German Butter Biscuits (Heidesand)

Heidesand

These German butter biscuits are amazing, and far superior to English shortbread; they just melt in your mouth as you eat them! They are more effort than shortbread but definitely worth it and are a favourite with many of my family.

Ensure when you slice the biscuits that they are at least 1cm thick as the ones I made were too thin and so when they spread in the oven they cooked a lot quicker and and became slightly over-cooked.

Heidesand biscuits

Recipe makes 36 biscuits – there is just no point making any less as they disappear so fast!

Ingredients:

  • 275g Butter
  • 250g Caster sugar
  • 1 Sachet of vanilla sugar or around 2 tsps
  • 2 tbsp Milk
  • 375g Plain flour
  • 3g Baking powder

Method

        • Melt all the butter and leave it simmering in the saucepan for around 10-12 minutes it will turn a deep brown/red colour and there should be lots of little black dots – you can see some of the black dots up the sides of the bowl in the picture below.
        • Put this butter straight in a bowl to cool slightly and stop it cooking, leave this in the bowl for about 15 minutes then whisk the butter for around 2 minutes to allow it to get slightly foamy.

Heidesand

  • Gradually add the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time to the butter while whisking with an electric whisk, then add the vanilla sugar.
  • Continue whisking for another couple of minutes to ensure it is pale, it will still feel slightly sandy.
  • Add the milk and whisk it in.
  • Combine the flour and baking powder and take two thirds. Add the two thirds a tablespoon at a time to the mixture gently mixing it together.
  • Add the final third of the flour and knead in. The dough may need more water, it should come together without being very sticky.
  • Divide the dough into four and make it into sausages that are around an inch round – make sure you don’t have tapered ends. Roll the sausage up in cling film and chill for between 30 minutes and 24 hours.

Heidesand

  • Slice the sausage into 1cm thick circles and space them far apart on the baking tray as they will spread

Heidesand

  • Cook for 13-15 minutes at 180°C until they are lightly browned, keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t go too brown. Allow to cool before you tuck in.

Lemon cake for Mother’s day

Lemon sponge filled with lemon curd

I couldn’t let Mother’s day pass without baking something, and I considered baking soo many different things from chocolate cakes to macarons. But decided that the only thing I should make is a lemon cake, as this is my mums favourite cake!

Normally when I make this cake I make it into a tray bake or loaf and lightly ice it with lemon icing, this time I decided to do something slightly different. I very rarely make large round cakes and it is even more rare for me to make a cake with more than one layer, so to make this cake more interesting I decided to make two layers and fill it with lemon curd. As I made lemon cake with lemon curd I decided to stick to plain icing, otherwise I thought it would become overwhelmingly lemony. This recipe does have a very strong lemon flavour so if you prefer a lighter lemon flavour then I would recommend using less lemon juice in the cake.

This cake is not very deep, if you want to make a cake that comes out as deep as a regular Victoria Sponge I would recommend making double the amount of mixture. This cake is only slightly deeper than a tray bake sponge. Also, I would recommend filling this cake with lemon curd just before you eat it as otherwise the cake will absorb the moisture from the curd and then the sponge will be less light and fluffy (this is why the sponge looks slightly dense in the photo, I had put the curd in about 4-5 hours before taking the photo).

Ingredients:

  • 225g Self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 225g Soft margarine
  • 225g Caster sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 Lemons zest
  • 2 Lemons juice
  • 2 tsps Milk
  • 200g Lemon curd
  • 175g Fondant icing sugar
  • Water

