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Welcome to my blog- A place of food, cakes and bakes! Just a fun-loving student who loves to bake!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Cinnamon Pear and Chocolate Tart

It's safe to say that I am a big lover of fruit and, as cheesy as it sounds, I'm very big on getting my five-a-day. So when I go to the kitchen and find a measly grapefruit in the fruit bowl, I'm not a happy bunny. I expressed this to my mumma, and the next day she consoled me with enough fruit to open a fruit stall! Name any fruit and we had it! I couldn't help but giggle when I saw how much she'd bought. Anyway, she'd bought some pears and we don't often have pears so this was exciting times! Except, she'd bought about 6 of them, along with the other mountain of fruit. So being the good non-wasteful person I am (ahem), I came up with this: (excuse the dodgy photography, was in a bit of a hurry!)

You'll need:
Approx. 200g Shortcrust pastry
3 Pears, peeled and quartered
110g (4oz) Caster Sugar
Zest of half a Lemon
50g (2oz) Dark Chocolate
30g (1oz) Butter/Margarine
3 tbsp Golden Syrup/ A large squidge full
1 Egg
Half a tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas Mark 6. Grease a 9inch fluted tart tin and line with your pastry. Bake blind for 10 minutes.

Put the pears in a pan and cover with water. Add 50g of the sugar, the lemon zest and a good shaking of cinnamon. Bring to the boil and then cover and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Remove pears and leave to drain in a colander/sieve.

Put the chocolate into a bowl and melt over a pan of simmering water. Meanwhile, heat the sugar and the syrup together until the sugar has dissolved. Make sure the sugar has fully dissolved or you'll end up with slightly crispy crust on top of your filling once cooked. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 3-4 minutes but make sure it doesn't burn. 

Whisk the egg into the melted chocolate and add the syrup mixture along with the vanilla extract. Mix well. On a chopping board, cut small slices in the pears but making sure they don't go all the way through! Pour the mixture into the pastry case and then place the pears in. I did it the other way around and found it hard to  pour in the mixture without covering the pears. Bake for 30 minutes, until the filling is set. 

Happy Baking! 

Please leave a comment below! 
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P.S  I am in a show at the Epsom Playhouse called Half A Sixpence with Lottie from Lottie's World of Cakes and Bakes from Tuesday 9th-Saturday 13th October. We play the parts of two shopgirls called Kate and Flo!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Lemon Chicken and Roast Vegetables on a bed of Couscous

I've always been a fan of Mediterranean vegetables and so this was a very simple, quick and easy recipe to cook when I offer to cook dinner (which admittedly, isn't very often!) I always find cakes and puddings so much more interesting as I've found that you can think up a meal in seconds with what's in the fridge, where as producing a cake is more like an art form. Am I alone in thinking this? I'm not saying that savoury cooking is boring, it's far from it, but I don't get as much pleasure from pouring over savoury recipes than sweet. 

It was not long ago that I discovered my love for couscous; when I found out how easy it is to make it was an added bonus! It certainly makes a change from when you don't fancy stodgy potatoes or chips. And so chicken seemed like the obvious answer to pull this meal together, with a few added flavourings.  

To serve 2, you'll need:
Half a Red Onion
1 Courgette
Half a Red Pepper
Half a Yellow Pepper
Handful of Cherry or Vine Tomatoes
Olive Oil
2 Chicken Breasts
1 Lemon
Half a chicken or Vegetable Stock Cube
250ml (approx.) Boiling Water
200g (approx.) Dried Couscous

Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas Mark 6. Chop up the vegetables into chunky pieces and place in a roasting tin. Drizzle over some olive oil. Prick the chicken breasts and squeeze over some lemon juice and sprinkle on the oregano. Place 2 slices on lemon on top. Lay some foil in another roasting tin and put the chicken inside. Drizzle over some olive oil and close the foil over the chicken, creating a little parcel.

Place both tins into the oven and roast for 35-45 minutes. The vegetable should be soft and beginning to char and the chicken should no longer be pink. Before serving dissolve the stockcube into the boiling water ans pour over the couscous in a jug and leave to absorb. This should take 5 minutes. Drain away any excess liquid from the couscous and serve.

Happy Baking! 

Please leave a comment below! 
Follow @nicsfeasts and  @NicckkNackk

P.S  I am in a show at the Epsom Playhouse called Half A Sixpence with Lottie from Lottie's World of Cakes and Bakes from Tuesday 9th-Saturday 13th October. We play the parts of two shopgirls called Kate and Flo!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

My First Loaf of Wholemeal Bread

After watching of Lorraine Pascale's cookery programs, she's really got me inspired to bake bread. Admittedly, her bakes are usually flavoursome foccacias or tear-and-share bread but I chose to make a standard wholemeal loaf. Thought it would be a simple way for getting a feel for bread making.  But I would like to start experimenting with different flavour combinations and ways of getting the perfect crispy crust and soft inside. I was almost baking blind with this as all I had was a simple recipe, a couple of tips and no experience. It went quite well, except it could have done with a bit longer in the oven! So any bread making secrets you have, I would be grateful for them!

You'll need:
500g (18oz) of Wholemeal Bread Flour
1 7g Sachet of Dried Yeast
1 ½ tsp of Salt
2 tbsp Runny Honey
3 tbsp Sunflower Oil
250ml Warm Water (extra may be needed) 

Put the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl. Make a well/hole in the middle and pour in the honey and oil. A tip for the honey is to put your spoon under hot water from the tap to warm it. This makes the honey slip off the spoon easier. Add the water and mix into a soft dough. I found the dough a bit dry so I added a touch more water.
Once you dough has come together, put it onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Once finished, put your dough into a greased loaf tin and cover with cling-film. Put it in a warm place to prove for 45-60 minutes or until it's doubled in size. When I made a loaf of bread mix before, I used the airing cupboard but I was luckily enough to have a very sunny windowsill. You could almost watch it rising! 

Preheat the oven to 220oC/430oF/Gas Mark 7. When watching Lorraine, I noticed her putting a tray of water in the bottom of the oven to create a steamy environment. I think this lets the bread rise before the crust become hard and crusty and stops it. But I think I may stop this until I more comfortable with making bread and know a bit more about it. When you put the loaf in, turn the oven down to 200oC/400oF/Gas Mark 6. The recipe said to bake for 25-30 minutes but I would say 30-40 minutes. It will be ready when golden brown and the bottom should sound hollow when tapped. Turn it out and leave to cool on a coolign rack. 

Happy Baking! 

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Sunday, 2 September 2012

Irresistible Squidgy Chocolate Brownies

You will need:
200g (7oz) Dark Chocolate (Preferably 70% cocoa solids)
150g (5oz) Butter/Margarine, at room temperature
3 Eggs, at room temperature
225g (8oz) Caster Sugar
100g (3½ oz) Plain Flour, sifted
1 tsp Baking Powder
1-2 tbsp Cocoa Powder, sifted

Preheat oven to 180oC (fan 160oC/350oF/Gas Mark 4). Line a 8 inch square tin with greaseproof paper- although I used 7.5 and it worked. Add the butter/marg and half of the chocolate to a heatproof bowl and sit over a pan of gently simmering water to melt the ingredients, stirring occasionally. When melted, leave to one side to cool.

Add the eggs and sugar to another bowl and mix until creamy. Now fold in the cooled chocolate mixture, then the flour and finally the baking powder and cocoa.

Chop the remaining chocolate into small chunks and stir in 3/4 of the chocolate into the mixture. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and level the surface. Sprinkle the left over chocolate chunks evenly on top, pushing slightly into the mixture.

Put in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is starting to crust. Remove and leave to cool before slicing it into 12 big pieces or 16 smaller pieces.

Happy Baking! 

Please leave a comment below! 
Follow @nicsfeasts and @NicckkNackk