Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Tweaked English Scones - with Peanut Butter!

I have been having a bit of an experimenting day in the kitchen today...

I wanted to make scones, but not my usual plain sweet or cheesy ones, and so while having a bit of a google on the 'net for new and interesting ideas I kept coming across recipes for peanut butter scones...

hmmmmmm??!!!!....now there's something that I really like...PEANUT BUTTER oh my, oh yes, oh yum! the thought of PB scones rather set the taste buds going!

On closer inspection of a few sites (and dutifully saved to Pinterest of course) I noticed that they were all for American style scones...and required more ingredients, including using eggs....and more often than not, chocolate (match made in heaven...so pretty obvious I guess).

So, nothing wrong with that....American style scones are VERY tasty...but the lack of English style recipes for scones with peanut butter got me wondering if it was actually possible to make them the English way....

...and there was only one way to find out....

just try it and see!

I took my tried and trusted recipe for English Sweet Scones and tweaked it just a little bit by adding some wholemeal flour and rolled oats into the mix (just to take the edge off the white stuff and add a bit more texture), and reducing the sugar content (assuming the PB would add some but not all the sweetness) and I stuck to normal milk rather than yoghurt or buttermilk for the liquid part (purely due to the fact I had neither in stock...but they would work equally well) I also opted to leave out chocolate...just so I could get an idea of what the plain PB scone would taste like.

Making up the mix was pretty simple....I just made the standard dry crumb mix first before adding the peanut butter, which I warmed slightly in the microwave to loosen it up a bit, then re-crumbed it again and then stirred in the milk to get the final dough. My ingredients list calls for approx. 1/4 pint of milk and I advise you add it slowly and gradually - depending on how much PB you use, and the flour type (not all flour is equal and has different absorption rates), so you may not need it all...or you may need more.  Mix it all gently and stop working it the moment it has all come together and formed a soft dough. It's crucial not to over knead scone dough...it's not like making bread and you do not want to activate too much gluten in the flour by kneading or you'll end up with dense heavy scones. Sometimes I form my dough into one large round and then cut into triangular segments, sometimes I use a round cutter...in this instance I went for a round 2&5/8ths inch plain round cutter and it yielded eight scones...oh, and one thing that I NEVER do, is to roll out the dough with a pin...I gently form and pat out with my hands because again, going back to what I said about mixing it, you don't want to over work it or it will become heavy...and I feel a rolling pin can often do that. I like a hands on approach so I can feel the texture and know when it's right. I pat it out to approx. 2 inch thickness...purely because that's how we like our scones - deep (after the added rising during cooking) with a good balance of soft fluffy inner and crispy crust outer.

So, a quick brush with a milk glaze over the top and they went in the oven and I sat in anticipation, watching as they slowly rose and lightly browned.

and the verdict?

Well, I have to say I was very please with the outcome.

The combination of the wholemeal flour and the oats gave a slightly nutty background to the scone.... and the peanut butter was there but not overpoweringly so. In all, the scone seemed more malty flavoured than anything and not overly sweet, which seemed quite strange...but pleasant....and as my 'NON peanut butter loving' other half scoffed back a couple and said they were very tasty and a success, I guess that was fine...in fact I think they make a perfect base for splitting and slathering with a spread such as chocolate. I tried one with sliced banana and a drizzle of honey and can happily give this combo a big thumbs up.

I also think this recipe could be tweaked to suit tastes....maybe add more wholemeal flour for a denser dough, maybe add more peanut butter for a real nutty kick...or even try crunchy version for real texture and bite...and don't forget to try chucking in some dark chocolate chips for a classic combo.

So here's the recipe I went for....give it a whirl...see what you think...tweak it if you think it needs it!

