Friday, 30 September 2011

Apple and Elderberry Pie with Elderflower Custard.

Hiiiii, thanks for stopping by. So eeeerm, it's summer again. Uh I love to be warm...I even love to be hot, eeeven the sticky, sweaty kind.

But despite all the sunshine, dry washing and sandals going on outside but I've been kitchen-based all day; whizzing and chopping and rolling and stirring and bringing together this beast of an autumn feast.

You see I can't get too attached to this weather. I was obsessively stalking it throughout June, July and August and really all it did was get my feet wet (yep, I have holes in my shoes). I have just about accepted the sun's passing for another year and got over the heartache, so I am not about to let it back in for it only to dash my tan hopes again. So I will ignore it and bake with the fruits of my autumn foraging- all be it in shorts, while getting ready to spend the night in a tent.

So here it is; harvest season in a pud, a pie and a crumble rolled into one. Heck, it seems I'm on a roll of rolling things into one doesn't it. I think it's basically because the crumble part of crumble is brill but the fruit it sits on top of tends to leave me wanting, as if I'm eating something unfinished. And when has pastry ever made anything never. So by all means make a crumble, but if you have a few extra moments, make some pastry, and if you have a few more, make some custard, elderflower custard if you're feeling extra fancy, and take what this autumn has to offer while summer pretends that it's still generous too. With Love and Cake.

Apple and Elderberry Pie with Elderflower Custard

A few notes:
  • This pastry is beautifully buttery and melt-in-the-mouthey thanks to the addition of ground almonds and a light hand. What that also means though is that it’s a bit of a bum to roll out because it is so short  and crumbly. What I tend to end up doing is rolling it out to the thickness I want, attempting to line the tin, and then patching up and patting in the leftovers into gaps and tears. So don’t be disheartened it will turn good in the end.
  • Don’t have elderberries hanging about in your kitchen (why?)? How about using blackberries instead or maybe a mixture of apples and pears, or just plain old apples...really whatever you fancy, though I wouldn’t suggest tuna.
  • You don’t have to go to the bother of making your own custard if you don’t fancy it, though it is rather impressive if that’s your agenda, the pie would be scrumptious with cream, or clotted ooo or ice cream.

Makes an 18cm pie and enough custard to go with it

You will need

An 18cm round cake tin or pie dish, greased

For the pastry
210g plain flour
50g caster sugar
50g ground almonds
125g butter
1 egg

For the topping
60g oats
40g nuts- used hazelnuts and brazil nuts, chopped
30g pumpkin seeds
70g plain flour
75g soft brown sugar
125g butter, melted

For the filling
2 small or 1 medium cooking apples, peeled cored and roughly chopped
175g elderberries
2tsp corn flour
50g soft brown sugar

For the custard
350ml elderflower cordial
4tbsp double cream
4 egg yolks
3 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp corn flour

  • So let’s get going. First things first make the pastry by popping all the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse together. Then whiz in the butter followed by the egg and leave trundling around until it comes together to form a dough (you could also do this by rubbing in the butter with your finger tips then mixing in the egg by hand).
  • Turn out the dough, pat into a disc and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
  • When it’s ready roll it out as best you can and line the tin (see note). Pop the tin in the fridge while you get on with the rest of the pie. Preheat the oven to 180°c.
  • Now it’s time to make the topping, by mixing the dry ingredients together in a bowl then stirring through the butter until you get a crumbly paste.
  • For the filling mix the fruit together and tumble into the pastry lined tin set on a baking tray. Sprinkle over the corn flour and sugar and top with the oat-ey topping.
  • Pop into the oven for 25 minutes until the topping is bronze and crisp and the pastry is golden.
  • Meanwhile you can get on with the custard if you’d like. Heat the cordial and cream gently while you get the rest of the ingredients ready in a bowl and whisk together.
  • When the cordial has just reached simmering point, trickle it over the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
  • Pour everything back into the pan and heat gently, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon, until the custard has thickened. It will take long enough for you to get bored so make sure the radio is on and persevere until it coats the back of a spoon or has reached 85°c.
  • Turn the pie out the tin, and serve a good slice with an healthy splosh of custard, and think that you won't be so sad summer when summer is officially over after all.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Bramble Crumble Cheesecake.

