Monthly Archives: March 2010
Given The Baker Jules has most of the say on the blog it was about time for me The Butcher & random stuff maker to have a go. As Jules has always let on I love any gadgets related to cookery and the quirky or more old-fashioned the better. Previous projects include a clay pizza oven, bread bin hot smoker, along with a meat/cheese safe suspended from the outhouse ceiling and restoring a clockwork spit (I’ve promised to blog about both of these soon). The next project in the pipeline is a cold smoker. The burner has already been fashioned from an old gas bottle but I just need an elusive wooden barrel for the smoking chamber…And you thought Jules was a food geek!
My first attempt at cheesemaking was Basic Hard cheese. This was soon followed by an attempt at a basic blue cheese. All was going well until somehow Mr & Mrs Robin found their way into the shed and found this delectable fatty treat. It couldn’t be saved for human consumption, but certainly gave the birds a feast. After that hurdle the cheese safe was born. Since the beginning I wanted to make a cheese press that would form the cheese properly and give it its characteristic truckle shape. Not one to buy things like this, I wanted to make a press from scratch. It gives me the Engineer in me a challenge. It was more or less made of items I found in the outhouse or at the Aladdin’s cave of Dad’s garage. It’s not difficult, more of an easy/medium project, you just need some basic woodworking knowledge and tools. Hopefully the photos above help explain it better than I can.
You will need:
Piece of hardwood for the base (hardwood won’t swell with the whey)
2 blocks of hardwood for inside tube
Broom handle (for holding the parts together)
Suitable lengths of wood for the sides
Piece of drain pipe
Large baking tray
1) First construct the base. Router a gully into the hardwood to allow the whey to drain from the curds easier.
2) To make the uprights at one end cut out a suitable sized notchfor the cross bar to sit in. Secure the two uprights to the base with screws.
3) For the cross bar you have two options. Fashion yourself a screw mechanism or, like me, chop down a g-clamp and embedded it in the cross bar. It works perfectly. With the cross bar in place drill the holes for the broom handles through both uprights and crossbar at the same time to ensure the holes line up. The cross bar can then be held in place with short lengths of broom handle.
4) Cut a round piece of hardwood to match the internal diameter of the pipe that will for the truckle (This needs to be a snug fit)
5) Below the screw place the piece of piping and line with cheesecloth. Fill the tube with the curd. Place the round block of hardwood in the pipe. Screw down the screw onto the block, squashing the curds (If the screw isn’t long enough use a block of wood as a spacer). Keep turning until the screw becomes tight. Tighten the screw each day until the desired density is achieved.
This month’s Fresh from the Oven challenge was hosted by Jo from Jo’s Kitchen. In the UK this recipe was brought to our attention by a Hairy Bikers programme where they gathered recipes from mothers throughout the country. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to make it so I was glad Jo chose this recipe.
The technique of shaping dough was simple and effective. Not a method I had thought of using before and may use again with other breads. One thing I did find about the bread although there was lots of sultanas and sugar sprinkled over the dough I would have liked the dough to have been a bit sweeter. In typical me style I made a splattered mess all over the kitchen when applying the chocolate topping. I’m tempted to try the cheese version at a later date.
Given there is only two of us living here we were struggling to eat it all before it went stale so yesterday the remnants were reincarnated into a bread & butter pudding. And a very good kringel & butter pudding it was!
(Makes 1 Loaf)
- 40g fresh yeast
- 1tbsp sugar
- 250ml milk, lukewarm
- 2 egg yolks
- 50g butter, melted
- 600-700g flour
- 100g butter, softened
- 3 handfuls of raisins
- 10 tsp sugar
- 150g dark chocolate (at least 50% cocoa solids)
- 75g butter
Mix the yeast and sugar in a bowl. Add the lukewarm milk and egg yolks, then mix in the flour and melted butter and knead well. Shape the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°c/Gas 6. Dust your work surface with flour. Take the dough out of the bow, knock it back and roll out to a thickness of 1cm. Spread the softened butter evenly over the rolled sheet of pastry, then sprinkle with raisins and finally sugar.
Roll up the dough like a swiss roll and cut it in half with a sharp knife. Starting from the uncut end, plait the dough, lifting each half over the other in turn. Finally, shape the plaited bread into a B shape and transfer to a buttered baking tray. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden.
In the meantime, prepare the chocolate topping by melting the chocolate and butter in a bowl over boiling water. Once out of the oven, let the bread cool down a bit, place on a serving plate and drizzle with chocolate sauce.
To make a savoury version, leave out the raisins and sugar and sprinkle the Kringel with grated cheddar instead. Add more grated cheese on top instead of the chocolate sauce.
Given my love of all cakes and all things vegetable it’s taken me nearly 28 years to accept that they can work really well together. I blame far too many dry, over sweet, mass-produced carrot cakes of the past. Hugh F-W inspired me to put beetroot in brownies and squash in cake.
About a month ago I had the sudden urge to bake carrot cake. After some recommendations on Twitter I landed on an adapted Rachel Allen recipe on TheMadHouse. I made the cake a few weeks back and it went down very well so for Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea wanted to adapt it to make mini fairy cake sized carrot cake. The mindset is that it has carrots in it so it must be good, ahem, we’ll just ignore all the other ingredients. Inspired by a flavour combination my mum suggested to me I’m going to try this cake in a couple of weeks time replacing the carrots and walnuts with courgette & pistachio. We’re planting some unusual varieties of carrots in the garden this year, Purple Haze & Red Samurai. I’m not sure if they will make it into cakes, but they could inject some interesting colour into baking.
What I’ve also learnt recently is although I’m not a big icing fan, to transform a good carrot cake into an amazing carrot cake is that it must have cream cheese icing. The slight tartness of the icing makes all the difference and brings the earthiness out of the carrots. Depending on how thick you want the icing will depend on the type of cream cheese you use. If you use the full fat variety it will make icing you can pipe, the lower fat version (which I used) is not as stiff and can sometimes collapse if piped so if using the lighter version spread it onto the cake rather than piping. These cakes have transformed me and even my cake-hating Father-in-Law to the wonders of a perfectly moist & delicious carrot cake. For an interesting twist on this recipe see my Courgette & Pistachio cake.
Mini Carrot Cakes – adapted from The Best Carrot Cake
Makes around 10 mini cakes
70ml vegetable oil or rapeseed oil, plus extra for greasing
100g muscovado sugar
150g grated carrots, (Don’t bother peeling them. I blitz them in the food processor)
35g pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
90g self-raising flour
1 tiny pinch of salt
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg or mace
¼ tsp Mixed spice
25g cream cheese, chilled
25g butter, at room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
125g icing sugar, sifted
½ orange, zest only
It’s quite a well-known fact I have a penchant for Afternoon Tea and other quintessential traditions. Who can say no to unlimited pots to tea, dainty sandwiches and all the cake you can eat? We’ve eaten Afternoon Tea in various places from Little Bettys in York to Michelin Starred tea at Northcote but I have never attempted to bake Afternoon Tea at home. Mother’s Day provided the perfect opportunity and willing participants in the form of Grandma and Mother-in-Law.
As any Afternoon Tea aficionado will tell you, there are a few essential elements – fine china, cake stand, crisp white tablecloth and sugar tongs. China I could do along with sugar tongs and cake stand but shockingly a tablecloth was harder to come by. After trawling every shop in town that could feasibly sell one, I settled on possibly the naffest 100% polyester £7 table cloth I have ever seen. It was horrible and shiny, which thankfully doesn’t show in the photos. I’m planning to replace this shocking piece of table covering with a nice cotton one in the near future.
The menu was loosely based on various Afternoon Teas we’ve eaten.
Finger Sandwiches served on homemade white bread with various fillings:
Egg & Cress
Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese
Beef & Horseradish
Honey Glazed Ham & Mustard
The advantage of this menu was that quite a bit of it was able to be made the day before with just the sandwiches being made up last minute and scones being quickly baked. The cream I served with the scones is amazing stuff. It comes from a dairy just over the border in Leicestershire. So thick it’s almost like butter and a perfect pairing with jam.
It turned out to be the perfect way to spend Mother’s Day. Everyone appeared to enjoy themselves and both Grandma & Mother-in-Law took home doggy bags of cakes.
As Aleena Naylor mentioned on Twitter a few nights ago the quality of Afternoon Tea in Derby is slipping, no self-respecting institution serves afternoon tea with tea bags. Maybe it’s about time teach Derby how Afternoon Tea should be done.
So within the space of a few posts I’ve gone from Michelin starred food to something far less refined. As I’ve spent most of the weekend feeling sorry for myself, after catching a horrible cold off Hubs, I wanted something sweet, comforting and possible to make with the contents of the cupboards. As a child my mum used to make Jelly Fluff, then at uni I was reintroduced to it by a housemate. Admittedly I don’t usually have a tin of evaporated milk hanging around, but when making Snowball Truffles back in December I accidently picked up evaporated milk instead of condensed milk.
A few weeks ago I will confess to buying some strawberry mousse from a well-known supermarket. Well they were far too sweet, tasteless and not strawberry-like in the slightest. Nothing like the Hippo Mousse I remember from my childhood. It was this that inspired me today. I suppose I wanted a bite of nostalgic comfort.
I have only ever made this with raspberry jelly, as it’s my favourite, but I have it on good authority that it works with many different flavours. It also works with both traditional block jelly and the low sugar powdered jelly. One problem with it – it’s highly addictive. So fluffy it just melts in your mouth and you want more, however it is great at kicking the sugar cravings. Oh, and who will admit to having a secret stash of Gü ramkins?
Warning: when whisking use a bigger bowl than you think you need as you’ll be surprised how much this fluffs up.
Makes 1 big, glorious bowl of the fluffy stuff
1 170g tin of evaporated milk, well chilled
1 sachet or block of jelly
1) Melt the jelly with half the amount of jelly recommended on the packet, allow to cool at room temperature for 30 min.
2) Using an electric whisk, whisk the condensed milk until it has tripled in size. While continuing to whisk gradually add the jelly. Whisk for a further 30 seconds then pour into a bowl. Put in the fridge to set.