Baked

Apple Pie

We are very lucky to have some super neighbours and I will be sad to say goodbye when we relocate. They recently bought us a selection of their home grown fruit and veg from the allotment they have. Included was a huge haul of apples so I’ve been busy making a every apple based dessert I could think of! This weekend it was apple pie – my husband favourite! I’m not a big fan of pastry (apart from filo) so I don’t often make pies or other pastry based recipes and I hate making pastry so for this recipe I cheated and bought ready rolled shortcrust pastry which save so much time!

Ingredients

  • Ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
  • 4/5 large apples
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Method

  1. Prepare your apples first by peeling, coring and chopping into chunks. I like my chunks to be bite size or slightly bigger so that it doesn’t get mushy once cooked. You want to generously fill your pie dish as the apple chunks will cook down a little in the oven.
  2. Once your apple is prepared put it in a bowl with the lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon and leave to sit for at least 30 minutes. This is my top tip (and really my husband discovered it) letting the apples sit with the lemon and sugar allows some of the liquid to come out of the apples so that they don’t become too mushy when you cook the pie. I discard the liquid by draining the apples before I fill my pie case.
  3. While the apples are draining get the pastry out to come to room temp. You can make your own pastry or use the ready-rolled type like I did. Once the pastry has had 10 minutes to warm up carefully unroll it, I like to then roll it out a little thinner and repair any tears from unrolling. Place your pie dish upside down on the pastry (do this to one side to give you as much pastry for the lattice as possible) and using a sharp knife cut around the dish making your circle a little larger than the dish. I prefer this method over placing the pastry into the dish and trimming excess as it is easier to ensure you’ve pastry for the lattice.
  4. Flip your dish back over and take the circle and gently place it into the pie dish. Try to ease it into the sides of the dish so it sits snuggly but make sure the pastry comes up slightly onto the lip of the dish.
  5. Add the apple mixture and spread out evenly. With the leftover pastry cut strips approx 4cm wide. Starting from the middle place stripe on in a lattice, this is achieved by weaving the strips under then over one another, see picture below. Trim any excess length off and use these trimmed bit to roll out more pastry for strips. Once all the strips are in place and your happy with the lattice work you can pinch the ends if the strips onto the base pastry all the way around the pie rim.
  6. Wash the pastry carefully with a little milk or egg wash and bake for 40 minutes at 200°C or until golden brown and you can see the apples starting to soften. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream or cream.

This was a lovely Sunday night treat and went down well with my husband! What apple based creations have you been making recently? I’d love to hear what you’ve been baking so share some love and leave a comment.

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Baked

Low Fat Chocolate Cherry Brownies

This recipe is something I have been playing with for years and originally it was a Weight Watchers recipe (sorry no link here as I can’t find the original) that I have changed, modified and generally stripped and rebuilt to my taste.

Now I love a gooey brownie but having made brownies for years and tried multiple recipes I know getting just the right gooey consistence is practically black baking magic! So my timings and temperatures for this recipe are a guide based on what works for my oven, so I suggest you have a play with your own oven to get them just how you like them gooey or cakey!

Ingredients
50 ml sunflower oil
4 medium egg(s)
150 g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)
75 g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
75 g cocoa powder
125 g dark chocolate
60 g Dried Cherries

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 200 Celsius (180 for fan oven)/ gas mark 6. Grease a 20.5cm (8 inch) square tin and line with grease proof paper. I recommend the grease proof paper overhang the sides a bit as this makes getting the brownies out of the tin much easier.
2. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally. Take the bowl off the pan and put to one side to cool slightly.
3. Put the eggs into a clean bowl, add the oil, sugar and vanilla essence and whisk together until pale and thick.
4. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into the bowl, then carefully pour in the chocolate.
5. Using a metal spoon, gently fold all the ingredients together – if you fold too roughly the chocolate will seize up and become unusable.
6. Carefully pour the brownie mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 20 mins – when cooked, the brownies should still be fudgy inside and the top should be cracked and crispy. I recommend you check them at approx 15 mins and then adjust your baking time as required (you might need less than 20 mins or more depending on your oven and how you like your brownies).
7. Remove from the oven and cut into squares immediately, then leave them to cool in the tin. Transfer to a serving plate or wrap in the brownies in cling film and put in an airtight container. They will keep for up to 3 days.Feel free to adjust the chocolate to cocoa powder ratio this is my healthy version but you could add more chocolate and less cocoa if you prefer. I love this one with the dried cherries (glacé cherries also work they just don’t have as intense a cherry flavour) but you could add nuts or chocolate chips instead (like I did with mine). I have also tried this with mint chocolate (which was damm delicious especially as a love mint choc things!), I just replaced the dark chocolate with a peppermint infused dark chocolate and omitted the vanilla extract. You could also try other flavoured dark chocolates like orange or chilli.
I would love to hear what you think of these brownies and other flavour combo’s to try, so share some love and leave a comment!

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Baked

A Haematology themed Red Velvet Cake!

It’s not everyday that you challenge yourself to design and create a cake with the theme of Haematology! Firstly I should explain why these day has arrived in the first place …. my lovely OH is a haematologist and he has just completed his registrar training and he and one of his colleagues where both leaving there current reg jobs for new jobs so they had a leaving do and the idea of a haem cake was born!

As you know I love a challenge and often I turn to the inspiration of Pinterest to help when I’m taking on something a bit weird and wonderful! So off I click searching for Haematology cakes but only really finding doctor themed or cakes with a ton of fondant (not my forte). So I decided to think outside the box a little and started searching for ways to make blood and blood slides to decorate my cake. And Pinterest did not fail me!

My first challenge was the blood slides (we made ours bone marrow slides as that’s what haematologists make and look at in the lab). So many of the recipes I saw cut there slides out of a large sheet of hard sugar but I knew I wanted mine to all me uniform in size and cutting ran the risk of slides shattering and snapping! To overcome this challenge I ordered a new silicon mold which gave the perfect shape and size for blood slides. To make life easy I bought some clear peppermint glace sweets and melted 2 per rectangle mold in the oven. It was tricky getting them to not have lots of air bubbles but I found letting them get hot enough that the sweet was boiling in the mold then letting them cool slowly by turning the oven off and opening the door resulted in most bubbles coming the surface and popping. I’d like to perfect this more but time and running out of sweets prevented this! Once the slides cooled completely and became hard I simple popped them out of the molds and neatened any rough edges with a sharp knife (simple gently running it down the edge to scrap any rough bits of sugar off). To finish the slides my OH suggested raspberry jam looked like bone marrow so he spread a little on each slide. If you wanted to make them look like blood slides dab a little red food colouring on to look like a drop of blood. If you don’t want to buy a rectangle mold this recipe shows you how to make it as a large sheet and then cut slides out.

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To complete the blood theme I used red fondant to make little red blood cells. It’s super easy just take a small ball (slightly bigger than bean) and using a ball tool gently push down into the ball to make a sort of donut shape. To make the blood cells look more realistic I used a little red good colouring gel to coat the fondant cells so they looked like they were covered in blood.

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Of course the cake had to be red velvet! And I chose to go for a naked cake look using an amazing cream cheese frosting that uses whipped cream to make it more stable (which considering the weather was crazy humid the day I made this it was so necessary!) you can find the link for the recipe here! To make it a little extra special I added raspberry jam and a layer of fresh raspberries in the filling which really lifted the flavour of the cake. The cake was a resounding hit with all the Haematologists at the leaving do and the addition of raspberries in the filling worked so well.

What crazy ideas have you been translating into cakes recently? I’d love the hear about what your baking so share the love and leave a comment.

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Hooked

ABC baby blanket/play mat – the finished article.

I shared some of the squares I was making for the applique ABC blanket for a family members soon to be born son previously, you can check out the post here. Well the baby has arrived and this weekend I furiously completed the joining and boarder and the finished blanket was gifted to lovely baby Leo and his Mum and Dad.

This has truly been such a joy to make and I am already hatching plans to make a second and write patterns for each applique I made which I will hopefully offer as a downloadable pattern so that you can make your own ABC blanket. I chose to use Rico Creative Cotton Aran as there colour selection was amazing and they are a really affordable option considering you need to buy quite a wide selection of colours for all your appliques. It works up beautiful and as its cotton gives great stitch definition without too much splitting.

For the joining I decided to try a new method and popped over to the amazing Cypress Textiles (seriously her blog is brilliant so many patterns and tips for crochet – go check it out) to try her tutorial on the PLT join (that’s pull loop through join). This joining method is brilliant, it took a few attempts to master but once I had it worked up super fast and looks so good on the finished product. I will definitely be using it again for future blankets! I then added a fleece back to hide all the threads from sewing the applique on and did a simple picot edge to finish it all off.

Come back soon for the first few patterns to make the apple, bees and cupcake appliques. What have you been hooking up that your loving? I’d love to see what your making so share some love and leave a comment.

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Baked

Stand Up to Cancer Bake Sale and Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Having watched the recent Stand Up to Cancer Bake Off series I started to think I’d like to raise a bit of money by holding my own bake sale. Seeing as I am currently not in a permanent role work wise it had to be my OH’s work (who have been benefiting from my recent baking spree already) as the location. So I set about making loads of different treats to take to the hospital staff room on the two wards he works on. This included oat and raisin cookies, chocolate chip cookies, millionaires shortbread (now a firm favourite), brownies, chocolate tiffin, coffee cake and lavender cupcakes. It was a busy few days and I was really pleased that I raised £48.68 for Stand Up to Cancer.

Of course the millionaires shortbread was a winner (it never fails me!) and my cookies were very popular. So I thought I’d share my White and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies so you can all enjoy too! This recipe is adapted from these amazing (they have been made so many times since I discovered the recipe it was only a matter of time before I got tweaking!).

