Heston’s Scotch Eggs

Three very good things. A crisp crunchy breadcrumb coating. Then fragrantly seasoned sausagemeat, and finally, a golden yolked egg in the centre.

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A passed some pretty important exams, and we made some scotch eggs to celebrate, although we probably would have ended up making them anyway. Despite my misgivings about boiling oil and raw meat, they were surprisingly straightforward to make. We went for Heston Blumenthal’s recipe, and it was a winner.

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I also baked a carrot cake based on this recipe but I screwed up the cream cheese icing by overwhisking it, so the cake was a decidedly drippy affair and no photographic evidence to show for it. Sorry.

Have a scotch egg recipe instead to make up for it. You’ll need plenty of oil…

Heston’s Scotch Eggs

Adapted from Heston Blumenthal at Home

Makes 5

  • 6 medium eggs
  • 400g sausagemeat
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • plain flour
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 3 slices of stale bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs
  • around 500ml vegetable oil, for frying

Cook 5 eggs in a large pan of cold water over a high heat. As soon as it starts to simmer, cook the eggs for 1 minute 45 seconds then place under cold running water for 2 minutes. Leave them in the cold water for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile prep the sausagemeat. Put it into a bowl and add the thyme, mustard, cayenne, paprika, chives, salt and pepper and use your hands to mix the seasoning thoroughly into the meat. Divide into 5, and shape into round balls. Between two sheets of clingfilm, flatten into patties. Chill the sausagemeat for 15 minutes in the fridge.

Peel the egg shells away from the cooled eggs.

Now, with the chilled sausagemeat, flatten the patties into flat circles, and place an egg into the centre of each sausagemeat circle, wrapping it around the egg until it is fully encased.

Put enough flour to coat the eggs in a shallow bowl, and season with salt and pepper. In another shallow bowl, crack the remaining egg, and mix with the milk. Put the breadcrumbs into a third bowl. Roll each sausagemeat wrapped egg in the flour, then dip in the beaten egg. Then roll the egg in the breadcrumbs, ensuring it is thoroughly coated. You can repeat the flour, beaten egg, breadcrumb stage again with each egg for a better coating of breadcrumbs. Gently shake off the excess.

Fill a small saucepan halfway with oil. Heat to 190˚C, or when a cube of bread dropped in turns golden in 1 minute. Drop a scotch egg into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes, constantly turning to ensure it is thoroughly cooked and golden on all sides. Fry one at a time. When golden, remove with a slotted spoon and place the scotch eggs on some sheets of kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.

When all the eggs are fried, put into the oven at 190˚C and bake for a further 10 minutes. Eat fresh.

Vanilla, Mascarpone and Jam Cake

So Valentine’s Day is over and I bet a lot of people out there are breathing a big sigh of relief. Once again, I didn’t get round to doing much in the way of baking with roses, love hearts and other declarations of affection, but there’s always next year.

I find Valentines’ Day a funny old thing. It seems to highlight the insecurities that everybody feels about relationships, regardless of whether you are coupled up or not. On my Valentine’s days as a singleton, I spent them moping about my solo status. Coupled up, there was the awkward uncertainty about card and gift giving, and how much of a deal to make it, then declaring that it was all rubbish, then mournfully wondering you didn’t get any flowers.

Anyway, I decided to make this weekend a big baking bonanza, as well as buying some jazzy papercraft bits and pieces to work on, and a gorgeous new phone case. After the fixing it’s gone through, hopefully my phone battery will now actually last longer than an hour!

The first bake of the weekend is simple, but unparalled in all its wonderful qualities. I don’t think there’s anything more luscious that a thick layer of vanilla-flecked mascarpone cream, and rich jewelled jam, to sandwich a golden butter-rich sponge of highly calorific proportions.

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I never normally take photos during the assembly process, but the cream looked so beautiful thickly swirled that I couldn’t help but snap a couple of pictures.

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There’s such a satisfaction to swirling on the jam, being ever so careful to keep it just within the confines of the mascarpone. This is only if you are pernickity about neatness, and I’ve found this to be the best way of stopping the filling oozing out over the sides.

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Another tip to minimise mess is to wrap small pieces of clingfilm around the edge of the cake stand when assembling the cake. After dusting the icing sugar over the cake, carefully remove the pieces of cling, and there you have minimal excess icing sugar to tidy up afterwards!

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Now time to cut the cake into generous slices. Add in a few more gratuitous shots of cake and offspring.

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I used Waitrose extra fine sponge flour to see if it would make any difference to the lightness of the sponge. Whilst I wouldn’t specially buy sponge flour for future cakes, the fineness of the flour did lend itself to a lovely light, delicate-textured crumb. It’s probably something that could be replicated with Nigella’s tip of replacing some of the flour with cornflour, and judicious sifting.

I also ran out of the usual milk for loosening the batter to dropping consistency, so replaced with a dollop of natural yoghurt and soy milk, which worked a treat.

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I left this out on the kitchen counter, went out for the day, and there was pretty much just crumbs left on the cake stand. Nom nom nom.

Hummingbird Bakery Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie

So now that we are into February, and the month of luuuuurve, the shops are full of Valentine’s Day themed cards, gifts, edibles and whatnot. It’s the time of year when, in theory, I like to go all-out and bake a bazillion pink cakes festooned with love hearts and sprinkles.

Anyway, thanks to getting distracted by all the other delicious things to bake out there, the pink/hearts/sprinkles thing never really happens. So this year, I decided the blog needed something V-day themed, but would happily satisfy my cravings for all other things cakey, chocolatey and so on.

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I remembered these raspberry cheesecake brownies, first tasted at the Hummingbird Bakery oh, approximately seven years ago (ugg feeling old) and a favourite of mine until they somehow dropped off the radar.

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I had a pack of cream cheese, some whipping cream, chocolate, plenty of eggs…so hey, it was as if it was fate.

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Last time I was somewhat health-conscious so used low-fat everything and sugar alternatives. This time, I just went with the full whammy. You only live once, eh?

The recipe for these is pretty much all over the internet. You can find it here and on various blogs where everybody raves about what a great brownie/cheesecake/raspberry cream/mysterious thing-of-joy it is. I divided all the ingredients by three, and baked it in a loaf tin. Otherwise there would be far too much raspberry cheesecake brownie lying around for our own good! They’re tasty, perhaps not as amazing as I remembered but then I’ve come down with a bit of a cold so my tastebuds are a little faulty this week.

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Want some other Valentine’s Day themed bakes? Check out my red velvet cupcakes, baci di dama or decorated sugar cookies.

Salted Caramel Shortbread

Fed up of green juices and January detoxes? Fancy a little square of chewy salted caramel, sandwiched between buttery shortbread and chocolate instead?

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This salted caramel shortbread is so deliciously indulgent, it uses up a whole pat of butter, a family bar of chocolate, and an entire tin of condensed milk in the making. It sounds like it’s too much, but wait until you try a square. They are so moreish, it’s hard to stop at one!

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I baked them on Thursday evening, and left the caramel and chocolate to set overnight, so all through Friday at work, I had the comforting thought that a tray of these were waiting for me at home. What a great start to the weekend! I adapted these from this recipe here on Allrecipes.co.uk

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