Cranachan

Disclaimer/ Warning: Some pretty dodgy and unflattering photos. This in no way is the Cranachan’s fault but rather this blogger’s ineptitude at photography, along with lack of space and light in the kitchen! Please note I did also over whip the cream.

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As I stated in today’s ” Burns Night Supper” post I made a Scottish dessert called a Cranachan to follow the haggis, neeps and tatties.

This is such a simple and quick recipe with only 5 ingredients, of which you more than likely have three of them in your cupboard right now.  Even in my cooking-phobic years (that’s totally a thing) I would make this and not get stressed out by it because its so easy. So easy really, it probably does not need a whole blog post!

Ingredients ( Roughly 4 portions)

80 grams of porridge oats

250 grams of Raspberries ( washed)- although you can add more or less.

300 grams of double cream

3 tablespoons of honey ( clear or heather, whatever you have really will do)

3 tablespoons of good quality malt whisky -well it is a Scottish dessert after all! You may want to start with one tablespoon and add more to taste. I have found other peoples versions of Cranachan the whisky varies greatly!

Oh and please ask the whisky drinker of the house before raiding and using the whisky stash. I made the mistake before of using some of hubbies “guid” whisky in a BBQ sauce and he was very unhappy about it ( it was an amazing BBQ sauce though!)  He has since struggled to purchase any more of that particular kind which has disappointed him greatly. Ironically for the Cranachan, I used a Japanese whisky that had been languishing in the cupboard and which hubbie deemed acceptable for cooking with. Obviously one he doesn’t drink then!

Or to save any hassle you could just buy a miniature of whisky instead.

Method

Lightly toast the porridge oats for about 5 minutes or so, until you can smell them ( a nutty toasty smell… if that makes sense??). I did this on the hob using a crepe pan, however I’m sure it could be done in the oven too.

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and try not to over whip like I did… and I said it was easy.Maybe I should have said, yes it’s easy but don’t get distracted by other things like I did! Pay attention to the mixer.

Keep back some of the raspberries to use as decoration. Add the rest of the raspberries to the cream, add the honey, whisky  and oats and carefully fold these into the cream.

Although I had Cranachan where the raspberries and oats were omitted from the cream and instead the separate elements layered  in the glass e.g add the cream/honey/whisky  mix into a glass, then some raspberries, then oats and repeat. The layers do look really pretty in glasses done this way, but it takes a bit more time and I’m more of a clash everything together quickly kinda gal!

Decant into serving glasses, you don’t need a huge amount three – four tablespoons of the mixture into each is a nice amount after a heavy meal. Also with whisky flavoured foods, I find it can be overpowering if there is too much of it. Add raspberries on top. Maybe add some oats if you have some left over or a dribble of honey.

It does taste a lot better than it looks, but if you don’t believe me then please give it a try.

 

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Christmas Pudding Truffles

With these little adorable treats it’s definitely feeling alot like Christmas.

I decided to make these to use up a Christmas pudding left over from last year that hadn’t been opened and had been languishing in the cupboard. However, it’s a great way to use up leftovers from pudding on Christmas Day.

They look so darn cute that if you popped them in gift boxes or into cellophane bags tied with ribbon they would make great Christmas gifts or hostess gifts. During the holidays there are so many parties and visits to relatives, so these are unique way to say ” thanks for having us”. They’re also incredibly easy to make and no baking involved… unless you count melting chocolate baking!

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Christmas Truffles- Although no matter how cute they are I can’t take the credit for the recipe as this is a Nigella Lawson recipe.

Ingredients

Left over cold Christmas pudding or cake about 450 grams.  Alternatively you can buy one specifically, heat in the microwave and then leave to cool.

60ml of Sherry or brandy

2 tablespoons of golden syrup

150 grams of dark chocolate.

150 grams of white chocolate

Glace cherries ( red and green) – if you can’t find green coloured glace cherries then you can use a green icing pen like I did. I had these in the cupboard already and got them in a pack of 4 along with red, yellow and blue. These are were used to create a holly for the top of the truffle so whatever you feel would work, then go for it.

