Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Portuguese Custard Tarts - Pasteis De Nata

I recently tasted my first Portuguese Custard Tart and it was simply wonderful.  Now we do have custard tarts in England, usually made with shortcrust pastry.  But these Portuguese ones, with puff pastry, are very different.  Baked until the top is bubbling and with brown patches on the top, formed as the custard bakes, they taste great, with a nice crisp crunch to the pastry.

Known as Pastel De Nata, or Pasteis De Nata(maybe that it the plural) they are very popular in Portugal and increasingly so everywhere else as well.  Usually they are made in special individual tins, but a muffin tin will work just fine, so that is what I shall be using.

For my recipe I made my own puff pastry, but shop bought ready rolled, as long as it is 'all butter' puff pastry will be fine too.  That would actually make them much quicker to make.  These days the quality of shop bought puff pastry is very good, so really there is no need to make your own unless you really want to. 

The custard filling is easy too, milk, eggs and flour will do it, with just a hint of cinnamon and vanilla for extra flavour.  The flour is to aid the setting as the tarts bake.

My recipe below makes about 500g of puff pastry, but you don't need that much for 12 tarts, if made in a muffin tin, so you can save the rest and use later.  

I am very pleased with how my tarts turned out.  They taste so good and the pastry was so flaky it was very difficult to eat only one, so I had more.
Portuguese Custard Tart - Pasteis de Nata
Portuguese Custard Tarts - Video

Ingredients:
For the puff pastry:
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100ml ice cold water
  • 15ml lemon juice or white wine vinegar or white vinegar(this keeps the pastry from turning a dirty grey colour during rolling)
  • 200g unsalted butter, straight from the fridge.
For the custard filling:
  • 40g plain flour
  • 60ml whole milk
  • 165ml water
  • 240g caster sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick(optional)
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks(xl in USA)
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
Method: (if using shop bought pastry jump to step 23)
  1. To make the puff pastry put the flour and salt into a large bowl and mix to combine.
  2. Add the cold water and the lemon juice and stir the mixture together, by hand or with a wooden spoon, to form a rough dough.
  3. When the dough has formed place it on the work surface and knead for about two minutes.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and make two deep cuts, in the shape of a cross.
  5. Place back in the bowl and cover, then refrigerate for one hour.
  6. After one hour take the dough and push the 'ears' outwards, that is the four quarters that form the cross.
  7. Roll the dough out until it is roughly square, with the 'ears' still visible.
  8. Take the butter and hit with a rolling pin to soften it to the same consistency of the flour, and until it is about 18cm square.
  9. Place the butter onto the dough, diagonally, so the ears of the dough are poking out.
  10. Pull one ear up and onto the dough and press down firmly.
  11. Pull the opposite ear up and onto the dough, slightly overlapping the previous one.
  12. Do the same with the other two ears of dough.
  13. Now the butter should be fully enclosed.  Make sure the seams of the dough are fully joined.
  14. Turn the dough so that the north/south end are the ones folded under the east/west ones.
  15. Roll the dough out, gently, until it is about 3 times the length of the original.
  16. Fold one third of the dough up and onto the middle third. 
  17. Fold the other third up and onto the covered middle third.  That is one 'turn'
  18. Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, for 30 minutes and then do a second turn ensuring that the open ends are facing north to south, the direction of rolling.  
  19. Fold as before and chill again for 30 minutes.  That is the second turn.
  20. Repeat the process until you have done 6 turns(if the dough doesn't get too warm you can achieve two turns between each chilling in the fridge.
  21. After the 6th chill(3rd if you do two turns before chilling each time) the dough is ready to use.
  22. Roll the dough out until it is about 30cm(12 inches) by 50cm(20 inches).
  23. Roll the dough up tightly, using the long side, to form a sausage shape.
  24. Chill in the fridge for an hour.
  25. Place the 40g of flour into a bowl and add the 60ml milk and whisk until smooth
  26. Place the sugar, water and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and heat until the temperature reaches 100C.
  27. While the sugar mixture is heating place the 250ml milk in another pan and heat until just about boiling.
  28. Pour the milk into the flour and milk mixture and whisk to combine.
  29. Add the vanilla extract and stir in.
  30. When the sugar has reached 100C remove the cinnamon stick and carefully pour into the milk mixture.  
  31. Whisk together and continue whisking for about 10 to 15 minutes until it has cooled considerably, so that it wont cook the eggs.
  32. Add the eggs and whisk to combine.  
  33. Strain the mixture to remove any lumps and set the custard aside.
  34. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/430F
  35. Cut 12 slices off the roll about an inch and a half long, and refrigerate the remainder for later use.
  36. Stand each slice on end, so that the layers are shown on the top and bottem and roll out large enough to fill the base and sides of the muffin tin and gently place them in the tins. (You could just roll out and use a cookie cutter if you wish)
  37. Gently pour the custard into the lined tins, not quite full.
  38. Bake in the oven for 18-25 minutes, until the custard has puffed up and has begun to caramelise on the top, showing dark brown patches. I actually let mine cook for 25 minutes.
  39. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, as the custard sinks back down.
  40. Then use a thin knife to lift the tarts out of the tin and onto a wire rack to cook until just warm for serving.



