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.