Bun in the Oven

foodie adventure though conception and beyond

Rocky road brownies

 

Now whether you are trying to conceive or actually pregnant, some times you just need a treat. And if you are gonna do it, do it properly. At work last week we were part of Macmillan’s World’s Largest Coffee Morning. For this all the staff were asked to bake cakes to be given away for a donation. These were the most indulant thing I could think of, and went down a storm!

Ingredients:

120 g 70% dark chocolate, snapped into small pieces

113 g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

200g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean extract

2 lg eggs

95 g plain flour, sieved

1/4 tsp salt

Topping:

85 grams dark chocolate chips

250 ml miniature marshmallows

3 hobnob biscuits

 

Preheat oven to 165C and place rack in centre of oven. Butter a 20 cm square baking pan. 

Melt the chocolate and butter in a large stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar.

Next, whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Finally, stir in the flour and salt.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle the brownies with the chocolate chips, miniature marshmallows and crumbled biscuits.

Return the brownies to the oven and bake for about 5 minutes, or just until the marshmallows start to melt. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. 

Makes 9 large brownies or 18 small.

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Creamy Blackberry and Bilberry Tart

For those times when you just need a desert, whether it is a family gathering, or a special meal for you and your spouse, this pie is a simple and tasty desert which is full of bilberries (you may know them as blueberries, which are high in antioxidents whiich are fantastic for women who are trying to conciece, or are already pregnant. I got this recipe from a friend who moved to Canada last year and has found that she loves to bake. I have reduced the size of the pie from her original recipe, and added a few little twists to make it mine, but I would like to thank her, as I think this is a true gem of a recipe, which is why I am sharing it with you!

Ingredients;

Infued Sugar;

10g fennel  seeds

10g dried juniper berries

zest of 1 lemon

160g caster sugar.

 

Shortcrust Pastry;

190 g plain white flour

2 pinches of salt

115 g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

90 ml ice water

 

Blackberry syrup;

100g blackberries

10g infused sugar

20ml water

Tart;

200 g fresh blueberries

 9 inch loose based cake or pie tin

For the Custard:

100 g infused sugar

20 g white flour

pinch of salt 

1 egg, beaten

60 g sour cream

For the Topping:

50 g infused sugar

30 g plain flour

30 g unsalted butter

Infused Sugar;

I usually have a box of this sat on my baking shelf, it keeps really well and is a lovely addition to many cakes and pastries. It is very simple. Zest 1 lemon into a motor, and add the fennel seeds and dried juniper berried. Grind up, and once it is a fine power, add a teaspoon of sugar, continue to grind, this should soak up the oils that they have produced. Then mix with the rest of the sugar and store in a jar or airtight container at least overnight before use.

Shortcrust pastry.

I love making pastry, but I understand that not everyone can  or wants to. So if you want to buy pre-made pastry, please make sure it is all butter variety.

The first thing with shortcrust pastry is to make sure the butter is properly chilled, along with the water needed. Weigh out the ingredients, and Sift the flour into a large bowl.  Take the butter and cut into small pieces and coat each in the flour. Handle the butter as little as possible. You do not want it to melt.

So now you have little pieces of butter coated in flour. With both hands, take the pieces and squeeze and drop back into the flour. Do this until the mixture starts to look like breadcrumbs. It should be a fine crumb, and this is the point you can start adding the water. Do it a little at a time until it forms a smooth paste. Do not over work it. As soon as it looks right, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for  an hour.

Melt a small amount of butter, an using a pastry brush, butter the tin and chill for 10 minutes. When the pastry is ready, take out of the cling film, and warm slightly with your hands, this stops the edges splitting when you roll is out. Dust a flat surface lightly with flour, and with a rolling pin,  roll it out to about 1/2cm thickness. To make sure it is large enough place your tin on top, and make sure the is at least 7cm all the way around. roll it up on the rolling pin, and unroll it over the cake tin. Carefully push the pastry around the tin, making sure there are no cracks or splits. If this does happen, wet the edge of the crack with water, and using some of the excess pastry patch it, and smooth. Once the tin is lined put back in the fridge of 30 minutes.

Making the blackberry syrup;

I’m very lucky, I have wild blackberries in my garden, which grow over form my neighbours garden. So I am able to go outside and pick these bad boys 🙂

But most grocers, markets and supermarkets will stock them in August – October if you can’t get them wild.

To make the syrup, heat the water in a pan, and desolve the sugar into it. Add the blackberries, and heat until it is all gooey and and soft. Press through a sieve, so that you have a smooth syrup. If you think it is to thick, thin it with a little boiling water.

With a pastry brush, spread this evenly over the pastry base.

Next sprinkle the bilberries in a single layer over the base and place back into the fridge.

To make the custard;

Sieve the flour and sugar into a bowl. Add  The salt. Whisk you egg and add to bowl with the sour cream. Fold all together until you have a smooth custard. Pour this over the bilberries until totally covered.

To make the topping;

This is quite simalar to the method used to make the pastry. Sieve the flour and infused sugar, add chilled butter cut into small pieces, and make into the a bread crumb like consistency. Sprinkle onto the top of the tart, and if you want, carefully draw patterns in the crumbs.

Place into a preheated oven at 175c for 55minutes or until the crumbs are browned.

Place on cooling rack. When cool, trim edges with a knife and carefully remove from the tin. Let completely cool before putting in an air tight container in fridge until needed.

Serve with frozen yogurt, or my favourite, Alpro Blackberry yogurt!

