Sunday, September 14, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.6)

Okay. This was difficult. I mean, I know it's the technical bake, and it's meant to be a challenge, but I thought tiramisu cake was bad enough.

This had it all. Custard, genoese sponge, slicing sponges horizontally, jam, oozes, explosions and making your own marzipan.

And, if done properly, it needs a dozen eggs.Which, in my opinion, is a lot of eggs for one cake.

I didn't want to use raw eggs in my marzipan, as I will be serving this to a mixed crowd, and feel a bit twitchy serving other people raw eggs. So I still made my own marzipan, but I replaced the egg with simple syrup (actually it was the leftover syrup from poaching the pears for last week's technical!)

So, yes, disasters. My custard piping that was meant to contain the jam failed and all of a sudden there was jam spewing out of the sides of my cake like an over enthusiastic episode of ER, only without George Clooney to mop it all up.

The marzipan was a little overdone in the food processor and started spewing more oil than a certain petroleum company's tankers. And it crumbled. Badly. The pictures kindly don't the massive crack at the back!

It was definitely not dome shaped. And the shade of green colouring I picked made it closely resemble something from a 1970s Good Homes magazine.

Still, as they say, it's not the winning but the taking part. And I certainly took part. I think I'll be scraping cream, custard and jam out of my fridge for a while yet.

(Recipe from BBC food)
For the vanilla custard
600ml/20fl oz milk
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways and seeded scraped out (I used vanilla extract, and added it with the butter. I'm hoping, soon, a nice vanilla company will take pity on me and send me real pods to try. Hint hint)
6 free-range egg yolks
100g/3½oz caster sugar
50g/1¾oz cornflour
50g/1¾oz unsalted butter
For the jam
200g/7oz raspberries (personally I think this made FAR too much jam, which is why it all exploded out)
175g/6oz jam sugar
For the sponge
4 large free-range eggs
150g/5½oz caster sugar
75g/2½oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g/1¾oz butter, melted
For the fondant rose
25g/1oz pink ready-to-roll icing (WHAT?! After the death-stare when Enwezor dared not to make his own fondant, this recipe has ready-to-roll?! And it's one of Mary's. I'm a little shocked. Although, also a little grateful, because that may have been the straw that broke my cake)
icing sugar, for dusting
To decorate
750ml/10 pints double cream
50g/1¾oz dark chocolate (36% cocoa solids), melted
For the marzipan
400g/14oz ground almonds
150g/5½oz caster sugar
250g/9oz icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
2 medium free-range eggs, beaten
1 tsp almond extract
green food colouring paste (do not use liquid food colouring)
(As I say, I didn't follow this recipe. I loosely used this one: Smitten Kitchen's Marzipan with more syrup, it was still rather crumbly)

