Saturday, 16 May 2020
1 Lemon, thinly sliced
1 cup caster sugar
1) Put lemon into cold water and bring to a boil. Drain.
2) Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar and heat until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon and simmer for one hour, until lemon slices are translucent.
3) Carefully remove slices and place on parchment to cool.
In no way do I think candied peel is for everybody. One of my children picks out out of his hot cross buns, and many others I know find it the worst part of their Christmas pudding. But I personally love it, and want to be able to make my own since the shop bought options are so miserable these days. You used to be able to easily purchase whole pieces of candied fruit (in admittedly dusty boxes), but now you can only get microscopic candied peel in mixed, bland tubs.
One of the standard bakes that I find pleases most crowds is a Lemon Drizzle Cake, but it can often be left looking quite drab next to other options. I thought I should try my hand at making candied peel so that I can pimp it up when necessary.
This recipe wasn't awful, but it wasn't amazing, either. I think more cooking of the peel is required, so will probably try this recipe next time.
Friday, 8 May 2020
1/2 cup caster sugar
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp flaky sea salt
3 Tbsp double cream
100g 74% dark chocolate
7/8 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 flaky sea salt
2/3 cup plain flour
1) Set square of baking paper over a medium sized plate.
2) In a medium, dry saucepan over medium-high heat, melt your sugar. This will take around 5 minutes, and you can shoogle the pan around if chunks appear in order to melt them. You are aiming for a copper colour here, nothing lighter, nothing darker (that will mean it's burnt)
3) Remove from heat as soon as this happens and add the butter. Stir in, but it won't combine perfectly. That's ok.
4) Add the cream and return to medium high heat, bringing back to a simmer and melting any sugar that solidified. Cook it until it darkens just slightly.
5) Pour the caramel onto the parchment and transfer it to your freezer until it's solid, probably around 20 minutes or so.
6) Preheat oven to 180C and line an 8X8 inch pan with baking paper
7) Melt your butter and then add the chocolate. Hopefully there will be enough heat in the butter to melt the chocolate without further heating, but heat further if required in short, low spurts.
8) Mix in butter, then eggs, then vanilla, then salt, then flour.
9) Remove your caramel from the freezer and chop into rough 1 inch squares, then fold all but a few of these into your batter.
10) Scrape batter into pan and sprinkle remaining pieces over the top.
11) Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, erring on the side of under-baking if in doubt, as brownies will harden and continue to cook as they cool
12) Cool completely before cutting if you want nice, clean cuts. Eat with a spoon if you don't.
It was my birthday the other day, and my husband had been asking me all week what kind of cake I'd like. The family celebration cake in recent years has become a fraisier, but this cake is complicated, and I knew I'd be making one next month for my son, and I didn't want my husband to make a cake. This is not because he is bad at baking - far from it, he is very skilled in the kitchen. It is the cleaning up afterwards he isn't as good at. And the last thing I want to stare at on my birthday is a kitchen that looks like drug dealers have hit it while looking for the secret stash. So I told him I'd like to try a new recipe out...and then quickly had to decide what recipe that was going to be.
One item I often get from my local bakers is a salted caramel brownie. A good brownie is a difficult thing to master, and a caramel brownie makes this even tricker. But one of my colleagues had brought some into the office to much acclaim, and I thought I'd get the recipe off her. I messaged her on the morning of the big day, and she quickly sent over the link. Scanning down the list, I saw I needed a couple of items, but that was ok - part of my birthday treat was going to be the weekly trip to the supermarket. Lockdown birthdays are awesome.
The original recipe, from Smitten Kitchen, called for baking chocolate, but I wasn't up for finding that. It has only one use, and I prefer to get dark chocolate as it can be used for non-baking emergencies as well as in recipes. The rest of the ingredients were simple enough to find, and once mid-afternoon hit, I set to work, made them, cut them into a tower, then handed candles I had bought to my husband and told him to gather everyone and sing to me so that I could eat some. So part control freak, but also part willing to take action if I see no one else is gonna do anything.
