Cranberry and Peach Crumble

To be honest, this is not really a recipe.  More a throwing together of a few ingredients and cooking, and hoping for the best!  I have a few packs of cranberries which I had frozen, and somehow I have not had the chance to use them yet.  So, in spite of it being summer – not classic crumble weather – I thought I’d give this a go.  I wanted something very simple.  I like my cranberries on the sharp side, and in order not to add too much sugar, I balanced the sour / sharp with the sweetness of tinned peaches.  I do also have the awful habit with certain things (crumble topping for one….) not to use a recipe but to throw in the basic ingredients and hope for the best!

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So I emptied a packet of frozen cranberries into the dish, added two tins of peach segments (drained) and sprinkled some light muscovado sugar over the top.

My crumble topping was just plain flour, butter and golden caster sugar. And into the oven it went, until hot and bubbling.

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Yes, I admit that photo doesn’t look that appealing, but trust me, in real life it did look a whole lot better!  A portion of this, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream……

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Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you all a peaceful weekend 🙂

Banket

P1000807Some of my family come from the Netherlands and every year relatives there would send us a box of goodies. Salted Liquorice, chocolate (usually in the shape of our initials), a Delft tile and Banket. Banket is a sausage roll-shaped pastry with an almond filling.  It is not something I have seen anywhere else and so after a while when family passed away and we no longer received these boxes I would think longingly of this pastry.

Fast forward a few years and I saw a recipe in a magazine for Galette des Rois.  It looked interesting, it was disc shaped and had an almond filling.  I baked it but found it too greasy. And so I tweaked the recipe….and tweaked it….and tweaked some more. And then I thought – the filling is rather similar to that of Banket, why don’t I tweak a bit more and try to recreate this pastry….and so I did. And so, here, dear readers, is my version of that pastry.

Ingredients:

70 butter at room temperature

80g golden caster sugar

1 medium egg, lightly beaten

300g ground almonds

1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur

1 tablespoon almond extract

400g ready-made puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 190ºC(fan oven).

Unroll the pastry and place it on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.  Cut the pastry in half along the width and slightly separate the two pieces of pastry. (Yes, I hang my head in shame, I always buy ready-made pastry, life is too short to make my own).

Beat the butter with the caster sugar using an electric whisk, until light and fluffy. Whisk in the egg.  Stir in the ground almonds, the alcohol and the almond extract.

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Divide the mixture in two, and spoon over the centre of each of the pieces of pastry.

Lightly wet the edges of the pastry with a bit of water and carefully fold the pastry over the filling, along the ends and the length, pressing carefully to seal the edges.  Each piece should look like a large thick sausage roll. If you’re feeling posh, brush some eggwash over the top of the pastry (it is worth it, it makes it look beautifully golden).

Place in oven for 30 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden.  Breathe in that lovely almond fragrance!  This can be eaten hot or cold, but is really best when lukewarm.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

 

 

 

Double Chocolate Chunk & Peanut Cookies

I am a lazy baker, I admit this.  I tend to go back time and again to recipes I love, and that I know won’t fail.  After all, why not just keep making the bakes that you enjoy?!  But I am making an effort. Really, I am!  And so today’s bake was a recipe I have not tried before.  Who doesn’t love a crunchy & chewy chocolate chip cookie? And when salted peanuts and peanut butter are added – how could I resist?  And of course, I do have a thing for that sweet-and-salty mix.

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When I try a recipe for the first time, it can be nerve-wracking, sometimes it works really well, and sometimes I get that uneasy feeling – is this how it is supposed to look? Surely that shouldn’t have happened? That looks wrong, how do I rescue it?  But I ploughed on regardless……and lost my concentration, and forgot to take photos….

I wasn’t convinced, I kept checking and re-checking the recipe……I had added all the ingredients…..it said it would make 12 cookies but there didn’t look nearly enough mixture to manage that….P1000796

The recipe said it would be a soft batter which would just drop off the spoon….it wasn’t and it didn’t….. But, you know, sometimes you think sod it, I’ve got so far, I’m going to finish this off. And I did.

I ended up with 14 large cookies!  They smell divine! They just need to cool off a little bit before they can be eaten.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Flapjacks

I love flapjacks.  Slightly chewy, not too soft, not too crunchy, a blissful mixture of both.  And, I can kid myself they are healthy. Well, relatively so.  I mean oats, nuts, seeds….!

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On the face of it, a more easy recipe would be hard to find.  Melt the butter and syrup, add the oats and seeds / nuts / fruit and slap it in the oven. Yet somehow, this is a recipe I cannot master.  Mine barely hold together.  I follow the recipe exactly (yes, really I do!) I squash the mixture down hard in the baking tin, I cut the slices whilst still in the tin but leave it to cool completely before turning out. And still they crumble.  I have googled this many a time, I am using the correct oats, the correct balance of other ingredients. I just don’t know what I should do to make them slightly less crumbly.

