Sunday 31 January 2010

Clotted cream shortcake

I found myself with half a tub of clotted cream that I was very loathe to waste and much as it would have been rather delicious eaten all on its own or with a few berries, I feared that I might not be able to moderate my consumption! There's something truly delicious about clotted cream, and breaking through the crust is such a pleasant sensation. Mmmmm, buttery creaminess! If you want to know more about clotted cream, visit the Rodda website, and you can find out more about the history of the product. I decided to bake this rather delicious shortcake, which I could then freeze and enjoy at my leisure. Spreading the enjoyment of the clotted cream even further if you will!

The recipe I decided to use was this one from Dan Lepard. Because I only had half the amount of clotted cream I halved the recipe (naturally!) and I also used self raising flour, omitting the baking powder specified in the recipe (sorry Dan, that's what I had to hand!). I forgot to brush with milk and scatter sugar over before baking, but I'd do that next time because a bit of crunchy sugar topping wouldn't go amiss here. Mine took a little longer to bake than specified, but perhaps my oven wasn't quite hot enough. I made one round with my half batch, not two small ones, and instead of layering the two pieces as specified in the recipe, I split mine and served it with jam. You could add whipped double cream for extra enjoyment, but my fridge is currently occupied by low fat plain yogurt :-( which wouldn't have quite the same effect!!! The jam you see is blackcurrant, which I love, but in this situation I actually preferred strawberry.

The shortcake was rich and moist and delicious and seems to keep better than the scones I usually make. I started to wonder what the difference between shortcake and scones is, generally speaking (i.e. not compared to this recipe using clotted cream) and to my untrained eye there doesn't seem to be much. Shortcake recipes seem to use a higher proportion of fat to flour and sugar, and are often baked as a large (6-7"/15-18cm) round, rather than being individual as scones are but I think that's it. Shortcake to me is a more American treat, whereas scones are more traditionally British. Feel free to correct me though!

Wednesday 27 January 2010


Gratuitous picture of snow - taken at the summit of the Woodhead Pass across the Pennines a couple of weeks ago. An interesting journey!

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Skinny chocolate and cranberry muffins

Hmm, there seems to be a cranberry theme going on round here. I'll give it a break for a while after these, although I have still got quite a few fresh cranberries frozen for the time being. In fact I had to resist buying some fresh ones reduced to clear the other day. Thankfully I managed to avoid temptation because my groaning freezer can't cope with much more!

These are from the latest issue of BBC GoodFood magazine (Feb 2010), from the 'Chocolight' feature. They wouldn't have been my first choice of item to bake, but I was being dictated to by a tub of yogurt in the fridge nearing its off date (for the rest of the tub of yogurt, I made these oat bars), so these were the chosen item. I do really fancy the chocolate sorbet, and the light and fluffy chocolate mocha cake too though. The recipes aren't on the BBC GoodFood website yet, but I'll try and remember to add links when they appear.

As ever with muffin recipes, these were easy to make, the basic idea of mixing the wet ingredients into the dry holds true with a couple of twists.

Skinny chocolate and cranberry muffins
250g self raising flour
1tbsp cocoa powder
1tsp mixed spice (recipe specified cinnamon)
85g light muscovado sugar
85g dried cranberries
50g dark chocolate, chopped (recipe specifies 25g)
125g low fat yogurt
125ml milk (I used semi-skimmed but the recipe specifies skimmed)
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 egg, lightly beaten

- Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
-Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and mixed spice into a bowl. Stir in the sugar and cranberries. Melt the chocolate, either in the microwave (except I don't have one!) or in a bowl over hot water, stir the melted chocolate and set aside.
- Mix the yogurt and milk with the oil and egg.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry mix and gently stir in the liquid.
- Drizzle half the chocolate over the mix, gently fold in until swirled, then repeat with the remaining chocolate. Take care not to over mix.
- Spoon the mix into the muffin cases and bake for 15-20 minutes unti risen and firm to the touch.

I think I overcooked mine slightly, but they were still fairly moist. I enjoyed them, and the taste of the tart-ish cranberries against the soft cake was nice. The chocolate flavour wasn't particularly prominent, as you might expect and the spice came through too. I wouldn't hurry to make them again because to be honest I couldn't decide if I liked all of the different flavours together, or whether it was just confusing. But I do have quite a boring palate - so don't let me put you off trying them - I was glad I had done. They are relatively low calorie and fat, so good for this time of year when you want a treat but don't want to overdo it. Colleagues enjoyed them, even though many profess to be on diets/watching what they're eating at the moment!

Sunday 17 January 2010

Peanut and cranberry oat bars

I'm sort of at a loss as to how to describe these. I want to call them flapjack because they are a baked bar containing oats and no flour, but to me, flapjack is full of syrup and butter and these bars contain neither, so I'll stick to the name in the title, which is descriptive if a little clumsy. The recipe comes from the Sainsbury's Magazine, which I buy each month and think is great value (£1.40 compared to around £3.40 for most of the other monthly food magazines you can get - Olive, BBC Good Food etc). However, I enjoy buying and reading the magazine, but rarely get round to making anything from it (although this applies to most of the magazines I buy - am I the only one who is guilty of this? I suspect not.....) and so for me to make these within a few months of seeing the recipe, even within the same season, is something of a surprise! In fact, I have made them twice, with slight differences.

The feature they come from is all about 'The fats that help your health' and is explaining about mono-unsaturated fatty acids being beneficial for health so the recipes are low in saturated fats and high in mono-unsaturates - plenty of nuts, seeds and avocados. Fear not, this recipe does not contain avocado! It does contain nuts though, and the original version also contained seeds, but I left these out as I'm not really wild about them. Peanuts are one of the few nuts I am not allergic to (I have been eating them all my life, and am very lucky, because peanut allergy can be extremely severe and peanuts/peanut oil are used in a lot of commercial goods) and are not actually a true nut, growing below the ground as explained in the article linked above.

I actually decided to make this recipe (on both occasions) to help with an overabundance of low fat yogurt in my fridge as the recipe calls for low fat yogurt to provide the moistness. (If the picture above looks dry, this is my poor cutting skills - it is really, really moist!) As with flapjack, the recipe is a doddle to put together and can be done at the last moment. Great for lunchboxes (unless your child's school has banned peanuts!) or as a healthy breaktime snack for the grown ups too.

Peanut and cranberry oat bars
75g crunchy peanut butter
100g caster sugar
6tbsp agave nectar or honey (I used honey the first time, and golden syrup the next....)
225g virtually fat free yogurt
100g dried cranberries (I didn't have enough the first time so used half and half cranberries and raisins)
275g porridge oats (the recipe specifies 225g but I found this made a very wet mixture)

- Grease and line an 8"/20cm square cake tin with baking parchment
- Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5.
- In a pan, gently heat the peanut butter, sugar and honey until melted. Then stir in the yogurt and dried fruit and then the oats.
- Tip into the prepared tin and smooth the mixture into the corners with the back of a spoon.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Mine took longer to become the colour you see in the pictures, probably nearer 45 minutes, but because the mixture is so moist there doesn't seem to be any detrimental effect.
- Using a small sharp knife mark into rectangles (8-10) and then leave to cool completely in the tin.
- When cold turn out and cut into bars.

Recipe note: The original recipe says: 'The bars will keep for several days in an airtight container. They freeze well too."

In its second incarnation this recipe contains all dried cranberries instead of mixed with raisins, golden syrup instead of honey, and butter instead of peanut butter. Just as moist as the version above, but almost certainly significantly less healthy. Guess which version I preferred. Sigh. Oh well, it's still lower in fat than traditional flapjack, and is a good way of getting oats into your diet. (Yes, I grant you that porridge is still a better way, but these are more portable!)

Colleagues enjoyed both versions and the moistness of the bar was a welcome contrast to the chewy dried fruit and oats. I would make these again, but probably only to use up excess yogurt if I have it hanging around in the fridge.

Thursday 14 January 2010

Mincemeat swirls with lemon icing

Well, it's a good job that my new year's resolutions didn't involve blogging more often or more regularly, because I most certainly would have had to call that resolution broken! Sorry about the gap, but I'm back, and with something really delicious to make up for it!

Last year I made mincemeat, and as the festive season rolled around again I decided it was time for another batch. I used the same recipe (Delia Smith's version) as last year (I've noted the quantities I used at the bottom of this post, as they differ slightly from her recipe - I like glace cherries in mine, and no nuts, plus a little more spice), but this year followed her instructions to stir as the mincemeat cooled, which resulted in no fatty white blobs (this pleased me greatly!). Sadly, with one thing and another I didn't find time to make any mincepies at all this year. In fact, writing this has made me realise that I didn't even eat any this year. Hmmm, that ought to be rectified. However, I believe that mince meat shouldn't just be for Christmas, but for all year round. (Ok, well, perhaps all winter..... even I don't think I want mincemeat in the heat of summer) And if you've got half a jar of mincemeat hanging around the cupboard, asking to be used up before it is forgotten in favour of newer flavours I would ask that you try these rather delicious rolls. These were sort of inspired by chelsea buns, but I can't ever remember eating a chelsea bun, so it was more just the shape that gave me the idea.

Anyway, the recipe is a milk loaf dough and as ever, I used Dan Lepard's technique for kneading the dough, which makes the whole thing no effort at all, as the short bursts of kneading fit around other things I'm attempting to do at the same time. The technique is explained well towards the end of this white tin loaf post.

Mincemeat swirls with lemon icing
100g plain flour
200g strong white bread flour
scant tsp salt
scant tsp dried fast acting/instant yeast
1tbsp golden syrup
around 200ml milk (I used semi skimmed)
about 1/2 jar (roughly 200g mincemeat, but see below)

For the glaze - icing sugar, a lemon

- Scald the milk - bring up to the boil and then allow to cool to blood heat (so you don't kill the yeast!) This seems like a pain to do, but as Dan explains here, you need to denature one of the enzymes in the milk that would contribute to heavy bread. If you really can't be bothered, don't scald it, the results won't be that bad!!!
- Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and leave for 10 minutes. Knead for around 10 seconds on an oiled surface, then cover and leave for 10 minutes. Repeat. After the third knead, leave for 30 minutes or so, then roll or stretch the dough to form a rectangle about 12"(30cm) long by roughly 7-8"(18-20cm) wide.
- Spread the mincemeat over the dough, leaving a small border at the edges. How much you use depends on your taste (and how much you've got left to use up!) - if you love mincemeat use a bit more and get a thicker layer, it's up to you.
- Roll up so that you've got a long thin roll rather than a short fat one (i.e. roll lengthways) and then cut the roll into seven. Arrange them cut side up in an 8" (20cm) cake tin. I lined the edges of my tin with parchment because it was loose bottomed and I didn't know if the mincemeat would leak goo onto the oven, but it didn't, so you could probably get away with a greasing of butter around the tin.
- Leave to rise until the rolls have filled out and are touching. When they are nearly at this stage (oh, the accuracy of this recipe!) preheat your oven to 200C/Gas 6 (only you know how long this will take, hence the vague instructions as to when to preheat!).
- Bake for around 30-35 minutes (although in all honesty I can't remember quite how long they took - check at around 25 minutes - I should really pay more attention....) until golden brown. Remove from the tin (this is where the loose bottom really helps!) and turn over to check they sound hollow when tapped (I agree this isn't a great way of checking, but because they're only shallow they should cook through ok).
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.
- Make the glaze to your favourite consistency - sticky/runny, whatever you want, by mixing lemon juice with icing sugar. Drizzle over your buns and enjoy!!!

These were soft and luscious when first cooked, and the lemon in the icing contrasted well with the rich, spicy mincemeat filling, which in turn was complemented by the soft, slightly sweet dough. Yum! They don't keep particularly well though, so in the event of having any left over (as if!), freeze them and enjoy by warming through in the oven.

Mincemeat - see this post for instructions on how to make!
450g Bramley apples, cored and chopped (no need to peel)
250g vegetarian suet
350g raisins
225g sultanas
225g currants
250g mixed peel, chopped
350g dark brown soft sugar
2 oranges, zest and juice
2 lemons, zest and juice
200g glace cherries, chopped into quarters
4tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
6tbsp brandy (I used Calvados this year, as this is what I had around)

Friday 1 January 2010

Cranberry upside down cake

Having spent Christmas very enjoyably at J's house, she came here for New Year and I cooked for the two of us. For dessert I decided on a cake based around Dan Lepard's stone fruit yogurt cake, which I made back in October. To give it a seasonal twist I decided to use cranberries - they seem to be one of the few fruits that are still available seasonally, along with gooseberries. Thankfully (like gooseberries!) they freeze well, so I've bought a couple of bags for the freezer too.

I halved the recipe (as there were only two of us) and baked it in a 6" tin for the same amount of time specified in the original recipe. This worked really well, so I must remember for the future that an 8" cake recipe can be halved to fit into a 6" tin.

I will give the ingredient amounts I used below, but suggest you check out the link to Dan's original recipe for the method. I served the cake with a cranberry sauce made by simmering around 175g cranberries with 30g light muscovado sugar for about 20 minutes until the cranberries are soft and have mostly exploded. This made a very tart sauce, which was a good foil to the creamy vanilla ice-cream and delicious moist cake. However, if you wanted to serve the sauce on its own, I would suggest increasing the amount of sugar substantially.

I really enjoyed this cake, it's moist and has a satisfying bite, and the contrast of the tart cranberries with the relatively sweeter cake is a lovely combination.

Cranberry upside down cake
Enough cranberries to cover the base of your tin, around 125g for mine, I think!
12g light muscovado sugar to sprinkle over the cranberries
90g caster sugar
90g butter, softened
1 large egg
90g thick greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
40g semolina
90g self raising flour
On New Year's Day we went a walk in the local nature reserve (along with half of the local population I think!) which was very cold but really rather beautiful. A lovely start to 2010.

I also made a larger version of the same cake to share with colleagues before the Christmas break. They also seemed to enjoy it! You can see from the edges of the cake that the foil lining of the tin doesn't improve the cake asthetically, but it makes it much less messy to bake, and it's a breeze to line a cake tin with foil rather than parchment paper - just push the foil in and squash the creases out!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...