Gingerbread and Cranberry Linzer Cookies

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I made these for exam marking, trust me, nobody’s favourite time of year! Obviously, this called for some festive cheer to get us through the hundreds of exam papers we needed to mark. I decided to make a variation on the Austrian Linzer Torte which is characterised by almonds and preserves. This gingerbread cookie is also made from almonds and the preserve is a very festive cranberry and orange combination.  The Linzer cookies went down well and we are already half way through the marking. I found this recipe on:  http://www.wholebiteblog.com/new-blog/2016/11/22/gingerbread-cranberry-linzer-cookies

 

Ingredients  (Makes 2 dozen)

75g whole almonds

85g cup dark brown sugar

225g unsalted butter, softened

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 tablespoons molasses (I used black treacle)

350g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

    1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

For the Filling

85g soft brown sugar

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Zest of one orange

gingerbread-and-cranberry-linzer

 Instructions 

Toast almonds in a small dry pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until they turn golden brown and smell nutty. Rub the nuts in a kitchen towel to remove any loose skins, then transfer to a food processor. 

Pulse the almonds and half the brown sugar in a food processor until finely ground and sandy. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and remaining brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the nut mixture and beat 1 minute longer. Scrape down the bowl and beat in the treacle and vanilla. Scrape one more time and add the egg. Mix until fully combined. 

Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, whisking to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix on low until just combined. Form the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine cranberries, brown sugar, orange juice and zest in a saucepan over a low heat. Cook and stir for 3 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until the berries have burst and the mixture has thickened, 8-10 minutes. Be sure to scrape the bottom as you stir to prevent from sticking and burning. Let the filling cool completely

Preheat oven to 190/180/Gas 5. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or non-stick baking mats. Roll out the chilled dough on a well floured surface to between 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can and transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch of space between each. Using a smaller cutter, cut our the centre of half of the cookies. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Reroll the remaining dough and repeat the process. If you want more of a biscuit texture, bake for longer.

Once the cookies are cooled, spread a spoonful of jam on the bottom side of a whole cookie. Sandwich together with a cut out cookie. Make sure not to add too much jam or it will ooze out the sides. About 1 teaspoon in the centre should do the trick. Repeat with remaining cookies. 

gingerbread-and-cranberry-linzer-cookies

 

Tangerine and Marzipan Muffins

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These muffins just scream Christmas to me, but of course in a very stylish and elegant way.  I love marzipan, but for those of you who don’t, the flavour is not overwhelming. Though I am also a fan of any of the small winter citrus fruits and always expect to find one in my Christmas stocking, I find oranges easier to work with both in terms of zesting and juicing. If I were to make these again, which I surely will, I’m going down the orange route! The original recipe can be found here: http://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/tangerine-and-marzipan-muffins/

Ingredients

200g self-raising flour

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

50g ground almonds

75g golden caster sugar

60g flaked almonds

50g marzipan, chopped into small pieces

2 eggs beaten

150ml yogurt

4 tangerines, zested; 2 juiced or 1 large orange, juiced and zested

75ml rapeseed oil

icing sugar for the glaze

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Directions

·         Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper muffin cases.

·         Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl, then stir in the ground almonds, sugar, flaked almonds and marzipan.

·         Add the beaten eggs, yogurt, tangerine zest and oil, and stir until the mixture is just combined. It doesn’t matter if the mixture looks a bit lumpy, don’t overmix or the muffins will turn out tough. 

·         Divide the mixture between the cases and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

·         Mix the tangerine juice with a little icing sugar to make a glaze and spoon a little over each muffin.

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Pumpkin and Sage Soufflé

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I’ve never made a soufflé before as I’ve always associated them with dinner parties and stress and have seen many failed attempts on TV cookery shows. When I saw this recipe in the Sainsbury’s magazine (Oct 2016), I thought of all that leftover pumpkin I still had to use up, and despite my fears, I decided I’d give it a go. I did change of few things in the recipe, mainly because I didn’t read it carefully enough the first time round! I also made my own cheese sauce; the recipe calls for shop bought. The recipe can be found here:

 http://www.sainsburysmagazine.co.uk/recipes/mains/item/roasted-pumpkin-and-sage-souffle. The version below includes my tweaks. The original recipe was for 4 people, but I halved the quantities and still had enough mixture for 4 ramekins. I made this for Saturday lunch and served it with kale and rye bread. It was of course delicious which is why I am sharing the recipe with you.

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Ingredients

250g pumpkin or squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2cm cubes

a small handful of sage leaves

1 tbsp olive oil

10g butter, melted, to grease

15g fresh white breadcrumbs

2 medium eggs, separated

 

For the cheese sauce

10g plain flour

10g butter

200ml whole milk

30g grated cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

     Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6. Put the pumpkin or squash and sage leaves in a roasting tin, drizzle with the oil and roast for 25-30 minutes until tender and slightly golden. Blitz the roasted pumpkin including the sage in a food processor until smooth or simply mash with a fork. Spread out the mixture on a plate to cool.

      Meanwhile, brush the insides of 4 x 300ml ovenproof ramekins, mugs, teacups or with the butter and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs so the insides are thoroughly coated this helps the soufflés to rise well.

      To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a pan, add the flour and mix. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and slowly add the milk, whisking as you go. Once the milk has been incorporated, return the pan to the heat and gently simmer, stirring for about 8 minutes. The sauce should start to thicken. After the 8 minutes, add the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and just let the cheese melt. 

      Tip the cheese sauce into a large bowl. Stir in the egg yolks and cooled mashed pumpkin or squash, and season to taste.

      In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are just holding their shape, then carefully fold into the pumpkin mixture.

      Divide the mixture equally between the ramekins so it comes about 2cm below the tops. Put the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until well risen but still a bit squidgy in the centre. Serve straight away.

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Apple and Cranberry Muffins

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I love the cranberries. I love the tartness and I love the association with Christmas. These muffins are beautiful; they are lightly spiced and both sweet and tart. I have to say I did improvise a bit with this recipe as I couldn’t find half the ingredients and the measurements were in American cups. Anyhow, I think I got lucky because I can’t stop eating them!

Ingredients

110g sunflower oil

225g apples peeled and cored (I used Braeburn apples)

1 piece of pared lemon peel

juice of half a lemon

½ teaspoon cinnamon

200g soft brown sugar

50g date syrup (you could just add more sugar)

2 eggs

zest of an orange

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

225g whole wheat self raising flour

65g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 and ½ teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

200g fresh or frozen cranberries

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Directions

  • Preheat oven to 180°c/160°c/gas 4 and line a muffin tray with 12 muffin cases.
  • Make the apple sauce by cutting up the apples into small chunks and putting them in a small saucepan. Add the lemon juice, peel, cinnamon and a little water and cook for about 15 minutes on a low heat. When the apples have cooked through, take out the lemon peel and mash up the apples with the back of a fork.
  • Add the applesauce, sugar, syrup, eggs, orange zest and vanilla extract into the bowl of a free-standing mixer and mix on a medium speed until smooth.
  • In another bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: both flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and salt.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix until combined.
  • Use a rubber spatula to add the cranberries, leaving a few to put on top of the muffins.
  • Fill each of the muffin cases 3/4 full and decorate with the remaining cranberries and a sprinkle of the brown sugar.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes.

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Pumpkin and Cheese Scones

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It’s pumpkin season and they are everywhere.  The variety of pumpkins seems to be growing year on year and the choice of shapes, sizes and colours can be a bit overwhelming, but why make a choice when you can have them all; they’re pumpkins after all! So, as you can see from the photo, I’ll be making pumpkin recipes for some time to come. Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween! This recipe, originally from Sainsbury’s Magazine (October, 2016), really hits the spot. It’s a savoury, cheesy treat, perfect to eat on its own, with butter or instead of a bread roll with soup. 

Ingredients

275g peeled and deseeded pumpkin or butternut squash (about 350g unprepared weight)

225g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon smoked paprika, plus extra to dust

50g soft butter

125g mature cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

2-3 tablespoons milk, plus extra for brushing

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

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Directions

·         Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/ gas 7.

·         Chop the pumpkin into rough 2.5cm pieces and put in a microwaveable bowl with 1 tablespoon of water. Cover loosely with clingfilm and pierce in a couple of places. Microwave on high for 5-7 minutes. Drain off any water. Alternatively, wrap the pumpkin loosely in a foil parcel and bake in the oven for 45 minutes until tender.

·         Mash the pumpkin into a puree, then tip it into a sieve over a bowl for 5 minutes to drain off any excess moisture and let it cool slightly.

·         Sift the flour, baking powder and smoked paprika into a mixing bowl and season. Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in half the cheese.

·         Tip the puree into the mixing bowl and use a table knife to start to blend it into the flour mixture. Add just enough milk to bring it together as a soft, but not sticky, dough.

·         Turn out onto a floured surface and roll or pat out until 2.5cm thick. Use a 5cm cutter to stamp out scones and transfer them to a baking tray lined with baking paper. Re-form the dough to stamp out further rounds until all of it is used up. Brush each scone with a little milk and top with the remaining cheese. Gently press a few pumpkin seeds on top and dust with smoked paprika. 

·         Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until well risen and crisp. Cool slightly before eating.

