Tag Archives: eggs

Last Minute Christmas Cake

I have to say I’m cheating a little here with my own rules as I haven’t ever cooked this on my own.  In fact my participation has only ever advanced to weighing ingredients and helping fill cake tins.  Christmas is my mum’s domain.  She’s been doing it for years and she’s on a roll, my interference is not needed!  However, I had to share this cake recipe with you as it really is a last minute cake.  It doesn’t need to mature and if you’re forgotten to buy a cake and you’re totally desperate, well, start now! 

Makes 1×8″ (20cm) cake

125g butter
500g mixed dried fruits
125g dates, stoned and chopped (or apricots or prunes, big fruits are what you’re after.)
175g brown sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200ml water
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon

90g glace cherries, chopped
60g chopped mixed nuts
45ml brandy
250g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp baking powder

– In a large pan melt the butter and then add the dried mixed fruits, dates (or other fruits), sugar, bicarbonate of soda, water, mixed spice and cinnamon. 
– Bring this to the boil and cover.  Simmer for 15 minutes. 
– Leave the pan, covered, overnight. 
– The next day put it in a mixing bowl, or use a machine like a kitchen aid or kenwood chef to do the hard work!
– Add the cherries, nuts and brandy.  Mix a little. 
– Add the flour and salt and mix in. 
– Add the eggs and the baking powder and then mix thoroughly making sire everything is well combined. 
– Line an 8″ cake tin with foil, shiny side down, and 2 layers of greaseproof paper. 
– Brush lightly with oil. 
– Tip in the cake mix and level out the top.  Create a small dip in the middle with the back of a spoon to prevent doming. 
– Place a small ovenproof dish or tin of water in the bottom of an oven heated to gas mark 2. 
– Place the cake in the oven on the middle shelf and cook for 2 1/2 – 3 hours covering the top with foil after 1 hour. 
– Test with a skewer to see if it’s done.
– Cool in the tin then turn out and pour on a little more brandy before either wrapping and storing or covering with marzipan and icing.

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Filed under Cakes, Christmas, Easy

Full English Breakfast

Now this isn’t so much a recipe as a collection of foods but even though I have been cooking and eating the Full English for many years this was the first time I felt I had managed to get everything just perfect!  The most challenging part of the whole thing for me has always been the fried egg.  I’m too impatient.  Today I finally cracked it!  I have to admit that I didn’t actually cook the fried bread this time, I left it in my mother’s capable hands.  Hers is always much better than mine in any event! 

Per person allow:
2 sausages
1 slice of white bread
2 rashers of bacon
1 salad tomato, halved if using
1/4 large tin baked beans
1 egg
1 large portobello mushroom

-Sausages go in first.  I grill then under a fairly high heat. 
-The fried bread wants to go on next.  Cut your bread into triangles then pass one side under the cold tap.  Put into a frying pan of fairly hot oil (about 3tbsp) then turn down a bit and leave til the first side is a golden brown.  Then flip over and brown the other side. 
-When the sausages are brown on one side turn them over and add your bacon to the grill pan with them and turn down the heat to medium.  If grilling tomatoes as well put them in here as well skin side up then turn later.   
-Put the baked beans in a microwavable bowl with a knob of butter and cover with clingfilm.  Microwave on full power for 2 1/2 minutes. 
-Heat a few tbsp oil in another frying pan to fairly hot then turn down to low.  Crack the egg into a small bowl or saucer.  Slide it from the bowl into the pan.  Cook for a few minutes until the white is set.  Spoon the hot oil over the top of the yolk until it reaches the way you like it. 
– Brush or spray your portobello mushrooms with oil and then microwave for 2 minutes and test, microwave in 1 minute blocks until cooked.  (Ours took 4 minutes.)
– If necessary give the beans another minute in the microwave to get them piping hot again. 
– Everything is ready when the sausages are nicely browned all over and cooked through, the eggs are set, the bacon is soft with crispy edges, the mushroom is tender, the bread is a light golden brown and the beans are hot! 
– Plate up and eat!

This “recipe” of course is open to as much variation as you want to give it.  Don’t like something?  Leave it out.  Like your eggs scrambled? Scramble them!  Only got little sliced mushrooms? Pan fry them in a small saucepan in a little butter.  It’s your breakfast, enjoy it!

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Filed under Mains, Moderately easy

Maple Pecan Sticky Buns

I meant to post these last night but I’m sick with the most awful sore throat so I went to bed early last night.  Interestingly in the last 12 hours of ill I’ve gone off these.  Last night I was in love with them, this morning they make me feel a little sick.  They are incredibly sweet and sticky so may be that’s it, my body seems to crave protein when I’m ill. 

I have to say that even if I weren’t sick I probably won’t be making these the same way again.  The dough was brilliant.  Easy to work with and it was very tasty.  I’ve been looking for a sweet dough for doing things like this with and this one is a keeper!  I did have a bit of a problem getting it to rise but that was just one of the joys of trying to cook in the winter.  The kitchen is freezing and nothing ever cooks the same as it does over the summer.  Eventually I moved the dough through by the fire and thankfully it did its thing there. 

My problem with this recipe came from the filling.  Not only are pecans ridiculously expensive (£4 for 250g!) but the filling just wasn’t all that great, and at that price I expect great!  I think that in the future I wouldn’t put the sticky stuff all over the bottom but inside the rolls themselves, which may make this a little tidier.  It was an incredibly messy process in places and the original recipe had the cooking timings totally off so I took it out of the tin, tested it, found it was still dough in the middle then re-tinned it and put it back in the oven!  unfortunately they ended up a little too brown as a result, see the bottom pic.  I hope I’ve fixed that problem with my recipe here but do keep an eye on it. 

Makes 9

450g strong bread flour
50g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
85g butter
7g sachet fast action yeast
2 eggs, beaten
a scant 150ml milk
1 tsp cinnamon (original recipe said 2 tsp, I don’t like cinnamon)
85g light brown sugar
100g pecans
125g melted butter
125g maple syrup
50g light brown sugar
100g pecans, roughly chopped

– Mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. 
– Rub in the butter with your fingers. 
– Add the yeast, egg and gradually add the milk, mixing until you have a soft dough. 
– Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and soft. 
– Place in a buttered bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. 
– In a food processor or blender blend together the cinnamon, light brown sugar and pecans to powder. 
– Butter a large springform cake tin or a large square one. 
– Once the dough has risen knock it down and roll it out into a large rectangle. 
– Brush the dough with melted butter. 
– Mix together the rest of the butter, the maple syrup, the brown sugar and the pecans and spread over the bottom of the cake tin. 
– Scatter the powder all over the dough, leaving a 2 cm strip on one of the narrow sides. 
– From the opposite short side roll the dough swiss roll style. 
– Pinch together the seam. 
– Cut the roll into 9. 
– Arrange these slices in the tin. 
– Cover and leave to rise for 30 minutes. 
– Bake at gas mark 6 for 30 minutes. 
– Either turn out or slide onto a plate, whichever you like, and leave to cool for a few minutes before serving. 

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Filed under Breads, Moderately easy, Teatime Treats

Black Forest Cupcakes

Guilty secret time.  I have been known to buy one of those 99p frozen supermarket Black Forest Gateaux and eat the entire thing in about 20 minutes.  I LOVE Black Forest Gateaux!  In times of stress I reach for one of those and a fork.  Today has been very stressful.  Suffice to say it involved calling 6 different helpline numbers who all told me I had to speak to a different number before eventually putting me through to the first number.  Joy.  I needed cake in a serious way. 

I’ve been thinking about making these for a while now.  Traditionally a Black Forest Gateaux would need to be made with whipped cream but we didn’t have space in the fridge to store them so I opted for buttercream instead.  If you were making these for a party though I would suggest topping them with whipped cream as the flavours all go together so well.  Also if making these for kids you don’t have to put the Kirsch in.  For those of you trying to be good in the run up to Christmas the I have it on good authority from my mother that they taste great topped with creme fraiche as a low-fat alternative and they look pretty good too!*

Makes 12

For the cakes:
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g golden caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp Kirsch
200g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder

For the toppings:
1 ~425g tin cherries
2 tbsp Kirsch
5 tbsp sugar
1 tsp arrowroot powder
80g unsalted butter, softened
180g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1-2 tbsp milk
chocolate sprinkles
12 natural coloured glace cherries

– Heat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. 
– Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. 
– Gradually add the eggs, beating well between additions.  Aim to do this in about 6 stages for best results. 
– Stir in the Kirsch. 
– Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and fold in. 
– Divide equally between the 12 cases. 
– Bake for 20-25 minutes, testing with a skewer or tooth pick to see if they’re done. 
– Place on a wire rack to cool completely. 

– Meanwhile separate the cherries from the juice they came in and place the juice and 5 tbsp sugar in a small pan.  Pour 1 tbsp of Kirsch over the cherries. 
– Gently heat the juice until the sugar has dissolved then boil rapidly for at least 5 minutes. 
– Remove from the heat.  In a small dish mix together the arrowroot powder and last tbsp of Kirsch.  Add this to the pan. 
– Return the pan to the heat, stirring constantly until the white colour has gone and bring to boiling point. 
– Remove the pan from the heat and keep stirring until the sauce has thickened.
– Add the cherries to the sauce and allow to cool a little. 

– Trim any domes from the cupcakes, leaving a flat surface. 
– In the centre of each cupcake use a paring knife to cut a circle and remove a core from the cake leaving a hole. 
– Add a spoonful of cherries and sauce to fill each hole.  My tin had enough for exactly 3 cherries per cake.  Allow to stand for a minute or two then add more of the sauce. 

– In a small bowl mix together the butter and 80g of icing sugar until smooth. 
– Add the rest of the icing sugar, the vanilla and 1 tbsp of milk. 
– Mix together until totally smooth adding more milk if necessary. 

– Pipe the buttercream on top of the cupcake, sprinkle with chocolate and add a glace cherry. 

*Here is the low-fat(ish) version:

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Filed under Cupcakes and Muffins, Moderately easy

Pear and Chocolate Puds

There’s something about pear and chocolate that just works but pears in general are, to my mind, an under used fruit.  Not that many people cook with them and those that do usually poach them, which can be delicious but that gorgeous crunchy texture is lost.  I bought a big bag of pears today and had to make pudding with them tonight.  I really should have waited a day or two for them to ripen but I was impatient.  It didn’t effect the taste of this pud but it was slightly troublesome cutting the pear apart with a teaspoon!  If you find yourself in a similar circumstance I suggest that you peel the pears, leaving the stalks on, or microwave them a little before inserting them into the cake mix. 

I try not to peel fruits and vegetables because the top layer just under the skin is supposed to contain the most nutrients and the fibre in the skins can’t be bad for you but sometimes this does affect the aesthetic of a dish.  Since this was just a regular family meal I decided to go for nutrition rather than aesthetics and left the skin on.   The pudding itself is lovely and chocolatey with a crisp top and deliciously goopy inside.  The honey drizzled on top complements both flavours marvelously. 

Pear and Chocolate Puds

Makes 4

75g unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
2 eggs
25g cocoa powder
75g self raising flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
4 small ripe pears
4 tsp runny honey

– Heat the oven to gas mark 4 and butter 4 ramekin dishes. 
– Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. 
– Beat in the eggs one at a time making sure the misture is well combined. 
– Beat in the cocoa powder. 
– Fold in the flour and baking powder and mix until fully combined. 
– Divide the mixture equally between the four ramekins. 
– With a melon baller remove the core of the pear by going in from the bottom and scooping out small balls until you have removed the seeds.  You could also do this with a paring knife and a teaspoon if careful. 
– Place the pear stalk up in the centre of the ramekin, pressing down gently into the cake mix. 
– Bake in the oven for 16-20 minutes.  Slightly longer if using less than ripe pears. 
– Drizzle with a teaspoon of honey and serve straight away putting the ramekins on plates as they will be hot.

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Filed under Desserts, Easy

Butter Cut Out Biscuits

I finally got around to trying out a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess but as always I changed a few things round and the method is my own words.  I have been looking for, and been disappointed by, recipes for cut out biscuits for years now and with this one I may have just about cracked it!  My previous attempts have always been to crunch, too soft or plain just didn’t taste any good!  This biscuit comes out beautifully, neither crunchy nor squishy it is just a simple, flakey butter biscuit.  The point, of course, of cut out biscuits is to have something to decorate.  They really are just a vehicle for pretty icing.  These certainly fulfil all of their obligations.  My icing isn’t any good yet but that will come with practice and until then I get to eat lots of biscuits! 

