Hi there everybody. I have another easy, dish for you today Sausage Plait With A Twist. What’s the twist? Sundried tomatoes and fresh thyme.
The addition of sundried tomatoes and thyme to pork sausage meat gives this sausage plait a deep savoury flavour. Ideal for a mid week meal, perfect for a buffet and portable for picnics!!
Now I have used a special roller, to create the lattice pattern on the top of the Sausage Plait. I bought it 20+ years ago. I’ve just had a quick peek on Amazon and they sell them for about £5. Which is probably about what I paid all those years ago!!!
If you bake a lot of pies and tarts then I would say this is a good buy. However the diamond effect on the pastry below was achieved by lightly scoring the uncooked pastry, on a slant, one way and then the other. When baked it produced a pretty, diamond effect pattern and I didn’t need a Lattice Roller. This technique would work for the Sausage Plait.
Whichever method you use, your Sausage Plait With A Twist is sure to go down well with everyone who tries it. Served hot or cold, it is completely scrummy!!!
Recipe : Makes 1 Sausage Plait With A Twist.
500g/1lb Block Puff Pastry – defrosted if frozen – I used Just Rol, not the all butter version.
500g/1lb Pork Sausage meat
15 Sundried Tomatoes (drained if in oil)
1 tbsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
1/2 tsp Black Pepper – freshly ground
1 Egg – for egg wash
Chop the sundried tomatoes, roughly, so there are no big pieces. Place into a bowl and add the Thyme, Sausage meat and black pepper. Using your hand, squish (technical term) all the ingredients together until well combined.
On a floured worktop roll out the puff pastry so that it measures 30cm x 35cm (10″x12″). Trim to neaten the edges. Now place the pastry onto a piece of parchment paper – the same size as your baking sheet. This will make transferring the sausage plait MUCH easier. MUCH!!!! I speak from experience!!
Place the sausagemeat mixture evenly down one side of the pastry, leaving a 1 inch (2.5cm) border.
Yep I know!! Bet you’re glad you don’t have to transfer this to a baking sheet now? My mistakes are your gain – sometimes it takes me a while to catch on!!!!
Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, in a preheated oven 190C/170C fan, until golden brown.
Such an easy dish to make, yet super impressive to look at and eat!
I hope you give this recipe a try and let me know what twists you put on your version?
Hi, I’ve done it!! I’ve managed to make Lemon Shortbread Cookies that are light, lemony and crumbly, but still taste of shortbread!
I can’t tell you how good it feels to get back to baking since my recent stay in hospital. I’m not out of the woods yet, but at least I’m on the right path! Baking relaxes me, allows my creative juices to get flowing and produces something scrummy to eat afterwards. Not bad eh???
Buttery, lemony, light Lemon Shortbread Cookies. The perfect biscuit, in my book anyway. I encourage you to try this recipe if you are a fan of lemon and shortbread. I think you get the picture – I LOVE THESE COOKIES!
Hi, have I got a treat for you today – Extreme Chocolate Cookies. Also if you love cookies and need a chocolate fix then these babies are definitely for you!
I’ve been unwell lately, including a 2 week stay in hospital (I’ll save that for another post). Since having been home for 2-3 weeks now, today was the first day I really had the energy to bake. So, unashamedly I decided to make these Extreme Chocolate Cookies for our gorgeous children and my wonderful hubby, who has taken THE BEST care of me. I really do love that man.
I know that I’ve said it before, but baking or cooking for others, especially my family, is one of the ways I like to show my love for them. While chocolate is not my go-to favourite Cookie. Since I favour nutty, fruity, oat cookies. Yet I obviously had to try one of these and they are my favourite chocolate cookies to date!
First of all, in a large bowl add the butter, sugar and salt. Whisk until well combined and fluffy.
Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk until combined.
Next, chop up the white and milk chocolate into chunks.
Add the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and chocolate chunks to the bowl.
Mix all of the ingredients together until just combined.
Shaping and baking the cookies
Take approximately a tablespoon of mixture, roll into a ball shape and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Repeat until all the mixture is used.
Wash your hands, they WILL look like you’ve been making mud pies! Now using your fingers squish the cookie balls, they will still spread a bit whilst cooking.
Finally place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 15-20 mins. I rotated my baking sheets halfway through the cooking process so that the cookies baked evenly. This is fine with cookies NOT cupcakes!
As soon as the cookies are baked remove from the oven and allow the Extreme Chocolate Cookies to cool on the trays for 5 mins, then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.
While the cookies cooled I sent the children a text (at school – rebel mummy!!!) and put the kettle on for a lovely cuppa!!
Finally I can’t tell you how good it feels knowing I’m getting back to being me. Sooo good.
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Hi, there. How are you today? I woke up and felt the need to bake – it’s been too long. As soon as I checked my blog posts I realised it’s been ages since I have posted a cookie recipe. So, today I bring you my Cranberry Oat Cookies.
Although I haven’t posted a new recipe since my last Cookie post, that doesn’t mean I have abstained from baking cookies. Rather it means I’ve baked Cookies I’ve already posted. Confused yet? So I baked a batch of Cranberry Oat Cookies. I think these may be my favourite Cookies today!
Since one of my best friends has been unwell recently, a fresh delivery of Cookies will be just the boost she needs. As a dear friend, who also has a sweet tooth I know she will enjoy these. So I can stop by for a cuppa and chat while sharing these cookies. Because food always tastes better when it’s shared!
Hello there, have I got a new take on Garlic Bread for you today? Oh yes I have. Homemade BreadstickGarlic Herb Dipping Oil – deeeelish!! A fab recipe to make with the kids any day, but especially this week, during half term, here in the UK. Just like at Cafe Rouge except everyone has their own pot of dipping oil!
We first had a version of these at Cafe Rouge a few years ago and we all thought they were yummy. So my mind started whirring, thinking that these couldn’t be ‘that hard’ to make at home – and guess what, they’re not!! And, dare I say, they taste better!
Usually, when I’m feeding a crowd, I double up on the recipe and two people share one plate. But last night, with our Spag Bol we each had our own bowl of Garlic and Herb Dipping Oil and Breadsticks (some of us are getting over colds – so thought individual was best!!).
Firstly to make the breadsticks, for me it really is easier to have a bread maker or stand mixer. There is no way I could do all that kneading by myself, but if you’re happy to make the dough by hand, feel free.
Recipe :Breadsticks Makes 10
1lb/450g Strong White Bread Flour
2tsp Dried Fast Acting Yeast
300ml Water – Approx 37C Body Temp
2tbsp Olive Oil
3/4 tsp Sea Salt Flakes – I used Maldon
Method : see below for hand kneading
Place the warm water into the bowl of your bread maker or stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Add the dried yeast and mix with your fingers. Place the flour on top of the water/yeast. Pour the oil on top of the flour and sprinkle over the salt.
* For bread maker set cycle to knead and prove.
* For the stand mixer, mix the ingredients for 10 minutes. When the dough is soft and elastic remove to an oiled bowl, turn once, so the sides and top are slicked in oil, cover with cling film and place in a warm place to double in size (1-2 hours).
* For hand kneading, place all the ingredients into a large bowl, as per the other methods. Bring together with your hand, in the bowl, until a complete lump of dough is formed. Place the dough on a lightly floured worktop and knead by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic – proceed as for stand mixer.
Once the dough has doubled in size knock back – gently punch down into the bowl to knock out the air (in a bread maker set to mix and allow 30 seconds of slow rotating to knock back your dough).
Tip your dough out onto a floured worktop.
Repeat the same process for the other half of the dough. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm draught free place until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 215C (200C fan).
Place the baking sheets into the hot oven and bake the breadsticks for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven.
Place the cooked breadsticks on a cooling rack to cool.
Recipe : Garlic and Herb Dipping Oil
4tbsp Virgin Olive Oil
3 Fat Garlic Bulbs
1tbsp Fresh Finely Chopped Herbs – I used Thyme and Rosemary – or 1tsp Mixed Dried Herbs
1/2 tsp Flaky Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Firstly I have to admit I didn’t actually measure the butter or olive oil when I made this!! But you are aiming for a 50:50 mix of Olive oil and butter! My laziness is your gain, as you can add more oil/butter if you want to stretch this recipe out for more servings!!! And I get called Cheeky – can’t think why?????
