Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Chocolate Swirl Meringues


This is a very easy recipe for rather impressive looking meringues. Crispy exterior and marshmallow interior.
These meringues are roughly 8 cm, but you can make a lot more meringue kisses for fun.







MAKES 16 MERINGUES
   4 medium egg whites (at room temperature)  
   1 tsp of lemon juice
   225g (8oz) caster sugar
   1 tsp cornflour


MAKES 12 MERINGUES
   3 medium egg whites (at room temperature)
   1 tsp of lemon juice
   168g (6oz) caster sugar
   1 tsp cornflour

MAKES 8 MERINGUES
   2 medium egg whites (at room temperature)
   ½ tsp of lemon juice
   112.5g (4oz) caster sugar
   ½ tsp cornflour


AND, melted chocolate. 
I melted 100g dark chocolate in the microwave for 12 meringues. It's up to you how chocolatey you would like your meringues. 

1.   Preheat the oven to 130°C, (fan 110°C).
2.   Get a really clean medium bowl. If it is not spotlessly clean, it may mean that the egg whites don’t whip up properly. This goes for all the equipment.
3.   Tip the egg whites into the bowl, squeeze the lemon juice in and then whisk to a medium peak.
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.   Finally, whisk in the cornflour for a second or two until smooth. This gives the meringue a marshmallow texture inside.
6.   Drizzle the melted chocolate and gently fold the mixture. Don't "mix" it, but make a "marble" like pattern with the chocolate. Dollop blobs of the mixture onto the oven proof paper. You can drizzle more melted chocolate on each meringue at this stage.
7.   Bake in the oven for at least 40 minutes. Cool in the oven with the door ajar for at least 2 hours.

8.   Once the meringues are ready, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. 



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.