Friday, 29 June 2012

Armed Forces Day 2012

BakingBar is proud to support Armed Forces Day in the UK on Sat 30th June 2012. We believe it is extremely important to honour our fighting forces, past and present, whether they are Army, Navy or Royal Air Force.

The Armed Forces Day is a perfect opportunity for you to show off your baking skills or even learn something completely new. We have put together a couple of British Armed Forces themed recipes together. We hope you enjoy celebrating Armed Forces Day whether you are attending one of the many official and non-official parties or simply watching it live on British TV.
You can find out what events are on near you by clicking here.

Good Old British Rock Cakes!

Also called 'Rock Buns' these originated in Britain and were promoted by the Ministry of Food during WW2. Still as popular today in many parts of Britain as they were then.

The Ingredients:
220g NEILL'S® Plain Flour
85g Light Brown Sugar
120g Butter
90g Raisins
1 egg
1.5tbsp Milk
2 tsp Baking Powder
The Ingredients:
Preheat oven to 190c
Sieve the flour and baking powder together, add the butter and use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour. Do this for a few minutes until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Mix the raisins into the brown sugar and then pour this into the flour mixture. Mix well.
In a small bowl beat the egg and milk together and then pour this into the flour mixture too.
Mix well until the mixture forms a moist dough.
Spoon dollops of this mixture onto a baking sheet (you will be able to make about 8 with this recipe)
Sprinkle with Demerara sugar (or more light brown if you don't have Demerara)
Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 mins
Remove and allow to cool.

Jam Pom Poms

The Ingredients:
150 g butter
150 g sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
0.5tsp Strawberry Extract (optional)
150 g NEILL'S® self-raising flour

50g Desiccated/Shredded Coconut
Half a large Jar of Jam
The How-To :
Preheat over to 180 degrees C
Cream the butter and sugar together until creamy and light in colour
Beat in 1 egg at a time until well combined
Beat in the vanilla extract and strawberry extract (optional but makes these even tastier)
Sieve the flour and slowly fold this into the mixture. (Do not over-stir)
Evenly divide mixture between 12 cupcake cases and place in the centre of the oven for approx 16 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Now how to make them delicious!
In a small bowl beat the jam together with 3tbsp of cold water. This will make it easier to dip the cupcakes in.
Pour the coconut into a shallow dish so its easy to dip and roll.
When the cupcakes are cool. Remove from their cases, dip in the jam and roll in the coconut until completely covered.

You're Done

Miniature Gin & Tonic Cakes

This is a fab 'grown ups' cake recipe which is super simple yet sophisticated. This recipe uses a marmalade created by the hugely talented Suzanne at Baked In Belfast. Suzanne has created a super marmalade using Gin & Tonic. What could be better?! You can buy online from her store here. Alternatively use your favourite lemon or lime marmalade.

The Ingredients:
175g Caster Sugar
175g NEILL'S®Self Raising Flour
175g Butter
3 Eggs
2tsp Lemon Extract/Essence
1/4 Jar of Gin & Tonic Marmalade (or similar)
50g Shredded Coconut (optional)
Preheat oven to 180c
Prepare either your favourite miniature cake tins (I use Dr Oetker mini bread tins)
Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth
Beat in the 3 eggs one at a time until well combined
Beat in the lemon flavouring
Sieve the flour into a separate bowl and fold this into the mixture
Continue to mix until all ingredients are combined but do not over mix
Pour the mixture into the tins. (with this recipe I can make 6 small 3x2.5 inch cakes)
Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 mins before turning out
While still warm spread some marmalade on top
For extra indulgence preheat a small pan on low heat and toast some coconut until light golden brown and sprinkle on top of the marmalade covered cakes.

You're Done!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

The IngenuiTEA

Tea is one of the most widely drank beverages in the world. With an estimated phenomenal 165 million cups being drank in the UK alone each and every day!! Most tea is produced in China and India but there are literally thousands of varieties to choose from, with new varieties being developed all the time. It is thought that tea was first drank in China around 5000 years ago but only came to Europe around 1560 and believed to have been introduced to Britain by the Dutch, gaining social acceptance after Charles II’s Portuguese wife Catherine of Braganza introduced tea to her court.

The history of tea is long and complex but it is clear that tea has grown in popularity ever since being introduced and has now become a custom which few of us even think about anymore.

BakingBar are huge fans of tea, since a cup of tea goes so well with a slice of cake of course!

The most popular tea which we all drink is unfortunately from a teabag and normally served with milk. This is normally driven by its convenience instead of brewing a teapot of tea. Adagio have come up with a solution which is so modern and convenient we just had to try it out!

The IngenuiTEA

The IngenuiTEA is a revolutionary teapot. It doesn’t look or act like any teapot you will have used before. Its size means you can brew yourself just one cup of tea without mess or fuss.
IngenuiTEA sent us one to try out, and we used it 6 times the first day we got it. We’d love to say that this was solely for testing purposes but the truth is that we simply loved its convenience and ingenuity we just wanted to use it again and again.

It really is as simple as placing a teaspoon of loose tealeaves into the teapot chamber, pouring in some boiling water, closing the lid and allowing it to brew for the length of time determined by that variety of tea (normally just 2-3 mins). After that you simply lift the IngenuiTEA and set it on top of your cup, the IngenuiTEA’s unique design means that a valve is then opened and the tea is filtered out into your cup, minus the tealeaves. The tea is crystal clear thanks to the metal mesh filter. MAGIC! In fact it’s so fascinating you’ll just want to try it over and over again. We’ve found that the IngenuiTEA is also very good at keeping the remaining tea warm in the teapot, meaning you can return for another cup. And don’t worry, when your IngenuiTEA isn’t on top of a mug, gravity makes sure the valve at the bottom stays closed meaning no leaks, not even a drip.

Unlike most teapots which you use with loose tealeaves the IngenuiTEA is extremely easy to clean. Simply open the lid and empty out the used tealeaves, give it a rinse and that’s it. It’s even dishwasher safe!!
We love it so much it may just be packed into our suitcase when we next take a trip somewhere!
The IngenuiTEA can be purchased in the UK from here and in the USA from here

This video is provided by Adagio and shows exactly how easy it is to use!

As well as the IngenuiTEA we also had the privilege of trying out some of Adagio’s many varieties of loose leaf tea.

Both are absolutely fantastic but worlds apart when it comes to their flavours and qualities. 

Adagio Tea Reviews

Variety – Black TeaThe Yunnan Gold is a very unique tea and very different to any we have tried before. It has a cocoa and black pepper flavours with a milk chocolate texture. This might sound like a weird combination of flavours and qualities for tea but in our opinion it is a must-try tea!

Variety – Ceylon Black Tea
This tea is luxurious and silky smooth in texture which has the delicious aroma of vanilla cream. The sweet aroma of this tea is enough to make those around you envious. Add a little cream for that added sense of indulgence. Craving something sweet? Pop on the kettle and have a cup of this tea.

Variety – Ceylon Black Tea
This tea has a wonderfully sweet tropical smell of mango. This tea like so many other flavoured tea finds its roots in Ceylon black tea. Leaving a pleasant delicate aftertaste of perfectly ripened mangoes and is just as delicious served cold as iced tea. We also enjoyed this tea with a little milk and sugar, or if you’re counting the calories a little squeeze of honey.

Variety – Rooibos Tea
This tea has a delectable scent of warm vanilla cookies. Caffeine free, this tea is perfect to enjoy in the evenings when snuggled up with a good book. Delicious all ways, either black, with milk or even as iced tea. This tea is certain to make all those around you hungry with its enchanting scent.

Variety – Ceylon Black Tea
We were afraid that this tea would be overly sweet judging just by the smell from the packet but while this tea was brewing we realised this was not the case at all. This tea has a wonderfully pleasant fragrance of summer strawberries. This variety of Adagio teas will have summer memories flooding back to you. This tea is also amazing served as iced tea with a squeeze of honey on a warm summers day, or just when you fancy it.

Variety – Herbal Tea
The first thing you will notice about this variety of tea is its mouth-watering smell. This is another tea which is great hot or cold served with ice. This tea is one of the most refreshing we have tried in quite some time and it will certainly waken up your taste buds. The tea itself is caffeine free and is blended with orange peel, hibiscus flowers and rose hips. Delicious!

Variety – White Tea
This tea is very special indeed. The amount of work which goes into making this tea taste as sophisticated and enchanting is incredible which is why it is one of the most revered Chinese teas. Gathered over just a few days in early spring this truly is special. The jasmine aroma is added to the tea in a very precise way. When the silver needle tea is collected in the spring it is stored until the summer when the jasmine blossoms begin to bloom at night. Jasmine blossoms are collected and laid on a bed of the silver needle tea which open during the night and infuse the tea with their delicate aroma. The jasmine blossoms are then removed and the process repeated the next evening and the next until the required level of jasmine infusion is obtained. It’s very satisfying to drink this tea knowing the amount of work which has went into its production. A very special tea in our opinion.

Variety – Chai Tea
This is a delicious, smooth, lightly spiced tea. It has every taste of autumn that you could want, from the warming notes of cinnamon to the fragrant scents of ginger, cloves and apple. The perfect tea for the cold nights starting to come in. We love this tea with a little drop of honey and milk. So grab your favourite book and cosy up in front of the fire with a cup of Spiced Apple Chai tea.

Variety – Black Tea
Earl Grey is one of the most well known traditional British teas. The subtle notes of lavender compliment the delicate citrus flavour of the Earl Grey. Tiny lavender buds are visible in the loose tea leaves. We were at first worried that the lavender in this tea would be overpowering but the flavours compliment each other and work together perfectly. Wake up your senses with this fabulous variety of tea. This tea has quickly become one of our favourite Adagio teas.

Variety – Ceylon Black Tea
With the delicate yet delicious tropical smell of coconut wafting from your mug of coconut tea you are transported, albeit in mind to a far off tropical paradise. The coconut is not overpowering but instead maintains a refreshing aftertaste. This tea works fabulously well with milk and a little honey or sugar, for that mind-afternoon lift which we all need. This is an unusual tea but one which will be kept stocked in our house from now on.

Variety – Green Tea
This refreshing tea has a subtle taste of citrus. From the moment you open the pack the scent of lemon and lime is very noticeable but this I not as intense when brewing the tea. This tea maintains a wonderful golden colour when brewed and has the perfect balance between grassy green tea and wonderful citrus flavour. This tea truly awakens the senses and readies you for the day ahead. With a touch of honey this teas flavour really comes alive. Served cold it is the perfect alternative to lemonade.

Variety - Rooibos
This tea has a delicious homely aroma of vanilla cookies but the flavour of which is mellow and not at all overpowering. The colour of this tea is lovely bronze, almost of deep red. The rooibos vanilla tea inspires rest and relaxation after a hard day in the office, perfect treat for any cold evening. Serve cold with a little honey for a wonderful sweet refreshing drink.

Variety - Green Tea
This tea is very unique but you have to understand the work which goes into making it to really appreciate its delicate floral flavours. This tea is prepared by hand by a farmer called Lin Chui in Fujian Province, China. Phoenix Pearls are hand rolled into tiny tight balls which slowly unfurl in a wonderful way as the tea brews. This is why we love the IngenuiTEA teapot from Adagio Teas as it allows you to watch how your tea behaves as it brews, this might sound strange but nearly every tea acts slightly differently, almost dancing in the water. This tea is as smooth as silk to drink and has a delicate aftertaste which is so commonly associated with green teas.

Variety - Black Keemun Tea
This is the classic British tea. The fairly strong smoky aroma may not be for everyone but is definitely worth trying. We have tried many different companies adaptions of the English Breakfast tea and they all vary greatly, but this is one of our favourites. The smoky flavour comes from the Keemun tea leaves used in this blend, these are not usually used in other English Breakfast teas as they are generally more expensive. This makes this Adagio blend a little different and with a hint of luxury. We think this tea is best served with just a little milk, as with conventional tea.

Variety – Black Tea
Black Dragon Pearls are very similar looking to Jasmine Phoenix Pearls which we have reviewed and written about previously, with one major difference, the flavour. Dragon Pearls release a subtle yet delicious smell of cocoa as they unfurl while brewing. This tea has a wonderfully rich and smooth taste which makes drinking this tea an absolute pleasure. You only need 2-3 pearls per cup as these tiny balls of delight unfurl to reveal a surprisingly large amount of tea leaves. This is definitely one of Adagio Teas ‘show teas’ if you want to show off something to your friends of family which they are unlikely to have seen or heard of before.

Variety – Herbal Tea
Chamomile has been known for its healing and calming properties since the ancient Egyptian period, it is therefore not surprising that the best chamomile flowers come from the Nile valley, Egypt. As always Adagio Teas have ensured to get their chamomile tea blossoms from the best source available, Sakaran Village, Egypt. This is a caffeine free tea so absolutely perfect for a bedtime treat to promote calm and tranquillity. If you have tried tea bag forms of chamomile tea you simply must try Adagio Teas loose chamomile as in our opinion it is 100x better! This tea has a very subtle yet recognisable and delicious apple aroma as it is brewing. Join the ancient Egyptians and enjoy a cup of this wonderful tea to help you unwind.

Variety – White Tea
With the instant aroma of fresh peaches this tea is hard to resist. This does have some natural sweetness but can be enhanced with a little honey or sugar if desired. You will most likely have seen many peach flavoured iced teas and this is for a very valid reason, it is both delicious and refreshing. Adagio Teas White Peach teas is perfect to make iced tea with the addition of a little honey and ice. White tea is absolutely packed with important anti-oxidants including high levels of polyphends which are believed to fight and kill off cancer causing cells, lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease, not bad for a humble cup of tea! 

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Banana Choc Chip Muffins

Banana and Chocolate are a fab combination and when they are combined in gooey chocolate muffins they are heavenly!

The Ingredients:
290g NEILL'S® Self Raising Flour
110g Caster Sugar
160g Butter
150g Dark Chocolate Chips
2 Eggs
250ml Semi Skimmed (Half Fat) Milk
0.5tsp Salt
1.5tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Heaped Tbsp of Cocoa Powder
2 Mashed Ripe Bananas

The How-To:
Preheat oven to 170c.
Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth.
Beat in the eggs.
Stir in the milk, vanilla and mashed bananas.
In a separate bowl sieve the flour, salt and cocoa powder twice...yes twice. It will make the mixture lighter and make the muffins texture softer.
Fold the flour mixture into the banana mixture slowly. Don't mix it too much or the muffins will turn out chewy.
Now fold in the chocolate chips just enough to mix them through the batter.
Spoon the batter into a muffin tray. The batter is the perfect amount for 12 muffins.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 mins. You can test them with a cocktail stick or skewer. If it comes out clean then they are done.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 mins before removing from the muffin tray and allowing to cool on a cooling rack.

You're Done!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Jubilee Tea Party Celebration Recipes

Most of you, whether from the UK or further afield will know that it is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee this weekend. In most villages, towns and cities across the UK huge celebratory parties are happening. A few of our readers have asked us which recipes we recommend for the perfect Jubilee tea party or celebration so we have put together this article in honour of our great monarch. 

There is another cause to celebrate this weekend! For any of our English readers you can now buy the fantastic NEILLS flour from Ocado and have it delivered. Ocado now sell all the ready mixes which we have personally tested and recommend for those occasions when you need to whip something up quick. The mixes are Buttermilk Scones, Apple & Cinnamon Bread, Irish Wheaten and Irish Soda.

Of course no jubilee tea party is complete without the traditional British scones with jam and clotted cream. We have put together a full proof recipe which is quick, simple and so tasty your friends will be asking for the recipe.

The Ingredients:
360g NEILL'S®Self Raising Flour
90g Butter
40g Caster Sugar
180ml Milk
2tsp Vanilla Extract/Essence
1tsp Baking Powder
1 Beaten Egg for brushing scones
The How-To:
Preheat oven to 200c.
Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter to a large bowl (no need to sieve flour)
Using your hands rub these ingredients together until you get a bread crumbs consistency.
Heat the milk in a saucepan until luke warm (Do not boil).
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract/essence.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the milk while stirring.
Mix this together until a dough forms.
Flour a work surface and pour out the dough
Sprinkle with flour, fold and turn, sprinkle with more flour. Do this 3 or 4 times until it becomes less sticky.
No need to roll out this dough, simple press down until about 1.5 inches high.
Using a cookie cutter cut out the scones and place on a baking tray. This recipe makes about 9 or 10 Scones.
**Top Tip - Dip your cookie cutter in flour before making each cut. This stops it sticking as much**
Leave some space between each scone as they do expand slightly.
Brush the top of each scone with a little beaten egg. This makes them a nice golden brown.
Try not to get any egg on the sides of the scones as this will stop them rising.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 10 mins. Remove and allow to cool.

You’re Done!

No tea party is complete without some Earl Grey tea, but how about putting a twist on the traditional and make Earl Grey cupcakes instead?! They always prove to be a hit!

 The Ingredients:

130ml Milk
5 Earl Grey Teabags or 5tbsp of Loose Earl Grey Tea
110g Butter
230g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Extract/Essence
230g NEILL'S® Plain Flour
2tsp Baking Powder

60g Butter
2tbsp Milk
1tsp Vanilla Extract/Essence
250g Icing Sugar
Blue Food Colouring
The How-To:
Preheat oven to 180c
Bring milk to boil in a saucepan and remove from heat immediately.
Add the tea to the milk and stir well. Set to the side.
Cream the butter and sugar together.
Beat in eggs one at a time until well combined.
Beat in vanilla extract/essence.
In a separate bowl sieve the flour and baking powder together.
Using a fine sieve, sieve the tea/milk mixture into a small bowl. This will remove any loose tea.
Fold the flour into the butter mixture alternating with the tea/milk mixture.
Fold together until all ingredients are combined.
Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cases.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 12-15 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Remove and allow to cool.
While waiting for these to cool we can make the frosting.
Beat the butter in a bowl until smooth.
Stir in the icing sugar until combined enough to use a mixer. Beat well until all lumps disappear.
Beat in the milk and vanilla extract.
Place blue food colouring into the mixture one drop at a time to obtain a pale blue colour. Beat well to ensure even distribution of the blue colouring.
Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.

You're Done!

If you’re going to someone else’s Jubilee celebration and want to take a little something along as your contribution our Cherry and Coconut cake recipe is very simple, delicious and easy to transport and store.

 The Ingredients:
210g Caster Sugar
75g Butter
2 Eggs
220g NEILL'S® Plain Flour
120ml Milk
1.5tsp Vanilla Extract/Essence
35g Desiccated Coconut
1tsp Baking Powder
4tbsp of Runny Icing
12 Glacé Cherries
The How-To:
Preheat oven to 170c
Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth, add the eggs and beat until fluffy
Stir in the vanilla extract/essence
In a separate bowl sieve the flour and baking powder together
Halve the 12 Glacé Cherries and mix them into the flour. This helps stop the cherries from sinking to the bottom of the cake when baking
Add half of the flour into the butter mixture

Now add half the milk
Stir until combined
Add the second half of the flour and milk and stir until combined.
Stir in the coconut until well combined.
Pour the batter into a loaf tin. place a rectangle of baking paper in the bottom. This makes it a lot easier to turn out later!
Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Allow to rest for 10 mins, turn out.
In a separate bowl make about 4tbsp of thin icing (mixing about 10tbsp of icing sugar with a little water)
Drizzle this over the still warm cake. Allow to cool and soak up the icing.

You're Done!

Enjoy the Jubilee Weekend!!!