Sunday, 20 July 2014

Rhubarb & Strawberry Fruit Jam (Low Sugar)

Readers, today I've conquered another “first time”.  I made jam. Both my grannies and my mum all appear to have the jam making gene, so I decided to give it a go.  We do have a big old fashioned jam pan at my parents’ house, but today, for speed, I made mine in the biggest heaviest bottomed pot I could find in our kitchen.

Now, if we are splitting hairs, I technically made a high fruit, low sugar spread today.  Slightly more like a compote due to the fruit content, but I've managed to get a good set from it – so more jam like than first anticipated.

I would say that it wasn't too bad for a first attempt – I had a little trouble working out when it was ready.  The recipe said to wait until it sat on a mound on a saucer, but I did get to the point that I could feel it starting to burn on the bottom, so had to get it off and filled fairly quickly.

This is the original recipe which I used.  The only difference I made was sterilising my jars and lids in the oven at 140c for around an hour.

Mr WhatClaireBaked’s dad gave us lots of fresh rhubarb from his garden – this inspired me to give jam making a go for the first time.

Here’s the original recipe and beautiful photography on the Kitchen Gourmet website.


Rhubarb & Strawberry Jam (taken from Kitchen Gourmet)

Ingredients

2lbs fresh rhubarb (home grown is great)
1lb Scottish strawberries
2 cups sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice

Method

  1. Place rhubarb, strawberries, water and sugar in a medium-sized pot set over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the juices are released and begin to cover the fruit. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to separate the fruit from the juices. Set the fruit aside.
    Delicious Scottish fruit
  2. Return the juices to the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow to cook, stirring frequently, until reduced by approximately half (an easy way to check this is to use the handle of a wooden spoon. Dip it into the liquid to “stain” it. Then use that as a measuring guide for how much it’s cooking down). Skim off any foam that rises to the surface, as you go.
  3. Add the fruit back to the pot, along with any accumulated juices. Stir in lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until a spoonful of the mixture mounds on a frozen plate without spreading.
    Ready to jar up
  4. Once set, remove the pan from the heat.  Carefully remove sterilised jars and lids from the oven.  Whilst hot, fill the jam into the jars to around ¼ in from the top and screw the lids on immediately. Leave for 24 hours to cool and a vacuum seal will form.
The first jar off the VERY SHORT production line

Jars can be stored either in the cupboard or fridge once open.  I’d recommend consuming the jar within 28 days.

I'm entering this post into #recipeoftheweek over at A Mummy Too
Link up your recipe of the week

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Readers, it’s been another week of experimenting.  This time, I tried making red velvet cupcakes for the first time.   The sponge was a bit more labour intensive than a standard cupcake but boy was it worth it.

I also learned just how much food colouring you need to use to get a proper red velvet colour (turns out a whole bottle) but do note, it definitely doesn’t affect the taste!

This week I also made a frosting incorporating cream cheese for the first time and it was solid enough to pipe.   The flavour was so delicious, I’m starting to wonder if it’s even better than a traditional buttercream…

Took these into the office for my colleagues to enjoy and they disappeared very quickly.  Hats off to the Hummingbird Bakery for such a great cake. 

I didn’t develop this recipe myself – it’s taken from a Hummingbird Bakery recipe found here.

I’ve noted the original recipe before for you as well.

Happy Baking!
Claire x

P.S. - I'm also entering this baking project to #recipe of the week over at A Mummy Too.

Link up your recipe of the week

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Taken from Red Online

Ingredients (makes 12 large cupcakes)
Red Velvet Cupcakes

60g unsalted butter softened
150g caster sugar
1 egg
20g cocoa powder
40ml red food colouring
½ tsp vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk
150g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½ tsp white vinegar
1 x 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases

Frosting

300g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold

Method 

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

2. Put the butter and the sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy and well mixed. Turn the mixer up to high speed, slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a very thick, dark paste. Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly pour in half the buttermilk.
Adding the colouring and cocoa paste formula

4. Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour and beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added. Scrape down the side of the bowl again. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes.
Finished cake batter 

5. Meanwhile, make the frosting by beating the icing sugar the remaining 20g of the unsalted butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat it until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least five minutes. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.


6. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Cakes cooling on the rack
When the cupcakes are cold, transfer the frosting to a piping bag and pipe swirls onto each cake. Finish with additional decorations if desired.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days and allow to come to room temperature before serving. 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Product Review: Crushed - Tasty Fruit Pouches

The other week, the lovely people at Crushed began following me on Twitter.  I didn't know that much about Crushed at the time but they agreed to send me some products to review.

I have to say, what a clever idea.  I must confess, I don’t have any juniors in the household, but from what I can see, Crushed products are a great idea for children and adults alike.


The company’s strapline is “providing super fast fruit which can be eaten anywhere”.  In a nutshell: it’s delicious pureed fruit, served in a cute little pouch, which provides one of your five a day.

The happy packaging, cartoons and positive messages on pack would be a dream for a parent looking for a healthy snack and I've no doubt the fun design would be appealing to even the fussiest little eaters!



Not being the fussiest, I soon got stuck into my samples and tried the first one straight from the box.  I went for the Apple & Strawberry pouch first and at first I did find it a little odd.  I suppose I was expecting it to be more of a drink than a thick puree, but once I got my head round it, thought it was a great concept and a good way of eating fruit on the go.  (The packaging is handbag proof – fruit tends not to be).

For my second trial, I followed the instructions and refrigerated the pouch before I ate it. I tried the Apple and Banana pouch second time round and despite not being a fan of bananas actually enjoyed this flavour more.  I definitely think putting the pouch in the fridge made such a difference, so would recommend this. 

My new friends at Crushed have advised me that I can bake with the products – I’ve not yet had a chance but hopefully will in future.

I also tried one of my pouches on top of my porridge in the morning – much better for me than my usual honey and definitely filled with more vitamins!


Although I’m not the target demographic for Crushed, I would buy the products again, to keep in the fridge for when I’m craving biscuits or in need of a quick pick me up.  The products are suitable for vegetarians and don’t contain nuts – great for kids (or adults) with special diets.  

You can find the products at Waitrose in stores and online and also in WHSmith travel retail stores. 

For more info on this great little innovative brand, visit www.crusheduk.com

Disclosure Statement: I received the samples from Crushed for free, to eat and review.  Any opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Chocolate & Raspberry Gooey Brownie Dessert

Readers, life is good.  It’s a sunshine-y evening at Blog HQ and today I went to Tigerlily in Edinburgh for a day out with my Mamma (blog post on that coming soon – we had afternoon tea).

The other weekend my parents came down for Sunday dinner and not wanting to offer them a shop bought dessert, decided to make a brownie come cake come dessert.

My folks thought this was delicious but be warned; it’s seriously gooey and one for the chocoholics. 

I used fresh Scottish raspberries in my dessert which added to the goo factor, so if you prefer something a little more cakey, perhaps swap them for freeze dried.

Nonetheless, the brownies were eaten, warm from the oven with caramel ice cream and I can confirm that bowls were left almost licked clean!

I'm also entering this recipe into Tea Time Treats, held this month at Hedgecombers.
Tea Time Treats


Chocolate and Raspberry Brownie Dessert


Ingredients

250g soft light brown sugar
2 large eggs
175g butter
175g self raising flour
200g milk chocolate
¾ punnet fresh raspberries
50g white chocolate to decorate

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180C/Fan 160C/Gas 4.  Line a silicone square traybake tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Melt the butter, sugar and chocolate in a non stick pan, until sugar has almost melted.  Make sure to keep stirring so the chocolate doesn’t burn.
  3. When mixture is combined and sugar almost melted, remove pan from heat.  Beat in the eggs one at a time until mix becomes smooth and glossy.
  4. Sieve the flour into the pan and stir to combine. Add a handful of raspberries and mix. Once combined, pour mix into the lined tin and smooth out.
  5. Add the remaining raspberries to the traybake and push down slightly, so they are still visible slightly on the top of the mix.
  6. Bake in the oven for around 40-45 mins, or until a crust has formed on the top of the brownie but the sponge is still soft and a little undercooked.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin.  Once cool to touch, melt the white chocolate in a microwavable cup for around 40 seconds.  Drizzle over the top of the brownie and allow to set.


Once set, cut into squares and serve.  These brownies will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days.  (Almost a guarantee they will disappear in less than 48 hours!)

I'm entering this recipe into #recipeoftheweek over at A Mummy Too.
Link up your recipe of the week