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C then grease and line a 20x7cm cake tin with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric whisk (or wooden spoon) until it is much lighter in colour and a smooth and fluffy consistency.
  3. Gradually add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, beating them in one by one. If the mixture starts to look curdled add a tablespoon of the flour.
  4. Slowly fold in all of the flour and baking powder, this is easiest to do by adding around a third of the flour each time and folding it in before adding any more.
  5. Add the lemon juice and rind to the mixture, and gently fold this in. Do not over mix or you will not get a light sponge.
  6. Pour this mixture into the cake tin and level the surface with the back of a spoon.
  7. Bake for around 45 minutes, check it is cooked by inserting a metal skewer and checking if it comes out clean, or gently press the top of the cake as it should spring back if it is fully cooked.
  8. Leave it in the tin for around 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Leave this for at least an hour to fully cool before slicing into it to add the lemon curd. x
  9. When it is fully cooled slice the cake in half using a sharp knife or one of these – I would definitely recommend getting one if you make large cakes regularly as it works perfectly. Slice this cake in half very gently as it is so soft and will crack easily.
  10. Spread an even layer of lemon curd all over the bottom slice of the cake, the curd should totally cover the cake, but not be so thick that when you put the top piece on it comes out of the sides.
  11. The cake can then be iced by mixing the icing sugar and lemon juice then add the water until the icing is thick but pourable. It is easiest to ice this by putting icing around the outside of the cake and then pouring the rest of the icing into the middle. This prevents the icing from pouring down the outside of the cake.
  12. The cake could then be decorated with sugar paste flowers, or it could be an Easter cake and decorated with little yellow sugar paste chicks.

One year at work celebrated with rocky road

Rocky road

I can’t believe I have had my first proper job for a whole year now! The time has flown by and I have really enjoyed leaving full time education and getting into work; although there are times when I really miss it, and wish I had enjoyed it more. I decided, as I always say not enough people bring in cakes and treats for the office to celebrate Birthdays, other occasions or just because they can; that I had to mark this occasion with some kind of treat. It’s not easy though to bring things in for the office as it is a large open plan, so you have to make a lot or most of the office misses out. However, in the last week I have had cake for breakfast twice already! So, maybe things are improving :) I made rocky road for the office as it is easy to make a lot of and because I don’t normally do much baking in the middle of the week so it’s nice and quick.

As it has been a year since I started work, that means my blog is just over a year old to! I am really enjoying getting more into blogging all the things I bake, and am looking forward to attending Blog Summit in Birmingham to hopefully learn lots about improving my blog. Are you going to be attending Blog Summit? It would be great to hear from other people attending.

Rocky Road Recipe:
The recipe is adapted from this recipe at the BBC:
Makes:20 squares

Rocky road

Ingredients:

  • 300g Dark chocolate
  • 100g White chocolate
  • 150g Butter
  • 150g Golden syrup
  • 250g Digestive biscuits
  • 100g Sultanas
  • 60g Pecan nuts, chopped
  • 30g Mini marshmallows

Method:

  1. Line a 20cm square tin with cling film and leave plenty of excess over the sides so you can cover the contents with it later.
  2. Put both the chocolates, butter and syrup in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, to melt. Do not over stir these ingredients as this can cause the chocolate to split, they barely need any stirring, the un-melted chocolate can just occasionally by gently pushed into the melted chocolate.
  3. While this chocolate mixture is melting, put all of the digestives in a large food bag and hold the end; break the biscuits up using the end of a rolling pin.
  4. To save time later the food bag containing the biscuits can be opened and left on the scales so you can weigh the rest of the ingredients in to it, apart from the sultanas.
  5. The sultanas should be added to the chocolate when is about 70% melted, I think as these warm into the chocolate they cook down into it slightly and the rocky road has seemed to come out chewier and fudgier since I started doing this (I can’t guarantee that adding them earlier actually does anything to it, but I’m sure they have tasted better since I started doing this).
  6. Then when the chocolate is melted the contents of the bag can just be emptied straight into the bowl and thoroughly mixed in.
  7. The contents of the bowl then needs to be emptied into the tin and compacted, this can be done with the back of a spoon or sometimes a potato masher is easier to use.
  8. Cover the contents of the tin with the excess cling film and then place the tin into the fridge for around 3 hours, at this point in will be nearly set, so it can be easily cut with a warm knife; it can be cut into 16-25 pieces (depending on how generous you want them to be). It should then be put back in the fridge for a further 2 hours until it is totally set, it needs to be stored in the fridge to keep it set. .

