Pavlova

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 If you are entertaining or visiting and have offered to do dessert there is nothing easier than a Pavlova. The simple rule of thumb is the double the amount of sugar to eggs for example: 6 egg whites and 12 ounces of sugar. The dessert was created in honour of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova either during or after one of her tours of New Zealand in the 1920s. Make this dessert even easier by using the bottled egg white and save yourself having to think of what to do with the leftover yolks! This dessert contains no flour and so is gluten free!

225 millilitres egg whites approximately 6 eggs

330 grams /12 ounces 1 ½ cups caster sugar

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon cornflour

To serve

500 millilitres fresh cream lightly whipped

Fruit of your choice, I used raspberries,blueberries and strawberries

Icing sugar to dredge

Preheat the oven to 150C/ 300F

Place the egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl and whisk on high speed until stiff. Test by tipping the bowl upside down, the egg whites shouldn’t fall out!

Gradually add the sugar one tablespoon at a time waiting about 30 seconds between each addition. Once all the sugar has been added, scrape down the bowl and add the vinegar and cornflour. Whisk for a further 5 minutes until the mixture is stiff and glossy. If you don’t whisk in the sugar fully your pavlova will ooze a sticky sugar syrup while it is cooking making it impossible to remove from the parchment paper.

Pile spoonfuls of the mixture onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper and using a spoon shape to form a 20 centimeter mound with a dip in the centre to hold the fruit and cream once cooked.

Reduce the oven temperature to 120C/ 250F and bake for 90 minutes or until dry and crisp to the touch. Turn the oven off and allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven.

Decorate with cream and fruit and dust with icing sugar and serve at once!

Strawberry Cheesecake

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I am a big fan of cheesecake especially baked, but my friend Sam served this recipe at her son’s communion recently and I was very impressed. She did a blueberry version but I have tweaked it because strawberry season is upon us and it works very well with her basic recipe. This can be made on the same day without having to chill it overnight as you would for baked cheesecakes. Thank you Sam!

Ingredients

280 grams/ 10 ounces digestive biscuits crushed

140 grams / 5 ounces butter melted

450 grams /1 lb cream cheese

140grams / 5 ounces caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grated rind and juice of one lemon

440 millilitres cream whipped

200 gram strawberries hulled and chopped

To decorate

400 grams strawberries hulled and chopped

Juice of half lemon

2 tablespoons icing sugar sifted

 

Method

Melt the butter and stir in the crushed biscuits. Press the mixture into the base of an 8 inch spring form tin which you have greased with spray oil or butter. Place in the fridge to set. My friend Sandra told me if you turn the base of the tin upside down it’s much easier to slide the finished cheesecake onto a serving plate. Believe me it works every time! Make your base gluten free by using s GF digestive biscuit as your base you wouldn’t even know the difference!

Whip the cream and set aside

Mix the cream cheese with the sugar, lemon rind and juice in the bowl of your mixer and fold in the whipped cream with the mixer on a slow speed. Fold in the strawberries by hand and spoon the mixture into your prepared tin. Chill for at least three hours or overnight.

When set remove from the fridge and place 200 grams strawberries on top. Blitz the remaining 200 grams strawberries to a smooth sauce in your blender and stir in the lemon juice and icing sugar. Don’t be tempted not to sift the icing sugar as it will clump when it hits the blitzed berries and you will end up with a lumpy sauce. You can serve the sauce on the side or pour it over the top of the berries, but I found that the sauce dripped down the side of the cheesecake onto the plate and beyond! So now I drizzle it on a slice of cheesecake just before serving! Enjoy!

Chocolate and Zucchini Cake

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The only vegetables my youngest Seán will eat are carrots, so in an attempt to introduce him to other veggies I happened across this recipe with the secret ingredient of zucchini or courgettes as they are known here in Ireland. He is not quite sure what zucchinis are but he knows he doesn’t like courgettes! We call it Maedbh’s Chocolate Cake as my daughter was my co conspirator and helped me bake this. We served it warm with vanilla ice cream and it was a big hit. Seán had two helpings! It even qualifies for the lunchbox, who can argue with the zucchini ingredient!

