I found this recipe over on Joy of Baking and knew it was just perfect for what I wanted. It was very simple to prepare as it’s essentially a muffin mixture and it would keep very well for a week, in fact getting better over the week, so perfect for posting for Christmas presents. It also looks so very Christmassy!
I wanted to use rectangular foil ‘takeout’ containers so as to ship and transport it easily and these were smaller than the 9″x5″x3″ tin the recipe called for so I doubled the recipe thinking may be I’d get 3 out of it, nope, got 4! Yum, one spare! It’s a really interesting flavour too, you have the sharpness of the cranberries with hints of fruity and nuttiness. The crust also forms this delicious sugary crunch. A surefire winner this one. My test subjects of my mum’s office were begging for the recipe!
Makes 2 8″ x4″x3″ ‘loaf tins’
460g plain flour
700g golden caster sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
zest of 1 orange
1 large egg
56g butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla essence
100g fresh cranberries (Dried if fresh not available)
90g mixed peel (I used whole preserved orange peels chopped up)
60g chopped mixed nuts
– Heat your oven to gas mark 4 and grease your tins.
– In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest.
– In a large jug mix together the butter, vanilla and milk.
– Mix the two together and stir well to combine. (Doesn’t matter if there are some lumps in there.)
– Add the fruits and nuts and stir through.
– Pour into the tins and bake at the top of the oven for 1 hour. Cover the top with foil if it gets too brown.
– Test with a skewer to see if it’s done then remove from the oven and cool completely.
– Wrap in foil to store for up to a week.
I’ve been putting off making fudge for a while now but it’s only a few days until christmas and it could wait no longer. I made 2 types, White Chocolate and Bailey’s Fudge and regular Chocolate Fudge The basic recipe is the same you just add different stuff at the end. The possibilities are endless!
I didn’t think I liked fudge for some reason but this stuff is delicious! Especially warm scraps out of the pan at the very end. The Bailey’s flavour develops really well as it cools and the regular chocolate is very very tempting. So tempting in fact that when I went out leaving the very last slice I’d kept back for myself on the table the dog jumped up and ate it! So I had a sugar high puppy and no fudge. 😦
I admit I burnt the first batch (White Chocolate and Baileys, below) I made as I didn’t know what I was doing. Well, it wasn’t actually burnt, that’s the odd thing. It just developed brown caramel pieces in it as I had it on too high a temperature. It tasted absolutely fine, in fact I rather liked the texture, and the pan had nothing stuck to it at all so I’m not quite sure what happened. So “caramel bits” they shall be!
Makes 1 8x8x8 cake tin
405g tin condensed milk
450g demerara sugar
115g unsalted butter
Flavourings of your choice:
200g white/plain/milk chocolate (break into small chunks first)
50ml alcohol (Bailey’s, Cointreau, etc.)
– Line your cake tin with foil.
– Put everything in a large, deep pan and gently heat until the sugar is dissolved. (It will no longer feel grainy on the bottom.)
– Raise the heat and bring to a boil.
– Lower the heat again and very gently simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring constantly. The liquid will bubble up (watch it doesn’t boil over) and then die back down again. Keep stirring constantly and briskly. Once it starts to thicken, or if you see any hint of brown flecks forming, remove from the heat.
– To test the fudge drop a small spoonful into a jug of cold water. It should form a soft ball, not ribbons. (I was using a sugar thermometer but my fudge didn’t get to soft ball on the thermometer but still formed a soft ball in practice so best to do it the old-fashioned way here.)
– Here is where you add any flavourings and stir until thoroughly melted/combined.
– Pour the hot fudge into the prepared tin, smooth down a little if necessary, and then leave to cool completely.
– Turn out and lightly score where you want to cut then cut the fudge into chunks.
While I’m feeling organised I thought I’d get this recipe up before I forget all about it. I found a hedge full of crab apples while out walking the dog a few weeks ago and although I didn’t know if they were edible I picked as many as I could get. Luckily they turned out to be very edible! I didn’t actually manage to get that many so I bulked them up with cooking apples that I couldn’t store as they were bruised windfalls. Then I had 2 quince laying about so I chucked those in too. It was a bad year for quince round these parts it would seem. So mixed apple jelly was born! It’s a beautiful colour and smells divine.
The best book on preserves ever is Let’s Preserve It by Beryl Wood. Alas it is out of print so I may have to “borrow” it from my mother at some point in the future. If I want to put something in a jar this book is my first port of call. It’s magic! This has been my first year of making jams, chutney and other things and I’m starting to get the hang of it now. I used to be terrified of boiling sugar but now I’m a dab hand! On the subject of sugar a lot of recipes I’ve googled say to use caster sugar. Don’t. Use granulated. It’s much cheaper, which is great when using in these quantities, and the size of the sugar crystals makes for better jams and other preserves.
Quantity varies according to how much apple you start with.
mixed apples: crab apples, cooking apples, eating apples, even quince
1 tbsp lemon juice
a knob of butter
– Chop up the apples into chunks, don’t bother to core or peel them.
– Put them in a very large pan and cover with water.
– Bring to the boil and simmer until soft and pulpy, about 30 minutes -1 hour.
– Line a seive with muslin and suspend over a large mixing bowl.
– Tip the apple mixture into the seive and cover with the corners of the muslin to keep flies off. DO NOT PRESS OR SQUEEZE or you will get cloudy jelly.
– Leave overnight to drip into the bowl.
– Measure how much liquid you have and add 1 lb sugar for every pint of liquid you have.*
– Put these together in a large pan and add the lemon juice.
– Bring to the boil and simmer at a good rolling boil for 10-15 minutes until setting point is reached.**
– Skim off the scum until you reach a good violent boil then add a knob of butter. This jelly does throw a lot of skum so you have to call it quits at some point of you’d be there forever!
– Decant into warm, sterilised jars and put the lids on while hot. This jelly sets fast so work quickly.
*I got a perfect 1 1/2 pints and so added 1 1/2 lbs. Usually I’m a metric girl but often jams just work better in imperial, imperial seems more fitting to me anyway.
** I am now a convert to the sugar thermometer. I didn’t want to be but it does make things a lot easier. Mine has all the necessary points marked on it and is made so you can’t touch the nib to the bottom of the pan and also has a very useful clip to attach it to the side of the pan.
To test the if the setting point has been reached hold up the spoon and see how the drips form. If they’re slow and large then test it. Keep a saucer in the freezer and place a small amount of the jam on this, leave it for a moment then push your finger across the saucer. If the jam wrinkles ahead of your finger it has reached setting point. The bubbles are also a good indicator, they should be big, about 1cm, not tiny little ones.
I could make puff pastry from scratch the proper way… but I haven’t yet found a dish where I think it’s actually worth it! This is a perfectly acceptable ‘rough’ puff pastry. I saw Nigella’s recipe for making puff pastry in a food processor and started off with that but then went by way of this ancient tome “Farmhouse Cookery” we have because it was much more helpful in the method. I did use the food processor to do the first bit but frankly5 minutes and a knife would have the same effect. Yes, it would technically take longer but once you factor in getting the food processor out, set up, used and washed up you’re probably more than even. But I’m washing up phobic so I always choose the method with the least amount!
250g strong plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
250g butter, cut into 1/2 cm slices
1 tsp lemon juice
5-6 tbsp chilled water
– Mix together the flour and salt.
– Add the butter and either pulse 3-4 times or cut the butter into the flour repeatedly. Chunks of butter will still be visible.
– Add the lemon juice and enough water to bring the dough together.
– Get in there with your hand to bring the dough together in a ball.
– Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
– Unwrap the dough and roll out on a floured worksurface into a large rectangle 3 times longer than it is wide.
– Fold into thirds (bring the right third over onto the centre third then the left side over on top of that), turn 90* and roll out again.
– Fold into thirds again, turn another 90* and roll out again.
– Repeat another 3-4 times. The dough will become harder and harder to roll out as you go and the buttery chunks will disappear.
– Fold the dough again and rewrap in clingfilm and chill for another 30 minutes.
– Unwrap and roll out the dough to your desired thickness on a lightly floured surface.
I’ve been having good successes with bread for a while now but I usually stick to the same recipe because it works and makes excellent bread. However, while excellent, I was after a bread roll with a soft crust instead of a nice crusty one. While sometimes a crusty bread roll is exactly what you need at others you really need something easy to bite, for example a bun to go round a burger. I had thought I was going to have to find a completely new recipe to get this softness in my rolls. Luckily I stumbled upon a tip that was so ridiculously simple it was brilliant. Brush the bread rolls with melted butter when they come out of the oven. So simple and it works!
