Thursday, 28 May 2015

Biscuit and cream cake

Sun shine, half term, finished writing reports...and relax :) I was looking through some recipe books and realised that I hadn't made a proper cake for a while. I have used a hummingbird bakery recipe but adapted it slightly. Hummingbird use three layers of cake but (as I have a cold and am not cycling at the moment) I have opted for two layers. They also use cookies but I thought it might be fun to try Twix bits instead. (Ok, they were supposed to be Maltesers but Tesco ran out.) Due to illness and not spreading my germs, this cake is just for me and T so I halved all of the recipe below and made a half cake. 

110g unsalted butter softened
380g caster sugar
320g plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
320 ml buttermilk
3 eggs
1/2 large packet of twix mix

1kg icing sugar, sifted
320g unsalted butter softened
500g mascarpone
1/2 large packet of Twix mix

1. Preheat the oven to 170C and line the cake tins with baking paper. Using a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar and dry ingredients until there are no lumps of butter.
2. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and buttermilk by hand. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients while the mixer is on a medium speed. Scrape down the sides and mix again. 
3. Chop the Twix bits in half and stir into the mixture. Pour into two lined cake tins and bake for 35 minutes until the sponge bounces back when pressed. Leave to cool on a drying rack. 
4. When the cake is cool, make the icing. Using the free standing electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the icing sugar and butter on a low speed. Add one third of the mascarpone and combine until smooth. Gradually add the test of the mascarpone and until fully mixed then turn to a high speed until it is light and fluffy. 
5. Put some of the mixture on one of the cakes and sprinkle some more twix bits cut in half. Put the second cake on top. Using a palette knife, spread the rest of the frosting on top and around the sides of the cake. Finish with whole Twix bits on top. 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Bea's blueberry streusal muffins

What a windy bike ride! I have been increasing my rides for a couple of months in the hopes of doing an even in July. I have finally reached the distance but need to work on the hills! It's so nice being outside in the sunshine at this time of year - not too hot but fresh with all the lovely bluebells.

I have been a fan of Bea's of Bloomsbury for a while and keep returning to their cookbook for something delicious. I had made these streusal muffins before and they are a winner every time. Very easy to make and made extra special by the crumbly, crunchy streusal topping. They are very good with a cup of tea of with some cream on top for a pudding.

225g Plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
50 ml milk
40 ml double cream
2 eggs
65g unsalted butter
250g Blueberries

Streusal topping: -
100g plain flour
35g dark brown soft sugar
35g caster sugar
65g unsalted butter chilled and cubed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Make the streusal topping y combining all of the ingredients and rubbing them between your fingers until crumbly. Put in the fridge for 10 minutes.
2. While the streusal is in the fridge, make the muffins. Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir until well combined.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, cream and eggs. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Pour in the melted butter and fold again. 
4. Coat  the blueberries in extra flour then stir them into the mixture.
5. Fill muffin cases in a muffin tray 4/5 of the way up. The more you fill, the bigger they will be. Sprinkle the streusal mixture on top then bake for 30 minutes. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Gooey brownie pies

I enjoyed the scones so much that I decided to try another one of Glenn Cosby's recipes. When I saw 'gooey brownie pies', I looked no further! Pies and brownies, what a good combo. I've never spent much time making pastry but this was quite easy to follow and worked well. If I were to make them again then I think I would make the pastry a little thinner. These are very rich and dense (we had to eat one in two sittings - this is rare for me!) but they were delicious. Well done Glenn.

125g Plain flour
1 egg yolk
75g unsalted butter
1 tbsp water
38g Caster sugar

Brownie mix:-
80g unsalted butter
50g golden syrup
100g caster sugar
1tsp salt
150g dark chocolate in chunks
2 eggs
30g plain flour
100g dark chocolate in chunks

 1. To make the pastry, mix the butter and flour in your fingers until they form breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, egg yolk and water and bring it all together. Wrap in cling film and out in the fridge for one hour. 
2. Roll out the chilled pastry to the thickness of a pound coin. Using a 10 cm circle cutter, cut out the pastry and press against a flan tin. Repeat for a second tin. Put it back in the fridge for 20 minutes.
3. To make the brownie mixture, preheat the oven to 180C. Gently melt 80g butter in a saucepan with the golden syrup, caster sugar and salt. When the sugar has dissolved, take it off the heat and stir in 150g dark chocolate until it mixes well. Then leave to cool.
4. Beat the eggs into the chocolate mix then mix in 30g plain flour and 100g dark chocolate chunks. 
5. Fill the pastry cases with the chocolate mixture and bake for 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden. 

