Change of address

Hello!

As my baking has expanded more into making, I have changed the blog to: foxymakes.wordpress.com.

You will be able to find all the old Foxybakes posts on there, but there will also be in other content.

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It’s been a while

Hello. You probably have given up on this blog by now… Fair enough. I haven’t posted in a while as life has been a bit crazy. I have moved country in the past few months and am trying to find my feet back in my homeland of Holland.

I am continuing my journey for the perfect macaron and I will blog about this later.

The Bake Off is back, so yay! I will also jot down my thoughts on that in the next few weeks.

Clandestine Cake Club – Chocolate Fudge Cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake filled with Chocolate Meringue Buttercream, iced with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Chocolate Fudge Cake filled with Chocolate Meringue Buttercream, iced with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Wow, long time, no see. What can I say? I have been busy? I haven’t baked very much? All of the above basically… I’ve been tired and haven’t felt very inspired to bake things the last few months. But, then there was a meeting of Clandestine Cake Club a few days ago in Bracknell. I had only been once before as somehow it tends to fall whenever I have to work in the evening. But I could make it this time and the theme was Celebration Cakes as it was the first birthday of the Bracknell club.

So, I made a special cake. And it was scrumptious. The result was a rich cake with a light filling and although it could’ve been really sweet, it wasn’t. I made the chocolate fudge cake that was part of our wedding cake last year. But I decided to learn how to make a new kind (well, new to me anyway) buttercream and use that to fill the cake. I used my trusty Leith’s Baking Bible and made a cooked buttercream, which basically makes it like a soft meringue. I then iced it with salted caramel buttercream. A few people asked for the recipe, so here goes.

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Gateau Breton

*waves*

It’s been a while! Sorry. It’s been busy here, I’ve worked a lot, have been away to see my family, and it’s left very little time for baking things.

So today I made one of my favourite things: Gateau Breton, or butter cake, or if you’re Dutch boterkoek. I haven’t had this in many years and a few weeks ago I was in a restaurant in Amsterdam and they had it on their dessert menu and I just knew I had to make it. It’s undoubtedly one of the most unhealthy things you ever put through your mouth, and you should only have small servings as it’s rich!

It’s basically butter, sugar, flour and egg yolk. Sound nice? This is the recipe (from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess):

Gateau Breton

225g plain flour, preferably Italian 00
250g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter cut into cubes (get the best quality you can afford, it will make a difference)
6 large egg yolks

1 x 25cm springform tin, buttered well (and I would put some baking paper on the base; I didn’t and it’s now stuck to the tin, whoops)

Glaze
1 teaspoon of yolk from your 6
1 tablespoon of water

1. Preheat oven to 190°C/gas mark 5. Mix the glaze and put aside while you get on with your gateaux.

2. Put the flour in a bowl (I never bother to sieve 00 flour because it’s so finely milled, but if you’;re using regular plain flour then do so), stir in the sugar and add butter and yolks.

3. With the dough hook attachment of the mixer, slowly whirr till you’ve got a smooth golden dough. If you’re making this by hand. make a mound of the flour on a worktop , then make a well in it and add the sugar, butter and eggs and knead to mix.

4. Scoop this dough into the tin, and smooth the top with a floured hand: expect it to be very sticky; indeed it should be.

5. Brush gateau with the glaze, and mark a lattice pattern design on top with the prongs of a fork. For a reason I am not technically proficient enough to explain, sometimes the tine marks leave a firm, striated imprint; at others, they barely show once the cake’s cooked (mine didn’t show, oh well).

6. Bake for 15 minutes then turn the oven down to 180 C/gas mark 4 for 15 min and give it another 25 minutes or so until it’s golden at the top and firm to the touch.

7. Let it cool completely in the tin before unmoulding it. It will keep well if you’ve got a reliably airtight tin. when you come to eat it, either cut it in traditional – though slightly narrower – cake-like wedges or, as I prefer if I’m eating it at the end of dinner, criss-cross making irregularly shaped diamonds.

Serves 8-10 (It will serve probably double as it’s so rich!)

Making it and eating a wedge, brought me right back to my childhood. The ultimate comfort food on a wet day like this. It was accompanied by a mug of hot chocolate in the new mug and wee plate MrFoxyBakes bought for me in Amsterdam. It’s by Blond, in case you like the funky drawings…

Empire biscuits – a household favourite

Empire biscuits

A tasty favourite!

