So I woke up this morning and I felt the need to bake! I know it may sound a bit strange but I quite often wake up this urge, and it is not an urge to cook but to bake.
Last night myself and the leaders of my Rainbows group decided we would put on a little fun afternoon tea for the girls to celebrate the Royal Wedding, during our meeting on the Thursday before the Big Day! So with this fresh in mind I thought I would get in a bit of practice and whip up a batch of fresh scones and make some strawberry and raspberry jam.
With clotted cream and fresh strawberries this has to be one of my absolute favourite treats. Also rest assured if you want to make these gorgeous scones for the Big Day, the recipe has been handed down for 3 generations, and although I have made a few adjustments, it is fool proof.
450g self raising flour
115g Margarine (I use Stork)
115g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
1 egg (beaten)
1. Sift the flour & salt in a large bowl. Cut the margarine into small pieces & rub into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Stir in the sugar & add enough buttermilk to make a soft but not sticky dough.
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, kneed lightly the roll out to approximately ½ an inch thick and cut out rounds.
4. Place on a baking tray and brush the tops with the gg, careful not to drip down the sides.
5. Bake at 180 C fan for 12-14 minutes, until well risen and golden brown.
If you struggle to find buttermilk, or just don’t have it, you can substitute milk instead, just add a little at a time to get the right consistency.
Also I quite often us a glass instead of searching for the “right” cutter.
My family love jam, and it is something I love to make and gift to friends or family, at Christmas time I like to make my own food hampers to give to friends and family and they include a lot of homemade preserves. My favourite jam to make is blackberry jam because you can pick the fruit for free, its good fun, seasonal and super delicious. My kids get so excited to go blackberry picking, we take a massive bucket and go several times, usually we pick around 10kg of blackberries, a lot is for jam, but Alan and the kids love blackberry crumble a staple in our house in the autumn. Blackberry picking has turned into a major event in our house we often go in a big troop with my two best friends Carolyn and Claire and their children, its fab, it’s a time of year I always look forward to.
Jam may seem quite daunting but it’s actually really easy and pretty quick to make, I always use jam sugar making the results more reliable and most importantly homemade jam is so much tastier than the bought kind, go on give it a go…
Juice of 1 lemon
1kg jam sugar
a knob of butter
1. Put a saucer in the freezer.
2. Add half of each of the berries to the saucepan and add the lemon juice. Using a potato masher, mash the berries to a pulp, cook gently for around 5 minutes. Strain the berries in a sieve over a bowl, make sure to work all of the pulp through the sieve so only seeds remain.
3. Tip the juice and pulp back into the sauce pan and add the sugar, stir to dissolve, then add the remaining fruit and a knob of butter. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes.
4. Get out the chilled saucer from the freezer and drop a bit of jam onto it, wait a couple of seconds and then push your finger through it, you’re looking to see if it wrinkles and starts to look like jam, if it does, keeping boiling the mixture and keep trying the saucer method every 2 minutes. (I find it easier to put a few saucers in the freezer at the start.)
Homemade jam always tastes best, in this recipe I have use a mix or raspberries and straweberries but you could use either or.
Jam is an excellent way of using up a glut of fruit from an allotment or if you manage to find some on sale at the supermarket, even if the fruit is a bit squishy.
The jam will keep unopened for about a year, once open keep in the fridge.
Before making you jam you will need to sterilise your jars, there are lots of ways to do this, my husband Alan, usually does mine for me, by filling them with boiling water from the kettle and then putting the lids in and turning them upside down, but this can be a little treacherous and we're not sure it's the right way.
An easier method, especially if you have lots of jars is to heat your oven to 120 C Fan, wash the jars in warm soapy water, then completely dry the jars in the hot oven.
So low and behold it is another rainy Saturday morning in South Wales, what to do with 4 kids with so much energy…? So I thought we could do some baking, the kids absolutely love it! I thought it would be nice to use some cutters and make sugar cookies, so the kids could decorate them themselves as I’d recently picked up some lovely glittery icing pens from Morrisons.
Whilst I was going through my cutters getting out the usual shapes I came across the new set of alphabet cookie cutter I recently bought…baking and reading…two activities in one.
The kids had a wonderful time, making the dough and cutting out their names, I think Jackson ate more dough than he made biscuits but he definitely had lots of fun and his love of cooking is coming along nicely… starting them young! Once the biscuits were baked and cooled the real fun began when the icing pens and sprinkles came out. It was lovely watching my children using their creativity. Of course once the decorating was finished the kids were very excited to share what they had made with the number one tester in our house, “DADDY”!
