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Totally Orange Chelsea Buns

We all love Chelsea buns, myself included. I’ve made a lot! I’ve posted a couple of versions here and also here.

Yesterday I made sourdough and had left over sourdough starter. It is always a dilemma – what to do with your sourdough starter discard.

So I made Chelsea buns, using the left over starter, and a little commercial yeast as well. But you could totally make these buns using just yeast – we don’t all have a sourdough starter on hand! Add 7g yeast and up the milk to 150g.

These Chelseas are heavily flavoured with orange, in the dough and in the filling – juice, zest and candied orange. And some orange liqueur as well!

Very orange and delicious.

Ingredients

Dough

400g strong flour

125g sourdough starter discard

3g yeast

8g salt

50g caster sugar

2 free range eggs, at room temperature

100g tepid milk

Zest and juice of half an orange*

50g unsalted butter

Filling

50g sour cherries

50g cranberries

50g sultanas

50mls orange liqueur

50g very soft butter

50g golden caster sugar or raw sugar

100g marzipan

1 tablespoon finely chopped candied orange

Golden Syrup Glaze

2 tablespoons golden syrup heated to use as glaze

Orange Icing

Juice of 1/4 orange

100g icing sugar or enough icing sugar to make a dripping icing

* a blood orange if you can get it

Method

Put all the dough ingredients except the butter into the bowl of an electric mixer such as a KitchenAid. Mix with a dough whisk or wooden spoon to a rough dough, cover and leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.

Knead the dough using the dough hook of the electric mixer for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Add the 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 dough is smooth, soft and windowpanes.

Cover the dough with cling wrap or plastic shower cap and leave to prove somewhere warm for 2-3 hours. The dough should have risen, if not quite doubled in size.

Line a large baking tin with baking paper. I used a 24cm round spring form tin, but you could equally use a rectangular 22cm x 23cm (9 inch x 13 inch) tin.

Remove the proven dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured board. Using floured hands, gently stretch the dough to a large rough rectangle.

For the filling, soak the sour cherries, cranberries and sultanas in the liqueur for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Spread the very soft butter all over the dough rectangle. Sprinkle the sugar over the butter. Scatter the chopped marzipan, chopped candied orange and then the dried fruit over the dough.

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

Cut the long roll into 12 even pieces. Place the pieces into the baking tin, cut side up, packing them in snugly together. If using a round tin, make a ring of buns in the tin and then put the remaining buns in the centre.

Put the tin into a large plastic bag to prove. Place into the fridge overnight or for 8-12 hours.

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

Take the tin out of the plastic bag and place the buns in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the tops of the buns are golden brown but not burnt.

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

When cool, remove the buns from the tin, peeling off the baking paper.

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

Once the buns are quite cool, drizzle the orange icing over the tops of the buns.

Best eaten on the day!

Easter Simnel Cake

Simnel cake is traditionally made for Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent. Mothering Sunday in the UK is what we call Mother’s Day here in Australia, except we mark this day in May. A bit confusing!

I’ve been very interested in the Simnel cake, what it’s made of and its history. It’s a light fruitcake with two layers of marzipan, one layer baked in the centre of the cake, and one layer placed on top of the cake. The cake is adorned with eleven balls of marzipan, representing Jesus’ Apostles, minus Judas Iscariot. This last reference reminds us that this is an Easter cake, and can also be eaten during the Easter period and on Easter Day.

So I decided to make a Simnel cake for Mothering Sunday this Easter, Sunday 14 March. I have read many recipes for the cake, and eventually decided to adapt a recipe from the Hairy Bikers. I made a few changes to create my version of the cake. Whatever way you look at it, there are not that many ways you can make a Simnel cake – actually there is pretty much only the one basic recipe with a few adaptations! The link to the Hairy Bikers original recipe is here.

