Tag Archives: baking

Apple Pie Slices

These Apple Pie Slices are a quick and easy way to bake up some lovely pastries for guests, snacks, afternoon tea or even a naughty breakfast!  (What?  Apples are a fruit ergo it’s healthy!)

Apple Slices

They are deliciously flakey and actually not too sweet.  They are also super quick and easy to throw together!

Apple Slices

They use my Apple Pie Jam as the filling but you could substitute with a bought apple jelly if you preferred. I would add a pinch of cinnamon to it though for maximum tastiness!

Apple Slices

I also use bought puff pastry because nobody outside of the Great British Bake Off tent has time for that nonsense!

Apple Slices

Makes 8

1 sheet pre-rolled puff pastry
1/2 jar Apple Pie Jam
3
 tbsp milk
3 tbsp demarera sugar

  • Heat the oven to gas mark 6 and line 2 baking trays.
  • Cut your pastry into 16 equal pieces.
  • Put a spoonful of jam in the centre of half of them.
  • Prick the remaining slices with a fork to make little holes in the top.
  • Put these pieces on top of the jam ones and press down all around with a fork to crimp the edges closed.
  • Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake for 20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.  You will probably have to switch the trays over halfway through if they are on different shelves.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before you eat them.  They are equally good cold!

 

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Mini Breakfast Bites

These mini breakfast bites were one of the first things I invented for myself in 3rd year food tech!  They are now a staple tradition in our household and I couldn’t imagine Christmas without them!

Mini Breakfast Canapes

Makes 24

24 slices of white bread (2 meduim sliced loaves)
1/2 cup sunflower oil
24 quails eggs
12 rashers streaky bacon or pancetta
24 tiny button mushrooms (or 6 small mushrooms cut into quarters)

  • Heat the oven to gas mark 7.
  • Get out 2x 12 hole bun tins, I prefer the rounded ones but the straighter ones work just fine.
  • Use a large round cookie cutter, checking that it is slightly bigger than the bun tins you are using,   to cut out a large round from the centre of each slice of bread.  (leftover crusts can be used to make bread sauce, or breadcrumbs to freeze for later use)
  • Brush both sides of each round of bread and gently press into the bun tins.
  • Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, until just turning crisp and golden.
  • Take out the tins (being careful coz it’s hot!) and crack a quails egg carefully into each one.  (I use a sharp knife to pierce the shells)
  • Return to the oven for ~5 minutes until the eggs are just setting.
  • Prepare your bacon/pancetta rolls by slicing each rasher in half then rolling up.
  • Take the tins out of the oven again and add your bacon rolls and mushrooms.
  • Cook for another 5-7 minutes until the bacon is cooked through.
  • Serve immediately while hot and make sure you get some too because these will disappear fast!
  • Mini Breakfast Canapes

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Filed under Canapés, Christmas, Moderately easy

Spiced Chocolate Courgette Cake

It’s a familiar refrain at this time of year among those who like to grow their own veg… “Would you like some courgettes?” I have been lucky this year and I too can join this ritual with a bumper crop!  So what to do with this glut of courgettes?  Well, courgettes are one of my favourite vegetables.  So it was only natural that eventually I would put them in a cake!  This Spiced Chocolate Courgette Cake is deliciously, deeply chocolaty and ever so moist!

Spiced Chocolate Courgette Cake

The spices add a different dimension to this chocolate cake.  They’re not overpowering but instead add a warmth and depth to this rich chocolate cake.  I was inspired by Green & Black’s Maya Gold Chocolate, one of my favourites as the spices are just so good there!

Spiced Chocolate Courgette Cake

The icing is beautifully smooth and silky and the hint of orange complements with spiced wonderfully.  I cut back on the amount of sugar in this recipe too as I just don’t think you need as much sugar as we’re used to putting in cakes.  Overall I feel happy calling this cake almost healthy!  It’s probably one of your five a day anyway!

Spiced Chocolate Courgette Cake

While you can definitely see the courgette in the uncooked mixture by the time it is cooked it has vanished like magic!  I honestly don’t think that anyone would know it was there if you didn’t tell them.  The crumb isn’t too dense either even though the cake is gloriously moist but without ever approaching brownie territory.

