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Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Didn’t get time to write a proper blog post this evening. Sorry. I was baking for our weekly community coffee morning, Cake and Chat. And watching Midsomer Murders. The Vicar didn’t do it this week.

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Madeira Cake, Chelsea buns proving and splendid new kitchen sign from Father Christmas

 

 

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It’s not all cake in the Vicarage. There’s bread too. Last week I made my first couple of loaves of sourdough.

I’ve been making my own bread on and off ever since we lived in Singapore and the only bread to buy was either ridiculously sweet chewy sliced rubber stuff or tastier but eyewateringly expensive. I started with a bread machine that broke from overuse and since then I’ve generally used my Kenwood mixer to make the dough. I very often make dough for pizza at home or for breadsticks for our weekly Cake and Chat community coffee morning. Although, after watching The Great British Bakeoff the other week, I think I may be making the sticks all wrong – they’re doughy rather than snappy. Still tasty though. I hardly ever make a proper loaf.

I’ve been thinking about sourdough for a while. It’s the bread of geeks, as you’ll see if you google it, made without any added yeast but a starter made from flour and water which is left to brew its natural yeasts. And then I was reading the side of my flour bag (I suffer from acute narrative hunger and need to read everything – one reason why the internet is so bad for me) and there it was – a sourdough starter recipe. So I consulted Annalise Barbieri’s lovely blog because I knew she made sourdough and also some recipes I found online. And then I gave it a go.

The flour and water concoction magically became my starter over the course of a week and a very sticky dough became my first loaf.  Although it spread out rather alarmingly, it came out of the oven with a lovely crust and proper airy texture. The second loaf was less airy but less spread too. I’m finding it a fun way to make bread, especially since the recipe I’m using doesn’t involve much kneading, just a brief punch a few times over the course of a morning. It also keeps really well, although there’s not much been kept. Sourdough has a low GI and is easier to digest than bread made with added yeast. And a loaf cost less than 50p to make. Brilliant.

A couple of days after starting my starter, I discovered that it’s Sourdough September. So I seem to have timed it quite well. Anyway, I’ve just pulled a new loaf out of the oven and I’m going to call a friend now and invite her over for coffee and a slice of bread.

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Fridge cake aka tiffin is a very useful no-bake Vicarage staple. It uses store cupboard ingredients and can be made quickly, although it needs a few hours to set in your fridge – if you’re overeager to consume it, it can be rather too crumbly and sticky.

Ingredients

  • 400g digestive biscuits (I use the cheapo range), broken into crumbs – in a plastic bag using a rolling pin, or in a food processor
  • 200g butter (hard marg would work too but not soft)
  • 4 heaped tbspns cocoa powder
  • 3 tbspns golden syrup
  • 3 tbspns brown sugar
  • 4 handfuls sultanas/raisins/cranberries or other dried fruit as you like (approx 100-150g in total weight)
  • 200-400g white chocolate, melted

Place the butter, cocoa powder, golden syrup, sugar and dried fruit in a large microwaveable bowl with lid and heat on full power for 2-3 minutes. If you don’t have a microwave, you can do this over a low heat in a saucepan. Once the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, add the crushed biscuits and mix thoroughly.

Place the mixture in a small roasting tin (about 20cmx30cm) that has been lined with cling film and level it out into the corners. Cling film is the best way to avoid sticking AND excessive washing up. Place the tin in the fridge whilst you melt the chocolate topping.

I usually use 200g white chocolate for the topping for this, but it is a little skimpy – 400g would give you a really good layer on top. I melt the chocolate in a jug on defrost in the microwave, but also sometimes use the old method of a bowl on top of a pan of boiling water. Usually when the last lot of chocolate was burnt in the microwave, alas. Using a knife, spread the chocolate over the now slightly cooled base and then refrigerate the lot for a couple of hours – preferably overnight. Use a sharp knife to cut it into pieces to serve with strong coffee.

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Here’s my take on Anzac biscuits – a fast and fabulous recipe which produces a great mound of tasty coconut and oat treats. I can produce about 40 in a single batch and they are extremely popular with all ages. They are also egg-free, so good for vegans or Asian vegetarians.

Ingredients

  • 3oz/75g porridge oats
  • 3oz/75g desiccated coconut
  • 4oz/100g plain flour
  • 4oz/100g sugar
  • 40z/100g butter or marg (soft is fine)
  • 1tbspn golden syrup
  • 1tspn bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 2 tbspn hot water

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Meanwhile, melt the marg and golden syrup in a jug in the microwave, or a pan on the stove if you prefer. Add the bicarb to the hot water in a small cup or dish and then stir the fizzy mix into the warm marg/syrup combo. Then add the warm wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir in carefully.

For smallish Hobnob size biscuits use teaspoons of mixture – I can fit 16 on a standard baking sheet (covered with silicone lining), leaving room for spreading. Bake at about 180ºC (Gas Mark 4) for 8-12 minutes until the biscuits are golden all over and most have flattened out after rising. Transfer to a rack for cooling after they’ve had a few minutes to firm up.

The gallery below shows some slightly larger ones made using dessertspoonfuls of the mixture which gives you about 24 biscuits from a single batch.

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Last week I had to bake for Cake & Chat and wanted something a little different. I also had a packet of rhubarb that I’d picked up on the reduced section at our local Morrison’s. And so here is a recipe for rhubarb pudding cake (I found the original online at a National Trust historic cakes site).

It went wonderfully with creme fraiche on Thursday and with cream on Sunday. I had to bake a second one this weekend as the first one had disappeared before lunch on Thursday. The leftovers are in the fridge tempting me now.

