Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Honey Nut Oat Muffins

These little beauties have been adapted from a recipe a very old Good Food Magazine that was passed onto me from someone at some point, it's delightfully simple and the added bonus to this recipe is that you don’t need to use a mixer, just chuck it all in the bowl & stir.
They are divine and are best eaten warm, and go particularly well with a little butter and a slice of cheese or if you have a super sweet tooth an extra drizzle of honey instead....they will keep in an airtight tin for up to 3 days and freeze very well.

Makes 9 -12
250g plain flour
85g porridge oats
1 tablespoon (yes, tablespoon) baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
85g nuts of your choice, roughly chopped - I used ½ pecans and ½ pistachios
2 eggs, beaten
200ml milk
75ml vegetable oil
50g light muscovado sugar
5 tablespoons clear runny honey

Preheat the oven to 200°c
Grease the muffins tins well (paper cases won’t work for these) – the best greasing agent I’ve come across is Cake Release from Wilton – it never fails.
In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, oats, and cinnamon, nuts & salt.
In a different bowl whisk the oil, sugar, eggs, milk & honey.
Stir this into the flour mixture until just combined, don’t over mix – the mixture will be fairly runny and lumpy and in all honesty pretty unpleasant looking,  I am still coming to terms with the ‘under mixing’ of muffins, being a little bit of a ‘Monica’ I always feel the need for everything to be super neat!
Fill the muffin tins to the top; I used my trusty large cookie scoop for this.
Bake for 20mins or until they are golden brown.
Leave in the tin for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Chocolate Chip Muffins

This is a  simple and classic chocolate chip muffin, I had planned to use milk chocolate chunks but the cupboard was bare, so instead I used chunks of delicious 70% cocoa chocolate with lovely tangy pieces of candied orange peel encased in it, a delicious gift from a friend of mine.
Makes 10
115g unsalted butter, softened
75g caster sugar
2 tablespoons soft dark brown sugar
2 eggs
175g plain flour, sifted
1tsp baking powder
120ml milk
175g chocolate chips/chunks of your choice

  • Preheat the oven 190°c and grease your muffin tin or line with paper cases.
  • In your mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, make sure you give the mixture a good old beat after adding each one.
  • Fold in the flour & baking powder in batches, alternating with the milk – don’t over mix – the batter should be just combined.
  • Using a small cookie scoop or spoon divide half of the mixture among the 10 muffin tin/cases, put 1 tsp of chocolate chips on top and then cover with another scoop of mixture.
  • Sprinkle any remaining chocolate on top.
  • Bake for approx 25 mins, until lightly golden.
  • Leave to stand in the tin for 10 mins and then transfer to a wire rack to cool (however these are amazing eaten warm!)


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Thought for the day.....

A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch. ~James Beard

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Giant Cupcakes & Cupcake Camp Bournemouth

The sometimes sunny town where I live is soon to be hosting Cupcake Camp Bournemouth, which I am most excited about and also donating 2 dozen cupcakes to....
I’d never heard about a Cupcake Camp before until I stumbled upon a page on Facebook promoting it, I believe it’s an American concept where bakers donate a ridiculous amount of cupcakes and they are then sold to the public and all of the proceeds are donated to charity, there are also stalls, musicians, cupcake competitions and celebrity judges!
Mags Hitchman of Cake Heaven is the organiser for this event and she has done a fabulous job, the charity our event is supporting is Macmillan Cancer Support, a worthwhile charity that you can find more about here:
All exciting stuff...... so in homage to the upcoming Cupcake Camp I thought I would share my Giant Cupcake creations with dear friend Mrs H gave me the cupcake mould for Xmas with the hint of ‘I'd really like one of these cakes for my birthday’ that gave me till March to have a practice run.
In February, surrounded by advertisers thrusting hearts, flowers and smitten lovers in my face a subtle sign that Valentine’s day  was looming, once again I was alone *sigh* (short  version –always kissing frogs, never turning into Princes, just into nasty toads) I decided that I would get the mould out and create a giant Valentines Cupcake for myself and all my other singleton acquaintances at work (for some reason in the company where I work there are many of us) and I have to say I was pretty pleased with the outcome.
I made a vanilla chocolate marble cake and it didn’t look that fabulous when it came out of the mould, but I knew it would taste great and hopefully look good inside (and it did) so I just had to make it look ‘pretty’ on the outside.
Little accident with the very top, but nothing a bit of frosting wouldn't fix!

Mmmmmm! The top, the bottom and the lovely crunchy bit that had to be sliced off (and eaten) so the sat together snugly.

And below, you can see the results, not bad if I do say so myself.

So, when March came around it was time for a repeat performance, originally I had wanted to change the colour scheme to a white chocolate base and lilac cream cheese frosting, but the birthday Queen decided that she liked the classic brown and white so, that what we went for and once again it came out beautifully, reassuring myself that the first time wasn’t a fluke.

(Birthday Queen, Mrs H)

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Melting Moments (From my Mother’s recipe book)

Melting Moments (From my Mother’s recipe book)
Hunting for something in my mother house the other day, which always proves a challenge as every nook and cranny seems to be full of something or other, I stumbled across her recipe book...needless to say the hunt stopped and I got engrossed in it, I came across a recipe for Melting Moments and memories of my childhood came flooding back, these are delicious little crumbly biscuits/cookies that melt in you mouth when you eat them - hence the name.
My mother, who is still truly alive and kicking seems to have given up cooking lately in favour of beading, so instead of asking her to bake a batch, the dog-eared, falling apart at the seams book came with me to the kitchen and these are what emerged.....

Ingredients (makes 18-20)
1 cup or porridge oats
1 teaspoon golden syrup
3 teaspoons boiling water
3 oz sugar (85g)
4 oz self-raising flour (113g)
4 oz unsalted butter (113g)
½ teaspoon baking powder
Few drops of vanilla extract.

Preheat the oven to 170°c
Cream the butter and sugar with a whisk or in a mixer (or by hand, if you’re felling energetic!)
Add the syrup & boiling water and mix
Mix in the oats, flour and vanilla
Roll into small balls or use a small cookie scoop and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, space them approx 3-4cm apart
If you want, pop half a glace cherry on top of each ball and push down gently (the cherries are purely optional, I used them as a retro touch in homage to my mother who wrote the recipe in the 70’s)
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or till golden brown
Remove from the oven and leave the on the tray for a few minute to ‘set’ then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Vanilla Crumble Cupcakes....

Vanilla Crumble Cupcakes

Makes 12
This recipe came about when a quick cake fix was needed, and I have to say it was a triumph.
No fancy ingredients needed, you probably have all of them in your cupboard right now (go on, have a look, I bet you have...)
It was an amalgamation of several recipes which put together makes a light vanilla sponge cake with an oaty crumble topping and finishes with a cinnamon sugar crust and goes as follows....
For the crumble topping
50g plain flour
50g Demerara or caster sugar
50g unsalted butter- diced and chilled
50g porridge oats
·         Mix the flour and sugar in a bowl.
·         Add the butter and rub in until you have the consistency of large, coarse breadcrumbs
·         Mix in oats.
Set aside and crack on with the cake......
For the Vanilla Sponge
175g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs
175 g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
·         Preheat your oven to 180°c
·         Line a 12 hole muffin/cupcake tin with paper liners
·         Put all ingredients in a mixer with a whisk attachment and mix for 2-3 minutes
·         Divide the mixture evenly between the cake cases.
·         Sprinkle a little of the crumble topping onto each cake.
·         Bake in the over for approx 15-20mins, until golden brown and springy to the touch.

For the cinnamon sugar crust....
Approx 70g hot melted butter
Small bowl of caster sugar with 1tsp of cinnamon mixed in.
While the cakes are still warm, dip the top of each cake in the melted butter and then into the cinnamon sugar.
Hot melted butter & Cinnamon sugar
 Dipped in butter
Dipped in sugar...mmmmm

Simple as that, job done!

Note: Any leftover  crumble topping can be frozen and used straight from the freezer to top further cakes or of course, if you make a fruit crumble! Use within a month.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée
This has to be one of my favourite desserts ever, there’s something so satisfying about cracking the caramel disk on the top to discover the rich, silk-smooth vanilla cream underneath.

There is a lot of argument over where Crème Brûlée was first discovered with England, Spain & France all vying for the title! I myself being a Brit will claim that it was out discovery and the story goes a little something like this…
England's Part of Crème Brûlée History
Sometime during the 17th century, young college student offered the kitchen a culinary delight: a creamy unsweetened custard with a caramelized topping. However, the college student's creation was spurned by the cooking staff. . .until he became a fellow. It was after his fellowship that the cooking staff suddenly took great interest in his custard creation with the burnt topping. After replicating the recipe, the cooking staff dubbed it "Trinity Burnt Cream" and all the world emulates this delectable dish. Or so the tall tale goes.
You can also flavour your Brûlée with a variety of things, coffee, lemon, Irish Cream, lavender, chocolate, and coconut (I’ll be trying this one soon – I’m a nut for coconut!) or even put a layer of cooked fruit in the bottom first.
So, now that your mouth is watering, here is the ‘How To’
5 egg yolks
50g Caster Sugar
85ml milk
1 vanilla pod, split and seed scraped out
500ml cold whipping cream
Demerara Sugar for the crunchy topping.
·         Place the egg yolks in a bowl with the sugar and mix together until well combined.
·         Place the milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil with the vanilla pod and the seeds.
·         Pour the milk into the bowl with the egg mixture and mix well.
·         Add the cold cream, mix and leave to infuse for 10mins.
·         Preheat the oven to 150°c
·         Remove the vanilla pod and divide the mixture between 6-8 ramekins (depending on their size!)
·         Place the ramekins in a Bain Marie (filled with hot water, and put in the oven for 40-45mins until they are just set and still a little wobbly in the middle.
·         Remove from the Bain Marie and leave to cool.
·         Once cool, sprinkle the top of the Brûlée evenly with Demerara sugar and either heat under a hot grill or with a mini blowtorch until caramelised.

·         You can actually make a caramel to top the brulee’s with, but this involves a lot of sugar heating and extremely high temperatures and is not for the faint hearted.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Bitter Chocolate Crusted Lemon Tart

This is a classic with a twist of chocolate...
It is a perfect combination of bittersweet chocolate pastry mixed with a sharp creamy lemon filling. Perfect for those who don’t have an overly sweet tooth,  but for those of you who prefer something a little sweeter, reduce the amount of cocoa to 10g and up the icing sugar to 35g – you could also replace the layer of dark chocolate with milk chocolate.
For the pastry
175g plain flour
25g cocoa
Pinch of salt
25g Icing sugar
125g unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsps. water

For the chocolate layer
75g grated dark chocolate

·         Sieve the flour, salt & icing sugar together
·         Rub the butter into the dry mix
·         Mix in the egg yolk and water and then wring cling and      put in the fridge to chill for 30mins
·         Grease a 9” flan ring or a tart tin and line with the        pastry, chill for a further 10mins.
·         Bake blind for 15mins @ 200°c for 15mins, then remove the    beans and bake for a further  5mins @ 160°c.
·         Remove from oven and while the tart base is still hot        scatter the 75g of grated dark chocolate over the base      evenly and then allow to cool.
For the filling
3 unwaxed lemons
150g caster sugar
4 large eggs
150ml double cream
Icing sugar (for dusting)
·   Finely zest and juice the lemons, add to the sugar and whisk.
·   Whisk in the eggs and lastly add the cream.
·   Pour into the cooled, cooked case and bake at 180°c for 30-35mins until just set.
To finish you can either:
Leave plain, dust with icing sugar or dust with icing sugar and then colour with a blow torch (personally for me – any excuse to us the blow torch!)

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Oat & Buttermilk Muffins

Oat & Buttermilk Muffins

These muffins are great, the buttermilk in them acts as an extra raising agent and produces lovely light & airy muffins.
These are great for a grab and go breakfast, I freeze mine & then grab one in the morning and it’s defrosted by the time I get to work,  they are also lovely split & toasted, and then spread with a little butter, sounds strange but trust me it works!

Step 1 is: Place oats in a bowl, stir in the buttermilk and set aside to soak for 1hr – so you can’t make these in a hurry!

Makes 12

115g rolled oats
250ml buttermilk
115g softened butter
75g soft dark brown sugar
1 egg
115g plain flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
25 raisins (optional – you can substitute this for a different dried fruit if you like, e.g. cranberries, apricots)


·         Place oats in a bowl, stir in the buttermilk and set aside to soak for 1hr.
·         Preheat oven to 200°
·         Grease your 12 hole muffin pan or line with paper cases.
·         Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl or your electric mixer and beat till light and fluffy, then beat in the egg.
·         Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt.
·         Stir into the butter mixture alternating with the oat mixture – try your best not to over-mix.
·         Fold in the raisins.
·         Fill the muffin tin/cases two thirds full and bake for 20-25 mins.
·         Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

(The Best) White Bread Rolls

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.” --Robert Browning

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh bread to make you feel like you’re ‘home’, this is a recipe for very simple white bread rolls but trust me, although I would quite happily make them for the smell alone they taste amazing too!
Makes 8-10 rolls
270g Strong white flour
30g unsalted butter
5g milk powder
15g fresh yeast or 1 sachet of EasyBlend yeast
150ml tepid water
7g caster sugar
1 egg (for egg washing)
Seeds of your choice, e.g. sesame, poppy

Therapy Method
1.       Sieve the flour into a suitable basin, add the salt
2.      Rub the butter through the flour, don’t leave any big lumps!
3.      Mix in the milk powder
4.      Mix the sugar, yeast, and water together.
5.      Make a well in the flour and pour the yeast water in, incorporate into the flour using your hand.
6.      Once the dough is formed, removed from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface (you might require a little more water or some more sieved flour at this stage, the consistency of the dough should be soft, but not sticky.
7.      Knead firmly until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 5 mins in an electric mixer with a dough hook or 10 mins the old fashioned way!)
8.      Wipe out the bowl and oil lightly, place the dough in the bowl and cover with (oiled) Clingfilm and put somewhere nice and warm to prove – the dough should double in size.
9.      Once doubled in size, knock back the dough (bash it and squash it for about 30 seconds) to expel the air and carbon dioxide.
10.   Roll into a tube shape and divide into 8 -10 pieces.
11.    Shape into designs of your choice, basic round rolls, plaits, knots.
12.   Place onto a baking tray lined with silicone paper.
13.   Egg wash and decorate with seeds if using.
14.   Leave to prove once again until doubled in size (this rise is the air that will be cooked in your bread, so try not to fiddle around with it – let it rise in peace!
15.   Bake in a hot oven, 200°c until golden brown. Try not to knock your tray when putting it in the oven otherwise the rolls will lose their air and collapse.
( DON’T slam the oven door otherwise you’ll lose all the heat that’s in there!)
17.   Once cooked (you know how to check, if you tap the bottoms they should sound hollow) move to a wire rack to cool (this allows the air to circulate, if you leave them on the tray they’ll get soggy bottoms!).
18.   Enjoy!!!!!