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Spiced Chocolate & Orange Hot Cross Buns

The perfect recipe for this Easter weekend!

Spiced Chocolate and Orange Hot Cross Buns

I’d been thinking about what to bake for Easter for a while and my mind kept going back to hot cross buns, even though I’m not a huge fan of them. So my challenge was to make these traditional Easter buns even more festive and tasty, and so these spiced chocolate & orange hot cross buns were born, I think I did a pretty good job!

Spiced Chocolate and Orange Hot Cross Buns

These sweet and sticky buns are loaded with chocolate just like the Easter bunny intended and warmed up with lovely spices and hints of orange. They’re finished off with a gooey, sticky orange glaze to give them that extra yum factor!

Spiced Chocolate and Orange Hot Cross Buns

These do require a little patience to make, but with only two rising times you’re not doing too badly for a hot cross bun recipe! And even though they’re “quick”, you won’t see any decrease in yummyness (a technical baking term), they’re still soft and delicious! It’s a fairly simple recipe too, and a bit of a messy one while you’re rubbing the butter into the flour, cocoa, spices and salt with your fingers. Then it’s spoon city as you stir in the sugar and yeast and then beat in the eggs and milk. Knead. Rise. Knead some more (adding chocolate and orange!) and rise again until finally it’s time for the oven (but not before those all important crosses!), then you just glaze and eat! These are best served warm and with lashings of butter, preferably this cinnamon honey butter because it’s to die for!

Spiced Chocolate and Orange Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns are traditionally served on Good Friday so I am a little late with this post, but let’s be honest you can enjoy these yummy buns all Easter weekend, even all year (I know, I’m just talking crazy now!!). It may be midnight in the UK, but it’s never too late to whip up a batch of yummyness, so get your apron on and get baking, you’re family will thank you!

[recipe title=”Spiced Chocolate & Orange Hot Cross Buns” servings=”12″]
Ingredients

For the buns:

  • 400g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp mixed spice
  • 1tsp salt
  • 85g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 sachets dried instant yeast (7g each)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 190ml lukewarm milk
  • 75g dark chocolate, chopped
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 75g chopped candied orange peel

For the crosses:

  • 75g strong white flour
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5tbsp cold water

For the glaze:

  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 50g golden caster sugar

Method

For the buns:

  • Sift the flour, cocoa powder, spices and salt into a bowl. Add the chopped butter and, using your gingers, rub the butter into the flour mix until you get a breadcrumb texture. Stir in the sugar and yeast and make a well in the centre
  • Whisk together the warm milk and egg and pour into the well, quickly beat with a wooden spoon until combined.
  • Knead on a lightly floured surface for around 10 minutes, until you have a soft, smooth dough. Put in a large, lightly oiled bowl covered with oiled cling film. Leave to rise for an hour in warm place until doubled in size
  • Place the risen dough on a lightly floured surface and knead in the chocolate, zest and candied peel until it is all distributed evenly.
  • Divide into 12 equal balls and shape into smooth buns. Place on a lightly oiled baking tray, leaving a small gap between each roll. Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave to prove in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size. The buns should now be getting cozy and touching each other.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/390F

For the crosses:

  • Mix the flour, oil and water together to form a smooth paste. Pop into a piping bag and snip the end off.
  • With a serrated knife, score the tops of the buns with a cross. Pipe the mixture along the lines, you can use your knife to cut off the flow.
  • Bake the buns in the oven for 15-20 minutes until firm to the touch

For the glaze:

  • Put the sugar and orange juice into a small pan and heat on low until all the sugar as dissolved
  • Bring to the boil and bubble until thickened, around 3 minutes.
  • Once the buns have been removed from the oven, turn out onto a cooling rack and glaze.

Notes:

  • The buns are best served warm
  • They will stay fresh in an air tight container for about 3 days, but buns that are going stale will still be great toasted
  • You can freeze them too, just wait to glaze them. Once defrosted, warm through and glaze before serving.

[/recipe]
Happy Easter Everybody!

Spiced Chocolate and Orange Hot Cross Buns

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cinnamon rolls recipe

fig bars recipe

 

Fig Bars

Fig bars

When I think of Figs I think of my days at University and eating my body weight in Jacob’s Fig Rolls while I wrote last minute essays at 3am and somehow that still brings back warm and fond memories! Despite my love of figs I have never actually baked with them and when I came to that realisation I decided I had to fix that fast!

Fig bars

These fig bars aren’t your typical fig rolls (or fig newtons as they’re called in the US), they’re so much better! They have a pastry like crust then lots of yummy fig filling and have an nutty, oaty topping. I made these with dried figs as they don’t really come into season until Autumn and they’re hard to find when they are in season due to their short shelf life, besides you’re going to be cooking them down so I would recommend dried figs either way to keep the moisture. If you don’t want to make the filling yourself you can always use a fig butter or jam, I’ve heard good things about it if you get it from Trader Joe’s (for you American folk) so I’m sure they’ll be just as yummy. However if you do it like that they may be a little on the overly sweet side!

Fig bars

My favourite thing about these is the secret ingredient, orange! It really brings out the flavour of the figs and although it’s not a necessary ingredient I wouldn’t omit it, it brings them to a whole new level of tastiness! One of the great things about this fig bar recipe though is they’re so easy to make, they do require baking in stages but it’s so simple to do you won’t mind. And you can make the fig filling while the crust bakes, then you just quickly whip up the crumbly topping, sprinkle it on top and stick them in the oven for 15 minutes. It takes about 45 minutes start to finish! You will want to let them cool before you eat them though, as hard as that may be, that filling is going to be very hot!

Fig bars

 

[recipe title=”Fig Bars”]

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup plain flour

For the filling:

  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • 1 cup boiling water (you will not need the whole cup)
  • 9oz dried mission figs, chopped

For the topping:

  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp cold butter
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • Zest of 1 orange

Method

  • Preheat over to 350F/170C. Grease and line a 9″ square pan.
  • For the crust, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla on a medium speed until combined. On a low speed, beat in the flour until a soft dough forms. Press the dough into the bottom of the pan and bake for approx 15 minutes, until the centre is set and it is just turning a light golden colour
  • While the crust is baking, make the filling. Pour the juice of the orange into a measuring jug and fill up with boiling water until you reach 1 cup.
  • In a small saucepan heat all the filling ingredients over a medium/high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until figs are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Don’t be afraid to cook it for longer is need be, you want a jam like consistency, just make sure you keep stirring so it doesn’t burn. Spread it over the cooked crust and set aside.
  • Now make the topping. In a small bowl mix the flour, brown sugar and butter using a fork or pastry blender until you have a crumbly streusel like texture. Stir in the oats, walnuts and orange zest. Sprinkle over the filling.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Leave to cool completely before cutting into bars.

[/recipe]
fig bars

 

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pistachiomacarons

 

Pistachio Macarons

 

Pistachio Macarons

I have a baker’s confession to make; I have lived in the south east of England for the majority of my life and I have never once been to Paris. It’s shameful, I know. I’m just a train ride away from so many beautiful and classic baked delicacies  and I’ve never taken advantage of it. I don’t know how I live with myself to be quite honest (Note: I have been to France, once, but not Paris). It’s okay, I understand if you want to publicly shame me for this, you can do so in the comments!

Pistachio Macarons

My second confession as a baker is I’m not a huge fan of macarons. You can argue with me about the correct spelling, but in England a macaroon is a coconut cookie (see here). Okay, back to the French cookie, I don’t dislike them but they’ll never be my first choice and I don’t really get what all the fuss is about. Yet, I still made it my mission to make successful macarons – just to prove I could. Baking is kind of a competition to me, where I’m competing with my own self doubt. And when my self doubt wins, well I tend to throw a little tantrum and refuse to attempt it again for years! The first time I tried to make macarons it was a bit of a disaster, that was about 3 years ago. Fast forward to 2014 and here I am, a successful macaron baker! Yay me!

Pistachio Macarons

Okay, so they’re definitely not the prettiest macarons but they ARE macarons. These pistachio macarons are light and fluffy, they have feet and they’re super tasty (according to the macaron lovers I had taste test them!). My biggest issues in making this were trying to grind the pistachios in a mini food processor (I definitely didn’t have a smooth enough batter) and my oven temperature in Atlanta is a bit wonky so baking time was a guessing game! Overall though, I’m very pleased with how they came out. I had planned to never make them again after I got them right, but I think a couple people may have something to say about that unfortunately! Oh well, I bake to please!

Pistachio Macarons

Before making these I did lots of internet research to find tips on how to make them successfully and found an excellent post from Food Nouveau. That post is definitely your one stop shop on the world of making macarons, it has everything you need to know with really clear instructions! They also have a link to a bunch of different flavour recipes too! One of the tips they give is to make plain macarons your first time out, of course I didn’t listen! I really like pistachio and I thought this was going to be my only time making them. I’m a rebel, what can I say! That being said, if this is your first time making macarons, I implore you to read that whole post before attempting this recipe as I won’t be able to go into as much detail as they did.

