Maundy Thursday & Tarte Aux Citron

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I hope you are all having a fabulous Easter break – here at Chateau Bake Maundy Thursday was especially exciting and special for us as L was lucky enough to be chosen to support the Royal Maundy Service in our local cathedral as on of the Royal Almonry Children. The day was full of pomp and circumstance and the service was very moving (seeing all the recipients of the Maundy Money so pleased and emotion was fantastic and made my eyes well up more than once.)

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As ever L took it all very much in his stride although he did at one point suggest he may try and “high 5″ Her Majesty which worried me slightly!
It certainly wasn’t a day we will forget being involved in in a hurry.

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Good Friday saw us back to normal life though and we spent the best part of the day trampling round the local nature reserve. Today has been even more reserved with a bit of tidying and then a dose of Harry Potter on the telly. This afternoon also saw my first attempt at Tarte Aux Citron and once I’d got over the number of eggs and lemons in this I went at it wholeheartedly. I think next time I attempt it I will give it 5 minutes less in my oven. I won’t replicate the recipe here as I followed the sainted Mary Berry to the letter but here is the link

Hope you all have a very blessed Easter xx

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Galette Des Rois (King Cake)

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Hello all, I didn’t mean to go away for so long. Doesn’t life get so busy?? I’m lucky enough to be enjoying the beginning of my Easter break whilst the juniors returned to school today with much huffing and puffing. The house being so quiet is strange for a holiday although I’m sure within hours of them being home from school I will be thinking something else!

It feels a little unusual to be blogging about a traditional epiphany linked dessert towards to end of lent but Mr Bake (who is also back to work today after two weeks off with the juniors) requested it especially so here it is. I must confess a weakness for nut based purees and creams within tarts and this lovely ticks all the right boxes by the inclusion of a creamy hazelnut paste hiding under the apple. I do believe it’s not a traditional Galette Des Rois as the puff pastry doesn’t cover the top of the pie plus there is an inclusion of sliced apple to give to some tart contrast to the hazelnuts.

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Galette Des Rois ( via The French Kitchen by Rachel Khoo)

1 packet ready made puff pastry ( or be clever and make your own!)

150g hazelnuts, shelled

1 apple

100g butter (plus extra for greasing tin)

75g sugar

1 egg

  1. Line the bottom of a 18cm cake tin with grease proof paper (I also added a strip to go over the sides to help lift it out) and butter the sides.
  2. Cut a piece of pastry to cover the bottom of the tin. Cut 2 strips with a zigzag pattern at the top to put in as the sides. Press down the sides to seal with the piece at the bottom.
  3. Put pastry lined tin in the fridge to chill for 30mins. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  4. Toast hazelnuts in a dry pan until brown. Blend till fine powder then add to the mixture the butter and sugar. Mix until combined then add the egg. Mix.
  5. Smooth paste into the chilled case and cover with a sliced apple.
  6. Turn the oven down to 180c and bake for 45 minutes.

 

I do Eclair I’m Back!

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Ho Ho Holy Hiatus! Hello people, how are you all? I’m not entirely sure what happened for me to take a break but I think it may have been a combination of back to school in September, a super busy time through Autumn, The Great British Bake Off (wasn’t it fab?!) a new member of the family and a general lack of time.

A new member of the family? This is Ozzy. Our lovely old cat Vampyre sadly died in September. We quickly realised we missed cat cuddles and we wanted a new friendly fur baby to join us. Mr. Bake went to the local rescue centre after hearing about some tuxedo kittens and came back with this gorgeous boy (who is a Blue Marbled Bengal!)

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He’s gorgeous and a bundle of fun but has a strong streak of naughty running through him. He’s super sociable though and loves a cuddle. As you’d expect the Juniors love him!

On the baking front I’ve been busy and will post some recipes over the next few weeks. My biggest achievement was getting to grips with choux pastry. I’m not sure why, but I’d decided that it was probably fiendishly difficult to make and was massively surprised at how easy I found it. Afternoon to spare? Give these bad boys a go!

