Thursday, January 8, 2015

Blueberry Cheesecake

No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake by Mel from Baking Makes Things Better

Believe it or not, this Blueberry Cheesecake was inspired by a Broccoli Salad!  I absolutely recommend you try the Broccoli salad, it’s one of Simon and mines faves.  The recipe calls for Blueberries, which is something I haven’t really eaten in the past and we had been leaving them out of the salad because they haven’t been in season.  But, they are in season now, and I am loving them!

This is a no-bake cheesecake and is packed full of blueberry – none of that plain cheesecake business with a few blueberries scattered on top, or a swirl of syrup (although, I have done that too!), this one has blueberries all the way through.  Which, has got to be good for you right, considering they are super high in antioxidants?

I topped my cheesecake with a thin layer of plain cheesecake mix with blueberry jam swirled through it.  I also made candied lemon peel to sprinkle over the top to pick up on the lemon juice that is in the cheesecake - I’ll include how to make this in the recipe below.  However, if you can’t be bothered with the extra work, I think spreading some whipped cream over the top and decorating with some extra blueberries or simply grating some white chocolate over the top would be perfect (this would be amazing if you use the same biscuits that I did for the base).

Blueberry Cheesecake by Baking Makes Things Better

Ingredients:
Base:
350g biscuits (I used Farmbake’s White Choc variety and they were delish!)
80g butter, melted

Filling:
3 teaspoons gelatine
¼ cup boiling water
375g cream cheese
½ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup cream
3 cups blueberries (this worked out to be three small punnets from the supermarket)

Topping:
¾ cup of cheesecake mixture (reserved from main recipe)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 teaspoons blueberry jam

Candied lemon peel:
3 lemons
4 cups water
2 cups white sugar, or as needed

Method:
Grease a 20cm round tin.  Place the biscuits into a food processor and process to a fine crumb.  Mix through the melted butter.  Press into the base of the prepared tin and place in the refrigerator to set.

In a glass, sprinkle the gelatine into the quarter cup of boiling water.  Mix until dissolved, then set aside.

Using a hand beater or stand mixer, in a large bowl beat together the cream cheese, caster sugar, vanilla essence and one tablespoon of lemon juice.  Once the mixture is a smooth buttery texture, add in the cream and gelatine and beat until the mixture is smooth again. 
At this point, if you want to create a marbled effect on the top of the cake as I have one, reserve three quarters of a cup of the cheesecake mixture into a small bowl and set aside.
Using a blender, puree the blueberries (some bits of skin will still remain).  Pour the blueberry puree into the main cheesecake mix and stir through until combined.
Pour the mixture over the prepared base and place into the refrigerator to set.

To make the candied lemon peel, boil 2 cups of water in a small saucepan.
While the water is heating up, remove the rind from the lemons and cut it into thin strips.  I find the easiest way to do this is to use a vegetable peeler and peel off the skin, then cut it into thin strips using a small knife. 
Once the water is boiling, add the lemon peel strips.  Boil for about 5 minutes, until tender.  Remove peels from the water.  Replace the water with 2 new cups of water and stir in the sugar. Return to a boil, add the peels, and boil for about 15-20 minutes until the peels translucent.  Stir regularly as the mixture can burn. 
Taste a piece of the peel – if it is bitter tasting, change the water and sugar so you have a fresh pot and re-boil the peel.  Continue to do this until you are satisfied with the flavour.  Drain and allow to dry either on a wire rack or on a paper towel.

To make the thin marbled layer on the top of the cheesecake mix a teaspoon of lemon juice through the reserved cheesecake mixture.  Once the top of the blueberry portion of the cheesecake in the tin has set across the top, gently spread the plain mix across the top in a thin layer.  Dollop blobs of the jam randomly around the top of the cake.  Using a skewer or a fork, rake through the jam blobs to swirl them into the cheesecake mixture.  Place into the refrigerator for 5 minutes before topping with the candied lemon peel and extra blueberries.  Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight before cutting into wedges and serving.

