Tuesday, 30 September 2014

September 2014 Daring Bakers' Challenge: Koláče

So….. 27th September was supposed to be Daring Bakers' posting day, HOWEVER I was a little bit preoccupied with this lot (or 50% of this lot, to be more precise!):

All freshly baked by myself and my good friend Mrs H for an afternoon tea fundraiser in aid of Buttle UK which we hosted on the 28th.

So I'm classing that as a very good excuse to my late posting (and possibly a topic for a future blog post in its own right).

But for now, it's time for a virtual journey to the Czech Republic for some traditional sweet treats called koláče.

Blog checking lines:
The September Daring Bakers' challenge was brought to us by Lucie from ChezLucie. She challenged us to make a true Czech treat - Kolaches.

She shared recipes for three different types of Koláčes - different variants of sweet enriched bread with fillings ranging from quark to poppy seeds and jam.

I chose to make the Moravske Koláčes - a speciality from Moravia which are traditionally filled with two fillings: plum jam and quark, and topped with a streusel topping.

As usual, I didn't have the right ingredients, and I was trying to make it low-dairy. Mini-M can have a little bit now, but not into the realm of quark-filled buns just yet! So I substituted thick coconut milk yoghurt (I used Coyo plain) and homemade blackcurrant jam made by Granny E. I used regular milk but dairy-free margarine in the dough instead of butter.

These buns were a roller coaster to make. Initial excitement, then abject despair when the dough refused to rise (probably not that surprising given the vintage of the yeast I used). However 3.5hours later, I decided just to bake them and see what happened, and lo and behold they rose - phew!

The end result was delicious - Mini-M was smitten. They have now been reminisced about on more than one occasion since the eating, and are referred to as "proper buns" - as opposed to cupcake buns.

There is an excellent and comprehensive recipe available on the Daring Kitchen which I'm not going to recreate here, but I do thoroughly recommend you try it out. They are fantastic, and I'll definitely be making them again. Although first I might have to give Jagodzianki a try - the Koláčes have brought back a taste for my favourite Polish bake - a sweet bread filled with blueberries - one of these from the corner shop was a lunchtime treat when I did my summer placement in Warsaw quite a few years ago now.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Strawberry Tart in 10

Strawberries, chocolate and marshmallows turned into the fastest tart ever in only 10 minutes.

OK, 15 if you chop carefully and crush your biscuits without pepper your entire kitchen with over enthusiastic crumbs!

And the end result looks like you've spent at least 30… plus it tastes delicious which really is the most important thing.

This is a short recipe - after all there's a limit to how long it can be with only 4 ingredients.

Strawberry, Chocolate, Marshmallow 10-Minute Tart (Serves 6-8)
  • 200g chocolate sandwich biscuits (I used The Cooperative Free From Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, but bourbons or Oreo style cookies would also work)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 250g fresh strawberries
  • 50g mini marshmallows
Use a small amount of the coconut oil to grease a 8in round loose-bottomed cake tin.
Crush the biscuits with the end of a rolling pin into powder and small pieces.
Melt the rest of the coconut oil and mix into the biscuits.
Press into the prepared tin and stick in the freezer for 5 minutes to chill.
Halve/quarter the strawberries depending on size and place on the chilled base.
Sprinkle over the mini-marshmallows.
Grill on high for 5 minutes until the marshmallows bubble and brown.
Remove from the girl and cool for a few minutes before gently easing out of the tin.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Belated Birthday Cake

Back to the blogging and catching up on last night's Bake Off on iPlayer, since instead of watching it yesterday, I was in the pub discussing cake - more specifically planning a charity afternoon tea.

I knew it was ages since I'd last blogged, but… I'm ashamed to see it was actually the 27th July. We're in September new (somehow).

So I shall first make my excuses:
  • Work has been silly busy, and after spending 9hrs staring at a computer screen the last thing I've wanted to do in the evening is have even more screen time
  • My dodgy wrist has not been enjoying the long days and typing/mousing
  • My laptop / iPhoto combo are not very happy with each other, making manipulating photos a bit tricky
  • We've been on holiday, enjoying the festival, catching up with friends and lots of other things (see - not all moany, self pitying excuses)
And then I shall get back to the baking.

It was Mini-M's birthday back in July, and her cake request was thankfully not Hello-Kitty related (see previously Kitty Pirate Cake and Rainbow Kitty Cake). Nope, no Kitty. 

This time, she asked for a patchwork owl cake (!). After a fair amount of interrogation to try to establish her expectations, I eventually resorted to Google Images for inspiration, and found the majority of them seemed to stem from this Stitch Craft Create tutorial.

However…. I didn't want to use that quantity of fondant, or really get into cake carving, so I went off freestyle on the patchwork owl front.

I used buttercream in 3 colours (vanilla, light cocoa, and vanilla tinted with a small amount of lilac) and piped feathers all over the cake by piping a row of splodges and flattening them with a pallet knife, then putting the next row in front and repeating. I didn't use a nozzle on my piping bags since the shape was immediately going to be flattened.

I then used small amounts of fondant to make the features which I positioned on the top.

It seems like a dim and distant past, but I seem to recollect that the cake inside was a banana cake, at Mini-M's request. I didn't want it to be too damp, so I went for a regular 6 egg Victoria sponge, and substituted out 1 one of the eggs for a medium very ripe banana, very well mashed. And I definitely added some almond extract to the icing, since I made it with dairy free margarine, which tastes, well quite a lot like margarine, even when bucket loads of icing sugar are added.

So no recipe, no how to, but a cake that I really enjoyed making and was very pleased how it turned out. And plenty of pictures!

Bring on next year…


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