The Crazy Kitchen: September 2016

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Friday 30 September 2016

Ultimate Chocolate Drip / Freakcake Birthday Cake

When it's the birthday of one of my children, I usually make their birthday cake. I may have bought the odd caterpillar cake in the past, because, let's face it, the thought of a slice of a £5 caterpillar cake drying up in the bottom of a party bag is better than a slice of that cake you spent the hottest September day on record sweating over, rotting away in there. The cakes have not always gone to plan, and some have been bloody hard work - there was the time that I sieved fondant icing to make fluff for Boobah. If you don't know who or what Boobah is, Google it, your mind will be blown. Think Teletubbies on Ecstasy.

Cakes over the years have definitely become easier to make. It's more about what their favourite chocolate is rather than their favourite tv character. The kids can also be swayed by chocolate. Jack:"mum I think I'll have a football cake again this year'. Mum:"wouldn't you prefer to have a big chocolate cake with loads of yummy chocolate on".Jack:"yeah, yeah. Chocolate". Easy.

I'm no fan of fondant icing so a cake that benefits from buttercream or ganache is good for me. I'm not particularly neat when it comes to baking cakes either, so haphazard-less-is-most-definitely-not-more cakes are also good for me.

The basis for this year's cake came from a pot of Pinteresty looking polka dot sprinkles that I came across in a supermarket in Ireland in the summer, and I was desperate to use them. Aside from the sprinkles there was no great plan. As long as there were mint Aero Bubbles this teen girl was going to be happy. We'll ignore the fact that mint Aero Bubbles are half green and definitely didn't go with my beautifully colour co-ordinated cake!

A 5 layer ombre sponge cake was made (same recipe as this pink ombre sprinkle cake), and covered in buttercream, before refrigerating.

Ultimate Chocolate Drip / Freakcake Birthday Cake

I then made a ganache by weighing out equal parts double cream and milk chocolate. The cream was heated and the chocolate was stirred in until the ganache was smooth and silky. Next time I'll leave the ganache to cool for a little while as it was a lot drippier than planned, and some of the toppings slid a little - the photo lower down of the back shows how the drips should look!

Sweets, donuts, biscuits and chocolates were added to the cake in a random fashion, with lollies and other tall items at the back to give the cake more height, and then I threw some of the sprinkles at the cake - yep, there was no delicate sprinkling involved.

Ultimate Chocolate Drip / Freakcake Birthday Cake Ultimate Chocolate Drip / Freakcake Birthday Cake

Ultimate Chocolate Drip / Freakcake Birthday Cake

 photo freakcake back_zpsoqmolh0s.jpg

Monday 26 September 2016

Maple, Apple & Cinnamon Pinwheel Pastries

Last week it was pastry week on Bake Off, and whilst I would love to try making a bakewell tart, I know the kids wouldn't eat it, and I would've ended up eating too much. There was no way I was going to attempt filo pastry, so that left Danish Pastries.

I didn't have enough time for the whole proper Danish pastry dough, so I made my favourite cream cheese pastry, which is very similar to puff pastry, but a lot less work. It worked really well with these pastries, and is great for savoury pies too. It's a lovely light pastry, and these pinwheels were light and crispy.

Maple, Apple & Cinnamon Pinwheel Pastries

Apple & Cinnamon Pinwheel Pastries

150g full fat cream cheese, diced
150g cold butter, diced
250g plain flour
1 tbsp caster sugar

apple filling
3-4 tbps home made apple jam (made with 3 parts peeled apples and 2 parts jam sugar)
tsp cinnamon
caster sugar

3 tbsp icing sugar
maple syrup
  • Add all the pastry ingredients into a stand mixer bowl
  • Using a flat beater, mix all the ingredients together until combined and just starting to come together
  • Press the pastry together, wrap in clingfilm & refrigerate for approx 1/2 an hour (do not be tempted to over work the pastry)
  • Roll the dough out to the thickness of a one pound coin (I find it easier to roll between sheets of clingfilm instead of flouring the surface)
  • cut squares from the dough, in your desired size - mine were approx 3" square as I wanted small pastries
  • make 4 cuts on each square of pastry from the corners towards the centre, leaving a gap in the centre for the filling
  • mix the jam with the cinnamon and spoon into the centre of each pastry
  • fold in 4 of the corners to make a pinwheel
  • return to the fridge for half an hour whilst the oven preheats to 200C
  • place the pastries onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper
  • sprinkle a little caster sugar over each pastry
  • bake for approx 15 minutes, until golden and crispy
  • once cool, drizzle with icing (I mixed icing sugar with a little water and a little maple syrup until it was drizzling consistency)

