Cakes & Bakes: Cranberry almond biscotti

Home-made cranberry almond biscotti with cup of coffee | H is for Home #recipe #biscotti #baking #biscuits

Are you a biscuit dunker? I’ve never been one for dipping my biscuits into hot liquid. However, these cranberry almond biscotti have made me change my ways!

Wet & dry cranberry almond biscotti ingredients | H is for Home

I’ve seen biscotti being produced on the Great British Bake Off but I’ve never tried my hand at making a batch.

Cranberry almond biscotti dough in a cake tin | H is for Home

Biscotti are Italian, twice-baked almond biscuits usually served with Vin Santo – a dessert wine from the same region of Tuscany. It’s this liquid that you dip your biscuit into before eating – I’ve only tried it with coffee so far – but give me time!

Baked cranberry almond biscotti | H is for Home

The traditional recipe is flour, sugar, eggs, pine nuts and almonds. However, there are updated versions that include an array of ingredients such as dried fruit, hazelnuts, pistachios, spices, lemon, coffee and chocolate.

Sliced cranberry almond biscotti | H is for Home

Biscotti is the plural of biscotto but I’ve never heard that term in my life. Perhaps it’s because it’s impossible to eat just one!

Knives between cranberry almond biscotti slices | H is for Home

Researching recipes, I discovered that there is such a thing as a biscotti tin. I don’t think I’ll be making biscotti often enough to warrant getting one – I used my 18cm/7-inch square brownie tin and it was more than adequate at tackling the job.

Cranberry almond biscotti cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

For its second bake, I sliced and transferred the cranberry almond biscotti on to a baking sheet and used stainless steel knives (don’t use knives with wood or plastic handles) to prop them up on their sides.

Home-made cranberry almond biscotti in a glass biscuit jar | H is for Home

Click here to save the recipe to Pinterest!

Cranberry almond biscotti
Yields 15
Ingredients
  1. 70g/2½oz butter, melted
  2. 135g/4¾oz granulated sugar
  3. ½tsp salt
  4. 2tsp baking powder
  5. 2tsp vanilla extract
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 120g/4oz plain flour
  8. 120g/4oz semolina flour
  9. 115g/4oz dried cranberries
  10. 115g/4oz chopped almondsHome-made cranberry almond biscotti ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350°F/ Gas mark 4
  2. Grease a biscotti pan or large baking sheet
  3. Stir together the melted butter, sugar, salt and baking powder
  4. Beat in the vanilla extract and then the eggs
  5. Blend in the flours, cranberries and almonds
  6. Place into the prepared biscotti pan, leaving a 2cm/¾-inch margin free on each side of the pan, to allow for expansion. If you're using a baking sheet, form the dough into a flattened log about 28 x 10cm (10½ x 4 inches).
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool for an hour
  8. Slice on the diagonal into 4cm/½-inch thick pieces. Place them back on the baking sheet, standing them on edge if you can; this will ensure they bake evenly
  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 160ºC/325°F/Gas mark 3 and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden
  10. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on a wire rack
  11. They can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks
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Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Fig, almond and walnut loaf

Fig, almond and walnut loaf | H is for Home

Recently, we’ve been challenging ourselves to get by on a weekly food budget of £30.00 for two. We’ve been managing very well to date; buying carefully, preparing sauces in bulk (some which we freeze for future meals) – and using up tinned foods that have been half-forgotten in the cupboard.

Tinned figs | H is for Home

One of those tins were these Baldji’s Kalamata fresh figs in syrup. I think I bought them over a year ago with the intention of making some sort of dessert. After looking for a little online inspiration, I found a River Cottage recipe for fig, almond and walnut loaf.

Mixture of eggs, bicarbonate of soda and pouring in coconut oil

Their recipe included dried figs and water so I simply used the equivalent weight of the tinned figs and their syrup. I also needed to double the cook time from 20 to 40 minutes.

