Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Orange and Pecan Parsnip Cakes

This recipe is a little spin on the parsnip cake I made a couple of months ago, and they're SO good. The treacle gives a much richer flavour than the maple syrup, and compliments the orange well. Feel free to leave the pecans out if you have nut allergies!

175g unsalted butter
2 tbsp treacle
240g demerara sugar
3 eggs
250g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp mixed spice
250g parsnips, peeled and grated
Zest and juice of 1 orange
50g chopped pecans

For the frosting:
75g unsalted butter
200g icing sugar
1 tbsp orange juice
Pecans to decorate

Pre-heat your oven to 180c and line a muffin tray with cases.
In a large saucepan, melt together the butter, treacle and sugar over a low heat until smooth.

Remove from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes.
Next, whisk in the eggs before adding the flour, baking powder and mixed spice and mix well.
Add the grated parsnips, and stir until thoroughly combined. Lastly, add the orange zest and juice, along with the chopped pecans, and mix well.

Divide the batter equally between your muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the sponges are springy to the touch, and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
To make the frosting, put the butter and icing sugar in a microwavable bowl and heat in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, until the butter is just starting to melt. Gently mix together until it’s lightly and creamy. Add the orange juice and stir until well combined.

Once the cakes have cooled, use an icing bag to pipe spirals of frosting on top of each cake, and top with a pecan.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Smoked River Cobbler and Spring Onion Quiche

If you're ever stuck for mid-week meal ideas, I seriously recommend you try this quiche. Served hot with roast new potatoes and salad to make a filling meal. It's also a great party food as it can be eaten cold too, making it perfect for a buffet on boxing day alongside all your Christmas turkey left overs and cheeses! Sorry I forgot to take a photo of it until after I'd started dishing it up!

One batch of basic shortcrust pastry
500g smoked river cobbler, or other white fish, skinned and boned
Bunch of large spring onions, finely sliced
3 eggs
300ml pot double cream
1 tsp paprika
Pepper to taste
50g mature cheddar, grated

Pre-heat your oven to 180C and get your tart dish/tin out ready.
Lightly dust your work surface with flour, and roll the pastry out to 2-3mm thick. Use the pastry to line your dish/tin. Push the pastry into the edges and corners, and leave any over hang. Use a fork to prick a few holes across the base before using a sheet of baking paper or tin foil to line the pastry. Fill the lined case with baking beans. If you don't have baking beans, you can also use a handful of copper coins.
Blind-bake the pastry for 15 minutes, then remove the paper and beans/coins, and return to the oven for a further10 minutes, until just golden. 
While this is blind-baking, bring a pan of water to a simmer. Place the fish fillets into to the water and poach for 5 minutes, until the flesh is white and flaky. Drain the water from the pan and break the fish into bite sized chunks.
Once the pastry has finished blind baking, scatter the fish over the base of the case. Scatter over the sliced spring onions too, followed by the cheese.
In a small jug, beat together the eggs, cream, paprika and pepper and pour this over the fish and onions. 
Turn oven down to 150C and bake the quiche for a further 50 minutes, golden and just set in the middle.
Let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving hot, or leave to cool completely in the dish/tin if eating cold.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Rough Puff Pastry

This one take a little more time to make, and can be tricky, but it's worth it. Rough puff pastry is great for pies and sausage rolls. Another recipe from BBC Good Food.

250g plain flour
Pinch of salt
250g butter, at room temperature, but not soft

Approx. 150ml cold water

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Tear the butter in small chunks, and roughly rub them into the flour. You still want some chunks of butter, you don't want it to look like breadcrumbs.
Make a well in the mix and pour in about 100ml of the water, mixing until you have a firm rough dough. You can add extra water if necessary, but add a little at a time until it just comes together. Cover with cling film and rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
Once rested, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a rectangle. Roll the dough away from you, until it's 3 times the height. Try to keep the edges straight and even. 
*Tip from BBC Good Food - don’t overwork the butter streaks; you should have a marbled effect.
 Fold the top third down to the centre, then the bottom third up and over that. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the folding process. Leave folded, and cover with cling film. Chill for 20-30 minutes before rolling to use.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Next, sweet shortcrust pastry. Great for sweet tarts and mince pies!

