Sunday, 6 September 2015

Perfect Victoria Sponge

This Victoria Sponge is probably the most foolproof cake to make, either if you're just starting out baking or just want to eat something freshly baked, with very little effort! I fill mine with strawberry jam and buttercream, but you can substitute the strawberry jam for other flavours, and use cream or any combination you like.

For the cake:
3 Eggs
Unsalted Butter (softened)
Caster sugar (although it doesn't go badly with granulated sugar if that's all you've got)
Self-raising Flour

You should use the same weight for all the ingredients. Because all eggs are different sizes, I find the best way to work out the quantities is to weigh the eggs. and then use the weight of the eggs to determine how much of everything else to use.

For the buttercream:
200g Icing Sugar
100g Unsalted Butter (softened)
Strawberry Jam

1) Preheat your oven to gas mark 5, 190c, 170 fan.

2) Grease two 20cm round tins and line the bottom with non-stick greaseproof paper.

3) Put the butter, sugar, eggs and flour in a mixing bowl and whisk with a hand mixer for a couple of minutes until everything is combined and there are no lumps of butter left in the mixture.

4) Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and smooth with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until a cocktail stick/skewer comes out clean or the top springs back when lightly pressed.

5) Turn out on a wire rack and leave to cool. To make the buttercream, put the butter and icing sugar in a bowl and mix with a fork or hand mixer until smooth and no lumps are left. Spread jam over the bottom of one cake and buttercream over the bottom of the other, then sandwich the two sponges together. Dust with a little icing sugar.

Happy baking!!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Pinwheel Peanut Butter and Jam Biscuits

The other day I had a go at making the Peanut Butter and Jam Pinwheel Biscuits from the third Hummingbird Bakery book, Home Sweet Home. Pinwheel Biscuits are a little bit more effort than normal biscuits or cookies but 100% worth it! My version is a little different to the original recipe but tastes just as good!

Ingredients (makes about 18):
340g Plain Flour
180g Caster Sugar
100g Peanut Butter (I used crunchy, but use smooth if you prefer!)
3 large tablespoons Raspberry Jam
1 egg
2tbsp Milk
100g Unsalted Butter, make sure it's softened a bit
1/4tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1tbsp Cornflour

1.    Prepare two pieces of baking parchment measuring about 35 x 25 cm and set them to one side. (I didn’t actually bother with this step and it worked just as well, it depends whether you want to risk all the mixture sticking to your surface later!)

2.    Mix together the jam and the cornflour then set aside.

3.    Use an electric mixer to mix together the butter, peanut butter and the sugar until you have a fluffy texture. This should take a couple of minutes.

4.    Add the milk and egg to the butter mixture and mix until everything is combined.

5.    Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda and the salt then mix until well incorporated. Stop when it looks like a dough is forming and mix with a wooden spoon/spatula until it forms a ball.

6.    Place the dough on top of one of the pieces of parchment paper and flatten out the dough using your hands. Put the second piece of parchment paper on top of the dough and using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough gently to the edges of the paper.

7.    Remove the top piece of paper and spread the jam evenly all over the dough, leaving a gap of about 1 inch around the edge. (If it doesn’t look like enough jam then add more, I definitely should have!)

8.    Roll up the dough carefully, similar to how you would with a swiss roll. You can use the parchment to help it roll. Then wrap your dough in clingfilm and place it in the fridge to firm up. The recipe states to leave it for a few hours or overnight, but no way was I waiting until tomorrow to eat these! Mine managed about 30 minutes in the freezer…..

9.    Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 4, 180c, 160 fan, and line 3 baking trays with baking paper, also grease them a little bit. Slice the dough into ¾ inch slices and place them onto your baking trays. About 6 biscuits per tray works quite well.
10. Bake for 11-14 minutes or until the edges just start to brown. Trust that the biscuits will firm up as they cool even if they feel soft. Leave them to cool for a bit on the baking tray before putting them on a wire rack to cool completely.

I found these biscuits had the perfect amount of peanut butter compared to some conventional peanut butter cookies. I'm already looking forward to baking them again!