Method

Line baking trays with greaseproof paper.

In a saucepan, bring some water to the boil and place a bowl on top to make a poor man’s bain-marie. Break up the dark chocolate and add to the bowl and slowly melt the chocolate. Leave to cool for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, add the Christmas Pud and break it up. Add the golden syrup and the brandy or sherry or whatever alcohol you have to hand and mix well.Then add the melted chocolate and mix well.

This is the icky bit, so if you have disposable gloves that can be used with food, then I’d recommend using them! Pinch a bit of the mix and roll in your hands to form small truffle size balls. Place on the grease proof paper. Keep going until all the mix has been used up. I made some of mine slightly too big, however it is better to keep them small, especially if you have been heavy handed with the alcohol like I was!

Place the truffles into the fridge to firm up.

In the mean time, creating another Bain-marie, melt the white chocolate and cut up the glace cherries. The red into small bits to form the holly berries and the green cherries to form leaves. If you are using green icing pen instead then you will need to add the icing direct to the truffle, so leave that to the side for a minute.

I would leave the melted white chocolate to cool for a bit, to firm up to make it less messy when using.

Dripple some of the white chocolate on the top of the truffle, then add the bits of the cherry or cherries on top. Or use your green icing pen to add the holly leaves. Continue until you have decorated all the truffles, then leave for the chocolate to set.

Then gift box to give as gifts or serve on a serving plate as after dinner treats to guests. Or my favourite is curl up on the sofa, with a Christmas movie, cuppa tea and eat all these morish Christmas Pudding Truffles to myself!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!!

 

Yummy Birthday Cake

I had been asked by a good friend to make a birthday cake for her hubbies 40th Birthday. I had never made a proper birthday cake before, you know a sponge with buttercream and jam in the middle, buttercream around the sides and top, then fondant icing on top with fondant icing decorations. The nearest birthday cakey type item I made was a Christmas Fruit cake, which had marzipan then fondant icing on top but the decoration consisted of fondant stars made by using stampers!! No difficult decoration techniques there.

My mother in law makes Wedding and Birthday cakes and she is really good at it, so I asked for her sponge and buttercream recipes. Part of me thought I could make the cake then run over to my MOL’s and get help with the decoration as she has all the proper tools and experience. However, I was running short on time to do this, so I had to forge ahead using my limited cake decorating skills, hubbies artistic input and google!

Sponge recipe

Ingredients for a 9 inch cake– 350 grams of softened organic Scottish butter, 350g grams of caster sugar, 350 grams of self raising flour, sifted and 7 eggs ( which should weigh 350 grams when out of their shells) and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Preheat the oven to 160 °C. Grease and line a 9inch cake tin. You can use a smaller tin, just reduce the quantities but make sure that you use the same  weight of butter, caster sugar, flour and eggs e.g for a 8 inch cake reduce all to 250 grams.

Place the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and mix until light and fluffy.

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Add the eggs one at a time along with a tablespoonful of flour. Make sure it is beaten and mixed well. Add the vanilla essence and the remaining flour.

Pour the mix into the prepared tin, smooth the top and place in the oven for about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until golden brown on top and a knife comes out clean.

Then leave to cool in the tins, for about 15 minutes, then remove from tins and remove the greaseproof paper. Once completely cooled cut the cake in half to make two layers.


Buttercream

Ingredients– 255 grams of Scottish Organic butter, softened, 680 grams of icing sugar, 3 tablespoons of milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Add butter to your mixer and whip until light and creamy, then add the icing sugar, milk and vanilla and whip until combined.


Sugar Syrup

Ingredients– About 100ml Water and  100 grams Sugar. Optional add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla or any other flavouring that compliments the flavour of your cake.

