Muesli Rusks

Muesli RusksThere is nothing like some rusks with a hot cup of tea or coffee, and I always feel a little better having rusks with a bit of healthy muesli and seeds. For anyone who doesn’t know what rusks are, they are sort of bigger versions of biscotti, but they are not quite as sweet. They are made for dunking in a cup of tea or coffee and were actually started by being a way to preserve bread in the hot climate of South Africa. Give the recipe a go, it’s really easy and completely worth it.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cups Buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 500g Butter, melted
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 4 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 cups muesli
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy
  3. Add the buttermilk, vanilla essence and melted butter to the eggs and sugar mixture and mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl add all the dry ingredients (including all the seeds and raisins) and mix together well.
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients and mix. Do not over mix.
  6. Pour mixture into a greased baking dish with deep sides (about 5cm) and cook for +-45 minutes at 180°C
  7. Once cooked, take the pan out of the oven and turn the oven heat down to 75°C.
  8. Cut in half whilst in the pan.
  9. Lay a bread board over top of both halves and flip so that you have it right side up.
  10. Using a finely serrated knife, cut into the hardening crust just to break the crust. Cut strips about 1 inch wide.
  11. Using a smooth, sharp knife, cut right through following the tracks of the serrated knife.
  12. Cut the cross strips in the same way and place the rusks with space between them into 2 baking sheets.
  13. Dry rusks out for about 4-5 hours in the oven (you may need to do a few batches to get them all done.

Source

Advertisements
Featured post

Strawberry Cheesecake

Strawberry CheesecakeI dropped a packet of chocolate digestives under all a bag of groceries, so I decided to save them by turning them into a cheesecake. I have always wanted to make a cheesecake, just so I know how. I found this recipe via Pinterest, but I halved the recipe for a smaller crowd.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cup dark chocolate digestives, crushed
  • 30g butter, melted

Cheesecake

  • 2 300g packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 200g sugar
  • 30ml plain flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5ml pure vanilla extract
  • 30ml double cream

Strawberry Top

  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1/2 pint fresh small strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 45ml water
  • 30ml sugar
  • 2.5ml corn-starch
  • red food colouring, optional

Method

Crust

  • Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325º F/160ºC. (I almost baked this at 180ºC which is why I’ve highlighted it)
  • Put a tea kettle or large pot of water on the stove to boil for the water bath.
  • Mix together the crust ingredients and press into 7” springform pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside.

Cheesecake

  • In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed.
  • Add the whole eggs and the egg yolk, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition.
  • Beat in the vanilla and sour cream.
  • Place the spring-form pan in a larger roasting pan.
  • Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. If your cheesecake pan is not leak-proof, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
  • Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 70 to 80 minutes.
  • Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature.
  • Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Strawberry Top

  • Puree frozen strawberries in a small food processor or with an immersion blender.
  • Press blended strawberries through a fine mesh strainer in to a small saucepan. Add water.
  • In a small bowl, mix together sugar and corn starch. Stir into the puree in saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  • Continue cooking and stirring until thickened and clear. Add food colouring, if desired. Cool to room temperature.
  • Arrange strawberries in a single layer around the cooled cheesecake.
  • Drizzle cooled glazed evenly over strawberries on cheesecake.
  • Store, covered, in refrigerator.
Featured post

Chocolate Coconut Biscuits (also known as Romany Creams)

In South Africa we have these delicious biscuits called Romany Creams. They are all coconut chocolate biscuits sandwiched together with  more chocolate. This is a homemade version, which of course is never the same as the real thing, but I think these are better!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 250g butter
  • vanilla essence
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • salt
  • 1½ cups coconut
  • 1 cup of melted chocolate

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper
  • Cream together the softened butter and sugar
  • Add to flour mixture (flour, baking powder, salt and coconut and cocoa)
  • Mix in boiling water and add vanilla essence
  • Drop teaspoons of the mixture onto a greased baking tray
  • Bake at 180ºC for 15-20 minutes
  • Let the biscuits cool and then melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water
  • Sandwich together the biscuits with melted chocolate

Recipe source

Featured post

Cinnamon Bun Cupcakes

Cinnamon CupcakesWho doesn’t love cinnamon rolls? It is completely one of my favourites. The trouble is that I often just don’t have the time (or inclination) to work at creating a dough and let it proof and i would love to just bomb it all in a bowl and off you go. I found this recipe, and it’s definitely a winner. It gives you just enough cinnamon sugar flavour without all the hard work.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup (150g) butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

Ingredients – Icing

  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350 F/175 C. Line 18 muffin cups with cupcake liners.
  • Set out the butter and eggs for 30 minutes to allow to come to room temperature.
  • Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Set aside.
  • Beat butter in a mixer on high for 30 seconds. Gradually add the granulated sugar. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  • Add flour mixture alternately with the milk into the egg mixture. Beat until just combined.
  • Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into the prepared cupcake liners. Sprinkle one teaspoon of the brown sugar over the batter. Top the brown sugar mixture in each cup with the remaining batter. Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar mixture over the batter.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove the cupcakes from the oven and transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.
  • Mix the milk into the icing sugar a little at a time and then dollop or drizzle onto the cupcakes.

Original recipe source.

Featured post

Valentines Heart Biscuits

Valentines Jam BiscuitsThis recipe is one that I found for Xmas biscuits, but I was inspired to change the cookie cutter and make them for Valentines day.

Ingredients

  • 225g unsalted butter , softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 200g plain flour , plus extra for dusting
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g strawberry or raspberry jam (about half a jar)

Method

Making the dough

  • Put the butter, sugar, flour and almonds into a food processor and whizz until the mixture just comes together and forms a ball.
  • If making by hand, first beat together the butter and sugar, then add the flour and ground almonds.
  • Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 1 hr.

Making the biscuits

  • Remove the dough from the fridge and knead until it is soft enough to shape and roll.
  • Divide into two even-size balls.
  • Sprinkle a little plain flour over your work surface and roll out one ball of pastry.
  • The dough should be approximately 5mm thick.
  • Using a star heart cutter (about 6cm wide) dipped in a little flour to stop it from sticking, cut out as many star heart shapes as you can.
  • Then lightly knead the dough trimmings together and roll out again.
  • Keep going until you have about 24 hearts.
  • Carefully place the hearts on a baking sheet, making sure you keep them slightly apart.
  • Roll out the second ball of dough the same way.
  • Cut out the same-size stars and place them on a baking sheet.
  • Now cut out a small circle/heart in the centre of each biscuit using a small cookie cutter or the end of a large piping nozzle.
  • Heat oven to 140C/fan 120C/gas 1 and cook the biscuits for 20-30 mins until just golden.
  • Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.

The finished product

  • Place a blob of jam onto the centre of the biscuits without the cut-out circle.
  • Be generous – you want the jam to show at the edges as well as the centre.
  • Place the top halves of the biscuits on and push down gently.
  • These will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Nutritional Info (from the original recipe)

141 kcalories, protein 2g, carbohydrate 14g, fat 10 g, saturated fat 5g, fibre 1g, sugar 8g, salt 0.01 g

Mochaccino Layer Cupcakes

Mocha Cupcakes

I decided that I wanted to make some cupcakes that are a bit different, so I went hunting for a recipe. I think I underestimated how little patience  have these days and how out of practice I am with baking and the precision it requires. I have added some notes on where I went wrong to hopefully prevent further disasters. The turned out really tasty, but the frosting was more gloopy fluffy!

Ingredients – Cupcakes

  • 1 cup (250 ml) sugar
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups (310 ml) whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) brewed coffee or water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/3 cups (330 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt

 Ingredients – Mocha Frosting:

  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) Semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) brewed coffee or
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) vanilla extract
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups (310 ml) whipping cream, divided

Method – Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350 °F (180 °C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with large-size paper liners.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and cocoa. Gradually whisk in cream until blended; whisk in coffee and egg.
  • Without stirring, add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir until batter is smooth and blended.
  • Spoon into prepared muffin cups.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Let cool completely.

Method – Frosting

  • In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of hot, not boiling water, melt chocolate chips with coffee, cinnamon and 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the cream; stir until smooth. Let cool slightly. (Don’t overheat the water, otherwise the chocolate will start to separate)
  • In a large, chilled bowl, whip remaining cream to soft peaks. (Make sure the cream is properly whipped before adding anything. If you add any of the flavours to the whipped cream before whipping your cream just wont get fluffy enough)
  • Fold one-quarter into chocolate mixture until blended; beat chocolate mixture into remaining cream.
  • Chill until stiff.
  • Peel paper from cupcakes; cut each cake in half crosswise. With a spatula or piping bag, spread or pipe frosting over bottom cake layers. Top with cake tops and decorate with remaining frosting

Original Recipe from Real Cream.

Lamingtons

LamingtonsWhen I grew up in South Africa, I loved ystervarkies (roughly translated into small porcupines), it was only much later that I learned that they actually have an English name, lamingtons. I haven’t seen then anywhere in the UK and they seem to be a brilliant little winter treat, so I found a recipe, which seemed reasonable, but it needed quite a bit of work to make it just right. 

I’m going to say this a bunch of time throughout the method, but you really have to be very careful with the sponge. It doesn’t use any baking powder so be very gentle with the mixture to not lose any of the air. 

Ingredients

For the Sponge

  • 3 eggs
  • 125 grams butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar (250ml)
  • 2 cups flour (500ml)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Icing

  • 2 cups icing sugar (500ml)
  • 3 tablespoons coco powder
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups coconut (500ml)

Method

For the Sponge

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  • Grease and line a square baking tin (20cm x 20cm) with greaseproof paper.
  • Mix eggs, softened butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 8 minutes.
  • Add one cup of flour and vanilla extract at a time and mix with a cold metal spoon.
  • Place mixture into a square greased baking dish and place into the oven.
  • Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.
  • Once done, remove from the oven and let it stand until cooled.

For the Icing

  • Mix the cocoa and icing sugar together and add 1 tablespoon of water at a time – this needs to form a liquid approximately the consistency of melted chocolate.
  • Cut the sponge into cubes and place the coconut in a separate dish.
  • Dip the sponge cubes in the icing mixture and then into the coconut until it is completely covered with the coconut.
  • Let the squares stand until the icing is dry before serving.

Original recipe Reader’s Digest

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

I am not a cookie baker, but these looked to yummy to pass up. I just loved the way they look! The recipe is from BBC Good Food. I changed it slightly, and also found that they weren’t crunchy enough, so if you like biscuits that aren’t gooey, you may want to double bake them. 

Ingredients

  • 225g plain chocolate , chopped
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 175g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 60g icing sugar

Method

  • Heat the oven to 160ºC/fan 140ºC/gas 3.
  • Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a small pan of simmering water or in a microwave until smooth. Cool slightly.
  • In a separate bowl mix the flour and baking powder.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric whisk until pale, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed and add the chocolate mix and vanilla extract.
  • Add the flour mixture until blended together.
  • Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1½ hours or even up to 2 days.
  • Put the icing sugar in a small bowl.
  • Shape the dough into 4cm balls, flatten and roll in the sugar.
  • Put them on baking sheets lined with baking paper.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes for soft centres and set edges.
  • For more crunchy cookies, turn the heat down a little (to around 140ºC/120ºC fan) and bake for a further 10 minutes. 
  • Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and then put on a rack to cool.

Custard and White Chocolate Cookies

I am on a biscuit/cookie thing at the moment. I love all things custard so this was a must do for me! It’s from BBC Good Food

Ingredients

  • 40g butter , softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 85g custard powder
  • 85g white chocolate , chopped into small chunks

Method

  • Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
  • Line 2-3 baking sheets with baking parchment.
  • Put the butter and sugar in a food processor and whizz until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix well. Sift together the flour and custard powder, then tip into the bowl and pulse to mix into a dough.
  • Scrape out the food processor and work the chocolate in by hand.
  • Roll the dough into balls a little smaller than a walnut, then place on the baking sheets, a little apart to allow for spreading.
  • Press each biscuit down lightly with your fingers.
  • Bake for 12-15 mins until lightly golden.
  • Remove and cool on a wire rack.
Featured post

Fudgy Chocolate Chip Cookies

My lovely wife has started a new job, and as part of her endeavor to get to know her colleagues, she’s decide to bribe them. And the best way to bribe them? Cookies! This is a super simple recipe I found  all over the web and simply tweaked it to make it suite me. 

Ingredients

  • 75g dark brown muscavado brown sugar
  • 75g soft butter, cubed
  • 1 egg
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 100g chocolate chunks/drops

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  • Cream butter and sugar
  • Beat in egg.
  • Stir in flour and chocolate.
  • Place in small spoonfuls on greased/lined baking tray.
  • Bake 180 for 10-15 minutes.

Carrot cake

We decided to invite some friends over and I decided to bake a carrot cake to feed them. I couldn’t find a carrot cake recipe that I was happy with so I sort of made one up. You can double up this recipe to make 2 layers, but I decided that a single layer would be more than enough for us. I used a 20 cm cake tin, and it made a decent height layer. Next time I may use a bundt tin or a much smaller, but taller tin. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup wheatgerm
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 3/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 170ºC and line a cake tin with paper.
  • Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • In another bowl, mix together all the wet ingredients. I let the wet mixture stand for a about 10 – 15 minutes to allow for the moisture to be absorbed into the grated carrot.
  • Then mix together the  wet and dry ingredients, pour into the baking tin and bake for 50-60 minutes.
  • Allow the cake to cool before icing with cream cheese icing.

Nigella’s Lemon Drizzle Cake

For my birthday I realised that I need to make something for the office, so I decided to try out a fool proof recipe for Lemon Drizzle cake. Instead of using a loaf tin, I decided to try out my ring cake tin. I think a ring cake always looks impressive and they are super simple to drizzle the icing all over. Many thanks to The Extraordinary Art of Cake for sharing the recipe

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 175g self raising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons milk

For the Syrup

  • juice of 1 and a half lemons
  • 100g icing sugar

For the Drizzle Icing

  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 150g icing sugar

Method

For the Cake

For the cake, I used a ring loaf tin, and because I had no idea how much the cake will rise, I actually doubled up the recipe and the cake overflowed all over the oven. I also had enough to make 4 cupcakes, which I don’t recommend. This mixture is too soft and the cupcakes just fall apart. For lemon cupcakes, take a look at my other recipe

  • Preheat your oven to 180 C/ gas mark 4.
  • Butter and line your tin well.
  • Cream together butter and sugar and add eggs and lemon zest, beating them in well.
  • Gently fold in the flour and the salt, mixing thoroughly and then add the milk.
  • Spoon the batter into your prepared tin and bake for 45 mins or until cake tester comes out clean.

 For the Syrup

  • Put the lemon juice and icing sugar into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves.
  • As soon as cake is out of oven, puncture all over with skewer and pour over the syrup.
  • Leave cake to cool completely before removing from the tin. I found that turning it over onto a plate (without removing it from the tin) allows the bottom of the cake to cool a little quicker. 

For the Drizzle Icing

  • Combine lemon juice and icing sugar until smooth and white, add a little more icing sugar if needed.
  • Make sure your cake is completely cool before drizzling with the glaze.

Rose Cupcakes

It’s my birthday! I decided to mark the occasion with something yummy, non diet and lovely to look at. Of course I haven’t baked in a while I realise my ingredients cupboard is almost bare. I had to substitute some custard powder into my icing mixture which is why the icing is more peachy than rosy. The recipe for this is from Crumbs and Dirty Dishes. This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

Ingredients

For the Rose-milk

  • 1 flower’s worth of rose petals (washed) (you may need to use more depending on how big or strong smelling your roses are)
  • 3/4 cup milk

For the Cupcakes

  • 120ml rose-milk
  • 275g self raising flour
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • A few drops of red food colouring

For the Icing

  • 250g icing sugar
  • 15ml rose-milk
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • A few drops of red food colouring

Method

For the Rose-milk

An hour before you want to start on the rest of the cupcakes, take the milk for both the cakes and the icing and put on a fire on a very low heat with the (washed) rose petals. After at least an hour, remove the petals and drain excess milk then split the milk into the required amounts for cake and icing again.

For the Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  • Line a tray with cupcake cases.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is very pale but not completely liquid.
  • Add one egg, beat for a few minutes then add the second egg before beating again.
  • Add one third of the flour, then one third of the rose-milk, beating for a few minutes or so after each addition. Repeat until both have been used up.
  • Add a drop or two of food colouring, just to give it a slight rose tint.
  • Spoon the mixture into 12 cupcake cases in the tray.
  • Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until firm to the touch and cooked through. Leave to cool.

For the Icing

I’ll give you the actual recipe I should’ve followed, rather than the botch job I did. I made half the amount of icing from the original recipe and it was enough to cover all the cupcakes.

  • Beat the butter and rose-milk whilst adding the icing sugar gradually.
  • Drop in the food colouring – remember a little goes a long, long way.
  • Ice the cupcakes as soon as they are cool and the icing is ready.

Mini Chocolate Puddings

Having bought ramekins, I am now over the moon with the simplicity of using them for all sorts of things. Of course, Chocolate pudding had to be it. When I was growing up, we would call this a self-saucing pudding, but call it what you want, it is super yummy and just more-ish. This is where using ramekins really helps, it is a simple form of portion control. I allow myself only one, but I don’t feel like I haven’t had enough to satisfy. I used this recipe as a base, and halved the quantities. The results were amazing.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 40ml unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 40ml milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 90ml firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups boiling water

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° F/180° C/160° C Fan assisted. In a large bowl, sift together flour, half of the cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, milk, butter, and vanilla; add to flour mixture. Stir batter until just combined. Spread batter evenly into an 8 cup shallow baking dish. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining cocoa powder, brown sugar, and boiling water. Pour liquid evenly over batter, do not mix.

Bake until a tooth pick or skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with crumbs adhering to it, 30 to 35 minutes (20 – 25 minutes for ramekins). Let cool 10 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (or custard).

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I found this, the most perfect recipe for dark, rich chocolate buttercream. This is officially the only chocolate buttercream I will use from now on.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup Cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  • Cream butter until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
  • Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.
  • Makes about 2 cups frosting.

Mini Apple Crumbles

Being just 2 of us, I find it frustrating that so many recipes serve 6, 8 or even 10. This is especially true with desserts like crumbles. I went hunting for a small recipe for apple crumble, changed it slightly to use healthier wholemeal flour, used 4 small ramekins and viola, mini apple crumbles. 

Ingredients

  • 2 apples
  • 75g plain flour (I used wholemeal flour)
  • 45 g butter, cubed
  • 45g brown sugar
  • 25g porridge oats
  • 1tsp cinnamon

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 180ºC
  • Peel and cut your apples into little bite sized pieces, and put them in a small saucepan with about 2 tbsp of water and maybe a tbsp of sugar.  Cook on low heat for about 15-20 mins, to make the apple bits soft.
  • While that’s cooking, measure out your flour and butter.  Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour till it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Add the cinnamon, sugar and oats to the flour and butter mix, and take the apples off the heat.
  • Add your apples and the sugary liquid in the bottom of the saucepan to the bottom of the oven-proof dish ramekins.
  • Then sprinkle the oat mixture on top.  Bake in the oven for about 20mins.
  • Let it cool for a few minutes, then serve with cream or vanilla ice cream (or custard like we did)

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

This is the basic recipe for buttercream that I use. You can use it as is, or add colours or go wild. This is luxuriously soft and gorgeous. This recipe makes enough for about 18 cupcakes, or for icing a 9 inch cake.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  • Cream butter until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
  • Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.
  • Makes about 2 cups frosting.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes

A friend of mine is a cupcake freak, she loves cupcakes and has tried cupcakes from all over London. This of course means that I really have to up my game for her. She’s coming around to play with my kittens (not a euphemism) and I’m making her a special batch of devil’s food cupcakes. The recipe is from Martha Stewart, but I have halved the recipe so that I don’t end up with a million cupcakes. The original yield is 32 and this recipe makes a dozen larger cupcakes. I then frosted them with my favourite chocolate buttercream frosting.

Ingredients

  • 45g unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 90ml hot water
  • 190g all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 225g sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 110ml sour cream, room temperature

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
  • Whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth.
  • In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low.
  • Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.
  • Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each 3/4 full.
  • Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centres comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer tins to wire racks to cool for 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
  • Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
Featured post

Angela’s Chocolate Birthday Cake

I had really high hopes to create a giant chocolate cake for Angela’s birthday. I didn’t in the end, but what I gave up in size I made up for in flavour,. This is the most decadent, chocolatey chocolate cake I have ever tasted. The recipe comes from Hershey’s, but since we don’t get Hershey’s in the UK, I used the generic British varieties. The frosting recipe is also from Hershey’s.

Ingredients

  •  2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Method

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
  • Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Bacon and Mushroom Quiche

I’ve decide to take some time off work, just a week but it feels like a big break. Taking some time off means some real indulgence time, and this means a time to catch up on what’s happening in the kitchen. For a starter, I decided to try making a quiche. As you can see from the picture, I am not the greatest at making quiche, but it’s a pretty good start. It was amazingly yummy! I based it on the recipe from the BBC. The recipe takes a little bit of time to make. The effort isn’t huge, but you need to keep refrigerating the pastry at a few points. The other option you have is to use shop bought pastry, which is much simpler, especially if you want to make this after work for dinner.

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 175g Plain Flour
  • 75g Butter
  • A little Water

Filling

  • 250g Cheddar Cheese (I used 4 slices of sliced cheese and 150g grated cheese)
  • 200g Bacon
  • 100g Mushrooms (I added these)
  • 5 Eggs (beaten)
  • 250ml Milk
  • Ground Black pepper
  • Fresh Thyme

Method

Making the Pastry

  • To make the pastry, sift the flour together with a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Rub in the butter until you have a soft breadcrumb texture. Add enough cold water to make the crumb mixture come together to form a firm dough, and then rest it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Roll out the pastry on a light floured surface and line a 22cm/8½inch well-buttered flan dish. Don’t cut off the edges of the pastry yet. Chill again.
  • Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
  • Remove the pastry case from the fridge and line the base of the pastry with baking parchment and then fill it with baking beans. Place on a baking tray and bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment and return to the oven for another five minutes to cook the base
  • Reduce the temperature of the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3.

The Filling

  • Line the pastry straight from the oven with the sliced cheese.
  • Fry the bacon pieces until crisp and cook the mushrooms in the remaining bacon fat
  • Sprinkle the Bacon, then add the mushrooms in a layer and sprinkle the remaining cheese.
  • Combine the eggs with the milk in a bowl and season well.
  • Pour over the bacon and cheese. Sprinkle the thyme over the top and trim the edges of the pastry.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool and set further.
  • Trim the pastry edges to get a perfect edge and then serve in wedges.

Oat Bran Banana Muffins

In another on my series of healthy option muffins, I’ve created a variation using Oat Bran. These are really good because they come out much blonder and not as sweet as some others. They also feel more like a treat than a healthy option. 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

For the mixing in this recipe, I just used a spoon, rather than using an electric mixer or a blender. It’s really quick and easy. 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F / 180°C / 150°C Fan assisted ovens. Line 6 muffin cups with muffin papers.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients.
  • Mix all the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, don’t over mix.
  • Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, dividing equally. 
  • Bake muffins until tops are golden brown and tester inserted into centre comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.

Apple Sponge Cupcakes with Custard Frosting

I love apple sponge, and I also love cupcakes that are made to taste like things that are not cupcakes.  So I decided to experiment and create a brand new kind of cupcake. Apple sponge cupcakes, and what apple sponge would be complete without custard? So I played around with a few combinations and came up with custard frosting.

Ingredients

Apple sponge cupcakes

  • 1 Bramley Apple
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 75g Caster Sugar
  • 55g Self-Raising Flour
  • 1 Egg

Custard Frosting

  • 40g Margarine
  • 110g Icing Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Custard Powder

Method

Preparing the apples

  • Peel and slice the apples into thin slices, then boil with the stick of cinnamon for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the water and allow to cool.

Making the Cupcakes

  • Line a cupcake tine with cupcake papers (makes about 6 cupcakes)
  • Mix together the caster sugar, flour and egg.
  • Place a small amount of batter in the bottom of the cupcake papers
  • Place a layer of apple
  • Now top with a layer of batter. Make sure you don’t fill the cupcake liners more than 3/4 full, this batter is prone to overflowing a little.
  • Bake in the oven for 15/20 minutes. While this is baking, you can start preparing your frosting.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes in the muffin tray before transferring to a wire rack.
  • Wait until the cupcakes are completely cool before frosting. The apple in these means that they take a little longer to cool.

Making the Frosting

  • Cream the margarine, icing sugar and custard powder together. My personal method for this is to cream it all together by hand first, and once its all combined, then use an electric mixer on it. I find it’s much easier to control the icing consistency and texture. If it isn’t creamy enough add a splash of milk and mix. 
Featured post

Lemon Cupcakes aka Little Drops of Sunshine

I am mad about these fresh little cupcakes for summer. they are bright and fresh and yummy. I based the recipe on a recipe from Stork, but halved the amounts to make smaller little cakes. These are beautiful and make either 6 normal size cupcakes, or about 8 small little ones. 

Ingredients

Lemon Cup Cakes

  • 57.5g (2 oz) Margarine/Butter
  • 57.5 (2 oz) castor sugar
  • 35g (2.5 oz) self-raising flour, sieved together with
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg, medium
  • Zest of 1/4 lemon
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Icing

  • 42.5g (1.5 oz) Margarine/Butter
  • 110g (4 oz) icing sugar, sieved
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Lemon zest to decorate

Method

Making the Cupcakes

  • Place all cake ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat with a wooden spoon for 2 – 3 minutes until well mixed. Place mixture in paper cases placed in a muffin tray, if you don’t have a muffin tray you can use double cupcake papers in a baking tray.
  • Bake in a preheated moderately hot oven at 180ºC, 160ºC fan, gas mark 4 on second shelf from top for 15 – 20 minutes until soft and springy to the touch. Cool on a wire tray.

Making the Icing

  • For the icing, place all ingredients together in a mixing bowl and beat together until smooth. Spread evenly over the cakes and decorate.

Wheat germ Apple Spice Muffins


These apple muffins are packed full of healthiness and goodness. I adapted these from the wheat germ banana muffins, and I think the are amazing. I have started having muffins for a great healthy breakfast on the go.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon All Spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat germ
  • 1 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 large Bramley/Cooking apples
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
  • 1/3 cup of oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Preheat oven to 400°F / 180°C / 150°C Fan assisted ovens (rather err on the side of slightly cooler, they burn easily). Line 12 muffin cups with muffin papers. You may want to spray non stick spray on the inside of the muffin papers to stop them sticking .

Chop one of the apples into small chunks. These will go straight into the mixture and need to be small enough to cook through in the muffins. Core and peel the other apple and blend it into a purée in a blender.

Sift the flour into medium bowl. Mix in wheat germ. Combine sugar, puréed apple, milk, eggs, yoghurt and vanilla extract in large bowl and whisk to blend. Mix in dry ingredients. Finally add the chunks of apples to the mixture and spoon into the muffin tins.

Bake muffins until tops are golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Featured post

Rhubarb Cupcakes

We have a giant rhubarb in our garden, and as part of my mission to try everything I decided to try making rhubarb cupcakes. I have never tried rhubarb before, and everything is better in cupcakes. Since making this, I love rhubarb. For anyone who has never tried rhubarb, its like a cross between grapefruit, strawberries and raspberries, kind of. Just try making these little loves and you’ll see. The recipe is from Sugar and Spice and all things Iced, which is probably the best blog name ever. 