The recipe involves three separate sections – a cake batter, chopped and sugared rhubarb and a crumble topping. Althought it’s slightly faffier than a bog standard sponge, it’s worth the extra trouble for a delicious dessert cake. The one in the pictures has some gooseberries in it aswell as I didn’t have quite enough rhubarb second time round – they worked very well.

Ingredients

  • 1lb rhubarb (or gooseberries, or mix of both), chopped into 1″ pieces and sprinkled with 1-2tbspns brown sugar

Crumble topping

  • 2oz butter
  • 3oz plain flour
  • 1oz caster sugar

Cake batter

  • 3oz soft marg or butter
  • 3oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3oz self raising flour
  • 1 tbspn milk

Firstly, prepare the rhubarb, chopping it into chunks, or top and tail your gooseberries. Place it in a bowl and sprinkle the brown sugar over the fruit and set aside. Then make the crumble topping, chopping the butter into the flour and rubbing it into small crumbs with your fingers. Then stir in the sugar and set aside. Finally, in another bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar, beat in the eggs and fold in the flour. I do this using an electric hand mixer – there’s not enough mix for my freestanding mixer. Add enough milk to give a dropping consistency – if you’re using large eggs you might not even need the milk.

You’ll need an 8″ cake tin, lined with baking paper (or a reusable liner). Then you layer the cake up – first the batter, then the fruit (with another sprinkling of brown sugar) and finally the crumble topping mix. Bake at 190ºC (Gas 5, Fan 180ºC) for 40-45 minutes until the cake feels firm on top.

This cake is delicious hot or cold and best served with some sort of cream. It would be good with custard too.

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The Vicar and I were married at St Andrew the Great in Cambridge. I’d been a member of the church for about eight years when we wed. The year before that the congregation had moved from the Round Church, a beautiful Norman building which had become far too small for the church to meet in. The move cost the church (as I recall) £1.8 million, as the new (to us) building needed extensive refurbishment, having been redundant for 25 years. The congregation gave generously, but there were a few more traditional fundraising efforts. One of these was a Round Church cookbook.

A recipe from the cookbook that I still use regularly is Rosemary Sennit’s malt loaf. It’s great for batch baking – I normally make three loaves at once and quick to put together. It’s egg free and therefore suitable for Asian Vegetarians & Vegans.  It’s low fat aswell and I now prefer it to the Soreen option – it’s less strong and squidgy, but still delicious with butter. All brilliant reasons to use this simple and tasty recipe.

Ingredients

  • 12oz self raising flour (1lb 8oz for double batch – you can double all the other ingredients easily yourself!)
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 2oz sugar
  • 4oz raisins/sultanas or mix of them
  • 2 tbspn malt extract (buy it in a health food shop eg Holland and Barrett)
  • 1 tbspn black treacle
  • 1/2 pt milk

Put the flour and salt in a bowl, adding the sugar and dried fruit and mixing together. Put the malt, treacle and milk into microwave jug. I heat it for 1-2 minutes on maximum heat and then mix it together. You can also do this in a pan over a low heat on the stove. Then pour the liquid into the dry ingredients & mix thoroughly. Pour everything into a well buttered 3lb loaf tin, or one lined with a reusable liner. Or if you double the batch you can make three smaller loaves in 2lb tins – this is what I normally do. Don’t use a paper liner as these will stick (I speak from traumatic experience).

Bake at 180ºC (Gas 4, Fan 170ºC) for 40-45mins or so until firm to touch, and a skewer comes out clean. I’ve found that the cooking time is about the same for both sizes of loaf. The original recipe said to cook a single quantity in a 2lb loaf tin in 75mins, so if you only have that tin size your deeper loaf will take longer – you might want to cover up towards the end of cooking to prevent the dried fruit from burning, though. Turn out and cool on a rack, or you can leave to cool in the tin. Slice and eat with butter (or low fat marg for the health conscious).

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This is a brilliantly quick and easy cookie recipe given to me by Mrs Rev Ted, whose husband was the Vicar’s boss when he did his curacy. So she was my training incumbent, and this recipe was an essential part of my vicar’s wife training. It’s speedy, just like Failsafe Flapjack and is also flexible so you can fill them with whatever you have to hand – chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries etc.

Ingredients

  • 3oz butter or margarine (soft is fine)
  • 3oz soft brown sugar (or caster sugar if you don’t have brown)
  • 3oz demerera sugar (or granulated)
  • 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 6oz self raising flour (or 5oz self raising flour, 1oz cocoa, 1/4 tspn baking powder)
  • 4oz chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries, or whatever you fancy

Cream the butter and sugars, then beat in the vanilla extract and egg. Finally add the flour (or flour, cocoa powder and baking powder for chocolate cookies) and your chocolate chips or raisins.

To bake them I line 3 baking trays with reusable silicone liners (you can use baking paper or grease your trays well) and use two teaspoons to make walnut-sized blobs of mixture. I can make about 40 standard biscuit-sized cookies from a single batch of this mixture. Bake them for 12-15 minutes at 180ºC (Gas 4, Fan 170ºC), until they have turned golden (you can only see this when they don’t have cocoa in them!) and have risen. They will flatten out again and harden a little whilst cooling – wait a few moments before transferring to cooling racks with a palette knife. If you slightly undercook them you can get a chewy cookie texture, or leave a little longer for a crunchier bite.

Options I have tried successfully for these cookies include double choc chip (cocoa in the mix with white choc chips) and cranberry and choc chip with a plain mix.

Double Choc Chip Can Do Cookies

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