November 19, 2017

Mum's Christmas Shortbread

Christmas baking is a tradition in our family as with many families across the world. Every year my mum would start baking one-two months in advance to fill the freezer with sweet delights! Boxes and containers filled with cookies and chocolates, tray bakes and sweets. My dad would sit and be her official taste tester along the way :) Come Christmas time festive boxes and trays were delivered to friends, her church and every christmas eve we would take a large tray to my Aunt to visit whilst the infamous shaw Yule Log played on the tv.

The list of treats she would make vary a bit each year but my all-time favourite has to be her shortbread cookies. Not like the traditional Scottish shortbread tablets, but soft, fluffy, sugary, melt in your mouth bundles of happiness topped with a sweet.  

Makes 20 small cookies. 

1/2 cup cornflour (cornstarch)
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup self raising (all purpose) flour
3/4 cup unsalted butter

Sift together cornflour, sugar & flour into bowl
With pastry cutter, wooden spoon or your fingertips lightly blend in butter until a soft dough forms
do not over work

Shape into balls or use a cookie press to make shapes
Top each (if you like) with any type of treat - pecan half, gummy treat, glazed cherry, chocolate... up to you

Bake at 300deg  for 15-20 min

October 30, 2016

Scrummy Sausage Rolls - easy

Homemade anything is always tastier - and these sausage rolls are definitely an example of that!
Not only do you know what goes into them - you can jazz them up anyway you like to suit your tastebuds! Better yet - they are soooooo incredibly easy to make - forget about those shop bought ones and start with these - I promise you will never go back!
Influenced by the infamous Ginger Pig rolls, these are simple but oh so very tasty.

A tip about this recipe which should hopefully make this even easier for you -  do not fret too much over the exact measurements - if you have a 4 leftover sausages then just decrease bread/suet amounts a bit - it's preference not science :) see - so very easy!

Tip 2 - make two batches, cut them into pieces and freeze one batch for an even easier weekend breakfast - especially handy to impress guests too! You can bake from frozen*

Tips 3 - make smaller versions for afternoon tea bite sized happiness

Prep Time: 10min plus Baking time 50min
Total Time: 1hour

Ingredients- makes 4 good sized breakfast sausage rolls 

6 (400g) good quality sausages/sausage meat  - whatever brand/flavour you like (I like Cumberland)
80g  breadcrumbs
150g shredded suet (veggie or beef - having a box of Atora in you pantry - lasts ages & work well)
1 tbsp fresh herbs (thyme and/or sage)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
(you can also add a bit of chutney or mustard to your mixture - to customise it to your tastes - just be careful not to make it too dry or too wet a mixture)

1 pack puff pastry 320g (pre rolled easiest)- keep in fridge until ready to use

1 egg

Bowls, pastry brush, knife, baking tray (deep size not flat),  baking paper/silicon

1. Preheat oven to 200deg (180deg fan)
2. In bowl, place sausage meat (squeeze out of cases if using made sausages & discard cases)
3. Add salt, pepper, herbs, breadcrumbs & suet and mix well with your hands
4. Roll out mix into large sausage shape
5. Take out pre rolled pastry (if not using pre-rolled, roll out pastry to about 30cm x 20 cm (or big enough to wrap up the sausage
6. Once rolled, place the mixture in sausage shape in middle of pastry lengthwise and wrap over pastry to fully cover sausage
7. Cut off excess pastry at ends (unless of course you like extra pastry :)) Cut in half, then cut each half into half again - or whatever sizes you want
8. Place on lined tray (make sure your tray deep enough sized not flat otherwise suet/fat from rolls will drip out and mess up your oven!)
9. Break egg into a bowl and lightly mix then brush all over the pastry top and sides. Add three or four thyme leaves if you have any left - just to look pretty and add another hit of herb!
10. Bake in pre heated oven for 50min or until nice and golden brown. * if baking from frozen I still bake for about 50min (not sure why it doesn't take longer for me).
11. Take out of oven and place immediately on paper towel or write rack to cool for 5min
* you will see a lot of grease in the pan (hence using a deep tray) this is good - it shows you will have nice juicy sausage rolls rather than dry

Serve with ketchup, chilli jam, mustard, brown sauce or eat on its own.

October 29, 2016

Rhubarb Crumble Cake - just like mum made

I love rhubarb. I love it so much. It reminds me of summer. This recipe reminds me of my childhood.
This is a lovely sponge cake with gooey rhubarb mixture and  a crunchy nutty sugar spice topping!
Replace the cinnamon with cardamon for a fresh and different taste.


250g (1cup) milk
1 tsp lemon juice

115g   (1/2 cup)  butter
330g  (1.5cups)  brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla paste (or extract if you don't have)

255g (2 cups) sifted self raising flour (all purpose flour)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

200g (2 cups) chopped rhubarb  (raw) (2cm pieces)
30g  (1/4 cup )walnuts (roughly chopped)
100g (1/2 cup ) white granulated sugar (golden if you have it!)
1 tsp cinnamon (or ground cardamom if you fancy something different)

Serve on own or with cream or ice cream

Heat oven to 180C (170C fan) (350 f)
Measure out milk and add lemon juice. Set aside.
Butter and line a tin (9x13cm)

Cream together butter & brown sugar with mixer if you have (3-4minutes until nice and fluffy)
Slowly add in the egg & vanilla
In a separate bowl sift flour, salt & soda together
Turn down mixer to lowest speed and add 1/3 of flour mix to creamed mixture followed by a 1/3 of the milk/lemon   - alternate  flour / milk until just incorporated
Turn off mixture and stir in rhubarb pieces

Pour mix into prepared tin
in a bowl mix the sugar, spice and chopped walnuts
Sprinkle evenly on top of the cake mix

Bake for 30-40 min -until cake is golden and just coming away from the sides -  test with a skewer to ensure baked through.
Serve on it's own, hot or cold, add cream or ice cream should you wish

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Brownie Tray bake or Bites

We were walking through our local market one day and scoping out all of the treats along the way. We saw a cheesecake and I thought, mmmm I haven't made one of  those in a while. Then I saw some brownies and thought mmmm brownies. Then it was decided. A chocolate brownie based cheesecake was well in order!

And so it was made. Well many times in fact over the last month in different guises. A cake as a cheesecake would be expected (20" round cake tin), then it was a tray bake for our MacMillan Coffee Morning fundraiser sale, then my niece's 7th birthday afternoon tea girlie treats, and then the leftovers 
morphed into yet another tray bake (this time with Oreos instead of brownies as a base).

So what I'm saying is - if you need something tailored for special treat - this is the one to make! And it is so simples!

Here is a guide to make a tray bake (and then I will give tips at the end for other versions)

Brownie Base: 
160g golden caster sugar (can use white however the golden makes it more caramelly)
210g light brown sugar
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa
200g plain flour
4 large eggs
200g unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
100g milk chocolate
200g dark chocolate (70%+ solids) 
1tsp vanilla paste (or essence or extract if you don't have)
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 160deg fan oven (180 non fan).  Line a large brownie tin with greaseproof baking paper. 

Break all of the chocolate up and place in a large pan with the cubed butter on a low heat and stir until melted, stir in the sugars and then take off the heat. 
Mix in the eggs and vanilla.

Sift the flour, cocoa, salt together into the chocolate mixture and fold together.

Pour into your lined brownie tin (you don't want to fill more than 1/4- 1/2full as you will be adding the cheesecake mixture on top once baked and risen so.... depending on the size of your tray you might get to make two batches of brownies :) or line cupcake tin with strips of paper and use up the remaining mix.

Bake for about 20-25minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when tested.  (15-18min if in cupcake tins)
Remove from oven and using a glass tumbler, gently press down all over the brownie evenly to create a flatter base. (optional - I had to as I had a thinner pan.)

Allow to cool completely in the tin.

Cheesecake Topping
This is where you can get creative. You can add any flavour into your cheesecake mix to make it to suit your cravings. Here is a raspberry swirl recipe but leave out the fresh fruit and jam and add in anything else - like a couple of tablespoons of baileys or melted chocolate (this is where you use your instincts - just don't add too much to make the mixture too runny.

300g cream cheese 
50g icing sugar
1 vanilla pod (seeds scraped out)
150g double cream (whipped)
200g raspberry jam
fresh raspberries

In a bowl add the cream cheese and vanilla seeds and jam --- stir lightly to break it up.
In another bowl Whip the double cream with the icing sugar until it forms soft peaks.  
Carefully fold the whipped cream mixture into the cheese mixture and add fresh fruit.

Spread the cheesecake topping on top of your cooled brownie base and the put in fridge to set. Take out 10min prior to serving and cut into squares.