Monthly Archives: March 2015

Iced Orange Biscuits – Perfect for Easter

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Crisp, melt in your mouth shortbread biscuits flavoured with orange zest – simple enough to bake with children, tasty enough that you won’t want to share!

These simple but delicious shortbread biscuits are perfect for Easter and would make an ideal baking project to do with children; Baking these brought back so many memories of baking with my mum when I was a child. These biscuits are deliciously buttery (although, of course, they are not made with real butter!), crisp, yet they melt in the mouth like a good shortbread should.

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To get into the Easter spirit I used a mixture of baby chick, rabbit and egg shaped cutters and then simply piped icing all around the edge of each biscuit. Flavoured with orange zest and vanilla they suit all tastes, so make sure to hide some for yourself before they all disappear! You can of course use any zest you like or even add some extras like raisins or chocolate chips like I have in my egg shaped biscuits.

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Filed under Biscuits & Cookies, vegan

Cinnamon & Raisin Bagels

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A denser than normal bread with a crisp and chewy crust. Flavoured with cinnamon and stuffed with raisins, these are perfect just lightly buttered and topped with cinnamon sugar.

Bagels have been a very recent discovery for me. I often don’t bother to check the ingredients on baked goods, presuming they have butter or milk in them, but recently found New York Bakery Company’s bagels are dairy free! And so the last few weeks have been bagel filled whilst I’ve been trying different toppings, and it seems that everyone has their favourite combination. After experimenting with everything from eggs, jams and marmalades, peanut butter and chocolate spread, I have settled on my favourite…. Cinnamon and Raisin Bagels lightly buttered with a cinnamon sugar topping.

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These freshly bakes bagels are so much better than the shop bought variety; more crusty and chewy on the outside, much less dense in the middle. They were perfect just reheated in the oven for a few minutes, split open and then buttered. If you, like me, have no problem with something sweet occasionally for breakfast, sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon and sugar on top too. I love cinnamon so am generous with the cinnamon – Although there is quite a lot in the dough already, it only gives a gentle flavour once the bagels have been baked so I like to ramp it up.

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Bagels on paper did not look that difficult to make – but they were certainly one of the more challenging types of bread that I have made. There are two things that made it different to normal dough; One thing is that you make a pre-ferment (sounds complicated but was actually incredibly simple), and the second is that the dough has very low hydration levels, which makes it very stiff and a good work out for your arms to knead it. I would not recommend making these as a first time bread maker, but if you’ve made any sort of bread before you will be fine.

The inspiration for this recipe comes from Richard Bertinet’s book ‘Crust’ but has been adapted to make them cinnamon and raisin flavoured. If you wanted to make plain bagels simply omit the cinnamon and raisins and reduce the honey to 20g.

With all of that being said these bagels were so delicious and worth the effort that I will definitely be doing them again. It makes me wish we held brunches at our house just to have an excuse to make them regularly!

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Filed under Bread, breakfast, Sweet treats

Easter Springtime Table Setting

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I love the seasons; few things bring me as much excitement as spotting the first blossoms and daffodils of the year or catching sight of the first red leaves in autumn. I will be cooking Easter lunch for my family this year for the first time, and to celebrate I thought I would make some pretty table settings to show off the Easter and Spring Colours.

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These were incredibly simple to make – using plates, napkins and ribbons in a combination of Easter pastel colours, slot a trimmed, single spring flower (yellow or white daffodils, crocuses, tulips, or a short twig with pink or white blossoms) between your cutlery on a napkin, and use a ribbon to tie it together.

These simple, beautiful decorations make the table ready for a special occasion – once everyone is ready to eat just pop the flowers into a tall glass filled with water for a quick centre piece. These would be perfect for either an Easter lunch or for breakfast with my Hot Cross Bun Recipe.

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Hot Cross Buns

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Perfect Hot Cross Buns, spiced bread dough studded with cranberries, sultanas and apples. Perfect for an Easter Breakfast.

Easter is most certainly on its way; even at Christmas you do not see such an abundance of chocolate in the shops! As well as chocolate there are fluffy baby chicks and pastel table decorations aplenty. But nothing says Easter to me as much as the piles and piles of Hot Cross Buns sold everywhere, as these still remain one of the few foods that you can’t buy all year round.

I haven’t eaten a shop bought Hot Cross Bun for a long time, not being able to eat the butter they are usually full of, so this year I thought I would tackle making them from scratch – and what a great result! I’m not going to lie… they take quite a long time and a lot of organisation but it is so worth the effort. This recipe suggests proving the dough overnight which means that if you want to eat them for breakfast on a Sunday (before midday!), you’ll start the dough on Friday night and bake them on the Saturday. The effort is really worth it though; the dough becomes light yet chewy, and the spices have time to permeate the dough ensuring their flavour stands out against the sweet fruits. IMG_0504 These Hot Cross Buns are a mixture of the traditional and the new; more fruity than usual with cranberries, apples and sultanas, and very aromatic with orange zest and mixed spice instead of just cinnamon. You can easily play around with these flavours and add or take away as you wish – for example, add ground cardamon instead of mixed spice, or change the flavours all together and replace with chocolate, cranberry, cinnamon and ginger for a twist.

After the effort and time of baking these, serve them on a beautifully decorated table (look here for a quick and simple idea, ideal for Easter), just warmed through in the oven, split in half and lightly spread with dairy free butter. In all honesty, who could imagine a better Easter breakfast than that? It might just make you wish we could eat these all year round… IMG_0577 IMG_0519_1 Continue reading

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Classic Apple Pie

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A classic apple pie; a just-sweet apple filling with hints of vanilla and cinnamon, encased in crisp shortcrust pastry. Perfect served with a scoop of ice cream or lashings of custard.

My new years resolution for 2015 is to master making pastry from scratch; with my family down this weekend, a succulent leg of lamb roasting away for Sunday lunch, an apple pie felt very appropriate – and what a great way to keep working on my pastry skills.

It is hard to go wrong with an apple pie – it’s so versatile you can really add and change the flavours to suit your taste. For my mum who has been away in India it seemed the perfect English dessert to allow the flavour of her much beloved apples (which are in very short supply in India!) to shine through.

I tried a new shortcrust pastry recipe for this which I will certainly use again. The pastry takes less than 5 minutes to make and once baked is delightfully short and crisp in texture. No soggy bottoms in sight! By letting it chill for a few hours in the fridge it is strong enough to be rolled very thinly without cracking which also makes it easy to line the tin with. You can, of course, cheat and buy a ready made shortcrust pastry (just read the ingredients carefully to find one without milk products!) but this really is quicker than popping to the shops and far more satisfying!

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The filling is very simple, only consisting of 4 ingredients – apples, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. I used Bramley apples for the pie filling and would highly recommend seeking these out rather than using other varieties. Bramley apples are strong in apple flavour and most importantly are sharp rather than sweet. This means you can add small amounts of sugar to create a just-sweet pie – which is then perfect to serve with copious amounts of ice cream or custard. Bramley apples also retain their shape well when cooked which means you still have whole chunks of apple in the pie which gives a pleasing texture.

To fit this in around cooking a Sunday roast it is easiest to fully bake it before you cook your roast and then reheat for about 15 minutes at 200 degrees when you are ready for dessert.

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Lemon & Raspberry Drizzle Cake

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A tangy lemon and raspberry drizzle cake – sweet yet sharp lemon sponge with fresh raspberries dotted throughout. Topped off with a crunchy sugar coating and dusted with icing sugar for added sweetness.

Spring seems to have arrived today. The sun is shining and so I felt it was only appropriate to bake something that reflected the change in seasons. Lemons and raspberries are two of my favourite things and nothing makes me happier than combining the two.

This is a simple twist on the traditional Lemon Drizzle cake – I added in fresh raspberries which, when baked, become these bright pink jewels hidden in the sponge with a wonderful jammy texture that make a pleasing contrast to the crunchy top and moist sponge.

This cake is super quick to make which is helped further by using the all in one method to make the sponge. It is perfect if you are in a rush – either because you’re busy, or, like me, because you just want cake and you want it soon!

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