In a pan add some sugar and water and place on low heat until sugar dissolved. Then take off heat and add the vanilla or other flavouring

Brush the layers of the cake with the sugar syrup to keep the sponge moist then leave to dry. Don’t put too much on as you don’t want it to be soggy.

Then place one layer of the cake on a plate or board and add a layer of jam, then add buttercream on top of the jam to create the filling. Add the next cake layer and cover the top and the sides with a thin layer of buttercream to create a Crumb Coating. As you can see my layer was a bit too thick! Then place in fridge to chill until set.

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I then gave the cake another light coating of the syrup sugar after I took it out the fridge and before I covered with fondant icing.


Decoration

I can not take credit for the design as to get inspiration and ideas for how to decorate the cake I went to google and Pinterest, of course. There were lots and lots and lots of images of cakes made for doctors, most of which seemed to have the cake as the doctors coat and then scattered on the top over the coat, the instruments doctors use.  “The Doctors Coat” cake by My Sugar Creations was a particular inspiration and design that I utilised elements from.

This was the first time I had decorated a cake so was a bit rough looking! I also was limited by the colour of fondant icing that was available in my local shop, hence the white, red and black theme.  Mistakes on the side of the cake where covered up by using an icing pen to ice surgical stitches, although I forgot to take a piccie to show you.

Can you guess what all the instruments are supposed to be??

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Nanaimo Bars

Trying to show the layers, hence the two photos in different lights and both still pretty crappy pics!

Nanaimo bars ( which I always end up spelling slightly differently every time I write it !) were my choice of recipe for the No bake tray bake class at my local show.  I wanted a recipe that was a bit different. The usual recipes people tend to go for is the classic rocky road, but I wanted a recipe that no-one else would have made and also a recipe that I hadn’t yet made myself. I like to try new things.

My hubbie has often spoke about his grans baking when he was younger. She still bakes today, but not to the same scale and I’m led to believe that she would bake so much she would forget what she had made and tins of baked goodies would be found in the cupboards weeks after being made. Hubby had often mentioned Nanaimo bars with great fondness. His gran however does not keep recipes, or rather the recipes are all in her head and not written down and they often start with, ” oh I just put a handful of this and a wee handful of that…..” so I had to search online to get a recipe.

It was during this search that I noted that these seemed to be really popular in Canada, but not so much here. In fact not many people had heard of them so not sure how they managed to find there way to a Scottish farmhouse of my hubbie’s youth in the 80’s!

They are a very sweet, chocolate and custard bar and they reminded me of a bar that my hubbies Uni flatmate used to make for going rock climbing. Full of sugar, fat and energy! Maybe not the best advertisement and I’m not sure I would allow children to have these too often.

I got this recipe from the GoodtoKnow website and it was the first and only recipe for Nanaimo bars that I tried. My practice went really well, much better than when I actually made them for the show.

Ingredients

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Bottom layer- 125 grams of Scottish organic butter, 2 level tablespoons of golden caster sugar, 2 level tablespoons of cocoa, 1 medium egg, beaten, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 300 grams of digestive biscuits and 60 grams of desiccated coconut.

Middle Custard Filling Layer-60 grams of Scottish Organic butter, 2 tablespoons of custard powder, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 250 grams of icing sugar, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Topping- 150 grams of Organic dark chocolate, 30 grams of Scottish Organic butter, 4 tablespoons of strong black coffee.

First of all line your baking tray with greaseproof paper. My baking tray was a 9 inch x 7 inch.

For the bottom layer, in a pan over a low heat add the butter, sugar, cocoa and stir continuously until the sugar dissolves. Now in my pracgice go this step went fine. Nice and simple you would think, however the second time I made it, the butter itself seemed to separate into two distinct liquids,the mixture looked awful and was really runny. I binned that and started again. This time around, it worked fine and came together and melted perfectly. My thought was perhaps the butter had been left out too long, so when it melted the grease separated??? Not sure if this is the case however I think the key is also to keep the mix on a low heat and stir continuously. Once melted take off the heat.

Place the digestives in food bag and use a rolling pin to mash into crumbs.

