Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Citrus Scones

It has been gorgeous sunny weather in Portsmouth which means cream teas and picnics by the beach. I’m going home for Easter soon so I needed to bake something that used up all the ingredients I already have. Scones are really easy to make and don’t use a lot of crazy ingredients so they are perfect! My citrus scones use lemon zest but you can use orange if you prefer. Also I used light brown sugar because that’s all I had but you’re supposed to use caster sugar.

250g self-raising Flour
80g butter
1 tbsp baking powder
50g caster sugar
100ml milk
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 egg yolk, beaten
My scones are in the oven as I’m writing this and I’ve just realised they look weirdly white on top because I used a whole egg beaten and didn’t separate the yolk from the white. Baking is all about trial and error but try not to make the same mistake as me! Luckily I could peel off the weird eggy bit and eat those ones myself before anyone noticed…
Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas Mark 3.
Sift the flour into a large measuring bowl and combine the butter using your fingertips until the mixture has a crumb like consistency.

Stir in the baking powder and sugar using a wooden spoon.
Work in the milk and lemon zest until the mixture comes together then use your hands to combine completely.

Knead the dough a couple times then roll out onto a surface until around 2cm thick. I used a glass to cut my mixture into rounds. Brush the tops lightly with the egg yolk then pop into the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden.

As you can see mine didn’t rise very much and I think that’s because I only put a really small spoon of baking powder in. This blog is basically an exhibition of the perils of not reading a recipe properly. However I do not care a tot because they still taste lovely!

I like mine with a little bit of butter but if you feel like going mad you can add clotted cream and lemon curd.

Bakers Note: If you’ve read any of my other recipes things I bake tend to burn in my oven BUT this time I put a baking tray on the bottom shelf to absorb some of the heat and my scones didn’t burn! Result!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Big Chocolate Chip Cookies

Something simple but just as tasty for you today. Mainly because I’m really very hungover (perils of being a student) but also because I’ve been meaning to do something in the biscuit family for a while. These cookies remind me of coming home from school and the kitchen smelling like chocolate chip goodness. Usually they had been made for something else but that never stopped us eating them. They’re really easy and quick to whip up if you need to appear like a domestic goddess in half an hour.
First off I just want to mention that this came through the post on Saturday.

I was having a bad (hungover) morning and when I opened the package I swear I cried a little bit! It was a free gift from Sainsbury’s because my mum bought me a magazine subscription. It’s relevant anyway because I think this cookie recipe is one of Mary Berry’s. I don’t actually know because I wrote it into my recipe collection. I apologise for the laziness today but I just took a picture of the recipe and instructions because I can’t really be bothered to write it up…

It’s a basic all-in-one method. Combine all the ingredients using a wooden spoon and try not to eat too much of the cookie dough. I actually halved the recipe because I only had a half bag of chocolate chips and didn’t want to venture into the world to go buy some more.

My oven at university basically hates me and burns EVERYTHING on the bottom so I was a bit lapse in judgement with my first batch and put them straight onto a lightly buttered baking tray. As you can see from the photos they came out with black bottoms. For the second batch I put baking parchment on the trays and the actual oven rack to see if I could avoid burning them too. They came out slightly better but I think it’s fair to say that I’ll stick to making these in my fan oven at home!

I personally like these cookies the day after they’ve been made because they go lovely and soft. It looks like I’m going to be eating a lot of them because I can’t give burnt cookies to my friends or my reputation will be tarnished! (I think I’m still a bit drunk)

Friday, 16 March 2012

St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes with Bailey's Icing

St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect excuse for those of us with Irish heritage (which is basically everyone) and a kinship to alcoholism to have a grand old time. It’s also an excuse for those of us who like alcohol and cake to combine the two!  I’ve used a normal vanilla sponge with green food colouring and icing with Bailey’s Irish liqueur as my tribute to this jolly little holiday.  I wanted quite a light green colour but if you wanted to go the whole emerald way you’ll probably need a whole bottle of food colouring.

Ingredients (Makes 24 cupcakes)
3 eggs
200g of self-raising flour
200g of butter
200g of caster sugar
1 tsp of baking powder
Few drops of vanilla essence
Green food colouring
Butter, icing sugar and an Irish cream liqueur for the icing
Combine all the cake ingredients except for the food colouring into a large mixing bowl.

Add the green food colouring a few drops at a time so you can control the colour.

Use a desert spoon to fill the cupcake cases ¾ full and place in a preheated oven of 180C/Gas Mark 5 for 15-20 minutes or until springy to the touch.

Leave the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack. Make the icing by creaming together some butter and icing sugar. Add as much liqueur as you like, it’s really dependent on taste. I used half a miniature bottle of baileys.
I wanted to use green Smarties to decorate the tops but apparently they don’t sell Smarties ANYWHERE so I had to buy some random mini eggs which only had 6 green ones in the end…

Pipe a swirl of the Bailey’s icing on each cake and decorate with a sweet! (Or whatever you want really)
Enjoy with a proper Irish cuppa (or Guinness) and don’t forget to say t’anks a million!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cupcakes

This week our friend is campaigning to be elected VP of Activities for the Union next year, and you know what that means…CAMPAIGN CUPCAKES! Nothing better than some baked goods to coerce the student population into voting. We decided to make marble cupcakes because they look so damn good! In the end they couldn't actually use the cakes because they'd already gone over budget so we just randomly distributed them to our friends instead...

Bear in mind for this recipe we made nearly 60 cupcakes so if you don’t want to make quite as many then half the quantities.


6 eggs

400g of self-raising flour

400g of caster sugar

400g of butter

Splash of milk

1 tsp of baking powder

Few drops vanilla essence

3 tsps of cocoa powder

Mix all the ingredients except for the vanilla essence and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl. When thoroughly mixed split the mixture in half into two bowls. To one add a few drops of vanilla essence and to the other 3 tsps of cocoa powder.

Using a small teaspoon fill the cupcake cases with alternate spoons of mixture, being careful not to mix them. When the cases are ¾ full, pop them into an oven preheated to 180⁰C/Gas Mark 5 for 15 minutes or until springy to the touch.

Leave to cool on a wire rack and then decorate! Because we had so many and they were for the campaign we piped a small swirl of icing on each, topped with a chocolate chip and writing icing saying ‘V.A’ which means VOTE FOR AHSAN!

If I was making these for a general occasion I would make two-tone butter icing where you fill a piping bag with two different colours and it comes out looking very pretty. This marble recipe also works really well in a loaf cake or just a big old normal one if you can be bothered.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Birthday Cakes

My siblings and I have always been really lucky to have a mum that made crazy birthday cakes for us when we were younger. There have been cats, dinosaurs, hedgehogs (which I may have dropped on the floor in excitement…), Witch’s cauldrons and my ultimate favourite: my fairy princess castle. It was for my fourth birthday and was bright pink with four turrets; yes TURRETS and we had a bouncy castle. I think when I was younger I sort of assumed that everyone had birthdays like these but I got to a certain age where I realised that I was just really lucky and my mum is an absolute star.

Because University is basically like being a kid again my friend Jenna and I have got into the habit of baking mental, personalised cakes for people’s birthdays. They make a really thoughtful gift and I’ve yet to meet someone that didn’t love a special cake made just for them!  

Here’s a little showcase of some of the ones we’ve done:
Portuguese Cake

This was made for my Portuguese friend so we baked a red layer and a green layer to be like their national flag. We then iced a dodgy looking motorcycle (he’s a biker) and decorated the top and filled the middle with Milky Bar because it’s his favourite.  A really good tip if you’re struggling with how to make a personalised cake is to make copious use of their favourite sweet!
Disc Cake
This is supposed to be a mixing disk for a friend who does Music Tech. at Uni. It is without a doubt the unhealthiest cake we have ever made. Guaranteed diabetes on a plate. A 6 egg mixture, it has a whole tub of butter and a whole bag a sugar in the mixture. It then has ANOTHER tub of butter and a whole bag of icing sugar in the middle and on the top, covered by black royal icing. Hiding in the middle is about 3 kinder eggs too. It makes me feel a bit ill thinking about it to be honest. No one could actually manage a slice so we just ate it using spoons…
Llama Cake
The Llama cake is definitely still my firm favourite. We also had ridiculous looking llama costumes but I won’t subject you to a picture of those. My friend is obsessed with llamas so when we we’re thinking about her cake it was obvious what we needed to do! We made the llama by baking 4 small loaf cakes. We then used 2 for the body, 1 for the neck and 1 for the head, ears and legs. We had a lot of trouble getting the neck to stand up so we ended up slicing it into four and cementing them on top of one another like building blocks. We then used a few toothpicks to support the ears. Animal cakes are the most fun to bake I reckon.
Catherine Tate Cake

We made this for a friend who loves a bit of Catherine Tate. I know it really doesn’t look anything like her but hey, it’s the thought that counts. We used a tiny drop of red and a tiny drop of blue colouring to make the pale skin coloured icing. Then we used my trusty piping bag to pipe her bright auburn locks, and a sprinkle of edible glitter to give her shiny hair!

The next time you have a friend’s birthday coming up, set aside a few hours and make them a personal cake! Trust me, it’s totally worth it for the look on their face, because even in our twenties everyone loves to feel like a kid again : )

Friday, 9 March 2012

Chicken Curry Puffs

I’ve been meaning to make some pastry and I had half a tin of kidney beans left over from a chili I made the other day so I thought CURRY PUFFS! They’re a Malaysian snack which is sort of like a light Cornish pasty with curry in. I’m one of those really sad people that love spicy food but have a ridiculously English stomach which does not appreciate it... However, I don’t care, and will continue eat spicy things until my body mans up!

Normal people use frozen puff pastry for these, but I just like to make things complicated for myself so here’s how to make rough puff pastry:

Rough Puff Pastry Ingredients

250g strong plain white flour

250g of butter, cold

A small cup of cold water

Add the flour and the cold butter into a mixing bowl.

Using a metal knife use slashing motions to combine until the butter is still visible and in small lumps. Don’t use your hands or it will melt the butter!

Make a well in the middle and add in about 6 tbsps of very cold water. Using the knife to mix the dough, add in one spoon of water at a time until the mixture forms a ball.
Wrap the ball in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge for about an hour.
Take the ball out of the fridge and roll it out onto a lightly floured surface.
Then fold the top third onto the middle and the bottom on top of that.

Turn the pastry 90c, roll out and repeat the above steps two or three more times until the pastry is smooth.  Wrap it in clingfilm and chill for another hour. After this the pastry is ready to use!

Curry Puff Ingredients
Large chicken breast, cut into chunks
Large potato, cut into chunks
Three carrots, cut into chunks (Do you sense a theme here?)
An onion, finely chopped
A few sticks of easy ginger, if you have it
Half a tin of red kidney beans (optional)
A squeeze of tomato paste
A glug of soy sauce
Two big spoonfuls of curry powder (as strong as you like)
A spoonful of salt
A spoonful of sugar
Some fresh coriander, chopped
One egg, beaten and mixed with a little bit of water
Glug of olive oil

The first thing to do is to boil the potato chunks for fifteen minutes. Chuck the carrots in when there’s seven minutes to go. Drain and leave them to the side. Fry the onions and ginger in olive oil until the onions have softened.
Add the chicken and fry until just cooked.
Then add the curry powder, salt and sugar with a few spoonfuls of water.

Add the cooked potatoes and carrots and mix to cover everything evenly.

Add a few swirls of tomato paste and a couple spoonfuls of soy sauce and simmer for about five minutes. Then add the red kidney beans and simmer for another five minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and stir in the chopped coriander and leave to one side. Preheat the oven to 200c/Gas Mark 6.
Roll your pastry out thinly. Onto trays lined with baking paper place oval shapes of pastry cut using a knife. Put a spoonful of curry mixture on one side of the pastry. Brush the edges with a bit of egg wash, fold over the other half then crimp closed using a fork.  Brush the egg wash all over the puff. I apologise for the general inconsistency in shape and size of my puffs. As you should know by now, perfect presentation really is not my style.

Bake in the preheated oven for twenty minutes until golden brown.

My serving suggestion is to eat them warm with a big dollop of HP sauce on the side. Once cooled pop them into an airtight container in the fridge and they should last a couple days. I wouldn’t reheat them in the microwave, only because it makes the pastry go soggy and weird.