French Cannelés...

3 weeks at college, 3 nights in a proper restaurant style kitchen and finally I've regained my mojo.
A lot can be said for jumping head first out of your comfort zone...

Several months ago now I promised a recipe for French Cannelés and its been sat in my draft box since they came out of the oven.

I think its about time I let them out of the box, don't you?

So "what are Cannelés?" I hear you ask! Well my friends, I shall tell you. They originate from Bordeaux in France and are one of the best known sweet treats of the region. The recipe resembles that of a crêpe, but the finished items are pure perfection. Typically they have a rich caramel coloured exterior with a beautifully fluffy interior.




You will need:

500ml Full fat milk.
50g unsalted butter.
1 vanilla pod worth of beans. (Or cheat like I did and you paste)
100g plain white flour.
250g icing sugar.
1stp salt.
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks.
60ml of rum.



To start, Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan with the
vanilla (pod and beans or the paste if you too are a cheater...). Bring to the boil over a medium heat. Once its boiling remove from the heat and allow to cool a tad.


Next place the flour, icing sugar and salt into a large bowl and then lightly beat the eggs in a separate bowl.



Once the milk has had time to cool slightly, add it along with the eggs to the dry mixture (Remove the pod before hand if you used one). Stir gently until it all comes together, but don't worry to much about lumps at this stage. Grab your trusty sieve and strain the mixture into a clean bowl, pushing the lumps through until you have a smoothing mixture. At this stage, its party time. Add the rum, give it a stir and then cover with cling film and pop it into the fridge. (You can add the pod back in at this point if you used one for added flavour)

This is where the difficulty starts... You have to use will power and leave it there...

...For 2 days...Minimum...!!!

Doing this not only allows the flavours to get to know each other but it also allows the gluten to relax causing a fluffier interior.

One key point though, give it a stir every now and then to allow the flavours to really get to know each other.



Now, there are several different pieces of bake ware you can use to bake these. But which ever piece you choose to use, you need to get it preheated before you add the mixture. This helps to create that crisp exterior.





Preheat the oven to 240°C and when the pan/silicone has preheated (This should only take a few minutes) pour the mixture into each hole roughly three quarters of the way up.

Place into the hot oven for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 190°C and continue baking for another hour.




When the hour is up, remove from the moulds and allow to cool on a wire rack.


As they begin to cool the exterior will being to develop a crisp caramel coloured exterior, with a pale and fluffy interior.

These sweet little treats really have the wow factor and are beautiful paired with a freshly brewed pot of coffee.

So go on...treat yourself this weekend!

One year on...


...where the frick did that year go?

The Broke Boy is back in business! Lots of things have happened since my last post. If you followed the blog before hand you may remember that I got a new job which meant I would be traveling around the country, getting a company car etc....

Well that lasted all of a month before they closed the project down and sent everyone back to their old positions. For me it went a little differently and I was deployed to Bristol, which is a 30-45 minute commute without traffic. Oh...and they never gave me the company car and I was told I had to pay for travel and everything.

Needless to say this was not part of the deal when I signed up for the new job. Eventually I was transferred back to my old place of work and within a week managed to secure a new job within the company at a brand new store.

To start with I was taken on as a member of the recruitment team, which in itself was quite a fun task. That took me up until the end of October which is when we had the grand opening.

Since then I've been doing lots of different things, but this has also meant I simply haven't had the time to stop, think, cook or even more devastatingly... BAKE!

Over the past few months I've taken some steps, to some they may seem small, but to me they have been fantastic.

I recently purchased my first brand spanking new car. Her name is Scarlet and she is a sexy bitch.

Another thing that's been going through my head is that I'm not getting any younger and if I want to grab my dreams I had better get started.

So....The exciting news is that tomorrow I have an interview at a local college to join a course in Professional Cookery. This has been a massive dream of mine since school. I should have listened to my gut back at school and gone down this path straight away, rather than wasting 11 years on something that now I can never see myself using.

With this in mind I feel that its an appropriate time to restart The Broke Boy and continue the mission that I set out on back in 2013. Prepare to have your screen filled with glorious Food Porn!

Starting with this!


Lemon and Saffron Chicken!

Over the last 3 weeks my whole family have been trying really hard to stick to a healthy diet. We have done really well, losing a combined total of roughly 22lb. I've never been one to stick to a diet, but this time it seems to be working.

I've made this recipe once before, its by the very talented Sabrina Ghayour. Its such a simple dish but the end result is delicious. Its from her book Persiana.

This was our Sunday night treat, and you can make it to!

You will need:

4 onions.
5 lemons, the juice of.
4tbsp of olive oil.
1tsp ground turmeric.
400g of Greek style yogurt (I used the fat free one).
3tbsp crushed sea salt.
A good pinch of Saffron threads.
3tbsp of boiling water.
6 large chicken breasts, skin and boneless.




 

Now I know what you are thinking...That's a lot of onions and lemons but trust me, its totally worth it. The end result really packs a punch.



Start by slicing the onions into half moons. You want them to be quite thin so that they cook quickly and get a slight charred effect when cooked.

Once that's done add the juice of the 5 lemons.



Next add the olive oil and then the turmeric.




Give it all a good stir so that the onions are covered with the oily lemony goodness. Then add the Greek yogurt and the salt.




Put the Saffron into a Mortar and pestle and grind to dust, then cover with the boiling water and allow it to infuse for 5 minutes or so.


Slice the chicken into 5cm chunks and throw it in with the onions.


After 5 minutes or so, add the Saffron liquid to the chicken and onions. Give it a good mix around so everything is slicked with yellow.

Cover with cling film and pop in the fridge. Allow the mixture to marinate for one hour, or if you have the patients over night.




Once your patients has worn off, fish the chicken out and place it onto a oven proof baking dish lined with baking paper.
Pop into a preheated oven (highest maximum temperature) and cook for 18-20 minutes. Now as usual, you know your own oven so do what you think is best. The aim is to char them slightly.




Now I wanted to serve this dish with something delicious and filling. I decided to slice up some Aubergine and sprayed with a little olive oil. I then popped them onto the BBQ over a medium heat, turning occasionally to get some good grill lines.




Once you are happy that the chicken is cooked and suitably charred take it out of the oven and get ready to dine!



I served mine with a side salad, some brown rice and the aubergines...
 

And if you are feeling really naughty...a little blob of Greek yogurt.

The lemon cuts through the onion and gives the chicken a lovely Zing.. lovely for a summers evening!

I hope that you enjoyed this post guys, its great to be back!

Wish me luck for tomorrow!

Comments on what you think below!

A new wok...A new recipe...


Recently I have gone through several woks. My first was a Tefal which served me well through uni, then when I really got into Wok cooking I visited my local Chinese supermarket and got myself a carbon steel wok that required seasoning. I then went for a large Wok with a lid, although its a great size I found it to hard to keep hot on my hob. 

