Sugar

Mary Berry’s honeycomb ice cream

honeycombicecream

‘Half Term Treat – Mary Berry’s Honeycomb Crunchies’ is by far my most successful blog post to date – if you judge success by the number of hits that is. This is quite depressing really because I wrote it with minimal effort, in a rush, with the children nipping at my heels.

I love honeycomb and when I had this ice cream at a dinner party recently I was in absolute heaven. I just had to look up the recipe and try it. Mary makes the honeycomb in exactly the same way as in the crunchies recipe and mixes it with a ‘cheat’s’ ice  cream that doesn’t need an ice cream maker. It’s so easy to make and I look forward to trying this ice cream technique with other flavours.

Mary Berry’s honeycomb ice cream

  • 4 tablespoons (60ml)  of golden syrup
  • 150g of caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
  • 600ml of double cream
  • 397g (1 tin) of full-fat condensed milk

Measure out the bicarbonate of soda and set aside. Then line a flat baking tray with baking parchment and lightly grease with a flavourless oil.

Put the sugar and golden syrup into a saucepan and set it on a very low heat for about 10 minutes until all the sugar has melted, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. When the sugar is completely melted, turn up the heat to medium. Once the mixture has started to boil, leave to bubble without stirring until it turns golden-brown (this only takes a couple of minutes).

Turn off the heat, add the bicarbonate of soda and quickly whisk for a couple of seconds. The mixture will froth up massively so make sure you use a saucepan with plenty of room. Quickly pour it into the middle of the oiled baking tray and don’t spread it out or touch it or the tray. Leave for about 30 minutes to cool and harden. You can hurry things along by putting it into the fridge after about 15 minutes.

Now break the honeycomb into bite size pieces. Set a third of the honeycomb to one side for decoration, the rest will go into the ice cream.

For the ice cream, whip the cream in a large bowl until it has soft peaks. Then pour in the condensed milk and stir well to combine. Fold two thirds of the honeycomb into the ice cream.

Pour the ice cream mixture into a loaf tin lined with cling film, cover with more clingfilm and freeze for 6 hours or overnight.

When you are ready to serve, turn out onto a serving dish and top with the remaining honeycomb.

Panettone ‘bread-and-butter’ pudding

panettonepudding

I’m not a huge fan of panettone but there is often one knocking around after Christmas and it does make a delicious cheat’s bread-and-butter pudding. This one came from the bottom box of a ‘Tower of Treats’ and was re-gifted to me in January. I was thrilled because I new exactly what to do with it.

Since there is fruit, mixed peel, butter and sugar already in the panettone you don’t need to add any extra – which is why I use the word ‘cheat’. If you have a particularly sweet tooth you can add some extra sugar to the custard if you like and I do add a light smear of extra butter to the top of each slice of panettone for a nice crispy crust.

It’s the perfect comfort food but very indulgent. Carbs, sugar, fat – it’s all in there. Sorry if you’re trying to be good. I’ll aim for a healthier recipe next time.

Panettone ‘bread-and-butter’ pudding

  • 1 panettone (mine was 500g and 20cm diametre), cut into slices about 2 cm thick
  • 30g of butter
  • 300ml of double cream
  • 600ml of milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar
  • Nutmeg
  • Optional – 50g of caster sugar

Lightly butter a ceramic baking dish approximately 20 cm x 30 cm (or one with a similar area).

Spread the rest of the butter thinly over the top surface of each slice of panettone and arrange in a single layer in the dish but with each slice overlapping the next (as above). If you want it to look prettier then you can cut the panettone slices into smaller pieces but I don’t bother.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream and, if you have a sweet tooth, the caster sugar.

Pour this over the top of the panettone slices, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for at least an hour for the bread to soak up the custard mixture.

When you are ready to cook, remove the cling film and sprinkle over some demerara sugar and a good grating of nutmeg.

Place in an oven preheated to 180oC for 45 minutes – one hour (or until the custard is set – you can test this with a knife in the middle and if it comes out clean then it’s done – and the top is a deep golden brown). Mine took 55 minutes.

Let it stand for 10 minutes (if you can wait that long) before serving. Serve with pouring cream if you like but I think it is perfect just for itself.

panettonepudding2

It tastes so much better than it looks.

Macarons (or is it Macaroons?)

macaroons1

Dainty, pretty and staggeringly expensive macarons seemed to be everywhere in Belgium. We only had them once (as a treat) but this prompted the children to ask when I was going to make macarons again. I vowed that on our return home I would dig out my Mary Berry recipe, defrost the egg whites in the freezer, and rustle some up.

This week I finally kept my promise.

It was then that I remembered why I don’t make macarons very often.

The recipe (which is described as easy) seemed straight forward and all went swimmingly until the part which says very neatly (in soft and calm Mary Berry voice).

“Spoon the macaron mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round nozzle. Pipe 5cm circles onto the baking tray”.

Now what this doesn’t say is that it is almost impossible to hold the piping bag steady with one hand and fill it with the other because the extremely sticky mixture won’t come off the spoon and you’ve run out of hands. And whilst you’ve been faffing about trying to fill the bag from the top the runny mix is dripping straight out the bottom of the nozzle. You just about manage to pipe messy circles but then, when you have to refill the piping bag, you can’t prise it open because it’s stuck together with syrup. And your hands stick to everything they touch because they’re covered in bright green macaron mix…as is the work surface…the sink…and the floor.

Perhaps I needed one of these piping bag stands that they sell in Lakeland.

 

piping-bag-holder

But I don’t like Lakeland – who sell pointless gadgets to the desperate (in this case me) and gullible.

You can also buy this.

pipping-set

 

Now this does look like it would work but I’m not sure I’m that devoted to the art of macaron making to invest in specialist equipment.

Anyway, I battled on and once the rough looking macarons were baked and sandwiched together they didn’t look too bad. I picked out the best ones for the photograph above and placed them on a beautiful James Hake dish which helped.

The thing is I don’t even like macarons. But I do like making people happy and the smile of anticipation on my children’s faces when I showed them the results of my labours was well worth all the fuss and washing up.

I pretended not to hear when they asked “Mummy, when are you going to make macarons again?”

PS. I still don’t know whether it’s macaron or macaroon.

Mary Berry’s macaroon/macaron recipe

Makes 9-12

For the macarons

  • 125g ground almonds
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons of caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar
  • Food colouring (whatever colour takes your fancy)

For the butter cream filling (my recipe)

  • 100g of dark chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 200g of icing sugar

For the macarons, first mix together the icing sugar and ground almonds and try to get rid of any large lumps by crushing with the back of a spoon (you’re meant to blitz in a blender but this makes too much washing up for my liking).

Using an electric whisk beat the egg whites in a scrupulously clean large bowl until stiff peaks form. Then slowly whisk in the cream of tartar and caster sugar until the mixture is smooth and glossy.

With a large metal spoon, gently fold in the food colouring, icing sugar and ground almonds.

Take a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round nozzle. Fill the bag with the mixture (as best you can) and pipe 5 cm circles of mixture onto flat baking sheets lined with baking parchment. I draw around a 5 cm round biscuit cutter onto the baking parchment to make a guide but it is worth noting that the mixture does spread so if you want your macarons to be 5 cm then don’t pipe all the way to the edge. It’s a good idea to leave plenty of space between each macaron in case they spread more than you hope.

If a peak forms on top then flatten it down with a damp finger. Tap the trays sharply onto the work surface to expel any air bubbles and then let the macaroons settle for about an hour, or until the surface is no longer sticky.

Heat the oven to 160oC and bake for 15 minutes.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the baking parchment with a flat knife and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make up the butter cream filling by melting the dark chocolate and mixing with softened butter and icing sugar until smooth. You could also fill the macarons with standard butter cream, or lemon curd or whipped cream.

Use the filling to sandwich the macarons together. Then chill in the fridge until the butter cream has set before storing in an air tight container at room temperature.

Meringues

Meringues.jpg

Up until very recently meringues have been my culinary nemesis (along with brandy snaps but that’s another story).

I was going slightly crazy because I just couldn’t work out what  I was doing wrong. I tried lots of recipes and followed all the advice (buying fresh eggs, scrupulously cleaning the bowl and whisk, separating the eggs with great care).

But they would always collapse when I added the sugar, making a sticky, sickly-sweet, flat disc that was barley edible.

You may wonder why on earth I kept at it. Well I often make other things (custards, ice cream) that use only the egg yolk and meringues are the perfect way to use up the white. Also my grandma is a champion meringue maker and it just didn’t seem right that I couldn’t do it.

Anyway, still frustrated but determined, I watched this YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrjWrWeM5JI) and finally worked out what I was doing wrong. I had been using this whisk attachment that came with my hand blender:

balloonwhisk.jpg

But the in the video the presenter used the two regular beaters instead.

handwhisk.jpg

And when I did that they came out beautifully.

So I am now making meringues regularly and very happily (hence the need for the recipe to be recorded on this blog).

Meringues

(a combination of the recipe in the YouTube video above and Delia Smith’s Pavlova recipe from her Complete Cookery Course)

  • Egg whites
  • Caster sugar – 50g per egg white

Set your oven to 150oC (fan).

Carefully separate your eggs making sure to get no yolk at all in with the white. Save the yolks for another use.

In a very clean, glass bowl, beat the egg whites with your electric hand blender (using the two regular beaters) until you get stiff peaks (in other words the mixture would stay in the bowl if you tipped it upside down).

Measure out 50g of caster sugar for each egg white used. Add this to the egg white a dessert spoonful at a time, mixing after each addition for about 10 seconds with the electric whisk, before adding the next.

At this point I like to swirl a bit of gel food colouring into the mix for a nice effect (yellow is used in the photo above). Dot the food colouring into the mix with a cocktail stick and then swirl a couple of times with a metal spoon.

Take a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and dollop the meringue mix onto the sheet using a metal spoon. You can make the meringues any size you like, or shape into a large circle with an indent in the middle if you are making a Pavlova.

3 egg whites will make five large meringues (as above) or one Pavlova.

Put the meringues into the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 140oC.

Bake for one hour, then turn the oven off (do not open the door) and leave in the oven overnight until they are completely cool.

Store in an airtight container.

Peanut butter cookies

peanut butter cookies

If you think sugar and salt are evil then turn away now.

These cookies have both in abundance but they are absolutely delicious.

And I do apologise to anyone on a diet because there has been a bias towards sweet recipes on this blog in recent weeks. Believe it or not I do have some health food blogger followers, because I do occasionally post a recipe with kale in it.

Anyway, talking of sweet treats, hands up if you knew it was National Dessert Day on Wednesday. I didn’t until the University of Nottingham tweeted about it like it was something real that should be taken in all seriousness.

In a household where we nearly always have pudding, I struggle with the concept of ‘National Dessert Day’. Does it mean that you can only have dessert on that day, or does it mean you should have double the amount of dessert? Either way, for me, these national/international days of whatever some marketing bod fancies are a load of old tripe (but then this is coming from someone who doesn’t do Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Valentine’s Day).

But let’s give a big cheer for pudding (or dessert if you must) because it makes life worth living. And if you’re NOT on a diet then do try these cookies. I challenge you to only eat one.

Peanut butter cookies

Based on a recipe from the NY Times website (I’ve changed the name from ‘Salty sweet peanut butter sandies’ because that’s a bit too American for me)

Makes about 24

  • 115g of butter, softened (add a large pinch of salt to the recipe if you’re using unsalted butter)
  • 75g of granulated sugar
  • 85g of light brown sugar
  • 205g of peanut butter, smooth or chunky
  • 1 egg
  • 125g of plain flour
  •  1 teaspoon of Maldon sea salt and 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar for sprinkling

Heat your oven to 170oC and line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

Cream the butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy (in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, with an electric hand mixer or by hand with a wooden spoon).

Add the peanut butter and egg, and mix. Add the flour and salt and mix until well combined.

Put heaped teaspoons of dough onto the baking sheets. The original recipe uses a cookie scoop but I’ve never heard of one of these. The cookies will not spread much when they bake so they can be placed quite close together, but leave room for air circulation so they can brown.

In a small bowl, mix one teaspoon of Maldon sea salt (or other flaky sea salt) and one of granulated sugar. Sprinkle each cookie lightly with this mixture.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown.

Carefully lift the cookies off the baking sheets with a palette knife and cool on wire racks.

Try not to eat too many in one go.

Peanut butter squares

peanut squares

Some of you will already be yawning because if you haven’t made Lorraine Pascal’s peanut butter squares I bet you will have eaten one made by someone else. They were quite the thing about three years ago when the TV programme and book came out. I’ve had many but it was only this week that I finally got around to making them myself  (I was at a loose end with two mardy and overheated children to cheer up).

These are good to make with kids because all young children like bashing up digestive biscuits with a rolling pin and breaking up chocolate into small pieces. But if you’re like me you’ll spend most of your time telling them off for trying to eat all the ingredients.

I’m trying to be good at the moment diet-wise, so it was torturous making such deliciously sweet, calorific delights and then trying not to eat them all up. I didn’t actually eat a whole one but I did wolf down all the crumbs left over from cutting them into squares (which probably amounted to more calories anyway). I’m not a huge fan of peanut butter but I do like digestives, Snickers bars and chocolate and so I just love these.

Lorraine Pascal’s peanut butter squares 

Makes 16

  • 150g of butter
  • 200g of good quality chocolate (dark, milk or a mixture)
  • 250g of digestive biscuits
  • 200g of soft light brown sugar
  • 300g of crunchy peanut butter (this is a staggering amount- almost a whole small jar). I only had smooth so I reduced the amount slightly and added some chopped peanuts (which are visible in the above photo).
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt (my addition because I’m a salt addict)

Line a 20cm square tin with baking parchment, leaving some excess paper hanging over the edges (this makes it easier to lift out once set).

Melt the butter in a large pan over a low heat, or do this in the microwave.

Blitz the digestive biscuits and brown sugar in a blender or food processor until you have fine crumbs. Or do this in the old fashioned way with a plastic bag and a rolling pin (much more fun and less washing up).

Tip the sugar and biscuit crumbs into the melted butter. Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla extract and mix together so everything is well combined. Tip the mixture into the lined tin and press it down really hard with the back of the spoon.

Snap the chocolate into squares and throw into a small bowl. Melt in the microwave in 30 second blasts, stirring well between each addition or sit the bowl over a pan over simmering water.

Pour over the melted chocolate, tilting the tin back and forth a bit so that the whole thing is evenly covered. Pop in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up (or the fridge for an hour).

Once the chocolate is set, remove it from the freezer (or fridge). Lift it out of the tin with the help of the baking parchment. Remove the paper and then use a sharp knife to divide it into 16 squares.

NOTE: I think these are best kept in the fridge until you are ready to eat.

Leftover Easter egg cookies

chocolatechipcookies

Even though we don’t celebrate Easter and don’t buy eggs for other people, we seem to have a ridiculously large number of Easter eggs in the house. You may think this is a good thing, but then you’re probably a disciplined person who has the will power to make your eggs last until Christmas, carefully limiting yourself to a few nibbles each evening.

I am not like this. Whilst I don’t really buy chocolate, if I know it’s in the house then it plays on my mind, whispering ‘eat me’ and tormenting me to the point that I just have to eat it all up very quickly so that it’s gone.

The children are the same. If they know chocolate is easily available then they nag at me constantly, behaving well to get it and then turning into little monsters once they’ve eaten it.

With all this in mind, I’ve been looking at recipe ideas for leftover Easter eggs so that I can bake some treats to give away. There are lots of recipes which claim to do this which had to be dismissed when it came to the ingredients listing requiring ‘Xg of good quality dark chocolate’. Good quality…dark chocolate…I’m not sure where they are buying their eggs from?

In the end I made these 10 minute chocolate chip cookies based on a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe. The children really enjoyed making them and they are yummy. Eat one yourself, let the kids have one each and then give the rest away (and it won’t look like you’re trying to get rid of your Easter eggs at all).

10 minute chocolate chip cookies

Makes about 18

  • 125g of butter
  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 75g of light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 150g of plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon of baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 100g of chocolate (this is roughly 1 small Easter egg), broken into small chunks

Set your oven to 190oC.

Melt the butter in a saucepan or microwave.

Measure the sugars into a mixing bowl, pour in the melted butter and mix well.

Add the beaten egg and vanilla extract and mix well.

Sift in the flour and baking powder. Add the salt and broken up chocolate and mix well.

Leave the mixture for 10 minutes to firm up a bit, then spoon heaped teaspoons of mixture on to a flat baking sheet (line it with baking parchment if it’s not totally non stick). Leave plenty of space in between because they really spread out. I could fit 6 on one 33cm square baking sheet and therefore cooked in 3 batches.

Place in the oven for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Less time will mean a chewy texture, more and they will be crisp.

Remove from the oven and leave on the baking sheet for a few minutes to firm up. Place on a wire rack until cool enough to eat.

Baklava

baklava 2

I’ve been meaning to make baklava for months and I spent so long dithering and researching recipes that when I came to make it I completely bamboozled myself with the options. I’m amazed that everything ended up OK because in the end I cobbled together a recipe by taking bits from Nigella, Jamie, Felicity Cloake AND the recipe on the back of the filo packet.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my 37 years it’s that you should get on and face the things you fear because most of the time they end up not being so bad after all. Making baklava was a case in point. I put off making it because I thought it would be tricky but it was actually pretty straightforward.

You could easily tinker with this recipe to get it just to your liking. You could vary the mix of nuts depending on what you have to hand/what you like/what you can afford. And if you don’t like too much spice then it’s not necessary to include as much/or indeed any cardamom, ground cloves or cinnamon.

I didn’t have a sweet tooth until I breast fed my children but I developed a sugar fixation then which has never left me. Just a tiny square of baklava is usually thought to be enough but I think I could easily eat several pieces in one go – no problem.

Baklava

  • 1 pack of filo pastry (I used Theos ready rolled which comes in a 250g packet with 12 sheets)
  • 100g of melted butter (or more if needed, I melted 200g but only used half)

Filling

  • 500g of mixed nuts (you can play around with the types depending on your taste but I used 250g of walnuts, 150g of almonds and 100g of pistachios)
  • ¼ teaspoon of cardamom seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • The zest of 1 orange
  • A good pinch of salt

Syrup

  • 125ml water
  • 250g caster or granulated sugar
  • A tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of rosewater
  • 100g of greek honey

Preheat the oven to 160oC.

First chop the nuts. I did this in a mini food processor. Don’t over chop so that they’re like dust, it’s nice to have some larger pieces for bite.

Put the nuts in a bowl and add the cardamom, ground cloves, cinnamon, orange zest, salt and mix well.

Line a deep baking tray 24cm by 34cm and at least 4cm deep with baking parchment so that it comes up the sides of the tray and butter liberally.

Unwrap the filo pastry and trim to the size of the baking tray (I used scissors to do this). Put one layer in the bottom of the tray, then liberally brush another filo sheet with butter and put this on top as lightly as you can. Repeat until you have used four sheets and then spread over half the nut mixture.

Now butter and layer up four more filo sheets, then add the remaining nuts and top with four more sheets of filo (buttering in the same way as before).

Cut into squares or diamonds as neatly as you can with a sharp knife. My technique needs some work (I tried following Nigella’s instructions for traditional diamonds, in her book ‘Feast’, but I think I might do simple small squares next time).

Bake for one hour.

Meanwhile make the syrup by adding the sugar, water and lemon to a small pan, heat over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved then turn up the heat to medium and simmer (without stirring) until the syrup thickens (10-20 minutes, for me it was more like 20).

When an hour is up take the baklava out of the oven and turn up the heat to 180oC. Pour over the syrup being particularly liberal along the cracks and drizzle over the honey (again putting more down the cracks).

Once the oven has come up to temperature put the baklava back in for just 5 minutes.

Leave to cool completely before prizing from the baking tray and storing in an airtight container.

I think baklava is best after a couple of days (if there is any left by that point).

Scone off – Delia vs Paul

scones

Scones are quick and simple to make but I have so many recipes for them that I get confused as to which one is best. So last Sunday I decided to try two recipes and compare them directly. Firstly, I chose a recipe from the stalwart of everyday home cooking – Delia, and secondly, one from the man hailed as the new god of baking – Paul Hollywood.

I was taught to make scones as a child and the following golden rules (most probably my mother’s) are embedded in my brain:

  1. Use a very light touch, work quickly and don’t over mix the dough.
  2. Try to cut as many scones from the first roll as possible as the more you work the dough the heavier they will be.
  3. Bake the scones as close to eating as possible – they always taste better fresh from the oven.

To be honest though even if they turn out a bit dense or uneven, freshly baked scones are always better than horrid, dry, shop-bought ones and once you’ve smothered them in strawberry jam and clotted cream you won’t notice any flaws.

So back to the scone off and whose recipe was best according to the Shelton household. My son hates scones and so didn’t vote. My husband preferred Paul Hollywood’s and my daughter and I favoured Delia’s. So it was:

Delia 2 – Paul 1

I don’t think there’s a male versus female thing going on here, but I do think the large, manly size of Paul’s scones (which he describes as small!!!) did win my husband over. His are also richer and involve an additional step, a process called ‘chaffing’ (sounds slightly worrying in view of his sex god status but all will become clear below).

I liked the simple taste of Delia’s scones better and I definitely AM swayed by the no-nonsense nature of her recipe. There’s no showing off here and straight forward store cupboard ingredients which certainly suits my style of cooking better.

Delia Smith’s basic scones (from her Complete Cookery Course)

Delia

Make about 12 scones

  • 225g of self-raising flour
  • 40g of butter at room temperature
  • 150ml of milk
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of caster sugar
  • A pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 220oC and grease a baking sheet.

First of all, sift the flour into a bowl and rub the butter into it rapidly, using your fingertips. Next stir in the sugar and salt, then take a knife and use it to mix in the milk little by little. Now flour your hands a little and knead the mixture to a soft dough – adding a drop more milk if it feels at all dry.

Then turn the dough out onto a floured pastry board and roll it out to a thickness of not less than 2 cm using a lightly floured rolling pin. Take a 4 or 5 cm pastry cutter and place it on the dough, then tap it sharply so that it goes straight through the dough – don’t twist it or the scones will turn out a peculiar shape. After you have cut out as many scone shapes as you can like that, knead the dough trimmings together again and repeat until you have used it all.

Then place the scones on the greased baking sheet, dust each one with a little extra flour and bake for 12-15 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and eat them slightly warm.

Paul Hollywood’s scones (from ‘How to Bake’)

paul

Makes 15 small scones (I made half the quantity and ended up with 7)

  • 500g of strong white bread flour
  • 80g of unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
  • 80g of caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 250ml of whole milk

To finish

  • 1 medium egg beaten with a pinch of salt

Heat oven to 220oC and line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

Put 450g of the flour into a large bowl and add the butter. Rub the flour and butter together with your fingers to create a breadcrumb-like mixture.
Add the sugar, eggs and baking powder and use a wooden spoon to turn the mixture gently, making sure you incorporate all the ingredients.

Add half the milk and keep stirring to combine. Then add the remaining milk, a little at a time, and bring everything together to form a soft, wet dough. You may not need all the milk.

Sprinkle most of the remaining flour onto a clean surface. Tip the dough onto it. Sprinkle the rest of the flour on top. The mixture will be wet and sticky. Use your hands to fold the dough in half, then turn it 90 degrees and repeat (Paul calls this ‘chaffing’). Do this a few times to form a smooth dough. Be careful not to over work your dough. If it becomes too sticky use some extra flour to coat it or your hands.

Sprinkle a little more flour onto the work surface and the dough, then use a rolling pin to gently roll up from the from the middle and then down from the middle. Turn the dough 90 degrees and continue to roll until about 2.5cm thick. ‘Relax’ the dough slightly by lifting the edges and allowing the dough to drop back onto the surface.

Using a 7cm pastry cutter dipped in flour so that it doesn’t stick, stamp out rounds and place on the trays. Don’t twist the cutter, just press firmly, then lift up and press the dough out. Cut out as many as you can and re-roll the dough bearing in mind that the more you re-roll the less fluffy the scones will be.

Leave the scones to rest for a few minutes, then brush just the tops with the beaten egg to glaze.

Bake for 15 minutes.

scones 2

Marble cake

marble cake 1

This is a really good cake to have in your baking repertoire – it looks impressive but is straight forward to make and doesn’t need icing. It’s a winner in our family (probably because it involves chocolate) and the kid’s love to help make it.

The recipe was printed in a free pull out section of the Daily Mail (this is not a paper that I’m a fan of but my father-in-law gave it to me…honest). It comes from Paul Hollywood’s ‘How to Bake’.

I for one am looking forward to the new series of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ now that the World Cup has ended and there is literally nothing worth watching on TV.

Marble cake

Serves 8 – 12

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of good quality vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250g plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons of full fat milk (although I used semi-skimmed because we don’t buy full fat and it was just fine)
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder

Heat the oven to 180oC fan and line a 1kg loaf tin with baking parchment.

In a large bowl beat the butter, 180g of the sugar and the vanilla extract until light and fluffy (I use an electric hand whisk).

Beat in the eggs one at a time then sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and gently fold in with 2 tablespoons of the milk.

Spoon two thirds of the mix into the prepared tin.

Sift the cocoa powder into the remaining mixture, add the remaining 20g of sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk and fold until well incorporated.

Spoon the chocolaty mixture into the tin then run a fork through both mixes, swirling the two together to make a marbled effect.

Bake in the oven for 45-70 minutes – testing with a skewer after 45 minutes to see whether it is done (it’s done if the skewer comes out clean). Paul leaves his for 55 – 70 minutes but mine was done after 50 minutes.

Remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

You can dust the top with icing sugar if you want it to look pretty.

NOTE: I would advise making this cake when you know it will be eaten up quickly (if you’re having people to stay for the weekend for example). The use of butter and no icing means that it doesn’t keep that well and dries out within a couple of days. If you do have some left however, then you can refresh by zapping each slice in the microwave for a bit (10-20 seconds should do it).