Anyway back to the dipping oil for the breadsticks! Put the Olive oil and butter into a small pan. Chop the herbs finely and add to the cold oil/butter.
Either mince finely, or use a garlic press to chop/squish the garlic bulbs and add to the pan. Finally add the salt and pepper – you can add less salt if you’ve used salted butter – too little salt however, will result in this dipping oil having a very bland flavour (sorry Cafe Rouge, but it’s the seasoning in your dipping oil that let’s it down!).
Place the pan over a very low heat. The idea is to melt the butter, infuse the oil/butter with the garlic and herbs and of course NOT BURN THE GARLIC!!!!
Leave the pan off the heat to sit and infuse with the Garlic and Herb flavours. Even a few minutes makes a big difference to the final oil. I made the oil whilst the Breadsticks were baking. 10 minutes before serving place the pan over a medium heat. As soon as the oil is bubbling and the Garlic is sizzling, remove from the heat and decant into individual serving bowls – I used ramekins.
Breaking into the crunchy Breadsticks and dipping into the Garlic and Herb Oil is a taste explosion in your mouth!! It’s a fun change from the usual Garlic Bread. As always these Breadsticks go amazingly well with all pasta dishes.
NOTE: The Garlic and Herb Oil can also be spooned over Ciabatta or Baguette for a more traditional style Garlic Bread.
The Breadsticks can be made smaller (this will stretch out the number of servings), just remember to reduce the baking time – I’d start checking at 15 minutes.
Any leftover breadsticks can be frozen, in a freezer bag, for up to a month.
If you do try this recipe I’d love to hear how you get on?
Have fun making these and most of all sharing them!
Hi there, I hope there is something in your day today that makes you smile. I’m definitely smiling because I’ve made this luscious, moist Nutella Hazelnut Covered Chocolate Marble Cake. Chocolate and vanilla sponge swirled together, baked and then topped with a generous slather of Nutella and whole, toasted hazelnuts.
Yep I’m back to baking, after being out of action for a few weeks with horrid Migraines, see here. Frustrating, painful and boring, however today I did it. I finally got to remake the cake that I teased you about and as Nutella has been on special offer, I won’t get blasted by the children, for depleting their Nutella supply.
I should mention, given the number of times I’ve mentioned Nutella, that this is not a paid promotion. It’s just Nutella is such an easy frosting for a cake and this particular combo is especially yummy.
Because I like to be honest, I’ll admit to eating a slice of this cake for lunch, three days in a row. It really is that tempting.
Method: Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan, gas mark 2, 300F
First of all grease thoroughly with butter a 9 inch/22.5cm springform cake pan and line the base with baking parchment.
Add the butter, sugar and salt to a large bowl and cream together using an electric whisk (or stand mixer with paddle attachment). This actually takes a good 5 mins to get a really pale, light and fluffy mixture (so unless you want a thorough workout I don’t suggest you do this by hand!).
Next add the vanilla extract, and 1 egg. Whisk until combined. While continuing to whisk gradually add the rest of the eggs, slowly, one at a time, until they have all been added. If it looks like your mixture is going to curdle add one tablespoon of Self Raising Flour and the mixture will come back together.
All eggs added and no curdling – I added a tablespoon of flour, just in case!
Add the remaining flour and partly fold in. Now add the buttermilk (it’s worth giving the container a good shake, as the buttermilk can settle). Complete the mixing, by folding in the part blended flour mixture and the buttercream. Watch in amazement as the batter takes on a mousse like consistency.
If my batter looks a bit pinky/orange, it’s because the eggs that I used had very orange yolks.
In a separate bowl (I suggest that you use a larger one than I did) add the cocoa powder.
Place half of your vanilla cake batter on top of the cocoa and whisk until blended. I did try mixing by hand, but it was hopeless as the bowl was too small!
Spoon in large dollops of the chocolate cake batter.
Follow with vanilla cake batter dropped in between the chocolate.
Now add chocolate batter on top of the vanilla.
Likewise repeat with vanilla and then chocolate batter until it is all in the cake tin.
