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Category Archives: Small Baked Things

Croissants for Breakfast!


I make croissants maybe a couple of times year. Not that often, as it’s an 18 hour process with so much proving to happen.

A while back I made croissants to take away to Bundanoon, in the beautiful Southern Highlands in NSW. We were staying at the lovely “Fulford Folly”, an idyllic  country retreat with the added bonus of the company of two mini donkeys! We had a great break, and home made croissants on the verandah for breakfast seemed appropriate.

In previous posts I talk about my experimenting with enriched dough recipes, coming up with a recipe that works for both croissants and Danish pastries. So here is the recipe again, with photos of our breakfast. I served the croissants with lashings of cultured butter and my Plum, Raisin and Walnut Jam, the recipe is here if you’re interested.

Ingredients

450g strong flour
40g caster sugar
10g salt
10g instant yeast
10g unsalted butter, chilled
300mls full fat milk
250g unsalted high quality butter, chilled
1 free-range egg

Method

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, sugar, salt and test until combined, rubbing the salt and yeast in at opposite sides of the bowl. Roughly rub in the 10g butter until crumb-like, then add the milk and form into a dough.

Mix the dough on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for 6 minutes, until it has become smooth and doesn’t break when stretched. Place in a large plastic zip lock bag and refrigerate for at least an hour  but preferably overnight.

Once the dough has rested, take the additional butter and place it between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper or cling film. Using a rolling pin, bash the butter until it flattens into a square, roughly 30cm x 20 cm. Return the butter to the fridge and remove the dough.

Roll out the dough on floured surface until it is a rectangle, about 50cm x 20cm. Lay the butter on the dough so that it covers the bottom two-thirds of it. Make sure that it is positioned neatly and comes almost to the edges.

Fold the exposed dough at the top down one-third of the butter. Now gently cut off the exposed bit of butter, without going through the dough, and put it on the top of the dough you have just folded down. Fold the bottom half of the dough up. You will now have a sandwich of two layers of butter and three of dough. Pinch the edges lightly to seal in the butter. Put the dough back in the plastic bag and chill for an hour to harden butter.

Gently roll the dough out into a new rectangle about three to four times as long as it is wide. Gently take both ends and fold them over towards each other, so that they meet in the middle (your rectangle should now be half as long as it was). Then, fold the new shape in half again, closing it like a book. Place in the ziplock bag,  and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Carefully, repeat the instructions in the last paragraph twice more, so that the dough has been folded and rested three times altogether.

The dough now needs to be left in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight, to rest and rise slightly. It is then ready to use.

Line 2 or 3 baking trays with baking paper.

Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a rectangle, about 40cm long and 30cm wide. Trim the edges to neaten them.

Cut the rectangle lengthways into 2 strips, then cut triangles along the length of each strip, about 12cm wide at the base and about 15cm high. You could use the first triangle as template for the rest, but I find it easier just to measure and cut each one. Hopefully you will get 6 triangles from each strip, but I don’t think it matters if you get one more or one less!

Hold down the wide base of the triangle and gently tug the opposite thin end to cause a slight tension in the dough. This helps with getting a tight roll. Starting at the wide end of the triangle, roll up into a croissant shape. Repeat with each triangle. Keep the ends of the croissants straight, apparently this is more authentic.

Put the croissants onto the baking trays, leaving space in between each of them to expand. Put each tray inside a clean plastic bag (I have some really large clear plastic bags I saved from a delivery or purchase)

Leave the croissants to rise at room temperature until  doubled in size. This should take about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Whisk the egg with a pinch of salt to make an egg wash and brush the top and sides of the croissants with the eggwash. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack. Of  course you can eat them  warm, but they do freeze well, so if you’re going to freeze them, do it as soon as they have cooled slightly.

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Halloween Blueberry Yoghurt Cakes

It’s coming up for Halloween in week or so, and these rather lurid blue gems are the perfect thing for hungry Trick or Treaters! They’re not the prettiest cakes in the world,  but they’re yummy, crammed full of blueberries and iced with a lemon glaze. And their “blue blood” dripping dripping down the sides is sure to be a winner!

A word of warning: they’re very moist, so grease your molds really well, or maybe use paper cases. A couple of my bottoms stuck to the molds, because the mixture was so moist.