115 grams/ ½ cup butter

240 grams/ 2 cups plain flour

60 grams/ ½ cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

180 grams/ 1 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon coffee granules reconstituted in 2 tablespoons boiling water

3 large eggs

350 grams/2 cups unpeeled grated zucchini

160 grams bittersweet chocolate

 

Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F

Grease and line 20cm springform tin

In a medium bowl, measure out the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix with a hand whisk to combine.

In another bowl combine the zucchini, chocolate chips and about one third of the flour mixture making sure the zucchini strands are well coated and not clumping too much.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream the sugar and butter until fluffy. Then, add the eggs, vanilla and coffee mixing well.

Add your flour mixture and mix. The batter will be thick. Then, add the zucchini mixture and with the mixer on a slow speed combine all the ingredients together.

Pour into the cake tin and level the surface.

Bake for 50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out cleanly. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before unclasping the sides of the tin and allowing to cool fully. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make this cake gluten free by substituting the flour and baking powder with a GF variety. I like Dove’s Farm brand. Remember to include ¼ teaspoon of Xanthan

Adapted from the blog Chocolate and Zucchini

Homemade Blueberry Muffins

 

IMG_4098[1]My youngest, Seán is five and won’t eat blueberries but loves these muffins! These are so easy to make and are ideal for your child’s lunch box or even for a breakfast treat if you have a fussy eater! You can of course substitute the blueberries for your favourite berry or even use a combination of berries. These are also very tasty when made with frozen berries!

312 grams /2 ½ cups plain flour (all purpose)

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

150 grams / ¾ cup granulated sugar

113 grams/ 1 stick/ ½ cup butter

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

250 millilitres / 1 cup buttermilk

150 grams /1½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries plus  25grams / ¼ cup to press on top

 

Method

Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F

Grease your muffin tin using non stick cooking spray or use muffin cases.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla and butter milk and mix until combined. Don’t worry if it looks lumpy.

Add the flour mixture and mix until combined, the batter will be thick

Gently fold in blueberries. Note that frozen blueberries will make the batter even stiffer as it brings down the temperature of it. It will also take about 6 minutes longer to cook but the results are just as good.

Scoop the batter into your muffin tin using an ice-cream scoop to evenly distribute the batter. Press 2 or 3 or the remaining blueberries onto the top of each muffin and cook for 20 minutes.

Make these gluten free by substituting the flour and baking powder with a GF variety. I like Dove’s Farm brand. Remember to include ¼ teaspoon of Xanthum gum.

 

If using fresh blueberries cook for approx 20 minutes

If using frozen blueberries cook for approx 26 minutes

 

Eve’s Pudding

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This is sometimes called Apple Sponge here in Ireland but the correct name is actually Eve’s Pudding because of the Garden of Eden and the stolen apple. Eve obviously went home and made this for tea! A special thanks to my friend Zita who shared her recipe with me.

188 grams butter at room temperature

188 grams sugar

188 grams Flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk if mixture is too dry

3 eggs beaten

675 grams approx 3 – 4 brambly apples peeled cored sliced and stewed

2 tablespoons water

Sugar to sweeten

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F

Place the apples and water in a small saucepan on a low heat. With the lid on, cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the apples are soft. Alternatively, cook in microwave for 5- 7 minutes. Bramley apple are sour so make sure you sweeten them to taste. Allow to cool

Grease a casserole dish with spray oil or butter and place the cooled apples in the bottom.

Using the creaming method; in a bowl beat the butter and sugar until creamy, and then add the eggs and vanilla. Gradually fold in the flour. Add a tablespoon of milk if batter is too stiff to spread

Alternatively, use the all in one method: Place all your ingredients with the exception of the milk into the bowl and mix to a smooth batter. If your mixture is too dry, add the milk.

Spoon the batter on top of the apples and level it out with a spatula.

Cook for 40 -50 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out cleanly. Serve with ice-cream, cream or custard. Enjoy!

Millionaire’s Shortbread

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This is a very moreish tray bake that people often find challenging because of the palaver with the caramel. You have to be careful that the condensed milk doesn’t burn and cause unsightly burnt flecks in your toffee layer. This recipe is fool proof and I have to thank Josephine Loftus for sharing it with me. I boil at least three cans of condensed milk at the same time so I always have one ready in the cupboard when I want to make this bake. Do remember to label your cans of boiled milk though so you don’t mistake it for regular condensed milk!

For the shortbread:

225 grams / 8 ounces plain flour

175 grams/ 6ounzes cold butter cut into cubes

75 grams /2 ¾ ounces caster sugar

1 tablespoon cold water

For the topping:

1 can of condensed milk boiled for 2 hours in water (I do three at a time!)

155 grams / 5 ½ ounces butter

155 grams / 5 ½ ounces sugar

175 grams / 6 ounces of your favourite chocolate

Method

Firstly, place the condensed milk in a saucepan on top of an upturned saucer to prevent the cans touching the bottom of the pan. Cover with water and bring it to the boil. Time it from when the water reaches boiling point. Avoid letting the water boil off by keeping the water topped up throughout the time. If might seem obvious but use boiling water when topping up. I do this the day before I make the shortbread so that the cans have cooled down.

Heat your oven to 150C / 300F

Then make your shortbread. Combine the flour, sugar and butter into your mixer or food processor and only add the water if the mixture if too dry. It you want to make chocolate orange shortbread add the zest of one orange to the shortbread before the water.

Press the dough into a lined tray with deep sides and cook for approx 18 minutes until a pale brown, if you cook it until it is golden brown it will be hard and unpalatable. Allow to cool.

Melt the sugar and butter in a saucepan over a medium heat until all the sugar crystals have melted. Not waiting for the sugar to melt will create gritty caramel! Then add the cooled can of condensed milk that you boiled for two hours and stir it into the melted sugar and butter. I use a whisk to ensure it is evenly combined. Boil for about four minutes stirring furiously. Make sure it doesn’t catch and burn, if it begins to, turn down the heat. Pour your finished caramel over the shortbread and chill until set.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in thirty second blasts and pour over the cooled caramel. Consider using an orange chocolate if you have used orange zest in your shortbread. Work quickly as the cold caramel will cause the chocolate to set. I stick it back in the fridge to set but allow it to come to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!

Make the shortbread gluten free by substituting the flour and baking powder with a GF variety. I like Dove’s Farm brand. Remember to include ¼ teaspoon of Xanthum gum. The caramel is gluten free but check that the brand of chocolate you are using is too.

Scones

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I’ve had a lot of requests for the recipes from the kids’ baking classes. Here is a taster to get you started!

This is a quick and simple scone recipe that my nine year old daughter can make; indeed the ones in the photo are her work. You can omit the dried fruit altogether or even use fresh fruit though be aware that their juice may make your dough wetter.

225 grams /8 ounces Self Raising Flour

Pinch Salt

½ teaspoon Baking Powder

50 grams/2 ounces Butter

25 grams /1ounce Caster Sugar

100 grams /4 ounces sultanas/ dried cranberries (optional)

1 egg beaten

150 millilitres /¼ pint Milk (approx)

 

Method

Sieve flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.

Rub in butter.

Stir in sugar.

Add the dried fruit and this point if using.

Add the beaten egg and sufficient milk to make soft dough.

Turn onto a floured board and gently knead to remove any cracks.

Roll out lightly or press with your hands to 1” in thickness. Cut into scones with a cutter dipped in flour.

Place on a greased pre-heated baking sheet/tray, glaze if liked with beaten egg or milk.

Bake in a pre-heated oven 180°C on upper shelf position for 15 minutes approx.

Cool on a wire tray.

 

Serve with cream and the oven raspberry jam for and indulgent afternoon  tea.

Raspberry Oven Jam

This is a cheat version of raspberry jam that you can make in twenty minutes and which will enable you impress your guests with fresh homemade jam. It will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Just use equal quantities of fruit ans sugar.

250 grams of frozen or fresh raspberries

250 grams sugar

2 pie dishes

Sterilized jars

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Put raspberries and sugar into 2 separate pie plates, I used disposable ones, so the fruit will spread out rather than piled up.

Put both pans in oven for 20 to 25 minutes until they are really hot.

Take them out of oven carefully and add the sugar to the raspberries. As you do so, you’ll find the fruit turns into a molten ruby red river.

 

Pour this into the cleaned and waiting jars.

 

Fasten with the lid and leave it to cool before storing in fridge for up to a week.