Raspberry Shortbread Sandwich Biscuits

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The Great British Bake Off has finally started again and so I thought it was about time to get back into baking myself after a super busy summer! I made these beautifully easy raspberry shortbread biscuits in preparation for biscuit week (I realise its now coming up to week 6 so apologies for taking so long to get this recipe posted) and they really do not disappoint.

I cannot emphasise enough how easy and quick they are to make, so they are perfect if you fancy something sweet but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen baking away.

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Shortbread is probably one of the simplest biscuits to make, and combined with fresh fruit and vanilla icing it really does create the perfect combination! You can use any fresh fruit you like, it doesn’t necessarily have to be raspberries – strawberries, blackberries, blueberries etc would make an equally tasty shortbread biscuit.

You can decide how big to make these depending on how big the cutters are that you’re using, I like to use fairly small ones to make them (almost) bitesize and perfect for summer or afternoon tea!

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When you’re rolling out the cookies, the chilling really does make a difference – the dough is less likely to stick to the surface and so it’ll make it 100x easier when it comes to transferring the biscuits to the baking tray. Also make sure there’s enough flour on the surface before rolling out. Alternatively you can also roll the dough out between two sheets of greased proof paper or clingfilm, this not only prevents sticking but means that you’re not adding extra flour to the dough every time you roll out another batch!

So, here’s the recipe :

Recipe

For the biscuits

250g plain white flour

200g butter (unsalted, chilled)

100g icing sugar

2 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract/ essence

For the icing

250g salted butter (softened)

400-500g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

To decorate

Fresh raspberries

Raspberry jam

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan, 350°F, gas mark 4). Line a baking tray with baking paper. 
  2. In a bowl add the butter, sifted flour and work the mixture with your finger tips to form crumbs. Make a well and add sifted icing sugar, the egg yolks and the vanilla extract. Mix the ingredients together until combined and forms into dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. 
  3. After the dough has chilled, remove from the fridge and knead for 5 minutes. Roll the dough out to 5mm thickness and using a circular cutter, stamp out the biscuit shapes. Place on the lined baking tray and chill again in the fridge for 30 minutes. 
  4. Bake the biscuits in the preheat oven for 10-12 minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack. 
  5. To make the icing, put the butter, vanilla and half of the icing sugar into a bowl and combine with an electric mixer until smooth. Slowly add the remaining icing sugar until the icing is light and fluffy, and sweet enough to not be able to taste the butter! 
  6. Place a shortbread on a serving plate, cover with jam and evenly space three raspberries on top of the jam. Pipe the icing in the spaces between the raspberries and then top with another shortbread biscuit. Repeat for the remaining shortbread biscuits and finally dust with icing sugar to finish.
  7. Enjoy !

Happy Baking x

 

Raspberry Bakewell Tart




  

Recipe

For the pastry (Recipe from Konditor and Cook)

50g caster sugar

1 egg yolk

100g salted butter

150g plain flour

For the filling

225g / 8oz unsalted butter, softened

225g / 8oz caster sugar

225g / 8oz ground almonds

3 free-range eggs

50g / 2oz plain flour

1 jar raspberry jam

1 box/ punnet fresh or frozen raspberries

flaked almonds, for sprinkling

Method

For the pastry
  1. Combine the sugar and egg yolk in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon and then add the cold cubed butter. Using the spoon or your fingers combine them together.
  2. Sift the flour into the bowl and quickly work everything into a dough, being careful not to overwork as this will result in a tough pastry.
  3. Shape into a ball/ flat slab, wrap in film and chill for 1 hour.
  4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to 3-4mm thick and use to line a 25cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 175°C/gas mark 4. Line the pastry case with aluminum foil, draping it over the edges a little and fill with baking beans or rice.
  6. Bake blind for 15 minutes then remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
  7. Lift out the foil with the beans or rice and return the pastry case to the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.
  8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool
For the filling
  1. In a separate bowl beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well after each addition. You can add a little flour to the mixture to prevent curdling.
  3. Fold in the flour and ground almonds and mix until well combined.
  4. Generously spread the raspberry jam over the base of the pastry case.
  5. Spread half of the raspberries over the raspberry jam.
  6. Fill the tart case with the frangipane batter and then top with the remaining raspberries and the flaked almonds.
  7. Bake the tart for 20 minutes, or until the filling is set and golden-brown.
  8. Allow to cool in the tin and then ‘dust’ with icing sugar just before serving.

X

S’mores Cookies

Summer is fast approaching and we’re all trying to eat better around here. There are currently only three of us in my house and we’ve been on a serious health kick.

I love food, I love healthy food, and I love vegetables. But, sometimes, a little sweet indulgence is needed to get me through those long days in the library. So, having put so much effort into eating well over the last few weeks, I thought that if I was going to give in to temptation, I’d better make it count.

I’d seen this recipe crop up a few times on Instagram on several different accounts and finally decided to give it a go. It is by far the fastest, easiest chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve ever made, and although I’m probably biased towards whatever cookie I’m holding in my hand at the moment, I think it might also be the best.

I know that everyone is very particular about their chocolate chip cookies. There are so many, many chocolate cookie recipes out there that it’s hard to figure out which one you should go for. But, I can assure you that this recipe will not disappoint.

Seriously, these cookies are an absolute game changer. They’re huge, soft, buttery, chocolatey, marshmallowy, caramelized biscuity goodness that will take your life to another level.

I’ve used the caramelized biscoff biscuits instead of the traditional grahams crackers in these cookies (mainly due to the fact that I couldn’t find any grahams crackers in my local shop), but either one will work just as well as the other.

If you have the patience, let the dough chill in the fridge overnight or at least 30 minutes before baking. It will let the flavor become deeply caramelized, and the cookies will have more color, but slightly less spread.

I prefer to use an ice cream scoop to portion out my cookie dough mainly because 1. perfectly equal sized cookies results in less dispute in the house over who gets the biggest one, and 2. it’s a lot quicker than using table spoons and then rolling the cookie dough into a ball using your hands.

Recipe

(from Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady – makes roughly 20-25 cookies)

1 cup salted butter, chopped

3 1/4 cups all purpose (plain) flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tps vanilla extract

12 ounces, semi or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

To decorate

Mini marshmallows

Galaxy chocolate bar, broken up into squares

Biscoff biscuits or grahams crackers

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees(c). Line 2 baking trays with greased proof paper.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over the lowest heat possible, stirring occasionally. Take care that the butter does not sizzle or bubble which means it’s losing moisture.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Put the butter, sugars and vanilla essence in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until just combined. Use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to stir in the dry ingredients until barely blended. When things are still looking a bit floury, stir in the chocolate until all of the ingredients are just combined.
  5. Roll the dough into balls, about 3 tablespoons each or a medium sized ice cream scoop, and arrange them on the prepared trays, leaving about 3 inches between each cookie to allow room for them to spread whilst baking.
  6. Top each cookie with marshmallows, galaxy chocolate chunks and broken up biscoff biscuits and then put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  7. Bake until the tops are cracked and lightly golden, roughly 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. You may want to add more toppings half way through the bake to ensure the whole of the cookie is covered after spreading.
  8. Once done, remove from the oven and let them cool on the tray for 2 minutes to firm up before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Cupcakes

These light and fluffy vanilla cupcakes are suitable for any occasion and a perfect recipe for anyone new to baking!

Vanilla cupcakes are something that I’ve been baking with my mum ever since I first stepped into the kitchen, they’re one of the basics and a pretty important recipe for any baker to have in their repertoire.

The recipe is pretty basic so I’d be impressed if anyone managed to go drastically wrong making these cupcakes, however, I’ve put together a few top tips to ensure that a perfect bake is achieved every time:

  1. Make sure to cream the butter and sugar for at least 5 minutes to ensure that your mixture is really pale and airy with no big lumps of hard butter.
  2. Always bake with room temperature eggs. I never refrigerate my baking eggs, so they are always ready to go.
  3. Remove the butter/ margarine from the fridge a couple of hours before baking to take the chill off it. When baking margarine and eggs that are at room temperature should combine without curdling.
  4. Remember to sift your flour – to avoid lumps of flour in your cupcake batter.
  5. Always fold your dry ingredients into the mixture, this will stop you knocking any air out of the batter.

