Archive for category Baking
I know some may be rolling their eyes and thinking not another brownie recipe! True, there are a million and despite the fact that there is probably a brownie recipe in half of the cook books I own I still find myself searching for “the” brownie recipe. You know the one. I like my brownie really dark and “chocolatey”, squidgy in the middle, it mustn’t be too dry, I like a crackly top and I prefer no nuts in mine but to each their own. So you can see I’m as particular about my brownie as Goldilocks was about her porridge! A lackluster brownie is such a disappointment!
I could go on and on trying out new brownie recipes just in case its “the one” but a couple of years ago I found a recipe in one of my favourite cake books, The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. Those brownies were really good, ticking all the right boxes! So that’s the recipe I’ve gone back to, Ive tweaked it a bit over time, adding less sugar than the vast amount in the original recipe. I always use dark chocolate that’s good for eating such as Lindt or Green and Blacks, I’m not a fan of the taste of cooking chocolate. Like the advice to only use wine in cooking that you would drink I believe the same applies to chocolate.
In the picture you will notice that my brownies are quite flat, this is not how I prefer them but I used the pan I bought that calls itself a “brownie” pan, which is rectangular. I would recommend using a square pan so the brownies are deeper thus more squidgy in the middle!
The inspiration for this post comes from my friend, Lorrie, who has asked me more than once for my brownie recipe! (finally, the recipe Lorrie!) I made her some a long time ago and she remembered them! In fact this is my most asked for recipe!
Do you have a favourite brownie recipe? Do let me know, I am quite addicted to brownie recipes!
Brownies (adapted from this recipe)
- 170 grams (6 oz) butter, (if watching your salt intake use unsalted but for an added flavour dimension use salted butter)
- 170 grams (6 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
- 225 grams (8 oz) caster sugar, I use unrefined
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp espresso coffee powder
- 130(4.5 oz) grams plain flour
- 3 large eggs
- A little icing sugar to decorate (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 170 c, 325 f, Gas 3. Grease and line with baking paper a brownie pan.
- Place the butter and chopped chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water to melt. Stir until combined. Remove from the heat.
- Add the sugar, vanilla and coffee, stir until combined. Mixture will appear grainy.
- Mix together the eggs and add to the chocolate mixture in 3 stages stirring well between additions.
- Add the flour and mix until combined.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for around 20 – 25 minutes. The brownies are cooked when they look cooked on the surface but are still a little soft in the middle.
- Leave to cool in pan and when completely cooled remove from pan and cut into portions.
- Sprinkle with icing sugar.
I have abstained from baking, particularly cakes for the last few weeks. Well one can only abstain for so long! It was a long weekend here last week and I wanted to make a cake! You would imagine that I would have known exactly what to bake but that was not the case, choosing which cake proved to be a hard decision. Lots of recipe perusing left me with a craving for an orange cake, lots more perusing led me to the discovery of orange and cardamom cakes! After all this perusing I was out of time and now didn’t have all the ingredients for any of the cakes I found so I improvised, using my Lemon Olive Oil cake recipe but swapping orange and cardamom for lemon and making my own buttermilk as I forgot to buy yoghurt! I could not have been more disorganised if Id tried!
Despite my disorganisation this cake was a triumph! Orange and cardamom are a match made in heaven! The smell of the fresh ground cardamom and the orange zest is amazing, if ever I get around to making my own body scrub this will be the scent I use! The cake is light and fluffy and very moist.
note : Making your own buttermilk, if you don’t have any, is really easy! Just stir 1 tbsp of lemon juice into 1 cup of milk, it will begin to thicken almost immediately, leave for 10 minutes and use instead buttermilk
Orange Cardamom Cake
- 200 grams (1 cup) caster sugar (I use unrefined)
- zest of 1 large orange (unwaxed if you can)
- 3 cardamom pods
- 2 eggs
- 220 grams (1.5 cups) self-raising flour
- 20o mls (3/4 cup) buttermilk
- 155 mls (2/3 cup) olive oil
- Pre heat your oven to 180 C, 350 F, Gas 4. Grease and base line a loaf tin.
- Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and grind until powdery using a pestle and mortar. Add to the sugar with the orange zest and using your fingers mix together well, this releases the oils in the zest and makes a wonderful fragrant mix.
- Whisk together the orange, cardamom sugar and the eggs, adding the eggs one at a time. I use my stand mixer for this.
- Mix in the buttermilk.
- Mix in the olive oil.
- Fold in the flour.
- Pour into prepared loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.
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 and 2 tbsp of lemon juice for the cake mix and a further 2 tsp of zest and 2 tbsp of lemon juicefor 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