Hazelnut and salted caramel bûche de Noël

When I signed up for the Plymouth Chamber Christmas Bake Off, all I really wanted was to do well enough to get to the final week, as the theme was cake and I much prefer baking cakes to biscuits, bread or pastry.

However, by the time I got there, down to the final three contestants, I’d be lying if I said a bit of competitiveness hadn’t started to creep in.

I had to create a festive-themed showstopper cake, and knew straight away that I wanted to do a bûche de Noël – the question was, how would I make it stand out against the other two entries?

Decoration was one of the judging criteria, so I knew I had to go over the top. Giant cake board, covered in green sugarpaste, meringue mushrooms, holly leaves and berries, a fondant robin, gold almond pine cone and even a little ladybird, added at the last minute to fill a gap in the forest floor.

I struggled more deciding on what flavours to go with, but fate intervened when I had to go and meet with a chef for work – the fantastic Tom Milby from the Pandora Inn at Restronguet Creek, on the south coast of Cornwall.

I told Tom one of the options I was considering was salted caramel, and he suggested pairing it with something nutty – and then gave me a tub of the most beautiful Callebaut hazelnut praline paste, which is what turned a good cake into an amazing one.

I folded the praline into whipped cream for the filling, and made a salted caramel chocolate ganache to cover the cake. The two flavours complimented each other perfectly, and I was very happy with the outcome.

The judging of the final round of the bake off was led by Chris Tanner, one half of the Tanner Brothers who own two excellent restaurants in Plymouth and are cookery tv show regulars.

So, how did I do? Well, I won!! Amazing! Apparently my cake was ‘the clear winner’, and Chris said he loved all my detailing and decoration as well as the taste.

My prizes are a bread baking masterclass at the Devonport Column Bakehouse, and tickets to see Paul Hollywood when he brings his tour to Plymouth next year. Aside from the prizes though, I’m just thrilled to have won, and for an actual proper chef to say he likes my baking! Such an awesome Christmas present 🙂

Hazelnut and salted caramel bûche de Noël (loosely adapted from a Mary Berry yule log recipe and a Hummingbird Bakery chocolate ganache)

  • 4 medium eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 65g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder

For the filling:

  • 200ml whipping cream
  • 100g hazelnut praline paste

For the ganache icing:

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 180ml double cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250g dark chocolate, chopped

For the sponge, whisk together the eggs and sugar until really light and fluffy and tripled in volume – at least 4-5 minutes of whisking. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, and fold in gently, taking care not to knock the air out of the mixture. Spread into a 14×10″ baking tin, lined with baking paper, and bake at 200 degrees (180 fan) for 8-10 minutes,  or until springy and pulling away from the edges of the tin.

Lay out another piece of baking paper and dust liberally with icing sugar. Turn out the sponge onto the paper, and peel off the backing paper from the underneath of the sponge. Score a line along one of the long edges of the sponge, about 1″ from the edge, then starting from that side tightly roll up the sponge and leave to cool.

To make the cream filling, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold a third of it into the hazelnut praline to loosen the mixture, then fold in the rest.

For the ganache, heat the caster sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan with 60ml of water. Heat the cream and salt in a separate pan and set aside. Keep the caramel pan on the heat and simmer until it turns a lovely deep golden colour, then quickly whisk in the heated cream mixture, stirring until it stops bubbling.

Pour the caramel over the chopped chocolate, and stir until all the chocolate melts. Leave to cool to room temperature, when it should be a spreadable consistency. If it seems too thick, you can reheat and add a little more cream, then leave it to cool again.

To assemble, unroll the sponge and spread the hazelnut cream all over. Re-roll as tightly as you can, then trim the two ends to neaten it. Cut the log a third of the way down at a 45 degree angle, to create a piece to use as the branch. Place the two pieces on whatever cake board or serving plate you’re using, then cover with the chocolate ganache. To get the bark-like effect, I just used a butter knife to roughly spread the icing lengthways down the log, then swirled it on the ends of the branches.

Dust with icing sugar and serve!

