Thursday, 30 July 2015

Chocolate and Coffee Baklava







The Great British Bake Off returns next week for another fantastic series that I’m really excited for. So for every week until the sad end of the series, I’ll be baking lots of recipes from the show :D

To celebrate the new series, I looked over the recipes from last season (available on bbc.co.uk/food), and decided to try one of the recipes baked by last year's winner (Nancy) in the semi-final. They had to make baklava (traditionally layered filo filled with nuts, and soaked in a honey/sugar syrup), and one of the kinds Nancy made were chocolate and coffee.

I had two attempts. In the first, I tried to follow the recipe implicitly...but the result did not go well - way too bitter :( So I did lots of alterations, which I've amassed and written the recipe below.
After my modifications, this recipe is perfect as an after dinner snack :D Not for kids, but one adults will love (provided you're a fan of coffee that is!).
Makes 1 20cm tray of baklava (12 individual pieces)


Ingredients:



  • 6 sheets of filo pastry, halved
  • 100g butter (or margarine), melted
  • 125g roasted chopped hazelnuts
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp instant espresso coffee (dissolved in 200ml hot water)
  • 50g chocolate chips
  • 30g demerara sugar
  • 300ml orange juice
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange blossom extract
  • 1 orange, zest only

Method:

1. Make the filling by mixing the nuts, cocoa, coffee, chocolate, and demerera sugar.
   
Version with instant dried coffee and milk chocolate...
Adding the liquid coffee made the mixture firmer.

2. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/ gas mark 6. Grease a 20 x 20 cm square baking tin 
with butter.

3. Brush the first sheet of filo with melted butter (this is easiest to do using a pastry brush). Lay the second layer on top, and brush over more melted butter.







4. Spread over a third of the filling (it will look sparse but don't worry!). Then add the third layer of filo, and brush with butter. Finally add the fourth layer of filo, brush with butter, and roll into a sausage.

5. Cut the filo "sausage" into four, and place in the greased baking tray. Repeat to make two more filo rolls (to end up with 12 pieces of baklava).

6. Brush the tops of the baklava with more melted butter.





7. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180c/160c fan/gas 4, and bake for another 10 - 15 minutes. The top will become golden brown.




8. Whilst the baklava is cooking, make the syrup. Heat the orange juice and caster sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for around 5 minutes, until the temperature of the syrup is 108c/226F. Remove from the heat, stir in the orange blossom extract, and leave to cool.

When the syrup boils, it froths massively!! So be sure to use a large pan to prevent
spillage onto your hob.

9. Once the baklava has baked, scatter the orange zest on top and pour over the cooled syrup. Leave to cool completely before serving.



10. Devour.

Note 1: The ingredient, according to the website is instant coffee...but it doesn't state whether it was the dried coffee, or after being made up with water (so liquid).  In my first attempt, I used dried coffee - this ended up being very bitter and overpowering! 
So for my second attempt, I instead made up the coffee in 200ml hot water, then used 2 tablespoons of it. The result was 500 x better!!

**Note 2:  I used milk chocolate chips in my first attempt at the recipe, and white chocolate in the second. I personally preferred the white chocolate, but if you have a less sweet tooth than me, milk chocolate did work well too.


Note 3: Nancy's recipe said to use star anise in the filling. However, I didn't understand this, as chomping down on a piece of star anise is really disgusting...I used it in my first attempt in the syrup, but found this to be overpowering. Therefore in my second attempt, I left out the star anise, and was very happy doing so.




Hope that got you stoked for the Great British Bake Off!!! Are there any recipes from previous series you would like me to try? 
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Sunday, 19 July 2015

Polish Rhubarb and Strawberry Kompot




My boyfriend is Polish so I've spent a fair bit of time eating and cooking Polish food. This is a new recipe I made this weekend - kompot can be made from any stewed fruit, and is a super refreshing beverage (the stewed fruit pieces are especially amazing!). Here I used rhubarb and strawberries freshly picked from our garden, but any summer fruits (like cherries or raspberries) would work really well.

Ingredients:

  • 3 sticks rhubarb
  • around 150g strawberries, hulled
  • granulated sugar (to taste)
  • Sprig of mint

Method:

1. If you can, pick your own rhubarb and strawberries :) Wash the fruit well.




2. Hull the strawberries, and chop the rhubarb into pieces around 1 inch in length.



3. Place in a saucepan, and add 1-2 tbsp of sugar. More sugar can be added later if the kompot tastes too tart.


4. Half-fill the saucepan with water, and bring to the boil. Boil for 3-4 minutes, until the fruit is soft. Add the mint leaves.

