Sunday, 31 January 2016

Treat Petite January - Round Up

I hope you all had a great January and that, if you made any, your resolutions are going well. I haven't made any that I've set in stone, but I definitely want to move more this year. As in, get off my butt and do some exercise! I also want to do better with meal planning so I don't have to reach for treats or processed foods as last minute options. Some of the tasty fruit and veg filled treats below will certainly help with this! Look out for February's challenge on United Cakedom who is guest hosting!

Flower Sprout & Brie Mini Filo Pies by Belleau Kitchen. Filo pastry is satisfyingly crispy and the filling sounds yummy!

Date, Apple & Almond Energy Balls by Only Crumbs Remain. A tasty on the go snack full of goodness!

Twelfth Night Lemon Cardamom Marzipan Cakes by Tin & Thyme. I love the gorgeous mix of flavours, definitely something to try out!

Eggless Dates & Walnut Cupcakes by Herbs, Spices & Tradition. A great recipe for those who have an egg free diet, and if you replace the honey with maple syrup these would be vegan too!

Chocolate Avocado Brownies by me. Avocados are so nutrious and they replace butter and/or oil in this recipe which leads to a much healthier, but still incredibly tasty, brownie!

Party Pizza Pinwheels by Caroline Makes. Pizza in bitesize and party perfect form!

Courgette, Basil, Polenta & Cheese Wedges by The More Than Occassional Baker. This would make such a delicious weeknight dinner!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Cranberry & Apricot Cinnamon Rolls

I realised when clearing out my cupboards for the food bank before Christmas that the packet of fast action yeast I owned was very out of date. It had been a lot longer than I realised since I last made any bread! It's quite a time consuming thing to make, and unfortunately I don't often have the time for it. So I decided to make time this weekend and I made myself get up early to get started on the dough. I was happy I did as when these cinnamon rolls were baked I had a big smile on my face and eating one felt all the more satisfying!

I started by warming 125ml water, 125ml milk and 100g butter in a pan until the butter melted. I removed it from the heat and added one packet of fast action yeast and 1 tbsp sugar and covered it with a pan lid. I left it for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl I measured out 550g strong bread flour, 40g sugar and 1 tsp salt and stirred them together.

I poured the butter and milk mixture into the flour, followed by 2 beaten eggs. I mixed it all together to form a dough.

I kneaded the dough for 10 minutes on a floured surface, then put it in an oiled bowl, covered it with cling film and left it to prove for 2 hours.

After 2 hours it had doubled in size.

I knocked the air back out of the dough and rolled it out into a rectangle approximately 40cm long by 30cm wide.

I melted 25g butter and brushed it all over the dough.

I got sent some dried fruit from Whitworths recently and I thought cranberry and apricot would go perfectly together in the rolls. They come in convenient resealable packs too which made storing the leftovers so much easier for me.

In a bowl I mixed together 100g of the dried apricot, 100g of the cranberries, 75g light brown sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon and the zest of 1 orange.

I spread the fruit and sugar mixture out evenly over the dough, leaving about a 1cm strip empty at one end.

I rolled the dough up like a swiss roll, and then sliced it into 1cm wide pieces. I got 13 pieces from the dough. I arranged them in lined baking trays (not very neatly!) and covered them with cling film. I left them in a warm place for their second prove for 1 hour.

I baked the buns on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes. I forgot to take a photo when they came out of the oven, but as soon as they were cool enough I pulled one apart and I was thrilled to see beautifully baked soft dough. This was a really great moment as I had put so much time into making the rolls!

I made icing using 200g icing sugar and about 2/3 juice of the orange I zested earlier for the filling. I wanted to drizzle the icing, but for it not to be too runny, so I added a little bit of the orange juice at a time. I then drizzled it over the buns using a piping bag.

Eating these buns felt so good! When I sat down to eat one and all the waiting was over it felt so satisfying to dig in! The dough was lovely and soft, and the fruity filling gave them real flavour and character. I definitely won't leave it so long again before I make more bread!

I'm entering this into Tea Time Treats hosted by Lavender & Lovage and Hedgecombers, as this recipe would be a tasty treat to have with a hot drink.

I'm also entering it into the Food Year Link Up hosted by Charlotte's Lively Kitchen. This recipe would be great for breakfast week as these rolls would certainly make a special breakfast!

print recipe

Cranberry & Apricot Cinnamon Rolls
  • 125ml Water
  • 125ml Milk
  • 100g Butter
  • 1 pack Fast action yeast
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 550g Strong bread flour
  • 40g Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 25g Butter, melted
  • 100g Dried cranberries
  • 100g Dried apricot, chopped
  • 1 Orange
  • 75g Light brown sigar
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 200g Icing sugar
Warm the water, milk and butter in a pan on a low heat until the butter meltsRemove it from the heat and add the fast action yeast and tbsp of sugar, cover it with a pan lid and leave for 10 minutesIn a large bowl stir the strong bread flour, remaining sugar and salt together. Pour the butter and milk mixture into the flour, followed by the eggs. Mix together to form a doughKnead the dough for 10 minutes on a floured surface, then put it in an oiled bowl covered with cling film and leave it to prove in a warm place for 2 hoursKnock the air back out of the dough and roll it out into a rectangle approximately 40cm long by 30cm wideBrush the melted butter all over the doughIn a bowl mix together the dried apricot, the cranberries, light brown sugar, cinnamon and the orange zest. Spread the mixture evenly over the dough, leaving about a 1cm strip empty at one endRoll the dough up starting at the opposite end from the 1cm gap, then slice into 1cm wide pieces. Arrange them in lined baking trays and cover with cling film. Leave them in a warm place for their second prove for 1 hourBake the buns on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes. Cool on a cooling rackOnce they are completely cool, make the icing by mixing the icing sugar and about 2/3 juice of the orange, add a little bit of the orange juice at a time until you have a thick but spreadable consistency. Drizzle it over the buns using a piping bag or a spoon
Yield: 13 servings

Monday, 18 January 2016

Chocolate Avocado Brownies

I've heard about baking with avocado for a long time and I've always wanted to try it out. I thought January would be the perfect time for it as being more healthy is on everyone's minds. Avocados are so nutrious and are filled with vitamins and healthy fats, they have been shown to lower cholesterol and are also full of fibre. There is nothing bad about avocados that's for sure! Alternative ingredients are all the rage right now and I've become even more aware of other options to dairy products since my sister became vegan. Unfortunately these brownies aren't vegan friendly, but the frosting is! So you could easily add it to a vegan bake.

I started by mashing up 2 ripe avocados. As they are so popular now you can buy them ready and ripe, or ripen at home. I use a stick blender to make sure I got it as smooth as possible, you could also use a food processor. I mixed 200g sugar into the avocados.

I melted 260g dark chocolate. I used these 70% dark chocolate chips from Chocolate Trading Co. Dark chocolate is also another great ingredient as it is full of minerals and antioxidants.

I mixed the melted dark chocolate into the avocado mixture, then added 4 eggs, one at a time, mixing between each addition. I also added 2 tsp vanilla extract.

Finally I mixed in 30g cocoa powder, 80g plain flour and 1/2 tsp salt. I poured the brownie batter into a lined baking pan.

I baked the brownies on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes. I left them to cool completely on a cooling rack.

To make the chocolate frosting I again mashed up 2 ripe avocados and used a stick blender to get them super smooth and lump free.

To the avocado I added 325g icing sugar, 5 tbsp cocoa powder and 1/2 tbsp vanilla. It went very glossy and smooth. I spread it over the brownies and cut them into squares.

When I took the brownies into work I told everyone they were healtheir brownies and there was a secret ingredient in them. No one guessed correctly and everyone was so surprised to find out these had avocados in them! I got some amazing feedback and everyone really liked the brownies, they were very fudgy and dense, and the frosting was so delicious - a close competitor to regular buttercream I think!

