Wednesday, 29 May 2013

# 353 Caraway seed cake

This is a flavoursome cake and apparently it was very popular in Victorian times. It's also the perfect cake for a picnic as its consistency, not too soft or too moist, means it travels well even when sliced.

This recipe is from the book British Baking from Peyton & Byrne.

Caraway Seed Cake

180g butter, softened
180g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
250g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon caraway seeds

Preheat the oven to 170 ºC. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Beat the butter and the sugar together until light and creamy. Mix in the vanilla extract, then the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition until well incorporated.

Sift the flour and baking powder together into the bowl, add the caraway seeds and continue to beat the mixture until the flour is just mixed through. Be careful not to overmix.

Pour into the tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven onto a wire rack and cool completely.



Monday, 27 May 2013

# 352 Spring Bank Holiday

Yesterday was the perfect Spring day with a clear blue sky and plenty of sunshine all day long, ideal weather for a day out in one of the many beautiful National Trust properties.

This time we revisited Berrington Hall in Herefordshire. This is a lovely property with plenty to see both inside the house and out in the walled and kitchen gardens and surrounding grounds. The servants quarters are very interesting and give you a real insight on what life was like for the staff working in these great big houses.

You can find a few more photos on my Flickr here.


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

# 351 Shaping bread

When making bread one of the things I struggle with the most is the shaping of the dough especially if I'm planning on baking it in a baking tray instead of a tin. Thanks to Paul Hollywood's Bread on TV I'm finally getting better results when shaping my loaves.

I thought I'd share how I've been doing it in case anyone else has had  the same problem. This is how I do it and so far the results have been great.

So, you've kneaded the dough and it has had its 1st proving. Knock the dough back and tip on to the work surface. Using a rolling pin or the palms of your hands stretch the dough to a rectangle shape.

 Fold the bottom up to the middle and gently press down with your fingetips.

Then fold the top down and again press gently.

Now fold from one of the sides towards the middle, press and then do the same on the other side.

Press the dough with your fingertips or gently roll it out with a rolling pin.

Then start rolling the dough as if it's a roulade, tuck in the ends underneath and place the shaped dough in the tin or baking tray.

Prove for a 2nd time for about 30-40 minutes until increased in size and then bake in a preheated oven.

This is the loaf I made following this method and it looks a lot better than my previous ones when I just placed the dough on the tin or tray and hoped for the best.


Friday, 17 May 2013

# 350 Crunchy Jumbles

According to the statistics for this blog "cookies" and "biscuits" are top of the list for search keywords used, closely followed sometimes by "online dating"! What that's got to do with the content of this blog I have no idea.

I made these crunchy biscuits the other day following a recipe from the book Fabulous Cookies by Hilaire Walden. They were irresistibly crunchy and so, so delicious the biscuit box was soon empty again.

Crunchy Jumbles

115g butter at room temperature
225g sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
175g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicabornate of soda
Pinch of salt
115g crisped rice cereal
1 cup chocolate chips (or a 100g chocolate bar chopped)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence. Sift over the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt and fold in.

Add the cereal and chocolate chips. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

Drop spoonfuls of the dough on the prepared baking trays leaving enough space for the biscuits to spread. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and allow the biscuits to cool for a couple of minutes before transfering them to a wire rack to cool completely.



Wednesday, 15 May 2013

# 349 Beef hot pot

It feels as if Winter is back again or maybe it never really ended. We did have a few warm, sunny days but now it's back to the cold and the rain and to food that is served piping hot and that feels comforting. This dish is perfect for such weather.

The original recipe is from The Good-Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cookbook, 1994 edition.

Beef hot pot

700g slow cook diced casserole beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 stick celery
1/2 medium swede, peeled and cut into chunks
2 beef stock cubes
Drizzle of olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato purée
Potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

Heat a little olive oil in a large pan. Sprinkle some flour over the beef and add to the pan with the onions, sauté for a few minutes over a high heat. Stir in the carrots, celery and swede then add the stock cubes, tomato purée and about 2 cups of boiling water.

Bring to a simmer, cook for a couple of minutes and then transfer to the slow cooker and cook for a few hours on medium until the meat is tender.

I usually set the timer 1 to 2 hour periods after which I give the meat a quick stir and check if I need to add any more liquid.

Transfer to a deep ovenproof dish, arrange the potatoes in overlapping layers on top of the meat and vegetables mixture and bake in the oven until the potatoes are cooked through.



Wednesday, 8 May 2013

# 348 Malted white loaf

When I began making my own bread I never thought that 3 or 4 years later I'd still be making it and what's more on an almost daily basis.

Contrary to what many people think baking your own bread is easy although a little time consuming, it's also very rewarding as you can't beat the quality of a homemade loaf, the smell of it as it bakes and the taste.

Because I bake on such a regular basis I like to vary the type of bread we eat and this is one of my personal favourites. Hope you enjoy it too.

This bread is delicious as it is or toasted and spread with butter, especially if you add the sultanas.

Malted white loaf

20g fresh yeast
500g strong white flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons malt extract (you can find it in most health food shops)
320ml water, lukewarm
150g sultanas (optional)

Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water.

Use a kitchen stand mixer with a dough hook to make the dough as follows.

Pour the flour into the mixer bowl, add the salt around the side and open a well in the middle. Add the sugar, malt extract and the yeast mixture.

Mix on the lowest speed until you have a kneadable dough. Tip it onto your work surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, you may need to add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky but be careful not to add too much.

Grease the bowl with a little olive oil (no need to clean it), form a ball with the dough and put it in the bowl to prove, cover with clingfilm and allow to prove until doubled in volume.

Knock the dough back, knead for a few seconds and then add the sultanas if using. Shape the loaf and place in a loaf tin lined with baking paper to prove a 2nd time. Again cover with clingfilm and allow to prove for 30-40 minutes until almost doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 220 ºC / gas mark 7 and bake the loaf for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to about 190 - 200 ºC and bake for 25-30 minutes more.

To check if the bread is ready remove it from the tin and tap the bottom, if it sounds hollow it's ready.



Monday, 6 May 2013

# 347 April photo scavenger hunt

I'm joining in again with the photo scavenger hunt hosted by Greenthumb from Made With Love. To take part or simply to see what others have come up with for the clues given please click on the link to Greenthumb's blog.

Sign for free range eggs at a local farm.

Bristol stoneware pot

Plastic building blocks donated to the library. I brought them home to give them a good clean before putting them out for the children to play.

I love cooking so tend to collect lots of recipes that I cut out from magazines.  Most of the books shown were bought for a £1 or less and 2 of them were giveaways.

Map of the small rural town where I live. As you can see it's called Berkeley pronounced "barklee".

Lovely, curly petals.

Aren't these pretty?

Photo taken last Summer while on holiday in Portugal. Not sure what this sport is called.

Airplane models at the House Museum in Bristol.

I love dry stone walls especially when they have moss and other vegetation growing on them.

Photo taken at Dyrham Park on our last visit a week or so ago.

Beef hot pot for dinner. Recipe to be posted soon.