Thank you and Goodbye.

Hello Everyone,

This is my final blog post on this page.

The reason – I have now received my finished and personalised website called FoodJam – you can find details of that here. So that is exciting news.

You will be able to see all my blogging from there and I will be blogging about all sorts of fabulous things. So I do hope that you will click over and follow me from there. I will be keeping this page open for now, and will slowly move all the recipes from here across to there, so please do follow me on that website, I look forward to welcoming you there.

If you wish to follow me on the new page it’s very easy, just put your email address in to the “get instant updates by email box” and everytime I blog you will get notified. Couldn’t be simpler!

Take care and thanks for your company on this page and I hope you will join me on my new journey over on Foodjam.

Until then, goodbye.

Cheers

Deon

 

 

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Gem Squash – a sumptuous vegetable.

Hello again…

….so two posts in one week! Not bad huh?

I wanted to share with you this fabulous vegetable which I grew up with back home in Africa. It is simply the most wonderful squash going and I haven’t seen it in the UK for a long time, so imagine my joy when I was shopping for my weekly veg at the local green grocer and I stumbled upon this wonderful delight. I couldn’t contain my excitement and immediately bought 8 (yes I know, maybe a bit of overkill, but seriously, if you hadn’t eaten something in 12 years, wouldn’t you buy way to many?! ).

So I cooked them and then my husband and myself ate them for dinner with roast pork, and oh my was it everything that I had dreamt about and more, it took me back to the days when I was a kid and was sitting around the dining room table wondering what vegetables we were going to get that day, if it would be the dreaded broccoli or the divine gem squash.  So, needless to say, I was very happy. My husband who is also from Africa, was equally delighted with the gem squash. So do yourselves a favour, go to your local green grocer and ask them for this wonderful vegetable, you won’t know what you have been missing out on until you have tried them!

This is what they look like –

Lovely and green

Lovely and green

Now for the recipe…

Gem Squash – how to cook them:

  • 4 Gem Squash (basically allow 2 per person, so if 5 people, then 10!)
  • Salted butter for putting inside
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Cut off the little stem at the top of each one, it should come off fairly easily, then cut each gem squash in half.

Pre pip removal

Pre pip removal

2. Remove all the pips using a teaspoon (basically the same way you would for butternut squash), so you end up with something looking like this:

Ready for boiling,

Ready for boiling,

3. Place all the gem squash in a large pot (it doesn’t matter if they are on top of each other), fill the pot with cold water ensure that you cover the gem squash. They will float, but that’s fine, as you will put a lid on top, so try to ensure that you don’t overfill. Kind of like the picture below.

Ready for boiling

Ready for boiling

4. Bring to the boil and when the water starts to boil, set your timer for about 10 mins, basically you want them to be nice and soft but still retain the shape, if you over boil, the skins will be soft. The easiest way to tell if they are cooked is to gently put a sharp knife into the yellow flesh and if it slides in easily, they are ready, if there is a bit of a resistance, then boil for a few minutes more. Once cooked they will look something like this –

Just out the pot.

Just out the pot.

5. Then take your salted butter (or whatever you have non salted is just as good) and put a nice little knob of butter in each of the cavities of the gem squash. Something like this –

Ready to be eaten.

Ready to be eaten.

6. Season with a bit of salt and pepper – I reckon if you added a bit of grated cheese to it, it would be delicious and serve. If you are dieting, then don’t add the butter, just season well, it will still taste divine.

7. Everyone has different ways of eating it, I like to use my fork and scoop it all out onto my plate to eat alongside all the rest of my food, my partner prefers to eat it out of the skin scooping out all the lovely flesh. Either way is fine – it really is up to you, word of warning though if you do eat it out of the skin, it is very hot when it just comes out the pan, so be careful.

Well, that’s it from me for now, I hope to be back later this week with my Great British Bake Off bake along entry, so look out for that and if you do decide to make these, please let me know in the comments below. I hope that you like them as much as I do.

Till next time.

Deon

 

 

 

Cheddar Cheese and Chilli Bread.

So, it’s been awhile…

…..apologies for that, I have been busy with my parents coming to stay, getting a new website built and most importantly of all, going on holiday and having a blessing celebration with my lovely husband. I had such fun and ate soo much yummy Greek food, that I do believe I probably gained some weight, but I guess that is what holiday’s are for.

As I was going away for most of September, I was unsure of where or not I would be able to take part in this month’s Cheese Please challenge over on the wonderful Fromage Homage, however, when we got back from holiday, as per usual there was no bread, or anything in the fridge (apart from a wonderful meal cooked by a friend of ours who was staying over), so yesterday, myself and my partner were wondering what type of bread to make and so we decided to make Cheddar Cheese and Chilli bread, which ties in neatly with this months challenge.

You will see from my previous post for the cheese please challenge when I entered the Feta, Oregano and Sundried tomato into the August Cheese Please challenge that I went into more details and had more photos, so for guidance on how to knead the bread and when to add the cheese extra and how, please see that post, which you can find by simply clicking here.

Now for the recipe –

Chilli and Cheddar Cheese Bread:

  • 500g Strong White Bread Flour (you could also use 250g Strong wholemeal and 250g Strong white).
  • 17g Polenta (or Semolina)
  • 14g Fresh Yeast
  • 6g Salt
  • 300g tepid water (if using fresh chillies, put those in before the water and then deduct the amount they weigh from the total water)
  • 50g olive oil
  • 5 or 6 fresh red chillies OR 15g of dried chilli flakes. You should add the amount of chilli you are comfortable with, if you don’t like chilli, then add less, but if you like, add more, but do add some as you need the flavour.
  • 150g Cheddar Cheese (any brand will do)

Method:

1. Put flour, and polenta into a big mixing bowl, add the fresh yeast and crumble it into the mix.

2. Add the salt, fresh chilli (or dried if using) and give it a mix around so all the ingredients are combined.

3. Add the water and olive oil and combine in the bowl under a rough dough is formed.

4. Tip the dough out onto a clean surface and then knead for ten minutes until the gluten has started to work and the dough is nice and stretchy as per the images in my previous post here. At this point you want to add the cheddar cheese as you would the feta cheese in the previous post.

5. Shape the dough into a rough ball and return to the bowl, cover with a shower cap or clingfilm and set aside in a warm place for an hour.

6. After an hour the dough should have doubled in size, if it hasn’t this could be due to a particularly cold day so maybe give it a bit more time.

7. Tip the dough out and then knock back the air gently. Then flatten out on the clean surface before stretching out the dough and folding it back onto itself, again, if unsure of how to do this look back to this post. Once this is done, gently turn the dough over and shape it into the size or shape of the tin that you are using, or free form if that is how you wish to style it. I used a loaf tin for mine as we like the shape of our bread to be in a loaf.  Should look something like below:

Chilli and Cheese dough

Ready for second rise

8. Cover with the shower cap and set aside for 45 minutes, after which time check that it has risen to your liking, if so switch your oven onto 220 degrees C non fan, set your timer for a further 10 minutes to check if the oven is ready.

9. If oven is ready, remove the shower cap, slice the bread in 2 or 3 places using a sharp knife to let the air out (if you forget, its not a drama!) and gently place in the oven for 37 minutes.

10. Remove from tin and place on a cooling rack and allow to cool. TOP TIP – to check bread is ready gently tap the bottom of the bread and if it is ready it will sound hollow. 

11. Once the bread has cooled sufficiently, then either slice it open to eat it, or put a clean tea cloth over it to allow it to return the crust and eat when you like. To help it last longer, you can freeze it or store it in a plastic bag.

So good we made two!

So good we made two!

Cheddar Cheese and Chilli

Cheddar Cheese and Chilli

Cheddar Cheese and Chilli Bread

Cheddar Cheese and Chilli Bread

Enjoy and I hope you try this sometime, it is a firm favourite in our house!

I am entering this recipe and blog post in to September’s Cheese, Please! Cheddar Challenge.

Angel Food Cake in honour of the Great British Bake Off.

Hello everyone,

So as you can see from the title of today’s blog, this week, I made Angel Cake, now this cake is a slightly different cake as it is uses egg whites only and not the yolks. It also has a different texture.  I have also joined together with a whole heap of other bloggers on twitter to each week (when we are able!) to make a blog about one of the recipes or at least our interpretation of one of the recipes that features on the show that week!

For me, when I discovered that one of the challenges was for Angel Food Cake, I just had to make that as Angel Food Cake has a very special place in memory for me, as my mum always makes it at Christmas time as our pudding because it is so light, she got the recipe from my Dad’s mother who always used to make it on special occasions, and it is one of our family’s all time favourites, so I still every year make the Angel Food Cake for Christmas Day desert, and as far as I am aware, so does my mum (in Australia) and my sister when she is able (in South Africa). The funny thing was, is that just as I found out that this was the challenge, I found out that my mum was making the same thing for Christmas in July (or August!) as she is visiting my sister in South Africa, before coming to stay with us (in just under a week! Excitement!). So it was really nice.

I took my cake into work yesterday for an office meeting and they were all very impressed with it and most of the ladies said, “as it’s so light, must mean less calories!”.

So, next week, it is bread week on the Great British Bake off, I will try to do a blog, but I must warn you that as my parents are visiting, it is probably unlikely that I will do anything, however, I have made a really nice bread recently on this blog, so you could try that if you want some inspiration!

I also thought I would share with you all the chickens were my eggs come from – I went to a bbq on a friends allotment on Sunday and they have chickens, so I got a dozen eggs from these very chickens, so they were nice and fresh! 🙂

Happy Chickens

Happy Chickens

Have a wonderful rest of your week and see you soon.

The recipe for my Angel Food Cake is below.

Angel Food Cake:

Cake Mixture:

  • 120g plain flour sifted 3 times.
  • 250g icing sugar sifted 3 times (You can use castor sugar and sift it same quantities)
  • 10 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Zest of one lemon

Icing/Glaze:

  • Juice of one lemon
  • 300g icing sugar sifted

Method:

Preheat your oven to 160 Degrees C – no fan!

1. As stated above, sift the flour and icing sugar (separately – don’t make my mistake and do it together!) and set aside.

2. Separate the eggs and put the egg whites in your mixer bowl (or a large bowl and you can use a hand mixer), add the salt and cream of tartar and mix until stiff peaks are formed – something like this –

 

Stiff peaks

Stiff peaks

3. Next add 2 tablespoons of icing sugar (or caster sugar) to the mixture and continue mixing for 20 seconds, I found that by sprinkling the sugar over the top of the whole surface area helps, you can just as easily put it in one side and then beat. Repeat this process until all the icing sugar is incorporated into the egg whites. You should have a nice glossy meringue finish.

4. Now add the vanilla and lemon zest and then gently fold in to the mixture using figure of 8 movements you need to retain as much air as possible –

Vanilla and lemon zest added

Vanilla and lemon zest added

6. Once fully incorporated gently spoon the mixture into your tin. I bought an angel food cake tin especially for this as I do often make it and wanted one, so this was an excuse to order one off amazon. If you don’t have this type of tin, then you can use a bundt cake tin or you can even use a normal deep cake tin and just place a glass in the middle! You need to ensure that there is a whole in the middle however. So once your cake is in the cake tin, smooth it out slightly so its evenly distributed – something like this – DO NOT GREASE YOUR TIN, as it needs to be able to grip the sides of the tin whilst it is rising in the oven.5. Now add the sifted flour in 3 stages, ensuring it is incorporated fully  (otherwise you will get pockets of flour!) whilst still retaining the air in the mixture.

Ready for the oven!!

Ready for the oven!

7.  Bake in the centre of oven for 40 mins or until a skewer inserted in to the cake comes out clean (top tip – if you insert your skewer diagonally it gives a better indication!).

8. Once ready, remove from oven and immediately turn it upside down on the wire rack or your kitchen counter (do not do anything else to it, just flip it!) and leave to cool, it should hopefully once cool have come out of the tin from its own accord – gravity comes into play! If once it is totally cool and it hasn’t dropped down, then gently use a palette knife around the edges of the cake to release it.

Just out the tin

Just out the tin

Ready for icing/glaze

Ready for icing/glaze

9. Now you are ready to ice the cake. To make the icing, simply sift the icing sugar into a bowl and the add lemon juice (as much or as little as you like to get the right tang to it!) and mix together until you get a nice spreadable paste. Be careful of adding too much icing sugar as it may become watery. Then gently ice the cake with the glaze and voilà you have an Angel Food Cake looking something like this –

The iced cake

The iced cake

Side View

Side View

If you fancy a different type of topping, there are lots of different variations on the internet. And if you fancy making a chocolate version, simply substitute 30g of flour for 30g of a good quality cocoa powder.

Now just tuck in and enjoy – its light and delicious and dare I say it – heavenly! 😉

This is a picture of what I brought home after the meeting as my husband asked me nicely to save him a piece! 😉

Inside of the cake.

Inside of the cake.

 

I do hope you have enjoyed reading this and that next time you are looking for an inspiration for a cake, then you decide to make this as it really is something different!

Until next time, keep baking! 🙂

Cheers

Deon

 

Mushroom and Asparagus Tart with Pancetta Pieces

Hello everyone and welcome to another week.

I had a very good week, didn’t do too much baking this week i.e. cakes etc as I have been looking through all my recipes books and thinking, I really should try and cook something from some of the more neglected ones. One of the neglected ones happened to be the new Nigel Slater book (or old now!) Kitchen Diaries II. I bought this book last year and it has simply been sitting on my shelf, I think I have been a bit daunted by it as it is simply now in a style that I am used to. So one of the blogs that I follow – Farmersgirl (check out her blog!) happened to be do a competition for dish of month and coincidently it was using Kitchen Diaries II. So I picked it up and had a flick through and suddenly wondered why I had actually been so daunted by this book in the first place, as it is simply stunning. Seriously there are so many things that I wanted to cook that I had to narrow it down, and the options were Goats Cheese and Onion Tart or what I made for this blog. Eventually, as I had some asparagus in the bottom of the fridge which needed to be used up, I decided to go for this. Please note that whilst this is based on the recipe from the book, it is not 100% the same, if you are interested in seeing the original recipe then take a look on page 230 and 231 of Kitchen Diaries II.

I hope you enjoy this as much as my husband and myself did, it was simply delicious.

Now for the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 x ready rolled or square of puff pastry – either use Jus or just the standard supermarket special (each is the same).
  • 200g Crème Fraiche  (English or French!) (Next time I make it, I would use about 150g).
  • 17 Asparagus Spears (or just a bunch)
  • 60g Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 x 77g punnet of Pancetta Pieces (I bought mine in waitrose) (you can also use strips or bacon, just make sure you chop it up)
  • 7 x large mushrooms sliced (about 150g) – I used normal white mushrooms (you can use chesnut)
  • 1tsp of whole milk for brushing.

