English Muffin Cinnamon Raisin Bread with Cinnamon Sugar Butter

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“Sugar and spice and all things nice”

If, like me, you love English muffins and you love cinnamon you will agree that this is a match made in heaven.

This bread is so good that I inhaled half a loaf straight from the oven- before forcing myself on a 10k run- and then eating some more.

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This weekend has been all about packing to move to Hong Kong. In the sense that the packing boxes that arrived yesterday remain untouched and I have been doing anything and everything to avoid beginning the packing process. Truly, I am packphobic- probably because I haven’t lived anywhere for more than 20 months since I was eleven. I sometimes feel I have spent my life living out of trunks, suitcases and backpacks (not that I don’t love it).

And so, faced by this incredibly stressful situation, I decided that the only logical thing to do was to bake.

And to close the door so that the boxes remain in the hallway where I can’t see them.

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When I saw this recipe on Pinterest (yes I live there) a couple of weeks ago I knew that this was something that I had to make before I move away.

This delight of a bread has the bubbly, springy texture of an English muffin and is studded with plump, juicy raisins. It is infused with sublime, heady cinnamon. I think I may even like it more than Donna’s Cinnamon Bread. What’s more, I don’t really want to eat any other bread for breakfast again.

This bread is best enjoyed toasted and is delicious with or without the cinnamon sugar butter. If you’re afraid of baking with yeast you can rest assured that this bread doesn’t require any kneading. The mixture takes under five minutes to prepare and after that it’s just a case of letting the dough rise for one hour before baking. The baking time suggested below shoud be adequete but if- as I do- you like your bread to be undercooked a bit doughy when you eat it then just reduce the cooking time by a few minutes.

Right, I really must start packing now.

Though I might just see if I can’t make a lemon cake first…

Over and out.

English Muffin Cinnamon Raisin Bread with Cinnamon Sugar Butter

(Adapted from the amazing Averie Cooks)

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

2.5 cups plain flour

7g sachet Fast Action Dried Yeast

1/4 cup white sugar

2-3 teaspoons cinnamon

Pinch salt

1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 cup milk

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup raisins

Cinnamon sugar butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup soft butter

Method

1. Grease or line your loaf tin.

2. Mix 1.5 cups of the flour with the yeast, sugar, cinnamon, salt and bicarbonate of soda.

3. Warm the milk and water in the microwave for one minute and then add to the dry mixture. The liquid should be warm but not so hot that you can’t dip your finger in, or you will kill the yeast. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon for one minute.

4. Add the remaining flour and raisins and mix until just combined.

5. Pour into the prepared loaf tin and leave somewhere warm to rise for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size. Meanwhile heat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

6. Bake the loaf for 25- 30 minutes or until golden brown. The bread is ready when you get a hollow sound from tapping the bottom of the tin.

7. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack. Cutting into the bread before it’s completely cool will cause the bread to squash a little (completely worth it in my view).

8. To make the cinnamon sugar butter mix the butter, sugars and cinnamon together until well combined. Slather on top of the toasted bread with abandon.

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Posted in Bread, Breakfast, Savoury | 4 Comments

Chocolate Chip Condensed Milk Doughnuts

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I did it! I was finally brave enough to make doughnuts.

Or rather, my cousin and I were.

Turns out there’s no bravery required and they are alarmingly straightforward to make.

Since first making these beauties last weekend at my cousin’s house I have developed a full blown doughnut making obsession. To the extent that this week I mainly:

1. Thought about doughnuts.

2. Told people about doughnuts.

3. Waved my new doughnut cutter in people’s faces.

Yes, I even dreamt about them.

And yes, this was a working week.

So after adding about a dozen doughnut recipes to my Pinterest baking board this week I decided to do a re-run of last weekend’s doughnuts. I tend to get far too over excited about baking projects….and then just end up baking what I originally thought I would.

These are a fantastic, easy starting point for the first time doughnut maker. I guarantee your mind will be brimming with doughnut making possibilities after you have made these.

Include whatever add-ins you like to the recipe below. Its a very relaxed affair.

This time I added chocolate chips. Warm, doughy, chocolatey oozing goodess is very difficult to ignore.

Oh and also, eating cooked doughnut holes as you go along = THE MOST FUN EVER. I think this is why doughnuts were invented in the first place.

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Please don’t be intimidated by my ownership of a doughnut cutter. If you’ve got pastry cutters or a wine glass, you’re good to go.

Just a word of warning: this is definitely a two person activity (one to man the frying pan, one to cut the doughnuts).

Also, pans of warm, frying dough tend to attract…. everyone.

I did the cutting. Mum did the frying. Dad took photos with his new camera. And my brother….well, I gave him a doughnut to try and he appeared within minutes for another citing doughnut dropping and dog swallowing.

Everyone loves a doughnut.

Happy Sunday!

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Condensed Milk Doughnuts

Adapted from Cake With Love

Makes around 20

Ingredients

8 cups self raising flour (around 1000g)
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup sour cream (around 270 ml)
1 can condensed milk
3 eggs
Chocolate chips (optional)
Vegetable oil, for frying

Method

1. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl, adding flour until it forms a dough that is not too sticky and will roll out easily.

2. Roll the dough out to around a 2cm thickness and cut into doughnut shapes.

3. Heat a few millimetres of oil in a large frying pan (you may need to top this up at various stages). Get it hot enough that the oil sizzles when the dough is put in it, then don’t let it get any hotter.

4. Fry the doughnuts for about two minutes on each side or until they have browned.

5. Leave the doughnuts to cool slightly on paper towels and then roll in sugar, cinnamon or whatever topping you please.

These doughnuts keep well in an airtight container. If they are a bit dense the next day just pop them in the microwave for 10 seconds before eating.

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Posted in Chocolate, Doughnuts | Leave a comment

Butteries

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Some days I feel like I want to pack it all in to bake all day, become a yummy mummy and move to the Scottish Highlands. Then, if I’m being sensible, I realise that I’d miss my current lifestyle.

What I’m trying to say, in a round about sort of way, is that I really love the Highlands. Banffshire to be specific. It’s my favourite place.

Butteries (or “Aberdeen Rowies”) are native to the North East of Scotland.

A buttery is like a croissant, only flat and salty and SO MUCH BETTER. I pretty much force feed them to people who haven’t tried them before.

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Butteries get their name from their high fat content. They contain butter and lard (I know). They are crispy, chewy and oh-so-soft all at the same time.

Since returning from Scotland two weeks ago there hasn’t been a day I haven’t wished I was still there.

I decided to make butteries to quell my January blues.

It worked but I feel sick. I think I over did it. The January detox is clearly going swimmingly.

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Butteries

Adapted from the BBC website

Makes 10

Ingredients

500g strong white flour

1x 7g sachet easy blend dried yeast.

1 tbsp light brown sugar

1 tbsp sea salt flakes

350ml warm water

230g butter

80g lard

Method

1. Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a bowl. Slowly pour in the warm water and stir until the mixture forms a ball.

2. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Leave the dough to rise in a clean, oiled bowl for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

3. While the dough rises cream together the butter and lard until spreadable. Divide into four portions.

4. Roll the dough out into a rectangle approx 40 x 20cm. Spread one portion of the butter/ lard mixture over 2/3 of the dough. Fold the remaining 1/3 over so that it covers the middle 1/3 of the dough. Repeat with the remaining 1/3 (like folding a letter).

5. Roll the dough out again to 40 x 20cm. Repeat step 4 until all four portions of butter/lard have been rolled into the dough.

6. Roll the dough out one final time to 40 x 20cm and cut into 10 smaller rectangles. Shape the rectangles into ovals and flatten.

7. Leave the uncooked butteries to rise for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius and then bake for 15-20 minutes. If a lot of excess butter melts in the tray during cooking, remove the butteries from the oven and pour this away before returning the butteries to the oven.

8. Serve warm with jam. Butteries freeze well and are easily reheated.

Posted in Bread, Breakfast | Leave a comment

Custard Slice: Kiwi Style

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I am very, very excited about this post.

When I stumbled upon this recipe last week it was a lightbulb moment. These had to be made, and fast.

I bring you New Zealand’s national treasure: I bring you the custard slice.

20121104-195523.jpgIf you’ve ever got me on the topic of New Zealand you most likely regretted it.

And if you’ve been there and didn’t love it then we probably won’t get along.

I really like it. Like reeeaaallly like it.

I did a stock take today of the New Zealand paraphernalia that litters my bedroom still (I returned over two years ago). The following were revealed:

1. One full length wetsuit

2. Ridiculous skeepskin boots (that I have never worn)

3. Three (treasured) copies of Taste magazine

The latter was my lifeline to all things culinary during my 7 months without a kitchen. I distinctly remember trawling Kiwi supermarkets hoping to stumble upon back issues.

I hadn’t given it any thought before my visit, but it turns out that Kiwis really know their way around the kitchen. They have amazing produce and they know how to use it.

From the giant green lipped mussels I ate on my first night to catching my own crayfish (and nearly dying), I have so many food memories of New Zealand I hardly know where to begin describing them.

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So I will start and end with the noble custard slice.

Pretty much every town in New Zealand has a proper bakery (I know, amazing) and any Kiwi bakery worth its sugar salt will sell custard slice. I’m no mathematician but that’s a lot of custard per capita.

Did I mention that I want to move to New Zealand?

The custard slice comprises vanilla custard sandwiched between two pieces of puff pastry topped with icing and coconut.

They are delicious.

You should make them.

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Custard Slice
(adapted from Fisher and Paykel)

375g per rolled puff pastry

1. 4 Litres semi skimmed milk

1 cup custard powder

3 tablespoons vanilla extract (yes, really)

6 tablespoons caster sugar

Icing

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups icing sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Water

Dessicated coconut

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and find a 8×8 inch square tin.

2. Roll out the pastry so that it is double the size of the base of the tin. Cut it in half.

3. Place the pastry on non stick baking trays, prick all over with a fork and bake for ten minutes or until light brown.

4. As soon as the pastry comes out of the oven press down on it to release the air and make it thin.

5. Once it has cooled a bit, place one of the pastry sheets it the base of the square tin (you may need to trim to fit).

6. Put 1 litre of the milk in a pan over a medium heat. As it warms, whisk the remaining 400 ml of milk in a jug with the custard powder and vanilla until smooth.

7. Add the custard milk mixture to the milk in the pan and stir continuously as it thickens (to prevent the milk burning).

8. Keep stirring until the custard is very thick, then keep stirring for a further two minutes. The custard must be thicker than you would usually make it.

9. Remove the custard from the heat and pour over the pastry base in the tin.

10. Push the second pastry sheet over the custard, cool and then refridgerate until completely cold.

11. When the slice is cool, mix the sifted icing sugar with the butter and vanilla in a bowl using a spoon. Add a little water to make the icing spreadable.

12. Spread the icing over the slice and sprinkle with coconut. Cut the slice in the tin (the first will no doubt be a “cook’s slice”) and lever out slice by slice with whatever implements you have.

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Posted in Pastry | 1 Comment

Hummingbird Bundt Cake

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Hummingbird Cake is a banana pineapple spice cake with a cream cheese frosting.

It is a Southern United States tradition.

It is one humdinger of a cake.

I’ve wanted to make this cake since I purchased ‘The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook’ years ago, but have always been intimidated by its traditional layer cake format. So when I saw this Bundt version on Pinterest (I can’t beleive I got Pinterest) I knew it was finally time.

Bundt cakes are named after the ring shaped tin they are baked in. They are my new favourite thing.

The Bundt is larger than a normal cake and will feed all cake junkies in a department at work in modest slices. And the best part? I have yet to come across a Bundt recipe that requires more than a single bowl and a bit of ballon whisk action. Simples.

This cake was devoured by the Finance department in under an hour, with the first slices being stolen before 10am. Offenders shall remain anonymous.

It was labelled ‘breakfast’ by my supervisor, and I’m loving the idea.

This cake is very moist, with all of the flavours complementing each other perfectly. It is quite simply AH-mazing. My inner fatty has been yelling at me all weekend to make it again. Just for me.

If you are a keen baker then I urge you to invest in a Bundt tin. Grab some American measuring cups while you’re at it. I promise you won’t regret it.

Nordic Bakeware is a good starting point. Every time I visit their site I wonder whether I have died and gone to heaven.

Enjoy, y’all.

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Hummingbird Bundt Cake

(Adapted from Bake or Break)

(serves 12)

1.5 cups chopped pecans
3 cups plain flour, sifted
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
4 large bananas, mashed
8 ounces crushed pineapple (undrained) or pineapple chunks, whizzed in a blender
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 ounces cream cheese
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease your Bundt tin. Sprinkle 1 cup of the chopped pecans around the bottom of the tin.

2. In a bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

3. Stir in the eggs, banana, pineapple, oil and vanilla until the ingredients are just combined.

4. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

5. Leave to cool in the tin for fifteen minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

6. To make the glaze, mix together the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla. Add about 1 tablespoon of the milk and up to one tablespoon more if it doesn’t seem runny enough (you want it thick but pourable).

7. Pour the icing over the cooled cake and scatter over the remaining chopped pecans.

Posted in Cake | Leave a comment

Pimm’s No.1 Cupcakes

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Today has been a struggle. 80% of what I have eaten has not been cake. After a Jubilee weekend filled with cake I am suffering sugar withdrawal.

My Jubilee baking efforts began last weekend when I made Union Jack coloured Battenberg and Victoria Sponge to take to work- both cakes originated with our royal family and I thought it patriotic to get everyone in the Jubilee/work-is-unimportant mood.

Bizarrely, I have mainly made Battenberg this year.

I’m definitely in double figures and have been plotting a Jubilee assault on it since I first made it in February.

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(local strawberries)

I also thought it important to inject new life into my baking repertoire over the Jubilee weekend. The sun never sets on the British Empire etc.

Enter Pimm’s No.1 cupcakes.

Cupcakes are my baking nemesis. They lull you into a false sense of security as you watch them bake happily in the oven. The cake part is easy as pie. And then wham! Icing sugar flies everywhere and everything is stressful. The happy domestic haze is destroyed and you can no longer see out of your rose tinted glasses.

On Sunday (when I made these cupcakes) there was actual foot stamping. A piping bag may have been hurled across the kitchen counter. I was asked twice if everything was ok.

For someone with so many qualifications I can be very slow. Cupcakes and I just weren’t meant to be. I should have taken note last time: I will never be cupcake queen.

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(the calm before the storm)

Talking of cupcake queens, some friends of mine baked some spectacular cakes for a Jubilee party I went to. Their creations were so mesmerising I had trouble tearing my camera away from them to take pictures of friends, like normal people do.

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(The amazing Battenberg made by friends)

Despite my own personal issues with cupcakes I must admit that Pimm’s Cupcakes are a revelation. They taste like summer. There are four (yes, FOUR) different flavoured icings on each cake. Orange, cucumber, strawberry and mint buttercreams go into the piping bag and come out as one blended icing.

I would definitely recommend trying these. Just make sure you have some stress Pimm’s handy in case of emergency.

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Pimm’s Cupcakes (adapted from uktv good food)

Makes 12

125g golden caster sugar
125g margarine
125g self raising flour
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
60ml Pimm’s

For the buttercream:

400g icing sugar
250g butter

For the strawberry buttercream:

8 strawberries
1 tbsp sugar

For the cucumber buttercream:

30g cucumber, seeds removed
Green food colouring

For the orange buttercream:

Juice and zest of 1/2 orange
Orange food colouring

For the mint buttercream:

8 fresh mint leaves
Green food colouring

1. Pre heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.

2. Put the butter, sugar, margarine, flour and eggs into a food processor and blend until smooth.

3. Mix in the Pimm’s and the vanilla essence.

4. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases.

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly coloured on top. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.

6. Meanwhile make the buttercream. With an electric whisk, mix together the sieved icing sugar and butter until smooth and light in colour. Separate into 4 bowls.

7. To make the strawberry buttercream chop the strawberries finely and heat over a medium heat together with the sugar. Once softened push through a sieve and leave to cool before mixing into one portion of the buttercream.

8. To make the cucumber buttercream, chop the cucumber very finely and add to one portion of the buttercream. Add the green colouring so it is a light green (a couple of drops will do).

9. To make the orange buttercream mix the zest and juice of the orange into one portion of the buttercream. Mix in some orange colouring.

10. To make the mint buttercream chop the mint very finely and add to the final portion of buttercream. Add green colouring so that it is darker than the cucumber icing.

11. Fit the star nozzle to the piping bag and place the bag over an empty glass, hooking the bag over the edges to secure it. Spoon each buttercream into a separate quarter of the bag. Once you have done one ‘layer’ repeat- you don’t need to make sure the same flavour goes in the same side as before.

12. Carefully pipe the icing onto the cakes starting at the outside and working your way in. Decorate with fruit and sprigs of mint.

Posted in Cake | Leave a comment

The Boarding School Brownie

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I spent seven very happy and entirely sugar dependent years at boarding school.

Last weekend I went back to my old school for Seniors’ Day. At such events Seniors are meant to look back fondly and realise that school made them who they are today. That experience was certainly true for me.

As I approached the school last Saturday the first thing I saw was a girl crossing the school grounds eating a break time cookie. If she knew what was good for her she probably had one stashed in her hoodie too. Boarding school made me the baking obsessive I am today; I suppose this blog was born there.

In those days, blissfully unconscious about our appearance and living in a bubble, we marched to the tune of Cake, Chocolate and Pudding- in no particular order, every single day. I loved it.

Some of us used to stalk the night watchman to elicit extra night time chocolate (he had access to a secret chocolate stash). Looking back I feel bad that I don’t remember anything about the night watchman: he was a mere vessel for chocolate and we exploited him shamelessly.

By the sixth form we were skilled at opening lessons with the line ‘we’re just not going to be able to do any work unless you get us some biscuits/ chocolate/cake’. Teenage pregnancy was never going to be a problem for us. As one friend commented: ‘I’m surprised they didn’t have to roll us down the drive at the end of our seven years’. I can’t think of a single one of us who isn’t significantly slimmer and healthier today.

Last weekend we sat in the manicured grounds eating a picnic and reminiscing. I was surprised by how many girls were out practising sport voluntarily. Why weren’t they sat on their beds reading Heat magazine and eating biscuits? Or focussing on becoming word perfect to Blue: One Love?

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This brownie recipe hails from our school cookbook and was contributed by the school Chaplain. Unsurprisingly, weekly religious meetings became very popular when a batch of these were promised. They carry an almost legendary status within the school, which is why they were my contribution to the picnic last Saturday.

This is my go-to brownie recipe. These can be whipped up no problem at 10pm after half a bottle wine.

I love this recipe for its simplicity. Measurements are in imperial, it is four lines long and there are no time guidelines. Old school.

The Boarding School Brownie

5oz dark chocolate
4oz butter
8oz caster sugar
4oz self raising flour
2 eggs
5oz chocolate, cut into chunks (white is a winner)

Melt the butter and chocolate. Add all the other ingredients and mix. Spread out in a lined and buttered 8 inch square tin and cook at 180 degrees Celsius until just solid. Leave to cool in the tin before cutting into squares.

*baking time is usually around 25 minutes.

Posted in Cake, Chocolate | 2 Comments