White Chocolate Chip Fruity Brioche Muffins

Perhaps I should call them Bruffins or something? Start a new mash-up trend! Mash-up’s are fun, but what makes a mash-up? This is brioche made in a muffin tin and therefore looks like a muffin. It also has common muffin ingredients like the chocolate chips and dried fruit. Works for me as a mash-up, however, I will still call it a Chocolate Chip Fruity Brioche Muffin. No, bruffins here! Or worse Muioche’s … not even sure how one would pronounce that.

Also I am sure somewhere out there in the foodie world someone else has made brioche in their muffin pan/tin way before me. In this world of food it’s hard to be completely original.

Inspiration comes from everywhere. A recipe I found in a magazine a couple years ago inspired these brioche muffins. As I become a more confident baker I am able to change and adapt recipes to suit my tastes and needs.

 It was this recipe clipping and my recent baking day with my friend Jen, fellow baker and blogger, that encouraged me to make these deliciously light, chocolaty, and fruity brioche muffins!

They were loved and enjoyed by everyone who tried one, which was me, my daughters, me, one of the neighbors, and me again…. Sweetbreads are dangerous in this house!

To bring the danger to yours here’s how I made them. I used a stand mixer, but you don’t need one.

White Chocolate Chip Fruity Brioche Muffins

100g mixed dried fruit; cranberries, cherries, blueberries, strawberries
1-2 tsp vodka (or juice)
500g ‘00’ flour, sifted
100g golden caster sugar
2 x7g sachets fast action yeast
pinch of salt
200ml milk, gently warmed
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g unsalted butter, very soft and cubed
100g white chocolate chips
100g white chocolate, melted

Soak the dried fruit in vodka or juice and set aside. Sift the flour directly in the stand mixer bowl or in a large bowl and add the sugar, yeast, and a pinch of salt. Be sure to put the salt and yeast on separate sides of the bowl. Salt can kill the yeast.
In a jug combine the milk, which should be warm to the touch you don’t want it too hot as it too could kill the yeast, too cold and it won’t work either, gently whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. Attach the dough hook and start mixing on low. Slowly add the liquid mixture. Use a wooden spoon to first bring the mixture together before kneading by hand. Mix in the mixer for 10 minutes, knead for about 10 minutes give or take a few minutes. It should be soft and stringy.
While the mixer is still running or while you’re kneading slowly add the butter cube by cube. Make sure each cube is completely incorporated before adding the next. The dough should look glossy. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean damp towel and leave to rise for one hour or until doubled in size.

Lightly grease each muffin indent with butter. Once the dough has risen gently knock it back, still in the bowl, by pressing your fist into it. Dust the counter top with a little bit of flour before turning out the dough onto the surface and give it another knock or two before folding in the dried fruit and chocolate chips.
Divide the dough into 12 pieces and using your fingertips fold each dough piece into a little ball before dropping into the prepared muffin tin/pan indents. Cover again with a clean damp towel, I used shot glasses to prop up the towel so it wasn't resting directly on the pan. Leave for an hour a little more or less until the dough has doubled in size.

Heats the oven to 190C, once heated bake the brioche muffins for 20-25 minutes until toasty brown on the top. They should feel slightly hollow when tapped.

Melt the white chocolate in your preferred melting method, either in a heatproof bowl over simmering water or in the microwave, be sure to check in 5 or 10 second intervals. Gently spoon the melted chocolate over the cooled brioche muffins.

notes: this recipe is adapted from Jamie Magazine issue 44 December 2013. 
These Brioche Muffins have been entered in these challenges:
Bready Steady Go – hosted by Jen's Food with Utterly Scrummy 
Recipe Clippings – with Farmersgirl Kitchen
ABC Bakes – hosted by Caroline Makes with the more than occasional baker (brought to us by the letter 'B'. B is for Brioche) 


Double Chocolate Strawberry Mini Tarts

This month’s Pastry Challenge is chocolate! The possibilities of a chocolate and pastry combination are endless! When faced with a lot of different choices the only way to narrow it down is to figure out what it is you want.

First I knew I wanted a chocolate pastry and a fresh fruit. So, I started looking through blogs and books for different options.

Then the chocolate and cherry tart I made in February kept coming to mind…but it was too dark for the beautiful weather we've been having. Then I knew I wanted something light and springy!

That’s why this chocolate short crust pastry with a white chocolate ganache and fresh strawberries came to exist. Since chocolate can be so rich it made sense to make these tarts little or mini. It makes the perfect chocolaty bite, without being too rich and sickly. We all love chocolate, but let’s be honest it can too much sometimes!

