Back in November I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to take part in a Christmas Bake Off at Miele's London Creative Living HQ with a handful of lovely bloggers (aka my competitors). Alright it wasn't really a competition, it was just a baking event, making some Christmas gifts and using some hi-tech Miele products, but my work station buddy, Alex, and I would have won if it was. This win would have been assisted by our super friendly and helpful glamorous Miele assistant, who saved us from some burnt onion chutney, adding whole cherries to our truffles (which could have been delicious really!), and generally cleaned up the massive mess Alex and I left in our baking wake.
When we arrived we kicked things off with some bucks fizz, the official drink of Christmas, mulled apple juice and some frangipane mince pies the staff at Miele had prepared in advance. If you love frangipane and mince pies, this is your new Christmas favourite. I lost count of how many I ate but it was definitely more than my fair share.
This was the second Miele event I had been to, the first being Miele's Chef's Table Event with Martyn Meid the brains behind Ink, the hottest Nordic inspired restaurant in town. It was a completely different event with us doing the cooking this time and enjoying a lunch that had been put together by the Miele team at the end of the session.
We were spoilt rotten, with Miele organising us to make six Christmas goodies, including lemon and pistachio biscotti, red onion marmelade, chocolate truffles, salted caramel, panettone muffins and Christmas decorations.
Lemon and Pistachio Biscotti (makes 24 slices)
Biscotti is quite time consuming to make, as it has to be baked twice. However, with Miele's top of the range ovens at hand, and all the ingredients layed out for us it definitely speeded up the process. This lemon and pistachio biscotti with almonds and hazelnuts was delicious, and the flavours really came through from the lemon-infused oil. Something I haven't used before in baking but will definitely use in future bakes.
Ingredients. 350g flour, 100g golden caster sugar, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 40g honey, 2 medium eggs, 50ml lemon-infused olive oil, 50g pistachios, 50g hazelnuts, 50g whole almonds.
Step 1. Preheat the oven to 145°C. Combine the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Add the wet to the dry and mix together until well combined, then stir in the nuts. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 mins.
Step 2. On a floured surface roll the dough into logs and place on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 30 mins until the top of each log is hard to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Reduce the oven to 135°C, and once cool slice the logs diagonally.
Step 3. Lie the biscotti flat on a baking tray and bake for 10 mins, then turn them over and bake for a further 15 mins. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Then eat. These will keep for 2 weeks.
Red Onion Marmalade (makes enough for 2 small jars)
Red onion marmalade is one of my go to ingredients for a lazy night supper. You can stuff fish with it, throw it on top of a tart with tomatoes and basil, or melt it on top of chicken with some mozzarella in the oven. This was even easier than me making it at home, as Miele has a steam oven with a function for sterilization whereas I have a hot kettle.
Ingredients. 1 tbsp olive oil, 50g butter, 600g chopped red onions, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp thyme leaves, 50g light muscovado sugar, 100ml red wine, 75ml sherry vinegar.
Step 1. Heat the butter and oil in a pan, add the chopped onions, seasoning, herbs and sugar, and cook on a low heat with the lid on for about 30 mins.
Step 2. Add the wine and vinegar, then increase the heat and cook for 30 mins till the liquid has reduced by more than half. Remove the bay leaves and place in sterilised jam jars. Store in the fridge for months.
Chocolate Truffles (makes 16 truffles)
I am not a huge chocolate fan, to many people's confusion. That being said if there's Brandy involved I'll probably eat it. And our truffles were quite heavy on the brandy.
Ingredients. 115g plain chocolate, 40g butter, 55g ground almonds, 30g chopped raisins, 6 chopped glacier cherries, 3 tbsp brandy, 55g icing sugar, cocoa, glitter and bronze crunchies to decorate.
Step 1. On a low heat, melt the chocolate and butter. Take off the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients and leave to cool in the fridge.
Step 2. Once cool, roll the mixture into evenly shaped balls and roll each truffle in cocoa. Then you can decorate them however you like. We rolled half of ours in gold glitter and half in bronze crunchies, just to add some sparkle to the already decadent truffles.
Salted Caramel (makes 400g or 2 small jars)
You have two choices when faced with salted caramel eat immediately or save to slather on ice cream or even toast later.
Ingredients. 75g butter, 50g light brown sugar, 50g caster sugar, 50g golden syrup, 125ml double cream, 1/2 tsp sea salt.
Step 1. Melt together the butter, sugars and syrup on a low heat. Take off the heat and whisk in the cream and salt. Place in sterilised jars and store in the fridge for months or eat immediately with haste.
Panettone muffins (makes 6)
Thank Miele for their proving drawer is all I can say when faced with making panettone. I find it so difficult to prove things in our flat because living in a conversion everywhere is cold! So it was nice to not have to worry about swaddling the dough in tea towels in the airing cupboard or balancing it next to the radiator.
Ingredients. 250ml whole milk, 30g fresh yeast, 900g flour, 100g mixed peel, 150g sultanas, zest of a lemon and orange, 1 tsp vanilla paste, 150g unsalted butter, 3 eggs and 2 yolks, 100g golden caster sugar, 2 tbsp honey, 1 tsp salt, icing sugar.
Step 1. Combine the milk, yeast and 125g flour in a bowl, and set aside for 30 mins. Then add the remaining flour and knead for 10 mins. Cover the dough in clingfilm and prove for 40 mins.
Step 2. Knock the dough back and knead in the dried fruit, zest and vanilla, butter, sugar, honey, 2 eggs and both egg yolks. Shape the dough into 6 muffins and place in a greased muffin tin, cover with clingfilm and prove for 1 hour or until the muffins have doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Step 3. Brush the panettone muffins with the remaining egg and chill in the fridge for 20 mins. Then remove from the fridge brush with more egg and bake in the oven for 45 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. When done, remove from the oven and cool in the tin. Once cool, dust with icing sugar and serve.
After the cooking was done. We were all tired out and ready for Miele's Christmas Ploughman's lunch. So after a quick go at making some Christmas decorations from non-edible gold spray painted popcorn (someone ate the popcorn but owing to the blogger's secret code I cannot disclose who it was but they did not look too happy afterwards!) and dried fruit slices it was lunch o'clock.
The Miele team had put on an amazing spread, with a whole roast ham and turkey roll, which they'd cooked to perfection in their steam ovens. And of course it wouldn't be a Christmas ploughmans without the huge cheese board provided! It was absolutely delicious and the perfect end to a great event.
And so I left Miele HQ laden with Christmas goodies, stuffed like a turkey, and with a longing for a Miele steam oven and proofing drawer of my own! I've raved about Miele's Creative Living events before here, but they really outdid themselves this time. They have a number of course coming up next year so if this sounds like something you would enjoy doing, have a look at what's on offer on their website.