Tag Archives: sweet

Apple Crown

I am a bit odd when it comes to apples.  I don’t like them.  Except for these apples.  These apples I will eat every day that they are in season and come up with ways to preserve them just a little bit longer.  I love them.  But they are the only ones.  They are the apples from the tree in my parent’s front garden.  These apples are ‘Discovery’ and are an eating apple that does a bang up job of being a cooking apple too.  When ripe they are gorgeously fragrant and the flesh holds a rosy pink blush, which makes these just the prettiest apples ever!

IMG_5380-1.JPG

 

In this incarnation I have worked them into a sweet braided crown the better to cram as much appley goodness into every bite as I can.  It’s a bit tricky, and some may say overloaded, but no.  More apple = better! The enriched dough makes a perfect vehicle for these lovely chunks of apple and the sticky cinnamon sauce it all creates is a delight!  I’m sure if this were to be presented on Bake Off there would be “Soggy Bottom” comments but I really can’t bring myself to care, the juicy apples and sweet cinnamon are worth a tiny bit of sog!

IMG_5381.JPG

 

If you wanted to you could brush the finished crown with an apricot (or apple jelly!) glaze to make it shine and a drizzle of simple glace icing would make it look lovely too.  Alas, I had run out of icing sugar on this occasion and couldn’t wait to share this recipe with you so you have here the unglazed crown.  Still beautiful in its own way!

Apple Crown

 

Serves 12

250g strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
7g instant yeast
50g unsalted butter
135ml warm milk
1 egg
3 apples, chopped
1 tsp cinnamon (or less if you prefer)
4 tbsp granulated sugar

– Take a large mixing bowl and add the flour, then add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other.
– Mix it all together.
– Chop your butter up into little bits and add this along with the milk and egg.
– Get in there with one hand and mix everything together.
– Keep mixing by hand in the bowl.  It will be sticky but keep going and after not too long it will start to come together into a cohesive dough.
– Once you have almost everything as one ball of dough you can turn it out onto a floured worksurface and really start kneading! (There will still be some sticky bits, you can take a small bit of dough and clean round the bowl to mop up stragglers.)
– Keep working it, the trick with a wetter dough is time!
– After about 10 minutes you should have a smooth, elastic dough.
– Place in a clean, oiled bowl, cover and place somewhere sheltered to rise for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.  I found 2 hours about perfect.
– Prepare your apples.
– Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured worksurface.  Do NOT knock it down.
– Simply start to roll it out with a rolling pin.  You want it to be about 25cm deep and 45cm long.  Try to keep it rectangular.
– Scatter the surface with 2 tbsp sugar, then the cinnamon, then the apples, then the remaining 2 tbsp sugar.
– Carefully roll the long end of the dough towards you, keeping the apples inside and keeping the roll quite tight.
– When you have a long roll gently press to seal the dough back to itself.
– Starting about 1″ in from the end cut straight through the dough all the way along to the other end.
– Now for the messy bit!  Twist each half around the other, one over the top, followed by the next, arranging the cut side so it faces uppermost.  Shove the apple back in as it falls out!
– Gently manoeuver onto a baking tray covered in baking parchment and bring each end round to form a circle.  Press the ends together gently to secure.
– Place in a plastic bag (bin bags work well here) and leave in a sheltered spot to rise for another hour.
– Heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C.
– Bake for 25 minutes.
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the tray.
– When cool the sticky puddle of sauce in the centre should separate nicely as you peel the baking paper away leaving you with your crown!
– Serve as is or glaze with jam and drizzle with icing, the choice is yours!

 

IMG_5416.JPG

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Breads, Cakes, Christmas, Desserts, Moderately easy

Cheesecake Bars

When I lived in Tokyo I would usually pick up breakfast on my way to uni.  If there is one thing I miss the most about Japan it is the convenience stores, or conbini, they were just brilliant!  You want a kitkat, a bottle of mikan juice and a bowl of hot macaroni cheese at 3am?  Done!  Japanese food was just amazing in all ways, even the rubbish, but I digress.  Every morning for a good few months I would stop off at a particular store on my trip to uni and I would buy myself a carton of cafe latte and a cheesecake bar.  It was just a simple stick of baked cheesecake.  No biscuit, no flavouring, just cheesecake plain and simple. 

For Christmas I got a silicone baking mould that forms 12 bars.  I had asked for a 9 hole mini loaf tray but such a creature does not exist it would seem and the closest “Mother Christmas” could come was a 12 hole bar tray from France.  The first thing I thought of when I saw this tray was, “Well that’d make funny shaped loaves.”, the second thing I thought was, “But I could make cheesecake bars!”  And so last night, when I was in serious need of some baking therapy having just watched Doctor Who, I did. 

