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Category Archives: Pastries

Swedish Almond Bun

I’ve been making this deliciously boozy, almond bun for a couple of years and surprisingly I haven’t yet posted it. Probably because I’ve been tweaking different elements of the recipe.

It’s based on a recipe for Kanellängd, in James Morton’s book Super Sourdough, a sourdough version of the famous Swedish enriched dough.

My version is sourdough too, and while straightforward in its steps, it’s tricky to handle as the dough is enriched and it’s sourdough!

It’s full of alcohol soaked fruit and frangipane, an almond paste and is very yummy.

Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a go. It really follows the steps for making filled scrolls, except in the shaping. I’ve simplified shaping by making a giant ring, which is quite forgiving.

It’s rich, indulgent and very moreish!

Ingredients

Dough

400g strong flour

150g sourdough starter

10g salt

50g caster sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

100g milk

2 large free-range eggs

100g butter

Filling

250g of raisins/sultanas/sour cherries/ cranberries in any combination

50g rum or brandy or port

Frangipane

100g ground almonds

100g butter

100g caster sugar

2 free-range eggs

Glaze

2 tablespoons golden syrup

Topping

20g flaked almonds

Lemon Icing

Juice of half a lemon

100g icing sugar

Method

In a large bowl add all the dough ingredients except the butter. Mix to a rough dough, cover the bowl with a plastic shower cap or a tea towel. Leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.

Put the dried fruit into the alcohol to soak.

Make the frangipane by whizzing all the ingredients in a food processor until combined.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Using a dough hook of an electric mixer, knead the dough for 8-10 minutes until completely smooth. Now add the butter, in small pieces, which needs to be very soft. Mix until the butter is completely incorporated and the mixture is soft, smooth and the dough “windowpanes”. Cover the dough again and leave to prove for 4 hours. The dough will have risen slightly.

Drain the alcohol soaked fruit. Spread the frangipane over the dough rectangle. Scatter the soaked dried fruit over the frangipane.

Now roll up the dough along the long side, as carefully as you can. Move the roll, using a peel or a spatula, to the lined baking tray. Curve the ends of the roll so they meet in a ring.

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured board. With a floured rolling pin, gently roll the dough to a rough rectangle, usually about 30cm in width by 40-50cm in length. The dough will be very soft, so treat it gently.

You will be aiming for a ring shape, but be careful in this process of acquiring the shape that you don’t tear the dough or it becomes misshapen, as it’s so soft. If the ring doesn’t quite meet in the middle – that’s fine too, you will have a rather nice horseshoe bun!

Scatter the flaked almonds over the bun before the final prove. Put the baking tray into a large plastic bag to prove. Leave at room temperature for an hour, then place into the fridge overnight or for 8-16 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C or 180 degrees C fan. Add a baking dish a quarter filled with water to the bottom of the oven to create steam for baking. Take the baking sheet out of the plastic bag and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes until the bun is a deep golden brown.

In the last few minutes of baking, heat the golden syrup in a small saucepan over a low heat, or you could even microwave gently.

Once baked, remove from the oven. Brush the top of the bun with the warmed golden syrup. To make the lemon icing, mix the lemon juice with the icing sugar. You may need more or less icing sugar – use enough to make an icing of dripping consistency.

Once the bun is quite cool, drizzle the lemon icing over the top. You end up with a triple topping of golden syrup, almonds and lemon icing. Delicious!

Christmas Pudding Strudel

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Here’s a Christmas recipe from the vault, a tried and true method to turn Christmas Pudding into something delicious for those post Christmas Day meals.

The recipe is yet another great Jamie Oliver invention. It’s his Christmas Pudding Strudel, a lovely way to reinvent Christmas pudding leftovers and make something really yummy and quite special. It’s basically layers of filo pastry, filled with grated apple, pear or quince, crumbled Christmas pudding and a surprise chocolate centre.

You may have left overs to make the strudel…or you can buy a pudding at the supermarket on special after Christmas!

Ingredients

12 sheets filo pastry – if frozen, thaw.  I mention in my original post that perhaps you could use less filo, as 12 layers is a little too much

125 g butter, melted

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

100 g demerara sugar + more for dusting when serving

4 ginger nut biscuits

400 g leftover Christmas pudding

3 apples or pears or 2 quinces or a mixture of the three

50 g good-quality chocolate, roughly chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced.  Lay out 6 sheets of filo pastry on a clean tea towel, overlapping each by an inch or so, so they cover the tea towel.
The filo should cover the tea towel completely, with just a little overhang at one of the shorter ends.

