The Crazy Kitchen: August 2014

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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

GreatBloggersBakeOff  photo BAKE_ALONG_LOGO_zps284c894d.png

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
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

GreatBloggersBakeOff  photo BAKE_ALONG_LOGO_zps284c894d.png

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.

More cake recipes you may like to try :

Creme egg cheesecake

Red Velvet Cupcakes

microwave chocolate cake

cinnamon apple cake

gluten free apple and almond cake

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

- 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

 photo BAKE_ALONG_LOGO_zps284c894d.png

Monday 25 August 2014

Bank Holiday BBQ Picnic - #SayYestoSummer

August bank holiday weekend used to be one of the hottest weekends of the year. I can't remember the last time we had a really hot (or even dry) August bank holiday weekend, but as it's the British tradition to picnic and barbecue on this weekend we did just that.

Off we went to Cannock Chase (again) as it's our new favourite place to be. We packed a bbq (although I'm not sure if a bbq is allowed in the forest, but we were very very careful),  picnic, bottle of wine (goes without saying really) and our den kit.

Bank Holiday BBQ Picnic - #SayYestoSummer

Whilst the bbq was warming up we played football, hide and seek and climbed trees.

Bank Holiday BBQ Picnic - #SayYestoSummer Bank Holiday BBQ Picnic - #SayYestoSummer

We then enjoyed bbq pork loin steaks, cheese scones, home made coleslaw, cheese & tomato skewers, chips (from the local Wimpy), followed by lemon & courgette cupcakes.

As the picnic was all part of our #SayYestoSummer challenge by Lactofree there were plenty of Lactofree goodies included in the picnic. We had cheese scones and cheese & tomato skewers made with the amazing tasting Lactofree mature cheddar, which is as good as or better than my current mature cheddar, and lemon and courgette cupcakes, made using the buttery tasting Lactofree spread, which, just like the cheese, I absolutely love.

Bank Holiday BBQ Picnic - #SayYestoSummer Bank Holiday BBQ Picnic - #SayYestoSummer Bank Holiday BBQ Picnic - #SayYestoSummer

We stayed and watched the sun setting whilst eating ice creams from the ice cream van and playing football on the common. Despite the chill in the air we had a great family evening out. This is what bank holidays are all about.

Bank Holiday BBQ Picnic - #SayYestoSummer

Cheese Scones

210g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g Lactofree spread (cold)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp English mustard
120g Lactofree mature cheddar, cheddar
170ml Lactofree skimmed milk

  • Mix the flour and baking powder together in a large bowl
  • Rub the spread in carefully with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs
  • Stir in the cayenne pepper, mustard and cheese (reserving some of the cheese to top the scones)
  • Add enough milk to the dry ingredients and mix until it starts to come together
  • Squeeze together with your hands and roll out on a floured surface until approx 1.5cm thick
  • Using a round cutter, cut scones out and place on a greased baking sheet
  • Continue to cut scones out until the dough has been used up, re-rolling as necessary
  • Top the scones with the remaining grated cheese
  • Set aside whilst the oven preheats to 180C
  • Bake for approx 12-15 minutes
  • Serve warm or cold

Cheese Scones cheese scones

Lemon & Courgette Cupcakes - makes 10
115g Lactofree spread
115g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
juice & zest of 1 lemon
1/2 courgette, grated (75g)
115g self raising flour
50g caster sugar

  • Beat the spread and 115g caster sugar until light & creamy
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time
  • Beat in half of the lemon juice and all the zest, along with the grated courgette
  • Fold in the flour
  • Divide batter between 10 muffin cases in a muffin pan
  • Bake in a preheated oven for approx 15 minutes until lightly golden
  • Mix the remaining lemon juice with 50g caster sugar and spoon over the warm cakes
  • Cool on a wire rack

Lemon & Courgette Cupcakes Lemon & Courgette Cupcakes

I'm working together with Lactofree to provide inspiration and recipes over the summer.

Thursday 21 August 2014

Cooking in the Wild in Cannock Chase

We are very lucky to have Cannock Chase on our doorstep. There are miles and miles of open space and woodland and we love to go there for a bit of an adventure as it's one of the very few places to go that all three children enjoy together.

