Wednesday, 27 February 2013

AlphaBakes E Round up

It's time for another AlphaBakes round up. I know E was quite a difficult letter so thank you to everyone who submitted an entry. One lucky entrant has won a copy of Pure Vanilla - scroll to the bottom to find out who it is! Remember to head over to Caroline's blog on 1st March to find out what letter we are baking with next month. I think we've done most of the easy letters so it looks like it's all uphill from here :) I do love a good baking challenge so bring it on I say! 

First up is Jacqueline (Caroline's mum) with eccles pastries. 

Next we have Lauren from A Baked Thesis with Eccles Cakes. She used a Mary Berry recipe which uses a combination of currants and candied peel. She made her own puff pastry and has lovely step by step photos if you feel the urge to make your own. 

Moving away from Eccles for now is Mich from Piece of Cake with her Spinach and Cheese Souffle. I can't believe it's the first time she's made souffles as it looks amazing. She was worried about the souffle collapsing and not getting a good photograph but I think it looks perfect.

Eira from Cookbooks Galore sent us some cute elfin cakes. She got this recipe from an old 1960 cookbook that belongs to her mum. She baked this with her grandson and the sprinkles were his idea - genius! 

Grace from Life Can Be Simple baked some earl grey tea cookies using tea she bought in Korea. She also has a fancy mould that makes perfectly square cookies - I so desperately want one myself! 

Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen made Esther's Orange Marmalade Layer Cake.  This cake features in the Mitford series of books written by Jan Karon. I've  never heard or read of these but I am tempted to check them out now after seeing this gorgeous cake. 

Jacqueline is back with another 'E' cake. They are actually sponge cakes with cream cheese frosting in the shape of a pop group's initials - Electric Light Ochestra. 

Helen from Fuss Free Flavours made us a Vegan Date and Orange cake. The E here is that the cake is eggless (and butterless). She adapted her original recipe of an easy peasy ginger cake to make this delicious treat. It's a mix all in one cake using store cupboard ingredients, perfect for a last minute bake. 

Caroline's sister also joined in the fun this month with her espresso cupcakes.

Suelle from Mainly Baking found E to be a challenging letter. She thought of Eccles cakes initially but decided they were too time consuming and then remembered an Ecclefechan tart, named after a place in Scotland. She used a mix of dried fruits including sultanas, blueberries, glacé cherries, cranberries and strawberries baked in a shortcrust pastry shell. She also added zest of a tangerine to freshen the flavour. It sounds amazing and I'm sure you'll agree that it looks delicious. 

Next is my entry with a Pistachio, Yoghurt and Elderflower cake. I know elderflowers are not in season but I really struggled to think of E bakes apart from eclairs or eccles cakes, both of which I ruled out due to it's fiddly nature. This is a Jamie Oliver recipe which was easy to put together and tasted amazing.

My co-host Caroline from Caroline Makes baked some delicious sounding Elvis Cupcakes - banana, peanut butter and bacon. Apparently Elvis's favourite sandwich filling was banana, peanut butter and bacon so Caroline decided to make it in cupcake form! I am loving the sound of caramelized bacon! 

Fiona from Let Them Eat Cake had to bake a cake for work and decided on a Elderflower and Poppyseed cake. She had good feedback about the cake and I'm not surprised as it looks delicious! 

Next are Espresso Cupcakes from Dawn from Wild About Baking. She used a Nigella recipe and the result was a lovely, light cake with an intense coffee flavour. I love the chocolate ganache topping. 

Caroline is back again with Elephant Ears otherwise known as palmiers. They are essentially baked puff pastry sprinkled with sugar. Yes please!

My mum has been on a roll this month. She made three delicious entries for us. First an eggless apricot and raisin cake. The apricots and raisins are soaked in orange juice for an hour before baking. The cake was moist and delicious. 

Her next offering is an English Lemon Gateau which is a sponge cake sandwiched with homemade lemon curd and covered in whipped cream.

Finally a recipe she devised herself after my dad suggested eggplant for E - an eggplant cake made from eggplant, soft tofu, eggs, olive oil, soya milk and flour. The cake was moist but not salty enough. I think it sounds interesting and would love to try a slice. 

Mel from Sharky Oven Gloves baked some gorgeous looking Earl Grey & Lemon Melting Moments. She made a cup of tea to think about E entries and came up with these. It's really nice and summery where she is so these are perfect for an 'after swim in the sea' treat. 

Elderflower has been quite popular this month. This time it's a Raspberry and Elderflower Bakewell Pudding by Claire from Under the Blue Gum Tree. The recipe inspiration comes from the Hairy Bikers Food tour of Britain. She made individual puddings which look really pretty. 

I'm back again with English Madeleines. I'd never made them before but came across them whilst searching for E bakes. They are basically sponge cakes baked in a dariole mould, covered in jam, rolled in coconut and topped with half a cherry. I think they look really cute, don't you? 

Last but not least is Jean from Baking in Franglais with an Eighteenth Century Tart. It's a dessert that she used to make regularly in the 1990's and I'm sure she'll be baking more of them now that she's rediscovered them. It's an orange curd tart with grated apple on top. Sounds delicious! 

That's all for this month. Now on to the lucky winner of Pure Vanilla picked at random by a random number generator..... Congratulations Dawn from Wild About Baking! An email with details will follow. Remember to check out Caroline's blog on 1st March to see what the letter is for next month.... I'm telling you now that it's not easy but I'm sure you'll rise to the challenge! 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Banana, walnut and white choc chip muffins

It's random recipe time again! This brilliant challenge hosted by Dom from Belleau Kitchen is in its third year so he decided that the theme would be "the choice is yours" - pick a book your way and make a random recipe from it.  My choice this month was simple - randomly unpack one of my boxes labelled 'books' and pull out a book. 

 my random book for the challenge - yay!

 I opened it to a random page and the choice was nutty banana and choc chip chomps or spotty dotty orange and poppy seed. I had all the ingredients for the banana one to hand so that was an easy choice. 

The muffins were quick and easy to make - just mix all the ingredients together and bake. They were really moist and I loved the added crunch of the nuts and sweetness of the white chocolate. The sugar amount was just right for me - often I find recipes too sweet. If you like a sweet muffin then add a little more sugar. 

These muffins would also fit in nicely with this month's One Ingredient challenge hosted by Nazima from Franglais Kitchen and Laura from How to Cook Good Food. The ingredient this month is banana. If you are a regular reader, you will know I love baking with bananas so I'm doubly excited that I get to join in and also to read the round up as I can get more banana inspiration! 

 adding white choc chip and walnuts 

 delicious served warm with a cup of tea

Recipe from Baking Magic

Makes 11 muffins of size shown

300g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
65g soft brown sugar
150ml milk
1 egg, beaten
100ml sunflower oil
2 ripe bananas, roughly mashed
85g walnut pieces
100g white chocolate chips

  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • Mix the flour and baking powder in one bowl.
  • Mix the sugar, milk, egg, oil and bananas in another bowl.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Finally stir in the nuts and chocolate chips.
  • Spoon into muffin cases and bake for about 20 minutes or until risen and golden. 

Monday, 25 February 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Peanut butter, almond and raisin cookies

My last Secret Recipe Club (SRC) post was back in November 2012 as we had a break for December and I had a break for January. I first joined the SRC back in Nov 2011 so this is officially my first post in my second year of SRC. For my first assignment I made peanut butter chip pillows and coincidentally I've used peanut butter chips again! You can tell I love my peanut butter :) 

Secret Recipe Club was founded by Amanda from Amanda's Cookin and is now run by April from Angels Homestead. Each month, we are assigned a secret blog where we choose a recipe to make and everyone posts on the same day of the month. This month, I was assigned Finding Joy in My Kitchen. It's run by SnoWhite who picked up cooking as a hobby at graduate school, looking to cook healthy, easy meals on a budget whilst managing her nut allergy. She started her blog during her first year of marriage for her mom. It was a place to document their cooking journey and now serves to be an inspiration to others. 

I had a great time browsing through her recipes - there are a lot of easy, simple meals and as usual it was hard to make a choice. The desserts & treats category was further subdivided into ice cream & cool treats; cookies & bars; cakes; special cakes, frosting & filling; cobbler, crisps & pies; other yummy desserts & treats. I felt like a kid in a candy store - what should I make? I narrowed it down to lemon raspberry cake, mint chocolate crinkles, zucchini cookies and frozen lemon tart.  In the end I decided on these oatmeal raisin cookies mainly because it said 'our favs' next to it. It's her husband's excellent cookie recipe and the best thing is that you can add any extras to the cookie that you like. 

I unpacked a few boxes and used what I had to hand which ended up being peanut butter chips, flaked almonds and raisins. I wasn't sure if it would work but it did. The cookies were really addictive and I was not surprised that the whole batch disappeared in no time! I'll definitely be making these again with different add ins. 

 what I found in my box

 amazing, crisp, addictive cookies

Recipe adapted slightly from Joy in My Kitchen

225g butter
175g brown sugar
180g caster sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
330g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
135g rolled oats
2 cups add ins (choc chips, raisins, cranberry etc) - I used 1 cup of peanut butter chips, 1/2 cup raisins and 1/2 cup flaked almonds

  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Grease and line a baking tray with parchment paper. 
  • Cream butter and sugars until smooth.
  • Add in eggs and vanilla extract.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda and mix in.
  • Stir in oats and other add ins.
  • Use a small ice cream scoop to place scoops of cookie dough spaced apart on a baking tray.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
  • Allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

English Madeleines

As you can tell, I've been on a bit of a baking spree lately! I decided to make another entry for this month's AlphaBakes. I looked through my books for 'E' inspiration and found this in my Mary Berry Ultimate Cake Book - English Madeleines.  I've made French madeleines before but never English Madeleines.  The main difference is their shape - the French ones are traditionally shell shaped whereas the English ones are made in dariole moulds and are covered in jam & dessicated coconut and topped with a cherry.

AlphaBakes is a monthly blogging challenge hosted this month by myself and co-hosted by Caroline from Caroline Makes. Each month, we pick a random letter and the idea is to bake something with that letter as the main ingredient or name of bake. This month, the letter is "E".  Today is the deadline for Feb AlphaBakes so make sure you've emailed them across.

 I knew I'd get a chance to use my dariole mould one day.

 dessicated coconut, glace cherries and strawberry jam. 

 ready to go in the oven 

 Have everything ready to assemble your madeleines. 

 Use a fork to hold the cake, brush jam over it, roll it in coconut and top with half a cherry.

 Cute little cakes

Recipe from Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book 

Makes 12 madeleines

100g butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4-6 tablespoons strawberry jam, sieved
50g dessicated coconut
6 glace cherries, halved

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Place all the ingredients for the cake in a mixer and mix until smooth.
  • Fill the dariole moulds until 2/3 full.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until well risen and firm to the touch. 
  • Allow to cool completely.
  • Trim the bottom of the cakes so they stand independently. 
  • Warm the sieved jam in a pan and set aside. 
  • Use a fork to spear the base of the cake to hold them.
  • Brush them with the warm jam, then roll in the coconut to coat.
  • Add half a glace cherry on top to finish.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Ginger and chocolate oat cookies

As you know I've recently moved into a new place. More than half of my kitchen is still in boxes but it does not stop me from baking! I asked a friend and her dad to come over to help my build some furniture and thought it was only fair that I provide tea and treats. I chose to bake treats that would fit into my regular blogging challenges as I've missed participating in them. 

These cookies are for We Should Cocoa - a monthly blogging challenge run by Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog and Chele from Chocolate Teapot. This month, it's guest hosted by Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes and she chose ginger as the ingredient to pair with chocolate. I decided to make cookies as it would be an easy treat to nibble on whilst working so I did a quick google search and got a recipe from BBC food. The cookies were really quick and easy to make. I tried one and actually quite liked it as it was not very gingery at all! It tasted more like a spiced oat biscuit which reminded me of Christmas. 

If I were to make these again, I'd add more ginger (for my ginger loving friends) and maybe some nuts to give it a bit of crunch. I'd also make half the recipe as the recipe says it makes 24 biscuits but I got more than double that amount!

 melt butter and golden syrup (left), lightly beat eggs (right), mix flour, oats, spices and sugar (centre) 

 The cookies look a little wet but don't worry...

... fresh, crisp cookies

 dipped in chocolate

Recipe from BBC Food website
I used 225g chocolate as I ended up with a lot of cookies!