Preparation method
1. For the vanilla custard, pour the milk into a pan with the vanilla seeds and vanilla pod and place over a low heat until just simmering. Remove from the heat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together until pale and creamy.
3. Remove the vanilla pod from the warm milk. (You can rinse this off to use in making vanilla sugar.)
4. Stir the warm milk slowly into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over a low heat for 4-5 minutes, whisking, until the mixture thickens. (It should be very thick (think, nearing stiff peaks, it will be longer than 5 minutes, mine took nearer 10).)
5. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter until melted and incorporated (If not using vanilla pod, and using vanilla extract, add that now). Transfer to a bowl, cover the surface with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool. Set aside to chill in the fridge.
6. For the jam, tip the raspberries into a deep saucepan with the sugar and two tablespoons of water. Cook gently over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil and boil vigorously for about four minutes, or until the temperature reaches 104C/219F on a sugar thermometer. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and leave to cool completely.
7. For the sponge, preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/Gas 4. Grease and line the base of a 23cm/9in springform tin with baking parchment.
8. Put the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and using an electric mixer, whisk together until the mixture is very pale and thick and the whisk leaves a trail on the surface when lifted. This will take about five minutes.
9. Sift the cornflour, flour and baking powder over the egg mixture and carefully fold in using a large metal spoon. Fold in the melted butter, taking care not to over mix (don't add the butter with the flour to avoid overmixing, as you'll end up with lumps of roux in your eggs, but you don't need to wait until the flour is completely combined before adding the butter).
10. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until the sponge is golden-brown and has just started to shrink away from the sides of the tin. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
11. For the fondant rose, roll 10 little pieces of fondant into small balls about the size of a cherry stone.
12. Dust two small pieces of greaseproof paper with icing sugar and one by one, place the balls of fondant between the sheets of greaseproof and flatten each ball out with your fingers, to a thin circle, approximately 2cm/1in in diameter. These form the petals. Roll the first petal up like a sausage to form a bud and wrap the remaining petals around the bud to make a rose. Bend and curl the edges of the petals, to make them look more realistic. Leave to dry for at least an hour.
13. To assemble the cake, using a serrated knife, cut the cake horizontally into three even layers. Place one of the sponges onto a serving plate. Spread a very thin layer of custard over the base of the first sponge.
14. Spoon a quarter of the custard into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe a border around the edge of the sponge – this is to contain the jam (pipe a big fat border. Twice. It may still explode, but at least you tried).
15. Spoon the jam over the sponge, and spread evenly within the border (I didn't need to do any spreading, there was so much jam).
16. In a bowl, whip 600ml/20fl oz of the double cream (I would suggest using 650ml here and less later) to firm peaks. Fold half of the whipped cream into the remaining custard.
17. Spread one-third of the custard cream over the jam.
18. Place the second sponge on top and spread over the remaining custard cream.
19. Place the third sponge on top. Spoon over the remaining whipped cream covering the sides (the whipped cream is the best way of containing the jam - slap it over leaks and smooth over) and smoothing into a small dome shape on the top (ran out of cream). Set aside in the fridge for an hour.
20. For the marzipan, mix the ground almonds and sugars in a mixer fitted with a dough hook, before adding the eggs and almond extract.
23. Whip the remaining 150ml/5½fl oz  (I would suggest only using 100ml of cream here) of cream to medium peaks and spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle. Pipe around the base of the cake.
24. Spoon the melted chocolate into a small paper piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe a swirl over the top of the cake (I had cream left over from the 150ml, so used this to top the cake instead). Top with the fondant rose.

As usual I am entering this in Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off 2014 and Supergolden Bakes GBBO Bake Along.

Not even brandy in it to drink afterwards...

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.5)

I have a confession. Since I make the Technical Bake "blind" (in that I have not seen the episode before baking,) it turns out I accidentally cheated when making this weeks Mini Pear Pies.

Let me explain. About a month ago, the pears on our tree were ready. Since they do not keep well, and all arrive at once, I poached them, then froze them in their poaching liquor.

When this Technical Bake came around, I was delighted to find a use for my poached pears, so I defrosted about half and set about. This was almost certainly the Technical Bake I found easiest, and after watching the episode, I understood why - I did not have the challenge of working out when the pear was cool enough for the wrapping.

Really, I only had an advantage over the tent based bakers, as any cook at home would have the luxury of time to leave the pears to cool completely. On the other hand, the size of my pears (tiny. No really. Absolutely minature - the equivalent to about a quarter of a normal pear,) made the removal of the core quite tricky. The instructions on the BBC food website indicate that a melon baller would be a good way to remove the core. If I had used a melon baller there would be no pear left. Instead the end of a vegetable peeler and a great deal of sticky patience was required.

I was delighted with the rough puff - this is the first time I've tried to make it, and it puffed up and flaked beautifully.

