Lemon and blueberry swirl cheesecake

Lemon and blueberry swirl cheesecake

IMG_4056[1]

I thought the recipes on Bake Off this week were a bit odd, the Spanish Windtorte looked pretty complicated (and like it needed a LOT of eggs!), and the 3 tier baked cheesecake was a bit over the top – who would actually ever bake and eat a 3 tier cheesecake?! Nadiya’s cheesecakes did look absolutely amazing though, and I loved her decorations. Tamal’s also looked and sounded really yummy, and it was a shame he didn’t get star baker, especially after his crème brulees, which looked so good. I’m glad Mat managed to redeem himself with the cheesecakes and wasn’t eliminated, even after committing the cardinal sin of Bake Off and serving Mary Berry coconut, not once but twice!

Since nobody in my house likes baked cheesecake – it does have a weird texture, and I think baking cheese is just wrong! – I decided to make a fridge cheesecake with a lemon shortbread base. This means that apart from the base, it doesn’t need any baking, so you don’t have to test that wobble! The lemon in the base and centre means the whole thing isn’t too rich, and the blueberry swirl gives it a fruity tang all the way through.

IMG_4043[1]

Read more

Advertisements
Thyme, cheddar and walnut soda bread with fig jam

Thyme, cheddar and walnut soda bread with fig jam

IMG_3905[1]

This week’s bake off was such a good one! Although I do think Paul should have been given Star Baker for his amazing bread lion sculpture, but I do understand why Ian got it instead. It was easy deciding what to bake for this week’s Great Blogger’s Bake Off – I didn’t have the time or patience to attempt a bread sculpture (or enough people to feed it to!), and baguettes looked a bit boring, so soda bread it was! I really liked the idea of soda bread being something you could whip up in the minimum time – indeed my loaf took 45 minutes from start to finish – yet still look like an impressive loaf to serve.

This thyme, cheddar and walnut soda bread is so easy to make, you literally chuck all the ingredients into one bowl and mix them up into a dough. The thyme is supposed to be subtle, but to just set off the flavour of the cheese with a herby edge. The fig jam is, of course, optional, but we have a prolific fig tree in the garden which produces more fruit than we can eat, so this jam is perfect for using them up.

IMG_3864[1]

Read more

Cranberry, hazelnut and dark chocolate biscotti

Cranberry, hazelnut and dark chocolate biscotti

IMG_3656[1]

It always seems to be the case that we’re on holiday for biscuit week on the Great British Bake Off. However, I’m not one to let a small matter such as a foreign country, untranslatable ingredients and a lack of recognisable baking equipment stop me from baking along! Last year we were in Jersey (admittedly much easier to find ingredients!) when I made these (https://elliespinkcakes.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/lemon-and-white-chocolate-biscuits/) lemon and white chocolate biscuits, and this year, in Croatia, I attempted biscotti.

I had already baked these and was sitting down to watch when Paul said that his (and Mary’s!) choice of biscotti recipe would involve hazelnuts, cranberries and dark chocolate…. the very combination I had chosen for mine! These biscotti really did have all the odds stacked against them: I was baking in 36 degree heat, with a very temperamental oven, no scales, and something I bought from the supermarket assuming it was plain flour…. in hindsight though, I’m really not sure it was! However, they actually turned out pretty well, they would definitely pass Paul’s ‘snap’ test, although admittedly do have a better texture once dunked in coffee!

IMG_3653[1]

Read more

Orange and berry plait

Orange and berry plait

IMG_0853[1]

So last week on the Bake Off was Advanced Dough! I thought all the bakers did well, I especially liked the look of Richard’s doughnuts, and I can’t believe he was star baker for the 4th time! I was sad to see Martha go, but she did amazingly well, and I’m sure we will see more of her in the future!

I decided to make a fruity enriched plait, with orange zest in the dough and dried berries and cherries kneaded in. These pictures are from the second time I tried it, the first time I made it I think I put too much orange zest in, and it retarded the yeast, because it didn’t rise properly, and came out really flat and odd! But the second time I made it it turned out well!

IMG_0839[1]

IMG_0847[1]

Orange and berry plait

For the enriched dough:

  • 350g strong white bread flour
  • 40g softened butter
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 6g salt
  • 1/2 a beaten egg
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 150ml warm milk
  • 50ml water

For the filling:

  • 70g mixture of dried berries (I used dried cranberries and cherries)
  • beaten egg to glaze

1 greased and floured baking sheet

  1. Bring the milk and water to the boil in a saucepan and then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  2. Add the sugar, yeast, salt and flour to a large bowl and mix. Stir in three-quarters of the lukewarm milk and water mixture, then mix in the egg, softened butter and orange zest.
  3. Combine, using your hands, and then add as much of the remaining milk and water as you need to get a soft, sticky dough.
  4. Knead on a lightly floured clean work surface until smooth, elastic and no longer sticky. Knead in the berries, shape into a ball, place in a large oiled bowl, cover and leave for 1-1½ hours, or until doubled in size.
  5. When it has risen, knock back to push some of the air out, then divide into three and roll each ball out into a sausage about 40cm long.
  6. Place all three lengths onto your baking tray and secure them together at one end. Plait the dough together, and then secure the other ends together so you have a nice plait shape.
  7. Prove the plait for 45 minutes until doubled in size, then brush with egg and bake for 35- 40 minutes until golden brown and cooked.

This post is entered in week 7 of the Great Bloggers Bake Off, run by the lovely Jenny Paulin over at http://www.mummymishaps.co.uk/.

Chocolate Eclairs

Chocolate Eclairs

IMG_0774[1]

Last week was pastry week on the Bake Off, and saw the bakers making savoury parcels, a very odd technical (sensing a theme here!) of Kouign Amman, and show stopper eclairs. I though all the bakers did really well, they’re all so good now I don’t know who’s going to leave each week! Chetna’s eclairs looked amazing, and I absolutely loved Richard’s ‘éclair stair’, I thought it was inspired and was a great way to present his eclairs.

