Hazelnut & Chocolate Biscotti

My second GBBO recipe challenge was the beautifully scrumptious Italian Biscotti! This was surprisingly easy to make and is so yummy with a tea or coffee whilst snuggled on the sofa. I went for a hazelnut and chocolate flavoured recipe but for my next batch I think I’m going to try a coffee and walnut flavour. I didn’t have any oranges so I didn’t add the orange zest but I made up for it with a little vanilla extract to add an extra oomph. My jazzy camera is still out of action I’m afraid, so the photos aren’t as good as I would have liked, but none the less here are my biscotti! Recipe is taken from BBC Good Food.

Enjoy! xx

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • zest 1 orange
  • 25g toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 25g chocolate chips

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line a large baking sheet with baking paper. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl, then add the orange zest, hazelnuts and chocolate chips. Fold into the egg mix to make a soft dough. Tip onto a lightly floured surface, shape into a 25cm sausage shape with lightly floured hands, then transfer to baking sheet. Flatten to a 3cm thickness, then bake for 30 mins until lightly browned on top.
  2. Remove and slide onto a chopping board, then reduce the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Cut the log into 1cm thick slices and return to the baking sheet, cut-sides up. Bake for 10-15 mins until crisp, then cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tin for 3 weeks.

Madeira Cake

My latest challenge in improving my cookery skills and potentially making myself ‘GBBO ready’ is to bake one or more of the GBBO challenges each week in the time constraints set for the contestants. So I decided to make a Madeira cake from the first episode of the new series.

 

I’ve been away on holiday for the last two weeks so I’ve had to buy a new tin and cook away from my home kitchen (without my jazzy camera – hence the slightly dodgy photos!) making baking slightly more tricky – but none the less I’ve given it a go! I made a chocolate and orange flavoured cake with an orange flavoured icing sugar on top. It tasted lovely although there wasn’t the infamous ‘madeira cake crack’ on top – I think this is because I baked the cake in a larger square tin rather than the traditional loaf tin. But this is what this challenge is all about – learning from baking mishaps! I hope you enjoy 🙂 x

Ingredients:

  • 175g butter
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
  • 100g chocolate chips
  • Icing sugar to decorate

Method:

  1. Whisk the butter and sugar together until creamy and light
  2. Ad the eggs one by one
  3. Add the zest and chocolate
  4. Add the flour and almonds
  5. Bake in a lined and greased tin at 170C for 55 minutes
  6. Enjoy with a cup of tea! 🙂

Seeded Couronne Loaf

 

I’ve been wanting to make this bread for weeks and simply haven’t found the time to bake – time without baking is time poorly spent!

Over the next four weeks I am going to be taking you on a baking adventure -sharing recipes that tell a story – my story. As you know from my other blog posts, I work in theatre – to be more specific, I’m currently Assistant Director of Central Youth Theatre, Wolverhampton’s longest established youth theatre. I have gone from an 11 year old member to Assistant Director of this company and therefore it is an organisation that I hold dear in my heart.

Over the next 4 weeks we are running a huge crowd funding campaign called CYT Heart that I hope I might be able to gather your help with as well as sharing a few lovely bakes along the way 🙂

So, here is the start of my CYT story…

From the age of two I have wanted to be involved in theatre. I met my friend Jessica at play group and we would make up stories and plays using our dressing up boxes, wearing all manner of weird and wonderful outfits. We would create invitations and tickets for our enormous audience of four, made up of our worn out parents. This continued for many years until Jessica told me that she had been going along to a youth theatre group at the Newhampton Arts Centre and she thought I would really enjoy it. At the age of 10 I plucked up the courage and went along to their ‘James and the Giant Peach’ themed summer school programme. I absolutely loved it and was given the lead part of James (no comments here about looking like a boy please)

11 Year old me as 'James'

11 Year old me as ‘James’

At the age of two I had a little seed of theatre enthusiasm, something which grew, proved (a little baking connection here for you!) and developed into something which CYT nurtured. I knew that I had to carry on getting my drama fix with this weird and wonderful company and so my CYT journey began…

So in honour of that little seed of enthusiasm here is my first recipe for #CYTHeart – A seeded loaf. I have used the lovely John Whaite’s recipe that he uses for a plaited loaf in his book John Whaite Bakes but in this recipe I’ve halved all the quantities and added poppy and sunflower seeds on the top of the bread.

Please get baking and let me know how your loaf comes out!

and finally please head over to CYT’s indigogo page to find out more about the campaign http://igg.me/at/cytheart please donate and share the word.

Thank you!

Holly xx

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 7g fast action yeast (1 packet worth)
  • 10 g salt (1 teaspoon)
  • 300ml tepid water
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with a pinch of salt for glazing
  1. Put the ingredients (except for the egg yolk) into a bowl and bring together into a rough dough. Knead by hand for ten mins or in a mixer with bread hooks for about 6 mins until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Place into an oiled bowl and allow to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
  2. Turn the dough out and divide into 6 balls and roll these out into long sausage shapes of the same length. Press all the pieces of dough together at one end and begin the plait starting on whichever side takes your fancy. Take the outermost strand and place it under the next two, over the next one and then under the final two. Take the next outermost strand (always from the same side!) and repeat. Then tuck the ends under to neaten them off. Leave the loaf to prove for about an hour. Preheat the oven to 230C or gas mark 8.
  3. When the loaf has doubled in size glaze with the egg yolk and bake for about 30 mins or until bronzed. Once cooked it should have a hollow sound when you tap the bottom.
  4. Slice, slather with butter and enjoy with a cuppa!

 

White Chocolate & Strawberry Cake

I looked in my fridge and saw a huge punnet of strawberries that was calling out to be baked in something. So I scoured through my cook books looking for the recipe that most satisfied me. Strawberry shortcake? Strawberry tart with crème patisserie? And then I found it….John Whaite’s white chocolate and raspberry cake. I already had white chocolate in the cupboard and figured that strawberries would do the same job as raspberries. The recipe was so easy to follow and the cake was so moist and moreish – I will definitely be cooking this one again (especially if the people in my office have anything to say about it!)

Ingredients:

  • 200g butter, chopped into small cubes, plus extra for greasing
  • 100g white chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 175g raspberries, fresh or frozen

For the cream filling:

  • 200g white chocolate, chopped
  • 250ml double cream
  • a little icing sugar, for dusting
  • (Although I just whipped up some cream and flavoured it with some vanilla extract)

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line the base of 2 x 20cm round, loose-bottomed cake tins. Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof mixing bowl, set over a pan of barely simmering water and allow to melt slowly, stirring occasionally.
  2. When the butter and chocolate have melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool for 1-2 mins, then beat in the eggs and sugar with an electric whisk. Fold in the flour and raspberries.
  3. Gently pour the mixture into the tins and bake for 20-25 mins or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (the raspberries may leave a residue on the skewer, so don’t be fooled by their juiciness). Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 mins before turning out onto a wire rack.
  4. To make the ganache, put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl with 100ml of the cream, set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted into the cream and you are left with a smooth, glossy ganache. Leave the ganache to cool to room temperature, then beat in the rest of the cream.
  5. When the cakes have cooled, sandwich them together with the chocolate ganache. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Enjoy and please share if you like or bake this recipe! xx

Crumpies

Crumpies - a cross between crumpets and Yorkshire puddings :)

Crumpies – a cross between crumpets and Yorkshire puddings 🙂

Crumpies! What a wonderful creation – a cross between a Yorkshire pudding and a crumpet, perfect hot out of the oven with lots of butter and a cup of tea!

They are a Jamie Oliver recipe and are a lot easier to make than crumpets – so if you’re in a rush these are perfect.

Makes 12

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil for greasing
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 1 tea spoon caster sugar
  • 7g sachet of yeast
  • A good pinch of bicarb
  • 2 tea spoon salt

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven 170C/Gas 3 and grease a muffin tray with veg oil
  2. Place all ingredients in a bowl and pour 600ml of tepid water into the mix, whisk until combined and leave for 10 minutes
  3. When batters thickened pour into muffin holes until the mixture reaches the top
  4. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden
  5. Enjoy with lots of butter 🙂

Enjoy and please share if you like the recipe or leave me a comment – I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Holly x

 

 

Carrot Cupcakes

This is again one of my favourites bakers recipes – Mr John Whaite. It is the same carrot cake recipe as featured earlier in my blog but I decided to do smaller cupcakes rather then one cake as inspired by the lovely Janes Patisserie recent carrot cupcake post . They turned out beautifully! So I thought I’d give you a little peak 🙂 Scroll down for the recipe and enjoy!

