Monthly Archives: September 2012

British Cheese Week- Cheese Straws

I am a dairy fiend. Any word of a cheese and wine night (a combination of my favourite things in life) and I will be there quicker than you can spell Edam. So the prospect of there being a whole week dedicated to cheese is a dairy dream. So when thursday came along, which is the day Edinburgh Uni’s Bake Soc meets, I dedicated an afternoon to prepare a cheesy feast to present to my fellow bakers. I went for a simple 70’s classic- cheese straws. Puff Pastry is normally my enemy, but with some patience and plenty of time, I managed to conquer my nemesis and I think the end result would be a 70’s hippy’s perfect pre-dinner party nibble.

You can, of course, cheat and buy pre-made puff pastry. After all, if it’s good enough for Mary Berry, it’s good enough for the rest of us. But I made my own.

Cheese Straws.



I made three varieties of cheese straw, a tradition parmesan, a parmesan and garlic pepper straw and a sun-dried tomato and parmesan straw.

For the Puff Pastry;

16 oz or 450g of Plain Flour

2 oz or 60g Lard or Vegetarian equivalent.

10 oz or 300g Unsalted Butter at room temperature.

10 fl oz or 300ml Lukewarm water.

Pinch of Salt.

For the flavourings;

10 oz or 300g Pre-grated Parmesan cheese.

1 oz or 30g sundried tomatoes

Garlic Pepper

1 beaten egg


Puff pastry is not so much laborious, just time consuming, so dedicate an afternoon to it and you should get a good result.

1) Mix together the flour and lard together to form a breadcrumb like consistency. I divided the ingredients into two, as it makes it easier to roll and fold.

2) Add enough water to form a soft,but not sticky, dough. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 20-30 mins.

3) Meanwhile, place the butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper. Start by using your hands to squash the block of butter (its is essential the butter is room temperature and has not come straight from the fridge. Then, using a rolling pin, roll the butter out to form a large rectangle.

4) Remove the dough from the fridge, roll this out to form a rectangle that is larger than the butter rectangle.

5) Remove the butter from the paper and place on top of the pastry dough, then fold this into an envelope shape (one third into the middle, the final third on top of the two other thirds) Using a rolling pin, roll this envelope to form a flat rectangle, then refold into an envelope shape and leave to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

6) Repeat this folding and chilling method 4 more times, this will form the layers of your puff pastry.

7) One the dough has its final roll and chill session, place it on a well floured surface and roll the envelop into a large rectangle for the last time.

8) Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

9) Fill a baking sheet covered in greaseproof paper with the strips, allowing gaps in between each strips. Egg wash the strips and sprinkle parmesan over the top. 8) Cut the dough into strips of around 3cm/1.2 inches thick and 10cm/4 inches long. This amount of pastry will allow for a lot of strips, which will need to be cooked in batches.

10) To twist the straws, grab one end of the pastry strip and hold the other down on to the baking sheet, slowly spin the pastry in a spiral to form around 3 twists and place the other end of the pastry back down on the baking sheet.

11) Egg wash the now exposed sides of the pastry and sprinkle the parmesan all over. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

12) For the Garlic Pepper straws simple sprinkle over some of the pepper whenever you add parmesan.

For the sun-dried tomato:

– Remove as much as the oil from the tomatoes and possible and finely dice.

– When the pastry is flat put the tomato in a line down the centre, once twisted some will have inevitably fallen out of the straw, just push the tomato pieces back into the gaps of the twist, egg-wash and sprinkle with parmesan again as is done with the other varieties.

13) Once all the batches are cooked, leave to cool on a wire rack and serve in tall glasses, so they can stand up!







Cheat’s Celebration Cake.

So this is a little bit of a rip off of Lorraine Pascal’s ‘I can’t believe you made it’ cake (what a babe) It’s basically an easy way to bake a fancy cake. It was the perfect recipe for Twin’s friend’s birthday cake. The sponge itself is a simple all in one method, flavoured with vanilla and raspberries. The buttercream has white chocolate folded through and the decoration is simple but effective, using white chocolate fingers to create almost a basket around the cake and fresh fruit on the top. The red of the raspberries against the creamy lightness of the white chocolate is simple but beautiful.


8oz, 225g caster sugar
8oz butter or margarine
8oz Self raising flour
4 large eggs
1tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla extract (the sponge needs to delicate in order to counteract the tartness of the raspberries, so use extract not essence to avoid an artificial taste)
200g raspberries.

200g butter or margarine
500g sifted icing sugar
150g melted white chocolate
6tbsp raspberry jam (I used raspberry and red currant, following my jamboree)
200g raspberries
3 packs of Cadbury white chocolate fingers ( or any similar shaped biscuit)


1) Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 200 degrees. Then cream together the butter and sugar, by hand or in a mixer if you feel like really cheating. Once creamed together add in the eggs and vanilla extract and mix until smooth and totally combined.
2) Sift together the self raising flour and baking powder. Combine with the butter, sugar mixture.
3) Grease and line an 8 inch tin, drop a couple of the raspberries into the bottom of the tin. Pour over 1/3 of the cake batter, sprinkle more raspberries on and add another layer of batter, repeat until all the raspberries and batter are in the tin. This method is more effective as the soft texture of raspberries will not disintegrate and smush into the cake mixture, which would happen if stirred straight into the mixture.
4) Put the cake in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 35-45 mins, until light, spongy and cooked all the way through. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
5) Meanwhile,to make the buttercream combine the sieved icing sugar, butter and melted white chocolate (do not put the chocolate in straight after it’s melted, leave to cool but not set) you may need to add more icing sugar to keep it at a smooth, but not runny consistency.
6) Cut your now cool cake in half, spread the jam on one side and some of the buttercream on the other, sandwich them together as you would with a Victoria sponge.
7) Spread the remaining buttercream across the entire cake, ensure around a 3mm thick layer minimum, in order for there to be enough cream to stick the chocolate biscuits on to the side of the cake. Once covered place the chocolate fingers (or biscuit equivalent) side by side to form a barrier around the cake. Leave for a minimum of 2 hours in a reasonably cool place (but not your fridge!) in order for the buttercream to set.
8) When ready to serve tumble the raspberries on top, the biscuits will form a wall to stop them falling off, so pile a load on and enjoy!

p.s my photo is of the cake once it had travelled all the way down to essex, so it wasn’t perfect following the journey, I’m sure your’s will be much better!

