Spiced Spritz Cookies

spicedspritz-1It is that time of year to dust down the Cookie Press and get baking these cutesy cookies. Spiced with ginger, all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, these crunchy, shaped morsels shout C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S. [Read more…]

Chai Spiced Rolls

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Do you ever get nostalgic over a particular food, or flavour? By this I mean, you remember when you first sampled a new flavour, dish, or bake and any subsequent enjoyment takes you back to the exact time and place you first enjoyed it. [Read more…]

Pumpkin Crinkle Cookies

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These Pumpkin Crinkle Cookies are a seasonal version of the ever popular Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. You know how good they are and how easy they are to make. [Read more…]

Spiced Apple Cake

spicedapplecake-1-2This Spiced Apple Cake is a seasonal alternative to everybody’s favourite – carrot cake. Making the most of the abundant apples, this recipe uses Bramley (cooking) apples for the cake and the sweet, red dessert variety for the crispy, cinnamon sprinkled apple ‘crisp’ decoration. Throw in a cream cheese frosting, warming spices and drizzle with maple syrup to serve, this cake is rather delicious. [Read more…]

Cinnamon Rolls

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These Cinnamon Rolls come highly recommended…

A family friend, on learning about my little baking blog, suggested that I just had to try this recipe. It comes from an American friend of theirs and I am delighted to be sharing this family recipe with you.

So what better time to make these now it is half term, the children are off school, and we all need a warm, sweet, cinnamon pick-me-up during the grey, February days? These are perfect for sharing and are at their best when eaten warm from the oven. Trust me, these are divine.

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To be honest, I don’t tend to make too many sweet dough bakes because they are dangerously good and I eat too many! I used to make Chelsea Buns (a variation on these but with sultanas) quite often with my bread machine, so this is my first attempt at sweet dough buns without the aid of a machine. To be honest it is incredibly easy.

Fundamentally, you need to prepare the dough, prove the dough for about an hour, cream together the filling and prepare the frosting. No fancy pans, ingredients or techniques are required and from start to finish, they are not particularly time consuming to make.

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I made a couple of small changes to the recipe, notably in the method whereby I added the yeast to the lukewarm milk, after it had been scalded, in order for it to dissolve and I melted the butter separately and then combined with the milk/yeast to reduce the risk of any curdling. I also used butter instead of the margarine, as it what I had in the fridge. I also creamed together the butter and sugar for the filling just to make spreading the filling more even and easier.

 

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So maybe you are wondering what makes these Cinnamon Rolls so good? Well, here are my thoughts.

The initial scalding of the milk allows for the baked dough to be super light. The filling quantities can be adjusted to taste if you want it to be more, or less ‘cinnamon-y’. The soft light brown sugar in the filling gives a wonderful caramel-like consistency to the cinnamon filling.

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Now, half way through the bake, you pour double cream over the buns. This adds a lovely creamy, decadent taste but also prevents them from drying out – a very, clever and delicious addition indeed.

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And finally, the frosting. Oh, this is very good! The addition of a little double cream lessens the sweetness but adds smoothness to this vanilla frosting. And the best part is you can either slather it on each bun as thick as you like, or warm slightly so it thins and drizzle over the buns. Absolutely sublime!

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Such a beautiful bake. Thank you so much Lindsay Tripp for sharing ‘Mema Tripp’s’ recipe. I learnt a lot from this bake and will be making them again for sure.

Wonderful for breakfast, brunch, afternoon tea or a post supper sweet fix, please go and try them people…

Best wishes Lindsay! x

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Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 12 rolls

Ingredients

    For the dough
  • 225ml whole milk
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 630g strong white bread flour
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 15g (or 2 sachets) of instant active yeast
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 100ml double cream (for mid bake)
  • For the filling
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon (or quantity to taste)
  • For the frosting
  • 470g icing sugar
  • 60g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste, or extract
  • 100ml double cream

Instructions

  1. Scald the milk in a small saucepan (not quite boiling but very hot to the touch). Set aside and allow to cool a little. In a separate pan, melt the butter. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar and salt and mix.
  3. Once the milk is lukewarm, add the yeast and mix until dissolved. Ensure the milk is not too hot otherwise the yeast will not activate properly. Add the melted butter to the milk/yeast mixture and combine.
  4. Make a 'well' in the dry ingredients and add the milk/yeast/butter mixture and the two beaten eggs. Thoroughly mix until the dough comes together. Don't worry if it appears a little wet. Place the dough into a lightly oiled (vegetable oil) large bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove somewhere warm for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Cream together in a bowl the butter, both sugars and cinnamon. Adjust the quantity of cinnamon to taste, if you choose. You should have a thick, spreadable paste.
  6. Heavily grease with butter, a 9 inch x 13inch baking pan. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4.
  7. Once proved, tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, approximately 25cm x 45cm. Spread the filling over the entire rectangle of dough ensuring it is fully covered and evenly distributed. Take the long side and carefully roll the dough into a long, even, tight roll. With a bread knife, cut the ragged ends. Continue with the bread knife (slicing like bread) to slice the roll into 12 equal portions. Equally space the rolls, swirls side down, into the greased baking pan.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes, turning the tray half way through. Then pour the double cream over the rolls and return to the oven. Bake for a further 15-17 minutes, rotating the pan as necessary for an even bake. Once the buns are golden brown, remove from the oven.
  9. Prepare the frosting by creaming together all the ingredients until smooth. Spread on the warm buns, as desired, or gently warm the icing and drizzle.
  10. Serve the cinnamon rolls warm.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/cinnamon-rolls/

Source: Lindsay Tripp’s  ‘Mema Tripp’s’ Recipe. Method and quantities (in cup/g conversion) very slightly adapted.

Granola with Cinnamon, Orange and Cranberries

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Granola.

How easy  is this to bake?

So often when I am in the supermarket and am looking for new breakfast inspiration, I look at shop-bought granola, review the contents on the box, raise my eyebrows at the cost and return it to the shelf. More often than not, it contains food items that don’t agree with us, so I leave with the intention of making it at home.

I have finally got around to doing it and will waste no more time lingering in the supermarket cereal aisle!

It is so easy to make and has enormous variation potential. Breakfast need not be dull anymore and can include, or exclude, whatever ingredients you choose. This granola is nut free but full of healthy seeds – pumpkin, sunflower and golden linseeds.

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There are numerous recipes for granola but I stumbled on Ottolenghi’s when I was referring to their Passion Fruit Jam which I made earlier in the week (sublime, by the way). I planned on adapting by excluding the nuts, but adding more seeds and rice flakes. The recipe also called for maple syrup, of which I didn’t have any in the house so I used Demerara sugar as a substitute.

Coincidentally, I received my Amazon delivery from the US (earlier than I than I was expecting – yippee!) of ‘The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2013’. I managed to have a quick browse through the book and, low and behold, found a sub section on granola. I have used these tips with this recipe, and method, and am very pleased with the results.

Whilst you can, more or less, add what you like to your granola, you must always ensure that it contains fat – or vegetable oil, in this case. This prevents the ingredients from drying out too much in the oven and helps with a crunchy granola, as opposed to a saw dust-dry type. To achieve a chunky, cluster type granola, as I have done here, simply flatten the granola on the baking tray with a spatula, prior to baking and do not stir during the baking process. Once baked, allow to cool a little before breaking up into bite sized chunks and then add your dried fruit of choice. Such straightforward advice from America’s Test Kitchen and a wonderful result.

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As the Festive Season is nearly upon us, this granola includes some seasonal flavours – cinnamon, orange zest and dried cranberries.

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Packaged up nicely in a jar, this makes a lovely unusual gift to add to any hamper, or to offer your host if you are a house guest over the holiday season.

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This wholesome granola is meant to be enjoyed with yoghurt and berries at breakfast but there are no real rules. It is rather moreish, so you may constantly be picking at it…

Granola with Cinnamon, Orange and Cranberries

Makes approximately 1kg

Ingredients

  • 400g porridge oats
  • 50g rice flakes
  • 80g pumpkin seeds
  • 80g sunflower seeds
  • 40g golden linseeds
  • 120g Demerara sugar
  • 120g honey
  • 60ml vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. freshly grated orange zest
  • 150g dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C, or Gas Mark 1. Arrange the oven racks to the middle of the oven. Prepare two baking trays (preferably with edges) by lining with baking parchment.
  2. Place the oats, rice flakes and seeds into a large bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, add the sugar, honey, oil, cinnamon, salt, water, and orange zest and place over a low heat. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is combined. Add the hot syrup mixture to the oat and seed mixture. Stir with a spatula and ensure that the dry ingredients are thoroughly coated.
  3. Divide the mixture equally over the two baking trays. Make sure that the mixture is evenly distributed and with the spatula flatten certain areas of the granola (this will make sure you have some very crunchy clusters).
  4. Bake for a total of 40 minutes, until the oats turn a light, golden colour. Ensure that you turn the trays and swap shelves after 20 minutes to ensure a very even bake.
  5. Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool a little on the trays before stirring in the cranberries.
  6. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/granola-with-cinnamon-orange-and-cranberries/

Source: Adapted and inspired by ‘Ottolenghi The Cookbook’ and ‘The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2013’

 

Gingerbread Pound Cake

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Technically, my Gingerbread flavoured Pound Cake is not actually correct.

