Lets live like Kings – Millionaires Shortbread

“There is an island to which no airline flies. Its boarders are not open to you and I, for they are guarded by youth”

I love Millionaires shortbread, it is a memory of childhood captured in cake form. The first place I ever had it was at a little tea room called Mintons, now long gone. Every week the owner Roger would make a batch and keep a piece back for me.

Well, given that I still need to cram in a bit more practice before bake off, I thought I would make a batch of my own. Relive my youth, its boarders are still open to me after all……..

 

Millionaires Shortbread

I will apologies now; to make the caramel you have to stir constantly and it will give you arm ache for a few days,

Ingredients

Shortbread

  • 9oz plain flour
  • 8oz butter
  • 3oz caster sugar

Caramel

  • 2 tins condensed mild
  • 2oz light muscavardo sugar
  • 2oz dark muscavardo sugar
  • 4oz butter

Chocolate – lots of it

IMG_4561

Ignore the eggs, milk and yeast – I  was making brioche as well, more on that later….

Making the shortbread is very easy. Combine the ingredient in a mixing bowl and work together into a breadcrumb stage. As it has such a large butter content this will start clumping together. When it starts to combine into a large ball, spread evenly in a lined and greased tin. Relieve some inner tension and poke it a few times with  a fork to create the familiar pattern we all know and love.

Now bake this at about 180 ( middle of an Aga) until golden brown; you may need to turn half way through. When done, set aside to cool…………. The fun is about to begin.

Normally I would encourage you to multitask, but concentration with caramel is key. Its simple to make, but even simpler to mess up. Start by combining the ingredients in a large pan and melting the butter and sugar.

When everything is melted it’s time to turn up the heat. On a medium heat keep stirring, and for gods sake do not stop. Even if the cute brunette from before is calling you up to arrange a secret weekend, just ignore it…….. The moment you leave the caramel, disaster will strike – it catches on the bottom of the pan and burns. You will not look away now, will you?!!

When the caramel feels thick and is stiff to turn (about 10 mins after your arm has dropped off) test it – get a friend or wandering old person (dad) to dip a spoon of it  into some cold water. When cool, if it is just solid enough to hold its shape when you push it off the spoon, its done. The friend can now try the caramel for taste as well.

f at this stage you want to get really fancy, you can add salt, coffee or even lavender to make the caramel even more special. After this, simply pour onto the shortbread and leave to cool.

IMG_4584

When it’s all cool, top temper some milk chocolate and pour on top. I learnt to temper chocolate a couple of years ago to impress a fellow F1…….. Completely useless skill at the time, but now with bake off looming – cheers H.

 

Time for a treat

So, there you have it – Millionaires shortbread.  All that remains to do is grab a coffee and eat. The great news is that this batch is for sale in the tea room this weekend.

IMG_0016

p.s thats the correct ratio of shortbread to caramel. Don’t forget to pop in this weekend and have a piece for yourself x

When life gives you lemons: Tarte au Citron

Due to a rota misfortune I have been on call for the majority of the last 2 months including Christmas day and New Years day. As a reward, my mother decided that lemons would be needed, not for G&Ts but for tarts…………
I love tarte au Citron, the sharpness of the lemons contrasts with the sweet pastry making a great afternoon treat. Seeing as during my on calls I also got a call from The Great British Bake Off Team to tell me that that I have been shortlisted I suppose I should take this seriously. So here goes, Tarte Au Citron (fingers crossed for no split filling or soggy bottoms).

Tarte au Citron.

IMG_8433.jpg

Ingredients

  • 8oz plain flour
  • 6oz butter
  • 2oz caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 6 lemons
  • 10 whole eggs
  • 640ml double cream
  • Icing sugar

Start by making the sweet pastry. Once again I’ve camped out in my family kitchen and am using my mothers Kenwood. If Kitchenaid would like to give me another mixer that would be lovely as this one is on its last legs.
Start by rubbing in the cold butter, sugar and flour till you have a breadcrumb mix. Ideally you don’t want to work the butter too much as it melts and the end result is chewy pastry.

