Tag Archives: #treat

YORKSHIRE PUDDINGS… a Sunday Roast is not a Sunday Roast without them. Aunt Bessie eat your heart out!

14 Jul

20130628-073606.jpgAs per the title of this post, a Sunday Roast is not a Sunday Roast without YORKSHIRE PUDDINGS… and many of them.  Don’t get me wrong, I do love going out for a Sunday Lunch, however I only ever get ONE Yorkshire Pudding and I find that very very upsetting.

When I was a little girl Yorkshire Puddings were the thing we always argued every Sunday… and that was not just me and my little sister.  That was my Mum and Dad too!  My mum would make a ‘batch’ of yorkshire puddings.  Sometimes this would be 12 and as we got older it would be 16.  Then when Mark joined our family (my wee sisters other half) we started making 20.  So… ‘3 each’ or ‘4 each’ was the rule shouted as they were brought into the dining room.  During the meal we would ask each other ‘how many have you had?’ and we would systematically go around the table.  Sometimes LIES were told.  This would cause chaos… especially if you had simply and innocently forgotten how many you had (cough cough).

So… we grew up with Mum making Yorkshire Puddings every Sunday and therefore my sister and I are adept at making Yorkshire’s.  I therefore find it very ODD that people are shocked and amazed when I whip up a batch and don’t rely on Aunt Bessie’s fake, thin and skimpy puddings.  OH NO.  If I did that Mum would disown me, and rightly so.

In fact neither my sister nor I use a recipe, so this is going to be quite hard for me to write!  But here we go…

PREPARATION TIME: 10 minutes

COOKING TIME: 15 minutes

MAKES: 12 Yorkshire Puddings

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 heaped tablespoons of plain flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • Milk (enough to make a smooth batter)
  • Vegetable oil / lard /butter

HOW TO MAKE THE PUDDINGS…

First things first and possibly the MOST important stage.  Get out the Yorkshire Pudding tin… which is the one that is smaller than a muffin tin and is used to bake buns not cupcakes.  (I hope this makes sense!)  To each well in the Yorkshire Pudding tin add 1/2 a teaspoon of oil/butter/lard.  I prefer to use vegetable oil as I don’t think it adds a taste to the puddings.  Now place this in a hot oven – so heat the oven to 200 degrees (gas mark 5) and then place in the tray with the oil.  You want to leave this to ensure that the oil is very hot, which should take about 10 minutes.  Whilst this heats up, lets make the batter…

In a medium sized bowl (or if you are like me I find it easier to use a measuring jug, as it will allow me to pour the mixture out neatly) place the 4 heaped tablespoons of plain flour in and add to that the pinch of salt (but only a pinch).

Mix together the salt and flour and then make a well in the centre – a hole!  (I say this to the children I work with and they look at me like I am crazy!!)  It simply means make a space in the centre.  Into here add the egg (obviously crack it open!) and then add a good glug of milk.  If you want some help here, about 6 tablespoons of milk – but it doesn’t matter if its slightly more or less at this stage.

Now, using a fork start whisking the egg and milk (only) in the centre.  Keep going and you will notice that gradually the flour starts to stick and come into the mix, keep going and going until a lot of the flour has come into the milk/egg now you should be starting to get a think paste… don’t let it get too thick as so far you will have avoided lumps.

Add a dash of milk and continue to mix.  Add another dash of milk and repeat.  You can now bring in the rest of the flour by mixing around the sides of the bowl and add another dash of milk.

The batter for Yorkshire Puddings and pancakes is the same, the only difference is the thickness.  For pancakes you want a very thin consistency, for puddings you want a thick batter.  So in between the consistency of houmous and pancake batter.  (Hummm this is hard to explain).  So keep adding milk until you get the batter to this consistency and whisk well to ensure there are no lumps.

Now your oil should be hot, so take the tin out of the oven (using a glove) and begin pouring in the batter.  You want to fill each well up until it is approx. two thirds full – this will allow room for rising.  You also need to act very quickly as you need the oil to be hot as the batter hits it.  So, fill each well and then get them puddings straight into the oven.

Leave for 15 minutes and DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN.  If you do they could drop and then you won’t get the impressive rise.  After 15 minutes open the oven and have a peak.  If they are golden they are ready.  I like mine a little doughy/heavy so I take them out after 15 minutes.  If you like them lighter in weight and darker in colour then leave them for another 5 minutes.