Work quickly so your pastry doesn’t dry out and brush some melted butter all over it. Sprinkle over the cinnamon and 50 g of the sugar, then crumble over your ginger nut biscuits to add crunch. Carefully layer the rest of the pastry sheets on top and brush again with butter.

Use your hands to crumble the Christmas pudding into a bowl then grate in the fruit, everything except the cores. (Jamie says to use the cores  – I don’t think you need them.) You want to have about the same amount of grated fruit as you’ve got pudding. Add about 2 tablespoons of sugar, and mix it all together to break up the pudding a bit more. Sprinkle this all over the pastry so it’s roughly covered, leaving the overhang clear. Place the chocolate in a row on top of the Christmas pudding, down the short side nearest the overhang. 

Fold the overhang over the chocolate and pinch it up, then lift up your tea towel, and use it to help you carefully roll up your strudel. Tuck the ends under to seal it and transfer to a large nonstick baking tray. Brush it all over with butter then sprinkle over a little more sugar. If it looks a bit rough, you could wrap an extra layer of filo round it before cooking to make it neater. Bake in the hot oven for about 40 minutes until crisp and golden. You may get a split once cooked – I agree with Jamie that that would add to the rustic effect!

Leave to cool, then use a serrated knife to cut the strudel into 5 cm slices.

Note: This recipe makes quite a large strudel –the photos here are of half the strudel.

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Keto Pork Pies

I have a friend who is on a strict keto diet. I often make recipes that are naturally keto friendly or adapting ingredients to make the recipe fit the requirements.

Hearty beef or lamb stews are easy, provided you leave out the root vegetables. Chilli beef is always a winner!

My friend is very partial to pork pies. So they are definitely on the “to bake” list! Now pork pies are notoriously tricky to make with hot water pastry. And if you hand raise the pastry, that’s really challenging!

You need to adapt the pastry with keto friendly ingredients. And it’s still a hot water crust pastry which is more difficult to handle than ordinary pastry. However this recipe doesn’t require hand raising. Simply bake in large muffin molds, or small pie molds as I did.

The keto pastry is not that difficult to handle and the resulting crust is quite delicious!

Ingredients

Filling

2 rashers bacon

300g pork shoulder

4 spring onions or 1 medium onion

A small handful each of thyme and sage

1/2 teaspoon chilli paste or chilli powder

Salt and pepper

Hot water crust pastry

200 grams almond flour

200 grams oat bran

1 ½ teaspoon guar or xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

Ground black pepper

60 grams butter

60 grams lard

200 grams water

1 free range egg

Jelly

1 gelatine platinum leaf

125 mls chicken or vegetable stock

1 free range egg, beaten, for glazing.

Method

Butter the pork pie molds well. Large muffin molds work well.

Chop the bacon rashers and the pork shoulder roughly, and put in a food processor. Add the spring onion or onion also roughy chopped, and the thyme, sage, chilli and salt and pepper.

Blitz in the food processor, until the ingredients are combined. Don’t over process. You want a pork mince, not a paste.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C fan forced.

Meanwhile, make the pastry. Mix the almond flour, oat bran, guar or xanthan gum, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Lightly whisk the egg, make a well in the centre, put in the egg and mix in. Don’t worry if you can’t mix in properly – you will get clumps.

Put the butter, lard and water in a saucepan over a low heat and cook until the butter and lard are fully melted.

Turn the heat up and bring the liquid to the boil, and as soon as it starts boiling, carefully pour all the liquid into the flour mixture. You will need to stir everything together quite quickly while the mixture is still warm. Make sure everything is combined.

This mixture will make 6 pies, so divide the mixture into 6 large balls for the pie bottoms and 6 smaller balls for the pie lids.

Press each of the larger balls of dough into the molds, pushing the dough down into the molds and up the sides. Make sure there are no holes.

Divide the pork mix into 6 portions and put each portion inside the pastry bottoms. Leave a space at the top, for the jelly.

Using your fingers, stretch the small balls of dough into circles to fit the top of the pies for the lids.

