Almond Caramel Apple Shortcakes

Today’s post is proudly inspired by Mary Berry.


If you’ve never heard of her, firstly, do you live under a rock? Secondly, I’d like you to Google the Great British Bake-Off. I’ll give you a moment to catch up with the rest of the world before coming back to this post. Are we all on the same page now? Good, let’s continue.



Last week my mum and I were watching her cooking show, Mary Berry Cooks, this particular episode being about summer entertaining and afternoon tea. In case you missed it: last week I hosted a Wimbledon afternoon tea party that included this cake. I opted to make one large strawberry shortcake but Mary Berry chose to make several smaller scones to make serving (and thus eating and clean-up) easier. As someone who had heaps of cream dropped over the table, chairs and floor next week, I can testify that making individual shortcakes is a superior method- plus they still look just as appetising.




I paid tribute to Wimbledon with the classic strawberries and cream last week, so I decided that this week would belong to a different combination- apples, cinnamon and caramel. Trust me, it will not disappoint you.



What are some of your favourite flavour combinations? I’m looking to be more adventurous in my recipe testing and I’d love to hear from some of you!

Almond Caramel Apple Shortcakes

Ingredients

For the scones:

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar + extra for dusting the scones
  • 2 tsp baking powder*
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (8 tbsp) cold butter, grated like cheese or cut into small cubes
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, cold
  • 1 egg (optional, the recipe still works well without it)
  • a handful of crushed slivered almonds, optional

For the apples:

  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, sliced thinly
  • 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup whipped cream
  • 2 tsp icing sugar, optional

For the caramel sauce: 

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp fresh cream
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Start by baking the scones. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350F°. Grease a large rimless baking sheet and like with parchment paper.
  2. Sieve the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and toss to combine. Add the butter to the dry mixture and use our hands to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a dry coarse sand.
  3. Whisk the buttermilk and egg (if using)  together in a large measuring cup or a small bowl, making sure there are no streaks of egg yolk remaining. Reserve about a tablespoon of this mixture for brushing the scones.
  4. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Be careful not to overmix. The dough should be slightly wet but not so much that it is sticking to your hands. If the dough is too wet then add flour, one tablespoon at a time until it holds together.
  5. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and use your hands to press it into a large circle, about 2 cm/¾ inch thick. Use a cookie cutter or a small glass to cut the dough into scones. Gather any remaining scraps of dough and mould them together to make one huge scone.
  6. Add the cut scones and your scrap-scone to the prepared baking sheet. Brush with the reserved egg/buttermilk mixture before topping with the granulated sugar and almonds. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are just starting to turn golden brown. Allow to cool at room temperature before serving.

Prepare the filling:

  1. Whilst the scones are baking, core the apples and cut into thin slices. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon. Toss with the apples, making sure to coat them in the lemon juice. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Prepare the caramel. Add the brown sugar to a small saucepan on medium-low heat. Allow the sugar to melt, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula to prevent it from burning. Once the sugar has melted completely and you have a smooth dark brown liquid, pour in the fresh cream. The mixture will sputter and spurt and that’s okay. Cut the butter into the hot brown sugar and stir until it’s completely melted. You should have a smooth, golden brown caramel. Stir in the vanilla essence and a pinch of salt, if desired.
  3. Once the scones have cooled, cut them in half. Layer first with sliced apple, followed by whipped cream and finally topping with warm caramel. If desired, you may dust with icing sugar. Enjoy!
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A Complete Guide To Maximising Your Homemade Pizza Experience

Buckle up kids, we’re about to go on a journey. Let me set the scene for you. It’s one of those summer days that feels like it’s going to last forever, the golden heat doesn’t make you hiss and recede into the shade but is just enough to warm your skin and make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. It’s one of those days when you’d like to sit back and relax by the pool with your family. Just as the sun starts to fade into the horizon, you retreat to your kitchen and start to think about what will satiate your tastebuds; what you could possibly throw together that will put the cherry on top of this glorious day.


That’s when it hits you: homemade pizza. It requires minimal effort, will make everyone at the table happy and is the perfect excuse to add heaps of mozzarella to a dish! Unfortunately, we’ve all had the cooking mishap where the crust comes out soggy, the toppings aren’t quite done or it just lacks the pizzazz that you were expecting.

