Thursday, 20 December 2012

Guglehupf (Fruit bread)

A wee dusting of Christmas snow.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I hosted a Christmas dinner/day for my friends. I knew that having a big, heavy, sweet pudding would probably be a waste as there would be lots of food, drinks and treats anyway. I opted instead for a Guglehupf. It's basically a cakey bread that has to be baked in a ring mould/bundt tin. I was flicking through my Food of Germany book, and this recipe was in the Christmas section for the section on Bavaria. It's made with yeast so that's where it gets some of its flavour from. I loaded in more sultanas than the recipe suggested and was going to add saffron - but forgot. Next time! Again, a very easy recipe - I just threw everything in at once and it turned out great! The dough is very wet, so it would be good if you had a dough scraper to aid the kneading process. It's nice and light, so perfect for a snack when you don't fancy a cloyingly sweet treat from the Quality Street tin.


500g plain flour
60g sugar
pinch of salt
7g active dried yeast
250ml lukewarm milk
60g very soft butter, in pieces/lumps
2 eggs
250g sultanas/mixed dried fruit

- sift the flour, sugar and salt in to a warmed bowl. Add the yeast, eggs and the butter and then pour over the warm milk. 
- beat with a wooden spoon until properly incorporated. It will be very sticky.
- cover wit clingfilm and a tea towel and leave in a warm spot to double in size.

- once risen and looking a bit spider-web like and spongy when you give the edge a poke and a lift, tip on to a floured work surface and lightly knead. This will be tricky as it's very wet. It's handy if you have a dough scraper handy.
- gradually work in the dried fruit. 
- grease a bundt tin with some butter. Make the dough in to a sort of thick sausage shape and rest it in the tin. Leave to rise for another 20 minutes whilst the oven heats up.
- heat the oven to gas mark 5/ 200C. Bake for 30-40 minutes, checking after 30. Test with a knife or skewer.
-Turn out and cool on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar and enjoy on it's own or slathered in butter.
it's sort of like German panetone

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Chocolate-dipped, crunchy-chewy domes of Christmas spice.

It's that time of year again! It's nearly Christmas, hooray! For a long time now it's been a tradition of mine to have a 'fake' Christmas day - the works: get up early, presents, a tree, the dinner, lots of films, cheese, mulled wine and falling asleep on the sofa at the appropriate time of 8.30 pm. This year I found my self in Berlin and so though that I would give all my lovely ladies a fake Christmas day. A table filled with nibbles in the day and a roast for eleven at night...
So I had the task of thinking of some lovely baked goods - lebkuchen, of course! Lovely gingery spiced biscuit-cakes that pop up everywhere at Cristmastime in Germany and date back as far as the 1200s. They are sweetened naturally with a lot of honey, so take care they don't catch in the oven. These are very, very easy to make. These taste better the longer you can leave the dough to rest. 4 hours is ok, but if you have the time, make the mixture the day before you want to eat them!
This recipe is adapted from


250g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
90g ground almonds
1 tsp lebkuchen spice mix (cinnamon, coriander, pepper, anis, ginger)
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
200ml honey
80g butter
zest of a lemon and an orange

100g dark chocolate

- sift the dry ingredients in to a large bowl.
- heat the honey and butter together until the butter melts and allow to cool slightly.
- Pour the molten honey on to the four, add the zest and beat well using a wooden spoon until combined. Cover with clingfilm and allow to rest. The dough will be very sticky and wet, but will firm up as it cools.
ready to bake!
- preheat the oven to gas mark 3/ 160C and line a large baking sheet with paper.
- Plonk the dough on to a lightly floured board and knead for a few seconds. Divide in to 30 equal portions (I went a bit overboard to ensure even sized treats. This recipe will make 30 21g biscuits!). Roll in to small balls and then lightly flatten so they have domed tops. Place on the sheet and bake in two batches for 10-12 minutes,
- cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water and dip the bottoms in. Leave to set upside down.
- boil the kettle, stick on the Muppet Christmas Carol and enjoy.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Hazelnut and Sultana Chelsea Buns

Tasty nutty bread!

I was at the shops the other day and saw a bag of ground hazelnuts for nearly free! I thought 'what a bargain, I'll have some of those!', only to find that it's not hazelnut, but 'hazelnut filling'. Sort of a ready mixed nut/sugar/flavour combo. So then I started to wonder what I could fill with this bag of wonder and remembered that I attempted some nutty Chelsea buns a few weeks ago. They ended up being a bit dry as I didn't have enough fruit or I had 250g to use up!

The dough is really just your average bread dough, but enriched with milk and an egg. TASTY! I added in some Christmassy spices. Well, 'tis the season and all.

400g strong white flour
100g wholemeal/wholegrain flour
1 tsp salt
1 sachet (7g) dried yeast
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground anise
275 ml milk
35g butter
1 egg

1 250g packet hazelnut filling (or mix your own with ground nuts, sugar a little cornflour and some flavourings)
200g sultanas

a little milk with a tsp of vanilla sugar for brushing

-gently heat the milk and butter in a small pan until the butter melts, then set aside to cool
- sift the flours, spices and and salt in to a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yeast. Pour the milk and butter in to the well, mix a little then add the egg and mix to combine.
- tip on to a floured board and knead for around 5 mins. Place in a clean bowl, cover with cling film and let it prove in a warm area for an hour or until doubled in size.
- heat the oven to gas mark 5. Line the base of a 20cm round loose-bottomed tin with baking paper. Once the dough has doubled, tip out and knock back. Roll in to a large rectangle about 1cm thick. 
- make up the filling by adding 4 tblsp of milk to the nuts and then spread over the dough, leaving 2cm clear at the furthest wide end.
- sprinkle the sultanas all over and then roll it all up in to a fairly tight sausage. Brush the 2cm gap with milk if necessary to stick the edge together. Trim the edges and then slice in to 8 even buns.

- place these in to the prepared tin leaving a little gap between each one.
-Leave to rise for another 20- 30 minutes or so.
- brush with milk and vanilla sugar and bake for 30 minutes - they should sound hollow when tapped. Remove from the tin, leave to cool slightly, then tear and share!

still steamy from the oven. 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Chai Masala Cake with Honey and Ginger Cheesecake Icing

With a sprinkle of ginger on the top.

It's getting rather chilly here now - snow, sleet, visible breath - so I thought it best to have a few folk over for some dinner to warm them (and my flat) up! Curry is my go to main so I baked a chai flavoured cake to go along with it. I made a version of this last year, but it didn't quite work - the icing was all runny and it felt a bit heavy. So this time I went for a Swiss meringue butter cream loaded with cream cheese for a tangy, fluffy and stable icing. Chai + ginger + honey x 4 = tasty cake in your mouth.

for the chai spice mix
4 cardamom pods, seeds out
- 7 cloves
- 10 black pepper corns
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 1 tblsp ground ginger
- pinch of ground star anise

for the cake
- 240g softened butter
- 240g sugar
- 4 eggs
- 240g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tea bag (I used Yorkshire tea)

for the Swiss meringue cheesecake icing
- 2 egg whites
- 70g sugar
- 200g room temp butter, cubed*
- 150g cream cheese, room temp*
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tblsp honey

*they need to be the same temperature or else one could chill the other = lumpy butter in the icing

Method: - First thing's first: make the spice mix. Heat a dry frying pan on a low heat and add all the whole spices. Keep swirling so they don't burn. Once they smell tasty, they're done. Tip in to a spice grinder/pestle and mortar and add the ground ginger and anise and finely grind.

- preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and line two 20cm round sponge tins with baking paper. Stick on the kettle. Make a nice, strong cup of tea with 1/4tsp of the spice mix and 100ml water. Steep.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale. Add the eggs, one at a time mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add the vanilla.
- Sift on the flour and baking powder and gently stir in, then beat for 10 seconds or so until fully incorporated. Add the rest of the spice mixture and the strong tea (sans bag), and mix well.
- Divide between the two tins and bake for 18 mins, check for done-ness if they need more time, give them some. Once baked, turn on to wire racks to cool.
Rustic...yes. That's what we'll call it.

- For the icing: Heat an inch or so of water in a small pan and simmer. Place the egg whites and sugar in a heat proof bowl and set over the pan (do not allow the water to touch the bowl). Whisk gently by hand. You want to dissolve the sugar whilst gently cooking the egg. Once dissolved (check by rubbing some between your fingers) whisk faster. Remove from the heat and beat with an electric whisk until the bowl has cooled and you have 
meringue. It takes a while.
- Once cooled, begin to add the butter, beating well as you go. The meringue will disappear, it will look like soup and or cottage cheese at varying points, but persevere. One all in, add the cream cheese in the same fashion.
- by now it should be more solid and looking like fluffy frosting. Add the ginger and the honey and stir well.
- Assemble! Cut each of the sponges in half so you have 4 (ideally the same size...I did not manage that). Place the first layer on a plate and spoon on 1/4 of the icing. Do the same with the rest. Sprinkle with a little more ginger and enjoy!

Light, fluffy, cheesecake-esque icing.