Wednesday, 9 April 2014

EASY EASTER & EASTER NESTS


Oh my goodness, I just love these.  They are the easiest treat to make for Easter, and perfect for making with children.  They take no time at all so can be made and eaten within 1/2 an hour.

The only tricky bit is getting hold of the kataifi pastry.  It's a Greek pastry made from shredded filo pastry and looks like shredded wheat.  I usually find it in Mediterranean supermarkets in the freezer section but you can also buy it on line.


150g Kataifi Pastry
20g Butter
20g Sugar
Pinch Mixed Spice

Nutella
Chocolate Mini Eggs


Melt the butter and sugar in a pan and stir in the mixed spice.  Pull apart the pastry and stir it into the melted butter to coat as much as you can.

Now use the pastry to form nests in a muffin tray.  Make sure you push them firmly against the sides and leave a dip for your eggs in the centre.


Bake for 10 minutes at 180C Fan.  They will be crisp and golden.  Leave them to cool slightly in the tray then remove to a cooling rack.

Now put a teaspoon of Nutella in the centre and finish with mini eggs.


If you're wanting a more relaxing Easter break, no one is going to think badly of you for popping to the supermarket  for your Easter treats.  Sainsbury's have a great range of goodies from Chocolate Hot Cross Buns and Carrot Cake to Praline or Belgian Chocolate eggs.





Easter is for everyone so why not put an Easter hamper together and add a bottle of champagne or some lovely breakfast tea.



Sunday, 6 April 2014

CHOCOLATE HOT CROSS BUN LOAF


.Sometimes I get a really inspired to come up with new ideas and recipes to bake and having Easter round the corner has been a real inspiration.  I've been trawling the internet for easy ways to decorate cupcakes with an Easter theme and found some wonderful websites like Baking Mad who have some great Easter recipes to give a go.

It wouldn't be Easter without Hot Cross Buns and with the added bonus of chocolate we're definitely onto a winner.  I've substituted the fruit for chocolate chips and added cocoa to the flour for a double chocolate hit.

For this I've made one large loaf because I like to slice and toast it the next day but you may prefer the more traditional individual buns.

I like to use a 'Dried Fast Action Yeast' because it's handy and I know I always have it in but you can use fresh yeast which most supermarkets will give you for free from their in store bakery if you ask.

250ml Slightly Warm Milk
500g Allinson's Strong White Bread Flour
15g Yeast (Fresh or Dried)
50g Butter
40g Silver Spoon Sugar
30g Cocoa Powder
5g Salt
2 Eggs
50g Silver Spoon Dark Chocolate Chips

Crosses
2 tbsp Plain Flour
1 tbsp Sugar
water to mix

Glaze
1 tbsp Sugar
2 tbsp Water

Warm the milk slightly, you don't want it hot just take the chill off it.  Rub the butter and fresh yeast if you're using it, into the flour.  Just as you would with pastry till there are no lumps.  Next stir through the sugar and dried yeast if you're using that, along with the cocoa and salt.

Beat the eggs and pour them in with the milk.  I use a knife to get me started with the mixing, you could use a free standing mixer if you have one.  Bring it together to form a dough then tip it onto a lightly oiled surface and start kneading.

It will be sticky to start, if it's too sticky dust your hands with flour, not the surface.  If you add flour this will toughen up your dough and we want it nice and soft.  The softer your dough is, the softer your bread will be.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes, I know! but you can skip the gym today :)  Return the dough to your mixing bowl and cover with cling film or a disposable shower cap and leave to rise for 1 hour in a warm draft free place.

It will have risen after the hour, but now you're going to knock the air out, flatten it on a surface and sprinkle on the chocolate chips.  Roll the dough up so the chocolate is distributed through the dough and form into your loaf shape.  Pop the dough into a 2lb loaf tin (I use a loaf liner to be on the safe side) and cover with a clean tea towel for a further hour.

Once the dough has risen again mix the flour, sugar and water to make a slightly runny paste and pipe your cross onto the loaf.

Bake for 25-35 minutes at 200C but keep an eye on it as sweet dough can burn quite easily.  While it is baking heat the sugar and water for the glaze till the sugar has melted.  Remove the loaf and check it's cooked by tapping the bottom for a hollow sound.  Brush the top with the glaze to finish and leave to cool (for as long as you can keep yourself away)


HAPPY EASTER xx

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

SIMNEL SCONES


So Easter is just around the corner and as always this presents us with many baking opportunities.  I'm not a great fan of fruit cake or marzipan so Simnel cake is out for me.  However, I rather like marzipan baked into things, so, combined with a handful of sultanas (the fruit bit) I've come up with these little beauties, and guess what, it makes 11-12!  They make a great alternative treat to chocolate at Easter.

The grated marzipan gives you enough of a hit of almond and some nice chewy bits.  You could of course have them with jam and cream, but these went down very well still warm from the oven with butter.

400g Self Raising Flour
100g Butter or Baking Margarine
50g Soft Brown Sugar
150g Marzipan, grated
50g Sultanas
200g Milk
Egg wash to finish

Rub the butter into the flour till you get a fine crumble and all the butter has disappeared.  Stir in the sugar, marzipan and sultanas then gradually add the milk to form a soft dough.  Tip the dough onto a floured surface and gently bring it together to form a smooth ball.  Don't work it to much, no kneading, you don't want to make it all tough.  Remember, the softer your dough the softer your scones will be.

Know roll out the dough to about 4cm or 1.5".  Cut out your scones using a 2.5" cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Re-roll any off cuts until all the dough is used.

Brush the scones with egg wash (1 egg beaten with a dash of milk) and bake for 20-25 minutes at 180C fan.


HAPPY EASTER BAKING x