RSS Feed

Category Archives: Small Baked Things

A Week in Shetland

October 2022 and I’m back in Shetland, this time to pursue food and history. In 2019 it was all about stunning coastal walks and brilliant wildlife. And Shetland made an impression. My musings on this visit are recorded here.

So with my long suffering but enthusiastic travelling companion in tow, I certainly got to grips in a determined way with the culture and the stories of Shetland food.

A highlight was A Taste of Shetland Food and Drink Festival – blogged recently here. What an amazing experience. A really good way to encounter local produce and producers. I tasted samples of tablet, sponge cake, sourdough, bannocks, oatcake and some gin to wash it all down. Have I left anything out?

Some wonderful restaurants too, in Lerwick where we were based, doing innovative food with local, seasonal food. I think I had seafood wherever I went – Shetland seafood is gorgeous.

Some highlights were beautiful scallops and mussels at No 88 Kitchen and Bar, exquisitely presented dishes at Da Steak Hoose and the best crème brûlée ever at C’est La Vie!

But I need to do a big shout out to the Cake Fridges of Shetland – what a fantastic, quirky idea!

These are fridges literally set up on the roadside where the owner bakes cakes and treats which you buy by putting money in an honesty box. And that’s it! Shetland is such a community minded place that people are honest.

I visited The Cake Fridge in Aith – the original cake fridge, and bought hot coffee and tiffin – a kind of chocolate slice. Very Shetland and quite delicious.

On the island of Unst, seemingly in the middle of nowhere we were delighted to find a cake fridge, this time more accurately a cake dolls’ house! And on a cold and windy day we bought shortbread, more tiffin and tablet to keep us fuelled for exploring this most northerly island.

History and archeology were also on the agenda. And we struck gold when we met the eloquent and knowledgeable Chris Dyer from Garths Croft on the island of Bressay. Chris is an archeologist, historian and farmer, who is a passionate enthusiast for native and heritage breeds and sustainable farming.

An afternoon spent at Garths Croft was an immersive experience in the workings of a small croft. Readers of this blog may be aware of my love of sheep – and I was fascinated by the sheep that Chris breeds for colour. And I was particularly taken by Dinky, a sheep that had been hand reared from birth by Chris. I admit to being a bit sentimental where sheep are concerned…

Chris also is highly informed on local food and the importance of food miles in agriculture and food production in Shetland. We ate some outstanding local dishes on Chris’ recommendations.

One of those recommendations was the wonderful Speldiburn Cafe which we visited when we were on Bressay. Now here was great Shetland food – soups, bannocks. cakes and tiffin, all home made and all served with a welcoming smile!

We were able to tap into Chris’ other great passion, archeology, when we drove up to Unst, the most northerly point of the UK, driving across two islands via two ferries to reach this historic place. This bleak and windswept island is evocative, thought to be the first point of contact in the North Atlantic of the Vikings, and a treasure trove of archeological sites pertaining to Viking history.

At Haroldswick, a replica Viking Long House, where we had lunch, and a Viking ship the Skidbladner, give visitors some idea of Viking life. The replica ship actually made the voyage from Sweden to Shetland. Apparently bound for the United States in 2000, the ship stopped off in Unst where it remains today. Getting inside the ship gave me a real appreciation of how hard those Viking sea journeys must have been.

I had visited Unst in 2019, staying at Saxa Vord, at the service quarters of an old RAF base. Some of the base facilities are now being developed as part of the planned SaxaVord Spaceport, creating a successful, internationally recognised “new space business”. Today however Saxa Vord is abandoned, and we wandered around the deserted site. Another reminder of the historical strategic importance of the northerly isle – to the Viking invaders and latterly to those seeking to defend the UK on its northerly tip.

I think of all the sites we visited the ruins of Framgord Chapel and graveyard left the greatest impression on me.

Chris brought us to this special place above the beach at Sandwick. The chapel probably dates to the 12th Century. The graveyard was what fascinated me. With sweeping views of the beach, the graveyard is a testament to history and spirituality. Remarkably it’s still in use today, and contemporary headstones lie side by side with early Viking Christian graves.

On a more poignant note there is the burial place and memorial to crew members of a Norwegian ship torpedoed in 1940 during World War 2. The lifeboat was wrecked at Muness in Unst. The wild seas are still the graveyard of latter day northern seafarers.

We saw much more on Unst, and this would only have been the tip of the iceberg. The archeological treasures of Unst are numerous and bear more research.

I would add here that any trip to Shetland to discover its history is enhanced by visiting Shetland Museum in Lerwick – a really interesting and informative collection.

Of course I did and saw a lot more! I just wanted to give a snapshot, the highlights, of a memorable visit to wonderful Shetland. Highly recommended.

Blueberry and White Chocolate Crumble Muffins

Blueberries, white chocolate, crumble, what’s not to like? These muffins are a winner, as they’re easy to make and even easier to bake.

They can be whipped up quickly for breakfast or a snack. But remember, as I’m sure you know, muffins should not be overmixed, so mixing by hand is the way to go.

Ingredients

Muffin mix

350g self raising flour

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

50 g castor sugar

50 g brown sugar

100 g white chocolate, chopped

2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten

200mls buttermilk

125 g butter

250g blueberries

Crumble topping

50g rolled oats

20g ground almonds

40g brown sugar

60g flour

35g roughly chopped almonds

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

65g melted butter

Method

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C fan forced. Grease a 6 cup Texas muffin pan or a 12 cup ordinary size muffin pan. Depending on how big you make your muffins you may end up with excess mixture so be prepared to bake an extra muffin or two of either size.

Combine the flour and spices into a large bowl. Stir in the sugars and white chocolate. Combine the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter, and stir into the dry ingredients until just combined. Be careful not too overmix or muffins will be tough.

Fold in the blueberries.

To make the crumble, put all the ingredients together in a small bowl and stir until combined.

Spoon the muffin mix into the muffin pan, and add a generous spoonful of crumble on top of each one.

Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes for larger muffins and 15-20 minutes for regular muffins, or in the case of each size, until a skewer inserted in the muffin comes out clean.

Rosewater and Lime Cakes

I love making little cakes, and I like to make cakes in different sizes and shapes.

I’m a great collector of molds for cakes, and my collection is always growing… I picked up these little rose molds made by Nordicware some time ago. They are perfect for little cakes for afternoon tea or even for a dessert.

While they are very pretty the molds do need careful management in order that the cakes don’t stick. I use this method – I butter the molds well, sprinkle them with flour, and freeze them for 15 minutes or so. This seems to do the trick.

However you could make these cakes in any fancy molds or in a muffin pan.

Something else that I do with these cakes, is to use buttermilk. I find this gives the cakes a really lovely flavour and I think perhaps helps them to keep well.

And lime and rosewater is a beautiful combination!

Ingredients

Little Rose Cakes

125g butter

125g caster sugar

Zest of 1/2 lime

2 large free-range eggs

200g plan flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

125mls buttermilk

Icing

100g icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon rosewater

Juice of 1/4 lime

A drop of pink food colouring

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. You can make this little cakes in any fancy molds you have on hand. I made these in Nordicware rose molds, but you could use any standard 12 cup muffin pan.

Butter and flour your molds – if you’re using any kind of fancy molds, you will need to butter and flour them very well as I mentioned in the introduction.

Cream the butter and sugar in electric mixer with the lime zest. Add the eggs and beat until well mixed. Add the plain flour and baking powder plus the buttermilk, and gently mix until just incorporated.

Place the tin in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and golden on top.

Cool the cakes in their molds or muffin pan for 5 minutes, then carefully remove from the molds or muffin pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.

In a bowl, mix together the icing sugar, rosewater, lime juice and pink food colouring and beat well. If the icing is too soft, or runny, then add more icing sugar to get the desired consistency.

However you don’t want the icing too thick, as this is more of a glaze than an icing. You want the beautiful rose shapes of the molds to be visible!

Drizzle over the little rose cakes, serve as is for afternoon tea, or with a dollop of cream as a dessert.

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.

Swedish Cardamom Buns

A very exciting time in the Quirk and the Cool kitchen! I have recently acquired an Akarsrum mixer from the incredible people at Blackwood Lane in Melbourne in Victoria. It’s Swedish, and an incredibly efficient and powerful machine, particularly for producing dough.

So it seemed appropriate to make something Swedish for the first use of the machine!

I love sweet rolls, scrolls and buns, but I haven’t yet made kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) or kardemummabullar (cardamom buns).

This recipe is adapted from the Ankarsrum cook book, and is technically a cinnamon bun recipe. But I think the cardamom flavour is outstanding, so I’m calling these cardamom buns.

The Ankarsrum performed well with making the enriched dough. And making and shaping the knots was pretty easy.

Well done to my Ankarsrum mixer!

Here is my tweaked recipe for the rolls. I halved the quantities and added in a whole egg. You might like to bake at a slightly lower temperature. I baked the rolls pictured at 220 degrees C which was a little too hot.

It goes without saying that you could follow this recipe in a KitchenAid or similar.

Dough

Ingredients

75g softened butter

50g sugar

1 free-range egg, beaten

250mls milk

420g strong flour

1 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds

7g instant yeast

7g salt

Filling

100g very soft butter

100g sugar

1/2 beaten free-range egg, for brushing

2 teaspoons Demerara or raw sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Method

Mix the soft butter, sugar and egg together in your mixer, to just incorporate. Add the milk, and mix to combine.

Put the flour into a bowl, and stir in the ground cardamom seeds. Put the yeast on top of the flour, and the salt on the opposite side.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture a little at a time to the mixer bowl. Continue to knead until the dough is soft and elastic and passes the window pane test.

Cover the dough with a plastic bag, towel or my favourite, a plastic shower cap. Leave to prove in a warm place for 1 hour.

Meanwhile make the filling by mixing the butter, sugar and cinnamon together with a palette knife until it’s a smooth paste.

The dough should now have doubled in size. Remove the dough and place on a floured board or bench. Gently roll the dough to a large rectangle about 45 x 30 cm.

Spread the filling over the whole rectangle. Halve the rectangle, putting the long sides together, to make a smaller rectangle 45 x15 cm. Cut into 12 strips. You will have enough dough to trim the uneven ends. You can bake these as scraps!

Pull each strip lengthwise, twist several times, and form into a knot. There are videos on YouTube that can help you if you’re not sure – that’s what I used.

Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, cover with a large plastic bag or tea towel, and leave to prove for an hour.

15 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 220 degrees C, or 210 degrees C if you want your buns less “well done”.

Brush the proved buns with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Place the baking tray into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Serve them warm as is or spread with a little salted butter.

Best eaten on the day, but they microwave beautifully a day or so later!

Raspberry Blondies

Brownies? Blondies? Both excellent sweet treats in a fudgy, gooey kind of way. This one is a sweet version of a brownie, made with white chocolate, so technically definitely a blondie!

I got the inspiration a few years back from a post on the internet, no longer around. The general idea is that raspberries and white chocolate are a match made in heaven, so I ran with that idea!

The blondies are made with plain flour only, no baking powder, but they seem to rise all the same.

Ingredients

115g unsalted butter

180g white chocolate chopped

115g caster sugar

2 free-range eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla paste

125g plain flour +1tablespoon flour

1 cup frozen raspberries

Method

Preheat the oven to to 180 degrees C or 170 degrees fan forced.

Grease and line a square 20 cm x 20 cm baking tin with baking paper. You could use a 18cm x 27cm baking tin instead.

Melt the butter and 100g of the white chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until smooth.

Beat the sugar, free-range eggs and vanilla paste in a bowl until the mixture is thick and pale.

Gently combine the the butter and white chocolate mixture into the egg and sugar mixture.

Gently fold 1/3 of the flour into the batter and repeat twice until all the flour is all incorporated.

Put half the raspberries into the tablespoon of flour then gently fold the raspberries/flour into the mixture.

Pour the mixture into the tin and place the remaining white chocolate pieces and raspberries over the top of the mixture.

Bake for 30- 35 minutes. The blondies will have risen but will still be slightly soft in the middle.

Cool in the tin before cutting into squares.

Bacon, Cheese and Chilli Scrolls

Sweet or savoury, scrolls are one of my favourite yeast based products to make. These scrolls are packed with streaky beacon, cheddar cheese and chilli/tomato/barbecue sauce. A perfect snack or quick breakfast on the go.

Make a basic enriched dough and fill it with the above ingredients, and bake into luscious scrolls.

Ingredients

Dough

500g strong flour

7g yeast

250g milk

10g salt

2 free-range eggs

50g butter

Filling

150g streaky bacon

75g good cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons tomato chutney

1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce

1 tablespoon barbecue sauce

Glaze

1 free-range egg, beaten

1 teaspoon sweet chilli sauce

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. 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.

You can prepare the filling while the dough is proving. Put the bacon rashers in a cold frying pan and heat up on medium, cooking the bacon rashers slowly, until they are nicely crisp. Remove from the pan and cool to room temperature. Finely chop the bacon rashers.

Grate the cheese and put aside. Combine the chilli, tomato and barbecue sauces in a small bowl.

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.

Liberally spread the sauce mixture over the dough rectangle. Scatter the chopped bacon and grated cheese on top of the sauce.

Now carefully roll up the dough along the long side. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into 18 pieces. These are mini scrolls – if you wanted bigger ones, slice into 12 pieces.

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. 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.

Remove the plastic bag from the tin/tray. With a pastry brush, glaze the scrolls with the egg chilli mixture. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the scrolls are risen and and nice and brown.

Pull apart and eat while still warm!

2022 ANZAC Biscuits

Yesterday, Saturday, I made my annual batch of ANZAC biscuits, that delicious treat associated with Australian and New Zealand soldiers of the First World War, in preparation for ANZAC Day 2022 on 25 April.

