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Archive for September, 2010

Blueberry Traybake

I have a bad baking relationship with blueberries. No matter how delicately I coat them in flour, or how gentle I am while folding them into the mixture, they are on a high-speed one-way trip to the bottom of the tin. They still taste good though, and I suppose that’s what matters!

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The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking. For the challenge, we must make the Basic Sugar Cookies using the recipe provided and decorate them with the theme of ‘September’.

I must say, I loved this challenge! As usual, I only got round to it at the last minute (the final icing is still drying 🙂 ), but of all the challenges  I have completed so far, this has been my favourite. I still need some practice to produce the perfectly decorated cookie however – that outlining is harder than you would think! You can see some fantastically creative cookies and get the recipe info over at the Daring Kitchen.

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Swedish Visiting Cake

I’ve had Dorie Greenspan‘s book ‘Baking: from my home to yours’ for a few months now, but I hadn’t got round to baking anything from it.  This book has an amazing online presence on the blog ‘Tuesdays with Dorie‘, where a large group of food bloggers take part in a baking frenzy every week! Each week a recipe is chosen from the book and everyone in the group bakes and blogs about it. I have been checking in every week with jealousy at the fabulous creations. 🙂 To create such a loyal fan club, I knew Dorie’s book must be something special. My big delay in trying out a recipe was the selection – there are so many different and equally wonderful sounding recipes, it was difficult to know where to begin. Earlier this week I was in the mood for something almond-y, and this Swedish Visiting Cake has optional add-ins of vanilla and almond extracts. I had everything I needed in the kitchen cupboards, so I decided to give it a go!

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Back to the grind….

It has been unusually quiet around here lately….because I’ve been on holidays! A whirlwind trip around Tuscany 🙂

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Muffins a-go-go!

I’m looking for a winning muffin recipe. Preferably one bowl.  A recipe that will stand up to variations and craziness depending on mood and what’s lying around. It’s a tall order.

This is the first recipe I’ve tried and, for now, the last. This is a good solid recipe producing (mostly) fluffy, moist muffins. It’s from Tamasin Day Lewis’s Kitchen Bible. I made four different variations of this recipe – one with chocolate chunks and mixed nuts, another batch with bananas and walnuts, a third batch with rhubarb and ginger with a crumble topping, and finally a batch of double chocolate where I substituted cocoa powder for some of the flour and threw in some chocolate chips.

Here’s the basic recipe:

170g/6 oz self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

110g/4 oz caster sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

75g/2.5 oz unsalted butter, melted

1 egg

100ml milk

100ml live plain yoghurt (cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

140g/5 oz blueberries or cherries, raspberries, redcurrants, etc

Crumble Topping (optional):

30g/1 0z butter

30g/1 oz light muscovado sugar

45-55g/ 1.5 – 2 oz flour

Preheat the oven 180C/325F/Gas 4. It’s essentially a one bowl recipe, though you will need some other receptacle to melt the butter. For the first batch, with chocolate chips and mixed nuts, I used cinnamon as in the recipe. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the same bowl. Tip in the sugar and cinnamon.

Then add the egg and melted (and cooled) butter to the dry ingredients

Add the milk (I used semi-skim), yoghurt (organic natural yoghurt) and vanilla, and mix it up well:

In this batch I made up 140g with:

  • 100g chopped milk chocolate
  • 40g chopped hazelnuts and walnuts

I stirred that in and popped the mixture into some muffin cases.

These quantities made 12 regular sized (like cupcakes) muffins. I never make those massive muffins you see in bakeries (though I rarely say no if I’m offered one!).

These were tasty mouthfuls. Fluffy and not overly sweet. So far, this recipe seems good.

Next up, I made the same basic recipe with the following changes:

  • mixed spice instead of cinnamon
  • (almost) 2 bananas, mashed and a handful of walnuts – about 160g in total

This was a struggle as I really don’t like banana. I don’t like to touch it and I don’t like the smell. But I have tasted banana bread and I know that it can be mild and less banana-y than actual bananas so I gave it a go!

These were a bit squishier than the chocolate chip version but I did go over the 140g of ‘extras’ as in the recipe. So they weren’t as fluffy and light as before. They disappeared pretty quickly so they can’t have been all bad!

Next, I made a batch of rhubarb and ginger with a gingery crumbly topping.

  • ground ginger instead of cinnamon
  • 140g frozen rhubarb, defrosted and excess juice discarded
  • basic crumble topping with half a teaspoon of ground ginger added

I separated the batter between 12 cases, and they cooked in about 30 minutes.

And finally, I made a double chocolate version.

  • Instead of 170g of self-raising flour, I used 140g of self-raising flour and 30g cocoa powder
  • coffee essence instead of vanilla extract (you wouldn’t notice)
  • I made up 140g of extras with 110g dark chocolate chips and 30g sliced (flaked?) almonds
  • I also used skim milk as I was out of semi-skim

I made these muffins slightly bigger, only filling 11 cupcake cases. They took just under 30 minutes in the oven. The muffin tasters (who had been willing muffin tasters over the last couple of weeks) declared these ones ‘savage’.

😀

The only thing I would change with the double chocolate ones is that I would add a bit less sugar. Cocoa + chocolate chips + 110g sugar made them a little too sweet for my tastes. That said, no one else complained! My favourites were probably the rhubarb and ginger. I love rhubarb and the crumble topping really added something and made the muffin much more exciting!

It’s worth noting that this is truly a recipe for sweet cakey muffins. I have been looking at a more breakfasty muffin recipe, with oats, that’s less sweet and has some savoury variations. I’ll blog about that soon. To be honest, I’ve had enough muffins for the time being.

Yay for muffins!

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Chicken & Chorizo Rice Bake

I found this recipe on week 6 of the boards.ie Cooking Club! Every week a delicious sweet or savoury recipe is posted by a boards.ie user to get us all into the kitchen and experimenting with new recipes! I’m (very) slowly making my way through the recipes (I made the Brownies from week 17 already – highly recommended sinfulness!) and I have so many on my ‘to-do’ list. Be sure to check it out!

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