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

I had to get this!

Ahvid (my lovely boyfriend) keeps saying that I have enough baking books, but I say one can never have enough. I got this absolute STEAL from The Works for £9.99 (RRP around £20 from any other book shop).

Who doesn't like Paul Hollywood? I mean, seriously, who doesn't? This book says "How to Bake" on the front, but I reckon this should be simplified to "How to Bake Bread Properly Without Cheating and/or Having a Baking Disaster". This book definitely has the proper way to make bread. As I said, I don't believe in cheating (using "help" like a liquidiser/electric whisk/breadmaker) to bake, and this book certainly doesn't cut any corners with the recipes. I've skimmed through all of them and they're long, detailed, and very well written. As well as bread, we all know Paul loves his doughs. This book is very reflective of this as most of the recipes you find inside are dough based with the exception of a few cake recipes towards the back. The book is very easy to follow and every recipe is accompanied by a lovely full-page photo to actually see what your final results could be. As well as recipes it's also full of tips and step-by-step how-to photos. Very useful if you're a novice, as some recipe books are  vague and only include the bare minimum. All in all looks like a great addition to my collection and I'll hopefully be making delicious breads from this book.

x x x

Saturday, 1 June 2013

I've Bought Something Else

You may recall that I love The Great British Bake-Off, and it is my hope that I shall be applying for the 2014 season (yessss!) So that I can (hopefully) meet Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. I've bought a new recipe book to help me get there! The Great British Book of Baking! :D

This is definitely something that I'll take a few recipes from to post, there's already a few I have my eye on!! This book has such a variety of stuff in it- It's not all sweet stuff! I'm most excited about the bread. How about you??

x x x

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Payday Treat for Myself

I need to justify the fact that I went a bit crazy in John Lewis today. Who doesn't like to splash out every once in a while? I spent £50 (which was quite reasonable considering my hoard) on some baking things that I must say I actually really needed so I can bake and share more deliciousness with you, of course! So I'm feeling pretty good about myself after this spend, I feel like I deserved it. Today I bought:

  • A muffin/cupcakes/buns tin
  • A rolling pin
  • A set of four silicone utensils; a scoopy spatula, a normal spatula, a pastry brush, and a whisk
  • A cookie/biscuit sheet
  • A loaf tin
  • Pastry cutters

This is totally and completely reasonable, is it not? The reason I have purchased these things is because every time I bake, I use Roxana's (my lovely boyfriend's amazing older sister's) things. I feel bad because obviously this will wear her tins out that were probably expensive too. Once you buy things like this, you never buy them again. They're the type of thing that you have forever and never need to buy again. So here I am, set for life for all the buns, cupcakes, cookies, biscuits, muffins, tarts, and pastries I can ever imagine. I'm quite happy with my purchases. I'll let you know how I get on with them in my next bakes! :D 

x x x

Monday, 27 May 2013

Bakewell Tartlets for My Mama

Since I have dedicated a bake to my dad, it wouldn't be very fair at all to not do one for my mum. While Dad's been an inspiration for baking because of his insatiable hunger for currant buns, Mum has been what's taught me why baking is so much fun. Although she doesn't quite enjoy baking as much as I do, my wanting to bake has come from her. I'm sure you would probably agree, your mum's cooking and baking automatically is a lot more delicious than anyone else's. My mum's cooking has always been amazing, and her baking (although she hasn't baked often) has been great. My mum has lovingly put a lot of effort into countless deliciousness for much longer than my 19 years (because of my older siblings), and it's only fair that I pay homage to her through baking her favourite dessert: a Bakewell! Call it a tart, call it a pudding, a Bakewell tart is definitely in my top 10 favourite things to gobble up. Even though this is highly sacrilegious, Mr. Kipling Bakewell tarts have always been a favourite of mine, too. Fun fact: Bakewell tarts gain their name from the town in Derbyshire, which oddly enough takes its name from the fact that the people in Bakewell could bake, and they could bake well.

