21 February 2009

Jammy coconut mallows

It's no secret that I love baking and one of my favourite parts of baking is taking something old fashioned and easily bought in any shop and recreating it at home. For example I am always baking biscuits and lets be honest, unlike cakes and puddings, it is very easy to buy in good quality biscuits very cheaply, especially here in Britain, we love our biscuits here.
Custard creams, digestives and shortbread are firm family favourites and you can buy them in any corner shop but nothing compares to the real deal.

Flicking through this months Good food magazine I came across these mallow biscuits, a reworking on a old fashioned favourite. The original versions were a square shortbread biscuit covered in two rows of coconut dusted mini mallows with a row of raspberry jam running down the centre.
This recipe makes coconut biscuits sandwich together with jam and melted marshmallows, the biscuits are then rolled in jam and coconut, a new twist on a old favourite....a taste of my childhood.

Jammy coconut mallows

For the biscuits:
250g butter, softened
140g golden caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g plain flour
100g desiccated coconut
For the middles and coating:
about 175g raspberry jam
18 large pink and white marshmallows, cut in half across the middle
25g desiccated coconut

Heat oven to 190c/ gas 5.
Beat butter, sugar, egg and vanilla together with a pinch of salt until smooth. Fold in the flour and coconut to form a dough.

On a floured surface, shape the dough into a round, then roll to the thickness of a £1 coin. Cut into rounds using a 6cm cutter. Lift onto baking sheets, then bake for 14 minutes until light golden. Cool for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

To sandwich the biscuits, lay half out on a baking sheet, under-side up. Put half a teaspoon of jam on each one, and top with a piece of marshmallow, then bake for 2 1/2 minutes or until just melted. Remove from oven, then quickly top with the other biscuits, pressing down so that the marshmallow sticks them together and just oozes out.
Cool for 10 minutes. Put the coconut and remaining jam onto plates, dip the edges in the jam, them roll in the coconut.

These really took me back and boy, were they popular, more so with the adults than the children. These biscuits will be a regular in my biscuit tin

17 February 2009

Raisin and cinnamon milk loaf

I came to bake this bread by chance really, I set out to make the Cornish saffron bread from Rachel Allen's Bake.
This recipe intrigued me as it uses warm milk infused with saffron to give a lovely colour to the loaf. The only problem was that on eating this loaf I discovered that I have a intolerance (I don't like to use the term allergy here) to saffron.
Weeks ago I developed a ever so slight rash on my face (after eating paella) it faded quickly and I thought nothing of it, until now. As soon as the loaf was cooked and had cooled enough to eat I took a slice, withing minutes the same rash again developed on my face. Trying to convince myself that I do not have a saffron intolerance I later ate another slice, as you do, and the rash worsened. It covered my whole face, so saffron is now off the menu at my house.
However, apart from giving me a nasty rash we all thought the bread was very good, it had a different texture to regular bread, I put this down to the milk and my daughter commented that the crust was delicious, she hates homemade bread crusts. My only gripe with the recipe was it needed a extra something....cinnamon.
So, the following day I made the loaf again, I omitted the saffron, and instead infused the milk with a cinnamon stick, and added ground cinnamon to the flour. I also used a smaller tin than the one Rachel recommends. The loaf was perfect.

Raisin and cinnamon milk loaf

350g strong white flour, sifted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
50g caster sugar
100g butter, softened
75g raisins
1/2 cinnamon stick
200ml cold milk
1 x 7g sachet of fast acting yeast

1 lb loaf tin.

Grease and line the loaf tin.
Place flour, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl, mix well. Rub in the butter, until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the rasins.
In a small saucepan, bring the cinnamon stick and milk to the boil over a low heat. Remove from the heat, cool to body temperature, remove the cinnamon stick, then add the fast acting yeast.
Pour liquid into the dry ingredients, mix well then knead for 10 minutes.
Place in a large bowl, cover, and leave to rise until it had doubled in size.
Knock back the dough, knead again and place in the prepared tin. Cover again and leave to rise for another hour.
Preheat oven to 180c/ gas mark 4, when the dough has doubled in size bake it in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

I must admit I did prefer the second version of this bread and will make it again. I love the idea of using warm milk in the dough, the dough was fabulous to knead, in fact to look at, it reminded me of choux pastry, it had a lovely feel. The cooked bread had the texture, almost, of brioche, so, so light and fluffy. A perfect fruity loaf.

13 February 2009

Half term baking - Valentine's cookies

It's half term here and with the weather looking decidedly bleak the obvious way to kill a few hours is with some home baking, Valentine's day is a obvious theme right now. Cut out cookies it was to be but the 'problem' with cut out cookies and children is that children love to 'play' with their piece of dough. It gets rolled, shaped, crumpled up, re-rolled, re-shaped and so on after a while it becomes tough and inedible - for the children - personally I don't eat the re-rolled creations, I simple admire the work of my little angels.
In my quest to find a good workable, child friendly dough I tried a much recommended one from Martha Stewart, her sugar cookies. This dough was great, I found it a little wet to start with and added a extra 3/4 cup of flour but apart from that it was a dream to work with. We started off with heart shaped cookies, moving onto champagne flutes - quite fitting for Valentine's day, before long my son was cutting out palm trees and flamingos - wishful thinking for a drab and dreary February.

Sugar cookies
from The Martha Stewart cookbook
Makes approx. 2 dozen cookies

2 cups of all purpose flour (I needed a extra 3/4 cup)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 pound butter, softened
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp brandy - I swapped for milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together the dry ingredients. In a electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light; add the egg, brandy and vanilla and beat well. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time and mix until well blended
Wrap and chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling.
Preheat the oven to 400f. On a lightly floured board, roll out one third of the dough at a time. Roll to about 1/8inch thick and cut out with cookie cutters. Put shaped on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Do not allow to burn. Cool on racks.

Decorate as your children choose to do so.

This dough was incredible, very robust but still came out of the oven light and crisp, they went down a storm, a great recipe.