Category Archives: Baking

Ruin Mother/Mother’s Ruin Part 1

imagesMy mother taught me to cook from a very early age, not because she’s a whizz in the kitchen – but because she’s amazing at delegating.

It’s stood me in good stead & I believe that the ability to put food together a plate of food is one of the most important life lessons you can pass on. It teaches how to budget, look after your health, brings people together and is a tipping point in marital bliss vs bust up.

So here’s a quick and easy recipe to teach or treat on Mother’s Day – (you might want to supervise the gin bit.)

Cinnamon Brioche French Toast with Strawberry Salad

Serves 1 Yummy Mummy

Hull & halve a punnet of strawberries. Place in a bowl with a handful of blueberries and dust over 1tbsp of icing sugar. Douse with 1 tbsp of damson gin, stir & leave to steep while you make the toast.

Whisk 2 eggs with 1tsp of cinnamon & 1tbsp of caster sugar. Take 3 slices of brioche & soak in the egg mixture, making sure each piece gets well covered. Leave for 2 minutes while you heat a heavy based frying pan. Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil. Once sizzling add the eggy soaked bread & carefully fry until golden brown. Control your heat carefully, the high butter content of the brioche means will burn in an instant.

Once cooked stack the french toast in a heap. Spoon the berries over the top, dust with icing sugar & serve with a shot of maple syrup.

Follow with another important life lesson – how to load a dishwaher.

Happy Mother’s Day!

http://www.theashtonlancaster.com

 

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Fancy a Piece of Sandie?

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Or Derek, Loretta or Phil? I’m on the hunt for a name for this cake. It’s a recipe I invented when I needed a dairy free bake for a guest. The problem is it’s jam packed full of fruit but it’s not a fruit cake.  There are a ton of flavours but not one that shouts out to exclude the others. So I’ve found I end up reeling off all the ingredients.

“Would you like a slice of pineapple, carrot, cranberry, raisin, pineapple, walnut, ginger and honey cake?” Hardly trips off the tongue and it’s a lot to remember. So if you can think of a suitable moniker for this slice of sticky, sweet, spice please let me know.

Preheat your oven to 160*c gas mark 3. Grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin.

Whisk 3 large eggs with 250g of soft brown sugar until well combined. With the mixer still running slowly pour in 250ml of sunflower oil in a thin stream.

To the wet mixture add 200g plain flour, 3 tsp baking power, 100g chopped walnuts, 50g dried cranberries, 50g raisins, 2 grated carrots, small tin of pineapple pieces (Sainsburys value range are the perfect size chunks,) 1 tsp dry ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon, 3 balls of stem ginger very finely chopped into tiny pieces. Stir together to combine.

Pour the mixture into the tin, level & place into the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Once out of the oven prick the top all over with a skewer. Heat 4tbsp of honey until very runny. Pour over the top of the cake turning it to cover the surface. Leave to cool before turning out.

Serve with a pot of tea and a newspaper as we do at The Ashton every weekend. Or Nigel (?) makes a great pudding served warm with Wallings vanilla ice cream

www.theashtonlancaster.com

 

 

 

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Not an Egg McMuffin

 

It’s amazing how much people’s breakfast habits are changing as low carb, gluten free and high protein diets become mainstream.  Bread and pastries just aren’t popular & I’m finding my breakfast baking sits unloved & untouched before becoming afternoon tea for the chickens.

So I’ve started making these high protein egg muffins to add to the breakfast buffet. They’re super easy, super quick, and easily customised to your favourite flavours. I do smoked salmon & Spring onion, sun-dried tomato & goats cheese, fry some pancetta with onion & red peppers, chorizo (again fried) and halloumi. Most things work well except mushroom or red onion – they give them an unfortunate grey pallor.

You’ll need a 6 hole silicone muffin tin (they’re sticky little suckers.)

Lightly whisk 6 large eggs with a pinch of salt & grind of pepper. Place a heaped tablespoon of your favorite filling into each of the muffin holes. Then pour in the egg mix to just below the rim of the muffin tin. Give each muffin a light stir to distribute the filling so it doesn’t all sit at the bottom. If I’m using cheese I’ll usually keep some back to sprinkle on the tops. They’ll rise quite a bit in the oven.

Place in an oven preheated to 180*C gas mark 4 for 20 minutes. They’re done when they spring back when pressed. Allow to cool slightly before turning out.

Best served straight away but any left over make a great lunch time alternative to a sandwich. Whatever you do don’t put them in the fridge, being fridge cold does nothing to improve the taste or texture.

 

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French Fancies

UnknownThis is a great way to use up all the egg whites left from making hollandaise. Friands are small French muffins. The basic ingredients are ground almonds, butter, egg white & icing sugar. They’re usually flavoured with fruit, chocolate or coconut. They’re a great gluten free bake, just replace plain flour with rice flour. The word friand translates as dainty – something you’ll be far from if these become a daily addition to your breakfast menu.

You’ll need a 6 hole silicone muffin tin. 4 egg whites, 70g ground almonds, 110g icing sugar, 75g melted unsalted butter, 50g plain flour, a handful of raspberries.

Preheat the oven to 180C Gas Mark 4. Mix together the dry ingredients with the melted butter. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites to a soft peak. Carefully fold the egg whites into the batter being careful to keep it as airy as possible.

Pour the batter into the muffin tin. Press 4 or 5 raspberries into the top of each friend. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the tops bounce back when pressed. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack.

The high almond content means these little babies store well for a couple of days – if they manage to hang around that long.

http://www.theashtonlancaster.com

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Bounteous Breakfast Buns

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I’ve always struggled with muffins. Mine always seem a disappointment when compared to the huge, billowy confections that the coffee chains produce. But just read the ingredients & you’ll see these are Franken-bakes, chemically inflated & tasting of factory packing.

So I’ve come to terms with my size issues & proudly serve these little beauties for breakfast. I’ve Karen at Hopton House to thank for the recipe, I’ve tweaked it to include a few more ingredients. They’ll keep you fuelled up until lunch time.

No chemical enhancements just good stuff.

www.theashtonlancaster.com

Shopping List:

50g unsalted butter melted

90g soft brown sugar

1 egg

110g wholemeal self raising flour

1tsp baking powder

1tsp cinnamon

1 ripe banana mashed

1 carrot grated

1 handful of sultanas, walnuts & sunflower seeds

rolled oats to top

You’ll need a 6 hole muffin tin lined with paper cake cases. Pre-heat oven to gas 5/190 degrees

In a bowl mix the melted butter, sugar, mashed banana, carrot, sultana, chopped walnuts, seeds, egg & cinnamon. Add the flour & baking powder & mix roughly. If you over-mix the muffins will become tough. Divide the mixture between the cases, sprinkle oats on top  & pop into the oven to bake for 12 minutes. When cooked the tops should bounce back when pressed lightly.

Muffins don’t keep well so eat as soon as they’ve cooled slightly.

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Cadbury’s Fruit & Not

 

Fruit & Nut SliceThose of you who’ve stayed recently will have noticed a much slimmer offering at The Ashton.

Yes the beds are still super kings, the buffet still groans under the weight of breakfast goodies & the cake still gets cut with a generous hand. However your landlady is a shadow of his former self. I’ve been on a Paleo Diet in an effort to shed a bit of wine belly.

For those who don’t know The Paleo Diet or Caveman’s diet basically means eating a diet similar to our non-farming Paleolithic ancestors. Lots of lean meat, vegetables, nuts and some fruit. All good, all the things I like, but something’s missing, those numbskulls  seem to have forgotten to bake anything.

Unfortunately it seems that cake wasn’t a staple back in the Paleolithic day. So based on a loose interpretation of Paleo rules here’s a little slice of something to sweeten  a grey winter afternoon.

Shopping list: I strongly recommend a visit to Aldi. You won’t find everything there but you’ll save a ton on cashews, almonds, coconut & dried fruit. Any large supermarket should have coconut oil. It’ll be in a jar (it’s actually solid & white not liquid) probably with olive & the more exotic oils.

300g nuts (I use a mixture of whole almonds, cashews & pistachios)

100g dried fruit (experiment but cherries, cranberries & flame raisins all work well)

100g butter

1 large tbsp coconut oil

100g honey

50g desiccated, unsweetened coconut

3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Start by roughly chopping your nuts. Spread over a baking tray & toast in a low oven (120 degrees or gas mark 2.) 10 minutes should do but check after 5 & give the tray a shake so the edges don’t burn. Leave to cool.

While your nuts are chilling put the honey, butter, coconut oil & cocoa into a saucepan & heat gently to melt together. You mustn’t let this boil. Once combined leave to cool.

Take a shallow rectangular baking tray (approx 20 x 30cm) & line with greaseproof paper.

Add the nuts to your melted mixture, then fold in the dried fruit & coconut. Mix well to combine before spooning out into the baking tray. Press well down to flatten the mixture into a nice solid layer. Once done place the tray into the freezer & let it set for at least an hour.

Once chilled take the lovely, solid, chocolatey slab out of the tray. Using a sharp knife cut into pieces; squares, rectangles whatever you fancy. Just don’t make them too big as it’s incredibly rich. The bars should be kept chilled either in the fridge or freezer until needed. 10 minutes before you want a sweet treat take a bar out & allow it to warm slightly to get the full flavour hit of cocoa, nuts, fruit & honey.

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