Thursday, 28 August 2014

Red Velvet Macarons

Macarons as you may have guessed from one of my previous posts, is something I enjoy making quite regularly. 

Why? Well because it's challenging as you never know whether it's going to turn out okay or not until you put it into the oven. After several failed attempts, I had a go at making these Red Velvet Macarons from a recipe I found on the internet and they have always turned out pretty good I must say!

What I would say, is that you have to take your time, measure out your ingredients precisely, make them small and give them at least half an hour to rest before baking and voilà!


Red Velvet Macarons with a Cream Cheese Frosting


Ingredients 
  • 105g powdered Almonds
  • 130g Icing Sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 90g egg white
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp red food colouring


Filling
  • 85g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup Icing Sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Method
  1. Line two baking trays with parchment paper and set aside. In a separate bowl, add the sifted icing sugar,cocoa powder and powdered almonds.
  2. In a mixer, whisk the egg whites at medium speed and as the egg whites begin to foam, add the caster sugar. Slowly increase the speed until thick white glossy peaks form
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the egg whites and fold - do not stir as the air will escape from the egg whites and add the food colouring
  4. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe macarons 1 inch in diameter. Tap the tray firmly to release any air bubbles in the Macarons and set it aside to rest for half an hour.
  5. Once the macarons are dry to the touch bake them in the oven for 18 minutes at gas mark 2.
  6. Let the Macarons cool completely before filling.


Sharing what you've baked with others is something which I really enjoy especially if it's something I've put time and effort into.

 So, I thought it would be nice if me and my friend were to have a little get together and bake a few things. 
Her and her sister made the Cinnamon swirls and the cupcakes topped with mounds of fresh cream which were both super yum.




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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Pane Al Latte

Pane Al Latte which translates to 'Milk Bread' in English, is a soft slightly sweet Italian bread and pretty simple to make. This bread can be enjoyed at any time throughout the day, but I especially love it at breakfast times, paired with a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.


This week was Bread Week for the bakers in the tent and sadly another baker was sent home - Jordan. It was pretty unfortunate seeing him leave as there was something very charismatic about him and just look at that Strawberry and Raspberry Cheesecake Brioche he made. It looked divine just a little too soggy but hey ho I think I'd be able to polish it all off anyhow!

Another of the bakes which I was literally drooling over and I kid you not - I had a dream about, was Marthas Stuffed Sunflower Loaf. The close ups of that with the warm melting cheese oozing out and the petals with the alternating Fig chutney and Apricot chutney filling looked heavenly.

Now onto the recipe for this bread before I get carried away chattering about my love for cheese. Here goes

Ingredients
  • 500g plain flour
  • 1tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2tsp dried yeast
  • 200ml warm milk
  • 2 eggs + 1  beaten egg for glazing
  • 50g unsalted butter

Method
  1. Put the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl and mix well. Dissolve the yeast in the milk until dissolved. Once the liquid has cooled add the eggs and beat well
  2. Gradually pour the milk mixture, then the butter into the flour mixture, stirring  to form a soft dough. Knead the dough for 10 minutes on a floured surface until smooth and elastic
  3. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl covered loosely with cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for two hours until double in size. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knock it back
  4. Place the dough into a bread tin. Cover with cling film and leave it in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to Gas 5. Gently brush the dough with a little beaten egg and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. (Fennel seeds also make a great topping on top of this bread)


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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

After watching Tanya Burr's Milk and White Chocolate Cookie recipe on YouTube, I just HAD to give these a go. And oh boy were they worth it! 

Although she uses White Chocolate in her recipe, I didn't have any so substituted the chocolate for Terry's Chocolate Orange.
This Chocolate works really well with the cookies as it gives them a nice mellow orange flavour. Also, the sugar content I felt was too high, so I reduced the amount of sugar she used and it was the perfect sweetness for me.

Terry's Chocolate Orange Cookies
Ingredients

  • 350g Terry's Chocolate Orange
  • 200g Butter
  • 250g Caster Sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 325g self raising flour
  • dash of milk
  • capful of Vanilla essence


Method
  1. Cream the Butter and Sugar until light and fluffy
  2. Add the egg and then the self raising flour
  3. pour a dash of milk then add the chocolate and mix with your hands
  4. Make palm sized balls of cookie dough and place onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper
  5. Place into the oven for only 10 mins at gas mark 6 and there you are. Nice crispy cookies with a soft chewy centre
I shared these with my friends and they said they were the best cookies they've had and the chocolate orange worked really well... and took extra home! So, I think that's enough to say these cookies are a definite winner!



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Friday, 15 August 2014

Éclairs

Originating from France, the Éclair made from Choux pastry, can be filled with whatever you fancy. Mainly fresh cream or Crème Pâtissière ( a fancy word for custard). Also, did you know the word Éclair in French means 'flash of lightning' which I guess is pretty fitting as it's eaten in a flash.


As I had not seen my friend for quite a while, she kindly invited me over to her house for some good catch up time, and a spot of baking and we had a go at baking these Eclairs which turned out delicious. They were crispy and golden on the outside, and when filled with a softly whipped Vanilla cream, these truly are irresistible.

Freshly baked Éclairs topped with milk chocolate

Ingredients
  •       75g butter
  •         125g plain flour
  •         3 eggs
  •         500ml double cream
  •         1 tbsp icing sugar
  •         1 tsp Vanilla extract
  •         150g chocolate


Method

    1.  Preheat the oven to gas 6/ 200°C

    2.  Melt the butter in a pan with 200ml cold water and bring to the boil. Quickly add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms

     3. Lightly beat the eggs and add them into the flour and butter mixture constantly stirring until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Transfer to a piping bag.

   4 .   Pipe these éclairs onto baking parchment, cutting the end off with a wet knife. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Slit each éclair and return to the oven for 5 minutes for the insides to cook.

   5 .   Put the cream in a bowl and whip into soft peaks then add the sifted icing sugar and vanilla. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe into the middle of the éclair once it’s cooled. Finish by topping with a chocolate of your choice. 



Although it can look daunting trying to make these, they’re actually pretty simple and require simple ingredients which you’ll probably already have in your kitchen. They also don’t take too long from start to finish which makes it good for last minute plans etc. So, go on give them a go!






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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Brü

Studded in the middle of a busy high street, bustling with energy and huddles of people, is a small cute café called Brü which is situated in Leicester. The design of this shop is quirky yet retro, from the hanging lights held within Kilner jars, to the cassette tape leaflet holders - They seemed like real cassettes too.

This café specialises in Gelatos which come in a variety of some intriguing, and some familiar flavours. They also serve waffles, drinks such as teas, coffees, ice cold refreshers and savoury items such as paninis too, so a great all around place to stop over for lunch and a bit of dessert.

After around 15 minutes of entering this shop, me and my friend had finally decided what to choose to eat. She went for the 'Strawberry Delight' which was a Liege waffle with fresh Strawberries and a scoop of Strawberry Gelato.

I had heard mixed reviews about these waffles, so was intrigued about trying it and to be honest I think I prefer these! The outside is crispy and caramelised yet the inside is still soft and fluffy. The Gelato which accompanied it, had chunks of strawberries running through it which was really nice, if not a little too sweet for me but still yum.

'Strawberry Delight' £4.95

For me, I decided to try something new on the menu. An 'Affogato' - Italian for 'drowned', (how awkward would it be ordering that in English!) which is literally what my ice cream was by the espresso it came with. This usually comes with a scoop of Vanilla Gelato but as they had ran out, the barista recommended the Toffee flavour which was well balanced with the bitterness from the Espresso.

'Affogato' £3.95
Along with this, I wanted to try the Mango Gelato and also the Cinnamon Gelato. The Mango flavour was light and refreshing and my favourite from all the flavours I've tried so far. However, if you're an avid Cinnamon fan, you'll love the Cinnamon flavour which is speckled with Cinnamon, yet is still smooth on your tongue.

Mango and Cinnamon Gelato £2.95
All in all, this was a lovely café. The atmosphere was cosy and friendly. As the place was not very busy, customer service was quick yet efficient. However, in busier periods, they also offer seating upstairs which is a bonus, so I'll definitely be visiting again soon.







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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Frosted Citrus Bundt Cake and A Peach Fresh Cream Swiss Roll

 After months of waiting, Great British Bake Off is finally here! I love watching this show with a mug of coffee and a slice of cake, as the twelve contestants battle it out to be crowned the 2014 Great British Bake Off best amateur home baker.

 This week was Cake week and can we just discuss Iains hilarious attempt at scoring the Swiss Roll every few inches under the steely gaze of Paul Hollywood and the  'Oh please don't carry on doing this just look at me YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG' look on Mary Berry's face.

Another contestant I love to watch is 17 Year old Martha - she seems so cool calm and collected and I think has a pretty good chance of winning this year! Hopefully anyway.

Now on to the contestant that left - Claire. After watching GBBO Extra Slice when she made her showstopper how it was meant to turn out, I can imagine it was pretty gutting for her because her chocolate cherry cakes seemed to explode when she took them out of the oven in the tent. Hmm.. Maybe she should've renamed them 'Chocolate Cherry Volcanoes' because you know "that's how they were meant to be"

So, for the weeks that Great British Bake Off is on, I'll attempt to bake something similar to what they've been baking in the tent and post them here on the blog for you to read.

For the 'Technical Challenge', the bakers had to bake a cherry cake in a Bundt cake tin so seeing as I had mini Bundt tins (4 for £4.99 from TKMaxx) I attempted a Citrus cake which went down extremely well with my family and barely touched the plate! The sponge was moist yet light and super tasty



Lime, Lemon and Orange with a sprig of Mint


Ingredients -
  • 175g Butter
  • 175g Caster Sugar
  • 175g Supreme sponge flour
  • Rind of one Lemon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 75g Lemon and Lime Marmalade
  • An orange

Frosting- 
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 2 Tbsp melted Lemon and Lime marmalade and a little Lemon juice

Method -

  1. Preheat oven to gas 4 and beat the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy
  2. Finely grate the rind of a Lemon
  3. Brake the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Slowly incorporate the eggs into the mixture
  4. Beat in the Marmalade and Lemon zest
  5. Slowly incorporate the flour with a metal spoon into the mixture just until the flour can no longer be seen. Then add the juice of half an Orange
  6. Spoon the mixture into the desired cake tin and bake until golden brown
  7. Once removed, mix the icing sugar with the melted marmalade and you may need a few drops of Lemon juice to slightly thin the icing out but the icing should still be quite thick and opaque
  8. Drizzle once the cake has cooled and enjoy


For the 'Signature Bake', the contestants had to attempt a Swiss Roll and here's my attempt (The roll is not up to Mary Berry's standards but hey not too bad for a first attempt!) The recipe I used is here


Fresh Cream and Jam with Peach
I hope you enjoyed this post and give these a go yourself. Also, why not let me know your favourites for GBBO 2014 in the comment section below




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Thursday, 7 August 2014

Cake Pops

Is it just me or were Cake Pops unheard of a few years ago? Well if you still haven’t heard of cake pops, they’re essentially a round, bite sized piece of cake popped on the end of a lollipop stick and decorated with whatever you fancy.

 Maybe with the fast paced life of people today, it’s the convenience of just having one as a treat on the go which gained these Cake Pops a place into many café shop windows. 

Dark chocolate & Orange and Strawberry white chocolate flavoured Cake Pops



What you will need –
  • A Piping bag with cake batter
  • Cake pop mould
  • Cake pop sticks/lollipop sticks
  • Chocolate for decoration
Cake Pop mould and Sticks £1 each from Poundland

After the Cake Pops have cooled, dip each stick into chocolate and insert into the cake pop to make it secure - The chocolate acts a glue and leave to cool

An upside down colander makes an excellent stand for the Cake Pops to dry
Wrapped in Cellophane, these make a nice party snack
For the Chocolate Orange ones, I used the zest of an orange and sprinkled it onto the melted chocolate. This gives a nice subtle zesty flavour to cut through the rich dark chocolate.

For the Strawberry white chocolate ones, I put a tiny drop of red food colouring and a few drops of Strawberry essence and then sprinkled it with edible pink glitter.

These are perfect for occasions and children's birthdays/parties as the colours make them cute and appealing. Another great idea for children's parties would be to get them to decorate the Cake Pops themselves. Messy yet fun!

I hope you enjoyed this post and give them a go yourself. Let me know how they turn out!




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Sunday, 3 August 2014

July Favourties

Okay, so let me start off with my biggest favourite of the month. A waffle maker!
This waffle maker comes with a recipe booklet and the waffles came out to be fluffy and just like the ones you'd get in dessert shops but best of all at a fraction of the price 




£2.99 from B&M
£1 from B&M - Tasted more almond rather than Pistachio
Aero desserts which my friend delivered to me on her birthday - They were so yum!


 For my not so favourites of the month it has to be this chocolate from ‘Hotel Chocolat’. Seeing as I really like this shop I wanted to try new flavours which I haven’t tried before so decided to go for this 'Summer Cooler'. It wasn't particularly bad but it wasn't so good that I'd purchase it again …let’s just say it’s an acquired taste

'Refreshing apple and cucumber ganache encased in our white chocolate blended with zingy mint leaves'
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