Saturday, 21 October 2017

GBBO 2017 Week 4 - Stroopwafels




On Week 4 of GBBO, the bakers were challenged with baking stroopwafels - a kind of wafer filled with a deep caramel sauce (they sell them in Starbucks). I've wanted to make these for years, ever since my brother brought me some back from the Netherlands. I had to buy a waffle pan, which was why I didn't make these straight after the show. The one I bought, in case you are interested, is from Lakeland in the UK.

The Waffle maker
When I read Prue's recipe, I was a bit unhappy with her term "pancake syrup", as I had no idea what that was! Therefore I did some digging and read more about the traditional stroopwafel. Although the caramel is a secret recipe, they do say that black treacle is a prime ingredient. Therefore I used this in place of the syrup, and the result was heavenly. If you love parkin or treacle toffee, you will love this caramel.

However, if you want to be more like the Starbucks variety, use golden syrup in place of the treacle.
Unlike when the bakers made this caramel, my caramel didn't turn grainy, which I think was due to using treacle (and golden syrup should have a similar effect to the treacle as well).

These are beautiful, but you will get very warm making them, as you need to hold the lid down. You also need to work quickly when slicing and filling the biscuit/wafer, as it gets hard quickly. Don't worry if you get some leakage, it will still taste fabulous!

Makes 12

Ingredients:

For the dough:
  • 300g (2 & 2/5 cup) plain flour
  • 65g (1/3 cup)unsalted butter
  • 5g (1 tsp) dried fast action yeast
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 65g (1/4 cup & 1 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 65ml (1/4 cup) warm water
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • oil, for greasing (I used a spray bottle)

For the caramel:
  • 200g (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) soft light brown sugar
  • 100g (2/5 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 5 tbsp black treacle or golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Method:

1. Make the dough, by pouring the flour into a large bowl. Chop the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl, and the cinnamon, salt and sugar to the other side and briefly mix to distribute.

2. Add the egg and slowly pour in the warm water, and use your hands to bring the dough together (you may not need all of the water). Knead lightly for 1 -2 minutes, until it forms a ball.

3. Place the dough in a bowl, cover and and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes.

4. To make the caramel, melt the sugar and the butter together in a saucepan over a very low heat, stirring often, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cinnamon and treacle and continue to heat and stir until the caramel reduces and becomes sticky enough to be able to spread (don't touch it though as it will be incredibly hot!) Stir in the vanilla extract, then keep warm. If the caramel becomes too cold, simply heat gently to loosen it up and become spreadable again.

5. Weigh out 40g of the dough and roll into a ball. Repeat with the remaining dough (this will make 12 stroopwafels). each. Cover with a damp cloth to prevent them drying out.

6. Heat the wafer/waffle cone machine. Grease the top and bottom plate with a little oil (having oil in a spray bottle makes this very easy). Place one dough ball in the middle of the pan, then set a timer for around 80-90 seconds. Press down the top lid, and bake for 80-90 seconds. Remove from the machine. You want the stroopwafel to be a light golden all over. If it is too brown, for the next biscuit, cook it for 10 seconds less. If too light, cook for 10 seconds more (this is very dependent on your machine, so requires optimization).  

7. Carefully remove the biscuit from the machine (I found this easiest using a spatula). Place on a chopping board, and while the waffle is hot, place a 10cm metal cutter on the dough. Cut around the cutter (or if unlike me, you have a sharp cutter, press down on the cutter to get a very even 10cm circle). Slice horizontally in two and split apart.

8. Spoon over a generous tablespoon of the caramel on the bottom half of the stroopwafel, then top with the top half. Gently press down so that the caramel reaches the edges of the waffle. Place on a wire rack to cool and continue with the rest of the dough.

9. Once cool, Smakelijk!


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GBBO 2017 Week 6 - Blue Cheese, Squash and Spinach Pie

GBBO Blue Cheese, Squash and Spinach Pie

GBBO Blue Cheese, Squash and Spinach Pie Whole

My boyfriend was in charge of making this pie following pastry week on the GBBO. This is his post, so I hope you enjoy it :)

This is based off Sophies four seasons pies from GBBO 2017 but makes one large pie instead of 4 smaller ones. This pie is not quick as a few of the ingredients need to be made separately before being combined. If you are looking for a quick and easy recipe you might prefer this : Game Pie, or Pork Pies with Chicken & Apricot.

Ingredients:

For the Pastry:
500g plain flour
quarter teaspoon of salt
250g unsalted butter
3 medium egg yolks
120ml cold water
1 medium egg for glazing

For the Filling:
1 medium butternut squash (approx 600-800g once peeled, de-seeded and cubed)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons honey
10g salted butter
175g creamy blue cheese (e.g. St Agur, Castello Danish blue)
250-300g baby spinach leaves
200g Buckwheat
2 table spoons crème fraiche
salt and pepper

Making the Pastry

1. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, cut the butter into cubes and add it to the bowl. Work the mixture with your hands until the big chunks of butter are gone and the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Add the Egg yolks then trickle in the water whilst mixing. The dough should become soft but not sticky.
3. Flatten the dough into a fat circle, wrap in clingflim and put into the fridge for 15 minutes.
4. Remove the dough from the fridge, cut in half and return half to the fridge to make the top of the pie later.
5. Roll out the dough into a circular shape and place it into the pie dish. The dough should just come over the sides.
6. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (fan oven), whilst it is heating up cut a disc of grease proof paper and place it into the pie dish. Add some baking beans to keep the paper in place.
7. Once the oven has reached the correct temperature place the pie onto the middle shelf and leave to bake for 10 minutes.
8. Remove the dish from the oven. Remove the beans and paper. Brush the inside of the pastry with a beaten egg and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
9. Take the pie out of the oven and set to one side to cool. (Leave the oven turned on for the next part)

