Category Archives: Baking

Ruth’s Jitterbugs

Ikea_Fika_ingredienten
On a recent Ikea trip, I really do love Ikea, I picked up a cheap little baking book called Fika. It’s produced by Ikea and is a seriously good purchase at just seven quid. The photography is amazing, each recipe has in ingredients laid out in cool shapes and patterns.
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Fika is a Swedish word for a quick coffee break, but it’s as much a state of mind as it is an excuse to get away from work for a bit. Coffee is usually accompanied by little biscuits or pastries and this book is chock full of sound recipes for making up your own selection.
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This is one my sister has tried a few times and I have eaten way more than my fair share of. They are delightful little morsels of chocolate biscuit rolled with Meringue. Devilishly addictive.

225ml Plain Flour
50ml Cocoa Powder
100g Butter
50ml Caster Sugar
1 Egg Yolk

1 Egg White
100ml Caster Sugar

-Sift the flour and cocoa powder together.
-Beat together the butter, 50ml castor sugar and the egg yolk. You want to get a light, creamy consistency.
-Beat in the flour/cocoa mix.
-Bring together into a dough then wrap in cling film and put it into the fridge for an hour or so.
-When the dough has set, roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper until it is less than a centimeter thick and about 15cm x 30cm in area.
-In a large bowl, beat the egg white into a foam that keeps a stiff peak.
-Place the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water.
-Slowly beat in the 100ml castor sugar, this will firm up your meringue.
-Spread the meringue mix over the dough in an even layer, then roll it up like a swiss roll.
-Refrigerate the roll, whole, for about an hour.
-Preheat your oven to 175 degrees.
-Using a very sharp knife, run the roll into 1cm biscuits.
-Bake these on a lined sheet tray for about 12/15 minutes.

Ruth's Jitterbugs

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My Virgin Cheesecake

We all get that need sometimes. A powerful desire from deep in the bones for something. It becomes a necessity. Life should not, nay, could not proceed without it. One day in particular I needed Cheesecake. Now me and Cheesecake have had a very strange past, I didn’t try it for years as the idea of a chocolate cake or Victoria sponge with grated cheese on top was enough to turn my stomach. But a few years ago I ate a piece, almost by accident and I have never looked back since. However until recently I had never actually made one.

On this great day of Cheesecake need I was walking home along the quays and decided I was going to make one. My phone was dead so I couldn’t look up a recipe and I was on my way to meet my girlfriend so time was very much of the essence. I ran the aisles of a small Tesco and grabbed all of the things that I thought might go in a cheesecake. Half dozen eggs, double cream, cream cheese, biscuits, more butter than is usually acceptable in polite society, sugar, etc. Before long we were trawling though recipes in my galley kitchen trying to find something doable. We settled on a simple enough sounding one and got to it.

After a lot of messing, lollygagging and general merriment we had a fairly well put together Oreo and White Chocolate Cheesecake in front of us.

Plates, knife, slice, spoon, bite… stop.

Something was off. A sort of musty fungal flavour somewhere. I checked to see if everything was in date. It all seemed fine. Everything except the cheese. An earthy smell, not bad, just not what I was expecting. I checked the pack again and there it was, in miniscule writing on a mini green flag; “Blue Cheese and Garlic Flavour.”

I had been in such a rush in Tesco that I never even checked what I was grabbing, as long as it had “Cream Cheese” on it I was happy. We begrudgingly ate the cake. I’m not in the kind of financial situation where I can throw away relatively edible cake. It wasn’t good. Google tells me that indeed Blue Cheese Cheesecake is a “thing.”

This monstrosity was definitely not that “thing.” Take note kids, read before you buy.

Cheats Cronut!

Chocolate Cronuts

Ok, everyone relax. I think I have cracked it. A simple way to master the art and genius of Dominique Ansel in your very own home. Cronuts appeared on the culinary scene about a year ago or so and instantly became one of the first food combination crazes. Later instalments include, but are not limited to, Ramen Burger, Pizza Burger, Crookie and others.
For those who have never heard of them, Cronuts are a pastry that is a combination of croissant dough, deep fried like a donut. And before you say anything, they are as delicious as they sound.
Alas the cronut, being the first, is also one of the most intricate to execute in a basic kitchen. Croissants are made from an enriched yeast dough and they take time, they need to be looked after and kept warm and moved around a lot. Not unlike a toddler. And I am just not ready for that level of commitment, to either a minor or to baked goods. But I really want a cronut.
And it was one lazy Tuesday afternoon, careening through the dairy aisles of a local Tesco when I saw that Jus Rol, the company that do the pre-made pastry, have started doing croissant dough. Or maybe they have been doing it for years but I never noticed, anyway that was when began to think that maybe I could do this! Maybe I could make Cronuts and home and gorge myself into an early grave.
Sure what else would I do with a lazy Tuesday?

2 packs of Jus Rol Croissant Dough
1 lt Groundnut Oil
200g Dark Chocolate
50ml cream
4 Free Range Eggs
2 tbs Caster Sugar
2 tbs Flour
300ml Milk
Zest of one Lemon

-You will also need circle cutters for the donuts. One large one and one small one. I used a large scone cutter and a bottle cap. Anything will do. And for the filling you will need a piping bag with a small nozzle.
-Ok so as simple as this version is it still requires a little prep. There are three components, the custard filling, the chocolate glaze and finally the donuts themselves.
-Lets get the glaze and filling done first.
-Put a large bowl over a pot with one inch of simmering water in the bottom. Into this bowl, break up the chocolate and cream. Melt them together and set aside.
-Now we are going to make some custard! This is a pretty cool skill to get to grips with and one you will most certainly return to when you get a little peckish.
-In a bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and flour.
-Gently heat the milk with the lemon zest. But don’t boil it.
-When the milk is warm, start to combine it very slowly with the egg mixture. You should start with only a few tablespoons at a time until the egg starts to heat.
-What you are doing is using the warm milk to cook the eggs which will firm up and create a smooth custard. The slower you add the milk and the more you beat the eggs, the smoother your custard will be.
-When all of the milk is combined add the mix back into the pan and place over a medium heat. Keep stirring the mix until it starts to thicken to sauce consistency. The test for this is if it can coat the back of a spoon without running off.
-When the custard has thickened, set it aside.
-In a large pot, heat up a few inches of the groundnut oil.
-Open the cans of the croissant dough and roll them out.
-Using your two circle cutters, cut out your donuts, you should be able to stretch the dough to about 8 donuts plus leftover bits, which are arguably the best part.
-Test the oil with one of the offcuts of dough, if it flouts and bubbles happily it’s perfect, if it starts to turn a dark brown very quickly then it is a little too hot. Turn it down and leave it to sit for a minute.
-Fry each donut for about two minutes on each side, or until golden and puffed up.
-Remove and place on a wire rack about some kitchen paper to collect excess fat.
-When all of the donuts and offcuts are fried turn off the heat on the oil and leave to cool. Please be careful as it will remain quite hot for good while.
-As the donuts cool, fill your piping bag with the custard. Taking one donut at a time, gently pipe a little of the custard all around the ring until you can feel that it’s full.
-When you have them all filled, lay them back on the wire rack.
-Using a spoon drizzle the chocolate glaze over the top of the cronuts.
-I also added a few chocolate sprinkles cos I’m ridiculous like that.
-Now you are ready to enjoy the heavenly delights that are cronuts. I love to eat one with another one on the side and then, like, four more as I cry myself to fat sleep. But that’s just me.

 

Foolproof Cupcakes

Foolproof Cupcakes

          This along with my cookies recipe and chocolate cake are seriously great things to have stashed in your back pocket at all times. (The recipe, not the cake, that would be weird.) They are all simple, easy to remember and most importantly, easy to execute well. Making you look like a culinary hero instead of the culinary cock-ups we all really are. It’s about perception my friends.

          I have been using this recipe for a fair few months now and it never fails. Stick to these measurements and the recipe will not let you down. The only thing that might change is the cooking time. Baked goods are delicate and pretty fickle. You will just have to watch yours closely for the first batch and then use that time as a guide from then on. Once you get to know your oven a little better (it probably misses you) you will be flying.

           Once you have it down to an art the rest is up to you. Replace a little of the flour with hot chocolate powder and add a few chocolate chips for double chocolate cupcakes. Grate in a little pear or apple for a fruity twist. Berries are always a safe bet. I did these ones with Lime zest and white chocolate in that batter and a white chocolate and lime juice icing.

The Cupcakes
225g Sugar
225g Butter (must be room temperature)

4 Eggs

225g Self Raising Flour

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

The Icing

200g Butter

450g Icing Sugar

2 Tbsp Milk

-Cream together the butter and sugar until it turns to a light white creamy consistency. All of this can be done with a hand blender or in a food processor.

-Mix in the vanilla.

-Crack the eggs into the creamed butter and sugar one at a time and mix in thoroughly.

-It will initially look like its going to split but keep going and it will come together in the end.

-When the eggs are all incorporated sift in the flour and the baking powder.

-Mix these into the wet batter slowly. Make sure not to leave any pockets of flour in the batter. That will not end well, trust me.

-Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius.

-Line a cupcake tin with cupcake cases.

-Fill each case about 2/3 full.

-Place in the centre of the oven. About 12 minutes works a charm for me but everyone’s oven is different and will give you a different time.

-When they look nice and golden on top, stick a toothpick in the centre of one. Leave it for a second or two then pull it out. If it comes out clean you cupcakes are done. If there is still batter on the cocktail stick put them back in for abother minute or two then test again.

-When they are done, leave them to cool on a wire rack so they don’t get too moist on the bottom.

Icing

-Soften the butter a bit in the microwave before starting. This will make everything a lot easier.

-In a large bowl whisk up the butter so it is nice and airy.

-Then slowly start to add in your icing sugar a few tablespoons at a time.

-Keep whisking until all of the icing sugar has been incorporated into the butter.

-I then add a few tablespoons of milk just to let it out a little and make it easier to pipe onto the cupcakes but if you are going to spoon it on then there is no need.

-If you would like to add food dye at this stage feel free. You can see I went for red here but use whatever you have to hand.

 

Kick Ass Peanut Butter Cookies

Kick-Ass Peanut Butter Cookies


            So, this weekend. we did the usual thing. Lazy day, invited loads of friends over. Movies. Easter eggs. Few beers. Plenty of tea (for those not partaking of the beer). And of course, a massive plate full of these suckers. Amazing peanut butter cookies that I got from Sorted Food. So so good, and so so easy.

            I decided to keep the chocolate on top aswel as some broken up nuts but you can deffinitly leave them off if you want to make it a little easier. Just so you know, one friend described these as the best cookies she has ever had. This elevated her to the position of  “favourite friend.”

100g Butter (room temperature)

200g Sugar

2 Eggs

200g Self Raising Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

100g Peanut Butter

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Hazelnuts (or peanuts, cashews etc)

100g dark chocolate

-In a large bowl beat together the sugar and the butter until it’s smooth and light.

-Crack in the eggs and the vanilla extract. Beat them all together with the butter/sugar mix.

-Mix the baking powder into the flour first. Then add this mixture slowly into the bowl while combining everything.

-Now add in the peanut butter make sure that everything is an even consistency.

-Spoon the mixture onto a sheet of baking paper on a oven tray. You want decent size spoonfuls as these make quite a thick cookie.

-Break up some nuts and arrange them on top of each cookie.

-Pop these into a pre-heated oven (180 degrees) for 12 minutes.

-While they are cooking, melt the chocolate in a bowl over some boiling water. Pour this into a piping bag (if you don’t have one these a cool little trick you can do with baking paper http://tinyurl.com/cz8gwwy)

When the cookies are cool pipe on the chocolate in whatever pattern you like and allow to set or just eat them straight away. Either way, enjoy.

 

Life Saving Breakfast Scones

Breakfast Scones

           I had a revelation last week. One evening I took a notion to make scones. You can see the results of my efforts above. They were lovely (of course I needed to eat three of them before I could be 100% sure of this,… yaknow,…. cos,… I had to be sure they were lovely). Next morning as I was waking up I played my usual game of chicken with the clock, ticking things off my to-do list in order to get an extra minute or two of warmth and comfort in bed. Shave, gone. Shower, gone. Tea, gone. Breakfast, gone. Eventually I get to the N-th hour and have to leap out of bed, throw on some clothes and dash to the door.

BUT WAIT!!!!

          Salvation lies in the kitchen in the form of the small pile of scones I made the night before. I stuff two in my pocket and go into the world.

          As I walk down Pearse street munching happily on the spoils of my kitchen plunder I think to myself, “Why the F*** don’t I do this more often?” Needless to say these will become a standard for my weekly cooking diary.

100g raisins

100g cranberries

450g flour

2 large eggs

100ml milk

1.5 tsp baking powder

150g butter

-Preheat your oven to 180 degrees

-In a large mixing bowl sieve together the flour and baking soda.

-Using your hands, work in the butter until it starts to crumble together.

-Mix the eggs and the milk together in a separate bowl and add them to the flour and butter.

-Finally add in the raisins and cranberries and mix it all together well with your hands, thats what they’re there for.

-Add more milk if the mix is too dry.

-Dust a work surface with flour and roll out the dough to about 2cm thick.

-Cut to shape using a scone cutter if you have one, if not, just hack it up with a knife.

-Place your scones on a baking sheet, brush with a little milk or egg and pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes.

-Keep an eye on them as every batch and every oven is different. You will know instinctively when they are done.

Enjoy with butter, jam, cream or as you sprint down the Quays hoping your boss doesn’t realise you are late for work. (sorry Leigh-Anne)

 

Easy Bake Brownies

Easy bake Brownies

 

The rain seems to be back so I think it best to journey back to the kitchen with eggs, flour and enough chocolate to give a fasting priest a heart attack.

 

Brownies, possibly the only thing that makes people feel better than cookies. Though it’s difficult to tell with most people. This is one of the simplest recipies i have found for Brownies and personally I think it works a treat. I use a combination of white and dark chocolate but you can use whichever type or combination you want.

 

This would be a great opportunity to use the auld food processor. Just chuck all the ingredients in and give it a whiz for a few minutes. That or give the arms a workout and use a good old fashioned bowl 😀

 

2 packs of chocolate

200g of sugar

250g of Butter

6 Tbs of hot chocolate powder

150g of self raising flour

4 eggs

 

-Chop up the two packs of chocolate, measure out all the rest of the ingredients and load them all into your bowl or magi mix.

-Mix until it’s smooth (and delicious, no-one I know can resist a bit of  brownie batter) Then lay it out onto a non stick tray until it’s about an inch or so think.

-Pop it into the middle of an oven pre-heated to 170 degrees.

-At that temperature it should take between 15 to 20 minutes depending on your oven.

-Once they have risen and are starting to look done take them out and stick a knife in the middle, if it comes out reasonably clean then they are done. Leave them to cool then cut them up and enjoy with ice-cream, cream or whatever tickles your fantasy 😛