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…

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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…

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 🙂

Curry & cake – the perfect weekend!?!

Hello again folks,

Well I have had another busy weekend in the kitchen. I am one of those people who like to cook from scratch and I love Indian food.

So this weekend I cooked up a chicken korai with mushroom bhaji, onion bhaji, pilau rice and garlic and coriander naan bread – all cooked from scratch. This isn’t difficult but can be a bit time-consuming. The naan bread is an unleavened version which will be in my new book, which is essentially a recipe book containing various breads from around the world.

This is what the finished dish looked like:

Chicken korai with mushroom bhaji, onion bhaji, pilau rice and garlic naan

Now I have to say that I do cook a mean curry – I have taken food to a few indian parties and mine is always the first to go, so I must be doing something right. Then again I have been cooking these for years so have had plenty of practice.

If you had this from a takeaway it would be very calorific but I only used a little olive oil and the sauce contains a plethora of pureed veg – a good way of slipping veggies into kids!

But I have to say that my pride and joy was my cake. Bearing in mind that I am relatively new to the world of cake baking I constructed a beautiful cake consisting of a chocolate brownie, cream laced with icing sugar and raspberries, and topped with a hazelnut meringue. This certainly had the wow factor and all my family (wife and kids) were taking photos to share with their friends.

Chocolate brownie cake with hazelnut meringue and raspberry cream

This cake looks great and pictures don’t really do it justice. It is a towering cake but surprisingly light as it uses a brownie type cake with light meringue. The sharpness of the raspberries compliment the sweetness really well too.

Chocolate brownie cake with hazelnut meringue and raspberry cream

This may look a little daunting but believe me if I can do it anyone can. If you would like a recipe for this one please leave a note and I will post it later.

This was taken about 5 minutes later!!

Chocolate brownie cake with hazelnut meringue and raspberry cream

I got 12 portions out of this cake so we all had 2 slices each – this cake will disappear fast!!

So if you want to have a go let me know and if there is enough interest I will post the recipe, likewise with the curry.

Next time I will continue my posts on flour, so until then…

Chocolate cake – yummy!!!

Hi folks,

I hope some of you took the opportunity to have a look at my book, and if you do please let me know what you think.

After pimping my last cake with passion fruit I decided to make my first chocolate cake. All I did was substitute 50g of flour with 50g cocoa in my Victoria sponge recipe.

This resulted in a light deliciously chocolatey cake that wasn’t too rich, even with a chocolate buttercream filling.

I am really beginning to get the hang of this cake baking thing but I had better slow down or I will end up the size of a house!

Here’s a pic of the finished (and half devoured) cake:

My first chocolate sponge!

More cakes!

Well hello again folks. Did any of you try my Victoria sponge recipe? I have made it 3 times now but the last time I baked it I decided to “pimp” the recipe.

I didn’t do anything too drastic. I added some blueberries to the sponge mix (always a winner – just look at blueberry muffins!). Next I made a passion fruit glaze by straining 3 passion fruit through a sieve to remove the seed. The juice was then mixed with 150g icing sugar (the amount you will need will depend on how juicy your fruit is and on what sort of glaze/icing you want. I made mine quite runny i.e. a glaze NOT an icing. After the cake has cooled, I gradually add several layers of glaze. With this cake I didn’t fill with jam, just fresh cream. The tang of the passion fruit perfectly complements the sweet sponge and rich cream.

You really MUST try this variation as it is quite simply divine. Give it a go, take some photos and let us all know what you think or share your ideas for pimping the humble Victoria sponge.

Till next time…

Victoria sponge with blueberries & passion fruit glaze