So finally I went back to the carbon steel variety but this time I went for one of Ching He Huang's. I got it at the bargain price of £7.50 at Sainsburys and it really is perfect. Its big enough for what I need, Heats evenly and is easy to clean.

To christen it I decided to try a recipe I haven't made before. 

Minced beef and green pepper stir fry.
For this recipe you will need (serves 4-6):

500g Minced Beef
2 green peppers
3 carrots
a big handful of cherry tomatoes
a thumb sized piece of ginger, grated finely
3 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
one green chilli, deseeded (leave them in if you like the heat)
a teaspoon of chilli flakes (optional, if you like the heat)
2-3 spring onions (to garnish)

For the sauce:

150ml of cold water
3 tablespoons of shaohsing rice wine (or dry sherry)
3 tablespoons of light soy sauce
3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
3 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil
3 teaspoons of chilli oil
3 tablespoons of cornflour



Start by preparing all of the vegetables, chop the cherry tomatoes in half, the peppers into strips and the carrots on an angle (about half a cm thick.

To make the sauce simple combine all of the ingredients in a jug, it is really important that the water is cold, warm water will cause the cornflour to clump and it will ruin the meal.



Place the Wok on the hob and allow it to heat until it begins to smoke. Add one tablespoon of groundnut oil and give it a swirl to cover the edges.

Throw in the garlic, ginger and chilli and stir it for a few seconds before adding the beef.




Stir fry the mince for a few minutes, breaking it up into small pieces.



Once the meat has browned add the carrots. Stir fry these with the meat for 2-3 minutes. The Chinese like their vegetables to have bite to them and it really does add texture to the dish.




Next add the peppers and tomatoes and stir for a minute or so before adding the sauce. The cornflour in the sauce will cause it to thicken when it hits the hot wok, making a thick glossy gravy.

Allow it to cook together for a few minutes (Or until the veg is to your liking) before serving.



To serve simple pop it in a serving dish and garnish with chopped spring onion. 

I served this with plain jasmine rice but you could add egg noodles to this dish if you like.


If you like this recipe why not also look at this one for Kung Po chicken.

A great day in Bristol...

...So this weekend I made my way to the Bristol Foodies Festival. I got there early in order to get tickets for the chefs I wanted to see. Sadly getting there early didn't seem to work this year because they had virtually no tickets left! I managed to get a ticket for Glenn Cosby but missed out on getting one for 
Larkin Cen. However he came to my rescue on twitter and managed to get me in at the back!





The day started with Glenn Cosby from 2013's Great British Bake Off. I was expecting this to be quite a funny demonstration because he came across on the show as being a very funny chap. I hadn't prepared myself for the hilarity that ensued.
He was fantastic! He had the whole audience laughing and he really made it fun.

He made Ginger Scones with a Grapefruit and Ginger curd, from his book "Extra Helpings".

His tip for a great scone is "the wetter the better" (quickly followed by telling the lady in the back that she was rude for smirking)

I would highly recommend seeing his show "Bake It Big" if possible, he truly is a talented chap! Not many people can bake and crack a joke at the same time!

He signed copies of his book at the end and when I got to the front of the queue he asked if I baked and looked at me as if he recognised me. I introduced myself as the broke boy and he knew who I was! I was very excited by this..made my week!



Next up was Larkin Cen. He kindly tweeted the organisers of the Foodies Festival to try and get me in, And it worked! I managed to stand at the back in the centre of the aisle and get a great view of the demo. Sadly the lighting in the tent was a bit iffy so neither of my camera's managed to get a clear shot of him.

The demo revolved around Larkins soon to open restaurant/Take away, Hokkeí. The asian inspired menu will cost you £12, and you will get a main, side and dessert. I personally cannot wait to travel all the way to Cardiff just to get my hands on the little boxes of joy. 




For his demo he created one of the meals you could have from Hokkeí. Posh duck curry served half and half with chips and rice, along side some spicy squid.


Asian food has always been a favourite of mine. The second he started cooking the amazing smells began to fill the air around me. I was quite literally in food heaven. 

Does't it all look yummy?

Watching him enjoy himself in the kitchen has made me think once again about trying to change my career. I think I would be so much happier stepping into a kitchen and doing something I love.

Larkin gave a great tip for making the squid curl perfectly, I would share but I think it deserves a blog post all of its very own! Check back soon.







Upon returning home my tummy was growling and I suddenly realised that I had been to a foodies festival and not eaten a single bite! I quickly whipped up a batch of Glenn's scones. I got into a bit of a pickle making them because my ruddy kitchen units are awful for making anything remotely sticky, Hence the lack of photos. But never fear, this weekend I am going to remake them just for you guys and post a step by step guide... Who am I kidding...Im doing it for my tummy...All for me!





Time flies when you're...

...staring a new job! It's been two whole months since my last blog post! Where has the time gone!

So let me start with the new...

I started a new job as a Regional trainer, I was to travel my neck of the woods delivering training for new systems that were to be implemented over the coming year. 
A company car was promised and it was all going really well...
Until it stopped!

Basically the system wasn't quite ready for roll out and the job has ended until January. I am still employed but I'm currently unsure as to what I will be doing over the coming months.

Because of the new job i've not had the time to bake and cook as much as I normally do but never fear! I've been on holiday this week and i've spent some time in the kitchen.






Last Sunday was the Wimbledon final and I love any excuse to have a BBQ and crack open the pimms. This year Emma came to play and we decided to go all out food wise. I made some home made Brioche burger buns for the occasion.


I used Will Torrent's brioche recipe but had to make some home made bun rings out of tin foil, Much easier than you would think!



They turned out rather well don't you think? They were beautifully buttery.




I also made some cinnamon rolls to keep myself amused! The picture doesn't do them justice but they were devoured by the family and I dropped some into my old colleagues for their morning break.



I also tried 2 recipes from Sabrina Ghayour's book "Persiana". First was her sour cherry lamb meatballs in a spiced tomato sauce. I really cannot speak highly enough of this recipe! It was bloody lush!
Also tried the Lemon Saffron Chicken which was beautiful, perfect for a warm summers evening.

As it has been so long since i've blogged or had time to go out an enjoy the food of life... (well...food..) I've decided to dedicate this entire weekend to the Bristol Foodies Festival.

You might remember I went last year and had a brilliant time, If not take a look here and see what you missed.

This years event is looking great, the winner of this years master chef (Ping Coombes) is one of the guest chefs and I cannot wait to see what she creates. She's from Bath and it will be great to see some local talent!

There is also the Master Chef street food bus! This is probably where you will find me over the entire course of the weekend!

Other demonstrations include Larkin Cen from MasterChef 2013 and Glenn Cosby from GBBO 2013. 

If you fancy coming along tickets are still on sale online or on the door over the course of the weekend.

Go on...

Eat well!



The Hungry Dog...


...Recently there has been a flurry of activity on Twitter surrounding this lovely little box of joy. John Whaite recently released his new book which is full of great recipes, he also finished his time studying at Le Cordon Bleu (JEALOUS!) and has now moved on to something new...

