Out and about

SAM_7097.JPGI was out and about for a wee walk and had to take this picture.

The castle was forfeited in 1745, after the Jacobite rebellion when the owner was hung, drawn and quartered for treason . It was bought in 1765, but the new owners preferred to live in Edinburgh and it was abandoned.

The train line is the main East Coast line that goes South.

The Scottish Countyside, blending the old with the new!

Any thoughts?

Does the train spoil the view?

Add to the view?

 

 

First bread making attempt!

SAM_7045The other day I was in the living room pretending to study whilst watching the latest episode of Outlander, when a tractor stopped outside the house and a few moments later I heard hubbie come in the kitchen door. I looked up in time to see him smile, wave and head out the door again. I found this quite curious, but didn’t think anything off it until he finished work and he asked if I liked the present he dropped off.

Present? What present?

When I entered the kitchen I saw 2 bags of Organic Strong bread flour and 1 bag of organic self raising flour from one of the local farms. Now to most people, this wouldn’t be a present, but I was delighted. I’m sure other bakers will understand this too, as anything related to baking whether ingredients or utensils or gadgets are very much welcome.

Hubbie had been at the farm that mills and sells the flour and had been given 3 bags to take away with him. Lucky me!

As you will know from previous posts ( Pizza and Cinnamon buns) I have had mixed success with using yeast and making bread items. However, since the Cinnamon buns turned out well and since I now had a lot of strong bread flour I thought I’d try my hand at making bread.

This recipe comes from a cookbook I got from my mum and I remember her cooking from it when I was younger. Its the Diary Book of Home Cookery and the copy I have was published in 1978. This book came with me when I went to University and has been my bible ever since. Its the book I go to first when looking for a recipe  and it was from this book I learned how to make various sauces, Victoria sponge, pancakes, fruit loafs, macaroni and even how to line cake tins! Oh, of  course there are recipes I would never make such as tripe, kidneys espagnole, creamed liver, tongue with mustard sauce…… belugh…lets not dwell too much on those recipes.

The Ingredients for making White Bread are…..

450 grams of strong bread flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, 15 grams of butter, 2 level teaspoons of yeast, 1/2 pint of warm water.

Sift the flour and salt together in a bowl.

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The yeast actually has an unpleasant smell to it!

 

Add the yeast to a separate bowl and add a small amount of water and mix to form a creamy paste then add the remaining water and mix well.

Place the flour/ salt mix into the bowl of your stand mixer. However, if you are smart, unlike me, you will have sifted the flour and salt into this bowl in the first place! What can I say, I had a D’uh moment.

Attach the dough hook to your mixer and place your mixer on low and drizzle the yeast/ water mix into the flour. When it all comes together, take out the mixer and knead for 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface or you can leave in your mixer and knead for 5 minutes. I kneaded by hand as I had never done that before and wanted to try the technique.

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Then place the dough in a bowl and leave to double in size. I turned on my top oven, left the door open and placed the bowl on a seat in front of it. It rose very quickly.

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Take out the bowl, place on a lightly floured surface and knead until firm. Then shape the dough so that it fits inside a 1lb loaf tin. Melt some butter and brush the inside of the loaf tin then place the loaf inside.

Leave the dough to rise again, until it reaches the top of the tin. Again, my dough rose really well and quickly too. I had placed it back in front of the oven door!

Preheat oven to 230°C. Before placing in the oven, brush the top with milk or beaten egg or a mix of both. I just used milk. Then put in the oven for about 30 mins or until golden brown. After 30 mins my loaf had risen to well beyond the top of the tin and on one side was very very brown, probably too much for a loaf. Therefore next time I make this recipe I would check on it earlier.  I would probably also put the mixture in a 2lb loaf ti too.

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Remove from the tin and cool on wire rack and salivate over the wonderful smell. Bread has got to be my favourite smell in the kitchen.

You could give into the tempting smell and cut off a piece and cover with butter………given that it was 10:30pm in our house with a 6:00am start the next day we refrained and went to bed with thoughts of fresh bread for breakfast.

 

 

Class 31, Lemon Drizzle Loaf

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Refreshing lemon drizzle loaf basking in the sun!

Euro 2016 has started, although not in our household as we are a football free zone. We aren’t big football fans ( you probably know from past posts that we are all about the rugby) and Scotland failed to make the cut anyway, so no footie is being watched by us.

Instead preparation is under way for the local agricultural show which takes place in a few weeks. No, we are not entering any sheep, cattle or horses into any of the livestock/ showing classes but I am entering some preserves and baked goods into the Produce classes. Some of the recipes I’ve not made before, so I need to practice to ensure I can actually make them and also to get the timings of each recipe right. I want to be super organised the day before the show down to even having a timetable written out to keep me on track!  Hopefully I will catch any issues during the practices rather than be faced with a horror the day before the show.

I will be also be making Strawberry Jam, but I’ve made this a few times before so I can make a batch a week before the show. In addition to the lemon drizzle loaf and jam, I will be making  brownies ( still have not decided out of the 101 recipes I have for brownies which one to go for!), Nanaimo bars and Lemonade.

I entered 3 classes last year, but I’m entering 5 different classes this year, which I think is all I can handle at this stage!

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Awards from last years show.

 

 

Class 31, Lemon Drizzle loaf ( 1lb tin) 

Surprisingly I have never made Lemon Drizzle loaf before unless a madeira cake with extra lemon in it counts?! I know there are countless recipes for this, and you probably don’t need me adding to them therefore I decided to use Mary Berry’s recipe for Lemon Drizzle cake.  Her Banana loaf recipe won me first prize at last years show so hoping this recipe will be equally as successful. Thank you, Queen of Baking!

This lemon drizzle cake recipe is really simple to make, however I felt there was not enough cake batter, even for a 1lb loaf, as the cake batter barely came up to the half way point of the tin and the cake only rose about an inch. I would prefer to double the quantities in order to pour enough of the batter into the tin to fill until about 1 inch/ 1.5 inches from the top. Obviously this will affect the baking time, so I will try this recipe out one more time before the show to gauge this.

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Ingredients

1 and 1/2 large eggs or in my case I used two medium eggs, 87.5 grams of self raising flour, 87.5 grams of Caster sugar, 87.5 grams of softened butter, 3/4 level teaspoon of baking powder, finely grated zest of 1 lemon and juice of half a lemon. The original recipe only used zest from 1/2 lemon and no lemon juice at all however I felt that this would not give the cake enough of a zesty lemon flavour. I like to be able to taste the lemon in Lemon flavoured cakes!

Topping– juice of 1/2 lemon and 50 grams of sugar.

Preheat oven to 180° C. Grease and line a 1lb loaf tin.

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Simply beat the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs, lemon zest and juice in a mixer until well combined and smooth. When the lemon juice comes into contact with the baking powder it starts to fizz and bubble, which delighted me very much! Science in action.

Pour the cake batter to the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and springy when touched.

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Mix the juice of 1/2 lemon and the sugar to make the topping and pour over the top of the still warm cake. Once cooled remove from the tin.

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Sun, Sea, Sand, Running and Champagne Cake

SAM_6844So every year since about 2009, the last weekend in May we go to the Mull of Kintyre and every year ( apart from 2011) my hubby runs the half marathon along with friends of ours. It’s the only half marathon he does and he runs it simply due to the fact that every year he gets forced into by our friends, although secretly I think he enjoys it! In the evening there is a Ceilidh where previously exhausted runners take to the floor for the Dashing White Sergeant, The Gay Gordons,  Orcadian Strip the Willow , Canadian Barn Dance, the Highland Schottische…..

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Hubby in the white top and black shorts running to the finish!

This year we got beautiful sunny weather, whilst lovely it caused hubby and a few of the other runners problems. Some of us Scots don’t tolerate hot weather very much and  definitely not running in it as we are simply not used to it!

The weather was so unexpected that I had no summer clothes packed, no shorts or vests or swim wear instead I had about 5 thick jumpers and long sleeved and long legged flannel PJ’s! Its normally still cold in May, hence the sunbathing in jeans in pic above! Any way this year I managed to get sunburn on my feet and some of my friends actually decided to take a very refreshing ( read extremely freezing) dip in the Irish Sea, I, on the account of having no swimwear (fortunately) declined to go in the sea.

Every year we also celebrate one of our friends birthdays as this falls around the same time. This year I decided to make a cake for her and immediately thought of a champagne cake. However, I have never made a champagne cake before so searching the internet I came across the perfect recipe, Pink Champagne cake from Joanne at Joanne Eats Well with others.  Although, if you take a look at her page you will see I did not decorate mine as prettily as Joannes, however this recipe turned out really well and was straightforward to make, very pleased with the results and would definitely use this recipe again. You can really taste the champers in the cake and frosting, very yummy.

I have detailed the ingredients, methods and how I got on with the recipe, but you could also click on the page link above to get the recipe direct from Joanne Eats Well with Other page.

Ingredients

85 grams of softened organic Scottish butter, 400 grams of sugar, 360 grams of cake flour…… erm what?  Cake flour is not available in shops near me , actually I’m not 100% sure if its available in the UK, so this confused me slightly as I had never seen this before! However, by the powers of google I found a substitution. I used plain flour but for every cup of plain flour I took our 2 tablespoons of the flour and replaced them with two tablespoons of Corn flour…. voila Cake Flour!

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Never turn your back on a woman who had flour covered hands! Hee Hee

 

Any way more ingredients were………1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda ( although I questioned the need to use this given there was baking powder in the recipe but dutifully followed the instructions), 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 6 egg whites ( I kept the yolks and added some to a quiche I made as I really hate when they go to waste), 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 500mls of champagne, well I used Asti Spumante instead which is more of a sparkling wine and cheaper at £6.00 rather than £30.00 a bottle!

I didn’t get photos of the baking process as I had 101 things to do and was running very late to get everything done in time for leaving to go the Mull of Kintyre.

Anyway, Preheat your oven to 180° C and grease and line the bottom of two 8 inch cake tins. I always take the bottom out of the tin and place on the greaseproof paper and draw around the bottom.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Sift all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, the cake flour, baking power, baking soda and salt.