Leave a comment »

Blog recommendation; Happy 4th of July

www.thescrumptiouspumpkin.com

Leave a comment »

Cocktails

I love a good drink. So much so that when I married my husband, we got married in Britain’s Oldest brewery, Shepherd Neame in Faversham Kent. We even had our own wedding ale for our guests to drink.

One of my favourite things apart from drinking was cooking with the stuff. I love making steak and ale pies, cider braised pig cheeks with asparagus, Porter sundae (dark chocolate and porder sorbet topped with porter frozen yogurt with chocolate chunks), and good wholesome stews such as venison and bramble stout. So giving up eating and drinking alcohol has been a bit daunting. I love my beer, I love my gin and whisky, so finding a replacement in the glass – and the kitchen – is going to be a challenge. But there are a fab range of juices and cordials out there which, along with sparking water or tonic in place of alcohol, can be amazing. Mixed together into a super non-boozy cocktail, you will feel special on those occasions when you would most miss a drink. 

Jazzy Juice; 

100ml Innocent Apple juice

100ml Fever tree Ginger Ale

20ml Belvoir Ginger Cordial

Serve with a fresh mint leaf.

Tangerine Sunrise;

1. Pour a nice glass of your favourite orange juice; Mine is Innocent Smooth orange juice.

2. Pour 20ml of Belvoir Spiced Winter Berry through the orange, and it should sink to the bottom, as it is heavier. Do not stir!

Citrus sparkler;

This is totally my favourite at the moment. It feels special. It is a perfect replacement for champagne and is so simple to make!

20ml Belvoir Lime and Lemongrass Cordial

200ml Diet tonic water

Chopped fresh mint

I will publish more recipes for scrummy cocktails in future posts, but for the time being, enjoy!

* I must point out that I bought all products with my own money, and am not affiliated with any companies mentioned.

3 Comments »

Tea

The myth that a cup of tea contains the same amount of caffeine as coffee is untrue. It can be explained by the fact that one kilo of dry black tea and one kilo of dry coffee contain similar amounts of caffeine, but a kilo of tea will make over three times the amount of brewed tea compared to coffee. Therefore a cup of tea contains about a third of the caffeine in an average cup of filtered coffee.

I have always loved my coffee. I have a very nice coffee machine, and it has long been my morning routine to make myself a strong, sweet, full of flavour coffee. The thought of giving it up was originally an horrific one, but the more I have read about the benefits of teas, the more I have tasted, the more interesting I have found it.

I love the rich, smoothness of coffee, the intenseness of flavour and the silky feel on my mouth. You can also find this within Stout and Dark chocolate. Unfortunately I also cannot drink stout, as it alcoholic, and that is definitely a no-no. But a little bit of Dark, organic, fair trade chocolate is allowed. But remember, it also has caffeine in it, so you must take that into account. Approximately 50g equals 50mg of caffiene.

The other option of course is decaffeinated coffee. I was surprised to discover that a standard mug contains 15mg of caffeine! It seems that it is very difficult to totally avoid caffeine, even though there are alternatives to be had.

The safe level of caffeine consumption during pregnancy is a matter of argument among experts. It ranges from no caffeine all the way up to 300mg per day. A standard cup of instant coffee is about 100mg and black tea is between 15-40mg. I have decided to limit myself to 3 cups of tea a day, which means at a maximum my caffeine intake should be no more then 120mg. I am aiming to keep below 200mg, but this should not be difficult.

Caffeine content compared with coffee

  • One mug of instant coffee: 100mg
  • One mug of filter coffee: 140mg
  • One mug of builders tea: 75mg
  • One can of cola: 40mg
  • One can of energy drink: 80mg
  • One 50g bar of plain (dark) chocolate: around 50mg
  • One 50g bar of milk chocolate: around 25mg
  • One mug of decaffeinated coffee; 15mg

Types of teas;

Black teas; Black teas get their characteristic flavour and colour from a natural oxidation process, which follows initial drying and rolling of the leaves after they have been picked. Black teas include Earl grey, black flavoured teas, lapsing soughing ( a intensely smoky tea) and Chai.

Blue teas; Blue teas are essentially between green tea (0% oxidized) and Black tea (100% oxidized). They fall from 10% to 70% oxidization, giving them a large range of flavors and processing methods. Oolongs are complicated and sophisticated teas, with a large spectrum of tastes, aftertastes and smells.

Green teas; Green tea is made from unoxidized leaves which are simply heated after picking to destroy the enzymes that cause oxidation. They are then rolled to release their flavour. Green teas are sweet and contain many of the vitamins and antioxidant properties of the fresh green tea leaf, making them highly regarded as a healthy, fragrant and delicious drink.

White teasWhite teas are less processed and are naturally lower in caffeine. Teas include; White Peony which is one silvery new leaf bud surrounded by a cluster of tiny silvery-green leaves; a pale yellow liquor and a soft, sweet flavour with a hint of nuttiness. White teas are less processed and are naturally lower in caffeine.

Ice teas; I have found many of the fruit flavoured teas are really nice as iced teas. I sweeten with a bit of honey, and allow to cool. I then throw some ice into my smooth maker (though a blender works just as well) and pour in the strained tea. Then whizz it all up and you have a fab crushed iced tea which is best enjoyed in the garden. This can also be done with Chai tea with milk quite nicely, and a little maple syrup.

Herbal teas; Made purely of herbs and spices, not leaves from the tea plant. Please read labels, and double check the herbs, as some, such as raspberry leaf should only be taken in the last trimester of pregnancy, and others which should not be taken at all by pregnant women.

Over the next few weeks I will review some of my favourite teas and add links so you can try them too.

Leave a comment »