Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Easter Biscuits


Easter Biscuits
I just love Easter baking; I think it's my favourite time of the year for baking (Christmas comes a close second). I especially love when I have the time to make biscuits and to decorate them properly. I've done them many times over the years, and I never tire of them.

This year, my son, once again, wanted to join in. I must say his piping skills, and the care he took really paid off. You can see his first bunny with the blue ribbon, and then his second the next day, with the pink ribbon. What a difference! He loved learning the technique of putting spots wet on wet, then dragging the skewer through to create the heart and feathered effects (his top two bunnies).


Anyway the key to making these biscuits and having them keep their shape, it to chill and freeze between stages. It really helps if you have multiple baking trays/cookie sheets, but it's not essential.

Also, ideally you would use proper royal icing to decorate as it sets faster and harder than what I used, but because Thomas is allergic to egg whites, he can't have that. So, I have again used aquafaba (chickpea juice) to make this version. Honestly you cannot tell the difference in taste.

When rolling out the dough I use this roller, from Joseph Joseph as it has the graduated ended so you can roll your dough out to the desired thickness evenly. This is a bit of a luxury, but before I had this, I would sometimes put out two wooden spoons or you can buy and cut dowelling to have the same effect. Consistency of thickness though, is important. (I use the red level)


One final comment, this makes a large batch of biscuits - I made 75 Easter ones. If you want fewer, you can halve the recipe.


Now, off we go!

Ingredients:
  • 750 g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 450 g butter, softened
  • 400 g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 mls) vanilla extract

Method:

1. In a large bowl, sift the flour. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C
2. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, cream the softened butter and sugar together for about 5 mins until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat in the eggs, one at a time.
3. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined.
4. At this stage, I start rolling out about a fifth of the mixture at a time. I cut two pieces of parchment paper to fit my baking trays, and I roll out enough dough for that tray, between the paper. This avoid it sticking to the rolling pin. I then put the tray of rolled out dough into the fridge to chill for 15 mins. I continue with the remaining dough. If you run out of trays, roll it put anyway and put it flat into the fridge. You can put it on top of each other. (Keep it between the two layers of parchment). Many recipes will tell you to split the dough in half and refrigerate, but then it is MUCH harder to roll out. This step saves you a lot of work!
5. Take a chilled tray from the fridge, cut out the shapes you want, place onto the baking tray, slightly apart, and then place into the freezer for 15 mins. I work on a rotation from now one. One tray in the freezer, the next cut out in the fridge, and then as one goes to the oven, the next to the freezer, the next being cut out and chilled. Get it??
6. From the freezer, put the tray into the oven and cook for 10-13 mins, depending on your oven. Mine is fast and hot so cooked them for 11, until they were slightly golden around the edges.
7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Egg free Icing:

90 ml aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas)
600 g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix on medium speed until it is combined fully. You may need to add a tiny more aquafaba (or water) to loosen it slightly.

At this stage it is the right consistency for the outlining of the shapes. To then make it runny enough to flood (fill in) you need to add very small amounts of water to get the right consistency. Don't let it get too runny!
Add colour as required. I ended up with two piping bags per colour, one to outline and one to flood.

Any questions, do let me know and I'll help however I can!


 


Monday, 30 October 2017

Toffee Apples



Toffee apples are a sign of bonfire night, Autumn and cooler weather to me; I love them. I've been wanting to make my own for years and never seem to get around to it. But this year we had one on a recent trip to Canada and I thought enough is enough! 
They are so simple to make, so I quickly made some this afternoon. Be warned the toffee/candy is hard, so I recommend you slice the apple up into eights (wedges) to eat - you get a much better ratio of apple to toffee too, and therefore a nicer eating experience.


Toffee Apples

Makes 8 small toffee apples

Ingredients:
8 small apples - washed and thoroughly dried
400g caster sugar
100ml water
4 table spoons golden syrup
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (or 1 teaspoon vinegar)
red food colouring (optional)

Method:
1. Wash and dry the apples thoroughly and remove the stalks. Push a cake pop stick or similar wooden stick into the top of each apple, replacing the stalk. Place them in a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
2. Heat up the water and sugar on medium heat for about 5 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Once it is boiling add the cream of tartar (or vinegar) and the golden syrup. Let it simmer until it reaches 150 deg C, or the hard crack stage on a candy thermometer.  Do not leave it unattended, the last 20 degrees happen quite quickly!
3. Remove from heat, add food colouring and stir, then dip each apple in, one at a time, swirling so it is fully covered, including a small part of the stick if possible. Allow the excess to drip off then place on the baking paper to set. If the toffee starts to get too thick, you can gently heat it once more until it becomes runnier again.
4. Allow to set for about 30 minutes. Best served sliced into wedges.

Hello bonfire night, you and toffee apples go hand in hand!



Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Happy 3rd Birthday Passion for Baking UK

A delicious chocolately cake with an oreo buttercream.
Passion for Baking (UK) is 3 years old this month. To celebrate, I made one of our favourite chocolate cakes, added a lovely oreo buttercream, ganache, and to make it 'healthy' some fresh strawberries on top!

We enjoyed it with my oldest friend, Sharon, who is visiting here from Australia - a wonderful way to celebrate the blog's 3rd birthday.

Thank you to everyone who has followed, commented and made any of my recipes. Your support is very much appreciated.
Enjoy a huge slice of this chocolate indulgence cake.

If you would like to make this cake (& I highly recommend it), the recipe is below:

Chocolate Indulgence Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:
2 cups self raising flour (300g)
2 cups caster sugar (460g)
3/4 cup cocoa (90g)
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda (baking soda)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coffee powder
1 cup milk (250ml)
1/2 cup sunflower oil (125ml)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (10ml)
1 cup boiling water (250ml)

For the frosting:
250 g softened butter
500g icing sugar
1 pack oreo biscuits - crushed in a food processor
2 Tablespoons milk (30ml)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

For the cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and line the base of two 20cm (8 inch) loose bottomed cake tins.
2. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, bi-carb soda, coffee powder and salt and mix together in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
3. Whisk together to combine fully.
4. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to the flour mixture. Mix on a medium speed until fully combined. Carefully add the boiling water, and mix on high speed for 1 minute to add air to the mixture.
5. Split the mixture evenly between the two cake tins and bake for 35-40 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.
6. Leave the cakes in the tins for 20 mins and then turn out into wire racks to cool fully.
7. Trim the tops of the cakes to even them up (if necessary).

For the frosting:
1. Mix the butter, vanilla and icing sugar in a large bowl until the buttercream is silky. Add the milk to loosen it up. Mix in the crushed oreos.
2. Use some of the buttercream between the cake layers and then do a layer to crumb coat the cake. Chill in the fridge for 30 mins or until set.
3. Add another layer of the oreo buttercream to the cake, smoothing the sides.
4. Decorate as you wish. I added a ganache drip and then put fresh strawberries on top.

It's a very indulgent cake, but for a chocolate lover, perfect!

Strawberries and chocolate are a lovely combination

This delicious chocolate indulgence cake is rich, with an oreo buttercream and fresh strawberries.



Saturday, 29 July 2017

Passionfruit Cordial


I'm obsessed with passionfruit. They are my absolute favourite fruit and this week they were on sale at Aldi. I'll admit I went a little bit crazy. I bought 18....to start with. Then I was in there again and bought another 18.....then another. And now....I have stopped.

So I put a call out to my followers on Facebook to get some suggestions of what I could do with them all. Typically it was the Aussies who came back with all the ideas (passionfruit is almost a national institution in Australia - we all love them). My cousin Gail, suggested this recipe and sent it through to me. It is soooo good, really refreshing! I'm also going to make passionfruit curd, which I've made before and love so much, some pineapple and passionfruit no-churn ice cream and then if there are any left I might simply eat them! (I had 4 for breakfast yesterday!)



 This drink is so refreshing, best served over ice and topped up with sparkling water, and you can garnish with mint and a slice of orange.

Passionfruit Cordial
Makes 1.25L 

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups (500 ml) water 
  • 2 cups sugar (400g)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1 cup (250 ml) lemon juice (this took me 8 small lemons)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) passionfruit pulp (approximately 12 passionfruit- perfect if on sale!)

Optional:
  • 2 teaspoons citric acid
  • 1 teaspoon tartaric acid

I couldn't find either of these, so left them out. They simply make the drink last longer, but to be honest I doubt it will last long anyway as it's so delicious!

Method:
  1. Combine water, sugar and acids (if using) in a saucepan, bring to boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, leave to simmer for 5 mins. Cool.
  2. Add pineapple juice, passionfruit pulp, lemon juice, stir lightly.
  3. Pour into sterilized bottles and refrigerate.
  4. Pour a generous amount into tall chilled glasses filled with ice cubes, add sparkling water and garnish with mint and orange slices (or if like me, stick a straw in and guzzle!!)


Enjoy!


Monday, 17 July 2017

Lemon Blueberry Drizzle Cake



This combination is a delicious summery one, perfect for an afternoon tea cake to share with friends.  I wanted to make something special for my friend Sarah, as a birthday cake and a farewell as she and her wife and son are moving to China very soon.
And for a picnic in the park, this light, syrupy and fruity cake was the perfect combination. It's bursting with lemon flavour and those little blueberries just add so much juiciness to the cake.


I doubled the recipe as I wanted to make a large bundt cake, and it would have all fit in my more normal shaped round ones, but for my lovely heart shaped tin, I had some mixture left over. There was enough to make 4 mini bundts from my new Nordic Ware tin I bought in New York recently. I just love the mini bundts, they are a perfect single person portion. 
These little bundles of deliciousness were for my family and were wolfed down by all three of us. 
So, just bare in mind if you follow this recipe, you will make one big cake, or a slightly smaller one with extras. If you'd like to make loaf cakes, you'll get two out of this recipe.


