Monday, 28 May 2012

Chocolate and raspberry tart

This weekend I went on a patisserie course, a whole day of pastry making! I had pastry for lunch and brought home sooo much of the stuff. Thankfully pastry does keep in the fridge/freezer so I do not have to attempt to eat it all and fall into a pastry induced coma.

Saying that one of the things that I made was a chocolate and raspberry tart with pate sucree pastry as the case.

This does have to be eaten soon after making, and trust me this is no hardship. This tart is beyond delicious. A sweet pastry base, encasing tart raspberries and a smooth rich chocolate ganache. One word. Yum. It is originally a Michael Roux recipe I think.

Sorry I do not have pictures of the process, I was not able to take them on the day. I will describe the process the best I can and when I next make this pastry I will add pictures.

Chocolate and Raspberry tart

For the pate sucree

110g plain flour
pinch of salt
55g unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
55g sugar
2 egg yolks
tsp vanilla paste

For the filling

250g raspberries
250ml whipping cream
200g good quality dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids)
25g liquid glucose
50g butter, cut into small pieces

First make the pastry. Sift the flour with the salt on to the work surface. Make a huge well in the centre. There wants to be no flour at all in this well. Put the butter in the well, place the sugar, egg yolks and vanilla paste onto the butter.

Using the fingertips of one hand, mix the butter, yolks and sugar together until it is well mixed and looks a little like scrambled eggs. Do not get flour in the mix just yet. The best way I can describe the mixing of this is to imagine that your fingertips are a hen and you are 'pecking' the butter etc.

When you have a nice smooth mixture flick the flour over the butter using a palette knife. Use the side of the palette knife to cut the mixture, as if you were chopping herbs,when the mix is uniformly yellow bring together into a rough ball, still on the work surface, then use the palette knife to smear a little of the mixture away from you. Keep smearing the mixture along the work surface until it has all been smeared to a smooth paste. 

Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 190C/170C FAN. Roll out the pastry to a round ~2mm thick and use to line a lightly greased 20cm flan ring (2.5cm deep) or a loose bottomed tart tin, you could also uses individual tart tins. The most important thing is that the sides need to be quite high to encase the filling.

When lining the tin ease in the pastry and press lightly into the corners, do not pull or stretch, this could cause the pastry to shrink. Before baking trim the pastry and then pinch the pastry so that it sits just above the tin, this should help prevent shrinkage.

Prick the base of the pastry case and blind bake it for 20 minutes. Lower the oven by 10C, remove the beans and paper and bake the case for another 5 minutes.

Leave to cool for 1 minute then remove from the tin and leave the pastry case to cool completely on a wire rack.

Once the case is cool half enough of the raspberries to cover the base of the pastry case.

Bring the cream to the boil over a medium heat. Take the cream off the heat and add the chocolate and liquid glucose, and mix with a whisk to a very smooth cream (note just mix with the whisk, do not beat, you do not want bubbles). Keep mixing and add the butter a piece at a time until it is all incorporated. 

Pout the ganache over the raspberries to fill the pastry case. Set aside to chill in the fridge for at least two hours before serving.

Use a knife dipped in hot water and dried to slice the tart. Serve the tart with the reserved raspberries that are left. ENJOY!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Hazelnut brownies

In my previous post I mentioned entering alpha bakes, this month the letter is H and I made hazelnut macarons. However this meant I had nutella and hazelnuts left over. Not really a bad thing I suppose, but it is when I can eat nutella from the jar. Weirdly I used to hate it but I am making up for that now! So to stop raiding the jar with a teaspoon I decide to use up the nutella in a baking venture.

By chance I had also found a bar of dark chocolate left over from something ages ago. I decided that I should use up all my leftovers, after all, waste not want not, and made Hazelnut brownies.

Hazelnut brownies

200g dark chocolate
175g butter
200g caster sugar
100g brown sugar
115g plain flour
15g cocoa powder
3 large eggs
Chopped hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 170oC/fan 150oC and line a brownie pan with baking parchment.