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Leek & Caerphilly Crumble Tart

Leek crumble tart

I first made this tart when we were visiting my parents in France. We were renting an apartment and I decided to cook. Unfortunately, I managed to break the oven, (I was mortified and not even my dad could fix it), but luckily for us the tart was just about cooked and was delicious. It’s perfect for this time of year when we still have sunny days and the light is that beautiful autumnal gold.  

Leek Crumble tart (2)

Ingredients

400g all-butter shortcrust pastry. (I used Eric Lanlard’s recipe)

250g plain flour

1 tsp fine salt

150g unsalted butter

1 egg beaten

1 tbsp milk

For the filling

50g butter

500g leeks (about 2), trimmed and sliced

3 eggs

75ml single cream

75ml milk

1 tsp Dijon mustard

50g Caerphilly cheese, crumbled

For the topping

50g Caerphilly cheese, crumbled

85g fresh white breadcrumbs

50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

2 tbsp chopped parsley

Mini Leek Crumble Tart

Directions

To make the pastry

* Sift flour and salt into a large bowl

* Rub in the butter with your finger tips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs

* Make a well in the centre and add the egg and milk

* Use fingertips to mix and ingredients to make a dough

* Turn pastry out onto a floured surface and knead two to three times

* Cover with cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

Blind Baking

* Preheat oven to 180°c (fan 160°c)/ gas 4

* Roll pastry out and transfer onto a buttered 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin.

* Prick the pastry and chill for a further 15 minutes

* Place a large piece of grease proof paper over the case and fill it with baking beads (or in my case dried split peas).

* Cook for 10-15 minutes.

* Remove the paper and beans and cook for a further 10 minutes until the pastry is dry and crisp and the top edges of the tart are golden.

To make the filling

* Meanwhile, make the filling. Melt the butter in a large pan and, when foaming, add the leeks, cover and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes until soft. Leave to cool.

* Beat together the eggs, cream, milk, mustard, Caerphilly and some seasoning.

* Evenly cover the base of the pastry case with the leeks, then pour in the egg mixture. Bake for 25 minutes.

To make the topping

Combine all the ingredients. Remove the tart from the oven and sprinkle the topping evenly over. Return to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes until golden brown.

Blueberry, Lemon and Mint Drizzle Cake

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I made this cake for the birthday of a very dear colleague at work. I wanted to make something traditional, but not boring and in my opinion, you can never go wrong with lemon drizzle, but I wanted to do a twist on it, so this recipe was perfect. The mint drizzle was totally delicious. It was originally made in a loaf tin, but to jazz it up for a birthday, I used my heritage bundt tin. The edible flowers were from my garden, but I made the mistake of decorating the cake the night before and in the morning all the flowers had shrivelled so I had to pick some more and do it again.   The original recipe is from Delicious Magazine.

http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/blueberry-lemon-and-mint-drizzle-cake/

 

Ingredients

115g very soft butter, plus extra for greasing

25g fresh mint, leaves picked

250g fresh blueberries

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon

250g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

225g caster sugar

2 large free-range eggs

120ml whole milk

25g desiccated coconut

100g granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

White icing sugar and lemon juice

Edible flowers and the tips of mint sprigs

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Directions

  • Position a shelf in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Grease the heritage bundt baking tin.
  • Finely chop about a quarter of the mint leaves (to yield 1 tablespoon). Put the blueberries into a bowl and stir in 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice and the chopped mint, then set aside. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and caster sugar together in a large mixing bowl for 5 minutes until pale and slightly fluffy. This will be a little harder than usual because of the high proportion of sugar, but it will eventually come together and become much paler in colour. Beat in the lemon zest. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tablespoon of the sifted flour with the second egg. Add the milk gradually, folding in large spoonfuls of the remaining flour until the mixture is smooth, then fold in the desiccated coconut.
  • Spoon one-third of the cake mixture into the bottom of the prepared tin and scatter over one-third of the blueberries. Repeat twice more, ending with a layer of blueberries. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes away clean.
  • While the cake is cooking, make the topping. Put the rest of the mint leaves and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar into a mortar or small bowl and pound with the pestle or the end of a rolling pin until it forms a bright green paste. Stir in the remaining lemon juice (about 3-4 tablespoons) and leave to infuse. When the cake comes out of the oven, leave it to cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, strain the minty lemon juice through a clean tea strainer into a bowl, pressing out as much of the juice as you can. Stir in the remaining granulated sugar.
  • Spoon the minty lemon and sugar mixture over the cake and leave it to cool. Remove the cake from the tin, then sprinkle the top lightly with a little more sugar.
  • Mix the icing sugar and the lemon juice together, until you get a consistency that can be piped. You can always add more icing sugar or lemon to get the right balance.
  • Decorate by using a piping bag to pipe the icing sugar and lemon juice mixture down the ridges of the cake. Finish off by place the edible flowers and the tips of the mint springs in the ridges.

 

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