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Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Spoon and Whisk feature in Cake Masters Magazine - on sale today!

Just a quick reminder for you all as promised in my last post, Cake Masters Magazine  kindly asked me to be part of their new feature called Blog Spotlight. It is a pleasure to just to be mentioned in a global magazine such as Cake Masters and as you can probably tell I am very excited about it!
Each issue of the magazine is based on a theme and contains regular news, exclusive interviews, recipes, products, tutorials, special themed features and coverage of the best cake and baking shows from across the world.
So go get yourself a copy of the March Issue - on sale as of today!
You can also purchase it online via their website here. 
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Sunday, 22 February 2015

Blueberry and Earl Grey Tea Loaf (+ I'm gonna be in Cake Masters Magazine!)

First things first. Big news! I'm going to be in this coming's March Issue of Cake Masters Magazine, within the new 'Blog Spotlight' featured in the Elevenses chapter. It will be on sale this Thursday (26th February 2015) so keep a look a out... more info to follow later this week. 


Next up, today's bake. Cake! ( Haha that rhymes.) So, I am sure you are all aware, following on from my previous post on vanilla chai cake that I am a lover of tea and more importantly adding it to my recipes to create one awesome, fragrant and deliciously-tasting cake! 
And just so you know, this will be one of the most sophisticated loaf cakes you will ever eat, and there's poppy seeds thrown in there too. (That would just make the title even longer than it already is.)

Earl grey is one of those teas which I used to like drinking, however one day I suddenly went off it and have no idea why?! Just did :(  anyway this didn't put me off infusing it into foods and it really tastes good. Yay! :) happy face. So, I haven't altogether given up on this dreamy, aromatic, calming and comforting cuppa.  
A dream team - blueberries and earl grey... it rules! I was tempted when scouting out some ideas on the internet (well mainly pinterest - let's just admit it) to put lemon into this loaf cake as well, to make this a flavoursome trio. But then again I wouldn't like it, as oh by the way that's another thing I don't like in my cake. (TOO tangy in my honest and blatant opinion, but I suppose it matters how much of it we are talking here.)  

Lastly, to top it all off quite literally... I smeared a generous amount of glacé icing all over. YES baby. And I mean a lot. No one's stopping me. I can't get enough it.

Blueberry and Earl Grey Tea Loaf

Ingredients:

1 Earl Grey Tea bag
90g unsalted butter
115g granulated sugar
2 eggs
140g buttermilk or natural plain yogurt
200 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp poppy seeds 
1 tsp vanilla extract
125 g preferably frozen blueberries
For the Glaze:
65 g icing sugar
enough water to form a thick, pourable mixture 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F/ gas 4
Infuse the tea bag in 120ml of boiling water for 10 minutes whilst you melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat.  Beat the sugar and eggs in a separate bowl and then beat in the the melted butter, followed by the buttermilk/yoghurt. Remove the tea bag from the water, pour the brewed tea into the bowl and stir together. Cut open the tea bag and stir the tea leaves into the bowl as well. Add the flour, baking powder and soda, vanilla extract, poppy seeds and stir together until just combined. Then gently stir in the blueberries.
Pour the batter into a greased and lined large loaf tin about 8 inch across in size. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. You may need to place a foil covering on after 30 minutes into the cooking time to stop the top from browning too much.
 
Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack. Make the glaze by stirring together the icing sugar and enough water to make a thick, pourable mixture (add the water slowly, stirring between additions). Pour over the warm loaf and leave to cool and set.

What I was Baking to...


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Sunday, 8 February 2015

Pimped Up Cauliflower Cheese




I defy anyone to not like cauliflower cheese. Especially my luxe 'pimped up' cauliflower cheese. I hear you ask why...well I'll tell ya. First off the cauliflower is roasted to get rid of all that unwanted sogginess. Next the addition of broccoli. Garlic in the white sauce. Then we have leeks, pancetta and 3 cheeses. Not forgetting that crunchy, golden 'breadcrumbiness' topping! 


I feel like it's the best way to end the week off by making this on a lazy Sunday morning. It takes a little extra effort and time, but at the weekend - who cares? I had this for my Sunday lunch (it's allowed since there's the addition of other things...to make it what I call a proper meal!)  But I suppose you could have it as a side to serve more. 


I used my oh so favourite falcon pie dish, which I think we can safely say is having a bit of a retro revival at the minute! It's the 16cm size, which is perfect for a generous single portion. If you had a few of these - in total it would definitely serve 4. And who doesn't love their own individual dish to tuck into?! Or you can be normal and just save on washing up, and use one massive baking dish.



If you're a vegetarian, sorry! I seem to have messed up YOUR go-to meal. But perhaps if you're feeling the need to try something a little different, (as let's be honest I think you probably get bored of this well-known vegetarian staple) then why not substitute the pancetta for porcini mushrooms? 



Cauliflower cheese has got to be in my top 3 ultimate comfort foods and every once in a while it's perfectly acceptable to indulge yourself. So go on!!

Ingredients

(serves 4-5 as a main)

1 large cauliflower (about 600g of small florets)
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 medium broccoli (about 250g of small florets)
1 knob of butter
3 medium leeks (about 350g finely chopped)
170g pancetta
170g mature cheddar cheese
30g smoked cheese
2 cloves of garlic
50g plain flour
50g butter
500ml semi-skimmed milk
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
20g flaked almonds
2 slices of stale white bread
20g parmesan cheese
a small handful of fresh thyme leaves

Method


Preheat your oven to 200°C/ 400°F/ gas 6. Prepare your cauliflower into small even sized florets. Spread out onto a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss the cauliflower in the oil and then bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes (be careful the cauliflower doesn't burn, you may need to turn them over halfway through roasting). 

Next prepare your broccoli into even sized, small florets and steam them for 15-20 minutes. Next finely slice the leek and melt a knob of butter in a frying pan over a low heat. Sweat the leeks for about 15 minutes in the melted butter, stirring occasionally. While the leeks cook, chop your pancetta into small pieces and add to the frying pan with the sweated down leeks, turn up to a high heat and continually stir for about 7-10 minutes so that the leeks have reduced and the pancetta is beginning to go crispy. 

Grate the cheddar and smoked cheese ready to add to your white sauce. Peel and grate your garlic. Heat the milk up first so that it is just hot (you can do this in a microwave), melt the 50g of butter in preferably a non-stick saucepan, once melted quickly add the flour along with the grated garlic and cook it on a high heat for about 1 minute, it will clump together to form a soft, shiny ball. Next add your milk, little by little, stirring after each addition continuously with a wooden spoon to ensure no lumps. Once all the milk has been added, season with black pepper and nutmeg. Turn down to a medium heat and slowly add the grated cheese, reserving a handful for the topping, stir until all the cheese has melted. Take off the heat. 

Change your oven temperature to 180°C/ 350°F/ gas 4 once the cauliflower has roasted. 

Now you are ready to assemble, first place the roasted cauliflower and steamed broccoli in the base of your baking dish. Scatter over the leeks and bacon, then pour over the cheese sauce. Now to make the topping, blitz the parmesan, bread slices, flaked almonds and thyme leaves in a food processor and then scatter over the cauliflower cheese.  Sprinkle over the remaining grated cheddar and smoked cheese and then bake in the oven for 20-25  minutes until golden and the topping is crispy. Best served hot, can be reheated for a delicious leftover supper the following day!



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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Go nuts with... my Pistachio and White Chocolate Shortbread Biscuits


Let me direct you to the world of shortbread...there are so many culinary flavour paths that you can wander down - ranging from the incredibly sweet to the indulgent savoury. I came across some hidden and long forgotten pistachios the other day.  And this is why I basically decided upon baking these beauties. 

They were still absolutely fine to use (even though they were out of date - who cares...they still tasted alright!) 
But hold on; I've got a confession to make! I've been slightly (well hugely) addicted to pinterest lately and I couldn't contain myself any longer to bake some cute biscuits. Mainly because of the constant supply of beautifully styled biscuits streaming through my pinterest feed recently. (Needless to say I don't think I need to tell you how many food boards I follow do I?!  I think you can comprehend if you're a fellow food blogger too...this is our life - we eat, live and breathe pinterest for inspirational ideas.) 


Here's a fun fact for you all: pistachios are the most slimming nuts, with less than four calories each. Wooahh! (So don't worry guys...this is a valid reason to not be feeling guilty about eating these biscuits. Let's just forget about the sugar and butter content and solely focus on the good stuff, eh?)

Ingredients:

(makes 18-20 biscuits depending on the size of your cutter)

For the shortbread:
350g plain flour
150g caster sugar
220g butter
50g pistachios
50g white chocolate (roughly chopped into small pieces)
For the topping:
100g white chocolate
20g pistachios

Method

Preheat the oven to 150°C/Gas 3/ 300°F. Lightly grease 2 baking trays.
Measure the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips. Finely chop your pistachios for the shortbread dough, into almost a fine powder, you could do this in a food processor or nut/coffee grinder. Add this to the 'breadcrumb' mixture along with the roughly chopped white chocolate and mix. Knead with your hands to bring the mass together. The warmth of your hands will slowly bring it altogether. 
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of about 1cm. Cut out your desired shapes and lay onto the baking trays. 
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until pale golden. Lift onto a wire rack to cool. Melt the white chocolate and then spoon into a small piping bag. Cut a tiny hole in the bag (this should be small enough to create a drizzle effect) and use to pipe criss cross patterns or equally you could do this with a spoon and flick it over the shortbread. Then roughly chop the pistachios for the topping and sprinkle over each biscuit. 

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