Friday, 28 September 2012

Strawberry Pop Tarts.

Do you know...I haven’t eaten pop tarts for a good 10 years. Now I won’t dwell on how scary it is that I am now somehow old enough these days to talk about how things in terms decades. I mean, I know I’ve only really got 2 to consider and maybe someday I’ll be able to say I haven’t had a pop tart for 50 years...though let’s hope I don’t let such a foolish thing as that happen....but doing or not doing something for 10 whole years...well it kind of indicates that at some point I must have stopped being 17....and I’m not comfortable with such a fact. But anyway, I said I wouldn’t dwell....oh god I’m ooooold...STOP DWELLING.

So yes...pop tarts. I have particularly vivid memories of eating them in bed...the spare room bed for some reason, when I had a poorly day off school. It’s very white and sunny. And there’s strawberry pop tarts. Goodness me I’ve got a wandery mind today...CONCENTRATE, anyway, I don’t think I’ve eaten them since then and the other day I was ‘Edinburgh wandering’ (yes it is its own verb) and a Canadian pal of mind and I found ourselves in one of those American sweet know, where everything is brightbright pink or green and they have boxes of cereal for£8...seriously.

They also had pop tarts....even s’mores ones....for £5.50. FIVE POUNDS FIFTEY. Goodness me...they’re not even real food. So needless to say I didn’t buy any because that would have been utter crazyness. Thankfully however I am in possession of friends that don’t think spending such sums on treats is mental and that very evening, totally by coincidence, I was fed cinnamon pop tarts and ice cream.

Pop tarts and I were reunited and now we’re in love. Ok not in LOVE because you spend silly amounts of money on people/things you love for no other reason than that you love them and I still am not prepared to do that, so I made my own, aaaaand they’re sooooooo much more lovable than foil packaged ones that I reckon I could get away with charging £5 just for 2 and I’ll become a pop tart squillionaire. Form an orderly queue. With Love and Cake.

Strawberry Pop Tarts.
A mish mash of recipes from smittenkitchen and Bakeat350

A few notes:
  • Do feel free to mix it up and try making your own fav could go chocolatey and fill with Nutella, or maybe some cinnamon sugar for a very breakfasty feel. If I try any variations I shall of course let you know.
  • You could miss out the boiling of the jam bit and use jam straight out of the jar but if you've got the spare 5 minutes I'd do it; it just gives a texture that is less likely to run and make a mess.
  • I've kind of been vague about the topping so you can do want you like the look of best; I melted white chocolate with a splash of cream to drizzle on half of mine and for the rest I mixed some left over strawberry filling with a tiny splash of water, a few spoons of icing sugar and a few drops of red food colouring to make a sort of glaze.
Makes 10-12
You will need

2 baking sheets, greased and floured

For the pastry
300g plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
220g butter, cold from the fridge
4-6 tbsp cold water

For the filling
3tbsp strawberry jam
1/2 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp water
1 egg, beaten

For the topping (see note)
white chocolate, melted with a splash of cream
left over strawberry filling
1 tbsp icing sugar
2 tsp water
a few drops red food colouring
  • First we must make the pastry. Pulse together the flour and sugar in a food processor (or sift into a bowl).
  • Then add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs (or rub in with your finger tips).
  • Add 4 tbsps of cold water and pulse until a soft dough forms, adding more water if necessary.
  • Remove the dough from the processor, split into 2 halves and form each half gently into a disc. Wrap each disc in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, pop your jam in a little saucepan with the cornflour and water and boil together for a minute or 2; until the mixture is syrupy and shiny.
  • Transfer the jewel coloured mix to a bowl and chill in the fridge.
  • When your pastry's nice and chilled, roll the first half out thinly onto a floured surface. I used the clingfilm it was wrapped in to cover the pastry as I rolled, to stop the rolling pin sticking which worked well.
  • Then cut pop tart sized rectangles out of the dough (I'd say that means around 10cmx15cm).
  • Gather up the remaining edges of the pastry, roll out again and cut more rectangles. Keep going like this until all the pastry is used up.
  • Lay half of the rectangles on your baking sheets and brush beaten egg around the edges.
  • Spoon 1-2 tsps of the jam mix onto each rectangles and spread out leaving a border of around 5mm.
  • Top each of these jammy rectangles with a plain pastry rectangle and press gently around the edges to seal the pastry together.
  • Go around the edges with a fork pressing down firmly to add prettyness and to be sure the edges are properly fused together.
  • Use the fork to prick a few holes in the top of each pop tart and leave to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Repeat the whole process with the second half of the pastry.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°c.
  • Bake the pop tarts for 25-30 minutes until just starting to bronze around the edges.
  • Leave to cool on a wire wrack.
  • Either eat as they are or drizzle with melted white chocolate or a bit of the leftover jam diluted with icing sugar, water and red colouring (see notes).
  • Breakfast like a queen...albeit not a very British one.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Dainty Macaron for a Non-Dainty World.

I am ANGRY....wind and rain make me ANGRY. Show dare it shove me as I walk along unassumingly carrying my million heavy bags. I hate how it makes a tough run even bloomin’ tougher; I could run alllll day if it weren’t for wind...oh and hills, yes they do also get in the way somewhat. And I HATE how I spend my precious time playing with expensive face paint and fancypants hairspray in an attempt to make me feel like I can walk down the street with a spring in my step only to step outside into the washing machine that is the current climate and end up looking like Marilyn Manson with a hangover. Just HOW is one supposed to maintain composure and serene Audrey Hepburn glamour in SCOTLAND in the WINTER.

The thing that makes it eeeeeven worse is that all the American blogs that I read, that are wonderful don’t get me wrong, buuut, they are FULL of “Ow Ma gaaawd I’m soooooo over sumeeeeer....cannot WAIT for faaaaaall”, pumpkins, apples, halloweeen “I can’t waaaait for crisp faaaall, weather”, “too hot, too hot”. SHUSH. Again, it is not those jolly American folks I am’s mmmmmy lack of a summer so hot that I get bored of it and an autumn that is crisp and frosty and all orange sunrises aaand pumpkin cream cheese muffins.

So before it goes any further and I waste any more of my carefully chosen and applied mascara, I might have to just plain give up the whole serene glamour thing when the opening of the front door is involved....or perhaps just give up opening the front door altogether.

In order to maintain the balance between wellies and cagoules, I thought I might have to amp up the glamour factor indoors....hence these dainty little bites. Not the sturdy, Famous Five worthy Macaroons but the beautiful little French delicacies that kinda were ‘the thing’ a whiiiile ago...but y’know, it takes a while for trends to reach this far north. With Love and Cake.

recipe from Delicious magazine. 

A few notes:
  • You can, of course, flavour these little treats and take the in endless different directions. For now I will stick with telling you about these plain almondy chaps and keep you updated of any flavour revelations I have in the future.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t have a food processor just go straight to the sieving part. And at this point, don’t worry if some of the ground almonds simple won’t pass through the sieve, go as far as you can and tip what is left in the sieve straight into the bowl.
  • If you don't have a piping bag, why not try and fashion one out of a large plastic 'sandwich bag' by filling it with the mixture when required, snipping off one of the bottom corners and progressing as you would with a normal piping bag. You don't even have to wash it up...brill.
Makes 20-30
You will need

2 baking sheets, lined with greaseproof paper
a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle

For the biscuits
175g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
3 egg whites
25g caster sugar

For the buttercream
150g butter, at room temperature
few drops of almond extract (optional)
100g icing sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 160°c.
  • Pulse together the icing sugar and ground almonds in food processor to make sure everything is as fine as possible.
  • Then pass the powder through a sieve into a bowl.
  • In another, big and clean, bowl, whisk the egg whites until they have soft peaks.
  • Keep whisking while adding the caster sugar a bit at a time until the mix is stiff and glossy.
  • Add half the almond mixture to the egg whites and gently fold in.
  • Add the second half and keep folding until the dry mixture is fully combined with the egg whites.
  • Transfer the mixture to your piping bag and pipe 3cm blobs onto your lined baking sheets, leaving fairly big gaps in between each one.
  • Leave the blobs for 15 minutes to form a 'skin', which basically means their surface toughens up a tiny bit.
  • After their rest, bake for 12-15 minutes, when they should be puffed up a bit without much of a change in colour.
  • Leave the biscuits to cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Meanwhile you can make the icing; simply beat the butter until nice and soft.
  • Beat in the almond extract and icing sugar, bit by bit, until you have light and smooth paste.
  • When the biscuits are cold, sandwich pairs together with the buttercream; don't skrimp you should have plenty to go round.
  • There you are...a bit of daintyness in the raging world. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Very Carroty Carrot Cake with Candied Carrot.

Everyone needs a good carrot cake in their repertoire...okokkkk not everyone. I’m guessing the Queen rarely gets a craving for cream cheese icing and I guess if, say, Duncan Banatyne fancied a slice he’d send out for one...probably a diamond encrusted one at that...but what I meaaaaan is that everyone that likes a spot of baking, or is the friend that is relied upon to supply treats, or is someone that just bloomin’ loves a big slice of cake...theeeey all need a good carrot cake recipe.

And this, fellow bakers and cake lovers, is that. Sorrysorrysorry but when it comes to carrot cake it’s all about MOIST. I knnoooow it’s one of the most hATEd words ever but it really is what you want from a good carrot cake. Moistmoistmoist....when you think of it in cake terms it really isn’t so bad.

The fact that this cake relies soley on carrots for this moistyness and for its bouncy structure means that it is just the right kind of moist. Not too oily and wet from the addition of oil like so many carrot cakes, and, hellllllloooo it means the cake it fat free, apart from the good healthy nut fats, so you can double up on the icing. Wooooooop.

It’s easypeasy too, especially if you don’t bother with the candied carrots on top, buuuut I must warn you...I was once told by a friend that this was the best carrot cake he had ever eaten and I that it was the candies carrots that swung it in my keep that in mind. With Love and Cake.

Carrot Cake with Candied Carrots.
From Harry Eastwood's marvelous book Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache.  

A few notes:
  • I'm afraid I really did double the quantity of icing from the original recipe, always do, and those are the measurements I shall give you. If however you are of the (craaaazy) breed of person who does not believe that basically the very point of cake if the icing and you leave it on your plate for me to polish off, not caring that you judge me, feel free to halve the quantities back down.
  • The type of nut is variable, same for the dried fruit...just keep the quantities the same.
  • I used polenta here though you could just as easily and yummily use ground almonds.
  • If you're not going in for candied carrots, a good sprinkling of lime zest wouldn't go amiss.

Makes one 18cm cake
You will need 

For the cake 
one orange
150g sultanas
80g mixed nuts, toasted under a grill until golden and roughly chopped
3 eggs
160g soft brown sugar
280g coarsely grated carrot
150g plain flour
80g polenta
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

For the icing
70g butter, at room temperature
400g icing sugar
4 tsp lime juice
70g cream cheese

For the candies carrot
1/2 medium sized carrot
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp water

  • Right first the boring jobs...preheat the oven to 160° and grease two 18cm, loose bottomed cake tines and line the bases.
  • Squeeze the juice of the orange over the sultanas and leave them to soak while you get on.
  • Whisk the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes (best with an electric hand whisk unless you want a proper work out) until light coffee coloured and increased in volume.
  • Beat in the carrot.
  • Stir in the flour, polenta, cinnamon, baking powder, vanilla and salt to gently mix.
  • Add the sultanas along with any orange juice left and the nuts.
  • Mix gently but thoroughly and divide the mixture between the 2 tins.
  • Pop in the oven and check after 45 minutes; you want the cakes to be golden and firm.
  • When they are done, leave them to cool in their tins for 5 minutes before turning them out and allowing to cool completely...and I mean completely, never attempt to ice a cake that is still a bit warm.
  • To make the icing, beat the butter so it gets really soft.
  • Add half the icing sugar and combine as much as possible; it should have the texture of breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the lime juice then add the cream cheese and remaining icing sugar
  • Beatbeatbeat until you have a lovely smooth and shiny paste.
  • Now for assembly. Pop one cake on your serving plate and spread half the icing on top.
  • Top that with the other cake and spread the rest of that lovely icing over the top.
  • If you're going in for the candied carrots, here's how it goes: shred the carrot into ribbons with a peeler.
  • Pop the sugar and water in a small frying pan and heat gently.
  • When the sugar has dissolved,add the carrots and turn up the heat a bit to get everything bubbling.
  • After a minute or 2 the liquid should be more viscous and caramel coloured and the carrots will have gone shiny and a bit translucent...there you are, you've got candies carrots.
  • Pour them daintily on top of your cake.
  • If there's much liquid left in the pan, return it, for a brief moment, to the heat and it will thicken even more.
  • Pour it over the carrots and let it drizzle over the cake (FYI clean the pan with boiling water).
  • And there you have it, a mighty fine classic that's loved by all.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

None ShowyOffy Armandine Tart.

This is an excellent bake if you’re out to impress but aren’t one for sparklers or cartwheels or ‘look at me’ sandwich boards...or aren’t out to impress one that is. Am I talking nonsense? Default answer...yes....but let me persuade you otherwise...

You see, while this isn’t a 7 layer birthday cake with 2 inches of rainbow icing, glitter and a million is a version of that, for those who put the taste and texture and heritage of their food before sillyness, trends and showyoffy sparkles.

It’s kind of a technical test (though don't read difficult here); given that it has pastry and the traditional almond cream that pops up in so much French patisserie, which, if passed, will give you kudos amongst those in the foodie know....not those in the know about which colour paste brand gives the best luminous green buttercream to atop St Patrick’s day cupcakes, but those in the know about what tastes darn good and the simple efforts required to get you there.

Gosh I think I might sound awfully know, worthy in a butter heavy sense, but I hope you see what I mean; that lovely food is lovely food regardless of bells and whistles and will always remain so. With Love and Cake.

Armandine Tart.
Original recipe from Richard Bertinet's Pastry (which I don't own....but would love to FYI).

A few notes:
  • This is the sort of classic that really requires no twiddles and tweaks...the only one I made (it's an impulse) was the addition of the crunchy sugar on top, ow and used wholemeal flour because I am in procession of a divine local variety...okok I changed more than I thought...only so you don't have to though.
  • I'm afraid that the marzipan liqueur was a gift from a decidedly none-marzipan lover and I wouldn't suggest you hunt some down just for the purpose...feel free to you any liqueur you deem appropriate. Mr Bertinet suggests Poire William pear liqueur, but I think brandy would do...or none at all if that's easiest.
  • A usual I made the pastry in a food processor, it just seems so much more accessible to me that way, but if the opposite is the case for you just use your finger tips to rub in the butter and to bring the dough together.
Serves 8-ish
You will need
an 18cm loose bottomed tart or cake tin, greased and floured

For the pastry
110g plain flour
pinch salt
50g cold butter
1 egg yolk
1-2 tbsp water

For the filling
75g butter, at room temp
75g caster sugar
75g ground almonds
15g wholemeal flour
1 egg
1/2 tbsp marzipan liqueur (see note)
1 tbsp flaked almonds
1 tsp demerara sugar

  • First lets make the pastry. Pulse together the flour in a food processor (or sift into a bowl).
  • Then add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
  • Add the egg yolks and 1 tbsp of cold water and pulse until a soft dough forms, adding 1 more spoonful of water if necessary.
  • Remove the dough from the processor and form gently into a disc. Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
  • Next, roll the pastry out thinly onto a floured surface. I used the cling film it was wrapped in to cover the pastry as I rolled, to stop the rolling pin sticking which worked well.
  • Line your prepared tin with the pastry, and gently prick the base with a fork and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile we'll make the filling; beat the butter with an electric hand whisk or wooden spoon until nice and soft.
  • Beat in the sugar and almonds and then stir through the flour, egg and liqueur.
  • Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. 
  • Preheat the oven to 180°c.
  • When everything's had its fridge time trim the excess pastry from the outside of the tin and fill the case with the almond mixture.
  • Scatter the flaked almonds and demerara sugar over the top and bake for 30 minutes until the filling is risen and golden.
  • Be demurely proud.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Ice Cream Cake.

So I knooooooow you don't exactly come here for diet food, but this diviiiiine little number goes above and beyond in the unhealthy stakes. Just look at all is sparkly golden topped glory.

I mean, it doooooooes have nuts; mightymighty good for helping to keep us nice and bendy and clever, it has daaairy, good for those bones and veggie muscles of ours aaaaaaand it has chocolate; sscIEntIFically proven to make you happy and give you those nice frinedly antioxidants. WHat am I sAYing, unhealthy? This ice cream cake is positively a health food.  

I mean, they should ship it to Africa and give it to kiddywinkles instead of those weird peanut bars; not only would the poor starving children no longer be poor and starving (yes you can measure richness in cake....didn't you know?) but they would be happy and joyful and therefore much more likely to hug rather than take up arms.

My goodness, why on earth has no one made me 'Queen of the World' yet. I could fix pretty much aaaaalll the problems. Well I'll wait here eating ice cream soon as word gets out about this marvelous idea I'm sure I'll get a phone know from God, or whoever makes these 'queen of the world' decisions. Oo also, I would make disliking peanut butter illegal...seriously, I have ALL the answers. With Love and Cake.

Ice Cream Cake.
Another one from Nige's Express

A few notes:
  • I made a fairly small cake, to serve 4, because freezer space is fairly limited, but feel free to scale up the ingredients to fit any freezer friendly receptacle. 
  • I used peanut butter chocolate chips because I have genius friends who give me such prezzies but if you cant find them you could use chocolate chips or you could chop up some Reese's Cups which are readily available these days. While you're at it, feel free to make any other tweaks and changes you fancy...maybe you'd prefer chocolate ice cream or you fancy sub-ing the bourbons for ginger nuts...this particular cake, unlike most others, isn't an exact science.
  • I served mine with the salted caramel sauce I've told you about before; leave it salt-less if you wish.
Serves 4
You will need

a small cake tin

500ml vanilla ice cream; that's a Ben and Jerry's sized tub
50g honey roast peanuts
50g peanut butter chips
1 Crunchy, crumbled, plus extra for topping
75g bourbon biscuits, crumbled, plus extra for topping
caramel sauce to serve

  • Get the ice cream out of the freezer and leave to soften for a while.
  • Meanwhile line the cake tine with clingfilm by lying a 2 lengths of cling over the top of the tin in opposite directions; so you have a clingfilm cross, leaving lots of excess so you can wrap the cake up tightly.
  • When the ice cream is soft, gently stir through the peanuts, peanut butter chips, crunchy and biscuits and spoon the ice cream into the lined cake tin.
  • Press the ice cream down into the tin, smooth the top and fold the excess clingfilm up and over the cake so it's all wrapped up.
  • Pop the cake tin in the freezer to harden up again.
  • When you're ready to serve, and the cake will sit happily in the freezer until then, turn in out of the cake tin and invert it onto a pretty plate. Sprinkle extra biscuits and Crunchy over the top, slice into wedges and spoon over lashings of sauce. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Muffin Joy: Banana and Butterscotch.

These are a triumph...a triumph in muffin form albeit but, well heck, you’ve got to take your successes as they come and give yourself a massive cheer and pat on the back while you’re at it. I’ve spoken before about my quest for the perfect muffin; that elusive height and big fat overhang, and today, when I opened the oven door, I greeted these baked beauties with a jig of muffin joy.

Can you seeeeeee how tall they are? They look proud and noble....okok not noble, not sure muffins can, but if they could....

The only sliiiiight problem is that I don’t know exactly what I did this time that made my muffins tall and proud and jig-worthy. I thought, in fact, that I had dillied and dallied too much for this to be a real success story. The supposed secret to perfect muffins is to chuck, stir, bake, messing about, but I took a little while to get the mixture into its cases; not one of my strong points, and thought, therefore, that this would be just another stop along the journey: destination muffin joy. But I got there in one piece and was rewarded with the most delicious, light and airy treat.

So yeeeeeah, not reeeeeally sure that my triumph has unlocked some secret entrance into muffin nirvana or revealed any nugget of information that even Nigella would thank me for, other than the fact that some days the baking gods must on you....and you might as well turn the oven on and keep on trying just in case today is your day. With Love and Cake.

Banana and Butterscotch Muffins.
Original recipe is Nigella's, from her Express book.

A few notes:
  • So these butterscotch wonderful friend bought these back for me from her recent trip to Canada. I've known about them for a while thanks to Nigella so you can imagine my joy when presented with them. I know however that not aaaaall of you however will have Atlantic hopping friends (deffo try and find some) and this makes things harder. I think you can get them in some posh food places like Harvey Nicks and in those specialist American sweet shops and you can definitely find them online. If that' just too much hassle for you though, just substitution them with chocolate chips, I suggest dark chocolate, in the muffins, and golden syrup in the filling.
  • Of course you can leave out the butterscotch filling and drizzle; you will lose some of the decadence but that's not always a bad thing.
Makes 10-12
You will need

A 12-hole muffin tray, lined with muffin cases

For the muffins
3 ripe bananas
125ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
250g plain flour
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
150g butterscotch chips

For the sauce
75g unsalted butter
50g soft light brown sugar
50g caster sugar
2 heaped tbsp butterscotch chips
125ml double cream
a good pinch salt

  • Let's bake. First preheat the oven to 200˚c.
  • Mash up the bananas finely and set aside.
  • Measure the oil into a measuring jug and whisk in the eggs.
  • Mix the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder together into a bowl and stir in the oil/egg mixture followed by the bananas.
  • Finally stir through the butterscotch pieces.
  • Divide the mixture between your cases....I always overfill mine a bit so only make 10, if that's the case for you too then make sure you fill the empty holes in your muffin pan with water so the heat distributes evenly.
  • Get the muffins in the oven as soon as you can and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile make the wonderful filling. Simply heat the butter, sugars and butterscotch chips gently in a small pan until the sugars are dissolved and the chips have melted.
  • Pour in the cream and salt and let bubble away for 1 minute or so.
  • Leave to cool.
  • When the muffin are baked and golden and proud, let them cool for a while on a wire rack.
  • Then time to add the filling; use a little serrated knife to cut a 'lid' off the top of the muffin.
  • Pop a teaspoonful of butterscotch sauce into the hole you have cut and replace the muffin 'lid'
  • Drizzle extra sauce over the muffins if you haven't eaten it all with a spoon and do your muffin jig.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Pierogi: Polish Dumplings with Blackcurrants.

Goodness me I’m having a lovely Sunday-time. After a rather enjoyable hour of kitchen pottering I’ve just eaten a stinking big plateful of these chaps with a bit of BBC’s Birdsong adaptation. I didn’t eat Birdsong, ate with it, well with it on the telly....ow you know what I mean. Anyway...have you watched it? You deeeeefinitely, first you should read it, it will take you no time, and then you should watch it, if only for Eddie Redmayne’s longloooong stares into the middle distance and the sadsad piano which accompanies them.

There’s a headache which has been threatening to spoil the fun all day but do you know, as soon as I stepped out of the kitchen I realised I hadn’t felt it throughout the whole pottering episode; despite the fact that it included sticky dough and rolling out and poaching and frying in sugar. That is the power of the oven, it takes away your woes and gives you a metaphorical shoulder well as doing that genius cake baking thing.

Not that I would suggest you wait until you need to relieve a headache to make these interesting little treats; and I don’t mean interesting in a ‘hummm, these taste....interesting’ way. No, I mean in a ‘wow I never even knew of the existence of these and heck they really are quite lovely’ way. They’re an eastern European dumpling which can be sweet or savoury; think of them as, essentially, a kind of ravioli which is poached and then fried in butter and sugar.

Yesyes I know that makes then sound complicated and a bit technical but like I said, they have magical headache relieving powers and if I can happily cook them while under that painful black cloud I have inherited from our dear mother and not accidently chop off fingers or vomit then it can’t be that taxing. So Birdsong from Amazon and get a batch of these on the go, you won’t regret either. With Love and Cake.

Blackcurrant Pierogi. 
By Ren Behan for Delicious magazine.

A few notes:
  • These, I’m sure, would be lovely with any number of fillings. The recipe I followed called for blueberries though I think any small would work or you could go with jam; just adjust or leave out the sugar accordingly. Or perhaps go totally of piste and try a savoury filling; cheese and cooked potato perhaps.
  • The temperature of the pan when frying is fairly important; too hot and your sugar will burn, not hot enough and you won’t get lovely golden dumplings. There’s no specific strategy you can follow to achieve this, just be vigilant.
Makes about 18
You will need 

250g plain flour 
2 tbsp icing sugar 
1 egg 
Pinch salt 
Around 125ml warm water 
150g blackcurrants 
4 tbsp caster sugar plus extra for frying and dusting 
50g butter 
Serve with sweetened whipped double cream 
  • First we make the dough. You can do this is a bowl but I did what I was told and just used a clean worktop...sift the flour and sugar onto the work surface and make a well in the middle.
  • Break the egg into the well, sprinkle in the salt and add a few tablespoons of the water.
  • Using a knife, start mixing everything together, adding more water as and when you need.
  • Finally use your hands to bring the dough together and knead for 4-5 minutes until shiny and springy.
  • Pop the dough in a bowl, cover with Clingfilm or a damp tea towel and set aside for 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile stir the sugar into the berries and set aside.
  • When the hour is up, split the dough into two, to make it easier to handle, and roll to 3mm thick.
  • Cut rounds out of the dough using an 8cm cutter or an upturned glass of a similar size. Gather up the leftovers and reroll and cut until it is all used up. Do the same with the second half of dough.
  • Now fill each round with 4 or 5 berries and fold them in half to form a semicircle and pinch the join to seal.
  • Bring a big pan of water to a gentle boil and poach the pierogi in batches for 2-3 minutes, or until they float to the surface.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and drain.
  • Last step is to fry the pierogi. Melt the butter in a heavy based frying pan, add the dumplings, in batches, with a dusting of caster sugar and fry each side until golden and caramelised.
  • Serve with an extra dusting of caster sugar and whipped double cream.
  • DON’T leave the kitchen or your headache will return.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


You chaps out there; you possibly imaginary, possibly not, chaps and chapesses, constantly surprise me with what you like and what draws you in. Sometimes I post things which I LOVE and cannot rave about enough and are easy peasy lemon squeezy...yet all remains a bit quiet. And then sometimes I post things which I love but I worry might come across as a bit faffy, have multiple steps or might just be plain boring to you and suddenly, without warning, everything gets a bit busy.

Yeasty things always do it to me. I haven’t posted many bready recipes along the way because I usually think you lot will not be interested in them; looking at the extended method part of the recipe and be put off...’whhhhhy would I make my own cinnamon buns?’ I imagine you saying. ‘It takes hooooours’. But you prove me wrong and millions of people stop by to check them out (ok not millions, maybe one day).

I think maybe it’s because I really do imagine you sis, reading my words, all alone at the other end of this blog string that connects us, and thinking ‘mmmmm, why yes that lemon tart does sound delicious...ok bbyyyye, I’m off to clack around some more in my fashionista heels’. But it seeeeeems that some people do actually turn their ovens on sometimes and here I am, with a yeasty treat and a half and I am hopinghoping that millions (ok a few) of those imaginary people out there like the idea and have a go.

The thing that makes bagels bagely is their chewiness and you get that my poaching them just before they go in the oven. It is a WEIRD thing to do with a dough and I had aaaall sorts of mess happening in my head before I first tried it, but it’s easier than it sounds and is kind of quite fascinating. I just had one for my lunch, fresh from the oven, and woweeee it was the best bagel eveeeeer. So sis, it’s ok I know you won’t be having a go anytime soon, but, other chaps, let me know if you’re not actually imaginary and you do. With Love and Cake.

From River Cottage Handbook No. 3: Bread

A few notes:
  • You can top your bagels with poppy or sesame seeds just before you bake them if you wish...I just get annoyed when they fall off and make a big ol' mess.
  • Cream cheese is my fav bagel accompaniment...but you go in which ever direction you prefer.
Makes 6 
You will need

a baking tray, lightly oiled

250g strong white bread flour
1.5 tsp dried yeast
1.5 tsp salt
125ml warm water
10g caster sugar
25ml vegetable or other flavourless oil

milk of beaten egg for glazing

  • Making the dough is easy; all you do is mix all the ingredients, apart from the glaze, together in a bowl.
  • Turn it out onto a clean surface and knead for around 5 minutes; until shiny and springy.
  • Pop the dough back in its bowl, cover with a plastic bag or some clingfilm and leave to rise in a cosy place until it has doubled in size; 1 to 1.5 hours.
  • Turn the dough out of the bowl and knock it about to release the air. Divide it into 6 equal pieces and roll each one into a sausage shape about 15cm long.
  • Wet one of the ends of each sausage with water and fuse the ends together to make a ring.
  • Transfer the bagels to an oiled board or baking sheet and leave to double in size for around 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200°c and bring a big pan of water to the boil.
  • When the bagels are ready bring the water down to a simmer and poach them in the water for 1 minute each'll probably need to do them in batches because you need to leave enough space for them to puff up considerably.
  • Drain the poached bagels on a clean tea towel (don't use kitchen paper, it will stick and make you sad) and transfer to your prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until all the bagels and deeply bronzed.
  • Cool for a bit but then eat as soooooon as poss and tell me how lovely they are.