Afternoon tea with a first attempt at macarons

Lovely homemade afternoon tea

I love afternoon tea and cannot think of anything better than some nice little sandwiches and cakes and a good natter with friends. A few weeks ago me and a friend decided that rather than going out for afternoon tea we would make our own, and at the same time have a first attempt at making French macarons.

Since this afternoon tea, I have decided that I need some pretty afternoon tea/cake stands! I can’t believe I have gone so long without any, they are just so cute and great for displaying pocket sized creations.

Afternoon tea stand

The afternoon tea was delicious we had cream cheese and cucumber, ham and mustard and jam and peanut butter sandwiches. Okay so maybe jam and peanut butter isn’t something you would normally get with afternoon tea but it is something we both love. We also had cookies and chocolate macarons with an array of fillings. It was a great afternoon, and I can’t wait for next time, will have to think of some different things to make.

Afternoon tea

The macaron recipe used was taken from BBC Good Food they were very easy to make and tasted lovely however they didn’t have the smooth appearance you would normally get with a macaron and I am not sure why. So, at some point will have another go after doing some more detailed research into how you get the lovely smooth crisp shell.

Macaroons

The only changes made to the above recipe were that when putting the mixture on the baking tray the blobs were made to only around 1cm across as 3cm sounded far too big. The fillings we made for them were chocolate ganache, chocolate ganache and raspberry jam, peanut butter and jam, peanut butter and nutella and plain peanut butter. They were all great, however the ones with just chocolate ganache were very rich; these were hugely improved when the raspberry jam was added!

As you can tell we both love peanut butter a little bit too much!

Afternoon tea

Pocket Baking is launched with some lovely bourbons

Bourbon biscuits

I am finally launching my new Pocket Baking blog! I had no idea getting my own domain and setting up a blog away from wordpress.com would be so difficult. I got given the domain Pocket Baking and hosting for Christmas with plans to have the new blog up and running by new years day, only now in late February is the blog live and semi-ready. I still haven’t finished making it look nice but at least now it actually displays content; I decided that was good enough. I have loads of planned posts as I have done so much baking recently and need to start posting them.

So, the blog name changed however the content will be mostly the same, the name came from the fact that whenever I bake it is generally pocket sized goodies; as I tend to only bake for myself or very few people so there is little point in me making large cakes or pies, they would just be wasted. Along with the new blog, I also now have Pocket Baking Twitter, Instagram and Flickr :)

I decided to re-start my blogging adventure with some lovely bourbons, I found this recipe in September and have only just last week got round to making them. The recipe came from Sams Kitchen, and to see the recipe you have to donate through her blog to Macmillan . Before making them I had wanted to get hold of a rectangular biscuit cutter, to make them look like what people expect from a bourbon. It turns out this is quite difficult, I went round all the independent baking shops in the area (there are lots of these near me) and I went to all the usual places, supermarkets, Lakeland etc. and I couldn’t find them anywhere. I did not have long enough to order them online and wait for delivery so have had to settle with circular biscuits. I was shocked at the tiny range of biscuit cutters in shops though, it seemed to be circles, stars or hearts everywhere.

Bourbon biscuits

Bourbon biscuits before they are sandwiched together

These biscuits were delicious, and seemed to go down very well with everyone who tried them. The recipe made 11 biscuits using a 5cm circular biscuit cutter. However, if I was going to make them again I would increase the buttercream filing ingredients by about 25% as I had completely scraped the bowl clean of filling by the last one, and a couple were a bit light on the cream.

Bourbon buttercream

All the buttercream was used up in making 11 biscuits

Also half way through cooking the biscuits they needed a sharp tap on the work top before being put back in the oven as they started to bubble on the surface.

Super speedy sausage roll bites

If you are looking for a yummy little snack to go with a lunch or just for a way to use up some left over puff pastry, then look no further! This is a super quick recipe, using a few shortcuts, but hey we don’t all have time to spend hours making puff pastry. These are best served warm a few minutes after they have been cooked but can be kept for a few days (if you can find a way to stop yourself eating them all at once…please let me know if you find a way to avoid them, mine don’t normally last more than a few hours!).

