Archive for category Baking
My posts are so infrequent at the moment one would be forgiven for wondering if I have stopped eating! Truth is I’m doing my first Whole 30 and although its going well (I’m on day 27!) I have found myself in the pattern of eating pretty much the same few meals on rotation, although it is a little boring its made my life the last month easier.
I made these canapes for guests at Easter and luckily remembered to take a picture, admittedly only when all the best looking ones had been eaten! So apologies for my “keeping it real” themed picture!
These canapes are just the easiest thing ever! Just 3 ingredients, it’s hardly even a recipe. I saw the idea in a magazine advertisement years ago and I have made them ever since when I want to produce a quick canape that tastes good and looks like I’ve made an effort. The original recipe called for Port Salut cheese, a mild semi soft French cheese made from cows milk. It used to be easy enough to get in the UK but this time I had to go to 2 supermarkets to find mine. If you can’t get hold of Port Salut, I think Muenster or Gouda work instead.
Couldn’t be Easier Cheese and Cherry Tomato Canapes
- 1 pack puff pastry
- 1 tbsp of butter, melted
- 2 packs of Port Salut cheese, cut into thin slices
- 12 cherry tomatoes, each sliced in half
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 220 C, 425 F, Gas 7. Grease a mini tart tin with the melted butter.
- Roll out the puff pastry and using a small cutter cut out 24 circles.
- Put the pastry circles into the mini tart tin, pushing the pastry down to line the bottoms of the tin.
- Place a slice of cheese into each pastry round. some of the slices cut at the wider end of the cheese will need trimming to fit into the pastry.
- Top each piece of cheese with a cherry tomato half.
- Give each tart a grind of black pepper and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry has browned, some of the tomatoes will be starting to caramelise. You can at this stage take out the browner ones leaving the rest to cook a little more, I find they never cook evenly.
- Place onto a serving platter and serve at room temperature.
Lemon brownies, who knew? I recently came across them on Pinterest and couldn’t believe I had never heard of them! I love brownies and I love lemon, of course that would be a good combination, why hadn’t I thought of it before! All the recipes I found were in cups so I did a bit of converting, added a bit more lemon and made these to serve with coffee at Easter. They are so easy to make, I love cakes that come together quickly with the minimum of fuss and these certainly fit that bill. I think I like them even more than chocolate brownies and my husband who doesn’t like brownies at all (imagine!) loved these! They are moist yet light and the lemon is strong without been overpowering, these are my new go to cake! Well they will be when I bake again! I’m having a baking break at the moment, all that baking is not good for a girls waistband!
- 115 grams unsalted butter, softened
- 150 grams caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 125 grams plain flour
- 2 lemons, unwaxed if possible as you will need the zest
For the glaze
- 100 grams icing sugar
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Preheat your oven to 180C, 350F, Gas 4. Grease and base line your brownie pan, the pan I use measures 11 x 9 inches.
- Zest and juice your lemons. You will need the zest of one of the lemons for the cake mix and a further 2 tsp of zest for the glaze. For the cake mix you will need 2 tbsp of juice and a further 2 tbsp for the glaze
- Beat together the butter and sugar until creamy.
- Add the eggs, one a time mixing between additions.
- Add the lemon zest and juice.
- Fold the flour into the wet mixture.
- Pour into your prepared baking pan and bake for around 25 minutes until the top is golden and it is cooked through.
- Allow to cool completely in the pan.
- To make the glaze simply mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice and zest.
- Spread the glaze over the brownie and cut into squares.
I haven’t been here for a long time! Sometimes even a food blogger can lose enthusiasm and get into that routine of making the same things over and over!
I don’t make a lot of pastry based dishes but I was having some people over and made this easy tart to have with drinks before dinner, it was such a success that I thought Id share it here. As I had a lot of other things also cooking I saved time by using shop-bought (pre rolled!) pastry for the tart base, if doing that I always use the all-butter version as the ingredients are the same as if you made it yourself. I also saved some time by baking the pastry case the day before.
This tart came together really easily and could easily be adapted by adding a different cheese or ham or some vegetables, asparagus would be great! It could also be lightened by using single cream. It would make a lovely lunch served with some salad or cut into much smaller slices serve, as I did, as a canape.
Easy Roasted Red Onion and Feta Tart
- Shortcrust pastry, (the ready rolled pastry sheet I used weighed 215 grams which was just enough to line my pie plate)
- 2 small red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 large eggs
- 300 ml double cream
- salt and pepper
- 100 grams feta cheese
- a sprig of thyme for scattering, a pinch of dried thyme would be fine too.
- Pre-heat the oven to 190C, 375F, Gas 5.
- Place your pastry onto your pie plate, trim the excess and prick the base. Cover the pastry with baking paper and put baking beans on top of that to blind bake your pastry case. If you don’t have baking beans a sheet of double foil pressed onto the pastry will do the job. Bake for 10 minutes then take out of the oven and remove the baking beans and paper. Bake for a further 10 minutes or until the pastry is golden. This can be done ahead of time, even the day before.
- To make the tart filling, place your onion wedges onto a baking tray, toss in the olive oil and roast for around 20- 25 minutes, until the onions are just starting brown.
- While the onions are roasting beat the eggs in a medium bowl, add the cream, salt and pepper.
- Place the roasted onions onto the pastry case, pour over the egg and cream mix.
- Crumble the feta onto the tart filling and scatter with a few thyme leaves.
- Reduce the oven to 180C, 350F, Gas 4. Bake for 30 minutes, until set and golden brown.
- Serve at room temperature.
I’m not sure of the reason but recently madeleines seemed to be popping up everywhere! It wasnt long before those delicate, shell shaped cakes lodged themselves into my subconscience and finally I had to get the madeleine pan out and make some for myself! That shell shaped pan is one that I have rarely used, bought in a sale long ago it joined the bundt and other shaped baking pans in my cupboard, all coveted then once obtained, for some reason, rarely used!
When my friend Charlotte made madeleines she shared the tip that the madeleine batter should be chilled to improve the texture of them, this was news to me! My impatient nature had me seeking out madeleine recipes that didn’t require chilling but it seemed there was no escaping the chilling stage! I settled on Dorie Greenspan’s recipe (I’m a big fan of Dorie’s recipes) and it was actually really easy, I made up the batter in the morning and chilled my madeleines for 3 hours while I went out then I came home to bake them.
Once Id decided to make madeleines I knew the last of my Meyer lemons would be part of that recipe, I also had some browned butter in the fridge so thought Id use that too. I finished off with a little bit more Meyer lemon loveliness by brushing the finished madeleines with a lemon glaze. As I added that sweet glaze at the end I used less sugar in the madeleine mixture, I’ve been experimenting with less sugar in everything these days as my husband has recently been diagnosed with diabetes. I was really happy with my madeleines, the brown butter adds a lovely almost toasty taste ,which alongside the slightly sweeter Meyer lemon flavour is a lovely combination indeed! Of course I’m sure regular lemons and regular melted butter would also be delicious!
My husband (feeling very deprived of cakes due to his recent diabetes diagnosis) loved these and asked how long Id had that tin, when I told him his reply was “why have I only just had these now then”? Good question, maybe I was just looking for the right recipe!
Meyer Lemon & Brown Butter Madeleines (adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe)
- 90 grams flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 75 grams caster sugar (I use unrefined)
- zest of one Meyer lemon
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 90 grams brown butter melted
For the Glaze
- 75 grams icing sugar
- 1.5 tbsp Meyer lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
For the method
- To make the madeleines I used Dorie Greenspan’s method here
- For the brown butter simply melt the butter over medium heat until the butter turns nut-brown in colour, this takes around 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and pour the butter into a bowl. When you are ready to use your butter leave any burnt sediment behind.
- Once the madeleines have been removed from the tin, allow to cool for around 10 minutes. While they are cooling you can make the glaze by simply mixing the icing sugar, lemon juice and zest together.
- Using a pastry brush, brush some glaze on the shell patterned side of each madeleine. It’s not very thick so wont show very much but adds a lovely lemony finish.
The #TwelveLoaves theme for January is all about a clean slate and keeping things simple. The perfect theme for January. I’ve tried a couple of loaves for this months challenge and had a little trouble, the trouble was I was trying different whole grain flours. I think I was trying too hard, often something I suffer from! So out of the blue I bought some white bread flour, much to my husbands disappointment our house went wholemeal years ago!
I had much better success with this loaf! For the first time I made a soft, fluffy loaf of bread! It’s a perfectly simple loaf, and very well-behaved, rising as it should do even on a cold day. I often have raising issues when making bread, my house never seems to be warm enough. Needless to say my husband loved this simple white loaf, thus confirming his opinion that there is no bread better than white! I will be trying this recipe with wholemeal flour though, I’m determined to find a good loaf made with a whole grain flour!
Simple White Bread (inspired by Gennaro Contaldo’s recipe for basic bread dough in his book Passione)
- 500 grams strong white flour
- 1 tsp quick/easy bake yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 300 mls water
- A little corn meal for spreading on the baking tray
- Put the flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl. Mix until it all comes together to form a dough the knead for about minutes. I use my stand mixer for this job.
- After the five minutes knead, form the dough into a ball put back into the large bowl and cover with cling film. Leave somewhere warm to rise for 1 hour.
- When its risen to double its original size knock the air out of the dough, form into the desired shape, (I just made a flattish ball) and place onto baking sheet that’s been lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.
- Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for a further hour.
- Bake on the bottom shelf of an oven preheated to 240 C, 475 F, Gas 9 for 25- 30 minutes. Its ready when you tap the bottom of the loaf and it sounds hollow.
- Cool on a baking rack.
To see what others have baked in the monthly #Twelveloaves challenge see Lora’s blog Cake Duchess
As I’m writing this it is -1 c and snowing, I also have a day off! Faced with a snowy day off thoughts naturally turned to cake! Id been planning to make marmalade today as Id found some lovely big Seville oranges but although the inspiration for today’s cake, they will have to wait for another day.
This simple orange cake uses a whole orange, olive oil and a little less sugar, its easy to make and bakes fast. I enjoyed a slice with coffee while watching our lovely snowy day but it would be equally good with some cream for a simple dessert. Using the whole orange gives a strong orange flavour with a hint of bitterness from the peel every now and then, but the cake is sweet enough so it really is only a hint.
Whole Orange Cake
- 1 orange
- 100 ml olive oil
- 130 grams caster sugar (I use unrefined)
- 2 eggs
- 140 grams plain flour
- 70 grams ground almonds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Cover an orange with water in a pan and bring to the boil, simmer for 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle slice open and remove all pips. Puree in a food processor.
- Preheat oven to 175 C, 350 F, Gas 4 and grease and line an 8 inch cake tin.
- Add the olive oil and sugar to the orange puree, blend well.
- Add the eggs, one at a time mixing between each addition.
- Add all of the dry ingredients and gently mix until just incorporated.
- Pour into cake tin and bake for 35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into The cake comes out dry.
- Cool for 30 minutes in the tin then turn out onto a cooling rack.
The theme for this months #TwelveLoaves is booze! Well that had me stumped! Not only do I have a little issue using yeast but apart from the odd glass of wine or Margarita I’m not much of an alcohol user, in fact Id go so far to say that alcohol in cooking many times spoils things for me. I almost wimped out. I hate doing that though and with it been the season to be jolly I thought I should enter into the spirit of things (excuse the pun, lol!). One alcohol infused thing I do have a fondness for is mincemeat, in days gone by I used to enjoy a mince pie a day leading up to Christmas! That was of course before I realised the calories in one mince pie, gosh ignorance is bliss! I made my own mincemeat last year which was wonderful. This year I’m less organised and pushed for time so I began with a jar of ready-made mincemeat and added my own additions to liven it up a little. I had visions of using a yeast bread along with my mincemeat but that time thing cropped up again so I opted to make a loaf cake which is also known as a quick bread and suitable for the #TwelveLoaves challenge.
I added dried cranberries, dried cherries and of course brandy to my mincemeat, letting them soak overnight before making this festive loaf the next day. I don’t know why I’ve never thought of this before! It’s really easy and perfect for this time of the year. It’s a great way to use up mincemeat if you can’t be bothered to make or don’t like pastry. I used Mary Berry’s recipe as my base.
Time is running away and its Christmas Eve as I’m posting this. Growing up Christmas eve was always so exciting for us but very busy for my Mother. It seemed to be the day for a big clean followed by preparing for the next days big meal. I know a lot of people enjoy Christmas eve even more than Christmas day, personally I always find it to be a slightly chaotic day with lots of list checking, last-minute wrapping and shopping and me alternately cleaning and cooking. I look forward to the end of the day when all is done and I can enjoy a glass of mulled wine while watching a Christmas movie. However you are spending your Christmas eve I hope its a good one.
Merry Christmas to all.
Brandied Mincemeat Loaf (adapted from Mary Berry’s recipe)
- 1 jar of mincemeat
- 75 grams dried cranberries
- 75 grams dried cherries
- 1.5 tbsp brandy
- 75 grams light muscodavo sugar
- 75 grams butter, softened
- 1 large egg
- 115 grams self-raising flour
- The day before you want to make your loaf empty the mincemeat into a bowl, add the dried cranberries, dried cherries and brandy. Mix together well. Cover and leave overnight to steep.
- Preheat oven to 160 C, 325 F, Gas 3. Grease and line a loaf tin.
- Cream together the butter and sugar.
- Beat in the egg.
- Add all the other ingredients, combine well then pour into the prepared loaf tin.
- Bake for 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes before turning out onto a cake rack to completely cool.
I was so looking forward to making this. The theme for this months #TwelveLoaves is apples and pears. As I don’t really make much bread I was very tempted to make an apple loaf which of course would really be cake but I’ve done that on this blog before and that would kind of defeat the purpose in my taking part in #twelveloaves, I’m enjoying the challenge of leaving my comfort zone and making more bread and using the dreaded yeast! What is it about yeast that can put me off making a recipe? I looked around and the recipe that most appealed was for pull apart bread, I saw it on pinterest and all over the internet. I looked at quite a few versions and it seemed the most popular recipe was from King Arthur Flour. I decided to try it out, as I’m not a very experienced bread maker I thought I would stick to the recipe as it is.
Play the cartoon wa-wa-wa music when something goes wrong, because that’s what happened. The recipe was a fail for me! Maybe I used the wrong yeast, maybe I was just unlucky. I wasn’t going to bother posting this but just because I write a food blog doesn’t mean I don’t have kitchen fails so I thought I’d share!
The apple filling was delicious and made the house smell so good. The problem was that the dough just wouldn’t rise, I left it in a warm place for the required hour, then for another hour in a different warm place. It rose a little so I thought Id give it a go. It was a fiddly mess to make, the filling was quite runny (I did leave the clear gel out as I didn’t have any/ really know what it was!) and that made the layers heavy and difficult to stack. I managed though and it all fit into the loaf tin very nicely, although the recipe says it will double in size and my tin was already full to the brim so I wondered what would happen. Well of course I needn’t have worried as predictably my loaf hardly rose at all! I put it in the oven anyway and it seemed to cook in the right amount of time. It smelled good and even looked good. But when it came to taking it out of the tin it felt quite solid and heavy. Then when I tried to pull it apart to take a picture I realised my doubts were correct, the bread needed more sinking in of the finger nails and tugging firmly to break apart the layers! No pulling apart at the “gentlest of touches” as the recipe suggests! I used the instant yeast out of a can as that’s what I had rather than using the instant yeast sachets, I think that is possibly where I went wrong. I was careful that the water and milk were neither too warm or cold but I find that the canned yeast is just too fussy and I’ve had problems with it before. The overall look of the loaf was good and I good see I wasnt far off but it was heavy, too heavy, you could have broken a window with that loaf if so inclined! I guess it wasn’t the end of the world, it did cook through and it was kind of edible it was just so disappointingly heavy that it really wasnt worth the calories.
So there you have it, I am probably #TwelveLoaves first failure! But I’m not giving up, I may well try this recipe again as it looks so good and I hate getting things wrong! If you have used this recipe or a similar recipe and have had success please let me know!
For the recipe for the Apple and Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread see here
I was delighted to be asked to participate in the Sunvil Supper club for October (yes I realise its now November, time escapes me!) Sunvil is an award-winning travel operator offering holidays in some of the most amazing places, different places that you may not yet have traveled to such as the Azores, the Faroe islands or the Galapagos islands as well as numerous other destinations. I was even more delighted when I discovered the recipe was for Swedish cinnamon buns. I just love cinnamon buns, growing up in America cinnamon buns were a staple in our house. Typical of the era they were most often out of a can but boy did they taste good. As a child I so loved the Pillsbury dough man! Cinnamon buns are something that I always have when I find them on holiday but they are rare here, especially good ones. Despite earmarking several recipes to make my own cinnamon buns I’ve never managed to overcome the fact that they contain yeast! The addition of yeast somehow put them into the fussy to make, hard category so cinnamon buns remained ever on my “to make” list.
Well I can cross them off that list now as I’ve made them and of course they were not hard at all! It was an easy dough to make, once risen you simply roll the dough and spread with the cinnamon butter mix. The dough is then rolled into a sausage shape and cut into rounds, interestingly you then place each round into a muffin case before rising again and finally baking. Although the recipe was very easy to follow I don’t think I made them as perfectly as they should have been, they didn’t seem to rise as much as I thought they would. I wonder if I used the wrong yeast as the recipe doesn’t specify. I had 3 helpers to eat them though and we all thought they were great! They were reminiscent but different to the huge, sweet cinnamon buns I grew up with. These were less sweet and a much more manageable size. I particularly liked the addition of cardamom. They partner up perfectly with a cup of coffee.
Swedish Cinnamon Buns
Thank you to Sunvil for inviting me to take part in the supper club and for providing me with the ingredients to make these buns.
No one can fail to have seen the devastation caused by the storm called Sandy that recently hit and devastated parts of the east coast of America. Seeing the coverage on tv it was hard to hard to believe what I was seeing. Not just water damage but fires had broken out and so many people were without power. Some were able to stay in hotels while they waited for power to be restored but what happened to the others? I know it wouldn’t have been in my budget to be able to stay in a hotel at the drop of a hat. If I were one of the people whose houses were destroyed I honestly don’t know what I would do. My heart goes out to those poor people. Of course people lost more than just belongings, some also lost loved ones, such terrible sadness. From so far away all I can do is hold those people in my thoughts and wish them well.
Of course the news changes and attention moves to other stories. Those people without houses however are still living that life. Then I saw this post of Barb’s asking food bloggers to unite, show support and make a comfort dish on November 8th, something you would make for someone in need of a little help and maybe donate something to the various charities helping those affected by that terrible storm.
So that’s what I’m doing, today I’m sharing this recipe for apple crumble as part of the Food Bloggers Support for Sandy event organised by Barb from Creative Culinary and Jen Jenn Cuisine Of course it doesn’t just have to be today, the link up is open for the rest of November so join us!
Apple crumble seemed just the sort of dish that one would associate with comfort food. Of course something savoury would probably be more appropriate for someone without use of a kitchen but I figured there is always room for dessert! My version is quite generous with the crumble. I like to use unrefined muscovado sugar and cinnamon so its fragrant and sweet.
For the fruit filling
- 750 grams apples, about 6 large
- 30 grams unrefined muscovado sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
For the crumble
- 180 grams plain flour
- 120 grams unrefined muscovado sugar
- 100 grams unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 180 C, 350, F, Gas 4
- Peel and core the apples then slice them.Place in a bowl and mix with the sugar and cinnamon, seeing that all the apple slices are coated.
- To make the crumble rub together the flour, sugar and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Put the apples into an oven proof dish and sprinkle the crumble over the top of them until all the apples are covered.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is brown and crisp.
- Serve warm or cold with ice-cream, custard or cream.
If you feel inclined to make a donation here are some of the larger organizations that are helping the victims of Sandy.
- American Red Cross is providing food, shelter, and other forms of support to hurricane victims. You can donate directly to the Red Cross or you can also text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
- The Salvation Army is also focused on providing food, shelter, and support to victims, and takes donations for storm relief.
- Feeding America is providing food, water and supplies to those who need it as part of their disaster relief program.
If donating from the UK the above websites will not accept a UK address the British Red Cross also has a hurricane Sandy appeal.