Searching for "baking"

Perfecting Pastry with a Pecan Pie

I’ve never had much luck with pastry. My shells always shrunk or drooped in or didn’t cook enough or cooked too much. My pies and tarts sometimes tasted ok but they never looked neat and tidy.

I usually blamed it on my oven, its not the best and it has trouble keeping the right temperature.

But I think I just didn’t have the right recipe… or the right equipment. Yes I was guilty of trying to make a tart case with just a normal shallow cake tin.

I was almost about to give up and make a pastry case with a ready made shop bought shell (I know, shocking!) but I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. Instead I bought myself a proper tart case and found this recipe for the great unshrinkable tart shell.


It was indeed a great recipe, not too much hassle, the only thing you need is patience whilst the pastry cools in the fridge and freezes in the freezer. It did shrink a tiny bit but it didnt slump or flop and it stayed in shape to give a lovely pecan pie.

I follow A LOT of food blogs on my google reader, but strangely none of them came up with a recipe for pecan pie – is it such a given that everyone should know how to make pecan pie?
I tweeted it and the lovely Alice of Snapdragonbeads gave me her Mum’s authentic pecan pie recipe – (four large eggs, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup crushed pecans, drop of sherry or bourbon mixed in, I also added cinamonn and a dash of maple syrup).

Whipped it up and poured it into my tart case, baked it for 15 minutes and voila!

Gorgeous! The pastry turned out so well, crisp and sweet and cooked properly all the way round.

(as you can see I also sprinkled it with caster sugar before baking, it didnt really caramelise but it does taste nice! I would suggest using icing sugar or not bothering!).


Watch this space for more tart recipes now that I have found the perfect tart shell!

xx

a humble stew

Now that autumn is coming to an end I am pleased to be able to spend a Sunday afternoon cooking a roast dinner, and then come home on a Monday evening to a big bowl of stew and dumplings.

This is a very easy and adaptable recipe but you do need a the remnants of a roast chicken to help you along – this is where the flavour is. The day before I’d made the Zuni Cafe roast chicken recipe with the usual trimmings and most importantly a lovely gravy from the roasting tray.

We had lots of chicken leftover and also lots of gravy, the chicken was stuffed with thyme so there was lots and lots of flavour there. also the Zuni Cafe method (which is extremely popular, as you will see when you google it) ensures a chicken that is roasted with perfectly crisp skin and incredibly moist and tender meat – the latter very important for a stew.

Firstly I should apologise for the pictures, my new camera is doing a good job in artificial light but chicken stew is hard to make photogenic!

You will need:

Leftover chicken -shredded up
About 100ml of gravy
Approx 50ml chicken stock (I also made my own stock before making the stew rather than using a cube)
Carrots – about 2 medium ones
1/2 large white onion
1-2 cloves of garlic
Thyme

Finely dice the carrot and onion and fry with olive oil in a casserole dish (or ovenproof dish with a lid) until the onions are nice and soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so.
Add in the chicken and then the gravy and the stock – make sure the chicken is well covered.
Season and add a sprig or two of thyme – use less if you had a lot of herbs in the chicken when you originally roasted it.

Bring to the boil and then put in a medium oven with the lid on, cook for 20 minutes whilst you make the dumplings.

For the Dumplings

I’ve never really been a fan of dumplings, I always thought of them as being stodgy and cloying – this recipe is much different. It doesn’t use a lot of flour and no suet – instead milk and cream are used to make light and fluffy dumplings with an almost mashed potato like quality. It is adapted from this recipe on Bread and Honey.

approx 60grams plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
pinch of salt
thyme, sage, rosemary or any other herb you think goes!
100ml double cream
50mls semi skimmed milk.

Mix dry ingredients and herbs together and then slowly add in the cream and then the milk. You aren’t aiming for a dough but a wet mixture that keeps its shape – does that make sense? You may find you need more or less milk, cream or flour – just add more or less to get your mixture right. If you add more flour make sure to add a little more baking powder.

When the stew has been cooking for 20mins take it out and spoon the dumplings over the top. Put the lid back on and cook for 20mins again. Take the lid off after 20mins and cook for another 5-10 to crisp up the dumplings slightly.


Serve in big bowls and try not to think about the wind and rain outside.

xx

Orange Drizzle Cupcakes


I’ve been neglecting the food side of things for a while but fear not, I am back, with more drizzle cakes!
We’ve recently started getting a fruit and veg box from the lovely people at Abel and Cole , in an effort to eat more veg and also maybe because they have a little special offer on :)


I’m not a big orange eater, so I was a bit disappointed when we received 4 big oranges in our box (something I forgot to add into my dislikes list) this week, but then my thoughts turned to cake and all was well!

I make lemon drizzle cake a lot, its easy and tasty and I generally have the ingredients in the cupboard/fridge. I’ve been meaning to try orange drizzle cake for a while, its just as easy and just as tasty.

Orange Drizzle Cupcakes
makes about 20 – 22 cupcakes

for the cake:
200g self raising flour (or plain flour with 2 tsp of baking powder mixed in)
200g butter, softened
200g brown or caster sugar
2 medium eggs
zest of 2 large oranges
1 tsp cinnamon

juice of 1/2 orange

for the icing:
juice of 1 1/2 oranges
juice of 1/2 lemon
icing sugar – approx 4 tbsp

Cream butter and sugar, add the eggs. Zest the orange and mix into bowl with juice of orange. Stir in flour and cinamonn until all combined.

Spoon into a cupcake tray lined with cases. Bake on middle shelf at gas mark 5 for about 10 – 15mins until golden and cooked through.

Normally lemon drizzle cakes require you to wait til the cakes are completely cool to ice them, but I find that you don’t need to so much with cupcakes. Allow them to cool slightly for a few minutes.

Mix the sugar in slow with the orange, sifting through a tea strainer to make it nice and fine. I normally use a fork or a whisk so the icing isn’t lumpy. You may need more or less icing sugar than I have said above, depending on the juiceness of your oranges and lemon! Mix until it has a consistency like double cream.

Prick the cupcakes lightly with a fork or small knife. Brush or spoon the icing over the cakes generously.

Eat!

I was really pleased with how these came out, I may add a little more lemon next time to counter the sweetness and give it a slightly more citrus flavour. This is not very cheffy or even food blogger-y but you could use a tiny bit of from concentrate orange juice to up the orange flavour a little.

xx

Kitchen cupboard cupcakes..

I got a lot done on the jewellery front this weekend, fuelled mainly by a batch of long awaited cupcakes.

I haven’t made cupcakes successfully* for about two years, since my cupcake tins were lost during a house move. I kept forgetting to buy new ones, but I finally picked up some at the weekend and realised just exactly what I had been missing!

In an old oven like ours, where cakes take an age to cook through, cupcakes are just the right thing, they cook quickly and properly in about 15minutes, perfect. There isn’t a recipe per se for these as I made it up as I went along!

I had a bit of cocoa, a bit of dark chocolate and some coffee in the cupboard that I wanted to use.

I used a standard Victoria sponge recipe, 100g each of butter, sugar and self raising flour and two eggs. It makes quite a thick mixture so it is ideal for adding things too without making the mixture too runny. I added three tablespoons of coffee (2 teaspoons of instant dissolved in a tiny bit of hot water), about 3 tablespoons of cocoa and some chunks of about 100g chocolate cut into pieces. Mixed it up and spooned about a tablespoon in to 12 cupcake cases, gas mark 5 for about 15minutes and they were all done!

I lacked ingredients for icing but they would be perfect with a bit of buttercream on top.

* My unsuccessful attempt involved me thinking that cupcake cases wedged closely together on a baking tray would be absolutely fine. Result – lots of cake batter spilling out of cake cases and onto my tin – not good! You need proper cupcake tins.

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