Sticky Toffee Pudding

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Many says that this British Classic dessert was invented by Francis Coulson or Brian Sack of Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel in the Lake District sometime in the 1970s. But no one really knows for sure the origin of this lovely sponge pudding. All I can say is that whoever invented this must have had a sweet tooth just like me. The sugar, cream and butter involved in making this wonderful dessert was certainly a lot! Though, I’d prefer to forget that when I eat my sticky toffee pudding, after all we only live once. I’d rather live my life to the full and have a Sticky Toffee Pudding or two than not have it at all. As once tasted it cannot be forgotten. It is no surprise that this dessert has made it to the top of the charts as one of Britain’s most love loved desserts of all time. I hope you enjoy my newly created recipe! Bon appetite!

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KITCHEN KIT:
A 23cm tin or 8 ramekins. A food mixer, a small pan, a wooden spoon and a silicone spatula.

Serves: 8

Ingredients:
To prepare the tin:
1. 20g of unsalted butter
2. 5g of flour

For the Sponge:
3. 70g of soft unsalted butter
4. 170g of demerara sugar
5. 1 tbsp.of golden syrup
6. 2 tbsp. of black treacle
7. 2 large eggs
8. 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
9. 200g of self-raising flour
10. 220g of pitted, dried and chopped dates
11. 300ml of water
12. 1 tbsp. bicarbonate of soda

For the Toffee Sauce:
13. 50g. of muscavado sugar
14. 50g. of demerara sugar
15. 100g. unsalted butter
16. 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
17. 200ml of double cream

Process:
To prepare the tin:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Brush the tin with 20g of softened butter and then dust with 5g of flour.
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For the Sponge:
2. Cream the butter and sugar together on a slow speed using a food mixer. Gently add the golden syrup, black treacle, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix for 5 minutes on a high speed.
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3. After 5 minutes, set the speed to the lowest setting and slowly add the flour. Meanwhile, place your dates and water on a small sauce pan gently bring it to the boil. Then stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Add this into your sponge mixture while it is hot.

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4. Continue to mix all the ingredients in your food mixer for another minute. Then, pour this into your prepared tin. Place in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the sponge is set. You can use a cake tester or a knife and insert this at the centre of the sponge to check if it is baked. If the knife comes out clean your sponge is ready, if it comes out wet then it needs more time to bake. If the edges of your sponge starts to burn and yet the middle is still raw and needs further time to bake, cover your sponge with a foil and place it back in the oven to bake until the sponge is baked completely.
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5.  The sponge can stick into the tin even when it has been greased with butter and dusted with flour. You can easily take out your sponge out of the tin by dipping your palette knife in a hot water and running it along the insides of your cake tin.
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For the Toffee Sauce:
6. Place a small pan in a hob over a low heat, add your butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Once the butter has melted completely add the cream and bring it to the boil. Gently simmer for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens.
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Serve with a vanilla ice cream, with just double cream or custard.

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Tips:
I sometimes add 20g of dates to the Toffee sauce to add more depth into the favour of the sauce and to add texture to it too.
You can also use as an alternative just a plain brown sugar to make the Toffee sauce. I prefer a mix of muscavado and demerara sugar. As the muscavado sugar has stronger molasses taste to it and a stickier consistency in comparison to demerara. I kept the demerara sugar as it does give a lovely toffee, honey flavours.
Freezing: You can freeze the sponge and defrost at room temperature the day you need to use it. You can then heat the sponge in a preheated oven for 15 minutes or for 5 minutes in a microwave. If you do decide to freeze the sponge you will have to wrap it tightly with a cling film and then with a foil.
The toffee sauce can be made 2 days in advance but it does need to be kept in an airtight container and kept in the fridge the whole time. To re-heat the sauce I recommend re-heating on the hob and to give it a very good whisk while heating.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

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I love this simple, humble cake. Easy as it may look, I’ve actually had several disastrous lemon cakes in the past. Some too lemony, some too bitter and some even roasted! There have been times when I’ve over zested the lemon and the bitter whites of the lemon ended up in the cake, making it more of a Bitter cake than a Lemon cake! Yikes!

There have also been times when I thought I could get away with not accurately measuring the ingredients. But after all the trials and tribulations and disastrous experiments! Life taught me to be patient. When it comes to baking, precision and lots and lots of patience are prerequisites. Sadly there are no short cuts and no easy ways around it. If you want to enjoy that cake, you have to learn to wait for it to bake and not open the oven door too early!

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I love that comforting smell of a cake baking in the oven and I certainly love eating them too. Hence, I learnt to sit still and not get over excited. The last time I got over excited, I’ve made the fatal mistake of having an early peep in the oven only for the whole thing to collapse, within seconds of opening the oven. Forcing me to start from scratch all over again! Lesson learnt. Do not get over excited and open the oven when your cake is baking or when anything is baking, cakes simply don’t like to be rush and for their temperature to fluctuate!

I do not know the origin of lemon cake. It is common in England but it is also in France. I’ve also had Lemon cake in Italy. Although, lemons are first thought to have been grown in Assam, Burma and China I don’t think the Indians, Burmese or Chinese would have made lemon cakes!  Wherever it comes from I hope that everyone gets the chance at least once in their life time to try a lovely lemon drizzle cake.

If baked well, it’s so homely and comforting. As such it is my cake of choice when it comes to friends’ presents and birthdays. The scent of the lemon and the sweetness of the cake bring back that happy homely memories for me and I hope that those of you who eat this cake will also enjoy happy memories of home and comfort.

KITCHEN KIT:
A loaf tin, pastry brush, baking paper/parchment, spatula, an electric mixer or a balloon whisk, 2 bowls, a sifter and a lemon zester.
Alternatives: you can either use two 17 x 7.5 x 6cm H loaf tin or one 19 x 9 x 6.5cm H loaf tin.

Ingredients:
For the lemon sponge:
1. 2 large lemons, zest only (finely grated)
2. 200g softened, unsalted butter
3. 200g caster sugar
4. 3 lightly beaten medium eggs
5. 200g sifted self-raising flour

For the lemon syrup and decoration:
6. 2 lemons, juiced (100ml)
7. 70g icing sugar
8. 1 tsp. of pear sugar/sugar nibs

For the lemon sponge:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Grease a cake tin and line the bases with baking parchment.

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3. In a food mixer, cream together the butter, salt, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy.

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4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and then add them very little at a time to the creamed butter mixture.

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5. Next, fold in the flour into the mixture, mix until well combined and pour the mixture into a lined cake tin.

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6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until well-risen and golden-brown on top. Insert a skewer or a cake tester in the middle of the cake sponge, if the skewer comes out clean and not wet, your cake is done.

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7. Remove from the oven and turn the cake out onto a wire cooling rack. Prick the cake all over with a cake tester or a skewer.

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For the lemon syrup and decoration:
8. Squeeze the lemon juices into the sugar and gently whisk to dissolve the sugar. Slowly drizzle over the cake, wait for a few moments before pouring over the syrup, so that it all sinks in the cake.

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9. Decorate with pearl sugar/sugar nibs and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Enjoy!

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‘Some sort of a kind of a Victoria Sponge’

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Aside from enjoying the art of cake eating, baking and cake experimenting. I am also curious about how cakes came about and what makes them special. I’ve read numerous books and blogs to understand what constitute as a perfect cake and how it got its name.

I initially thought that Victoria sponge was created by someone called Victoria. Though, apparently, I couldn’t be more wrong.  It was Queen Victoria who named this cake after herself, she love this cake so much that she named it after herself. It is no secret that she had an incredible sweet tooth. Although it was Anna, the Duchess of Bedfordm, who invented ‘tea time’ it was Queen Victoria who made it a tradition and turned it into an art form, hence the British adoration for afternoon High tea.

By 1885 Queen Victoria was holding formal attire tea parties for her guests and every week royal residencies received a consignment of pastries from the Buckingham Palace kitchens. Different pastries, cakes and sponges were created and named after her during her rein. What makes a traditional Victoria Sponge is however still a mystery to me. Some argue that it must only have strawberry jam, some says jam and cream, while others use butter cream. In my opinion if it tastes good then it must be the way it should be!

I created this recipe recently for my cake club. A friend of mine from work signed me up to our company’s cake club! The cake club consist of cake enthusiasts, we each get an allocated week to bring cakes. Cakes are eaten and reviewed. It’s a fun club to discover new recipes and flavours that I would never have dreamt of combining! And since we are all experimenting on each other. It’s safe to say that whatever the cake looks or tastes like, it’s the learning process that counts in this club. The last time I made this cake it was half burnt, I thought I’d give it another try, completely rewriting the recipe and measurements. I used butter cream as I was not sure how hot it would be in the office and didn’t want the cream to go off. Some of my colleagues told me though that it wasn’t a Victoria sponge because I’d used butter cream. So I named it: ‘Some sort of a kind of a Victoria Sponge’ I hope you enjoy this experiment!

 

KITCHEN KIT:
Two 20cm/8in loose-bottomed cake/sponge tins, pastry brush, baking paper/parchment, spatula, an electric mixer or a balloon whisk, 2 bowls, a sifter and a lemon zester.

Ingredients:

For the Victoria sponge:
1. 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus some for greasing the cake tins.
2. 250g caster sugar
3. A pinch of fine salt
4. 5 lightly beaten, medium size eggs
5. 250g self-raising flour, plus some for dusting the cake tins
6. 1 lemon (zest only)

For the butter cream filling:
7. 250g softened unsalted butter
8. 200g sieved icing sugar
9. 1 lemon, juice only

For the jam and decoration:
10. A jar of Bonne Maman Raspberry Conserve
11. 200g of fresh raspberries
12. ½ tsp. of silver metallic sugar balls (optional)
13. 1 tsp. of icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

For the Victoria sponge:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Grease and flour two 20cm/8in loose-bottomed cake/sponge tins and line the bases with baking parchment.

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3. In a food mixer, cream together the butter, salt, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy.

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4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and then add them very little at a time to the creamed butter mixture.

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5. Next, fold in the flour into the mixture, mix until well combined and divide the mixture between the two lined cake tins.

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6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until well-risen and golden-brown on top. Insert a skewer or a cake tester in the middle of the cake sponge, if the skewer comes out clean and not wet, your cake is done.

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7. Remove from the oven and turn the cakes out onto a wire cooling rack. Peel off the baking parchment and leave them to cool completely.

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For the butter cream filling:
8. In a food mixer, cream together the butter, icing sugar and lemon juice.

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For the jam and decoration:
9. Once the cake has completely cooled down, simply spread the jam over the 2 sponge cakes.

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10. Then add some of the butter cream filling and sandwich the two cakes together.

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11. Finally spread over the left over butter cream on top of the cake and add the fresh raspberries on top. You can also decorate the cake with some silver metallic sugar balls and dust the cake with some icing sugar.

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Berry Coulis:

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KITCHEN KIT:
A pan and a fine sieve.

Ingredients:
1.  300g. Mixed berries
2.  2 tbsp. Caster or Icing sugar
3.  2 tsp. water

Berry Coulis:
1.  In a large pan over high heat, add the berries and cook for 4 minutes.
2.  Then add your caster sugar and continue to cook the berries for a further 2-3 minutes just until the sugar has dissolved.
3.  Transfer the coulis mixture into a food processor and blend until the mixture is smooth, add 1-2 tsp. full of water if you’d like to loosen the mixture a bit.
4.  Strain the coulis through a fine sieve or muslin cloth and set aside to cool. Chill in the fridge until needed.

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Serve cold either with a slice of lemon sponge cake,  vanilla ice cream or with yoghurt and honey. Yum!

Creamy Chicken Pie

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Comforting, tasty, filling and a definite English household favourite dish! It is probably the most famous savoury pie in the whole of England. Although steak and ale pie, steak and kidney pie are not too far off from the English’s favourite pie list! There are probably a hundred different chicken pie recipes out there, every family and chefs I know of have their own little secret spice or add their own little twist into this dish. This is my version which I would say is not suitable for those on a diet as in all my cooking, baking and making, I always use full fat butter, and to make such a delicious puffy pastry a lot of butter is simply pre-requisite! I take the attitude that we only live once so we may as well enjoy our days and eat loads of pies! Feel free to amend this recipe and add your own twist into this dish! Happy pie eating!  

KITCHEN KIT:
A deep pan, an oven proof dish, a pastry brush.

Ingredients Serves 6:
1.  1 tbsp. olive oil
2.  2 tbsp. butter
3.  2 chicken breast, sliced into big chunks
4.  4 good quality sausages ( I prefer to use sausage full of different types of herbs), sliced in halves
5.  1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
6.  A handful of fresh thyme leaves
7.  3 carrots, peeled and chopped
8.  3 celery sticks, chopped  
9.  2 leeks, chopped
10. 130g. chestnut mushrooms, chopped
11. 250 ml. good quality white wine
12. ½ tbsp. mustard
13. ½ tsp. salt
14. ½ tsp. pepper
15. ¼ tsp. nutmeg
16. 300 ml. double cream
17. 1 tbsp. corn flour
18. 1 pack ready rolled shop-bought puff pastry if you are in a hurry or just feeling lazy, otherwise you can also make your own pastry by following “All Butter Puff Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.
19. 1 egg  lightly beaten, for glazing

 

For The Chicken Pie Filling:
1.  Place a deep pan over high heat, add the oil and butter. Once the butter has melted add the chicken pieces and sausages. Cook and brown for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown all sides of the meat.
2.  Next, add the garlic and thyme leaves into the meat, continue to cook for 1 minute, then add the rest of the vegetables and white wine. Allow to simmer for 4 minutes.
3.  Stir in the mustard, salt, pepper, nutmeg, double cream and corn flour. Thicken the sauce for 1 minute then transfer the chicken and vegetable fillings in an oven proof dish.

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For The Puff Pastry:
4.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.  On a flour dusted work surface, roll the puff pastry approx. 3mm in thickness, wide and long enough cover your oven proof dish.  
5.  Place the puff pastry on top of your chicken and vegetable fillings. Brush with beaten egg all over and prick with a fork. The egg glaze will give your pie a nice colouring once cooked and pricking the pastry will allow the steam to come out of your pie.
6.  Place your pie in the oven for 30 minutes or just when the pastry has risen up and is golden brown.
7.  After 30 minutes, remove the oven; allow the pie to cool down slightly for 2-3 minutes before serving.

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Extra Tip:
If you’d like your pie sauce to be a little bit more runny add a little bit of full fat milk and stir well into your sauce.
If you are not too keen on ‘All butter puff pastry’ you can always use short-crust pastry instead, infact there are many restaurants in UK that serves this pie with short-crust pastry instead.
You can also try and make your own short-crust pastry by following “The Savoury Short Crust Pastry” instructions on the pastry section of this site.

Freezing: I usually make small individual portions of the chicken pie fillings and freeze them. When I come home from work and haven’t got the time to cook. I heat the chicken filling in a microwave for 4-5 minutes or until its very hot, cover with a puff pastry and place in the oven to bake till the pastry is nice and puffy. Taste as good!

Fish Pie

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KITCHEN KIT:
An oven proof dish, a large sauce pan, a large bowl, potato ricer/masher, food processor and a whisk.

Ingredients Serves 4:

For Boiling the Potatoes:
1. 900g King Edwards floury potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks of equal sizes
2. 2 liter. hot water
3. Pinch of salt

For the Mashed Potatoes:
4. 200 ml full fat milk
5. 150g softened butter
6. ½ tbsp. Whole grain mustard
7. ½ tsp. salt
8. ½ tsp. ground black pepper
9. A handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
10. 2 tbsp. of olive oil

For the Mornay Sauce:
11. 50g butter
12. 50g plain flour
13. 200ml full fat milk
14. 220ml single cream
15. 50g grated gruyere cheese
16. ½ tsp whole grain mustard
17. 1 clove
18. 1 small onion peeled
19. 1 bay leaf
20. Pinch of ground white pepper
21. Pinch of cayenne pepper
22. Pinch of nutmeg

For the Fish and Prawns:
23. 16 pieces of cooked prawns
24. 300g smoked salmon
25. 300g smoked mackerel

For Boiling the Potatoes:
1. On a large sauce pan over a high heat, bring salted water to boil. Once it starts to boil add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and place on a large bowl.

For the Mashed Potatoes:
2. Add milk, butter, mustard, salt and pepper into the cooked potatoes and then mashed until smooth.
3. Next, process chopped parsley with the olive oil for 1 minute. (alternatively use a pestle and mortar and pound the chopped parsley with the olive oil) Mix this into the mashed potatoes until completely the parsley’s completely incorporated into the mashed potatoes.

For Mornay Sauce:
4. On a large sauce pan (you can use the same pan you used to boil your potatoes) melt butter over a medium heat, once melted add your flour and stir until you have a smooth paste. Slowly add your milk whisking constantly.
5. Once all ingredients are incorporated stir in your single cream, ¾ of the grated gruyere, mustard, onion, clove and bay leaf. Season with some ground white pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Simmer over low-medium heat for 4 minutes whisking occasionally to avoid lumps from forming.
6. After simmering, remove the onion, clove and bay leaf. Set the sauce to one side.

For the Fish and Prawns:
7. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
8. Spoon over half of the mashed potatoes on an oven proof dish, then lay over the salmon, mackerel, prawns, Mornay sauce and some of the grated cheese.

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9. Then lay another layer of salmon, prawns, mackerel and Mornay sauce, before spreading over the remaining mash potatoes.
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10. Finally sprinkle over the remaining gruyere cheese on top and bake in the oven for 25 minutes until the mashed potatoes turn golden brown on the top.

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Serve immediately.

Bread and Butter Pudding

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KITCHEN KIT:
A baking dish and a sauce pan.

Ingredients Serves 4:
1. 80g butter, softened
2. 8 slices of slightly stale white bread or panettone, slice into triangles
3. 2 tbsp armagnac or brandy, optional
4. 50g mixed fruit (combinations of currants, raisins, dates, orange peels etc.)
5. 200ml full fat milk
6. 1 vanilla pod seeds or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
7. 100ml double cream
8. 3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
9. 3 1/2 tbsp. golden caster sugar
10. 1/2 tbsp demerara sugar
11. 2 Pinches of grated nutmeg

Bread and Butter Pudding:
1. In a bowl combine the dried fruits with the brandy. Cover the bowl with a cling film and leave to soak overnight or for at least 1 hour.

2. Next, Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Then slice your vanilla pod into half, scrape the seeds out with the back of a knife, place both the vanilla pods and seeds in a sauce pan, add the milk and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes over medium heat.

3. Remove the sauce pan from heat and set aside to cool for 2 minutes. (Discard the vanilla pod). Add the cream, lightly beaten egg and caster sugar into this and beat lightly until all ingredients are well combined. Save this custard mixture aside.

4. Meanwhile, butter the bread and your baking dish. Arrange the buttered bread slices in overlapping rows inside the dish.

5. Scatter the soaked fruits on top and pour over some of the custard mixture on top. Leave the bread to soak for 20 minutes.

6. Add the rest of the buttered bread in the baking dish, making a second layer, then pour over the rest of the custard mixture on top. Finally scatter pieces of softened cubed butter on top, followed by sprinkling of demerara sugar and pinches of grated nutmeg.

7. Place in a roasting tin and and fill halfway with water to make a bain marie. Cook for 35 – 45 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with more custard or as is.
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Macaroni Cheese

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Kitchen Kit:
A pasta sauce pan, a frying pan and a grater

Ingredients Serves 2:
1.  105g macaroni
2.  Pinch of salt (for pasta)
3.  ½ tbsp. oil (for pasta)
4.  1 tbsp. oil (for frying)
5.  3 bacon or pancetta rashers, chopped into small squares
6.  ¼ tsp. whole grain mustard
7.  ¼ tsp. dried parsley
8.  ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
9.  Pinch of nutmeg
10. 150 ml double cream
11. 60g mature cheddar cheese, grated
12. 25g dolce latte, torn into pieces
13. 10g dried breadcrumbs

Macaroni Cheese:
1.  Pre-heat oven to 200°C set to grill.
2.  In a pasta pan bring salted water with oil to a boil. Add the macaroni pasta and cook until al dente. (if using dried macaroni, follow the packet instructions as some dried pasta takes longer cooking time)
3.  In a  frying pan over a medium heat, ,add oil with the bacon/pancetta and cook for 3 minutes until the bacon turns golden brown and crisp. Drain bacon on a kitchen paper and set it aside.

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4.  Reheat the frying pan over a low heat, leaving the left over oil from the bacon/pancetta in the pan, add the whole grain mustard, dried parsley, ground black pepper, nutmeg, double cream and half of the grated cheddar.  Stir so that all the ingredients are well combined. Cook for 2 minutes.
5.  Add the drained and cooked macaroni in your frying pan, coating them evenly with the cream sauce. Transfer them into an ovenproof dish.

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6.  Sprinkle on top of the macaroni the cooked bacon/pancetta, half of the remaining grated cheddar and finally the breadcrumbs. 

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7.  Place it in the oven to grill until the top turns crisp and golden, this would take around 3-4 minutes.

Serve immediately

Rhubard and Stem Ginger Crumble serve with a warm custard

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KITCHEN KIT:
An ovenproof dish and a bowl

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the Crumble Filling:
1.  450g sticks of rhubarb, sliced into approx. 5 inch in length
2.  2 tbsp water
3.  1 tbsp Armagnac
4.  6 tbsp caster sugar
5.  1 tsp all spice powder
6.  2 tbsp glace ginger

For the Crumble:
7.  90g unsalted butter, softened
8.  90g demerara sugar
9.  150g plain flour
10. 10g chopped hazelnuts

 

For the Crumble Filling:
1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C. On an ovenproof dish place your sliced rhubarb, sprinkle with water, Armagnac and caster sugar. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
2.  Remove from the oven and mix the glace ginger and all spice powder into the rhubarb.

For the Crumble:
3.  On a bowl, rub the butter into the flour and sugar, until they resemble breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the rhubarb, followed by the chopped hazelnuts. Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the crumble topping is crisp and golden-brown.

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4.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Serve with a nice warm custard.

 

 

Apple Crumble Hazelnut Serve with Crème Anglaise

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My passion for and great love affair with French patisseries is very well known by my family and friends. Though, it always surprises them how a little person like myself can consume so many macaroons and tarte tatins in one day. However what they don’t know about, is my secret love and adoration for the Great British pudding! I adore Apple and Rhubarb crumbles, Ginger syrupy sponge puddings, Eaton mess, Bakewell tarts, Lardy cakes, Victoria sponges, Carrot cakes, Trifles, Minced pies, Scones and perhaps my favourite of all, well in name as least, Fat Rascals! My list is much longer than this, but it would take me days to type them all out, so I will just put them here in my blog as I go along baking and eating them. British puddings for me are the ultimate comfort home food. Enjoyed most of all, on rainy winter days or in my case on any day! There is nothing else I love more than to snuggle on the sofa with a warm duvet, watch an old movie and enjoy the company of a Great British pudding, such as this warm and comforting Apple crumble. My lovely friend, Connie, gave me one of the most memorable presents in the world a few years ago: a gift to the Cotswold Pudding Club, where I enjoyed a night of eating all the best British puddings. Each pudding was presented in such grandeur, with a trumpet announcing each pudding’s entrance. It made me giggle none stop throughout the whole evening. Each pudding was paraded one by one and everyone had to rate each pudding after eating them. I had a terrible headache that evening from the amount of sugar I’d consumed – it almost induced a hyperglycaemic coma! But I must say it was worth the pain! If you ever want to enjoy the best British puddings then try and visit The Pudding Club. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! In the meantime, please try this Apple crumble in the comfort of your home : )

KITCHEN KIT:
An ovenproof dish, a sauce pan, a whisk, a wooden spoon and a bowl.

Ingredients Serves 4:

For the Apple Filling:
1.  Approx. 550g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced into small pieces
2.  1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
3.  A pinch of cinnamon powder
4.  1 tbsp. of water
5.  60g light brown sugar

For the crumble:
6.  100g plain flour
7.  60g unsalted butter, cold and soft
8.  Pinch of salt
9.  30g chopped hazelnuts

Crème Anglaise:
10. 50g golden caster sugar
11. 2 large eggs, yolks only
12. 1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
13. 250ml full fat milk

 

For the Apple Filling:
1.  Combine all the ‘Apple Filling’ ingredients listed above and place in an oven-proof dish.

For the crumble:
2.  Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
3.  In a large bowl mix all the crumble ingredients listed above, except for the chopped hazelnuts. Rub flour, salt and butter until they start to look more like fine breadcrumbs. Then mix in the chopped hazelnuts for an added texture.

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4.  Add your crumble on top of your apple filling mixture and place in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the crumble has turned golden brown and crisp.

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For the Crème Anglaise:
5.  In a bowl cream the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
6.  Meanwhile, in a large pan bring the milk and vanilla pods/extract to a boil. Gently simmer for -5 minutes. Then allow it to cool for 30 seconds.
7.  Pour the milk mixture onto the eggs and sugar, whisking continuously until smooth, then gently pour the mixture into the saucepan. Place on a medium heat and stir continuously for 5 minutes, or until the mixture has slightly thickened.  It is important to continuously stir and not allow the mixture to reach boiling point as it will split and you will end up having a scrambled egg rather than a crème anglais (this happened to many times for sure). Your mixture should have a single cream texture rather than a thick custard texture as it will thicken after chilling it in the fridge.

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8.  Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, stir for a few minutes, then place into the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours.

Serve the Apple crumble with a lovely smooth crème anglaise.

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Extra Tip:
Apples:
For thsi dessert I personally prefer to use Bramley a famous Britsh cooking apple or Braeburn apples will do as well, as both types of apples hold their shapes when cooked.

The Crumble:
Your crumble should have that amazing dark golden brown in colour, if you’re afraid that your crumble is starting to look a bit burnt, as I was in some occasions you can cover it with a foil and continue baking it in the oven, before you take off though, remove the foil and place back on grill in the oven just for 1 minute or so to crisp it up.

Crème Anglaise:
I love Crème Anglaise and I can eat by itself anytime. It is important however to use very quality eggs when making this as it does makes a massive difference with both the taste and texture. When I first made this I got distracted and the mixture boiled for a a few seconds and it that short period of time my smooth Crème Anglaise turned into a scrambled egg. I had to start all over again. The second mistake I did was leaving it too long in the hob, trying to get it to have a thicker consistency again another disastrous experience it split. Attention and patience is definitely a must for this one! Do not leave it to boil not even slightly, and do not leave it on the hob for longer than 5 minutes as I have done. The Texture should not be thick, it has to be smooth and has that single cream like texture. Leave it to chill for at least 3 hours and your Crème Anglaise will thickened. You can enjoy it then and no more waiting required.

Roast Pork Belly

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KITCHEN KIT:
Oven proof dish

Ingredients Serves 2:
1.  400g boneless pork belly strips, skin scored
2.  1 tsp fennel seeds
3.  1 tsp black pepper corns
4.  1 tsp sea salt
5.  4 tbsp. olive oil

The Pork:
1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C. Pat dry the pork with kitchen paper. Rub the oil, fennel seeds, ground black pepper and sea salt all over the pork meat and skin.

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2.  Place the pork belly on a roasting tin, skin-side up, and roast for 1 hour. Remove pork, then, increase the temperature to 220°C and roast again for a further 30 minutes, until crisp
3.  After 1 ½ hour of roasting remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes before serving with broccoli and cauliflower gratin.

Serve warm.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

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KITCHEN KIT:
A sauce pan, a whisk an ovenproof dish

Ingredients:
For the Vegetables:
1.  Broccoli
2.  Cauliflower

For the Mornay Sauce:
3.  30g butter
4.  30g plain flour
5.  300ml full fat milk
6.  50ml single cream
7.  30g grated gruyere cheese
8.  ½ tsp whole grain mustard
9.  1 clove
10. 1 small onion peeled
11. 1 bay leaf
12. Pinch of ground white pepper
13. Pinch of cayenne pepper
14. Pinch of nutmeg

For the Gratin:
15. Some chives finely chopped
16. 5g dried breadcrumbs
17. 5g chopped hazelnuts
18. 5g parmesan cheese (optional)
19. 30g gruyere cheese

For the Vegetables:
1.  Pre-heat oven to 200C. Meanwhile, on a medium size pan, bring salter water to a boil, add the cauliflower, and cook for 5 minutes then add the broccoli for a further 4 minutes. Darin and set aside once cooked.

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For the Mornay Sauce:
2.  On a large sauce pan melt butter over a medium heat, once melted add your flour and stir until you have a smooth paste. Slowly add your milk whisking constantly.
3.  Once all ingredients are incorporated stir in your single cream, grated gruyere, mustard, onion, clove and bay leaf. Season with some ground white pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Simmer over low-medium heat for 7-8 minutes whisking occasionally to avoid lumps from forming.

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4.  After simmering, remove the onion, clove and bay leaf. Pour the mornay sauce over cooked broccoli and cauliflowe.

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For the Gratin:
5.  Top the oven proof dish with the rest of the Mornay sauce, sprinkle over breadcrumbs, chopped hazelnuts, parmesan and gruyere cheese. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, set oven to grill and return it back in the oven to brown for 2-3 minutes.

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Serve with strips of pan fried crispy prosciutto and roast pork. (Roast pork belly recipe can be found on the English Cuisine or  Meat&Poutlry section of this site)

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is my all time favourite breakfast dish.Probably the only breakfast dish that can get me out of bed earlier than usual, just so I can have more time with my eggs benedict and not rush the enjoyment of eating it.
The last time I made a Bernaise Sauce I had some left over tarragon leaves, I added this into my hollandaise sauce, which made a nice change to the basic recipe below; if you do have some left over tarragon leaves please do try it and hope you enjoyed it too.
KITCHEN KIT:
Baloon whisk, sauce pan and a bowl

Ingredients:
1.  2 eggs
2.  Some water for poaching the egg
3.  3 tbsp. of white wine vinegar
4.  4 slices of good quality honey roast ham
5.  2 English muffins, sliced in half
6.  Some butter to spread over the muffins
7.  Flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish (optional)

 

For the hollandaise sauce:
8.  2 tsp lemon juice
9.  2 tsp white wine vinegar
10. 3 large egg yolks
11. 130g cold unsalted butter, diced
12. Pinch of Salt and pepper (optional)

 

The Muffin and Ham:
1.  Preheat grill to highest temperature, place your English muffin on the grill for 1-2 minutes until lightly golden brown and crisp. Plate, butter and add 2 slices of ham on top of the muffins.
Poaching the eggs:
2.  On a medium sauce pan over a high heat, bring water to the boil and stir in the white wine vinegar.  Lower the heat and simmer gently. Stir the water and vinegar a few times and slowly slide in the eggs one by one. Cook each eggs for about 3-4 mins. Once cooked remove with a slotted spoon and place on top of the English muffins with ham.

The Hollandaise Sauce:
4.  On a sauce pan, over very low heat, whisk your lemon juice and white wine vinegar, add the egg yolks whisking constantly until light and frothy. (the pan should never be too hot for you to touch the sides of it)
5.  Gradually add the butter, whisk constantly until butter has melted.
6.  When the butter has completely melted, turn up the heat to medium-low, whisk continuously until the mixture has thickened.  (If it looks like it might be splitting and the mixture starts to steam, turn off the heat and whisk continuously for a few mins. It is important to keep whisking to prevent it from splitting and to thicken the mixture.)
7.  When the mixture has thickened and is smooth, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and pour over the top of the ham. Garnish with some chopped parsley.


Serve immediately.

Extra Tip:
Hollandaise Sauce-to make sure that your sauce does not split, don’t stop whisking until the sauce has thickened. Keep the sauce under very, very low heat. If it is not easy to control the heat, put your mixture on a bowl, place the bowl on a simmering sauce pan with water also under low heat.

Pan-fried haddock in bed of Sautéed spinach serve with hollandaise sauce

KITCHEN KIT:
Kitchen towels/paper, 2 frying pans, a sauce pan and a bowl.

Ingredients Serves 2:

For the Haddock:
1.  2 Haddock fillet approx. 150g each
2.  2 tbsp. Plain flour
3.  ½ tsp Salt
4.  ¼ tsp Ground black pepper
5.  2 tbsp Sunflower oil
6.  35g Butter
7.  ½ Lemon juice
8.  1 tbsp. Flat leaf parsley or curly leaf parsley, chopped
9.  5g. Almond slices

 

For the Sautéed spinach and garlic:
10. 200g Spinach, washed and drained
11. 2 tbsp Olive oil
12. 10g Butter
13. 1 Clove of garlic, finely grated or crushed
14. Pinch of salt
15. Pinch of nutmeg
16. 5g Almond slices

For the hollandaise sauce:
17. 2 tsp Lemon juice
18. 2 tsp White wine vinegar
19. 3 Large egg yolks
20. 130g Cold unsalted butter, diced
21. Pinch of Salt and pepper (optional)

 

The Haddock fillet:
1.  Preheat oven to 100 ºC. Pat the haddock fillet dry with a kitchen towel.
2.  On a large plate mix the flour, salt and pepper. Add the fish fillets one at a time and coat with the flour, salt and pepper evenly all over. Shake off any excess.


3.  In a large frying pan over a medium heat add 2 tbsp. of oil. When the oil is smoking hot, put the fish fillets in the pan (flesh side down first). Cook for 1-2 minutes on one side until golden-brown, then turn the fillets over and cook (skin side) for another 1-2 minutes until golden-brown. Plate and put in the oven to keep it warm.

4.  Using a kitchen towel/paper wipe the frying pan and return to a medium heat. Melt the butter and when it starts to turn light brown, turn off the heat and add the lemon juice.
5.  Pour the Beurre Noisette over the cooked lemon sole fish fillets and garnish with chopped parsley and almond slices.

For the Sautéed spinach and garlic:
6.  In a frying pan over medium heat, add oil and when the oil is hot add the spinach. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Tip the pan over to one side and drain excess liquid.
7.  Just before they finish cooking add the butter and melt it. Sprinkle almond slices season with pinches of salt and nutmeg. Plate.

 

The Hollandaise Sauce:
8.  In a sauce pan, over very low heat, whisk your lemon juice and white wine vinegar, add the egg yolks whisking constantly until light and frothy. The pan should never be too hot that you can’t touch the side of it.
9.  Gradually add the butter, whisk constantly until the butter has melted.
10. When the butter has completely melted, turn up the heat to medium-low, whisk continuously until the mixture has thickened. If it looks like it might be splitting and the mixture starts to steam, turn off the heat and whisk continuously for a few mins. It is important to keep whisking to prevent it from splitting and to thicken the mixture.
11. When the mixture has thickened and is smooth, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and serve with the fish.


Serve immediately.

Extra Tip:
Hollandaise Sauce -To make sure that your sauce does not split, don’t stop whisking until the sauce has thickened. Keep the sauce under very, very low heat. If it is not easy to control the heat, put your mixture in a bowl and place the bowl in a sauce pan full of simmering water.

 

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake

KITCHEN KIT:
8’inches round deep cake tin, pastry brush, sauce pan, pallette knife and a whisk

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients Serves 8:

For the Chocolate Cake:
1.  200g butter, softened
2.  200g Muscavado Sugar (or brown sugar)
3.  Pinch of salt
4.  1 tsp vanilla extract
5.  4 large eggs, lightly beaten
6.  200g plain flour
7.  100g cocoa powder
8.  2 tsp baking powder
9.  200ml full fat milk
10. 30g dark good quality dark chocolate made of 85%  cocoa, melted and cooled at room temperature.

For the Chocolate Buttercream:
10. 150g butter, softened
11. 85g good quality dark chocolate made of 85%  cocoa, chopped into small equal size chunks- melted (on a bowl in a hob) and cooled at room temperature.
12. 200g icing sugar
13. Pinch of salt

 

For the Decorations:
14. A handful slices of fresh strawberries or zest of grated orange or lemon. You can also decorate your cake with some fresh flowers or grated milk and dark chocolate.

 

For the Chocolate Cake:
1.  Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease and line your cake tin with baking parchment.


2.  Sift flour, cocoa powder and baking powder all in one bowl. Set aside.

3.  On a separate bowl cream the butter, muscavado (brown) sugar, salt and vanilla extract until fluffy.


4.  Add the eggs one at a time to the cream butter mixture, beat until well combined.


5.  Add the sift flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into the cream butter and egg mixture. Then slowly add the milk and melted chocolate into this.Fold all the ingredients together.


6.  Pour into your cake tin and bake in oven for about 30–40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.


7.  Once baked leave the cake to cool in the cake tin.

 

For the Chocolate Buttercream:
8.  Beat the butter until fluffy, and then add the melted chocolate, icing sugar and salt. If your buttercream is too dense add milk 1 tbsp. at a time to loosen the mixture.

 

For the Decorations:
9.  Once the cake has cooled down completely, spread your chocolate buttercream on top, and then decorate with either fresh fruits, grated orange/lemon zest or grated chocolates. (You can also slice your cake cake horizontally and sandwich the top and bottom together with a layer of buttercream mixture and orange zest; spreading the remaining half of the buttercream all over the top and on sides of the cake with a palette knife until smooth.  For this you will require more buttercream mixture so simply double the quantity of the ingredients I listed above)

Serve.

Chocolate Cake

 

 

 

 

Rib-Eyed Steak with Bernaise Sauce and triple cooked chips

Steak with Bernaise Sauce

KITCHEN KIT:

Griddle pan, pastry brush, electric whisk, deep fat fryer or a deep pan.

Ingredients:

For the Rib-Eyed Steak:
1. 240g rib-eyed steak  (2x)
2. pinch of salt
3. pinch of ground black pepper
4. vegetable oil

For the Bernaise Sauce:
5.  1 shallot, finely chopped
6.  3 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped
7.  4 tbsp dry white wine or vermouth
8.  4 tbsp water
9.  2 tbsp white wine vinegar
10.  175g unsalted butter
11.  3 egg yolks
12.  Pinch of salt
13.  Pinch of ground white pepper
14.    Pinch of sugar

For the triple-cooked chips:
15.  2 medium size Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes
16.  1 litre groundnut oil, for frying
17.  Pinch of Rock sea salt
18.  Pinch of ground black pepper

The Steak:
1.  Using a pastry brush the steak on both sides with vegetable oil, rub some salt and pepper on the steak.
2.  Heat a Griddle over a high heat until it is smoking hot. (Do not oil the pan and do not add the steak until it is smoking hot.)
3.  Add the steak and cook 2½ minutes on each side for a medium steak.
4. Once cooked set the steak aside on a plate to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

The Bernaise Sauce:
1.  On a small pan boil for 3 minutes the shallot, 1 tbsp tarragon, 4 tbsp water, 4 tbsp dry white wine/vermouth and 2 tbsp white wine vinegar. Reduce liquid by a third and strained liquid. Once strained, you should have approx 3- 4 tbsp of liquid. Set aside to cool.
2.  On a small pan over a low heat melt 175g of butter, bring to boil, skim foam off the butter and discard. Leave the butter to cool at room temperature.
3.  Meanwhile whiz the egg yolks, liquid reduction and 2 tbsp chopped tarragon. Then, slowly add the butter in a steady stream while whisking (it is important to do this slowly to ensure the butter don’t split from the mixture). Season with salt, ground white pepper and sugar.

The Chips:
1.  Peel and cut potatoes into ½ inch thick, rinse and soaked in cold water for 15 minutes changing water 2 or 3 times to remove the starch.
2.  Over a medium heat simmer your chips for approx 30 minutes, until they are almost falling apart.
3.  Gently drain your chips; leave them to cool and dry out. If you have time place on the freezer for 1 hour to continue to dry it out.
4.  Heat 1 litre of oil in a deep-fat fryer or a deep pan. Fry the chips in batches for approx 5 minutes in small batches until a light crust forms; then drain them on a kitchen paper for 5 minutes.
5.  Transfer chips on a wire rack, leave to rest for another 5 minutes and place them again in the freezer for 1 hour.
6.  Final stage, heat the oil again in the deep-fat fryer or deep pan to 180ºC and fry the chips until golden approx 6-8 minutes. Drain and season with salt and pepper.

Serve warm with triple cooked chips and bernaise sauce.

Steak with Bernaise Sauce

Pork Tarragon in White Wine and Cream

Pork Chop in Tarragon and White Wine Cream Sauce

Ingredients Serves 2:
1.  1 pesandor shallot finely chopped
2.  200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
3.  2 garlic cloves, crushed
4.  1 tbsp of tarragon leaves only chopped
5.  30g butter
6.  1 tbsp of olive oil
7.  100ml white wine
8.  200ml cream
9.  2 tsp whole grain Dijon Mustard
10. Pinch of Salt
11. Pinch of ground black pepper
12. ¼ tsp of nutmeg
13. A handful of flat leaf parsley finely chopped for garnish

The Pork:
1.  Rub the pork with olive oil pinch of salt and pepper.
2.  On a medium heat fry the pork 4 minutes on each side.  Once cooked remove from heat set aside.

The Sauce:
3.  Using the same pan you used to fry the pork, add butter over medium heat. Add garlic, shallot fry for 1 minute then your mushroom, fry for 2 minutes then add your tarragon leaves; cook for a further 3 minutes.
4.  Add wine and let is simmer for 2 minutes. Then add your cream and Dijon mustard. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
5.  Add your pork again to heat for 1-2 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with mash potato or pasta.

Devils on Horseback in Armagnac

Devils on Horseback in Armagnac

This is a fantastic canapé to serve for any occasion, it’s incredibly tasty as well as quick and easy to prepare.

KITCHEN KIT:
Just some toothpick, baking paper

 

Ingredients Serves 8:

1. 16 soft, deseeded Prunes

2. 8 bacon rashers, slice in half horizontally

3. 100 ml Armagnac

4. A few strands of saffron

5. Pinch of salt

6. Pinch of muscavado sugar

The Prunes:

1. On a bowl, add prunes, pinch of salt, pinch of sugar, Armagnac and strands of saffron. Ensure that the prunes are completely emerged in Armagnac. Cover the bowl with a cling film. Soak the prunes over night.

 

The Prunes and Bacon Rashers:

2. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.

3. Lay all the sliced bacon rashers on a flat surface.

4. Lightly squeeze prunes to make sure that there aren’t too much liquid on them. Add prunes on top of the slice bacon rashers.

5. Roll bacon rashers and insert a toothpick to secure the bacon rolls.

6. Place on a baking paper and tray. Cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the bacon turns crisps.

Devils on Horseback in Armagnac

Serve Warm.

Blueberry Bran Muffin Lemon Curd

KITCHEN KIT:

Muffin tin size Size 25cm(L) x 19cm(W) x 3cm(H)

Ingredients Makes 12 Muffins:

The Muffin:

  1. 1 cup wheat bran
  2. 1 cup whole wheat flour or self raising flour
  3. ½ cup mixed dried fruits (preferably with chopped dates as it adds an amazing flavour and texture)
  4. 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  5. 1 tsp baking powder
  6. ¾ cup milk
  7. ½ cup honey
  8. 2 tbsp butter
  9. 1 egg beaten

The Lemon Curd:

  1. 2 small lemon zest and juice.
  2. A pinch of salt
  3. 50g sugar
  4. 50g  melted unsalted butter
  5. 4 egg yolks

The Muffin:

  1. Pre-heat oven at 180°C. Grease muffin tin with butter or place muffin cases on the tin (as per picture below)
  2. Mixed all ingredients together. Pour mixture onto the muffin tin or muffin cases.
  3. You can also add 1 tsp of lemon curd on top of your muffin mixture if you would like to.  This bit is optional. (Instructions on how to make a lemon curd below)
  4. Place the muffin in the oven for 25 minutes or until the mixture has set. Before taking the muffin out of the oven insert a knife or a cake tester into the muffin, if it comes out clean without some mixture stuck to it, then your muffin is baked and ready.

The Lemon Curd:
1. Put the lemon zest and juice, salt, sugar and butter into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar and butter have melted. Remove from the heat. Leave to cool for a minute, add beaten egg yolks and whisk all together.
2. Turn the pan onto a low heat again, whilst constantly whisking. Once the curd thickens, remove from the heat. Cover with a cling film once cooled, refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

Serve warm fresh from the oven.

Sausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls

KITCHEN KIT:
Pastry brush and rolling pin.

Ingredients Serves 6:
1. 454g Waitrose Lincolnshire pork sausages (if you can substitute pork with beef or chicken sausage)
2. 320g /1 pack ready rolled shop-bought puff pastry if you are in a hurry or just feeling lazy. Otherwise you can also make your own pastry by following the “All Butter Puff Pastry” instruction on the Pastry section of this site.
3. 1 small egg for glazing of the pastry
4. Pinch of Salt
5. Pinch of Pepper
6. 1 Gala Red Apple peeled and finely chopped into small pieces.
7. 3 Sprigs of Thyme Leaves Only

The Sausage:
1. Preheat oven at 180°C.
2. Squeeze all sausages out its casing and place sausage meat on a bowl (as per the picture below). Add a pinch of salt, pepper, thyme leaves and finely chopped apples. Mix all the ingredients together. Set aside.
3. On a separate bowl, lightly beat 1 egg. Set aside.
4. Roll the pastry on a flour dusted surface at approx. 3mm in thickness. Cut in half, (as per picture below.)
5. Add sausage meat on the centre of the pastry, with a pastry brush- egg wash one side of the pastry, fold the pastry over on top of each other and finally use the back of a fork to seal the pastry. (picture instructions below)
6. Slice the sausage rolls in small squares approx. 1 inch thick, with a pastry brush- egg wash top of the pastry.
7. To decorate the rolls score the top with a sharp knife, (as per the picture below).
8. Place the sausage rolls on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

Sausage RollsSausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls

Alternative way of rolling the sausage rolls pastry:
1. Roll the pastry on a flour dusted surface, cut pastry into small rectangles.
2. Add sausage meat on the centre of the pastry, with a pastry brush- egg wash one side of the pastry roll the pastry over (as per the picture instruction below), try not to get any egg washes over the edges otherwise the pastry will not puff up well.
3. To decorate the rolls score the top with a sharp knife, (as per the picture below).
9. Place the sausage rolls on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

Sausage Rolls

Serve warm, fresh from the oven.