Sunday, 21 August 2011

Jam Doughnut Cupcakes


With my thesis submission date looming combined with holiday planning - I've hardly had the time to cook or bake, let alone update my lovely blogspace.

I stumbled upon this recipe whilst browsing lazily in Waterstones one afternoon and its been stuck in my head since. Jam doughnuts disguised as a cupcake? How very intriguing.

I had a friend over for Saturday lunch and this was the perfect opportunity to try this recipe. It was a breeze to put together as its one of those, one bowl type of recipes. Just bung everything into a bowl, mix and voila - perfect cupcake batter!

This resulted in a fabulously soft, moist, delicious doughnut-like texture filled with a huge dollop of strawberry jam. The sugar coating just added a touch of brilliance to this perfect piece of cake. It really felt as though you were eating a freshly baked doughnut in the form of a cupcake!



If you don't like jam, I'm sure you could easily substitute it for melted chocolate, peanut butter or perhaps lemon curd. Oh the possibilities are endless!

Jam Doughnut Cupcakes

Adapted from BBC Good Food Magazine


Yields 12 cupcakes


Ingredients 


200 grams butter, softened plus 3 tbsp melted
200 grams sugar, plus 2 tbsp
2 eggs plus 1 yolk
300 grams self raising flour
100 ml milk
1/2 tsp baking powder
12 tsp strawberry jam 


Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180'C. Tip the softened butter, sugar, eggs and egg yolk, milk, baking powder and flour into a bowl.
  2. Beat together until it forms a smooth, soft batter. This may take a while especially if the butter is not entirely softened.
  3. Line a 12-hole pan with cupcake liners and fill the cases 2/3 full with batter. Make a small dip in the batter, with the back of a spoon, and fill it with a dollop of jam/sauce/curd of your choice.
  4. Top with remaining batter, ensuring all jam/sauce/curd is fully covered.
  5. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until cupcake has risen, and cooked through.
  6. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes then brush each cupcake with the melted butter and sprinkle or roll each cupcake in the remainder sugar.





Thursday, 11 August 2011

Mint Chocolate Brownies

Whoever invented the combination of mint and chocolate was an absolute genius!

Mint chocolate ice cream has been my favourite flavour ever since I can remember with pistachio flavoured ice cream coming a close second, and my third favourite flavour has to be green tea..Hmm i sense a pattern here. Or maybe I've got some green ice cream OCD going on?

I digress.

So mint chocolate works well as an ice cream flavour. The question is does it work well when combined with fudgy decadent brownies? Oh yes.

Chocolatey brownies topped with minty frosting topped with a dark chocolate layer - If this sounds like heaven, carry on reading. If not I suggest you adjust your taste buds and try again for you are missing out on some seriously good stuff!

The brownie recipe I used is my all time favourite Browned Butter Brownies one which can be found here.

Once you've got the hard baking bit done, the rest is a literally a piece of cake (or brownie..)


Mint Chocolate Brownies
 
Ingredients

Mint frosting

60g butter, room temperature
250grams icing sugar
3 tablespoon double cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons mint extract
Food colouring 

Chocolate topping
100g dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon butter

Method

  1. Beat butter, icing sugar, salt and cream until all ingredients are incorporated. Add the mint extract, a few drops at a time, until desired minty-ness is acquired.
  2. To obtain the vibrant minty green, I used a mix of blue and yellow food colouring, again a few drops at a time. I had a brilliant time mixing colours - reminded me a bit of art class in primary school many moons ago!
  3. If the consistency is slightly runny, pop the icing into the fridge for a few minutes. Meanwhile, melt chocolate and butter using the bain marie technique. Leave to cool for a 5 minutes.
  4. Frost the cooled brownies and top with chocolate topping. Ideally the topping needs to be left for an hour to set but I popped it into the freezer for about 15 minutes and the chocolate harden up fine.
  5. These brownies keep up to a week in the fridge, remaining moist and tasty!





Thursday, 4 August 2011

OMG I made Bagels!


So as the title suggests, I made BAGELS! I was browsing through Foodgawker as I had a moment to spare (like we all do..) trying to plan my cooking/baking adventures for the weekend when I thought “hey! Why don’t I make bagels!” Before I could even justify that thought, my mind was already spinning thinking of the various flavours and toppings I could incorporate to imaginary bagels!

A quick search on the interweb resulted in various recipes, each calling for different ingredients and cooking times. I decided to stick with Brown Eyed Baker’s adaptation of Peter Reinhart’s recipe, as she had such detailed instructions there was no way I could go wrong. Or could I?

I kid. The bagels turned out perfect! It had perfect texture, soft but not too soft and chewy but not so chewy you could break your jaw trying to munch through a mouthful of bagel.

It was so yummy that it only needed with a thin spread of butter before being devoured.

Unfortunately there are no pictures of the process because I wasn’t sure if my first attempt would turn out and  I was being lazy! (In my defense, it was the weekend!) Also, it gives me an excuse to whip up another batch asap!

As the whole process was a bit of an experiment, I topped a few bagels with sesame seeds, some I left plain, a few more with rock salt and some with chilli flakes. I have to say my favourites had to be the ones topped with rock salt and sesame seeds. The chilli flakes burnt far too quickly which left it with a slightly unpleasent   bitter aftertaste.


Bagels 

Slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker


Yields 12 large bagels

Ingredients


There are three parts to the bagel dough. The sponge, dough and the finishing bit.


Sponge:

1 teaspoon instant yeast

4 cups strong bread flour

2.5 cups water, room temperature


Dough:

½ teaspoon yeast

3 cups strong bread flour

2 ¾ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon brown sugar


To finish:

1 tablespoon baking powder

Cornmeal or semolina flour, for dusting

Toppings of your choice. I used rock salt, sesame seeds and chilli flakes


Method
  1. Start off by making the sponge. To do that, stir in yeast to the flour in the largest bowl you own. Add the water to the flour mixture, whisking continuously until it takes the form of thick pancake batter. Cover the bowl with cling wrap, and leave to rest in room temperature for approximately two hours. After two hours of resting, the mixture takes on a foamy and bubbly texture. It should also have swelled to almost double its original size.
  2. To make the dough, in the same bowl, add the additional yeast to the sponge and mix well. Next add the bread flour, sugar and salt, a little at a time, until the mixture is fully incorporated with the sponge. Keep stirring up the mixture forms a ball. If the dough is too tacky and sticky, continue to add flour until it is no longer tacky.
  3. Remove from the bowl and start kneading it for at least 10 minutes, until it starts to take on a smooth appearance. If you have a bread maker, the kneading process should take you half the time.
  4. According the original recipe, the dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough but still pliable and smooth.
  5. Immediately divide the dough into rolls, half the size of tennis ball or more specifically 4.5 ounces per roll.
  6. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  7. In the mean time, line baking tray with parchment paper and coat with a light layer of vegetable oil. The recipe calls for spray oil, but me being skint, I refused to splash out on such luxuries. Either way, coating parchment paper the old school way worked fine.
  8. Now it’s time to shape the bagels! Place a roll in your palm and stretch it out till it resembles a bagel. Put your thumb through the middle to make a hole, and continue stretching and shaping the roll. The hole in the middle should ideally be about 1.5 inches in diameter.
  9. If my explanation is a bit blah and vague, here is another technique which which demonstrates how to make a perfectly formed bagel.
  10. Place each shaped bagel 2 inches apart from each other on the baking tray and top with a light coating of oil. 
  11. Cover with cling film and set aside for another 20 minutes.
  12. Uncooked bagels need to be left in the refrigerator overnight to rest and to ascertain whether they are ready to be rested, you will need to conduct the ‘floating’ test. Basically all you need is a bowl that is filled with room-temperature water. After the bagels have rested for 20 minutes, remove one and drop it into the bowl. 
  13. If the bagel floats on to the surface within 10 seconds, you have bagels ready to be rested in the refrigerator. 
  14. If not, remove the tester, and let the bagels rest for another 10 minutes. Continue this process until your tester bagel floats.
  15. The following day, preheat the oven to 250°C.  Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the baking soda. 
  16. Enjoy the fizz and bubbles!
  17. Remove the bagels from the fridge and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as can comfortably fit in the pot. Flip them over after a minute, or longer if you prefer chewy bagels. In hindsight, the next time I may reduce the boiling time for each side to 40 secs.
  18. Once boiled, remove from pot and place bagels back onto the baking trays. If you want to top the bagels, now is the time.
  19. Place bagels in the oven for 5 minutes, and then rotate the tray by 180°C. After the rotation, let the bagels bake for an extra 7 minutes, or until they take on a light golden colour.
  20. Remove from oven and let cool.