Thursday 28 January 2010

Homemade Sausage Rolls

Traditional Oven versus Halogen Cooker / Oven

If you've never made your own sausage rolls - I'd urge you to have a go. It's so easy your 5 year old could do it on his / her own. They also taste a MILLION times better than shop bought.

Basically, all you need is a pack of shop bought puff pastry, some sausagemeat, an onion (optional) and an egg or some milk to glaze.

Roll out the pastry and cut into rectangles. Put some sausagemeat in the middle of each one and egg wash round the outside. Press edges with a fork (leaving ends open) to seal and put a couple of slashes in the top. You can make them as big as you like. Generally, you'll get 8 giant ones, 12 standard, 16 medium or 40 mini sausage rolls from 6 butchers sausages and a pack of puff pastry

You don't have to buy basic sausagemeat - you can buy some seriously good sausages these days and just remove the skins. I buy ours from the butchers and last weeks special (shown here) was pork, gammon and pineapple.

I cooked the first batch in the conventional fan oven for 20mins at 210 deg C on a silicone baking sheet on top of a tray.

I cooked the second batch in my Sarah-Jane's Halogen Oven on a baking tray at the same temperature (ALWAYS preheat oven for bread / pastry for 5 mins full power). These were nicely done in just 10mins. Super watching them - they rise so fast in front of your eyes :-)

I couldn't tell the difference in pastry or taste between batches - but they DID stick to the non stick baking tray in the halogen oven..... and they glided off the silicone baking sheet from the conventional oven.

The non-stick baking tray with the halogen oven is very good - but if something is going to stick, it will. I'm going to cut a silicone sheet to fit the circular halogen oven tray

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Traditional Scottish Shortbread - and Not So Traditional !

This attempt was inspired by Kay. Kay informed me yesterday that she was buying our new Fleur-De-Lys silicone mould to make cakes or cookies for a visitor who is a keen follower of New Orleans Superbowl. Seemingly, the Fleur De Lys is the emblem for the New Orleans Saints.

I hope I've got that right !

Well - I've had super success making soap with this mould. The soaps come out truly beautiful. I haven't had time to play with cakes / biscuits using it to date.... but Kay sort of inspired me to have a go.

With a yearning for home, reckoned it was time to make some Shortbread to my Granny's recipe. I then also decided to give it my own new twist .....

It worked some ways better than I imagined - though slightly different to how I thought it might turn out.

Traditional Shortbread

100g / 4 oz of plain flour
50g / 2 oz of cornflour (or rice flour)
100g / 4 oz of butter
50g / 2 oz of caster sugar

I do usually double this recipe......

Sift the flours into a bowl. Cut the butter and rub into the flour with your fingertips. Add the sugar and knead to combine. Either press into a shortbread tin, or roll into a cylinder and cut off 1/2 thick circles. Works fine stamping out with cookie cutters too - but don't forget these will be quite fragile when cooked.

Place on your silicone baking sheet and cook for 30 mins in a cool oven - 150deg C / 300deg F or until firm to the touch. Dust with more caster sugar when still warm

My Not So Traditional Shortbread

90g plain flour
30g cornflour
40g cocoa powder
100g butter
50g caster sugar

cook as above for traditional recipe - may need a few extra minutes.
Here is a batch of each dough. Do not touch one and then the other without first washing hands - or the normal dough will look rather muddy !
First of all, I pinched off pieces of the chocolate shortbread dough and filled the inset embossed part. I then used the normal dough to fill the rest of the cell. After doing 5 like this, I then swapped to using normal dough for the insets and filled the rest of the cell with chocolate dough.
The dough does rise slightly. I wasn't expecting it to behave as it did. The chocolate dough sank a bit in the middle and rose more on the outside. If making these again, I'd 3/4 fill the cells rather than totally filling them. As these were rather thick, they took just over 40mins to cook.
I did have to leave them to cool until just warm before turning out. Finished photo as below..
With the remaining dough, I rolled one normal long sausage shape and two chocolate ones. Slightly squashed them together and then rolled flat until 1/2" / 12mm thick. Then, I cut this into eight pieces.
These were baked at 160deg C for 30mins on a silicone baking sheet. They tasted absolutely divine with a serious chocolate hit but the crumbliness of good shortbread

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Butternut Squash and Bacon Bake

Recipe for Sarah-Jane's Halogen oven - but could easily be adapted to a standard oven. This recipe should easily serve 3 adults as a main along with salad or crusty bread. It could also serve 6 as a side dish.

