Sunday 27 March 2011

Baked New Fronteirs in Baking

Peanut Butter Crispie bars

I had pre-ordered this baking book in 2008. I reckon that in Jan 2009 I must have tidied it into the baking pile of books, and then forgot about it. I was having a book trawl online and found the sequel volume from this bakery and went and dug out the first one from my pile (it is a pile having long overflowed the shelves).

I can hardly believe I put this book away without giving it a fair trial - my loss I tell you!

It's a fabulous book, I really love it. Baked New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito published by Stewart, Tabori and Chang in 2008 . This is a bakery cookbook, as the authors have a bakery "Baked" in Brooklyn, New York. It's done in a very masculine way, brown, orange and white being the main colours used, though they do have a very handsome stag motif too. The layout is good, decent introductions to recipes and also a "Baked Note" with hints and tips for recipes. There are also a number of eat-me-now pictures, but not one for every single recipe by any means. Chapters are *A Field Guide to Baking* Breakfast* Cakes and Cupcakes* Pies and Tarts* Brownies and Bars* Cookies* Chocolate Candies and Confections* and finally *Drinks*.

My first three makes were The Baked Brownie, Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce and Peanut Butter Crispy Bars.

Baked Brownies

These were truly faultless. Dense, fudgy, moist, rich, dark and just screaming CHOCOLATE!!

Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce

You do need to be comfortable making sugar caramel, but I loved this quite compulsive sauce. It uses light corn syrup, but golden syrup could be substituted.

Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

These would normally be no-cook kind of bars. They are too excepting that you need to make a sugar caramel, add a little butter and toss the rice crispies in it to give a really crispy rice crispie layer. They stayed crispy for as long as mine lasted too, even in the fridge. Another success, crispy, creamy and balanced by a dark chocolate topping.

I'm looking forward to cooking more from this book and the next volume, but more on this another time. Some of the recipes on my to make list of 25 (!) are: Brewer's Blondies, Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chunks, Maple Walnut Scones (I've ordered extract from the US), Butterscotch Pudding Tarts and the recipe featured on the cover of the book Lemon-Almond Meringue Tarts.

Matt and Renato have very sure baking hands and excellent palates, all three of the recipes I tried I loved, and would make again. Now what to make next...

Next Up: Audrey Gordon's Tuscan Summer - review, interview and a copy to giveaway.

Sunday 20 March 2011

Chocolate Cream Pound Cake - Cake Slice Bakers March 2011

This months bake is an easy cake from Lauren Chattman’s Cake Keeper Cakes. Chocolate Cream Pound Cake from the Loaf Cakes chapter.

A simple plain loaf cake. Plain only because it is unadorned – the taste is great! I’ve tried a lot of different chocolate cakes and this is a good one. The cream in the title refers to some double (heavy) cream added to the batter, which gives the cake a tight, tender and moist crumb.

Adding cream to a cake like this was something that dairy farming families did to use up extra cream in days gone by.It was delicious served for pudding warmed with some butterscotch sauce, think sticky toffee pudding but with chocolate cake.

It didn’t really need to be gussied up though – it was perfect spread with a little butter. I’ll be making this one again for sure.

Do click here to see some other cake slice bakers cakes.

Next up: Baked New Frontiers in Baking

Thursday 10 March 2011

Baking Made Easy

I Can't Believe You Made That Cake
I had pre-ordered this book, as you know me I have a bit of a liking for baking books! Baking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascal published by Harper Collins 2011. It accompanies a TV series shown first on BBC2 here, and she is worth watching. She is a former model and now runs Ella’s Bakery in London. Lorraine is very enthusiastic and conveys how to do things in an easy and laid back way.

She has her feet firmly planted in classic baking, but she is also creative and adds modern touches here and there. The recipes all have a little introduction to set the scene. The layout is white and clean, good photography too. There isn’t a picture to go with every single recipe. I must tell you that the recipes are not all sweet either, there are lots of sweet recipes, but there are also many savoury ones.

Chapters are: * Breads * Cakes* Savoury Baking* Desserts and Patisserie* Dinner Party* Sweet Treats* and *Basics. The recipes from the series are in the book, which is good, as last year I was annoyed when a tie in cookbook didn’t have the recipes I bought the book for (but that’s another story…).

It’s a good book, and I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve made so far. Next on the to make list are Mini Tiramisu (cupcakes) and they look very good indeed I can tell you (!) and also her Big Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

A little taster of recipes are: Victoria Sandwich, Stout and Stilton Bread Rolls, Pear Tart Tatin, Pork Pies with Cider, Gluten Free Irish Cream Coffee Cake, Mojito Genoise, Sun Dried Tomato and Rosemary Palmiers, Banana Loaf with Rum and Pecans and the only non baked recipe White Chocolate and Amaretti Cheesecake.
Here are my first makes:

I Can’t Believe You Made That Chocolate Cake
I sourced the cigarillos online, and I have to tell you they are not for everyday, as they are pricey, I was £18 (including P&P) for the amount I needed for the cake. Lorraine says you could use Cadbury Flakes too which would be another option. Though, even if you didn’t bother with the chocolate curl collar, this cake would still be good and worth making with just the cake, icing and raspberries on top. A great little chocolate cake recipe, moist and delicious. Recipe here.

Pumpkin and Rosemary Muffins
I made these to go with soup, and I just put them in cupcake cases which they stuck too! This is not what was suggested, and is my own fault. Pretty muffins, and a sweet- savoury pull from the honey, pumpkin and rosemary. Recipe here.

Hubby is the main flapjack muncher in our house and he liked them a lot, there is a little bit of ginger and lemon zest in them which adds a little depth of flavour without overtaking the actual flapjack. Recipe here.

Quick Chicken with Lemon Thyme and Butternut Squash
Quick, easy, and good. The gravy was really very delicious.
This is the only recipe for macaroons that I have made where you have not been instructed to blitz the sugar and ground almonds in a processor. I think the cooked shells looked a little rough because of this, but the flavour was good. I coloured mine dusky pink (and the colour came out ok!) and sandwiched them together with strawberry jam and whipped cream. Mmm. Recipe here.
Next Up: Cake Slice Bakers
Next Review: Baked New Frontiers in Baking

Thursday 3 March 2011

Hairy Bikers’ Best-Loved Recipes Mum’s Still Know Best

Grandma Sindy's Ginger Snacking Sponge
It was with much excitement that I took delivery of my pre-ordered new cookbook. The Hairy Bikers’ Best –Loved Recipes Mum’s Still Know best! by Si King and Dave Myers. I enjoyed the first series and cookbook a lot, and hoped this one would be one to love too.
This second book is done in much the same style and layout as the first. Mixture of recipes from Mums up and down the country, plus others from Si and Dave. Recipes from home and also further afield. Nice introductions to the recipes, to set the scene. Almost every recipe is illustrated with a picture too. There is a good mixture of stapes recipes, like spaghetti bolgonese, steamed sponge pudding, macaroni cheese mixed with others that are a little different.
I was hoping for more biscuit recipes, as my very favourite recipe from the first book was Mrs Miller’s Empire Biscuits. I was looking for another fabulous biscuit in this one, and my only criticism of this new book is that although there are numerous cakes, I would have liked to have seen more biscuits.
Chapters are:* Comforting Food * Al Fresco* Taste of Home* Lazy Weekends* High Tea* Distant Shores* Posh Nosh* and *Family Classics*.
This one is definitely worth a whirl if you liked the first book, but you wouldn’t need to have the first to enjoy this second one. Lots of recipes to feed the family, maybe get a few new recipes into your routine.
I’ve picked out a lot more savoury recipes in this book to make, but having said that I was true to form and tried a pudding first – Eve’s Pudding. Gorgeous it was too. I’m also looking forward to trying Mom’s Hockey Puck Meatloaf - I couldn’t help but laugh! and a divine looking Italian Pear and Chocolate cake. Everything I’ve made so far we have enjoyed – and I’d make again.

Eve’s Pudding and Custard
A very nice recipe for this classic. You don’t need to cook the apples first, just bake altogether, this has the bonus that the apples are soft, but chunky at the same time, and I liked that. In the intro to the recipe Si and Dave intimate that neither they nor the biblical Adam could fail to be tempted by this apple pudding. I would have to say my hubby, who it would be fair to say sees a fairly wide ranging array of puddings (being married to a cook like me) was very pleased with it – and seconds were required! If I wasn’t counting what I’m eating I’d have had seconds as well. Custard was good too, good taste and excellent texture, will add a little more sugar next time though.

The Jones Boys’ Favourite Chicken & Mushroom Crumble
This was something quite different for me, a savoury crumble. It has a tin of condensed mushroom soup in it. I’m ok with this as an ingredient in a recipe now and again , but if you are sniffy about it, maybe best avoid this one. Still, the soup is just one of the things in the sauce and the overall effect is a creamy mushroom chicken dish topped by a savoury crumble with cheese. A yummy comforting tummy filler.

Grandma Sindy’s Ginger Snacking Sponge
A very simple recipe this one, the batter is really runny, but the cake is really lovely. Nice rise, airy texture – but oh so sticky and gingery, yum! I remember when I was little my own Gramdma used to serve a ginger cake with a creamy filling. I’ve been looking for a recipe for a long time, but they have never been right. I’m going to bake this one in sandwich tins and see how it goes – I’ve got high hopes. This one is good the day it’s baked, better after a day or two. Low fat too if that’s of interest to you.

Tomato Soup
Another really easy recipe, particularly as I blended it with a stick blender. Not quite the famous tinned tomato soup taste, but it’s definitely going down that road. We loved it. I used fruit sugar, and thought this worked well.

Meatballs in Gravy
These were good - a blast from the past, but only better. The gravy is more appealing to adults than children due to the red wine, hubby and I loved them. I’ve made the recipe easier, by oven baking the meatballs. This works for me on three levels: (1)keeps the meatballs round, (2) really moist and (3) saves me pan frying them, a kitchen job that I do not like. Worth a go. Mash and a vegetable are the obvious choices for this dish. I went with new potatoes and veg, to keep the eating regime in check, as I can go a bit mad with good mash!

Meatballs in Gravy
My adaptation of Si and Dave’s recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ Best –Loved recipes Mum’s Still Know Best published 2011 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson. I use plain scone crumbs instead of breadcrumbs, as I’m intolerant to yeast – but do revert it back to breadcrumbs if that suits you better. I also used two tablespoons of Heinz tomato sauce instead of 1 tablespoon of tomato puree in the gravy.

Serves 4
250g lean steak mince
250g minced pork
1 small onion very finely chopped
a squeeze of garlic puree (or 1 garlic clove finely chopped)
25g scone crumbs (or breadcrumbs)
2 teaspoons mixed dried herbs
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons sunflower oil
Heat the oven to 180. Mix all the ingredients except the oil in a bowl, until really well blended. Then roll the mixture into about 20 similar sized balls. Place onto an oven proof tray or dish. Drizzle over the oil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cooked.

1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon plain flour
150ml red wine
300ml beef stock made with 1 beef stock cube
2 tablespoons tomato sauce (like Heinz)
Meanwhile, to make the gravy, heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion over a low heat for 5 minutes to soften. Stir often. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring all the time. Slowly add the red wine, followed by the stock and tomato sauce, stirring all the time. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring now and then. Add the meatballs into the gravy and cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes until all is piping hot – still stirring now and then. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if it needs it .

Next Up: Review and first makes from Lorraine Pascal’s Baking Made Easy