Rhubarb Puree

  • About 4 cups of fresh or frozen rhubarb

Thaw rhubarb if necessary. Blend rhubarb in blender or food processor adding water if necessary. You should have about 2 cups of puree. Then simmer the rhubarb puree over low heat until it is reduced by half. It should make about 1 cup. You will use half in the cupcake batter and half in the frosting. (Just a hint, don’t lick the spoon when making the rhubarb puree, it’ll blow your head off)

Rhubarb Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

  •  1/2 cup rhubarb puree (directions follow)
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºF/150ºC Fan assisted. Prepare cupcake pan with liners.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a separate bowl combine the butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, milk, vanilla, and rhubarb puree and mix. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Pour into cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean). Cool on a wire rack. Frost when completely cool.

Rhubarb Frosting

I made only half of the frosting below and it was enough to cover all the cupcakes. And I have to admit I cheated slightly with the frosting, I added a teeny bit of red food colouring to get them properly pink.

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup cooked rhubarb puree, cooled (directions follow)
  • 5-6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat together butter, rhubarb puree, and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar until it reaches your desired consistency. Then frost the cooled cupcakes.

Wheat Germ and Banana Muffins (a healthy version of banana muffins)

I have always been a fan of bran muffins, and after a hunt through many different shops I found out that you can’t get plain bran, and that wheat germ is a much healthier option. It’s rich in vitamin E and lots of other healthy bits, and it’s high in fibre. That combined with banana muffins and it’s amazing. The original recipe is from epicurious, but I made some liberal changes that make them a tiny bit healthier and they are super yummy.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt or 1/3 cup of oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Preheat oven to 400°F / 180°C / 150°C Fan assisted ovens (rather err on the side of slightly cooler, they burn easily). Line 12 muffin cups with muffin papers, if you use yoghurt instead of oil, you will need to spray non stick spray on the inside of the muffin papers to stop them sticking (The original recipe said 16, but I like big muffins).

Sift the flour into medium bowl. Mix in wheat germ. Combine sugar, bananas, milk, eggs, yoghurt and vanilla extract in large bowl and whisk to blend. Mix in dry ingredients.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, dividing equally. The mixture is quite runny, but you can fill the muffin cups past 3/4 full and they aren’t likely to overflow.

Bake muffins until tops are golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Apple, Carrot and Walnut Muffins

 

If you were wondering where I’ve been, we moved house. I’m in the new house and the world is a wonderful place. The house is just perfect and we’ve been settling in well, except for the usual moving in issues (like figuring out how to stop the oven from burning everything). We’ve been gardening and started our very own vegetable patch with all our favourites, which includes carrots. With this in mind, I was looking for a simple yummy recipe for carrot muffins. This recipe is a bit fiddly, it seems really easy but it is super easy to mess up, I’ve tried this a few times before getting to the exact formula that works for me. It’s based on the recipe from Food.com with a few tweaks to make it work for me.

I apologise for the bad quality photo, I still need to unpack my camera and accessories.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup carrot, grated (about 4-5 medium carrots) If you are using a blender you just need to chop these into chunks that your blender can handle
  • 1 cup apple, peeled and grated (this is about 2 medium sized apples worth)  If you are using a blender, the apples just need to be peeled and cored
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C (around 180°C for fan assisted ovens).
  • I used my blender and blended the chopped carrots, apple pieces, spices, salt, sugar oil and eggs and blended until smooth.
  • I then mix it into a bowl with the remaining ingredients. If the mixture is dry grate in some extra carrot. This also gives the muffins a great chunky texture
  • Pour batter into greased or paper-lined muffin cups.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Featured post

Cheesecake Brownies

We’re moving house! While this is really exciting, it also means that I am going to put my baking on pause while we get ourselves moved and settled in. The good news though is that the new house has an amazing kitchen and I love it. Hopefully this means that I’ll be taking my baking to all new levels of amazing-ness. in the meantime, I made these Cheesecake Brownies, which as you can see didn’t turn out beautiful, but they are yummy. Recipe from the food network.

Ingredients

Cheesecake topping

  • 8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (I went to my local supermarket who had nothing called cream cheese, so I used marscapone. That’s why it turned out the way it did. I’ve researched online, and next time I’ll use Philadelphia)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg

Brownie Layer

  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method

Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line an 8 by 8-inch baking pan with foil so it hangs over the edges by about 1-inch. Spray with cooking spray.

Cheesecake topping

In a medium bowl and using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in the sugar and the vanilla until very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the egg until well blended. Set aside.

Brownie layer

Put the chocolate, butter, and oil in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat at 75 percent power for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave again until melted and smooth, about 30 seconds longer. (Alternatively, put the chocolate, butter, and oil in a small heatproof bowl. Bring a small saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, not touching, the water, and stir occasionally, until melted and smooth.)

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and cayenne in a medium bowl.

Combine the brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in the buttermilk, egg whites, and vanilla. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk vigorously until fully incorporated and the batter is thick and glossy. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir just until it disappears.

Reserve 1/2 cup brownie batter and set aside. Scrape the remaining brownie batter into the prepared pan. Pour the cheesecake mixture evenly. Drop the reserved brownie batter in large dollops over the topping. Draw the handle of a wooden spoon through the two batters to create a swirled effect. The next time I make this I’m going to swirl more.

Bake until the top is just set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Lift brownies out of the pan by the foil and peel off the foil. Spray a knife with cooking spray and cut into 2-inch squares. I don’t know what happened, but after baking my cheesecake has all but baked into the brownie mixture, I’m not really sure what happened. I may try baking this at a much cooler oven, or for a shorter time.

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

I’ve been meaning to add this recipe to my blog since its inception, however I just haven’t because it almost seems too simple. But It is delicious. It takes a little prep time, but nowhere near as much as baking bread does, and it is almost impossible to mess up. I also don’t really understand why people don’t make biscotti more often, it is delicious and super simple. The most complicated part is dealing with the doughy mixture and getting it onto the baking tray. Yes, this is another super sticky batter (see last week’s Challah Bread entry), but it is soooo worth it. 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 Cup (110 grams) whole almonds
  • 2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups (225 grams)  flour
  • 4 ounces (110 grams) chocolate (I use 1/2 chopped cooking chocolate and 1/2 chocolate chips)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 ºC

Preparing the almonds

Toast the almonds for 8-10 minutes or until brown and fragrant. While these are in the oven, coarsely chop the cooking chocolate. Remove from the oven let cool and chop coarsely, then line a baking sheet with parchment.

Making the dough

Beat the sugar, vanilla extract and eggs together for about 5 minutes. The mixture needs to be light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, sieve the flour, salt and baking powder together.

Add the eggs to the flour mixture and beat until combined. I found that this works best if you add the flour a little at a time to the egg mixture and beat with an electric mixer. Then when the mixer threatens to longer work, mix the final bit of flour and mix by hand.

Once all of the flour has been incorporated, carefully fold in the almonds and chocolate, a small amount at a time. It is important to not just dump all the almonds and chocolate in add once because you want to make sure that they are evenly distributed through the Biscotti.