Blueberry Cheesecake by Mel from Baking Makes Things Better

Saturday, January 3, 2015

January on Food TV

Happy New Year! We hope you have been making the most of lazy days with plenty of time at the beach, lots of good food and enjoying taking plenty of inspiration from a few of your favourite TV chefs/bakers on Food TV.

Choccy Extra Slices

CHOCCYWOCCYDOODAH: EXTRA SLICES - Saturday’s, 16.00 from 3 January
In Choccywoccydoodah Extra Slices, Christine Taylor brings us more confectionery tales from our favourite band of chocolatiers at the UK’s most fabulous and fantastical cake shop. Marvel at out-of-the-world cake masterpieces made by the talented trio of chocolate wizards Dave, Tom and Mike and indulge yourself in more stories and adventures of life at Choccywoccydoodah since the new London store opened. Each episode contains 6 self-contained classic Choccywoccydoodah stories with introductions and comments from the queen of chocolate herself, Christine.

Hairy Bikers' Bake-ation

HAIRY BIKERS’ BAKE-ATION: Saturday’s, 19.00 from 27th December 2014
In these times of austerity, what could be more comforting than a bit of home baking? And what more enjoyable way to expand your horizons beyond brown bread and sponge cake than on a spectacular road trip across Europe with Si and Dave? This series sees the hairy duo ride over 3,000 kilometres from Scandinavia to Spain – taking in Norway, Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania, as well as Austria, Italy and France – to seek out the very best baking that the continent has to offer, from simple peasant breads to complex confections made by the finest patissiers. Along the way they meet a range of characters from amateur cooks to professional bakers, and share the intimate secrets of family recipes that have been passed from generation to generation.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Vol au Vents

Vol au Vents by Baking Makes Things Better (5)

I decided to try making Vol au Vents a couple of weeks ago when we held a high tea for one of my work colleagues who is leaving us this year.  Vol au Vents look fancy, but are actually really simple to make.  I written the recipes for the fillings I used, but you don’t need to be super exact with these – make the fillings to a taste that you are happy with.  To start with you will need to make some pastry cases, which look impressive but are actually really simple.

Vol au Vents by Baking Makes Things Better (2)

Pastry Cases (makes about 30)
Ingredients:
1 pack of flaky puff pastry (I used 750g 5 sheet Edmonds pack)
1 egg

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Let the pastry defrost slightly – you still want it to be very cold when you work with it.
You will need two round cookie cutters (-or similar: I used a tea cup and a round plastic tube!); one that is about a 1cm bigger than the other (my little teacup was 6cm in diameter and the small plastic tube was 3cm).
Using the larger cutter, cut out rounds from the pastry sheets.
Using the smaller cutter, cut rounds out of the centre of half of the big pastry circles you just cut out.

Vol au Vents by Baking Makes Things Better (1)

Whisk up the egg with a few drops of water.
Brush the egg wash around the edges of the complete, larger, circles of pastry.
Layer a ring of pastry on top of the complete pastry circle, and gently place the cut out centre back on top (see image above).
Gently brush the top with more egg wash, being careful not to get egg on the sides of the pastry as this will limit the extent the pastry will puff up when cooked.
Bake the pastry for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. 
Carefully pick the pastry centres off the cases (yes, I was a piggy and ate all the unwanted pastry centres!).

Vol au Vents by Baking Makes Things Better (3)

You can fill your cases with whatever takes your fancy – there are lots of recipes about, just google ‘Vol au Vent fillings’.  I decided to make a ‘cheats’ chicken filling and a ham and egg option.  Feel free to tweak the following recipes to suit your tastes.  Any left over filling mixture makes a great sandwich spread.  Also, if desired, the Vol au Vents can be placed in a heated oven for a further 5 minutes to warm the fillings before serving.

‘Cheats’ chicken filling
Ingredients:
1 x 160g can of shredded Chop Chop chicken (I used the wholegrain mustard flavour)
3 leaves of basil
4 semi dried tomatoes
5 black olives

Method:
Finely cut the basil, tomatoes and olives up.  In a small bowl, miss together all the ingredients.  Spoon into the prepared Vol au Vent cases.

