Sunday, 16 April 2017

Easter Buns


Happy Easter Baking. Here it comes.
This year, I decided not to put a cross on my buns as I was in a bit of a rush making these buns on the Easter day itself.  Yes, last minute baking. This is a very easy recipe and the buns taste and smell just like the British favourite "hot cross buns." Happy Easter, everyone.  :)

Ingredients
  • 250g strong white flour  
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 7g easy-action yeast
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 50g unsalted butter softened or low-fat spread
  • 80ml milk
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 100g sultanas
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon

Method
  1. Put all the ingredients, apart from the sultanas, in a bowl and mix together with an electric whisk with dough hooks for about 5 minutes until the dough becomes a ball. If the dough struggles to come together add 10ml more milk to make it very sticky. 
  2. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave the dough in a warm place until it doubles in size. 

  3. Knock down the air and mix in the sultanas with your hands with some oil.
  4. Shape the dough and place it in the baking tray and bake in a preheated oven (160c fan) for 10 minutes.
  5. Turn down the temperature of the oven to 140c and bake for another 20 minutes.
  6. Take the bread from the oven and cool for a few minutes. Then brush with syrup (some sugar and water). Decorate with icing.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Easy Mini Meringues


I love pavlova (or meringue depending on how you present it).
It looks so pretty and lovely for ending dinner. I recently made these for a girls night-in dinner for my lovely friends.
There are so many recipes saying "fool proof meringues", "basic" or "absolutely anybody can make these" kind of headlines.  I tried a few of them.  However,  I always find these recipes didn't give me "perfect ones". So, I tried, tested and tweaked the basic recipes.
Here is my recently successful recipe for 4 egg and 3 egg versions of mini meringues. You never know how many eggs you have when you have a sudden urge to make meringues.
You can make them in an open style presentation with cream and your choice of fruit. For the photo above, I used creme fraiche, blueberries and chopped plums marinated in my homemade raspberry vodka.
Or, you can stack two meringues together with the filling in the middle as in the photo below.
Get set to be creative! 




Makes 12 meringues 
   4 medium egg whites (at room temperature)
   1 tsp of lemon juice 
   225g (8oz) caster sugar (I tried 200g and it works)
   1 tsp cornflour

Makes 9 meringues 
   3 medium egg whites (at room temperature) 
   1 tsp of lemon juice 
   170 g (6oz) caster sugar (I tried 160g and it works)
   1 tsp cornflour 

* The quantity of lemon juice and cornflour are the same for both versions. I tested them and the result was good in both cases.



Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 130°C, (fan 110°C), 250°F, gas mark ½. Using an 8cm (3 ¼ in) diameter template (like a small saucer or bowl), mark out 12 circles on 2 sheets of baking parchment. Turn them face down onto 2 large baking sheets and set aside.
  2. Get a really clean medium sized bowl. If it is not spotlessly clean, it will mean that the egg whites don’t whip up properly.
  3. Tip the egg whites into the bowl, squeeze the lemon juice in and then whisk them to a medium peak. To test, lift the whisk out of the meringue with some of the white foam on the end.
  4. Next add a spoonful of the sugar to the meringue and whisk really hard until all of the sugar has ‘dissolved’ and the mixture starts to look a bit shiny. Then add the remaining sugar gradually, while whisking all the time, until the mixture becomes really shiny and very stiff.
  5. If you perform the whisk trick at this time, the peak will be almost straight up in the air.
  6. Finally, whisk in the cornflour for a second or two until smooth. This gives the meringue a marshmallow texture inside with a crisp outside.
  7. You can then dollop blobs of the mixture onto each of the 12 circles on the paper and spread each one out to the circle edge with the back of a spoon. I like to put a star nozzle in a piping bag and fill it with the meringue mixture. Then, starting in the centre of each circle, holding the piping bag vertically and squeezing it gently as you go, go round and round until the entire circle is filled to give a pretty flat rose shape. When you come to the end of the rose shape, keep the bag moving but stop squeezing it. This will give a neat ‘end’ to the rose. Repeat with the rest of the mix.
  8. Bake in the oven for at least 40 minutes. Cool in the oven with the door ajar.   I leave them in the oven for a couple of hours to cool them completely. (If your meringues crack or became too brown, just turn the oven down by 10°C or so.) Once the meringues are ready, remove them from the oven. 
  9. Decorate the meringues with the topping of you choice. I prefer creme fraiche to fresh cream for a lighter flavour with berries. 
The meringues cracked spectacularly?
Or piping didn't go as well as expected? 
Fear not. 
You can crush them and put them in a glass and make "Eton Mess."
Tidy. :)  





You may also try to make meringue nests as in the photos below.  






Last Christmas, I discovered amazing stuff called "Extra Thick Salted Caramel Cream with LUXARDO Caramel Liquor" at a supermarket. The flavour was SO lovely with sliced banana.





Friday, 6 May 2016

1-Pan Up-side Down Apple Cake


This is a wonderfully easy and less messy cake version of tarte-tatin.
You don't even need a cake baking tin.  
You only need one bowl to mix the batter and one stainless-steel sauce pan to make caramel and bake the cake.
There's less washing up afterwards. 
If you have baked tarte-tatin, you know how annoying it can be to clean the pan which is used for making caramel. Hardened caramel stuck to the bottom of the pan is really difficult to clean.
However, I have noticed that the caramel which is baked in the cake tin doesn't stick as much as caramel made in the pan.
So, here is the solution. Make caramel in the pan, place the apple on top of the caramel in the pan. Then pour in the cake mix and bake. 
As a result, as the pan bakes the cake, there is no need to use a cake tin. AND, not surprisingly, the caramel in the bottom of the pan melts in the apple cake, and is SO easy to clean afterword. 
Ha! Isn't it a clever idea?
Ah, I've just got another idea. I could sprinkle sea salt on top of the caramel before laying sliced apples. "Salted Caramel Upside-Down Apple Cake"...... sounds even more interesting??? 


Ingredients 

  • 6 oz self-raising flour 
  • 6 oz caster sugar 
  • 6 oz low-fat margarine  (or butter if you like)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 2 apples sliced
  • Caramel: 3 oz caster sugar + 3 tablespoons water  

Method



  1. Place the granulated sugar and 3 Tbsp water into a stainless steel pan.
  2. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and there are no granules.
  3. Remove the spoon and increase the heat. (Do NOT stir! Just watch!)
  4. Boil until a golden straw colour. Then immediately put the bottom of the hot pan in a bowl of water. This stops cooking the caramel further. Leave it to cool at room temperature. (you could sprinkle some sea salt on the caramel to give it a "salted caramel" effect.)
  5. Slice the apples and place them on top of the caramel layer in the bottom of the pan.
  6. Put all the ingredients of the cake mixture in the bowl and mix with an electric hand-mixer.
  7. Pour the mixture into the pan over the apple.
  8. Bake in a preheated (180 C) oven for 50 minutes or until golden brown on top. 
  9. When the cake is baked, leave it for a few minutes then turn it upside-down onto a plate. 
Here is the "pear version"


Sunday, 27 March 2016

Easy Hot Cross Buns


Yes, More Easter Baking from me. Here is my very first attempt at "Hot Cross Buns".
There was no "mixed spice" in my cupboard as Mary Berry suggested to use.
So, I just made up my own "mixed spice" with what I had in the cupboard.
I also found out I had run out of plain flower to make the "cross" decoration. So, instead, I used icing to make the cross.
Result? Surprisingly, the smell of "hot cross buns" came from the oven.
Obviously, these are not text book Hot Cross Buns, but I'm a happy bunny. :)

Ingredients
  • 250g strong white flour
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 7g easy-action yeast
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 50g unsalted butter softened or low-fat spread
  • 80ml milk
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 50g sultanas
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • a pinch of ground coriander

Method
  1. Put all the ingredients, apart from the sultanas, in a bowl and mix together with an electric whisk with dough hooks for about 5 minutes until the dough becomes a ball. If the dough struggles to come together add 10ml more milk to make it very sticky. 
  2. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave the dough in a warm place until it doubles in size. 
  3. Knock down the air and mix in the sultanas and orange zest with your hands with some oil.
  4. Shape the dough and place it in the baking tray and bake in a preheated oven (140c fan) for 10 minutes.
  5. Turn down the temperature of the oven to 120c and bake for another 20 minutes.
  6. Take the bread from the oven and cool for a few minutes. Then brush with syrup (some sugar and water). Decorate with icing.

Gingerbread Miffy



Happy Easter, Everyone. 

