Saturday, 23 November 2013

Swirling and twirling

I like to make an edible gift for the boys' party bags so when I stumbled across green swirl biscuits on Pinterest last week, I decided I just had to make them for Hayden's birthday party. Worth a shot at least.

The original link on Pinterest was for an American recipe. Gah!!!! But a quick google search led me to a UK recipe. And relax!

Here we go:

220g butter 

220g caster sugar

1 large egg

370g plain flour

Food dye gel

Hundreds and thousands

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then mix in the egg. Add the flour and mix until you have a smooth, well combined dough. It shouldn't be sticky at this stage.

Split the dough in half, colour one of the pieces with the food dye gel colour of your choice. I used my Kitchen Aid to do this so put this half of the dough back in the mixer, add the dye and beat until the colour is well mixed into the dough.

Place one piece of dough between two sheets of baking parchment. Roll out until dough is around 4mm thick and slightly smaller than an A3 piece of paper. Repeat with the other ball of dough, then chill the dough sheets for 30 minutes.

Take the dough out of the fridge, remove one side of the baking parchment then flip one piece of dough on top of another. 

Place the baking parchment on top and roll the dough a bit more to help the two layers to merge. Then starting with the long side tightly roll the dough into a long sausage. Wrap well in clingfilm. Roll the dough back and forth to get a tight cylinder and get rid of any bubbles in the dough. You’re aiming to roll a cylinder that has a diameter of around 4cm.

Unroll the clingfilm and place this and the dough in a shallow baking tray. Sprinkle a generous amount of sprinkles over the dough and roll it over to embed the sprinkles in the dough. It's best to use a baking tray as hundreds & thousands will roll everywhere otherwise. Randomly my Sainsburys didn't have hundreds and thousands only red, yellow and Christmas colour mix. I decided to go for red.

Wrap the dough back up and place it back in the fridge for another 30 minutes

Preheat the oven to 160°c (fan)/180°c then take the dough out of the fridge and cut into rounds about 4mm thick. Place on a lined baking tray.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until they are only just beginning to turn golden brown. Just be careful, due to the sugar content of the biscuit they can go from uncooked to burnt in a very short time

Once the biscuits have baked transfer to wire rack and leave to cool completely. They are still really quite soft at this stage but they harden on cooling. Some of the hundreds and thousands lost their colour a bit and the biscuits aren't as vibrant as the original American recipe (I say they've been photoshopped) but they do look quite nice in my opinion (better in real life than on the photos)

    Thursday, 21 November 2013

    Muffins but the savoury kind

    I've been meaning to have a go at English Muffins since I saw them as the technical challenge on GBBO and finally got around to making them. I decided to therefore use the GBBO recipe which is as follows:

    300g strong white bread flour
    6g fast-action yeast
    6g salt
    15g caster sugar 
    15g softened butter, cut into small pieces
    1 medium free-range egg
    170ml milk 
    Semolina plus extra for dusting

    Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl. The recipe states you should knead by hand but I decided to go with the dough hook as I knew it was a wet dough. 

    Sprinkle the yeast on one side of the flour and the salt into the other side of the flour. Add the sugar, butter, egg and milk, then mix all the ingredients together to form a soft dough then let the hook knead for 10 minutes, or until soft, smooth and stretchy. The dough was fair too wet for my liking so I did what you're not supposed to do and added a bit more flour.

    Lightly grease a large bowl with oil. Place the dough in the oiled bowl, cover and leave to prove for about one hour, or until doubled in size. By this point mine had hardly risen. No idea what I'd done so maybe actually do do them by hand!

    Dust the work surface with a mixture of the semolina and flour. Tip the dough out onto the work surface and roll out to about 2.5cm thick.

    Lightly dust two baking trays with half of the semolina

    Using a 9cm straight-sided cutter, cut out eight muffins. I didn't measure my cutter, just used what I thought looked right. 

    Place four muffins, evenly spaced apart on each of the dusted baking trays. Dust the remaining semolina or polenta over the top of the muffins and leave to prove for another 30 minutes. They did change a little bit by this point.

    Now......the recipe then goes like this:
    Preheat a hot plate or a heavy-based frying pan on the hob to a very low heat. Griddle the muffins for approximately 5-6 minutes, then flip over and griddle for another 5-6 minutes on the other side.

    I have a hot plate but could only fit two on so did two in a frying pan too. I only had 4 muffins out of my dough because it just didn't rise. You're supposed to get 8. After 6 minutes each side they still felt doughy in the middle so I popped them into the oven to bake a bit. 

    Ideally you're supposed to leave them to cool then slice and toast but we ate ours straight away with butter, bacon and poached eggs. They were nice and turned out ok. I would hope to get the requisite number out of the dough next time, maybe make them a tad smaller and roll the dough a bit thinner as I think they were too thick. So not a total fail. Just a small one maybe.

    I certainly wouldn't have done well in that technical bake off!

    Mine's on the left. Shop bought on the right 

    Wednesday, 6 November 2013


    Having only ever eaten one whoopie pie in my life and being really behind the times, when thinking what to bake for Bonfire, for some random reason I decided to try a whoopie pie for the first time. They're so last year (or two or three) darling but hey ho!

    But what is a whoopie pie some may be asking? Well it's half cake, half cookie, so not hard but not soft like a bun. The name whoopie pie comes from years back when Amish farmers would find the treats in their lunch and would shout "Whoopie".

    November to me is Parkin month. I wanted to try and find a recipe that combined Parkin with the whoopie pie but they don't exist online and I left it too late to come up with my own recipe. One flavour of Parkin though is ginger so I thought Gingerbread whoopie pies might be nice. I settled on an American recipe as a lot of recipes contain buttermilk and I'd already been shopping so ideally wanted a store cupboard recipe. And this one was. I noticed though it was in the dreaded cups which I thought might be ok but the flour was measured in ounces. Eek. Stress! But the website had an easy conversion button on it and voila. One press and all my dreams came true.

    Here we go:
    280g plain flour
    100g caster sugar
    120g dark muscovado sugar
    2 1/2 tsp ginger
    1 1/4 tsp baking powder (recipe said baking soda-no idea if that's baking powder or bicarbonate of soda so I plumped for baking powder)
    1 tsp cinnamon
    3/4 tsp salt 
    80ml vegetable oil
    1 egg
    80ml boiling water 

    Preheat the oven to 180c fan

    Line baking sheets with grease proof paper.

    Combine the flour, white sugar, muscovado, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. Mix in the vegetable oil and egg until combined. Pour in the boiling water and whisk until smooth. It makes a very thick sticky batter.

    Drop in spoonfuls (huh?) onto the baking sheets. I had no idea how big they were supposed to be so just guessed.

    See how thick and gloopy they look? I was getting a bit nervous by this point.

    Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes and allow to cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

    For the filling I decided to just make a spiced buttercream. I have no idea of quantities as I generally make my buttercream from taste, mixing icing sugar with butter. I added a tsp of ginger and a tsp of cinnamon then some orange food colouring as I wanted it to be orange for some random reason.

    So here we are. My mahoosive gingerbread whoopie pies.

    But I wasn't done. I had a bit of filling leftover and just got some gorgeous mini teeny weeny sparkly gingerbread men from Sainsbos so decided to put a swirl of filling on top and top with three gingerbread men. How very festive of me!

    No idea if everyone else liked them but I liked mine and looking forward to making a chocolate version. I'm thinking chocolate and cherry or chocolate and orange. Any takers!