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Ingredients

50g (1 ¾ oz) butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing

75g (2 ½ oz) plain flour

2 large eggs, beaten

300ml (10fl oz) double or whipping cream

100g (3 ½ oz) plain dark chocolate (about 40% cocoa solids) finely chopped

100ml (3 ½ fl oz) double cream

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (fan 200°C/425°/Gas 7). Grease a large baking sheet.
  2. To make the éclair mixture (choux pastry), put the butter in a heavy-based pan with 150ml (5fl oz) water and heat until the butter melts.
  3. Bring to the boil, tip in the flour, then remove from the heat. Stir vigorously.
  4. When a smooth paste develops, return the pan to the heat, stirring. The mixture will dry out a little and form a soft ball that comes away from the sides of the pan.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat again, leave the mixture to cool slightly, then gradually add the eggs, beating really well between each addition until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
  6. Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 1cm (½ in) plain nozzle.
  7. Sprinkle the baking sheet with water (a water spray with a fine nozzle is good for this). 8. Pipe the mixture onto the baking sheet into 7.5cm (3in) lengths, leaving room between each éclair for them to spread a bit.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190°C (fan 170°C/375°F/Gas 5) and bake for a further 20 minutes.
  9. Split each éclair in half lengthways and transfer to a wire rack to cook completely.
  10. To make the icing put the chocolate and double cream in a heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring until smooth and shiny.
  11. Remove the bowl from the pan and leave the icing at room temperature for about 30-35 minutes, or until it is cool and thick enough to coat the éclairs without dripping off them.
  12. Once the éclairs have cooled, whip the cream and spoon or pipe it into the bottom half of the éclairs.
  13. Dip the top half of each éclair in the icing, then place on top of the whipped cream.

A minor Hiatus and a Catch-Up

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Hello all, sorry I’ve been “away”, it all started with thisd99fa0226aee252695fc9222e9c62cd8

Isn’t that crazy?! With working full time, after school clubs/activities, my gym time, extended family commitments and general boring home stuff (like housework) I just felt like my time was running away from me and this summer my holiday time is shorter than usual. I just wanted to make sure I made time for the Juniors. It meant I needed to step back a bit and taste the moment – Harry Potter on the XBox with L instead of cleaning the oven – sure. Watching K learn how handstand in the pool instead of ironing – definitely.  Helping the Juniors learn and explore and try out new things? Unrepeatable time.

Don’t worry though, I, sometimes we, have been baking. I made this cake for a local charity event (it’s so important to support community) – it’s the worlds best chocolate cake inside and I promise to come back with the recipe soon as it certainly needs its own post.Breast Cancer Cake

I practiced my icing techniques265

L and I made this amazingly gorgeous Raspberry Ripple Cake from Domestic Sluttery which is now in my top 3 cakes of all time – I beg you to bake it, it’s fantastic.

Raspberry Ripple Cake

 

And I have remembered how to crochet and been working hard on this monster of a blanket.

Yarn buster blanket
CuddlesAnd we’ve cuddles, swam, movie watched, played, laughed, redecorated bedrooms

257 and just generally been together.  Hope you have had a beautiful summer too xx

 

Raspberry Cakewell and Summer Pottering.

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raspberry cakewellHello all, hope you are enjoying summer in style – we have been super busy as ever and here is a quick catch up.

Before all that can I urge you to try this recipe. It’s from The Clandestine Cake Club Book and it’s called a Raspberry Cakewell (the first rule of cake club – any idea can be turned into a cake ….) I replicated the recipe entirely and so can’t claim it as my own but PLEASE GO GET THE BOOK AND MAKE IT DAMMIT! This cake is very definitely undoing all my recent good work at the gym..

In other news, it was L’s 8th Birthday. Am I the only mum in the world that feels sad at each birthday passing? Of course I’m glad the Juniors are growing into their own independent people, I’m just alarmed by how quickly it’s happening.

L had a fab den building party for his birthday – a proper boys outdoors adventure with smoke and stink bombs, camouflage, sticks as guns and muck – lots of muck. The kids had a great time and it was seriously low stress, a great day all round. Obviously I can’t post photos of other children on the ‘net, but here are my two enjoying the day.

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Happy holidays people xx

Summer Fruit Tart for Summer Days

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Summer fruits tart

I hope you have all been enjoying the lovely weather as much as we have. My garden has been very productive and alongside some totally delicious strawberries we have also been able to harvest some super sweet baby carrots and some “natures sweeties” aka peas.

Carrot picking OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs for the strawberries, what a bumper crop this year! We have harvested a full bowl of ruby red fruit every evening for almost two whole weeks and there are still more to come. As you can imagine, I’m starting to be a little creative about using them and as a result we had a delicious summer fruit tart for a summery dessert.

This isn’t the easiest think to make but if you wanted a cheat why not use a packet of pastry (I won’t tell!)

Summer fruit tart

Summer Fruit Tart

Sweet Pastry Crust:

  • 195 grams all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 113 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 50 grams granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Pastry Cream:

  • 300 ml milk (whole)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 50 grams granulated white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons corn flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon liqueur (Grand Marnier, Brandy, Kirsch) (optional)

Apricot Glaze: (optional)

  • 120 grams apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Topping:
  • 3 cups (720 ml) fruit (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, kiwifruit, bananas, plums, pineapple, melon, etc.)

