Savoury Cheese and Paprika Biscuits

Before Christmas I fell in love with Step by Step Baking by Caroline Bretherton.    I made quite a few different biscuits from it and even used the rich fruit cake recipe in it for my first ever Christmas Cake, which turned out to be lovely and moist and will definitely be made again.   Somehow, every time I make something from it, I end up seeing more things I want to make and then that is practically the only book I use for the next few weeks.

I made these biscuits as I wanted to have a go at a savoury biscuit for a change.   Ginger ones, fruit ones and chocolate ones are all very well, but it is nice to have something a little less sugary for a snack occasionally, although less sugary does not mean healthy here.   They have a lot of cheese in!   I hadn’t make these type of biscuits before so I was expecting them to be crumbly, but the texture is actually quite flaky, a bit like a flaky pastry. With all that cheese, they do of course taste cheesy but they also have paprika in to give just a bit of bite too.

I took them to a gathering at a friend’s house, not thinking anyone else would have make cheesy biscuits too.   Unfortunately great minds think alike.  I was a little embarrassed but also rather pleased with myself that mine were the ones that went first!

I am linking these to the Spice Trail, hosted by Bangers and Mash, which features recipes using paprika this month.

cheese biscuits (500x389)

Ingredients – Makes about 20

100g plain flour

50g unsalted butter

150g strong Cheddar cheese

1/2 tsp paprika

1 egg yolk

How to Make Savoury Cheese Biscuits

1. Grate the cheese using the finest cheese grater setting.

2. Put the flour and butter into a food processor and blend just until it has formed a breadcrumb consistency.   Then add in the cheese, egg yolk and paprika.

3. Knead a little with your hands to form an even dough and then wrap in cling film and refrigerate to rest for an hour.

4. Sprinkle flour on the work surface and roll out the dough until it is about 2mm thick.   Cut out circles with a pastry cutter and place them on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.

5. Bake them in the oven at 180C for 10 minutes.   They will puff up a bit.   Turn them over and press them down then continue to bake for another 5 minutes.

6. Cool them on a wire rack.


Cinnamon Stars

I made these in December with a leftover egg white and was planning to enter them in one of the December blogging challenges.   After all, according to Step by Step Baking they are apparently classic German cookies and make great Christmas presents.   Unfortunately I was just too busy with my own Christmas preparation to get around to blogging in time.   Luckily, they are also perfect for January’s Biscuit Barrel Challenge.  They came about because I’d got one egg white left over and I wanted to make something different.   I was also on a weekly biscuit making spree and was looking for a new recipe to try.   The original recipe called for 2 egg whites and would have made 30 so I just halved the quantities.    I expected them to be light and crisp from the picture in the book but they were chewy and almondy in the middle instead, not a bad surprise at all for someone who loves almonds.

The Biscuit Barrel Challenge is hosted by I’d Much Rather Bake than…

cinnamon star biscuits (500x281)

Ingredients – Makes about 15 (Taken from Step by Step Baking by Caroline Bretherton)

1 large egg white

110g icing sugar

A couple of drops of lemon juice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

125g ground almonds

How to Make Cinnamon Stars

1. Whisk the egg white until fairly stiff and then sift in the icing sugar, add the lemon juice too and continue to whist for another 5 minutes or until the mixture is thick and shiny.

2. Put a little of the whisked egg white mixture to the side for the topping.

3.Fold in the ground almonds and the cinnamon.   Refrigerate for an hour or more, even overnight.

4. Sprinkle a little icing sugar on the work surface and roll out the dough until it is about 1/2cm thick.

5. Put the biscuits on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and then brush some of the reserved egg mixture on the top of the biscuits.   If it is too thick, add a drop of milk.

6. Bake the biscuits at the top of the oven for 12-15 minutes at about 160C.

Biscuit Barrel

Chocolate Fudge Cake

I haven’t made a cake for a long time, well, not since April. I fancied making a fruity one, maybe with apple or strawberries in it.   My other half however, always asks for chocolate desserts.  As he’s working very hard at the moment, I decided I should go with something  to suit his tastes.  But of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t like chocolate fudge cake.  Oh no, in fact after not eating it for years, I’ve eaten it a couple of times recently in a local restaurant and developed quite a taste for it.  I should really thank the restaurant for this post as if there had been a fruity cheesecake or crumble on the menu I would never have rediscovered how much I actually like this cake and would probably not have been making it now.  You may notice that the icing has melted more in the middle of the cake rather than evenly.   This is not what you should be aiming for, but because our microwave turntable is broken.  Luckily it still works just enough to heat this cake!

The recipe is from Step by Step Baking by Caroline Bretherton and so I am linking it to Cookbook Sundays, hosted by Couscous and Consciousness.

Ingredients for the Cake – Serves 8

172g self-raising flour

150ml vegetable oil

25g cocoa powder

1tsp baking powder

150g soft light brown sugar

3 tbsp golden syrup

2 eggs

150ml milk

Icing Ingredients

125g unsalted butter

25g cocoa powder

125g icing sugar

1-2 tbsp milk, if the icing is too dry

How to Make Chocolate Fudge Cake

1. Put the golden syrup in a saucepan and heat gently until it goes much runnier but don’t let it boil.  Leave to cool.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa into a bowl then mix in the sugar.

3. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and milk.   Then pour this mixture into the first bowl and whisk together.

4. Pour the golden syrup into the mixture and fold it in gently.

5. Pour the mixture into an oiled cake tin (approx 20cm) lined with baking paper.  Then bake in the oven for approx 40 minutes at 200C.   Test the centre with a skewer and bake a little longer if necessary.

