Happy Easter x

A very happy Easter to you all xx

I thought it would be appropriate today to mark the beginning of the Easter weekend with a festive recipe!! I came across Paul Holywood’s recipe for hot cross buns last week and then watched him prepare them with the same recipe on the Easter special of The Great British Bake-off Masterclass this week, which only cemented my determination to try them out for myself x

This is my first attempt at hot cross buns and I have to say I don’t think I will be buying them from now on!! They are gorgeous!!! Super tasty and they leave the house smelling amazing!!

Hot cross buns

 Ingredients:

For the buns:

  • 300ml full-fat milk , plus 2 tbsp more
  • 50g butter
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
  • 1 egg , beaten
  • 75g sultanas
  • 50g mixed peel
  • zest 1 orange
  • 1 apple , peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

 For the cross:

  • 75g plain flour , plus extra for dusting

 For the glaze:

  • 3 tbsp apricot jam

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Method:

  1. Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast  into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough.
  2. Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for 5 mins until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hr or until doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent.
  3. With the dough still in the bowl, tip in the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Leave to rise for 1 hr more, or until doubled in size, again covered by some well-oiled cling film to stop the dough getting a crust.
  4. Divide the dough into 15 even pieces (about 75g per piece). Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with parchment, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover (but don’t wrap) with more oiled cling film, or a clean tea towel, then set aside to prove for 1 hr more.
  5. Heat oven to 220ºC/200ºC fan/gas 7. Mix the flour with about 5 tbsp water to make the paste for the cross – add the water 1 tbsp at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses. Bake for 20 mins on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.
  6. Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.

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I enjoyed mine straight from the oven with just a little butter along with a nice cup of tea, simple but effective x

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For me it wouldn’t be Easter without hot cross buns, but I realise that many of you are from other parts of the world with possibly very different Easter traditions and foods that you eat and share to celebrate! I’d love to hear about it x

What will you be making this weekend to celebrate Easter?

I’m off to hard boil and decorate some eggs now to roll on Sunday, ta ta xx

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Cookies and milk x

This weeks offering is my favourite cookies and milk combination. White chocolate chip cookies and Banana milkshake, so a double recipe for your amusement x Don’t say I’m not good to you xx ;p

Today I can’t take credit for the cookies recipe, it’s taken from my new favourite recipe book, The back in the day bakery cookbook, from Cheryl & Griffith Day!! I have however made one very small change to the original by using white chocolate instead of milk or plain chocolate x But they all work well, so feel free to decide for yourself if you are following this recipe at home x

It is however my own Banana milkshake recipe (although I’m sure if I googled it, I’d find some uses the same ingredients)!!

White chocolate cookies

White chocolate chip cookies:

Ingredients: 

  • 2½ cups Plain flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1¼ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ pound of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated saugar
  • 1 cup light brown soft sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups chocolate chunks
  • Fleur de sel for sprinkling

White chocolate cookies

Method:

  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 178°C/350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment.
  2. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and sea salt; set aside.
  3. In a bowl of a stand food mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream together the butter, vanilla, and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs and mix for no more than a minute; the eggs will not be fully incorporated. Turn the speed down to low and add the dry ingredients in thirds, beating until just combined, 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer running, sprinkle in the chocolate chunks, beating until just combined, about a minute.
  5. Use a large ice cream scoop or a ¼cup measuring cup to form the cookies and place on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving 2 inches between the cookies to allow for spreading. Lightly tap each cookie with the palm of your hand and sprinkle the cookies with fleur de sel.
  6. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time for even doneness. The cookies should be golden brown around the edges but still light in the centres. Let the cookies cool on a wire rack. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.

White chocolate cookies

Banana Milkshake:

Ingredients:

  • 2 large bananas
  • 8 generous scopes of your favourite Vanilla dairy ice cream
  • 10ml vanilla extract
  • 250ml of whole or semi-skimmed milk

White chocolate cookies

Method:

  1. Slice the bananas in to a food processor fitted with the liquidizer attachment, add the rest of the ingredients also.
  2. Process until think and creamy x
  3. Pour in to a tall glass with with a thick straw and serve immediately!!

And Ta da!!! Lovely cookies and milk x

Strawberry tart

Hello………….I’m back!!

Most have you probably hadn’t even noticed that I had gone, but I’ve had no broadband for the last week and a bit which has been a little more than inconvenient to say the least!!!  I’ve had several blogs planned for quite a while  and I’ve been itching to share them with you!! So I’m sorry that you have had to wait so long, but I’m here now x

Today’s post is about the Strawberry tart that I made last weekend, it was extremely delicious!! And it’s already long gone….haha xx

But I think it is still worth sharing the recipe with you and as you can see I got some great photos and it looked amazing too!!!

The pastry recipe is as follows:

Ingredients

  • 250g Plain flour, plus extra to dust
  • 50g Icing sugar
  • 125g Cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for the tin
  • 2 Large free-range eggs
  • Dash of milk
  1. Sift the flour and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl and add the butter cubes. Using your finger tips, rub the butter in until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. At this stage, either continue with your hands or transfer to a food mixer with a dough hook.
  2. Beat together 1 of the eggs with the milk, add this to the flour mixture and mix until it just comes together into a crumbly ball of dough. Do not overwork it: it should look a little dry. Add a little more flour if needed.
  3. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or up to a day.
  4. It is often necessary to ‘blind bake’ the pastry. To do this, remove the clingfilm and roll the pastry out on a floured surface,using a floured rolling pin, until 5mm thick. Use it to line a lightly buttered tart tin. Cover with clingfilm return to the rigrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180○C/350○F/Gas mark 4.
  5. Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or raw rice, to prevent the pastry rising. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the greaseproof paper and baking beans or rice. Beat the remaining egg, use it to brush the pastry all over, then return to the oven for another 5 minutes to seal the pastry; this stops the base becoming soggy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before filling.

And for the crème patisserie I followed this recipe:

  • 125ml milk
  • 125ml double cream
  • 1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 15g plain flour
  1. Warm the milk and cream in a saucepan along with the vanilla pod split lengthwise. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat, cover and let stand to infuse for 10 minutes. If you’re not using the pod, add the vanilla extract later, when you’ve combined all the ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar until creamy, and then beat in the flour. With the point of a small, sharp knife, scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod into the milk, and add this warm milk to the egg mixture and whisk until smooth.
  3. Pour back into the saucepan and stir or whisk gently over a low heat until the custard thickens. Remove from the heat and let the custard cool by pouring it into a wide bowl and tearing off some greaseproof, wetting it, then covering the bowl with it. This stops it from forming a skin.Don’t put this in the fridge: something goes horribly wrong with the texture if you do, and you want utter, smooth voluptuousness here.

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup strawberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. Mix jam and lemon juice in small pan, bring to the boil and keep stirring until mixture becomes quite runny.
  2. Pour mixture on to a piece of muslin or fine sieve and drain off any excess water!!!

Then all you have to do is layer them all up and voilà!! x One tasty Strawberry tart x

Cinnamon Buns

After last weeks baking challenge, Chocolate éclairs went so well, I thought I have to give myself more of a challenge this week!! What is on my list of to-do recipes that would bring me to a new level of achievement if successful and this Cinnamon Bun recipe which involves yeast and layering seemed to fit the bill perfectly x

Ingredients:

for the dough:

  • 600g flour
  • 100g sugar (I used caster)
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt
  • 21g (3 sachets) of easy-blend yeast or 45g fresh yeast
  • 100g butter 400ml milk
  • 2 eggs

for the filling:

  • 150g soft, unsalted butter
  • 150g  sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten, to glaze

And 1 roasting tin approximately 33cm x 24cm or large brownie tin, lined with baking parchment bottom and sides.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 230○C/ Gas mark 8.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Melt the butter and whisk it into the milk and eggs, then stir it into the flour mixture. Mix to combine and then knead the dough either by hand or using the dough hook of a food mixer until it’s smooth and springy. Form into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for about 25 minutes.

Take one-third of the dough and roll it or stretch it to fit your tin; this will form the bottom of each bun when it has cooked. Roll out the rest of the dough on a lightly floured surface, aiming to get a rectangle of roughly 50 x 25cm. Mix the filling ingredients in a small bowl and then spread the rectangle with the buttery cinnamon mixture. Try to get even coverage on the whole of the dough. Roll it up from the longest side until you have a giant sausage. Cut the roll into 2cm slices which should make about 20 rounds. Sit the rounds in lines on top of the dough in the tin swirly side up. Don’t worry if they don’t fit snugly together as they will swell and become puffy when they prove. Brush them with egg and then let them rise again for about 15 minutes to let them to get duly puffy.

Put in the oven and cook for about 20 -25 minutes, by which time the buns will have risen and will be golden-brown in colour. Don’t worry if they catch in places – see mine in the pictures. Remove them from the tin and leave to cool slightly on the rack -it’s just to pick up the whole sheet of parchment and transfer them like that – before letting people tear them off, to eat warm.

It’s worth adding the don’t keep long, best eaten same day!!! x

Chocolate éclairs

Well I think it’s time for some more baking!! It thought I would try my hand at choux pastry this week and makes some yummy treats in the shape of Chocolate eclairs…….And I can report that they are yummy, I tested every single one myself!!  Nom nom……..bigger size dresses here we come!!  haha xx

So if any of you fancy being a lardy pants like me, here is the recipe;

Makes 12

  • 65g/2.5oz/9 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g/2oz/0.25 cup butter, diced
  • 150 ml/0.25 pint/two thirds cup of water
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

For the filling and topping

  • 300ml/0.5 pint/ 1.25 cups double (heavy) cream
  • 10ml/2 tsp icing (confectioners) sugar, sifted
  • 1.5ml/0.25 tsp vanilla extract
  • 115g/4oz plain (semisweet) chocolate
  • 30ml/2 tbsp water
  • 25g/1 oz/2 tbsp butter

1. Preheat the oven to 200○C 400○F/Gas mark 6. Grease a large baking sheet and line it with baking parchment.

2. To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt on to a small sheet of baking parchment.

3. Heat the butter and water in a pan very gently until the butter melts. Increase the heat and bring the pan to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add all the flour. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the flour is incorporated.

4. Return the pan to low heat, then beat themixture until it leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Set the pan aside and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes.

5. Add the beaten eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition, until you have a smooth, shiny paste, which is thick enough to hold it’s shape.

6. Spoon the choux pastry into a piping (pastry) bag fitted with a 2.5cm/1in plain nozzle. Pipe 10cm/4in lengths on to the prepared baking sheet. Use a wet knife to cut off the pastry at the nozzle.

7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry fingers are well risen and golden brown in colour. Remove from the oven

8. Make a neat slit along the side of each to release the steam. Lower the oven temperature to 180○C/350○F/Gas mark 4 and bake for a further 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

9. To make the filling, whip the cream with with the icing sugar and vanilla extract until it just holds it’s shape. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm/0.5in plain nozzle and use to fill the éclairs.

10. Place the chocolate and water in a small bowl set over a pan of simmering water until melted. Remove from heat and gradually stir in the butter. Dip the top of each éclair in the melted chocolate, then place on a rack. Leave in a cool place until the chocolate is set. Best served within 2 hours of making, but can be chilled for 24 hours if required.