The other excellent thing I found with this recipe is that it’s designed to make double what you’ll need (unless feeding a very large party) and you then freeze the second lot until later when you just defrost and off you go.  I love to cook but I managed to give myself a blister from too much creaming butter and sugar by hand when I made these (I was on a bit of a baking bender!) so I’m very happy to think that all the hard work has been done and there’s a fresh batch of biscuits just sitting there waiting for me in the freezer. 

I made these in the recent Halloween Extravaganza so spooky shapes they were.  I’m sure eating this much black icing is bad for me but I’m pretty certain that these biscuits are getting better as the days go by.  Obviously I’ll be doing this again at Christmas!  One word of warning though, make sure the icing is totally dry before boxing them and if you have anything like the cats here with narrow extremities then be very, very careful as they will snap quite easily.  I have a box full of deformed cats now! 

Butter Cut Out Biscuits

Makes 2 large baking trays worth (the number depends on how big, or small, your cutters are)

175g butter
200g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
400g plain flour (you will probably need more, I needed another few good spoonfuls)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
300g icing sugar
a few tbsp lemon juice
food colouring

– Cream together the butter and the sugar until pale and fluffy. 
– Beat together the eggs and vanilla and gradually add to the creamed butter and sugar, mixing thoroughly between each addition. 
– Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix well until it forms a soft dough.  You will probably need to add more flour to get it to the point where the dough stops sticking enough to roll it out.  It will be chilled so don’t add too much flour, just enough to make it more of a dough
– Halve the dough, form each half into flatish discs and wrap each half in cling film. 
– Chill for at least 1 hour.  If not using freeze one half. 
– Meanwhile heat the oven to gas mark 4 and prepare two large baking trays. 
– Lightly flour a surface and rolling-pin and roll out one batch of the dough to a thickness of about 5mm.
– Cut out your chosen shapes and place on the prepared baking trays leaving a little space between each. 
– Bake for about 12 minutes until the edges are just turning golden brown.
– Take out and leave to cool completely on a rack. 
– To make the icing mix the icing sugar with a little lemon juice until a soft paste forms.  Divide up into whatever colours you want. 
– For more accurate icing it may be best to first pipe an outline round the biscuit with slightly more viscous icing then flood the inside with more liquid icing guiding it slightly with a toothpick to fill out to the edges.*  Alternatively you can just  carefully spoon icing over let any excess drip off to be cleaned up later or even use icing bags for the entire thing if more intricate patterns are required.  If doing this with kids I suggest buying a few tubes of writing icing and just letting rip, it’s much easier than trying to control errant icing bags.  After you’ve iced your biscuit add any other decorations you like before the icing sets. 
– Leave to set and then keep in an airtight container until needed. 

*This is what I did although I’ll certainly be considering ‘cheating’ and buying writing icing next time!

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Filed under Cookies and Biscuits, Easy

Spinach and Ricotta Bake

This recipe was actually for spinach gnocchi, however, despite following the recipe to the letter when the time cake to cook the gnocchi it was evident that in no way was this going to work!  I tried a few anyway and I was right, these were never going to be gnocchi.  So I grabbed a baking dish and deposited it all in there, grated some cheddar and parmesan on top and bunged it all in the oven for 25 minutes.  Sorted!  It turned out to be a surprisingly good bake so no harm.  I will be trying another recipe for gnocchi in the future but not for a while I think!  For a picture see the previous post. 

Serves 6-8 (depends how much you like spinach!)

500g spinach
300g ricotta
30g butter
150g parmesan, grated
2 eggs
3 tbsp flour
50g grated cheddar
parmesan

– Rinse the spinach and put it in a large pan with the lid on for a few minutes until it has wilted.  You may have to do this in batches. 
– Turn out into a collander and press out all of the water. 
– Return to the pan and add the ricotta and butter.  Heat through until the butter has melted and all is combined. 
– Remove from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir well. 
– Spoon into a baking dish and chill for 30 minutes.  (The chilling may or may not be necessary for a bake but I was trying to make gnocchi so see what happens!)
– Sprinkle the top with the cheeses and bake at gas mark 6 for 25 minutes until the cheese is golden.

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Filed under Easy, Sides