Melt the chocolate and butter until smooth (I did this in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water).

Once melted, remove the butter chocolate mix from the heat and stir in the sugar until fully incorporated.

Add the flour and cocoa powder to the bowl and mix until combined.

Beat the eggs lightly with a fork and add to the bowl, mix until smooth and then finally stir through the chopped hazelnuts. I was using leftovers so did not weigh them, add as many as you like for texture. Reserve some to sprinkle on top. 

Pour half the mixture into the prepared pan and add dollops of nutella, swirl these a bit with a knife. Add the remaining brownie batter on top. Blob on more nutella and swirl.

 Finish with a scattering of chopped hazelnuts and cook for 30-35 minutes until lightly flaky on top but not overcooked.

Leave to cool in the pan and then chop into chunks.

Quick confession, I only had 175g of dark chocolate and figured they would be fine. Which they are, no major disasters. Having said that the texture is different to that of my Oreo brownies. They are not quite as fudgy, a little lighter more cakey. They are not a cake, they are a brownie but the difference is definitely there. I like a fudgy brownie so that will teach me not to be lazy and go get more chocolate from the corner shop!

Saying that these are delicious, dark chocolate and hazelnut makes for the quite the sophisticated brownie. If I were to make these again, not using up leftovers, I would probably put in some chunkier chopped hazelnuts for more of a texture contrast.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Cookies and cream cookies

The amazing Kelly from american cupcake in london has a recipe for a cookie that cannot help but cheer you up.

I was having one of those days. I had gotten up at the crack of dawn to get to work super early so that I could fit everything I wanted/needed to do into my day. The Edinburgh weather however had other ideas and decided to wreck the roof of my flat, cue water coming through the bathroom ceiling. Cue having to abandon work and cue worrying whether the roofer could sort it out.

So to let out the stress and anger I could either smash plates (expensive) or oreos (potentially delicious). I had stumbled on this recipe a while back and it popped back into mind. I had all the ingredients except oreos, nothing a quick trip to the corner shop did not solve, and so I was good to go.

I defy anyone to not be cheered up by these cookies, they certainly made my day a lot better (that and the roofer fixing the problem, yay!)

I could wax lyrical about these cookies for ages but I shall simply say they are absolutely lovely. TRY THEM! If you want to recipe you can find it here.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Hazelnut macarons

So I decided to be brave and try and figure out how on earth to make macarons in the oven in my new flat. A daunting experience as I had only just worked my old oven out! As it turns out the ovens are total opposites, the first was a bit cold and the one now is a bit hot.

Having decided to make macarons my next issue was what flavour to make. I was reading Ros's, from the more than occasional baker, blog and happened upon alpha bakes. This is a monthly blog event hosted, in turn, by Ros and Caroline, of Carolinemakes, wherein a letter is chosen at random and people submit entries with ingredients or bakes themed around that letter.  

This months alpha bake is hosted by Caroline and the letter for this month is H and so I decided to make my macarons flavoured with one of my favourite nuts, the hazelnut and enter alpha bakes for the first time.

Hazelnut Macarons 

2 large egg whites (80g of egg whites)
pinch cream of tarter
30g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste

33g ground almonds
33g ground hazelnuts
132g icing sugar

chopped hazelnuts

First of all I prepared my baking sheets, I lined them with baking parchment and then used a round pastry cutter to draw little templates. This makes a huge difference look at my neat same sized macarons!

I could not find ground hazelnuts so I simply pounded my chopped hazelnuts in a pestle and mortar. They grind up in no time at all. 

Mix the icing sugar and ground nuts together and set aside.

In a spotlessly clean bowl whisk the egg whites with the cream of tarter until stiff peaks are just beginning to form. At this point keep whisking and add in the caster sugar, a teaspoon at a time, until the mix is stiff and glossy. Add in the vanilla paste and whisk until incorporated. 

