Saturday, 31 December 2011

Malibu Koi Carp Jelly Shots - Celebrate the New Year !

I believe that koi carp fish are a symbolism of love, friendship and prosperity.  For this reason, I've chosen to make some koi carp shaped jelly shots to share with you and celebrate the coming of 2012. For those of you out partying and celebrating the New Year - many of you may already be swimming like fish !

Happy New Year everyone  - Wishing you all the best for 2012

These koi carp jelly shots were inspired by Ann Low of Anncoo Journal who made some awesome agar agar  koi carp jellies a year ago. We've now got a new koi carp silicone bakeware mould now available. I'm just dying to make some chocolate fish or little fish cakes !

I used normal granulated gelatine powder (Dr Oetker) here. I don't think agar agar can be used with alcohol anyway .... and besides, I'm not over keen on the texture of it. Agar agar is kind of crunchy as opposed to wobbly. That probably won;t made any sense until you try eating it for the first time.

Compared to normal gelatine, agar agar is stupidly easy to work with. It un-moulds beautifully with zero effort. Normal jelly is easy enough to work with too, but for a shaped jelly, don't go with the concentration on the packet.... One sachet of Dr Oetkers gelatine granules is said to set 1 pint of liquid. That it will - but only firm enough to spoon from a bowl and not firm enough for turning out shaped set desserts. For that, I use double the volume of gelatine.

To start, lightly oil the inside of your silicone mold with some sunflower / vegetable oil and then use some kitchen roll to wipe away any excess. We don't want a pool of oil on the inside - only a thin film.


2/3 cup of white sugar
35g powdered gelatine (I used 3 sachets Dr Oetker)
1 cup of water
1 cup of milk
1.1/3 cups of Malibu (coconut liqueur)
2 sultanas

note - I used a 250ml volume cup

Sponge the gelatine in the cup of water and set aside for 10 mins.

When sponged, remove 1 heaped teaspoon and set aside.

Add sponged gelatine, milk and sugar into a pan. Bring slowly up to heat - just below boiling point - until sugar and gelatine are completely dissolved. DO NOT let it boil as this will affect the setting properties.

Remove from heat and add in the Malibu. Set aside to cool.

Take the reserved sponged gelatine and add to it a couple of tablespoons of water. I melted these together in the microwave in short bursts.

Cut the sultanas into little pieces. You need at least 12 (make one or two extra). Roll them into little balls with your fingers. Take a little gelatine solution on a spoon and roll the tiny sultana piece in the solution, then carefully place the sultana ball on the indentation on the inside of the mould where the eye is to be.

Add some food colouring to a saucer. Don't be scared of it - we want a strong colour. I used some red and yellow together to get a deep orange. Add a tablespoon or so of the gelatine mix to the food colouring and combine. Use this to highlight detail areas inside the mould using a teaspoon. Don't totally cover the inside.

Put the mould in the fridge for a few minutes to chill and set the coloured markings.

Any left over gelatine (without the colour) can be added back to the malibu mix.

Remove the mould from the fridge and add a teaspoon or two of the malibu mix to the mould. Refrigerate again for another few minutes. It won't take long to chill that volume - literally only 3 > 4 mins. The reason for doing this is that I found by skipping this step, the coloured markings lift off the inside of the mould when you pour in the rest of the liquid and end up floating to the top of your jelly (which will become the bottom)

Pour in the rest of the malibu jelly mix and allow to set for approx 3 hours before turning out.

Every little fish will have it's own unique markings. Time to meet (and eat) your little fishy friends !

Sarah-Jane Nash, - silicone bakeware specialists, 1st Jan 2012

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Mincemeat Crumble Slices & Christmas Photos

These cake bars couldn't be easier and yet they can be made SO versatile and quick to make. I packed these full of my home made sweet mincemeat on this occasion, but diced peaches or apples with cinnamon and sugar work well - or even just a good thick layer of chunky jam !

Eat them as a cake slice or serve hot as a dessert with custard or a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.

