Chocolate Éclairs

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Crisp, airy pastry filled with vanilla cream covered in delicious chocolate. Éclairs are fantastically indulgent and one of my favourite treats.

I love éclairs – fresh cream and chocolate can never be a bad thing. The choux pastry acts a tasty shell for the softly whipped cream and is then smothered with melted chocolate. I was inspired to make these by GBBO, however I was definitely not even slightly tempted to make a structure out of them like the contestants did! I haven’t baked along for a couple of weeks now due to being on holiday for pastry week and then just not being interested in Victorian baking. So when I realised éclairs were on the show, I knew I coudn’t give them a miss.

I’ve only made choux pastry once before when I was in my third year of uni. Don’t all third year uni students spend their evenings baking? It was my friend’s birthday and I can’t remember if I asked her what she would like me to make her, or whether I just remembered her telling me her Nan usually makes her profiteroles. Anyway, I decided to make profiteroles for her. Unfortunately there is no photographic evidence of the profiteroles, but I do remember them being huge, much more like choux buns. She did say they were very tasty though, but she is so lovely she could have just been being polite!

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So four years later, I decided it was time to give choux pastry another go. I chose Paul Hollywood’s recipe because I thought it was a safe bet (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/pauls_chocolate_clairs_59944). I was really chuffed with how they turned out! The only thing I will change next time is to put slightly more pressure on the piping bag as I’m piping the dough as this creates a slightly fatter éclair. Some of the first one’s I piped were a little thin as I didn’t put much pressure on the piping bag. They still looked good, but they didn’t have as much room inside for the cream! So a nice thick éclair means more room for cream!

I took these to my friend’s house who was holding an Afternoon Tea as a baby shower for another of our friends. The éclairs went down very well, someone said they were exactly like shop bought éclairs. Rien said they tasted even better than éclairs you can buy in shops – very unlike him to give such a nice compliment unprompted!

For the choux pastry
65g plain flour
pinch of salt
50g unsalted butter
2 eggs

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC and line a baking tray with baking parchment
  2. Put 120ml of water into a medium sized pan along with the salt and butter. Heat gently until the butter melts making sure you do not let the water boil

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  1. Once the butter has melted, quickly bring the mixture to the boil and then add the flour. Remove the pan from the heat and beat furiously with a wooden spoon until it comes together in a smooth dough

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  1. Put the pan back on a low heat and beat for a minute to slightly cook the dough, it should come away from the sides of the pan and become smooth and glossy
  2. Tip into a bowl to cool until it is only slightly warm

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  1. Beat the eggs and then gradually add them to the dough and mix. Keep adding the egg until the dough falls off a spoon when lightly shaken
  2. Spoon the dough into a piping bag with a 1.25cm plain nozzle. Pipe 12, 10cm lengths onto the baking tray

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  1. Sprinkle the tray, not the dough, with a few drops of water and bake in the oven for 15 minutes
  2. Without opening the oven, reduce the oven to 170ºC and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown and crisp
  3. Take the tray out of the oven and make a small hole in the side of each éclair with a skewer to allow the steam to escape. Put them back in the oven for 5 minutes

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  1. Allow the éclairs to cool completely on a wire rack

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For the filling
200ml whipping cream
5 tsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form

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  1. Carefully cut down the side of each éclair and pipe in the whipped cream

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For the topping
100g milk chocolate

  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water – make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl
  2. Spoon chocolate in a strip over each éclair. Allow the chocolate to set before serving

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Make sure you head to www.mummymishaps.co.uk and www,bluebirdsunshine.co.uk to see what else people have baked for #GBBOBloggers2015

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Roasted New Potatoes

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Crispy skinned new potatoes which are fluffy inside flavoured with herbs make the perfect side dish for any meal.

New potatoes have always been my least favourite type of potato because to be honest I find them a bit boring. We used to have them quite a lot , especially in the summer, when I was a child and although they are nice for a change, it felt like we had them for every meal (I may be exaggerating slightly).

My preferred way of eating new potatoes is to roast them with herbs as the skin turns nice and crispy but they’re still fluffy inside. I almost feel a little bit cheeky calling this a recipe because it is so simple, it is more like assembling rather than an actual recipe! This way gives them a lot more flavour in my opinion than just boiling them in salted water. They are really simple to prepare this way, but I think it makes them look like you’ve put a bit more effort in.

I was lucky enough to be given these potatoes by Rien’s Nan who had grown them in her garden. She was so excited when I said I’d like them because I don’t think the rest of the family tend to use them. I think things like vegetables are always that little bit tastier when they have been home grown for some reason.

You can use whatever herbs you would like. I like to use a combination of thyme and rosemary because these are two of my favourite herbs, but often just use one of the other depending what I have. There is no need to pick the leaves off the stalks as during cooking, the leaves seem to fall off themselves. This then makes it really easy to just pick out the stems once the potatoes are finished cooking.

The below amount should be enough for four people as a side dish.

500g new potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp sea salt
A few sprigs of the herbs of your choice

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Thoroughly wash the potatoes and remove any black bits

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  1. Drizzle some of the olive oil into a roasting tin. Add the potatoes, cutting any large ones in half to make the potatoes roughly the same size
  2. Drizzle over the rest of the olive oil before sprinkling over the salt and adding the herbs

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  1. Roast in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, turning the potatoes half way through the time, until the potatoes are crispy on the outside but cooked through; I check this by poking them with a sharp knife. Remove the herb stalks and serve

Sugar-free Lemon Cake

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Week 5 of the Great British Bake Off was Free From week. The challenges included sugar free cakes, gluten free pitta breads and then dairy free ice cream rolls. I have had a go at making gluten free bread before; albeit with gluten free flour and not the powder they were using on the show, so I decided to have a go at making a sugar free cake.

I was trying to get ahead so searched for my sugar free cake recipe and bought my ingredients before the show aired. The recipe I found was for a sugar free lemon drizzle cake and used a plant based sugar substitute called Xylitol. The contestants on the show used honey, agave syrup and fruits to sweeten their cakes so were slightly different to mine. Not all of their cakes were successful, some were too moist and a couple weren’t sweet enough. I was pleased I’d used the Xylitol as the cake turned out really well and was sweet enough.

Xylitol has less calories than normal sugar and is therefore healthier, but it is quite pricey! Don’t get me wrong it is by no means extortionate (£2.70 for 225g), but when you compare it to normal sugar it is quite a bit more expensive. The original recipe was for a lemon drizzle cake, but for two reasons I didn’t add the drizzle. I’ve never been a fan of the drizzle as I don’t like the crunchy sugar, but for this recipe I needed a whole pack of the sugar for the cake, and then 50g extra for the drizzle. I didn’t want to buy another pack to just use a little bit and then for the rest to sit in my cupboard for years. So that sounded like a good enough reason to keep the cake drizzle free to me.

225g self raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
225g xylitol
2 lemons, zest only
2 large eggs
125ml sunflower oil
1 tbsp milk
200g 0% fat yogurt

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Line and grease a 2kg loaf tin with baking parchment
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, Xylitol and lemon zest together in a bowl

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  1. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk together the eggs, sunflower oil, milk and yogurt. Once mixed, add the wet mixture to the flour and mix until fully combined

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  1. Pour the mix into the tin and smooth the surface if needed and bake for 1 – 1 hour 10 mins. Check the cake after 50 minutes and if it is getting too dark, cover it loosely with foil

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  1. Let the cake cool slightly in the tin before turning out and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack

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The original recipe can be found here – http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1940674/sugarfree-lemon-drizzle-cake-

Head to www.mummymishaps.co.uk to check out the rest of the #GreatBloggersBake2015 entries.

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