Recipe (from BBC Food)

For the rough puff pastry
200g/7oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling
100g/3½oz butter, in a block, frozen (well and truly frozen is best for nice marbling and consequent flakiness - I put mine in the freezer the night before making this bake)
100g/3½oz lard, in a block, frozen (see note for butter)
1 free-range egg, beaten (this is for glazing, I omitted a glaze)
2 tbsp granulated sugar

For the poached pears
6 large, firm pears (preferably ones that are straight and tall - hahahahahahahaha - see pictures)
300g/10½oz caster sugar
500ml/18fl oz dry white wine (my pears were actually poached in a simple syrup of sugar and water only, as they were only being poached to preserve them, I added a little cinnamon and lemon to the syrup before reducing it for brushing the pears)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, zest only

Preparation method
1.For the rough puff pastry, measure the flour into a bowl and grate the butter and lard into the flour (this is the point where you'll believe that you are about to succumb to frostbite, shake it off). Use a knife to coat the butter and lard in the flour. Add 120-150ml/4-5fl oz cold water and mix until it comes together to form a firm dough (I erred on the lower side, and the dough was just about right, but it will depend on the warmth and humidity of your kitchen).
2. Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface to a rectangle. Fold the top third down and then fold the bottom third up and over. Turn it 90 degrees (a quarter turn) and repeat the rolling and folding. Set aside, covered, in the fridge for 20 minutes.
3. Repeat the rolling, folding and chilling twice more so you have a total of four folds and turns. Set aside, wrapped in cling film, in the fridge until ready to use (at least another 20 minutes).
4. Meanwhile, for the poached pears, peel the pears, keeping the stems intact. Tip the caster sugar into a large saucepan with 400ml/14fl oz water, the white wine, cinnamon and orange zest and slowly bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for three minutes.
5. Add the pears to the pan. Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Reserving the syrup, remove the pears from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool on kitchen paper. Using a melon baller or small teaspoon remove the core from the pears (see comment above).
7. Return the syrup to the heat and boil rapidly for 10-15 minutes until the volume of the liquid is reduced by half and the syrup is thick. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
8. When the fruit and syrup are cool (read - completely cold), roll out the chilled pastry to a rectangle measuring 60x20cm/23½x8in and a thickness of no more than 5mm/¼in.
9. Using a sharp knife and a ruler cut the pastry into long strips 8mm/⅓in wide (I think my strips could have been a litte narrower, but 8mm is a funny size to try to eyeball!). You will need about 18-20 strips.
10. Brush the pears with the cooled sugar syrup and starting from the bottom, wrap the pastry strips around the pears (I found it was easiest to stuff the end of the strip into where the core was to get me started, but I fear that this is not the orthodox method). When you come to the end of the pastry strip, brush the end lightly with syrup and press to adhere to the next pastry strip. Continue wrapping until you reach the top of the pear. (Three strips should cover each pear (or one strip for each of my mini-pears)). Tuck the end of the last pastry piece behind the previous dough spiral.
11. Cut out six leaf shapes from the remaining pastry. Draw veins on the leaves with a sharp knife and stick one leaf below the stem of each pastry pear, with a little sugar syrup (I used a cutter. And I didn't draw lines - half of the leaves fell off in the oven anyway!).
12. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C(Fan)/400F/Gas 6. Place the pastry covered pears on a baking tray. Brush the pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
13. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes then serve with a drizzle of the reduced sugar syrup.

I used the leftover rough puff to make a cheeky blackberry galette.

I am entering this post in Supergolden Bakes #GBBO Bake Along and Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.4)

Desserts! Always an odd episode in my mind, as I'm never quite sure what constitutes a dessert, nor why a biscuit or a cake or a sweet bread is not a dessert, indeed, this technical bake caused a few ripples in the definition world, with comments about whether a tiramisu cake was actually, in fact, a cake, not a dessert. I digress.

This technical bake conclusively proved to me that I would struggle to cope with the pressure of the bake-off tent. I don't receive a television signal where I live (story for another day) and, therefore, watch the bake-off at a later date, in the company of The Fair Physiologist, The Pure Mathematician In Exile (when he's not at work) and their son, Little Boy Red. My contribution to this viewing is the technical bake.

