Archive | March, 2013

A hankering for Hot Cross Buns (the French don’t do them)

31 Mar

Hot Cross Buns are ALWAYS present in my house (uni or at home – my mum makes some great ones, albeit with the help of the breadmaker…) over Easter time. They make a healthy breakfast or teatime treat with the low amount of fat in the dough, you can have them toasted slathered in butter and jam, or they are pretty tasty on their own, warm out of the oven.

Although not immediately out the oven… greedy me burnt my hands/lips and learned my lesson…IMG_20130331_163950

Anyway, I decided to tackle making my own this year, after sneakily downloading (IPlayer has me coming across ‘content unavailable outside the UK’ notifications whenever I see a programme that I want to watch and I ALWAYS forget in my excitement) the Great British Bake off’s Eater Masterclass, I attempted Paul Hollywoods recipe. They seemed pretty simple?! (She says, forgetting that he is a professional baker and herself a more chuck-in-a-bowl-and-stir kinda baker) But yes, they were really easy to make, a little time consuming with two 1hour rises but it’s something you have to expect. I actually like having my afternoon being taken up by baking, I always feel productive (even if I am meant to be doing that French translation but tant pis!)

I have my looooovely friends coming to visit on Easter Monday, I hope they like them 😉

Ingredients:
300ml milk
50g butter
500g strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
75g caster sugar
7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
1 egg, beaten
75g sultanas
50g mixed peel
zest 1 orange
1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
70g flour/2 tbsp water (for the cross!
1tbsp apricot jam mixed with ½ tbsp water (for the glaze)

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Method:

1. Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. Tip the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a bowl. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture into a well in the centre and add the egg. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the mixed peel, spices, orange zest and sultanas.

2. Knead for 5 minutes on a well floured surface until the dough starts to come together, you may need to add more flour, but don’t add too much – kneading will help the dough lose its ‘stickyness’. Put the dough in a slightly oiled bowl and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour.

3. When the dough is at least doubled in size, knock out and knead again for 5 minutes until elastic. The dough should smell erm-aahh-zing right now.

4. Divide into around 15 equal sized balls and arrange on a baking sheet, with a gap either side to allow for rising. Leave to rise in a warm place for another hour. Before baking, mix the water/flour together to make the cross, the mixture should be a consistency that drops off a spoon and is easily pipeable but still holds it shape. Pop into a piping bag and get crossing!
5. Bake for about 12 minutes in an oven preheated to 200C, then glaze with a pastry brush the warmed, mixed water & jam for a really professional finish.

Zingy lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting

24 Mar

I must admit, this is the best cupcake recipe I have come across – based on an American recipe book my lovely cousins gave me for Christmas (I usually find American recipes waaaayy too sugary for my liking) these were super refreshing, light and zingy. And not too sweet! Plus the cream cheese frosting is just my fave (not only for carrot cakes!)

The batter only takes ten minutes to make so g’wan, have your cake (12 of them) and eat it (sorry…THEM.)

Ingredients:
160g self raising flour
160g sugar
115g butter
1tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
120ml whole milk
pinch of salt

For the frosting:
100g cream cheese
2tbsp icing sugar
1tsp lemon juice (you can add more if you want it more zingy – just make sure you frosting is still stiff enough to spread!)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Beat together the sugar and butter until the colour has lightened and it has increased in volume. Add the eggs one by one, beating after each addition (make sure they are at room temp otherwise the mixture may curdle.)
2. Add the lemon juice and zest to the egg mixture.
3. In three additions, mix the milk and flour together. All these additional mixing may seem too much but trust me – it is worth the light, fluffy cupcakes you get!
4. Slowly incorporate the flour/milk mix with the egg mix. 
5. Fill cupcake liners so that the mixture is about half way up.
6. Bake for 23 mins! (specific I know…)

When the cupcakes are cooled, use a piping bag or simply spoon the combined cheese/sugar/lemon mixture over the cupcakes.
Decorate with some candid lemon peel if feeling fancy

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When in France… Tarte Tatin (upside down caramelised apple tart)

11 Mar

This weekend, I was craving to bake something simple, tasty and satisfying, which doesn’t call for loads of ingredients (and money… I was feeling very pro-student-budgeting after looking at my bank account!)

Of course, I am in France, home of amazing patisserie. As they say, when in France, make a Tarte Tatin (I’m sure that’s not a phrase but yeah, whatever.) Image

The Tarte Tatin was originally made by accident, which is quite lucky for us. I find the caramalised apples so much better than traditional English-style apple pies, which also seem to be more pastry that anything else.

Once more, it gave me the excuse to use my amazing Great British Bake Off book! Slightly adapted… I didn’t particularly fancy tackling home made puff pastry!

It’s also amazing warm, with salted caramel and pecan ice cream (I have a constant supply in my freezer, naughty.)

Serves 6-8

200g all butter puff pastry
150g golden granulated sugar
600g eating apples
6tbsp water

Method:
1. Put the sugar and water into a saucepan and warm on a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Turn up the heat slightly and boil to make a caramel, gently tipping the pan  backwards and forwards now and again (don’t stir!) When the caramel is golden brown, put the saucepan into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process and burnt caramel!
2. Core and slice apples, but leave the skins on. Pour the caramel into a lined 20cm tart or cake tin with a fixed bottom (otherwis
e your caramel will drip through the bottom!)
3. Arrange the apple slices on top of the caramel.
4. Roll out your pastry to a disk, drape over the apples and tuck in the edges of the disk down to the bottom of the tin. Cut a small cross in the middle of the pastry.
5. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 30mins or until pastry is golden brown.
6. When cooked, place a large plate over the pastry then carefully flip the tart so the tasty caramelised apples are revealed and subsequently ready to be eaten with lots of ice cream/cream/custard…. (or all three..)

Skiing in Auron and Pain Bagnats

5 Mar

Last Sunday we took yet another ski day-trip, it’s just too fun/close/(relatively) cheap not to make the most of it! This time, we decided to go to the resort of Auron, which is another small, family resort in the Mercantour national park area. Like Isola 2000, it’s less than 2 hours by bus from Nice.

To be quite honest as it’s a lot lower than Isola, it was a warm +6 C which meant slushy skiing and lots of ugly brown mud/mountains. We didn’t like it as much as Isola but you know, can’t really complain about spending a relaxing Sunday on the slopes.

One of my favourite parts (obviously) of skiing is having a hearty lunch outside in the sun on the side of a mountain in preparation for an afternoons skiing. Laaavely.

The restaurant with the best view (priorities hey!) we came across on the slopes was la Bergerie, despite it being absolutely heaving (French half term…) we were served quickly. The menu was mostly Provencal-inspired dishes, hence choosing between us the Raviolis Nicois in a meaty sauce daube and the Pain Bagnat Revisité.

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The Pain Bagnat is amazing (basically a Nicois salad in a bun.) It is one of my favourite food discoveries here, which is perfect as the boulangerie on the corner of our road does the best one using their own fresh olive bread bagnat rolls. The Pain Bagnat Revisité  was more of an elegant, open sandwich type dish, being in a restaurant and costing 14euros what do you expect. I must admit the hearty roll is a lot more satisfying.

I went to the boulangerie today to pick up a pain bagnat for lunch. Due to it

being 2pm (the French eat their lunch at 12pm sharp) there were non left. No worries. I bought myself a bagnat roll and made myself a Pain Bagnat à la Phoebe (that is, without anchovies, eww.)

Serves 1 hungry person, 2 hungry-ish people

Ingredients:                                                                 IMG_20130305_163836

1 giant olive bread roll
1 tin tuna in olive oil
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
handful rocket
5 black olives, halved
a few slices of red pepper
a few slices of hard boiled egg
anchovies (optional)
good olive oil and balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Method:
1. Slice  your bun, drizzle the olive oil onto the bread, spread the tuna on the bread then pile up all the other ingredients. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and balsamic et voilà!