Monday, 20 February 2012

Pistachio profiteroles

My first attempt at choux pastry...

I'd been led to believe that choux was tricky... But it's not, it's easy, just requires a few different techniques.

This recipe is rather good:

Although, as you'll see from the pictures, the size guide of 5cm buns pre-cooking does lead to rather enormous profiteroles...


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Mmm red velvet...

Today I finally succeeded in buying some disposable piping bags - something I've been wanting for months! £6.49 for 50 from Lakeland, by the way.

So, to celebrate / test them out, I decided to make that modern classic of cupcakes, the red velvet. As it turns out, there's more to a red velvet cupcake than meets the eye. Not only are they made with cocoa powder ( I guess that's why the red bit is so delicious), but they have four (yes, four!) different raising ingredients, which gives them their fluffy texture.

Anyway, in spite of all this, they're not too tricky to make - but I can't say enough about the benefits of having my Mum's Kenwood Chef to help me with this recipe...

Ingredients for the red cakes (makes 10):

150g SR Flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp red food colouring (I used Silver Spoon)
50g butter
100g caster sugar
1 medium egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
100ml buttermilk
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

(NB you can make the buttermilk by mixing 100ml milk with a teaspoon of lemon juice, and leaving in a warm place for 5 minutes)


Set the oven to 180 degrees and get your muffin tin ready with 10 paper muffin cases.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, and mix. In another bowl, mix the cocoa powder and food colouring until smooth.

In the mixer (or in another bowl if you're relying on elbow grease), cream together the butter and sugar, then add the vanilla and egg and beat well. Next, add the colouring/cocoa mixture and mic well so that the colour is even.

Add one third of the flour mixture, then half of the buttermilk, and mix well. Then the next third of the flour, the next half of the buttermilk, and the final part of the flour, mixing well each time.

Finally, in a separate bowl, mix the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda so that it fizzes. Add this mixture to the rest of the cake batter.

Spread the mixture between the cake cases, so that they're each about 2/3 full.

Cook for 15 minutes, turning halfway through. Check the cakes are done with a skewer (if it comes out clean, they're ready).

Once the cakes are cool, they're ready to ice. I used vanilla buttercream, although cream cheese icing is also good, and slightly less sweet...

Icing ingredients:

125g butter
1/2tsp vanilla essence
300g icing sugar
1 tbsp milk

Cream the butter with the vanilla (use a mixer again if you can). Add the icing sugar, bit by bit, until it's all creamed together and quite thick. Finally, add the milk and beat to a smooth consistency. Pipe onto cupcakes and try to let the icing set before you start eating...

As you'll see from the pictures, I also added a few edible silver stars to my cupcakes - again, available from Lakeland (possibly my new favourite shop).

Delicious! And I'm back in the baking game... Next stop, choice pastry...

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Feel-good sausage casserole

When I woke up this morning, I was not feeling good. In fact, by this evening I'd hardly eaten all day. This sausage casserole, however, made me feel much better! Ok, it's not exactly baking - Masterchef has rekindled my interest in other types of cooking - but it is delicious.

Adapted from a Hairy Bikers recipe, this casserole is made mostly from store cupboard ingredients - plus the sausages! My recipe serves one (a rather hungry one), but could easily be made up and extra cooking time added on to make it for 2 or more...


3 Cumberland (or similarly tasty) sausages
A slice or two of chorizo/salami/bacon
A small red onion
A clove of garlic
A large carrot (two if you're really hungry)
1 tsp paprika
Half a tin of chopped tomatoes (or 1 small tin)
150ml chicken stock
50ml white wine (or red)
1 tbsp worcester sauce
A pinch of sugar
A pinch of mixed herbs
A pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Fry the sausages in a pan with a glug of olive oil until they're brown all over, then add the chorizo/similar for a minute or so until it's given up its juices (or cooked, if using bacon). Remove the meat to a stove-friendly cooking pot, leaving all the oil in the pan. Chop and fry the onion on a medium heat, adding the garlic, and carrots, chopped into small chunks. Once it's all fried up nicely, add the paprika and fry for a minute or so more.

Add the tomatoes, stock, worcester sauce, herbs, and wine, and bring to the boil. Transfer into the lot with the meat, then bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 15 mins, stirring occasionally, then add the salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with crushed new potatoes. Yum!