Monday, 30 July 2012

Cookie dough sandwiches

First of all I must urge everyone who has ever been caught with their finger in the mixing bowl to buy 'The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook' by Lindsay Landis.

I knew I had to have this book the second I knew about it. I was so very excited when it arrived late last week and yesterday was my first opportunity to cook from it. I wanted everything and could not actually decide what to make and so I had to get M to select for me. He chose cookie dough sandwiches, Two chocolate chip cookies sandwiched together with chocolate chip cookie dough! Hmmmm.

I have tweaked the recipe a little, everything is measured in cups so I have converted it to grams, I reduced the sugar and tweaked the cookie dough recipe slightly too. This is mainly because I often find lots of american style baking a little too sweet for me.

For any one who is worried all the cookie doughs in the book, that are designed to be eaten raw, are eggless, so it is safe for all.

Cookie dough sandwiches

Makes between 20-24 sandwiches

For the cookies

170g butter
125g caster sugar
2 tsps vanilla paste
75g light brown sugar
2 eggs
210g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
100g chocolate chips (I used dairy milk chopped into small chunks)

For the cookie dough

115g butter
75g brown sugar
tsp vanilla paste
50g icing sugar
40g flour
Pinch of salt
60ml whole milk
40g mini chocolate chips (again I used dairy milk, these need to be very small, so halve regular chocolate chips or chop your chocolate nice and small)

To make the cookies beat the butter, sugars and vanilla paste together until smooth and creamy, you can use an electric whisk, for some reason I used a wooden spoon and good old fashioned elbow grease!

Beat in the eggs until fully incorporated. Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix until combined. Finally stir through the chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Cover the dough and allow to chill for at least 1 hour or even overnight. nb I left my dough for an hour, I think that it would have been better left for two.

Preheat the oven to 190C/170C FAN and line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Roll tablespoon sized pieces of the dough into balls and place on the baking sheets, at least 5cm apart. nb, you may want to leave more space between as my cookies spread a lot, mind you if I chilled them for longer they may not have spread as far.

The recipe states to flatten the balls lightly with your fingers, I did not need to, and my cookies spread nicely, though I suspect if you have chilled you dough for along time you may want to flatten them a little. Trial and error may be needed here. 

Bake the cookies for 8-11 minutes (check after 8) until golden around the edges. Leave on the baking sheets for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire rack until completely cool. 

To prepare the filling beat the butter, brown sugar and tsp vanilla paste until light and fluffy, this time I did use my electric whisk! Mix in the icing sugar, flour and salt until incorporated. Slowly add the milk and beat for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Stir through the chocolate chips. 

When the biscuits are totally cool sandwich them together with the filling. These will keep for up to 3 days in kept in a tin in the fridge.  

I love love love these cookies, they taste absolutely amazing the day they are made and just as fantastic the next day.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Thyme and Gruyère sourdough

After making a sourdough loaf I decided to store my starter until I needed it again. Once a sourdough starter is well established it is a good idea to use a method of storing it to save you on flour!

I added enough bread flour to the starter to make a stiff batter. I then covered with clingfilm and left at room temperature for 3 days. When I wanted to make my next loaf I first disposed of half the batter. I then added another 100g flour and enough water to take the remaining half back to the consistency of thick paint. Within a few hours it was bubbling happily again, non the worse for its 3 day storage at room temp.

For my next loaf I added a little flavouring to my loaf, I used the recipe and method described here, with a few tweaks. The flour I used was all wholemeal bread flour, to the batter I added grated Gruyère cheese (not sure how much, maybe 80g?) and a couple of tablespoons of parmesan cheese. I also added fresh thyme leaves.

The cheese added a nice dimension to this sourdough loaf, the thyme did not come through quite as much as I had hoped, I think I need to add more.

As I went away for a week I needed to store my starter more long term. I added enough flour to make a batter consistency and then kept it covered in the fridge for 10 days. I will be baking a loaf this week and will let you know how storing the starter this way turns out.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

White chocolate and orange cookies

Rather unusually I had some white chocolate going spare, I normally cannot keep it my in cupboard long term without nibbling at it!

A quick root around my baking cupboard confirmed that I had all the ingredients handy to make these cookies.

 I do not think that I have made them since I was in america which is a) a crime, as they are delicious and b) why I had forgotten that a few aspects of the recipe need tweaking. 

These cookies spread, a lot, they need to be much more than the stated 5cm apart, and secondly they do not need to be flattened, they spread enough on their own. The first batch of my cookies were still delicious but a little misshapen!

