We all like to celebrate.

And It may come as some surprise to discover that there isn't a single month in the year that doesn't have some sort of celebratory occassion!

So we are dedicated to bringing you a recipe for every occassion to try every month.
So go on and enjoy something new!

Baking - Is It For Everyone?

blog adBaking has a tendency to divide opinion. Some people can’t see what the fuss is all about – it’s just putting a few ingredients together right? Others cry at the very thought of trying to bake a cake never mind the actual process of creating one. So who’s right?

Well everyone reaches their opinion as a result of something and that something is usually past experience. Now don’t get me wrong, some people are what we call natural bakers – they instinctively have a feel for how different ingredients go together and how the science of baking truly works. Everyone else to a varying degree is affected by experience whether it’s from a young age at home or school or as an adult trying something for the very first time. It’s at this point, I believe, that our experiences determine how we view baking. I had lots of good experiences as a child and that really helped me to develop a love of baking that I still have but I have many friends that had completely the opposite experiences and today are much more confident buying rather than making anything!

But I’m still a firm believer that baking IS for everyone.

If you can read, identify ingredients, follow instructions and have an oven then you can bake but there is one caveat you need confidence.

And this is the crux of successful baking. You don’t need to be Einstein in the kitchen but you do need to believe in yourself as being more than able to achieve in the kitchen.

So how do we become confident in our abilities? Well, this is the fun part – experimentation. We all have to start somewhere and where better than with the basics – a plain sponge cake, a humble biscuit or even a small loaf of bread. Master a simple loaf of bread by pure trial and error (enjoying all of the gorgeous loaves you’ll make on the way) and when you can say “wow” then move onto something slightly trickier and so on until you can sit there and say “I really can make bread!” All that you need to become a confident baker is the right recipes and time to practice them until that confidence just smacks you in the face.

Baking should be fun not a trial to be endured, it should fill you with joy and not dread and the only thing stopping you from enjoying it as you should is you.

So if you do one thing this week, month or year let it be baking!

Mothers Day

sconesHas it really been a year? Here we are again contemplating the arrival of Mother’s Day – the designated one day a year that we can “officially” show our mums how much they really mean to us. For those of us with young children it can often be a poignant reminder of just how blessed we are (once we’ve sorted out the mess that has inevitably been made!) and for those whose children maybe all grow up and flown the nest a reminder of just how precious those memories of years of homemade gifts truly are.

Given that I spend a considerable amount of time baking my mum (and kids) have come to expect an edible gift as opposed to the traditional flowers and so on. This year I’ve decided on a message in a theme cupcake – simple but effective.

As I contemplated what to suggest as a theme for my readers I thought I’d keep with the same principle of simple but effective. I’ve touched upon the joys of receiving a present which has lovingly been made so decided to share with you a recipe that the kids would love to make either with Dad or with Mum for Grandma – Scones. Such a plain looking thing but capable of being totally delicious with the right extras.

So give them a go and let your imagination be your guide. I’ve provide a little inspiration and the rest is up to you.

 

Scones (so easy you’ll wonder why you never tried them before)

Prep time: 10 mins                          Bake time: 12-15 mins                    Makes: 8 -12

Ingredients

225g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting

Pinch of salt

55g cold butter, cut into cubes

25g caster sugar

150ml full-fat milk

1 egg beaten, to glaze

Method

1)      Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

2)      Mix together the flour and salt and rub in the butter until the butter is fully incorporated into the flour mixture.

3)      Stir in the sugar and then the milk to get a soft dough.

4)      Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Pat out to a round 2cm/¾in thick. Use a 5cm/2in cutter to stamp out rounds and place on a baking sheet. Lightly knead together the rest of the dough and stamp out more scones to use it all up.

5)      Brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg. Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden.

6)     Cool on a wire rack and serve with clotted cream and your favourite jam. 


How to Jazz up a Basic Scone

To make fruit scones use a handful of your favourite dried fruits (added at the same time as the milk).

Before serving chop up some fresh fruit (strawberries or raspberries work well) and gently fold them into the clotted cream before serving.

Create chocolate orange scones by adding some chocolate chips and the grated rind of an orange.

 


 

The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 9

trufflesEveryone gets a little stressed when visitors landed unannounced so it's good to have something to hand to offer with coffee.

These chocolate truffles are fantastic and are so easy to make you'll wonder why you've waited so long to make them.

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Truffles

You will need:

300g good-quality dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids

300ml pot double cream

50g unsalted butter

Method

1)      Chop the chocolate and tip into a large bowl. Put the cream and butter into a saucepan and heat gently until the butter melts and the cream reaches simmering point. Remove from heat, then pour over the chocolate. Stir the chocolate and cream together until you have a smooth mixture. Add any flavourings to the truffle mix at this stage (divide the mixture between bowls and mix in liqueurs or other flavourings, a tsp at a time, to taste. Try bourbon, Grand Marnier, coconut rum or the zest and juice of an orange), or leave plain. Cool and chill for at least 4 hrs.

2)      To shape the truffles, dip a melon baller in hot water and scoop up balls of the mixture, then drop the truffles onto greaseproof paper. Or lightly coat your hands in flavourless oil (such as sunflower) and roll the truffles between your palms. You could also use a piping bag to pipe rounds onto greaseproof paper.

3)      Coat your truffles immediately after shaping. Tip toppings into a bowl and gently roll the truffles until evenly coated, then chill on greaseproof paper. Try: crushed, shelled pistachio nuts; lightly toasted desiccated coconut; or roll a truffle flavoured with orange zest and juice in cocoa powder. To coat in chocolate, line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Melt 100g milk, dark or white chocolate for 10 truffles. Allow chocolate to cool slightly. With a fork, pick up one truffle at a time and hold over the bowl of melted chocolate. Spoon the chocolate over the truffle until well-coated. Place on the baking tray, then chill.

4)      Store in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 days, or freeze for up to a month. Defrost in the fridge overnight. 

 


 

The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 7

eggnogloaf blogDay 7 and today we're going traditional.

It may not be everyones cup of tea but homemade eggnog is actually fantastic. If you've only ever tried the shop bought stuff then you wont know what I'm talking about as its as different to the homemade stuff as it possibly could be.

Homemade eggnog is gloriously silky, frothy and creamy and usually full of alcohol to give it just the right kick. I've made it both with and without alcohol and it tastes wonderful both ways.

So give it a go and prepare to be surprised.

 

EggNog Recipe

You will need:
4 medium eggs, whites and yolks seperated
55g caster sugar
225ml whole milk
100ml double cream
nutmeg
generous splash of your favourite tipple(let your conscience be your guide) - whisky, brandy and rum all work well

Method

1) Place your eggs whites into a large greasefree bowl (it's really important to ensure the bowl is really clean before you start) and whisk until you get stiff peaks forming when you remove the whisk.

2) In a seperate bowl add your egg yolks, sugar, alcohol (if using, you can make it without for the kids), milk and cream and whisk together until pale and slightly thickened. Then transfer the mixture into a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring every now and again with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick and creamy.

3) Remove from the heat and add half your bowl of whipped egg whites and gently fold into the egg yolk mixture until combined. Then fold in the remaining egg whites in the same way.

4) The eggnog can be served at once whilst its lovely and warm with just a sprinkle of grated nutmeg on top or if your going to use it in a recipe put aside until needed (it can be stored in the fridge, just cover your bowl with clingfilm.

 

Eggnog Loaf Recipe

You will need:

310g plain flour
125g caster sugar
300ml eggnog
1 1/2 tbl orange jest
3 tbl sunflower oil
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
pinch cinnamon
1 egg

Method

1) Preheat your oven to 180 C/Gas 4. Grease and line a 900g loaf tin with baking/greaseproof paper.

2) Put all of your ingredients into a large bowl and beat until just combined. Transfer the mixture to your prepared loaf tin.

3) Place in the oven and bake for 1 hr. Test to see if its done with a skewer, if it comes out clean its done, if there's still cake mixture on the skewer leave in the oven and continue to check in 5 minute intervals no mixture remains on the skewer.

4) Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

5) To finish I like to dust with a little icing sugar and if you're feeling adventurous a few fondant feastive decorations.- 

 I hope you all enjoy making and tasting and seasons greetings to you all!

 

 

 

The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 6

stollenLast year I had a bit of a German themed Christmas. There was lots of stollen and even more Lebkuchen!

So today's recipe is one I came across last year at Christmas time and made copious times - it did seem to disappear rather quickly in our house probablt because its absolutely delicious.

Maybe one to save for the weekend/holidays when you have a little more time as it does need proving.

 

 

Stollen

Ingredients

Serves: 15 > Prep: 2 hrs  > Cook: 40min  >  Ready in: 2hrs 40min 

2 teaspoons dried active baking yeast

175ml warm milk (45 C)

1 large egg

75g caster sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

75g unsalted butter, softened

350g bread flour

50g currants

50g sultanas

50g red glace cherries, quartered

175g diced mixed citrus peel

200g marzipan (best quality one you can find)

1 heaped teaspoon icing sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

toasted flaked almonds for sprinkling on top

 



Method


1)      In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2)      In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the egg, caster sugar, salt, butter, and 3/4 of the bread flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition.

3)      When the dough has begun to pull together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead in the currants, sultanas, dried cherries and mixed peel. Continue kneading until smooth, about 8 minutes.

4)      Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

5)      Lightly grease a baking tray. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the marzipan into a rope and place it in the centre of the dough. Fold the dough over to cover it; pinch the seams together to seal.

6)      Place the loaf, seam side down, on the prepared baking tray. Cover with a clean, damp tea-towel and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4.

7)      Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 150 C / Gas mark 2 and bake for a further 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

8)      Allow loaf to cool on a wire cooling rack. Dust the cooled loaf with icing sugar, sprinkle with cinnamon and finish with toasted flaked almonds.