Crunchy and simple biscuits that look like beautiful pastry Princess plaits.

Princess Plaits biscuits

What are Princess plaits and where did they come from?

Originally this was my grans recipe and she called it Kindling. I guess because Kindling, now Princess plaits were crisp, snappy and very light. They were eaten at the end of carnival season just before lent and Ash Wednesday.

The Polish tradition of Kindling slightly faded in our house. Mainly because we do a lot of baking so keeping up with additional sweets proves too many cakes. Also because Zara loves helping so we make these as an afternoon treat, when she wants to make something different.

Why should you make it?

Princess plaits are the tastiest way of using left over egg yolks after making Coffee meringues (recipe coming up soon) which you also must try!!

Besides Princess plaits are perfect for kids motor skills and believe me the small hands become faster with each plait! Check the video below. Zara is a master at it now.

I’ve slightly improved and speed up the way of doing Princess plaits in my recipe. It use to take so much longer hence Princess plaits have been made only at special occasions. Making this now quite efficient, pain free and speedy process so Princess plaits were just perfect name for it.

Unlike any other biscuit.

The biscuits are quite light and soft but you need to try it yourself to understand the texture. It’s this kind of consistency between crunch and crumble that I cant really find a word to describe.

Freshly cooked they are delicate, puffy and delicious. Left aside to cool they become crunchy and snappy unlike any other pastry I have ever tried.

Princess plaits biscuits when fresh are perfect on its own or lightly sugar dusted.  They can be sprinkled with cinnamon sugar or dipped in a chocolate sauce.

Princess plaits

 

Method.

Put all the ingredients in a mixer bowl:

  • 450g plain flour, sieved
  • 5 large, organic egg yolks
  • 1 or 2 spoons of your strongest alcohol (rum, brandy or vodka type)
  • 200g natural yogurt

You can try making Princess plaits by hand but much quicker and easier will be using a mixer as it requires good beating. Mix using the beater end, the idea behind it is to incorporate as many air pockets as possible.

Start mixing it on a slow speed slowly increasing. Eventually turn it on on maximum and watch the mixer as it might turn a little bit violent. Continue mixing the dough on high speed for at least 15 minutes.

Place aside to relax wrapped in cling film or a sandwich bag for at least half an hour.

Put the Princess plaits dough back in the mixer and continue to beat it on high speed for additional 15 minutes. Wrap again and put in the fridge for another half an hour.

Fun part!

When ready, roll very thinly approximately 1.5 to 2 mm. Use pizza cutter to cut 1.5″ wide strips then make diagonal cuts about 3″ apart to create the individual pieces. Then cut each piece carefully through the middle leaving about 3/4″ uncut space at each end.

 

Gently twist one end through the middle cut to create Princess plaits look alike. Once again please check my video above when Zara is making it very easy.

Warm up in a pan

  • 2 cups of oil suitable for frying (rapeseed or coconut are best)

and fry on medium heat for a few minutes each side until golden. At this stage please keep little people away from the pan. It can get very hot and it might make the process difficult. They cook very quickly and no one would enjoy a burn Princess plaits biscuit.

You can eat it immediately or save (if there are any left) for later.

Princess plaits when still warm go best with a little sprinkle of icing sugar but you can enjoy it with anything you like.

 

 

I hope you will like Princess Plaits biscuits as much as we do!

 

 

Enjoy!

Until next time. Happy baking.

Aggy x

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Woke up this morning to an amazing white scene outside and started craving a slice of Christmas mincemeat sponge.

Christmas mincemeat sponge

I love snow, probably as much as I love cake. Especially because it reminds me of cold, snowy, Christmassy mornings when I was a kid. Every time when we had fresh snow, and usually in Poland snow was quite deep, we would go sledging. I was one of those lucky kids living next to a hill. In summer we called it Green Hill but obviously in winter it metamorphose into the best sledging course. Thinking about it now it was actually quite scary and super fast course about 150 metres long. Playing with all the kids racing we would spend there almost a whole day coming back knackered and hungry.

As soon we came home we either would have dinner or in most cases hot chocolate and slice of cake!

And because is almost Chrimas this was a perfect excuse to bake Christmas mincemeat sponge.

Christmas mincemeat sponge

 

Some might ask what mincemeat is?

