Sunday, 26 January 2014

Pecan Blondies

I was rooting through my kitchen cupboards last weekend, when I found a bag of pecans! I remembered seeing a recipe for these blondies in my Great British Bake Off book and decided to make use of the pecans. I then realised I had no white chocolate, so had to go to the shop anyways! But it was totally worth it!!

These were so good. They were really quick and simple to make and tasted scrumptious! They were soft and slightly chewy, just the way a brownie should be! I brought them out to my mum's house, and together we worked our way through the entire batch in no time. Definitely a recipe I'll be adding to my ever-growing list of regular bakes.

225g white chocolate, chopped
115g unsalted buter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
125g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
75g pecans, halved

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line a baking tray. Put 175g of the chocolate and the butter in a heatproof bowl and melt in the microwave. To stop chocolate from burning in the microwave, blast it in short bursts and when it is nearly melted, take it out and stir until smooth. Stir in the sugar and leave to cool for 2 minutes. In another bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla until frothy. Add this to the chocolate mixture and stir well until glossy. Sift in the flour and baking powder and stir in. Add the pecans and remaining 50g of chocolate and stir in. Transfer mixture to the prepared tin and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or a skewer comes out clean. Set the tray on a wire rack and let cool completely before turning out and cutting into squares.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Presidential Brown Bread

This recipe is one I've stolen from my mum. It's apparently the official brown bread of Áras an Uachtaráin, home of the president of Ireland. I've been making it quite a bit lately to bring into work with my homemade soup and it really is the perfect accompaniment. This recipe makes two loaves so I make two: use one and freeze the other for the next week. There's nothing like mum's bread!!

(makes 2 loaves)
450g wholemeal flour
175g plain flour
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g butter, softened
3 eggs, beaten
425-600ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 190ºC and line two loaf tins with baking paper. Sieve the flour, salt, sugar and bicarb. in a large bowl and mix to combine. (Or if you're lazy like me, just give it a good whisk!) Rub in the butter, then add the eggs and buttermilk (I usually use around 500ml) to make a wet mixture. Pour into your lined tines and bake for about 40 minutes. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire wire rack.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

Last week was my first week back at work after an amazing two weeks off for Christmas. I knew I'd need something to help me through the Monday. I needed something quick and easy that I could make while my friend's birthday cake cooled, so I turned to my favourite all-in-one-bowl chocolate cupcake recipe. I topped them with chocolate buttercream and some silver dragees (my new word of the week) to give them a New Year's feel.

(Makes 12 deep cupcakes)
150g butter, softened
150g golden caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
125g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder 
1 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line the cupcake tin. Place all ingredients in a bowl and beak until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, about two thirds full. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate Buttercream
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2tbsp boiling water
150g unsalted butter, softened
225g icing sugar

Blend the cocoa powder and water to a paste and leave to cool slightly. Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the icing sugar until well combined. Add in the cocoa powder paste and beat once more. Spoon mixture into a piping bag and pipe onto your cooled cupcakes.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Artist's Cake

Another Pinterest inspired cake from me today. This one was for my friend's birthday. He's an amazing painter, so I thought a paint palette, along with buttercream paint splotches, would be perfect!

The inside is a cinnamon cake with vanilla bean buttercream, but I'm not going to post the recipe because I totally forgot to take pictures before I covered it in fondant (bad blogger, I know!) But it was delicious, so I promise I will remake it and post it another time!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Bacon Soda Bread

There is a baking ban in my mum's house. Both me and my sister would bake everyday if we could, but my mother has said 'no more' as she can't keep on eating everything we're making. But, clever little me found a loophole!! I made some bread, and then we can have it for lunch!

This bacon soda bread is another from The Great British Bake Off's newest cookbook. It's really quick and simple to make, no yeast or kneading needed, and it tastes delicious with just a little bit of butter. Perfect for lunch or supper over the Christmas holidays.

4 rashers
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp dried parsley
450g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
25g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
350ml buttermilk

Chop the rashers into thin strips using a kitchen scissors. Fry in the pan over a low-medium heat until starting to colour. Add the shallot and parsley and continue to fry until the shallot turns golden. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Preheat the oven to 220ºC and line and flour a baking sheet. Sift the flour, bicarb and salt into a bowl. Add in the butter and rub together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the bacon and shallots. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Mix everything together to make a soft and sticky dough. You make need to add a little bit more buttermilk if it does not come together. Lightly dust a worktop with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Shape the dough into a ball and place on the baking tray. Using a table knife, make a deep cross on the top of the dough and dust with flour. Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the bread makes a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.