Cold Brew Coffee

With summer finally upon us, cold coffee suddenly seems sensible.

20180707_132918Cold Brew Coffee is a pretty new idea on this side of the Atlantic (especially all the way down in far flung Devon.)

Despite the name, Cold Brew Coffee is actually brewed at room temperature, usually overnight. The resulting coffee is stronger than hot brewed coffee, and if you believe the experts, has a smoother taste. Because it’s already cool, it works well in cold drinks.

This version (there are several, just check online) is pretty strong. It’s made with a ratio of one part ground coffee to two parts water. The resulting coffee can be served either black or white, with one part of Cold Brew mixed with two parts ice cold milk or water. This higher ratio of coffee to milk than would be used in a traditional espresso-based iced coffees means that the final drink is lighter.

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It’s strength means that the concentrated coffee drink takes up less space in your fridge. Unmixed, this can be kept in the fridge for a few days, ready for whenever you need a cool caffeine fix.

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Use a fairly coarse ground coffee (suitable for cafetiere or filter) rather than fine ground blends (so avoid espresso.) This is simply because you don’t want to end up with grounds in your drink, and small grounds might seep through your filter.

You will need a jug or bowl to brew the coffee in and a muslin cloth or paper coffee filter to strain the coffee through. A funnel is useful, but you might be able to cope without one if using cloth (as in the picture above.)

I’ve used (UK) measuring cups in this ‘recipe’, but all you really need to remember is the mix of one part coffee to two parts water. If you don’t have measuring cups yourself, use a teacup or pour your coffee straight into a measuring jug until you reach the 240ml / 8 fl oz mark.

Ingredients:

1 cup / 240 ml ground coffee

2 cups / 480 ml room temperature water

Combine the coffee and water in a jug or bowl and gently stir until there are no dry grounds left on top. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a cool place, away from direct sunlight (mine sits of top of the fridge.)

Leave for eight hours, or preferably overnight. Once it’s brewed, carefully strain it into a clean jug or bowl, and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to use it (up to three days.)

This is a pretty concentrated coffee, so you will need to dilute it with one part coffee to two parts water (or milk.) For a lighter milk version, dilute with water then finish with just a splash of milk.

If you like to add sugar, go ahead. It will need a very good stir to dissolve in the cold drink, so consider sugar syrup or even a flavoured syrup.

Or, if you are feeling in need of a real treat, try an Ultimate Iced Coffee

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Berry Streusel Muffins

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Berry Streusel Muffins

Fresh or frozen berries can be used to make these eye-catching muffins. There are three steps to making these, all of them easy.

The brightness of the berries mean these look as tasty as they, well, taste.

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The cake rises up through the fruit, giving these a marbled pattern

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. In the case of these Berry Streusel Muffins, it was both the mother and the mother-in-law. Phil’s mum managed to leave a couple of bags of frozen fruit in the freezer after her last visit. I was wondering what I could possibly use them for, when my mum casually mentioned that she needed cakes for the church summer fete. Cakes, and lots of them.

I think everyone who bakes has at least one beloved cake, bar or biscuit can they can produce with a moment’s notice. Sadly for me, my standby choices of Lemon Drizzle and fresh Scones are also my mother’s favourites, so I couldn’t rely on these. Well, I made a Lemon Drizzle, because these will always sell, along with a Lemon and Elderflower cake (making good use of the Lemon and Elderflower Syrup I made earlier this summer.)

I’ve already shared my Rhubarb Crumble Cake with you. These use the same crumble topping, but their individual portion size makes them popular with people looking for something to eat straight away, or who don’t have a family at home to help them eat an entire large cake.

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Makes 12

Ingredients:

Cake:

4 oz / 110g caster sugar

4 oz / 110g unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 large eggs

6 oz /170g self-raising flour

3 tbsp buttermilk

Berry Topping:

10 oz / 280g mixed summer berries, fresh or frozen

1 oz / 30g caster sugar (or more to taste)

Streusel Topping:

2 oz / 60g plain flour

1 oz / 30g butter

½ oz / 15g caster sugar

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin cases.

Prepare the berries and the streusel mix first so that you have everything to hand when it’s time to assemble your muffins.

Rinse the berries if using fresh. Place in a large saucepan with the sugar and cook over a low heat until the berries have released their juice and begun to break down, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Use the back of the spoon to break up any larger berries that are still intact. Remove from the heat and set to one side to cool slightly.

Next up, the streusel topping. Using your fingertips, rub the fat into the flour until it looks a bit like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.

For the cake, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This can be done using a stand mixer or hand whisk, but don’t worry if you have neither; this batch is small enough to be mixed by hand, using a clean wooden spoon. Add the vanilla, and then your eggs one at a time. Don’t worry if the mixture looks a little curdled at this point, I promise it will all come together!