Fig almond and walnut loaf mixture | H is for Home Fig almond and walnut loaf mixture | H is for Home

Once the mixture was ready to put into the tin and on to the oven, I must admit, it didn’t look promising. It had the colour and consistency of refried beans. A bit of a grey, purple, sludgy slop!

Fig, almond and walnut loaf | H is for Home

Luckily, looks were deceiving as it turned out very well – delicious in fact. A few people have tried it – some would prefer it a little sweeter, so sugar, Stevia or agave could be added. We found that a drizzle of honey on the top of a slice was the perfect addition. The flavour works really well with the figs and gives that extra sweetness too.

Sliced fig, almond and walnut loaf | H is for Home

Click here to save the recipe to Pinterest for later.

Fig, almond and walnut loaf
Ingredients
  1. 100g/3½oz dried figs
  2. 100ml/3½ fl oz water
  3. 60g/2oz walnuts
  4. 175g/6oz ground almonds
  5. 3 large eggs
  6. 80g/3oz melted coconut oil or unsalted butter
  7. 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  8. 1tsp cider vinegar
  9. Pinch of saltHome-made fig almond walnut loaf ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C/300ºF/Gas mark 2
  2. Line a 500g/1lb loaf tin with baking parchment
  3. Roughly chop the figs and add them with the water to a small saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer gently until most of the water is absorbed
  4. Blitz the figs in a food processor until they form a coarse paste
  5. Add the ground almonds and process again until damp crumbs form
  6. Add the walnuts and salt and process again briefly until they're coarsely chopped. Set aside.
  7. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat eggs and bicarbonate of soda with an electric hand whisk until frothy
  8. Whilst still beating, slowly drizzle in the coconut oil/butter in a thin stream and continue beating until the eggs are pale, thick and doubled in volume
  9. Sprinkle vinegar over the eggs and beat briefly to distribute evenly. Work quickly as the vinegar will activate the bicarbonate of soda
  10. Tip the nut mixture onto the eggs and fold in thoroughly with a metal spoon until the nuts are evenly distributed
  11. Scrape into the prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean. Give the loaf more time to bake and perhaps turn the temperature down if it browns too fast
  12. Cool on a wire rack before eating
Notes
  1. You can store the loaf in an air-tight container in a cool place for up to 3 days - or slice & freeze for up to 2 weeks
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Adapted from River Cottage
Adapted from River Cottage
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Marzipan refrigerator cookies

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Home-made marzipan refrigerator cookies and mug of tea | via @hisforhome

I had a large lump of marzipan and some chocolate ganache left over from making last week’s petit fours. I HATE throwing food away, so I decided to make a batch of marzipan refrigerator cookies.

Marzipan refrigerator cookie dough

It was a quick and easy recipe.

Slicing marzipan refrigerator cookie dough

They can be cooked off in small or larger batches – the dough will live happily in the fridge for a week or so – or freezer more indefinitely.

Cooked marzipan refrigerator cookies cooling on a wire rack

Nothing beats a home-made biscuit – and we loved the sweet, almond flavour of these. If you prefer your cookies to be soft & gooey rather than crisp, lower the heat of the oven to about 150ºC.

Marzipan refrigerator cookies
Yields 35
Cook Time
12 min
Cook Time
12 min
Ingredients
  1. 225g/8oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  2. 1tsp baking powder
  3. 110g/4oz butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
  4. 175g/6oz caster sugar
  5. 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  6. 100g/3½oz marzipanHome-made chocolate caramel chestnut cake ingredients
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Notes
  1. Sift the flour & baking powder into a large bowl
  2. Add the butter and rub it with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
  3. Stir the sugar, add the eggs and combine to form a soft, loose dough
  4. Cut the marzipan into small cubes
  5. Turn the mixture out on to a lightly floured work surface, roll in the cubed marzipan and shape the dough into a log shape about 3cm/1¼inches in diameter
  6. Wrap the log in parchment paper or cling film and then in foil and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or until required (I put one of the logs in the freezer to use at a later date)
  7. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 5
  8. Grease a large baking sheet (or a few if you're making a big batch)
  9. Slice the dough into as many 8mm/⅜-inch slices as required
  10. Place the slices on the greased baking sheet, spaced well apart
  11. Return any remaining dough to the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to 6 months
  12. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown
  13. Leave on the baking sheet to cool slightly for 2-3 minutes before transferring to cool completely
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Bakewell tart