Add the icing sugar and nut  mix to the bowl of egg whites and fold in with a spatula. You need to mix enough so that the macaron batter can flow from the spatula 'like lava' BUT be careful not to over mix or your macarons will spread too much when they are piped.

Put the macaron batter into a piping bag fitted with a round tip. I stand my piping bag in a glass for easy filling. I would have taken a photo but piping batter is sticky and has a life of its own, to take a photo I would need at least 3 hands!

Pipe macarons ~5cm in diameter on your prepared baking sheets, making sure to leave room between them.  Give the baking sheets a sharp tap on the work surface to eliminate air bubbles. The macarons must be left, preferably in a warm place, until they have formed a skin. That is, when you lightly touch them, they should not be tacky. Allowing your macarons to form a skin is very important as when your macarons bake it will allow them to have the elusive feet! A skin can take anything from 15 minutes to an hour to form. Be patient!

Look feet!
In a recipe I have I am told to bake my macarons at 170C/150 FAN for ten minutes. This does not work for me. At 150 in my fan oven the tops of my macarons are a little too brown after 10 minutes and the inside is not fully cooked so they fall apart. I have found that I need my oven at 140 and I need to cook my macarons for 13-14 minutes. I am afraid its trial and error. Basically if they are burnt your oven is too hot and of they fall apart when you try and assemble them they needed longer in the oven.   

Leave them to cool completely on the baking sheet. Removing them too early could result in them falling apart.

When they are totally cool sandwich together with nutella. 

Keep your macarons in the fridge, though it is nice to let them get up to room temp for a few minutes before eating them. Macarons will last a few days in the fridge and actually get more lovely a day after making.

So these are my first ever entry for alpha bakes. If you wish to join in check out either Ros or Caroline's site for the instructions and get creative!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Garibaldi biscuits

I was very very excited to get my newest baking book through the post, Biscuit, by Miranda Gore Browne, finalist from the Great British Bake Off.

There are so many delicious looking biscuits in there that it is going to take some restraint to not make them al at once.

Weirdly the first biscuits that I made were not planned, I had the sudden urge to make something, as all the tins in the house were empty. However it was raining outside and so ideally it had to be something I could make with my limited supplies.

Garibaldi biscuits were the winners, they used currants which were the only thing a had 1000s of. They also used icing sugar instead of caster sugar which was perfect as I had no caster sugar.

For such a simple little biscuit they taste amazing and disappeared remarkably fast out of my biscuit tin!

Garibaldi biscuits

makes 20 (well depends on how big you cut them I suppose!)

75g softened butter
75g icing sugar
1 egg separated
200g plain flour
100g currants
1 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 180C/160 FAN and line two baking sheets with non stick baking paper. 

Cream the butter and sugar together, add the egg white and flour and mix until a dough forms. Gently knead the dough into a ball and divide into two equal pieces.

Flour a work surface and roll out both pieces of dough to 5mm.  Put one piece on a sheet of greaseproof paper and cover with the fruit.

 Place the other piece of dough on the top and gently press down with your hands. Next gently use a rolling pin to roll the double layer as thin as possible. If the fruit starts peeping through, stop rolling and patch up with your fingers.

Trim the edges straight and cut into smallish squares. 

Beat the egg yolk with the milk and brush generously over the squares. Place on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 15-20mins until golden and shiny on top.

Leave to cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mini Victoria sponges

I love Victoria sponge, a very unassuming looking cake that tastes delicious. I am not a huge traditionalist over my Victoria sandwich though,  and if I want cream in it I shall put cream in it (Sorry ladies of the WI).

As much as I love it, I do not have it as much as I would perhaps like, so often it is eclipsed my another more showy cake when offered in a tea room/bakery/cafe. Secondly to make a whole one between two is wasteful as, if the cream does get put in, we cannot possibly finish it in time.

Enter Lakeland and their solutions to most baking dilemmas. The mini Victoria sponge tin with loose bottoms for easy removal of the cakes.

