Friday, 18 April 2014

Millionaires Shortbread

This recipe has a softer caramel than most millionaires shortbread. These quantities are for a large roasting tin, if you use a smaller dish then you can easily half the quantities.
 

Ingredients:

  • 450g plain flour
  • 350g of butter at room temperature, in cubes (for the shortbread)
  • 150g white caster sugar
  • 300g of butter (for the caramel)
  • 2 cans of condensed milk, which should each be 379g
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 400g dark chocolate, broken into individual squares

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.
  2. Grease a 26 cm by 20 cm roasting tin or similar sized dish which has at least 3 cm of depth.
  3. Combine the flour and 350g of butter in a large bowl and rub together with the tips of your fingers until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the sugar to the mixture and mix well.
  5. Pour the sugar and flour mixture into the roasting tin and shake it around to distribute evenly. Press down firmly with your knuckles so that it is well packed.
  6. Place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until it has started to turn to a golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  8. Put the butter, condensed milk and golden syrup into a saucepan and put over a low heat until the butter has all melted.
  9. When it is all melted turn the heat up to medium and bring it to the boil.
  10. Simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes until it has turned darker. Test that it is done by dropping a small drop off a teaspoon into a glass of cold water. The cooled blob should be a soft but firm consistency.
  11. Take the saucepan off the hob and put aside to cool for a couple of minutes.
  12. Pour the slightly cooled caramel mixture over the cool shortbread and spread out evenly across the pan.
  13. Leave to cool completely for at least a few hours.
  14. When the caramel is cool, heat some water in a saucepan and put the chocolate in a bowl that rests in the saucepan. You don't want the water to be touching the bottom of the bowl.
  15. Leave the chocolate to melt. It's less likely to separate if you only stir it when it has really started to melt, so resist the temptation.
  16. When it is fully melted and smooth, remove from the heat and pour over the caramel, spreading it out evenly with the back of a spoon.
  17. Leave to cool for another few hours and cut into squares with a sharp knife before serving.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Date Slice

This is a cross between a flapjack and a fruit crumble. It's a good alternative to cake, especially if you like dates.

Ingredients:

  • 375g ready-to-eat dates, roughly chopped
  • 6 tablespoons of orange juice
  • 175g porridge oats
  • 360g plain flour
  • 120g dark brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 240g butter, melted

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Put the dates and orange juice into a saucepan and put on a low heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until soft.
  3. While the dates are simmering, mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make sure there are no lumps or uneven bits.
  4. Carefully melt the butter and pour it into the bowl with the large ingredients.
  5. Mix well until it's got a nice crumbly texture.
  6. Put half the crumble mixture into a 23x27cm tin. Press it down with your finger tips so it is in an even layer.
  7. Put the date and orange mixture over the top of the crumble mixture in the tin and make sure it is evenly spread. It can be a little tricky to spread without pulling up a few crumbs of the mixture, so don't worry if you do.
  8. Top with the remaining crumble mixture and press down firmly with your finger tips.
  9. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. Once it is entirely cool use a sharp knife to cut into squares and carefully lift out of the tin.
Makes about 24 pieces.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas Stollen

This traditional Christmas cake is yeast based and so lighter than the usual rich fruit cake. This recipe is nice and straight forward to do if you have a bread maker, but still not too complex if you make it by hand.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp fast action dried yeast
  • 350g strong white flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 110g butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes
  • 25g almonds, finely chopped
  • 25g candied peel
  • 50g currants
  • 50g sultanas
  • 6 glace cherries, cut into quarters
  • 45g ready to eat apricots, cut into small pieces
  • 225g pre-made marzipan
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Method:

  1. If using a bread maker than add the yeast the bread maker pan first, followed by the flour, sugar and salt.
  2. Beat the egg in a bowl with the milk and add to the flour mixture.
  3. Add the butter, almonds and candied peel.
  4. If your bread maker has a nut dispenser which can add nuts later on in the process then place the currents, sultanas, cherries and apricots into that. If not then you'll need to fold these into the dough afterwards.
  5. Set the bread maker going on a dough with nut dispenser setting.
  6. If you're not using a bread maker then make the dough using the following steps:
    1. Put the yeast, flour, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl.
    2. Add the milk and egg.
    3. Kneed into a moist dough.
    4. Add the almonds and candided peel to the dough and kneed them into it.
    5. Leave it to rise in a warm place for an hour.
    6. Kneed the dough to knock some of the air out if it and then add in the remaining fruit and kneed well.
    7. Return to a warm place for a further hour.
  7. Once the dough is done pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees.
  8. Carefully roll out the dough so that it's about 1 cm thick, or at least large enough so that it's roughly a square covering the baking tray you are going to use to bake it.
  9. Put a sheet of greaseproof paper onto the baking tray.
  10. Use your hands to roll the marzipan into a long sausage shape which is almost as long as the rolled out dough.
  11. Place the marzipan in the middle of the dough and fold over the third of one side, followed by the third from the other side.
  12. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. If the stollen is almost the size of your oven then it's probably worth checking it's cooking evenly after 20 minutes and turning it by 180 degrees if it's not cooking evenly.
  13. While the stollen cooks in the oven, mix the icing sugar and lemon juice with a knife until it's a spreadable icing consistency.
  14. Once it's cooked, let the stollen rest on the side for 5 to 10 minutes.
  15. Mix up the icing again with the knife to get it to be a bit more runny and then spread over the top of the stollen.
  16. Leave icing to set and for the stollen to cool.
  17. Enjoy slices of stollen with coffee or a glass of mulled wine.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Rich Fruit Cake

As long as you have the patience to bake this for as long as it needs then it's actually a very straightforward recipe. Combine this with the ability to buy pre-rolled marzipan and royal icing and it becomes simple to make a great looking cake.