Tasty ingredients

Tasty ingredients

Method:

1. First thing to do is boil or steam the asparagus spears (depends on your preference) for between 6 – 9 mins – if you put a knife into the stem then it should cgo through easily. (I boiled mine). Whilst that is on, preheat your oven to 200 Degrees or 180 Fan. Set aside once tender.

Asparagus

2. Whilst that is happening, slice your mushrooms and then in a dry frying pan cook the pancetta pieces (no need for oil as the pancetta will release its own oils) once, they are nice and crispy add the mushrooms and continue to cook for a bit until tender. Set aside once complete.

Mushrooms and Pancetta Bits

 

3. Next put the crème fraiche and grated parmesan into a pot and gently warm through until the cheese is melted. Once warmed through set aside.

Crème Fresh & Parmesan Cheese

 

5. Line a baking sheet/tray with greaseproof paper and spray with some cooking spray or simply dust with some flour. If you have a square of puff pastry then you will need to roll it out into a rectangular shape and transfer to the baking sheet on the tray (if it is already rolled, simply transfer to the baking sheet). using a sharp knife make an indentation about 1.5cm around the whole edge of the tart (make sure you don’t cut through the pastry) .

6. Spoon about half of the crème fraiche onto the rolled out puff sheet and try to keep the mixture within your lines that you made in the pastry.

Rolled out puff sheet with base

 

7. Next put the asparagus spears on top of the pastry however you like and then scatter the pancetta and mushrooms all around. Then add the remainder of the crème fraiche to the tart by spooning it over the ingredients so it looks something like this –

Ready for the oven

 

8. Put it into the oven and bake for between 20 – 30 minutes. It will be ready when the sides start to brown and the crème fresh starts to go golden brown in patches. As you will see from my tart below some of the crème fraiche escaped the edges, but it still came out really well.

Tart Fresh out the oven

9. Slice and serve immediately and enjoy.

Tasty

Tasty

I am entering this recipe into the dish of the month competition as it was inspired from my copy of the Kitchen Diaries II.

Which is hosted by Janice from  Farmersgirl kitchen and Sue from  a little bit of heaven on a plate

Until next time.

Cheers

Deon

x

 

Feta Cheese, Sundried Tomato and Oregano Bread.

So this week, I was looking at some of the blogs I follow and I came across a really interesting blog – http://fromagehomage.co.uk/ which is all about cheese. I am not sure about you, but I love cheese and my husband loves it too! So imagine my delight when I stumbled across this blog and I was even more delighted to see that every month they run a Cheese Please blog challenge where each month a different cheese is selected and then you come with a recipe using that cheese. So this month, was Feta, there were numerous things which I thought about for this, but decided to make bead in the end as it is something slightly different.

So that being said, here is my entry for the August’s Cheese Please blog challenge – Feta Cheese, Sundried Tomato and Oregano Bread. Big thank you to my wonderful husband for his assistance throughout, couldn’t have done it without him!

Equipment required:

  • 1 x Large mixing bowl
  • 1 x either proving basket, bread tin or simply a baking tray/stone
  • 1 x shower cap
  • 1 x dough scraper (or just use your hands!)

Recipe:

  • 500g Strong White Bread Flour (I used Stoneground Organic Flour from Stoates Flour – feel free to use whatever you normally use but make sure it is bread flour).
  • 17g Polenta (you can use Semolina)
  • 14g Fresh Yeast
  • 6g Salt
  • 260g Tepid Water
  • 40g Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 70g Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • 150g Feta Cheese Crumbled (I used Waitrose essential – you can use whatever you like as long as its feta!)
  • 1g Dried Oregano

Method:

  1. Firstly put the flour and the polenta in a big mixing bowl
    The Beginning

    The Beginning

  2. Then put the yeast in and coat it in the flour by crumbling it in the flour – you just need to coat it, don’t overwork it.
  3. Next add the salt, sundried tomatoes, oregano.
    Next stage

    Next stage

  4. Then add the water and olive oil. Mix together in the bowl until you have a rough dough like consistency in the bowl and then tip onto your work surface using your dough scraper or hands. (Don’t worry if there are bits left in the bowl, either scrape them out or leave them in.
  5. Check the time and knead for about 10 mins until you have an elastic quality and the surface is smooth. The dough should not be wet or sticking to your hands at this stage, it should be easy to work and should ease back when you stretch it out.
  6. Using your hands flatten out the dough into a rectangular shape – something like this –

Dough

6. Then sprinkle the feta cheese over it and start to roll it up from the one side – should look like this –

Feta is being incorporated

7. Once rolled up, flatten it out again and repeat the process until you have incorporated all the feta cheese. Once you are finished, it should look something like this –

Ready for first proving.

