Sunday, 15 September 2013

Cheddar Crust Apple Pie

It's Sunday morning and I am already dreaming of last nights left over homemade pizza which I'm having for lunch. I think there a few things in life better than cold pizza. Besides eating pizza, today I will be making plans for next weekend. On Saturday one of my best friends is getting married. My other best friend Natalie and I are Ushers, and will be giving out the orders of service and showing people to their seats. I am so excited and I have the prettiest dress to wear!

You may have noticed that I missed the bake along in week three, not only did I run out of time but I felt meringues in custard were not my cup of tea. Week four of the Great British Bake Off has been my favourite so far, I can now remember everyone's names and how is anything better than pie?!

I've wanted to make this pie for ages but never got round to it. I was inspired after seeing it on a couple of American cookery shows, and when I told Mark that week four of the Bake Off was pie, he insisted I make it. I know a cheddar crust on an apple pie sounds bizarre, but I promise you it's amazing. The sweet filling and tangy salty cheese crust go together brilliantly. Mark, my sister and I devoured it in under 24 hours.


This recipe will make a 9 inch pie. The recipe is adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl and Griffith Day.

For the pastry
300g plain flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
170g cold unsalted butter, cubed
160g mature cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup iced water

1 beaten egg to glaze
Sprinkle of caster sugar

For the filling
7 Granny Smith apples
45g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon corn flour
210g light brown sugar
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon cinnamon



Method

1. Begin by making the cheddar crust. Pulse the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the cold cubed butter and grated cheddar, pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add in the iced water a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface, split into 2 pieces and roll both into a 10 inch round. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge until ready to use.

2. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Peel, core and finely slice the apples and set aside. Place the butter in a large saucepan and warm on a medium heat until it begins to brown. Turn the heat to low, add half of the apple slices and cook for 10 minutes. Add the remaining apples along with the corn flour and brown sugar, stirring until the sugar melts. Add the vanilla seeds and cinnamon, turning the heat up slightly and cook until the filling is syrupy and thick.

3. Remove the crusts from the fridge and line the base of a greased pie dish. Leave a 1 inch overhang. Pour in the apple filling then top with the final disc of pastry and crimp the edges with a fork. Still leaving a slight overhang, trim any excessive pastry.

4. Brush with the beaten egg, sprinkle the top with a handful of sugar and cut 2 or 3 vents in the top to allow any steam to escape. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until the crust is golden.


When I saw the preview for week five's Bake Off I had a slight panic as it was announced it would include biscuits. As soon as they mentioned tray bakes, I knew that would be the one for me! I'm making my tray bake this afternoon and I think it's going to be a good one. I look forward to sharing it with you next weekend.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Red Leicester and Black Pepper English Muffins

I can't believe the weekend is almost over already. I spent yesterday with my best friend Natalie, we went for a pub lunch with a couple of other friends. Then came back to my house, watched an entire season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians (guilty pleasure), the XFactor, ate pizza and popcorn all whilst drinking fizzy wine. It was the best kind of day.

So the second week of the Great British Bake Off is here! I really enjoyed this weeks episode and I've decided Beca and Kimberley are my favourites. How funny was it when Sue accidentally leant on Howard's muffin and squished it!

I made these breakfast Muffins over the bank holiday weekend, most of which I spent baking! I was really pleased I was able to take my time with these, there is nothing worse than being rushed when you're in the kitchen.


This recipe will make 6 English Muffins. The recipe is adapted from British Baking by Peyton and Byrne.

You will need a large griddle or non stick frying pan to cook them.

Ingredients
375g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
7g packet dried yeast
240ml warm water
75g Red Leicester cheese, grated
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon vegetable or rapeseed oil
Polenta for sprinkling


Method

1. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix. Combine the yeast and warm water in a measuring jug, stirring until there are no lumps. Pour into the flour and salt and mix until a dough forms. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

2. Add the 1/2 tablespoon of oil and knead in the bowl until absorbed. Remove from the bowl and stretch into a disk. Knead in the cheese and black pepper in halves. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth. Place back in the bowl and allow to sit for 20 minutes.

3. Knead the dough once more, rub with a little oil and place back in the bowl. Cover it with the tea towel and allow to rise for 1 hour.

4. Sprinkle some polenta onto a baking tray. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 6 equal parts. Roll into a ball and pat down into a disk. Place on the baking tray and sprinkle with more polenta. Cover with the tea towel and allow to rise for a further hour.

5. Heat the griddle or pan on a medium heat and carefully rub with oil. Sprinkle some polenta over the pan, place on the disks of dough and allow to cook for 10 minutes until brown. Turn over and cook for another 10 minutes.

6. Allow to cool slightly before serving with butter.


I felt so triumphant when my English Muffins turned out well. I don't have a good history with bread making so when these came out looking like they did I was over the moon. I even made my sister come over and have one for tea. I think they would be really good with scrambled eggs and some (veggie) bacon.

So this is my second entry for the Bakers Anonymous GBBO Bake Along, and I think these are one of my favourite bakes on my blog so far!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Angel Food Cake with Raspberry Drizzle

I'm sure that even if you aren't a fan of baking, you are aware that the Great British Bake Off is back! Sadly I'm always a day behind in watching it as I watch it with my sister who comes over to my house every Wednesday. This means I have to avoid Twitter on Tuesday otherwise I risk blow-by-blow spoilers! I don't usually warm to any of the contestants until a couple of shows in but they seem to be quite a good bunch this year. However I was so annoyed when that man used salt instead of sugar in one of his bakes!

This year I will be challenging myself to bake along to the show with some of my favourite bloggers over at Bakers Anonymous. The brain child of Hannah and Stephanie, Bakers Anonymous is the newest baking community where you can share what you've made minus the competitiveness.


This week's technical challenge was Angel Food Cake. The sponge consists of whipped egg whites, sugar, flour and cream of tartar, which means the sponge is light and almost melts in your mouth. It will make your house smell like marshmallows whilst it's baking. As the sponge is so sweet I felt pairing it with a raspberry drizzle would be the perfect contrast.

When making an Angel Food Cake you must NOT grease the tin as the egg whites are the only raising agent in the cake, it also allows the cake to stick to the sides of the tin as it rises.

This recipe will make a 23cm cake, in a non-greased spring form pan. The recipe is adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten. The raspberry drizzle is adapted from Ina Garten's Food Network recipe.

For the cake
200g caster sugar
160g plain flour
6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Handful of fresh raspberries for decoration

For the raspberry drizzle
250g fresh raspberries
150g caster sugar
1/2 cup water



Method

1. Preheat the oven to 18 degrees C.

2. Combine 100g of the sugar with the flour then sift them together 4 times. Set aside.

3. Put the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer (you can use a hand whisk if you like!) and whisk on high until you have medium peaks. This should take a minute and a half. Slow the mixer down to a medium speed and sprinkle in the remaining 100g of sugar. Turn the mixer up to a high speed and whisk until the mixture becomes thick and shiny. Add the vanilla and whisk for a further minute.

4. Sift one fourth of the flour and sugar mixture over the top of the egg whites and gently fold in. Repeat until incorporated.

5. Pour the batter into the spring form pan, smoothing the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes.

6. Remove the cake from the oven and place upside down on a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before running a knife around the sides of the cake, then the spring form sides can be unclipped.

7. To make the raspberry drizzle place the raspberries, sugar and water in a sauce pan and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Sieve the mixture discarding the seeds. Boil the remaining liquid for around 5 minutes or until it becomes syrupy. Allow to cool then drizzle over the cake. Place a handful of berries in the middle of the cake and serve.


I've never made an Angel Food Cake before but I think it could become a favourite! I love how the mixture is similar to that of a meringue. The sponge is so light and it smells like candy floss and marshmallows. If you didn't want to serve it with a raspberry drizzle it would be delicious with ice cream or a chocolate sauce.

If you've been inspired by the Great British Bake Off and want to bake along with us, come and say hello over at Bakers Anonymous. I believe next weeks episode focuses on bread, so I've been making mine ahead of time this weekend. I can't wait to share it with you!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Speculoos Baklava

Hello there! I seem to have taken an unintentional break from my blog. I actually made this Baklava way back at the beginning of the accidental break. I've been feeling very 'blah' about almost everything recently. Work is stressful and busy, I have plans every weekend and just never seem to have time for me and Mark. It really got on top of me and I needed some time to step back and do things without worrying about having to bake and write and take pictures.

My weekends have been full of friends going through big life events. Last weekend I went to a hen do, the wedding is in a few weeks time and in 2 weekends I'm throwing a baby shower with my best friend Natalie. We are going to host a full afternoon tea and I'm baking vanilla cupcakes - some with pink frosting and some with blue!

The most exciting news is that Mark and I have booked flights to New York City next May so that we can get married. We always wanted to get married in NYC and I never imagined it would happen, but it's such a brilliant feeling! My Mum, sister and her boyfriend have booked their flights and accommodation. I'm so excited for them to experience the city, and I can't wait to eat all the amazing food!