  • 5oz Plain white flour
  • 3oz Wholemeal flour
  • 1oz rolled oats
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2oz cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 generous dessert spoons of smooth peanut butter
  • approx 1/4 pint milk you may need more/or less, plus some required for glazing.
Preheat oven to 220oC (200oC if using fan oven)

Combine the flour, oats, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl, add the butter and rub in with the fingers to form a rough crumb, stir in the sugar. Slightly warm the peanut butter in a microwave to loosen the texture a little and pour into the crumb mix, stir in. You'll probably find it will clump together so then use fingers to break it up and re-crumb the mix gently again. Start adding the milk, a bit at a time, stirring in until it all comes together, is combined and formed a soft dough. Tip out onto a work surface and gently shape with the hands. patting out to approx. 2 inch thickness. Shape as a round pattie and cut into 8 triangular wedges, or use a round cookie cutter to make the more traditional looking individual scones (makes approx. 8). Brush the tops with milk glaze and bake in oven for 12-15minutes until cooked through and lightly golden on top.

Serve warmed, split and spread with chocolate spread or sliced bananas and a dash of honey.


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A Rhubard Curd Tart...that wasn't tart at all!

I'm a few years in to growing rhubarb in one of my raised veg patches...to the point where things are growing so well my freezer is stuffed to the rafters with rhubarb and I'm basically giving it away left right and centre to any neighbour, relative and friend who'll eat it. I'm also becoming obsessed with finding new and different ways to cook and eat it...from savoury to sweet you name it, I'm googling for it and slowly working my way through a list....with the help of Pinterest of course, and my vast collection of cookery books.

We English are rather fond of our puddings...and a rhubarb crumble is a staple in our house...but there's only so much crumble a gal can eat...and where as it makes a welcome comforting dish during cold winter days (and where the pieces carefully frozen and stored in the freezer come into play)...during the early summer, when it's warm and the rhubarb is fresh and tender you find yourself wanting to make the most of it at it's best and freshest...but need something summery and lighter perhaps...

(although not necessarily lighter calorie wise...sigh)

After previous years experimenting in various preserving recipes for chutneys (photo above), I was looking at perhaps making a jam....(any way to store and preserve it is good by me) but most websites and my books suggest that this really only works well when using early tender and forced rhubarb stems...so this being the beginning of August with my plants mature, fat and ready to start wilting back, that didn't bode well on the jam front...

...and then, during a evening 'Pinteresting' I came across Rhubarb curd!

Hmmmm? Rhubarb Curd? Now that was something new for me. I was keen to give it a go.

The problem however, when searching for recipes on places like Pinterest, is that you can quite literally get bogged down with so many variations you aren't sure which way to turn and which one to try out so I pinned a few and took a closer look into them at what to do. I'm quite familiar with making lemon and lime curds...but wasn't sure how to prep the rhubarb (turns out there is more than one way). Firstly I settled on using a recipe from the good old tried and tested website BBCGoodFood, with a nice easy safe recipe to follow with little outlay and effort and a small yield of just two jars (so no mass of stuff to dispose of if all goes horribly wrong...oh me of little faith lol!) here's the link -


but one thing however did bother me. Their instructions called for the raw rhubarb to be run in a blender to create a pulp/juice...and I was not willing to do this and then have to deal with cleaning my blender (yes I was being a tad lazy that day) PLUS my rhubarb was mature and probably tougher than the usual forced stems (that they use) so I wasn't sure my blender was up to the task. So another scan of the pin board and I noticed another recipe by American food page The Kitchn -


Here, the instructions said to stew the rhubarb in a little water...and suggested this makes it sweeter...so that got me thinking....

Stew the rhubarb, but keep to the BBCGF recipe ingredients....and despite the fact the stewing would in effect have extra water in it, this would be counterbalanced by the added cornflour (in fact if you read the comments and ratings below, someone even advises adding extra cornflour to make the curd even thicker).

(As it turned out, I think stewing the rhubarb then giving it a further going over with my Bamix hand blender, pulverised the rhubarb very well and I extracted far more juice than was needed. I'm not convinced my food Blender would have done the job as well).

So, that was sorted and I set about my curd making. Here's the combo of the two above recipes -

RHUBARB CURD - (makes two jars)

  • 600g forced rhubarb, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped (yes it does call for forced rhubarb....but as it turned out my more mature stems were perfectly fine and I just chopped them up smaller so they'd break down quicker)
  •  a little water for stewing
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g butter, diced
  • 4 tsp cornflour
  • 175g caster sugar (I used vanilla pod infused unrefined golden castor sugar
    First prep/sterilise two regular sized jam jars.
    Place the rhubarb in a pan, barely cover with water, bring to a boil and then simmer until the stems become soft and pulpy. This might take approx. 20mins but depends on the size and thickness of the pieces. Remove from heat. If possible, use a hand blender to break the rhubarb down further (to enable you to extract as much juice as possible...then strain through a sieve, keeping the juice to make the curd. I use a plastic fine sieve over a bowl for sieving fruits, and push it through with a wooden spoon....I think using a metal sieve and utensils can often taint the fruit with a metallic taste. Set juice aside to cool.
    You can use the left over pulp for something else (it's great stirred into some yoghurt). After hitting my stewed rhubarb with my Bamix hand blender I managed to sieve out much more juice than is probably usually expected and only had 2 tablespoons of pulp left.
    Place the eggs, butter, cornflour, sugar, and 250ml of the rhubarb juice into a pan over a very low heat and whisk continuously until the butter has all melted and the ingredients have all incorporated. Then switch to using a wooden spoon and stir, again continuously over the very low heat until the curd thickens to about the consistency of custard. This may take some time....do not be tempted to turn up the heat, this will only curdle the eggs and turn it into a scrambled mess. Also keep an eye out to prevent it catching on the bottom and sides of the pan. Remove from the heat.
    Sieve a second time, into a clean bowl, to remove any lumps, stir in a further 100ml more of the reserved juice (optional)...and fill your prepped jam jars. Seal, cool and store in the fridge (for up to one week)
    So, here's my effort! Firstly, you can see the jug of left over juice in the background, over 100ml so that was jarred up to be used for a lemonade spritzer drink. But back to the curd...as you can see, the colour changed rather dramatically (and disappointingly) which I think is due to the lovely deep yellow free range eggs I used. So the deep salmon pink of the pulp dissipated into the egg sugar mix to became a rather insipid flesh colour...but hey ho...
    It was the taste that was important to me...
    Had to be good and patient to allow it to cool and with an overnighter in the fridge to thicken it up some more....then it was dive in with a spoon and give a verdict...
    ...and boy did it taste good!
    Not what I expected at all, the curd was creamy, smooth, velvety...not tart at all (real surprise considering it is rhubarb!) but not too sweet either and with a subtle buttery vanilla background. The consistency was soft, unlike the curds I'm used to making...and certainly no where near the gelatinous stuff they sell in the supermarkets. In my opinion, it's was very close to that of crème pat (only obviously rhubarb tasting)....
    divine...totally divine!
    If you like rhubarb, and you like making preserves and curds etc, then you really need to make some. Yes it has a short shelf life...but to be honest, once you taste it, that jar will empty quicker than you think lol!
    So, asides from just diving in and eating it straight of the spoon....I started to ponder over ways in which to use it. BBCGF page suggests slathering it on toast and crumpets...which I'm rather partial too with my lemon curds...
    ...but there was something about this one that seemed far too creamy and decadent to be partnered up with bread.
    It was crying out to be used in a dessert.
    So I thought, lets try a little pastry tart, filled with the curd, topped with some more rhubarb (roasted pieces this time) to put some of the bite and tang back in...
    First things - I made a shortcrust pastry. Very easy and quick to do...just a plain one. I don't bother with making sweet enriched pastry for sweet tarts because I like to balance the sweeter contents with a plain base. I use a good old tried and trusted recipe from BBC Food site -
    Just click on the link and follow their instructions...I'm not going to type it all out again because it's just straight up as it is written, no tweaking or alterations by me.
    I rolled out very thin (I like really thin crispy delicate bases to my dessert tarts) and blind baked in a small loose bottomed tartlet pan.
    Look...no soggy bottoms!
    While this was set aside to cool, I then went and got myself a nice young tender stem of rhubarb, fresh from the garden.
    Washed and trimmed into small pieces, I places the rhubarb onto a baking tray and roasted in the oven for a couple of minutes...a couple was all it took as it was quite a thin stem.
    Now roasting is an ideal way to cook rhubarb if you want to soften but retain it's shape (stewing obviously breaks down the fibres). Some cooks suggest you sprinkle with sugar and a spoonful of water, but I didn't bother...I wanted a bit of bite and to keep the rhubarb as tangy as possible.
    While the roasted rhubarb pieces cooled, I set about filling the tart pastry case with my rhubarb curd. Because I intended on eating straight away, I didn't bother with sealing the pastry case with an egg wash (and some people brush melted chocolate in) but if the tart had to sit around for awhile (say if I was making for a party or dinner) then I probably would because the liquid in the curd will probably soften and seep into the pastry...so after all that hard work cooking to ensure no soggy bottoms...you don't want to go ruining it with the filling putting one right back in there do you!
    The tart got decorated with the roasted rhubarb....which I had a dilemma over - go all rustic and scatter or be more civilised and posh and make a symmetrical pattern....
    civilised and posh won!
    ...and then a dusting of icing sugar....awe...look...it's all pretty!
    Crispy pastry, soft creamy filling, tangy bites of rhubarb...
    Oh my did THAT taste good!
    I think we can safely say this curd recipe and tart will be made quite a few more times in this kitchen :)
    Hope you enjoyed reading this....and that it inspires you to have a go at making your own curd.
    xxx Ange xxx

    Wednesday, 26 March 2014

    Paper 'Faux FlowerSoft' Floral Embellishments

    Hi guys! remember me? ;) !!!!

    It's been a while since my last blog post and I apologise, again! BUT I do seem to have more people following me on Facebook and reading my posts on there, than on here :( so I tend to post more there nowadays.....if you want to keep up to date with what I'm up to, then I do suggest you join me on Facebook.

    I've been very busy painting and doing commission work that I have not been able to post info about but yesterday I took a day out of that schedule to do some papercrafting....namely making some cards for an upcoming MIL birthday, plus we celebrate Mothers Day here in the UK on Sunday 30th March so I have made my mom a card, plus another one for  my other half's mom.

    I've decided to blog a little tutorial that came about while creating the above mentioned birthday card. I posted on facebook about it this morning and mentioned I'd made my own flower embellishments....and people have asked how I did it....

    so here it is -

    Paper Faux 'Flower Soft' inspired embellishments

    This tutorial makes a cluster like a stylised lavender or buddleija head.

    Firstly I'd like to point out that I don't think I can claim this technique to be totally my own and unique...I'm sure there's probably someone else out there who's already done this....I just think it is fun and wanted to share with you how I do it.

    Now, if you know me well, you'll know I'm not the greatest fan of Flower Soft...I do not have any in my studio because I generally do not make cards in a way that requires it. I think it probably does have a good place in cardmaking...but just not in my style of cardmaking,

    (if you have no idea what I'm on about...google flowersoft and you'll find out)

    Yesterday, however, I was asked to make a specific style card...pretty and floral, lavender flower themed and in this case I really did feel it needed a floral embellishment of some sort. Die cut shapes didn't work, it needed something much more dimensional and even if I did have flowersoft, it wouldn't have been 'chunky' enough. I wanted something a bit bigger and more stylised so decided to create my own version...a faux flowersoft technique, but using cardstock, cut into micro sized bits so I could have more control over size...and perfectly co-ordinate the colour and card with the rest of the card.

    Scissors use good sharp quality ones, I use small Friskers variety which cut right to the point and are nice and small which is good for fine work and snipping little bits.
    Card stock in colour of your choice...a great way to use up the offcut and remnants from the card making.
    Pinflair Glue Gel adhesive This is clear, thick, gloppy and perfect for this job. It is slow drying so you have a lovely amount of time to fiddle about shaping your flower cluster.
    Paper wrapped floral wire stems most craft shops and flower shops will have this and I always have some in my stash that gets used for all manner of craft and art projects. In this project I'm using 'Hamilworth' # 22 which are 36cm in total length and come in packs of 25. I deliberately stock white paper ones so that I can colour them to perfectly match any projects, but you can get a nice green one if you're only ever going to use it to make floral embellishments. Paper wrapped wire is important because you need a paper base for the glue to key/hold onto....I've tried using just plain wire and the glue can slide and move out of shape.
    Cocktail Sticks or similar for moving the glue into shape.
    Small container for keeping your paper cuttings in place....like flower soft, this stuff can flick everywhere.
    Wire Cutters/ tin snips (not pictured) for cutting your floral wire....do not use scissors or the blades will get nicked and ruined....use the right tools for the purpose!
    Square of polystyrene or sponge (not pictured) for sticking your wire stems into to allow the glue to dry.
    1)Cut your card - Cutting tiny micro snips of paper is tedious and boring...the only way I can think of making the process faster is to take a small section of card remnant and snip lengthwise like this....not completely going to the end...
    ...and then snipping crossways to get lots of little bits, or 'cuttings'. I snip at an angle to create rough diamond shapes...the pointy ends seem to stick into the glue better. The bits are around a couple of millimetres long...but I'm not too fussy about perfect regular size and shapes...infact the more uneven the better and you get a nice dimensional and texturised flower head.
    you will end up will a nice little pile like this. This is enough to make one small cluster...so if you need to make more...you'll need to cut more card.
    Keep these cuttings in a container, with a lid if you're storing it for future use. This stuff, like Flower Soft, flicks and flies everywhere so try to keep it in check! You'll need a container large enough to fit fingers into...you'll need to be able to pick out pinchfulls of the cuttings when covering your glued wire stems.
    2)Prepare your wire I use white paper covered stems so that I can colour them exactly to match my project...Ink pads are good to use, paint is a bit fiddly to apply with a brush...and I find a good old colour Sharpie felt tip pen much easier to use to apply the colour. In this project I am keeping the stems white.
    3)Cut the wire but keep it a little longer in length than you'll eventually need...so you've got something decent to hold onto while applying the glue and cuttings....and something to poke into the polystyrene while it dries. You can trim to the proper size after the glue has dried. Please use proper wire cutters to trim....use scissors and the wire will blunt the blade, make nicks in them...and ruin them.
    3)Apply glue Holding one end of the wire securely, apply blobs of glue until you get the size blob you need. I do not advise you make too big a flower cluster or the glue will take forever to dry and it might also distort under the weight of the glue...and fall off the wire. I swear by using Pinflair Glue Gel...nearly everything and anything can be adhered with this....it's a nice thick gel so holds shape well, is clear so does not interfere with the card colour, plus it's quite slow drying so you even have a little time to play around and ease the final covered piece into shape, gently with your fingers.
    use a cocktail stick or similar to gently manoeuvre the glue blob all around the tip of the wire and into roughly the shape you need.
    4)Apply the cuttings - hold the glue blobbed wire over the container, take pinchfulls of the cuttings and scatter over the glue, turning the piece and dropping over more and more cuttings until you get a nice even coverage all over. Do not be tempted to dunk the glue into the container of cuttings or the glue blob will get squashed out of shape. You can, at this point then use your fingers to gently press the cuttings into the glue and reshaping the piece. Keep scattering over and pressing in more cuttings until you've achieved the shape and coverage you desire.
    5)Leave to dry poke the end of the wire into something like a block of polystyrene or floral sponge and allow to dry. The gel glue is slow drying so it will allow you to go back to it after an hour or so of curing, and be able to press and squeeze the shape further with your fingers. Depending on how thick the layer of glue it, it will take 24 hours to totally cure and set, but won't set entirely hard. Sorry but this isn't an instant make...it will need some time to dry so be patient, and try to plan making these in advance.

    6)Your floral clusters are now ready to use - trim wire to size, and add to your card/papercrafting projects as required. You can gently brush over ink or glitters to add more depth in colour and dimension and sparkle, they look lovely set into bunches and tied with ribbon.
    I'm in the middle of making this Birthday card, haven't quite decided on the layout yet but as you can see, these stylised lavender clusters look lovely teamed up with the lavender print paper.

    Hope you find this tutorial fun and helpful....now go make your own clusters!

    Friday, 16 August 2013


    I haven't been around here for a bit....mainly because all my news has been posted up on Facebook...but also because I've been busy organizing the launch of my new business, Facebook page and NEW BLOG....

    so, here it is folks.....


    I'm still going to run The Six Inch Square Blog....this place is where I do all my verbal 'rambling' and info on my various hobbies. Studio Forty is purely for the details on my artwork and services available to purchase. All new pieces made and ready to buy will be posted on there.

