Tuesday, 31 March 2015

AlphaBakes "S" Roundup

It's the end of March and Easter is just round the corner. We have had a great selection of entries this month with lots of variety probably because it's an easy and versatile letter. Do remember to check out Caroline's blog on 1st April to find out which letter we are using next.

First off the mark is Caroline's mum, Jacqueline with her ginger and sultana cake.

Next we have Limoncello Cheesecake Squares from Kat from The Baking Explorer. She wanted to make use of her leftover limoncello and created these beautiful squares of cheesecake topped with a slice of lemon.

Moving on to something different, Dom from Belleau Kitchen baked this delicious smoked paprika, tomato and cheddar swirl loaf. He used a jar of Moroccan Tomato and smoked paprika paste and strong vintage cheddar to create this delicious loaf.

Kate from the Gluten Free Alchemist baked this Vanilla-Blueberry Cake with Meringue Cream which is of course gluten free. She was sent a selection of gluten free products from Delicious Alchemy to review and she used one of their sponge cake mixes for this recipe. She added in fresh berries, meringues and fruit jam which surely must count for more than 1 of my 5 a day!

Jean from Baking in Franglais made these chocolate and ginger sweetheart cakes for last month's AlphaBakes V but has very cleverly changed it to sweetheart cakes to fit with this month's theme. She is having a new kitchen put in and hence has very limited cooking/baking facilities. She made these with a chocolate cake mix, ground ginger and preserved ginger.

Jacqueline is back with her second entry in the form of a swiss roll with strawberry jam filling.

Suelle from Mainly Baking made one batch of dough to create two delicious cookies. She made semolina cookies for us using dates, pomegranate molasses, rose water and orange blossom water in one and pistachio and rose water in the other. It's a Dan Lepard recipe and she recreated them beautifully. She prefers the date cookies but they were both delicious.

Helen from Family Friends Food made a Spiced Hazelnut Loaf Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting. She was instructed to make a cake with chocolate icing. The original plan was for pear and cinnamon but it turned out to be hazelnuts and speculaas spice instead. Her recipients thoroughly enjoyed the cake which is no surprise as it sounds delicious! Helen sent in 2 entries for our V challenge last month but unfortunately it ended up in the spam email folder. Please have a look at her delicious entries - Nutella shortbread hearts and White chocolate & raspberry hamantaschen sandwich biscuits

Karen from Lavender and Lovage sent in this Shaker Lemon Pie. Her post reminisces about her time in PA and will inspire you to travel. Shakers are a religious group that broke away from the Quakers and many of them still have village communities in certain states. They are known for their simple and frugal lifestyle  which is why this recipe uses all of the lemons to give a really tangy lemony taste.

Next is Johanna from the Green Gourmet Giraffe who baked lots of lovely treats for her daughter's birthday. Her entry is rainbow cupcakes using rainbow sour straps. The cupcakes are decorated with baby blue icing to resemble the sky and thick white icing for the clouds. The finishing touch is the rainbow sour strap. She also made sausage rolls, chocolate mint cupcake and banana yoghurt cake.

My co host Caroline from Caroline Makes baked this showstopper of a cake for Comic Relief. It's a Floating Malteser Cake which uses sour cream. I baked a similar cake back in Oct 2014 which is where she got the recipe and idea from but used only maltesers as they are the official partners for Red Nose Day. How amazing does the cake look?

Caroline's next entry is homemade marshmallows where the key ingredient is sugar. She attended a meringue and marshmallow class at Cakes 4 Fun and these marshmallows are what they made in the class.

Next is my own entry with Snickerdoodles. I love the name of it and it's basically a sugar cookie rolled in cinnamon sugar. They are really thin and crispy and can be quite addictive to eat!

Moving on to something savoury for a change, Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary baked a garlic and rosemary foccacia with smoked sea salt. Her post has tips on how to taste olive oil which is judged on three primary dimensions – fruitiness, bitterness and pungency. The bread was served with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip which needed regular topping up!

Stuart from CakeyBoi delights us with his Irish Stout Mocha Loaf Cake. The cake has chocolate, coffee and stout. It's topped with a simple cream cheese icing and looks like a pint of Guinness with the contrasting dark sponge and light frosting.

Kate from the Gluten Free Alchemist is back with another entry in the form of St Clement's Cakes. The name comes from a popular children's nursery rhyme  'oranges and lemons say the bells of St Clements'. This is a fatless, gluten free sponge with lots of ground almonds, Macadamia Blossom Honey and lots of oranges and lemons!

