Monday, June 8, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Berries & Cream Scones

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It's Secret Recipe Club time again! If not for SRC, my blog would be already dead and gone. After two more months of SRC, I will be taking a few months off though. I need some time away from the blog to focus on the family and while I will miss blogging, I know I will be back.

This month, I was super excited to be assigned the fabulous blog Camilla's Culinary Adventures! Oh man - Camilla really is a star. She manages a fabulously loaded blog on which she posts amazing recipes very regularly, she runs a beautiful family and she is also our Group B moderator here at SRC. I need lessons from this lady on time management! Hats off to you, Camilla. You're an inspiration!
I honestly had such a hard time picking a recipe this time around. She has so many recipes in almost every style of cooking. I was tempted to pick a bread recipe, or a Madeleine recipe (I adore Madeleines) or one of her amazing cupcake recipes since my daughter has been nagging me for cupcakes. Finally, I ended up with a breakfast recipe when i needed to make a quick batch of scones for someone. I remembered seeing this recipe on Camilla's site and went back to it. 

The recipe is originally strawberries and cream but I didn't have strawberries in the house at the time, and so I made it with blueberries instead. I'm sure it would have been amazing with strawberries though! Next time! 

Berries and Cream Scones
Adapted from Camilla's Culinary Adventures
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 cup white sugar 
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter, cold
2/3 cup double cream 
1 large egg 
1/2-3/4 cup fresh or frozen strawberries 
1 tbsp double cream (for the top)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat. 
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Stir well to combine. 
3. Add the butter and using either a pastry cutter or just the tips of your finger, work the butter into the dry mixture until the mixture resembles chunky breadcrumbs. You could even do this in the food processor. 
4. Add the cream and egg and gently bring the dough together. 
5. Once the dough is formed, add the blueberries and be very gentle to disperse the berries. Take care not to bruise the berries too much. 
6. Transfer the dough onto your prepared baking sheet and pat into a circle that's about 1/2 inch thick. Slice into wedges and drizzle the top with the reserved cream. 
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until the scones are lightly golden and raised. 
8. Serve warm drizzled with a glaze of your choice or with cream and jam. 

These scones were different from the ones I've made before and we all loved them - especially my husband! The base and edges had a crispy cookie like texture that we couldn't get enough of, and the middle was soft and crumbly, and as Camilla mentioned that her son noticed, - the flavour was intensely buttery and delicious!

Thank you for this amazing base recipe for scones Camilla. You can bet I'll be using this to make many amazing combinations for years to come! Please go check out Camilla's blog and I promise you a treasure trove of recipes that you can't stop bookmarking! 

Don't forget to check out the other awesome SRC recipes below!

Until next time :)

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Cranberry Orange Yoghurt Bread

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Yes. I know. It has been TWO WHOLE MONTHS since my last post here on the blog. I apologise for the long silence. It has been a crazy time for me. And I've been feeling really sick and out of it. The good thing is that I am starting to feel a lot better and I hope to be blogging regularly again.

I was glad to get back into the kitchen earlier this month to try out my recipe for this month's Secret Recipe Club post. 

This month I was assigned an awesome blog called A Spoonful of Thyme. I am no stranger to this blog and I have visited it before and even cooked from it! You guys know I don't usually blog about cooking recipes - mostly baking. But let me tell you - this rice recipe is awesome! So you won't be surprised when I say that I was thrilled to find I was assigned Kate's blog. Kate comes from a family of cooks and with cooking in her DNA, I'm not surprised that there are so many incredible recipes on her site! I loved cooking from your site, Kate!

I've bookmarked a ton of recipes to try - especially the fabulous pie recipes which you remember your mom and grandma for! I absolutely intend to try this Winter Fruit Pie with Walnut Crumb ASAP. Who cares if it is the middle of a blazing hot summer where I live. This will get made! 
The recipe I chose to make and share with you today is this absolutely flavourful, moist divine quick bread that my family and I LOVED. I am sure you will too!

Cranberry Orange Yogurt Bread
Adapted from this recipe on A Spoonful of Thyme
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup yoghurt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Zest of 2 oranges
1/2 tsp orange extract
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, halved
1 cup lightly toasted pecans

1. Prepare your loaf tin by lightly greasing and flouring it. Kate recommends a 6-cup capacity loaf tin. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. Stir together the yogurt and orange juice. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes until creamy and light.
5. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating for a further 2-3 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and creamy.
6. Beat in the orange zest and extract.
7. Add the flour mixture in small quantities, alternating with the yogurt mixture. Make sure you finish by adding the last of the flour mixture.
NOTE: This mixing should be done on low speed so that you don't end up working the gluten in the flour. Do not over-mix. Stop mixing as soon as the flour has been incorporated in each addition. If you mix too much at this stage, you won't have a bread with a tender crumb.
8. Add the cranberries and pecans and fold them in by hand until evenly distributed.
9. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. Do not over-bake. Keep in mind that if you are using a smaller sized loaf tin, the baking time will decrease. Keep an eye on the bread and remove as soon as it is done.
10. Allow to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes and then gently turn out onto a wire rack to cool before slicing and serving.
I made double this recipe because I had gut feeling that this was going to be very popular around here - and I am so glad I did this! I ended up with two loaves (baked in 5 cup capacity loaf tins), plus 6 muffins with this recipe and I am enjoying the coveted last slice right now as I write this post. The texture was just divine - moist and melting and don't get me started on the flavor! My only change to the recipe was the addition of a dash of ground cinnamon - a flavor I love in combination with orange! I had to skip the orange oil since I didn't have it in my pantry, but I used a splash of orange extract instead, and I increased the amount of orange zest in my recipe.

I made one loaf with the pecans and the rest without because my kids don't really enjoy nuts in their bread. My husband adores pecans and so he ate the pecan loaf almost entirely by himself. Personally, my favourite part of the loaves was the ruby red cranberries. It is amazing how the cranberries are almost inedible when raw and fresh but taste SO good when baked into something like this. Just amazingly yummy!

If you're looking for good ways to use cranberries, this bread is a winner! And if you still have tons of cranberries left, please please please make this Cranberry Hazelnut Coffee Cake. You will not regret it! There are a few more yummy cranberry recipes in my recipe index, if you want them!

Until next time… 

Check out the other posts below for more Secret Recipe Club recipes from the group I bake with!

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Caramel Apple Shortbread Squares

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I always look forward to the second Monday of each month. That's when my group posts their reveals as part of Group B of Secret Recipe Club. I usually so look forward to my blog assignment each month that I bake from it within the first week… and then I have to wait three whole weeks to write about it!

This month, my assigned blog was Flavors by Four - an amazing blog by an awesome cook, baker and blogger duo - Susan and Nicole. This mother-daughter team takes turns blogging about the yummy recipes they find and cook! I love that they do this, and I hope that one day, my daughters will want to share my blog with me! My older one is already super interested and I can't get her out of the kitchen… :) Thanks for the yummy recipes, and inspiration, Susan and Nicole!

I had quite a few recipes shortlisted at first - my favourite being these awesome looking Buckeye Brownies! And since I love muffins so much, these Dark Chocolate Cherry Muffins were a close second. But after much pondering and browsing, I chose these delicious, buttery Caramel Apple Shortbread Bars
These are so flavourful and delicious, and were a hit in our home. The only change I made was that for some reason, my caramel was a little too runny and I wasn't sure I should pour such runny caramel over the shortbread base. So I used a tiny amount of cornstarch to thicken the caramel before using it. I think maybe it was the kind of apples I used. So if you have a thickish caramel, please feel free to omit the cornstarch I have used. 
Caramel Apple Shortbread Bars
Adapted from Flavors by Four
Shortbread crust & topping
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened

Caramel Apple Filling
3 large or 4 medium apples, peeled and sliced thin 
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter
1-2 tbsp cornstarch (optional - only if required)

1. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Prepare a 9"x13" baking tin by lining the bottom and sides with parchment or non-stick baking paper. I used non-stick baking foil. 
2. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Stir to combine.
3. Add the softened butter and using a mixer or a wooden spoon stir to bring the dough together. Mix until the dough is uniform but do not over-mix.
4. Press about 2/3 of the shortbread dough into the bottom of the prepared baking tin. Allow to parbake in the oven for about 20 minutes. This is sufficient time for you to get the filling ready. 
5. To make the filling, combine the sugar and water in a heavy bottom saucepan and stirring occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved. Then allow the mixture to come to a boil. Keep an eye on the sugar and watch it while it caramelises. It will turn a beautiful amber colour. Once you've achieved this colour, it can go for caramelised to burnt in a matter of seconds - so work quickly. 
6. As soon as the sugar is caramelised, stir in the sliced apples. This can cause the sugar to seize up and harden a little, but keep stirring and the sugar will dissolve. Once you have apples in smooth caramel, add in the cream and butter, stirring constantly. This mixture may bubble but it will subside. 
7. At this stage if you feel the mixture is too thin and runny (like mine was), dissolved about 2 tbsp of cornstarch in the caramel sugar and stir it back into the saucepan. Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is thick and luscious. 
8. Remove the par-baked base and pour the caramel filling over the top. Spread it out evenly using a spatula.
9. Crumble the reserved 1/3 of the shortbread dough over the top of the caramel apple filling.
10. Continue baking for a further 15-20 minutes until the shortbread on top is lightly golden and the caramel is bubbly but set. 
10. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. I let it sit overnight before cutting it into squares. 
These were absolutely delicious. Everyone's favourite part was the yummy shortbread crust. I can imagine using the same crust for tons of different fillings. So delicious! And the caramel apple filling was so addictive that you could eat it with a spoon. Thank you Susan and Nicole for a truly delicious recipe! Don't forget to check out the other awesome Group B recipes in the link-up below! 

Until next time… 

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