Sunday, 29 January 2012

Sugar & Spice Tear and Share Bread

OK, so it's movie night and your friends are over to watch the latest Brad Pitt/Ryan Gosling/Johnny Depp blockbuster and you want a sweet treat to enjoy whilst swooning over your leading man. Something sugary and indulgent is needed and that's where my Sugar & Spice Tear and Share Bread comes in!

It's soft and sweet and everyone can tuck right in, no cutlery or plates required, just tear off and enjoy! If you want to make it even more special why not serve with a yummy dip? Check out my top tip below for some dip-tastic inspiration. So even if Brad is off the menu (lucky Angelina!) you're still in for a treat tonight ladies!

Sugar & Spice Tear and Share Bread

150ml water
150ml milk
400g strong white flour
7g fast action dried yeast
2tsp soft brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1tsp cinnamon

30g unsalted butter
75g soft brown sugar
2tsp cinnamon

Pour the water and milk into a saucepan and place over a very low heat. Meanwhile, sift the flour into a large bowl and add the yeast, sugar, salt and cinnamon and mix together.

Make a well in the centre of the bowl and pour in the lukewarm water/milk mixture. Bring together with a wooden spoon then use your hands to shape into a dough.

Lightly dust a surface with flour and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, it should be smooth and springy. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely with lightly oiled clingfilm. Place in a warm space (next to a warm oven is always good) and leave for about 1 hour until it has doubled in size.

Lightly grease and flour a large baking pan or roasting tin and leave to one side. Take the dough and tip onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly for a minute and break into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place in the prepared tin, repeat for each piece so the tin is filled and the dough balls are touching. Cover loosely with oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place for about an hour, again until they have doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 6 and melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. In a small bowl mix the sugar and cinnamon. Use a pastry brush to cover the top of the dough balls with the melted butter and sprinkle over the sugar and spice mixture.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes until risen and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool then tear and share!

Belle's Top Tip
There are lots of different dips you can serve with this bread. Keep it simple with some runny icing, melt some chocolate for a naughty treat or how about some dulche de leche caramel...delicious!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Zingy Lemon and Crunchy Coconut Pudding

I have to admit January is not my favourite month.  My purse is empty after the excesses of Christmas and New Year, the weather is miserable, it's dark by 4pm and the only thing I want to snuggle up to in the evenings is a hot water bottle and a cup of cocoa.

The saving grace is that January is when I want to go back to delicious, warming, comfort foods that don't rely on any fancy or expensive ingredients, don't take hours to make and taste amazing.

This is where my Zingy Lemon and Crunchy Coconut Pudding ticks every box.  Most of the ingredients I have knocking around the kitchen anyway, It's quick and easy to make, you bake it in the same dish you serve it in (less washing up!) and although it's sweet and warming, the lemon gives it a lighter, fresher feel...reminding me that Spring will be here soon!

Zingy Lemon and Crunchy Coconut Pudding


125g unsalted butter, softened
180g caster sugar
225g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1 egg
110g lemon curd

Coconut topping

1 egg white, lightly beaten
140g caster sugar
130g desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4 and lightly grease a square baking dish with butter and leave to one side.

In a large bowl add the butter and sugar and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.  Beat in the egg until just combined then sift over the flour, beat well until smooth and even coloured

The mixture will be very thick so use a spatula to pour the mixture into the prepared dish.  Use the spatula to ease the mixture evenly into the dish, right into the corners and lightly smooth the top.  Place in the oven for 15 minutes until light golden.

To make the coconut topping; place the egg white, sugar and coconut into a bowl and mix, it should be quite crumbly. 

When the sponge layer is ready remove from the oven and whilst still hot evenly spread over the lemon curd.  Sprinkle over the coconut topping until completely covered and return to the oven for 10 minutes.  Serve hot or allow to cool then place in the fridge and enjoy cold whenever you like!

Belle's Top Tip
I used shop-bought lemon curd as it was in the cupboard and makes this recipe super-quick, however if you would love to make your own there's a great recipe by Delia Smith which you can check out here.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Bye-Bye Resolutions Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies

Happy New Year!!! I hope you all had a great Christmas and a fantastic New Years.  Now, you've probably been thinking about those New Years Resolutions...getting fitter, losing weight, finding a boyfriend, dumping a boyfriend, but I've decided to take a stand in 2012 and say bye-bye to resolutions. 

Sure, it's great to have some direction and an idea of what you want to achieve, but forcing all this to happen on January 1st is way too much pressure!  Every day is a new day and along with every new day comes a new chance to achieve your hopes and dreams.
So in defiance of all those New Years fads I came up with these totally chocolatey, utterly more-ish chocolate and peanut butter cookies.  A sweet, naughty, nutty, peanut butter dough wrapped in a gloriously chewy, chocolate cookie; they may not be completely virtuous, but what's a fab New Year without a naughty little treat (or two?).

Bye-Bye Resolutions Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies


225g plain flour
70g cocoa powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g unsalted butter, softened
60g smooth peanut butter
115g caster sugar
100g soft brown sugar
40ml milk
1tsp vanilla extract

for the peanut butter filling
140g icing sugar
170g smooth peanut butter
2tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4 and lightly grease a large baking sheet with butter.

In a bowl add the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda and mix well with a wooden spoon.

In a large separate bowl add the butter, peanut butter and sugars and beat well until smooth and creamy.  Add the vanilla and milk and mix until well combined.

Carefully sieve over the flour mixture into the bowl and beat until the mixture starts to come together.  Use your hands to start bringing the dough together, it should be soft and a little sticky, leave to one side.

For the peanut butter filling; add the icing sugar and peanut butter to a bowl and mix together, you may need to use your hands to bring the mixture together.  Add the milk and continue to bring together until smooth and even coloured.

Break off some of the chocolate dough and roll between your palms to make a ball then flatten, repeat this again so you have two disc shapes.  Roll a ball of the peanut butter filling and sandwich between the two chocolate discs, ensuring the peanut butter dough is covered.  Carefully roll the whole thing into a ball, flatten between your hands and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Repeat the above process until you have approximately 12 cookies (you may need to use another baking sheet) evenly spaced and place in the oven for 15 minutes.  When ready remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.  The cookies can be eaten straight away or left to cool and stored in an airtight container.

Belle's Top Tip
Why not make these cookies into a delicious, fuss-free dessert.  Simply sandwich two warm (not hot) cookies together with a generous scoop of ice-cream, carefully roll in chocolate sprinkles and serve...utterly irresistible!