Florentines

Florentines

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Welcome to Day 9 of the 12 days of Christmas on Ellie Bakes, where I will be sharing a festive recipe every day until Christmas Eve. I think Christmas is the best time of the year for baking, and I have lots of great recipes to share!

These Florentines make brilliant last minute Christmas presents, and would also be great nibbles for a Christmas party. You can make bigger ones with larger biscuit cutters which would also be perfect for dunking in a cup of tea!

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Mince Pies

Mince Pies

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Welcome to Day 6 of the 12 days of Christmas on Ellie Bakes, where I will be sharing a festive recipe every day until Christmas Eve. I think Christmas is the best time of the year for baking, and I have lots of great recipes to share!

Mince pies are a Christmas essential, and these are really simple to make. They are perfect to make for Christmas gatherings, and are easy for children to get involved with!

You can vary the additions to the mincemeat – I also like using orange zest and chocolate chips, or you can add other dried fruits like cherries and apricots. You can also use different toppings, I like to use a brown sugar meringue, or a simple crumble mixture as an alternative to pastry.

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Orange and berry plait

Orange and berry plait

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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!

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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/.

Sugar and Crumbs review and Valentine’s Day Brownies

Sugar and Crumbs review and Valentine’s Day Brownies

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A couple of weeks ago I was sent a bag of goodies by the lovely Sugar and Crumbs, who are a company selling naturally flavoured icing sugars and cocoa powders. I was sent their new flavours to try, which included a salted caramel icing sugar, coffee icing sugar, black cherry icing sugar, and my personal favourite: cherry cocoa powder.

I found this cocoa powder really easy to work with, and it had a great cherry flavour. In these brownies I used some cherry cocoa and some normal, as I didn’t want the cherry to be too overpowering, as well as making my sample last longer!

These brownies would be perfect for a Valentine ’s Day tea party, as they are squidgy and chocolatey, with a hint of cherry, and some juicy cherry pieces. Or, of course, you could just eat them all yourself…!

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Chocolate Cherry Brownies:

175g butter

350g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

3 eggs

125g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

30g Sugar and Crumbs cherry cocoa powder

20g normal cocoa powder

60g dried cherries, soaked in boiling water mixed with 1 tbsp cherry cocoa powder for 2 hours, then chopped.

80g dark chocolate, chopped

20 x 30cm baking tray, greased and lined with baking paper

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then pour onto the sugar and mix well. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then add the vanilla.
  2. Add the eggs to the mixture and stir, then sift over the flour, baking powder and cocoas.
  3. Fold in, then add the chopped chocolate and cherries and stir again.
  4. 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.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then cut into slices
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