Pistachio Macarons

Another rule I didn’t follow is the ageing of the egg whites. I’m an impatient fool and I wanted to make them right then! Honestly I don’t think it’s entirely necessary (but who knows, maybe I would have had a smoother batter if I’d aged them). What I did was place the whole eggs in warm water for about 3 minutes before separating them. One tip that is important to follow though is exact measurements for the cookies, you need a scale rather than cups to be as accurate as possible.

[recipe title=”Pistachio Macarons”]
Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 205 g icing sugar
  • 125 g powdered almonds (almond flour/meal)
  • 20 g unsalted and shelled pistachios
  • 30 g caster sugar
  • Green gel food colouring

For the buttercream:

  • 45 g unsalted and shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Method

To make the cookies:

  • Finely grind the pistachios in a food processor. Add the icing sugar and powdered almond and grind for a few minutes. Sift the mixture into a large bowl to ensure no larger lumps remain, throw away anything that doesn’t make it through the sieve. Set aside.
  • Whisk the egg whites on a medium/high speed in a stand mixer for a couple of minutes, then add a tablespoon of the caster sugar. Continue to beat while you slowly add the remaining sugar. Beat until the egg whites are stiff and creamy.
  • Fold in the food colouring gently with a rubber spatula, add a few drops at a time until you get your desired colour.
  • Very delicately fold in the nut and icing sugar mixture in a few additions. Make sure no pockets of dry ingredients remain but do not beat!
  • Prepare your baking sheet by lining with parchment paper. I also slipped a template underneath to get my cookies evenly sized (this is the template I used), just make sure to slide the template out before placing the baking sheet in the oven
  • Spoon your batter into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip and pipe rounds of batter, evenly spaced. They can be close together as they won’t expand much.
  • Let your macarons rest on the baking sheet for a minimum of 20 minutes, I left mine for about 45 minutes. Make sure a skin has formed before baking. Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.
  • Bake macarons for about 15 minutes. You can test them by gently tapping the top, they are ready when they are firm on their feet.
  • Leave the cool while you make the buttercream

To make the buttercream:

  • Finely grind the pistachios in the food processor. Add the icing sugar and grind some more.
  • Cream this mixture with the softened butter until you reach a buttercream like consistency.
  • Blend in the vanilla extract. If the mixture is too thick, add a little bit of cream or milk until you get the right consistency (and vice versa)
  • Pipe the buttercream onto the flat side of one cookie and sandwich with another, repeat for all cookies
  • Store at room temperature in an air tight container. They’ll taste even better the next day!

[/recipe]
Pistachio Macarons

 

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2014-03-24 00.08.57

2014-03-19 15.38.59

 

 

Devil’s Food Cake

Happy Mother’s Day everybody!

Devil's Food Cake

Today is Mother’s Day in the UK and to celebrate I made my mum a yummy devil’s food cake, complete with fresh whipped cream, chocolate ganache and chocolate truffles! If you’re gonna do chocolate, you may as well go all out! This recipe will be for the devil’s food cake, you can pair it with whatever you like of course (white cloud frosting is an excellent pairing)!

Devil's Food Cake

I got this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, and I can tell you right now I didn’t change a thing! I adore her blog and all of her recipes (her cookbook is on my wish list on amazon too!), you should definitely check her out.

Devil's Food Cake

This recipe calls for a cup of strong, hot coffee. Coffee is one of those things that brings out the flavours in chocolate, you add it to your chocolate cake recipe and instantly you’ve intensified your chocolate goodness! This is actually the first time I’ve added coffee to chocolate cake, which is terrible I know, but I have this crazy aversion to coffee I violently hate it. And although I knew in theory that I wouldn’t be able to taste the coffee, I was convinced I would be able to! Of course, I couldn’t taste it at all in this cake and I’m now cursing myself for being such a baby and not doing this sooner. This cake is so rich and fudgy and just delightful, everything a devil’s food cake should be!

Devil's Food Cake

I said above that I didn’t change anything in this recipe and there’s good reason for that. Every single ingredient is perfectly matched with what you want this cake to come out like. The oil makes it lovely and moist, butter would only distract from the deep chocolate flavour. You want to use natural unsweetened cocoa for this cake, do not use dutch processed or the bicarb won’t react with the cocoa and you won’t get that gorgeous reddish tint and that distinctive flavour. And if you take away the buttermilk you won’t get such a moist crumb (Sally said to trust her on that and I did!). Then of course without the coffee that chocolate certainly won’t hit you so hard. All that’s left are your sugar, flour and eggs – you of course need the eggs to be room temperate as is true with pretty much any baking. If, like me, you always forget to take your eggs out of the fridge you can bring them to room temperature by letting them sit in warm to hot water for about 5 minutes.

Devil's Food Cake

This cake has a nice quick bake on it too, you definitely don’t want to over bake it and take away any of that moistness (count how many times I’ve said “moist” in this post!). Share the batter between two 9″ sandwich tins and bake for about 25 minutes or until your cake tester comes out clean. My cake is actually a 6″ as I made cupcakes out of it too! You can then fill and ice it with whatever you love with chocolate, my pairings definitely made it all that much richer but I think this cake would be great with milk chocolate frosting as Sally had it or even vanilla, yum!

Devil's Food Cake

This one’s for you mum, thanks for being the best mum ever! (and she enjoyed it very much!)

[recipe title=”Devil’s Food Cake”]

Ingredients

  • 1 and 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 and 3/4 cups caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1 tps salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed strong hot coffee

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350F/170C. Grease and line two 9″ cake pans
  • Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt and set aside
  • Combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla using a stand mixer or hand mixer then gradually add the dry ingredients with the mixer on low. Add the coffee. You will have a very thin, water like batter – don’t worry, it’s supposed to be like that!
  • Pour the batter evenly between the tins and bake for approx 25 mins or until your cake tester comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out on wire rack and leave to cool completely before filling and frosting

[/recipe]
Devil's Food Cake

 

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2014-03-30 22.54.24

whitecloud

cocoa brownies

Happy Birthday to Me!

White Cloud Frosting

Yep, today is my birthday. I’m a little upset about creeping closer and closer to the big 3-0, but it’s nothing a little cake can’t fix!

White Cloud Frosting

That’s right, I did make my own birthday cupcakes, but that’s okay. Really it’s just an extra treat for me! These are some beautiful fudgy devil’s food cake cupcakes, but the recipe I’ll be sharing with you today is the devilishly sweet frosting on top. It’s called white cloud frosting and it tastes like marshmallow in frosting form! I won’t lie to you, I’m definitely more of a buttercream girl but this is still a yummy one! If you like your sweets teeth achingly sweet, this is definitely the one for you!

White Cloud Frosting

The sweetness of the frosting is a great compliment on the deeply chocolatey devil’s food cake too. Don’t worry, I will be posting the cake recipe tomorrow. Two posts in one weekend, I’m going wild I know! But tomorrow is Mother’s Day here in the UK and I will be making my mum a special devil’s food cake with fresh whipped cream for the occasion! So you won’t have to wait long if you want to pair these two beauties together like I did!

White Cloud Frosting

This frosting doesn’t contain any butter or icing sugar, it’s sweetened with syrup and of course the meringue like texture comes from whipped egg whites. Most recipes you find online will call for corn syrup, that’s not something we have much of in the UK so I used golden syrup. You could also use maple syrup or liquid glucose. I used liquid glucose in my first batch, which failed miserably because I have a really terrible stand mixer (if anybody wants to donate me a kitchenaid or other decent stand mixer, please feel free!!) I used up all my glucose in the first lot, so the second batch I used golden syrup. I was worried I would lose the bright white colour you want with this frosting, but while it was slightly golden at first it went white once it was finished!

White Cloud Frosting

It’s nice and quick to whip up too, especially compared to my fave – swiss meringue buttercream. You beat egg whites until foamy and then slowly add a little caster sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Then you boil the syrup and pour into the egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form. The heat of the syrup will cook the egg whites enough so you don’t have to worry about raw eggs in your frosting! Then just stir in vanilla and you’re done! This recipe makes enough to frost about 12 cupcakes, it doesn’t keep very well so you want to use it all up! Don’t be shy with that frosting!

White Cloud Frosting

Today I don’t think I’ll do much else but eat cake and drink some wine. I think I’ll cook up some black bean and kale burgers too! I’m getting boring in my old age, I know!

[recipe title=”White Cloud Frosting”]
Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Method

  • In a clean, dry bowl beat the egg whites and salt on a high speed until foamy. You’ll want to use a stand mixer if possible, but I used a hand mixer with my second batch and it works just fine (you just might get a bit of arm ache!)
  • While the mixer is running, slowly add the sugar. Beat until it forms soft peaks.
  • Put the syrup in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Once its come to boil, remove from heat. While the mixer is running on high, slowly pour the syrup into the egg mixture (be careful, the last thing you want is boiling syrup on your skin – trust me!). Beat the mixture until stiff peaks form, this will take about 5 minutes.
  • Add the vanilla and stir to combine.
  • Use the frosting right away. Add sprinkles asap as a thin layer will form and your sprinkles won’t stick (and what’s a birthday cake without sprinkles?)

[/recipe]
Have a great day, I’ll see you all tomorrow!

White Cloud Frosting

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2014-03-19 15.41.33

banoffepie

frostings2