Saturday, 24 June 2017

Amaretto Fudge



Mmmmmm fudge. Possibly my favourite sweet. I wanted to jazz up a classic and give it an adult note, and amaretto seemed the perfect complement. The marzipan-like flavour really enhanced the fudge :) Instead of amaretto you could use whatever you favourite spirit is, for example a spiced rum or something like chambord or cointreau.

Pieces of this in a pretty bag/box would be a brilliant gift to take along to a dinner party or just to show off your baking skills :)

Makes around 20 pieces

Ingredients:
  • 200g (1 cup & 1 tbsp) brown sugar
  • 75ml (1/3 cup) double cream
  • 50ml (1/5 cup) milk
  • 30g (2 tbsp) butter
  • 45ml (3 tbsp) amaretto
  • 1 tsp golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

1. Grease and line the base of a 1lb/500g loaf tin with baking parchment.

2. Place the sugar, double cream, milk, butter and golden syrup in a medium saucepan and place on a low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted, then turn the heat up to bring the mixture to a boil.

2. Once at a boil, reduce the heat slightly and keep stirring until the mixture reads 110c/230f on a sugar thermometer. This will take between 8 and 12 minutes, depending on the pan/hob heat.

3. Once at temperature, take off the heat and leave for 5 minutes.

4. Add the vanilla extract and amaretto, and beat in. Keep stirring the fudge as it cools (around 15-20 minutes), and it will become very thick. Once cool, tip into the prepared tin and smooth out. Use a fork to draw diagonal lines across the fudge, then leave to set (for at least 1 hour).

5. Cut into cubes.

6. Enjoy!

This fudge should ideally be kept in the fridge (because of the cream), and will last up to a week.


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Monday, 19 June 2017

Gluten-Free Fudgy Coconut Brownies

Gluten-free fudgy coconut brownies

Hi everyone! This recipe is super simple and will delight any gluten-free people you know, or anyone else for that matter! They have an intense chocolate kick, surrounded by a crisp outside and the centre just melts in your mouth. These brownies are epic. To make them even better for a coconut lover such as myself, I used coconut oil instead of butter and added desiccated coconut to the mix. These are at least 10 x better than any store bought brownie I've bought, and the bad rep of gluten free baking ends with this recipe.

If you're not a huge coconut lover, you can either use an unflavoured coconut oil or use butter :)

These are brilliant served at room temperature as an afternoon snack, or warmed up and served with some cream, custard or ice cream as dessert.

Hope you enjoy them as much I do!

Ingredients:

  • 125g (1 cup) coconut oil, melted
  • 250g (1 cup and 2 tbsp) light soft brown sugar
  • 50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder (the best quality you can afford), plus 1 tbsp for dusting
  • 50g (1/3 cup and 2 tsp) ground almonds
  • 50g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut
  • 2 medium eggs

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 180c (160c fan)/355f/gas mark 4. Grease the base of a 20cm square cake tin (I use a silicon baking tray but any should work), then dust with cocoa powder.

2. Break the brown sugar into a fine crumb (it has a tendency to clump), then combine with the melted coconut oil. Whisk until smooth, then add the eggs, cocoa, ground almonds and dessicated coconut.

3. Beat until all of the dry ingredients have been incorporated, then pour into the prepared tray.

4. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the top feels crisp and when you lightly move the brownies, only the very centre wobbles slightly.

5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool fully before slicing.

6. Serve cold, or hot with cream/custard/ice cream. YUM.

7. Enjoy!

Gluten-free fudgy coconut brownies

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Monday, 12 June 2017

Gluten-Free Millionaire's Shortbread

Gluten Free Millionaire's Shortbread


As you may have gathered, I hate to bake things for a group of people when at least one of them can't eat said product. That's why I've really made efforts recently at making gluten free bakes :) This one was actually one of my first, but I've only just now gotten around to writing up the recipe. It's a beaut - millionaire's shortbread - layers of shortbread, homemade caramel, and a marbled chocolate topping. The shortbread is the only aspect that needed gluten removing from, but I ended up with a really good biscuity result! And don't worry, my caramel is foolproof :)

Makes 16-20 squares (fills a 20 x 20cm square tin prior to baking/setting)

Ingredients:

For the shortbread:

  • 225g (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 115g (1/2 cup) golden caster sugar
  • 225g (1 & 1/2 cups) plain gluten free flour (I use Dove's Farm), plus an extra tablespoon for dusting
  • 115g  (1 cup) corn flour


For the (salted) caramel:

  • 150g (2/3 cup) butter
  • 1 x 397g tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 100g (1/3 cup minus 1 tbsp) golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)


For the chocolate:

  • 150g (1 cup) milk chocolate
  • 150g (1 cup) white chocolate


Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 160c (150c fan)/ 355f/ gas mark 3. Grease and flour (using gluten free flour) the base of a 20cm square cake tin.

2. For the shortbread beat the butter in a large mixing bowl until it is very soft and spreadable. Add the sugar and "cream" (i.e. beat the sugar into the butter), until all of the sugar has been incorporated and the mixture has lightened in colour. This will only take a few minutes.

3. Sift in the flour and corn flour, and use a wooden spoon or your hand to beat the flours into the butter/sugar to create a dough (there shouldn't be many crumbs remaining in the bowl if you lift the dough out). As soon as the ball of dough is formed, stop working the dough.

4. Lay out a sheet of clingfilm, and lay the dough on top of it. Cover with another layer of clingfilm, and roll out the dough to a 20cm square (it will be about 1cm thick).

5. Transfer to the cake tin (minus the cling film), and prick all over with a fork.

6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden on top, and the top feels crisp to the touch (i.e. it doesn't feel soft when pressed). Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

7. Make the caramel. Add the butter, condensed milk and golden syrup to a saucepan and place on a low heat. Stir until the butter has melted.

8. Turn up the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. At this point keep stirring the mixture as the base may catch otherwise. Keep stirring and boiling until the mixture turns a deep caramel colour - this will take 3-5 minutes, depending on the heat of your hob. Once ready, take off the heat and pour on top of the cooled shortbread. If you want salted caramel, add the salt to the caramel at this stage. Leave to cool.

9. To make the chocolate topping, melt the milk and white chocolate separately in bowls in a microwave, heating for 10-20 second bursts, stirring well between each addition. Once both chocolates have melted, place a layer of clingfilm on a baking tray/rectangular chopping board. Place spoonfuls of milk or white chocolate over the clingfilm, and use a spoon to lightly marble the chocolates together, to make a square about 22cm in size. Place in the fridge to set.

10. Once set, trim the chocolate with a sharp knife to 20cm, and place on top of the cooled caramel shortbread. Place the whole millionaire's shortbread in the fridge for at least half an hour, then slice into squares.