Thursday, 12 October 2017

Christmas Pudding

Christmas is less that 12 weeks away, so now is the time to start on things like Christmas Puddings and Christmas Cakes.  These can be made well in advance and the flavour develops and gets richer as they are left to mature.  I did a three part video for Christmas cakelast year so I wont be doing one this time around.  However I decided to make Christmas pudding, especially as I had received a couple of requests for it.

It is traditional in the UK to have a rich fruit pudding, sometimes maybe called Plum Pudding,  at Christmas, and there are many variations, but all are very similar in that they use dried fruit as the main flavour ingredient, often with brandy as well. They are all usually steamed for hours to cook and can then be stored until Christmas.

For mine I have gone with what I really remember from my childhood and hope that it will be rich and flavoursome and ideal with custard, brandy butter, or brandy/rum sauce.  I wont know until Christmas day though since it wont be tasted until then.  But from the aroma that filled the kitchen when I unwrapped it after cooking it I am very optimistic.  

Once cooked and cooled and then unwrapped the pudding then needs to be wrapped again, in fresh parchment paper and aluminium foil for storing.
Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding - Video
Ingredients:
  • 110g suet
  • 110g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 55g self raising flour
  • 250g soft dark brown sugar
  • 470g dried mixed fruit with mixed peel included(or 140g each of currants, sultanas, raisins and 50g chopped mixed peel)
  • 100g glace cherries, halved or chopped(I used morello)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • 70 ml brandy
  • 140ml cold black tea(or 140ml stout)
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp black treacle(or molasses)
Method:
  1. In a large bowl place all the mixed dried fruit and the chopped cherries.
  2. Add the black tea and mix together.  
  3. Cover and leave to soak overnight, stirring occasionally to make sure all the fruit gets soaked and is able to absorb some of the liquid.
  4. Once the fruit as soaked overnight drain it and retain the excess liquid in a bowl.
  5. In a separate, large, bowl place the suet, flour, breadcrumbs, mixed spice, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and sugar.  
  6. Mix together to get everything eveny distributed.
  7. In the bowl with the excess liquid add the eggs and whisk to break them up and combine with the liquid.
  8. Add the lemon juice, orange juice, black treacle and brandy and mix together.
  9. Set aside while you add the fruit to the dry mixture and stir in to combine.
  10. Add the zests too and mix them to combine.
  11. Pour in the liquid and mix until all is well combined.  The mixture will still be very wet and sloppy.
  12. Grease a 1.5 litre pudding basin or heatproof bowl and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
  13. Pour the pudding mixture into the bowl and press it down to level it off.
  14. Cover the top with a round of parchment paper that just covers the mixture.
  15. Take two sheets of parchment paper, pleated in the middle(to allow for swelling).
  16. Place a sheet of aluminium foil over the two sheets of parchment paper and place them all over the top of the basin pressing them down to cover it.
  17. Tie the coverings around the bowl, tightly, with string.
  18. Make a handle from more string, attached the that wrapped around the basin and going over it. This is for lifting the basin in and out of the saucepan you will need.
  19. Place an upturned saucer, or a trivet, in the bottom of a large saucepan and put the basin on top of it.
  20. Pour boiling water into the saucepan until it comes halfway up the basin.
  21. Simmer on the stove for 8 hours, topping up with boiling water as necessary to ensure it doesn't boil dry.
  22. After 8 hours carefully remove the pudding basin from the saucepan and allow to cool a little.
  23. After 10 to 15 minutes remove the coverings so that you can check on the pudding.  It should be cooked and springy to the touch.  Check with a skewer if you wish to ensure that it is not uncooked inside.
  24. Take new parchment paper and aluminium foil and cover as before, for storage.  Store in a cool place until required( you can feed with a little more brandy from time to time if you wish, always covering again afterwards).
  25. When needed place the pudding into a pan of water as before and steam for another three hours, or if you are feeling daring and can't wait you could try microwaving the pudding though I have never done that.


Sunday, 8 October 2017

Raspberry Muffins

I had some frozen raspberries in the freezer so I decided that today I would use them to make some muffins.  I found a very nice recipe on aburstfullofbeautiful which seemed to be exactly what I wanted.

Muffins, as you know, are very easy to make and require very little mixing.  In fact you should only mix the wet and dry together for just as long as it takes for everything to be combined.  

The recipe needs buttermilk.  If you don't have buttermilk you can use milk and add a teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice and leave it for 5 minutes. Or you can use 4 tablespoons of buttermilk powder added to 240ml of water.

The muffins turned out very well indeed.  But then with raspberries in them that is no surprise at all.  The lovely, soft, texture of the muffin with a sharp hit of raspberries was just perfect, with a nice crispy top from the coarse sugar, and all done in less that an hour from deciding to make them to ready to eat.
Raspberry Muffins

Raspberry Muffins - Video
Ingredients:
  • 320 g plain flour
  • 240ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 medium egg(large in USA)
  • 112g melted unsalted butter, allowed to cool
  • 110g soft brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g frozen raspberries
  • 40g coarse sugar(I used preserving sugar)
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/425F.
  2. Place muffin cases in a twelve hole muffin tin.
  3. In a large bowl whisk the butter, egg, vanilla extract and the buttermilk and mix until combined.
  4. In another bowl place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar and whisk to mix together.
  5. Add the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Add the frozen raspberries and mix until evenly incorporated.
  7. Evenly distributed the mixture into the muffin cases.
  8. Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of course sugar over the tops of the filled cases.
  9. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes and then reduce the heat to 180C/160C Fan/350F and bake for a further 18 to 20 minutes, until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.
  10. Remove from the oven and place the muffins on a wire rack to cool completely.



Friday, 6 October 2017

White Pullman Loaf

I only recently came across pullman loaf tins and really like the idea of these for making bread for sandwiches.  The tins tend to be about 4 inches by 4 inches, so smaller than the sandwich loaves in the shops but still very good.

While I was in Canada on holiday I made a cinnamon swirl loaf in such a tin that turned out great.  So I thought I would get myself a tin and make some white bread, for sandwiches and toasting, square and with virtually no crust.

The tins come in different lengths, such as 9 inch, the same as a 2lb loaf tin and, as mine is, 13 inches.

For my recipe I used the same volume of ingredients that I used for the cinnamon swirl I made in Canada, but without the cinnamon and extra sugar.  I also reduced the amount of sugar in the dough, since I didn't need a sweet loaf.

The recipe is easy to follow, though it does take time.  The resultant loaf though is well worth the time invested, as it is soft and light and perfect for sandwiches.

Mine turned out very well indeed and, when I have tried and tested a wholemeal version, it is likely to become my standard loaf.
White Pullman Loaf, sliced


                                   White Pullman Loaf - Video
White Pullman Loaf

Ingredients: (for a 13 inch Pullman Loaf Tin)
  • 600ml strong white bread flour
  • 120ml water at 43C/110F when used
  • 190ml milk at 48C/120F when used
  • 9g dry active yeast(I have a tin of yeast so could measure that amount, if you use packets then a single packet will be good enough, though to double in size the dough may need slightly longer to prove)
  • 76g eggs out of shell, at room temperature. (extra egg can be added to omelettes etc)
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 60g softened butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Method:
  1. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and add a little of the sugar, give it a quick stir and then leave to activate and become foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Place the yeast mixture with the butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until combined.
  3. Add the warm milk and the eggs and beat until combined.
  4. Using the dough hook attachment add the flour in three additions and beat to combine.
  5. Knead in the mixer, on medium speed, for about 5 minutes until the sides of the bowl are clean and the dough is slightly tacky.
  6. Remove the dough from the mixer and shape into a ball.
  7. Place the ball of dough into a large, greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to prove for two hours, or until the dough has doubled in size. (Place the dough in top side down and then turn it over, so that the top is lightly greased to avoid a film being created).
  8. Once doubled in size knock the dough back, using your hand, to release the gases. and remove from the bowl, onto a lightly floured work surface.
  9. If your pullman loaf tin is not non-stick grease it, including the lid.
  10. Either flatten the dough or roll it dough into a length just shorter than the length of the tin. Roll the short side up to form a sausage shape slightly shorter than the length of the loaf tin.
  11. Pinch the seam of the sausage together along the whole length to seal it.
  12. Place the dough, seam side down, into the loaf tin and slide the lid on, leaving a slight opening so you can see how it rises.
  13. Cover with a towel and allow to rise until the dough it is about 1/2 an inch from the lid.
  14. While the dough is rising preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
  15. When the dough has risen as mentioned above close the lid and place the tin in the oven to bake for 45 minutes.
  16. Remove from the oven and open the lid and turn the loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.




Saturday, 30 September 2017

Hazelnut & Soured Cream Layer Cake with Hazelnut Buttercream

Today I decided on a rather decadent cake, if there is such a thing.  A sour cream cake, with some ground hazelnuts in it, in two layers and to be filled with a basic hazelnut buttercream.

So I needed to make two cakes and then the buttercream filling.  I also decided, at the last minute to put a thin layer of buttercream on the top and to sprinkle some chopped hazelnuts over it, just to finish it all off nicely.

The cake recipe is simplicity itself, all mixed by hand in no time at all.  The resultant cake is moist and very tasty indeed, with the flavour of hazelnuts coming through. It is very light, even though it doesn't look so, soft and very easy to eat. Using just half the recipe you could make one cake and eat it just as it is, maybe with some cream or ice-cream, or fruit compote.  Like that it could be done and cooling, ready to eat, within an hour.  But for mine it took longer as I had to make the buttercream and then wait for the cakes to cool completely before layering them together.

I must say I am very pleased with the result, the whole thing tastes wonderful. I made a mess, dropping the slice I cut, but it was only for me so it didn't matter a jot.