Use a tray, tin or silicone bakeware mould approx 11 x 9" internal size - our Tray Bake Swiss silicone mould is perfect for this (as shown)

700g mincemeat (replace with suitable alternative as desired)

650g flour
325g sugar
300g butter

Rub the butter, flour and sugar together until it starts to clump together. I like to be able to compact it together in my hand so it holds as one lump and them crumble it again so it's like rubble more than crumbs.

Put half the mixture in the mould or tin and roll flat. Spread mincemeat / jam / choice of filling on top and then top with the remaining crumble.

Bake 180deg c fan oven (200deg C normal electric) for 30mins or until the top is starting to turn a light golden brown.

Allow to totally cool before slicing. Makes approx 12 large slices.

May be warmed again later and served as a dessert with good vanilla ice cream.

I've been spending a few days with family in Scotland. We shouted up the chimney just before we left Norfolk so that Santa would know where to bring Oliver's presents on Christmas morning ! I must Santa brought Oliver a spectacular load of toys....including the spitting dinosaur that he really wanted (but is actually rather scared of at the moment)

Uncle Simon (my brother) got given the job of putting all the fiddly little bits of a Playmobil set together.

Oliver was VERY excited on Christmas eve and getting him to bed was a bit of a nightmare. We wrongly presumed that since he was very late going to sleep, that he would not get up until a reasonable hour. Hmm 5.25am isn't quite what I had in mind.......!!!

This one - Smokey The Fire Engine - is most definitely the favourite.

Doctor Oliver doing an examination of Pappy (apparently contagious)

Riding Bullseye (Nanny's rocking horse) on Boxing Day

Santa was rather good to me too. I've got several rather super cookery books that I'm looking forward to trying out new recipes from family and a Masterclass at The Lavender House in Norfolk from my lovely husband.

Can't believe it's almost all over and we go home again tomorrow.

Hope you have all had a fantastic Christmas !

Sarah-Jane Nash, - December 2011

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Soft Nougat Recipe (and other varieties)

I made some Honey, Vanilla and Pistachio Nougat earlier this year. It was SO good.

Actually, I'd forgotten all about it until I was given an E book for my ipad of all my blog posts that Mum had made for me. Only looking back through it in book format, did I really appreciate the volume of things I've made over the last year and the amount of things Oliver and I have done !

Given Christmas is almost upon us, I decided to have another bash at nougat for Christmas gifts. I'll be making another batch of the original recipe - but my new adaptation of last year's recipe is just as good although not nearly so sticky to the touch. In an effort to create a chocolate nougat, I added some melted chocolate to the other ingredients. It gave a less sticky result. When white chocolate is used, it's really not detectable as having chocolate added ....


2 egg whites
1.1/2 cups / 320g granulated sugar 
300ml corn syrup (or glucose)
1/2 vanilla pod
60ml water
200g toasted hazelnuts
40g good cocoa powder
100g of dark chocolate (I used 65%)

for those in the UK, corn syrup can be bought from Works out considerably cheaper than buying liquid glucose. Golden syrup can be used as a substitute, but it's a lot sweeter in taste. Worth investing in corn syrup for candy making - the difference (ease) is incredible.

Scrape the seeds out the vanilla pod and put aside. Put the pod itself and the sugar, liquid glucose or corn syrup andd water into a large, heavy based saucepan (preferably non stick - you'll appreciate that later !)

Bring these slowly to a rolling boil and keep on the heat until temperature reaches 248  to 250deg F. This will take about 15 mins.

Just before the syrup mix is ready, whisk the two egg whites to stiff peaks in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Remove syrup from the heat and pour slowly into the egg whites with the mixer going at a medium / high rate. Try and keep the syrup from directly making contact with the whisk otherwise this can affect the texture I believe.

The mix will grow like meringue and look shiny. As soon as the syrup is all in, add the melted chocolate and cocoa powder and let the mixer combine. Quickly chuck in the hazelnuts. You want it to stick to the beaters like a good meringue, but it will be much stickier. Don't let it cool in there too much. You need to work quite quick with this one ! It doesn't take long in the mixer.... get it out within a minute or so of all the syrup going in.

Scrape into a well buttered silicone bakeware mould - I used a 9" square silicone bakeware mould - and allow to cool. Chill in the fridge to get it really nice and hard as it is generally easy to cut that way.

For other variations try : 

100g pistachios, 50g dried cranberries, 50g dried cherries, 100g white chocolate (omit the cocoa powder)

150g walnuts, 60g white chocolate, 40g milk chocolate, 1tsp strong coffee granules (added to syrup)

Cut into strips (I got approx 6 per tray) wrap in cellophane and tie with some ribbon. Quick and simple store cupboard stand by items that can quickly and easily be turned into a beautiful gift !

Merry Christmas to All - and wishing everyone all the best for 2012.

I'll be taking a few days off work (by the end of tomorrow). Looking forward to some well earned rest and overdue time with my family. I hope to perhaps catch up and message many of you during the holiday and will be back with loads of new mould designs very early in the New Year.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Date & Honey Sourdough Bread and A Visit To Denver Windmill

I started this blog post on the 27th of November - the evening Oliver and I got back from our trip to Denver windmill. I don't know where the time has gone since then.... I've been working crazy hours to cope with the volume of emails and orders due to the pre-Christmas rush and the blog has been sadly been neglected. I've not been ignoring any of you, I've simply not been around.

Denver Windmill is (was) the last remaining commercial working windmill in Norfolk producing stone ground flour. I say was, as only a month before our visit tragedy struck and the mill was badly damaged. You can read all about it here.

Here is my refreshment recipe for my starter.

2 tablespoons of starter from your vat in the fridge
5 well rounded tbsp of strong white bread flour
1 well rounded tbsp of rye flour
mix with enough luke warm water to reach a dropping consistency (much like cake batter !)

Cover with clingfilm and leave on the kitchen counter overnight.

It should be nice and bubbly by the morning. Discard about half (of put it in another bowl if you intend making more than one loaf and do the next following steps to both lots of gloop).

To the remaining gloop, add about 2 > 3 times the amount of white wheat flour and enough water to get it back to dropping consistency. Leave for about 6 hours and it's then ready to bake. If it's not bubbling nicely, this step can be repeated. As long as there are a good amount of bubbles there, don't worry if it is not as foamy as it was after sitting for 12 hours. I've been doing this bit by eye as above and without weighing.

Whilst there, I purchased some newly milled flour and made this honey, date and raisin sourdough loaf the next day.


100g rye flour
400g stoneground dressed bread flour *
10g salt
3 tbsp runny honey
220g refreshed sourdough starter
250g water
150g chopped medijool dates
50g raisins

This can be mixed together and kneaded by hand - or shove in a Kitchen Aid with dough hook for 10 mins. I know, I know sourdough should be treated softly softly... but it is not always as convenient to do the lot by hand. I had several things going on tonight in the kitchen whilst my trusty Kitchen Aid worked my dough.

Once the dough is kneaded and has become soft and silky, put it back in the mixing bowl and cover with either a plastic shower cap or some cling film and leave for approx 3 hours until risen by about 50 > 75%

Take out, knock back and shape as required.

Put on a baking tray and leave to rise for another 1 > 1.1.2 hours before baking in a relatively warm environment.

I cut out a stencil of initials from an envelope. Wet the stencil and apply to the bread.

 Dust over lightly with flour

Remove stencil and bake for an artisan finish.

Yummy served slightly warm from the oven served simply with some butter and cheeses.

Of course, a visit to a windmill wouldn't be the same without going up the actual windmill. Oliver will show you around....

Oliver - scampering up the first lot of steps into the windmill

This is the floor where the flour is sent through a hopper system and into large sacks. These are then lowered to the floor below (via a hoist) through a hatch in the floor. Kind of hard to take decent photos as not really possible to get any further back. 

You can see the hoppers a bit better in this semi aerial view from the stairs to the next level.

Milling stones are on the next floor above. Again, rather impossible to get much in. Loads of equipment lying around and cordoned off given everything is in a state of repair.

Oliver going up yet more stairs. They were very steep and getting interesting by this point. He did well and managed up no problem. Coming down took quite lot longer as he was not nearly so confident and was rather "interesting". Still - he was very brave and came home with a certificate to say he'd got to the top.

This is a hopper that the grain is fed into, which in turn is fed to the millstones on floors below.

Once so pretty, this windmill is now sadly need of some restoration work. Thankfully, the people who have the tenancy are still managing to operate thanks to an engine powered mill.

 You can see in this photo why we couldn't go out the door of the tower and walk round the outside. Eeek !

Oliver was fascinated by the big gears on the top floor of the windmill. What a shame is wasn't working when we were there !

After all that - it was time for a cup of tea and some lunch in the tearoom. We can recommend the bread baked on site from the newly milled flour !

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Homemade Boozy Mince Pies

Mince pies have to be one of my favourite foods of Christmas. I adore the warmth from the mixed spice and cinnamon traditionally coupled with brandy. I kid you not - there is little easier to make than these adorable mini mince pies. Of course, bigger ones are just as easy - but it doesn't give me the excuse to eat two of them !

In many years gone by, it was common place for mincemeat for these sweet meat pies to ACTUALLY contain ground meat. Some people still make them like that. However, this version does not.

The batch of mincemeat is very very simple to make. It gets better with age and will keep several months properly stored. I made a batch of 24 mini mince pies in my silicone bakeware mould and still had enough mincemeat to fill about 5 good sized jam jars (each of which will be enough for another batch of pies). Makes a lovely Christmas gift !

FOR THE PASTRY (makes 24 mini pies)

275g plain cake flour
110g salted butter (cold and GRATED)
100g icing sugar
1 large egg
zest of a lemon

Rub the grated butter into the flour and icing sugar, until the mixture resembles crumbs. I like to use cold grated butter as it incorporates easier when rubbing together. You want to work pastry as little as possible to keep is short and melt in the mouth.

Add the beaten egg. You may want to combine with a wooden spoon as it does get very sticky - but I get in there with my hands.

Once combined, wrap in clingfilm and shove in the fridge for at least 20mins. This is a VERY soft sweet pastry. I don't even bother rolling it.

When you are ready to use it, pinch pieces off . I've forgotten the exact weight now.. but am pretty sure I used 15 grams per ball.

I used a pastry tamper to form the shapes and then finished the tops with my fingers.

Now fill your mini pies with as much of the mincemeat as they will hold. It's not much - about 1 heaped teaspoon. After filling the ones below, I went back round them and packed a bit more in


650g of luxury mixed dried fruit
(mine consisted of raisins, currants, mixed peel, cherries, pineapple, apricot)
100g roughly chopped pecans
juice and zest of a lemon
400g medium diced bramley apples 
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp mixed spice
250g Atora suet
100g caster sugar
250g dark brown soft sugar
175ml  of apple brandy
175g plum liqueur

Basically, put all the ingredients into a large bowl and stir. Pop it in the fridge, and give it another stir every time you walk past over the next two days. 

The dried fruits will swell as they absorb the alcohol and strangely enough, the apples are going to shrink. There will be some thick syrupy stuff in the bottom.

After 2 > 3 days, spoon into sterilised jars and seal with a lid. Make sure you split the syrupy liquid evenly between the jars Some people think mincemeat is best left to mature for 2 > 3 weeks before use - but I've found the results and flavour just as good after the first 2 > 3 days.

The pastry tops for my little pies are 6 or 7 gram balls f pastry simply squashed in the palm of my hand.

Put a tiny slit in the top of each one. Liberally douse with caster sugar and bake in a 180deg C fan / 200deg C electric oven for approx 15 mins until the tops are slightly golden.

Enjoy warm with a cup of tea or a glass of mulled wine.

These will store up to a week in an airtight container. Why not make and freeze an entire tray in one go ? Ideal to pull out the freezer and bake when unexpected visitors arrive. Silicone bakeware moulds are totally safe to go from freezer to oven !

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Spiced Crab Apple Jelly

I'm very late in blogging this one. Been meaning to do it for several weeks. Already Autumn has passed and winter is upon us.

Nature brings a bountiful harvest. There is something special about harvesting bountiful wild crab apples and hedgerow berries. The vast majority of people pass them by without a second glance. To me, they are something special to be savoured. Easy to collect, and free to gather they impart beautiful flavours and are delicious made into jellies to serve on thickly buttered bread or toast and as a condiment alongside meats.

