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Triple berry pavlova

12 Sep

wpid-IMG_20130812_173919.jpgWith all the egg whites from my Key Lime Pie I made a while ago, I made a bucketload of meringues (hate anything going to waste!)

And so, a wonderfully crisp yet chewy inside pavlova base was created, and subsequently popped in the freezer to keep.

A few egg white’s and a bit of sugar expand to huge volumes when whipped a little. It’s surprising! I used a little less sugar than recommended as I don’t like them too sweet and sickly. They still come out with a great texture though. It’s important that they are whisked to as stiff as possible – do the upside down bowl on the head test! When cooking, ensure you resist the temptation to open the oven door whilst they’re cooking. In fact, leave them in the oven until the oven has completely cooled after you have turned it off.

Served with freshly whipped cream and fresh summer berries is a super quick amazingly fresh yet indulgent pudding.

 

 

wpid-IMG_20130812_173740.jpgMeringue:
Egg whites from 2 large or 3 medium eggs

75g caster sugar

1tsp white wine vinegar

To decorate:
3 small punnets blueberries, raspberries and strawberries

Small pot of double cream, whipped (or as much as you like really!)

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 110C. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Whip egg whites until very very stiff, add the sugar and vinegar and whisk again until just as stiff.

2. With a dessertspoon, put generous portions into a circular shape on the baking tray. There should be peaks around the edge of the circle, and it should be flat in the middle, which is where laden with cream and fruit!

3. Bake for about 3 hours. Wait to cool completely and then decorate

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Elderflower Drizzle Cake

30 Jul

Mum has been making elderflower cordial by the bucketload (ok I exaggerate, but she’s made a fair few bottles!) It is refreshingly summery and as it’s made with home grown elderflower, which tends to have quite a short season, it’s always a bit of a treat. I associate the taste with summer and so far, Britain hasn’t been having such a bad one. IMG_20130728_211617[1]

 

 

 

Anyway, an interesting, summer take on the classic lemon drizzle cake proved to be a hit. We froze half and when thawed, the elderflower had really soaked into the cake and gave it a gorgeous light refreshing taste. A real summer hit, enjoy with a glass of Pimms or champagne if you’re feeling a bit wild.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe is from the Guardian IMG_20130728_213053[1]

Serves 6-8

225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs
225g self raising flour, sifted

For the icing
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
100ml elderflower cordial
2 tbsp sugar

1 Line a loaf tin with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one by one. Incorporate the flour and mix well, until smooth and creamy.

Turn into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, until well-risen and golden brown on top.

3 Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then prick all over with a skewer or fork.

4 Heat the elderflower cordial, lemon juice and sugar in a pan until hot, but not boiling. Drizzle over the cake, encouraging it to run into the sink holes. It should sink in and leave a crunchy crust.

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Strawberries & Cream Victoria Sandwich

14 Jul

IMG_20130714_150517[1]Strawberries are in season at the moment and along with the brilliant weather we seem to be experiencing here in the UK (even Wild West Wales is hot and dry, amazingly) they are in abundance and for once not about £4 for a punnet of tasteless watery stawbs.

Tesco got on the Wimbledon bandwagon and were selling punnets of British strawberries with ‘free’ pots of double cream.

Cream is such a treat (I once knew someone who ate a whole pot for their dinner, with nothing else out of guilt) and a perfect combination is with freshly whipped cream, in a classic Victoria sponge eaten outside with a glass of homemade (I need to get my mums recipe for this up!) elderflower cordial. How sophisticated eh!

 

 

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The cake was made from the River Cottage’s recipe
Ingredients:
175g self raising flour
pinch of salt
175g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
175g caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 med pot of double cream
punnet of strawberries, washed
2 X 20cm sandwich tins

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Beat the butter to a cream, then add the sugar and beat until very light and creamy (this is the secret to a great sponge!)
2. Add the eggs, a little at a time in conjunction with a spoon or two of the flour to prevent curdling, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the vanilla extract if using.
3. Sift in the rest of the flour and carefully fold it in. Divide the mixture evenly between the two sandwich tins and bake for around 25mins or until springy when gently pushed.
4. When cooked, leave in the tins for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
5. When the cake is cooled, whip the cream until stiff, slice the strawberries and spread the cream over one layer, and top with thinly sliced strawberries. Top with the other layer and arrange strawberry halves on top. Dust with icing sugar!IMG_20130714_150431[1]

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Strawberry Cream Tea – one of those things that everyone loves

17 Jun

I finally arrived home in West Wales after over two weeks of dashing (and even flying, seriously) over the country from Exeter, Bristol and Cardiff to London and Newcastle. I’m not going to lie, it mostly involved partying, eating tasty meals, socilaising and lying in bed all morning with friends laughing about the previous nights escapades (tough life, I know.)

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I was very much looking forward to coming back home for a few days and what I was greeted home with was amazing. Mums are great. They bake fresh scones and serve great tea, although my Dad is bound to comment if I don’t include that he was the one who came up with the idea of using deliciously sweet in season strawberries; instead of jam to go with the clotted cream on the scones (it was a great change – definitely recommend it!)

My Mum has a wonderful baking book by Jane Asher, which is where she got the scone recipe from. After trying many others, this is her fave and I wholeheartedly agree.

Serve on a lovely table with some flowers, tea in proper tea cups and saucers, you can’t go wrong.

I’m looking forward to Welsh Cakes and Bara Brith next time (hint hint) 😀

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A proper Victoria Sponge 21st Birthday Cake (none of that French mousse and fruit rubbish)

10 Apr

One of my friends posted on my Facebook wall on my birthday wishing me a Happy Birthday and hoping that I get the chance to eat a proper, good old British sponge cake. There was no need to worry I tell you what, Mary Berry would be proud of my Mum’s effort transporting my cake through 3 countries to reach me here in Nice, still fresh and a delicious slice of Victoria Sponge (with a twist…) loveliness.

My mum used to always make my birthday cake topped with a ‘horse scene’ (yes, I am a horse girl) I love how, now that I am 21, she thought it was about time I recieved a more grown up cake.

The result – an impressive British Festival scene, complete with porta loos and muddy wellies.

Pretty great eh!Image

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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.

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..)

The most chocolatey white and dark chocolate cookies for when it’s stormy and you want a chocolate hug

22 Feb

These cookies are an adaptation of the ‘Double Death by Chocolate Cookies‘ recipe from my bible, being The Great British Bake Off, How to turn Everyday Bakes into Showstoppers of course.

I made these cookies for Valentines day (a request haha!) However I was majorly craving them last night during one of Nice’s storms. I love them! The weather here is great, it hardly ever rains but when it does, it usually involves a storm. Films, tea and chocolate cookies are perfect for eating in bed, listening to the storm outside.

I modified this recipe from the Bake Off book as I had no cocoa powder. Instead, I melted some dark chocolate and reduced the amount of soft butter, I also added some extra flour to balance out the wet/dryness of the mixture. I also added quite a few more white and dark chocolate pieces to the cookies because I just love chocolate.

The first time I made these cookies I used the cheapest dark chocolate from Carrefour – they came out ok, however the high sugar content in the chocolate made them a little too sweet and not ‘chocolately’ enough. As a result, use dark chocolate of more than 70% cocoa solids, it is really really worth the extra few centimes/pence (even if you are a student!)

Makes 14 large, gooey cookies        IMG_20130221_225053

Ingredients:
175g self raising flour
Pinch of salt
Pinch of baking powder
95g golden caster sugar
100g very soft unsalted butter
1 large egg at room temperature
25g good quality dark chocolate, melted
100g good quality white chocolate, broken into chunks (personally, the chunkier, the better)
150g good quality dark chocolate, broken into chunks

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 180C. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix the melted chocolate and soft butter together then add to the dry ingredients.
2. Beat the egg until frothy then add to the dry ingredients along with your chocolate chunks. Mix until thoroughly combined.
3. Take a tablespoon of the mixture and drop it onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Repeat with all the mixture allowing space between each blob for the cookies to spread when cooking.
4. Bake for approximately 12 minutes. They should be firm but not hard, they carry on cooking for a while and harden up after you take them out of the oven, burnt cookies is not a good look, you want soft, chewy ones!

Leave to cool then eat

Simple pleasures – Sunday morning croissants & hot chocolate à la français/Phoebe

3 Feb

During my walk home from the nightbus after a night out in Cannes, I found myself walking past my local boulangerie. Late night to the early hours of the morning is when all croissboulangeries make their masses of breads and pastries. The smell of fresh bread is infamously amazing, however the wafts of baking croissants I believe is even better. I went to bed adamant to treat myself to a croissant in the morning. I also realised that I am actually quite obsessed with food – who plans their breakfast so determinedly (I even checked to see if I had apricot jam…) at 4am whilst knackered and (slightly) under the influence of alcohol?!

True to late night determination, two fresh, buttery croissants made their way to  my apartment. As it’s a Sunday, I thought why not go all out and have a typical French, tasty yet not so healthy accompaniment – hot chocolate in a bowl, the only way to drink it (if you are a French child, but oh well.)

As an adult, I did make myself a bit more of a ‘grown-up’ hot chocolate in a bowl. The addition of a shot of coffee makes masses of difference in my opinion. It takes away some of the sicklyness that can come from a big bowl of milky hot chocolate, plus gives you a bit of a (much needed) caffeine buzz.

Just what I needed!

My version of chocolate chaud calls for:
A china, heat proof smallish bowl that can easlily be drunk from.
About 250ml milk (if you are going really authentic then use UHT – although the French stuff doesn’t have quite the same strong taste as the UHT milk in the UK.)
1 tbsp hot chocolate powder (Poulain is a popular French brand that is the best – far better than any supermarket hot chocolate in the UK, I always bring a pot back with me!)
Shot of espresso or 2tsp instant coffee granules

1. In your bowl, mix the coffee and hot chocolate powder with a few tbsp milk to form a paste, add the rest of the milk then pop in the microwave for 1min. Stir to ensure everything is well mixed and cook for a further 40seconds.
Serve with warm croissants and jam.

 

Boozy banoffee loaf

12 Dec

I never know if to refer to any baked good that uses bananas as a

Imagebase as a bread or a cake (maybe more of a cake due to no yeast?!) anyway, ‘loaf’ seems neutral, unbiased to all cake/breads out there! My recipe calls for a good glug of rum to give a Caribbean warmth. I also added some chopped fudge pieces to give a lovely caramel-y flavour. A few walnuts into the batter add texture and compliment the banana flavour well, although pecans would make an equally tasty addition. Eaten with a slather of butter (making it more a bread?!) make it a delicious accompaniment to a warming mug of spiced hot chocolate or even a cheeky glass of mulled wine. Perfect eaten in bed, watching a good film. Although, try not to eat it all at once, the smell that comes from the oven is delicious! Consequently, the downside of this recipe is that you have to endure the smell for an hour or so due to the cooking time.

Incredibly simple method and is a good way to use up those bananas that are going a bit brown in the fruit bowl. In fact the riper, the better! It also stays fresh for a week.

Ingredients:
80g Butter, softened
100g Caster sugar
270g Plain flour (you can use 50/50 wholemeal/plain to make it even healthier!)
2 ½ tsp baking powder
2 Eggs
4 Ripe, medium-sized bananas, mashed
35g Chopped fudge pieces
35g Walnut pieces
1.5tbsp Rum

Method:1. Heat your oven to 160C (fan.) Mix the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs and mashed bananas until you have a well-combined batter. Fold in the walnuts and fudge pieces, along with the rum. Spoon into a 450g lined and greased loaf tin and bake for an hour or until a skewer comes out clean.

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