I have never heard of mincemeat before coming to England. Apart from that one time when Rachel from Friends wanted to make British Christmas trifle-pie. Everyone remember this episode, right?

In the UK everyone knows what mincemeat is and all the stores sells at least a few different types. Mincemeat despite the name is a sweet mix of dried fruit soaked in alcohol. Mainly used in Christmas bakes like Mince pies but this time I have used it in Christmas mincemeat sponge recipe.

 

This particular recipe is probably more than 30 years old and belonged to Zara’s great grandma… or possibly ever her great great grandma. I found it in her little recipe box and one day decided to give it a go.

We love great grandmas Christmas mincemeat sponge so much we make it during the year as well as for Christmas.

 

Christmas mincemeat sponge is a quick, easy and very tasty treat even for those who have a limited baking repertoire.

What does it taste like?

The Christmas mincemeat sponge is not too sweet, bit tangy with characteristic mincemeat flavour. Light and delicious. With little bursts of juicy fruit surrounded by rich and moist sponge. So unlike the traditional Christmas cake which can be quite heave and stogy with strong aftertaste.

 

You can eat it plain…

Christmas mincemeat sponge

…or filled with Mincemeat cream cheese frosting (recipe to follow) and drizzled with white chocolate sauce to make it more festive.

 

 

Method.

You will need greased and flour small round cake tin 7 – 8″ or a pretty bundt tin. Set your oven to 175C, fan 160C.

Place in a mixer bowl:Christmas mincemeat sponge

  • 170g of butter or vegetable oil spread
  • 2 eggs
  • 110g soft dark sugar

Beat until well combined.

Add:

  • 1 jar of mince meat (around 400-450g)

Mix on slow to medium speed for couple of minutes but be careful not to overmix. Sieve and carefully fold in:

  • 225g self raising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Scoop the mixture into the tin and sprinkle with some extra soft brown sugar if you wish for a nice crusty finish.

 

Place in the oven and bake until brown, approximately 50 minutes to 1 hour.

When ready remove from the tin. You can eat it warm.

If you decide to layer your Christmas mincemeat sponge with cream first let it completely cool down.

Enjoy with freshly sliced fruit as a dessert or Christmas afternoon cup of tea.

Bon appetite,

Aggy x

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Strap yourself in, today we have an interesting one, Chimney cakes.

Chimney cakes

Chimney cakes are like a perfect marriage between churros and a warm fluffy doughnut. Ideally with a little scatter of cinnamon sugar. Filled or empty, with or without nuts and sprinkles, literally you can eat it how you please.

 

We tried making the Chimney cakes for the first time ever a couple of days ago. We really liked the outcome and the idea so decided to share the recipe with you.

How did we come up with Chimney cakes you might ask?

Recently we went for a road trip around Europe. We were lucky to visit some beautiful and interesting places and a few with a nostalgic warmth.

One of the places we visited was Wrocław* in Poland (*read Vrotswav).

When I was younger  I spent several years living and studying there. And as I haven’t been back there for a 10 or so years I decided to stop for a few days.

While walking and admiring old haunts our attention straight away was caught by every single cake shop. In some of them we even had double helpings or bought something to take away to munch later. This time while walking through Old Town and Market Square we could smell an interesting sweet mixture and got intrigued.

A little hidden away shop front with a massive queue outside so decided to have a nose around. This later happen to be a Chimney cakes shop which was one of our favourite treats on this trip. There were so tasty we needed to recreate them as soon as possible. There was no way we could wait any longer to have another bite.

 

Originated from Transylvania.

Chimney cakes originally came from Hungarian-speaking part of Transylvania, Romania. They are also known within the culinary heritages of other European countries like Hungary, the Czech Republic and Austria.

Chimney cakes are made from rolled sweet yeast dough. The dough traditionally is wrapped around a special wooden rolling pins and baked constantly turn over a grill. Chimney cakes are then topped with sugar and all sorts of things.Chimney cakes

The name comes from the effect that Chimney cakes create when taken off the baking pins after baking. When they are very hot they steam from the middle, soft part of the bake that looks like a smoking chimney.

But don’t worry I have managed to adapt it for everyone to try it at home without a fancy ovens and wooden pins.

Why should you make it?

I shouldn’t really have to convince you to make Chimney cakes as they are simply amazing. Maybe a little bit time consuming as all yeast dough bakes but otherwise I would eat it warm every day.

Chimney cakes taste divine. Soft, fluffy and not too sweet. You can eat the Chimney cakes creamed inside with almost anything you can come up with. From some soft fudge, chocolate or caramel, jam or marmalade, fresh cream or even topped with ice cream. Often paired with crushed peanuts, pistachios or almonds.

Method.

This recipe will make approximately 12 chimneys.

To make Chimney cakes you will need:

  • 520g plain flour
  • 25g fresh yeast*
  • 90g icing or confectionery sugar
  • 200ml warm milk

If you are using fresh yeast make a starter as directed here fresh yeast starter.

*If you are using dry yeast you can convert it here.

For the next step I use my mixer with paddle attachment. You can also work it by hand but the dough will be slightly wet and quite sticky so I prefer to avoid all the mess.

When your starter is ready place it with the remaining ingredients in a mixer bowl.

Add:

  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 80g melted but cooled unsalted butter

Mix it on a medium to high speed for a few minutes until it becomes stretchy and smooth. Move the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with a cloth.  Let it rest for one to two hours until at least double in size.

Homemade Chimney cakes baking pins.

In the meantime prepare some Chimney cakes pins. As mentioned earlier Chimney cakes are originally baked on wooden rolling pins that are spinning over a grill or fire. We haven’t got the luxury of the special equipment so I came up with those simple cheat baking pins.

You will be able to use them over and over again if you are careful enough. Don’t worry to much if they get damaged as they are cheap and quick enough to make some fresh each time.

What you will need:

  • baking paper
  • tin foil
  • a few empty kitchen paper towels rolls, ideally 6 – 12 tubes

Roll each tube in tin foil and push the ends inside the tube. Follow this step for each tube and then follow the same with baking paper.

Turn on the oven to 200C, 180C fan.

Shaping the dough.

Take the dough for Chimney cakes out and slightly work it again. It will be quite sticky but you can use some plain flower to sprinkle for easie rolling.

Roll the dough quite thin, approximately 1/4″(1cm) and neat rectangular shape around 15″(45cm) long by 12″ (30cm) wide. The tidier the rolling, the easier the next step will be.

Cut it with a pizza cutter to straight, 1″ (2.5cm) wide strips. You should end up with 12 strips. Roll each strip on the mock up baking pins and tuck the ends under the dough.

When you wrap it around the tubes it might have some gaps but that’s ok. Roll it a few times like you would roll a rolling pin. TOP TIP. I push my tubes onto a rolling pin for easier rolling. Make sure there are no gaps in the dough after rolling. Then press and roll it in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Put it in the oven standing up. I remove all the oven shelves and use my lid rack to keep the tubes in place. Bake for around 12 – 15 minutes or until golden brown but do not overbake. They need to be on a lighter spectrum from the inside.

Standing my Chimney cakes was easier and quicker to turn them around so they bake evenly. If you haven’t got anything to hold them securely you can also use a narrow baking tin ad hang them on long skewers.

 

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Pearfect turnover, lazy pear and cream cheese puff pastry wrap.

We have all been in the situation where you need to bake something quick and have no idea what to make. We were sat on the sofa having a rare lazy day when we had that freshly baked craving, but didn’t want anything to time consuming. Having this feeling I have thought of a solution the Pearfect turnover.

Looking through the kitchen I found ready made puff pastry and bag of pears so quickly created this tasty bake.

Pearfect turnover

Pearfect turnover is ideal, whether it is…

… for a last minute dinner party and you need a quick desert.

… friends or family are coming over and you need something for afternoon tea.

… or it’s one of those lazy Sundays when it’s raining and nothing you can find tempts you. Only something freshly baked and hot from the oven will do.

So that’s how the Pearfect turnover was born.

 

Pearfect turnover that I came up with is the simplest, tastiest sweet treat ideal for any occasion. When you bite into the Pearfect turnover immediately can taste the juicy pear with flaky puff pastry covered in cream cheese. It isn’t overly sweeet but natural and fresh pear flavour makes it perfectly balanced. The pear will become soft and juicy which will complement the crunch of the puff pastry.

Minimum effort, maximum taste.

This Pearfect turnover really is the minimum amount of effort with maximum taste. I think baking can be cheating sometimes. It doesn’t have to be hours of preparation or following complicated recipes. If that isn’t you try this simple recipe and you can see how much fun baking could be.

This is exactly what we made a beautiful juicy pear wrapped in puff pastry straight from the oven. Enjoyed with some fresh double cream, this really is as simple as baking can get.

Pearfect turnover. A pear and cheese puff pastry wrap, easy and quick to bake.

 

Method

1 pack of ready rolled puff pastry

3 Pears

200g of soft cheese like Mascarpone or similar

3 tbsp. of dark soft brown sugar

some spare large grain sugar for the top, I have used Demerara

 

Pre heat the oven to temperature marked on your pack of pastry.*

Put the soft cheese in a bowl, beat until smooth. Add in the soft brown sugar to taste and mix until combined.

Peel the pears and cut into half’s, remove the seeds. Unwrap and unroll the readymade pastry and cut into 6 equal squares.

Divide the cream cheese and put into the middle of each square of the pastry. Gently press the pear half diagonally on the pastry, sprinkle with brown sugar.

Fold up the corners and pinch at each end to make a boat shape. Fold the corners across the pear, gently press to stick together like so:

Place in the oven and bake as directed on the pack or until golden brown.*

When baked remove and place on a cooling rack You can eat it hot straight from the oven with some fresh cream or leave to cool and enjoy later. They keep very well and you can even freeze them for another day (if there is any leftover).

The sweetness from the cream cheese and baked pear go perfectly and the flakey puff pastry really makes this a tasty treat for any occasion.

If you have no pears you can swap them for apples, peaches, plums or any other ‘firm’ fruit.

 

Keep an eye out for more quick and tasty treats to enjoy.

 

*I haven’t been specific with temperature and baking time as the pastry will vary slightly from brand to brand.

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Aggy’s chocolate orange gateau

Aggy’s chocolate orange gateau

Slow almost lazy you would say Saturday at home. I felt like baking something light and naughty. Usually we are ending up with our favourite chocolate brownie cake but this time it didn’t feel quite right… so I came up with this amazing “Aggy’s chocolate orange gateau”.

It can be as easy as you like or you can decorate it with elaborate sugar work.

Aggy’s chocolate orange gateau is a slightly chocolaty, light and moist sponge with delicate creamy orange after taste. Almost like a cake version of the famous orange chocolates.

Aggy’s chocolate orange gateau

For the Aggy’s chocolate orange gateau cake prepare:

  • 280g caster sugar
  • 8 organic eggs (room temperature)
  • 200ml water
  • 200g dark chocolate (I have used 60% cocoa but you can use higher if you wish)
  • 280g plain flour
  • dash of vanilla
  • 1tsp of baking powder

Whisk sugar and eggs on high speed until almost white.

In the meantime boil the water and let it cool down slightly. Smash the chocolate into small pieces. Use a plastic bowl preferably and slowly mix the water into the chocolate until combined and smooth.

Sieve and mix the flour and baking powder. Fold it in slowly simultaneously with melted chocolate in to the egg mixture in few portions.

Prepare two 8” tins. Do not grease the tins! Instead only use paper circles for the base.

Split the mixture evenly and bake it at 160C fan for around 55 minutes. If unsure check with a skewer.

When ready take out the oven and cool in the tin for 15 minutes. Then cut around the sides, turn up side down and remove the paper. Turn the right way up on a rack and leave to completely cool.

Cut both cakes in half.

TOP TIP. The easiest way to cut neatly and accurate that works every time! Mark around your cake lightly with a sharp knife. Take about two foot long piece of dental floss and wrap around the cake. Cross the floss at the front and gently pull through until it comes out the cake.

Aggy’s chocolate orange gateau

Filling.

  • 750g mascarpone cheese
  • high quality organic orange marmalade (I have made my own, if you’re brave enough give it a go keep an eye out for the recipe in one of the upcoming posts)

Add to taste, mix it trough.

Aggy’s chocolate orange gateau

Assembling Aggy’s chocolate orange gateau.

Additionally you will need

  • juice from 2 organic oranges

Drizzle each cake with some orange juice and sandwich with the cream. Decorate as you wish.

Aggy’s chocolate orange gateau

 

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Hello my dears,

and Happy New Year!! I hope you had an amazing Christmas.

 

Cherry, vanilla mousse cheesecake with chocolate and vanilla cookie.

cherry vanilla mousse cheesecake with chocolate and vanilla cookie

 

I have made a new light and delicious recipe, cherry, vanilla mousse cheesecake with chocolate and vanilla cookie.

If you are like us and love food you probably indulged yourself over the Christmas period quite a bit. After all the rich and heavy food, I was craving a simple and light dessert. I love cherries and cookies and always have a spare jar of cherries in the pantry. So I came up with cherry, vanilla mousse cheesecake with chocolate and vanilla cookie bake.

cherry vanilla mousse cheesecake with chocolate and vanilla cookie

cherry vanilla mousse cheesecake with chocolate and vanilla cookie

 

It’s quite easy to make it and you can eat it almost as soon as it is out the oven. First taste is almost like warm marshmallows and if you manage to save any to the next day it will become a light moussy cheesecake texture.

It tastes very delicate and light . A little burst of slightly sour black cherries, followed by subtle vanilla cheese layer with soft and crumbly vanilla and chocolate cookies.

cherry vanilla mousse cheesecake with chocolate and vanilla cookie

cherry vanilla mousse cheesecake with chocolate and vanilla cookie

To make the cookie dough you will need:

  • 450g all plain flour
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 250g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • dash of vanilla

—— sieve and put aside —–>

  • 2 slightly hipped tbls of dark cocoa powder

The quickest way is to place all the ingredients in a mixer with plastic dough knife. Otherwise rub flour and butter together. When ready quickly combine all the ingredients together. Do not overmix.

Split into three parts. Put two together in a sealed bag and place in the freezer. To the third part add the cocoa powder and place it in the freezer as well.

In the meantime prepare a 10″ square tin lined with tin foil and baking paper. I like this cheesecake to be quite tall hence I am using the smaller tin. However you also would be fine with a 12″ square or rectangular equivalent.

Cheese filling.

  • 5 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 250g sugar
  • 750g mascarpone
  • 300g natural yoghurt
  • sieved 2 hipped tbls corn flour
  • dash of vanilla

Whip the egg whites with salt until stiff. Keep whipping while adding the sugar slowly. Mix the mascarpone well in a separate bowl and add in to the egg mix in 3 to 4 portions. Fold in the rest of the ingredients carefully not to knock the air out of the filling mix.

You also will need

  • large jar or tin of cherries

or some fresh or frozen if available. I like to add a spoon of corn flour to my cherry compote to make a light cherry sauce that you can use as well.

Putting the layers together.

For the bottom of the tin grate on a cheese grater the two vanilla dough balls and distribute the layer evenly. Gently put the cheese layer next followed by cherries. Top this off with grated chocolate cookie dough.

TOP TIP. Make sure you don’t handle the cookie dough to long otherwise it will start melting and will be difficult to grate.

cherry vanilla mousse cheesecake with chocolate and vanilla cookie

cherry vanilla mousse cheesecake with chocolate and vanilla cookie

Bake it in a preheated oven at 180C (160C fan) for 50-55 min. Cool in slightly open oven.

If you have any left after hot tasting drizzle with dark or white chocolate.

cherry vanilla mousse cheesecake with chocolate and vanilla cookie

cherry vanilla mousse cheesecake with chocolate and vanilla cookie

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Lemon, almond and poppy seeds roulade

Lemon almond and poppy seed roulade recipe

So who watched the ‘Great British Bake Off’ last week? I think we will be trying our hands at the show stopper as it looked amazing!

Lemon almond and poppy seed roulade Here at Cotswolds Finest Cakes HQ not only do we have a passion for outstanding sculpted, gravity defying and wedding cakes; we also love baking breads, preparing desserts making the ultimate sweet treats. In our new blog we would like to share our favorite recipes with you all so you too can make and bake the most delicious desserts for you and you friends and family.Lemon almond and poppy seed roulade and our litte modelAll the recipes will be varying in skill level but with good planning and attention to detail there should be no recipe that is too difficult for the home baker!

Lemon almond and poppy seed roulade recipe

All the ingredients we use are things that are either found at home already or are easily available from your local store.

So, get your aprons on, the oven fired up, zero the scales and let’s get baking.

First recipe we would like you to try is our amazing Lemon, almond and poppy seed roulade with delicious cream cheese filling. This really is a very moreish dessert which all the family can get involved in making and certainly enjoy eating! The only down side to this dessert is that it’s so easy to make and so delicious – you may find yourself making it over and over again!

(more…)

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