28 Nov 2014

Plum Frangipane Tart

Another bake from Jo Wheatley. Its one of those recipes that is definitely comfort cooking! I made it mostly because I had a punnet of plums to use up. They always s look so appetising in the supermarket - deep purple and juicy  that both me and my son (older son I should say now!) get seduced into buying them. Then you bring them home and they are rock hard and don't ripen. I also love frangipane (does anyone not??) so one hot summers weekend I made this for tea. Thin buttery crisp pastry encases soft sweet moist frangipane with a hint of crunch from the hazelnuts and punctuated by tart pieces of plum. I really can't wait to make it again!  It would work well with plenty of other fruits I imagine, Raspberries,Apricots....

I like this picture with the summer light streaming in through the open doors :) My tin wasn't quite deep enough so some of the filling spilled over in parts....
I like this picture too- a little bit of reality -what it's like when I am trying to take a picture, little boys and their toys have to be kept out of shot! ;0 ; Have to clear enough space on the table... 


you will need a 23 cm tart tin with a depth of about 3-5 cm

Sweet shortcrust pastry:
250g plain flour
125g Unsalted butter
a pinch of salt
1 large egg yolk
2-3 tbsp water,chilled

put flour and butter and salt into a food processor with a metal blade. whizz using pulse button until you have a breadcrumb consistency. Add the egg yolk, whizz briefly, then add water a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. Turn onto a floured surface and work very briefly with your hands until smooth.Wrap in cling film and chill for at least half an hour before using.

50g Hazelnuts, chopped (I used ready chopped one from supermarket and toasted in a dry frying pan)
175g unsalted butter,softened
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs and 1 yolk
150g self-rising flour
100g ground almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 plums, firm  

Lightly dust work surface with flour and roll the pastry out into a thickness of about 2 mm. Carefully line the tart tin, being sure to push the pastry neatly into the corners and trimming off excess pastry from the top. Prick the base of the tart shell several times with a fork. Screw up a sheet of baking parchment and use it to line the inside of the pastry case. Chill for 10 mins in the freezer.

Preheat oven 10 180 degrees
Tip baking beans into the pastry case and blind bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until pale golden. Remove the baking parchment and beans. Reduce oven temperature to 170 degrees and bake the case for a further 5 minutes. 

Tip hazelnutes onto a baking tray and lightly toast in the oven or in a dry frying pan

to make filling mix together butter,eggs,sugar,flour and ground almonds. Cut plums into quarters and arrange evenly spaced,skin side up around the tart. Bake for 35-45 mins or until golden, if tart colours too quickly cover with foil.

cool in tin for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.   

17 Oct 2014

American style chocolate chip cookies

Finally some time to blog! 3 months post baby no.2. I have been trying to get to this space and failing. I finally made it, admittedly at the expense of putting the laundry away and tidying the kitchen...but you know life's too short.... ! 

These chocolate chip cookies have been on my list of things to blog about for ages, I have plenty of other things to blog about too,possibly more exciting things than some classic cookies but they will take a bit longer so lets go with these to begin with! You have got to have a classic choc chip cookie recipe in your repertoire right?  Well I have made these Nigella one loads but never managed to take a picture.They really are excellent. The raw dough is yummy too and they freeze well so you can have a batch handy anytime.The pics here are for the recipe from Jo wheatleys A Passion for Baking, one of my most used books.Totally scrumptious though I'm not keen the demerara sugar as you can taste the crunch of the sugar in the cookie too much so I may substitute with some other form of brown sugar or just use all light brown soft sugar next time. How long you cook them for depends on how gooey you want them in the center, and if you prefer a Bens cookies style cookie (if you haven't tried them you really ought to!) then you can omit the banging the tray on the counter step. Recipe below pics. Its nice to be back :) 

200g unsalted butter, softened
200g light soft brown sugar
125g Demerara sugar
2 large eggs,beaten
1 tsp Vanilla
400g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
200g dark chocolate chunks.

Preheat oven to 170 ◦C
Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Gradually mix in eggs and mix well, add vanilla extract and mix again.

Sift in flour, baking powder, salt and bicarb and mix until combined.

Fold in the chocolate chunks

Bake the cookies in batches on middle shelf of oven. bake for 5 mins then remove from oven and bang the tray sharply on the worktop to deflate the cookies, then return to oven for 5-7 mins.

Allow cookies to cool on baking tray for a few mins then remove to wire racks until cool.

28 Mar 2014

Espresso Tiramisu Mini Cupcakes

These yummy cupcakes are from Making cupcakes with lola  (the same book that the red velvet cupcakes are from. I used instant espresso powder instead of ground espresso and the coffee taste just was not strong enough so if you do use instant espresso powder double up the quantities and taste the batter/icing and add more if needed! The recipe says it makes 24 normal cupcakes or 48 mini-I used mini gold cases and think I made much more than 48,so you may want to make half the amount listed below...apart from those disclaimers which I thought I would get out of the way,  these cupcakes are great. The sponge is soft and moist with a nice bite from the chocolate chips and the marscapone and double cream icing is really nice -not too sweet and very flavorful,soft and dreamy-I would definitely use it for other coffee cakes too....