If you want to make meringue mushrooms, there’s a great tutorial over on Sprinkle Bakes – they’re easier than they look, but they are very fragile – at least a third of mine broke before getting anywhere near the cake!

Christmas profiteroles

I know I’ve been slow updating on my progress in the Bake Off competition I mentioned previously, and anyone who follows me on Twitter will already know the outcome, but here’s my week 3 pastry round update – I made profiteroles and got through to the final!

These are chocolate choux buns, with a chocolate orange and brandy cream filling, decorated with white chocolate and holly berries and leaves, to look like mini Christmas puddings.

For the competition, I decided I needed to up the ante on presentation, so I also made fondant icing snowmen and penguins, which turned out rather cute if I do say so myself!

The actual profiteroles were great, a festive flavour combination that would hopefully please anyone who doesn’t like actual Christmas pudding.

The judges must have liked them too, as I was put through to the final round, in which I went head to head with two other bakers  in the festive cake round – I will probably post the update on that when I can’t stand any more family Christmas time tomorrow…

Christmas profiteroles (adapted from Holly Bell’s recipe)

  • 60g cold butter, cubed
  • 150ml cold water
  • 55g strong white flour
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 10g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs

For filling and decorating

  • 75g marscapone
  • 50g orange flavoured dark chocolate
  • 100ml whipping cream
  • 1-2 tsp brandy
  • 50g white chocolate
  • holly leaf and berry decorations (I got mine from Asda)

Start by getting all your ingredients laid out, as there’s no time for faffing about when making profiteroles! Holly’s instructions for making the pastry and baking the profiteroles are pretty comprehensive so I won’t repeat them, just add in the cocoa powder at the same time as the flour and sugar.

For the filling, start by melting the chocolate in a small bowl. Leave to cool, then beat in the marscapone and brandy (to taste, my taste is for a strong kick!) In a separate bowl, whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks, then fold into the chocolate mixture a third at a time. Use a piping bag to fill each of the profiteroles, piping into the hole you made to let the steam out.

To decorate, melt the white chocolate then spoon on top of each bun, letting it run down the sides. Add a few leaves and berries, then leave to set.

Someone at work said they were like profiterole canapes, which I think is a great idea if you’re having a Christmas party! Just keep them in the fridge and get them out about 30 mins before serving.

We_Should_Cocoa_V3

As these do have a nice good glug of brandy in, I’m going to enter them into this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, hosted by Choclette, who chose alcohol as the festive theme. Excellent choice!

Turkey, cranberry and stuffing rolls

After the success of my festive alfajores in round one of the Plymouth Chamber bake off, the pressure was on for week two, when three people would be eliminated from the competition.

The theme was bread – the aspect f baking I’m least experienced in and least confident about. Great!

I had quite a lot of ideas, and couldn’t decide whether to go sweet or savoury. The sweet option, white chocolate, cranberry and marzipan sweet rolls, went down well with all my taste testers, but the savoury option got the majority of the votes, so that’s what I went for.

I used the dough from this recipe as I knew it worked well, and took inspiration for the filling from a Paul Hollywood recipe – cooked turkey and stuffing, cranberry sauce, and my own additions of edam cheese and black pepper.

My favourite aspect of this bake was definitely the presentation – arranged in a Christmas tree shape with a ribbon tied around the base, so festive and cute!

Although I wasn’t at all confident when I dropped these off for judging, I needn’t have worried – not only did they get me through to round three, but I was actually awarded Star Baker! Amazing!

These are so perfect to make with leftovers from your Christmas dinner, they’d make the ideal boxing day lunch. Try them, and maybe your family will even give you Star Baker status too… 😉

Turkey, cranberry and stuffing rolls (adapted from here and here)

Makes 12 rolls (with some dough leftover)

  • 450g plain flour
  • 14g sachet dried yeast
  • 1tsp salt
  • 250ml milk
  • 55g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2tbsp butter
  • 150g cranberry sauce
  • 150g cooked turkey, shredded
  • 100g cooked sage and onion stuffing, broken up
  • 20g edam cheese, finely chopped or grated
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix together half the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Heat the milk to a lukewarm temperature, then add into the dry ingredients with the eggs and butter. Stir to combine all the ingredients, then add in the rest of the flour a bit at a time, until the dough forms a ball that leaves the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough for about five minutes, until springy, then spray the bowl with cooking spray, put the dough back in, cover and leave to rise for at least an hour until doubled in size.