This cheesecake recipe is the simplest thing in the world only 5 ingredients!  I think I first saw this recipe in a supermarket magazine as a project for kids but it is now one of my emergency recipes as it takes so few ingredients.  I like to make it after dinner because then you can just leave it and forget about it while it cools in the oven overnight and it’s not taking any time away from other things.  Also you get to breakfast on cheesecake and what’s better than that?

Makes 12 bars.  If you don’t have a fancy mould like mine then you could probably just use a brownie or square cake tin and cut it up. 

2 large eggs
400g soft cheese
125g caster sugar
4 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tsp vanilla extract
the seeds from half a vanilla pod

Step 1: Assemble your ingredients.

[I changed my mind about the orange half way through and decided to keep it pure with the vanilla but you can easily substitute the vanillas for the zest and 3tbsp of juice from an orange, lemon or lime.  We keep our vanilla pods in the sugar jar, as you can just see, it gives a light hint of flavour to the sugar and stores the vanilla well.]

– Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease your mould, tin or tray with melted butter. 
– In a medium sized mixing bowl beat the eggs. 
– Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth. 

It will look like this but keep beating...

...and it will look like this!

– Add the sugar, vanillas and creme fraiche and beat until well combined. 
– Pour into your chosen mould and  bake for 30 minutes. 
– Turn off the oven and leave overnight or until completely cool. 
– Turn out, and slice if necessary, and serve!

3 Comments

Filed under Easy, Teatime Treats

Gingerbread

I love making a gingerbread house at Christmas time.  However, I’m never any good at eating it.  When you’ve worked so hard to assemble this work of edible art it’s heartbreaking to have to destroy it.  Therefore I thought what about a gingerbread village?  Little houses so you could eat them one at a time and not feel bad for destroying your entire creation!  So that’s what I did. 

These have been a labour of love I tell you!  I actually made the gingerbread weeks ago but never quite had the time to sit down and get on with putting them together.  As a result I ate a bunch of the sweets I had been going to use and there were more than a few breakages and someone, I’m looking at you dad, ate a roof tile.  In theory this recipe makes 6 little gingerbread cottages.  I got 3.  But such is life. 

This gingerbread dough isn’t perhaps the ideal one you’re looking for to make houses but it does make an excellent biscuit.  It spreads a little inconsistently while baking so I got some wonky bits and the dough is easiest to work with while still warm, after that it starts to crack a little while you’re handling it.  For that reason I haven’t given you the pattern I used for my houses, but they were about 3″x4″.  Next year I’ll be trying a different recipe for my houses but for biscuits to eat or hang on the tree I think this could be a winner. 

  Makes 6 3″x4″ houses or, in theory, 1 large house.  Make 1/2 if for biscuits unless you need dozens. 

250g unsalted butter
200g dark muscovado sugar
7 tbsp golden syrup
600g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp ground ginger

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6 and find every baking tray in the house. 
– Melt together the butter, sugar and syrup in a large pan. 
– Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger in a large mixing bowl and mix them together. 
– Pour the melted butter mixture into the flour and mix well with a spoon until a dough is formed. 
– Roll out the dough to a thickness of 5mm.  (You will have to do this in batches unless you’re very good and have a large work surface.)
– Cut out your shapes and place on lined baking trays. 
– Bake for 10-12 minutes watching carefully because it is very easy to burn these.  Try to get the houses each on one tray so they’re a consistent colour. 
– Allow to cool on the trays for 5 minutes until hard then cool completely on a wire rack. 
– Repeat for the rest of the batches. 

To assemble the houses I use a ‘glue’ made from 200g icing sugar and 2-3 tbsp boiling water.  You can use royal icing if you want it to be stronger but this tastes much better.  I pipe strips of icing down the edges of the ‘sides’ then carefully press all 4 walls together, you may need an extra pair of hands for this part.  Then I allow that stage to dry.  Once dried I put on the roof tiles again by piping strips of icing all around the top of the house then very gently pressing down the tiles.  Then I pipe a line along the apex.  The chimneys, if making, are done in almost exactly the same way.  I leave the houses to dry, preferably for an hour, then get on with decorating with sweets using the same kind of ‘glue’ to stick everything on. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas, Cookies and Biscuits, Moderately easy

Christmas Pudding

As with the Last Minute Christmas Cake I don’t get to participate with this more than the traditional stir and wish.  However it’s another recipe that doesn’t need to mature or need constant feeding.  You can make it up on Christmas Eve if you want to or in September, it’ll still be great.  In fact I think we’ve been known to make up the 3 puddings and then eat one the next year! I can’t even claim the words for the recipe as my own here so think of it as a guest post from my mum.

