TRIPLE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES: Fit For a Princess

Chocolate & Sparkles: Brownies fit for a celebration!!!!!
Chocolate & Sparkles: Brownies fit for a celebration!!!!!

Hi there. How are you today? Me, well it’s one of those days where I’m sitting or laying down (millions of things I want to do, but my body isn’t having any if it!), so I can chat to you – via Blogging.

I do hope you enjoy my musings, memories & recipes?

I’ve spoken a lot about the pleasure I get from sharing the food that I have made.  Also I have found that, not only are you lovely people who read my blog, enjoying the recipes, but they are inspiring you to ‘have a go’. That’s FANTASTIC & thank you.

What I love about anything that I cook myself is, I know absolutely EVERYTHING that is going into the recipe, which ultimately means, I know, as a family I KNOW what we are putting into our bodies. I am sometimes horrified by the list of ingredients, if I’m tempted to buy a nice crusty loaf from my local supermarket, I read the ingredients & any desire I may have felt to pop the item into my trolley vanishes.

Please DO NOT be under the impression that I’m a complete Puritan when it comes to food, or anything else for that matter, I absolutely AM NOT!!!!

I’m happy to occasionally order a pizza, Indian, Chinese – gasp, horror – very occasional McDonalds!!!!! I’m a relatively normal mum, wife, slightly scatty woman. My family may disagree with the ‘relatively normal’ part!!!

I love humour & recently reduced our gorgeous, soon to be 12 years old, son to tears – from laughter (no need to call Childline just yet!!) whilst recounting a story from my past. His gorgeous freakly face, bright red, with tears spilling over his cheeks, laughing uncontrollably. A precious moment that will be always remembered. And it was whilst we were all sitting round the table, eating dinner – FEASTING & HAVING FUN!!

What I do find when I eat out, or order in, is that my brain goes into overdrive. Whilst munching I’m already thinking of ways to improve, change, add to, whatever food I am enjoying at that moment.

I suppose at the heart of everything I cook/bake is a desire to do better. If I can buy a cake in a shop, that is nice, good or even really great: I want to firstly be able to recreate the cake & then improve it until it is WONDERFUL. I am the same with all foods & recipes, including my own!

I have a wonderful family, one exceptionally special friend (who is ‘officially’ my quality control ‘taste tester’) and a group of friends who I know will give me HONEST feedback – which, for me is SO IMPORTANT. I am my worse critic! Always fiddling with recipes to see if I can improve just a little bit more! Very occasionally I will try a recipe & it’s so fantastic I never, ever deviate. An example if this is my annual Christmas Cake Recipe. I’ve made it every year for at least 15 years & it works. So the only things that are ever changed are the icing and decorations!!!!

Anyhow time to stop waffling and share the Sparkly, Triple Chocolate Brownies:

YOU WILL NEED:

2 x   6″x 8″ foil containers (with lids)

10oz  Dark Brown Sugar

5oz  Unsalted Butter

2oz  Cocoa Powder

5oz  Plain White Flour

1/4 tsp.  Salt (I use Kosher – no additives)

1tsp  Baking Soda

1tsp  Vanilla Extract (I use Madagascan vanilla extract by Nelson Massey)

4  Large Eggs at room temp (preferably FREE RANGE – happy chickens lay better eggs!!)

6oz  Milk Chocolate – chopped into chunks

4oz  White Chocolate – melted for drizzling over the top

Silver Dragee Ball, Edible Glitter or whatever Edible Sparkly Sprinkles you wish to use.

PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 180C (165C fan oven).

Firstly melt the butter, either in a large microwaveable bowl or large saucepan. Whichever you use this will become the mixing bowl for the entire Brownie batter.

Add the brown sugar to the melted butter. Mix thoroughly until both are combined.

Now add the salt & cocoa powder. Mix thoroughly – if you add the cocoa now, before adding the flour, it incorporates into the butter/sugar mixture very easily.

Next add the flour & bicarbonate of soda. Mix thoroughly (I use a wooden spoon), it takes a couple of minutes to completely incorporate all the ingredients.

Lightly beat the eggs together in a jug & add the vanilla.

When the flour mixture is cool enough to touch add the egg/vanilla mixture & beat into the flour mixture.  Be patient it does take a little time for the wet & dry to combine. You will be left with a fairly runny Brownie batter.

Pour half of the batter into one foil container, then pour the other half into the other container. If you are using one container pour all the batter in.

Tap the containers a couple of times against the work top. This brings any air bubbles to the surface: REMEMBER BROWNIES SHOULD BE DENSE & FUDGEY NOT LIGHT & AIRY LIKE CAKES.

