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My Golden Pear

Saturday, 10 August 2013

CHOCOLATE & RASPBERRY CREAM CUPCAKES

I woke up yesterday to the news that there was a family wedding taking place that very afternoon.  Now this wasn't your normal kind of wedding that takes 12 months to organise.  No this one had to be done in a day!  The bride, aka Puzzy and the groom, aka Fuzzy are bears that live with us and no they are not real bears - that's right - we were hosting a wedding for two stuffed bears.  My six year old son loves detail so I knew this would be a well thought out wedding.  I was right.  He made a red carpet out of cardboard which was the length of the living room floor.  All the other soft toys were laid out as guests.  A small lavender sachet became the ring cushion upon which lay a jewel any girl would be proud of.  The bride had a gorgeous fuchsia pink veil attached to her ears with clothes pegs.  The fact that she wore nothing else did not seem to concern neither my son nor my daughter.  The groom had a paper kilt made for him with a sgian-dubh attached to the front.  This was worn in typical Simon Cowell fashion - up round the armpits and again with no other clothes.  Super Monkey was brought in as the priest wearing only red briefs and a red cape.  Music was by Coldplay. 
 
 
My job in all this was Head of Catering.  The Groom requested chocolate cake and the bride wanted raspberries.  I thought I would go the extra mile and made some chocolate cupcases which once the cake was baked I placed into the chocolate cases and then decorated with cream and raspberries.
 
 
I also thought long and hard about a gift for the couple and so while all the preparations were taking place I made up this cute little cupcake holder in the shape of an oven.
I can't imagine many brides who wouldn't want a brand new pink oven to start off her new life of married bliss. 
 
This also leads me nicely into the fab competition which is being run by Rangecookers.co.uk.  All you have to do is make and blog about a cupcake to win a Select 90 dual fuel range cooker in stainless steel.  Now I may pretend to care what two stuffed bears would like for their wedding but in reality I'm thinking of a gorgeous new oven for myself.  Selfish, I know.
 
Anyway, back to the wedding.  The day was a great success - the bears are off on honeymoon to the Isle of Toyland, the kids had great fun, and I enjoyed watching the creativity that every 6 and 4 year old should be allowed to express.
 
If you would like to make these gorgeous, deliciously moist, fresh chocolate cupcakes served in their own edible chocolate cupcases and drizzled with tangy raspberry sauce (yes I really do want to win that oven) then here is the recipe ...

Chocolate & Raspberry Cream Cupcakes

For the printable version - click here

Ingredients
  • 65g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 70g raspberry jam
  • 25g self raising flour
  • 70g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 80 ml buttermilk
  • 250 ml whipping cream
  • 2 tsps icing sugar
  • raspberries for decoration
  • raspberry sauce for decoration
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C, (350F).
  2. Beat together the butter, caster sugar and vanilla essence until light and creamy.
  3. Add the egg and beat well.
  4. Add the jam and beat until smooth.
  5. Fold in sifted flours, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa alternately with the buttermilk until nice and smooth.
  6. Spoon mixture into cupcake cases and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre.
  7. Leave cakes to cool completely before decorating.
  8. Whip cream and icing sugar together until thick.
  9. Pipe cream onto cakes and decorate with fresh raspberries and raspberry sauce.
 
  Notes : I served these cupcakes in edible chocolate cases which I made by melting chocolate and coating silicone moulds before placing in the freezer to set.  Once set, peel off the moulds and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
I made the raspberry sauce by blitzing fresh raspberries with a touch of lemon juice and icing sugar to taste and then passing through a sieve to remove any seeds.
 

 
 Written by: Angela Darroch

 

 


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Monday, 29 July 2013

STRAWBERRY CREAM ECLAIRS

The classic French chocolate éclair has been around for over 200 years and is loved the world over for its crisp, light as air pastry shell which is filled with crème patissiere or whipped cream and topped with chocolate fondant icing.  So why did I feel the need to mess with this classic recipe?  Because I'm a food blogger and I wanted something a bit different for this months Classic French challenge which is of course éclairs. 
 

