THE Best Battenburg Recipe

Did you miss me? 😉
Of course you did, I mean how else are you supposed to get your weekly fix of gorge cake and bake recipes combined with lots of fab beauty tips?!

Because we have to face it, reading about products I recommend is just giving you a tiny little excuse to make you feel better about spending the vast majority of the months salary on makeup and skincare. 

Am I right or am I RIGHT? 

Anyway beauties I hope you had the most wonderful Christmas and a happy and healthy new year to go with it! How does a nice little gem of a cake recipe sound to start us off for the year?

Okay okay, so you’ve probably read the title and wondered when I was zapped back to the 70’s to actually fancy baking something so retro.

Well as it turns out Battenburg is pretty fab. A tad Passe I’ll admit, but if baked to perfection (which isnt hard since its so bloody easy) you can turn it into a very impressive little bake that all your nans… *cough* I mean friends, will be clambering over each other to get a piece of.

Plus the boyf would eat battenburg for every meal of the day if it were a possibility, so there’s plenty of demand for it at my end. 

So without further ado, let me show you how to make this badass teatime treat.
Ingredients – For The Yellow sponge:

  • 175g baking spread/ softened butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste (vanilla extract will do, but paste preferably)
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 55g ground almonds
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (optional, depending how almondy you’re feeling)

For The Pink Sponge:

  • Copy the ingredients and method for the yellow sponge but replace the almond extract, if you used it, with some pink food paste/colouring. I used 1/4 tsp but add more if you want a richer colour

For The Build:

  • 1kg Marzipan; you can buy ready rolled or just 2 of the blocks will do just fine
  • 220g Apricot Jam

Method:

  1. Get yourself prepped by heating your oven to 160C fan (180C/GM4), as well as greasing and lining your 10×8 inch oblong tin using butter and baking parchment.
  2. Put all of the ingredients for the almond sponge into a mixing bowl and combine for 2 minutes using an electric whisk or using a stand mixer.
  3. Pour the mix into your pre lined tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 27-30 minutes, until it’s springs back when you touch it. After a few minutes remove from the tin and flop it out onto a cooling rack and cover with a tea towel to stop it from drying out.
  4. Line your tin again and make the pink sponge using the same method, but adding the food colouring this time. Once combined, pour into the tin again and bake for the same amount of time. Don’t forget to cover with a tea towel once it’s baked and cooling. 
  5.  Once both sponges are cooled, cut both evenly in half lengthways, then each half in half again. You should have 8 long strips. 
  6. Grab your apricot jam and boil it in a small saucepan, then lay a pink and yellow strip side by side and paint with jam, using a pastry brush and stick them together. Now paint jam across the lengthof those two strips and place two more alternate strips on top – making sure the colours are reversed to create the signature checkerboard effect.
  7. Trim each end to make sure they’re even and put to one side.
  8. Roll out your marzipan to around 2mm thickness on a floured surface. Trim away any excess, and paint the upside with jam. Now carefully wrap your cake in the marzipan, trim away any jagged edges and put on your fanciest serving plate!
  9. Now dust with icing sugar to make it look fancy, and serve to all the people you want to wow.

There, told you it was damn easy!

Give it a go and post your pics on Instagram and tag me @soph__austin – can’t wait to to see all your retro bakes!

I love you all my beauts,

S xoxo

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Summer Series 2016!

Good day to all of you beautiful people! Summer is finally knocking on our doors which has to be the perfect excuse to up your bronzed beauty game, not to mention getting your baking groove on! So get yourself dolled up, crack open a few bottles and invite all your loved ones round for a good old knees up in the sunshine.

The irony here is that as I’m writing this, the weather in sunny Southend on Sea is significantly un-summery, (after todays’ downpour I’m hoping that the lower region of my trousers dries off before I start work. Wishful thinking, I know, since the amount of water they’ve soaked up is enough to make them fall down every time I stand up.)

But there’s still hope! Last weekend saw some utterly glorious sunshine and I’m sure there is lots more to come (well hopefully; but then again this is England)

So, when you throw this epic garden party this summer, there are 2 things I would like you to do:

  1. Invite me, of course. I’m a hoot.
  2. Keep checked in weekly with The Baking Beauty Blog.

I say this because my new Summer Series for 2016 will be your own epic guide to summer. For all my go to seasonal recipes, naturally beautiful summer beauty tips trick and everything you will need to achieve them, plus lots of other holiday posts and fantastic summery delights.

Since the British summer usually leaves a lot to be desired, I think we need a bit of inspiration to make the most out of any scrap of sunshine we are happened to be blessed with.
So check back weekly; Firstly you’ll get a peep into my beauty archive for my go to holiday beauty favourites, then the first wondrous recipe will be the magic that is Lemon Amaretti. Which according to my family, friends and colleagues are absolutely gorgeous; not to mention ridiculously easy to make!

Watch this space beauties,
All my love,

S x

Biscuit butter AKA The Better Butter

Oh January is here, the snow is finally on its way this week and everyone is still wallowing in the shadows of Christmas past. Well my credit card certainly is, goodness me it’s so battered and bruised after December spending that when I went to use it to pay for a mere cappuccino, it actually let out a cry of despair. 

But fear not fellow internettees, just because it’s January, doesn’t mean we have to keep up this charade, I’m about to give you a gift. Not a Christmas gift but a gift in the wonderful form of a recipe that will blow those winter blues right out of your life.

I’m sure most of you are fed up of cooking for now, so what could be better than a no bake sweet treat? Perhaps maybe 4 or 5  no bake sweet treats, but anyway you get where I’m going with this. I’m going to make the most epic cookie butter known to man, and it uses up all that leftover shortbread your mum got given for Christmas. In my batch that I knocked up last night I used half shortbread and half lotus biscoff biscuits to create a rich, indulgent butter, with a few crunchy biscoff chunks thrown in for good measure. And this is the key  ingredient you can use to create fabulous  buttercream and cheesecakes, not to mention to garnish hundreds of other desserts. 

  
Oh and FYI, this biscuit butter recipe doesn’t have to be shortbread or biscoff, use whatever biscuits you fancy, although if they are sandwich biscuits, scrape out the creamy middle first.

The ingredient list below is just a guideline; add sweetness depending on your palate. If the consistency is too thin add more biscuit, too thick add a drop more evaporated milk. But my measurements made enough to fill one Kilner jar. 

Ingredients

  • 125g shortbread 
  • 125g biscoff
  • 100ml evaporated milk
  • 75g butter, melted
  • Generous pinch of sea salt
  • 3 tbsp light soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 

Method

  1. To make any biscuit butter you really need a food processor. So get that out and once it’s set up, throw in your biscuits and pulse them until they are a fine crumb.
  2. Then pour in the melted butter and evaporated milk and whazz it up for about a minute. If it’s too thin just add more crumbled biscuits, and if it’s too thick just add a small drop more of evaporated milk.
  3. Okay now taste it, if you don’t have a very sweet tooth this might be just the ticket. However in my case, I needed just a little touch of something else. So I added the sugar, salt and vanilla. My measurements are listed above however just adjust them to suit you.
  4. Now mix it all up again then spoon into a sterilised jar or container.
  5. Now to consume this wonderful butter you can spread it on a toasted hot cross bun, garnish your ice cream or desserts with it, or mix it up with cream cheese and whipped cream to make a smashing cheesecake. 

Remember with a recipe like this that doesn’t need baking you can afford to wing it. Adjust the measurements to suit you and what you have available. The possibilities are endless! And fabulous. Don’t forget to post your pictures on Instagram and tag me @soph__austin 

    GINGERBREAD DOUGHNUTS! 

    The third recipe of The December Project sees me going out of the box with baking… And not actually baking anything. I KNOW. This week sees the return of the inevitable Christmas Cake Curd from M&S plus I have had to be a real health guru (ha) and deep fry since the recipe is for…. GINGERBREAD DOUGHNUTS. And I don’t care what anyone says, baked doughnuts just aren’t as good as real, hot, fluffy, fried doughnuts. 

      
    As gorgeous as they are and as wonderful as the idea of combining gingerbread flavours with a doughnut, I can’t take full credit. The idea for this recipe came from the one and only queen of the kitchen. In my house anyway. It’s my nan! 
    So it was last week when I was a little stuck for inspiration, I wanted to do something new so I decided to ask my nan if she had any thoughts on what my recipe could be. She just instantly, barely giving me time to finish the sentence, yelled ‘CHRISTMAS DOUGHNUTS’. And thus, the inspiration for gingerbread spiced doughnuts was born. So nan gets the credit for thinking them up, but I can’t even take full credit for making them since I bought in my trusty work best friend Kelly (Instagram @kellyrusso19) to be my sous chef. And what a fantastic job she did.
      
    So down to the nitty gritty; the recipe for these doughnuts is very easy, it just takes a hell of a long time inbetween making the dough and actually frying them. 

    Ingredients

    Yield: 20-24 doughnuts

    For the doughnuts

    • 500g plain flour
    • 7g dried yeast
    • 4tbsp golden caster sugar
    • 1 tbsp light soft brown sugar 
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 250ml warm milk
    • 50g melted butter
    • 1 beaten egg

    For the frying/filling/coating

    • 2 litres vegetable oil
    • 350g golden caster sugar
    • 50g Demerara sugar
    • 2 tsp mixed spice
    • Pinch of ground cloves (optional)
    • Pinch of extra cinnamon
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
    • 1 tub fresh vanilla custard (not long life)
    • 2 tbsp M&S Christmas cake curd

    METHOD

    I find it easier to use a stand mixer with a dough hook to mix up this dough since I can’t be bothered to knead dough for 5 minutes and ruin my nails. However you can just use a spoon to get it combined then knead it vigorously for 5-6 minutes on a lightly floured surface. 

    1. Measure out all your doughnut ingredients that I’ve listed above in the top list and whack them all in you stand mixer bowl and let it knead away with your dough hook attachment for 5-6 minutes. After this time it should have formed a ball and will look visibly smoother and when you pull it off the hook it will feel very elastic and bouncy. If you’re kneading by hand and it’s not quite elastic enough, persevere until it does. 
    2. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with cling film and then a tea towel and leave in a dry warm place to prove for an hour until it has doubled in volume.
    3. Then make little golf ball size shapes with your dough, ensuring it is tightly rolled, and place them on a floured tray with lots of space inbetween each one. Now cover with a tea towel and prove again for about half an hour until they have puffed up.                    
    4. Now forget about the dough balls for now and concentrate on mixing your sugar, and custard filling. Measure out your golden caster sugar, Demerara sugar and spices of choice from the list above and mix them well in a shallow bowl.
    5. In a separate bowl pour out your custard and use a fork to mix in the Christmas cake curd well until there are no lumps.
    6. Next heat up your oil to 160-165 degrees celcius. Or if you don’t have a temperature probe just drop a small piece of dough in, and if it bubbles around the edge but doesn’t fizz rapidly then it’s good to go. If it’s fizzing, it’s too hot.
    7. Now fry your doughnuts in small batches for 2-3 minutes on either side. Then, working quite quickly, toss them in your spiced sugar to ensure it sticks. Then let them cool slightly before filling. 
    8. Then use a chopstick to puncture a hole in each of your doughnuts and wiggle it around to make room for lots of custard. Now fill a piping bag with your custard and fill each one.
    9. Plate them up and scoff them all before anyone else finds them.

    The December Project – Christmas Cake Curd

    Christmas Cake what now?! Thank you, yes I am aware that the title of this post sounds positively weird and like it belongs on Heston’s shopping list.

    So when I saw it staring back at me from the shelves of M&S and thought of how odd it sounds and how bizarre a person must’ve thought this up, naturally I had to buy it. When I got home I had it on  a toasted hot cross bun which was fantastic but I felt as if I wasn’t using this weird and wonderful jar of goodness to its full potential. And so arose the second half of my December project.

    Besides talking about the beauty advent calendars I’ve mentioned before, I’ll be doing at least one recipe for each week in December which I’ve enriched with the Christmas Cake Curd. I’ve got some wicked plans for the half of the December Project and can’t wait to share them!

    Can I give you a clue as to what you’ll expect on week one’s recipe I hear you ask. i’ll give you three words.

    Mince, pie and cake.

    Make of those what you will.