Wales and Welsh Cakes.

We just got back from a magical trip to Wales. The number of castles scattered wherever we went was incredible. Some in total ruins while others painstakingly preserved to the original designs. All there for people to walk around and through. Down to the deepest cellars right up to the tallest towers and turrets.

Cardiff Castle

 

Caerphilly Castle

Carreg Cennan Castle

 

The coastline is wild and magnificent, the little towns and villages unique and the people friendly, happy and sincere. Truly a wonderful place to visit.

We even had a drink in the pub where my husband’s pop was born. (Yes, he was born in the pub!) 

Breakfast in some places consisted of the usual continental and/or a cooked breakfast plus a plate piled high with moist and crumbly sugar dredged Welsh Cakes. In any bakery or cafe and there they were again and in grocery stores in packets of 6 or 8.

Honestly, you’d think we’d be well sick of them but noooo….we weren’t even nearly done with them.

We came across a little cookbook with traditional Welsh baking recipes and wouldn’t you know it….inside a Welsh Cake recipe. So naturally we had to buy it. My belief is that I will be making every one of the delightful treats in this book….and so to begin…

Welsh Cakes

225g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp allspice

Pinch of salt

230g butter -cubed

115g sugar

100g currants

1 egg  – beaten with 1 Tbls milk

castor sugar to sprinkle
Sift together the flour, baking powder, allspice and salt into a large bowl. Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir through the sugar and currants then add the egg and milk mixture and stir lightly with a butter knife until it all just comes together into a stiff dough. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 1/4 inch and then use a 5cm cookie cutter to cut into rounds.

 Heat and butter a heavy based frypan or griddle and cook the rounds for about 3 minutes on each side or until they’re golden brown.

Sprinkle with castor sugar and just you try to stop at one…


Delicious.

Enjoy…

Berry And Almond Yoghurt Cake

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It would seem I had my bake on this weekend.

After a visit to the wonderful Ramsgate Organic Markets (near Brighton-Le-Sands in Sydney) on Saturday morning, I baked 2 dozen Hot Cross Buns, then on Sunday a Berry Almond Cake and a humongous crusty Italian loaf, all of which ended up at mum and dads for our usual Sunday family feast.

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Though I didn’t end up tasting the cake I was told it was ‘the best cake ever’ so I thought I’d share…

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Berry And Almond Yoghurt Cake

150g butter – cut into cubes

155g castor sugar

2 eggs

10g vanilla extract

250g plain flour

15g baking powder

200g plain Greek style yoghurt

100g fresh blueberries

100g fresh raspberries

85g flaked almonds

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Preheat oven to 180oC. Butter a 19cm square cake tin and line with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar, using an electric beater or stand mixer, until light and fluffy. In a small bowl lightly whisk the eggs and vanilla then very slowly add to the butter mix being sure to scape down the sides a couple of times. This should take a couple of minutes, you don’t want to rush this part or the mix will split.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and add half to the butter mix along with half the yoghurt. Stir until just combined then add the rest of the flour and yoghurt and a few berries and stir until combined. Try not to over mix it.

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Spoon into baking tin and smooth the surface. Scatter with the almonds and remaining berries and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Take out of the oven and leave it to cool in the tin for 20 – 30 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve as is or with a spoonful of yoghurt.

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Enjoy…

Let’s Call it a Fruit Loaf.

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I’m a sucker for a good fruit bread.

On our recent travels down the south coast of NSW we stopped for a coffee and something to eat at the marvellous Heritage Bakery  in Milton. The array of breads and pastries and cakes was magnificent.

I limited myself to only one loaf of something and that something was a fig and cranberry sour dough bread. What a choice it was. It was one of the nicest fruit breads I’ve had in a very long time. Big juicy pieces of fig and little tart cranberries. It was perfect.

No, I haven’t got a recipe for that dreamy fruit loaf, yet…. but I’ll share when I do…

I found this recipe in Elizabeth David’s English Bread and Yeast Cookery, which is The Cookbook Guru‘s book of the month.

It’s called Northumbrian Harvest Tea Cake, but once you look at the recipe it’s just a fancy name for Fruit Loaf.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious, but these days we call it fruit loaf and here’s a simple version of the recipe.

For 1 big loaf you’ll need:-

450g bakers’ Flour

1/2 tsp salt

30g castor sugar

15g dried yeast

150g warm milk

75g warm water

60g butter – melted

1 egg – lightly beaten

40g currants

1 tsp mixed spice or nutmeg

 

In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, currants and mixed spice.

In a small bowl or jug mix the milk, water and butter together. Make sure it is still warm otherwise the yeast won’t work, then pour into the flour mix with the egg.

Mix until it comes together then tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 6 – 8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Now tip the dough back out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes then divide into three equal pieces.

Roll the pieces into a long thin sausage shapes the same length and lay them side by side. Pinch the tops together firmly then braid the lengths.

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Leave on a baking paper lined baking tray in a warm place, loosely covered, for about 40 – 45 minutes.

Bake in a hot 220oC oven for 15 minutes then I found I had to turn the loaf over and cook for another 5 minutes to cook the underside till brown.

Leave to cool for a few minutes before ripping into chunks and devouring.

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At least that’s how it went in our house…

Please Enjoy…

 

 

 

A Bloomer Loaf or Wholemeal Loaf.