CHOCOLATE!



The Hungry Dog is his new baby. Each chocolate is created by hand by John himself, packaged up and sent off to those lucky enough to succeed in "the hunt".

Each box contains 8 beautiful chocolates with their own delicious flavours. 20 boxes are sold each week, making them a truly special gift....Or a really naughty treat!

The website itself describes the experience best...

"This is a chocolate shop like no other. Every week just 20 boxes of 8 assorted chocolates are made. No more and no less. When the chocolates are ready the shop opens. Once the 20 boxes are gone, the hunt begins again a week later. 
To get a box you have to channel the hungry dog. Be driven by that desire and hunt the best. "


On bank holiday monday after a long day at work, I decided it was time to open the box and cover my face in glorious chocolate.
First out of the box was this little beauty...
I've been waiting for this single chocolate since John originally announced his new venture...The passion fruit frolic!
Biting through the dark belgian chocolate shell to find a passion fruit infused white chocolate ganache...

The noises coming from me were all kinds of wrong! but so so right!


Then onto the Forbidden Fruit..

"A beautiful pink strip on a 53.8% finest Belgian dark, hand moulded shell represents the simplicity and beauty of a Japanese cherry blossom tree. Inside though, lies a black cherry ganache, using that same dark chocolate and a 100% fruit black cherry purée." 

I love the thought behind all of the descriptions. They really make you feel like you are on an adventure...Hunting down the best of the best!


The Hazelnut Elixir... "For those who love a a nutty, caramel indulgence, and of course, gold." Who doesn't love gold!? 



The Black Dog. Dark chocolate, Guinness and blackcurrant..What more do you need to know! My tongue tingled after every flavour hit it. So scrummy!



The STP (Sticky Toffee Pudding).

"A chocolate truffle like no other. Inside this 53.8% finest Belgian dark chocolate, hand dipped truffle lies an intense mixture of Billingtons unrefined dark muscovado sugar, butter, dried dates and 33.6% finest Belgian milk chocolate. 
A chocolate to fulfil the deepest, darkest desires. For those who relish the dark, treacly tones of dark muscovado sugar. "

Its like reading food porn! 50 shades of chocolate!


Merrick the Shepherd. This little chocolate really carries the ethos of The Hungry Dog..The description tells you more..

"Inside this hand dipped 53.8% finest Belgian dark chocolate shell, awaits a water ganache using that same dark chocolate, laced with cinnamon and a delicate hint of Monkey Shoulder whisky. 
This is named after the Shepherd in the ethos and origin story, and the silver stars are to wish his soul well, wherever it may lie; hopefully in a field of sheep beneath a starry sky, accompanied by his trusty dog. 
This is the chocolate for those who aren't afraid of the heat of whisky and cinnamon. "



The Plain Jane was an unexpected treat! No cream is used to make the ganache so the chocolate flavour is pure. I wasn't expecting the core to be so fluid but it was heavenly! I had to take a picture of it before shoving it in my gob.


And last but by no means least...The LMP (Lemon Meringue Pie)

This is one for those who love lemons...The thought of it 2 days on makes my mouth water. The perfect balance of sweet and sour.

I had planned on having one chocolate each day to extend the enjoyment...But that went out of the window on first bite!

I would seriously recommend trying a box if you like chocolate (and if you can get your hands on one). 

This weeks box is a little different...




This week only 10 boxes will be made. Limited edition white and gold boxes will be sent out containing limited edition salted caramels.
They go on sale at 8pm tonight (Wednesday the 7th) and will be signed by the man himself, John Whaite.

Get on over to The Hungry Dog early and keep refreshing the page for your chance to complete the hunt.

Trust me! you won't regret it for a second!

Well Done John! Now hurry up and organise some more blogger days! Chocolate creation please...!


WOOF!

Moroccan Inspired Lamb Breast with cous cous...


Last week I had a little black bag full of goodies arrive on my doorstep from the lovely people over at Maille. Inside the bag lay two jars of mustard. 

As the sun was shining and the grass was freshly cut, I felt it was time to bring a little Moroccan spice to the kitchen.




This little jar of joy jumped out at me straight away, Maille mustard with white wine, lemon and harissa spices.

I watched a program a little while ago about cheaper cuts of meat (I think it may have been Nigel Slater..) and he barbecued a breast of lamb. I hadn't heard of this cut before and was intrigued to try it.  We had one for a roast a few weeks ago and although its incredibly fatty, it was probably one of the nicest bits of lamb i've ever had. It was incredibly tasty with a crispy skin that was to die for.

When thinking what to make, I thought I would try another breast of lamb, but stuff it full of lovely things that would take on the flavours of the fat as it rendered down.

For this Moroccan inspired recipe
you will need:

1 - 2 Breasts of Lamb (I got mine from Sainsburys, dirt cheap)
100g Maille mustard with white wine, lemon and harissa spices
500g Cous Cous
A pinch of salt
A pinch of paprika (I used smoked, but use sweet if you prefer)
500ml Vegetable stock
2 and a half table spoons of Garlic oil
200g chopped dried apricots
75g dried cranberries
2 shallots finely chopped
one tin of chickpeas in water, drained (roughly 240g)
Extra garlic oil to drizzle

Preheat the oven to 160°C Fan.



Start by placing the cous cous into a large pot (the pot does need to be larger because the cous cous swells quite a bit!) and add the paprika and salt. Cover with the stock and clamp on a lid whilst you get on with the rest.






Place the apricots, cranberries and chickpeas into another bowl and cover with boiling water for a few minutes just to soften them up slightly. This isn't essential as the rendered fat will do this during the cooking process, but I wanted to serve some cous cous on the side as well as inside the breast.




Finely chop the shallots and add them to the cous cous along with the apricots, cranberries and chickpeas.




The lamb breast from sainsburys is part of the Basic range. I managed to get 2 pieces for a little under £4 each. They come rolled up and tied with string which is perfect for a normal roast however I wanted to stuff mine. 

Snip off the string and flatten the breast out. Take the mustard and smoother it all over the breast. Now I know what you are all thinking ("Good lord thats a lot of mustard!"), but don't worry...
This mustard is incredibly mild. I had a little spoonful before starting to get an understanding of the ingredient and its nothing like a normal mustard. The flavour however is mouth watering.






Next take the prepared cous cous and place a layer of it over the breast(s). Roll them back up and then firmly tie with string. You may need a second pair of hands to do this. Don't worry about how it looks now, it will all turn out lovely in the end. You will notice that there is quite a bit of cous cous left over but fear not...

Drizzle a little garlic oil over the lamb and season with a bit of salt and pepper.

Pop it in the oven and sit back with a glass of wine in the garden.

One thing I should mention is that it takes quite a bit of cooking, mostly down to the fat content of the lamb. Oven times will vary depending on your own oven but you will have to judge that yourselves. I cooked mine for 2 hours and then placed the left over cous cous in the bottom of the pan to absorb the juices and continued to cook for a further 30 minutes.



