Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Not-So-Cornish Pasties (À La France!)

Hello one and all of my lovely readers, I'm back with a vengeance! Back with some pasty power! I'll have you know that these were my first attemt at pasties, so don't laugh if they think they're funny looking! I love a good pasty, they're a classic. You can have them on the go, of you can have them at home. I see pasties as a sort-of cold weather food to warm you up, so with the cold weather swooping in this September I thought it'd be nice to give them a try. I took the pastry recipe from my Great British Book of Baking, but the filling is entirely my own recipe, à la france meaning French inspired, of course! If you aren't a fan of strong camembert, or want something stronger, the cheese can be substituted for any French cheese (Roquefort, Brie, or Chèvre to name a few). But yes, the filling is basically cheese, red onion, and bacon. 

For the Pastry (this pastry will yield 4 small Pasties, you can double it and make 8 small or 6 larger)

  • 225g/8oz Strong white bread flour
  • sprinkling of salt
  • 50g/7.6oz Butter (chilled in the freezer but NOT FROZEN!)
  • 50g/7.6oz Lard (you have to, otherwise the pastry won't be so tasty!) (chilled in the freezer and once again, not frozen!)
  • 100ml/3.3(USA)fl oz Ice cold water
For the filling (double this for 8 or 6 pasties, this yields 4)
  • 1/2 a red onion, diced
  • 100g (about 4 rashers) of unsmoked streaky bacon
  • 100g Camembert de Normandie (or any other french cheese that you prefer)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Beaten egg to glaze
  • butter knife
  • One or two baking trays depending on how many you're making
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Sieve
  • Big mixing bowl
  • Cheese grater
  • Little jug
  • Large airtight container or cling film
  • sharp knive or scissors to cut your bacon
  • fork
  • rolling pin
  • pastry brush
Method (the pastry's ever so quick and easy!):
First, preheat your oven to 220C/425F/Gas7. You should make the pastry first to give it time to cool in the fridge while you prepare the filling, plus, it's the most fun part! Sieve your flour and salt into a big mixing bowl ready for your fat and water, then you need to grate your chilled fats into the flour. If you find that a little difficult like I did (because my bowl has high sides and I'm rather short, so I was lifting my arms up more to grate, and you know, I'm lazy!), then not to worry, just grate it into a seperate small bowl and transfer it afterwards. When you've grated it all in, get your butter knife and stir it in with that (or if you've got one, wack it in your mixer with the folding attachment and churn on a low speed) until it becomes sort of a rough, breadcrumby mixture that's a bit fluffy. Now for the next bit I find it vastly easier to just pour the icy water in really slowly while my mixer is going, but for all who haven't been blessed by the KitchenAid gods you can use your (clean) hands (you get a better feel for the pastry anyway, I always take my pastry out the mixer afterwards to feel it up, ha!). Pour your water in slowly with your less dominant hand and use your "power hand" as your mixer and squeeze the water through the fat and flour with your fingers, but don't handle it too much as you don't want to warm it up and make it go sticky. You're going for a soft dough that isn't at all sticky, or maybe a tiny tiny bit sticky, so pour your water in until you achieve this consistency. Although the 100ml is the perfect amount for me, flour can differ and you may need more or less so adjust accordingly! When you've finished the pastry, wrap it up in some cling film, or pop it in an airtight container, and let it sit in the fridge for at least half an hour while you prepare the fillings. 

The filling is quite easy to prepare, just cut up your bacon into squares about the size of a 2p coin, (or a quarter, you americans!) and then dice your onions and add it to the same bowl as your camembert. Mix the onions and camembert up with a fork until the cheese melts and you have a cheesy oniony paste, then divide your ingredients into four equal portions ready for your pasties. The time you took to do that should have been enough to chill your pastry thoroughly (unless you're a faster worker than I am). When you take it out, be careful not to handle it a lot or else it'll be difficult to roll and assemble the pasties. Roll it into a sausage and cut it equally into 4 sections, then sprinkle your surface with flour and get rolling. If you form your sausage section into a little ball it'll be easier to roll a circle, but it doesn't have to be perfect so don't worry yourself if it's a bit lop-sided! Once you're all rolled out, add your cheese and onion mixture to one side of the circle but keep it at least an inch away from the edge, season it with sea salt and white pepper, and then lay the bacon squares on top. Before you fold over, you'll need to bush a bit of your beaten egg on your cheese and bacon side but not a lot as you don't want it to get gooey. Now, carefully fold the other side of the pastry over the filling and press around the edges firmly so you feel the stick happening, then start at one side of the pasty and fold the ends over and over on itself to create a rope pattern (this is how we make sure the filling doesn't escape). When you get to the end tuck it under the pasty. It seems technical but it's quite easy and once you get the rhythm of it you can work quite quickly! Lay your pasties on the baking sheet and brush them lightly with your egg wash and then pierce them with a knife to make two small holes on each of them for the steam to escape.

