Thursday, 30 December 2010

Christmas Breads, a Christmas Story & special present

I made some tear and share breads on Boxing Day. At the moment, I'm still at my parents' house in Scotland with Oliver - but we fly back tomorrow. It's fair to say that this has been an eventful trip !

We were due to fly up early on the morning of Christmas Eve. I woke Oliver at 6am and got him ready. My husband and I had our bags packed from the night before, ready to leave first thing that morning. On the realisation that we were about to fly to Scotland and Santa was on his way, Oliver was rather excited to say the least. "Oliver go to Nanny's. Oliver go to Nanny's on plane ! Oliver go now to Nanny's !" he chanted all the way to the airport.

At the last set of traffic lights just before the entrance to the airport, realisation dawned. Steve had forgotten to bring his wallet containing his ID and we were not going to be able to fly without it. Damn and blast ! There was no option but to turn tail and go home for his wallet.... Perhaps Oliver wasn't going to Nanny's and maybe Santa would not come :-(

The roads were really icy and slippy and the return trip home simply took too long. It was impossible to get back to the airport to make the flight - so the only alternative was to make the journey by car.... Approx 8 hours drive versus 1.1/4 hours by plane.

I must say - I really thought such a long car journey would be an absolute nightmare with a toddler.... but Oliver was good as gold the whole way and kept checking whith us that we WERE going to Nanny's.

On Boxing Day, I decided to make some tear and share bread for everyone as a treat... Most especially as I fancied something yummy ! We were meant to go to my aunt and uncle's for Christmas dinner with the rest of the family the previous day, but things didn't exactly work out to plan. Oliver had taken rather poorly again on Christmas eve with fever and vomitting which continued right through Christmas day (and beyond). Thankfully, he was bright enough early in the morning for an hour of opening presents from Santa

My husband and I stayed with Oliver at my parents and had toast and cheese on Christmas day, instead of joining everyone for Christmas dinner

A sick Oliver asleep in front of the television on Christmas day.

My wonderful parents had a very special Christmas present for me which was totally overwhelming. They had created a hard back book of my blog to date - basically a whole year of blogging with all the photos and recipes ! It's such a super thing to have, and extra special to me because there are so many photos of Oliver in it too.

There is an online sharing application which lets me let you all look through it too ! However, it doesn't like me altering the html to centre it on the page for some reason - so apologies for that.

Recipe below is enough for two "special" tear and share style breads.
Bread recipe

1000g / 1kg of strong white bread flour
50 g melted butter
3 x sachets of instant yeast
3 egg yolks
2tbsp of sugar
1.1/2 tsp salt
600ml lukewarm water

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl until they come together. Knead for about 10mins until dough forms a smooth ball and glutens develop. Split into two pieces (or just make 1/2 the recipe !)and put each piece into a bowl covered with oiled cling film. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size.

When the dough has had it's first rise, take one of the pieces at a time and roll it into a long, flat piece - about 600mm long x 200mm deep. Spread the first few inches of the dough with the filling of your choice.

I chose 3 fillings. My first bread was some leftover sweet mincemeat. One half of this bread, I also sprinkled dreid cranberries and broken pecan nuts onto the mincemeat. On the other half, I placed tiny little balls of marzipan.

The third filling (for the second bread) is not shown unrolled - but was a homemade cranberry sauce made with orange zest and sloe gin and finished after cooking with some melted dark chocolate.

Roll up your bread from the long end like a giant sausage - adding more filling as is required along the way. You want the filling to stop about 1" / 25mm before the end so you have some plain dough left to seal the bread. Brush this bare section with a little beaten egg wash or some milk.

Cut the giant bread dough sausages into 2" high sections and stand on a non stick bakeware tray. I like to use a 10" round silicone baking pan mould at home. This gives a really good shape to this type of bread and it comes out looking like a big wheel. Search the blog for bread if you want to see examples.

Leave these to rise for about 30mins before baking. I think they took about 15mins in a 170deg fan oven.

 Sweet mincemeat and marzipan tear and share bread - topped with toasted almond flakes. This can also be liberally dusted with icing sugar on removing from the oven.

Pretty - isn't it ?

Whilst I had a little time "creating" in the kitchen, Pappy (grandad) and Oliver had a snooze...

Well - it's almost all over now ! In under an hour, Oliver and I leave for the airport to fly home. Unfortunately, Oliver is still not very well. Steve (my long suffering husband) drove home on Tuesday and as lovely as our visit here has been, it will also be good to get home.

Sarah-Jane Nash - 30/12/2010

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Upside Down Banana Pudding - a warm and sticky treat !

Well - I'll admit I'm cheating a bit here. It's a few weeks since I made this - but then again, I have been terribly behind in blogging !

Pudding is something I rarely make. However, sometimes when it's cold and dark outside it's quite comforting to make and devour a good old fashioned English pud. It's sweet and syrupy. The hot bananas are lovely and the little alcohol hit from the plump sultanas was nice but not overpowering.

This recipe originates from OLIVE magazine last year and is posted on the BBC Good Food Website here.