Recipe

For the cupcakes

6oz caster sugar

6oz butter or margarine

3 eggs

60z self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla essence

For the butter icing

250g salted block butter

500g icing sugar

2 tbsp mascarpone

1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (c) and fill a cupcake or muffin tray with cases and set aside. It should make 12-16 cupcakes depending on the size of cases you use. I tend to make 12 large cupcakes using the larger muffin cases and a muffin tray.
  2. Beat the butter/ margarine, sugar and vanilla essence together in a medium bowl until light and fluffy.
  3. Gradually beat in the eggs one at a time, adding 1-2 tbsp of flour each time to avoid the mixture curdling.
  4. Fold in the remaining flour and baking powder and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
  5. Spoon in to the prepared cases and bake in the oven for around 15-20 minutes, or until they are golden brown in colour and a skewer comes out clean.*NOTE* Baking times will vary depending on your oven, so don’t be afraid to leave them in for longer or take them out earlier than I’ve recommended.
  6. Once the cupcakes are baked transfer to a wire rack to cool down before icing.
  7. To make the icing, start by cutting the block of butter into slices and microwave in a bowl for 20-30 seconds to soften (or leave out at room temperate overnight).
  8. Transfer the softened butter into a larger bowl, add then add the mascarpone, vanilla essence and  1/4 of the icing sugar. Beat well.
  9. Slowly add the rest of the icing sugar mixing well after each addition until the butter icing is pale in colour, light and fluffy. Make sure you stop the mixer halfway through creaming and using a rubber spatula scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing. *You may not need to use all of the icing sugar, just keep tasting the icing until it’s sufficiently sweet.
  10. Fit a large disposable piping bag with your favourite nozzle – I use the star shaped tip for cupcakes. Fill the piping bag with the butter icing and then pipe even swirls on the top of each cupcake.
  11. Decorate the cupcakes as you wish, the base flavour is vanilla so it’ll go with pretty much anything! I’ve chosen to top my cupcakes with strawberry sauce and fresh strawberries, but raspberries, blueberries or any other fruit would work well!

Ideas:

*Add a little cinnamon to the cake mixture and top the cupcakes with fresh blackberries.

*Top the vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing, raspberry or strawberry sauce and a flake to look like the 99 ice creams you get from ice cream vans in summer.

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies


It’s almost the end of Easter, and with exams growing ever closer I’ve turned into a bit of a hermit. I’ve resorted to alternating revision with stress relief (procrasti)baking and blogging. Your waistlines can thank me later.

Over the weekend, I developed a pretty fierce craving for rich, decadent brownies and decided that raspberry cheesecake brownies sounded even better. I’ve taken my favourite brownie recipe and adapted it by simply swirling some vanilla cheesecake mix through the batter and topping with raspberries before baking.

My base brownie recipe uses a mixture of both cocoa powder and chocolate for the ultimate richness of flavour. Although the recipe involves beating the butter and sugar until light and fluffy before adding the eggs, flour and chocolate etc… (which, to those of you familar with baking methods, makes it sound more like a recipe for a sponge than brownies) the lack of raising agents means that there is very little allowed to lighten the load here -this is pure, unalterated, chocolatey goo.

If you’re short for time you can resort to the ‘all in one’ method, which essentially involves chucking all of your ingredients into a bowl and beating thoroughly so that they are fully incorporated.  Although this will produce an equally tasty brownie, I’ve found that taking the time to beat the batter vigorously after adding the eggs helps to create a meringue like outer layer which rises as the mixture bakes forming an irresistibly crisp crust around the rich, fudgey chocolate centre.

Recipe

For the brownies:

200g good quality dark chocolate

250g block butter (salted)

300g caster sugar

60g cocoa powder

60g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 eggs + 1 egg yolk

For the cheesecake topping:

100g cream cheese

1 tbsp mascarpone

3 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

150g raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees(c), and line a 23cm x 23cm square tin with greased proof paper.
  2. Set a bowl over a pan of simmering water making sure that the bowl does not touch the water. Add the chocolate (broken into pieces) and allow to melt, stirring occasionally, and then remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Increase the speed on the mixer to high and continue to beat the mixture for a few mixture until the volume increases slightly.
  5. Fold in the melted chocolate followed by the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.
  6. In a separate bowl combine the cream cheese, mascarpone, caster sugar and vanilla essence.
  7. Spoon the brownie batter into the tin and then top with the cheesecake mixture. Using a knife or spoon swirl the cheesecake mix into the top layer of brownie batter (you may not need all of the cheesecake mix) and then top with raspberries before baking.
  8. Bake for around 30 minutes (a skewer should come out sticky, but not coated in raw mixture). When the brownies are ready remove from the oven and allow to cool (and set) before removing from tin and transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Happy baking x

Mary Berry’s Banana Bread

Don’t get me wrong, I love bananas, however once they start to turn brown I won’t touch them. I like them almost under ripe so that the fruit inside is still firm.

So, what are you meant to do with all of those bananas that you forgot about in the back of your cupboard or in your fruit bowl that are now past their best by quite some way?

For me, the answer has to be banana bread. It is utterly delicious and the natural sweetness of the fruit lends itself perfectly to baking! While it’s still not as healthy as eating bananas by themselves,  it’s at least slightly better than a cupcake smothered in copious amounts of butter icing or a deep fried, sugar coated doughnut.

When I told one of my friends that I was making banana bread they threw up a bit of a par-larva about the name. Which to be fair is understandable seeing as, strictly speaking, banana bread is more of a loaf- shaped cake.