Making the Filling

1. Place the Buckwheat in a  sieve and run under cold water until the water runs clear instead of white.
2. Put the Buckwheat into a pan of water and bring to the boil, let it simmer for 30 minutes (whilst you prepare the rest of the filling.)
3. Peel the Butternut squash and cut into small cubes. 
4. Place the cubes onto a baking tray and add the oil, cumin, rosemary and honey evenly across the tray.
5. The oven should still be turned on at 200 degrees. Place the tray of butternut squash inside for 20-25 minutes. The cubes should be mostly golden brown.
6. Remove the tray and empty into a colander to allow the liquid to drain away. Once drained move into a bowl. Turn the oven down to 160 degrees (fan oven)
7. Melt the butter into a pan and add the spinach. Stir gently until the spinach has wilted. 
8. Remove the spinach and put it into the colander to allow to drain. Once it has cooled squeeze out any excess water using your hands. The spinach will shrink a lot after doing so.
9. Crumble the blue cheese into the bowl with the butternut squash. Add the crème fraiche and then the spinach. Add the buckwheat and mix everything. Finally use some salt and pepper to taste. (If you have used a salty blue cheese you may only need to add pepper)
10. Place the mixture into the pie dish and spread it evenly.
11. Remove the remaining pastry from the fridge. Roll out into a very thin square and cut into ribbons
12. Use the Ribbons to create a pattern on top of the pie. A traditional ribbon weave will work or you can use your imagination.
13. Glaze the top of the pie using egg.
14. Bake the pie for about 25 minutes (until golden brown)

GBBO Blue Cheese, Squash and Spinach Pie

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Sunday, 15 October 2017

GBBO 2017 Week 7 - Pizza Margherita

GBBO Pizza

Week 7 on the 2017 series of GBBO was Italian-themed. I really enjoyed watching the bakers make Cannoli, which look as though they would taste amazing - deep fried pastry cylinders usually filled with a ricotta-based filling - the textures sound divine! This was the signature challenge, and as much as I wanted to try them this week I didn't have the specialist equipment - cannoli moulds or a pasta roller. Sadly, not having a pasta machine also meant that I couldn't immediately make the showstopper challenge - Sfogliatelle, which are beautiful layers of pastry layered to look like "lobster tails", filled with a sweet semolina filling. I've devoured these at Christmas markets before, and have tried to make them previously (without a pasta machine)...and they didn't turn out too well. I will be making these in the future - I just may need to put a pasta machine on my Christmas list :)

GBBO Cannoli
Sophie's Cannoli

GBBO Sfogliatelle
Steven's Sfogliatelle

So, this week I made the technical challenge, which was set by Prue and was the classic pizza Margherita. I had a few issues with her recipe (sorry Prue).

Firstly, she uses fresh yeast. As a non-professional baker, I find this really hard to get hold of (without having to persuade bakers at supermarkets to give me some...). She also used a pizza stone and a peel, neither of which I own. Therefore I adapted the recipe - using firstly Pauls' pizza dough recipe, and then I baked it in a way most people would be capable of - on a pizza tray on top of a preheated baking tray (see the recipe below).

I also added sliced meat to the pizza, as my boyfriend demanded. Leave this off to make a proper Margherita, but it did add a nice taste to the pizza.

The dough turned out wonderfully and was really easy to stretch out without using a rolling pin. The pizza itself tasted great too - it wasn't overly fatty or overladen with toppings. Simple but delicious.

Serves 2-4 (depending on whether you're having anything else with the meal)

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 250g (2 tsp) strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 5g (1 tsp) salt
  • 5g (1 tsp) fast-action dried yeast
  • 20ml (1 tbsp and 1 tsp) olive oil, plus extra for greasing your hands/work surface
  • 160ml (2/3 cup) water
  • Fine semolina, for dusting

For the tomato base:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can (400g) peeled plum tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped as fine as possible
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • pinch of salt

For the topping:

  • 125g (around 1 cup) mozzarella
  • 50g sliced meat (optional)

Method:

1. Prepare the dough. Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl. Pour the olive oil and salt into the bowl. Lightly grease your hands, then bring the dough together.

2. Once it forms a rough ball, tip out onto a lightly greased surface and knead for 5-7 minutes. If it gets really sticky, add some more olive oil. Keep kneading until the dough looks smooth, and springs back when lightly pressed.

3. Place in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with clingfilm then leave until it has at least doubled in size - this will take around an hour.

4. Meanwhile, make your tomato base. Pour the olive oil into a saucepan, and fry the garlic on a low heat until softened (but hasn't browned).

5. Tip in the peeled plum tomatoes, sugar and lemon juice. Heat gently, pressing the plum tomatoes against the pan to break them down. Leave to simmer for 5 minutes until the tomato juice has reduced by about half. Set aside to cool.

6. Once the dough has risen, preheat your oven to 240c (220c fan)/464F/ gas mark 9. Turn a baking tray upside down, and place in your oven to heat up. Dust a 35cm (14 inch) pizza tray with semolina and flour.

7. Grease your work surface a little oil. Tip the dough onto the surface and press down to a rough circle. Pick the dough up, and start stretching the dough outwards - you can try spinning the dough at this stage (I didn't dare!).

8. Once the dough is slightly bigger than the size of the pizza tray, transfer to the tray. Curl the excess dough over to create a neat circular pizza (this also gives a nice crust to hold onto).

9. Spread over the tomato base. Slice the mozzarella into 6-8 slices and place well spaced apart onto the pizza. Place the meat slices as you like.

