Thursday, 28 April 2016

Chocolate Orange & Sweet Potato Bundt

This chocolate orange bundt cake with sweet potato truly is delicious and light.  Made with a relatively small quantity of refined sugar, the sweet potato adds a little extra sweetness as well as bringing vitamins and minerals to the baked treat.   It really has to be tried to be believed.
Chocolate Orange and Sweet potato Bundt Cake

Chocolate and orange is a classic flavour combination that we all know and love.  But sweet potato in a cake?  Surely not?  Well believe me, it really does work.  Rather than being heavy and stodgy as you may imagine a bake with potato to be, this cake is seriously light and packed full of delicious chocolate orange flavour. 

Baking with potatoes
I was first introduced to cakes made with potatoes a few short weeks ago when the lovely Sarah over at Tales From The Kitchen Shed shared her recipe for Chocolate Potato Muffins.  They truly looked and sounded amazing.  Like all of her recipes, her step-by-step instructions made it clear that the muffins were a doddle to make.  That week, before visiting my parents, I made a small batch in the form of mini bundts cakes.  My parents, like Sarah's tasters, certainly couldn't tell that the mixture included mashed potatoes.  As Sarah explains the inclusion of mashed potato in bakes is nothing new, it was widely used during the second world war when traditional baking ingredients were heavily rationed.  She goes onto say that the potato rich batter results in a beautiful bake, which I couldn't agree more with, that stays moist for two or three days when stored in an airtight container.


Sunday, 24 April 2016

No-Knead Bread

Good things come to those who wait as far as this no-knead loaf is concerned.  The bread is no-fuss to make and requires only a few short minutes of hands on time.  The long prove results in a flavoursome well aerated loaf which is lovely served alongside a salad, as a traditional sandwich or simply toasted.  

Tasty No-Knead Bread

One of the bakes I love to make in our kitchen is bread.  The aroma we are treated to as the bread bakes is second to none and of course homemade bread is far tastier than that manufactured using the Chorleywood Bread Process.  That said, I have a bone (or perhaps bones or even tendons and ligaments) which has sadly decided that it doesn't enjoy bread making.  My wrists, especially my left wrist, complain bitterly when I knead bread and as a result I reluctantly hung up my bread baking pinny a month or two ago in the hope that they will recover!  I've really missed getting my hands onto the silky dough and breathing in those delicious smells as it bakes.  Mr E even bought me a stand mixer last year, complete with dough hook, to take the strain off my wrists but unfortunately, despite the product's claims, its kneading abilities were sadly lacking.....and so to cut a long story short we have resorted to purchasing our bread from the local supermarket :-(

No Knead Bread with Wholemeal Flour

That is until now.  Homemade bread is now back in the menu!  Yaay!

Friday, 22 April 2016

Side-by-Side Baking, Butter Quality

A side-by-Side Baking experiment looking at how three different butters can affect the flavour and colour of a basic sponge. 

A side by side baking experiment

I'm sure that you've read in many recipe books and food magazines the phrase 'buy the best you can afford'.  It's a phrase used to refer to all manner of ingredients; flour, chocolate, butter, and other general food stuff.  But does more expensive actually mean better quality and flavour?  Or are those extra pennies simply paying for fancy packaging and marketing?  It therefore occurred to me to undertake a little side-by-side baking experiment to look at a commonly used baking ingredient, butter, to try to determine if the extra money spent on a more expensive brand is actually worth it.

Now to be honest, I usually purchase the supermarket's own mid-range unsalted butter for my baking.  Not only is there quite a difference in price compared to branded butters but as my mum said, when she assisted in my taste test, "surely butter is butter", meaning aren't they all the same anyway?  This particular Side-by-Side Baking experiment is designed to, hopefully, help me decide if there is any appreciable difference in a baked product when using a more expensive butter.    


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Butterfly Buns with White Chocolate Wings

The butterfly bun is a firm favourite at any children's party.  In this version of the classic, I have used giant white chocolate buttons which were liberally coated with sprinkles to replicate the colourful symmetrical wings.

Butterfly Buns

The classic butterfly bun has a special place in my heart.  I fondly recall making these little cupcakes when I was a wee girl with my lovely Mum.  Standing on a chair to help me reach the work bench I'd assist my Mum by positioning the wings into the buttercream before finishing them with a blob of strawberry jam to represent their eyes!

A few months ago I came across a baking blog which had shared a recipe for these beautiful buns.  They looked absolutely delicious, but it fascinated me that she hadn't given her butterflies any eyes ;-)   Having done a little search on the web, it appears that although some dress their decorated butterfly buns with a jam eye, like Mum & I do, the vast majority don't.  It appears that even Mary Berry is in the 'without eye' camp.   To be honest, I rather like my butterfly cakes to have an eye in the form of a small amount of jam positioned next to their wings.   This is the style Mum always showed me and I'm not going to change that.


Monday, 11 April 2016

Vegetarian Chicken & Leek Pie

Made with a meat substitute,  these creamy individual chicken and leek pies are housed in a hot water crust pastry shell making them a lot quicker and easier to prepare. 
Vegetarian Chicken and Leek Pie

Savoury pies are perfect comfort food, being ideal for those early spring days when the weather is still a little chilly.   Mr E and I really enjoy generous deep filled pies served with new potatoes and a mixture of vegetables.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Side-by-Side Baking, Tea Flavoured Sponge

Continuing my mini Side-by-Side Baking experiments I explore three different ways of how to make a beautiful tea flavoured sponge.  You may be surprised by the results!

Creating a tea flavoured sponge

Way back in January you may recall I shared a recipe for Russian Caravan cupcakes.  These were generous sized buns which had been infused with my favourite blend of tea, the Russian Caravan.  As I mentioned in the post, I wasn't too sure how to go about encapsulating that wonderful tea flavour into my sponge other than infusing it into some milk.  The vast majority of sites I came across suggested infusing the tea bags into some warm melted butter and then allow it to solidify again before baking.  Although this technique worked well giving a delicate tea flavour, it occurred to me to carry out one of my Side-by-Side Baking experiments to see which method carried the tea flavour in the bake most effectively.

Creating a tea flavoured sponge by infusing in butter, infusing in milk, and simply adding the tea leaves to the batter