MrFoxyBakes hails from Scotland. A few years ago he introduced me to some very tasty biscuits called Empire biscuits. You can get them in most supermarkets north of the border. We would always bring back a few packs of the lovely treats, but we would miss them when we ran out.

So, I did some googling and ‘lo and behold, I found a recipe. A few actually. And I think I finally found the one we like the most.

What makes en empire biscuit so special is the combination of jam, thick icing and a little sweet on top. Yum. They’re rich, but so delicious!

This is the recipe I now use. It’s in imperial measurements, which I haven’t bothered to convert, as my scales do both… The recipe is from the Hairy Bikers’ Mums Know Best programme.

6oz butter
6oz plain flour
2oz icing sugar
2oz corn flour
Strawberry or raspberry jam
24 glacé cherries (I hate glacé cherries, so I use little sugar coated squishy sweets. I get them in Waitrose in the baking section.)
Icing:
Icing sugar
Water

1. Mix the ingredients into a bowl until you have a ball of dough in your hand. My advice would be to pop it in the fridge for a bit, as I found the dough too warm and soft to roll and cut.
2. Roll the dough with a floured rolling pin and create a circle about ¼ inch thick.
3. Use a cooking cutter to prise out 24 circular shapes. I never found to get 24 shapes, so I must be using a larger cutter. I don’t mind though, as I get about 16, so 8 biscuits, which is 4 each and that’s about right in our house as they don’t stay right for longer than a few days.
4. Place the 24 pieces on a baking tray.
5. Place in oven at 180ºC for 10-12 mins.
6. Remove from oven before golden brown.
7. Leave to cool.
8. To ice the biscuits mix icing sugar and water in a bowl.
9. Put strawberry or raspberry jam on 12 of the pieces and top with the other 12 pieces.
10. Ice the biscuits, using an icing bag. (I don’t use an icing bag, I use a palette knife and make sure the icing is properly thick, just about spreading consistency)
11. Pop a glacé cherry (or sweet in my case) on the top of each biscuit for decoration.
12. Eat! Just not all at once as it will make you feel ill. Trust me…

The Bake Off – my thoughts

So, it’s been a week since the Bake Off final and John won it! I really did not have him down as a potential winner, but he came up trumps when it mattered and I’m very pleased he won. I really hope he gets to go to Paris and become a patissier extraordinaire! He deserves it.

I think James will be just fine. He will set up some crazy bakery and write tons of books and will probably get a TV deal at some point. I like his attitude to baking, I really wish I was as unflappable as him!

As for Brendan… well… His baking was of a really high standard, but as a homebaker I just couldn’t relate to his bakes. He was also way too traditional for my liking, and he hardly experimented with flavours. He never seemed to push himself, whereas the others did.

I am sad it’s done for another year. But I celebrated by doing some baking this evening for my first ever Clandestine Cake Club meeting tomorrow! It’s a Dutch Spiced Apple Cake. I’ve made it before for MrFoxyBakes’ birthday treat at work, but never tasted it. That shall be rectified tomorrow!

The Great British Bake Off – semi final!!!

It’s semi-final time people! How very exciting! We have left: Brendan, Danny, James and John. And it’s French week and there’s a shot of a snail. Yuk. That’s for the snail, not French week as I love French baked good. Which reminds me, I still need to blog about Paris. I will do that this week. I also need to blog about the spiced apple cake I made for MrFoxyBakes’ birthday at the weekend.

Let’s see what our bakers come up with in the signature challenge: petit-fours. Delicate! Ooooh, macarons. Dangerous… And chilli sugar… James… Really? If that works, hats off to you, my friend. And I will want your recipe. I am still on my journey to find the perfect macaron, as well documented on this blog, so my sympathies to the bakers. MrFoxyBakes has said he’ll be able to make perfect macarons, by applying his chemistry skills and common sense. I may put him to the test and blog about it…

Anyway, back to the bake off. Quite conservative flavours, apart from James with his chilli sugar! Well, Brendan’s swans look very dainty. And James! Water with your chocolate… Eeep, you brave man! And wow, you pulled it off, you clever man. And this is why I like James to win, he tries out new techniques and flavours, Brendan is just too much in his comfort zone for my liking. And I think it will be between these two for the final.

Danny’s macarons look amazing, that purple, beautiful! And an interesting combination of flavours, blueberry and peppermint. Interesting!