Once at the breadcrumb stage, add the egg yolk and milk and bring the pastry together into a ball. Cover in cling film and rest in the fridge for around an hour to allow it to relax.

Having finished your cup of tea (a luxury not afforded on night shifts), collect the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a well-floured board. You are looking for a thickness around that of a £1 coin. Lift the pastry over the rolling pin, and line a well greased 30cm tin.


This is one my gran used to use and rather big. The recipe will comfortably feed around 10 people so it’s great for a party.

Return the pastry case to the fridge again for another hour to allow it to rest. Once chilled, prick the case and line with parchment and baking beads. Cook in the Aga or around 180C for 20mins till pale golden brown. Remove the beads for the last 5 mins to avoid the dreaded soggy bottom.


Now to the filling. Beat the eggs and add the sugar. Beat together till light and then add the lemon zest.

To this, add the cream and once again combine well. Now comes the scary bit, adding the lemon juice. My top tip here would be to add a little bit at a time and make sure you are constantly whisking.

Transfer your (hopefully not split) mix to the cooled pastry case and bake in a low aga or 170C for 40mins- you are looking for a little bit of a wobble in the middle.

Now to finish you have an option. You can either pipe “Citron” on the top in chocolate or go a bit rogue…………… I crossed the line and added a creme brûlée style crunch topping to give another level of texture (Hollywood I hope you approve).
Dust the top of the tart with icing sugar and find a blow torch. Gentle woft over the top to caramelise the sugar. Now let it set and then you can enjoy.

Afternoon tea anyone?

So there you have it, tart au Citron. I decided to serve mine with a drizzle of dark chocolate over the top and some whipped cream. But the raspberry coulis from the waffle Blog will be nice as well…………….

img_8528
I’m going to be stepping the blogs up over the next few weeks and you can follow it on Instagram on #DrCoxforGBBO. I hope you enjoy x

Infinity Project 861: Time to make beer

In the depths of winter I sat in the snug, the heavy smell of paraffin mixed with that of pie and Bass. We sat opposite a hero, talking about what we had just flown, the roar of 27L of British thunder still buzzing in our ears

My friends have accused me of being old fashioned throughout the years, however I just insist that some things can’t be improved upon. There is a pub which exemplifies this point. Located deep in Lincolnshire approx. 5miles from a ‘disused’ airfield, it was once the haunt of brave young men who fought to keep us free. A few miles have been added to the clocks of these old boys, but the pub remains the same. Lit only by oil lamps, pies kept warm in an oil fired cabinet and no lager to be seen on the taps, it became a favourite of the MMDS during my final years at school and beyond. Its mystery, unlike so much else, never faded………………..

During one of those hazy evenings, after adding a few more hours to my log book, I sat with my two closest friends, Ginger (sadly no longer with us) and Morley, and said no matter what happened we must not let these echoes of the past slip away. Afterall

“Memory is the storeroom of the mind. A dusty attic of experience filled with knowledge; sometimes useless; sometimes priceless.But once in a while we must cast aside the shades, and with our dustily relics try to recapture the past. For in there lies reason for the present and hope for the future”

Let’s face it, most men have wanted to brew their own beer. A few will have tried with homebrew kits and got varying results. So, in memory of Ginger I thought it was finally time I gave brewing a go and keep the memory of those MMDS trips alive.

Here is to hope for the future: Oil Lamps, homemade pies and beer………..

Micro Brewery

There is one undisputed king of beers, Bass! It is a very drinkable, lightly hopped English pale ale and in reality should only be drunk in half so you can keep going back for more. It’s also got the worlds first trademark, a red triangle which I learnt on a trip to the Bass museum a few weeks ago.

IMG_5684.jpg

Wandering around the museum, beer in hand, I stumbled upon an elderly gentleman lurking around what appeared to be bunch of barrels and a trough. Trying to work out what it was I finally asked him, he explained it was part of the BurtonUnion system once used to brew beer. These turned out to be needlessly complicated and most were scrapped in the 50s, but as the elderly gentleman told me, beer tastes better brewed in them (I know the science but don’t ask)………….

