30 September 2015

Baked Buttermilk Donuts

This post can be nothing other than short and sweet because that's all that these little cuties lived. The minute they started baking, husband was in, circling the oven like a hungry wolf. The kids sniffing the air like they'd never smelt vanilla baking before... 

My pal brought me home a set of Nordic Ware Donut Pans from a recent trip to the States. I was so impressed with the quality, I genuinely couldn't wait to try them out. Seeing as I wanted to get the recipe right first time, I took to Pinterest for, ahem, "research". Three hours of my life later and armed with little more than a few scribbles on a sheet, I emerged with a multi-influenced recipe and no idea if it'd work.

I didn't actually spend three hours looking up donut recipes, I browsed EVERYTHING else. Because let's face it, the rabbit-hole-vortex that is Pinterest traps you from the get go. Coming out alive is a win in itself. 

Buttermilk Baked Donuts with a Vanilla Glaze

525g self raising flour
150g sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1.5 tsp pf vanilla
55g butter (melted)
55ml vegetable oil
250ml buttermilk

Preheat oven to 180C/350F or Gas Mark 4. Liberally grease two 6-cavity donut pans with cooking spray and set to one side. Or one 12.. whatever you have.

In a large bowl whisk together the flours, sugar and baking powder together until combined.
Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until frothy, and then stir in the vanilla. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and begin stirring to combine.
Add the melted butter and the oil and fold through until just incorporated.  Now add the buttermilk and mix through until smooth. The batter is runny so it's easier to...

Scrape the batter into a piping bag and snip open the tip. Pipe the donut batter into the pan holes until they are about 2/3 full. 
Gently tap the donut pans on the counter to dislodge any bubbles.

Bake for approximately 9-11 minutes. Allow the donuts to sit in the pan for about 5 minutes before gently removing. Turn the pan upside down and gently shake it until they pop out. Allow to cool fully before dipping.

60ml milk
240g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract/paste

To make the glaze: On the hob, put the icing sugar, milk and vanilla in a small pot over medium heat until melted and combined. Dip each donut into the glaze, allowing excess to drip off on a wire rack over a piece of baking parchment. 
Immediately sprinkle with er, sprinkles as the glaze crisps super fast. Reheat the glaze or add more milk as necessary if you need to keep it smooth.

Hopefully you will have more than three donuts to take photos with.. Hungry wolves snap these up fast! These are great but they come with a warning. The fact they are baked, tricks your mind into thinking they are healthy for you because fried donuts are... So. Bad. For. You. And these aren't fried.

All in moderation I say.. just possibly not the all 12 to yourself kind of moderation.

**opinions expressed in the post are my own, I wasn't asked to give them. I just freaking love those donut pans... and while I would have seriously loved it if Nordic Ware sent me their products to use... They haven't... yet!! (one can dream right?)**

27 September 2015

A Choux Bun.. With a Twist.

This came to me. In class, last week while I was daydreaming about patisserie (as I do) and I thought why can't I do that? I can, nay I should do that. I should challenge myself to build a choux tower but on a miniture scale. On a cupcake.. on a bun. A choux bun.. ohmigoshyouguys.. 

And I did.

Only it took two attempts at the choux and another two attempts at the baking because the sizes were all over the place (I have figured out for you below so don't worry!). But the lads here didn't mind, sure they all love choux buns and the fact they were like little poppet sized ones made them even better. Made it a pain in the bum for me, to swat them out of the kitchen as they stole my mini morsels but nevertheless the challenge that was accepted, was fulfilled. 

And I have to say I am pretty smug about it too. Isn't that awful.. to be smug? I could dress it up and pretend to be proud of my creation but no.. nope, I am smug. Smugly smug with a huge grin like.. did you see what I made. Look what I made.. are you looking?


Choux Pastry

100g butter
100ml water
70ml full fat milk
140g strong white flour
3 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F, Gas Mark 6.
Grease a baking sheet with butter.
In a pot, put the butter, water and milk and melt the butter over a low-medium heat. Once melted, bring to the boil.
Remove from the heat and immediately tip in the four and stir vigorously until a smooth ball has formed and it comes away from the sides of the pot.
Put the pot back on the heat for a minute or so to further cook the dough, stirring all the time.
Remove from the heat once again and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
Beat the eggs together and when the dough is cooled, start adding the eggs bit by bit.
Using your wooden spoon mix vigorously until you have a glossy, sticky mess. You may not use all the eggs here.. just add in what you need to make it thick, smooth and glossy.

Spoon little dollops out onto a greased tray and pop into the oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your dollops. (the cupcake sized ones, only took 10.
Reduce the temperature, without opening the oven door to 170C and bake for a further 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven, pierce a little whole in the side to release more steam and pop back in the oven for a further 5 minutes.

Allow to cool on a wire rack before filling.

Vanilla Cupcakes (makes 12)

110g of room temperature butter
225g caster sugar
150g self raising flour
125g plain/cream flour
 A half a teaspoon of baking powder
2 large free range  room temperature eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (I use vanilla bean paste)
125ml of whole, full fat milk.

Preheat your oven to 350F/180C or Gas mark 4. Line a 12 tray cupcake pan with cases.
Cream your butter and sugar until light and fluffy and pale.
Add in an egg, one at a time until the yolks have been incorporated.
Dry whisk or sieve all your flours and the baking powder together.
Add the vanilla to your milk. 
Add half your dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg combination and then half the wet. Mix until combined and repeat. Be careful not to over mix the batter here as you want them to stay light and fluffy. Just make sure all the ingredients have been mixed together.
Fill your cases to two thirds full.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. You know they are done when the tops are golden, have a slight spring in them when you gently push down or a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clear!
Allow to cool on a wire rack until cold and ready to be used. 

Vanilla Custard

1 vanilla pod
125g sugar
500ml milk
4 egg yolks
45g cornflour

Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod and put the pod, plus the seeds in a pot.
Add 50g of sugar and milk and gently heat over a low-medium heat. but do not allow it to boil.
In a separate bowl whisk together the rest of the sugar, the eggs and the corn flour.
When the milk is hot, but not boiling, remove it from the heat and pour 3/4 of it into the egg mix. Whisk it all together and transfer it back into the pot and back onto the heat.
Allow the custard to cook, to become thick and bubbling for about 1 minute.
Remove from the heat and push through a sieve to remove any lumps, into a clean bowl.

Allow to cool before using it as a filling.

Caramel Sauce

Cook 125g butter and 180g of dark brown sugar in a medium non stick pan over a medium heat for two to three minutes, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
Whisk in 200ml of double cream and bring the entire thing to a light boil, stirring constantly.

Turn off the heat and allow to stand until it's cooled slightly, stirring often.

Putting it all together...

Fill the profiteroles with your usual filling method, with the vanilla custard and leave to one side. Using a vanilla cupcake, dip the cupcake into the slightly warm caramel sauce and stick on a few of the profiteroles to form the base of your mini-croquembouche. Dip the underside of the next layer of profiteroles and stick to the layer previous, continuing along until you have built a tower.

Drizzle over and extra caramel sauce you see fit and pop into the fridge to harden for about 15 minutes.

And if you got through all that like I got through all that then you my friend are one lucky baker! And you can be smug like me. These little morsels of mmmmm... are sheer luxury. Not for the faint hearted or diabetics among us, but darn-it they are good.

And it was all thanks to Patisserie Week on the Great British Bake Off... A choux bun.. with a twist. Be sure to see what the other Bake Off bloggers got up to this week.. I know Jenny tried Mary's Mokatines and added her own twist. Why not swing by Naomi's blog and check out the linky?

French delights to be had, to be sure.

Link up your recipe of the week

23 September 2015

Sweet Potato Baby Cakes with Caramel Sauce

"What's in them again?" she said. "Do you like them?" I said. "Yeah, they're nice but what's in them?". "Sweet Potato" I said.

"I don't really like them anymore." And the aversion to basically any kind of vegetable in my house continues.

I am one of those people that will try anything. I will try, to try it anyway. If that makes sense.

There are some foodie things that scare me, and I would probably avoid getting myself into the situation where I might have to try said scarey food. But on the whole, I like to try and eat new things. My kids and husband on the other hand, know what they know and like what they like and are very hard to sway. They do eat a variety of foods, don't get me wrong but when it comes to veg.. I am basically out on my own.

And a shame too because these little, baby cakes were delicious.

Sweet Potato Baby Cakes

125g butter
250g sugar
2 large eggs
310g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
450g sweet potato, mashed and cooled (about 2 medium sweet potatoes)
85ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F or Gas Mark 4.
Beat the butter and the sugar until smooth and add the eggs one at a time until fully blended.
Combine the flour and and baking powder and spices and then add half the flour mixture to the sugar/butter mixture.
Add the vanilla, sweet potato and buttermilk and mix until completely blended together.
Add the rest of flour and mix until smooth.
Spray a 12 hole muffin tin with quick release spray and dust with flour. (or rub the sides with butter and again, dust with flour).
Fill the muffin pan to two-thirds full and bake for 20 minutes.
Allow to cool in the tins for 5 minutes and top each of the warm cakes with caramel sauce and crushed pecans.

Caramel Sauce

Cook 125g butter and 180g of light brown sugar in a medium non stick pan over a medium heat for two to three minutes, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in a cup of double cream and bring the entire thing to a light boil. stirring constantly.

Turn off the heat and allow to stand on the cooker top until it's cooled slightly, stirring often.

Swing by and check out what the other CakeSlice Bakers picked for their September option.

There's only one month left with our book, The Southern Cake Book, I have thoroughly enjoyed it! Make sure you pop by next month.. or before that! I would love if you popped by often.. It's a free choice month so it'll be excellent to see they different bakers pick out their favourite bakes!

18 September 2015

A Boozy Fruit Bundt

When Victorian week came on The Great British Bake Off, I had wanted so badly to make the Charlotte Russe. But being back at college, starting my Masters has left very little time for fiddly bits baking. Which saddens me in many respects as you all know I love to doss about baking up a storm.

But it did mean that I got to research some very delicious recipes that Mrs Patmore herself would have been proud of. Fruit Cake and jelly molds were de rigeur at tea parties and celebrations in the Victorian era and while I still pine a little for the time I didn't have to bake the Charlotte Russe I am very happy with this attempt.

It is a boozy baked bundt, with all the trimmings. It has that old world taste. The kind of taste that would develop and become even better, if fed, over time. It's essentially a lighter version of a Christmas cake, more of an afternoon tea kind of cake, or something had after supper in the evenings. I'm not sure it's up to the Lady of the House's standard but it would certainly have done us folk in the kitchen no harm! It's soft and moist and packed with deliciously plumped up fruit.

It feels wholesome.

The Boozy Fruit 

The night before you decide to make your cake add the following ingredients into a bowl (preferably with a lid) and just leave it out at room temperature.

350g raisins
150g sultanas
50g mixed peel
200ml of whiskey
juice and zest of one large orange 

Mix the whole lot up into a bowl and pop the lid on. If your bowl doesn't have a lid, cover over the container with some clingfilm and leave it out on the counter to settle and plump over night. A good 12-16 hours is perfectly fine. 

The Cake
Being very honest here, this recipe did not yield as much as I would have liked it to have for my size bundt. I should have doubled the recipe. But it'll make up perfect in an 8 inch round or under.

150g soft salted butter
100g light brown sugar
50g caster sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 tbsp golden syrup
160g cream/plain flour
85g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 150C, 300F or gas mark 2 and fix the bottom shelf on the oven. 

Cream your butter and sugar until soft and and sandy.
Add the eggs and golden syrup and mix until fully incorporated.
Dry whisk or sieve, all the dry ingredients together.
Scrape down the sides of your bowl.
Add half the fruit mix, you prepared earlier to the batter and fold in with a spatula. Add the other half and mix until fully mixed together. 
The mix should look like the picture above ... scrape it out into the prepared tin. I greased my bundt pan and dusted it in a little flour.
Bake in your oven for up to an hour. Check it from 50 minutes on. Time will also depend on whether or not you use an 8 inch or a bundt pan. If you double the recipe you will need to leave it in for longer. 

A skewer when inserted in the middle should come out clear or clearish. It's a moist cake, you might get some crumbs!)

This week Jenny and the Great Bloggers Bake Off is hosted by the An Organised Mess' Debbie! Do be sure to pop on over to her page to see what the other bakers linked up.

A feast fit for a Victorian to be sure!

14 September 2015

Almond, Apple Spiced Loaf

It seems to have taken forever to get here. The actual writing the words down part to this post... 

It felt forced and unconnected and I just didn't want to fill it with some anecdotal drivel that you would all roll your eyes at. You ever get days like that? Where you feel like there's something niggling and if you just stay quiet and listen, all will right itself and you can find your voice again?

In those times I like to bake. Methodically bake, where I know the recipe inside out and just get on with it. It helps reassure me I am not losing it, but rather taking my time through it. It's also the time I bake comfort. Old school style recipes, nurturing and warming and filled with nostalgia. 

Now to be honest, this cake isn't a sweet old bake from my childhood, nor is it some happy moment I shared with who, what and why. It's a... what I had in leftovers mixed with what I knew how to bake, served with a side of feeling the autumn chill. I'd like to pretend that it had some semblance to some cherished memory but alas.. I can not. 

Hence the disconnect. 

What it did serve as, was a way to relax, slow down and gather myself. It was enjoyed over many cups of tea, shared with friends that brought that fuzzy feeling round again. It started making it's own memories. It's magic.

Apple Sauce
(makes about one jam jar's worth of sauce)

4 apples, peeled cored and chopped up.
25ml water
pinch nutmeg
brown sugar to taste

Add all the ingredients above in a pot and over a medium heat, allow to break down. Mix coarsely with a spoon, or mash with a potato masher. If you feel it needs more water, add in two tablespoons at a time. Add the sugar to taste, adding in more if you like it sweeter.
Decant into a prepared, clean jar and allow to cool before storing in the fridge.

Almond and Apple Spiced Loaf

125g light brown sugar
80g caster sugar
2 eggs
250g self raising flour
125g ground almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp mixed spice
125ml vegetable oil
60 ml buttermilk
150g apple sauce
handful of rolled oats for the top

Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F or Gas mark 4.
Line a loaf tin with parchment.
Dry mix the flour, almonds and spices in a bowl.
Add the sugar and eggs to a bowl and mix together.
Add in the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
Ad the oil and buttermilk and mix again.
Fold through the apple sauce.
Scoop out into your prepared tin and sprinkle the rolled oats on top.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top has cracked and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clear.

Allow to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes, before removing.

Try some toasted with real butter smeared on top. This is a great loaf for breakfast, elevenses, lunch, mid afternoon snack, pre-dinner snack, after dinner snack, sitting down having a cup of tea when the kids have gone to bed and you're catching up on the soaps treat. It's basically an all rounder. eat it when you'd like to. And sure look, it's got apples in it, so technically it's super healthy*!

*not actual nutritional advice. Just to be clear on that.

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