Ham and egg filling
Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
100g shaved ham, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Hard boil the eggs (place in a pot of water and boil for 10 – 12 minutes).  Once the eggs have cooled, peel them and place in a small bowl.
Add the mayonnaise to the eggs.  Mash the eggs with a fork until the eggs are a broken into fine pieces, mixing in more mayonnaise if needed.
Mix in the ham and fresh parsley.  Taste the mixture, adding more of the ingredients listed if desired, and seasoning with salt and pepper. 
Spoon into the prepared Vol au Vent cases.

Vol au Vents by Baking Makes Things Better (7)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December on Food TV

Well we've done it, we've reached the end of another year! As you can probably tell the end of the year has been hugely busy for us, as teachers it always is but this year seems to have been particularly hectic with lots of personal commitments for both of us. We are both officially on holiday now - although with Melissa's wedding only a month a way she will be kept busy with all the last minute details! I am looking forward to getting into the kitchen to do some baking and relaxing on the couch to watch some of the fantastic new shows in Food TV. My pick of the new shows in Paul Hollywood's 'Pies and Puds'!

Picture Shows: Macaroons
THE AMERICAN BAKING COMPETITION:
Sundays, 16.30 from 7th December
Based on the hugely successful Great British Bake Off format, this exciting series sets out to find the best amateur baker in the US. Ten contestants line up to face three tough challenges in each episode – cooking up their own creation in the Signature bake, a test of their knowledge and skills in the Technical bake, then going all out to impress the judges with their Showstopper bake. At the end of the three bakes, the judges – leading artisan baker Paul Hollywood and accomplished chef Marcela Valladolid – choose a Star Baker for the week. Each episode sees a contestant eliminated from the competition until just three bakers are left to battle it out in the finale for a $250,000 grand prize and a publishing contract as American Baking Competition champion.

Donut showdown

DONUT SHOWDOWN: Sundays, 17.30 from 7th December
Welcome to the most intense, heart-pounding donut-making competition on the planet. Each episode of Donut Showdown showcases three of the best pastry chefs from across the nation as they test their creativity in the kitchen. The first round of competition begins with a test in creating a batch of donuts using bizarre and top-secret ingredients. Three expert judges will get to devour and critique each creation on taste, presentation and creativity; the weakest donut (and its competitor) are kicked out of the competition. The remaining two contenders must now make a monster batch that's based on a theme (dictated by the judges). Just one competitor will taste sweet victory, leaving with bragging rights and a $10,000 prize.

Paul Hollywood's Pies and Puds (1)

PAUL HOLLYWOOD’S PIES AND PUDS: Wednesdays, 19.00 from 10th December
The UK's favourite baker, Paul Hollywood, invites viewers into his kitchen to learn how to bake with the maestro himself. Filled with the aroma of steaming hot pies and freshly baked desserts, and with a fridge full of the richest and ripest British ingredients, the series sees Paul passing on his skills, hint and tips to viewers at home and to guests in the kitchen.

Having started his career at his father’s bakery, Paul knows the value of learning at the hands of an expert. Over the course of this series, Paul shows viewers how to create every type of pastry, and reveals all the methods common in pudding making - from how to create the shortest pie crust to how to achieve the lightest steamed pudding.

Paul invites a host of special international guests and chefs into his kitchen, with appearances from the likes of Omar Allibhoy (Spain), Peggy Porchen (Germany), Tonia Buxton (Cyprus) Rachel Allen (Ireland), Andrew Wong (China), famous bake shop Outsider Tart (America), Levi Roots (Jamaica), Merle Moustafa (Turkey), and Manju Mali (India).

In addition to German Konditormeister, Falko Burkett, Paul also welcomes Michelin-starred chefs, Glyn Purnell, Nigel Haworth and Tom Kerridge as guests.

