Sunday, 24 May 2015

Irish Tea Bread and Degustabox April 2015 review

It's time for the what's in my Degustabox for April and I will be posting about May fairly soon. April's box had an international theme and as usual it comes in an alcohol version or non alcohol version. I usually receive both in my review box but you can specify when you order them for yourself. A quick note about Desugatabox in case you're not familiar with it. Degustabox is a no obligation monthly subscription which costs £12.99 including delivery. You get 9 to 14 surprise products and it's usually a good mixed selection of goodies. Do check out my previous reviews to see the range of products you can expect to receive.  I have a special discount code for all my readers if you are interested in signing up a box for yourself or for a family memeber/friend. You get a £3.00 discount when registering by using this code PXATS which makes it just under a tenner for a goodie box including delivery.

I decided to create a recipe using Barry's tea which is from Ireland. I used a traditional Irish Tea Cake recipe which I found online and it turned out beautifully. I gave half to an Irish colleague who thoroughly enjoyed it. She suggested adding a bit of brandy or whiskey so I'm going to give it another go soon. It was really easy to make apart from allowing extra time to soak the fruits in tea overnight. It was delicious warm from the oven with butter on top. It kept well and was equally delicious toasted with butter.

 Kingfisher beer in the alcholic box which is from India. 

 IdrinQ from Hermany which is an enhancement drink. 

 Scheckters Organic Energy drink which is a natural, organic drink. 

 Cirio tomato fillets from Italy. 

 Vetee rice which I like for the convenience. The spicy mexican rice works well in stuffed peppers. 

 Nando's Peri-Peri potato chips - tasty ridge cut chips perfect for snacking. 

 Debeukelaer Cookies Bakery inspired by traditional family bakeries in Greenwich Village, New York. They are individually wrapped and have a melty chocolate centre. Perfect for picnics or lunchboxes. 

 Barry's Tea from Ireland

 Kinder choco-bons and mini kinder chocolate with cereals. Perfect for treats and lunchboxes as they are all individually wrapped. 

 Schwartz Balti and Korma recipe mix. These were great for mid week meals and the spices were perfect. 

 Cirio concentrated tomato puree from Italy - absolutely delicious. 

 I decided to use Barry's tea bags for my recipe this month. 

 Soak fruits in strongly brewed tea overnight 

 The fruits were plump and juicy after soaking 

 ready to go in the oven 

Makes 1 large loaf

500g dried fruit mix
4 Barry's tea bags
400ml boiling water
200g brown sugar
250g self raising flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon mixed spice

  • Place the tea bags in 400mls boiling water in a large bowl. Allow to steep for at least 5 minutes before removing the tea bags.
  • Add the dried fruit mix and stir.
  • Cover with a tea towel and leave overnight. 
  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the dried fruit mix and stir.
  • Pour the batter into a loaf tin and bake for approximately 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Check after 45minutes as you may need to cover the loaf with foil to prevent the top from burning. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Banana, chocolate chip and walnut layer cake

Apologies for the brief absence as I've been away on holiday and am just about catching up with everything. I baked this last month but didn't get a chance to blog about it. I love baking with bananas and I'm always looking for a new recipe. This is one that I found online but adapted it to my use. I was intrigued by the frosting which involved cooking milk and adding flour. It was quite a nice frosting which was not overly sweet. The cake was wonderfully moist and you can clearly taste the banana and the walnuts. The chocolate chips added a delicious chocolate hit and the frosting brought it all together. 

I'm sending this to the No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. This recipe used up rapidly ripening bananas and some leftover yoghurt. 

 adding walnuts and chocolate chips 

 cooking the frosting 

 decorate with some grated chocolate 

Original recipe can be found here 
For the cake
215g flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
113g butter
180g castersugar
120g brown sugar
2 eggs
3 bananas
150mls yoghurt
200g chocolate chips
130g chopped walnuts

For the frosting
250mls milk
5 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g caster sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Cream the butter and sugars for a few minutes.
  • Add the eggs and mix well.
  • Add in the mashed bananas.
  • Alternate adding the flour+bicarbonate of soda and yoghurt until everything is incorporated.
  • Add in the walnuts and chocolate chips.
  • Divide the batter into 2 sandwich tins and bake for approximately 25-20 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
  • To make the frosting, whisk the flour into the milk over a medium heat until the mixture thickens.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Cream the butter and sugar and add the vanilla extract.
  • Add the cooled milk/flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on high in an electric mixer until smooth. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Mini Pork Pies with Quails Eggs

Last month I mentioned that I tried hot water crust pastry for the first time. Quite a few of you have been wondering what I made. Well I decided to be brave and had a go at Paul Hollywood's small pork pies with quails eggs! If you've watched the Great British Bake Off, you will know that it was one of the technical challenges and has been on my 'to bake' list for a while. I have to admit I was a little nervous and kept reading the recipe to make sure I'd not missed anything. I can see why it's a technical challenge - it's not as simple as it looks! I followed his recipe exactly but found I had too much filling so I made another batch of the hot water crust pastry and baked 12 mini pork pies. You can of course make half the filling for 6 pork pies.