Using a butter knife swirl the two batters together. What you’re aiming for is a rippled effect. Since there is no precision to this method, swirl a few times, but not so many that the result is both cake batters completely mixed together.
Place the cake in the preheated oven and bake for an hour. The cake is cooked when it is firm to touch and does not wobble underneath the set top. Also an inserted skewer will come out clean.
As soon as the cake is cooked remove from the oven.
Place the cooked cake, still in it’s tin onto a baking rack and leave to cool, for 15 minutes.
After 15 minuntes unclip the springform tin and remove the tin, leaving the cake on the tin base to cool.
While the cake is cooling, lightly toast the hazelnuts.
Place the hazelnuts into a dry frying pan and toast over a high heat for approximately 5 minutes. Toasting the hazelnuts brings out the wonderful oils and flavour. As soon as the hazelnuts are toasted remove from the pan and place in a bowl to cool.
As I mentioned, any cracks in the top of the cake will close on cooling, but don’t worry, the top is going to be covered in Nutella.
Place the cake on a cake stand/board or plate. Place 5-6 tablespoons of Nutella on to the top of the cake. Spread the Nutella over the top of the cake right up to the edge. An off set spatula is ideal for spreading.
Time to get creative with the toasted hazelnuts. You can place them randomly or in a pattern on top of the Nutella. Once finished you finally have a Nutella Hazelnut Covered Chocolate Marble Cake.
So scrumptious looking and the perfect cake for sharing. Also the Nutella doesn’t set so invite a friend/neighbour round, or the whole family and pop the kettle on. This cake is ready for slicing, so enjoy.
Store in an airtight container and eat within 5 days.
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While it is nice to bake a cake, just to have in the cupboard. So that family members can cut a slice and enjoy with a cup of tea, there are other reasons to bake. For example, to give as a gift to a new family, or take round to welcome new neighbours. If you think bout it there are plenty of reasons to bake and share cake. Since an unexpected gift has a Double feel good factor. Not only do the recipients receive a delicious gift, they also know that they’ve been thought about. What other reason do we need that that?
Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing your feast.
No part of this post may be reproduced or duplicated without the written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.
Hi there, how are you today? These Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are so easy to make and are perfect for weekend breakfast with a large mug of Coffee! They truly define the meaning of Lazy Weekend Breakfast Feasting.
Obviously, you don’t have to restrict eating these at breakfast time or just at the weekend – although, as scrummy as they are, I wouldn’t recommend having them everyday! These Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are treats, in fact I had them for my birthday brekkie last year (& that was mid week!).
This recipe was inspired by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa herself. After following her recipe a few times I fiddled with it a bit. The buns were scrummy, but I wanted Pecan nuts inside my buns and preferred the use of Sultanas. I also changed the ratio of ingredients, as I changed from American cup measures to Metric weight. I was extremely pleased with the results, I hope you will be to and this easy recipe will inspire you to have a go at making these buns!
Upside down buns
Firstly, I should say that these Sticky Sultana Pecan Buns are made upside down! That is, they are very similar, in method, to an upside down cake – meaning that you place a brown sugar/butter mixture along with Pecan nuts into the bottom of a deep muffin/cupcake tin, place the buns in top and then when cooked turn the buns out so the bottom of the bun becomes the top!
Don’t worry! It’s not as confusing as it sounds and I am ALWAYS amazed that the buns turn out perfectly, they never stick and always look so impressive for such little effort. In fact it really is a Ta Dah moment (I imagine a drumroll in my head!) that never ceases to amaze me and I always end up with a huge smile on my face!
Just aquick note : A proper deep muffin/cupcake tin must be used for this recipe. A bun/fairy cake tin is too shallow, not only will it be too small for your buns, but you’ll also end up with butter dripping all over your oven. I also place a baking sheet, a little larger than my cupcake tin, on the rack below, just in case any butter bubbles up and drips over – soo much easier to clean than the whole oven!!
Recipe : Makes 12Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns
For the Topping:
150g/5oz Butter – unsalted and softened
75g/3oz Light, Soft Brown Sugar
100g/4oz Pecan Nuts – roughly chopped
For the Buns :
450g/1lb Pack Shop Bought All Butter Puff Pastry
1tbsp Butter – melted
1 1/2tsp Cinnamon
150g/5oz Light, Soft Brown Sugar
100g/4oz Pecan Nuts – roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan), 400F, has mark 6
Making the topping
Firstly, for the topping of the buns mix the softened butter and sugar until well combined.
Using a teaspoon (not a teaspoon measure) scoop 1/2 a teaspoon of the butter/sugar mixture and place into the bottom of the muffin tin, repeating 11 more times.
Next, divide the 100g of Pecan nuts between each of the muffin cups, placing them on top of the sugar/butter mixture. Remember, although this is going into the bottom of the tin, when turned out this will become the topping of the Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns!
Making the buns
Lightly dust the worktop with plain, white flour. Roll out the all butter puff pastry, with a floured rolling pin. You need a square shape that is approx 34 x 34cm.
Next, trim the top and bottom of the pastry square and brush with the melted butter. Then sprinkle the sugar evenly over the whole of the square.
Sprinkle the cinnamon evenly over the sugar layer.
Now you can sprinkle firstly the Sultanas and the the chopped Pecan nuts, so they cover the pastry evenly.
Starting at the front edge of the pastry, evenly roll over the edge of the pastry, tucking it under itself ( not too tightly). Then proceed to roll until you have a log shape, with the join underneath.
Shaping the buns
Next, using a sharp knife, mark the middle of the log. Then mark each half of the log in the middle. Now divide each marked section into 3 separate pieces. You should now have 12 buns!
Carefully place each bun, cut side up, on top of the butter/sugar/Pecan mixture in the muffin tin. Squish a little bit if needed and don’t worry if a little of the filling falls out in transit, you can always pop errant Pecans and Sultanas into any gaps once all the buns are in the muffin tin!
Baking the Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns
Place the tin into a preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. The Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are cooked when the pastry is golden and puffed.
I just love to watch them bubbling and breath in their cinnamon scent when they first come out of the oven – it’s the little things in life that give me most pleasure!!!!!
Turning the buns out of the tin
Wait a few (3 ish but no longer than 5) minutes, then wearing oven gloves place a baking sheet (that is at least the same size as your muffin tin) over the top of the muffin tin and turn over. I promise the buns will drop out! Remove the muffin tin and stare in amazement at your gorgeous Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns– all 12 of them!! See I told you, they really are easy and they turn out every single time.
Leave to cool – remember all that bubbling and sizzling was butter and sugar boiling very hot!!
Serve warm with nothing but a hot drink of your choice, sit back, relax and smile!
Made for sharing
These Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are perfect for breakfast, brunch, mid afternoon coffee. I think these are at their most delicious shared with friends and family who unexpectedly pop round! These are best served warm, so pop in a 140C oven whilst the kettle boils and serve with a steaming cup of coffee and a smile!
These scrummy Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns keep well in an airtight container for up to 5 days. They can also be frozen for up to 1 month. When needed, remove from freezer, place on a baking sheet and allow to defrost (this doesn’t take long 1-2 hrs depending on the room temperature), refresh and warm in a 180C oven for 5 minutes and serve.
I really hope that you give the Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns a try as not only are they easy to make, they are scrumptious and everyone who tries them has a big smile on their face!!!
Hello, how are you today? If you’ve taken a look at my blog before, you might have noticed that I rather like Cookies, ooh and Biscuits (is there a difference?)! This recipe for Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies started forming in my brain last week – but I was out of oats. Also I am very glad I ordered some with my shopping because these Cookies are scrumptiously delicious.
I like to play around with textures as well as tastes and with these Crumbly Oaty Cookies you also get nice nuggets of Apricot which have a lovely chewy texture. The addition of Demerera sugar also adds a very slight toffee taste and extra crunch. So all good then!
The first batch of Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies were made and baked. My special friend and chief taste tester agreed to the arduous task of tasting them – it’s a tough job, but she manages!!! They were given a thumbs up!! Obviously I had to try one as well and they are scrummy, plus with fruit and oats in them they must be good for you. Well that’s my theory anyhow!
Recipe: Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies make approximately 20
Method : Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan, 350F, gas mark 4
Making the cookie batter:
First of all, in a bowl cream the butter and sugars together, ideally with an electric whisk (by hand with a wooden spoon is fine, just ensure the mixture is well beaten.
