Thursday 29 November 2012

Alphabakes roundup - November 2012 - J

For the first time we seem to have some of you stumped… or maybe you were busy in the run-up to Christmas, I know I certainly have been!. We didn’t have quite as many Alphabakes entries this month after we randomly chose the letter J, and it was admittedly a bit of a difficult one. But we still had some great entries, some imaginative and some old favourites, and it’s a pleasure to be able to share the roundup of November’s entries with you.

Our first entry this month came from my co-host Ros’s mum. She made a raspberry jam tart, with homemade raspberry jam baked in a ground almond dough. I don’ t know how she got the interesting pattern on the top, but I really like it.

Funnily enough our next entry came from my mum! (We do have other people who enter, not just our mums, honest….) Jacqueline made a jam and coconut sponge – not a flavor combination I would have thought of, but I’m sure it tasted nice!

As soon as J came up I knew what I wanted to make – two different things that I loved as a child (and still do!). First of all I tried my hand at making jaffa cakes – I was really pleased with the sponge part, but the heat of the melted chocolate did start to melt the orange jelly. Even so they tasted just right!

These brilliant jam doughnut muffins are somewhere in between a doughnut and a muffin, which is a great idea by Ruchira from The Great Cookaroo. Look at the way the jam oozes out!

My sister Clare came up with something I hadn’t thought of as well – a Jamaican ginger cake. In fact it was so good she made it twice! Save me some next time, sis!

Mich from Piece of Cake treated us to these cute and quirky Japanese steamed cake in egg shells. I don’t think I’ve come across steamed cake before and I might have to bookmark these for Easter!

Who can forget Jammy Dodgers…. These Jammy Rings from Eira of Cook Books Galore also take me back to my childhood. She says she had great fun making these, which I’m pleased to hear!

My Alphabakes co-host Ros, aka The More Than Occasional Baker, put her thinking cap on (after I got in with the jaffa cakes first!) and made these Jasmine green tea cupcakes. The flowers she piped on top are so pretty! These would be lovely for a birthday party.

We had two entries from Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog – first this apricot and vanilla jam, which was the result of trying to use up leftover fruit before she went on holiday:

And then this fig, apple and pomegranate jam, which sounds very festive and would make a brilliant homemade Christmas gift.
Taking us back to the world of cake is another entry from Mich at Piece of Cake. This chocolate raspberry linzer tart uses jam, and looks absolutely delicious!

And now for something spicy – these jalapeno cheese puffs from Laura at Credit Munched. She says the letter J didn’t phase her at all and knew immediately what she wanted to make. Laura says she ate them with sour cream and salsa – I might have to try it!

Here’s a great one for the letter J that I wouldn’t have thought of – Java Spice Cupcakes with roasted coffee buttercream. Well done to Claire from Under the Blue Gum Tree for coming up with this – and they look so pretty too! She says these are definitely cupcakes for adults, and I think they would round off any sophisticated dinner party nicely.

Welcome to Laura Lemon Pie, an Alphabakes newbie, who has sent us this absolutely wicked chocolate orange jaffa fudge. Whenever I’ve tried to make fudge it hasn’t set at all and I’ve had to eat it as a sauce, so I’m impressed Laura’s looks this good – and I bet it tastes even better!

Another jalapeno recipe this time from Olivia at LivA Little Bakery, who points out – probably quite rightly – that there aren’t that many ingredients beginning with the letter J! She says this cheesy bread “has a fiery kick and will leave you craving a second slice”.
My mum Jacqueline sent in a second entry – these jaffa cakes. She said they were surprisingly easy to make, and tasted great!

Suelle from Mainly Baking says that for her, J is for jam – in this case, Delia Smith’s oat slice with cherry jam. She recommends this for when you’re short of time as it’s quick and easy to make, and it looks like a great way to use up jam too.

Jean from Papers and Cakes also used jam, in this case in a jam crumb cake. I love hot crumble at this time of year and combining it with cake is a great idea.