Brush some beaten egg around the edges of the pies. Place the dough lids on top of the pies, and gently press all around the edges to stick the lids and bottoms together.

Brush the pork pie tops with more beaten egg, and make a hole in the centre of the pies.

Put the pies in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, and egg wash the tops again. Put back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Take the pork pies from the oven and allow them to cool inside the molds.

Meanwhile, dissolve the gelatine leaf in the hot stock. Pour the stock slowly inside the pork pies through the hole in the lids until they are full. Let the stock soak in for a moment, then pour in a little more stock.

Put the pies in the fridge for a few hours for the jelly to set.

Serve at room temperature with plenty of your favourite chutney or relish, and maybe a few pickles on the side.

Easter Fruit and Spice Muffins

This year I’m getting my Easter baking sorted early. And I’m also writing my Easter posts early too! So to get the ball rolling, heres a lovely Easter muffin recipe from a few years back.

It’s a great alternative – or addition – to hot cross buns, super simple muffins with all the flavour of hot cross buns. And the added bonus that they are dipped in cinnamon sugar to give a donut crunch on the top!

The mixture makes 6 large muffins or 12 normal size ones.

This mixture keeps really well in the fridge for a couple of days, so why not bake double the recipe and keep the remaining mixture in the fridge. That way you can have fresh muffins to bake on demand!

Ingredients
1 cup sultanas and raisins
1/3 cup Pedro Ximinez sherry or any sweet sherry
2 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking sofa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup milk
2 large free-range eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup golden syrup

For the topping 
20g melted butter
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon 

Method
Soak the sultanas and raisins in the sherry for half an hour or more, if you have the time.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease the holes of a 6 or 12 cup muffin pan.
Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a second bowl, beat the milk, eggs, oil, honey and golden syrup. Blend the wet ingredients with the dry, stirring for about 20 seconds. Gently stir in the fruit just until blended.
Fill the holes of the prepared pan two-thirds full. Or fill a little higher if you like muffins that have a “muffin top”!
Bake the muffins for 15-20 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. I check after 15 minutes. Ovens are variable, so you need to keep checking for doneness.
When the muffins are clearly cooked, remove the muffin pan from the oven and allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing them from the pan.
Put the melted butter in a small bowl, and mix the caster sugar and cinnamon on a plate. While the muffins are still warm, dip the top of each one in butter and then in the sugar/cinnamon mixture.
Serve warm or at room temperature, for morning tea, afternoon tea or anytime Easter snack.

Fig and Almond Tart

It’s mid March and the last of the figs are still available in the markets. This is a tart I made in another summer, when figs were plentiful, so I thought I would share the recipe again to maximise the last of the fig bounty.

The figs are baked on an almond frangipane base in shortcrust pastry. Figs and frangipane go well together, the lovely almond cream complementing the juicy sweetness of the figs.

The shortcrust pastry is based on Maggie Beer’s sour cream pastry but any good shortcrust would do.

Ingredients

For the shortcrust pastry base:

200gm chilled unsalted butter

250gm plain flour

1 tsp caster sugar

135gm sour cream

For the Frangipane:

100gm butter

100gm caster sugar

100gm ground almonds

1 free-range egg

10 fresh figs, quartered

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, (180 degrees C non fan forced).

Butter a 23cm (9 inch) fluted flan tin with a removable bottom.

To make the pastry, pulse butter, flour and caster sugar in a food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Using your hands, shape pastry into a ball. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
 Roll the pastry out and place into the buttered flan tin.

To make the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar in a food processor or you can use an electric mixer. Add the ground almonds and egg and mix well.

Spoon the frangipane over the tart base. You may not need all the mixture – the idea is to have a base on which to sit the figs. Arrange the fig quarters in a circular pattern over the frangipane. You needn’t be too precise. The figs should be sitting on top of the frangipane. If they sink in, you probably have too much frangipane and may need to take some out.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the frangipane is set and the pastry looks cooked round the edges. Don’t overcook so that the pastry edge burns.

Remove from the oven, and after 10 minutes, when the tart has cooled slightly, carefully remove the outer ring of the flan tin.

Serve at room temperature on its own, or with cream or yoghurt.

