Great British Blog Off 2017

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WEEK 8 – THE BAKES THAT TIME FORGOT

So, we reached the final 5 contestants in the Great British Bake Off tent, and although I liked Liam, and he is a damned fine baker for a young fellow-me-lad, I do think this week was not his best, although again I can’t say it seemed (to me at least) that it was any too taxing for week eight, is it just me or does there seem like a lot of pastry and similar dough recipes this year (or is that just because my food processor is broken and the stupid delivery company – DPD – have lost my new one so I have to make mine by hand).  Yet again this week I could not decide on what to bake so I have done my usual 2.  I opted not to do the show stopper as it was just far too much cake for a family of 3 and I loathe to cook for the hens.  So, as I have seen the recipe for a Rum Nicky before, and liked the sound of it then, I was looking forward to trying it and the clangers too which I was going  with savoury mince meat with erm sweet mince meat.  However, I dropped a bit of a clanger (pardon the pun) when I prepped my pastry, as I just went ahead with ‘normal’ pastry without googling clangers.  Then I remembered they made it with suet on GBBO.  So, after checking out Mr Hollywoods’ recipe I realised that the Bedfordshire clanger is akin to the Lancashire rag pudding (which is steamed rather than baked) a huge favourite of mine so I made them instead so they are similar though not the same as they do not have a sweet end. And the batch of pastry I’d started was saved with the addition of sugar to make sweet crust for the Nicky.

ohh, and one final thing they are old recipes so they are in old weights too! Hey, most modern electronic scales in the UK have conversions.

 

No 1:  Savoury Mince Rag Pudding

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WHAT GOES IN IT -
8oz self-raising flour
4oz suet
approx 1/3 cup water 
½lb beef mince
1 small onion
1 large carrot
1 red pepper
½ inch black pudding
good pinch rosemary
salt and pepper
some pre-made gravy
egg for sealing (or water)

HOW IT GOES TOGETHER –

  1. Make the pastry.  Put the flour and suet in a bowl, stir, then add the water a little at a time as you may not need it all and bring together to form a firm dough. cover the bowl and leave in a cool place to rest.
  2. Meanwhile, make the filling.  Put the mince into a bowl.  Mince up the onion, then carrot, then pepper and finally the black pudding in a food processor or chopper and add it to the mince meat.  Season and add enough gravy to make it really wet and gloopy.
  3. Divide the pastry into four and shape into rectangles.  Roll out nice and thin, on a well floured board, to about 6×7 inches.  place approx 2 heaped tablespoons of the mince mix in the middle of the pastry and spread out to within ¾” of the top and sides and 1″ of the bottom.  coat the edges with egg and roll the pastry up like a Swiss roll then pinch down the edges to seal, so nothing leaks out. Repeat with the other 3.
  4. Wrap each one of the ‘sausages’ in a rag! Or the modern version of parchment backed foil. and crimp all the edges together to form a sealed parcel.
  5. Place them all in a steamer and steam for 1½ hours when the meat will be lovely and tender and the pastry will be thoroughly cooked.

This recipe is traditionally done with small pieces of beef skirt, with onion gravy; I adore rag pudding but have never thought to make it myself, odd for someone who both bakes a lot and misses this Lancashire delicacy since moving down to Derbyshire. So I will definitely make them again. Especially as suet pastry is one of the most simple and robust pastries of any.

No 2:  Tropical Rum Nicky

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THE INGREDIENTS:
10oz plain flour
2oz maize flour
4oz butter
2oz lard
2oz castor sugar
1 egg (beaten lightly)
14oz of your favourite dried fruit 
2oz stem ginger
4tbs dark rum
1½oz coconut or dark soft sugar
2oz unsalted butter
1 egg (beaten lightly) or milk
Sprinkle of coconut sugar (or granulated)

THE RECIPE:

  1. Make the pastry combine the 2 flours (or just use all plain if you prefer), chop the fat up really small and then rub it into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs.  mix in the sugar.  make a well in the middle and add the egg, gently bring it all together to make a firm, but neither dry nor wet pastry dough. Cover in the bowl and leave in a cool place for half hour to rest.
  2. Place the fruit in a bowl, finely chopping the ginger and lightly chopping any large or hard dried fruit (this recipe was stem ginger, semi dry and fresh figs, pineapple and cherries). Pour the rum over the fruit, cover and allow to steep.IMG_2165
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Add the sugar to the fruit and stir in.
  4. Cut the pastry into 2, (¹⁄3 and ²⁄3), keep the smaller covered and roll the bigger piece out to just larger than the size of your pie dish (8/9 inches 24 cm).  Line the dish with the pastry and gently form into the dish. Tumble in the fruit and dot all over with little knobs of the butter.
  5. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut into even, thin strips; 10 to 12 will be ample, roughly ½ to ¾ inch thick. Make your lattice weave on a piece of parchment or your rolling mat.  Lay the first 6 flat, then fold each alternative one all the way down,IMG_2167 lay the first of the remaining 6 over the 3 uprights, IMG_2168then bring the folded down strips up. Now, go to the other 3 of the original 6 and take them all the way down to the cross piece and add a second from the retained pieces. Repeat this until 5 or 6 of the retained pieces are incorporated. IMG_2169Sounds complicated, but as you see in the photos it’s not, and it gives a nice even finish.IMG_2170
  6. Now for the tricky bit.  you need to carefully but quickly flip the lattice over and onto the top of your pie (this is why I prefer the rolling mat as it is firmer than baking paper).  Gently ease each piece as straight as you can without damaging the actual pastry.  Fold the lattice back at the edges and egg or milk wash the edges of the pie fold the lattice down and gently press together.  IMG_2172
  7. Egg or milk wash the lattice and sprinkle with a little sugar.  Pop in the oven for approx 30 minutes.  Check at around 20/25 if the edges of the pie are catching cover with a little foil as the pie needs to be well baked to cook off the liquid and avoid a soggy bottom!
  8. Once baked, remove from the oven, leaving in the dish, and eat when warm, not hot, with a little of what you fancy.  Traditionally served with rum butter, but you could have it with yogurt, creme fresh, cream, custard or ice-cream.IMG_2176

So no real top tips this week again, with the exception that I would highly recommend a product if you bake a lot of pies and in particular quiches and open tarts, or similar pastry that is baked blind.  And the thing you need is a silicone pie ring (mine is from Lakeland but I’m sure you can get them from any good baking and cooking supplier) which sits hugging the outside edge of a pie and is size alterable.  As you can see from the photo of my Rum Nicky it is a weeny bit over cooked, without the pie ring it would have burnt on the edges.

Rum Nicky, oh yes, now there’s something I will be making again, as will I try the original recipe for rag pudding with beef skirt and onion gravy as it was rather delish.  If you want to see who else blogged along with the Great British Bake Off this week click on this link to our host Jenny’s site www.mummymishaps.co.uk.

 

 

 

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Great British Blog Off 2017

WEEK SEVEN  –  ITALIAN WEEK

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So, another first in the Bake Off tent, Italian week; “hurrah” for pizza, “oh my goodness” for the things with the layers and layers of super thin pastry and an “ohhhh, I’ve always wanted to have a go at them” for cannoli.  I make pizza a lot, preferring them to the frozen supermarket ones and those from “British” pizza shops; as I love thin and crispy and chewy at the same time.  Eventually (we are house building at present) I am going to have an outdoor kitchen which shall consist of a barbecue grill and a wood fire bread/pizza oven, I think it will be veritable pizza parties then.  So, of course I had to do the pizza, which I have to say I did think was a bit of an easy technical for week 7 (although that was probably to outweigh the complexity of the sfogliatelle) but I did do something I rarely do, and sort of stuck to the proper recipes; so Margarita pizza and cannoli it was.

Bake one:  Margarita Pizza

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INGREDIENTS. to make 2 family sized pizzas

300g bread flour
1tsp fast action dried yeast
1tsp salt
1tsp sugar
250ml water (room temperature)
2tbsp olive oil (plus extra for greasing)
3-4 tbs tomato puree
1 clove garlic
splash of red wine
splash of water
salt and pepper
1 large ball mozzarella
handful fresh basil leaves

METHOD

  1. Place the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and oil in a large bowl, making sure nothing is touching the yeast.  Mix in most of the water and bring it together with your hands to form a dough, if it feels dry, add the rest of the water.  You should have a slightly damp, sticky dough.  Knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and pliable (on a greased board).  Cover and set in a warm place for approx 1 hour.
  2. Once the dough has doubled in size, put the oven on at 220ºC.
  3. In a small bowl mix your tomato paste, garlic, wine and seasonings.  Add splashes of water a little at a time until you have a paste that is neither thick and solid nor watery, just perfectly in the middle.
  4. Cover your work surface with flour mixed with fine semolina. Cut the dough in half, form into neat rounds and roll out to the size of your pizza stone, pizza baking sheet or baking tray. Put the dough on the tray before proceeding with the toppings.IMG_2053
  5. Using a dessert spoon, dollop 1/2 the tomato sauce in the middle and spread it out in a spiral to the edges of each base. Rip or slice the cheese and arrange around the pizzas.
  6. Spray water into the oven to create steam and put the pizzas in, near the top, for approximately 15 minutes.  Remove once golden and just starting to ‘catch’ on top of the bubbles and edges.  Leave to sit for 1-2 minutes and then scatter the basil on like petals. Slice into 8 triangles and eat whilst nice and hot.IMG_2139

TOP TIPS – Ok, make sure you don’t have that tomato sauce too thin or it will make the base of your pizza raw like and soggy (no soggy bottoms here please!).  Be very gentle when rolling out your dough or you will knock out all its air, that’s way tossing and turning it is a good thing as it will help the rise; do it if you a. feel confident and don’t have too low a ceiling and b. don’t care too much if it is not truly round.  If you put the basil on the base too soon it will blacken up a wee bit, hence why leaving it to stand for a minute or 2 when it comes out of the oven. When prepping the dough balls, I like to turn and tuck the dough under itself a few times, as I think that this helps it ‘push’ itself  up from underneath when cooking.img_2131.jpg

Honestly I think Margarita pizzas are ok, but I prefer a bit of meat and proper cheese with mine so, I made just one of them and one fully, and I do mean fully, loaded pizza, nom nom nom.

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Bake Two:  Coconut Cannoli 

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Again I did not want to stray too far from traditional, my original plan being amaretto and almond cannoli, however, it seems that someone has drunk my almond liquor so upon investigation of the booze cupboard, next best alternative was Malibu and  hence coconut! It was only after I had done an internet search for recipes for the cannoli dough that I realised, there was one flaw in my plan, you need tubes to form them around!  Phone call to Mr Timothy with an idea for copper or ali tubing and he found me three 1″ stainless pipes that were clean and unused.  It did the job if not making the cannoli a little fat and chunky.

The ingredients are (for approx 20):

2 cups flour
1tbsp coconut sugar (or regular castor)
good pinch salt
good pinch of cinnamon
2 tbsp butter
2 eggs yolks (retain some of the white)
½ cup white wine
1 250g tub ricotta
1 250g tub mascarpone
1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp Malibu
¹⁄3 cup desiccated coconut
½ cup chocolate chips

The recipe is:

  • In a large bowl place the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon and stir them together with a fork.  Add the butter and rub well into the flour mix.

    Add the yolks and then the wine and bring together to form a firm dough, knead for about 1 minute.  Cover and place in the fridge for around 30 minutes.IMG_2144

  • Make the filling by creaming together the 2 cheeses, sift in the icing and whip it into the cheese, then add the liquor, coconut and chocolate chips and stir.  Cover and put in the fridge.IMG_2145
  • Heat a deep fat fryer to 170ºC, with fresh vegetable oil in.  Lightly oil your cannoli pipes (do this each time you use them) and get a bowl of ice water ready.
  • Roll out the dough as thin as you dare (it is quite elastic and forgiving) and cut out large circles with a biscuit cutter.  Cover these with a piece of cling film to

    avoid them drying out.  Wrap a dough circle around each pipe and stick the outside edge down with a little of the retained egg white.

  • Very carefully place each tube into the hot oil and fry for 1½-2 minutes until golden brown.  Remove and drain on a cooling rack with a tray underneath. Using 2 pairs of tongs, gently remove the cannoli tube from the pipe and place the pipes into the iced water.
  • Continue with the last step until all the tubes are fried.  Turn off the fryer!
  • Put the filling into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle (it must be around twice the size of the chocolate Chips or it will clog.  Fill the tube from the middle out on one end then turn and repeat, this will ensure that the pipes are full of the cream cheese.  Decorate with a little icing sugar.IMG_2150

TOP TIPS:  Don’t put too much liquid in the cream cheese as it will make it sloppy.  Fill and eat the tubes on the day you intend to eat them as they go soft real quick.  Don’t bother and go buy them from an Italian Deli! They are way too much faff for something that is honestly only ok.  I’d rather have pizza!

At least I was pleased to see plenty of the required bubbles in the cooked pastry and they are surprisingly ‘dry’ and crispy considering they are deep fried.

 

So that’s this weeks’ homage to the Great British Bake Off.  If you would like to see some of the other bakes or even join in with them, it’s never too late, follow this link to our host site Mummy  Mishaps.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great British Blog Off 2017

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WEEK 6  –  PASTRY

So I did not take place in the Great British Blog Off last week with Bake Off on account of being on me holidays (a long term yearning to go to Spinalonga off Crete finally realised).  But there was this earlier this week too for Mr Timothy’s birthday, it’s a unicow!

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So bit of a busy weekend then as, was per usual I could not decided on which bake to do, so I have done 2; pastry is my thing and I have been making it since I was about 8 years old, so I reckon I have perfected if by now!  Mr Timothy is happy too, as he is rather partial to pie. Good job I was short of time though or I would have made all 3.

BAKE ONE  –  INDIVIDUAL COW PIES

This challenge was 4 individual pies decorated differently within a theme, so as I was doing beef mince and onions (with some home grown cow) it had to be cow pie, so one is the cows head, the second has the ‘spots’ and horns.  Next we have the tails and then milk products (I totally intended to do udders on one and forgot!) Apologies for the youngsters reading this recipe, it was a long time ago that I was 8 so I learnt pastry in ounces.  I use a little maize (yellow corn flour) in my shortcrust pastry as it not only gives a nice golden colour, but also makes it much crumblier.

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INGREDIENTS
 12oz plain flour
 2oz maize flour
 3½oz lard
 3½oz butter
 pinch of salt
 1 egg
 1lb lean beef mince
 1 medium/large onion
 1 beefy stock cube plus a cup of water
 squeeze of tomato paste
 good pinch of pepper
 good pinch of oregano or rosemary

METHOD
1.  Using a food processor, add the flours and fat, cut into small cubes, and give it a quick blitz.  Add the salt and approx 1/3 cup water, blitz again to form the pastry dough.  Tip it out onto a floured surface and gently knead to a smooth dough that is neither sticky nor dry.IMG_2094
2.  Cover it and place in a cool place to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes.  IMG_2096

Meanwhile make the mince.  Gently fry the chopped onion until just translucent, add the mince, water, paste and seasonings, and cook for a further minute or 2.  The mince does not need to be fully cooked as it will cook further in the oven.  Just ensure that there is not too much or too little juice, it should just show on the pan when you move the meat to one side. Take off the heat and leave to cool.

 

3.  Preheat the oven to 200ºC.  Take half the pastry and line your pie dishes; fill well with the beef mince.  Use most of the other pastry to make the lids, stick these down with beaten egg and cover the pies with a tea towel to prevent drying out whilst you make the decoration.  IMG_2100
4.  Once you have finished making the adornments, glaze the pie with egg, stick on the trimmings and glaze them with egg.  Put the pies on baking tray and pop in the oven for roughly 40 minutes until golden and crisp.  Eat piping hot.

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BAKE TWO  –  PIG PIE WITH HOT WATER CRUST PASTRY

 

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INGREDIENTS
300g plain flour
300g white strong flour
200g white fat (e.g. lard, dripping etc)
25g butter
250ml water
good pinch of salt
1 large onion
500g low fat pork mince
1 inch black pudding
squeeze of tomato puree
2 cloves garlic
small bunch sage (finely chopped)
good pinch of salt and pepper
5-6 large mushrooms
1-2 tablespoons of dry semolina
1 pack sausages
150g chorizo
5 rashers air dried ham
5 slices smoked ham
1 egg - beaten

RECIPE
1. Make the pastry. In a pan, gently heat the water and fats (I used 100g lard, 50g dripping and 50g coconut oil for flavour and to reduce the animal cholesterol) and stir until it has all melted. The water will be hot, but should not be boiling.  Put the flour and salt into a large bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in the hot water.  Quickly stir together with a wooden spoon until well mixed.  As soon as you are able, on account of it being hot, get your hands in and bring it together to form a smooth dough. (I love the feel of hot water crust it’s like warm play dough).
2.  Take roughly ¼ of the dough, set aside and cover.  Cover a cake tin (approx 21cm) with cling film – upside down and on the outside! Roll your large piece of pastry out to a wee bit larger than the base of the tin; carefully place this over the cake tin and work the pastry down to around 3/4 of the way down.  Don’t worry if you get any small holes you can patch these with this very forgiving pastry at any stage.  Place this in the fridge for 30 minutes to set the fats.
3.  Fry the chopped onion; chop the mushrooms up to small pieces.  Mince the black pudding up and if needed, chop the chorizo.  In a large bowl put the mince, black pudding, garlic, tomato paste, herbs and seasoning and mix well.  Stir in the onions once cooled.  Put the oven on to preheat to 180ºC.IMG_2104
4.  Remove the pie case from the fridge and wrap it in baking paper tied with a piece of string then carefully take it off the cake tin.  Trim the top neatly and use the off cuts to patch any holes or thin bit in the pie case.
5.  Sprinkle the bottom of the case with semolina, add roughly 3/4 of the mushrooms in next (this will help soak up any excess liquid) and then cover with ½ the mince mix, smooth and press down.

 

Neatly arrange the sausages next and fill in the gaps with the remaining mushrooms.  Cover with the rest of the mince and again smooth and press down.  Scatter the chorizo over this then cover with a layer of one of the hams, followed by the other ham.  IMG_2120
6.  Take the retained pastry and roll out for the lid, seal the edges with beaten egg and pinch the top to the sides to seal.  Cover the top with foil and put in the oven for 40 mins. Turn the pie around for even colouring and bake for a further 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn heat down to 160ºC.

 


7.  Remove the baking parchment and foil and liberally coat the whole shell with egg wash and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes.  You will have to take the internal temperature of the pie to ensure it is fully cooked, it must exceed 74º.   If it does not, simply leave for longer in the oven.  Enjoy piping hot with veggies or beans.

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Ohh my goodness, this pie is gorgeous, though I dread to think what the calorie content of it would be!  Crispy outer shell, soft inner, juicy and full of texture; has to be one of the best pies I think I have ever made. and there’s plenty of it, with spuds and veggies it would easily feed 8 hungry people.  Hahahaha, just realised after we had eaten half of the pie, that I had completely forgotten to put the fruit topping on the top.  So here is a pic of the home-made cranberry jelly and the apple that were going to be on the top (I think my brain blocked it out on purpose as I am not a fan of sweet and savoury together!).IMG_2126

Not really got any of my usual ‘top tips’ this week, I think the bakes are self explanatory the only thing you could do to make things easier on yourself would be to do the pie in the ‘inside’ of the cake tin and bake it that way for the first hour.

So, if you want to check out the other bakers vying for star baker this week, click on this link to Jenny Paulins’ site, the lovely lady who hosts the Great British Blog Off for us.

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Great British Blog Off 2017

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WEEK 4  –  CARAMEL

Week four saw a brand new category added to the Great British Bake Off Tent this year, with caramel.  Something I personally don’t cook too often; hot sugar is not a thing for the permanently accident prone to be handling too often.  However, I thoroughly enjoyed doing the bake I did, my own take on millionaires shortbread; and I figured it would be an easy task too as my time is limited this week.  But, the caramel sauce I usually make is ‘runny’ and seemingly has one essential ingredient missing, it’s water, sugar, butter and a couple of drops of vanilla.  You would think that I would actually check some recipes out (never having made it before) for the thing I am going to bake before I went shopping, right? Nope not me, I like to live on the edge!! So, after a 30 minute mare, I decided that the only thing for it was a trip back to the supermarket (where I had spent the morning) – bearing in mind it’s at least a 50 minute round trip to  ‘pop’ to a large shop for me, but I could not bank on the small local market having a tin of sweetened condensed milk (which it transpires soft setting caramel needs).  But with my brain ticking and alternatives going through my head I thought to myself “surely theres got to be an alternative, maybe coconut milk?” So iPad in hand I did a search for set caramel sauce suitable for making millionaires shortbread, and low and behold there they were, lots and lots of recipes and blogs using coconut milk and cream, hurrah! So, here it is folks millionaires shortbread made without the condensed milk. 

Banoffee Shortbread

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Banoffee Caramel Shortbread

INGREDIENTS

4oz/125g plain flour

1oz/30g semolina

1oz/30g cornflour

4oz/125g proper butter (really cold)

2oz/60g sugar (caster is usual but for this one is used caster and coconut sugar)

2 tins of coconut milk (just the cream, do not shake before opening, discard the ‘water’)

1 cup coconut sugar (250g/8oz)

Banana flavouring

6oz/200g dark chocolate plus some white chic chips for decorating

RECIPE

  1. Put oven on at 175°C.  Use a butter wrapper to just grease a suitable tin for the tray bake. (Mine is 30 x 12 cm).
  2. Put the flours into a bowl.  Cut the butter up into small cubes, add to the flours and rub in until it resembles breadcrumbs.  (I cheat and do this in the food processor for 2 reasons, don’t like stuff up my fingernails and it pains the arthritis).
  3. Stir in the sugars and, working it gently, bring it together to just form a dough. Press  this crumbly dough into the tin evenly and then pop in the fridge, or pantry to chill for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Put the biscuit base into the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden around the edges.
  5. Put the biscuit, still in its tin, back in the pantry to cool totally.
  6. Carefully open the 2 tins of coconut milk, being careful not to disturb the water underneath, remove the cream from the tins and dollop into a heavy saucepan.  Add 1 cup of coconut (or granulated) sugar, mix well and set over a medium/high heat to boil; watch it constantly and stir with a wooden spoon most of the time. Once this come to the boil turn heat down to medium/low.  IMG_1965It needs to roll boil for about 20-25 minutes now. If it rolls up to almost boiling out of the pan, simply move off the heat for a few seconds until it drops. You will notice that it gets darker and darker, and eventually will just begin to thicken; by this time it should be conker brown.  Take the pan off the heat and add 1 tsp of banana flavouring and leave somewhere cool to go completely cold.IMG_1968
  7. Pour the set caramel onto the shortbread (still in the mould) give it a sharp bang to remove bubbles, and leave for 1-2 hours in the cool, to set off.  IMG_1984
  8. Melt the dark chocolate and tip it over the caramel, smooth out then with a tap hot palette knife, smooth the surface over.  Guess what now, yup leave it for 1-2 hours to set (at room temperature).  Decorate with the white chocolate.
  9. Phew, finally you get to eat and enjoy.

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    Banoffee Shortbread

TOP TIP TIME. –  Couple of things here, I highly recommend making this over 2 days, allow your caramel to cool totally, pour over the biscuit and then leave to fully set overnight (you can see where is put my finger on mine to see if it was set, in the photo, I was concerned that it would not set enough the night before) before adorning with chocolate. Do not, like I did, then scrape the chocolate flat with a proper cold palette knife, it set instantly,  took the shine off it and made it wavy! Fill a jug with hot tap water and sit the knife in it for a minute or 2, dry it, then scrape the top over.  I like to put my chocolate in the microwave to melt, put ¾ in a bowl and melt fully then add the remaining ¼ and whisk it in with a fork, I think it makes it glossier as it cools it quicker and the whipping seems to help too.  Again when cutting the  biscuits into fingers keep it in the tin and use a hot, sharp, smooth bladed knife.

Well, this was my first foray into making caramel shortbread, not something I would usually go for, too sickly sweet for my liking but I have to say this was freaking gorgeous.  The coconut sugar gave the shortbread a caramelly taste and left pretty little brown flecks in it too.  I actually went without lunch the day I made it, after having a piece for elevenses, just so I could have another slice in the afternoon! I was already planning on going with the banana flavour before I had the panic about the caramel, but using the coconut milk just gelled it all together and the Banoffee Shortbread was created.  Heaven!

Sadly I will be unable to join in with the blog and bake next week as I am off for a week in the sun, leaving poor Mr Timothy and son to look after the farm and fend for themselves.  I did contemplate cooking a pud this weekend and blogging anyway, but it is the Misters birthday the day I get back so will be baking his cake to freeze in readiness.  A cow theme me thinks!  So fingers crossed I will get my first proper farm blog ‘September’  posted instead.  But if you want to check out this weeks’ other blogs, and next weeks for that matter, pop on over to our host blog by Jenny Paulin to see them all.

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The Great British Blog Off 2017

Week Three  –  Bread

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So week 3 and it’s my dreaded nemesis the monster that is bread!  I do things exactly the same each time I make bread, and sometimes I have amazing, fluffy, yumminess and the next heavy, doughy blurgh!  But undaunted, I went for 2 bakes this week as they did keep it nicely simple on Great British Bake Off with a simple, white cottage loaf and fruited teacakes. Mind you, I was ‘talking’ at the TV when they did the teacakes as virtually everyone on there baked fruit buns, and not teacakes.  They were all rounded and to me a proper teacake should be flatter, as it is made to toast (not be eaten as is like Paul and Prue did) so flat ones fit under the grill and in the toaster far better than a round one. And then, low and behold even though I squished mine just before putting them in the oven, they popped up like mushrooms all rounded and fluffy! But first folk……….

SIMPLE COTTAGE LOAF

INGREDIENTS

500g strong plain flour

7g/2tsp dried fast action yeast

1tsp salt

1tsp sugar

3tbs olive oil (plus more for greasing)

300ml water

small amount of sesame or poppy seeds

METHOD

  1. Grease your work surface with extra oil ready for kneading on.
  2. Put the flour in a large bowl and put the yeast on one side, salt against another side and sugar against another, finally put the oil in a little hollow in the middle.  Don’t let the best touch anything until the water is added.IMG_1934
  3. Add the water in the centre and using one hand bring all the ingredients together to form a loose dough. Tip this onto your oiled board making sure to scrape out the bowl.  Knead the bread for around 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (Alternatively put all the ingredients into a mixer set with a dough hook and let it whirl for 5-6 minutes).
  4. Grease the bowl lightly and pop the dough ball back in.  Cover (oiled cling, damp tea towel, big plastic bag, plastic shower cap) and leave to double in size.
  5. Uncover, pluck it from its bowl and gently knead it out.  Cut 1/3 off and roll the dough into 2 round balls; gently flatten the larger and put the smaller ball on top.
  6. Press your thumb, index finger or handle of a wooded spoon into the centre of the upper ball right through to the board underneath (this will ensure they will stay together and form one loaf). Carefully place onto a floured or lined baking tray.
  7. Place inside a big plastic bag (full of air) at room temp and leave for approximately ½ hour.  Put the oven on at max (make sure the oven is ready when the bread has doubled in size, as if not, the dough could over-prove and literally pop like a balloon).  As soon as the oven is hot, spray with bottom with water and close the door.  Spay the bread with water and sprinkle on the seeds.  Put in the oven, turn down to 200°C and bake for approx. 35-40 mins until golden (will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom).

Allow to cool before slicing.

 

TOP TIPS – don’t rush the rising time, you need the dough to double and it won’t always happen in the magic hour, factors like the weather, air temperature, heating etc will alter how long this will take.   You don’t need to have a warming drawer but it will be quicker, roughly 45 minutes, on a warm dry day it will take around 60 minutes in a room, on a wet day, longer time is needed.  keeping it covered and away from draughts will also help with the rise.  Don’t panic if it takes a while, slow risen loaves usually taste better anyway. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, if you can stick your finger in and the hole does not fill up or, if you flatten the end of the dough a little, twist it fully round and let go and it uncurls, then it’s ready.  Don’t be tempted to add more flour if your dough is a wee bit wet and sticky at the start, a wetter dough will rise better. Finally I strongly recommend investing in some clear plastic shower caps (pound shop!!) and some large transparent bin bags (supermarket) if you do a lot of baking, they come in handy for quite a bit.

