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
  • glacĂ© 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! (: