A few weeks ago we were invited to a birthday celebration (barbecue) and I decided I should bake something to take with me. Jan suggested biscuits since the biscuit baking item on my 35 before 35 wasn’t complete yet. After a quick search of the Internet, I settled on Viennese Whirls from the BBC Good Food website. It took me a while to get used to piping out the whirls and mine don’t look as neat as the ones on the recipe, but I think I did okay.
The vanilla butter cream was incredibly sweet and I was worried it would be too much but once combined with the biscuits and jam it all fit together amazingly. One girl at the barbecue liked the biscuits so much she even asked me for the recipe!
I still had loads of vanilla butter cream left – I have no idea how that was all supposed to go inside the biscuits! So a couple of days later I decided it was time to use it up. Googling “biscuits with butter cream filling recipes” eventually brought up this recipe for Coffee Kisses, which apparently is from the Great British Bake-Off cookbook. I wasn’t as keen on this recipe – I thought the bitterness of the coffee in the biscuits would counteract the sweetness of the filling but I found the filling quite overwhelming in these ones. Although they did taste better the next day so maybe the coffee flavour needed time to develop? Regardless, I think if I made this again I wouldn’t bother with the filling but instead make just the biscuits and dip them in melted dark chocolate.
I only needed to bake two more types of biscuit, so with this another item was finally crossed off my 35 before 35 list. Hooray!
One of the snacks I made for my friends on Saturday night was Pistachio and Cranberry cookies. You can find the recipe on the BBC Good Food website, so I won’t plagerize it here.
Unfortunately, I made these biscuits on Photo an Hour day, and I was so focussed on taking a photo on each hour that I was halfway through the dough-making process before I realised I should probably take photos of the biscuit-making process too. I had dirty hands by that time though, so I wasn’t able to pick up my camera until the dough was almost ready.
By the way, when you get to the part of the recipe where it says “you may not to get your hands in at this stage”, replace the word may with will! Without using hands, there is no way of making the mixture into a dough.
After refrigerating, the bottoms of my rolls were a bit flat from where they’d been sitting on the plate, which meant the biscuits I cut from them weren’t exactly round…
Here they are again after baking. I left lots of space between each one in case they decided to spread, but they didn’t much.
The finished article was very tasty. The bicuits themselves taste almost like shortbread and the mixture of cranberry and pistachio is a good one. I especially liked the ones where the pistachio was on top and had been roasted slightly in the oven. Mmmm!
That’s four types of biscuits down, six more to go.
For those who missed them, here are the previous biscuits I’ve baked for the challenge:
I know you’ve all been waiting for the biscuits post. Well… some of you have anyway. Oh, ok… maybe three of you. And you would have had it sooner if my train home hadn’t been delayed – thanks for that, Deutsche Bahn! Anyway… on with the post…
On Saturday we were invited to a WG party (a WG or Wohngemeinschaft is basically a flatshare – Wohngemeinschaft literally translates as living community). One of the items on my – as yet incompete – 35 before 35 list is to bake ten different kinds of biscuit. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone – by baking biscuits I would have something to bring along to the party and make a start on another list item. Perfect!
I chose to make Chocolate Cherry Cookies using a recipe I found on the BBC Good Food website (click the name of the cookies for the recipe… but open it in a new tab. You want to stay here after all, don’t you?).
Stupidly right up until the mixture was almost ready I managed to overlook the fact that the dough wanted to be refrigerated for 2 hours before baking. Whaaaat?! I only finished making the dough at 10pm! Now I was going to have to wait til midnight before I could even bake the first batch! Buuut, the recipe did say “2 hours or until firm”. Maybe I would get lucky?
I initially left the dough in the fridge for half an hour. At 10:30, I took the bowl out, discovered the mixture to be nowhere near firm, then decided to try my luck anyway for at least a few cookies. It’s not like I was going to run out of mixture any time soon!
The mixture was still verrrry sticky as I tried to roll balls of it in icing sugar, but I persevered long enough to get eight of them:
Into the oven went the eight raw cookies while the remaining mixture went back into the fridge. After 12 minutes (the supposed baking time), I found the cookies still rather sticky, so back into the oven they went.
At 5 past 11, experimental batch 1 came out of the oven and I decided to try for another batch. The middle of the mixture was still pretty sticky, but around the edges was firm enough, so I used that. It certainly made rolling the balls easier!
I also discovered the reason some balls had ended up so large was because the cherries inside them were large. Yes, it was a bit of a “well, duh!!” moment…
I carried on like that, putting the mixture back in the fridge as each batch was cooking and using those bits of dough that had managed to get firm in that time before eventually deciding enough was enough and going to bed. It was 1 a.m. by that time! The next morning, I was up bright and early to make a couple more batches before going out for the day. The mixture was certainly firm now… so firm that I had to use a spoon to break bits off for rolling into balls!
Ironically, after all that we ended up not even going to the party. But at least I made a start on another list item… and Jan had some yummy cookies to take to work this morning (he was supposed to take them yesterday… but he forgot). Apparantly his colleagues had been asking when I would be baking again…
I make plain old chocolate brownies all the time, so the other week I decided I wanted to experiment with some different flavours. The wonderful Pink Rachael suggested putting sour cheeries in them, and I thought the idea sounded delicious, so I gave it a try.
I basically use this recipe for chocolate brownie cake from BBC Good Food, but adapted slightly. Here’s how I made the cherry ones:
175g caster sugar
75g light brown sugar
100g plain chocolate (in Germany, use Schwarze Herren, for the UK Bournville would work)
25g dark chocolate (at least 80% cocoa)
1 tbsp Golden Syrup (in Germany, use the Karamell flavoured Grafschafter Goldsaft)
1 tsp vanilla extract/essence (For Germany: If you can’t get vanilla extract, use Vanillezucker. DO NOT use those Aroma things)
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder (or 1 tsp German baking powder – it doesn’t work as well as the stuff you get in the UK!)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
50g chocolate drops
About 30-50g sour cherries
Line a 20 cm cake tin with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas mark 4
Place the butter, chocolate, both sugars and golden syrup in a pan and melt them over a low heat until smooth and lump free
Meanwhile, place the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder in a large bowl. If your butter is unsalted, also add a pinch of salt.
Break the eggs into a bowl and beat them until they’re frothy
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the eggs and vanilla essence
Pour the liqid mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until everything is well mixed
Add the chocolate drops and stir some more
Add the cherries a few at a time, stirring after each addition. I didn’t actually weigh the amount I put in, but basically you want there to be cheeries throught the whole mixture but not have them overwhelm (there should still be some actual brownie between the cherries!)
Pour the mixture into your baking tin and bake on the middle shelf for 20-30 minutes. When it’s done, it should have formed a kind of skin on the top and spring back when you press it down. A skewer inserted into it should come back fairly clean (the brownies are fairly stickly, so a little bit of mixture sticking to the skewer is fine, but it shouldn’t actually be liquid!)
Leave to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting, otherwise the brownies will just fall apart!
And that’s it! Incredibly easy, but also incredibly tasty. Win!
Yesterday, we were invited to the post-wedding celebration barbecue of one of Jan’s colleagues (the couple actually got married almost a year ago). I was told I could bake a cake if I liked, so I decided to find something new, but fairly easy to make.
The batter was fairly easy to make. Place most of the ingredients in a bowl and stir until combind. Add the eggs and ssour cream and stir more then stir in half the blueberries, saving the other half to decorate.
After baking, the cake looked like this:
It sunk a little in the middle (should have baked it for longer!) but not too badly.
Here it is the next morning, after removal of the baking paper:
It had sunk even more and also now had a ring around it where I turned it upside down on a plate to remove the paper. Ooops! Good job there was still icing and decoration to come…
Aaah, much better! Here’s a view from the top:
I also made brownies as a back up – I know my brownies recipe always works! I even experimented this time, mixing the plain chocolate with a little orange chocolate and adding the juice of one orange. The verdict: Delicious, but I could have added slightly more orange. Jan’s colleagues have begged me to send in brownies to work with him soon , so I’ll count that as a success!
The blueberry cake tasted good – not too sweet, and it was cooked through despite the sinking in the middle issue. It didn’t disappear as quickly as the brownies, but with two entire tables of cakes to choose from that’s not really surprising! And by the end of the party, it, too, had been demolished. Success all round! Now to decide what my next brownies experiment will be. The addition of some ginger, perhaps?…
Last week, I stumbled across this blog post with a recipe for a delicious sounding roast chicken. I’d been thinking about roasting a chicken for a while, and I knew instantly that this had to be the one I tried. The only problem was all the measurements are in American, i.e. cups and sticks and things. Seriously Americans, what’s wrong with good old grams? I knew that couldn’t be the only roast chicken recipe out there to use rosemary and lemons though, so I turned to the Interwebs for help. A quick google came up with this BBC Good Food recipe that sounded quite similar, so I settled on making my own version based on a combination of those two recipes. Here’s what I did (there are no photos of the individual steps because I wasn’t planning on blogging about it. This post is borne of a sheer lack of anything else to blog about – even my search terms have been boring recently!):
One whole chicken
150 g of butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Half of a red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely
15 g of fresh rosemary, finely chopped (the BBC recipe wanted 20 g. Well, sorry BBC but fresh herbs in Germany only come as either whole plants or in 15 g packs!)
Freshly ground black pepper
Leave the butter out for a bit to soften then place it in a bowl. Add the zest of one lemon to the bowl (or both if you like. I accidently chopped one lemon in half before remembering this was supposed to be the zesting stage and I didn’t fancy grating zest off a lemon that was in half. Too messy!)
Crush 2 garlic cloves into the butter and add the chopped chilli and chopped rosemary. Comine the butter and other ingredients together.
Rub about half of the buttery-herby-lemony mix all over the chicken (yes, with your hands! And I do have to admit I felt a bit sick looking at all that butter on my chicken! Jan, on the other hand, came in, looked at it and said “Mmm, that looks good!” In case you ever doubted that men and women are different, there’s your proof. ;-)) then squeeze all the juice from one lemon over it (I used the one I hadn’t previously zested). Then grind black pepper all over the top of the chicken.
Cut the other lemon in half and stick the 2 halves inside the cavity of the chicken (the blog recipe told me to put all 4 halves up there but my chicken was only big enough for 2!)
Cover the chicken with foil and put it in the oven for half an hour on 190°C. Then remove it, get rid of some of the fat/butter mix from the bottom of the roasting pan then put the rest of the butter mixture over the chicken (this time I used a spoon – too hot for hands!)
Cover the chicken again and put it back in the oven for about 20 minutes, then uncover it and put it back in for around 20 minutes to brown, turning the oven down to about 170°C for these 20 minutes.
Once the juices are running clear and the chicken is brown on top, take it out of the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes then serve with the side dishes of your choice. We had roast potatoes, mashed potatoes and vegetables.
Here’s my chicken:
It went back in the oven after I took this to brown up some more. It never did get properly brown, but the juices were running clear so I figured it would be ok. And neither of us has been ill this week, so I obviously got lucky 😉
I bought myself a hand blender just after we came back from our New Year’s trip and I was dying to try it out, so yesterday I decided to make this Creamy curried carrot and butter bean soup from the BBC Good Food website.
I made a list of the ingredients I didn’t already have at home and headed to the shops directly from work. Once home, I logged on to the computer to print out the recipe only to find… no Internet! (I’ve since found it was a larger problem that affected 150,000 customers). I was already planning to improvise as the place I went shopping didn’t sell butter beans so I bought a tin of something calling itself “white beans” instead (they looked like haricot beans to me). I still wanted my soup – and of course to use my new blender – so I decided to make my own version, based very loosely on what I could remember of the recipe. And so I bring you my own personal Curried Carrot and Bean Soup.
For this recipe, you will need:
1 small onion, chopped
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed
Some dried chilli flakes or a fresh chilli chopped small
400g of carrots, half of them sliced, the other half grated
1 large or a few small potatoes, diced
400g tin of white beans (haricot or cannellini)
About 200 ml vegetable stock
200 ml tub of cream
(This amount served 2 of us as a main meal with plenty of bread. As a starter, it will probably do for 4-6 people)
1. Fry the onions and garlic in some oil (I used olive oil) for about a minute
2. Add the chilli flakes (or fresh chilli if you have one – I didn’t) and fry for about another minute or 2
3. Add around 1-1.5 teaspoons each of curry powder, turmeric and cumin, depending on how spicy you like it, and stir well until everything’s mixed together
4. If the spices have soaked up all the oil, put a little more in the pan then add the chopped carrots and potato and fry for about 2-3 minutes, stirring once in a while
6. Add half of the tin of beans, stir in and fry for another minute or so
5. Boil the kettle and before making the vegetable stock pour a little boiling water onto any onion/spice mixture that’s stuck to the bottom of the pan. The stuck on stuff will come off and you can stir it in. Now make up around 200 ml of vegetable stock and leave everything to simmer for about 5-7 minutes until the vegetables have softened and most of the water has gone (I grated the remaining carrots while I was waiting)
6. Blend the vegetable and stock mixture to form a puree then return the pan to the heat (if you used a real blender, obviously return the mush to the pan first) and add just enough water to make it slightly runny again, although not completely liquid (about 30ml should do it)
7. Stir the grated carrots and the rest of the beans into the mixture then gradually add the cream until it reaches the consitency you want. I used all my cream, but you might not want to
8. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper (and salt, if you like. I didn’t bother as I thought vegetable stock would be salty enough). At this point, you might want to add more of the spices (turmeric, cumin, curry powder) if the cream has taken away too much of the heat. Add some chilli powder too, if you like.
9. Heat the soup through completely, stirring frequently then serve with buttered crusty bread (or if, like me, you forgot to buy decent crusty bread, with toast…)
This ended up being a really tasty meal. I liked the way the grated carrots and non-pureed beans gave it some texture while the blended ingredients and the stock/cream gave it a soupy consistency in the background. Also, I was rather proud of myself for inventing my own soup recipe (albeit loosely based on someone else’s – looking at the Good Food recipe, it seems I didn’t actually remember much though…).