March 2014

March 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hot Cross Bikkies

Hot Cross Bikkies
The ‘specialness’ of Hot Cross buns only being available at Easter seems to have diminished greatly in recent years with supermarkets filling their shelves with them soon after Christmas, or worse still, before! Likewise, many traditions like the sharing of hot cross buns to ensure friendship throughout the following year have sadly gone by the board and others, like hanging a hot cross bun in the kitchen to protect against fires and to ensure that all breads turned out perfectly, have long been forgotten. By the way, the hanging bun was, apparently, replaced just once a year! What wonderful ancient folklore we have in Great Britain.

So, this year when we visit friends on Good Friday, I will be taking something a little different to share - my Hot Cross Bikkies. They are warmly spiced, just like a traditional bun, with a hint of citrus and succulent with dried fruit and, more importantly, are easy to make. Here’s how –

Lurpak Cook's Range
125g unsalted butter (I used the new Lurpak Baking Butter)
75g soft brown sugar
The zest of one whole orange
1 egg yolk
200g Spelt flour
25g custard powder
1 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp ground ginger
100g mixed dried fruit

For the topping:
50g icing sugar
1 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Stamp out approx. 18 circles
Preheat oven to 200C (190C fan), Gas mark 6 and line two baking trays with baking parchment.

Cream the butter, sugar and zest and then beat in egg yolk.

Sift the flour with the custard powder and spices and combine with the creamed mixture, along with the dried fruit, to form a dough. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 20 mins to chill.

Then, place the dough between two sheets of baking parchment, and roll out to approximately 5mm in thickness and stamp out rounds using a 7cm cutter.

Place them (about 18) on the prepared trays, and bake for 15 minutes until golden.

Allow to cool on their trays for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

Finally, when biscuits are completely cold, mix icing sugar with the orange juice and pipe a cross on the top of each biscuit.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Summer fruit and almond torte (gluten-free)

It was such nice weather at the beginning of this week and we took the opportunity to tidy up the garden a little. The tayberry, in particular, fruited really well last year but it needed to have the old stems removed and the new growth tied back into shape against the fence. The green leaves are already emerging and so blossom won’t be far behind….and it’s only the beginning of April. These outside chores made me wonder if I still had any of last summer’s soft fruits left in the freezer? If so, I had better start using them up before this year’s harvest started to appear!

And so, my ‘Summer Fruit and Almond Torte’ formed into an idea as several bags of frozen tayberries, raspberries and cultivated blackberries emerged from the back of the freezer drawer. This baked, gluten-free, torte would be such a perfect dessert for friends or family, as well as a welcome treat for afternoon tea. Enjoy…..and don’t worry if it sinks a little in the middle!

125g unsalted butter, softened, (or dairy free alternative for a lactose intolerant version)
200g caster sugar
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
3 eggs
200g ground almonds
50g rice flour
1tsp gluten-free baking powder
¼ tsp salt
200g fresh or frozen summer berries

200g icing sugar
1tsp almond extract
Handful toasted flaked almonds

Preheat oven to 170C (160C fan) or gas mark 3. Grease and base line a 23cm springform or loose-based cake tin.
Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. (Add a spoonful of almonds to the mix if it looks like splitting).
Sieve together the rice flour, baking powder and salt.
Fold this into the beaten mix together with the ground almonds.
Finally, fold in the summer fruit gently. (If they are frozen, the mix may ‘seize’ slightly, so use a large spoon or spatula to fold through)
Spoon the mix into the cake tin and bake for around 55/65 minutes - until brown on top and set in the middle.
Leave to cool for around 30 minutes in the tin before taking out and cooling completely on a rack.

For the topping - mix the icing sugar, almond extract and a little water to make a smooth, soft, consistency and spread over torte, allowing it to run down the sides. Sprinkle over the toasted almonds.