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Posts Tagged ‘Baking’

We like the occasional Hot Cross Bun … warm with a wedge of butter on it, but often find the shop-bought ones too sweet. This version, however, has all the flavour and texture but eases up on the sugar. Best eaten on the day you make them as they lose a bit of freshness that toasting will fix. Not a problem though as we suspect the warm buns will tempt even the most jaded HCB eaters out there. It’s a pretty easy recipe too, though Jono reckons he’ll get the crosses better next time.

Hot Cross Buns, makes 12 buns

  • 450g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 20g fresh yeast, or 7g fast-action dried yeast
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g butter, melted and cooled
  • 150ml tepid milk
  • 5 tbsp tepid water
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 75g currants
  • 50g chopped mixed peel

For the cross:

  • 50g plain flour
  • 25g soft butter

To Glaze:

  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp water

Measure the flour, salt, spices, sugar and dried yeast (if using), into a large bowl and stir to mix and then make a well in the centre.

If using fresh yeast, mix this with the milk and water until combined. Pour the butter, the beaten egg, milk and water into the well followed by the currants and mixed peel. Mix to a soft dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm. Keep in a warm room and leave to rise for 1.5 hours and until it has doubled in size.

Lightly grease 2 baking trays.

When the dough has risen turn out onto a lightly floured work surface again and knead for 2-3 minutes. Divide into 12 equal pieces and shape into round buns.

Make a cross in the top of each bun with a knife then place on the prepared baking trays and cover with oiled clingfilm. Leave to rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes. Pre-heat an oven to 220C/200C fan.

While the buns are rising make the pastry for the crosses by mixing the flour and butter with a little water and roll out. Cut into thin strips and place into the cuts on the top of the buns.

Bake the buns for about 15 minutes until brown and hollow sounding when the base is tapped.

While the buns are baking make the glaze by dissolving the sugar in the water over a gentle heat. As soon as the buns come out of the oven brush them all over with the glaze.

It may be hard to resist, so don’t … cut one open and spread with butter before eating.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, BBC Books, 2009.)

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Jono has taken to baking in lockdown, not something we do much of normally. You can’t beat the smell of this baking in the oven. The recipe makes loads so you may not get through it all straight away, but don’t worry, gently warm in an oven for 5 minutes and serve with a dollop of cream and it’ll last a week or more.

Gingerbread Traybake 

  • 275g golden syrup
  • 275g black treacle
  • 225g light muscovado sugar
  • 225g softened butter
  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 160C/Fan 140C/Gas 3. 

Grease a 30 x 23cm traybake or roasting tin and line with baking parchment. 

Put the syrup, treacle, sugar and butter in a large pan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour and spices. Add the beaten eggs and milk, and beat until smooth, then pour into the prepared tin. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the cake has shrunk from the sides of the tin and springs back when pressed in the centre with your fingertips. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack. 

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, BBC Book, 1993.)

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We don’t do much baking but we’ve managed more than usual with all of these lockdowns. This old-fashioned coffee and walnut cake is a favourite of Jules’ and was really straightforward to make – even for us baking novices. 

Coffee & Walnut Cake

  • 100g softened butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 50g chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp coffee extract (or 2 tsp instant coffee granules mixed with 1 tbsp hot water. Use a bit more in the cake mix than in the icing)

FOR THE ICING: 

  • 75g softened butter
  • 225g sifted icing sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2 tsp coffee extract
  • 8 walnut halves, to decorate

Heat the oven to 160C/Gas 4.

Grease two 18cm sandwich tins and line the base of each with baking paper. 

Put all the cake ingredients into a bowl and beat until well blended and smooth. 

Divide the cake mix between the sandwich tins and level the surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until well risen and the top springs back when pressed lightly with a finger. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then turn out, peel off the paper and finish cooling on a wire rack. 

To make the icing, beat the butter, sifted icing sugar, milk and coffee essence in a bowl until smooth. 

When the cakes are completely cold sandwich them together with half the icing and use the rest for the top. Decorate with the walnuts. 

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, BBC Books, 2009.)

 

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These have been part of my life as long as I can remember. There are different ways of making them, and I’m not sure if this is how I made them with my Mum when I was a kid, but this version is really crunchy and keeps well … if you can resist.

ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps which first fought in Gallipoli in WWI. It was this conflict that defined both nations by giving them a distinct voice as countries, and no longer colonies of Britain. After this war both nations were equal member of the Treaty of Versailles despite their distance and size, and thus included as nations in their own right. This hadn’t really happened before this date, so a defining moment that allowed them both to develop independently.

ANZAC day is always 25 April and is used to remember all who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. 

ANZAC Biscuits – makes up to 45 depending on size

  • 150g butter
  • 1 tbsn golden syrup
  • 175g granulated sugar
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • 75g dessicated coconut
  • 100g porridge oats

Pre-heat the oven to 180C and lightly grease two baking trays

Put the butter, golden syrup and sugar into a saucepan and heat gently until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. Stir in the flour, coconut and oats and mix well.

Place large teaspoons of the mix onto the baking trays, well spread out. Flatten slightly. You may need to make two batches.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until they have spread out a little and are lightly browned at the edges. Leave to cool on the trays for 5 minutes before removing with a pallet knife and cooling fully on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, BBC Books, 2009.)