The actual éclair was a success - lovely and crisp and hollow when opened up so don't be put off from using the following recipe.  Where I went wrong was with the cream filling.  Instead of using plain, whipped cream I tried to add some strawberry coulis to the cream and of course it wouldn't whip to the correct consistency.  I eventually whipped up another batch of cream and swirled some strawberry coulis through it but there wasn't really enough of the strawberry flavour for me.
 My next experiment was with the chocolate topping.  I had a small piece of this strawberry chocolate transfer left over from this previous bake and thought I could use it to pretty up my éclairs .   I tempered my chocolate and covered the transfer sheet with a thin layer of melted chocolate and placed it in the fridge to set.  I then cut into rectangles about the size needed for each éclair.  The trick then was to get the chocolate to soften enough so that it moulded over the éclair but not so much that the strawberry design completely melted.  I did this by placing the éclairs back in my still warm oven for a couple of minutes.  The result was not a complete success - more of a splodge of chocolate with some dodgy looking strawberries on it. I did however, enjoy the lovely crisp texture of the chocolate that you get from the tempering process.
I think I might stick to the classic version in future but would definitely add the crispy chocolate topping again (minus the chocolate transfer).
 
CHOUX PASTRY
 

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
 
Yield: Enough for 6 eclairs
 
Ingredients
  • 60g butter
  • 125ml water
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
 
 
Method
 
  • Heat the butter and water in a saucepan until the butter melts and the mixture comes to a boil.
  • Add the flour and baking powder and stir well with a wooden spoon until the mixtures comes together in a ball and leaves the side of the pan completely clean.
  • Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool down slightly.
  • Once cool, add the eggs, 1 egg at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon until the dough is smooth and satiny.
  • Line a baking tray with baking paper and to make éclairs - pipe the dough onto the tray in 10 cm long oblong shapes or to make profiteroles - drop spoonfuls of the dough onto the baking tray.
  • Use your finger, moistened with some water to smooth off any points.
  • Bake at 190C (375F) for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and cut a small slit into each shape to remove any air.
  • Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
  • Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Fill with sweetened, whipped cream.
  • Top with chocolate ganache or melted chocolate.

This month's Classic French challenge is hosted by Sarah over at the lovely Maison Cupcake blog.



 
 Written by : Angela Darroch
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Saturday, 27 July 2013

BLUEBERRY & THYME CURD TARTS

These blueberry and thyme tarts were inspired by nothing more than my love for all things purple.  I had just seen Jen's gorgeous blackcurrant & vanilla eclairs and decided I wanted to make something as colourful and vibrant and came up with these little tarts.  There wasn't much of the thyme flavour noticeable so I would probably try adding a bit more next time.  The blueberry curd is finger licking good and would look and taste lovely on any sponge cake or just served with clotted cream and scones. 


BLUEBERRY & THYME CURD TARTS
 

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
 
Yield: 6 individual tarts
 
Ingredients
  • 250g fresh blueberries
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 50g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 6 shortcrust pastry cases
  • 80mls whipping cream
Cooking Directions
  1. Put the blueberries, thyme, lemon juice and a teaspoon of water into a pan and bring to the boil.
  2. Simmer for 10 minutes until the fruit is very soft.
  3. Remove from the heat and push the fruit through a sieve set over a bowl to extract as much juice as possible.
  4. Put the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and blueberry juice into a pan and heat until the butter has fully melted.
  5. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool down slightly before adding the beaten eggs.
  6. Return to the heat and keep stirring for 20 - 25 minutes until thickened. The mixture will thicken further once cooled down.
  7. I prefer to strain through a sieve once thickened just to remove any lumps.
  8. Whip the cream until soft peak stage.
  9. Add the blueberry curd to the cream (reserving some curd for decoration) and mix well.
  10. Pour into the tart cases and smooth the tops.
  11. Stir some of the reserved curd through the mixture to decorate.
  12. Refrigerate until set.
I am entering these into this months Tea Time Treats challenge hosted alternately by Karen at Lavender & Lovage and Kate of What Kate Baked as this months challenge is fresh fruit.
 

 
Written by : Angela Darroch

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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

BAKED DOUGHNUT MUFFINS

The latest Bake Along challenge is for these lovely baked doughnut muffins from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl and Griffith DayI can't remember ever making traditional fried doughnuts and to be honest they would never be top of my list for a tea time treat.  I would probably have given this challenge a miss had it not been for my complete failure at making the last challenge which was a Japanese cheesecake.  I'm so glad I did try these as they are much nicer (in my opinion) than the heavy, fried version which seems to be so popular these days. 
 I made large muffins but I think next time I would opt for the smaller version as they would probably be easier to handle.  My favourite version so far has been Bake For Happy Kids which were done in a cake pop tin.  They look like the perfect size.
 

