Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Vol au Vents

Vol au Vents by Baking Makes Things Better (5)

Prepare for the most un-scientific recipe on our site ever.   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 did write down ingredient amounts when I made these, but I’ve lost the paper (I really need a better system – this is not the first time this has happened).  However, 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)
1 pack of flaky puff pastry (I used 750g 5 sheet Edmonds pack)
1 egg

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.  The following recipes are recalled from memory, so feel free to tweak them 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
1 x 160g can of shredded Chop Chop chicken (I used the wholegrain mustard flavour)
3 leaves of basil
2 semi dried tomatoes

Finely cut the basil and tomatoes up.  Mix through the chicken.  Spoon into the prepared Vol au Vent cases.

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

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
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.

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

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

Friday, October 10, 2014

Jo Seagar BAKES

Jo Seagar Bakes

“If baking is a labour at all, it’s a labour of love.  A love that gets passed on from generation to generation.”

These are Jo Seagar’s sentiments, quoted in her new book, Jo Seagar Bakes.  And, while the above quote may be true, she also admits that today few people learn to bake by helping out at the side of their grandmother or mother.  Families live apart, parents have full time jobs and time is precious.  So, that is where Jo steps in.  In Jo Seagar Bakes she’s taking on the role of mother/grandmother/teacher and sharing her recipes with you, explaining all the important steps, as well as all the tips and tricks she has picked up over the years to help you create delicious treats, every single time.

Jo Seagar Bakes is a big, hard-covered, baking bible containing recipes for all the baking favourites you can think of, and then some.  Many of the recipes are ones that have been passed down through the generations in Jo’s family, like ‘Fay’s Mumbles’ – a recipe passed on to Jo by her mum, or the Louise Cake which is a recipe that Jo’s Great Aunt Annie used to make on her coal range.  There’s also some new recipes and ones that have had the flavours updated (the Lemon and Paeroa Scones have caught my eye!).  

The book has been beautifully photographed and designed by Jae Frew, with the pages having a vintage feel to them.  Jo Seagar Bakes hits stores today and has an RRP of $55.00.  To promote her new book, Jo will be undertaking a nationwide tour during November and December.  She is such a fun and lovely person, so take a look at the dates and if you can head along to one of the events, do so; you’ll enjoy yourself. 

But, for now, here’s a recipe from Jo Seagar Bakes that we’ve been lucky enough to be able to share with you…

Butterscotch Fingers from Jo Seagar Bakes

Butterscotch Date Fingers
This is my Granny Win’s recipe. Very quick and simple but such a complex butterscotch flavour. A frequently requested recipe.

Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes

Makes 24

250 g butter
2 ½ cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups self-raising flour
2½ cups chopped pitted dates (cut each date into 4–5 pieces)

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 20 x 30 cm slice tin with baking paper.
Place the butter and brown sugar in a medium-sized saucepan and stir over medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar is dissolved. Cool in the saucepan.
When the butter mixture has cooled, pour into a mixing bowl and beat in the eggs, then the flour. Lastly, add the dates and mix well. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 18–20 minutes until the surface is shiny and dry. Cool in the tin. Cut into fingers when cold. Freezes really well.

Recipe reproduced with permission from Jo Seagar Bakes by Jo Seagar. Published by Random House NZ. RRP $50.00.  Copyright © recipe text to Jo Seagar; photography Jae Frew, 2014.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Rocky Road

Rocky Road by Baking Makes Things Better

A couple of weeks ago Mel and I were lucky enough to receive some goodies from Pascall, we're both having a crazy busy year and I know that I am finding it hard to come up with new recipes - the timing was perfect as we are both on school 'holidays' which means a little more time to get in the kitchen and get inspired. The holiday weather has not been great which has meant lots of time inside. Max, who is now three (and a half, I must add the half or I'll be in trouble), is taking a holiday from daycare and has been eyeing up the bags of lollies in the cupboard since they arrived, so I decided that it would be nice to make something with them together.  Max always wants to bake with me but it's more watching and adding in ingredients that I measure out, Rocky Road was perfect as he could do most of the work!

Rocky Road 2Taste test, mix, taste test and wait until your Rocky Road is ready for the ultimate taste test!

375 grams chocolate buttons, melted
200 grams Pascall Fruit Jubes
180 grams Pascall Marshmallows

Melt the chocolate, this can be done in a double boiler (a heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water, you must ensure that the water does not touch the bottom of your bowl) or in the microwave.
Once the chocolate is melted, set aside for 3-5 minutes to cool slightly.
While the chocolate cools line a slice tin with wax baking paper, I used a 20x20 square tin.
Add marshmallows and jubes to the melted chocolate and fold them through the chocolate so that they are coated nicely.
Pour your mixture into your prepared tin and use a spatula to spread it evenly.
Put your Rocky Road in the fridge to set for approximately 2 hours.  Cut into bite sized pieces (I use a large warm knife as it cuts through the chocolate nicely) and store in an airtight container.

Max loved making this and took great pride in taking it along to our holiday catch up with our coffee group. You can change the recipe up and add in whatever your favourite lollies are, dried fruit, or nuts.  If you and your kids have been in the kitchen this holidays, especially if you have made anything from BMTB we'd love to see the photos!