Lucky for you, I’ve finally cracked the code to achieving the ultimate homemade pizza every single time. Today, I am sharing the secrets with you! So get your apron and rolling pin ready because we’re about to get into this dough.

The Crust

This is the vessel that will deliver your toppings to the dinner table. You could just buy any old frozen dough from the supermarket but that’s not how we do things around here. I find that storebought crusts bake much faster than the toppings and are either grossly underdone and soggy or are burnt and inedible. No my friend, if we’re going to do things the right way then we’re going to make our pizza dough from scratch.

‘But isn’t that time consuming?’ you lament. Homemade pizza dough only requires 15 minutes of hands-on time – even less if you have a stand mixer.

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I always use my trusty recipe for homemade pizza dough, and it makes enough dough for 2 pizzas, so you can freeze one and defrost it whenever you get the pizza craving. In fact, that’s what I usually do and it is the most convenient thing on this planet. You never know when you’ll feel the irresistible desire to have hot cheese in your belly, but I promise you that the day will come. When it does, you will be overcome with gratitude that you made an extra pizza dough. That doesn’t nearly compare to the disappointment you feel when you thought that you had an extra pizza dough lying around and realise that you used it last week. #oops.

Alas, homemade pizza dough isn’t the only hurdle you need to jump over to attain that perfect golden crust. one must also consider their toppings. If you overload your pizza then you are assured of a soggy crust. If you can’t help it and you need to pile your crust with spinach, avocado, mushrooms, pineapple, caramelised onions, olives, sweetcorn AND chickpeas (adds a nice crunch to pizza I must admit)- then you can alleviate the situation by cooking some of the toppings first. I normally don’t cook spinach before I add it to a pizza but I will briefly saute mushrooms, peppers or onions before adding them to a pizza. Toppings such as broccoli, chickpeas and eggplants would be better off roasted in the oven before going on top of a pizza.


Another strategy that I recently employed is to bake my pizza in a skillet. To see this tactic in action, head over to this recipe. The method is simple: heat a large skillet on the stove until it is sizzling. Dust the hot pan with cornflour and quickly toss the dough onto the hot skillet, making sure not to burn your fingers. Cook the dough for 2 minutes on the stove before adorning with your toppings. That’s simple enough, right?

The Crust- Part Two

There’s more to the crust than you thought. There are several ways to prepare a pizza dough, one doesn’t have to adhere to the standard yeasted dough technique. If you find yourself short of yeast then my homemade pizza dough recipe includes a yeast-less option though I have to tell you that it isn’t nearly as good as the yeasted version. There are other options out there!

For those of you who are gluten free, cauliflower crust is a viable option. It’s easy to prepare, even if you don’t have a blender then you can use a cheese grater to get the cauliflower down to mini-florets. This crust is perfect for those of us who are fans of super-thin crusts, it produces a beautiful thin crust that is golden, crunchy and all for a fraction of the calories! There a couple of drawbacks with the cauliflower crust- it is much easier to yield a soggy crust. To avoid this dilemma, you have to make sure to squeeze all the water out during preparation. You also can’t go topping crazy with this crust because of how thin it is. Overload the crust and the pizza will just fall apart in your hand. You have to exercise restraint with this one. Ready to give it a go? In the photo below, I made this Chickpea Cauliflower Crust Pizza by Tieghan over at Half Baked Harvest. It’s well worth a try!


Other options include a broccoli crust (similar to the cauliflower crust, the only difference is the colour which could potentially offset small children), chickpea crust and quinoa crust all of which I am yet to try. Another option would be to grab a piece of naan bread, spread some of the best pasta sauce on it, sprinkle some cheese and a couple of toppings before baking in the oven. Can we call it a pizza when it is technically a flatbread? Why yes, yes we can.

The Oven

Pizza is not baked in a 180°C oven. Pizza is not baked in an oven that you turned on 30 seconds before baking it. This is non-negotiable. If you have an open fireplace (lucky you) then you can can prepare yourself an authentic oven roasted pizza. The rest of us peasants will have to settle for preheating our ovens a full 30 minutes before baking the pizza, and setting the oven temperature to the highest setting- for me this is about 225°C/575°F. I know that all you conservative penny-wise readers out there are already whining about the electricity bill, but believe me, you will not yield a golden crust with gooey cheese in a cold oven.


The oven has to turned on in advance to ensure that heat spreads to every corner of the oven, we want it to be at a relatively even temperature. On that note, try and keep your nosy hands from opening the oven several times whilst the pizza is baking. You want to keep the heat locked in for maximum crust crunchiness. The only time that your oven door should be open is to put the pizza in the oven- and that shouldn’t be more than 30 seconds. That is all! If you happen to be the proud owner of a pizza stone, this should be preheated at the same time as the oven. Watch your fingers!

The Sauce

Oh man, pizza is as much about the sauce as it is about the crust. If the crust is the vessel then the sauce is the captain. Sure if the vessel is strong enough then that may be good enough to disguise a bad captain but there’s not much in the way that can save a sauce that’s too acidic, too spicy or just lacklustre in nature. The sauce is what taints the flavour of the toppings. No amount of cheese could remedy this situation. My go-to pizza sauce is also my go-to pasta sauce because everybody loves versatile options! Great sauces include barbecue sauce, any sort of pesto and Bechamel sauce.


The Cheese

Mozzarella will never not be good on pizza. If you’d like to stray from the safe zone then there are other cheeses waiting with open arms! I’ve used ricotta before and combined it with a killer balsamic reduction to give you this delectable pizza. Burrata, provolone and white cheddar are also really good on cheese.

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Ricotta White Cheese Pizza with Balsamic Honey Reduction
Another thing I’ve grown to love this year is huge puddles of gooey cheese on pizza. Can’t get enough of them. To achieve this, cheese is sliced thinly, rather than grated and is layered on top of the crust before baking. Heaven, I tell you, heaven.

Now that you know all my pizza making tips, go forth into the world and enjoy your pizza! Is there anything I missed? Let me know in the comments! I’m always looking to gather information from different sources and I’d love to hear what you think makes a great homemade pizza! Until next time loves,

x Andy

Coconut Mango Sorbet

The only thing missing here is sitting poolside at a 5 star hotel in Bora Bora. GOALS.


It’s the middle of summer here in Zimbabwe, and saying that it’s hot outside has become an understatement. The climate here is predominantly savannah, so the long summer days are plagued by dry heat and occasionally violent thunderstorms. In other words, it’s my favourite time of year.

My favourite things about summer include going for early morning runs, when the birds sing the songs of their people to bring in the day. It also happens to be mating season so all creatures great and small are displaying their vocal prowess in the hopes of attracting a mate. From the humble toad to the crafty locust, there is never a quiet moment in my garden. The heavy rains have transformed my neighbourhood into a lush green wetland, and the views just take my breath away. Now that I think about it, I wouldn’t trade Harare for Bora Bora, even if you paid me.


I’ll sit back, relax and enjoy my mango sorbet poolside at my 5 star residence in Zimbabwe.

Coconut Mango Sorbet

Ingredients

¾ cup water

¾cup granulated sugar

3 large mangoes, deseeded and cut into ½ inch cubes

1 cup coconut milk

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil to make a simple syrup. Once boiled, remove to a bowl and refrigerate for an hour.
  2. Once the syrup has cooled, add the simple syrup, mango and coconut milk to a blender and pulse until fully combined. Pour into a loaf pan and freeze overnight.
  3. When ready to serve, remove from the freezer and let stand at least 10 minutes before attempting to scoop. Sit by the pool and enjoy!

 

There’s an even better way to enjoy this sorbet, and it’s with a cool glass of bubbly. Check out this recipe for Peach Mango Sorbet Floats

Peach Strawberry Iced Tea

In case you haven’t noticed yet, strawberries are my favourite fruit. They’re available all year round, affordable, small and easy to grab on the go, affordable, deliciously juicy and sweet, easily adapted into any recipe and did I mention, AFFORDABLE?! Blueberries are just as wonderful but at $5 a pound, they’re a fruit that was not made for the poor man. 


Peach Strawberry Iced Tea

Ingredients

3 cups water + 3 Green tea bags

1 cup sugar

1 cup cold water

2 large peaches, sliced into wedges + another peach for serving

1 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered + another 6 strawberries, halved for serving

mint leaves/rosemary sprigs for garnish

Method

  1. Start by bringing the 3 cups of water to rolling boil before adding the teabags and allowing it to steep. After 4 minutes, discard the tea bags and refrigerate the tea for about an hour or until cold.
  2. Add the sugar and 1 cup of water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil to make a simple syrup. Add the chopped peaches and strawberries and allow to boil for 5 minutes. Strain the syrup into a jug to remove any fruit pieces and leave in the fridge to cool, about an hour.
  3. To assemble, add a couple of ice blocks to a 3 quart/3 litre pitcher followed by a couple of peach slices and halved strawberries. Top with chilled tea followed by the fruit infused syrup. Stir with a long handle spoon until incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with mint and rosemary when serving.

 

 

Rainbow Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs

I think I’ve said this about a bajillion times in the past month but SUMMER IS COMING. And what screams summer more than kebabs on the barbie on a Saturday afternoon? I’m no stranger to kebab grilling, my very first post on the blog was Lemon, Garlic & Herb Chicken Kebabs.

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There’s just something about being able to tear into chicken with your hands that makes me so happy. All the etiquette rules go out the window and you can be as wild as you want. The meat is incredibly tender and the flavour combination of sweet pineapple and spicy chicken is absolutely gorgeous and just ties everything together.

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Fun fact: if you’ve ever wondered why your mouth feels weird whilst eating pineapple, it’s because pineapples contain an enzyme known as bromelain which is able to digest the proteins in the skin on the inside of your mouth as well as your tongue. Talk about food biting back!

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This recipe makes for a great outdoor barbecue, when you’ve got friends or family over. For those lazy Sunday afternoons, you can throw together a summery punch (try this Zingy Strawberry Lemonade) toss these on a hot barbecue and just kick back and enjoy yourself. Bon appetit and happy grilling season!

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Rainbow Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs                                                               makes 12 kebabs

Ingredients

For the chicken:

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into 1 inch cubes

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp oregano

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp Dijon mustard

For the kebabs: 

1 whole green capsicum, chopped into ½ inch squares

½ pineapple, chopped into 1 inch cubes

1 large red onion, chopped into ½ inch squares

12 6-inch bamboo skewers

Method

  1. Heat the grill/broiler and adjust your rack to the top tray. Alternatively, you could also preheat your oven to 375°C. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil.
  2. Add all the ingredients for the chicken to a medium bowl and mix well to ensure all the chicken is coated in the spice mixture. Let sit for at least 10 minutes or even leave in the fridge overnight.
  3. When ready to assemble, start by skewering the chicken followed by the red onion, pineapple, green pepper and finally another piece of chicken. Repeat until you reach the end of the skewer. Add the skewer to the foil-lined baking tray. Keep going until you’ve used up all the skewers. If you run out of any one of the pineapple, green pepper or red onion, then it’s totally okay for you to layer 3 pieces of another component on e.g. 2 red onion pieces, chicken, pineapple cube, 2 red onion pieces
  4. Grill the kebabs for 15 minutes before turning over and grilling for another 10 minutes. If desired, you can baste the kebabs with barbecue sauce in the last 5 minutes of grilling. I personally prefer my kebabs without it. Serve immediately with ranch dressing and sweet chilli sauce on the side!

 

 

Salted Caramel Iced Coffee

Coffee – the only reason why anyone ever gets up in the morning. My morning routine usually finds me reaching for a cup of black coffee to calm my nerves, and lately I have just been looking for a way to make it a little more interesting. Enter iced coffee. My first experience with iced coffee was terrible. I was honestly convinced I would never try it again. It was like 90% water, 5% coffee and 5% sugar. Gross. Needless to say, I haven’t ordered it since.

 

I had all but closed the chapter on iced coffee until I came across this beautiful photo of iced coffee taken by Amy Johnson. I was then convinced that I had to give iced coffee a second chance. I decided to do a few things differently this time, such as freezing brewed coffee to make ice cubes so that I didn’t end up with another situation of super watery coffee-like drink. I decided to shake things up a bit by bringing the salted caramel flavour into the mix. Ain’t no syrup like a homemade syrup.


And guys, I know this looks like a lot of unnecessary work for a drink but I PROMISE that this is worth every minute you spend in the kitchen. That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to cut corners and just buy a bottle of caramel syrup on your next trip to the grocery store. I’m not at all saying you can’t do that. I’ll even turn away whilst you do it.


I was not at all disappointed when I eventually got round to making this. The flavour pallet is absolutely insane. Rich earthy caffeine undertones. Sharp sweet butterscotch taste. Ice cold and refreshing, this is one of those drinks that hits the back of your throat and you just die internally of happiness.

Salted Caramel Iced Coffee

Ingredients 

Chocolate coffee ice cubes:

1 cup brewed coffee, either instant or French press

2 tbsp cocoa powder

½ tsp vanilla essence

Iced Coffee: 

1 cup ground coffee beans or instant coffee

1 tsp ground cinnamon

a pinch of sea salt

7 cups cold/room temperature water

Salted Caramel Sauce: 

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup fresh cream

4 tbsp butter, cut into cubes

1 tsp vanilla essence

pinch of sea salt

Salted caramel syrup: 

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup water

3 tbsp salted caramel sauce 

Method

Make the chocolate coffee ice cubes:

Combine all the ingredients for the chocolate coffee cubes in a jug and stir well. Pour into moulds and freeze at least 2 hours.


Make the iced coffee:

Add the ground coffee, cinnamon and salt to a large pitcher and top with the water. Stir well and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or overnight. Strain the coffee into a large jug to remove the grounds from the mixture. If using instant coffee, you won’t need to refrigerate the coffee for as long, 2 hours at the least.

Make the salted caramel sauce:

Add the brown sugar, butter and fresh cream to a saucepan over medium heat and warm together, stirring constantly until combined and is a deep golden colour. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla essence and salt. Store in glass jar and refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be kept sealed airtight in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and reheated in the microwave when needed.

Make the salted caramel syrup: 

Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of the caramel sauce you just made. Transfer to a glass jar and let cool in the fridge. Can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

*ASSEMBLY:

  1. Start by preparing the glasses you’re going to serve this in by drizzling the leftover salted caramel sauce on the inside of the glasses to create a pattern. Freeze the glasses for about 10 minutes for the caramel to set.
  2. Once the glasses are ready, add 2-3 of the chocolate coffee ice cubes to the glass and pour the chilled coffee over. Add a tablespoon of the salted caramel syrup and stir with a long handle spoon. Serve immediately, with more salted caramel syrup and milk. You can even add condensed milk or maple syrup if you would like it sweeter.

*If you’re rushing to get to work/school in the morning, there’s no need to decorate anything; you can just add the chocolate coffee ice cubes to a flask before pouring the chilled coffee and caramel syrup over and stirring.


 This is a great way to start any morning.

 

Zingy Strawberry Lemonade

Summer is in sight!

Living in Zimbabwe means that it’s technically summer all year round. We have 2 seasons: the rainy season and the not rainy season. Averaging 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s always hot here. Now that has its pros and cons.

Pro: Bikinis all year round! Con: Have to work on summer body all year round

Pro: Beautiful weather from January to December Con: School will never be cancelled due to a snow day

Pro: Ice cream time all the time! Con: Insects from all walks of life want to share your ice cream.

If having hot weather all year round means I get to drink this delicious lemonade all day err’ day then I’ll take that over anything anyday. As our supreme queen Beyonce has shown, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.


Speaking of lemons, I climbed a tree this week! To get lemons for this recipe!! And then I pulled a muscle because I haven’t been outside in a really really REALLY long time. I blame the lemons for deciding to grow right at the top of the tree. 

Lifehack: freeze fruit in ice cubes with lemonade so that when the ice cubes melt in your drink, they don’t dilute your drink. If you’re me and short on time, then you’ll cheat and use store-bought lemonade for your ice cubes. If you do have time though, use some of the homemade lemonade to make the ice cubes. I promise that your guests will think that it is so worth it.


Strawberry Lemonade

Ingredients

2 cups granulated sugar

2 cups cold water

250 grams or 2 cups strawberries

1 ½ cups lemon juice (juice of 6 large lemons)

roughly 2 cups water

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water over low heat to make a simple syrup. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until cold.
  2. In a blender, blitz the strawberries until completely puréed. In a large pitcher, add the puréed strawberries followed by the lemon juice and the simple syrup. Top up with the water and taste. If too sweet, add more water to dilute. Serve cold with lemonade ice cubes, sliced lemons and strawberries. 

Fun fact: I uploaded my first YouTube video this week 📺 I’d love for you to check it out!  And all my food preparation goes down on Snapchat, so you can add me there (andym_xxx) if you want to get more behind the scenes shots 🤓