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JAMMIE DODGERS

jammie dodgers

On one of our many road trips we were enjoying breakfast at a B&B when the people who were sharing our table, upon hearing our British accents asked us if we liked Dr Who. (Weirdly this isn’t the first time this has happened, it seems it’s a fairly standard thing to ask us Brits) They proceeded to explain that they were such big fans that when the 50th anniversary episode was screened over here they celebrated by eating fish fingers and custard and even managed to source some jammie dodgers. I asked if they substituted the custard for hollandaise or the fish fingers for cake but apparently they were quite ‘authentic’ in their dedication to Whovianism. Hardcore!
It hadn’t occurred to me that Jammie Dodgers weren’t a thing over here but seeing as it’s Mr Colonial Cravings turn to supply the cookies for cookie club I thought I’d give making homemade ones a bash. Apparently the first rule of cookie club is ‘get your wife to do the baking.’
These are less crunchy than the shop bought version but they are far more buttery and indulgent as the biscuits are essentially a rich shortbread. Think of these as an upgrade to your afternoon cuppa.

jammie dodgers

If making them look like button seems like a bit too much effort then you can just cut one single larger hole out of the top.

Ingredients
makes about 18

220g butter
110g sugar
340g plain flour

seedless raspberry jam (about 1/4 of a jar)

Cream together the butter and sugar and then beat in the flour until you have a cohesive dough.
Roll the dough out until it is 5mm thick. I like to do this on a silicone mat with the dough covered with a piece of greaseproof paper so that I don’t work any extra flour into the mixture. Cover the dough with cling film and let it rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Whilst it’s relaxing you can pre-heat the oven and lightly grease several large baking sheets (or just bake them on silicone mats.)

jammie dodgers
Once the dough is ready cut out lots circles using a 5 cm cutter, remember that you need an even number because they get sandwiched together. Keep gently re-rolling the dough until it all used.
Space the circles out on your prepared trays, leave 1-2 cm between them. Use a small glass to make a slight indent around the edge of half of the biscuits and then use a piping nozzle to cut out four little holes.
Bake the biscuits for 10 minutes then remove them from the oven and sprinkle the tops (ie the ones with the holes in) with a little sugar. Let them sit for minute and then place a small blob of jam on each of the biscuits that will become the bottoms. Half a teaspoon is about right, any more and it tends to bubble over. Spread this a little (not too close to the edges) and then carefully sit the tops on the jam covered bottoms. I find it easiest to use palate knife for this. Return the biscuits to the oven to bake for a further five minutes, they should be just starting to turn brown once they are done. Allow to cool on the tray for 5-10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before enjoying.

jammie dodgers

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LEXI’S LEBKUCHEN TORTE

lebkuchen torte

An embarrassingly long time ago my lovely friend Lexi (she who bakes the really good muffins) asked me if I could make Sachertorte on here. She told me that she’d never had it but thought that it sounded pretty delicious. I have also never had it. This means I don’t really feel qualified to make a convincing version of it. I’ve done a fair bit of research into it and I have largely found that no two recipes are the same. Some say use almonds, some say don’t. Some use two layers of apricot jam and others just one. It’s a minefield! Apparently there have even been legal battles over it.
I realise that I could make umpteen different versions of it and pick my favourite but (rather perversely, considering the nature of this blog) I hate to follow a recipe to the letter. My kitchen is very much a place for free-styling – I try to tell myself that it’s creativity but more often than not it’s laziness!

lebkuchen torte
So I have decided to make a cake specially for Lexi (yes, I know you live about 3500 miles away in Cheltenham but it’s the thought that counts…and I promise to make another one for you when I move back) She has acute Germanophilia so I have taken the liberty of giving this a lebkuchen twist (I bloomin’ love lebkuchen) and used gingerbread instead of chocolate sponge but I’ve kept the combination of apricot and rich chocolate glaze from her original sachertorte request.

lebkuchen torte

The sponge is just the recipe from my gingerbread latte cupcakes, baked in a couple of standard cake tins for 30-35 minutes. The only small addition I made was to add a splash of booze at the end of the mixing. I couldn’t help myself.

Swiss buttercream does require a bit more effort than normal frosting but it’s really quite a different beast. It has a much smoother, creamier texture and isn’t nearly as sickly. It’s more luxurious and sophisticated and worth the extra effort.

