Summer Berry Crepe Cake

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For a woman who is constantly making pancakes of sorts – thin, Scotch, puffy, buttermilk, Dutch – it would seem surprising that I have never made a Crepe Cake.

Until now.

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Banana Bread with Blueberries

bananabread-1-3Appearances can be deceptive.

Yes. This Banana Bread is not the best looking cake around (and everyone likes a good looking cake, right?), but to overlook this flavoursome bake would be a mistake. Indeed, I would have to say this is the best banana bread / loaf I have ever made. And trust me, I have made a fair few over the years, to use up those overripe bananas. [Read more…]

Dutch Baby Pancakes (Baked)

dutchpancake-1-2Need inspiration for Pancake Day? Don’t fancy standing over the stove and repeatedly flipping crepes? Why not try this light, fluffy, baked treat. Let me introduce you to the Dutch Baby Pancake…

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Marbled Brownie

marbledbrownie-1I think you will like these Marbled Brownies.

They are  intense dark chocolate brownies swirled with crème de cassis, soaked berries and a creamy soft cheese topping. I baked them a couple of weeks back when I hosted a charity coffee morning, a ‘Great Pink Bake Off’ for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. It was a very popular bake and many of my friends requested the recipe, so here it is.

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I have adapted it from an excellent article in The Guardian, ’10 Best Chocolate Recipes’. I have adapted mine by increasing the chocolate intensity, reducing the sugar slightly, substituting the raspberries for various dark berries and currants that I have in my freezer. Those of you who have followed the blog know I have a freezer full of gorgeous summer berries, the fruits of our numerous pick your own labours this summer. I have soaked these blackberries, blackcurrants and blueberries in crème de cassis but this is purely optional. I have used salted butter as I love the ‘salty/sweet’ taste with the dark chocolate. I have also changed the quantities of goat’s and cream cheese. I find there is nothing more irritating than buying an ‘out of the ordinary’ ingredient – for example, the goat’s cheese here and having to buy two packs, knowing you will only use one and a half of the quantity. I have played around with these quantities to make this bake more practical and economic, at the same time as making it still taste delicious.

marb-2These brownies are very easy to make and there is little room for error. They are deliciously ‘fudgy’, which goes wonderfully with the tartness of the berries and the creaminess of the soft cheese topping.

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These Brownies go a long way too – you will get 24, good portions from this bake. Perfect with morning coffee, afternoon tea, or served with a spoonful of cream for a lovely dessert. Just as well really…

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Marbled Brownie

Approximately 24 portions

Ingredients

  • 180g mixed berries & currants - blackberries, blueberries and blackcurrants
  • 2 tbsp. of crème de cassis (optional)
  • 300g dark, good quality chocolate (70% cocoa)
  • 175g salted butter
  • 125ml whole milk
  • 375g unrefined golden caster sugar, or caster sugar, plus 40g for the topping
  • 1 tsp. vanilla paste
  • 5 eggs (4 eggs for the Brownie, plus 1 for the topping)
  • 130g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 150g soft goat's cheese
  • 150g full fat cream cheese

Instructions

  1. Rinse the berries and currants and pat dry. Place in a bowl, add the crème de cassis, if using, mix and set aside.
  2. In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Prepare a 20cm x 30cm baking tray by greasing and lining with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4.
  3. In a large saucepan, over a low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together. Once melted set aside to cool before adding the milk. Whisk. Add 375g of sugar and the vanilla paste and combine. Add 4 eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in approximately half of the berries and currants, along with the juices. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared tin and distribute evenly.
  4. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, or with a hand held electric whisk, beat together the goat's cheese, cream cheese, the remaining egg and 40g of sugar. Once light and fluffy, fold in the remaining fruit.
  5. With a large spoon, drop portions of the goat's cheese mixture onto the brownie mixture. Swirl the mixture with a knife, ensuring that you get a good 'swirl' but without over mixing.
  6. Bake the brownie for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit in the tray for 10 minutes before removing from the tray and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. Once cool, cut into portions and serve. Store in an airtight container.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/marbled-brownie/

Source: Adapted from Faith Durand’s recipe as seen in The Guardian’s ’10 Best Chocolate Recipes’

 

Panna Cotta with summer berries

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The intent of my blog is working.

Again, I am trying something I haven’t made before. This time a dessert. To be honest, I don’t make desserts too often. They can look too fiddly, or there are too many instructions and long wait times.

For sure, that is why I have probably avoided making panna cotta. Whilst the desserts look delightful, perfectly moulded with inviting toppings, the thought of unmoulding little desserts has put me off. That I why I encourage you to try this method – one large panna cotta for slicing.

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pannacotta-1-3Yes, unmoulding is a nerve racking business and admittedly the stakes are higher if you get this one unmoulding wrong (i.e. you lose the whole dessert) but if you lightly grease the pan, dip the base of the tin into a shallow dish with an inch of boiling water for 8 seconds ONLY, turn onto a flat plate, you will be rewarded with a stunning dessert.

So if you happen to be entertaining this Bank Holiday, want a dessert that is simple to make, delicious and can be made a day or so ahead, why not give this a go?

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Note: Contains Pork

Panna Cotta with summer berries

Serves 8 - 10

Ingredients

    For the Panna Cotta
  • 1 litre double cream
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 6 leaves of fine gelatine*
  • Cold water for soaking gelatine
  • For the topping/sauce
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175ml water
  • 350g fresh berries

Instructions

    For the Panna Cotta
  1. Heat the cream and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Add the vanilla pod, split length ways and remove from the heat. Allow to infuse for 30 minutes.
  2. Lightly oil a 9inch baking tin (or 8 individual cups) with a light oil.
  3. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water until softened. Place the leaves in the bowl one at a time so that they do not stick together. Allow leaves to soften.
  4. Return the saucepan to a low heat, remove the vanilla pods. Add the gelatine, to the pan, having squeezed the excess water.
  5. Stir the pan mixing in the gelatine.
  6. Pour the mixture into the greased ban (or individual cups). Allow to cool and then refrigerate until completely set.
  7. For the sauce
  8. Place the water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved.
  9. Add half the berries and then put in a blender and mix. Pass the sauce through a sieve and return to the pan. Simmer further until reduced to a thicker sauce/compote. Stir in the remaining berries and leave to cool.
  10. To Serve
  11. Run a sharp knife around the tin of the panna cotta. Dip the base of the tin into a larger pan/dish that has an inch of boiling water at the bottom. Dip for only 8 seconds and turn upside down onto a flat serving plate immediately. Refrigerate a little further if need be. Spoon over the berries initially and then some sauce. Any excess sauce, place in a jug and add when serving.

Notes

* For a pork free panna cotta, substitute the gelatine leaves for two packets of gelatine powder (contains beef) and 90ml of cold water. Sprinkle the gelatine over the cold water in a bowl and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the warm panna cotta over the gelatine and stir until completely dissolved. Place the mixture into the prepared tin/cups.

http://thecontentedbaker.com/panna-cotta-with-summer-berries/

Source:  Panna Cotta from David Lebovitz.com (original source ‘Secrets From My Tuscan Kitchen’ by Judy Witts), sauce adapted from Simon Rimmer’s BBC Food Recipes ‘Something For The Weekend’

 

 

Blueberry and Lemon Muffins

I was pretty certain that today I would bake something with blueberries and lemon. Blueberries because I had a punnet in the fridge that have probably seen fresher days and lemon, well, I just think is it a great compliment to the blueberries. My dilemma was to bake muffins or tea cake…

Muffins won today…

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Its been a while since I have baked muffins. To be honest, I had forgotten how quick and easy they are to make. They have the added bonus of not requiring a knife for cutting and serving!

I usually use muffin cases when baking these but often feel a little cheated when peeling back the wrapper only to find half the muffin (particularly fruit ones) clinging to the sides of the paper. Anyhow, on this occasion I omitted it altogether, as per the original recipe. I have to say, I liked the wrapper-free option. No such feelings of disappointment. The muffins came out of the pan easily and not a morsel went to waste.

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Sometimes my children procrastinate over whether they want to try one of my bakes or not. Without hesitation, these muffins were a hit and a perfect after school ‘tide-me-over-until-dinner’ snack.

A definite hit…

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Blueberry and Lemon Muffins

12 Muffins

Ingredients

  • 110g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • 280g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 150g fresh blueberries
  • 200g caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract)
  • 120ml buttermilk
  • Granulated sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.
  2. Prepare a 12 cup muffin pan by greasing with butter and dusting with flour, tapping out the excess flour.
  3. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. With the sieve over the bowl, toss the blueberries in a little flour. This will prevent the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the bake.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add one egg at a time. Continue to beat and add in the vanilla paste/extract. Follow with mixing in the lemon zest.
  5. Gently stir the flour mixture into the batter mixture until just combined.
  6. Add the buttermilk and continue to combine. The mixture should be a little lumpy as this will the give the muffins a good texture.
  7. Fold in the blueberries and divide equally into the muffin cups.
  8. Sprinkle batter with granulated sugar, if desired.
  9. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.
  10. Allow to cool a little in the pan before cooling on a wiring rack.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/blueberry-and-lemon-muffins/

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart’s ‘Baking Handbook’