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Slice of home-made Bakewell tart via @hisforhome

This week’s Cakes & Bakes offering is a quintessential British classic – Bakewell tart. I’ve never featured a Hairy Bikers recipe previously – but I do like lots of what they cook.

flour and butter in a food processor

When I looked at the quantity of ingredients, I thought that it seemed a lot. An entire pack of butter, 2 packets of ground almonds, 8 – yes EIGHT – eggs in the filling (and a further three in the pastry).

Sweet shortcrust pastry

The recipe supposedly makes one 23cm/9-inch tart, but I used less than half of the pastry and just over half of the filling that it called for.

Rolled out sweet shortcrust pastry

I’m not wasting anything though, both the spare pastry and the filling have gone into the freezer; I’ll be able to make another tart in double quick time next time.

Bakewell tart shortcrust pastry base

Bakewell tart is a perfect cake for our 4 o’clock afternoon tea break.

Raspberry jelly spread on a cooked Bakewell tart shortcrust pastry base

It’s not dry, but a sip of tea after every couple of mouthfuls works so well.

Bakewell tart filling ingredients

Almonds and fruity jam are such a great combination of flavours. Throw in some buttery pastry and you’re not likely to be disappointed.

Uncooked Bakewell tart

There’s a good reason it’s become a classic.

Home-made Bakewell tart

There’s at least 8 slices in the tart so that’s four days sorted – unless we’re incredibly generous and give a piece away!

Bakewell tart
For the pastry
  1. 425g/15oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  2. 1 egg, beaten
  3. 2 egg yolks
  4. 250g/9oz unsalted butter
  5. 100g/3½oz caster sugar
  6. ½ tsp salt
  7. 50g/2oz ground almonds
For the filling
  1. 400g/14oz ground almonds
  2. 175g/6oz caster sugar
  3. 8 eggs, beaten
  4. ½ tsp almond essence
  5. 3 tbs raspberry jam
  6. 50g/2oz flaked almondsBakewell tart ingredients
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If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
For the pastry
  1. In a food processor, add the flour, salt, sugar, butter and almonds and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
  2. Add the eggs & yolks one at a time and pulse until a smooth dough is formed
  3. Bring the dough together into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for half an hour
  4. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/360ºF/Gas mark 4
  5. Grease & flour a 23cm/9in loose-bottomed tart tin
  6. Unwrap the chilled pastry and roll out onto a cold, floured work surface (this is a very 'short' pastry and at first will be difficult to handle)
  7. Line the tart tin with the pastry and trim off any excess. Prick the base with a fork, then cover the pastry lightly with a round of baking parchment. Cover the parchment with baking beans (I use dried chickpeas) put into the oven to bake blind for 15 minutes
  8. Remove the pastry base from the oven, pour out the baking beans (or chickpeas) remove the baking parchment and set aside to cool. If the base is still a little underdone, return it to the oven for a minute or two to dry out
  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 165ºC/330ºF/Gas mark 2
For the filling
  1. Put the ground almonds and caster sugar into a bowl and combine
  2. Add the beaten eggs and almond essence and combine well
  3. Once the tart pastry base has cooled, spread a generous layer of raspberry jam onto the bottom
  4. Pour the filling mixture over the raspberry jam to fill the pastry case almost to the top
  5. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is baked through and golden-brown all over
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve warm or cold
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/