Personally I’ve never understood the difference between banana bread and banana cake, and seeing as I can’t come up with a reasonable explanation I’m guessing that it probably isn’t all that significant! In fact, categorising it as a bread rather than a cake just legitimises it’s consumption at any time or hour of the day (i.e. making eating cake for breakfast socially acceptable), explaining why this is such a popular and successful recipe!

 

 

The great thing about banana bread is that it doesn’t matter how long they’ve been sitting in the back of your cupboard for forgotten about. In fact, in order to make the best banana bread it’s a well known fact that your bananas should be so ripe that they practically dance into the oven by themselves.

When I’m in need of a recipe quite frankly there’s only one person to turn to, and that is of course the queen of baking Mary Berry. This recipe has everything you’d want from banana bread, it’s moist, hearty and packed full of flavour!

I’ve added blueberries to the recipe but this isn’t strictly necessary, it just depends on how adventurous you are with your banana bread. Feel free to stick to the classic recipe or make your own additions such as chocolate chips, raspberries, peanut butter chips etc etc…

Mary Berry’s Banana Loaf Recipe

Ingredients

100g Softened Butter

175g Caster Sugar

2 Large Eggs

2 Ripe Bananas (mashed)

225g Self Raising Flour

1 tsp. Baking Powder

2 tbsp. Milk

150g blueberries

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / Fan 160C / Gas 4.
  2. Lightly grease a 2lb loaf tin, then line the base and sides with greased proof paper.
  3. Measure all ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat for about 2 minutes, until well blended.
  4. Fold in the blueberries.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface. At this point you can sprinkle a few oats on top before baking.
  6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 1 hour, until well risen and golden brown. A fine skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean if the loaf is ready.
  7. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out, peel of the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Happy Baking! x

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes

I love pancakes. Whether they’re they thick american style ones, the classic crepe, covered in chocolate or smothered in maple syrup. These fluffy, light, blueberry filled beauties are no exception.

This recipe has to be my all time favourite (of course this may well change as I experiment and try out new recipes, however, for the time being this one tops the rest by a long way). It’s quick, easy and makes big, thick, fluffy pancakes! I honestly cannot emphasize enough how easy it is to make pancakes from scratch! Buying the ingredients also works out a lot cheaper than those naff packet mixes, and besides, they always taste ten times as good when you’ve made them yourself.

I usually only make pancakes once a year on the infamous pancake day, however having woken up to a torrential downpour outside I thought breakfast called for something a bit heartier than your standard granola and yoghurt or scrambled eggs on toast.

The basic recipe is pretty versatile. You can eat them with maple syrup, ice cream, nutella, fruit, lemon and sugar, and the list goes on…  I top them with a homemade blueberry sauce that comes together in less than 10 minutes with just a few staple ingredients. It’s delicious and can be eaten with anything like pancakes and waffles or stirred into greek yoghurt or ice cream!

The key to making fluffy, thick pancakes is to keep the batter thick. It should barely spread when you scoop it onto the pan. The next tip that I cannot underline enough is to keep the frying pan on the low side of medium. You also have to be patient and wait for bubbles to appear on the surface of the batter before flipping them over (difficult I know, but they’re worth the wait, trust me). Once you’ve flipped your pancake, it cooks much faster on the other side, just a minute or two.

I’d recommend using a non-stick pan as it’ll make your life a lot easier, however it’s not absolutely necessary. The key is to use a little butter or oil to grease the pan before the first batch, the first few are more likely to stick however DO NOT PANIC, this just means you’ll have to eat a few before any of your housemates even realise that you’re making pancakes!

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Recipe

For the pancakes:

2 cups self raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup caster sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups milk

2 tbsp butter (melted)

2 tsp vanilla essence

  1. Mix together all of the dry ingredients and then add egg, milk, butter and vanilla.
  2. Whisk well until all ingredients are incorporated and there are very few/no lumps in the mixture. At this point add any additional ingredients you’d like in your pancakes (for example blueberries, chocolate chips, lemon zest etc…)
  3. Heat frying pan to a medium heat and pour in the batter. I tend to use a small ladle, or 3 to 4 tbsp for each pancake.
  4. Flip the pancakes once bubbles appear on the surface. Once flipped they will only take a minute or two to finish cooking.

*The batter can be made up to a day or two in advance, just cover the bowl with cling film and leave in the fridge*

For the blueberry sauce:

2 cups blueberries

1/4 cup water

3 tbsp honey or sugar

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the blueberries, water and sugar or honey. Stir frequently, and bring to a low boil.
  2. Simmer until the blueberry sauce is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  3. Remove from heat and serve.