Despite knowing that this family is one of the nicest around, and that, quite frankly, if a bake contains cake, chocolate and cream they will eat it, even if it doesn't meet the exacting standards required of a Bake Off Bake, I still found horizontal sponge slicing one of the most stressful things I have ever done. Just saying.

I didn't add the brandy to my tiramisu cake, because 100ml of brandy is an awful lot if you're expected to drive after eating this cake. I replaced it by increasing the amount of water used to make up the coffee, but upon reflection should have increased the coffee too, as the flavour was somewhat lost.

I also did not entirely understand the point of the crumb coat on the top layer of the cake - either this needs to be done all the way through to stop the marscapone cream and sponge from becoming one entity, or it is unneccessary, as the top layer is thoroughly covered in a thick dusting of cocoa, so you cannot see any splodgy bits of sponge anyway.

(External, after paper peeled off, sorry, no internal shots, too keen to tuck in! It was much neater inside, promise)

Having broken my thermometer whilst attempting to temper the chocolate previously (resulting in a drive to the tip clutching a bag with balls of mercury in, which the nice tip man kindly relieved me of), I merely microwaved half until melted, then stirred in the other half, which I had broken into smallish pieces. No measuring temperatures, and the chocolate was beautifully tempered, nice even snap and a lovely shine.

Recipe (from BBC Food)

For the sponge
a little softened butter, for greasing
4 large free-range eggs
100g/3½oz caster sugar
100g/3½oz self-raising flour

For the filling
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
150ml/5½fl oz boiling water
100ml/3½fl oz brandy
750g (3 x 250g/9oz tubs) full-fat mascarpone cheese
300ml/10½fl oz double cream
3 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
75g/2½oz dark chocolate (36% cocoa solids), grated

For the decoration
100g/3½oz dark chocolate, (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped (you do NOT need all of this - 50g would have been plenty)
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Preparation method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 38x25cm/15x10in Swiss roll tin and line with baking parchment.
2. For the sponge, place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and, using an electric hand-held mixer, whisk together for about five minutes, or until the mixture is very pale and thick (here, five minutes really means five minutes, not a half hearted two and a half, you want SO much air in here). The mixture should leave a light trail on the surface when the whisk is lifted (ribbon stage).

3. Sift over the flour (the one and only time I sift flour, I just spent five minutes beating air in, I jolly well want the flour to be light too) and fold in gently using a metal spoon or spatula, taking care not to over mix (also taking care not to under mix, or you'll have blobs of flour - I think would be better to add the flour in stages, but didn't actually test this theory).
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and tilt the tin to level the surface (again, no prodding or smoothing it out, preserve that air!).
5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen, golden-brown and springy to the touch (mine took nearer 30 minutes). Cool in the tin for five minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
6. For the filling, dissolve the coffee in the boiling water and add the brandy (see note above about omitting brandy). Set aside to cool. Now is a good time to grate your chocolate if you haven't already.
7. When the sponge is cold, carefully slice the cake in half horizontally, so you have two thin sponges of equal depth (hahahaha, unless you have some sort of freaky precision cutter these sponges will not be equal depth, just be proud if they are two sponges rather than millions of pieces).
8. Using the loose base of a square cake tin as a guide, cut two 18cm/7in squares from each sponge (I found it easier to cut the squares out and then cut in half horizontally, due to the relatively short blade of my knife). You don't need the sponge trimmings for the tiramisu cake, eat them now to calm your nerves or save them for something else.
9. Line the base and sides of the square tin with long rectangles of baking parchment; there should be plenty of excess parchment which you can use to help lift the cake from the tin later (which is all well and good, but good luck getting the base parchment off the blessed thing!).
10. Place the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually beat in the cream and icing sugar to make a creamy, spreadable frosting.
11. Place one layer of sponge in the base of the lined cake tin. Spoon over one-quarter of the coffee brandy mixture. Then spread (or pipe. I wish I'd piped) one-quarter of the mascarpone frosting over the soaked sponge. Scatter over one-third of the grated chocolate.
12. Place the second sponge on top, spoon over another quarter of the coffee mixture then spread another quarter of the frosting over the soaked sponge. Scatter over another one third of the grated chocolate. Repeat with the third sponge and another one-quarter of the coffee mixture and frosting and the remaining grated chocolate.
13. Place the fourth sponge on top and spoon over the remaining coffee mixture. Using a palette knife spread a very thin layer of the remaining frosting over the top of the cake – this is called a ‘crumb coat’ and will seal in any loose crumbs of sponge. (Nope, still haven't worked out why you need this crumb coat, you won't be able to see the cream once the cocoa dusting is on)
14. Wipe the palette knife and spread the rest of the frosting in a thicker layer over the cake. Chill for at least one hour in the fridge before turning out.
15. While the cake is chilling, melt half of the chopped chocolate in a small bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. (Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.) Gently stir the chocolate until it reaches a melting temperature of 53C/127F.
16. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the remaining half of chopped chocolate and continuing stirring gently until the chocolate cools to 31C/88F or lower and is thick enough to pipe.
17. Place a sheet of baking parchment on the work surface. Use another sheet to make a paper piping bag.
18. Spoon the melted chocolate into the paper piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe decorative shapes onto the baking parchment. Leave to set until required.
19. Dust the chilled tiramisu cake with the cocoa powder (thus hiding any boo-boos in the cream), before turning out (there is no turning involved - you want the cake to still have the top at the top) onto a serving plate using the parchment paper to help lift out of the tin. Decorate with the chocolate shapes.