Fruited Teacakes

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You will need the following:

300ml milk

50g butter

500g bread flour

75g castor sugar

7g dry fast action yeast

1tsp salt

1tsp cinnamon

1 medium to large egg

150g mixed dried fruit (your favourite)

2-3 tbs marmalade

2-3 tbs honey

What you need to do:

  1. Gently heat the milk and butter (microwave or pan) until the butter just melts, leave to cool slightly.
  2. To a large bowl add the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and cinnamon making sure that nothing touches the yeast.  Put the egg in an indent in the centre.
  3. Using your fingers, break up the egg with one hand then add in the liquid with the other and stir everything together to from a wet, sticky dough.  Tip out onto an oiled work surface and knead well for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Your dough should be smooth, elastic and less sticky.  Now spread the dough out to a rough, thinnish rectangle and evenly spread the dried fruit across it.  Roll up in a sausage shape and knead for a minute or 2 until the fruit is well combined into the dough.  Grease the bowl and cover.  Set aside to double in size.IMG_1940
  5. Once the dough has grown,  tip back out onto the work surface and gently knead for a minute.  Divide into 12-13 even sized pieces and roll into balls.  Flatten each ball slightly and space them out on 2 baking sheets.  Put them inside large clear bags and set aside to double in size.
  6. Put the oven on at 200°C ready for when the teacakes have more or less doubled in size.  Once they are, put in the oven and bake for approx. 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven.
  7. Just heat the marmalade and honey (pan or microwave) and using a heatproof pastry brush glaze your teacakes. Carefully transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.  Split and toast, enjoy with lashing of butter.IMG_1957

TIP TIME. –  not really much left to say on the bake but, a note on the fruit.  For those who either know me, or follow my recipes you will know by now I loathe, despise, no dare I say hate currents, raisins and dried peel.  So in my teacakes there are dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries a little mango and finally just a smidge of pineapple, use what you like best.  If any of the fruit you use is really, really hard (like what my pineapple was) then chop it up small and add a tablespoon of orange juice.  I don’t like to pre-glaze my sweet buns as you run into the ‘caramelised’ Russian roulette game – is it getting too well done, but not cooked in the middle – stress.  So glazing afterwards means you just wait for the buns to get golden, plus it adds a lovely orangey note to the teacakes. The other thing to note is the rising time, remember, it differs from day to day. These bad boys took nearly 4 hours from start to finish so make sure you leave enough time in your day.

I was a wee bit disappointed, as I mentioned earlier with the fact that my teacakes rose a little too much (I know, madness!), however, both Mr T and the teenage Stepson commented on how nice the bread was – high praise indeed from roughty, tufty, farmery types who believe that a ‘complement’ is eating things without complaint normally!

So that’s it for week 3.  I do hope you give these recipes a try; and if you want to see what my fellow Great British Blog Offers have on offer (!) please go to our host site Mummy Mishaps for other blogs and the rules of our little fun competion.

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Great British Blog Off 2017

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WEEK TWO  –  BISCUITS

So, 2nd week in and it was biscuits (a word that thanks to a popular TV ad campaign featuring Vinny the Panda I can now only pronounce as bis-quits).  First challenge “good idea” I thought, sandwich biscuit, something I certainly had never made.  Then came the technical again not made this before – fortune cookies – WHY? But really why would you? I have never made them, nor am I ever likely to! And then the 3rd challenge, the showstopper.  WHAT? a boardgame in biscuit, not a bad idea, just a weeny bit random, and I take my hat off to Steven Carter-Bailey for his chess game, but for a ‘lil ole home baker it seemed a step too far.  So, for a rare occasion, I have only made one of the bakes this week, the sandwich biscuit. And I am quite proud to say that this is my own recipe formulated from reading about 10 others (including the goddesses that are Mary Berry and Marguerite Patten) and deciding on a good combo. And my apologies to the modernist amongst us, I am using old school imperial measurements again.

GINGER ORANGE CHEESECAKE SANDWICH BISCUITS

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INGREDIENTS  makes approx 24

3oz butter (proper is best)

3tbs syrup

6oz plain flour

1½oz golden caster sugar

2tsp ginger powder

1tsp cinnamon

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 ball preserved ginger – very finely chopped

1tbs granulated sugar

2oz soft butter

1½ cups icing sugar

1oz good quality cream cheese

few drops of orange essence

METHOD

  1. Put oven on to 220°c. Line (and grease if needed) 2 large baking sheets.
  2. Gently melt the butter and syrup together.IMG_1918IMG_1917
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl (give them a whisk to make sure they are properly mixed). Pour the butter mix in, add the chopped ginger root and combine to a paste with a wooden spoon or firm spatula.
  4. Take small, walnut sized lumps of the mix and roll into balls.  Chill for 10 minutes.IMG_1919
  5. Gently press down with a fork and sprinkle with granulated sugar (this will give a crunchy and cracked exterior).
  6. Put them on the baking trays and pop them in the oven, immediately turn the oven down to 170°.  Bake for 5-7 minutes until golden (be like a GBBO contestant and watch them).  To enhance the ‘cracked’ appearance of the biscuit, turn oven off and open the door a little and leave them in the oven for around 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on cooling racks.IMG_1921
  7. Whisk the butter to light and fluffy, sieve the icing sugar and fold into the butter. Slightly soften the cream cheese, add this and the orange essence to the buttercream and gently combine.  Chill for 30 mins.IMG_1922
  8. Take a teaspoon sized blob of the cheesecake mix and place onto the middle of the bottom of a biscuit then simply glue another one to it, squeeze gently so it just reaches the edges and you have ginger orange cheesecake sandwich biscuits!IMG_1930

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIPS  –  Not really got anything for you this week, except for sieving. If you are using a decent quality, new flour, then you really don’t have to sieve it (this was once necessary before modern production methods etc to remove husks, detritus and even weevils from the flour).  However, I recommend that icing sugar is always pre-sieved for making buttercream to avoid  lumps. The cheesecake filling would not have passed the Paul Hollywood softness approval rating – if you did want a firmer one then you could add a little gently melted coconut oil as this will then set at room temperature and make the filling firmer.

Ohhhhhhh my, but these were scrumptious if I do say so myself.  Crunchy on the outside and soft cookie texture in the middle.  A definite one to remake!

If you want to see some of the other bakers and bloggers or feel inspired to take part with the blog off for Great British Bake Off then head on over to our hostess’ site – Mummy Mishaps and check out the info and rules and link in.  Happy baking!

 

Great Bloggers Bake Off 2017

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WEEK ONE  –  Cakes

Well folks it’s that time of year again, and I am a bad, bad, blogger.  It began just after the end of last years’ Great British Bake Off when I realised that I would have to prep for Christmas early, as I was due to have my arthritic thumb operated on and it was going to be at least 3 months before it was good to use.  3 months later saw it not much improved, still painful, and now even more stiff and unwieldy.  Then the ‘accident’ happened (which for me is nothing unusual as I am the most accident prone person in the world ever – if I say “ow” nobody in the family even looks up, as it happens often, nay a lot). I fell ‘up’ a small flight of steps in my kitchen and ended up in the local A&E having my fractured wrist seen to!  But then I got complacent and lazy with not doing the blog and so my autumn resolution is more blogging, more recipes and most definitely starting the farm-life diary.

 

BAKE ONE  –   WET APPLE CAKE

INGREDIENTS

500g apples – after peeling and coring img_1906.jpg

splash of lemon juice

275g plain flour

325g caster sugar

2tsp cinnamon

1tsp bicarb of soda

½tsp salt

2 eggs

250ml veg oil

1 eating apple

1-2 tbs demererra sugar

RECIPE

  1. Put oven on 180° fan.  Well butter then liberally flour a 25cm cake tin (turn over and knock out the excess flour).
  2. Peel and core the apples (I like to use a combination of cooking and eating apples) and place in a bowl full of water with a splash of lemon juice which helps reduce brownness in the apples. chop them up into small pieces, placing back into the lemon water.IMG_1902
  3. Put all dry ingredients into a bowl and give a little whisk to combine.
  4. Break eggs into a large jug/bowl and give them a good whisk to foamy texture, add the oil and whisk again.
  5. Take the apples from the water and place into a clean tea towel to dry slightly.  Take the reserved apple and peel, core and cut into thin slices, place in the lemon water.
  6. Pour the eggy mixture into the flour and beat together with a wooden spoon or heavy spatula. This mix will go quite firm – almost like greasy play dough! Now tip in the apples and stir, and stir, and stir……. until the mixture slackens, and the apples are well combined and coated.
  7. Pour into the cake tin, smooth down.  Decorate the top with the apple slices and sprinkle the demererra sugar over the surface of the cake. Place in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, until firm to the touch.IMG_1905
  8. Remove from the oven, cool in tin for 10 minutes then carefully loosen the cake in the tin with a thin palette knife before removing from the tin.  This cake can be enjoyed warm or cold.

TOP TIP TIME  –  You can use overripe or slightly bruised fruit for this cake, and I like to mix it up with the apple pieces, small chuck, biggish pieces, slices and teeny, tiny ones to give varying texture to the apples within the cake.  I would not change the sugar on the top of the cake as the demererra sugar gives a lovely crispy crust, making this halfway between a pudding and a cake, serve warm with cream or custard!  

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This one is a family favourite, and a must at this time of year with all the trees groaning with fruit ready to drop.  It’s very tasty but not the prettiest looking, hence we calls it ‘Ugly Cake’.

 

BAKE TWO  –  AN ILLUSION CAKE 

THE GLOBE

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*please not that without pairs of hemisphere pans in 3 sizes, you will not be able to make this cake! I would also advise novice bakers to give this one a miss too.

INGREDIENTS

All the same for the  3 cakes (in different weights), with added additions such as food colouring (these will appear in the recipe body).  Break eggs into a pre-weighed jug and then weigh other ingredients the same.

Cake 1 –  3 eggs plus same weight in butter, sugar, self raising flour (plus 75g extra) 1 tsp baking powder, food colouring, vanilla essence.

Cake 2  – 4 egg mixture plus 40g extra flour

Cake 3 – 4 egg mixture

3oog dark chocolate

175g soft butter

4 cups sieved icing sugar

RECIPE

  1. Put oven on 175°. Well butter and flour your 6 cake tins.
  2. Weigh your eggs then weigh the remainder of the ingredients to match (e.g if your eggs weigh 200g then you will require 200g sugar etc plus 75g extra flour to make this cake firm).
  3. Make your cake by the creaming method or all in one, whichever you prefer, then colour it yellow and add a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Pour into the smallest cake pans and bake for approximately 30 minutes until the cake is just cooked and firm to the touch.
  4. Remove from the oven, take out of the tins and allow to cool fully.
  5. Make the second cake batter and colour this one orange and flavour with vanilla.  Pour this batter evenly into the 2 medium hemispheres (so they are approx ½ full) then press the small domes into the middle, taking care to get them as close to central as you can, ensuring that the batter comes up to 1″ from the top of the cakes. You can do this with a piping bag to ensure even distribution of the batter around the sides.IMG_1168
  6. Bake for approx 25 minutes until the 2nd cake mix is baked. Remove from the tins and again allow to cool fully.
  7. Repeat this process with the 3rd cake mix and the cooked cake halves in the largest pans.  I split my batter into 2 and coloured one brown and the other red, again floured with vanilla.  Both mixes were placed into piping bags and the brown was piped around first then the red layered over the top (making the mix on the bottom of the pan slightly thicker).  Bake again for around 25 minutes until fully cooked.IMG_1169
  8. Once the 2 large cake halves are fully cooled, carefully trim the flat side smooth to get rid of the ‘dry’ cake thats been baked 2 or 3 times, and gives it a flat base.
  9. Make your buttercream and flavour it (I used lemon) and divide into 3.  Colour one yellow, one pale blue and one green.  Apply a liberal spreading of the yellow to one cake and neatly ‘glue’ the 2 together.
  10. Place onto a dish or bowl to support, inside a larger ‘drainage’ dish. Melt the chocolate either in a bain Marie or microwave and pour this over the sphere, using a palette knife spread all over the ball, it does not need to be smooth.  Keep back a small amount to remelt later. Allow to fully dry then rotate the cake slightly and fill in the space without chocolate (from standing on the support dish).  Allow to set fully.
  11. My next step was to find a ‘flat’ globe picture on the internet and print it off.  With this as a guide I used a fondant icing tool like a pencil to sketch this onto the cake.  I filled in the ocean parts and then the green in the landmass shapes. Then I sprinkled  white glitter onto the top to represent the North Pole. Hey presto a globe!

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TIP TIME  –  have some fairy cake or muffin cups handy so that if you do have too much cake mix left over you can bake some little cakes too.

So why specifically the colours I used/chose? They represent the actual layers of the earth. Yellow for the inner core, orange as the outer core then the red for the mantle,  the brown represents the deep crust and the crispy chocolate on the outside was the ‘crust’. I did add one other final flourish in the very centre of the cake I scooped out a small hollow (before glueing them together and mixed edible metallic pieces into the buttercream as the ‘supposed’ molten metal core. So, phew, an epic journey into cake that one (would not have had time to make it in the GBBO tent), but it was amazing to look at (the person it was for did not want to cut it, so I had to do it for them!) and not only that, but very tasty too.

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Now, it could be said that I have cheated a little with this bake as it is an historic one, baked a wee while ago,  however, that is for 2 reason one being that it has been a very busy week with my community players dramatic performance of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and also because I baked them a themed cake for the after-show party which could almost be an illusion cake in itself.  It is exactly how it looks, a sofa suck at the top of a flight of stairs, a pivotal component of the play.

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So, that it for cake week, I should just about manage to join in with the linky to Mummy Mishaps.  If you too are a baker, then please do join in with the fun, rules and regs and the link can be found at our hostess’ blog site.  Thanks for reading and I do hope you try the recipes too.  All feedback welcome.

 

 

Great Bloggers Bake Off 2016

WEEK 10  –  THE FINAL BAKE

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A picnic fit for a Queen

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Minty lamb sausage rolls – quiche Lorraine – cheesy chorizo scones –                                                                       white chocolate and raspberry tarts and the finale red velvet red velvet crown cake!

So, not being one to shy away from multiple bakes, I decided to to go for the final showstopper this week, a picnic fit for a Queen; which is rather apt as in just a few short weeks I will be playing a Queen in my local pantomime, Rapunzel.  A lot of baking to do in one day, at least I did not have to do anything extra for dinner, it was quiche and sausage rolls with tart for pud! And I am very pleased to say that I made it in the time restraints, almost, all in all, I took  6½, it really was a case of one in, one out, of the oven. Simple recipes but a must for working out the chronology of things, what order to do steps in taking into account cooking times & temps and cooling periods etc.  

I tried to stick to the brief in all the other aspects of the bake, the only little cheat I did was to do a family sized quiche rather than individual ones.

Just incase you wanted to know, it kinda went like this  –  flakey made, cakes made and in oven, pastry and sweet pastry made whilst they were baking (pop in freezer for 5 mins rest).  Blind bake quiche case and tart cases, make scones whilst they are baking, then bake the scones.  Make sausage filling, fill rolls and pop them in freezer for 5 minutes.  Make coulis simultaneously fry onions and bacon and leave to cool.  Cook sausage rolls in top of oven, fill quiche and bake.  At this point I was glad of owning 3 cooking timers! Make butter cream.  Fill and stack cakes, shape and cover in crumb coat of buttercream.  Put in fridge for 30 minutes (time for a sit down and a cuppa).  At the point (5 hours in) of everything being ‘cooked’ I decided that the final hour was for clearing and washing up and continued the following day.  It took me around 1½ hours then to finish decorating the cake. 

Minty Lamb Sausage Rolls

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INGREDIENTS

FOR 500G FLAKY PASTRY

 150g plain flour

150g strong white bread flour

2 large eggs

100ml cold water

250g butter (if unsalted add 1 teaspoon salt into flour)

FOR THE LAMB FILLING

500g lean lamb  –  finely minced

2.5cm black pudding – finely minced

1-2 tbs tomato purée

1 lamb stock cube

1 tbs dried or fresh mint

1 tbs garlic puree

good pinch pepper

1 medium sized onion

1 egg (for glazing)

  • Make your flaky pastry (as per instructions in week 9 of Great British Blog Off).  Or alternatively you can buy a good quality butter one. Keep it in the fridge until meat ‘paste’ is ready.  Preheat the oven to 190ºC/180 fan.
  • Take a large bowl and put all the ingredients (except onion) in.  Blitz the onion to aimg_1335 pulp, or, fine dice and sauté it for a few minutes until translucent, but leave to go cold.  Add this to the bowl.  Bring it all together so it is well
    incorporated.  You can use a utensil for this but I think you get a smoother consistency if you squidge it together but wash your hands well if you do!
  • Roll the pastry into a large rectangle the thickness of a £1 coin, cut in half lengthways (or into 3 strips if you want ‘cocktail’ rolls).  Form the meat into sausage shapes and place the whole way along the pastry, covering the middle third.  Lightly brush one edge with egg and roll it up from the opposite edge, using the eggy edge to seal it.  Ensure that the ‘seam’ is on the bottom of the roll. Alternatively try a lattice roll by slicing 1cm slashes diagonally down the pastry, egg both edges and wrap alternate sides over tightly.
  • Cut the roll into even pieces with a sharp knife (the length is up to you, whether you want a bite sized one for a buffet, a medium sized one for a picnic or a large one for dinner). Glaze with the beaten egg.
  • Bake for 30 minutes until golden, risen and crispy.  Leave to cool slightly before eating.

TIPS  –  You can ‘cheat’ with the filling and simply use your favourite sausages, just remove the meat from the casings.  If you are making the lamb ones I recommend that  you use a baking tray with a ‘lip’ and once you remove them from the oven you put them onto a  wire cooling rack with the tray underneath as they will ooze a fair amount of fat. Plus, I would ask your butcher/meat provider for lean lamb mince. Final note, if, like me, you need to make flakey in a rush, then instead of an hour in fridge to harden butter up, then roughly 7 minutes in freezer will do (GBBO stylee haha).

Quiche Lorraine

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FOR THE SHORTCRUST PASTRY: 250g/8oz plain flour

120g/4oz fat (I prefer ½ butter ½ lard)

approx 5 tbs water

FOR THE QUICHE:  6 rashers bacon

1 medium onion (small diced)

200g/7oz grated cheddar cheese

6 eggs

150ml full fat milk (or 100ml single cream)

pinch of pepper

sprinkle of oregano

RECIPE:

  1. Make the pastry either by hand or in food processor.  Rub the fat into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs, add the water and bring together to form a dough.  Tip onto a slightly floured surface and knead gently for a minute.  Pop into a bag and leave in the fridge to rest, and the fats to refirm (10 minutes by machine, 30 minutes hand made). Preheat the oven to 200C
  2. Roll out the pastry to fit your quiche tin, carefully line the tin (without any holes or tears) with the pastry so you have a little overhang to allow for shrinkage.  Line with baking parchment or foil, fill with baking beans and bake for approximately 15 minutes until the pastry is ‘just’ cooked.  Remove and reduce oven temp to 170C.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the bacon into little pieces and fry until it is just cooked, remove from the pan, and gently fry the onions.  Tip the bacon and onions into the pastry case along with the grated cheese (retain a couple of pinches of the cheese).  Sprinkle the oregano on.img_1341
  4. In a jug, beat together the eggs, milk and pepper.  Pour this carefully into the pastry case and place in the oven for 20 minutes.  Pull the shelf out slightly and sprinkle the 2 pinches of cheese over and bake for a further 20 or so minutes.
  5. Once cooked the tart should feel firmish to the touch with just a gently wobble, if it is not quite set in the middle reduce the heat by 15º and cook for an extra 10-15 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool, eat warm (not hot)  or cold for a picnic.

TIPS:  If you have more than one pastry in the fridge it’s a good idea to mark them so thatimg_1334 you know which is which – for example my flakey was oblong, but my quiche pastry and sweet pastry looked the same so I marked a P in the plain one!  Pastry that is sealed in a bag will be ok in a fridge for 2-3 days and also freezes well too. I like to keep a small ball of pastry over for 2 reasons, you can use it to push the pastry neatly into the flutes of the tin and if you get any cracks in the baked case then you can use tiny pieces to plug the gaps. When you make a quiche or tart, it is always a good idea to leave an ‘overhang’ on the pastry just incase it shrinks when it is in the oven.  To get a good finish on the edge after it’s cooked, roll over it lightly with a rolling pin and brush excess off with a pastry brush.  Don’t add salt to a quiche as you will have plenty in the cheese and bacon and, salt will rapidly degrade eggs, causing them to go ‘liquid’. If you do not have any ceramic baking beans, used dry pulses like chickpeas, you will need a lot and won’t be able to use them to eat afterward, or, use teaspoons and/or forks to weight down the pastry so that the base does not lift up.

 

 

Cheesey Chorizo Scones

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What you will need –

225g strong bread flour

1 tbsp baking powder

50g butter (melted and cooled slightly)

1 egg (beaten)

125ml finger warm milk

175g grated strong mature cheese (this recipe used cage aged goats cheese)

100g cooked chorizo (very small dice)

What you will need to do – 

  • Preheat the oven  to 200C/gas 6
  • Place the flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the butter, egg (leave a tiny amount of egg behind for glazing) and milk and mix well with your hand to combine.  Add the cheese (retaining a couple of pinches) and chorizo and bring it all together to a slightly sticky ball of dough.
  • Tip this onto a well floured board and knead for a couple of minutes.  Now, work the dough a little, to encourage air into it.  gently spread the dough out, fold in half and draw it into a ball form.  the scootch it under with flat palms whilst turning at the same time.
  • Roll out to around 2.5 cm depth and cut out with a medium sized circular cutter (you will get between 9 and 13 depending on how deep they are and the size of your cutter).  Use a pastry brush to brush the retained eggs over the tops of the sconces.
  • Place in the oven and cook for 12 minutes.  remove and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the tops.  Place back in the oven and cook for a further 12 minutes until golden and the cheese has melted.
  • Split and enjoy with best butter.

TIP  –  When making doughs  it’s a good idea to bring it together using just one hand to begin with and that way you have a clean hand for adding in extra ingredients and incase you need to reflour your work surface. When glazing scones only  do the top as, if egg goes over the sides it will impede the rise.

I was so disappointed with myself as when I took my tray of scones out of the oven to put the cheese on, I dropped it (and it landed upside down) onto the oven door and most of them were squashed down a bit so they don’t look the best in the photos, and until then they were spot on! At least they did not land on the floor and they did taste good anyway.

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White Chocolate Tart with Raspberry and Basil Coulis

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For the sweet shortcrust pastry:

250g/8oz plain flour

120g/4oz butter

30g/1oz caster sugar

1 small egg

2 tbs water

For the filling:

100g raspberries

50g sieved icing sugar

few drops of basil essence (or 1tsp fresh basil)

200ml double cream

275g/9oz white chocolate

25g good quality unsalted butter

½ pod vanilla seeds

For the recipe:

  1. Make the pastry, either by hand or food processor.  Rub the fat into the flour, mix in the sugar, add the egg and the water and bring together into a dough.  Put into a bag and leave in a cold place to rest (10 minutes machine/30 mins by hand).img_1333
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  3. Roll out your pastry to the thickness of a £1 (or slightly thinner if you dare, as the thinner it is the crispier it will be!) and cut in circles (using a cutter) to fit into your tart tins. Gently press into your tins.
  4. Line with baking parchment or foil (scrunch up then smooth out first so it fits better into the small tins) then fill with baking beans. Bake blind for approx 15 mins.
  5. Make the coulis.  Pass the raspberries through a sieve, into a saucepan, to remove the seeds (takes a few minutes this).  Beat in the sugar and basil, gently heat to a simmer for approx 5 minutes, the pulp will thicken slightly.  Leave to cool.
  6. Remove pastry shells from oven, take out the beans, put back in the oven for another 5 minutes until the pastry is golden and crispy.  Remove from oven and fully cool on a   wire rack.
  7. Warm the cream and vanilla in a saucepan, remove from heat at first sign of steam/heat ripples. Break up the chocolate into small pieces, add the butter to the cream and beat well then add in the chocolate and beat in well.  It will take a couple of minutes and look gross before suddenly going glossy and smooth.img_1343
  8. Pour the chocolate ganache into the pastry shells.  Take a teaspoon of the coulis and ‘cut’ into the chocolate so that the raspberry goes underneath.  Depending on the size of your tarts (I made 6 large, shallow ones and 6 small, deep ones) do this 1 – 3 times.  Then take a skewer and drag through the coulis to create a ‘swirl’ through the chocolate.  Leave the completed tarts in a cold place to fully set.

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TIPS  –  you can use any raspberries you like for making the coulis, fresh, frozen or tinned (preferably in natural juice); but if using tinned or frozen discard almost all the juice or your coulis will be more of a pouring sauce.

Okay, if I do say so myself these tarts were amazing.  Mr Timothy gave me a ‘double clasp handshake’ for them (he just had one for breakfast!); they are just set, but still gooey and the sharpness of the fruit really offsets the sweetness of the chocolate. The basil goes so well with raspberries (it’s up there with black pepper with strawberries and chilli & watermelon) it gives them a subtle aniseed like flavour.

Chocolate  Cake – fit for a Queen

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Red Velvet, Red Velvet Crown Cake

CAKE 7 eggs (crack into a jug and weigh)

same amount (in weight) as the eggs of

baking butter

caster sugar

self raising flour

75g cocoa powder

2tsp baking powder

75g ground almonds

3 tbsp natural beetroot powder (or 1tbsp red food colour)

CREAM CHEESE ICING 200g pale soft  butter

700g sieved icing sugar

200g ricotta cheese

2 tbsp chocolate vermicelli

DECORATION 700g red fondant icing paste

small pack  white or pale yellow fondant

gold food colour

gold glitter

edible glue

large pack of jelly sweets

pearl dragees

non edible diamanté string

RECIPE

  • Preheat the oven 175C. Make the cake either by creaming method or all in one method.  But it’s better to make in a free standing mixer as it is a lot of batter.  If using all in method add the ground almonds on their own at the end.
  • Split the cake mix evenly between 3 baking tins – 2 x (ensure that the smaller cake will be the same height as the other 2) bake for 25-35 minutes until cooked through. Insert a skewer into the middle and it should come out clean.  If not, turn oven down 20º and leave cake in for a further 15 minutes.
  • Leave the cakes to cool in tins for 10 minutes, and they will begin to come away from the tin.  Go around the tin with a thin palette knife to ensure it is fully clear before removing. Leave to go fully cold on cooling racks.
  • Make the buttercream.  Put the butter in a free standing mixer, and soften it up.  Add ⅓ of the icing sugar, stir it in,  repeat with the next 3rd then with the remainder.  Give it a good mix with the mixer.  Add the cream cheese and give it a good mix.  The more you can whip it, the whiter and lighter it will become. Cover and leave somewhere cool.
  • Make sure the cakes are level/flat tops. Sandwich together the cakes with plenty of the buttercream cheese then sandwich the little one in the middle of the other 2 with plenty of the cream cheese.  Use 3 straws, dowels or stales to hold the cake together.  Then with a sharp serrated knife round off the edges of the top cake to from the rounded top of the crown. And cut a small indent into the centre of the cake (for the ball to sit in).
  • Completely cover the cake with a thin coat of the butter cream taking care to makeimg_1356 sure it is smooth all over. This is known as the crumb coat and ensures an even finish on the completed crown.  Make sure that you leave enough buttercream for the ‘ermine’ collar, and for this you simply add chocolate vermicelli to the cream cheese, cover and put in the fridge
  • Put the cake in the fridge for 20-30 minutes (or freezer for 10) to firm up the buttercream layer.  Squeeze the red fondant to soften it then roll it out to the required size for your cake (mine was 34cm from bottom layer up and over – I forgot to take photos as I was rushing a little to get it done in an hour so here’s one I drew later haha). If your dowel rods are too long cut them down before covering with the fondant.img_1367
  • Place the fondant over a rolling pin and place over the cake so that it just comes down over the butter cream on the bottom cake layer (where the x‘s are).  Iron out the cake using a cake smoother. Trim off any excess.
  • Roll out the yellow fondant (or white coloured with gold).  Cut into 2cm wide strips and using edible glue stick them from the lip of the indent to the bottom of the red paste.  Then put a strip all the way around the bottom cake (about where the buttercream is).  Lightly cover the gold strips with edible glue and very carefully paint edible gold glitter all over it.  Glue on your jelly sweets to resemble jewels.  Roll up a ball of the yellow fondant and cover in the gold glitter and pop this into the indent on the top.  Make the ‘square’ embellishment for the top (I used gold tape as the fondant would have been too soft to stand up on its own).
  • The final finishes I did were white pearl dragees up 2 of the strips and some diamanté strips up the other 2 again using the edible glue.  Ensure if you are using non-edible embellishments on your cake that the recipients are aware of this.
  • And lastly take the vermicelli buttercream, in a piping bag, cut of the end fairly wide, and simply pipe all the way around the bottom to represent the ermine (you don’t even have to be neat is it’s a representation of fur). Then just to add a teeny bit of extra detail I took the end of my paint brush and did a few ‘natural’ creases into the red velvet and just dusted into them with petal dust to give it a more velvety effect.

TIPS  –  when working with fondant I recommend dusting with a 50:50 mix of cornflour and icing sugar your work surface for large sheets and a tiny spray of vegetable oil for smaller pieces to prevent sticking.  Use acrylic rolling pins and cutters too (a pizza cutter will also give you a good sharp edge on the fondant).  

Not really got many tips to add to the bottom of this, as I have mainly incorporated these throughout the recipe.  I hope it gives you enough detail, without teaching any of you more experienced bakers to ‘suck eggs’. I would like to mention that I saw a picture of a similar cake by Fiona Cairns, which gave me the basis for this one. I was really chuffed that I managed to get all that decorating done in 1½ hours, even with the horrible damp British weather against me (hence the lovely sheen on the red velvet.  When I told Mr Timothy he had a big cake to eat, he nearly cried, he has been forced to eat so much cake this last 10 weeks that I have had to promise no more for a few weeks!  Handily my drama chums were really pleased when I turned up at set painting with a massive cake, especially so as it came from “Queenie” – I will be playing the Queen in this years’ panto Rapunzel.

So there you have it the end of Great Bloggers Bake Off for 2016, and ‘sob‘ the end of the Great British Bake Off as we know it from the BBC and with the Queen of baking herself, Mary Berry.  I have heard a horrible rumour that there will be no show at all next year so it is going to be 2018 before we have another official one – lets hope that it all goes to plan then! Thank you so much for following us (if you did!) and if you would like to see the other ladies’ cakes and bakes then click on this link which will take you to our host Jenny Paulins’ site Mummy Mishaps .

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I would like to express my thanks to Jenny Paulin for all her work organising us all, putting up with all our mithering and questions and for working with Tesco to get us some great prizes and vouchers for our ingredients for the blogs (and of course a big whoop for Tesco!).  And finally thank you to all the other peeps that have joined in with the Great Bloggers Bake Off over the 10 weeks, I will miss you xx

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Great Bloggers Bake Off 2016

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Week 9  –  PATISSERIE WEEK

So. this week I could not decide which of the three bakes to do, so I did all 3! One, the palmier biscuits, is one I bake every year at Christmas time, we tend to have them for elevenses with a nice glass of fizz as we don’t have ‘dinner’ until around 3ish, but I had never made a sweet one before, so rebel that I am (I think I just hate being told what to do) I made a savoury one and a sweet one too, but true to my like of ‘unusual’ flavours I put my own twist on the sweet ones and made them blackcurrant and liquorice! Bake number 2, the technical, a cake I had never made, was a Savarin, a yeast raised cake with fruit,  cream and alcohol – what’s not to love there.  Then phew the tiny cakes that are a huge effort the fondant fancy – again I had never made these before and now I have made them, I doubt I will ever make them again, such a lot of effort for mediocre results!

Bake number one  –  2 flavours of palmier biscuit 

 SMOKED BAVARIAN BEEF AND CHEESE ELEPHANT EARS    

 &     BLACKCURRANT AND LIQUORICE  SWIRLS

Ingredients
for the pastry: 150g chilled strong white bread flour
150g chilled plain flour
2 large eggs
100ml cold water
250g chilled butter
for the 1st filling: 200g hard full flavoured cheese (grated)
6-8 rashers of good quality smoked beef or ham (parma style)
1 egg (beaten) or a splash of milk
for the second filling:  1 tspn liquorice powder
small dot of purple food
½ tspn blackcurrant flavour
1 tbspn brown sugar (I used natural coconut sugar)
1 tbspn granulated sugar
1 tbspn demerara sugar

Recipe

1. Put the flours, salt, eggs and water into a large bowl and gently bring together to form a  dough, with your fingers. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for around 5 minutes until smooth and a little dry. Shape  into a ball and put it into a plastic bag (lightly floured or greased with an oil spray) place the fridge to chill for at least an hour.

2. Flatten the block of butter into a rectangle, approx.  30 x 19cm, by battering it down with a rolling pin (you might find this easier to do  if you put the butter between 2 sheets of cling film). Return to the fridge for an hour to harden.

3. Roll out your dough to a rectangle, (about 45 x 20cm), put the butter on the dough so it covers the bottom two-thirds. Make sure that it is positioned neatly and covers almost to the edges.  img_1302

4. Lift the exposed dough at the top and fold it down so it covers half of the butter, then fold the butter laden bottom half of the dough up over the top (single fold).  Gently flatten the edges together to seal. Put it back in a plastic bag and chill for 1 hour.

5. Put the dough on a floured board with a short end towards you. Roll out to a rectangle as before, keeping the edges as even as possible. Fold the top quarter down and the bottom quarter up so they meet neatly in the centre. Then fold the dough in half along the centre line (a book fold). Chill in the bag for a further 1 hour.

6. Repeat the single turn twice more, chilling for an hour in-between again. Then leave the pastry in the fridge overnight. Your flakey pastry is now ready to use.  please note that if you are adding an extra ingredient (for example the liquorice powder)  as I did then you will need to add it in one of these final 2 single folds. Simply sprinkle the powder to lightly cover the pastry after rolling out but before folding over.

7. Roll out the plain pastry to a neat rectangle around the thickness of a £1/€1 coin.  Fold the pastry over and flatten back out again, to give a well marked centre line. Sprinkle the cheese liberally over the dough right up to the edges.  Then cover with your meat, trying not to leave any big gaps. Then, simply roll up the two long ends into the middle, gently pulling back slightly on each turn to keep it nice and tight.  Put in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.

8. Roll out the liquorice dough to the same thickness.  In a small pot mix the colour, the flavouring and a teaspoon of water and using a small brush, cover the pastry lightly all over with the paste.  Sprinkle on the brown sugar and the granulated sugar and simply roll the long end up nice and tightly to form a pin wheel. Chill for 20 minutes.img_1310

9.  Preheat the oven to 190/180°C fan.  Remove the pastry logs from the fridge, glaze lightly with beaten egg or milk and cut into approx 1cm thick slices, place on a lined baking sheet and bake for approx 15-20 minutes until golden and fluffy.

TIP –  use a straight edged, very sharp knife to cut the slices with and avoid pressing down on the pastry itself.  If making 2 different flavours I recommend using 2 sets of utensils (rolling pin, knife etc) to avoid contamination of one with the other.  Liquorice powder can  be obtained from most health food shops or baking suppliers.

I was quite disappointed with my blackcurrant and liquorice whirls as they looked amazing before going in the oven but unravelled a lot whilst baking, but my they tasted amazing and I will most certainly be making them again.  I made some nice thin ones too, which I have popped in the freezer in readiness for in about 3 weeks I am making a firework cake and these will look great as ‘catherine’ wheels.  The cheese I used for my elephants’ ears is a rather special one, it contains our own co-operatives organic milk and is not available to buy in the UK, but made entirely for the USA market, so we were pleased to be sent some as a thank you from our milk board.   I used  mature cheddar with caramelised onions.img_1306

And I’m just going to leave this her, whoop, whoop I got awarded star baker ⭐️ this week for my parmiers.

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Bake number 2  –  the technical challenge

SAVARIN with APPLE AND BLACKBERRY COMPOTE 

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I used Paul Hollywoods’ recipe for the actual cake and obviously put my own twist on it with the inclusion of apple and blackberry (well, why would you pay for imported fruit when you have loads of lovely, free and organic autumnal fruit right outside the back door?!?!?).  Still, did give me an excuse for a shopping trip though, as I did not own a large enough savarin/bundt tin; I do now!

Ingredients
for the savarin: 350g/12oz plain flour
50g/1¾oz caster sugar
10g/¼oz instant yeast
3 tbsp milk
6 eggs
180g/6oz butter, at room temperature
1 large orange and/or lemon, finely grated zest only
for the syrup: 200g/7oz caster sugar
1 large lemon, juice only
100ml/3½fl oz flavoured liqueur or rum
for the chocolate disc: 50g/1¾ oz good quality plain chocolate
30g/¾oz white chocolate
for the decoration: 4 medium sized cooking apples
large handful of blackberries
1 pot (300 ml/ 10fl oz) double or whipping cream

Method
1.  In a food processor, set with a standard beater, combine the flour, sugar and yeast. Place the milk and eggs together in a large jug, lightly beat and then pour into the flour mixture and beat  on medium for about 3 minutes to make a thick, sticky batter.img_1303
2.  Chop the soft butter into small pieces and gradually add to the batter, on  low speed, beating until the mixture is smooth, elastic and shiny. Finally fold in the orange and/or lemon zest. Cover the bowl with cling film (or a clean shower cap) and leave to rise for around 1 hour.
3.   In the meantime, make the syrup. Place the sugar, lemon juice, and 1o0ml water into a pan and bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, stir in the rum or liqueur and leave to cool.
4. Now make the chocolate disc, temper the plain chocolate by melting approx three-quarters of the chocolate over a pan of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Stir until the chocolate reaches a melting temperature of 50C. Remove the bowl from the heat, add the remaining chocolate and stir until it’s cooled to 31C.
5.  Spoon into a piping bag 5cm/2in (ish) oval disc onto a sheet of baking paper and leave to set. Melt the white chocolate and put into another piping bag and pipe the word ‘Savarin’ onto the plain chocolate disc.
6.  Grease a 23cm/9in bundt tin or savarin mould with butter. When the batter has risen, spoon it into the tin and try to smooth down evenly. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until it reaches three-quarters of the way up the tin.img_1311
7.  Make the compote.  Peel, core and chop the apples into small pieces put into a saucepan with the sugar and boil down to a pulp.  Turn off the heat and stir though the blackberries, retaining some nice plump ones for decoration.  Leave to cool.                                                      8.  Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. remove the cling film and bake for 20–30 minutes  until the savarin is risen and golden-brown. Remove from oven and place the tin on a wire rack to cool for 5–10 minutes.
9.  When just cooled enough to handle, carefully remove the savarin from the tin and pour half of the syrup into the tin. Gently place the savarin back into the tin on top of the syrup; pour ½ of the remaining syrup slowly onto the top of the savarin and leave to fully cool.  Put the remaining syrup onto a bowl or plate with sides and tip the cake out onto this so that this final syrup soaks into the bottom of the savarin for around 10 mins.  Carefully transfer to a serving plate.
10.  Whip the cream, until  peaks form when the whisk is removed (you can add a little icing sugar and/or vanilla if you wish). Spoon one-third of the cream into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Set both creams aside in the fridge until ready to serve.
11.  Fill the cavity of the savarin with ½ of the cream in the bowl, then ½ of the compote, then repeat with the remaining cream and fruit puree.  Decorate around the upper edges with cream stars, and do a small row of cream stars at the base of the cake (for the chocolate oval).  Decorate with some nice apple slices and the blackberries.  You could also use up any remaining chocolate over the top (just gently remelt in the microwave if you have microwaveable bags).

This cake was amazing, definitely  will be making it again, tasty, light and at the same time rich and gooey with the cream and fruit dressing.  

Bake number 3  –  Fondant Fancies

RASPBERRY AND ALMOND   &   PEAR FONDANTS

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I love fondant fancies, but had never made them before, as I knew that they were a fiddly faff, and not easy to get looking good.  Yup, too much like hard work for me, for a tasty bake, but, in my opinion not worth all the time and effort.  I followed Mary Berry’s own recipe virtually to the letter (that’s good going for me) .

INGREDIENTS

For the sponge 200g/7oz self-raising flour
30g/1oz ground almond
225g/8oz softened butter
225g/8oz caster sugar
4 free-range eggs
small tube of freeze-dried raspberry pieces
for the buttercream250g/9oz unsalted butter, softened
200g/7oz icing sugar
flavouring (raspberry and pear) and colouring (green and blue)
icing and decoration 500g/1lb 10z white fondant icing (or coloured icing if you have it)
150ml/5fl oz water
food colouring (any colour)
flavouring (any flavouring)
small sprinkles and/or almonds and/or glitter

Method
1.  Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3. Grease and fully line a 20cm/8in square tin with two strips of parchment paper. (one for the plain sponge the other for the raspberry one)
2.  In a food processor, beat together all the sponge ingredients until smooth. Tip half the cake mixture into one side of the tin; stir the raspberry pieces into the remaining mix and pour that into the other side and tap the tin lightly to level out.
3.  Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a metal skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool the cake  in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.  Leave the cake overnight (in a tin) to cool fully and firm slightly (or alternatively place in the freezer for a few minutes until chilled but not frozen). This will ensure that the sponge is as firm as it can be ready for the decoration.
4.  Make the buttercream. Beat together the softened butter and icing sugar in a bowl until lighter in colour, fluffy and smooth.  Separate into 2 bowls and add food colouring and flavours.
5.  Cut the cake into 16 equal squares (each 5cm/2 in square). You may need to cut off the edges if they have rounded and pulled away from the sides of the tin – all the edges should be straight and neat. Cover the top and four sides of each square with it’s matching buttercream.  Best to use a small, angled  palette knife to get the finish as smooth as possible.  Put in the fridge for around 30 mins for the buttercream to firm up.
6.  Cut the fondant icing into small cubes. Place in a sturdy free-standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Churn the icing until it starts to break down, adding a splash of water if it’s too hard. Very gradually add the water – the icing will become smooth and more liquid .  Add flavouring and food colouring to taste.

7.  Take the cakes out of the fridge and place one onto a fork. Dip each square into the icing one at a time and carefully set onto a cooling rack, with parchment or a tray underneath to catch the drips. Try not to get finger prints on them – for this reason it is best to insert the fork at an angle so that you can slide the cake off onto the cooling rack easily (again your palette knife should come in handy here).
8.  Leave the fondant to set, at room temperature for a couple of hours.  Decorate to make them look pretty and then eat!

TIPS  –  When spreading on the butter cream and also for the fondant too its a good idea to have a small jug of hot water handy, and a clean dry towel, dip the palette knife in the water, dry off and the residual heat will ‘melt’ the icing making it as neat as possible.  My other top tip is go out and BUY them! Oh, yeah, remember when using strong colours wear food prep gloves!img_1327

So that is the end of this weeks homage to GBBO, a long one I know, me thinks we might be putting a little weight on this week, thank goodness there’s just the last one to go (not really, am dreading having to wait nearly a year for the next one, and await the new format with trepidation!)

If you would like to follow the bakes for this week and the final next week then check out our hostess Jenny’s site Mummy’s Mishaps where you will see all the other bakes related to the Great British Bake Off 2016.   image

 

The Great Bloggers Bake Off 2016

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Week Eight  –  TUDOR 

So this week I was feeling only a little better than last week (flu that last over a week and straight into tonsil or laryngitis not been able to talk for 3 days – house is sooooo quiet without me!), but must have been in the mood for baking as I did 2 of the three rounds, and even baked a cake for the 3rd ‘showstopper’ section (cake decorated with marzipan for a centrepiece) but that was as far as I got haha, Mr Timothy is happy about that though as he loves my ugly apple cake and hates marzipan (so look out for the cake later in the year). However, with my usual “do it my way” way, I opted for a savoury version of the Tudor knot, so I think I can totally claim this recipe as my own, as it was only when I did a ‘search’ that I discovered that the Tudor knot biscuit was a ‘sweet’ spiced biscuit (this was on Wednesday, before the programme had even aired!); but undaunted I went ahead anyway as I had planned on making them to go with a pasta dish.

Bake number one  –  TUDOR STYLE BEEF PIE WITH HOT WATER CRUST 

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Stuff you need:
FOR THE FILLING
½ (ish) kilo beef (mine was braising steak, but use any)
2 large onions
fat for frying (dripping is good)
3-5 cm black pudding
2 stock cubes
Tablespoon or 2 of flour
⅓ bottle red wine
3 bay leaves
goodly pinch of mace and lashings of pepper
3-4 small potatoes (thin ones are best)
1 large carrot 
¼ purple cabbage
FOR THE PASTRY
350g plain flour (I used 300 plain and 50 strong bread)
120g lard
120g/ml boiling water
goodly pinch of salt 
plus the same of nutmeg and fennel seeds
beaten egg for glazing

Stuff you need to do:
  1. Prepare the ‘stew’ well in advance – I like to have it cook for at least 2 hours.  slice the meat up into small pieces; chop the onions up (vary the sizes  chunks, slices and small dice); finely chop the black pudding.  img_1271
  2. In a pan (I use a deep one that can go on the stove top and in the oven) fry off the onions until soft then add one of the stock cubes and fry until browning. Take off the heat and stir in the flour until it is all coated, add the stock cube, meats, pepper and mace and stir well.  Add the bay leaves and wine and enough water so that the meat is fully immersed.  Place in the oven and cook for 2 – 3 hours until the meat is tender (you could do this in a slow cooker if you prefer).  Once fully cooked leave to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C.  Prep your vegetables.  Using a mandolin slice the carrot wafer thin, then the cabbage, rinse the slicer and do the potatoes.  Blanch each veg for 2-3 minutes until just soft then drain.  Boil the kettle and make your pastry once the oven is ready as it’s better worked hot.
  4. Put the flours and herbs and salt into a large bowl.  Weigh the lard and water into a small pan and bring back to the boil, tip this into the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon, working as quickly as you can. Bring it to a dough ball and tip out onto a lightly floured surface.
  5. Work the warm dough together for a minute or 2 to get a gloopy feeling, shiny smooth ball of dough. Take 4/5 of the dough (cover the remaining 1/5) and split this into 4.  Using your hands and a rolling pin, smooth the dough out so that it fits into 4 deep individual pie tins, making sure there is an overhang. Get it as thin as you can without any holes, if it is too thick it will not cook inside.
  6. Fill the cases ½ full of ‘stew’ then equal layers of potato, carrot and cabbage.  Divide the remaining pastry into 4, squash into discs that just cover the surface of the pie and fold over the overhangs.  Crimp around the edge, glaze with egg and use a sharp knife to cut a hole right down into the pie (or you could try GBBO Selasi’s method and use a biro – not!) making sure you reach the meat layer but not the bottom)
  7. Bake the pie for approx ½ an hour until it is looking golden and holding its own shape.  Remove from the oven (turn heat down to 175ºC) and very carefully remove from the pie tins, put it back into the oven for roughly 20 minutes until pastry is golden all over and fully cooked inside.  Enjoy!

So it’s as easy as that! You can basically make what ever filling you desire in your own pie, and this amount of dough will make 4 medium sized deep pies, 1 large family pie or around  9 or 10 small picnic sized ones.  Only, I do recommend that you make sure before making this that you have the ‘right’ wine for the task, daft eejit that I am, I did not have any middle range wine of the red variety so was forced to open a bottle of the good stuff (ah the perils of living in the middle of nowhere when one runs out of ingredients!!)

 

Bake 2 of 2  –  SAVOURY TUDOR KNOT BISCUITS (aka Jumbles)

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SIMPLE INGREDIENTS AND METHOD

2 cups of self raising flour (I used 1 ⅔  white and ⅓  cup of spelt)
2 eggs (beaten)
good pinch of mixed spice or caraway seeds
splash of cold water

  • Put on a large pan of water to boil. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  • Mix all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl to form a dough, start with just a couple of tablespoons of water, add more if the dough is a little dry.
  • Tip onto a floured surface and work for a minute to a firm dough.  taking small pieces of dough roll into ‘knot’ shapes.  img_1262
  • Drop the knots, 3 or 4 at a time, carefully into the boiling water for a few seconds, until they float.  Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and put onto a bread/pizza baking sheet.  Once all cooked off  in the water bath put into the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden and baked.

These little ‘bread’ buns were a little on the bland side, however, they did make a good medium for pasta sauce, as they are crunchy on the outside yet soft-ish in the middle, a little like a fat bread stick, and made a change from the usual garlic bread.  Should I make them again (which I might as they are very quick and simple) I think I might add garlic and even some small, chopped, fried onion.

So that’s it for this weeks’ bakes, I obviously was not up to making the marzipan decorations for the cake, but not to worry, I will do another time!  However, if you want to either join in for the last couple of weeks, or see some of the other Great British Bake Off inspired bakes then take a look at our host Jenny Paulins’ site Mummy Mishaps for the bakes and the rules.  Thanks for stopping by!

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