Corrrrrrr look at that! 



I served this with cous cous and also some roasted courgettes, peppers, mushrooms and tomato's.

The perfect meal to end a gloriously sunny day!


I do hope you all managed to get through that post without laughing every time the word breast came up...Because I didn't!

The Diner...

I spent last weekend in London celebrating my birthday. We got the 7.30am train to Paddington and spent the journey making posters to go all "fan girl" on Beyoncé's ass! We were slightly light headed after the heavy usage of Sharpie markers but it was totally worth it, we got on the big screens and Beyoncé pointed at me and sang happy birthday! Best moment ever!

We arrived into London just before 10am and decided to make our way to the O2 just to double check what time the O2 priority room was opening, as no one was answering the phone.

By the time we had done that we decided it was time for a spot of lunch...Now Emma and I are mad on food, I mean we would eat anything! (Well...Emma refuses to go anywhere near eggs...EGGS!)

Planning of trips usually involves heavy organisation of food consumption. This time we had decided that we were going to try something americanised on the Saturday and then Brunch on the sunday...However it didn't quite turn out like that.

Saturday lunch time we made our way to Soho as Emma wanted to take me to The Diner.

It saddens me the amount of times i've walked past this place and not even noticed it! 

We walked in at just the right time, a table for 2 awaited us and shortly after they were turning people away.




Whilst looking over the menu the waitress took our drinks order and left us to decide. I went for the Snickers milkshake and Emma went for a Coke (Which she quickly regretted!)

One sip of this shake had me in a very emotional state...it tasted like a snickers but one million times better! I mean seriously amazing. It even had chocolate chips in it!

Our mission in life is to find the best chicken wings in existence, so naturally when we saw they had a basket of them we ordered them. 


We ordered one of the larger blue plates (£11) to share between us. 10 gloriously scrummy chicken wings arrived (along with the rest of the food) and we dug in. The wings had a crispy batter on them and the only way I can describe it is...Its like they cooked them in bacon...SO GOOD!



I then went for the Diablo burger,which is a signature 8 0z Burger made from rib, sirloin, filet and chuck on a bun with bacon, jalapeño mayo and cheese. I also had Wet Fries which really brought back memories of my trip to NYC.

I have to hand it to these guys, they know how to make a burger. Sadly though I was so stuffed after the wings and the fries, I couldn't finish it! I was defeated!


Emma went for the ribs and fries. She ate like a lady(ish) but she didn't really need a knife and fork, the meat fell off the bone. I had a cheeky nibble and they were beautiful.


If you are a big eater and a lover of meaty mouthfuls, head on over to the diner.  My only real criticism for the Soho branch was the service. We asked for water but it never came, and the waitress seemed to be away with the fairies a little bit. But other than that it was great...Or so we thought!


That evening we went and watched Beyoncé. She was amazing! Such a talent and such a naturally beautiful girl. 

The original plan was to get up, have a small breakfast and then head on into central London for Brunch. However we decided against it as we both had rather vivid dreams about DEM WINGZ!

We made our way into London and wandered around for a little while. Popped into Patisserie Des Reves and got some birthday yummies (More on that later in the week). Whilst doing this we decided that rather than going to the Diner again, we would go to Spitalfields Market and have a little look round and maybe grab some market food.

However! on arrival we realised that there was actually another Diner there...Emma is a sneaky chicken fiend!

Naturally we went again... as you do...

 This Diner was a lot busier when we arrived. We were informed that there was a 40 minute wait, but that didn't bother us to much. They took my mobile number and said they would text when a table came up.

When we got the text we made our way in. The tables at this particular Diner are much more spacious. In the Soho one we felt like we were rammed into a tiny booth and had to sit with our bags and coats between our legs. In Spitalfields all tables sit 4 and are very comfortable.




Once again we placed our drinks order, this time I opted for the iced tea. They also have a menu of "Hard" iced teas, for the boozy tea drinkers! I debated getting one but decided against it.




We wanted a smaller lunch today so decided to both go for the chicken wings and just get a side of fries each... Expecting 10 wings each...

I think something must have been seriously wrong with Sohos portion control. We had 10 wings in Soho and 20 (Yes, 20!) in Spitalfields for the same price. I even got the receipt out at the end of the meal to check what we paid the day before....

So much for a light lunch!



We were both presented with a MASSIVE basket of chicken and a HUGE portion of fries. I made the foolish mistake of going for the Chilli cheese fries. They were so so good but I hardly touched them due to the chicken.

Overall the service in Spitalfields was much better! If you are looking to try those juicy wings I would recommend making the journey as not only do you get the food but you also get the market which made the day.





Or if you are lucky enough to live in London but fancy a night in, why not order for delivery! I'm so incredibly jealous of all of you Londoners that can order those wings whenever you want....


Alternatively if you just fancy a shake, a thick, amazing, glorious shake... They do them to go!


Whilst you are here, Why don't you take part in my bloggers Giveaway! It's easy and you could win all the equipment you need to make bread! 

Go on...you know you want to...





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The day when being a Tosser is acceptable...

This year i'm lucky enough to have pancake day the day after my birthday! So basically this whole week is going to be full of food...not much different from the norm but hey...any excuse!

The weekend just gone has been full of scrummy foods, and i've really been feeling the american theme (more to come on that later in the week),so decided to stick to it and make Buttermilk pancakes with crispy bacon and maple syrup.

 

For the pancakes you will need:

125g of plain flour

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of bicarb of soda

1 egg

250ml of buttermilk

50g of melted butter

For the topping you will need:

American style streaky bacon

Maple Syrup

 
 

Start by mixing the flour, salt and bicarb in a bowl.

 
 
 
 

Add the egg, buttermilk, melted butter and give it a good mix. 

 
 

The batter is quite a thick one, but don't be put off by this. Heat a frying pan and grease lightly (I used a little bit of butter for the first pancake but didn't add any more for the second and third, my pan is a very good non stick brand).

Add as much batter to the pan as you like, depending on the size you want. Make sure you place it in the centre and then use the back of the spoon or ladle to move the batter around to make the desired shape.

You will know when its time to flip when little pockets open up on the top, like little air bubbles. 

 
 

Americans like their pancakes with Bacon, I went for Oscar Mayer as its "American style" bacon and it crisps up nicely.

 
 

They also smother their pancakes in maple syrup, but I just went for a little drizzle as I find it a little to sweet.

Theres lots more to come this week on the blog, including my weekend in london, a restaurant review and last but by no means least....BEYONCÉ!

Don't forget to take part in my birthday giveaway!

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A year ago today The Broke Boy was born! Where has the time gone! It is scary to think that 365 days ago I sat down in front of this computer and thought "Right...Lets do something!".

It's even scarier to think that i've stuck to it!

The past year has been a great one for me. I've met some amazing people, I've pushed myself, I've taken risks and I've achieved a lot.






The biggest thing of all is the self confidence that all of this has given me. A year ago I never would of seen myself attending an audition for the Great British Bake Off, let alone getting to the top 250 out of 15,000.



The kitchen has become my new home. I love spending time creating yummy goodies and practicing different techniques. Those of you that have followed the blog since the beginning will hopefully have seen how what I make has improved. Last week someone told me that my Oreo cupcakes were "The best cake they had ever eaten" which put a massive smile on my face.

To celebrate the blog turning one, and also to start my own birthday celebrations early, I made some Dunkin cupcakes! Earl grey sponge with an earl grey and digestive frosting, topped with a biscuit fit for dunking.

Ive also set up a Facebook page!

The main thing I have been wanting to do for a while is to do a give away. When better to do one than on the blogs birthday eh?

To celebrate i've put together a collection of bread baking equipment. Everything you need to make a loaf bar the actual ingredients, i'd made to poison you.











To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter widget bellow! The more you tweet the better your chance of winning.
The closing date for the competition is the 27th of march. An email will be sent to the winner 48 hours after closing time.


Good Luck everyone and Thank you for making this a great year!






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Thrifty Bakers...



So normally I'm quite naughty when it comes to baking equipment. I usually see it, basket it and buy it. I don't really look at the price as its my biggest passion and its one of the few things I do spend money on now.

However, Its the week of pay day and the baking urge hit. Lucky for me Sainsburys have just started an amazing Cookware offer.

Lots of new lines are currently 1/3 off and although it might not sound a lot there is ALOT of new stuff that has previously been sold else where for ALOT more money.



The first items into the trolley were the 2 tier cupcake carriers. Now a lot of you have asked me before where I got my old carrier from, as it fits 24 cupcakes and can be used as presentation trays.

Originally I purchased my first carrier from Hobby Craft. As you can see they are currently on offer at £12.50 (sadly I paid £25 for mine). 

Sainsburys version is exactly the same, same height, same trays, same clip lock system. They are currently selling for £6.66! 
The great thing about these carriers is they stack together. So if you have 2 or 3 they will all lock together and you will no longer have to worry about juggling multiple boxes. I grabbed two and went back in for more later on but sadly they are all sold out. They are available online here and the offer is on until the 11th of March.

Next in the trolley was the heavy gauge baguette tray. These are brilliant little moulds to help you prove and bake the perfect baguettes. They are currently selling at £5.33 in store or online here.

Now that i've conquered my fear of bread I felt the need to invest in these bread cloths. I can't honestly say I really needed them, as any old tea towel will do...But I love filling draws with random crap and watching my Mums head explode...teehee(-towel). A pack of 3 towels set me back £5. Sadly I cant find them online.

My love of pastry has also hit new levels over the last week. And i'm going to attempt to make "The Broke Boy" out of puff pastry with these Alphabet cutters. I paid £9.99 for them but the website currently says they are still £15 here. Might be worth keeping an eye on them if you are interested.

And finally my diddy little frying pan. The website again says that this is £20 but I got it in store this morning for £13.33.
For those of us that don't have the money to purchase the lovely Le Cruset collection of cookware this to me is the next best thing and its incredibly good value for money. Its just as heavy as the real thing and just as long lasting. I have quite a few pieces of the Sainsburys collection and got this little frying pan for creating mini Tart Tatins. You can find it online here and the rest of the collection here.

All in all some great offers. They have a lot more stuff in store to so I suggest you have a look!

Also keep checking back as I will hopefully be putting together a give away in the next week or so!


My biggest fear...


...in the world of baking is bread! Don't ask me why, its probably because I have never spent the time practicing it.

2014 so far has been brilliant for me, and its only the 21st! That being said though, I have come to the conclusion that I need to try and conquer to fears when it comes to the kitchen.

So I decided to take bread head on.

You will notice from previous posts that I have attempted this before but things have either gone horribly wrong OR my overly picky side screamed at me and said it looked rubbish.

Just before New Year I ordered some books on bread from Amazon, one being Dough by Richard Bertinet and the other being Brilliant Bread by James Morton.

If you are like me and have a fear of bread, get these books! They are both brilliant, one starts from the beginning and explains every little detail about the ingredients, the method and the different outcomes. The other comes with a DVD that gives you a step by step guide on how to work the dough and get the best results.



This was my first attempt at a plain white loaf. Bare in mind at this point I didn't have the "Basic Equipment" the books said would help. At this point I wasn't so much worried about the working of the dough I wanted to concentrate on the outcome, the shape, the bake etc. I used the dough hook attachment on my mixer to speed up the process and focused solely on the shaping and baking. 
Although this loaf turned out ok, I wanted more from it!





For my next attempt I decided to go for the same dough as the bake itself was lovely. But I decided to attempt a different style of outcome.
This time I decided to create some baguettes in the form of Epis. The shape is formed by shaping the dough into a baguette shape and then taking a pair of scissors to the dough and snipping at intervals down the length. For a second attempt I was chuffed with these. They were yummy as well, perfect for sharing as its a bit like a tare and share loaf.



For this next batch my equipment had arrived and I was ready to work the dough by hand. Rather than using the traditional english method of kneading, I went for Richard Bertinet's method. At first it seemed a little alien but once you get into the swing of it you realise just how easy it is. I decided to try adding some flavouring to my white loaves buy adding Cumin and Gruyere cheese. To me these are a thing of beauty, look at the cheesey crust! For my first hand worked dough the crumb was brilliant and the flavours were spot on. I will making those again soon!





And finally my favourite of all, The pizza dough!
Never before have I stuffed a pizza so quickly down my neck. Good lord it was glorious!
The first picture was from my first attempt. It was slightly rushed as the weather took a turn for the worst whilst trying the recipe, causing my dad to get home later than planned with the ingredients. However the base was beautifully crisp and so flavourful. 

The second picture was my second attempt. I started this dough earlier on in the morning and decided to prove it in the fridge. Apparently this allows the dough to rise slowly which creates more flavour and also gives it a touch of acidity which will help create a crisp outside and a slightly chewy center.
I really don't see myself buying a pizza any time soon, I mean really, why buy when you make your own!?

Anyway, thats enough mouth watering food for today. My fear of bread has been conquered and I am now ready to tackle my next challenge...The sour dough starter! 

Wish me luck!










December in London...Scratch that...Food in London...

...Back in December I made a trip to London to get myself in the festive spirit. Usually when I plan a weekend away I book something to do, like a show or a concert...This time it was just a hotel and a train ticket...
It was quite exciting to arrive and just hurl myself on to the tube and get off where I liked.

My main aim for the weekend was to eat a lot and finish off my christmas shopping.

Lets focus on the food.




A trip to London for me is not complete without a MASSIVE burger, and for me it has to be Shake Shack.








The queue as always was massive, but lucky for me there was someone selling mulled wine near buy so I quickly grabbed one and kept myself warm whilst I looked over the menu.
My order rarely changes as my usual is just SO good. You join the queue and wait to be served, they then give you a buzzer that allows you to wander covent garden until your food is ready. Don't worry though you don't usually have to wait to long.



I went for the Double Smokeshack, Cheese fries and a malted peanut butter milkshake.

This particular photo truly doesn't do the photo justice, it was beautifully cooked. The molten cheese smooches the smoked bacon and I have lost my train of thought... Umm...Burger....
The cheese fries are awesome, I just with that there was more of them.
I have no words for the Milk shake..its peanut butter...PEANUT BUTTER!


Next stop on my foodie adventure was based on a recommendation from Ching He Huang. I sent her a tweet asking what restaurant I should visit in china town for an authentic meal. She graciously replied and told me to try Joy King Lau.



The restaurant is a 5 minute walk from Leicester square tube station and was quite easy to find.
I arrived later in the evening as I was pretty tired after a long day of wandering so popped to the hotel for a quick power nap.



Instantly I knew I was in for a treat, the queue outside was massive and it appeared that the downstairs room of the restaurant was packed out.
I joined the queue and probably waited 15 minutes to be seated which in my eyes was fantastic as they really were busy.
I was taken to the second floor of the restaurant and seated opposite 4 large circular tables that all had large families on.
My mouth started watering straight away. It was a little like the tables in Hogwarts, food covered every inch of the surface and the smell was amazing. One family opposite appeared to have a MASSIVE bowl of noodles to share which contained all sorts of goodies, including crab claws and king prawns.



I decided to go for something with a kick to start with. I went for Hot and Sour soup. It certainly was hot, I remember ordering a beer and thinking "I could really do with a warming cup of tea" and then downing the bottle of beer because I was sweating from the soup. A mix of vegetables, chicken, prawns and tofu swam in a broth so deliciously hot. I recommend you to try it if you go, just bare in mind it is hot!



Next on the menu was Chicken and Cashew nuts with a side of egg fried rice. Simple and so good! The chicken was tender and juicy, the cashews had a soft exterior with a bit of a bite and it was scrummy.
I had 2 courses and 2 bottles of beer and it came to under £20 which I was very impressed with. The staff were lovely and the atmosphere was great. It's lovely to see families enjoying food together.

My one recommendation for this restaurant would be this... If you are planning on visiting, go as a group! Although I felt very welcome and enjoyed every minute of it, the set menu's look and smell amazing. I was a bit jealous of everyone around me.

Give it a go next time you are in London! you won't regret it!

Happy New Year...


...Happy new year everyone!
I hope you have all had a brilliant Christmas and are enjoying 2014 so far...

2013 was a year of change for me. It started off pretty average, but starting this blog was one of the best things I have ever done. When I started out I remember thinking "I'll never keep this going, I can't even keep a diary!". But here I am 10 months later and i'm still posting, even if isn't as often as originally intended.

The blog has opened so many doors for me, i've met some amazing people...From John Whaite to Larkin Cen and not forgetting the fellow bloggers! It's made me push myself in the kitchen, I've tried foods that I wouldn't have dared eat before. I've consumed some damn good burgers and chicken wings.. I've baked my ass off and most of all I have loved every single second of it.

I have a few new years resolutions for 2014, some I am going to stick to, some will last a month or so..some may not even begin. But I will share it all with you.

The first is to eat healthier food that isn't as boring as sin! Every year I promise myself that I will try and lose weight and every year I get to the end of the first week and then stuff my face with every burger in sight. Blogging has shown me that there are some seriously tasty meals out there that are good for you and don't taste like the underside of muddy boot.

The second is to join the gym, as of the 5th of January this is still yet to happen but its having the time at the moment. I will do this though as I need to swim! 

The third is to give less F•cks... I get myself in to quite a state sometimes with the smallest of things. But this year I'm taking the attitude that people do what they want, it's not my problem.

The fourth is to update the blog more regularly and give it a make over.

And finally the fifth is to continue saving and do new things! 

All together I think I can stick to most of these...With a little help from you guys!




You may have noticed I've been a little quiet on here recently, Christmas is the busiest time of year for me at work. That and all the time spent in the kitchen at home creating Christmas bakes has really stopped me from having a moment spare to post. So I thought I would do a little round up of my lead up to Christmas now.




Christmas for me started with a solo visit to London. I decided to go with no plans and just explore, get some shopping done and enjoy myself. It solve involved some eating (standard) but I'll save that for a separate post.















London truly is beautiful at Christmas, the lights really give the festive feeling and a smile as wide possible.




The next part of Christmas is obviously the food...The glorious food!
This is the first year that I have actively wanted to take part in creating the food for the big day. I started with a Mincemeat Streusel, making everything from scratch. I've got incredibly warm hands so can struggle with pastry but this was BEAUTIFUL. Buttery pastry that makes the mouth water. This is probably the best bake I have ever done and it makes me sad that its a Christmas bake...I need it all year round!




The next bake was Raspberri Cupcakes Christmas tree meringues. I've never had much luck with meringue but was determined to push myself and they turned out beautifully. A gloriously goey center meets the tongue as your teeth break through the outer wall.














I even went as far as cooking a turkey! My first ever bird went down a storm, I stuffed it with a whole lemon and basted it with lashings of butter, white wine and water. It was beautifully moist and made some great left over dishes including a turkey and ham pie, Turkey curry and tons of soup!






I also attempted my first flap jack! Nigel Slater supplied the recipe and I have to say, they were bloody lush! Buttery goodness followed by sour cherries dancing on the tongue.
I also made some edible Christmas tree decorations for my colleagues at work.

Anyway enough about food, I'm sure you all have similar resolutions to me so I best stop talking...


My family were incredibly generous this Christmas, they have obviously noticed I like to bake, everything was baking related!

But I'd like to say one special thank you on here, and that thank you goes to Rosie over at The Londoner.



I received this little beauty after entering one of her give aways. Its possibly one of the nicest things I have ever received. If I knew you in person not only would you be receiving a massive bunch of flowers but you would receive the biggest hug ever. Its a lovely watch and I am going to wear it proudly.(but not to work, don't want it getting scratched to buggery!)



I hope you all have a fantastic year! Heres to 2014 and all it brings our ways!

Happy New Year!


Alex aka The Broke Boy
x
















Stir up Sunday...

...for years my family has had a lovingly prepared christmas pudding. it started with my grandma who had one of Delia Smiths first books. the spine hangs from the book and the pages look like a treasure map for a deserted island. notes in pencil cover every bit of free space from where my grandma had tweaked things to suit her style of cooking.

we all used to be invited round to stir the pudding and make a wish on it. i have very fond memories of this and i really do miss the excitement.

when my Grandma passed away my Auntie took over the role as head christmas pudding maker. the book is still in use and creates an amazing pudding that i look forward to each year.

this year i've decided to have a bash at making a pudding myself but i've decided to stay away from the family recipe and make something slightly different.

John Whaite posted a recipe for his exotic christmas pudding and i thought i would give it a bash...

i struggled to find the toffee vodka (there is a brand called "Thunder" but my local shops don't sell it) so i substituted it for amaretto.

you will need: 

Billington's Dark Muscovado Natural Unrefined Cane Sugar 110g
Billington's Light Muscovado Natural Unrefined Cane Sugar 100g
Billington's Natural Glacé Cherries 200g
dried apple 150g, roughly chopped
plump raisins 150g 
dried apricots 150g, roughly chopped
dried mango pieces 100g
cherry cola 300ml
1 orange juice and zest
1 lemon zest
Amaretto 4tbsp 
orange blossom water 1tsp 
rose water 1tsp 
vegetable suet 200g 
breadcrumbs 200g 
plain flour 100g 
toasted pecan nuts 150g 
ground clove 1tsp 
ground ginger 1tsp 
ground cinnamon 1tsp 
ground nutmeg ¼tsp 
4 eggs beaten 
milk 6tbsp 
black treacle 1tbsp






place all of the dried fruits into a saucepan and pour the cherry cola and orange juice over them. 


cook over a medium heat and allow the cola to boil. stir and continue to heat until the liquid has mostly soaked into the fruit.





remove from heat and stir in the zests and amaretto, along with the dark and light muscovado sugar. leave to macerate for 1 hour.






transfer to a large bowl and mix in remaining ingredients. this is the point where "Stir up Sunday" really comes into play. get your family to help you with this part as it does take fair amount of mixing.



scoop the mixture into the prepared pudding mould (you will need a 1.5-litre pudding basin, greased and lined with a circle of baking paper) and cover with a greased double sheet of baking paper. Tie cooking string tightly around the baking paper and under the lip on the pudding basin to seal then cover well with foil.
i found that i had quite a lot of mixture left over so it might be worth arming yourself with a smaller pudding mould to create a second pudding.

place into a steamer filled with a good few inches of simmering water and close the lid to steam. keep it over a low heat and check the water level every 45 minutes to make sure the pan doesn't boil dry.
if you don't have a steamer, put the pudding on a mug in a deep saucepan with a good few inches of simmering water, close the lid, and keep simmering as above, checking the water level. steam for 4½ to 5 hours. at this point remove from the steamer and allow it to cool completely.

remove the pudding from the basin and inspect the creation of all your hard work! i'm very impressed with mine and it was touch and go as to if it would actually last until christmas day, as dad wanted to scoff it.
wrap your pudding in a double layer of cling film and a double layer of tin foil and store in a cupboard until the big day. 

to reheat on Christmas day steam for 2 hours as you did first time round.

A cake for the minions...




its a bit of a tradition at work that we bake for each others birthday...well....the wednesday night lot anyway!

Frans birthday was last sunday so i promised her a cake! i gave her the option of either a chocolate cake with a chocolate brownie layer OR a banana cake with salted caramel icing. much like a minion she went for the banana.

this recipe is from Raspberri Cupcakes, an Australian blog that i have been following for quite some time now.

you will need:

for the cake: 
250g unsalted butter
500g caster sugar
4 eggs
4 banana's
1tsp of vanilla extract
500g plain flour
2 tsp bicarb
1 tsp salt
1 and a half tsp cinnamon
250ml buttermilk

for the frosting:
225g caster sugar
4 tbsp water
250ml double cream
500g butter
1-2 tsp salt
500g icing sugar

for the decoration:
1-2 banana's
small amount of granulated sugar





preheat the oven to 180°C.

start by creaming the sugar and butter together in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.






next add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until well incorporated.






mash the banana's in a bowl and then add them to the rest of the mixture along with the vanilla extract. beat once again until fully incorporated.


next measure out the flour, add the bicarb, salt and cinnamon and sieve half into the bowl. add half of the butter milk and beat until well mixed. scrape down the sides of the bowl and then repeat the process until all of the buttermilk and dry ingredients are incorporated.




the batter itself is quite thick compared to my normal cakes, but do not fear! divide between two 18cm cake tins, you will find that there is a lot of mixture in each tin but the cakes will be thick enough to cut in half and create 4 layers of heaven.
bake for 50-60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean and they are golden.




you will notice that the cakes dome quite a bit! no need to worry though as once they have cooled all you need to do is trim them off then slice each cake into 2 halves...oh...and eat the dome of course..to test the bake...greedy piggies...


whilst the cake is cooling get cracking on the caramel for the frosting. in a medium sauce pan add the sugar and water and stir BEFORE putting on the heat, once you apply the heat you don't want to stir at all! 



place the pan on a medium heat and allow the sugar and water to bubble away until they become a nice amber colour.
once this happens remove from the heat and carefully and slowly add the cream. it will bubble violently but this is normal. just make sure you continue to mix with a WOODEN spoon, don't use a whisk like i did...i ended up with a lump of solid sugar on the end of it and had to start again... oops!


once everything is nicely incorporated set the caramel aside and allow it to cool down to room temperature.


once the caramel is cool you can get on with the messy business of mixing the butter and icing sugar. as you can see i'm not the tidiest of bakers...


once creamed together add the caramel and beat again until its smooth and has a caramel tone to it. add the salt a little at a time, tasting as you go. you don't want to chuck it all in at once as you could ruin it.

slice the cakes and begin the layering process. there is a lot of frosting so make sure to put a nice thick spread in between the layers.

for the decorations, slice the banana and place onto a baking tray. sprinkle over the sugar and take a blow torch to them (if like me, you may want to scream "BE DO BE DO" as you do this).


i really enjoyed making this cake, it was nice to try something different and i was really happy with the result. although i think i need to practice my frosting skills a little bit...

place in the fridge to allow the icing to harden up slightly and remove 30-40 minutes before serving.

Life....

...sometimes i really wish i was more decisive!
i set myself targets or aims in life and always end up getting close to them and then changing my mind or chickening out!

an example of this would be my australian dream. i so want to go but every time i think about it i find something else to occupy my time with.

recently (with the help of this blog) some pretty amazing things have been happening in life which have confused me even further.









over the last few months i have been busy in the kitchen cooking and baking, sharing with you all via the blog and twitter. i've had some amazing comments from readers and chefs alike, including GBBO, Ching-he Huang, John Whaite and Nigel Slater.

my boss took me to a conference at work and encouraged me to follow my passion in cooking and told me to contact someone within the company to see if there was any work i could do around food. amazingly with one small email i was offered some work experience with the product development team. i just need to organise a time to go, and find myself somewhere to stay in London whilst working in the city.

after watching this years bake off i am even more determined to apply for GBBO 2014. so i've made a decision!

when the applications open i am going to take the leap and apply. if i'm lucky enough to get through then i will do my best and get as far as i can.

should i not get through i'm going to return to college and spend some of my savings doing a course in either patisserie, professional chefing...is that a word? or something along those lines.

and then finally i'll go to australia before i turn 30 and use my new skills to work my way around the country. they are crying out for chefs apparently!

so i've got my revised plan..i just need to stick to it!





Total Saving
£1,500



As promised... Egg Custard Tarts...



...what a couple of weeks its been! i seriously don't feel like i have had a single day off. work has been taking up a lot of time recently what with traveling the region to train new starters and organising a charity event (which was a HUGE success!).

the aim of the event was to get all of my colleagues to attend so that we could give them an update on whats going on within the company, raise colleague moral and also raise some money for charity. we were hoping to have at least 40 colleagues turn up to the night and we were over whelmed when 90 people turned up.

the evening was brilliant, we cooked a host of foods for the masses, i did a sampling session with some of the new lines we are going to be selling AND we raised almost £400 for Hope4Kids.

had my oven of been working we may have raised even more but sadly it decided to break 3 days before hand so i was unable to bake a single thing...ITS BEEN 3 WEEKS SINCE MY LAST BAKE!!

starting to have withdrawal symptoms now but never fear, the engineer is coming tomorrow to repair it and then i have the weekend off to bake to my hearts content.

a few weeks ago (when the oven was working) i watched the episode of bake off where they were asked to create egg custard tarts. until this point i had never actually had one, so decided to check out the recipe and give them a bash the following morning.

lucky for me i had everything i needed in the cupboard so didn't need to go shopping.

you will need:

for the sweet pastry:

165g plain flour
25g ground almonds
120g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
55g caster sugar
1 medium egg

for the custard filling:

700ml full fat milk
7 medium egg yolks at room temperature
90g caster sugar
freshly grated nutmeg







firstly you need to make the pastry. start by mixing the flour and almonds together in a large bowl.







add the butter and rub together until it resembled fine bread crumbs.



stir in the caster sugar. now i decided to try something here, rather than using normal caster sugar i decided to go for a golden caster. i wanted the pastry to go really golden and have a slight caramel taste to it.




then break the egg into the bowl. work the egg in with your fingers and bring it all together until it becomes a soft dough.





tip the mixture onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a ball...





...then flatten the ball with your fingers so it forms a disc. wrap with cling film and stick it in the fridge for 30 minutes. 
have a tidy up, make a coffee and prepare the cutter you are going to use.



after 30 minutes remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out on a floured worktop. the recipe i used calls for the pastry to be rolled to 5mm thickness, however when i made my first batch i found that going that thin made it very tricky to handle so i went slightly thicker and made 10 cases rather than 12.

once rolled use an 11cm fluted round cutter and stamp out discs, carefully ease them into a muffin tin. as you can tell from the picture above i didn't have any fluted cutters so i went for a cutter than looks like it fell out of the 1980s, but it worked a treat!

place the muffin tin into the fridge to allow the pastry to cool back down. preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6.





to make the custard gently heat the milk in a pan until just below the boiling point...









whilst the milk is warming, whisk together the eggs and caster sugar until it becomes pale and creamy. such a lovely colour!
again for the custard i used golden caster sugar to add a little colour.




pour the warm milk onto the egg mixture whilst whisking, you want to do this slowly in a steady stream. whisk until the mixture is smooth with tiny little bubbles.

pour this mixture into a pouring jug, it makes the process of adding to the pastry a whole lot easier!

i found that this recipe makes ALOT of custard and i was left with half of what was made. i used the left overs to make bread pudding but you could probably double the pastry and make 2 batches in one.





remove the muffin tin from the fridge and place on the oven shelf, then pour the custard mixture into each case, going as high as you can without it going over the edges of the pastry.
grate the nutmeg over the top of each tart and then close the oven door and bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4 and continue to bake for another 10 minutes.










the next task is to be patient! one of the biggest mistakes made on the bake off was attempting to remove the tarts from the tray before they had cooled. leave them alone on a wire rack for AT LEAST 30 minutes before even attempting to remove them.

when i posted the picture above on twitter in the morning GBBO actually retweeted me and said "Will they survive the scooping?"...



...i'm happy to say they did! and they were beautiful. the custard was perfectly done, with a slight wobble. the pastry although dark (because of the sugar used) was perfectly baked and had a caramel butter taste.

needless to say they didn't last long!




Lurpak actually shared my tarts on their Facebook page whilst they were running their pastry competition, i really thank them for that! a real confidence boost.

Challenge accepted: Petits Fours...

continuing the bake off theme, my next challenge was to create some petits fours.
i've made my fair share of madeleines before so this left like quite an easy one to do and i event managed to kill 2 birds with one stone! not only did this cover the bake of the week but it was also John Whaite's book club bake, so i entered it into a competition.




i was concentrating so hard on getting everything right with these that i completely forgot to take pictures of me making them, perhaps i shall revisit this at a later date.
the book club competition asked for you to create a bunch of John's rose madeleines. 




the recipe calls for them to be dipped in pink fondant and then drizzled with white chocolate. Personally i have to be in the right mood for white chocolate and this was not one of those times so i went for dark chocolate instead. i quite like the bold lines! has a bit more of an impact.







 i took lots of photos and entered them into the competition. sadly i didn't win the prize but i did win something...




...i won the prize of being able to eat them! SCORE!


Bread...a baffling thing...

...the next bake on my list was bread! now rather than following the technical challenge of the GBBO i felt i needed to do something much simpler.

i have never tried to make bread before but have always wanted to give it ago.

my first attempt was a successful failure. the bread itself was baked perfectly and the flavour was amazing BUT the ruddy thing stuck to the paper... i blame Paul Hollywood as it was one of his recipes and he didn't tell me to grease the paper...rude!

so this time i decided to stick to the baker that i knew would give full instructions *cough*

i went for John Whaite's "perfection in a plain loaf" recipe.

for this you will need:

500g strong white flour
10g salt
20g sugar
10g fast action yeast
100ml milk
240ml tepid water
40g unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil




start by mixing the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl.




next add the yeast and mix it through...

as this was my second attempt at bread i decided to use my mixer with a dough attachment. (follow your mixers instructions if also planning on using the dough hook as it does say a maximum speed)




stir together the milk, water and butter in a jug and then turn on the mixer to the required speed. slowly add the liquid and allow the mixer to knead the dough for 6 minutes.





place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover the bowl with cling film, place to one side to rise for one hour or until doubled in size. (or if you are lucky like me, shove it in the oven with the prove function on..who knew it had that! not me!)




as you can see, after an hour it is a beast! tip it out and knock the dough back (this delates it so don't worry if it looses some of its beastliness!)





roll the dough into a sausage shape the size of the loaf tin you own. i only had 2 small tins so split the dough in half at this point...i made a bit of a mess also...

cover the tin(s) with cling film and set aside until doubled in size once again. 

Preheat the oven to 200ºc/Gas 6. once the dough is risen pop in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the bread makes a hollow sound when tipped out and tapped on the bottom.








and there you have it, a lovely white loaf!

what ever you do, do not ask me any questions about bread...as i really have no idea! its baffling!