Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Random Bakes Of Kindness

Vanessa Kimbell, has created a quiet revolution across the internet with her #RBOKindness , the idea being to bake a little more of whatever you are baking and gift it to someone who you think deserves it as a gift.

What a lovely idea, I am all for sharing the love and if it makes someone smile even better. Personally I shared my last bake "Agave Cookies" with my lovely elderly neighbour "Jenny", despite being in her late 80's she still gardens and does her own cooking. I love popping in for a chat, sharing recipes and local gossip, correspondingly she is always willing to take in parcels when we are out and keep an eye on things when we are not there.

Check out Vanessa's blog for more details if you are interested in taking part.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Agave nectar baking - cookies

I have an interest in more unusual ingredients (you may have noticed) and also slightly more healthy recipes ( I know how can cake be healthy !), so I thought I would give Agave nectar a go. This a natural sweetner extract from the mexican wild agave cactus. You need to adapt your standard recipes but there are plenty on the internet for you to try.

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup spelt, whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup agave nectar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp. vanilla paste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, preheat oven to 180c, place small balls on dough on a oiled baking sheet, press down well, bake for approx 10-15 minutes, cool slightly and then transfer to a wire cooling rack until fully cool.

Star Anise Biscuits

As there is a distinctly autumnal feel in the air and despite it being August, thoughts turn towards spicy baking which warms the soul. This recipe is based on a James Martin Recipe from BBC Good food. Aniseed flavours take me back to my childhood and the dark hard aniseed balls which you used to suck on for hours until they yielded a small anise seed in the middle. This biscuit has all the flavours of those sweets. It would also be ideal to serve with poached seasonal fruit ( apples, plums, blackberries) and cream, ice cream or custard.

  • 50g farmhouse butter
  • 2 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 1 tbsp treacle
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground star anise
  • 140g plain flour
  • 1/2tsp bicarb
  • some oil for the baking tray

Preheat oven to 180c, then melt the butter, syrup, treacle and syrup in a pan until all the sugar is dissolved. Mix this with the sieved dry ingredients, this will result in a sticky paste, remove from bowl and wrap in cling film and chill for 30 mins or more.

Gently roll out using a little extra flour until fairly thin, cut in to required shape and place on lightly oiled baking tray, place in oven and bake for approx 5 minutes until lightly golden. Allow to cool slightly on tray and then transfer to wire rack to cool fully. Store in an airtight tin.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Lancashire Pasty Company

What do you get when with classic flavour combinations are encased in pastry, = "The Lancashire Pasty Company".

The company established by Barry Woods specialises in using local quality ingreduients to create a classic pastie with a twist. I have been fortunate enough to sample the Caramelised onion and Black Pudding Pastie, a delicious combination which could have been heavy and fatty, but it wasn't, amazingly tasty, juicy and with a hint of mustard.

The "fish, chips and mushy peas" is a revelation, just like a classic chippy tea even with the vinegar. And for those of you with a sweet tooth apple, sasparilla and custard". Again a classic, the best that old parish Lancashire has to offer wrapped in pastry.

Genius !

Friday, 26 August 2011

Parsnip , apple and syrup cake

As you have probably noticed I have a thing about vegetable based cake recipes, this weekend's bake uses parsnip as its base. My recipe is based on one I found on bbcgoodfood.com, "Catherine Berwick's parsnip & maple syrup cake". However for economy reasons I swapped the majority of the maple syrup for golden syrup and also used a buttercream filling.

  • 175g butter or butter/ quality vegetable margarine
  • 250g demerara sugar
  • 100ml maple syrup or golden syrup
  • 3 eggs - free range
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 250g parsnip, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium eating apple, grated, no pips or core
  • zest and juice of an orange
  • icing sugar for finishing

Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and base line 2 sandwich tins. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan gently, until all melted. Allow to cool slightly, then beat in the eggs, stir in the flour, baking powder and spice. Now add the parsnip, apple and orange. Pour into your prepared tins. Bake for 25-30 mins until cooked when tested with a skewer.

Cool on a wire rack, once cooled slightly take the cakes out of the tins and allow to cool fully.

You could fill with cream, buttercream, soft cheese or mascapone. I mixed up a vanilla buttercream and filled the cake with this.