Now drink the brandy you didn't put in the cake.

I'm entering this in Supergolden Bakes #GBBO Bake Along and Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off 2014 (Desserts) .

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Wild Plum and Apple Jelly

Foraging for food is one of my favourite things. First - the thrill of the chase, to track down some wild, but tasty, foodstuff. Then the stuffing of pockets and bags. Finally, the joy of creating something that, if not entirely free, certainly of smaller cost.

Wild plums, here, encompasses damsons, sloes and bullaces. The apple is added to mellow the bitterness and provide a little extra pectin. I also had to add lemon juice, as mine initially wouldn't set (I also added too little sugar) and had to reboil (which sadly loses some of the wild plum flavour and makes it a little "caramelly" in flavour.) This jelly is good with game or other "rich" meats, but could just as easily be spread on toast, or in jam tarts, if that's your preference.

The plums were picked over the course of two weeks, as they ripened, and stored in the freezer (whole) until enough were gathered, as it was such a short period of time. If I was going to keep them for longer, I would consider removing the stones first, as they can make the plums (more) bitter.

2 kg wild plums (I used a mix of damsons, sloes and bullaces)
750g cooking apples (I used underripe bramleys and a few windfalls of indeterminate breed)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1.8 kg granulated sugar (ish - will depend on your juice yield)

1. Place plums in a large pan with 1 litre of water. Cook over a gentle heat until the plums have broken down (this can be assisted with a potato masher.)

2. Tip the mush into a jelly bag over a large bowl and leave to drain.
3. Place the apples, roughly quartered, but not peeled or cored, into the same pan (don't bother washing it!) with 500ml of water. Cook as for the plums.
4. Add the mush to the jelly bag and leave to drain overnight.
(Optional: after 30 mins, empty mush back into pan, add a further 500ml of water and simmer for a further half hour, then tip back into the jelly bag and leave to drain overnight - I did this, but don't think I would bother next time, I think I just diluted the extract)
5. Measure the juice (I got 2 litres) and allow 900g to 1kg of sugar per litre. Don't add the sugar yet.
6. Put clean jam jars in the oven to sterilise.

7. Pour the juice into a very large pan and bring to the boil. Stir in the sugar until dissolved, then return to the boil. Boil until the temperature is ~108C on a jam thermometer, or until your chosen method indicates that the jelly will set.
8. Pour hot jelly into hot jars, and put the lids on. Leave the jars undisturbed to set overnight.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.3)

Bread week. The week that your baking future depends on microbes and elbow grease.