Sprinkle the chopped milk chocolate evenly over the top of the brownie batter. Then using your fingers or a fork gently push the chocolate into the batter. Lick your fingers, then wash your hands!!!!!

Bake in the preheated oven for 12-18 mins for the smaller containers: 20-25 mins if using a larger container.

As all ovens vary, the Brownies are cooked when they are set around the edge & on top, but still have a little wobble in the middle.

Remove from the oven & allow the Brownies to fully cool in their container.

Once cooled get creative!!! Melt the white chocolate (I microwave for approx 30 secs, then stir thoroughly until I have smooth melted chocolate. Or you can place the white chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a simmering saucepan of water – ensuring the bowl doesn’t touch the water- stir constantly as white chocolate is the easiest to overheat!).

Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cooled brownies. Then adorn with silver balls, edible glitter or whatever you have chosen.

You can never have too many sparkles!!!!
You can never have too many sparkles!!!!

Allow the chocolate to set then cut up the brownies in the dish. The size is up to you!!!!

Share these very special Brownies with friends & family.

Watch the smiles on their faces get all chocolatey!!!!!!

And remember SHARING & FEASTING IS FUN!!!


 

Sammie x

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

What a feast we had!!

If I were a fairy, this cake would be my home xx
If I were a fairy, this cake would be my home xx

Hi there. I really do hope that you are having a good day? If not I hope tomorrow is better for you.

As for me, eldest daughter is having  a sleepover tonight with some friends. So of  course we’ve had plenty of fun and feasting- although  how much sleep is had tonight I can only guess at!!

They are all lovely girls and all four of their birthdays are near each other, so I thought it would be nice to make them all a special cupcake,

Sharing their birthday celebrations together, with a pretty cupcake tower
Sharing their birthday celebrations together, with a pretty cupcake tower!!

Now before I get into the feasting frivolities, I feel it is necessary to share with you my love of fairy lights. They add such sparkle to a room. With one flick of the switch a nice room becomes a magical party room. And they make me smile, especially when I see them reflected in a mirror. It’s like an extra bonus (buy one get one free!!!). I feel so much better having shared that as it will help to further explain my other love……

Sparkles, whether it is a shimmering, sun lit sea scape, or a harsh overnight frost followed by a sun lit, clear blue sky. The way the ice crystals sparkle under the bright low sun  & spiders webs, beautifully defined by the ice crystals, look like something straight out of an Enid Blyton fairy story.

But sparkles, although enchanting in nature, can also be used to turn a pretty cupcake, into a spectacular one. I’m talking edible glitter here people & the world – my world – loves to sprinkle a little glitter whenever the occasion allows ( I satisfy myself with a daily application of sparkly lip gloss – & I’m happy about that!!).  Christmas (as well as properly remembering & giving thanks to God for the birth of his son Jesus) sees me in my element, totally immersed in fairy lights, tinsel, baubles & pots & pots of glitter – edible or otherwise.

Anyhow back to this blog! Here’s a couple of photos of the vanilla & chocolate cupcakes (I’m proud of the restraint I showed whilst decorating them!!!!

Chocolate, but sparkly & classy!!
Chocolate, but sparkly & classy!!

So I made a couple of pizzas (thank you Mr Bread machine), some coleslaw, garlic bread – with fresh Thyme – my fav so far, well today, baked oven potato wedges, cocktail sausages & sausage rolls ( the last 3 cooked from a packet – I know my limits!!), added a couple of dips, crisps & crudités & the feast was complete. The hungry teenagers got stuck in!!

Many hands make pizza disappear quickly!!!!
Many hands make pizza disappear quickly!!!!

And I’m not sure I have ever heard so much laughter, seen such happy faces or seen pizza disappear quite so quickly. It made me glad and thankful.

Thankful that I am married to a man who loves me sooo deeply, flaws an all. Thankful that we have 3 beautiful, loving, caring & thoughtful children. The BEST family anyone could ever hope for & secure in the knowledge that we are loved by the best man who ever walked this earth, Jesus.

He is our strength & our refuge. It is only by being full up & constantly refilled with His unending love that we can deal with daily challenges & still smile. Thank you Lord.

I hope that you too know my friend Jesus, He IS the smile that lives in my heart.

If you don’t know Him & the Vast love & forgiveness He has for you, please leave a comment & I will get back to you with more info?

Thank you for taking time to read my blog. I’m not very tech savvy & everything I have written & photographed on my phone!!!!

