31 August 2011

Scones with plum jam

Scones are so British; having a scone layered with clotted cream and jam makes summer.  Mum had been craving one so I baked her up a batch of 8 oversized scones.  After eating in the Eden Bakery at the project in June I've wanted to make all my baked things giant.....we had giant danish pastries and I had a massive flapjack, baked things just seem more exciting when they're teeny or oversized.  Fact.

We make our own jam every summer from the glut of plums we get from the tree in our garden.

It tastes good on oversized scones....

Scones (makes 8 'normal' sized)
250g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
50g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter
1 medium egg
100ml buttermilk/milk

1) Preheat the oven to 220 degress
2) Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl, add the butter and rub into the flour with your fingertips to make fine crumbs (I whizzed it all in a food processor, genius)
3) Beat the egg with the buttermilk/milk and add to the mixture and stir with a round bladed knife to make a slightly soft dough; add for milk if there are dry bits left at the bottomt onto of the bowl.
4) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and work gently for a couple of seconds. 
5) With floured hands pat the dough out flat to 3cm thick (mine were thicker) and stamp out rounds with a cutter.  Press trimmings together to make more, don't use a rolling pin.
6) Set the rounds on a greased baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

22 August 2011

Orange Ginger Carrot Cake

Giles came to visit me today and the event warranted a cake.  As ginger men apparently require ginger fuel I wanted to make a ginger cake and came across this cake on a blog I love www.sweetapolita.com

I think I must check it at least 3 times a week and love reading Rosie's posts about her baking and family, and the cakes she produces always look incredible and I've always wanted to try one so this seemed like a perfect time to have a go so I made her Zingy Orange Ginger Carrot Cake.

The cake was MASSIVE and so moist (soooo many carrots) that I almost broke it every time I tried to move it; the flavour of the ginger and orange are subtle but complimentary and the ginger makes it different to a regular carrot cake.  Plus I hate cream cheese icing so this was perfect for me with its' white chocolate buttercream.

This is not the slice I ate, mine was much much smaller, honestly.

19 August 2011

Bagels for lunch

I had a day off today and the sun was shining and Giles came to visit and everything was good so I thought it would be fun to make something new - bagels!  I have a recipe in the Great British Book of Baking but it wants malt extract and my locval Tesco (average customer age approximately 85 years old) could provide me with horlicks malt at best so I had a google and got myself a BBC good food recipe instead.

I used wholemeal flour instead of white because I'm on a bit of a health kick at the moment and topped them with sesame seeds which proceeded to drop off when the bagel was turned to slice.  I've never made them before and the poaching process was met with concern from my sister who wanted to know why I was deep-fat frying them and weren't bagels supposed to be good for you....

Most of them weren't overly round but I did enjoy swinging them round the wooden spoon handle, as did the dog who followed me around patiently waiting for my dough to crack and make his year.

The recipe says it makes 10 bagels and advises each should weigh 85g; I weighed mine and only got 8 from the dough, all weighing 84-86g each!
Despite using wholemeal flour to make them filling, Giles managed to eat 3 filling them with hoummous and ham and my mother's choice of goats cheese and honey.....

'Bagels for brunch' recipe from BBC Good Food
7g sachet dried yeast
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
450g bread flour
poppy, fennel and/or sesame seeds to sprinkle on top (optional)

1) Tip the yeast and 1 tbsp sugar into a bowl, pour over 100ml warm water. and leave for 10 mins to go frothy.

2) Pour 200ml warm water into the bowl, then stir in the salt and half the flour. Keep adding the remaining flour (you may not have to use it all) and mixing until you have a soft, not sticky dough. Knead for 10 mins until the dough feels smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and put in a bowl covered with cling film and leave to rise for about 1 hour.

3) Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 8 pieces, each about 85g. Shape each piece into a flattish ball, then take use the handle of a wooden spoon to make a hole in the middle of each ball. Slip the spoon into the hole, then twirl the bagel around the spoon to make a hole about 3cm wide.

4) Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and tip in the remaining sugar. Slip the bagels into the boiling water - no more than four at a time. Cook for 1-2 mins, turning over in the water until the bagels have puffed slightly and a skin has formed. Remove with a slotted spoon, sprinkle over your choice of topping and place on a baking tray lined with parchment.

5) Bake in the oven for 25 mins until browned and crisp - the bases should sound hollow when tapped.

10 August 2011

Chocolate Birthday Cake

My flatmate in Oxford, Charly, asked me to bake a 'really chocolatey' birthday cake for her grandfather's birthday last month so I went straight to the Hummingbird Bakery book for their 3-layer chocolate cake (made for both my sister's birthday and mine last year).  I topped and filled the cake with a chocolate ganache frosting after burning my arm, hand and face trying to make the chocolate custard the book suggests using - I'm interested to know if anybody has ever made the custard successfully as it went so horribly wrong when mum and I tried that we felt like nobody had tested the book before selling it?!

Topped with fresh raspberries picked from my dad's vegetable patch!

Hummingbird's Brooklyn Blackout Cake
100g unsalted butter
260g caster sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
45g cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarb soda
pinch of salt
170g plain flour
160ml milk

1) Preheat the oven to 170
2) Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3) With the mixer at a slower speed, beat in the vanilla, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt.
4) Add half the flour, then all the milk followed by the remaining flour.
5) Pour into 3 20cm cake tins and bake for 25 minutes.

Chocolate ganache
400g dark chocolate
200g double cream

1) Microwave the mix in 30-sec bursts until most of the chocolate has melted.
2) Whisk until all the chocolate has melted and the frosting has become thicker
3) Cool in the fridge until needed (around half an hour) and whisk again before using.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes, thank you Cox, Cookies and Cake

Words cannot express how excited I was when I saw that Cox, Cookies and Cake were releasing a cookbook (loser....) after sharing (!) one of their beef cake cupcakes (a butch hazelnut praline cake with praline icing, topped with a bulging bicep = AMAZING) with my boyfriend when we went to the Brewer Street shop.

The book is beautiful with a quilted cover and black pages (very sexy) with cupcake, bar and cookie recipes but sadly no beef cake recipe.

After promising my sister a million times to make her cake in return for her help I got excited and said I'd make her a batch of cupcakes, as long as they came from my new book.....she chose the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes to share with a friend who needed a bit of a cheer up.

Screw being a vegan, these cakes were amazing - the sponge is denser than others I've made, just like the cake we bought in the bakery and I really like that, they're not dry with it though or heavy.  The peanut butter made them almost savoury and the chocolate gave them a sweeter edge.  I topped them with the chocolate peanuts mum bought that didn't get put into my mouth....

recip from Cox, Cookies and Cake book www.coxcookiesandcake.com/
Cakes (I made 15 but the recipe is for 12)
175g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
150g light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
240ml buttermilk
125ml sour cream
2 tbsp espresso coffee
2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
250g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Peanut butter frosting
150g icing sugar
110g smooth peanut butter
50g unsalted butter, softened
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp double cream

1) Preheat oven to 180 (fan),
2) Cream the butter with both sugars until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time.  Add the vanilla extract and beat well.
3) In another bowl whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, coffee and peanut butter (luckily I have lots of beaters left over from all the electric whisks I've broken)
4) In a third bowl sift together flour, baking powder and cocoa.
5) With the whisk on a low speed add 1/3 of the liquid mixture, followed by 1/3 of the flour to the sugar and butter but only whisk until just mixed.  Repeat until all the ingredients are in, then fold with a spatula to make sure it is mixed well.
6) Fill the cases 2/3 full and bake 20-25 minutes.

To make the frosting beat together all ingredients without the cream, until well mixed, then beat in the double cream until the mixture is light and smooth.