Spiced Chocolate Courgette Cake

Makes 1 x 23cm cake

2 medium sized courgettes, grated (500ml in a jug is what you need YMMV on the courgettes required!)
175ml sunflower oil
300g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
350g self raising flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp mixed spice

250g dark chocolate (I used a mixture of 50-80% as that’s what I had in the cupboard!)
25g butter
125ml orange juice

  • Heat the oven to gas mark 4/180C  and grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin.
  • Grate your courgettes (if you have a food processor attachment then use this, its much easier and quicker!)
  • Put your courgettes in a sieve or colander and gently press to squeeze out some excess moisture.
  • Place the courgettes in a large jug, you need to have about 500ml of them.
  • If your jug is big enough (I use a 1l pyrex jug) then add the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla straight to this.  Give it all a good mix.
  • In a large mixing bowl add your flour, cocoa powder and mixed spice and mix it all together.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir thoroughly until all the pockets of flour have disappeared.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 45-60 minutes.  This cooking time will depend very much on the moisture content of your courgettes.  Check it at intervals, it’s done when there is no wobble left and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.
  • To make the icing melt your chocolate and butter together in a bowl.  I use a microwave but you could do it in a bowl over a pan of boiling water if you prefer.
  • Add the orange juice and give it all a really good beating to combine everything together into a smooth icing.
  •  When the cake is cool remove it from the tin and unpeel the paper.
  • Spread the icing evenly over the surface of your cake and enjoy!

 

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Ombré Birthday Cake

For my Birthday BBQ I made a 3 Layer Pink Ombre Cake and a dozen cupcakes as favours too!

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

I’m really happy with how it turned out!  I’ve never tried anything like it before but I was pleased to see how my technique worked out!  I wanted to minimise waste and washing up so I came up with my own way of creating this cake effect.

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

Everyone seemed to enjoy it anyway, there was barely any left by the end of the evening!

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

I made a huge batch of cake mixture…

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

…And about 2kg of buttercream!

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

The colours worked wonderfully!  Nice and vibrant!

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

I tried to keep things nice and tidy, having assembled the layers I then piped round to fill in the gaps.

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

Which meant that I had a smooth surface to spread the rest of the icing over.

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

So here’s how I did it:

Makes 1 x 3 layer 7″ Layer Cake and 12 Cupcakes

500g unsalted butter, softened
500g golden caster sugar
8 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
500g self raising flour
3 tbsp milk
pink gel good colouring*  (I have that awful salmon pink one so you need to add violet to make it a nicer colour!)
grape violet gel food colouring*

500g unsalted butter, softened
1 kg icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk

1 jar seedless raspberry jam

– Heat the oven to gas mark 4.  Prepare 3 7″ sandwich tins (I use silicone as they come out flatter and are easier to turn out.) Line 12 muffin holes with paper cases.
– Cream together the butter and sugar in a LARGE mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
– Add one egg at a time, mixing well between additions.
– Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
– Fold in the flour until all combined with the wet ingredients.
– Add the 3 tbsp milk and mix well.
– Fill each cupcake case to halfway with cake batter.
– Put 1/3 of the remaining white batter in the first greased cake tin.
– Add a bit of the pink colouring about the size of a sweetcorn kernel along with a slightly smaller amount of the grape violet and mix thoroughly into the batter to achieve a light pink colour.  * If using nicer food colouring then use your judgement on the blend you want.
– Put 1/2 this mixture in the second cake tin.
– Add more pink colouring and more violet colouring and mix well to get a really deep colour.
– Put this remaining cake batter in the final tin.
– Put everything in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown on top and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
– Turn out your cakes upside down onto cooling racks and take the cupcakes out of the tin to cool.

– Put the butter, icing sugar, vanilla and milk in a LARGE mixing bowl and beat until thoroughly combined, light and airy.

