Leftovers, still… 

We had an amazing Christmas. And an scrummy Christmas dinner, our turkey was a free range bronze from our fab local butcher. I tried to not go too mad with extras like cheese and things but we still ended up with a fridge full of stuff which we’ve slowly gorged ourselves on since the big day. I have been running out of ideas for how to use things up, I hate to waste food.

Today’s blog recipe is inspired by my mum. We had lunch at hers today before taking the little man swimming. She’d made some savoury scones using her cheese leftovers. Joshua happily tucked into a Stilton and cranberry one and it inspired me to use mine up in the same way.
I’d only got Brie left so this is a recipe for Brie and cranberry savoury scones. I made half into adult sized and the other half into Joshua sized portions so that I can freeze them for snacks.

Ingredients

8oz self raising flour

2 oz butter

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/4 milk

Brie – use however much you want depending on how strong you want the taste. I used about a quarter of a whole one.

Good handful of dried cranberries.

I’d forgotten how simple scones are. And you don’t need any fancy equipment. Just rub the fat into the flour using your hands until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the rest of the dried ingredients in, I chopped the brie up reasonably small to try to get an even distribution. Then add the milk to bring it together. Roll out to about 2cm thickness, cut out your shapes, coat with an egg or milk wash and bake in a hot oven for about 12 minutes. Best eaten while they are still warm I say ; )

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Perfect crumble

It’s taken me a long time to find a perfect crumble recipe. In the past when I have made one I’ve called my mum to ask her for the hundredth time for her classic family recipe but a year or so ago I decided I should probably find my own. Google was my friend and I found a great recipe which incorporated oats for added texture that I could adapt. We’ve had a glut of apples off the trees in the orchard this season so I’ve been making a lot of apples crumbles (in fact the freezer is now full of ready to bake crumbles for when we’re feeling lazy). There’s always a debate over whether you should have even fruit to topping or more topping than fruit, as it’s such an individual preference I’m not including weights for the fruit part. For my apple crumble I keep it really simple with sliced apples, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Here’s the recipe for the topping:

140g plain flour
140g butter or hard marg
85g soft brown sugar
50g oats

I whizz the flour and marg together in the food processor until it resembles bread crumbs. Then I quickly whizz in the sugar. Then stir in the oats by hand so they keep their size. Tip onto your fruit so it’s even then pop in the oven, usually around 180c for 25 mins (or until you think it’s done!)

Buttery biscuits

This weekend I helped to entertain my friends little girl who is two years old. I had been promising for months to do a little baking with her so the challenge was to find something she’d enjoy and that would keep her attention span for at least 20 minutes! I decided biscuits were the way forward, planning to whip up the dough in my KitchenAid and then let her have a go at rolling out and using lots of kiddie shaped cutters. It seemed to go down well, and the dough was really easy to work with using a variety of biscuit cutters, we did manage to get some in the oven and cooled so she had the novelty of eating one too ; )

With hindsight my tip would be to make the dough beforehand to maximise attention span! We only used half the dough so I popped the rest in the fridge and rolled it out this morning, which worked fine.

Here’s the recipe, which is adapted from a Nigella Lawson one out of her How to be a Domestic Goddess book.

  • 175g Unsalted butter (ideally at room temperature)
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 capful of top quality vanilla essence
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Cream the butter and sugar together then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Then gently add all the dry ingredients. It’s quite a sticky dough so have plenty of flour on your work top and rolling pin when you come to rolling out. Bake in the oven for about 6-8 minutes at around 170c, keep a close eye on them though as they can catch quite quickly.

If you’re feeling creative why not decorate with some melted chocolate or some icing.

Butter biscuits

Bread

Back in March I blogged about starting my own personal GBBO challenge – where I would try baking a new recipe once a fortnight. I’ve pretty much stuck to it, although sometimes I’ll confess there may well of been more than a fortnight in-between. There have been some successes and failures along the way, one bake that really didn’t go well was my madeira cake, but practice makes perfect. A couple of weeks ago for the first time I made choux pastry, I’ve always avoided it as I thought it was really complicated (plus my auntie is the queen of profiteroles so I’ve never really had the need!). I couldn’t believe how simple it is, and how easy it was to get great results. I made six large choux buns which I then piped full of a rapsberry and vanilla cream – topped with more fresh berries. They went down a storm with the husband.

This weekend, (following the Great British Bake Off) it’s all about bread, which considering my background I probably should of covered first. For those that don’t know me, bread and baking is in my blood. My grandfather owned a successful bakery business until he retired around 15 years ago – and he was the third generation of his family to own a bakery business. We all worked at the family business at some point, I used to work every Saturday morning in one of the shops he owned (which was great as a teenager as I had an unlimited supply of donuts for my friends after our trips to the local pub on a Saturday evening). When my brother and I were small we used to ‘help’ out in the original bakery that he owned and he always told us we were natural kneaders. I really must get him to write down all the bread recipes he used to use as I’ve never found any supermarket bread that tastes as good. So, this weekend I’ll be trying out the perfect white loaf recipe from my Bake Off book. Whether I show my grandad the end result or not will depend on what it looks and tastes like!
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My little brother helping out at my Grandad’s first bakery – which had a traditional bread oven.

A foolproof Brownie recipe

Just thought I would do a quick blog post to share this brownie recipe with you all. It’s such an easy and foolproof recipe, and they always taste delicious.

I made them twice last week to take to friends for dinner and they always go down a storm. Great as a dessert, warm with ice cream or just on their own with a nice cuppa. I also tend to make them for friends when they need a little cheering up, they’re a great pick me up ; )

Enough of my rambling I hear you cry, just give us the recipe. Here you go, it’s adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe (from her How to be a Domestic Goddess book).

First up, grease and line a baking tin. I always use a square 22cm (approx) one, unless I’m making a double batch. Preheat the oven to about 180c (I usually have my oven about 160-170 as I swear it’s hotter than it says)

Ingredients
7.5 oz soft unsalted butter (or hard baking marg works just as well)
7.5 oz dark chocolate
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (don’t scrimp on the quality of this, use a good one and you only need a capful)
10 oz caster sugar
4 oz plain flour

Method
Melt the butter and sugar together in a saucepan.

In a bowl whisk the eggs together with the sugar and vanilla.

Once the chocolate has melted, let it cool slightly then beat in the eggs and sugar mixture. Then add the flour.

Scrape into your lined tin and bake for about 20 mins or so. I usually find 22 mins is spot on but it depends on your oven. The trick is to take them out when there is still a wobble – leaving them all gooey inside.
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Long overdue

Well apologies for the silence over the last few months, it’s been rather hectic and every time I’ve thought I must sit down and write a blog I’ve got distracted.

I’ve been working on a number of projects, a roman blind for my brother, plenty of crochet and coming up with a plan for my studio, which is now beyond messy to the point where I can’t even get through the door. Because of all this I’ve sort of put sales on my Etsy site on hold until I can do a decent stock take. I’ve got lots of ideas for some new cushion designs but I need to organise myself before I can make them. We’ve also still had / got a number of DIY projects on the go for the house – next big job is to build a summer house/ shed to replace the one in the orchard. Once this is built we can stop dumping garden furniture in the studio!

It was my birthday recently and I got the most amazing present from my hubby, something that I have swooned over for years – a KitchenAid. In pistachio. I’m totally in love with it and for anyone out there considering buying one I can highly recommend it. It makes baking so much quicker and easier and the results with the cakes are really impressive. That said I bought Mary Berry’s new cookery book, Absolute Favourites, which I think can also be attributed to the improvements – her recipes are fool proof, I adore her. I’ll post a proper review of that book soon I promise.

As if I need an excuse for cake…

cupcakesIt’s National Cupcake Week, surely a perfect excuse for a bit of baking (or to stuff my face with cake…). I love cupcakes, I think a lot of people think they’ve had their day, which I tend to agree with to some extent, but they are so easy to make, and depending on how they are decorated can be perfect for all occasions. I’m often asked to make a batch to take along to a friend’s BBQ or even sometimes a special occasion such as a baby shower. My favourite recipe is for chocolate cupcakes, and I use a fool proof one that my Auntie gave me (and that she uses for a lot of her wedding cakes). I thought I’d share it with you. It’s an all in one method so it’s difficult to go wrong – just be careful not to over beat it else you’ll find that the finished cake will come away from the wrappers once cool…

5 oz self raising flour

5 oz caster sugar

5 oz marg

3 oz drinking chocolate

3 eggs

2 tablespoons boiling water

Bake them at around 180 degrees for about 15-20 minutes (depending on what your oven is like!)