My version is baked in a slightly bigger tin than most recipes specify. I wanted a cake with a bigger diameter to serve more people. I used quite a lot of marzipan in order to get good coverage on the cake. I also went with blow torching the cake rather then putting it under a grill, as this was so much easier and you can control the heat source.

Ingredients

Marzipan

335 icing sugar

260g caster sugar

525g ground almonds

3 large free-range eggs

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons apricot jam (to stick the marzipan onto the cake)

Fruit cake

Juice and zest of an orange

Juice and zest of a lemon

500g sultanas, raisins and currants, in any mix you prefer

150g glacé cherries

225g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon each of nutmeg, ginger, allspice – any or all of these are fine, use what you prefer

3 large free-range eggs

175g soft butter

175g brown sugar

Method

Make the marzipan first, as this needs to rest for an hour or so before it goes into the cake.

Sift the icing sugar and caster sugar into a large bowl, and then mix through the ground almonds.

Beat the eggs with the almond extract and lemon juice in a separate bowl. Stir into the dry ingredients with a large spoon or spatula to make a rough dough. Use your hands to continue to turn the mixture into a dough that is able to be rolled out.

Put some icing sugar onto a work surface – bench top or ideally a large wooden board. Knead the marzipan for a couple of minutes until it’s a smooth dough.

Put the marzipan dough into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave for at least an hour, preferably two, to allow the ground almonds to swell and absorb some of the moisture from the eggs.

For the cake, put the orange and the lemon juice in a small saucepan and add the dried fruit and cherries. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat and heat for two minutes, stirring until the liquid disappears. Be careful not to burn the fruit by cooking it dry. Remove from the heat and leave to completely cool. Putting the fruit into a bowl and sticking it in the fridge can speed things up if you’re short on time.

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C non fan forced, or 140 degrees fan forced.

Grease a 22cm spring form pan and line the base with two layers of baking paper.

Put the flour and spices in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs in a smaller bowl.

Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer such as a KitchenAid until light and fluffy and well mixed. Make sure all the mixture, even at the bottom of the bowl, is well incorporated.

Add the whisked eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. To stop the mixture curdling – this can easily happen when adding eggs to butter and sugar – mix in a tablespoon of flour after each egg addition.

Gently fold in the flour to the rest of the mixture by hand. Stir in the dried fruit and the orange and lemon zest. Spoon half of the mixture into the springform tin, trying to get a smooth surface.

Working with marzipan. Divide the marzipan into three equal balls. Weighing them is probably the best way to do this. Wrap two of the balls in plastic wrap to prevent them drying out.

Place a large length of baking paper on your work surface and dust with icing sugar. Put the remaining ball ono the baking paper and cover with another length. Roll the ball into a circle that’s bigger than the springform tin. You can check this by putting the cake tin on top of the rolled marzipan and making sure the marzipan is 1-2 cms bigger than the tin.

Now peel the top layer of baking paper off the marzipan and put the marzipan circle carefully on top of the cake mixture in the tin, then peel off the remaining base paper.

Put the rest of the cake mixture on top of the marzipan and smooth the surface.

Place the springform tin into the preheated oven and bake for about approximately 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden-brown, and a skewer inserted into,the cake comes out clean. If the cake is browning quickly but is obviously not cooked, cover the top with some aluminium foil.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin for 15 minutes. Then remove from the tin, peel off the lining paper, put the cake on a wire rack and leave to completely cool.

Marzipan topping. This cake is best decorated using the bottom of the cake as its flatter. Turn the cake upside down and put onto a plate or board to allow you to decorate.

Place a length of baking paper onto the work surface with more icing sugar. Put one of the marzipan balls onto the paper and cover with another piece of baking paper. As before, roll the ball into a circle that’s bigger than the springform tin. You can check this by putting the cake tin on top of the rolled marzipan and making sure the marzipan is 1-2 cms bigger than the tin.

Heat the apricot jam in a microwave on low, or in a small saucepan on low heat for a couple of minutes.

