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.