Thursday, 7 November 2013

Hot chocolate, ginger-nuts, cake.....the cold nights are now upon us and I am fighting a nightly temptation of filling up on hot chocolate and ginger-nut biscuits which are my favourite or going into the kitchen to make warm puddings to tuck into late at night!

I have a supply of Libbys Pumpkin and several jars of mincemeat....so I know pumpkin things and mince pies will be coming out of the kitchen shortly.  

I made this cake last week for a first birthday.  It was three layers of chocolate cake filled with vanilla cooked flour butter cream and chocolate ganache, then covered in fondant.  It looked so cute once I had finished, although rolling all those "bubbles" were rather tedious.  



Saturday, 2 November 2013

It's been a while.  The lovely in laws that travelled for nine days to see us over the summer months,  made the return journey home in mid September and are now back on the island.   I had made a planned not to bake much over the summer as I wanted to make sure that time was spent with them and the family so baking wasn't on the top of the agenda.  I did however make a few things....my giant birthday cake, some cheese straws, a chocolate cake for friends and a carrot cake.

I have picked up the baking over the past weeks and determined to cook different relatively healthy things for our evening meals, to stop the rot of "whats for dinner today?" ...hence this week some home-made bread to go with our smoked bacon and vegetable home-made soup.  Now I am not the best bread maker.....firstly even though it smells excellent when it is cooking, I am not patient enough to wait around for the whole, rise, bake etc process and also the fear of it not rising is another story!

However, I enjoyed making this bread, the dough was left to rise as I whizzed of to the local shops....so I didn't have to wait around.....it was shaped an allowed to rise while I prepared the ingredients for the soup, and then it went into the oven, while the soup was cooking.  It turned out to be so tasty and it went down a treat in our house on a cold and wet evening this week.  I am on a bread baking mission...so watch this space!

Onion and Cumin Pull Apart Bread.  
(oops bad pictures....I took them on my mobile)




Recipe:

Bread:

500g strong white bread flour
2 tsp fast action yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
300ml warm milk
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 gloves garlic crushed
1/2 tsp chopped red chilli or dried chillies
1 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
3 medium onions chopped
100g grated strong cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon olive or sunflower oil
1 table spoon melted butter (keep to use later)


Mix the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, olive oil or butter, garlic and chilli together in a large bowl.  Rub the ingredients together to resemble breadcrumbs. Pour in the milk to form a dough, which will be sticky, but will become smooth once kneaded.  Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth.

Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave the dough in a warm place to rise and double in size (around an hour).

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onions until they are a light caramel colour.  Add the cumin seeds and stir for a minute to bring out the flavour.  Set aside to cool.

Grease and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf tin.

When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and place on a lightly floured surface.  Roll it out into a 12 x 12 square or near enough to this size.  This maybe a bit difficult to do, so use your hands to help stretch the dough.  

Brush the dough with melted butter, then sprinkle over the onion and cumin mix and the cheese.  Cut the dough into six equal strips.  Stack the strips on top of each other with the filling facing upwards.  Now cut the stack into four equal pieces.  

Place the stacks vertically in the loaf tin (so when the bread is baked, you wont need to slice it, you will be able to pull the slices apart).  Don't overcrowd the pan.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius during the next rise of the dough.

Cover the dough and allow to rise for another hour.  After an hour, brush with milk and bake for 30 - 40 minutes until golden.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Another birthday, another decade.  Having thought about making myself a cake earlier in the month, and then deciding on doing one of my death by chocolate type of cakes, my sister in-law threw a spanner in the works by asking me "what sort of cake I was making for my birthday," followed by sending me lots of ideas. Not one to shy away from a challenge I then decided to pull out all the stops and make a massive cake....in my favourite colours, things etc.

The bottom cake was a 10 inch , three layer chocolate cake, sandwiched together with chocolate ganache and the top cake, a six inch, three layer lemon cake, soaked with lemon syrup and sandwiched together with lemon curd and lemon cooked flour butter-cream.  The shoe I made using red fondant and a shoe mould.  

The black royal icing piping was based on henna designs, and piped on using a fine piping nozzle.   


Its been a while since I blogged.  So much has happened in the past weeks, that they have literally flown by. My in-laws made the long journey from St Helena to the U.K to spend time with us and the rest of the family.  It is no walk in the park to get here from the island....5 days by ship to Capetown, a two day stop over and then a 14 hour flight.  Having not seen them for 8 years it has been wonderful catching up, so every vacant moment has been spent with them which has been truly wonderful.  I did however bake a few things which I will blog about in a later post!



Sunday, 14 July 2013

I haven't blogged, in a while.  The weather has been so lovely that and I have been making the most of it after work each day.  The weekends have been busy with various engagements for our older son who plays in a brass band as well as catching up with the gardening etc.

We have been  munching our way through the Border Biscuits......and they now catch my eye on the shelves on the shops too. They seem to be appearing in our local town too, so I have been telling everyone I know, how good they are.

The Divinely Chocolatey Cookies looked so yummy and chocolatey in the box so I decided to use them as a base for a Rhubarb and Ginger Cheesecake.  

The cookies smelt chocolatey and the the little lumps of dark chocolate (my favourite) complimented them perfectly.  The combination of chocolate, ginger and rhubarb was absolutely divine and I would use these again in a rhubarb cheesecake.  

The cheesecake is best if left overnight, unfortunately we cut ours after about four hours of chilling so it still had a bit of wobble in the middle, but the left overs tasted divine the next day. 
 





Recipe.

1 box Border divinely chocolatey cookies (150g) crushed
60g butter, melted.
1 piece of stem ginger finely chopped

For the filling

50g caster sugar
400g rhubarb cut into 1/2  inch pieces
3 pieces of stem ginger finely chopped
1 tablespoon of stem ginger syrup from the jar
600g cream cheese
3 tablespoons of icing sugar
4 free range eggs
2 tablespoons cornflour
300ml soured cream

9 inch springform tin with the base lined with baking paper.

Preheat the oven to 170C/350F/Gas 4

For the Base - mix together the crushed biscuits, quarter of the stem ginger and the butter.  Press into the base of the tin, then bake in the oven for 10 mins.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool while making the filling.

Put the caster sugar, stem ginger syrup and a tablespoon of water in a saucepan.  Gently simmer then add the rhubarb and simmer until it is just cooked (about 6 mins).  Remove from the heat and drain of the juice.

Place the cream cheese, soured cream, eggs, and icing sugar, and cornflour into a mixing bowl.  Beat until thick and smooth.

Cover the base of the cheesecake, evenly with the Rhubarb and then scatter over some of the stem ginger. Fold the remaining stem ginger into the cheesecake filling, then pour over the rhubarb.

Give the cheesecake a few taps on a hard surface to remove the air bubbles, then cook on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 mins, before reducing the oven tempeature to 150C/300F/gas 2 and cook for a further 30 mins.  The outside of the cheesecake should be firm and the centre should still be wobbly.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then chill for as long as possible, preferably over night.  

Sunday, 16 June 2013

I offered my services to become a biscuit taster for BORDER biscuits and within a matter of two days the postie delivered to me a box with the most delicious looking collection of biscuits, all packaged beautifully and standing upright in their see through boxes.

Border Biscuits is a family owned Scottish company.  Their philosophy being "Biscuits before Profits," so they produce quality biscuits.  

The first biscuits we (Myself and the family) tested on a wet afternoon, while watching the tennis were the strawberry and cream shortbread.....very fitting.  The biscuit was buttery, with a creamy smell and taste and melted in the mouth.  Within every bite were juicy strawberry pieces which complimented the biscuit and added to an overall perfect biscuit.




Wednesday, 29 May 2013

What do you do when someone gifts you a bag of Rhubarb.......you make a cake!!  Last night I made a Rhubarb and orange crumble cake which had a hint of Ginger Curd.  I found the Ginger Curd in Hereford yesterday in TKMaxx and thought that a couple of tablespoons would go nicely with the cake.

I love the orange flavoured cake and it goes really well with the tangy-ness of the rhubarb.



Recipe:

4 large Stalks of Rhubarb. (Washed and dried)
200g butter
400g caster sugar
4 eggs
400g self raising flour
1 orange (zest and juice)

Ginger curd

Crumble:

100g butter
200g plain flour
50g caster sugar.

Grease an baseline a 9inch round spring release cake tin, preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Beat the eggs and sugar together until light and creamy.  Mix in 2 eggs and then 100g of the flour.  Mix in the remaining two eggs and the rest of the flour.  Grate the zest of the orange and mix into the cake mixture.  Stir in the orange juice.

Spoon the cake mix into the prepared tin and level. Dollop over up to two tablespoons of the ginger curd over the cake mix.   Chop the rhubarb and spread over the cake mix (no need to stir in).