Welcome hoooome (remember, we're having to pretend you just got back)!! Although I will see and speak to you just as much as if you were still across the pond, it feels nice to know that there isn't an entire ocean between us. Now, however glad I am to have you home, I know you'll still be hankering after the bright lights of NYC for some time to come, so I thought I'd ease you back in to homeyness with a recipe that combines the best of lolloping British countryside and the cosmopolitan blocks of NeW Yoik- Blackberry Crumble Cheesecake.

And you best get ready for a bit of an onslaught of bramble recipes. And elderberry recipes. And apple recipes. And rosehip recipes. And perhaps even sloe recipes if I can hunt down Fife's secret supply. For foraging season is upon us, and I already have a fairly major haul, and a fairly minor freezer.

So grab your wellies and get out amongst the hedges for a long afternoon of being rained and sunshined on, getting your fingers scratched and thorns stuck in your arms and getting frustrated because the best berries are ALWAYS either too high to reach or rather too up close and personal with the brambles' best mate; the stinging nettle.

And you will get stung and you will reach too far- you just will. Do it and you will fall in love with where you're from just a bit more and not care quite so much that the next time you have a really good strawberry is, at least, 8 months away. With Love and Cake.

Blackberry Crumble Cheesecake
Adapted from Real Food by Nigel Slater

A few notes:
  • The cheesecake layer of this cake is definitely best after a few hours or a night in the fridge. Before that it tastes a bit too eggy and has a quiche-like texture. You sacrifice a bit of crunch from the crumble but it is worth it, trust me.
  • A nice alternative to digestives would be ginger biscuits- if you try it let me know how it turns out.
  • The juice you get left over from cooking the berries can either be served with the cake, or kept for other things- pancakes, ice-cream, yogurt etcetc. 
Makes an 18cm cake
You will need 

an 18cm round cake tin, greased

150g digestives
50g butter, melted
400g cream cheese
2 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
175g caster sugar
300g blackberries

For the crumble
100g plain flour
50g soft brown sugar
75g butter, at room temperature

  • Preheat the oven to 180°.
  • First lets make the base by crushing the biscuits and mixing with the butter- you can do this by bashing the biscuits in a bag with a rolling pin or in a food processor.
  • Press the sandy mixture firmly down into the bottom of your cake tin with your hands or a flat spoon or spatula and pop into the fridge.
  • Mix the cream cheese, beaten eggs, lemon zest and roughly half the sugar together with a whisk until well combined and thick and creamy.
  • Pour the filling over the biscuit crust in the tin, with the tin on a baking tray to catch leaks, and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until almost set with still a bit of a wobble.
  • Meanwhile get on with the topping-first the fruit. Pop the berries into a pan with the other half of the caster sugar and a tiny splosh of water and simmer on a medium heat for 5 minutes or until the berries are soft and the liquid is syrupy.
  • For the crumble, mix the flour with the sugar then rub in the butter until the mixture looks like rough breadcrumbs- either do this with your fingertips or with a food processor.
  • When the cheesecake is ready to come out of the oven, let it cool slightly, then lift the fruit out of the pan with a slotted spoon and spoon over the cake so that just a few tablespoons of juice make the journey.
  • Tumble the crumble mix over the top of this and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the top looks deliciously golden.
  • Leave to cool then pop in the fridge for a good few hours or overnight. Mmmmmmm.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Fruity Tea Bread.

Dearest little sis, I have a nice 'welcome home' post all cooked and photeed and ready to rock, but unfortunately Mr Love and Cake ran off with the camera this morning, so I'm missing the photos. I shall save it for another day when we'll both just have to go along with it and pretend you actually just did step off the plane. So for now I wont acknowledge your homecoming and I'll tell you about this lovely bread instead. Hope that's OK, I'm sure it will be, because it really is a gem. 

It is the edible equivalent to a big hairy blanket tucked around your knees as you sit next to a glow-ey fire, listening to rain on the window and reading Enid Blyton. That sort of scene does exist somewhere is real life doesn't it? Well the bread really does exist and after a flash under the grill a slice is toasty on the outside, chewy on the inside and, if you're like me, drippy with salty, melty butter.

It's also a great bread for beginner bakers to try out, because although kneading such quantities of dried fruit into a springy dough is a bit of a bugger, the loaf doesn't rely on a light, springy texture; the result of experience, intricacies and sometimes luck, to make it magical.

In fact, it's not light and fluffy at all, it's dense and sweet and just the right side of gooey. Perfect for a toasty tea after some energy-burning autumnal activity. A spot of bramble picking perhaps. The sort of thing that leaves you with rosy cheeks, a cold nose and needing something to warm you up from the inside. With Love and Cake.

Fruity Tea Bread
adapted from Dad's very old Sunday Times Book of Real Bread

A few notes:
  • Like I said, kneading the fruit into the dough is a pain, but just do it a bit at a time and you'll get there. You'll probably loose a currant here or there but it can't be helped, it's the quantity of fruit which makes this bread so brill.
  • The quantity of fruit also means that when sliced, the bread is quick delicate and prone to breaking up a bit, so I prefer to toast under the grill rather than in a toaster.
  • This recipe could either make one large 2lb loaf or two littler 1lb loaves. I prefer to make two so I can freeze one for another day. If you go for the bigger one, just up the cooking time by 10 minutes or so.
You will need

1 2lb loaf tin or 2 1lbs tins, greased and floured

1 1/2 tbsp honey
150 ml warm water
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
30g butter, at room temperature
500g strong wholemeal bread flour
150ml strongly brewed tea or warm milk
375g of dried fruit- I like a mixture of currants, sultanas and mixed peel

  • First things first, dissolve 1/2 a tbsp of the honey in the warm water, stir in the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes so it can get nice and frothy.
  • Meanwhile in a large bowl, rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips.
  • Dissolve the final tbsp on honey into the tea or milk and add it to the flour along with the yeast mixture.
  • Work together to form a dough and then knead for 5 minutes until it becomes springy and smooth.
  • Now pop back in the bowl and leave somewhere cosy and warm for about an hour, until just about doubled in size.
  • Then knead the dough again and work in the dried fruit, a bit at a time. 
  • Pop the fruity dough into the tin/s and leave to rise again for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until nice and tall and proud looking.
  • Preheat the oven to 190° and bake the bread for 30 minutes.
  • When nice and golden on top, turn the loaves out of the tin, and pop back in the oven, upside down, straight onto the shelf for another 5 minutes to crisp up the bottom. Some fruit likes to jump off at this point so it might be best to stick a baking sheet on the shelf below so you don't end up with current-ey cinders burning in the bottom of your oven.
  • Slice, toast, spread, enjoy.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Beautiful on the Inside Cherry Almond Pies.

I've been meaning to tell you about these little lovelies for a while now. Well actually, I've been meaning to make some that are nice and photogenic and not crumbly round the edges and not a bit unruly looking.

What I keep doing you see, is ending up with some left over pastry and a few egg whites and improvising my way to a few of these- and by few I mean 5, or some other random number that my pastry just about stretches to. But after the second time this happened I thought, doesn't beauty lie within really? We all have 'crumbly round the edges' days when we have to face the world and rely on others loving us for our delicious marzipan-ey middle. Isn't your middle marzipan-ey? I'm pretty sure mine is.

So I will share these, in all their shabby chic yummyness, just as they are (a la Bridget Jones).

Now, those fresh, ruby round cherries you see here, are from Edinburgh Farmers Market, and are far too wonderful to do anything with other than eat, spit out the pit and hope that a bit of juice dribbles down your chin so that you can pretend you're sat under a cherry tree in the sun in 18th century Kent. So anyway, what I'm trying to say is, the cherries actually inside the pie are ones I just bought from a supermarket, frozen. I think frozen is a great way to buy fruit, it means it's fresh as a daisy until you decide, and it's cherry, or whatever, season all year round. If only. With Love and Cake.

Cherry Almond Pies

A few notes:
  • Like I said, I use this recipe as a way to use up left over egg whites, but if you don't have any, don't separate an egg especially, just use one whole one.
  • You could make one whole pie rather than several little ones if you'd prefer, just use a small round cake or pie pan and bake both the pastry and the whole pie for 10 or so minutes longer.
  • This is the recipe I used after making the treacle tart I made last week, I just doubled the pastry recipe. But I'll write everything out again in case you're just going for these.
  • You end up with some sweetened cherry juice left over, may I recommend using it in a breakfast of natural yogurt, banana and natural peanut butter, all layered up in a bowl. Yum.
Makes 6
You will need

a 6 hole muffin or cupcake pan, well greased and floured

For the pastry
110g plain flour
50g butter
1-2 tbsp cold water

For the filling
75g cherries
2 tbsp granulated sugar
50g butter, at room temp
50g caster sugar
1 egg white, beaten to a froth
a drop of almond extract
40g ground almonds
2 tbsp plain flour

  • First lets get on with the pastry. Pop the flour in the processor and give it a pulse.
  • Next whizz in the butter until it has a texture of fine breadcrumbs then, a tbsp at a time, whizz in the water until everything comes together and makes you a nice dough.
  • Pat into a flat disc and let rest in the fridge in a bag or some clingfilm for 1/2 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°.
  • Meanwhile you can get on with filling by bubbling the cherries and sugar with a splash of water in a small pan over a medium heat for around 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and everything's got a bit syrupy.
  • When the pastry is rested, roll it out to a thickness or 1/2 cm and use an appropriate sized cutter (or mug or glass) to cut circles that will cover the muffin hole and leave at least a 1cm border around the top.
  • Pat each disc into its hole and bake for around 10 minutes, until just about to turn gold.
  • Now in a bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.
  • Whisk in the egg white and almond essence, then fold in the ground almonds and flour.
  • Now for assembly. Divide the whole cherries between the pastry cases and add about a teaspoon of juice into each one.
  • Top with the almond mixture and bake for 20 minutes until the top is nicely golden brown.
  • Try and take them out of the tin as soon as poss, before the syrup sets and sticks everything together. This is the point at which mine got messy, but that's why I've told you to leave a good border of pastry. So fingers crossed. I'm sure they'll taste fabulous, what ever they look like.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Anti-September Strawberry and Elderflower Cupcakes.

Did you know it's September? Yes really. In fact, did you know it's halfway through September? Now, of course you knew that but have you really thought about what this means. Well firstly it means that I'm wearing tights today

It means that blackberries and apples are on the foraging menu, but on the days that you could go and pick them, there's an actual hurricane blowing- in Scotland! It means that soon, it'll be October, which means I'll get excited about pumpkins, and then it'll be November and bonfires and then it'll be December, dark all the time December, lit only by an insatiable excitement for all things Christmas.

It means summer's behind us for another year. But despite gale force winds and empty park benches, I am not ready to give in yet.

It's not quiiite dark when the alarm goes off, and I'm not Vitamin D deficient yet. More importantly I still have a good stash of strawberries in the freezer and a healthy supply of elderflower cordial and brought together in these cupcakes, sunshine and flowers can be added to the darkest of winter days. Maybe an indoor picnic surrounded by holiday photos would complete the situation and allow us to close our eyes and feel the grass between our toes and the sun kiss our cheeks. With Love and Cake.

Strawberry and Elderdlower Cupcakes
adapted from Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood

A few notes:
  • Courgette? Yes courgette. Just play along and I shall go further into detail about vege cakes another time. I promise, I really will.
  • If you don't have a stash of strawbs leftover from August times, you might be able to catch some super late varieties, otherwise mix it up a bit, use what's available and seasonal. How about blackberries?
  • This butter icing doesn't taste as elderflower-ey as I was hoping for. If a true flower hit is what you've after, it would be best to go for a drizzle icing, just mix 140g icing sugar with 3 tbps elderflower cordial and drizzle over the cakes. I just love butter too much to leave it out. The amounts I've put below make A LOT of icing- but in my view, the more the butter better.
Makes 12
You will need 

a 12 hole muffin tin (not the shallow 'fairy cake' size)

For the cakes
2 eggs
140g caster sugar
200g courgette-topped and tailed and finely grated
3 tbsp elderflower cordial
80g plain flour
120g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
120g strawberries, roughly chopped

For the icing
300g butter at room temperature
150g icing sugar
3 tbsp elderflower cordial

  • Line the muffin pan with muffin cases (again, not the shallower fairy cake ones, the deeper muffin ones) and preheat the oven to 180°.
  • Whisk together the eggs and sugar for a good 5 minutes until pale and voluminous, either with an electric hand whisk or plenty of elbow grease.
  • Stir in the grated courgette and cordial followed by the flour, almonds and baking powder and make sure everything's well combined.
  • Now lightly mix in the strawberries and spoon the mixture into the paper cases so each case is about 4/5 full.
  • Bake for 25 minutes until golden on top- they might still feel a bit squishy but that'll be because of the squishy berries rather than soggy cake batter so don't worry.
  • Leave the cakes in the tin to cool for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire wrack to cool completely before you ice them.
  • To make the icing, whisk the butter for a minute or two so it increases in volume.
  • Whisk in half the icing sugar until a nice paste is formed then finally whisk in the rest of the sugar and cordial.
  • I folded some red colouring into half the icing and then piped it on top of the cake using a piping bag and topped with sweeties. Feel free to do that too, or you could simply spoon the all-white icing evenly over the top of your cakes and maybe top with another strawberry. Either way they will be scrumptious, I'm sure.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Treacle Tart Will Make Your Life Better.

Why Hii. It's time for some Treacle Tart. UuuH Trusty Treacle Tart, what can I say about him. Really all that needs to be said is 'make Treacle Tart and your life will be better'. It won't matter that it's dark at 8 o clock, when it used to be 11.30pm and it will soon be 4pm. It won't matter that you only got halfway through your 'to-do' list and you've got a whole new one for tomorrow.

And it won't matter that you've spent your summer in New York, pursued dreams, met a boy and had the absolute time of your life and now it's time to pack up and head back across the Atlantic to Cornwall, where there isn't somewhere on each block that you can go for enormous pancakes for brunch. There aren't even any blocks. But it'll work out little sis, don't worry.

And while it does, you've got this. This ooey-gooey, too hot, too sweet, too sticky and utterly satisfying circle of love to get you through.

He'll mop your brow in times of stress, he'll dry your tears when you're sad and he'll rub your feet when they're sore (symbolically that is, don't actually put your feet near him). Rest your head in a bowl of this divine syrupy goodness, swimming in cream; both pouring AND clotted if it's extra-specially bad, and for a glorious moment or two, nothing else will matter. All is well and your tummy will smile. With Love and Cake. 

Treacle Tart
An amalgamation of a couple of recipes and some treacle tart experience

A few notes:
  • You might consider doubling the pastry amounts and popping half in the freezer before the resting stage. It's so handy to have some ready and waiting and maybe, possibly, perhaps it might be required for other things you'll find on here soon.
  • When ever I have a bit of bread that's too stale for eating, I whizz it to crumbs in my processor and keep them in a bag in the freezer. You can just keep adding to them and whenever you need a few handfuls for something just use them from frozen, no need to defrost. This means I actually used a mixture of wholemeal and white crumbs for the tart, you can use one or the other too though, whatever you have to hand really.
  • If you don't have a food processor you can use a grater to make the crumbs. It'll be a bit more messy and time consuming and the crumbs probably won't be as fine but if it means treacle tart is a possibility when it wouldn't be otherwise- totally worth it.
  • usual, I used a food processor for the pastry. You can use you fingers for rubbing in the butter and bringing it all together.
Makes an 18cm tart
You will need

a shallow 18cm cake or pie tin tin, greased

For the pastry
110g plain flour

50g butter
1-2 tbsp cold water

For the filling
400g golden syrup
125g breadcrumbs
1 tsp ground ginger
50g butter

  • First lets get on with the pastry. Pop the flour in the processor and give it a pulse.
  • Next whizz in the butter until it has a texture of fine breadcrumbs then, a tbsp at a time, whizz in the water until everything comes together and makes you a nice dough.
  • Pat into a flat disc and let rest in the fridge in a bag or some clingfilm for 1/2 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°.
  • When the pastry's ready, roll it out so it's big enough to cover the base and sides of the tin. 
  • Press it into the prepared tin and trim off any excess that folds over the top of the sides.
  • Let it wait in the fridge while you get on with the easy-peasy part- the filling.
  • Just pop everything in a saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted.
  • Pour into the the pastry case, smooth the top down and bake 25-ish minutes- until the pastry is a teeny bit golden.
  • Eat when it's just a bit too hot, the cream will cool it down. Any left over can be reheated for a few minutes in the oven when it's required. 

Friday, 9 September 2011

Really Good Quiche...Really.

Hellooooo, I feel a bit funny about posting a quiche recipe, because no one, since 1987, has actually enjoyed quiche have they? At least that's what I thought, but turns our that our Dad is rather a fan. Well really I think he's a pastry fan more than anything- well duuuh, it's butter and flour, who's not a fan of that? But I would never fancy quiche; I would not think to make one and would never buy one. It's so often got such a soggy bottom, a rubbery middle and is coldcoldcold from the fridge. Yuck.

The other annoying thing about quiche for vegetarians such as ourselves (do you find this?), is that at parties and other shin-digs that rely on buffets, there's often a veggie option quiche as well as a bacony one. But you can't tell the difference between them, they look the same beige-ness. So either you have to ask the host, which makes me feel like I'm being fussy, or miss out on what really was meant to be the star of the veggie show.

But Dad wanted quiche, so we gave him quiche. And, hold the phone, it was lovely. Really though, my involvement only went as far as sitting and instructing. Now here's what you need to know 1. Mum is a tad scared of pastry, well not scared, she just doesn't have masterful feelings towards it. 2. We were amalgamating a number of recipes and I was too busy reading about preserving to be paying proper attention and 3. We were sipping rather stiff cocktails throughout the process. And it was still delish.

A crumbly, buttery pastry with a savory whisper of cheese and a sweet, not too wobbly, just wobbly enough middle. A really lovely light tea with just enough of a fatty nod to satisfy those end of day hunger pangs. So be inspired, a couple of distracted squiffs can do it, you definitely can. Sip cocktails and eat quiche. With Love and Cake.

Cheese and Onion Quiche.
A mishmash of several recipes and some improvisation

A few notes:
  • This will make a tad too much pasty, pop it in the freezer and make some tarts another day.
  • This doesn't have to be cheese and onion if that's too boring for you, you could add whatever you fancy really, mushrooms, chutney, tomatoes, blue cheese, peanut butter...okok maybe not the last one.
  • I always make pastry in a food processor, it's so much quicker and less messy and hot sticky hands don't get involved, which is bad for pastry. But if you don't have one, you can absolutely do it by hand, rubbing in the butter with your finger tips and mixing everything else in with your hands.
Makes enough for 4
You will need

A 20cm pie dish or cake tine, greased well

For the pastry
250g plain flour
125g butter
25g parmesan, finely grated 
1 egg

For the filling
A big dab of butter
2 small onions, finely sliced
80g cheddar, grated
100ml milk
2 eggs
1 tsp mustard powder
lots of pepper of some cayenne

  • Preheat the oven to 180°
  • First make the pastry by whizzing together the flour and butter together in a food processor until they look like breadcrumbs.
  • Pulse in the cheese followed by the egg and as much cold water as it needs to come together as a dough.
  • Roll the pastry out to a thickness of less than 5mm and line the tin with it, pressing it in lightly and pricking it with a fork all over. 
  • Trim any major edges but leave a good amount of overhang to allow for shrinkage, you will need to leave more than you think. Pop it on a baking tray.
  • Now cover with grease-proof paper and fill the case with baking beads (hA! like you have them, who does?) or some uncooked rice or beans (you can save them as your official pastry beans).
  • Pop in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove the beads/beans and paper and prick down any bubbles or bits that have risen with a fork again. Pop back in the oven for another 5.
  • Meanwhile make the filling by cooking the onions in a frying pan in the butter on a low heat for a good 15-20 minutes until transparent and soft.
  • Whisk together the milk, eggs, mustard, salt and pepper/cayenne.
  • Now for assembly, spread the onions over the pastry base followed by the cheddar.
  • Then pour over the liquid and stick it all back in the oven. Bake for 30ish minutes, but keep an eye on it because it will depend on how squishy you like your eggs. 
  • Eat quiche.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Marvelous Scones for a Marvelous Breakfast.

Hellooooo there, what did you have for breakfast today, I hope it was something wonderful? This morning I wanted a treat. I had time and I had a fully stocked fridge and I wanted a little indulgence.

It didn't quite feel like a pancake day (there must have been something seriously wrong with me), I thought about muffins but the cakeyness wasn't appealing. So I ended up settling on scones. "Scones for breakfast??" I hear you gasp. But these are not ordinary, jam and cream wearing scones. Theeese are crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside scones. They are studded with both smug-making health (raspberries) and joy-giving sin (chocolate) scones. 

These scones are so heart-quickeningly marvelous that as soon as I had finished my breakfast one, I made up my mind to have exactly the same for lunch. I actually didn't in the end, but only because I knew that the gazpacho I made yesterday would be even more delish after a night mingling in the fridge-any other option though wouldn't have stood a chance. 

These extravagant little madams are super moist and filled with so much goodness that they don't need any splitting and spreading. Just eat them fresh and warm and they will make you so happy that you'll wiggle your toes and hop, skip and jump into the rest of your day...With Love and Cake.

Raspberry and White Chocolate Ricotta Scones
inspired by smitten kitchen

A few notes:
  • The dough this recipe makes is rather a wet and sticky one, so just make sure that when you're patting it out, the surface and your hands are nicely floured.
  • You can pick and choose the fruit and chocolate to suit your favs- maybe chopped strawberries and milk chocolate, or perhaps you'd like to take out the naughtyness (WHY??) and go for full on fruityness, using only blueberries say. Go craaaazy and try things out. Just keep the total amount of added things along the lines of the stated 220g, splitting and dividing it in to all the things you love.
  • All my hints and tips regarding how to make the perfect scone apply to these ones as well. Find them here.
Makes 9
You will need

A greased baking sheet

250g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
50g granulated sugar
85g butter
220g in total of raspberries and chocolate- I used 116g raspberries and 104g white chocolate, roughly chopped
170g ricotta
100ml double or whipping cream

  • Preheat the oven to 220°c.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar together either in a bowl or food processor.
  • Now rub in the butter until you get a 'fine breadcrumb', texture using the processor or you fingertips. 
  • If you're using the food processor tip the mixture into a bowl.
  • Stir through the raspberries and chocolate and then mix in the ricotta and cream lightly with a metal spoon and bring everything together to form and squishy dough.
  • Transfer to your well-floured surface and with floured hands, gently pat into a square with a depth of about 2.5cm
  • Divide into 9 squares with a sharp knife.
  • Transfer the squares to the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. They're done when they're golden on top but they will still quite squidgy looking.
  • You'll probably have to leave them to cool and firm up on the tray for 5 minutes or so and then transfer to a wire rack/plate to cool/eat.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Strawberry And Coconut Whirly-Whirlys.

Oh hiii there, thanks for stopping by. So as you know, I took a lovely little trip home to Sunny Somerset recently (it waves and says Hi by the way). I wasn't planning on doing any baking while I was there really, a bit because I get accused of trying to turn Mum and Dad into the 'size of a house', but mainly because I imagined Mutus and I would be faaaaar too busy with all things cocktail, shopping and lunching related.

Well we were of course busy with such things, but in a perfect amount which meant we had a jot of time left over for making the most of the summer fruit deposits that Nana and Grandad had so helpfully (winkwink nudgenudge) made to the freezers.

This recipe called for sliced strawberries spread over a yeasted dough which is wound up a la Norwegian Skillingsboller. However I thought I would be very clever and defrost some strawberry puree for the purpose, which otherwise, I predict would have hung around, unwanted for a good year. That makes sense doesn't it?

Well it turns out this part of the recipe did not respond well to improvisation and I made a big strawberry-ey mess as the puree squodged out of the dough, all over the kitchen, fueling Dad's constant argument that i am a nightmare to have around in the kitchen. So I'll write the recipe for the original method so you don't have to clean up to such an extent. See look, I'm helpful...I make mistakes so you don't have to...With Love and Cake.

Strawberry and Coconut Whirls.

A few notes:
  • I over-cooked these for a good 5 minutes which meant they quickly went a bit tough. It was because after the stated cooking time the dough still looked quick squishy so I popped them back in the don't be scared of the whirls looking a bit wobbly when the cooking time is up. Again I mess up so you don't have to.
  • You absolutely don't have to make the icing, but it makes then look so preeeeddy.
  • This recipe apparently makes 18, but as usual I went for big and bold cutting so ended up with about 10.
You will need

1 or 2 baking trays, greased

For the dough
500g strong white bread flour
75g unsalted butter
1 sachet dried yeast
50g caster sugar
100g desiccated coconut
350ml warm milk, plus extra for glazing

For the filling
50g butter, melted 
350g strawberries, thinly sliced
3tbsp light muscovado sugar

For the icing
100g icing sugar
juice 1 lemon

  • First you need to rub the butter into the flour, then stir in the yeast, sugar and coconut.
  • Now knead in the milk for a good 5 minutes until the dough is nice and springy.
  • Pop him back in his bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave somewhere cosy for 1 hour.
  • Then roll him out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle of 45x25cm.
  • Brush the dough with butter, then top with the sliced berries and sprinkle with the sugar.
  • Roll up like a swiss-roll from one of the longest edges and cut with a bread-knife into 18 slices.
  • Arrange them all swirl side up/down, with a few cm gap between each one, on the baking sheets and leave to rise again for 15 minutes while the oven preheats to 200°c.
  • Bake for 20 minutes and leave on a wire rack to cool while you get the icing together.
  • All you need to do is mix the icing sugar and lemon juice together and drizzle over the pink little lovelies.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Fig Rolls Are Great.


I was just wondering, are Fig Rolls the things that American folks call Fig Newtons? Today's homework...find and munch some and supply me with some feedback. Thaaaanks.

Anyhooo...back to Fig ROLLS. They are the sort of thing that I never buy, but whenever I do have one, dunked in tea so the sponge goes not-too-soggy and the gritty, treacle inside sticks to your teeth, I think 'Fig Rolls are great'.

I always have at least one *cough 3* when I'm in Sunny Somerset. They're Mum's midnight snack of choice you see so there's a fairly consistent supply, but I have been meaning to make them from scratch with her for a good year.

So this trip home we actually got round to it...well when I say we, I mean I popped them in the oven and then joined in the rents' lengthy debate about the best rock and roll song of all time which involved googling, CD rummaging, prancing round the kitchen and a lot of LOUD music. We didn't settle on an answer.

Such malarkey is not compulsory in the preparation of these lovely little fellows but it certainly does make it more fun. And you definitely should have a bash. This version is easy and you end up with a nice substantial biscuit which is perfect for those times when you feel like you need an energy kick up the bum. They're not too sweet and not very spongy. In fact I was thinking I might like to have another go and make a few tweaks so they were a bit more like the shop bought version but Dad said NO, they're nice and biscuit-ey as they are...With Love and Cake.  

Fig Rolls

A few notes:
  • I made these raaather large, sort of over estimating the size of normal fig rolls. But I like that they're nice and substantial...a proper pick me up. If you want them a bit smaller, more shop-bought size, roll the pastry out to a a longer, narrower rectangle before spreading with the figs.
  • Like I said, the pastry isn't very sweet, it's really left the to sticky figs to bring that to the table, but if you'd like to add a bit more sugar go ahead, or maybe give them a dusting of icing sugar as they cool after baking.
  • I've used 50/50 wholemeal and plain flour which contributes to these feeling like a substantial snack. You could use  all plain flour though which I think would make them a bit lighter.
  • If you don't have a food processor, just rub the butter into the four and sugar using your fingers and mix in the water by hand.
Makes 10 large biscuits 
You will need

a baking sheet, greased

175g soft dried figs, with the hard tip removed
100g wholemeal flour
100g plain flour
2 tbsp light muscovado or light brown sugar
65g butter

  • Preheat the oven to 175°c.
  • Pop the figs in a pan with 300ml of water and simmer for about 20 minutes until the figs are soft and sticky.
  • Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor.
  • Now put the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and blend together, adding a tablespoon of water at a time until it comes together as a dough. I ended up using about 5 tablespoons but it depends on a few things so just keep and eye on it.
  • Tip the dough out onto a floured surface, knead together and roll to a rectangle of around 40x12cm.
  • Spread the figs over the pastry and fold each long side into the middle so they slightly overlap.
  • Trim the ends, cut into 5cm slices and transfer to the baking tray, join side down.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until slightly darker brown.
  • Leave to cool and dunk in your tea.