I changed the recipe from my usual a little bit as I’ve been experimenting with a few different things with my bread recently I find using milk instead of water makes a very nice bread and the top comes out slightly darker. On a crusty loaf it seems to make a delicious chewy blistered crust with nice flavour. But essentially this is the same as my regular bread and a doddle to make.
Makes 6 small rolls, 4 large
250g strong bread flour
4g fast action yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
150ml milk, warm
2 tbsp olive oil
a little melted butter
– Mix together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a medium sized bowl.
– Make a well in the centre and add the milk and oil.
– Mix until it forms a dough then turn out onto a floured worksurface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and soft.
– Lightly oil a bowl using your hands and then continue to knead the dough with your oil hands until the oil is worked in.
– Put the dough in the oiled bowl and move around so it’s covered in oil.
– Place in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size. *
– Knock down the dough and knead it for a minute.
– Divide the dough into the portions you want and shape into round balls by pinching the bottom sides together until you have a smooth top.
– Place on a baking tray and gently flatten a little with the heel of your hand.
– Repeat for each ball of dough.
– Leave to rise in a warm place for at least 30 minutes until the dough has roughly doubled again.
– Bake for 10 minutes at gas mark 7.
– Remove from the oven and immediately brush the tops generously with melted butter.
– Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
* I’ve started to rise bread in front of the fire now that it’s getting frosty. I place it on the hearth with a glass bowl over the top to keep out the drafts. Seems to work very well!
Yay! This is my 100th recipe posted here! To celebrate I made a cake. Chocolate cakes and I have a tricky relationship. I’m very demanding when it comes to chocolate cakes. I am after perfection! I’m not sure I’m quite there yet but this is the best chocolate cake I’ve made yet. It’s moist and fudgey and squishy but not too rich. It’s quite dense but stops just short of being called brownie-like. The best thing about it is that it can be thrown together in a blender or mixer if you don’t want to do it by hand. It was ridiculously easy. All in all this cake was a success.
I was going to do fantastic things icing this cake. I made fondant icing from scratch, well, a box of fondant icing sugar. But I had to get the Kenwood out to mix it and spent over an hour rolling it out. Blood, sweat and tears went into this icing, literally. Then I finally had it rolled out to the right size. I went to pick it up to drape it over the cake and… DISASTER. It stuck to the plastic sheets I’d been rolling it out between and then it stuck to itself and then it fell apart. I honestly don’t know if it was too wet, sticky, or too dry, cracked into pieces. But I cried.
So I just stopped with the buttercream icing and decided that may be I should practice with ready rolled a bit first. Learn to walk before I try running if you will. As for the decorations… well, I have the artistic ability of a drunken ferret. I love edible ball bearings and all baked goods should be blessed with them. Strawberries or raspberries would look great on this but they’re out of season at the minute so I used raspberry jelly sweets instead. A layer of fresh fruit inside would be nice too.
Makes 1×8″ cake
For the cake:
225g granulated sugar
200g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
60ml vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
120 ml boiling water
For the buttercream*:
180g plain chocolate
225g unsalted butter, softened
240g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
– Heat your oven to Gas Mark 4 and prepare two 8″ sandwich tins.
– In a large bowl mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa**, baking powder and salt.
– Add the egg, milk, oil and vanilla essence to the dry ingredients and mix well. It make seem very dry but keep at it. It will come together to form a dough. Keep mixing until it is a smooth, even consistency.
– Add the water and mix thoroughly.
– Pour the batter into the two tins. If you want completely equal layers you can weigh them but I usually do it by eye.
– Smooth the batter out so it is even.
– Bake for 25-30 minutes. You will be able to see if the centre is uncooked and a skewer inserted will come out clean.
– Make up the buttercream by melting the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Allow to cool.
– Cream together the butter and the icing sugar and then add the vanilla essence.
– Mix well then add the melted chocolate and stir thoroughly until everything is combined.
– Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes or so then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
– Once completely cool fill between the two cakes and ice all over with the buttercream using a palette knife to smooth it over the cake.
– Decorate as you wish.
* I only made 2/3 this amount and it needed more so expect better coverage than seen in the photo.
**Sift this in or you will get lumps.