Sunday, 23 April 2017

Blueberry and Lemon Frangipane Tart

This was whipped up after picking up a small punnet of blueberries on the cheap from the supermarket...when I bought them I wasn't 100 sure what I was going to do, and had considered a batch of muffins. Come Sunday night, and I was looking through the house to see what was sitting around, and saw a couple of thing led to another and I decided on a classic frangipane tart, with lemon zest, and blueberry jam.

I sort of see this sort of thing as "bakewell with different flavours", and to some extent it is, however almonds work fantastically with so many different berries, and frangipane takes on flavours really well too, so it's a great way of combining classic ingredient combinations.

I used my favourite 23cm tart tin for's really deep, so you get plenty of filling! If I was going super-posh I would have baked the pastry without trimming it, then cleaned it up afterwards...however this time I trimmed it before baking, and I have a ball of left-over dough that will probably get converted into a snack tomorrow!

Blueberry and Lemon Frangipane Tart

Sweetcrust Pastry Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 130g butter (chilled and cubed)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 egg (chilled)
  • Tap water (chilled)
1) Place the flour, salt, sugar and butter into a food processor with the blade attachment.

2) Blitz until it forms a breadcrumb mixture

3) Add the egg and continue to blitz.

4) Add the water in small amounts until a dough just begins to form

5) Turn the mixture out onto a surface (or I prefer a large mixing bowl, to keep things a little tidier) and knead a few times to form a firm, smooth pastry

6) Flatten the dough to a thick disc, wrap in cling-film, and place in the fridge to chill. While it's chilling, make the jam

Blueberry Jam Ingredients

  • 100g blueberries
  • 100g jam sugar
1) Place the blueberries and sugar in a small saucepan

2) Place over a low heat, stirring and squashing the blueberries with a wooden spoon, until the sugar has dissolved/melted into the juices

3) Bring the temperature up while stirring, until the mixture is boiling

4) Use a temperature probe to check on the temperature, and stir until the mixture reaches 104'C

5) Remove from the heat and turn the jam out onto a plate to cool. Your pastry should now be chilled, and ready to roll. Turn the oven on to 180-190'C to pre-heat

6) Take the chilled pastry, unwrap and place on a lightly floured surface

7) Roll it out to ~3-4mm thickness, in a circle large enough to line your 23cm pan (the best way to check this is place your pan in the middle, and make sure there is enough around the edge to line the edges

8) Line the tart tin, tucking the pastry down into the corners.

9) Prick the bottom with a fork. You can trim the edges at this point by passing a rolling pin over the top, trimming the pastry. If you want a posher finish, trim it after you've blind-baked, using a sharp knife

10) Place the lined tart tin in the fridge to chill until your oven is upto temperature

11) Line the pastry with thin baking parchment, and fill with baking beans and/or dry rice

12) Bake for 12 minutes, then remove the paper and baking beans and bake for a further 7-8 minutes, until the base is just starting to brown. Then, remove it from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool.

13) While you are blind-baking the pastry, make the frangipane filling

Lemon Frangipane Ingredients

  • 150g butter (room temperature)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 125g ground almond
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp almond essence
  • Zest of 2 lemons
1) Place the butter and sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment

2) Beat hard until very soft and creamy

3) Add the eggs one at a time, beating hard until fully combined

4) Add the flour, almond, zest and essence and mix hard until fully combined and smooth


  • 125g blueberries
  • Handful of flaked almonds
1) Turn the oven down to 155-160'C

2) Take the cooled jam, and spread over the base of the pastry case

3) Scatter the blueberries evenly over the jam

4) Scoop the frangipane mixture over the top, and using a small palette knife spread evenly to fill the entire pastry case, and smooth the top

5) Scatter the flaked almonds over the top, and press down slightly

6) Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes. It's done when the middle of the frangipane is risen, and has turned a golden brown

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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Oil Cake - Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes

This was a bit of an experiment, after a load of on-line reading about the pro's and con's of oil vs butter in cakes. When I did my bake-sale dissection, it was notable that butter is one of the more expensive's in everything! Some cakes I've done tend to use oil instead of butter (typically stuff like carrot cake, which is super-moist) I set about coming up with a recipe that used oil, and as a guinea-pig, I went with the good old cupcake.

