Monday, 30 November 2015

AlphaBakes "M" Round up

Welcome to November's "M" Roundup. It's great to see so many of you joining in with AlphaBakes this month. We've had a wide variety of entries from sweet to savoury and a few new ingredients I've not heard of before. I am excited to see what December brings as we have already used 'X' this time and there's not many letters left so let's hope it's a good one. Be sure to check out Caroline's blog on 1st December to find out.

Caroline's mum Jacqueline sent in a chocolate marble cake. I love marble cakes and this looks pretty and delicious. 

Next we have Mushrooms on toast with Garlic and Thyme by Kate from Veggie Desserts. This is a delicious breakfast/brunch which is quick and easy to make. The mushrooms have lots of flavour from the herbs and the toast helps to absorb all those lovely mushroom juices. 

My co host Caroline from Caroline Makes baked Lavender Macarons which she packed in a box to give to her mum. You can read about Home Bake Box where she got the ingredients from on her blog. I am always impressed with anyone that bakes macarons as I'm terrible at them myself!

Suelle from Mainly Baking baked a delicious Marzipan and Cherry Loaf for her husband who wanted one from Waitrose. Why buy one when you can bake one at home and I'm pretty sure this tasted better than the shop bought ones. The cherries look really pretty and are beautifully and evenly spaced out. Check out her blog for her very helpful tip on how to prevent the cherries sinking to the bottom.

On to something savoury now with Maftoul with Roasted Harissa Rainbow Carrots from Shaheen from A2K - A seasonal Veg Table. Maftoul is made from sun-dried bulgar wheat and hand rolled into tiny, chewy balls. It absorbs flavours very well and is served with gorgeous roasted rainbow carrots.

Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe made a beetroot and caramelised onion galette with vegan mozarella. It made for a perfect end to a day full of ups and downs and I'm sure balanced out all the bad in the day! It's such a versatile recipe as you can change the filling and serve it warm or cold. 

Caroline is back with a Brazilian Condensed Milk Cake also known as Bolo de Leite Condensado. Caroline thought she got a can of caramel but had a can of condensed milk instead so decided to find a recipe to use it up. Unfortunately she didn't really like the texture of the cake as it was rubbery in texture but was not too bad when served with custard. The bundt tin makes the cake look really pretty. 

Kate from Gluten Free Alchemist made Mini Mouthful Jam Tarts with Pate Sucree which are of course gluten free. Pate Sucree is sweet French tart pastry which is sweetened and enriched shortcrust pastry perfect for sweet patisserie. Her is topped with a fresh raspberry which makes it look so pretty and oh so tempting!

Next is my own entry with a Chocolate Mint Cake made as a suprise for a friend's birthday. The sponge is chocolate mint and it has a creamy, minty cream cheese filling with chopped up Aeros. The cake is topped with a chocolate ganache and decorated with more Mint Aero's. If you like chocolate and mint then you'll love this cake! 

Dom from Belleau Kitchen baked a Gluten Free Apple and Medjool Date Cake which looks delicious and virtuous. Dom's not so sure about it as he feels it lacks something naughty but it went down well unsurprisingly! I'm sure it would be a great recipe for the upcoming festive season especially for those who are gluten intolerant.

Choclette from Tin and Thyme baked Strawberry Marshmallow Fluff Cookies and says they are the best cookies ever! I don't doubt her for an instant and would really like to try one or two of them. They are moreish on the outside and chewy on the inside and has ooey gooey marshmallow fluff baked in the cookie. 

Stuart from Cakeyboi made a very seasonal dessert, perfect for autumn and Thanksgiving with an unusual ingredient and a very clever kitchen gadget. I am of course talking about his Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow. It's full of seasonal spices such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves which I'm sure smelt heavenly whilst baking. 

Next we have Golden Oat Raisin and Almond Cookies by Kat from The Baking Explorer. They are made with Marriage's Master Millers Golden Plain Flour and are packed full of almonds, raisins and a touch of golden syrup. It's unsurprising really that they went down a treat and I'm sure there will be requests for more! 

Caroline is back with French Toast Stuffed with Cream Cheese and Caramelised Pecans. She got the inspiration from her trip in America and served it with a little bottle of maple syrup, a souvenir from her trip. It sounds absolutely delicious and would make for a very indulgent brunch.

Caroline's final entry is White Chocolate, Banana and Walnut Gluten Free Muffins. She was recently named Writer of the Year at work - congratulations Caroline! and baked these muffins as a celebration. She made them gluten free so everyone could enjoy them.

Next we have Kerene from The Dream Baker with her Strawberry Cheesecake Mousse. It's an easy no bake dessert which is great for using up leftover cream cheese and whipping cream. I love the addition of strawberries and her presentation is beautiful. 

Our final entry is Green Beans with Mushrooms and Shallots by Grace from Life can be Simple. She wanted to make side dishes that she liked and that were also on the healthy side and came up with this. Looks delicious and nutitious!

That's the end of the Magnificient and Marvellous "M" round up! Thank you to everyone who participated. Remember to check out Caroline's blog tomorrow to see what letter we are using next and I will see you all back in January 2016!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies

I am really excited to share this recipe with you. I love autumn baking and have been baking non stop with apples. There's something so comforting about apples and cinnamon and it's even better when paired with pastry. I love a good apple pie and I have to confess that I occasionally crave a McDonald's apple pie! I saw these salted caramel apple pies on Kelly's blog and have been wanting to bake them for weeks. I finally got a chance and they were well worth the wait. I used a different recipe for the pastry which has a high proportion of butter to flour and it tasted amazing! It is the best pastry I've made as it's so buttery and flaky almost like a puff pastry. I loved the cinnamon, caramel apple filling but was not a fan of the sea salt which I will omit next time. The pies were not as difficult to make as I originally thought and I will definitely be baking these again. We had them warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it was absolutely divine. It was equally good the next day cold for breakfast! I am now thinking of different fruit variations for these pies - apple and raisin, apple and berries, pear and ginger.... any other ideas? 

I'm sending this to a few blog challenges this month. 
The Pastry Challenge hosted by Lisa from United Cakedom and Jen from Jen's Food. The theme this month is pies and tarts. 

Recipe of the Week hosted by Emily from A Mummy Too. 

Bake of the Week hosted by Helen from Casa Costello.

Treat Petite hosted by Kat from The Baking Explorer and Stuart fromCakeyboi. The theme this month is Autumn.

Cook Blog Share hosted by Kirsty from Hijacked by Twins.

 I found some salted caramel sweets in France

 Make sure you chop the apples into little pieces so they cook properly

 I'm really proud of my pastry :) 
 Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the centre of a pastry circle

 add chopped caramels and sea salt flakes 

 Wet the edges of the pastry and place a pastry circle on top

 Press down gently and crimp with a fork 

 Brush with egg wash then cut some air vents and add a sprinkling of demerera sugar (I didn't have any granulated sugar) 

 You can see the soft, flaky pastry here - it resembles puff pastry!! 

Makes 12 mini pies

For the pastry
315g plain flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
285g butter, cubed and cold
6-10 tablespoons ice cold water

For the filling
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped into little pieces
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
50g caster sugar
2 teaspoons plain flour
12 caramel sweets, roughly chopped
sea salt flakes

For the egg wash
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Note: I used a food processor to make my pastry but you can of course make it by hand.

  • Place the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor and mix briefly.
  • Add in the chopped cold butter and pulse until it resembles bread crumbs.
  • Add in a tablespoon of water at a time and continue mixing until a soft dough forms. I used 8 tablespoons of water. 
  • Knead the dough gently and wrap in cling film.
  • Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes but preferably a few hours. 
  • Next make the filling by mixing the chopped apple, lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar and flour in a bowl. 
  • Roughly chop the caramel sweets - I used 1 sweet per apple pie. 
  • Remove the dough from the fridge. Tear off a small piece and place the rest back in the fridge - the dough is best when chilled so work with a small bit at a time.
  • Roll out the dough on a floured surface.
  • Cut out circles using a round cutter - you need 2 pieces per pie. 
  • Place the circles on a baking tray lined with non stick baking paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • Place 1 tablespoon of apple filling in the centre of each circle, keeping the edges free.
  • Add the chopped caramels and a sprinkling of sea salt flakes (optional).
  • Dip your finger into a bowl of water and lightly run your finger around the edge of each pastry circle.
  • Add a circle of dough on top of the apple pie and press down the edges gently.
  • Crimp the edges using a fork.
  • Brush the pies with eggwash.
  • Cut a few air vents in each pie and sprinkle with granulated or demerera sugar (optional). 
  • Bake in a pre heated oven of 200C for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Chocolate Mint Cake

I planned a little surprise birthday dinner for a friend recently. Luckily it went well and the birthday girl was indeed surprised and very happy! I asked the restaurant if I could bring a cake and started thinking about what to bake. I remembered that chocolate mint is her favorite so I thought of a chocolate cake with a minty filling. I had great success with my chocolate cake and Oreo cream cheese filling so I decided to adapt that into a chocolate mint cake. I used the same cake recipe but added 1 tablespoon of mint extract. The filling also had mint and green food coloring and chopped up mint aero. The cake was then topped with a chocolate ganache and mint aero balls. I forgot to take pictures at the restaurant so I only have a few photos to share. The cake was absolutely delicious! Light and minty but not overly so. My friend's dad really enjoyed the cake and I got more compliments about the cake later from her family! 

I'm sharing this with Alphabakes which I'm hosting this month. Caroline from Caroline Makes is my co host. The letter this month is M for mint. 

For the cake
350g caster sugar
220g plain flour
85g cocoa powder
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
1.5 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
250mls milk
125mls vegetable oil
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
250mls boiling water, cooled for a few minutes

For the filling
400mls double cream
225g cream cheese
85g icing sugar
green food colouring
2 large bars of Mint Aero, roughly chopped

For the ganache
200mls double cream
200g dark chocolate 

To decorate
Mint Aero balls

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Grease and line 2 x 18cm round tins. 
  • Place the sugar, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix briefly.
  • Add in the milk, oil, eggs, peppermint extract and finally the slightly cooled boiling water.
  • Mix until smooth.
  • Divide the batter between the 2 cake tins and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
  • Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
  • To make the filling, whip the cream until stiff then set aside. 
  • Beat the cream cheese with the icing sugar until smooth. Add in a little green food colouring and mix thoroughly. 
  • Stir in the whipped cream and chopped mint aero chocolate. 
  • Chill in the fridge if not using immediately.
  • To make the ganache, heat the cream gently until it's just starting to bubble - don't let it overboil.
  • Add in the chocolate in small pieces whilst stirring.
  • Whisk for a few minutes until it's smooth.
  • Allow to cool for 5-10minutes before using.
  • To assemble the cake, place one cake upside down on the cake board. 
  • Spread the cream cheese filling evenly on the cake, smoothing out the edges as you go. 
  • Add the second cake on top.
  • Pour the ganache from a height on to the centre of the cake and allow it to spread out until it's dripping down the edges of the cake. 
  • Decorate with mint aero balls. 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Apple Rose Tarts

Yesterday we celebrated a month of marriage. It seems silly I know but I thought it would be nice to mark the occasion with something special. In my world that usually means cake or chocolate. However, I've been wanting to bake apple rose tarts for a while now particularly as my mum and aunt made it recently with huge success. It's normally very popular around Valentine's Day and Mother's Day so I decided to give it a go. It really is much easier than it looks. This makes for a very impressive dessert with a little effort. Plus roses traditionally symbolise love. J was well impressed as was I! 

There are lots of recipes and videos available online and this is my interpretation. A little clumsy but still pretty and delicious. You can get 6 tarts out of 1 sheet of puff pastry but I made mine extralarge and only made 4! Most of the recipes used jam but I decided to go with melted butter and cinnamon sugar. Apologies for the poor quality photos but it was very late at night! 

 ready rolled puff pastry, 2 red apples, butter, cinnamon sugar and egg wash

 Slice the apples thinly and arrange on a plate. Makes sure you keep the skin on. Microwave it gently for 1-2 minutes until the apples are soft and pliable. 

 Cut the puff pastry into 4 using a pizza cutter (cut into 6 strips for smaller, neater tarts) 

 Roll each sheet slightly to widen and flatten it. Spread some melted butter on top

 Add a generous sprinkling of cinnamon sugar

 Arrange apple slices, overlapping the ends on top of the puff pastry sheet 

 fold the bottom part over and add more melted butter and cinnamon sugar. Starting at one end, roll it up and the apple slices will look like rose petals

 How pretty does that look? I baked mine in a buttered ramekin dishes in a 220C oven for approximately 40 minutes. You can also use a muffin tin if you are making smaller roses.

 They turn out beautifully from the ramekin 

 serve with a dusting of icing sugar