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Tarts Times Two

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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

So the big day is nearly upon us! There is not long to go now until Santa pops down all the chimneys!
I don't know about you but it is almost Christmas Eve and we have not yet planned our menu.
My father & I like to cook something a bit special on Christmas Day but this year we have not been as organised as we probably should of been.
One thing I do know is that I will preparing these tasty little creatures. 
I made these blinis last year and they were definitely a hit in our household! 
Perfect to enjoy with a glass of bucks fizz whilst opening some gifts.
They are fairly straight forward to make, I just like to take a little extra time with the presentation.

I just do two different types, one with smoked salmon and one with king prawns but it really depends on your own taste :)

For the salmon blinis you will need:
Pickled beetroot, smoked salmon, horseradish sauce, capers, blinis and a lemon!
You can make your own blinis if you have time; however there is already lots to prepare on Christmas Day so I opt for the ready made ones which are available at most large supermarkets.
These require a short time in the oven, check your packets for details! 
I then slice a very thin slither of beetroot and place this on the blini. 
Next I arrange some smoked salmon on top and pop a splodge of horseradish on the salmon. I only use a small amount as it has quite a strong flavour but again, alter to taste.
To finish I add a couple of capers, a squeeze of lemon juice and a little lemon zest for colour and voila! you are all done. So quick but so scrumptious.

For the prawn blinis you will need:
Cucumber, cherry tomatoes, prawns (larger ones are better), coriander spring onions, blinis, sweet chilli sauce, tomato puree and soy sauce.
As above, check cooking times for the blinis.
To start in a frying pan add the prawns, a tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce, a tablespoon of soy sauce and a little tomato puree. 
Put on a medium high heat until the prawns are cooked and the sauce starts to thicken and become sticky. Once cooked, leave aside to cool a little.
Whilst the prawns are cooling peel the skin from the cucumber and cut a thin slice, place this on the blini first.
Cut a thin slice of the cherry tomato and pop on top.
Next add a prawn with a little of the reduced sauce and place a couple of thinly slices spring onion on top. 
Finish off with a coriander leaf for flavour and colour and then enjoy!
This one is a little bit more technical but definitely worth the effort.

These would both be perfect for a little taster with the family on Christmas Day or for any festive party you may be hosting. Either way, enjoy and I hope you have a lovely Christmas!

J xxx

Thursday, 13 November 2014

This week I got a bit fruity & baked two yummy items.
The first was one of my own modified recipes for an apple & blackberry tart.
My parents went out picking for sloes for their annual Christmas sloe gin & came across lots of lovely blackberries too.
With these I paired some scrumptious apples & cinnamon and produced these little individual tarts.
These just remind me of autumn winter & would go well with a glass of mulled wine!

See the recipe below...

It was also pie week on the great british bake off & I thought I would try Luis' tropical fruit tart.
I thought this bake was actually not too hard to try, the hardest part was trying to cut the mango into lovely little slices! I'm not sure they are all that even but still looks fruity!

Please see Luis' recipe here!

Apple & Blackberry Individual Tarts
Makes about 8 small tarts.


For the pastry:
450g Plain Flour
220g Unsalted Butter
160g Caster Sugar
2 Large Eggs
50ml Semi-Skimmed Milk

For the filling:
1kg Bramley Apples, peeled, cored & diced.
400g Blackberries
140g Caster Sugar
1tsp Ground Cinnamon

1 Egg
2tbsp Semi-Skimmed Milk

1. In a large bowl, whisk the butter & sugar together until light and fluffy.

2. Sieve in the flour, then break in the egg and mix well. When it starts to come together, add in enough milk to make it into a ball that is smooth but not sticky in texture.

3. Tip out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and press out with your hands until it is around 1 inch thick. Then cover in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4. Whilst your pastry is chilling, you can start to make the filling. Put the diced apples into a large heatproof bowl and microwave on the highest setting for 3 minutes. Mix in the blackberries, suagr, cinnamon, a pinch of salt & 2tbsp of flour. Mix well and set aside to cool.

5. Preheat your oven to 190°c.

6. Take your pastry out the fridge and lightly flour your work surface. Cut off  1 third of the pastry and set aside for later. Roll out the rest of the pastry until it is about 5mm thick.

7. Next line your tartlet cases with the pastry and make sure you leave some over hang. (Do not be tempted to neaten your edges before baking as the pastry will shrink.) Cut out squares of baking parchment the same size as your cases. Then screw the paper up into a ball and then pull open, this will help the baking beans get right into the corners. Pour in your baking beans and bake for 15 minutes.

8. Take your tray out the oven and remove the baking paper & beans. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes or until golden brown.

9. When baked, take out the cases, trim your edges with a sharp knife and leave to cool. When cool, fill the cases with your filling and you can be over generous with this as it shrinks during baking.

10. Next roll out the remaining pastry to the same depth as previous. You then need to cut 6 x 1 cm strips per tart, these will form the weaved top. Weave the strips, three horizontally & three vertically. Press down the ends into the cooked pastry and then brush the top with your beaten egg & milk.

11. Bake for 45minutes or until golden brown on top and the filling is bubbling. 
Leave to cool and then sprinkle with some more caster sugar.



Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Next up on my baking journey, I attempted a filled loaf. 
This didn't really go to plan, I had a massive issue with the use of yeast.
For some unknown reason, I just could not figure it out.
Then catching up on a bake off master class, I released I had done an ultimate baking no no.
I put the salt on top of the yeast, I believe this deactivates it? Which is why I got no rise!
Still with this set back, the final product actually looked quite good & was rather tasty.

This recipe is by Richard from The Great British Bake Off & after I tweeted a photo of my creation, the man himself tweeted back! Claim to baking fame!
I would give this recipe an 7 in terms of difficulty.
There are lots of different elements to get right, with the dough, structure & filling.
However if you follow all the instructions, he has made it fairly easy to follow & as I had never baked any bread before this, I think the outcome was okay!

For the recipe, please see this link.

Have a go & enjoy!

J. x

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Firstly, I would like to deeply apologise for my long term absence.
However they do say absence makes the heart grow fonder?
I have never been one to see the point in writing something just for the sake of writing. 
Not that I am making excuses; but that is obviously what I am doing! 
If I am being completely honest I have just been lazy, started a new job, with new hours & new pressure. Then when my beautiful days off came around, all I wanted to do was catch up on my favourite programs, eat & nap! 
It wasn't until late this summer when one of my favourite programs returned to our screens, the great british bake off. I finally started doing something constructive with my spare time & it turns out I rather quite enjoy making scrumptious items of joy.
Whilst watching the first episode, I made a silly agreement with my parents to bake something from each week. They would decide which item & I would decide on the flavours.
Now this seemed a rather silly deal to be making as I cannot really call myself a baker. Prior to this I had only really baked cupcakes & I could not tell the difference between a buttercream & a ganache. 
However I was totally ready for a new challenge in my life. Now I am around 10 weeks or so into my journey & even though the bake off finished some weeks ago, I am still going strong. 
It also turns out that I seem to be pretty good at this whole baking thing, (well at least that is what my friends & family have told me). 
I now have no idea what I would do on my days off if I wasn't baking. I started off following recipes, however as my confidence started to build I tweaked recipes that I had found & even created my own! I started writing & photographing everything I had baked & wanted to create some sort of scrapbook with my recipes. Then on a chilly morning in November, I wondered if perhaps anyone else would be interested in recreating anything I had baked. 
It was there & then that I decided to publish my kitchen adventures to the world.
So here I am, with my first baking post & I hope you enjoy.

I have started off fairly simply with a Raspberry Swiss Roll. This took two tries as the first time, my sponge cracked when rolling was attempted. 
The recipe is as below & comes from the delightful, The Hummingbird Bakery, Home Sweet Home cookbook.


For the Sponge:
4 Eggs, separated
180g Caster Sugar
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
120g Plain Flour
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt

For the Filling:
160g Raspberry Jam (or flavour of choice)
Icing Sugar for dusting

1. Preheat your oven to 180°c & line your swiss roll tin with baking parchment.

2. With an electric whisk, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff & set aside. 

3. Using your whisk again, in another bowl mix the egg yolks until they turn pale. 
Gradually add the caster sugar & vanilla extract while still mixing, mix until pale & fluffy.

4. Sift together the flour, baking powder & salt. 
Add these ingredients to the beaten egg yolks & fold in until combined. 
Next, gently fold in the egg whites to the batter.

5. Pour the batter into your prepared tin & make sure it is an even thickness all over. 
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the sponge is a light golden-brown colour.

6. Next, prepare a sheet of baking parchment & dust with icing sugar. 
Loosen the edges of the cake & invert the sponge onto the paper.

7. With the cake in-between both layers of the baking parchment, begin to roll the sponge from the narrow end. Roll all the way up & then cool on a rack with the seam side down.

8. Once cooled, carefully unroll & then peel away the paper. 
Next, spread the raspberry jam over the inside of the sponge & re-roll without the paper.

9. Lastly you are free to decorate as you wish! 
I sprinkled with icing sugar & used fresh raspberries on my first attempt. 
On my second one I used some popping candy & gold edible glitter. 
The options are endless.

 Bon App├ętit!

J. x

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