Make the crumble by rubbing the butter into the flour and then stirring in the sugar.  Sprinkle over the rhubarb and bake for about and hour until a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Bananas that go in lunch boxes and come back looking like they have been in a massive street brawl have only one use afterwards......in a cake!  I baked this banana loaf which not only has bananas, but coconut and orange zest and juice added to it too.  Its a really blinged up banana loaf and really tasty.  

The recipe for this banana loaf was given to me by my best friend in 1998 when we lived on Ascension Island.  I was showing my children on the weekend that it was on the same piece of paper that she faxed as it was dated 1998....and we only lived next door to each other....it must have been a wet day!!  My youngest son was completely baffled and asked what a fax was!!! At eight years old, he only knows email and text message etc.




Recipe:

Oven temperature 175 degrees Celsius.  Grease and base lined large loaf tin, or used a grease proof loaf tin liner.

2 cups plain flour (sifted)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter softened
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
grated zest of one orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup orange juice
4 medium bananas mashed (really ripe bananas work best)
1 cup dessicated coconut
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, baking soda, orange juice, and orange zest until well combined (2 to 3 minutes).  Mix in the bananas.  Stir in the coconut and nuts if using.  This will make a thick batter.  Spread the batter into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 50 to 60 minutes or until a cake tester, inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing from the tin to cool completely. 


It has really been all about bread this week!  My friend celebrated her birthday and her hubby wanted to give her a cake shaped liked loaf of bread as when they were in his words "poor students," the only thing he managed to get her on her birthday was a fresh loaf of bread with some butter.  The cake wasn't meant to go on a bread board, but when I was doing it I had this idea that as a loaf of bread it shouldn't be on anything else but a bread board.  A new bread board in a small town can set you back at least twelve quid so a visit to the charity shop and 50p later, I had a bread board.  After soaking it in boiling  water and then scrubbing every inch of it, it made the perfect board for the cake.  The butter, loaf and slice is all cake, so little waste in that loaf!!!!  



Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Last week I have been mostly baking.....with the awful weather, it's back to hibernation, so we have had all-sorts of treats.  The Barn Farm Shop in the town has had lots of citrus fruits in over the past month, so we have had lemon meringues, lime meringues and this week the oranges were 8 for a quid which is so cheap and  so Orange Meringue Pies, were baked on Sunday.  

Some of the meringue was a little darker than I wanted.....admittedly I got carried away watching the FA Cup final, so the time in the oven went to about five and half mins, (I forgot to set my timer oops) but they still tasted good and disappeared rather quickly.  I based the  recipe on the lemon meringue ones which I posted a little while ago, but I made a sweet shortcrust pastry for the cases instead of shortbread bases.

Sweet Shortcrust

8 oz plain flour, 4 oz butter, 2 tablespoons icing sugar, 1 beaten egg.  

To get deep cases to fit the muffin tin, I opened out a muffin paper case, and cut around it.....pastry cases as deep as the tin....with a little fitting and trimming!









Barn Farm Shop



Monday, 6 May 2013

April is over and we are rushing through May!.  April has been a month of birthdays, and our middle son was 18 last weekend.  I decided to bake him a huge chocolate cake and what could be more fitting than doing a music themed cake as he is a brilliant musician who plays trumpet and piano.  He was really impressed by the music score which turned out well, considering I was piping it on at two in the morning!  We didn't get to cut the cake though...he took it to college and shared it with his fellow students in the music department.

We went of to a friends wedding on Saturday.  We met up with so many people who we haven't seen in ten years or more, due to us moving and travelling.  It was so good to catch up, and share stories and of course to toast the beautiful bride and groom....the bride was working in the hospital on Ascension Island when our middle son was born (18 years ago) so it was yet another occasion worth toasting.  




Monday, 22 April 2013

Time flies when you're having fun.  The weekend just zoomed by as we spent it with friends, chatting, eating, drinking wine and singing on Saturday evening, then finished of with an afternoon at the raceway yesterday.  

On Saturday afternoon I cooked a trio of curries.   I made a traditional St Helenian chicken curry and then a beef madras and a lamb rogan josh.  It is satisfying to make a curry at home and cheaper than a take away.  It just takes time and effort to prepare, but they can left to cook or a low heat afterwards.  It isn't hard to do and the spices are readily available from local supermarkets and Asian food shops.  


Beef Madras, Lamb Rogan Josh, St Helenian Chicken Curry.  

Each of these recipes serve four.

