Tuesday, 24 December 2013

MINCE CAKES

Call me mad for firstly attempting something other than a mince pie, and secondly uploading a mincemeat recipe on Christmas Eve. Well, I invented these not to rival the mince pie (that’s impossible) but for something different, and for my grandad who can’t eat pastry. As for the Christmas Eve upload, I’ve always treated this blog as an online recipe book, so these beauties will be stored on here until next year.

These little sponges are spiked and filled with mincemeat and actually look quite charming as well. I didn’t have time to make my own mincemeat (don’t judge) but you can find a good recipe anywhere really. There’s a good one on my favourite, non baking blog, Miss Jojangles. I’ve been meaning to shout out this blog for a while, since Jojo helped me with the mind boggling world of HTML so that I could have that cool font on my link buttons and no borders on my pictures. If you’re into crafts, it’s a blog for you, and even if you’re not (I don’t have the attention span, or talent for any craft) Jojo’s writing is mega entertaining. I really need to write my recipe instruction like she does, kitchen disasters n’all. My favourite post was her appreciation of my Fat Rascals, mainly because it talks about a mega dream of hers I was in. I’ll say no more, go look at this gem for yourself.

250 butter
250g unrefined sugar
4 eggs
250g self raising flour
4 tbsp mincemeat (plus 6 heaped tsps for the filling)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Splash of milk

Makes 6

Heat the oven to fan 160/180c/4. Grease 2, 6 holed Yorkshire pudding tins (the reasonably flat ones) or whatever tins you have, depending on what size you want the cakes.

Cream together the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy. Alternate beating in the eggs and flour, then spoon in the mincemeat and mix well. Zest in the lemon, then squeeze in the juice and stir. Loosen with the milk if the batter is a bit too thick.

Spoon the batter equally into the tins then bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and springy.  Transfer onto a wire rack to cool, but while still warm, cut a star shape out of 6 of the sponges. You can either eat, or make something else out of the stars. To assemble, take the other 6 halves and spoon a heaped tsp of mincemeat onto each and spread a little. Top with the star punctured sponges and dust with icing sugar. 
Merry Crimbo! 



Tuesday, 17 December 2013

GINGERBREAD LADS

This recipe should have been on the blog since I first started, it’s a massively obvious, but better late than never. The biscuit itself is pretty conventional, although I use some black treacle to give a deeper, richer flavour, and lemon icing to make the decoration taste good as well as look good. Now for the best part: the shapes. You’ll notice these lads are doing all sort. One’s doing kick ups, 3 of them are on holiday, one has got a girlfriend, one has got a son, one is doing movember, and one is me. They’re all a bit wonky, but no lad is perfect, even if made from gingerbread.

200g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
75g butter
100g soft brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp black treacle
1 tbsp golden syrup

For the icing
2 tsp lemon juice
3 tbsp icing sugar

Sift together the flour, bicarb, ginger and cinnamon then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar then make a well in the mixture. Beat together the egg, treacle and golden syrup and pour into the well. Mix until it clumps together into a dough. Shape into a ball, wrap in some cling film then pop in the fridge for about 15 minutes to rest.

Heat the oven to fan160/180c/4 and line 2 baking trays. Once the dough has rested get it out of the fridge and roll around a little in your hands to warm up and make it easier to roll out. Lightly dust the surface and dough with flour, then roll out of the dough and begin to cut, to whatever shapes and thickness you want.

Once all are done, bake towards to bottom of the oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden and firm. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the decoration, mix together the lemon juice and icing sugar until really thick and spoon into a small piping bag, with the thinnest nozzle fitted. Pine of eyes, and mouths and any other features you want the ginger people to have.  I used a little bit of lemon zest for the hair. Ginger bodies, blonde locks.



Monday, 9 December 2013

WHITE CHOCOLATE AND CRANBERRY FUDGE

I think fudge is the best gift to give to someone. It’s delicious, surprisingly easy to make, sturdy and keeps for quite a while. Speaking of surprisingly easy, it actually is. I thought this one might have been a disaster, and I thought of different ways I could make it, but I didn't’t really want to go down the melting marshmallow route, or the route where you have to keep frozen. This is just a boil and stir job, it takes time but hardly any effort. I made this recipe for my uni friend to sell at a Christmas stall, where she was raising money for sands charity, a very worthy cause. They sold well, and I’m making them again to share in my seminar at uni, for the last one of the best module ever. When I make my own recipe twice, so close together, that’s when I know it’s a good one. She’s a keeper.

50g butter
150g caster sugar
150ml milk
80g white chocolate
30g dried cranberries

Makes between 24 and 30 pieces (depending on the size you cut them).

Grease and line a small tin with a little bit of oil. Put the butter, sugar and milk in a small saucepan and gently bring to boil, stirring continuously throughout. Once boiling, gently simmer, whilst still stirring, for about 15-20 minutes. It will not thicken right until the last minute, so don’t be alarmed if it seems really watery.

To test the mixture is ready, spoon a little bit out and drop it into a glass of cold water. If you can reach into the glass, roll the mixture into a squidgy ball that you can press flat, then it is ready. This is called soft ball stage, but I didn’t want to frighten you with an unexplained technical term, which really is really quite simple.

Once at this stage, turn off the heat and throw in the chocolate and cranberries. Mix a little until the chocolate is melted then begin to beat rigorously, until the mixture thickens so it clings to the spoon, and loses its gloss.


Spoon into the tin and leave to set, just as it is, don’t put it in the fridge. It should take about 1-2 hours to set properly, and when firm, but a tiny bit squidgy, cut into chunks and enjoy.


Monday, 2 December 2013

BRANDY BREAD ICE CREAM

I don’t think I’ve mention it on here yet but I’m currently studying an MA in English literature and when coming to chose a dissertation topic I had no clue. I then discovered that my uni has a massive food section in their special, archived collections, and one thing led to another and I’m now doing a food writing dissertation, researching the work of Michael Bateman. Anyway, along the way I came across letters between him and the likes of Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson (hand written ones) which I thought was really cool, then I procrastinated and got out a Jane Grigson book about British food. In it was a recipe for ‘brown bread ice cream’ I was really intrigued by, and this is an adaptation of that. If you need any reassurance that this recipe is good, it’s that Grigson wrote the inspiration for it. She was one of the best food writers, alongside side Bateman as my dissertation will tell.

1 brown bread cake, torn into bite size chunks and soaked in 4 tbsp brandy
300ml double cream
200ml single cream
120g icing sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp brandy

Heat the oven to fan200/220c/6. Put the soaked chunks of bread onto a tray and bake for about 20 minutes, tossing half way, until golden and crisp. These will be like little bursts of chewy brandy when mixed through the ice cream.

Beat together the double and single cream with the icing sugar, until starting to thicken. Mix together the yolks of the eggs (save the whites!) with the brandy then mix into the cream. Gently fold in the cooled chunks of brandy bread. Finally, whip up the egg whites until stiff then fold through the mixture.


Freeze for at least 6 hours, but overnight is the best bet. 


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

CARROT AND ORANGE CAKE

I did have a recipe planned for this week which should have been on the blog since day 1 but I’ve been that busy that I didn’t get time to make them. They’ll be up soon. Not saying any more. This recipe is one I’ve had saved in times of madness, so technically it’s the understudy although it really deserves a prime spot. Everyone loves carrot cake but I personally didn’t like the idea of putting a load of sunflower oil in a cake, so thought I’d use browned butter instead for a subtle nuttiness. The other ingredients are pretty traditional because classics shouldn’t be messed with (adding orange seems popular) but I do add a tiny bit of orange flower water to the frosting to give it extra freshness.

150g butter
180g light brown sugar
3 eggs
3 carrots, peeled and grated
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest and juice of 1 orange
210g self raising flour
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
Good grating of nutmeg

For the frosting
250g soft cheese, room temperature
50g butter, room temperature
200g icing sugar
1 tsp orange flower water

Preheat the oven to fan160/180c/4. Line and grease a square brownie/cake tin.
Begin by brown the butter. Melt in a small sauce pan on a gentle heat. Once melted allow to bubble until it shows light brown when stirred and smells nutty. Take off the heat and leave to cool.

Mix together the sugar eggs and carrots, then pour in the melted brown butter. Zest in the lemon and orange, then squeeze in the juice of the orange and stir. Sieve in the flour then spike with the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Mix well then pour into the cake tin and bake towards the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and firm. It will be quite dense due to the carrots, and this is what a carrot cake should be like.
Once baked, turn out of the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.


To make the frosting, beat the soft cheese until smooth and silky, then beat in the butter. Add the icing sugar and mix, then spoon in the fragrant flower water. Spoon onto the top of the cake, and swirl around. Grate over some orange zest and nutmeg to finish.  


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

FRAGRANT DELIGHT BARK

I’ve been wanting to make something which uses pink peppercorns for a while now. I think their perfume suits sweet treats more so than savoury recipes. Dark chocolate tends to go well with fragrant flavours, so I thought I’d put the pink peppercorns on a bark and make little sweets, sort of like firmer Turkish delight, to sit next to them. This is a really easy and charming looking confection which would be great to wrap up as a gift. I’m nowhere near as prepared in other means for the upcoming festive season.

100ml water
4 leaves of gelatine
3 tsp rose water
200g sugar
A few drops food colouring, (I used a little red and yellow)
200g dark chocolate
2 tsp pink peppercorns

Put the water in a small saucepan and add the gelatine leaves and allow to sit for about 5 minutes before turning on the heat, adding the sugar and rose water and brining to boil. Once boiling reduce to simmer for about 20 minutes. In this time line and oil a small tray. Turn off the heat and quickly stir in the colouring. Pour into the tray and leave to set overnight.

To make the bark, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie). Once melted, pour onto a baking tray and smooth out until reasonably thin. Quickly chop up the rose flavoured sweets into random chunks and scatter over the chocolate alongside the peppercorns and leave to set. This can take about an hour.


Once set cut or snap into random pieces and enjoy, or wrap up to give as a gift. 


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

VANILLA AND HAZELNUT STICKY BUNS

Me and my mate decided to experiment with our baking the other week and chose to make cinnamon sticky buns, which neither of us had made. Despite the name, I'm not a massive bread expert. They turned out brilliantly, we were both shocked, and then I thought I’d make my own (probably the first time I've ever tested an actual recipe before then trying to make it original). I don’t know why vanilla and hazelnut sprung to mind, but it did, and I'm glad it did. The combination is a winner, and the result is a sticky, almost caramelised outer bun giving way to a soft, sweetened bread held together by a vanilla filling and crunchy hazelnuts. I prefer these to the cinnamon ones.

400g strong white bread flour
40g light brown sugar
Pinch salt
1 ½ tsp fast action dried yeast
65g butter
1 egg (plus one egg yolk for glazing)
Around 200ml milk

For the filling
80g butter, room temperature
100g soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
75g hazelnuts, chopped

For the topping
6 tbsp icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp water 

Makes 9

Mix together all of the flour, sugar, salt and yeast (keeping these two separate) then rub in the butter until the mixture roughly resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and crack in the egg. Slowly add the milk and stir until you get a sticky dough. Kneed for 10 minutes, or about 5 in a mixer with the dough hook attachment, until the dough is soft and springy. You need to be able to pull a little bit off, stretch it, hold it up to light and see your finger’s shadow through it, without it ripping.

Place into a lightly oiled bowl covered with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1½ hours. Its good to make these at this time of the year, because the radiator tends to be on.

In the meantime make the filling. Beat together the butter and sugar and loosen with the vanilla extract until you have a sweet paste. Grease and line a square brownie tin, about 20cmx20cm.

Once the dough has rise, knock the air out with your fist and kneed for about 30 seconds. With a rolling pin, begin to roll lengthways to form a long rectangle. You want it to be the thickness of a one pound coin, so keep at it, it can be a bit tricky as the dough often wants to spring back. Once you have an even-ish rectangle, spoon over the vanilla paste and spread all over, getting right to the edges of the dough. Sprinkle over the chopped hazelnuts, evenly distributed. Now the filling is done, begin to roll. You want to do it from the lengthways, so you end up rolling the longest side into a really long sausage and try to keep it as tight as possible. Once you have the roll, chop it into 9 equal sized swirls and place each into the tin, evenly spaced in rows of 3, with the swirl facing upwards. Cover with a damp cloth again and leave to rise for about another hour.

Heat the oven to fan180/200c/6. Once risen, brush the tops of the buns with the egg yolk and bake for 10 minutes in the top of the oven before dropping down to the bottom and reducing the heat to fan160/180c/5 and baking for a further 15 minutes.

Once baked, allow to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes before removing and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack. To finish, mix the icing sugar, vanilla and water until you have a thick icing and drizzle randomly over the top. I like to do this while the buns are still a little bit warm, and eat one straight away. 


Monday, 4 November 2013

GINGER BEER CAKE

Yep, I’ve gone and put beer in a cake again. This one is not so radical though, the flavour of ginger is hardly unfamiliar in baking, but I do use alcoholic ginger beer because it has an extra depth flavour and warmth, but you could easily use the soft stuff. This is a brilliant alternative to a parkin because you don’t need to let it rest for 3 days, just crack open a bottle, mix it in with other cake ingredients, drizzle with a spiky ginger beer icing and spruce up with some crystalised ginger and there you have it. A ginger beer cake just in time for bonfire night.
If you’d prefer a parkin, I have a recipe here.


100g butter, room temperature
180g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
280g wholemeal self raising flour
300ml alcoholic ginger beer (buy a bottle with a little bit more in, you need some for the icing and then can drink the left over)
½ tsp ginger
1 tbsp black treacle

Icing
6 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp ginger beer
A few chunks of crystalised ginger for decoration (optional)

Preheat oven to fan180/200c/6. Grease and lightly flour a small loaf tin.
Cream together the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, with a little bit of the flour then begin to alternate adding the rest of the flour and ginger beer until you get a thick batter. Add the ginger and drizzle in the treacle and mix. Pour into the tin and bake at the bottom of the oven for about 40-45 minutes, lowering the heat by about 20°/1 gas mark half way through baking (not that necessary, but just stops the cake catching too much). If you cake does appear to be catching, put a piece of baking paper over the top of the tin. It should be golden and springy when baked. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before taking out and leaving to cool on a wire rack completely.


To make the icing, mix together the icing sugar and ginger beer. Drizzle randomly over the cooled cake then arrange the ginger in a line down the centre, or where the cake cracks a bit in the oven, because it will sit easier there. Enjoy in front of the fireworks. 



Tuesday, 29 October 2013

TOFFEE APPLE PARCELS

Besides blazing summer and snow-deep winters, this time of year is the best. The dark nights are still a novelty and made pleasant with fireworks and the smell of bonfires and the flavours of this season are top notch. Here I take the classic bonfire night treat, the toffee apple, put it into a filo pastry case and deep fry it to make the ultimate autumnal treat. You get a crisp and sugary pastry giving way to buttery stewed apples and a small touch of a rich toffee sauce. All you need now is a fire to eat them round.

A knob of butter
2 large baking apples, peeled and diced into small chunks around the core
2 tbsp soft brown sugar

For the Toffee Sauce
80g soft brown sugar
Knob of butter
A couple splashes of milk

To assemble
Filo pastry sheets, about 12 (amount will vary on how well you wrap)
A small knob of butter melted in a pan for brushing the pastry
A couple of tablespoons of unrefined sugar for rolling

Makes 6

Melt the butter in a pan then throw in the apples. Add the sugar and fry for about 7-8 minutes until soft, but the apples still hold their shape.

Make the sauce by melting the sugar and butter together in a small saucepan. Once gooey loosen with enough milk to make a thick and glossy sauce. Leave to simmer on a low heat for about 1 minute, just to make sure it’s all smooth.

Heat a deep-fat fryer to about 180° while you make the parcels. Either that or add enough oil to shallow fry in a large pan. By the time you’re with the parcels, the oil will need to be hot enough to brown a small cube of bread in 20-30 seconds.


Take the filo pastry sheets and brush all over with the butter, continuously as you go along, so that every part is covered and sticky. Cut the sheets in half and use about 4 halves layered for each parcel. Take a tablespoon of the apples and place in the centre of the sheets then top with a small amount of the toffee sauce. Wrap the filo sheets around the filling to make a sausage-like shape then pinch the ends together to seal. If there are any rips or holes, tear some of the spare pastry off, brush with butter and patch over the gaps. Don’t worry about exact sizes or how untidy they are because they tend to get roughed up a bit whilst frying anyway. 

Once you have all 6 parcels carefully drop into the hot oil, 2 at a time and fry for about 2-3 minutes, flipping in between. When golden and crisp remove from the oil, pat with a little kitchen paper then roll in the unrefined sugar. Enjoy!


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

PUMPKIN PIES

First things first (and you’ll probably know if you’re reading this because of my badge to the left) I WON BEST YOUNG BLOGGER AT BLOG NORTH AWARDS. I was mega shocked, and had to say a few words which consisted of shaking and looking glacially over a crowd full of people, then grinning like an idiot. Cheers to everyone who voted and the judges who described this blog as “Quirky, creative and beautifully presented, with clear and characterful writing.” I Still can’t believe it.

Moving on the recipe, my mates have been asking me to make this for a while even though they hadn’t tried it, and nor had I. They just like this season. So I went into this blind, but ever wanting to make them unique (running before I walk) decided a heavily spiced pumpkin (technically butternut squash because I had one already) would work well with chocolate pastry. Much to my surprise, as with loads of my recipes, it did. The recipe has become one of my favourites, and I'm well proud of the picture of these moody looking pies (technically tarts) too!

About 400g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped
75g unrefined sugar
A good grating of nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 eggs, beaten
A splash of milk
½  tbsp golden syrup

For the pastry
250g flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp icing sugar
125g cold butter, cut into cubes
About 75ml water

Put the pumpkin/squash in a pan with some boiling water and allow to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the cooked through and tender. Drain and allow to cool.

Make the pastry by mixing together the flour, cocoa and icing sugar then either rub in the butter or blitz, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Slowly pour in the water until the pastry just about forms then shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to fan180/200c/6. Grease any tins you desire for whatever size you want the tarts to be. I made 8 medium ones and 12 small.
Once rested, take the pastry out of the fridge to warm up a little while you prepare the filling.

Force the pumpkin/squash through a sieve so it is like a smooth purée. Add the sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon then the eggs. Mix and then loosen with the milk and golden syrup. Set to one side.  

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface. Cut to the size of the holes in the tins, rerolling and repeating until all fill, then press down to create a shell and prick the bases with a fork. Spoon in the filling to the very top of each shell and bake for about 20 minutes until the filling is cooked, but still soft to touch, and the pastry is firm. Leave to cool on a wire rack then enjoy!


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

GINGER AND TROPICAL FRUIT TIFFIN

This sounds a lot more exotic than it actually is. Lately I’ve found myself opting for tiffin as my lunch time confection. To make it different myself I thought chewy crystallised ginger would go well with the dark (but not too dark) chocolate. To counteract the heat I add small candied pieces of fruit, but not the usual glace cherries or raisins. Instead I opted for chunks of dried tropical fruit which you can buy in supermarkets, making a tiffin which is rich and chewy, with bursts of sunny sweetness and kick.

50g dark chocolate
150g milk chocolate
80g butter

1 tbsp golden syrup
110g candied fruit pieces (I used 55g pineapple and 55g papaya)
55g crystallised ginger, chopped into little chunks

For the topping
150g dark chocolate
50g milk chocolate
A small knob of butter
1 tbsp golden syrup

Line a 20x20cm brownie tin.
Begin by melting the dark and milk chocolate together with the butter in a bowl over a pan of boiling water (a bain-marie). Once melted add the golden syrup to make glossy then throw in the fruit pieces and ginger. Stir in until coated and the mixture becomes sticky then spoon into the tin. Spread the chocolate coated fruit and ginger across the tin making sure you press down and level out.

Use the same bowl and pan for the topping. Melt together all of the ingredients until rich and glossy then pour over the base. Tip the tin around so the melted chocolate covers the chunky base then put in the fridge to set. It should take about 2 hours. Once set, cut the tiffin into 12 pieces. I like to do them in little triangular wedges.
 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

APPLE, PEAR AND QUINCE CRUMBLE WITH QUINCE SYRUP

My mam recently brought home a bag packed full of tiny quinces from someone she knows. I was thinking that there is a lack of recipes which make quinces their focus so I thought I’d put them in a crumble. A handful of quince flesh was all I had to show for half an hour’s worth of peeling, chopping and a sliced finger nail. So I bulked it up with other crumble favourites and let the quinces serve as an occasional fragrant pop. But I didn’t let the quinces get entirely lost. I bypassed the peeling and chopping by chucking the rest of them in a pan, boiling up until stewed and then making a syrup out of them. The syrup is mega powerful; it whacks you at the back of the throat with its tartness, so I recommend serving the sweet and warming crumble with ice-cream and then pouring over to liven things up.

The juice of 1 lemon
350g quinces     
5 apples     
2 pears
85g sugar
Crumble Topping
160g flour
100g unrefined sugar (it adds more crunch)
75g cold butter

Quince Syrup
450g quinces
150g sugar
Splash of vanilla
Pinch cinnamon
40g butter

Preheat oven to fan180/200/6
Squeeze lemon juice into the pan you’re going to stew the fruit in to stop browning. Peel and chop the quinces around the core, and then do the same for the apples and pears. Bring to boil with the sugar and about 100ml water and stew until the fruit just beings to strew. Take off the heat and set to one side while you make the topping.

Rub all of the topping ingredients together in a bowl until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Pour the fruit into an oven proof dish then sprinkle over the crumble topping, and even out slightly. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and crisp on the top.

In the meantime make the syrup. Put all the quinces, as they are in a large pan and pour over 400ml water. Bring to boil and strew for about 15 minutes until they break down and turn syrup-like. Take off the heat and strain through a sieve into another pan, pushing all of the juice/flavour out of the quinces. Add the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon to the quince liquid and bring to boil. Keep simmering until it starts to thicken then add the butter to make glossy. Once thick take off the heat. Leave to cool slightly and serve with crumble. 


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

CURD TART

Lately I’ve been starting the posts with food writing news and I do have some more, but I want the blog to stay true to what I first intended, and so I have the best recipe to fit my humble baking theme. This is a recipe my mam asked me to make, and I’d never actually had it before. Making curds seemed daunting at first, but it was actually ridiculously easy, and put in a tart, absolutely delicious. It’s hard to describe the flavour; it’s homely and tastes like proper old fashioned baking, even though those two things aren’t flavours at all. Most curd tart recipes contain raisins, but I thought something with a little more flavour which would provide a sharp pop against the rich curd filling would suit better, so I add blueberries. This is a Yorkshire classic for a reason.

In terms of the exciting news, my local Tesco/Costa café have asked me to do a demonstration night where I can sell mini books of my recipes. Crazy.
1 litre full fat milk
The juice of one lemon
100g butter, room temperature
100g unrefined sugar
2eggs
75g blueberries

For the Pastry
200g flour
100g butter
2 tbsp icing sugar
About 200ml cold water, give or take a little
Make the curds by gently heating the milk, and once it reaches a steady boil add the lemon juice. Turn down the heat and watch the curds form, you can gently stir to help steady it along. Once you have lumps floating in liquid take off the heat and leave to cool. Drain the liquid (which is the whey) through a tea towel over a container so that you catch the curds in the tea towel and can keep the whey. Allow to strain in the fridge over night.
Make the pastry by blitzing the flour, butter and icing sugar, or rubbing in by hand. Slowly add the water and mix until a dough just about forms. Transfer it onto a sheet of cling-film, wrap around and press into a ball. Chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Preheat the oven to fan160/180c/4. Grease a fluted tart tin.
Take the curds out of the fridge ready to make the filling. Keep the whey for making anything which requires buttermilk as it has the same sort of flavour. Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then mix in the eggs. Add the curds to this mixture and beat well to break up any larger lumps. The mixture won’t look attractive but will taste delicious when baked. Add the blueberries and mix to disperse. Set to one side.
Take the pastry out of the fridge and leave to warm up for 5 minutes then roll out on a floured surface. Transfer the rolled pastry onto the tart tin. Pull a little bit of the pastry from the bits that hang over and use it to press the pastry fully into the tart tin. Take a sharp knife and trim off the edges then collect these off cuts together and freeze, or make something else like jam tarts now.
Pour the curd mixture into the pastry case and level out. Bake for 40 minutes towards the bottom of the oven until golden brown and firm, and the pastry is cooked. Leave to cool a little and either eat now, or cool completely and pop in the fridge. I find it tastes better after a night in the fridge as the flavours develop.

 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

NUTTY CHOCOLATE CAKE

I feel it’s time I posted a celebratory recipe, not only for the blog being one, but also because I’ve been shortlisted for ‘best young blogger’ at the 2013 Blog North Awards!!! I’ve been grinning from ear to ear since finding out, and if you want me to grin even more, you can help me win and vote for me here. Cheers! Anyway, the best way to celebrate is always with a cake. I made this one for my dad’s birthday back in July but I thought the flavours would be better for the coming-colder season (I went mad for fresh flavours in the summer, in case you didn’t notice). It’s adapted from a milk chocolate cake my mum makes once a year which is the only chocolate cake she’ll really eat because it’s not too rich or fudgey in any way. I like a bit of fudge, but instead of just making it chocolatier I added it in the form of peanut butter, and then also added more texture by using the crunchy variety. The result is a nutty, chocolaty (but not over chocolaty) beauty.

For the sponge

200g self raising flour
225g caster sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
¾ tsp salt
110g butter
2 eggs beaten with 5 tbsp milk
Splash vanilla
2 tbsp chunky peanut butter
For the ganache
60g butter
4tbsp cocoa powder
225g icing sugar
3tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

For the peanut butter cream

90g butter
180g sugar
2 tbsp peanut butter

Preheat oven to fan160/180c/4. Line and grease 2 20cm cake tins.
To make the sponge, sieve together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt and then rub in the butter. Gradually stir in the eggs and milk, then add the vanilla and peanut butter to perk up the flavour. Pour equally between the cake tins and bake for 30-35mins at the bottom of the oven until risen and the sponge survives the skewer test. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
In the meantime make the ganache. Melt the butter then stir in the cocoa powder. When melted, take off the heat then add the icing sugar and loosen with the milk and vanilla. Beat rigorously until thick and smooth. It will thicken more as it sits.
For the butter cream beat the butter until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the icing sugar then add the peanut butter until cream coloured.

Now you can assemble the cake. Spread the butter cream over one of the cakes then top with the other. Top with the ganache, in a swirly pattern with the spoon. To finish, sprinkle over some roughly chopped pistachios (optional) and enjoy.
 

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

THE BLOG IS ONE

WHEEEEEEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!
A bit of a different post today, and I’m not too keen on different because I like to keep the blog organised, a recipe a week is the strict system I try to stay to. But today is special. The blog is one year old today and it’s been a mint venture. I’m proud of all the recipes on here; I can’t believe that they old turned out right (being honest they all didn’t, but those ones did not make the blog). It struck me one day that what I’m doing must be working because I actually make my own recipes when people come round now- I have my own go-to bakes, and that makes me feel proud.

That's a pic of me and some buds in celebration mode (on a mates holiday in Spain earlier this year). A little more blurry eyed than suitable for a 1st birthday.

To celebrate I thought I’d post my favourite recipes, and some other things I’ve been doing separate to the blog.
My favourite recipe to impress
HONEYDEW CHEESECAKE 


 
My favourite and most delicious recipe for having mates round
PEACH DOUGHNUTS





































The recipe I was surprised worked/my favourite photograph
VANILLA SLICES




































My favourite family recipe
CARAWAY CAKE




































My favourite spruce up of an old Yorkshire recipe
SLY CAKES

 


































My favourite festive recipe
CINDER TOFFEE TART






































In other news I’ve taken my food writing further than the blog. I was published in olive, which actually is my ultimate favourite recipe. I’ve also started writing student recipes for my university newspaper (Leeds Student). You can read my first feature for them here , including this chorizo burger (yep, I can do savoury as well).  One more thing, just recently I was emailed by StudentCom who have asked me to be their food writer, and they want me as the ginger bread lad. So not only have my recipes and writing impressed, my persona has as well. I'll post my features on twitter as soon as they go live.

Here’s to many more years of the ginger bread lad, and hopefully more impact from me in the world of food writing. If you want me for anything, get in touch, I’m thirsty for the experience.

To finish I thought I’d sneak peek the latest thing I’ve been working on for Leeds Student, a pre-drinks feature which seems fitting for the celebratory post. Cool and Fiery tequila and Lemonade. CHEERS!