11. Enjoy!

Gluten Free Millionaire's Shortbread

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Monday, 29 May 2017

The Best Sponge Recipe!


Duck egg sponge cake


This is my new favourite sponge recipe - the trick? Use duck eggs instead of hen eggs - they are much richer in flavour and wow, you'll be glad you tried them out :) Just be sure to weigh the eggs as they can vary massively in size (and don't seem to have as standard sizes as hen eggs).
If you can't find duck eggs, use hen eggs - the recipe will still work and taste nice (just not quite as heavenly).
I filled my sponges with raspberry jam and covered the cake with a vanilla buttercream. Then to have some fun, I gave painting a go and used concentrated gel food colourings to paint a duck on the top of the cake :D This is obviously optional but worked quite well (given my limited artistic talents).
The cake is delicious and will keep for 3-5 days in an airtight tin :)

Makes one 23cm cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 250g butter, melted
  • 250g duck eggs (around 4) or equivalent weight of hen eggs
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


For the buttercream:

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp milk


To finish:

  • Raspberry jam (around 150g)
  • Food colourings of your choice
  • Paintbrushes


Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan)/ 355f/gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of two loose bottomed (or springform) 23cm round cake tins.

2. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the sugar and keep whisking for 3-5 until the mixture is pale and has at least doubled in volume (you can use an electric whisk at this stage if you like).

3. Whilst whisking, pour in the melted butter and vanilla extract. Once all of the melted butter has been added, sift in the flour and baking powder.

4. Fold the flour into the batter with a large metal spoon, just until you can see no more pockets of flour. As soon as this happens, evenly distribute the cake batter between the two cake tins.

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes are golden, they are starting to pull away from the sides of the tin, and a skewer entered into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

6. Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

7. To make the buttercream, beat the butter in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until it is very soft (it will appear like a soft spread). Sift in half of the icing sugar and keep beating to incorporate the icing sugar.

8. Sift the other half of the icing sugar into the bowl, along with the vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of milk. Beat until all of the icing sugar has been incorporated. If the mixture appears to thick (it is very hard to beat), add a little more milk (a teaspoon at a time). If when you spoon some buttercream out of the bowl, it immediately falls off the spoon, the mixture is too slack - if this happens add a few tablespoons of icing sugar. You want a spoonful of buttercream to slowly fall off the spoon, and to be spreadable.

9. To assemble the cake, level the top of both cakes off with a serrated knife. Any leftover bits are chef's perks, or can be frozen to use another day for cake pops.

10. Spread the jam all over the top of one of the cake layers. Top with about 1/4 of the buttercream, being careful to spread the buttercream evenly over the cake layer.

11. Top with the other layer of cake. Use a palette knife to smooth a very thin layer of buttercream over the top and sides of the cake - this acts as a crumb coat and gives you a better finish.

12. Refrigerate the cake for 10-15 minutes, until the buttercream on the cake no longer sticks to your finger.

13. Take the cake out of the fridge and cover the top and sides with the remainder of the buttercream.

14. To paint the cake, simply use the food colouring gels as paint pots, and go for it :) The food colouring I use is Wilton branded (like these), and it worked really well :D You can use disposable gloves if you're worried about getting the food colouring on your hands, and I used Kitchencraft paintbrushes (like these), but I'm sure any clean artist paintbrushes would work just as well)

15. Enjoy!

Duck egg sponge cake

Tammymum
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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Medovik - Ukranian Layered Honey Cake


Medovik - Ukranian 8 Layered Honey Cake

Every year for Eurovision I like to bake something from the host country. Last year Sweden hosted, and I made Ostkaka and Kladdaka (see here for the recipes). This year, Ukraine were the hosts and when searching for something to bake, this layered honey cake came up time and again.

In truth there's no sponge in this cake. It's more like 8 layers of honey biscuit, sandwiched with creamy but light filling. It has to be left overnight after forming, which softens the biscuit to be like a beautifully soft sponge.

I was skeptical when I started baking this cake, assuming mine would end up looking a mess.

However, it was really straightforward, and only took 90 minutes to prepare, bake and assemble! We tried it the next day and wowzerz it's tasty :) It looks really impressive so I'd highly recommend anyone try out this recipe.

I topped the cake off with some almond brittle, which is entirely optional, but gives the cake a nice final touch :)

Makes one 23cm cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 165g (3/4 cup) golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter 
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 660g (3 cups) plain flour

For the frosting:

  • 160ml (2/3 cup) double cream 
  • 600ml (2 & 1/2 cups) soured cream
  • 135g (1 & 1/3 cup) icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon


For the almond brittle:

  • 75g (1/2 cup) flaked almonds
  • 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp water


Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 180c (160c fan)/350f/gas mark 4. Grease two baking trays.

2. Heat the honey, sugar and butter together in a saucepan, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar has dissolved, take the saucepan off the heat and beat in the eggs.

3. Sift the bicarbonate of soda and plain flour into a large bowl. Pour the flour into the saucepan and beat with a wooden spoon until all of the flour has been incorporated. The dough should be firm enough to be able to form into a ball.

4. Place the dough on a floured surface and shape into a flat circle. Divide into 8 pieces (like a pizza).

5. Place a sheet of baking paper on your surface and lightly dust with flour. Add 1/8 of the dough to the paper, and roll out to 2-3mm thick. Use the base of a 23cm cake tin to cut the dough to the 23cm size. Keep the trimmings (they are used to cover the cake later).

6. Transfer the dough (stuck to the baking paper) to the greased oven tray and bake for 3-4 minutes, until browned. Once cooked, you can slide the baking paper +layer off the tray onto a wire rack, and bake the next layer (with a new sheet of baking paper).

7. Once all of the layers have cooked, roll out the trimmings to an even thickness, and bake for 4-5 minutes until browned. Set aside to cool, then blend to a fine crumb in a food processor.

8. Make the frosting by sifting the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the soured cream and cinnamon and beat until smooth.

9. Beat the double cream with a whisk until stiff peaks form. Fold this cream into the rest of the frosting. Refridgerate until ready to use.

10. To make the almond brittle, heat the granulated sugar and water together in a saucepan. DO NOT STIR IT, but you can swirl the pan from time to time. Keep an eye on it - after about 5 minutes it should turn a nice amber colour. Meanwhile, pour the flaked almonds evenly onto a sheet of baking paper (in a baking tray).

11. Once amber, pour the caramel over the almonds. Tilt the pan to evenly distribute the caramel. Leave to set for 10-15 minutes until cooled and firm. Break into shards.

12. To assemble the cake, place the first layer onto the serving plate. Place 4-5 tbsp of the frosting on the layer, and spread evenly over the cake. Top with the next layer of sponge.

