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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Gluten-Free Bacon and Peanut Butter Brownies

Gluten-Free Bacon and Peanut Butter Brownies

Totally over-the-top gluten-free bacon and peanut butter brownies

My friend Nicole LOVES bacon. She’s the Pork Princess. So when it came to baking some kind of birthday treat for her I really wanted to include bacon in the recipe; and if you’re going to be bold with your flavours you may as well go all out! That’s how I settled on these bacon and peanut butter brownies. The salty, savoury bacon and peanut butter make for a pretty intense brownie, but birthdays should be about indulgence. The bacon doesn’t really make the brownies taste meaty, you just get little chewy, salty-sweet nuggets in every few bites. I made these brownies gluten-free for Nicole, but if you’re not concerned about avoiding gluten you could make them with normal plain flour.

Gluten-Free Bacon and Peanut Butter Brownies

For the brownies:

  • About 100g streaky bacon (I used 5 rashers Oscar Meyer American bacon)
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 175g butter
  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g plain gluten-free flour (I used rice flour)
  • 25g cocoa powder

Heat the oven to 180C and grease and line an 8″ square baking tin. Cut the bacon rashers into small pieces (easiest with scissors) and fry off until starting to crisp up. Add the golden syrup and cook for another minute or so until the bacon fat and syrup bubble up into a sticky, delicious looking liquid. Take off the heat and tip the bacon pieces onto a plate to cool, trying to keep them apart so they don’t stick together.

In a large saucepan gently melt the butter on a low heat, then break the chocolate into pieces and add to the pan, stirring until melted. Add the vanilla extract and remove from the heat. Add the sugar and stir vigorously until well combined and there are no small lumps of sugar. Break the eggs into a mug or bowl and give a little mix with a fork to break up the yolk. Pour into the chocolate mix and stir quickly to combine. Sift the flour and cocoa (just because cocoa can be a bit clumpy) into the pan and mix well. Finally, add the bacon and stir through. Place to one side while you prepare the peanut butter.

For the peanut butter swirl:

  • 30g butter, softened
  • 100g smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 40g icing sugar, sifted

In a bowl, mix together the butter, peanut butter and vanilla, then add the icing sugar and mix again until well combined.

Put about half the brownie mix into the prepared baking tin, spreading it out so it reaches the corners. Dollop on about 5 teaspoons of the peanut butter mix and try to spread it a little (you’re not trying to make a layer over the whole base so don’t worry too much if it doesn’t spread well). Spoon the rest of the brownie mix on top and spread it out, then add spoonfuls of the peanut butter mix all over the top and use the tip of a dinner or butter knife to swirl it through the brownie mix until you have a marbled effect.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is firm and a skewer comes out mostly clean. Brownies should always be a little gooey in the middle so you’re better off under-baking rather than over-baking. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. Once cooled, cut into squares and serve.

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Devonshire Splits (Cream Buns)

Devonshire Splits, or Cream Buns

Devonshire Splits, a proper, old-fashioned tea-time treat!

My oldest living relative, great aunty Audrey, lives in Australia. She’s visiting the UK for a few months and staying with my mum for most of this trip. I haven’t seen her in about 20 years until this week but she’s hardly changed, is immense fun and a bit of a cheeky character. Apart from being the start of her visit, it was also her 87th Birthday, so naturally I felt the need to contribute to the celebrations in the form of some baking. She and my mum had been trying to order something they remembered from their childhood, what they called ‘Penny Buns’, from my mum’s local baker without success. I did a little online research, discovered that they were talking about Devonshire Splits and found a Nigel Slater recipe to recreate these yummy little cream buns that are filled with whipped cream and jam; a great variation on the scone for afternoon tea.

Devonshire Splits (or ‘Penny Buns’)

Ingredients:

  • 450g plain flour
  • half tsp salt
  • 14g dried easy-bake yeast
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 30g butter
  • 300ml milk
  • extra flour for kneading

Put the flour, salt, yeast and sugar in a large bowl. In a pan, warm the milk and butter until the butter is melted, then allow to cool slightly until it’s hand hot (you’re going to be getting your hands in there and you don’t want to burn yourself or have the mixture too hot to bear).

Pour most of the butter and milk mixture into the flour and mix to form a soft dough; if necessary add more of the milk until it all comes together. The dough should be soft and a little sticky (err on the side of too wet rather than too dry).

Once you’ve got a ball of dough, tip it out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until it feels slightly elastic (you can’t really knead it too much, but you can certainly knead it too little). Put it back in the bowl and cover loosely with clingfilm or a clean tea towel, leaving it to prove somewhere warm for about an hour.

After the proving time your dough should be roughly doubled in size. Turn out on to a floured surface and divide into 8-10 pieces that area all about the same size. Roll each one into a ball and place on a floured baking tray (I used two trays), leaving a little space between each ball. Cover with some lightly oiled clingfilm and leave to rise again for 10-15 minutes. During this time, heat your oven to 200C.

Remove the clingfilm and bake for 18-20 minutes until pale golden. You know they’re done if they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack.

To serve, cut a deep split and ease apart. Cram full of as much whipped cream and strawberry jam as you dare, and dust with a little icing sugar. A proper old-fashioned treat!

I’ve just discovered these little beauties won the Golden Spoon award this week from The Sunday Bake Club (thanks)! Take a look at their blog here.

Gluten-Free Coffee and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-Free Coffee and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-free coffee and chocolate chip cookies, chewy and delicious

One of the things I love about baking cookies is that you don’t have to cook them all at once. Keep any left over cookie dough in a zip-lock bag – in the fridge for a couple of days, or in the freezer for a few months. I sometimes make big batches of dough and freeze enough for about 4 or 5 cookies per bag; then if you need a cookie fix or have friends coming over for a cuppa you can take a bag out, bring them back to room temp (it doesn’t take long, maybe an hour or so) and bake a fresh batch of cookies whenever you want! I’ve made these cookies gluten-free, but you could easily use normal plain flour if you’re not eliminating gluten from your diet.

Gluten-Free Coffee and Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Ingredients:

  • 115g butter
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 4 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 egg
  • 160g gluten-free plain flour (I used rice flour)
  • half tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch salt
  • 75g milk chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate

Heat the oven to 190C. In a bowl, beat the butter, sugars and espresso powder until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat again until well mixed. Add to the bowl the flour, bicarb and salt and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until well incorporated and there are no patches of dry ingredients. Stir through the chocolate chips.

Use a dessert spoon to place heaped spoonfuls of the mix on an ungreased baking tray. Make sure they’re well spaced as they will spread a lot – you should get about 6 on a tray. Bake for 8-10 minutes. They’re ready to take out when they’re golden, but still seem a little underdone – as if you’d leave a big dent if you prodded them with a fingertip (my best tip for cookies is to slightly undercook them; they’re a much nicer texture when cooled that way). Leave to cool on the tray for 5-10 minutes until they’re set, then use a palette knife to slide them off the tray and leave them to cool completely on a rack.  Make a mug of tea and tuck in!

You could also replace the chocolate chips with a big handful of chopped walnuts for a twist on the classic coffee and walnut cake.

Baileys Profiteroles

Baileys Profiteroles

Profiteroles filled with Baileys cream and smothered in boozy chocolate sauce made with Baileys

Another weekend, another excuse to do some baking and eat with friends. One of the friends I was eating with this weekend is an absolute fiend for profiteroles, so that’s what I made. These are all the more decadent with a boozy splash of Baileys added to the cream and chocolate sauce. You can easily leave the alcohol out if feeding kids, although if that’s the case I would suggest you add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the whipped cream.

Profiteroles with Baileys Cream and Baileys Chocolate Sauce

For the profiteroles:

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 150ml water
  • 150g plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 4 eggs

Heat the oven to 200c and line a couple of baking sheets with greaseproof paper. In a saucepan, melt the butter with the water and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and add the flour and water and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until you get a thick paste that sticks together and comes away from the sides of the pan (be sure you’ve not got any little lumps of flour that haven’t mixed in). Transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool for a few minutes.

Whisk your eggs together in a jug or bowl.  Add a little of the egg to the flour and butter mix and beat with the wooden spoon until blended, repeating until all the egg has been mixed in.

Now, if you’re reasonably confident of your piping skills you can put the mix in a piping bag and pipe blobs on to your prepared baking sheets. If not, then use a couple of teaspoons to do the job. What you’re aiming for is blobs about the size of a walnut, spaced well apart as they’ll expand quite a lot (I got 12 on each tray). Dip your (clean) finger tip in some water and smooth the top of each blob – you’ll get a better shape and crisper top.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden brown and firm. Take them out of the oven, turn them over and pierce a hole in each ball with a skewer or small, sharp knife. Put them back in the oven for 5 more minutes – this helps to let the steam out and ensure they don’t go soggy later. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the Baileys cream:

  • 300ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp Baileys
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar

Put everything in a bowl and whisk until the cream holds to the whisk; you want quite a firm texture but be careful not to whisk to the point of it turning to butter.

Again, your confidence in your piping skills depends on how you want to fill the profiteroles. You can make a small hole in each and pipe the cream in, or cut each one in half and spoon the cream in. Either way will taste just as delicious!

Keep the filled profiteroles in the fridge until about 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve (get them out when you’re serving dinner and they’ll be perfect by the time it’s dessert).

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 150ml double cream
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 tbsp Baileys
  • pinch salt

Put the cream and chocolate in a saucepan and heat gently so the chocolate melts. Add the remaining ingredients and keep stirring until well mixed. Allow to cool a little before serving warm to be poured over the profiteroles.

American Pancakes with Apple

American Style Pancakes with Apple

American Style Pancakes with Apple, served with Bacon and Maple Syrup

Some time last year I had a vivid dream about eating American style pancakes that had apple in, served with bacon. I had to make the dream a reality and fortunately it turned out they were lovely. These would make a great breakfast or brunch dish; serve with apple compote, berries and Greek yoghurt or (if you have any sense) bacon and maple syrup.

American Style Apple Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 135g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • half tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 130ml milk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter, slightly cooled
  • 1 eating apple, skin on, grated
  • a little oil for frying

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together. In another bowl or a jug mix the milk and egg together until well combined, then add the melted butter and mix again. Pour this liquid over the flour, beating in with a fork until you get a smooth batter. Add the grated apple and give a stir to combine. Let this mixture stand for a couple of minutes before you begin frying.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan – a medium heat is best so that the pancakes cook through without getting too browned. Drop the heaped tablespoons of the batter and cook for about a minute until set then carefully flip over to cook the other side of the pancake. Serve these golden beauties while still warm, with your choice of topping.

Blueberry and Lemon Traybake with a Zingy Cream Cheese Topping

Blueberry and Lemon Traybake

Blueberry and Lemon Traybake with a Zingy Cream Cheese Topping

I went to a baby shower this weekend and took along baked treats (if you’re friends with me it’s a reasonably fair bet I’ll bring baked goods to any event I’m invited to). I’ve been mostly baking fruity, summery stuff lately and this was a perfect opportunity for more of the same. This traybake was perfect to portion up into squares for a big party, and the light, zesty flavour was just the ticket sat out in the sun.

Blueberry and Lemon Traybake with a Zingy Cream Cheese Topping

For the cake:

  • 125g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g sour cream
  • 2 lemons (zest of both, juice of one)
  • 300g self raising flour
  • half teaspoon baking powder
  • 150g blueberries

Heat your oven to 180C and grease and line a tin (approx 25x22cm) with greaseproof paper. Beat together the butter and caster sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs and beat again, then stir in the sour cream, lemon zest and juice until well combined. Stir in the flour and baking powder making sure thoroughly mixed, then stir through the blueberries and pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-50 minutes – it’s done when golden, a skewer comes out clean or it springs back when lightly pressed. Remove from the oven and set to one side to cool.

For the cream cheese topping:

  • 175g butter
  • 375g icing sugar
  • 125g full fat cream cheese
  • juice one lemon (left over from the cake)
  • 100g blueberries

Cream together the butter and (sifted) icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese and lemon juice and beat again until well combined. Remove the cooled cake from the tin and peel away the greaseproof paper. Use a spatula to slather the lemony cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. Scatter the blueberries evenly over the cake, cut into individual portions and serve.

Strawberry Roulade with Salted Caramel Sauce

Strawberry Roulade with Salted Caramel Sauce

Creamy Strawberry Roulade with Salted Caramel Sauce

I’m heading to a friend’s for dinner this evening and volunteered to bring dessert. There are some lovely British strawberries in the shops now and the weather is glorious so I wanted to make something really fresh and summery. The addition of salted caramel sauce (I’ve used Nigella Lawson’s recipe) is just a little extra indulgence of my own obsession (I’ve already told you how much I love the stuff in my Upside Down Apple and Caramel Cake recipe)!

Strawberry Roulade with Salted Caramel Sauce

For the salted caramel sauce:

  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 125ml double cream
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Melt the butter, sugars and syrup in a saucepan giving them a bit of a swirl every now and again. Simmer for about three minutes. Add the cream and HALF the salt and stir everything together. Taste a little of the sauce (be careful not to burn your tongue) to see if it’s salty enough for you and add more of the salt if you think it needs it (I like mine salty but it’s all down to preference). Bear in mind that when the sauce is cool it won’t taste as sweet or salty as when it’s warm. Once you’re satisfied with it, leave to cool.

For the roulade:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp corn flour
  • 1 tsp cider/white wine vinegar
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  • 250g double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 250g strawberries

Heat the oven to 150C and grease and line a 23 x 33cm Swiss roll tin or high sided baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Now, to make your meringue it’s really important your bowl is scrupulously clean – if possible use a glass or metal bowl and wipe round the inside with the cut side of half a lemon or a paper towel with a little vinegar on; this should get rid of any grease. Put your egg whites in the bowl and whisk until you get to the stiff peaks stage. Add the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking all the while. Sprinkle over the corn flour and vinegar and give one last short whisk until everything is combined and glossy. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared tin, smoothing into the corners with a spatula and trying to get a flat, even surface. Bake for 30–35 minutes until the surface of the meringue is just firm. Remove from the oven, let it cool for about ten minutes. Lay a sheet of greaseproof on a board and dust with icing sugar. Once the meringue has cooled a little turn it out onto the board and carefully remove the greaseproof from the base and leave to cool while you assemble the filling.

Remove the stalks and chop your strawberries into small chunks; set to one side until needed. In a large bowl, whip together the cream, icing sugar (sifted) and vanilla. I recommend using a hand whisk; it really doesn’t take that long and it’s so easy to over-whip with an electric whisk and end up verging on butter. You’re aiming for cream that holds the whisk, but easily plops off with a tap on the side of the bowl. You’re now ready to turn this all into a roulade!

Slather the cream over the meringue, then sprinkle/spread the chopped strawberries over the cream. Using a teaspoon, drizzle a little (about 2 tablespoons) of the salted caramel sauce over the top. With the shortest end of the meringue facing you, roll it away, folding over and using the greaseproof paper to try and keep the roll compact. Once it’s fully rolled, place on a serving plate with the fold underneath. Serve with the remaining salted caramel sauce for your guests to drizzle over their slice of lusciousness at will!

You can keep any left over salted caramel sauce in the fridge for a week or so. It’s great on loads of things – try with vanilla ice cream, a baked apple or a warm chocolate brownie.