A few week’s ago, I bought the Great British Bake Off booklet, produced for Comic Relief. There weren’t really any new recipes in there that I hadn’t already seen, but it was for charity – plus, I ordered it through a supermarket delivery, so it came right to my door without me having to lift a finger.
Inside was a recipe for scones, and whilst I wasn’t keen on that recipe (includes yogurt?) I did get a craving for some scones. So, I dug out a recipe from the master, Paul Hollywood, and was intrigued to see that this one came with a video. After watching a five minute masterclass, I decided to have a go myself.
I’ll admit to questioning Paul’s recipe, particularly how wet the dough is when turned out on to the surface, but after throwing some flour around (like the professionals), it all came together nicely.
Served with clotted cream and strawberry jam, these were absolutely delicious.
So far this year, my baking mojo has been worryingly absent. Perhaps it is the lack of any Great British Baking to inspire me (although the Comic Relief specials were bloomin’ marvellous!) but mostly, it’s a lack of time related to spending weekends buried in a keyboard. Thankfully, it’s starting to come back to me now so that I spent a bit of time perusing various recipes and opting for a reasonably simple bake to ease me back in gently.
Of note, I finally got round to sorting out my baking cupboard. I took inventory of the ingredients therein (literally making a note of what was there and when it expires). I can’t see myself keeping that up to date, but what I did do whilst I was taking everything out of the cupboard and cataloguing it, was organise. I now have a flour shelf, a sugar shelf and an other shelf. A sugar shelf! Madness.
Anyway, lots of recipes are emerging for Easter baked goodies – I particularly enjoyed looking at the Easter Egg recipes. It has never occurred to me that you could make your own easter egg. Granted, you need some kind of big ol’ mould but that’s what baking shops are for. I decided to go for something a little bit easier, and found this recipe for hot cross cookies.
An interesting take on the more famous buns, these cookies feature sultanas and white chocolate in abundance. Well, they should. Having just sorted out my baking cupboard, I realised I had all the ingredients to go in this, except I would have to substitute sultanas for mixed fruit and white choc chips for milk chocolate instead. Not bad going. I was also missing any chocolate to make the cross on top, but hey ho.
They were really delicious. More crumbly and shortbready than your traditional cookie – mine were quite thick in the middle, but I was proud of the uniformity of them. Not Paul Hollywood standards, but considering my normal presentation skills, this was good. The cinammon is a little bit overwhelming, but then you’re surprised with the mixture of fruit along with chocolate, and it makes for an eclectic but quite yummy biscuit. Not something I would make time and again, but a nice change from the norm.
When I last properly baked, I made chocolate butterfly cupcakes, that were very delicious. Pondering what to do with the multitude of cake cases I was left with, I received a suggestion from Lou that I subsequently promised to attempt. The conversation went along these lines, paraphrased, naturally:
Lou – Make panda cupcakes!
Me – WHA?
Lou – They’re easy, chocolate buttons, dash of icing, no probs.
Me – Hmm, next time, I promise.
In hindsight, the promise was very rash because of all the bits of baking that I am not great at, icing and decoration would be the very worst. Being arty, being controlled with my hands, that’s all a bit beyond me. Of course practice makes perfect and all that, but in all my years in the kitchen, presentation has always been my downfall.
That’s why I’m quite pleased with how these critters turned out.
I ended up using the same basic cupcake recipe as the butterfly ones, nice and chocolatey underneath with some fluffy buttercream on top. A few chocolate buttons and some really, very handy squeezy tubes of chocolate icing, and hey presto!
And just to prove it was not a one off, lonely panda:
Trouble is, they are too cute to eat, no?
My obsession with weekly baking has faded slightly, but I’m still keen on getting things in the oven and seeing what happens. I’m too much of a coward to dive straight into making croissants by hand, but they’re a popular foodstuff in this house, so I was intrigued when I saw an odd little can from Jus-Rol, the incredible ready-made pastry people.
Turns out, it was a roll of dough to make croissants, ready cut, ready to roll, ready to bake. I couldn’t resist.
They were nice, although they weren’t really like croissants that I would recognise. Right shape, tasted okay, not quite the right texture. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them, but it was fun to try. I also now know what shape to make the pastry when I one day get the courage to make my own.
Update: Turns out these are not so much croissants as “crescent rolls” which are different. I’d never heard of them, but the talk is, they get wrapped around sausages sometimes. That makes these very similar to the easy-bake sausage rolls I made! Baking connections are fun.
This week, I passed the Baking recipe app to Mr C and asked him to pick something he might like. The app is full of photographs, so it makes choosing what you want both a) easier because they are some fantastic photos and b) harder because you want to try a little bit of everything. He opted for the Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes, which I thought looked complicated but weren’t once I actually looked into it.
As I tweeted at the time, I managed to ran out of icing sugar halfway through the process. I always run out of icing sugar, it’s really irritating, so when I had to make an emergency trip to the shop, I bought two big boxes at 1kg each. I assume this will last me forever, but hey, this is icing sugar. It definitely won’t.
Mr C enjoyed eating the cupcakes, but not quite as much as he enjoyed taking photos of them.
Not only did they taste good, but they looked just like they did in the recipe photo!
When I finally started a bit more human after a festive holiday full of cold, I decided to bake something nice and comforting. What better than apple pie? I used a recipe from the Photo Cookbook – Baking edition, and had great fun chopping up all the apples and mixing in sugar and cinnamon.
I didn’t have a round dish, so I improvised.
They are meant to be leaves on top. They looked better in real life.
The end result was quite delicious, particularly when served with a dash of cream. The inside didn’t look too appealing though, the brown sugar required in the recipe made a bizarre watery brown sauce at the bottom which looked like gravy. Not really what you want in your pudding bowl!
I will try another apple pie at some point, it’s a popular dish in my household. Hopefully by then I will have sourced a round dish, and perhaps a different recipe.
I’ve always been a bit put off by the whole puff pastry situation. Everyone says that you may as well just buy ready made pastry – even Mary Berry says so – and that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Making puff pastry from scratch is tricky and time-consuming, so it makes perfect sense just to roll out the ready made stuff. It’s not that I’m snobbish about it, but I just tend to think if you’re buying ready made things, you may as well just buy the finished product – a sort of ‘what’s the point?’ attitude.
But, eventually, I saw the light, and decided to make my own sausage rolls.
It was the easiest thing in the world. Roll out the pastry, cut it into sections, add little cocktail sausages and roll it all up, brush with beaten egg, and bake for 20 or so minutes.
They were so delicious. Particularly when still warm.