Monthly Archives: August 2012

cinnamon buns – fresh from the oven

Recently I came across some delicious looking saffron buns, baked as part of the Fresh from the Oven Challenge! Now I knew the only way I was going to have one of these buns was to bake them myself and with some home-made Doughnut Peach Conserve in the fridge… how could I resist! When it comes to bread making there is no greater pleasure than the smell and taste of bread fresh from the oven… Irish soda bread is baked quite often in our house!

Sally from My Custard Pie had set the challenge and the full recipe and instructions for saffron buns will be found on her blog!  As cinnamon is a favourite with everyone in our family I decided to forgo the saffron for another time! I did follow Sally’s recipe and method and the only changes I made were as follows:

  • Omitted the saffron and replaced with 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon which was sieved in with the flour and salt
  • Used light brown muscovado sugar instead of golden caster sugar
  • Used salted butter instead of unsalted
  • Used 1/4 teaspoon of salt instead of 1/2 teaspoon

When it came to adding the water to the dry ingredients I needed a little more than the 100ml of water suggested… depends on the brand and type of flour used, so maybe keep this in mind!

The kitchen was a bit on the warm side so when it came to rubbing the butter into the flour I opted to use a pastry blender which is a handy kitchen tool to have, especially if you have warm hands.

Kneading bread dough is a very therapeutic process (one that I love), but this time I decided to use the dough hook on a stand mixer, making the process of kneading the dough a breeze!

Rather than placing all the pieces of dough on a baking tray to prove, I placed them into small lightly oiled baking tins… giving them a different shape when baked, which of course is completely optional.

The dough took longer than one hour to prove and I did find by moving the dough to a much warmer area of the house gave the dough a better rise! The cinnamon buns were baked in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Serve warm with butter and preserves.

You could also try to make a really easy Uncooked Raspberry Jam which would be very delicious with these cinnamon buns or other home-made breads! 

easy mixed berry mousse made with uncooked raspberry jam

Fruit and dairy products make a delicious combination and chilled desserts using these ingredients can easily be assembled for quick summer entertaining. This months blog hop theme “Berry Nice to Meet You” found me scouring the supermarkets to find the freshest raspberries (organic if possible) available, as I wanted to make an uncooked raspberry jam. I love traditional jam making and had recently made some delicious Doughnut Peach Conserve, but it’s always nice to try a different method!

Planing an easy make-ahead dessert for entertaining, the uncooked raspberry jam was perfect for this easy berry mousse, assembled and served in glasses. Actually this berry mousse would make a wonderful filling for pavlovas, meringues and cakes.

When making the jam, warming the sugar makes it easier to dissolve and the heat helps release some of the pectin when mixed with the berries! Infusing the warming sugar with the wonderful perfume of thyme had more of a therapeutic effect on me than the taste it delivered. However the fresh thyme served with the finished mousse was really quite delicious…!

Using only sugar and raspberries in equal weights, Marguerite Pattens version of uncooked raspberry jam; heat the sugar for 15 minutes in an oven on a low temperature  before mixing with the berries until the sugar has dissolved, then place the jam into hot jars and store in the fridge. I would imagine using perfectly ripe berries would make a nicely set jam but I needed to give my jam a little helping hand by adding a small amount of gelatine.

Over at Serious Eats you can find different recipes for delicious uncooked jams or freezer jams (method of preserving), which use instant pectin for sure jam setting results. Less sugar and more fruit is my preference when making jams and conserves, I still find them very sweet… but also berry very delicious!

Room temperature does make this jam somewhat runny, so when serving this jam with freshly baked scones, I would leave a little pot resting on some crushed ice, keeping its spoonable consistency.

Uncooked Raspberry Jam

Ingredients:

  • 100g castor sugar
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)
  • 170g fresh raspberries or blackberries or you could even use a mix
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered gelatine

How to make: Place the sprigs of thyme into a heatproof bowl and cover with the castor sugar. Place the bowl into the oven and turn the temperature to low (160°C), leaving the sugar to heat and infuse with the flavour of thyme for about 30 minutes, give a quick stir half way through heating.

While the sugar is warming place the raspberries into a bowl. Remove the hot sugar from the oven, discarding the thyme. Quickly sieve (catching any small bits of herb) over the raspberries. Gently mix together and set aside while preparing the gelatine.

Pour the lemon juice into a small heatproof dish and sprinkle over the gelatine, leave to sponge for a couple of minutes. Bring a small amount of water to a boil in a small saucepan, remove from heat and place the bowl containing the gelatine into the hot water. Stir the gelatine until completely dissolved.

Gently mix the raspberries and sugar a few more times, ensuring the sugar has melted. Stir the gelatine into the raspberry jam. Spoon the raspberry jam into a suitable jar rinsed with some boiling water, cover and leave the jam in the fridge to set, a few hours or overnight.

When making and assembling this dessert certain kitchen tools help with getting the job done faster… using an electric whisk to beat the cream and piping the berry mousse into the serving glasses using a piping bag fitted with a plain tipped nozzle.

Easy Berry Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 225ml whipping cream
  • 6 to 7 tablespoons uncooked raspberry jam or bought jam from a local farmers market

    to assemble

  • 6 glasses with narrow bottoms
  • 3 teaspoons raspberry jam
  • whole fresh blackberries
  • fresh thyme (optional)

How to make:  Pour the cream into a bowl and with and an electric whisk, whisk until thick and the cream holds its shape. Gently fold in the raspberry jam.

Assembling the dessert: Place a teaspoon of raspberry jam at the bottom of each glass, followed by a whole blackberry. Spoon or pipe the raspberry mousse evenly into each glass and top with another whole blackberry, garnish with thyme just before serving.

This dessert can be made several hours in advance, covered with cling film and stored in the fridge. Always serve chilled.

This post is part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop hosted by Christina from The Hungry Australian. See all the other delicious entries here.

crunchy dates, spinach and pine nut salad with orange vinaigrette

Depending on personal taste dates are sometimes eaten and enjoyed at various stages of ripeness and just like my other half, many people like eating dates that are firm and have not matured to full ripeness! These dates referred to as bis-err (phonetically spelt), are crisp, a little fibrous and have a slight puckering mouthfeel when first chewed… but then release this mild honey-sugarcane like sweetness with a slight nuttiness, which is really quite pleasant!  Sold at markets, each variety of date has its own colour and taste.

My preferences are fresh and dried dates, however, I have grown to like the taste of firm dates (bis-err) which are very different from the sugary sweet and almost gooey fresh dates, also in the photograph above. As you can see not all dates ripen at the same time.

With a bag-full of baby spinach in the fridge and these crunchy dates reminding me of apples, I decided to make a quick salad with an orange vinaigrette dressing for a quick bite to eat. Serving this salad with a nice piece of grilled fish would have made a more filling meal… but I was trying to make up for all those sweet ripe dates that I have overly consumed lately!

When making a leafy salad one piece of kitchen equipment that I would not be without is my salad spinner. Why go down the Mr Bean route, stuffing wet lettuce leaves in a sock and swinging them around, spraying water all over the place!

Using endless pieces of paper kitchen roll to dry each salad leaf seems such a waste and takes time,  a quick couple of spins in a salad spinner and your done! Great for storing  washed salad leaves in when entertaining… ready for those last minutes needed to assemble and dress a salad quickly, especially when using delicate leaves like baby spinach!

Crunchy Dates, Spinach and Pine Nut Salad with Orange Vinaigrette 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 4 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • 12 firm dates, cut in half, stone removed and sliced thinly or you can use soft dried dates instead

For the vinaigrette

  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons apple vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • fine sea salt, to taste

How to make: First make the dressing and set aside. In a large salad bowl add the pine nuts, baby spinach and dates. Just before serving pour over the orange vinaigrette and gently toss all ingredients together. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

How to make vinaigrette: Add the orange zest, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, apple cider and honey into a bowl. Slowly pour in the oil while whisking continuously until well emulsified. Season with salt. Set aside for about 10 minutes for the flavours to mingle before using. The salad dressing can be made several hours in advance, covered and stored in the fridge.

 

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