Sunday, 29 March 2015

Cardamom Date & Orange Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns mark the start of Spring for me and and are one of my all time favourite baked treats. They are as satisfying to make at home as they are to eat and they're not as tricky as you might think either. If you can bake a simple loaf of bread, you can get creative with flavour and make your own batch of hot cross buns.

This recipe is inspired by Swedish style cardamon buns after a recent trip to Fabrique bakery and is slightly adapted from a recipe that I wrote for Design Sponge last Easter. In this version, I've upped the intensity of the cardamon by grinding the seeds and adding them to the flour mix instead of infusing the milk with whole pods. Read more of my hot cross bun tips over at Tesco Real Food. Happy Easter baking!

For the buns:
150ml whole milk
5 tablespoons clear honey
55g unsalted butter, cubed
350g strong white flour plus extra for kneading
7g fast action dried yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
10 cardamom pods, seeds ground
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
100g dates, roughly chopped
zest of one orange

For the crosses:
55g plain flour
1 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons oil

For the egg wash:
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk

For the glaze:
2 tablespoons clear honey

Heat the milk until just simmering. Stir in the honey and the butter and set aside to cool until tepid. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, yeast, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.  Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the egg followed by the milk mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes by hand (or using a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment) until smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky to knead, sprinkle some flour onto your work surface.  Cover the dough with some lightly oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for two hours or until doubled in size.

Lightly oil a baking sheet and knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until smooth.
Kneed the dates and the orange zest into the dough.

Divide the dough into twelve buns (about 60g each). Shape each bun by kneading the dough in on itself to create a smooth taught surface and place seam side down onto the baking sheet about 3cm apart. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to prove for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

To make the crosses, mix together the flour, honey and enough water form a thick paste (2-2 ½ tablespoons) that is runny enough to pipe but still holds its shape. To make the egg wash, beat the egg with the milk and pass it through a sieve.
Once the buns have doubled in size, heat the oven to 200C and brush over the egg wash. Fill a piping bag with the paste for the crosses and snip off the end to make a small hole. Pipe each bun with a cross.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until risen and golden. Brush with the honey and transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Serve split and toasted with lots of butter.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Clementine Buttermilk Bundt Cake

This winter citrus cake is adapted from the Citrus Confetti Cake my book, Decorated, and makes the most of delicately flavoured clementines. Serve it plain as a breakfast treat with the clementine juice on the side or use the juice to make a drizzle icing. 

Excitingly, this recipe can also be found on Red Magazine's website along with a 'My Week on a Plate' feature that I wrote for them back in January. 

For the cake:
170g unsalted butter
240g caster sugar
Grated zest of 3 medium clementines (about 1 tablespoon)
3 medium eggs
90g buttermilk or Greek style yoghurt
240g plain flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt

For the drizzle icing (optional):
250g icing sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons clementine juice

Preheat the oven to 170C (Gas 3). Butter a 20cm (8 inch) bundt tin or butter and line a round 20cm (8 inch) deep cake tin. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and zest for 3-4 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until they’re well incorporated. In a clean bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Add half of the flour mixture to the egg mixture, then add the yoghurt, continue to beat and add the remaining flour beating until just combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes until turning out on a wire rack to cool completely if icing or serve slightly warm if not.

To make the icing, beat the icing sugar and citrus juice in a bowl until smooth. The icing should be opaque but thin enough to run down the sides of the cake.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Pecan & blueberry granola

This adaptable granola recipe is making my January resolution of making time for breakfast much easier to keep. I've called this pecan and blueberry granola but really you can adapt it to whatever you have in your cupboard (just swap the nuts and fruit for whatever you fancy). I always seem to have odd amounts of flaked almonds, hazelnuts, dried fruits and other bits and bobs left over from baking sessions and this is a great way to use them up. 

Pecan & blueberry granola

70g (1/4 cup) agave syrup
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
250g (2 1/2 cups) rolled oats
30g (1/4/ cup) sesame seeds
125g (1 cup) pecans (or any nuts)
30g (1/4 cup) flaked almonds (or any nuts)
100g dried blueberries (or any dried fruit)
50g raisins (or any dried fruit)

Heat the oven to 150C (300F or gas mark 2) and line a large baking tray or two small trays with baking paper. 

Measure the agave syrup, honey, oil, water, sugar, salt and spices into a large saucepan and heat until the sugar has disolved and the mixture is well combined. Turn off the heat and add the oats, seeds and nuts (set the dried fruit aside for later) mixing until well combined.

Bake for around 30 minutes or until golden brown stiring with a wooden spoon half way through the cooking time. 

Set aside to cool before mixing in the dried fruit and storing in a sealed jar. 

Makes about 1.5 litres. 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Apple & Hazelnut Cake

This week I'll be buying my Christmas tree, hanging fairy lights and starting on those epic batches of gingerbread tree decorations and mince pies for family visits. Even though I love Christmas, I'm always a bit sad that Autumn has been and gone so I wanted to say farewell to my favourite season with this simple apple and hazelnut cake. I made this a few weeks ago while there were still apples on the tree in our little garden - the rest are destined for mincemeat and chutney. This is an easy cake to put together and the glaze can go on while the cake is still warm so no need to wait before you get to eat it.

Apple & Hazelnut Cake

150g blanched hazelnuts
250g apple, peeled and cored (2-3 eating apples like Granny Smith)
250g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
250g soft light brown sugar
3 medium eggs
250g plain flour
1 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

For the glaze and topping:
50g blanched hazelnuts
150g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan assisted) / Gas Mark 4 and butter and line the base of a 9 inch (23cm) springform cake tin with baking paper. Spread the hazelnuts for the cake and the topping onto a baking tray and roast for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and aromatic. Set aside to cool slightly and roughly chop. Meanwhile, coarsely grate 150g of the apple and cut the remaining 100g into 1cm cubes.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt into a bowl and set aside. Place the butter, sugar and eggs into a clean bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale. Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as you go. Fold in the apple and 150g of the hazelnuts until just combined.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface with a pallette knife.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then release the sides of the tin and transfer to a wire rack.

To make the glaze, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and whisk in 2 tablespoons of water. Brush or drizzle the glaze onto the cake and sprinkle over the remaining chopped hazelnuts.

Monday, 13 October 2014

White rose cake with crystallised rose petals & Decorated book giveaway

White Rose Cake from Decorated. Photo: Danielle Wood
Today my new book, Decorated: Sublimely Crafted Cakes for Every Occasion, has officially been released in the UK, US and Australia! To celebrate, I wanted to share one of my favourite recipes and decorating techniques from the book and I also have a signed copy to give away.

Decorated giveaway
For a chance to win a signed copy of Decorated, all you need to do is leave a comment below, tweet or post on instagram and let me know what your favourite cake flavour is (use the hashtag #DecoratedCookBook). Just to inspire you, here are some of the flavours from the recipes in Decorated: chocolate sea salt caramel, coconut, fig and almond, lemon poppyseed, lavender, dark chocolate, burnt butter hazelnut, apple rosemary, gingerbread whiskey caramel, red velvet, chesnut pear, pistachio... The winner will be chosen at random on Friday, good luck! x

How to crystallise rose petals. Photo: Danielle Wood

White rose cake recipe & how to crystallise rose petals

I love this dip-dye ombre look. Inside is a rose flavoured cake that uses mostly egg white, giving the sponge a pale shade which lends itself well to being coloured (check out the book for tips on how to turn this into a rainbow cake). 

The rose cake is topped with crystallised rose petals. This technique works with other edible flowers like violets and yellow primroses.
 As with using fresh flowers, the important thing to remember 
is that your rose petals should be pesticide free.

For the crystallised rose petals:
1. Remove the petals from the flower head, trying to keep them in one piece. Pick out the freshest looking petals.
2. Working in batches, brush a thin layer of egg white on to both sides of each petal and sprinkle over enough caster sugar to give each petal an even coating.
3. Set aside on baking parchment or a wire rack to dry with a crisp shell, uncovered, for several hours or overnight. Store at room temperature and use within a day or so of making.

For the cake:
125 g (41⁄2 oz) unsalted butter
250 g (9 oz/generous cup) caster (superfine) sugar
1 medium egg and 3 medium egg whites, lightly beaten
225 g (8 oz/scant 2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
60 0 g (1 lb 3 oz/scant 5 cups) icing (confectioners’) sugar
150 ml (5 fl oz) double (heavy) cream
pink paste or gel food colouring
21⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
180 ml (6 fl oz) whole milk
1 teaspoon rose extract

For the rose buttercream:
375 g (13 oz) unsalted butter
2–3 teaspoons rose extract

To decorate:
pink and white crystallised rose petals

2 x 13 cm (5 inch) round, deep cake tins

Preheat the oven to 170°C (335°F/Gas 3). Grease the cake tins and line with baking parchment. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs to the mixture a little at a time, until they’re well incorporated.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into bowl.  Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until just combined. Add half of the milk and the rose extract, continuing to beat, and then add the remaining flour and milk.

Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared  cake tins. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes in their tins, then turn them out on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, make the rose buttercream. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter for 3–4 minutes until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar and cream and continue to beat for another 2–3 minutes until smooth. Add the rose extract gradually to taste.

Level the cakes by cutting off the domed tops and split each layer in half so that you have 4 layers in total. Fix the bottom layer to the cake board or stand with a small amount of buttercream and spread with a generous amount of the buttercream. Add the second layer and repeat, and repeat again with the third layer, finishing with the final cake layer. Cover the cake with a thin layer of buttercream and chill for 30 minutes or until firm.

Split the remaining buttercream into 3 bowls, leaving half of the buttercream white and colouring a quarter deep pink and a quarter pale pink. Spread the white buttercream over the top and halfway down the sides of the cake. With a clean spatula, spread the deep pink buttercream around the bottom quarter of the cake. Spread the pale pink buttercream between the white and deep pink colours, clean your spatula and smooth the cake, removing excess buttercream as you go. Decorate with the crystallised rose petals.

White Rose Cake from Decorated. Photo: Danielle Wood

Saturday, 11 October 2014

My new book, Decorated: Sublimely Crafted Cakes for Every Occasion

It's finally here! My new book, Decorated: Sublimely Crafted Cakes for Every Occasion, is officially released on Monday 13th October. It features over 20 cake projects with delicious flavour combinations like sea salt caramel and chocolate, citrus with blood orange, lemon and pink grapefruit, burnt butter hazelnut and creative decorating techniques like fresh flowers, fruit dipped in edible glitter, painted golden pecans, scalloped Swiss meringue buttercream and crystallised rosemary. 

I've been so lucky to work with the photographer Danielle Wood and the team at Hardie Grant again and as well as gorgeous photos of each cake we've included loads of step by step shots. There are basics like how to level, split, fill and cover a cake with ganache or buttercream and more advanced (but totally achievable) steps from how to create tiered cakes like the Stacked Victoria Sandwich on the front cover to fancy piping, ombre colour schemes and making your own fondant confetti sprinkles.

I'm going to be sharing more from the book during the launch week but in the mean time, there are some of the beautiful photos from the book on my instagram, twitter and facebook feeds (look out for the hashtag #DecoratedCookBook). Decorated is available to pre order on Amazon and it will be in shops like Waterstones and Foyles from Monday. Yay!!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Plum Jam and Poppyseed Thumbprint Cookies

This year on our annual visit to the Czech Republic there were more than a few trays of plums hanging around just waiting to be baked or preserved. So inspired by a rainy afternoon and a recent visit to The London Borough of Jam I made a couple of jars of this simple recipe. It's so easy to make and will also give you an excuse to bake some poppyseed thumbprint cookies. These buttery little vessels will show off your jam in all it's sticky, richly coloured glory. I'd love to try it as an alternative filling for my Blackcurrent & Vanilla Linzer Cookies from trEATs too.

For the jam:
1kg plums
Juice of one lemon
750g caster sugar

For the cookies:
125g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons poppyseeds
4 tablespoons jam (see above)

For the jam, half and de-stone the plums and juice the lemon. Mix the plums, lemon juice and sugar in a heavy bottomed, large saucepan (make sure that you use a large pan otherwise your jam might boil over the sides). Cover and set aside to macerate for at least an hour to allow the sugar to extract some of the juice. Bring the mixture slowly to the boil and then continue to boil for around 20 minutes until thickened. Transfer to two hot, sterile jam jars (washed in hot soapy water, rinsed and dried in a low oven at around 120C or washed in the dishwasher) and seal. Once cool, store in the fridge for up to a month.

For the cookies, heat the oven to 170C and line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy and then mix in the egg until well combined, followed by the vanilla. Sift in the flour, salt and poppyseeds and mix until just combined. Bring the dough together with your hands and kneed briefly until smooth. Roll walnut sized pieces of dough into balls and place on the lined baking sheets. Using the handle end of a wooden spoon, press indentations into each ball. Chill for 20 minutes to help the cookies to keep their shape. Bake for 10 minutes then remove the cookies from the oven and use the handle of the wooden spoon to re-define the indentations. Fill each cookie with a 1/2 teaspoon of jam and return to the oven for 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes around 2 jars of jam and 24 cookies.

Jam recipe adapted from here.


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