I heartily recommend this cake as one to try and enjoy.
Hazelnut & Soured Cream Cake with Hazelnut Buttercream

Hazelnut & Soured Cream Layer Cake - Video
Ingredients:
For the cake:
  • 330g plain flour
  • 60g ground hazelnuts( I took hazelnuts and ground them myself, this can be done in a coffee grinder or food processor)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • 280ml melted unsalted butter
  • 360ml soured cream
  • 400g caster or granulated sugar
For the frosting:
  1. 150g softened unsalted butter
  2. 300g icing sugar
  3. 200g Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
  4. 3 tbsp milk
  5. 20g chopped hazelnuts to sprinkle over the top
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
  2. Grease two 8 inch springform cake tins and line the bases with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground hazelnuts and whisk until all is mixed together.
  4. In another bowl place the eggs and whisk them all together.
  5. Add the melted butter, soured cream and vanilla extract and whish again until combined.
  6. Add the sugar and whisk again until combined.
  7. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour the wet mixture into it.  
  8. Use a spatula to mix until everything is nicely combined, a few little lumps wont matter.
  9. Pour the batter in equal measures into the cake tins and spread to level off.
  10. Bake in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until the cakes have come away from the sides of the tins and a skewer, when poked into the centres, comes out clean.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning our onto wire racks to cool, removing the parchment paper from the bases.
  12. As the cakes cool place the softened butter into a large bowl and whisk a little.
  13. Add the powdered sugar, and milk and whisk to combine with the butter, starting very slowly to avoid the sugar going everywhere( I actually used a spatula at first to press the sugar into the butter).
  14. Add the hazelnut spread and whisk to combine, then set aside until the cakes are cooled(i put mine in the fridge).
  15. Place one cake on a large plate and cover the top with a thick layer of buttercream, spreading level with a spatula.
  16. Place the second cake on top and press down slighlty.
  17. Spread a thin layer of the remaining buttercream on the top and sprinkle over chopped hazelnuts if you wish, gently pressing them down to hold them in place.


Monday, 25 September 2017

Sticky Buns

I recently saw a couple of videos of sticky buns.  One was from America's Test Kitchen, where they had tested various methods and arrived at what they claim is the best one.  The second was from Joy Of Baking, where the buns were made in jumbo muffins tins, rather than an oblong tin where the buns touch and are tear apart when baked.  

I really liked the idea of the ATK one, but loved the idea of individual ones.  So I used the ATK recipe for the dough and based my glaze on the one from Joy Of Baking, but making a couple of changes. The glaze from ATK didn't look very appetising at all, in fact I thought it looked rather nasty, even if the taste was good.

The whole recipe takes quite a while to do, as their is proving time to take into account.  Jumbo muffin tins aren't necessary as a 13 inch by 9 inch oblong tin would do just as well.  But in that case you would need to spread the glaze over the bottom of the tin before putting the buns on top, evenly spaced so they can prove until they are touching.

I was pleased with how mine turned out, as they had, what ATK promised. a lovely soft texture and they tasted very good indeed, with the lovely caramel glace with the crunch of pecans. I think they are really excellent and will be making them again for sure.
Sticky Buns


Sticky Buns - Video

Ingredients:
For the starting paste:
  • 160ml water
  • 38g strong white bread flour
For the dough:
  • 430g strong white bread flour
  • 1 medium egg(large in USA), plus one extra yolk
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 160ml milk
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • 85g softened butter
  • 1 tsp salt
For the filling:
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 65g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50g chopped pecans
For the glaze:
  • 113g room temperature, unsalted butter
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 80 ml golden syrup (or corn syrup)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 75g chopped pecans
Method:
  1. Whisk water and  38 gflour together in small bowl until no lumps remain. Microwave, whisking every 25 seconds, until mixture thickens to stiff, smooth, pudding-like consistency that forms mound when dropped from end of whisk into bowl, 50 to 75 seconds., or heat in a double boiler to achieve the same result.
  2. In bowl of stand mixer, whisk flour paste and milk together until smooth. 
  3. Add egg and yolk and whisk until incorporated. 
  4. Add the flour and yeast. Fit stand mixer with dough hook and mix on low speed until all flour is moistened, 1 to 2 minutes. 
  5. Let stand for 15 minutes. 
  6. Add the sugar and salt and mix on medium-low speed for 5 minutes. 
  7. Add the butter and  mix on medium-low speed for 5 minutes longer, scraping down dough hook and sides of bowl halfway through (dough will stick to bottom of bowl)
  8. Transfer thedough to lightly floured counter. and knead briefly to form ball and transfer seam side down to lightly greased bowl.
  9. Lightly coat surface of dough with vegetable oil spray and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise until just doubled in volume, 40 minutes to 1 hour.
  10. While the dough is rising mix the two sugars and ground cinnamon for the filling, and set aside.
  11. In a stand mixer(can be done by hand or with a hand mixer) beat the butter to a soft conistency.
  12. Add the light brown sugar and mix until fluffy.
  13. Sprinkle over the ground cinnamon and salt and add the golden syrup and the vanilla extract and beat until fully combined.
  14. Add the 75g chopped pecans and mix until evenly spread throughout the mixture.
  15. Turn out dough onto lightly floured counter. Press dough gently but firmly to expel air. Working from center toward edge, pat and stretch dough to form 18 by 15-inch rectangle with long edge nearest you.  I used a rolling pin to roll it.
  16. Sprinkle sugar/cinnamon mixture over dough, leaving 1-inch border along top edge; smooth filling into even layer with your hand,
  17. Add the pecans, sprinkling evenly then gently press mixture into dough to adhere.
  18. Beginning with long edge nearest you, roll dough into cylinder, taking care not to roll too tightly. Pinch seam to seal and roll cylinder seam side down. Mark gently with knife to create 12 equal portions. 
  19. Cut into 12 equal sized slices.
  20. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of glaze into each hole of the greased jumbo muffin tins(I used a small ice-cream scoop).
  21. Place one slice of the dough into each hole and press down.
  22. Cover the tins lightly with plastic wrap and allow to prove until they have doubled in size(they will probably rise above the top of the tin, but they will also spread down into the tin. (mine took 40 mins).
  23. As the buns prove preheat the oven to 190C/170C 375F(if using an oblong tin 200C/180C/400F).
  24. To bake, place the tins in the oven for 18 - 20 minutes until the buns are a nice golden brown (if using an oblong tine bake for 40 minutes, covering is aluminium foil after 20 minutes)
  25. Run a knife around the edge of the bens to ensure they are loose in the tin. Place rimmed baking sheet over buns and carefully invert, remember the glaze will be very hot indeed. Remove pan and let buns cool for 5 minutes. Using spoon, scoop any glaze on baking sheet onto buns. Let cool for at least 10 minutes longer before serving.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Sultana Bread

I was recently told about Guernsey Gache, which is a yeast based bake, with sultanas and chopped mixed peel.  I looked at a few recipes for that and decided that the resultant bake would be denser than I like for a bread bake.  So I decided that I would make a sultana bread using the recipe I previously used for a milk bread.

The process is quite simple and doesn't require a lot of kneading of the dough.  It does take a little while to make though as you have to wait for be dough to prove a couple of times.   Adding the sultanas and mixed peel to the recipe didn't affect the bake, and certainly provided a wonderful flavour to what was already a nice loaf.

So I was very pleased with how the bread turned out and I have already enjoyed it just with butter and then I toasted a slice too and that tasted great as well.
                                                Sultana Bread

                                         Sultana Bread - Video
Ingredients:
  • 300ml whole milk
  • 80ml cold water
  • 12g fast action yeast
  • 500g stong white flour
  • 5g salt
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 60g softened butter
  • 300g sultanas
  • 50g chopped mixed peel
Method:
  1. Heat the milk to almost boiling point and pour into a bowl. 
  2. Add the cold water to help cool the milk down. 
  3. When the milk has cooled to a gentle lukewarm(I had mine at 43C/110F) sprinkle the yeast over it and add a teaspoon of the sugar. 
  4. Stir the mixture and set aside for 5 minutes, to activate the yeast. 
  5. In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and remaining sugar. 
  6. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture. 
  7. Use a spatula to stir everything together. 
  8. Once all the mixture has come together cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave for 15 minutes. 
  9. Remove the plastic wrap and add the butter to the dough mixture. 
  10. Use your hands to mix it all together, giving a fairly vigorous knead for about one minute. 
  11. Very lightly oil the work surface and tip the dough onto it. 
  12. Knead for again to ensure the butter is mixed in thoroughly and then flatten the dough into a circle. 
  13. Sprinkle the mixed peel and the sultanas onto the dough and fold it in on itself. 
  14. Knead the dough until the fruit is evenly distributed throughout. 
  15. Roll the dough into a ball. 
  16. Grease the bowl and place the dough in it. 
  17. Cover with plastic wrap again and leave to rise for an hour, kneading for 20-30 seconds twice during the hour. 
  18. Butter a 2lb loaf tin. 
  19. Tip the dough out onto the work surface and shape. Either divide in two and form into balls and place them side by side in the tin, or form into a single sausage shape and place in the tin. 
  20. Cover and allow to prove until the dough has increased in size by about 50%(mine took 45 minutes) 
  21. As the dough proves preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F. 
  22. With a sharp knife slice the length of the dough about .5 inch deep. 
  23. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, until the top has browned nicely. 
  24. Remove and tip the loaf out onto a wire rack. 
  25. Tap the bottom to make sure there is a hollow sound(if not hollow sounding bake for a little longer). 
  26. Allow the loaf to cool before slicing.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Feta Cheese & Chive Scones

Now that my internet is back to normal, or at least I hope it is, I can post again.  So today I have Feta Cheese & Chive Scones.  I recently made some Raspberry Scones, with a North American type recipe.  These ones today are a more traditional scone texture, though with the feta and chives included.  I did test a recipe that I saw which used feta instead of butter in the scones but I wasn't happy either with the texture or the rise that I achieved with those.  So I resorted to a standard scone recipe with the added ingredients.

The recipe is simple to make and results in a lovely scone.  The texture is perfect and the inclusion of the feta and chives, and then a sprinkling of cayenne pepper on top really makes a lovely savoury treat.  Served warm, or at least on the day of baking is best.  I prefer mine halved and spread with some butter.  If the scones are kept for more than a day then it might be a good idea to warm them through for a few minutes in the oven(or a brief blitz in the microwave) to freshen them up again.
Of course they are also ideal for freezing so they don't all need to be consumed in one day.

I am very please with how mine turned out and will be making them again I am sure. I did check them after 15 minutes as I thought that would be long enough in the oven, but they weren't brown enough and seemed a bit soft to the touch, so I actually left them in the oven for 20 minutes.
Feta Cheese & Chive Scones

                                           Feta Cheese & Chive Scones - Video
Ingredients:
  • 380g plain flour
  • 12g caster sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 170g chilled unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 medium egg(large in USA)
  • 180ml soured cream
  • 20g chives, chopped finely
  • 125g feta cheese cut into small cubes
  • 3 tbsp ice cold water
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • cayenne pepper for sprinkling
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F
  2. Line a couple of baking trays with silicone mats or parchment paper.
  3. In a food processor add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper and process for a few seconds to mix together(you can do the entire process in a large bowl instead)
  4. Add the butter and process until the flour and butter is mixed to a coarse breadcrumb like texture.
  5. Mix the soured cream, egg, and water together and add to the flour mixture, then process or mix until it starts to clump together into a dough.
  6. Tip out onto the work surface and spread out a little.
  7. Sprinkle the feta and chives over the top and then fold everything together, kneading 10 to 15 times to pull the dough into a single clump, with the feta and chives evenly mixed in.
  8. Lightly flour the work surface and roll out the dough to an inch thick.
  9. Using a cookie cutter( I used a 2 1/2 inch cutter) cut out the scones, making sure not to twist the cutter at all as you press down.
  10. Place the scones on the baking tray leaving a gap between each one.
  11. Beat the egg and brush over the top of each scone.
  12. Sprinkle some cayenne pepper on the top.
  13. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the tops are a nice golden brown and when pressed the scones seem quite firm to the touch.
  14. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  15. Then can be served warm.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Moose Cookies (Basic Cookie Dough)

Firstly let me apologise for the length of time since my last post.  This was due to a failure of my internet connection, and courtesy of lamentable service by Virgin Media to get me reconnected.  What was supposed to take no more than 48 hours ended up taking more than 5 days, and there is still some question as to how robust my connection currently is.

Anyway, rant over, today I am posting a very basic cookie, shaped with a Moose cookie cutter.  I 'stole' this cookie cutter from my niece who wanted me to make some of the cookies.  I used the recipe which came with the cookie cutter and it is a very basic one.  But that is no bad thing.  Of course the thing to remember is that having made the dough it can be used with any cutters to make the cookies.

They tasted very good, and I frosted some which gave them an even better taste.  This basic recipe will be my 'go to' one for cookies.  In fact I shall probably make some dough and freeze it to always have some on hand.
Moose Cookies

                                        Moose Cookies - Video Ingredients:
For the cookies:
  • 225g softened unsalted butter
  • 320g plain flour
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg (large in USA)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
For the frosting:
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 15g softened butter
  • 1 tbs milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 drop of lemon extract(optional)
Method:
  1. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together until nice and fluffy( I used my hand mixer)
  2. Add the vanilla extract and egg and mix to combine.
  3. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined and clumping together nicely.
  4. Turn the dough out onto some plastic wrap and form a disc.
  5. Wrap it up and chill in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F
  7. Line a couple of baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.
  8. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/4 inch.
  9. Cut out the cookie shapes you wish and transfer to the baking trays.
  10. Roll remaining dough again and cut out more cookies as before.
  11. Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are just beginning to colour.
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to cook, transferring onto a wire rack after a couple of minutes.
  13. If required make some frosting by mixing together all the icing ingredients until you have a nice, thick paste.  
  14. Spread the icing on the cookies and allow to set.


Friday, 1 September 2017

Raspberry Scones

While I was visiting family in Canada I made some raspberry scones for my niece as they are a particular favourite of hers.  These scones are not quite how we know scones in the UK, but the texture is very similar, just the shape is rather different. That said the batter for these is rather wetter than we would have for a British scone.  Those tend to be much more crumbly and less cake-like than these.  Nevertheless these scones are simply delicious.  In fact while I was in Canada I made three separate batches of them as they were enjoyed so much. 

Scones are quite simple to make just a few ingredients, and they don't take long from start to finish.  You can be eating warm scones in less than 30 minutes,  if you wish.

My did turn out very well indeed, even though the shapes were not quite uniform.  Subsequent efforts were more triangular in shape as I had mastered the cutting technique.

I recommend these to anyone who wants a simple but very tasty treat.
Raspberry Scones


Raspberry Scones - Video
Ingredients:
  • 260g plain flour
  • 65g granulated sugar
  • 85g ice cold butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100g fresh raspberries(frozen is fine too)
  • 180ml buttermilk( I used milk and added 3/4 tbsp lemon juice and left for about 5 minutes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract(optional)
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F
  2. Line a baking tray with baking parchment or a silicone mat.
  3. Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt to the flour in a bowl and mix to combine.
  4. Add the butter and cut into the flour until you have achieved fine breadcrumb texture(I did this in a food processor, for quickness).
  5. With the flour and butter mixture in a large bowl add the sugar and whisk to combine.
  6. Add the raspberries and gently stir to mix in.
  7. Add about 160ml of buttermilk and stir until all the flour has been combined into the mixture.
  8. Add a little more buttermilk if necessary.  The mixture will be sticky.
  9. Flour the work surface and tip the mixture onto the flour.
  10. Gently ensure the mixture is coated with some flour and form into a disc about 7 inches in diameter.
  11. Cut into 8 wedges, flouring the cutting blade to ensure no sticking.
  12. Transfer to the baking tray and brush the tops with the remaining buttermilk to help with browing.
  13. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the tops have browned and the scones are spring to the touch.
  14. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.


Amish Friendship Bread

It was suggested to me that I might like to try to make Amish Friendship Bread.  I hadn't heard of it so I did a little reading.  It seems that the particular recipe, or variations of it, are not really what Amish people really eat.  Rather, it is the process of making a starter dough over ten days that can then be used to make the bread, or cake, and the leftover starter can be shared with friends so that they can also make some. 

The process is long-winded, since to make the starter dough takes 10 days, though it doesn't take more than a minute or two at the start and then a few seconds each day.  On the 10th day it is then ready to make the loaf/cake.  I followed the process documents on The Friendship Bread Kitchen

The actual loaf or cake can be of any flavour, and I am going with a fairly basic cinnamon with raisins and pecans. Another unusual element which is called for is something called 'instant pudding'.  This is common in North America but not readily available in the UK.  So I used Angel Delight instead, and a strawberry version of that.  One important thing is that I read everywhere that no metal should be used in making this recipe.  So ceramic, silicone, glass is what I used.

The recipe below shows how to make the starter dough and then to make the Amish Friendship Bread.  It actually makes two loaves and I must say mine turned out great.  I really did enjoy it immensely.  So I shall be making this again for sure.
                                        Amish Friendship Bread

                                 Amish Friendship Bread - Video
Ingredients:
For the starter dough:
  • 7g (one packet) active dry yeast
  • 60ml warm water (about 43C/110F)
  • 128g/1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 200g/1 cup white sugar
  • 240ml/1 cup milk
  • day6 128g plain flour
  • day6 240ml milk
  • day6 200g sugar
For the Amish Friendship Bread:
  • 240ml/1 cup of starter dough
  • 3 medium eggs (large in USA)
  • 240ml/1 cup oil
  • 120ml/½ cup milk
  • 200g/1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 256g/2 cups flour
  • 1-2 small boxes instant pudding (any flavor)( I used 2 packets Angel Delight - Strawberry flavour)
  • 100g/1 cup nuts, chopped (optional) ( I used pecans)
  • 120g/1 cup raisins (optional)
Method:
  1. Place the yeast into the warm water and add a little of the sugar and stir in.
  2. Leave to activate for ten minutes.
  3. In a large bowl place the sugar, flour and milk.
  4. Add the activated yeast and whisk until all is combined.
  5. Place the mixutre into a large ziploc bag, or other container that can be sealed.
  6. This activity is the completion of day 1.
  7. On days 2, 3, 4 and 5 open the bag and allow the gas to escape.
  8. Close the bag again and mash the mixture about for a few seconds.
  9. On day 6 add the day6 milk, sugar and flour to the bag and mash to combine.
  10. On day 7, 8 and 9 release the gas and mash the dough again.
  11. On day 10 it is time to make the bread.
  12. Preheat oven to 165C/145C Fan/325 F
  13. Mix a little flour with the raisins
  14. In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients in the order listed above.
  15. Grease two lIarge loaf pans.
  16. Dust the greased pans with a mixture of ½ cup sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.
  17. Pour the batter evenly into loaf or cake pans and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture on the top.
  18. Bake for one hour or until the bread loosens evenly from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
  19. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving.
  20. Share the remaining starter dough, or freeze in 240ml  amounts for future use.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Lemon Icebox Cheescake

I saw a recipe for an icebox or, as we might call it, a refrigerator cheesecake. The recipe was on Cook's Country and it looked very good, so I thought I would give it a try.

The only baking is of the biscuit crumb base.  For flavour there is lemon juice and lemon curd, mixed into a cream and cream cheese filling.  It is easy to make, but does have to be left to set for about 6 hours before cutting and eating.

For mine I used leaf gelatine, rather than powdered gelatine to set the cheesecake and it worked well.  In fact I love the texture, and of course the sublime lemon flavour.  Although the recipe calls for home made lemon curd I am sure that any quality shop bought curd would be just fine.

So this is a recipe that works well and is very tasty, I heartily recommend it to all.
Lemon Icebox Cheesecake
 

                       Lemon Icebox Cheesecake - Video
Ingredients:
For the base:
  • 220g of lemon sandwich biscuits(or digestives or graham crackers)
  • 28g of melted butter
  • Zest of one lemon

For the curd:
  • 1 medium egg(large in USA)
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 30ml lemon juice
  • 14g butter
  • 15ml double cream
For the filling:
  • 5 leaves of gelatine  ( or a packet of gelatine powder)
  • 500ml cold water( to soften gelatin)
  • 60ml lemon curd
  • 60 ml lemon juice
  • 680g cream cheese
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • Remainder of lemon curd for piping on top.
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F
  2. Put the biscuits into a processor and mix until they are finely crumbled.
  3. Add the melted butter and mix again until combined.
  4. Place the mixture into a 9in/23cm springform cake tin.
  5. Level the crumbs over the base and press down firmly to pack the crumbs together, level.
  6. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, until the base has firmed up and is golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  8. In a saucepan put the 50g caster sugar, the egg and egg yolk and the lemon juice.  
  9. Whisk together until all mixed.
  10. Heat , very gently, stirring all the time with a whisk to avoid the egg cooking, until the mixture has thickened up.
  11. Remove from the heat and add the butter and double cream and stir until melted and mixed in.
  12. Pour the curd into a bowl and refrigerate to cool down and thicken more.
  13. Place the gelatine leaves in a bowl with the cold water and leave for 5 minutes.
  14. Remove the softened gelatine leaves and squeeze out the excess water.
  15. Place the gelatine leaves in a saucepan with the lemon juice and gently heat until the leaves are dissolved(do not allow to boil)
  16. Pour the lemon juice and gelatine into a bowl and allow to cool.
  17. In the bowl of a stand mixer(you can do this all by hand or with a hand mixer and a large bowl) place the cream cheese and sugar.
  18. Beat with the paddle attachement until the cream cheese has incorporated the sugar and is nice and smooth.
  19. Add the double cream and mix again until all is combined.
  20. Add the cooled lemon juice mixture and the 60ml lemon curd and mix until combined.
  21. Pour the mixture over the cooled biscuit base and shake the tin gently to allow the mixture to level out.
  22. Pipe the remaining lemon curd onto the top, gently, in any pattern you want, and use a skewer to swirl around if you wish.
  23. Refrigerate for 6 hours.
  24. Run a paring knife around the inside edge of the cake tin and then release the cheesecake.
  25. Cut and serve.


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Lemon Shortcake Biscuts(Cookies)

Shortcake, as opposed to shortbread, biscuits are popular in the UK.  The usually come in an oblong form, flat in the middle with a pattern around the edges.  I have looked for a recipe to make those but have never found one.  Most of the time when I search for 'shortcake' I am presented with recipes of the US type of shortcake, which is more cake-like.  So I decided to try to make my own.  I also had just bought a nifty little gadget that I wanted to try out for pressing a pattern onto biscuits.  So killing two birds with one stone seemed like a good idea. 

For mine I decided upon lemon shortcake biscuits, but only with lemon zest to give just a subtle hint of lemon in the biscuit.  These biscuits are less heavy on the butter than shortbread but, in my opinion, are just as nice and ideal with a cup of tea or coffee.

The recipe is simple, easy to make and has only a few ingredients.  You do have to wait a couple of hours, to chill the dough enough to form the biscuits, but that is no particular hardship.

Mine turned out very well, they taste wonderful, and are nice and crunchy, just as a shortcake biscuit should be.

Lemon Shortcake Biscuits
 
Lemon Shortcake Biscuits - Cookies - Video
Ingredients:

  • 350g plain flour
  • 130g softened butter
  • 120g icing sugar (150 g if you dont use the vanilla sugar below)
  • 30g vanilla sugar(that is caster sugar that I had stored with an empty vanilla bean pod to infuse the sugar with a vanilla flavour)
  • 2 medium eggs(large in USA)
  • Zest of lemon(I used two small lemons the zest weighed 4 grams)
Method:

  1. In a bowl sift the icing sugar and cream with the vanilla sugar and the butter, until nicely smooth.
  2. Add the eggs and lemon zest and mix until fully combined.
  3. Add the flour and mix until combined and the biscuit dough is smooth.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap shaped into a rough square flat disc and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/320F
  6. Line some baking trays( I used 4 but I baked in two batches, so two would be enough), with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  7. Take the dough from the fridge and roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness(I cut my dough into 4 and did each piece separately, keeping the remainder chilled).
  8. Using a cookie cutter of about 2.25 inches cut out the cookies( you should get 40 plus extra from cut off dough re-rolled).
  9. Place on the baking tray and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the biscuits are just beginning to change colour.
  10. Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.