While it's easy to think of butter as a block of pure fat, it's actually 15-20% water (and you want to look for butter with low water content)...based on this, swapping in sunflower oil means that you probably want less. Most recipes I saw also had slightly less sugar than normal, and slightly more flour. The flour makes sense, as you're going to have a runny mixture. After a bit of fiddling, I came up with a mixture, and gave it a go...and it came out pretty well! They rose well, good smooth top, and a nice light texture. I probably should have put more cocoa powder in, as they were not that chocolatey. For a topping I made some basic buttercream, flavoured with some orange oil essence, and then I made a chocolate water icing and drizzled it over the top.

Oil Cake Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes - Recipe

  • Pre-heat oven to 150'C

Sponge Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 125ml sunflower oil
  • 15ml milk
  • 25g cocoa powder (could add more, but reduce the flour by the same amount!)

1) Place the eggs and sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment

2) Beat until smooth

3) Add the oil and milk, and beat again until smooth

4) Add the flour and cocoa powder, and mix until just smooth (don't overdo it)

5) Split the mixture evenly between 12 muffin cases (I did 45g a case)

6) Bake in the oven for 20 minutes

7) remove to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating

Orange Buttercream Ingredients

  • 150g butter (room temperature)
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1tsp orange essence
  • Splash of milk
1) Place the butter and sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment

2) Mix slowly until a firm icing is formed

3) Add the orange essence and a small amount of milk, and beat hard

4) Continue to add milk and beat hard until a smooth, pipeable consistency is reached. Be very sparing with the milk, you want just enough.

5) Transfer the icing to a piping bag with a semi-closed star nozzle

6) Pipe generous swirls on each cake

Chocolate Water Icing Ingredients

  • 3tbsp icing sugar
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • Small amount of water
1) Place the sugar and cocoa in a ramekin

2) Add a small amount of water, and stir in

3) Carefully add small amounts of water while stirring vigorously until a thick, glossy paste forms

4) Transfer the paste into a small piping bag, and snip off the end

5) Drizzle the chocolate paste over the cakes in loops
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Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Mini-Pies

These were a classic cycling-season transportable snack. I've been doing a few pies here and there, normally as loaf-shapes, as they are good to slice. I did these in muffin tins for a bit of a change. the filling was dictated by what was on cheap in the supermarket (in this case chicken and bacon)...and then I whipped up a simple white sauce to bind it all together. I used hot-water crust as it's easy to work, robust, and also one of my favourites.

Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Mini-Pies

Filling Ingredients

  • 350g chicken fillets
  • 150g smoked back bacon
  • 6 large mushrooms
  • 1tbsp sunflower oil
  • 50g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • ~300ml Milk
  • ½tsp mustard powder
1) Place the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat

2) Add the chicken and bacon, and cook until browned

3) Chop and add the mushrooms, stirring in

4) Reduce the heat slightly, and prepare the white sauce

5) Put the butter in a medium pan over a medium heat

6) Once the butter is fully melted, add in the flour and stir vigorously until you have a breadcrumb consistency

7) Slowly start to add the milk, stirring vigorously to remove lumps

8) Keep adding the milk until you have a thick sauce

9) Add the sauce to the chicken mixture, and stir in

10) remove from the heat and allow to cool fully (I spread it over a baking tray on some ice-blocks). While it's cooling, make the pastry, and pre-heat the oven to 190'C

Hot Water Crust Pastry Ingredients

  • 450g  plain flour
  • 100g strong white flour
  • 75g butter
  • 100g lard
  • 200g water
  • Pinch of salt
  • Beaten egg (to seal and glaze)
1) Place the flours and salt in a large mixing bowl

2) Rub in the butter until you have fine breadcrumbs

3) Place the water and lard into a small saucepan over a low heat

4) Heat and stir the water until the lard has melted, then turn up the heat until the water boils

5) Pour the lard and water into the flour, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon

6) As soon as it's cool enough to touch, knead the mixture to form a soft dough

7) Working quickly, split the dough into 12 equal parts

8) Using two-thirds of each part, roll it out and line one depression in a 12-hole muffin tin, overlapping the top.

9) Fill each cavity with the cooled filling, ensuring that the overlap at the top is clear

10) Brush some beaten egg around the overlap on each cavity

11) Using the remaining pastry bits, roll out lids and firmly press them on to each cavity

12) Using a circular pastry cutter slightly larger than the muffin cavities, trim away the excess pastry. You can use this to form some decorations for the top of the pies

13) Brush each pie top with beaten egg

14) Place in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until golden

15) Remove to a wire rack to cool

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Saturday, 15 April 2017

Hot Cross Buns

I did a couple of variants of these last year...decided to revisit them this year, with more knowledge I hoped I could refine them a little. These are literally my favouritest part of Easter, even moreso than the chocolate and sweets...nothing quite like toasted, buttered hot cross buns.

The main things I tweaks from the previous attempts was the amount of flour (mainly to bring it in line with the standard 500g batches that seem to be the default for bread), and rather than separate dried fruit and peel, I used mixed dried fruit. I put in more spices (you can never have too much cinnamon!), and generally I'm a bit better at getting dough consistency right now. The end results were pretty good, and are going down well!

Hot Cross Buns - Recipe

Dough Ingredients

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 5g salt
  • 5g ground cinnamon
  • 3g mixed spice
  • 2g ground nutmeg
  • 8g fast-action yeast
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 150g milk
  • Approx 150ml warm water
  • 50g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 140g mixed dried fruit
  • Sunflower Oil
1) Place the flour, spices, salt, yeast and sugar in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment

2) Place the milk in a jug, and heat in the microwave until luke-warm

3) Place the butter in a small bowl and microwave until just melted

4) Crack the egg into the milk

5) Add the melted butter to the milk

6) Whisk the egg mixture until smooth

7) Add the egg mixture to the stand mixer bowl, and begin mixing

8) Slowly add the water until a soft dough forms. You may not need all the water

9) Mex for 3-4 minutes until the dough begins to go smooth

10) Add the fruit to the stand mixer, and continue to mix for 7-8 minutes

11) Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container, and leave to prove until tripled in size

12) Once proved, turn out onto a lightly oiled surface

13) Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment

14) Knock back the dough, and split into 12 equal parts (I did this by weight, with each chunk being ~85g)

15) Roll each piece into a firm ball, and place onto tee baking parchment well spaced

16) Brush the balls with sunflower oil...this will stop them sticking together as they rise again, and also provide a good surface

17) Cover and leave to prove until doubled in size. While they are proving, make the pastry for the crosses

Pastry Ingredients

  • 50g plain flour
  • 25g butter
  • 10-20ml chilled water
1) place the flour and butter in a small mixing bowl

2) Rub the butter into the flour until you have the consistency of breadcrumbs

3) Slowly add the water while mixing with your fingers until a dough forms. You may not need all the water

4) Knead the dough a few times, then flatten into a disc, wrap in clingfilm, and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes

5) Roll the dough out on a slightly floured surface. You want the dough very thin (~1-2mm(, and you want a rectangle about 24cm x 15cm at least

6) Cut 24 strips that are at least 15cm long and 5-8mm wide

7) Lay these on the risen buns so they form a cross pattern. Trim the pastry strips to length, and tuck the ends underneath the buns

8) Pre-heat the oven to 190'C

9) Place the baking tray in the oven for 13-14 minutes. place 250ml of water in a tray at the bottom

10) While the buns are baking, make the glaze

Glaze Ingredients

  • 20g caster sugar
  • 20g water

1) Place the sugar and water in a small microwaveable bowl

2) Heat the sugar mixture for 30 seconds in a microwave, and then stir thoroughly

3) Heat for another20 seconds, and stir again

4) just before using, heat for another 10-15 seconds, and then stir

5) When you remove the buns from the oven, use a pastry brush to glaze them generously with the sugar mixture

6) Split the buns if they have touched, and place on a wire rack to cool
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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Mocca-Cream Horns

I've actually had the cream-horn moulds sitting round for ages, but I've never gotten round to using them, however it was my turn for Bake Club (Rule 1 : Talk about it all the time), so I thought it was time that I cracked them out.