9. Bake the pizza by placing the pizza tray on the preheated baking tray, for 12-15 minutes, until the sides are well browned, and the mozzarella is becoming slightly brown.

10. Slice.

11. Buon appetito!

GBBO Pizza


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Monday, 9 October 2017

GBBO 2017 Week 6 - Portuguese Custard Tarts

Portuguese Custard Tarts


Mmmmm pastry - was my thought coming into pastry week. I always love seeing what the bakes come up with, and as two of the challenges were savoury pies, my boyfriend decided to have a go at a shortcrust pie for the first time. His recipe/experience will be up soon. In the meantime, I had a go at the technical challenge, Portuguese custard tarts (known as Pasteis de Nata). I've made them once before, years ago, and I remember them being delicious.

This recipe also intrigued me, because a) it used rough puff pastry, which I've had little success with in the past (I've had more success using proper puff pastry to be honest), and b) the custard recipe is really odd!

I really took my time with the bake, and I'd recommend you do that too - the pastry needs to be really cold to work with, and if you're not in a hurry, those extra few minutes will save you worry when rolling out! It was fairly straight forward though :) The only thing I'd recommend is when you press the pastry into the muffin tins, get the pastry as thin as possible (a few of mine were a little thick on the bottom - still tasted great though!).

The recipe worked really well, and have been really well received. The custard tastes amazing with the hint of lemon and cinnamon, and the pastry came out a treat! I even got the swirl Prue and Paul were talking about:

Underside Portuguese Custard Tarts
If you turn the tarts over, you should see a swirl
similar to this
Makes 12

Ingredients:

For the rough puff pastry:

  • 150g (1 & 1/4 cups) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • A pinch of salt
  • 25g (2 tbsp) butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 4 - 6 tbsp chilled water
  • 60g (1/4 cup) butter, frozen as a block, then grated coarsely

For the custard filling:

  • 375ml (1 & 3/5 cups) whole milk
  • 45g (3 tbsp) plain flour
  • 2 strips of lemon peel (I used a standard peeler to do this)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 185ml (4/5 cup) water
  • 375g (1 & 2/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 7 egg yolks

Method:


1. Make the puff pastry. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt. Rub in the chilled butter using your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Gradually add the water, a tablespoon at a time, until it forms a dough.

2. Spread a piece of clingfilm over your surface, and place your pastry dough on top. Cover with another piece of clingfilm. Roll the dough into a rough rectangle. Grate half of the frozen butter over the bottom two thirds of the dough. Fold down the top third and fold up the bottom third (as if you are making a leaflet).

3. Turn the folded dough 90 degrees, and roll it out into a rectangle again. Add the other half of the grated frozen butter. Fold down the top third and fold up the bottom third as previously. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

4. Roll and fold the pastry as in step 3. Turn the dough 90 degrees, roll out to a rectangle again, then fold the top third down and the bottom third up. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

5. Roll the pastry between two sheets of clingfilm to a rectangle measuring 20cm x 30cm (8 x 12 inches). Roll the pastry tightly, from the short side, into a log and cut the log into 12 evenly sized rounds.

6. Pick up one of the pastry pieces. Place one disc into the cup of a 12 hole muffin tin, so that the swirl is facing upwards. swirl-side up. Carefully press the pastry up the sides with your fingers,  working from the centre out, until the pastry just pokes over the top (try to get the pastry as thin as possible, and be very careful - the pastry can rip!). Repeat with the remaining pieces of pastry. Chill for at least 20 minutes.

7. Whilst the dough is chilling, make the custard. Pour the milk into a pan. Sieve over the flour and whisk in. Add the strips of lemon zest and the cinnamon stick, then bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking continuously (so you don't get lumps). Simmer for 2-3 minutes until thick.  Remove from the heat.

8.  Pour the caster sugar into a small pan with the water. Place the pan on a low heat, and slowly melt the sugar. Once you can no longer see any sugar crystals, turn up the heat and boil until the syrup reaches around 112C/234F. Whilst whisking the milk mixture, carefully pour over the boiling syrup.

9. Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and pour over the milk mixture, whisking continuously until combined. Place a sheet of clingfilm over the surface and leave to cool. Once cool, remove the strips of lemon zest and cinnamon stick.

10. Preheat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/ 464F/Gas mark 9. Pour the custard into the pastry cases to around 1cm below the top. Bake in the hot oven for around 12 minutes. At this point, turn the tin around (to get an even bake) and bake for a further 3-5 minutes, until the pastry is golden and crisp and the custard is bubbling with tiny brown spots.

11. Remove from the oven, cool in the tin for around 5 minutes, then gently turn out the tarts and leave to cool on a wire rack.

12. Apreciar!

Portuguese Custard Tarts


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Monday, 2 October 2017

GBBO 2017 Week 5 - Berry Lime Trifle

Lime and Mixed Berry Trifle


The showstopper on Week 5 of the Great British Bake Off (Dessert week) were the British classic, Trifle, but they had to not just be slopped in a glass. These had to be shaped like a terrine, that could be sliced, and needed to look as pretty on the inside as it did on the outside. Sophie made an impressive trifle with raspberries and yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit), which got her star baker. I couldn't find yuzu anywhere (unsurprising), so decided to switch it for lime juice. I also used a mixture of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries in the jelly and mousse layer, which gave the trifle a lovely sweet but sharpness.

Trifles traditionally are layers of lady finger sponge, custard, jam and cream, but Sophie added many more elements to the dish, with a white chocolate bavarois (basically a custard with folded in cream) and raspberry mousse. Although I couldn't see the different layers of white chocolate bavarois and lime custard, the flavours are really distinct and each layer tasted brilliant.