I know chocolate eggs are the usual Easter treat, but how about these gingerbread Miffy biscuits?
Great wee pressie for Miffy lovers. :) 

Ingredients
  • 350g (12oz) plain flour 
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g (4oz) butter, cubed
  • 175g (6oz) light muscovado sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4Tbsp golden syrup

 Method
  1. Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C. Line two baking trays with nonstick baking paper. In a food processor, mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon. Add the butter and pulse until it has been incorporated. Add the sugar and pulse a further 3-4 times.
  2. In a bowl, put the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter with your fingers. Mix in the remaining ingredients with a wooden spoon, before bringing the gingerbread dough together by hand together the egg and golden syrup with a fork. (Alternatively put all the ingredients into the food processor and whizz until the mixture comes together in sticky clumps.) Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in clingfilm; chill for 30 minutes.
  3. On a large sheet of lightly floured, nonstick baking paper, roll out half the dough to roughly the thickness of a pound coin. Using a biscuit cutter, (I found a Miffy biscuit cutter on eBay) stamp out some shapes. Arrange on one of the prepared trays and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.


Friday, 25 March 2016

Easter Lemon Cake


One of my favourite lemon drizzle cakes dressed for Easter.

Ingredients 
  • 225g/8oz butter (or low-fat spread if you prefer), softened
  • 225g/8oz caster sugar

  • 225g/8oz self raising flour, sifted 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 medium size eggs

      For the drizzle topping
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 85g caster sugar


 Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ Fan160C/Gas Mark 4. Grease a (20cm) round, deep loose-based tin and line with baking parchment.
  2. Place the butter, sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl. Use an electric whisk to beat the butter and sugar together until they are pale and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, whisking well between additions and adding 2 tbsp of the flour with the last egg - this will prevent curdling.
  3. Sift over the remaining flour, then gently fold in with a metal spoon along with 2 tbsp hot water. Spoon into the prepared tin, level the surface and bake for 45-50 mins or until it is shrinking away from the sides of the tin. A fine skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 mins.
  4. Squeeze the lemon juice, then sieve to remove the bits. Use the fine skewer to prick the cake all over, pour over the syrup, then sprinkle over the sugar before removing the cake from the tin. Serve in wedges.
You could decorate the cake with icing (icing sugar and lemon juice) and chocolate mini-eggs for Easter. 



Sunday, 13 March 2016

Easy Brioche with leftover egg yolks


How to use up leftover egg yolks after making pavlova or meringue is an issue.
So, here is another idea for using up the egg yolks.
I had 3 egg yolks left over so I used these 3 egg yolks instead of 1 whole egg in a recipe for sweet dough.
The result was surprisingly good. The bread turned out very soft, fluffy and yet moist.
It was a bit like Panetone or Brioche.

Handling the sweet dough was tricky as it was a very wet dough and stuck to my hands.
Unfortunately, I don't have one of those fancy stand mixers but I just have a good old hand mixer.
Recently, I discovered that the "dough hooks" which came with the hand mixer can do the same job as the stand mixer. I've been using my very basic hand mixer for a long time, but I have never used the "dough hooks" until I discovered they were actually for dough.
Anyway, kneading sweet dough has became a doddle. 



Ingredients
  • 250g strong white flour
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 7g easy-action yeast
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50g unsalted butter softened or low-fat spread
  • 80ml milk
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 50g raisins

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients, apart from the raisins, in a bowl and mix together with an electric whisk with dough hooks for about 5 minutes until the dough becomes a ball. If the dough struggles to come together add 10ml more milk to make it very sticky.
  2. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave the dough in a warm place until it doubles in size.
  3. Knock down the air and mix in the raisins with your hands with some oil.
  4. Shape the dough and place it in the baking tray and bake in a preheated oven (140c fan) for 10 minutes.
  5. Turn down the temperature of the oven to 120c and bake for another 20 minutes.
  6. Take the bread from the oven and cool for a few minutes. Then decorate with icing.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

No Waste Pavlova with Lemon Curd


Pavlova is a great dessert to impress guests though it's very easy to make and prepare in advance.
So, I often make it for a dinner party.
The problem is what to do with the leftover egg yolks. Custard? Mayonnaise?  
Tada! This recipe solves the problem, as you can make the lemon curd for the pavlova itself.
The tangy lemony flavour works very well with the sweet meringue. It's very refreshing. :)  

Ingredients
For the pavlova base
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 medium free range eggs, at room temperature
  • 200g caster sugar

For the Lemon Curd
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest 
  • 100ml lemon juice (appox. 3 lemons) 