Maple, Apple & Cinnamon Pinwheel Pastries Maple, Apple & Cinnamon Pinwheel Pastries

I am joining in with the Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off

Mummy Mishaps

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Cheesy Chicken & Sweetcorn Slices

It's pastry week on The Great British Bake Off this week so I thought I would share these easy to make Cheesy Chicken & Sweetcorn Slices. I cheated a little here as I didn't make my own puff pastry, but store bought puff pastry is so convenient, and considering that home made puff pastry can take a whole day to make, it's definitely £1 well spent.

Cheesy Chicken & Sweetcorn Slices

I served these up with some Actifry chips, which made a very fulfilling meal for the family. The recipe makes 4 good sized slices, but can easily be doubled up to make a few for now and a few for another day.

Cheesy Chicken & Sweetcorn Slices

Cheesy Chicken & Sweetcorn Slices - makes 4

1 large skinless chicken breast, cooked
80g cooked & cooled potatoes
75g frozen sweetcorn, thawed
75g mature cheddar cheese, grated
pinch of dried herbs
twist of black pepper
500g puff pastry block
1 egg
  • slice the chicken breast and potatoes into small pieces
  • add to a bowl with the sweetcorn, cheese, herbs and pepper
  • mix to combine all the ingredients
  • roll the puff pastry block out into a rectangle until it measures approx 35cm x 30cm
  • straighten up the sides of the pastry by cutting off any uneven edges
  • cut into 4 equal pieces
  • brush beaten egg around the edges of each sheet of pastry
  • spoon some of the filling onto one side of each pastry sheet, leaving a gap around the edge
  • fold the other side of the pastry over and press down on the edges to seal 
  • using a fork, press gently around the sealed edges
  • brush with beaten egg
  • bake in a preheated 200C oven for approx 25-30 minutes, until puffed up & golden brown

Cheesy Chicken & Sweetcorn Slices Cheesy Chicken & Sweetcorn Slices

Monday 19 September 2016

Maple & Cajun Spiced Chicken Filled Yorkshire Puddings

Another week of Great British Bake Off has gone by and this week was batter week; a new challenge for the bakers. I can understand some of the failures of bread week, as 2.5 hours is not long to make a decent loaf of bread, but I really don't think there was any excuse for some of the seriously bad Yorkshire Puddings this week. If there's one thing we've learnt from batter week it's 'don't mess with the flour', after Tom used chickpea flour in his recipe, and they turned out more like a dense blini than a puffed up, light and airy Yorkshire pudding.

I am the first to admit that Yorkshire Puddings have never been my thing, and they have always been a bit hit and miss in the past - sometimes huge, and sometimes a bit on the dense side. I put my hit and miss efforts down to not having a go-to recipe to use each time, so this week I set about researching and testing some recipes so that in the future my Yorkies will be consistent (and hopefully consistently good!)

Some recipes have an exact weight of flour and a certain number of eggs, but they don't always say whether the eggs are medium or large, so surely that has to interfere with the batter consistency? As my memory is often poor when it comes to remembering exact quantities I would also need to make sure that I have this recipe written down somewhere safe (and then remember where that safe place was) if I was to use this method. Then there is the method where you weigh the eggs in a bowl (out of the shell) and then use this weight to base the quantity of the other ingredients on. This is the method I use for baking sponge cakes (weighing the eggs in their shell for cakes) as it then doesn't matter what size your eggs are, and it's easy to increase your quantity of batter based on the number of eggs you want to use (or have).

Maple & Cajun Spiced Chicken Filled Yorkshire Puddings

One important point that I've discovered works best, is to have the batter at room temperature before you use it, so once you've made it you should leave it to rest for a couple of hours at room temperature.

