Archives for posts with tag: Icing

Biscuit postcards

Wow, so it’s mid-February already, how did that happen? The weather has been blowing a gale here in London along side the non-stop rain. What else to do on rainy days other than experiment with new recipes and bake, of course?!

During January (notebly absent from my blog) I discovered a number of delicious veggie curry dishes as well as soupy/ stewy staples. Since it was Valentine’s day yesterday I thought I’d share some of the treats I made my sweetheart (cheesey, I know!)

First up and actually not for Valentine’s day but to sweeten up the people I am working with, some white chocolate and fresh raspberry cookies, which to be fair are red and white-themed.

Raspberry and white chocolate cookies

The recipe I used was another gem from the Carnation website, and these truly taste delicious. Soft, chewy, and full of chocolate and fruit, I think they are a tastier, fresher and preservative / junk free version of the ones you can buy in the supermarket in brown paper bags. They also stay fresh for quite a few days (if they last that long!).

Using this recipe I found that rolling the dough in to balls worked a lot better than trying to flatten it out. The cookies flatten and expand a lot whilst cooking so space them apart and only put a few on each baking tray. Patience is a virtue, plus you get to eat the early batches whilst the rest are cooking!

Also, use frozen raspberries if you wanted to, as they are a) cheaper and b) easier to squidge in to the dough. Unlike fresh raspberries they don’t fall apart under pressure.

So, cookies are good. Always good.

On to Valentine’s day. I had George the tortoise in the spirit of things…

Valentine's tortoise

…and was even given a belated tortoise birthday cake that week by my talented friend Steph. It tasted very chocolatey!

Cake

On to my Valentine’s iced biscuits. It took me a while to find a recipe that I was happy with, I wanted it to be interesting (not bland) and also not to expand too much so that the biscuits would lose their shape.

Using a spiced biscuit recipe not dissimilar to the one I used at Christmas from Ocado,  I then used roll out fondant icing to make these envelope biscuits, inspired by Domestic Sluttery’s efforts (http://www.domesticsluttery.com/2013/02/baking-for-beginners-valentines.html). I loved this idea, since I love things all stationery and letter-writing. Edible letter-writing!? Yes please!

The biscuit recipe is so easy, although I would recommend chilling the dough for 30 minutes in the fridge since this does stop the biscuits from spreading and losing their shape whilst cooking.

I purchased some edible icing pens online and admittedly could do with some practice, since this was my first attempt at using them. I rolled out fondant icing and stuck them on to a biscuits with a little glace icing.

Biscuits

I made a selection of biscuits with lemon glace icing, although again I think I need to practice my “flood icing” technique. After all, practice makes perfect right?!

Messy biccies

I have been experimenting with a few things in the last few weeks, but work had caught up with me and I haven’t made a chance to sit down and write about my efforts. I have also been busy mourning the end of the only TV show I religiously watch, the Great British Bake Off. Content with the finalists and the winner, I have been inspired to try a few different recipes, so I guess there is a happy ending after all.

I can summarise my rises and falls (#GBBO puns) of recent escapades with the following statements:

– Don’t try to adapt a Mary Berry cake recipe – she is official Queen of Cakes for a reason
– Successful Pierre Herme macarons require patience, precision AND a sugar thermometer (now on the Christmas list)
– Lemon curd really IS easy to make
– Despite my first ever attempt at brioche being a success, I am still scared of baking bread

good crumb structure

Whilst my chocolate cake for my friend Vic’s birthday turned out alright, I did fail on an adapted version of Mary Berry’s  spiced orange cake. Pulverised lemon in a cake does NOT taste nice.

Chocolate cake

However I would say that I have perfected my white chocolate icing recipe. I made another chocolate birthday cake, another Mary Berry recipe and added fresh raspberries and white chocolate chips to the batter. I have already had a re-order for next year so that must be good feedback!

Another choc cake

In a somewhat less successful episode, I couldn’t even bring myself to take a photo of my failed macarons. What have previously been such beautiful treats were reduced to burned splodges after trying to rush through the 36 steps of making  macaron shells, according to the master Mr Herme. I will try again, hopefully once in possession of a sugar thermometer, and will report back on progress. Passion will prevail over precision!

Inspired by my friend Sally’s delicious macarons (which were never a failure), and in anticipation of warm, fresh brioche, I had a go at making some lemon curd. I also had a lot of egg yolks and lemons to use up after the above failures. I followed Delia’s lemon curd recipe and as usual, her words of wisdom are right on the mark. Zingy lemon curd with just the right tinge of sweetness was ready to be slathered on to brioche.

Lemon curd

Moving on to the main subject of this post, Bronya’s brioches.  Bronya is Jess’s mum (see “a bit of savoury on the side” for cooking adventures with Jess).  As teenagers, she was picking Jess and I up in the early hours of the morning after a night out and bringing us tea and toast in bed the next day. As adults, she is sharing her delicious bread recipes with us.

This recipe makes makes one large loaf, which can be shaped to make it easy to share. It has a crisp, sugary coating and soft, fluffy, buttery middle. Yum!

Brioche

I was so proud of my loaf, no soggy bottom (GBBO reference) and it tasted delicious.

nice bottom

Just a little forward planning is required as you need to assemble the dough the night before baking it.

Before proving

 

Look at how the little beaut rose after a few hours of proving…

after proving

Bronya’s recipe is below, unadulterated and with full credit to her. Delicious served warm with lemon curd or another spread of your choice.

Crispy sugary topped brioche

Ingredients

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
7g salt
50g caster sugar
10g instant yeast
140ml warm full-fat milk  I have used skimmed, it works
5 medium eggs
250g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

Method

1. Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the milk and eggs and mix on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for a further 6–8 minutes, until you have a soft, glossy, elastic dough. Add the softened butter and continue to mix for a further 4–5 minutes, scraping down the bowl periodically to ensure that the butter is thoroughly incorporated. The dough should be very soft.

2. Tip the dough into a plastic bowl, cover and chill overnight or for at least 7 hours, until it is firm and you are able to shape it.

3. Grease a 25cm round deep cake tin.

4. Take your brioche dough from the fridge and tip it onto a lightly floured surface and fold it in on itself a few times to knock out the air. Divide it into 9 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball by placing it into a cage formed by your hand and the table and moving your hand around in a circular motion, rotating the ball rapidly. Put 8 balls of dough around the outside of the tin and the final one in the middle.

5. Cover with a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for 2–3 hours, or until the dough has risen to just above the rim of the tin.

6. Heat your oven to 190 c

7. When the brioche is proved, bake for 20–30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Bear in mind that the sugar and butter in the dough will make it take on colour before it is actually fully baked. Remove the brioche from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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