Have any of you heard of Jap Cakes? I used to get them from the local bakery as a child, and loved the cakey meringue middle with nuts around the outside.. but it seems most people have never come across them before! I scoured the internet to find a recipe so I could recreate them. They turned out pretty well but the next time I’m back in my home town I will have to see if the bakery still has them!

Melanie from Sharky Oven Gloves says she has a minor PB&J obsession – that’s peanut butter and jelly, and jelly is meant in the American sense, i.e. what we call jam. She has been hanging on to this recipe for PB&J Slices for a while – they have a shortbread base with crumbled shortbread over the top, and of course a layer of peanut butter and jelly. 

Katharine of Leeks and Limoni made us some jammy dodgers, also rather more elegantly named biscotti alla marmellata. They look very festive and would make great Christmas gifts in my opinion.

These jazzy cupcakes come from Ruth at Mixing Bowl Magic. They’re based on the retro sweets –discs of white chocolate covered in sprinkles – and Ruth has decorated chocolate cupcakes in the same style. Simple but effective!

Next up we have a savoury entry, using Jarlsberg cheese, which is something I love. Fiona at Sweet Thing You Make My Heart Sing incorporated it into bread for this Jarlsberg twist bread, and says it tasted delicious. Fiona says: “the texture is lovely and soft with a good crust and a melty centre from the cheese. Not to mention it looks pretty!” – Fiona, you’ve sold me already!

Lucas of Cover Versions TV says he was convinced Alphabakes would never get to J, so submitted this recipe when we had T for ‘turnover’… and now has made them again for J! The video for his spiced rhubarb jalousies is fab and the final bake looks pretty great too.

We’ve got two entries this month from Sally of PiggyBakes – don’t forget you can send us as many Alphabakes entries as you like!
 First of all her jam roly poly, which Sally says was easier to make than she thought, and tasted great served with custard. Just the thing for a winter’s evening!

Sally also sent us a black cherry andvanilla jam sandwich cake – a subtle twist on a classic Victoria sandwich. She says the jam is warm and rich, and perfect with this light and moist cake.

We end on an unusual note, or at least a bake I’ve not come across before – Jumbles! Karen of Lavender and Lovage has made these fabulous chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies, which she says she made as a child with her grandmother and mum. They’re quick to make and only use one pan, which saves on the washing up!

A last minute entry and a genius idea - I was sort of hoping someone would come up with a recipe using Jelly Babies, and Elizabeth of Elizabeth's Kitchen has made this Gumdrop Cake, using jelly midget gems, as a substitute for the American sweet Jujubes. I bet children would love making, and eating, this!

 And finally one that was missed out of the original roundup (please remember to email your entries!) - Dom from Belleau Kitchen made this delicious baby leek, mushroom and tomato jam quiche. And of course there are no soggy bottoms!

So there you have it – thanks to everyone who entered! You don’t have to wait long to find out the letter for December – check out on Saturday 1st. And because it’s Christmas, we’ve got a special treat for you – another prize for one lucky Alphabaker!

Monday 26 November 2012

Meal Planning - Week 19

Breakfast Cereal
Lunch My parents were here at the weekend so there are lots of leftovers - for lunch I had two mini cheese and onion tarts, some sweet potato chips and some lettuce, followed by a slice of cake (well, there was a lot left over!)
Dinner At a piping skills class this evening in Tooting (which I will post about later) so am taking a tuna sandwich with me to eat either there or afterwards.

Breakfast Cereal
Lunch I'm spending the day at the youth club where I volunteer (my employer gives us one paid off volunteering day per year, i.e. I don't have to take it as holiday, which is great) so I'll need to take a packed lunch with me, and will probably make a tuna sandwich.
Dinner Will invite my boyfriend to dinner and make something simple - chicken breasts in a Chicken Tonight sauce with mashed potato.

Breakfast There are also two leftover chocolate croissants from this weekend which I will share with my boyfriend for breakfast today

Lunch TBA - pasta with cubed ham (another leftover) if I remember to make any on Tuesday night, or couscous with chopped ham

Dinner Leftover gammon steak which I will have with mashed potatoes if there is any left from yesterday and vegetables.

Breakfast Cereal
Lunch Miso soup with beansprouts; will also need some protein with it so I will see if I have any chicken in the freezer

Dinner Cod in breadcrumbs from the freezer

Breakfast Cereal

Lunch Miso soup with beansprouts; will also need some protein with it so I will see if I have any chicken in the freezer

Dinner Out with my boyfriend at the Natural History Museum Lates.

Breakfast Cereal

Lunch Possibly spaghetti al tonno

Dinner Will invite my boyfriend over - we both love pizza and I've been dying to try to make this:
Unhealthy I know, but I saw this post over a year ago and have been wanting to make it ever since! I think it could be fun to get my boyfriend to help make it with me while we watch a DVD and have a cosy evening at home :-)

Brunch With my boyfriend. There will probably be leftover pizza.....
Dinner I will need something healthy after that! I'm going to make sea bass with sloe gin shallots from a recipe I copied out from a magazine years ago.

Sunday 25 November 2012

Chocolate Croissants or Pain au Chocolat

I have a breadmaker, which I don't use often enough - it never seems a good idea when I'm trying to follow a Slimming World diet and because I live on my own (with my cat... which makes me sound like an old spinster!) I feel like I'd never get through a whole loaf of bread before it goes mouldy. So the breadmaker stays gathering dust in the corner of my kitchen....
.... until this weekend, that is! My parents were staying and, inspired by a few different blogging challenges, I decided to make some pain au chocolat for breakfast.
I followed the instructions in the booklet that came with my breadmaker, which were pretty straightforward. Place the following in the breadmaker:
1/2 tsp yeast
300g strong white flour
1 tsp sugar
25g butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
150ml water
And put on to the appropriate setting - in this case "basic- dough- 2h 20". And press start! (Yes I know it's a bit of a cheat....)


This makes you a lovely ball of dough. Unfortunately that's not the end of it and there's still a lot to do!

Roll out your dough

Dot the top third with butter

Fold the bottom third up to the middle and the top third down to the middle like so. Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 mins.

Roll out again and repeat the process with the butter and folding and chilling.

Divide the dough into four

Cut each square into triangles. They are quite small at this stage. You're supposed to now roll out each triangle to make it bigger, but I found that very difficult to do while retaining the triangular shape, so ended up just stretching them out a little with my fingers.

It's amazingly easy to make these look like proper croissants - at least it is easy in principle! My dough was quite soft so it doesn't look very neat. All you do is roll up the triangle starting from the wide edge, finishing at the point, then bend it into a curved shape.

I wanted to make some of my croissants into pain au chocolat, and used these Cadbury's Chocolate Chunks

I placed a chocolate chunk onto a piece of pastry before I rolled it up
Here they are, ready to prove then go in the oven. The only downside is that this whole process takes so long- 2 hours 20 to make the dough, an hour of chilling plus time to roll it out - then 20 minutes to prove and 15 minutes to cook, that there was no way I was going to do this first thing in the morning before breakfast! So I made the croissants right up to this point then left them in the fridge overnight. Luckily it didn't seem to do them any harm!
 Now (or the next morning)allow to prove in the oven at 40C for 20 minutes, until they have doubled in size.
Brush with beaten egg or milk. Cook at 220C for 15 minutes until browned. I can't believe this look like proper croissants, I assumed they were really hard to make but they are not at all*!
* Provided you use a breadmaker
Here you can see the chocolate in the middle. These were delicious!

The theme for this month's We Should Cocoa challenge is breads or yeasted sweet dough bakes that incorporate chocolate, so these fit perfectly. The challenge this month is hosted by Franglais Kitchen and originally comes from Chele at Chocolate Teapot and Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog.
Calendar Cakes, hosted by Laura of Laura Loves Cakes and Rachel of Dolly Bakes, came up with a bit of a different theme for their challenge this month, of bread, rolls and buns, so I am also sending them these chocolate croissants.
Finally here's a challenge I've not taken part in before: Breakfast Club, run by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours, and this month hosted by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog. November's theme is chocolate!