It's honestly not difficult to make! Don't rush the steps, and make sure each layer has set before adding the next, but other than that, the hardest bit to make is the sponge. You could always buy some sponge fingers if you want an oven-free bake (it will still taste amazing!).

Finally, I halved Sophie's recipe, simply because we had no one to share the trifle is, so we're currently eating slices of it after dinner. This recipe would still serve 6 people easily.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the lady-finger sponge layer:
  • 2 medium eggs, separated
  • Good pinch of salt
  • 65g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 55g (1/2 cup) plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (optional)

For the mixed berry jelly:
  • 2 leaves gelatine 
  • 55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 100g (7/8 cup) mixed berries (I used a mixture of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries)
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) water

For the lime custard:
  • About 1 &1/4 leaves gelatine
  • 90ml (2/5 cup) double cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 medium egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 35g (2 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 50ml (1/5 cup) lime juice

For the white chocolate bavarois:
  • 1 leaf gelatine
  • 60g (1/3 cup) good-quality white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) whole milk
  • 1 medium egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 90ml double cream, chilled

For the raspberry mousse:
  • 3 quarters of 1 leaf of gelatine 
  • 75g (5/8 cup) mixed berries (I used a mixture of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries)
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) double cream, well chilled

Method:

1. Prepare the 2 lb (approximately 23 x 13 x 7cm) loaf tin: press the cling film into the tin so it lines the base and sides, and leave the excess hanging over the edge. Chill until needed.

2. To make the sponge: heat the oven to 190°C(170°C fan)/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Grease and line the base of a 20 x 30cm swiss roll tin with baking parchment.

3. Put the egg yolk into a mixing bowl, or the bowl of a food mixer, and the white into another mixing bowl. Whisk the white with the salt using an electric whisk or food mixer – until the whisk leaves soft peaks when lifted – then whisk in half the sugar. Set the bowl aside.

4. Add the remaining sugar and the vanilla to the egg yolks and whisk (there's no need to wash the whisk) until very pale, thick and the whisk leaves a distinct ribbon-like trail when lifted from the bowl. Gently fold the white into the egg yolk using a large metal spoon or plastic spatula. Sift the flour into the bowl and carefully fold in until thoroughly combined.

5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared Swiss roll tin and spread evenly so the corners are well filled. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden and springy when gently pressed with a finger. Run a round-bladed knife around the inside of the tin to loosen the sponge. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, brush with lime juice (if using) and leave to cool completely. If not using immediately, wrap in baking paper and store in an airtight container.

4. To make the mixed berry jelly layer, put the gelatine into a bowl of cold water and leave to soak and soften for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, put the sugar and 100g of the mixed berries into a pan with the water and cook gently, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixed berries are very soft and pulpy. Remove the pan from the heat. Remove the gelatine from the water, squeeze out the excess water and whisk into the hot berry mixture until completely dissolved. Strain into a jug, pressing down on the fruit to give a smooth, pulpy liquid (discard the seeds). Pour into the chilled tin. Return the tin to the fridge and chill until set.

5. To make the lime custard, soak the gelatine in cold water as before. Pour the cream into a medium-sized pan and heat until almost boiling. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk the vanilla, egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl until pale and creamy. Gradually whisk in the hot cream in a slow, steady stream.

6. When thoroughly combined, tip the mixture back into the pan and stir over a low heat until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon – don’t let the mixture come anywhere near boiling or it will curdle. Remove the pan from the heat, squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine and stir into the custard until completely dissolved. Stir in the lime juice then strain into a jug and leave to cool, stirring frequently. Once the custard is cold (but still fluid) carefully pour it evenly over the jelly layer in the tin and chill until set.

7. To make the white chocolate bavarois, soak the gelatine in cold water as previously. Chop the white chocolate finely and pour into a heatproof bowl. Heat the milk in a saucepan until almost boiling then remove the pan from the heat. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla paste until pale and thick, then gradually whisk in the hot milk. When thoroughly combined, tip the mixture back into the pan and stir over a low heat until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon.

8. Remove the pan from the heat stir in the squeezed-out gelatine. Strain the custard over the chopped chocolate, leave for a minute, then stir until melted and smooth. Leave to cool, stirring frequently. Whip the cream until soft peaks form then carefully fold into the cold (but still fluid) custard. Pour half the chocolate mixture into the tin, on top of the custard, and chill until set. Keep the remaining mixture on the worktop and stir frequently to prevent it from setting.

9. While the bavarois layer sets, make the raspberry mousse layer. Soak the gelatine as in the other sections of the bake. Puree the mixed berries by whizzing them in a food processor, then press through a sieve to discard the seeds.

10. Pour half the puree into a pan, add the sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and add the squeezed-out gelatine. When dissolved, stir in the remaining puree. Leave until completely cold, stirring frequently.

11. Whip the cream until at soft-peak stage then fold in the cold puree. Pour into the tin to make an even layer. Place in the freezer for a few minutes to set the raspberry mousse quickly.

12. Spoon the rest of the chocolate bavarois on top of the (set) raspberry mousse layer and spread evenly.

13. Cut the sponge into a rectangle to fit on top of the layers in the tin and gently press it in place. Tightly wrap the terrine using the cling film hanging over the edges of the tin and chill until set and firm. I left mine for 4 hours and it was set perfectly, but you could easily just make it the night before you need it.

14.  To finish, unwrap the terrine and turn it out onto a serving platter.  If not serving immediately, return to the fridge.

