Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Shropshire Soul Cakes - Recipe



A while ago my sister had a Shropshire Recipe Book as a gift, it brings together traditional recipes for the area. It's one of a series of books that cover most counties in the UK. Having a flick through, I spotted the popular and most well known of Shropshire recipes, Shropshire Fidget Pie and Shrewsbury Biscuits. However one of the more unusual recipes was Shropshire Soul Cakes.

According to the book on All Soul's Day 2nd November the dead are remembered and children would go 'a-souling'. Singing "A soul-cake, a soul-cake, please, good missues, a soul-cake. One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him who saved us all".  In return the children would then receive a cake marked with a cross. So what better time of the year for me to bake them.
This being an old recipe, it gave me no indication of how many cakes the ingredients would make or what size they should be. With no photographs in the book, and instruction's such as - divide into pieces and form into flat cakes, are not all that helpful! Whilst I was baking my father called by, on asking if he had ever heard of Shropshire Soul Cakes, or did he know what they looked like - his response was very 21st century 'have you Googled it?'.  Yes, I know I could of 'Googled' but I was treating this as my very own Great British Bake Off technical challenge, so I resisted the Google urge.

Soul Cakes Recipe (makes 12-14)
190 degrees C / Gas 4

6 oz butter, softened
6 oz caster sugar
3 egg yolks
1 lb flour (I used plain)
pinch of salt
1 tsp mixed spice
3 oz currants
a little warm milk
a few saffron threads
  • In a small bowl  warm the milk (about 3 tablespoons) and add the saffron, and leave to infuse.
  • In a separate bowl cream the butter, sugar together for a few minutes until fluffy.
  • Beat in the egg yolks
  • Sift together the flour, salt, mixed spice into the mixture adding the currants and the milk a little at a  time, be sure to strain the milk. 
  • Combine together to form a soft dough.Divide into pieces and form into flat cakes onto a baking sheet, marking  each with a cross.
  • Bake for 20-28 minutes until golden brown.
So having made my cakes and now feeling able to 'Google', I can see there are many interpretation's of the recipe and most are somewhere in between a biscuit and a cake. So I'm not so far off the mark. 

With the bottom of the cake's well browned I
could not leave them in the oven any longer
The cakes in both appearance and consistency were a cross between a scone and a rock bun. If the story behind the cakes is true then I'm pretty sure you would not get children returning for more! Not that they were awful, I just would of preferred a scone or a rock bun. So if one day someone was to ever bake a cake to remember me, hear this - I'd rather it be a big fat Chelsea Bun!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Honeycomb Halloween Lollipops


My fascination with chocolate continues, this time with an added honeycomb crunch. There are two stages to this lolly, first the honeycomb and then the melted chocolate. To create your Halloween Honeycomb Lollipops follow the instructions below.

Honeycomb Recipe

2 tbsp golden syrup
100gr caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • In a saucepan heat the sugar and golden syrup together, bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Watch it carefully, you don't want it to burn. 
  • Remove from the heat and add the bicarbonate of soda, quickly mixing this together. 

Now this is where you need to work fast - onto a lined baking sheet spoon a circle of honeycomb adding the lolly stick before it sets. Now, I confess I only managed a few lollies. The trick is to quickly transfer the honeycomb from the hot pan, otherwise it will over cook and leave it with a burnt taste. 

If you run out of time to prevent burning pour the honeycomb mixture in a well grease or lined container. Once set you can break this up to give you lovely chunks of honeycomb to eat. 

Decorating
I decorated my lollipops with Silverspoon orange chocolate buttons. I only used around a quarter of the packet, so chose to melt my chocolate in the microwave. Then using a mini spatula a coated the honeycomb lollipop with melted chocolate. Using the edge of the spatula, gently move the chocolate up in an arch shape, this will add the shape of a pumpkin to the Honeycomb Halloween Lollipop(see photo opposite).

Once the chocolate has set fully, you can add your scary pumpkin face. Use either black icing, or for ease you can buy a set of decorating tubes of icing from the supermarket.

I'm entering these Honeycomb Halloween Lollipops into this month's Halloween themed Calendar Cakes, hosted by Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cakes, with Dolly Bakes taking the reins this month.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Orange and Chocolate Scones - Recipe


Orange and Chocolate Sconesnot the first flavour of scone you may think of, but I had the urge for something other than plain or Cherry Scones. So with a single orange in the fruit bowl and a handful of dark chocolate chips at the bottom of a packet, I set to baking. I hope you enjoy this somewhat different scone recipe - especially for National Baking Week 15-21st October

Orange and Chocolate Scones - Recipe 
makes 6

8oz self raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
2oz butter
1/4 pint of milk
Zest of one orange
1 1/2 oz dark chocolate drops
  • Sift flour and salt into a bowl.
  • Rub the butter into the flour with your finger tips, until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Add the orange zest and chocolate chips.
  • Add all the milk, and mix to a soft sticky dough, I use my hands for this.
  • Turn out onto a well floured work surface. I don't roll my dough out I use my hands to gentle flatten the dough to about 1/2 inch thick.
  • Cut into 6 rounds using the 2 1/2 inch cutter.
  • Place on a baking sheet and glace with milk.
Bake at 220 degrees or gas mark 8 for 10-12 minutes or until they are golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack.

Tip - you can get a few extra Orange and Chocolate scones out of this recipe by using a smaller sized cutter.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Ghost on a Stick - Chocolate Halloween Treat


Boo!! Sorry I hope I didn't scare you, but I'm getting rather carried away of late with melting chocolate and this week thought I would create a Ghost on a Stick for Halloween. Just like the Chocolate Lollipops I made earlier this month these are simple to make.

You will need:-
  • lolly sticks
  • white chocolate
  • piping bag
  • baking paper or non stick sheet
  • chocolate drops
  • small spatula or knife
  • saucepan
  • glass bowl
A tall glass for your piping bag
makes pour the chocolate in easier


  • Heat some water in a saucepan, place a glass bowl onto the saucepan ensuring the bowl does not touch the hot water. Add  the chocolate pieces into the bowl and allow to melt slowly. 
  • Place the baking sheet onto a tray, this way it's easier to move the chocolate lollies if you need to pop them into the fridge to cool. You may find it helpful to draw your chocolate ghost design.

  • Once melted scoop the chocolate into the piping bag, careful it will be very warm. Pipe the outline of the lolly (see photo above), then fill the inside with more chocolate and remember to add your stick. You will need to spread the chocolate flat using a small spatula or butter knife.
  • Add two plain chocolate drops for the eyes - there you have it a Ghost on a Stick!

Now you just have to wait for the chocolate to set, ten minutes in the fridge will speed this up.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Recipe - Pistachio Biscuits

This week it's National Baking Week, and I thought I would share with you some of my favourite recipes. To start with who fancies a easy Pistachio biscuit recipe, I've baked these biscuits a few times. they are simple to make and have an added bonus that you can also freeze them.

Easy recipe for Pistachio biscuits 

Pistachio Biscuits - Recipe

90g butter (room temperature)
80g golden caster sugar
80g demerara sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 large egg
250g self raising flour
70g pistachios (roughly chopped)


If you prefer you can replace the pistachios with walnuts or as I've done previously sultanas. The great thing about this recipe is that once the biscuits are baked they freeze really well for up to a month. 

I like to make these biscuits using a wooden spoon but you could of course you an electric whisk.

Make sure you have your baking sheets ready and at hand.


Pistachio biscuit recipe
Method
  • Beat the butter until soft and creamy, gradually beat in the two types of sugar for 2 minutes. At this point you may have wished to use an electric whisk!
  • Beat in the egg a little at a time.
  • Stir in the vanilla, flour and pistachios.
  • Now to the messy bit, get your hands into the mixture to bring it together into a dough.
  • Roll the dough into approximately 24 balls (about the size of a walnut)
  • Space apart on the baking sheet, leaving room for them to spread. 
  • Flatten with a fork, this adds a nice pattern to the biscuit.

Bake in a pre-heated oven 180 degrees C or Gas 4 for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave on the baking sheets for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.


These biscuits a lovely enjoyed with a cup of tea or as part of a bigger occasion such as afternoon tea.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Chocolate Lollipops


As it's Chocolate Week I thought I would share with you an easy way to create your very own chocolate lollipops.

You will need:-

  • lolly sticks
  • white chocolate
  • strawberry chocolate
  • piping bag x 2
  • baking paper or non stick sheet
  • decorations - sprinkles or chocolate drops
  • small spatula or knife
  • saucepan
  • glass bowl

I chose to make vanilla and strawberry chocolate lollies but you can pick any flavour chocolate.
Heat some water in a saucepan, place a glass bowl onto the saucepan ensuring the bowl does not touch the hot water. Add  the chocolate pieces into the bowl and allow to melt slowly. 

Place the baking sheet onto a tray, this way it's easier to move the chocolate lollies if you need to pop them into the fridge or out of harms way or little fingers!  If you're not confident enough to pipe your chocolate lollies free hand, you can always draw your design on the baking sheet. 

Once melted scoop the chocolate into the piping bag, careful it will be very warm. If you are doing more than one type of chocolate, melt this also and scoop into a second piping bag. 
Snip the end off the piping bag, you can now pipe your lollies to your desired design. You can use the spatula or knife to help spread or flatten your design, by gently smoothing the chocolate. This way you can retain the design on the side that has contact with the baking sheet. Oh and don't forget your lolly sticks.

Allow to cool and set, you can place them into the fridge if it's a warm day. Once set, gently ease away from the baking sheet. If you are expecting your chocolate lollipops to last longer than 5 minutes, wrap them in cellophane and give as a gift. I was quite pleased with the Chocolate Name Lollipops, tricky to pipe the name as a mirror image though. 

The photo of the lolly below the one with the sprinkles on, has the pin wheel design on the other side - only I forgot to take a picture of it, sorry.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Bonbonniere a Chocolate Workshop

Raspberry and Champagne Truffle made by my own fair hand
In June this year I was lucky enough to win a competition in Shropshire Magazine - a Chocolate Making Workshop for two from Bonbonniere. So at the end of September myself and friend Tracy, made our way to Shrewsbury for a day of chocolaty delights. 

Bonbonniere is a Shrewsbury based company, owned and run by Melanie Fallon who is a master of all things chocolate, and our host for the day. There were six ladies on the workshop, we were all treated to a glass of champagne or juice to start our day. Whilst I remembered to take my camera, I'll admit to forget my notepad and pen #bloggerfail. Which would of been very useful, for all the hints and tips learnt through the day. 

To start we learnt about the types of chocolate, from those grown in South America to Africa including and most importantly the taste test. We then watched whilst Melanie demonstrated making chocolate ganache for making truffles, adding in pistachios and champagne.
Pistachio and Champagne ganache
Next we split into groups to make our own truffles, we used some of the strong South American chocolate combined with a small amount of the fruity and smooth African chocolate. We heated butter and cream, then added a sugar solution to help the truffles keep - although they were eaten within a day! We then added this to the chocolate and stirred until melted and smooth. We added raspberries and champagne for flavouring, then left the ganache to cool whilst we went for a very tasty lunch.
Back from lunch and the fun really began. It was definitely a case of rolling up your sleeves to start shaping the ganache into truffle sized balls. Try as I might my hands got into something of a chocolaty mess, but trust me I was not the only one. It was terribly tempting to lick your fingers though. You could choose to  either roll your truffles in cocoa powder, or dip them into melted milk or white chocolate. There were lots of decorating options such as sprinkles, glitter, gold spray, nuts etc. I settled on some dried raspberries, pink glitter, red sprinkles and some gold spray. Now if I do say so myself I'm very proud of the chocolates I produced and think they wouldn't look out of place for sale in a shop.

            
Here is a selection of the chocolates made at the workshop by myself and fellow trainee chocolatiers. At the end of the workshop the chocolates were judged and the winner received a large chocolate hamper. Sarah won with her gold themed chocolates, well deserved and very appropriate in this an Olympic year.
We had a thoroughly enjoyable day, and I think it's fair to say that chocolate truffles will feature in my Christmas gifts this year. I will also be keeping an eye out for a new macaroon workshop Melanie is planning. I'm giving Bonbonniere my Shropshire's Best badge of approval - fabulous!
Myself, Melanie and Tracy complete with gift wrapped chocolates