These would make a great spring teatime treat! So, let’s get baking…

Chocolate Short Crust Pastry

200g flour
25g cocoa powder
50g icing sugar
350g unsalted butter, cold & cubed
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift the flour, cocoa, and sugar together and gently rub in the butter so that the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Try not to touch it too much because you want to keep the butter from melting. Add the egg yolks and vanilla; mix together until you get a soft dough. Form into a ball and smoosh it down a little so it’s disk like. Then rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or over night.

Just before you take out of the fridge grease your mini tart pan or tart tins with soft butter. Sprinkle a little flour on the counter before rolling out the pastry - rotate every other roll to get a nice circle. You don’t want it too thin or too thick, but use your own judgment based on your tart tins. Then cut out circles somewhat bigger then your tart tins, you want the over hang. Presses gently into your pan/tin getting the pastry down into the corners, and carefully trim the excess dough off.

*If you are making little ones like these you will have extra pastry. There are two options either freezing it for a couple of months or make a double batch! Cover with cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. I left them in for about 45 minutes.

Heat the oven to 180C. Once it’s at temperature take the pan/tin out of the fridge. Using a fork put holes in pastry. Place a piece of grease proof paper in each, I cut out individual circles, and fill with baking beads press down to make sure they are holding the pastry down. Bake for 8-10 minutes, then remove the baking beads and bake for a further 5-8 minutes or until it looks dried out. I don’t know how else to describe it, because with chocolate pastry it won’t be brown. Cool for a few minutes before filling with the ganache and strawberry!

White Chocolate Ganache

50-100g white chocolate, broken up
50-100g double cream
20 or more fresh strawberries

The varied amount is due to your tart tin/pan size. You might need more or less. These ones used only about 50g of each. Place an equal amount of both ingredients in a heatproof bowl over a simmering pan of water. Stir until melted. Fill each tart case and top with a fresh strawberry!

notes: chocolate pastry recipe is adapted from Eric Lanlard’s Tart it Up! and can also be found online on The Telegraph’s website. Use up the egg whites making meringues!

These tarts were entered into these challenges:
The Pastry Challenge (theme chocolate) hosted by myself with Jen's Food 
Tea Time Treats (theme chocolate) hosted by Lavender and Lovage with The Hedge Combers 
Treat Petite (theme spring time) hosted by The Baking Explorer with Cakeyboi 


Five Ways to Use Betty Crocker Box Mixes {five on Friday}

Recently I was sent a variety of Betty Crocker box mixes to use in my baking. Every time I make something with a box mix I am worried about those “only from scratch” bakers getting on my case. However, I do use a box mix from time to time and have written about it on United Cakedom several times before.

There are a couple of reasons why I, an avid baker, would choose a cake mix. First there is very little you can do to mess it up and therefore is a good choice when in a pinch. Secondly cakes made from box mixes always turn out fluffy and soft and taste good so make great bases for special toppings or fillings.

Besides all that there are other ways to use cake, brownie, or cookie mixes and here are my five favorite ways: 

Bundt Cakes:

Using a stylish baking tin is always a way to dress up you cake mix. To Make: Follow the instructions on the box and add a 150g or a ½ cup of peanut butter to the batter. Make sure that the bundt is properly greased and floured before baking. Bake time will be a little longer then the time on the box, but it depends on shape and your oven. So, set the timer for the suggested time. Check the cake and if it’s not cooked add another 10 minutes, if it’s still not cooked add another five and continue adding five until it’s completely done. Use the skewer test to be sure. Leave to cool in the bundt pan for at least 10 minutes before gently tapping it out. Then glaze it! For a Peanut Butter Glaze (pictured): Whisk 250g/1 ½ cups icing sugar, 60ml/ ¼ cup milk, 75g/ ¼ cup peanut butter, and  ½ tsp vanilla extract together until combined. Pour over the top of the cake. Sprinkle 1 or 2 squares of dark chocolate very finely chopped over the top.


This is one of those obvious reasons, but cupcakes are always a crowd pleaser and there is so much to make cupcakes fancy or fun! I made these on my recent visit to my parent’s house in America. I used a Betty Crocker Red Velvet Cake Mix to make cupcakes and stuffed a limited edition Red Velvet Oreos in the middle before topping with a Cookies and Cream Frosting. To Make: make the cake batter according to box instructions. Fill the bottom of each cupcake case with a tablespoon of batter, then place an Oreo on top of the batter in each case, top each Oreo with the rest of the batter (about 3-4 tablespoons). Crush up any leftover Oreos and mix in the frosting for a delicious cookies and cream frosting! note: Since these Oreo’s don’t exist here in the UK feel free to use regular Oreos in any flavor cake!

Red Velvet Brownies:

These make a more cake like brownie, but are chewier which is how I like them! To Make: Heat the oven to 180C/350F; line a square tin with grease proof paper. Mix 1 box of red velvet cake mix; 60ml/ ¼ cup vegetable oil (or sunflower); 75ml/ 1/3 cup water; 1 egg together until combined. Add 100g white chocolate chunks and pour into the prepared tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Once cool cover with Betty Crocker’s Vanilla Icing and Rainbow Sprinkle frosting.

Cake Batter Cookies:

Sally’s Baking Addiction blog’s most popular post is for her Cake Batter Sprinkle Cookies. I adjusted her recipe to suit a UK market. To Make: Sift 1 (450g) Betty Crocker Classic Vanilla Cake Mix and 1 tsp baking powder into a bowl. In a separate bowl beat 2 eggs, 75ml/1/3 cup sunflower oil, and ½ tsp vanilla extract. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until combined. Heat the oven to 180C/350F and line the baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Form one-inch balls with the cookie dough and place on the baking sheet leaving space between each dough ball. Place a few chocolate chunks in the cookie dough. Bake for 9 minutes. Don’t let the cookies go brown, take them out and let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack. They will look pale and under baked, but they will harden while cooling. note: want red velvet cookies? Use Betty Crocker’s Red Velvet Cake Mix and white chocolate chips!

Brownie Bites:

Brownies are already smooshy so they are a lot easier to make then cake pops (another great use for cake mix). To Make: Make brownies according to the box instructions. Once they are cool enough to touch break some up and roll it into about a 1-2 inch ball. Cover in melted chocolate or candy melts. Decorate however you want! Check out the time my sister made Golden Snitch Brownie Bites!(picture above)

If you like this post you might like:     

notes: cake mixes were provided for this post all opinions are my own please see above tab for further information. 


Five Reasons for Working Unsocial Hours

When my youngest started reception or kindergarten last September it was time for me to venture out into the working world again. When I decided to stay at home I left a job, not a career. So, I picked up another job that has me working 4am-8am 3 days a week.

Here are my reasons for loving my part-time unsocial hour job!

Most people gasp and exclaim they could never get up that early to go to work and I believe them. It takes a special type of person to work those crazy hours and by special I mean good-humored. Which are what all my co-workers are and I love them all for it.

Family Life:
Even though I am ready for the working world again, I still have a young family. My girls will always come first. For the same reasons I stayed at home with them is the same reasons I choose to have a job that allows me to pick them up from school and have dinner with them and put them to bed.

My Time:
Since I finish work early from starting early I still have my whole day. I don’t nap because it would mess with my bedtime. The girls are at school and I am free to have coffee with friends or bake or read or what usually happens laundry!

People or Lack of:
Unsociable hours mean you only have co-workers to deal with. Not having to deal with the public so to speak is always a bonus in my book!

Stress Free:
I go in I do what I need to do and then I leave. It’s not a job that comes home with me or stresses me out. I might be a bit tired and if you ask my husband a little crabby by the end of my three days, but there is little to no stress involved. With all the other stresses of life, I am thankful my job isn't one of them.

One day I will find a way to make a career out of doing what I love. Supposing I ever find something I love enough to make a career out of it! I have so many things I enjoy to do, but sometimes I like the separation of a job and the things I like doing!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!! 


Love, Chocolate #thepastrychallenge April Link-Up

April Showers bring May Flowers or so the saying goes. This "saying" is the reason I always stuck up for rain. It has such a bad rep. especially here in England.

We need rain. Without it we wouldn't have food or pretty things like flowers and green foliage! It should be worshiped and idolized for bringing us these things. Also for giving us a reason to stay in and relax in our sweats with a hot drink and chocolate.

Yes, another excuse to eat chocolate, like we need one of those! However I am about to give you another very good and valid reason to eat chocolate. This month's Pastry Challenge!! You probably already guessed it, but the theme is chocolate! 

In the tab above is a full overview of the new challenge but here are a few reminders of how it works!

First bake a pastry! Any you like and this month have it feature something chocolaty!

Second blog about it! Be sure to link back to both myself Lisa at United Cakedom (unitedcakedom.com) and Jen at Jen's Food (jensfood.co.uk)
If you tweet use the hashtag #thepastryhcallenge and be sure to include us @unitedcakedom & @JensFood
Please use the image above (right click and save) in your post as a way to help spread the word.
I will be adding the entries to the official Pastry Challenge Pinterest board as they come in, please follow along to see past, present, and future entries!

Lastly link it up below, following the instructions on the widget/gadget below.

A few reminders we are looking for new or re-posted posts following the instructions above. Feel free to enter more then one entry. Also if you have a few minutes check out the entry before yours and leave a comment! Any questions please feel free to contact either Jen or myself!

We look forward to seeing all your amazing chocolaty pastry creations!


March Round-Up: Beware the Ide's of March

March has been one crazy month. I went home to America for nearly all of it. It was my mom’s diagnosis of a rare form of lung cancer that made me take such an impromptu trip. I wasn’t even sure I was going to mention it here on my site, as it’s a very personal thing.  I am not 100% sure I’m ready to talk about it in too much depth on such a public forum. However, I didn’t want to not say anything. If that makes any sense…

Anyway, while I was away I managed to read 4 of the books listed on my Spring Reading List … recently I won a stack of new books from a twitter giveaway so my list just got a lot longer! I can highly recommend the Lunar Series by Marissa Meyer’s. Also Life after Life by Kate Atkinson is definitely interesting…

Before I went away I managed to get several posts up. I reviewed two books: thehummingbird bakery: Life is Sweet & Love, Tanya!

I made a Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake from the first and themost expensive brownies I have ever made from the latter.

There was a giveaway in association with OXO Good Grips, now closed, a winner was chosen! They won three silicone spatulas in different colors.

With a new Five on Friday every Friday except last Friday, it looks like it might last longer then it did the last time I tried to get it going. The first one I wrote Tips on Traveling Abroad with Children, it was fitting as I would have just flown with my two to America. Then it was Five Things My Mother Taught Me, also fitting for mother's day and all the stuff going on with my mom. And lastly my Five Favorite Baking Ingredients; we all have tastes that are superior to others.

Before the month closed I managed to get these Nectarine & Almond Tarts made to enter into the new blogger challenge called The Pastry Challenge. Hosted by my good friend Jen over on Jen’s Food and myself! To see all the other lovely entries we had in March visit Jen's Food!

Happenings and Going-ons in April:

Continuing from above I will be hosting this month’s Pasty Challenge! I will be your host this month and the theme is chocolate! 

There will be a new #storybookbakes this month and a few posts associated with one of my favorite cake mix brands.

Talking of books April 23rd is World Book Night and this will be my fourth year as a giver! Watch this space for more information! In the meantime check out my past World Book Night experiences: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith - Judge Dredd (first ever graphic novel to be included) - The Recruit by Robert Muchamore 

Besides that it will be more of the same with some new Five on Fridays, pastries, and other tasty bakes!


Nectarine & Almond Tarts {#thepastrychallenge}

If you were to ask me to bake you a cake I’d reply “Of course, no problem.” However, when it comes to pastry’s I couldn't reply that confidentially. It’s one of the reason’s I am super excited to be a co-host with Jen from Jen’s Food on the new monthly Pastry Challenge!

Jen is hosting this month and as it’s the first month the theme is anything goes! Typical me leaving it literally until the last minute to get my post written and linked up! Which is very like these tarts. Super easy and perfect for a last minute dessert or breakfast or just because!

We had them as an afternoon snack and what a good snack it was! These would a great picnic addition too. I have spring and summer on the brain ... already talking about picnics! I am ready for warmer weather, but while I wait I will munch on one of these! 

Nectarine & Almond Tarts

500g all-butter puff pastry
flour for dusting
120g unsalted butter, soft
75g sugar
100g ground almonds
1 egg, room temperature
dash of almond extract
3 ripe nectarines, sliced thinly

Heat the oven to 220C and line 2 baking sheets with grease proof baking paper. Roll out the pastry to 4-5 mm thick. I used a cereal bowl that had a 14cm diameter to cut out six rounds. Place on the prepared baking sheets and set aside.
Whisk the butter, sugar, almonds, egg, and extract together until well combined. Place a heaped tablespoon of the mixture in the middle of each pastry round. With the back of the spoon gently press it down. Circle the sliced peaches around the pastry circles. Gently pressing down as you go along with spread the almond mixture out perfectly. If you want thicker slices of nectarine, you might need an extra one.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden. Leave to cool only slightly before tucking in or adding a scoop of ice cream on top!

Check out the other entries on Jen’s site and if you didn't get an opportunity to join in this month I’ll be posting the theme for April on the 1st!

notes: for more information on the pastry challenge click on the tab above! Recipe adapted from the Jamie Magazine recipe yearbook 2014/15. 


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