First things first, it was the Great British Bake Off final on Tuesday! I watched it with one of my flatmates, wrapped in a duvet, eating smartie cookies! Heaven… until the boiler engineer came in! I was so glad that Frances won; her wedding cake was by far the best on the day, and she has made some amazingly creative bakes over the series. I can’t wait for her book to come out!
I got the idea for these cute Halloween biscuits from Ruth at The Pink Whisk, and they are perfect for feeding to lots of people! Making them individually means that you don’t have to cut them into squares, which often leads to the chocolate layer cracking. They are really yummy, and if made in mini muffin cases would be a great alternative to sweets when trick or treating!
Spiderweb millionaires shortbread
(recipe from The Pink Whisk http://www.thepinkwhisk.co.uk/2013/10/spiderweb-millionaires-shortbread.html#more-6751 )
For the shortbread:
120g plain flour
80g softened butter
40g soft brown sugar
For the caramel:
160g condensed milk
50g soft brown sugar
For the topping:
200g milk chocolate
50g white chocolate chips
Small piping bag (Or greaseproof paper!)
Preheat the oven to 180°C
- For the shortbread, cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until fluffy, then add the flour and stir in until the mixture is crumbly.
- Spoon 20g of the mixture into each case, and smooth down with a spoon.
- Bake for 12 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- Meanwhile make the caramel layer – put the butter, sugar and condensed milk in a saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the butter has melted.
- Turn up the heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously, until the caramel is golden.
- Spoon the caramel over the shortbread, spreading it right to the edges, then let it cool.
- Melt the milk chocolate over a pan of boiling water and leave to cool slightly.
- Melt the white chocolate and spoon into the piping bag.
- Working with 3 cases at a time, spoon some chocolate over and spread out, then pipe 3 circles of white chocolate.
- Using a cocktail stick, draw it from the middle of the chocolate out towards the edge and repeat around the top to form the spiderweb.
- Repeat with the remaining shortbreads and leave to set for about 3 hours.
- Gently remove from the cases, being careful not to smudge the spiderweb, and eat!
So, three weeks into university life and I’m still alive!
I have been into the centre of York a few times now since I’ve been here, and I absolutely love it. It is such a picturesque city, with so many old buildings and cute little shops which I am slowly exploring!
York also has more than its fair share of cute cafés, which I discovered when I went on ‘the great York hot chocolate crawl’ last weekend with York Vision lifestyle (which you can read about here http://www.yorkvision.co.uk/lifestyle/where-to-get-the-best-hot-chocolate-in-york/15/10/2013 ), which inspired me to make my own vegan hot chocolate (http://www.yorkvision.co.uk/lifestyle/bye-bye-cadburys-the-ultimate-homemade-hot-chocolate/16/10/2013 ).
I love making crumble because it’s so adaptable; you can add so many different flavours and fruits, and it comes out slightly different every time. This is especially good for me at university, as I can use whatever we have in the cupboards, and whatever fruit is in season. We are lucky enough to have a college orchard here, so for this crumble, I picked a couple of apples to use – free food! I also had some porridge oats, so I threw them in too, but brown sugar, ground almonds or some roughly chopped nuts would all work well.
Apple and cinnamon crumble:
2 large Bramley apples
130g plain flour
Sprinkle of cinnamon
75g butter, chopped into cubes
80g caster sugar
50g porridge oats, or whatever you have in the house, e.g. ground almonds
Liberal squeeze of golden syrup
Pre-heat your oven to 180
Medium oven proof dish
- Peel, core and chop the apples into large chunks, and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes until they are softened.
- Put the flour, cinnamon, sugar and butter in a bowl and rub together until you get a breadcrumb-like texture.
- Add the porridge oats and mix in, then drizzle over some golden syrup and roughly mix it in with a knife.
- Spoon the apples into an oven-proof dish and sprinkle the crumble on top.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until the apples are bubbling and the crumble is golden.
Despite being really busy this week, with lectures starting for real, and lots of work to do, on top of the basic things like shopping (who knew an Asda order could take 3 hours?!) and washing, I have still found time to do plenty of baking this week. I find that baking is such a good way to relax, and even when my workload grows (I haven’t ventured into the library yet…) I’m still going to try and bake as much as possible!
Now, I never need an excuse to bake, but yesterday I had two very good ones; firstly, my flatmate’s birthday, and secondly, a ‘bake and greet’ at baking soc. I made salted caramel and raspberry brownies for baking soc, which disappeared before I could get a picture of them!
For my flatmate’s birthday, however, I decided to try out something I have been wanting to make for ages; an ombré cake. I ordered some pink gel food colouring from Asda and experimented with the amount to use in each cake. It actually turned out really well, considering I only have one bowl, so had to use a jug to make the icing…! This is such a good cake to make for someone’s birthday, as it looks impressive, but is actually very easy to make.
Pink ombré cake
For each batch of 2 cakes:
150g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
150g self-raising flour
Red gel food colouring
For the filling:
250g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Splash of milk
300g icing sugar
40g cocoa powder
Splash of milk
2 x 20cm round cake tins, greased and lined with baking paper
Pre-heat the oven to 180C
- Make the first batch of cakes – put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until you get a batter. Divide into 2 mixtures by weighing 300g of the mix into another bowl.
- Add 30 drops of gel food colouring to one of the bowls and 20 to the other
- Spread into the tins and bake for 25 minutes, until they are risen and golden.
- Next make the other 2 cakes using the same method, but adding 10 drops of food colouring to one bowl, and leaving the other plain.
- Whilst the second cakes are cooking, make the filling. Put the butter, icing sugar, vanilla and a drop of milk into a bowl and mix until you get a smooth icing. Add more milk if it’s too stiff.
- Let the cakes cool while you make the icing. Put the ingredients into a bowl and beat until you get a smooth icing – you want it to be a bit thinner than the filling, so it’s easy to spread.
- When the cakes are cool, put them on a plate or cake-stand, and sandwich together with the vanilla icing.
- Gently ice with the chocolate icing by piling it on top of the cake and smoothing down over the sides.
- Decorate with chocolate buttons and candles (or if you live in student accommodation, don’t actually light the candles, just use them for decoration…!
As I talked about in my post last week, on Saturday I made the journey up to York to start university. Obviously this is a big move in my life, not just in terms of baking, but so far it’s going really well, and I’m having lots of fun! Although that might all change next week when lectures start for real.
This is our kitchen! It’s quite big, and has a good oven for baking, although rather predictably for a student kitchen, it’s not looking very tidy…!
This week was pastry week on the bake off, and although I was sad to see Glenn go, I do think he was the weakest contestant. Frances’ fig roll pudding looked amazing, as did her puff pastries, and I definitely think she was deserving of star baker, finally!
However, I didn’t feel brave enough to attempt a suet pudding or choux pastry in our kitchen just yet, particularly as the only time we had used the oven prior to today was to cook pizza…! I decided to make brownies instead, because they’re definitely good for the soul, and a morale boost was exactly what our flat was needing this morning! These are very simple but very yummy – what’s not to love?!
150g caster sugar
65g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
25g cocoa powder
100g chocolate, roughly chopped
23cm round cake tin (or an 18cm tin and a mini heart tin, like I used!)
Pre-heat the oven to 180C
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, then pour onto the sugar and mix well. Leave to cool for a few minutes while you line your tin with greaseproof paper.
- Add the eggs to the mixture and stir, then sift over the flour, baking powder and cocoa.
- Fold in, then add the chopped chocolate and stir again.
- Pour into the tin and spread out evenly, then cook for 25-30 minutes, until the top has a crust, but still a slight wobble.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then cut into slices