Sourdough Cinny Scrolls

I love sourdough and I love cinnamon scrolls so I have been keen to develop a cinnamon scrolls recipe using the great flavours of sourdough.

It’s been a labour of love, with lots of trial and error, but my latest version is really good and I’m very happy!

Like any sourdough recipe, it takes a bit of time, but those gorgeous soft brioche style scrolls are well worth the extra time!

The scrolls are filled with a butter brown sugar cinnamon mixture and sit in some gooey caramel while baking. Once baked the tops glazed with golden syrup and finally, when cool, drizzled with lemon icing.

Ingredients

Dough

400g strong flour

200g sourdough starter

8g salt

50g caster sugar

3 free range eggs, at room temperature

100g tepid milk

100g unsalted butter

Caramel Sauce

75g unsalted butter

125g light brown sugar

50g maple syrup

Cinnamon Filling

150g light brown sugar

1 heaped tablespoon ground cinnamon

100g unsalted butter, very soft

Golden Syrup Glaze

2 tablespoons golden syrup heated to use as glaze

Lemon Icing

Juice of 1/4 lemon

200g icing sugar or enough icing sugar to make a dripping icing

Method

In a large bowl add all the dough ingredients except the butter. Mix to a rough dough, cover and leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.

Using a dough hook of an electric mixer, knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until smooth and silky.

Now add butter, in small pieces, which needs to be very soft. You can soften the butter in the microwave. Mix using the dough hook until the mixture is smooth and elastic. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave to prove somewhere warm for 4 hours. The dough should have risen slightly.

To make the caramel, melt the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in a small saucepan over a low heat.

Line a large baking pan with baking paper. I use 22cm x23cm (9 inch x 13 inch) pan. Spoon the caramel sauce over the base. You don’t have to use all the sauce – the more you use the gooier the scrolls will be. I sometimes only use half the caramel for a less gooey bottom.

Remove the proven dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured board. Using floured hands, gently stretch the dough to a rough rectangle, slightly less than the size of your pan.

For the cinnamon filling, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together.

Spread the very soft butter all over the dough rectangle. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over the butter.

Now roll up the dough along the long side, as carefully as you can, as the dough is very soft.

Cut the long roll into 12 even pieces. Place the pieces into the baking pan, cut side up, on top of the caramel sauce, packing them in snugly together.

Put the pan into a large plastic bag to prove. Leave at room temperature for an hour then place into the fridge overnight or for 8-12 hours. Or, if you wanted to prove more quickly, leave in a warm place for 2 hours. I recommend the fridge prove as it really improves the flavour.

Half an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan or 180 degrees C non fan forced. Add a pan of water to the bottom of the oven to create steam for baking.

Take the pan out of the plastic bag and place the scrolls in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the tops of the scrolls are golden brown but not burnt.

Once baked, remove from the oven. Brush the tops of the scrolls with the warmed golden syrup.

To make the lemon icing, mix the lemon juice with the icing sugar. You may need more or less icing sugar – use enough to make an icing of dripping consistency.

One the scrolls are quite cool, drizzle the lemon icing over the tops of the scrolls.

Remove the scrolls from the pan and peel off the baking paper. The scrolls will be sticky with the caramel sauce underneath.

Best eaten on the day while the scrolls are gooey. They can be microwaved gently the next day if you have any left over!

Cheat’s Gozleme

So this is a great hack if you want a tasty treat based on Turkish gozleme, that staple of food markets and festivals!

I have adapted a recipe for Green Pockets from “Use it All” by the brilliant Cornersmith people, simplifying it a little for a quick make.

You can make the dough a couple of hours ahead of time and get the filling ready just prior to cooking. Or make dough and filling at the same time.

I threw this together – literally – not being that particular with my chopping and filling skills!

Great for a quick lunch or snack, or even a savoury breakfast!

Ingredients

Cheat’s Dough

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

125g Greek yoghurt

190g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Filling

1 1/2 cups of greens eg spinach, rocket, silver beet

1 handful soft herbs eg basil or mint

2 spring onions, white and green parts

1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon salt

A grind of black pepper

150g crumbled cheese eg feta, ricotta, mozzarella (I definitely recommend feta!)

1 tablespoon olive oil for frying

Lemon wedges for serving

Method

To make dough, mix all the wet ingredients together. Stir in the flour and bicarb with a wooden spoon until you have a sticky dough. Put the dough onto a floured board and knead by hand for a few minutes until the dough is smooth. Divide the dough into 4 balls.

You can use the dough now or put in a bowl and cover with cling wrap and leave for an hour.

You could even stick in the fridge for a few hours.

To make the filling, chop all the greens, herbs, spring onions and garlic finely. Sprinkle over the salt and pepper.

Chop whatever cheeses you are using into small pieces.

When ready to make your cheat’s gozleme, take a ball and roll out into circles as thin as you can.

Spread equal amounts of cheese onto half of each circle. Then cover the half circles with all the green ingredients.

Fold the dough over the filling to make a semi circle kind of pastie shape, pinching edges together.

Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Cook each cheat’s gozleme for about 3 minutes on each side or until brown and speckled. Pressing down the gozleme once you’ve turned them over helps to amalgamate and cook the filling inside.

Remove from the pan and serve hot with lemon wedges.

Chunky Beef Pie

Lockdown Sydney. Winter July 2021.

It’s definitely the time when we need comfort food, preferably something warming and hearty. Pies are perfect!

This one has my go-to beef filling, a lovely casserole of slow cooked beef and tomato. And to make it easy, a simple crust of shop bought puff pastry – all butter if you can get it.

It’s rustic – no need to be too fiddly in the presentation!

Ingredients
Beef Filling

500g shin (gravy) beef or chuck steak or blade steak if you can’t get shin
1 dessertspoon plain flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium brown onions, chopped
2 – 4 shallots (more or less depending on the size of the shallots), chopped
2 x 400g tins whole peeled tomatoes
I large tomato, roughly chopped
200 mls red wine
1 tinful of water
1 tablespoon molasses
1 dessertspoon Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt, black pepper
A bay leaf
A few springs thyme
Few sprigs rosemary

For the pastry – 2 sheets of all butter puff pastry + free-range egg, beaten, for brushing the pastry

Method
Filling

Preheat oven to 140 degrees C.

Place the beef into a ziplock bag with the flour, close and shake the bag to coat the beef pieces in the flour. Heat a heavy based cast iron casserole on the stovetop. Add two tablespoons of oil to the casserole.

Add half of the beef pieces and cook for a minute or two to brown the meat, turning to make sure all sides get the heat. This is just to caramelise the meat. Remove the pieces from the casserole and set aside. Add the other half of the beef and caramelise in the same way, removing from the casserole once browned.

Add the other tablespoon of oil, and add the the chopped onions and shallots. Fry over a medium heat until the onions and shallots are softened, about 3-5 minutes. Return the meat to the casserole.

Add the tinned tomatoes, roughly breaking up into the casserole. Add the chopped fresh tomato. Stir in the red wine, and using one of the tomato tins, add a tinful  of water. Stir in the molasses and Worcestershire sauce. Season with a sea salt and black pepper. Tie up the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary with an elastic band or a piece of string, to make a bouquet garnis, and put into the casserole mixture.

Making sure the mixture is simmering, carefully remove the casserole to the preheated oven. Cook for 3 hours, or until the beef is tender and almost falling apart. You should check after 2 hours, just in case the casserole has cooked a bit dry. If so, you can add some more water. As a general rule, it’s pretty hard to overcook this cut of beef, so 2 1/2 – 3 hours is usually about the right time.

Remove the casserole from the oven, remove the bouquet garnis,  and cool to room temperature.

Making the Pie

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Remove bought puff pastry from the fridge. You will need a pie dish, tin or mould, 18cms or 20cms in diameter. Cut the pastry from each sheet, into two pieces, one slightly bigger than the other. The bigger round should be at least big enough to fit into the pie dish, covering the base and sides. The other round will need to cover the top of the pie.

Ease the bottom pastry round into the dish. You can trim off any excess from around the edge.

Now it’s time to fill the pie. You won’t need all the filling – fill with enough of the meat mixture to fit comfortably into the pastry. Brush the edge of the pastry with the beaten egg.

Take the second, smaller round of pastry, cutting or stretching to the size of the top of the pie, making sure you have enough pastry to overlap the top of the pie. You can always trim the excess. Place over the filling, making sure the top pastry meets the bottom pastry all around the pie. Seal the the top and bottom of the pastry by pushing down around the edge with the prongs of a fork.