8. You can then put it back into the same mixing bowl that you used and then cover it with a shower cap (if you don’t have a shower cap, use cling film!) –

Proving in bowl with shower cap

9. Set your time for 45 mins to 1 hour (depending on the weather – if warmer towards 45 min mark, if cooler, towards the hour mark). After you have let it prove then it should’ve doubled in size and look something like this –

Doubled in size - ready for stage two.

10. You then gently flatten it down with the knuckles of your hand so that you knock the air out. Now you need to pull out a section and fold it back into the middle and you need to do this all the way round the dough on your work surface – the next sequence of photos will give you an idea –

Stretching out 1

Stretching out 2

11. Once this is done and all the sides are folded in, carefully turn it over and shape it into the size of the tin/proving basket or whatever you are using (do this gently and don’t make it the full size, as it will rise again – so at this stage it will look like this –

Shaping for second proving

12. Carefully place it in the bread tin/proving basket and cover with the shower cap (make sure that you make it into a pyramid shape so that it is not flat as the bread will stick to it and you don’t want that! If no shower cap, at this stage use a plastic shopping bag – not cling film!).Shaped and in the tin.

With shower cap.

13. Set your timer for 45 mins, check that it has risen and if so, turn your oven onto 220 Degrees (*Top Tip – if you have a fan, don’t use it as it doesn’t distribute the heat evenly and you don’t get a nice bake, so just a normal none fan assisted oven). Set the timer now for 10 mins (purely to allow the oven to get hot. When the time goes, you should have a loaf that looks like this –

At the end of second proving

14. You then need to carefully using a VERY sharp knife or carefully using a razor blade make between 3 to 6 slices over the top of the bread – like this –

Sliced across the top.

I sliced it 6 times, you can slice it 3 or however many you feel and in any shape/design you like!

14. You then spray it with some olive oil and sprinkle the top with dried oregano – should look something like this –

Sprinkled with Oregano and Sprayed with Olive Oil

15. Pop the bread in the oven and bake it in the oven for 37 mins. You will be able to tell that it is done by when you take it out the oven, tap it lightly on the bottom of the loaf (be careful as it is hot!) and it should sound hollow. Your loaf at this stage should look like this – Looks good hey?! 😉 Your kitchen at this stage should smell awesome! That wonderful Mediterranean herby smell! Mmmmm!

The finished baked Feta, Sundried Tomato and Oregano Loaf

16. Leave to cool on a wire rack (don’t cut into it no matter how good it smells!) and once cool cut into it and enjoy – I made this in the evening and once it was cooled down put a clean dish towel over it to protect it until I came to eat it the next morning – this will help to retain the crust on it.

17. This is what it looks like cut into –

The sliced loaf - gorgeous crumb and texture.

Pop into a toaster or put some butter and your topping of choice on it and enjoy – I used avocado.

I am entering this recipe into the August’s Cheese Please! Recipe Challenge.

Bacon Brownies.

Hello Everyone,

Sorry for the silence this week, I started a different phase of my job and so had less time than previously so just a case of making some time!

Anyway, its August now and in theory summer is now officially here, yesterday in London was just divine – so lovely and hot and even the breeze was hot, made feel like I was on holiday! Sadly though, I was at work.

So this week and last weekend, I have made quite a few things, some successful, some not so much, still, we solider on don’t we?!

I made Bacon Brownies, now, this was an experience, admittedly I was suffering quite a bad hangover at the time (note to self, try to avoid baking when terribly hungover!) I tended to rush a few of the processes where I should have actually been more considered and patient and done the processes in stages. So to that effect, I may make the brownies again this weekend, but this time stick to the recipe properly and not try and do all the steps at once, it didn’t work!

The brownies involved making caramel, which I must confess, I have made once before and it wasn’t particularly successful and a touch burnt, this time as it was a dry caramel, well, needless to say, I managed to rescue some of it, but there was still an overriding taste of burnt which did kind of work in the actual brownie mix, but yes, not my best effort!

So, if you feel like trying out the recipe, here it is with my slight amendments – the original is here.

Top tip for making caramel, I wish I had read this before I actually started, but you live and you learn – read this article here. That article is from the amazing David Lebovitz, go check out his blog, there are some amazing recipes there.

One last top tip – if you burn the caramel and you have some stuck to your pan, then simply cover the caramel mixture which is stuck to the pan/pot with coco cola and leave to sit overnight. The next morning, there will be no trace of the caramel and you can simply just pour the coke in the pan down the sink and voilà you have a clean pan – just give it a rinse and you have a perfectly usable pan again. I must say, I was quite amazed as I really didn’t think it would work!

So now for the recipe.

Bacon Salted Caramel Brownies:

Bacon Brownies Fresh out the oven

 

Ingredients:

Recipe inspired by Annie my aunt, adapted from Rebecca’s recipe (link above) which in turn was adapted from David Lebovitz.

For the salted bacon caramel:

  • 6 slices of streaky bacon (I find this crisps up better)
  • 1/2 cup double cream
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 90g of salted butter

For the Brownies:

  • 115g salted butter cut into pieces
  • 180g of dark chocolate (I just broke it into pieces as I took it out the wrapper – try and use 70% or more coca solids)
  • 1/4 cup coco powder – I used green and blacks but use whatever you have in your store cupboard.
  • 3 larges eggs
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain flour.

Instructions:

  1. 1. In a shallow pan fry the 6 slices of bacon until crisp, I recommend cutting the bacon in pieces or as the other recipe suggests in half but you can do it whole!). Remove bacon once crisp and set aside. Leave bacon fat (grease) in the pan and then add the cream to the hot pan and let it cool. Once the bacon has cooled, crumble or chop finely. I was too impatient at this stage and had already started the caramel, I recommend that you do actually wait for the cream mixture to cool before making the caramel.
  2. In a larger pan (I used a pot – if its your first time making caramel make sure it is a pan you are not worried about possibly ruining!) heat the sugar over a high heat (watch it carefully though!) until the mixture is liquid and a deep amber colour – with this process you can stir the sugar (read above how to make caramel!) so that it doesn’t burn and stick!. Once it is a deep amber colour, add the butter and the cooled bacon cream all at once (now you see why so important to let it cool!) and stir until the butter is melted , you should hopefully get a nice toffee colour happening. At the chopped bacon and let cool thoroughly.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, I didn’t use fan, but if you do, then use it at 160 degrees I would imagine.
  4. Line a square baking tin with grease proof paper ensuring that it covers the bottom and side of the tin. Grease with butter or spray with low fat cooking spray which works really well.
  5. In a large microwavable bowl, melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave (start with 30 seconds and stir thoroughly , then microwave for 10 seconds at a time stirring each time  (I found I only need two of these!) until the chocolate and butter is incorporated together. You can of course do this the traditional way by putting the bowl over a simmering pan of hot water on the stove – up to you!). Add the coca and whisk until smooth, then add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each time, then add the sugar, again, whisking it in, then the vanilla and finally the flour. Stir only until combined, so make sure that you use a fairly substantial size bowl.
  6. Pour half the batter into the prepared baking tin. Then dot around about a third of the bacon caramel mixture, evenly spaced over the whole area. it doesn’t need to cover the whole area just make sure there are nice splotches everywhere. Pour over the rest of the brownie mixture the drop spoonfuls over the top of the mixture and using a skewer swirl it all around so it gets slightly incorporated. Yum!
  7. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until its slightly gooey in the middle but still firm. Mine looked slightly undercooked this was due to the caramel melting again, it was actually cooked, so make sure you don’t dry it out!
  8. Then cut into pieces once slightly cooled down and eat by itself or serve with bacon ice cream or any other ice-cream!

Bacon Brownie with Bacon Icecream

 

The bacon ice cream was made by my husband and was in my opinion delicious. You can find the recipe for that here.

Thats it from me – I will be back soon with another post, until then have a fabulous weekend.

Cheers

Deon

x

Picnic Plait.

So as promised in yesterday’s blog, I will now give you the recipe for the Picnic Loaf which I made over the weekend. I got this recipe out of book Bread Making by Ruth Clemens. She makes everything really quite simple and you can see her blog over here. This recipe is not on her blog, but I am it is her recipe! There is also a cheats way to make it, which I will share at the end of the blog!

Recipe for Picnic Plait:

Ingredients:

Pre-Ferment

  • 100g (3 1/2oz) strong white bread flour
  • 2tsp fast action dry yeast
  • 125ml/125g (4 1/2fl oz / 4 1/2 oz) water, cold.

Dough

  • 200g (7oz) strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 large egg

Filling

  • 125 g (4 1/2 oz) (4-5) slices of thick cut roast ham (I used thin sliced ham and about 10 slices and it was fine!)
  • 75g (2 3/4 oz) cherry tomatoes quartered (I used normal vine tomatoes and just sliced them and it was fine!)
  • 75 g (2 3/4 oz) mozzarella (I used cheddar grated and it was fine!)
  • Small handful of basil leaves (or chives or other herb – your choice).

Glaze

  • 1 egg beaten.

Tip: You can make up your own filling for this recipe to suit your own taste, so if you are vegetarian, then you don’t need the ham. All you need to remember is to balance the dry ingredients with the wet ones, otherwise you will end up with a soggy dough.

Method:

Step 1.

Mix together the preferment ingredients in a bowl and cover with cling film and allow to develop for at least 4 hours or overnight in a cool kitchen or in the fridge. Once developed the preferment should be bubbly and have increased in volume. My fridge is quite cold so it didn’t develop as well as perhaps it should’ve done, all I did was left out of the fridge for about and 1 hour and it developed nicely, so don’t worry if it doesn’t look like it is working!

Step 2.

Add all dough ingredients to the pre-ferment and mix it into a rough dough. Tip out of the bowl and then knead it on a smooth work surface for about 10 minutes until smooth.  Transfer the dough to a lightly oil bowl (I used olive oil), cover with cling film or a shower cap and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

After kneading and about to rest for 1 1/2 hours.

After kneading and about to rest for 1 1/2 hours.

Step 3.

Once the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a work surface (there is no need to oil or flour the surface to prevent it from sticking as it will be a little oily from the bowl). Gently roll it out into a 30cm x 30cm square (I didn’t manage to do this so it was a bit oblong, but that is fine!). Then gently press a finger at the bottom edge of the dough to mark the square or oblong into thirds.

Step 4.

You now need to fill the plait, so in the middle section which you have marked out, you need to use half the ham or filling of your choice to cover this section (before I laid down the ham, I actually put a layer of homemade chilli sauce, you could use ketchup or pesto or bbq sauce if you wanted, or leave it plain!) then scatter over the tomatoes, cheese and basil leaves (or whatever herbs you are using) before covering with the sliced ham. It should now look something like this –

Middle Section Filled

Middle Section Filled

Step 5.

You now need to make vertical cuts at the top and bottom of the dough so that the central sections form flaps that will be folded in later. Now make diagonal cuts at a 45 degree angle from the top corner of the dough to the filling on each side. The should be about 2.5cm (1 inch) apart. Cut away the two triangles at the very top and the bottom of each side. It should look something like this –

Plaits cut and triangles removed.

Plaits cut and triangles removed.

 

Step 6.

It is now ready to be plaited. Fold the flaps at the top and the bottom down over the filling. Then take the top strip of the dough from the left and fold it diagonally over the filling. Then fold in the strip from the right and overlap. Repeat the plaiting all the way down, one from the left one from the right and you should end up with something looking similar to this –

The finished plaited loaf waiting to prove.

The finished plaited loaf waiting to prove.

Carry on plaiting until all down and once finished tuck the straps underneath the loaf (I must admit that I had put slightly too much filling so it didn’t quite end up going all the way round to seal in the filling). Once this is done and you are happy with it (don’t worry if there are slight gaps, this is fine and doesn’t affect the finished product!) Gently pick it up and transfer the loaf to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, use both hands to support the plait otherwise it is liable to break up. Looking like this –

Ready for final prove.

Ready for final prove.

Step 7.

You then cover the plait with a clean dish towel and place it in a warm spot to puff and double in size (I left mine for about 30 mins, to be honest, it probably could’ve been left for longer, but if it looks like it has risen and doubled in size then you are ready to go!) Preheat your oven to 180 oC(fan)/200oC/400oF/Gas Mark 6. When the plait has risen brush all over with beaten egg and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes until golden all over. (I chose to use the normal oven without the fan as I didn’t want the paper blowing everywhere!). Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

You should hopefully have something which looks like this –

2013-07-19 16.48.40

 

As you can see, I used the left over triangle to make a little snack with some cheese and chilli sauce!

As my plaits weren’t completely sealed, some of my cheese did melt out, but to be honest, it didn’t detract from the flavour as there was still some cheese in there and it didn’t affect the integrity of the bake. Once it has cooled completely you can then cover with a tea towel and take it on your picnic where you can wow your guests by cutting it open in front of them!

It should hopefully look like this inside –

Sliced and ready to be eaten!

Sliced and ready to be eaten!

I do hope that you enjoy making this – it really is not a difficult as it appears and the end result is amazing! I will definitely be making it again!

As promised, below is a link for a really simple picnic loaf where you can just essentially buy the bread already made and use a variety of fillings. Please note that I haven’t tried this recipe but am sharing it with you to give you an option.

I took this loaf recipe from Jacqueline Meldrum on her blog . Click here for the recipe for the stuffed picnic loaf option.

I will confess to not having made this, but I thought you all would appreciate an option for those days when you are not in the mood t bake!

Happy baking and have a good week.

Cheers

Deon

A weekend of baking.

Hello and welcome to the start of a new week. I hope you all had a great weekend and looking forward to the week to come, as much as that is possible! 😉

I had a great weekend this past weekend and did rather a lot of baking and my husband made some nice bread for our lunch yesterday as well.

First up, I made a picnic loaf which was totally delicious even if I do say so myself! It was quite an involved process though as I had to start the pre-ferment the evening before. I will do a separate post later this week with full details of the picnic loaf and how to make it, but in the meantime this is what it looks like –

The Finished picnic loaf

The Finished picnic loaf

The bread which my husband made was a basic olive oil loaf but he added chilli, onion and olives to it – it was delicious and when served with homemade bruschetta, oh my – tasty! Here is a picture of the bread fresh out the oven –

Chilli, Onion and Olive Loafs

Chilli, Onion and Olive Loaves

So as you can see very busy.

 

As we were having friends over for lunch yesterday (Sunday) I made the Gin and Tonic cake – all I can say is wow! It really is tasty and I totally think everyone should try it at least once in their lives, its that good! And as it is so good, I will share the recipe with you – I found this recipe on http://www.berkeleyside.com/2013/06/05/gin-and-tonic-cake-a-cocktail-turned-confection/, however so that you don’t have to keep clicking I detail it below.

Word of warning though, make sure that your cake tin has clipped in securely – mine unfortunately had a little bit of leakage out the side due to not being lined properly!

Recipe for Gin and Tonic Cake:

It makes an 8″ round cake; serves 10-12)
Ingredients:
3 small limes
45 juniper berries (about 1 tablespoon) waitrose or Tesco sell these.
2 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup gin, divided (preferably St. George Spirits’ Terroir) I used Tesco own brand and it was still divine.
¾ cup tonic water (fresh; not flat)
2 cups icing sugar
Method:
Line an 8” cake pan with parchment paper; lightly grease paper and sides of pan.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Finely zest limes; set aside zest.  Juice limes and measure out ¼ cup juice and, separately, 1 tablespoon juice; set both aside. Using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, mash 30 of the juniper berries until small flakes are formed; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, granulated sugar and vanilla until even and smooth. You can use your paddle attachment of the mixer here, no need to use a whisk attachment.
Sift over the egg mixture: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix on low speed, gradually adding 1/4 cup lime juice and 1/3 cup gin.  Beat until smooth. Toss in the lime zest and crushed juniper berries, mixing until evenly disbursed. Gently fold in the tonic water with a spatula, then quickly pour into prepared pan.  (If desired, watch the batter bubble, brown and gloriously raise in your oven!)
Ultimately, bake the cake for about 40-45 minutes, checking center with a wooden skewer or toothpick at the 35 or 40 minute mark; cake is done when golden, domed, and no wet batter appears. Remove cake from oven and let cool in pan at least 20-30 minutes. (For a stronger gin flavor, brush the cake with 1-2 more tablespoons of gin at this point, if desired.) Loosen sides of cake with a butter knife, and carefully transfer cake to a wire rack placed over a baking sheet (this is important as when you pour the icing over it will drip down the sides and make a mess of your surface!).
While cake cools a bit longer on rack, place the powdered sugar, remaining tablespoon lime juice, and remaining 1/3 cup gin in a saucepan. Whisk over low/medium heat until just bubbling. Let bubble for about 20-30 seconds (longer will turn sugar into a clear sticky glaze). Remove from heat and keep stirring.
Working quickly, pour half of the glaze over cake; it will harden quickly.  Immediately repeat with second half of glaze, letting it drip down the sides of the cake. Reserve a bit of glaze in pan, tossing the remaining 15 juniper berries in it.  If glaze in pan is already too hard, place pan over low heat momentarily. Using small tongs or baking tweezers (I didn’t have either so just placed the berries in and poured them onto the cake at the very end and arranged them by hand) , quickly place glazed juniper berries evenly around edges of cake and a few in the center.  (You will note that mine are not neatly arranged, but you can arrange them neatly around the edges if you so desire!)   Store the cake covered at room temperature (don’t refrigerate); eat within 2 or 3 days.
Finished Gin and Tonic Cake

Finished Gin and Tonic Cake

This is quite a boozy cake but seriously tasty and was eaten very fast! So next time you have a gathering or fancy making something a bit different, then I seriously recommend that you give this a try!
That’s all for this post – I hope you enjoyed reading and seriously, if you do one thing this summer – make this cake, you won’t regret it!
Until next time.
Cheers
Deon

 

My First cake orders.

So a couple of weeks ago, I got a call from a friend of a friend who said that she was having a mothering blessing for my friend, and would I be interested in making some cakes for her as this friend had seen pictures of my cakes all over facebook and desperately want to try them! I said of course, so we settled on a chocolate cake and a carrot cake.

The chocolate cake was a nice simple recipe given to me by my sister-in-law and was the first cake I ever made! I have since adapted the recipe slightly and changed the ganache, which my lovely husband kindly decorated for me, I used white chocolate and dark chocolate – the results can be seen below –

2013-07-05 21.53.19

I then made a carrot cake, again given using a recipe which was given to me by my sister-in-law – this has to be the best carrot cake I have ever tasted – everyone says it is just so moist and my neighbor often requests this for her birthday cake! 🙂  Picture below –

2013-07-05 19.39.30

If you would like the recipes for either cakes, please just let me know by leaving a comment below and I will happily do a separate post detailing each recipe!

The same weekend, we had my ex boss for Sunday lunch and she loves chocolate – the only request was can you do chocolate for starter, main and desert. As much as I would’ve liked to do that, I decided to do a fabulous chocolate mousse cake for desert instead, which came out really well – the next time I do, I will use a slightly deeper cake tin though! I used the recipe from Rachel Allen Cake – fabulous book!

The chocolate mousse cake –

2013-07-06 14.43.53

Now doesn’t that look fabulous?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this and I will be back soon with a few new cakes – I am going to attempt a gin and tonic cake this weekend!

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