Add to a maslin pan :

2.5kg of crab apples
a thumb sized piece of root ginger
2 sticks of lemon grass
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 stick of cinnamon
Juice and zest of a lemon

Add approx 1 litre of water and boil until the fruit becomes soft and pulpy.

Strain off the liquid through some muslin. Actually, an clean pillowcase works well too. I can't resist squeezing out any excess juice, but by doing so this will make jellies a little cloudy. For this reason, I generally pass the juice a second time through a muslin cloth.

Put the juices back in the pan - with 750g of sugar for every litre of juice. Boil until setting point for jam is reached on a sugar thermometer and then pour into sterilised jars

Other variations of this can be made. I also made some hedgerow jelly (not spiced) with 1.5kg of mixed hedgerow berries such as sloes, hawthorne, rose hips and 1kg crab apples. Delicious on warm buttered scones.

Apologies - I didn't get round to taking photos of the hedgerow jelly. Shame, as it was a beautiful pink hue.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Banana Cornflake Crumble Breakfast Muffins FOODBUZZ #5

Our Crown muffin mould makes large American jumbo sized muffins. The silicone mould has a special rebated head so you can create those great big mushroom like tops that you find in all the well known cafes / coffee shops. It's almost impossible to recreate muffins like these at home without a special mould. If you've tried, you have no doubt experienced muffin mix overflowing the top of normal bakeware / moulds and a very messy end result.

The topping is optional. If used, the muffins are best eaten same day. They make large MAN FOOD sized muffins. Each is the same as two normal muffins (excluding topping) - so either hide in a corner whilst consuming or cut in half and share ! The picture in the foreground is one of these on a side plate. The 3 in the background are on a dinner plate (to give an idea of scale)

This recipe creates a lovely moist muffin. They seem to stay fresh in the fridge for a good 3 days (without topping). The cornflake crumble topping has a lovely crunchy texture.

300g plain (cake) flour
1.1/2tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
100g of white chocolate chips (optional)
400g of mashed bananas
1 beaten egg
100ml milk
100ml vegetable oil

Prepare the crown muffin mould by greasing the inside of the rims at the top and dusting with flour. Tap out any excess. Don't bother this to the lower section of the mould unless you are not using paper liners.

The papers are designed only to stop where the rebated head starts.

Preheat oven to 180deg C fan / 200 deg C electric

Sift dry ingredients together. Add all wet ingredients and mix to combine. Do be careful not to overmix. Don't panic - it's going to be really lumpy, especially with the mashed banana. 

Spoon mix into the cells in your mould. It will overflow the paper cases and partially into the rebated head area.

For the topping

50g salted butter
60g plain flour
50g granulated sugar
25g cornflakes

Rub the butter with your fingers into the flour and sugar. Lightly crush the cornflakes in your hand and add to the mix. 

The mix should just hold together when clamped in your hand. If it is too crumbly, add a little more butter. You don't want a fine crumble. You want to clamp some in your hand and roughly crumble it in lumps over the muffin batter.

Bake for approx 25 mins until a cocktail stick comes out clean. The muffins should be well risen and golden.

My little cake tester approves ! This bit went missing whilst I was still taking the photos....

Sarah-Jane Nash, November 2011 - The joys of baking with Oliver !

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Zingy Lemon & Ginger Iced Gingerbread Cake

This was a beautifully moist, rich and spicy gingerbread cake which was topped with a zingy lemon and ginger icing.

It was good. Really good ! Has to be my all time favourite gingerbread recipe. So good infact, I made two in two days. One to take to work Saturday before last (coffee and cake for customers every Saturday morning) and the other for my friend Victoria.

The original recipe can be found on the BBC GOOD FOOD website here

My recipe was very similar - but method a little different and quicker. I used a 9" square silicone mold and cut the finished cake into 18 generous sized servings.

225g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
120g butter
250ml milk
115g dark brown soft (muscavado) sugar
200g black treacle
50g golden syrup
80g finely grated preserved ginger (syrup reserved)

Preheat the oven to 160deg C fan / 180deg normal

Line a 9" square silicone baking mould or tin with baking parchment.
This is very sticky stuff - especially when iced, so I recommend you don't skip this step. I wanted to lift it out by the paper and am glad I went to the extra effort of lining the mould. Saying that, I only lined the base and two sides with a strip (after greasing to make the paper stick) and did not bother lining the other two sides.