Here’s the recipe:

  • 100g Good quality sausage meat
  • 2 tbsp Apple sauce
  • 30g Dried cranberries
  • 300g Ready to roll puff pastry – or homemade if you prefer
  • 1 Egg

Makes 25

Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 6

  1. Start by removing the pastry from the fridge in advance and bring it to room temperature as this will make it easier to roll.
  2. If you are using sausages then they will need the skin removing, the meat should then be combined with the apple sauce and cranberries. In a separate bowl the egg needs to be whisked together briefly. The pastry then needs rolling out thinly into a rectangle on a floured surface.
  3. Strips of sausage meat then need laying along the pastry around 1.5cm apart and starting around 0.5 cm from the edge of the pastry. The sausage meat strips should be far thinner than the width of a sausage, maybe half or even a quater as thick as a standard sausage. Although this does depend on how meaty you want them, I cannot imagine the meat being very wide would taste great as it would become overbearing.
  4. Once you have done this egg wash the pastry strips between the sausage, take the pastry edge you started on and fold it over the meat, cut the pastry where the edge meets the rest of the pastry. Seal the pastry edges together and then pinch and roll the edges to give a crimped effect.
  5. Cut the rolls into the size you want, I tend to cut them around 2 inches long. The diagonally cut into the top of each of the sausage rolls before egg washing them and placing them slightly spaced out on a baking tray.
  6. Bake for around 20-25minutes or until the pastry has puffed up and is golden.

Bacon and egg breakfast muffins

For me a Sunday breakfast has to be more interesting than the standard bowl of cereal I have every other morning. It often involves croissants, scrambled egg on toast or smoked salmon bagels. However, last weekend I decided to go for something a little bit different, a bacon and egg breakfast muffin. The idea came from watching Rachel Khoo on The little Paris kitchen a couple of weeks ago, I noticed her making Croque Madame muffins which I wasn’t entirely keen on but the idea of making something like that into a muffin looked great. So I took what I remembered of what she did and changed it to suit breakfast; the main and most important change, I think, was taking out the bechamel sauce! Something I definately couldn’t eat so early in the morning.

I think variations of these will start to appear more regularly for breakfast on a Sunday now! You could probably get nearly an entire fryed breakfast in one of these…well a very small fried breakfast anyway. Or they would be great served with beans, mushrooms, sausages etc.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Slices of white bread
  • 100g Butter (melted)
  • 4 Slices of bacon
  • 4 Small eggs
  • 100g Cheese (any cheese that you enjoy melted will be fine, I used mature cheddar but you could use a gruyère or maybe mozzarella)

Makes 4 muffins

Preheat the oven to 180C

  1. Slice the crusts off your bread and roll them out until they are around half as thick as they were to begin with.
  2. Liberally brush both sides of the bread with meted butter and cut each slice in half.
  3. Cross the two halves over each other and place into a muffin tray. There seem to be many ways to put the bread in the muffin tin but I found this way to be the easiest as the bread didn’t seem to split so easily.
  4. Fry the bacon as you like it and then place one rasher into each bread case
  5. Crack the eggs over a bowl and allow around half of the egg white to run out of the shell, place the yolk and the rest of the white on top of the bacon. If it looks like there is space for more egg white then add more, but ensure you don’t overfill them as this makes them more likely to leak and get stuck to the tray.Breakfast
  6. Cover the egg and bacon in cheese and brush the top of the bread with more butter.
  7. Place in the oven for 13-15 minutes if you want a runny egg, and 20 minutes if you want a set yolk.
  8. Take the out of the tray and serve immediately.20120909-210255.jpg
Mini madelines

Mini madelines

Well as much as I am enjoying getting back into baking, I am struggling to get creative. I find it too easy to slip in to a routine of baking certain tried and tested recipes that I know everyone likes. When actually I want to learn new baking skills and try new things.

