Saturday, 19 April 2014

Cranberry & White Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

The long Easter weekend is finally here and it's lovely and sunny where I am, I hope it is wherever you are too. I fancied making something a little different this year and after making normal hot cross buns a couple of weeks ago the idea for these cranberry and white chocolate buns popped into my head. I baked these yesterday and have scoffed a couple already. I highly recommend eating one still warm from the oven whilst the white chocolate is still a little gooey, it makes for a very luxurious Easter treat. I used my speculoos spice mix to flavour these buns as I was all out of mixed spice but I think either blend will work well so just go with what you have in the kitchen.

The hot cross bun recipe has been adapted from the recipe in The Great British Book of Baking and this makes quite a sticky dough so you may prefer to use dough hooks if you have them rather than kneading by hand.

Ingredients - makes 12

450g strong white bread flour
50g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp mixed spice or speculoos spice mix
7g sachet fast action yeast
50g unsalted butter, diced
125g dried cranberries
100g white chocolate broken into small chunks
200ml lukewarm milk
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten

For the crosses mix 4 tbsp flour with enough water to make a paste that can be piped.
For the glaze you need 2 tbsp caster sugar and 4 tbsp milk

  • Mix flour, salt, spices, yeast and sugar in a large bowl, rub in the butter until you get a fine crumb texture. Stir in the cranberries and chocolate chunks. Make a well in the centre and add the milk and eggs. Work into a dough and knead for 10 minutes by hand until smooth and elastic or use dough hooks on mixer instead for about 4 minutes. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and prove for at least an hour or until doubled in size. NB due to the weight of the cranberries and chocolate in the dough you will probably find that it takes 2 hours or more to rise.
  • Knock back the dough and divide into 12 pieces and shape them into balls. Arrange on a baking tray, cover with clingfilm and leave for around 45-60 minutes to double in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C. Make the paste for the crosses and pipe a cross onto each bun. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Make the glaze by heating the milk and sugar together in a small pan and bring to the boil then remove from the heat. Brush the glaze over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven and leave to cool on a rack.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Cookie Dough Cake

It's been a very long time since I've been on my blog, too long in fact. The combination of recovering from my operation (all back to normal now), working on my thesis (deadlines looming) and hunting for jobs (money running out) has meant that I haven't really had the time to spend making many interesting things let alone blog about them. Fortunately it was cake club in Reading last week and I wouldn't have missed that for anything, two reasons why, firstly I love going out for an evening to talk about cake, baking and anything else that pops up and secondly, our group organiser picked an amazing theme for this month ... Ben & Jerry's themed cakes! I was so excited when I saw the announcement and knew that I had to do something with cookie dough. It might not be the most adventurous flavour but it's the favourite in our house and I thought I could have some fun with it.

I spent a bit of time thinking about how I could actually make this cake and in the end settled on a vanilla sponge filled with a layer of vanilla buttercream and a layer of cookie dough, all finished off with a generous coating of vanilla buttercream. Sounds absolutely wonderful and trust me it was despite my frankly shoddy efforts at decorating this time. I was in a rush to get the buttercream and cookie dough filling made after being at uni all day and so the finish isn't as good as I would have liked, but cake club isn't competitive, we're always more interested in how the cake tastes than how it looks. To me and everyone else, this cake came a very close second in terms of taste to a tub of Ben & Jerry's. Be warned though this is a very sweet rich cake and I could only manage a small slice but judging by my boyfriend's reaction I'll be making this cake again, he couldn't get enough of it.

The buttercream is wonky and full of crumbs as I rushed
For the cookie dough filling I used an American recipe that I found here. I'm afraid I can't give you any conversions from cups into grams as I ended up having to add extra flour and I don't know how much extra I added, but as a general idea of what to aim for I think it's worth looking at. There is no egg in the cookie dough recipe meaning that it's fine to eat raw. If you have a favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe then that would probably work well for this if you leave the egg out and add a drop if milk so it isn't too dry. The cookie dough filling ended up being similar in consistency to the buttercream, not quite sure if that was right but it tasted good and made a lot more than I needed. The leftovers were used to decorate some chocolate muffins for my office and they went down very well too.


For the cake:
8oz caster sugar
8oz unsalted butter
8oz self raising flour
4 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
80ml milk
pinch of salt

For the buttercream:
250g unsalted butter
500g icing sugar
1-2 tsp vanilla extract - depends how strong you want the vanilla flavour to be
splash of milk

For the cookie dough filling - see paragraph above.

  • Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and flour two non stick sandwich tins.
  • Use the all in one method to make the cake batter, i.e. everything in a mixing bowl and whisk until you get a smooth batter. Divide the batter evenly between the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool. 
  • To make the buttercream, beat the butter until smooth and then add a splash of milk and pour in the icing sugar gradually so you don't coat the kitchen in white powder. When all of the sugar has been incorporated add the vanilla extract and beat again until smooth. 
  • Spread some buttercream on the bottom halves of both cake layers then add a generous layer of the cookie dough filling. Cover the cake with the remaining buttercream using a palette knife. 
If you want to see all of the other cakes from the evening, head over to Lisa's blog United Cakedom where she has a round up and a recipe for her cherry garcia cake

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Giveaway: Win a Pie Party With Higgidy!


Everyone loves a good homemade pie and to celebrate British Pie Week from 3rd-9th March, Higgidy are hosting a pie party. I'm a big fan of Higgidy pies and I'm very excited to be sharing this giveaway with you. All you need to do is enter below for a chance to win a Higgidy Pie Party. What better excuse to get some friends round to share a home-cooked meal, and celebrate one of the most delicious weeks of the year?

Higgidy believe there is nothing better than homemade, which is why they freshly bake their pies by hand every day, and fill them with delicious ingredients just like you would use in your kitchen at home.

Each party pack contains everything you need to make your home pie-themed for the event including party hats, balloons, place cards, and of course, enough meat and vegetarian pies for 12 to enjoy for dinner (or lunch if you’d prefer). Don't worry if you can't fit 12 people around your table, it just means there will be more pie for everyone else!

To enter this giveaway just answer the following question as a comment on this blog and click the green button on the rafflecopter widget to validate your entry. 

What is your favourite pie?

Terms and conditions

  • This giveaway is open to UK residents only.
  • The giveaway closing date is 24th February 2014 and the winner must respond within 24 hours of being contacted in order to arrange pie delivery with Higgidy.
  • A comment on this blog post is a mandatory entry method, any additional entry methods e.g. tweeting etc are optional but will give you more chances to win. All entry methods made via the rafflecopter widget will be validated so please don't say you've tweeted etc if you haven't as the entry will not count. 
  • The winner will be chosen using the rafflecopter random number generator. 
  • The winner will be contacted by Blue Kitchen Bakes via the email address you used to access the rafflecopter widget with. 
  • There is one prize available of a Higgidy pie party pack containting party accessories for 12 and 12 pies. Higgidy and Blue Kitchen Bakes accepts no responsibility for any costs associated with the prize and not specifically included in the prize.
  • The prize pies will be a mix of meat and vegetarian products.
  • The prize will be delivered on Thursday 6 March from Higgidy via a courier. 
  • The prize is non-exchangeable, non-transferable, and is not redeemable for cash or other prizes. 
  • Higgidy retains the right to substitute the prize, or any of its contents, with another prize of similar value in the event the original prize offered is not available.
  • The winners names may be promoted on Higgidy's website or social media websites
  • Blue Kitchen Bakes accepts no responsibility for any delivery problems encountered. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway