The Easter Countdown – Scrumdidlyumptious Bars

28 Mar

Scrumdiddlyumptious bars

When I was brainstorming ideas for this Easter Countdown I decided I wanted to try and feature some fantastic easter presents. My original plan was a Faberge Easter egg. How fantastic would that be! Well great plan, turns out I couldn’t find an appropriate Easter egg mould and I didn’t trust my own ability to deocrate to the level of Faberge and then I hit upon it. Scrumdidlyumptious Bars.

You know Willy Wonka!

It just so happens that Monsieur From Scratch is a connoisseur of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which makes this a perfect idea.  Anyway I decided instead of Easter Eggs for all my beloved Family I would make them Scrumddidlyumptious Bars. The issue here – what is a Scrumddidlyumptious Bar? All I seem to know is that – I don’t ask a fish how it swims, or a bird how it flies, no siree I don’t.

The real question is – can I take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew, cover it with chocolate and a miracle or too – and make the perfect bar of Chocolate.

Well I may not be a Candy Man, but I certainly know this, everyones tastes differ so the only way to get to the bottom of my family’s perfect Chocolate bar? Simple… Just ask!

Scrumddidlyuptious kit

And here are the results:

  1. White Chocolate (read Milkybar) with Raisins and Nuts
  2. A mix of Milk and White chocolate flowing in ribbons with juicy Raisins, bubbles of Praline with some Honey crisp bits with caverns of soft Caramel
  3. Orange Chocolate with Hazelnuts
  4. Dark Chocolate with Almonds and Cointreau
  5. Layers of Nougat, Caramel and Biscuit, covered in milk Chocolate with an embeded champagne truffle – This one even came with an instructional  drawing

Dans Chocolate Bar

As you can see a varying degree of challenges, but all well worth attempting.

SO can I mix it with love and make the world taste good?

Find out tomorrow! (Don’t you just love a cliff hanger)

In the meantime why not get planning your perfect chocolate bars, all you really need is some chocolate to melt (I am planning to use a thin loaf tin for my chocolate mould) and some goodies to place in it. That way you will have the perfect Easter gifts.

The Easter Countdown – Hot Cross Brioche Buns

27 Mar

Hot Cross Brioche Buns 1

Wowee isn’t this fun! A slice of easter everyday is making me feel like I am on holiday again, and I’m not even going to mention the weather because I don’t care anymore (oops… well it doesn’t count if you’re saying your not going to say anything – you know what I mean).

After tackling chocolate and cake I felt it was high time to pay a visit to one of my best friends of the season – the Hot Cross Bun. I literally can’t live without these bountiful fruit based beauties, so much so that in my proper year From Scratch – you know the one, the one when I actually made everything I ate from scratch … remember now? Excellent, well that year I made them because I needed them. Beyond anything else I craved Hot Cross Buns. Hopefully you understand why they had to make there way into my countdown.

Good, I’m glad were on the same page.

You can get my classic Hot Cross Buns here

HCBB2

SO after all of that ramble I decided I didn’t want to just revisit Hot Cross Buns and make them again but just take better photos I wanted to do something a bit different. I toyed with Hot Cross Biscuits, Hot Cross Foccacia and Hot Cross Brioche. All originally chosen as I thought they would be cheats versions of Hot Cross Buns e.g. getting that delicious flavour without spending hours waiting for things to rise. After much mental deliberation I decide on the Brioche. Since then I have seen a lovely looking Hot Cross Biscuits recipe here. And have thought about how cool a Hot Cross Foccacia would be – If you have made this/ do make this, let me know how it goes.

But I decided on Brioche.

Not sure if this was the best decision in hindsight – flavour wise it was spot on, time wise not so much. You know all those hours I didn’t want to spend waiting for things to rise. It turns out Brioche, like the Hot Cross Bun, is a patient food. I kinda knew this but conveniently forgot, so when I woke up this morning thinking I would pop my brioche in the oven and 30mins later have breakfast, I was very wrong. Instead I had to leave it for a hour and ½ to rise and then bake it. Which meant annoyingly instead of sitting down and savouring warm brioche goodness I had to rush out of the house with a burnt tongue. Nonetheless don’t let this put you off. Hot Cross Brioche Buns are yummy!

Have I won you over? Ignore all my moaning, set a few hours aside and make these bad boys. And if you make too many and don’t get through them all…Hello Hot Cross Brioche Bread and Butter Pudding! Yes indeed, I went there!

Enough rambling more recipes… so without further ado

Hot Cross Brioche Buns HCbb4

Ingredients

250g strong white bread flour

1tsp mixed spice

1 tsp fast action yeast

1/2tsp salt

35ml warm milk

3 eggs beaten

175g butter ( leave it out for a while so it is room temperature)

20g sugar

50g raisins

Method

  1. Place flour, mixed spice, yeast and salt in a bowl ( be careful not mix the salt and the yeast as the salt will kill your yeast)
  2. Mix in the milk and eggs, either knead together by hand or mix in processor with dough blade
  3. Continue to knead until you have a smooth elastic dough ( about 15mins)
  4. In another bowl mix the butter and sugar together in bowl, then add to the to your dough a spoonful at a time. Kneed the butter in until you have a smooth shiny dough ( this is much easier in a food processor – as it can get fairly gooey!)
  5. Once all the butter is combined and you have a smooth and shiny dough place in a bowl and cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for two hours
  6. Knock back and knead your raisins into your dough. Place back in the bowl, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for at least six hours ( I left mine over night)
  7. Go to sleep ( you don’t have to, but its a good way to spend your ‘rising’ time)
  8. Get back up ( hurray you are awake)
  9. Shape your dough into buns and place side by side on a baking sheet
  10. To create your cross mix 3tbsp of plain flour with 3tbsp of water, this should create a paste, and then spoon a cross onto your buns
  11. Leave to rise for another hour to double in size
  12. Preheat the oven to 200c
  13. Once your buns have doubled in size place in the oven and bake for 10 mins, turn the oven down to 180C and bake for a further 10 mins
  14. Once bake remove from the oven and leave to cool for as long as you can resist

You see what I mean now, it’s a slow process, but I promise you well worth the time.

HCBB3

I hope you are enjoying the Easter countdown as much as me – let me know what you think and what your favourite post has been so far.

I would love to know what you are all planning to make this Easter and leave a comment and let me know what you will be treating yourself to.

The Easter Countdown – Simnel Bunnies

26 Mar

SImnel Bunnies 1

Simnel cake at easter has long been a tradition in my house. We all really like fruit cake and, for the most part, marzipan, so you can imagine that Simnel cake would go down a treat. However when I was young I would always look at it and think … nah I will have chocolate instead. So this year I have decided to make Simnel cake child friendly, chadult friendly (that’s an adult who enjoys childish things e.g. me) and just a bit more fun.

I spent a couple of hours the other night pinning a load of easter inspiration and it reminded me there is a lot more to easter than chocolate eggs. For example daffodiles, chicks, rabbits, hot cross buns, woven baskets, tulips…. I could go on. And it made me think why not go crazy and make Simnel bunnies. Boom! How great is that. Bitesize Simnel treats that are fun to make and look really cool. What’s not to love.

I experimented and it happened. So hop on down and get your bunny on!

Oh and I couldn’t resist making a miniature Simnel cake as well for everyone to admire. Because let’s face it, Easter ain’t Easter without Simnel.

Simnel Bunnies

Ingredients

for the cake

4 oz butter

4 oz golden caster sugar/ soft brown

2 eggs

4oz plain flour

¼ tsp baking powder

1/2tsp mixed spice

8oz dried fruit mix ( sultanas, currants, raisins, mixed peel)

Zest ½ lemon

for decoration

500g of Marzipan either store bought or homemade almond Icing

Black writing icing

Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 180C degrees. Cream your butter and sugar together in a bowl
  2. Beat the eggs and add them to the mixture bit by bit. Add the mixed spice and baking powder to your flour and add to the mixture
  3. Mix in dried fruit and lemon zest, stir until everything is combined
  4. Place into tin and bake for approx 35mins ( I baked this in large muffin tins – so if you are using a larger pan the cooking time may differ – so keep your eyes on it)
  5. Remove from oven and leave to cool
  6. Once fairly cool, crumble into a bowl. Work the mixture with your hands until you have a bowl of crumbs
  7. Squeeze Crumbs into eggs shapes – about a 1tbsp at a time and leave to sit for 15 minsSImnel B 2
  8. Make your marzipan and roll out so it is about the thickness of a pound coin , cut into circles
  9. Wrap the marzipan around your egg shapes and join at the bottom, you have to be a bit forceful but they will keep their shape
  10. Shape ears out of marzipan and a small bobble for the tail, attach using a bit of cooled boiled water
  11. Then draw your face on. Repeat until you have a whole host of rabbits ( this recipe yields about 8 big or 12 smaller rabbits)

Alternatively to make a mini Simnel Cake

Mini Simnel

  1. Repeat recipe from above until baking, place a spoonful of mixture into your muffin case/pan, then add a circle of marzipan about 2mm thick, then add another spoonful of mixture
  2. Bake in the oven for approx 45 mins (again check according to pan size – I used a wooden skewer)
  3. Once cooked remove from the oven and leave to cool
  4. To decorate rollout a thin circle of marzipan for the top and then create 11 mini balls to sit on the cake. You can either serve as it is or place under the grill for about 20 seconds to brown the top slightly

And that’s it, Simnel in a whole new light.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Hot Cross Brioche Buns.

Happy Easter Bunnies

(if the bunnies aren’t moving, click the picture to see them hop!)

The Easter Countdown – Easter Nests

25 Mar

Easter Nests 1

Spring is on its way and whether the sun deigns to show its face is of little consequence. As of today I am counting down to easter,  so I can only conclude one thing it is spring. No arguments.

As a result I am slowly filling my house with daffodils and the tastes of easter.

Easter is one of the funnest baking times. I know you can cook other dishes at easter but let’s face it why bother with that when there is chocolate. Amazing,wonderful, delicious chocolate, the best food source ever invented e.g. if you could live of chocolate I would. Did I tell you I love chocolate? Well I do. So in homage to the greatest food in the world I wanted to start my easter countdown properly. There was no doubt in my mind where I was going… Easter Nests!

Easter Nests 2

Yes those childhood favourites, that you are never too old for. I have never seen anyone turn down an easter nest whatever there age. What’s not to love, cereal, chocolate, golden syrup, butter and MINI EGGS!

Today I had my first mini egg of the year and it was everything I knew it would be crunchy, chocolatey with a slight hint of vanilla. Joy of all joys. I could write this whole post on mini eggs, the packaging the little speckled parts, if there were hens who laid mini eggs, I would start a farm.

So that’s where we are – chocolate amazing, mini eggs amazing, easter amazing.

If you think you don’t have time for easter treats and are planning to buy all your chocolatey treats from the supermarket think again. If you make one thing – make these. They are so simple, so quick and guarantee you love from every guest at your house over the easter period whether they be 8 or 80. So get out those fairy cases and lets get cracking.

Chocolate Easter Nests 

Ingredients 

200g Chocolate

2 tbsp Golden Syrup

2 ½ tbsp Butter

300g Corn Flakes/ Rice Krispies/ Shredded Wheat

1 packet of Mini Eggs

Method

  1. In a double boiler ( a glass bowl resting in a pan of boiling water) melt your chocolate, butter and golden syrup. Word of advice chocolate can burn so continuously stir this mixture and keep a good eye out. I personally like to remove the bowl from the pan when there are still a few soft lumps and melt the rest with continual stirring
  2.  Pour in your corn flakes and mix until everything is covered, do this bit by bit so you don’t get overwhelmed
  3. Spoon the mixture into cases, pop some mini eggs on top and leave to cool in the fridge for about an hour, then you are ready to go. Easter treats here we come!

Easter Nests 3

I told simple and delicious. I have already eaten about five in the time it has taken me to write this post, so be prepared, serve this with a decent slice of self discipline if you want any left for other people.

Tomorrow I am making my take on a Simnel cake – trust me it’s exciting. So be there or be square!

Food in Technicolour

22 Mar

PRP3

I have landed … in grey England. In my head I had expected to get back to Spring time, warmer weather, sunshine and the start of colour. Instead I felt like I was doing a dorothy in reverse, going from Technicolour to black and white.

My first reaction – Hibernate.  In short I spent 10 hours in bed and then got up and baked some banana muffins.

Whilst I felt more human again, it didn’t really get rid of the nagging feeling that I wanted more colour in my life.

So now time for tactic number two – pretend like it is spring. I have written about acting as if, a few times before and it certainly has helped me hold on to that sunshine. So other than listening to my summer playlist and a load of beach boy songs, I have been in the kitchen trying to recreate some of my favourite Mauritian dishes.

One of the best things about Mauritius is the food. They amazing diverse options, from Mine Frit to Dahlpuri and Roti Chaud, Fresh Pineapple with Chillies to Neapolitan. Everything is so flavoursome, Mauritius is a place where bland doesn’t seem to exist.

So the question was what to tackle first. I decided on my favourite meal, Prawn Rougaille with Pumpkin and Roti. I love this meal it is the perfect combination of flavours and a real joy to eat. Even though I have seen this made so many times and eaten on a lot of occasions I have never attempted it myself and was a bit daunted by trying it out. I think it’s because I know how it should taste, so I had a pretty high bench mark with which to compare myself to.

How did it go you ask? Well not quite up to Mauritian standards but for a first attempt it was pretty delicious so I feel it was worth sharing.

So on these increasingly grey and cold days if you need sunshine lift I really recommend get in the kitchen and bringing some colour.

Prawn Rougaille 

Ingredients

1 Onion

1 Red Chilli

thumb size piece of Ginger

2 gloves of Garlic

handful of Coriander

handful of fresh Thyme

tin of Plum Tomatoes

1 packet of cooked Prawns

Method

  1. Heat some oil in a pan and add chopped onion, chilli, garlic and ginger, fry off for a few minutes until softened, then add finely chopped coriander
  2. Then add the thyme and plum tomatoes, and cook for about 15 mins
  3. Finally add the prawns to the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook for a further 5 mins until cooked

RPR2

Pumpkin Puree

Ingredients

The flesh of ½ a Butternut Squash or ¼ regular size Pumpkin

1 Red Chilli

2 cloves Garlic

1 Onion finely chopped

thumb size piece of Ginger

handful of Thyme

Sugar to taste

Method

  1. Heat some oil in a pan and fry the onion, chilli, garlic, ginger and some thyme for a few mins
  2. Chop the squash or pumpkin into fairly small chunks and add to the pan, stir for a few
  3. Next add a generous teaspoon of water to the pan, cover with a lid and leave to cook for 15 mins or until the pumpkin has softened (Note: the water is just there to help create a bit of steam, you don’t want anything to boil – so make sure you only add a dash, but keep checking your pan and giving it a stir to allow the pumpkin to cook evenly)
  4. Once the pumpkin has softened add the leaves of rest of the thyme, season with salt and pepper, stir your mixture and then mash until you have the right consistency
  5. Finally add about 1 and ½ tsp of sugar so you have a dash of sweetness ( or less/ more depending on how sweet you like it) then it is ready to serve

RPR1

I suggest serving this with Rice or a hot Roti, it is an absolutely delicious combination.

A perfect dash of Technicolour in a drab and grey world.

On another note it is nearly Easter, so get prepared some some chocolatey delights next week. Hurray!

Paradise and Cupcakes

10 Mar

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

So you might have guessed from the lack of posts over the last few weeks that I am not in my usual routine. Well if you did, you were right. I am in fact on Holiday! (hurray!) So for the next week or so it might be a bit quiet. However I didn’t want to leave you all in the lurch- so seeing as I am having a break I thought I would share one of my recent cupcake successes to make you all feel a bit better about me being here:

Mautitius 1
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Ginger Biscuit Goodness

22 Feb

Ginger Cookies

Now I know that everyone is after healthy recipes to keep that New Year, New You goodness going. But this week I could resist making a batch of ginger and oatmeal cookies.  I don’t feel to bad about this because they are part of my whole spread the love through little things campaign that  I am currently working on. And I only ate one. The rest were devoured by others. See I am practically a saint. So if you are trying to be healthy, why not make these as a treat for someone else, or just treat yourself because it is so darn cold and quite frankly they go down mighty well with a cup of tea.

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