Bake-off Wednesdays: Pastry/Advanced Dough

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Forgive me for I am cheating a bit this week – I’ve tried to incorporate two episodes into one bake, because I didn’t really have time to bake twice straight after coming back from Spain (and I need to regain some control over how much i’m eating!)

So this week to continue the Spanish theme I made Churros 🙂

Churros are made of a choux pastry dough, which is then piped through a star-shaped nozzle into boiling oil, and fried until puffed up and golden. They are often eaten for breakfast dipped in hot chocolate or with a coffee. They evaded me for a while in Spain recently however, they seemed to prefer pastries with their chocolate for breakfast in Girona – so that’s why i’m not sick of them yet…

I’d never made choux pastry before, so I consider this advanced for me! Although I found it pretty easy, so maybe it’s not that difficult, just something different?

Anyway, I found a few recipes on the internet, including some for baked churros, which I thought worth trying as they would be healthier than their fried cousins.

I originally decided to just make baked, but then thought better of it and decided it would be useful to make both versions and compare…

I adapted a recipe for baked churros by The Little Loaf and used it as the dough for both types of churros, I also used a chocolate sauce recipe by BBC Good Food and adapted that slightly too.

The verdict wasn’t that surprising to me – the fried tasted better (doesn’t it always?!). They puffed up more in the oil than the baked did, which gave them a chewy texture and a crunchy exterior, the baked version was lovely and crisp, but fairly hollow inside.

Here’s a comparison photo for you:

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 My mum, who is on a diet, did appreciate the baked version however, as it meant she could still enjoy dessert and not feel too guilty, so they’re worth making for that reason at least.

I was pretty impressed with how authentic the fried ones tasted, and how easy they were to make! The chocolate sauce was really silky and glossy too…

Recipe for both versions below:

Serves 6-8

Churros

80g plain white flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

100g golden caster sugar, divided

2 tsp cinnamon

50g unsalted butter, cubed

150ml cold water

2 large beaten eggs

750ml sunflower/vegetable oil – if frying

Chocolate Sauce

200g bar 70% chocolate, broken into chunks

100ml double cream

100ml whole milk

3 tbsp golden syrup

½ tsp vanilla extract (optional)

If you’re not a fan of dark chocolate you can use half dark, half milk…

*If making Baked Churros, preheat oven to 200C and line a few trays with baking paper*

Sift the flour and salt over a piece of baking paper and leave near the hob (this makes it easier to combine ingredients for the dough). Mix 90g of the caster sugar with the cinnamon in a large bowl or tray and set aside.

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In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and water together until the butter is melted. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down low and tip in the sifted flour/salt and remaining 10g caster sugar. Beat with a wooden spoon over the heat until a smooth ball of dough forms that leaves the sides of the saucepan – it will look a bit like mashed potato! Remove from the heat and leave for a couple of minutes, then beat in the eggs, a small amount at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Put to one side for a few minutes.

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While the dough is resting, make your sauce. Put all the sauce ingredients into a pan on a low heat, stirring until you have a smooth shiny sauce. Keep warm.

For Fried Churros:

Fill a deep saucepan one-third full of oil. Heat until a cube of bread browns in 45 seconds – 1 min (approx 170C if you have a thermometer). Cover a large plate with kitchen paper.

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Fit your piping bag with a star-shaped nozzle (approx 1.5-2cm wide). Fill with your dough and pipe strips of it straight into the pan, cutting them off with a pair of scissors – you might need someone to help with that bit. I managed to get about 6 or 7 in the pan each time, without them sticking to each other.  Fry until golden brown and crispy, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on the kitchen paper.

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As soon as the churros are ready, roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture and serve with the thick hot chocolate sauce – get dunking!

For Baked Churros:

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Fit your piping bag with a star-shaped nozzle (approx 1.5-2cm wide). Fill with your dough and pipe lines onto the prepared baking paper-covered trays. Bake each tray for 12 – 15 minutes or until crisp and golden – you might have to do this in batches.

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As soon as the churros are ready, roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture and serve with the thick hot chocolate sauce – get dunking!

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*You may well eat all of these in one sitting – I wouldn’t blame you, but if there are some left over, or you need to make them in advance, you can re-heat them in the oven on a medium heat for 5 minutes – this will make them nice and crispy again too! The chocolate sauce can be re-heated on the hob or in the microwave, but remember to check every few seconds in the microwave so you don’t burn it.*

Buenas Noches!

Bake-Off Wednesdays: European Cakes

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I’m back in my comfort zone with this weeks challenge – no scary pastry or bread, just a nice easy cake…

NB: Last week’s tart did go down well at the dinner party in case anyone was wondering!

I originally thought of making an Italian Polenta cake as I like the grainy texture, but when I was given 3 bags of apples at the weekend I knew they had to be incorporated! So German Apple cake it was.

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This cake is light and moist, with a tasty crumble topping, of which there is also a layer inside the cake. I liked the fact that toasted flaked almonds are used in the crumble – they add another nice texture and flavour. The original recipe uses sour cream, but I had a pot of crème fraiche that needed using, so subbed that in instead. If you’d rather use sour cream, just swap it back.

This has had good reviews from my work colleagues, husband, and a fairly prolific apple cake maker – so it’s safe to say it’s a good one! It will probably be made again, when I run out of other things to use the rest of the apples in…

Can be served warm or cold, and with crème fraiche or sour cream on the side too, if you fancy it.

Original recipe found here

German Apple  Cake

175g/6oz unsalted butter
175g/6oz caster sugar
675g/1½ lb Bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3 large eggs, beaten
200g/7oz plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
150g crème fraiche – loosened with a little milk

Topping:
50g/2oz unsalted butter
50g/2oz soft brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
75g/3oz plain flour
50g/2oz toasted flaked almonds

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1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/ 350°F/Gas Mark 4. Line a 20cm (22cm in my case) spring form tin with baking parchment. Melt 25g of the butter and sugar together in a large frying pan. Add the Bramley apple slices and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until the apples are tender. Leave to cool.

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2. Make the crumble topping by melting the butter and stirring in the remaining ingredients.

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3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy then gradually add the eggs beating well between additions. Sift over the flour and baking powder then gently fold into the mixture with the creme fraiche.

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4. Spoon two thirds of the cake mixture over the base of the tin, scatter over a third of the crumble mixture and top with the remaining cake mixture.

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Finally, scatter over the Bramley apples and remaining crumble mixture. Bake in the oven for approximately 75 minutes. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a plate/rack.

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Enjoy!

P.S. Next weeks Bake-Off post won’t be on time as i’ll be coming back from a min-holiday in Spain. I will endeavour to make it/post it soon after though…

Bake-Off Wednesdays: Tarts

*Warning* This post contains spoilers (if you’re a guest or host of the dinner party I’m going to tomorrow!)*

If I’ve learned anything from last weeks Bake-Off, it’s probably never to attempt a Baked Alaska in the height of summer… or at all! Poor Iain, the stress got to him – and having thrown pastry in the bin last night in frustration, I’m pretty sure I would have done the same in the Bake-Off tent. There was a lot of controversy over how long his baked Alaska was out of the freezer, why Diana had done it, why he hadn’t been told etc – but I’m sure the editors had a hand in making it seem so dramatic – and only those in the tent really know what happened. Fingers crossed this week will be less stressful – Although mine hasn’t been…

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This weeks challenge is Tarts and Pies. I’d decided to make a tart as we’re going to a dinner party, and I thought it would be a good dish to take over for dessert. I thought this would be a nice, easy, week as I’ve made them in the past – but something happened to me last night and I just couldn’t get the pastry right. The first batch ended up over-worked and got chucked in the bin, the second batch either didn’t have enough water in it, had too much butter in it, or was too cold – and just crumbled when I tried to roll it out. I think I’ll stick to cakes in the future 😉

In the end the OH had more patience than me and managed to coax the second batch of dough into behaving by adding a bit more water. It was never going to the best dough ever though as I realised later I’d forgotten to add the caster sugar to it second time round too! It ended up ok in the end though… I tried a little bit this morning just to check, and the flavours of the tart are really nice together, and sweet enough that you don’t notice the unsweetened pastry.

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I’ve got a hankering for cherries at the moment, and found a recipe on Red online by Gregg ‘It’s like a hug in a bowl’ Wallace (Masterchef presenter) which combines the cherries with white chocolate and a hint of cinnamon – a done deal in my eyes! I hope the other guests agree 😉

White Chocolate and Cherry Tart

Serves:  6-8
Preparation Time:15 minutes – plus chilling time
Cooking Time:1 hour

You will need
175g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp ground cinnamon
125g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
25g caster sugar
2–3 tsp iced water

For the filling
2 eggs
40g caster sugar
150g white chocolate, finely chopped
300ml double cream
450g fresh black or red dessert cherries or
2 x 425g cans pitted black or red cherries
Ground cinnamon, for dusting
Extra cherries to decorate (optional)

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NB: I bought two tins of pitted cherries to use as they were cheaper, but they didn’t taste strongly enough of cherry for me, so also bought some fresh ones and did ‘half and half’. There were also some fresh cherries left over for decoration!

Method

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1. To make the pastry, sift the flour and cinnamon into a bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and add enough of the water to mix to a firm dough.

(I used my stand mixer but also rubbed some of the butter in)


2. Turn the dough out on to a lightly-floured surface and knead briefly. Wrap in foil and chill for 30 minutes.

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3. Roll the dough out on a lightly-floured surface and use to line a 23 x 2.5 cm deep loose-bottomed flan tin. Trim off the excess pastry around the rim. Prick the tart case with a fork all over, to stop it rising. Line the tart case with foil, fill with baking beans and bake in a preheated oven, 200°C /400°F/gas mark 6, for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.


4. Meanwhile, to make the filling, beat the eggs and sugar together in a bowl. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small, heavy-based saucepan, then pour over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted. Pour over the egg mixture, stirring constantly.

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5. Pit the cherries, if using fresh, or thoroughly drain the canned cherries. Arrange in the flan case. Pour the chocolate mixture over the cherries.

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6. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until the chocolate cream is set. Dust with cinnamon and serve warm, decorated with extra cherries if you like.

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Recipe by Gregg Wallace, found on Red Online

As you can see it, it turned out pretty ‘rustic’, but it tastes good… Fingers crossed it goes down well tomorrow evening!

Bake-Off Wednesdays: Desserts

On the weekend, the OH and I walked some of the Bath Skyline Walk. This is a 6 mile walk around the outskirts of Bath, featuring hills, fields, woods, a ‘sham castle’ and views of the city. We only had time/energy for about half of it, but managed to fit in all of the above!

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Views of Bath and the ‘Sham Castle’ built in the 18th Century by Ralph Allen, to improve the view from his house!

We took a tub with us in the hope of collecting some blackberries, and we weren’t disappointed.

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Although a lot of the bushes weren’t quite ripe yet, we managed to fill the tub, and eat a couple… In a couple of weeks time I don’t think you’ll be able to move for blackberries on the walk – we may have to go back!

I’d decided to incorporate some blackberries into this week’s bake-off challenge, and because this week we are trying to be healthy-ish (to combat the excesses of the last couple of weeks!), I tried to find a dessert that wasn’t completely naughty.

I remember Crème Caramels were made by the bakers one year, and so decided on one of its distant relatives – the Panna Cotta.

Panna Cotta, the dessert made with mountains of double cream? I hear you. Not what automatically comes to mind when thinking of healthy desserts, but I had a thought it could be made with yoghurt, and a quick search of the internet provided me with a few recipes that seemed to agree with me.

Most seemed to incorporate greek yoghurt with some double cream and milk, so i bought both and had a go….

Now, this didn’t end up as healthy as I’d hoped, because I had to make them twice…  It all tasted lovely the first time round, but didn’t set properly, so was more like a very creamy yoghurt dessert than a set dessert – see photo below!

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I’d followed one recipe in terms of the gelatine to cream/yoghurt ratio, but looking at other recipes they all seem to have more than mine did. So I tried it again, and upped the gelatine content substantially.

This time things looked more promising!

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Flavour-wise, I decided to infuse the cream with some thyme that we had leftover in the fridge, and used honey-flavoured greek yoghurt to add a bit more flavour.The blackberries were great, I just left them fresh, but you could make a coulis with them if you wanted. I also crumbled up a butter galette biscuit to add some texture – a ‘biscuit crumb’, if you will 😉

We ate this for breakfast as it didn’t feel as naughty as a traditional Panna Cotta!

Thyme and Honey ‘Panna Cotta’ with Blackberries

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

3 Gelatine Leaves

175ml Milk

50ml Double Cream

250g Honey-flavoured Greek Yoghurt

20g Caster Sugar

Approx 4 sprigs of Thyme

Blackberries

Put the gelatine leaves into a bowl of iced water and leave to soften for five minutes.

Put the milk, cream, sugar and thyme sprigs into a small pan and bring slowly to the boil.

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Remove the softened gelatine from the iced water, gently squeeze out the excess water and stir into the milk and cream (discarding the thyme sprigs). Remove from the heat and stir until the gelatine has dissolved.

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Pour this mixture through a sieve to get rid of any lumps, and pour into the greek yoghurt slowly, whisking as you go. When thoroughly combined, pour the mixture into your moulds (I used tea cups), cover with cling film and place in the fridge for at least 5 hours.

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When ready to serve, run a sharp knife around the rim of the mould, and briefly dip the mould into hot water to help loosen the panna cotta. Jiggle it around again, repeat if necessary, and gently pull away from the sides with your fingers or a spoon. It will come out eventually! Alternatively, if you can’t or don’t want to get it out you can serve it in the mould/teacup etc – see photo below. It still looks pretty, just slightly less impressive! If turning out, do so onto your serving plate and garnish with blackberries, biscuits, and another small sprig of thyme (if desired).

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This dessert definitely tasted healthier than a normal Panna Cotta, I think the yoghurt gave it a fresher taste, and the thyme made it slightly more savoury. It still tasted good though, and I will definitely be making it again next time I want a ‘lighter’ treat!

Bake Off Wednesdays: Cake

Mel & Sue, Queen Bezza, scary Paul, custard disasters, style over substance, ovens not heating up, ridiculously tasty looking cakes, biscuits, bread, tray bakes, tarts, pies…

…It’s back! I am a little over-excited about the new series of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ starting tonight (8pm BBC1).

To commemorate this I thought I would aim to do a post every Wednesday of recipes that fit in with the episodes theme – tonight’s is cakes!

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Lime, Yoghurt and Olive Oil Cake

I made this cake at the start of the summer – it feels like a really summery cake because the yoghurt and olive oil gives it a light texture, and the limes and sugar make me think of mojitos! It also goes well with a gin & tonic by the way…
I hadn’t made a cake using olive oil and yoghurt instead of butter before, but was really pleased with the outcome. It’s pretty simple to make – no fancy kitchen paraphernalia required – only a wooden spoon, a cake tin, and an oven… This cake will be made again!
It looks really pretty with the extra lime and sugar sprinkled on the top too.
Recipe nabbed from Souvlaki for the Soul – i just changed the measurements from US to UK
 
Ingredients

285g whole full fat Greek yoghurt

79ml of olive oil

225g caster sugar

zest of one lime

4 tablespoons lime juice

2 eggs

220g of sifted plain flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Extra lime zest and golden granulated sugar for topping

 

 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C

Grease a 22cm springform baking tin

Mix the yoghurt, olive oil, sugar, lime juice, zest, and eggs in a  bowl until well combined.

In a separate large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

Pour the wet ingredients mixture into the flour mixture and use a wooden spoon to mix until just combined. Don’t overwork the batter.

Pour into the baking tin and cook for approx 45-50 mins. The cake is ready when it has browned on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Leave it to cool in the cake tin for five minutes and then invert it onto a cake cooler.

Once cooled, combine one tablespoon of lime zest with two tbsps of the granulated sugar and sprinkle liberally on top.

 

Sit down with a cup of tea (or a mojito) and enjoy the fruits of your labour – it’s worth it.

 

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