache topping:
  • 120g dark chocolate chips
  • 45g unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp golden syrup(corn syrup is fine)
  1. Make the creme patissiere first, by whisking the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Add the cornflour and salt and whisk in until smooth.
  3. Heat the milk in a saucepan until is is almost boiling, just beginning to bubble at the edge.
  4. Pour a little of the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk instantly.
  5. Add a little more milk and whisk again.
  6. Add the remaining milk and whisk again.
  7. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and put back on the heat, whisking or stirring constantly.
  8. When the mixture comes to the boil continue to whisk until it thickens and cook for about a minute.
  9. If you have any lumps of egg you can pass thru a sieve to remove.
  10. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, ensuring that it touches all over the surface of the creme patissiere, to avoid a skin forming.
  11. Allow to cool and then refrigerate.
  12. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/350f.
  13. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin.
  14. Place the softened butter and the granulated sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy(about 4 minutes).
  15. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat each until fully incorporated.
  16. Add the vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
  17. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.
  18. Add one third of the flour and beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  19. Add half the milk and beat to combine.
  20. Add another third of the flour and beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  21. Add the remaining milk and beat to combine.
  22. Add the remaing flour and beat to combine.
  23. Scrape down the sides and mix in any flour that is stuck to the sides of the bowl.
  24. Divide the mixutre equally into the 12 holes of the muffin tin.
  25. Bake in the oven for between 15 and 18 minutes until cooked and a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.
  26. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing the cupcakes onto a wire rack to cook completely.
  27. Place the chocolate chips, golden syrup and butter into a bowl over a pan of simmering water and allow to melt, stirring until you have a nice, silky smooth chocolate ganache.
  28. Remove the bowl from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.  The mixture will begin to thicken.
  29. Cut each cupcake in half, horizontally.
  30. Whisk or stir the creme patissiere to break it up into a smooth mixture again.
  31. Put some creme patissiere on top of the lower half of each cupcake and place the upper half on top.
  32. Gently pour chocolate ganache onto each cupcake, allowing it to spread to the edges, and even drip down the sides a little(if you wish).
  33. Allow the chocolate to cool completely(it should stay soft to the touch due to the syrup).

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Chocolate Mint Brownies

Today I made some wonderful brownies, with a mint filling and topped with more chocolate.  These are a very rich and moist brownie with the lovely hit of mint.

The recipe does take a time to make, as you must wait between each step for the brownie to cool, the fillling and then the topping to chill.  But it is most rewarding since you end up with a really lovely brownie.

They also have quite a bit of chocolate in them, 425grams, as well as cocoa powder.  I was very pleased indeed with how mine turned out, they taste great and, if cut correctly, look very good indeed.

I delivered some to a friend from the USA who said they tasted great too.
Chocolate Mint Brownies

Chocolate Mint Brownies - Video

  • 230g unsalted butter
  • 225g  semi-sweet chocolate, chopped(or chips)
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 90g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
Mint frosting layer:
  • 112g unsalted butter, softened 
  • 240g icing sugar
  • 30ml single cream(whole milk will be fine)
  • 1 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 drop liquid or gel green food coloring (optional)
Chocolate Topping:
  • 112g unsalted butter
  • 200g semi sweet chocolate chips(or coarsely chopped chocolate)

  1. Melt the butter and chopped chocolate in a bain marie(double boiler), stirring constantly, and allow to slightly cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C/160c Fan/350F.
  3. Line 9x13 baking pan with aluminium foil leaving an overhang to aid removal later.
  4. Whisk the granulated and brown sugars into the cooled chocolate/butter mixture. 
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. 
  6. Whisk in the vanilla.
  7. Gently fold in the salt, flour, and cocoa powder. 
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan  level off with a spatula.
  9. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until the brownies begin to pull away from the edges of the pan. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with only a few moist crumbs.
  10.  Allow the brownies to cool completely.  Leave in the tin.
  11. When the brownies have cooled, In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and icing sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 
  12. Add the cream and beat for another minute.
  13. Add the peppermint extract and food coloring (if using) and beat on high for 1 full minute.
  14. Taste to make sure you have the right level of mint, if not add more and mix again.
  15. Spread the frosting over the brownies, making level, and refrigerate for at least an hour. This will make it firm and ready for the chocolate topping.bain marie(double boiler) stirring constantly.
  16. Pour the melted chocolate mixture over the frosting and  gently spread all over.
  17. Refrigerate again for at least one hour until the chocolate topping has firmed up.
  18. Remove the whole thing from the tin and take off the aluminium foil.
  19. Cut  off any rough edges(if you wish), and cut into pieces of all the same size, using a knife dipped into hot water.  Clean off the knife and dip again after each cut.
  20. Serve at room temperature for a soft topping or from fridge for a firmer topping.  Store in an airtight box, in the fridge, if not eating all at once.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Chocolate Banana Loaf Cake

Today I baked a lovely Chocolate and Banana Loaf Cake, and topped with a chocolate ganache.  This is a simple recipe which I adapted, slightly, from BBC Good Food.  That had banana chips on the top as well but I didn't see the need for them and am always slightly dubious about quite how hard they can be, 

The recipe is very easy, as it is just a question of mixing all the ingredients together, except for having to whisk some of the egg whites before adding in.  

It takes very little time to prepare, so most of the time is taken on baking and cooling as the topping is made.

My attempt turned out very well, a lovely moist cake which tastes wonderful with the chocolate flavour infused with banana, and then the rich chocolate ganache on top.

I urge you to try this one, you will be amply rewarded.
Chocolate Banana Loaf Cake
Chocolate Banana Loaf Cake - Video
  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • half tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100g chocolate chips or chunks
  • 175g very ripe bananas
  • 1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites
  • 50ml milk
For the topping
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 100ml soured cream
Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. 
Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment (allow it to come 2cm above top of tin). 
Mix the sugar, flour, bicarb, cocoa and chocolate in a large bowl.
Mash the bananas in a bowl and stir in the whole egg plus 2 yolks, followed by the oil and milk. 
Beat the egg whites until stiff. 
Quickly stir the wet banana mixture into the dry ingredients, stir in a quarter of the egg whites to loosen the mixture, then gently fold in the rest. 
Gently scrape into the tin and bake for 1 hr 10-15 mins, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Cool in the tin on a wire rack. 
To make the icing, melt the chocolate and soured cream together in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.
 Chill in the fridge until spreadable. 
Remove cake from tin, roughly swirl icing over the top.