#JanuaryJoy: Try making Pasta

One thing that has always been on my must-try list is making pasta and this Christmas my sister bought Pete a potato ricer so he could make gnocchi, not quite pasta but a start. And who knew how easy it was?!

It’s not easy to perfect but the recipe requires nothing more than a little time, seasoning, potatoes and flour, so couldn’t be more simple. This was our third attempt and each time they have been slightly different, but as a gnocchi fan, I’m willing to keep trying… 😉

This recipe is taken from Monica’s Kitchen by Masterchef judge Monic Galetti

Ingredients (serves 4 as a main, 6 as a starter)
500g floury potatoes
120g plain flour
2 pinches sea salt
2 tsp mild pepper flakes (we just use ground pepper to season as usual)
Knob of butter
Olive oil (for frying after if desired)

How to:

  • Rice the potatoes and add the butter to the bowl.
  • Sift int he flour then gently bring together without over working.
  • Divide the ‘dough’ into 3 and roll out into long ‘sausages’.
  • cut them into small2-3cm square pillows (you can reshape them unto balls at this stage but I like them ‘rustico’ as my friend Dan says,) and flatten with a fork to create the characteristic ridges.
  • Bring a large pan of salted boiling water to the boil and cookt he gnocchi until they float – 1-2 minutes usually. Spoon them out and drain gently (they are fragile!)

You can then fry them for a bit of extra texture in butter if you’re feeling naughty!

Have you ever made gnocchi or pasta? Will you be trying this one out? Do tweet or instagram me a pic if you do!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy: Bake some Bread

This time last year I used the same prompt for JanuaryJoy and then suggested I make it a regular monthly bread club post. Sadly, time got away from me but I am determined to make more bread, hence me including it again this year. On my bread horizon right now is sourdough.


Image credit

I love sourdough – the taste, the toast it makes, but it’s a little trickier than other breads as it needs a ‘starter’ – not necessarily something difficult to do but it requires a bit of forward planning which I am not good at. I did buy an appropriate kiln jar to hold the starter some months back (from Ikea) but have so far failed to fill it, until yesterday that is!

I used Paul Hollywoods recipe – the undisputed King of bread, however there are clearly many different options for making the starter as his first and second books both have a recipe, the first using apple and the second using grapes.

Now all I have to do is wait for it to start growing (it should take 4-7days I reckon) and then I am on it – evidence coming soon to these pages 🙂

Have you ever made Sourdough? Any tips for me?
(If you would like to contribute to the bread club, please do send in your recipes and/pr photos!)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS Last years no-rise wholemeal loaf

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.’

Some Fabulous for your Friday

I’m doing a whole lot of reasearch right now on different projects I’m planning and I’ve seen some beautiful things I wanted to share with you all. So here’s some fabulous for your friday. Fabulous finds from around the web…

Flower on wall Giclee Art Print, Silso on Etsy

Bright Pastel Ceramics from Mia Blanche (via Decor8)

Bathroom by Greg Natale (via Oh Joy)

Donna Karen pre-fall ’13

Julia Childs quote chalkboard print, via Lily and Val on Etsy

Your Friday Food: Chocolate cake glazed donut holes, via How Sweet it is

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy – Your Daily Bread


Of all the possible things you could bake, bread has to be the one that gives the greatest sense of wellbeing, hence its inclusion on this #JanuaryJoy list. Deemed by many to be tricky, or hard work, this is the easiest wholemeal bread recipe I could find and as it doesn’t require knocking back or kneading, it’s also the quickest, needing only one rise before baking. Bread does require a little planning in that sense, but if you wanted fresh bread in the morning, this could always be left overnight to rise, then baked. Personally, I think it’s best saved for a weekend lunch or brunch and is a surefire way to impress even those you usually find hardest to please. 😉

Quick, Easy, Wholemeal loaf – Delia Smith
Fills 2 x 1lb loaf tins or makes a large round loaf.
570g Wholewheat flour
2 Teaspoons of Salt
1 Teaspoon of soft light brown sugar
2 teaspoons easy blend dried yeast (usually 1 sachet)
400ml hand-hot water.

  • Warm the flour on a low temperature in your oven.
  • Thoroughly mix in the yeast, sugar and salt.
  • Make a well and add the water then mix to form a dough. You may need extra water as you should end up with a clean (or almost) clean bowl. Use more water as required.
  • Form a round and leave in a warm place for an hour to rise.

  • Press some oats into the top for decor and cut a 1-2cm deep cross in the top of the dough.
  • Bake for 40 minutes (until hollow sounding when the base is knocked,) at 200 degrees centigrade.

Enjoy!

I enjoyed making bread again so much that I might make this a monthly feature, with a different bread recipe each time… what do you think?

Do you or have you made bread? If not, will you be trying this one as an easy introduction?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Florence’s Food: Autumn Crumble

The first thing I think of when to comes to Autumn cooking is a delicious fruit crumble and I always turn to Delia for the best result. You can combine this recipe with traditional apples, rhubarb, or many other fruit combinations, just chop them and soften on a gentle heat with a little sugar to prevent the flavour being too sharp. Don’t soften too much as they will cook further in the oven and you don’t want to end up with mush!

For the crumble topping you need:
75g of chilled butter, diced.
175g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
110g Demerara or granulated golden sugar

  • Whiz all the ingredients together in a food processor until it resembles crumbs, or if you like to get your hands dirty, rub the dry ingredients into the butter cubes with your finger tips until you get the same crumb.
  • Pack the crumb mix tightly down onto your fruit layer for a crunchy finish and bake at 200 degrees Celsius for around 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve with cream, custard or ice cream. Lovely!

*Recipe adapted from Delia Smith, ‘How to Cook’ Book Two.

What’s your favourite crumble flavour?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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: 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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