    I hope you will take a moment to pop by and start following the new blog....lots of things to come, all variety of artwork will be available to suit many tastes...

    ...and Tatty Button is BACK and making an appearance again after many months 'resting' - I have some printed cotton shopping bags in stock ready to buy now with four original Tatty Button designs to choose from.

    Hope to see you there!

    Oh, and you can also check out the new FACEBOOK: STUDIOFORTY-ANGE J LEE PAGE

    Please pop by, LIKE and share!

    XXXAnge XXX

    Sunday, 19 May 2013


    Did you know it is World Baking Day today?

    We've all been encouraged to step in those kitchens...and step outside the comfort zone and be a little braver with our baking by creating a cake, biscuits, just something sweet and delicious that we've never done or attempted before....

    ...here's a link to the website that has been set up...and for people a little stuck for ideas, they've teamed up with 100 different chefs, from tv fame, restaurants and home bakers etc to supply recipes....suited for all ages and abilities...PLUS an Ultimate Challenge Cream Puff Cake from Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss fame...gone on...dare you make it!


    For all you Facebookers, they also have an FB page for you to join in chat and upload pics in order to share your creations of the day.

    So...what have I done?

    Well...Baking isn't a hardship for me - give me any excuse to get in the kitchen and get those baking utensils out...and I'm there.....but, deciding what to do has been a little bit tricky. Today I'm a little stretched for time....I have commitments today so much as I was really tempted to try the Buddy Challenge, I sadly cannot, and so I picked a couple of things that could be all completed by mid morning before I head off out (after posting this too, of course). What to do that was 'out of my comfort zone' was also a poser...because aside from cooking something I truly hate (no point in that, if I can't enjoy sampling my creations) I'm not easily fazed by baking and will give anything a go....so what to do...what to do....

    On searching the WBD website for inspiration, my OH pointed out this recipe

    Barbara Richards - 5 Cup Health Crunchies


    ...on the basis that it's a sort of healthy thing...and since basically none of my baking creations come under the 'healthy' label...it would be something different for me to try.

    There was one problem, however....it contained coconut!

    I HATE coconut!...

    almost as much as I hate raisins, currants and sultanas!

    "Well, since when has something in a recipe ever stopped you....change it...put in something you DO like"...was his reply!

    So I did...

    and here's the result

    The recipe calls for 5 equal cup measures of ingredients (hence the name of course) but I tweaked it slightly and the coconut was substituted by a third a cup each of chopped hazelnuts and walnuts, plus the oats were increased by one third of a cup too...so still maintaining a 5 cup measure in total. I also used dark brown sugar to give more depth in colour and flavour. The recipe instructions and baking times were all the same.
    If I may say so, they are stunningly delicious! We've just sampled some fresh baked and warm from the oven and they're slight soft and gooey, and cakey....but I also think once they've cooled and crisped up a bit, they'll be even more moreish!

    I have a feeling these are going to become a regular bake in this household and make a lovely change from flapjacks. They are also ripe for even more adaptation - we think adding dried fruit...and even grated apple would work...and maybe some chocolate to create a slightly more sinful version!

    Can't wait to experiment!

    There will be no waiting for another World Baking Day to come along though...I think next week is more like it!

    Aside from that I also baked bread...

    nothing new there...but it was Soda Bread, and made with buttermilk (the proper traditional way) and is a little out of my comfort zone because I'm so used to bread made with yeast and kneaded, left to prove etc - this stuff uses Bicarbonate of Soda for the raising agent...and no kneading or proving required...it's a case of mix it, shape it, cut it, bake it...and 30 mins later you're done!

    I used a Paul Hollywood (bread god!) recipe from his book 'How to Bake'.
    Now, don't laugh!...but Whoops, this is what happened! It sort of exploded out a little too much. Tradition has it that you shape the dough into a ball, and then deeply slash through in a cross shape before baking....this is to let the bread devil out. Paul, in his book tells you to cut almost to the base, but I didn't...and even so it still expanded and opened out to this extent. I think the Devil...AND all his mates have quite comfortably been let out of this one lol!

    Oh well...it might look a little misshapen...but as long as it tastes good I'm happy!

    Once more...A Happy World Baking Day to you...

    now get in those kitchens...and bake!