Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Hot Cross Blondes

Hot cross blondes!
Hot cross blondes!
One a penny, two a penny... wait a minute, A PENNY? These are far more valuable than that!


Hot cross blondes!
Hot cross blondes!
If you have no daughters, give them to your sons... Give them away? GIVE THEM AWAY!?!!! Are you joking?!!!

Hot cross blondes!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 35-40 Mins
175g White Chocolate (Broken into small squares)
150g Unsalted Butter (Cubed)
175g Light Muscovado Sugar
100g Ground Almonds
50g Self Raising Flour
1/2tsp Vanilla Paste (or 1tsp Vanilla Extract)
1tsp Almond Extract
2 Large Eggs and 1 Yolk
25g Dark Chocolate (Melted)

To the kitchen! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a 20cm square baking tin and line with baking paper. Melt together the white chocolate and butter, either over a bain-marie or in the microwave (if you are confident in your timings), then set to one side to cool slightly for 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl mix together the muscovado sugar and flour, then add the melted chocolate and butter, followed by the vanilla paste and almond extract. Give it all a brief mix, then add the eggs and mix with vigour until you are left with a smooth consistent batter. Pour into your prepared tin and even to the edges.

Drizzle the dark chocolate in lines over the top of the mixture, so you will be left with crosses when the blondes are cut. You can be accurate and precise with this, but in all honestly I am rather cavalier when completing this task myself. Place the tin in the centre of the oven and bake for around 35-40 minutes, until risen and golden brown. When you are happy the blondes are baked remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin, before placing in the fridge for an hour. I do this prior to the chopping as these blondes are VERY fudgy, so chilling them makes it much easier when it comes to the slicing.

Speaking of which, carefully remove the baked blonde mixture first from the fridge and then from the tin, peeling off the baking paper as you go. Slice into squares (or whatever shape you fancy) and you have finished. Huzzah!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Torta De Santiago

¿dónde está la panadería?
me encanta hornear pasteles
más errr pasteles ummmm por favor

Ok, so a cunning linguist I may not be, but I do love a Spanish treat. This Galician torta is a wonderful little delectation, whose origins can be traced back as early as the middle ages. Gluten free, with ground almonds, fragrant citrus and warm cinnamon spice a perennial recipe it may be, but the result is anything but tired. It's also a visual stunner, dusted with sweet icing sugar and decorated with a cross of St James. I make my cross template by simply printing off the template, sticking it onto some cardboard and cutting around the edge. This is a fiddly task I concede, but worth a little time and effort. So what are you waiting for? Vamonos!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 40-45 Mins
5 Large Eggs (Separated)
200g Golden Caster Sugar
The zest of 2 Lemons
The zest of 1 Orange
1tsp Ground Cinnamon
200g Ground Almonds
2tbsp Icing Sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a 20cm loose bottomed baking tin and line the base with baking paper. In a large clean mixing bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff, then set to one side. In a separate bowl beat together the egg yolks, caster sugar and zests until light and fluffy, then add the ground cinnamon. Fold through half of the egg whites, followed by half of the ground almonds, then repeat until you are left with a smooth, consistent batter. Spoon into your prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for around 40-45 minutes, until a metal skewer can be cleanly removed when inserted into the middle of the cake. When you are happy the cake is baked remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

When the cake has cooled carefully remove it from the tin, peeling the paper from the base. Place your prepared template in the centre of the cake and dust liberally with icing sugar. There you go, your work is complete. Felicitaciones!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Magic Peanut Butter Cookies

Baking is about more than just cooking. Baking is MAGIC. Don't believe me? Then have a look at this little beauty. I present you with a cookie recipe with no butter and no flour. That's right, your eyes do not deceive you. This is a cookie recipe with NO BUTTER and NO FLOUR. Just peanut butter, an egg, a sprinkling of sugar and some baking powder. That's all you need, I kid you not. I've added a dash of vanilla paste for an additional depth of flavour, but you could go ahead and mix things up, perhaps with a handful of chocolate chips, a sprinkling of cinnamon, or even a little crushed sea salt. Even without additional embellishment though these are nothing short of delightful and a real exercise in anticipation. If your oven has a window you will not be able to tear yourself away!

Prep time: 10 Mins (Plus some chilling time)
Baking time: 12-14 Mins
225g Smooth Peanut Butter (A small jar)
115g Caster Sugar
75g Light Muscovado Sugar
1 Large Egg
1/2tsp Vanilla Paste
1/2tsp Baking Powder 

Let the magic commence! In a large mixing bowl cream together the peanut butter and sugars, then beat in the large egg. Add the vanilla paste and baking powder, then mix to a sticky dough. Cover the bowl with a sheet of cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for around an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line 2 large flat baking trays with baking paper. Remove the mixture from the fridge and uncover. Take a small amount of the chilled dough, roll into a small ball (a bit smaller than a golf ball) and place on your lined tray. Repeat for the rest of the mixture, evenly spacing the balls apart, as they will spread slightly during baking. You should get around 12-14 balls from a single batch. Place the trays in the centre of the oven and bake for around 12-14 minutes, until slightly spread, just cracked and colouring on top, then remove from the oven. The cookies may look domed when you remove them from the oven but will settle as they cool (creating a wonderful chewy centre). Carefully slide the paper from the trays onto wire racks and leave for 20-30 minutes. Once the cookies have cooled slightly you can peel each from the paper and return to the wire racks to cool completely. Hey presto!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

My Baking Adventures - Jan/Feb/Mar 2015

Is it March already? My my, doesn't time fly when one is baking! Here's a little peek at some of my recent baking adventures. All questions and comments are welcome as always...