Brush the surface of the cake with the warm jam and cover with the marzipan circle. The circle should just hang over the edge of the cake. Press the marzipan gently onto the cake, easing out any lumps. You can neaten up any overhang that’s too long with a sharp knife.

Now take the remaining marzipan and roll it into eleven balls to represent the Apostles. Weigh the balls to make them uniform – 20g for small balls or 25g for bigger ones. In either case you will have marzipan left over – always welcome as a sweet treat.

Dip each ball into the warmed apricot jam. Position them round the outside of the cake.

Now for the fun part – get out your cook’s blowtorch and lightly scorch the marzipan topping and balls! Be careful not to overdo it. If you haven’t got a blowtorch, put the cake under the grill for a couple of minutes until scorched but not burnt.

Place the cake onto a serving plate or board. Put a yellow ribbon – traditional – around the cake. I went for a green ribbon, with its associations of the renewal of life, appropriate for the Easter season.

Stollen for New Year’s Day

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Friends and family were doing a lot of baking over Christmas and New Year. There were lots of lovely seasonal offerings as  well as well some new innovative dishes. A great Asian inspired duck salad springs to mind from Doctor Rosemary – and will feature soon on this blog.

This blogger is very keen on any form of baking which involves yeast. Bread, brioche, Danish pastries, croissants, I love making them all. I haven’t tried making stollen yet and find the store bought version rather sweet and stodgy.

This festive season friend and colleague Ruth L made stollen for New Year’s Day 2016 and I am very pleased to present her recipe and her lovely photos.

Wikipedia says: ” Stollen is a cake like fruit bread made with yeast, water and flour, and usually with zest added to the dough. Candied orange peel and candied citrus peel, raisins and almonds and different spices such as cardamom and cinnamon are added. Other ingredients, such as milk, sugar, butter, salt, rum, eggs, vanilla, other dried fruits and nuts and marzipan may also be added to the dough. The finished bread is sprinkled with icing sugar.”

Here is Ruth’s Stollen:

Ingredients
200g
 sultanas, currants
110g cherries, and citrus peel
110g
 dried cranberries
125ml
 dark rum

2 x 7g
 sachets dried yeast
75g
 sugar
185ml
 warm milk
350g
 plain wholemeal flour
150g
 plain flour
1½tsp
 ground cinnamon
½ tsp
 ground ginger
1 
 large free-range egg, lightly beaten
200g
 butter
1 orange, zested
1
 lemon, zested
250g homemade marzipan*

100g melted butter
50g icing sugar
50g flaked almonds to decorate

Method

Combine all dried fruits, and rum in a cover bowl to soak for at least 24 hours.

To make dough, combine yeast, 1 tbsp caster sugar and milk in a small bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes or until mixture bubbles.

When ready mix flour, remaining 55 g caster sugar, spices, 200 g butter, egg and the yeast mixture until mixture just starts to come together. This should be knead into a smooth and elastic dough it could take 20 minutes by hand or 7 minutes in a machine with a dough hook. Place in a greased bowl, cover and set aside in a warm place for 1½ hours or until dough doubles in size.

Knock back, stir in the soaked dried fruit(don’t add the left over rum if you think it will make the mixture to wet) as well as the orange and lemon zests into the dough. Knead until just combined. Place back in a greased bowl, cover and set aside in a warm place for a further 1 hour or until dough doubles in size.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 2. Roll each portion out to a 30cm x 22 cm rectangle. Divide the marzipan in half and roll each piece into a 25cm log. Place each piece in the centre of each rectangle and roll up dough to enclose the marzipan.

Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper, cover and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until slightly risen.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, bake until loaves are golden brown approx 40 mins. From the oven brush with the 100g of melted butter and cover with icing sugar press in a handful of flaked almonds to each loaf.

Cool completely then wrap each stollen in plastic or store in an airtight container for 2 days before eating.

