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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Carrot and Orange Loaf Cakes


Hiya lovelies. It's about time I posted a cake recipe don't ya think?! (In my brand new sparkling oven - with a light!!!) Eeeekkk. I know. It's been a long time coming, and guess what it feels almost kinda weird being able to make such a luxury as a cake, it's like i've been trained into by passing/ignoring any recipe of the sort that involves using an oven. And now the oven door has opened up a whole new baking world of possibilities. (Soz for being so dramatic there...I'm just so excited.)


It's all just good timing as well with the Great British Bake Off starting once again next Wednesday (August 5th,) I can't wait to see all the new bakers and challenges for this year, I'll be able to bake along too whenever I fancy as it's the school holidays, well, sixth form holidays!! Yaaayy. Doesn't quite have the same ring really does it? 


Anyway, ages ago I bought some cute mini loaf tins, this was all pre-oven breakage, then that happened and I've been dying to try them out ever since. FINALLY I can make these carrot and orange loaf cakes!

The orange hit isn't too strong as that's not what I wanted here, just enough to get a subtle but zesty flavour. The icing is also made with a tiny bit of the orange juice and for a nice bit of deco a couple of orange strands. Lovely. 


I added some walnuts to the cake mix too but you can always leave them out or swap them for another kind. I can't tell you how light yet moist they are, so the loaves will definitely keep for a few days in an air tight container, pfftt that's if they manage to last that long. Yeah right.

If you don't have mini loaf tins you could buy some disposable, oven bakeable mini cases from most big supermarkets or just regular cupcake cases, they'll still taste just as good whatever shape. 

Carrot  and  Orange  Loaf  Cakes

Makes 9 


Ingredients

1 orange
150g softened butter + extra for greasing (or cake release spray)
150g light brown sugar
175g grated carrot
2 eggs
200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground mixed spice
55g chopped walnuts

To finish:
about 2-3 tbsp acacia honey
90g icing sugar
1 tbsp juice from the orange
orange zest strands

Method

Preheat your oven to 170°C/ 325 °F/ gas 3. Line the base of 9 mini loaf tins with a strip of greaseproof paper and then grease lightly with butter or cake release spray. 

Grate the orange rind, leaving some as zest strands for decoration later. Put the finely grated orange rind into a large mixing bowl along with the butter, sugar, grated carrot, eggs, flour, baking powder, mixed spice and walnuts. Finally, cut the orange in half and squeeze about 1 tbsp of the juice into the bowl. Mix everything well until thoroughly combined. 

Distribute the cake mix evenly among the loaf tins and then bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until when a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and whilst still hot, quickly brush over each loaf a bit of honey to give a nice shine and then place back in the oven for 2 minutes. Remove from the oven again and then leave to cool in their tins for 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the loaves to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, in a small bowl stir the icing sugar together with about 1 tbsp of orange juice strained through a sieve and mix to a smooth, gloopy dropping consistency. Once the cakes are cooled, spoon over a little icing with a board underneath the wire rack to catch any drops. Place a couple of orange zest strands over the centre of each and leave the icing to set.


What I was Baking to...

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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Light and fluffy strawberry marshmallows


Marshmallows are becoming a bit of a 'thing' at the moment, they're the new cupcakes (well that's what everyone's saying!!) The quintessential element to a childhood mug of creamy hot chocolate and now the classic sugary bite sized sweet is moving towards gourmet, grown- up fare. 


 In America they can go for roughly $1 apiece, in flavours such as mango, vanilla caramel swirl and lavender. Top UK chefs have started serving these pillowy puffs to guests as petit fours, not a bad way to finish off a meal eh? (I'd stay away from the savoury versions though, I'm not liking the sounds of them...stick to sweet I say.)

I thought I'd see what all the fuss is about and have a try at making some for myself. There are a couple of ingredients you will most likely need to make a shopping trip for, unless you happen to have liquid glucose just lying around the house! You will also need a sugar thermometer. I went for strawberry flavoured marshmallows using some natural strawberry extract that you can find in most big supermarkets or cook shops and I added a little food coloring to give them a lovely pastel pinky colour. 




They are unbelievably sticky little things which makes them tricky to turn out onto a sugar dusted board ready to slice up, so a word of wisdom - keep your knife coated in a mixture of icing sugar and cornflour. I ended up cutting mine in the tin and lifting the pillowy squares out one by one with a dusted palette knife. 



Ingredients

Recipe adapted from James Martin's BBC food recipe


455g/1lb granulated sugar
1 tbsp liquid glucose
200ml/7fl oz water
2 large free-range egg whites
7 sheets premium quality gelatine, soaked in 140ml/5fl oz water
1 tsp natural strawberry extract
pink food colouring (optional)
icing sugar, for dusting and coating
cornflour, for dusting and coating

Method

Place the sugar, liquid glucose and water into a heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil. Continue cooking the sugar syrup over a high heat until it reaches 127°C/260°F on a sugar thermometer. In the meantime, whisk the egg whites with an electric hand mixer or preferably a freestanding mixer. Stop whisking when stiff peaks form. Soak the gelatine sheets in 140ml/5fl oz of hot water. 

When the sugar syrup has reached the temperature, remove from the heat and carefully pour in the softened gelatine sheets with the soaking water. Give it a quick stir and pour into a metal or glass jug. Be careful as the mixture will be extremely hot. 

With the egg whites whisking, slowly pour in the sugar syrup from the jug, it will become shiny and start to thicken. Add in the strawberry extract and a little pink food colouring if using. Continue whisking for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture is stiff and thick enough to hold its shape on the whisk.
Lightly oil a 12 x 8 inch / 30 x 20cm shallow baking tin then dust with a mixture of sieved icing sugar and cornflour. Once the marshmallow mixture is thick enough, pour into the tin and level out with a palette knife. Leave to set for at least 2 hours. 

Dust a work surface with more icing sugar and cornflour. Loosen the marshmallow around the sides of the tray with a palette knife, and then slice into squares. Lift each piece out and roll each around in the sugar and cornflour. Leave to dry a little on a wire rack before storing into an airtight box.
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Saturday, 11 July 2015

Easy BBQ Flatbreads with garlic herb butter


I'm back! I didn't forget my blog existed or anything, I've just not been able to post for awhile due to several reasons. 1. I've been getting some work experience at Laurence Hudghton Photography, I learnt loads of food style'y tips and tricks and helped out on various shoots. 2. My kitchen is in a right old state at the minute and has been for a few weeks but the good news is it will all be back to normal soon and I will have an oven to work with again. Phew!



This week the weather in the UK has been hottin' up and that only means one thing in the foodie world - get your BBQ's out people!! 

I thought for those of you who aren't aware... I'd open up your minds a bit to the full potential that your BBQ holds, (that's right - you can be way more adventurous than the plain old burgers and sausages you're used to!) 


So one thing you can add to your BBQing repertoire is these easy flatbreads. It's a Jamie Oliver recipe I adapted slightly and I've been making them for years. 


They're so easy because unlike regular bread dough, there's no proper kneading or proving involved, which means you massively cut down on time. So you can knock them up whenever! They work by reacting the rising agents in the baking powder and self-raising flour with the natural yoghurt together, this gives them a little puffiness which is what you want in a flatbread (but not too much otherwise it defeats the object really - not being flat anymore.) 

As soon as the flatbreads are cooked you can brush them straightaway with some garlic herb butter. They are delicious hot just as they are, or with a fresh salad, alongside soup or dunked into some homemade dip. You can even have them with your sausages or burgers if needs must. (Done on the BBQ of course.) 

Easy BBQ Flatbreads with garlic herb butter


Makes 12


Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver 

Ingredients


For the flatbreads:
350g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
350g natural yoghurt

For the garlic herb butter: (optional)
2 cloves of garlic
a bunch of fresh herbs, such as parsley, tarragon, basil, dill, thyme, chives
50g unsalted butter

Method

Add all the flatbread ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix together, then use your hands to bring everything together. Dust a clean work surface with flour, then tip out the dough.

Knead for a minute or so to just bring everything together (this isn't a traditional bread recipe, so you don't need to knead it for long). Put the dough into a floured-dusted bowl and cover with a plate, then leave aside.

If making the garlic butter: peel the garlic cloves and crush them with a garlic crusher. Pick the herb leaves onto a chopping board and finely chop them, discarding the stalks. Melt the butter in a small pan over a medium heat, then stir through the garlic and chopped herbs, then set aside.

Dust a clean work surface and rolling pin with flour, then divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 6 equal-sized pieces (roughly the size of a golf ball). With your hands, pat and flatten the dough, then use a rolling pin to roll each piece into 12cm rounds, roughly 2mm to 3mm thick. 

Get your BBQ hot and then when you're ready to start cooking, place each flatbread (as many as you can at once but not overlapping, you may need to cook in several batches) and cook each one for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until bar-marked and puffed up, turning with tongs. They may char a bit on the edges but that's normal. 

Brush the flatbreads all over with herby garlic butter as they come off the BBQ, then pile onto a serving board. 



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