I am entering these into myself and Cakeyboi's monthly baking challenge Treat Petite. This month's theme is fruit & veg.

I am also entering these into Belleau Kitchen's challenge Simply Eggcellent, this month's theme is healthier recipes.

print recipe

Chocolate Avocado Brownies with Chocolate Avocado Frosting
  • 4 Avocados, ripe
  • 200g Sugar
  • 260g 70% dark chocolate
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 80g Plain flour
  • 30g Cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 325g Icing sugar
  • 5 tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp Vanilla extract
Mash up 2 of the avocados. Use a blender to get the smoothest consistency. Then mix in the sugarMelt the dark chocolate and add it to the mixtureAdd the eggs, one at a time, mixing between each addition. Then add the vanilla extractMix in the cocoa powder, flour and salt. Pour into a lined baking panBake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutesFor the frosting, mash up the other 2 avocados. Use a blender to get the smoothest consistencyAdd the icing sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla. Spread it over the brownies and cut them into squares
Yield: 12 servings

Brownie recipe from Fake Ginger.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Little Sins Cupcakery Mix Review

I generally don't like to use cake mixes, but if one takes my fancy I do like to try it out and see what the results bring. I also like to support smaller independent companies because I feel can you trust the quality of their products more. Little Sins Cupcakery is located near Bedford and they sell cupcakes to local residents and businesses. They have launched these mixes to bring a taste of their cupcakes to a wider audience. They currently have four flavour options on offer - Vanilla, Red Velvet, Double Chocolate & Carrot - and they sent me all four to try out.

All of the cupcake mixes come in a cardboard tube which details on it all the ingredients contained, the recipe instructions, and the extra fresh ingredients (butter, eggs etc.) that you'll need to add. It even details nutritional information and allergy advice, altogether very informative!

Inside each tube I found cupcake cases, bags of ingredients and a recipe card which had all the buttercream options detailed. I liked how the ingredients for the cupcakes were only in one or two bags, so it made it very easy to follow the recipe. The only thing I found problems with were the cupcakes cases. In some of the tubes they were a bit squished.

All of the mixes were very straightforward to follow and I was able to make them all by hand. The vanilla mix involved putting everything in a bowl and mixing together. The carrot mix had some dried carrot in it which had to be rehydrated with boiling water. And the double chocolate mix had chocolate chips which were sprinkled onto the batter before baking. I didn't get round to trying the red velvet mix for this review and I am saving it for a party I'm having later this month.

In all the mixes I found that there was always excess mixture. With the carrot mix I managed to make 17 cupcakes, and with the chocolate I made 14. For the vanilla I just made quite big cupcakes, but it could've stretched to 14 cupcakes too I reckon. This wasn't a problem necessarily, but if you didn't have extra cupcakes cases in the house like I do it could be a waste of mixture.

I was really pleased with the results after baking the cupcakes, they all rose very well and baked evenly. As you can see above the squished cupcake cases did cause a bit of an issue, but if you're just baking these for friends or family I'm sure no one will mind! I was also impressed that the chocolate chips stayed on top of the chocolate cupcakes and didn't sink.

I decided to decorate all of the cupcakes with my own buttercream recipes, but as I mentioned before the mixes all come with recipe cards for different options. I also added a sprinkle of cinnamon on the carrot cupcakes, some sprinkles on the vanilla and some Dr Oetker chocolate hearts on the chocolate ones.

Now onto the most important bit, the taste! I enjoyed eating all of the cupcakes and I could only tell with the carrot one that it was a mix (although no one else could). I also got fantastic feedback from my colleagues and boyfriend, they had no idea it was from a packet mix and everyone was surprised when I told them. I think these mixes would be a fantastic gift to give to someone who is interested in baking, but is perhaps not very experienced. It would also be a great gift for children as the instructions are easy to follow and I think they would really enjoy making the cupcakes.

If you're interested in purchasing the mixes or learning more about Little Sins Cupcakery you can check out their Facebook page and their website.