Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas Baking

With a new oven we thought baking would be a doddle. No more uneven heat, eternal cooking times, burning or underdone food.

Well, the cooking part of the baking went well but we struggled with temperatures, dough and butter.

Sugar and Golden Syrup melting over a low heat
Here we attempt Honeycomb Toffee (like what you get in a Crunchie) from a Nigella recipe. We've attempted this six times and all times, including last night, we have failed. Last night's failures were first because the mixture got too hot and burned before we put in the bicarb then the second batch we panicked and took it off the heat too early. At least the second is edible. It is crunchy to begin with but soon turns to sticky, chewy toffee in your mouth.

It's lovely but not exactly what we were going for.

Benny, our new kitchen and, in the background, our wonky blackboard
We then made simple cheese biscuits, which I forgot to photograph. Just mix 100g mature cheddar cheese, 100g flour and 100g butter together until it forms a stiff dough. If it goes all crumbly like mine did last night just add a little more softened butter until you can roll it out.

Cut out shapes and lay on a greased baking tray, sprinkle with a little paprika for decoration and bake at 180 degrees for 15-20 mins.

Snowball cookies in the process of being rolled in icing sugar
We also made Snowball Cookies. These looked really simple to make just 100g of softened butter mixed with 75g of icing sugar to make buttercream (I was tempted to stop here and just eat the butter cream) then combine that with 150g of flour, 25g chopped almonds, 25g chopped walnuts and the zest of a lemon.

That should then apparently form a dough. No such luck. It was just crumbly and would not stick together. I ended up putting in at least another 100g of butter. It then has to sit in the fridge for 30 mins. Afterwards roll into little balls and put on a greased baking tray. Bake for 10-12 mins in a preheated over at 180 degrees.

We popped our fan oven to 160 degrees and kept checking them. The total cooking time was probably about 15 mins. 12 wouldn't have been enough but 15 might have been a little too long.

Then roll all the balls in icing sugar until they look like snowballs! They are quite delicious.

Messy work
I don't think I am a natural baker. I don't like getting messy and dough under my finger nails was a pain but I enjoyed this bout of cooking. Even if it was peppered with difficulty and failure. Also, I love our new kitchen, it's fantastic to work in!


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