Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Berry picking and Jam

Last week I went berry picking with a good friend. Berry picking is one of my favourite summertime activities, it's fun, it's outdoors and the best part is you end up with lots of really cheap berries for jam. I have included the strawberry jam that I've made before here. This time I decided to go for raspberries and blackberries but, like the strawberry jam, I prefer not to use loads of sugar. So here's the recipe I used and what you get is something that goes as well on toast as it does with yoghurt or heated over ice-cream.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Marshmallow Fondant

Recently a very good friend asked me to do a cake for her boyfriend's birthday. We decided on the cake and theme and I knew it would need fondant. Fondant is the only way to make sculpted pieces or cover cake but the only problem is that classic fondant tastes disgusting! So I decided to try out marshmallow fondant and I must say I was very impressed!

The recipe is very simple

450g miny marshmallows
60ml water
1 tsp extract of choice ( I used orange)
2-3 tsp food colouring gel
800g Icing Sugar
2-3 tsp butter

1 - Melt your marshmallows in the microwave for 1 minute.

2 - Add your extract and food colouring to the water and then stir into the marshmallows until they
     are fully melted.

3 - Add your icing sugar slowly and stir. Half-way through this process I moved the mixture to my kitchenaid and continued to beat in the icing sugar a bit at a time.

4 - Finally turn the mixture out onto a sheet and rub down with the butter and knead until it is no longer sticky.

5 - Store in an air-tight container overnight.

6- Use to scult or cover as you will.

The from this fondant is another post.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pain aux Figues - a yeast free alternative

When I lived in France, there were several fantastic bakeries but one in particular was my favourite. It was one of the first bakeries that I visited in the town and despite living an hour away it remained a frequent haunt for me. I even woke my father one morning at 6am to bring him across town and get the freshest bread from this bakery and if you met him he would tell you this story with much more flourish and detail (he's a much better story teller than me!). Suffice is to say, there are a lot of positive memories from this place. One of the more interesting breads made by this bakery was the 'pain aux figues.' What was interesting about this bread was that it contained no yeast. It was more like a scone but with less sweetness so it combines as well with cheese as with butter and jam. Basically it combines french flavour with Irish soda bread, so kinda the best of both worlds. So this is my attempt to replicate it.

Pain aux Figues (yeast free version)

100g Dried figs cut up
250g white bread flour
150g whole meal flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 eggs
60ml milk
50-100ml water
1 tsp of honey

1. Preheat the oven to 200'C

2. Mix together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar and figs.

3. Beat together the milk and 1 whole egg and one egg yolk

4. Add the milk and egg mixture into the flour and mix thoroughly.

5. Add the water slowly while beating until a dough  sticks together.

6. Flour a board and work the dough only enough to form a bread shape (I worked it a good bit as I
    wanted this bread to be thick).

7.  Slash the bread and use the remaining egg white and honey to glaze the dough before baking for 20-30 minutes or until hollow sounding when tapped.

8 - Remove once cooked and let cool for 20 minutes or so before serving.

This bread goes beautifully with sweet or savoury accompaniment. It would go perfectly with goats cheese and a little honey. So yeah hopefully you'll enjoy

Monday, August 4, 2014

Coconut bites - all natural taste of summer

If, like me, you have spent this summer in front of a computer screen or inside an office building then as August starts it can feel like summer is slipping away, and don't get me wrong I'm looking forward to autumn and winter, but it's nice to celebrate summer while it's here. So here is a little taste of the tropical to help you hold on to the summer.

Bounty bars are advertised as a taste of tropical flavour and I bought in, so when I thought tropical I thought about them. But they are not the healthiest thing you can eat, so here's my low fat, low sugar version.

You will need:

3 egg whites
350g dessicated coconut
80g (equivilant) stevia
20g caster sugar (alternatively you can leave out the stevia and use 100g sugar)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp white rum
30g ground almonds
30g  dark sugar free cocoa powder

1 large saucepan
1 metal bowl
1 whisk
1 sugar thermometre

1 - Put your egg whites, sugar and stevia in your metal bowl. Heat some water in the saucepan and then gently bring up the temperature of the mixture, whisking constantly until it reaches 160'F.

2- Remove from the heat and beat vigourously until you have achieve a meringue

3 - Add the vanilla essence, rum and whisk.

 4 -  Add the coconut, ground almonds and mix thoroughly.

 5 - Chill in the fridge for about an hour

6-  Press into squares and use a sieve to sprinkle cocoa powder over all the sides to coat.

They taste sweet, soft and delicious and the hint of rum compines with the coconut to make you think of beach holidays rather than you computer.

Honeymoon first Stops: Boston and Las Vegas

We left London on A Saturday afternoon and flew to Boston, arriving in at 7.30pm Boston time. We somewhat regretted flying from London when ...