Frangipane Mince Pie Slices

2016-12-12-18-47-33

Mince Pies but without all the fiddly pastry! These Frangipane Mince Pie Slices have all the flavours you’d associate with mince pies but in a tray bake instead of an individual little pie.

Mince Pies may not be something you are aware of if you’re not from the UK. They are little sweet pies filled with mincemeat which is a sweet filling consisting of dried fruits, spices and spirits. Although I love a mince pie, mincemeat does divide people and it’s not everyone’s thing!

For me it isn’t Christmas until the mince pies have been made. However the traditional way of making them is a little fiddly as you have to cut out circles of pastry before filling with mincemeat and then topping with more pastry. At a time of year when there is always so much going on, a quicker version is always welcome!

I thought about making a tray bake as a way to speed the mince pie process up. I have come up with this recipe which includes the added extra of frangipane and after a couple of tester bakes sampled by my friends at work, I have come up with the below recipe. I like a good thick layer of mincemeat but feel free to use a bit less if you would like. You could also scatter the top with flaked almonds before putting it into the oven.

These Frangipane Mince Pie Slices freeze really well so make a batch and freeze some ready to whip out the night before you have guests coming. You will then have a lovely home baked treat for your guests without any last minute stress!

Enjoy and remember to thank me when you’re no longer cutting out circles of pastry!

For the shortcrust pastry
175g plain flour
75g butter 
2 – 3 tbsp cold water 

For the frangipane
150g butter, softened

150g caster sugar
60g plain flour
90g ground almonds
2 ½ large eggs, beaten
¼ tsp almond extract
½ an orange zest, grated

600g mincemeat 

  1.  Start by making the pastry. Measure the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
  2. Add enough water to form a soft dough. Add it gradually because you might not need to add all three tablespoons
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Roll the dough out on a slightly floured surface and line the bottom of the tin with it

2016-12-11-15-42-34

  1. In another bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the rest of the frangipane ingredients and mix until combined

2016-12-18-16-57-37

  1. Spread the mincemeat evenly across the pastry making sure you get right to the edges

2016-12-18-16-56-45

  1. Dot spoonfuls of the frangipane on top of the mincemeat and spread evenly

2016-12-11-15-48-23

  1. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and then allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so before turning out onto to wire rack to cool completely. Then cut into squares and enjoy!

2016-12-11-16-26-07

 

No-bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

2016-10-01-10-22-14

Gloriously indulgent and pure peanut butter chocolatey goodness. These bars will change your life.

Ok so maybe that was slightly dramatic, but they will mean you don’t need to buy Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups again! These bars are everything you want when you get the craving for peanut butter and chocolate. You will find it incredibly hard to have just one!

This recipe is from a fantastic blog  which I have featured before – Sally’s Baking Addiction. Make sure you go and have a look at the recipe on her blog as there is a video showing you exactly how she makes them. I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly by using digestive biscuits instead of graham crackers and milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate. Here in the UK we do not have graham crackers, so digestives are our closest alternative. The chocolate was simply because I like milk chocolate more so feel free to use which you would prefer.

Apart from how amazing these bars taste, they are also fantastically easy to make and you don’t even need an oven! Don’t get put off by the simplicity of the ingredients, they really do taste like Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. I was more than slightly dubious about the digestive biscuits as I thought there was no way biscuits would provide the right flavour or texture. I was definitely pleasantly surprised!

2016-10-01-10-22-47

115g salted butter, melted
1 cup (approximately 120g) digestive biscuits, crushed
120g icing (powdered) sugar
185g + 30g smooth peanut butter
180g milk chocolate

  1. Line a 20x20cm baking tin with parchment paper
  2. Melt the butter in a heatproof bowl in the microwave and set aside. Blitz the digestive biscuits in a food processor into a fine crumb and add to the melted butter along with the icing sugar and 185g peanut butter

2016-09-29-20-14-20

2016-09-29-20-18-25

  1. Spread the mix evenly onto the bottom of the prepared tin
  2. Melt the chocolate along with 30g peanut butter in  heatproof bowl in the microwave making sure you check and stir the mix often

2016-09-29-20-26-29

  1. Pour the melted chocolate and peanut butter mix over the biscuit base and smooth out evenly

2016-09-29-20-32-48

  1. Allow to full cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Cut into small squares and enjoy!

2016-09-30-18-58-50

Fruity Biscotti

Cat Biscotti 1 copy

Photo by Betty

Crunchy biscuits packed with fruits and nuts with a subtle hint of spice, perfect dipped in a cup of coffee.

Week 2 of GBBO is biscuit week! As with most things, I am quite fussy when it comes to biscuits. I will never be the person getting exited over a bourbon! The one biscuit I cannot resist is a chocolate caramel digestive biscuit which is strange as I’m not usually a fan of caramel. It is just not safe if they’re in the house because I do find myself eating more than I should!

The three bakes were Biscotti, Arlettes and a 3D box made of biscuits, filled with biscuits. For Christmas last year I made Fruity Biscotti as part of my Chistmas Menu but never got round to blogging about them so now was the perfect opportunity! After looking at a number of recipes I decided to make this one by Good Food because of how many different fruits and nuts were in it and it went down very well. The original recipe can be found here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/8022/fruity-christmas-biscotti

One of the great things about biscotti is that you can make a batch and keep it in a airtight container for up to a month. This makes it perfect to make ahead and bring out at family occasions – particularly Christmas. They also make really lovely gifts put in cellophane bags and tied with ribbon.

350g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
250g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
grated zest of 1 orange
85g raisins
85g dried cherries
50g blanched almonds
50g shelled pistachios

  1. Heat oven to 180ºC (fan 160ºC) and line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Mix the flour, baking powder, mixed spice and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs and orange zest until it starts to form clumps. Bring the dough together with your hands – don’t worry it will be dry at first but keep kneading until there are no floury patches left in the bottom of the bowl
  2. Add the fruit and nuts and knead them into the dough making sure they are evenly distributed
  3. Lightly flour your surface and tip the dough out onto it. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and then roll each piece into a sausage approximately 30cm long. Put 2 ‘sausages’ on each tray making sure they are well apart
  4. Bake for 25-30 mins until the dough has risen and feels firm to the touch, it should still be pale at this stage. Transfer onto a wire rack and allow to cool until they are cool enough for you to touch
  5. Turn down the oven to 140ºC (fan 120ºC). Cut the dough into slices about 1 cm thick on the diagonal using a bread knife and then lay them flat on the baking tray. You can cool the biscuits at this stage and freeze them flat on the baking tray, then put into bags and frozen for 2 months
  6. Bake for another 15 mins (20 mins if from frozen), turn them over and thne bake for another 15 minutes until dry and golden
  7. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container for up to one month

2014-10-12 20.32.37

Make sure you check out the rest of the bloggers baking biscuits this week for the Great Bloggers Bake Off 2015 at http:///www.mummymishaps.co.uk

Mummy Mishaps

Chocolate Bark

2015-06-20 09.15.35Your favourite chocolate sprinkled with some of your favourite flavours – what’s not to love?

This is almost not a recipe, but more of an assembly of ingredients which makes it perfect for people of all cooking abilities. It is also extremely easy to adapt the recipe depending on what you like.

I initially made this for Father’s Day (yes it has taken me a while to write this post!) for mine and Rien’s Dad’s. I’ve never gone crazy on Mother’s and Father’s Day but I like to do something thoughtful. Instead of just buying our the Dad’s chocolate, I decided to make them Chocolate Bark.

My Dad’s chocolate of choice is always dark chocolate. I added flavours I know he likes and would go really well with the dark chocolate; cashews, sea salt and chilli flakes. Add as much or little as you like, my Dad likes chilli so I added quite a generous sprinkle.

Rien’s Dad has a major weakness for Galaxy so I knew I had to use that. Unlike the dark chocolate, I added different chocolates I knew Rien’s Dad likes such as Malteasers and Minstrels as I wasn’t as sure of what flavours he would like. I finished it by adding some mini fudge pieces and gold sprinkles.