I packed a bag with bacon, wraps, biscuits, marshmallows, chocolate, hot chocolate and coffee. We located the gas stove and den kit in the garage and off we went.

One we'd found our ideal spot in an open space, we set up our camp, stringing rope between two trees and pegging down our camo tarp over it. We threw the picnic blanket underneath and made a porchway out of another smaller tarp, and I used a carrier bag to sit on and cook.
Cooking in the Wild in Cannock Chase #weloveforests Cooking in the Wild in Cannock Chase #weloveforests

The kids had a great time building a den out of sticks and fern and loved their bacon wrap and s'mores. We'll definitely be doing a lot more cooking in the outdoors as food seems to taste so much better this way - albeit with an odd leaf here and there.

Bacon, Lettuce & Crisp Sarnie #crispsarnieweek

You've heard of the BLT so now let me introduce you to the BLC - the ultimate in crisp sandwiches, the Bacon, Lettuce and Crisp sarnie.

This version is not actually a sandwich, it is the much improved Tiger Roll model, and everything about it is crisp - crisp tiger bread roll, crisp smoked bacon, crisp green lettuce and crisp Seabrook Canadian Ham crinkle cut crisps. It's a crisp sandwich through and through.

Bacon, Lettuce & Crisp Sarnie #crispsarnieweek Bacon, Lettuce & Crisp Sarnie #crispsarnieweek Bacon, Lettuce & Crisp Sarnie #crispsarnieweek

It looks good and tastes AMAZING!

Cream Cheese, garlic, herb & rocket bread

At the weekend I decided it was about time that the garage was cleared out. There had been talk of us going camping but all the camping gear was stuck at the back of the garage behind piles and piles of shoes, cardboard boxes and other 'stuff'.

Before I started I made some bread dough and popped a chicken on to cook, to make sure that, if I got too carried away to think about dinner, we would at least have bread and chicken.

After a few hours of back breaking moving, ditching and tidying (and not to mention the 3 trips to the tip) the garage was tidy(ish), and in between I managed to make dinner, consisting of home made bread, roast chicken, salad and home made soup (from the freezer).

The bread was deliciously light, with a crispy exterior, and full of flavour. I think the knack to a light loaf is to make sure that the dough is not too dry, but not too wet - although a bit wetter is better than a bit dry as you can add extra flour as you knead it, and to make sure that you leave it to prove for long enough on the first prove.

Cream Cheese, garlic, herb & rocket bread

Cream Cheese, garlic, herb & rocket bread

500g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
7g dried yeast
75ml olive oil
225ml - 250ml water
200g cream cheese
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
30g rocket
  • Add the flour to a bowl, then add the salt, sugar & yeast
  • Mix in the olive oil and water - only adding enough that it starts to come together, adding more, a little at a time until it soft & pliable and not sticky
  • Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth, soft and stretchy
  • Place into a lightly greased bowl and cover with clingfilm
  • Leave for approx 2 hours to double in size
  • Turn out onto a floured surface and knead and roll into a large rectangle
  • Mix the cream cheese with the garlic and tarragon and spread evenly over the dough
  • Scatter over the rocket
  • Roll up tightly and lay into a large round tin, lightly greased with butter or oil, and join the ends together
  • Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for around an hour
  • Preheat the oven and place a tray of hot water at the bottom (about 1 litre) - this makes the bread crispy on top
  • Bake the bread for 20 minutes
  • Remove from the tin  and allow to cool before slicing
Cream Cheese, garlic, herb & rocket bread Cream Cheese, garlic, herb & rocket bread

Hanna also decided that she wanted to make some bread, so we decided to make one batch of dough together, and each have half to knead, prove and make into a loaf. Hanna opted for a plaited loaf and I opted for a round loaf. I think we might have left them a little too long on the second prove and they went out of shape, however they tasted great and Hanna's was definitely a more interesting shape than mine!

making bread

I am joining in with the Great Bloggers Bake Off. You can see the other entries here, as well as joining in with your own Great British Bake Off inspired bakes.


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