Tag Archives: baking

Perfect and easy cheese scones

2 Dec

You know how it is, you’ve got some nubs of cheese left in the fridge and you think they’d be better cooked than eaten on a cracker.

But you want your cheesy snack NOW.

Mimolette cheese scones

Mimolette cheese scones

Well, this is the recipe for you – from start to finish it probably only takes about half an hour.

Ready?

Off we go.

Spicy cheese scones

Preheat oven to 200C / GM6. Prepare a baking sheet

  • 200g SR flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • a good shake of celery salt
  • a good shake of cayenne pepper
  • a good shake of smoked paprika
  • about 40g unsalted butter, straight from the fridge, grated on a coarse grater
  • 100g mature cheddar-type cheese (I used mimolette) either grated or cut into wee chunks
  • 3tsp crunchy mustard
  • 100ml milk
  1. Sift all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl
  2. Stir in the butter and cheese
  3. Add milk and mix together with a fork
  4. Bring together with your hands and knead REALLY lightly on a floured board. If the dough is really solid, add more milk – it should come together, but feel quite light and spongey (not hard and solid)
  5. Pat down to about 2cm thickness
  6. Either use a cutter to make about 8-9 scones, or cut into rough scone shapes with a knife
  7. Bake for 12-15mins until golden brown

Grating the butter means you don’t need to do anything other than mix it in to the dry mixture – no working it till it turns into breadcrumbs. To be honest I didn’t weigh the butter, I just grated about 1/6 packet of butter (mark the pack of butter half way down, then divide the half into 3 .. don’t actually cut through it, just mark with a knife then grate to this point).

You could make these into wee baby scones and they’d be delish with a wee sherry at Christmas. Or Bonfire Night

Christmas muffins (The Cranberry Years)

2 Dec

I love Christmas food.

Cranberry clementine muffins

Cranberry clementine muffins

Well, I love my sort of Christmas food – which is almost anything apart from traditional Christmas cake. I love warm and mellow Christmas spices; chestnuts thrown into all manner of leftover dishes just because you have them; turkey; glazed ham; mulled wine; spiced cider; and cranberries. I really love baking with fresh cranberries.

And I know it’s only just December, but I was in the wonderful Whole Foods Market in Giffnock again this weekend and they had ENORMOUS fresh juicy cranberries. I had to have them.

And I had to make muffins with them. I combined them with clementine zest and orange juice, for flavour. And a muffin batter which included extra bran and porridge oats to make them pretend they are somewhere further along that health spectrum than you might imagine. But then lots of melted butter to make sure they are still tastiness itself.

And now you can make them too. If you start now, they’ll be ready within an hour. Unless you have to go out and pick your own cranberries.

Cranberry & clementine muffins

Preheat oven to 375F / 200C / GM5-6. Prepare muffin tins, lining them with muffin cases. Makes about 12 regular muffins . 

  • 8oz plain flour
  • 1oz bran
  • 1oz porridge oats
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3oz dark brown or muscovado sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 6oz fresh cranberries (you could use blueberries, or other berries of your choice)
  • grated zest of 5 clementines
  • 7fl oz clementine or orange juice
  • 3oz melted butter (or 3fl oz veg oil)
  1. Mix together in a large bowl: flour, bran, porridge oats, baking powder and salt
  2. In a separate bowl beat together: sugar, egg, zest, juice and melted butter
  3. Pour liquid ingredients into the dry ones and stir until just combined, adding the berries towards the end. The batter can have lumps but there should be no pockets of dry flour
  4. Spoon into muffin cases (about 3/4 full should work, and produce nice full muffins)
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are golden brown and the muffins spring back when you poke them gently

 

 

The first sourdough loaf from my own starter

13 Oct

I did it!

I made a starter out of nothing but flour and water.

And I added some more flour and water and a wee sprinkling of salt.

Flour, water and salt

And I threw it about a bit (‘air-kneading’) for about 5 minutes.

And I left it a while.

sourdough resting

And I folded it.

And I left it a while (see pic above)

And I shaped it into two loaves.

sourdough loaves – one freeform, one in a tin

And I left it a while.

And then I popped it in a really hot oven.

And then we had bread!

sourdough loaf just out of the oven

No bought yeast, no bread machine, no sugar, no oil, no dried milk powder, just flour and water and a wee sprink of Maldon sea salt. Amazing!

freshly baked sourdough loaves – perfect with unsalted butter

Autumn baking

3 Oct

So, it’s October. I’m not entirely sure where September went, but it seems to have been and gone and now we are truly in the grip of Autumn. So, apart from all that lovely Autumnal weather (which is just an excuse to knit and wear a bright scarf) and Autumnal colours (yup, when you have a wood at the bottom of your garden you hardly need television this time of year) there is all that lovely Autumnal cooking and baking.

And this weekend I suggest you make your Christmas cake. Yes, really. Just do it. The smell in the kitchen is awesome, and the baking is relatively simple (although you will need several large bowls). And come Christmas you’ll be so glad you baked it early.

I’ve made this cake for the last few years – last year I made it in late November, but for various reasons it wasn’t eaten till June. It had been wrapped in cling film, then silver foil and just left under the stairs for months. And oh my it was sensational. So, bake now; eat later. You’ll thank me.

I added 1/4 again to this recipe as my tin was 23cm. When I say I added 1/4 again I mean approximately 1/4 again. Some people say that baking is an exact science and for some recipes it absolutely is, but this cake is forgiving. And so long as the totals of nuts vs dried fruit is about right it’ll be ok. I hope.

Here we go. Light Christmas Cake. Make it now. And again next month for a wee late January treat.

Apricot upside down cake

23 Jul

When life gives you apricots, you should just eat them. But when you still have more apricots than you know what to do with a week later, and they are in danger of going off, you should make cake with them.

A soft, caramelly number would be perfect. Perhaps with some ground almonds to give a hint of marzipan and add extra moistness.

And if it was served with vanilla ice cream it would be just about perfect.

So, that’s what I intended to do yesterday, with some urgency once I discovered that the Captain’s daughter was coming over for lunch with her 2 year old daughter too. But we had no butter. So the Captain was instructed to get a pack of butter when he picked up the papers. And it had to be real butter, not some spread masquerading as butter.

He returned with a plastic tub, which did not bode well. But he proclaimed that it was Lurpak, so it had to be ok. It was Lurpak Spreadable, in my mind not quite the same as butter. And when I looked at the ingredient list, it was clear it wasn’t actually butter – it is only 69% butter, with 25% vegetable oil. That’s what makes it spreadable, adding a product which is liquid at room temperature.

However, on closer inspection it said that it could be used in baking, so I gave it (and the Captain) the benefit of the doubt.

Upside down apricots in a cake

For the upside downy bit:

  • Some apricots – at least 6, preferably about a dozen, Or of course you could substitute all manner of other fruit – pineapple, peach, apples, cherries would all be nice
  • About 2oz Lurpak spreadable, or softened butter
  • About 2oz soft light brown sugar

For the cake mix:

  • 6oz Lurpak spreadable (or use softened butter)
  • 6oz soft light brown sugar
  • 3 medium free range eggs
  • 5oz SR flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2oz ground almonds
  • A splosh of almond extract (optional)

Butter the sides of an 8” square cake tin. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5.

  1. Beat together the 2oz sugar and ‘butter’ until nice and soft and spreadable
  2. Spread this mixture on the base of the cake tin, in an even layer
  3. Cut the apricots in half and place them cut side down on top of the sugar-butter mixture
  4. Beat together the remaining butter and sugar
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, then beat in the almond extract
  6. Mix the flour, baking powder and ground almonds in a bowl and then add to the buttery mixture, and beat all together
  7. Dollop the cake mixture into the tin, on top of the apricots, and spread it into the corners. Ideally, create a small well in the middle, which will keep the cake from rising too much in the middle.
  8. Place the cake tin on a baking sheet, in case some of the caramel overflows. Bake for around 30 minutes, or until the centre of the cake feels firm, and no longer wobbly. You may need to cover the cake with a tin foil hat for the last 10 minutes or so, if it looks like it is getting too brown (burnt).
  9. Leave to cool for 10 minutes or so in the tin. To turn the cake out slide a palette knife around the edge of the tin, to loosen the cake from the sides, then place a plate on top of the tin and carefully, but swiftly, turn it over so the tin is now on top of the plate. If you’ve buttered the tin properly it will glide out. If not, you’ll be having jigsaw cake with the bits all vaguely squidged back together. It’ll still taste nice though.

If you’ve managed to plan your day well, then this will be delicious served warm with some thick greek yoghurt, or crème fraiche. Or the aforementioned vanilla icecream.

And who knew? Substituting butter for Lurpak spreadable works perfectly well – this cake was more moist and much lighter than I expected (perhaps also due to the addition of baking powder). The flavour of butter and caramel was strong enough to come through the dominant almond-ness, but as a fan of marzipan that really worked for me. And the apricots? Well, they looked great, and the sliver of soft fruit melted in the mouth and eased my conscience, contributing towards my five a day.

All in all, a success.

Sweet scones for Wimbledon

8 Jul

So, rain delayed play in the Federer v Murray final this afternoon. And I decided it was probably a good time to make some scones, so there would be scones and strawberry jam with a nice cup of Earl Grey tea to help us get through to the end of the game.

Apologies that this is partially metric and partially old school. But it’s just how it is.

Sweet scones

  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 2oz cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 130ml milk
  • another egg and a slurp of milk to make an eggwash
  • a couple of TBsps granulated sugar
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 9, or as hot as you can get in whatever oven you own
  1. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a nice big wide bowl
  2. Cut the cold butter into it, in wee chunks
  3. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour till it resembles sand. As you rub in the butter lift the mixture up high, and let it fall through your fingers, getting lots of air into the mixture
  4. Now make a well in the centre of the mixture
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and the milk, then pour the combined mixture into the well 
  6. Now you’re going to get your hands dirty. Make your fingers ‘stiff’ so your hand is like a wee shovel and use your hand to quickly mix all the ingredients together
  7. Once they are all combined stop mixing and go and wash and dry your hands
  8. Sprinkle flour on a board, and tip out the scone dough
  9. With your hands bring the dough together into a neat round, about 1.5″ thick
  10. Use a cutter to cut into rounds and set aside
  11. Whisk together the egg and milk for the egg wash and put the sugar in a bowl
  12. Brush the eggwash on each scone and then dip their tops into the sugar to give them a scrunchy sugary top
  13. Place spaced a wee bit apart on a baking sheet 
  14. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes
Eat warm with butter and homemade strawberry jam. Or that tasty gooseberry and elderflower jam I made last weekend… Or clotted cream and blackcurrant jelly. Or rhubarb compote with whisked cream. Or perhaps some lemon curd and a mini scoop of vanilla icecream.
And if you don’t eat them all straight way then pop them in the freezer. They’ll only need about 20 – 40seconds in the microwave to defrost and reheat them. Delumptious.

Shiny cake

24 Jun

Bear with me here.

This cake isn’t especially shiny, but it is possibly the most delicious cake I’ve ever made. It also can pretend to be healthier than some cakes, as it is chock full of pineapple and banana. So, I think that means I can call it shiny cake if that is what I want to call it, or just because an old girlfriend could never remember that its real name was Cookie Shine Cake, and it was always referred to as the Shiny Cake.

A cookie shine is what Scots used to call a tea party. I’m a Scot and don’t recall ever hearing of a cookie shine, but Sue Lawrence tells me it is so, so it must be true. She does mention that it was mostly used in the 19th century and that it is now pretty much obsolete, so perhaps I’m forgiven for never having used it; I’m not THAT old.

The cake is moist and sweet, like a luxurious, tropical carrot cake, covered in luscious creamy cream cheese icing. Go on, it’s simple to make, uses up that desiccated coconut and the tin of smushed pineapple you have in the cupboard. Oh? Is it only me who has a random tin of crushed pineapple in the back of the cupboard?

This recipe comes from Sue Lawrence’s Scottish Kitchen. She’s a great cookery writer providing foolproof baking recipes for all manner of classic scottish homebaked goods, such as shortbread, bannocks and scotch pancakes. But there is so much more to her books than classic scottish high tea fare – not only does she provide a bit of social history around her recipes, and her travels around Scotland, but she also has great go-to recipes for almost every occasion, from quick weekday suppers to outdoor eating (yes, in Scotland!) and smart dinners. Go on, buy one of her books and see what I mean.

Anyway, here we go:

Shiny Cake

  • 250g / 9oz SR flour
  • 275g / 9.5oz light muscovado sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 225ml / 8 fl oz sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • 1 432g can of crushed pineapple, in natural juice, drained
  • 2 small ripe bananas, peeled and squished
  • 50g / 1.75oz desiccated coconut
  • 75g / 2.75oz chopped roasted hazelnuts
 Icing
  • 100g / 3.75oz butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g / 7oz cream cheese (full or low fat, you decide)
  • 300g / 10.5oz golden icing sugar
  • 1 TBsp chopped roasted hazelnuts

Prepare two 8″ cake tins (or one deep loose-bottomed tin) and preheat the oven to 280C / 350F / GM4

  1. Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt together in a big bowl
  2. Add the eggs and the oil
  3. Add the pineapple, bananas, coconut and hazelnuts and mix well together
  4. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin/s and bake for 35 – 40 minutes. You’ll need slightly longer if you are using one cake tin, so do check it’s ready by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake and if it comes out clean, it’s ready. If not, give it another few minutes and test again.But remember if you are opening and shutting the oven door on your cake, do it gently – you don’t want to blast in any cold air into the oven, or the cake will flop.
  5. Leave to rest in the tin for about 30minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
  6. While it’s cooling you can get on with the icing.
  7. Cream together the butter, vanilla extract and cream cheese, using an electric beater, till smooth.
  8. Start adding the icing sugar a little at a time and keep beating till all the icing sugar is added and the icing is smooth and luscious.
  9. If you had one cake, split it in two. Sandwich the two halves together with icing and then cover the top with icing too. Sprinkle toasted hazelnuts round the outside edge of the top, or all over. Or not at all.

Now, get yourself a nice cake plate and serve your cake, preferably with a pot of Earl Grey tea and proper porcelain tea cups.

I have to say that Sue Lawrence is very particular about her half ounce measurements – I am not. I still prefer to cook in ounces and pounds. I know what 4oz of butter looks and feels like; I can measure out an ounce of flour just using spoons and hardly need to use the weighing scales. This recipe, I’m pleased to report, seems to be fairly forgiving – so if you want to round up or down with your ounces please do so. But don’t blame me (or Sue Lawrence!) if it doesn’t quite work.

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