Strawberries and Cream Baked Alaska

strawberries and cream baked alaska gbbo greatbloggersbakeoff2014

This week’s #greatbloggersbakeoff2014 features something I’ve wanted to try for a while – Baked Alaska. Apparently Rob and I both had a very deprived childhood, as neither of us can recall ever having even eaten this, let alone made it. Challenge set!

One thing that struck me about this week’s GBBO program – unless I missed something – was that none of the contestants actually baked their Alaska, they just blow-torched the outside. Surely this is cheating?! I wanted to do things the proper way, and loosely followed this Mary Berry recipe, scaling down slightly for just the two of us.

Time and equipment not permitting, I must admit I didn’t make my own ice cream. We do actually own an ice-cream-making KitchenAid attachment, it was on promotion when we bought the mixer, but doesn’t actually fit in our freezer, so sits in the cupboard unused!

For the sponge base, I divided the mixture into two, and added a tablespoon of strawberry puree to one half, and half a teaspoon of vanilla to the other. Alternating spoonfuls of the mixture went into the mould, finished with a quick swirl from a cocktail stick – to give a marbled strawberry cake.

strawberry marble cake for baked alaska gbbo strawberry marble cake base for baked alaska greatbloggersbakeoff2014

Once this was cool, it was simply a case of stacking up the strawberries and ice-cream…

piling strawberries and cream for baked alaska recipe

…and covering in meringue.

meringe covering on strawberries and cream baked alaska

Simple, right? With my oven heating up itself and apparently the entire kitchen at the same time, I began to realise how the GBBO bakers had got so fraught in the tent. Trying to construct a dessert is one thing, doing it neatly quite another, and whilst the whole thing is melting at the same time – it’s really rather easy to have a complete meltdown!

Luckily everything just about held together. I’d originally planned to pipe some swirls, but lo and behold had run out piping bags, so food colouring and a paintbrush it was.

painted swirls on strawberries and cream baked alaska

A quick 10 minutes in the oven and it certainly was looking good from the outside. A perfectly crisp meringue shell, and no tell-tale signs of ice-cream puddling out.

freshly baked alaska strawberries and cream painted swirl pattern on meringue painted swirl meringue baked alaska

The moment of truth…

cutting into baked alaska moment of truth strawberries and cream design

And inside, well not bad at all I’d say! The ice cream only really started melting once it was cut and the layers looked pretty good for a first effort. A point to note that taking photos whilst making this rather technical bake is an added challenge – so sorry they’re not amazing!

inside baked alaska strawberries and cream gbbo

The taste was pretty good too – a great contrast between the crisp outer meringue, squishy inner, cold ice cream, and of course cake to finish. I’d definitely like to try it again.

Check out Jenny’s blog to see how the other bakers fared with their desserts this week.

greatbloggersbakeoff2014

Easy Orange Chocolate Fudge

chocolate orange fudge easy 5 minute recipe 3 ingredients flavoured sugar and crumbs icing sugar

Oh, those lovely people over at Sugar and Crumbs have done it again. Their delicious ranges of flavoured icing sugars (such as this delicious salted caramel) and flavoured cocoa powders (here is my test of their cherry cocoa powder), are obviously just not enough.
No, now they have added some chocolate flavoured icing sugars to their range. Could they be any more amazing?

They were looking for testers for some of the new range so of course both my hands shot straight up in the air. Then I realised it was an email and put my hands down quickly before anyone in the office noticed 😉

First up is the wonderfully titled Jaffa Twist. It does exactly what it says on the tin (packet), and is a lovely light, tangy orange.

sugar and crumbs jaffa twist natural flavoured orange chocolate icing sugar recipe and review

With so much on at the moment I needed a quick and easy recipe to get this into dessert form as soon as possible. And this fudge really fits the bill. You can make it (and eat it) in less than 5 minutes, it doesn’t need to bake, or really even set. It’d also be perfect to make with kids, as there is no absolutely heat, sharps, or other dangerous kitchen bits involved. It’d also make a great gift!

Chocolate orange fudge
50g butter, softened
45ml (approx 2.5 tablespoons) condensed milk
250g pack Sugar and Crumbs jaffa twist icing sugar

– Beat together the butter and condensed milk until smooth
– Add the icing sugar a little a time, mixing well until you have a smooth, stiff dough
– Roll into balls or cut into shapes (use a little cocoa powder to ice your surface)
– Eat immediately! Or leave in a cool dry place overnight to dry into firmer fudge pieces. If leaving to dry, put the pieces onto a a plate/baking sheet lightly dusted with cocoa powder, so they don’t stick.

chocolate orange fudge mixture easy 3 ingredients method using flavoured icing sugar easy chocolate orange fudge recipe biscuit cutters no-bake suitable for kids and gifts chocolate orange fudge pieces no bake leave to set chocolate orange fudge easy recipe and method

Not content with quite such an easy recipe – I wanted to top mine with some candied orange peel for an extra bit of decoration. Typically, none of our local supermarkets had any in, so I set to making some. Thankfully this post from the Bright-Eyed Baker made it easy! I think as my pieces were thinner it took much less time, only around half an hour in total.

In short it’s a case of topping and tailing the orange, before scoring and removing the peel in strips.

how to make candied orange slices easy 30 minutes method

Remove any thick bits of pith and cut into thin strips. (As my fudge pieces were only small I wanted them to be quite fine).

making candied orange peel candied orange peel slices how to recipe method

Add to a saucepan with 100ml water and 100g caster sugar.

orange peel slices in sugar being candied method

Bring to the boil, and turn down to medium for around 15 – 20 minutes, until the syrup is nearly all gone and the orange is caramelising. Don’t stir the pan or you’ll ruin the caramel. If you need to, swirl the pan around a little to ensure all the orange is covered.

candied orange peel method boiling in sugar syrup caramel

Use a slotted spoon and remove the peel pieces, putting them on a sugar-covered baking sheet. Quickly, using a couple of spoons, toss and separate the pieces, so they are all individually coated in sugar (don’t be tempted to use your fingers, the caramel will be scalding!)

homemade candied orange peel slices easy method and recipe

Et voila! Easy candied peel – who needs to buy it when it’s this easy?

Press pieces into the fudge and enjoy. Any unused peel can be stored in an airtight container.

chocolate fudge star shapes homemade no bake with candied orange peel decoration chocolate orange fudge recipe and method easy no-bake

So what did I make of the icing sugar? In all honesty, it’s fantastic. It’s a rich chocolate with just the right amount of tangy orange. Dare I say it, like a big bite of a jaffa cake. Great job Sugar and Crumbs – I’ll definitely be back for more soon!

Blackberry and Apple Fruit Bread

blackberry and apple fruit bread tea and share loaf filled outer rolls

Week 3 of #greatbloggersbakeoff2014 and it’s bread week. Not one of my favourites I have to admit, to me baking is all about the cake!

Nevertheless I’m not one to shy away from a challenge. My dad gave me this week a huge bag of fresh blackberries from his garden, and they seemed like the perfect place to start. As we seem to be rapidly heading headlong into Autumn, blackberry and apple seemed a perfect combination.

fresh british blackberries flash frozen bread recipe

I used this Mill of Kintyre apple bread recipe as my base, omitting the apricots and scaling down by about a third.

The blackberries I divided into half, to use separately for the fruit-studded centre, and to fill the outer rolls.

Those for the centre I spread on a baking tray and dried out a little, on a low heat for an hour. Using them completely fresh would have added too much moisture and undoubtedly caused some problems with the bread dough!

blackberry and apple bread great bloggers bake off blackberry studded apple bread fresh british recipe gbbo

fresh british blackberrys baked into apple bread gbbo greatbloggersbakeoff2014

For the filled outer rolls, I boiled the remaining blackberries up with some sugar to make a quick jam. Although it would have set down fully having enough time, I passed it through a sieve quickly to get only the juiciest fruit.

boiling blackberry jam fresh blackberry jam homemade sieving

No pictures of the roll-making and filling process as it was rather sticky! Essentially I flattened each ball of dough, added a teaspoon of jam, and pinched and folded back into a ball. In reality my hands were entirely covered in sticky bread dough and jam 🙂

tear and share blackberry and apple bread inside blackberry filled apple bread tear and share loaf gbbo

Overall I’m pleased with the bake – it’s a perfect breakfast loaf, sweet and tangy and full of yummy fruit!

gbbo blackberry and apple sharing loaf bread

Read more about #greatbloggersbakeoff2014 and see this weeks other bakes here.

greatbloggersbakeoff2014

30th Birthday Lemon & White Chocolate Biscuits

30th birthday thirty biscuits pink and purple edible glitter celebratory present ideas

These sparkly little biscuits were, no surprise, for a 30th birthday party a couple of weeks. The lucky lady in question is a big lover of all things sparkly, particularly pink and purple, and I’m sure there was a squeal of excitement when she saw them!

I used an adaptation of the rich biscuit recipe from my Be-ro book for the base, you can find it online here.

To offset the sweetness of the icing, I added more lemon as follows, and also used plain flour instead of the recommended self raising, so the shapes wouldn’t spread too much.

Ingredients

225g plain flour

100g caster sugar

100g butter

1 lemon, juice and grated rind

1 egg, beaten

Method

– Mix the flour and sugar together, and rub in the fat until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs

– Mix in the lemon juice and rind, and add the egg a little at a time. Keep stirring after every addition of egg, and stop when you have a stiff dough. There may be a little egg left over

– Refrigerate for at least half an hour before cutting into shapes; roll out thinly on a well-floured surface

– Bake at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of your shapes), until they are just going brown at the very edges

– Remove and allow to cool completely before icing

I chose to ice my biscuits with a great new discovery – Renshaw’s white chocolate fondant icing.

renshaw white chocolate ready to roll fondant icing review recipe usage

I’ve not seen in this in the shops before so think it may be new, although I am not always the most observant! In any case I’m very happy to have discovered it, I love using normal chocolate fondant as it adds a real flavour that normal ready-to-roll doesn’t, but is really simple to use.

To cover the biscuits, I cut out matching shapes, using a size smaller cutter than the biscuit dough, and ‘glued’ them on with a quick brush of golden syrup.

For the ’30’ numbers, I coloured up a little fondant in both pink and purple, cutting out big chunky numbers. These were then brushed with a good amount of edible glitter – no such thing as too much sparkle – and left to set overnight, before applying to the biscuits the next morning.

sparkly pink star 30 biscuit happy thirtieth birthday recipe purple sparkly star and circle 30th thirty birthday biscuits

The ‘plain’ white biscuits were simply made by pressing number cutters into the fondant after it had been stuck on the biscuit, and in-filling with, you guessed it, more edible glitter!

30 thirtieth birthday biscuit edible glitter lemon and white chocolate recipe easy gift

They went down really well at the party, with lots of interested comments about the white chocolate fondant. The flavour worked really well with the lemon and it’s definitely something I’ll be using again!

30th birthday biscuits thirty lemon and white chocolate easy recipe gift

gift box biscuits homemade treat thirtieth birthday 30 edible glitter sparkly girls

This post is part of #greatbloggersbakeoff2014 – read more over on Jenny’s blog.

greatbloggersbakeoff2014

 CelebrationCakesAndBakes

Super Strawberry Swiss Roll

decorated strawberry swiss roll homemade jam recipe greatbloggersbakeoff gbbo

This week saw the return of the much-loved Great British Bake-Off, and with it, the amazing celebration of all things cake that is #GreatBloggersBakeOff2014, which you can find more details on here.

greatbloggersbakeoff2014

My first swiss roll recipe – Simple Strawberry Jam Swiss Roll , is without a doubt the most popular post on this blog. For why, I simply don’t know, but am certainly not complaining!

However simple is not always sufficient – and for this GBBO I wanted to ramp things up a bit. I’ve wanted to try a piped design roll for a while, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Add to this homemade strawberry jam – why do things by half – and you can see why this really is a super swiss roll!

To start with – the jam, so it has time to cool. We are right in the middle of British strawberry season and there are lots of brilliant juicy fruits in the shops at the moment.

fresh british strawberries

Strawberry jam
300g fresh strawberries, hulled
100g sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

– Chop the strawberries – I found quartering gave good chunky pieces in the jam, without them being too overbearing in the sponge

fresh british quartered strawberries jam recipe
– Mix the strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan, and put on a low heat until the sugar has melted
– Turn the heat up to medium/high, and set the timer for 10 minutes. The mixture should foam and bubble up; stir often and monitor the heat so it doesn’t boil over

fresh strawberry jam recipe great british summer bake off
– When the ten minutes is nearly up, start testing to see if the jam has reached setting point. This is 105 degrees C on a jam/sugar thermometer, or you can use the wrinkle-test , using pre-frozen saucers to test if it sets.
– If it’s not setting, boil for a couple more minutes and test again. As a last resort you can some more lemon juice to boost the pectin levels.
– Once at setting point, take off the heat and pour into a bowl. Leave to cool whilst you make the sponge.

Swiss roll sponge (with piped strawberry decorations)
3 large eggs
125g sugar
125g plain flour

– Put the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and beat on high for up to 10 minutes, until the mixture goes from pale and yellow to light, white, and about double in size
(KitchenAid optional… but it really does help!)

kitchenaid swiss roll recipe whisking eggs and sugar

kitchenaid whisked eggs and sugar light and fluffy for swiss roll recipe greatbloggersbakeoff

– Whilst the eggs are beating, prepare your tray. An ordinary baking tray (with sides) is more than sufficient.
– Brush the edges and bottom of the tin with oil or melted butter.
– Cut baking or greaseproof paper precisely to size, it should be completely flat
– Brush the paper with more oil/butter, and sprinkle well with flour and sugar, to prevent any sticking

greased lined floured sugared baking tin for swiss roll no special pan needed

– Sieve the flour and gently fold into the egg mixture.

folding flour into swiss roll recipe

– To make the strawberry decorations, take 3 teaspoons of the mixture, and colour one orange, one red, and one green.
– Using small piping bags, pipe green leaves, orange seeds and fill round with red strawberry shapes

piped strawberrries for swiss roll recipe

– Bake for 2 minutes at 180 degrees, so the strawberries set and don’t mix with the rest of the batter

baked strawberries from swiss roll mixture decorated recipe

– Take the tray out of the oven and let it cool for a couple of minutes.
– Spread the rest of the batter evenly across the tray, and return to the oven, for 8-10 minutes, at 180 degrees

swiss roll batter in flat tray recipe and how to step by step easy dessert

– After 8 minutes, test to see if the sponge is done by lightly pressing with your fingers. If it springs back, it’s done; if your fingerprints remain indented, return to the oven for another minute

– When it’s ready, run a knife around the edge of the tin, before flipping out onto another baking sheet, sprinkled with a good layer of sugar. I put my baking sheet on top of a damp tea towel which helps stop the swiss roll from cracking

swiss roll tray bake ready to roll with hand piped strawberry decorations

– Using another baking sheet (and I used a chopping board for support), flip the swiss roll over so the decorated side is face down
– Working quickly, whilst it’s still hot, spread the jam all across the cake

homemade strawberry jam spread on swiss roll recipe for greatbloggersbakeoff

– Using the greaseproof paper to help, carefully, and as tightly as possible, roll up the cake

rolling super strawberry jam swiss roll recipe and how to

– Once all rolled up, wrap the greaseproof paper around and tuck in the ends. Leave to cool for at least half an hour before unwrapping and tucking in!

wrapped up swiss roll homemade cooling and setting gbbo super strawberry swiss roll recipe and hand piped decorations

I was really happy with the way the strawberries turned out!

decorated strawberry swiss roll with homemade jam gbbo

super strawberry swiss roll

And the roll itself – Paul and Mary would be impressed – a good swirl, even filling…

strawberry swiss roll tightly rolled homemade jam gbbo

Certainly not simple but stunning and delicious – a good first show-stopper to start the series!
And the best thing about a swiss roll, it’s still fat-free, and with all those strawberries must surely count as one of your five a day 😉

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