Technical challenge, blimmin‘ heck. ‘Make a génoise sponge’. Now, that’s bare as James said. I have yet to make a génoise sponge, I have some good recipes in my Leith’s Baking Bible, so I will have to give this a go at some point. And why why why do they need to use marzipan? Otherwise this fraisier sounds amazing… I wonder if fondant would do the job… Oh no, poor Danny, her creme patissiere hasn’t set properly. And nor has Brendans, so he’s not perfect after all.

And we have three gateaux St Honoré. I never had one, but I am planning on making one for a special occasion, maybe for Christmas. And James is making a Paris-Brest, another cake I have yet to tackle. I do worry a bit about him not really planning his bakes though.

I do feel sorry for John, it’s not his week, but I’m loving the sound and look of James’ slightly improvised attempt at a bike… But even though John worries, his bakes have worked out well this week.

Well, my vote is James for star baker. I think John will go home.

Yay James! Star baker!

Who is going home?

It’s Danny… Wow, did not expect that really.

The Great British Bake Off – week 8

Five bakers left, does this mean we only have three episodes to go?

I am multi-tasking on this post: watching the Bake Off, whilst blogging and getting some wedding photos ready to go on Facebook… So, crisp bakes. Yum! I’m liking the sound of Danny’s Moroccan crisp bakes. But oh dear, Kathryn doesn’t have a good start to the week, they look very dark.

Oooh, tea cakes, lovely. But in that heat, not great baking weather… That heat must be punishing! And I do wonder if Kathryn’s decision not to chill is going to be an issue… And it was…

Up next, gingerbread ‘structures’. DON’T make a house as Paul will smash it! Some of these structures look very impressive… on paper… Let’s see what happens when they need to be constructed!

Interesting to hear about the history of gingerbread. In Holland, you get speculaas, which is very similar. Actually, now it’s autumn I will just have to make some. I have little molds as well to make the biscuits.

Well, back to the structures, Brendan’s looked amazing! So neat! And well done James for star baker! Go James! I do like James.

Oh, poor Kathryn. I guess we saw this one coming.

The Great British Bake Off – week 7

It’s week 7, with 7 bakers left. And it’s sweet doughs this week. Signature challenge is buns, most bakers seem to fancy the Chelsea bun, or a variety thereof. Now, I’d never been a fan of Chelsea buns, there’s something about the raisins that I just don’t like. Until I went to Fitzbillies in Cambridge earlier this year and had the best Chelsea buns, they were delicious!

This episode is going to be pun-tastic, right? Sue’s already had some terrible ones… But seeing all these buns being made, I want some buns. I’m personally quite partial to a nice cinnamon bun. I wonder if our friends we’ll be going to see this weekend would care for some homemade buns…

Cathryn’s buns look lovely, but did Danny put a glacé cherry on top of her gorgeous Bakewell-type buns? Or is it a normal cherry? If it’s a glacé one, then no no no no no, awful…

So, doughnuts originate in Holland. I did not know that and Mel’s pronunciation of the Dutch word was so bad, I don’t think I could tell what it was. After looking on Wikipedia, I learned that they meant ‘oliekoek‘ or ‘oliebol‘, the latter is a tasty and traditional sweet snack you eat on New Year’s Eve with masses of powdered sugar! I have made many an oliebol in my time, with varied success. It’s so difficult to get them right as you run the risk of them being really greasy or too doughy and undercooked.

Some of these doughnuts are absolutely huge! And I think Sarah-Jane is in trouble…

On to the showstopper. Loaves! Oooooh, I love making enriched dough loaves. Every year, without fail, I make stollen. And that’s probably what I would’ve made if it was me in the kitchen. I have an amazing recipe for a non-marzipan stollen. I love the soft marzipan, but MrFoxybakes hates it. I found a recipe which uses apricots and nuts and then the dough gets mixed with white chocolate, apricots, raisins, currants and nuts. It’s amazing. And Sarah-Janes loaf sounds amazing too; cherry, chocolate and marzipan. Yum! And Brendan, yet again, is King of 70s retro baking.

And two people will be leaving. I wonder who… I think Brendan will win the whole thing, as he’s been baking so well and so consistently. I think Ryan and Sarah-Jane will go. But then again, maybe John.

Yay, for Danny as star baker, makes a change. And I was right, Sarah-Jane and Ryan. Damn, I had Sarah-Jane down as a finalist in the first few weeks, but she’s not been baking great these past weeks.