But, as I said, I do love flapjacks and so I decided to give them another go.  I figured if it failed completely I would use them as a crumble topping for a fruit pudding.  Think laterally, and all that!

I added pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and pecan nuts to the mixture. The result?  A partial success. Partial in that some of the mixture stuck together, but a lot of it crumbled.  The squares that seem to hold together fall apart too easily in the hand though. I will not be defeated! One day I will find a recipe that I can bake with success!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

 

Stuffed Focaccia

This is a recipe I always feel smug about.  It is so simple and easy, but the end result makes me feel as if a whole lot more skill and effort are required to achieve it.

It is, put simply, focaccia dough, filled with grilled vegetables, Parma ham and Taleggio and then baked. The filling however is very flexible, you can change the ingredients to taste.   I think Taleggio is the perfect cheese for this, but again, there are many cheeses which would also work with the ingredients. When I first saw this recipe, it called for a packet of  focaccia bread mix.  But honestly, there is no difference in effort required when making the bread from scratch or making it from a packet.  I choose to make it from scratch because I know exactly what is going in to it, and there will be no preservatives or additives.

The first task is to grill your chosen vegetables.  I have used courgettes, red onions and mixed peppers.

Aren’t the colours just beautiful?

I have also chosen to add mushrooms and tomatoes to the mix.  I bought a bottle of mixed mushrooms with herbs in oil.  This is because I have never mastered the art of cooking mushrooms so that they don’t end up oozing water. The tomatoes I have used are a pack of sun-dried tomatoes in herbs and oil.  I always find the flavour of these is a bit more concentrated, and therefore ideal for this kind of recipe.

Then start on the focaccia dough and leave it to do its first rise for around two hours.. Once it has doubled in size, knock it down and divide into two pieces, one piece just slightly larger than the other.  Roll out the smaller piece of dough and place on a baking tray.

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Yes, I know this looks a bit rough and ready, I ended up with a few holes I had to patch up!

Then spread a thin layer of sun-dried tomato paste over this, leaving a clear centimetre around all the edges. Now you can begin by layering your ingredients.  First a layer of Parma ham, and then the courgettes, peppers, Taleggio, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and a final layer of Parma ham.  Roll out the last piece of dough and carefully place it over the vegetables, pressing down the edges to meet the base layer of dough.  You want to seal the edges so that the filling does not leak during cooking. Bake at 200°C (180°C fan) for 30 to 40 minutes.

This is a dish that can be eaten hot or cold, but is at its best when just warm.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing I hope you  have a peaceful day 🙂

Vanilla Cupcakes with Fondant Icing

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My thoughts are turning back to baking.  Apart from the greed factor – I LOVE cake – there is something very comforting and satisfying about baking. It’s a combination of the idea, combining the ingredients, the delicious aroma as it bakes, and the wonderful end result. I was torn between tweaking my brownie recipe and baking cupcakes.  The latter won.

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Vanilla – or plain – cupcakes have their moments, and the recipe I found includes ground almonds in the ingredients, which just gives these lovely cakes their extra ooomf!  In fact, I prefer this version to any previous ones and it’s super-easy to make.

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I might have mentioned before that I am an icing girl, and there are not many times I prefer a cake un-iced.  With this particular recipe I like to use a fondant icing, as it compliments rather than detracts from, the cake itself.  I confess that I buy my fondant icing, it is just so much easier to open a packet and roll it out. With the help of a stencil and some edible lustre in blue, pink and gold (of course, gold!!) I have the finished result.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you all a peaceful weekend 🙂

 

Whisky Mac Cake

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I haven’t baked for a while because the horrors of real life intervened. But in a desperate attempt to restore some sort of normality to my life, I have been going over all my recipes.  It has been tempting to rely on an old favourite.  A many times tried and trusted recipe.  But curiosity overcame me when I saw a recipe for a sticky ginger loaf……and I thought “how can I tweak that recipe….”

A whisky mac is a lovely warming gingery drink and so I thought I’d see how it translated into cake form.  I suspect, like the boozy banana bread recipe, that it will be subtle, but hopefully give the cake just a little something extra.

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This recipe still needs tweaking (I can’t help myself, can I!). I want to swap the butter for oil, maybe add extra dates, and see how I go from there. In the meantime, it is a lovely gingery, slightly sticky cake. Mmmmm….breathe in deeply.

Just right for these “not quite yet summer” days.

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