Fruit bread

Is there anything better than the smell of bread baking in the oven? Well yes, there is. Cue the fruit loaf.  Perfect on a cold and wet Sunday afternoon with a cuppa, this rich and sweet bread will certainly warm your cockles.

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You’ll need:
300ml milk heated to boiling point then left to cool until warm.
500g strong bread flour
200g mixed fruit
1tsp salt
7g quick yeast
75g caster sugar
50g very soft butter
3tsp ground cinnamon

Mix the flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt and yeast together before drizzling in the warm milk. Mix in the fruit and knead the dough for 5 or so minutes on a floured surface until it’s smooth and elastic.

Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover loosely with clingfilm. Leave somewhere warm to prove for an hour or until doubled in size.

Knock the dough back and knead again. Divide into two and put in greased loaf tins. Leave to prove for another hour then bake at 180oC for about 30 minutes or until golden and hollow sounding when tapped on the underside.

Melt some apricot jam and use a pastry brush to glaze the top of the loaf. Enjoy warm with butter. 

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Cinnamon Rolls

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I love cinnamon rolls! Absolutely love them. Warming, gooey, sweet, perfect with a steaming mug of coffee for elevenses on a frosty morning. That said, until yesterday I only ever attempted to make my Cinnamon Swirl Scones, the simple, quick and easy cousin of this yeast infused doughy delight. However, I bit the bullet and decided to have a go. After checking out a few different recipes, I did the following:

In a saucepan lightly heat:
1.5 cups semi skimmed milk
0.5 cup double cream
0.5 cup sugar
0.5 cup vegetable oil

In a mixer bowl measure out 4 cups plain flour and two and a quarter tsps of quick yeast, 1 tsp baking powder and a 1/4 tsp bicarb.

When the milk mixture is luke warm set the dough hook going on your mixer and drizzle in the milk. You should end up a wet dough like this:

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Cover with clingfilm and leave somewhere warm to rise for an hour or so. You should end up with this:

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Now mix in an extra 0.5 cup of flour before turning out onto a floured surface.

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Roll out into a rough oblong shape about half an inch thick.

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Brush with approximately 75g melted butter, before sprinkling generously with ground cinnamon, dark brown sugar and light brown sugar.

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Roll up before slicing into half inch thick slices.

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Grease a few round tins. How many you need obviously depends on the size of them. I bought some disposable foil containers with lids and needed five of them for this amount of dough. I could fit five rolls in each.

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Leave them to prove for another half an hour somewhere warm.

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Bake for 15 minutes at 160oC.

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Now, ordinarily at this point I’d ice them. However these are going to be frozen for Christmas, so I’ll ice them in due course.  However, here’s my Cinnamon icing recipe for you. To a kilo of icing sugar add a tablespoon of ground cinnamon, a tablespoon of vanilla syrup and a tablespoon of camp coffee syrup. Set the mixer going on low and drizzle in a bit if milk until you have a very thick but pourable icing. Divide between the five trays of rolls while they are still hot, and serve. Delicious! Enjoy!

Christmas swirl scones

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Last year I shared my Cinnamon Swirl Scone recipe with you and was blown away by the positive feedback. This is an even more Christmassy version of it, using good old Christmas mincemeat. Like most of my recipes, it’s quick and easy, and can also be made ahead of time and chilled or frozen raw ready to be baked when impromptu, but welcome, Christmas guests turn up.

Make a basic scone dough like the one in the Cinnamon Swirl Scone recipe (I doubled it for this recipe as I was feeding a crowd), and roll out to a rough rectangular shape.

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Spread roughly 450g mincemeat over the dough leaving about an inch gap at one side.

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Roll up, wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for an hour, or freeze for use at a later date.

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Slice and bake at 180oC for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden.

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Slather in icing, or if you’re feeling very indulgent, icing sugar mixed with Baileys for a proper taste of Christmas.

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Festive Room Spray

Christmas is a season to indulge all the senses.  The sights, sounds, smells, delicious tastes and not forgetting having a cheeky squeeze of the presents under the tree in an attempt to work out what they are!

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Here’s a really easy but very effective way for you to help your home exude the warming smells of Christmas, plus these make lovely little gifts.

You’ll need a dark glass spray bottle (mine is 50ml), 25ml vodka, 25ml water (preferably distilled) and a few drops of your favourite Christmassy essential oils.  I used frankincense, cinnamon and a bit of pine.

Simply mix all the ingredients, pop a label on, and spray away! Christmas in a bottle!

Cinnamon swirl scones

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With friends coming round for a play date this afternoon, I wanted to treat them to something tasty and freshly baked, but I knew I was going to be pressed for time having spent the morning in the gym (having a preemptive calorie burning session!). These cinnamon scones were just the thing, being incredibly fast to make and utterly delicious.

You’ll need:
550g self raising flour
110g salted butter
50g caster sugar
300ml milk

A couple of tablespoons of soft dark sugar, caster sugar and two or three teaspoons of ground cinnamon to taste, and a large knob of butter for melting.

Plus icing sugar and water to glaze.

Here’s how to do it:
Dress sous chef in appropriate attire…

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Chip the butter into the flour and rub together until you have a fine crumb.

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Add the sugar and milk and mix to firm a dough. Roll the dough out into a rough rectangular shape on a floured surface. You’re looking for a thickness of about a centimetre.

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Sack the sous chef on the grounds of inappropriate conduct…

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Melt a knob of butter and spread over the dough.

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Then mix brown sugar, caster sugar and the ground cinnamon in a bowl.

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Sprinkle the mixture over the butter drenched dough being sure to leave a gap on one of the long sides of about an inch.

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Roll up, sealing with the edge that’s still bare.

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At this point, if you have time roll the rolled up dough in greaseproof paper and chill in the fridge (or freeze for use at a later date). Doing this won’t affect the taste but will give you a more circular shape when you come to slice them. On this occasion I didn’t have time, so just went ahead and sliced them immediately.

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You will always end up with a runt of the batch from either end,  but that’s ok… Chef’s treat!

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Look at those swirls of cinnamony goodness! Yum!

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Bake at 180oC for approximately 20 minutes or until golden.

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Leave to cool for ten minutes or so before transferring to a cake stand and drizzling with icing. Invite a few friends over and enjoy!

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Steph's never far from a baked good!