Chocolate Bourbon Biscuits

28 Jul

Wowwy, what a month.

I haven’t written properly in quite a while, and though I’ve wanted to, I a) haven’t had the time to experiment in my kitchen and b) haven’t had the chance to write. So that’s that really. Boo.

But I am back. And today I have a recipe for you. Bourbon Biscuits.

Bourbons

Bourbons ready to munch!

I must say that bourbons happen to be my very favouritist biscuit. I have this nostalgia about them, but I can’t quite remember my 1st memory of them. We never had biscuits in the house when I was a kid, so I expect my love of these yummy things comes from visiting my grandparent in Lincolnshire in my early years. My grandmother (my dad’s mother) always has a biscuit or two in the house. They also always bought those mini breakfast cereals especially for when my sisters and I visited. But that’s beside the point.

Everyone has a certain way that they have to eat their biscuits. It’s habit right?

Some drunk in tea (the boy), others demolish theirs in 3 bites. Sometimes people even sandwich their digestive together with chocolate spread (OMG I am liking this idea). But I, along with a few select others, nibble. Okay, I know this only applies to the bourbon/custard cream/Oreo lovers out there, but wait. It’s not just any kinda nibble, it’s a whole different story.

Bourbons and Milk

I have to remove the top layer of biscuit first, to expose the chocolaty buttercream inside. I usually do this in a few small bites, chomp, chomp, chomp. Then I lick the buttercream and finish the rest of the biscuit, chomp, chomp. A little gross, so I am not allowed to eat bourbons if others are around (my own rule). It’s probably sounding like I have a weird bourbon fetish by now, no?

Anyways, I would love it if you would comment on what you’re favourite biscuit is, and how you like to eat it. I love a little discussion, especially one about food!

Chocolate Bourbon Biscuits

Makes aprox 18 biscuits

Biscuits

115g plain flour

30g icing sugar

25g cocoa powder

100g butter, cut into cubed

Filling

30g butter, room temperature

100g icing sugar

25g cocoa powder

Start by sifting the flour, icing sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Then add the cut up butter and mix together with your hands. Go on, get right in there, until it has some structure and forms a ball.

Place in cling-film or sandwich bag and put it in the fridge for 30 minuets.

While your dough is chilling you can make the buttercream filling.

Cream the soft butter in a bowl until smooth, add the icing sugar a tablespoonful at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the cocoa powder and mix until smooth. Set aside.

Set you’re oven at 160c/140c fan.

Once you’re bourbon dough is chilled, remove from fridge and knead on a floured counter until you are able to shape it. I rolled mine out into a sausage, then patted down the sides until I had a long rectangle shape, the classic bourbon. But you can shape yours however you like.

Then using a sharp knife, I sliced pieces off the dough, around half a centimeter in thickness. Place the uncooked biscuits on a baking tray lined with baking paper and chill again for 10 minuets.

Put these babies in the oven for 8 minuets. Cool on a rack, then when cooled, spread some buttercream on one side of a biscuit, and sandwich the other half on top.

Viola! Chocolate Bourbon Biscuits. So quick it’s easier than popping down the supermarket (unless you’re about to pop down anyways to pick up the ingredients) but the hell with it. You won’t find any nasties in them, just pure, homemade loveliness! Enjoy!

Oh, and don’t forget to tell me you’re fave biscuit!

Summer means fruit, and lots of it!

28 Jun

I love this heat, don’t you? You can leave you’re doors or windows open all day, and most of the evening too. The days turn into a blur, full of music and fruity drinks, and the evenings are filled with laughter, grilled food and more drinks (ones with a little more kick though).

In my opinion the summer hasn’t really arrived yet though. We have had a few good days, but we had better in April. Hmphh, well such is the way in the UK hey?!

But we all carry on with our summer ways, refuse to wear anything but shorts and sunglasses, even in the rain. I like that English spirit, we are usually so disheartened by everything else.

But anyways, this months Mac Tweet, Mac Attack Challenge is rather rushed, as I am off to Cornwall tomorrow with the Boy. I cannot wait.

Pussy cats are being tended to by the 17-year-old sister….I am not sure what else to say about a 17-year-old with a free house to herself for 3 days, I shall tell you when I get back. But I know what I would have done. Don’t you?

So, Mac Tweets. This months theme is anything fruity, which is fab. So much is in season right now so there was so much choice.

I was going to try replicate the amazing Cherry macaron I had in Laduree, but I didn’t want to pit a load of cherries. Then I came to me.

When my sisters and I were kids, our Dad loved raspberry ripple ice cream. Every year it was like a occation, you see, my Dad doesn’t really like sweet things (crazy I know) but raspberry ripple ice cream he couldn’t resist. I remember like clock work, as the days grew longer and hotter we would start getting raspberry ripple ice cream with tinned fruit for pudding. Sometimes peaches or clementines, but always raspberry ripple. To me this is the taste of summer.

So here is my macaron creations, especially for my Dad.

Mascarpone Raspberry Ripple Macarons

For the basic macaron shell, follow this recipe.

Just add swirls of red food colouring. Do this once your shells are piped out by dipping a cocktail stick in a little food colouring and swirling it around the top of the macaron.

Bake as normal.

Mascarpone filling

1 small pot of mascarpone

1 cup of raspberries.

Beat together until light and fluffy. Pipe onto one shell and sandwich together with another.

Enjoy.

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Guilt-Free Breakfast. Gluten-free and delicious!

27 Jun

Over the last few months I have been testing new recipes for gluten-free/grain-free baking and cooking.
I wanted breakfast that was satisfying like toast and honey, and filling like a bowl of granola, problem is, I can’t eat any of those things because I’ve recently discovered that grains, of any type, are not my friend. I’m talking wheat, rice, corn, couscous, you name the grain, I can’t eat it. Which means I don’t get any of the ‘good stuff’ so to speak. I can’t even eat the gluten-free alternative as rice flour is used.
To be honest I’ve been pretty bummed out for the last few months over this.
Anyways, The Spunky Coconut pretty much saved my life.

Kelly and her family have been gluten-free/grain-free, sugar-free and the rest for some time now. I would check out her website for the full story, as I wont do it justice, but it’s all pretty inspiring. She reminded me that there were loads of grain alternatives, and with a little, tiny, weenie bit of effort (not much at all) you can have delicious baked and cooked yummies, that A) wont hurt you’re gut or give you crazy blurry vision (yep that’s what happens folks) and B) are really high in protein and all that good stuff.

So I’ve taken inspiration from Kelly and I’ve been making my own grain free pancakes! The recipe is one I’ve made up myself, and has worked well all the times I used it. And you don’t have to feel guilty eating them as they are almost completely carb free, no sugar and high in protein. This version is also dairy free, but not out of intention. It can be altered by replacing the coconut milk with cows or goats milk if you like.

Vanilla Almond Pancakes with Honey and Lemon drizzle

Serves 1

30g blanched almonds

20g tapioca flour

10g quinoa flakes

5g coconut flour

1/4 teaspoon of gluten-free baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

1 egg

A little coconut milk to thin.

Drop of vanilla bean essence

Coconut oil for cooking

1 dessert spoon honey

2 dessert spoons fresh lemon juice

 

Put you’re almonds and quinoa in a grinder, I use a coffee grinder myself, and find it works perfectly. Grind until you have a fine flour.

Put all the dry ingredients to a bowl and add the egg, mix until well incorporated.

Add coconut milk and vanilla to thin down you’re batter, depending on how thick you want you’re pancakes.  Alternatively you can have waffles by adding only a drop of milk. Leave for a few moments while you heat you’re frying pan to a high/medium heat.

While you wait, mix together the honey and lemon in a small bowl or cup. Set aside.

Add a touch of coconut oil (or a little butter) to your hot frying pan, and add a couple of spoons of batter. Cook one side for about a minuet,  flip and cook the other side. Repeat until all your batter has gone. Personally I have mine quite small, more like waffle size, but they work just as well if you want a thin pancake, just add more milk and spread across the pan.

Pour on your honey and lemon drizzle, and ta-dah! You have yourself a healthy stack of Almond Pancakes! Enjoy!