 

Holly x

Hot Cross Buns

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Easter was wonderful – a 5 day weekend which meant lots of time for baking! I wanted to make some hot cross buns from scratch to see how easy they were to make and although I would say they are probably cheaper to buy a pack of six from the shops, once you’ve tried a home made batch you’ll taste the difference! So I had a look at a few recipes and after some deliberation I went for a Jamie Oliver recipe as they seemed the simplest for a first timer. I made two batches – one for my neighbours and one for our Easter Sunday dinner. I made a bread and butter hot cross pudding for pudding which was so yummy 🙂

So here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 200 ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 55 g unsalted butter
  • 2 x 7 g sachet dried yeast
  • 455 g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ whole nutmeg
  • 55 g caster sugar
  • 2 pieces stem ginger
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 55 g sultanas or raisins
  • 30 g dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons mixed peel
  • runny honey, to glaze

Method:
1. Add the milk and 50ml water to a small pan and place over a low heat for a few minutes, or until slightly warm – you should be able to dip your finger in without scalding it.

2. Meanwhile, add the butter to a separate pan and place over a low heat for a few minutes, or until melted, then set aside.

3. Transfer the warmed milk mixture to a medium bowl and stir in the yeast. Set aside.

4. Sift the flour into a large bowl, then add the salt, spices, a few good scrapings of nutmeg and the sugar. Finely chop the stem ginger and stir it into the mix.

5. Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter, followed by the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and add it to the bowl.

6. Using a fork, mix well until you have a rough dough, then transfer to a clean flour dusted work surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until soft and springy.

7. Return the dough to a flour dusted bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for at least an hour, or until doubled in size.

8. Transfer the dough to a clean flour dusted work surface. Knock the air out by bashing it with your fist, then sprinkle over the dried fruit and mixed peel and knead into the dough for 1 to 2 minutes.

9. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Grease and line a large baking tray.

10. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into balls. Evenly space them out on a lined baking tray as you go.

11. Cover with the tea towel and leave in a warm place for a further 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.

12. Meanwhile, place the plain flour and 2 tablespoons water into a small bowl and mix to a thick paste.

13. Gently pat down the risen buns then use the batter to carefully trace a cross over the top with a piping bag or spoon.

14. Place the buns into the preheated oven for 15 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

15. Transfer to a wire cooling rack, brush over a little honey and leave to cool.

16. Slice open the sticky hot cross buns, spread with a little butter and serve – delicious

They really are so yummy straight from the oven or lightly toasted – give them a go, you won’t regret it 🙂

Holly x

Trench Cake

Being a youth theatre director my work often baffles a lot of people – I often open the boot of my car to reveal lots of weird and wonderful things which I then comment to my friends ‘Don’t ask – it’s work’. I’ve worked on projects involving vintage bikes, humongous fake cabbages and more recently the history of allotments! As part of the research for the project we looked at recipes cooked by local people from Wolverhampton during WW1 and WW2. The most interesting recipe that we came across was ‘Trench Cake’. It was baked by women back at home and sent across to France to meet the lips of their loved ones fighting in the trenches. Obviously everyone was having to cook using their rations so cake recipes had to be adapted, which meant using vinegar and baking soda as an egg substitute. The cake also had to last the journey to France so in the original recipe it was baked for 2 hours to make it good and solid! So I had a go at cooking this mysterious Trench Cake to see how it tasted and the results were very surprising! I expected to eat a dry crumbly cake, but it tasted like a spiced fruit cake – perfect for an afternoon cuppa in front of the telly 🙂 So here is the recipe that was issued by the Government back in 1914/1916 for Trench Cake as publicised by the Telegraph. Enjoy! (I had to convert the measurements using my good old trusted Dairy Cook book otherwise I wouldn’t have had a clue!)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb flour (I used self-raising)
  • 4oz margarine
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1/4 pint milk
  • 3oz brown sugar
  • 3oz currants (I used raisins)
  • 2 tsp cocoa powderc
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (I used baking powder- if there is any difference)
  • Nutmeg (I used 1 tsp)
  • Ginger (I used 1 tsp)
  • Grated lemon rind

Method:

  1. Rub together the marg and flour until they resemble bread crumbs
  2. Mix in all of the dry ingredients
  3. Mix the baking soda, milk and vinegar together until dissolved.
  4. Add wet mixture to dry and beat well
  5. Pour into a greased cake tin and bake in a moderate oven for 2 hours (I baked it for 1 hour at around 180C)

Go on – give this recipe a try – it will surprise you! x

For more information about the Heritage Project I’m working on click here Central Youth Theatre

Leek and Bacon Tartlets

One of my monthly treats is my subscription to Style at Home Magazine.

When it arrives through the door each month I am full of the joys and grab a cuppa straight away to flick through all it’s amazing stylist tips and not to mention the recipe section at the back! This month they featured a fab Leek and Bacon Tartlet recipe to wow your friends and family this Easter. So I gave it a try and it really was so yummy! So here it is!

Takes 40 minutes & serves 6 (I reckon 4 people though if you’re greedy like me and Tim :))

Ingredients:

  • 100g streaky bacon
  • 20g butter
  • 2 leeks
  • 100ml white wine
  • 6 tbsp. crème fraiche
  • 500g puff pastry (I used shop bought – so much quicker!)
  • 2 sprigs of thyme

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C and fry the bacon for 10 minutes until crispy. Set aside and heat the butter in the same pan and fry the sliced leeks for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour in the white wine and bubble for 5 minutes until the leeks are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in 3 tablespoons of crème fraiche and add the bacon.
  3. Roll out the pastry until just thicker than a £1 coin. Cut out 6 x12 cm circles (I just baked one giant tartlet then cut it up once baked) Score a 1cm margin around the edge and put on a baking tray. Spread 3 tbsp of crème fraiche over the pastry, top with the bacon and leek mixture and thyme leaves.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden, sprinkle with a few extra thyme leaves before serving.

Hope you like this recipe – it really is so easy and a great weekday dinner with a big old salad 🙂

Thanks for stopping by!

Holly x

Chocolate Orange Cookies

My latest bake is a recipe from Janes Patisserie – another fellow food blogger. When I saw her post of these cookies, I knew that I HAD to make them and as soon as possible. They were super easy to make and taste just like the giant cookies you would buy in a shop. I ran out of chocolate orange segments so with my final few cookies I used some left over Thorntons truffles on top and they were so yummy too.

This blog post is dedicated to my dear friend Sarah as it’s her birthday today and her comment when I posted a picture of these cookies online totally made me chuckle – “Oh my actual days….you’ve just revolutionized EVERYTHING I EVER KNEW!…” Happy birthday lovely! 🙂

Makes 12-14

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 100g light brown sugar (I used dark brown as its all I had!)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Zest of 1/2 a medium orange (I left this out as I hadn’t got any oranges – but they still tasted lovely)
  • x2 175g Terry’s Chocolate Orange (350g in total)

I took 12 segments to decorate the tops of the cookies and whizzed up the rest of the chocolate orange in a food processor along with some milk chocolate – use to your discretion – as much or as little as you’d like 🙂

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C and line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment
  2. Mix together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. I used an electric hand whisk as it makes thing easier.
  3. Mix in the vanilla essence and the beaten egg
  4. Mix in the cocoa powder, flour, bicarb, baking powder and salt until a thick cookie paste is formed
  5. Whizz the chocolate pieces in a mixer or chop them up and add to the mixture with the orange zest and mix together
  6. Spoon the mixture onto the trays – making sure there is enough room for them to grow in the oven. I did 6 per tray as advised by Jane – about a tablespoon of mixture per cookie
  7. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then take them out of the oven, add a segment of chocolate on top and put back in the oven for 1-2 minutes
  8. Once baked remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. I ate one when they were still warm and the chocolate went everywhere but it was totally worth it!

A big thank you to Jane for the recipe! These are gorgeous cookies – chocolate over load indeed 🙂 x