Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Halloween pumpkins

I have been so busy this year around Halloween so have not really managed any of the baking I had planned. And technically there is no baking in these little pumpkins but they are very cute so I will let them off.
They a cookie dough truffles made to look like pumpkins. The recipe for the eggless cookie dough is from 'The cookie dough lovers cookbook' by Lindsay Landis. The artistic decoration is all my own, though I doubt anyone else would want to take credit, they are slightly wobbly pumpkins to say the least!

Halloween pumpkins

Makes ~15

For the cookie dough

56g butter
25g caster sugar
50g light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
tbsp milk
70g plain flour
50g mini chocolate chips or regular ones chopped up a bit

For the decoration

Silver spoon orange buttons
A little dark chocolate melted, or a black/brown edible pen

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Beat in the milk followed by the flour until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand. Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes.

Form the dough into small balls and place them on baking sheets lined with baking parchment and freeze for 15 minutes (my freezer does not work, I put them in the fridge for 30 minutes).

Melt the buttons gently and set aside to cool. The buttons need to remain melted but the cooler they are the less the cookie dough will soften when you try and coat them.

Coat the cookie dough balls with the melted mix. This is messy, or at least it was for me, maybe other people are more skilled at such things! 

Set back on the baking parchment and allow the coating to set. Once the coating is set decorate the pumpkins however you wish. If like me you use chocolate just put it in a piping bag and snip the tiniest corner off so that it comes out in a thin stream.
These little pumpkins do taste very nice, cookie dough is always good and the orange buttons have a lovely flavour of orange. Just must work on my decorating skills for next year!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Raspberry and white chocolate cupcakes

This is definitely a staple favourite of mine. There is something very reassuring about this cupcake, it never fails me and always tastes delicious.

This time the cupcake got a special treat, I had a little spare time and this cupcake got extra pretty as well as delicious.

Its a vanilla cupcake filled with raspberry jam and its all topped off with a swirled white chocolate and raspberry buttercream.

Raspberry and white chocolate cupcakes

(makes 6)

For the cake

65g butter
65g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste/extract
1 egg
65g self raising flour
1 tbsp milk
6 tsps raspberry jam

For the frosting

65g butter
125g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste/extract
tbsp milk

50g white chocolate
1-2 tablespoons raspberry jam
pink food gel (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN and line a cupcake tray with cases. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until very light and fluffy, this can take a while, be patient the cakes will be so much better for it.

Add the egg and beat for a further minute. Scrape down the sides and add the flour, beat on slow until the flour is just incorporated. Add the milk and beat the mixture for a further two minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake cases and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25minutes. When the cakes are done they will be lightly golden and springy when pressed lightly with your finger. 

Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to completely cool.

Once the cakes are cool use a sharp knife to remove a cone from the centre of each. Fill the well with a heaped teaspoon of raspberry jam, and replace the cone, trimming to fit if necessary. 

For the frosting gently melt the white chocolate and set aside to cool. Beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla together until it starts to come together. Add the milk and beat for 5-7 minutes until the buttercream is very light and fluffy.

Divide the buttercream in half, to the first half add a tablespoon of the jam and a dot of gel food colouring (if using), beat to incorporate. Taste, it may need a little more jam, but be careful the mixture needs to be pipeable, too much jam will loosen the frosting too much. 

Check that the chocolate is nice and cool, it still needs to be melted but if it is too hot it will melt the frosting. Beat the white chocolate into the second half of the frosting until it is fully incorporated.

Fit a piping bag with a nozzle of your choice, and lay flat on a worktop. Layer the white chocolate frosting on the bottom half of the piping bag, next layer the raspberry frosting on top. 
Frost the cakes in decorative swirls and then tuck in and enjoy!
I actually had all the ingredients for these in the cupboard when I decided to bake. They look and taste decadent yet if you are anything like me you will will probably have all the ingredients lurking.

Best enjoyed with your feet up and a hot beverage of your choice, a little luxury in a busy day!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Peanut butter cookie stuffed brownies

This looks like a normal brownie right?
Well, it is a chocolate brownie, but it has a hidden surprise  A very yummy surprise I might add. I have hidden balls of peanut cookie dough within the brownie.

The peanut cookie dough adds a lovely nutty salty contrast to the sweet brownie. Saying that I always cut a little sugar from brownie recipes as I like them deep and chocolatey and not too sweet.

Peanut butter cookies stuffed chocolate brownies

makes 18 (dependant on how big you cut them!)

For the cookie

28g butter
28g peanut butter (I used crunchy)
25g caster sugar
40g light brown sugar
Tbsp milk
70g plain flour
pinch of salt

For the brownie

200g dark chocolate 
75g butter
100g groundnut oil
275g caster sugar
130g plain flour
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 170C/150C FAN. Grease and line a brownie tin with baking parchment.

First make the cookie dough, beat together the butter, peanut butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in the milk and finally stir in the flour to bring the cookie dough together. Put the dough aside whist you make the brownies. 

Place the butter, oil and chocolate in a heat proof bowl and set over a pan of barely simmering water. Allow to melt, stirring from time to time. When fully melted remove the bowl from the heat and mix in the sugar until full incorporated. Next stir in the flour until no more remains visible. Finally add the eggs one at time and stir until fully combined. 

Pour half the brownie mix into the prepared pan and level out with a spatula, or the back of a spoon. Take small pieces of the cookie dough and roll into balls. Evenly disperse the cookie dough balls over the batter and press them in every so slightly.

Pour the rest of the batter over, making sure all the cookie dough is covered  even if it is only a wafer thin covering, 

Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes until flaky on top but not overcooked, you want a nice fudgey centre! Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for at least an hour this will make removal  much easier. 

Using the baking parchment to help you, lift the brownie from the tin and transfer it to a wire rack. When fully cool cut with a sharp knife into whatever size brownie pieces you require.
You can of course use your own personal favourite brownie recipe but I have posted this one as it has become my favourite quite by accident! I had started to make these when it became clear I would not have enough butter. This never happens. It was nearly a disaster. However I substituted groundnut oil for the missing butter. I was a little worried the brownies would be cakey but hoped there was enough butter to keep them fudgey.

Totally unexpectedly these were my favourite type of brownie, a crisp top, fudgey centre and just a little bit of chew, hmmmm.  

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Beer Sourdough

More experimenting with sourdough thanks to this months cupcake book club.

This is simply a white sourdough loaf but instead of adding water to the loaf along with the four I added beer.

The beer enhances the taste of the sourdough and produces a light and soft loaf. However it does not taste overly of beer.

I am going to experiment further with beer in my sourdough. I have noticed that in Paul Hollywood's latest book he makes a sourdough with beer and also uses a beer glaze, that sounds nice. I would also consider using a darker beer, maybe even a stout.

Anyway this bread made an excellent pulled pork sandwich, yum!

Definitely enjoying bread making, lots of exciting types to try to keep me occupied for a long while.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Very English apple cake

Autumn is definitely upon us, time for wrapping up warm and indulging in autumn time goodies. I don't know about you but some such autumn flavours are most definitely apples and spice!

With this in mind I knocked up a simple but absolutely delicious English autumnal apple cake.

Very English apple cake (From Peyton and Byrne)

3 medium or 4 small apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
juice from one lemon 
1tsp mixed spice
125ml groundnut oil (or other vegetable oil)
125g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste (optional)
2 eggs
150g self raising flour
1/2 tsp mixed spice

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN, grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment. 

Prepare the apple and toss them in the lemon juice and tsp of mixed spice.

Using a fork whisk the oil, sugar and vanilla (if using) together in a bowl until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk briefly until fully incorporated. 

Add in the apple and mix. Finally add in the flour and final mixed spice. Mix until combined then pour into the prepared tin. 

Bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. 

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack. 

Sorry, not too many pictures of the method, I was too preoccupied with timing everything right, I was cooking tea at the time too!

Serve this cake warm with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, yum! It will keep in a tin for up to 5 days, I like to rewarm it through before I eat it.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Clotted cream shortbread

When I was younger I went on a lot of family holidays to Cornwall and of the many fab memories I have, I remember lots of cream teas and I remember coming home with loads of shortbread for family members, and maybe a couple of boxes for the home biscuit tin too!

I had loads of clotted cream left over and so decided to make clotted cream shortbread. That was the easy part. Surprisingly there are very few clotted cream shortbread recipes about. So I adapted various other ones I have, I crossed everything and waited.

Clotted Cream Shortbread

makes ~20, dependant on size

75g clotted cream
75g butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
75g caster sugar
200g plain flour
25g rice flour

Grease two baking sheets and preheat the oven to 170C/150C FAN. Soften the butter well with a wooden spoon. Add the clotted cream, vanilla and caster sugar to the bowl and cream by hand util everything is combined.

Add the flours and stir until the the mix comes together as a dough, you my need to press the remaining clumps together with your hands,  Lightly flour a surface and rolling pin and roll out the dough till about 1 cm thick. 

Cut out shapes with a cutter of your choice. Try and be clever with you stamping out. The more you work the dough the less short your short bread will be. Aim for just one or two re-rolls of the trimmings. Place the shapes on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until the shortbread biscuits are golden.
Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack and sprinkle with caster sugar while hot. 

Crossing everything worked! These were a delicious shortbread and perfect with a cup of tea/hot chocolate. Not entirely sure how long they keep for, about 3 days in my house!
I got a bit excited when I was coating them in sugar and decided to dye my sugar pink with a little bit of pink food gel. Well I had already cut out hearts so thought why not,  but don't they look pretty?

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Banana, oat and raisin Sourdough

This months cupcake book club read was set in, and around, a bakery and inspired me to get creative with my sourdough.

I already have a sourdough starter which I have had for just over 3 months. Up until now I have only made white or wholemeal loaves, well once I added a little Gruy√®re!