The week that perfectly sane people begin repeating, "does that sound hollow?" with alarming frequency.

The week that I wish I had a food mixer with a dough hook, rather than an amusing hand mixer with spirals.

And the week that I cannot even wait for a photo before sinking my teeth into the delicious loaf. (And the week that I am so proud of my crumb structure!)

Point of note - this recipe needs to be started the night before if you're hoping to eat the ciabatta at lunch time, and early in the morning if you're hoping to eat it for supper.

400g/14oz strong white (bread) flour, plus extra for dusting
7g instant yeast
300ml/10fl oz water
30ml/1fl oz olive oil, plus extra for oiling
7g salt
Semolina flour, for dusting

1. At least six hours before you intend to bake the loaf (I started mine off at 8pm): Combine half of the flour (200g) and 4g of the yeast with half the water (150ml), in a bowl. Beat it together into a thick batter.
2. Oil a clean work surface and knead the dough for five minutes.
3. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel and leave it to rise for at least six hours at room temperature.
4. (The next morning)Tip the mixture into the bowl of a food mixer. Add the remaining flour (200g), the oil and remaining  (3g) and half of the remaining water (75ml).
5. Mix this all together in a food mixer with a dough hook attached.
6. Dissolve the salt in the last of the water (75ml) and gradually add this to the mixture (v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y or you will be wearing it); mixing for 6-10 minutes, or until the dough is stringy and soft.
7. Tip the dough into a well-oiled litre square plastic container and put the lid on.
8. Leave the dough to swell until the dough has risen three-quarters of the way up the side of the container. (If you accidentally leave it until it has risen to the top of the container it doesn't mind, and this may fulfil Paul Hollywood's edict to "be patient")
9. Mix equal amount of flour and semolina flour together and use this to flour the work surface (don't use all of it, mind, as you'll need some to flour the baking tray later). Tip the dough out onto the surface. Split the dough into two and stretch the two pieces into shape (do NOT knock back - the lovely irregular holes are because it is not knocked back).
10. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 (I have a fan oven, and bread is the one time that I don't adjust the temperature - the hotter the better).
11. Place the dough on a baking tray floured with a mixture of flour and semolina and allow to prove again for another 30 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes.

I'm entering this in Supergolden Bakes #GBBO bake along and  Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off (Bread) (Updated to add - also submitting to Yeastspotting )

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Healthy Nibbles

One of the good things about Twitter is occasionally you will stumble across something new and interesting. Recently I stumbled across Healthy Nibbles. This is a brand new company "oop north" producing vending machines stocked with healthy snacks and mail-order healthy mixed snack boxes. In fact, they were so brand spanking new that when I first checked them out, they had only just installed their first machine and weren't yet selling their boxes.

However, after some rather energetic pester power, I managed to be their first official customer!

The box arrived very quickly, via Royal Mail. It is quite big, so if you have a standard "hole in the door" letterbox, it may not fit through. It is beautifully packed, and there was a charming handwritten note thanking me for being the first one to buy one.

There was a wonderful range of snacks. Being quite new to the world of healthy, slightly niche, snacks, I only recognised about 4 items, and had only ever tried 2 of them!

The box contained the following (forgive the spattering of links, I want you to be able to have a look at these items if you're not familiar) : Snapz tomato crisps (only 40 calories a packet, containing only tomatoes, and utterly delicious, with a wonderful crunch,) Oloves chili and oregano (just the right kick,) Elements for Life Yummy Scrummy Raw Chocolate Brownie (true to its name, yummy scrummy,) a tube of Superseeds Feel the Heat (not yet tried,) a sachet of Munchy Seeds Honey Seeds (I've tried these before, delish!) Nakd cocoa and mint bar (I think Healthy Nibbles have been watching my Twitter Feed, as I recently declared these my favourite Nakd bar!) Frank Orange & Chocolate and Blueberry & Chocolate bars (I preferred the orange one, I didn't dislike the blueberry one, but wasn't entirely conviced by the blueberry/chocolate combo), IQ Superfood Chocolate Orange and Wild Raspberry chocolate (haven't tried, yet,) Bounce Energy Balls Ginseng and Spirulina (not tried yet,) Olly Bars All Day Breakfast bar (really yummy, and my first taste of something containing chia seeds,) and last, but not least, Tyrrell's veg crisps (I like. A lot.)

A range of really tasty healthy snacks, several of which were new to me, meaning I tried things I probably would have passed over (to my loss.)
Lovely customer service.
A snack box service, delivered to the door; come on, who doesn't love the joy of opening a parcel and not knowing what will be inside?
Quick delivery after ordering.

Rather short shelf lives on some items (I brought this up with Healthy Nibbles, and am informed that this has been raised, and from now on all items will have at least 60 days until they expire)
The lowest priced box is still £19.95 (but I do acknowledge these are premium snacks, often from small independent companies, and this includes P&P)

Disclaimer: I paid full price for the standard Nibbles Box although there were a couple of bonus snacks as there was a slight delay in the posting, due to a supplier issue. All opinions expressed are entirely my own, and this review is entirely voluntary.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.2)

Week two of season 5 of The Great British Bake-Off brings florentines.

I must admit, here, that I actually had a practice run yesterday - I went to visit the Ballerina, the Maharajah and their daughter Princess Smiles. The Ballerina had arranged an excellent programme of activities that included making tart tatin and florentines. I am firmly of the opinion that both are better made, for the first time, with company.

Florentines are certainly an easier technical bake than tuiles, especially if you are not blessed with heat-proof fingers. However, they have their own foibles. I had excellent advice from Pigling about how much they spread, but noted that the addition of an extra tablespoon or two of flour can take the florentines from this: 

To this:

The thicker, less holey florentine (with the additional flour) is also more receptive to its chocolate backing, and less likely to allow the chocolate to ooze through.

Recipe: Mary Berry's Florentines

    50g/1¾oz butter
    50g/1¾oz demerara sugar (I replaced this with light brown sugar, because I don't have any demerara!)
    50g/1¾oz golden syrup
    50g/1¾oz plain flour (an extra tablespoon or two makes the florentines slightly thicker and less lacy - your call)
    25g/1oz dried cranberries or glacĂ© cherries, finely chopped (I used dried morello cherries)
    50g/1¾oz candied peel, finely chopped
    25g/1oz almonds, finely chopped
    25g/1oz walnut pieces, finely chopped (I omitted these, and made up the weight with almonds and cherries)
    200g/7oz plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C (fan)/350F/Gas 4. Line three baking trays with baking parchment or silicon sheets.
2. Measure the butter, sugar and syrup into a small pan and heat gently until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and add the flour, chopped cranberries or cherries, candied peel and nuts to the pan. Stir well to mix.
3. Make 18 florentines by spooning six teaspoonfuls of the mixture on to each of the prepared baking
trays, leaving plenty of room for them to spread during cooking.
4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden-brown. Leave the florentines to cool before lifting onto a cooling rack using a palette knife (if the florentines have been baked on greased baking trays, then allow them to harden for a few moments only before lifting onto cooling racks to cool completely). If the florentines become too hard to remove, then pop them back into the oven for a few minutes to allow them to soften.
5. Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, without letting the bowl touch the water. Temper the chocolate by breaking half of the chocolate into the bowl. Stir until the chocolate reaches a melting temperature of 53C/127F. Meanwhile, finely chop or grate the remaining chocolate. Carefully remove the bowl from the pan, add the rest of the chocolate and stir gently until the chocolate has cooled to 26C/79F. (The chocolate needs to be REALLY thick to stop it oozing through the florentines)
6. Spread a little melted chocolate over the flat base of each florentine and leave to cool slightly before marking a zigzag in the chocolate with a fork. Leave to set, chocolate side up on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

This is being entered into  My GBBO Bakealong and the Great Bloggers Bake Off