Add them to your roast dinner after declaring ‘2 each’ or ‘3 each’ and enjoy!  Any leftover batter (if you are cooking for one or two) could be used as pancakes… you just need to add more milk.  ENJOY and please… don’t fight.

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My finished YORKSHIRE PUDDINGS… GOBBLE GOBBLE!

Shortbread SISTA’s… with some sisterly LOVE x

23 Jun

20130623-105240.jpgLast month I popped home… to the North, for a long weekend and we decided to have a family baking day.  My little sister was DYING to show me her shortbread recipe and as I had just purchased some cheeky little LOVE heart cutters, it seemed completely apt to get them out and make some sisterly shortbreads.

So, I do hope you enjoy the recipe, my little hand model and the abuse I got during this baking session… but we love each other really and its all part of the fun of baking!

We decided to play around with the shortbread recipe, so we made some plain shortbreads with cinnamon sugar on the top and then we made some chocolate shortbreads, which were wonderful and last but not least some almond and cinnamon shortbreads.  All of them were absolutely delicious and very quick / easy to prepare

PREPARATION TIME: 8 minutes (per batch)

COOKING TIME: 20 minutes (per batch)

MAKES: 8 shortbreads (per batch, we made 3 batches as per the below!)

INGREDIENTS:

Gemma’s basic shortbreads, which follow the 3 to 2 to 1 recipe…

  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g butter
  • 50g sugar

…We added cinnamon sugar to the top of these, so mix 50g brown sugar with 2 tsp cinnamon and then sprinkle over the top before baking.

Rebecca’s chocolate  shortbreads…

  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g butter
  • 50g sugar
  • 80g dark chocolate / milk chocolate /white chocolate (broken up into bits)

SallyAnn’s almond and cinnamon shortbreads…

  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 100g butter
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

… you could add the cinnamon sugar to the top of these too, just for some extra tastiness.

HOW TO MAKE THE LOVELY SHORTBREADS…

You definitely don’t have to make all three batches of these shortbreads, you could just choose one and have a go.  They really are one of the most simple recipes I have ever made.  At first, when my sister suggested it I was concerned that they would take a long time to prepare as my perception was that shortbreads are quite a tricky, fiddly thing to make, but they really really are not and as we demonstrated you can play around with the ingredients and add whatever you like.  We did not follow a recipe for the chocolate / almond shortbreads, we just got a few ingredients out of the cupboard and had a go (which I think is the fun of baking).

I would urge anyone who is a keen baker to start experimenting with recipes and flavours, it really adds a new dimension to baking and I think its something that has really changed my baking style over the last year and using a new ingredient is not something that phases me.  When I next make these shortbreads I am going to play around with a home-made apple purée and apricots/almonds or even one batch with dates.

  1. Weigh out the butter and place this in a large bowl.
  2. To this add the sugar.
  3. Cream together the butter and the sugar.
  4. Weigh out the flour and add this to the mixture.
  5. Bring together into a smooth, thick paste.

If at this stage you have made a double/triple batch of this mixture then separate out and add whatever fillings you like either chocolate or almonds or apricots.  I am going to show you (with the help of my hand model) how to make these shortbreads.

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First, flour your worktop.

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Take your shortbread dough out of the bowl and then shape gently into a round.

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Pat down a little.

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Roll out…. Roll 3 times one way and then turn 90 degrees. Roll again and then rotate again.

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Roll out until the dough is about 1cm to 1.5cm thick.

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Now you can cut out your shortbreads into whatever shape you desire. We choose love hearts (to use my new cutters). If you don’t have a cutter, you could use a stencil like the one below…

heartpattern

Use this stencil if you want to make love hearts and don’t have a cutter!

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Cut out all your shapes and then gently remove from the dough. Bring the dough that is left together, but DO NOT PLAY WITH. Literally bring into a lump/ball and then place to one side.

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Place gently on your baking tray. Line the baking tray with a non-stick sheet, but if you don’t have one of these use butter to grease the tray.

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If you want to make chocolate ones, add the chocolate and then bring together into a dough.

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Roll to 1cm to 1.5cm then cut out…

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Space evenly on the baking tray and then, if you are sprinkling with sugar, do this at this stage, before you bake the shortbreads. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees / gas mark 4 for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden but not brown. You want them to be doughy/soft inside, not hard and crunchy!