This is a very light tasty cake, the spicy note is lovely and slightly autumnal.

Delicious !!!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Sticky Gingerbread cake

I normally bake at weekend and was inspired by a friend on facebook who was making Ginger cake so I decided to give a new recipe a try. The recipe proved very easy to make and produced 2 loaves of gingerbread.

  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp bicarb
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 115g butter
  • 115g treacle
  • 115g syrup
  • 115g dark brown sugar
  • 275ml milk
  • 1 egg - beaten
Grease and line 2 x 2lb loaf tins

Preheat the oven to 180c . Start by sifting the flour, bicarb and spices into a bowl. Add the cubed butter and rub in like you are making pastry, you could use a food processor. Warm the treacle and sugar in a pan or in the microwave, do not boil. Melt the sugar in the milk by gently warming. Allow to cool until lukewarm.

Quickly mix the milk mixture and then the syrup mixture with the flour, then add the egg, mix well and then pour into the prepared tins.

Bake for approx 45 mins until when tested with a skewer and is fully cooked.

Turn out of tin when fully cooled, wrap and leave to go sticky for at least a day if you can resist that long .

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Blackberry Crumble cheesecake

Currently we have loads of blackberries ready in the garden, we grow the thornless variety "loch ness" and its great, very reliable. We had friends from Spain visiting so I made this for dessert for our "tea". It was enjoyed by all, left overs went to work the next day and disappeared very quickly.

  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 125g butter melted plus a little more to grease the cake tin
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 300g full fat soft cheese
  • 2 eggs separated
  • 250ml double cream
  • 100g blackberries , halved
  • vanilla paste
  • Topping
  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g butter cold
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 100g blackberries halved

You will need a deep springform cake tin

Firstly pre heat the oven to 160c. Crush your digestive biscuits to a fine crum, I use a food processor and then add the melted butter, I use the microwave, pulse to mix and the form the base in your cake tin, press it down firmly. Now grease the rest of the tin with the reserved butter. Chill whilst you make the filling.

Whisk half of the caster sugar with the soft cheese, then add the vanilla paste and the egg yolk. Once well mixed add the double cream.

Now whisk the egg whites until at the stiff peak stage, now add your rest of your sugar in 2 stage, whisks well, until shiny and well peaked.. Now mix the meringue mixture to the cheese mixture, don't worry too much about loosing air in the mixture

Now spoon a layer of the cheese mixture on to your base and top with some blackberries, add more cheese mixture and more blackberries until you run out of mixture. Now place this in the oven to bake for approx 20 mins whilst you make the crumble topping.

To make the topping, rub the butter into the flour, once it resembles crumbs add the sugar and the blackberries. After the 20 mins have passed carefully top the cheesecake with the topping and bake for another 40 mins , don't be alarmed if it rises then sinks this is normal. Once golden on top remove to cool fully before springing the cake tin. Keep refrigerated.

Delicious !!!!!

Monday, 8 August 2011

CCC No 1 - Chocolate Beetroot Cake

In honour of the inaugural South Lancashire Clandestine Cake Club, i need a reliable but showy recipe. This cake has already been featured on BBC Radio Lancashire and on BBC North West Tonight, so I thought it fitted the bill.
  • 180ml sunflower oil
  • 190g self raising flour
  • 60g cocoa powder ( i use Green & Blacks)
  • 1tsp bicarb
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 250g cooked beetroot
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract or 1/4tsp vanilla paste
Preheat the oven to 180c
Oil and line a round cake tin, approx 23cm in diameter, I use a spring clip one, its easier.
In a large bowl sift the flour, cocoa and bicarb, stir in the sugar.
Puree the beetroot in a processor , until well pureed. Add the dry ingredients, then add the eggs and vanilla and then the oil. Mix well and then pour into your prepared tin.
Bake in the oven for approx 45 - 50 mins, or cooked when tested with a skewer. Remove and cool on a wire tray.
To ice mix 250g icing sugar with a little water and red or pink colouring to make a thick icing, pour over the icing and allow to set. Now you let your artistic side reign free and melt white and dark chocolate separately in the microwave, about 25g of each type and then drizzle all over the cake.
The cake went down very well with the South Lancs Clandestine cake club members.
If you are interested in joining the South Lancs Clandestine cake club check out the link.
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