When risen, knock the dough back, give it a quick knead, and then leave for a second rising, for another hour until doubled again.

Turn the proofed dough out onto a floured surface and knead quickly. You only need 2/3 of the dough, so keep the rest wrapped in clingfilm and use for something else (I made cinnamon rolls!)

Roll the dough into a rectangle 12″ long and 9″ high. Spread the cranberry sauce all over, then evenly distribute the turkey, stuffing and cheese, then finish with a little black pepper. Roll up the dough from one of the long sides, keeping it as tight as you can, until you have a long roll of dough with all the filling rolled up inside.

Slice the roll into 12 1″ pieces with a sharp knife – try not to press down too hard so they don’t lose their shape.

Place 11 of the rolls on a large baking tray arranged in a triangle shape, with one extra at the base, leaving a couple of centimetres between them. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise again, this time for about 45 minutes. Once risen, bake at 200 degrees for 25 minutes until risen and golden on top. Brush with melted butter straight away, then eat hot or leave to cool.

Festive alfajores

So, for those of you who don’t already know, I’ve gone and entered myself in ANOTHER baking competition. I just can’t stop!

I’m keeping it local this time though, with the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce Christmas Bake Off. I’m representing the company I work for and two rounds into the competition, it seems to be going pretty well…

The way it works is there are four rounds, one per week, each with a different theme – biscuits, bread, pastry and cakes. There are nine bakers in the competition, and after getting a free pass in the first week three will be knocked out in weeks two and three, to leave three for the final.

Week one was biscuits, and for some reason I decided straight away that I wanted to make alfajores, with a festive twist.

Alfajores are an Argentinian/South American biscuit, made with cornflour so they’re quite dry and crumbly, flavoured with Pisco and sandwiched with dulce de leche.

For my version, I changed the flavour to vanilla and cinnamon, and as well as using straight up dulce de leche added a layer of white chocolate caramel. Over the top, me? No…

Add a star shaped cookie cutter, sprinkles and glitter, and you have one festive alfajore.

I didn’t quite manage to get the title of star baker with them, but I came second out of nine which I’m more than happy with! The bread round has also taken place now, but I’ll wait until I blog about the recipe before revealing how it went…

Festive Alfajores (adapted from Chow)

  • 115g cornflour
  • 90g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp saltt
  • 115g butter
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste

For the filling:

  • 100g white chocolate
  • 60g dulce de leche
  • 1tbsp milk
  • 100g(ish) more dulce de leche to sandwich

Mix together the cornflour, flour, baking powder, bicarb, cinnamon and salt. Beat together the butter and sugar, then add the vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined, then wrap the dough in cling film and chill for half an hour in the fridge.

Roll the chilled dough out to the thickness of a pound coin, then cut out stars, circles, whatever. Re-roll the scraps and cut more shapes until all the dough has been used. Place spaced out on baking sheets lined with baking paper, then bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for 9-11 minutes, or until just crisp and golden. Leave on the tray for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

You can decorate however you like – I used white royal icing, star and snowflake sprinkles, and white edible glitter for a nice festive sparkle! I only decorated the half that were going to be on top, but you could to top and bottom if you want.

For the filling, melt the white chocolate (microwave is fine if you stir often) then stir in the dulce de leche. You can buy the fancy stuff, or use tinned caramel, both work! The mixture might seize up a bit, but add the milk, stir, and reheat a little, and it should be fine. Leave to cool until thick enough to spread.

Turn the biscuits upside down, and spread the white chocolate caramel onto the undecorated bottom biscuits, and the dulce de leche onto the bake of the decorated tops. Sandwich them together and enjoy 🙂

tea time treats

I think these biscuits would make a great gift this Christmas, and so I’m entering them for the December Tea Time Treats Challenge, hosted (sadly for the last time) by Kate at What Kate Baked (although Karen at Lavender and Lovage will be keeping the challenge going in the new year, yay!

Christmas cherry chocolate orange breakfast rolls

Christmas cherry chocolate orange breakfast rolls

Sorry, sorry, I know we’re in January now and the ‘C’ word shouldn’t be mentioned for another 48 weeks, but these rolls were so stupidly good I just have to post them now.

I wanted to make something special and a bit festive for the pony to have for breakfast, and inspired by some stolen flavoured cinnamon rolls (that I can’t for the life of me remember where I saw) and the Great British Bake Off Christmas special I came up with these.

I used Paul Hollywood’s recipe for the dough, then created by own filling of ground almonds, glace cherries and chocolate orange bits. The rolls were finished off with a cranberry glaze, which for some reason went perfectly and meant I kept sneaking back to the cake dome again and again…

I definitely doesn’t need to be Christmas to make these but it’s quite likely they will be back on my festive menu for 2013!

Christmas cherry chocolate orange breakfast rolls (basic recipe from BBC Food)

  • 250g strong white flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 20g butter
  • 1 medium egg
  • 7g fast action dried yeast
  • 75ml lukewarm milk
  • 45ml lukewarm water
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 100g chocolate orange segments, chopped
  • 50g (ish) chopped glace cherries
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp cranberry sauce

Add the flour, caster sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl, then make a well in the centre for the butter, egg, yeast and warm water. Stir with a wooden spoon until it all starts to come together into a sticky dough, then tip out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.

Leave to rise in a covered bowl for an hour, or until doubled in size. Knock the dough back then roll out on a floured surface into a large rectangle (I would guess about 16″ x 10″). Mix the ground almonds and sugar together and sprinkle all over the dough, then scatter the chopped cherries and chocolate on top. Roll the dough up from the long edge nearest to you into a big sausage shape, then slice into 8 rounds, about 2″ thick.

Place the rolls in an 8×8 square tin, a couple of centimetres apart, and leave to rise for another hour until doubled again and the rolls are all touching. Bake at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden and smelling amazing. Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar and cranberry sauce and add just enough water to make a thick icing. Pour over the rolls while still warm and serve straight away!

Cranberry swirl cheesecake bars

Cranberry swirl cheesecake bars

As the pony and I were going to be spending Christmas day at our house with just the two of us this year, celebrations with my family took place a couple days earlier, and I volunteered to cook.

They are all meat eaters, and my step dad in particular feels quite strongly that a meal without meat is really nothing more than an appetiser, so I always relish having the chance to show them that vegetarian meals can be every bit as tasty and satisfying as a big slab of steak.

For the main course, I went with a veggie lasagne – a bit of a cliche, but with homemade pasta and a really good tomato sauce it tastes amazing – roasted cherry tomatoes and green beans and a garlic and mozzarella flatbread/pizza type thing.

For dessert, I thought we would need something light, especially with days of roasts, Christmas pudding and yule log just around the corner, and when I saw these cheesecake bars posted by Handle the Heat I knew they would do the trick.

A buttery biscuit base and creamy vanilla cheesecake is swirled with freshly made cranberry sauce, which cuts through the sweetness perfectly. They’re also light on calories – sliced into 12 bars they’re only about 160 calories each which is pretty good for cheesecake!

They went down very well with my family, as did the rest of the meal – although they’re still a long way from being sold on the virtues of vegetarianism…

Cranberry swirl cheesecake bars (recipe adapted from Handle the Heat)

  • 175g biscuits – I used Fox’s butter crunch
  • 40g butter, melted
  • 400g low fat cream cheese
  • 150g caster sugar (50g for the cranberries, 100g for the cheesecake)
  • 100g fresh cranberries
  • 3tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tbsp plain flour

To make the base, blitz the biscuits in a food processor until they turn into fine crumbs, then pour the melted butter in while the mixer is running. Press into the base of an 8×8″ square greased and lined tin and bake at 180 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until golden and firm to the touch. Leave to cool.

