Monday, 20 November 2017

Cheesecake Raspberry Brownies (Wheat Free, with Dairy Free Option)


I absolutely love cheesecake, and I absolutely love brownies--so does my lovely companion--so what would be better than merging the two into one fabulous morsel? Fudgy, dense, dark brownie smothered in rich, thick, creamy cheesecake, swirled with tangy, fruity raspberry jam; what's not to like?

I've seen lots of recipes online for cheesecake brownies, but usually the brownie mixture and the cheesecake mixture are partially mixed together then baked simultaneously as one large confection; it's not common to see them cooked as two separate layers. This was a delicious experiment, which led to another trial with the ever illusive perfect brownie recipe.

This brownie recipe is another variation on my recent trials with replacing flour in cake recipes: by replacing two-thirds of the flour in a classic sponge cake with dark chocolate, and omitting the liquid, you get a deliciously dense brownie.

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DIFFICULTY
Simple techniques, but time consuming

TIME
2 hours, plus an overnight chill

RECIPE RATING
Intermediate

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INGREDIMENTS

Makes one 9 inch (22 centimetre) square cheesecake brownie

2 medium (US Large) eggs
4 ounces (115 grammes) unsalted butter, or baking margarine
4 ounces (115 grammes) plain or dark chocolate, 55%-70% cocoa, or dairy-free chocolate
3 ounces (85 grammes) soft light brown sugar
3 ounces (85 grammes) caster sugar
2 ounces (55 grammes) plain spelt flour
2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) vanilla
Up to 2 tablespoons (up to 30 millilitres) cocoa powder, to taste


Cheesecake topping

1 pound (455 grammes) full fat cream cheese, or silken tofu, or unsweetened coconut cream
6 fluid ounces (170 millilitres) Greek yoghurt, or sour cream, or soya yoghurt, or coconut yoghurt
4 ounces (115 grammes) caster sugar
2 medium (US Large) eggs
1 tablespoon (15 millilitres vanilla essence

Jammy topping

4 fluid ounces (115 millilitres) seedless raspberry jam
2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) cornflour
1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) lemon juice

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FREE FROM
Nuts, gluten, yeast

CONTAINS
Eggs, spelt, dairy (dairy free option in italics), maize, refined sugar

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

METHOD

First, make the brownie layer

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F, Gas Mk.3), line a 9 inch (22 centimetre) square tin with tin foil, and lightly grease the tin foil.
  • In a microwave safe bowl, or heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate together. Allow to cool slightly.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sugars with an electric mixer until pale and thickened in consistency.
  • Beat in the vanilla, and then slowly add the melted chocolate in a stream, beating all the time with the electric mixer, until all the chocolate is incorporated.
  • Sieve in the flour, then fold through gently with a metal spoon or silicone spatula. Pour the mixture into the tin, and smooth out the top as much as you can.
  • Bake for 20 minutes on the centre shelf, or until the top is dry and a cocktail stick comes out clean when poked into the middle of the cake. Allow to cool completely in the tin on a wire rack.
Then, make the cheesecake layer

  • Place the jam in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it melts and begins to simmer. Mix the cornflour, lemon juice, and a few teaspoons of water together in a cup to make a slurry.
  • Beat in the slurry and continue to cook for a minute or two, until the mixture thickens. Allow to cool completely before using in the cheesecake.
  • Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F, Gas Mk.2)
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a wooden spoon until smooth, and then beat in the yoghurt, or sour cream. Mix the sugar in gently until completely incorporated.
  • Gently mix in the eggs, one at a time, until completely blended. Try not to beat to hard, as beating the eggs can add in too much air and cause the cheesecake to crack.
  • Pour the mixture out onto the brownie layer, smooth out as well as you can, then dollop the jam on top in polka dots all over the top.
  • Using a cocktail stick or thin knife, swirl the jam into the cheesecake. I did this by running the cocktail stick back and forth in across, then up and down, then diagonally.
  • Bake on the centre shelf for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the outside edge of the cake is firm and set, but the centre is still a little jiggly. It shouldn't be liquidy, just jiggly like a firm jelly.
  • Open the oven door and turn off the oven, and allow it to cool to room temperature, about an hour or two. Transfer the cheesecake to the fridge and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

STORAGE
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Bakewell Gateau (Wheat Free, with Dairy Free Option)


My Dad celebrated his 57th birthday this year! It was a lovely day: he got some nice presents, like some new bubble baths and books on watercolors--which is a new hobby of his--and we got a lovely dinner made by my brother's fiancée (with his help).

So, to commemorate this special occasion, I decided to make a cake version of my Dad's favourite pastry: Bakewell tart! I've only had one brush with the iconic English delight on this blog in the past, and it was just a fairly straightforward traybake re-imagining to save some time on making individual pastry cases.

This cake pays homage to the delicious shortbread pastry case by encircling the whole perimeter with shortbread biscuits. The cake itself is made from two thick layers of buttery almond sponge, inspired by the dense, moist frangipane sponge usually found in a Bakewell tart. And you can't make this kind of cake without sweet fondant-style icing and glacé cherries!

Please set aside a good 5 hours to make this: it's not technically complicated, but it's time consuming. In fact, this tastes much better the day after it's made, not on the day.

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DIFFICULTY
Simple sponge cake and shortbread making, and layer cake constructing

TIME
About 5 hours

RECIPE RATING
Experienced: time consuming

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INGREDIMENTS

Makes one deep 8 inch (20 centimetre) round cake

9 ounces (250 grammes) caster sugar
6 ounces (170 grammes) unsalted butter, or baking margarine, at room temperature
3 medium (US Large) eggs, at room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons (5 to 10 millilitres) almond essence, to taste
1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) vanilla essence
4 fluid ounces (115 millilitres) whole milk, or milk alternative
Pinch of salt
4½ ounces (130 grammes) white spelt flour
4½ ounces (130 grammes) ground almonds
2½ teaspoons (12 millilitres) baking powder


Jam Filling

4 fluid ounces (115 millilitres) seedless raspberry jam
2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) cornflour
1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) lemon juice


Shortbread Biscuits

3½ ounces (100 grammes) white spelt flour
1 ounces (30 grammes) cornflour
3 ounces (85 grammes) salted butter, or baking margarine
1½ ounces (40 grammes) sugar


To decorate

8 ounces (225 grammes) icing sugar
1 ounce (30 grammes) butter, melted, or coconut oil, or baking margarine
Hot water, to mix
7 glacé cherries, cut in half

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

FREE FROM
Wheat, yeast

CONTAINS
Spelt, eggs, dairy (dairy free option in italics), refined sugar, nuts

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

METHOD

First, make the biscuits to decorate the outside

  • In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and icing sugar together until smooth. Sieve in the spelt flour and cornflour, and rub into the mixture with your fingers until you have a soft dough. Wrap in cling film, flatten into a disc, and chill for about an hour.
  • If you like, while the dough is chilling, you can prepare the cake.
  • Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F, Gas Mk.2), and line one or two flat sheets with a piece of non-stick baking paper.
  • Dust the work surface with cornflour and roll out to about a quarter inch (5 millimetres) thick. Cut into rectangles measuring 1 by 2½ inches (2½ by 6½ centimetres) with a straight blade or a fluted pastry wheel. You can re-roll the dough twice to cut more biscuits, and you should have about 20 biscuits.
  • Lie the biscuits on the baking tray, about half an inch (1 centimetre) apart, and bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are gently browned.
  • After cooking, transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the cake
  • Sieve together the flour, almonds, salt, and baking powder onto a sheet of baking paper, and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together very well, until light and creamy. Using an electric mixer, this will take about 3 minutes.
  • Beat the eggs in one by one, making sure to beat in each egg completely before adding the next. If you have a food processor, the eggs, sugar, and butter and be blitzed all at once for a couple of minutes.
  • Beat in the essences, adding the almond essence to taste. Fold in half the flour mixture, followed by the milk, and finishing with the last half of the flour mixture.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, and bake on the centre shelf of the preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. If the top is browning too quickly, but the cake isn't done through the middle, cover with a tin foil tent.
  • Once cooked, remove from the oven, loosen the sides, and allow to cool completely in the tin on a wire rack.

While the cake cools, prepare the jam
  • Place the jam in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it melts and begins to simmer. Mix the cornflour, lemon juice, and a few teaspoons of water together in a cup to make a slurry.
  • Beat in the slurry and continue to cook for a minute or two, until the mixture thickens. Allow to cool completely before using to fill the cake.

Assemble the masterpiece!

  • If the cake has a dome, cut it off. Cut the cake in half into two equal layers. Place the top half of the cake upside down on the serving plate, cover with the jam, spreading out to half an inch (1 centimetre) from the edge. Sandwich with the bottom half of the cake, upside down. Now, the flat bottom crust of the cake is the top.
  • Make a thick but running icing with the icing sugar, melted butter, and enough hot water to get the right consistency.
  • Cover the top and sides with a very thin layer of glace icing. Use a little bit of icing on the back of each biscuit and attach to the side of the cake to make a crust.
  • If the icing has set too much, add a few drops of water and heat for a few seconds in the microwave to retrieve the flowing consistency. Pour onto the top of the cake to make a thick icing layer; the biscuits make a damn to hold in the icing.
  • Decorate the top with halved glacé cherries, as you like. This cake is best made the day before serving, but if you don't have that amount of time, allow the whole confection to set for about 2 hours before serving.

STORAGE
Best eaten the day after it's made, but keeps in an airtight container for up to 10 days at room temperature.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Recipe Revision: Maple Pecan Pie (Options to make a Wheat- and Dairy Free Version)


November is a bit of a non-month here in Ireland, traditionally: you know how January is a bit of a non-month at the start of the year? Well, November is the traditional Celtic January. In England, there's bonfire night on the 5th; in America, there's Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday; but here, it's just the waiting period between Hallowe'en and Christmas, with no real identity of its own.

As such, it's kind of difficult to come up with any nice and interesting baking projects. The only event  I feel is worth baking for in November is my Dad's birthday, on the 16th, which is obviously specific to my family with no widespread relevance, like any other family birthday. So only things you can really do is to capitalise on Thanksgiving, which is not a native festival here, but it is gaining popularity, particularly the Black Friday sales.

Which is exactly what I've done here: I've taken a traditionally American and Canadian treat and done a local version using ingredients commonly available in Ireland. There's no corn syrup here: in this recipe, I use golden syrup, and maple flavoured golden syrup. In my previous maple pecan pie attempt a few years ago, I tried using actual maple syrup, but I personally prefer the taste of maple flavoured golden syrup: it has a stronger, albeit slightly synthetic, smoky flavour.

This recipe uses the exact same ingredient ratios as the chocolate fudge tart I made in May, but the chocolate has simply been replaced with syrup: it makes for a sticky sweet treat, with just enough egg to set the middle into a gloriously sticky custard filling, chock full of roasty toasty pecan nuts. It's a truly decadent treat, to be enjoyed in small doses with ice- or whipped cream.

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DIFFICULTY
Requires mixing (and pastry making skills if you're making your own pastry case)

TIME
About 2 hours

RECIPE RATING
Easy!

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

INGREDIMENTS

Makes one 8 inch (20 centimetre) deep dish pie, weighing roughly 2¼ pounds (1 kilogram)

One 8" (20 centimetre) deep pie crust
3 ounces (85 grammes) golden syrup
3 ounces (85 grammes) maple syrup, or maple flavoured golden syrup
4 ounces (115 grammes) unsalted butter, or margarine
1 tablespoon (15 millilitres) lemon or orange juice
6 ounces (170 grammes) soft light brown sugar
2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) vanilla essence
2 medium (US Large) eggs, beaten
6 to 8 ounces (170 to 225 grammes) pecan nuts, toasted
Optional: 1 shot (35 millilitres) spiced rum

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FREE FROM
Nuts, wheat (if you make your own pastry), yeast

CONTAINS
Gluten, dairy (italics show alternatives), eggs, refined sugar,

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

METHOD


  • If you're making your own pie crust, blind bake it and allow it to cool. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F, Gas Mk.4)
  • In a small saucepan, heat together the syrups, butter, and lemon juice only until the butter is melted, stirring occasionally. 
  • Remove from the heat and mix in the sugar and vanilla essence, and rum if using. Allow to cool slightly before adding the eggs.
  • Using a balloon whisk, vigorously beat in the eggs until the mixture is smooth.
  • Scatter three-quarters of the nuts on the base of the pie crust. Pour in the filling, then add enough nuts to nearly fill the pie crust completely; this pie doesn't rise much, if at all. Make sure to poke down the nuts so they are all covered in syrup.
  • Bake on the centre shelf of the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until the centre is puffed up and no longer liquidy; a little jiggly is okay. If the pastry is browning too quickly, over with a large piece of tin foil.
  • Once cooked, remove from the oven and cool completely in the pie dish on a wire rack. If you want to remove the pie from the tin to serve, chill overnight before unmoulding.


STORAGE
As with all things made with pastry, this is best enjoyed within 3 days of eating, kept in an airtight container at room temperature. However, it can keep in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Toffee Apple Upside-Down Cake: a Simple but Effective Technique


Although November is technically winter here in Ireland, I understand that over the rest of the northern hemisphere it's usually considered the last month of autumn. Whenever we think of autumn, we always think of apples, and by extension, toffee apples. I've always had a fraught relationship with toffee apples: I love the idea, and they are wonderfully visually appealing, but never actually like eating a toffee apple. They're sticky, and inevitably the apple is powdery and manky.

As such, each year I try to make something toffee apple inspired that isn't a toffee apple. This year, I had a nice handful of Pink Ladies and Granny Smiths, and decided to do something nice and traditional, and kinda retro: an upside-down cake.

This is more of a technique than it is a recipe: all you need for this is toffee sauce, apples, and some sponge cake mixture. You can make your own, or use a boxed mix. It really doesn't matter



I used some toffee sauce, one red and one green apple, halved, cored, and cut into thin slices, and some Victoria sponge cake mixture made with 2 eggs and brown sugar instead of caster sugar. I poured the toffee sauce into the bottom of a greased 8 inch (20 centimetre) deep round tin, arranged the apple slices on the bottom to make a nice pattern, and then spooned the cake mixture in on top. I then cooked the entire confection for about 45 minutes in a preheated 180°C (350°F, Gas Mk.4) oven. I then allowed it to cool slightly before turning out onto a plate and serving warm with custard.

I hope you give this classic technique a try for a truly delicious autumnal treat!


Saturday, 28 October 2017

Multicoloured Sweet Popcorn (Gluten-, Egg-, and Dairy Free) with Video!


If there's something that kid's particularly love, it's sweet things. And if there's something they love more than that, it's brightly coloured sweet things! Although, sometimes adults like it too.. especially this adult.

This is a simple way to make frosted popcorn of any colour you have available, that doesn't require a sugar thermometer: all you need is a microwave and an oven, and you'll have multicoloured popcorn in under 15 minutes.

If you want to add flavourings, you can add any flavouring oil or essence to the sugar syrup before tossing the popcorn. My companion likes popcorn that is sweet and salty, so I usually add a good few pinches of salt for that sweet/savoury experience.


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DIFFICULTY
Requires mixing and using a microwave

TIME
Under an hour

RECIPE RATING
Easy!

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INGREDIMENTS

Makes enough popcorn for 6 people

3 ounces (85 grammes) popped popcorn kernels
3 ounces (85 grammes) caster sugar
3 tablespoons (45 millilitres) water
Liquid food colouring

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FREE FROM
Eggs, nuts, dairy, gluten, yeast

CONTAINS
Maize, refined sugar

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STORAGE
Best eaten on the day it's made, but can be eaten the net day if kept in a airtight plastic bag or container.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Pull-Apart Pumpkin Cake (Dairy-Free Sponge Recipe) with Video!


If you are planning a Halloween party for entertaining, you will always need some kind of cake as a centre piece for the party table. Layer cakes, like the Bat 'n' Burg, will always impress older kids and adults, but little children are much more easily impressed. So, if you're entertaining little ones, you don't need to go to so much bother: this pull-apart cake will make your life easier, and will make sure everyone has a piece of cake that's the same size.

This video demonstrates how to make a pumpkin themed cake, but you could do anything like a bat, or a ghost. It's completely up to you!


 


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DIFFICULTY
Requires mixing and piping icing

TIME
About 2 hours

RECIPE RATING
Easy!

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

INGREDIMENTS

Makes 12 cupcakes

4 ounces (115 grammes) white spelt flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon (15 millilitres) cocoa powder
2 medium (US large) eggs
2 ounces (55 grammes, 60 millilitres) sunflower oil
2 ounces (55 grammes) caster sugar
2ounces (55 grammes) soft light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

To decorate

Melted milk or dark chocolate, roughly 3 ounces (85 grammes)
12 ounces to 1 pound (340 to 455 grammes) buttercream icing, coloured orange, made using margarine for a dairy-free option

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FREE FROM
Dairy, nuts, wheat, yeast

CONTAINS
Spelt, eggs, refined sugar

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STORAGE
These keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container at room temperature.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Coco-Lime Cream Soda (Naturally Free From)


You can't have a party without something to drink, and when party food is usually sugary and fatty, you want something nice and refreshing. Enter in this Thai inspired soft drink: the Coco-Lime Soda! A zingy lime syrup, mixed with rich yet light coconut milk, and topped off with sparkling water. The coconut milk and sparkling water create a wonderfully spooky frothy head...

This would appeal more to adults than children, especially if you decided to take this Thai delight to the West Indies and add in some white rum!

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DIFFICULTY
Requires mixing and using a microwave

TIME
Under an hour

RECIPE RATING
Easy!

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INGREDIMENTS

Makes roughly half a pint (285 millilitres) of lime syrup

6 fluid ounces (170 grammes) fresh lime juice, roughly 6 or 8 limes
Rind of 2 limes, peeled into strips with a vegetable peeler
6 ounces (170 grammes) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Green food colouring
Pinch of salt

To serve
Light coconut milk, in a can (about 20-25% coconut), or full fat coconut milk if you're feeling decadent
Sparkling water
Green sugar
Optional: white or spiced rum

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FREE FROM
Dairy, nuts, gluten, eggs, yeast

CONTAINS
Refined sugar

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

METHOD

  • In a microwave safe jug, place the lime juice, zest, sugar, and salt. Microwave for about 20 minutes, stirring half-way through. Allow to cool completely.
  • Strain the syrup into a bottle; discard the zest. Chill completely before assembling the drinks.
To serve
  • To mix a drink, wet the rim of a highball glass and dip in green sugar. Add 1 part lime syrup, 2 parts chilled coconut milk, and 3 parts sparkling water. If you pour the water from a height, you will get plenty of foam.
  • Serve with a straw. If you like, you can put ice in the glasses first.
  • Alternatively, you can make the drink in a punch bowl, rather than mixing individual drinks.
  • To make an alcoholic drink, mix 1 part lime syrup, 2 parts coconut milk, 2 parts rum, and 2 parts sparkling water.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Báirín Breac, a.k.a. Barm Brack: Traditional Irish Fruit Bread




Hallowe'en as a holiday originates in Ireland: Oíche Shamhna was the original Gaelic new year's eve, where the division between the living world and the spirit world would open for one night only to permit the dead to pass over. Sometimes, though, pesky spirits would accidentally (on purpose) take people who were still alive into the spirit world, where they'd get stuck forever. To prevent this from happening, the living people were advised to disguise themselves as ghouls, goblins and sprites to fool the spirits into thinking they were some of their own, and prevent their apprehension.

Once the Irish migrated en-masse to the United States, Hallowe'en became part of the American consciousness, and was popularised worldwide through American television. How the Irish celebrated Hallowe'en was always a little bit more ghoulish and pagan when I was a kid, and not as holiday-fied as the American Hallowe'en, but over my lifetime it has lost popularity and has become completely overshadowed by Christmas. Seriously, we have Christmas stuff in the shops from September.

So, in the spirit of sharing our traditions, I will share with you a recipe for barmbrack, or báirín breac in Irish, which is a fruited bread often eaten at this time of year. Hidden inside the loaf are a few trinkets that have symbolic meaning: a ring for marriage, a coin for wealth, a stick for poverty, a pea for spinsterhood, and a relic for a religious life. Nowadays, it's usually only a coin or ring. And yes, even the ones in the shop have the trinkets hidden inside; I understand in America it's illegal to sell food that contains foreign object, but not here!

I tried making this the traditional way, with a home-cultured yeast and tea-soaked fruit, but it was really really difficult: making your own bread starter is a tricky business, and I personally find it too sour, and using soaked fruit made a complete and utter mess. Instead, I've somewhat adapted the traditional bread recipe to make it a tad easier.

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DIFFICULTY
Requires bread making

TIME
About 5 hours

RECIPE RATING
Experienced

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

INGREDIMENTS

Makes one large loaf, weighing roughly 1½ pounds (680 grammes)

6 fluid ounces (170 millilitres) strong black tea, hot
10 ounces (280 grammes) raisins or currants, or a mixture of both
2 teaspoons (10 grammes) brown sugar
12 ounces (340 grammes) white spelt flour, plus up to 2 ounces (55 grammes) extra for dusting
1½ teaspoons (7 grammes) salt
1 quarter-ounce (7 gramme) packet of dry active yeast
1 ounce (30 grammes) caster sugar
1 medium (US Large) egg, or you can use more tea
1½ ounces (40 grammes) unsalted butter, soft, or margarine
Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
Eggwash

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

FREE FROM
Nuts, wheat

CONTAINS
Spelt, dairy (italics show alternatives), eggs (italics show alternatives), refined sugar, yeast

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

METHOD


  • In a large jug, mix the fruit with the hot tea and brown sugar. Heat in the microwave on full power for 1 minute, stirring half way. Allow the fruit to cool to hand-hot, which will take about 20 minutes
  • Strain all the liquid out of the fruit, pressing as much liquid as you can out of the fruit. Set the fruit aside for later, and make sure the tea is still hand-hot: it should feel like nice bathwater. If it's too cold, heat gently in the microwave until it's hot enough again.
  • In a large mixing bowl, sieve in 8 ounces (225 grammes) of the flour, and add in the yeast, the sugar, and salt. Mix in the egg, and only enough of the strained tea to make what looks like a thick pancake mixture. Cover loosely with a tea towel or cling film, and allow to rise for about 20 minutes to half an hour. This will help the strengthening of the gluten.
  • Once the dough has risen, add in the remaining 4 ounces (115 grammes) of flour and mix to a very soft dough; it will be a little bit tacky. Sprinkle some of the premeasured flour onto the work surface and knead until smooth.
  • Add the butter and fruit into the dough, and knead again until the dough is very smooth and supple, and passes the window-pane test. The whole kneading process from adding the flour to finished dough might take up to 20 minutes and will be incredibly messy, so prepare yourself and don't be afraid to flour the surface often (making sure not to add more than 2 ounces (55 grammes). If you have a standing mixer with a dough hook, it'll be ready in half the time.
  • Roll into the dough into a ball, return to the bowl, and allow to rise for about an hour to two hours, or until just over doubled in size.
  • Grease and flour an 8 inch (20 centimetre) deep, round cake tin. You could also use two 8 inch (20 centimetre) sandwich tins to make shallower loaves.
  • Once doubled, press the air out of the dough and shape again to a ball, making sure the surface is very smooth and tight. Put into the prepared tin and flatten out until the surface is level. Cover again and allow to rise once more until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. In the last few minutes of rising, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F, Gas Mk.4).
  • Brush the surface of the loaf with eggwash and sprinkle with Demerara sugar. Bake the loaf on the centre shelf of the oven for 30 to 45 minutes: the top will be a beautiful golden brown, and to test the doneness take the loaf out of the tin and knock the bottom, and if it sounds hollow it's done.
  • If the top is browning too quickly, cover with a tin foil hat. Ovens turn loaves of bread into conspiracy theorists sometimes.
  • When cooked, carefully remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack. If you want to enjoy it freshly baked, allow it to cool enough to handle before cutting, but it's best cut at room temperature.

STORAGE
These keep for up to 3 or 4 days in an airtight container at room temperature. Do not store in the fridge!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Gingerbread Skeletons (Egg Free) with Video!


About two or so years ago, a friend of mine came to visit me around Halloween time, and she brought to me a small gingerbread man with a skeleton iced onto it; it was branded as a "Jack the Skeleton" biscuit, which made me chuckle. Ever since then, I've been curious about making some myself, but have had difficulty finding a gingerbread recipe that mimicked the soft, chewiness of the Jack the Skeleton biscuit.


This recipe, unlike the usual recipe I use, has a high ratio of sugar and syrup to flour, which renders the need to use egg as a binder redundant. Also, if you replace the butter with some good ol' margarine this recipe can be completely vegan! The icing is a very simple mix of butter, icing sugar, and water, so this doesn't use the traditional royal icing decoration. 
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DIFFICULTY
Requires mixing, rolling out, and cutting shapes

TIME
About 3 hours

RECIPE RATING
Easy!

