Scandelicious Baking- An Update on the August Cooking The Books Challenge.

It’s been a few weeks since I updated my blog. There’s been so much going on.  Once the school holidays are over I’m back into work mode and there is barely time to get the jobs around the house done.  Then again, I haven’t managed to get anywhere near my computer.  So I thought I’d better get something writen down.

My August Cooking The Books recipe book challenge from Scandelicious Baking seems like a lifetime ago now.  Although I found it enjoyable and I had plenty of time, I didn’t get round to baking two of the recipes I’d originally planned to bake. These were a Pistachio Pavlova with Boozy Cherries and a Norwegian AlmondTart.  I don’t know what happened at the end of the holidays, guess I just ran out of time.

So, to recap I think I would like to look at what I did get round to making.  On the whole I have really enjoyed testing out some delicious recipes. Different flavours and things I wouldn’t have thought to try.

I love making fish pie for my family so I thought the Scandelicious Fish Gratin would go down well with my family.  Instead of being topped with pastry, mashed potato or breadcrumbs this version of a fish pie was topped with some crushed Swedish Krisprolls.  Well I didn’t crush them enough so the topping looked very rustic and unappealing.  Also my son (who used to love my fish pie) refused to eat it.

The Scandelicious Fish Gratin had a topping of crushed Krisprolls.

To make the Fish Gratin filling I poached some cod cut into large chunks in some milk infused with peppercorns and nutmeg.  After this I made a sauce which had leeks, onion, eggs and creme fraiche in to add to the fish.  This was then poured into a baking dish ready to be topped with the crushed krisprolls!

The fish gratin filling.
The finished fish gratin. Looked a bit unappealing and appealed even less to myself and my family. Not a big success at all.

After eating some savoury cheesecake from a buffet once I was keen to have a go at baking one myself. So I had a go at the Scandelicious Cheese and Onion Cheesecake.  The cheesecake contained an oatcake and porridge oat base which had been combined with melted butter.  To make the filling I whisked egg yolks with a pinch of salt, then added some Quark and some cream cheese along with some flour, chopped spring onions and some cheese.  Now in the recipe Signe Johansen suggests Vasterbotten cheese which I have never even heard of, let alone seen it in my local shops.  In the end I used Jarlsberg cheese and grated it straight into the mixture.  In another bowl I beat some egg whites which were then combined with the cheese mixture.  When this was ready it went straight on top of the base and was baked in the oven for about half an hour.

The finished Cheese and Onion Cheesecake.
Delicious with a salad.
I had a slice on its own for lunch the following day.

I’m not very good at baking bread or using yeast but I wanted to have a go at the Spelt Picnic Buns.  I’m not that used to using spelt flour either but I like eating spelt bread.  These buns were meant to be useful for eating on a picnic but we never got to go on one as it was too cold or wet during the last couple of weeks of the school summer holidays.  I baked the buns in my muffin tin but they were not what I was expecting at all. I was expecting them to turn out a lot a bigger than they were.  They tasted delicious though and I had one spread with butter at breakfast.

Scandelicious Spelt Picnic Buns.

So here ends the Cooking The Books Challenge for August and I had more challenges for days in the month than I had time for.  There are lots more recipes I would love to bake from Scandelicious Baking.  I can definitely recommend the book.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Let’s Bake (Cathryn Dresser)- Pitta Breads.

About a month ago I was really excited to buy the lovely Cathryn Dresser’s book “Let’s Bake”.  It is a fabulous book but then I always knew it would be as Cathryn has been one of my favourite contestants on The Great British Bake Off so far.  I think she owns the expression “Oh my giddy aunt!” now.  So when her book aimed at baking with children came out, I just had to have it.  Although my own kids are now teenagers  I knew they would enjoy using it just as much as younger children.  And as I work in a primary school we tend to do a bit of cooking now and again when it fits in around curriculum demands.

About two weeks ago I chose to make a chicken curry for tea but thought about having chapatis or naan bread with it instead of rice.  My hubby and son aren’t that keen on rice but love their bread so I thought I’d have a go at baking something to go with the tea.  I found Cathryn’s recipe for her perfect Pitta Pockets would go down well and they were much easier to bake than I thought they would be!

Here’s how I got on:

Flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl ready to be mixed in with some warm water.
Now combined to make a ball of dough. This was kneaded for about 10-15 minutes on my floured worktop.
The ball of dough was put into a mixing bowl which had been lightly oiled. I put it in my utility room and covered the bowl with some cling film.
After two hours the dough looked like this thankfully!
I split the dough into 8 equal pieces and rolled each one out thinly so that they were flat.
Here are two of the pittas after they had been baked in the oven. They were puffed up but soon deflated!
All ready to serve with our Chicken Curry.!

We absolutely loved the pitta breads and as they were so easy to make I know I will be making them time and time again.  They were so much better than shop bought ones.  My hubby would have eaten more if he could.    Cathryn says that “any homemade bread is best eaten fresh on the day but these will keep for 2-3 days wrapped in cling film”  No cling film needed here, they were so delicious it wasn’t needed.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Cooking The Books February 2014- Norwegian Cinnamon Buns (How To Be A Domestic Goddess)

Norwegian Cinnamon Buns.  My recipe challenge to bake from the Bread and Yeast Chapter of How To Be A Domestic Goddess.
Norwegian Cinnamon Buns. My recipe challenge to bake from the Bread and Yeast Chapter of How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

For my first recipe from this month’s Cooking The Books Challenge I chose to bake some Norwegian Cinnamon Buns

from the Bread and Yeast Chapter of How To Be A Domestic Goddess.  I’ve never been to Norway, it’s one of those places that’s high on my places to go list but I have eaten similar buns when I went to Copenhagen a few years back.  I can also wholeheartedly recommend the delicious Cinnamon Buns that are sold in one of my favourite local eateries, a fabulous Norwegian cafe, Baltzersens in Harrogate.  Their bakes are just utterly sublime.

In the recipe introduction Nigella says ” The Northern Europeans and especially the Scandinavians are wonderful bakers and eating these for breakfast or tea on a cold winter’s day makes one feel ours is a climate to be grateful for. But then, I’ve always thought that bad weather has its compensations, most of them culinary”  Nigella, you’re a girl after my own heart!

Now, on this damp and cold February afternoon I’m at home from work and have just got in from walking the dog.  My son is laid up on the sofa with the start of a horrible flu virus and my hubby has just phoned to say he feels rough and is coming home early.  I guess if they are feeling rough, they might need something of a pick me up. So, I thought I’d bake them these Cinnamon Buns.

Here’s how I got on:

First I added flour, sugar, salt and 3 sachets (I know, I thought it was a misprint too!) of yeast into a large bowl.
In another bowl I added melted butter and whisked it together with milk and eggs.
The whisked egg mixture was then stirred into the flour mixture.
The dough was then put into my Kitchen Aid mixer with my dough hook on. It was put on a slow speed for a few minutes. It was meant to be smooth and springy. I didn’t think it looked right somehow.
The mixture was extremely wet and was difficult to touch. I had to use a scraper to get it out of the bowl and I wasn’t sure if it was meant to feel like this.
I greased another large mixing bowl to put the dough in to rise.
This is what the dough looked like after abut 25 minutes rising time. It had been in my utility room on the worktop as it gets very warm in there.

Although I was meant to leave the dough for only about 25 minutes it ended up being left for at least a couple of hours. This was due to me having to go and pick my daughter up from her school rehearsal.  By the time we’d got back the dough had reached the top of the cling film stretched along the top of the bowl!

I had prepared some filling which was butter, sugar and cinnamon melted together.  It smelled absolutely gorgeous!

The dough was very wet and difficult to work with, so I found it difficult to roll out and got in a right pickle with it.  I needed lots of flour to stop it sticking to the rolling pin so I made my buns very much by hand and they do look very rustic!  I managed to get them to roll up into my large traybake container but they were very haphazard and all different sizes.

Once I’d got the buns ready in the baking tray I brushed the tops with some beaten egg and let them prove once again before baking in the hot oven.

The buns went into the oven at 210oC for about 20 minutes and they did burn a little on the top of them. Though when I looked at Nigella’s picture her’s were similar and she says not to worry “if they catch in places”.  This was comfortably reassuring, thank you Nigella!

The gorgeous smelling Norwegian Cinnamon Buns just straight out of the oven.
Oy!!! Who’s been eating my buns?
Eaten warm and fresh, these buns were heaven on a plate.

Well the buns went down well with my daughter and myself, though my son and husband were feeling very ropey and off their food. By the next couple of days I had gone down with the flu virus and went off my food too.  One day all I managed was one of these buns and by then it had gone stale.  I’m definitely going to try making them again, although they were a bit faffy to make they tasted delicious and I think my husband and son will enjoy them.  After all they love Danish Pastries and Chelsea Buns so they’ll love these!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Rum Babas from The Great British Bake Off -Showstopper Bakes.


Last year when the Great British Bake Off was on I was tempted by the Rum Babas that the contestants were asked to make for their Technical Challenge in the very first week. Who can remember John Whaite accidentally putting salt in the rum babas instead of sugar because the glass jars weren’t labelled?  Luckily though it worked out for him in the end becoming the series winner! I was keen to try out making rum babas, they are something I think of as a 1970’s dessert trolley invention.  I had only tasted a rum baba once, about three years ago when my hubby bought one.  It was stale and tasted funny.  I only had one mouthful of it which is rare for someone like me who is a sugar addict!

To make the rum babas you need some small savarin moulds, these are the ones I bought last year in Lakeland:

I noticed that Lakeland started stocking them after the Bake Off had been on which is great. They came in packs of 4. They have also started stocking the silicone chocolate dome moulds which are for making the chocolate teacakes which were another very tricky technical challenge bake from Series 3.  As a regular shopper at my local stores (either Harrogate, York or Northallerton) I was pleased as I knew my hubby would want me to try them.

But did I get round to using them? No I didn’t! Well over a year later I had forgotten about the moulds and found them in my cupboard still in the packaging.  Guilt overcame me and I thought I must try them out as promised.  My hubby talked about rum babas saying he would love to have one for pudding.  We had rum, I had yeast so I decided to get baking.

Last Sunday morning was a quiet day at home at the beginning of half term week.  I had all day to spend on the rum babas between other jobs but there was lots to do.  I’m still underconfident when it comes to anything involving yeast.

Here’s how it was made and what happened:

First, flour, sugar, yeast and salt were put in a large bowl. They were put at different sides to one another.
A beaten egg in the measuring jug.
The dry ingredients are gently mixed together, then the egg was poured into the same bowl.
The eggs were mixed in with the dry ingredients to form a wet dough.
The wet dough was placed in my Kitchen Aid mixer bowl and mixed on a very slow setting for 8-10 minutes with a dough hook.
After the kneading time.

At this point I began to panic.  The dough was very wet and I really struggled to knead it by hand.  In the end I had to stick it in the mixer as I just couldn’t work with it.  It just stuck to my hands and the more I tried to knead, the more it stuck.  I don’t know if I was meant to use the mixer but I thought it would be better than my hot hands touching the dough.  I managed to get it into the bowl, I washed my hands and then tried to search on YouTube to see if they had the original episode where they made the rum babas.  Then I could watch it back and see where I was going wrong.  Lo and behold there was a clip showing the rum babas and it was mentioned that the dough did appear wet.  Thank heavens for that!

If you want to see the original clip, then here is the link to it here:

The dough was placed in my Utility room on the work surface. The bowl was covered in cling film. I chose the utility room as I had the tumble dryer on and the room was quite warm at the time.

After all this messing about my kitchen surface looked like a scene of destruction.  It took some scrubbing to get the dough of the surface, it felt stickier than Superglue, if that’s possible!  I left the dough to rise in the bowl for about an hour and a half which was enough time for me to get on with the ironing.

Here are the 4 savarin moulds bought from Lakeland.
The moulds were lightly greased with flour and a sprinkling of caster sugar.
The dough was meant to be piped carefully into the savarin moulds, taking care that each one held an equal amount of mixture.  I spooned it in with a teaspoon and wondered why it was so messy!

Then for a second proving, this time in the savarin moulds. They had to rise to the level of the hole but not be too overproved.  This was easier said than done!

After baking, I turned the rum babas out onto a mat to cool down. Before they were fully cooled I needed to soak them with the rum sugar syrup.
Each rum baba was so big it only just fitted inside my dessert bowls.
Here is the cream mixture all whipped up. I swear by the Get A Grip piping bags from Lakeland. To help me fill these bags easily I use a pint glass to support the bag.
Each rum baba got a swirl of cream piped in the middle of it and was then topped with some berries. I used blueberries and strawberries but I reckon chopped kiwi fruit would look pretty too!
All ready for our pudding! What a massive rum baba as well. We all really enjoyed them and our eyes were bigger than our stomachs!

So, would I make the rum babas again?  Yes, I would.  Despite them being quite labour intensive in short bursts they were a massive hit with the family and a perfect treat.  Very naughty but nice!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Paul’s English Muffins , The Technical Bake From The Great British Bake Off Series 4

I was really excited to be watching episode 2 of The Great British Bake Off.  We’re beginning to get to know the faces of the contestants of this new series and what they are capable of.  As Week 2 was bread week and one area of baking I really struggle with, I was glued to the TV to see if I could pick up any tips or advice.  The breadsticks looked amazing and my mouth was watering at the thought of a pile of breadsticks washed down with a large glass of red wine. I had to make do with a cup of tea and I had already had my dinner.   I was totally gobsmacked by the over-the-top bakes of the showstopper bread.  It seems as if they are doing really taxing things this year and upping their game. I’m sorry to say this but I wasn’t impressed by the Octopus football bread . However I was amazed by all Kimberley’s bakes and was very surprised when she wasn’t made Star Baker.  Ruby though did extremely well and I was pleased to see her being recognised for all her efforts.  It was sad to see Lucy go, though. I thought she could have got further in the competition.

So, the technical bake for this week was English Muffins. As it was a bread bake it would be one of Paul Hollywood’s recipes.  I had to explain this to my children that I meant the sort of muffins you had at McDonalds with bacon and egg for breakfast, not ones with chocolate chips in!  I for one love English Muffins and my favourite dish on the menu at Betty’s in Harrogate is their delicious Eggs Benedict. So, I thought I would try it out on Saturday to see how I got on.  I was dreading it.

So on Saturday morning, my hubby was out working and the kids were still in bed (well they are teenagers!) I decided to get on with it so we could have the Eggs Benedict for lunch.  I always make a mess of Hollandaise sauce though, so I cheated and bought a jar of it from Tesco. I wish I hadn’t though, the list of additives on the label was shocking!  It was a Finest one but even that had glucose-fructose syrup in it? Why?  Totally not necessary but because I’d ordered it as part of an online shop I hadn’t checked the ingredients list first, yuck!

Strong white bread flour, yeast and salt are put into a large mixing bowl.
Strong white bread flour, yeast and salt are put into a large mixing bowl.
Sugar, small pieces of butter, a beaten egg and some mlik at room temperature are added to the bowl.
Sugar, small pieces of butter, a beaten egg and some mlik at room temperature are added to the bowl.
The dough is mixed together by working it with your hand.
The dough is mixed together by working it with your hand.
The dough is made into a big ball and kneaded for about 10 minutes.
The dough is made into a big ball and kneaded for about 10 minutes.
After kneading the dough is put in an oiled bowl, covered in cling film and left to rise on the worktop.
After kneading the dough is put in an oiled bowl, covered in cling film and left to rise on the worktop.

At this stage I thought I would get the kettle on and make myself a cuppa.  It was great to sit down for 5 minutes before the kids surfaced.  I didn’t get much time for sitting down as there was washing to hang out and some  ironing to get on with.  Why is it that on a day when I try out a Technical Bake, it ends up being a day where you have loads to do?

After about 1 1/2 hours the muffin dough was doubled in size.
After about 1 1/2 hours the muffin dough was doubled in size.
The dough is rolled out to a 1.5cm thickness and left on the worktop to relax for 1/4 hour.
The dough is rolled out to a 1.5cm thickness and left on the worktop to relax for 1/4 hour.
Some semolina was tipped onto a baking sheet and the muffins were dipped in this.
Some semolina was tipped onto a baking sheet and the muffins were dipped in this.

At this stage my hubby got in from work. He had been out to get a few jobs done that he needed to catch up with and came in absolutely starving.   I said if he wanted the dinner a bit quicker he could poach the eggs for me while I did the muffins.  He agreed to this thankfully as his poached eggs are sublime! This is the bit where I wanted it all to go right as when you make something for the first time, especially when you are making it for your family, you want it to go right.

The muffins are cooked in a griddle pan for about 6 or so minutes.
The muffins are cooked in a griddle pan for about 6 or so minutes.
Cooking the muffins on the other side.
Cooking the muffins on the other side.
Eight Muffins all ready to be split in half, toasted and eaten.
Eight Muffins all ready to be split in half, toasted and eaten.]

Fortunately, the muffins turned out really well. I’m not sure if they would be Great British Bake Off standard but I was pleased with them. If my family eat the lot, then that to me speaks volumes!

Two halves of a muffin to make one of my all time favourite meals- Eggs Benedict!
Two halves of a muffin to make one of my all time favourite meals- Eggs Benedict!

This is a Technical Bake I would definitely try again for a winter Sunday teatime if I have enough time to make them.

If you bake English Muffins, it would be great to know how you get on with them.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx