Happy Christmas everybody

Hi folks,

Just thought I’d write a quick post to wish you all a Happy Christmas. I hope you all have a good one.

Now I want to share with you a recipe that has a lot of the traditional Christmas spices and is quite quick and simple to do. It is for a traditional German treat called Pfeffernusse and is quite delicious.

Pfeffernusse recipe
Makes 12
Ingredients

  • 200g plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • ½ tsp. ground mace
  • A pinch of salt
  • 225g honey
  • 30g butter, plus a little extra for greasing
  • 2 eggs

For finishing

  • 100g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • A little plum jam
  • About 150g dark chocolate

Method

1.In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, spices and salt.
2.Melt the honey and butter together in a saucepan then leave to cool until lukewarm.
3.Whisk the eggs into the cooled honey and butter, then add this to the flour mix and beat together with a wooden spoon. Cover and refrigerate for an hour, to firm up. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.
4.Lightly grease a baking tray with butter. Take dessert spoonfuls of the mix, roll into balls using floured hands, and place on the baking tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until risen and golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
5.Whisk together the icing sugar and water. Melt the chocolate gently in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Dip half the pfeffernusse in the icing, and put them back on the rack. When the icing has set, dip again. Cut the tops off the other half, scoop out a little of the inside, and dab in a little plum jam. Replace the tops, and dip in the chocolate. Return to the wire rack.
6.Remove the pfeffernusse to a silicone mat or baking parchment before they set completely, to stop them sticking to the rack. Prepare them on Christmas Eve and eat within two days.

I hope you enjoy these festive treats. Next issue I will give you a recipe for a nice Christmas loaf packed full of fruit, a nice alternative to Christmas cake. Eat it warm with lashings of butter on a cold winter morning – heaven!

Well, that’s it for now so until next time…

Birthdays – the day after the weekend before!!

Well I am finally glad that the weekend is over – how often do you hear somebody say that?!!!!!!!

It was very hectic baking for 2 parties whilst nursing a bad cold/headache but it all went well.

My final batch of baked goodies consisted of focaccia and subs:

Focaccia, subs and olive oil dip!

I hope you all had a great weekend and are looking forward to the week ahead. And are you getting excited yet – Christmas is nearly here!!

Birthdays – cake update

Well as I said yesterday I am going to have a hectic weekend baking 2 cakes and pizza, focaccia and goodness knows what else.

I said that I’d post a picture of my first cake if it went well and I think it looks ok. It is a chocolate orange marble cake covered in chocolate buttercream and dark and white chocolate swirls.

Here is the photo:

Corinne's birthday cake

Not bad. It looks quite impressive (I think) and the only criteria was that it looked good so I hope it fits the bill.

Well better go as I have pizza dough to get ready for this evening…

Updated pic to include the inside of the cake as requested (it was quite delicious by the way and she definitely enjoyed the wow factor:

Corinne's birthday cake post party!!

Birthdays!

Well it’s been a while since my last post as life has been tough lately :(. Still this is a busy time of year for my family. I have 4 girls, gulp and 2 have birthdays within 10 days.

I will be baking cakes and breads of various descriptions this weekend. I am being quite ambitious with one so I hope it turns out ok – and if it does look out for a photo.

Tha’s all for now, hope my transatlantic readers have a great Thanksgiving.

 

Will be back soon with a birthday cake update…

Baking in Romania

Hello.

Well I have recently got back from an amazing trip to Romania. The food was fantastic and they really like their bread.

They have bread with every meal and their standard white sliced is a lot better than anything in the UK. It is light and airy.

Their supermarkets have a wide variety of breads, sweet and savoury.

Whilst out there I cooked a typical British roast dinner for the family I stayed with – roast beef and all the trimmings. They loved the gravy made from the meat juices as they don’t have anything like that over there – in fact they used the bread to mop up every last drop of gravy!!

I will try to get back to my regular posting in a few days. Until then…

More Easter baking

Hi folks,

Well here as promised is my recipe for hot cross buns.  I baked up a batch this morning and they are delicious.

Onto the recipe:

Ingredients (makes 12-18 buns)

250g strong bread flour (white or wholemeal)

250g plain white flour

125ml warm milk

125ml warm water

150g mixture of currants, raisins, sultanas and mixed peel

1 egg

50g caster sugar

50g soft butter

10g salt

5g quick yeast (dried)

Zest of ½ an orange

2tsp ground mixed spice

To glaze

1tbsp smooth apricot jam

1tbsp water

For the crosses

50g plain flour

75ml water

Directions

Mix the flour, water, milk, yeast, salt and sugar in a bowl. Then add the egg and softened butter and mix to form a dough. Finally add the spice, orange zest and dried fruit and mix this into the dough. As with brioche this is an enriched dough and can be quite sticky so you may wish to use a food mixer to knead. I always knead by hand as I like the control it gives. Knead until the dough is soft and silky and shape into a round, cover and leave to rise – you know the drill!!

Hot cross bun dough

When ready, deflate the dough and divide into 12 – 18 equal pieces depending on how large you want them.  I weigh them but I am a sucker for uniformity! Shape into small rounds, then place on a floured board and cover with cling film or a linen towel and leave to rise again.

Hot cross buns ready for final prove

This final rise should take about half an hour so it would be a good idea to preheat your oven to 2000C with a heavy baking tray or baking stone inside.

Also make the paste for the crosses during the final rise – mix together the flour and water and whisk until it is smooth. Then pour this mixture into a piping bag or syringe.

Transfer the buns onto a hot baking stone or tray, then pipe a cross on top of each bun and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Piped Hot cross buns ready for the oven

While the buns are baking, melt the jam together with the water ensuring it is lump free. When they have finished baking, remove the buns from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and brush the glaze over the top.

The finished Hot cross buns

The finished Hot cross buns

Leave to cool slightly, then tear open and spread on a little butter – delicious!

And have a great Easter everyone 🙂

Easter baking

Hi folks,

Are you all set for the Easter weekend? This is a great time to do some baking and especially to get the kids involved.

I baked a batch of doughnuts the other day and I will be doing them again this weekend and coating them with sugar mixed with mixed spice to give them an Easter twist.

Delicious doughnuts

Here is the recipe for my doughnuts. This recipe is from the new book I am writing – Use your Loaf: Recipes beyond the basic loaf.

Try filling them with raspberry jam, lemon curd or ready-made custard. Or make ring doughnuts – the choice is yours. Simply delicious!

Ingredients (makes about 20 doughnuts):

250g each plain flour and strong white flour

5g quick yeast (dried)

10g salt

100g caster sugar

2 eggs

200ml warm milk

100g soft unsalted butter

Sunflower or vegetable oil for frying

Sugar for coating – caster, vanilla, cinnamon

Jam, lemon curd, custard for filling – optional

Directions

As this is an enriched dough it can get quite sticky so less experienced bakers may wish to use a food processor with a dough hook. Either way mix all the ingredients in a bowl, turn out and then knead for 7-14 minutes. Shape into a round and coat with a little oil. Wipe out the bowl and place the dough into it. Cover with cling film and leave to rise until it has doubled in size.

Deflate the dough gently and divide into equal pieces – I tend to weigh them out so if you want 20 each will weigh just over 50g. Shape them into little balls, cover with cling film and leave to rise again till doubled in size.

Heat some oil in a large deep saucepan or deep fat fryer until it reaches 1750C (if you don’t have an oil thermometer test the temperature by dropping in a piece of bread or potato which should turn golden brown in about a minute). Also do not fill the saucepan too high as it will bubble up when you place the doughnuts in the oil.

Deep fry the doughnuts in small batches. They should take around 5 minutes to cook through and turn them every minute to ensure they get a nice golden colour all over.

Remove the doughnuts and drain on some kitchen paper, then toss in your sugar of choice. Wait for them to cool slightly before filling them (if you are filling them).  Use a food syringe or a piping bag with a small nozzle to force your filling into the doughnut, then put on the kettle, make some coffee and tuck in!

I will write another Easter post tomorrow with a delicious recipe for hot cross buns so until then…