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

INGREDIMENTS

Makes six 3 inch gingerbread men

4 ounces (115 grammes) white spelt flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
One pinch to a ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, to taste
2 ounce (55 grammes) unsalted butter, or margarine
2 ounces (55 grammes) golden syrup
2ounces (55 grammes) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

To decorate

2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) melted unsalted butter, or margarine
2 ounces (55 grammes) icing sugar, sieved
Water, to mix

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

FREE FROM
Eggs, nuts, wheat

CONTAINS
Spelt, dairy (italics show alternatives), refined sugar

~~ ^ _ ^ ~~

METHOD




First, make the biscuits
  • In a jug or bowl, heat the butter, syrup, and sugar in the microwave at 50% power for a minute at a time until the butter has melted and the syrup is runny. Mix well.
  • Sieve the flour, salt, spices, and baking soda into a mixing bowl, make a well in the centre, and pour in the melted butter and syrup mixture. Mix with a spatula or spoon until you have a very soft dough.
  • Pour the dough out onto a piece of cling film, and wrap it up. Pop it into the fridge for an hour, or until firm.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F, Gas Mk.4), and line one or two flat baking trays with non-stick paper.
  • Roll the dough out on a floured surface to a quarter inch (5 millimetres) thick, and cut into gingerbread man shapes. Re-roll the scraps, trying not to mix in too much of the flour dusting.
  • Lie the gingerbread men out on the tray(s), and chill for about 10 minutes before baking on the centre shelf of the oven for only 6 to 7 minutes for soft chewy biscuits, or up to 9 minutes for crispy biscuits.
  • After the biscuits are baked, remove the tray(s) from the oven and cool the biscuits on the tray for about 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
To decorate
  • Mix the icing sugar and melted butter together in a small bowl, adding only enough water to make a thickly flowing icing.
  • Make a small baking paper piping cone, and fill halfway with icing. Snip off the end, and pipe on the skeleton bodies.
  • Allow to set for about 30 minutes before serving.

STORAGE
These keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container at room temperature.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Spooky Mummy Sausage Rolls (Wheat Free)

 

Sometimes I like to take a little break from sweet things, and like to dabble in the world of savoury treats! Now, a lot of people will be looking at this photograph and think Oh God, this needs puff pastry, which is super fiddly, but fear not: this uses rough puff pastry, which is a much simpler version of the recipe. This way you get the best of both worlds: the delicious flakiness of puff pastry, but the simplicity of shortcrust pastry.

I used ketchup to make the eyes, but you could also use brown sauce, or mayonnaise. Or, you could even use something like sesame seeds.

These little guys will be starring in my upcoming video, Sweetie Pie Throws a Party!, airing next week....

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DIFFICULTY
Requires mixing, rolling out, and cutting shapes

TIME
About 3 hours

RECIPE RATING
Intermediate

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INGREDIMENTS

Makes 8 or 10 sausage rolls

8 ounces (225 grammes) white spelt flour, cold
Salt and pepper
3 ounces (85 grammes) butter, very cold, cut into cubes
3 ounces (85 grammes) white vegetable fat, cold, cut into cubes
4 fluid ounces (115 millilitres) cold water
8 ounces (225 grammes) sausage meat, for a vegetarian option use prepared sage and onion stuffing
Eggwash, which is egg beaten with a little water
Ketchup, to decorate

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FREE FROM
Nuts, wheat, refined sugar

CONTAINS
Spelt, dairy, eggs, meat

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METHOD



  • In a mixing bowl, season the flour with a little salt and pepper. Add in the butter and fat, and break up with your fingers until you have a very coarse mixture with big chunks of butter and fat: they could be about the size of peas.
  • Using a knife, add in the water a bit at a time and mix through gently. You might not need all the water, so only add about a tablespoon at a time. The mixture will be very rough and shaggy, with dry and wet parts and big chunks of fat. This is necessary.
  • Turn out onto a floured work surface, and begin the turning and folding process: roll the mixture out to about half an inch (1 centimetre) thick, then fold up into third like a letter, then turn through 90 degress. Repeat this process once more, then wrap up and pop in the freezer for 10 minutes. This will be quite difficult at first because the mixture is a mess, but don't stop believing!
  • Remove from the freezer, and do two more folds and turns. Wrap up again, and either pop back in the freezer for another 10 minutes if you want to do another two folds and turns; or, pop into the fridge for about 45 minutes if you want to use it to make the sausage rolls.
  • Roll the pastry out to about a quarter inch (4 or 5 millimetres) thick and cut into 8 (or 10) squares. Visualise each square divided into thirds, and fill the middle third with an eighth (or tenth) of your desired filling, meat or stuffing mix.
  • Follow the instructions below to braid the squares, but leave a little gap to show the faces. Place the squares on an ungreased baking sheet and chill for 20 minutes in the fridge.


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, Gas Mk.6), brush each roll with a little egg wash, sprinkle with coarse salt and black pepper if you like, and then bake the sausage rolls for 20 minutes.
  • Once baked, allow to cool on the tray for about 5 minutes to make them easier to remove. Serve hot or cold, using ketchup to make glowing eyes.

STORAGE
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days only.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Bat 'n' Burg Cake (Wheat and Dairy Free)

 

In my world, everyday is Halloween: I usually wear black with spiders and bats and spikes (gotta love a Goth stereotype), but when it's actual real-life calendar accurate Halloween, it's essentially my Christmas.

So, as my first offering of the Halloween season, I present to you this punderful delight: the Bat 'n' Burg! I think it's appropriate in two ways, as this is a delicious seasonal retelling of a traditional tea time classic, and also the name is a nice visual homage to Dr Frank 'n' Furter, who--for those of you in the know--is so fittingly seasonal. Credit to my lovely companion for coining the name of this delight...

Although this is a mini cake which would give a little slice to four people, a bigger version would be a delicious centre piece for any party table! Speaking of a bigger version, keep your eyes peeled for this Bat 'n' Burg's bigger brother in my upcoming Halloween video!

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DIFFICULTY
Requires cutting cake into layers,
shaping, and coating with marzipan

TIME
About 3 hours

RECIPE RATING
Experienced

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INGREDIMENTS

For each 4 inch (10 centimetre) cake

2 ounces (55 grammes) white spelt flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 ounces (55 grammes) caster sugar
1 medium (US Large) egg
1 fluid ounce (30 millilitres) sunflower oil
1 tablespoon (15 millilitres) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
A few drops almond essence
Green and orange food colouring

To decorate

6 or 8 ounces (170 to 225 grammes) white marzipan, bought or homemade
Purple and black paste food colouring
Raspberry or apricot jam, warmed

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FREE FROM
Dairy, nuts, wheat

CONTAINS

Spelt, eggs, refined sugar, almonds
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METHOD
First, bake the cakes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease the bottom and sides, line the bottom of the tin with non-stick baking paper, and flour your 4 inch (10 centimetre) round deep cake tin.
  • Separate the egg, put the whites into a mixing bowl, and mix the yolk with the oil in a jug.
  • Whip the egg white, adding the sugar gradually, until you have a meringue that holds soft peaks. Mix in the vanilla, a few drops of almond essence, and orange food colouring. You want a nice shade of colour, but the colour will darken slightly after baking.
  • Sieve in the flour and baking powder and add the milk, then fold gently until well blended, making sure not to knock out the air.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and tap a few times on the work surface. Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the surface feels springy to the touch, and a cocktail stick poked into the centre comes out clean.
  • Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack before loosening from the sides of the tin and turning out onto the rack to cool completely.
  • Wash the tin so you can grease, line, and flour it for the next cake. If you have two tins, you can cook both cakes together.
  • Repeat the whole procedure for the second cake, this time colour it with the green colouring.
Next, decorate!
  • Cut the domes off both cakes and cut evenly into two layers each: all layers should be very close in height.
  • Using a 2½ (6 centimetre) inch and a 1½ (4 centimetre) inch cutter, cut each layer into concentric circles. Take the concentric circles apart, brush the insides with warm jam, and put them back together again with alternating colours.
  • Take the best three layers, and sandwich them together in alternating colours, using the jam to join them. Brush the entire cake with jam.
  • Dust the surface with icing sugar, and pinch off a tiny bit of white marzipan to use later. Knead purple colouring into the rest of the marzipan. Roll it out to about a quarter inch (5 millimetres) thick, and cover the cake completely and evenly. Cut off the excess.
  • Knead some black colour into the remaining marzipan and roll it out again to the same thickness. Cut out two wings, two eyes, two heat shapes, and a smiley mouth. Stick a cocktail stick onto the wings and fix in place with some more marzipan. Fix some cocktail sticks onto the hearts, making sure the pointy end is pointing out, and then pinch the two rounded bits together to make ears. Leave everything to dry completely before assembly.
  • Using the little bit of white marzipan, put shines on the eyes and make two little pointed teeth.
  • Assemble the bat face, fixing the black marzipan on with water. Stick the wings and ears into the cake using the cocktail sticks.

STORAGE
This cake will keep for up to 10 days in an airtight container at room temperature, but is best enjoyed within a week of making.

Cheesecake Raspberry Brownies (Wheat Free, with Dairy Free Option)

I absolutely love cheesecake, and I absolutely love brownies--so does my lovely companion--so what would be better than merging the tw...