Alexandra, the Lass in the Apron made some Scotch Girdle Scones which are cooked on a griddle rather than baked in the oven. The inspiration comes from the book 39 steps which is a classic spy thriller where the protagonist ends up running across the wilds of Sccotland as a fugitive and spends a lot of time wondering where his next meal is going to come from. The scones are crisp and golden on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside.

Kerene from the Dream Baker baked some super cute My Melody French Sables. She used a My Melody cutter to create the inside of this cookie which is a cross between a shortbread and butter cookies. She got the insipiration from a hidden rainbow heart cookie.

Moving on to something a little different, we have a Matcha Green Tea Irish Soda Bread baked by Shaheen from Allotment 2 Kitchen. This was inspired by an Irish colleague raving about Irish Soda Bread and St Patrick's Day in the middle of March.

Jen from Jen's Food who is the queen of baking with cranberries delights us with Cranberry and Lime Shortbread Creams. She is a self confessed cranberry addict and has lots of lovely cranberry recipes on her blog. This recipe uses cranberry powder and has some lime flavouring in the filling. The look really pretty and we have been warned that they are very addictive!

Next is my second entry with Lemongrass and Lime Sorbet with Lime Jelly. This is my first time making sorbet and I was surprised at how easy it was. The flavour is inspired by a Thai lunch I was cooking for some friends who were well impressed.

Johanna from the Green Gourmet Giraffe is back with Sprinkles Cupcakes made as a fun birthday party activity for her daughter. She baked some cupcakes the day before and laid out a table with icing and different sprinkles for the children to decorate their own cupcakes. The kids clearly had a great time and got to take their cupcakes home.

Next is a lovely spring sort of cake from Ten Times Tea. It is a spelt sponge cake with orange, lavender and chamomile served with stewed rhubarb with orange and rose and chamomile creme anglaise. 

Last but not least is Choclette from Tin and Thyme with her Surprise Easter Egg Cupcakes. The cupcakes have grated marzipan, lemon and cardamom and a hidden chocolate egg inside! These are perfect for Easter which is only a few days away.

And that's the end of the Super 'S' AlphaBakes round up. Remember to check out Caroline's blog on 1st April to find out what letter we are using next. It will be the half way mark for round two of AlphaBakes!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Bacon, mushroom and sun dried tomato egg muffins

This is a quick and easy recipe which is perfect for breakfast on the go, brunch or a picnic. It's easily adapatable to suit your tastes and does not require much preparation or fancy equipment. British Lion Eggs contacted me to create a recipe using eggs. In return I received an electronic egg boiler which I can't wait to try out. Did you know that 32 million eggs are eaten in the UK every day? (figure is an estimate for 2014 from British Lion Eggs website) 

According to British Lion Eggs,eggs are one of the most nutritious foods MONEY can buy - they are a natural source of many NUTRIENTS including high quality protein, vitamins and minerals. A medium egg contains less than 70 calories.  Eggs are naturally RICH in vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium and iodine. They also contain vitamin A and a number of other B vitamins including folate, biotin, pantothenic acid and choline, and essential minerals and trace elements, including phosphorus. *

Some helpful hints on egg storage and handling*
  • Look for the British Lion mark to guarantee that the eggs have come from hens vaccinated against salmonella
  • Make sure that there is a best before DATE on the egg - this is not a legal requirement, but all British Lion eggs are date-stamped
  • If you take eggs out of their box, make sure you store and use them in date order
  • Store eggs at a constant temperature below 20°C – in most domestic kitchens, the fridge is the best place to keep them
  • Take them out of the fridge half an hour before cooking for the best results
  • Store away from strong smelling food - egg shells are porous
  • Store away from raw meat
  • Wash your hands before and after handling eggs
  • Never use dirty, cracked, or broken eggs
  • Do not re-use left-over egg dishes

For this recipe, I added pancetta cubes, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. I was going to add spinach but I used it for another recipe! I also added in a handful of cheddar cheese as I had a small bit leftover. We had these for breakfast and it was tasty and filling. It was light and fluffy and just the right balance of ingredients. I can't wait to make different variations of this especially in the summer. 