Beef Madras (aromatic, pungent and spicy)

2 lb stewing beef (beef shin is great), 3 tbsp sunflower oil, 1 large onion finely chopped, 4 cloves, 4 green cardamom pods,  1 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped, 2 garlic cloves crushed, 2 green chillies finely chopped, 2 dried red chillies (leave whole), 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp salt, 250 ml beef stock.

Remove any visible fat from the meat and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion, cloves, and cardamom pods for 5 minutes.  Add the chillies, cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, and fry for a further 2 minutes.  Add the beef and fry for 5 - 8 minutes until the meat is lightly browned.  Add the coriander, salt, ground cumin and stock.  Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally until the meat is tender.  Add more salt if necessary, remove the whole red chillies and serve with rice.

Rogan Josh (Marinate the lamb in the yoghurt overnight or for a minimum of four hours)

2 lb lamb fillet, 3 tbsp lemon juice, 250 ml natural yoghurt, 1 tsp salt, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, 1 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped, 3 tbsp sunflower oil, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 2 bay leaves, 4 green cardamom pods, 1 onion finely chopped, 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp chilli powder, 14 oz can chopped tomatoes, 2 tsp tomato puree, 150 ml water.

Remove any visible fat from the meat and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.  Place meat in a no metallic bowl and mix in the yoghurt, lemon juice, salt, 1 crushed garlic clove and the ginger.  Cover and leave to marinate overnight in the refrigerator.  

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the cumin seeds for 2 minutes or until they splutter.  Add the cardamom pods,  onion, and garlic and fry for  5 minutes.  Add the chilli powder, ground coriander, and ground cumin and fry for a further 2 minutes.  Add the marinated lamb and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and water.  Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, then cover and simmer gently for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is tender.  Add more salt if necessary and serve hot with boiled rice.   

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Back to school and warmer weather......typical! Still hopefully we will get an injection of summer...so bring on the sun so we can light the BBQ and sit around drinking daiquiris (time to bring out the smoothie machine), and rather a lot of bacardi!

This week I have been taking stock of all the cook books I have.  Some sit in the kitchen on a specially made shelf, a lot sit in a large box, not seeing the light of day, for the past six years we have been in the UK and more years from living in other countries too!  I have been trying to break a habit of being drawn to the glossy baking books that catch my eye in just about every shop (apart from Aldo shoe shop), these days.  I have favourite books, and books which I think look great, but I haven't yet made a thing from, so I have decided to give myself the task of baking/cooking something from each of my books over the days/weeks/months.......should make for some interesting blog posts.

In the meantime, I baked a chocolate cake for the son of my friend, last week.  It had to be angry birds....he was really chuffed, I believe.  All of it was edible....so I bet there was some small boys bouncing of the walls after eating the fondant birds!




Sunday, 7 April 2013

All the commercial hype about Easter and it has come and gone.  The shops had been full of Easter eggs, since the end of December, and the weather has made us feel like we were really and truly stuck in December.  As usual, the collection of Easter eggs in our house was huge (I didn't buy any, they were gifts and a school bingo prize), but once the small chocolates that comes in the packages are eaten, we are then left with about half a dozen or so chocolate eggs, that no one wants to eat, so naturally in the coming week they will be up-cycled into a crispy cake of some sort!

I have been baking a few things in the past weeks and donated the Easter cupcakes below for a fundraising event in aid of the Severn Hospice as well as a I baked a  few extra to give to the neighbours over Easter.  I love baking and it is even more satisfying knowing that a couple of hours spent in the kitchen, can raise money for worthwhile causes.    





Saturday, 16 March 2013

Its been a while, but so much has happened in the past few weeks.....mostly I was fighting of the dreaded cold and aches that comes with it.  

I had hoped to make a lemon pie of some sort a while ago, and kept buying the lemons, but used them for other things and not getting round to making a pie but on a cold, cold Saturday last weekend, I made Lemon Meringue Shortbread pies....they were delicious.

I didn't use the normal pastry for the bases, but used a shortbread recipe instead (bit of an experiment) which even though it was a little tricky to roll and line the tins with, it tasted fantastic in the pies.  Again I am going to link it to Pamela's Heavenly Treats, the blog to showcase Desserts!



Makes approx 18

Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius, 2 x muffin tins 

Shortbread

2 cups plain flour
1 cup salted butter
1/2 cup icing sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Mix in the flour, then use your hands to make a smooth dough.  Wrap the dough in cling wrap and chill for a minimum of 30 mins. 

To make the pies:

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and using a round circle cutter, cut out circles to line your muffin tins. (Preferably so the pastry is the depth of the cup for deep pies).  Place the tins in the refrigerator for approx 15 mins to chill the dough again.