13. Repeat with the remaining layers. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake - a large palette knife or dough scraper will give you the smoothest result, but a round knife will also work.

14. Pour the cake dough crumbs all over the cake. I don't know an easy way to do this - I just sprinkled it over the top of the cake (easy enough) then patted the crumbs onto the sides - a messy job but it worked.

15. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 10 hours.

16. Top with almond brittle shards, and enjoy!





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Sunday, 7 May 2017

Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel Macaron "Eclairs"

 
Chocolate peanut butter salted caramel macaron eclairs

So I'm pretty addicted to GBBO: Creme de la Creme, and this week they made macarons (that weren't allowed to be circular). I love macarons (as does my boyfriend), so it seemed like an opportunity to make another kind. I've previously made festive spiced and chocolate & raspberry macarons, and used a very similar recipe. The only difference - duck eggs! As seen from my post last week, duck eggs are incredible for sponges and I wondered how they'd be for making meringues (which are needed to make the macarons).

The result? Perfection :) Lovely a crisp to bite through with a soft chewy centre. They're best the day after you've baked and filled the macarons as the shells soften slightly.

I added cocoa to the macarons to give it a cocoa flavour and filled the macarons with a peanut butter cream cheese frosting and a liquid salted caramel filling. If you want an extra chocolatey note, you could drizzle some dark chocolate over the top of the macarons :)

From start to finish these took me two hours - the only difficult part is patience when whisking the egg whites and sugar syrup - keep going until the meringue forms glossy peaks! Also be patient when waiting for the skin to form - if you don't the macarons will crack in the oven.

Makes around 24 macarons (I made mine around 3cm long rectangles, but you can do standard circles if you wish).

Ingredients:

For the macarons:

  • 150g (1 & 1/4 cups) ground almonds
  • 10g (1 & 1/2 tbsp) cocoa powder (the best quality you can afford)
  • 175g (1 & 1/2 cups) icing sugar
  • 4 (125ml/1/2 cup) medium duck egg whites
  • 165g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 50ml (3 tbsp and 1 tsp) water
For the peanut butter filling:
  • 125g (1/2 cup) peanut butter (I used crunchy for extra texture)
  • 60g (1/2 cup & 2 tsp) icing sugar
  • 30g (2 tbsp) softened butter
  • 50g (3 tbsp) cream cheese (full fat)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp milk (optional)
For the liquid salted caramel:
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) double cream
  • 1 tsp softened butter
  • 75g (1/3 cup & 2 tsp) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I used freshly ground Himalayan salt)
Method:

1. Place the ground almonds, cocoa and icing sugar in a food processor (or high power blender) and blitz for 2-3 second bursts, until the mixture is very fine and the cocoa is evenly distributed. Be careful not to blitz for too long as the almonds can turn to butter!

2. Sieve the almonds/cocoa/icing sugar into a large bowl. Add 2 of the egg whites, and beat until a smooth paste is formed.

3. Heat the granulated sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Then stop stirring and place a sugar thermometer in the pan. In a grease-free bowl, add the remaining two egg whites. Once the sugar/water has reached 112C, start whisking the egg whites (I tend to use a hand-held electric whisk, but a stand mixer would be even easier!).

4. Once the sugar/water syrup has reached 118C, the egg whites should be white and frothy (like shaving foam). Carefully pour the syrup onto the egg whites, whisking constantly. Be very careful not to touch the syrup as it is super hot! Keep whisking until the mixture is shiny and forms peaks when the whisk is lifted from the mixture (this should take between 5 and 7 minutes).

5. Use a metal spoon to fold a third of the egg white mixture into the almond/cocoa/sugar paste. Once incorporated, gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

6. Fill a piping bag with the macaron mixture, and cut off 1cm from the end (or use a large round nozzle). Grease and line three baking trays with parchment paper and hold the piping bag vertically above where you want to pipe. Pipe 3cm lines of macarons, leaving at least 2cm between each macaron. 

7. Tap the tray on the surface a few times, then leave at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, until a "skin" has formed on the macarons - this means that when you gently touch the macaron, no mixture goes on your finger.

8. Preheat the oven to 170c (150c fan)/ 340F/ gas mark 3. Before you place the baking trays into the oven, tap the trays against the surface again. This gives the perfect "foot" of a macarons. Bake the macarons for 8-10 minutes - keep an eye on them after 8 minutes in case they are browning too much. Remove the macarons from the oven and transfer the macarons (with the baking paper still attached) to a wire rack to cool.

9. To make the peanut butter filling, sift the icing sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the peanut butter, softened butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract and beat until all of the sugar has been incorporated. If the mixture looks very stiff add a few teaspoons of milk. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large piping nozzle (a 1M large star nozzle would work well, or use a disposable piping bag and cut the end off about 1cm from the tip).

10. Make the liquid salted caramel. Pour the granulated sugar into a saucepan and place on a low heat. Keep an eye on the sugar, swirling the pan occasionally (but do not stir it!). After around 5 minutes, the sugar will be a light brown colour and be bubbling. 

11. Once brown take off the heat and add the butter. Whisk until melted, then pour in the cream. Whisk continuously. If the caramel becomes lumpy, place back on a low heat and whisk until the caramel has dissolved.

12. Pour the caramel sauce through a sieve into a bowl and allow to cool (for at least 10-15 minutes).

13. Once the macarons are cooled, start the assembly by flipping half over so that their bases point upwards.

14. Pipe a line of buttercream over each macaron that has been flipped.

15. Pour the caramel into another piping bag fitted with a small piping nozzle (a No.1 wilton tip/standard piping nozzle will work). Pipe a small amount of caramel over the "peanut buttercream". Top with a non-flipped macaron shell.

16. Pipe the remaining caramel sauce over the macarons.

17. Enjoy! (They are best eaten the next day so can be fully enjoyed then).

Chocolate peanut butter salted caramel macaron eclairs



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Monday, 1 May 2017

Gluten and Egg Free Lemon and Strawberry Syrup Cake


Gluten Egg Free Lemon Strawberry Cake with mini eggs

These past few weeks have flown by, and although I've been baking (mainly to de-stress), I haven't had time to post in what feels like ages.
Hopefully everything has settled down now, so I should be able to get back to my usual schedule :)

In my new job I have many new food intolerances to deal with. I hate baking when I know someone can't eat any for example if they are gluten-intolerant. It so happens that to keep my team fed, I need to bake things that contain no gluten nor egg yolks. I love a challenge and to make a cake without these ingredients was a challenge. Eventually I worked out this recipe - a lemon syrup cake with strawberry jam and lemon buttercream. Super yum.

If you wanted the cake to be dairy free, use a soy (or other alternative yoghurt), and a non-dairy butter (ideally the firm blocks, not spread). For the buttercream, you may find you need more or less icing sugar, as it completely depends on the butter you use. You want the buttercream to be firm enough to not fall off a wooden spoon, but spreadable (to enable it to be piped).

To make the horizontal lines around the cake, you can simply use a fork to gently move around the buttercream.

For the piping I used a closed tip large flower nozzle - see below:


The cake turned out really moist and soft, and was just as good (if not better) than lemon cakes I've made in the past that used normal flour and eggs!

Makes one 23cm cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:
  • 300g margarine (dairy free if you want, I used Stork), plus extra for greasing the tins
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 200g natural yoghurt (or dairy free alternative)
  • 3 lemons
  • 300g gluten-free plain flour (I used Dove's but other brands should work)
  • 2 tbsp gluten free baking powder (I used Dove's)
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum
  • 50g icing sugar

For the frosting:
  • 200g good quality strawberry jam

  • 200g softened butter (or dairy free alternative)
  • 400g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • yellow food colouring (I use a concentrated gel, where only a tiny amount is needed to colour the buttercream)

To finish:

  • Handful of mini eggs

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190c (170c fan)/375f/gas mark 5. Grease the base and sides of two 23cm cake tins, and sprinkle flour over. Tap the tin to evenly distribute the flour in the tin and tip out the excess.

2. Beat the margarine until very soft, and add the caster and brown sugar. Beat until all of the sugar has been incorporated - make sure there are no clumps of brown sugar. The mixture will look light and fluffy in a few minutes.

3. Zest and juice 2 of the lemons and add both the zest and the juice to the bowl, together with the vanilla extract, yoghurt, gluten free plain flour and gluten free baking powder. Beat briefly until the mixture is smooth.

4. Pour the mixture evenly between the two cake tins and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are lightly golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

5. Whilst the cake is baking, juice the remaining lemon and add to a saucepan with the 50g of icing sugar. Bring to the boil, and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has become clear.

6. Once the cake is out of the oven, prick the surface of each cake with a fork and use a pastry brush to evenly spread the lemon syrup over each cake. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting (this takes at least 30 minutes).

7. Make the buttercream. Have your butter as soft as possible, and beat with a wooden spoon until it is spreadable. Add half of the icing sugar with 1 tbsp of lemon juice and beat - the mixture will be very stiff. Once smooth, add the remaining icing sugar and lemon juice and continue beating until all of the icing sugar has been incorporated and if you taste a little, you can't taste any grains of sugar (or lumps of butter). The mixture should hold when you spoon a tablespoon out, but it shouldn't require too much strength to beat. This is hard to describe but to test, place a small amount of the buttercream into a piping bag and try piping the buttercream back into the bowl. If this requires a lot of force the buttercream is too stiff and needs a little more lemon juice (or milk if you don't want it so strong). If the mixture doesn't hold its shape once piped, it's too thin - to fix this add more icing sugar (but be sure to taste it to make sure it doesn't become too sweet).

8. Once the cakes have cooled turn out of the tins. If they have a significant dome, slice the tops off so they can be stacked. Place the first cake on a cake board. Spread the jam over the cake evenly.

9. Top with a third of the buttercream - you can pipe this on or just spread with a palette knife to the sides of the cake.

10. Top with the other cake layer. Take a large spoonful of buttercream and place on top of the cake. Use a palette knife to smooth around the top and sides of the cake a very thin layer of buttercream. This acts as a crumb coat and will give the cake a more professional finish. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes.

11. Take a third of the remaining buttercream and colour it a light yellow. Spread the uncoloured remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. A long palette knife or a dough scraper works really well for this, but a flat knife will also work. Be patient and try to get an even layer on and around the whole cake. A good way to get a smooth edge is to place a large spoonful of buttercream on the side of the cake, then run a palette knife/dough scraper around the cake, essentially dragging the buttercream evenly across the cake. Any excess buttercream can then be used to patch up sections.

12. Drag a fork/line embosser around the sides of the cake to create the lines.

13. Place the large closed tip flower nozzle into a piping bag (I used a non-disposable one this time, but disposable bags also work very well). To pipe around the top of the cake, hold the bag vertically over the cake and press down to make a little domed peak. Then release a little pressure as you move the bag to create a little ribbon/leaf effect. Repeat around the cake.

14. To make the roses, again hold the piping nozzle vertically over where you want the centre of the rose to be. Start piping and then pipe in a swirl to the size of the rose. Repeat as desired.

15. Top with mini eggs, or cover the whole of the top of the cake with roses (you could do different colours of buttercream and make a bouquet of roses for example).

16. Enjoy!

Gluten Egg Free Lemon Strawberry Cake with mini eggs

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Monday, 17 April 2017

Polish Babka

Polish fruity babka with lemon icing for Easter

Here's a cake/bread I made for Easter :) Babka is a traditional Polish bread served at Easter time, and there are so many varieties, it was difficult to find a consistent recipe. I finally found one I liked however, and it turned out pretty yummy :) This babka is like a fruity sweet bread, topped with lemon icing. It reminds me a little of hot cross buns in taste and texture, and makes a nice centrepiece to an afternoon tea.
I used a 23cm circular bundt tin, like the one pictured below:


The bread/cake was really easy to prepare, and it requires NO kneading :) Just make sure to give plenty of time for the dough to rise. If you have time, for the best flavour, cover the dough in clingfilm and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, bring the dough to room temperature for around an hour, before baking. As a minimum, leave the dough to prove for 2 hours.

Makes one 23cm cake (easily serves 12)

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 500g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 sachets instant dried yeast (7g)
  • 90g (1/3 cups) granulated sugar
  • 90g (1/3 cup) softened unsalted butter
  • 120ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • 150g (1/2 cup) mixed dried fruits (I used raisins, sultanas and mixed candied peel)
  • 1 lemon, zested finely
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice

For the icing:

  • 175g (2/3 cup) icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • yellow food colouring (I used Wilton concentrated food gel)

Method:

1. In a large mixing bowl, pour in the flour. To opposite sides of the bowl add the yeast and the salt (so that they do not touch). Briefly stir the flour mixture to evenly distribute the salt and yeast.

2. Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter has melted and the milk is bubbling. Set aside to cool to a tepid temperature (when it feels warm to your finger rather than hot).

3. To the flour, add the sugar, lemon zest, eggs, vanilla and other spices. Slowly add the milk/butter and beat with a wooden spoon until a dough is formed (there is no need to knead the dough). 

4. Lightly grease a bundt tin, and tip in the dough (it wants to be about 1/3 full). Cover with cling film, and set aside for at least 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.

5. Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan)/350f/ gas mark 4. Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the bread comes out clean. If the bread browns too quickly, cover with foil to finish baking.

6. To make the icing, sift the sugar into a bowl and add the lemon juice. Stir until all of the sugar has been absorbed - you want the icing to be bright white and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and slowly drop of the spoon.

7. Set aside a few tablespoons of icing, and colour yellow.

8. Once cool, turn the cake out onto the presentation dish. Spread the white icing over the top of the cake, allowing it to slightly drip down the sides of the cake.

9. Pour the yellow icing into a piping bag. Pipe thin yellow lines over the cake. Wait for the icing to set.

10. Enjoy!

This bread is nicest eaten the day it's baked, or it can be frozen before icing.

Polish fruity babka with lemon icing for Easter

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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Ultimate Birthday Cheesecake

stacked kahlua cointreau chocolate cheesecake oreo

stacked kahlua cointreau chocolate cheesecake oreo slice

Hi everyone!! Life has been too painful for the last few weeks in the lead up to the marathon, so I have been lazy with blogging :( But now the marathon is over WOOHOO, and I can get back to writing!

Last week, as well as being the last week before the dreaded M day, it was my partner's 30th birthday. He LOVES cheesecake, and I mean LOVES it, so I thought I'd have a go at making a cheesecake that was a bit more special than usual.

Baked cheesecakes stack surprisingly well, so I decided on making a two layered cheesecake, one half was dark chocolate and kahlua (one of his favourite spirits) and the other was white chocolate and cointreau (because cointreau is amazing). 

I smothered the cheesecake layers with a milk chocolate cream cheese frosting, and patted on crushed oreos for the textured look. Finally I topped the cake off with a chocolate slab, and a white chocolate slab (designed to look like the lego logo, but I don't know how well that came through...)

We love the cheesecake, but I would say it's a great cake for MANY people to enjoy - this could very easily serve and fill 20 people. It's lasting really well though - we've had it in the fridge 6 days so far, and it is still in great condition, even after being cut into.

So if you know someone who likes cheesecake, this really wasn't that hard a recipe, and the taste was worth any effort spent making it :)

Also if you'd like a non-alcoholic version, you can replace the kahlua with espresso coffee, and the cointreau with orange juice.

Serves 20

Ingredients:

For the Kahlua cheesecake:

  • 200g (2 cups) chocolate covered hobnobs, crushed
  • 50g (1/4 cup) butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 225g (1 & 1/2 cups) dark chocolate
  • 400g (2 cups) cream cheese
  • 100g (1/2 cup and 1/2 tbsp) soft brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 300ml (1 & 1/4 cups) double cream
  • 5 tbsp Kahlua (or espresso coffee/strong instant coffee)

For the Cointreau cheesecake:

  • 200g (2 cups) digestives (or you could use more hobnobs), crushed
  • 50g (1/4 cup) butter melted
  • Finely grated zest of one orange
  • 400g (2 cups) cream cheese
  • 450g (3 cups) white chocolate
  • 300ml (1 & 1/4 cups) double cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tbsp Cointreau (or orange juice)

For the frosting:

  • 200g (1 cup) cream cheese
  • 50g (1/3 cup) milk chocolate, melted

To finish:

  • 100g Oreos, crushed (1 cup)
  • 75g (1/2 cup) milk chocolate
  • 75g (1/2 cup) white chocolate
  • pink concentrated gel food colouring (or red if you have it)
  • 4 straws (or cake dowels)
  • 1 digestive biscuit
  • Edible silver food colouring paintbrush/pen (optional)

Method:

For the Kahlua cheesecake:

1. Preheat the oven to 160c (140c fan)/ f/ gas mark 4. Lightly grease the base and sides of a 23cm springform cake tin.

2. Pour the finely crushed hobnobs into a bowl and stir in the cinnamon. Pour over the melted butter, and stir until the biscuit crumbs are starting to stick together. Pour into the prepared tin and use the back of a spoon to press the biscuits on the base and halfway up the sides of the tin. 

3. Bake for 10 minutes, then take out of the oven to cool.

4. Melt the dark chocolate by placing in a microwave on full power for 20 second bursts, stirring well after each addition. Once all of the chocolate has melted set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

5. Beat the cream cheese with the sugar. Once all of the sugar has dissolved, whisk in the eggs one at a time.

6. Add the melted chocolate, double cream and Kahlua, and whisk until smooth.

7. Pour into the prepared cake tin, and bake for around 1 hour, until only the middle of the cheesecake wobbles when the tin is lightly shaken. 

8. Take the cheesecake out of the oven, and run a knife around the cheesecake - this helps to prevent any cracking when the cheesecake cools. Leave to cool to room temperature, then chill for at least 2 hours.

For the Cointreau Cheesecake:

1. Preheat the oven to 160c (140c fan)/ f/ gas mark 4. Lightly grease the base and sides of a 23cm springform cake tin.


2. Pour the finely crushed digestive biscuits into a bowl and add the grated orange zest and melted butter. Stir until the butter has mixed well with the biscuits, then tip into the prepared cake tin. Press the biscuits down into the base and halfway up the sides of the cake tin.

3. Bake the base of the cheesecake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven to cool.

4. Melt the chocolate and double cream in a saucepan on a low heat. Stir the chocolate/cream regularly to be sure that it doesn't overheat. Once all of the chocolate has melted, set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

5. Pour the cream cheese into a medium mixing bowl and whisk in the eggs one at a time. Pour over the white chocolate/cream mixture and cointreau, and whisk until smooth.

6. Pour into the prepared cake tin, and bake for 1 hour until only the middle of the cheesecake moves when the cheesecake is lightly shaken.

7. Take out of the oven and immediately run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to help prevent cracking. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge for at least two hours until chilled.

To assemble:

1. Beat the cream cheese with the melted chocolate until smooth.

2. Take both cheesecakes out of the fridge and remove from their tins. Place the first cheesecake on a cake board (I used the white chocolate cheesecake on the bottom, but either way round will work fine). 

3. Place 4 straws in the bottom cheesecake so that they are the corners of a 5cm square in the middle of the cheesecake. Trim the straws so that they just poke out of the top of the cheesecake - these act as stabilisers for the cake.

4. Place the second cheesecake on top of the first. Spread the chocolate cheese frosting over the top and sides of the cake.

6. Pat the crushed Oreos all over the stacked cheesecake and place in the fridge to set for an hour.

7. Melt 75g milk chocolate in a microwave on high power, for 15 second bursts, stirring well after each burst. Once fully melted leave to cool for a few minutes to thicken slightly.

8. Cover a tray with cling film, and pour on the milk chocolate. Spread the chocolate thinly to the rough shape of a 20cm square. This will be the "plaque" for the cake. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes, until set.

