Maybe it’s this food blogging lark but my cupboards always seem to have packets of dried fruit, nuts and seeds in them with just a few spoonfuls left in each. Ordinarily I’d toss them into some granola but Mr C and I recently made a […]
I’m almost certain that homemade bread is good for the soul. The process of making the dough, the smell as it bakes and that first taste when it’s fresh from oven – it really does make me feel good. I love making a batch of something like this to indulge in over long weekend breakfasts.
I know that cardamom buns are a speciality in Sweden, particularly for fika (that’s a coffee break to you and I) but the only place I’ve ever actually tried one was in London so I’m not even going to pretend that these are in any way authentic. In fact they’re so in-authentic that I’ve adapted my recipe for coconut buns, which uses a tang zhong (roux) in the dough, but they are incredibly delicious! It’s the roux that makes these buns so deliciously soft and moist. Make it by simply combining 25g of bread flour with 100ml of water in a pan and cooking it until it becomes nice and thick. Leave it to cool before incorporating it into the dough mixture.
400g strong white bread flour
big pinch of salt
2 tsp instant yeast (1 sachet)
70ml warm milk
70ml warm water
40g butter (melted)
100g softened butter
25-30 green cardamom pods
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pearl sugar to finish (optional)
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and whisk in the salt, sugar and yeast. In a separate jug whisk together the melted butter, milk, water, egg and the cooled roux. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the liquid mixture. Combine to form a soft dough and knead until it is smooth and springy. You can do this either by hand or with an electric mixer but to be honest the dough is so nice to work with that it’s very therapeutic to do it by hand.
Wash and dry the bowl to make it lovely and warm and then lightly oil it (use something flavourless.) Wipe a large piece of cling-film around the bowl to oil that too. Pop the dough into the bowl and loosely cover it with the cling-film and then leave it somewhere draught-free to rise until it has doubled in size, this should take about an hour.
Whilst the dough is doing its thing you can make the filling. Use a pestle and mortar to crack open the cardamom pods, remove the black seeds and discard the husks. Crush the seeds and coarsely grind them. Cream together the butter, sugar and spice to make a nice soft paste. Take the dough out of the bowl and pop it on a lightly floured surface. Give it a quick knead to knock some of the air out of it. Divide it into two even pieces. Roll each one out into a rectangle, about 14″x 10″. With the long edge facing you spread the filling over the lower half of each piece of dough before folding the top down to cover it. Press the edges to seal it and give it another quick roll. Cut each rectangle into six even pieces, slicing from top to bottom, then take each piece and cut it in half vertically stopping just short of the top so that the two strips remain joined. Twist the strips around each other and then into a knot, tucking the ends underneath. Place them on a lightly greased baking tray, spacing them well apart. I used two trays and put six on each. Lightly cover the buns and leave them to rise again for another hour.
Pre-heat your oven to 180°c. Once the buns have puffed up and risen, uncover them and brush them with a little milk before sprinkling on some pearled sugar (or Demerara) and bake them for 20-25 minutes, until they have a soft crust and are golden brown.
So you’ve heard of lemon drizzle cake right? Well soak cake is what happens when you make a little too much delicious drizzling syrup and don’t want to waste any of it! Seriously, this cake is literally drenched in deliciously fragrant, sweet, sticky syrup. Because […]
I’ve never been much of one for rich dark fruit cake. I love dried fruit but I always find fruit cakes to be a bit too sweet and full-on. Something like this is much more my cup of tea, more cake than fruit and a lighter cake at that. It’s no-where near as rich as a dark fruit cake but there’s still plenty of flavour.
The sweet marsala wine is delicious in this if you don’t want to invest in a bottle then golden rum is a good alternative or if you don’t want the booze at all then a little orange juice will do the job.
Dusting the cherries in a little flour before adding them to the mix will help to stop them from sinking to the bottom of cake as it bakes.
3 tbsp marsala (see note above)
50g pine nuts
100g butter, softened
175g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
25g ground almonds
75g glace cherries, halved
3 tbsp milk
Demerara sugar to finish
Combine the sultanas and the marsala in a small pan and gently heat for a few minutes before setting a side for 30 minutes, this will help the fruit to plump up. Grease and line a spring-form cake tin and pre-heat your oven to 180°c.
Sift together the flour and baking powder. Put the butter, sugar, almonds and flour into a mixing bowl and beat it until it is well combined. Drain the fruit (setting the soaking liquid to one side) and mix this into the mixture along with 40g of the pine nuts.
Whisk together the soaking liquid, eggs and milk and then beat this into the dry mixture to form a soft cake batter. Fold through the cherries and then pour the batter into the prepared tin. Level off the top and sprinkle it with a little demerara sugar and the last of the pine nuts to give the finished cake a nice crunchy top.
Bake the cake for about 30 minutes and then carefully open the oven door and cover the top with foil. Bake the cake for a further 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the cake clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack.
I’m a bit funny about frosting, I find it can be a bit hit or miss. All too often it’s too sweet and sugary or it can be grainy rather than silky smooth, or worst of all it can become crusty with a hard sugar shell forming around a squishy middle.
Swiss meringue buttercream is wonderful and avoids all of these pitfalls but it does take rather a lot of time and effort, not to mention egg whites!
This recipe is my new favourite. It solves all of my frosting issues in one. It’s rich and silky, without even a hint of graininess and it isn’t overly sweet. It also feels seriously luxurious in spite of the fact that it requires less butter than some other frosting recipes. It really is an all round winner!
I baked up half the quantity of the sponge from my chocolate caramel fudge cake to pipe this on, let’s face it if you’re making the best chocolate frosting ever then you want to serve it with equally amazing cake!
makes enough to frost 6-8 cupcakes but multiplies easily
15g plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour
1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
50g dark chocolate
100g butter, room temperature
Place the sugar, flour, cornflour and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and whisk together to combine. Stir in the milk and then set the pan over a low heat. Gently heat the mixture, stirring continuously, until it starts to bubble and forms a very thick custard. Set aside to cool completely.
Melt the chocolate and let this cool too.
Put the custard mixture in a bowl and beat it with an electric mixer until it become a little more pale in colour. Beat in the melted chocolate and then follow this with the butter, adding a little at a time until it is all incorporated and you have a light, thick, fluffy frosting which is perfect for piping.