15. Enjoy!

Lime and Mixed Berry Trifle

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GBBO 2017 Week 5 - Peanut Butter Chocolate Fondants

Peanut Butter Chocolate Fondants

Peanut Butter Chocolate Fondants

The technical challenge of dessert week on the Great British Bake Off was to bake perfect melt-in-the-middle Peanut Butter Chocolate Fondants. Fondants are notoriously difficult to bake as you have a tiny window of time when they go from being uncooked cake batter, to the perfect goo, to a solid chocolate cake I don't have pudding basins, which were used in the tent, so used ramekins instead.

These are far cheaper, and can be used for serving condiments as well as for baking souffles etc. (I.E. they are a lot more useful). My recipe makes two fondants, so perfect for a dinner date. However, you can easily scale up the recipe if you're having lots of guests over.

They can be prepared the day before you need them - after making the batter and dividing between the ramekins/moulds, cover them in clingfilm and chill until you need them. Just add a minute to the baking time to compensate for the starting temperature when they go in the oven.

Makes 2

Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 40g (1/4 cup) dark chocolate 70% cocoa solids
  • 40g (3 tbsp) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 medium eggs
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • 30g (2 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 2 heaped tsp smooth peanut butter

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 200°C(180°C fan)/392°F/Gas Mark 6. Grease two individual pudding moulds or ramekins with butter and dust the insides with cocoa powder. Place in the fridge whilst you prepare the filling.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.

3. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and caster sugar together in a large bowl using an electric whisk, until thick and mousse like (and when you lift the whisk from the mixture, a ribbon of mixture lies on top of the mixture and is visible for a few seconds).

4. Carefully fold the cooled melted chocolate and butter into the egg and sugar mixture. Finally sieve the flour over the top and fold in, taking care not to knock the air out of the mixture.

5. Divide two thirds of the mixture equally between the prepared moulds (it will only fill them about halfway). Spoon a heaped teaspoon of peanut butter into the middle of each mould and spoon over the remaining chocolate mixture. If not using immediately, cover in cling film and chill until needed. Add an extra minute to the baking time if you chill the fondants prior to cooking.

6. Place the puddings on a baking tray and bake for 8-12 minutes, until the puddings are risen but not cracked. They should still have a slight wobble.

7. Turn out the puddings and serve. You could make this extra delicious by serving with some vanilla ice cream (YUM).

8. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Fondants

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GBBO 2017 Week 4 - Chocolate Orange Ganache Millionaire's Shortbread

Orange Chocolate Ganache Millionaire's Shortbread

I made these millionaire's shortbread when I had spare dough left after making the peanut butter millionaire's shortbread from Week 4 of the Great British Bake Off (here's the recipe for the Peanut Butter Millionaire's shortbread). I was inspired by Sophie's orange millionaire's shortbread, as it had an extra orange chocolate ganache layer I was eager to try.

The orange chocolate ganache was really easy to make and was so amazingly full of orange flavour. I was amazed by it, and had to put the recipe up for the entire shortbread. The base and caramel layers are the same I used for my peanut butter Millionaire's shortbread, then I added a spoonful of the ganache, and a fairly thick layer of chocolate.

If you chill these, the thick chocolate has a lovely crack to it, but if you disagree, you could make this layer thinner.

Makes 12

Ingredients:

For the shortbread base:
  • 175g (1 cup & 8 tbsp) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 90g (2/3 cup) ground rice
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 85g (1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 175g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, chilled (or baking margarine)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

For the caramel:
  • 90ml (2/5 cup) double cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 30g (2 tbsp) liquid glucose
  • 185g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 100g (1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp) butter, at room temperature, diced (or baking margarine)

For the orange ganache:
  • 300ml (1 & 1/4 cups) fresh orange juice
  • 75g (1/2 cup) dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 75g (1/2 cup) milk chocolate (about 35% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 75g (1/3 cup) double cream

To finish:

  • 200g (1 & 1/3 cups) dark chocolate (55% cocoa solids)

  • Method:

    1. Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan)/355f/ gas mark 4.
    • If you are using the individual moulds, grease the base and sides of each mould and dust lightly with flour.
    • If you are going to use the acetate moulds, grease and line the base of two baking trays with baking paper. Find a circular biscuit cutter (I used a 5cm cutter) and cut out pieces of acetate/plastic wallets so that they are 5cm wide and around 16cm long (so that it could surround the 5cm biscuit).
    • If you want to be traditional and make one large millionaire's shortbread, grease and line the base of a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.
    2. Sift the plain flour and ground rice into a bowl with the salt and the sugar. Add the vanilla, then rub in the butter/margarine to form a dough. Gently bring into a ball.

    3. Line your surface with clingfilm and tip the dough onto the surface. Cover with another layer of cling film, then roll out until the shortbread is around 1cm thick.


    4. If using the moulds or the baking trays, cut out 5cm circles of the dough and place in the moulds or on the baking sheets. If making one large shortbread, roll out until it is 20x 20cm, then transfer to the cake tin.

    Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.

    5. Bake the shortbread for 12-14 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from the oven to cool.


    6. If using the acetate to make individual shortbreads, after removing from the oven, use the biscuit cutter to trim the biscuits to size (if they have spread on the trays). Wrap one of the pieces of acetate around a biscuit and secure in place with some tape. Try to get it as tight as possible to avoid leakage later.


    7. To make the caramel, place 60g (4 tbsp) of the caster sugar in a saucepan with the liquid glucose. Place on a low heat and frequently tilt the pan, until the sugar has melted and is a caramel colour. Meanwhile, heat the double cream and butter/margarine in another saucepan until it is lightly simmering.