IMG_4031.JPG

One thing the MMDS members realised is don’t get me drunk and let me loose near something mechanical, I can revise engineer it in minutes. So, I did!!!! And thus with the use of meccano, tubing, an old ban Marie and a couple of 5L mini kegs, a Miniature Burton Union was made as well as a mash tun and sparging equipment…………..

Homemade Bass

Beer is made using malt, hops, water and yeast. It’s then left to ferment and after about 2 weeks you transfer into casks to condition for another 2 weeks. You can buy good malt extracts but I wanted to keep mine as close to the original as possible so I am using malt. The yeast is one I managed to propagate from a pint of Bass from my local as well to make it even more authentic.

Ingredience

  •  4oz Crystal malt
  • 3lb Pale malt
  • Water
  • Yeast
  • 7oz Brewers sugar
  • 0.4oz + 0.16oz + 0.1oz Goulding hops
  • 0.8oz Fugggles hops
  • Irish moss
  • Fining

IMG_5923

Start by allowing the malt to mash in approx 7L of water. This should be kept at a steady 66c and the malt being agitated from time to time to allow full exposure to the water. This can be done by sealing the malt in a cloth bag and steeping it like a giant tea bag. Or if you have a lot of spare meccano you can build a system to suspend the malt in to baskets which then pump the water constantly over it. This needs to continue for 1.5hrs to allow full extraction.

After 1.5hrs have passed (and you’ve repaired the pump a few times), you need to drain the liquid into a pan of boiler for the next step. But you haven’t finished with the malt just yet. This is still covered in lots of natural sugar which are removed in a process called sparging. Basically you pass warm water over the malt and collect this for boiling. I again used the recycling system to spare the grain. You need approx 3L in total.

You should have now collected approx 10L of liquid which is known as wort. This contains the sugars which will be converted into alcohol by the yeast. This needs to be flavoured and the bitterness added by hops. This occurs in 2 steps. Firstly the Fuggles hops and the first batch of Golding hops are added  and the wort boiled for 1.5hr along with the Irish moss. The helps keep the beer clear.

 

Then, just at the end more flavouring aromatic  Golding hops are added and the liquid allowed to steep for 10-15mins.

The wort now needs to be cooled rapidly to stop the high temperature degrading the delicate flavour of the hops. This can be done by passing the wort through a length of tubing submersed in a sink of ice cold water. The aim is to reduce it down to 20-25, so it can take a few passes. Sugar can then be added to reach a target specific cavity of 1.045.

 

Once cooled, the yeast can be added and then the mixture transferred to the Union.
The idea of a Burton Union is that as the yeast ferments it produces gas, alcohol, but also a foam on the top. This is forced up the copper swan pipe and into a trough at the top. This trough collects yeast and fermenting beer which is then returned to the Union Barrells. This not only allows you to not waste beer (a sin) but also allows the yeast strains to be uniform throughout all the barrels.

Now it’s just a case of waiting.

After 2 weeks the Unions will slow down their production and the Specific gravity will have fallen to around 1.020. Now you have technically got beer but it’s very young and needs to be conditioned. More barrels to the rescue. Transfer the beer via siphon to the aging casks avoiding transferring all the sediment which will have collected at the base. To the beer, add a priming liquid of water and sugar and more Golding hops (I had some spare pellet type so used them-not a great fan). Also you can add the finings at this point to aid in clearing.

Again wait- 2 weeks till you can drink.

So after 2 weeks,the beer is ready for tapping. Ideally you should keep in a cool room or cupboard and leave a day for it to settle if you move it. Remove the cap and plug the hole with a breathable material, like soft wood. Recap if you finish drinking but not done finishing the barrel.

IMG_4899
The big question is what to drink it with………. Memories oh dearest memories – Steak and Ale pie I think 😉