400g plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbinate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground espresso
275g sugar
120ml sunflower oil
150 ml plain yoghurt
150 ml milk
2 eggs beaten
200g dark chocolate chips
24 or 48 chocolate covered cocoa beans

Espresso Whip
600 ml double cream
50g confectioners sugar
2 tsp ground espresso
250 g marscapone

Preheat oven to 180◦.
Sift together all the dry ingredients apart from the sugar. Put the sugar, oil, yoghurt,milk, chococolate chips and eggs  into another bowl and whisk well with a balloon whisk. Add the wet mixture to the dry and fold in gently -do not overmix. Divide the mixture between cases and smooth tops. Bake for about 25 minutes for normal cupcake size, less for mini ones, until risen and a skewer comes out clean.Let cool before decorating.

3 Mar 2014


I have been meaning to post these for an age (like all the other trillions of bakes.....). You really can't beat a classic profiterole and they are so much better freshly made than from the supermarket. They might seem a little fiddly to make but actually its fairly straight forward and this recipe is fool proof! And you could make the choux buns the day before you needed them and store in an airtight container and fill with cream on the day you needed them. Recipe is posted below and is from the Great British Bake Off book. I did find the chocolate sauce a bit dark so you could tone it down by substituting some milk chocolate instead of the dark....

Choux pastry (makes 12 eclairs or 48 profiteroles)

100g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
75g unsalted butter, diced
3 free range large eggs at room temperature

Put flour onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. Put the salt, butter and 175 ml water into a medium-sized pan and heat gently until the butter has melted completely - don't let the water boil and begin to evaporate.Quickly bring the mixture just to the boil, then tip in the flour al in one go.

Remove pan from heat and beat furiously with a wooden spoon. The mixture will look a mess at first, but don't worry - as you beat it it will turn into a smooth, heavy dough. Put the pan back on low heat and beat for about 2 minutes to slightly cook the dough until it comes away from the sides of the pan in a smooth glossy ball.

Tip the dough into a large mixing bowl and leave to cool until barely warm. using an electric mixer (wooden spoon won't give same result) gradually beat in the eggs, beating well after each addition. Add enough egg to make a very shiny and paste like dough that just falls from the spoon when lightly shaken. You may not need the last tablespoon or so of egg because the dough has to be stiff enough to pipe and if the dough is too wet it will spread out rather than puff up.

Use immediately or cover tightly and keep at room temp. Use within 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 200 ◦C. Pipe mounds of dough using a piping bag fited with a 1.5 cm round nozzle. Make them about 3cm wide and 2cm high on the prepared baking sheets spacing well apart. dip your finger in water and pat down any point tips on the choux buns.

Lightly brush with beaten egg. Bake for 15 mins then reduce oven temp to 180◦C . Quickly open and close oven door to get rid of steam and the bake for another 5 minutes. Romveove from oven and make a tiny hole (with a toothpick) at one side to let out the steam. Return the sheets to the oven and bake the profiteroles for a final 3 to 4 minutes until firm. cool on a wire rack.

Cream and chocolate sauce:
250 mls double cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

whisk until firm enough to hold a peak

Chocolate sauce:
100g dark chocolate
25g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons icing sugar
100 ml water

Put all ingredients into a small pan and heat gently until smooth

Just before serving fill profiteroles with cream by piping in through a hole or by splitting the buns in half and drizzle over the hot sauce 


23 Feb 2014

Grown up go-to chocolate cupcakes

Yes I know I sound a bit american with the "go-to" but seriously every time I think of making of chocolate cupcakes this is the recipe I go to. Never mind all those recipes earmarked in the Hummingbird bakery books....I say grow up because they have lots of dark chocolate in them. I have been making them for a long time and have made them a lot over the years so I can't believe I am only just sharing them with you now!  You have to try them to know what I mean when I say they are really good! Tender, soft, very chocolatey sponge topped with a thin cap of crisp dark chocolate. And super easy to make too. Recipe is from the book by the author of fave blog Orangette "A Homemade life". A little instruction from experience: do not overfill the cases-the batter is very liquid and the cakes rise quite a lot and will be very soft when cooked. So under fill if anything! And seeing they are delicate when taken out of the oven use foil or thick cupcake cases if you can.

For the cupcakes:
1 oz finely chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup hot coffee
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbinate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

For the glaze:
8 oz dark chocolate 

Preheat oven to 300 ◦ F or 150 ◦C
Pour hot coffee over the chocolate and leave to melt stirring occasionally.
In a medium bowl whisk sugar, flour, cocoa powder,baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a separate bowl/mixer beat the egg on medium speed until it is pale yellow, about 1 minute. Add the oil,yoghurt and vanilla, beating well.Gradually beat in the chocolate mixture. add the dry ingredients all at once, and beat on low speed until the batter is just combined. Spoon batter in cupcake cases. bake for 20-25 mins or until skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before glazing. To glaze, melt chocolate and spread a thin layer on each cupcake with a teaspoon. let the glaze harden before serving.
Recipe in book says this makes 12 muffin size cupcakes but with the gold liner I use I always end with 25-30! I also also have melted chocolate left over so you may want to melt less than 8 oz for the glaze.....