Ingredients
serves 12-16

1 quantity gingerbread sponge mixture (https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/gingerbread-latte-cupcakes/)

Jam layer
2tbsp jam
1 tbsp brandy/dark rum/whisky

Swiss buttercream
1 egg white
50g sugar
70g butter (room temperature and cut into small pieces)
3 tbsp apricot jam

Chocolate glaze
200g good quality dark chocolate
40g butter
2tbsp golden syrup
4 tbsp cream

lebkuchen torte

Bake the sponge in a couple of sandwich tins and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
For the jam layers simply warm the jam a little and mix it with the booze. Brush this onto both sides of the sponge that will touch the buttercream. Don’t feel obliged to use all of this mixture if you think that the jam layer will be too thick (I had about 1 tablespoon left over)
Now it’s time to get started on the Swiss buttercream. Put the egg white and sugar in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Gently whisk it together whilst it heats, it needs to be quite warm and the sugar needs to have dissolved into the egg white. Just rub a little between your fingers to check the temperature and that it isn’t grainy. Remove the pan from the heat and then whisk the egg white until it is stiff (like meringue) and cool. Once you’re at this point you can slowly beat in the butter, one small piece at a time. Continue to whip the buttercream until it has emulsified and become smooth and creamy. Mix in the apricot jam.
Spread the buttercream onto the base of the cake, going as close to the edges as you can without it squidging out when you place on the top layer.
Finally you need to glaze the whole thing. Melt together the chocolate and butter in a small pan, stirring constantly over a very low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the syrup and cream.
Leave the glaze to cool and thicken slightly for a few minutes. Place the assembled cake on a wire rack set over a large plate (to catch any drips.) Pour the glaze over the cake and spread it out with a palate knife so that it drips down the sides to cover them too. Try to make the top as smooth as possible. If the glaze becomes too thick to spread smoothly then simply re-warm it a little.
This will keep for several days in an airtight container.

lebkuchen torte

Tip: If you think that you might end up with a gap where the filling is then take a few tablespoons of the glaze and put them in the fridge to thicken to a ganache-type consistency. You can then use this to fill in any gaps before you pour on the final shiny top coat.

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PEACH AND HERB JAM

Peach and herb jam
This was made purely as a way of using things up. Whilst rummaging in my overfilled fruit bowl I discovered some slightly geriatric peaches, not too far gone but the skins were certainly starting to get the sort of wrinkles I wouldn’t be happy with! We also still have several chilis growing on our deck, along with some basil and oregano, all seemingly in denial about the rapidly retreating warmth and sun.
That’s kind of the point of jam making though isn’t it? Preserving what you can’t consume now, it also means that in the gloom of winter you can open a jar of summer!

Ingredients

makes one large jar

400g peaches
400g sugar
juice of 1/2 lime
1 red chili
8ish basil leaves
2 sprigs of oregano

Peach and herb jam

Put a small saucer in the freezer to test the jam later for setting point.

Roughly chop the fruit. You can peel it if you’re that way inclined but I can never muster the energy to do that. I quite like the skin in the jam, it reminds me of the chunky apricot jam that we always used to eat slathered on crusty baguettes in France.
Put this in a large pan and stir in the sugar and lime juice. Stab the chili with the point of a knife. I tend to go a little bit Norman Bates with mine because I like quite a lot of warmth from it but do it less if you want to keep it subtle.
Put this in the pan too and place it over a moderate heat. Bring the mixture to a gentle rolling boil and leave it to bubble for around 30 minutes.
Test the jam to see if it’s reached setting point by dropping a spoonful of it onto the saucer that you put in the freezer earlier. Leave it to cool for a moment then push your finger through it, if the surface wrinkles then it’s ready. Once it has reached this point turn off the heat, remove the chili and stir in the chopped fresh herbs.
Pour the jam into warm sterilized jars, label, seal and leave to cool.

Peach and herb jam

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BLACKBERRY AND ROSEMARY JAM

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Jam isn’t hard work. I think a lot of people assume that it is and are bit scared of making their own. It’s actually pretty quick and if you use homegrown or foraged fruit it’s pretty cheap too.
I’ve talked about my love of blackberry picking and my many fond memories of it before but I have to say that there aren’t many bushes local to me now so I had to use frozen fruit for this. The rosemary was homegrown if that redeems me at all…
Mr Colonial Cravings is pretty obsessed with tea and so my kitchen drawers are awash with various infusers. These are perfect for popping the rosemary in but if you don’t have one of these you can just tie it up in a little muslin bag.

Makes 2 jars

600g blackberries
600g sugar
juice 1/2 lemon
3 sprigs fresh rosemary.
1-2 tbsp water
small knob butter

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Put a small saucer in the freezer to chill, you’ll need this later to test for a setting point.
Simmer the fruit with the lemon juice and water for 5 minutes to release the juices. Strip the leaves from the rosemary stalks and tie them up in a muslin bag or put them in a tea infuser. Add this to the pan. Stir in the sugar and bring the mixture to a gentle rolling boil for 20-25 minutes.
Test for setting by dropping a teaspoon of the jam onto the chilled saucer. Let it cool and push your finger through it, if the surface wrinkles then it’s ready. If not let it boil for a few more minutes. Skim most of the scum off the surface of the jam and add a knob of butter to disperse any that remains. Carefully pour the jam into warm sterilized jars, seal, label and leave to cool. It’s as easy as that!

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NO-CHURN CREAM TEA ICE CREAM

The other week I made a batch of scones which resulted in an odd number. Rather than subject the last one to a battle of greed with Mr Colonial Cravings I decided to incorporate it into a recipe to share.