So what did I learn from this experience? I can make hot water crust pastry - yay! It was really simple and I followed the recipe exactly. However, as mentioned for this recipe I had to make 2 lots of pastry for the amount of filling stated. I might have to get a larger muffin tin or just halve the amount of filling. The part that I struggled with was sealing the lid of the pastry - I ended up using the top of a teaspoon to push it into the pie and to create a seal. You do  have to work quickly with the hot water crust pastry as it dries out and hardens the longer you leave it, making it more difficult to mould. I'm glad I made the batches of pastry one at a time instead of just doubling up the amounts. The other slight stumbling block was that the recipe said to make a hole in the centre of each pie - my pies were really full and there wasn't much space at all. The centre was where the quails egg was so the top of the egg got a little brown. In addiction, I could only get a small amount of gelatine mixture in but it worked and you can see it in the pie after it's been chilled.

All in all it was a great learning experience and I am really pleased with the final result. J was most impressed and we still have a few left in the freezer for a rainy day. We had these pork pies with a salad on a weekend and it was perfect. I am definitely making these again particularly in the summer for picnics or packed lunches.

I'm sending this to a few blog challenges this month.

AlphaBakes hosted by me this month and co hosted by Caroline from Caroline Makes. The letter this month is Q for Quails eggs!

The pastry challenge hosted by Jen from Jen's Food and Lisa from United Cakedom. The theme this month is picnics and thes mini pork pies are easily transportable plus you can bake them in advance.

Simply Eggcellent hosted by Dom from Belleau Kitchen. The theme this month is savoury.

Treat Petite hosted by Stuart from Cakeyboi and Kat from The Baking Explorer. The theme this month is Eurovision. These pork pies are very British and they are mini versions.

Tea Time Treats hosted by Jane from The Hedgecombers and Karen from Lavender and Lovage. The theme this month is Sandwiches, Wraps and Rolls. These are a sneaky entry but they definitely fit the savoury theme!

Biscuit Barrel challenge guest hosted by Alexandra from The Lass in the Apron on behalf of Laura from I'd Much Rather Bake Than ...  The theme this month is Party and these are definitely great for parties.

Bake of the week hosted by Helen from Casa Costello.

Recipe of the week hosted by Emily from A Mummy Too.

Cook Blog Share hosted by Lucy from Supergolden Bakes.

 bring water and salt to a boil then add the lard 

 rub butter in to the flour 

 the dough comes together nicely 


 adding the filling - you can see that it was a bit of a squeeze for my filling 

 you can see the quails egg poking out through the hole in the centre and there's not much of a gap for the gelatine mixture 

 baked and chilled overnight in the fridge 

 ta dah! 

 served with fresh green salad 

Recipe from BBC Food 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Degustabox review March 2015

This post is well overdue but better late than never right? It's time for the what's in my degustabox post particularly as I've just received the box for April. I'm usually about a month behind with the reviews as the boxes get sent at the end of each month but I hope it's handy to show you the variety you can get in the box and decide if you want to order one for yourself or a family member/friend to try out. Degustabox is a no obligation monthly subscription which costs £12.99 including delivery. You get 9 to 14 surprise products and it's usually a good mixed selection of goodies. I have a special discount code for all my readers if you are interested in signing up a box for yourself or for a family memeber/friend. You get a £3.00 discount when registering by using this code ZH74B which makes it just under a tenner for a goodie box including delivery.

I've been getting these boxes for a few months now and I'll be honest and say that I was not particularly impressed at first but it's slowly growing on me and I look forward to receiving a box each month. I love the surprise element and there is usually at least a few things that I really like in the box. The boxes have been getting better in my opinion ie more suited to my tastes and this March box is no exception. In fact I like everything in this box which is unusual as there is usually one or two items thaat I'm not too keen in.

 Crabbie's Alcoholic Fruits which have been featured here before. They are fruity and refreshing and I particularly enjoyed this raspberry & rhubarb one. 

 I also received a black cherry flavour.

 Jordan's lighter granola - another product that has been featured in a previous degustabox. This is the lighter version with 30% less fat. Great for breakfasts and for baking flapjacks at home. 

 Juiceburst - this is the skinny burst at 99 calories per bottle. The flavour was Mango & Lime which was delicious.

 I also enjoyed the regular Juiceburst which is sweeter but still fruity and refreshing. 

 BBQUE - original Bavarian barbeque sauces which comes in 4 flavours -grill & beechwood, the original, honey & mustard, chili & horseradish. I've not tried it out yet as I'm saving it for a bbq we are having later in the month but it sure looks good! 

 Kents Kitchen Posh noodles - great for an on the go lunch or snack. They were quite tasty and low in calories too! 

 Brioche Pasquier Baked Bread Bites in bacon flavour. These were tasty little bites made from real French bread and each bag is under 90 calories. I had one as a snack and another in my soup which was absolutely delicious! 

 Lindt Assorted Mini Eggs - Lindt chocolates are my favourite chocolates so I was particularly pleased to see not one but two bags of these chocolate eggs. They come in assorted flavours and were the first items to go from this box! 

 Natvia sweetener which is a naturally sourced alternative to artificial sweeteners and sugar. It is derived from stevia and has zero calories per serve. I've tried it in coffee and aim to give it a go with baking too.

 Bassetts Jelly Babies Berry Mix - strawberry, blackcurrant and raspberry. 

 Maynards sour patch kids - sour and sweet all at once! 

Disclaimer: I was sent a Degustabox for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. This is not a sponsored post.