Add the egg yolk, vanilla extract and salt to the mixture and beat in well. Take the dried Apricots and chop them roughly into small 1/2cm pieces. You want the pieces of Apricot small enough so that they distribute evenly throughout the cookie dough, but big enough to be golden nuggets of chewy fruit that contrast with the crumbly cookie texture.
Into the bowl add the oats, flour and place the chopped apricots on top. Mix together until just combined.
Shaping the cookies:
Scoop a desert spoonful of the cookie dough and shape into a ball using your hands. I placed 6 cookie dough balls on both of the baking trays I used. Obviously the bigger the ball, the larger the cooked cookie will be!
Note : Unless you are confident that your baking trays are non stick, it’s best to line them with baking parchment paper.
Lightly press down on the dough balls, to flatten them into an even round shape.
Baking the cookies:
Place the baking trays in the oven and bake for 15-25 minutes until golden brown on the bottom (see photo). Again the cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of your cookies.
If the bottom is not golden (as above) return your cookies to the oven for an extra couple of minutes. The first tray I got out of the oven looked fine, however, when I tried to turn the cookie over to check the underneath, it completely fell apart – I put the tray bake in the oven for an extra 5 minutes and the photo above shows the result!
When cooked properly, even whilst still warm, the cookie will hold it’s shape, allowing you to check the underside. Leave the cookies to cool completely on the baking tray.
While cooling, ring a friend, or your mum, or someone you’ve been meaning to invite round for ages. Pop the kettle on, quickly clean up (vacuum, throw some bleach down the loo, anti bac wipe the cat…..). No, no, no!! Whoever you’ve invited round doesn’t want to see you (and the cat!) frazzled to within an inch of your life. Relax. Put on some whale music if necessary (although if you need that you might want to invite so and so tomorrow – just saying!!!).
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Enjoy feasting and having a good natter, with a friend, over Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies. Have fun catching up and sharing in each other’s news. Because one of the most precious gifts you can give is your time. We all feel loved and valued when others take time out of their busy schedules to share part of their day with us!
I know, because my sister – who is the best sis in the world – took time out of her day for me today. Thanks babes, love you with all my heart xx.
Hello, I’m writing this blog with fond memories of our week spent in the heart of Devon during half term. This Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova was made, at the barn, with minimal equipment and only my memory for the recipe! I’d call that a challenge!!
Physically it was a bit of a struggle for me, but that was more than compensated by the time we spent as a family. Hanging out together, all 5 of us on a trampoline ( trust me I wasn’t jumping !!!!) that I thought was going to collapse at any second. Taking turns to row around the pond. Discovering semi-wild farm cats and their kittens in the hay barn – sooo cute. Spending time with our Devon family’s, both in church and on the farm. Yet most of all being together Feastingand Having Fun!!!!!
Firstly I have to give complete credit to Nigella for inspiring this scrumptious Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova.
Whilst staying in our gorgeous Barn in the middle of nowhere Pip had invited us to share a meal with her and her wonderful hubby Sailor Man and their daughter Leggy Lou!
Pip would be cooking Lasagne and I offered to do pudding!!
We’ve been staying on the same farm, in the same barn at least 10 years. I was pretty confident, given the restricted equipment available in the barn, that I could ‘easily’ whip up a Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova!!
This is one of those puds that not only has the WOW factor visually but tastes even better than it looks. So simple to do then?
While out shopping I remembered ALL the ingredients (I may have made this a few dozen times before!). Although I couldn’t remember the quantities!
Back at the farm, in a rare moment of actually being able to get a signal, I successfully popped onto Nigella’s website and got the recipe. Fortunately I had not forgotten anything – boy was I relieved!!
Recipe: Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova serves 8
You will need a good sized baking sheet that can take a 30cm diameter circle of meringue, lined with parchment paper.
6 Egg whites. (Preferably free range) at room temp
300g Caster Sugar
3 tbsp Cocoa Powder (not drinking chocolate)
1 tsp Balsamic vinegar (your just gonna have to trust me on this one???!!)
