Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Pecan & toffee shortbread

I have been trying to find the perfect shortbread recipe for a while now & I think this recipe by Lorraine Pascale from BBC 2's Baking Made Easy is it!
You can add whatever you want to these cookies, chocolate chunks, cranberries, lime zest ....

130g butter, softened
60g caster sugar
130g plain flour
60g rice flour

Preheat the oven to 150oC.

Cream the butter & sugar together until pale and fluffy.

Add the flours (& nuts/ chocolate etc if using) to the creamed butter & sugar.  
Mix until a dough forms (this should be quite crumbly, but it will stick together eventually).

Once the dough it formed wrap in cling-film and refrigerate for about half an hour.

Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out on a floured surface.  Cut into shapes and place onto a tray lined with baking parchment.  Bake until firm to touch.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Cantuccini - almond biscotti

My mummy loves these ..... I managed to get her some real good ones whilst in Florence, however, the ones in the shops over here have not been able to compare .... so I made her some!
These would be nice with some sort of dried fruit of really dark chocolate chips in.
This recipe comes from Twelve - A Tuscan Cook Book by Tessa kiros

Makes about 45 biscuits

60g butter, softened
250g caster sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon or orange
2 eggs
400g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
150g whole almonds with skin on
3 tablespoons of Vin Santo (yum yum)

Preheat the oven to 180oC. Gas mark 4.  
Mix the butter and sugar in a bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth.
Add the zest and the eggs, and beat well.  Mix in the sifted flour, baking powder and a small pinch of salt.  Stir in the whole almonds and the Vin Santo.

Line a large baking sheet with baking paper.  lightly dust your work surface and hands with flour.  Form about three whole salami shapes with your hands - slightly shorter than the length of the tray - of about 3cm high and 5cm wide.  Put them onto the baking sheet, allowing enough space between each for spreading while they cook.  Bake for about 20 minutes until they are golden and dry.  They will seem a little soft.
Remove from the oven and while still hot, cut about 2cm slices at an angle with a sharp knife, sawing the surface lightly just to pierce through, then chopping through cleanly once, rather than sawing through the biscuits.  Handle them carefully as they will be fragile before their second baking.

Lay the slices cut-side-up onto the baking sheet and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes to lightly toast the biscuit.  They should be cream coloured on the inside and golden brown on the rim.  Cool before storing in an airtight container, where they will keep for a couple of weeks.

Berry & Buttermilk cake

I've been using buttermilk in my cakes recently, it never fails to make the sponge really light and fluffy. I won't bake a cake without it now!
This recipe from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros is a great way to use up any fruit you might have lurking around.

Makes about 12 slices

315g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
90g caster sugar
250 ml buttermilk
60g butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp grated lemon zest
150g blueberries 
freshly ground nutmeg
2 tbsp demerara sugar

Preheat an oven to 200oC.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and add the sugar and a few grinds of fresh nutmeg. 
Put the eggs into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy.
Add the buttermilk, butter and lemon zest and beat together well.
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix gently until everything is combined.  If you beat too hard your cake will be tough.
Spoon the mixture into a greased or lined tin.
Scatter with the blueberries then sprinkle with the demerara sugar.
Bake until a skewer poked into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

St Clements cakes

These little cakes are not your 'typical' St Clements cakes, they are basically a lemon & poppy seed sponge, but with a little orange zest and juice added to the batter.  
I topped my cakes with an orange & lemon syrup, a swirl of buttercream. orange dust AND a white chocolate & poppyseed heart!! For something easier you could make a simple icing from the juice of a few oranges &/or lemons mixed with icing sugar.

Sponge recipe

175g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
2 whole eggs plus 1 yolk, beaten
225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125 ml buttermilk
zest of 3 lemons
zest of 3 oranges, plus juice from one
2 tbsp of poppy seeds

Preheat and oven to 180oC

Cream together the softened butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat well.
Add the zests and orange juice.
Sift half the flour with the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into the butter, sugar and egg mix and fold in gently.  
Add half the buttermilk and fold in gently.
Repeat this process with the rest of the flour and buttermilk.
Add the poppy seeds.

Bake at 180oC until a firm to touch and when a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Syrup recipe

50g caster sugar
75 ml orange juice
1 tbsp lemon juice

Add all the ingredients into a pan.
Warm over a low heat until the sugar dissolves.
Continue to heat until the mixture has thickened slightly.  
Brush over the cakes.  
Repeat this process until you have used up all the syrup.

Orange Dust
Taken from Unwrapped - Green & Blacks Chocolate Recipes

4 oranges
300g granulated sugar
120 ml water
oil for greasing

Scrub the oranges and pat them dry.
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the top layer of the peel, but ensure you don't remove the pith.
Bring the sugar and water to the boil and, without stirring, boil for about 10 minutes or until it begins to form a syrup.
Add the orange peel and continue to boil without stirring for another 10 minutes.
Brush some oil onto a baking sheet and, using a pair of togs, transfer the caramelised peel to the baking sheet.
Leave to cool and dry completely before pulverising in a food processor.