Thursday, 30 August 2012

Trifle Cupcakes

It's the year of the jubilee and the year of celebrating everything British! Trifle is a long established classic British dessert that has been made in England since 1596. It started out life a flavoured cream, but has since gone on to develop further layers of sponge, fruit and custard. There are so many variations of trifle, different fruit can be added, as well as alcohol if desired. I think trifle is brilliant! My stepmum does a trifle at Christmas (last year I had 3 helpings), but I'd quite happily eat it any time of the year. This absolutely adorable idea and modern twist on trifle consumption is the brain child of CakeyBoi, a fellow blogger. Of course, being a big trifle and cupcake lover, I had to try it for myself!

I started with a basic sponge recipe for 12 cupcakes. I creamed 150g butter and 150g caster sugar together first, then added 3 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tbsp milk, and finally sifted in 150g self raising flour.

I used my new muffin tray to bake these to make sure the cupcakes were nice and big to fit the trifle filling inside. I wouldn't recommend fairy cakes for this recipe. You need nice big muffins or large cupcakes.

Pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes on 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7, but keep an eye on them. You know they're done when they turn golden brown and you insert a metal skewer (or sharp knife) into the centre of the cake and it comes out clean.

Mine kind of exploded... it's my muffin tray's first outing and I overestimated the amount of mixture I needed to use. Thankfully the middle of the cake was getting scooped out so it wasn't an issue!

I used a small knife to cut a circle in the top of the cake, then scooped out the sponge with a small spoon. Leave enough cake at the bottom and sides so that the cupcake retains it's structure and won't collapse.

Put a raspberry in each cupcake and squish it down.

Here's some jelly I made earlier! Red strawberry jelly in a red bowl. Jelly takes a few hours (min 4) to set, so make this the day before. You can use strawberry or raspberry jelly. I put some jelly on top of the raspberry.

Then add custard. I used ready made custard from a carton. You can make your own if you're feeling energetic, but it does need to be quite thick. Finally, whip up some cream! I used a food processor for this as it saves time and hurts your arm a lot less. Put the cream on top and cover the cupcake, this is the 'icing'. Sprinkle with grated chocolate curls like I did, or a bashed up Flake.

And there you have it - trifle cupcakes! A dessert within a dessert.

Many thanks to CakeyBoi for this fabulous recipe. My housemates and colleagues are very pleased with this, as is my tummy :) I am even thinking of doing a giant version at Christmas.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Raspberry & White Chocolate Blondies

This recipe was recommended to me by Slice of Barnes and is from BBC Good Food. It's a delicious and simple recipe that's easy to put together on a Sunday afternoon - which is exactly what I did.

You start by lining a square tin with baking paper. I've never made brownies or blondies before so I didn't have a square tin, I went to Asda and purchased a roasting tin for 98p which worked just fine!

Melt 200g butter in a pan on a low heat. I love doing this! Look how golden and shimmery the butter goes...

Once it's all melted, set aside to cool and add 75g of white chocolate, this will melt into the butter and you can stir it in when it's all melted.

Whisk together 3 eggs with 300g light brown sugar. The recipe says to use muscovado sugar, but light brown sugar is extremely similar and works just as well.

Once it looks like this, pour in the melted butter and white chocolate mixture.

Then add 200g plain flour...

And mix well. Pour the mixture into the tin.

Chop up another 75g of white chocolate (or more if you like!)

And sprinkle on top, along with a punnet of raspberries. I would suggest adding more raspberries, as they tasted really good in the blondies.

Bake on 180C/Fan 160C/Gas Mark 4 for 40-45 minutes or until risen all over and golden on top. And my final tip: don't get distracted watching a Sunday evening movie (It was E.T. incase you're interested) and forget about your blondies, otherwise you get some overly caramelised edges...

These blondies were delicious and a big hit with my housemates despite the crispy edges! The tangyness of the raspberries along with the sweetness of the chocolate and the sponge was a tasty contrast. Give these a go, they are so simple, quick and easy to make!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Five Things To Do With... Semolina

I recently made some foccacia bread and the recipe called for semolina. So I bought a big box of it. Now I have semolina in my cupboard and no clue what else to do with it!

As you can see from the picture above it is commonly used as a type of pudding (similar to rice pudding). If you add milk to semolina and heat it up you get the pudding well known from school dinner days of the past. Semolina is actually a type of flour. It's not used often in British cuisine, but is very popular in India and other parts of Asia for various desserts. The Italians use semolina when making gnocchi and pasta. In general it can be used a a substitute for part of the flour in most recipes for cakes and biscuits to change the texture of the final product. Which is what I used it for in my foccacia recipe. It gives the bread a more chewy texture.

So I had a look around the web for some recipe ideas and here are my five favourites...

The difficult one:
Baked Apples in Semolina Souffle
Souffle is a notoriously difficult recipe to get right. But the results from this look worth the effort! Bound to impress at a dinner party or family get together.

The savoury one:
Baked Semolina Gnocchi
This looks so yummy and could be very versatile. Add a different type of cheese, different vegetables, or chilli for a spicy kick!

The simple one:
Almond & Orange Cake
A basic sponge recipe with nutty and zesty flavours. This should go down a treat with everyone!

The Indian traditional one:
Nan Khatai
A popular biscuit in India, served with Indian tea. The recipe is very simple and the biscuits last for a few weeks.

The indulgent one:
Isa's Bounty Cake
Very decadent, creamy and tropical (rum and coconut counts as tropical!) this has to be my favourite of the five and the one I will most likely make first. Also it's made without eggs, so great for anyone with an egg intolerance. For a step by step guide on how to make this, check out my Bounty Cake post where I made this recipe.

Let me know if you make any of these and how they turn out!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Bagels Bagels Bagels: GBBO Week #2

Episode 2 of The Great British Bake Off was all about bread! Most bakers are more familiar with cakes (myself included), so bread week always sorts the best from the rest. The contestants made flatbreads, an 8 plaited loaf, and bagels. I was particularly impressed with Brendan’s attempt (picture below) - seriously they look perfect! Although Paul Hollywood was not too keen on the bagels ‘twists’ Brendan made, I thought they were really creative and he is becoming a strong player in the series. He definitely stuck in my mind especially when he cooked his flatbreads over hot rocks, I love a baker that takes risks and just goes for it!

I didn’t even know it was possible to plait with 8 strands, but apparently it is! Well, for some of us… The technical challenge was a plaited loaf (picture below) and hilarity ensued as the bakers attempted to get the plait right. It looked like an absolute nightmare if you ask me, and once baked you can’t really differentiate between the 8 strands so I’m a little unsure on the need for 8 strands. Or maybe that’s my lack of bread knowledge showing through?

As I have decided to make something each week that is made on the show, this week I picked bagels. I decided to copy the bakers and do one sweet flavour and one savoury flavour. I got creative and decided to invent a savoury flavour that I don’t think has ever been tried before (well, according to Google) - ‘hummus’ bagels. This idea came from me having a can of chickpeas in the cupboard for a few months now and also I was thinking about how nice a toasted bagel would be dipped in hummus. So I though… why not put the hummus in the bagel dough?! Crazy, no? I did a little research and found some breads that are made with chickpea flour, but none with chickpeas actually in the bread. This only encouraged me to try it out!

For my sweet flavour I went for lemon and blueberry as it is a classic mix and a favourite of mine that I often make cupcakes with.

I started with 600g strong white bread flour, added 2 tsp salt, 2 tsp sugar, a sachet of easy dried yeast, 1 tbsp of sunflower oil, and finally 300ml warm water.

Mix it all together and you get a big lump of dough. I kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes; it looked quite lumpy at first, but eventually softened up.

I split the dough in half, popped it into an oiled bowl, covered with cling film, and wondered off to do some other things (like make homemade hummus) for an hour or so. 

Making the homemade hummus was pretty simple. I mashed up the chick peas.

I added 1 heaped tsp garlic, the juice of half a lemon, some salt, pepper and paprika to taste. You can make the hummus however you want as it really is just a taste issue. You could add other herbs, or some chilli.

Once risen, the dough was all puffy and rather bloated. I pushed it back to its original size, cut it into 4 pieces, and began shaping it into rings. Now I didn’t take many photos at this stage because shaping it into rings, whilst simultaneously adding the flavours was extremely difficult!! So I was rather distracted. My first mistake was definitely that I didn’t add the flavour earlier on. I mixed lemon zest into the dough, and tried to do the same with blueberries, but as the blueberries squished and popped it made for a very soggy bagel. I changed my method to shaping the dough first, then pushing the blueberries into it. Suffice to say, this was not without difficulty and frustration, but I was determined. I would advise using dried blueberries if you try this.

Mixing the hummus into the dough was a lot easier. But I still had problems getting the dough to form a ring. I used the sausage method where you roll the dough into a sausage then wrap it round your hand and attach the ends. Those ends just did not want to join together!

Finally I had 4 shaped bagels. Some looked prettier than others…

And my hands smelt really strongly of garlic. Thankfully I had some lemons to rub over them! I put the dough rings on a baking tray lined with greaseproof baking paper, covered with cling film and a tea towel, and left them for an hour, whilst I cleaned up my mess. I also mixed more lemon juice together with sugar as a glaze for the lemon and blueberry bagels once they were baked.

I came back to some rather larger dough rings.

Each one got boiled for one minute on either side, and then placed back on the baking tray. Boiling was painful for me as I burnt my stomach (through my t-shirt, just to note, I wasn’t cooking in the nude). Baking is not without risk! I need to get myself an apron, anyway... I egg washed all the bagels before baking at 200° (220° if you don’t have a fan oven, or Gas 7 if you don’t have an electric oven). 

The recipe said 20-25 minutes but my bagels were done before this time. I’d say 15-20 minutes. But keep an eye on them. My sweet bagels were a tad over cooked. These two lemon and blueberry bagels snuggled up a bit too close in the oven. I drizzled the lemon and sugar glaze over them while they were hot. The hummus bagels came out a lovely golden brown colour.

And here are the final results (with a little impromptu food styling by my housemate)!

Please comment below and let me know what you think!

We dug in while they were warm, and the hummus bagels were delicious with butter, they tasted similar to garlic bread and had a perfect chewy texture. It was a bit late at night to appreciate the lemon and blueberry but I had one with jam in the morning!