Apologies for the photos - they really are not good. The lighting was dismal and everyone was waiting to eat it - including Oliver who was bouncing up and down like a puppy on a lead whilst yelping "Pudding, pudding, pudding!"

It was all I could do to keep the fabric on the kitchen side as he was so keen to get to this .... It's a miracle that somehow it did not land on the floor !


100g of sultanas
50ml of brandy or rum
5 large bananas
75g softened butter
100g caster sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla
175g self raising flour
60g of pecans*
1/2 tsp nutmeg*
1 tsp cinnamon*
8 tbsp golden syrup

I ommitted the nuts and upped the sultanas only because I didn't have any and the nutmeg and cinnamon were my own additions

Soak the sultanas in rum for 30mins. Actually, I used home made apple brandy and soaked them over night in more like 75ml.

Heat the oven to 160deg C or 140deg C if fan oven

Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper. I actually used a 2lb silicone loaf mould. I did line the base with a strip of baking paper incase it needed a bit of help with all the golden syrup and bananas at the bottom. (Next time I really wouldn't worry as the bananas were nicely bedded into the sponge part and the syrupy stuff) just runs out.

Next, put in the golden syrup.

Slice two of the bananas lengthway and then cut in half across the middle. Lay the slices into the loaf tin or 2lb silicone loaf mould / mold. The bananas want to be face down and these will eventually become the top of your pudding.

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and combine followed by vanilla, spices, flour and remaining bananas (mashed). Stir in the sultanas and then put the batter on top of the bananas

Bake for approx 50mins. Remove from oven and leave to stand for a few minutes before turning out.

Serve hot, as you like - with cream, ice cream or custard.

Not any good reheated on day two - so the chickens finished it. It's quite a good sized pud - easily serves six people.

Sarah-Jane Nash, December 2010 - - the silicone bakeware specialist cook shop

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Fresh Cream Chocolate Truffles - Fab Christmas Gift

On the final run up to Christmas, there is nothing that will put you in a more festive mood than making some homemade gifts. I'd be over the moon given some of these as a present and that's one of the reasons I like making them so much for others.

The better the ingredients you use, the better they taste. That's why I've used Callebaut Belgian Chocolate

These are really really easy to make and seriously knock spots off shop bought.

350g of good quality chocolate (dark, milk or plain)
1 cup of double cream
2 tablespoons of butter
* small amount of your favourite alchohol - can be ommitted

Extra chocolate for dipping (if required)
your choice of coatings for rolling (such as crushed nuts, cocoa powder, icing sugar...)

Put the cream in a pan and bring to the boil. Immediately, remove from the heat and our straight on to the chocolate. Keep stirring the chocolate and cream until all melted and combined. Stir in the butter until combined. If adding alcohol - you can add up to about 50ml now and stir to combine.

Put the ganache (chocolate truffle mix) into a bowl and refrigerate.

Roll small balls (or if you want to make big chocolates - a heaped teaspoon) of the ganache mixture. I like to lightly butter my hands as it makes the balls easier to roll. I wash my hand every 6 balls or so.

I put these on to a baking tray with a silicone baking sheet on top. If you haven't got one of these, you can use greaseproof paper. I then chill the balls again for 15 > 20 mins in the fridge whilst I melt my chocolate.

I made two batches of these today. One lot of white ganache with peppermint extract and one lot of milk chocolate ganache with whisky.

Oliver came and sneaked a white chocolate minty one off the kitchen side... He came into the kitchen, got his stool and climbed up beside me. "Oooooh - Mummy makes sweeties !" he jabbered before nabbing a chocolate and beetling off at warp speed ...

I dipped the truffles in melted chocolate first and then set aside again to harden before dipping a second time for a thicker coat. The second coat is much smoother than the first and gives a lovely finish. The chocolate hardens quickly as the ganache has already been chilled.

With the ones rolled in cocoa, I dipped only once in chocolate and then rolled them in the cocoa using two forks for a really rustic finish. It makes them big, gutsy and luxurious. These are at least two bites !

If you prefer a smoother finish and do not want to dip in chocolate, You cna simply roll into balls and then coat in cocoa, icing sugar or crushed nuts for a really nice finish  and amazing perfect spherical truffles.

Dipping in melted chocolate gives a lovely texture and a "crack" when you bite into

Of course - you could always use many of our silicone chocolate moulds.... Coat the inside of the chocolate mold with chocolate and leave to harden. Then, fill with the ganache before it is refrigerated and firm. Top with a little more melted chocolate to create the base and seal.

Sarah-Jane Nash, - December 2010

Friday, 17 December 2010

Oliver & Mummy Make Christmas Sugar Cookies

Well - my little Oliver has been a rather poorly little bogwoppit this week. Thankfully, he seems a bit better today and well enough to go to the nursery Christmas party today.

Oliver and I made these sugar cookies last weekend.... Or should I say - I made the dough. He watched it in the mixer. helped to roll it and stamp out the cookies. Mummy put the icing on and Oliver dipped them in sprinkles.

Not bad for a team effort !

They are good and hard and should easily keep in their cellophane bags for about a month. I thought they would make lovely little gifts for Oliver to give to friends and relatives this Christmas. We also made a pile for the nursery staff and his class teacher...which I'll let Oliver take with him today.

I spotted a really neat cookie cutter set online with and knew we could have some seriously good fun with it. The only disappointing bit is that they only ship within the USA - so the only way we could get this was via Ebay.

I'm glad we did ! There are three cutters in the set - a snowflake, Christmas bauble and a gingerbread man. All have the facility via a plunger to stamp letters and words into your cookies.

Christmas Sugar cookies

4 cups plain flour
225g butter (salted)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
vanilla essence - 2 tsp
mixed spice - 3 tsp
water - enough only to combine the dough

Beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add and beat in the egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and spice with the beaten mixture. You will  need to add a tiny bit of water to make it combine into a pliable dough.

I then split my dough batch into three. In two of the batches, I added some gel sugar paste and a teaspoon more of water and mixed it through.

We rolled out the dough on our new silicone work mat. This is a brand new product to us and I'm totally in love with it.

The work mats are HUGE. 640mm x 450mm - that's 25" long x 18" wide.

The have markings for english / imperial measurements (ie inches) along two sides and metric / cms on the other two sides. The are also marked with various diameter circles for rolling out pastry and icing. I have had super success rolling out fondant on it. I just rubbed a tiny bit of Trex / veg shortening on to the surface and got rolling. Absolutely no extra icing sugar required for rolling. Likewise, it's a dream for rolling pastry and kneading bread.

The silicone is very different to the feel of what our baking tray liners and moulds are. It's kind of stretchy - almost like a wetsuit. It grips beautifully to work surfaces. Do note that it's not meant for cutting on. You will easily cut right through it with a knife. Saying that, I trimmed some strips of fondant on it for my mums cake (see previous blog entry) but did so with great care and using a very old and blunt dinner knife and the lightest of pressure. Worked a dream. Saves my work tops getting claggy after kneading bread dough or rolling pastry. A simple wipe of a cloth and it's ready to fold or roll and put away.

It's marked with cirular rolling guides up to 16" diameter too which is mega handy.

These silicone bakeware work mats / rolling mats will be available from Monday for £7.99 each

Sarah-Jane Nash, - December 2010

Thursday, 16 December 2010

A Belated Birthday Cake Post - Happy Birthday Mum.

Forgive the rubbish photo. Everything was a bit of a rush.

My life has been chaos for the last two or three months due to the volume of pre-Christmas orders and enquiries. I've been working more hours than I can add up and there has been little time for play or blogging.

However, I did make this cake for my mum for her birthday last week with the new silicone bakeware "Say It With Cake" words and numbers moulds. All the letters and numbers are now available singly. I've yet to add them to the website as there are hundreds upon hundreds of boxes of silicone baking molds to sort out. However, I'm hoping to get them added next week - ready to ship at the start of January.

I know many of you have been waiting anxiously for these to be available to buy. They arrived with us two weeks ago, but it has been impossible to sort the massive volume of stock that has arrived in AND get pre-Christmas orders out in time. That's why it's been taking so long to get them on the website. Still - you'll be able to order as of next week for delivery in the New Year

This cake was made from my favourite fruit cake recipe and then "fed" with homemade apple brandy.

I specifically chose to make a birthday cake out of fruit cake so it would keep for a while. The couriers are all really slow at the moment and have massive backlogs from the last lot of severe weather and snow we had earlier in the month. As a result, this took exactly 1 week instead of one day to reach mum.

Still - it should taste as fresh as the day it left and easily keep (if required) for several weeks.

I lightly greased and floured the moulds before use. Instead of 2 hours cooking time, in the letter moulds this only took about 22mins until perfectly done. On removing from the oven, my tip is to cover with foil and a tea towel when hot to lock in as much moisture as possible.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Crown Muffin Moulds are HERE and now available - so exciting !

At last - we've had mountains and mountains of new style silicone moulds arrive .... many of which are my own designs. There are more boxes of them than I could possibly have believed and the store is full to bursting ! It will be a little while before we can get them all unpacked - so do bare with me. I'll introduce you to most of the new stuff as soon as I can.

Many of you will remember my earlier blog post about THE SECRET TO MAKING CAFE STYLE MUFFINS

Well - our specialist silicone bakeware mould to make crown ovens in a normal sized oven (non commercial) is now available and can be found IN OUR ONLINE SHOP HERE at an incredible price of £5.99 each. These would make an awesome Christmas gift for any keen baker.

We also ship worldwide for anyone interesed outside of the UK... but last date for overseas orders for delivery by Christmas is today.

Basically - the mould has a special recess head. You put your paper case in and fill the case right to the brim. As the cake mixture rises in the pan, it fills the recess and creates the big mushroom head.

Bingo - you've got massive muffins like those in the big chain coffee houses :-)

A mix for 12 normal muffins makes 6 of these Crown American Jumbo muffins - so take care not to eat too many or you will get very very fat !!!

Have  fun and enjoy....

Sarah-Jane,     December 2010