The real key to this recipe is making solid caramel. Before I'd made runny caramel which just disappeared into brownies, but this gave me definite blobs of it, meaning you immediately knew what you were in for. The brownies recipe itself may need tinkered with, but I know I'll use this caramel recipe again for sure.
Monday, 4 May 2020
280g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
310ml sour cream or yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
160g finely chopped walnuts or pecans
260g light brown sugar
150g melted butter
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
220g frozen, pitted cherries
Preheat your oven to 180C with a rack in the middle & line a 9X13inch pan with baking paper.
1) Blitz all the streusel toppings together in a food processor and set aside. If you don't have one, just mix by hand. Melted butter helps it all lump together nicely, but you can skip melting it if you like and get a more crumbly texture
2) In a large bowl, cream your butter and sugar.
3) Beat in eggs one at a time
4) Measure your dry ingredients together in one bowl, and your yoghurt/sour cream mixed with vanilla in another.
5) Add a third of the flour mix to your large bowl and mix in. Then add half your yoghurt/sour cream mix and stir in. Then some flour, then some wet stuff, then the last of the flour.
6) Pour into your lined pan and spread to evenly cover the bottom.
7) Scatter the cherries over the batter
8) Scatter the Streusel over the top and push around to get even coverage. You may get geysers of batter that erupt through the cherries and streusel, but that's ok.
9) Bake and check after 40 minutes. You may need a lot more, but that's a good time to check and turn the pan for even baking.
EXCLUSIVE: THE REAL STORY!!!
I was out on my weekly shopping excursion the other day, equipped with my granny trolley as well as my trusty rucksack. The mission was mainly to source fresh fruit and veg, seeing as we have our flour needs covered (thank you, 16kg bags), as well as our meat and much of our dairy delivered (milk a bit of an exception, as no milkman will deliver to flats here, it seems). By the time I got to the freezer, my rolling basket was fairly loaded up, but I was quite keen to get some frozen fruit, as the kids seem to like it, and it's super cheap. There was only one bag of raspberries left, but an abundance of cherries, so I grabbed one. I quickly remembered that my kids don't really like frozen cherries as much, and I don't like the mess they make thawing them, but it was too late. I had lifted the bag, and in these Covid19 times, you don't put the bag back in the supermarket. Into the shopping basket they went, and straight into the freezer when I got home.
While rifling through the drawers a few days later they glared at me accusingly, untouched. I apologized and promised soon, very soon, I'd find a use for them...then I shut the door in their face. a couple days later, they called out again, and I gave in. I pulled out my trusty Joy of Cooking, and made what Americans call a coffee cake, but put in cherries where the recipe called for either apples or cranberries, and doubling the amount of streusel that the recipe called for.
But there's still half a bag of cherries in the freezer.
Wednesday, 22 April 2020
1 cup mashed potato (2 medium-large potatoes)
1 cup reserved potato water (if you remember not to chuck it down the sink)
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 1/2 tsp yeast (2 packets)
3/4 cup butter or margarine (unusually, margarine works well, if not better, than butter)
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 tsp salt
4 cups bread flour
4 1/2 cups plain flour (or more if required)
Filling (scale up if you like a cinnamon filling heavy roll):
1/2 cup super soft butter (or more if required)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp 5 spice powder
Icing (again, scale up if you like an icing heavy roll):
4 oz/120g cream cheese (called soft cheese when you go off-brand)
4 Tbsp/60g butter
1 cup/120g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1) Combine potato water, water, butter, and yeast and let sit for 5 minutes.
2) Add rest of dough ingredients in order they are listed above, turning out dough when it is too stiff to mix by hand. Knead for 10 minutes. Dough can be quite sticky, so use a dough scraper if you have one. Don't worry about any little lumps of potato that remain.
3) Put dough in a huge bowl greased with oil, turning it over once in the bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave in your fridge overnight.
4) When you stumble out of bed the next day and open the fridge, scream in horror at the beast that has erupted out of the bowl because you didn't follow your own advice and use a big enough container. Tell yourself it's fine, you can do this.
