Cranberry and Orange Loaves

Cranberry & Orange Loaf

IT IS CHRISTMAS NEXT WEEK. GET EXCITED. Stick on your favourite Christmas song, get the wine mulling and tuck in to some form of festive sandwich from your local convenience store. Better yet, make one a Cranberry and Orange Loaf. I love this recipe and make it every year, several times, yet somehow I managed to not write it up last year. I think it was because it’s something I usually make to gift to people or to take places. Which means I never get a chance to actually photograph it.

Cranberry and Orange Loaf

Cranberry and Orange Loaf

Speaking of gifts. This is actually the prize from my Mystery Cake Box giveaway I ran in November. So congratulations to the winners and I hope you enjoy the cakes. I may well be sending a few of these in the direction of some friends if I’ve got time this week so keep an eye on the postie.

Cranberry and Orange Loaf

Cranberry and Orange Loaf

It contains nuts, usually walnuts but I’ve made it with pine nuts for a nut allergy fearing mother before now. The crunch that gets added from the nuts and the extra flavour is a great addition. I have tried a recipe that replaces the Orange with Orange Juice and I have to say, it was much too orangey for me and a bit too sharp. This is a much preferred method and I thought I’d lost the recipe a couple of years ago but managed to dig it back up. It’s one of the few that I have on a scrap of paper that has somehow survived a few years.

Cranberry and Orange Loaf

Cranberry and Orange Loaf

It’s something I usually bake in batches of 2-3 as well. Which you will see below as this recipe makes 2 loaves. The only really time consuming bit is halving all of the Cranberries.

 

Cranberry and Orange Loaves
 
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Author:
Serves: 2 Loaves
Ingredients
  • 510g Flour
  • 400g Sugar
  • 3tsp Baking Powder
  • Couple of pinches of Salt
  • Juice and Zest of two large Oranges
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 100g Walnuts, chopped
  • 300g Fresh Cranberries, halved.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (155°C fan assisted) and grease/line two loaf tins.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl of your mixer, add the zest.
  3. In a measuring jug combine the butter, juice and eggs. Add enough water to the jug to make it about 350ml.
  4. Pour into the dry and mix at a medium to low speed until just combined.
  5. Add in the cranberries and walnuts and mix again.
  6. It makes a very thick gloopy batter. Divide this up evenly between the two prepared tins and place on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf will come out clean.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to set in the tin for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool

Cinnamon Buns

The last couple of weeks have been really busy. Which means I’ve not been on top of baking new things. I baked for a charity bake sale in Otley, so did some of my older classics, like my brownies and peanut butter cookies as well as some Oreo truffles and a ginger loaf with lime frosting. Unfortunately the charity fair itself flopped a bit, but it was great practice for me doing large orders and I got to take some of the leftovers to my friend’s birthday party.

Peanut Butter Cookies
 
Pistachio Brownies

Then I had an order of brownies for my friend Katie’s final year photography exhibition. I couldn’t make the night myself but apparently there were none left, that’s got to be a good sign right? I was supposed to be climbing a mountain in Scotland this weekend for Wateraid200 but unfortunately lots of people dropped out last minute, meaning it wasn’t possible anymore. We are hopefully re-arranging for a later date when more of us can actually manage it. I raised over £100 so I really don’t like the idea of letting people down.

Cinnamon Buns
 

Because of that being cancelled I had an extra weekend which I wasn’t expecting. This gave me some time which I’ve been using to get my life together a bit. And also to do some baking. I’ve been wanting to make Cinnamon Buns again for a long while, but they take a fairly long time to bake, due to the rising/proofing stages. As I was completely plan-less I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to make them. The last time I did make them, I made them far too large. But I managed to get these ones just right.

Cinnamon Bun Dough

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Cinnamon Buns
 
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Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • For the buns:
  • 500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g/1¾oz light brown sugar
  • 15g/1oz fresh yeast or 1½ tsp dried yeast
  • 75g/3oz butter, softened
  • 200ml/7fl oz milk
  • 2 free-range eggs, plus one egg yolk, for glazing
  • flavourless oil, for oiling
  • For the filling:
  • 75g Granulated brown sugar
  • 50g granulated white sugar.
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 50g butter, melted.
Instructions
  1. Mix together the flour, salt and sugar. Stir in the dry yeast (or crumble in fresh, I personally have a store of dry in).
  2. Work the butter into the flour mix until there are no large lumps remaining. Do this with your fingers or using a mixer on a low speed. It doesn’t have to be as fine as breadcrumbs.
  3. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk and one of the eggs. Mix together using a spatula or your hands. It’s quite a sticky mix but keep on mixing and the flour in the mix will slowly absorb the excess liquid.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface (lightly floured if necessary). Knead the dough for 10 minutes. By the time you are done you should be able to cut a small piece off and stretch it out thin enough to see light through it/the shadows of your fingers.
  5. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and place somewhere warm to rise for around 80-90 minutes (until it has roughly doubled in size).
  6. Towards the end of this time, make the filling. To do this mix together the sugars and the cinnamon. Add a small amount of the melted butter and mix.
  7. Knock back the dough onto a lightly floured surface and, using a rolling pin, roll out into a rectangle about the thickness of a pound coin.
  8. Using a pastry brush coat the dough with the melted butter then spread the cinnamon mixture over the top.
  9. Roll into a log shape carefully. You don’t want to squash it too much. Divide the log into 12 equal pieces buns.
  10. Place these into a greased pan, spacing them apart for when they rise. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to proof for about 45 minutes. While they are rising, preheat the oven to 200°C(180°C fan).
  11. Before placing in the oven, beat together the remaining egg and the yolk. Brush the top of each bun with this.
  12. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then drop the temperature to 180°C (160°C fan assisted) and bake for a further 20 minutes.
  13. Once you have removed them from the oven, transfer to a wire rack to cool.
 
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Blue Cheese Scones

 

I’ve waffled on about my parent’s holiday cottage on Mull several times now. It makes me happy, alright? The very first booking is imminent and my parents went up the other week for one last weekend of making sure everything was in order and the house was ready for guests to stay in. It made me realise I’ve not been up in about 4 months, which I hate, especially as now it’s completely booked up I don’t get to go again until August. Anyway, my Mother bought me back a wedge of Hebridean Blue from the Isle of Mull Cheese Company. It won silver in the world cheese awards a number of years ago and it’s by far the best cheese I’ve ever eaten (blue cheese is the best cheese, end of discussion). I thought this would be a great chance for me to bake something full of the stuff… but er, I kinda ate the whole thing, in a few days… Oh well, my intentions were good, so I bought myself another wedge of blue (less good, but still served its purpose wonderfully).

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So then I had to decide what I actually wanted to make, bread? Tartlets? Muffins? I decided on Scones. I realise I’d not made scones since last year when I made my Chorizo and Smoked Cheddar Scones after a trip to York food festival (which I thought I’d written up but apparently never did, whoops!). Savory scones are definitely the best kind of scones, in my opinion at least. Blue cheese works wonderfully well, especially when you add something like caramelised onion. All these need with them is some chutney and perhaps some soup and they are perfect for a snack. Why not wash ‘em down with a bottle of real ale and a pork pie? Now I want a pork pie, someone bring me a pork pie.

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Blue Cheese Scones
 
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Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 115g (plus 2 tablespoons for the onions) cold butter, divided
  • 2 medium onions, finely diced
  • Salt and black pepper to season
  • 255g all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ Teaspoon baking soda
  • 90g Blue Cheese (crumbled)
  • 180ml Buttermilk (they sell it in M&S, only place I’ve found in Leeds center that does)
  • 1 egg, beaten
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 220°C(200°C fan assisted) and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. Melt the two tablespoons of butter in a pan and fry the onions over a medium to high heat until the start to brown at the edges. Reduce to a low heat and cook for a further 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently so they don’t cash. They’ll be soft and caramelised by the time it’s done. Set aside and allow to cool.
  3. While the onions are cooking whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda. Incorporate the butter in to the flour mixture, do this using your fingers, a fork or an electric mixer. Combine until it resembles coarse bread crumbs/meal.
  4. Once the onions are done and cooled slightly, add them, along with the blue cheese and buttermilk to the flour mixture and fold to form a dough. If it’s too sticky add a little more flour.
  5. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and roll out into a square that’s roughly 20cm x 20cm. Divide in to 8 matching portions and transfer them to prepared baking tray. Brush the top of each one with the beaten egg, this will help them glaze.
  6. Place in the middle of the oven and cook until they are golden brown. This should be around 15 minutes. Remove and transfer to a rack. Best served fresh but they’ll last a couple of days after in a sealed container.

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Brioche Buns

So it’s my first recipe of the new year. And well, I’m branching out a little. There is zero peanut butter for one (SHOCK! HORROR!) and it’s a savoury bake. I do savoury baking a fair bit, but usually it doesn’t make the blog. Simply because it tends to be eaten fresh or donated. I was given a few recipe books for Christmas and wanted to try a few things out. This was inspired by one of them, but not actually from that book. I had a full two weeks off over Christmas and the last Sunday before I returned to work my parents suggested a family meal at my sister’s in York. I taught my mother how to make my Maple and Mustard Pulled Pork last summer while we were on holiday in Scotland and she decided to do that. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try my hand at Brioche buns. I’ve made plenty of bread, but it’s usually fairly heavy and involved cheese or some form of wholemeal.

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 These didn’t provide as much of a challenge as I had expected and came out nearly perfect. Something which I’m pleased about for a first attempt. They were light, glazed appropriately and were the perfect match for the pork. The only snag was that they were already a day old at this point, but they refreshed nicely in the oven.

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This was also the first run out for my “cups” which I got for Christmas. So if I’m feeling particularly lazy, I may not convert to grams if I’ve used an American recipe (like this time, sorry guys!). I also apologise for the lack of good pictures. Things are a bit up in the air at the moment, so I just winged it a bit. I’ll make them again and re-shoot soon.

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I’m going to be posting much more savoury things this year, as well as few more “lifestyle” type posts, so sorry in advance if you’re only here for the food. You may get a few more inane rambles as well.

 
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Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons warm milk
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2½ tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened.
Instructions
  1. In a glass cup, combine the warm water, milk, sugar and yeast. Leave this to stand for about 5 minutes until it’s foaming. Beat one of the eggs separately.
  2. Using a stand mixer, or your hands if you don’t have one, mix the butter, flours and salt. Do this until it’s a breadcrumb like texture. If using the mixer this could take several minutes.
  3. Beat in the yeast mixture (making sure you get all the sugar if it hasn’t dissolved) and the egg. Do this on a medium speed for several minutes until a soft dough has formed.
  4. Shape the dough in to a ball, grease the inside of the bowl and return the dough. Cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm place. Leave to rise somewhere warm until it’s doubled in size. This could be anywhere between 1-3 hours. Do this based on size, rather than time.
  5. Line a baking tray with a baking sheet. Divide the in to 8 equal portions. Use a scale to make sure they are equal.
  6. To shape them , roll into a ball and flatten gently against a lightly floured surface. Make a cage shape with your hand against the surface with the dough inside. Move around in a circular motion until the buns have shaped well.
  7. Arrange on the tray, relatively well spaced. Allow to rise for another 1-2 hours in a warm place.
  8. While they are rising preheat the oven to 205°C(185°C Fan).
  9. Make the egg wash by beating the egg and adding a splash of water. Using a pastry brush, brush a small amount over the top of each bun.
  10. Add another tray underneath the oven shelf with a small amount of water in it. This will create steam to help the buns keep moist. Place the baking tray on the shelf and bake for 15-20 minutes.

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Christmas 2013

Well hello, and a Happy New Year to everyone. This is my first post of 2014. I hope everyone had a super awesome Christmas and New Year. Mine was a mixed bag all in all. Christmas itself was great, we went to spend it on Mull at my parent’s cottage, which is available for rental now coughHINTcough.  It was great to get to the middle of nowhere and also to get some walking in. Also baked several times while I was there, as well as helping cook.

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We were very fortunate however, as the storm that went through the UK hit that area fairly badly. My mother and sister only just managed to get to the island on the last ferry that ran before Christmas.

I baked a Cheese, onion and mustard loaf.

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A cranberry and orange loaf.

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And a chocolate Loaf, which was a bit of a disaster (the tin I used was too small) but still tasted pretty awesome.

And guess what?! My mum got me this amazing “Bearded Bakery” apron.

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Unfortunately, what made the period less good was breaking up with my Girlfriend, which happened the night I got back, which got me down. I won’t go in to it, because you don’t want to hear it; you’re here for food, not my life story, afterall.

If you want any recipes for the above things, just drop me an email or leave a comment. I’m sure I’ll get around to them eventually! This post actually started off as being about Brioche Buns, which were my first bake of the year. But I’ll just have to do that one tomorrow!

 

OH YEAH. I almost forgot. I also made some Reindeer pretzl cookies for a party just before Christmas.

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Hope everyone has a great year, all the  best.

(ps, This blog is 1 soon. How exciting?)