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Now it is time to tidy up!!

I hope you shortbreads turn out well… I shall leave you with some of the silliness that happened whilst we were baking!  And no… piggybacking was not offered… I was JUMPED on.  When asked if I could have a piggyback I was told ‘Oooo no, really, but your the big sister who is supposed to give the little sister piggybacks.  Little sisters can’t give them to big sisters as they are BIG‘.  Charming.

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IT’S MY BIRTHDAY… and I got given this beautiful, delicious cake… I LOVE JAM SPONGE CAKE.

31 May

Birthday CakeThis was the birthday cake I got given on Friday 10th May, ready for my birthday and party on Saturday 11th May.  I literally could not believe my eyes.  It was completely and utterly wonderful, not only because of the fabulous decoration and the lovely personalisation but the cake itself tasted delicious, moist, spongy and overall stunning.  I was one VERY happy lady, VERY spoilt lady.  My favourite things, flowers (specifically Gerbera’s) and cake.  EPIC.

The cake may have been a ‘simple sponge cake’ but that was a huge understatement.  Everyone thinks they can make a Victoria sponge cake and they can… it’s easy, but getting a ‘simple sponge’ to be indulgent and worthy of a birthday cake isn’t an easy task. It takes a while to perfect the basic recipe and the baking technique, but once you have got it – as Leanne Camilleri certainly has, you will be away.

Have you ever had a birthday cake from the supermarket… has it felt ‘fluffy’ in your mouth?  I have, and it did.  It also left a strange taste in my mouth and did not leave me wanting more.  Basically, the cake is made from non-fresh ingredients, so keep manufacturing costs low and to increase the profit margin.  So your lovely birthday cake will contain a range of dried milk, pasteurised eggs, syrup and raising agents – which does NOT say HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME.

Here is an ingredient list of a standard sponge ‘birthday cake’ from one of the leading retailers…

Sugar , Wheat Flour , Pasteurised Egg , Vegetable Oil , Buttercream (9.6%) [Unsalted Butter, Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Flavouring] , Raspberry Jam (8.4%) [Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Raspberries, Water, Gelling Agent (Pectin), Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid), Flavouring] , Glucose Syrup , Dextrose , Water , Emulsifier (Mono and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids) , Wheat Starch , Raising Agents (Diphosphates, Sodium Carbonates) , Maize Starch , Salt , Stabilisers (Xanthan Gum, Tragacanth) , Preservative (Potassium Sorbate) , Humectant (Glycerol) , Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid) , Colours (Anthocyanins, Carotenes, Titanium Dioxide, Lutein) , Vegetable Concentrates (Algae, Safflower, Beetroot) , Dried Egg White.

My lovely cake from Leanne Camilleri did not contain any of these unnecessary dried/pasteurised ingredients, it was very obviously made from fresh ingredients and this was obvious from the very first bite.  So I am going to provide you with a very lovely, very simple sponge cake recipe so that you to can make all your own sponge cakes from now on.  DO NOT BUY FROM THE SUPERMARKET, it’s easier, tastier and cheaper to make it yourself.

MY BIRTHDAY CAKE (a few images for you here!)

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With candles and complete with all my friends singing away!

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… it’s time to make a wish!

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Time to cut the cake. Believe me I felt very guilty about this!

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The first slice is out…

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… and wow 4 layer! NOW TO EAT.

Leanne Camilleri makes cakes like this as a hobby, so if you would like a cake similar to mine, or maybe something more specific, do let me know and hopefully I can put you in touch with Leanne who can make you one of these wonderful, incredible, tasty, beautiful cakes.  I cannot thank her and my lovely friend for the generous thought enough.  You truly made my birthday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to ME… It’s my birthday MONTH… so let’s eat cake & celebrate!

15 May

IMG_5335This month is my birthday month… so it’s only right to celebrate with cakes and lots of them.  All my friends will testify that I am the baker and for everyone’s birthday I always provide a cake.  I love making them, giving them and generally spreading the LOVE.  Which neatly takes me onto the cakes I made last night for the girls.  I decided (on getting home from work) that I would just quickly rustle something up and 45 minutes later (including decoration time) the cakes were made… and they tasted scrummy!