The tin without the bottoms in. 
A 3 egg Victoria sponge mix will make all 12, or you could use 2 eggs for 8 cakes or 1 egg for 4. It is the perfect solution to my problems, not to mention that the finished mini cakes are just so darn cute! I have said this before but why are small versions of their larger counterparts so adorable?

Mini Victoria sponges

makes 12

3 large eggs, weighed in their shells
The weight of the eggs in room temp butter
The weight of the eggs in caster sugar
tsp vanilla paste/extract
The weight of the eggs in self raising flour

Preheat the oven to 170C/150C FAN. 

Weigh the eggs in the shells and set aside. Ito a bowl add the same weight of butter and caster sugar. For example if your eggs come to 190g weigh out 190g of both butter and sugar. Add the vanilla to the bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together, using an electric mixer, for 5 minutes until very light and fluffy.
Look how pretty the vanilla paste is
Weigh the flour into a separate bowl (again the same weight as the eggs). Add the eggs one at a time to the butter mix, along with a spoonful of the weighed flour. Mix until combined. Repeat with the two remaining eggs, adding a spoonful of the weighed flour each time. Add the rest of the flour and mix, make sure everything is combined but do not over mix at this point. 

Divide your mix between the mini tins. If you do not have mini tins you could use a greased cake tin, the base of which should be lined with baking paper, or parchment.

Put the cakes in the oven for 20-25 minutes (for a full sized cake leave for 30-35 minutes).

Once done allow to cool for a minute or two in the tin then transfer the cakes to a wire rack to completely cool. 
Once cool the cakes can be split and filled with a filling of your choice. This time I chose cream and jam.

I whipped my cream with vanilla paste until softly whipped then divided into two bowls. In one bowl I added a good 2 tbsps of blueberry jam, and in the other strawberry jam. I continued beating until the jam was combined.

I spread half the cakes with blueberry jam and the other with strawberry. I then added a heaped teaspoon of the corresponding cream onto the cakes.

Adding some jam to the cream, naturally flavours it and dyes it pretty colours.

The strawberry cream is especially delicious, I ate the leftovers with a spoon straight from the bowl!

You could of course just use jam to sandwich your cakes. Or jam and buttercream. Or cream and fresh berries. Or chocolate spread. In fact the possibilities are endless. Why don't you get creative?

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Lemon and coconut squares

So I asked M if I should bake biscuits, cupcakes or a traybake. He said traybake, excellent I thought, I  had wanted to try out blondies with pecans and peanut butter chips. Alas he did not really want nuts and thought that brownies made with white chocolate would be too sickly sweet.

So back to the drawing board. He then said he remembered something from his childhood. A lemon coconut square thing. He remembered it had lemon and coconut and that it was really nice.

So working on limited information I tweaked a lemon square recipe, adding coconut to the biscuity base. Upon eating them they were declared yummy but not like the ones from his youth. These, in fact, we have worked out seem to have a 15 (digestive, marshmallow, coconut and condensed milk) base topped with more of a lemon icing, not a baked curd. I will never make these as 15s are so excruciatingly sweet that it hurts, and with more sugary icing on top I think I would have a hyperglycaemic attack! And so I am afraid it is my lemon coconut hybrid that will have to be put up with. And yes I do see the irony that he will eat the sugar fests of his youth but not a white chocolate brownie. Mind you he has said he is willing to be proved wrong.

The recipe below produces lovely lemon squares, the curd is definitely lemony enough, and the coconut adds a welcome different dimension to the shortbread style base.

Lemon Coconut squares

For the base:

230g plain flour
85g icing sugar
160g butter
100g dessicated coconut

For the topping:

3 lemons
4 large eggs
400g caster sugar
50g plain flour

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan and line the sides and base of your tin with baking parchment. A brownie pan is the perfect size.

Put the base ingredients into a food processor and whiz until it forms fine crumbs. Tip into the prepared tin and smoothly level with the back of spoon, ,pressing it down lightly. Bake for 20-25 minutes. 