  1. Melt 400g of your chosen chocolate in a bowl set over simmering water – make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl and you stir the chocolate occasionally

2015-06-19 19.43.00

  1. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Once the chocolate has completely melted, pour it onto the lined baking tray and spread until it is the thickness you would like
  2. Add any toppings/flavourings you want onto the chocolate and then put in the fridge for a couple of hours until set

2015-06-20 09.07.18

  1. Once hard, break the chocolate into shards and enjoy!

2015-06-20 09.09.57

I put the chocolate in cellophane bags and tied with some ribbon to make them look good but also manly!

2015-06-20 09.24.54

Bakewell Slices

2015-03-14 16.34.43

My Mum has been asking me to make Bakewell Slices for months. She had one from Pret A Manger a while ago and thought it was delicious so she asked me if I could make them for her. I thought Mother’s Day was the perfect time to make them for her, but it did mean keeping her waiting for a while!

I had tried to throw her off the scent by telling her I had made her cupcakes. She does like my cupcakes, but like me isn’t really a fan of buttercream so it wouldn’t be the best thing to make her for Mother’s Day. When I went over to my parent’s house on Mother’s Day, I gave Mum the box and said “here are your cupcakes”. When she opened the box and saw the Bakewell Slices her face lit up, she looked so happy! It was so lovely to see her so excited, I don’t think I could have got her a present she would have liked more. She ate one in seconds and said how tasty it was and she even joked and said Dad would be lucky if she let him have one!

Mum did say she hadn’t expected me to make my own pastry, but this was so simple and quick I thought it would be more fuss to use pre-made pastry! Feel free to use pre-made shortcrust pastry if you find this easier.

Mary advised to use roughly four tablespoons of jam but at the same time said to be generous. I didn’t actually measure the jam out, I just used enough to make a good thick layer which turned out to be about half a jar. The last thing I would have wanted would be a thin layer of jam!

A tip for this recipe is to dot the sponge mix around instead of adding it all in one area. Then using a spatula, spread it out carefully making sure you don’t mix the jam in with the sponge mix. It may look a little messy when you’ve finished but don’t worry after it has baked it will look great.

 For the shortcrust pastry
175g plain flour
75g butter 
2 – 3 tbsp cold water 

For the sponge 
100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
175g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
2 tbsp milk
½ tsp almond extract 

To finish
Approximately 4 tbsp raspberry jam
Flaked almonds to sprinkle on top

  1.  Start by making the pastry. Measure the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
  2. Add enough water to form a soft dough. Add it gradually because you might not need to add all three tablespoons

2015-03-14 14.32.35

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Roll the dough out on a slightly floured surface and line the bottom of the tin with it

2015-03-14 14.42.08

  1. Measure all of the sponge ingredients into a bowl and beat until all of the ingredients are combined
  2. Spread the pastry with the raspberry jam and then top with the sponge mix and spread out making sure you completely cover the jam

2015-03-14 14.52.47

  1. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the cake has shrunk from the sides of the tin and springs back when you press the centre with your finger

2015-03-14 15.00.00

  1. Leave to cool in the tin and then turn out and cut into slices

2015-03-14 16.21.09

I can’t remember eating that many Bakewell Slices to be honest but after making this recipe, I will definitely be making them time and time again. The recipe was simple and quicker than I thought it would be. I really loved the three layers; the cake was light an fluffy followed by a lovely layer of raspberry jam and finished with a layer of pastry.

2015-03-14 16.33.47

I found the recipe in Mary Berry’s baking bible. Yet another fantastic recipe from a a great book.

2015-03-14 16.34.18

 

Gym Bunny Mummy

Welsh Cakes

2015-02-09 11.48.21

Welsh Cakes are one of my friends Millie’s favourite things. She’s a bit of an expert as she has tried every Welsh Cake out there; but her favourite are from Waitrose. I knew I had a lot to live up to, but when she asked me to make them for her, I accepted the challenge!

Where better to look for a great baking recipe than the legend that is Mary Berry? Rien bought me one of her books, A Bakng Bible, after I went for afternoon tea with my Mum months ago and had the most delicious orange cake (I still need to make that!) but couldn’t find the recipe on the internet. For traditional British recipes I always look to Mary Berry first because her recipes have always been fantastic.

The weekend my Uni friends came I went a little over the top with baking. I made Reece’s Peanut Buttercup Brownies (http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=1354), Gluten-Free Sundried Tomato Bread (http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=1443), Gluten Free Apple Crumble and these Welsh Cakes. I had a lovely assistant helping me make these though.

The original recipe says to use currants, but I don’t like them as much as sultanas and raisins so I decided to use sultanas instead. It was when Zoe was cutting them out she said she thought the reason why the recipe said to use currants was because they’re smaller so might get in the way less when you’re cutting them out. Use whichever you prefer!

Zoe has since made the recipe using gluten free flour and she said it works just as well so it is really easy to adapt this recipe if you would like to.

350g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
175g butter
115g caster sugar
100g sultanas
¾ tsp mixed spice
1 large egg
2 tbsp milk
Spray oil

  1. Add the flour and baking powder into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs

2015-02-08 12.37.20

  1. Add the sultanas, sultanas and mixed spice
  2. Beat the egg and milk together and then add to the mixture. Mix to form firm dough adding a little more milk if needed

2015-02-08 12.42.51

  1. Lightly flour your surface and roll out the dough to a thickness of approximately 5mm

2015-02-08 12.46.52

  1. Cut them out using a round cutter

2015-02-08 12.50.46

  1. Heat a frying pan on a low heat and spray with oil. Cook the Welsh Cakes on a low heat for approximately 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Make sure you don’t cook them too quickly or else they will turn brown on the outside and won’t be cooked inside

2015-02-08 12.53.26

  1. Cool on a wire rack

2015-02-08 13.25.40

You can sprinkle them with caster sugar and eat them spread with butter if you like. Or if you’re like Millie, you can eat them straight out of the pan! She told me they were even better than Waitrose which was definitely a compliment!

2015-02-09 11.45.33

2015-02-09 11.52.19

Gym Bunny Mummy
Cupcakery

My Christmas menu & first event

2014-11-06 18.26.21

As I have mentioned before, I have been very busy recently with a Christmas menu I put together. It is a list of treats that I thought would be perfect for people to enjoy over Christmas or to give as gifts. The first items I came up with for the menu was chutneys. As you know I had already made my apple and sultana chutney which I knew was tasty so I decided to include it in the menu. One of my favourite shop bought chutneys is caramelised onion which we love to eat with Camembert so I decided I would like to give it a go and see if mine was as good as ones you can buy. The final chutney I decided to make was Mary Berry’s Christmas Chutney – it was a no brainer.

I started making the chutneys back in September because I knew they needed time to mature and get even more delicious. I stared by ordering and making 36 jars of chutney. Once I had started advertising the chutneys to friends and colleagues, it quickly became clear that I needed to order more jars! I was very shocked at how popular the chutneys became and realised last weekend that yet again I needed to order more jars! I’m not going to lie, I hate peeling tomatoes and I have peeled more onions that I would care to imagine, but it is a great feeling to know that something you have made is so popular.

2014-09-28 20.34.47

2014-09-28 20.36.08

I wanted to include little treats that would look good displayed in cellophane bags. Fridge cake was an obvious choice as it is so popular when I make it – it lasts 5 minutes at work. I have always referred to it as fridge cake but some people know of it as rocky road.

Cat Fridge Cake 2 copy

 (Photo by Betty)

I decided to put a spin on my cheese straws that are so popular by turning them into chilli cheese stars. I originally saw the idea on Food Network when Jonathan Phang was making them and thought it was a great idea. Instead of using his recipe, I stuck to my usual cheese straw recipe but added fresh and dried chilli powders before cutting them into stars. I didn’t want to make them too hot so didn’t use the West Indian hot pepper sauce that Jonathan used. Mine have a lovely gentle heat that I think is suitable for everyone’s taste.

Cat Stars 1 copy

(Photo by Betty)

I wanted to have some fudge on the menu; one chocolate and one vanilla. I found a lovely dark chocolate and pistachio fudge recipe by Nigella that turned out really well but I had no such luck with the vanilla fudge. I wanted a fudge with a creamy texture and after four failed attempts I gave up. Two attempts made what people told me was very nice Scottish tablet but this was quite crumbly so not what I was looking for. Another attempt tasted lovely and creamy but it just didn’t harden up enough and was very sticky. The final attempt with the 4th recipe was a complete disaster so I finally gave up!

Cat choc fudge 2 copy

(Photo by Betty)

Mum has a Mary Berry Christmas book so I had a look through there and saw these lovely snowflake shaped iced biscuits. They’re simple to make but really tasty and look very pretty. Someone said to me that they weren’t planning on ordering the biscuits but when they saw the photo they looked so pretty they decided they had to have them.

Cat Star Cookies

 (Photo by Betty)

I had to include mince pies because to me its not Christmas without them – I am a huge fan. My friend Millie told me that if you eat a mince pie on every day from Christmas to Twelfth Night (6th January) you will have happiness for the next 12 months. I thought this was a very cute idea and any excuse to eat mince pies is valid in my opinion!

Cat mince pies 2

(Photo by Betty)

For something that wasn’t too sweet I decided to make some fruity biscotti which a lot of people associate with Christmas. The recipe I chose is packed with cranberries, raisins, almonds and pistachios. I find it slightly dry, but it is traditionally drank with black coffee in Italy.

Cat Biscotti 2 copy

(Photo by Betty)

Finally, I decided I wanted to include some form of sweet. After watching Sweets Made Simple on BB2, I saw how easy cinder toffee was to make. Although it is quite simple, it looks really impressive. I thought you would need all sorts of fancy equipment to make it but liquid glucose is the only ingredient you will need to buy, everything else you’ll already have in your cupboard.

Cat Honeycomb

(Photo by Betty)

The lovely and very talented Betty photographed my Christmas menu for me and made everything look fantastic. She staged the photographs beautifully and gave them a great Christmassy feel. I have had a number of people say to me that the photographs are what made them decide what they wanted to order as they were too tempting to resist! Please visit her website www.greedybetty.com to see more of her fantastic photography.

I initially saw the Christmas menu as a way of friend’s ordering my food, but as the popularity has grown I have put posters up at work and even did my first little event the other day! My friend Tula invited a number of people to her house for what she called her Christmas Extravaganza. I was very excited that she had asked me but also slightly nervous because this would be the first time people that didn’t know me would be trying my food and I would be able to see their reactions.

My Mum came along with me and with her help, I was able to put together a table that I was very happy with and people even commented on how professional it looked. This had a lot to do with my Mum’s help with the food labels and the amazing bunting she made for me. My Mum has spent hours making all of the labels for each item and they would not have looked anywhere near as good if I hadn’t had her help. She is very creative and has been a massive help from the start.

I was nervous about the chutney because although I had tried it once I had made it, I hadn’t tried it when it had matured. I asked my Mum to try it first because I knew she would give me an honest opinion, and luckily she said it was delicious! I was very happy with how many people said how tasty they were and bought them as gifts and for themselves.

2014-11-06 18.26.31

I am so pleased with how successful my menu has become and the upcoming events I have. I am going to have a very busy few weeks!

2014-11-06 18.26.06

2014-11-06 18.26.37

2014-11-06 18.26.44

Brownies

2014-10-18 10.52.03

I have been very busy recently creating a menu of treats for people to give as Christmas presents. I am very happy with how successful it has been so far, but it does mean I have spent most of my spare time trialing recipes and making batch after batch of chutney! Because of this, I have had to put baking to one side. It does sounds a little sad, but I have really missed it! I used my uni friends coming to stay for the weekend as a perfect excuse to have a break from chutney and bake for them.

One of my friends, Zoe has Coeliac disease which means she has a gluten intolerance and has to follow a gluten free diet for medical reasons. Gluten free food seems to be the latest ‘fad’ for people in search of living a healthier life. Although this overshadows people who can’t eat gluten for medical reasons, it at least means that gluten free food is becoming more widely available.

In our first year at uni, Zoe made me delicious brownies for my birthday which were gluten free. She used Nigel Slater’s recipe who is a chef I have admired for years. He speaks so passionately about cooking and creates delicious food. I really like the way he describes his brownies “The crust is thin and lightly crisp, the centre poised between chocolate cake and the texture of a peat bog. The flavour is intense. This isn’t just gastroporn, this is positively pay-per-view.”

Because deliciously gooey brownies aren’t amazing enough, I decided to add Snickers to the mix before it went in the oven. I have seen people do this with lots of different chocolate bars and have wanted to try it for a while. Up until now I deliberately hadn’t bought a square tin because I knew it would tempt me to make brownies. I gave in when I needed one to make fudge for my Christmas menu and so at the first opportunity, I made brownies.

300g golden caster sugar
250g butter
250g chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
3 large eggs plus 1 extra egg yolk
60g flour
60g finest quality cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 23cm x 23cm tin with baking parchment
  2. Beat the sugar and and butter for at least 5 minutes until white and fluffy
  3. Break 200g of the chocolate and melt it in a bowl suspended over simmering water. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water! Keep stirring until the chocolate has melted and become smooth and glossy and then remove from the heat and set aside

2014-10-16 20.38.22

  1. Chop the remaining 50g of chocolate into small chunks and set aside

2014-10-16 20.36.43

  1. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder along with a pinch of salt. Turn the mixer back on to a low speed and add the egg a little at a time. As you add the egg, speed the mixer up
  2. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add in the melted and chopped chocolate and stir with a large metal spoon
  3. Fold in the flour and cocoa mix gently making sure you don’t knock the air out. This can take a couple of minutes to ensure the ingredients are fully combined
  4. Scrape the mix into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Now is the time to add any chocolate bars if you want to. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes. Test the brownies with a cocktail stick – it should come out sticky but not with raw mixture. If it does, put back in the oven for 3 minutes. Remember the brownie will solidify as it cools

2014-10-16 21.00.02

2014-10-16 22.13.11

One of my favourite parts from the original recipe is ” Leave the cake out to cool before cutting. It needs time to calm down. Oh, and if you pull out your skewer and it comes out clean then I’m afraid you have blown it.” He is quite right, what makes a brownie so delicious is its gooeyness so if you over bake it you have ruined it, as harsh as that sounds.

Between the five of us, we managed to easily eat the brownies within 12 hours – four of us ate two in one sitting! They are so rich and moist and delicious and the contrast between the soft gooey brownie and crunchy Snickers is fantastic. Obviously you can make these with ordinary plain flour and any chocolate bar you like; or even leave them as they are.

These are easily one of the nicest things I have baked.

2014-10-18 10.52.51

 

I have since made brownies with Oreos and  Reece’s Pieces – both were delicious.

2015-02-07 14.10.10

2015-05-02 09.44.33

Baklava

2014-10-05 20.30.52

Crisp pastry with deliciously sweet nuts with the amazing flavours of spices and the slight perfume of rose water. Baklava is not your standard treat, there is definitely a sense of luxury when eating it!

I have been very busy lately which is why I didn’t join in last week with #GreatBloggersBakeOff. I spent last Sunday with my Mum making labels ready for my chutneys that I am selling for people to give as presents or enjoy themselves around Christmas. I have been so happy and slightly surprised with how many people have placed orders already. So much so that I have had to order lots more jars to meet the demand! Because of this, I have been spending the majority of my spare time making the chutneys which has meant everything else has taken a back seat. I was looking forward to making doughnuts last week for #GreatBloggersBakeOff but I ran out of time. I have had a doughnut baking tray for a couple of months now which I am dying to use so I will be making doughnuts as soon as I can!

Week 9 of GBBO was patisserie which is something I have never even contemplated trying before. The technical bake and showstopper looked a little bit time consuming which wasn’t what I was looking for, so I decided to make baklava. Like in the show, I have no idea what the correct way to pronounce it is! I didn’t want to mess around with the recipe and wanted to keep it quite traditional. My idea of baklava is filo with pistachios with a syrup flavoured with rose water and honey. There seem to be a lot of slightly different variations out there, but I eventually found a recipe that incorporated all of the ingredients I associate with baklava. I did end up slightly tweaking the recipe but the original one was found at http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/607184. I obviously used ready-made filo pastry. I can’t see myself ever feeling the need to make it myself!

My manager at work has been suggesting baklava as something I could make for months now so when it came up on GBBO, there was no escaping it! I can’t remember ever eating baklava before, so finger’s crossed I like it!

For the baklava
300g shelled pistachio nuts
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
250g filo pastry
140g butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  2. Grind the nuts in a food processor until they are coarsely ground and then mix in the cinnamon
  3. Lightly butter a 23cm square baking dish. Unfold the pastry and cut it in half, keep it under a damp tea towel to stop it drying out. Start layering the filo into the dish lying one sheet vertically and the next horizontally making sure you brush each layer with the melted butter.  After four sheets, scatter with a layer of the nuts. Repeat this until you have used up all of your nuts and filo

2014-10-05 16.21.15

  1. When you have finished, brush the top with melted butter and trim off the filo that is hanging over the tin. Cut diagonal lines right down to the bottom of the tin. The pastry will be too flaky when it comes out of the oven to cut which is why you cut it before it cooks

2014-10-05 16.26.40

  1. Put in the oven for 40-45 minutes until it is golden and crisp. If it is becoming too brown, turn the oven down to 170ºC
  2. Leave to cool

For the syrup
300ml water
350g caster sugar
125ml clear honey
1 tsp cinnamon
½ orange zest
1½ tsp rose water 

  1. Put all of the ingredients into a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until the syrup has reduced by 1/3. Pour the syrup into a jug and let it cool
  2. When the baklava has come to room temperature, pour half of the syrup down the cuts. Leave this to soak in for 5 minutes or so and then pour the remaining syrup down the cuts
  3. Leave for at least an hour to let the syrup soak into the baklava

2014-10-05 18.47.21

2014-10-05 20.31.07

The pastry is deliciously crisp with layers or pistachios smothered with a thick, incredibly sweet syrup with the most amazing flavour which is like nothing I have had before. I think Nigella sums up baklava perfectly “This is so temple-achingly sweet that one small marked-out diamond, or maybe two, is enough. But even so, I love its perfumed sugariness – as much as I love the tender, rose-shot green of its equally fragrant nubbly interior.”

It’s not something you will sit and eat piece after piece, it is so sweet and satisfying that less really is more. This isn’t an everyday dish, but it makes an amazing treat for a special occasion. I am very pleased with how this recipe turned out because I have never used filo before and also because I had a fiddle with the recipe and did it my way.

To see more recipes inspired by GBBO. Please check out www.mummymishaps.co.uk or follow @jennypaulin on Twitter.

GBBO

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cat Bics 1(photo by me)

I first tried this recipe because of it’s claims to be as good as Millie’s cookies – I was not disappointed. They are delicious cookies with a crisp outside and a soft centre which is my favourite part of a cookie! I have made them a number of times since and people have said they taste even better than Millie’s cookies! They are really quick and simple to make. I always seem to have the ingredients in the cupboard for these so I can make a batch whenever is needed and no one is ever disappointed!

You can use chocolate chips you like and also add other flavours. I have made them with white chocolate chips and added 1 tbsp of freeze dried raspberries (I’ve seen these in Waitrose and Sainsburys). You could also try milk chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts.

I really recommend trying this recipe as it is so simple and produces great results!

This was the final recipe that I made for my photography session with @BettyBeston. I learnt so much from my session with her which I am hoping you can see in the photos I have added recently. Please check out her website at www.greedybetty.com – her photographs are amazing!

125g butter or margarine
100g light brown sugar
125g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
225g self raising flour
½ tsp salt
200g chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line baking trays with greaseproof paper and set aside
  2. Cream the butter and the sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined
  3. Sift in the flour and salt and then add the chocolate chips and mix
  4. Shape into walnut sized balls (if this means nothing to you, mine are about the size of a 50p) and place them on the lined baking trays. Make sure the cookies are placed far enough apart to allow room for them to spread in the oven. If you don’t they will merge together and you will get one huge cookie…then again that does sound quite good! If you want them soft in the middle like Millie’s, bake them for 7 minutes. If you want a crisp cookie, bake for 10 minutes. After 7 minutes they will look quite pale and still very squidgey, if you want them soft in the middle don’t be tempted to put them back in because you think they need longer. They will harden up and be perfect

2014-09-25 19.53.14

  1. Take them out of the oven and leave them to cool slightly on the tray before moving them to cool completely on a wire rack

Cat bics 2(photo by me)

Cookies A(photo by Betty)

The original recipe can be found at http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1580654/millies-cookies-recipe