The sugar cookie recipe below is one that I have made for many years and I love it because when baked it does not spread, it keeps its shape but also very good for using stamps on as they stay clear on the surface of the cookie.
Shortly I will add a step by step to decorating stamped biscuits with royal icing using this sugar cookie recipe.
100g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour
100g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
1. Pre heat the oven to 180 C.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl, add the egg and mix well, if it starts to look a little curdled add a little of the flour.
3. Gradually add the flour and salt and mix to form a dough.
4. Sprinkle some flour on the surface and roll the dough to thickness of a £1 coin, use desired cutters then place on lined baking sheets.
5. Bake for 8 – 10 mins, the biscuits should be light golden brown, remove from the oven when the biscuits are still a little soft as they will continue to cook after being removed.
6. Leave on the tray for a few minutes to cool, then transfer to a cooling rack.
7. Once cool the biscuits are ready to ice.
These cookies are not just for kids, the recipe is not overly sweet, so with a sophisticated decoration they would make a nice alternative to cupcakes
The biscuits will keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container
Jam doughnuts... we all know that these beauties are not good for us but my goodness don’t they taste delightful. I have wanted to try and make doughnuts for ages, but I never got around to it, but this was the day!
I made a mixture of filled jam doughnuts and sugar ring doughnuts, making the middles cut out into mini jam doughnuts you can eat in one mouthful, who can resist light and fluffy doughnuts!??
The recipe below is for yeasted doughnuts, and I use my bread machine to make the dough for me, it’s much much easier, if you don’t have a bread machine, no need to panic you can make the dough with a dough hook on a stand mixer or even by hand.
I haven’t specified times for proving the dough because so many factors affect a rise, but there is no need to put the dough anywhere warm, a slower prove actually improves the flavour of a dough, but make sure to cover the dough lightly, I use a tea towel, to stop a skin forming.
When baking I only use fresh yeast, but if you can’t get your hand on fresh yeast just divide the weight of the yeast by 3. A good tip for getting fresh yeast is to ask at the bakery in your local Tesco, they always give you quite a big bag and what’s even better it’s FREE!!
450g bread flour
1 tsp salt
10g fresh yeast
Vegetable oil for frying
Caster sugar for coating the doughnuts
Jam for filling (I prefer homemade)
1. When using a bread machine: Place all the wet ingredients for the dough into the bread machine, then sprinkle in all the dry ingredients apart from the yeast. Make an indentation in the top of the ingredients and add the yeast, make sure that the yeast and salt don’t touch. Turn onto the dough function and leave until it beeps at you!
2. If you’re using a stand mixer: Place all of the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl, make a well, and add the yeast. Combine all of the wet ingredients for the dough and pour into the well, mix with a dough hook until a dough is formed, then continue for another 5-6 mins. Remove from the bowl and hand kneed for approximately 3 mins, then cover and leave until doubled in size.
3. By Hand: Place all of the dry ingredients in a bow, make a well in the centre of the ingredients and add the yeast. Mix together the wet ingredients and pour into the well, form into a dough, then kneed for 10-20 mins, until you have a silky soft dough, set to one side, cover and leave to double in size.
4. All methods: once the dough has doubled, place on a floured surface. I divided the mix in half, keep the other half covered. Roll out the dough to about 1/2 an inch thick, then cut with a round cutter, about 3 inches in diameter, then cut out the holes with a smaller cutter about 1 inch. (you could purchase a doughnut cutter, but I don’t mind mine being a little bit off centre!) Save the holes.
5. Place each doughnut and hole onto it’s own square of parchment paper and then onto a tray or similar, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.
6. Divide the remaining dough into quarters and then in half again to make 8 pieces of dough, (you can weigh them but I don’t bother). Roll each piece of dough into ball, place on an individual sheet of parchment, then cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.
7. Heat the deep fat fryer to 180 C (if you don’t have a deep fat fryer you can use a pan of oil, but you will need a thermometer to check the temperature of the oil.)
8. Drop the doughnuts into the oil, 2 large ones at a time, otherwise the oil gets too cool. Turn them once they are golden brown, once coloured on both sides, remove them and place them on a plate lined with kitchen roll, then transfer to a cooling rack.
9. Sprinkle caster sugar on a plate. Once the doughnuts are cool enough to handle, roll them in the sugar and return back to the cooling rack.
10. To fill your doughnuts, use a long nozzle and pipe in the jam, if you’re feeling adventurous you could pipe in lots of other fillings, Nutella, apple sauce or custard. These doughnut are also good for glazing, or splitting open and filling with fresh cream and jam, much like those sold in Greggs!