Polenta, Lemon & Thyme Quick Bread

Until last year I had no idea what Quick Breads were, but a Martha Mondays challenge meant that I made a wonderful quick bread involving pistachios.  I turned to Martha again for the Daring Bakers challenge this month.  A Polenta Quick Bread with Lemon and Thyme.  It spoke to me as soon as I saw it.  ‘Make me, make me’ it said.  And make it I did!

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own.  She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

As far as I can tell, quick bread is really, cake.  Like pound cake.  I didn’t really care for this recipe, it was a bit too sweet with the lemon and reminded me more of a lemon cake – which had gone wrong.

And now I have a box of polenta in the cupboard which is saying ‘use me, use me’ and use it I shall.  Recipes to follow soon.

~ Pru

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Cheddar Cheese And Buttermilk Scones

I haven’t participated in a Daring Bakers challenge since July (see all my previous Daring Baker posts here).  I’m so pleased to be back and joining in again.  When I first saw this month’s challenge I though ‘how easy’, but I was surprised to find that there is quite an art to getting perfect scones.

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!  I never knew about sifting the flour at a height to allow more air to circulate and Audax even suggested sifting the flour three or four times, although alas, I didn’t do that.

We had fruit scones on Christmas Eve which my mum made and it took two attempts to get them right.  Recently on BBC2 show ‘The Great British Bake Off’ scones were made and it was very interesting to watch the two professionals show how the scones had gone wrong, either by using too much butter, not grating the cheese correctly (you need to grate it on the coarse edge so that the cheese does not disintegrate when baking) or overworking the dough.  With my new found knowledge I got to work.

I decided to stick with British cook Delia Smith and the recipe is right here.  I have a love/hate relationship with Delia, but I love her at the moment because these scones were so good!

Combine until the dough just comes together.

Roll out until an inch thick.

A sprinkling of grated cheese and paprika.

Don’t overcooked the scones, the cheese was golden but the scones were still pale.

Simply served with butter, although mum ate then plain and loved every bite!

Be sure to check out how the other Daring Bakers did here.

~ Pru

Are you following me on Twitter or Pinterest?  If not, then click on the links.  It would make my day, possibly my week too!

Fraisier

I was quick off the mark this month. I had made and we had devoured the Fraisier within the first week of the challenge coming out. We loved it. I dream about it. It was wonderful. I love Fraisiers but would never have thought to make one as it seemed rather intimidating. In fact, it wasn’t. I’m already planning to make smaller individual cakes.

Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes (which is now one of my favourite food blogs) was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

Here are the photo steps to making the cake.

This was a great pick. I macerated the strawberries in raspberry coulis and Chambord and they were lovely and soft. The sponge was also spoon-fed the same mixture. Next time I am going to drench the sponge more!

~ Pru

Daring Bakers Challenge – Baklava

Truth be told, I was ready to jack in doing the Daring Bakers. I was wondering whether it would be better for me to challenge myself to bake something that I actually wanted to eat rather than waiting for someone else to pick something which sometimes I didn’t fancy eating, let alone making. But HOORAY! This month’s challenge of Baklava has drawn me back into the fold. I couldn’t be happier.

This month’s Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the June Challange. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that dough to make Baklava.

I had never made phyllo pastry before and I found this daunting. I wasn’t great at doing it either which each piece tearing so in the end I did use some store bought as well, as my own just didn’t cut it. I will have to keep practicing!

I used a combination of pistachios, almonds and cashew nuts and it was lovely. I will have to make this again it was an absolute winner in our house!

~ Pru

Daring Bakers – Chocolate Marquise

After not taking part in the April Daring Bakers’ challenge I was keen to return with something wonderful. The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

There were actually four components to this challenge (two being mandatory) and I decided only to make the two mandatory components which was the chocolate marquise and the torched meringue.

As many of you know, my dad doesn’t eat chocolate. I searched high and low for a non-chocolate version of this dessert (I thought strawberries might work well) but (a) I couldn’t find a recipe and (b) I’m not smart enough to adapt the recipe as much as it would need to be adapted. Chocolate it was. Dad just went hungry.

The recipe was set out to feed the five thousand and then some. Thank goodness that Audax halved and quartered the recipe otherwise I would have fed most of my road with this dessert! Audax is my knight in shining armour. I. Love. Audax.

I’m going to keep this short. This was a dessert was a bit of a pain – not many ingredients but it took an age to make and my washer-upper (my mum) wasn’t too pleased with the amount of bowls that I got through (maybe this was just me). And despite freezing the marquise for over four hours when I came to serve it, it just wasn’t hard enough. Frantically I cut out the marquise into circles using a cutter and plated them up and put them in the freezer for half an hour. It still didn’t work so I never got to roll them in cocoa.

~Chocolate Marquise, Torched Meringue and Raspberry Coulis~

The verdict? We enjoyed (and we really did enjoy it) a cold chocolate mousse with hints of cayenne, pepper and cinnamon. It was lovely. I could eat it straight out of the bowl or once it had been fridged/frozen. Delicious. Will I make it again? No. Too much hassle but the memory will stay with me for a long time. The meringue? Yuck. This was my first time using a blow torch and I practiced a couple of times first but this was just browned egg white which I ate a spoonful of and pushed to the side of my plate. A waste of egg whites in my opinion.

Check out the Daring Bakers website to see how other bakers did.

~ Pru

Daring Bakers Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

A drizzle of orange flavoured icing was all that was needed to tell friends that that was the apple brioche.

 

I was so excited by this month’s challenge – a brioche cake rolled with whipped meringue and a filling (pecans, cinnamon and sultanas and apples, sultanas and orange zest in my case).  Whenever I go to a bakery and they have brioche no one needs to ask what I want.  It’s a given that I will eat brioche.  I could eat it all day long!

 

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hoted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast.  Ria and Jamie challeneged us Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

 

Although there were three elements to be made (dough, meringue and filling) they were simple to make and didn’t take too long either – about three hours in total including baking.

 

 

 

Pecan, Sultana and Cinnamon Brioche

I mixed one cup of chopped pecans with a cup of sultanas, a teaspoon of cinnamon and two tablespoons of soft brown sugar.  I used this whole mixture on one of the brioche.  I was pleased that I used double the quantity suggested.

 

Apple, Sultana and Orange Zest Brioche

Two cooking apples were peeled and thinly sliced before adding a cup of sultanas and the zest of an orange with two tablespoons of soft brown sugar.  The sultanas, meringue filling and the small amount of sugar were all that were needed to stop the apples being too tart without being too sweet either.

 

 

The results?  Friends and family were torn over what they liked the best. I preferred the apple filling.  This was such a great challenge and I will be making this again soon. 

Daring Bakers – Raspberry & Strawberry Panna Cotta

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

When I mentioned to a friend that I would be making Panna Cotta she immediately said ‘Oooh Raspberry Panna Cotta?’.  I hadn’t decided what flavour to do but it seemed right that I went with this suggestion.  And it was good that I did because we all loved it! I chose to lightly adapt a Nigel Slater recipe (instead of the Giada De Laurentiis as I don’t like  honey) with the addition of strawberries and vanilla.

100ml full fat milk

400ml double (heavy) cream

4tbs icing sugar

2 sheets of gelatine

200g raspberries

100g strawberries, hulled and cut in quarters

1tsp vanilla extract

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Blitz the raspberries and strawberries together until they are no lumps.  Pass through a sieve to remove the pips.  (Nigel says this is optional – but I would hate to have all those pips in a dessert!)

Simmer the milk and half of the cream in a saucepan for about 5 minutes. 

Place the two sheets of gelatine in a bowl of cold water and leave for 5 minutes.  Whisk the other half of the cream and the icing sugar until it has thickened but isn’t stiff. 

Take the milk and cream mixture off the heat and add the gelatine.  Whisk until it is disolved.  Add the vanilla extract.  Then fold in the heavy cream mixture.  Place the mixture through a sieve into a large jug.

Pour in the raspberry/strawberry mixture into the jug and combine. 

Pour into ramekins or small cups (I made three cups and one ramekin from the mixture).  Place cling film over them and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

 Daring Bakers will notice though, that there are no Florentines here and the reason for that is that no one in our house likes them.  But we sure did love the panna cotta!