Lemon Blueberry Drizzle Cake
Serves 12-15

For the cake
250g unsalted butter - softened
350g caster sugar
4 large eggs
zest of 2 lemons
350g self raising flour
7-8 tablespoons milk
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

For the syrup
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 c blueberries
3 tablespoons icing sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line your cake tin. If using a bundt tin, you can either brush melted butter all through the inside, or I use a cake release spray which works wonders.
  2. Cream together the softened butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and lemon zest, one at a time, mixing well after each egg. 
  3. Add the flour and fold it in gently but thoroughly. Add the milk and mix. Spoon half the mixture into the tin, sprinkle the blueberries across the batter and then dollop the rest of the mixture over the top, spreading it out evenly. Place the cake in the oven and then while it is cooking, combine the lemon juice, blueberries and icing sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the blueberries burst and the syrup thickens slightly.
  4. Cook the cake for 40 mins ** or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for about 15 mins in the tin and then turn out onto a cooling rack.
  5. Using a skewer, poke holes over the cake and drizzle the syrup so it soaks into the holes and drips down the sides. Dollop the blueberries around the top too.
  6. Allow to cool fully and then dig in!



** timings will alter according to the cake tin you use - be flexible. The mini bundts I used only took 18 mins.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Buns


I love making hot cross buns! This year I made a batch of my lovely Cranberry and Orange buns but I wanted to also make some that my allergic son could also eat. So I used that as my basic recipe, and changed it to make it dairy free.
Needless to say my son LOVED them, and I must admit I did too!
If you've never made hot cross buns before, honestly they are quite easy, but they just take a bit of time due to the two lots of proving that are necessary for a light, fluffy bun.

Anyway, do have a go!


Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Buns


For the Buns:
300 ml milk - I used soya for my son
500 g strong white flour
75 g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
7g sachet fast-action yeast
50 g butter - melted - I used Stork block - non dairy
1 free range egg, beaten
100 g dark chocolate chips - dairy free
2 oranges, zest of both 
1 tsp mixed spice
sunflower oil for greasing the bowl

For the Cross:
75 g plain flour
5 tbsp water

For the Glaze:
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp boiling water

METHOD:
1. Bring the milk to the boil and then take it off the heat, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool down until it reaches hand temperature.
2. Zest the oranges into a small bowl. 
3. Mix the flour, spices, salt, sugar, yeast, butter and egg together in a bowl and then slowly add the warm milk, mixing until it forms a soft, sticky dough.
4. Knead the dough for about 5 mins or until is is smooth and elastic. I used the dough hook on my Kenwood mixer for this stage.
5. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size. 
6. Tip the dough out of the bowl onto the bench top and knead it to remove any air bubbles. Flatten it out into a rectangular shape and sprinkle the chocolate chips and orange zest onto the dough. Fold the dough over to incorporate the toppings, and knead so they are well combined.
7. Divide the dough into 12 even sized pieces, and roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured surface - you shouldn't need much flour at this stage. Also, it's okay to knead these pieces a bit more to shape them. Arrange them onto a tray lined with baking parchment, leaving enough room so that they just touch when they expand and rise (about 1-2cm apart depending on their size).
8. Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
9. Set aside to prove for another hour. At this stage I placed the tray into a clean plastic shopping bag rather than covering in cling film.
10. For the cross, mix the flour with 5 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, so that you get the right consistency for a thick paste. Spoon the paste into a disposable piping bag (or ziplock bag) and trim off the bottom of the bag - a small opening is all you need. Pipe along each row of buns in one direction only, then come back and do the opposite direction to make crosses, all in one go. Don't do individual buns, it will look messy and take so much longer.
10. Bake for 20-25 mins on the middle shelf in the oven, or until golden brown.
11. Mix the caster sugar and water together until the sugar dissolves, and then when they buns are straight out of the oven brush them liberally with the glaze so the tops are all covered.
12. Gently rip the buns apart to eat and enjoy!

Ready for the oven!


Glazed with the sugar syrup straight out of the oven.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Lemon Blueberry Muffins


I had a craving for these muffins this week, so I stocked up on blueberries - they're out of season but like so much fruit here in the UK, still readily available. These blueberries are fresh, but you could just as easily use frozen ones - go with what you have/can get.

It's a lovely classic flavour combination, lemon and blueberries. This recipe makes muffins that aren't sickly sweet at all, so being generous with the lemon sugar glaze on top is recommended.



Lemon Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12

Ingredients:

  • 2 c plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 c caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 120g butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 1.5 cups blueberries
  • 1 Tbs lemon zest
For the glaze:

  • 1/2 c icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  • juice from a lemon - enough to water down the sugar to make a semi-thick glaze for drizzling


Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 deg C (350 deg F) and line a muffin tin with 12 wrappers.
2. In a small bowl mix the flour and baking powder.
3. Using an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and mix until light and fluffy - approximately 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. If the mixture looks like it is curdling, you can add a spoon of the flour mixture to help prevent this. Add the vanilla, followed by the milk and lemon; mix until combined.
5. Add the flour to the bowl, and with a wooden spoon, gently mix until just combined. Do not over mix here or the muffins will be dense.
6. Carefully fold in the lemon zest and blueberries.
7. Scoop the mixture into the muffin tin, filling each one 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the muffins are lightly golden on top and a skewer comes out clean.
8. Once the muffins have cooled slightly, drizzle the glaze over the top as desired and then tuck in!