1 egg
125g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
250g plain flour
125g butter, cubed

Put the egg and sugar into a bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved into the egg.
Then sift the flour into the bowl and mix well, making sure there are no pockets of flour, until it is sandy in texture.
Lastly, add the butter and cut in with a pastry cutter or butter knife, until it forms a sticky ball.
Turn the dough out onto a light floured surface and knead together for a few minutes to get rid of any lumps of butter, then wrap in clingfilm or greaseproof paper and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before use.

Basic Shortcrust Pasty

Whilst planning my Christmas baking I realized that I've got a few things that include pastry; rough puff, shortcrust and sweet shortcrust. Rather than write out the pastry recipe for each different pie or tart I bake, I thought it would be easier to give you the pastry recipes now so that in the future, I can just list 'one batch of rough puff pastry' in the ingredients section and link it to this page. You can of course use shop brought pastry, as this can save time, but homemade is definitely nicer!
First is shortcrust pastry, which is great for savory dishes like quiches and tarts. Recipe from BBC Good Food.

225g plain flour
100g butter, cubed
pinch salt

Sift the flour into a large bowl, and add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. 
Stir in the salt, then add 2-3 tbsp water and mix to a firm dough. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface until it's smooth, and wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge while preparing the rest of your dish.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Raspberry and Blackberry Frozen Mousse Cake

I made this as my Mum’s birthday cake last month (I’ve been slow to upload some of the recipes I’ve used recently!) and it went down a treat with my family. I used a combination of home-grown raspberries and blackberries picked from the field just down the road from our house, but frozen fruit from your local supermarket would work just as well – just defrost them first.
For the base:
2 eggs
50g caster sugar
50g plain flour
2tbsp cocoa powder

For the mousse:
600g combination of raspberries and blackberries
115g icing sugar
300ml whipping cream
2 egg whites
Pre-heat your oven to 180c and grease/line a deep, loose bottomed cake tin.
Whisk the eggs and sugar in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water until the beaters leave a trail when lifted. Remove from the heat at this point and sift over the flour and cocoa powder. Fold the mix together until well combined, then spoon the mix into the cake tin and spread up to the edges.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until just firm, then turn out and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Re-line the tin and replace the sponge layer. Place this in the freezer while you do the next step.
Set aside about 200g of the berries. Put the rest of the berries in the bowl of a food processor, along with the icing sugar, and process to a puree.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream to form soft peaks, and then in another bowl again, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
Using a large spoon, fold the puree, and then the egg whites, into the cream a bit at a time, trying not to knock any air out of any of it.
Carefully spoon half of this over the sponge layer in the tin. Sprinkle over the whole berries that you set aside, and then spoon the remaining mousse mixture over the top.
Freeze over night, and then thaw for at least 2 hours before serving. 

Friday, 15 November 2013

Peanut Butter Pudsey Bears

Tonight sees the Children in Need evening take over our televisions, and millions of pounds will be raised to help young people with disabilities, struggling with poverty, or who give their lives to caring for their families all around the UK. Everyone likes to do their little bit, and today I am wearing my onsie to work and have made these Pudsey Bear biscuits to help raise a few pennies for an amazing cause.
Now, I will admit, these biscuits are better made in a more sturdy shape - round or square would be perfect. They are so light and buttery that I did find the legs and arms snapped off a few of bears when transferring them to my trays. Aside from that, they taste amazing and they do keep some of the texture of the peanut butter.

120g plain flour
1/2tsp baking powder
50g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, diced
4tbsp crunchy peanut butter

Pre-heat your oven to 160c and grease/line your baking trays.

Tip all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and then use your hands to rub the butters into the dry ingredients.
When it starts to come together into a dough, knead it around the bowl for a couple of minutes until everything is well combined.

Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out the dough to the thickness of a £1 coin. Use your cookie cutter to cut out your biscuits, re-rolling any off cuts until all the dough is used up.

Place your biscuits on your prepared baking trays and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden. They will still be a little soft, but will firm as they cool.

Once firm, move to a wire rack to cool completely. You could drizzle a little chocolate over the cooked, cooled biscuits if you wanted to add a little something extra too.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Earl Grey Biscuits

I made these for my friend’s birthday – a crazy cat lady, who is also an avid tea drinker. They’re great for dunking, and you can substitute the Earl Grey tea leaves for any other kind of loose leaf tea too – try using different fruit teas for a more summery taste, or ginger and cinnamon for a festive twist.