5) Punch the dough down, and roll it into a 24 X 18 inc rectangle. Or split into two, and roll each half into a 12X18 inch rectangle.
6) Use a pastry brush to cover the surface with wonderful, glorious butter. No pastry brush? Use your hands. I won't tell anyone.
7) Mix the brown sugar and spices together and sprinkle evenly over the butter. Press it into the butter so that it doesn't escape when you roll up the dough.
8) Take the long edge and roll the dough in on itself until you have a big, long, cinnamon sausage.
9) Using your sharpest knife (or dental floss) slice the dough into 12 even rolls. Place into a greased pan that will fit them all - a large roasting tray, or a 9X13 pan should work. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.
10) Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Bake for around 30 minutes, until golden brown all along the tops and no longer jiggling in the middle.
11) Combine icing ingredients together (ideally with a food processor or hand blender) and smear over the top.
Tried doing these today as a way to have them ready first thing in the morning, rather than the middle of the day. I enjoyed a recipe recently where five spice powder was included in the mix, so I wanted that in these for a bit of a kick, but I wanted the dough from this potato dough recipe as it gives the rolls a fantastically soft, fluffy texture. Unfortunately, the dough erupted like Mount Vesuvius in the fridge, and I had to do a bit of damage control. I could have done with a bit more filling, and although I panicked and had trouble shaping them (I don't think I measured the flour accurately) the rolls themselves were fantastically pillow-like. I also think I need to scale up the icing just a little. I didn't actually measure it this morning, just threw stuff in the magimix, but I know the above ratio worked for a smaller recipe of 9 rather than 12 rolls. The other thing you can do is prepare everything up before the second rise, and let them do that rise in the fridge overnight, but I am not so sure about how these ones would do...
Sunday, 19 April 2020
1 X 9 inch pastry crust
2 tsp caster or granulated sugar
2 tsp plain flour
3/4 cup / 96g plain flour
5 Tbsp/ 70g room temperature butter
1/4 cup / 50g caster or granulated sugar
2 Tbsp muscovado sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup + 2 Tbsp / 225g caster or granulated sugar
6 Tbsp/ 48g cornflour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3 cups/ 450g blueberries
3 cups/ 300g rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tsp lime zest
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp melted butter
Preheat oven with rack on bottom to 425F/220C
1) Combine crumble ingredients until you have gravel like pieces. You could do this in a food processor or by hand. Put in freezer.
2) Roll out the crust and put into your pie dish. Decorate the edge as much or as little as you like, depending on how artistic you are (I think the crust above answers any questions about where I land on that scale). Once it's safely in the dish, sprinkle flour and sugar over the base to prevent a soggy bottom, then place in fridge.
3) Mix filling ingredients and mix until everything coated with a sugary gloss. Scrape into pastry and even it out in the dish, then sprinkle topping evenly over the top
4) Place the pie on a rimmed tray and bake for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375F/190C and bake for 1 hour more, tenting with foil after 45 minutes to prevent burning.
5) Let cool for two hours before slicing and serving.
Lockdown is here, and I have 32kg of flour to get through.
So I'm back to being at home, able to do a lot more baking, but still working full time, so not THAT much more baking, perhaps. The government limits to shop visits as well as small bag shortages mean that I was having trouble getting my usual supplies of flour, so I decided to go big AND go home - 16kg of plain flour and 16kg of bread flour. Its all stuffed in my galley kitchen in various places, and is all calling out to be used.
I had seen this recipe on my friend Steph's blog, and didn't think it sounded great at first but was curious enough to give it a shot since she sang its praises so much. A friend had just dropped off some rhubarb, I had limes and blueberries in my fridge and freezer, so all the planets seemed to align in a the end of the world is here, might as well eat some tasty s*** kind of way. Didn't quite have enough cornflour (corn starch to those across the pond) but nevertheless I gave it a shot, adding in a bit of regular plain flour to help it thicken. The lime really comes through and lifts everything up, so I'd love to make it again. Christopher was a huge fan, Catherine and Michael thought it was ok, but Robert, being an anti-rhubarb person, wasn't willing to even try it. Which meant I got pie for breakfast, the best kind of pie.