Method for Pavlova base
  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C (fan).
  2. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment, cutting it to fit. Using a cake tin or plate as a template, draw a 23cm diameter circle on the parchment with a pencil.
  3. Place the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla extract in a small bowl and blend with a teaspoon until smooth.
  4. Separate the eggs one at a time, taking care not to include any yolks with the whites.
  5. As each egg is separated, tip the white into the large mixing bowl.
 Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff enough to hold their shape.
  6. Whisk in the sugar a tablespoonful at a time, adding a little of the cornflour mixture each time.
  7. When all the sugar and cornflour has been added, the consistency of the mixture will be thick and marshmallowy.
  8. Using the spatula, turn the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet. Spread it to the marked line, then swirl with the spatula, making a slight indentation in the centre for the filling.
  9. When the Pavlova is ready to bake, turn the temperature down to 120°C and bake it for 1 hour. Then turn the oven off and leave the pavlova base to cool completely in the oven.

Method for Lemon Curd
  1. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until well combined but not frothy.
  2. Tip into a heavy-based non-reactive saucepan and add butter, zest and juice.
  3. Stirring constantly, bring to simmering point over a medium-high heat (about five minutes).
  4. As soon as bubbles appear, remove from heat, still stirring. Allow to cool. Transfer to a sterilised jar and seal if you do not use all the lemon curd for the pavlova.


Pour the Crème fraiche on top of the Pavlova and drizzle the lemon curd.


Friday, 11 March 2016

Classic Carrot Cake


It's good to have a classic recipe which you can rely on and "almost" guarantees that everybody loves it.  
This is my humble simple carrot cake. The main ingredients weigh 6 oz (175g) so it's very easy to remember. 
This is nothing fancy, but it always makes me feel cosy. It's a cake, but with vegetables in it, so I don't feel so guilty........... am I totally wrong? 
Ah, by the way, this recipe has slightly less fat than conventional carrot cake recipes.  


6 oz Carrot Cake

Ingredients
  • 6oz (175g) brown soft sugar
  • 6oz (175g) self-raising flour
  • 6oz (175g) grated carrot
  • 150ml sunflower oil
  • 100g sultanas
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking-powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • grated zest of 1 large orange
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp orange juice or lemon juice

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C.
  2. Tip the sugar into a large mixing bowl, pour in the oil and add the eggs. Lightly mix with a wooden spoon. Stir in the grated carrots, raisins and orange rind.
  3. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices, then sift into the bowl. Lightly mix all the ingredients – when everything is evenly amalgamated stop mixing. The mixture will be fairly soft and almost runny.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes, until it feels firm and springy when you press it in the centre. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn it out, peel off the paper and cool on a wire rack. (You can freeze the cake at this point.)
  5. Beat together the frosting ingredients in a small bowl until smooth – you want the icing about as runny as single cream. Set the cake on a serving plate and boldly drizzle the icing back and forth in diagonal lines over the top, letting it drip down the sides. 



Sunday, 14 February 2016

Very Lemony Muffins


If you love lemon flavour it can't get more lemony than this.
All sweet Valentine Day's treat with a tangy twist. Classic. :) 

Ingredients (makes approx 12 muffins)

For Muffins: 
  • 280g/10oz plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 115g/4oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml milk
  • 6 tbsp/ 90ml sunflower oil
  • juice of one lemon and zest of 2 lemons
  • approx 4 tbsp lemon curd (optional)

For the lemon syrup
  • Juice of one lemon and a bit of zest
  • 80g granulated sugar

Method 
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas Mark 6 and grease muffin tin or place cases in muffin tin.
  2. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder then stir in the caster sugar.
  3. Lightly beat the eggs in a separate bowl and then beat in the milk, oil and juice of one lemon. Make a well in the dry ingredients’ bowl and pour in the beaten liquid then stir gently until combined but try not to over mix. Then stir through the zest of two lemons (You could leave a little for the lemon syrup to make it extra lemony).
  4. Spoon half of the mixture into the prepared muffin tins or cases then add a teaspoon of lemon curd into the centre of each one before spooning the rest of the muffin mixture on top if you would like the muffins to have a lemony creamy surprise. However, the muffins are just lovely without this.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes until they are well risen, golden brown and firm to the touch.
  6. While baking the muffins, make the lemon syrup with the juice of one lemon, granulated sugar and lemon zest. Mix the lemon juice and granulated sugar in a small bowl to give a runny consistency.
  7. Then transfer to a wire rack. Prick the warm muffins all over with a skewer then pour over the drizzle – the juice will sink in and the sugar will form a lovely, crisp topping