Welcome to I Love to Bake’s first blog of 2016. Sorry it has take a while, this year really has got off to a hectic start!
As you all know I absolutely love making cakes and I use any excuse to whip up a beautiful, full sized cake. But I also love trying new things and I feel like I would love to get more experience in other types of baking.
So, with this in mind I decided I would step out of my comfort zone and expand my repertoire. I decided to take inspiration from The Great British Bake Off and will be making one thing each month from a different theme. January was “Biscuit Month” and I made Chocolate and Peanut Butter cookies and Lemon Macaroons from The Hummingbird Bakery’s Home Sweet Home book. Here’s how I got on.
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Grated zest of one lemon
230g icing sugar (sifted)
115g ground almonds
Makes 15-20 macaroons
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F), Gasmark 4, and line three baking trays with baking parchment.
2. Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and vanilla extract, then continue to whisk the egg whites until they are thick, white and glossy.
3. Using a rubber spatula, gently and gradually fold in the lemon zest, icing sugar and ground almonds.
4. Put the mixture into the piping bag and pipe cookies onto the prepared baking trays, each about 5cm (2in) in diameter as they will spread. (Alternatively, you can use a dessertspoon to spoon the mixture onto the trays in dollops, but your macaroons will come out less evenly shaped). Make sure to keep the cookies about 5cm (2in) apart from each other on the tray.
5. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes or until a golden colour and a nice shell has formed.
6. Allow to cool slightly and then remove from the baking sheet using a palette knife. Be careful as they can stick and easily crack. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before serving
Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookies
170g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
115g unsalted butter, softened
120g crunchy peanut butter
120g caster sugar, plus 40g extra for rolling
90g soft light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Makes 20-30 cookies
1. Preheat the oven to 170 C, Gas mark 3, and line two to three baking trays with baking parchment.
2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
3. Using a hand-held electric whisk or a free-standing electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, peanut butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. With the speed on slow, add the dry ingredients and mix until combined and a dough is formed.
4. Put the extra caster sugar in a small bowl. Roll the dough into 4-5cm (1.5-2in) balls, and roll each ball in the caster sugar to coat. Place the dough balls onto the prepared baking trays, keeping them about 4cm (1.5-2in) apart.
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cookies have a crusty surface and have cracked. Cool completely before serving.
As with the lemon macaroons these cookies will continue to cook when you take them out of the oven so make sure you don’t overbake them – mine were a little crispier around the edges than I would have liked. The recipe says to wait for the cookies to cool before eating them but I have to confess that I didn’t have enough willpower – they are delicious slightly warm!
If any of you have done or are planning to do any baking challenges I would love to know! Stay tuned for more GBBO inspired challenges – February is cake week and I am attempting a naked layer cake!