Before cooking

After cooking for 3-4 minutes

5. Taste, and add more sugar if needed.

6. Leave to cool, before pouring into sterilized jars.


7. Enjoy!


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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Fudgy Caramel Chocolate Cake


This is a great celebration cake for anyone who loves fudge, caramel and chocolate (and who doesn't really??). I baked it twice just last week, and everyone who tried it adored it. I split one cake into 3 layers after baking, but you could bake the cake in three separate cake tins if you don't dare slice it. This will reduce the cooking time to approximately half an hour.

Makes 1 20cm cake (3 layers)

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 150g margarine or softened butter
  • 150g plain chocolate (around 40% cocoa solids)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 150g plain flour
  • 200g light brown soft sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the caramel sauce:
  • 55ml double cream
  • 25g butter
  • 25g light brown soft sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
For the buttercream frosting:

  • 2 tsbp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened

To decorate:

  • 100g grated fudge (see recipe)

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 160c/140c fan/ gas mark 3. Grease and line the base of a deep 20cm cake tin.

2. Melt the butter/margarine with the plain chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (make sure the base of the bowl does NOT touch the water in the pan), stirring often. Once melted, take off the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes.

3. In a separate bowl stir together the flour, sugar and baking powder. Beat in the yoghurt, eggs and vanilla extract. Pour in the butter/chocolate, and beat until smooth.



4. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 60-80 minutes, until a skewer comes out of the cake clean. Take out of the oven and after 5 minutes, transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool fully.



5. Whilst the cake is baking, make the caramel sauce. Heat the brown sugar, butter, cream and golden syrup together in a medium sized pan until all of the butter has melted, and the sugar has dissolved. Boil for a few minutes, then take off the heat to cool.




6. To make the buttercream, cream the butter until it is very soft, then add the icing sugar, cocoa and two tablespoons of hot water. Cream together with a wooden spoon briefly (to start to incorporate the icing sugar), then use an electric whisk to make the buttercream smooth (don't start with the electric whisk unless you want an icing-sugar covered kitchen!).

7. Slice the cake into three even layers (this is easiest to do with a serrated knife). On the base layer add 1-2 tbsp of the caramel sauce, and use the back of a spoon or a palette knife to smooth over the whole of the cake. Add a large spoonful of buttercream on top of the caramel sauce and spread evenly over the layer.

8. Add the next layer of cake, and repeat the additions of the caramel sauce and buttercream.

9. Add the final cake layer. Add the caramel sauce, and use the rest of the buttercream to spread over the top and sides of the cake. A palette knife is very helpful for this.




10. Sprinkle the grated fudge all over the top of the cake.

11. Enjoy!!





This cake is great served cold, and even better when heated slightly (turning it into a fudgy caramel pudding),and served with vanilla ice cream.

Love caramel? Then you'll adore my White Chocolate Salted Caramels
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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Sticky Toffee Pudding Traybake



Who doesn’t adore sticky toffee pudding?? It’s one of the best british classics I can think of. This pudding can be served warm with ice cream or single cream, or cold as a cake. You could even jazz it up with some buttercream and turn it into a fab birthday cake!

Makes 1 20x20cm cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:
  • 25g butter (softened) or margarine
  • 85g light brown soft sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 100g pitted dates, roughly chopped
  • 145ml weak black tea (hot)
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

For the sauce:
  • 55ml double cream
  • 25g butter
  • 25g light brown soft sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup

Method:

1. Preheat  your oven to 200c/180c fan/ gas mark 6. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin with greaseproof paper.

2. Cream together the butter/margarine and brown sugar with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy, and no obvious brown speckles of sugar can be seen.

3. Beat in the golden syrup and egg with one tablespoon of the flour.

4. Sift the remainder of the flour into the bowl and fold in (until no more flour can be seen).

5. Meanwhile blend the dates with the tea in a food processor. Add the vanilla extract and bicarbonate of soda to the dates and mix.

6. Add the date mixture to the pudding batter, and fold in. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, until well risen, golden brown, and springy to the touch.

7. Whilst the pudding is baking, make the sauce. In a medium pan add the cream, butter, brown sugar and golden syrup. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until the butter has melted.

8. Boil for a couple of minutes, then take off the heat and wait until the pudding has baked.

9. Once the pudding it out of the oven,  use a fork or skewer to poke holes over the top of the cake. Pour over the toffee sauce evenly (if this has thickened upon cooling, heat for a minute in the pan to loosen in).

10. If serving warm, wait 5-10 minutes before taking out of the tin, slicing, and serving with ice cream or single cream.

11.Enjoy.


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