 
BAKED DOUGHNUT MUFFINS
 

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
 
Yield: 6 large or 12 small muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 335g plain flour
  • tsp baking soda
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 tblsp plain yogurt
  • 70g butter
  • 85g sugar
  • 1 egg
 
For the coating:
  • 70g butter
  • 100g sugar
  • ½ tblsp ground cinnamon
 
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Lightly grease a muffin tray for 6 large or 12 small muffins.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  4. Combine the milk and yogurt in a small jug and set aside.
  5. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  6. Add the egg and beat until just combined.
  7. Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk mixture and mix until just combined - do not over mix.
  8. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin, filling approximately full.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and firm to touch.
  10. For the coating - melt the butter and place in a bowl.
  11. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.
  12. Once the muffins have cooled completely, dunk first in the melted butter and then coat with the cinnamon sugar.                         
 
Best eaten fresh.
 
I will be submitting to Bake Along #43 hosted by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours
 
 
 
 
Written by : Angela Darroch

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Thursday, 27 June 2013

STRAWBERRY TARTS

 
This month's Classic French challenge is a French fruit tart.  Now, in all the times I have visited France I don't think I have ever been tempted to buy one of those glossy, sweet tarts that seem to adorn every French patisserie window that you pass.  I think it is the thought of cold custard that has always put me off.  So when Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes set the challenge I decided to give them a go.  They were quite easy to make and would make a delicious dessert that would go well with most menus.  They were not overly sweet and were very light.
Delicious!
 
 
STRAWBERRY TARTS

 

Yield: 6 small individual tarts
 
Ingredients
  • 6 individual sweet shortcrust pastry cases (recipe here)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 15g plain flour
  • 15g cornflour
  • 350ml full cream milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 600g fresh strawberries
  • 1 tblsp seedless strawberry jam
Cooking Directions
  1. Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add them, along with the pod, to the milk in a saucepan. Bring almost to the boil, being careful not to let it burn.
  2. Remove the milk from the heat, strain and set to one side.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light in colour.
  4. Add in the flour and cornflour and mix well.
  5. Slowly pour the hot milk onto the egg mixture, whisking all the time.
  6. Return the mixture back to the pan and bring back to the boil and simmer for one minute, whisking continuously, or until smooth.
  7. Remove from the heat and cover with wax paper pressed directly against the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin forming.
  8. Refrigerate until chilled.
  9. To assemble the tarts - fill the pastry cases about 3/4 full with pastry cream and decorate the top with whole, fresh strawberries or sliced as I have done.
  10. To glaze the tarts - Heat the strawberry jam until just melted and brush lightly over the strawberries.



Notes :

When making custard I always use a balloon whisk to stir the mixture whilst it is in the pan.  This prevents any lumps forming but remember to not use your best non stick pans if you do this.  I don't know how many pans I have ruined this way!

If you think the custard has turned a bit lumpy then pour through a sieve and your problem is solved.

If you want to prepare the tarts well in advance it is probably best to seal the pastry cases before you add the pastry cream.  Brush the baked cases lightly with some egg white and then pop back in the oven for 1 minute to seal.  This should prevent a soggy bottom.



Written by Angela Darroch

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Sunday, 16 June 2013

STRAWBERRY & CREAM LAYER CAKE

In the build up to Fathers Day I asked my hubby if he had any preference as to how he would like to spend it.  "How about you do the barbecue this week" was the reply.  "Uh, ok if that's really what you want" was my less than enthusiastic response "but what if it rains?"  "Ok, then I would like a big juicy steak with mushroom sauce and roasted butternut."  Now that is more like it but I still wanted something a bit more extravagant.  "How about a dessert?" I tried.  "Nah, no thanks" and that was that.  No fun for me in the kitchen on Fathers Day.  Well, that is until I saw the theme for The Sunday Baking Club which is Summer Sunshine Week. 
 
 
Now I don't think I've seen the sun all week but summer to me is fresh strawberries and lashings of cream. I had bought this chocolate transfer sheet from Squires Kitchen a while ago and was desperate to try it out so what more of an excuse does a girl need.
 
  Into the kitchen I went and whipped up a four layer sponge cake but later decided that would just be completely over the top so only used three of the layers.
 I then blended some of the less than perfect strawberries together with some icing sugar and a dash of lemon juice to make a lovely, tangy strawberry sauce.
  I then whipped up some fresh cream and chopped up some fresh strawberries. I layered all this together and then moved on to the fun part.
  I melted some dark chocolate and spread this over the transfer sheet and placed it in the fridge for 10 minutes or so until it set.
I then removed it from the fridge and peeled the transfer sheet off and revealed the most beautiful piece of chocolate with strawberries on it.
  I broke this up into shards and placed them round my cake.
I added some whole strawberries on the top and drizzled with some more strawberry sauce and hey presto - a cake full of British Summer goodness.
 
So for all the special Dads out there but especially for my Dad and my hubby
HAPPY FATHERS DAY
 
 
I used the sponge mixture from here but only because I like a dense sponge.  Any good Victoria sponge recipe will do.
 
 
 Tea Time Treats which is hosted by What Kate Baked  and Lavender and Lovage has a theme of layer cakes this month so here we go ....
 

I'm also submitting this to A Mummy Too's weekly blog hop

 

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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

CHOCOLATE MINT BROWNIES

Chocolate and mint is this month's theme for the We Should Cocoa challenge which is run by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog and Chele over at Chocolate Teapot and which is being hosted this month by Victoria of A Kick at the Pantry Door.  Now I am not a huge fan of mint and rarely cook with fresh mint but hand me a bar of mint chocolate or a box of After Eight mints and I am a happy bunny.  I decided to try and add a mint layer to my usual brownie recipe but to be honest I wasn't convinced that I would like them, thinking the flavour would be just too strong.  How wrong I was - the mint layer is very addictive, subtle and smells so fresh and is lovely together with the rich, fudgy brownie layer and the crisp, dark chocolate layer on top.  They are rich and could probably be cut into smaller pieces giving you 18 portions instead of the 9 which I cut but that is up to you. 
 The one thing to remember when baking brownies is to take them out the oven when they are still slightly 'sticky' in the middle and they are always better the next day.
Enjoy!!
  

For the printable version - click here


Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
 
Yield: 9 servings
 

Ingredients for Brownie Layer
  • 100 g butter
  • 100 g plain chocolate
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125 g plain flour
  • 2 tblsp cocoa powder
 
Ingredients for Mint Layer
 
  • 30 g soft butter
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 1 tblsp natural yogurt
  • ½ tsp peppermint essence
  • green food colouring
  •  
    Ingredients for Chocolate Layer
     
  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 15 g butter
  •  
     
    Cooking Directions

    1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
    2. Butter and line the base of an 18cm square tin with greaseproof paper.
    3. Melt the butter and chocolate over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
    4. Stir in the sugar, salt and vanilla.
    5. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well until blended.
    6. Add the flour and cocoa and beat for 30 seconds until smooth.
    7. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 35 - 40 minutes. If you insert a skewer it should come out slightly sticky.    
    8. While the brownies are baking prepare the mint layer by adding the butter, icing sugar and yogurt to a mixing bowl and beat with a mixer until soft and creamy.
    9. Add the peppermint essence a bit at a time, tasting as you go.  Different brands have different strengths and you don't want to overdo the flavour.
    10. Add the food colouring, drop by drop and mix well until you have a nice, soft green.
    11. Once the brownies have cooled down completely, spread the mint layer over the top.  I found it easier to leave them in the tin to do this.
    12. Place in the refrigerator to set while you prepare the chocolate layer.
    13. Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
    14. Cool slightly and then spread over the mint layer.
    15. Leave to cool until the chocolate layer has set.
    16. To cut into slices it is easier to dip your knife into hot water to prevent the chocolate layer from cracking.
     
     
     ** The mint layer was adapted from The Joy of Baking.com
     
     
    



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    Monday, 6 May 2013

    TOFFEE CUPCAKES

    The latest theme for the Bake Along challenge is Celebration Cupcakes. 
     The girls have been baking together for two years now and I wish them well for the next year and look forward to joining in many more bake along events.
     
    I wanted to make something that was a little bit indulgent as that is what I associate with a celebration.  The cupcakes themselves are standard vanilla cupcakes so feel free to use your own tried and tested recipe if you have one.  The toffee cream is super indulgent and once you add a bit of caramel sauce over the top you have something worthy of any celebration.
     
    We had nothing in particular to celebrate but it didn't stop us from enjoying every little morsel.
     



    Prep time: 20 minutes
    Cook time: 20 minutes
    Total time: 40 minutes
     
    Yield: 8 large or 12 small cupcakes
     
    Ingredients
    • 225 g plain flour
    • 110 g caster sugar
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 150 ml milk
    • 50 ml sunflower oil
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
     
     
    •  For the toffee cream
    • 110 g sugar
    • 2 tblsp water
    • 400 ml cream
     
    Cooking Directions
    1. Preheat the oven to 200C, 400F, Gas 6.
    2. Arrange 8 - 12 paper cases in baking tin.
    3. Sift the flour, sugar and baking powder into a mixing bowl.
    4. Whisk together the egg, milk, oil and vanilla.
    5. Stir in the dry ingredients until combined.
    6. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.
    7. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes.
    8. To make the toffee cream, heat the sugar and water in a pan over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. You should not need to stir.
    9. Continue cooking, and again do not stir, until the sugar turns a golden amber.
    10. Remove from the heat.
    11. Slowly pour the cream into the pan. It will bubble up but not enough to spill over the edge of the pan.
    12. Stir until well combined.
    13. Chill well, stirring occasionally.
    14. Whisk the toffee cream until soft peaks form.
    15. Arrange the toffee cream over the top of the cupcakes.
    16. Drizzle with caramel sauce and serve.
     
           
      A happy 2nd birthday to the Bake Along girls,
       
       
       
      Written by : Angela Darroch
       
       

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    Monday, 29 April 2013

    TRES LECHES CAKE

    If I had to name my top guilty pleasure it would have to be dairy products.  From a simple cheese sandwich accompanied with a cold glass of milk to a fresh scone topped with jam and clotted cream and then of course there is hot toast dripping with salted butter.  I could go on and on...  I'm very much aware that these all have to be eaten in moderation but that is what a guilty pleasure is all about - you know it's bad for you but you just can't help yourself.  Well you can imagine my delight when I saw that the latest theme for Bake Along is Tres Leches cake. 
     
     
    I had never heard of it before and on further reading discovered it to be a light sponge cake soaked in not one, not two but three different kinds of milk. I am not a fan of soggy desserts and couldn't imagine that this cake would not have a 'soggy bottom' and was intrigued enough to give it a go. You definitely have to leave it soaking overnight to avoid the soggy texture and even after that the ends were still a little wet BUT it was delicious. The final result is more sticky than wet and you will find yourself seeking out the wet bits because they are so moreish. As a family we very seldom finish off a whole cake but this one disappeared in a flash. I even discovered my hubby had had a sneaky slice and that is very unusual as he does not have a sweet tooth. Most of the recipes I had seen suggested serving with cream and fresh fruit and it was good this way but I think I preferred it just on its own.
     
     
    A very delicious, sticky and surprisingly light Latin American treat.
     



    TRES LECHES CAKE

    Prep time: 25 minutes
    Cook time: 35 minutes plus resting time
    Total time: 1 hour plus resting time

    Yield: 6 - 12 depending on size of slices

    Ingredients
    • 4 large eggs, separated
    • 200g caster sugar
    • 200g plain flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 100ml milk
    • ½ tsp vanilla extract
    • 200g (½ standard tin) sweetened condensed milk
    • 200g (½ standard tin) evaporated milk
    • 200ml single cream
     
    Cooking Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
    2. Grease and line a 23cm/9in square cake tin.
    3. Beat the egg yolks with 2/3 of the sugar on high speed until the yolks are pale and creamy.
    4. Add the milk and vanilla extract and combine well.
    5. Add the flour and baking powder to your mixture and stir very gently until combined.
    6. Beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the remaining sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff.
    7. Fold the egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined.
    8. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 35 - 40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.        
    9. While the cake is baking - combine the condensed milk, evaporated milk, and cream in a small bowl.
    10. As soon as the cake comes out the oven, prick all over with a skewer and slowly pour over your milk mixture. (I left my cake in the tin).
    11. Leave the cake overnight (in the fridge) to absorb all the liquid. (I turned my cake over once during this time so that any excess liquid drained back down into the cake).
    12. Decorate with whipped cream and fresh fruit or just serve as is.      



    Adapted from BBC Food

    I am very happy to finally be able to submit a post to Bake Along which is hosted by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce of My Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings.


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    Sunday, 3 March 2013

    BLUEBERRY & ORANGE MUFFINS

    My kids eat a lot of fruit.  3 kgs of grapes, 1kg of blueberries, 16 plums, 12 apples, 6 bananas, 4 pears, 2 pkts of strawberries and a couple of oranges – and that's just in a week!  The first thing people say (apart from our dentist) when you tell them is “you’re so lucky,” and I agree but it is so, so expensive.  And as much as they love fruit it has to be the freshest, crispiest, crunchiest fruit that you can buy,  so no bargain buys for me.  The problem I had this week was that a lot of the blueberries were a bit squishy and I have to admit that even I struggle with soft, squishy blueberries but at £4 a punnet I have to find a way to use them up.  I don’t necessarily want to turn them into a sugar and fat laden dessert just for the sake of using them up so the healthiest option for me is these muffins I found in Annie Bell's Baking Bible.  The kids still refuse to eat them because of the squishy blueberries but they are the perfect snack for me together with my much loved daily cup of coffee. There is no butter in them and I have used a blend of sugar and stevia to cut down the sugar content and of course my favourite ingredient of the moment is the delicious seeded spelt flour from Sharpham Park.  These muffins are not necessarily frugal if you have to go out and buy the ingredients but if like me you have some over ripe fruit to use up then it is preferable to throwing the fruit out. 
       These muffins are deliciously moist and stay fresh for a few days and like most muffins will freeze really well. 
     
     


    Blueberry & Orange Muffins
     
    For the printable version - click here
     
    Prep time: 10 minutes
    Cook time: 30 minutes
    Total time: 40 minutes
     
    Yield: 8 - 12 depending on size
     
    Ingredients
     
    • 80 ml extra virgin olive oil
    • 180 ml orange juice, no bits (approximately 2 large oranges)
    • finely grated zest of 1 orange
    • 2 medium eggs (I used 2 large eggs)
    • 275 g plain flour (I used Sharpham Park Seeded Spelt Flour)
    • 2 tsps baking powder
    • 200 g golden caster sugar (I used 100g Tate & Lyle's Stevia & Sugar blend)
    • 150 g fresh blueberries (I used 200g)
     
    Cooking Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 190C (170C fan).
    2. Whisk the oil, orange juice, zest and eggs lightly in a bowl.
    3. Add the flour, baking powder and sugar and stir until just combined.
    4. Fold in two-thirds of the blueberries.
    5. Spoon the mixture into your muffin tray, two-thirds full.
    6. Scatter over the remaining blueberries and a little extra sugar and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
     
    As these muffins contain blueberries and have no butter in them they are perfect for A Kick at the Pantry Door's first Feel Good Challenge.
     
    Recipe adapted from Annie Bell's Baking Bible   
    Written by Angela Darroch    

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    Wednesday, 27 February 2013

    SPELT CRACKERS

    Today is the reveal date for my first entry into the Daring Bakers Challenge.  Sarah from All Our Fingers In The Pie has challenged us to make crisp crackers or flatbreads. Now I don't think I have ever contemplated making my own crackers but this is what I love about taking part in these challenges - it forces you to try something new.
    The original recipe that I found uses whole wheat flour but I have read so much about Spelt flour over the last few months that I decided to try it out with these crackers. I chose seeded spelt flour made by Sharpham Park with the added benefit that it is grown in Britain. I couldn't believe how quick and easy it was to make these little biscuits until that is, it came time to rolling out the mixture. It is really difficult to get them thin enough to resemble a store bought cracker so I did some more research on the internet and came across a tip from Smitten Kitchen. Although she hadn't tried it, she suggested using a pasta machine to roll the dough out. I hauled mine out from the back of my cupboard, checked that there was no playdough still stuck to it and gave it a whirl. At first I tried to put all the dough through at once but it was just too messy. After a few failed attempts I tried putting through just enough dough to make one cracker at a time and bingo - perfect thickness every time. 
    My first batch of these disappeared before I even had time to photograph them so I would say they are going to be a firm favourite in our household.
    My only word of caution is watch them like a hawk when baking. They go from nicely crisp to overdone very, very quickly.
     

     

    Spelt Crackers

    For the printable version - click here

    Prep time: 20 minutes
    Cook time: 18 minutes
    Total time: 38 minutes
     
    Yield: 24 crackers (depending on size)
     
    Ingredients
    • 155g seeded spelt flour (or wholewheat flour)
    • 5ml sea salt flakes
    • 2.5ml caster sugar
    • 55g salted butter, cubed
    • 50 - 60ml cold water
     
    Cooking Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 200C.
    2. Add flour, salt, sugar and butter to a food processor and whizz together until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
    3. Add water and whizz again until a soft dough is formed.
    4. Remove from food processor and knead gently using some extra flour if needed to form a smooth dough mixture.
    5. Roll out evenly to about 3mm thickness and cut out the shape required.
    6. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and place in the oven for approximately 15 - 18 minutes.               

    Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour and Smitten Kitchen
    Written by Angela Darroch

    Blog checking lines: Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie was our February 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to use our creativity in making our own Crisp Flatbreads and Crackers!

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    Friday, 25 January 2013

    CARROT & COCONUT MUFFINS WITH CHOCOLATE TOPPING

    I can hardly contain my excitement whilst writing this post. Why? you may ask. It looks like just any other muffin topped with the usual artery clogging butter and sugar frosting. Well guess what - there is no butter, no refined sugar and it is grain free. I have most definitely not turned over a new leaf and gone super-duper healthy but I have been following the progress of a lady over in New Zealand who is trying to alleviate some of her health issues by changing her diet. Suzanne's blog is over at Strands of My Life and is full of interesting information about using alternative products to change the way we eat. Suzanne is adamant that going gluten, dairy and refined sugar free should not mean that she cannot have her sweet treats and this gorgeous treat below and many others are as a result of her hard work to achieve this.

     
    The muffin itself is made with coconut oil, coconut flour, honey, carrots, raisins, shredded coconut, eggs, bicarb and cinnamon. I found the first two products at Holland & Barrett and they are not cheap. £14.00 for the two products is a lot to pay but if you are plagued with food intolerances then you may have these items already. I was just curious and wanted to try them out for myself. The baked muffin is quite heavy and dense but not unpleasant. It is sweet and tasty and very moist. But the piece de resistance is the fabulous chocolate frosting. This is made from avocado, cocoa and honey. It is unbelievably thick and creamy and has absolutely no taste of avocado. Suzanne explains about the benefits of avocados so I will not repeat it here. If like me, you have children then you will know that it is usually the frosting on a cupcake that they go for, leaving the cupcake for someone else to finish off (me). Every time I watch my children devour all this butter and sugar I feel guilty but this would be so different. Yes, avocados contain fat but it is good fat and honey is so much better for you than all that refined sugar that makes up icing sugar.
     

    I have just returned from picking my 6 y/o up from school and couldn't wait for him to try one of these muffins. I had placed the muffin so that he would see it as soon as he came into the kitchen and of course he begged to have it there and then. I was trying to act as normal as possible so as not to alert him to the fact that is was different. He took his first lick of icing, looked at me and said "did you make this?" Oh here we go, he's sussed me out, I thought. "Yes," I said, "why?" He walked over to me and gave me a big hug and said "this is so yummy, thanks." He didn't eat the muffin but that is not unusual.
    Result!!

     
    The next time I make chocolate cupcakes for the kids I will definitely use this frosting.  It is just so much healthier than the buttercream frosting I normally use.

    For this fabulous recipe and more information on going grain, dairy and refined sugar free pop over to
     
     
     

    Because these muffins are sugar free I am going to submit them to the We Should Cocoa challenge which is hosted by
     
     
     
     
    and to the Calendar Cakes challenge which is hosted by
     
     
    Written by : Angela Darroch

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    Thursday, 24 January 2013

    CHOCOLATE AND APPLE CAKE

    For my next January challenge I decided to enter Random Recipes over at Belleau Kitchen. Dom, who is the guy behind Belleau Kitchen, asked if we could choose a recipe from someone else's kitchen for this challenge. My initial thought was to ask my Mum but as most of our cook books are the same I knew I was unlikely to get something new. My second thought was to ask my friend Sam. I have known Sam for a few years and we meet up once or twice a month for coffee and a catch up. We have many similar interests but one thing we don't share is my love for food and cooking. Sam eats to live, I live to eat. For this reason I have never told her that I have a food blog, conscious of not wanting to be a food bore and to witness the slight glazing over of eyes that I see from my husband when I start to talk about food. I sent her an email along the lines of "Hi Sam, would you mind choosing a recipe from one of your books and sending it over to me. It can be anything you want. Tks." Now Sam has been in my kitchen and knows I have 100's of books so I kind of anticipated her answer. The replay back was "What do you mean? Why are you asking me when you have so many recipe books?” I knew this was going to be hard to explain but I went with it anyway. I replied back, "I know it sounds weird but I am cooking something random for a guy called Dom.” The reply back was quick, "Who is Dom?” I was now having fun and decided to go with the flow. "Well he is a guy on the Internet.” Another quick reply, "You're talking to a guy on the Internet and cooking for him? What's going on?”  "Don't worry about it," I said. "Nothing untoward is going on. Just send me a recipe and I'll tell you all about it next time I see you.”  Not long after I received an email back with a recipe from The Fairtrade Everyday Cookbook for a Chocolate Apple Cake. She closed the email with "Can we meet for coffee this week?”

      I feel slightly mean for keeping her in suspense and I know she won't fully understand why I'm cooking something completely random for a guy I've never met but that's blogging for you.

     I made the cake a couple of days ago and loved it. I still had a couple of apples from our apple tree lurking in the back of my fridge and so made my own apple puree. There is something oddly satisfying about using home grown produce. I even had Fairtrade cocoa and Fairtrade chocolate so felt I was doing the recipe justice. The raw cake mixture was thick and fudgy and quite different to any other chocolate cake mixtures I've made before. Once cooked, the cake was beautifully moist and had the slightest hint of apple to taste. I was running out of time to finish it off, so wrapped it up in tinfoil and only took it out to ice today (2 days later). It was still moist and fudgy. I topped it off with the chocolate topping which I have to say set really quickly and had a nice crispness to it. If anything the topping slightly overpowered the taste of apple in the cake but it is still good. This is not a showstopper of a cake but more a family favourite and so much better for having some fresh apple in it. 

    Now I really must get back to Sam about that coffee date.
     
     
     
     

    Prep time: 30 minutes
    Cook time: 35 minutes
    Total time: 1 hr 5 minutes
     
    Yield: 16 squares
     
     
    Ingredients
    • 120 ml vegetable oil
    • 225g Fairtrade sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 175 g plain flour
    • 40g Fairtrade cocoa
    • 1.5 tsp Fairtrade ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    • 225g apple puree (from 2 med apples and 125 ml apple juice or water)
    • 75g Fairtrade plain chocolate
    • 25g butter, softened
     
    Cooking Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C (350 deg F). Grease and flour a 20 cm square baking tin.
    2. Peel, core and chop the apple up into small chunks.
    3. Place the apple juice and apple in a saucepan and simmer gently until the apple breaks up easily.
    4. Puree the apples, measure out 225g and set aside to cool.
    5. Beat the oil, sugar and egg in a large bowl until pale in colour and fluffy and set aside.
    6. Sift the flour with the cocoa powder, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda in another bowl.
    7. Stir alternate spoonfuls of the flour mixture and the apple puree into the egg mixture.
    8. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and place in the oven.
    9. Bake for 35 mintutes, or until a fine skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
    10. Turn onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
    11. Melt the chocolate for the icing in a bowl set above hot water in a saucepan over a low heat. Remove it from the heat and stir in the butter making sure there are no lumps left.
    12. Spread over the top of the cake to decorate.
     
     
     
    Written by : Angela Darroch

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    Monday, 14 January 2013

    LEMON MERINGUE CUPCAKES

    I had a tiny bit of lemon curd left over from whoopie pies which I had made last week.  Normally I would treat myself to some hot buttery toast with the lemon curd but as I have decided to try and enter some challenges this year I decided to be a bit more creative.   As I didn't have very much lemon curd I only baked half the quantity and ended up with 3 gorgeous little cupcakes for today's treat. 
    I used a meringue cuite mixture only because the kids would eat one and I wanted to make sure the eggs were cooked.  It is a little more work than normal because you have to whisk over a hot stove for 10 minutes but if you ever need meringues to hold their shape whilst cooking then this is the perfect solution. 
     You can also keep this meringue mixture in the fridge for up to a week and it will still pipe beautifully.
     
     
     
     
     
    Prep time: 20 minutes
    Cook time: 30 minutes
    Total time: 50 minutes
     
    Yield: 6 large cupcakes
     
     
    Ingredients
    • 110 g butter
    • 110 g caster sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 110 g self raising flour
    • 1 pinch of salt
    • 1 tsp custard powder
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 50 ml lemon curd
    • 2 egg whites
    • 115 g icing sugar
     
    Cooking Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C (160 for fan oven). Place 6 large paper cases in a cupcake tin.
    2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and stir in the vanilla.
    3. Sift in the flour, salt and custard powder and lightly fold into the mixture alternately with the eggs until well blended.
    4. Spoon into the paper cases and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch.
    5. When the cakes have completely cooled, cut out a hole the size of a 2p coin from the centre of each cake. Fill with lemon curd.
             To make the meringue cuite           
    1. Sieve the icing sugar into a heat resistant bowl with the egg white.
    2. Place your bowl over a half-full pan of simmering - not boiling - water, whisk with an electric mixer until the mixture is thick and glossy, approximately 10 minutes.
    3. Place the meringue mixture into a piping bag and pipe on top of the cupcakes.
    4. Increase the oven temperature to 230 deg C and bake the cupcakes for a further 5 minutes or use a cooks blowtorch to brown the tops.
     
    I am submitting this for Tea Time Treats hosted by Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked     
     
     
     
    Written by : Angela Darroch

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