March 2014

March 2014

Monday, November 26, 2012

Make ahead Christmas

What a delightful couple of hours I spent today making marzipan fruits with two friends. We sat at a kitchen table, swapping news of family, with each of us engrossed in sweet production. Memories of childhood and cake making were explored and the ‘fruits’ of our labours looked a real treat when we had finished.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Clandestine Cake Club - Northampton & District

What a fantastic round of drinks the aptly-titled cakes made at our Boozy Bakes event this week. I think we all must have raided our own drinks cabinets and discovered some of the left-over dregs from Christmas 2011 to include in this month’s baking!  Anyway, the results were amazing, as always, and I am so grateful to the following attendee bakers for making my drive home just a blur and this morning’s headache a fond remembrance!

Lorraine - Gin and tonic cake
Helen - Chocolate Guiness cake
Laura - Cointreau cake
Christine - Coffee and Tia Maria cake
Julie - Amaretto cake
Marian – Grand Marnier bundt cake
Mary-Jane – Chocolate and Amaretto cake
Mark – Chocolate Guiness cake
Marie – Amarula cake
Tina – Banana and Drambuie cake
Carmela – Christmas rum and orange liqueur cake
Lisa – Coconut and Malibu cake
Debbie – Tiramisu cake with Tia Maria and Brandy
Gillian – Pina Colada cake

Thanks, too, to the Yeoman of England pub/restaurant in Wootton village who hosted our meeting. The Manager and staff couldn’t have been more welcoming and, as they have asked us to book again, we look forward to returning there sometime in 2013.

Bottoms up!

(Further photos taken at this event can be seen on shortly).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

New TV programme

Bedfordshire clanger

If, like me, you have an interest in everything to do with baking, have you heard that there is to be a new TV programme starting on Monday, 26th November? It is scheduled for ITV 1 between 4.00 and 5.00pm each weekday, running for 4 weeks, and is entitled ‘Britain’s Best Bakery’.
More than a food competition, this series will be a celebration of bakeries across the UK, the delicious goods that they produce, their regional specialities and their centuries of old baking heritage. Critics will be sampling the delicacies of the country’s favourite independent, family run and community bakeries, tasting their way through breads, cakes, pastries and pies.
The shortlisted bakeries will also compete in a series of baking challenges that put their skills to the test and the programme will also reveal the heart-warming stories of the bakeries and the people who lovingly create and bake within them.
I’ll be watching, or recording it, will you?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bake ahead Christmas

Well, I hate to remind you but with the days shortening and with a nippy start to the mornings, we are heading downhill or uphill – whichever way you believe it so - to Christmas.
This year I am going to try and get organised with one or two tasty and perfect treats to bake ahead of time and freeze - ready to pop in the oven over the festive period.
Like most of us, I so look forward to the British apple season. There is nothing like biting into a juicy, crisp and slightly sharp fruit.  However, in my fruit bowl yesterday, I had two forlorn-looking Cox’s apples left and, on the spur of the moment, decided to incorporate these into a Christmas bun recipe. This is one I will definitely bake ahead for my family.
So, like me, go on - spoil those around you – make now, freeze the buns and warm through for breakfast on Christmas morning and fill the kitchen and house with the glorious and intoxicating smells of warm fruit and spices. There’s nothing better!
350g strong white bread flour
7g easy-blend dried yeast
1 large egg
100g butter
200g marzipan, grated
2 eating apples – peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
75g raisins
1 tsp ground mixed spice
Icing sugar
In a mixing bowl, place flour, yeast and sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the egg. Melt the butter, then make up to 175ml with warm water. Add to the bowl and bring the mixture together to form a soft dough.

Knead on lightly floured surface for 10 minutes or so until smooth and elastic. Place in a clean bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave until the dough has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, line a shallow 23cm tin with baking parchment.

When dough is ready, tip it out onto floured surface and knead again for 1 minute. Then roll the dough out to a 50 x 15cm rectangle. Scatter over the marzipan, and apples. Mix the spice with raisins and sprinkle over the apples. Starting from the long edge, roll up the dough into a long, thin sausage shape.

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 10 even-sized pieces and place them with their cut sides face-up in the prepared tin. Cover loosely with clingfilm and leave to rise again for about an hour or until the buns are tightly packed in the tin.

Bake for about 30 minutes in a 200C oven – gas mark 6 – until a deep golden colour. Leave in the tin for 15minutes and then tip onto a wire rack to cool. When ready to serve, dust with icing sugar or make up a small quantity of runny icing and drizzle over.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Raspberry muffins

Question – “What can I bake this weekend that is not wickedly indulgent but satisfies my need to fill the kitchen with warm aromas of something fresh and satisfying from the oven?.”

Answer – “The easiest cakes I ever cook - which can come in all kinds of mouth-watering flavours - and can be made occasionally to be quite 'virtuous'.  Of course, it must be American-style muffins.

Recipes for these little cakes are numerous but, today, I wanted to keep to the lower fat version using buttermilk and some raspberries that had been reduced to £1 in the supermarket.  Well.....we all like a bargain!

Sadly, it is no longer easy to find churn buttermilk. Years ago local butter producers would sell the liquid left after butter churning, which resulted in an almost fat-free product. Today most modern buttermilk is cultured, i.e. factory-made using a fermentation process with very low-fat milk. The resulting product is thicker than traditional buttermilk but can be used in the same way for making excellent pancakes, scones, soda bread, and more......including muffins.

My low-fat (0.75g saturated fat per cake and 170 calories) raspberry muffin recipe uses:
275g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
115g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 carton buttermilk (around 280ml)
4 tbsp rapeseed oil (or other healthy oil)
150g raspberries (or other fruit)
Icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 200c (or 190c fan) and line a muffin tin with 12 cases. Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl, stir in the sugar, then make a well in the centre.

Mix the egg, buttermilk and oil together in a separate bowl, pour into the flour mixture and mix quickly.

Add the raspberries and lightly fold in with a metal spoon. (Do not over-mix – it’s OK for it to be a bit lumpy.) Spoon the mixture into the paper cases and bake for around 25 mins until golden brown and firm in the middle. Transfer to a wire rack and when cool dust liberally with icing sugar.