Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Nectarine & Bilberry Custard Tart

I think of myself as quite knowledgeable when it comes to food so when I haven't heard of something it really intrigues me. I'd never heard of bilberries before, so I really wanted to try them. The bilberries were kindly given to me by Angela from Only Crumbs Remain. She picked them herself and if you are a bilberry fan or are interested in baking with them you will find lots of bilberry recipes on her blog! They are a foraged berry and come from the same family as blueberries and blackberries. I've never seen them in the shops before, so do let me know if you've ever seen them sold anywhere. Otherwise look out for them on your next country walk! I decided to pair them with nectarines in this tart as the bright orange colour is a great match to the dark blue bilberries, and they also taste delicious!

I started by making the creme patisserie custard filling as it takes several hours to cool. I started by heating 500ml whole milk with the seeds from a vanilla pod until it reached boiling point. I then took it off the heat and poured it into a jug.

In my food mixer I whisked up 6 egg yolks with 140g caster sugar until pale and thick. I added 45g cornflour and mixed it in, then I poured the warm milk in with the mixer still going.

I poured the mixture back into the pan and heated it up whilst continously stirring. When it started to thicken, I started whisking it to keep it smooth and stop any lumps.

I put it in a bowl, and covered it with cling film. I made sure the cling film was touching the creme patisserie so that a skin doesn't form on it. I left it in the fridge overnight to cool.

To make the pastry I rubbed 170g butter into 350g plain flour until it resembled breadcrumbs.

I added 2 eggs and mixed to form a dough. I wrapped it in cling film and chilled it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

To roll out the pastry I decided to try out an item from the new Joseph Joseph baking range, which were kindly sent to me recently. If you haven't heard of Joseph Joseph before, they are a family business ran by twin brothers. Their focus is on the whole user experience of their products, they combine design, function and quality materials to make their range.

I tried out their Roll Up Non-Slip Silicone Pastry Mat. The mat features a handy rolling size guide printed in circular shapes, as well as sizes along the sides. It also has an integrated strap so you can roll it up, fasten it and store it easily.

I rolled out the pastry and the size guides on the mat were really helpful - I don't know why I haven't bought one of these already as I do make pastry quite often!

I lined my 23cm tart tin with the pastry and pricked it all over with a fork.

I lined the pastry with baking paper then poured in baking beans, I blind baked it on 180C/106C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes.

I then removed the baking beans and baked it again for 10-15 minutes until the bottom was fully cooked and it was golden brown all over.

When the tart case was fully cool I filled it with the creme patisserie and smoothed it out.

I sliced up 5 nectarines and arranged them in circles on top, and I placed the billberries in the gaps. The bilberries freeze really well and I still have more to use.

To glaze the tart and keep the fruit fresh whilst also creating a lovely shiny appearance, I warmed up 5 tbsp apricot jam in a pan. I then sieved it to remove any lumps, and used a pastry brush to generously brush it all over the tart.

And the tart was ready! It's best to eat this straight away, although it will last a few days if kept in the fridge.

It was a bit messy when cut but the sweet creamy custard and delicious fresh fruit soon distract you from the appearance. It was my first taste of bilberries and I have to say they go very well with custard. The pastry was also perfectly crisp which is just what you need for a tart like this as it holds the wet filling in place without any leaks, not a soggy bottom in sight!

I'm linking up with the Sunday Fitness & Food Link Up hosted by Ilka's Blog and Marathons & Motivation.

And to The Food Calendar hosted by Charlotte's Lively Kitchen. I think this tart would be a delightful afternoon tea treat!

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Nectarine & Bilberry Custard Tart
  • 500ml Whole milk
  • 1 Vanilla pod
  • 6 Egg yolks
  • 140g Caster sugar
  • 45g Cornflour
  • 350g Plain flour
  • 170g Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 5 Nectarines
  • 70g Bilberries
  • 5 tbsp Apricot Jam
Start by making the creme patisserie custard filling. Heat the whole milk with the seeds from a vanilla pod in a pan until it reaches boiling point. Then take it off the heat and pour it into a jugUsing an electric mixer whisk up the egg yolks with the caster sugar until pale and thick. Add the cornflour and mix it in, then pour the warm milk in with the mixer still goingPour the mixture back into the pan and heat it at a medium-high heat whilst continously stirring. When it starts to thicken, whisk it to keep it smooth and stop any lumpsSieve it required to remove any lumps, then put it in a bowl and covered it with cling film. Make sure the cling film is touching the creme patisserie so that a skin doesn't form on it. Leave it in the fridge overnight to coolTo make the pastry rub the butter into the plain flour until it resembles breadcrumbsAdd the eggs and mix to form a dough. Wrap it in cling film and chill it in the fridge for 30 minutesRoll out the pastry and line a 23cm tart tin. Prick it all over with a forkLine the pastry with baking paper then pour in baking beans (or dry rice if you don't have them) bake it on 180C/106C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutesRemove the baking beans and baked it again for 10-15 minutes until the bottom is fully cooked and it is golden brown all overWhen the tart case is fully cool fill it with the creme patisserie and smooth it outSlice up the nectarines and arranged them in circles on top, then I place the billberries in the gapsTo glaze the tart, warm up the apricot jam in a pan. Sieve it to remove any lumps, and use a pastry brush to generously brush it all over the tart