For the cranberry sauce, heat the cranberries, 50g sugar and water in a saucepan over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have popped and created a syrupy liquid. Pour into a food processor and blent until smooth. You may need to add a little extra water to thin, or a little icing sugar to sweeten, depending on how tart the berries are.

While the cranberry sauce is cooling, beat the cream cheese with the remaining 100g sugar until smooth, then add in the eggs, vanilla and flour and beat again. Pour over the cooled biscuit base, then drop dollops of the cranberry sauce on top. Use a skewer to swirl the cranberries through the cheesecake, taking care not to over mix, then bake at 180 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until pulling away from the edges of the tin but with a slight wobble in the centre.

Leave to cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 2-3 hours before slicing into bars and serving.

Gingerbread truffles

Gingerbread truffles

More truffles! I’m a big fan of making truffles to go in Christmas hampers as they’re quick, easy, keep well and look pretty packaged up in cellophane bags with festive ribbons.

My first attempt at making these wasn’t perfect – the original recipe from Love and Olive Oil calls for unsulphered molasses, which I swapped for dark treacle, and although I quite liked it I think it would have been too strong for most tastes.

For my second attempt I used just a teaspoon of treacle and swapped the rest for golden syrup, which made a much sweeter, milder dough. Coated in white chocolate, it’s the perfect balance of spicy and sweet, and it’s a good job I gave most of them away or I would have been eating them by the handful!

one ingredient ginger

I’m entering these for the December One Ingredient Challenge, hosted by Nazima at Franglais Kitchen and Laura at How to Cook Good Food. Nazima picked ginger as the festive ingredient, although I have to say it’s one of my favourite flavours and I like to enjoy it all year round!

Gingerbread Truffles (recipe adapted from Love and Olive Oil)

  • 30g butter
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dark treacle
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp (20ml) golden syrup
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • pinch salt
  • 150g white chocolate

Beat together the butter, sugar, treacle and golden syrup until light and fluffy. Sift together all the dry ingredients, then fold into the dough until it comes together into a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, before rolling into small balls (about 1.5cm diameter). Place spaced on on a piece of baking paper and transfer to the freezer for a further 30 minutes.

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, stirring after 30 seconds and again at 10 second intervals after that, until completely melted but not hot. Remove the truffles from the freezer and use two forks to roll in the melted chocolate, then place on another baking sheet to set. Repeat until all the truffles have been coated. Because the truffle mix has been in the freezer, the chocolate will set quickly and they don’t need to go in the fridge, just leave them an hour or so before packaging/eating.

How to make Christmas tree cupcakes

Christmas tree cupcakes

Way back in September, when everyone else was trying to hang on the last glimpses of summer sun (I’m sure there were some, at some point…) I was looking ahead to Christmas, and testing out a few festive recipes, which I’m excited to finally be able to share here!

One of the most fun parts of my day job is helping to produce a magazine called Explore, which is published quarterly in Plymouth. For the Winter edition, we decided to go big on homemade food, drink and gifts, so I ended up making a spiced cranberry and pear chutney, mulled wine, Christmas tree cupcakes, and these way over-decorated gingerbread families that I just have to share a picture of…

If you’re thinking the photography is a step up from my normal pictures, you’d be right – all the photos were taken by a professional photographer called Guy Channing who did a fabulous job making my food look good – thanks Guy!

If you want to see the rest of my recipes, along with top tips for making and decorating the best ever Christmas cake, handmade decorations and a last minute festive shopping guide, you can download a digital version of the magazine here.

I won’t bother giving the recipe as any basic cupcake and icing will do, but here are the step by step pictures and instructions for some fabulously festive Christmas tree cupcakes – enjoy!

Christmas tree cupcakes

What you need:

  • 12 regular sized cupcakes
  • 6 petit four sized cupcakes
  • Sugarpaste or marzipan
  • Buttercream icing
  • Green food colouring – gel is best
  • Edible decorations – I used edible silver balls and multi-coloured chocolate beans

To prepare the cupcakes, use a serrated knife to level the tops of all the cakes, and mix the green food colouring into the icing a little at a time until you reach the colour you want.

Spread a layer of icing on top of the six regular sized cupcakes that you’re going to use as the Christmas tree bases (keep them in the cases). Remove the other six regular sized cupcakes from their cases and place upside down on top of the bases.

Spread another layer of icing on top, then remove the petit four cakes from their cases and place upside down on top to create a third cake layer. On top of that, add a little more icing and a small blob of marzipan or sugarpaste, pressed into a cone shape.

With the remaining icing, completely cover the cakes, using a spatula to spread it down the sides to the top of the paper case of the bottom layer.

Decorate with whatever edible decorations you like – silver or coloured balls, glitter, stars, sweets – it’s up to you!

Christmas tree cupcakes

Goat’s cheese and poppy seed crackers

Apologies for posting yet another Christmas gift recipe in January, but I baked too much and didn’t have enough time for blogging in December!

These crackers are great if you have a slightly weird person in your family who doesn’t like sweet things – I teamed them with a cranberry and pear chutney and a few other bits and my mum seemed fairly pleased!

The recipe is adapted from The Pink Whisk (a bit of a Goddess when it comes to Christmas treats) but with the parmesan swapped for a vegetarian hard English goat’s cheese – even though they were going to be a gift I still wanted to be able to try them!

Goat’s cheese and poppy seed crackers (recipe adapted from The Pink Whisk)

Makes 12-15 small crackers

  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 60g butter
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 65ml water
  • 20g hard goat’s cheese, grated

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a food processor, then add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms fine breadcrumbs. Add the poppy seeds, then with the mixer running pour in the oil and then the water (pour the water slowly as you might not need all of it). The mixture should come together into a soft ball.

Chill in the fridge for half an hour, then roll out onto a floured surface, to about 3/4mm thick, depending if you want thick or thin crackers. Use a biscuit cutter to cut rounds – mine were about an inch and a half diameter, but they can be as big or as small as you want.

Place the crackers on a baking sheet, leaving a bit of a gap for them to spread, and prick with a fork. Chill again for half an hour. Sprinkle a little of the goats cheese on top of each, then bake at 190 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until crisp and golden, underneath as well as on top.

 

Chocolate and cranberry Christmas wreath

This month I attempted my second ever Fresh From The Oven baking challenge – a Christmas Wreath.

I changed up the flavours a bit to suit what I had and what the friendly pony would like to eat – chocolate and cranberry with an orange glaze rather than fruit and nuts – but I think it was quite a festive combination.

I was really happy with how this turned out – I’m still no bread expert and I found the dough quite wet and tricky to work with, but the taste and texture were great, and I thought the twisting pattern looked pretty when the slices were cut!

Chocolate and cranberry Christmas wreath (recipe adapted from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families):

Serves 8-10

For the dough:

  • 3 tsp dried yeast
  • 315ml lukewarm milk
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g softened butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 420g plain flour

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until combined. The recipe says to knead on a floured surface, but I found the dough really wet and sticky so I just kneaded it in the bowl, for about 10 minutes.

Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

For the filling:

  • 50g softened butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl. Tip the dough out onto a well-floured surface, knead for a couple of minutes then roll or stretch out into a large rectangle, mine was about 30cm x 20cm. Spread the filling evenly onto the dough, then roll the dough up from one of the long sides.

Cut the roll in half, lengthways, then twist the two halves together and bring the ends around so it creates a ring. Pinch the ends together, then leave on a baking sheet to rise for 45 minutes, or until doubled again.

Brush with milk then bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees, or until golden and cooked through.

You can use any icing you like to glaze, but I made a simple orange one with 1/2 cup of icing sugar and 1 1/2 tbsp orange juice, and drizzled on top. Cut into slices and serve while warm.