Fondant Fancies have been on my baking ‘bucket list’ for sometime now. Perfect if you are entertaining, this ‘All White’ vanilla version makes a change from the rich, fragrant seasonal flavours that are in abundance at the moment. [Read more…]
No recipes today. An award!!
I was so very excited to be nominated for a Leibster Award from Stephanie and Kelly from Long Distance Baking! A Leibster Award is not a physical award but a chain blog award which is passed around the blogging community as a fun way to get to know each other and introduce new blogs to one another. [Read more…]
This Swiss Cheese and Wild Mushroom Pizza is a treat to myself. I am guilty of complete self indulgence here.
Why, you may be asking?
Pizza in our house used to be quite straightforward. I would make it, tailor the toppings to suit everyone’s preferences and it would be consumed. Of late, although my children are not particularly fussy eaters we have had a bit of problem with pizza. One child likes pizza without cheese, all of a sudden (not really a pizza then), one likes pizza without the tomato sauce, another child just eats it and my husband only really considers pizza to be edible if it is topped with copious amounts spiced meats. Which leaves me, eating pizza that I am not passionate about, just going through the motions.
Gosh, it has taken me over three days to write this post!
Do you ever have tasks that you set about doing that seem to take an age to complete?
I have been a little distracted, to be honest. Now that it is February, I have set about visiting the gym so the ‘slimmer, fitter me’ can emerge from it’s rather long, slumber. I avoided the gym in January intentionally (cough, cough) as the tread mills are far too busy. Better to embark on a new regime when the fainthearted have already exhausted their resolutions in January, I say.
I really have to make a concerted effort on this fitness front in order for me to enjoy my bakes with a clear (or clearer) conscience…
So ‘HURRAH’ for February!
I, for one, am very pleased to see the back of January, the wettest on record here in the UK. We seem to be experiencing extreme weather all around the world of late. So what better way to lift ourselves out of the gloomy grey, wet skies and floods than to put the kettle on and enjoy a glorious syrupy, orange and poppy seed cake. An instant ‘sunshine’ fix, if ever there was one.
This cake is a ‘gem’ according to friends and family and trust me, they get to sample a fair few. Adapted from one of my most favourite books of late, ‘The Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook’ – each and every one of their recipes I have tried is superb – this cake is easy to make.
Fundamentally, it is an orange flavoured sponge cake with added poppy seed for ‘crunch’, which is steeped in a fragrant orange syrup, topped off with a simple orange glaze. Baked in a single round tin means you are able to maximise the syrup content so it is a beautifully moist cake. I have suggested you use an 8 inch / 20cm round tin (most people own one of those, correct?). This will give you a slightly deeper cake than mine shown. I used a 9 inch pan and would have preferred it to be a little deeper. Don’t be put off by the syrup. I know it seems like extra work but it really is simple and can be made whilst the cake is being baked.
This cake goes perfectly well with a fresh cup of tea or coffee, but equally works well as a dessert. If any cake can chase away the winter blues, this one can!
- 280g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt (I used ground, course sea salt)
- 150g buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 150g unsalted butter, softened
- 260g granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- Zest of 4 oranges
- 150ml freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 tbsp. poppy seeds
- 150g granulated sugar
- 120ml freshly squeezed orange juice
- 200g icing sugar
- Juice of 1/2 an orange
- Freshly grated orange zest or orange candied peel ( see separate post for recipe)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4. Prepare an 8 inch round tin by greasing and lining with baking parchment.
- Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt together. Set aside. In a jug, beat together the buttermilk and vanilla extract. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for approximately 5 minutes until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add one third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk mixture, incorporating well each time. Repeat the process again and finish with the final third of flour. Add the orange zest and juice and mix well. Finally, add the poppy seeds and ensure they are thoroughly combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Whilst the cake is baking, prepare the syrup. In a small saucepan, add the granulated sugar and orange juice. Over a medium heat, allow the sugar to dissolve. Once dissolved, cook for a further 5 minutes until it is slightly reduced and resembles a syrup. Set aside.
- Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool a little in the pan. Turn onto a wire rack to allow to cool completely. Place a sheet of baking parchment under the wire rack to prevent syrup spills. With a skewer, pierce holes all over the top of the cooled cake, ensuring you do not punch all the way through - we want the syrup to settle in the cake, not seep out of the bottom. Spoon the syrup over the top of the cake ensuring it seeps down into the holes. Spread the syrup over the cake with the back of a spoon. Leave for a few minutes and then repeat until all the syrup is absorbed into the cake.
- Prepare the icing by mixing together the icing sugar and orange juice until completely smooth. Pour over the cake.
- To decorate, grate orange zest over the icing or add candied orange peel (optional).
Source: Adapted from Cheryl Day & Griffith Day’s ‘The Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook’
A month or so ago, I attempted to make a rather delicious sounding ‘Old Fashioned’ fried doughnut. Unfortunately, it was a complete disaster. The dough was too wet and did not retain the ‘ring’ shape in the frying process and ended up as random dollops of fried dough – not a pretty sight. They did taste good but my son said, ‘you’re no good at doughnuts Mum’.
Not to be defeated, I gave these baked doughnuts a try. Having played around with flour, milk, buttermilk, yoghurt and flavour combinations, these are my third attempt with which I am very happy. They have a good rise, are fabulously light, are not overly sweet, have a hint of cinnamon and are baked. That makes them a more guilt-free option over the fried variety.
Baked doughnuts can be prepared either by using a ‘doughnut’ baking pan, piping the dough into rings (both of these methods have a slightly wetter dough) or by rolling the dough and using a doughnut cutter, as I have done. You can buy the cutters fairly cheaply online, alternatively, most specialist cook shops should have them. I have used a 7cm diameter cutter so these are ‘midsize’ doughnuts – a perfect size for children.
I have presented a selection of glaze and toppings. In our house everyone has their preferences and if you are going to the effort to make these tasty morsels, you may as well keep everyone happy by offering a choice of toppings.
Not only do children and adults alike enjoy these doughnuts, these are a fun bake to do with children. They love to help with the measuring of the ingredients, adding ingredients to the mixer (with supervision), cutting the doughnuts (warning: the dough is pretty soft and delicate) and of course, the glazing and decorating is the real fun for them.
These are best eaten fresh, warm and the day they are baked. They are a real hit and everyone will enjoy them. Perfect for the weekend!
- 420g plain flour, plus extra for dusting surfaces
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 60g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 7g (1 x sachet) instant active yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 150g natural yogurt,
- 75ml whole milk
- 110g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 75g icing sugar
- 20g cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp. water
- 25g butter, melted
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 150g icing sugar
- 2-3 tbsp. milk
- Sprinkles of your choice
- In a bowl, sieve together the flour and cinnamon and mix together. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a freestanding mixture, with a paddle attachment, beat together the egg and sugar. Add the yeast, salt and honey. Mix further.
- Mix together the natural yoghurt and milk in microwave-proof dish, or cup. Warm the milk mixture in the microwave for approximately 20-30 seconds until lightly warmed. Add the warmed mixture to the mixing bowl and beat until fully incorporated. Slowly add approximately one third of the flour.
- Change the mixing attachment to the dough hook. Add the butter to the mixture, in small amounts, whilst the dough hook is mixing, ensuring that each amount is well incorporated. Add the remainder of the flour in small amounts until the dough comes together.
- Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a little until the dough is smooth and less moist. Form into a ball and place into a lightly greased large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for approximately 1 hour.
- Prepare two baking trays by lining with baking parchment.
- Once proved, again tip the dough on a floured work surface and knock the air out of the dough. Roll the dough until approximately 1/2 inch thick. With a cutter, cut the doughnuts and place on the prepared baking tray. With the off cuts, form into a smooth ball by stretching the dough over the creases and roll again to repeat the cutting.
- Cover the two trays with plastic bags and allow to prove for a further 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C or Gas Mark 6.
- Bake the doughnuts for approximately 8 minutes (check after 5 minutes) until the doughnuts are a light golden colour.
- Place on a cooling rack and glaze, or sugar, whilst still warm. Enjoy warm.
- Sieve together the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Add the water and stir thoroughly until you reach a smooth paste. Invert the warm doughnut and dip into the chocolate topping mixture.
- Place the caster sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl and mix together thoroughly. Melt the butter and then brush the doughnuts with the butter. Dip into the sugar mixture and cover entirely.
- Sieve the icing sugar into a shallow bowl. Add 2-3 tablespoons of milk and mix until you reach a smooth paste. Pour the sprinkles onto a saucer. Invert the doughnut and dip into the glaze and then dip the glaze into the sprinkles.
Source: Adapted from Lara Ferroni’s ‘Doughnuts’
So why make breadsticks today?
I knew I wanted to bake with dough. I was toying with the idea of baking doughnuts, cinnamon buns or Devonshire Splits. Then I couldn’t decide whether to do a ‘kids’ doughnut, or one with more sophisticated grown up flavours; then cinnamon buns, sticky, or with a tasty frosting; and the iced buns, plain with jam and cream, or fruit inspired? So with such indecision, I needed to try out something completely different – something savoury…breadsticks. I have been doing a fair bit of ‘experimental’ baking lately and have a lot of sweet bakes that need consuming, so my sweet dough antics will just have to hold off for a bit.
So my inspiration for these breadsticks came from a trip to the supermarket (not as glamorous as a farmer’s market or PYO today!) This wonderfully fresh rosemary caught my eye and I couldn’t resist it. Also, as I was alone in the shop, I had an opportunity to have a good browse at the spices and condiments. I stocked up on what I needed and thought I try out this smoked sea salt. The flavour is indeed smoked and has a lovely intensity in these breadsticks. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have this version of salt, a good quality natural course natural sea salt will do the job nicely.
Once again I have adapted a Paul Hollywood recipe. They work every time and hey, The Great British Bake Off starts again this week! This breadstick recipe is super easy and not time consuming. The ‘sticks’ are light, flavoursome, crunchy on the outside, beautifully ‘doughy’ on the inside. These are perfect dipped in olive oil and served with drinks or, just like every bake in this house, a good snack for the children. Just adapt the quantity of rosemary to suit your taste and you will be delighted with this bake.
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting surfaces
- 10g fast action yeast
- 10g salt
- 350ml tepid water
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 10-12 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 tbsp. smoked sea salt (alternatively, course natural sea salt, like Maldon)
- Semolina for dusting (optional)
- Oil a bowl, or plastic container, with olive or vegetable oil.
- Put the flour into the bowl of a free standing mixer. Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add most of the water and start to mix with the dough hook attachment. Add the remainder of the water if required and mix on a medium speed for about 5 minutes. Add the olive oil and continue to mix further. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough becomes less wet and more elastic. Add the rosemary, freshly stripped from the sprig. Note. The quantity of rosemary to be added should be to suit your taste. Just ensure you have sufficient to sprinkle on the dough sticks prior to baking. Place the rosemary dough into the oiled bowl/container and cover with a tea towel or seal with a lid.
- Allow to prove for a couple of hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Prepare two baking trays by lining with baking parchment.
- Once proved, tip the dough onto a work surface dusted with flour and semolina. Sprinkle more flour and semolina onto the damp, top side of the dough. Gently spread the dough into a rectangle shape, avoiding knocking any of the air out. With a sharp knife or dough separator, cut the dough into approximately 15 equal dough sticks. Place them onto the prepared baking trays. Sprinkle with the smoked sea salt and remaining rosemary. Place the trays into a clean plastic bag and allow to prove for an additional 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C, or Gas Mark 7.
- Bake the breadsticks for approximately 15 minutes until they are a light golden colour.
- Transfer to a wire cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Store in a bread 'bin' or tin.
Source: Adapted from Paul Hollywood’s ‘How To Bake’