Friday, 26 August 2016

Homemade Jaffa Cakes: GBBO Season Seven Begins!

The Great British Bake Off is back for it's seventh year on our TV screens and this means that my yearly 'bake along' commences too. If you're new to my blog - hello! And also, you won't know that I've been baking along to The Great British Bake Off for 4 years now, with this year being my fifth year! I started doing this in order to increase my skills and expand my baking repertoire. I've learnt so much and baked such a wide variety of things that I may never have tried otherwise. I'm excited to get started on another year of baking adventures. If you'd like to check out all of my past GBBO bakes click here.

As usual the bakers this year are a mix of ages, professions and ethnic backgrounds. There's Val who's 66 and loves exercise, Ed Sheeran and "listens" to her bakes. Andrew who's 25 and designs jet engines for a living. Candice who's 31 and a PE teacher. And Rav who's 28 and is into vegan baking and far eastern cuisine. It's so hard to tell at the start who will go the distance!

The first challenge for the bakers was to make a drizzle cake, and it must be moist. Paul said they are taking the challenges back to basics, so making it easier, but the judging would only get harder! Mary wanted the twelve new bakers to be inventive.

Any bakers doing a two layer cake were asked by Paul and Mary if they were putting the drizzle on both layers - which is a massive flashing warning light to the bakers that this is what they should be doing! First week nerves hit everyone, Lee immediately hit issues as his mixture kept separating. Selasi was the most laidback baker in the tent, when he forgot to put cinnamon in his cake batter he just put in the drizzle instead. Jane forgot to add ground almonds so had to make her cake again.

Benjamina got great comments from the judges, as did Candice, Jane and Selasi. The others bakers had problems with texture, lack of drizzle and missing flavours.

This week's technical challenge was jaffa cakes. This entailed making a fatless genoise sponge, and orange jelly, and neatly covering them in chocolate. Mary said they are a great British classic and she wanted them to be absolutely perfect. No pressure bakers!

Some of the bakers made the sponge by whisking the eggs and sugar over simmering water, none of them knew how long to bake the sponge for, and a couple of them got confused on which way round the sponges should be. Andrew did all of his upside down, then almost presented them with the chocolate on the bottom, not sure if he's eaten jaffa cake before?! Unfortunately that meant he came last, Lee was eleventh, Val tenth, Louise ninth, Rav eighth, Jane seventh and Benjamina sixth. Candice made it into the top five with fifth place and Kate came fourth. Michael was third, Tom second and Selasi was first.

The showstopper challenge was to make a mirror glaze cake, which should be as shiny as a mirror, and cover the entire cake. The sponge must also be a genoise. Mary was looking for sheer perfection and Paul wanted something that would stick in their minds. There was a great variety of flavours from salted praline with white chocolate from Benjamina, matcha tea from Michael and

Candice had a lot of trouble making her genoise sponge, she made them multiple times and even chucked one across the tent like a frisbee! Tom, Benjamina and Val also made their sponges more than once. The cakes, once baked and cooled had to be covered with a base layer, or crumb coat, of either ganache or buttercream. There were the first tears of the series from Benjamina as her swiss meringue buttercream was too runny, Sue was there to offer comfort and kind words.

Jane got great results from the judges, with both her flavours and appearance getting praised. Rav's mirror glaze also looked good, the Paul didn't like the texture of his cake. Despite having too much gin in his drizzle cake, Tom didn't have enough alcohol in his mirror glaze cake this time! Unfortunately for Michael the judges didn't like matcha tea, although I thought his presentation looked stunning. Kate's cake was very messy, but Mary liked the gooseberry flavour.