    8. Add the remaining (125g) caster sugar to the melted sugar and swirl the pan to incorporate the sugar. Keep a close eye on the sugar bubbling, until it is all a rich caramel colour.


    9. Take off the heat (be sure to be holding the pan handle with an oven glove!), and pour over the simmering cream and butter. The mixture will bubble up a lot so be careful. Return to the heat, and stir continuously until the mixture is 110c/230f. Take off the heat and leave to cool for 15-20 minutes, until the temperature is around 50c.

    10. To make the orange chocolate ganache, pour the orange juice into a medium-sized pan and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until reduced to 50ml. Pour into a small bowl and leave to cool (it will be thick and sticky). Chop the milk and dark chocolate finely and pour into a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until it is just boiling, then pour over the chocolate. Leave for a minute before stirring until melted and smooth. Stir in the sticky orange concentrate and set aside to cool slightly. 

    11. Remove the shortbread from the fridge and spoon 1 tablespoon of the ganache on top of the caramel in each mould. Return to the fridge to set.

    12. To finish, gently melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of steaming hot (but not boiling) water – don’t let the water touch the base of the bowl. Alternatively melt in a microwave, by heating on high power for 30 second bursts. Stir regularly until the chocolate has melted. Use a small teaspoon to spread a small amount of chocolate onto each mould, or if making one large shortbread, pour over the entire shortbread/caramel. Leave to set, then cut into squares/remove from moulds.

    13. Enjoy!

    Orange Chocolate Ganache Millionaire's Shortbread

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    Sunday, 1 October 2017

    GBBO Week 3 - Cottage Loaf (Guest Post)

    Cottage Loaf

    This post has been written by my incredible boyfriend, who loves baking bread and always bakes something from bread week on GBBO. Although a few weeks behind, he baked the technical challenge from week 3 of the 2017 series of GBBO, which was a Cottage loaf, and I hope you enjoy his recipe :)

    Ingredients:

    500g Strong white flour
    7g dried yeast
    7g salt
    50g lard
    350ml water
    Teaspoon of oil

    Instructions:

    1 - Put the flour into a bowl, add the yeast to one side of the bowl and then the salt to the other side.
    Top Tip : If salt is added on top of the yeast it will kill the yeast and prevent the bread rising in later stages.

    2 – Cut the lard into small cubes and add to the mixture

    3 – Slowly add the water and start combining everything in the bowl with your hands.
    Top Tip : You may not need to use all the water, the mixture shouldn't be too wet.

    4 – Tip the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes.

    Cottage Loaf Dough Kneading


    5 – Place the kneaded dough into a bowl and cover with either a tea towel of cling film. Leave to grow until it is double in size. This can take anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on the temperature of the room. The warmer it is the faster the dough will rise.

    Cottage Loaf Risen Dough


    6 – Tip the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently fold to remove excess air.

    7 – Split the dough into 2 pieces, roughly 1/3 and 2/3 in size. Shape both pieces into balls and flatten slightly so they won't roll away.

    8 – Place the big piece onto a baking tray and then place the small ball on top.Then drive two fingers from top to bottom through the middle of both pieces. This will help stop the top piece falling off the top during baking.

    9 – Loosely cover with cling film or place the baking tray inside a large plastic bag and leave to prove for another hour.
    Top Tip : The classic cottage loaf has shallow cuts made horizontally around both balls of dough. Add these after the second prove if you wish.

    10 – Remove the bag/cling film, dust the dough slightly with flour and put into a preheated fan oven at 210C for 15 minutes
    Top tip : Add a tray filled with water to the bottom of the oven, the steam will help the bread cook on the inside and prevent burning the outside.

    11 – After 15 minutes lower the oven temperature to 170C and bake for 20-25 minutes.
    Top Tip : Keep an eye on the bread during the last 5 minutes of baking, everyones oven is different so the cooking times can vary massively. The bread should be golden brown on the outside. When you take it out flip it upside down and tap the bottom with your fingers, if it sounds hollow it's ready. If not, put it back in the oven for another few minutes.

    Cottage Loaf

    Cottage Loaf Sliced


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    Monday, 25 September 2017

    GBBO 2017 Week 4 - Caramel Poppy Seed Cake

    Caramel Poppy Seed Walnut Cake

    Caramel Poppy Seed Walnut Cake Slice


    The showstopper challenge on the mighty caramel week for the GBBO 2017 series was all about making an impressive caramel cake. As my partner's family is Polish, I've been keeping an eye on Julia's bakes, as she keeps making eastern European inspired bakes. I was really intrigued by the cake she made this week, a light poppy seed cake with a walnut and prune filling and caramel frosting, so thought it'd be fun to give it a go.

    The cake was a big success! The cake was really lovely and airy, but still had a lot of flavour, and the filling was a bit hit with my boyfriend's mum :) I altered the caramel sauce and buttercream a little - I wanted the buttercream not quite as sweet, so used treacle instead of the golden syrup Julia used. otherwise this recipe doesn't stray too far from what was seen on the show. I had some fun with the caramel decorations though - they aren't as difficult as you might think! Just be very careful, boiling caramel really hurts :(

    Makes one 20cm cake (easily feeds 12)

    Ingredients:

    For the sponges:


    • 200g (7/8 cup) unsalted butter/margarine
    • 5 medium eggs, at room temperature
    • 200g (1 cup) caster sugar
    • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 10g (2 tsp) poppy seeds
    • 200g (1 & 3/4 cups) self-raising flour, sifted

    For the filling:

    • 75g (1/2 cup) walnut halves or pieces
    • 75g (1/2 cup) semi-dried prunes (I used Whitworths, which are partially rehydrated)

    For the caramel sauce:

    • 50g (1/4 cup) butter or margarine
    • 100g (1/4 cup + 2 tsp) treacle
    • 150g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
    • 150ml (3/5 cup) double cream

    For the buttercream:

    • 50g (1/4 cup) softened butter
    • 50g (1/2 cup) icing sugar, sifted

    For the caramel decoration:

    • 240g (2 & 2/5 cups) caster sugar
    • 4 tablespoons water
    • 9 walnut halves

    Method:

    1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (170C fan)/375°F/Gas mark 5. Grease the base and sides of two loose-bottomed 20cm cake tins, and dust lightly with flour.