Until next time, & I say this as much to myself as you, try to react in a kind, considerate way the next time someone puts an obstacle in your path & if you can smile through it, all the better xx

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello there, if you love peanuts, chocolate and cookies this is the recipe for you!!!  I’m in serious trouble – literally – I made the mistake (cos it was on offer – I’m shallow  & I’m good with it!!!) of ordering, Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream. Nuf said! So I made these Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Double Peanut and Chocolate Chip Cookies!
Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Well maybe not!! But it’s soooo scrummy. I know I mentioned about having more of a savoury tooth, well, peanut butter is savoury. Funny thing is I’m not actually a ‘get a spoon & eat it outta the jar’ crazy fan of Peanut Butter! But when you mix it with something sweet, like in Cookies with a generous sprinkle of Chocolate Chips/Chunks- ooooh – it’s seriously good.  Same goes for Chocolate covered Peanuts and Snickers bars!  I mean, for all my chat about sharing, I confess, I hid the Peanut Butter Cup ice cream in the back of the freezer & whilst I’m in confessional mood, just to doubly make sure, I bought my 3 not so lil ones, their fav ice cream so they wouldn’t take mine.

Such a bad, bad mother – yet I feel no guilt!!!!

Now I’m sad cos the tub is empty. I’m going to be working on a homemade version – but meantime I had a revelation : Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies.

 

A thing of beauty - well to me anyway!!!!!
Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies – where’s my cuppa?

Oh yes people – I did not fail you (or me). Even my daughter Snugs (nickname didn’t want you to think I was completely nuts – she loves her real name Sparkle, Twinkle, Tooth Fairy!!!).

This is one of my favourite made up Cookie recipes in like, EVER!

Recipe : Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies makes 25-35

You will need 2 baking sheets lined with Parchment Paper

160g/5 oz Caster Sugar

225g/8 oz Unsalted Butter – room temperature

1 x Egg Yolk (pref free range) at room temperature

1 tsp Vanilla Extract I use Nielsen-Massey

1/4 tsp Salt I use Maldon

3 tbsp  Smooth Peanut Butter

275g/10 oz Plain White Flour

100g/4 oz Milk Chocolate Chips (or chunks) plus approx 1 oz extra for topping

100g/4 oz Peanut Butter Chips ( I use Reece’s – bought online)

Method :

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan, gas mark 4

First of all, place the sugar & butter into a large bowl (or bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment), using either an electric whisk or vigorous effort with a wooden spoon (for those of you who are watching your diet, A : This probably isn’t the recipe for you or B:  You will feel less guilty later on when eating the cookie – that is if you haven’t fallen asleep on the sofa due to over exertion!!!).

This beating (or creaming) lark is actually very important – not quite sure why – not sure I even care!! What I do know is that if you, in the words of MJ himself “Beat it, beat it”,  until it is pale yellow & fluffy, then the finished cookie is much, much better.

Next add the egg, vanilla extract, peanut butter, salt and resume beating, with your preferred method and background music of choice!

Ready to be whipped!
Ready to be whipped!

When all the above ingredients are beautifully mixed, add the flour, peanut chips & chocolate chips/chunks. Using only a spoon (wooden or otherwise), gently combine all the ingredients, slowly stirring them together – if using a stand mixer, mix on slow, with the paddle a attachment until everything is just combined.

I was not paid by Reece's to advertise their product!!
I was not paid by Reece’s to advertise their product!!
If you can't stop yourself eating this straight from the bowl, that fine - there will be fewer cookies to bake though!!! Don't say I didn't warn you!!!!
If you can’t stop yourself eating this straight from the bowl, that fine – there will be fewer cookies to bake though!!! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!!!

Using a teaspoon & clean hands remove a large teaspoonful of mixture and roll gently into a ball – approx 1 inch across & place on the lined baking sheet. Continue as above until you have 16 balls, 8 evenly spaced apart on each sheet.

Ready to be squished!!
Ready to be squished!!

Now comes the fun bit ( if you liked making mud pies in the diet when you were younger, you’re gonna lurve this!). Place a few 5-8 choc chips/chunks in your hand, remove a ball from the baking sheet, place it on top of the extra chocolate in you hand & squish down. You want the cookies to be about 1 1/2 – 2″ across. Repeat with remaining balls until you have 16 super chocolately topped cookies, on the baking sheets begging to be cooked.

Put me in the oven NOW!!!
Put me in the oven NOW!!!

Make sure the cookies are evenly spaced apart as they will spread a bit more during cooking.

Place both sheets into the preheated oven. Start to check if they’re done after 10 minutes. DON’T TOUCH! Since these cookies harden up as they cool, once baked they should have a lovely golden brown colour. In my oven these take about 13-15 minutes to cook.

A thing of beauty - well to me anyway!!!!!
Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies. A thing of beauty – well to me anyway!!!!!

Remove the sheets from the oven & allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets completely, or if you are very careful transfer the parchment paper, with the cookies on to a cooling rack – the cookies will still be very soft & you run the risk of breaking a few this way (as I did earlier today!).