In true ‘gemsfoodgems’ style I decided to make these cakes healthier than just a normal sponge cake/cupcake, so I rifled through the baking cupboard (yes we have one of these in our house) and decided to change my normal recipe for this one… (see below).  The dark brown sugar gives quite a ‘fruity’, ‘rich’ taste and the wholemeal flour increases the fibre content but also makes it a slightly less ‘airy’ sponge.  Its a little more doughy and it tastes luxurious.

I then went to town on the decoration with a block of regal icing, some white chocolate icing tubes and some coloured sprinkles and (without blowing my own trumpet) I created a little bit of a masterpiece…

… quick, simple, pretty, yummy cakes.  What more could a girl want?

MAKES: 12 small buns

PREPARATION TIME:

  • 5 minutes to make the cake mixture.
  • 30 minutes to decorate the cakes, depending on how elaborate you want the cakes to look.

COOKING TIME: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

For the cakes…

  • 100g margarine
  • 100g dark brown muscavado sugar
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 50g plain self raising flour
  • 50g self raising wholemeal flour
  • 12 cake/bun cases

For the decoration…

  • 100g ready-to-roll regal icing
  • 10 – 15 drops pink food colouring
  • 1 tube of white chocolate icing (or any icing tube you have)
  • 1 pot of multi-coloured sprinkles
  • 1 love heart stencil/cutter (or you can freehand like I did)

HOW TO MAKE THE CAKES…

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees / gas mark 4 and place the cake cases in a small bun tray – they are about half the size of a muffin case/muffin tray.

First cream together the margarine and the dark brown muscavado sugar in a large bowl.

Next break the 2 eggs into the margarine and sugar and mix together well.

Sieve the white flour and the wholemeal flour into the mix and stir in until there are no lumps of flour left.  You will need to stir right down to the base of the bowl, to ensure that you have got all the flour mixed in.

Place a dessert spoon size of mixture into each cake case and then bake in the oven for 15 minutes.  Insert a knife/skewer into the cake and if it comes out clean then the cakes are cooked.  If not pop them back into the oven for 2 – 3 minutes and test again.  Carefully remove the buns/cakes from the tray and place on a baking tray to cool.

Whilst the cakes cook, you can start preparing the decorations.  Cut approx. 100g of icing off the block of regal icing, cling-film the rest tightly and you can save this for another baking day.  Add 10 – 15 drops of food colouring (start with 10 first) and then start folding the icing over the colouring using your fingers until it is all mixed in.  The colouring/icing will start to marble at first but just carry on.  If the colour is as dark as you want it then fine, if not add some more colouring and continue.

Your hands may be warm and starting to feel a little sticky.  The ONLY thing to stop this is cornflour, so sprinkle some of this over your worktop/table and rub some into your hands.

Place the ball of coloured icing in the centre of your workspace and cover with a little cornflour, turn over and repeat.  Rub cornflour all over your rolling pin and then gently begin to roll the icing.  Roll 3 times and then turn 90 degrees – this will keep the icing loose and prevent it from sticking.  You will also need to keep rubbing cornflour underneath the icing to ensure that it isn’t sticking, so do this each time you turn it.

Personally I don’t like extremely thick layers of icing, especially not on such a small cake (its also pure sugar, so its not exactly healthy!) so roll the icing out until it is about 3mm thick.  If you want to copy my patterns, then use this love heart below (print out the stencil) and cut it out the gently place on the icing and using a sharp knife cut around the template.

heartpattern

Perfect sized love heart for the top of your little bun/cake.  Print this off, cut around it and use it as your template.

Once you have cut out the love heart shape, gently free and place to one side.  Make 12 of these and then once the cakes are cooled you can get creative and start decorating your cakes.  So, squeeze a pea sized amount of the white chocolate icing, from the tube onto the top of your cake and then place the love heart on top of this.  Then you can use the white chocolate icing and sprinkles to decorate as you please.  These are some of the designs I made…

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Use the white chocolate icing to make a little ‘u’ shape in the corner of the love heart, following the outline of the love heart and then sprinkle lots of sprinkles across the top, then pour the rest off, back into the pot.

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Follow the outline of the love heart, about 5mm in from the edge with the white chocolate icing. Place sprinkles all over the top (a lot of them) and then pour back into the pot.

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You could write some letters using the white chocolate icing. I wrote the word LOVE and then apply the sprinkles and shake off, back into the pot.

