Monday, 10 August 2009

roman honey bread. disaster.

In a latin class at school once, we watched a video with a man dressed up as a roman cook, and all he ever seemed to add was pepper to the foods he was making. We all were so obsessed with the 'pepper video' and so our teacher gave us recipes with pepper in, and one of the recipes was a bread fried in honey, milk and pepper.
Anyway, when this morning i felt like making bread, i looked at a pack of spelt flour, and one of the recipes on the back of the pack was called Roman Bread, and my mind thought back to that memory.
I had forgotten how annoying it sometimes is to make bread, how it sticks to every surface imaginable, and when i put it in the tin to rise the bread didn't rise enough and came out like a rock, so it was definitely not an all time best recipe. Maybe i put too much water in, im not sure, but this has made me remember why i never make any bread. Fact.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

mini cornish pasties.

I've only ever eaten Cornish pasties once before, but i loved them.
So, when i had to think of what to make out of leftover beef stew, i had a nagging thought saying to make them, which is exactly what i did.
I had been wanting to make some pastry for a while after watching Michel Roux on tv making some, so i logged online to find a suitable recipe. I changed the lard in the recipe i found to butter, and it worked very well considering i've never made them before.
When they came out of the oven i'm sure the little pasties must have been thinking,
"aha! there is a hand we can burn!"
Which they did. And it hurt.
I used shortcrust pastry, the recipe makes enough for 10 mini pasties if you're lucky, or 6oz to be precise.

125g plain flour
55g butter, cubed and at room temp.
2-3 tbsp water
a bit of milk or an egg
leftover beef stew

In a mixing bowl rub the flour into the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs and no longer has any big lumps of butter. Add the water stirring with a knife until they sticks together, but isn't sticky. After 2 see if with your hands the crumbs start to stick, as it doesn't look like it will but they do.
Place in the fridge for 15 minutes then roll out on a rolling board using flour to stop the pastry from sticking to the board and roll until it is relatively thin, about 1/4 inch thickness, and cut out using roughly a 10cm circular pastry cutter.
Beat the egg into an egg wash and place aside.
Put a desertspoonful of the stew into the centre of the pastry circle, and put the egg wash with a pastry brush around the edge of the circle, and pinch the sides together with your fingers. Cook for 20-25 minutes in a 350F heat or in the middle of the baking oven in an aga.

vanilla cupcakes.

These cakes were baked for a light lunch with some friends, and I had had the Magnolia Bakery recipe, which i used to make the cupcakes, for sometime now and i had wanted to test them out but seemed to never get round to it. I didn't have any cream cheese in which i needed for the cream cheese frosting, so instead i used a basic butter cream.
When i was piping out the frosting onto the cupcakes it went on very badly as i couldn't find a nozzle, so instead i instead used the back of a spoon and some little pearl sprinkles.
I actually was intending to make green tea cupcakes, using the same recipe and adding 1 and a half tablespoons of green tea powder, but i couldn't find any in the supermarket (is it a specialist thing?) so just left out the green tea powder.
The last time i added milk to a cake the end result was dreadful, and i used a silicone baking cake to cook the honey chocolate cake in, so when i lifted it the contents went all over the floor, and when i got round to cleaning the mess up and eventually cooking, it came out in 15 different pieces and was unable to slice so i had to end up. It was used in ice cream in the end, tasted good though.
So back to the cupcakes, i would definitely bake this recipe for basic cupcakes again, it was delicious!

Ingredients for 12 cupcakes:
90g self-raising flour
80g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
110g unsalted butter at room temp.
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs at room temp.
120ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F, or use the middle runners in the baking oven on an aga, and line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake cases.
In a mixing bowl cream the butter until smooth, and gradually add the sugar, then beat for 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition, and then add the flours and baking powder in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla, and with each addition beat until incorporated however don't overmix.
Spoon the batter into the liners until 2/3s full, and bake for 20 minutes. Take the cupcakes out and then let them cool for 20 minutes before icing.

Buttercream icing:
240g icing sugar
120g butter
2 tablespoonfuls double/heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl and then add the cream and the vanilla extract slowly.
Either pipe onto the cupcakes or spoon on and then twirl up at the top (sorry couldn't explain differently).
And lastly..enjoy!

they worked!

After my disasterous attempt at macarons yesterday, i decided i couldn't let it get me down and i would try again, this time with a much smaller mixture amount. I read all of the tips on other food blogs and felt ready to go, so i started making my mixture, overly concerned about everything working out okay.
The recipe i used was a adaptation from Nigella's, as i didn't have any pistachios in but i did have ground almonds i substituted the 75g grams of pistachios for 65g of almonds, as the ready ground ones will absorb more liquid.
I also found the right nozzles so they didn't need to be sellotaped on, thankfully, and when i opened the oven door i was so happy that they had turned out well (not exactly but so much better than last time!).
So here's the recipe:
65g ground almonds
125g icing sugar
2 large egg whites
15g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4, or if using an 2 door aga place on the lowest set of runners in the top right door.

Beat the egg whites and the caster sugar until medium peaks, and then fold the grond almonds and icing sugar in in 4 parts. Try to only fold them until they are all in the mixture otherwise you might over beat them.
Pipe out to 3.5cm circles and leave to form a skin for 30mins, at which point place in the oven for 9-10 minutes. Take them out and let them go cold before filling.

Recipe for chocolate ganache:
(100-150g icing sugar)
85g 70% cocoa bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
15g butter, softened
(optional) couple of drops flavoured extract

The ganache recipe i have didn't ask for icing sugar but after melting the chocolate it had gone funny and it wasn't very sweet so i added it.

Melt the chocolate and cream gently over a pan of simmering water.
Once they have both melted take off the heat and add the butter, the heat of the chocolate will melt it.
If adding the sugar add now.
Let it go cool for 10 minutes then sandwich a blob between two of the macarons.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

aga pavlova.

For when some family friends came round tonight i was asked to make a pavlova, so i sent M out to get some ingredients and when he had been half an hour i rang him up, only to find him not answering. The time the friends were coming round was looming upon me and in the end he came back. When questioned why he had been so long, he said, 'i had a hair cut'.

I love making meringue, it must be something about the egg whites and sugar, two very simple ingredients turning into something so beautiful and melt-in-your-mouth tasty.
I was grumbling away about not using the electric whisk, but i looked down and the cream was already whipped, and i was shocked! It took so little time for it to turn out in a completely different thickness and texture.'s the recipe. If you do not use an aga then cook at 110C/220F.
If you do have one cook in the bottom of the simmering oven.
Ingredients for the meringue base:
175g caster sugar
3 egg whites
1 (level) tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar

Beat the egg whites until they are soft peaks, at which point add the caster sugar in six parts, at each time making sure only to whisk until they are mixed into the mixture, in order to avoid over-whisking. In a small bowl mix the cornflour and vinegar, and then whisk that into the egg whites and sugar mixture. If it needs any extra whisking to make the mixture into strong, glossy peaks, do it now, although it might not.
Get ready a silicone sheet on a metal tray and draw a roughly 8-9 inch circle onto it. Spoon the mixture inside the circle, and make it go up at the sides, with a dip in the middle (like the top of a volcano although it goes a lot lower, make sure it still has a floor though). Bake for around about an hour and a half, or until the meringue is cooked and take out of the oven and let it cool until cold.

Ingredients for the pavlova topping:
300ml double/heavy cream
225g fresh fruit (i used strawberries and raspberries)

Whip the cream until it has strong peaks (it is best to do this with a hand mixer, other you may step over the thin line of overdone without knowing it), and spoon into the centre of the meringue base, spreading it out to where the sides go up.
Rinse and chop any bits off the fruit not needed- e.g, the strawberries stalks- and place them on top of the cream, et voila!

It is best not to add the fruit very early on beore you eat the pavlova as it might go soggy.


Macarons, macarons why won't you work?!
I attempted macarons for the first time today and they were a complete disaster.
First i over whisked the egg whites, all 7! of them. I should of tried the first time with a smaller amount of mixture but didn't realise it would make so many, how i didn't realise that i don't know.
Then the bowl was too small so i couldn't add the almond and sugar to the mix, and had to end up making them in a big metal jam maker bucket.
I didn't know that the tiniest mistake would make them turn out so drastically wrong, and so when i piped them with a piping bag with the wrong size nozzle which I had to sellotape on and i subsequently ended up with mixture all over my hands, I felt like giving up.
However, i did in the end place the 'macarons' in the oven and when they turned out so flaky and not at all like the ones from laduree or Pierre Herme i felt like crying.
I placed ganache in the middle though and stuck them together, and to see how badly they turned out just look at the picture and feel sorry for me. On the up side they tasted gorgeous so i might attempt them again, just next time i'll make sure i use the correct quantity of mixture that i actually need.