    2. Gently melt the butter/margarine (in a microwave or in a saucepan) and leave to cool until needed.

    3. Separate the eggs, placing the egg whites into a large grease-free bowl, and the yolks into a another large mixing bowl. Whisk using a hand-held electric whisk (or use the whisk attachment of a stand mixer) until the whites stand in soft peaks when the whisk is lifted from the bowl. Whisk in 100g of the caster sugar to make a stiff, glossy meringue. Set aside.

    4. Add the remaining 100g of sugar to the yolks, along with the vanilla extract, and whisk (there’s no need to wash the whisk) until very thick and mousse-like and the whisk leaves a distinct, ribbon-like trail when lifted from the bowl. Whisk in the poppy seeds.

    5. Using a large metal spoon or similar implement (I used a metal palette knife), carefully fold in a third of the sifted flour. Once you can't see any speckles of flour, add a third of the eggs whites, and fold in. Repeat this, alternating between adding flour and egg whites, until it has all been incorporated.

    6. Pour the melted butter/margarine around the sides of the bowl and gently (but thoroughly) fold in. Divide evenly between the two cake tins.  

    7. Bake the sponges for about 18-20 minutes until golden, well risen and starting to shrink away from the sides of the tin - if you press the centre of the sponge it will spring back. Leave to cool for 5 minutes in their tins, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

    8. For the walnut and prune filling, roast the walnuts in the preheated oven for around 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes, until they smell nutty and are golden in colour. Leave to cool. Put the prunes into the bowl of a food processor and blitz to make a thick puree. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the walnut and blitz the pieces (briefly) until they are chopped medium-fine. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

    9. To make the caramel sauce to flavour the filling and buttercream: place the butter, treacle and caster sugar into a medium pan and stir over a low heat until melted and smooth. Meanwhile heat the cream in another pan until it is just simmering. 

    10. Bring the sugar/treacle mixture to the boil and cook for about 4 minutes, or until becomes thicker and even darker in colour. Stir the mixture often to ensure it doesn't burn.  Remove the pan from the heat, cover your hand with an oven glove and very carefully add the hot cream. 

    11. When the foaming subsides, return the pan to a low heat and whisk constantly with a wire hand whisk for a few minutes until thickened (on a sugar thermometer the temperature would read 110C/230F). Pour into a heatproof bowl. Leave to cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge to chill fully. 

    12. For the caramel buttercream: beat the butter/margarine until it is very smooth and fluffy. , until very light in colour and texture. Gradually whisk in the caramel sauce. When it’s very smooth and light, remove 100g and mix this into the prune/walnut filling. 

    13. Add the sifted icing sugar and beat until it is smooth but not too slack - if it seems very loose, add more icing sugar. Transfer ⅓ to a separate bowl for the ‘crumb coat’.

    14. To assemble the cake, level both sponges, then set one sponge top-side down on a serving plate. Spread with the walnut/prune filling. Place the second sponge on top.

    15. Evenly spread the top and sides of the cake with the buttercream set aside for the ‘crumb coat', using a palette knife or spatula. Chill for 10 minutes, or until it is no longer sticky to the touch. Using a cleaned palette knife or spatula, neatly spread the remaining ⅔ of caramel buttercream over the entire cake and chill until firm.

    16. Meanwhile, make the caramel for the shards: put the sugar into a medium pan and shake the pan so it settles in an even layer. Add the water, and place on a low heat. Gently melt the sugar, tilting the pan occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Meanwhile grease and line the base of a baking tray with baking parchment. 

    17. Once all of the sugar has melted, turn up the heat and boil without stirring until the syrup turns a rich, golden-brown caramel colour. Take off the heat, and leave until cool (to speed up this process you can dip the pan in some cold water/ice). Once the caramel is thick enough to leave a trail from the pan, use a whisk to spread the caramel out on the baking parchment - make a thick line about 7cm in size at the bottom, then have fun drizzling the caramel above this (this will make a feature for the cake that should have stability due to this base). If the caramel gets too thick, place back on a low heat for a few minutes.

    Reserve 1/4 of the caramel for the walnuts.

    There are other fun things you can do with the caramel. For example, to make a sugar cage, grease a ladle and drizzle the caramel over in a web pattern. Whilst warm (but not too hot), gently peel the cage away. If it gets too cold, I found out (to my horror) the caramel sticks to the spoon...

    18. Place the walnut halves in the reserved caramel and swirl to get an even coating (I'll admit, mine weren't as even as I'd like - we can always improve!), then tip out to cool. Leave to set.

    19. Once the caramel is hard, press the large into the buttercream on the top of the cake and decorate the top with the caramel coated walnuts.

    20. Enjoy!

    Caramel Poppy Seed Walnut Cake


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    GBBO 2017 Week 4 - Peanut Butter Millionaire's Shortbread

    Peanut Butter Millionaire's Shortbread


    This was the best week of GBBO by far. I love love love caramel, so to find out that the whole theme of the show was caramel was like a dream. The signature challenge were millionaire's shortbread (or as my boyfriend calls them, Rich Man Biscuits), and I was really intrigued with what the bakers would come up with. Traditionally they have a shortbread base, caramel middle, and are topped with chocolate. I've made them before, but have never been able to make the caramel from scratch (i.e. without the help of condensed milk) before (my other recipe, which is also gluten free, is here).

    So I was pretty excited to see what the baker's would bake. Some didn't appeal to me - bay leaf infused caramel for instance, just sounds a bit too weird for mass appeal. However, I loved the idea Sophie had of making individual shortbread biscuits, wrapping them in acetate then topping with layers of caramel, orange chocolate ganache, and chocolate.

    Although I loved her ganache (I tried it out and it was amazing, so I may do another blog post about that later on), Liam's peanut butter millionaire's shortbread really took my eye so I decided to give them a go, with a few cheeky tweaks along the way.

    Oh, and these taste incredible!! The caramel sets perfectly (helped by the peanut butter), and it sort of reminds me of a caramel snickers bar, except made even better with a layer of perfect shortbread. I've never used ground rice (also called rice flour) before, but it really worked a treat.

    One money-saving tweak I tested, which worked really well, is to use baking margarine instead of butter. Personally I think the shortbread base doesn't suffer (with all the other flavours going on you don't miss it, and the texture seems very close to that when you use butter), and the caramel set just fine. Butter will obviously work too, but I thought it'd be nice to let people know when I'm able to cut the price of ingredients :)

    I tried wrapping strips of plastic wallet (in place of acetate sheets), and had no issues of spillage. However, the end result wasn't perfectly clean as the caramel stuck too the sheet (but maybe if you grease the plastic that wouldn't happen). It was a lot less time consuming to use a loose bottomed individual mini cake tins - I already had one, which I got from Lakeland years ago (see below). If you don't have one, try the acetate trick out :) Instructions for both methods are in my recipe.


    These tins have removable bases and have straight sides, perfect for shortbread
    Easily makes 12 millionaire's shortbreads (unless you want huge ones...)

    Ingredients:

    For the shortbread :


    • 175g (1 cup & 8 tbsp) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
    • 90g (2/3 cup) ground rice
    • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 85g (1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp) caster sugar
    • 175g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, chilled (or baking margarine)
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

    For the peanut butter:
    • 100g (2/3 cup) roasted salted peanuts
    • 1/2 tbsp honey
    • 1 teaspoon nut oil (vegetable oil will also work)

    For the caramel:
    • 90ml (2/5 cup) double cream
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 30g (2 tbsp) liquid glucose
    • 185g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
    • 100g (1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp) butter, at room temperature, diced (or baking margarine)

    For the chocolate topping:
    • 200g (1 & 1/3 cups) dark chocolate (55% cocoa solids)

    Method:

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


    • If you are using the individual moulds, grease the base and sides of each mould and dust lightly with flour.
    • If you are going to use the acetate moulds, grease and line the base of two baking trays with baking paper. Find a circular biscuit cutter (I used a 5cm cutter) and cut out pieces of acetate/plastic wallets so that they are 5cm wide and around 16cm long (so that it could surround the 5cm biscuit).
    • If you want to be traditional and make one large millionaire's shortbread, grease and line the base of a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.

    2. Sift the plain flour and ground rice into a bowl with the salt and the sugar. Add the vanilla, then rub in the butter/margarine to form a dough. Gently bring into a ball.

    3. Line your surface with clingfilm and tip the dough onto the surface. Cover with another layer of cling film, then roll out until the shortbread is around 1cm thick.

    4. If using the moulds or the baking trays, cut out 5cm circles of the dough and place in the moulds or on the baking sheets. If making one large shortbread, roll out until it is 20x 20cm, then transfer to the cake tin.
    Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.

    5. Bake the shortbread for 12-14 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from the oven to cool.

    6. If using the acetate to make individual shortbreads, after removing from the oven, use the biscuit cutter to trim the biscuits to size (if they have spread on the trays). Wrap one of the pieces of acetate around a biscuit and secure in place with some tape. Try to get it as tight as possible to avoid leakage later.

    7. To make the peanut butter, add the roasted peanuts, honey and oil to a high powered blender (you could use a pestle and mortar too), and blitz until the peanuts have broken down but there are still chunks remaining. Taste, and add more honey or salt if needed.

    8. To make the caramel, place 60g (4 tbsp) of the caster sugar in a saucepan with the liquid glucose. Place on a low heat and frequently tilt the pan, until the sugar has melted and is a caramel colour. Meanwhile, heat the double cream and butter/margarine in another saucepan until it is lightly simmering.

    9. Add the remaining (125g) caster sugar to the melted sugar and swirl the pan to incorporate the sugar. Keep a close eye on the sugar bubbling, until it is all a rich caramel colour.

    10. Take off the heat (be sure to be holding the pan handle with an oven glove!), and pour over the simmering cream and butter. The mixture will bubble up a lot so be careful. Return to the heat, and stir continuously until the mixture is 110c/230f. Take off the heat and leave to cool for 15-20 minutes, until the temperature is around 50c.

    11. Add two heaped teaspoons of the peanut butter to the caramel, and stir to combine. Add two tablespoons of caramel to each mould (or pour the whole thing over  the cake tin), and place in the fridge to set.

    12. Melt the chocolate in a microwave on high power for 30 second bursts, stirring well after each addition. Add a teaspoon of the melted chocolate to each mould - I made some of mine thicker and regretted it, so keep the layer thin! Place in the fridge to set for 20 minutes.

    13. Remove from the moulds, slice (if necessary).

    14. Enjoy!


    Peanut Butter Millionaire's Shortbread

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