Veggie Fortnight- Nights Nine and Ten

It seems to be becoming a habit that I fail to document one day and have to make up for it on the next. Night nine consisted of a LOT of vegetarian food, a reappearance of pizza pittas and some home made fettuccine with spinach pesto, roasted tomatoes and chilli. But your imaginations will have to suffice as I have no pictures (and you can probably imagine a better looking meal than I can make, if I’m being honest) Moving on to Night Ten…

Night Ten.

Night ten followed a similar italian theme with Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi. A quick and easy recipe for a lazy evening in watching Great British Bake Off. Unlike normal Gnocchi it contains no potato, which gives it a slightly looser texture and a less uniform look, but if the spinach gnocchi are kept small they’ll cook well and look reasonably neat (like tiny little dumplings).

Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi. 




200g spinach leaves

handful of parsley

140g of ricotta

85g plain flour

50g feta cheese

2 medium eggs

Salt and Pepper to taste


1) Place the spinach in a deep bowl, pour over boiling water and leave for two minutes to wilt, afterwards drain and using a tea towel or kitchen paper squeeze as much excess water out as possible. Then finely chop ( it will be one big mush)

2) In a bowl mix together the spinach, ricotta, chopped parsley, plain flour, feta cheese (crumbled into small pieces), beaten eggs and season to taste.

3) Fill a wide, shallow bowl with water, this will be to dip you hands into in order to form your gnocchi balls with ease. Take a small amount of the mixture and roll into a small ball, around 1cm in diameter. Place on a plate and refrigerate for 30 mins.

4) Bring a large pan of water to boil, once at boiling point turn the temperature down slightly. Cook the gnocchi in batches so they do not stick together (keep the cooked batched in a low oven to keep warm) The gnocchi will sink at first, once it floats to the top, give it one more minute to cook and remove from the water with a slotted spoon, ensuring to leave behind as much liquid as possible. Continue until all the batches are cooked. I served mine with a green salad, chilli mushrooms and a poached egg.




P.S, I freaking love this song, 


Veggie Fortnight- Nights Seven and Eight

Night Seven was spent at a party (where I fought the urge to indulge in a hog roast, I think this is medal worthy) so no pictures.

So on to Night Eight, where Twin whipped up a light post-work meal of stuffed marrow (another PYO bargain) Tonights meal was our first foray into meat substitutes and I was adequately impressed. Inside the marrow was quorn mince cooked in chopped plum tomatoes and garlic, the left over PYO carrots and topped with feta cheese… a very tasty, quick and more importantly- vegetarian meal!

Veggie Fortnight- Nights Five and Six

Night five of ‘Veggie Fortnight’ was spent at work (where both myself and Twin maintained our veggie promises) and ended around 12am with the following meal, well snack.

Almond topped Iced Bun.

Night Six.

Night six was much more successful, and brought about another, different kind of bread recipe. I used a recipe for Naan bread from the bbcgoodfood website (aka my Bible) and found it pretty easy to follow and very quick. The result wasn’t as soft as shop-bought or restaurant naan’s but I think that will come with a bit of practice.However, the taste was great and the basic Naan recipe is very adaptable, although I did just stick with a simple garlic and coriander. The Naan accompanied a Courgette and Aubergine curry, wild rice, mint raita and pickled carrots.

Here’s a link to the Naan recipe , if you’re feeling an indian feast coming on.


Veggie Fortnight- Night Four

I say night four, but what I really mean is late lunch four, as I have to work this evening our veggie experiment has been pushed forward a few hours. Today’s meal is pitta bread pizzas with courgette and mint. Served with a carrot and beetroot ‘slaw and a green salad.

I made the breads myself based on a Nigella Lawson recipe, with a few adjustments;

Pitta bread


250g strong white flour

7.5 gramms easy blend yeast

1 tsp salt

Cracked black pepper to season

1 tbsp of natural yoghurt

1 tbsp olive oil

150ml lukewarm water


1) Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl, create a well for the wet ingredients. In a measuring jug beat together the oil and yoghurt, then add the water.
2) Pour the liquid into the well, combine with a wooden spoon. Do not add all the liquid at once , steadily combine it to form a smooth dough.
3) Place on a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes to create an elastic dough.
4) Grease a bowl with olive oil and place the dough in it, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to prove, this will take a minimum of an hour but can be left for several.
5) Once the dough has doubled inside, place on a floured surface and knead again for several minutes. Then divide the mixture into four equal balls.
6) Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to form an oval/circle shape with a thickness of about half a centimetre.
7) Place on a baking tray, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for a further 20-30 minutes.
8) Preheat the oven to 220 degrees/gas mark 7.
9) Remove the tea towel and put the baking tray in the oven, bake for 10 mins until the pittas are golden brown and have puffed up.
10) As soon as you remove them from the oven cover with a tea towel, this will trap the steam in and keep the breads moist.

For the actual flatbread pizza’s you can use any topping, we used courgette, mint and mozzarella. But anything would work!