For the topping finely grate the zest of the lemons, and squeeze all the juice, you need 100-120ml. Whisk together the eggs and sugar, using an electric whisk for 1 minute. Add the zest and juice and whisk briefly to mix. Add the flour and whisk well to mix.

Pour the topping over the base and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the topping has just set.
The topping about to go into the oven
Leave to cool completely in the tin. I had to cover with foil and put it in the fridge overnight.

Lift out of the tin using the paper and dust with icing sugar. Cut into bars and enjoy.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Bacon Scones

Lets get one thing straight. These are not your normal, knock up in 10 minutes and enjoy warm from the oven scones. They take time. There is rising and kneading and more rising. They contain things a scone does not normally contain such as yeast and sour cream. If you persevere however you will be rewarded with very flavoursome, light scones with a super crust.

These scones are from the Hairy Bikers big book of baking. It is important to not miss out the caraway seeds as they are what give this scone is absolutely fantastic flavour.

Bacon Scones

makes 12

60ml milk (I used semi skimmed)
1 sachet instant dried yeast (I only had back bacon, it worked fine)
250g streaky bacon chopped 
500g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tbsp caraway seeds
120g unsalted butter
2 large eggs beaten
120ml soured cream
beaten egg and drop to water to glaze

Fry the bacon bits until crisp and set aside to cool.

Sift the flour into a bowl and mix in the yeast, baking powder, salt and caraway seeds. 

Put the butter into a pan over a gentle heat and melt until it is just liquid. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the soured cream and the eggs, make sure the butter is not too hot or the eggs will scramble. Add the cooled crispy bacon and the milk.

Don't panic, it does not look pretty, it will all be fine!
Pour the buttery mix into the flour a little at a time, constantly mixing to bring the dough together. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until elastic. 

Put the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film, and leave in a draught free place for about an hour and a half until it has double in size.

Turn the dough out and knock it back with your knuckles. Dust the dough with flour and roll out to ~4cm thick. Cut out rounds and place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

 Use a sharp knife to cut a criss cross pattern on the top and then leave to rest for a further 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200/fan 180.

Brush the scones with the beaten egg and water to glaze and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.  

These scones are fabulous warm from the oven and served with soup. Alternatively you could serve them warm and slathered in butter. If you don't eat them all at once they are perfectly good reheated in the oven for ~ 10 minutes the next day.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Custard and White chocolate biscuits

I like custard. I like white chocolate. I like biscuits. So a biscuit proudly claiming to be all 3, has most definitely got to be tried.

By strange coincidence I have read a lot of recipes this past week that contain custard powder, this just reminds me of home, especially Christmas, when out would come the birds custard powder, ready to make custard for the Christmas pud! Although I love custard I do not really buy it, but when I do I must admit I am lazy and buy fresh ready made stuff. So I hunted out the custard powder and was very excited to find it in a tin very similar to ones I remember from my youth. And now I have a huge tin it gives me a very good excuse to make the other recipes!

Nostalgia at its best
This was another find in good food magazine.

Custard and white chocolate biscuits

makes 20-25

140g softened butter
175g caster sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used paste)
225 self raising flour
85g custard powder
85g white chocolate chopped into small chunks

Preheat the oven to 180/fan 160. Line 2-3 baking sheets with baking parchment.

Put the butter and sugar into a food processor and whiz until light and fluffy. Alternatively use an electric mixer. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. 

Mix the flour and custard powder in a bowl and add to the mix, pulse until a dough is formed. Scrape the dough from the processor and work in the chocolate by hand. 

The dough is SO orange, thanks to the custard powder
Roll the dough into small balls, I used my tablespoon as a guide, and place on the baking sheets., spaced a little apart to allow for spreading. Press each biscuit lightly down with your fingers. 

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

My biscuits seem a little deeper than he picture implies, I think next time I  will press them down just a little more.