 

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

16 Jun

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”-William Shakespeare.

La Pomme!

This sonnet seems so apt for times of late. I was reading that in Shakespeare’s time, that their summer time was around May. Where those rough winds shake the May time flowers.

We are in the middle of June now, where is the sun? I have a feeling my flip flops won’t be worn this year.

We’ll they say ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’ right? So I am baking comfort food. But more of that in a minuet.

I am rather excited by the way…on Wednesday I received my copy of Helene Dujardin’s (aka Tartelette to all you lovely bloggers) Plate to Pixel. For those of you know don’t know, Helene is an amazing food photographer, food stylist, cook, baker, blogger and author, plus a whole heap more. phew.

I started reading her blog, Tartelette about a year ago when I first started thinking about my business. Her food looked amazing, I was totally engrossed from the first click. It was a post about violet macaron’s. I still look at that picture now and crave macaron’s. The light caught beautifully on their little ‘pied’, their slight hue, reflected on the cake stand. And then I scrolled down.

Tartelette's Plate to Pixel

I spent over 2 hours that evening enjoying her blog.My eyes has a feast, and I wanted to gorge. This was the day that I really fell in love with the whole concept of ‘food’. Don’t get me wrong, I loved food before, but somehow it was just so much clearer now.

The next day I picked up my little point and snap camara and took dozens of cupcake photos.

To be honest I was rather frustrated with the results. Grainy, low light, etc etc. I blamed the camara. Poor thing, it wasn’t its fault. I was totally me. I was doing things like using the flash and auto modes. I was a nightmare. Still I went ahead and bought a new camara. In all fairness though, my P&S was a bit out of date.

I didn’t have much money, but I wasn’t going to buy something I didn’t have control over. I really wanted a dSLR, but I knew these babies where out of my price range. I asked around, read review after review online, and finally I popped into a camara shop and had a look. I knew I wanted something that had a decent macro and something with a good optical zoom was also important. The assistant showed me a Fufifilm Finepix S1900, instantly I knew it was the right camara. 18x optical zoom, manual settings, aperture and shutter speed control and 2 macro settings. It’s really just somewhere between and P&S and dSLR. All in all it was the perfect buy for me.

I started taking pictures as soon as I could. The pictures definitely looked better, the feel was there, but I really wanted to learn more. And this is where Plate to Pixel comes in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay I’ll be honest, I’ve never been much of a book reader. There I said it, out loud, kind of. It’s not that I don’t love stories, if someone could read to me I would be pleased. But I find it hard to stay on track. Dyslexic thing.

Once apon a time, my dear Grandpa, who is sadly not in this life anymore, said to me very seriously when I was VERY young “One day a book will change you’re life very fundamentally. It will change the way you think about things. It will answer you’re questions, feed you’re knowlage, and have you coming back with more questions, all at the same time” To be honest I didn’t believe a word he said. He was a publisher, and very passionate about books.

On Wednesday those words he told me all fell into place. I opened the front cover of this beautifully pictured book and read. There are only a few moments in my life that I can relate to the feeling I felt when reading this book. When I danced, and falling in love. It’s exactly the same. My heart was dancing. And all the pieces started to come together, it all made sense now.

So yesterday I decided to put into practice what I had learned briefly. It’s a big book so I didn’t get that far. Just learning the basics like, aperture, shutter speed and ISO.  But I can already see a little difference, and I suddenly started to unleash the art form behind photography, meaning drawing with the light. Isn’t that gorgeous?

I also wanted to try adapting some grain-free recipes, and because it was raining outside (no surprise there). I decided carmelized apples were a must!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see how they started looking more like 'pomme de terre'.

Time to bake. So here it is. It's naturally gluten-free, and almost guilt free. I used ground coconut and almonds as my, but I am finding it very hard to find it ground finer. If you have the answer to this, please help!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Cake with Raspberry Streusel Topping

Makes 12 muffin sized cakes.

3 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced

50g dark brown sugar

185g soft butter

100g golden castor sugar

2 eggs

185g ground almonds

100g ground coconut

Streusel Topping

15g ground almonds

60g ground coconut

20g sugar

15g butter

some good quality raspberry jam

Pre-heat oven to 150c (I have a very cheap electric oven) that runs a little higher in heat then the average.

