Friday, February 27, 2015

Peach Cobbler - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (17/100)

I could tell you that I made 2/3 of this recipe because a cobbler that serves 6 to 8 is just too big for three adults (even if those three adults are of the hungry variety.)

Or I could say that I just didn't have a big enough dish for 3 cans of peaches. I could even tell you that portion control is one of the best ways to promote a healthy diet.

Or I could come clean and tell you that my stock-taking skills are dire and what I believed was a can of peaches was in fact a can of mangoes. I briefly contemplated a peach and mango cobbler, but for all of the above reasons, I went for 2/3s of the recipe!

A cobbler recipe was the first time I ever came across the American use of the word, "biscuit." The recipe instructed the user to use their favourite biscuit recipe to top the cobbler. Whilst I briefly contemplated a triple chocolate chip biscuit, actually, what is meant is a tender, buttery dough, that slightly resembles a scone, but is in fact far superior. (Don't look so surprised, I've already expressed my distate for the scone, here.)

Recipes like this do somewhat make me wish I lived the American Dream on a vast homestead, completely self-sufficient, and canning jar after jar of pickles (we will gloss over the fact that I made pickles two years ago to deal with a surfeit of cucumbers, and the jars are still in the pantry waiting to be consumed.)

For the filling:
3 x 400g tins of sliced peaches (in juice)
50g soft light brown sugar (I reduced this by 10g and didn't miss it, I wonder if it is needed at all)
20g caster sugar (I reduced this by 10g and didn't miss it, I wonder if it is needed at all)]
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp cornflour (I substituted this for arrowroot)

For the topping:
170g plain flour
60g caster sugar, plus 3 tbsp for sprinkling
50g soft light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
120g cold, unsalted butter, cubed
60ml boiling water
1 tsp mixed spice


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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Chocolate Truffle Cookies - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (16/100)

These are probably my go-to cookies for birthday gifts, home groups, general consumption.

In fact, they are the item I have made most from Home Sweet Home, having made them at least thrice before we began this bake along.

They are simple, and the amaretto really makes them special (and I think is what makes them truffle-y, which may be why Gill didn't feel them appropriately named).

They disappear quickly, and small children have to be restrained from seconds.Adults, on the other hand, may indulge freely. Ah, the contradictions of age.

80g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
90g caster sugar
25g unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg
10ml amaretto
50g icing sugar, to coat


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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sweet Dough Lemon Loaf - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (15/100)

This loaf is somewhat of a mystery to Gill and I.Gill has explained her woes here. However, her woes are not my woes - my loaf is also a bit disappointing.

Rather than no rise - I had a deceptive lack of rise in the tin, followed by an explosion in the oven. I was going to put this in two tins, like the Blueberry Loaf, but there was so little dough on the roll out, it easily fitted in one tin. Humph.

Then, rather than being dry, it was still raw in the middle after the baking time was up (yet already very brown on top).

Then, to add insult to injury, as always seems to happen when I make cream cheese icing, the icing was more of a glaze/drench! On the up-side, it is really lemony and quite delicious!

Given that it needs the zest of four lemons, and the juice of half, and is rather a faff, I'm not convinced I'll be repeating this, although the stack and rotate sweet dough loaf method does produce a rather wonderful tear-and-share loaf. I'm already plotting a variation of babka, and a variation of chelsea buns or cinnamon buns along these lines!

75ml lukewarm whole milk
60ml lukewarm water
1/2 tsp salt
50g caster sugar
1.5 tsp instant or "quick action" yeast (original recipe = 2.25tsp dried active yeast)
350g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
55g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
2 large eggs, beaten
2tsp vanilla extract

60g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
grated zest of 3 lemons

90g full-fat cream cheese
40g icing sugar, sifted
1tbsp lemon juice
grated zest of 1 lemon, plus extra to decorate
1tbsp whole milk


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Sunday, February 08, 2015

Doughnut Cupcakes - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (14/100)

This is what we want from Hummingbird Bakery - sugary treats, filled with calories and American-style charm.

A simple concept - jam filled doughnut, but in jam filled cupcake form. Iced with a cinnamon buttercream, and topped with a little doughnut.

The recipe warns you to make extra little doughnuts as several will miss the cakes and accidentally fall into your mouth. I concur with this advice, and thankfully there is dough to make a good few more little doughnuts than you will need for topping purposes.

Another lot of deep fat frying, and I'm well out of the fear range. Armed with my sugar thermometer and copper bottomed pan I'm almost *whispers* confident!

Plus these little doughnuts were a lot quicker to fry than the Funnel Cakes, so the frying smell was less entrenched, and disappeared more quickly! I think I'll definitely be making the doughnuts again at least.

I made less icing than recommended, and would advise you to do the same - the whole recipe is distinctly profligate, but 1/2 didn't yield quite enough to ice all the cupcakes, perhaps 3/4 of the recipe would be the charm?

For cupcakes:
70g unsalted butter, softened
210g plain flour
250g caster sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
210 ml whole milk
2 large eggs

For filling:
100g strawberry jam (I used blackberry jelly, because, well, that's what I had!)

For the cinnamon sugar:
1 tsp cinnamon sugar
100g caster sugar

For the doughnuts:
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting (I used bread flour, for a more bready doughnut)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
25g cold unsalted butter, cubed
35g caster sugar
1 large egg
125ml whole milik
~1 litre sunflower oil (for frying)

For icing (I halved this and had enough for 14 cupcakes, but two had to remain un-iced, as the recipe yielded 16 cupcakes)
660g icing sugar, sifted
1tsp ground cinnamon
210g unsalted butter, softened
60ml whole milk


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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Almond Cake (Gluten and Dairy Free)

A couple of weeks ago, I wandered down to the local wholefoods shop, and they had sadly run out of savoury take-away food.

So I had to have cake. Terrible shame it was, and all. The cake was "Almond Bliss" - squidgy and delicious, rather like a lightened slice of marzipan.

So I wondered if I could make something similar. Much browsing of recipes online ensued. Until I remembered Pleasant View Schoolhouse had posted a simple, gluten and dairy free, almond cake recently.

It's not quite the same as the Almond Bliss, I think that had a few more ingredients than this, but it is rather good in its own right. (Edited to add: actually, that's a rather British understatement, it's blinking marvellous!)

Here it is, put into a traditional recipe format, and converted to metric measurements:

Gluten and Dairy Free Almond CakeAdapted from Pleasant View Schoolhouse

5 eggs (separated)
200g (1 cup) granulated or caster sugar (with 20g (~2 tablespoons) removed and set aside)
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
220g (2 cups) ground almonds
Whole or blanched almonds to decorate (optional)
1. Grease a 23cm/9 inch cake tin or springform tin, line with baking paper, and grease the paper.
2. Preheat the oven to 170C.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the yolks together with 180g of sugar, the salt and the vanilla until pale, creamy and mousse-like.
4. Separately, beat the egg whites until foamy. Then add the 20g of the sugar and beat until they form soft peaks.
5. Add one large spoonful of the whites to the yolks to loosen. Then fold in the rest of the whites
6. Add half of the ground to the beaten eggs and fold in gently. Sprinkle the rest of the ground almonds into the bowl and fold in as well.
7. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin, decorate with almonds as desired, then bake for about 35 minutes, or until the top is barely firm and springy to the touch.
8. Leave in the tin to cool. The cake will dip in the middle as it cools. Do not eat for 24 hours if you can resist, as it is even better on the second day.

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#CookBlogShare Edited to add: I'm entering this in Bake of the Week:Casa Costello
Casa Costello

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Chewy Apricot Cookies - The Great British Bake Off Calendar!

Little Boy Red was very clever this Christmas, and, at the tender age of 5 months old, he managed to pick me out "The Great British Bake Off, Official 2015 Calendar." Not only does it now hang proudly in my kitchen, allowing me to pencil in my plans for the week's baking, it also has a recipe a month for my baking pleasure.

These are a rather tasty sandwich biscuits indeed, although mine weren't really chewy, despite that being a title descriptor. I skimped rather on the jam, as I thought I had more jam than I did. I bulked it out with a little medlar jelly, but it still felt a rather mean quantity (you should fair better if you have the right amount of jam!).

I find it strange that they are called "apricot cookies" when it is only the filling that is apricot, and the recipe suggests you can fill with either apricot conserve or vanilla butter icing, but never mind!

I tried both the food processor and the by hand methods, as I realised after baking the first batch that once sandwiched, I wouldn't have enough biscuits for my needs!

From the Great British Bake Off 2015 Official Calendar
For biscuits:
125g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1 medium free-range egg (I used a large one, as I only ever buy large eggs)
3-4 drops almond essence (I used nearer 1/4 tsp)
20g flaked almonds (didn't have, so omitted)
200g apricot conserve or 1x quantity butter icing:
Butter Icing:
125g unsalted butter, softened
400g icing sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing sugar, for dusting

2 baking sheets, lined with baking paper

1. Preheat oven to 160C/325F/gas 3. To make the dough by hand, sift the flour, ground almonds and sugar into into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. I use a pastry blender, as I find it is just as effective, with slightly less effort, and less biscuit under the fingernails. Beat the egg and the almond essence in a small bowl using a fork, just to mix, then add to the flour mixture. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon for a few seconds so it is thoroughly combined.
2. To make the dough in a food processor put the flour, ground almonds, and sugar into the processor bowl and pulse 3 or 4 times, just to combine the ingredients. Add the pieces of butter and process until the mixture looks sandy. Beat the egg with the almond essence in a small bowl using a fork, just to mix, then add to the processor through the feed tube while the machine is running. (I didn't, I just took the lid off and added it, because I always just get things down the side of the feed tube!) Stop the machine as soon as the dough comes together.
3. Tip the dough on to the worktop. Lightly dust your hands with flour, then roll the mixture into 16 walnut-sized balls. Arrange the balls on the prepared baking sheets, spaced well apart to allow for spreading (it may be necessary to bake in batches). Scatter the flaked almonds on top of the balls and press in very gently. Place in the heated oven and bake for 14-17 minutes until golden and just firm when gently pressed.
4. Remove from the oven and leave the cookies to cool on the baking sheets, before peeling them off the baking paper. Use the apricot conserve or butter icing to sandwich pairs of cookies together, flat sides in, then dust with icing sugar. Store in an airtight container and eat within 5 days.

Butter Icing Method:
Put the soft butter into a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until paler in colour and very creamy.
Sift the icing sugar into the bowl. Add the milk and vanilla and beat (on low speed if using an electric mixer) until very smooth and thick.

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