Sweet Pastry Crust:  In a separate bowl, whisk the flour with the salt. Place the butter in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, and beat until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball. Flatten the pastry into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes or just until firm (can place in freezer for about 10-15 minutes.)

Lightly butter and flour, or spray with a non-stick vegetable/flour cooking spray, an 8 – 9 inch (20 – 23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Evenly pat the chilled pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 205 degrees C and place rack in center of oven. Lightly prick bottom of pastry crust with the tines of a fork (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Place tart pan on a larger baking pan and bake crust for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 180 degrees C and continue to bake the crust for about 15 minutes or until dry and lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely before filling. Can be covered and stored for a few days.

Pastry Cream: In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together. (Don’t let the mixture sit too long or you will get pieces of egg forming.) Sift the flour and corn flour together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the milk and vanilla bean just to boiling (just until milk starts to foam up.) Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (If you get a few pieces of egg (curdling) in the mixture, pour through a strainer.) Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add the seeds to the egg mixture. (The vanilla bean can be washed and dried and placed in your sugar bowl to give the sugar a vanilla flavor.) Then pour the egg mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 – 60 seconds until it becomes thick. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the liqueur (if using). (Stir in vanilla extract is using instead of a vanilla bean.) Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. Beat or whisk before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.

Apricot Glaze:  Heat the apricot jam or preserves and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until liquid (melted). (Can also heat in the microwave.) Remove from heat and strain the jam through a fine strainer to remove any fruit lumps.

To Assemble Tart: To remove the tart from the fluted sides of the pan, place your hand under the pan, touching only the removable bottom not the sides. Gently push the tart straight up, away from the sides. The fluted tart ring will fall away and slide down your arm. If you want to remove the bottom of the pan, run a knife or thin metal spatula between the crust and metal bottom, then slide the tart onto your platter.

Spread a thin layer of apricot glaze over the bottom and sides of the baked tart shell to prevent the crust from getting soggy. Let the glaze dry (about 20 minutes). Then spread the pastry cream onto the bottom of the tart shell. Place fruit randomly on top of cream or in concentric overlapping circles, starting at the outside edge. After arranging the fruit, rewarm the glaze, if using, and gently brush a light coat on the fruit. If not serving immediately, refrigerate but bring to room temperature before serving. This fruit tart is best eaten the same day as it is assembled. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

Apricot Muffins

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ImageI hope all is well and my UK friends are enjoying the gorgeous weather without getting sunburnt! Here at Chateau Bake it is a whirlwind of school fetes, plays, school trips and assemblies before the end of school for summer and I have to say that the juniors and I are very ready for it.

At the moment Chateau Bake has a glut of 2 types of fruit – strawberries because our strawberry plants have been particularly bountiful this year (if we get there before the slugs do) and apricots because I have suddenly remembered how much I love them!

I came across this recipe on Pinterest (don’t you just love Pinterest?!) and knew I had to make it mine. I’m glad I did as it is perfect for dessert with cream in this hot hot weather. Hope you enjoy it too.

Apricot Muffins

Ingredients x 12 muffins

250 g plain flour

200 ml milk

80 g of  unsalted butter

60 g caster sugar

2 eggs

6 ripe apricots

1 tsp baking powder

icing sugar

salt

 

Pre-heat oven to 180c. Grease a muffin tin with butter and set aside.

Mix flour with eggs, a pinch of salt, milk,caster sugar and baking powder .

Melt the butter and then leave to cool. Once cool add to mixture and mix well until just moistened.

Pour the dough in the silicone muffin form until each muffin cup is 2/3 full.

Put a half of apricot in the top of each muffin with the skin side up

Bake for 30 minutes at 180 ° C, until golden brown.

Let cool and then sprinkle with icing sugar.

 

 

A Survey Request for a Fab Local Baker.

Morning all, sorry I have been off the radar, but I’ve been poorly sick with blood poisoning (!) and then the worst cold in the world.

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While I have been convalescing I have been contacted by a local firm who are thinking about moving from a home based business into a shop where there will be a baking supplies shop, a cake shop, lessons for amateur bakers and childrens party’s. Being not at all far from me I think it sounds a fabulous idea, and being especially keen on getting cake supplies locally I can’t wait for it to open!

Ruth has put together a survey to gauge what people would like from her business, and there is a £25 voucher to a prize draw winner. Please help a fellow baker by filling in this quick survey

Cakes by Ruth Survey

Thanks, Paula xx

Clandestine Cake Club and Shortbread Two Ways

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Clandestine Cake ClubYesterday was my second Clandestine Cake Club meeting and the theme this time was 1st Birthday as it was the Ribble Valley CCC’s 1st anniversary. The occasion was sponsored by Yorkshire Tea (a little dangerous when you are in Lancashire!) and there was a great turn-out.

