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…

Advertisements

Gluten Free Shortbread Biscuits with Currants.

IMG_1393

My sister gave me some bags of different kinds of gluten free flours a while ago and while I’ve been experimenting with them I haven’t been blogging what I’ve come up with.

I woke on Friday morning with the urge to make shortbread biscuits and remembered the Banana Flour I was given and decided it was time to make a G.F.  recipe and post it.

So here we are. The biscuits are long gone but it’s time to transfer the recipe from a post it note to a blog post…

This was the first trial of these biscuits and while they are really good, I didn’t get a big enough hit of the banana flour so next time I’ll be trying a little more banana flour and a little less g.f. plain flour. Of course you could omit the the banana flour all together and just put in 150g g.f. flour and you’ll get a lovely buttery shortbread biscuit.

You’ll need:

100g Gluten Free Plain Flour (I use Orgran brand)

50g banana flour

65g almond meal

1 tsp xanthum gum

30g gluten free corn flour (I use Whitewings)

90g castor sugar

150g salted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

30g  dried currants

Here’s the hard part:

Put all the ingredients, except the currants, into the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment and turn the mixer on to low speed to begin with so that everything doesn’t fly out of the bowl and all over the kitchen.  After a couple of minutes increase the speed a couple of notches and let it mix until it almost forms a ball. At this stage throw in the currants and continue to mix until it all comes together and forms a kind of ball.

Roll the dough into a long sausage (about 35 – 40 cm long), wrap it in a sheet of baking paper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. IMG_1355

When the dough is chilled and firm slice into rounds just under 1 cm thick, place on a baking paper lined baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated 1650C oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until very lightly browned on the edges.

IMG_1357

I actually sprinkled a little cinnamon sugar over a few of them before baking to see how they’d turn out. The cinnamon gives it a great lift but that’s just me playing with my recipes again.

Leave to cool on the tray while you grab a cup of tea or coffee.

IMG_1394

The great thing about this recipe is that you can keep the uncooked dough wrapped in plastic wrap for up to a month in the fridge and just cut off and cook as many slices as you need. A constant supply of fresh baked biscuits.

I packed a couple dozen of these in a bag for my sister Jacky (who is a Ceoliac), and delivered them to her at work with a cup of coffee. She loved them. Good deed done…

Enjoy…

Let’s Call it a Fruit Loaf.

Image

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.

ImageImage

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.

IMG_1274

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

Please Enjoy…

 

 

 

Chelsea Buns

I love working with yeast. Mixing and kneading and shaping. The way the dough feels in my hands. It’s very therapeutic. And don’t get me started on the smell of baking bread. It fills the whole house with calm and warmth.
Once you have your basic bread recipe you can do so much with it. Adding different flavourings and seeds or herbs.
I still haven’t gotten into the sourdough side of things though. A baker friend told me how to get a starter dough going, how to feed it and use it but it just didn’t work for me. Perhaps I’ll try again some day. In fact, I definitely will.
In the mean time, I’ve been going through this months The Cookbook Guru‘s book of choice – Elizabeth David‘s English Bread and Yeast Cookery. There are lots of recipes that take my interest in this book and because there is lots of bread already floating around the house at the moment, I thought I’d start with something sweet.
Chelsea Buns are something I have loved for as long as I can remember so why not take this opportunity to try my hand at making them?

First batch didn’t work out too brilliantly. I had a hard time getting the dough to rise the first time, so I gave up and put it in the fridge (it was getting pretty late in the evening by the time I did give up though) The next morning I took it out and left it on the bench for an hour to come to room temperature.

It’s winter here and our place seems to get really cold so that probably didn’t help with the proving. Anyway, I gave the dough another knead and continued with the recipe. The second prove worked better and the final product turned out okay except I over cooked them.

IMG_1237

Oops. My bad.

Sooooo…

After distributing my near failed first batch of Chelsea Buns to my family I started another batch….

