Friday, 25 September 2015

Chocolate Chip Brioche Bread Pudding

My mother makes a delicious bread pudding with leftover white bread, dried fruit and brown sugar, but here I dare to say I've taken things a step or two further. Using rich chocolate chip brioche, double cream and just a hint of vanilla this is definitely a luxury version, highly indulgent but more importantly, entirely gratifying. I make my own chocolate chip brioche but you can pick it easily in most supermarkets these days. Failing that you can always use normal brioche with a handful or two of chocolate chips.

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: 50-55 Mins
355g Chocolate Chip Brioche
200ml Double Cream
175g Caster Sugar
1/2tsp Vanilla Paste
4 Large Eggs (Beaten)

You should all know the drill by now! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a smallish baking tin (around 27x22cm) with baking paper. Roughly tear up the brioche and toss flamboyantly into the large bowl. Add the cream, sugar, vanilla paste and eggs, then get your hands in there and mix together until evenly combined. Tip into your prepared tin and press to the edges. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 50-55 minutes, until firm and a little to the touch and deep golden all over, then remove and leave to cool in the tin.

When you are happy the pudding is baked remove, slice and DEVOUR.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Dairy and Gluten Free Bitter Lemon and Almond Cake

I've made a many cakes similar to this one before, but none quite as unusual and exotic. Using whole lemons may sound strange, even unpleasant but the acidity really does work, particularly when paired with a thick layer of white icing and with but a few ingredients, the whole thing is a doddle to prepare. Just one point of note, you can hand chop the lemons but if you have a mini food processor it will make your life a darn sight easier!

Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus 40-45 Mins boiling time)
Baking time: 60 Mins
3 Whole Unwaxed Lemons
210g Caster Sugar
5 Large Eggs
200g Ground Almonds
1tsp Baking Powder

For the Lemon Icing
300g Icing Sugar (Sifted)
The juice of around 2 Juicy Lemons

The first task is to boil the lemons. Place the lemons in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and leave with the lid on for around 40-45 minutes, until soft. When a sharp knife cleanly passes through one of the lemons with ease turn off to heat, leave to cool in the water, then drain.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a deep 20cm cake tin and line with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the sugar and eggs until light and frothy. Add the ground almonds along with the baking powder and whisk again to combine. Blitz the whole lemons in a mini chopper, or chop to a juicy pulp by hand, then add to the mixture and fold through. Pour into your prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for around 60 minutes until golden brown on top and a metal skewer comes out clean 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. Once cool you can prepare the icing. For the icing just mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice until white and glossy. Be careful not to add too much liquid as you want this icing quite thick. Remove the cake from tin, spoon over the icing and you're good to go. Well done! 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Liquorice Cakes with Salted Butterscotch Icing

Liquorice seems to be as divisive as it is distinctive and I concede that I’m not a huge fan of it myself. However I was recently tasked with coming up with a recipe using the tricky devil and ever the gentleman, I always try to oblige.

I would have liked to have used powdered liquorice for these sponge cakes, but alas I was unable to source it locally. Instead I gave traditional soft eating liquorice a go, which despite requiring a small amount of palaver, still ultimately did the trick. I’ve topped each with a butterscotch icing and a sprinkling of sea salt and even if the prospect of salt on sweet things doesn’t float your boat, I’d still recommend you do the same. The slight tickle of salt on the tongue proves most welcome with such a saccharine treat.

Prep time: 25 Mins
Baking time: 20-25 Mins
200g Soft Liquorice (Chopped)
Around 2tbsp Water
75g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
125g Light Muscovado Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1tsp Baking Powder
200g Plain Flour

For the Butterscotch Icing
60g Unsalted Butter
120g Light Muscovado Sugar
3tbsp Milk
200g Icing Sugar (Sifted)
A sprinkling of Sea Salt

Cake time! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake cases. Add the liquorice and water to a saucepan, place on a low heat and leave to melt, giving it a vigorous stir every now and again to help break up the liquorice. Whilst the liquorice is melting cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then sift in the baking powder and flour and mix to a consistent batter.

When the liquorice has melted to the consistency of sticky toffee remove from the heat and beat into your cake mixture. It should mix in evenly with a little elbow grease! Spoon the mixture into your prepared cases and bake in the centre of the oven for around 20-25 minutes, until lightly risen, golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into one of the cakes. When you are happy the cakes are baked remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack until cool.

When the cakes are cool you can start on the icing. Add the butter and sugar to a small saucepan and bring to the boil on a medium heat. Leave to bubble for two minutes, then remove from the heat, stir in 2tbsp of milk and return to the heat for a further 1 minute. When golden and glossy remove from the heat and leave to cool for about 20 minutes. Add the icing sugar to a large bowl, then pour in the butterscotch mixture along with 1tbsp of milk. Mix until smooth, then spread a light layer over each of your cooled cakes. I am rather sparing when it comes to the icing as it’s sooooo sweet. Sprinkle each cake with sea salt and your work is done. Hooray!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Dr Phil's Fat Courgette and Lemon Muffins with Poppyseed Icing

Dr Phil recently presented me with a courgette so massive is was very nearly a marrow. Looking at such a bhemoth I could think of only one thing, how could I transform it into delicious cakey goodness? Turns out it was a lot more straightforward than I thought!

These courgette muffins are elementary in their preparation and taste absolutely delicious, with a fragrant lemon flavour and light texture. Adding poppyseeds to the icing is optional but as bizarrely as it may seeem really do work well with lemon, so I'd wholeheartedly recommend giving them a go. Just be careful when you measure them out, as a slip of the wrist and you'll be fishing poppy seeds out of nooks and crannies for months after!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 25-30 Mins
200g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
135g Caster Sugar
175g Courgette (Grated)
2 Large Eggs (Beaten)
75ml Sunflower Oil
1.5tsp Lemon Extract

125g Icing Sugar
1tsp Poppy Seeds
A few drops of Water

Ready... Steady... Go! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cases. In large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, caster sugar and courgette. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, oil and extract. Mix together to a consistent batter and spoon evenly into your cases. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 25-30 minutes, until nicely risen and a metal skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of one of the muffins.

When you are happy they are baked remove the muffins from the oven and carefully transfer to a wire rack until cool. Once at room temperature you can start on the icing. In a bowl mix together the icing sugar and poppy seeds, then dribble in a little cold water and mix until you are left with a smooth, glossy icing. This is not an exact science so start with a few drops and go from there. Drizzle the icing over each of the muffins and your work is done. Ta dah!