These little biscuits are very nice, they certainly got eaten quickly enough. The recipe says that they will keep well in an airtight tin for up to two weeks. Now I do not think that they will  last that long, and also I think unless your tin is super airtight they will change texture over time.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Apple crumble loaf cake

Combining two lovely things, apple crumble and cake, it has to be a winning combination.
This particular recipe jumped out from the pages of this months good food magazine, from all the delicious looking recipes this one was positively screaming to be made first.

I did have to make a couple of slight tweaks. Firstly it had raisins in, now I like raisins, I like them by themselves, smothered in chocolate or yoghurt, with nuts and in biscuits but I am not a fan of them in cakes. Besides which, when is there ever raisins in apple crumble? So I took them out. I have included them in the recipe list should you wish to put them in yourselves.

Secondly I had just purchased mini loaf tins, have you noticed how everything small is cute, even if its larger counterpart is not so? Anyway I wanted to use them so halved the recipe to make 2 cute mini loafs.

The cake itself is a very easy to eat cake, there is no creamy icings or rich chocolate, it is a delicious but slightly less indulgent treat. The cake is very light but has a very soft texture, not dry at all, thanks to the apples I presume, and the crunchy topping with the hazelnuts is absolutely fantastic.

Apple crumble loaf cake

For the loaf:

140g butter
250g self raising flour
2 tsps mixed spice
140g light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 apples peeled and chopped
5 tbsps milk
100g raisins (optional)

For the crumble:

25g butter
25g plain flour
25g brown sugar
25g chopped hazelnuts

Grease and line a 2 litre loaf tin with baking parchment and preheat your oven to 160/fan 140. I always line the bottom of my cake tins no matter how "non stick" they are. If my tins are very non stick so I feel no need to line the sides, this has always worked so far for me.

I have to admit I have no idea if a 2 litre loaf tin is similar to a 1lb tin or a 2lb tin. I presume it is a 2lb tin but Google has failed me in this simple conversion. I halved the recipe and got two mini loafs.

Pop the butter, self raising flour and mixed spice into a food processor and pulse till it looks like breadcrumbs. Or you could put it in a bowl and beat it until it looks like breadcrumbs. 

If done in a food processor, transfer the mix to a bowl. Stir through the sugar and the raisins, if using. Mix the eggs, milk and apple in a jug and add to the bowl, stir to combine everything. Pour into the prepared loaf tin(s) and level the top.

Bake in a preheated oven for 50-55 minutes, until firm on top and a skewer comes out clean. I cooked my mini loafs for 40 minutes. 

Although I do love the simplicity of this cake it has given me inspiration for a indulgent apple crumble and custard cupcake... watch this space

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Milk chocolate and coconut biscuits

Now I cannot tell a lie, I am new to the joys of coconut. Oh I have long enjoyed it in savoury dishes, but sweet and coconut, for me, were NOT a match made in heaven.

However I have suddenly developed a love for most things coconut (not all, I will never like the bounty bar...). After the yummy success of vanilla coconut cupcakes, I wanted more coconut in my life.

This weekend was one of those times where I wanted to bake but did not want anything complicated, not lots of stages, no separate elements, no piping bag etc. By fabulous coincidence I had read a very simple looking biscuit recipe earlier that week and it contained coconut. It seemed obvious what I had to do...

The recipe in question can be found on the caked crusaders blog, I urge you to have a look at this blog, it has cakes galore and I want to make everything!

I admit I did half the recipe as I was not sure how many biscuits I would end up with. I shaped them using my tablespoon and ended up with 14 nice sized biscuits.

I used dairy milk chopped up as my milk chocolate, when I use milk chocolate in baking I tend to buy milka, galaxy or dairy milk depending what is the best price, it is so much cheaper than buying ready chopped chocolate chunks. And inevitably there is always some left over for the chef to munch!

These biscuits are light and crumbly, and quite frankly absolutely divine, they do last a few days in an air tight tin but I am not entirely sure I see them lasting that long at all!