Sunday, 7 February 2016

Paris-Brest With Crème Mousseline

Hello Everyone

For ages now i have been obsessed with Edd Kimbers Instagram - theboywhobakes.
He was the winner of the first series of The Great British Bake Off and his pictures are to die for. I had also read an article he had written in the newest edition of the good food magazine which at the bottom referenced his own book - Patisserie Made Simple.
So this weekend i went and purchased it to add to my growing collection of cook books.

All the recipes inside are classic french patisserie and look super yummy, also if like me you are still learning there is a brilliant part at the back which helps with all the basics you need for the recipes in the book. For example, a basic macaron recipe and how to make creme patisserie and pastry types.

The thing that caught my eye in the book were the Paris-Brest, i had seen them being made on an episode of Great British Bake Off and me and my mum both thought they looked so good!
So thats what I've spent my morning doing.
The pastry is named after the Paris to Brest bike race and was created in 1891 by a pastry chef who wanted to design a pastry to celebrate the race that went by his shop.

Pâte à choux
  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 40g plain flour
  • 45g strong white bread flour
  • 2-3 large eggs
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • icing sugar for dusting
Praline Paste
  • 150g blanched hazelnuts
  • 150g caster sugar
  • pinch of flaked sea salt
Crème Mousseline
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 500ml whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 75g cornflour
  • 250g unsalted butter

  1. To make the crème mousseline, put the vanilla bean paste and the milk into a saucepan. Put over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, put the eggs and egg yolks into a bowl and add the sugar and cornflour, then whisk until smooth. Pour over the boiling milk, whisk constantly until combined. Return the mixture to the pan and over the heat and whisk constantly until thickened. Cooking for a few minutes extra to remove the taste of the cornflour.
  2. Pour the mixture into a clean bowl and add half the butter, stirring to combine. Press a piece of clingfilm onto the surface of the custard, cool and then put in the fridge for 2-3 hours until chilled.
  3. To make the praline paste preheat the oven to 180ºc / 160º c fan / gas 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Put the nuts onto the tray and bake for 10-15 minutes until brown and fragrant. Remove the tray from the oven and set aside to cook the sugar. Here you can leave your oven on ready for the pastry or turn it off and then reheat.
  4. Put the sugar into a small saucepan over a medium heat and cook, without stirring, until the sugar has dissolved and is a dark amber colour. Be careful as it can burn very quickly. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the caramel over the nuts, then leave to set.
  5. Once cooled, break into chunks and put them into a food processor. Pulse until chunks are broken down a little then process until smooth. If you are worried about your food processor over heating, stop and wait 10 minutes then continues until you have a smooth paste.
  6. Next pre heat your oven again to 180ºc / 160º c fan / gas 4 and line two baking trays with baking parchment. Using a 8cm cookie cutter draw 4 rings onto the back of each piece of parchment and set aside ready for your pastry.
  7. To make the choux, put the butter salt and sugar and 120ml water into a medium pan over a medium heat. Once the butter has melted and the mixture is at a rolling boil, add the flour and quickly stir together with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a dough.
  8. With the pan still on the heat, stir the dough vigorously for 2 minutes, then tip the dough into a bowl and beat until it stops steaming. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until fully combined before adding the next. Depending on the flour used and how much water evaporated as you made the dough, the choux pastry will need varying amounts of egg. It is best to add the eggs slowly and check the texture of the dough after each addition. You are looking for a dough that has a shine and when it is lifted from the bowl it should fall from the spatula in a 'v' shape.
  9. Transfer the choux pastry to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip ( known as a french star tip). Pipe the choux into rings on the lined baking trays using the circle template that were made earlier.
  10. Brush the choux pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Turn off the oven and leave to cool in the oven for 30 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. To finish the creme mousseline, remove from the fridge and beat the remaining butter in a separate bowl until light a fluffy. Add a quarter of the pastry cream at a time into the butter and beat until combined between each quarter. Add the praline paste and mix until combined.
  12. To assemble the pastries, use a serrated knife to slice horizontally through the centre of the choux rings. Transfer the mousseline to a piping bag with a large star top and pipe the cream onto the base of the pastries. Place the choux ring tops back onto of the cream and lightly dust with icing sugar to serve.
The pastry rings along will keep for 2 days in an airtight container. The filling can be made and kept in the fridge for unto 1 week in advance.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Cinnamon Madeleines With Winter-Spiced Caramel

Hello Everyone!

I brought a madeleine pan quite a few months ago and ever since it has just sat in my draws of plenty - never used. But yesterday i made my first ever batch of madeleines! 
The first few came out a little small but once I had gotten the hang of it they became bigger and more shell like.
I started with a pretty simple recipe for these french classics, as I didn't want to go too complicated for my first try. It took altogether about an hour since i only have one pan and had to bake in batches, but if you have more than one pan it wouldn't take long at all to make these beautiful afternoon tea treats.

The recipe is one from the James Martin Home Comforts cook book and was pretty much the first thing that caught my eye! I have a very sweet tooth so i tend to go straight to the desserts first in a book.

Also I'm going to show you how to make an amazing winter spiced caramel from scratch - the cinnamon and star anise are perfect to transform a simple caramel into the perfect accompaniment to your madeleines.

This Recipe Serves 4-6

For The Madeleines

  • 225g unsalted butter, plus extra for the tins
  • 250g caster sugar, plus 75g for dusting
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scarped out ( reserve the pod )
  • 2 tablespoons runny honey
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For The Caramel

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 350ml double cream
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 25g unsalted butter

  1.  To make the madeleines, preheat your oven to 160ºc /325ºf / gas mark 3 and lightly butter your madeleine tins.
  2. Gently heat the butter in a saucepan until melted.
  3. Mix the sugar and flour in a bowl, then add the vanilla seeds, honey and eggs.
  4. Whisk in the melted butter until you have a nice smooth batter. Spoon onto the tin, only filling each indent half way.
  5. Bake each batch for 12-15 minutes for the larger madeleines, or 8-10 minutes for smaller - depending on your tin.
  6. Whilst the madeleines are still warm, mix the sugar for dusting with the ground cinnamon in a large shallow dish. Place in the madeleines and roll around to coat. The madeleines can then be kept in and airtight container for up to a week.
  7. For the caramel, place the sugar into a pan and heat until golden brown. Don't stir the pan but swirl it occasionally.
  8. Pour in half the cream and bring to the boil, stirring well.
  9. Add the star anise, cinnamon, reserved vanilla pod and butter, then put in the remaining cream and cook for two or three minutes until thickened and smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a serving bowl.
  10. Serve the madeleines with the caramel sauce and enjoy.

I really enjoyed making these beautiful and tasty madeleines this weekend! They where perfect with tea and coffee with friends and family. Snacking on while knitting ( yes i have started knitting!) Also with a nice hot drink after coming in from an early morning walk.


Saturday, 16 January 2016

Pea And Ham Soup... With Fluffy Dumplings

Hello Everyone.

Recently I have been obsessed with James Martins home comforts and i couldn't wait to make something that for me is a staple home comfort, a hearty soup.
I have never been a fan of tinned soup, so homemade is really the only time i get to eat it and pea and ham would have to be one of my favourites - along with my mums butternut squash soup!

Now this soup has to be one of the most filling things i have ever eaton and is so simple to make. Its jam packed with vegetables and has a brilliant flavour thanks to the chunks of beautiful smoked gammon. The fluffy dumplings nestled on top makes it more than just a soup - it turns it into a proper British hearty meal. It's a perfect winter warmer for cold english days and since its given snow tonight i thought it would be perfect for a family lunch after a nice long countryside walk.

The Pea and Ham Soup

  • 600g smoked gammon
  • 3 onions, peeled
  • 3 sticks of celery, trimmed
  • 3 large carrots, peeled 
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • ground pepper
  • 500g frozen peas
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
  • 1/2 a lemon
The Fluffy Dumplings (makes 12)

  • 200g self-raising flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • sea salt
  • 100g unsalted cold butter ( tip; place the butter in the freezer 5-10 mins before use)
  • 1 whole nutmeg, for grating