These were not planed but as I have just realised that they have white chocolate in them I am going to squeeze them into this months alpha bake. Alpha bakes is a blogging challenge which is hosted on alternate months by Ros from The more than occasional baker and Caroline from Caroline makes. This is a monthly challenge where the aim is to bake with an ingredient that starts with the random alphabet letter chosen for that month. This months host is Caroline and the letter ‘W’.

White chocolate and orange cookies

makes ~30

113g butter
230g caster sugar
tsp vanilla paste
zest of an orange
1 large egg
165g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
150g white chocolate, chopped 

Preheat the oven to 190C/170C FAN and line baking sheets with baking parchment.

Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla paste. Add the orange zest and the egg and beat until fully incorporated. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Roll into balls, I used a tablespoon as  guide, and space very well apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden.

Leave to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, using a palette knife, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

Once I had ironed out the creases, my cookies looked like cookies! They should keep for 5 days in an airtight tin, but I am not sure they will last that long!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Vanilla and chocolate marble cake

Hi, sorry for the week off, I have been away volunteering and have not had internet, let alone any time to bake.

Here is something I baked just before I went away, sadly I forgot to take many pictures as it got eaten very quickly. However I can verify that it is a very nice cake, the natural yoghurt makes it extremely moist and it is very satisfying to have with your afternoon cuppa.

Vanilla and chocolate marble cake

125g butter
200g caster sugar
tsp vanilla paste
3 large eggs
150g natural yoghurt

170g self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

40g cocoa powder
60ml boiling water

40g white chocolate
75g icing sugar
tbsp milk

Preheat the oven 180/160 FAN. Grease a bundt tin well, or alternatively grease a 2lb loaf tin and line the base. 

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla paste together until light and fluffy. Lightly beat the eggs, add to the bowl and mix until combined. 

Add half the flour and and all the bicarbonate of soda and mix until fully combined. Add half the the yoghurt and mix again. Add the remaining four and mix until combined. Add the remaining yoghurt and give a few more stirs.

Mix the water and cocoa powder to form a paste. Remove ~1/3 of the cake mix into a clean bowl and fold through the cocoa paste until combined.

Put blobs of the two different mixes into the tin, I used an ice cream scoop. 

When all the mix is in the tin use a knife to marble the two together, be careful not to marble too much, a few swirls should do it.
Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, in my bundt tin it took just over 30 minutes. When done leave to cool in the tin for at least ten minutes. Remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool fully on a wire rack.

Meanwhile make up the white chocolate icing, gently melt the white chocolate and set aside to cool slightly. Mix the milk with the icing sugar and then add the cooled white chocolate and mix until smooth and well combined.

Put the icing into a disposable icing bag and snip off the end. Pipe the icing in a zig zag pattern over the cooled cake.
As well as being  a tasty cake it look impressive, I think I was a little too cautious with the marbling and when I make it again I will give it a couple more swirls.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Apple pancakes

I have to admit I am not a huge pancake fan. Sure I have them on pancake Tuesday but that is about it. However since a recent america trip I do sometimes find myself fancying the fluffy american style pancake.

The recipe below is quick and simple and produces very nice fluffy pancakes. The mixed spice and apple give a really great flavour.

Apple pancakes

makes 10 smallish pancakes

100g self raising
50g caster sugar
tsp mixed spice
1 egg yolk
100ml milk
1 apple grated

Mix the flour, sugar and mixed spice together. Combine the milk and egg together and then add into the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined then mix in the apple.

Heat a teaspoon of butter in a frying pan. Add tablespoons of pancake mix to the pan and cook for about a minute, flip over and cook for about another 30 seconds until both sides are golden brown. Keep warm in a low oven whilst you continue making pancakes until the batter is all used up.

These pancakes will definitely be making a reappearance on my breakfast table. I had them with sliced banana and maple syrup and they were just amazing.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

White bottom cupcakes with White chocolate frosting

This months alpha bakes letter is 'W' after the 'V'of last month I am hoping next month might be a little easier on my poor brain! Alpha bakes is hosted in turn by Ros and Caroline, pop over to their blogs for details.
To be fair there are plenty of things you can make involving 'W' I just seemed to be lacking inspiration. It was M who came up with this creation, in a round about away. "What are Black bottom cupcakes" he asked, so I told him. "Can you make them white by turning them upside down", he asked? Well I have not done that exactly. Like a black bottom cupcake I kept the sponge on the bottom and the cheesecake on the top. I have inverted the flavours though.

I made a vanilla (white) sponge and a chocolate cheesecake topping, to up the 'W' factor a little more I topped the whole thing off with white chocolate frosting.

So there we have it White bottom cupcakes with White chocolate frosting.

White bottom cupcakes

makes 6

For the cupcakes I followed the love bakery vanilla cupcake recipe to the letter, feel free to use your favourite vanilla cupcake recipe.