Makes 3 average pudding basins

225 g dark brown sugar
400g white breadcrumbs
225g suet
half tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
1 kg mixed dried fruit
50g chopped blanched almonds
2 large cooking apples peeled, cored and grated
zest and juice of half a lemon
2 beaten eggs
300ml Guiness/milk stout/dark beer
150ml approx milk

 – Mix all dry ingredients together.  
– Mix in apple and lemon, eggs, beer and anything else in the list and enough milk to make soft dropping consistency.
– Put into pudding bowls with a circle of baking parchment in the bottom of each.
– Cover with greaseproof with a pleat in the centre. 
– Steam for 4-5 hours.
– Leave to go cold and store in a cool place. (I make up the full quantity and freeze the spares.)
– To reheat thaw, if frozen, and microwave for 6 minutes, with a pyrex lid to keep in moisture, or if you are a traditionalist steam again for 2 hours.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/788/9308009/files/2014/12/img_8247.jpg

1 Comment

Filed under Christmas, Desserts, Easy

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Cakes, Christmas, Easy

Condensed Milk Cookies

I’ve posted this recipe before calling it American Cookies but I’m British so all my cookie recipes are ‘American’ or I call them biscuits.  When people ask me to make these they ask for “the condensed milk ones” and so I have renamed them.  I’ve also discovered since I first made them just how versatile the basic cookie dough can be.  Today I made the final addition to everyone’s christmas hamper:  Individually flavoured cookies. 

My sister has become obsessed with peanut butter and chocolate and so I made her peanut butter and chocolate cookies.  Dad loves ginger and chilli and so that’s what he got.  Mum was harder as she’s a mum and so says she likes whatever I make her but I know she loves marzipan so she got a sort of bakewell cookie… a fakewell if you will.  I also made myself a batch of chocolate and hazelnut cookies for immediate snacking.  There are no photos of that flavour as my family immediately snacked on them!  The joy of this is I made one batch of dough and then simply divided it into 4 and carried on to do all the different flavours I wanted. 

Makes ~36 cookies

255g unsalted butter, softened
225g golden caster sugar
170g condensed milk
350g self raising flour

For the toppings: (no amounts as it depends how many you make of each flavour)
natural coloured glace cherries
marzipan
flaked almonds
stem ginger in syrup, chopped into eighths
ginger and chilli sauce (I used Tesco’s Finest ice cream sauce but it’s totallyoptional.) 
cocoa powder
peanut butter
chocolate chips
chopped hazelnuts

– First line 5 baking sheets with baking paper and heat the oven to gas mark 4.  (If you don’t have 5 then just prep the paper and then reuse trays as they come free.)
– Cream together the butter and the sugar until soft and fluffy. 
– Mix in the condensed milk. 
– Add the flour and mix until it is all combined in a soft dough. 
– Divide the dough into 4 if making 4 flavours. 

For Chocolate and Peanut Cookies:
– Take 1/4 of the dough and put it into a smaller bowl. 
– Add a few spoons of cocoa powder and knead in until it forms a nice even chocolate colour. 
– Pinch off a walnut sized (and I really mean walnut sized, it’s smaller than you’d think!) bit of dough and roll it into a ball. 
– Flatten into a disc between your hands.
– Add a spoon of peanut butter to the centre. 
– Fold and pinch over the edges so that the peanut butter is completely enclosed in the dough. 
– Place on the baking tray leaving at least 1″ between cookies and flatten slightly and tidy up any really wonky ones. 
– Repeat with the rest of that dough. 

For Ginger Chilli Cookies:
– With the next 1/4 pinch off walnut sized bits and make into balls. 
– Flatten into a disc between your hands.
– Place 4 chunks of ginger in the centre of the disc and fold up the edges of the dough to make a sort of bowl around it. 
– Place on the baking tray leaving at least 1″ between cookies and then pour over a little of the syrup from the jar or some of the chilli ginger sauce. 

For the ‘Bakewell’ Cookies:
– With the next 1/4 pinch off walnut sized bits and make into balls. 
– Flatten into a disc between your hands.
– Pinch off a ball of marzipan about the size of a Malteaser and flatten into a disc. 
– Place the disc in the centre of the dough and fold over the very edges. 
– Place a glace cherry in the centre and then flaked almonds aroung that. 
– Place on the baking tray leaving at least 1″ between cookies. 

For the Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies:
– With the final 1/4 flatten the dough out and sprinkle with chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts. 
– Knead these in until well distributed throughout the dough. 
– Pinch off walnut sized bits and make into balls. 
– Flatten into a disc between your hands.
– Place on the baking tray leaving at least 1″ between cookies. 

– Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.  (I switch over the top and bottom trays after 10 minutes then give them both 5 minutes more.)
– Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for 5-10 minutes. 
– Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 NB. These cookies do spread a lot, almost double, so be very careful not to place them too closely together:

4 Comments

Filed under Cookies and Biscuits, Easy

Cranberry Loaf

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
360ml milk
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.

1 Comment

Filed under Cakes, Christmas, Easy