Sieve all dry ingredients into a large bowl and give a stir to combine.

Melt the sugars, milk and butter in a large saucepan until almost boiling.

Remove from the heat.

Quickly mix in all dry ingredients until no lumps can be seen. You may want to use a hand mixer to do this.

Transfer this mixture into a 9" square silicone mould or traditional baking tin (on a baking tray for support) and get it in the oven as quick as you can.

Bake until a cocktail stick comes out clean. Mine took approx 25 mins.


250g powdered icing sugar
juice of 1 lemon
reserved syrup from preserved ginger

Mix these together until a thick, smooth paste is formed.

Spread on top of the hot gingerbread (just out the oven). It will start to melt as you spread, which gives a nice even coverage.

Leave overnight in the tin / mould to cool and for the icing to harden. If you can resist, leave for a couple of days in a tin to mature as it will improve given a chance !

Sarah-Jane Nash, November 2011 - - Cooking with silicone bakeware

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Bockwurst Sausages Baked in a Bun - MAN FOOD !

I came up with this idea a few weeks ago and never got round to trying it out until today.. This photo is a little scary. These are my colleagues - not a bunch of ex convicts :-P

The guys got ripped into these when I took them in at lunchtime and it took them a little longer to demolish one than it does a dainty macaron !

I'm sure there will be someone else out there who may adapt these and make them look pretty. Forgive me, but this initial version is unadulterated MAN FOOD. It's rustic and huge. Made for eating with grubby, unwashed hands and cramming in a big gob (huge mouth) whilst on the move. Saying that, they smelt wonderful even if they did look rather silly.

Saying that, it worked pretty well.

I'd bought a big jar of 8 huge German Brockwurst sausages from Lidl. They are like big hotdogs, (though taste a lot better) and come in a jar with brine. I'm guessing they have a higher meat content than normal hot dogs and are 75% pork These were ready cooked and can be eaten cold or reheated. They're big old hot dogs at approx 8" long.

The recipe below produced enough dough to make 6 Bockwursts Baked in Buns.

First of all, I made a batch of bread dough very late last night. My Kitchenaid did all the work with a dough hook.

500g strong white bread flour
25g olive oil
1.5tsp salt
1tbsp sugar
14g dried active yeast - or 1 x sachet fast action bread maker yeast
35g wholegrain mustard
35g grated parmesan
1.5tsp dried mixed herbs
320ml luke warm water

It using dried active yeast, dissolve sugar in the water, add the yeast and leave for about 10mins to activate.

Proceed to combine all ingredients and make the dough. Knead for 10 mins until smooth and silky - or if it's 1.30am, you may choose to get the Kitchenaid to do it for you as I did !

Put the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Shove in the fridge overnight - or leave to rise until doubled in size and ready to use.

I've been working with sour dough a lot recently. That does not rise as much as regular dough. I've been shoving my sour dough in the fridge in an oiled tupperware box rather than in a big bowl.

This was how much the dough had risen IN THE FRIDGE after about 2 hours before I went to bed... I knocked it back a bit, figured it wouldn't do much more (and had no where to go) before the morning and put it back in the fridge.

This is what I found this morning ....

I guess it had been trying to escape !

I took it out the box and divided into 6 x 140g balls. Each of these was rolled out. I put a generous squirt of chilli tomato ketchup on each one and a bockwurst on top.

Then sealed them up like packages. Do not forget to make a small air / steam hole in one end. The ones I didn't burst open at the seams on baking.. Glaze with egg wash and bake at approx 180deg C fan for 20mins.

I wish I'd scattered some sesame seeds on top too.

As you can see, they cam out a beautiful golden brown and the sausages stayed snuggly warm inside the soft dough outer for a considerable amount of time. They may look a bit more presentable cut in two across the diagonal and served in a basket with some hand cut chips (fries). But whatever way - offer to a man, and it's good food to grab and go !

Sarah-Jane Nash - experimenting in the kitchen, November 2011 -