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Category Archives: Small Baked Things

Zucchini and Halloumi Fritters

Fritters for breakfast lunch or dinner, these simple to make little gems are the mainstay of any meal. There are so many variations and lots of recipes out there. One of the most famous versions is Bill Granger’s iconic Sweet Corn Fritters. They’re on the menu at Granger and Co in London and at the original Bills in my home town Sydney. They are pretty good, wherever you eat them.

I have also blogged in the past Gordon Ramsay’s Halloumi, Zucchini amd Herb Cakes, see here for the post. These fritters are good, too.

But these bright green numbers are so easy to make and really tasty, and are currently high on my list of go-to recipes for lunch or dinner.

They are based on a recipe from Hugh Hamilton Wines, in McLaren Vale in South Australia, although I haven’t been able to find the original recipe when researching for this post. 

What I love about these fritters is that they keep their green colour on the outside and inside. And when you cut them open, the halloumi is still a little bit oozy! Lovely.

Ingredients

2 large zucchini
1 red onion
150g halloumi
Zest of a lemon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup plain flour
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C fan-forced. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Coarsely grate the zucchini and red onion using the large holes of a box grater.
Squeeze the grated zucchini and onion to remove excess liquid. The best way to to do this is using your hands, squeezing a handful at a time. Transfer the grated vegetables to a bowl. Now grate the halloumi in the same way.
Add the lemon, thyme leaves and halloumi to the bowl and mix. Stir in the flour and egg, and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Roll heaped tablespoons of the mixture into rough balls and place onto the baking tray. The mixture is quite wet, but don’t worry, as they will keep their shape as they bake. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden and firm. The edges may be a little dark – this just adds to the rustic effect!
Serve with sour cream or Greek yoghurt, and chilli jam or sweet chilli sauce, and a big green salad on the side. Delish!

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Blueberry Oat Cakes

These oat cakes are a cross between cakes, biscuits and scones. They are quite dense, with ground rolled oats and blueberries.

I developed the recipe because I am currently reading “The Violet Bakery Cookbook” by the wonderful Claire Ptak. As well as being a great baker in London, she made the famous wedding cake for Harry and Meghan in 2018. She has several rather rustic scones recipes, often with wholemeal or spelt flour, often featuring fruit, in her book. She is so imaginative in her recipes and I love her presentation too!

The mixture is very crumbly and will be difficult to bring together into a dough, particularly with the frozen blueberries. But don’t worry, just pat the mixture into shape and by resting it, you can cut the rounds from the mixture.

Here’s my recipe. This makes 12 smallish oat cakes. You could double the quantities for larger, more substantial oat cakes.

Ingredients
100g rolled oats
150g plain flour
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
50g raw sugar or brown sugar
Zest of half an orange
125g cold unsalted butter cut into 1 cm chunks
150g creme fraiche
125g frozen blueberries

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Blitz the rolled oats in a food processor until finely ground. Mix all the dry ingredients plus the orange zest in a bowl or in a food processor. Cut in the cold butter by hand until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs, or you can continue to use a food processor on pulse, but be careful not to overwork the dough.

Quickly stir in the creme fraiche until just mixed in. Stir in the frozen blueberries.

Turn the mixture out onto a floured board, and pat into a square about 3 or 4cms thick. Rest for 5 minutes at least, even 10 minutes.

Using a 6cm cutter, cut out rounds and place onto the baking sheet. You will probably get 8 or 9 from the dough, then you will need to gather up the remains of the dough and pat together (don’t re-roll) before cutting out the last few rounds.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the rounds are brown on top. You could check after 20 minutes to see how they are coming along. Take out of the oven and wait until the oat cakes are cool before serving.

Serve on their own – they are sweet enough – or with homemade berry jam and Greek yoghurt.

Blueberry and Raspberry Mini Cakes

I’m still working on mini cake recipes, little cakes which are full of flavour and fruit, not too big, not too small. Ottolenghi has lots of recipes in his fabulous book Sweet, for little cakes he calls tea cakes, perfect served with a cup of tea! These have inspired me to keep on developing my mini cake recipes.

One of the issues I have experienced with my little cakes is the problem of cakes sticking and coming out in pieces.  I have lots of fancy molds, and I am slowly working out which molds are the best for turning out perfect cakes and also, the best way to prepare the molds beforehand.

So, I have come to the conclusion that mini bundt molds are tricky to turn out, so I am avoiding them for the moment. I also picked up some advice somewhere, I think from Ottolenghi, or maybe from Nigella, that buttering the molds and flouring them, freezing for half an hour then buttering again, gives you a pretty good chance of the cakes coming out whole.

Here are two recipes, both based on the same basic cake mixture, one for blueberry, lemon and almond cakes, and one for raspberry and almond cakes.

Blueberry, Lemon and Almond Cakes

Ingredients

65g self-raising flour

60 ground almonds

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tblsp milk

125g fresh blueberries

Lemon Icing

2 tbsp lemon juice

Enough sifted icing sugar to make a thick but spreadable icing

3 blueberries for little cake for decorating

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Butter, flour, freeze and butter again your chosen molds. I used popover molds, but muffin molds would be fine. You will get 6 cakes from the popover molds, probably 8 from the muffin molds.

Put all the ingredients except the milk  and the blueberries in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the milk while pulsing the food processor to get a mixture that is not to stiff and of dropping consistency.

Carefully fold the blueberries into the mixture with a spoon.

Spoon the mixture into the molds, making sure you don’t fill more than  3/4 of the mold.

Place the molds in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Once the cakes have cooled for about 15 minutes, carefully up end the molds and ease the cakes out of the molds.  Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, mix the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to make an icing that will drip over the cakes. Ice the little cakes, adding 3 blueberries on the top of each cake for decoration.

Raspberry and Almond Cakes

Ingredients

65g self-raising flour

60 ground almonds

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tblsp milk

3 raspberries for each cake mold

Lemon Icing

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 or 3 pureed raspberries

Enough sifted icing sugar to make a thick but spreadable icing

1 raspberry for little cake for decorating

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Butter, flour, freeze and butter again your chosen molds as for blueberry cakes.

Put all the ingredients except the milk  and the raspberries in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the milk while pulsing the food processor to get a mixture that is not to stiff and of dropping consistency.

Spoon the mixture into the molds, making sure you don’t fill more than  3/4 of the mold. Carefully pop 3 raspberries into each cake mold.

Place the molds in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Once the cakes have cooled for about 15 minutes, carefully up end the molds and ease the cakes out of the molds.  Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, mix the lemon juice and pureed raspberries with enough icing sugar to make an icing that will drip over the cakes. Ice the little cakes, adding 1 raspberry on the top of each cake for decoration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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