On Sunday, even though it was Mother’s Day I had a quiet day to myself. Mr SmartCookieSam was out taking part in a rally in his classic car, my son was working and my daughter is at uni. So for some of the day I was at home with the dog. I know I shouldn’t be baking as I just end up eating it but I love the whole process of it. Baking is therapeutic to me.
Last week I treated myself to Lorraine Pascale’s latest book simply titled “Bake” I have most of her books including her very first publication, also a baking book. As soon as I opened the book in the middle of Costa Coffee I was sat there drooling over the pics and mentally bookmarking what I was going to bake first.
The day after I got the book I baked some star shaped cookies but this time it was something savoury. I’ve always loved cheese scones but these ones were slightly different in that they had crispy fried pieces of cubed pancetta in the dough. I knew they would taste amazing. I had a packet of pancetta cubes in the fridge from when I was meant to make a Carbonara last week and never did. So in the end they got thrown into the scones.
First, the packet of pancetta was fried until crispy.No need for oil in the pan, I let them fry in their own fat. Once they’d cooked and were crisp, I got a paper towel out and let the fat soak into the towel to dry off.
While the pancetta was cooling down I grated some mature Cheddar into a bowl.
I then used my food processor to combine cold cubes of butter with self raising flour, baking powder, mustard powder, sea salt flakes and an optional extra to the recipe: paprika. I put a large pinch of this in. After the mixture had turned into what looked like breadcrumbs I put in 3/4 of the cheese along with some chives and the pancetta.
To bring it all together I poured in some buttermilk which was about half of a carton. This was enough to form the scones into a dough. It wasn’t sticky but the right consistency for rolling out gently.
Lorraine says her recipe makes 8 scones but I found I could only get 6 decent sized ones out of it. I often find this with scones. The recipe quantity makes far less than it’s meant to. Still six scones was more than enough for me. I used a plain circular cutter for my scones and then once cut out they were put onto a baking tray covered in parchment. I glazed the top of the scones with buttermilk and then sprinkled on the remaining cheese.
The scones went into the oven for about 10-12 minutes until they had risen well. I saw the cheese was bubbling and golden and couldn’t wait to test one out that very afternoon cut in half and spread with butter. They were delicious.
Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I’m doing a Cooking The Books Challenge. This started off well back at the start of the year but then as life got in the way! I logged on to update SmartCookieSam and realised it’s been well over a month since my last post. I haven’t been quiet on the baking front though. It’s mainly been trying out recipes from The Great British Bake Off Big Book Of Baking cookbook that came out to accompany the latest series.
So the idea of this post is to share with you some of the bakes I’ve made from the book. Here goes!
I love baking traybakes as a little goes a long way, especially at coffee mornings or fairs. The Golden Carrot traybake was a big success at my school’s MacMillan Coffee morning. I had to put pieces aside for the staff before they all got sold!
I also baked the Irish Brack recipe from the Bread Chapter of the book. It was very similar to the Yorkshire Tea Loaf recipe I regularly make. This went along to the MacMillan Coffee morning and about half of it sold, not as popular as carrot cake!
For one of the Sunday lunch puddings over the past few weeks I’ve been trying out various recipes from the Bake Off book. When on holiday in Normandy several years ago I loved the melt in the mouth apple tarts you could buy in the local patisseries. The tart is called Somerset Apple Tart in this recipe because it calls for Somerset Apple Brandy if you have it. Mine was Normandy Apple Tart as it had genuine Calvados in it. I love Calvados in cream to go with mince pies at Christmas but would struggle to drink any, too strong for me! Of course I would not get a job as a patisserie chef with my offering. When blind baking the pastry case I left it in the oven a bit too long and the sides burned. At least Mary Berry would be impressed that the tart didn’t have a soggy bottom though! My two kids, especially my son weren’t impressed by the tart. They said “Yuck, cooked apples!” Everyone else enjoyed it though and all the better with a splodge of whipped cream on the side.
Being a sweet toothed monster I thought it was about time I tried out some savoury recipes and I wanted to try out the cheese and mustard loaf. I thought it would be perfect on an Autumn Saturday along with a bowl of warming soup. So last Saturday I baked the loaf to have with some homemade vegetable soup. Again, my son wasn’t complimentary about my baking saying “Why do you have to put cheese in it? Why can’t you just cook some “normal” white bread?” Been there, done that, wanted to try something else! Both my hubby and I enjoyed a big slice with our soup though.
My hubby is a cheese lover and would prefer cheese and biscuits instead of a pudding if we go out anywhere. He reminds me of Wallace when he says “Got any cheese?” so the other day I bought some Harrogate BlueShepherd’s Purse Cheese and had a go at Norman’s Farthing Biscuits from the Bake Off book. I thought Norman was a lovely guy, one of my favourite contestants from this year’s series. His quote about Tiramisu “I can’t even spell it” or words to that effect makes me smile. So I was keen to try out his recipe for Farthing Biscuits although mine seemed to puff up a bit in the oven. They tasted great though and even my fussy son liked them. Thankyou Norman, will be baking these again!
Another Sunday dinner or lunch dessert. These individual puddings were made in my Alan Silverwood Pudding Moulds which I think I bought from Lakeland. They are massive though and I should have shared one with my hubby. Anyway both of us were feeling greedy and had one to ourselves. No wonder I am struggling with my weight and was up half the night afterwards with heartburn. It did taste like heaven though; white chocolate sponge topped with a chocolate sauce. The chocolate sauce is plain chocolate, cream and butter heated together.
I was given some apples to use up from a neighbour so I incorporated some of them into this Sticky Apple Sponge Pudding. Very like the flavours of a Sticky Toffee Pudding but with sliced apples added to the bottom of the dish. A hit with all of the family despite the kids pulling the sliced apples off the cake. Apart from that it was scrumptious.
I love anything with ginger in it so I just had to bake the Grasmere Gingerbread recipe in the Bake Off book. I can’t get enough of Grasmere Gingerbread but the original recipe is a closely guarded secret. I bet this is as near to it as you get though. The gingerbread was going to be taken with me into work to put in the staff room but it never got there. All my family kept nibbling!
I also love anything with almonds in, so I was keen to have a go at the Morello Cherry Bakewell Tart. I’ve had a go at Bakewell tart a few times before but always used raspberry jam in it. I bought some Morello Cherry Jam in the supermarket and baked this version for another of our Sunday lunch desserts. I was surprised when my son said he liked it! I nearly passed out cold on the floor! HE ACTUALLY LIKED SOMETHING I BAKED! Well, I know it’s a winner then. Again I managed to overbake the pastry. Why is it that there’s always something else going on?
In the true spirit of the challenge I haven’t baked everything I set out to bake. I really wanted to have a go at some of the more complicated bakes such as the Princesstarta, the Kouign Amann’s and a couple of the savoury pies. But it has been so busy recently and I have really struggled to fit these bakes in around my day job and what I’d actually need them for.
Watch this space for November’s challenge: I’m going to be changing things a bit so I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve worked it all out!