Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Flat bread with Roses and Chocolate

The We should Cocoa Challenge this month is pairing Chocolate with Roses.

I decided to make flat breads, which are very quick to make as, with no yeast, they don't require a rise.  I saw an amazing savoury flat bread recipe by Smitten Kitchen, and thought it would be cool to make a sweet version with dried roses and a  touch of rose water

I found a really cool tub of beetroot powder on my travels and I thought this would give the bread an earthy texture and a great natural pink colouring

I decided to pair the roses with dark chocolate buttons courtesy of Hotel Chocolat.  They are a bit of a pain when rolling out the dough, but well worth it once cooked.

I normally dry fry flat breads but I thought cooking these in the oven would make more sense as there is chocolate involved - we all know what happens when chocolate meets a direct heat source  - the worst burning smell ever, not as bad as chocolate burning in the microwave but pretty close.

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen's flatbread recipe, admittedly they are completely different, but I needed it for the flour, oil and water quantities..must try her honey and thyme one - looks really yum!)
Flat bread
240 grams flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 (4 fl Oz) cup water
2 tsp dried roses
A few drops of rosewater
1/3  2 1/2 fl oz cup sunflower oil
2 tbsp sugar
50 grams good quality chocolate buttons

Preheat the oven to 200oC.  Sift the flour, and baking powder.  Add the sugar and the rest the ingredients.

Separate into four pieces and roll until very thin.  I cut the dough into circle shapes, but this isn't essential.  I just fancied having circle shaped ones.

Place the dough onto a baking sheet and heat for approx 5-10 minutes.  We want these to be fairly crispy but definitely not cremated!

Place on a rack an allow to cool.

A very quick but yummy snack!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Apricot Pull Apart Bread

This is an extremely late post for the July "We Should Cocoa Challenge".  I can't believe I have not posted for two months! 

This recipe is an homage to one of my favourite bloggers, Joy the Baker, who inspired me to create my own blog with her creative recipes and her storytelling.  I was at home recuperating from an illness for a couple of weeks, spending the majority of my time surfing around the net, looking for recipes to make when I was better when I stumbled across Joy's site.  I was inspired by her cooking style and, when I was better, I started to get creative and broaden my cooking horizons.  I was particularly intrigued by her Cinnamon Sugar Pull apart bread recipe, which had layers of yeasty, buttery bread, spread with cinnamon, sugar and browned butter. 

I made one batch, sticking to the recipe, then a Parmesan version, which was one of my first blog posts. Now I have made one with dried apricots.  Be warned, this is very high in calories and very sticky.  But if you are OK with these two things, read on.

(Adapted from Joy the Baker's Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread)


350 grams (2 3/4 cups) and 5 tablespoons bread flour
50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) dried yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
50 grams butter
3 fluid oz (1/3 cup) milk 8.45
2 fluid oz (1/4 cup) water
2 large eggs
100 grams dried apricots

200 grams (1 cup) sugar)
100 grams dried apricots
50 grams butter

Icing sugar

Heat the milk until warm, then add two tablespoons of the sugar and the yeast.  Set aside until it becomes foamy.

Pulse the apricots, set half aside, then add the remaining sugar, butter and the eggs to the processor and pulse again.

Sift the flour, create a well in the middle and pour the yeast mixture and the water in, then the apricot mixture.  This will be too sticky to hand knead at the moment, so mix thoroughly with a spoon.  Allow to rise for at least an hour.

Now time to add the extra flour - I'll be honest, this is a judgement call; you don't want to add too much so the flour, butter, egg ratio is out, but it cannot be too sticky to roll.  I used an extra 5 tablespoons, you may need more or less.

For the filling, brown the butter, (heat butter until it foams), allow to cool, then mix with the sugar and remaining apricot mixture.

Now time to roll the dough.  Roll into a rectangle (approx 1cm thick) then spread the filling on top

Slice into four pieces length ways then stack on top of each other.  Then slice into six pieces, flip onto the cut side up and place in a loaf tin as below.

Place in the oven for about 30 mins at 200oC and place on a colling rack.

When cooled, dust icing sugar and chocolate shavings on top. 

Great with a cup of coffee!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Beignets with an Oreo centre

Another Oreo recipe; one more and I might have to change the name of my blog to Daydream about Oreos.

Whilst reading one of my favourite blogs, Adventures of a Foodie, I noticed a reference to Oreo filled beignets....Oreo filled what?  Time to ask Mr Google...ah, they are French for fritter, similar to doughnuts and none of the recipes are on UK sites so I need to use the converter and my flippin calculator.  These had better taste good!

I have a confession - I'm a tiny bit averse to deep frying.  Not sure why because I've cooked sugar based things to very high temperatures without panicking, but deep frying makes me think of the old fire safety adverts and a particularly scary episode of Spooks, (don't ask me to elaborate...if you are a fan of the show you will know exactly which one I'm talking about!)

Anyway, enough about my phobias, this is a food blog not a group therapy session...So, to cut a long story short, I needed a baked beignet recipe, which the nice people at Good Housekeeping provided, albeit with cup measurements and a strange cup to gram converter which promised me the world and failed miserably.  Fortunately, I had the foresight a month ago to include a conversion chart on my blog...check it out, it's not as cool as a fancy calculator but coding charts is not my strong point.

I wondered whether an Oreo centre would work if if was baked; would it go all weird or would it take the beignet to cake heaven?  I decided to spread an Oreo and cream cheese mix above and below a whole Oreo to  ensure a slight moistness, which I feared may be lost if there was just beignet and Oreo.

The combination worked really well.  My partner,the fussiest eater in the world and a doughnut purist, was stuffing his face with them.  
(Adapted from  Good Housekeeping)

1/4 cup (2 fl Oz) warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
3 cups (380g) bread flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar

50g butter (cold)

1 egg
3/4 cup (3 fl Oz) buttermilk (or milk with a squeeze of lemon juice)
1 pack Oreos
100g cream cheese
50g sugar

Icing sugar

Place the yeast and a teaspoon of the sugar into the warm water.  Leave to stand for five minutes

Sift the flour, bicarb, baking soda and remaining sugar into a bowl.  Cut the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour mixture until it resembles crumbs.

Beat the egg and place this and the buttermilk into the yeast, which should now be frothy.

Make a well in the flour and butter mixture and pour the yeast in.  Knead for a couple of minutes, cover, then allow to prove for five minutes.

Take 8 biscuits out of the packet then crush the rest of them and mix with the cream cheese and sugar

Knead the mixture again, separate into two pieces then roll out until about 5cm thick. 

Cut into four pieces, spread about a teaspoon of the Oreo and cream cheese mixture on each one.

place an Oreo on top.  Spread another teaspoon of the mixture on top.

Dab a little water around the edges of the dough then fold in like an envelope.  Place on a greased baking tray and allow to prove for an extra ten minutes

Bake for approx 15 minutes (check after ten - test the bottom of the beignet; if it sounds hollow when you tap it, all is good)

Place on a rack and sift icing sugar on top.  The inside looks like this:

This is the first time I have made this type of dough and, believe me, it's incredibly easy to make; the dough is easy to work with and the bicarb and baking powder combined with the yeast mean a much quicker proving time.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Strawberry Cake Balls With Popping Candy

I learned that the secret ingredient for this month's We Should Cocoa challenge was strawberries so I started doing some blog surfing for inspiration. 
My original concept was to make the most strawberry cake in the world ever, packed with as many strawberries as humanly possible.  I remembered a great post from Smitten kitchen with a cake containing more whole strawberries than cake batter and cooked for an hour so the strawberries became almost jammy and the top was dusted with sugar so it was all nice and crispy.  This recipe is the yummiest ever - I have cooked it a couple of times already.

But I wanted a strawberry colour throughout the whole cake, partially for the visual effect but also to get an even flavour.  I typed in "strawberry cake recipes", then hit images and found a load of deep pink cakes.  I started clicking on some of the images and found most of the recipes contained cake mix (huh!!!) and gelatin (really?!!!?!!?).

One of the images, however, intrigued me; a cake ball, coated in chocolate - hm....I have clearly lead an extremely sheltered life, protecting me from such devilishly intriguing creations.  But now I know.

You may recall my previous blog, cataloging my emergency salvaging of a chocolate cake, involving mashing and gluing (with chocolate, of course, not actual glue), then reforming into a cake mixture.  But to mash a cake with a fairly moist glue, roll into a ball then coat in chocolate - oh I think it needs to be made.

My mind was now racing - I wanted to make my own cake from scratch, minus the mix and gelatin (seriously..gelatin?).  I liked the idea of using cream cheese, then decided to mix with sugar and pulsed strawberries.  What I didn't know at this point was the exact quantities of cake glue to cake crumb - I wanted a moist cake ball but not too moist.  I also wasn't quite sure about the amount of icing sugar to add to the glue  - I didn't want the balls to be sickly sweet.  The glue quantities would need to be tested.  I also wanted to dehydrate the strawberries because I didn't want the water content in the strawberries to dilute the cake or the glue mixture.

Then I had a brainwave (I get them sometimes - it's very exciting).  How about if I added popping candy to the balls for a fizzy, crackly effect - almost like the fizzyness from champagne. Obviously this is not going to be as fizzy as if you're putting the candy straight in your mouth but surely there would be a slight fizz...

So the concept was created.  Now for the testing.  I purchased the strawberries; I located (eventually) the space candy; I set aside a clear, uninterrupted day and started to experiment.  Here are the finished results............ 

Inspired by Bakerella's Red Velvet Cake Balls)

200G Strawberries dehydrated

Strawberry cake:
112g plain flour
112g butter
112g sugar
half dehydrated strawberries
50g walnuts
2 eggs
"cake glue":
pack cream cheese
4 tbsp sugar
Half of the dehydrated strawberries
50g walnuts
20g white chocolate
2 packs popping candy
Cake ball topping:
350g 70%cocoa dark chocolate

The first step is to dehydrate the strawberries (or buy ready made).  heat the oven to 150oC and place the strawberries in the oven.  Turn the heat down to 100oC and leave for an hour.  Turn the oven off and leave for another hour. 

Preheat the oven to 180oC.  Pulse the softened butter and sugar with the walnuts.  Add the eggs (one at a time), half of the strawberries then the sifted flour, (if like me you want a guaranteed pink colour, add a tiny amount of red food colouring.  Pour the batter into a lined (or silicone) tin then cook for approx 20 mins (or until the skewer is fairly clean - slightly under cooking is not really a problem here as the cake is going to be mashed beyond all recognition!)

Allow the cake to cool, then pulse until it resembles crumbs. 

Add the cream cheese, walnuts, sugar, popping candy and the rest of the strawberries.  Place into the fridge for about half an hour

roll the mix into into balls and pace onto a lined baking sheet.  Place in the freezer for half an hour, (this step is important because the melted chocolate will set quickly. 

Melt the chocolate, then dip the balls into the chocolate and place back on the baking sheet.  You will notice that the chocolate sets fairly quickly once dipped.

Place in the fridge to harden then transfer to a container or a fancy jar. 

Pass them round at a dinner party, wrap them up in a fancy box for your loved one..or eat them all yourself.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Blueberry Fizz Ice Lollies

I have just had a wonderful day filled with watching X Men First Class, eating a healthy fast food lunch at Leon's and a less healthy afternoon tea at Krispy Creme.  Check these bad boys out...
I didn't actually eat these all in one sitting...couldn't manage more than two.

I was also on the hunt for some of these.......
They pop in your mouth and are like flippin gold dust - you can only get them in sweet shops and I needed them for a recipe I'm trying out tomorrow.

I thought I'd give them a test run in a simple recipe to check out what happens to them once immersed in liquid.  Loads of possibilities were racing around my head when I came across a cookware shop selling the coolest Ice Lolly moulds.  Knowing that I had frozen blueberries and yoghurt at home, it was an easy decision.

To my relief, the popping candy did make the lollies fizzy (not as fizzy as when you eat it straight out of the packet, but fizzy enough). 

Ingredients (this can all be varied according to taste)
200 grams frozen blueberries
100 grams sugar
200 ml yoghurt
1 packet popping candy

This is embarrassingly simple:  Pulse the frozen blueberries:

Add the sugar and pulse again...

Add the popping candy and yoghurt and, you guessed it, pulse again (what the hell would I do without the food processor!)

Pour into lolly moulds (maybe using these cool ones with eyes and a mouth (I've got kids, it's allowed!)

Freeze for at least a couple of hours.

Next popping candy related post to follow tomorrow (hopefully!)

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Cake Damage Control: Chocolate Fridge Cake

I was cooking like a crazy person this morning and thought I would wing it on the timings of my chocolate cake...above is the result!  Let's just say whilst I wanted the inside slightly undercooked, I wasn't expecting a molten centre.

It was a yummy chocolate cake; It still tasted amazing.  I had to think on my feet quickly to save the cake....
I looked around  my kitchen for inspiration: loads of Lindt Chilli Chocolate, Jaffa Cakes and yoghurt coated cereal bars...fridge cake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fridge cake is basically a biscuit or cake base held together with melted chocolate, then left to set in the fridge.  If I had any dried fruit or nuts lying around, these would have gone in too, but sadly I didn't

This is a very simple recipe.  You need a cake, about 2 bars of chocolate and any other cake friendly ingredient.  Mash the cake until it resembles crumbs

melt the chocolate, add a small amount of alcohol, pour into the mixture.  Add the extra ingredients.

put in a lined baking tray or silicone tray.  Press down firmly and refrigerate.

Any cake or use recipe below:
Chocolate Cake:
165g flour
40g cocoa powder
20g ground almonds
225g butter
225g sugar
4 eggs
50g chocolate
200g chocolate
2 tbsp ground almonds
handful biscuits (I used Jaffa cakes and yogurt coated biscuits)
Small amount of whiskey

If using chocolate cake recipe above, preheat the oven to 180oC.  Sift the flour, cocoa and ground almonds.  Melt the butter and the chocolate and mix with the eggs.  Add this to the flour and cocoa and pour into a lined cake tin, or silicone tin and cook for approx half an hour or until slightly wobbly on top, (if you are just making the chocolate cake and not turning it into a fridge cake, do the skewer test and if you want to slightly under cook it, leave in the tin until completely cooled).

For the fridge cake, let the cake cool slightly, then place into a bowl and mash up.  Add the crushed up biscuits and anything else you fancy.  Melt the chocolate, add some whiskey, pour onto the cake mixture and mix well. 

Put back into the cake tin and press down well. Place in the fridge.

Remember, any cake can be saved by using chocolate as glue

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Shaved Asparagus and Pea Pesto Pizza - finally with the pictures

Another post with green food...entirely coincidental I assure you. 
Now I have started blogging my creations I constantly have my trusty iPhone to hand to snap every process but on this occasion, I wasn't entirely convinced that it would work so no photos were taken. Doh!

But I am so exited about this recipe that I'm blogging the ingredients and method now and will update with pictures during the week when I make another batch.  It's going against my need to have pictures accompanying the post but I can't wait to share the cool recipe!
I have been wanting to put shaved asparagus on a pizza since seeing a really cool recipe on Smitten Kitchen.  It looked so fresh, which is not normally something you would associate with your standard cheesy, meaty pizza.

I wanted to use a pesto of sorts for the base and thought about using peas in it for a touch of sweetness.  OK, it's not technically pesto as there are no nuts, but we have parmesan and olive oil  - can I still call it a pesto?   

I decided to do a dummy run to test the combinations and invited my family round for pizza tasting.  My sister was concerned with the choice of base, "Peas.....really?.....OK..."  I had second thoughts and decided to hedge my bets, making a second pizza with mozzarella and pepperoni.

I should have stuck solely to my green pizza vision because it went quicker than the mega cheesy one.

I've linked to my previous post for the dough recipe with a slight alteration to the cooking method; I'm still all about pulling the pizza to get it really thin but now I have learnt that griddling the base first in a heavy saucepan makes the base just as crispy as putting direct on the oven shelf; the added bonus being that you can make ahead of time and then place it on a normal baking sheet.

Inspired by Smitten Kitchen Asparagus Pizza
Pizza Dough (link here for my pizza dough recipe)
frozen peas (I used about 100g)
Parmesan  - as much or as little as you like
Bunch Asparagus
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 220oC

Separate the proven dough into four pieces. Prise each piece apart until it forms a round approx the size of your griddle pan.  Heat the pan until screaming hot then carefully drop the dough in.  Wait for a couple of mins and gently lift one of the sides with a spatula to see it there are grill marks.  If so, flip over and briefly heat on the other side for a minute  - we don't want this side crispy yet.  Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

Flash cook the peas in a pan and pulse with some parmesan shavings, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Allow to cool.

Hold the asparagus from the base and peel long strips with a vegetable peeler.  Toss with salt pepper and olive oil.

Spread the pea pesto on the base and place the asparagus on top.

Shave some parmesan on top and place in a very hot oven (220oC) for approx 10 minutes

Eat with a crisp salad and feel the love for a healthy pizza.