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It was wonderful going for a walk this morning with my sister. The sun was warm but the air had a chill in it. Winter is most definitely here.
Time for warm comfort foods like soups and casseroles and roasts. I had some beef spare ribs in the freezer and today called for a casserole with the ribs and lots of carrots and onions and mushrooms.
The perfect accompaniment to this dish is fresh made bread. Yum.
Elizabeth David’s book English Bread and Yeast Cookery  is The Cookbook Guru‘s book of the month. How handy is that?
While the casserole is cooking away in the oven, warming up the the house – ahhh,  I set about looking for a recipe from the book for a simple loaf.
Well the recipe in the book includes lots of information and a few extra steps that could make the reader think “this is way too involved, I don’t really want to do all that.”  So I’ll use the ingredients and amounts from the book, but I’ll tell you how I made it, which was a lot more straight forward…

For 1 big loaf you’ll need:-
450g wholemeal flour
120g bakers or strong flour
15g dried yeast
20g salt
200g warm milk mixed with 200g warm water (400g total)

In a large bowl mix together the flours, salt and dried yeast. Pour in the milk and water and mix. Once all the ingredients are mixed well, tip it all out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 – 7 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave for 2 hours in a warm place.
After 2 hours tip the dough out onto the bench top and knead it for 3 – 4 minutes then put it back into the bowl, cover and leave for an hour. IMG_1254 Now, knead the dough again for 3 – 4 minutes, then shape into a short, thick loaf. IMG_1255 Loosely cover and leave to rise for about 30 minutes. With a sharp knife, make a few deep slashes across the top then sprinkle a little water. IMG_1257 Bake for 20 minutes at 230oC, then turn the heat down to 200oC and bake for another 15 – 20 minutes or until it sounds hollow when you tap it underneath.

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(If the underside is still soft, turn the bread upside down and let it cook for another 5 – 6 minutes.)

The bread turned out really fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. I think the only change I’d make to the ingredients is decreasing the amount of salt by half. It was a little too salty  but overall a great bread to go with the casserole.

Please Enjoy…

Chocolate and Ginger Cupcakes

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I think I went a little mad on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

The baking bug got a hold of me and wouldn’t let go easily.

I ended up with banana bread, choc. Ginger cupcakes, rocky road biscuits, ginger and date scones and a gluten free sponge cake with cream and jam. Madness I tell you, but oh so much fun.

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Everything ended up going to my mum and dads for Sunday lunch. What a feast.

I’m still not done baking though. Hot Cross Buns I think. Yeah I’ll be making some today.

In the meantime enjoy these lovely rich cupcakes.

For 12 cup cakes you need:-

65g butter

150g golden syrup

80g castor sugar

2 eggs

160g plain flour

10g baking powder

40g cocoa

5g bicarb.

10g ground ginger

3Tbls finely chopped glacé ginger

Chocolate Fudge Icing

70g butter

3Tbls water

80g castor sugar

180g icing sugar

3Tbls cocoa powder

To make the cake place the butter, golden syrup and sugar in a medium saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar has melted. Leave to cool about 5 minutes.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients until well combined and spoon evenly into patty lined muffin tins.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Leave to cool completely before icing.

For the icing combine the water, butter and castor sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Sift the icing sugar and cocoa together in a bowl and stir in the water and butter mixture until smooth.

Refrigerate until set.

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When you’re ready to ice your cakes simply beat the icing mixture a little to make it easier to spread.

I was feeling a little fancy so I piped the icing but spreading it on the cake is very acceptable.

These went down a treat after Sunday lunch at my mum and dads.

Enjoy…

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Homemade Lebanese Bread

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So here’s the deal. I went for my walk this morning with the idea of stopping off at the shops afterwards and picking up a couple of things for tonight’s dinner. Sounds reasonable right? I thought it was.

Three different shops I stopped at didn’t have fresh Lebanese bread though they usually do.

Home I trudge with the things I did manage to purchase and the thought that I’d just have to go back out later to the bakery two suburbs over and buy my bread. The thing is I got lazy so instead decided to make my own. That’s right….I’m never too lazy to bake.

Well I found myself a recipe and am now very pleased with myself.

What you’ll need:-

2 cups bakers flour

1 1/2 tsp dried yeast

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp sugar

1 3/4 cup warm water (not hot)

What to do with the the above ingredients:-

Put them all into a big bowl (if you’re not sure your yeast is good, blend it with the water, salt and sugar and leave it for 10 minutes until it is frothy. If it isn’t frothy, my friend, you need to buy yeast). Mix all together then knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Put in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm draft free place to prove for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. (I use the oven)

After the dough has doubled in size cut into 4 or 6 equal portions (depending on if you prefer big or small bread) and shape into balls. Drape the plastic wrap over the portions and leave to rest 20 minutes more.

Turn the oven on to the hottest it will go and make sure one of the shelves is in the middle.

Take one portion of dough at a time and roll out very thinly, 0.5mm. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 3 minutes, turn over cook 1 minute more.Image

I cooked one at a time but if you have a bigger oven than I do (which wouldn’t be hard) do more.

The best part is watching the dough puff up. Maybe that’s just me…

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Anyway… I’m very happy with how they came out. I think even mum would be…

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By the way dinner was Koussa ma’hshi, which I posted a recipe for a few months ago. Take another look.

Enjoy…