50g Chopped Dark (70%) Chocolate + an extra 25g Dark (70%) Chocolate chopped very fine, for sprinkling over before serving
450ml Double Cream
300g – 500g Raspberries – Fresh if possible. I have used decent thawed frozen ones in the midst of winter and it worked – Waitrose sell good quality frozen berries
Method: Preheat the your oven to 200C/180C fan (350F, gas mark 4).
Firstly if you have any kind of electric whisk PLEASE use it. You can see from the photo below that I did not have one and it was VERY HARD WORK!!!
Once the egg whites form stiff, satin peaks slowly add the caster sugar and keep whisking. Oh the joy, what was already a hard job became much more difficult as the sugar mixed into the whites. The mixture will become much thicker.
Once all the sugar is fully incorporated whisk until the meringue mixture is glossy, satiny and holds a stiff peak!
Next add the sieved cocoa, chopped chocolate and balsamic vinegar (stay with my guys it’s really worth it in the end!!!)
Using a metal spoon gently fold in the chocolate, cocoa and balsamic vinegar until the ingredients are fully combined. This was challenging for me, as you can see from the photos I’d used a straight sided, flat bottomed casserole dish as a mixing bowl!
Still I’m nothing if not adaptable!
When at home I draw round a 12″ (30cm) round cake tin, with pencil, on to parchment paper. On holiday I had to ‘guesstimate’!
Flip the paper over, so that the pencil marking is on the underside. At this point, you can attach the parchment to the baking sheet with little dobs of meringue mixture. These act like glue and stop the paper moving around.
Using the drawn circle as a guide, gently pile on the meringue mixture into the centre using a metal spoon. Use a palette knife (or butter knife if on hols!!!) to gently spread the mixture into an even circle shape approx 30cm across.
I’ve found it helps the cooked Pavlova not to crack if you build the sides up slightly so the centre is approx 1-2cm lower than the edge. It doesn’t matter if it does crack as later on you will be smothering it in whipped cream and raspberries! Using your knife smooth out the centre and create swirls around the outside of the Pavlova. Let your creative, fun side run free!! It’s soo much fun and you can swirl to your hearts content!
Place the beautiful Pavlova on the middle shelf of the preheated oven (180C – 350F or gas mark 4), immediately turn the oven temperature down to 150C (300F gas mark 2) and bake for 1, 1/4 – 1, 1/2 hours.
If you are confident about the eggs you have used, gather the children around the bowl and let them lick the bowl clean. Make sure you have a little taste too. It’s GORGEOUS. I think it tastes like the lightest chocolate mousse. You are eating raw egg so please do not taste if you are pregnant, unwell or elderly. Also I wouldn’t let my children taste it when they were very young. Our youngest is 12 now so he was allowed to try some!
The Pavlova is cooked when the outside looks lovely and crisp and you can see the dark, fudgey inside through the natural small cracks in the surface.
Turn the oven off and leave to cool completely in the oven.
Once the Pavlova is completely cool remove from the oven and peel off the Parchment paper (I’ve never yet had one stick using Parchment, if you use greaseproof paper I can’t guarantee it will peel off as easily).
Place the Pavlova on a flat cake stand, cake board or metal tray if that’s all you have to hand!!
Whip the cream until thickened but still floppy (adding a teaspoon of caster sugar if you prefer to sweeten the cream) and smother the top of the Pavlova with it leaving a cream free edge.
Tumble (or carefully place it’s your choice!) the raspberries over the cream topped Pavlova.
Now finally sprinkle over the remaining 25g (about a tablespoon) of finely chopped dark chocolate.
We shared this with our dinner hosts who were extremely complimentary about the combination of flavours, but mostly the hidden, almost brownie like middle of the Pavlova. The contrast between the crunchy outer layer, the sublime tartness of raspberry enveloped in velvety whipped cream and then the surprise, almost fudgey centre with nubs of chocolate work to create a TASTE SENSATION! Thank you Nigella for inspiring this recipe.
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Victoria Sponge Cake, light, buttery, golden sponges sandwiched together with homemade raspberry jam. A simple recipe that yields a completely knockout cake both in flavour and looks. Master this recipe and you will forever be asked to “bring THAT cake” when gathering with friends and family. Put simply, this is a cake for feasting.
