How to Light a Christmas Pudding on Fire (Because Why Not?)

To an American palate, Christmas pudding may taste like a yummy, gooey, extra-rich fruitcake (in a good way) that’s slathered with hard sauce (which ensures that you will like it even if you don’t care for fruitcake) and eaten with a spoon.
This is on…

To an American palate, Christmas pudding may taste like a yummy, gooey, extra-rich fruitcake (in a good way) that's slathered with hard sauce (which ensures that you will like it even if you don’t care for fruitcake) and eaten with a spoon.

This is one family’s version of a traditional English Christmas pudding, famously carried to the table in flames with a sprig of holly on top. It's studded with dried fruit—three kinds of raisins, plus prunes—along with chopped fresh apples and almonds, bread crumbs, grated suet (raw beef fat), stout, and brandy. A little flour and a couple of eggs hold it all together.

Read More >>

Millionaire’s Shortbread – Baking Basics

I remember being in primary school and checking a baking book out of the library – once home I photocopied a bunch of recipes from it, one of which was for Millionaire’s shortbread (also known as caramel slice in some parts of the world). It was something I’d had the shop-bought version of (in those clamshell plastic tubs!) and LOVED but had never made before. Now that I had a recipe for a homemade version there was no turning back! My brother and I made it many times – it’s such an easy bake and really requires minimal effort. They’re also VERY rich (hence why they’re called ‘Millionaire’s shortbread) so I often only need one square to satisfy my sweet tooth. Recipes for millionaire’s shortbread are usually pretty similar. I think the BBC /Nigella /Jamie Oliver versions all have the same components with very similar ingredients. A shortbread base, a caramel filling made using sweetened condensed milk from a tin, and a plain chocolate topping. Some versions use golden syrup in the filling (I make it without) to prevent the sugar from crystallising. I’ve tweaked the recipe here and there to make my best version which is what I’m posting […]

The post Millionaire’s Shortbread – Baking Basics appeared first on Izy Hossack – Top With Cinnamon.

a stack of millionaire's shortbread

I remember being in primary school and checking a baking book out of the library – once home I photocopied a bunch of recipes from it, one of which was for Millionaire’s shortbread (also known as caramel slice in some parts of the world). It was something I’d had the shop-bought version of (in those clamshell plastic tubs!) and LOVED but had never made before. Now that I had a recipe for a homemade version there was no turning back! My brother and I made it many times – it’s such an easy bake and really requires minimal effort. They’re also VERY rich (hence why they’re called ‘Millionaire’s shortbread) so I often only need one square to satisfy my sweet tooth.

overhead shot of squares of millionaire's shortbread with marbled chocolate

Recipes for millionaire’s shortbread are usually pretty similar. I think the BBC /Nigella /Jamie Oliver versions all have the same components with very similar ingredients. A shortbread base, a caramel filling made using sweetened condensed milk from a tin, and a plain chocolate topping. Some versions use golden syrup in the filling (I make it without) to prevent the sugar from crystallising. I’ve tweaked the recipe here and there to make my best version which is what I’m posting today!

I’ve even got a lil video below so you can see step-by-step how to make it 🙂

How to make crumbly shortbread for the base:

My shortbread base includes ground almonds – they are optional as you can swap out for rice flour/plain flour, but they do help the shortbread base stay nice and crumbly. They also have a nice buttery note to them and, unlike rice flour, don’t add a gritty texture.

Can you make millionaire’s shortbread without condensed milk?

Usually the caramel is made with sweetened condensed milk cooked with sugar and butter until it caramelises and thickens. For my filling, I simply swap the condensed milk for tinned carnation caramel (a.k.a. dulce de leche) instead. This tinned caramel is actually made from sweetened condensed milk so it’s essentially the same thing but it’s pre-caramelised for you! I like using the pre-made carnation caramel instead of sweetened condensed milk as I think it (1) has a deeper flavour, (2) it doesn’t seem to burn as easily as plain sweetened condensed milk does (3) it seems that post-pandemic, sweetened condensed milk is often out of stock in my supermarket whereas the carnation caramel is plentiful! You can’t just use the caramel straight from the tin though as it won’t set properly so you do have to cook it with sugar & butter to get it to thicken up.

All that said, you can use sweetened condensed milk here instead of the tinned caramel if that’s all you can get. It will work just as well but you might have to cook it for longer to get the right consistency AND you’ll have to be more careful that it doesn’t burn.

How do you thicken the caramel?

