Coconut biscuits!

A raining Sunday is perfect for experimenting in the kitchen.

I love baking, both my grandmothers were great bakers and gifted us with lots of time together in the kitchen making things together.

I didn’t have enough coconut for macaroons so I decided to get creative with what I did have.

Ingredients 

120g Plain Flour

50g Desiccated Coconut

50g Ground Almonds

100g Sugar

120g Butter

 

Going for easy options I went for simple combinations, and an even easier method.  Fingers crossed.

Method 

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.  I also added some cinnamon because it is my favorite, you could add nutmeg or vanilla if you wanted to.

Gently melt the butter, don’t let it bubble.

Combine the butter with the dry ingredients until it forms a dough.

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Roughly shape into balls (about a teaspoon amount of mixture) and lay on baking paper.  Press down with a fork.

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Bake in the oven for 18 minutes or until golden.

 

Pretty tasty, hope you enjoy.  let me know how yours turn out.

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in 2017!

 

 

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Disaster in the kitchen Elf

Nougat a wonderful soft, chewy, sweet and decadent treat and the perfect homemade Christmas gift for friends and family.

So, I set about researching for a recipe that is easy enough for a first-time nougat creator and a recipe that does not insist on lots of crazy equipment.  I settle on one from Good To Know

So, I set out my ingredients, and at the start everything is going IMAG2241 (1).jpgwell.  I follow the instructions.  Bit by bit it becomes apparent that I need 2 more sets of hands.  Whilst trying to keep an eye on the temperature of the syrup, I realise the almonds are starting to burn.  I quickly whip them out of the oven.  Phew, rescuable I just take out the few almonds that are beyond it.  Then I start to separate the eggs and whisk the egg whites.

Now, I do not have a standalone mixer, just a hand held…this is where it starts to go terribly wrong.  I’m desperately multitasking, trying to watch the syrup and whisk the egg whites.  The egg whites are ending up everywhere as I resort to trying to keep whisking whilst holding the thermometer in the syrup.  The temperature does not seem to be rising at all, then suddenly its burning…I’m not even sure how, it doesn’t look like its burning but the fire alarm is now going off so it must be!  In a last ditched attempt to rescue the situation I try to gently and slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites…whilst whisking.  I definitely do not have enough hands I can’t hold the heavy syrup pan and whisk…it’s not physically possible.  I imag2245am spilling boiling sugar everywhere!  EVERYWHERE! I give in and try to do it in batches.  A last minute hopefulness takes over as it seems the mixture is setting.  It’s quite brown though…that’s not right…. Anyway, I pour the mix into the trays line with rice paper (oh, yes, forgot to mention I miss-clicked and ended up with a garish green rice paper rather than the pale green Christmas colour I had hopped for).

The mix sort of sets, we try it.  It is horrible, genuinely I have never baked anything that tastes more like the scrapings of a fire place.  It goes in the bin.

I try again… because I am mad.  I haven’t yet gotten the sugar syrup off the benches!

The second attempt is mildly less manic and terrifying, helped by enlisting Mr Elf.  This time however, the mix just stays like a rather melty ice cream looking smuch between garish green paper.  It tastes good this time, which is something…. I think.  In any case, it too goes in the bin and I make shortbread instead.

I recommend buying your nougat at the supermarket and enjoying as a treat that does not leave you wondering how you got egg whites in the toaster!

 

Bread!

Inspired by Bake Off?  Bubbling with anger over the changes that are to come?  Or just fancy a bit of a bake… why not have a try at this super simple bread recipe.

I’m feeling a little heart ache that my favourites are no longer going to be part of Bake Off… so to plug that gap I am trying to bake myself some bread.  I’ve never done this without the aid of a machine or sourdough starter.  After a little research I come up with what seems to be an easy to follow simple recipe for a white loaf and given it a little tweak.


Ingredients

500g plain white flour (you will need a little bit extra for dusting)

1 tsp salt

7g fast-action yeast

3 tbsp olive oil

300ml warm water

1.5 tbsp poppy seeds

 

Method

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Create a small well in the centre and add the oil and the water, make sure the water is warm not hot.

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Tip onto a floured bench.  Knead the dough until it is smooth and soft.  Flour a proofing basket, or place in a lightly oiled mixing bowl.  Leave to rise for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.

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Knock back the dough.  If you haven’t done this before, the aim is to remove the larger air bubbles, I like to gently pull the edges of the dough into the middle and press in.  Line a baking tray with baking paper, shape the dough into a ball and place on the tray.  Leave to rise for a further hour or until doubled in size.

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Heat your oven to 220c or gas mark 7.  Make sure the oven is hot before you put the dough into the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a nice golden crust and the bread sounds hollow when you tap it.

Cool on a wire rack…or cut right in!

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My favourite place for recipes is the BBC Good Food site, have a look and get inspired.

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes

 

I love the smell of proofing bread!  It is homely, warm and almost as good as the finished thing!  Take a moment to enjoy this moment, it’s a thing of beauty that we have managed to create this wonderful reaction.

I spread butter and vegemite on my bread whilst it is warm and…it….is…. wonderful.  even if I am blowing my own trumpet.

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Don’t feel you have to stick to poppy seeds, you could sprinkle pumpkin seeds on the top before you bake, or mix in some dried tomatoes and basil.  Or try a sweet option, maybe some honey or dried cherries.  Delicious!

 

Beesting Elf

Beesting cake or Bienenstich is a yeast based desert that is similar to brioche in its consistency. Some people say the name comes from the bees that are attracted to its honey topping, others say that to be a true beesting it needs to have been stung by a bee!

Anyway, aside from that it is Mr Elf’s favourite and after lots of years without this cake I have decided to take on the challenge and create one for his birthday. I have been researching recipes and there are many variations out there. I have gone for a combination recipe taken from a couple of different sites (BBC good food and Good To Know websites) and combined them to make a recipe that is not to custardy (yuck!) and fingers crossed it will work out.

The recipe is a yeast based cake although if this seems daunting there are non-proofing recipes out there that I am sure would work just as well.

Ingredients for the dough:IMAG2076

250g plain white flour
125g butter (cold ish)
2tsp caster sugar
Pinch of salt
7g easy-bake dried yeast
3 medium eggs

Lightly butter a Medium baking tin. Mix the flour and butter together to make breadcrumbs, by rubbing the butter though the flour with your fingers and thumbs. Next add the sugar, salt, yeast and eggs and knead it in to the mixture until combined (take a little time to do this). Turn out on to a lightly floured surface form the dough into a ball, use a little extra flour if you need. Put the dough into a bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise for 1 hour in a warm place until it has doubled in size. Once it has risen knock the dough down, shape it into a ball and put it back into the baking tin you are going to use in the oven. Cover and leave to rise for about 1 hour, until doubled in size

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Ingredients for the topping:IMAG2079

50g unsalted butter
50g sugar
4tbsp honey
Pinch of salt
80g sliced almonds
Vanilla extract

Bring the butter, sugar, honey, and salt, together in a non-stick pan on the hob and bring to a gentle boil. (Keep an eye on this or it will boil up over everything and this is very hard to get off!) Let the mixture reduce slightly then remove from the heat, and stir in the almonds, making sure that all the almonds are evenly coated in the honey mixture. (You can add extra almonds if you feel like it). Spoon over the dough making sure you get an even coverage. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Ingredients for the filling:IMAG2080

250g Double cream
Vanilla extract
1.5tbs honey

Make sure you allow the cake to cool right down to room temperature before you try to add the filling. Whip up the cream until thick and slowly add the honey and vanilla. Cut the cake in half (extra hands might be needed) and spread a generous layer of cream inside. Sandwich back together serve.

You could use Crème fraiche instead of cream, or you could go the custard based filling and make a thick custard instead. Don’t be afraid of this delish cake. It is remarkably easy and just needs a little bit of extra time and planning to allow for the proofing. (I didn’t remember to do this, and was baking in to the night)

Elf tip: Make sure your eggs are room temperature. Cold eggs make for sad yeast.

 

Elf’s a baking

It’s a quiet afternoon so we are trying out a new recipe. IMAG1827 This one is for lemon cupcakes…but I have decided last minute to make two cakes instead.  To achieve this I have doubled the recipe and split between two small tins.  I have also picked up these nifty big cupcake patty pans.  They fit straight into the big tins and saves all the faffing with baking paper, very neat!

So, I mess up almost straight away and add the flour straight into the warmed butter!  Then decide just to chuck all the ingredients in and go for it any way.  I do add the eggs slowly at the end and try to whip these up a bit to get some air into the batter.

The cakes turn out quite airy and fluffy but not very lemony, I would definitely recommend about double the recipe.

I decorate with an extra lemony icing to compensate.

Delish!

ingredients (remember I doubled this to make the two cakes)

  • 100 grams unsalted butter soften for 10 seconds in the microwave
  • 100 grams self-raising flour sift for maximum smoothness
  • 100 grams golden caster sugar superfine is best
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice OR (see above)
  • 2 medium eggs

For the icing

  • 75 grams unsalted butter soften in the microwave
  • 175 grams icing sugar siftedIMAG1828
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Proper instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together.
  • Add the lemon juice
  • Gradually add the eggs, one by one.
  • Carefully fold in the flour
  • Bake in the oven for 10 – 20 minutes.

Elf instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºCIMAG1826
  • In a clean mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together then add lemon juice
  • Gradually add the eggs, try to whip the mixture up a bit to get some air into the batter
  • Bake in the oven for 10 – 20 minutes.

 

Baking Elf

In a whole new adventure my sister and I are baking a very special cake for my very special mum and making it edible for the other elf by making it gluten free.

We start with a simple sponge recipe which I have put below for anyone who wants to try it out.  We simply replaced the self raising flour with gluten free self-raising flour, we just used a supermarket home brand for this recipe.IMAG1596

We baked the four sponges in two batches and let them cool down completely before using a cookie cutter to cut a hole in the middle of three of the cakes.  We chose the cake with the smoothest top for the very top layer. IMAG1607

Next we layered up the three cakes with holes in them on top of IMAG1608each other, using low sugar jam and whipped cream to stick them together.  Then we put our surprise filling into the hole, we chose to use strawberries and raspberries, but you could just any fruit that is not too wet.  With one final coating of jam and cream we put the last cake (the one without the hole) on top.

Finally we iced the cake with mascarpone icing which we dyed pink to keep with the red berry theme.  And topped with wafer daises as a final touch!IMAG1614

This was a really pretty cake and a beautiful surprise with the berries hidden inside.  Most importantly it was delicious!  I will definitely be baking this again (maybe with less layers next time…it was very big!) and the gluten free flour worked well.  No one could tell the difference.  It rose nicely and had a lovely spring.

Yum!

 

Recipe

IngredientsIMAG1609

125g butter
125g caster sugar
2 eggs (medium)
125g self raising flour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c
  2. Line/grease two cake tins (approx 18cm in diameter)
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  4. Slowly beat in the eggs
  5. Divide the mixture between the two tins
  6. Bake for about 20-25 minutes