Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Holiday Focaccia

500g strong white bread flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 package active dry yeast
8 ounces warm water (about 50 degrees celcius)
2 tablespoons vegtable oil

125g glace cherries
75g flaked or chopped almonds
75g dried currants or raisins

1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons sugar

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine 225g flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, lemon zest, cardamom and yeast.  Add water and oil and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed.

By hand fold in cherries, almonds and currants and 225g flour.  Mix until dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead dough 5 to 10 times.  Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat top of dough.  Cover with cling film and a towel and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled (about 1 hour).

Grease a baking tray.  Turn raised dough out onto greased tray and form into a ball.  With greased hands, stretch and press dough to form a 12 inch round.  Brush with melted butter.  Prick dough several times with a fork.  Cover with cling film and a towel and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled (about 45 minutes).

Heat oven to 200C/ 400F/ Gas Mark 6.  Uncover dough and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.  Immediately remove from baking tray and place on serving tray to cool.  Cut into wedges with a pizza knife or serrated knife.  Lovely served warm :)


Thursday, 12 December 2013

Smilings my favourite.... and other Elf goodies

Thanksgiving is sort of a sore subject in my house.  It's one of my FAVOURITE Holidays.  I have so many fond memories of Thanksgiving with my Family in the States.  But I've lived in the UK for 9 years now and, lets face it, no one understands it here.  Which is understandable.  I mean until I lived here I never knew the joy of Fireworks Day and had never heard of Easter Monday.  An extra day off in the Spring, thank you very much.  But I still can't fight the little bit of sadness every year as Thanksgiving rolls around and I see all of my Friends and Family getting ready to celebrate.  

I have tried over the years to incorporate a little festive cheer into my household so that the day doesn't pass unnoticed.  We had a Roast Dinner, baked some cookies with the kids, decorated the Christmas Tree and watch a favourite Holiday movie.  This year I choose Elf.  I remember the first time I saw it, my little niece wanted to sleep over at my flat so we went to Blockbuster and I let her choose a movie. I could have never anticipated the pure joy and laughter that movie would bring to our evening.  It has remained one of my all time favorites.  So this year we curled up to watch Elf on Thanksgiving night.  

It was my Daughters school Christmas Fete the following weekend and her class was sponsoring the baking stall so I decided to make some Elf inspired Cupcakes.  I found this amazing little tutorial by Victorious Cupcakes with step by step instructions.  I love that even though I followed the same steps for each cupcake, the subtle differences gave each Elf his own little personality and character.  They where a hit at the fete and so easy to do.  If you fancy having a go you can find the tutorial here.


Elf funniest moments :)