1kg butternut squash (I used two small ones)
8 slices of back bacon, or 4 slices of thick butchers bacon
300gram tub of creme fraiche
75g gruyere (grated)

Cut the tops off the butternut squash. Cut them in half and scoop out the seeds

Score the flesh of the squash in both directions almost to the skin. Rub all over with olive oil. Season well. If desired, you can sprinkle with garlic granules, ground cumin and some chilli flakes.

Cook on the low rack in the halogen oven for approx 20mins at 180deg C until the flesh is soft. The cooking time obviously depends on the size of the squash.

Chop the bacon into approx 1cm pieces and fry until crispy.

When the squash is cooked, scoop from the skins into an oven proof dish. Add the creme fraiche, bacon bits and 1/2 the cheese and carefully combine. Top with remaining grated cheese.

Return the dish to the halogen cooker at 180deg for approx 10 > 15mins until piping hot and cheese is bubbly.

Wednesday 20 January 2010

And RELAX.....

Time for a nice hot bath and a chance to try and relax. Not easy after a day I like I've had today....
Silly newly passed boy racer ran into me when I was on my way to work. Little country roads and he was going far far too fast. I saw him coming and pulled in to let him past. However, he was coming so quick - that when he braked on a muddy road he just kept going and ended up smacking straight into my car. I'm lucky - mine has little damage. His is much worse off - and he'll have his mum to answer to !

Thank goodness for mobile phones. I've got photographic evidence from the scene if he decides to change his mind about admitting liability.

And so to soap.....

We got some lovely new silicone bakeware moulds in just after Christmas. I'm having lots of fun making things with them for photographic reasons - especially soaps. Many of the silicone bakeware moulds are equally as good for soaping.
Due to high demand we're also going to be stocking melt and pour soap and shampoo base in normal and sls free varieties. These will be available from 1st February, and we hope to be able to offer frangrances for soaps, other cosmetics and candles shortly after.

Our new mini loaf tin moulds have been moving very quickly as they're fab for both mini loaves, mini tea breads and also large bath soaps. I made a cinnamon and orange bath soap in one yesterday.

The soap made in one of these moulds has lovely rounded edges and is a pleasure to hold. It weighs in at a hefty 200grams.

Pictures below.
Forgive the dent in the top and the fingerprints. I dropped it prior to the photographs !

Monday 18 January 2010

Luscious Lemon Tart - Halogen Oven / Cooker Recipe

Here is a lovely recipe for a lemon tart - my copy of the recipe came from Poet on the Omlet forum -

I've adjusted cooking times to suit the halogen oven and used the low rack

Pastry base - either use ready made shortcrust pastry if you want to cheat - or quantities as below :

100g plain flour (preferably 00 if you have it)
40g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
60g butter

Pulse in a mini food processor to combine - or rub fat, flour and sugar until it forms crumbs, then use egg yolk to bind.

I rolled it out straight away to line a little less than 1/2 way up a standard 9" spring form cake tin. You could use a flan tin if you have one.

Chill in the fridge for at least 20 mins (covered in cling flim or with baking parchment pressed in place over the pastry) to rest.

Preheat halogen oven to 200deg for approx 3 mins. Then, bake the pastry case for approx 8 mins at 180deg. I didn't bother blind baking - as the halogen oven is so fast. It did rise slightly in the middle, but I patted this down on removing from the oven and it did not crack the base.


1 x 397 gram tin Nestle Carnation Condensed Milk
Juice of 3 lemons (or 130 > 140ml long life lemon juice - such as Jif)
3 egg yolks - ours are laid in the garden !

Mix filling in a bowl and then pour into your pastry case (still in the tin)

Pop the whole lot back in the halogen oven at 180 deg for 10mins - see picture below

As soon as cooked, remove from halogen oven. As the halogen oven keeps all moisture in, if you don't take off the lid - the pastry would become soggy as it starts to cool down.

Once your tart is cool enough, you can refrigerate - or serve at room temperature. Dust with icing sugar if required before serving.

Can be served with some pouring cream or ice cream and a few fresh berries.

After demolishing, the team have agreed that this would make a fab base for a lemon meringue pie. We'll try it with a merinuge topping another day !

Lemon Viennese Tarts

Sunday 17 January 2010

The "CAKE" Cake

From time to time, I get people emailing me who would like a step by step guide on making a CAKE cake. Well, here it is !
Really - it's very simple. Below volumes and times are for a fan oven and the CAKE cake mould
6oz butter or margarine (I prefer using butter)
6oz caster sugar
6oz self raising flour
3 eggs
20 to 25mins at 180deg C
First of all, lightly grease all of the inside of your mould. I much prefer to use cold spreadable butter for this - and apply using a piece of kitchen roll. Pay particular attention to all the corners and tricky bits.

These moulds are very flexible and you DO need to put them on a baking sheet in the oven. Around 8 single letter moulds will generally fit on a standard baking sheet.
To ensure perfect release every time with letters and numbers (any tricky shapes) DO very lightly grease and flour (tapping out any excess before filling) every time you use them

Weigh out butter and sugar. Place these in your mixing bowl. Make sure that the fats are either cold or room temperature. DON'T melt the fat first or it will separate.

Cream them together until pale and moussey either with a hand mixer or a wooden spoon and some elbow grease.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating them in. You want to keep as much air in your mix as possible. After combining the eggs, carefully mix in the sifted flour. It'll then look something like the photo below

Bake in the oven at 18deg C fan oven for approx 20 > 25 mins. It's ready when a skewer comes out clean. This one was on a timer for exactly 25 mins. It wouldn't have wanted any more - would likely have been spot on at about 22mins

Leave for a while in the mould to cool. Cakes are very fragile to handle when hot.

You should really always leave cakes in silicone moulds until totally cool - especially where the mould has a patterened bottom or the definition may be lost. However, to make a point, you can see where I've pulled the side away from the mould with a spoon handle below to show how easy to release it is. This cake was straight out of the oven and piping hot.

I did actually then turn it straight out - which is something I never do - just to prove it was possible. Doesn't half burn your fingers though ! I did put it back in the mould to cool as otherwise it would dry out too much.

Once cool, turn your mould out onto a wire rack. Invert the letters so that the raised surface sticks up. This needs sliced off using a knife with a serated edge. Bread knife is best. Take care when slicing the crusty top off. It doesn't ALL need to come off - but it wants to be leveled as this is going to become the base.

Normally, I'd now split each letter through the middle to fill with jam and cream. This one is going to be transported by pram though - so I'm keeping it simple !

You may prefer to make two and stack one lot of letters on top of the other.

Next, it's time to decorate. Probably the easiest way is also the most effective....

Using a tea strainer, dust the tops with icing sugar.

Here it is, finished and ready to go. This one is just basic and has not been filled as I normally would. However, it was really just done for photographic purposes. It's now going in Oliver's pram basket and will be a nice little suprise for Gilly and her daughter Florrie to enjoy for tea.

Hope you liked it Gilly & Florrie xx

Spoon the mix into your CAKE cake tin. Have a cup of cold water to hand and smooth the mix over with a wet finger to level, making sure the mix is even throughout the letters. The cells will be a little over 1/2 full. There will be NO leftover mix. I've given you a mix recipe to create just enough.

Saturday 16 January 2010

Cheats Chocolate Pots

From the minute I got my hands on these silicone shot glass moulds, I was dying to try them with chocolate. Ice ? What a waste - if like me you don't like alcohol.

Instead, I came up with the idea of a Cheats Chocolate Pot - one of the fastest desserts ever. I think it should feature in Nigella Express or Delia's Cheats .... but it's probably too simple for that !
I'll warn you now - you need a lot of chocolate. However, it makes an impressive dinner party dessert. Very easy if you want to jazz it up a bit to feel you have actually done something.


420g chocolate
3 x milky bar white chocolate desserts - or make your own chocolate mouse
handful of frozen summer fruits berries

Start with 420g of chocolate - milk, dark or white. I've had terrible trouble melting chocolate in the microwave - even on low setting. When it cools it goes white and mildewy looking. Most unattractive. It really is far better and easier to use the double boiler method.

Put a pan of water on the cooker and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and sit a glass bowl on top with the chocolate in (chopped) - making sure bowl does not touch the water.

Stir as it starts to melt. Once melted, remove from the heat.

Once melted, you can spoon it into your mould. Use a teaspoon handle or similar and stir round the sides of each cell to make sure that you release any air bubbles. You don't want big holes in your chocolate cups once they've set !

Literally, that's it. Simply wait until it's set. You can cheat and shove it in the fridge for a while... But this would be best done several hours before you require it or ever a day or two before and allowed to set naturally.

When removing from the mould, do NOT touch the chocolate unless you want unattractive fingerprints on your cups ! Instead, as you push it out with one hand from the mould - put a little bit of cling film round the cup and pull out with the other hand.

Put the chocolate cup on the plate and fill with either your chocolate mouse or (as in the picture) Milky Bar white chocolate dessert. Dress with a few frozen summer fruit berries for a fresh zing and mouth cleanser.

Could it really be any easier ???

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Peach and Raspberry Crumble

It's cold and snowing outside and I'm stuck at home with a poorly teething baby. He's not well enough to go to nursery and even Iggle Piggle can't keep him occupied any longer.

Oliver has decided to help Mummy with the washing ! I went to the bathroom and came back to a baby unloading dirty clothes out the washing machine. It was only AFTER I put the washing machine and turned it on that I realised it wasn't dirty washing he was removing. It was clean stuff I'd taken out the tumble drier from the basket - ready to fold and go upstairs.

What do you want when it's cold ? A nice roaring log fire and a comforting, warm pud in your tummy. Well - the stove is lit. I've got an Abbey - you can see it at - the one with the deep red chimney breast.

As for the pud - we'll - its even better as there is some store-cupboard standby stuff BEGGING to get used up before the big spring clean !

I figure my dearly beloved might like a nice hearty pudding today - so I'm making a Peach and Rasperry Crumble in my halogen oven. It's all prepared ready to pop in later.


You'll need :

plain flour (self raising will also do), butter, sugar, a couple of tins of tinned peaches and some frozen raspberries

I've got a 1 litre dish I use for things like this.

Put 2 tins of peaches (sliced or halves will do - just chop into chunks) into the dish and top with a good big handful of frozen raspberries.

Put in 3 or 4 tablespoon of reserved fruit juice from the peaches and sprinkle with a 1/2 dessertspoon of sugar.

Pre-heat the halogen oven for 3 > 4 minutes at 180deg C, then pop this in, uncovered for apprpx 10 mins

Whilst that's getting the fruit nice and hot, prepare the topping.

Standard crumble mix is 2 parts flour to one part butter and one part sugar

4 oz plain flour
2 oz sugar
2 oz cold butter

Rub these together until they form crumbs, then put on top of the fruit.

If you have any demerara sugar lying around in the cupboads - a sprinkling of this on the very top will give a nice crunch.

I've become a huge fan of halogen convection ovens. Everything cooks in a fraction of the time and they use so much less energy than a normal cooker. These will soon also be available on and you should find all my Halogen cooker recipes and cooking times on there.
Here you can see the crumble is in the oven. I put mine in at 180deg for 20mins. Like a normal oven, you'll need oven gloves to get it out. It's hot in there !
That's it. Ready to serve !