6. Then make the icing.  Melt the butter in a saucepan.   Stir the cocoa powder in and cook for 1-2 minutes.   Leave to cool.

7. When cool, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and pour the cocoa mixture into it.   Beat together.   If the mixture is too dry, add a little milk, no more than a tablespoon at a time, and beat until the icing is combined and glossy.  Spread the mixture onto the top of the cake.

8. To serve, put a slice of cake in the microwave for about a minute so the icing begins to melt and then serve with ice cream or cream.


Ginger Cake

This looks like ginger cake and tastes like ginger cake, but I’m not really sure if I should call it that.    The recipe called for 2 teaspoons of ground ginger but as I was in the middle of making the cake I discovered I only had half a teaspoon left in the jar.     Well one of the ingredients in mixed spice is ginger so I just added a bit extra, hoping it would do the trick, and yes, it seemed to work.  Maybe I should have called it mixed spice cake or even just called it golden syrup cake, seeing as that is one of the main ingredients.   And maybe that is one of the reasons this stays so moist and maybe also the reason why you get the lovely slightly gooey layer on top of the cake.   In looks it is very similar to the carrot cake I made a couple of weeks ago, but I managed to claim the carrot cake was fairly healthy as far as carrot cakes go.   Unfortunately I can’t claim the same for this, but as long as you cut it into small squares to serve, it really doesn’t feel so bad.

I made this cake as part of Dom’s Random Recipe Challenge.   As Belleau Kitchen is celebrating its second birthday we had to randomly choose a recipe from a baking book or the baking section of a book.  I don’t actually have many baking books but I picked Step by Step Baking by Caroline Bretherton and I have to admit, I fancied making a cake so I did severely limit the section of the book too to be sure I picked something I wanted to make.  I have to say, I’m fairly pleased with all my baking efforts recently.   I used to say I wasn’t really a baker but I’m already thinking of what sweet treat I can make next!

I am also linking to Sweets for a Saturday and Cookbook Sundays.

Ingredients – serves 12 (slightly adapted from Step by Step Baking)

225g self-raising flour

110g unsalted butter or margarine

200g golden syrup

110g soft brown sugar

200ml milk

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 egg

How to Make Ginger Cake

1. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a large mixing bowl.

2. Put the butter, sugar, golden syrup and milk into a small saucepan and heat until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved.

3. Pour the liquid from the saucepan into the mixing bowl with the flour.    Whisk well and then beat in the egg too.

4. Line the bottom of a square 18cm cake tin with baking parchment and grease the sides.   Pour the mixture into the tin.    Bake in the oven at about 170C for 35 minutes.   Test with a skewer and bake for a bit longer if it comes out wet.

5. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.


Lemon Cupcakes

One of my most exciting Christmas presents this year was a set of icing nozzles and  piping bag, not exciting because I’d requested it and looked forward to it, but exciting because it was unexpected and because it opened up a whole new realm of baking and cake decorating.   Not being one of the tidiest or neatest people in terms of food presentation, this is not an area that I would think I would naturally  excel in.  I cook much more savoury food and very rarely weigh or measure anything – I just throw in however much of something feels about right.    Although I’m not an expert at baking, I know enough to know that this approach is less likely to work when making a cake, although I still do make a few tweaks here and there when baking.

Anyway, as I hadn’t used it yet, I chose a recipe from my new book, Step by Step Baking by Caroline Bretherton, which I was lucky enough to win from Tinned Tomatoes just after Christmas.  The recipe was quite easy and the instructions were nice and clear.    As my lovely husband always complains if I use zest in anything, I omitted the zest in the cake mixture and the icing, but aware of the extent of my baking skills, I played rather safe and didn’t experiment with anything else, apart from cutting the recipe down and just making a third of everything.

This was fine apart from for the icing.    I managed to ice 3 of the cupcakes using the piping bag but found that a lot of icing which I still needed to use could not be squeezed out of the bag and so I had to spoon it out and spread it on the last four cupcakes instead.   If I’d made the full mixture I’d have had about 24 cupcakes and so icing the last four this way wouldn’t matter, but as I only ended up with 7 cupcakes, it was a bit of a shame.  Well, I suppose I’ve learnt the hard way to only use the piping bag for large quantities.   Even so, I was very pleased with my first attempt.   The swirl of icing did look a little shaky, not quite as assured as i would have liked, but I can’t say that’s not a fair reflection of me as a baker.   I hesitate to say I’ve mastered a new skill, but I am definitely learning it.   Maybe next time I’ll be trying my hand at little rosebuds, who knows.

I am sharing this with Ros, The More Than Occasional Baker, for Alpha Bakes.   I am also linking to Tandy at Lavender and Lime for the Recipe Book Challenge and Couscous and Consciousness for Cookbook Sundays.

Ingredients – Makes up to 24

200g plain flour

100g unsalted butter

2 tsp baking powder

200g caster sugar

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

150ml milk

Juice and zest of a lemon

For Icing

200g icing sugar

100g unsalted butter

Juice of a lemon

How to Make Lemon Cupcakes

1. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and then add the butter, softened and cut into small cubes, the sugar and the salt.   Mix together.   I used my fingers, a bit like making pastry, until it was like fine breadcrumbs.

2. In another bowl add the milk to the eggs and whisk together.    Then add this mixture to the first bowl, along with the lemon juice.    Whisk everything together.

3. Put the cupcake paper cases into cupcake trays and fill each one halfway with the mixture.

4. Bake for about 20-25 minutes at about 180C.

5. Soften the butter and cream the butter and icing sugar together.   Add the lemon juice and mix in well.

6. When the cupcakes have cooled, either spread the icing on top or use a piping bag.