I don't eat Baklava very often but when I do it feels like such a treat. Sticky and sweet and the pastry is golden and crisp.


This recipe will make 25 pieces in a 23cm square tin. The recipe is adapted from Stacie Bakes.

For the Baklava
200g Pistachios, toasted
200g Hazlenuts, toasted
100g Almonds, toasted
175g caster sugar
4 tablespoons runny honey
1 pack Filo Pastry
200g unsalted butter, melted
200g Speculoos spread, melted
100g crushed Pistachios to top

For the syrup
200g caster sugar
175g runny honey
Juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup of water


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line the baking pan and set aside.

2. Crush the Pistachios, Hazlenuts and Almonds in a food processor. When they resemble breadcrumbs with a few larger lumps, place into a bowl and stir in the caster sugar and honey. Set aside.

3. Gently unwrap the Filo and set aside, covering with damp kitchen paper to stop the pastry from cracking. Place a sheet of Filo into the tin, brushing with the melted butter. Repeat 3 more times, sprinkling a third of the nut mixture of top of the fourth layer. Drizzle a third of the melted Speculoos spread over the nuts.

4. Top with another 2 sheets of Filo, brushing each with butter. Sprinkle over another third of the nuts and melted Speculoos. Repeat for a final time.

5. Finally, top with a final 4 sheets of Filo, brushing each sheet with butter. Cut into 25 small squares and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

6. To make the syrup put the caster sugar, honey, lemon juice and water in a pan and bring to the boil. Turn down to simmer until the mixture resembles a syrup. Pour over the warm Baklava and sprinkle with the crushed Pistachios. Allow to cool and then place in the fridge for 3 hours.

After making this, I'm not sure why I've never made Baklava before. When I've bought it from a shop, it's seemed really complex but it's so easy to make at home and looks really impressive. Mark was over the moon that he effectively had his own tray of it.




As usual I do have plans for next weekend but they are food related: it's the fourth Oxford Foodies Festival. I'm so excited to eat lots and to watch the chefs they have lined up. I just hope the weather stays good.

I'm pleased to have blogged again and thank you for sticking with me whilst I took a break!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Chocolate Crust Banoffee Pie

Well hello there! I'm not quite sure how I've managed to not blog for a month, but I do know I have been BUSY! I've seen lots of different friends over the last few weeks, went to Laura's wedding (which was the loveliest wedding I've ever been to!) and then last weekend was Food Blogger Connect which was brilliant. It was a lot of hard work but I feel so proud of how the event turned out. I also finally got to meet Nick who is so much fun, and Hannah. It turns out Hannah and I are scarily similar (almost to the point where we finish each others sentences!) I have made a really good new friend in her. Hopefully Nick, Hannah and I will get together again soon!

What does everyone think of this lovely weather? I like it, but I'm a bit fed up of how hot it is. The house won't cool down, Luna is fed up and it makes sleeping difficult. Though it means Mark and I have been enjoying pub beer gardens with friends and BBQs at my Mums house.

Because the house is so hot, I'm trying to avoid turning the oven on so what could be a more perfect bake than a non-bake Banoffee Pie? The best Banoffee Pie I've ever had was made by a colleague when I worked for the Police, who is a retired Detective Sergeant. He is one of my favourite people and he also makes a brilliant baked cheesecake!


This recipe will make a 23cm pie. The recipe is adapted from Baking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale.

For the crust
250g digestive biscuits
50g dark chocolate
120g unsalted butter, melted

For the filling
Tin of Carnation Caramel
4 small bananas, sliced
300ml double cream
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod

2 squares dark chocolate, shaved, for topping


Method

1. Using a food processor, pulse the digestives and chocolate until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Place in a bowl and mix in the melted butter. Spoon the mixture into the 23cm pie dish, or loose-bottomed tin and firmly press along the bottom and sides to form a crust. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Place the double cream and vanilla seeds in a bowl and whip until thickened. Refrigerate for 20 minutes

3. Remove the crust from the fridge and pour the tinned caramel onto the base, smoothing until even with a palette knife. Layer the sliced bananas on top of the caramel. Remove the whipped cream from the fridge and spread over the top of the bananas. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the extra chocolate over the top of the cream. Place the pie back in the fridge for 30 minutes and serve.

Banoffee pie is so easy that I'm not sure if I should call the above a method. But is is perfect to make on a hot day and such a good desert to take to a BBQ. If I made this again I would use a bit more cream, perhaps 450ml to make the topping a bit more volumous.


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