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Sunday, 21 September 2014

Banoffee Eclairs

I've been inspired by the Great British Bake Off this week to make some of my own eclairs which are a step away from the bog standard cream and chocolate (not that there is a problem with them at all).
 
I have to confess that they aren't entirely my own invention; after deciding that I wanted a banoffee theme I decided to look around on Google, when I stumbled upon Donal Skehan's blog, with a recipe for Salted Caramel banoffee eclairs. I've adapted his recipe as I'm not a fan of salted caramel (I know strange right?! But I just can't get to like the thing) I thought that I would make a different toffee caramel glaze and add some finishing touches of my own. And the glaze is easier to make than Donal's anyway...bonus!

So with a creme patisserie to make, choux pastry to bake, chocolate to be tempered and toffee to be boiled...you'll probably gather that this isn't a quick baking fix and not something you can just knock up in an hour.  However I'm not trying to put you off because let me tell ya they are delicious!

Maybe my next eclair venture will be something more fruity...a hint as to what's to come on the blog for the near future shall we say?

I hope the Great British Bake Off is inspiring you to bake more adventurous things as much as it is for me. Who do you think will bag the top spot this year?!


Ingredients (makes 13 eclairs)


For the choux pastry:
60g of salted butter
130ml of water
80g of plain flour, sifted
3 large free range eggs
For the creme patisserie:
4 large free range egg yolks
80g of sugar
35g of cornflour
300ml of milk
1 vanilla pod/ 1tsp vanilla extract
100ml of double cream, whipped to soft peaks
3 bananas, cut in slices
26 walnut halves
50g mixture of milk and plain chocolate (however bitter you prefer)
For the toffee caramel:
50g butter
50g dark brown sugar
half a 397g can of carnation condensed milk

Method

Preheat the oven 220˚C/ gas mark 7/ 425˚F  and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the butter and water in a saucepan and bring to a steady boil until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and add the flour, beating with a wooden spoon until a dough comes together. Place back over the heat and beat the dough in the saucepan for about 40 seconds.
Remove from the heat and set aside. Beat one of the eggs in a small bowl.
Add the the remaining two eggs to the warm dough, one at a time, beating thoroughly until completely incorporated after each addition. Add a little of the beaten egg at a time until you have a consistency that will hold it’s shape when piped. It should be smooth, shiny and just about fall from the spoon.
Using a spatula, scoop the dough into a large piping bag fitted with a large round piping nozzle and pipe 10cm lines on the lined baking sheets, leaving about 4cm in between each line to allow for spreading. Brush each one with the little leftover beaten egg.

Place in the oven, reducing the heat to 190˚C/ gas mark 5/ 375˚F, for approximately 25 minutes until they have risen and are golden and crisp.
Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Using a bread knife split each bun in half.
For the crème patissière, split the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds. Add this to a medium saucepan with the milk and place over a medium high heat. Bring to the boil and then turn off the heat. Scoop out the vanilla pod.
While the milk is coming to the boil, place the sugar, cornflour and egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and beat with a whisk until thick and pale.
Pour the hot milk into the bowl, whisking quickly and continuously until it is smooth and incorporated. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and place over a medium heat beating continuously until it has thickened. Transfer the crème pâtissière to a cold bowl, create a flat surface with the back of a spatula and wipe the top with a little butter (this will prevent a skin forming). Cover directly with cling film and allow to cool completely.
To make to toffee caramel glaze, melt the butter and sugar into a non-stick saucepan over a low heat, stirring all the time until the sugar has dissolved. Add the condensed milk and bring to a rapid boil for about a minute, stirring all the time for a thick golden caramel. Spread the caramel into a bowl to cool down and thicken. 
To make the tempered chocolate squares, break the chocolate into small pieces and melt over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the temperature goes up to 42˚C/107˚F measuring with a sugar thermometer and then take off the heat, stirring and cooling to 31˚C/88˚F. Then spread out the chocolate onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment with a palette knife. Put into the fridge and chill until set. Once set take out of the fridge and slice into small squares, then put back into the fridge to firm up some more.
To assemble the eclairs, mix the crème pâtissière with the whipped cream and fill a piping bag, fitted with a small round nozzle. Pipe the cream on to the inside of the bottom of the choux bun, add slices of banana, and place the choux bun lid on top. Spread the toffee caramel glaze over the top of each eclair (I find it easier with a piping bag)  and repeat with the rest. Top each eclair with 2 walnut halves and then place on a tempered chocolate square.
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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Friday, 12 September 2014

Rhubarb Tarts


First off, I'd like to start by saying that this week was my first time back at school (well sixth form now actually)...after what felt like a forever lasting summer holiday! Probably I would say 12 ish weeks! (OF COURSE I'M NOT COMPLAINING- I mean who doesn't love a holiday?!) But it's taking me a little while to adjust and juggle my work around baking, blogging, food styling...well you get my point!  So anyway, what I'm trying to say is that posts may be a bit more irregular until I get into the swing of things. 

This week- Rhubarb! 

These tarts are almost like Bakewell tarts, apart from the fact that they don't contain frangipane...oh you should also know that I hate almonds, but hang on a minute your probably thinking to yourself...that looks like some flaked almonds sprinkled on top. Yes! yes it it, I like them - just not the taste that ground almonds gives you when mixed into a cake. So here's a head's up guys- you won't find any almond recipes (or even marzipan) at all on my blog, unless I've given in to trying something different for a wild change.

Another classic component to Bakewell tarts is the jam. WELL there is no jam in here, however I made a rhubarb filling- like a compote which is spread onto the pastry base. Lastly the tarts are topped with a dab of tasty sweet buttercream (which can by the way be flavoured with almond extract instead of vanilla if your a fan, uughh!) and a sweet almost caramelized rhubarb stick. 

See I've even made a handy diagram for ya lovely people- handy and helpful eh?!

These tarts I think are best served cold, you can't have the buttercream piped on otherwise, silly! And no need for custard. What! I hear you say...well another fact for you, I don't like custard very much! I know- fussy right?! But seriously the tarts don't need it. 

You can't make these tarts in a hurry, if you've noticed by scrolling down to the the recipe, there are several stages to this recipe so don't rush!! But they are definitely well worth the time and effort.

You could make this tart big too, just roll the pastry to 5mm thickness and increase the baking time a little for the cake mixture. Go all out with decoration however you may please, I can picture a geometric circular pattern of rhubarb sticks pointing towards the centre with small dollops of buttercream on the outside. Arty! 

Rhubarb Tarts


Ingredients (makes 8 individual tarts roughly 9-10cm diameter each):

You will need 8 loose-bottomed fluted tart tins

For the pastry:
250g plain flour
125g butter
40g icing sugar
2-3 tbsp cold water

For the rhubarb filling:
190g rhubarb
45g caster sugar
1 orange (zest and juice)
enough water to just cover the rhubarb

For the rhubarb topping:
1 stem cut into 8 pieces 
sprinkle of caster sugar

For the cake filling:
100g self-raising flour
100g caster sugar
100g margarine/butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract (or almond if you prefer)

For the buttercream:
120g sifted icing sugar
50g butter/margarine
1/2 tbsp milk
a drop of vanilla extract ( or almond)

For the glaze:
Reserved rhubarb syrup liquid
2 tbsp apricot jam

a handful of flaked almonds

Method


Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F/ gas mark 4

Firstly to make the pastry, I like to do this in a food processor because it is quicker and easier but you can also do this by hand. Blitz the flour, icing sugar and butter together until it forms a breadcrumb consistency. Next add the water and pulse until it clumps together in a large ball of dough. If you have time, cover in cling film and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes, however you can still work with the pastry straight away if short on time. 

Roll out the pastry to roughly 3-5mm thickness and cut rounds that will fit nicely in your tart tins. Allowing extra to make sure you cover the sides and leave a bit hanging off the edge, then when baked you can trim this off to leave a perfect edge and prevents shrinking from the sides. Prick each base with a fork lightly and then line with baking parchment/foil and fill with baking beans or rice. Bake them in the oven for 15 minutes and then take off the weights and paper/foil and bake for a further 5 minutes to fully dry out.

Whilst the pasty cooks, you can make the filling. Cut and trim the rhubarb into 2cm pieces, place the rhubarb in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with the orange zest and juice, add the sugar and enough water to just cover. Heat so the sugar dissolves and then bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes, then leave to stand for 10 minutes. Drain well, reserving the liquid for the glaze later. 

Next make the rhubarb topping, place the rhubarb on a baking tray lined with foil, sprinkle over some caster sugar and cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes at the same temperature-  checking often, until the rhubarb is just softening but still holds its shape.

To make the cake filling, place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl, beat with an electric hand whisk or wooden spoon until smooth and there are no lumps.

Once the pastry has blind baked, trim off the edges and spoon some of the cooled rhubarb filling (not the juice) into each pastry case. Then spoon 2 small teaspoon of the cake mixture on top, smoothing out so you can't see any of the rhubarb. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until when a  skewer is inserted into the cake it comes out out clean.

When the tarts have 5 minutes left to cook, make the glaze- mix the apricot jam with the reserved rhubarb syrup and add a dash of water to loosen it in a saucepan. Heat over a medium heat until the glaze is runny but not reducing with bubbling. When the tarts come out of oven, brush a little glaze over each tart, then sprinkle over a few flaked almonds. 

Leave the tarts to completely cool whilst you make the buttercream, Place all the buttercream ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat until thick and smooth. Once they are cold, fill a piping bag with the buttercream and dab each tart with some, then add a cooled baked rhubarb stick. 

If not eaten on the day, they are kept best in an air-tight container in the fridge.




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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Pretty Rose Biscuits

As the summer holidays draws to a close (and I start sixth form next week) I felt the need for a nice summery biscuit which echoes all that is great about this time of the year. Smells which reflect an English cottage garden; delicate in both flavour and colour - these pretty biscuits are a huge step away from the giant chocolate chip cookies which predominantly own the 'cookie scene'! 

I'm not saying that those chewy chunky biscuits don't have a rightful place in our lives...but sometimes we all just need a dainty, rose-scented biscuit to make the perfect addition to our afternoon teas. Or maybe make them as a present, say, for a baby shower. 

This recipe is from The Primrose Bakery Book by Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas...which by the way is an amazing book and definitely worth the buy! 

The recipe says to sandwich 2 biscuits together with a thin layer of  icing in between, but I decided that there was enough icing to contend with just on the top - thank you very much! However that would explain why there was sooo much icing left over (ooopps basically I just forgot and didn't read the recipe properly) but sshhh no one needs to know that. (Wouldn't get passed the great British bake off judges though would it?!)  

But anyway it all worked out quite well in the end. And twice as many finished biscuits instead! I do think I made them quite thick though, didn't expect them to rise as much as they did. But all in all they taste damn good! 

Primrose bakery also tells you to use crystallized rose petals to decorate, but as you can see I did not. As I found dried edible rose petal sprinkles in a Waitrose aisle, (clink this link here to buy them). Which are easy enough (and cheaper!!) to find unlike their crystallized sister who has to be bought from specialist bake stores.  

Note: if you are using different-sized cutters, the cooking time will vary. Smaller biscuits will need to be removed from the oven sooner.

Different varieties of rose water vary in strength.  Primrose Bakery recommend a strong one, Star Key White, available from Waitrose. If using a weaker one, remember to increase the quantities recommended below to achieve the same taste. However I used Nielsen Massey brand and I felt that it was strong enough.

Rose Biscuits

Ingredients (makes approx. 15 finished biscuits)

85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g golden caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp rose water
200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp baking powder


 
Rose water icing:
450g icing sugar
1 tsp rose water
About 6tbsp hot water
Pink food colouring (optional)


Method


Using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the egg and the rose water and beat again. In a separate bowl sift the flour and baking powder together. Add this to the butter and sugar mixture and beat gently until well combined.

The resulting dough should be not too sticky which would make it too difficult to roll out - if it is, add more flour, just a tiny bit at a time.

Gather your dough together and wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for 1 hour.

When you are ready to make the biscuits, preheat the oven to 180°C/ gas mark 4/ 350°F and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 5mm. You may need to add a little more flour. Using a circular biscuit cutter, about 5.5cm in diameter, cut out as many biscuits as you can from the dough. Place the biscuits on the baking trays, about 1cm apart. Bake for 10-12mins until golden brown. 


Once they are cooked, transfer them to a wire rack to cool fully before icing and assembling. 

To make the rose water icing- Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the rose water and then beat in enough hot water to make a stiff paste. If using colouring, add a drop or two to the icing and beat again. This should be plenty to give a beautiful pale pink colour.

When the biscuits are cool, sandwich 2 biscuits together with a thin layer of the icing in the middle and another on top. Finish with edible rose petals or a crystallized rose petal. 

Any uneaten biscuits will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container at room temperature.




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