The wonderful blog “The Cook and the Curator”, from the team at Sydney Living Museums, has done some research into the origin of ANZAC biscuits.

“There has been much debate as to the origins of the iconic Anzac biscuit, and whether they were sent in care packages to soldiers at war, or if they were made by soldiers at ‘the front’. They were certainly enjoyed by Australians long before the First World War, but under different names.”

Here is the link the the article:https://blogs.sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/cook/anzac-cookery/ if you would like to know more.

The Cook and the Curator also note that coconut is an optional ingredient and it wasn’t added till the 1930s. By all means add some to to your biscuits, but personally I’m not a fan.

My recipe is based on this authentic recipe, with a small tweak or two.

I add golden syrup, as I love the toffee flavour it imparts. Most recipes do include golden syrup.

Somewhere I read in a recipe that browning the butter after melting it gives a greater depth of flavour. It really does! To compensate for the fact that you lose a little bit of the butter by browning it, I have added another 15g of butter to the recipe.

It really is a straightforward ANZAC biscuit recipe – very easy to put together and quick to bake.

Eat the biscuits on the day they are baked but they will keep well too, if there are any left!

Ingredients

165g salted butter

180g rolled oats

120g plain flour

125g brown sugar

2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 tablespoons boiling water

Method

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Line 2 oven trays with baking paper. 

Place the butter in a small saucepan and heat until melted. Once the butter is melted, cook for about 3-4 minutes, swirling the pan often. The butter will foam and turn a golden brown. Remove from the heat and put into a bowl to cool slightly.

Mix the rolled oats, flour and sugar in a large bowl.

Combine the melted butter and golden syrup in the same saucepan. Add the bicarbonate of soda and boiling water and whisk to combine. Remove from heat.

Add the butter/golden syrup mixture and stir until well combined.

Take tablespoons of mixture and make into balls. Place the balls onto the baking trays, allowing space for spreading. Don’t flatten the balls!

Bake for 15 minutes or until biscuits are dark golden brown. Remove the biscuits from the oven and cool on the trays. The biscuits will firm up as they cool. Now remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight tin. They keep well for a few days.

Meringue Kisses

I whipped up a batch of meringues yesterday to serve at an Easter brunch. Very easy, and the recipe doesn’t require too many ingredients.

Serve the meringues on their own or sandwich together with whipped cream and serve with fresh raspberries.

Ingredients

2 free range egg whites at room temperature

A pinch of salt

115g caster sugar

Red food colouring

Whipped cream to fill, raspberries and icing sugar to serve.

Method

Preheat oven to 120 degrees C.

Whisk the egg whites and salt on low speed until frothy and they form peaks which hold their shape.

On medium speed, add the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Once all the sugar has been added, continue beating until the meringue is stiff and glossy, about 3 minutes.

For plain meringues, spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle, whatever size you want your meringues to be. Or just pipe straight from the bag!

For pink striped meringues, fit a nozzle, if using, into a piping bag, then paint vertical stripes of food colour with a pastry brush.

Fill the piping bag with the meringue mixture.

For plain or pink meringues, pipe meringues onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper.

Place tray into the oven and bake for 1 hour, then turn oven off and leave to cool for several hours.

Lovely on their own, or sandwich together with whipped cream and serve with raspberries and a dusting of icing sugar.

Hot Cross Buns 2022

I really look forward to baking hot cross buns each Easter. And each Easter I try a new recipe or tweak one of my old ones. They’re all delicious – I’ve never met a hot cross bun I didn’t like!

So I’m a bit late this year, but I will be making the 2022 version later this week.

But in the meantime, here are the links to my favourite hot cross buns, from the experts from the Great British Bake-off, to Jamie Oliver and Paul Hollywood, to my own sourdough version.

So long as the buns are beautifully baked a deep golden brown and served with lashings of butter, you can’t go wrong.

Great British Bakeoff Hot Cross Buns: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2019/04/19/hot-cross-buns-great-british-bake-off/

A great recipe with lots of fruit and spice including an apple.

Jamie Oliver Inspired Hot Cross Buns: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2016/03/26/hot-cross-buns-jamie-oliver-inspired/

I like this recipe with stem ginger in the original bread mix plus cranberries as well as sultanas in the fruit.

Paul Hollywood’s Hot Cross Buns:https://thequirkandthecool.com/2015/04/03/paul-hollywoods-hot-cross-buns/

A bit more work with this recipe with 3 provings but a great resulting flavour.

Sourdough Hybrid Hot Cross Buns:https://thequirkandthecool.com/2021/03/23/sourdough-hybrid-hot-cross-buns/

If you have a sourdough starter, my recipe makes a delicious hot cross bun with a beautiful flavour!

%d bloggers like this: