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Savvy shopping, seasonal eating and thrifty recipes. Spend less on groceries and enjoy better tasting, easy to prepare meals your friends and family will love – all on a budget.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Chocolate Fudge Bread Buns - Bready, Steady, Go!

I was asked my Jen from Jen's Food if I wanted to resurrect a monthly bread baking challenge, of course I said yes without hesitation!  I bake our bread, baking almost every day, so jumped at the chance of a monthly challenge to encourage me to develop new recipes and try out new types of yeast based bread bakes.

Jen is hosting the challenge this month and I am joining in with this recipe I baked to use up some micro Easter eggs we had left over after Easter, I also added some fudge chunks for extra flavour.  These buns disappeared in record time and my family are already asking when I shall be baking them again, using chocolate chips instead of micro Easter eggs.

Chocolate Fudge Bread Buns

450g strong white bread flour
50g sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fast action dried yeast
300ml semi skimmed milk
50g butter
80g pack fudge chunks
100g micro Easter eggs or chocolate chips

Put the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Measure the milk and butter into a microwave safe jug and heat until the milk is luke warm and the butter is starting to melt slightly.  Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms. 

Knead the dough for 7 - 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Cover and prove in a warm place until doubled in size.  Line a couple of baking trays with non-stick baking paper.  Knock back the dough then knead through the fudge and chocolate chunks.  

Divide the dough into portions, we made 16 buns, and place the shaped dough portions onto the prepared trays.  Cover and leave to prove again until doubled in size.  Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6.

Bake the buns for 10 - 12 minutes or until golden and cooked through.  Cool on a wire rack.

Head on over to Jen's blog to link up your bread baking blog posts! 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Simnel Cake

I don't normally make a Simnel Cake, my husband dislikes fruit cake and marzipan, and my girls have never asked if we could bake one.  A friend asked me to bake one to take on her regular visit to an aged care home as one of the residents mentioned they would really like a piece of Simnel Cake over Easter.  I used my usual fruit cake recipe, spiced slightly differently.

Simnel Cake

175g caster sugar
175g butter
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 2 tsp vanilla extract
225g plain flour
3 medium free range eggs
1 tsp ground mixed spice
500g mixed dried fruit
50g glace cherries, finely chopped
1 or 2 Tblsp milk
250g marzipan

Preheat your oven to 150C/130C Fan.  Grease and double line a 7 inch/18cm cake tin.

Knead the marzipan on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar for a couple of minutes until it softens and is pliable.  Divide the marzipan into three, cut two 18cm/7inch diameter circles then divide the third portion into 11 and roll into small balls.  Cover the prepared marzipan with clingfilm and refrigerate or set aside until needed.  

Next make the cake.  Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, add a tablespoon of flour with each egg, beating well after each addition.  Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the dried fruit.  Make sure that the dried fruit is coated in flour.  Gently but thoroughly mix the fruit and flour into the creamed mixture, add the milk if the mixture seems too stiff.

Put half of the mixture into your prepared tin.  Place one 18cm/7inch circle of marzipan on top of the mixture.  Carefully put the rest of the cake mixture into the tin and level the top.

Put the cake into the preheated oven and bake for 2 hours to 2 and a half hours until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin.

Once the cake has cooled preheat your grill to a moderately high heat.  Not maximum heat or the marzipan will burn instead of toast.  Heat some jam in the microwave or a small saucepan until it is runny, I used about 3 tablespoons of jam.  Brush this over the top of the cake then place the marzipan circle on top.  Use a little jam to adhere the 11 balls of marzipan to the marzipan disc.  Place the cake under the grill for a few minutes until the marzipan toasts slightly.  Do keep a close eye on the cake under the grill, it can burn very quickly if not watched carefully.  Once the cake has cooled you can tie a ribbon around the middle if you want.  

My daughters decided to decorate the top marzipan disc by rolling it over a patterned icing mat to make a diamond pattern. This was done before the final grill process.  Once the cake had cooled they decorated it further by putting sugar flowers and micro Easter eggs on top.