A ‘pound’ cake is typically a very large cake made of a pound (a whooping 450g, no less), in equal ratios of flour: butter: sugar and eggs.  Nowadays, the quantities of the ‘pound’ cake are less rigid and as a it is typically baked in a Bundt, or loaf tin and conservatively finished, I figured I could get away with calling this a ‘Pound’ Cake.

With friends visiting this weekend I had wanted to bake a large cake but needed something that was quick and substantial. This pound cake was a perfect solution.

So, I have side lined my fresh berry obsession – albeit temporarily – to make way for my new favourite ingredient, ginger. I have been busy in my kitchen all week making Christmas hamper gifts. I made some rather delicious bottled Spiced Pears (more about these another day) but as a result I had some surplus fresh ginger.

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I wanted to adapt a recipe to include the fresh ginger and as I am planning my Christmas bakes, I have all the ingredients for gingerbread cookies, so why not include these flavours and recreate in a loaf style cake? Let me be clear, this is not the rich, sticky, molasses infused, bubbly gingerbread cake that you will know. Yes, in contains the dark rich sugars, dark treacle and glorious cinnamon, ginger and clove spices but it is a denser cake, perfect with a cup of tea.

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I have topped this with a rich chocolate ganache, inspired from Martha’s ‘Baking Handbook’ and it works wonderfully. That’s not to say that other toppings wouldn’t work. A simple dusting of icing sugar, a lemon glaze/icing or perhaps an orange cream cheese frosting would be wonderfully indulgent.

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 This warming, spiced cake is super easy to make and easy to enjoy when the weather is getting chilly outside.

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Gingerbread Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 280g plain flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 300g margarine, or softened unsalted butter
  • 160g Demerara sugar
  • 100g dark muscovado sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 2 heaped tbsp. dark treacle
  • For the topping
  • 600ml double cream
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • Crystallised stem ginger for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Grease and line a large (9cm x 24cm) loaf tin with parchment. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, or Gas Mark 4.
  2. Sift together in a bowl the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Mix and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, cream together the margarine, or butter, with both the sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once well combined, add the freshly grated ginger and the dark treacle. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Add the flour mixture in two parts ensuring that it is thoroughly mixed after each addition. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and level with a knife.
  5. Bake for 50-55 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing from the tin and allowing it to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool add the ganache topping.
  6. For the topping
  7. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over a low heat until it begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, chunk by chunk. Whisk the chocolate until it melts and combines with the cream to form a glossy ganache. Pour into a jug and allow to cool a little. Once cooler and a little firmer, pour over the cake. Sprinkle with the crystallised ginger to decorate (optional).
  8. Store in an airtight container.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/gingerbread-pound-cake/

Source: Adapted and inspired by Martha Stewart’s ‘Baking Handbook’

 

Baked Doughnut Selection

bakeddoughnuts-1-6My children have been asking me for sometime to make them doughnuts.

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’.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Baked Doughnut Selection

Approximately 20 mid-size doughnuts

Ingredients

  • 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
  • Chocolate Topping
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • Cinnamon Sugar Topping
  • 25g butter, melted
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Glaze and Sprinkle Topping
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp. milk
  • Sprinkles of your choice

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, sieve together the flour and cinnamon and mix together. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Prepare two baking trays by lining with baking parchment.
  7. 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.
  8. Cover the two trays with plastic bags and allow to prove for a further 20-30 minutes.
  9. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C or Gas Mark 6.
  10. Bake the doughnuts for approximately 8 minutes (check after 5 minutes) until the doughnuts are a light golden colour.
  11. Place on a cooling rack and glaze, or sugar, whilst still warm. Enjoy warm.
  12. For the Chocolate Topping
  13. 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.
  14. For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping
  15. 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.
  16. For the Glaze and Sprinkle Topping
  17. 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.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/baked-doughnut-selection/

Source: Adapted from Lara Ferroni’s ‘Doughnuts’