Cinnamon Buns

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cinn 15/10/2017

The house smells incredible as these bake and there’s not much that comes close to enjoying them warm out of the oven. The buns keep for 3-4 days and if they last that long, you can microwave them for a few seconds to warm them through and it’s as if you’ve cooked a fresh batch all over again. Win!

Makes 12

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 7g active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk warm
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups (500g) plain flour

Filling:

  • 1/3 cup soft brown or demerara sugar, packed
  • 3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter

Cream cheese icing:

  • 6 tbsp margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions:

  1. For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. The yeast should start to froth up slightly.
  2. Add sugar, butter, salt, egg, baking powder and flour to a mixing bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour the milk/yeast mixture in the bowl and mix well until well incorporated.
  4. Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approx 16 inches long by 12 inches wide. It should be approx 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Preheat oven to 180C degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking tin with butter.
  7. To make filling, combine the butter or margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  8. Spread the mixture evenly over the surface of the dough. Alternatively you can spread the butter first on the dough and then the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  9. Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. The roll should be about 18 inches in length. Cut the roll into 1 ½ inch slices.
  10. Place the cut rolls in the prepared pan. Cover them with a damp towel. Let them rise again for another 30 minutes until they double in size.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cooking time can vary greatly! If the tops brown too quickly before the dough is cooked, cover loosely with foil to prevent burning.
  12. While the rolls are baking make the icing by mixing all ingredients and beat well until fluffy.
  13. When the rolls are done, spread generously with icing.

cinna

You could leave them plain at this point as the icing is very sweet and I’m not normally a fan of overly sweet thing but this icing is amazing and melts beautifully into the warm buns giving them a sweet, sticky glaze that works perfectly with the pillowy soft dough and cinnamon.

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Camembert Garlic Bread

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Capturel 06/10/2017

Sometimes you just want something quick and simple for dinner but that shouldn’t mean boring. This camembert garlic bread is quick, easy flippin’ amazing too. I mean it’s cheese and bread and garlic so it’s hard to go wrong really.

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You could try experimenting with this bread by stuffing different ingredients in the bread such as tomato sauce, chorizo, mozzarella, basil, pesto, bacon, whatever you want really.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole camembert
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 loaf of crusty bread
  • Sea salt to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Remove all the packaging from the camembert and use the outer box as a stencil to cut a circular hole in the centre of the crusty loaf. Do not cut all the way through. Remove just enough bread so the camembert can sit snuggly in the centre of the bread.
  3. Remove the top rind of the camembert and place the cheese in the hole you just cut into the bread, cut side up.
  4. With a serrated knife, score the bread several times lengthways and then widthways to achieve a checkerboard effect.
  5. Add the garlic, butter, rosemary and a pinch of salt to a bowl and microwave for a few seconds to melt the butter. Spread this mixture between the scored lines you just made in the bread.
  6. Sprinkle the whole thing with a little salt and set on a baking tray. Bake in the lower part of the oven for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is oozing, the bread is crusty and the garlic is fragrant.
  7. Rip squares of the buttery garlic bread and dunk them into the gooey cheese. Shake your head in amazement.

Plum & Almond Pudding

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plum 30/08/2017

So as I have already mentioned, I recently returned from a holiday in France and upon leaving the little gite, I was presented with a huge bag of plums from the hosts who had been busy harvesting the variety of wonderful trees in their garden. I have never really been overly fussed about plums but being one not to let anything go to waste, I thought I’d try my hand at baking something with them and this pudding is the result.

Sharp plums are topped with a light sponge flavoured with almonds and scented with zesty lemons for a really satisfying treat.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ripe plums, quartered and stoned
  • pinch cinnamon
  • zest 2 lemons
  • 4 tbsp brandy (optional)
  • 100g soft butter
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp flaked almond
  • Custard/cream/icecream, to serve

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan. Toss the plums, cinnamon, lemon zest and brandy together in a bowl, then leave to macerate while you make the batter.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time then tip in the flour, almond extract and ground almonds. Mix until completely combined.
  3. Tip the fruit into a buttered shallow baking dish, spoon over the cake batter, then sprinkle over the flaked almonds. Bake for 35-40 mins until browned and cooked through. Test if the pudding is ready by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean, the pudding is ready. If there is some batter on the skewer then give it a few minutes more. Remove from the oven and serve warm with custard.

Flan Patissier

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Capture 29/08/2017

Flan patissier is the French equivalent of the custard tart. The delicious dessert is filled with simple, vanilla infused cream. It is the tart that you see in patisseries all over France. It is often made in a long slab that can be sliced as a treat at any time of the day.

I have provided a really in-depth method for making the pastry as this is so important to creating the final flan. The crumbly, buttery base is perfect with the thick, creamy custard filling.

Ingredients:

For the sweet pastry:

  • 350g plain flour
  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, plus one yolk
  • pinch of salt
  • A little butter or baking spray, for greasing the tin
  • A little flour, for rolling

For the filling:

  • 200ml full-fat milk
  • 200ml double cream
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 medium egg, plus 1 medium yolk
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 40g cornflour
  • 20g butter, melted

Essential kit You will need a 20cm loose-bottomed tart tin.

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Method:

  1. First, make the sweet pastry. You will need half the quantity given here. To make the pastry: Measure out all your ingredients before you start, and break your 2 eggs into a small bowl– there is no need to beat them. Separate the remaining egg. Put the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
  2. Now for the cold butter. What I do is take it straight from the fridge and put it between two pieces of greaseproof paper or butter wrappers (I always keep butter wrappers to use for this, as well as for greasing tins and rings), then bash it firmly with a rolling pin.
  3. The idea is to soften it while still keeping it cold. I end up with a thin, cold slab about a centimetre thick that bends like plasticine. Put the whole slab into the bowl of flour – there is no need to chop it up.
  4. Cover the butter well with flour and tear it into large pieces.
  5. Now it’s time to flake the flour and butter together – this is where you want a really light touch. With both hands, scoop up the flour-covered butter and flick your thumbs over the surface, pushing away from you, as if you are dealing a pack of cards.
  6. You need just a soft, skimming motion – no pressing or squeezing – and the butter will quickly start to break into smaller pieces. Keep plunging your hands into the bowl, and continue with the light flicking action, making sure all the pieces of butter remain coated with flour so they don’t become sticky.
  7. The important thing now is to stop mixing when the shards of butter are the size of your little fingernail. There is an idea that you have to keep rubbing in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, but you don’t need to take it that far. When people come to my classes, I find they can’t resist putting their hands back into the bowl to rub it just a little bit more, but if you want a light pastry, it is really important not to overwork it. If the mixture starts to get sticky now, imagine how much worse it will be when you start to add the liquid at the next stage. Add the sugar at this point, mixing it in evenly.
  8. Tip the eggs, and the extra yolk, into the flour mixture and mix everything together.
  9. You can mix with a spoon, but I prefer to use one of the little plastic scrapers that I use for bread-making. Because it is bendy, it’s very easy to scrape around the sides of the bowl and pull the mixture into the centre until it forms a very rough dough that shouldn’t be at all sticky.
  10. While it is still in the bowl, press down on the dough with both thumbs, then turn the dough clockwise a few degrees and press down and turn again. Repeat this a few times.
  11. With the help of your spoon or scraper, turn the pastry onto a work surface.
  12. Work the dough as you did when it was in the bowl: holding the dough with both hands, press down gently with your thumbs, then turn the dough clockwise a few degrees, press down with your thumbs again and turn. Repeat this about four or five times in all.
  13. Now fold the pastry over itself and press down with your fingertips. Provided the dough isn’t sticky, you shouldn’t need to flour the surface, but if you do, make sure you give it only a really light dusting, not handfuls, as this extra flour will all go into your pastry and make it heavier.
  14. When you flour your work surface, you need to do this as if you are skimming a stone over water, just paying out a light spray of flour. (Funny as it seems, people in my classes actually practise this, like a new sport.) You need just enough to create a filmy barrier so that you can glide the pastry around the work surface without it sticking.
  15. Repeat the folding and pressing down with your fingertips a couple of times until the dough is like plasticine, and looks homogeneous.
  16. Your pastry is now ready to roll out and bake. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
  17. Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5.
  18. Lightly grease a 20cm loose-bottomed tart tin with butter or baking spray
  19. Lightly dust your work surface with flour, then roll out the pastry into a circle 5mm thick and large enough to fit into the tin, leaving an overhang of about 2.5cm.
  20. Roll the pastry around your rolling pin so that you can lift it up without stretching it, then drape it over the tin and let it fall inside.
  21. Ease the pastry carefully into the base and sides of the tin without stretching it, and leave it overhanging the edges. Tap the tin lightly against your work surface to settle it in. Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork to stop it from trying to rise up when in the oven (even though it will be held down by baking beans, it can sometimes lift a little).
  22. You can use a large sheet of baking paper for lining your tart case, however I prefer to use clingfilm (the kind that is safe for use in the oven or microwave) as it is softer than paper and won’t leave indents in the pastry. Place three sheets of clingfilm (or one sheet of baking paper) over the top of the pastry case, then tip in your baking beans and spread them out so they completely cover the base. Don’t trim the pastry yet. Put the case into the fridge for at least one hour (or the freezer for 15 minutes) to relax it.
  23. Pre-heat the oven to 190C / gas 5.
  24. Remove the pastry case from the fridge and put in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes until the base has dried out and is very lightly coloured, like parchment.
  25. Remove from the oven and lift out the clingfilm (or baking paper) and beans. Don’t worry if the overhanging edges are quite brown, as you will be trimming these away after you have finished baking your tart.
  26. Brush the inside of the pastry case with the beaten egg and put it back into the oven for another ten minutes. The inside of the pastry, and particularly the base, will now be quite golden brown and shiny from the egg glaze, which will act as a barrier so that the pastry will stay crisp when you put in the filling.
  27. Let the pastry case cool down then you can trim away the overhanging edges.
  28. Turn down the oven to 180°C/gas 4.
  29. To make the filling, put the milk, cream and vanilla pod (split and seeds scraped in) in a pan, bring to a simmer (be careful not to let the mixture boil), then take off the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour. Remove the vanilla pod.
  30. In a bowl, mix the egg, yolk and sugar until pale and creamy, and then whisk in the cornflour. Stir in the melted butter.
  31. Put the pan containing the milk and cream mixture back on the heat and bring slowly to the boil, whisking all the time, then turn down to a simmer for 1 minute, still whisking all the time. Take off the heat and pour onto the egg and sugar mixture, stirring well.
  32. Pour the mixture into the tart case and bake for around 45 minutes, until the filling is firm to the touch and a deep, dark golden on top — like the top of a crème brûlée. Take out of the oven, slide off the tin, and cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

 

Tarte au Maroilles

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Capturei 28/08/2017

I have just arrived home from a holiday in the Picardy region of Northern France. I have to confess I have lost my enthusiasm for blogging recently due to my poor student bank account taking a battering and my house-”mates” whose kitchen cleanliness leaves little to be desired.  After a trip to this beautiful part of France however, I have returned with a new passion for cooking and all things cheese!

In case you’re not familiar with Maroilles, it’s a soft cow’s milk cheese with an orange rind that’s made in Northern France. Those simple facts sound harmless enough but there’s a little more to it than that. The aroma of Maroilles can be scary. If you don’t eat it quickly, it could start to set off fire alarms and endanger low-flying aircraft. On the other hand, it tastes great.

One of the most common dishes using Mariolles is the Tarte au Maroilles. You can find different versions of this tarte around Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy but the most traditional form has a yeasted dough base rather than a layer of pastry. You can of course use a shortcrust or even puff pastry if you want a result similar to a quiche. Indeed, I personally prefer a crisper base that puff pastry achieves but I have provided the recipe for the authentic yeasted base here.

If you can’t get hold of any Maroilles, then you could substitute another cheese that isn’t too soft and ripe but does have a powerful flavour: Chaumes, Reblochon or Pont-l’Évêque come to mind.

Serves 6-8

Captureii Capture

Ingredients:

For the base:

  • ½ tsp easy bake fast action dried yeast
  • 300 g strong white flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 15 g softened butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 100 ml milk
  • 20 ml water

For the topping:

  • 300 g Maroilles
  • 200 ml crème fraîche
  • 1 egg
  • Plenty of pepper and a little salt
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to taste, optional

Method:

  1. Add all of the base ingredients to the large mixing bowl and combine then on a lightly floured work surface, knead the mix for 10-15 minutes. You should have a light, slightly sticky dough. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and leave to prove in a warm place for 1 hour.
  2. Butter a 25 cm or 26 cm diameter pie dish. (The tarte topping tends to bubble up more than you might expect and so a deeper dish is useful.) Knock the dough back and roll it out until it covers the base of the pie dish. Some recipes suggest that you should fully line the dish by spreading the dough up the sides, but I was told in Picardy that it should remain flat.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Slice the Maroilles quite thinly and cover the dough base with the cheese. You don’t have to remove the rind of the cheese, but unless the cheese is very fresh then it can be quite strong. I personally love the flavour and leave it on. Beat the egg and stir it into the crème fraîche. Season this mixture with the pepper and salt. Pour the mixture onto the tarte and spread it out to cover the whole of the surface (you don’t need to be too fussy or precise about this). Grate nutmeg over if using. Bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes or until the top is golden and puffed up.
  4. Serve warm with a fresh green salad and a cold beer.

Chocolate Fudge Custard Cake

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caa 29/06/2017

I would love to provide a picture of the cake as a whole with its silky, chocolate custard covering but once I removed it from the fridge to serve, it didn’t last two seconds before everyone crowded round for a slice! I made this for my little brother’s birthday. He is a massive chocolate fan and this cake certainly delivers in that respect.

Ingredients:

For the chocolate sponges:

  • 150ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g plain flour
  • 70g cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g light brown soft sugar
  • 200ml buttermilk
  • 100ml strong coffee
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

For the chocolate custard:

  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 500ml full-fat milk
  • 140g chocolate, 85% cocoa solids, broken into cubes
  • 50g cornflour
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Make the custard first as it needs to chill. Put all the ingredients, except the vanilla, in a large pan and bring gently to the boil, whisking all the time, until the chocolate has melted and you have a silky, thick custard. It will take 5-7 minutes from cold. Stir in the vanilla and a generous pinch of salt then scrape the custard into a wide, shallow bowl. Cover the surface with cling film, cool then chill for at least 3 hrs or until cold and set.
  2. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with baking parchment – if your cake tins are quite shallow, line the sides to a depth of at least 5cm. Put flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, light brown soft sugar and 1 tsp salt in a bowl and mix well. If there are any lumps in the sugar, squeeze these through your fingers to break them up.
  3. Measure the buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a jug. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until well combined. Pour the cake mixture evenly into the two tins, and bake for 25-30 mins until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack, peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool.
  4. To assemble, cover one of the cake layers with a generous helping of the custard. Add the second layer to the top of this and spoon the remaining custard on top of the cake then spread it around the top and down the sides until smooth. Chill for 15 minutes to firm up the custard again.

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Chill for 2 hours, or longer if possible, before serving, and eat it cold. This cake can be made up to 2 days ahead. The cake gets fudgier and more enticing the longer you leave it. The coffee in the recipe cannot be tasted but really brings out the intense cocoa flavours in the custard and the sponge and the addition of a small pinch of salt in the custard really intensifies the chocolate even further.

Bierocks

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bierockss 23/06/2017

Bierocks are made with a yeasted dough to form a pastry casing for a savoury filling of meat and cabbage and originating from Eastern Europe.

Ever in search of new ways with mince, this recipe also provides an interesting, tasty and cheap combination of ingredients that also provide a hand held snack that pairs perfectly with a cold beer. Winner!

Makes 12

Ingredients:

Bread Dough:

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 1 7g sachet fast action yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 100ml whole milk
  • 100ml hot water

Filling:

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Method:

Make the bread dough:

  1. Put the flour, yeast, egg, salt and sugar into a bowl.
  2. Add the hot water to the milk and add gradually to the mixture until it comes together into a soft dough. You may need more liquid, depending on the moisture in the flour and egg.
  3. Knead the mixture for ten minutes, cover and set aside to rise for an hour.

Make the filling:

  1. Heat a non-stick saucepan over a medium high heat and crumble in the meat. No need to have any oil, even lean mince has a certain amount of fat in it which will come out as the meat cooks.
  2. Stir the meat around until it is browned and shiny.
  3. Add the onion and continue stirring while the onion softens.
  4. Finally add in the cabbage and cook until the cabbage has softened – probably no more than 2-3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the salt and pepper, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  6. When the dough has risen, tip out and pat down.
  7. Divide dough into pieces weighing 75-80g.
  8. Roll dough out into a 15cm square.
  9. Put a large tablespoon of the cooled filling into the middle of the dough.
  10. Add 1 teaspoon of the grated cheese, if using.
  11. Bring the corners of the dough together and pinch along the edges to seal in the filling. What you will end up with looks like the back of an envelope.
  12. Turn the buns over and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  13. Dust the buns with flour and set aside to rise for 15-20 minutes.
  14. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan.
  15. Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.
  16. Remove the buns from the oven and immediately cover the baking sheet with some tea-towels. This will trap the heat and create steam, which will soften the crust of the buns.
  17. Eat warm.

bierocks