 

To make 12 Chelsea Buns I used:-

Dough:-

275g bakers flour

3g salt

20g castor sugar

115g butter cut into small cubes

80g milk

8g dried yeast

1 egg

Filling:-

40g butter – softened

40g brown sugar

5g mixed spice

50g currants

In a small bowl mix together the butter, sugar and spice until well combined. Set aside.

Glaze:-

1/2 Tbls milk

1 Tbls castor sugar

IMG_1241

Heat the milk to just warm and add the yeast giving it a little stir. Set aside for a few minutes. It should come up all frothy. That means your yeast is alive. Hooray.

In a bowl mix together the flour, salt and sugar. Rub in the butter then pour in the milk and yeast. Mix together to form a sticky dough then tip out onto a lightly floured bench top and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put back in the bowl, cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size. It could take and hour, it could take two hours (or, like my first attempt, it could not rise at all but lets not get into that.)

Once it has risen, turn out onto a bench top and give it another knead for a minute or two minutes then roll it out into a rectangle 20cm x 30cm.

Spread with the butter and sugar mix and sprinkle the currants  evenly on top.IMG_1223

Take one of the shorter ends and fold it 3/4 over the rest of the dough and then bring the other end over to cover this.IMG_1243

IMG_1244Now turn the whole thing a quarter turn so that the long side is closest to you. (Gee, I hope that made some sense.)

Carefully roll out again to the original size rectangle (20 x 30 cm)

Now roll the dough tightly into a sausage shape starting from the long sides.IMG_1226

Phew, glad that’s over….

Cut into 12 equal pieces and place them a little apart on a baking paper lined baking tray and flatten slightly with your hand.

IMG_1246

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes to rise (or until doubled in size)

When ready, bake in a 210oC oven for 15 minutes until lovely and brown.

Heat the milk and sugar for the glaze until the sugar has melted and brush over the warm buns.

IMG_1249

Then they’re ready…

Let them cool down slightly before gorging on them (though I didn’t). It’s just good manners right???

Yay for batch number two…

Enjoy…

 

 

 

Spicy Bun Fun – Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns.

It’s Easter time so why should coeliacs miss out on  the  spicy bun fun?

image

I’ve been working on this recipe for a few years now. Last years batch was a hit with my sister but I’m hoping this years will be even lighter and fluffier. The taste is spot on, it’s the texture I’m dealing with now.

The recipe is really simple :-

450g gluten free plain flour (I use Orgran brand)

3 tsp instant yeast

4 tsp gluten free baking powder

4 tsp xanthum gum

1 tsp salt

2 tsp mixed spice

75g brown sugar

75g currants

120ml milk (full cream works best)

50g butter

150ml water

1 free range egg.

Hows this for simple?

In a bowl (I use a stand mixer but you can make these by hand, nothing wrong with a little elbow workout) mix together the flour,yeast, baking powder, xanthum gum, salt, mixed spice, brown sugar, and currants.

In either the microwave or on the stove, gently warm the milk, butter and water together until they are just warm. Don’t over heat the mix or you’ll kill the yeast. You should be able to stick your finger in without  burning it.

Stir the egg in with the milk, water and butter mix, then pour the whole lot into your dry ingredients. Stir until combined then knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

image

Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm room for about 1 hour until doubled in size.

image

Scrape out onto a floured surface and shape into a log. Divide into 12 even pieces, shape into smooth balls and leave on a baking paper lined baking sheet in a warm room for about 40 minutes. They should double in size.

Pre-heat oven to 210oC.

In a small bowl mix 1 Tblsp flour with enough water to make a smooth paste. Spoon into a sandwich or freezer bag, cut of the very tip and pipe lines along the buns.

image

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes.

In a tiny saucepan mix 2tsp white sugar with 2tsp water. Bring to the boil.

As soon as the buns come out of the oven brush them with the sugar syrup.

If you can, let them cool for 10 minutes before stuffing yourself with them.Image

Yep…

Light and fluffy and spicy and oh so moorish.

My sister says  “Wow. Really real hot cross buns. Wow.” As she’s stuffing yet another in her mouth.

image

Please enjoy…