Add the egg, vanilla,  digestive crumbs and coconut into the mix. To stop the egg curdling I add a bit of the mix into the egg and mixed then add the egg/ choc mix into the pan. Mix together well then add to your lined baking tray. Press the mix into the tray, making sure it is even and then leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Middle custard filling layer-  In a stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the custard powder, vanilla and then the icing sugar and lemon juice and mix until all combined and until it has a spreadable consistency.  Then evenly spread this lovely mix over the top of the biscuit layer and pop back in the fridge for 2 hours.

Topping- Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water in a pan. Once melted, whisk in the coffee and then spread the chocolate/coffee mix evenly over the top of the custard layer. Leave outside the fridge until set. Now the first time I made this, the chocolate layer set beautifully however, this time when I checked to see whether the layer had set, there were butter/ grease streaks on the chocolate. Now I think this was due to having the butter out on the counter getting soft and sweaty for longer than I should have. However, as I had no time to start again, I melted another 15o grams of chccolate, leaving out the butter and coffee this time, then spread this over the top of the choc/coffee layer. This was the reason I did not have enough chocolate for my intended brownie recipe!

The coffee/ choc layer doesn’t really harden all that much in comparison with a layer that is just chocolate, so it actually worked out well that I had the biscuit/ coconut base, custard layer, choc/coffee layer then a chocolate covering.

Cut into small bars, a little of this goes a long way!

Sorry, there are no pics of the actual cut pieces, turns out baking for competition and remembering to take photos ( and good photos at that) do not go hand in hand for me.  I’m working on it though.

 

 

**Update Farmhouse Fruit cake**

 

Hubby asked if I would make this cake for him again. Last time I made this cake the fruit, disappointedly, sank to the bottom ( first photo) and even though it still tasted good I vowed that when I made this cake again I would get the fruit perfectly distributed through out.

The original recipe advised to use 450 grams of self raising flour and to use two tablespoons from this amount to toss the fruit in. However, this time I added the whole amount of 450 grams of flour to the batter. I then used an extra 2 heaping tablespoons of flour to cover the fruit in.

Once I had made up the batter, I mixed in some of the dried fruit, but keep a few handfuls back. I added some of the batter to the bottom of the cake tin, then added a layer of dried fruit, then added the rest of the batter on top and then added the remaining fruit on top. I then used the back of a spoon to carefully press down on the fruit so that it was submerged slightly into the batter.

The photo above left shows the previous attempt and the photo on the right shows the attempt with the above changes. So much better this time around, lovely fruit all dotted about the cake. It looks so pretty now as well!

 

 

 

Chocolate Orange Cake and Sunday Shenanigans

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How gorgeous is this location !

I dragged my hubbie to watch the horse trials at Floors Castle on Sunday, and according to him ” they were all guilty”. Groan……. him and his naff jokes. He says this one every time about horse trials.

 

He isn’t overly enamoured with horses ( to be honest most farmers/ agric’s I’ve met aren’t and he often refers to them as hay burners! ) so to appease him whilst there I treated him to a hog roast, which he said wasn’t as good as mine! Awww hubbie is a sweetie. I was very pleased with that compliment. He also got ice cream, which keep him quiet for all of 10 seconds.

Once home, I also decided to make him a cake to thank him for spending the whole day surrounded by horses. Cake is definitely the way we show love in our house! He loves chocolate oranges and chocolate orange flavoured desserts so I decided to make Chocolate Orange Cake. It is also a cake that I always have the ingredients for and its so simple to whip up that I don’t actually need to look at a written recipe,however due to this I’m not entirely sure were it originally came from. I have a feeling it could be a Nigella recipe but from which book or show I’m not sure! Also apart from the 50 mins cooking time, it really takes no time at all to make.