I'm sending this to an egg-cellent new challenge all about eggs called Simply Eggcellent hosted by Dom from Belleau Kitchen.

 whisk eggs in a bowl and add other ingredients 

 divide mixture evenly in a muffin tray 

Makes 10 muffins
6 eggs
splash of milk (optional)
approximately 30g grated cheddar cheese (optional)
3 white mushrooms, finely chopped
1 box of pancetta cubes
5 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Grease muffin pan well.
  • Lightly pan fry the pancetta cubes until just cooked.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and add a splash of milk.
  • Add in the chopped mushrooms, sun dried tomato and cooked pancetta.
  • Season with ground black pepper - I didn't use any salt as the pancetta and sun dried tomatoes were salty but if you choose different ingredients then you may want to add a bit of salt.
  • Divide the mixture evenly in the muffin tray.
  • Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
  • Serve warm or cold.
Disclaimer: I was sent an electronic egg boiler in return for creating this recipe using eggs for British Lion Eggs. * Extracts of text are taken from British Lion Eggs website and have been marked with an *

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Banana, walnut and chocolate coated cranberry muffins

A quick and easy recipe today. I had a few yellowing bananas as per usual so I asked J what type of banana muffin he wanted. I told him to have a root round the pantry and he came back with a pack of walnuts and  a pack of dark chocolate coated cranberries which is how this recipe came about. These muffins are really quick and easy to put together. The walnuts go really well with the bananas and the dark chocolate coated cranberries are like a little surprise when you bite into them. 

I'm sending this to the No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary as this recipe uses up old bananas and ingredients from my cupboard. 

 ground cinnamon, bananas, walnuts, dark chocolate coated cranberries 

 adding the mashed bananas 

 adding yoghurt 

 adding flour 

 adding in the chopped walnuts and dark chocolate coated cranberries 

 ready to go in the oven 

 You can see the pockets of chocolate coated cranberries 

An original recipe by bakingaddict

2 eggs
125mls vegetable oil
3 tablespoons natural yoghurt
3 ripe bananas, roughly mashed with a fork
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
200g brown sugar
100g walnuts, roughly chopped
100g dark chocolate coated cranberries (you can use chocolate chips or dried cranberries or sultanas)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
220g plain flour 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar. 
  • In a separate bowl, roughly mash the bananas with a fork. 
  • Add in the vegetable oil and eggs followed by the yoghurt.
  • Pour the flour mixture into the banana mixture and stir briefly.
  • Add in the chopped walnuts and chocolate coated cranberries.
  • Stir until just mixed.
  • Divide the mixture into 12 muffin cases.
  • Bake for approximately 20-22 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Lemongrass and Lime Sorbet

I had some friends round for a meal recently and I planned a Thai/Asian themed meal. I was debating what to make for dessert when my mum suggested a lemongrass and lime sorbet. She tested the recipe and I tweaked it further to come up with this recipe. I've never made my own sorbet before and it's actually really simple. I'll definitely be making lots of sorbet especially in the summer months. I made some lime jelly to go with the sorbet and my guests were really impressed. The lemongrass flavour is subtle and you can definitely taste the lime. The sorbet was really refreshing and the jelly provided a different texture and addtional lime flavour to the dessert. 

I'm entering this to AlphaBakes which I am hosting with Caroline from Caroline Makes who hosts on alternate months. The letter this month is S for sorbet. 

I'm also sending this to Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream hosted by Kavey from Kavey Eats. This is my first time entering this challenge as I've never made ice creams or sorbets before. The theme this months is dairy free which is perfect for my sorbet recipe.

 sugar, lemongrass, limes, lime jelly and an egg white (optional) 

 boil lemongrass with sugar and water 

 making the lime jelly

 sorbet in syrup form ready to go in the freezer 

 looks like a margarita at this point

 whizz in a food processor and it looks like sorbet! 

 served with lime jelly and a slice of lime

An original recipe by bakingaddict
Makes approximately 500mls

150g caster sugar
750mls water
6 stalks lemongrass
juice and zest of 4 limes
1 egg white (optional)
1 pack of lime jelly to serve (optional)

  • Cut the lemongrass in half or thirds. Use the back of a knife to bash the firm end of the lemongrass. You should get a strong lemongrass fragrance.
  • Place the water, sugar and lemongrass in a pan and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the lemongrass flavour to infuse. 
  • Zest and juice 4 limes. Keep the zest aside for now.
  • After the sugar syrup has cooled, add the lime juice and stir.
  • Allow to cool completely before adding the lime zest.
  • Add in the egg white if using.
  • Place in a container and freeze for a few hours but preferably overnight.
  • Make up the lime jelly if using following the instructions on the packet. 
  • Scrape the frozen mixture with a fork to loosen and place into a food processor. 
  • Whizz until it's white and smooth. 
  • Place it back in the same container and freeze again until set.
  • Serve with lime jelly and a wedge of fresh lime.