To assemble the cakes:

– Trim any domes from your cake layers to give you flat cakes.
– Put a smear of buttercream on the base of the cake stand or plate.
– Place the darkest layer flat bottom up on the cake stand or plate.
– Spread with an even layer of buttercream.
– Spread raspberry jam on the top of the lighter layer.
– Place the jam side on top of the buttercream.
– Spread another layer of buttercream over the flat bottom of the lighter layer.
– Spread raspberry jam over the top of the white layer.
– Place the jam side on top of the buttercream.
– Fill a piping bag with white buttercream and make a 1/2″ hole to pipe from.
– Pipe around the cake between the layers to fill in any dips or gaps between the cakes layers.
– Smooth round this with a palette knife to make a smooth sided cake.
– Spread a good amount of white buttercream over the top of the cake and down over the edges using a palette knife to spread a smooth even layer of white buttercream over the whole cake.
– Now take about a cup of buttercream from the main mixture and put it in a separate bowl.
– Add pink and grape violet food colouring to acheive a nice deep raspberry pink colour.
– Put it in a piping bag with a 1/2″ hole.
– Pipe a ring of pink buttercream around the base of the cake.
– Now take a pallette knife and spread the pink buttercream up the side of the cake in small swirling circles so the dark pink melds with the white to give that faded ombre effect.  Don’t swirl all the way to the top, only go about 2/3 up and leave a nice band of clean white buttercream at the top.

– Take some raspberry jam and put it in a squeezy bottle with a cone tip.
– Inject jam into the centre of each cupcake.
– Take the remaining buttercream and put it in a piping bag with a large star tip.
– Ice each cupcake with a swirl of buttercream covering the jam hole in the centre.
– Add sprinkles white the buttercream is wet.

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

 

 

 

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Filed under Cakes, Cupcakes and Muffins, Moderately easy

Aspara-bacon Quiche

Ah, Quiche!  The poor quiche has a bit of a bad rep simple because it has a bit of a funny sounding name!  But we should not mock the quiche for it is delicious!  Throughout the summer months I will frequently have one in the fridge just waiting to be grabbed for causal lunches, a picnic, a light supper.  It’s a very versatile dish and once you have the basics down you can whip one up in no time!

Asparabacon Quiche

This little quiche is an asparabacon quiche.  Asparabacon is one of the finest flavour combinations so adding it to a quiche seemed like a brilliantly obvious step!

Asparabacon Quiche

I’m not going to lie though, I think I’ve had it with pastry!  I CAN make pastry, sure.  It’s not that hard… but I hate it.  It’s just one of those fiddly jobs that I just don’t really enjoy.  I think that these days you can get some good ready made pastry at a decent price in any supermarket so I may just throw the towel in and go for an easy life!  We shall see!

Asparabacon Quiche

There’s an entire bundle of asparagus in this small quiche, which is a lot, yes, but ASPARAGUS! Fresh, British Asparagus too!  If you want to dial back the asparagus that’s cool, but why not indulge yourself a bit?

Asparabacon Quiche

 

Serves 4 / Makes 1x 8″ quiche

150g plain flour
50g butter
25g trex (or just 75g butter)
1-2 tbsp cold water

6 large eggs
200 ml milk
1/4 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 bungle asparagus spears, trimmed of the woody end
125g smoked bacon lardons
25g grated cheese

– Put the flour, butter and trex in a mixing bowl and rub together with your hands until it forms a breadcrumb consistency.
– Add the water a little at a time mixing until it comes together into a dough.
– Shape into a flat round, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
– Heat the oven to gas mark 5.
– Roll out the pastry on a floured worksurface into a rough circle.  It should be about the thickness of a £1 coin and large enough to cover an 8″ sandwich tin with a little overhang.
– Gently pick the dough up using the rolling pin and drape it gently into the 8″ sandwich tin, lightly press down into the edges and smooth up the sides and over the lip making sure there are no trapped air bubbles.
– Cover the pastry with foil and fill with baking beans.
– Place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.
– Remove from the oven and gently remove the foil and baking beans.  If it won’t release evenly put it back in the oven for 5 minutes.
– Bake uncovered for a further 5-10 minutes until the pastry is just cooked and has lost that sickly pale look!
-Prepare your filling: Whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together in a jug.
– Scatter the bacon and asparagus evenly over the pastry shell.
– Pour the egg mixture into the pastry shell.  If you’ve got it right and there are no holes this is where your filling should stay.  If you’ve got it wrong, well, that why it’s on a baking tray!
– Scatter the grated cheese on top.
– Pop it back into the oven (if it’s leaking get it back in as quickly as you can so that egg seals the hole!)
– Bake at gas mark 5 for 45 minutes until the egg is set in the centre and the top is a golden brown.
– Leave to cool completely before running a sharp knife around the edge of the tin to loosen the pastry.
– Place the bottom on a sturdy bowl smaller than the tin and press down evenly to unmould it.
– Run a sharp knife between the pastry and the tin base to separate it.
– Serve and enjoy!