Since a Victoria Sponge Cake is two identical sponge cakes put together with a slather of jam in the middle, it is a great starting point for any baking journey. Because there are no complicated decorating techniques, or steps in the method, the finished cake is all about two things. First of all taste; good quality ingredients are key, butter should not be substituted with margarine. Also, texture; a light sponge is a direct result of not over mixing the cake batter.
Raspberry jam lends a sweet, slightly tart, intense fruit flavour against the buttery, vanilla sponge. While a good quality bought jam is fine to use, making fresh jam adds an additional edge. Since it requires very little time to make I really urge you to try it. Finally, with a light touch and using great quality ingredients the finished result is the Queen of all cakes. I say Queen as this cake is named after Queen Victoria herself.
Recipe: Victoria Sponge Cake serves 8-10
2 x 20cm (8in) greased loose bottom cake tins, the base of each lined with baking parchment.
225g/8oz Caster Sugar plus 1/2 tsp for dusting the finished cake
225g/8oz Fresh or Frozen Raspberries – I used frozen from Waitrose
Method: Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan oven, gas mark 4
Making the cake sponges
First of all thoroughly grease with butter, both cake tins and line the base with baking parchment.
Place the sugar, butter and salt into a large bowl. Whisk the ingredients together until pale and fluffy – if using a stand mixer use the paddle attachment.
Rub a little of the mixture between your fore finger and thumb. If no grittiness is felt the sugar is well mixed into the butter.
Next add the eggs and vanilla extract. Add 1 tablespoon of the flour and whisk together for 30 seconds to combine.
Sift the flour (and baking powder if required) into the bowl.
Whisk the ingredients together until just combined. Over whisking, or beating will develop the flour’s gluten, resulting in a tough, baked cake.
Spoon the cake batter into the prepared tins, dividing evenly between the two. If wanted weigh equal quantities of cake batter into the tins.
Smooth the top of the batter with a spoon.
Place the tins into the centre of the oven (centre and lower shelf if they cannot fit on one shelf).
Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden in colour. The cakes are baked when the top springs back when lightly pressed.
As soon as the cakes are baked remove from the oven and place the tins on a cooling rack.
Allow each cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutesbefore turning out, top of the cake uppermost and placing directly on to a cooling rack.
Making the fresh raspberry jam
While the cakes are cooking make the raspberry jam:
Into a large, heavy bottomed saucepan add the lemon juice, raspberries and sugar.
Also place 2 small plates or saucers into the fridge to chill.
Stir the ingredients together with a wooden spoon and bring up to a simmer on a low heat.
As soon as the sugar is dissolved increase the heat to bring the jam up to a rolling boil – bubbling vigorously but not over the sides of the pan.
Stir to ensure the jam does not stick. Take care as the jam will be very HOT.
After 5 minutes at a rolling boil spoon a few drops of hot jam on to one of the chilled plates. Allow to cool for a minute. Using your finger, push one side of the jam, if it wrinkles up the jam is ready; it has reached setting point. Should the jam not wrinkle continue cooking for a further 2 minutes and test again.
As soon as the jam has reached setting point remove the pan from the heat.
Pour the very hot jam into a heatproof bowl and set aside to cool.
Assembling the cake
To assemble the Victoria Sponge Cake ensure both sponges and the raspberry jam are cold.
Carefully peel the baking parchment away from both sponges.
Place a sponge, flat side up on to a plate or board.
Spoon all of the jam on to the flat sponge and spread almost to the edge. Also, add a layer of whipped cream if desired.
Place the second sponge, flat side down, on top of the jam covered bottom sponge.
Finish with a light dusting of caster sugar on the top of the cake.
Serve this cake sliced with a good quality, fresh made cup of tea. Alternatively a glass of champagne for a special occasion compliments both the event and cake.
Store in an airtight container and eat within 5 days.
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Learning to master a simple recipe and make it well is the foundation to becoming a great cook and baker. Since cake decorating and presentation are of no importance if the product being served and shared does not taste appealing. Flavour always comes first in any feast. Never more so than when the feast is marking a special occasion. Friends and family bring out the flavour even further, as my long held belief shows that food shared always tastes better.
Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing your feast.
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