Selasi was praised for his cake as he was the only one to do a fruit glaze and fill his cake with a set mousse, Mary said it was a joy to eat and Paul said it was simple, elegant and beautifully flavoured. Val's cake looked good, but she'd used caster sugar in her buttercream. Lee's cake had a messy appearance on the outside and the sponge was dry. Louise had no mirror glaze at all, but her cake was delicious. Benjamina had a simple but good looking cake, with lovely flavours. Candice had a good mirror glaze, but her vanilla genoise was not cooked well. Andrew's cake looked stunning and Paul called it fantastic all over.

Lee was the first baker to leave the tent, as he did badly in all three challenges he was the obvious choice. Jane got star baker which surprised me to be honest as I really thought Selasi deserved the title. Next week is biscuit week!

I decided to make this week's technical challenge - Homemade Jaffa Cakes. Partly at my boyfriend's request, and partly because they looked really yummy! I followed Mary Berry's recipe for them and changed a couple of bits here and there to suit.

I started by making the orange jelly the night before as it takes a couple of hours to set. I used a sachet of Robinson's orange jelly as it was the only one in the supermarket suitable for vegetarians, I found it in Asda. I followed the instructions on the packet and I also added the zest of 1 orange. I added a small amount of orange food colouring too as I wanted it to be brightly coloured when the jaffa cakes were cut into. I lined a baking tray with cling film for the jelly to set in one even layer.

To make the sponge I started by greasing a muffin tin with butter.

I used an electric whisk to whisk up 1 large egg and 25g caster sugar for 4-5 minutes until it was thick and pale. I then gently folded in 25g self raising flour.

I only got enough for 10 sponges, so I made another lot of mixture and greased up another muffin tin.

I baked each lot of sponges on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 9 minutes, turning the tray around in the oven after 7 minutes.

I tipped the jelly out onto some baking paper and cut out circles using a 1 1/2 inch cutter.

Then I melted 250g dark chocolate and gently covered the top of each cake using a spoon. I then used a fork to give the top some texture. I put them in the fridge to set the chocolate.

Then I tucked in! These are so satisfying to eat, breaking through the crisp dark chocolate to find tangy orange jelly and light as air soft sponge is a great feeling. One that can too easily be enjoyed over and over and over again...!

I'm linking up to Cook Blog Share hosted by Sneaky Veg.

And We Should Cocoa hosted by Tin & Thyme.

And Tea Time Treats hosted by Lavender & Lovage.

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Homemade Jaffa Cakes
  • 1 Robinsons's Orange Jelly Sachet
  • 1 Orange
  • 2 Free range large eggs
  • 50g Self raising flour
  • 50g Caster sugar
  • 250g Dark chocolate
  • Orange food colouring (optional)
Line a baking tray with cling film and follow the instructions on the packet to make the jelly, also added the zest of 1 orange. Add a small amount of orange food colouring too at this point if desired. Pour the jelly into the lined tray and leave in the fridge to set for approx 2 hours or overnightGrease two muffin tins with butter or margarineUse an electric whisk to whisk up the egg and caster sugar for 4-5 minutes until it is thick and paleGently fold in the self raising flourBake on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 9 minutes, turning the tray around in the oven after 7 minutesGently tip the jelly out onto some baking paper and cut out circles using a 1 1/2 inch cutterMelt the dark chocolate and gently cover the top of each cake using a spoon. Then used a fork to give the top some texture. Put them in the fridge to set the chocolate

Friday, 19 August 2016

Making 100 Butterbeer Wedding Cupcakes

I don't make cakes for a living, but when one of my best friends, who I've known for 13 years, asked me to make her wedding cupcakes I didn't hesitate to agree! Her wedding was Harry Potter themed so butterbeer flavoured cakes were requested. If you have seen the Harry Potter films you will know of the drink butterbeer enjoyed by the characters when visiting pubs and taverns. I wanted to share with you how I got on making 100 cupcakes, plus a large cake, and also the recipe for the butterbeer cupcakes if you would like to make them yourself!

So I'll start with the flavour. Butterbeer, is described as "a bit like less-sickly butterscotch" and does have an mild alcoholic content in the Harry Potter stories. However, the butterbeer served at Harry Potter World in Florida contains no alcohol (presumably so adults and children alike can enjoy the beverage!). In order to flavour the icing, the bride-to-be obtained a few bottle of the above pictured butter extract from America. You can get it online from Amazon, and there are other brands that make it too. I also suggested filling the cupcakes with caramel, as butterscotch is essentially a caramel flavour, and to make them extra special.

It was very important to trial the cupcakes for the happy couple, so I made a small batch of about 6 cupcakes for them to taste. Suffice to say they were happy with the flavour! They have both visited Harry Potter World and tasted butterbeer itself so they were able to confirm the flavour matched. They were also huge fans of the caramel inside. For the decoration, a simple swirl of buttercream was requested, along with a sprinkling of gold glitter. The large cake would be filled with strawberry jam and covered in the butterbeer buttercream with a 'spiky' effect all over.

The process of making the sponge was quite straightforward. I started with the large cake, making the two layers on separate evenings, wrapping them up in cling film once fully cooled and freezing them. I then spent the week before the wedding making a batch of 24 cupcakes every evening until I had enough. I also wrapped up and froze these too. Although 100 were requested, I ended up making around 110. It's always good to have a few extra!

Two days before the wedding I made the caramel filling and buttercream. I slightly overestimated to make sure I had enough. I used 3kg of butter and 6kg of icing sugar for the buttercream! I used an electric hand mixer and a flour sifter (to sift the icing sugar) to make the process as easy and fast as possible. As usually I just mix buttercream by hand if it's a small batch.

All the cupcakes and the large cake were also taken out of the freezer by this point and I stored them in cupcake boxes for ease of transport, and also so I wouldn't have to worry about collecting my own tupperware from the wedding venue. They could just dispose of the boxes, or they could be used by guests for taking cake home.

The day before the wedding I decorated and filled the cupcakes at the venue. I started by coring them all using a cupcake corer. Again this made the process easier, and also the holes are much neater than using a knife.

I used a piping bag to fill each hole with the caramel.

Then I piped the buttercream onto each cupcake and sprinkled half of them with glitter. The bride decided that half would have glitter sprinkled on top, and they would be place in cream cupcake wraps. Then the other half would have no glitter, and be placed in glittery cupcake wraps. I also covered the cake at this time. I gave it one base coat of buttercream, then placed it in the fridge, which the venue kindly let me use.

On the morning of the wedding I finished the large cake with a second layer of buttercream and a 'spiky' effect which I used the back of a spoon to create. I also (with help from some friends) put each cupcake into a wrapper and arranged them on the display table, with the large cake in the middle. If you like the cupcake wrappers and heart shaped toppers you can get them from Ginger Ray. If you like the large cake topper you can get it from Better Off Wed.

This is me with the happy couple! I was so pleased with the whole cake display and how it all looked. They loved it too, which was the biggest thing for me as all I wanted was for them to like it. It is a lot of pressure to make something like this for such an important day in a couple's life so I really wanted it to be everything they had imagined.

After the cake was cut I had to emotionally 'let go'. If you are a baker like me, you will understand what I mean by this! Basically when I make something and I put so much time, effort and love into it, seeing it go to waste or not get eaten can be difficult for me. So at this point of the day I just said to myself that I'd achieved what I wanted, and if some didn't get eaten or had to be thrown away it was ok.

Thankfully, I saw a constant stream of wedding guests eating cupcakes all evening long! I saw couples having fun with them by pushing the buttercream into each others faces, and people nodding in satisfaction as they tucked in. It was a great feeling!

I tucked in to a cupcake and really enjoyed the flavour. The caramel is to die for!

So that's my story and I hope that you enjoyed reading it, and if you are asked to do anything like this for a friend, or as a business opportunity, I hope it's given you some helpful tips. If you just came for the Butterbeer Cupcake recipe, then find it below! I've provided quantities for 24 cupcakes.

I'm linking up with Brilliant Blog Posts hosted by Honest Mum.

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Butterbeer Cupcakes
  • 547g Butter
  • 165g Dark brown sugar
  • 175ml Double cream
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 5 Eggs
  • 290g Caster sugar
  • 290g Self raising flour
  • 4 tsp Butter flavour extract
  • 400g Icing sugar
  • Gold edible glitter
Start by making the caramel filling. In a pan melt 57g of the butter. Once melted add the dark brown sugar and double cream. Bring it to a boil then let the sauce bubble for 5 minutes. Keep stirring it the whole time. Then take it off the heat and mix in the vanilla extract. Pour it into a bowl and cool it fully in the fridge, it will take a couple of hours and will thicken up noticeablyTo make the sponge cream together 290g of the butter and the caster sugarAdd the eggs, one at a time and mixing between each addition. Also add 2 tsp of the butter extract flavouringAdd the self raising flour and mix in. Divide the mixture between 24 cupcake casesBake on 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Place on a cooling rack to cool fullyTo make the icing mix together 200g of the butter and the icing sugar, then add 2 tsp of the butter extract flavouring and mix inUse a cupcake corer to make a hole in the middle of each cupcake. Fill the holes with the caramel using a piping bag with the end snipped off, or a teaspoon.Put the icing into a piping bag with a star or rose nozzle. Swirl the icing onto the cupcakes then sprinkle gold glitter all over