Another important point to bear in mind is the cooking temperature. It's really important to have your oven temperature high and make sure the oil in your pan is, quite literally, smoking hot. The best way that I've found to do this is to pop the muffin pan into the oven as you turn it on to the highest temperature that your oven will go to, and then once the oven has reached that temperature (when the indicator light goes off) the oil will be hot enough to add your batter, at which point I turn the oven down to a more reasonable 200-210C.

The final very important point to remember,  is to be patient. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR until the cooking time has passed - which for my puddings was 20-25 minutes. If you open the door any sooner they could flop.

Everyone has their own preference for the fat they use to cook the puddings, whether it's sunflower oil, lard or beef dripping, but I personally prefer to use Trex, a solid vegetable fat, which I also use for roast potatoes.

Now that I've mastered the pud I think we'll be eating a lot more of them around here, and not just with a roast dinner. I've made filled Yorkshire puddings before, and we now always have them on Christmas Eve, but they're also lovely as a dessert, or even for breakfast with a spoonful of Nutella or drizzle of maple syrup!

I decided that my Yorkshire puddings for Great Bloggers Bake Off would be filled with chicken, which had been roasted in cajun spices and drizzled with maple syrup, and was inspired by my trip to London last weekend where myself and my teen daughter enjoyed a southern style afternoon tea at Ma Pluckers.

Maple & Cajun Spiced Chicken Filled Yorkshire Puddings

The roast chicken was stripped from the bone and basted in cooking juices and a drizzle of Maple syrup along with an extra sprinkling of cajun spices, before being loaded into the Yorkshire puddings. A couple of these served with some home made coleslaw and a corn on the cob makes a delicious meal which can be thrown together in minutes, if you've prepared the chicken and puddings in advance.

Maple & Cajun Spiced Chicken Filled Yorkshire Puddings

Yorkshire Puddings - makes 15-18

206g plain flour
pinch of salt
4 medium eggs (weighing 206g out of their shells)
206g skimmed milk
206g water
vegetable fat or oil 
  • add the flour and salt to a large bowl
  • whisk in the eggs, milk and water until smooth
  • set aside for a couple of hours at room temperature before using
  • add half a tsp of fat to each cell of your muffin pans and place the pans into the oven
  • turn the oven temperature to maximum and leave until the oven reaches temperature
  • remove the pan from the oven and quickly half fill each cell with batter (pouring the batter from a jug helps)
  • return the tin to the oven and turn the temperature down to approx 210C
  • cook for 20-25 minutes without opening the oven door

Maple & Cajun Spiced Chicken (for the filling)

roast chicken, shredded off the bone
cooking juices from the chicken (fat drained)
maple syrup
cajun seasoning 
  • drizzle the shredded chicken with some of the cooking juices and a drizzle of maple syrup, so the chicken is moist, but not wet
  • sprinkle on some of the cajun seasoning, to taste
  • set aside until you're ready to fill your yorkshire puddings - the chicken can be served cold or warmed up before piling into the puddings

These were absolutely delicious, and I'll definitely be making them again - maybe even on Christmas Eve!

Maple & Cajun Spiced Chicken Filled Yorkshire Puddings

 photo yorkshire puddings_zpsj6dh9mlx.jpg


I am joining in with the Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off

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Sunday 11 September 2016

Cherry, Chocolate & Almond Bread Ring

After watching Great British Bake Off this week, there was no doubt in my mind what I would be making. It definitely wasn't going to be the Dampfnudel technical challenge as they really didn't look very appealing, and the showstopper was a bit too showstopping for my liking. I love adding flavours to home made bread but I must admit that I used my bread maker to make the basic dough for this loaf (sorry Mr H), but I'll use my frozen shoulder as an excuse for that!

I knew that any type of bread with chocolate in would go down well with the kids, and this loaf, with it's crisp exterior and gooey filling, was no exception.

Cherry Chocolate Bread Ring

Cherry, Chocolate & Almond Bread Ring

500g Strong white bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
50g caster sugar
50g butter, softened
7g dried yeast
1 egg
225ml milk (room temperature)

50g ground almonds
50g +20g butter
10g caster sugar
200g dark cherries (I used frozen ones), chopped
100g dark chocolate chips + extra for drizzling

  • add the bread flour to a bowl (if you're using a breadmaker, add the ingredients in the order that your instructions state)
  • add the salt, sugar, butter, yeast & egg 
  • add approx 200ml of milk & start mixing everything together, adding more milk if necessary
  • once the dough has come together, take it out of the bowl & knead for 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic 
  • place in a large bowl & cover with clingfilm
  • leave in a warm place to double in size
  • once the dough has proved, turn out onto a lightly floured surface
  • Roll into a large rectangle, approx 40cm x 30cm
  • mix the ground almonds with 50g softened butter & spread over the dough
  • scatter the chopped cherries and chocolate chips evenly over the dough
  • roll up along the long edge into a tight sausage 
  • form into a ring and pinch the ends together
  • snip the dough with scissors approx every 2" around the ring
  • place onto a lightly buttered baking sheet, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for approx 1 hour
  • brush generously with 20g melted butter
  • bake in a preheated 200C oven for approx 15-20 minutes
  • leave to cool on a wire rack before drizzling with melted chocolate

Cherry Chocolate Bread Ring Cherry Chocolate Bread Ring Cherry Chocolate Bread Ring Cherry Chocolate Bread Ring

I am joining in with the Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off

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Monday 5 September 2016

Rhubarb and Custard Viennese Whirls

Great British Bake Off is back, and as I've been away for the first two episodes I haven't managed to join in with any baking until now. I may still bake something from the first episode (the kids are pretty keen on me making Jaffa Cakes) but I'm making no promises, especially as I'm keen to shift some holiday pounds and not put more on!

As I didn't have much time this weekend I chose to make Viennese Whirls, as iced biscuits are definitely not my forté, and there was no way I was going to attempt a gingerbread creation with only a few hours of free time available.

Rhubarb and Custard Viennese Whirls

To my knowledge, I've only made Viennese Whirls (or it might have been fingers) once previously, and I'm sure it was when I was in my late teens. I don't remember it being particularly tricky so I was surprised that so many of the bakers on the show had trouble with them. After looking at a few recipes online I decided to go with the Mary Berry one, but I think I was feeling a little complacent and only refrigerated my unbaked biscuits for a few minutes, which resulted in them being a little flatter than I'd hoped, once baked. The dough was quite stiff to pipe too, despite my butter being very soft, so my 'whirls' didn't look too pretty.

With little time to spare, I decided that I would give the whirls to the kids to eat (who absolutely loved them) and bake a second batch, which would hopefully hold their shape better. This time I adapted a recipe for Viennese Fingers that I found in '1001 Cupcakes, Cookies & Other tempting treats', which calls for the use of caster sugar instead of icing sugar. I also rummaged around in my baking equipment for the largest star nozzle I could find, which seemed to help immensely with the piping, and placed the unbaked biscuits in the freezer whilst the oven was preheating. Having only a small amount of butter left I only made 8 biscuits (4 sandwiches) but have doubled the quantity in the recipe here.

Rhubarb and Custard Viennese Whirls

Rhubarb & Custard Viennese Whirls - makes 8

200g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
180g self raising flour
30g custard powder (not the instant stuff)

home made low sugar rhubarb jam
100g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
2 tbsp custard powder
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
  • beat the butter and caster sugar together until creamy
  • beat in the vanilla extract
  • sift the flour and custard powder in, and mix well to combine
  • fill a piping bag, fitted with a large star nozzle, with the mixture
  • pipe swirls approx 4-5cm in diameter onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper
  • place into the freezer for 20 mins whilst the oven preheats to 160C
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes until starting to brown on the edges
  • leave to cool on the baking tray
  • make the buttercream by beating the butter with the icing sugar
  • mix the custard powder with the water and vanilla extract and beat into the butter/icing sugar
  • beat until the buttercream is pale and smooth
  • spoon a teaspoon of jam onto one biscuit and pipe some buttercream onto another, before sandwiching together
  • repeat with the remaining biscuits
Rhubarb and Custard Viennese Whirls Rhubarb and Custard Viennese Whirls

I am joining in with the Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off, and Treat Petite which is joint by The baking Explorer & Cakeyboi & hosted on The Baking Explorer this month

Mummy Mishaps
 photo treat petite_zpsniw3kszy.png

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