I looked up a couple of recipes as guidelines, and then tweaked and played around with them a bit. I wanted to try a couple of other things as well (flavoured crème patisserie, rather than just vanilla, and also a bit of sugar-work), and I ended up with these.

When I made them they looked pretty good, though overnight in the fridge was not kind to the hazelnut spikes (also, hazelnut spikes will make a right mess of your kitchen, and if I do them again I will plan ahead...something to stick the cocktail sticks into, and paper on the floor to capture the mess they make...)

Mocca-Cream Horns - Recipe

Rough Puff Pastry recipe

I did a batch of my fast rough puff, only using just butter for the fat (so 200g of butter)

Other Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • Icing Sugar 
  • 100g blanched hazelnuts
1) Roll the pastry out to a rectangle 35cm x 45cm.

2) Cut strips about 2½cm wide, and 45cm long (I have a metal ruler just the right thickness, and used a pizza wheel to do the cutting)

3) Starting at the point of the horn mould, wrap the pastry strip round, half-over-lapping the strip as you go

4) Brush a little water on the end to seal it, then place it on a baking tray, or I used a 12-bun muffin tin

5) Repeat for 12 horn moulds

6) Chill the horns, and pre-heat the oven to 190'C

7) Beat an egg, and lightly brush the horns

8) Sprinkle icing sugar on the horns to very lightly coat them

9) Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes,until the horns are golden. While they are baking, make the cream filling

9a) Also put the hazelnuts in the oven at the time time for 15 minutes, on a baking tray. WE will use these later for assembly

10) Once baked, remove from the oven, carefully remove the moulds, and leave to cool. also remove the hazelnuts and leave to cool

11) Once cool, transfer to the fridge (this helps apply the chocolate)

Coffee Crème Patisserie Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 500ml full fat milk
  • 50g cornflour
  • 2tbsp coffee granules
1) Place the coffee in a small bowl with a splash of milk, and mix until smooth

2) Place the rest of the milk in a medium saucepan over a low heat, and bring to just before boiling

3) Place the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a large heatproof bowl

4) Whisk the egg mixture until pale and creamy

5) While whisking, slowly pour the heated milk into the egg mixture.

6) Add the coffee mixture, and mix in.

7) Transfer the custard back to a large, clean saucepan over a medium heat

8) Whisk until it begins to thicken

9) Once it's reached the desired thickness (pipeable), then quickly transfer to a lipped baking tray (I use a swiss roll tin, seems to be the perfect size), level and cover with cling-film

10) Place in the freezer to chill

Hazelnut Spike Ingredients

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 30ml water
  • 12 hazelnuts, on cocktail sticks
1) Place the sugar and water in a small, very clean saucepan

2) Place on a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved

3) Increase the heat, allowing the mixture to boil

4) After 5-6 minutes it should begin to brown. Watch carefully, and as soon as the mixture is all nut brown remove from the heat (it will go quickly!)

5) Leave to cool for a minute or two to thicken slightly

6) Dip the hazelnuts in one at a time, then place hanging over the edge of a work surface
Notes - this is messy. Consider putting some baking parchment on the floor, and also you want something to anchor the cocktail sticks!


  • 200g dark (50%) chocolate
1) Melt the chocolate over a bain-marie

2) Allow to cool and thicken slightly

3) Put the roasted hazelnuts in a food processor, and blitz to coarse pieces

4) Take the chilled pastry horns, and pour 2 tsp of melted chocolate inside, swirling to coat as much of the inside as possible

5) Dip the open end of the horn in the chocolate, tipping off any excess

6) Now dip the open end of the horn in the blitzed hazelnuts, coating the chocolate

7) Repeat for all the horns, then place back in the fridge to set the chocolate (as you chilled the pastry, this should be fairly quick!)

8) Take the crème patisserie out of the fridge, and transfer it to a piping bag with a long bismarck nozzle

9) Once the chocolate has set, fill each horn with the crème patisserie to the rim

10) Place a hazelnut spike into the top of each horn
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