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You could even stray of the love heart path and make something else, like this bow. Its simple and easy… you need 2 tails, one bow shape and one thin piece to put in the centre. Done. Glue onto the cake with the white chocolate icing and then you can decorate with icing and sprinkles as you like!

The most important stage of all though is in the eating… so give to your family and friends.  Impress them with your skills and ENJOY eating your cakes, with love and birthday greetings from gemsfoodgems.

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HOW WILL YOU EAT YOURS?

HOT CROSS BUNS… with a *CRANBERRY* surprise… {mixing it up}

29 Mar

IMG_4724[1]For the last week I have been pondering what to do with my next batch of HOT CROSS BUNS to make them different from my last batch and to deliver something to you (… my friendly audience) that will be a treat, something extraordinary.

My inspiration came when I was treated to the ‘BOSTON BROWNIE’ from Konditor & Cook in Borough Market.  It was a true taste sensation – so much so, that I (gemsfoodgems@twitter) had to tweet a thank you!

The secret, making these brownies a real taste sensation was the addition of cranberries.  Yes, seriously – little explosions of fruit flavour in the middle of a heavenly, luxurious, chocolate brownie.  My brain started whirring and I thought… cranberry, orange zest… in my hot cross buns… THAT’S IT.

Without further ado, I present to you my CRANBERRY & ORANGE HOT CROSS BUNS.

PREPARATION TIME: 2 hours (including the proving time and time to make the shortcrust pastry)

COOKING TIME: 20 minutes

MAKES: 12 Cranberry & Orange Hot Cross Buns

INGREDIENTS:

For the Bread Buns

  • 250g strong white bread flour
  • 250g strong wholemeal bread flour
  • 60g light brown muscavado sugar
  • 1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp mixed spices
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • 140ml luke-warm semi-skimmed milk
  • 130ml luke-warm water
  • 60g butter (melted and cooled slightly)
  • 1 large free-range egg (approx. 90g)
  • 100g raisins or currants (without seeds)
  • 60g dried cranberries

Shortcrust Pastry

  • 30g plain flour
  • 15g butter
  • water (cold, enough to bind together)

Sugar Glaze

  •  2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp water

HOW TO MAKE YOUR EASTER TREATS…

To make the bread buns…IMG_4725[1]

♥ Sift the flour into a large bowl, stir in  the sugar, yeast, salt, mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg, and make a well in  the middle.

♥ Mix together the warm milk and water and add to the bowl with the melted and cooled butter, together with the whisked egg.

♥ Mix to a soft dough using a metal spoon.

♥ Knead the dough on a  lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic.  You will know when it is ready when the dough ‘springs back’, so shape into a ball, gently push your finger in about 1/2 a cm, then take it out – if the dough ‘springs back’ it is well kneaded – if not knead some more!IMG_4726[1]

♥ Shape the dough into a round and then place in a large bowl.  Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm  place for 1-1½ hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

♥ Remove the dough from the bowl and ‘knock back’ using your fists – this removes all the air.

♥ Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 2-3 minutes  until smooth and elastic once again.

♥ Now add the orange zest, currants and the dried cranberries and knead for a minute until all the fruit is mixed into the dough.

♥  Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape into small  rolls.

♥ Perfect bun, now lets make the shortcrust pastry crosses!

To make the crosses…buns 3

I would make the shortcrust pastry whilst the dough proves.  Then you can wrap it in cling-film and keep it in the fridge until you need to use it.

Then…

♥ Roll out the shortcrust pastry to 5mm narrow strips – as you have 12 buns you are going to need 24 strands.

♥ Place one strip across the top of one of the bus, then place the other across this, to make a cross.  Press down lightly and if required, secure  with a little water and a pastry brush.  If you want to go a little crazy (like me) you could make some ‘shapes’ and place these on top – I have (as you can see) created little love hearts…buns6

♥ Lightly oil 2 baking trays, arrange the buns on the  trays and cover with oiled cling-film.

♥ Leave to rise in a warm place for 30  minutes or until doubled in size. Remove cling-film – it’s time to bake the buns!

♥ Bake buns in a  preheated oven at 220 degrees C / Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes (or until golden brown).

♥ Transfer the buns to a wire rack.

To make the glaze…

♥ Heat the sugar and water in a pan, until the sugar dissolves.  Do not let the sugar/water burn or begin to caramelise.  Make this whilst the buns cook.