Sift in the flour and stir in until just incorporated. Add the buttermilk and beat until smooth.

Spoon equal amounts into your muffin cases. I find that using an ice cream scoop with a release does this neatly, but also gives you a perfect measure for each cake. Spoon your berry mixture over the top of each muffin – there’s no need to be especially neat here as the cake mix with push up through a lot of the fruit as they bake and rise, however you will want about a dessert spoon of berry mix for each muffin.

Sprinkle over the streusel mix. These will need to bake for about 35 minutes until the cakes have risen and the streusel is golden. Test the cakes to make sure they’re done – insert a sharp knife or a skewer and check if it comes away clean, or simple gently press down on the surface of one of the muffins. If it springs back, it’s done.

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Allow the cakes to cool in the tin for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to continue to cool.

Once cool, store in an airtight cake tin. These can be kept at room temperature for 3-4 days, and are generally at their best on the second day.

Printable PDF: Berry Streusel Muffins

 

 

 

Rhubarb Crumble Cake

Tart rhubarb, crunchy crumble, and a rich, moist sponge – this cake has a lot to offer!

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Rhubarb Crumble Cake

 

The local rhubarb season is still going strong, and what a season it’s been! I still have a bag full of rhubarb waiting to be used, courtesy of my dad’s garden. I need to be quick about it too – courgette season is almost upon us, which will be even more productive by the looks of things. Produce anxiety, is that a thing?

This cake is traditional loaf cake at heart, designed to be eaten over the course of a few days – if it lasts that long! The addition of rhubarb crumble sets it apart, making it equally at home served warm with custard. Personally I’m a big fan of opening the cake tin and peeling back the paper to find you still have a slice or two of cake left to enjoy with a cup of tea. It happens occasionally.

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No dainty slices here – you want a piece you can get your teeth into

The cake itself is rather dense, with a nice crumb, which lends itself well to supporting the double topping of stewed fruit and crumble. The rhubarb is tart, even with the addition of sugar, and if you are lucky you will end up with dark edges where the rhubarb has caught against the side of the pan and turned to smoky caramel. The crumble topping begins as crunchy and relaxes into something chewier as the cake ages.

And boy does this cake age well! I like to leave it for at least a day before cutting, and it can happily sit in a cool, dark place for up to five days as long as it’s well wrapped.

I’ve used buttermilk in this recipe, but you can use ordinary milk without any ill effects. This cake always takes longer than I expect to bake. Once the cake has been in the oven for 45 minutes, insert a skewer or sharp knife. If it comes away clean, the cakes is ready. If it has batter clinging to it, give the cake another 10-15 minutes before testing again. Thanks to the density of the topping, there is very little danger of the cake over baking.

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If the edges catch, be prepared for caramelised rhubarb

 

Ingredients:

Cake:

100g / 3 ½ oz unsalted butter, softened

170g / 6 oz golden caster sugar

1 tsp baking powder

170g / 6 oz self raising flour

2 large eggs

4 tbsp buttermilk

Rhubarb topping:

2 – 3 medium stalks rhubarb

30g / 1oz white sugar, or more to taste.

Crumble:

60g / 2 oz plain flour

30g / 1 oz butter

30g / 1 oz golden caster sugar

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F. Grease and line your loaf tin.

Prepare the rhubarb and the crumble before you begin on your cake batter so that everything is to hand when you come to assemble your cake.

Wash and trim the rhubarb. Cut into 1 inch / 2cm long slices and place in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the sugar. You are likely to need some liquid to persuade the rhubarb to stew, however the amount you will need annoyingly depends upon the rhubarb itself. Start by adding a tablespoon, and add spoon by spoon if the pan seems dry. I tend to use water, however orange juice or even pineapple juice work well and bring a little extra sweetness while matching the tartness of the rhubarb.

Stir until the majority of the pieces have broken down into gloopy, stringy mess, then remove from the heat and allow to cool while you prepare the other ingredients.

To make the crumble, measure the butter and flour into a large bowl. If the butter is hard, use a butter knife to ‘cut’ it into the flour, until there are no large pieces left. Rub the mix between your fingertips until the butter is worked in and the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Place on one side.

In a fresh mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter together. Sift in the flour and baking powder and stir to combine. Crack in both eggs, followed by the buttermilk, and beat until smooth.

Pour the batter into your prepared loaf tin and use a spatula or the back of your wooden spoon to smooth the surface.

Spread roughly 7oz / 200g of sweetened stewed rhubarb across the top of the sponge mix using a rubber spatula to smooth into an even layer. Sprinkle the crumble mix over the top. You want the crumble to be rather hearty to stand up to the other layers, so don’t shy away from using all of it.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 45 minutes. After this time has elapsed, test the cake using a skewer or the blade of a sharp knife. If this comes away clean, the cake can be removed from the oven, otherwise allow the cake to bake for a further 10-15 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool within the loaf tin on a cooling rack. Once the cake is completely cool, wrap in greaseproof paper and place in an airtight tin. Eat within 3-5 days.

This cake can be frozen for up to three months. If freezing, wrap in greaseproof paper, as above, then wrap in foil. Allow to defrost at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight. Freezing can cause the crumble topping to become a little soggy, so consider placing in a loaf tin and returning to a 180°C / 350°F oven for 10 minutes to revive, then allow to cool before serving.

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Crumbs!

Printable PDF: Rhubarb Crumble Cake

Teatime Tiffin

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There is something very decadent about Tiffin, and this version is no exception. In fact, given that these chocolate treats are equal parts gooey, chewy, and crunchy, I might even say they were my favourite iteration of this teatime treat. I suppose you could refer to them as refrigerator bars, or perhaps even the British equivalent of Rocky Road (only without the marshmallows) you’d be wrong. I’m not sure how, but Tiffin is in a class of its own.

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This is a very simple version of Tiffin, but it’s simplicity means that the flavours all come through without being muddied. The gooeyness comes from the base of sugar and chocolate flavours. The chewiness comes from dried fruit; I’ve gone with Sultanas as they are a personal favourite and always in the cupboard, but raisins are perhaps the more traditional choice. Finally, the crunch comes from broken pieces of biscuit.

Perhaps these don’t count as actual baking, but this recipe is too good not to share. I can’t really explain how delicious these are, but trust me – you will love these little squares of chocolaty delight.

This recipe calls for Rich Team biscuits in the base, which have just the right ratio of absorbency to crunchiness. If you can’t get your hands on Rich Tea, any hard, not-too-sweet biscuit will do.

Breaking up the biscuits can only really be undertaken with a rolling pin and some elbow grease – using a blender will give you too fine, too uniform a finish, whereas what you really want is a variety of sizes, from crumbs to chunks. You really want a used good quality sealable freezer bag with all the excess air squeezed out – anything less robust may burst, leaving you with crumbs everywhere.

The original recipe measures both the sugar and the drinking chocolate (the sweetened variety you make with milk, not water) in dessert spoons, which gives a lot of leeway on the actual amount used. I like to use heaping spoonfuls, and have dutifully weighed these out to give you the measurements below. These figures can be played with a bit – although adding too much of the dry ingredients will lead to a crumblier slice that may fall apart.

Recipe: – makes 16

Base:

110g / 4 oz unsalted butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

2 dessert spoons (35g) brown sugar

3 dessert spoons (50g) drinking chocolate

110 / 4 oz sultanas or raisins

225g / 8oz rich tea biscuits

To top:

100g milk chocolate

100g dark chocolate

Method:

Lightly grease a 9″/22cm square tin.

Place the biscuits into a good quality freezer bag with a seal. Flatten to remove any excess air before sealing. Using a rolling pin, crush the biscuits until broken up, leaving some larger pieces in amongst the crumbs.

Break up the milk and dark chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl over very hot (but not boiling) water to melt. Stir occasionally until melted.

In a separate large saucepan, melt the butter, syrup, sugar and drinking chocolate together, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the broken biscuits and your dried fruit, and keep stirring until everything is covered in the butter-chocolate mixture.

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Carefully tip this biscuit mix into your prepared tin and press down using the back of the wooden spoon. This can be fiddly as the mixture will be sticky and try to lift itself back out, so having a spare spatula to hand may help.

Pour the melted chocolate over the top. Refrigerate for 45 minutes to allow the base and the chocolate to set.

20180623_143555.jpgRemove from the fridge and allowing to come back up towards room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting into slices to prevent the chocolate from shattering. To slice, loosen the sides with the tip of a sharp knife then tip out from the pan onto a cutting board. Cut the tiffin while it is still chocolate side down to prevent it from breaking apart. This recipe is for 16, however as these are super rich, you may even prefer to divide it into 20 or even 25 pieces.

These can keep up to three days in an airtight container. If the weather is warm, consider keeping them in the fridge, otherwise they can start to crumble.

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Downloadable PDF: Teatime Tiffin

Honey Lemon Cookies

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A lot of people who bake have certain failsafe recipes that they fall back on again and again; mine include a Lemon Drizzle cake my mum introduced me to, my grandmother’s Christmas Cake, and the chocolate Fork Biscuits known in my house as Idiot Biscuits.

Fork Biscuits are incredibly easy to make, and are a great way to introduce children to baking. They are also cheap, fast, and can be made using as little as three ingredients. A large part of what brings me back to them again and again is that their unfussy recipe can easily be adapted into something new whenever the occasion arises. Continue reading “Honey Lemon Cookies”