Monday, 29 October 2012

Good Luck Naomi Cupcakes

No words can describe how much I'm going to miss one of my nearest and dearest friend. In fact I really wish that she wasn't going away for the year and just abandoning me in London! 
How dare you just leave me here Naomi! With all these normals?! 
I'm joking of course.
No one is normal in London.
Anyways, Naomi I do hope you enjoyed the cupcakes I whipped up for you. I'm sorry that I couldn't make a cupcake to describe how wonderful you are and how much your friendship means to me (and how mad you really are). Just so you know that your'e going on an amazing adventure and you'll be older, wiser and maybe a little jetlagged afterwards. 
In short, Naomi I wish you the best of luck in your new job, which you are going to be amazing at. I am dearly going to miss you and you must promise me that you will send me a postcard from all the places you fly too. 

  • 110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150g self raising flour, sifted
  • 125g plain flour, sifted
  • 120ml semi-skimmed milk at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.    Pre-heat the oven to 160c fan/180c/350f/Gas Mark 4 and line a cupcake trays with cupcake cases.
2.    In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until pale and smooth, which should 3-5 minutes using an electric hand mixer.
3.    Combine the two flours in a separate bowl and combine the milk, and vanilla extract in a jug. Add one-third of the flours to the creamed mixture and beat well.
4.    Pour in one-third of the milk mixture and beat again. Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk has been added.
5.    Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two-thirds full. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until slightly raised and golden brown. To check they are cooked, insert a skewer in the centre of one of the cakes-it should come out clean.
6.    Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in their tins for about 10 minutes before carefully placing on a wire rack to cool. Once they are completely cool, you can ice the cupcakes.

·       110g unsalted butter, at room temperate
·       60 ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
·       1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
·       500g icing sugar, sifted
·       Food colouring-Purple and Pink

1.    In a large mixing bowl  beat the butter, milk, vanilla extract and half the icing sugar until smooth. This can take several minutes with an electric hand mixer. Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar and beat again until the buttercream is smooth and creamy.
2.    If you want to colour your buttercream, always start with one drop of colouring and beat thoroughly. This will be all you need to achieve a very pale hue. To achieve the effects in the pictures put the two colours in a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. 

Bake on!
Bake On! Penny x

Friday, 26 October 2012

Fun Things to do with Puff Pastry

My previous post was how to make puff pastry from scratch. This post is about the fun things you can make from puff pastry including Bande aux Fruite, Cream Horns, Eccles Cakes, and Palmiers

A Bande aux Fruite is an rectangle shaped fruit tart that is filled with pastry cream originating in France. 

Recipe: Bande aux Fruite
  • Puff pastry
  • Pastry cream (click here for recipe)
  • Fresh fruit of your choice (I used kiwi, strawberry and peach)
  • Apricot jam to glaze

  • Rolling pin
  • Knife
  • Non-stick board
  • Piping bag
  • Baking sheet with silicone paper

  1. Roll out the puff pastry to rectangle shape. Trim the sides so its straight edges.
  2. The side strips should be about 1 1/2cm thick.
  3. Dab water down the sides and lay strips on the long sides of the rectangles. Make a pattern on the strips if needed.
  4. Brush with egg wash and rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Prick the middle of the puff pastry to let the steam out. Cook at 215c/Gas Mark 7/ 425f for 15 mins.
  6. Once taken out of the oven and cooled. Put the pastry cream into a piping bag and pipe onto the middle of puff pastry.
  7. Cut desired fruit and place in lines to decorate.
  8. Heat up an apricot glaze to finish the fruit.

Cream horns are strips of puff pastry rolled around a horned mold (no jokes please) baked and filled with cream chantilly (icing sugar and whipped cream).

Recipe: Cream Horns
  • 200g puff pastry    
  • 100g jam
  • Cream Chantilly
  • Egg white
  • Caster sugar
  • Softened butter
  • Flour to dust

  • Rolling pin
  • Non stick board
  • Pastry brush
  • Knife
  • Cream Horn molds
  • Star nozzles
  • 2 piping bags
  • Baking sheet with silicone paper

  1.  Brush softened butter over the cream horn molds and flour them well.
  2. Roll out the puff pastry to 2mm thick very long rectangle.
  3. Trim off edges that measure 1 ½ cm wide.
  4. Start wrapping the pastry strip around the pointed end of the cream horn mold. Make sure the pastry overlaps slightly.
  5. Seal the end of pastry with egg white and dip the round horn end into caster sugar.
  6. Bake 220c/Gas Mark 7/ 425f for 20 minutes.
  7. Once cooled pipe a line of jam on flat end cream horn.
  8. Pipe in a swirl of cream.
  9. Dust the cream horns with icing sugar.

The eccles cake, rather puff pastry not really a cake, is named after the town in North England, and has been around since 1793. Some rather interesting nicknames for this 'cake' is fly cake, flies graveyard and squashed fly cake! This may be for the currents squashed into the cake. 

Recipe: Eccles Cakes
  • 250g Puff pastry
  • 100g Brown Sugar
  • 30g butter
  • 120g currents
  • A pinch of mixed spice
  • Egg white

  • Rolling pin
  • 2 Circle cutters
  • Baking sheet with silicone paper

  1. Roll out the pastry approximately 1.5mm thick.
  2. Cut out with a round, 4 inch cutter.
  3. Place a tablespoon of filling in the centre of each piece.
  4. Fold the edges into the centre, sealing in the filling and then turn over.
  5. Either flatten with the palm of the hand.
  6. Wash the tops with egg white or water and dip into caster sugar.
  7. Make 3 slits on the top with aknife so the filling shows through.
  8. Allow 30 minutes resting time.
  9. Bake at 215c/Gas Mark 7/420f for 10 minutes
  10. Check after 10 minutes.

Recipe: Palmiers
The palmier, meaning palm tree, has very mysterious origins but has earned the nickname 'elephant ears' due to the shape. They can be made with cinnamon or dipped in chocolate or made with savoury ingredients. 

  • 250g Puff pastry
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • Water

  • Rolling pin
  • Baking sheet with silicone paper
  • Small bowl

  1. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Sprinkle ¼ cup of sugar on a clean work surface.
  3. Gently unfold one of the pastry sheets. Place the pastry sheet on top of the sugared work surface.
  4. Sprinkle the top side evenly with water and ½ of the sugar to within ½ inch of the edges. Gently press the sugar into the pastry.
  5. Using  rolling pin, gently roll out the dough into a 9 x 15 inch rectangle.
  6. Using your fingers, roll the dough length-wise into a long cylinder, as tightly as possible without stretching it. Stop when you reach the middle. Do this for both sides.
  7. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  8. Using a sharp knife cut the dough crosswise so that you have little thin ‘scroll’ slices.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for an 1 hour.
  10. Preheat oven to 220c/Gas Mark 7/425f and bake for 5 minutes.
  11. After 5 minutes reduce the oven to 200c/Gas Mark 6/400f and bake for another 10 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven using a thin spatula transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

I hope you enjoyed this post about the wonders of puff pastry! 

Bake On!

Bake On! Penny x

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Making Puff Pastry

Puff pastry is one of the most unique creations of the cookery world. It consists of making layers by folding flour paste and a fat of the same texture. It can be used for a variety of dishes including sweet and savoury recipes.
What makes puff pastry distinctive is the layering of the fat and flour paste; it isn't completely combined. The fat forms a sperating layer which, when cooked, retains the steam generated by the water in the dough and produces the layer separation effect. The flour paste, which includes part of the fat, becomes crunchy and takes on a golden tone. (Practical Cookery 11th Edition).