Baking the Biscotti

Transfer the dough to the parchment sheet on your baking tray. You need form a long log as long about 30 cm long and 9 cm wide. This of course can vary based on the size of the biscotti you want. I sometimes like to make 2 long thin logs which make the perfect biscuits to serve with a dainty cup of tea.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until firm (like cake). Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. See how this works for you, I sometimes find I need to cool it for a little longer to be able to handle it.

Reduce the oven’s heat to 165 ºC.

Once cooled, transfer the biscotti log to a cutting board, replace the parchment on the baking tray and cut the biscotti at 2 cm slices diagonally.

Place the biscotti cut side down in the oven for 20 minutes (at the lower 165 ºC heat) turning half way.

Allow the biscotti to cool completely before serving and store in a cool airtight container, like a biscuit tin.

Featured post

Kitke Bread (also known as Challah Bread)

Growing up in South Africa, my grandmother used to buy us Kitke (or as I knew it as a child plaited bread). I loved it. The mere novelty of food being plaited just completely overwhelmed my childish brain. Kitke is a Jewish bread and for some reason is known as Kitke in South Africa and as Challah in the rest of the world. Hence why I found it almost impossible to find when we first moved to the UK. Of course, as part of this baking endeavor, I had to stretch myself and try it. The recipe I used is from The Shiksa in the Kitchen and the original can be found here (the plaiting instructions can be found here). I found this a pretty good recipe, but I found that I didn’t add enough flour, which made the dough very sticky to work with, and the bread didn’t have as much definition as I would have liked. It is however a good recipe, but the next time I make it I will tweak it a little. I have added my notes on what to tweak in italics.

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 1 ½ cups lukewarm water
  • 7 g packet of active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup of honey
  • 2 tbsp Canola Oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 ½ to 6 cups of plain flour (This is where the trouble started)

For the egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I may leave out the salt next time, I like the glaze to be slightly sweet)

Optional Toppings

Sesame Seeds, Poppy Seeds (and who wouldn’t want those)

Method

I’ve split the method into sections, just to keep track of where you are in the process. 

Activating the yeast

Pour ¼ cup of the lukewarm water (about 110 degrees) into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 packet of Active Dry Yeast and 1 tsp of sugar to the bowl, stir to dissolve. Wait 10 minutes. The yeast should have activated, meaning it will look expanded and foamy. If it doesn’t, your yeast may have expired, which means your bread won’t rise—go buy some fresh yeast!

Making the dough

Once your yeast has activated, add remaining 1 ¼ cup lukewarm water to the bowl along with the egg, egg yolks, honey, canola oil and salt. Use a whisk to thoroughly blend the ingredients together.

Begin adding the flour to the bowl by half-cupfuls, stirring with a large spoon each time flour is added. When mixture becomes too thick to stir, use your hands to knead. Continue to add flour and knead the dough until it’s smooth, elastic, and not sticky. The amount of flour you will need to achieve this texture varies—only add flour until the dough feels pliable and “right.” If you plan to add raisins or chocolate chips to the challah, incorporate into the dough as you knead.

This is the part where it all fell apart for me. I had no idea when to stop adding flour, and I was a little too cautious. I think the next time I will try the standard way for other dough and make a well in the flour and start adding the liquid to make a dough. I think I’ll start with 5 cups of flour and hope for the best! That being said, the recipe is great. I did still manage to make scrumptious kitke/challah, It just wasn’t the prettiest.

Place a saucepan full of water on the stove to boil.

Meanwhile, remove the dough from your mixing bowl and wash out the bowl. Grease the bowl with canola oil. Push the dough back into the bottom of the bowl, then flip it over so that both sides are slightly moistened by the oil.

First Dough Rise

Cover the bowl with a clean, damp kitchen towel. Place the bowl of dough on the middle rack of your oven. Take the saucepan full of boiling water and place it below the rack where your dough sits. Close the oven, but do not turn it on. The pan of hot water will create a warm, moist environment for your dough to rise. Let the dough rise for 1 hour. (By the way, this method of rising the dough is genius! It rose beautifully and I didn’t need to worry about if it was warm enough of if it didn’t have a draught, it was just amazing!)

Second Dough Rise

Take the dough bowl out and punch it down several times to remove air pockets. Place it back inside the oven and let it rise for 1 hour longer.

Kneading

Take the dough out of the oven. Flour a smooth surface like a cutting board. Punch the dough down into the bowl a few times, then turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Knead for a few minutes, adding flour as needed to keep the dough from feeling sticky. Now your dough is ready to plait braid.

I split my dough in half, and made 1 medium size loaf and about 8 medium size rolls.

Braiding a Challah/Kitke

Making the strands

My strands were a bit of a mess, the dough was too sticky and I needed up having to coat practically the entire kitchen in flour to make sure it didn’t stick. Braiding the loaf is simple enough, there are plenty of more complex ways of braiding, but the simplest is to braid the dough in the same way you would braid hair. 

For a simple braid, you need to split the dough it into 3 equal size portions. Then roll each section into strands. To roll strands, the Shiksa says:

Take one of the portions and roll it out with a rolling pin until it is flat and about 1/4 inch thick. Don’t worry about the shape of the dough, it doesn’t matter. Put the smaller part of the dough towards the top of your rolling surface, with the widest part towards the bottom.

Using both hands, put pressure on the rolling surface and pull the dough back towards you, rolling it back into a strand shape. Keep even pressure on the dough as you roll so that no air pockets collect in the strand.

Once your strand shape is created, roll it back and forth with both hands to erase the seams and smooth out the strand. As you roll, angle your hands outward and apply gentle pressure to taper the dough on the outer edges. By doing this, your strand should end up slightly thicker in the middle and thinner on the ends. This will help make your braided challah tapered at the ends, which creates a beautiful shape.

Further taper the strand by grasping one end between your two palms and gently rolling the dough back and forth. Repeat for the other end of the strand.

Braiding the Kitke / Challah

This is exactly the same as braiding hair. When I was a child and I first learned to braid hair, I eventually learned it by remembering that each of the 3 strands wants to be in the centre. So, connect the 3 strands at the end furthest from you. Then, place the left hand strand into the centre position. Next, place the strand that is now on the far right, in the centre and so on. If you get stuck, the easiest is to refer to the Shiksa’s article.

After you’ve braided your challah, place it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (this will catch any spills from your egg wash and keep your challah from sticking to the cookie sheet).

Note: I usually only put a single challah braid on a cookie sheet, since they tend to expand a lot when baking. (this was a brilliant tip)

Prepare your egg wash by beating the egg, salt and water till smooth. Use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of the mixture onto the visible surface of your challah. Reserve the leftover egg wash.

I put my sesame and poppy seed toppings on at this stage.

Let the Loaf Rise

Let the braid rise 30 to 45 minutes longer. You’ll know the dough is ready to bake when you press your finger into the dough and the indentation stays, rather than bouncing back.