Incidentally, when my mother in law heard about my flour haul, she quickly said "well, don't get too FAT". She wasn't wrong - using up the flour will not be the issue here. So if you are local, and you want something random dropped at your door in a sterile container soon, let me know. I can't promise what it will be, or when it will come, but I would like to know I can drop samples somewhere other than my middle-aged, crap metabolism belly. Just DM me your address and I'll see what I can do.
Sunday, 8 April 2018
He is risen!
A week ago, that is. But we live in a small flat that doesn't lend itself well to guests, and on Easter Sunday itself my brother and his family were in town, so we ate out. There were so many of us we had to pre-order our meals in the gastropub, and I was disappointed when I scanned the menu and found no mention of lamb. I ordered a vegetarian meal, and briefly sulked when I arrived to see the day's special was indeed, lamb. I envied my fellow diners and their ability to spontaneously order the special of the day.
Here in the UK, the schools are on holiday for two weeks at Easter, which means no Saturday sports, and therefore a chance to visit the Farmers' Market by the Castle mid-holiday. I stocked up on various things, then eyed up a sizeable, bone-in leg of lamb and decided I could have my Easter feast this year on the date of Orthodox Easter: 8 April (see here). The lamb was marinated in garlic, olive oil, black olives, anchovies, and rosemary before being roasted, potatoes were parboiled then frozen before meeting hot goose fat, cauliflower doused in cheese sauce and baked, and broccoli steamed. Mint sauce was plopped down beside it, and we ate with an Easter bouquet blocking our view of one another.
And the only photo I got of it all was the one taken above, of the marinating lamb.
And now I'm trying to figure out what recipe I used for the lamb, only Michael threw together the marinade from memory, and I just cooked the lamb at 200C, with foil on for the first half hour, until the internal temperature was 140C, which took another hour or so after the foil came off. Is that a recipe?
Sunday, 25 March 2018
But this month, before looking at footfall, at profit analysis, at department expenditure, we had another pressing matter to attend to.
"Right," said my boss, "T is running late thanks to Scotrail, so we should probably talk about her imminent birthday."
Turns out T was about to hit a landmark number. Balloons were required (which requires serious planning when you have motion sensors linked to alarms in your office) and cake was needed. My German colleague and I eyed each other across the table, her being the more frequent office baker.
"I can make a cake." I declared. "Unless you want to?"
She gave a shrug. "Nah, you go for it."
But what kind??? With furrowed brows, we tried to recall any allergies, any flavour aversions, any exclamations of favourites on previous baking occasions, but we drew a blank. Moments later, T arrived and the conversation was cut short.
So numbers were discussed, charts were analysed, and then later, as conversation drifted over tea and biscuits (the bourbons always disappearing first) my boss turned the conversation towards confections, eyed T and asked "so, T, if you had to choose one perfect cake, what would it be?"
She looked down, running through her mental list of cakes, and said "ooh, something chocolate. With raspberries. And coconut. I don't know, something like that!"
To the internet I went, looking for something that would travel well (ideally, by bicycle) and that ticked at least 2 of those three boxes. Raspberry brownies came up as the most likely option to please, and while I could have experimented by adding a bit of coconut, I wasn't willing to risk it since I hadn't tried this recipe before. As it was, I feared I had overdone them, so sent them in with instructions to give constructive feedback (I wouldn't be in work that day), and was told the following:
"Was lovely. Looked overbaked on outside, but was all gooey on inside, and great taste. So yeah, def do them again. Raspberry flavour came through, everyone loved it. A winner." (this person was given strict instructions to tell me if they had been overcooked so I would know if to adjust baking times, they were not being overly critical)
"Fabulous brownies, I've just inhaled one."
"Although gingerless, it was OUTSTANDING." (someone who likes ginger. A lot.)
"Even I loved it." (a person who doesn't generally eat sugar)
"Brownies are heaven."
"Brownies are yummity moo moo. You need to make again."
So I will try to make these again sometime, and maybe then I'll get more photos than just the one taken above.