For the cheesecake

100g full fat cream cheese
30g caster sugar
1/2 of one egg yolk
40g of dark chocolate

For the frosting

30g butter
125g icing sugar
1 1/2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
50g white chocolate

Pre heat the oven to 180C/160 FAN and line a cupcake tin with cases.

Mix up your cupcake batter and fill the cases 2/3 full. 

For the cheesecake melt the chocolate gently and set aside to cool. Quickly beat together the cream cheese, sugar and egg. Be cautious with the amount of egg. Beat until it is just combined, do not over-beat otherwise it will turn to liquid. 

Add a spoonful of the cheesecake mix to the chocolate and stir trough, add another spoonful and repeat. Add al the cheesecake to the chocolate, stir to combine, do this by hand, do not beat it.

Place blobs of the cheesecake mix on top of your cupcake batter.
Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes until lightly golden.

Leave to cool on a wire rack

Once cool they can be frosted. For the frosting gently melt the white chocolate and set it aside to cool. Beat the butter and icing sugar briefly and add the milk to help it come together. Keep beating the frosting for up to 5 minutes until it is very light and fluffy. Beat in the cooled melted chocolate until it is combined. 

Pipe or dollop the frosting into the cooled cupcakes. 
Firstly I need to apologise for the state of the frosting, I was baking bread and the kitchen was perhaps a little hot to be frosting cupcakes.
Look white bottoms
This vanilla cupcake is my current favourite and I would recommend the love bakery book to everyone. The white chocolate frosting was an experiment and it really does taste of white chocolate, I really hate frostings that do not deliver what they promise, but thankfully this one does.

The sweet frosting pairs perfectly with the very rich chocolate cheesecake. Be warned this is definitely one for chocolate lovers, if you like your chocolate less rich you could try milk chocolate in the cheesecake.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Molasses cookies

I am in love. These are such a simple cookie to make, smell amazing cooking, and look very pretty when they come out the oven, but this is not the reason I love them. From the first bite they had me hooked, I warn you eating one is actually impossible, it is much more likely that you will eat the entire tin in one sitting.

These delectable cookies were mentioned in this months cupcake book club read, the book club is run by Kelly of an american cupcake abroad, check out her blog if you want to join in!

 Looking around most recipes are pretty similar. Below is my interpretation. I had to use black treacle (very very very similar to molasses) as getting actual molasses is not an option where I live.

Molasses cookies

makes around 35

160g butter
200g dark brown sugar
1 egg
60g of black treacle
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
caster sugar for rolling

Heat the butter gently until melted and stir into the sugar. Add the egg and mix until incorporated, it will take a minute. 

Add in the treacle and mix again. Add the flour, bicarb and spices to the bowl and mix until everything is fully incorporated. 

Chill the dough in the fridge for ~ 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C FAN.

Roll the dough into equal size balls, I used a level tablespoon to get my cookies the same size.

 Roll the ball lightly in caster sugar and place on an ungreased, unlined baking sheet. 

Make sure to spread the cookies well apart as they will spread.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Have I mentioned that I could eat my own body weight in these? They do store well in an airtight tin, however my batch may not have been stored very long at all... and so I cannot definitively say how long they store for!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Sourdough bread

Its time! I have been feeding my starter religiously for a week and it is bubbling away happily.

Still its a little while longer before I can enjoy the fruits of my labour. I have to start making my bread the day before I want it!

Sourdough loaf

Firstly make your sponge the day before you want your bread or even two days before, depending at what time of day you want to eat your bread!

Take 100ml of your starter, add 250g of flour and 275ml of warm water. Mix well with your hands, cover with clingfilm and leave overnight. In the morning it should be sticky and very bubbly.
You can add whatever bread flour you like. To make my sponge I added 100g wholemeal and 150g white bread flour. 

The next morning it is time to make bread! Add 300g flour (I used 200g white, 100g spelt) 10g fine sea salt and 1tbsp oil (I used groundnut ). Mix with your hands until everything is combined, turn out onto a floured board and knead for 10 minutes. Place into an oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm.

Leave to rise. This step will take longer than other bread. If you want your bread in the evening make  the dough, as outlined above ,in the morning and come back to it early evening. If, like me you want your bread at lunch, leave your sponge until the evening before making the dough. Make the dough, as above, and leave overnight to rise. 

Once the dough has risen, mine got HUGE, turn onto a floured surface and knock it back. Place the dough into a proving basket, or line a bowl with a floured tea towel instead, and cover with clingfilm. Leave to rise for ~2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 250C/230C FAN. Put a baking tray in the oven to get hot. Put a roasting tin with boiling water in at the bottom of the oven to create a humid atmosphere.

Take the baking tray out of the oven and sprinkle it with flour, and tip the dough onto the tray. Slash the top of the dough with a serrated knife. Bake for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature by 50C and continue baking for 20-25 minutes. 

When ready the dough should have a deeply coloured crust and sound hollow when tapped underneath. 

Leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before cutting into the bread.

The smell of this bread as it cooks is amazing. The dough has a very distinct flavour and was worth the wait!

It was a perfect accompaniment to soup and I cannot wait to try it toasted.

I am going to experiment with a flavoured version in the week. I will also let you know if my method of storing the starter was successful.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Cherry pie with streusal topping

Confession time, I wanted dessert, but I was supremely tired, that, combined with the fact that the supermarket had ready rolled pastry on offer, forced my hand. I bought my shortcrust, even though I can make it quickly I wanted desert quicker!

This recipe was inspired by The Bakery Girls by Florence Ditlow, this months cupcake book club read.

I used two mini tart tins to make to individual pies. The fridge is literally fit to bursting, there is no way I could store leftover pie if I had made a large one.

Mini cherry pies

makes 2

Shortcrust pastry, homemade or shop bought
200g of cherries
2 tablespoons of cherry jam (I actually used plum jam that needed using)
15g plain flour
1/2 tsp cinamon
10g butter
20g light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C FAN. De stone the cherries.

Line the tins with the pastry and bake for 10 minutes, There is no need to blind bake, just pop the tins in as they are. 

While the pastry is in the oven put the jam into a pan with 1 tablespoon of water and stir until the jam is meted. Add the cherries and cook for a few minutes.

For the streusal topping combine the flour and cinnamon in a bowl . Cut the butter into the flour using a knife, or rub in with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the sugar.

To assemble the pies place spoonfuls of the cherries into the pie cases , topping with the syrupy jam.

 Sprinkle a good handful of the topping onto each pie.

Bake in the oven for  further 15-20 minutes, until the topping is golden and crunchy.
Serve immediately with plenty of ice cream!
If you wanted to make 1 big pie I would multiply the recipe by 4. 

This pie was lovely, comfort dessert at its best. I particularly loved the warm syrupy cherries with crunchy topping.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Triple chocolate cookies

Chocolate may not make the world go around but it certainly makes it a happier place.*

And so when I need a little pick me up I make these. After long days at work, one (ok two) of these and a cuppa is enough to restore me back to human status.

Triple chocolate cookies

makes 24 (this is highly dependent on how big you make your cookies )

115g butter
100g caster sugar
115g light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
110g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
85g of chopped white chocolate
85g of chopped milk chocolate

Preheat the oven to 160C/140C FAN. No need to line or grease baking sheets, hurrah!

Cream the butter and sugars together until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla paste and mix until incorporated.

Add the flour, cocoa powder, bicarb, and baking powder to the bowl and mix until nearly combined. Finally stir through the chocolate chunks until evenly distributed. 

Place spoonfuls of dough on the baking sheets, I used my tablespoon as a guide, make sure to space them well apart. Flatten the balls of dough, just a little, with your hands.

Bake in the oven for 10-14 minutes. Once done remove from the oven and allow to cool for a minute or two. Using a palette knife transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

Take care not to overbake these cookies and you will be rewarded with a fudgy middle, not unlike a brownie, yum.

*This is of course my opinion and not indisputable fact.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Red velvet cupcakes

My experience with red velvet cupcakes is a little like a disaster movie. Thankfully a disaster movie with a happy ending, not one where everyone slowly gives up hope and dies (yes alien I am talking about you).

My first red velvets were a complete and utter disaster, and I mean one of epic proportions. It was not simply a case of them not being red enough, not being chocolaty enough, too thin frosting, a little bit dry etc. No, these were inedible, purely on the basis that they would not bake.

I cannot actually use the word bake, the best way I can describe their cooking process is to say that they boiled. I very thin vaguely chewy crust formed and the underneath bubbled and boiled like something from Halloween. I ended up with very hot, sticky, red liquid all over my cupcake tin, with slightly burnt sugar crusts. Not a cake, not edible, not happy.
There are no words
I know I followed the recipe, so I have no idea what happened, either my scales or oven went hinky.

Anyway I waited a while, put on a brave face and  had everything crossed for red velvet cakes take 2. And they worked! Actual cakes!

I followed a red velvet recipe from love bakery for my second attempt and I followed it to the letter.

The resulting cupcakes are nice and soft and the frosting is delicious. M says they are lovely but for me the chocolate is just not there enough. As Florian on cupcake wars says, the red velvet should be a chocolate cake with a hint of red not the over way round! Still I have an idea to ramp up the chocolate flavour so hopefully my next red velvets will be perfect, if so I will post my adapted recipe then.