Ingredients

  • 225g butter
  • 375g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla paste or essence
  • 385g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 100g white chocolate chips

Method

  • Beat the butter till it’s light and fluffy (approx 3 mins), then add the sugar and beat together.
  • Add the eggs 1 at a time mixing well between each one.
  • Add the vanilla essence and mix in.
  • Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix on a low speed until all the flour is combined into the mixture. Make sure to scrap the sides while doing this.
  • Add the white chocolate and dark chocolate chunks and fold through the mixture. You could also use milk chocolate chunks if your not a dark fan.
  • Once all ingredients are mixed together cover and refrigerate for at least an hour but over night is better.
  • After chilling get the mix out of the fridge (it can be quite solid if its chilled for more than an hour so I find letting it warm up a little helps in making it easier to work with). Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and make golf ball sized balls of dough onto a lined baking tray.
  • Bake for 14 mins or until lightly golden on top. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 10 mins on the tray. Don’t be tempted to remove them straight away as the centre will still be soft and gooey and you’ll end up with falling apart cookies. After 10 mins you can move to a cooling rack to cool completely, you can store them in an air-tight container if they aren’t all eaten immediately.

If you like these cookies why not try my White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies, other flavour combos loved in our house include white chocolate and dried apricot, dark chocolate and dried cherries and oat and raisin. Hope you enjoy this recipe, I’d love to hear what flavour combo is your favourite so share some love and leave a comment!

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Baked

Sausage Roll Recipe

Wow it’s been ages since my last post, life has rather got in the way! We are in the process of preparing our house to sell as we will be moving to Nottingham soon. It’s been rather a task and I’ve been neglecting my baking and crochet to garden, de-clutter and clean like crazy! The end of the prep is in sight as we have painters and new carpets happening this week!

More importantly we had visitors this weekend and I decided to whip up a batch of sausage rolls. Whip being the operative word as these sausage rolls are super easy and quick to make and usually disappear as quickly! The recipe is inspired by recipe but I’ve made it even more simple and quick to do.

Ingredients

  • Pack of pre-rolled puff pastry
  • Pack of sausage meat or 6 sausages
  • Red onion chutney
  • Egg to wash rolls
  • Handful of sesame seeds, optional

Method

    1. Preheat your oven to 200°C. Unroll your pastry and lay it out on a flat surface, cut down the middle length ways to make two long stripes.
    2. Spread a thin layer of red onion chutney down the middle of each pastry strip.
    3. If using sausages remove from their casings, mix meat gently to form a ball. Split into 2 halves and make each half into a long sausage the length of your pastry strip. Don’t make them too fat as you need to be able to overlap the pastry.
    4. Take the edges of the pastry and fold over the top of the meat and press down gently to seal. Cut each half into individual sausage rolls at your preferred size, I usually get 8 – 10 out of each half.
    5. Whisk your egg and wash each sausage roll and sprinkle a few sesame seeds onto if using.
    6. Bake in the oven for 25 minuets until golden on top.
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Sausage rolls all ready for the oven!

Now enjoy these yummy homemade sausage roll treats in all their flaky pastry gorgeousness! For variety you could use different chutneys, add cooked onion or herbs to your sausage meat or top with poppy seeds or Parmesan cheese. Hope you enjoy these simple but tasty treats, I’d love to hear about your sausage roll triumphs so share some love and leave me a comment!

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Baked

White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies

Cookies have been a real favourite in our house these last few weeks, pretty much since I discovered this recipe. I made the original triple chocolate version several times and they really are amazing! I’ve also been playing with the recipe to create my own combinations including chocolate chip cookies, oat and raisin cookies and these white chocolate and cranberry cookies.

Often I use white chocolate and cranberry as Christmassy flavours, my biscotti with them gets made every Christmas now and I love the combo in a baked cheesecake. But these cookies are definitely an all seasons treat.

White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies

Makes approx 24.

Ingredients

  • 225g butter.
  • 375g sugar.
  • 2 eggs.
  • 1tsp vanilla paste (can use essence as an alternative).
  • 385g flour.
  • 1tsp baking powder.
  • 1/4tsp salt.
  • 150g white chocolate chunks or a bar cut into chunks.
  • 100g dried cranberries

Method

  • Beat the butter till it’s light and fluffy (approx 3 mins), then add the sugar and beat together.
  • Add the eggs 1 at a time mixing well between each one.
  • Add the vanilla essence and mix in.
  • Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix on a low speed until all the flour is combined into the mixture. Make sure to scrap the sides while doing this.
  • Add the white chocolate and cranberries and fold through the mixture.
  • Once all ingredients are mixed together cover and refrigerate for at least an hour but over night is better.
  • After chilling get the mix out of the fridge (it can be quite solid if its chilled for more than an hour so i find letting it warm up a little helps in making it easier to work with). Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and make golf ball sized balls of dough onto a lined baking tray.
  • Bake for 14 mins or until lightly golden on top. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 10 mins on the tray. Don’t be tempted to remove them straight away as the centre will still be soft and gooey and you’ll end up with falling apart cookies. After 10 mins you can move to a cooling rack to cool completely, you can store them in an air-tight container if they aren’t all eaten immediately.

These cookies have gone down well at home and I know I’ll have to make more varieties in the future! Hope you enjoy them, I’d love to hear about your favourite cookie recipe or flavour so share some love and leave a comment.

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