Slowly add the egg whites to the butter/sugar mixture, then add the vanilla.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the mixer then once incorporated add 250 mls of the champagne, then 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then 250 mls of champagne, then the remaining dry ingredients until all combined.

Split the batter between the two cake pans.  To do this I used a ladle to ensure each pan had the same amount as one of my pans was deeper than the other being a springform pan so it was more difficult just to eye ball.  Place in the oven and cook for between 35 -45 minutes or until cake tester or cocktail stick or knife comes out clean. One of the cakes took 35 minutes however the other pan took nearly 45 minutes until a cocktail stick came out clean, so just keep a careful watch on the cakes. Remove from the oven and wait till cooler then remove from pan and place on cooling rack.

Once cooled remove the greaseproof paper. I then used a knife to level off the cakes.

Frosting ingredients– 370 grams of softened and cubed butter. For me this meant leaving the butter out overnight to get it soft! 480 grams of icing sugar, 65mls of champagne, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract , pinch salt and red food colouring.

In a mixer add the butter and mix until creamy. Then add the icing sugar , champagne and salt and mix until light and fluffy. Add a few drops of red food colouring to the desired colour and mix until combined.

I placed one of the cakes on a plate then added some of the frosting on top of this, then added the remaining cake on top and added the rest of the frosting. However, you may want to cover the whole cake with frosting including the sides or try something fancier. I still had a reasonable amount of frosting remaining, even with slapping a fair amount on top and in between, so in future I would reduce the amount of frosting I make .I also added some edible daisy flowers I had left over.

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First attempt at Roast Chicken!

SAM_6822This was my first ever attempt at cooking a whole chicken! I know, I know its crazy that I’ve got to 32 without cooking a whole chicken but to be honest cooking big pieces of meat has always freaked me out for a couple (or five) reasons

1) I don’t eat a lot of meat, never have and there are some meats I just will not eat such as venison, lamb, some cuts of beef ( I’ll eat mince, but not steak… go figure!).

2) As I don’t eat them, I don’t cook them and so don’t know how

3) I feel uncomfortable cooking big cuts as I’m worried I’ll poison people!

4) I can’t stand the smell of some meat cooking such as Lamb to the point that I can’t even be in the kitchen when hubbie cooks this. He loves lamb! In fact there is not a meat, he dislikes!

5) Touching some raw meat is just icky! Sorry I’m 32 going on 5 in this respect.

However, recently  I have been getting more and more confident in the Kitchen and have even cooked large pieces of pork and ham, which have turned out well. This time I thought I’d cook a whole chicken. I do like chicken and often cook thighs, wings, fillets, legs so a whole chicken was the next logical step.

Ingredients

1 whole chicken with giblets removed- I always buy Scottish meat and carefully read the label for country of origin or check for the Scottish flag, but buy what ever you prefer. I try and buy Scottish meat, butter, milk veg etc as far as possible to support Scottish farmers.

100 grams or so of Softened Butter, 2-3  lemons, 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, dried thyme and oregano ( or any other herbs you have), salt and pepper,2 cloves of garlic.

My measurements, aren’t really measurements as I didn’t really measure, but just guessed. Very scientific! Also as this was my first go I just used what I had available in the house and came up with this.

Preheat oven to 220°C

Line a roasting tin with tinfoil ( makes it easier to clean!)

Grate the zest of two lemons. Get the softened butter about 100 grams or so ( should be enough to cover the chicken, but add more if you also want to add butter mix on top and under the skin). Chop the butter into cubes and place in a bowl along with the lemon zest. Add some thyme and oregano ( or whatever dried herbs you have to hand). I used about 1/2 teaspoon of each. Well it was probably more like a heaping 1/2 teaspoon- 1 teaspoon! Add some salt and pepper then mix it all together until combined or use a fork to mash as I had to due to the butter not being as soft as it should be.

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Cut the 2 lemons in half and place in microwave for 40 seconds.

Place the chicken into the roasting tin. Then place the lemons halves in the cavity of the chicken, along with the garlic which you should crush with a knife beforehand. Pour any juice that came out of the lemons whilst in the micro into the cavity too.

Rub the butter mixture all over the chicken ( and under the skin if you want, however I didn’t do this see reason 5 above… maybe I’ll get the courage next time!). It helps at this point if the butter is really soft as it will stick to the chicken and make it easier to rub all over.  In my photo below you can see, from the clumbs of butter is wasn’t as soft as it should be! I even ended up placing some of the butter into a micro for 10 seconds.

Place the springs of rosemary into the chicken cavity. I used rosemary from my garden however as we don’t have a huge amount growing at the moment and what we have has been eaten by Rabbits I only used two springs, but you could use more or even chop up a sprig or two and add to the butter mixture before rubbing on chicken.

I had a extra lemon lying about so squeezed half over the top of the chicken then sprinkled some salt and pepper over the top.

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Turn down the oven to 190°C and then place the chicken in the oven. I cooked the chicken for about 1 hour and 35 minutes, until the juices ran clear. I also used a meat thermometer to check too, helping me to avoid reason 3!

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