As my friend and I were having a baking day anyway, we decided to challenge ourselves and make eclairs! I have made eclairs once before, a long time ago, and although they’re similar to profiteroles, which I made for my baby croquembouche, they’re a French staple which I wanted to have another go at. I was actually surprised by how easy they were to make – apart from a bit of arm work to whisk the eggs in (or use an electric whisk!) they were really simple, and came out looking great. In hindsight, and after watching Bake Off, I think I piped the pastry while it was a bit too warm, as some of the eclairs spread out a bit too much.

Also last week I was Star Baker in the #GreatBloggersBakeOff – so Thankyou Jenny, that was such a lovely surprise!

IMG_0760[1]

Chocolate Eclairs

For the choux pastry:

  • 75g chopped butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 175ml water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the filling:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 15g cornflour
  • 15g butter
  • 200ml milk
  • 250ml double cream

For the topping:

  • 100g dark chocolate, melted
  • 50ml double cream

2 baking sheets lined with baking paper

25cm bundt tin, greased and dusted with flour

  • Heat your oven to 180°C
  1. To make the filling, heat the milk and vanilla to boiling point. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar until pale, then stir in the cornflour. Pour the hot milk over the egg yolk mixture and whisk until smooth. Return to the pan and heat gently, stirring constantly, until thick.
  2. Put the thick custard into a clean bowl cover the surface with cling film and leave to cool completely.
  3. To make the pastry, heat the butter, water and salt over a gentle heat until the butter melts. Increase the heat and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and quickly beat in the flour. Keep stirring until the mixture is smooth, glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan.
  4. Allow to cool for a few mins, then gradually add the eggs, mixing well with an electric whisk between each addition.
  5. Spoon the pastry mix into a piping bag fitted with a 2cm plain nozzle. Pipe 14 buns, about 8 cm long and 2cm wide, leaving space for expanding between each one.
  6. Bake for 15 mins or until golden brown and doubled in size, then put on a cooling rack to cool.
  7. While the elcairs are cooling, whip the cream to soft peaks and fold into the crème patissiere mix. Then melt the chocolate and cream together until you have a shiny sauce.
  8. To assemble the eclairs, cut them in half lengthways and either spoon or pipe in the cream and custard mixture. Spread the chocolate glaze over the top of each eclair and leave to set before serving.

This post is entered in week 6 of the Great Bloggers Bake Off, run by the lovely Jenny Paulin over at http://www.mummymishaps.co.uk/.

Chocolate pecan Gugelhupf

Chocolate pecan Gugelhupf

IMG_0739[1]
So it was European cake week on the Great British Bake off this week! I thought the Princess cake, which was the technical challenge was quite odd – I wasn’t surprised that none of the contestants had ever heard of one before! I thought all of the yeasted European cakes looked really good, especially Martha’s!

I decided to make a Gugelhupf, which originates from Austria, and is traditionally a yeasted cake made with raisins and spice. More recently, however, Gugelhupfs have been made with baking powder, which is the route I went down. While researching, I found lots of recipes for a chocolate and vanilla marble Gugelhupf, so I decided to take this and give it a bit or a twist, using dark muscavado sugar to create a caramel flavour, and adding toasted pecans.

IMG_0732[1]

Chocolate pecan Gugelhupf

For the caramel pecan mixture:

  • 150g softened butter
  • 150g dark muscavado sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 3 eggs
  • 180g self-raising flour
  • 50g natural yogurt
  • 50ml milk
  • 50g toasted pecans, roughly chopped

For the chocolate mixture:

  • 150g softened butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 130g self-raising flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 50g natural yogurt
  • 50ml milk
  • 50g milk chocolate, chopped

To decorate:

  • 50g milk chocolate, melted
  • 100g dark chocolate, melted
  • 50g toasted pecans, roughly chopped

25cm bundt tin, greased and dusted with flour

  • Heat your oven to 180°C
  1. For the caramel mixture, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, then mix in the eggs.
  2. Add the flour, yogurt and milk, then beat until you have a smooth batter, then stir in the pecans and set aside.
  3.  For the chocolate mixture, beat all the ingredients together until smooth.
  4. Dollop alternate spoonfuls of each mixture into the tin, until you have used all of both up. Take a butter knife and swirl both mixtures together, but not too much, or you’ll lose the marbled effect.
  5. www3Bake for 40-45 minutes until the sponge springs back when you touch it, and is golden brown.
  6. Turn out of the tin onto a cooling rack and leave to cool while you melt the milk and dark chocolate separately.
  7. When the cake is cool, drizzle the melted chocolate over and sprinkle over the pecans.

IMG_0748[1]

This post is entered in week 5 of the Great Bloggers Bake Off, run by the lovely Jenny Paulin over at http://www.mummymishaps.co.uk/.

Blackberry Bakewell Tart

Blackberry Bakewell Tart

IMG_0714[1]

Blackberrying is definitely one of my favourite Autumn things to do. I love going on long walks at this time of year, when the leaves are just turning orange, and the air always smells of bonfires, to return home with boxes (and boxes!) of glistening purple blackberries, just waiting to be turned into amazing autumnal bakes! Because this is the best time to pick and eat blackberries, over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be doing a series of blackberry-themed bakes, starting today!

IMG_0700[1]

This week was pies and tarts week on the bake off, and none of the bakes particularly inspired me. We are not fans of custard tart in our house, so that was out, and the 3 tiered celebration pie didn’t really appeal either – who needs that much pie?! So I decided to go for Bakewell tart, a classic, with an autumnal twist in the form of blackberries.

Read more