Friday, 13 November 2015

Vegan Snickerdoodles

This came about as I was in experimentation phase and due to stay at friends – one of whom is vegan. I don’t like to arrive somewhere empty handed so the hunt was on for some vegan baked goods. I couldn’t be bothered to hunt through my old copies of Jamie magazine to find the ‘vegan’ issue so just went free style on an old favourite.
This recipe needed substitutes for butter and egg. The butter is easy as coconut oil has a lot of the same qualities. The egg was harder as I’d never had to do it before. Plus I had thought that this recipe didn’t have egg in so it was initially a bit of a surprise. However help is only a google away. There are tons of suggestions but I went for vegetable oil as it seemed to promise to do what was needed.
The final products were very good. A bit more crumbly than regular ones, as I guess the egg does a binding job that the oil doesn’t, but they held their shape. I took them into work, my usual test for my baking, and everyone was very complimentary.
125g plain flour
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
60g coconut oil
50g caster sugar + 1tbsp
30ml vegetable oil
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon 
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/GM 4.
  2. Add the nutmeg, baking powder and salt to the flour and mix well.
  3. Whisk the coconut oil and 50g caster sugar together. You’re not going to be creaming it as much as you would with butter, but make sure you spend a couple of minutes doing it.
  4. Then add the vegetable oil and vanilla, mixing well, before adding the flour mixture. You’ll need to use your hands at the end to bring the dough together.
  5. On a plate mix the remaining sugar and cinnamon together.
  6. Then divide the dough into 16 balls. Just break the dough into quarters then each of the quarters into four. Roll into balls, then roll in the sugar and cinnamon mix to cover the outside completely.
  7. Pop on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Angel Food Cake (Dairy free)

One of my baking issues is what to do with the yolks when you just need egg whites. If I was super organised I’d make crème brulee or freeze them or something but I never do. Frustratingly most of the things I want to experiment with use egg whites – macarons, meringues, marshmallows – so I end up not practising these because of the dreaded waste of left over yolk. 

However I recently saw that you can buy just egg whites in a carton. I’ve seen this in the USA for years as egg white omelettes are a ‘thing’ there but I hadn't seen anyone selling cartons of egg white in the UK. I’ll probably find out now that this has been available in the UK since the dawn of time but it’s new to me. I got ridiculously excited about it, bought a carton and started planning what I’d make. However after some macarons went badly wrong and I’d made marshmallows I sort of got bored of experimenting.

Luckily an excuse to use the rest of the carton came up. Someone at work had a birthday and she is intolerant of dairy. This cake is basically a meringue that has some flavour added to give it more of a cake texture. It’s not that common in the UK as far as I know but is found in a lot of American baking books.  

You will need a round cake tin with a hole in the middle. 

150g plain flour
320g sugar
12 large egg whites (I recommend buying a carton of egg whites like Two Chicks)
1 ½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
Seasonal berries - optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/GM 5.
  2. Put the flour and 170g of sugar in a bowl and set to one side.
  3. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until you can form soft peaks. Then put in the remaining 150g of sugar until you have glossy stiff peaks forming.
  4. Using a low setting beat in the flour and sugar mixture (you are actually meant to fold it in but as long as you don’t over beat you’ll be fine).
  5. DO NOT GREASE THE CAKE TIN. I know this is scary as how in the hell are you going to get the cake out?!!! Trust me. It will be fine. Put the cake mixture in the tin and gently move a knife through the mixture as this will remove any air pockets.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes. You may want to cover the cake with foil after about 30 minutes to stop any over browning.
  7. Cool completely before getting the cake out. Run a knife down the side and round the centre. The cake is fairly robust to go as far down as possible and push the cake inward a bit to ensure it is away from the side. Then put upside down on a plate or board and whack the hell out of it. Repeat if it doesn’t come out being braver with how far down the knife does and how much you move it away from the side of the pan.
  8. To serve pile the berries in the middle.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Banana and Date Bread (gluten and refined sugar free)

For me a baked good is a treat with butter, sugar, chocolate, etc – if it tastes good I want it in there. However I’m not unaware of the move to healthier baking and cutting out refined sugar and making gluten free versions of favourite bakes is becoming increasingly popular.
There are lots of alternatives to refined sugar but in this I’ve just gone for the natural sugars in fruit to sweeten this banana bread. A girl I work with has inspired me as she has launched a site with her friend all about healthy eating, MT Real – check it out here. She eats the most amazing array of food and is constantly coming in with delicious bakes that are gluten and refined sugar free. So here is my contribution to celebrate her site launch.

175g ground almonds
2 tsp gluten free baking powder
½ tsp bicarb of soda
½ tsp salt
125g butter, melted
150g dried dates
2 large eggs
400g ripe bananas
60g chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/GM 3.
  2. Add the baking powder, bicarb and salt to the almonds and mix. Set to one side.
  3. Take half the dates and put in a food processor with the bananas and whizz up until smooth.
  4. Chop the remaining dates. Add 1 tbsp of almonds to this and mix to that the sticky edges of the chopped dates are covered. This keeps them separate and also helps them not drop once added to the mixture.
  5. Whisk the eggs into the melted butter in a bowl.
  6. Add the banana and date mixture, along with the vanilla extract and cinnamon, and mix again.
  7. Add the ground almond mix and whisk until it’s all mixed well.
  8. Pop in the chopped dates and walnuts and mix again.
  9. Put into a lined loaf tin and bake for about an hour. It might need 10-15 mins longer.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Hot Cross Scones

So I was looking at my blog and lamenting the fact that I hadn’t written up any recent baking exploits. I then realised I hadn’t really experimented that much and had been baking things I’ve baked before. This isn’t a bad thing – it’s very comforting to know the outcome and not stress about things. I saw the Hot Cross Bun bread and, with Easter coming up, thought it might be nice to make Hot Cross Buns. Then I remembered that they take a while, what with the rising of the dough etc etc. What to do? 

Hot Cross Scones of course! They don’t need rising, there is no yeast, and scones are super quick to make. I had some peel left over from Christmas so away I went. They have been a success which I can safely say after devouring the one I took a picture of. Well it was already spread with butter. I went with butter as the ‘serve’ but I guess jam and cream would work. Try it.  

I use a small cutter when making scones as I find a large scone off putting. These are very light so you can eat four and feel ok about it, in a way you couldn’t if you attempted to eat two large ones. Not sure how that works but it does.

100g cold butter, cubed
450g plain flour
2 tbsp baking powder
2 heaped tsp mixed spice
4 tbsp caster sugar
100g sultanas
50g mixed peel
2 large eggs, beaten
100ml whole milk
4tbsp plain flour
  1. Preheat oven to 220°/GM7.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder and mixed spice and rub in the butter. Use tip of fingers – you know you’re doing it right if the palms of your hands stay clean. (I’m sure you could bung it in a food processor). You want it to go breakcrumby.
  3. Add the sultanas, peel and sugar mixing in.
  4. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs (keeping a little back to glaze the tops). Add about half the milk and then mix together. Start with a palette knife and then get your hands in. Add more milk if the dough needs it. You’ll probably not need it all.
  5. When it’s all come together turn out on a floured surface and knead until smooth. This is an important part so make sure you do it for 2 or 3 minutes.
  6. Roll the dough out until it’s about 2.5cm thick. Cut out with a 5cm cutter, rerolling when you run out of space (you can use a larger one). You should get 20-28 scones from it.
  7. Place on a baking tray – non-stick is best – but if not grease the tray. Brush the tops with the remaining egg.
  8. Take the 4 tbsp of flour and mix with about 5-6 tbsp of cold water to make a batter. I had mine fairly runny but it can be a bit thick. You need it to make the cross on top so put in a piping bag or something with a nozzle (I found some great squeezy bottles in Tiger) and pipe crosses on top. I did them all at once when they were on the tray – see below picture for the mess I made.
  9. Cook for about 12-15 minutes (give it another couple if you think they need it). Make sure you eat one while hot just to live up to the name!

Monday, 30 March 2015

Triple Chocolate Muffins

This is super easy a delivers a ridiculous chocolate kick. It’s a twist on a Hummingbird Bakery recipe but I added more chocolate and thought to hell with frosting. It’s Monday night and I have Hot Cross Scones to make – more about those in another post. So here we go. 

80g soft butter (I mean it – let that stuff get warmed up)
280g caster sugar
200g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
40g cocoa powder
240ml whole milk
2 large eggs
50g milk chocolate cut into chunks
50g white chocolate cut into chunks
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/GM 5.
  2. Put the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder in a bowl and mix until like fine sand. I was almost tempted to use a food processor but you need to mix the next bit and who wants that much washing up.
  3. Whisk the eggs into the milk and add ¾ of it to the flour mixture. Then mix until smooth. Add the last bit and do the same. Then fold in the chunks.
  4. Divide the mixture into 12 large muffin cases. Mine had high sides so if you have the regular sized ones maybe go for making 16 or stick with 12 and let the muffins fall over the top of the cases. That always looks generous when giving someone a muffin.
  5. Bake for 20- 25 minutes if making 12 – if more than  17-20.
Told you it was easy!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Hot Cross Bun Bread

January is a great time for a clear out and my baking cupboard is no different. This came about as I found a nearly full bag of strong bread flour and a load of packets of dried fruit with a little bit left in each. I have a bad habit of forgetting about them, buying new ones and then the vicious cycle starts. I do the same with packets of lentils but there are less opportunities to bake with them.
Anyway bread is amazing to make because you can whack anything into it. Really – just give it a whirl. I’ve used up nuts, seeds, almost used up brown sugar by shoving them in dough and baking the result. Bread is hard to get wrong. Yes you need to knead it but it really doesn’t take that long and you experience the fabulous result (well not me as I’m off gluten but you go crazy).

20g dried active yeast
1 tsp sugar
850g strong bread flour
5g salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
Dried fruit – sultanas, raisins, candied peel (I think I probably had about 200g in the end but it can take more)
1 tbsp mixed spice
600ml warm water (200ml boiling water and 400ml cold water)
1 egg, beaten

  1. Take 200ml of the water and put 1 tsp of sugar in. The sprinkle the yeast on top, mix and leave for about 10 minutes. A massive foamy top will develop which means the yeast is getting excited about making bread.
  2. Put the flour, salt, caster sugar, dried fruit and spice in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Add the yeast mixture and the rest of the water. Mix well to make your dough and use your favourite kneading method. One here uses dough hooks andthis one takes a while but requires very little labour from you.
  4. Once you’re at the second proving stage (the second time you leave it to double in size) either leave the dough as one big loaf or you can make two loaves by proving in loaf tins.
  5. Before baking, brush the top with beaten egg and then put in an oven heated to 180°C/GM 4. For one big one about 45 minutes should do, for the smaller loaves about 35 minutes.
  6. Obviously, as with all bread, it’s best eaten warm from the oven but it seemed to work well toasted as well.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Chocolate Marshmallow Pie

I made this around Thanksgiving and it truly is an American pie. It came from Jamie's magazine and I have to say mine looks very much like the picture! I love how they use crumb bases, rather than faff around with pastry bases, most of the time. This appeals to me. Plus this pie allowed me to blowtorch marshmallows – always a pleasure.

This pie went to the top of the favourites list for many of my work colleagues, which is not to be sniffed at. It’s very rich so only a small slice is needed per person. I’d encourage you to make this is a pie dish as the heavy weight of it lends something to the whole experience. I’ve found that TK Maxx has great deals on bakeware and the one near me always had a selection of pie dishes in various sizes.


225g digestive biscuits
1 tbsp plain flour
Pinch of salt
115g melted butter, cooled

75g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
75g dark muscovado sugar
100g butter
100g dark chocolate – no more than 60% cocoa
150ml cold water
1 egg

Make your own marshmallows – recipe here – or just buy a pack

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/GM4.
  2. Put the biscuits, flour and salt in food processor and pulse until fine. Then add the melted butter, whizz and put the resulting crumb in the pie dish (mine was 23cm). Chill for 20 minutes. (You can always bash the hell out of the biscuits using plastic bags and a rolling pin, doing the mixing in a bowl).
  3. Once chilled bake the base for 10 minutes.
  4. Now for the filling. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt into a bowl.
  5. In a saucepan put the sugar, butter (chop up) and chocolate (broken into pieces) with the water and heat gently until melted and smooth. Take off the heat, add the dry mixture and the egg, then mix together well.
  6. Pop in the oven for 10 minutes. Don’t worry when you take it out – it should look wobbly. It will firm up as it cools.
  7. Once cool, or just before serving, arrange the marshmallows on top and blowtorch!!! Serve.