♥  When you take the buns out of the oven and place them on the wire rack, you can brush them with the glaze and then serve warm or cold.

♥ If you let them cool, you can slice in half the next morning, toast and serve with a little butter!  YUM!

Baked, glazed and ready to eat! MARVELLOUS!

Baked, glazed and ready to eat! MARVELLOUS!

STORAGE:

The sugar glaze on these buns can make them go quite soggy, quite quickly and as they are fresh, with no preservatives the inside of the homemade hot cross bun can begin to go stale/dry quite quickly.  So, eat one or two fresh and store 2 or 3 in a large cake tin.  With the rest, chop them in half, put them in freezer bags and place them in the freezer for another day.

You know the days where its hard to get out of bed and there has to be something super special to make you get up and give you the start your day need.  I think these may just be that ‘kick start’.

HAPPY EASTER!

WARNING: This recipe is NAUGHTY, but BOY they taste good… *MARS BAR CAKES*

28 Mar

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This week, I got a real craving for something naughty, but nice.  So, with it being Easter and having a large box of cornflakes at home, yet to be eaten, I thought…

…‘I know, MARS BAR CORNFLAKE CAKES’.

I ran home, purchased my ingredients and got to it.  Within 10 minutes I had made these little beauties, ready for my dessert.  They really didn’t take any time at all and they taste absolutely delicious.  I know my blog promises ‘healthy, nutritious foods’, which this recipe absolutely is not, but I think it is really important (as part of a healthy balanced diet), to know when a treat is acceptable. And, it TOTALLY is.

This is a great recipe to make with children, as it is no bake.  Though, I would suggest that the adult does the majority of the melting – steam can burn just as badly as water – so please do be cautious.

PREPARATION TIME: 10 minutes (this could take anything up to 30 minutes with little hands!)

COOKING TIME: N/A

MAKES: 12 mars bar cornflake cakes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 mars bars (standard size)
  • 50g milk chocolate
  • 30g butter
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 4 large handfuls of cornflakes – slightly crushed (you can add more or less if you like depending on how chocolate-y you want them!)
  • 12 mini eggs (you can eat the others!)

HOW TO MAKE THE MARS BAR CORNFLAKE CAKES…

This recipe is so simple.  The first thing you need to do is place 3cm of water in a medium sized pan and then heat this up – so that the water begins to boil.  Turn the heat down and allow it to simmer.

In a bowl place the chopped up mars bars, broken up milk chocolate, butter, golden syrup and then place the bowl on top of the pan of hot water.  The heat from the water should heat the bowl and melt all the ingredients together.

You will have to stir the chocolate/butter/mars bar mix, so hold the bowl with an oven glove and do this gently.  The mixture may curdle to start with, but after this it will all come together nicely.

Remove the bowl containing the melted chocolate from the heat and to this add the cornflakes.  As you add them crush them just slightly – this will make it easier to mix together.

Mix the chocolate and cornflakes together – don’t worry if some break.

Spoon the mixture into your cupcake cases (it should make about 12 cakes) and then add a mini-egg to the top of the ‘nest’ you have created.

Leave to cool and then eat!  They will be quite sticky and gooey… which is just what you want!  HAPPY EASTER from gemsfoodgems.

This is how the finished cornflake cake should look... YUM! HAPPY EASTER!

This is how the finished cornflake cake should look… YUM! HAPPY EASTER everyone!

[SINGING] HOT CROSS BUNS, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns!

26 Mar

hot cross bunsIt is nearly Easter – which not only means that we get a 4 day weekend (wooo!), but also that we get to eat many HOT CROSS BUNS, Easter eggs, chocolate filled rabbits and the like!  Yum!

For me, Easter is a real treat in terms of my breakfast time habits.  I stop eating toast and/or porridge for a week (or two) and I treat myself to some delicious toasted Hot Cross Buns with butter each morning.

A couple of years ago my Nanna, who was a truly wonderful lady passed away.  She taught my mum all she knows about cooking and baking, who in turn taught me, so we decided to start a yearly tradition of making these Hot Cross Buns together; in time for Easter.  Hot Cross Buns are also something I vividly remember eating in a little cafe with my Nanna when she was looking after me.  We would go to town to get some shopping and treat ourselves to a toasted Hot Cross Bun with butter – just half each mind!  I loved it, and when I eat them now it takes me right back to the little cafe in the North.  There really is nothing like a ‘food memory’.

So, last time I headed to the North, my mother and I decided to take the opportunity to make some homemade Hot Cross Buns.  My mum (SallyAnn) is the proud owner of a ‘Mary Berry’ cook book, so this year we decided to try out her basic recipe – with a few of our own, family additions.

PREPARATION TIME: 2 hours (including the proving time and time to make the shortcrust pastry)

COOKING TIME: 20 minutes

MAKES: 12 Hot Cross Buns

INGREDIENTS:

For the Bread Buns

  • 250g strong white bread flour
  • 250g strong wholemeal bread flour
  • 60g light brown muscavado sugar
  • 1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp mixed spices
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 140ml luke-warm semi-skimmed milk
  • 140ml luke-warm water
  • 60g butter (melted and cooled slightly)
  • 1 large free-range egg (approx. 90g)
  • 120g sultanas/raisins or currants (without seeds)
  • 40g chopped apricots (optiona – if you don’t want to use these, use more currants/raisins)

Shortcrust Pastry Crosses

  • 50g plain flour
  • 25g butter
  • water (cold, enough to bind together)

Sugar Glaze

  •  2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp water

HOW TO MAKE YOUR EASTER TREATS…

To make the bread buns…

The kneaded dough, without any fruit.  These needs to be left to rise and double in size.

1. The kneaded dough, without any fruit. These needs to be left to rise and double in size.

♥ Sift the flour into a large bowl, stir in  the sugar, yeast, salt, mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg, and make a well in  the middle.

♥ Mix together the warm milk and water and add to the bowl with the melted and cooled butter, together with the whisked egg.

♥ Mix to a soft dough using a metal spoon.

♥ Knead the dough on a  lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic.  You will know when it is ready when the dough ‘springs back’, so shape into a ball, gently push your finger in about 1/2 a cm, then take it out – if the dough ‘springs back’ it is well kneaded – if not knead some more!

Dough split into 12 and rolled into small rolls, with the fruit added. Yum!

Dough split into 12 and rolled into small rolls, with the fruit added. Yum!

♥ Shape the dough into a round and then place in a large bowl.  Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm  place for 1-1½ hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

♥ Remove the dough from the bowl and ‘knock back’ using your fists – this removes all the air.

♥ Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 2-3 minutes  until smooth and elastic once again.

♥ Now add the currants and the apricots and knead for a minute until all the fruit is mixed into the dough.

♥  Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape into small  rolls.

Perfect bun, with the shortcrust pastry cross.

Perfect bun, with the shortcrust pastry cross.

To make the crosses…

I would make the shortcrust pastry whilst the dough proves.  Then you can wrap it in cling-film and keep it in the fridge until you need to use it. Then…

♥ Roll out the shortcrust pastry to 5mm narrow strips – as you have 12 buns you are going to need 24 strands.

♥ Place one strip across the top of one of the bus, then place the other across this, to make a cross.  Press down lightly and if required, secure  with a little water and a pastry brush.

♥ Lightly oil 2 baking trays, arrange the buns on the  trays and cover with oiled cling-film.

♥ Leave to rise in a warm place for 30  minutes or until doubled in size. Remove cling-film – it’s time to bake the buns!

♥ Bake buns in a  preheated oven at 220 degrees C / Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes (or until golden brown).

♥ Transfer the buns to a wire rack.

To make the glaze…

♥ Heat the sugar and water in a pan, until the sugar dissolves.  Do not let the sugar/water burn or begin to caramelise.  Make this whilst the buns cook.

♥  When you take the buns out of the oven and place them on the wire rack, you can brush them with the glaze and then serve warm or cold.

♥ If you let them cool, you can slice in half the next morning, toast and serve with a little butter!  YUM!

Hot Cross Bun - baked, with cross and glazed with the sugar and water.  Stunning!

Hot Cross Bun – baked, with cross and glazed with the sugar and water. Yum!

STORAGE:

The sugar glaze on these buns can make them go quite soggy, quite quickly and as they are fresh, with no preservatives the inside of the homemade hot cross bun can begin to go stale/dry quite quickly.  So, eat one or two fresh and store 2 or 3 in a large cake tin.  With the rest, chop them in half, put them in freezer bags and place them in the freezer for another day.

You know the days where its hard to get out of bed and there has to be something super special to make you get up and give you the start your day need.  I think these may just be that ‘kick start’.