Saturday, 30 April 2016

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

I came across crinkle cookies, having never heard of them before and decided I would like to try them. At first I thought I would make some chocolate ones, but eventually decided upon lemon.

Crinkle cookies are balls of dough, rolled in icing sugar and as they bake the dough cracks to give a very nice effect, and leaves you with a slighty crunchy exterior and a soft cake-like interior. I actually used both granulated and icing sugar to roll my dough in, since I think granulated sugar will bake to a crunchier texture than the icing sugar.

They are very easy to make and don't take too long, though you do need to chill the dough in the fridge for about an hour before rolling into the balls for baking.

Another good thing is that they don't use many ingredients, at least in this lemon version.

Mine turned out very well indeed and have that lovely lemon flavour with the sweet crunchy crust on the outside.  I was very pleased with the results. The recipe made 19, though two were rather larger than the others, so I could have got 20.  I am sure I will return to these and will also make some chocolate ones in the future, though I have to decide just how much chocolate I want, since the various recipes I read use different amounts, and some only use cocoa powder.

But till then I will just enjoy these lovely lemon ones.
Lemon Crinkle Cookies

                                     Lemon Crinkle Cookies - video
Ingredients:
  • 250g plain flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • grated zest of 2 lemons
  • juice of one lemon
  • 90g softened unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g granulated sugar(optional)
  • 125 grams icing sugar
Method:
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together, either by hand or with a hand mixer or stand mixer.
  2. Add the egg and mix to combine.
  3. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix to combine.
  4. In a bowl mix the flour and baking powder together
  5. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir in until combined.
  6. Place the dough in the fridge for an hour, to chill.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350 F.
  8. Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.
  9. Roll the dough into 20 balls, using about one tablespoon of dough each time, and then roll each ball in the granulated sugar(if using) and then roll in icing sugar until completely coated.
  10. Place the balls on the baking trays, leaving a couple of inches to allow spreading, though they shouldn't spread too far.
  11. Bake in the oven for 10 to 13 minutes until the cookies are a nice dome shape and have cracked all over.
  12. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Almond Cake

I saw a wonderful looking cake on America's Test Kitchen for what they called the Best Almond Cake.  

I made a video of my attempt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksXwaH0HvU4The recipe involved taking flaked almonds and roasting them and then grinding them to use as the base for the cake. In my version I vary it slightly, in so much as I just used ground almonds, unroasted.  But I did roast some flaked almonds for the top.

I also had to convert from cups etc to metric measurements as that tends to be more precise in measuring.

The recommendation was to beat the eggs in a food processor, rather than in a stand mixer, as it would make the eggs less frothy and full of air than it the stand mixer.  I followed that instruction and everything turned out fine.

The cake, rich with almonds, also has a hint of lemon due to the inclusion of some zest.  It also has a nice crunchy top to complement a very moist cake.  

I can't claim that this is the best almond cake, as ATC does, since I didn't follow the recipe 100%, but I can confirm that it is truly delicious.  Since it is not complicated and the most time is in the baking I recommend this recipe to anyone.
Almond Cake


                                          Almond Cake - Video

Ingredients:
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 35g flaked almonds, roasted until lightly coloured brown
  • 96g plain flour
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 4 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • 71g melted unsalted butter
  • 80ml vegetable oil
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract
  • Zest of 2 lemons, with 1 tsp of it set aside for the topping
  • 20g granulated sugar for the topping
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 150C/130C Fan/300F.
  2. Grease a 23cm/9 inch springform cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
  3. In a bowl mix together the flour, ground almonds, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  4. In a food processor beat the egg with the caster sugar until mixed together and a pale yellow colour(about 2mins).
  5. Add the melted butter, oil, almond extract and the lemon zest(apart from the teaspoon held back for later) and process until combined.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the food processor and pulse for a couple of seconds 5 times.  The mixture will have just about combined.  Do not over-mix.
  7. Pour the batter into the cake tin and sprinkle the roasted flaked almonds over the top.
  8. Mix the remainign lemon zest into the granulated sugar and then sprinkle over the top of the batter and almonds.
  9. Bake in the oven for 55-65 minutes, until a skewer in the centre comes out clean.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around the edge to ensure it is not sticking to the tin and remove from the tin, placing on a wire rack to cool completely.



Sunday, 24 April 2016

Thumbprint Cookies X 3 - Lemon Curd - Raspberry- Marmalade

I decided to try some thumbprint cookies, having never had them before.  I saw, from researching, that the cookie dough would be very short indeed, so would crumble at almost the slightest touch.  That appealed since I love a short biscuit.  For filling I decided to experiment, since I had some home-made lemon curd as well as some raspberry jam and a lovely orange and tangerine marmalade.

I am pleased to say that they all worked out very nicely, with the basic lemon flavoured cookie dough and the various fillings.  I think my personal favourite would be the lemon curd ones, but they all tasted very good.

The recipe is very simple too, and takes only a little time to put together.  Most of the time is actually rolling the dough into balls, then making and filling the holes. 

1/2 to 2/4 of a cup of filling is all that would be needed.  If using lemon curd I am sure that a good shop bought one would work very well.  I simply used what I had made, for another purpose, to use up some of what was left over. 

The number of cookies the recipe will make will depend on how large you roll the balls.  I used about 1 tablespoon of dough for each cookie, and made 27.
Thumbprint Cookies

                                     Thumbprint Cookies - Video
Ingredients:
  • 260 grams plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 225g softened unsalted butter
  • 2 medium egg yolks(large in USA)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon(about 5 grams)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup of filling of choice(jam, preserves etc)
Method:
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy(I used a stand mixer)
  2. Add the egg yolks, vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix to combine.
  3. Mix the salt into the flour and then add to the butter mixture and beat until just combine.
  4. Refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes, to allow it to firm up and make it easier to work with.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.  Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
  6. Roll the dough into evenly sized balls, using about 1 tablespoon of dough each time, and place on the baking tray.
  7. Using something like the handle of a wooden spoon, dipped in flour, make a hole in the top of the dough balls.
  8. Fill each hole with the filling of choice
  9. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cookies have turned a light golden brown.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.




Saturday, 23 April 2016

Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Who doesn't enjoy a nice shortbread biscuit?  Not many people I am sure.  Add some dried cranberries into the mix and you have a really lovely biscuit, with the shortness of the buttery biscuit and the fruitiness of the blueberries. I have made these before, but with dried blueberries.  This time I thought I would use cranberries, for that added sharp flavour to complement the sweet shortbread.

A nice simple recipe is all you need for shortbread and very few steps.  This recipe will make 23 or 24 cookies, of just under a quarter of a cup of the mixture.

I also used a stand mixer this time, instead of a food processor, simply because it saves on washing up.  The stand mixer works well, but takes a little longer to process the flour and butter into a breadcrumb like texture.  You could use a food processor, the blades will cut the butter in much quicker, just by pulsing repeatedly.  You could even do the whole thing by hand, mixing the dry ingredients together and then rubbing the butter into the mixture, between your fingers, as you would for a pastry.

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


                            Cranberry Shortbread Cookies - Video
Ingredients:
  • 170g cold unsalted butter
  • 190g plain flour
  • 135g caster sugar
  • 35g cornflour
  • 70g dried cranberries
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F
  2. Place the flour, cornflour, salt and caster sugar into a stand mixer and mix to combine the ingredients
  3. Place the butter into the flour mixture and mix on slow to medium speed until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  You can do this by hand, rubbing together, or in a food processor just pulsing.
  4. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and add the cranberries, mixing them together to spread the fruit around.
  5. Divide the mixture evenly into the holes of mince pie tins, or you could use a muffin tin and press down to pack firmly, making them as level as you can.
  6. Bake in the oven for 17 - 20 minutes, until they are turning a nice golden colour.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Friday, 15 April 2016

Orange Friands

Having made friands a couple of times recently, and enjoyed them very much I thought I would try a different flavour.  I decided upon orange, and guessed that the zest of three oranges would be enough to give a good flavour.

Friands are very easy to make, and taste so good , being moist and almondy and then with the addition of whatever flavouring may have been used.

From start to finish these wonderful cakes can be ready in an hour, or less.  Although I used a friand tin to make mine a muffin tin would work just as well,

Mine turned out very well, and the orange flavour came through perfectly, so give these a try and you will most definitely not be disappointed.  The mixture makes 10 cakes if you fill to just below the top.  12 could easily be achieved by not filling quite so much.

Orange Friands
UPDATE:
Kyptus and Michelle, from Prague, made these delicious friands yesterday and sent me the following photo.  I must say they look very good indeed and it has been reported that they taste fantastic, and will not survive much beyond breakfast time this morning.
Kyptus and Michelle's Orange Friands, using a muffin tin

                                          Orange Friands - Video
Ingredients:
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 185g melted butter
  • 6 egg medium egg whites(would be large in USA
  • Zest of 3 oranges, finely grated.
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F
  2. Grease a friand pan, or a muffin pan.
  3. In a large bowl place the ground almonds and sift in the icing sugar and plain flour.
  4. Stir the bowl to mix all the dry ingredients.
  5. Add the orange zest and mix to spread evenly in the dry ingredients.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy, but not soft peaks.
  7. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the vanilla extract and egg whites.
  8. Stir in until combined into a thick batter.
  9. Add the cooled, melted butter and stir in until fully combined.
  10. The batter will now be of a runny consistency.
  11. Divide into the friand/muffin pan evenly.
  12. Bake in the oven for 20 to 22 minutes, until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely.



Sunday, 10 April 2016

Raspberry Mousse & Jelly(Jello) Cake

I decided to try something a little different to what I usaully do, A light sponge cake covered with mousse and then jelly(or jello).  I chose raspberry as my flavour since it is one of my favourites, and should go well in a mousse.

I also decided that rather than make a raspberry coulis, as I have done with several recipes in the past, I would actually use a seedless raspberry jam(jelly) as the flavour base for the mousse.  This makes the recipe much less labour intensive, since it is just a question of heating the jam, with a little water, and you have a usable coulis.

The first thing to do was to make a light, thin, sponge cake and allow it to cool.  Then it is ready for some mousse.  So that is the next thing to do, which takes a while, but not much effort.  When the mousse is made it is place on the sponge and refrigerated to cool and set.  Then it is time to make the jelly, let it cool and pour it on top of the mousse.  Then, when it has set in the fridge it is ready to eat.

So although it take a good while to make, most of that is waiting time, for things to cool and set.

The end result is a lovely dessert, with the sweet but sharp flavour of raspberries, the three textures of sponge, mousse and jelly, and is really refreshing.

Of course, it is also possible to add some fresh raspberries into the jelly to make it even prettier, but I wanted to leave mine just with the jelly topping and I am very pleased with the result.
Raspberry Mousse & Jelly(Jello) Cake

                       Raspberry Mousse & Jelly(Jello) Cake - Video
Ingredients:
For the sponge:
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • 15g melted unsalted butter
For the mousse:
  • 240ml of raspberry jam(jelly)
  • 30ml water
  • 2 1/2 tsp of powdered gelatin
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 480ml double cream
  • 35g caster sugar.
For the Jelly(jello)
  • 1 packet(135g) raspberry jelly(or a packet of jello)
  • 240ml boiling water
  • 120ml ice cold water.
Method:
  1. Grease a 9 inch/23cm round springform pan.  Preheat the oven to 180c/350F.
  2. Whisk the eggs in a bowl(stand mixer is good for this) with the sugar for about 5 minutes until you have a thick mixutre that has tripled in size and a ribbon stays on the top when the whisk is removed.
  3. Gently fold the melted butter into the egg batter
  4. Gently fold the flour into the egg mixture.
  5. Pour the batter into the cake tin and level it out.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until springy to the touch and browned on top.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
  8. Then remove the sponge from the tin and allow to cool completely.
  9. Wash the cake tin and line the sides with baking paper.  (I lined the bottom as well).
  10. Place the sponge back into the cake tin and set aside.
  11. As the cake cools you can make a raspberry coulis of your choice.
  12. For mine I heated 240ml of seedless raspberry jam and added 30 ml of water to thin slightly.
  13. Sprinkle the gelatin onto the lemon juice and allow the juice to be fully absorbed,
  14. With the jam almost boiling add the lemon/gelatin mixture and stir until it has dissolved.
  15. Set the jam aside to cool completely.
  16. When the jam is cooled beat the double cream in a bowl, with the 35g caster sugar until it thickens to just about a thick peak state.
  17. Gently fold in the jam mixture until fully combined.
  18. Pour the mousse mixture into the cake tin, to cover the sponge, and level it off.
  19. Place in the fridge to firm up, for at least three hours.  I left mine overnight.
  20. Melt the raspberry jelly in 240ml of boiling water(or make jello according to instructions, you only need about 3/4 pint), and stir until the cubes have fully dissolved.
  21. Add 120ml of ice cold water stir in. Set aside to cool completely.
  22. When the jelly mixture is completely cooled  pour it over the chilled mousse.  Be careful hor you pour it, I use a the back of a spoon to pour onto so the liquid gently lands on the mousse.
  23. Place in the refridgerator to cool and set.
  24. Gently removed from the springform tin, peeling the paper away from the sides and transfer to a serving plate.


Thursday, 7 April 2016

Grantham Gingerbreads

Watching a tv program, Great British Railway Journeys I saw Michael Portillo being introduced to a biscuit which he, and almost everyone else, had never known about. That was Grantham Gingerbread.  I hadn't heard of it either, so did some investigation.  It seems that it was first produced in 1740 and was eaten locally in Grantham, Lincolnshire until the 1970s.  Recently it has been making a bit of a resurgence in that town, apparently.  I found several recipes, mostly the same one repeated.  So I decided I would try to make them and see what was special about them.

The recipe can be seen on CookitSimply, as well as being reproduced below.  

Having now made them I can tell you a bit about them.  They are a sweet, and very crunchy biscuit that start out as a ball of dough and, during baking, become a domed biscuit that is hollow inside.  There is a lot of sugar in the biscuit, making it sweet, with a hint of ginger.  I think the next time I make them I will double the amount of ginger, just to give it an extra kick.  But certainly this first attempt turned out great and they taste so good.  Just a little extra ginger will, for me, improve them immensely.

If you want to try something that you are unlikely ever to have seen before then I recommend you to have a go at making these.
Grantham Gingerbreads


                                Grantham Gingerbreads - Video
Ingredients:
  • 112g softened butter
  • 340g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg, beaten(in the USA this would be large)
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger(I think a little more would be better, up to 2 tsp)
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 150C/135c Fan/300F
  2. In a bowl cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. (a stand mixer or food processor is fine for all of this recipe)
  3. Gradually add the beaten egg until fully combined.
  4. In a bowl mix the self raising flour and ground ginger together.
  5. Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture and beat until fully combined.  (it will pull together into clumps, you can stop at that stage).
  6. Divide the mixture into small round balls, weighing about 25g each and place on baking trays, leaving room for them to spread somewhat during baking.(you should get 30 balls)
  7. Bake in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes until they have spread, and domed, with some cracks on the top, and are a light golden colour.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  9. They will be firm of the outside and hollow and slightly honeycombed on the inside.
  10. Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Lamingtons - An Australian Treat

Lamingtons are something I read about a while back and have been considering making.  So I watched a few videos and checked out some recipes.  Originating in Australia and named after an erstwhile governor of Queensland, these cakes seem to come in several variations, but all have a cake centre, a chocolate coating and then coconut on the outside.  

Some also have some jam in the middle.  I have even seen some with cream on top.  I decided to make a butter cake, though others use a heavily egg based  sponge cake.  I wanted to make sure my cake was solid enough for dipping in the coating.

Then I had another idea, that was to make a flavour variation, so may be not really a Lamington at all, for some of the cakes.

So I ended up with 8 chocolate and coconut cakes and 8 of my variation which was strawberry jelly(jello) instead of the chocolate.

In the recipe below the cake will make 16 even sized squares, and I give the ingredients for enough of each of the coatings to cover 8 cakes.  If you just want to try the chocolate ones you simply need to double the chocolate icing ingredients.

They are a little bit messy to make, since your hands will get covered in the coating and the coconut, unless you use spoons to do everything.

My chocolate ones turned out just as expected.  The strawberry ones were fine too, in the end, but I did suffer from the eagerness syndrome, wanting to get them coated before the jelly was sufficiently think to coat properly.  This meant that when I first dipped the cakes into the the jelly it simply absorded into the cake.  So I coated them with coconut and then waited for the jelly to become thicker and coated them again.  That meant that the cakes were wet, but after refrigerating they firmed up nicely.  The flavour of strawberry was therefore also in the cake which made them very nice.  But for me the favourite was definitely the chocolate variety.  So the Australians clearly have it right.  

I think that when making the jelly the amount of boiling vs cold water should be varied from what I did for mine, so I have adjusted the recipe to reflect that. With mine I didn't use enough ice cold water, so I had to wait longer for the jelly to start setting.

I believe they are very popular there, particularly on Australia Day.

These cakes are really worth the effort, so give them a try.
Lamingtons - Two variations

                               Lamingtons - Two variations - Video
Ingredients:
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 113 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 200 grams granulated white sugar
  • 2 medium eggs (large in USA)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120 ml milk, at room temperature
Chocolate Icing:
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 22g unsalted butter
  • 60ml milk
  • 100g dessicated coconut to coat icing
Strawberry Jelly Coating:
  • 135g packet of strawberry jelly(or equivalent in Jello, to make 3/4 pint)
  • 210 ml boiling water
  • 2200 ml ice cold water
  • 100g dessicated coconut to coat the jelly.
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350.
  2. Grease an 8 inch/20cm square cake tin and line the base with parchment paper ( I also placed two layers of brown paper around the outside of my tin, but this isn't strictly necessary)
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and airy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat in.
  5. Add the vanill extract and beat in.
  6. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.
  7. Add the dry ingredients, in three separate additions, alternating with half the milk, so flour, milk, flour, milk and then the last of the flour.
  8. Beat to combine and place the batter into the cake tin, levelling it out and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked and a skewer in the centre comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for ten minutes.
  10. Remove from the cake tine and allow to cool completely.
  11. Break the jelly into individual cubes, in a bowl.
  12. Pour the boiling water over the jelly and stir until it has all dissolved.
  13. Pour the ice cold water over it and stir in it.  Set aside to cool and begin to set.
  14. Place the icing sugar, cocoa powder, 22g of butter and 60 ml of milk in a bowl and place onto a saucepan of gently simmering water.  
  15. Stir the mixture until the butter has melted and everything has formed a nice, silky chocolate sauce.
  16. Cut the cake in half, placing one half in the fridge.
  17. Cut the remaining half into 8 equal squares.
  18. For each square dip the top and sides in the chocolate sauce to coat(you can also coat the bottom at this stage, by I did that later)
  19. Coat the square with dessicated coconut and place on a wire rack.
  20. When all 8 are done allow to set a little.
  21. Then turn each one over and coat the bottom with chocolate and then coconut and allow to set firm.
  22. When the jelly has started to set take the remaining half of the cake out of the fridge and cut into 8 equal squares.
  23. Coat with the setting jelly, as you did with the chocolate, and then cover with coconut.
  24. Place in the fridge to allow the jelly to fully set.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Biscotti - Hazelnut & Date

I do like biscotti and am always up for trying something new, in terms of flavour combinations.  So hazelnut and date seemed like it was worth trying.  I saw it on Paul Hollywood's site.  Biscotti are quite easy to make and don't take long. But they are very rewarding, since they not only taste great with tea or coffee, but they also keep for up to a month.  So there is no need to worry if you don't eat them all in a couple of days.

As long as they are in an airtight container they will be just as good weeks later.  

As for the recipe it is only a question of making a dough, ensuring that it isn't too wet, and then incorporating hazelnuts, dates and lemon zest.  Forming the shape and then baking, slicing and baking again.

What could be simpler?
Hazelnut & Date Biscotti


                                  Hazelnut & Date Biscotti -Video
Ingredients:
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 200g hazelnuts, chopped
  • 100g dates, chopped
  • zest of one lemon finely grated.
  • 3 medium eggs - beaten
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/325 F
  2. In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder and sugar together.
  3. Gradually add the egg and beat until you have a dough.  Don't add more egg than necessary to make the dough.  It should not be sticky. If it is sticky add more flour.
  4. Add the hazelnuts, dates and lemon zest and mix into the dough.
  5. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently to ensure the ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Divide the dough in two and form into sausages about 4 cm in diameter and lay on a baking tray, leaving room for them to spread.
  7. Flatten each sausage slightly.
  8. Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for ten minutes.  The biscotti will then be firm enough to slice.
  10. Cut into slices, on the diagonal, about 2 to 3cm/1 inch wide.
  11. Place them back on the baking sheet and bake for a further 30 minutes, turning each on half way through to ensure that they bake evenly and dry out.
  12. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.