Friday, 31 May 2013

GOOSEBERRY AND ELDERFLOWER BISCUITS

A fragrant and crisp elderflower biscuit topped with a gooseberry half that adds a melting tang to the centre. These little biscuits are a real, summery treat.
 
300g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
150g unrefined sugar
150g cold butter, cubed
5 tbsp elderflower cordial
10 gooseberries, each cut in half

Makes 20

Preheat oven to fan180/200c/4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or greased baking paper.
Mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and gradually add the elderflower cordial until a subtly fragrant dough forms. Roll out the dough to about the thickness of a £1 coin. You can cut the biscuits in whatever shape you want but I did them with a medium cutter then topped these biscuits with a smaller-cut one for the gooseberry to sit on. However you do them, keep rerolling out the dough off-cuts to make more. Once they are all cut top each with a gooseberry half and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, dropping from the top to bottom of the oven half way through. Once baked leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

ORANGE BLOSSOM ÉCLAIRS

After having a cracking response to my lemon profiteroles I thought I’d go the same direction in freshening up a similar treat; éclairs, this time with a different citrus. Not being a huge fan of whipped cream I thought I’d make these in the traditional way, with a crème patissiere, spiking this with orange zest. To make them the ultimate summery bake I took the orange theme to whole new fragrant level by topping with an orange blossom icing. I think they could rival the choc and cream combo in flavour stakes.

For the Choux Pastry
50g butter
200ml water
100g plain flour
Pinch salt and sugar
 3 eggs

For the Crème Patissiere filling
200ml milk
1 egg yolk
Splash of vanilla extract
1 tbsp caster sugar
20g corn flour
Zest of 1 orange

Orange blossom Icing
6tbp icing sugar
4 tsp orange blossom water (sometimes called orange flower water)

Makes 4

Begin the choux pastry by heating the butter and water in a pan until the butter has melted and it reaches a rolling boil. At this point turn off the heat and quickly add the flour, salt and sugar and beat with a wooden spoon until it forms a sort of blob that comes away from the sides of the pan. Transfer into a large bowl and spread a little to cool for about 15 minutes.

In this time heat the oven to fan180/200c/6 and place a baking tray right at the bottom. Line 2 baking trays with parchment.
Once the mixture has cooled to about room temperature, beat the eggs individually before adding them to the mixture one by one, and mixing in vigorously. The pastry should now be reasonably thick but drop from the spoon. Prepare a large piping bag with a rounded or flat nozzle and fill with the pastry. Pipe 4 long éclair-sized strips onto each tray, by piping two thin strips right next to each other and roughly smoothing out the dints on each with a wet finger. Fill the empty baking tray at the bottom of the oven with water then bake the pastry strips at the top for 15-20 minutes, or until puffed up and golden brown. Once baked leave to cool on a wire rack.

Whilst the pastry is cooling make the crème-pat filling. Put all the ingredients in a pan and bring to a gentle simmer, whisking throughout. Turn up the heat and boil for a few seconds until the custard thickens, still whisking vigorously so lumps don’t form. Once thick and glossy take off the heat and prepare a piping bag (I used a star nozzle).Its best to pipe this is warm because if you leave it to cool too long and try to stir again it will go lumpy. If you do, and it does, loosen with some more milk and pass through a sieve.  

Pipe the crème-pat onto 4 of the pastry strips in a row of generous, star shaped blobs and place on the 4 remaining strips to make a sandwich.

Little by little add the fragrant blossom water to the icing sugar to make a thick icing and smoothly spoon onto the top of each éclair. Enjoy the in sun!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

MANGO LAYER CAKE

I’m trying to capture the freshness of summer in my baking since the weather is actually failing us all. Bursting with homemade mango jam and mango butter cream, this cake is a sweet and sharp delight. The sponge is spiked with mango powder, a tangy spice I came across on my food writing course when a girl from Dubai brought a sachet for us to taste. At the time I thought it must have been a really exotic, but I actually found some in my local farm shop for 79p (which is more of a bargain store) and decided to test it in a sweet recipe (it’s normally used in savoury dishes). It adds a subtle tang, but if you can’t get hold of it don’t worry at all- the mango jam is the best part anyway, both on its own and when it livens up a traditional butter cream.

For the sponges
200g sugar
250g butter
4 eggs
2 tbsp milk
250g self raising flour
1 heaped tbsp mango powder

For the mango jam
1 ripe mango
100g sugar

For the butter cream
100g butter
250g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to fan150/170c/3. Grease and line 3 20cm cake tins.
Begin by creaming the sugar and butter until pale and fluty. Alternate mixing in the eggs and flour until you have a thick batter. Loosen with the milk. Sift in the mango powder (you will need to do this as it tends to clump easily). Pour the batter equally into the cake tins and bake for about 25 minutes at the bottom of the oven, or until golden brown and spring back when touched. Once baked, turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

In the meantime make the mango jam. Cut the mango and squeeze out all of the flesh and juice into a small sauce pan. Add the sugar and bring to boil on a high heat for about 10 minutes until thick, sweet and bright yellow. Set to one side to cool completely.

Once the cake and jam are cool, make the butter cream ready for assembling. Mix the butter with half of the icing sugar until it comes together then add a third of the mango jam. Mix in the remaining icing sugar to thicken.

Now you can assemble the cake. Take the first sponge and spoon over about a third of the mango butter cream and half of the mango jam, putting this towards the edges so it runs down the side a little. Do the exact same for the next layer. Place the final sponge a top of the already bursting 2 layers, and spoon over the remaining butter cream to finish.


 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

PEACH DOUGHNUTS

This is a beast of a recipe, and the peach jam really is the main event. It’s good enough on its own, but oozing out of some fresh, chunky doughnuts really makes for a special treat. The jam recipe makes enough to fill 6 large doughnuts, and a small jar left over, and for my first time experimenting with jam, I’ll definitely be making this one again. Just for novelty, I wanted to use doughnut peaches and call these ‘doughnut peach doughnuts’ but I could only get hold of the normal, yellow flesh variety, and the taste was top notch as it is anyway.

For the doughnuts
100ml milk
1 egg
Small knob of butter
190g strong white bread flour
1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
Half a sachet fast action yeast (about 4g)
Tiny pinch of salt

For the Jam
450g yellow flesh peaches (about 5)
150g sugar

To Finish- 2 tbsp caster sugar for rolling (I never buy this- I either blitz or grind granulated in a pestle and mortar)

Makes 6

Heat the milk and butter in a small sauce pan until it just begins starting to boil. Take of the heat and beat in the egg. Mix together the dry ingredients, keeping the salt and yeast separate from each other. Make a well in the centre and pour in the liquid ingredients to form a dough. Kneed on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes, or in a mixer with the dough- hook attachment for about 4. Once the dough is springy and smooth, place in a large bowl covered with oiled cling film and leave to rise in warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

In this time, make the jam. Split each peach in half around the stone and squeeze out all the flesh into a pan. If any specks of skin fall in, don’t worry, they’ll break down when boiling and add a depth of colour. Add the sugar and bring to boil. You won’t need to add any liquid because the peaches have enough as it is. As the peaches heat, break up any larger pieces of flesh with a fork to makes a smoother jam. Allow to boil rigorously for between 6 and 10 minutes, until the jam is thick, orange, beginning to set and smelling good! Leave to cool and at some point before frying put a few heaped tablespoons into a small piping bag fitted with a small-holed nozzle. You can pour the rest into a clean jam jar for other uses.

Once to dough has doubled in size, punch out all the air, kneed again for about 30 seconds, then split in half. Divide both halves into 3 balls, rolling each around in your hands and on a surface to get 6 doughnuts. Place onto a baking tray and cover loosely with the same cling-film, and leave to rise again until doubled (about 45 minutes).

Just before fully ready, either heat enough oil to fill about 1/3 of a pan, or a mini deep fat fryer. Once hot enough to brown a small chunk of bread in 30 seconds, carefully drop the doughnuts into the oil, 2 at a time. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, until firm and golden brown all way around. Drain the doughnuts on some kitchen paper then roll in caster sugar. Poke a hole through the side of each with a skewer then pipe a generous amount of the peach jam into each, until it spills out a little over the sides. Try and eat whilst still a little warm, that’s when they’re the best!

Friday, 3 May 2013

RHUBARB MUFFINS

Rhubarb is one of my favourite things, and being a Yorkshire boy, I do get the good stuff. I’m always trying to think of things to do with it, and this recipe makes a great feature of it. With a combination of grainy wholemeal flour, as well as plain, the chopped rhubarb, brown butter, a hint of vanilla and a subtly sweet rhubarb juice to combine the ingredients (made from the unusable parts) these muffins are quite special. Plus any leftover rhubarb juice can be mixed into some soda water for a sweet, summery beverage.

1 stick of rhubarb, about 150g
1 tbsp sugar
75g butter
1 egg, beaten in a bowl with ½ tsp of vanilla extract
50g wholemeal flour
100g plain flour
85g unrefined sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to fan180/200c/6

Line and grease a 6 holed muffin tin and either line with muffin cases or small squares of greaseproof paper pushed into the holes.

Chop the rhubarb into chocolate-chip size chunks. Put the bulb like end, which can’t really be used into a small sauce pan, along with any bits of bright pink skin that may have shed when chopping. Add 200ml water and the tablespoon of sugar. Gently bring to boil and stew until the water is lightly tinted with pink and has a sweet yet subtle rhubarb fragrance. Pass the liquid through a sieve and set to one side to cool.

Around the same time, add the butter to another small pan to brown. Heat for a couple of minutes until it picks up a nutty aroma and the colour gets darker. Take off the heat and leave to cool.
Mix together the dry ingredients. Add 75ml of the cooled rhubarb juice and the brown melted butter to the egg and mix well. To these wet ingredients, add the chopped rhubarb. Pour this into the dry ingredients and stir in until only just incorporated. You don’t want to over mix.

Spoon the batter into each lined muffin hole right to the top. Bake at the bottom of the oven for around 25 minutes, or until golden brown and they spring back when touched lightly. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, before transferring onto wire rack to cool completely.