9. Repeat with the white chocolate - I made a much smaller rectangle of this, and coloured half of it pink (by dipping a cocktail stick into the pink food colouring and mixing this into the melted white chocolate). After spreading out the pink chocolate, place the white chocolate in a piping bag. Place the pink chocolate in the freezer for a few minutes until set. Cut the end off the piping bag (cut 2-3mm from the end), and pipe whatever you like onto the pink chocolate. 

10. I used an edible silver glitter pen to mark up the milk chocolate plaque, but to be honest, the white chocolate works better, so you can pipe the remainder of the white chocolate onto the set milk chocolate.

11. Trim the milk and white chocolate slabs to even rectangles, and place on the cake. I used a spare digestive biscuit to prop up the plaque, which my boyfriend liked :) 

12. Enjoy!!!

stacked kahlua cointreau chocolate cheesecake oreo slice


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Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Cake

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Cake Top

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Cake

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Cake 2


Cherry Chocolate Meringue Cake


So it was my boyfriend's sister's birthday recently and I decided to bake her a cake :) The cake itself is my favourite recipe for a brownie-like cake, which is super moist and chocolatey, which amazing crunch from chopped walnuts and chocolate chips. I used it in another of my showstopper bakes - here -, but I'll post the recipe below anyway :)
I filled the cake with a homemade cherry compote, and frosted the cake with a cherry Swiss meringue buttercream. To decorate I made french meringues :D
Elaborate but worth the effort.

Makes one 20cm cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:
  • 250g (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 200g (1 & 1/3 cups) dark chocolate (55% cocoa solids)
  • 300g (1 & 1/2 cups) granulated sugar (or brown sugar for an extra caramel note)
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 100g (2/3 cup) dark chocolate chips
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 200g (1 & 2/3 cups) plain flour
  • 75g (1/2 cup) chopped walnuts, and 1 tbsp for decoration
  • 30g (4 tbsp) cocoa powder
For the Swiss meringue buttercream:
  • 6 egg whites
  • 300g (1 & 2/3 cups) brown sugar
  • 400g (1 & 3/4 cups) unsalted butter, cut into 1-2cm cubes (ROOM TEMPERATURE)
For the French meringue:

  • 75g (3/4 cup) icing sugar
  • 75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 3 egg whites

For the cherry compote:

  • 300g (2 & 1/3 cups) frozen pitted black cherries, defrosted
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

To finish:



Method:

To make the cake layers:

1. Preheat your oven to 180c (160c fan)/ 355F/ gas mark 4 . Grease two 20cm springform or loose bottomed round cake tins, then tip in about 1 tbsp of cocoa powder. Tap the tin to evenly distribute the cocoa.

2. In a saucepan melt together the 200g dark chocolate (broken into chunks), unsalted butter (chopped into chunks), sugar and water. Once all of the butter and chocolate have melted set aside to cool for a few minutes.

3. In a large mixing bowl pour in the chocolate/butter melted mixture. Add the chocolate chips, eggs, flour, chopped nuts and cocoa powder, and beat until smooth.

4. Pour into the prepared cake tins (get them as even as possible), and bake for 18-20 minutes, until the top of the cake feels springy and the top feels crisp. If you shake the tin, there should be a small amount of wobble in the very centre of the cake - this will make the layers moist and delicious.

5. Leave the cakes in their tins to cool for 10 minutes, then remove onto a wire rack to cool completely.

6. Level the top of the cakes using a serrated knife (eat the cut offs if you want a chef's perk!).

To make the cherry compote:

1. Pour the cherries (with any juice that emerged when defrosting), sugar and lemon juice into a saucepan and heat until simmering.

2. Simmer for 5 minutes until the mixture has thickened slightly and the juice has reduced down to a half of it's original volume. Leave to cool.

3. Blend in a food processor and set aside.

To make the buttercream:

1. Thoroughly clean a glass or ceramic bowl, as well as the whisk beaters you will use for the buttercream. The best way to do this is to lightly dampen kitchen towel with lemon/lime juice and wipe this over the inside of your bowl/beaters.

1. Place a few tablespoons of water in a small saucepan, and get a heatable mixing bowl (i.e. not a plastic one!) that can fit on the saucepan without touching the water. Into this bowl add the egg whites and brown sugar.

2. Place the saucepan on a low heat, and place the mixing bowl on top. Use an electric whisk to beat the egg whites/brown sugar, until the mixture reaches 71c/ 160F. This will take about 10 minutes.

3. Remove the bowl from the heat, and tip the egg white/sugar mixture into another large mixing bowl (this will help the meringue to cool a bit faster). 

4. Use an electric whisk to beat the meringue until it is glossy and a stiff peak of meringue forms when the whisk is lifted from the mixture (i.e. a peak falls where the tip stays upright and doesn't fall to either side).

5. Whilst whisking, add the butter chunk by chunk. Don't be tempted to add more than a chunk at a time, as the mixture may curdle. Keep beating, until all of the butter has been added and the buttercream is smooth.

6. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the cherry compote (make sure it's at room temperature), and gently fold in - if you want a ripple effect whisk very briefly. Set aside.

To make the French meringue:

1. Thoroughly clean a glass or ceramic bowl, as well as the whisk beaters you will use for the buttercream. The best way to do this is to lightly dampen kitchen towel with lemon/lime juice and wipe this over the inside of your bowl/beaters.

2. Preheat the oven to 120c (100c fan)/ 250F/ gas mark 1/2. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

3. Mix the icing sugar and caster sugar together briefly.

4. Whisk the egg whites until they are very foamy (like shaving foam), and stand to a peak when the beaters are lifted from the mixture. I find a hand-held electric whisk is the best equipment for this.

5. Whilst whisking, add the sugar mixture a tablespoon at a time, waiting for 5-10 seconds between each addition. Keep whisking until the mixture is white, glossy and stands to a firm peak when the beaters are lifted from the mixture.

6. Divide the mixture into two. Dip a toothpick/skewer into concentrated purple/pink food colouring, and use this to colour one of the two mixtures. Whisk until evenly distributed.

7.  Fit a piping bag with a 1M piping nozzle (a large open star one). Fill one side of the bag with the white meringue, and the other side with the purple and cut the end off the tip of the bag. Holding the bag vertically over a tray, pipe directly downwards then bring the bag quickly upwards to form a peak. This makes meringue kisses. I also played with making other shapes, like letters, hearts, and numbers :)

8.  Bake the meringues in the oven for around 1 hour, or until a meringue can be lifted from the paper and sounds hollow when lightly tapped on the base. Leave in the oven to cool. Carefully lift the meringues off of the paper - they are very fragile as seen by some of my bigger meringues having cracks (they definitely look homemade though!).

To assemble the cake:

1. Place a spoonful of the buttercream onto the surface of a cake tin/presentation dish. Place the first cake layer onto this buttercream - this prevents the cake from slipping.