This recipe makes around 5-8 portions. 
  • 200g strong flour  (Plus extra for rolling) 
  • 200g butter
  • 125ml ice cold water
  • Few drops of lemon juice
  • A pinch of salt

·       Mixing bowl
·       Wooden spoon
·       Sieve
·       Rolling pin
·       Knife
·       Non-stick board
·       Cling film

  1.     Sieve the flour and salt.
  2.     Rub in one quarter of the butter.
  3.     Make a well in the centre. 
  4.     Add the water and lemon juice, and knead well into a smooth dough in the shape of a ball.
  5. Relax the dough in a cool place for 30 minutes.
  6. Cut a cross halfway through the dough and pull out the corners to form a star shape.
  7.  Roll out the points of the star square, leaving the centre thick.
  8. Knead the remaining butter to the same texture as the dough. 
  9. This is very important: if the fat is too soft it will melt and ooze out, if too hard it will break through the paste when being rolled. 
  10. Place the butter on the centre square, which is four times thicker the flaps.
  11. Fold over the flaps.
  12. Roll out to 30 x 50 cm, cover with a cloth or plastic and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes in a cool place. 
  13. Roll out to 60 x 20 cm, fold both the ends to the centre and fold in half again. (This is one double turn)
  14. Allow to rest in a cool place for 20 minutes.
  15. Half turn the paste to the right or left.
  16. Give on more double turn; allow to rest for 20 minutes.
  17. Give two more double turns, allowing to rest between each. Your pastry should not have any butter sticking out of it. 
  18. Allow to rest before using. 
In the next post I'll be posting some recipes that can be made using puff pastry. 
Bake On!
Bake On! Penny x

Thursday, 11 October 2012

My First Pastry Class: Dutch Apple Pie and Fruit Tartlets/Barquettes

I went to my first ever pastry class and I have a brand new lesson to add to the The Rules of Baking: Dont Panic!!! Let me explain the situation. 
15 people wanting to weigh up the ingredients between 4 sets of scales. So I did weigh out my ingredients out incorrectly, but luckily this was corrected swiftly. 
It was chaotic. As you can imagine but we all managed. 
Also, since we were all so keen to see how all our pastry was doing, the oven kept getting opened and closed. This lead to a couple of peoples pastries being uncooked, including my barquettes and tartlets. 
Once again in The Rules of Baking, no matter how badly you want to open that oven DON'T!! You let out the heat and can make cake's sink or make pastry under cook. 
Lesson 1 was concerned with basic sweet pastry, apple filling and french pastry cream. 

(Please note that next time I'm going to take loads of pictures but didn't get the chance too as it was an unfamiliar kitchen)
My Dutch Apple Pie and Fresh Fruit barquettes and tartlets

A traditional Dutch Apple Pie (Appeltaart) is often decorated with a lattice and flavoured with cinnamon and lemon juice. This is the recipe that I have used. You can serve it with ice cream , custard or cream. However in the U.S.A, a Dutch Apple is served with a streusel topping.  
An example of a dutch apple pie picture from Food Gawker: 

A barquette is a small boat shaped pastry which can be filled with a variety of sweet or savoury ingredients. 

An example of a barquette picture from Auckland Catering website
Pastry cream is a type of custard that comes from France and is also known as crème pâtissière. It  is a combination of milk or cream, sugar, egg yolks, a type of starch like flour and flavouring such as vanilla, lemon or chocolate. 

Recipe: Sweet Pastry 
  • 240g flour (Plus extra for greasing)
  • 130g unsalted butter (Plus extra for greasing)
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 50g egg/1 egg 
  • A few drops of vanilla essence
  • Lemon zestA pinch of salt 
  • (plus the fruit for the tarts/barquettes such as strawberries and kiwi's)

  • Mixing bowl  
  • Wooden spoon or Scraper  
  • Sieve
  • Metal 7 inch ring
  • 3 x Round models
  • 3 x Barquette models
  • Silicone paper
  • 2 x small baking trays
  • Knife

  1.     Cream the sugar and butter for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  2.     Season with the lemon zest. Add the pinch of salt to add bite. 
  3.     Pour vanilla into the cap and add a few drops to the mixture.
  4.     Sieve the flour into the bowl and cut the butter into the flour mixture.
  5.     Work the butter into the mix using your hands until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  6.     Add the egg and bring the mixture together. The amount of eggs will depend on how much moisture there is in the mixture. If you need to add more egg, break one into a little bowl and break down with a fork. 
  7.     The mixture should feel wet and sticky. Knead it into a ball using your hands.
  8.     The mix should be put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. 
  9.     When the mixture has been chilled enough. Cut into 3 equal sections. 
  10.     Place silicone paper onto the baking trays and butter and flour the molds and 7 inch ring. Roll out 1/3 of the pastry to fit a 7 inch ring, around 3 mm thickness. Cover the metal ring and dent around the edges.
  11.     Add the apple filling to the pie base (see the recipe below) to the 7 inch case.
  12.     To make the lattice, roll out 3mm thickness on a floured surface and measure the dough so it fits over the 7 inch case. 
  13.     Cut into 8, 1cm strips. To make it easier to move place on baking parchment. 
  14.     Assemble the lattice and flip onto the flan. Cut the silicone paper into a circle and blind bake in the oven on 200-220c for about 40 minutes. 
  15.     Assemble the tarts/barquettes as above but fill with the pastry cream (see the recipe below) instead of the apple filling. Decorate with fresh fruit.
My barquettes and tartlets filled with pastry cream and decorated with fresh kiwi, strawberry, plum and grapes.

Recipe: Apple filling

  • 400g cooking apples
  • 100g sugar
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 50g sultanas 
  • Lemon zest/juice
  • Peeler/sharp knife
  • Waste bowl 
  • Pan
  • Wooden spoon
1.    Peel, core, wash and slice apples.
2.    Place into the sauce pan with the sugar.
3.    Partly cook the apples, add the cinnamon and lemon zest/juice
4.    Add the sultanas, mix and leave the apple mix to cool
My Dutch Apple Pie filled with the above recipe's apple filling.

Recipe: Pastry Cream (using French custard powder)
  • 500ml of milk
  • 75g sugar 
  • 48g French custard powder
  • 100g/2 eggs
  • 25g butter
  • Peeler/sharp knife 
  • Waste bowl 
  • Pan
  • Wooden spoon
  1.     Heat the milk slightly but not so it’s boiling.
  2.     Whisk the egg, sugar, and custard powder.
  3.     Add a little milk to the custard mix a little at a time. 
  4.     Stir until thick.When thick, mix in the butter.  
  5.     Cover with cling film if needed.  
  6.     For the tarts/barquettes fill with custard and decorate with fresh fruit.
I hope you find this recipe as much fun as I did. 
Bake On!
Bake On! Penny x

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Basic Equipment List or "Where do I even start?!"

Very often people are put off baking because:'I have no idea what I need, where do I start!?'
So here's my list of basic's to get you started:
  • Scales- This is the single most important piece of equipment that will ever use. Don't attempt to bake without a set of scales. Digital scales can weight out ingredients in Metric, Imperial and liquids. Personally I own a set of digital scales because its accurate and very easy to use.
  • Measuring Spoons- A set of spoons including a 1/2 teaspoon, 1/4 teaspoon, teaspoon, tablespoon and a dessert spoons. They come in great quirky designs but make sure they have all the correct measurements. 
  • Transparent Measuring Jug- Make sure that it is heatproof, pyrex is good. It's helpful if the jug shows both metric and imperial measures. 
  • Mixing Bowls- In a range of different sizes for mixing ingredients and for storing ingredients before use.
  • Mixing Utensils- I'm talking about the classic wooden spoon, however I was told my Nana, (My baking knowledge hub) to use a metal spoon when folding egg whites into a mixture as it doesn't flatten them as much as a wooden spoon. Also having a rubber spatula is a brilliant as  it scraps the cake batter away from the sides of bowls. Other mixing utensils include a whisk or an electric hand whisk which I often use to help speed up the batter. 
  • Rolling Pin- Very often I've been making biscuits/cookies and I need to roll out my dough and there's nothing more frustrating then having to squish your dough with your hands.
  • Sieve- Many recipes will call for 'sieving the flour into a bowl'. Without a sieve your batter will be lumpy and gross. 
  • Free Standing Mixer- This piece of equipment is such a time saver and it can be used to beat, whisk, whip and knead allsorts of mixtures.
  • Baking Trays and Tins- Cheap tins don't the job, you run the risk of warping and buying all new tins again. Invest in high quality tins and baking trays which will last. Remember to read a recipe to make sure you've the right sized tray/tin. 
With this list you can't really go wrong. These are the real basic's that you'll need to start baking. Without them baking is going to be struggle.

Bake On!

Bake On! Penny x
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