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Ginger scones

A couple of weeks back we went to a food festival in a nearby small town and started to watch the food demonstration. We thought, that guy looks familiar... it was Glenn Cosby from last year's Great British Bake Off! He was just as friendly and entertaining as he was on the show. We watched him make some ginger scones with grapefruit and ginger curd using limited cooking resources but somehow, they tasted great. I was inspired so I bought is book and here we have my version of his scones. I used crystallised ginger rather than stem ginger as we had it in the cupboard already. They are delicious when they are still warm from the oven, perfect for a chilly day like today. He cut them in an unconventional square shape which could be changed into a circle. The idea is that it needs to be handled as little as possible to  get a good rise. 

Ingredients: -
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
100 ml milk
1 egg
5 pieces of crystallised ginger chopped roughly into small pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the butter and rub between your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar and ginger.
2. Mix the egg and milk in a separate bowl. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and combine with your fingers. This is a sticky mixture! 
3. Sprinkle flour on a surface and transfer the mixture onto it. Spread out the mixture so that it is 3cm thick. Use a sharp knife to cut it into squares (size depending on your preference).
4. Put the squared onto a greased tray and cook for 10-15 minutes (depending on size). 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

St John's bakery donuts

After trying Crosstown donuts, I thought it would only be fair to try another donut to give a comparison. While at Maltby Street Market, there was a St john's bakery store selling just that. there were too choices; butterscotch or classic vanilla. We opted for the latter an it was a good choice. The dough was slightly sweet, so you knew it was pudding, and had a thin crisp to the outer layer form frying. This was the perfect donut texture and, I think better than Crosstown's with no crispy edge and less sweet dough. The vanilla centre was plentiful and has a decent vanilla flavour proven with the visible vanilla pod seeds. Great inside and out, a winner far.
Sty John's has a respectable name in London and is more known for it's bread. A strong contender with puddings as well it seems.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Cheese Truck

We had another trip to Maltby Street market yesterday in london and ,somehow, it seems to expanding! There were more stalls and people than we had seen before and some new food to try. The newest stall was from 'The Cheese Truck'. Not actually a truck yesterday but they do travel around in one. They offered three assortments of cheese in sandwiches - cheddar, stilton and goats cheese. The cheddar looked deliciously gooey and stringy. I opted for goats cheese with honey and walnuts. It was cooked on a late with a weight on top and turned into the creamiest cheese with a hint of sweet form the honey ad a subtle crunch from the walnuts. Just the right amount of ingredients. It was a real treat. Next time I would go for cheddar and onion - I had cheese envy as I watch others string the melted cheddar away as they took a bite...

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Fluffy victoria sponge

The Easter holidays go so quickly! We had a great trip to the Cotswolds - such beautiful countryside and a good time of year to see all the little lambs springing about and chasing each other. We have also been in the stressful process of house buying...a long waiting game but we will excited to move in (fingers crossed it all goes well!).

After eating a lot of chocolate, I have chosen a classic victoria sponge. A more spring like pudding due the lightness and fresh strawberry taste. (I tend to use jam but you could use real strawberries.) I have always followed the same recipe but, as it didn't rise so well last time, I have used a Great British bake Off recipe. It cam out pretty well, nice and light and fluffy. The book used real strawberries and mascarpone filling but I prefer jam and butter icing for extra sweetness.

Ingredients: -
180g unsalted butter (room temperature)
180g caster sugar
3 eggs
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
180g self raising flour
1 tbsp warm tap water

Butter icing:
250g icing sugar
80g softened butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Jam (any flavour)

1. Heat the oven to 180C. Put the butter in a mixing bowl and beat with a spoon until creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar one tablespoon at a time.
2. Put the eggs and vanilla in a separate jug and beat with a fork. gradually add the mixture into the butter mix, scraping down the sides as you go. Before the last addition of egg, add in one tablespoon of flour to stop the mixture from curdling.
3. Sift the rest of the flour into the mixture and fold in with a plastic spatula. Add the warm water after 3 folds and continue until you can no longer see flour.

4. Divide the mixture into two 20.5 cm round tins. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden.
5. Run a blade around the edge of the tin to loosen it. Leave for a minute in the tin then transfer to a cooling rack.
6. When the sponge is cool, mix the butter, icing sugar and vanilla essence then spread over one half of the sponge. Spread jam onto the other half and put together. Dust with icing on top.