So, on a quest to try new things I went to Lakeland to see if anything there could inspire me. I left with a mini madeline tray, okay so it’s not exactly learning new skills but at least they aren’t something I have made before.

When I looked for recipes I found there were actually large variations in the recipes and methods used to make Madelines. So, this is a bit of an amalgamation of different advice and recipes, but I mainly used the Joy of Baking and Waitrose websites.

Having never tried a madeline I expected it to just taste like plain sponge cake, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The cakes were lovely and light, and they tasted beautifully buttery and sweet. They disappeared very quickly after they had been baked, so I have no idea how well they would keep. But I imagine they would be fine for at least a couple of days if they were stored in an air tight container.

Ingredients:

  • 60g Melted unsalted butter
  • 50g Caster sugar
  • 50g Plain white flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 1tsp Vanilla sugar
  • Icing sugar to dust

Makes 25 mini madelines or 15 regular sized madelines.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Method:

  1. Whisk the egg and caster sugar until the mixture is very thick, this takes around 10 minutes.
  2. Sift the flour and vanilla sugar into the egg and sugar mixture, and carefully fold it in.
  3. Then fold in 50g of the butter, set aside the remaining 10g.
  4. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes to allow it to become firm.
  5. While the mixture is being refrigerated brush the Madeline tray with the remaining 10g of melted butter and dust the tray with flour, tapping out any excess.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the tray, do not spread the mixture out into the mould otherwise the cakes are likely to become flat, rather than having their expected ‘humped’ look. If using a mini madeline tray its around half a teaspoon of mixture needed per mould.
  7. Bake these for around 7 minutes or until they are golden brown and the cake springs back when you touch it.
  8. Leave the cakes to cool for around 5 minutes then turn the tray upside down and tap it against the worktop. They should all easily fall out.
  9. When they are completely cooled lightly dust them with icing sugar, before you tuck in.

20120903-193703.jpg

And she’s back! Whoopie!

I decided that I just couldn’t stay away from the wonderful world of baking any longer! I hadn’t realised how much I had missed baking, until I started again. It’s so nice to escape away into the kitchen and get really stuck into a recipe or dream up a new creation.

I will try and bake each weekend from now on, and might post some of the more adventurous midweek meals I hope to start making. I have been eating too many pre-packaged meals recently and want that to change, to save money if nothing else.

So my return to baking begins with manuka honey flavoured whoopie pies with a filling that I think is similar to a Swiss meringue buttercream.

The recipe is one I have been asked to review, and the Comvita manuka honey and bee pollen were sent to me with it. However, there has been no payment for this review and all opinions are my own.

The recipe I was given was for cupcakes but with some tweaking I adapted it to be a whoopie pie instead. I have previously made the cupcakes and thought they were very nice but a bit over sweet (I will include the original and adapted recipe below). Although, when I originally made the cupcakes I did think that the recipe would make a lovely fruit flan base, which I will endeavour to try out some time soon.

This is the first time I have made icing like this, normally it comes out of a box and water or lemon juice is added! So this was slightly daunting, especially when it felt like I should have been doing numerous things at once, but it seems it doesn’t matter if you do each step one a time. Which is lucky as multi tasking is a skill I was never blessed with.

Overall, I found the cakes tasted much better with slightly less sugar and the buttercream was delicious, and definitely improved over time. I always struggle to work out whether things like this should be kept in the fridge due to the butter, so I tried both. I still don’t know exactly which it is meant to be, but I preferred the ones kept in the fridge as i liked how firm the buttercream became, but I think this is totally down to personal preference.

Right now for the recipe:

Cupcake recipe from Comvita

Ingredients:

  • 250g Softened butter
  • 250g Golden caster sugar
  • 250g Self-raising flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1tbsp Comvita UMF10+ Manuka Honey
  • 1tsp baking powder

Makes 12 muffins or 18 cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Method:

  1. Using an electric whisk cream the butter and sugar until it is pale and creamy.
  2. Whisk in the eggs and a tablespoon of the flour, if it looks like it is curdling.
  3. Sieve in the remaining flour and baking powder, fold this in and add the Manuka honey. If the mixture looks to dry a little milk can be added.
  4. Do not over mix the batter as this will prevent the cakes from being light and fluffy.
  5. Spoon the mixture in to the cupcake or muffin cases.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until they are golden and spring back when you touch them.

Whoppie pie recipe using Comvita honey

This recipe was adapted from the recipe for Vanilla whoopie pies in a book called ‘Whoopie Pies’ by Love Food.

Ingredients:

  • 125g Plain flour
  • 0.5tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 85g Softened butter
  • 75g Golden caster sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 75ml Buttermilk or a milk and lemon juice mixture
  • 1 tsp Comvita Manuka honey

Makes 7 whoopie pies.

I made this recipe in a whoopie pie maker, so do not know how well they cook in the oven but the book advises they should cook in 20 minutes at 180°C.

Method:

  1. Whisk the butter and sugar together until they are pale and creamy and then mix in the egg and a tablespoon of flour.
  2. Sieve in half the remaining flour and add the buttermilk, thoroughly combine the ingrediants. The rest of the flour along with the bicarbonate of soda can now be folded in.
  3. Spoon a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into each ring in the whoopie pie maker and cook for 7.5 minutes.
  4. Leave them to cool before filling.

Buttercream recipe

Ingredients:

  • 75g Golden caster sugar
  • 50ml Water
  • 2 Egg whites
  • 125g Softened butter
  • 1/2tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2tsp Yellow food colouring
  • 1tsp Bee Pollen to sprinkle

Makes enough to fill 12 whoopie pies.

  1. Whisk the egg whites and gradually add 15g of the sugar, until the egg whites become stiff.
  2. Combine the water and the remaining 60g of the sugar in a saucepan and heat stirring until the sugar disolves, then stop stirring until the mixture boils and reaches 121°C.
  3. Sit the saucepan in a bowl of cold water for just a few seconds, to prevent the syrup from getting any hotter (if it’s left too long, it will be too thick to pour).
  4. Gradually pour the syrup in to the whisked eggs. Continue whisking the mixture for around 10 minutes until the bowl feels lukewarm. If the syrup starts to become too thick to pour, return the pan to the hob very briefly, for the heat to thin it slightly.
  5. Slowly whisk in the softened butter. Then add the vanilla extract and food colouring and keep whisking it until it forms a smooth fluffy buttercream.
  6. Spread the buttercream on to the flat side of one of the whoopie pies and sprinkle on some of the bee pollen, then put the two halves together. I am not entirely convinced that the bee pollen is necessary, as the flavour of it gets lost when combined with the buttercream and cake. However, on its own it has a very strong floral taste, so I am still trying to come up with something that it would work well with.
  7. These would also taste nice with some jam spread on the whoopie pie beneath the buttercream.

Meal Planning Monday

Blimey how fast did last week go?! Can’t believe it’s Monday again already and I’m late for another Meal Planning Monday….oops. Well I stuck to last weeks plan; this is definitely working for me as it ensures I don’t buy too much and I eat properly all week.

I found out today that I am likely to be lodging for at least 6 months! So, I need to get some baking equipment here, can’t go 6 months without any proper baking!!

So this weeks meal and baking plan:

  • Monday: Homemade chicken kiev with mashed potatoes and peas
  • Tuesday: Sweet chilli with salad and taco’s
  • Wednesday: Tortellini with a tomato and roast pepper sauce
  • Thursday: Pasta bolognase.
  • Friday: Jacket potato with baked beans and cheese
  • Saturday: Salmon, prawn and haddock fish pie with broccoli, carrots and peas.
  • Sunday: Chicken chasseur and crusty bread

I will also make sausage rolls and lemon and poppy seed muffins, I will blog the recipes for these at the weekend.

Does anyone have any suggestions of easy things to bake that don’t require lots of utensils, but that last well as a sweet snack for a weeks worth of packed lunches?