*Marzipan recipe

Ingredients

90g caster sugar
140g icing sugar
220g ground almonds
1 orange
1 free-range egg

Method

Mix the caster sugar, icing sugar and ground almonds together in a large bowl, then stir in the orange zest and beaten egg and mix again until the ingredients are well combined and have come together as a thick paste.

Turn out the paste onto a work surface lightly dusted with icing sugar, then knead until smooth. Roll the marzipan into a ball, then wrap in cling film and chill until needed.

 

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Christmas Cake

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This is the recipe for my family’s Christmas cake. I’ve been making it for a number of years and my mother made it for many years before I started making it – it’s been in the family a very long time.

It’s a traditional English Christmas cake, with marzipan or almond icing covered with royal icing. Our version is full of glacé fruit as well as dried fruit. We don’t make the cake very far ahead and we don’t soak the fruit in the alcohol – but doing either of these things is fine if that’s what you’re used to.  The cake has always been sensational without that forward planning.

It sometimes seems incongruous to be making this most traditional of northern hemisphere cakes in the hot summer days of Christmas week in Sydney. The weather is always lovely and the sun shines as I decorate the cake with its “snowy” icing. Making the cake in summer means that the almond paste icing dries quickly and sometimes if pushed for time I can do both icings in one day. However letting the cake rest for a day before you apply the royal icing is recommended.

Over the years of making I have tweaked the basic recipe, adding in things I love. I tend to put more glacé fruit in the mix; I love ginger so it appears in both crystallized form and as a spice in my cake.  I don’t stick to whisky and brandy for alcohol – I often add Grand Marnier and I have sometimes put a couple of tablespoons of Pedro Ximinez sherry as well as whisky into the cake.

This the “mother” of the baby Christmas cakes already featured on this blog – I give the muffin sized cakes to work colleagues every year as little  Christmas gifts.

It’s a VERY big cake. I actually halve the recipe and still end up with a decent sized cake, but if you have a cast of thousands to feed, the big size is the one for you.

Helpfully to save you the calculations I am including the quantities for the halved version!

The photos are of the halved version plus I got enough out of the mixture to make a little one too.

The recipe is SO versatile  – you can make so many different sizes.

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Big Cake Ingredients


500 gms butter
500 gms brown sugar
625 gms plain flour
750 gms raisins
750 gms sultanas
250 gms glace cherries
125 gms glace peaches
125 gms glace pears
250 gms glace apricots
125 gms glace pineapple
125 gms crystallized ginger
125 gms mixed peel (optional)
12 large eggs
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons almond essence
1 teaspoon glycerine
Juice of an orange
Finely grated peel of the orange
1/2 cup of good brandy/whisky – extra 1/2 cup of brandy/whisky to pour over the hot cake when it comes out of the oven.

Medium Cake Ingredients

250 gms butter
250 gms brown sugar
315 gms plain flour
375 gms raisins
375 gms sultanas
125 gms  glacé cherries
65 gms glacé peaches
65 gms glacé pears
125 gms glacé apricots
65 gms glacé pineapple
65 gms crystallised ginger
65 gms mixed peel (optional)
6 large free range eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond essence
1/2 tsp glycerine
Juice of half an orange
Finely grated peel of half an orange
1/4 cup of good brandy/whisky – extra 1/4 cup of brandy/whisky to pour over the hot cake when it comes out of the oven.