Now if you don’t like orange or marmalade then this is not the cake for you unless you substitute the marmalade for another kind of preserve or jam. Although I haven’t yet done this so not sure which flavours would work best,maybe raspberry or strawberry would work well with the dark chocolate or even substituting the dark choc for white choc along with the raspberry jam would add a whole new dynamic. Plenty ways to jazz this one up to suit individual tastes.

Ingredients

150 grams of butter, 100 grams of dark chocolate, 2 beaten eggs, 150 grams of caster sugar, pinch of salt, 300 grams of thick cut marmalade ( I prefer thick cut so you get lovely bits of yummy marmalade dotted throughout the cake) , 150 grams of self raising flour, tablespoon of icing sugar- see, very easy to remember!

Pre-heat  oven to 180°C and grease a 8 inch cake tin.

In a saucepan start to melt the butter, then once nearly melted add the chocolate. Take off the heat and stir until the chocolate is melted. Then add the beaten eggs, sugar, salt and marmalade and mix until well combined. The mixture does appear quite lumpy at this point but that’s just the marmalade, no need to worry. Then add the flour in small amounts to the mixture and whisk until combined. See, very simple recipe!

Once combined add the mixture to your cake tin and bake for between 40-50 mins.

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Remove from oven, leave to cool and remove from cake tin. Using a sieve give the top of the cake a dusting with icing sugar. Then serve with a cuppa and enjoy.

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No Churn Crunchie Ice Cream and No Scottish Summer!

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I was very premature in thinking a couple of sunny days meant Summer had arrived and of course Summer meant eating ice lollys and ice cream to cool down with. Unfortuntely Scottish Summer lasted all of about 5 seconds and in the same day we had wind, rain and snow! It reeks havoc with my wardrobe decisions I tell ya!

However, while the sun was in the sky I did manage to whip up some home made no churn ice cream. I’m also fortunate that my hubbie will eat ice cream come sun, rain or snow. He has even been known to get an ice cream cone from the local ice cream shop on a Winters day and go for a walk eating his ice cream. According to him its the best time to eat ice cream because the temperature is so cold, it doesn’t melt and drip all over your hand before you’ve had a chance to eat it all! There is crazy logic there somewhere which has me thinking  ( and not for the first time) that hubbie is either an evil genius or slightly mad or,  since in most movies the evil genius that trys to take over the word is mad, both.

This is a great recipe if, like me, you don’t own an ice cream maker ( I stay in Scotland, so refer back to first paragraph for the reason why I don’t own one!).

Ingredients

600ml Double cream

200 grams of condensed milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla

3 crunchie bars ( chocolate covered honeycomb)

Combine the cream, condensed milk and vanilla in the mixing bowl on your stand mixer and mix until thick.

Place the crunchies in a sandwich bag and use a rolling pin to bash into chunks, a mix of big bits and small bits. Fold the crunchie bits into the cream/milk mixture.

Pour the mix into a container that you can put in the freezer. If you have crunchies left ( I didn’t) you could sprinkle some over the top before covering container with cling film and with the container lid. I usually place in the Freezer overnight.

The cream and condensed milk is your basic recipe, which you can add anything to, to make different flavours of ice cream such as the variations below:

Coffee: Make up some coffee and add a tablespoon or so ( dependant on your tastes and kind of coffee) to the cream and milk and mix together well until thick.

Chocolate: Add some cocoa powder, about 3/4 cup to the cream ( add more to taste depending on how rich you like your chocolate ice cream), condensed milk and vanilla, then mix well until thick. Fold in chopped chips.

Rocky Road: Make the chocolate ice cream. Fold in some chopped chips and/ or chopped nuts and bashed digestives to the mix along with mini marshmallows

Mint Choc Chip: Replace the vanilla with some peppermint extract and also add some green food colouring to the cream/ milk and mix well. Fold in some chopped chocolate or chocolate chips.

Caramel: Add some caramel sauce to the already mixed cream/milk mixture and fold well. You could add some salt too to make Salted Caramel.

Oreo: Fold in some bashed up Oreos to the basic ice cream mix.

Or just add your favourite sweetie or candy!

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