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  1. French Chocolate Tart

    April 26, 2014 by sarah

    When you read this, we will be on our holidays in Iran. Isn’t modern technology great? I have been so looking forward to this trip; exotic and unknown. I am also looking forward to sharing with you when I get back, especially on the food.

    This recipe is a stand-by for dinner parties or get to togethers because it is thrown together with minimal fuss and made in advance. Despite the speed at which it is put together, the resulting tart is luscious and very chocolaty. The taste depends on the quality of the ingredients so do not skimp and buy the best chocolate and butter you can. Hope you have occasion to use it too; please invite me!

    chocolate tart (1 of 3)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Ingredients

    • 150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
    • 135g unsalted butter, chopped
    • 55g caster sugar
    • 1 tablespoon brandy or orange-flavour liqueur
    • 3 large eggs (total weight in shells 200-220g)
    • ¾ tablespoon plain flour

    chocolate tart (2 of 3)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Method

    1. Preheat oven to 180 ⁰C/fan 160 ⁰C.
    2. Generously grease a 18cm diameter springform tin. Line the base with baking parchment and grease this too. Wrap the outside of the tin with tin foil so it will be water tight up to half its depth.
    3. In a saucepan over a low heat, melt the butter, chocolate and sugar, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove to heat and allow to cool to below body temperature and add the liqueur.
    4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly until a little foamy. Sift over the flour and then beat in. While whisking the eggs, pour over the chocolate mixture and beat until smooth.
    5. Pour into the prepared tin. Sit the tin in a deep roasting tray and pour boiling water around the edge to come 2cm up the sides of the tin.
    6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are set but there is still wobble in the middle. Take the tin out of the water and cool the tin on a cooling rack until completely cool then remove the cake from the tin. Decorate with icing sugar if wished.

    chocolate tart (3 of 3)


  2. Rhubarb fool

    April 18, 2014 by sarah

    The first rhubarb of the Spring is a special thing and deserving of a kind of reverence. The first crop from the garden; the start of hopeful bounty from the earth. And then the pale pink to deep red stems that haven’t yet been turned green with age. So here is my homage to the first rhubarb of Spring. Yes, you can buy it at Christmas in the supermarkets but that is not the same as harvesting your own. But if time is pressing, rather than saying there is no time to make a real pudding, cheat and use the excellent ready made custard available to buy. I admit it. I did.

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    Rhubarb Fool

    • 180ml/ half pint of double cream, cold from the fridge
    • Half the amount of the custard from the recipe below or half of a pint/500ml tub of good quality vanilla custard (e.g. Waitrose Madagascan vanilla custard)
    • Medium bunch of fresh spring rhubarb
    1. Cook the rhubarb – I like to chop the rhubarb into short sections and put in a shallow baking dish with a good sprinkling of caster sugar and bake in a medium oven for 20-30 minutes until soft. Alternatively you could do the same in a pan on the hob. Allow the rhubarb to cool fully.
    2. Whip the cream until soft peak stage.
    3. Fold together the whipped cream, custard and rhubarb which should be in roughly equal proportions i.e. a third of each. Carefully spoon into pretty glasses and refrigerate until required.

     

    Proper English Custard

    Ingredients

    • 570ml/1 pint milk (whole milk or add some cream to reduced fat milk to same volume)
    • 1 vanilla pod or ½ tsp vanilla extract
    • 4 eggs, yolks only
    • 30g/1oz caster sugar
    • 1 level tablespoon cornflour
    1. Bring the milk (with cream if adding) and vanilla pod to simmering point slowly over a low heat.
    2. Remove the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the milk.
    3. Whisk the yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a bowl until well blended.
    4. Pour the hot milk and cream on to the eggs and sugar, whisking all the time with a balloon whisk.
    5. Return to the pan, (add vanilla extract at this point if using) and over a low heat gently stir with a wooden spatula until thickened. Take off the heat and cover with cling film so that the cling sits on the surface of the custard so that a skin does not form.

    rhubarb (4 of 5) rhubarb (2 of 5)


  3. Spice 5 – Cinnamon – Cinnamon Rolls

    March 30, 2014 by sarah

    Cinnamon. A beautiful warm, sweet spice, which I am sure we are all familiar with. Essential in many of the recipes we know and love, such as apple pie and mulled wine. True cinnamon comes from the bark of young saplings of Cinnamomum verum, a tree native to Sri Lanka (also known as Ceylon), which is stripped and rolled by hand to form quills. The cinnamon available in Europe can only come from this source, but it is also possible to get ‘cassia’ which is harvested from other Cinnamomum species, but is less aromatic and subtle than true cinnamon and the bark is much tougher. Cinnamon has many health benefits including anti-clotting and anti-oxidant actions, helping to control blood sugar levels in diabetes, and anti-viral and anti-microbial actions. However, too much cinnamon can be harmful due to it containing coumarin which can cause liver and kidney damage in high concentrations. The EU has set limits to reduce exposure to this but at levels that will actually affect the taste in the produce – so if you want your cinnamon baked goods to actually taste of cinnamon, you know who to blame so make it yourself! See this article on cinnamon!

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    I decided to make cinnamon rolls as they were made recently on a blog I follow irregularly. However, this and all the other recipes I could find were American so had the usual problems with measurements in cups and using something called all purpose flour. Also, this is an enriched dough and in the past I have had great trouble getting enriched dough, such as for hot cross buns or stollen, to rise. Where do you leave your dough to raise – an airing cupboard or low oven? I found that using a reptile heat mat obtained online for a small sum gave me a specified level of warmth so that even on the coldest winters day when the heating has been off for hours I can still rise dough and make bread. This time I used our conservatory as the sun had been warming it all day but did the second proving on the mat as it was evening by then.

    cinnamon (1 of 4)

    Grown-up Cinnamon Rolls

    Dough
    500g strong white bread flour
    100g caster sugar (golden/unprocessed if you have it)
    75g butter, melted
    2 medium free-range eggs, beaten
    200ml milk
    1 sachet/7g dry yeast
    1 teaspoon salt
    zest of 1 lemon
     
    Filling
    50g unsalted butter, softened
    100g soft brown sugar
    2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon salt
     
    Glaze
    150g soft brown sugar
    1 tablespoon whiskey or other alcohol of choice
    1 teaspoon vanillar extract
    30g butter
    115g icing sugar
     
    Make the dough. Heat the milk until body temperature/tepid and add the yeast; leave until starting to foam (how quickly depends on type of yeast). In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest and make a well in the middle. Into the well add the now activated yeast, the two beaten eggs and the melted butter. Mix with fingers/hand until comes together then turn out onto a well floured surface. Knead for about 5-10 minutes until comes together and is silky smooth. The dough will be quiet wet/tacky to begin with but keep working and will firm up. If it feels very sticky, add a little more flour when kneading.
    Place the kneaded dough into an oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film. Leave somewhere warm until at least doubled in size.
    How log this takes varies with a lot of factors but allow at least 2-3 hours.
     
    Make the filling. In an small bowl, beat the dry ingredients into the softened butter.
     
    Make the rolls. Punch down the proven dough and roll/stretch out on a work surface until forms a rectangle 15″ long by 9/10″ wide. Sticking the edge closest to you down to the table and then rolling away works best. Spread the filling evening over the rectangle, leaving a 1/2″ border at the long edge furthest from you. Starting at the long end closest to you, tightly roll up the dough over the filling. Seal the final unfilled margin but dampening with water and then pressing the dough firming into it.
    Cut the dough across the roll up to make 1″ sections. This amount should make about 18 slices.
    Lightly grease a couple of pan such as square brownie pans. Put the slices in the pans, allowing a good 1/2″ around each to allow for expansion.
    Cover with greased cling film and leave somewhere warm until doubled in volume – about an hour.
     
    Cook the rolls. Preheat the oven to 180 C or 160 C fan. Bake until golden brown, take about 20-25 minutes.
     
    Make the glaze. While the rolls are cooking, make the glaze. Combine all the ingredients except the icing sugar, in a small pan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted. Take off the heat and beat in the icing sugar, sieving over the top to stop lumps forming. Alow the rolls to coll for 10 minutes in their pans then pour the glaze over so that it covers all the buns and soaks through to the bottom. Allow the glaze to set for 20 minutes or so before serving with a large mug of coffee.
     
    cinnamon (3 of 4) cinnamon (2 of 4)
     

  4. About Me

    March 17, 2013 by sarah

    085Hello friends and thank you for stopping by my wee blog! I have started this blog to get away from Facebook, to start some digital scrapbooking and see where this path leads me!

    My name is Sarah Keir and by day (and plenty of nights and weekends too) I am a  small animal veterinarian in the South-East of England. The rest of the time that I call my own I bake plenty of cakes, craft all sorts and am obsessed with vintage chic. My perfect weekend would be sunny (naturally), wearing a 1950’s dress and apron, knock together a teddy or vintage inspired brooch, make some delicious cakes and have friends round to enjoy them. The rest of the time my taste testers are my husband Mr K and my work mates who devour anything I produce. Anything that fails goes to the chickens – my lovely girls that keep me supplied with fresh eggs for my baking attempts.