Method for both sizes
Grease a cake tin and line with baking paper or aluminum foil. I use a 28cm or 11″ square tin  or a 28cm or 11″ diameter round tin for the big cake. For the medium cake I use a 18cm or 7″ square tin  or a 18cm or 7″ diameter round tin. You may end up with left over mixture with this size, so you could go up a size. I like a high cake and this cake doesn’t rise so you can fill the smaller tins fairly full.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C then turn back to 135 degrees C.  The principle of cooking a rich fruitcake is to put the cake into a preheated oven and cook very slowly. This size cake does take a long time!
The original recipe says to mix by hand in a large basin. This was lots of fun when we were growing up making the family Christmas cake but now I suggest using an electric mixer.
Cream butter and sugar and beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the sifted flour lightly. Stir in spices, essences, glycerine, fruit juice and brandy/whisky, and finally stir in the fruit the larger varieties of which have previously been cut roughly. There is no need to wash the fruit. If the fruit is wet it tends to sink to the bottom of the cake.
Bake about 3 – 4 hours (big cake) 1- 2 hours (medium cake) or until the top is pale brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the cake.  It’s a little hard to be more precise than this as the weather, the quality of the flour and individual ovens have a lot to do with cooking time. You can put a piece of foil over the top of the cake during the last hour of cooking if the cake browns too quickly.
When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and pierce all over with a skewer. Pour 1/2 a cup of brandy/whisky over the hot cake and wrap in a towel till cool.
Turn out of the tin onto a board or large flat plate.

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Almond Icing

Big Cake
500 gms ground almonds
750 gms icing sugar
2 egg whites
Juice of a lemon

Medium Cake
250 gms ground almonds
375 gms icing sugar
1 egg white
Juice of  1/2  lemon

Mix all the ingredients to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough into sections – one large ball for the top of the cake, the rest for the sides of the cake.
Brush the cake with apricot jam which will help the almond paste to stick. Let the cake rest for a day.

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Royal Icing
 for both cakes

The original recipe says :”2 eggs whites and the juice of a lemon to every pound of icing sugar”. This doesn’t tell you how much of these ingredients you will need.

Having just made the medium cake, it took all of the above quantities, so the big cake would need more. Make up the base recipe and if it isn’t enough – make some more – use your judgement!

2 egg whites
500 gms icing sugar
Juice of a lemon

Beat eggs lightly, add icing sugar and lemon juice.
Apply to cake with a palette knife. Be generous with this icing, to create a “snowy” effect.
Leave to set for at least a couple of hours.
The cake keeps well –  up to a year – although it is at its best when eaten within 3 months.

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Little Christmas Cakes

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These Christmas treats are miniatures of a large Christmas cake made up as cup cakes. The recipe is based on a traditional  Christmas cake, a family recipe, soon to appear on this blog. The quantities in the “big” cake are doubled.

Ingredients

250 gms butter
250 gms brown sugar
315 gms plain flour
375 gms raisins
375 gms sultanas
125 gms glace cherries
65 gms glace peaches
65 gms glace pears
125 gms glace apricots
65 gms glace pineapple
65 gms crystallised ginger
65 gms mixed peel (optional)
6 large free range eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1tsp ginger
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond essence
1 tsp glycerine
Juice of half an orange
Finely grated peel of half an orange
1/4 cup of good brandy/whisky – extra 1/4 cup of brandy/whisky to pour over the hot cake when it comes out of the oven.

Method

Grease two 12 hole muffin pans or place cup cake paper cases in each hole. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
In a food processor or electric mixer, cream butter and sugar and beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the sifted flour lightly. Stir in spices, essences, glycerine, fruit juice and brandy/whisky, and finally stir in the fruit, the larger varieties of which have previously been cut up roughly.
Turn back oven temperature to 135 degrees C. Bake about 15-20 minutes or until the little cakes are pale brown on top and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the cakes.
When the cakes are cooked, remove from the oven and pierce each all over with a skewer. Pour the 1/4 cup of brandy/whisky over the hot cakes.
Remove from muffin pans when cool.

You can leave these little Christmas cakes un-iced or put a dollop of royal icing on the top of each one.  When making the traditional full size version of this Christmas cake, a layer of almond or marzipan paste is applied first before the royal icing.
However a little royal icing is sufficient to jazz up these cakes!

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Royal Icing

Beat 1 egg white lightly, add 250 gms icing sugar and the juice of half a lemon.
Apply a swirl of icing to each cake, to create a “snowy” effect.

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