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Pinwheel Pizza Rolls

As with so many things in my life I blame Pinterest for these little morsels of joy!  These Pinwheel Pizza Rolls are so simple to whip up and make a fabulous grab and go lunch.  They’d also make great picnic or party food!

Pinwheel Pizza Rolls

 

The only tricky part might be the bread dough but once you have the hang of that there’s nothing to it!  It’s a good way to practice your techniques for bread too as there isn’t a proper crumb to mess up while you’re learning.

Pinwheel Pizza Rolls

I love making bread of all kinds, its’s so satisfying!  I love how it magically puffs up and fills out.

Pinwheel Pizza Rolls

Makes 9

300g strong bread flour
3g fast action yeast (1 tsp / 1/2 a sachet)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
150ml warm water
5 tbsp tomato puree
3-4 large slices cooked ham
75g grated cheese

– Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and add  the yeast on one side and the salt on the other.
– Mix together and make a well in the centre.
– Add the oil and almost all of the water, reserve a little in case
– Mix well until a dough forms.  If it won’t quite come together add the remaining water until it does.  You may not need it.
– Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured worksurface and knead for about 10 minutes until it is soft and elastic.  If you’ve overdone it with the water you can add a little more flour if it is sticking very badly.
– Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl and cover and place in a warm, draft free place for 1 hour until the dough it risen and doubled in size.
– Knock the dough down by ‘punching’ it in the middle, give it a little knead to pick up all of the dough into a ball and turn out onto a lightly floured worksurface.
– Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 30cm wide.
– Spread the tomato puree evenly over it.
– Sprinkle over the grated cheese and lay the ham on top.
– Roll the dough up into a long spiral starting from the long edge furthest away from you.
– Pinch the long open end closed so the the dough forms a tube.
– Slice into 9 equal pieces and place cut side up on a large baking tray evenly spaced.
– Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
– In the meantime get your oven preheating to gas mark 7 / 220C.
– Bake for 25-30 minutes until risen and golden brown.
– Leave to cool or enjoy warm, whichever grabs your fancy!  (I know you’re going to eat at least one warm, fresh from the oven!)
– To heat up later simply microwave for 30 seconds.

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Slightly healthier brownies! 

I have been playing around recently with trying out some natural sugar alternatives.  I’m not giving up sugar, no siree! However, I did come back from Canada with half a suitcase of maple syrup so I’m having a lot of fun finding new ways to use it and any health benefits are purely coincidental!

Maple Syrup Brownies

I found it really interesting how it affected the texture of the brownies.  Unsurprisingly without the solid sugar crystals there is no trace of the granular sugar feeling, it is a smooth, fudgey texture.  You still get the same chocolatey intensity though!  They also cooked more quickly I think.  All in all I feel that it was a very successful experiment.  I kept to just plain chocolate this time for a true base reading (I’m all about the science!) but I think it would take on any combination of flavours you wanted it to!  As ever with my brownies you can make these gluten free simply by substituting the flour for ground almonds.

Maple Syrup Brownies

Makes 12

200g unsalted butter
200g plain chocolate
3 large eggs
150g maple syrup
100g plain flour (or ground almonds)
40g cocoa powder

– Heat the oven to gas mark 5/190C and line a 7″ x 11″ brownie tin with baking paper.
– Melt the butter and the chocolate together then leave to cool a little. (Short sharp bursts in the microwave, stirring in between or slowly in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.)
– In a large jug mix the 3 eggs and the syrup until well combined.
– Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly as you go.  (Make sure the chocolate isn’t too hot or you could cook your eggs!)
– Add the flour (or almonds) and cocoa powder and fold into the chocolate mixture.
– Pour into the prepared tin and level the surface.
– Bake for 30 minutes until just set in the centre.
– Allow to cool in the tray before slicing and serving.

 

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Filed under Easy, Gluten Free, Teatime Treats