  1. Cut the gammon into long slices roughly 2cm thick, discarding any fat and skin. Then place them into a very large, deep pan.
  2. Finely chop the onions and celery, roughly chop the carrots, add to the pan and throw in the bay leaves.
  3. Cover with 3 litres of water, add a good pinch of pepper and place on a high heat
  4. As soon as it starts to boil, put then lid on and tun down the heat and leave to simmer for 1 1/12 hours, skimming away any foam or froth that forms on the top as it cooks.
  5. Meanwhile, put the flour for the dumplings into a bowl with a pinch of salt, then grate the chilled butter into the bowl and add a pinch of nutmeg.
  6. Add about 60ml of cold water to the mic and combine with your hands until it is one doughy piece.
  7. Divide into 12 equal-sized pieces and roll into balls. Place on a floured tray, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge until needed.
  8. When your cooking time is up, taste the broth. The smoked meat should have seasoned the soup nicely but this give you the opportunity to season to your taste.
  9. Use tongs to remove the gammon from the broth and place the meat onto a board. shred and tear into irregular pieces and return them to the broth.
  10. Bring it back to the boil, add the peas and chopped rosemary and grate over the zest of the 1/2 a lemon.
  11. Next place your dumplings carefully on top of the broth. Turn the heat down to medium and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the dumplings have plumped up.
  12. Serve straight the way and enjoy.


Sunday, 10 January 2016

Cinnamon And Raisin Loaf

Hello Everyone.

For christmas this year i received The Hummingbird Bakery, Life Is Sweet, book from my mum which was pretty much the only thing i asked for - apart from a beautiful pare of ray-ban sunglasses - and i just want to make everything in the book! Its full of classic american recipes and some things i would never think of making, for instance a Vinegar Pie and a 7up Poundcake!

I thought just to play it safe for my first recipe from this book i would try out something pretty fool proof - a cinnamon and raisin loaf. This recipe is made up of a basic sweet dough containing raisins with a sweet and warm spice layer of cinnamon and sugar all rolled up and baked in a loaf tin.

It reminded me a lot of a large cinnamon roll which when slice it was recommended could be used perfectly in a bread pudding - which sounds amazing! They have a recipe in the book for a bourbon bread pudding, but sadly the loaf was eaten too quickly! I should have made a second.

For the loaf

  • 85g unsalted butter
  • 235ml whole milk
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon dried active yeast
  • 475g strong bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 150g raisins
For the swirl

  • 30g butter, melted
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoon ground cinnamon 

You will need

  • Flavourless vegetable oil
  • 1 egg and splash of milk combined for brushing
  • 1 900g (2lbs) loaf tin

  1. To make the bread, place the butter and milk into a saucepan and heat until the butter is melted and bubbles appear around the side. Do not boil. Allow to cool until warm to touch. Sprinkle the yeast over the top, stir gently and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Sift together the flour and salt.
  3. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or hand held whisk, mix the sugar and eggs until combined. Pour in the milk and yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add half the flour and beat on a medium speed until combined. Add the rest of the flour and raisins and beat until combined.
  4. Change your attachment to a dough hook and knead the dough on a medium speed for 10 minutes. If your dough is overly sticky, add 30g of flour and knead for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Grease a large mixing bowl with the vegetable oil. Place your dough into the bowl and cover with cling film. Set in a warm dry place and leave for at least 2 hours or until doubled in size.
  6. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a neat rectangle, no wider than the widest part of your loaf tin (about 45-60cm long). Brush the top of the dough with the melted butter. Combine the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the butter smeared dough.
  7. Starting at the far end, roll the dough towards you, keep in it tight and contained. When you finish rolling, pinch the end of the roll onto the main body of the loaf to seal it. Grease your loaf tim with a small amount of softened butter. Place the dough seam down in the tin, cover with cling film and place in a warm dry place to rise for 2 hours.
  8. Towards the end of the 2 hours, pre heat your oven to 175ºc  / 350ºf / gas mark 4. Remove the cling film from the dough and brush the top with the milk and egg mixture. Bake for 40 minutes until well risen, golden and hollow sounding when the base is tapped. Remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool fully before slicing.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as i did. It is well with the time it takes to make it!
Im now off to feed my sour dough started, ready to make a batch of sourdough bread next weekend!
P.S. I also started knitting this weekend which makes me sound a lot older than 20 years old, but its actually quite relaxing - when I'm not going crossed eyes!


Saturday, 9 January 2016

Chocolate, Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Hey Everyone,

It has been so long since i have written on here that i wasn't really sure if i should carry on, but i thought, i cook so much and no one ever really gets to see it, so i might as well share my recipes - good and bad - with you and what i think about the things that I'm eating, since its my favourite thing to do.

I made these cupcakes quite a while ago now but i got great feedback from them and i thought they looked and tasted yummy.

The only thing i wished i had done differently with this bake is used mini pretzels on top, but sadly i couldn't find any anywhere.

So here are my chocolate cupcakes topped with salted caramel buttercream and a salted caramel drizzle.

Salted Caramel

Makes 300ml

  • 245ml Double Cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon sea salt

  1. Gently warm the cream and vanilla extract in a small pan over a low heat. 
  2. Place the sugar and 6 tablespoons of water in a separate pan over a high heat and bring to the boil, making sure not to stir the mixture. 
  3. Allow to boil and bubble for 5-8 minutes, or until it turns a deep, bright amber colour. Keep an eye on it - as soon as its ready, remove from the heat - then gradually add the warm vanilla cream, stirring continuously ( best done with a whisk).
  4.  The mixture may hiss and bubble at first, so take extra care because it is extremely hot. If lumps start to form, speed up the stirring and if any remain at the end, reheat the mixture on a very low heat stirring continuously to get rid of them.
  5. As the caramel starts to cool, sprinkle in the salt and put the mixture into an airtight container. Use straight away or store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Chocolate Cupcake

Makes 24

  • 150g dark chocolate (70%)
  • 350g plain flour
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 370g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 240ml coffee, cooled
  • 240ml butter milk
  • 210ml vegetable oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 160ºc fan / 350ºf / gas 4.
  2. Finely chop the chocolate (best done in a food processor) , then tip into a large bowl.
  3. Into the same bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, sugar and bicarbonate of soda.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, coffee, buttermilk and vegetable oil.
  5. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until smooth ( this can be done by hand or by a stand mixer.)
  6. Transfer the mixture to a small jug (this will need to be done in batches) as this makes it easier to place into the cases as the mixture is very runny)
  7. Carefully fill your cupcake cases two-thirds full.
  8. Bake for 20mins. leave for 10 minutes in the tray then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.

Salted Caramel Buttercream

For 24 cupcakes

  • 300g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 675g icing sugar
  • 4-5 tablespoons salted caramel

  1. Beat the softened butter with an electric mixer for 4-5 minutes, or until pale and smooth.
  2. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl, add to the butter in stages, better well in-between each.
  3. Gradually add the milk and beat for a further 2 minutes.
  4. Finally add the salted caramel and beat for a final 1 minute.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, transfer the butter cream to a piping bag with your nozzle of choice (i prefer a star nozzle). The transfer 3-4 table spoons to another piping bad without a nozzle and make a small hole at the end, this is to drizzle onto the cakes.
Pipe your butter cream onto the cakes and lightly drizzle with the salted caramel from a slight hight. The for decoration i added a large salted pretzel, you could also use miniature pretzels or toffee popcorn could also be a nice topping.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Lemon Meringue Pie

Hello everyone

The best part of a Sunday dinner is the dessert, am I right! And over the weekend I may have brought something I have wanted for many many years... A KitchenAid !!

I popped into John Lewis when out for a casual shop with my sister and saw the beauties all lined up and I couldn't resist. I have wanted one for so long and decided to take the plunge and just get one. You only live once and they last a life time!

So after carry the heaviest box known to man halfway across the town centre and shakily going home with my jelly arms, my mother decided it would be nice to make a lemon meringue pie for dessert on Sunday, which I happy obliged as I get to use my new stand mixer!

I hope you enjoy the pie as much as we did!


For the pastry
  • 225g/8oz plain flour
  • 175g/6oz butter
  • 45g/1¾oz icing sugar
  • 1 large free-range egg, beaten
For the lemon filling
  • 6 lemons, zest and juice
  • 65g/2¼oz cornflour
  • 250g/9oz caster sugar
  • 6 free-range egg yolks
For the meringue topping
  • 4 free-range egg whites
  • 225g/8oz caster sugar
  • 2 tsp cornflour

Preparation method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  2. First make the pastry. Measure the flour and butter into a food processor and blend together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the icing sugar, egg and one tablespoon of water and whizz again until combined to a ball.
  3. Tip the pastry onto a work surface and roll out to a 3mm thickness. Use the rolling pin to lift the pastry up and transfer it to line a 23cm/9in loose-bottomed flan tin. Be careful not to stretch the pastry as you tuck it into the corners. Cover in cling film and place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Take the pastry-lined tin out of the fridge and trim the excess pastry. Press the top edge of the pastry so that it stands slightly higher than the top of the tin.
  5. Line the pastry case with parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake for about 15 minutes then remove the beans and parchment and return to the oven for a further five minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 170C/340F/Gas 3½.
  7. For the filling, mix the lemon zest and juice with the cornflour and stir to form a smooth paste. Measure 450ml/16fl oz of water into a pan and bring to the boil. Add the lemon cornflour mixture to the hot water and stir over the heat until the mixture has thickened, then remove from the heat.
  8. In a bowl mix together the sugar and egg yolks and carefully whisk into the lemon mixture in the pan. Stir over a medium heat until thickened. Set aside for a few minutes and then pour into the baked pastry case.
  9. For the meringue, whisk the egg whites in a free-standing mixer until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Add the caster sugar a little at a time, still whisking until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Add the cornflour and whisk again.

  10. Spoon on top of the filled pastry case and spread the meringue to completely cover the lemon filling. Then create a swirl on the top of the meringue. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until the filling is completely set and the meringue is lightly golden and crisp. Serve warm or cold.

    Thought I would add a photo of my new mixer! 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Chocolate & Spice Hot Cross Buns

Hello everyone

Since it's almost Easter I wanted to make one of the best parts of the holiday.. Hot cross buns!

My whole family love them and I wanted to try a spin on them which I had seen in the good food magazine.

Not only have they got lots of raisins, but lots of chocolate! And I love anything containing chocolate!

This recipe makes 12 buns

Prep: 40 mins plus rising and proving

Cook: 20-25 mins

Hot cross bun Ingerdiants:

Sunflower oil for greasing
Zest and juice of 1 large orange
225ml/8fl oz semi-skimmed milk
50g/2oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
1 large egg
450g/1lb strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp fast-action yeast
50g/2oz golden caster sugar


140g/5oz raisins
100g/4oz chocolate/70% cocoa
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
4 tbsp golden caster sugar
100g/4oz plain flour

1. Make the doughnut first. Heat the milk in a pan until steaming. Remove from the heat, and drop in the butter. After a couple of mins, bet in the egg and half he orange zest. The liquid should be just warm for step 2.

2. Mix the strong flour, yeast, 1 tsp salt and the sugar in a large bowl, then tip in the liquid and stir to make a soft dough without dry patches. Flour the work surface and your hands, then knead the dough for 5-10 mins until smooth and elastic. Use a stand mixer or processor if ou like. Oil a large bowl, sit the dough inside it, then cover with oiled cling film. Rise in a warm place for about and hour or until doubled in size.

3. Put the raisins and half the orange juice into a small pan or covered bowl, and either summer for a few mins or microwave on high for 1 min until hot. Cool completely. Break the chocolate into a good processor with the cinnamon and 2tbsp sugar, then pulse until finely chipped. Mix in the rest of the zest. If you don't have a food processor, chip it by hand or grate it, then mix with the other ingredients.

4. Turn the risen dough onto a floured surface and press out to a large rectangle , a little bigger than A4 paper. Scatter it evenly with the chocolate mix and raisins, which should have absorbed all the juice ( drain them if not ). Roll the dough up around the filling, then knead it well for a few mins until the chocolate and fruit is evenly spread. Some chocolate and raisins will try to escape, but keep kneading them back in.

5. Grease then line a large baking sheet with baking parchment. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape the buns by pinching each ball of dough into a purse shape, concentrating on making the underneath of the ball (which will be the top) as smooth as you can. Put the buns, smooth side up, onto the baking sheet, leave room for rising. Cover loosely with oiled cling film and prove in a warm place for 30-45 mins or until the dough has risen and doesn't spring back quickly when prodded gently.

6. Heat oven to 190c/170c fan/gas 5. To make the paste for the crosses, gradually stir 6-7tbsp water into the plain flour to make a smooth, thick paste, then put in a food bad and snip off the endat about 5mm. Pipe the crosses, the. Bake for 20-25 mins until the bus are risen and dark golen brown.

7. Mix the rest of the orange juice with the remaining sugar and let it dissolve. Brush the syrup over the buns while hot, then leave to cool. Eat on the day of baking or toasted the next day.