Start by frying the apple in 5g of butter on a medium heat for around 5 minuets. Add the dark sugar and cook for a further 5 minuets. Set aside.

Make you’re streusel topping by combine almonds, coconut, sugar and butter, and work together untill you have a crumb consistency. Roll into a ball, wrap in cling film and freeze.

To make you’re cake.

cream the butter and the castor sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.

Combine almonds and coconut and fold into the butter mixture.

Stir in the carmelized apples, and bake at 150c for around 35 minuets.

After 35 minuets, take you’re muffin cakes out, spread a good helping of raspberry jam on top of each one.

Slice thin slices of the streusel topping and crumble over the top. Bake for another 20 minuets at 140c.

Either strate out the oven (be warned they are piping, I burnt my mouth a little) as a cozy pudding with custard, or surprise your loved ones by packing it in their lunch box!

Mini Scone Muffins (Scoffins) Recipe.

5 Jun

 

I have a manic week ahead. Lots of baking for a summer fair on saturday, a 90th birthday cake and oh my, so much to sort out.

I bought myself some new equipment last week, exciting stuff, well to me. When it all arrived I  felt some slight suspense. I tend to buy online and then forget what I’ve bought. Imagine the scene. I was sat in the middle of my living room tearing open packaging at an unbelievable rate of knots. I ended up with a pile of brown paper and bubble wrap around me, and a heap of (presents) baking pans, baking sheets, mixing bowls etc in the middle of the room with me. I was like an over excited kid at Christmas.

I instantly wanted to use my new mini muffin pans. ‘What to bake’ I thought. Hmmm. This thought stayed with me for a little while. We were having a BBQ that night for our good friend who was back from Holland. I was thinking it would be great to bake something traditional. Something I rarely ever do. Scones…

I’m sorry, you’re going to cringe right now.

I HATE SCONES.

There, I said it, I got it off my chest. I know, I am English, I should love them. But I can’t stand them. You can’t eat them without feeling you swallowed a crummy brick. They just sit there in you’re stomach. So rich that you can’t eat nowt more. You see, I am all for eating, but I like the kind of food you can eat, and still have room for more later on.

So I reinvented that baby. The whole reason for me baking was to test out my new tins. So I had to make some sort of muffin. How about mini muffins. Mini Scone Muffins?

The amazing flavour of a scone, but in a light and airy muffin.

Uh, hello, AMAZING.

We ate them last night. My better half loved them. I honestly have no idea how I landed myself with such a supportive human being. He believes in me 100% and for that, well, I have no words.

Anyways, enough mushy stuff. I thought he was the one that named these little delights during our drunken BBQ. But apparently it was actually our good friend, you know, the one who is back from Holland for the weekend. It was quite a boozy evening. And my memory is poky at the best of times…

Him-”You know, you should call them Scoffins”

Me-”Genius”

So there we go. Here I have a recipe for you:

 

 

Mini Scone Muffins (Scoffins).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heat you’re oven to around 200c

225g self raising flour

50g wholemeal flour

pinch of salt

55g butter, cut into small cubes

100ml milk

100g castor sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

5 handfuls of currents

1 egg, beaten.

Okay. Start by mixing the flours and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the cubed butter and work together until well incorporated and flaky.

Add the sugar, milk and vanilla , and mix until you have a loose dough, almost like cake mixture. At this point add the currents. But by any means, don’t just restrict yourself to currents, go wild. Add chocolate chips, orange zest or sour cherries? The possibilities are endless.

Fill a greased muffin pan with your Scoffin mixture. I filled mine right to the brim so that I would get that classic ‘muffin top’ look to them, this worked perfectly. Then I brushed a little of the beaten egg on top, and popped them in the oven for around 10-12 minuets, or golden brown.

Remove from tin and enjoy warm with clotted cream, jam and a pot of tea.

Find me on Tumblr

1 Jun

Hey peeps!
You can now find me on Tumblr.
http://www.thelilacbakery.tumblr.com

A french weekday in London.

30 May

This week I embarked on my little trip up to London.

I only had 2 days, and I had a lot to do, places to visit, and dear friends I wanted to see.

I had a quick lunch with a friend who just moved up to London. A little salad bar in Victoria was the setting for our catch up. Chatter about his new job, home, friends, business ideas etc. We managed to cover a lot of ground in that short hour. The salad was also good, especially as I hadn’t eaten all day.

Then on to Soho to meet some people I haven’t seen in almost a year. It was so good to see them. You start chatting and it doesn’t feel like a year has passed. More chatter about ‘whats going on in Soho’, family, music, new business ventures, bubble tea…once again, there’s never enough time.

Off to Covent Garden to meet my grandma for macarons and tea at Bougie Macaron and Tea.

We were greeted by the waitress who gave us a seat next to the window, lovely. The first thing that hit me when we first walked in were the decadent colours. The walls were painted in a metallic gold, and with the dark wood this could have been too dark, but they have a lovely big window which floods the place with light that dances off the painted walls.

They had a good menu, not just serving macarons, in fact, not just serving patisseries. With salads and light bites on the menu this is the perfect cafe for long lunch time catch up’s.

Their macarons mirrored Bougie’s metallic walls, each one was dusted with edible lustre. I did marvel at how the jeweled colours suited Bougie down to the ground.

We decided we would share 4 macarons between the 2 of us. It took us a little while to choose, but in the end we went for pistachio, raspberry, rose and salted caramel on recommendation. I had a lavender tea and grandma had an orange blossom.

The tea came in all sorts of unusual teapots, the aroma subtle but distinctive.

The flavour of the macarons was lovely, my favourite was the rose macaron.

Grandma and a rose macaron

Hello!

But the texture was not good. They were quite crisp, and the pistachio was so hard I couldn’t even cut it in half which was a shame.

In general I would visit Bougie again, maybe have a spot of lunch and a pot of tea, but I don’t think I would have their macarons.

 

The next day was a bit of a blur. It rained so hard all day. But we whizzed around London in the haze.

First to the Pierre Herme counter in Selfridges. It was beautiful, unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take a photo, but I sneaked this one in from afar.

I chose a Milk Chocolate and Passion Fruit macaron. Even though I only had the one macaron they still packaged it beautifully.

The colour was so vibrant and enchanting. Almost saying “Eat Me, I will change you’re life”.

And boy, did it!

As I bit through this beautiful morsel the shell softly crumpled into the centre exposing the moist yet structured almond interior. The ganache was UNBELIEVABLE! It was sweet and sour all at the same time. This experience was something else.

I finally popped to Laudree in Harrods, I didn’t have long as I had to catch my coach, but I quickly flew in. I hadn’t realised but they have a full-blown cafe there. It was gorgeous, extravagant. Once again I couldn’t get a photo, but I really recommend a visit.

I chose Laudree’s Cherry macaron.

The first thing that hit me was the scent. Cherry orchards in mid summer. Sweet and full-bodied, rich and light. Also the colour was fabulous.

Once again the centre was moist, the thin shell was deadly delicate. The flavour was sublime.

I ate this one on the coach on the way home, and when I took my 1st bite I couldn’t help but let out a long ‘mmmmm…’ The people sat near to me were looking over with curiosity as I enjoyed this moment, their eyes transfixed on this bright pink little piece of heaven.

It was different from the Pierre Herme macaron. In structure this macaron practically melted in my mouth, and the moister centre meant that it almost completely gave way to itself on my 1st nibble, but O-MY. Have you ever tasted flavours like this before, I can guarantee you no.

All in all it would be very hard to compare the two. Both unique, which seems complex when it comes down to it. They are just macarons, both almond, sugar and egg whites, both equally as good as one another, but somehow different.

I now know where I strive to be on my macaron journey, so even if I manage to capture 50% of a Pierre Herme or Laudree macaron in my own creations I will be thrilled to pieces.

The desperation to buy Pierre Herme’s book Macaron, and Sucre by Laudree is now at an all time high.

Until then, back to the kitchen!

I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from the fish counter at Selfridges, they are currently supporting Project Ocean which is a fantastic cause.


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