While I love a good traditional bakewell tart, I prefer a cherry bakewell, and the following recipe will yield mini cherry bakewell tarts.

You will need to preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4

For the pastry (shortcrust)
  • 225g / 8 oz plain flour
  • 110g / 4 oz butter
  • 80g / 3 oz sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • Milk

And for the filling (we call this type of filling a frangipane)
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, plus one yolk, beaten
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 50g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 5 tbsp seedless raspberry jam, warmed in a pan
  • 175g icing sugar
  • glacé cherries, halved, to decorate

  • Disposable gloves (if you don't like getting your hands buttery)
  • Rolling pin
  • Big mixing bowl
  • Cupcake/tartlet/bun baking tin
  • Wooden/metal spoon
  • Whisk
  • Baking beans
  • Sieve
  • Pastry cutters
  • Cling film
  • Baking parchment/tinfoil
  • Little jug

Making pastry is fun, I love doing it, so all aboard the amazingly entertaining pastry rollercoaster, whee!  Sweet pastry is a little less forgiving to roll out than basic pastry, but it is delicious and the tarts would be nothing without it. This pastry recipe should make enough for the tartlets and maybe have a bit left over. I hope you don't mind getting a bit dirty, because this will involve using your hands: 

So, first you'll need your flour and butter. Get them both in the bowl together and with your fingertips, gently break the butter down into smaller chunks, then tumble it around in the bowl to ensure it's coated with flour. Keep on breaking the butter into chunks, all the while making sure you're tumbling. Be careful! If you're hot-handed like me you may well melt the butter, so work quickly! Eventually you should end up with a bread crumb like mixture in the bowl, and it'll look fluffy. Now stir your sugar in until evenly combined. Once the sugar's in, this bit gets a tad trickier, because you don't want to make a sticky dough, but you do want a nice smooth, soft one. Add your egg and stir it with a knife until combined, then you need to add your milk. Stir it with your knife, then you need to knead with your hands to fully combine it until it's soft, but not sticky!

Filling your cases now will be a little tricky because of the nature of the dough, but you'll be okay if you roll it the right way: We don't want to dry the dough out by adding more flour so it won't stick, so if you roll it out between two pieces of cling film, it won't stick to either your surface or your rolling pin. Always roll in the same direction, but don't worry about keeping it circular. The pastry cases will be no good if they're too thick, so roll it out to a little thinner than a pound coin. Trust me. I know you think this is too thin. It's not. Cut the circles out and make sure you handle them carefully. Before you press them into the tin you should lightly grease it with a bit of butter just to be sure they'll pop out when they're baked. Line them with some baking parchment or tinfoil and then fill them with the baking beans. Pop the tin in the fridge for around 20 minutes or so.

Blind bake: Pierce them all on the bottom with a fork before you put them in the oven to prevent any air getting trapped underneath, then pop them in for 15 minutes. After this time has passed, take the baking beans and foul out, then bake for a further 5 minutes until you've achieved a sandy colour.

And now for the filling! Just like our last bake, you'll want to cream the butter and sugar together until you've a light fluffy texture and a light yellow colour. Mix your almond flavour into the eggs and beat them in the little jug until they're smoothly combined, then you'll need to pour it bit by bit into the mixture. Every time you add a bit, whisk it like crazy (my sincere apologies to your arms) to ensure it's combined, or the mixture will curdle. Now mix in your ground almonds until the mixture is smooth. The last step is to add your flour and baking powder, and as before we'll sift to ensure a fluffy texture in the filling. This frangipane filling should be creamy and fluffy when it's baked. Now to fold it in; remember to do this slowly and lovingly until the mixture is smooth and silky, quite like satin but in liquid form.

And now the second and final bake! Yay! We're almost done, hang in there! In the pastry cases, with the width of one pound coin again (I like my pound coins, okay?), spread a layer of jam, and then carefully spoon the almond mixture over the jam. Bake them on a lower shelf of the oven for around 30-40 minutes until set.

When you take them out, make sure they're cool before adding the icing. For the icing, put enough water into it so it coats the back of your spoon, then add some almond flavouring to it. Just a couple drops will do, then spread the mixture over the tartlets. Add your glacé cherry in the middle, then wait for the icing to set.

Preparation photostrips :)

If the icing is set, what are you waiting for?! Get munching! :D

I hope you've enjoyed this bake, in my family (especially Mum and I) we certainly do!

Thanks ever so much for reading! Until next time!

x x x

Thursday, 23 May 2013

A Tribute to My Pops - Currant Buns

Hello kindly readers and welcome to Bake Numero Uno! Now, it's absolutely imperative that we get to the classics (in my eyes) before we go on to more daring bakes. This recipe personally has been tested so many times that I must say, it really isn't far off perfect. As suggested in the title, this indeed is my Pop's (Dad's) favourite thing to have with a cup of tea. -Hi Dad!- At first, it was always Grandma that made these little buns prior to my dad's arrival at her house. This was always something that she had around the house if Dad was coming, and if she hadn't made them, Dad would humorously tell her off and say "I don't get where I am today without having a currant bun!". Dad knew that he could only expect these at her house, but his addiction was far too great to be waiting around, so he asked my mum and I to have a go at baking them. It must have been a success, because he kept asking for them again! Here's the recipe:

So, we start off with a classic vanilla sponge, it's ever so simple. Usually we'd be working in grams, but for this particular sponge recipe, it's much easier to work in ounces, and it will ALWAYS come out perfect (unless, of course, you forget something). So, here goes!

You'll want to preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas3. Preheating the oven is important, guys! It's not a step to skip. If you don't preheat, then once you've finished mixing and the cakes are ready to go in, the oven won't be ready and you'll be wasting time! 

(This depends on how many you want to make, this one will make a medium batch of about 18)
  • 6oz caster sugar
  • 6oz unsalted butter (or, Lurpak "Slightly Salted" will do, a bit of salt will aid the rise)
  • 6oz self-raising (important!!) flour
  • 3 medium/large eggs
  • 2/3oz of dried fruit i.e. currants/sultanas/raisins (It doesn't have to be currants, they're called currant buns but I always use raisins as this is Dad's preference)
  • A good plop of vanilla essence (I like to use the £5 good quality one, it creates a more flavourful bun)

What you'll need :)

  • Big whisk
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Large wooden or metal spoon
  • A little jug
  • Sieve (big or small will do)
  • Spatula for getting the last bit out the bowl (unless you want to lick it!! Hah!)
  • Cupcake/bun baking tin
  • Cupcake/bun cases (these can either be the disposable kind, or the re-usable silicone kind)

This recipe is wonderful and simple because you can adapt it according to how many cakes you want to make, so 8/8/8/4, 6/6/6/3, 4/4/4/2, and the list goes on. I am using normal paper baking cases, but you can use silicone cups as these eliminate the extra rubbish that using paper cases creates. You don't need to grease the cases or the tin. Ah, life is simple! Now to start the mixture: This is not an all-in-one. I hate that method and I never do it. This is the step-by-step method, and believe me if you follow this closely you won't have any problems. 

Cream the butter and sugar together in the big bowl. I'm watching you. If you used an electric whisk, you're cheatin'! Use a big whisk or the wooden spoon (sorry, your arm isn't going to like this!) and beat the butter and sugar together until completely combined, light and fluffy in texture, and a very light yellow. You must stop when this is achieved because it's important to not over-beat. (This can knock the air out of the mixture and the cakes will be dense instead of fluffy.)

In the small jug, whisk the eggs together with the vanilla essence until they're one smooth consistency, but don't overdo it! Then -this is the slightly tricky part- you'll need to beat the eggs/essence into the butter/sugar mixture. Here you can risk curdling, so add it a tiny, tiny bit at a time, and every time you add a little bit, beat it until it's 100% smooth. This can take some time, but if you want perfect cakes, your arm will have to suffer! 

Once you've added all the eggs to the mixture, now is the time to add your flour. This is where the sieve comes in! We sift our flour into the bowl to get rid of impurities, and to also add air to the flour so it doesn't form lumps in the batter. So, you've sifted it all into the bowl, and now you've got to fold it with the wooden or large metal spoon into the mixture. I like to use the adverb lovingly to convey the care and gentleness with which you should fold. It's important that once you've combined it you don't work it anymore because you risk knocking air out of the mixture and having flat cakes. The last step is to again, lovingly, fold the fruit into the mixture until you can see they're evenly dispersed. Now, evenly portion out the mixture into the cases which should already be in the tin. When you fill the cases, fill them about 2/3 of the way full. Give the tin a bit of a wobble so the mixture levels out and is smooth.

Now, the bake! Pop them in the oven, making sure that it's heated up all the way before the buns go anywhere near. I like to put them in for around 20-30 minutes. It'll vary from oven to oven, though. Once they're in, do not under any circumstances open the oven until you've got about 5 minutes left. They'll drop. This means they they'll go all flat and un-adorable, and may even have a dip in the middle. In order to check that the buns are done, open the oven and lightly press on the top of a bun, if it springs back up, they're ready. An alternate way would be to stick a skewer or toothpick in the centre, and if it comes out clean without any residue, they're done. The cakes should be golden in colour.

Step by step photostrips (:

Serve them warm, with a nice cuppa. 

Enjoy! :D

I hope you've enjoyed this first bake, and I hope these little buns bring as much joy to your family as they have mine. Until next time!

x x x

Tuesday, 21 May 2013


Hello Interwebs, my name is Bea, and this be my very very first blog! Aren't you all so excited!? I know I am. Here, in this hallowed space that I will now call Bea's Bakes, is where I will share with you delectable and delicious concoctions of loveliness (or in simple terms, I'm going to bake things and post them here) 

First of all, I'd like to say thank you, Interwebs, for allowing this here project to go ahead.

Second of all, the bit where I tell you about me:
As you probably have sussed, my name is Bea. It is short for Beatrice. Now that we've got the terms of address aside, I can speak about the important stuff: Baking. Stress-reliever, stress-inducer, hobby, family-feud-diffuser, whatever you want to call it. I consider it to be one of life's importances, much to my mum's chagrin because -let's face it- every time I bake at home it looks like World War 3 has commenced in the kitchen. But that's besides the point- back to the about me bit...

20 Facts About Me 

Me with my boyfriend, Ahvid (:
  • I was born on June 12, 1993, in Lincoln, UK, and since then have been surgically attached to a whisk.
  • My earliest memory of baking was making heart-shaped biscuits, and I remember insisting they were blue (sorry mum). 
  • The recipe that I have practiced the most would definitely be currant buns (my dad's favourite).
  • As previously stated, I am the world's messiest baker.
  • I can't bake without a proper set of electric kitchen scales (I can't measure by eye)
  • I love pastel colours
  • Currently shooting with a Nikon D90 (all my photos will be either this or iPhone)
  • I have a boyfriend whose name is Ahvid.
  • I think using an electric whisk or food processor is cheating, unless it's to make Chantilly cream or meringues.
  • I currently work for Apple, and my colleagues are my bakery guinea pigs (apart from my family).
  • Biscuits are my weakness (baking them, not eating them, hah! Okay, I lied, I love eating them).
  • I have never attempted a savoury bake (this will change).
  • My baking idols are my nan and Delia Smith.
  • My favourite cake is carrot cake.
  • I wish to start a bakery very soon.
  • My parents live a long way away in Orlando, Florida. ):
  • I live in London.
  • I'm addicted to watching The Great British Bake Off, but I must confess I hate Mary Berry.
  • I love scones. A lot.

and finally

I really, really hope that this blog will be a success.

And so this concludes my very first post. Baking posts will commence soon.

Thanks for reading! (: