30.11

Cider-with-Rosie-Cadburys-cocoa-life-11

In the weeks leading up to Arlo’s arrival, to say I went into nesting mode is a slight understatement. Our house has never been so clean and organised- every spare minute I had was spent mopping floors, cleaning skirting boards, vacuuming carpets, and tidying Ottie’s toys to within an inch of their lives. Trips to Tesco for new cleaning products became a fun jaunt for me (I’m being deadly serious), and I had such strong aversions to certain cleaning product scents that I was genuinely upset with Jason when he bought the Wrong Kind of Washing Up Liquid.

Of course, that’s all died away ever so slightly now that I’ve got my hands full of newborn! And with two dogs in the house who seem to shed mud and hair with every step they take, you’d never know a very pregnant cleaning-obsessed woman was present in this house just a couple of weeks ago…

But the one thing I am so grateful to my past self for is the effort I made in filling our fridge, freezer, and cupboards with delicious food to enjoy in the first couple of weeks post-partum. There was a courgette and lemon cake stashed away in the freezer to serve when our parents came to meet our sweet baby boy, portions of garlicky courgette and tomato sauce frozen ready to be tossed together with pasta for easy dinners, and I kept our cupboards stocked full of tasty snack food and sweet treats to keep our energy and spirits up in these energy sapping early days!
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Perhaps the best thing I prepared in advance was cookie dough mixture for the Best Cookies in the World, made with the chocolate of my childhood- Cadbury’s Dairy Milk!

The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed a slight change to wrappers of Cadbury’s chocolate lately, in the form of a new logo marked ‘Cocoa Life’. The Cocoa Life programme is Cadbury’s new venture to support and give back to the communities who grow the cocoa from which their delicious chocolate products are made.

Cadbury’s are aiming to create positive change for their growers and their communities, which I think is a brilliant thing. They’re keen to encourage quality education for young people, protect the landscape in which their delicious cocoa grows, and improve farming methods too.

The good that comes out of the programme- including treating farmers fairly and ensuring they have an excellent quality of life- makes me feel happy every time I buy Cadbury’s chocolate, which is why it’s such a pleasure to partner with them in this post!

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The recipe for these delicious cookies came via my friend Lucie, the kind of friend everyone should have who never fails to have some delicious baked treat ready and waiting when you visit. We met met on our NCT course and quickly discovered that we lived just two roads apart, and the first time I ever tried these particular cookies was when our older two babies (born 3 days apart, and our second two are less than a month apart!) were around 8 months old. We ate them whilst the babes got stuck into a sensory tray of jelly in the garden, and I’ve never forgotten how delicious they were!

And so with the idea in mind of having a batch of warm, freshly baked cookies ready and waiting for me in the hours after I’d given birth to our new baby, I got to work. I weighed out and mixed up dry ingredients, stashed the mixture away in the cupboard, and made sure that our kitchen was never without a bar or two of the chocolate

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And cookies have never tasted better than these ones did, whipped up and baked by Jason when we got back home from hospital just a few hours after our beautiful boy had arrived into the world. It was cold and blowing a gale as we left hospital late that afternoon, and getting back home to our warm, cosy house and then curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea and warm, meltingly soft chocolate cookies was just bliss. Thank you Cadbury’s, for the best cookies I’ve ever eaten.

Makes 9-10 perfect chocolate cookies:

Ingredients:
110g butter
200g soft light brown sugar
1 egg
1 capful vanilla extract
Pinch salt
165g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
30g Bournville cocoa powder

200g Cadburys Dairy Milk chocolate

- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

- Cream together the butter and sugar, then mix in the egg and vanilla extract.

- Add in the flour, baking powder and bicarb, and cocoa powder, and mix to combine. Add in the chocolate (chopped into smallish chunks), and stir again to evenly distribute into the dough.

- Roll into balls, and either bake immediately for 10-12 minutes (until the edges are just beginning to set), or put into the fridge or freezer to be cooked at a later date.

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The tastiest cookies ever, whether you happen to be eating them a few hours post-birth, or simply because it’s a day ending with a y. And with the feel good factor too, thanks to Cadbury’s Cocoa Life scheme. What could be better?

~ This post was sponsored by Cadbury’s. Thank you supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible! ~

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06.07

Cider-with-Rosie-homemade-bread-recipe-15 Cider-with-Rosie-homemade-bread-recipe

A   R E C I P E  .

One of my intentions for this summer has been to make more bread. Of course bread is, in my opinion, one of the easiest, tastiest, and most rewarding things you can make yourself at home, but setting that simple joy aside, I had just got sick of buying bread wrapped in plastic.

This year I’ve been on a mission to reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste our household produces, and I’m currently writing up a post all about the small changes I’ve made so far that’ve been a success for us as a family. I’ve found it so frustrating seeing how the vast majority of bread in the supermarket is wrapped in non-recyclable packaging, and figured I’d have a go at getting into a routine of making bread myself in an effort to cut down on that element of waste.

Surprisingly, it’s been such an easy change! I actually find bread to be such a low-input bake- aside from the initial 15 minutes or so of mixing and kneading, it’s all about  r e s t !

And that I can get on board with!

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I’m going to share with you now the honest truth behind these photos, which is that I was so busy making sure I got this shot of water pouring into the bowl completely in focus, I actually forgot to monitor the amount of water going into the bowl and so totally overdid it!

But it just goes to show how adaptable and imprecise bread-making can be, because I just heaped in a load more flour to bring the mix back to a kneadable consistency and added in a pinch more yeast, and all was well!

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I always abide by the ratio of 10% yeast, 20% salt when making my bread, as I find it gives the tastiest results. So, for 500 grams of strong white bread flour you’d add 5g yeast (I used dried fast action yeast) and 10g of salt. Generally I do 1kg flour, 10g yeast and 20g salt for a really big loaf that keeps us in toast for the best part of the week!

The downsides? Being made without preservatives and softeners and whatever else is added to sliced bread, it won’t keep soft for all that long, and so isn’t all that great for sandwiches beyond for the first 24-48 hours. We don’t really tend to eat sandwiches very often, but if we did, I’d probably go for making a smaller loaf more regularly that will keep fresh and be used up more quickly.

Amazingly though, no matter how tough it seems after a few days post-baking, it always toasts up to the most incredible texture!

And spread with some a slick of butter and some jam? It’s the most delicious breakfast imaginable.

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So, to the recipe…

I N G R E D I E N T S :

1 kilo strong white bread flour
10 grams fast action dried yeast
20 grams salt

M E T H O D :

1. Tip the flour into a large bowl, and add the yeast to one side of the flour and the salt to the other. I’ve read that if the salt and yeast mix straight off then it can kill the yeast, so it’s best to put them in separately.

2. Get a jug of warm water (it should be about body temperature, warm but not hot), and slowly pour the water in whilst mixing with your hand. When the dough has formed to a soft, sticky but not wet consistency, stop pouring! It will be of a consistency where it’ll stick to your hands, but don’t be tempted to add in lots more flour. A sticky dough makes delicious bread!

4. Stretch, pull, squidge, and work the dough between your hands along the work top, for at least 10 minutes or so. It’ll begin to homogenise and gradually stop being sticky, coming together to form a smooth, springy ball of dough. To check if the dough is ready for proving, poke it lightly with your finger- the dough should spring straight back out again. Stretch the dough out a little and pinch the edges together underneath to form a tight ball with a smooth top- this will help the rise!

5. Put the dough back into your mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel, and leave somewhere warm to rise. I find I usually give mine about an hour and a half to rise, but check it after an hour- it should have doubled in size and filled the bowl!

6. Press all the air out of the dough gently with your hands, and then form it back into a smooth ball. The dough should feel much lighter now, a sign of the lovely airy bread it’s to become!

7. Shape the dough into whatever takes your fancy and transfer it to a well-floured baking tray (you can leave it as a a round as I’ve done here, form little rolls, pop it into a loaf tin…) and then cover and leave to prove for another half hour.

8. Dust the top with top with flour, carefully cut a couple of shallow slashes into the dough to control its rise during baking, and put into an oven preheated to 200 degrees. I always add a small dish of water into the bottom of the oven at this stage to help create stream, which bread likes whilst baking!

9. My loaves always are done after about 1 hour, but check it after 50 minutes or so. When cooked, the top will be golden brown and the base will have a lovely hollow sound when tapped.

10. Resist the urge to slice is straight away! Let the steam inside cool for a good hour or so first, and then dig in!

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I can’t say I’m any great expert at bread making, but I hope that how relatively imprecise the recipe and method I’ve shared here is shows how adaptable and relatively failsafe bread making is!

And that first slice of warm, crusty bread will make it all so very worth it.

Let me know how the recipe works for you, if you give it a go!

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24.02

Cider-with-Rosie-cheese-scones-8

F L O U R ,   M I L K ,   B U T T E R ,  C H E E S E .

There are a few dishes that, whilst cooking, bring me right back to my childhood.

Cooking apples simmering in a pan with sugar and butter. A thick slab of gammon boiling away in a stock pot with vegetables and barley. Fragrant ginger biscuits, trays of fruity and gently spiced bread pudding, rock cakes in paper cases with their currants and sultanas always catching ever so slightly in the heat.

And, of course, the comforting, homely smell of cheese scones rising tall in a hot oven.

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There’s a real knack to scone making, if you ask me.

I’ll never make them as well as my Grandma used to, but every time I try, I learn a little something.

To handle the dough softly, not to press it hard or roll it too thin whilst shaping and rolling, and that the craggier it is at that stage, the lighter and more aerated they’ll be when finished with their baking.

I find they’re more challenging to make than simple bread or biscuits or cakes- the dough seems to ask for almost the same lightness of touch as pastry, though not quite to the same extent, I’m glad to say.

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But whilst I can’t quite say I’ve got the technique 100% perfect yet, the taste is most definitely there and is as nostalgic as ever.

If you’ve never split in half a scone (cheese, or otherwise) that’s fresh from the oven, and whilst the steam spirals from its centre, spread each half with a little butter before eating it right away, then you’ve been missing out.

This particular batch disappeared in a flash, eaten as ‘I’m hungry but not too hungry’ snacks, in the evening when ‘dinner wasn’t quite as filling as I thought it might be’, and all the times in between, because who ever needs a reason to eat a scone?

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The recipe is from my Grandma’s decades old Delia Smith cookbook and I’ve done very little with it other than tinker slightly with the cheese quantity, so the credit must go to Delia, really. Makes 8.

Ingredients ::
225g self raising flour
40g butter, at room temperature
150ml milk
85g mature cheddar
1/2tsp mustard powder
Pinch salt

- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius, and grease a baking tray.

- Sift the flour into a large bowl, and then lightly and quickly rub in the butter until the mixture has no large lumps, and has the clumpy texture of wet sand.

- Add in the grated cheese, salt and mustard powder, and stir together with the butter and flour mixture.

- Slowly pour in the milk a little at a time, stirring with a knife as you go. Bring the dough together with your hands, kneading it lightly until it forms a rough ball.

- Roll the dough out until it’s 1 inch thick, and then use a 2inch fluted cutter to cut out the scones. Place them on the greased baking tray, and bake for 12-14 minutes (mine were perfect after 12, 13 was a shade too long) until the tops are lightly golden and the bases sound hollow when tapped.

- Best served warm, with lashings of butter. Delicious.

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p.s. The butter knife, rolling pin, and milk jug all are hand-me-downs from my own beautiful Grandma, and the red gingham napkins are part of a set Jason’s Grandmother made us as a wedding gift. Family really is the very best, isn’t it?

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Posted in BAKING, FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, RECIPE, SAVOURY

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08.12

Cider-with-Rosie-Panettone-French-toast-10

T H E   U L T I M A T E   F E S T I V E   B R E A K F A S T

Would it be presumptuous of me to say that this recipe could just be the answer to all your Christmas morning dreams? It would be, wouldn’t it…

Instead, let me say this- forget scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, or crumpets and toast, or even a Full English- this panettone french toast is what Jason and I will be eating at approximately 8.30am on the 25th of December this year.

And that’s a fact!

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Panettone French toast really is the most festive breakfast imaginable- Christmas on a plate, you might say!

Thickly cut slices of sweet, fruit-flecked panettone are soaked in a cinnamon and vanilla infused egg mixture, then gently fried in butter until golden and fluffy.

The slightly dry cake becomes soft and pudding-like when cooked up French-toast style, and the addition of a little cinnamon to the proceedings adds a little ‘spice’ to balance out all that sweet.

And, what’s *most* important to know, is that the recipe is simplicity itself! Have I convinced you yet?

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Jason and I always pick up a panettone whilst buying our Christmas tree each year, to be eaten over the course of that happily festive day.

But now that this recipe’s become such a household favourite?

I think we might need to start buying more than just one…

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The ingredients as below produce 4 halved slices of French toast- enough to serve two people. The recipe is easy to multiply though- for every portion of French toast (i.e. 1 round slice, or 2 halved slices of panettone), you’ll need 1 egg, 40ml of milk, and 1.8th tsp each ground cinnamon and vanilla extract.

Ingredients ::
2 thick round slices of shop-bought Italian panettone
2 eggs
80ml, or 1/3 cup semi-skimmed milk
1/4tsp ground cinnamon
1/4tsp vanilla extract
Jam/fruit compote/syrup/icing sugar to serve.

- Take a good quality shop-bought Italian panettone, and cut two 1inch round slices- one slice per person.

- In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Don’t worry if the cinnamon is a little lumpy- it won’t matter a bit!

- Soak the panettone in the egg mixture one slice at a time, until between the two slices, pretty much all of the egg mixture has been absorbed.

- Heat a small knob of a butter in a large non-stick frying pan, then gently fry each slice of panettone in turn for a minute or two per side, until puffy and slightly browned.

{If you’re cooking for more than a couple of people, you might like to put the cooked French toast in a low oven to keep warm whilst you finish frying.}

- Cut each slice of French toast in half, and then serve with a dusting of icing sugar, a drizzle of your favourite syrup (I used golden syrup here, but maple, agave, or even honey would be just as lovely), and a spoonful of something fruity.

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Buon appetito, bon appetit, and…happy eating!

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Posted in BAKING, BREAKFAST, CHRISTMAS, FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, RECIPE, SWEET

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