I've always thought they look a little like crabs for some reason?
Bake them in the oven for about 20 minutes. For the first 10 minutes bake them at 220C/425/Gas7 and then drop the temperature to 180C/350F/Gas4 and continue to bake for the last 10 minutes or until golden brown (all ovens are different, so adjust the time accordingly!)

When you take them out they'll be hot hot hot so be careful! You may want to let them cool for five minutes before serving just in case, you don't want to burn your tongue! 

Since it's cheese, they may leak just a little bit but don't worry! They'll still be delicious! ;)

Yum yum! I hope you find them to be tasty, you may even want more than one!

x x x

I Feel Rather Bad

Okay, okay, so I've neglected the blog for a while. I feel awful, I feel like I haven't done any proper work in AGES! I have been lazy, but also, I moved house! I moved house in August, and I've finally got my act together and sorted through my clothes which was all in a big heap on the floor... Okay, I couldn't even see the floor, HA! Slovenly. Truly. But now I've properly sorted through the clothes and made that spare room into my lovely new office! From which I shall share with you my creations.

Anyway, enough of that. YES, I have been baking! I have baked in my shiny new kitchen with my new KitchenAid mixer that I got for my birthday and I have few treats to share with you (including my first savoury bakes!) so watch this space!

I thought you'd all like a photo as proof that I am still alive! ;)
Lots of love from Bea

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes (Petits Fours Style) for Rachel

As I mentioned before, I have a lot of brothers and sisters. Six in total! Rachel is one of my middle siblings and like Maddie and I, she loves chocolate... With a twist! Rachel says that her favourite combination of all time is chocolate and peanut butter, any bake that puts those two together is absolute heaven, and I must say that it's hard to disagree with her. Who doesn't like peanut butter and chocolate? Even if it's not a bake, peanut butter and chocolate are delicious together; yum yum, Reeses! Rachel is a mum to three of the most adorable kids on the planet, William, who's 11, Lucy, who'll be 10 this month, and Emmie Rose (my princess!!) who is 3 in December. I thought that while I should bake for Rachel's tastebuds, I should also make the bakes fun and cute to also cater for the kids, so I've made adorable mini mini chocolate peanut butter cupcakes (or Petits Fours, if you're fancy like that!) with peanut butter buttercream icing. Plus, the kiddos aren't dissimilar, I bet they love peanut butter and chocolate too! Here's the recipe:

Ingredients for the sponge:
  • 6oz light brown moscavado sugar
  • 4oz unsalted butter (or, Lurpak "Slightly Salted", the salt will aid the rise)
  • 2oz smooth peanut butter
  • 5oz self-raising flour
  • 1oz cocoa powder 
  • 3 medium/large eggs
  • A big plop of vanilla essence

And for the decoration:
  • 3oz butter, softened
  • 8oz creamy peanut butter
  • 8oz icing sugar
  • Milk until it's smooth

  • Big whisk
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Large wooden or metal spoon
  • Little jug
  • Sieve
  • Spatula
  • Cupcake/bun baking tin
  • Cupcake/bun cases (these can either be the disposable kind, or the re-usable silicone kind)
  • Electric mixer
  • Piping bag

So this is a variation of my classic vanilla sponge recipe, and like its vanilla cousin, it's very easy to follow! Like last time (currant buns) we're working in ounces. You'll need to preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas3.

Cream the butter and sugar together in the big bowl with your big whisk. Sometimes it's easier to use a wooden spoon. You'll see why because the butter likes to get stuck inside the whisk. Beat them together until they're light and fluffy in texture, then beat in the creamy peanut butter. Sorry, your arm's going to suffer :( Then, in your little jug, like usual, whisk the eggs together with the vanilla essence until they're one smooth consistency. Now beat the eggs/essence into the peanut butter/butter/sugar mixture. Add it a little bit at a time, and every time you add, beat it until it's smooth. Now, for the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder). Sift it all into the bowl, and now you've got to fold it lovingly with the wooden or metal spoon into the mixture, making sure you don't mix with any vigour. 

