Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Bram Brack

Bram Brack
A traditional Irish spiced bread eaten around Halloween (very tasty anytime)
Items were placed in the dough to predict the future year ahead,
a coin meant the finder would have wealth or good fortune, a ring meant the finder would be married within the year, a thimble they would remain single, a bean ment money worries. I would not recommend adding any items to your bread, it might spoil the taste, also if anyone breaks a tooth it may result in costly dentist bills (plus they will not be able to eat the bread) Instead place the items in little boxes which your Halloween guests can open, much safer.

In a bowl add:

  • 1 heaped tsp fast action dried yeast (or if you prefer use fresh yeast prepared in normal way and added with wet ingredients)
  • 8 oz/ 250 g/ 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 heaped tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 oz/50 g/2 tbsp caster sugar
Mix all dry ingredients together, make a well in centre and add

  • 1/4 pt/ 125 ml/ 1/2 cup warm milk (if the milk is too hot to put your finger in its too hot to add to the mixture)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
Knead in

  • 6 oz/ 200 g/ 2 cups mixed fruit (I used chopped apricots but for a more traditional brack you can use a mix of sultanas, currants, & raisins)
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds (not in traditional recipes but I like the texture and taste)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon chopped candied peel lightly knead together adding the fruit, peel and nuts   
Place in a greased round cake tin (if using silicone bakeware you do not need to grease) Leave in a warm place to rise (approx 30-45 mins) Bake in the centre of the oven for 40-45 mins gas mark 6, 400°F, 200°C
Mix 3 tsp caster sugar with 3 tsp boiling water until dissolved
As soon as brack is removed from the oven pour sugar mix evenly over the top.
brack warm or cold buttered with tea or coffee Keep covered (if hidden from other family members it will last for several days) I cut a slice and place in the microwave for 30 seconds to heat before serving (more slices require a little more time, do not over heat)

Monday, 29 September 2008

Apple Vanilla Pies

Apple Vanilla Pies

The cases are still on special offer at my local supermarket, so here's another creation with them.

1. Take pastry cases (again you can make your own if you want, just use shortcrust or sweet pastry) and place on tray

2. Sprinkle pie bases with 1/4 teaspoon of cornflour (you can also use ground rice or semolina) to keep pasty from going soggy and soak up apple juices.
Peel and slice 2-3 cooking apples (I used brambley apples because they have a great texture and taste) and pack into pie cases.
Add approx 1 teaspoon of sugar to each pie (taste a small piece of apple to see if they are sweet or sour and add more or less sugar as needed)

dust with vanilla powder (to make vanilla powder place a vanilla pod in a jar and fill with icing sugar/ powdered sugar leave for a week than use as needed. When jar is empty refill with icing sugar/ powdered sugar again). You can also buy vanilla sugar ready made.

3. Vanilla fat free sponge - whisk 1 egg with 2oz of caster sugar until pale, thick and fluffy (use a hand or electric whisk) add 1tsp vanilla essence, than fold in (by hand with a metal sponge) 2oz self raising flour
Add mixture evenly between the pies, spreading to cover. It is OK to have apple pecking out in places.

Bake on 180c/ 350f/ gas mark 4 for 25-30 minutes until brown and firm to touch

Serve with cream while still warm or leave to cool and eat as they are

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Cheats Bakewell Tarts

A traditional English dessert said to originate from Bakewell a small town in Derbyshire, England.

This is a quicker version of the classic Bakewell tart. Its quick because I got the individual pastry pies/ tarts (you can use one large pastry pie/ tart) from the frozen counter and don't make them (sometimes there's just not enough time, plus if its good enough for
Delia Smith....) the filling was given to me from a friend who said they made this often in the 70's it uses marzipan which is interesting and very quick to use. So I though I would try these retro tarts.

1. Take pastry cases (you can make your own if you want, just use shortcrust pastry or for something light and different us puff pastry) and place on tray

2. Add some a generous teaspoon of seedless raspberry jam to each pastry and spread (normally strawberry is used but I don't like the seeds you can use another fruit jam you prefer experiment)

3. Frangipane Filling: In a mixer place 1 egg, 5oz/ 125grams chopped marzipan, 2oz/ 50grams butter and blend for a few minutes until smooth.

4.Add mixture evenly between the pies

Bake on 200c/ 400f/ gas mark 6 for 25-30 minutes until brown and firm to touch

Mix 2oz/ 50grams icing sugar with enough water to make fluid, spread onto cooled tarts and add a few flaked almonds to decorate

Beware these tarts are for those with a sweet tooth

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Coffee and Pecan Nut Cake

Quick and easy cake perfect with coffee (variation on the pandan cake recipe from a few months ago. Make double or treble for larger cakes but remember to allow for longer cooking).

For the cake
  • 2.5 oz/ 70 gms/ 1/3 cup butter
  • 2.5 oz/70 gms/ 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 oz/ 145 gms/ 2/3 cup self-raising flour
  • 2.5 oz/ 70 gms/ 1/3 cup chopped pecan nuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence (I use real vanilla essence it really does taste different)
  • 1 tablespoon liquid coffee (like Camp coffee) or see below if you don't have liquid coffee
Beat together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and beat mixture
Fold in the flour then mix in the chopped pecan nuts, vanilla essence and liquid coffee
Mix until just combined (not over mixing)
Spoon mixture into your prepared loaf tin, make a small well along centre of cake to stop it having a pointy bit in the middle when cooked (unless you want a pointy bit down the middle of your cake) and cook for approx. 30 mins in a moderate heat oven or until brown.
Tip: if you put a knife into the centre of the cake it should come out clean (no mixture sticking to it) Leave to cool

For the buttercream
  • 2 oz / 50 gms/ 1/3 cup butter
  • 4 oz/ 100 gms/ 2/3 cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • 1-2 teaspoons liquid coffee (to taste)
Combine the butter, icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) and liquid coffee, beat until smooth
Spread over the cooled cake, you can add a few pecan nuts to decorate.

If you don't have liquid coffee you can mix 6 - 8 teaspoons instant coffee to 5 tablespoons boiling water stir well to dissolve and leave to cool. Use as liquid coffee essence.

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