Peach Cobbler

 My brother came to visit this week and on his way to mine, informed me  that there’d better be a tasty dessert awaiting his arrival or there would be trouble.  Trouble, when it comes to my older brother, takes the form of a lot of punches (in a very loving brotherly fashion). It seems no matter how old we get (he is 29 and I’m 24), we still fight like we’re children. So to avoid any bruises, I decided to make him the Peach Cobbler from the new Hummingbird Bakery recipe book, as it looked simple and, more importantly, really quick to make.Read More »

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Banana and Cinnamon Muffins

 These are my second attempt at muffins and I decided to go with a Hummingbird recipe, as they are famously American and are meant to be amazing with muffins.  The Banana and Cinnamon muffins in the first Hummingbird Recipe book simply sounded too good not to attempt so I got all the ingredients and started baking on a Sunday night to take to work the next day.Read More »

Last Minute Lemon and Poppyseed Ring Cake

During Easter, I went a bit anti-Easter related baked goods.  I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m kind of tired of all the Easter eggs, bunnies, and bird nests.  We’ve all had our fair share of chocolatey goodness and enough is enough.

So when I was told that we had guests coming for cake and tea two hours before they were due to arrive – I refused to bake anything Easter-related I got out the trusty old Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and picked a recipe that reminds me of spring: the Lemon and Poppy Seed Ring Cake.Read More »

Maple and Walnut Streusel Cake

Right. I got my brand-spanking new beautiful Hummingbird Bakery Recipe book, which meant: a lot of jumping up and down, countless hours spent pouring over the pictures trying to decide what to bake first; and five seconds of baking time to spill something on it.  I guess the sign of a good recipe book is one with numerous stains?! At least, this is what I tell myself instead of admitting that I’m just a messy cook.Read More »

Marbled Chocolate Ring Cake

I saw the photo of this cake in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible and thought – ‘it looks fit, I must try it’. Yes people, I described a cake as fit. I’m sorry, it had to be done.

I needed a reason to try out this marbled chocolate cake and luckily, my neighbours were due to come round for dinner; technically not a dinner party, but excuse enough for dessert.Read More »

Chocolate Chip American Muffins

Since the success of my Lemon and Raspberry Tart, I’ve got a bit ambitious and decided to try another first – muffins!

OK, so I know it doesn’t sound quite as terrifying as it could be, what’s hard about muffins right? I don’t know what it is about them that have made me really nervous about baking them; but I figured I have to start making them at some point – why not start this weekend?!

 The recipe was pretty easy to follow if I’m honest.  I mixed together the flour, baking powder and rubbed the butter in to get to a ‘breadcrumb’ consistency.  Then I stirred in the sugar and chocolate chips. I was slightly worried at how little sugar I used until I started adding the chocolate chips ­– there were so many! Thankfully, there was enough left over for me to nibble on whilst I carried on with the rest of the recipe.

In another bowl I mixed the eggs, milk and vanilla essence before pouring it all in to the ‘dry’ ingredients. According to Mary Berry, this batter is meant to be a bit lumpy so I tried not to get too freaked out by the fact that I was putting lumpy batter into muffin cases – it felt so wrong! Oh well – into the oven they go.

 Chocolate Chip American Muffins

Now these muffins are titled ‘American’ so I figure they should come out pretty big – maybe not! When I think of muffins, I think of huge, delectable, muffin-top treats; these were more like extra-large cupcakes.  They also came out a mixture of colours – for some reason some were beautiful and golden-brown, whereas others were a little more … ahem… light-yellow? Ah well. If anyone complained, I’d blame it on my temperamental oven.

As I packed up the muffins to take to work the next day, I started to worry  about what people would think; I don’t normally do very well on my first attempt at baked goods (you should have seen my first ever cake!) and didn’t want my ‘baking-goddess’ reputation to diminish.  On the other hand, I wasn’t about to force my parents to eat their way through 12 muffins so off to work they went.

 Chocolate Chip American Muffins

Now I usually prefer muffins to cupcakes, mainly because one is enough to satiate my sweet tooth; but I just wasn’t feeling these muffins.  Simply put, I think they weren’t sweet enough for me. This is not to detract from the recipe, however, they tasted great with my morning brew, and everyone else seemed to love them.  They were especially pleased with the muffin to chocolate chip ratio.

 As my first muffin attempt – I’d say I was quite happy with them (the perfectionist inside me is not easily pleased!). However, I have decided to reserve judgment until I have attempted a few more recipes. There’s a chance for these American Chocolate Chip muffins yet!

Lemon & Raspberry Tart with Poppy Seed Pastry

The name of this recipe is enough to get me hungry.  I saw this in my new copy of Lorraine Pascale’s Baking Made Easy and had to try it.  It was the perfect dinner party dessert and I had to get over my fear of tarts.

The tart dish I have is a little bigger than the one recommended in the equipment so I made 1/3 extra to make sure there was enough to fit.

I started by making the poppy seed dough – I whisked together the butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and added in the eggs one at a time.  I then stirred in the flour, salt and poppy seeds till it made a soft, uniform dough. I then wrapped it up and let it cool in the fridge for 2 hours.  Simple – I don’t know why I was so worried about making tarts!

After the 2 hours, I rolled it out and attempted to ‘lay’ it over the tart tin.  After about 4 pathetic attempts I gave up doing it Lorraine Pascale’s way and did it my way.  I rolled the dough out on baking parchment and flipped it onto the tart tin – not the most elegant method but it worked.  A few patches were needed here and there but otherwise it seemed to be fool-proof!

Lemon & Raspberry Tart with Poppy Seed Pastry

The tart went back in the fridge for 15minutes to harden up before it went into the oven for a blind bake using baking beads.  After about 15 minutes I took the beads out and baked for a further 5 minutes.  Now the recipe said that my tart shouldn’t have much colour on it but mine was turning a light golden so I took it out a little earlier and let it cool.

Lemon & Raspberry Tart with Poppy Seed Pastry

 The filling was definitely the easiest part of the bake.  I whisked together the eggs and sugar for a few minutes, added some double cream and finally the lemon zest and juice.  This was poured into the tart case and baked until it was slightly wobbly in the middle.

I’m starting to realise that my oven is a lot hotter than it should be so turned down the heat by 15-20 degrees and checked on it 15 minutes sooner.  It was barely wobbly in the middle – oops!

Lemon & Raspberry Tart with Poppy Seed Pastry

I took it out just in time and let it cool. Then it was simply a matter of decorating the top with raspberries and a dusting of icing sugar and hey presto, my first proper tart!

Lemon & Raspberry Tart with Poppy Seed Pastry

The tart looked quite impressive and was very well received (especially when the guests had already tasted some of my Chocolate Truffles earlier on).  It was served with a drizzle of single cream and tasted absolutely beautiful! It was delicious and creamy but with a nice lemony zing to it and the raspberries and poppy seeds went amazingly well with it all.

Lemon & Raspberry Tart with Poppy Seed Pastry

 This is definitely up there amongst the favourites and I will definitely make it again. Not only is it scrumptious but it’s become very clear through making this that I need to practice making tart dough!

Chocolate Truffles

I have recently been given the Gü Chocolate Cookbook and needed an excuse to make something out of it. Luckily, a week later, we had a dinner party at home and – as always – I was expected to come up with dessert.  This time I wanted to add something a little extra to the table and decided to make these chocolate truffles.

 I’ve been told they’re pretty simple to make but didn’t believe it until I had a go at them myself.  All you really need is a bit of patience and a hell of a lot of chocolate!

Chocolate Truffles

 Making the inside part of the truffle consists of bring double cream to boil and pouring it over broken pieces of chocolate. Once it’s all melted you stir in the softened butter until it’s lovely and smooth.  Then you cover and chill it for a few hours – or in my case, overnight.

In the morning, I scooped out small spoonfuls of the truffle mix, placed them on baking parchment and put them back in the fridge for 15 minutes.  Then I took them out again and rolled them into balls before they went back in the fridge for another 15 minutes.

Then comes the fun part.  To coat the chocolates you melt any type of chocolate you want (I used dark and white chocolate), and then dunk the truffle balls in and place it on baking parchment to dry.  The chocolate dries quickly so if you want to add something on top you have to do it as soon as you’ve placed it on the baking tray.  I used desiccated coconut on some of the dark truffles, and shaved dark chocolate on the white truffles.

Chocolate Truffles

That is, literally, all there is to it.  They are so easy to make but look beautiful on the coffee table; they also taste amazing! These Chocolate Truffles will definitely be made again!

Chocolate Truffles

Apple and Cinnamon Cake

I had planned to make this cake for Christmas day, but my Gingerbread Mansion took up a lot more time than expected so I had to make it later on.  I was making my first ever Iranian meal and decided that we would also have to have some sort of dessert as well.

I chopped up the walnuts and peeled, cored and grated the apple ready to go into the mixture.  The recipe is pretty easy: essentially you throw everything except the cinnamon and apples into a bowl and whisk it together until it is thoroughly blended.  Then you pour half the mixture into the cake tin, spread the apple and cinnamon on top of that, and then spoon the remaining cake mixture on top. That’s, literally, how easy it’s meant to be. I put the cake into the oven and carried on with the main courses while it baked.

We have a new oven in our kitchen, a beautiful double oven that I adored, until now.  During the first attempt at this cake (yes – there were two attempts!), I did what I always do: set the timer and go off to do something else until the alarm goes off.  Usually an extra few minutes is needed but generally, this method has always worked for me.

 This time, I smelt something that wasn’t that beautiful baking scent and went back to the kitchen 15minutes earlier to investigate.  The cake was burnt – not just a little burnt – a lot burnt! I had no idea what went wrong: the temperature was right, the time was right – I couldn’t explain it.

With a broken heart I took the cake out and dejectedly popped open the tin to look at the damage.  My mum, who was teaching me how to cook the Iranian main course ate some and deemed it edible, but I refused to serve it – I’m the cake queen; I was determined to try again.

Apple and Cinnamon Cake

Thankfully I was at a point in cooking the main course where I could stop; I had planned to have a cup of tea in front of the telly but I resorted to a glass of wine and a grim-faced second attempt at the cake. This time I turned the temperature down slightly and set the timer for 30 minutes.

I quickly checked the cake once the alarm went off and thankfully, it wasn’t burnt … but it wasn’t cooked either. I quickly slammed the door shut and set the timer for 15minutes at a time until it had cooked. I left it to cool while I made the rest of the food.

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The rest of the meal went really well and everyone was amazed that I managed to not only cook so much, but make it taste almost as good as my mums (lets be real – no one can cook as well as her!). When it came to serving the dessert, I was so happy that it hadn’t burnt that I completely forgot to sprinkle a little light muscovado sugar and icing sugar on top before cutting everyone a slice.

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The cake was beautiful – not too sweet, not too cinnamon-y, the layer of apple in the middle also made it beautifully moist.  I’m not the biggest fan of sultanas so would probably cut them out if I made the cake again.

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