Ingredients

2 free-range eggs
140g raw sugar
75ml vegetable oil
50g fresh blueberries + extra fo decorating
100g Greek yoghurt
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla paste
100g frozen blueberries

Icing
Juice of a lemon
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
Blue food colouring

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Grease a 6 cup large muffin mould, or use a normal muffin mould and you will get 6-8 smaller cakes. Remember to grease very well or use paper cases.

Put the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until the eggs are frothy. Add the sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has increased in volume. Add the the oil and the fresh blueberries and continue whisking. You actually want the fresh blueberries to break up a bit to give some “blue” colour to the mixture. Add the yoghurt and whisk until incorporated. The mixture will be quite liquid.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla paste. Gently incorporate into the mixture. Fold in the frozen blueberries.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin holes, filling to about three quarters way up.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, but the cakes may cook more quickly. Check the cakes at 15 minutes and then at 5 minutes intervals, using a skewer to test for “doneness”.

Cool for 5 minutes before very carefully turning out the cakes.

To make the icing, add enough of the juice of a lemon to the icing sugar to make a droppable icing. Spoon out half of the lemon icing and add blue food colour to the half mixture drop by drop until you have the right shade of blue.

Ice the cakes with the both the plain icing and blue icing in whatever artistic or crazy way you like! But make sure the icing drips to suit the Halloween theme! Finally add a blueberry on top of each cake.




 

Blood Orange Upside Down Cakes

IMG_7705 IMG_7697It’s the last couple of weeks for blood oranges in Sydney. Nothing beats the flavour and colour of blood oranges – I await the arrival of these ruby red gems eagerly each year and try to include them in lots of delicious recipes. I made these mini cakes a year ago, and, looking over blood orange recipes, thought I would repost this one again, just in time for the last of the fruit.

These are some more blood orange treats I have posted and are definitely worth a try.

Blood Orange Breakfast Sorbet with Granola and Fresh Fruit

Blood Orange Friands

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

Little Strawberry and Blood Orange Cakes

Here’s the recipe for these “mini” blood orange cakes.

Ingredients 

Candied orange slices

2 blood oranges

200g caster sugar

Cakes

2 blood oranges

200g  caster sugar

125g very soft butter

2 free range eggs

½ tsp vanilla essence

125g plain flour

75g ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

Method

For the candied orange slices, finely slice 2 of the oranges, discarding the ends and keeping as many slices intact as you can.

Dissolve 200g of the sugar in 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Carefully place the orange slices in the syrup and simmer them until they are soft and sticky. Remove from the syrup using tongs. If the syrup is not reduced enough, cook it for a few minutes extra to thicken – but don’t let it go to toffee.

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

I use a set of mini cake tins which have removeable bottoms for these upside cakes, see the photo.

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You could also use mini springform tins, but you will end up with small cakes rather than mini cakes. If you don’t have a tin/s with removeable bottoms, you could use an ordinary muffin tin, but turning out the mini cakes will be tricky, as you need to keep the candied orange slices intact.

Grease whatever tins you are using well, and line the bases with circles of baking paper.

Chop 2 of the blood oranges in quarters and remove each end. Blitz in the food processor until reasonably finely chopped – there should still be some small chunks in the mixture. Add the butter and 200g of the sugar and blitz in the food processor. The mixture will look very curdled!

Add the eggs and vanilla and blitz again, the mixture will still look very curdled! Gently fold in the flour and baking powder, making sure not to over mix or the cake with toughen. The cake mixture will now look “normal”.

Place the candied orange slices on the paper bases in the tin/s, one should be enough unless you are using a larger tin. Be as artistic as possible, remembering, as these are upside down cakes, that the bottoms become the top! Place the batter over the top of the slices.

Bake for 20- 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean. As these cakes are small, they may need a little less cooking, but they are also quite moist, so may need the allotted time. My advice is check after 15 minutes and keep checking thereafter. If you are using small springform pans you will need a little longer.

Remove from the oven once cooked and cool the tin/s on a wire rack. When the cakes are cool (not cold), carefully remove each mini cake from the tin/s. Even more carefully, take off the bases and peel away the baking paper.

Brush the mini cakes with the blood orange syrup and serve. IMG_7726

Cherry and Marzipan Chelsea Buns

 

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It’s no secret that this quirky writer loves bread in all its glorious forms! And I particularly love coming up with my own variations of well known recipes.

Chelsea buns – love them! I’ve been doing a bit of experimenting with different fillings, and I think I may have come up with a winner. Maraschino cherries and marzipan make for a bun with an almond flavour, and are a little  sweeter than ordinary Chelsea buns. I put some marzipan through the dough as well, and this helped to make the buns really moist, and keep fresh for longer too.

You can make your own marzipan – I always do so at Christmas for the Christmas Cake and to make marzipan fruit – but for this recipe I use store bought. A great brand in Australia is Blackwood Lane. They have a marvellous kitchen and baking supplies store in Melbourne where you can buy hard to find baking utensils as well as their famous marzipan. You can also order the marzipan online, and it’s available in supermarkets.

The buns are quite sweet – so feel free to add less sugar or cherries in the filling. I think the marzipan quantities are fine, as you want that lovely “almondy” taste.

Ingredients

250g plain white flour
250g strong white flour
8g table salt
7g instant yeast
50g caster sugar
280g milk, warmed until tepid
1 free-range egg, at room temperature
50g unsalted butter
100g of a 250g block of marzipan, roughly sliced

Filling

50g unsalted butter, melted
70g brown sugar
30g raw sugar or Demerara sugar
150g marzipan – the rest of the block
100g Maraschino cherries, drained, reserving the liquid. (Make sure you take the stems off!)
100g sultanas or golden raisins

Glaze

1 tbls strawberry jam, sieved, mixed with a little warm water

Lemon Icing

200g icing sugar
Juice of 1/ lemon
Liquid from the Maraschino cherries

Method

Place the flour, salt, yeast, sugar, tepid milk, and egg into a large bowl and mix together using an electric mixer with a dough hook. Knead in the mixer about for 10 minutes.

Melt the butter and add, with the chopped marzipan, to the dough, mixing until the butter and marzipan is completely combined. This should take 2 or 3 minutes in the mixer.

Cover the bowl (I use a disposable shower cap but cling film is fine) and leave the dough to rest for 60-90 minutes at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge, until it has grown to roughly double its original size.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a big, long rectangle. The rectangle should be about 20cm wide. It’s hard to say how long the rectangle is, at least 50 cms, but it could be longer. I judge by the thickness of the dough, rolling out to get a decent length, but you do want dough that’s not too thin, just thick enough to encase the filling.

Melt the butter and brush over the dough. Sprinkle the dough all over with both sugars. Scatter the Maraschino cherries and the sultanas or golden raisins over the dough, making sure you cover all of the dough.

Roll up the dough along its long edge into as tight a cylinder you can get, being careful as the dough is quite hard to manage. Slice the cylinder into roughly equal pieces using a sharp knife. I usually get about 12 buns per cylinder, but the number of buns will vary depending on how large you want the finished product.

Line a large baking dish with a piece of baking paper and arrange the buns cut end down.

Cover the dish with a tea towel and leave to rise for another 60-90 minutes at room temperature, until the buns have risen.

15 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced. Put the baking dish in the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the buns are a deep golden brown colour. You can check after 15 minutes to make sure the buns are not browning too quickly – if so, cover the top with foil for the last part of the baking.

Remove from the oven, and brush with the strawberry glaze while still warm. Cool to room temperature. Once the buns are cooled, separate them ready for icing.

For the lemon icing, mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice and enough of the cherry liquid until the icing is thick but of dropping consistency. Drizzle the icing over the buns using a fork or spoon. Go for the rustic look!

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Little Strawberry and Blood Orange Cakes

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9AE196DF-0973-4F12-819A-5DE78E2DBF1EI’m a big fan of the little cake – delicious cakes in different shapes and sizes, filled with fruit and drizzled with a little icing. Perfect for afternoon tea.

I’ve been experimenting with different recipes and baking molds with varying success. I’ve come to the conclusion that too much fruit in the filling can make the little cakes fragile and hard to turn out. It’s also imperative to grease the molds really, really well to stop the cakes sticking.

Here’s a recipe that works. It’s pretty easy as it’s all made in the food processor. You can use whatever fruit you like – I chose strawberries as they are plentiful at the moment, and blood oranges as they are in season. You could substitute the blood orange juice with ordinary orange juice or lemon juice if you like.

Ingredients

125ml canola oil
175g sugar
1 egg
140g natural yoghurt
Juice of 1/2 blood orange
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 tsp vanilla paste
150g self-raising flour
100g frozen strawberries
150g icing sugar
Juice of 1/2 blood orange
1 tsp orange blossom water

Or substitute the juice of 1/2 lemon for lemon icing

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Grease and flour your chosen molds. Depending on the size of the molds, you should get 6-8 cakes from the mixture. I used mini bundt molds and some Nordic ware rose molds.

Put the oil, caster sugar and egg into a food processor and blitz until well combined. Add the yoghurt, blood orange juice, orange blossom water and vanilla paste, and blitz again. Add the flour and pulse to combine.

Finely chop the frozen strawberries and stir them through the mixture. Spoon the mixture into the molds.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.

Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a rack, easing the little cakes out of the molds trying not to break them!

To make the icing, put the icing sugar in a bowl with the blood orange juice and orange blossom water, or lemon juice. Stir to combine to make a smooth flowing icing. If the icu g is too runny, add more icing sugar, if it’s thick, add a little more juice.

Drizzle the icing over the cakes – letting it drip down the sides. Decorate with slices of fresh strawberry and blood orange. I scattered over some freeze dried strawberry powder too. Serve at afternoon tea or anytime you like!

Pain aux Raisins – Little Danish Pastries

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2E29FFDB-655D-4CF0-B296-966430AF893FThere are two types of baking that I seek to perfect each year.

At Easter, I make hot cross buns, trying different recipes and tweaking these to find the best one. I’m generally in favour of Jamie Oliver’s recipes and one or other of these is my current go-to at Easter.

I am very fond of croissants, taste testing these in Sydney and Melbourne in search of “croissant nirvana”.

Making croissants is also a yearly baking exercise. And for these delightful pastries I turn to the baking guru Paul Hollywood and to the Scottish baking doctor James Morton. After much experimenting, I now use the same enriched dough to also produce Danish pastries.

So last week was croissant and Danish pastry making time! Specifically, my Danishes were pain aux raisin.

Here is the recipe for the pain aux raisins. The croissants were nice, in fact delicious, but the look was not so good as I had overproved them, which is why they don’t appear here.

The exact ingredients are the result of much tweaking, and I think my version works well. The method is mostly Paul with a bit of James thrown in.

Ingredients 

Enriched dough
450g strong flour
40g caster sugar
10g salt
10g instant yeast
10g unsalted butter, chilled
300mls full fat milk
250g unsalted high quality butter, chilled

Crème pâtissière
500mls milk
1 vanilla pod, split down the middle and seeds scraped out
100g caster sugar
4 free-range eggs, yolks only
40g cornflour

Filling
200g raisins
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 free-range egg

2 tbls apricot jam for glazing

Lemon icing
150g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Method
Dough

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, sugar, salt and test until combined, rubbing the salt and yeast in at opposite sides of the bowl. Roughly rub in the 10g butter until crumb-like, then add the milk and form into a dough.

Mix the dough on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for 6 minutes, until it has become smooth and doesn’t break when stretched. Place in a large plastic zip lock bag and refrigerate for at least an hour  but preferably overnight.

Once the dough has rested, take the additional butter and place it between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper or cling film. Using a rolling pin, bash the butter until it flattens into a square, roughly 30cm x 20 cm. Return the butter to the fridge and remove the dough.

Roll out the dough on floured surface until it is a rectangle, about 50cm x 20cm. Lay the butter on the dough so that it covers the bottom two-thirds of it. Make sure that it is positioned neatly and comes almost to the edges.

Fold the exposed dough at the top down one-third of the butter. Now gently cut off the exposed bit of butter, without going through the dough, and put it on the top of the dough you have just folded down. Fold the bottom half of the dough up. You will now have a sandwich of two layers of butter and three of dough. Pinch the edges lightly to seal in the butter. Put the dough back in the plastic bag and chill for an hour to harden butter.

Gently roll the dough out into a new rectangle about three to four times as long as it is wide. Gently take both ends and fold them over towards each other, so that they meet in the middle (your rectangle should now be half as long as it was). Then, fold the new shape in half again, closing it like a book. Place in the ziplock bag,  and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Carefully, repeat the instructions in the last paragraph twice more, so that the dough has been folded and rested three times altogether.

The dough now needs to be left in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight, to rest and rise slightly. It is then ready to use.

Crème pâtissière
Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the split vanilla pod and its seeds. Bring the milk mixture to the boil, then remove from the heat.

Whisk the sugar, egg yolks and cornflour together in a large bowl.

Pour out a little of the hot milk onto the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Whisk in the rest of the hot milk until well-combined, then return to the saucepan.

Cook the mixture over a gentle heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture becomes thick. It will just come to the boil.

Remove from the heat and pass the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl. Leave to cool, cover with clingfilm and then chill before using.

To make the pain aux raisins

Line several baking trays with baking paper – you will need at least 3 to bake all the pastries.

Cut the rested dough in half. Roll one half out on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle, about 7mm thick. Turn it 90°, if necessary, so a long edge is facing you. Smear half the crème pâtissière over the dough, leaving a clear 5cm margin along the near edge. Sprinkle half the raisins and cinnamon over the crème. Roll the dough towards you into a sausage, keeping it as tight as possible – give a gentle tug each time you roll to tighten the dough and give it a little tension. When you reach the end, roll the sausage back and forth a few times to seal the join. Repeat with the second piece of dough and remaining ingredients.

Cut the rolls into 3cm slices. Lay cut side up and apart on the baking trays and put each inside a clean plastic bag. Leave to rise at cool room temperature (18 – 24°C) until at least doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Heat oven to 200°C. Brush the risen pastries with beaten egg and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown. Meanwhile, warm the apricot jam with a little water in a saucepan or gently microwave, then sieve.

Once baked, take the pastries out of the oven and brush with the apricot jam. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For the icing, mix the icing sugar with as much of the lemon juice as you need to make a paste which is just runny enough to drizzle.

When the pastries are cool, drizzle the lemon icing over them.

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Ottolenghi Strawberry and Vanilla Mini-Cakes

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65A6C6F5-BF69-48B7-819F-A414FCDB6DC0I love little cakes, and I’m always keen to find recipes for something other than cupcakes.

Yotam Ottolenghi in his lovely book Sweet, written with another great cook Helen Goh, has a number of recipes for all kinds of little cakes. Many of the cakes are made with ground almonds, making them moist and delicious.

These Strawberry and Vanilla Mini-Cakes are very fragrant with fresh strawberries and vanilla. The cakes are quite dense and would be great on their own. The strawberry icing however, adds piquancy, but be careful as it’s quite runny!

Here’s the recipe from Sweet. Ottolenghi suggests making the cakes in a pop-over or giant muffin tin, giving you 12, or if you make them in regular muffin tins you will end up with 18.

I decorated the cakes with freeze dried strawberry powder instead of freeze dried whole berries.

Ingredients 

1 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp/ 250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups/250 g granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

scraped seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod

4 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup/120 g self-rising flour, plus extra for dusting

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/3 cups/140 g almond meal

7 oz/200 g fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/3 inch/1-cm dice

Strawberry Icing

2 oz/55 g fresh strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped

2 1/2 cups/300 g confectioners’ sugar

1 tbsp light corn syrup

scraped seeds of  1/4 vanilla pod

6 whole strawberries (or 9 if using a regular muffin pan) cut in half lengthwise, or 2 tbsp freeze-dried chopped strawberries, to garnish

Method

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Grease and flour the molds of your chosen pans.

Place the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla seeds in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on medium speed until light, then add the eggs, a little at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times as you go. (Adding the eggs gradually should prevent the mix from splitting, but don’t worry too much if it does, it might look a bit curdled, but this will not affect the final result.)

Continue to beat until fully combined. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then stir in the almond meat. Turn the speed of the mixer to medium-low, then add the dry ingredients in three batches and finally fold in the diced strawberries.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared molds – it should come about three-quarters of the way up the sides (about two-thirds in a regular muffin pan). Bake for about 22 minutes (about 20 minutes in a regular muffin pan), rotating the pan halfway  through, until a skewer inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes before easing the cakes out of the molds. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the strawberry icing, place all the icing ingredients in a food processor and process together until smooth.

Drizzle the tops of the upside-down cakes with the icing, allowing it to drip down the sides. If desired, garnish with half a strawberry on each cake, cut side facing up, or a sprinkle of dried strawberries.

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