Here’s what I baked earlier…

I think, to live up to its name, this blog needs a few more crumbs. Over the past year, I’ve kept myself plenty busy in my little kitchen here in Shepherds Bush. I’ll soon be moving out, so what better time to time to look back over the goodies I’ve rustled up? (Forgive me: food photography isn’t one of my skills.)

Sunflower and Honey Rolls

I found the recipe for these in Delicious Magazine.  They were so tasty I made them again. The rolls only stayed fresh for a day, but they did freeze well.

 


Pecan Pie

The recipe I followed here is from the fabulous upcoming book Supper Club by the indomitable Kerstin Rodgers of Underground Restaurant fame. I’m afraid I can’t post her recipe (buy the book – it’s out in April and is a quirky little collection of really clever, think-outside-the-box, impress-your-guests recipes!) but as an alternative in the meantime, Google throws up lots of great recipes, most of them from the US (it’s an American classic after all!). If you can’t make head or tail of US cup measurements, here’s a fallback from the trusty Beeb. I made the pastry from scratch and it was all the better for doing so.

Grasshopper Pie

At some point over the last few years, I made myself personally responsible for Christmas Day dessert in our household. This was my 2010 Christmas offering and it was a GREAT SUCCESS. The photos don’t do it justice: the filling was a gorgeous pale-green colour and I made the base from crushed-up double-choc-chip Maryland cookies – similar to a cheesecake base but even more indulgent. Peppermint essence gave it a subtle mintyness that took the edge off the creamy marshmallow, so it wasn’t sickly in the slightest. The pie was a breeze to make, and it looked really impressive. I highly recommend it, particularly if you want to serve up something unusual that many people may never have tried before.

I was inspired to try this after seeing Nigella whip it up on her latest series,
but the recipe I followed was a Hummingbird one, available in their new book, Cake Days, published in March. If you want to have a bash in the meantime, I’ve tracked down the Nigella recipe on this lovely food blog.


Banoffee Pie

Definitely the easiest recipe on this list; also probably the yummiest. I have
the wonderful Donal Skehan to thank for this one. I’m linking to the recipe
on his blog because it’s accompanied by lots of gorgeous photos (his pics are so much nicer than mine!), but do visit his new website, too, a constant source of inspiration to me and many others. And watch out for his new book, Kitchen Hero, published at the end of March (you can pre-order it!!!)

If you’re feeling uber-lazy, just skip the boiling of the condensed milk and buy tinned Carnation caramel. But if you have time and enthusiasm, do it properly,
if only to experience the novelty of the milk-to-caramel transformation.

Macaroons

I’ve now made macaroons twice. The first time was a disaster. They were supposed to be election macaroons – yellow, blue and red – but it proved way over-ambitious for this macaroon first-timer. What didn’t go wrong? The red ones came out pink. The blue ones had a metallic taste from too much food colouring. All of them cracked across the top and stuck hideously to the greaseproof paper (a fool’s error – always use baking parchment!!!). Bah!

So last week  I tried again. This time, half vanilla and half orange. The vanilla ones (in the photo) were a fraction closer to success, though by no means perfect. Only two emerged from the oven crack-free with smooth unblemished tops. And they weren’t light enough; the texture was too biscuity. (The Kahlua-flavoured cream was yummy however!) As for the orange ones: awful. I somehow knocked all the air out of them whilst stirring in the food colouring.
I didn’t even bother to take a photo.

I’m hoping for a Third Time Lucky, that is – when I can muster up the energy and spirit to try them again. Watch this space.

Both my attempts have followed this recipe from Delicious Magazine. I don’t blame the recipe for my failed attempts, but next time, I think I’ll try a new one. Some recommend leaving the piped mixture to stand for up to an hour to properly dry out and form a skin (I left it for just 15 minutes). I’m wondering if this is the answer to achieving crack-free macaroons.


Miniature Lemon Scones

Back in October it was National Baking Week, and Becky over at Munchmun.ch challenged me to a ‘scone-off’. These cuties were my offering.

We never properly judged the competition, but since we both ended up with a mountain of scones to gobble to our hearts’ contents, I think we were both winners.

Recipe below …


…Makes 14

250g plain flour
80g butter, chilled and cubed
1 tbsp baking powder
50g caster sugar
100ml milk
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
Icing sugar, for dusting
Equipment
Non-stick baking sheet and small cookie cutter


1.
Heat your oven to 170°C.

2. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, add the butter cubes and rub it all together with your fingers until the mixture looks like crumbs and all the buttery lumps are broken up. Stir in the baking powder and sugar.

3. Pour the milk and vanilla extract into the bowl, scatter in the lemon zest, then stir with a wooden spoon to gently bring the ingredients together without splashing. Once the mixture stops being gloopy, put the spoon down and get your hands involved, working the scone-mix first in the bowl, then taking it out and gently pummelling and pushing it on a floured worktop until it becomes a smooth dough that you can roll into a ball.

4. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough ball until it’s about 2.5cm thick. Press the cookie cutter into its midst, twisting very slightly to lift out the circle of dough. Repeat as many times as possible until you’re left with just remnants, then gather these up and work them back together with your hands. Roll out again to the same thickness and cut out more scones. For the final scone, it’s easier to press the last few bits of dough into the cutter and mould into shape.

5. Whisk the egg yolk in a little bowl and brush it generously over the scones before you arrange them on the baking sheet (otherwise eggy drips get all over the tray and burn in the oven). Bake the scones for 15 minutes. They will rise up and the top will turn golden. A couple of mine even split open across the top in authentic scone fashion. Remove them from the oven and transfer off the hot sheet on to a rack or a cooler surface.

6. When the scones are totally cool, sift icing sugar over the top. Or, better, you could finish them with a sharp lemony glaze, made by squeezing fresh lemon juice into icing sugar and mixing until thick and just a tiny bit runny. Drizzle it all over them and leave until set.

I ate mine with jam and crème fraîche (although a few disappeared whole; a single accidental mouthful) but I reckon lemon curd would be really good on them. Whipped cream, too. Final piece of advice: consider doubling all the quantities. You need more of these in your life.

(Source: Adapted from an Andrew Nutter recipe.)

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