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.


Cranberry and white chocolate cookies

Cranberry white chocolate cookies

Cranberry and white chocolate is a classic combination, with the slight bitterness of the cranberries being the perfect foil for the sweetness of the white chocolate, and putting them together in a cookie is something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time.

I’m also constantly in search of the perfect chewy cookie recipe, and although I have another REALLY good one to post soon, I think the dough for these is possibly the best I’ve made so far.

The cookies turned out just how I like – soft, chewy, puffy and with just the right amount of bite. I think I was a bit stingy on the chocolate and cranberries though, I used what I had in the cupboard but if I made them again I think I would up the quantities of both, by half again.

The recipe for these comes from Table for Two, and if my recommendation isn’t enough to make you want to bake them, TfT’s pictures will, I can promise you! They look so tempting that I made them within a month of bookmarking the recipe, which pretty much never happens…

Cranberry and white chocolate cookies (adapted from Table for Two)

Makes 24

  • 60g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 180g plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped
  • 60g dried cranberries

Beat the butter to soften then add both sugars and cream until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and milk and beat again until fully combined, then sift in the flour, bicarb and salt and fold to combine. Stir in the chocolate and cranberries and then chill the mixture in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Roll the chilled dough into 24 balls – I weighed mine to make sure they’re all the same but that’s probably not necessary! Place spaced out on a baking sheet (I had to do this in 4 batches of 6) and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for about 12 minutes – keep an eye on them though, you want to take them out when they are golden but still soft in the middle.

Leave to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. They do taste incredible warm though, so don’t feel obliged to wait!

As this was one of the rare occasions I actually make something I have bookmarked rather than just adding it to my huge to-bake like, I’m entering these cookies to Bookmarked Recipes, hosted by Jac at Tinned Tomatoes. Hopefully I’ll get through a few more of my list this month as well!

bookmarked recipes new logo

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.

Cosmopolitan truffles

Happy second birthday We Should Cocoa!

Sadly I haven’t been involved with Choclette and Chele’s chocolate challenge since the start (largely because this blog hasn’t even been running that long), but in the year or so that I have been taking part I’ve had a fantastic time coming up with chocolate creations that use the chosen ingredient or theme.

Thanks to We Should Cocoa I’ve discovered I love blackcurrants and can eat them without an allergic reaction, that chocolate pairs well with goat’s cheese, and that crocodiles make surprisingly cute cakes…

This month Choclette decided the best way to celebrate WSC’s birthday was with a cocktail – an excellent idea, I think everyone will agree.

After much deliberation, I decided the cocktail I wanted to use as inspiration was the Sex and the City favourite, the Cosmopolitan – a properly girly concoction of vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice and a twist of lime.

White chocolate seemed like the natural partner for those flavours, and rather than bake an overcomplicated cake I thought a simple truffle would be best so all the flavours could come through.

These are definitely best suited to people with quite a sweet tooth, but the flavours work well – if you like the cocktail, you’ll probably like these!

Cosmopolitan truffles

  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) triple sec or other orange liqueur
  • zest of an orange
  • zest and juice of a lime
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 10g butter
  • 80ml double cream
  • 100g white chocolate to coat

Put the cranberries in a non-metallic bowl with 1tbsp (15ml) of the triple sec, the orange zest, lime zest and juice and sugar, and leave to soak for half an hour. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat gently until the cranberries soften, then blitz in a food processor until the cranberries are chopped into very fine pieces.

Chop the 150g white chocolate and place in a bowl with the butter. Heat the cream until almost boiling, then pour over the chocolate and butter. Leave for a minute then stir until all the chocolate has melted. Stir in the cranberries and remaining 15ml of triple sec, then whisk with an electric whisk for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is cooled and has thickened a bit.

At this point I added a couple of drops of pink food colouring, because the cranberries alone hadn’t quite achieved the vivid pink colour I was hoping for, but this is totally optional – depends how much you care about looks!

Chill the mixture in the freezer for an hour or so, then spoon small amounts of the mixture and roll into balls (it’s a fairly soft truffle so I found dusting my hands with icing sugar helped a lot). Put back in the freezer while you melt the remaining white chocolate, then either did the truffles in the chocolate or spoon the chocolate over the truffles, whichever way you find easiest. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to eat!

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.

Cranberry and white chocolate flapjacks


Since I last posted about dinosaur flapjacks, the friendly pony has been making them pretty much every week, to eat for breakfast and in-between-meal snacks. Last week I decided it was time I had a go at making some for myself, but with a few different ingredients, which is how these cranberry and white chocolate ones came about.

I knew I wanted to use some sort of dried fruit, and cranberries seemed like a good choice to balance out the super sweetness of all the sugar, syrup and white chocolate.

Personally I think these are best when they’ve not been long out of the oven, as they’re softer and have nice melty bits of white chocolate, but they’re perfectly fine at room temperature too!


Cranberry and white chocolate flapjacks:

  • 115g butter
  • 85g light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 200g rolled oats
  • 55g plain flour
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped into chunks
Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan over a low heat until the butter and sugar have completely dissolved. Pour into a large mixing bowl with the oats, flour and cranberries and mix until all the oats are coated in the syrup. Gently stir in the white chocolate chunks, then press the mixture into a 8×8″ square tin lined with greaseproof paper.
Bake at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the top is just starting to colour. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then cut into squares. It’s easier to remove them from the paper if you give them another hour or so to cool, but I can never wait that long!