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This is my last-ditch attempt to hang onto the tastes of summer. It is strictly for tea lovers though, especially those who like their tea sweet. Having said that however, you don’t want the flavour of the tea to be overpowering so choose a slightly more delicate blend for this, I used Darjeeling. PG tips just isn’t going to cut it here I’m afraid…
It is very important to chill the cream completely after infusing it with the tea or it simply won’t whip. It’s also a good idea to chill the bowl and whisk too.
Be sure to take the ice cream out of the freezer a few minutes before serving so that the little nuggets of scone can soften a little.

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Ingredients
makes approx 1 litre

300ml double cream
175g condensed milk
4 tsp strawberry jam
1 tsp loose leaf tea (preferably Darjeeling)
1 scone (crumbled into little chunks)

Place the tea and half of the cream in a small saucepan and gently steep the mixture over a low heat for a few minutes, but don’t let it boil. Chill this in the fridge before straining and discarding the tea leaves.
Whip the other half of the cream along with half of the condensed milk until stiff and fluffy.
In a separate bowl whip the tea flavoured cream with the rest of the condensed milk. This might take a little longer to reach the fluffy stage but so long as it is cold enough it’ll get there.
In a freezable container ripple together the two cream mixtures with the crumbled scone and jam. Freeze until firm.

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PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY CUPCAKES

Moving to the other side of the Atlantic has meant that we have missed out on celebrating birthdays with our nearest and dearest, and some of them were pretty big birthdays (you know who you are.)Luckily four of our closest friends are coming to stay with us so we have a chance to re-create some of the celebrations that we missed.

However, if you’re coming on holiday to the USA you don’t want to be presented with a taste of home do you? And what could be more American than cupcakes? Well PB & J cupcakes of course!

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I always rely on the Hummingbird Bakery recipe whenever I need to make a vanilla sponge. It’s such a good recipe and uses a lot less butter than a traditional sponge. I actually didn’t realise that I had run out of plain flour when I started to make this so I had to improvise by using self raising flour and halving the amount of baking powder. The batter still produced very tasty cakes though.

Ingredients

Sponge
80g soft butter
280g sugar
240g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
240ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

Frosting
150g soft butter
120g smooth peanut butter
250g icing sugar
1 tbs milk

Seedless jam (I used raspberry)

Preheat your oven to 190°c.
Sift together the flour and baking powder then combine this with the other dry ingredients. Use an electric mixer to beat in the butter.
In a seperate bowl or jug mix together the milk, eggs and vanilla. Mix the liquids into the dry ingredients a third at a time until you have a smooth, fairly liquid batter.
Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases and fill each one to about two thirds with the batter.

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Bake for 20 minutes, give or take, until the cakes have risen and are nicely browned.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.

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Once the cakes are completely cool cut a small section out of the top of each one. If you have an apple corer this will do the job quickly and easily. Fill the resulting hole with jam and replace the little sponge cap.

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To make the frosting beat together the butter and the peanut butter. Sift in the icing sugar and add the milk. Continue to beat everything together until smooth and fluffy. Let this chill for 10 minutes or so to firm up a little.

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Either pipe or simply spread on top of the cupcakes.

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Enjoy – even if you don’t have six birthdays to celebrate!

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VIENNESE WHIRLS

I’m not really much of one for shop bought treats. The way I see it I’d just be depriving myself of the joy of creating them. I’m also pretty sure that they would contain all manner of things that don’t really need to be there.

There is however one exception to this. Viennese whirls. I can’t resist them. So meltingly buttery, crisp and crumbly all at the same time. I don’t care if they are plain, dipped in chocolate or filled with jam and buttercream, they’re all good and I don’t think that I’ve ever been known to turn one down.

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Given my love for them I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to try making my own but I’m really glad I finally did. I had some of the ganache and buttercream left over from the Salted Caramel Chocolate layer cake and was looking for a vehicle to use it up. These were ideal. I say were because they are so good that we polished them off in a couple of days! (see, who needs preservatives…)

The icing sugar blends very easily with the butter meaning that you don’t have to worry about over beating and splitting it. Substituting part of the flour for corn flour reduces the gluten slightly resulting in a more tender, delicate texture.

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These are really easy to make with only the most basic of piping skills. As long as you use a decent sized star shaped nozzle they’ll look pretty once they’re cooked no-matter how inept you are, and I’m a case in point.

Presuming your butter is nice and soft these require very little effort and you can whip up a batch in no time.

Ingredients

125g very soft butter

25g icing sugar

125g plain flour

25g corn flour

Pre-heat the oven to 190°c.

Cream together the butter and icing sugar. Provided the butter is soft this shouldn’t take very long.

Sift the corn flour and plain flour together into the butter and sugar. Mix this altogether until you have a very soft batter-like dough.

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Fill a piping bag fitted with a very large star shaped nozzle with the dough. Pipe the biscuits onto a lined baking tray in any shape you like, just make sure you leave space between them to allow for spreading.

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Bake for 15 minutes until they are slightly golden. Place the biscuits onto a wire rack to cool.

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Fill with ganache, buttercream, jam, anything that takes your fancy really. Or half dip them in dark chocolate. Or just leave them plain if you want to get them in your mouth that little bit sooner…

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