Parkers Arms Newton by Bowland

The event was held at The Parkers Arms in a gorgeous village called Newton by Bowland which is right in the heart of the very beautiful Trough of Bowland. By some luck I’d read the email wrong and arrived a whole hour early, and so I just had to sample some of the wonderful food on offer and enjoy this unbelievable view! The staff were all fantastically friendly and accommodating, I’d recommend that you check it out if you are able.

Parker ArmsClandestine Cake ClubAs you can see there were a lot of cakes to sample – I made a Red Velvet Cake with a recipe from The Graphic Foodie via The Hummingbird Bakery. I won’t duplicate it here as I totally followed the recipe!

Whilst I was pottering in the kitchen however I also made the dough for these and then baked them this morning. The basic recipe for this shortbread is really simple but I made the dough into giant buttons as well as micro mini biscuits. I think I may have been having an Alice in Wonderland moment this morning! Of course you can cut them out to which ever shape you’d like!

Shortbread Buttons

Shortbread

  • 400 g flour
  • 125 g sugar
  • 200 g butter, cold and diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pinch of salt
  1. In a medium mixing-bowl, mix together all ingredients to form a ball.
  2. Divide the dough in two or three, and gather each portion into a slightly flattened ball.
  3. Working with one ball of dough at a time, roll it out between two sheets of baking paper to a thickness of about 3 mm. Freeze for 30 minutes, or place on the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
  4. To make button shapes, I used a 5cm round biscuit cutter, used a smaller one to make the second indent and made the button holes using a drinking straw. To make the mini biscuits use a round mini cutter to cut out the biscuits (or an apple corer, which is what I used in fact), and transfer them on a prepared baking sheet. Freeze for another 15 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 170ºC, and decorate mini biscuits using a wooden screw to make tiny holes (optional). Slip biscuits into the oven – the buttons took 8 minutes to bake and the micro mini biscuits took just 5 minutes, until just slightly golden at the edges. Transfer on a rack to cool completely, and keep in a tin box in a dry place.

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Holidays and Honey Cake.

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honey cakeHello all, hope you are enjoying some lovely sunshine where you are! What a nice change for the UK after the terrible (and terribly long) winter. The sunshine just makes everything better.

Last week we went away for the week to the very beautiful Exmoor National Park and went totally phone, wifi and facebook free. Seems like we all needed a technology break – it’s strange how quickly we adapt to doing things “old school” when needed. The week was a totally lovely relaxing family adventure.

exmoor cottage OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn one of our days out we visited an amazing bee farm. We saw all the different times of hives and learnt how vital bees are to our ecosystem. After all that, we went and had cream teas with honey instead of jam, and stocked up on our own honey supplies whilst the juniors ran around on a bee themed soft play place. The honey we bought was deliciously thick and had a heavy pollen tang. Of course I had to make a honey cake with it. What else?

This cake we served up with honeycomb ice cream. On our return from Exmoor we popped in to visit some very good friends who served up honeycomb ice cream for dessert and now I’m addicted. My lovely friend also has an equally delicious blog – you can check it out here.

Honey Cake

Honey cake

1/2 cups (440 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder [see Update above]
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons (about 8 grams) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup (235 ml) vegetable oil
1 cup (340 grams) honey
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (95 grams) brown sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup warm (235 ml) coffee or strong tea
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh orange juice
zest of 1 orange

Fits in three loaf pans, two 9-inch square or round cake pans, one 9 or 10 inch tube or bundt cake pan, or one 9 by 13 inch sheet cake. I made mine in two full-size loaf pans plus two miniature ones.

Preheat oven to 170°c11 Generously grease pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray. For tube or angel food pans, line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper, cut to fit.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center, and add oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee or tea, orange juice and zest. (If you measure your oil before the honey, it will be easier to get all of the honey out.)

Using a strong wire whisk or in an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together well to make a thick, well-blended batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.

Spoon batter into prepared pan(s). Sprinkle top of cake(s) evenly with almonds, if using. Place cake pan(s) on two baking sheets, stacked together (this will ensure the cakes bake properly with the bottom baking faster than the cake interior and top).

Bake until cake tests done, that is, it springs back when you gently touch the cake center. For angel and tube cake pans, this will take 60 to 75 minutes, loaf cakes, about 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet style cakes, baking time is 40 to 45 minutes.

Let cake stand fifteen minutes before removing from pan.

 

 

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