Evenly portion out the mixture into cake cases which should already be in the tin. When you fill the cases, fill them about 2/3 of the way full. Tap the tin on the work surface so the mixture levels out and is smooth. Pop them in the oven for around 25 minutes. In order to check that the buns are done, do the skewer trick! Stab one of your little cakes with skewer or toothpick in the centre, and if it comes out clean without any residue, they're done. Or, you could opt for the lass violent way and lightly press on the tops of the cakes. If they're springy and the top pops back up, they're done. Cool them on your cooling racks until they're cold.

Make sure your butter is room temperature, and your cakes are 100% cool before decoration.  I know, I know, I've said that using an electric whisk or mixer is cheating, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! Especially when you've just been beating the batter of the cakes! Your arm gets tired! But the real reason is that the electric mixer can add the fluffiness that only an electric mixer can do (unless you're Megawoman/Megaman and can whisk at a constant fast pace for at least an hour). Put your butter and peanut butter into your bowl and beat with the electric mixer until it's fluff-ay, not just fluffy (ha!). Now bit by bit add in the icing sugar making sure you're constantly mixing. When it's nice and thick, add your milk 1 teaspoon at a time until all the sugar is smoothly mixed in and the frosting is a little thick but still very malleable. Now beat again until you achieve fluff-ay-ness (this should take around 3 minutes on a constant fast speed). Transfer all your mixture into a piping bag. You don't need a tip, you can just use the bag, unless you're a piping boss and want to get fancy. Now it's time to pipe onto the cakes. If you're not experienced in piping, don't worry, it's not that hard if you have a nice, smooth textured icing. Put the tip of the bag in the middle of the cupcake, squeeze to create a blob that goes to about half the diameter of the cake, then bring your hand around that blob in a circle, then on top of the blob all in a swirling motion. When you're at the top, stop squeezing and take your bag away to create a little spiked peak. Voilà! 

When you've finished all of them, they're ready to eat!

Perfect for parties, or even just for your own personal indulgence ;)

I hope you find these cupcakes to be delicious and cute!

x x x

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

People of the World, You Can Now Buy Things from Bea's Bakes!

HELLO EVERYONE!! This is an extremely important post to tell you all about NY NEW SHOP!! :D how exciting can you get?? Bea's Bakes is now a fully functional online bakery and you, yes you, can actually buy things from Bea. I must first apologise because unless you're based in London, I won't be able to deliver cakes to you, as I will be personally delivering cakes and bakes to your door. Anyhow, have fun, and please order yourself something delicious!! ;) 

All you have to do to order from me is go to this link 

It will be deliciously delicious! :D:D:D


x x x

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Donk's Key Lime Pie

Donk. It's short for Donkey, and we call him Donkey supposedly because of his big ears.  My Uncle Donk, or Uncle Richard, is one of my dad's oldest mates and I've known him for as long as I can remember. As well as being one of the longest standing friends of my dad's, he is also the most hilarious man I know. I can't really explain why, but he's just that hilarious. I can't talk to him without laughing! I was due to go home up north a couple weeks ago, and my mum was on the phone beforehand when she said "hold on, your Uncle Donk wants a word". I immediately started laughing anticipating the hilarious conversation that would ensue... When he came on the line, to my surprise he told me he'd been reading Bea's Bakes, and requested a key lime pie "And not a sweet one, I like it tart!" he said. After setting to work finding a great pie to feature on here as well as something that would be satisfyingly tart, I found a recipe that I was quite happy with in my copy of Nigella Lawson's book How to be a Domestic Goddess 

It's a really great Key Lime pie, but not a traditional American refrigerated key lime with gelatine. I always find those too sweet anyway! This is a baked key lime pie, with a traditional British feel to it. As much as I love Nigella, I knew her recipe wouldn't be tart enough, so I added an extra lime for good luck. Here's the recipe:

You'll need to preheat your oven to 160C/320F/Gas4!


For the filling...

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 397g tin of condensed milk
  • zest and juice from 6 limes
  • 3 large egg whites

For the base...

  • 200g Digestive biccies
  • 50g Unsalted butter, left out until really soft


  • Potato masher or blender
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Medium jug
  • Wooden spoon
  • 30cm cake/tart tin
  • Electric hand mixer
  • Normal whisk
  • Paper cake tin liner
I kid you not- this is the easiest pie I've ever made, it's very simple, and SO delicious. First thing to do is possibly the most fun part- crushing the biscuits! You can use a blender for this but it's much less stress-relieving if you bash them up yourself, ha! Make sure you grind them up into a really fine powder, and then add the butter, stirring until it looks nice and oily/melted. Now to press it into the tin: don't just press it onto the bottom, press it up the sides of the tin too, and make sure it's evenly distributed. You could line the tin with a cake tin liner, I did this and it made it much easier to remove the pie from the tin so I would definitely recommend it! Now put the tin in the fridge while you make the filling to keep it nice and firm/fresh. The filling is pretty easily done, just whisk the egg yolks until they're a bit fluffy and lighter in colour, then zest and juice all 6 limes. Whisk that in and make sure it doesn't curdle or go lumpy by making sure you whisk really fast (Tired arm? Make the motion come from the flick of your wrist instead of your whole arm. You can whisk a lot faster without becoming as tired). Now add the can of condensed milk, and again whisk it in quickly to avoid lumps. Finally, the last part will be to whisk the egg whites (not by hand, or you'll actually die of exhaustion!!). Use your electric mixer and beat until it forms stiff, fluffy peaks. Once this is achieved, very, very, lovingly and gently fold them in to the eggy mixture without knocking the air out too much. Make sure you completely combine it, because you don't want to have random raw bits of egg white.

Fill your base up until it's nice and full, and bake for about 30 minutes. I found that it was way too wobbly after this even though when you bake a tart like this it should have a wobble, so I turned off the oven and left it in there to cool- it worked! So if you do that it'll come out with a bit of a wobble but be nice and brown. Nigella warned that after cooling it would sink, but not to worry as "that's just the way it goes". Mine did indeed sink, but honestly it won't change the taste. It was still delicious!

Photos by Ahvid <3

Serve warm with some single cream, it's very rich so the cream complements it nicely.

Donk was well impressed! :D

So delicious! Until next time!

x x x

A Batch of Chewy Chocolate Brownies for Maddie

My big sister Maddie and I have quite a lot in common. One of the most important similarities (which I'm sure she would agree) is that we both LOVE chocolate, and make no secret of it! Usually when we have a family meal at a restaurant and everyone else is stuffed, Maddie and I always channel our inner ability of "second special chocolate stomach" to conquer a third course. They're usually very rich and we'll feel rather podge afterwards, but we'll both agree that it is WORTH IT! As I am doing a little dedication bake for all of my favourite people, I must include my 6 siblings. Yes, six. Relax, we aren't all from the same mum! Maddie is one of my eldest siblings, and although there's an age gap between us, we're still really close and I love her to bits. Maddie's favourite baked treat is a chocolate brownie, so here's the recipe:

You'll need to preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4!

Ingredients (Makes 16 small brownies, or 9 slightly bigger ones):
  • 250g/9oz Unsalted butter (or lurpak "Slightly Salted" will do! As I always say, a bit of salt will aid the rise!)
  • 200g/7oz of AT LEAST 70% dark chocolate, chopped. Make sure you buy top quality, I like Green & Black's the most.
  • 150g/5.5oz of chopped walnuts, macadamia nuts, and pecan nuts (I always love to put nuts in my brownies, don't know about you, so you can leave this out if you like)
  • 80g/2.75oz Cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 65g/2.25oz Plain flour
  • 350g/12.5oz Caster Sugar
  • 1 good plop of vanilla essence
  • 4 Large Organic Eggs (Organic are always bigger, and they're from healthier hens!)
  • 30cm/12" Square baking tin
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Medium mixing bowl x2
  • Large saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Sieve
  • Little jug
  • Silicone spatula
  • Knife
  • Whisk
This recipe is a variation of Jamie Oliver's recipe from his book Cook with Jamie. This is such a quick and easy recipe, and it makes such delicious brownies!

In your bowl over your saucepan of simmering water (simmering should look like the bubbles in your champagne) melt the butter and the chocolate together (Bain-Marie), stirring constantly until it's melted. Take it off immediately when you've melted it, as you don't want to separate the chocolate. If you're adding the nuts, do so now, and gently mix them in until well dispersed. In your other mixing bowl, combine your dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder) and then sift them over the top of your chocolate and nuts. We mix it all beforehand so that we can get an even distribution of the dry ingredients in the batter. Now we fold it all together. By now, you'll probably remember to fold lovingly ;) Make sure you mix it well so it's completely combined. You should get a thick consistency. Now in your little jug with your whisk, beat those eggs! When you add the eggs, remember to add a little bit at a time and whisk/beat after every addition until smooth. When you've added all the eggs, you should have a very silky consistency. Bam!

Line your baking tin with the greaseproof paper, and then dollop all of the mixture in, making sure you get all the last bits out with the spatula (unless someone's around to lick the bowl!). It should spread and level out itself, but give it a little jiggle to encourage it to the edges of the pan. Make sure it does reach the edges!! Pop them in the oven now for around 25/35 minutes. The trick is that you don't want to overcook them. Remember the clean skewer trick? Big no-no for brownies! It needs to come out covered in brown residue (I know what you're thinking, you dirty mind! Ha!). When you take the brownies out, they should be springy on the outside and still very gooey in the middle, you may even think they're raw, but trust me! Let them cool in the tray completely before taking them out and then put them in the fridge, they will solidify in there as they come out very very gooey. After cooling, it's time to cut them. Do NOT cut them in the tin, you'll scratch the non-stick covering and ruin it! Instead, separate the edges of the brownie from the tin and do the old fliparoo (place a chopping board on the top of the tin, holding it with one hand on the top, and the other on the bottom, then flip it over. Tap the bottom of the tin and the brownies should dislodge themselves.) Cut them evenly into squares, any knife will do as they're easy to cut.

You can heat them up after cutting and enjoy them warm with vanilla ice-cream, but I prefer them cold!

To die for! :D

I hope this recipe has satisfied the chocolate monster within you, it certainly quashes the devil within Maddie and I!

x x x

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies for my Fishboy

He is called Fishboy because he is the only fish in the sea. My fishboy (or my boyfriend), Ahvid has received the benefits of my baking for almost two years now, but in all this time I have failed to deliver him a perfect batch of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, which he says are his favourite. I've tried once, but I didn't think they were very good, despite him saying they were. I still don't believe him that they were any good. So, here I must make the perfect batch of cookies to serve a perfect batch of boyfriend. He makes me very happy, more happy than even baking can make me. One day with his businessy mind, we'll start a little bakery together. Hopefully! He is the best, and he deserves much more than cookies, but this is how I can appreciate him through the internet among many other ways:

This will make a batch of 30 delicious cookies with a chewy/gooey texture. Great with a glass of milk!! Just to spark it up a little bit, instead of using normal chocolate chips I used Galaxy Counters (Galaxy chocolate is way better in my opinion) and I used some Reeses Pieces candy. Here's the ingredients:

  • 150g salted butter, softened
  • 100g of crunchy peanut butter (you can also use smooth but I prefer it crunchy to get the bits of peanut in there!)
  • 80g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 80g granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 225g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Two bags of Galaxy Counters
  • Two (large) bags of Reeses Pieces
  • Baking tray or sheet
  • Non-stick baking paper
  • Whisk
  • Wooden spoon
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Little jug
  • Sieve
  • Measuring spoons
  • Ice cream scooper (with the little release button) or teaspoon
  • Spatula
The method is very simple and easy, even the least experienced baker could do it!  You'll need to preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5 before we start.

The first bit (if you've followed my other two recipes) will be very familiar to you: you'll need to beat the butter and both sugars together until they're light and creamy in texture. Now, add the peanut butter and again beat until it's very smooth and not stiff. In the little jug, beat the egg and vanilla essence until combined, then as per usual add tiny bits at a time to the butter mixture, beating after every addition until it's perfectly smooth. Remember, don't add it all at once or you risk curdling the mixture! Now for all the dry ingredients: the salt, bicarb, and flour. Sift those all at the same time onto the mixture, and then lovingly fold it in with a careful hand. Lastly add the chocolate and Reeses and the mixture is done . It should be thick, soft, sticky, creamy, and come together like a very soft, plyable dough. 

The bake: You should line your baking tray with the paper and then with your ice cream scooper or spoon dollop the mixture on to the tray, making sure you leave quite a bit of space between each dollop. Do not crowd the tray or you'll end up with one giant square cookie! You may need to bake them in a couple batches if you can't fit them all on your tray. Now bake them in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the edges are golden and the middles still a bit squishy

Once you take them out, they'll look and feel squishy like they're undercooked, but do not put them back in the oven! Cookies come out of the oven being very squishy, and then firm up once you leave them to cool for a little while. So, when you've taken them out, leave them to cool on the tray for at least 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack with your spatula. You can risk breaking them if you use your hands, so I'd advise to use a very thin spatula to get underneath them and lift them onto the rack. Don't leave them to cool too long though, because they're best when served warm! :D

Enjoy them with a cold glass of milk.

Nom nom nom! :D

I hope these cookies make you feel very American, they certainly evoke that kind of feeling in me! Until next time!

x x x