Baking progress is growing up. I’ve really enjoyed writing this blog, and it’s gotten a far bigger audience than I ever thought it would, so thanks! Because it’s been so much more enjoyable than I thought, I’ve decided to start a new blog, this time casting the net a bit wider to creat a blog that still focuses on food, but not just baking (although there will still be a lot of that going on, trust me!)
I’d really hate to lose any followers on here so it would be great if you’d check out the new blog, it’s called ‘Lunch, et cetera’ and you can find it at http://lunchetcetera.wordpress.com/
I’ll slowly be moving all the recipes from Baking Progress over to the new blog, so none of the recipes will be lost.
So thanks for all the support, and I’ll see you at Lunch, et cetera!
Macarons have been driving me crazy for a while now. So many attempts, so much failure. This weekend I caved and bought a macaroon mat, and it has actually solved all my problems!
- 50g ground almonds
- 50g icing sugar
- 1 egg white
- 50g caster sugar
- 100g marshmallows
- 20ml milk
- 70g unsalted butter, softened
- If you don’t have a macaroon mat then (a) you’re a better baker than me and (b) draw 3cm circles on some greaseproof paper then grease in and pop it on a baking tray.
- Mix together the ground almonds and icing sugar in a large mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until it’s frothy, the gradually add the caster sugar a spoonful at a time, constantly mixing until it’s thicky and glossy.
- Fold in the almond and icing sugar mixture.
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe the mixture into the circle on your greaseproof paper/macaroon mat.
- Tap it onto the worktop to get rid of the air (I don’t think I did this enough, my macarons expanded a bit in the oven). Leave the tray on the worktop for an hour or so until the macarons develop a hard coating.
- Preheat the oven to 160C (140 fan). When it’s ready put the macarons in for 10-12 mins but keep a close eye on them – take them out when they start to go brown.
- Leave them on the side to cool, and in the meantime make the filling.
- Add the milk and marshmallows to a pan and put it over a low heat, stirring well until it’s all mixed together. When the marshmallows have melted, take it off the heat and leave the mixture to cool.
- Cream the butter and when the marshmallow mxture has cooled, add it to the butter and mix well. If you want a more pink colouring, add a little red food colouring.
- Put the mixture in a piping bag and pipe it into the centre of the macarons.It’s so simple, but they really have been making me crazy for such a long time! The worst bit is the thousandth attempt when you’ve finally got them about right, and you just cannot get them off the greasproof paper. So, again, you end up scraping it all off and making yet another ‘eton mess’. According to all online recipes it is possible to remove macarons from greaseproof paper, but apparently I don’t possess the gene for that, so if you’re like me then you’re going to need to invest in a mat. Mine was £9. Worth it though, to finally be victorious in my macaron war!
Happy Easter! It would be sacreligious at this time of year not to make hot cross buns. Even if it is snowing outside. Actually, the spicy smell and rich, doughy taste of a freshly baked hot cross bun are even more welcome when you’re watching the snow drift past the window. They’re really more of a winter food than a spring food.
I used Paul Hollywoods recipe, which uses mixed fruit, orange zest and apples. I’ve never had hot cross buns with apple before but they really added a touch of moisture and sweetness, making them extra-special.
- 320ml full fat milk
- 50g butter
- 500g strong white flour
- 1tsp salt
- 75g caster sugar
- 7g fast-action yeast
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 75g sultanas
- 50g mixed peel
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 75g plain flour
- 3 tbsp apricot jam
- Bring the milk to the boil then remove it from the heat and add the butter, stirring it in so that it melts.
- In a large mixing bowl mix the strong white flour, salt, sugar and yeast (making sure you put the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the mixing bowl). Make a well in the middle, and pour in the milk and butter mixture. Pour in the egg on top.
- Mix it all together with a wooden spoon then, when it’s a bit firmer, with your hand. Be sure to pick up all the flour around the sides of the bowl.
- Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around 5 minutes until it feels stretchy, smooth and warm.
- Lightly oil the sides of the mixing bowl and put the dough back into it. Smooth a little oil over some cling film and use it to cover the bowl. then leave it in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.
- Once it’s double, remove the cling film and tip all the dried fruit, zest, apple and cinnamon into the mixing bowl and work it evenly into the dough. Re-cover with the cling film and leave it for another hour to rise.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a long sausage shape. Cut it in half, and cut each half into 6 separate pieces.
- Mould the pieces into roughly round buns, and place onto a greased baking sheet.
- Cover loosely with the greased cling film (it shouldn’t be airtight) and leave in a warm place for another hour or until they’re well risen.
- Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan). Mix the plain flour with water – just add it tablespoon by tablespoon until you have a thick mixture which holds it’s shape but is suitable for piping. Pipe crosses onto the buns – just pipe in a continuous line across the tray over each row of buns, and again for each row, then do the same in the opposite direction.
- Bake the buns for around 20 minutes, until golden brown. About 5 minutes before taking them out, put the apricot jam in a pan and bring to the boil. Sieve it to remove any lumps. When you take the buns out, immediately brush them with the apricot jam then leave to cool.
They’re such a lovely treat for Easter. I hate, I mean really hate, store-bought hot cross buns, they’re so dry and tasteless. But home-made buns are so delicious and comforting, and they make the house smell really amazing! They’re just all-rounders really.
I got a bit over-excited in a deli and bought some chestnut spread. Since then I’ve been racking my brains about what on earth to do with it. I used half of it for frozen yoghurt, but honestly? It wasn’t good. So I really didn’t want to waste the other half. It was a bit risky, getting inventive with whatever I could find in the cupboard at the time, but I think it paid off, and the chestnut spread gave the cake a lovely moist, slightly richer taste without making it too sweet. A success!
- 225g self-raising flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp chestnut spread
- 120g carrots, grated
- 100g mixed fruit and nuts
- 50g light brown sugar
- 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
- 50g butter, softened
Method - Incredibly simple
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a standard loaf tin.
- Put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
- Mix it all up really, really well until you have a lovely smooth batter, then pour it into the loaf tin.
- Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until it’s golden brown or a skewer comes out of the cake clean.And that’s it! Incredibly simple. If you don’t have chestnut spread, maybe put in a teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of ginger, and an extra 30g of butter in instead.
This bread is really earthy, and I love it. The crunchiness and richness of the walnut, and the slightly sharper flavour of the poppy seed, make for a semi-sweet bread with a more interesting texture than the standard loaf. I would definitely say this is one of my favourite breads, which I will be making again and again.
- 500g strong brown bread flour
- Pinch of salt
- 7g active yeast
- 50g butter
- 350ml tepid water
- 100g chopped walnuts
- 25g poppy seeds
- Add the salt and yeast to the flour in a large mixing bowl.
- Rub the butter into the flour mixture till you get crumbs forming.
- Pour in three-quarters of the tepid water, and use one hand to mix it in and form a dough. Add more water using your own judgement – you want a soft dough that’s not too sticky. Add as much water as you need to get this consistency. Once you’ve got your dough, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 5-10 mins.
- Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
- Tip it back out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead it again to knock the air out it. Now add the walnut and poppy seed, and work them in. It might take a while but you will eventually get them all worked into the dough! Put it back into the bowl, cover it with a tea towel and leave it to rise for another 30 minutes.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and flatten it out slightly on the work top. Roll it into a sort of cylinder shape, and place it on a greased baking tray.
- Brush some cold water over the top of the dough and then sprinkle with poppy seeds. Using a sharp knife, make some slashes across the top of the dough.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C(fan 180°C). Put the tray into a plastic bag and leave to rise for another 30 minutes in a warm place.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until it’s golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom.
Eat some while it’s still warm! My obsession for toasted nuts extends to toasted nutty bread, so I would definitely recommend toasting this bread before eating it, but to be honest it’s pretty good either way.
Baklava has to be one of my all-time favourite desserts ever. Honey, sugar, nuts, sugar, pastry, sugar, butter, sugar. A dessert created for the sultans of the Ottoman Empire. What’s not to like? And since it’s not technically a cake or a biscuit, it’s a perfect sneaky Lent treat for anyone who’s given up cake or biscuits! My housemate pointed this out cheerfully as he sprinted across the kitchen towards it, in the middle of his biscuit/cake/bread-free Lent period. Needless to say, I did not give up either cakes or biscuits, I just fancied baklava and have an astonishing lack of willpower, so I made it.
The recipe is partly Mary Berry, partly the ‘Orgasmic chef’ blog, partly improvised based on the ingredients I found in my cupboard. Hence, no pistachios, but that makes it a cheaper and in my opinion equally delicious, alternative.
For the baklava
- 250g walnuts
- 100g almonds (whole)
- 60g light muscovado sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 175g butter, melted (plus extra for greasing)
- 24 sheets of filo pastry to fit a 9 x 13 inch tray
For the syrup:
- 90ml clear honey
- 70ml water
- 80g caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 5-6 cardamom pods
- 5-6 cloves
- Combine all the ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan. Cool it over a medium heat, and keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved and it begins to boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer it until it has thickened slightly – this should take 10-15 mins. Once this is done, tip it into a measuring jug and leave it to cool.
- Roast the walnuts and the almonds in the oven at around 200°C (fan oven) for 7-10 mins. When you remove them, leave the oven on.
- Mix together the walnuts, almonds, sugar and cinnamon, then chop them up in a food processor (or by hand if you have all the time in the world/want to avoid doing anyhting else for the rest of the day).
- Grease the tin and lay down one sheet of file pastry across the bottom – it doesn’t matter if it goes up the sides a little as well. Brush the sheet with some melted butter.
- Put another sheet of filo on top of this, and again brush it with melted butter. Keep repeating this process until you have 6 layers of filo.
- Once you’ve buttered the 6th sheet, sprinkle on one third of the nut mixture.
- Apply another 6 sheets of filo, brushing with butter in between. Then sprinkle on another one third of the nut mixture. Repeat this with another 6 sheets, sprinkle on the last of the nuts, then cover with 6 more sheets.
- Once you’ve buttered the top layer, cut off the edges of the pastry which are sticking up around the sides, so you have a nice even top. Cut the baklava into squares, but only cut down to about half the depth of the baklava – leave the bottom half intact.
- Bake for 15 mins at 200°C, then reduce the temperature to 160°C and bake for another 10-15 minutes until crispy and golden brown. Remove from oven.
- Whilst it’s still hot, pour over the syrup you made earlier. Now leave it to cool (there aren’t many baked goods I find are nicer when they’re cold, but baklava is one of them).
- Enjoy those sticky squares of deliciousness on their own, or with some pistachio ice cream (I couldn’t completely forego the pistachios, after all).