Saturday, January 24, 2015

Funnel Cakes - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (12/100)

In my mind, the world is divided into two types of people; those who run screaming from the thought of deep fat frying, and those who merely dislike it. I am very proud to have moved from the former category into the latter.

Yes, indeed, ladies and gentlemen, I have conquered my deep-seated fear of deep fat frying. This does not mean that every day will be fish, chips and doughnuts, oh, no. For the aroma of the frying does cling somewhat.

And when you take your funnel cakes to visit the Literary Lady, her daughter, Graceful Girl will very much enjoy sniffing your arm, and instructing The Vicar to do the same. (For the sake of propriety, he did resist.) The aroma did linger on in the house for at least a further 24 hours, too.

So, like Gill I will probably not be repeating these. I do, however, remain grateful to them for my induction into deep-fat.

The recipe made at least 10 of these "cakes" - but given each one will more than adequately serve an adult, that's quite a lot, really. (And as you can only make/fry one at a time, it is rather time consuming.)

120g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon caster sugar
250ml water
pinch of salt
170g plain flour
4 large eggs
2 large egg whites
sunflower oil for deep frying
icing sugar for dusting


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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Blueberry Loaf - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (11/100)

So far this Bake Along (for me) has been "Good Bake" then "Bad Bake," in a repeated round. This loaf was a "Good Bake."

Albeit a messy one. No matter how hard you push frozen blueberries into dough, they fall out when you turn it vertical. (True Story.)

The effort and the purple fingers are worth it, for a delightful sweet-bread.

I take slight umbridge at the photograph - from the photo it is clear it was sprinkled with granulated sugar, not light brown sugar, but hey-ho!

I also found that this loaf took longer in the oven than the recommended time.

300ml whole milk
25g caster sugar
1 tsp dried fast-action (or 'quick') yeast (recipe gives 1.5tsp dried active yeast, but i've never really seen this, and have a large pack of fast-action yeast)
500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
85g unsalted butter, cubed
For the filling
60g unsalted butter, very soft
100g soft light brown sugar
200g blueberries
1 large egg, beaten


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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

My favourite moment with these blondies? The moment I introduced them at Home Group, and one of the members listened to the explanation then went, "and what's in the tin?" Um. These are a recipe from the archives of Smitten Kitchen (let's be honest, every food blogger secretly or not so secretly wants to be Deb from Smitten Kitchen) - and reading the blurb beforehand, I thoroughly agreed with Deb.

Peanut butter recipes are indeed often rather wimpy, and never quite do justice to peanut butter. The flavour does tend to be rather underwhelming.

I'm afraid, therefore, that I am somewhat disappointed with these blondies. Not that they tasted bad. Nor were they badly received. For they tasted lovely, and disappeared before I could say Jack Robinson.

They just weren't peanutty enough. And the chocolate ganache, although necessary and delicious, rather overwhelmed the attempts the peanut butter was making to shine through. I think next time I would reduce the quantity of butter and sugar, and increase the quantity of peanut butter. Or maybe use crunchy peanut butter instead of, "creamy" (smooth.) Or maybe add a few chopped peanuts.

Just something to let the peanuts say, "we're here." On the upside, The Pure Mathematician In Exile has stated he is more than willing to taste the experiments to reach the perfect peanut butter blondie!

Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Butterwood Desserts, West Falls, New York via Gourmet, October 2007
Makes abound 36 1+1/2 inch blondies

 225 grams unsalted butter, softened
100 grams granulated sugar
250 grams soft brown sugar
255 grams smooth peanut butter (see notes above)
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
150 grams plain flour
100 grams self-raising flour (I like my brownies a bit more cakey, so with a little "lift," hence the addition of self-raising flour, if you like very cakey brownies, use all self-raising, if you like very fudgey brownies, use all plain flour)
200g dark chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon table salt (Deb warns that this may not be necessary if you use regular peanut butter with added salt, but using store-brand smooth peanut butter, I initially added 1/4 tsp table salt, but it definitely needed all of the 1/2 teaspoon)
For ganache
180g dark chocolate (not the really dark 85% cocoa stuff, more like the generic eating dark chocolate stuff)
100ml double cream

1. Preheat oven to 170C. Grease and line a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking tin. (Or, in my case a 9 by 9 inch and a 6 by 6 inch)
2. Beat together butter, peanut butter, and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Beat in whole eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla.
4. Stir in flour and chocolate chips to make a thick batter.
5. Spread batter in baking tin, smoothing top.
6. Bake until brownies are deep golden, puffed on top and a skewer inserted in centre come out with some crumbs adhering, 40 to 45 minutes.
7. Cool in the tin on a rack.
Make ganache:
1. Put dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
2. Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan (or in the microwave, whilst watching like a hawk,) then pour over chocolate chips and let mixture stand for one minute.
3. Stir until completely smooth, and then spread over the blondies and leave to set before lifting out and cutting into squares.

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Blondie Pie - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (11/100)

I tell you, it's a jolly good thing that this dish is tasty, for there was no end to its mischief.

The first problem was I do not own a 9-inch pie dish. 8 inch and 10 inch, yes. 9 inch cake tin, yes. 9 inch pie dish, no. The picture in the book showed a rather thin looking base, so I assumed (foolishly) that a smaller pie dish would be the way forward.

It wasn't. The filling is a nebulous and frothy thing and redecorated the floor of the oven.

The second problem is covered in some detail by Gill. Despite its name, this dish is neither blondie nor pie.

It is a white chocolate and almond praline tart. Praline, you note, not brittle - brittle is whole nuts in caramel, so called because it is, um, brittle. You do indeed create brittle. You then pulverise it into dust. It is thus praline. It is no longer brittle. It is smashed. And tart. Not Pie. As my Mama doth quote; "tarts are topless."

*Sigh* As I say, it is a good thing that this is a tasty dish. My colleagues were very grateful for it. (Even if my boss did keep referring to it as, "that treacle tart thing.") Explosive redecorations of the oven not withstanding, I would bake again, for it was certainly a hearty and tasty thing.

One of my colleagues (The Faux-Taxidermist) questioned whether The New Year would bring a slower pace of baked goods that I foist upon her, in a vaguely feeder-ish way. Um. There are still 89 bakes to go. No. I'm afraid there won't be a slower pace.

200g blanched almonds (I only have ones with skins, which I buy from the local independent whole-foods shop, so I blanched them myself, which is a rather satisfying task, as they "pop" from their skins
240g caster sugar
150ml water

Crust (pastry)
250g plain flour
80g caster sugar
180g cold unsalted butter, cubed

240g white chocolate, melted
80g unsalted butter (melted with the chocolate)
3 large egg yolks
60g caster sugar
150ml double cream


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Sunday, January 04, 2015

Spicy Butternut Squash with Puy Lentils

This nearly was my New Year's Day post - it fulfilled so many wonderful stereotypes. The earnestly over-healthy first post of the year. A bit of winter warmth. The most middle class dish I could ever imagine making.

But sadly, it was not to be, for an errant tree was caught in a rather large gust, and severed my telephone line.

Ironically, even when the man came to put the two pieces back together again, the BT software reported that the line was, "testing as fine." No wonder they couldn't find the problem last year, when a tree rub caused intermittent faults, if they can't see a fault when the phoneline no longer connects to anything!

Anyway, here it is, a warm, wintery dish, without the heaviness of so many cold-weather meals.

(Serves 2)
1 pack pre-cooked puy lentils, reheated (to add to the hilarious middle-class nature of this dish, I had a pack that were a blend of puy lentils and quinoa)
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
1 small red onion, sliced
4 tablespoons of chilli dressing/marinade - I used  half chilli salad dressing and half chipotle sauce, but any chilli sauce with a bit of "tang" to it would be good - if using sweet chilli sauce, I'd thin it with a little vinegar to cut the sweetness and to make it a bit more runny.

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Toss the squash and onion in the marinade, ensuring the squash is fully coated.
3. Roast the butternut squash and onion for about 40-50 minutes, until the squash is tender, and starting to caramelise around the edges. (If you're in a hurry, you can pre-cook the squash and onion in the microwave for 5-10 minutes, then finish them off in the oven).
4. Whilst the squash is roasting, reheat the lentils.
5. Mix lentils with squash, and enjoy!

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I'm also entering this in The Health Bay's Big Recipe Book Challenge.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Hazelnut and Chocolate Macaroons (Macarons) - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (10/100)

Well, would you look at that, we're 10% of the way through this epic 100 bakes bake-along.

Finally back onto home territory - the good old French macaron.

And this was a good week for macarons - they shaped beautifully, they had glossy shells, they had feet.

Even better, the ganache was a delight to work with, didn't split, and the bitterness of the dark chocolate beautifully complements the sweetness of the macaron.

Replacing the usual ground almonds, with lightly toasted and freshly ground hazelnuts made these macarons like a grown-up Nutella, which, as I read in one of my new books for Christmas, was formally called Pasta Gianduja Supercrema (honest - you can read it on Wikipedia, it must be true.)

A little late for Christmas parties, but I think these would make an excellent addition to a buffet table for a rather nice New Year's do.

340g icing sugar, divided into 140g and 200g (I went my own way and replaced the 200g with normal caster sugar, and the macarons were still beautiful)
110g hazlenuts, toasted and peeled (this takes a very, very, very long time, and is probably completely unneccessary as you process them to powder and then sieve them, and the mixture is chocolate coloured)
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 large egg whites
pinch of salt
125ml double cream
110g 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate

Macarons previously: MacaronsAlmond Macarons, Chocolate Macarons, Lemon Macarons.

You may have noticed a bit of a pause on the Bake-Along Front - We agreed (Pigling and I) that because of the Christmas period we would extend the time allotted for the Macarons so we have until the 4th of January to finish them, and then the next week (before the 11th January 2015) will be Blondie Pie. Looks intriguing and not at all worthy of New Year's Resolutions!

In other news - Little Boy Red (well, The Fair Physiologist says it was him, but he being but five months old, I have my doubts) gave me the Great British Bake Off Official Calendar, which has a bake a month to do, so I'm definitely going to be baking those as well next year.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Banana Boston Cream Cake - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (9/100)

Firstly, I think the name of this cake is a complete misnomer - there's no cream, and (more importantly) there's no Boston.

I would like to propose a new name for it - Chocolate Banana Custard Cake. A more fitting, if less imaginative description, if I might say so.

Secondly, my cake looks nothing like the one in the book. Mostly due to Ganache Issues.

I don't like ganache - it usually splits, then doesn't come back together until it is far too solid to pour, it's lack of sweetener means that you need to use cheap chocolate for it to taste any good in the volumes required for this cake, and this cake has a lot of it! (So much so, that I covered it thickly, and there was still enough left over to make 7 good sized truffles. Humph)

Thirdly, overall, I don't think this is a cake I will repeat. The cake batter was so thick that it would barely spread in the tin, and the resulting cake was bumpy.Even though I baked the cake for the shorter than specified, it was dry, to the point where the custard couldn't offer much improvement.

And, as I've said, the ganache - because I used good, dark chocolate, it wasn't very sweet, it was rather bitter, and really didn't add anything to the cake - a chocolate butter cream, or a custard-whipped cream topping would have been better.

Even more telling was my colleague's feedback, "Not your best cake,"  they very kindly clarified by specifying it was the recipe not the cake, but to be honest, I wouldn't have minded, because they were right, and I like it when people feel they can offer good, honest, feedback!

So, not a great success, but given that we are 9 bakes in, that's not too shabby. Next week, we're back on familiar territory with Hazelnut and Chocolate Macaroons

100g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 medium banana, mashed
125g soured cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt (too much, in my opinion)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

250ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg yolks (save the whites for next week!)
50g caster sugar
15g plain flour
15g cornflour

400ml double cream
400g dark chocolate, chopped


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