150g unsalted butter
115g light muscovado sugar
2tbsp Earl Grey tea leaves
1 egg
200 plain flour
Demerara sugar for sprinkling

Pre-heat your oven to 180c and grease/line your baking tray(s).

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the tea leaves until well combined, then stir in the egg. Sift in the flour and fold into the mixture, first with a spoon, and then with your hands.
Bring the dough together into a ball and knead for a couple of minutes until everything is well combined.
Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out the dough to the thickness of a £1 coin.
Cut a cookie cutter to cut out your biscuits and transfer them to your prepared baking tray(s). Re-roll any off cuts and keep going until all the dough is used up.

Sprinkle over a little demerara sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.
Leave to cool on a wire rack, or enjoy warm from the oven.

I used a little dark chocolate to draw cat faces on these, but obviously this isn’t a necessity!

Easy Chocolate Finger Biscuits

I made these to go alongside the citrus squares – variety is the spice of life after all! They look so pretty and would make a great birthday/Christmas present in cute little boxes – and they’re REALLY easy to make. You can try different chocolate for dipping; milk or white chocolate would work just as well.

115g plain flour
Pinch of baking powder
2tbsp cocoa powder
50g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter
3tbsp golden syrup

100g dark chocolate
Chocolate balls or strands to decorate

Pre-heat your oven to 160c and grease/line your baking tray(s).
Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl, and then add the butter and golden syrup. Using your hands, rub the butter and syrup into the dry ingredients until it starts to form a soft dough. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes to make sure all the ingredients are well combined.
Take two sheets of baking paper and place the dough between them. Roll the dough between the sheets to a rectangular shape, about A4 size and just a couple of millimetres thick.
Trim the edges so the side of the rectangle are straight, then cut in half length ways. Cut each half into a dozen or so slices, about an inch in width and transfer them to your prepared baking tray(s). Re-roll and re-use and offcuts until all the dough is used up.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, and take them out just before they start to colour. They will still be a little soft when you take them out, so leave them on the trays to cool for a couple of minutes until they firm up. Once firm, you can move them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
Once the biscuits are cool, break the chocolate up into small pieces and place in a small but deep microwave safe bowl. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, heating it in 15-20 second blasts and stirring between each one, taking care not to burn it.
Dip one end of the biscuits into the melted chocolate, letting any excess drip off. Lie the biscuit on a sheet of baking paper (you can use the clean side of same pieces you used to roll out the dough) and sprinkle a few chocolate balls or strands onto the chocolate before it sets.

And there you have it - fancy looking biscuits are easier than you thought, eh?

Friday, 8 November 2013

Luscious Lemon and Lime Squares

Things have been busy the last couple of weeks, so I've not found much time to get any baking in... Until last night that is! My sister asked me to make something for her to take to a party, and after much deliberation, I settled on this citrus traybake, as well as some chocolate biscuits I'll share with you in another post. Feel free to substitute the lemon or lime for the zest and juice of half an orange instead - go with whatever citrus fruits you fancy!

For the base:
150g plain flour
90g unsalted butter, cubed
50g icing sugar

For the topping:
2 eggs
175g caster sugar
Zest and juice of a lemon
Zest and juice of a lime
1tbsp plain flour
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pre-heat your oven to 180c and grease/line a deep baking tray or square oven proof dish.

Put the flour, butter and icing sugar for the base in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Tip the mix into your tray/dish and press down firmly with the back of a spoon, making sure to push it right up to the edges and in the corners.
Bake for 15 minutes then remove from the oven, but leave the oven on.

While the base is cooking, make the topping. In a bowl, whisk the eggs until they turn frothy. Tip in the caster sugar a little at a time whilst still whisking, then add the lemon and lime zest and juice. Whisk this until well combined before adding the flour and bicarbonate of soda and giving one last mix.
When the base comes out of the oven, pour the topping over the base and spread into the corners with the back of a spoon. Return the dish to the oven and bake for a further 20-25 minutes until golden and just firm to the touch.
Leave to cool in the dish before turning out, dusting with a little icing sugar, trimming the edges and cutting into squares.