Monday, 30 November 2015

Mince Pie Honeycomb Crunchies



Here's my first non-traditional bake for the season - combining two of my loves, mince pies and honeycomb crunchies :)
For the mincemeat, either buy a good quality jar or follow my simple recipe here

Makes 16 bars/squares

Ingredients:

For the honeycomb:

  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 75g caster or granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the chocolate:

  • 250g milk chocolate
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 120g butter

For the pastry/shortbread:

  • 60g plain flour
  • 30g cornflour
  • 60g butter
  • 30g caster sugar
To finish:
  • 150g good quality mincemeat
  • 50g white chocolate


Method:

1. Make the pastry. Preheat the oven to 170c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of a 20 x 20cm cake tin.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift in the plain and cornflour and bring the mixture together with your hands, until no more flour is visible. Shape into a ball - try not to overwork the pastry.

3. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

4. Roll out to about 1/2cm thickness and place in the cake tin - the shape doesn't matter as you will be breaking it into shards (to depict the deconstructed mince pie pastry).

The pastry before baking
5. Bake for 20 minutes until the sides are starting to go slightly golden. Take out of the oven and leave to cool fully on a wire rack.
The pastry after baking


6. Make the honeycomb. Grease and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Have a wire whisk and bicarbonate of soda close to you and a saucepan.

7. In this saucepan, heat the golden syrup and sugar together. Stir until the sugar has melted, then leave the mixture to boil (without stirring). Keep on a low-medium heat until the honeycomb mixture is becoming a deep caramel colour (about 5 minutes). Swirl the pan occasionally to prevent burnt spots from forming.

Stir whilst the sugar is melting (i.e no big lumps of sugar are visible)

Leave boiling...

Until this colour is reached


8. As soon as the deep caramel colour develops, take off the heat, add the bicarbonate of soda, and whisk. The mixture will bubble up a lot so be very careful! After around 4 whisks around the pan, pour onto the prepared baking tray.


9. Leave for 30 minutes to set.

10. Make the chocolate. In a saucepan melt the butter, golden syrup, and chocolates together. Once the mixture is smooth, take off the heat.



11. To assemble, line a sandwich box or 20x20cm cake tin with clingfilm. Break the pastry and honeycomb into shards. In a large bowl, combine the pastry and honeycomb shards and mincemeat. 

12. Pour over 2/3 of the chocolate. Stir to fully combine all of the ingredients, then pour into the prepared tin. Top with the remaining third of chocolate.

13. Cover and refrigerate for around 1 hour until set. If you are in a hurry, freezing for 15 minutes will reach the same result.

14. Melt the white chocolate by placing squares in a bowl, and microwaving in 20 second bursts (at full speed). Once melted, pour into a piping bag. Pipe horizontal lines over the mixture, then use the back of a spoon to drag lines vertically though the white chocolate. This creates the feathering effect. 

15. Refrigerate again for  10 minutes. Cut into bars/squares.



16. Enjoy!


Got any Christmas recipes you'd like me to try? Message me here or send me an email. I love baking so I'll try anything!
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Monday, 23 November 2015

Mincemeat





It was stir-up Sunday yesterday; the last weekend we should all have made our Christmas cakes, puddings, and mincemeat, so that they have enough time to mature before Christmas day! 
Don't worry if you only just thought to make any of the above though! Over the next few weeks, I'm going to post recipes all about festive baking, so that you can all impress your friends/family/guests/yourself this Christmas/new year :)

I made this mincemeat about a month ago. It's at least ten times better than the store-bought kind believe me. The extra additions of apple and satsumas liven up the mincemeat, and better yet, you can swap and change the dried fruit as you like. Plus you can use your favourite spirit - I used amaretto here, which gives the mincemeat a lovely marzipan-like tang.

If you don't want a boozy mincemeat, use apple juice instead. The mincemeat is still packed full of flavour and is great for those who don't like traditional mince pies.

I based this recipe on Mary Berry's - her recipe is here.

This recipe fills three 400g jars.

Ingredients:

  • 500g mixed dried fruits (whatever you fancy! I used a combination of raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries and dried apricots)
  • 1 small bramley cooking apple, chopped roughly
  • 1 satsuma, peeled and segmented
  • 100g butter, cut into cubes
  • 50g chopped mixed nuts
  • 175g soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 200ml amaretto (or spirit/juice of your choice)


Method

1. In a large pan combine all of the ingredients except the alcohol/juice alternative. Place on a medium heat, and stir until the butter has melted, and the sugar has dissolved.



2. Bring to the boil, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to check the bottom of the mincemeat doesn't stick to the pan.


Most of the liquid will evaporate off, so check the mixture isn't burning
occasionally
 3. Take off the heat and add the amaretto. Leave to cool completely.

4.To sterilize the jars, tip the mincemeat into a cleaned ex-jam jar. Screw on the lid fully and place in a deep pan. Cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes. Leave the jars in the water until they have cooled down, then dry off. They will keep for at least 6 months in this state, slowly maturing and becoming more and more delicious.

5. Enjoy! 


In the next few weeks I'll be posting my ultimate mince pie recipe, as well as other baking recipes using up this fantastic mincemeat :D
If you have any recipes for non-traditional ways of using mincemeat, let me know (either by commenting on this blog or emailing me at honeycombcrunchies@gmail.com)
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Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Hearty Chicken Stew




Here's a different kind of recipe for you. I don't cook much, but this is a dish I learnt to make with my boyfriend. It's a delicious and filling chicken and vegetable stew, packed with pearl barley for an extra protein hit.
I love making it at the weekend for a week's worth of meals :) Make as much as you can fit into your largest pan, and it'll last a week in the fridge. 
My recipe here is half what I usually make (but I have a massive pressure cooker to fill!) - this recipe will make 6-8 portions, depending on your serving size.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg chicken
  • 1kg root vegetables (many supermarkets sell packs of these) - we used carrots, parsnips, onion and swede
  • 500g vegetables of your choice - we used celery, sweet potato, mushrooms and leeks 
  • 250g pearl barley
  • 3 chicken stock cubes/concentrated stock pots
  • around 2l water (to fill the pan)
  • Handful of parsley, roughly chopped.
  • 2 cans mixed beans/lentils (we used a can of green lentils and a can of butter beans)


Method:

1. Chop the chicken into bitesize pieces and place in your largest pan.

* Here's a money saving tip - get frozen chicken breasts! They're far cheaper than fresh, and you can defrost them in an hour by placing the bag in a bowl of hot water.


2. Peel the swede and coarsely grate into the pan. Roughly chop the rest of your vegetables (they don't need peeling), and pour into the pan. 

Here's all of the ingredients we used!
3. Open your cans of mixed beans and/or lentils, drain, and add to the pan.

3. Add your stock cubes, water and pearl barley. Bring to the boil and cook for 40 - 45 minutes, stirring every 5 - 10 minutes. 

This method poaches the chicken so it's lovely and soft - after 40 minutes, check that the chicken is cooked by cutting a piece open and checking it is white all the way through. 

The vegetables can be left slightly-crunchy if wanted (as portions of the stew will be being reheated during the week).

The pot all filled up before cooking!

4. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley before serving.
5. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Vegan Banana Bread







To be truthful, I didn't bake this banana bread for it's vegan properties (though I do have some vegan friends who would love it!). As well as containing no eggs or butter, there are no weird ingredients. This is something that puts me off a lot of vegan/healthy bakes, as I usually wouldn't have ground nuts, seeds, or special oils in the house. It's the perfect store-cupboard recipe to have with a cup of tea. Vegans and non-vegans will both love this loaf.  
Although it is described as a bread, it doesn't contain any yeast, and you don't have to leave it to rise before baking. Basically it's a cake...in a bread shape. 

Makes one 2 pound (1kg) loaf

Ingredients:
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda *
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar *
  • * instead of the bicarb and cream of tartar, you can use 3 tsp baking powder instead
  • 100g brown sugar + extra for dusting.
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large bananas, mashed
  • 75g vegetable oil



Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/gas mark 6. Grease a 2 pound (1kg) loaf tin - I didn't use greaseproof paper. Instead after greasing, dust the sides and base of the tin with brown sugar. 

2. In a large bowl sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar and cinnamon.  Stir in the sugar.

3. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the vegetable oil and mashed bananas. Mix until no more bits of flour can be seen - the mixture will be fairly dense.



4. Pour into your prepared loaf tin, and bake for an hour, checking after 30 minutes. If the top is browning a lot, cover with foil and return to the oven. Bake the cake until it feels firm, and a skewer comes out clean when poked in to the cake.


5. Turn out of the loaf tin onto a wire rack. Leave to cool.

6. Enjoy!



Note: To add extra texture, add 50g chopped walnuts (or other nut of your choice) to the cake batter before baking :)

Got any good vegan baking recipes? If so, message me and I'll give it a go :D





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Thursday, 5 November 2015

Bonfire Night Parkin



It's bonfire night, and here's a cake to warm you up. A classic bake of Yorkshire, this cake is perfectly autumnal. Rich with oats and treacle, yet heavily spiced with ginger and cinnamon, it's a delicious treat whilst watching the fireworks. I've topped the cake with honeycomb, also known as cinder toffee, which is another sweet sold at every bonfire night display.

This is a super simple cake to bake, as the butter and sugar are melted together - no laborious creaming is required! This cake gets even better after being left a few days after baking :)

If you've never tried parkin, give it a go, and let me know if you like this English delicacy :D

Makes one 20cm cake

Ingredients:

For the parkin:

  • 175g golden syrup
  • 50g treacle
  • 110g butter
  • 110g soft brown sugar
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 75g porridge oats 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp milk

For the honeycomb:
  • 75g granulated or caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 140c/130c fan/ gas mark 1. Grease the base of a 20cm circular cake tin.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the syrup, treacle, butter and sugar together. Stir frequently until all of the butter has melted.


3. Sift into the pan the flour and spices, and fold in. Once no more flour can be seen, add the egg and milk to the pan. Beat briefly, this will be a  very loose cake mixture.


4. Pour into the prepared cake tin, and bake for 75-90 minutes, until the sides of the cake are coming away from the tin, and the center feels firm to the touch.

Before baking

After baking

5. Leave for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto the wire rack to cool fully. Store in an airtight container.


6. Make the honeycomb. In a medium saucepan pour in the sugar and golden syrup. Stir briefly to melt the sugar, then remove the spoon from the pan.

7. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, and have a whisk by the pan, ready for use.

8. Leave the mixture to boil WITHOUT stirring, until the caramel becomes a golden brown (this takes about 5 minutes). Take off the heat, and add the bicarbonate of soda. Whisk quickly and vigorously (the mixture will bubble up a lot at this point). After 5 seconds, pour onto the prepared tray - be very careful not to touch the molten honeycomb at this stage!!

9. Leave to set for approximately 30 minutes until firm to the touch. Break into shards.

10. Top the cake with the shards of honeycomb to finish.


11. Enjoy!


Love honeycomb? Then you'll love my chocolate and orange, and white chocolate and ginger honeycomb crunchies! :)
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Sunday, 1 November 2015

Poppy Seed Cheesecake



Here's a variety of a Polish cheesecake - Sernik. I've added a poppyseed layer, as poppyseeds are very popular in Poland and I love the storebought jars of poppyseed paste. Here I sweeten a can of the paste (this can be found in most Polish shops) and add more dried fruit to it. This layer adds a wonderful contrast to the creamy cheese topping and crunchy base of the cheesecake. Though this is different to the classic, my boyfriend's Polish family seemed to enjoy it, and I found it delicious also! Give it a try and let me know how much you enjoy it :)

Makes one 20cm cake

Ingredients:

For the base:

  • 75g butter
  • 150g oaty biscuits (such as hobnobs)

For the poppyseed layer:
  • 200g poppyseeds
  • 2 egg whites and 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 60g light brown sugar
  • 50g chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Zest of one orange
  • 100g raisins or sultanas

For the cheesecake layer:

  • 400g soft cheese
  • 1 egg and 1 egg yolk
  • Juice ½ orange
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 170c/160c fan/gas mark 3. Line the base of a 20cm springform cake tin. Make the biscuit base. Crush the oaty biscuits – the easiest way I found to crush the biscuits was by placing them in a large bowl, and crushing them with the end of a rolling pin. Melt the butter, and pour onto the hobnob crumbs – stir and press into the base of a lined 20cm cake tin. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned.






2. Make the poppyseed layer. Grind the poppyseeds (I used a high-speed blender, but you could use a food processor instead). Add the sugar, honey, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, egg yolk and orange zest. Beat until well-combined (the honey and egg yolk will make the mixture quite sticky at this stage)

3.  Whisk the egg white in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted from the mixture (this takes around 5 minutes).  Fold the egg whites into the bowl with the poppyseeds in (using a metal spoon). As soon as no more egg whites can be seen, pour into the cake tin and level out.

The poppyseed layer before adding to the tin- tastes far better
than it looks I promise!


4. Make the cheesecake layer. Whisk together all of the ingredients. Once fully incorporated pour into the cake tin, and level out. Drop the cheesecake on the surface a few times to remove any air bubbles.



5. Bake for approximately 1 hour, until there is only a slight wobble in the center of the cheesecake. Remove from the oven to cool. Don’t worry if it cracks – I have a handy trick for that. Once cooled, refrigerate overnight.





6. To remove any cracks, first run a knife around the sides of the cake tin, and lift the cheesecake out of the tin. Dip a spoon in boiling hot water. Dry on a clean towel, then smooth over the cheesecake where the crack is – the cheesecake filling will melt slightly and fill the crack in. Repeat until the crack is no longer visible (be gentle and make sure to dry the spoon every time!). Chill for an hour after de-cracking the cake.


7. Enjoy!




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