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Sunday, 31 August 2014

Apple & Rhubarb Saucy Pud

I first came across this method of making a saucy pudding in late 2000, in a recipe booklet picked up in the hospital shop whilst attending a prenatal appointment during my first pregnancy. It was a recipe book full of 'Holiday Recipes', and as it was to be our first Thanksgiving and Christmas living in the US I decided that I needed to embrace the American life and try some of these alien looking meals and desserts.  When I followed the recipe for the first time I thought I'd made a mistake as it looked terrible - who puts a watery sugary liquid on top of cake batter? I gave it the benefit of the doubt and was amazed once the pudding came to the end of the cooking time and the sugary water had magically found its way underneath the batter and turned into a delicious caramel sauce.

I've made the pudding a few times since, but my favourite version has apples and cinnamon added. This time I decided to add some rhubarb from the garden along with the apples that had fallen from our tree.

Apple & Rhubarb Saucy Pud

Apple & Rhubarb Saucy Pud

115g butter, softened
115g caster sugar
3 eggs
115g self raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
400g prepared eating apples & rhubarb, chopped
130g soft dark brown sugar
400ml cold water
  • Beat the butter and caster sugar together until light and creamy
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time
  • Fold in the flour and cinnamon, until well combined
  • Stir in the apple & rhubarb
  • Pour the batter into a buttered baking dish
  • Combine the dark brown sugar and water together
  • Pour over the batter
  • Bake in a preheated 170C oven for 40 -50 minutes
Apple & Rhubarb Saucy PudApple & Rhubarb Saucy Pud Apple & Rhubarb Saucy Pud


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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Strawberry Ice Cream & Neapolitan Baked Alaska

I haven't made proper ice cream for a long time as I usually make the cheats version with cream and condensed milk that doesn't require churning in an ice cream machine. When I was invited to enter the Great British Chefs Summertime Bloggers Challenge, to cook up one of their Summertime Recipes, I decided to go for Simple Strawberry Ice Cream, a recipe by chef Graham Campbell, which I could then use in my Great Bloggers Bake Off Neapolitan Baked Alaska.

The ice cream was a simple enough recipe that didn't require any technical skills, but does require the use of an ice cream machine (mine is an inexpensive one with a bowl that needs freezing in advance). I must confess that I'm not great at following recipes and I do tend to miss items out or skip stages, I'm much better at making them up as I go along. I did throw the strawberries in whole before realising that the recipe called for them to be quartered, so I mashed them a little with a potato masher, but shhhhhh. Apart from that I followed the recipe almost exactly, well aside from the part where I missed adding the salt.

I then went on to make my Baked Alaska, thankfully without sabotage from Diana, queen of removing other peoples ice cream from the freezer, although at one point I did find an 11yr old standing with the freezer door open a little too long for my liking.

A baked Alaska is a dessert that I've always wanted to give a go but never have, and to be honest, isn't that difficult. It just takes a little bit of time and patience for the ice cream to freeze solid before covering with meringue, and then it's all go, go go before the ice cream melts, which it did start to whilst I was taking photos, as you can see here.

Then there is the problem of what to do with a baked Alaska once you've taken the photos and its only 4pm in the afternoon. I can confirm that it doesn't do kids any harm to have baked Alaska for their dinner every once in a while.

Strawberry Ice Cream & Neapolitan Baked Alaska Strawberry Ice Cream & Neapolitan Baked Alaska
Strawberry Ice Cream & Neapolitan Baked Alaska Strawberry Ice Cream & Neapolitan Baked Alaska

Neapolitan Baked Alaska

cake layer
175g butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g self raising flour
50g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
1 litre vanilla ice cream
1 litre strawberry ice cream
meringue
4 egg whites
200g caster sugar

  • Beat the butter with the sugar until pale and creamy
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time
  • Sift the flour and cocoa powder and fold into the cake batter
  • Divide mixture between 2 round cake tins, lightly greased and lined with baking paper
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 20 minutes
  • Turn out of the tins and allow cakes to cool on a wire rack 
  • Line the same cake tins (cooled and washed) with clingfilm
  • Press the vanilla ice cream into one cake tin and strawberry into the other and then return to the freezer
  • Once the cakes are cooled level the tops off with a sharp knife
  • Place one cake onto a baking sheet (that fits into your freezer) and turn the vanilla ice cream onto it
  • Lay the second sponge on top of the vanilla ice cream and then the strawberry ice cream on top of that
  • Return to the freezer whilst you make the meringue
  • Preheat your oven to its highest setting - I think mine is around 260C (the temperature dial has worn off as the oven is so old!)
  • Whisk the egg whites until you have stiff peaks
  • Whisk in the sugar a spoonful at a time until it has all been incorporated
  • You should be able to hold the bowl of meringue upside down above your head without it tipping out - go on, try it.
  • Remove the ice cream and sponge from the freezer and, working as quickly as possible, cover it in meringue, dabbing at it to form peaks
  • Place it into the hot oven for around 4-5 minutes, until lightly golden brown on the edges
  • Serve immediately

Strawberry Ice Cream & Neapolitan Baked Alaska Strawberry Ice Cream & Neapolitan Baked Alaska


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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Ice Cream Cupcakes

I think we've seen the back of Summer for another year now. I can't believe that just a few short weeks ago people were complaining that it was too hot and now we're wondering whether August is too soon to put the heating on!

If you've stocked up on ice cream cones over the summer but nobody wants ice cream as it's now too cold, then put the cones to good use and bake some cupcakes in them. Amazingly the cones don't burn in the oven, and the cake bakes evenly inside. You can then top them off with buttercream swirled with raspberry jam or Nutella. 

Ice Cream Cupcakes Ice Cream Cupcakes Ice Cream Cupcakes Ice Cream CupcakesIce Cream Cupcakes

You can find the full recipe and directions how to make these, along with some of my other recipes that I've been commissioned to write, on the Great British Chefs website here.

Home Baked Ciabatta topped with Mozzarella, Tomato & Rocket

We live in an area of very hard water, and on a daily basis the stainless steel sink and drainer is covered in a layer of limescale. Sometimes the water tastes so bad it makes a cup of tea undrinkable if I haven't used filtered water to fill the kettle.

A few days ago I shared details of the winners from a contest to cook with filtered water, who are now going ahead and selling their produce at the Big Feastival, and sharing the benefits of cooking with filtered water with others.

Wherever I can, I try to cook with filtered water myself, just because I don't want the taste of my food to be ruined by all the nasty chemicals that can be found in household water, more details of which can be found here. We're lucky enough to have a filter built into the water dispenser on our fridge, as well as on the tap at the kitchen sink, making the availability of filtered water easy to us (as long as we remember to change the filters!)

Home Baked Ciabatta

I don't always remember to use the filtered water when I bake bread, but as this was my first attempt at making ciabatta I wasn't prepared to take the risk, so filtered water it was. Thankfully my first ciabatta making experience was a success, although I must admit that when I put it into the oven I wasn't feeling very confident as the dough was quite flat - after watching The Great British Bake Off AFTER I made mine, I realised that firstly I shouldn't have proved it in the airing cupboard, and secondly that I should have used a smaller box (mine was approx 30cm x 30cm, far too big!) - lessons learnt for next time. I did, however, use flour and semolina on the work surface to stop the dough from sticking, which I learnt during the last series when making breadsticks.

I found two recipes, both by Paul Hollywood, and both different to the other, so I improvised a little and adjusted quantities here and there.


Home Baked Ciabatta

Ciabatta
- makes 2/3 loaves


250g '00' flour
2 x 7g packets of dried yeast
approx 275ml water

250g '00' flour
7g salt
25ml olive oil
approx 175ml water

extra flour and semolina for the work surface
  • In a large bowl, beat 250g flour, yeast and enough of the 275ml water to make the dough into the consistency of a loose cake batter
  • Cover with clingfilm and leave at room temperature overnight
  • Add the dough to the bowl of a food mixer along with the other 250g flour and salt
  • With the beater attached and motor running add the olive oil and enough of the water to make a sticky stretchy thick cake batter consistency
  • Keep beating for 5 to 10 minutes - it should be very elastic and stretchy
  • Add the batter to a greased plastic box and leave to prove for around 2 hours
  • Add plenty of flour and semolina to your work surface and turn the dough out onto it
  • Slice into 2 or 3 loaves with a sharp knife or dough scraper and lift onto baking sheets covered with more flour and semolina
  • Set aside whilst the oven preheats to 220C
  • Bake the dough in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and crispy 
Home Baked Ciabatta Home Baked Ciabatta

I used a few slices of ciabatta loaves to make a delicious lunch, which was quick and easy to make.

Ciabatta topped with Mozzarella, Tomato & Rocket - serves 2

100g mozzarella
1 clove garlic, crushed
Extra virgin olive oil
4 slices of ciabatta
4 vine ripened cherry tomatoes, halved
fresh rocket
black pepper
  • Slice the mozzarella into 4
  • Mix the garlic in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil
  • Add the slices of mozzarella to the bowl
  • Lay the ciabatta slices onto a baking sheet or grill pan
  • Drizzle a little of the garlic oil over the bread & lay a slice of mozzarella on each piece of bread
  • Top with 2 tomato halves 
  • Place under a hot grill for a few minutes, until the cheese starts to melt
  • Remove from the grill, top with rocket and ground black pepper and serve immediately
Home Baked Ciabatta topped with Mozzarella, Tomato & Rocket Home Baked Ciabatta topped with Mozzarella, Tomato & Rocket Home Baked Ciabatta topped with Mozzarella, Tomato & Rocket

I was provided with a supermarket voucher to cover the cost of ingredients used


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