The caramel & butter & sugar are cooked on the stove in a pot, stirring often to melt everything together and thicken things up. This happens because the heat causes the mixture to boil, releasing some of the water in the ingredients as steam. It takes around 7 to 10 minutes of cooking over a medium-low heat to get this effect. You have to be careful as you thicken the mixture though as the high sugar content means it’s likely to burn easily – this can be prevented by stirring often (and scraping the base and corners of the pan with a silicone spatula). Bare in mind that the caramel will also thicken & harden as it cools in the fridge so it will seem thinner when it’s hot.

Why is my caramel too thin?

The caramel will be too thin if you haven’t cooked it for long enough on the stove. To test whether you’ve cooked the caramel for long enough, I like to use a simple trick. I place a small plate in the freezer before I start making the caramel. Once the caramel is looking darker and thicker than before I remove the plate from the freezer and place a little blob of hot caramel onto it. I set the plate aside for a minute or two so the caramel can cool down. Once cool to the touch, I run my finger through the blob. If the caramel is correctly cooked, the line will remain in the caramel. If it needs to be cooked for longer, the caramel will start to run back together, filling in the line.

a side shot of a square of millionaire's shortbread

What type of chocolate should you use?

I quite like a dark chocolate for the topping as it really helps to balance out the sweetness of the other ingredients. A 70% or even 80% are great but go with what you know you like. For this batch, I swirled on a bit of white chocolate into the dark for decoration but that’s totally optional.

How to cut Millionaire’s shortbread neatly:

I have a kitchen blowtorch which I use to gently warm a sharp knife before cutting into the shortbread. This helps to create the neatest edge as it melts through the chocolate and caramel as you apply pressure, meaning the chocolate wont crack or cause the caramel to squash out! If you don’t want to mess around with a blowtorch, you can fill a jug with boiling water and pop your knife blade in there for a minute or so. Wipe the blade dry before using it as it’ll be wet! With both these methods be careful not to touch the blade while you cut as it’ll be very hot. Also, wipe the blade with a piece of kitchen roll between cuts to ensure the knife is clean & dry.

Can you put it in the fridge or freezer?

I recommend storing the cut squares in an airtight container in the fridge. It’ll ensure they keep for longer (up to 1 week!) and will stop the chocolate/caramel getting all melty. You can freeze these too – cut them into squares and pop into a resealable sandwich bag for up to 1 month. Let them defrost at room temp before eating.

Other bar recipes:

Millonaire's Shortbread

Millonaire's Shortbread

Yield: 16 squares
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

A British classic traybake, so easy & perfect for bakesales! Made with tinned carnation caramel (dulce de leche) or sweetened condensed milk on a crumbly shortbread base with a snappy dark chocolate topping.

Ingredients

Shortbread:

  • 50g (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • 60g (1/4 cup) caster sugar or granulated sugar
  • 200g (1 2/3 cup) plain white flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 150g (1/2 cup + 3 tbsp) unsalted butter, cold, cubed

Caramel:

  • 1 (397g/14 ounce) tin carnation caramel (dulce de leche) OR sweetened condensed milk
  • 100g (7 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar or granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt

Chocolate:

  • 150g (5.3 ounces) dark chocolate (I used a 70%), broken into chunks
  • 50g (1.8 ounces) white chocolate, broken into chunks

Instructions

For the shortbread:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking tin with a sling of baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl place all of the shortbread ingredients. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients using your fingertips until crumbly. Knead a few times in the bowl to form a cohesive dough.
  3. Crumble up the dough into the lined tin. Use your hands to flatten into an even layer then use the back of a spoon to smooth out.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top.

For the caramel:

  1. Place the caramel (or dulce de leche or sweetened condensed milk) into a medium pot with the butter, sugar and salt.
  2. Heat on medium, stirring often, until the butter has melted. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring often, for 7-10 minutes until the caramel has thickened and darkened. (NB: if using sweetened condensed milk here, it may be necessary to cook for slightly longer to get it to the right colour. You will also have to watch the caramel more closely & stir more often as it is more likely to catch and burn).
  3. Pour the hot caramel over the baked shortbread and spread out into an even layer (an offset spatula works well but you can also use the back of a spoon). Chill for 10 minutes so the caramel can firm up as you prep the chocolate.

For the chocolate top:

  1. Place the dark chocolate and white chocolate into two separate, heatproof bowls. Place each bowl over a pan of simmering water on the stove, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn't touching the water. Stir occasionally until melted and then remove the bowls from the pans of water.
  2. Pour most of the melted dark chocolate over the cooled caramel. Spread out into an even layer and then rap the whole tray against the work surface a few times to help the chocolate settle into a smooth layer.
  3. Dollops random blobs and swirls of white chocolate over the dark chocolate. Dollop the remaining dark chocolate on top in random spots. Rap the whole tray against the work surface again a few times to help the chocolate settle. Use a toothpick to swirl the dark and white chocolate together to create a marbled pattern.
  4. Chill for 10-20 minutes until set.

Remove from tin & cut:

  1. To remove from the tin you can either use a kitchen blowtorch to briefly warm the edges of the tin (only if the tin is metal!) which will help melt the chocolate and caramel at the very edges so you can lift out the whole thing with the sling. The other method is to dip a butter knife into boiling water, wipe it dry, then run it around the inside edge of the tin to release the chocolate from the edge of the tin.
  2. Cut into 16 squares using a hot knife (warmed either by running a blowtorch over the blade or by dipping the blade into boiling water & wiping dry) making sure you clean the blade between cuts for the neatest edges.
  3. Store cut bars in an airtight container. I recommend keeping them in the fridge (especially if your kitchen is warm!) for up to 1 week. They're delicious cold from the fridge or at room temp.





Have you made this recipe?
I’d love to see how it went! Tag me on instagram @izyhossack and hashtag it #topwithcinnamon so I can have a look & reshare in my stories!

The post Millionaire’s Shortbread – Baking Basics appeared first on Izy Hossack - Top With Cinnamon.

Treacle Tart

Thanks to Lyle’s Golden Syrup for sponsoring this post Amongst all the daily changes that have happened from the lockdown, cooking and baking remains something regular for me to enjoy! And even though there are still some issues with sourcing ingredients like eggs and flour, it’s a way to think creatively and make something comforting and delicious. A treacle tart is a British classic of shortcrust pastry filled with a mixture of breadcrumbs and, most importantly, Lyle’s Golden Syrup which gives the tart that signature caramelised flavour (without even having to make caramel!). It’s a comforting flavour and in these times, that nostalgic comfort of foods from childhood is something I’m craving more and more. Lyle’s Golden Syruphas created a special VE day-themed golden syrup tin which is on sale at the moment. Aiming to raise over £25,000, they’ll be donating 5p from every tin sold to the ‘Help for Heroes’ charity which supports those who have been injured in the Armed Forces. I’m sure with the current situation, this help will be all the more needed by those people. Usually the filling is set with an egg but since they’re a bit hard to come by at the mo, […]

The post Treacle Tart appeared first on Izy Hossack – Top With Cinnamon.

Thanks to Lyle’s Golden Syrup for sponsoring this post

a treacle tart topped with berries in the shape of the union jack

Amongst all the daily changes that have happened from the lockdown, cooking and baking remains something regular for me to enjoy! And even though there are still some issues with sourcing ingredients like eggs and flour, it’s a way to think creatively and make something comforting and delicious.

A treacle tart is a British classic of shortcrust pastry filled with a mixture of breadcrumbs and, most importantly, Lyle’s Golden Syrup which gives the tart that signature caramelised flavour (without even having to make caramel!). It’s a comforting flavour and in these times, that nostalgic comfort of foods from childhood is something I’m craving more and more.

a slice of treacle tart topped with berries

Lyle’s Golden Syruphas created a special VE day-themed golden syrup tin which is on sale at the moment. Aiming to raise over £25,000, they’ll be donating 5p from every tin sold to the ‘Help for Heroes’ charity which supports those who have been injured in the Armed Forces. I’m sure with the current situation, this help will be all the more needed by those people.

Treacle tart closeup

Usually the filling is set with an egg but since they’re a bit hard to come by at the mo, I’ve adapted the recipe from my vegan pecan pie which is set with a mixture of oat milk & cornflour, enriched with butter. If you can’t get flour, you can always buy a pre-made shortcrust pastry from the supermarket! Also, as the filling uses up breadcrumbs, it’s a great way to put to use all those bits of stale bread you probably have from baking your lockdown sourdough bread!!

Treacle Tart (with fresh berry topping)

Treacle Tart (with fresh berry topping)

Yield: serves 8-12
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients

Pastry:

  • 150g plain white flour
  • 75g unsalted butter (or vegan block butter), cold, cubed
  • 20g icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tbsp milk or oat milk, cold

Filling:

  • 300g Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 55g butter or vegan butter
  • 120g milk or oat milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 60g dried, fine breadcrumbs (I used sourdough ones)

Instructions

For the pastry:

  1. Combine all the pastry ingredients, in a food processor. Blitz to combine until you get a mealy, breadcrumb-like texture. Add the milk, starting with 2 tbsp, and pulse to combine. When you pinch some of the mixture together it should stick, forming a ball. If not, add the remaining 1 tbsp of milk and pulse that in.
  2. Tip the contents of the food processor out onto a clean work surface and bring it all together with your hands into a ball. Flatten into a disk and place into a resealable bag, in the fridge, to chill for at least 1 hour.

For the filling:

  1. Combine the golden syrup, butter, milk and salt in a small pot. Heat on a low heat until the butter has melted. Keep cooking until the mixture starts to gently bubble then remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice, cornflour and dried breadcrumbs. Set aside.

Line the tin:

  1. You’ll need a shallow 8 or 9-inch flan tin (tart tin) or, if you want a rectangular tart like I have here, use a 7 x 9.5-inch roasting dish.
  2. Dust your work surface with some flour, remove the chilled pastry from the resealable bag and place onto the flour. Dust with some extra flour on top. Gently roll the pastry out into either a circle or rectangle, depending on the tin you’re using, which is around 1-inch wider all the way around than your chosen tin.
  3. Lift the pastry up and drape over the tin, lifting the edges and gently lowering them onto the tin. Press firmly into the corners and edges then trim away any excess pastry. Prick the base all over with a fork.
  4. Place the lined tin into the freezer (or fridge if you don’t have enough space) for 10 minutes as you preheat the oven to 160°C fan (325°F) or 180°C non-fan (350°F).

Blind bake the pastry:

  1. Once preheated, line the pastry with a layer of baking paper, fill with baking beans (or rice/pie weights) and bake for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the baking paper and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the pastry looks dry and cooked through.

Fill and do the final bake:

  1. Give the filling a stir and then pour it into the pastry case. Return to the oven for a further 20-25 minutes until the filling is set where it barely wobbles when the tin is shaken.
  2. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  3. Decorate with fresh berries, if desired, just before serving.

Notes

Vegan option: use vegan block 'butter' in the pastry and filling.

The post Treacle Tart appeared first on Izy Hossack - Top With Cinnamon.

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

It doesn’t properly feel like Spring until the scent of a toasting hot cross bun is wafting through the kitchen. These sourdough hot cross buns are my spin this year, previously having done bagel, loaf and Chelsea versions of the delicious HCB. Although sourdough can be something that sounds incredibly intimidating to use (and can be very hard to master!) this dough is handled pretty much just like a standard bun dough. It’s not super wet so it isn’t a nightmare to shape. And you just give it a good knead at the start – no hours of intermittent folding involved either. The main thing is that the sourdough nature of this recipe means that it requires a much longer rise (8-12 hours) as the yeast isn’t as powerful as commercial stuff. That’s okay though, just let it rise overnight and you can bake the buns off the next day! Perfect for a weekend baking project for Easter. Have you made this recipe?I’d love to see how it went! Tag me on instagram @izyhossack and hashtag it #topwithcinnamon so I can have a look & reshare in my stories!

The post Sourdough Hot Cross Buns appeared first on Izy Hossack – Top With Cinnamon.

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns on a table with butter and jam by Izy Hossack

It doesn’t properly feel like Spring until the scent of a toasting hot cross bun is wafting through the kitchen. These sourdough hot cross buns are my spin this year, previously having done bagel, loaf and Chelsea versions of the delicious HCB.

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns on a baking tray by Izy Hossack

Although sourdough can be something that sounds incredibly intimidating to use (and can be very hard to master!) this dough is handled pretty much just like a standard bun dough. It’s not super wet so it isn’t a nightmare to shape. And you just give it a good knead at the start – no hours of intermittent folding involved either.

A toasted Sourdough Hot Cross Bun with butter and jam by Izy Hossack

The main thing is that the sourdough nature of this recipe means that it requires a much longer rise (8-12 hours) as the yeast isn’t as powerful as commercial stuff. That’s okay though, just let it rise overnight and you can bake the buns off the next day! Perfect for a weekend baking project for Easter.

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Yield: 12 buns
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

Paste:

  • 50g (1/4 cup) water
  • 2 tbsp plain flour

Dough:

  • 170g (2/3 cup + 1 tbsp) water
  • 60g (1/4 cup) vegetable oil, plus extra for the bowl
  • 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp mixed spice (see notes)
  • 90g sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 200g (1 2/3 cup) wholewheat bread flour
  • 250g (2 cups) white bread flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150g mixed dried fruit (see notes)

Cross:

  • 75g plain flour
  • 15g vegetable oil
  • 65g water

Egg wash (see notes for vegan version):

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Glaze (optional):

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Instructions

Make the paste:

  1. In a small pot combine the 50g water and 2 tbsp flour. Stir together then set over a medium heat on the stove. Cook, stirring constantly, until you get a thick paste. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Make the dough:

  1. Place the cooled paste into a large bowl. Add the water, oil, sugar, mixed spice and sourdough. Stir together briefly to combine, mashing the paste up slightly as you do this.
  2. Add the flours and salt to the dough. Stir together until you get a shaggy dough.
  3. Tip out onto a clean work surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, dusting with extra white bread flour as needed to prevent it sticking, until smooth and elastic.
  4. Pat out into a circle then sprinkle over the mixed dried fruit. Roll the dough up into a log, like a Swiss roll, then coil up into a ball.
  5. Drizzle a bit of extra vegetable oil into the bowl you were using earlier. Add the dough to the bowl and turn it to coat with the vegetable oil.
  6. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel (or a shower cap). Leave at room temperature for 8-12 hours or until the dough has doubled in volume (I usually leave it overnight).
  7. If you find the dough hasn't doubled in volume in that time, place somewhere warm (e.g. an oven switched onto the lowest heat for 2 minutes then turned off) for an hour or two to help things along.

Shape:

  1. Tip the risen dough out onto a clean work surface. Pat out into a circle.
  2. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll into balls - don't worry if some of the dried fruit comes out when you do this. You can try to poke some of it back into the ball.
  3. Place the balls of dough onto a lined baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Leave somewhere warm for 2-3 hours until the balls are almost doubled in volume.

Bake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan / 350°F).
  2. Brush the risen buns with the beaten egg using a pastry brush.
  3. Mix the 'cross' ingredients in a small bowl to get a smooth paste. Place into a piping bag (or sandwich bag with the corner snipped off) and cut off the very tip. Pipe the mixture over the buns in cross shapes.
  4. Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes until the buns are dark golden.

Glaze:

  1. Heat the maple syrup in a small pot until reduced by about half. Whilst this is still hot, brush it over the warm buns and leave to cool.

Notes

  • Mixed spice is a standard ingredient to buy in the UK. You can DIY it by mixing: of 2 tbsp ground cinnamon, 2 tsp ground allspice, 2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1 tsp ground clove, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp ground coriander seed
  • Mixed dried fruit a standard ingredient you can buy in the UK. It is made up of mostly sultanas, raisins and currants with a bit of candied orange/lemon peel mixed in.
  • For a vegan glaze: mix 1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) with 60ml water until thin and smooth. Brush this on the buns instead of an egg glaze.

Have you made this recipe?
I’d love to see how it went! Tag me on instagram @izyhossack and hashtag it #topwithcinnamon so I can have a look & reshare in my stories!

The post Sourdough Hot Cross Buns appeared first on Izy Hossack - Top With Cinnamon.

Mincemeat Pies: The Stars of My Holiday Dessert Table

Mince pies have a misleading name. (There, I said it.) For those unfamiliar with the classic British Christmas dessert, they’re little fabled tartlets the size of peanut butter cups, commonly filled with raisins, sultanas, cranberries, and other dried …

Mince pies have a misleading name. (There, I said it.) For those unfamiliar with the classic British Christmas dessert, they're little fabled tartlets the size of peanut butter cups, commonly filled with raisins, sultanas, cranberries, and other dried fruits, all macerated and cooked in heavily-spiced brandy or port. As their name suggests, mince pies traditionally did at one point have minced beef or lamb mixed in with the dried fruits. Some versions even used suet (beef fat) or lard to bind the filling together. Thankfully, most modern iterations of mincemeat—the filling of mince pies—have done away with the “meat” part, opting instead for the agreeable boozy dried fruit filling that’s ubiquitous in England, especially around the holidays.

While mince pies aren’t all that common in the U.S., they're a non-negotiable festive tradition in the U.K., like watching the Queen’s Christmas message on the telly. For me at least, they come to mind when British food writers like Nigel Slater and Nigella Lawson wax lyrical about them, or in random movie cameos, like that scene in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when Ginny awkwardly feeds Harry a mince pie.

Read More >>

La Cidrerie

When I heard about La Cidrerie, I knew I wanted to go there. I like beer, but I don’t have the same capacity for it as locals do; young people in Paris seem to have no trouble polishing off those pint-plus giant glasses of beer that have become ubiquitous on café tables. Cider hasn’t gotten the same attention that beer, wine, and other French beverages…

When I heard about La Cidrerie, I knew I wanted to go there. I like beer, but I don’t have the same capacity for it as locals do; young people in Paris seem to have no trouble polishing off those pint-plus giant glasses of beer that have become ubiquitous on café tables. Cider hasn’t gotten the same attention that beer, wine, and other French beverages have gotten, but that’s changing.

Benoît Marinos is changing that in Paris with La Cidrerie. And you won’t find a better selection of French sparkling ciders anywhere else in Paris, or France. Or maybe the world.

Continue Reading La Cidrerie...