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Friday, 18 December 2015

Ginger Spiced Pudding Loaves


With 1 week to go, by now you're probably sick to death of being bombarded with all things festive when it comes to food. I know I am and that's hard to come by considering that I'm a blogger obsessed with food. All you have to do is sit through one break of TV ads and they're thrown at us. Constantly. I don't blame them though, Christmas has become one big old competition for retailers and they have to fight all they can. 

In which case, I'm sorry, because here's yet another Christmas recipe, be it a possible contender for the big day itself as an alternative to the Christmas pud, or just if you fancy a bit of festive baking which also handily acts as the standby supply for all those unexpected visitors...the ones that always seem to come when you have just eaten everything in that chocolate biscuit selection box which was supposed to be for sharing. Admit it, you know the feeling!! (I'll just have one, two, three, four...oops.)


As I seem to recall writing about this time last year for a post, I may have mentioned that I'm not a fan of Christmas pudding. Who is? Let's face it, it's only really grandparents who like to stick to tradition just for the sake of it, the rest of us are lured into the alternative desserts. 


Even though I have called these 'pudding loaves' don't think that they are in any way heavy, because they are in actual fact very light and an adequate size to still feel satisfied with something sweet after you've pigged out on all the trimmings in the main event. They're perfect to make ahead of time and remain moist, deliciously dark and intense with spice for days. So no need to worry, you can make them Christmas Eve and they will be fine well into boxing day. 


You can, if you wish,  make this as one big loaf but remember it will take much longer to cook and you may need to protect the cake from over-browning with a shield of foil. The icing can be put on the loaves whilst still warm from the oven (not immediately) and so are delicious served hot or cold.
 

Note: - This recipe also works using self-raising flour and no bicarbonate of soda. 
It does work well but I prefer the sticky texture you get with bicarbonate of soda. 
- If baking one large loaf use a 1kg loaf tin so it won't overflow. 

Ginger  Spiced  Pudding  Loaves

Makes 8 mini loaf cakes

Ingredients:


100g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground nutmeg + more to sprinkle for decoration
100g soft light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
75g black treacle
125ml milk
50g butter, melted

For the icing:
2 tbsp butter
50g dark brown sugar
1 tbsp milk
100g icing sugar, sifted

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line with baking parchment, then generously butter 8 mini loaf tins. Measure all the dry ingredients, except for the sugar, into a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the sugar, egg, treacle, milk and melted butter and beat until smooth. 

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and beat for a minute until smooth. Pour the wet batter into the greased and lined loaf tins (they will only part fill up the tins), place them all onto a baking tray to make for easier transportation and bake them for about 15 minutes. One large loaf will take about 35 minutes. They will feel springy to touch and shrink away from the sides of the tin when done. 

For the icing, melt the butter and brown sugar together over a low heat, stirring, until the brown sugar no longer feels gritty then take it off the heat. Beat together with the milk and icing sugar until you have a smooth icing.  You may need a bit more milk if it is too thick and you want some of it to drizzle down the sides naturally.  Spoon the icing decoratively over the top of each loaf and sprinkle a little nutmeg over the top to finish. 
 
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Friday, 11 December 2015

Prosciutto and Vegetable Bake


I’d just like to start off by saying this; I know, I know… admittedly it has been a good while since I did my last post. Unfortunately with coursework deadlines (plus other exciting work experience opportunities which you’ll hear about in posts to come within the next new year. I wish I could show you now but I’m not allowed yet. It’s all very secretive I know, you can’t handle the anticipation can you?) 

Anyway, I can claim that blogging hasn’t exactly been my main priority over these past 2 weeks. Still, I’ve just managed to fit in this Prosciutto and Vegetable Bake. Wehey!

This bake is a real winter warmer. I’d have it any time of the day. Easy. Something I’d happily snuggle up with beside the fire, all cosy (well I imagine I would if we actually had one  that is. #Life goals.) It’s simple enough to do too. Bonus! You know that feeling when you can’t really be that bothered to make an effort as the evenings grow longer and longer, and you’ve just got in after a hard day's slog but you still want something that’s actually quite good for you. Well, this kinda is good for you until you flood all the veg with a sumptuous cheesy sauce. Oopps, but at least you still got some of your five a day in there. 


You just chuck it all into a greased ovenproof dish,  I still like to neatly arrange the veg and prosciutto but you can chuck it in if you aren’t as pedantic like me. Then pour over the thick cheese sauce, give a quick sprinkling of crumbs and that’s it. Done! You can do this whole dish ahead of time if you prefer and so it can be kept in the fridge for up to 12 hours. So you could (could is a very loose term) be really prepared if you wanted to be…but I realise that’s not always how it pans out in the end... 



When you are ready to bake it, it only takes 20-25 minutes until it’s all bubbling and crispy round the edges, yeah - those bits that everyone wants to have but you have entitlement to over, and rightly so as you made it. Ha! The top turns a lovely golden colour from the cheese mixed with the breadcrumbs. Just yum. Simple as.


This bake serves 6 and is delicious on its own. Because I have added the prosciutto ham you wouldn’t really want to serve this as a side with sausages or chops for example, but, if you wanted to do that I would remove the ham. And as for vegetarians the same goes eh? 

Prosciutto  and  Vegetable  Bake


Recipe adapted from Mary Berry’s Cauliflower, Broccoli & Potato Bake. 
Serves 6


Ingredients:

500g potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes
350g cauliflower florets
250g broccoli florets
160g prosciutto ham

For the cheese sauce: 
50g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
50g plain flour
500ml milk, warmed
Salt and pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
75g parmesan, grated
75g mature cheddar, grated

50g wholemeal breadcrumbs

Method


Preheat the oven to 220° C /Gas 7/ 425°F  . To prepare, first butter a 2-litre (3 pint) shallow ovenproof dish. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and either add the potato and later the cauliflower and broccoli until cooked, or I like to steam the cauliflower and broccoli using a steamer pan placed on top the boiling water with the potatoes. Then once all cooked, drain and refresh the vegetables in cold water to stop the cooking process and to cool them down quicker. 

To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter over a low heat in a medium sized saucepan. Gently fry the chopped onion for 10 minutes then once they have started to turn translucent add the flour and whisk over the heat for 1 minute. Gradually start to add the warmed milk bit by bit. Whisking all the time until you have added it all in and the sauce is smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper and add the mustard with half of the grated cheeses. 

Now to assemble the bake. Make sure the vegetables are dry and arrange them in the buttered dish. I like to alternate between the different vegetables so that you get a nice layer of each within each portion. Break the prosciutto ham into smaller pieces and distribute evenly on top of the vegetables. Pour over the cheese sauce and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and remaining half of the grated cheeses. 

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden and bubbling.  



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