2. Spoon a quarter of the buttercream into a piping bag, and cut the end off the bag 1cm from the end.

3. Pipe around the edge of the cake layer. Fill the middle with any reserved cherry conserve, and evenly spread (don't blend with the outer ring of buttercream.

4. Top with the buttercream left in the piping bag, piping concentric circles over the jam. Lightly smooth over, and top with the other layer of cake.

5. Press the cake down lightly. Place a large spoonful of buttercream onto the top of the cake, and use a palette knife to smooth the buttercream over the top and then sides of the cake. This doesn't need to be neat or thick - it acts as a "crumb coat" so that no crumbs will show through when you spread your final layer of buttercream on.

6. Once the cake is covered in the thin "crumb layer" of buttercream, place in the fridge for 15-20 minutes, until the buttercream is no longer sticky to the touch.

7. Meanwhile, chop the chocolate finely and melt in a microwave using full power bursts of 20-30 seconds, stirring well between  each addition. Once melted, pour into a piping bag and cut 2mm off the tip.

8. Pipe your desired shapes onto a sheet of greaseproof paper or cling-film. Chill for 15-20 minutes, until set.

9. Once the crumb coat has set, take the cake out of the fridge, and cover the tops and sides of the cake with the remainder of the buttercream. The smoothest way to do this is to use a long palette knife or a metal dough scraper. Once the buttercream is on the top and sides of the cake, dip the knife/scraper in hot water and wipe clean. Then, whilst still warm, run the knife along the side of the cake (holding it vertically). Repeat with the top of the cake (this time holding the knife horizontally).

10. I had some buttercream left so filled a piping bag (fitted with the 1M nozzle used earlier), and piped "kisses" around the top of the cake (in the same way the French meringue was piped).

11. Top the cake with the French meringue, tuxedo strawberries, reserved chopped walnuts and chocolate decorations.

12. Enjoy!

Cherry Chocolate Meringue Cake

Casa Costello
Hijacked By Twins
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Monday, 6 March 2017

Vegan Mango Cupcakes

Vegan Mango Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream

Here's a slightly different cupcake I made a few weeks ago, inspired by the Indian Mango Lassi drink - a mango cupcake filled with mango puree and frosted with a lime buttercream, and it's all suitable for vegans :O The cupcake itself is egg-free, which I think makes the mango flavour really stand out. If you're not vegan, you could use butter in the buttercream, but a dairy free butter works really well too.

I used these cool black lace wraps for the cupcakes, which I found in my local home & bargains. Normal cupcake cases would work well too :)
Finally I used a Wilton 2D piping nozzle for the buttercream, which I've used before in my vanilla rose cupcakes :) I've been having a play with some other piping techniques, which I'll hopefully be able to share with you soon (some of them look SO cool).
You could also try two-toning the buttercream by painting a line of food colouring up along the inside of the piping bag. This gives a very pretty result :)

I found these cupcakes were perfect the day AFTER baking, so you could always bake the cupcakes one day and frost the next. I baked and frosted the same day and served them the day after, and they went down very well :D

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 180g (1 & 1/2 cups) self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 375g (1 & 1/2 cups) mango puree*
  • 75g (1/3 cup) vegetable oil
  • 125g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the lime buttercream:

  • 150g (2/3 cup) block of margarine (the Stork pastry block of margarine works best), softened
  • 300g (3 cups) icing sugar, sieved
  • 1-2 tbsp lime juice

To finish:

  • Gold shimmer spray
  • 50g mango puree

* If you can't find a can of mango puree, most big supermarkets (in the UK at least) sell frozen mango chunks. If you defrost and blitz these, they'll work just as well (just be sure to blend them until smooth).

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 170c (160c fan)/340f/gas mark 3. Line 12 cupcake wells with cupcake cases/wraps.

2. Pour all of the ingredients for the cupcakes into a large mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.

3. Use an ice cream scoop to evenly distribute the batter between the cupcake cases.

4. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the cakes feel springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tins.

5. Use a teaspoon to dig into the centre of the cupcake, removing enough cupcake to go halfway down the cupcake.

6. Add a teaspoon of mango puree to the cavity of each cupcake.

7. Make the buttercream. Beat the margarine until really soft and spreadable.

8. Add half of the icing sugar and lime juice, and use a wooden spoon to beat the sugar into the butter.

9. Once all of the sugar has been incorporated add the other half of the icing sugar and keep beating until smooth.

10. Place a 2D nozzle into a piping bag and fill with the buttercream.

11. Cut the end off of the nozzle so that the tip of the nozzle has fully emerged from the bag.

12. Starting in the centre of the cupcake, pipe one continuous swirl (like a snail shell?). Repeat for all of the cupcakes.

13. Spray with the gold shimmer if you like and enjoy!

Vegan Mango Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.comDiary of an imperfect mumHijacked By Twins
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Thursday, 2 March 2017

Super Simple Sausage Rolls

Sausage rolls


Sausage rolls as a kite



Hi guys!

Wow this week's been busy, and I'm not even sure what I've done :-/ Apart from having time off work for a swollen eye... that's pretty much healed now though, so I thought I'd post a super simple recipe for sausage rolls. They're great to keep in the fridge for a family friendly snack, or made a big roll and have it for dinner! I've tried loads of varieties of shapes and these are just a snapshot of what you can do with the pastry.

If you want to make your own puff pastry, I have a great recipe for it here. However, for a quick fuss-free fix, store-bought puff pastry will work brilliantly.
For these sausage rolls, I used good quality store bought sausages, which I then added dill too, which is my boyfriend's all time favourite herb. I've also tried cubes of apple, which is pretty wonderful :) 
Makes one large roll (with spare pastry) (or around 16 smaller ones, or 8 kite like pastries).

Ingredients:
  • One roll of puff pastry (375g)
  • 400g sausages (around 8 medium)
  • Handful of dill, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Other spices and herbs as you like!
  • Chopped apple (optional)
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 200c (180c fan)/ 400f/ gas mark 6. Line the base of a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

2. Roll out your homemade puff pastry/store bought pastry block to about 2-3mm thickness (around 30x20cm in size), or roll your ready-rolled pastry slightly to get it to this width. 

3. If making the roll (or mini rolls), trim off one third of pastry length - this isn't needed. You can use the excess to make mini sausage rolls, or simply slice them and grate over cheese and/or sprinkle over some paprika :) Place the puff pastry in the fridge to stay firm whilst you prepare the filling.
If making square kites, cut the pastry into 8 evenly sized rectangles and place in the fridge to stay firm until needed.

4. Take the sausages out of their skins into a medium sized bowl. Add the seasoning, herbs and apples (if using). Use a fork to evenly distribute the flavourings throughout the sausage meat.

