I love salt dough. There’s something so satisfyingly primary school about it but it’s not just for kids! It’s cheap, simple and fun. My sister and I made up a 3 cup batch of this and set to making Christmas decorations. We made a mixture of things: wreaths and candle holders, cut out decorations to hang on the tree and freestyle modeling decorations too, When we were kids we made all sorts of decorations and presents from it. Handy hint, if you want to make a sheep or hair then the garlic crusher is your best friend. We used acrylic paints to paint ours but you can use just about anything you like really. For best results varnish the salt dough afterwards. We didn’t because we like the rustic, homemade look and also because we’re impatient and couldnt’ be bothered to wait! And yes, those Daleks are on the tree (round the back though) because what is more festive then the Doctor Who Christmas Special?
Makes however much you want, just multiply up keeping the same ratios.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp vegetable oil (don’t multiply this up, just add 1 tbsp unless you’re making a bucket load in which case add a few!)
– Mix together the salt and flour.
– Add the oil.
– Gradually add the water and mix.
– Once you have a smooth, kneadable dough you’re ready to go!
– Shape as you like and lay the finished product on baking paper.
– Bake in the oven on gas mark 1 for 5 hours or microwave for 3 minutes then test and do longer if the dough is still soft underneath.
– When cool paint as you wish and varnish if you like.
NB. YOU CANNOT EAT THIS RECIPE. IT IS COMPLETELY INEDIBLE!
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 first had these on holiday as a child and I still love them to bits. I have such a sense memory of the first bite with soft pancake, crisp apple and sweet icing sugar dust. I didn’t appreciate it then but because of the natural sweetness of the apple and the dusting of icing sugar these are so much better for you than smearing pancakes with jam or butter. It’s still something of a nursery tea dish for me, best enjoyed on a crisp Saturday afternoon, or a Thursday like today, I’m not that picky! The basic batter is for drop scones or scotch pancakes and you can add other things such as dried fruits like sultanas or even chocolate chips! The crispness and sweetness of the apple is always a winner for me though!
Makes 6-8 saucer sized pancakes, 12 smaller drop scones.
2 tbsp caster sugar
100g self raising flour
1 apple, cored and sliced
First measure out your ingredients into a jug. I measure the milk, add the egg then add the sugar and weigh the flour. As you see pinpoint accuracy is unnecessary!
– Beat everything together with a whisk or fork until smooth.
– Heat a frying pan on a medium low heat and grease lightly with a little oil or butter.
Pour the batter onto the hot pan. How big is up to you! Place an apple slice in the centre.
When bubbles have risen to the surface and the first ones have burst flip the pancake over with a spatula or palatte knife.
Leave the pancake to cook for a minute or two on this side then put on a plate covered with a teatowel to keep them warm. Repeat until you have used all of the mixture.
Sprinkle with icing sugar and eat!
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.
Tonight we had enchiladas for dinner. I was all prepped and organised, I’d made the sauce and done all of my prep as I had to go out and would only get back in time to eat. Then I got the tortilla wraps out. Disaster! They’d gone off. I knew that mum had made flour tortillas once before so it had to be doable and set off to google a quick recipe for tortillas. I found two that looked good (love recipes with pictures!) and since they were both the same recipe with very different ratios I sort of took a stab at somewhere in the middle and made it up as I went a long. With hindsight I’d use double the fat if I make these again and cook them for no more than 20 seconds each side. As it was these tortillas were very stiff, when I tried to make an enchilada with one it cracked into six pieces. No worries though, dinner became Layered Enchiladas! But first here is the basic recipe for tortillas.
Makes 6 dinner plate sized ones, probably 8 smaller
250g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
50g lard or butter(I used 25g lard*)
100ml warm water plus extra as needed
– Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.
– Rub in the lard or butter using your fingers.
– Add the water and mix well. Add water 1 tbsp at a time mixing between additions until a soft dough has formed.
– Turn out onto a lightly floured worksurface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth.
– Put in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rest for 15-20 minutes.
– Turn out and lightly knead for a minute.
– Divide into equal portions.
– Cover any balls of dough you are not working with.
– Heat a dry frying pan on the hob.
– Roll out the ball of dough until paper thin. Aim for a circle but tidy up the shape by stretching the dough out into shape with your hands. This requires elbow grease. When I say paper I mean it!
– Pick up and carefully place flat in the very hot frying pan.
– Cook for 20-30 seconds each side. Just scare it with the frying pan, don’t leave it or it will dry out too much.
– Place the cooked tortillas under a tea towel in a warm place.
– Repeat for each ball.
*Lard has a bad reputation but can actually be better for you than than butter. I think it has less saturated fat and less cholesterol but I’m not certain just how much better it is. Either way it doesn’t deserve the bad rep. it has.