Programme Name: Junior Bake Off - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Embargoed for publication until: n/a - Picture Shows: (L-R) James Martin, Mary Berry, Aaron Craze - (C) Love Productions Ltd - Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

JUNIOR BAKE OFF Season Two: Saturdays, 17.30 from 27th December
Aspirational and fun, Junior Bake Off is back for a second season, giving children who love baking their own chance to become a champion, while at the same time inspiring young viewers to get baking themselves. Over the course of 15 episodes, the series follows the young bakers' journeys from the heats all the way to the final. Their cake making, biscuit baking, pastry and bread making skills are tested to the limit. No matter what the theme, all the bakers must deliver a show-stopping, mouth watering creation but who will ultimately be crowned the best Junior Baker?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November on Food TV

Food TV Birthday

Happy Birthday 9th Food TV! Our lovely friends at Food TV are celebrating by giving the birthday presents to you – their lovely viewers.  Be sure to enter the draws to win some awesome prizes including:

A delicious prize pack from The Fudge Dealer
5 copies of Gok Cooks Chinese
2 copies of Jamie's Comfort Food: 100 Ultimate Recipes
5 limited edition Food TV's 9th Birthday Tea Towels
4 copies of The New Easy by Donna Hay
6 Justine's Ginger Biscotti Spoons prize packs
3 copies of Movida Solera
8 copies of Slow Food Fast by Simon & Allyson Holst

You can enter to win here! The presents don’t stop there though, Food TV is also bringing us two brand new baking series this month.

Britain's Best Bakery

Britain's Best Bakery: Weekdays, 16.00 from the 3rd November

Britain’s Best Bakery is a national search for the best independent, family run or community bakery. Bakeries from all over the UK compete in a series of baking challenges that put their skills to the test and make viewer’s mouth’s water.

It’s a tough competition: traditional bakers with top-secret family recipes compete against former patisserie chefs, and bread-makers are challenged to create stunning celebration cakes. Two big names from the world of baking judge the competition, not just tasting and analysing the bakes but visiting the bakeries. The competition builds from regional heats to a dramatic finale where the winner of Britain’s Best Bakery is crowned.

Britain’s Best Bakery shines a light on baking in the UK in all its delicious shapes and sizes. But more than just a competition, it is a celebration of the nation’s bakeries and their bakers, revealing fascinating stories about Britain and its regions, communities and cultures.

Sweet Julia

Sweet Julia: Saturdays, 17.00 from 15th November

Take a step into the stunning dessert and chocolate creations from Chef Julia Baker. 

Patissier and master chocolatier Julia Baker brings her unique culinary skills in this tasty series. In her delicious journey through all things sweet, Julia tackles not only sinful desserts, but also demonstrates how to use sweet flavors in savoury dishes.

From Cocoa-Rubbed Rib Eye and Pain Perdu with Rotisserie Chicken to Baked Alaska and Salted Caramels, her dishes are sure to satisfy even the most distinguished sweet tooth.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Midnight Choc Chip and Coconut Cookies

Choc Chip and Coconut Cookies by Baking Makes Things Better

The recipe for Midnight Cookies has to be one of my faves.  It uses basic ingredients you probably have sitting in the pantry, is a simple ‘mix everything in a bowl’ then bake recipe, and makes a delicious chocolatey biscuit (that doesn’t actually include chocolate, so if you are craving chocolate but there’s none around, mix up some of these).  This variation includes chocolate pieces as I had some in the cupboard and desiccated coconut.  They are pretty darn delish!

Makes about 20.

Ingredients:
125g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
125g flour
35g cocoa powder
125g chocolate chips
35g desiccated coconut (or try shredded coconut if you want the coconut to be more noticeable)
½ teaspoon baking soda

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line several baking trays with baking paper.
Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.  Add in the flour, cocoa, chocolate chips, coconut and baking soda.  Beat until well mixed.
With dampened hands, roll teaspoon sized pieces of the dough into smooth balls.  Place on the baking sheets, spaced well apart. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 – 12 minutes, or until set.  Leave to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely before serving.

Midnight Choc Chip and Coconut Cookies by Baking Makes Things Better