Sunday, 22 April 2012

Crunchy Crusted Ricotta Scone

This is another guest recipe from my mum, and my last post at home because I’m going back to Portsmouth today! I apologise in advance that I doubt I’ll have time to post any new recipes in the next three weeks as it’s dreaded deadline time again…then again, I am prone to a bit of procrasibaking (Jenna’s word meaning procrastination baking- pretty much sums up my life) so you never know!

My mum loves this recipe. She says to serve it with lemon curd and cream!


175g Ricotta

100g Golden caster sugar

200g Self-Raising flour

50g Butter

1-2 Tablespoons of milk + extra for brushing

1 Tablespoon Demerara sugar

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

Preheat the oven to 200⁰C/ Gas Mark 6. Grease a baking tray and lightly dust with flour.

Sift the flour and half of the sugar into a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour mixture.

Mix the ricotta, orange zest and the other half of the sugar in a smaller bowl or jug.

Combine the two mixtures, adding 1-2 tablespoons of milk if needed to form a soft, but not sticky, dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead very lightly.

Roll or press into a circle around 4cm thick and place on the baking sheet.

Use a sharp knife to score the scone into 8 wedges. Brush it with milk and sprinkle with the Demerara sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

That’s all for now lovelies! Have a wonderful, hopefully sunny, May and remember that all baked goods taste best served with a big cup of tea : )

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Chocolate Apple Cake

I absolutely love this cake! It reminds me of birthday parties and family coming to stay the weekend. Unfortunately, you really do need a food processor to make it so I had to wait until I was home for Easter to borrow my mum’s Magimix! It’s worth it though because the apple gives the sponge a really moist consistency (hate hate hate the word moist by the way).
185g butter
1 ¼ cup castor sugar
3 eggs
1/3 cup cocoa
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/3 cup water
2 apples, peeled and quartered
2 cups self-raising flour
Line a 23cm square tin with baking parchment. (I used foil so it was easier to carry on a train!)Preheat the oven to 170C/ Gas Mark 4.
Combine the dry ingredients:  flour, sugar, cocoa, apple, bicarbonate of soda and butter in the food processor.

Then add the eggs and water and blend all ingredients until the mixture is smooth.

Pour into your prepared tin and bake for an hour. Cool on a wire rack.

Normally, I decorate this cake with chocolate butter icing and sprinkles.

However, I made this cake especially for my friend James’s 21st so I made some vanilla buttercream and used a piping bag to personalise the cake.

We’d had a few cocktails and several glasses of Champagne by the time we tried some of the cake but I think everyone enjoyed it!

Happy Birthday James :D xxx

Monday, 16 April 2012

Banana Nut Bars

Now that my parents are over fifty they’ve suddenly decided to become diet Nazis. This means that when I bake I get shouted at for ‘tempting them with naughty things’. That’s appreciation for you, eh? Anyway, this month’s Sainsbury’s magazine has a section about Paleo eating, the back to nature diet. Basically- eat like a caveman. Sounds like bollocks to me but it had this nut bar recipe that sounded nice and I wouldn’t get screamed at for making, so here we are.

Ingredients (Makes 10 bars)
25g roughly chopped hazelnuts
25g roughly chopped pecans
2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
3 large eggs
100g ground almonds
40g desiccated coconut
40g raisins 25g dried cranberries
Pinch of salt
I did a little bit of improvising with my nut bars. Mainly because I didn’t have certain ingredients and couldn’t be arsed to go to the shop. I replaced the hazelnuts and pecans with walnuts and macadamia nuts. As far as I’m concerned this is the kind of recipe that you make out of what you like anyway so go nuts, literally.
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Line a 20cm-square baking tin with non-stick baking parchment.
Roughly chop your nuts of choice.

Tip the chopped nuts onto a small baking tray and roast for about 5 minutes in the preheating oven. When they’re done leave them to cool.
Combine all the other dry ingredients and add a small pinch of salt.

This recipe requires 2 ripe bananas. Sadly, I’m currently in a house of fruit bingers and someone ate one of my ripe bananas I’d set aside with a VERY clear note not to eat so I had to use a tough green one.
That is the genuine note I left. Not that I’m bitter or anything, but how annoying is that.
ANYWAY, mash the bananas with a fork and add to the mixture. Whisk the eggs lightly with the fork and add them too, then toss in the roasted nuts. Mix all the ingredients using a wooden spoon.

Pour into the lined tin and smooth flat. Bake for 25 minutes until firm and golden. Cool on a wire rack then cut into 10.