So after this book I made a slightly more adventurous one, banana, oat and raisin.
There were mixed opinions on the finished loaf, M loved it and would eat the lot in one sitting if allowed. I was not so much of a fan. I found it denser than my previous sourdough loafs, I guess this could be due to the banana. Having made nice light, soft loaves over the past few weeks I am almost certain that I made no flaws technique wise, but hey, everyone makes mistakes once in a while so maybe I did something. I suppose I would have to make it again to find out.
I will not be deterred however and plan to make an adventurous savoury sourdough too.

My sourdough starter, sponge and loaf recipes can be found on the blog. The breakfast sourdough idea came from Paul Hollywood's latest book.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Nectarine pie

Maybe its just me but I am finding this months alpha bakes a tricky one. I saw the letter  'N' and though 'oh that's fine'. But then I actually thought about it. And though some more. In the end I enlisted the help of M who thought and thought and eventually came up with nectarines.

I decided to try the nectarines in a pie. I was a little worried as I had not heard of nectarine pie, maybe there was a good reason for that!

Actually it was a very nice tasting pie, lovely buttery short pastry, plenty of vanilla and sweet juicy nectarines  The only issue was that the nectarines did not break down as an apple or pear does. I think if you were to try this I would roast the nectarines with a little vanilla first before adding them to the pie. I think this would encourage them to break down more so that the filling of the pie would be oozy and sticky.

Nectarine pie

makes 2 mini ones with pastry left over

100g plain flour
1/2 tbsp icing sugar
60g butter
1/2 an egg yolk
1 tbsp ice cold water
3 nectarines
vanilla paste or pod

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN. Mix together the flour and icing sugar. Add the butter in small cubes and then rub in with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the egg yolk and water, and use a round edged knife to bring the mix together. If it is a little dry add a a touch more of the egg yolk or ice cold water until you have a soft, not sticky dough. It is a good idea at this point to refrigerate the dough for a short while to make it easier to work with. I wrapped mine tightly in clingfilm and chilled for 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry and line your pie dish. Fill with chopped and peeled nectarine chunks (pre roasted for a softer filling) and vanilla seeds or paste. 

Arrange strips of pastry in a lattice on the top and pinch to seal. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.

Serve warm with cream, clotted cream or ice cream

Another good thing about this pie was that there was not a soggy bottom in sight, Marry Berry would have been proud.
I am going to make some sort of Apple pie soon (ish), so will post pastry amounts and techniques for a large pie then.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Chocolate orange marble cake

Hi, just a quick post today its been a busy busy week. Still have a few posts waiting to be finished and up loaded!

I wanted a nice simple cake to enjoy with a cuppa after work and this fits the bill perfectly.

For the recipe just follow my vanilla and chocolate marble cake recipe, here. Once you have divided the batter simply add the zest of a grated orange and juice from half the orange to the vanilla batter.

I do not think this cake needs any icing it is fantastically moist and just the thing for when you want a delicious but simple cake.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Chocolate melting moments

I was not entirely sure what to make this week and so asked M for some inspiration. After a moment of thought his face lit up and h said 'posh biscuits'. What is a posh biscuit I hear you ask, or maybe you don't, maybe unlike me you already knew. I worked out he meant something that was not an american style cookie. 

So after a little thought I came up with these. A two tone vanilla and chocolate melting moment sandwiched together with a white chocolate ganache.
I was going to pipe swirls but was short on time and my butter was a little hard so I piped little fingers instead.

Chocolate melting moments

I made 24 little sandwiched fingers but it depends on how you pipe the mixture.

For the vanilla biscuits

62g butter
14g icing sugar
tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
14g cornflour
62g plain flour

For the chocolate biscuits

62g butter
14g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
14g cornflour
52g plain flour
10g cocoa powder

For the ganache

80ml of double cream
100g white chocolate, broken up

Prepare the ganache by gently heating the cream to boiling point, pour over the chocolate and leave for a couple of minutes. Stir briskly with a fork, the chocolate should be all melted and smooth. If any lumps of chocolate remain that do not go away after stirring stand the bowl in a little hot water and stir again. Leave the ganache to cool and thicken, first on the work top and as it cools you can move it to the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN and line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

To make the vanilla biscuits beat the butter sugar and vanilla together until very soft, ~ 5 minutes. It needs to be very soft so it is pipeable.

Add in the flour and cornflour and, using a spoon, bring the dough together.

Using a star nozzle pipe either swirls or fingers onto the prepared baking sheets. If you are finding it hard to pipe the butter is probably a little hard and you will need to beat it for longer next time. 

Make the chocolate biscuits in the same way, adding the cocoa along with the flours.

Pop the trays in the fridge or freezer for 15 minutes to help the butter firm up. This prevents the biscuits spreading and keeps the piped shape nice and sharp after baking.

Bake the biscuits for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden. 

Remove from the baking sheets and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Pair up the biscuits with a friend of a similar size. 
Give the ganache a quick whisk with a fork. With a piping bag and star nozzle, or a spoon ( I used a nozzle, these were 'posh' biscuits remember ..) place ganache along one biscuit of each pair sandwiching the second on top. 
These are lovely short, crumbly, melty biscuits that pair really nicely with the creamy ganache. I hope I succeeded in my quest for posh biscuits, judging by M's reaction I did just that!