With the remaining dough you can either bake the rest of the cookies, rolling into balls & cooking on fresh parchment paper, as before, or you can place the dough onto cling film, form it into a log, wrap tightly & refrigerate for up to 4 days, or double wrap & freeze for up to a month. Defrost the frozen cookie log overnight in the fridge & then with either log, remove from the fridge for 15 minutes before slicing into discs & baking as before.

Cookie dough log, ready for fridge or freezer.
Cookie dough log, ready for fridge or freezer.

Ooh I bet two of the cooked disc shaped Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies with the ice cream sandwiched in the middle would be scrumptious, messy & definitely something to share with friends & family alike!!!

One of my bestest friends in the whole wide world is on holiday at the mo! She’s gonna love me so much more when she tastes one of these!!

Ooh yummy, cuppa coffee and cookies
Ooh yummy, cuppa coffee and cookies

 

If you have enjoyed the recipe for these Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies then you may also like these:

Cherry Bakewell Cookies

FF Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cherry Bakewell Cookies

Chocolate Heart Cookies

FF Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Heart Cookies

Monster Mint Chocolate Cookies

FF Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Monster Mint Chocolate Cookies

 

Just to be clear, I’m not seeking applause, just a smile! Knowing I’ve put a lil smile in someone’s heart makes me feel loved & all soft & squishy inside. Try it – cos it’s a really nice feeling.

Until next time have fun, feast and give thanks for all the opportunities that are about to come your way when you start to share. It’s so much FUN!

Sammie xx

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

Spicy Sausage & Bean Casserole

 

Tastes Scrummy & Is So Good For You As Well!!!!!
Tastes Scrummy & Is So Good For You As Well!!!!!


We are a family of 5 and not only is this casserole really easy to make, it only requires 1 packet of sausages, so this makes a very economical – not to mention TASTY meal. Served with thick slices of RUSTIC WHOLEMEAL PUMPKIN SEED BREAD – for mopping up the juices!

But before we get on with the recipe, I wanted to share my thoughts about something: I Love Autumn (or Fall as it’s called in the States). Don’t get me wrong I love Summer, infact, I confess, I love all the seasons. Much as the glorious, unending sunshine places like California portray, I simply love the change in seasons we enjoy in England. Indeed throughout the entire United Kingdom.

There is something about, at first, the almost subtle change in weather, usually towards the end of August/beginning of September where I live. The deep, deep green of the leaves on the trees, the rustle as the wind blows through the drying out leaves. Followed by the gorgeous change, through deepest red to fiery orange and a last nod to the daily lowering of the sun in the sky, as the leaves turn yellow. The confetti like fluttering of the leaves on a blowy day. The ravages of an adorned tree, ripped overnight of its leafy covering, by a violent storm.

I love sunshine, even on a clear, frosty, winters day. There is something to be said though for darker, rain & wind filled days, snuggled up on the sofa, the smell of a spicy casserole, gently bubbling away in the oven. AND puddings!!! They are more wanted, some may say needed during the colder months.

Although I love sunshine (& believe me if during the deepest, darkest months, I was to win a holiday somewhere warm with blue seas I WOULD NOT turn it down!!!!!), I fear that I would miss the change in seasons if I lived somewhere where summer was never ending.

Now to the recipe: it is truly my creation, although some who have tasted it say it resembles a Cassoulet! All I know is, it’s quick to put together, tastes yummy & makes the meat (good sausages) go a long way. Oh & there’s only 1 pot to wash up! Winner all round.

This recipe serves 5, however just add an extra tin of beans & it will easily stretch to six people.

You will need a large ( 4 litre) ovenproof casserole dish, or bigger if making for more than 6 people.

Preheat the oven to 175C.

1 large onion – chopped into small dice

1 Aubergine – chopped into 1/2″ cubes

1 packet good quality sausages (usually 1lb or 450g) each sausage chopped into 4 pieces.

2 tins (2 x 400g) of chopped tomatoes

1 tin (400g) baked beans

2 tins (2 x 400g) butter beans – strained & rinsed with cold water

4 individual bulbs of garlic – minced

1 chilli (or 1tsp chilli flakes) finely chopped

1/2 bottle of red wine ( or 100ml Port – any type except Tawny)

2 tbs tomato puree

Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to season.

Place the onion, aubergine & sausages in the casserole dish & pour over the red wine or Port.

A good glug of Port!!!
A good glug of Port!!!

Add both tins of tomatoes, then half fill each tin with cold water, swirl around so that you get all of the tomato juices left inside the tin & pour into the casserole dish. Add the baked beans & swirl with water as before, pouring into the dish, then add the rinsed butter beans.