Each piece is 187 calories (don’t ask me if that’s good or not because I don’t have a clue) and makes a pretty tasty breakfast bar. Personally I think they would be improved with a little drizzle of melted chocolate, but I’m pretty sure I’d be thrown out of Casa De Diet for that one.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Homemade Pizza

I unashamedly admit that I am a massive pizza fiend. If I had to choose one thing to eat for the rest of my life it would be pizza. If it wasn’t horrendously overpriced I would eat Dominoes every single day. Luckily for me, making your own pizza is a lot cheaper and muchhhh healthier than takeaway pizza. This is a basic pizza recipe and then you just add whatever toppings you want. We went for leftover spicy chicken, Parma ham and rocket. NOM.

Ingredients (for the dough)
500g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon seat salt flakes
1 x 7g sachet fast-action yeast
300ml lukewarm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Mix the flour, salt and yeast into a large mixing bowl.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the water and olive oil.

Use your hands to gradually drag the flour into the liquid in a sort of hooking motion until all the ingredients are combined into a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead thoroughly for ten minutes until the dough is very stretchy and elastic.

Return the ball to the bowl and cover with a damp tea cloth. Leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour.

While that’s going on make the tomato topping!
Ingredients (tomato topping)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
Pinch of sugar
12 fresh basil leaves (or a pinch of dried)
Heat the oil and cook the garlic and onion over a low heat for a couple of minutes.

Add the tomatoes, sugar and basil. Bring to the boil then simmer on a low heat for about forty minutes until reduced and nicely thick. Stir every now and again so it doesn’t burn on the bottom. Taste the sauce and season with a little salt and pepper, then leave to cool. Because my mother is fussy I then blended the sauce so it was super smooth but I like mine thick normally.
When the dough has risen, punch the air out.

Turn it out onto your lightly floured work surface and divide into three balls.
The recipe I used said to lightly oil your hands and press, pat and pull the dough into shape. I’m not going to lie, that didn’t work out so well. One meltdown later my mum comes home and saves the day by suggesting I use a rolling pin…That worked about a thousand times better than my method so listen to her!
Transfer each pizza onto a piece of baking parchment and pinch the edges to make a lip to keep the filling in.
Heat the oven as hot as it will go, leave the bases in a warm place to rise a bit more and prepare your topping.
I used about three big spoonfuls of tomato sauce with sliced mozzarella, parma ham, oregano and a sprinkling of pepper. I popped on some rocket leaves drizzled with olive oil a few minutes before the end of cooking time and it was delllish.
The recipe says cook for 10 minutes but it took more like 15-20 in our oven. We like our pizzas crispy though so it’s up to you.
Serve with salad and a large dollop of HP sauce!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Easter Macaroons

We wanted to try Two Chicks egg white in a carton so I thought some little macaroons for Easter teatime would go down a treat. Macaroons are really easy to whip up and personalise with whatever flavours/colours you like! I made mine a light spring pink with a delicate vanilla flavouring. You’ll see from the pictures that the texture of my macaroons look a bit dodge; I’m blaming the weird egg whites and not the fact that I couldn’t be arsed to use a piping bag…However, despite them looking a bit spesh they still taste really nice so who cares.

Ingredients (makes 12 paired Macaroons)

2 medium egg whites, at room temp

150g caster sugar

120g ground almonds

120g icing sugar

Drop vanilla extract

Drop of food colouring

Preheat the oven to 140C/ Gas Mark 1. Cover two trays with baking parchment. Draw 12 even circles with a diameter of 5cm on each tray.

Mix the egg white, caster sugar and any food colouring into a large mixing bowl, whisking until the mixture is thick.

Combine the almonds and icing sugar, adding a spoonful at a time to the egg white mixture. Continue whisking until you have a shiny, thick mixture. (Mine shown here is a terrible example, again, clearly the egg whites fault…)
Pipe (or if lazy like me, spoon) mixture into the ready drawn circles. Leave the trays out at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes so that the macaroons can form a sort of skin, which stops them from spreading in the oven.
Bake for 25 minutes until firm. Cool on a wire rack.
Now for the filling! I wanted to try out more of the carton egg white so I decided to make a whoopie pie filling instead of the usual cream for macaroons.
Vanilla Swiss Buttercream
115g unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ large egg whites
50g caster sugar
½ tbsp golden syrup
Drop vanilla extract
Scraping vanilla bean paste
(Icing sugar is necessary)
In a small bowl cream the butter until fluffy. In a larger bowl combine the egg white, caster sugar, golden syrup and vanilla paste. Place the bowl over a saucepan of lightly simmering water and whisk continuously until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is frothy and opaque.

Take off the heat and continue to whisk until fluffy and cooled. Add the butter a spoonful at a time, whisking well. The mixture might curdle but will come back together again.

My buttercream seemed really sloppy so I added some sieved icing sugar until it had a consistency that kept its shape.

Sandwich two macaroons with a spoonful of buttercream and serve on a pretty plate!
Happy Easter : )