Preheating and First Bake

Heat oven to 350 °F / 175 ºC. The challah needs to bake for about 40 minutes total, but to get the best result the baking should be done in stages. First, set your timer to 20 minutes and put your challah in the oven.

After 20 minutes, take the challah out of the oven and coat the center of the braid with another thin layer of egg wash. This area tends to expand during baking, exposing areas that will turn white unless they are coated with egg wash.

Second Bake

Turn the tray around, so the opposite side is facing front, and put the tray back into the oven. Turning the tray helps your challah brown evenly—the back of the oven is usually hotter than the front.

The challah will need to bake for about 20 minutes longer. For this last part of the baking process, keep an eye on your challah—it may be browning faster than it’s baking. Once the challah is browned to your liking, take the tray out and tent it with foil, then place it back in the oven. Remove the foil for the last 2 minutes of baking time.

Take the challah out of the oven. At this point your house should smell delicious. You can test the bread for doneness by turning it over and tapping on the bottom of the loaf—if it makes a hollow sound, it’s done. Let challah cool on the baking sheet or a wire cooling rack before serving.

This recipe will make 1 very large challah, 2 regular challahs, or 24 mini challah rolls.

Chocolate Loaf Cake

This is one of the recipe’s that is near the front of my recipe book. I’ve had it for ages, and I can remember at one point in high school I would use this to make all sorts of variations. This particular variation is the chocolate loaf cake. I am used to this recipe having cracks in the top, but my oven clearly doesnt circulate the heat very well and thus my loaf cakes tend to have a lopsided crack like this one.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Soft Butter/margarine (not melted)
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
  • 1 1/4 Cups Self Raising Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Cocoa
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt

Method

My original recipe says mix all the ingredients for 3 minutes and pour into the baking tin. I’m changing it slightly because that’s impractical.

Grease the loaf tin and preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C.

Beat the butter, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla essence until it is smooth.

Mix the remaining dry ingredients together, then add the liquid mixture stirring with a spoon/spatula.Once the ingredients are combined, beat with a mixer for 3 minutes.

Pour into the greased loaf tin and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Medium Rye Bread

After last week’s rye bread, I wanted to try again, but vary it to be a medium rye. To be honest I’m not really sure if it’s doing what it is supposed to, even if it is really yummy.

Ingredients

  • 175ml full-fat milk
  • 175ml water
  • 2 tbsp dark soft brown sugar (I used Demerara sugar because that’s what I had in the house)
  • 1 x 7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast
  • 350g rye flour
  • 100g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tbsp fine sea salt
  • sunflower oil, for greasing

Method

Put the milk, water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat very gently, stirring constantly, for just a few seconds until the liquid is lukewarm and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into a bowl.

Stir in the yeast and leave for 10 minutes until there is a light froth floating on the surface.

Put all the flour, rye and white, in a large bowl, stir in the salt, then make a well in the centre. Pour the warm yeast mixture on to the flour and mix with a wooden spoon and then your hands to form a soft, spongy dough. (Because of the warm of the yeast mixture and the stickiness of the mixture initially, it is quite gross, but really funny if you have the sense of humour of a 10 year old)

Turn the dough out on to a well-floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.

Put the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely with oiled cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for about 1½ hours or until it has doubled in size. (I placed mine in the warm kitchen with the tumble dryer going, and it worked really well)

Put the dough on a floured work surface and knock it back with your knuckles, then knead for another minute.

Shape the dough into a fat oval or round loaf, pulling the dough from the top and sides and tucking it underneath to make a neat shape.

Place the loaf on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and score the surface 4 times with a sharp knife. Cover it loosely with the oiled cling film and leave to prove for a further 40–50 minutes until it has doubled in size once more.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Bake the loaf in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes or until it is well risen and the base sounds hollow when tapped sharply. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving

Light Rye Bread

I love rye bread, but baking bread is not something I have ever done. Somehow using yeast and letting it rise is a bit magical to me. I don’t know how to knead and I have no idea. But watching the new series of the Hairy Bikers (the Hairy Biker’s Bakeation) making rye bread looks really easy, that coupled with the fact that I haven’t yet found a yummy rye bread in the UK meant that I had to take up the challenge.

Ingredients

  • 175ml full-fat milk
  • 175ml water
  • 2 tbsp dark soft brown sugar (I used Demerara sugar because that’s what I had in the house)
  • 1 x 7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast
  • 250g rye flour
  • 200g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds (I didn’t use caraway seeds because I forgot to buy them)
  • sunflower oil, for greasing

Method

Put the milk, water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat very gently, stirring constantly, for just a few seconds until the liquid is lukewarm and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into a bowl.

Stir in the yeast and leave for 10 minutes until there is a light froth floating on the surface.

Put all the flour, rye and white, in a large bowl, stir in the salt and caraway seeds, then make a well in the centre. Pour the warm yeast mixture on to the flour and mix with a wooden spoon and then your hands to form a soft, spongy dough.

Turn the dough out on to a well-floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic. Kneading this dough can be hard work so you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and give it some welly.

Put the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely with oiled cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for about 1½ hours or until it has doubled in size.

I put my bowl in the living room, while I watched some TV. The living room is warmer and in my mind I thought it woudl be better than the cold kitchen. 

Put the dough on a floured work surface and knock it back with your knuckles, then knead for another minute.

Shape the dough into a fat oval or round loaf, pulling the dough from the top and sides and tucking it underneath to make a neat shape.

Place the loaf on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and score the surface 4 times with a sharp knife. Cover it loosely with the oiled cling film and leave to prove for a further 40–50 minutes until it has doubled in size once more.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Bake the loaf in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes or until it is well risen and the base sounds hollow when tapped sharply. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

My first attempt at Lemon Meringue Pie

This is my first ever attempt at a lemon meringue pie. The irony of this is that I didn’t even really know if I like meringue. But I did it. I’ve learned lots and I wouldn’t be doing myself any justice if I didn’t post it here. Let me warn you, this is a complicated recipe, but it was the simplest one I found and can be found here. It involves making pastry, making the curd and making the meringue. It is awesome fun though, so make yourself comfortable and start baking. The meringue turnout out beautifully (if not the prettiest, but it tasted amazing.

Ingredients

For the sweet shortcrust pastry

  •  225g/8oz plain white flour
  •  pinch salt
  •  110g/4oz cold unsalted butter, cubed
  •  2 tsp caster sugar
  •  1 medium free-range egg yolk

For the lemon curd

  •  100g/3½oz caster sugar
  •  7 tbsp cornflour
  •  4 large lemons, zest and juice only
  •  6 free-range egg yolks
  •  100g/3½oz unsalted butter, melted

 For the meringue

  •  6 medium free-range egg whites
  •  300g/10½oz caster sugar

 Method

For the pastry

Notes: Don’t overwork the pastry when you take it out of the fridge,  it needs to stay as cold as possible, so before putting it in the fridge, roll it out a little (into the size of a dinner plate) before putting it in the fridge.

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the butter to the flour and then rub between your fingertips until a fine breadcrumb consistency is achieved.
  3. Add the sugar to the flour and butter. Using your hands, mix to a firm dough with the egg yolk and a splash of cold water.
  4. Wrap the dough in cling film and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before using.
  5. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5 and grease a 22cm/9in fluted loose-bottomed tin. Place the tin onto a baking tray.
  6. Roll out the pastry until it’s big enough to generously fit the tin, leaving excess pastry falling over the sides of the tin onto the baking tray underneath the tin – don’t trim at this stage. (I had about half the pastry left over, but to be fair I did use a smaller tin)
  7. Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Now trim the excess pastry using a sharp knife. Bake the pastry case blind for about 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is pale golden and dried out – remove the paper and beans for the last five minutes. Lower the oven heat to 150C/300F/Gas 2.

For the Lemon Curd

Notes: Don’t add too much water to the cornflour mixture, and when I used an electric mixer it splattered all over the kitchen. I think the next time I will just mix the mixture with a spoon to make sure it stays smooth. Also, carefully keep an eye on the curd when it’s on the heat, for a while it seems like nothing is happening and it solidifies quickly, just keep stirring and it’ll be fine. 

  1. Meanwhile, for the lemon curd, mix together the sugar, cornflour and enough water to make a paste, in a large bowl.
  2. Bring 50ml/2fl oz water and the lemon zest to the boil in a small pan
  3. Gradually pour the hot liquid onto the cornflour and sugar, whisking all the time until smooth.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks, lemon juice and butter. Return to the pan. Cook over a low heat, stirring all the time, until thickened.
  5. Pour into the baked blind pastry case and leave to cool slightly.

For the Meringue

I didn’t pipe the meringue on, I just plopped in on with a spoon and smoothed it out and I still had loads of meringue left over. I think next time I will make less meringue. Also, not matter how tempting, do not open the oven while the meringue is in, that is what caused mine to crack.  When it’s done, switch off the oven and leave the meringue in the oven to cool. 

  1. For the meringue, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric whisk until they form stiff peaks.
  2. Whisk in the caster sugar, a spoonful at a time, whisking well and at a high speed between each addition.
  3. Transfer the meringue into a piping bag (with a plain nozzle) and pipe the meringue on top of the lemon curd.
  4. Bake for about 35-45 minutes until the meringue is crisp on the outside and soft and marshmallow-like underneath.

Super Chocolate Muffins

A super Chocolate MuffinI am a lover of chocolate, but I am nothing compared to the crazy chocolate lover in my house. She’s been having a bit of a hard time at work, so I decided to bake these little treats to cheer her up. Of course, when going hunting for recipes, I go straight to Pinterest. I logged onto Pinterest, searched for chocolate muffins, and found the most yummy looking ones. I tried them out as soon as I could and here they are. As usual I’ve added my notes and comments on what I did when making them, but the original recipe can be found here. Let me just preface the recipe by saying it is a bit complicated, but well worth it.

Ingredients

  • ¾ stick (85g) Unsalted butter (I used baking margarine)
  • 4 ounces (115 g) chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used milk chocolate)
  • 2 cups (256g) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (134g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (43g)  unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (I couldn’t find unsweetened cocoa powder, so I used 1/2 Bourneville cocoa, 1/2 normal cocoa)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder (this seemed like a lot, but I did double check and it is what the recipe says)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 284ml buttermilk (a standard size tub)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Equipment:

  • 12-cup muffin pan

Method:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 °F (190 °C). Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular size muffin pan or fit with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Melt the butter and half the chopped chocolate together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients and the melted butter and chocolate over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Do not overmix the batter. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. (I was pleasantly surprised that it actually did make 12 standard size muffins)

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

Banana Nut Muffins

All my love for banana bread is transferred into these smaller yummy versions with nuts. At least with these I can convince myself that they’re a little healthy because bananas are good for you. And you don’t need a mixer for it. I love recipes where I can use a spatula or wooden spoon to mix by hand because they make me feel all home-makery (which I am very far from). The original recipe is here, but I’ve amended and added as usual.

Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (toasted or raw)

Equipment

  • 12-cup muffin pan

Method

Prepare the muffin tin. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.
Mix in the sugar, egg and vanilla.
Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.
Add the flour, mix until it is just incorporated, don’t over mix. Fold in the chopped walnuts.
Pour mixture into a prepared muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Recipe makes 12 standard size muffins.

Little Biscuit Gems

I discovered these little biscuits Christmas of 2011 at epicurious. I’ve made a few tweaks and updated the recipes here because I need to have a central home for all of my kitchen wonders. These cookies are really yummy and the dough keeps for a few days in the fridge, so you don’t have to spend hours making cookies, you have spread it out over a few days. I also try to be a bit creative with the cookies and made them into various shapes, and various shapes of jam dots with varying success.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups (320g) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) salt
  • 230g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • About 2 tablespoons raspberry jam
  • About 2 tablespoons apricot jam
  • About 2 tablespoons strawberry jam

Equipment

  • a 1/2-inch-thick wooden spoon handle or dowel

Make dough:

Whisk together flour and salt. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until very pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes, then beat in egg and vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches just until a dough forms. Divide dough in 3 and form each piece into a 6-inch disk, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 1 hour.

Assemble and bake cookies:

Preheat oven to 180°C with rack in middle. Line 1 large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll 3 separate level teaspoons of dough each into a ball. I found that with the dough being as cold and difficult to manage, it also works to cut the dough into cubes and then roll into little balls. Then flatten each ball slightly (to 1 inch wide and less than 1/2 inch thick). Arrange the three balls in a triangle on baking sheet with edges touching in center, then make a deep indentation in center of each round with wooden spoon handle. Make more cookies, arranging them 1 inch apart on baking sheets.

Fill indentations in each cookie with about 1/8 teaspoon jam (each cookie should have 3 different fillings).  Found that if you keep the jam as cold as possible, it’s quite easy to fill the indentations using a 1/4 teaspoon measure, but filling it halfway and then wrangling the jam out into the indentation.

Bake until cookies are baked through and golden-brown on edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. If you move them too soon they just fall apart).

Bake more batches on cooled baking sheets lined with fresh parchment.

Photo from the original epicurious recipe.

Banana Bread

I find banana bread so much more satisfying than muffins. it has a warm rustic, homely feel to it. This is a family recipe from when I was a child. I can remember we always used to double up the quantities and make 2 loaves because invariable we’ll have eaten one while it was still warm straight out the over.

The best way to have it while it’s still warm with loads of butter.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (115g) butter/margarine
  • 3/4 cup (170g) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 bananas
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) milk
  • 2 cups (220g) plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat Oven to 180C/375F

In a large bowl, cream butter and slowly add sugar, continue beating while adding the eggs one by one. Set mixture aside.

In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with a fork (they should be mashed roughly), then mix in the milk.

Sieve the flour and other dry ingredients together and then add alternately with the banana mixture to the butter mixture. I mix this with a wooden spoon to make sure it isn’t over mixed.

Pour the batter into a loaf tin and bake for 55 minutes at 180 C.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: