Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Pumpkin Pie

Welcome to the pièce de résistance of my pumpkin baking, the crowning glory you might say - Pumpkin Pie! This is my third year of making this pie. The past 2 times I used ready made pastry, with varying results. I feel like I have mastered pastry now after making Key Lime Pie and Tarte Tatin successfully, and can say with confidence that I don't think you'll find me buying ready made shortcrust ever again! I don't remember exactly how I made the filling each year, probably different ways each year knowing me! But this year it had a lovely custard flavour and was very yummy. Pumpkin pie is 'Marmite' food - you either love it or you hate it!

There are several different ways to make short crust pastry (or you can buy it ready made). I chose this method because I have used it before and it's worked really well for me. I started with 350g plain flour and 170g butter.

I rubbed the butter into the flour with my hands until it formed fine crumbs, as above. This is quite a relaxing thing to do as it takes a few minutes.

I added in two eggs and used an ordinary cutlery knife to bind the mixture together. Once it started to formed a dough I got my hands in there to form it into a ball.

I kneaded this briefly for a couple of minutes on a floured surface until it looked like the above photo. Smooth and well combined. I wrapped it in cling film and chilled it in the fridge for 1 hour.

Meanwhile I made the filling by slowly heating 275ml double cream, 75g soft brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp ground ginger. You can also add 1/2 tsp cloves or allspice if you have it.

In a separate bowl I beat together 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk. I poured the heated cream mixture into the eggs, whisking as I poured bit by bit. I then added a full can of pumpkin puree (425g) and whisked till combined.

I rolled out the pastry till it was bigger than my loose bottomed pie tin (about 22cm).

I placed it in the tin, pressing around the sides. Make sure the edges hang over a little as the pastry will shrink slightly. I used a fork to pierce all over the bottom to prevent air from getting trapped.

Line the pastry with baking paper and baking beans (or dry rice if you don't have baking beans).

I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 10-15 minutes until the pastry started to brown around the edges, I then removed the baking beans and poured in the pumpkin filling.

I popped the pie back in the oven for about 35 minutes. Until the filling firms up and goes a nice rich orange colour. I roasted a few pumpkin seeds in oil and used them to decorate the centre of the pie. You can decorate any way you want.

I also made these cute little 'taster' pies with leftover mixture and pastry. These are best done in a cupcake baking tray, but there wasn't one to hand at the time so these silicone cupcake cases were a handy replacement.

And so ends my pumpkin baking fun. I've used all the pumpkin puree I bought this year, with some great results, and new discoveries about baking with pumpkin. I'm ready to move onto other Autumn baking now and maybe even start thinking about...dare I say it...Christmas baking!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Halloween Cupcakes

I love celebrating Halloween and I think it's a great time of year! This year my boyfriend held a party at his flat and I decided to make some cupcakes for the guests. I dressed up as Poison Ivy from Batman, also attending were the Donnie Darko rabbit, Bat Girl, various Zombies and some animals too! We also carved pumpkins which is messy, but very fun. I have a stencil kit and a carving kit which is what we used to get the cat and spider patterns above. My boyfriend also made toffee apples and covered his flat in cobwebs, fake spiders and 'blood' spattered sheets - it looked very creepy!

I started by sifting 1 cup plain flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ginger, into a bowl, and also added 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.

I added 60g butter cut up into cubes and rubbed it into the flour mixture until it formed fine crumbs.

In a separate bowl I mixed 1 heaped cup of pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, 1 egg, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla. You can also add 1/2 cup of dried fruit (sultanas, raisins or cranberries) if you wish. I chose not to.

I then folded the pumpkin mixture into the flour until it was just combined.

This recipe makes 12 cupcakes in a muffin tray, but will make more if you use a smaller fairy cake tray. Make sure to only fill the muffin tray half full, otherwise you will run out of mixture. I filled the tray with mixture. In a bowl I mixed 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg and sprinkled it over the top of the batter.

I baked on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes. Until lovely and golden brown.

I made cream cheese icing using 170g butter, 340g icing sugar and 4-5 tsp cream cheese. I mixed together the butter and icing sugar first, then added the cream cheese bit by bit until I got the consistency I wanted. I recently purchase a large open star nozzle from, if you would like to create the same effect here is the link for the nozzle I bought.

I piped the icing onto each cake and then added an edible Pumpkin head decoration which I bought from Top Tier cake decorating shop in Sale Moor.

I also made 12 chocolate cupcakes for those that may be unsure about pumpkin (it turns out there are people that don't like it!). I made a simple chocolate sponge by weighing 2 eggs, and matching the weight of my flour, sugar and butter. I creamed the sugar and butter together first, then added the eggs and finally folded in the flour. I then added 55g cocoa powder and about 3 tbsp evaporated milk leftover from the pumpkin cupcakes to balance out the consistency.

I also baked these on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes.

To make the chocolate icing I used 170g butter, 255g icing sugar and 85g cocoa powder. I used the same method as before, adding 4-5 tsp cream cheese until I got the consistency I wanted.

I again used my open star nozzle to pipe the chocolate icing on the cupcakes once they were fully cool.

Finally I added some 'ghost and bat' decorations that I got from Aldi a few weeks ago.

I safely transported the cupcakes to the party in this fab Cupcake Carrier from Asda that belongs to my housemate. And then they were all eaten up by a variety of ghosts and goblins! I got some great comments about the cupcakes, I am so pleased with the icing nozzle and love the professional effect it gives!

The pumpkin cupcake recipe is from The Pioneer Woman.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Pumpkin Truffles

My Autumn obsession with pumpkin baking is really helping me to explore new recipes. I've never made truffles or any kind of chocolates before, and trying new things in baking is my favourite thing after all. I made these as a gift for a friend. I have sent them off to her wrapped in foil. I hope they survive the journey!

I started by caramelising 100g sugar with a drizzle of lemon juice in a pan. Keep the heat at a low/medium level. Do not stir the sugar too much.

When it goes golden brown as above, immediately take it off the heat. There is a very fine line between the sugar being caramelised, and the sugar burning. Once off the heat, stir in 60g liquid glucose. I found a squeeze tube of liquid glucose in a baking shop, but I have since seen it in Tesco.

In a separate pan, bring 200ml double cream to the boil. Pour it into the caramelised sugar pan and put back on a low/medium heat. Add 100g pumpkin puree, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp of ginger. All some allspice too if you have it, I really need to purchase some. Bring the mixture to the boil.

In a mixing bowl, break up 200g dark (or milk if you wish) chocolate into squares.

Pour the pumpkin mixture over the chocolate. Leave the mixture for a minute or so, then stir until the chocolate is melted.

You can then pour in 40ml of brandy. I used a liquor similar to Southern Comfort. You don't have to add the alcohol if you don't want to. Put some clingfilm over the bowl and chill in the fridge until it goes solid and becomes a smooth ganache. The mixture should be similar to a cookie dough consistency. It took about 3 hours in my fridge to get like this.

Once set, roll the mixture into balls, then roll in cocoa powder, and put on a baking sheet. As you can see - this is a very messy operation!!

I also decided to sprinkle some extra cinnamon and nutmeg over the rolled balls of ganache. This is optional, but I recommend it for extra flavour.

Now the recipe I adapted this from said to melt chocolate (I used milk chocolate) and dip the balls in using a fork. I tried this. The ganache melted everywhere. If you are better at working with melted chocolate than me, then dip in using a fork. I think perhaps it would be a good idea to freeze the ganache first. I piped swirls and scribbles of melted chocolate over the ganache balls instead. I thought it looked quite effective.

I then melted orange chocolate buttons (again found in Tesco, the brand is Silver Spoon) and piped little orange swirls on top.

Finally I sprinkled over some citrus strands (like orange and yellow hundred and thousands) which I got from Tesco and are made by Dr Oetker.

These truffles are very decadent and richly flavoured. The strongest flavour was probably the alcohol! The pumpkin and spices weren't a strong flavour unfortunately, less alcohol next time I think. But they were very delicious, chocolatey and melt in the mouth. I hope my friend enjoys them and they arrive safely.

Definitely going to give truffle making a go again for Christmas presents!

This recipe is slightly adapted from An American Cupcake In London.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Things To Do With... Egg Yolks

Whenever I have egg yolks left after making something, I feel bad about just throwing them away and wasting ingredients, so I've searched for recipes using only egg yolks, and also made some too. I'm sure many bakers have been in this situation before, so hopefully this selection of recipes will prove useful!

Pumpkin Pie - Uses 1 Egg Yolk
My absolute favourite thing to make every October, I've been making this now every year for about 5 years and it is so delicious!

Charlotte Royale - Uses 4 Egg Yolks
I made this in a 'Zombie Brain' style for Halloween, but you can also do a traditional version. It's sliced Swiss Roll made into a dome with a custard centre.

Chocolate Pecan Brownies - Uses 5 Egg Yolks
Deliciously gooey chocolate brownies! You can double the recipe if you have more egg yolks to use and you could use walnuts or omit the nuts entirely if you prefer.

Pumpkin Custard Donuts - Uses 6 Egg Yolks
These tasty deep fried treats are indulgent and I broke quite a few diets when I took them into work!

Custard Tarts - Uses 7 Egg Yolks
I made these using a Paul Hollywood recipe and they were extremely popular in my office!

Other ideas from around the web:

The simple one:
Homemade Mayonnaise - Uses 2 Egg Yolks
I have followed this recipe and made some mayonnaise with leftover egg yolks. I also added 1/2 tsp garlic puree and 1/2 tsp dijon mustard to the mixture. It was really yummy!

The difficult one:
Raviolo with Egg and Smoked Salmon - Uses 4 Egg Yolks
I saw this recipe on Simply Italian and have been thinking of making it for a while, it looks so fabulous and delicious, but very tricky to get right!

The savoury one:
Fettuccine carbonara - Uses 2 Egg Yolks
Warm and creamy pasta carbonara is perfect for tucking into on a chilly autumn night. Serve with garlic bread.

The indulgent one:
Chocolate Caramel Tart with Macadamia Nuts - Uses 1 Egg Yolk
This looks AMAZING!! Sweet chocolate, crunchy macadamia nuts and gooey caramel, mmmmm...

The alcoholic one:
Cherry Flip - Uses 1 Egg Yolk
I love a good cocktail and this yummy decadent one sounds very rich and tasty, plus rather strong, not a bad thing!

The traditional one:
Creme Brulee - Uses 3 Egg Yolks
A classic dish, and simpler to make than you think.

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