Ingredients:

  • 350g butter, at room temperature
  • 350g soft brown sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 400g plain flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cloves, ground (or 1/3 tsp if pre-ground)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 150g almond flakes
  • 100g mixed peel, chopped
  • 100g glace cherries, chopped
  • 250g raisins
  • 250g sultanas
  • 600g currants
  • 6 tbsp brandy

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees.
  2. Cut a sheet or two of greaseproof paper so that it lines the side and bottom of your cake tin.
  3. Cut a sheet of greaseproof paper so that it fits on the top of your cake tin as a lid with a few cm of spare paper running down each side.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a very large bowl with a spoon. You want a smooth butter and sugar mixture.
  5. Mix the eggs into the butter and sugar mixture 2 at a time. If you add them all at once then it can be hard to mix and keep the consistency.
  6. Add the flour, cinnamon and cloves on top of the mixture and stir slowly.
  7. Add all the rest of the ingredients apart from the brandy and mix until uniform.
  8. Pour into the lined cake tin.
  9. Place in the oven for 1.5 hours.
  10. Remove from the oven and carefully place the paper lid over the top. Tie a length of string around it to keep the lid on. This helps to keep the cake moist while it continues to bake. Be careful not to burn yourself on the cake tin though, as it'll be hot.
  11. Return to the oven for a further 2 hours.
  12. Insert a skewer into the centre of the cake and remove it. If it comes out clean then it's cooked all the way through. If it doesn't then leave it for a further 15 minutes and re-test with the skewer. Depending on your oven you might need to do this cycle of testing and then waiting 15 minutes a few more times.
  13. Once cooked all the way through, remove from the oven and leave for a few hours to fully cool.
  14. When it's room temperature, carefully prick the top of the cake with a skewer and drizzle the brandy over it.
  15. Place the cake in an airtight container or cover with marzipan and icing before eating.
Makes a cake suitable for a 23cm square tin.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Barbecue Pizza

When I heard about the ability to cook pizza on a barbecue I knew I had to have a go. It works really well and gives the pizzas a strong smoky flavour. To get the cheese on top to melt enough then you'll almost certainly need a barbecue with a lid on it. Instead of a traditional tomato sauce, I went for a BBQ sauce style sauce to compete with the smoke flavour from the barbecue.

Ingredients:

  • 1 quantity of pizza dough
  • 100g of kale, washed and roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp brown sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
  • 2 balls of mozzarella (about 125g each), thinly sliced

Method:

  1. Make the pizza dough as per the other recipe.
  2. Light your barbecue.
  3. In a saucepan combine the kale, brown sauce and sugar.
  4. Heat the kale mixture over a low to medium heat until it reduces down nicely. You might want to add a spoon or two of water to start with, but it should take about 10 minutes to reduce down to a thick sticky sauce.
  5. Mash up the kale mixture with a fork so that it's a spreadable sauce.
  6. Split the pizza dough into two balls and roll each one out on some boards or baking trays (to make transferring them to the barbecue easier).
  7. Slide one of the rolled out pizza bases onto your barbecue and cover with the lid.
  8. Cook for 5 minutes and then turn the pizza base over.
  9. Before covering the base again, spread half of the kale over the top of it and then add on half the slices of cheese.
  10. Put the lid back on the barbecue and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  11. Remove from the barbecue and repeat the process with the other pizza base.
  12. Cut up the pizza, serve and enjoy.
Makes two pizzas, enough for 3 to 4 people.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

This 'cake' doesn't require any baking and is full of chocolate goodness.

Ingredients:

  • 200g unsalted butter, cut into squares
  • 300g dark chocolate, broken into squares
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 300g rich tea biscuits
  • 75g hazelnuts, roughly chopped into chunks
  • 75g raisins

Method:

  1. Put the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a bowl and place over a saucepan with some water in it.
  2. Bring the water in the pan to a simmer and use it to slowly melt the chocolate and butter together. Don't stir the chocolate mixture until it looks like it's mostly melted.
  3. Carefully and slowly stir the chocolate mixture until it's got the same consistency.
  4. Remove from the heat and put to one side.
  5. Meanwhile, place the rich tea biscuits in a large freezer/plastic bag. Place this bag inside another bag so that it doesn't matter if it breaks.
  6. Use a rolling pin to break the biscuits up into small chunks.
  7. Combine the biscuits with the chocolate mixture and add the nuts and raisins.
  8. Mix well.
  9. While the chocolate is still molten, pour it into a roasting tin or baking tray with high sides.
  10. Press down with a spoon.
  11. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours until it's all set.
  12. Cut into slices with a sharp knife and place into an airtight container.
  13. Once this has set there is no need to keep it in the fridge.
Makes 16 squares of biscuit cake.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Grated Carrot Fritters

The inside of these fritters goes nice and soft while the outside crisps up nicely in the pan. They go well on their own or as a side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 leek, washed and finely chopped
  • 3 tsp sunflower oil
  • 6 carrots, washed, ends removed and grated
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp plain flour

Method:

  1. Fry the leek in a tsp of sunflower oil in a large frying pan until soft. Keep the pan around, as you're going to use it again soon.
  2. Put the leek in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  3. Put the remaining oil in the frying pan and heat it up over a medium heat.
  4. Use your hands to form the carrot mixture into about 6 to 8 burger shaped pieces. Squeeze them with your hands to make sure they are compressed together.
  5. Fry for about 7 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned.
  6. Serve with some ketchup on the side.
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side.