I did a bit of fancy scoring on the top of the pie (see photo) but it’s not really necessary.

Brush the top of the pie all over with beaten egg, before putting the pie into the hot oven. Cook for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven.

Serve in big slices with a green salad, your sauce of choice and some crusty bread. A glass of red wine goes down well too!

Beef and Tomato Handpies + Sundried Tomato and Feta Handpies

I made these originally as pasties, but really, they are little pastries that you fit in your hand. So handpies they have become!

They’re pretty easy to make, using bought puff pastry. But you really need to get the all butter pastry.

Beef and Tomato Handpies

The beef version uses a beef casserole I cook a lot. It’s easy too, but does require a long slow cooking time. The sundried tomato and feta version is simple as the filling doesn’t need cooking.

The filling was some slow cooked beef cheeks, cooked in Pedro Ximinez sherry. I added in a chopped fresh tomato and and handful of chopped sundried tomatoes. I reduced the tomatoes with the cooked beef until the mixture was thick enough to be used a pastie filling.

Recipe for the beef cheeks follows.

For a dozen pies, you would need about 1/3 of the recipe quantity. The rest is great served with mashed potato or pasta, root vegetables or green salad.

Ingredients 

1.5 kg  beef cheeks
125 ml  olive oil
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 garlicky bulb, halved
1 brown onion, sliced
500 ml  Pedro Ximenez sherry or any other sweet sherry
500 ml  red wine
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C or even lower if your oven is hot (like mine).

Trim the beef cheeks to neaten them up and remove any sinew and silver skin. Season well.

Heat half the olive oil in a large heavy-based baking dish over high heat. Brown the beef cheeks for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden, then remove from the pan.

Add the remaining olive oil, then add the carrot, garlic and onion and sauté over high heat for 12-15 minutes, or until well browned. Stir in the sherry, wine, bay leaves, thyme, sea salt and 500 ml water.

Reduce the heat and add the beef cheeks.  Cover and place in the oven to cook for 3-4 hours, or until the cheeks are beginning to fall apart.

The sauce from the beef cheeks should by now be reduced and glaze-like. If it needs further reducing, remove the cheeks from the baking dish, cover with foil to keep them warm and simmer the sauce over high heat on the stove top until nicely reduced.

Increase the oven to 190 degrees C. Take 3 puff pastry sheets, and using a plate as a template, cut out 12  20cm circles; you may have to gather up the trimmings and re-roll them to get all your circles. Don’t worry if you don’t get 12; just get as many as you can from the pastry sheets.

Spoon the stew on to one half of each circle. Brush the pastry edges with water, fold the other half of the pastry over the filling to form a half-moon shape and crimp well to seal.

Place the pies on a lightly oiled baking sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Eat the pies warm or cold.

Sundried Tomato and Feta Handpies

Simply chopped sundried tomatoes and crumble some soft feta. Add a sprinkling of fresh herbs like coriander or thyme to taste.

The quantities are up to you – I used 6 sundried tomatoes and 3 small pieces of feta to make 2 large pasties from 1 pastry sheet.

Spoon the filling on to one half of each circle. Brush the pastry edges with water, fold the other half of the pastry over the filling to form a half-moon shape and crimp to seal. These pies may open during cooking, but as the filling isn’t liquid, they stay intact.

Place the handpies on a lightly oiled baking sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. These ones are best eaten cold.

Boozy Buns with Raisins and Sultanas

 


I’m a huge fan of buns, rolls or scrolls, any kind of bread with a sweet filling. I usually make cinnamon scrolls, which are always delicious. This time I wanted to make some sweet buns using boozy fruit from the jar in my store cupboard.

I keep a jar permanently in the cupboard with raisins and sultanas soaking in alcohol. I top up the jar with rum or brandy or even whisky, whatever I have on hand. Stick in a vanilla pod, give the mixture a stir and leave the fruit to macerate. The boozy fruit makes a delicious dessert served over ice cream or with cream or yoghurt, or as a filling for cakes or pastries.

These yeasted buns are full of luscious fruit and almond frangipane, rolled like a scroll, and finished with a golden syrup glaze while still warm. They are pretty easy to make, particularly if you use a mixer with a dough hook. You will need to use a bit of elbow grease if you knead by hand!

Start the buns the day before you want to bake them, and leave in the fridge overnight for the second prove. Then bake them first thing in the morning and eat them warm from the oven for breakfast if you can’t resist the smell of freshly baked sticky buns!

Ingredients 

For the Dough

500g strong flour

7g instant yeast

10g salt

50g caster sugar

250g milk

2 large free range eggs, beaten

50g butter

For the Frangipane

50g butter

50g sugar

60g ground almonds

1 large free range egg

1/2 teaspoon almond essence

Filling + Glaze

300g boozy raisins and sultanas (If you don’t have a jar of prepared fruit, simply put the fruit in a bowl and cover with 1/2 cup of rum, brandy or whisky. Leave to soak for 1/2-1 hour)

100g golden syrup

Icing

100g icing sugar with a little water to make a paste

Method

Put the strong flour into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook or into a large mixing bowl if kneading by hand. Add the instant yeast and salt, making sure the yeast and salt are on opposite sides of the bowl, and the caster sugar. Add the milk which you have warmed to tepid (microwaving is easy) and the beaten eggs. Mix by hand into a rough dough, even if you’re going to use the dough hook in the next stage.

Cover the bowl with a tea towel or my favourite, a plastic shower cap, and rest for 20 minutes. Then move the bowl to the mixer and knead with the dough hook until the mixture is smooth and starting to develop some elasticity, about 5 minutes. Add the butter in small pieces, then knead again for about 5 minutes, using the mixer until the butter is thoroughly incorporated, the dough is smooth and you can achieve the “windowpane” effect. That is, you can pull  some of the dough off the dough hook, between two fingers, stretching it so that it’s translucent.

If you are kneading by hand, you will knead to work the dough really well, in both stages, to get it to the desired silky, elastic stage.

Cover the bowl again and leave in a warm place to prove for about an hour, until the dough is doubled in size. You ideally need a temperature of about 25 degrees C. In winter in Sydney it can be hard to get that temperature, so I usually resort to leaving the bowl near the heating source, and even giving it an extra 30 minutes plus if the dough hasn’t doubled in size.

Make the frangipane while the dough is proving. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and mix. Or you can beat the ingredients together by hand. Either way you want to end up with a smooth paste.

Once the dough is risen, take the dough out of the bowl onto the bench top or ideally a large wooden board. Flour the bench top or board liberally with flour. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough into a large rectangle, as large as you can go, with the dough ending up about 1/2 cm thick. My dough rectangle is usually about 30cm in width by 40-50cm in length.

Smear the frangipane over the entire rectangle of dough. It will look like you haven’t got quite enough, but keep on spreading and you will cover the rectangle.

Drain your boozy raisins and sultanas, and scatter them over the dough. Now carefully roll up the dough along the long side. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough. You should get about 12 slices, give or take.

Line a large baking tin or tray with baking paper. Carefully place each slice, cut side up, into the tin or tray, fitting them snugly together.

Place the tin or tray into a large plastic bag. You will need to make sure you have enough room in your fridge, as you are going to prove the buns in there overnight. Put the tin or tray into the fridge, and leave for 8-12 hours overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced, or 200 degrees C non fan forced. Place a baking tray, or ideally a cast iron pan, in the bottom of the oven, with some water in it, to create steam for your baking.

Remove the plastic bag from the tin/tray and put the buns straight from the fridge into the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until the buns are risen and a deep golden brown.

Remove the buns from the oven. Warm the golden syrup to make it spreadable – 30 seconds in the microwave on low, or gently heat in a saucepan.

While the buns are still still warm, brush all over with the golden syrup. Be generous! You want the buns to be really sticky!

Pull the buns apart, and eat while warm – they are truly delicious and moreish. Or wait till they are cool, and drizzle over some icing. Make the icing by adding water, a teaspoon at a time, to the icing sugar, until you have a paste that you can drizzle over the buns – not too thick but not too runny.

An easy way to drizzle is to put the icing in a zip lock bag and snip the corner off. You can squeeze the icing out of your makeshift piping bag.

Or even easier – dip a fork in the icing and drizzle straight over the buns!

Whether you eat warm or at room temperature, ice or not, these buns are super yummy. They keep for a couple of days, and also freeze well.

But best eaten on the day!

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