25 September 2013

Cardamom, Honey and Pistachio Chelsea Buns

I love making bread and sweet doughs. 
These kind of enriched doughs flavoured with spices, rich butter and filled with dried fruits or nuts are so rewarding to make and fill the kitchen with an absolutely delicious smell!
Iced buns were always a favourite of mine as a child. 



However, recreating these sorts of doughs at home can prove to be fairly difficult- using the correct raising agents, kneading and proving the dough to achieve a soft and fluffy texture and then baking it to golden perfection!




At home, kneading was never my strong point - weak arm muscles meant a long kneading time and I could never achieve the silky smooth texture I was aiming for. 
Luckily at uni, I've been graced with the temporary use of my friend's mixer and dough hook- when time is an issue, that makes a big difference!
These chelsea buns are light in texture and flavoured with a warming cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon mix and then topped with a sweet honey glaze and crunchy pistachio nuts. 





These's a nordic bakery very close to my lecture buildings that I often escape to for a coffee in between tutorials. It's full of endless varieties of cardamom spiced breads and doughs with such interesting flavours. 

This recipe takes a little time but is definitely worth it!

Adapted from: http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/cardamom-scented-chelsea-buns

Ingredients:

50g unsalted butter
450g strong white bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1tsp crushed cardamom seeds
25g golden caster sugar
1 medium egg
225ml warm milk

For the filling:

50g butter
1tsp roughly crushed cardamom seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
50g soft light brown sugar
50g sultanas
50g currants

2tbsp clear honey
2tbsp roughly chopped shelled pistachios

Method:

Grease a deep 23cm cake tin. I used a circular tin to give the buns a rounded edge but you could also use a square 23cm tin. 

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the unsalted butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. 

Stir in the yeast. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg. Add this to the dry ingredients along with the warm milk. Mix to form a soft dough and then knead on a lightly floured surface for about 15 minutes until the dough is smooth, soft and elastic. I used a dough hook and mixer to knead my dough on a medium speed for about 8-10 minutes. 

Put the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for about 1-2 hours until doubled in size. 





Once risen remove the cling film, and 'punch' the dough back down to 'knock back.'
Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and roll it into a rectangle shape about 25cm by 35cm. 

Make the filling by mixing the butter, cinnamon and cardamom together to form a paste. In a separate bowl mix the soft brown sugar and dried fruit together. Using a palette knife, spread the spiced butter over the entire surface of the dough and then sprinkle over the sugar and fruit mixture. 

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/ 180 fan. 

Roll the rectangle up like a swiss roll- make sure to roll it quite tightly and evenly. Then using a sharp knife cut the roll into 8 equal pieces/rounds.  Arrange these rounds in the tin, cut side down and then cover with lightly greased cling film and leave to rise again in a warm place for about 45 minutes. 



Once risen, remove the cling film and bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with some runny honey and then sprinkle over some crushed pistachios. 

Cool in the tin for about 5-10 minutes and then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack. 

They're best pulled apart and eaten still slightly warm!





A great baking challenge and perfect if you're practising your skills for this week's theme on the Great British Bake Off!




21 September 2013

Roasted Plum and Almond Skillet Cake

Waking up on a Saturday morning and knowing you've got all day to do all the things you've wanted to do all week is a great feeling- I'm planning on a stroll into all the little boutique shops that line the streets of Edinburgh and a walk through the beautiful Queen Street gardens- I will pop up a few photos for you to see just how stunning the city is at this time of the year.  


There's something so satisfying about the smell of baking first thing in the morning and accompanied by strong coffee its the best way to set you up for the day. 
This recipe is adapted from Joy the baker, a great baking blog, and is fuss-free. As Joy says it's the kind of cake you can knock up without even thinking about it. 
The glut of plums at this time of the year are calling out to be made into delicious pies and the roasted plums in this cake give it a great tartness that contrast the fluffy cinnamon cake batter and sweet caramelised topping. 

Ingredients: (to make 4 small servings) 

150g gluten-free self-raising flour
25g ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
1/4tsp salt
1/4tsp ground cinnamon
60g caster sugar
1 egg
185ml buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla
40g unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 fresh plums
Granulated sugar for topping

Double cream to serve

Method:

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Grease a 6 inch skillet pan and place a baking tray in the oven to warm up. 

In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking power, salt, cinnamon and sugar.  

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, vanilla and melted butter. 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until just combined. Spoon the batter into the greased pan. 

Cut the plums in half and remove the stones. Slice the plums into  quite thick slices and then press the plum slices into the batter. Sprinkle over some extra ground almonds and 1tbsp granulated sugar. 

Bake the pan in the centre of the oven on the baking tray for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown, caramelised and springy to the touch. The plums should still be holding their shape.

Serve the cake warm with a splash of double cream. 
Utter bliss.  









A few photos of my stroll around the city yesterday- everywhere you turn the city looks stunning and has many hidden beautiful gems and grand, elegant architecture.
These mews houses are a firm favourite of mine- they look like they'd be so cosy inside!








The view from my bedroom window!







20 September 2013

Tropical Celebration Cake



Before I went back up to Edinburgh I took the opportunity to celebrate my birthday with some good friends of mine at one of my favourite venues, Castle Cottage. 
I posted about this lovely little place here a while back but in the summer this place becomes a great venue for lunch, afternoon tea or even a few drinks in the evening. 
I managed to book out the garden for an evening of some good sharing food and drinks to toast my birthday. 

It is a beautifully decorated garden with bunting, vintage ornaments and rows of fairy lights and blankets for the cooler summer evenings. 
I also brought along this tropical celebration cake-just to make that glimmer of summer sun seem to last a little longer!

Due to all the fruit in the cake, it makes a great gluten free cake that is very moist and light. 

To make your own showstopper celebration cake:

Ingredients:

150ml sunflower or vegetable oil
300g gluten-free self raising flour
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp baking powder
300g caster sugar
50g desiccated coconut
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
2 ripe bananas
140g carrots
432g crushed pineapple tin
100ml milk

4 ripe passion fruits
25g caster sugar
200g philadelphia cheese
100g soft unsalted butter
150g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1tbsp milk

Adapted from: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1104647/passion-cake

Method:

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, half the sugar and the coconut. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C fan. Line 3 standard size baking tins with baking paper. 



In another bowl, beat the whole eggs and then add in the bananas once mashed. Grate the carrots and add this to the bowl along with the sunflower oil and milk. Drain the crushed pineapple, reserving the juice and add the pineapple pieces to the wet ingredients. 


Next, stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until smooth and thoroughly combined. 
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until stiff. Then gradually add the remaining sugar until stiff and shiny. 

Next, fold this egg white mixture into the cake batter using a large metal spoon or spatula- retaining as much air in the mixture as possible. 

Once fully combined, divide the mixture evenly between the three tins. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch. You will need to rotate the cakes between shelves to make sure they bake evenly-however do not open the oven door within the first 15 minutes of baking as this may cause the cakes to collapse. Once baked, cool the cakes on a wire cooling rack.


To make the passionfruit syrup, scoop out the passionfruit pulp into a small pan and add the reserved pineapple juice and the 25g caster sugar. 
Heat on a medium heat until bubbling. Leave to bubble until it turns syrupy. 


Whilst the cake are cooling, prick them all over with a fork and then drizzle over some of the passionfruit syrup. 


Meanwhile make the frosting by whisking together the cream cheese, milk, butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract. 

Once the cakes are completely cool, use a knife to spread a neat layer of frosting over two thirds of the cake and then sandwich the layers together. 

Using a palette knife, swirl a thicker layer of frosting on top of the third layer of cake and then drizzle over the remaining passionfruit syrup- letting it run down the sides of the cake too!

Serve that day- though I don't think it will last any longer than that! 


I also managed to snap these photos of Eddie that I just had to share with you- he's taken up the habit of relaxing on his sun lounger in the garden!




Our scrummy sharing boards of antipasti

The beautiful candlelight garden





It was a lovely way to celebrate a birthday and have everyone together before we all went our separate ways back up to uni!

12 September 2013

Creeping into Autumn

The last few days have been very hectic. 
I've made my way back up to Edinburgh and this year I'm lucky enough to be moving into a beautiful flat right in the centre of the city. 
I'm still getting over the view from my bedroom window! 
I can't wait to be reunited with a kitchen this year whilst at uni and work on loads of ideas I've had over the summer. 
The drive up to Edinburgh got colder and greyer the more north we went and it has suddenly started to feel very autumnal. 
This means a drift away from the gorgeous summer vine tomatoes and fresh English strawberries to dishes with a bit more spice, warmth and comfort. 
Having bought a beautiful ladle made from Sri Lankan wood and a serving bowl - which I found in a home ware shop I discovered in Amsterdam- Sissy Boy, (I'm now addicted) I finally came round to attempting an autumnal ramen dish. 
This is packed full of flavour and spice and great contrasting textures: sticky soya glazed chicken along with crunchy pak choi and lemongrass infused rice noodles. 

It's the perfect whip-up quickly and sit snuggled away from the rain kind of dish! 




Chicken, prawn and vegetable ramen
Ingredients: (serves 2)

1 chicken breast with skin removed
1/2 egg, beaten
1tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper

1/4 large chilli, deseeded
1 garlic clove
100g sugar snap peas
100g beansprouts
2tbsp olive oil
10g rice noodles
1 large bulb of pak choi
175g cooked prawns

2 spring onions
1tbsp sesame seeds

2tbsp olive oil
1 litre chicken stock
1tsp caster sugar
1tbsp light soya sauce

Method:

Put a large deep frying pan on a medium heat and add the olive oil. 



Once the oil is hot, add the chopped chilli and crushed garlic. 
Fry the chilli and garlic until it just starts to colour and then add the beansprouts and sugar snap peas. 
Fry on a medium heat for about 5-8 minutes.

 


Meanwhile heat the chicken stock in a saucepan at a simmer. Chop the lemongrass stick in half and add it to the stock to infuse. 

In a separate saucepan, boil the rice noodles for 3 minutes and then drain. 

Once the vegetables are tender, remove them from the pan and divide between two bowls along with the prawns. 

Cut the chicken breast into slices. Coat them in the beaten egg and then the plain flour and a little salt and pepper. 
Add the chicken to the same frying pan along with the sugar and soya sauce. 


Fry the chicken for about 2-3 minutes on each side until cooked through and golden- it should have a slight caramelisation and become deliciously sticky. 

Add the rice noodles to the bowls. Drain the chicken stock to remove the lemongrass and then pour the stock into the bowls till about half full. Arrange the fried chicken on top and then finish with some chopped spring onion and scattered sesame seeds. 

A really warming, tasty dish to slowly ease you into those cosy autumn nights.