5. Take the pastry out of the fridge. 

If making mini sausage rolls:
Place the sausage meat evenly along the middle and across the length of the long rectangle of pastry. Dap the long edge with a little water, then bring both sides up to meet each other and stick. Cut 1cm slices of the sausage roll off and place on the prepared baking tray.

If making the plaited roll:
Place the sausage meat evenly along the middle and across the length of the long rectangle of pastry. 
To the right and left of the sausage meat, slice into the puff pastry horizontally, and cut slits about 1cm apart.
Puff pastry sliced to plait
My boyfriend helpfully showing the cutting technique minus the sausage filling!
Forming the sausage plait
Bring the strips of the pastry over the sausage meat, forming a kind of plait.

Finished uncooked sausage plait


If making the kites:
Place large spoonfuls of sausage meat on the centre of each square, making sure their is a 1.5cm gap between the edge of the pastry and the meat.
At each corner of the square, slice a diagonal line towards the sausage meat, but don't touch the meat!
Starting at the top right corner slit, pick up the pastry to the right of the slit and press it on the centre of the sausage meat.
Repeat with each corner (each time picking up the pastry to the right of the cut).

6. Brush each sausage pastry with the beaten egg. 

7. Bake the mini sausage rolls for 20 - 25 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch.
Bake the sausage kites for 25-30 minutes.
Bake the large sausage roll for 35-40 minutes, keeping an eye at the end to make sure that the top doesn't become overly brown whilst the base is still cooking. If it does seem to be browning a lot, cover with foil until the base is dry to the touch.

8. Leave to cool. Enjoy warm or cold (they'll keep for 4-5 days in an airtight container in a fridge, or if the pastry/sausages haven't previously been frozen, they can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months).

Sausage rolls and plait


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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Blue Velvet Cake


Blue Velvet Cake with Blue Sugar and Cream Cheese frosting

Blue Velvet Cake with Blue Sugar and Cream Cheese frosting Slice

This cake sounds odd but tastes amazing, and is a nice spin on the classic red velvet cake. To put this into perspective, I made this cake for someone who loved the Winnie the Pooh character Eeyore. I've wanted to find a good red velvet recipe for a while, and changing the colour of a cake is pretty simple when food colouring is the source of the food.

I covered and filled the cake with a simple cream cheese icing, then made my own blue sugar crystals to finish.

The cake went down really well, and stayed moist for days afterwards! The cake was finished off today but had lasted nearly a week in an airtight container.

Also, there's still loads of time if anyone would like to donate to the amazing Christie's charity - they have one of the largest cancer centres in Europe and have saved so many lives. I'm running a marathon in April, and would love to raise as much money as possible for them - my justgiving page is here.

Makes one 23cm cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 110g (1/2 cup) softened butter or margarine
  • 250g (1 & 1/4 cups) granulated or caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225ml (1 cup) natural yoghurt or buttermilk
  • 2 tsp blue food colouring (I used a concentrated gel)
  • 280g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp white vinegar


For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 110g (1/2 cup) softened butter
  • 225g (1 cup) cream cheese
  • 480g (4 cups) icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


For the blue crystals:

  • 100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 35ml (1/4 cup) water
  • toothpick dipped in concentrated blue food colouring


Method:

1. Grease the base and sides of two 23cm springform circular cake tins. Line the bases with baking parchment.

2. Preheat your oven to 180c (160c fan)/355f/ gas mark 4.

3. Cream the butter or margarine against the sides of a bowl until it is really soft and spreadable. Add the sugar and cream together until light and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs, vanilla, food colouring and yoghurt/buttermilk and one tablespoon of the plain flour, and whisk until smooth.

5. Sift in the remaining plain flour, cocoa powder and salt. Use a large spoon to fold the flour/cocoa/salt into the cake mixture, until no flour speckles can be seen.

6. In a small bowl whisk together the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Immediately pour into the cake batter and fold in.

7. Evenly divide the batter between the two cake tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is springy and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins.

8. To make the frosting, cream the butter against the side of the bowl until it is very soft and spreadable.

9. Add the cream cheese and beat with the butter until smooth. Pour in the vanilla extract and half of the icing sugar, and beat until all of the sugar has been combined. Add the other half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth.

IF you have lumps of butter in your icing, don't stress! I've had this problem before, and have found an easy fix. Use a hand blender to blitz the frosting - it will go lovely and smooth, and didn't lose firmness :)
Place in the fridge until ready to use.

10. Grease and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

11. Make the blue sugar crystals by pouring the sugar and water into a medium saucepan. Place on a low heat, and heat until all of the sugar has dissolved.

12. Turn the heat up to medium, and heat (WITHOUT STIRRING). It will bubble up pretty ferociously, and after about 5 minutes, the bubbles will settle down to a nice rumble - when it gets to this stage keep a close eye on it. At that point, swirl the pan every minute or so.

12. Once the colour turns a golden colour (on a sugar thermometer it will read 149 - 154c/300-310f), dip the food coloured toothpick into the sugar. Swirl until the sugar has been evenly coloured, then pour onto the lined baking tray. Leave to set for around 10 minutes, until cold. If you want to make shards rather than small crystals, spread the blue caramel around the tray so that it is around 2mm thick.

13. Break into shards. Leave them like this if you like, or crush the sugar using a rolling pin or high powered food processor.

14. To assemble the cake, remove both cakes from the tins, and use a serrated knife to level the top of the cakes off (effectively removing the dome formed on top of the cake).

15. Place a small amount of icing on the middle of the cake board/serving tray, and top with the first cake layer. This acts like glue so that the cake won't slip!

16. Place around a third of the icing on top of the first cake layer, and smooth over the top. Top with the other cake layer.

17. Spread a small amount of the icing around the sides and top of the cake using a palette knife. This doesn't need to look neat - it acts as a crumb coat, meaning that when you put the final layer of icing on, you won't see any blue crumbs in the final finish.
Place the cake in the fridge for 10-15 minutes for the icing to become less sticky.

18. Place a large spoonful of icing on the top of the cake, and use a palette knife to evenly smooth over the cake top. Then add a big spoonful of icing on the side of the cake, and smooth this around the sides. Once the sides of the cake have been covered, dip the palette knife in hot water, dry it, then smooth around the cake. This will give the neatest finish.

19. Place the sugar crystals around the base of the cake, or where wished. This cake was made for my sister Gwyneth, so I did a big G on the middle of the cake :)

20. Place in the fridge to set for around half an hour. I had mine in a cake box overnight (so easily over 12 hours) and the icing didn't melt.

21. Enjoy!


Blue Velvet Cake with Blue Sugar and Cream Cheese frosting


Blue Velvet Cake with Blue Sugar and Cream Cheese frosting Slice

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