Monday, 23 July 2012

Custard and Milk Chocolate Biscuits

This recipe is the milk chocolate version of the white ones that I made here. I wanted to see if they were just as tasty using milk instead of white (definitely) and also I needed some snacks for Truck Festival. For me British summers are all about the festivals. Where else can you cover yourself in glitter, listen to amazing live music and be socially allowed to consume a whole box of wine?! I’ve just been accepted to work at Bestival in September and I am SO excited because the line-up is crazy good.

The only bad thing about festivals is that if you are poor the only food you can afford is pretty rank. There is decent food about but if it costs 3 pints of cider then I won’t be buying it thank you verrrry much. The point is, make some biscuits instead, and then you don’t have to buy food.
5oz butter
6oz caster sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
8oz self-raising flour
2oz custard powder
1oz cocoa powder
3oz milk chocolate, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 170C/ Gas Mark 4. Line 2-3 baking trays with baking parchment. Combine the butter and sugar in a food processor until fluffy.

Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.

Sift in the flour, cocoa and custard powder. Pulse everything together to make a dough.

Roughly chop the chocolate on a wooden board and work into the dough by hand.

Roll the dough into little balls, placed well apart on the baking sheet to allow room for spreading. Flatten the top of the balls lightly with your finger. Bake for 15 minutes or until firm. Cool on a wire rack. (As you might be able to tell from the photos I’m completely crap at following my own recipes and forgot to flatten the balls of dough. It doesn’t really matter though if you forget too because they taste just as good but are simply a tad more spherical in shape…)

Now go out and enjoy the sunshine because knowing England it will probably only last a week and then start snowing.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Irish Buttermilk Soda Bread

This recipe is great for times when you need to produce some fresh bread at a moment’s notice. It doesn’t need to rise or prove and is ridiculously easy to make. It’s delicious warm with a little butter or toasted the next day.
450g wholemeal flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300ml buttermilk
3-4 tbsp water (if needed)
Preheat the oven to 200C, popping a baking tray in there to warm up. Sift the flour, bicarb and salt into a large mixing bowl.

Stir in the buttermilk using a flat knife. Add a spoonful of water at a time as necessary until the ingredients form a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it lightly for only a few minutes before shaping it into a round loaf.
Place it on the warmed tray sprinkled with some flour. Mark it into 4 with a sharp knife. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until well risen and brown. Cool on a wire rack. Laaaaavely.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Cheddar and Apple Bread

I love cheese. Like, REALLY love cheese. So much in fact that I specifically don’t buy it because after any sort of consumption of alcohol, a daily occurrence at university, I love nothing more than a beautiful toastie with lashings of HP. Sadly, this is not so good for the old arteries. When I saw the recipe for this cheddar and apple bread in Paul Hollywood’s new book I just knew it had to be done. I think it’s fair to say that my family share my love of cheese because the whole loaf was scoffed in record time. This would be a gorgeous loaf for a picnic or if you’re simply in need of some thoroughly British comfort food.
500g strong white bread flour
10g salt
10g instant yeast
300ml cool water
Olive oil
150g cheddar
2 dessert apples, sliced into small chunks
Measure out the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other (otherwise the salt kills the yeast).

Add about half the cool water and swirl the ingredients around with your fingers in what I call ‘The-Giant-Spider’ sort of shape. Add little splashes of water, mixing all the time until all the dry ingredients are combined. You might not need all the water so stop adding when the dough is soft. Sadly I don’t have octopus arms so I couldn’t take a photo of this stage without permanently damaging my dad’s scary expensive camera. The thing with bread making though is the more you do it, the more you know what you’re doing, so everyone should bake it all the time and before we know it we’ll all be bread goddesses/gods!
Splash a bit of olive oil onto your work surface and knead the dough for a good ten minutes. It should feel really soft and silky. Pop it into a bowl with lightly oiled sides (this is a great tip because the dough pops back out so easily after rising) and cover with a tea towel. Leave it to rise until at least doubled in size- around 1-2 hours.

Line a baking tray with parchment. When the dough has risen tip it out onto a lightly floured work surface and squish it down into a large rectangle, around 3cm thick.
Layer the cheddar and apple on one side of the dough, leaving a margin around the edges. Fold the dough in half and seal the edges. Pop it onto your prepared tray and cover the whole thing with a big plastic bag. Leave it to prove for about another hour until it’s doubled in size.

Heat the oven to 220C. Dust some flour on the loaf and prod your fingers in to make deep imprints all over the top. (Sorry I don’t have a picture for this bit, I left my mum to it while I went swimming and forgot to ask her for photo evidence!)
Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is a lovely golden brown. It’s absolutely delicious eaten warm so I ate some almost straight away with a bowl of soup. There is something so cathartic about making and eating your own bread. It tastes better than anything you can buy in the shops and is much cheaper than a therapist!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Sacher Torte

I fully intended to get up early yesterday morning and bake this so that we could have it after lunch but for some strange reason I couldn’t seem to move until about 2pm. This had absolutely nothing to do with the several glasses of wine/pints of cider I consumed Friday night, I’m sure…My hangover improved when I saw my mum had sneakily ordered Paul Hollywood’s new book off my dad’s Amazon account. Excitingly for me, because I am a loser, Mr Hollywood himself actually tweeted me ‘thank you’ after embarrassingly referring to his book as ‘baking porn’ on Twitter. It really is though; the pictures leave you wanting to actually lick the pages. Watch this space for a manic spree of bread baking in the coming weeks.

Anyway, after listening to my dad screaming up the stairs “where’s my torte?” I finally got on with it. It’s obviously not quite the same as eating it in sunny Vienna with a cup of coffee but I’d happily have a slice of this whilst watching Superstar any day.
150g plain chocolate (39% solids)
150g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
5 large eggs, separated
75g ground almonds
40g plain flour

For the icing
6 tbsp apricot jam
150g plain chocolate (39% solids)
200ml double cream
25g milk chocolate
Preheat the oven to 180/Gas Mark 4. Grease a 9 inch deep round cake tin and line the base with parchment.
Break the chocolate into small chunks and melt gently in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Stir it occasionally and then leave it to the side to cool once it’s completely melted.

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter until it’s light and fluffy. Beat the sugar into the butter in small batches until lovely and light.

Pour in the cooled chocolate and vanilla extract and beat everything together.

Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating as you go.

Gently fold in the ground almonds and flour.

In a different bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add around a third of the stiff egg whites to the chocolate mixture and stir quickly. Fold in the rest of the egg whites gently.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake for around 45-50 minutes or until the cake is well risen and springy. Leave it to cool for a few minutes in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

When the cake is completely cooled, heat the apricot jam and brush all over the cake. Leave this to set. Melt the plain chocolate as before adding the double cream. Leave it to cool and thicken for a couple of minutes before pouring all over the cake. While the icing is setting melt the milk chocolate and using a small icing bag pipe the word ‘Sacher’ across the cake.

This cake is super rich so serve it in small slithers and if you want to go mad add a dollop of fresh cream.