Bake the pastry shells blind (use pastry weights/rice etc) for approx 8 mins until golden.  Remove the weights and bake for a further three to four mins.  Remove from the oven and leave in the tins.

To make the Lemon Curd

1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup lemon juice (about 4 - 5 lemons)
2 tsp grated lemon zest
4 large eggs yolks (keep the whites for the meringue)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup cornflour
2/3 cup cold water.

Place the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, egg yolks into a saucepan. Mix together then pour in the boiling water and then mix again thoroughly.  Mix together the cornflour and the cold water.  Place the saucepan over a medium heat, and stirring all the time.  Pour in the cornflour mix and continue to stir over the heat until the curd is thick.   Remove from the heat and pour immediately into the shortbread shells.  

Meringue

4 egg whites
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon corn flour
1/4 cup boiling water.

Whisk the egg whites in a grease free bowl until thick . (A good tester is if you tilt the bowl, the egg whites shouldn't move).  Gradually beat in the sugar to form a thick glossy meringue.  Mix the corn flour and boiling water together to make a gel.  Spoon into the meringue mixture and mix in thoroughly.

Spoon the Meringue into a piping bag and pipe the meringue over the curd, to cover it completely.  

Place the trays back into the oven for approx 5 mins to give the meringue a golden colour.  You may need to turn the trays and watch it carefully as the meringue can burn quickly.  

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the trays.  Best Eaten on the same day as the shortbread softens overnight, but still tastes just as good!



In other news....in mid February, I linked my Baileys Cheesecake picture (recipe a few posts down) to Baileys on Facebook, and this is what they said:

" Thanks for sharing this Jean, using ginger nuts in the cheesecake base is a stroke of genius! You have some

amazing recipes on your blog and are obviously a very talented baker, we are very jealous here at Baileys HQ!  

We're so impressed by your baking skills here at Baileys HQ! We think you deserve some chocolatey Baileys 

goodies for your efforts."  

This is what I received from Baileys in the post and the chocolates were absolutely divine!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Half term holidays so there will be time to experiment this week with some baking and cooking.  Valentines was spent with our boys and we had a lovely meal cooked at home followed by some warm chilli chocolate brownies.  They were delicious, with just a mild spicy kick every now and again.  The next day, when the chocolate bits had hardened, they tasted good, but they were better warm.  Still this is the first batch I made, so I am now going to try using other brands of chilli chocolate and see if there is any difference in heat.....any excuse to bake more!

I am also going to link this to Pamela's Heavenly Treats who runs a blog hop on a Saturday for Desserts.....right up my street!


Photo: These chilli chocolate brownies are good......so glad I been to the gym today....but better go again tomorrow!!

Recipe

Grease and base line a rectangular baking tin...mine measured 12 x 9 x 1 1/2 inches
Preheat oven to gas mark 4/ 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 F

150g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
200g dark chocolate 
250g butter
300g caster sugar
4 eggs (beaten)
150g chilli chocolate chopped into small pieces

Melt the dark chocolate and the butter in a large bowl together. (I do mine in the microwave in 30 second bursts), but over a pan of hot water is an alternative.  Stir to combine them together then remove from the heat.  Stir in the sugar and the eggs.  Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold into the chocolate mix.  Fold in the chilli chocolate.

Spread the mixture into the tin, then bake on the middle shelf of the oven for exactly 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.  Cut into squares and enjoy.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

It is snowing yet again, so there is some fresh build up of snow on the ice outside!  The men in the house are watching the snooker finals and I am contemplating if I should bake....but a Sunday roast is currently cooking in the oven!

I thought I would post some pictures of my chocolate cake.  It is the one that I am asked to make the most by friends and family and for charity donations etc etc.  It is four layers of chocolate sponge cake, sandwiched together with vanilla cooked flour buttercream then wrapped in a dark chocolate collar (band) and topped with truffles, maltesers and chocolate buttons....basically it is a chocolate indulgence cake!  Quite simply it is amazing just how a collar of chocolate cake can make a basic chocolate sponge, look classy!

I have this week bought another recipe book (my collection is huge) entitled "Made at Home Preserves" by Dick & James Strawbridge.  It has simple recipes for preserves of all kinds which I will attempt to make over the weeks/months, but as soon as I can get to the supermarkets out of town, I will most definitely get the ingredients to try the chilli chocolate brownies (pg 168).  I love chilli chocolate and the brownies look divine.