Friday, 19 December 2014

Fat Friday #21 Salted Buttered Toffees

Christmas is fast approaching. Have you finished that shopping yet? Better get a move on. If you planning to make some small gifts to give out to friends and work colleagues may I suggest these buttery soft toffees? They want to be caramels but are more toffee like. Or are they more caramels who wants to be more like a toffee? Either way, they make great gifts once you've wrapped them up in cellophane bags with a cute little ribbon plus a cute little tag (thanks Chloe!) and they are extremely addictive. Be warned...addictive!!

 
Recipe: Makes 40 soft toffees (depending on how big you cut the pieces) (Recipe adapted from Sweet Things by Annie Rigg) 

Ingredients:
·       150g Demerara sugar
·       125g golden syrup
·       100g unsalted butter, diced
·       250ml double cream
·       150g caster sugar
·       ½ teaspoon of sea salt, plus a little extra for garnish
·       ½ vanilla pod seeds
Equipment:
·       Baking tray greased with sunflower oil and lined with silicone
·       Sugar thermometer
·       Small saucepan
·       Rubber spatula
·       2 litre saucepan
·       Knife
·       Extra baking paper
·       Airtight container

Method
1.    Grease the tin with sunflower oil and line the tin with silicone paper.
2.    Put the Demerara sugar, golden syrup, butter, double cream in a small pan and place over a low heat.
3.    Stir the mixture until smooth and once the mixture is hot, remove the pan from the heat.
4.    Place the caster sugar in a 2 litre pan with the 2 tablespoons of water and place over a low heat. Don’t stir the mixture but swirl the pan from time to time. Continue to cook until the mixture turns an amber colour.
5.    Slide the pan off the heat and really carefully pour the hot cream mixture into the caramel mixture. It will hiss and spit so do be careful. Return the pan to a medium heat and place a sugar thermometer into the mixture and cook in 121c/250f.
6.    As quick as you can add the vanilla seeds and sea salt and stir briefly to combine and pour into the prepared tin.
7.    Leave to cool completely for at least for 4 hours or overnight.
8.    Cut into little pieces with a hot knife, sprinkle with a little sea salt and wrap in silicone paper in cute twists and store in an airtight jar.

 
Bake On! Penny x

Friday, 12 December 2014

Fat Friday #20 Chocolate Orange Tart


Its right in the middle of December at this point and I'm sure that most of you are either done your Christmas shopping early or are struggling fighting the crowds for those pressies. Well if your like me the main concern is food, especially at this time of year! I'm think rich, decadent, comfort food which is perfect for Fat Friday. This Chocolate Orange Tart will delight as well as impress on the table. Serve with a creamy vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce if need more of a chocolate hit!
I must state that I'm giving full credit to my friend and college buddy for the lovely photo. Why not pay her a visit on her cake website?
 
 
Recipe: Makes 1 tart
·       450g dark chocolate
·       300g butter
·       3 eggs
·       3 egg yolks
·       90g caster sugar
·       2 oranges zested

Pate Brisee:
·       250g soft flour
·       205g very cold butter
·       5g salt
·       55g ice cold water

Equipment
·       Bowl
·       Saucepan
·       Bowl
·       Jug
·       Wooden spoon
·       Rolling pin
·       Knife
·       Chopping board
·       4 small round tins
·       Baking beans
·       Baking sheet lined with silicone paper
·       Cling film
·       Fork

For the Pastry
1.    Rub the flour, salt and butter together until just combined. If you over work the mix, the butter will mix too much. 
2.    Add the iced water and bring the dough together.
3.    Once the dough has been brought together wrap in a neat parcel and chill in the fridge while you make the other parts of the dish.
4.    Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4/180c/350f
5.    Cut the chilled dough into 4 pieces. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, until about 2 mm thick.
6.    Line the metal cases with the dough and roughly chop any remaining edges. Prick the dough base lightly with a fork.
7.    Place a little clingfilm into the dough cases and fill with baking beans.
8.    Blind bake for 18 minutes or until completely cooked through.
9.    Take the baking beans out of the tart and bake a little longer to dry the cases out.

Tart Filling:
1.    Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave or over a bowl of hot water.
2.    In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and sugar together.
3.    Mix the orange zest into the chocolate.
4.    Pour the chocolate into the egg mixture slowly and whisk.

To Finish:
1.    Pour the chocolate filling into the tart casing and bake on 170c/325f/Gas Mark 3/ for 12 minutes.
2.    Once cooked and cooled. Place the tart in the fridge overnight.

Have a great weekend!
Bake On! Penny x

Thursday, 11 December 2014

University. To go? Not to Go? That Debate.

This post has been a long time coming and was inspired by the chat I had with a friend at college. People are often surprised when I inform them I've graduated university with a BA in Hospitality, and how I decided to go back to college. Yes, I've done my years and I am richer for the experience.

But I'll let you in on a secret, I did not go to university for the right reasons. My decision was prompted not because I was unsure what to do with myself, or because I'm super passionate about business and cooking.

It was to prove a point. I can admit that now.

I felt that I had to prove to the world, that I could do the university thing. That I could make it through the studying and come out with a great achievement. I did it to prove to myself that I could get through to the other side.
That sounds very shallow and yeah, it is. But that was my thinking at the time. Even though I did perhaps go for the wrong reasons, I came out learning the right life lessons:
  • I came out learning more about business, including how much fodder human resources can be at times.
  • I have learnt that when working as a group there will always be one member, at least one, who does nothing and will still get the same credit for you and your groups hard work. They know who they are and the fact is, they don't give a crap. Try to deal with it maturely. People like this will confront you in all aspects of life and will always get found out in the end. Trust me, they get hated for it and people will purposely avoid them because of this trait.
  • I've met lots of people, but only a select few you stay with you in your heart.
  • I've drunk some ridiculous concoctions at uni. End of.
  • I learnt that my goal is to open my own business, doing what I love (which is baking and cooking...duh...).
  • Balancing a job and university work is bloody hard. But really shows to future employers that you can manage your time well. Oh and the extra money isn't that bad either.  
  • I learnt to open up my heart again, starting dating and so, fell in love. (3 and 1/2 years later, we're still in love. Awww.... ok Chick flick moment over).  
I have learnt more than I can list. It was all thanks to that shallow decision that turned my life into something positive. That's my rhyme and reason for going to university. I'm so grateful that I went to uni and that the whole experience was worth it, hard, but worth it.

So to go? Not to go? Its a big decision for everyone. With tuition fees higher then ever and employers not hiring graduates because their 'too over qualified', its made the decision even harder. The fees were at a high set price when I applied and so ,it was a natural move. Now students have to pay crazy fees that will be with them for a long portion of their lives. Its not a light decision to make, so I've rounded up some of my friends and family thoughts and feelings on going/not going to uni. These are REAL responses from REAL people, that I REALLY know... REALLY!:

Leanne's advice: "Join a club and meet people!"

Dan (didn't want to go to uni): "Cause I is thick as f**k
I dig your honesty Dan.

"Mad" Max's advice (went to uni): "Go on a place and meet people"

Chloe B (Didn't want to go to uni): "I'm too stupid. Being deado serious here."

Ann (Never had the chance to go to uni): "I never had the chance to go to university. I was never good enough. My family was more important to me. I still stand by that decision."

Rob (Uni goer and still studying): "I went for a fresh start and to enhance my career." and his advice: "If something is offered to you. Give it a go. I'll never play OctoPush again, but I gave it a go."

Claudiu's (went to uni) advice: "Experience life abroad and meet people."

Chloe C (Studying at the moment): "University is the best experience of my life! Eyeryone should go! (And at college I never wanted to) so I'm a complete convert."

Emma (Studying at uni too): "I would say don't go just because you feel you have to...if you can find an apprenticeship/internship in the field you want to go into that would ideally be better and cost less. [University]...has been stressful at the start... but starting to settle in now and enjoy it more...but still wish I was more active in looking at other options." Her advice: "Be prepared for people who bullshit...A LOT. Not everyone is sane."

I want to thank all of you who contributed and helped me write this article. I hope this post has raised a point with some readers and has made you think.
Did you go to uni? What advice have you got? Why didn't you go to uni? Let me know what you think
Bake On! Penny x

Friday, 5 December 2014

Fat Friday #19 Hazelnut Cake with Pistachio Ice-Cream & Cream Toasted Almond Cream


December. You know what that means right? Its shopping time! Lucky enough for me, I've finished all my Christmas shopping now which is a big relief. In the next couple of weeks there will be a some Christmas recipes coming up soon. Maybe on Fat Friday or who knows. Its my most busy time of year but I hope your not too busy enough to make this restaurant dessert.
Its a nut themed dessert with a sweet hazelnut cake, savoury pistachio ice cream and a luxury almond cream. Its a fairly simple dessert which takes minimal effort with maximum 'wow' reaction at all that 'effort'.

Recipe: Makes 8 servings 

Cake:
·       225g ground hazelnuts, sieved
·       50g plain flour, sieved
·       1 teaspoon baking, sieved
·       3 eggs
·       200g castor sugar
·       200g butter, melted and cooled
·       Juice of 1 lemon

Pistachio ice-cream:
·       200g pistachio’s
·       300ml milk
·       7g milk powder
·       200ml double cream
·       6 egg yolks
·       60g castor sugar
·       10ml glucose

Toasted almond cream:
·       700ml double cream
·       100ml milk
·       75g toasted sliced almonds
·       110g sugar
·       3 gelatine leaves
Equipment:

·       Mixing bowl x 2
·       Sieve
·       Saucepan x 3
·       23 inch cake tin lined with silicone paper
·       Baking sheet
·       Whisk
·       Fine sieve
·       Ice cream machine
·       Small bowl
·       Small mould
·       Liquidizer
·       Sugar thermometer

For the pistachio ice cream:
1.    Bake pistachios in an oven 170c/Gas Mark 3/ 325f for a few minutes to release some of the nuts oils.
2.    Place the milk, milk powder, and cream into a pan. Bring gently to the boil, add the pistachios. Wait until cooled and then liquidize until smooth.
3.    Return to the plan and bring back to the boil.
4.    Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, glucose and sugar.
5. Pour half the pistachio mix into the eggs, whisking constantly.
6.    Return the pan to the heat. Heat to 84c using a sugar thermometer.
7.    Strain immediately through a fine sieve and cool.
8.    Place into an ice cream machine.

For the cake:
1.    Pre-heat oven to 170c/Gas Mark 3/ 325f.
2.    Melt the butter in a pan and allow to cool before using.
3.    Mix the ground hazelnuts, flour and baking powder together.
4.    Whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale, then slowly whisk in the melted butter.
5.    Fold in the hazelnut mixture followed by the lemon juice.
6.    Pour the mixture into the lined cake tine and bake for 40 minutes.
7.    Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the Almond cream
1.    Toast the almonds like the pistachios as above. Put cream, milk, almonds and sugar into a pan and bring to the boil.
2.    Remove and infuse the almonds for 40 minutes.
3.    Place the gelatine in cold water until gooey.
4.    Bring the cream mixture back to the boil and remove again from the heat.
5.    Add the gelatine and sieve to remove the almonds.
6.    Pour into small moulds of your choice and set for 4 hours.

To complete:
1.    Cut the cake into 8 pieces.
2.    Dip the mould into a little hot water to realise the almond cream.
3.    Scoop a little of the ice cream on top of the cake.  

Are you nuts over this dessert? Would you order it at a restaurant?
Bake On! Penny x

Friday, 28 November 2014

Fat Friday #18 Rice Pudding Terrine served with a Salted Liqorice Parfait and Bitter Chocolate Sorbet


Welcome to Novembers last Fat Friday. This quite an usual dessert, it sounds like something that would grace the table of a nice little kitch restaurant. Well for now it will grace this blogs Fat Friday #18. I was not convinced to start with, but tasting the finished dessert was sweet, salty and creamy all in one. Its a great dinner party dessert and will impress dinner guests. Tuille is a type of very thin biscuit that can be shaped as soon as it comes out of the oven. However, in this recipe they are kept straight for height. Also for future reference, a parfait is a type of mousse and as Donkey says: "Everybody like parfait!"

Recipe: Makes 1 terrine, which will serve 6-8 people (recipe kindly  provided by my pastry tutor).

Rice Pudding:
·       50g sugar
·       75g risotto rice
·       350ml milk
·       100ml double cream, plus 100ml extra lightly whipped cream
·       1 ½ leaves gelatine
·       1 vanilla pod split lengthways

Pastry Cream:
·       100ml milk
·       75ml double cream
·       40g sugar
·       1 egg yolk
·       5g cornflour

Rice Tuilles
·       35g egg whites
·       40g icing sugar
·       100g reserved rice pudding
Salted Liquorice parfait
·       200ml double cream
·       100ml water
·       150g sugar
·       6 egg yolks
·       40ml liquorice essence
·       Fine sea salt

Bitter Chocolate Sorbet
·       750ml water
·       250ml milk
·       50g sugar
·       75ml glucose
·       100g cocoa powder
·       240g bitter chocolate

Equipment:
·       Saucepan
·       Rubber spatula
·       Bowl x 3
·       Blender
·       Pastry brush
·       Baking sheet
·       Whisk
·       Measuring jug
·       A square container that is suitable for freezing x 2
·  Ice cream machine
·  Fine sieve
 

For the rice pudding
1.    In a saucepan, simmer the pods, milk, cream, rice and sugar for 20 minutes until thick and creamy. 
2.    Remove from the heat and reserve 100g of the rice pudding for tuilles.  
3.    Place the gelatine in cold water until it is soft and add to the remaining rice pudding. Place both the rice puddings in the fridge to cool.
For the pastry cream:
1.    Bring the cream and milk to the boil.
2.    Whisk the egg yolk, sugar and flour.
3.    Combine the two mixtures and return to the pan until thickened. Leave to cool
For the rice tuille:
1.    Place the egg whites, sugar and rice pudding into a blender and puree to a smooth-ish texture.
2.    Chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
3.    Brush onto a sill matt using a pastry brush into a thin strips and bake on gas mark 3/170c/ 325f for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
For the parfait:
1.    Whisk the cream to ribbon stage. So almost whipped but not quite there.
2.    Place the sugar and water into a pan and cook to a deep caramel.
3.    Whisk the egg yolks until pale.
4.    Once the caramel is ready, slowly add the eggs whilst whisking.
5.    Fold in the cream and essence and place into a square shaped container and freeze.
Bitter Chocolate sorbet:
1.    Place the water, milk, sugar and glucose in a pan and bring to the boil.
2.    Whisk the cocoa powder into the milk mixture and pour the hot liquid over the chocolate to melt it. Whisking as you go.
3.    Strain through a fine sieve and freeze in an ice cream machine.
To Serve:
  1. Cut the rice pudding into a rectangle on a plate.
  2. Cut the parfait into a rectangle shape and place directly place on top of the pudding. Make sure its not too thick.
  3. Scoop a little of the ice cream and place on top of the parfait.
  4. Quickly place a tuille biscuit on top. Nom.
So would you order this dish? What do you think of the combination?
Bake On! Penny x
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