Add the minced garlic, chilli, 1tsp of sea salt (1/2tsp if using free flowing salt) & a good grinding of black pepper.

Mix the tomato purée with half a tin of water & pour over the casserole ingredients. Now mix all the ingredients together, I use 2 wooden spoons.

If needed add more cold water until all the ingredients are just covered with liquid. Making sure there is still a good inch between the liquid & the top of the casserole dish. If there isn’t, don’t worry, either pour the entire content into a larger dish, or split the ingredients between 2 casserole dishes (the final casserole shrinks – so can be combined at the end, if you wish to serve this at the table!).

Place the lid (or cover tightly with tin foil) onto the dish & place into the oven.

Leave at 175C for 1/2 hour then reduce the heat to 150C. Leave for 3 hours. Check & top up with recently boiled water so that the ingredients are just covered with liquid again. You can also check the seasoning & add more salt/pepper to taste.

Clamp on lid (or foil) & return to the oven for 2 more hours. You can repeat the liquid adding throughout the day, the longer this casserole cooks the better it tastes!

However it will be ready after 5 1/2 hours. I serve this in bowls with a large loaf of bread cut into thick slices, with butter on the table for those who prefer their bread buttered.

And enjoy!! Sit around eating, chatting, sharing & enjoying the food & company. Remembering to dunk the thick slices of bread into the juices.

Crusty, Crunchy, Robust Bread - IDEAL FOR DUNKING!!!!!!
Crusty, Crunchy, Robust Bread – IDEAL FOR DUNKING!!!!!!

 

I really would advise using good (not cheap, pale sausages – as they will not hold their shape during the long cooking process & you will end up with a very oily casserole) sausages – I use GRAIG FARM ORGANIC  sausages. I have used pork, turkey & chicken sausages &they all work beautifully in this casserole.

REMEMBER YOU ARE ONLY USING 1 PACKET OF SAUSAGES TO FEED UP TO 6 PEOPLE!

You can easily make a vegetarian dish by omitting the sausages and adding an extra aubergine!

I have successfully feed 14 people by doubling the ingredients (& using a whole bottle of red wine).  I haven’t found anyone yet who has disliked this dish!

It also has the added bonus of being very low fat & high in fibre & I prefer wholemeal bread for the dunking, it stands up to the robust flavour of the casserole.

If you are cooking for a smaller number of people it is worth knowing that this dish freezes fantastically well.

My favourite memories of eating this dish are from a holiday in Devon where I was cooking for our hosts, more people were added to the guest list throughout the day & we all sat round a huge farmhouse kitchen table, elbow to elbow, relaxing in each other’s company whilst bread was passed around.

GOOD TIMES WITH GOOD FRIENDS = A RECIPE FOR GOOD MEMORIES.

See feasting really is fun!!!!!

Until next time have fun feasting.

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

Still Smiling!!!

This Cosmos makes me smile!!
This Cosmos makes me smile!!

Good morning – well it is for me.  Well better than yesterday.

Yesterday I had a migraine (which I get frequently, too frequently). I spent the day burying my head in pillows in a pitch dark room, in horrendous pain & fighting nausea. Not nice.

But today I’m feeling a bit better, I keep having to rewrite parts of this blog, as after a migraine it’s like all the wiring in my head goes wrong. I say & write words, out of order, back to front or just draw a complete blank. But the fact that I can tolerate some light, see out of both eyes (I lose sight in one or both eyes) & don’t feel nauseous is definitely a good thing. So I’m smiling!!! That’s me!! Always looking on the positive side of life.

As I’ve shown, life can be tough – in fact I also have other conditions which severely inhibit what I can do on any given day. Does it get me down? Yes! Have I had to learn ways of dealing with the restrictions, pain etc – yes!!

I always try to focus on something positive that has happened that day – a snuggle with my babies (I refer to my children as my babies a lot. I’m good with that & they are too!), a cry with my hubby (it’s good to let things out & not hold them in). My husband comforts & loves me like no other person on this beautiful planet & I love him to bits. Just knowing that he chose me, married me & stays with me through good times & difficult ones makes me smile.

So no, life’s not always easy but I have a lot to smile about. I have a wonderful family. I’m loved. I have true friends who love & accept me as I am. I also have Faith – the cornerstone of all I am.

My total belief in Jesus, my Lord & Saviour , who loves & accepts me just as I am is who I lean on. I celebrate life because of Him. He is the permanent smile in my heart.

All the love & sharing that I have comes from Him.  Until next time, keep smiling & sharing xx

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

Super Easy Shortbread Cookies.

Hello again. I’m really enjoying this blogging lark, I hope you are enjoying my thoughts & recipes too? Please leave a comment if you try any? I’d love to hear how you got on. So let me bring you my Super Easy Shortbread Cookies.

Today’s the day…..all the children back at school. My mind is buzzing with all the possibilities that today holds! All the things I put off during the summer hols to spend time with our 11, 13 & 15 year old children.

I love having them home, they all get along pretty well (not bad for 2 older girls & my boy!) & I shall miss their music/chatter/mess… Well maybe not the mess. But they do fill our home with energy & fun. Still tomorrow is the weekend, so today I shall enjoy the peace knowing chaos is only a day away.

Hmmm there’s jam to be made, not really in the mood for that, tidying – but it’ll only need doing again on Monday!! Cookies! I have nothing really against shop bought biccies but you really can’t beat homemade & these are a doddle!!

SUPER EASY SHORTBREAD COOKIES

You will need :

2 x baking sheets with parchment paper on them.

Cling film (I’ll explain later!)

Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature : it really makes a difference.

Recipe:

5 oz Caster Sugar (plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling on top)

8 oz Unsalted Butter

1 tsp Vanilla Paste, or 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 tsp Salt (I use Kosher Salt)

1 Egg Yolk (I use large free range eggs

8 oz Plain White Flour

2 oz Corn Starch

Method:

Place butter & 5 oz sugar into a bowl (if using stand mixer use the paddle attachment). The next part is going to be much easier (but not impossible!) if you have an electric mixer, or stand mixer. Whisk or beat (using a wooden spoon) until the mixture is very pale yellow. Now mix in the egg yolk & vanilla paste/extract. Sift in the flour, salt & corn starch. Mix thoroughly, but gently until all the ingredients are combined. Now take a big, deep breath. The smell is scrummy & will help you recognise later when the Super Easy Shortbread Cookies are nearly cooked!

Set the mixture to one side so that you have a clear work top in front of you. You will need a clear 2 ft of space in front of you. Wipe this space with a clean, slightly wet, dish cloth. Taking the clung film unwrap about 12 inches, laying it over the damp work surface as you do so. Magically the cling will lay flat & not become a tangled mess!!!!

Place half of your cookie dough on the cling film in a rough log shape. Using your hands & the cling mould the dough into a log, with a diameter of approx 1 1/2″. Wrap tightly making sure the cookie dough is as even as possible along the log.

Dump half the dough out onto the cling film...
Dump half the dough out onto the cling film…
Using the sides of the cling, alternately shape into a rough log...
Using the sides of the cling, alternately shape into a rough log…

Carefully transfer this to the fridge laying it on a flat surface (the dough will still be quite squishy – I usually lay it lengthways across my palm!). Repeat this process with the rest of the cookie dough. Leave the dough to rest & harden up for at least 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 180C (165C fan oven) just before you remove the cookie dough log from the fridge.

Remove 1 log from the fridge & leave to warm slightly for 5 minutes (I find leaving it for this time makes the dough easier to cut & not crack!). Using a sharp knife cut regular discs approx 1/4″ (1/2cm) wide. You should end up with 6-10 cookie discs. Place these on the parchment paper lined baking sheets, making sure there is at least 1″ gap each way between the discs.

Cut the through the dough log with a sharp knife - don't make the slices too thin as the cookies will spread on baking.
Cut the through the dough log with a sharp knife – don’t make the slices too thin as the cookies will spread on baking.

Sprinkle each cookie with a little sugar,  reserving half of the sugar for a final sprinkle over the shortbread cookies once they are baked.

I can only fit 2 baking sheets in my domestic oven & leave the other dough log in the fridge, tightly wrapped for up to 4 days. The logs can also be frozen, tightly wrapped in a double layer of cling film for up to one month.

Bake the Super Easy Shortbread Cookies for 8-15 minutes (it really does depend on how thick you have cut the discs & your oven).

When you start to smell the scrumptious buttery, vanilla smell it’s time to check on your cookies. DON’T PROD THEM – however tempting!!!! They will still be soft & firm up on cooling. These cookies are cooked when they turn a light golden colour. Remove from the oven, careful they are hot!

Leaving the cookies on the baking tray give them a final sprinkle of sugar & leave to cool completely.   Once cool place in an air tight container (I use a large, clip lid Kilner jar, as the sugar makes them sparkly & I like to show them off!!!!!). If you can wait they actually taste better the next day – but who am I kidding?

Yummy - someone put the kettle on? Now where's Polly when you need her?????
Yummy – someone put the kettle on? Now where’s Polly when you need her????? Super Easy Shortbread Cookies.

Pop the kettle on & try one, just to make sure they’re ok!!!    These cookies travel well & I like to pop some in cellophane bags tied with pretty ribbon & pass them onto friends & family. They are also scrummy when shared with a close friend over a cuppa & a heart to heart.

REMEMBER FOOD ALWAYS TASTES BETTER WHEN ITS SHARED!

For lemon shortbread add 1 tsp of finely grated lemon zest to the sugar/butter mixture. I only use Vanilla Extract NOT paste when I make lemon shortbread – I find the vanilla bean paste competes with the lemon flavour. Mix, prepare dough logs, bake & store as above.
JUST A QUICK NOTE: I have found that, when I want to bake some more Super Easy Shortbread Cookies, it’s better to remove the dough log from the fridge 15-30mins (depending how warm the air is. After letting them warm slightly not only are they much easier to slice ( a small serrated knife is good for this), but they are also much less prone to cracking, splitting, falling apart, than if you try to cut them when they are fridge cold!!! I learnt the hard way!!!!

Until next time happy baking & have fun feasting.

Sammie x

 

 

.

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Hi, thanks for stopping by. I have a scrumptious Lemon Drizzle Cake recipe to share with you.

Lemon Drizzle Cake with a thicker, lemon icing - mmm yummy!
Lemon Drizzle Cake with a thicker, lemon icing – mmm yummy!  This was made for my brother-in-laws birthday!

 

Phew the last few days have whizzed by. It’s September already, children back to school, veggies all ripening at same time, late summer flowers blooming their socks off, making my garden look gorgeous & way more organised than I deserve the credit for!!

Today I made a lemon drizzle cake for a friends 40th birthday! Here’s the recipe:

1 buttered 9″ cake pan (round/square or loaf pan – whatever you fancy!!) lined on the bottom with parchment paper.

FOR BEST RESULTS ALL INGREDIENTS SHOULD BE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.

225g/8oz Self raising Flour.

225g/8oz  Unsalted Butter.

225g/8oz Caster Sugar

4 Large Free Range Eggs.

1 Whole Lemon – zest & juice.

1 tsp Vanilla Extract.

1/4 tsp Salt (I use Kosher Salt).

175g/6 oz Icing Sugar

 

Preheat oven to 175C (160C fan oven).

Place butter & caster sugar in a bowl (of stand mixer if using with paddle attachment) and thoroughly mix, using stand mixer, electric whisk or wooden spoon, until smooth,  pale yellow in colour & when you rub a little of the mixture between your finger & thumb you shouldn’t be able to feel the sugar grains.

Crack all 4 eggs into a separate bowl (easier to fish out eggs shell & you won’t ruin your mixture if you get a dodgey egg!!). Add the salt & vanilla extract and half of the flour mix gently & then add 2 eggs. Mix until just combined. Add the zest of the lemon the last 2 eggs & the rest of the flour. Gently mix until thoroughly combined ( the cake will be lighter if you don’t over mix the flour). Add half of the lemon juice & fold in quickly. Pour the cake batter into the pan & cook for 25-35 minutes (depending on you oven).

The cake should be golden brown & spring back from a light touch in the centre when it is thoroughly cooked. If there is still a slight wobble to the centre of the cake, bake for a further 5 mins & check again. Also trust your sense of smell. It may sound daft, but after baking this cake a couple of times I can smell when it is ready (or almost ready & then I give it a check).

When cooked remove cake from the oven and place the tin on a baking rack until cool enough to handle 15-20 mins. Remove cake from its tin and place on a baking rack to cool completely. When completely cooled remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake – it’s easier to peel off when the cake is cold.

MAKING THE LEMON DRIZZLE

Place the sifted icing sugar in a bowl & add enough of the remaining lemon juice to create a thick, but pourable liquid icing. Drizzle the icing over your cake in any way your creativeness leads you!! On square/loaf shaped cakes I like a zig zag drizzle, on a round cake I sometimes make the icing a little thinner (by adding more lemon juice) & cover the whole top of the cake. Either way encourage your icing to drip down the sides of your cake. It looks very pretty & people will instantly see it’s a lemon drizzle cake!

Your cake is ready to eat, or you can let the icing dry a little (over time it will set, but to a soft consistency, not hard). If you are not giving this cake away (as I did), pop the kettle on, invite a friend or neighbour round & have a good ole natter over tea & cake.

 

WOW!!! Sparkly Lemon Birthday Cake!!!
WOW!!! Sparkly Lemon Birthday Cake!!!
REMEMBER FOOD ALWAYS TASTES BETTER WHEN IT’S SHARED!

Ps: if you are making this cake to give away I have successfully doubled the ingredients a split the mixture between 2 cake tins. One to give away, one to keep! It’s that scrumm!!

image

THICK LEMON ICING, shown here smothering: TEAR & SHARE ICED FRUIT BUNS!!!!

I would love to hear your comments or questions if you try any of the recipes listed. Please post a comment which I will read, enjoy & answer if possible.

Until next time thanks for popping by, have fun feasting & sharing your food!!

Sammie x

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

Bread Baked The Easy Way!

My Large Loaf!!

image

Hi, thank you for dropping by.

Today is my first day of blogging!!! I’m excited. I’m going to show you how to bake bread the easy way! The sun is shining, so that means my veggie plants & flowers need watering.

I love the early morning smell of the garden, the slight dampness of dew on the grass, the smell of my tomato plants as I brush past them…

Anyhow I’m waffling, you may find that happens a lot! Back to business. Hey, no, didn’t I say that “Feasting is Fun”??

Bread: that’s what I will be making this morning (with the aid of my bread maker). If you have a stand mixer that can do the same job as my bread maker.

Recipe for a Large White Loaf

4lb loaf tin, buttered.

1 1/2 sachets dried yeast or 15g fresh (or I’m using frozen) yeast.

1lb 8oz Strong White Flour

380-400ml Water (warm -body temp)

1 tsp Honey

2 tsp kosher salt

2oz butter

1 large (4lb) buttered loaf tin

Clean tea towel

Place most of the water (380ml) into a bowl (of stand mixer or bread maker if using), add yeast. Swish about a bit with clean fingers to mix the yeast into the water ( rub the fresh/frozen yeast through your fingers until it is dissolved into the water). Add the teaspoon of honey & set to one side whilst you weigh the flour.

Add the flour so it sits on top of the yeast/honey/water mixture. Then add the salt.  Break the butter into 3-4 pieces (it’s best if it’s room temp – but if it’s cold don’t worry, the bread will just take a little longer to rise).

With a stand mixer make sure the dough hook is attached a mix on slow/medium speed for 8-10 minutes. If using a bread maker I use a spatula to manually mix the dough, giving it approx 6-8 good stirs (this amount of mixture is a little too much for the paddle in my bread machine, doing this starts the mixing process & then the machine can happily cope with fully mixing the dough!).

As the dough comes together it should mix smoothly & look soft & elastic. If it looks dry – or the mixing device makes a clunking sound add more water (the extra 20mls).  Be patient it takes a minute or so for the water to become incorporated.  Continue mixing for the 8-10 minutes.

If using a bread maker I use the dough cycle, so once mixing is finished the dough is then left in the machine to prove, until doubled in size (up to 2 hours), I then use the start of the dough cycle to knock back the dough for 2 mins before removing the dough.

If you are using a stand mixer, after the initial mixing process is complete, remove all the dough, place onto a clean floured surface & shape into a ball.  Place into a buttered bowl, turn over once, so the top has a coating of butter on it & cover the bowl tightly with cling film. Place in a warm, draught free place until doubled in size (up to 2 hours).  After this time remove the cling & punch down into the dough gently (feels sooo nice) to deflate the dough.

With either method you now have bread dough ready to be shaped.  Place the dough on a floured surface and stretch it out with your hands.  Fold one end into the middle & do the same with the other end.  Turn the dough by a quarter & repeat the stretching & folding.  Do this twice more.  This is building structure into your dough & this little bit if effort makes a BIG difference to your finished loaf.

Place the dough seam side down into your buttered loaf tin.  Cover with a tea towel & place in a warm draught free place until doubled in size (up to 2 hours).

Just before it has completely doubled turn your oven onto its highest setting, 250C/500F.

When doubled remove tea towel & place the tin in the oven.  I then turn the heat down to 230C (but it’s fine to keep it at its hottest – just don’t forget about your bread!!). Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on your oven & how crusty you want your bread), I usually tip mine out of its tin & leave it upside down on the oven rack (with the oven still on) whilst I rinse out the loaf tin –

White/Wholemeal 50:50 loaf with added seeds. Delicious - might need a lil more water.
White/Wholemeal 50:50 loaf with added seeds. Delicious – might need a lil more water.

– CAREFUL it’s very HOT!

When the bread is a gorgeous deep golden colour remove from the oven, tip out of the tin straight away, or you will have a soggy loaf on the bottom.  The bread should sound hollow if you knock on the base with your knuckle.

Enjoy the smell!!! There is nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread.

 

Now’s the hard part WAITING!  The loaf needs to cool to just above room temp otherwise it won’t cut properly.

Prep time is no more than 10 mins. Once you’ve made your first couple of loaves you should get into a rhythm & see how easy it is to make your own bread.

Then find someone to share it with.  Food ALWAYS tastes better when it’s shared.

Please let me know how you get on.  I’m not a professional chef but I’m happy to try & answer baking/cooking related questions.

Until next time have fun making each meal a feast!!

 

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr