#JanuaryJoy: Sugar and Spice… Gingerbread

It’s perhaps a little festive and in truth I prepared this post before Christmas, but this is a recipe that’s worth sharing and one I’ll undoubtably make again in January so I thought I’d share it. Until I tried this recipe I had never made gingerbread which is odd because 1. I really like it, (just an excuse for thick icing on top!) and 2. I’m also a fan of homemade biscuits. In fact, biscuits are one of my favourite things… apart from cake maybe. 😉

I used this BBC Good Food Gingerbread recipe and some cutters I’ve bought over the years at John Lewis with quite pretty details on them… I particularly love the houses. As with most recipes I feel are worthy of sharing here, this one was super easy. The dough came together quickly and although I think I over-did them slightly as I like gingerbread on the chewy side, they were really delicious. Particularly with that extra thick icing. 😉

I made them one afternoon before Christmas and spent a perfect maternity leave afternoon decorating them with a friend. Let me know if you give the recipe a go and tweet me a picture!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Raspberry, Lemon and Yogurt tea loaf

It was my mum’s birthday at the beginning of October and as she’s not a big fan of chocolate cake or anything with cream or buttercream, Francesca decided to try this Yeo Valley Cookbook recipe for lemon and raspberry cake. I’ve made cakes with dairy ingredients in them before and they never fail to produce a moist cake. This one is kept fresh and light with the fresh raspberries and the addition of a sharp lemon drizzle.

Ingredients:
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
115g soft butter
225g caster sugar
finely grated zest and juice of one large lemon
2 large free range eggs
100g wholemilk natural yogurt
25g ground almonds
200g fresh raspberries
100g granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

How-to:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line your tin with baking paper.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Cream together the butter and caster sugar then add the lemon zest. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of flour with the second egg. Fold in alternate spoonfuls of the flour and yogurt, then finally fold in the almonds.
  • To distribute the raspberries evenly add a layer of cake mix to your tin, and scatter 1/3 of the raspberries on top. Repeat with 2 further layers finishing with a layer of raspberries on top.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown on top then a further 20-25 minutes with foil covering the top.
  • Allow the cake to cool out of the oven for 5 minutes, then mix the granulated sugar with the lemon juice and spoon over the cake. Cool on a wire rack and remove the paper to serve.

The Great British Farmhouse Cookbook (Yeo Valley) is a fabulous recipe book with loads of dishes perfect for autumnal and winter gatherings, so I’ll no doubt be sharing a few more here  in the coming weeks…

Enjoy readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Peach Upside Down cake

I’m currently obsessed with peaches and was planning on making a peach dessert of sorts when I found myself in need of a quick cake to take to a friend’s house. It turned out so well that I thought those of you who perhaps don’t bake because you don’t have time or find it difficult, might try this peach upside down cake at home.

I used a simple sponge recipe that I also use to make Victoria Sandwich cakes:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 oz butter
  • 6oz of self raising flour
  • 6oz of caster sugar

Beat the butter and sugar together, then mix in the beaten eggs and the flour and you’re done.

For the peach top, I browned the peaches in some butter and sugar to give them some colour, otherwise the cake top can look a little anaemic.

Arrange the peaches in a pretty pattern on the bottom of your greased cake tin and pour the cake mix on top then bake for 40-50 minutes at 180 degrees, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Turn the tin upside down and remove the cake so the peaches are now on top. I used a sprung tin with a removable base, which comes in handy when gently peeling the cake off the peaches. Sprinkle with some granulated sugar whilst warm and serve warm with cream or ice cream, or cold with tea and gossip 🙂

Of course, you can do it with any fruit – when I was a child I used tinned pineapples, or you could use apples in autumn or other berries for a more pudding-y dessert. Right now, peaches are so delicious though, I think they’re perfect for this.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Monday Must Have: Cronuts

If you’re an avid internet browser like me you might have already heard about these little rings of deliciousness. As you already know, I’m on a diet and when you’re on a diet it only takes so long before you start obsessing over food you shouldn’t eat. (Some might say that’s why diets don’t work, but that’s a whole other post.) This time around for me it has been doughnuts. I love all the simple ones, jam filled sugar crusted ones or icing glazed rings, no Krispy Kreme custard filled nonsense for me, but these cronuts look delicious.


Image via DominiqueAnsel.com of the original Cronut

Apparently they are very new news. Invented at the beginning of May by Dominique Ansel at his eponymous New York bakery, once word got out there were queues lining the street within days. I can see a ‘Magnolia Bakery starts the Cupcake trend’ scenario happening all over again here. The Cronut is essentially a ring doughnut made from croissant dough then with the associated icing, sugar and a creme patisserie filling. If you’re not of the sweet toothed brigade like me that might sound a bit much. For me, it sounds pretty much like heaven. Unbelievably they only make 200 a day and the Cronuts are selling at $50 on Craigslist as a result!


Image via DominiqueAnsel.com of the original Cronut

Now, I have never made croissant dough (some things life is too short for,) and nor do I have a deep fat fryer (why would you do that to yourself?!) but for these I am seriously considering both. What I’m wondering is can I modify them to make at home?


Image via The Boy Who Bakes

Now Edd Kimber (of GBBO fame) has a quick 20 minute Croissant dough – Real croissant Dough normally takes 24h + to make but this is a modified version in a rough pastry style, which he then used to make a modified version of Cronuts. I wonder if you could make them with pre-made Croissant Dough? And I wonder if you can bake them? Well, the answer is I’m just gonna have to try and I’ll get back to you. Just not this week before my diet midpoint goal!


Image via The Boy Who Bakes

If you’re thinking of recreating them, then watch this video of the originals being made for a little more insight and if not, just feel smug today that you know what the latest trend is sweeping the baking industry. (At least you’ll be able to sleep at night.) 😉

World, meet Cronut video:

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS. Think it’s all a lot of fuss for a doughnut? You’ll love this article ‘Sweet baby Jesus, Don’t let the Cronut become the new Cupcake.’

#JanuaryJoy – Make something Naughty [to Eat]

Today is your reward for all the amazing things you have done this January! Tomorrow we’ll be reflecting on that, but first of all today, I have a challenge for you to test your baking skills and make you feel like an accomplished domestic goddess in the kitchen. Every January I bake a cake of Pete’s choice from any of our recipe books for his birthday, so it’s kind of a tradition to attempt something new and impressive… I’m so glad he didn’t see this before making this year’s choice 😉

Thank you so much to Asma from Sugared Saffron for sending in this stunning creation – I think it would be a seriously impressive gift or centrepiece on a dessert table or for afternoon tea. Do let her know in the comments box if you have any questions!

Tips:

  • Add a teaspoon of cinnamon and all spice for an extra wintery flavour
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the caramel for a Salted Caramel layer
  • To save time, bake the cake the day before. The pear means it’s extra moist so just make sure you’ve wrapped it in cling film and leave it at room temperature.

Ingredients for the Pear and Vanilla bean cake: 
170g Unsalted butter (room temp)
170g Caster sugar
1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract or the seeds of half a vanilla bean
3 Large eggs
170g Self raising flour
6 firm pears, peeled, cored and chopped into cubes.
1/2 a firm pear.

For the caramel layer:
100g caster sugar
Water
100ml double cream
1 tablespoon of butter

Finishing touches:
75ml Chantilly cream. That’s just whipped cream, flavoured with vanilla and sweetened with a teaspoon of icing sugar.
Spun sugar

Cake Method

  • Prepare a 7″ baking tin by greasing and lining with baking paper. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C
  • Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
  • Add the eggs to the creamed mixture one at a time, make sure they are completely combined before adding the next. If the mixture is curdling, add a tablespoon of the measured flour to it.
  • Mix in the flour.
  • Fold in the chopped pears until they are evenly distributed in the mixture.
  • Spoon the cake mixture into the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes. This part depends very much on your oven so check after 30 minutes but pressing the cake and testing with a toothpick. If it comes out clean and the cake springs back after being pressed, then it’s done.
 
Caramel sauce

  • In a heavy pan (not non-stick) place the sugar and pour over enough water to just cover the sugar. Heat on a medium-high heat and wait until the mixture dissolves and becomes amber at the edges.
  • Swirl the pan and keep on the heat until the amber colour is uniform, this will only take a few seconds so be quick.
  • Take the pan off the heat and add the cream, mix until it’s combined nicely.
  • Return the pan to the heat for a couple more minutes until the caramel thickens and changes colour.
  • Remove from the heat and add the butter. Let it cool down for a minute and pour over the top of the cake.
  • Whilst the caramel is setting, take your half pear and place in a hot non-stick frying pan to caramelise at the edges and surface.
  • Once the caramel is set and the pear is cooled, dollop on some of the Chantilly cream.
  • Add the spun sugar and pear at the very last minute before serving.


Recipe and Photography courtesy of Asma Hassan, (Baking Ninja) Sugared Saffron

Florence’s Food: Champion Bakewell tart

After yesterdays post on appreciating all that Autumn has to offer, it felt only right to post this autumnal dessert – the good old fashioned bakewell tart. I’ve been meaning to make a bakewell tart (amongst my favourites for it’s moist baked almondy interior and the layer of sweet tangy jam,) for a long while now and this one didn’t disappoint – Taken from the Delicious Baking book I shared with the scones recipe a few weeks back, it was perfect for a rainy afternoon baking.

Ingredients
Sweet shortcrust pastry
150g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
150g ground almonds
Finely grated zest of a lemon
110g strawberry jam
2tbsp flaked almonds

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius and roll out your pastry to 5mm thick before lining a 24cm fluted loose bottomed tart tin. Line the pastry case with baking paper, weigh down with baking beans or rice and blind bake for 15 minutes.
  • With a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, add the eggs slowly as you beat and then fold in the ground almonds and zest.


  • When the case is baked, allow to cool. Once cool, spread the jam over the pastry base thinly and top with the filling. Finish with a scattering of flaked almonds.
  • Cook for 35-40 minutes, until golden, risen and just set in the centre. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin and transferring to a wire rack.

Serve with clotted cream or ice cream and enjoy 🙂

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS Recipe from Delicious Baking – £5.99 in your local W H Smiths or Tescos, or order online by clicking the link.

Friday Food: Cranberry and Pistachio Scones

If I’m honest, it has been years since I have made scones. Despite the fact that I have made them successfully in the past, I have been a little afraid of attempting them and having a failure in the kitchen. When I stumbled across this recipe I was not only scared of the scones but a little bit wary of messing with a good formula with the additions of cranberry and pistachios. I can however report back that not only are these easy to make, but they taste fabulous – never be afraid to try something new!

Ingredients:
300g plain flour, sifted
75g caster sugar
1tbsp baking pwder
1/2 tsp salt
120g chilled unsalted butter, cubed
165ml milk
75g dried cranberries
75g pistachios

  • Preheat the oven to 20 degrees C and prepare a baking tray with some baking paper.
  • Mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl and add the butter.
  • ‘Rub’ the cubes of butter and the dry ingredients between your finger tips. Slowly work through the whole mixture, making sure not to leave any lumps of butter. Eventually it will resemble fine breadcrumbs
  • Add the fruit and nuts plus your milk and mix to combine – do not over mix, just bring the ingredients together.

  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface (you’ll need plenty on the surface and your hands,) pat down to 3cm thick and make a round-ish shape.
  • With a floured knife cut the round up like pizza into 8 triangles.
  • Brush the tops with milk (and I think a little granulated sugar would be nice here,) and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.

Eat while they are hot, with butter on a rainy afternoon 🙂

Decadent as I am, it’s been a long time since I ate a scone as anything more than a vessel for the cream and jam I piled on it. These were beautiful and reminded me just how delicious scones are. Try them for yourself this weekend.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS Recipe from Delicious Baking – £5.99 in your local W H Smiths or Tescos, or order online by clicking the link. If you’d like a traditional scone recipe – this one is Florence’s – my Nanny. 🙂

Friday Food: DIY Ombre cake

So, since leaving the world of wedding blogging, I don’t have much occasion to delve into the wealth of pretty found on wedding blogs. I do however love my Pinterest account and find so much inspiration there. When there isn’t a wedding to plan I’m often found busy figuring out how to work something I’ve found there into my life instead.


Birthday sprinkles cake // Pink ombre cake with flags // Purple Ombre cake // Pink Ombre slice

Today’s Friday Food is an ombre cake, something I fell in love with and found via wedding pins but think works just as well as a celebration cake. I made this one to take to my work the day after my birthday to celebrate with them and thought I’d share some tips. There are a wealth of how to’s on various sites (See the list at the end of ones I read,) but really all you need is a dense-ish victoria sponge recipe and frosting. This is my own go-to Victoria sponge recipe (one of Florence’s actually!) if you need one.

For the sponge cake:8oz Self raising Flour
8oz Caster sugar
8oz butter (I usually use somewhere between this amount and half, depending how virtuous I’m feeling, it works just as well)
4 eggs
a splash of milk
and your chosen food colouring!

Buttercream Frosting:1/3 of a pack of unsalted butter
250-300g of icing sugar, according to taste.
a splash of milk

Method:There are 2 ways to mix a sponge, the easy way and the traditional way. If you have a food mixer there is nothing wrong with throwing everything into a bowl and whizzing it up. I’ve done this on many an occassion and it’s worked perfectly, save for the odd air bubble!.
If you want to do it properly, here’s how…
Add the butter and sugar together in a food mixer and ‘cream them’ until the sugar/butter mix is light pale and fluffy.
Next add in your (beaten) eggs and incorporate.
Lastly sift the flour in and mix together gently with your food mixer on a slow speed. Add a splash of milk to loosen the mixture if it’s too stiff, it should pour, but very slowly!
Now divide the mix into 4 equal portions. Keep one aside for the palest layer then add food colouring to the remaining three, to create a slightly more intense colour in each. I wanted mine pale so went easy on the colouring, but the strength of colour is up to you. Just go slowly, a little food colouring goes a long way!
Place each colour mixture into a separate 20cm cake tin and bake at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden on top. To test if they are ready, insert a skewer and ensure it comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

While your cakes are cooling, mix your frosting. Start with the butter in cubes, at room temperature and mix it (in your food mixer again) to become smooth. Add the icing sugar bit by bt and try not to make an icing cloud int he kitchen – you may want to add it by hand to avoid this then use the food mixer later on to whizz it up into a lighter frosting. Add a splash of milk to loosen it as required.

Assembly:Sandwich each layer together with a dollop of frosting, spread out to a couple of millimetres thickness. If your cakes are particularly ‘dome shaped’ on top you might want to slice them off to make them flatter and stack better.
Next use your remaining frosting to ice the sides of the cake using a palete knife to press it into the cake as you spread in one motion. Pay particular attention to filling in the gaps between each layer at the edges.
Finsh with the top! Don’t worry about having enough frosting, there is plenty here, but if you are concerned just apply a thinner layer and continue to build up evenly.
Decorate your cake as you see fit, I used simple sprinkles for a party finish!

Next step? Enjoy!

Feel free to shoot me any questions you have in the comments box, I’ll help if I can!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Friday Food: Florence’s Scones

This week it’s a very special Friday Food in honour of the Florence Finds Afternoon tea tomorrow! When I started Florence Finds, the food section was intended to share recipes that came with a seal of approval and perhaps even those family favourites that came from your grandmother’s recipe book. This week I have exactly such a recipe from the original Findette, Florence herself! (If you’re wondering what I’m jabbering on about and who the heck is Florence, then you can read about her here.)

Image from BBC Good Food


If there’s one recipe that ought to be a hand-me-down, it’s a scone recipe and what could be more appropriate before the Afternoon Tea meet up tomorrow? Today I’m sharing Florence’s original scone recipe, even with her original writing on it 🙂

Method

  • Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and then add the butter in cubes.
  • Using your fingers rub the mixture into the butter with your finger tips (with your palms up, rub your thumbs over the tips of your fingers.)
  • You should end up with a bowl full of dry fine crumbs. At this point make a well and add your beaten egg and stir gently to bring the mixture together.
  • Add a little milk to help but keep the whole thing as dry as possible without it falling apart.
  • Once brought together, turn the ball of dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to about half an inch thick, or slightly thicker.
  • Flour your cutter and cut out as many scones as you can. Brush each with a bit of beaten egg or milk and I like to sprinkle mine with sugar too. Then pop into the oven and cook until golden brown on top.

I used to make these with her as a little one, although I don’t remember and my Mum (not the world’s best baker) can even get them to turn out beatifully, so I hope you’ll give them a go this weekend. Print out the recipe, stick it into your recipe books and enjoy it! The secret to making them rise is that you need to flour the cutter before pressing out each one and then the edges don’t stick together preventing them from rising.

It seems a good time to once again ask if you have a any family heirloom recipes to share, perhaps a fruit bread, shortbread, cottage pie or lasagna… just shoot them over to me on hello@florencefinds.com.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Friday Food: Ruth’s Real Jaffas

When Ruth got in touch with me recently offering a recipe for Florence’s Friday food I immediately looked through her suggestions and was totally over excited about this home-made jaffa cake recipe.

Home made I hear you say? Is that not a bit of a faff? Well, I’m a big fan of the humble jaffa and in general anything made from scratch is better than the shop bought version. However it might have just been the fabulous imagery of the orange jelly and thick chocolate that swung it… either way, Thanks Ruth!

Hello fellow Florence readers, Ruth here from Crafty Little Maker! Following Rebecca’s deliciously chocolaty cake recipe last week I’ve decided to continue with a recipe for another *slightly* unhealthy weekend treat. I found the recipe for homemade Jaffa Cakes by Simon Rimmer on the BBC Food website and they are much more satisfying than just picking up a packet from the shop.

Ingredients
Makes 12

135g packet orange jelly
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
125ml boiling water
2 eggs
50g caster sugar
50g plain flour
Butter for greasing
200g dark chocolate

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease the cake tray with the butter.
2. Chop the jelly into small pieces then mix with the marmalade and boiling water until the jelly has dissolved.
3. Pour the mixture into a large dish to form a 1cm layer of jelly then transfer to the fridge to set.
4. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy then sift the flour into the mixture and combine.

5. Divide the mixture between the 12 wells in the cake tin and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until cooked through. Once cooked leave in the tray to cool.
6. Once the jelly has set cut 12 small discs and place one on top of each cooled cake.
7. Bring a pan of water to boil. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and allow to melt in a heatproof bowl over the water.
8. With the cakes still in the tray, pour over the melted chocolate and allow to set before eating.

These didn’t last long in my house so they must have been good… have fun making them!

Ruth x
(Crafty Little Maker)

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