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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Rocky Road

Rocky Road

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Welcome to Day 3 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 rocky road are the perfect Christmas gift, as they can be cut into neat little squares, which, when packaged in little paper bags with ribbon and labels look really cute. They would be great to give to teachers, relatives, or chocolate loving friends!

A couple of my friends (who shall remain nameless!) hate it when I put raisins in my rocky road, as they are ‘too healthy'(!), so for them I have made a plain version, simply with biscuits and marshmallows. I’ve also put the ingredients for a Christmassy version, with orange zest and ‘healthy’ dried cranberries.

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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/.

Orange hot cross buns

Orange hot cross buns

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Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without Hot Cross buns, and they are the perfect thing to bake on Easter Saturday: leave them to prove during the day, bake them in the evening, and they’ll be ready for Easter Sunday breakfast!  When I was little I used to call them ‘hot scone buns’, but now I think they’re much better than scones – especially flavoured with orange and cinnamon and studded with raisins and citrus peel like these ones.

These are best eaten freshly baked from the oven, but are just as good up to 3 days after, lightly toasted and spread with butter. Image

For the buns:
  • 300ml milk
  • 50g butter
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 200g mix of raisins, sultanas and mixed peel
  • zest 1 orange
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the cross

  • 75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

For the glaze

  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  1. Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast (see Tip, below) into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough.
  2. Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for 5 mins until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hr or until doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent.
  3. With the dough still in the bowl, tip in the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Leave to rise for 1 hr more, or until doubled in size, again covered by some well-oiled cling film to stop the dough getting a crust.
  4. Divide the dough into 15 even pieces (about 75g per piece – see Tip below). Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with parchment, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover (but don’t wrap) with more oiled cling film, or a clean tea towel, then set aside to prove for 1 hr more.
  5. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Mix the flour with about 5 tbsp water to make the paste for the cross – add the water 1 tbsp at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses (see Tip below). Bake for 20 mins on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.
  6. Bubble the honey and sugar in a saucepan until syrupy, then brush over the buns to glaze.

Recipe adapted from Paul Hollywood

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