Sunday, 29 July 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've been enjoying the cooler weather this weekend and took the opportunity to try out a few more recipes from A Passion for Baking. I'm really enjoying this book as you can tell and every recipe has turned out wonderful and gone down a treat. I love baking cookies and have my favourite but my love of baking includes trying out new recipes. These cookies jumped out from the page and screamed, "bake me", so I couldn't resist! They were easy to make and the end result is a yummy soft and chewy cookie, with gorgeous chunks of chocolate nuggets.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

200g unsalted butter, softened
200g light soft brown sugar
125g demerara sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
400g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
200g dark chocolate chunks

You will also need 2-3 baking trays covered with baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 170oC/150oC fan oven/325oF/gas mark 3.

Cream the butter and both of the sugars together in a free-standing machine until pale, light and fluffy.

Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, add the vanilla extract and mix again.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt into the bowl and mix again until thoroughly combined. Fold the chocolate chunks into the cookie dough.

Use either an ice-cream scoop or large spoon (I used my hands and rolled them into balls) to scoop the dough into even-sized mounds. Place 3-4 cookies on each baking tray, allowing plenty of space between each cookie as they will spread during cooking.

Bake the cookies in batches on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and sharply bang the baking tray on the work surface to deflate the cookies, then return to the oven for a further 5-7 minutes until pale golden brown.

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking trays for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks until cold. 

Friday, 27 July 2012

Raspberry Torte

Finally looks like summer has arrived in the UK after weeks of constant rain, although I have to admit I find the heat draining and makes me so lethargic. I've really been enjoying my latest cookbook purchase, A Passion for Baking and have tried quite a few recipes, which I plan to blog along the way. One of the recipes was this beautiful Raspberry Torte, which seemed like the perfect summery cake to make and enjoy for afternoon tea in the garden. It's moist and full of flavour with burst of raspberry and tastes even better the next day.

Raspberry Torte

Serves 8

150g self-raising flour
150g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
2 large eggs, beaten
150g fresh raspberries, plus extra to serve
icing sugar to dust

You will also need a 23cm cake tin, buttered and the base lined with a disc of buttered baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 180oc/160oc fan oven/350oF/gas mark 4.

Tip the flour, soft butter, sugar, ground almonds and eggs into a bowl and beat together until pale, light and fluffy.

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and spread level with a palette knife. Push the raspberries, pointy side up, into the batter.

Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 1 hour, checking the cake after 45 minutes and covering it loosely with foil once it has browned to prevent the top colouring too much.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then transfer the torte to a cooling rack until cold. Scatter with extra raspberries and dust with icing sugar to serve.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Blueberry Muffin Loaf

It's been a while since I treated myself to a new cookbook and I thought it was time to add to my collection. I read great reviews on Jo Wheatley's "A Passion for Baking" and so I headed to Sainsburys to buy a copy. Jo was the winner of The Great British Bake Off in 2011 and her book is testament to why she won. I love this book, it has so many wonderful delicious recipes, that I can't wait to try. I decided to make the Blueberry Muffin Loaf as my first recipe. This lovely loaf with it's moist sponge is bursting with flavours and textures and it's definitely a must bake! Watch this space for more recipes from this must have book.

 Blueberry Muffin Loaf

25g plain flour
20g unsalted butter, diced
20g caster sugar

200g self-raising flour, sieved
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g soft brown sugar
50g caster sugar
70g unsalted butter, melted
160ml full-fat milk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
130g blueberries

You will need a greased 900g/2lb loaf tin, the base and ends lined with a strip of buttered baking parchment.

Preheat the oven 180oC/160oc fan oven/gas mark 4.

Make the topping first. Tip the flour, butter and sugar into a bowl and, using your fingers rub the butter into the flour until it resembles a crumble mixture. Alternatively you can do what I do and add the ingredients a food processor and pulse.

To make the loaf, sieve the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl, add both of the sugars and mix well.

Melt the butter, leave to cool slightly and then mix with the milk, egg and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk and egg mixture. Using a large metal spoon, fold the two mixtures together until only just combined. Fold the blueberries into the mixture, making sure not to overmix the batter as this will result in a heavy sponge.

Carefully spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, scatter over the crumble topping and bae on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until golden, well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Revisited Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf Cake

This loaf cake evokes fond memories of my dearest friend Jules who sadly passed away a few years ago. This was a recipe we all baked as one of our monthly group events at "Sweet and Simple Bakes", a baking blog Jules and I ran together. I sometimes like to bake her recipes as a way of remembering her and what a fantastic baker she was. This Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf Cake is certainly a testament to the amazing cakes Jules baked. The sponge is fluffy, light and very moist, with the chocolate and orange blending together perfectly! If you find the orange/chocolate combo irresistible, then this is a “must” bake!!

Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf Cake

For The cake
175g (6 oz) softened butter
175g (6 oz) caster (super fine) sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
175g (6 oz) self-raising flour, sifted
2 tbsp milk

For The Orange Syrup
Juice of 1 orange
100g (4 oz) granulated sugar

For The Topping
50g (2 oz) dark chocolate or milk chocolate – your choice
Sprinkles of choice (optional)

You will need a 900g (2 lb) loaf tin – greased with a little butter and lined with greaseproof paper or non-stick baking paper.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

In a mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar and beat together until light and fluffy in appearance. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well until fully incorporated. Add the orange zest, flour and milk and fold in gently with a spatula or large metal spoon. Turn into the prepared tin, smooth the top of the mixture and bake in the oven on middle shelf 35 -45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. When cool make little holes in the cake with a skewer, (this is important for pouring the syrup onto the cake to ensure the syrup soaks in fully.)

For The Orange Syrup
Put the orange juice and granulated sugar into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil for a couple of minutes. Pour over the top of the cake. When all the juice has soaked in, carefully remove the cake from the tin.

For The Topping
Melt the chocolate by placing a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Once the chocolate has melted, pour over the top of the cake. Either smooth the top over with a spatula or make a little pattern with the prongs of a fork. Add sprinkles if desired, leave chocolate to set before cutting into the cake.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Red Berry and White Chocolate Muffins

These lovely muffins are from Make Bake Love, a book I have baked and enjoyed lots of recipes from. Although as I've said previously there seems to be quite a few typos and the baking times are off. For example these muffins needed extra time in the oven as they weren't golden enough after 20 minutes. Despite that minor glitch these muffins were divine and I love the idea of using frozen berries as they don't break up while mixing into the batter. They went down very well with hubby and didn't last long!

Red Berry and White Chocolate Muffins

Makes 12 small muffins

225g plain flour
1tbsp baking powder
75g caster sugar
1 egg
150ml milk
40ml sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
160g frozen red berries
70g white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 190oC/170oC fan. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Sieve the flour and baking powder together in a bowl, then stir in the sugar.

Whisk the egg, milk, oil and vanilla together in a jug. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix gently. Fold in the berries and the chocolate chips.

Use an ice cream scoop or spoon to divide the batter evenly amongst the muffin cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and risen. Remove the muffins from the tin and allow to cool on a rack.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Nutty Chicken Curry

For dinner this evening Nutty Chicken Curry was on the menu. I am enjoying trying new recipes and this is another I had bookmarked to try which I tweaked, adding more stock and using fat free Greek yoghurt. Hubby and I loved this flavoursome creamy curry. For those of you worried about whether it is too spicy, the peanut butter and yoghurt combine well to soften the spiciness. Next time I will use crunchy peanut butter to add more texture to the curry and make it more nutty!

Nutty Chicken Curry

Serves 4

1 large red chilli, deseeded
1/2 finger-length piece ginger, roughly chopped
1 fat garlic clove
small bunch of coriander, stalks roughly chopped
1 tbsp sunflower oil (I used olive oil)
4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
5 tbsp peanut butter
150ml chicken stock (I added more stock, 350ml)
200g Greek yogurt (I used low fat)
cooked rice, to serve

Finely slice a quarter of the chilli, then put the rest in a food processor with the ginger, garlic, coriander stalks and one-third of the leaves. Whizz to a rough paste with a splash of water, if needed.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, then quickly brown the chicken for 1 min. Stir in the paste for 1 min more, then add the peanut butter, stock and yogurt. When the sauce is gently bubbling, cook for 10 mins until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Stir in most of the remaining coriander, then scatter the rest on top with the chilli. Serve with rice.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Garlic Chilli Prawns with Sesame Noodles

My revitalised life style continues with regular sessions at the gym and healthy eating and I am starting to see great results. I've decided to get back to weekly meal planning as a way of trying out new recipes and providing material to blog about. I still plan on blogging bakes as frequently as my hubby can get through them. This delicious garlic chilli prawns with sesame noodles is a quick and easy low calorie meal that was thoroughly enjoyed by hubby and me. Definitely one we will enjoy again!

Garlic Chilli Prawns with Sesame Noodles

Serves 4

250g medium egg noodles
1 tbsp sesame oil, plus extra to serve (optional)
1 tbsp groundnut oil
bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced lengthways
300g bag beansprouts
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
400g raw peeled tiger prawns
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce

Cook the noodles following pack instructions, then rinse with cold water and drain. Toss with 1 tsp of the sesame oil.

Heat 2 tsp of the groundnut oil in a non-stick wok. Stir-fry most of the spring onions and all the beansprouts for a couple of mins until tender. Add the noodles and warm through. Stir through the remaining sesame oil and tip out of the wok onto a serving dish.

Carefully wipe out the wok and add the remaining groundnut oil. Toss in the garlic and chilli, and cook for 10 secs. Pop in the prawns and stir-fry for a couple of mins until they have just turned pink. Stir in the sugar and soy, then bubble until the sugar has melted and prawns are cooked through. Spoon on top of the noodles and sprinkle with the remaining spring onions. Add an extra drizzle of sesame oil, if you like.