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Jono's easy Christmas Cake

Actually it is Nigella Lawson’s Christmas cake but it has been made by Jono so many times … either with loads of time to spare, or as a last minute “I haven’t done the Christmas Cake!” rush. It always seems to come out as hoped. We do mean to try new recipes but end up doing this each year as it works with whatever dried fruits we have to hand. A good chance to clear out any that have accumulated in the cupboards during the year. 

Not being fans of marzipan and icing, we tend not to ice our Christmas cake, preferring to glaze it with apricot jam and decorate with nuts and/or glacé fruits, or just leaving it as it is. 

Wine suggestion: a little glass of Oloroso sherry never goes astray when baking this … it’s suitably Christmassy. This year it was the Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana’s Oloroso Faraon, a dry style but with a rich roundness and gentle spices.

Jono’s Christmas Cake

  • 775g best-quality mixed dried fruit – use up anything you have
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 250g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 x 250g tin sweetened chestnut purée
  • 125ml dark rum
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 250g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

To decorate:

  • 4 tbsp smooth, good quality apricot jam
  • 150g assorted glacé fruit, blanched almonds or pecans

Line the sides and bottom of a deep 20cm round cake tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper. Make sure this is higher than the tin. Then wrap a double layer of brown paper, as used to wrap parcels, around the outside of the tin and tie with string. Try and make the paper layer double the height of the tin to help the cake to cook slowly. 

Put the dried fruit, butter, sugar, chestnut purée, rum and orange juice and zests into a large wide saucepan and bring gently to the boil, stirring. Simmer for 10 minutes, then take off the heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas 2.

Add the beaten eggs, flour, baking powder and spices to the fruit and stir to combine. 

Carefully pour this mixture into the prepared tin, then bake for 1¾-2 hours. The top of the cake should be firm, dry and cracked a little. Test if done with a skewer, if it comes out clean then the cake is done. If some uncooked cake still clings to the skewer then return for a few more minutes until done.

Once cooked use the skewer to pierce the cake all over the top and drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons of extra rum. This gives the cake an extra boozy layer of flavour. Most of this alcohol evaporates off, but if you want to skip this step feel free.

Put the cake onto a cooling rack and remove the brown paper. When the cake has completely cooled, remove it from the tin and wrap well in greaseproof paper and tin foil. 

If you want to glaze the cake, put the apricot jam into a saucepan and add 1tbsp of water. Heat gently, stirring to make a sticky glaze, then take off the heat to cool. 

Brush the top of the cake with the apricot glaze, then decorate with fruit and nuts. Paint with a second coating of apricot glaze to give a shiny finish. 

(Original recipe by Nigella Lawson)

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Double Chocolate Shortbreads

We’re not prolific bakers, in case you hadn’t noticed. Jono & Orlaith have been doing a bit of baking during the week to keep Orlaith entertained and to stop her begging from more dubious treats from the corner shop. These were definitely a hit and very easy. Freeze half to pull out and bake another day.

Double Chocolate Shortbreads – makes 12

  • 175g butter, softened
  • 85g golden caster sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100g milk or dark chocolate chips

Mix the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon. Stir in the flour and the cocoa, then the chocolate chips – use your hands if you need.

Halve the dough and roll each piece into a 5cm thick log. Wrap in cling film and chill for an hour (it will be fine for a few days in the fridge either or you can freeze it).

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Slice the dough into 1cm-thick rounds and transfer to a lined baking tray. Bake for 10-12 minutes and leave to cool on the tray.

(Original recipe by BBC Good Food)

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Banana Bread

The perfect solution for  the black bananas in your fruit bowl – the blacker the better in fact!

Banana Bread 

  • 100g softened butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/Fan 160ºC/Gas 4. Lightly grease a 2lb loaf tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment.

Measure the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat for about 2 minutes or until well blended. Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.

Bake for about 1 hour or until well risen and golden brown. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin before turning out and cooling on a wire rack.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, BBC Books, 2009.)

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This takes time to make but with little effort and is well worth it. It supposedly keeps well too but ours didn’t last long enough to test this theory. If you’re not keen on fennel seeds you can leave them out or else substitute sesame or poppy seeds.

Pagnotta con finocchietto  – makes 1 oval loaf

  • 450g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp salt plus a bit extra for the top
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 10g fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 280ml water, warm
  • 30g salted butter, melted
  • 1 egg white
  • olive oil for brushing

Brush a baking tray and the inside of a large bowl with oil.

Sift the flour into another bowl with the salt, sugar and yeast and make a well in the centre. Sprinkle over ½ tsp of the fennel seeds and pour in the water and butter. Mix with the tips of your fingers until you have a soft dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Shape it into a ball and put it in the oiled bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place without draughts for an hour (the hot press is good).

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch dozen. Shape into an oval and place on the oiled baking tray. Brush the top with a little oil and cover with clingfilm. Leave to rise in a the same warm and draught-free place for another 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/gas mark 7.

In a small bowl, mix the egg white with a pinch of salt.

Brush the top of the loaf with the egg white and sprinkle over the remaining fennel seeds. Use a sharp knife to make a cut right down the length of the dough.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180ºC/gas mark 4 and continue to bake for another 10 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving warm with some cured ham or salami.

Wine Suggestion: A light fruity red will be perfect here – try a Chianti perhaps from the Rufina district.

(Original recipe from Gino d’Acampo’s, Italian Home Baking, Kyle Books, 2011.)

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