Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Ooo you crafty thing!

It happened! My life took a very strange and unsuspected turn. There I was cruising through life, caring for J and S filling my days with the usual play groups, cooking, baking and domesticity, when BANG, the email landed.

The next Baking for Babies had been announced by the lovely Dolly Bakes and Mummy's Little Peeps. They announced a craft fair and before I knew it I had booked a table and signed mum and I up for a stall.

"This is not unusual", I hear you cry, but let me tell you all, this really is a BIG deal for me.

Growing up, I was always the one in the family who didn't have a creative bone in her body. Baby sister had her share as well mine I think. She even went on to do it at higher education, and trust me she is really talented. (There could even be a whole other blog post on her work!). Dad is a super talented drawer and painter and mum is an amazing seamstress and cook. And me,I was good at dancing, reading, writing and history. I inherited my families love of art and creativity, but not the capability.

Then I had J. I have had to push myself to be more creative, think outside the box to keep him and myself entertained. I have managed to achieve more than I ever knew I could. I have a re-found love of the great outdoors, I can bake, cook and am even teaching myself how to knit (this is where my cousins say "Katie, when did you get so old!!!!!").

So I think this is where the snap decision to book the table came into fruition. I have found that if I apply myself to something then after a few tries and errors, I can actually do it.

We had to think of a theme for the stall, and as it was a baking for babies event, I knew I did not want to have a food stall. Instead, it was a no brainer that we could do hand made sewn goods, that Mum could make and we could sell. Easy? Not so much so.

Mum did not mind making some of the items for the stall, but wanted to know what I would make to contribute to the stall. As I said earlier. I am not the most dexterous of people and found that whilst I was ok on a sewing machine, my finished products were not up to the same standard at all. So what to do?

That afternoon we went to the local barn sale and had a look round at the items on sale. I found a book by Thomas Hardy - "The Madding Crowd" and some old music sheets and some naval buttons. And a thought hit me. Pinwheels! So after a couple (ahem a week!!) of trying out different styles and methods, I managed to make quite a few different styles and shapes.

The strange thing is that once I started thinking about what to make, the ideas just kept coming, until we had a full to bursting little stall! Who knew I had the creative bug in me? Maybe it was just sat there lurking under the surface waiting for something to kick start it!

The day went well and the ladies did a phenomenal job and raised well over £1000 for the neonatal unit at the local hospital. The biggest thrill of the day was that we turned over a profit and people actually had really nice things to say about our things. Mum's bags and items sold brilliantly, so much so that we have decided to have a stall on a regular basis. All we need now is to decide which direction we want the stall to go in.

I am so proud of us and what we have achieved. So I am going to go and get my crafting hat on and get those creative ideas flowing!!! Watch this space!!





Thursday, 25 October 2012

Where have you been?

So the last post was one of such promise. An opportunity for me to bake for my life and for a fantastic cause. I started the week with such gusto and managed 2 cakes during one day (quite a big achievement with a small person in tow, wanting to "help"!). I got quietly self hi-fived my awesomeness, only to be punished for such cockyness the day after by contracting what can only be described as the devil of all throat and flu infections.

Long story short, after three courses of anit-biotics and the use of all of our babysitting favours from now until 2014, I am finally back on the cake wagon! So evil nursery bugs, back off I have much baking to do!

Friday, 28 September 2012

It's for charity mate!

Right, those that know me would say I get a little (read lot) excited about most things. Whether that be a trip to the zoo, going out in Manchester for an evening on the tiles, getting wallpaper for the ongoing decorating (when did I turn into my parents?) or even going to buy storage for my never ending quest for organisation in a house full of men (you would not believe how much stuff a 3yr old can have and we have not mentioned the 36yr old's stuff!)! However, the excitement I get when I am asked to bake for an event or for someone else cannot be matched! No not even the recent trip with my little sister to the New Kids on the Block and Back Street Boys concert can compare to my excitement about next Friday!

A couple of months ago, my sister in law J decided that she was going to have a coffee morning to support the Macmillan Coffee Morning. She originally was going to have a couple of people over to have a coffee and a slice of cake and a chat, whilst earning some money for charity. However, the couple of people has turned into about 60 people. It has bred into a beast, with people bringing friends, friends of friends, auntie's friend's cousin's dog walker (you get the picture!) and the original idea of a couple of scones and a victoria sandwich has gone out of the window, especially as the vicar is now coming (J asked to borrow the church's cups) along with half of the area's congregation.

Now not being one to shy away from an opportunity to bake and eat cake, I jumped at the chance to help out with a couple of cakes. So far I have decided on:

Orange and Poppy Seed Cake
Orange and Redcurrant Cake (there's a theme!)
Tea Loaf
Almond and Raspberry Cupcakes (recipe here)
White Chocolate and Cardamom Cake (recipe here)

I don't know if I may have gone a little bit mad with cake, though in my opinion you can never go too mad with cake, but I do know that I am going to bake every single one of these and be thoroughly and utterly chuffed to bits that I am doing so for such a brilliant cause.

Now I have not had chance to take any photos as yet (because I have not fired up the oven yet and got my finger out and started baking) but as soon as I do I will update you all.

Wish me luck!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Aracna-baking.

When I found out I was having a little boy, over three years ago now, I envisaged baby blue blankets and sleep suits with vintage airplanes on them and going for adventures in the woods. Little did I know what else having a little boy would entail!

J is absolutely awesome! No two days are the same and from when he awakes at 6am, we hit the ground running right up until we crash and burn at around 7.30!

There are the lovely moments where he tells me that he missed me and loves me when he wakes up in a morning and the crazy times when he comes out with gems like, "Mummy, pterodactyls are not a true dinosaur, they are actually flying reptiles!" (!!!!!!!!!!). There are also the times when he pulls something so obscure out of the bag, that I begin to question where he gets his ideas!

After a lovely lunch at the local deli, I noticed that they had started stocking Nordicware that you can hire for a few days. The tin that caught my eye was a totally amazing galleon ship. I pointed this out to J and asked if he would like a pirate ship cake for his forthcoming birthday. He stared blankly at me and the assistant, who had kindly told me it was available for hire, shook his head and stated "Me want a spider cake, hexagon shape". What???? The girl just laughed nervously and proceeded to edge away from us politely!

So the frantic brainstorming for decoration ideas started along with some rather choosey vetoing from J. (Who knew a three year old knew his own mind so well?)And here is what we came up with.

I made a vanilla and chocolate marble custard cake, covered with a buttercream crumb coating and iced with royal icing.
The spider was made using a chocolate covered donut iced in black buttercream icing with pipe cleaner legs.

As you can also see J got in on the action making his own spider and getting a tad covered in icing!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Berry Nice!

After the cake for mum's birthday, I feel like I need to get back to baking, just for fun. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been baking for other people and for events, and have thoroughly enjoyed coming up with the concepts and then baking them. However, it has been something like three months since I baked a cake just because I can. For no other reason than for the love and enjoyment of baking.
All of the last few cakes have been round or moulded, and I felt like doing a loaf cake. The next important question was what to bake? I decided to approach this with a considered and thoughtful approach (read, stood staring into the fridge for 5 mins seeing what needed to be used up and what was on its last legs!!) and decided on a summer fruit loaf cake.
Now the only thing with a loaf cake is that when I make them, they always appear to be quite a standard cake. By this I mean that they are just what it says on the tin. A cake in a loaf shape. Nothing more, nothing less. Delicious, but not very sexy. I needed to think of a way to "jazz it up" as my hubby would say. I did not want to start heading towards doing sugar paster flowers or candied fruit, but definitively wanted something simple yet effective. The answer was simple. Crumble! So the summer fruit crumble cake was born!

Recipe:

110g butter
90g dark muscovado/demerara sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
125g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
210g summer berries ( if you want to use frozen then do, though you don't need to defrost them before using)

Crumble:
15g butter
15g flour
15g demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 150C fan/160C/ gas 4.
Line a loaf run.
Beat together the butter and sugar and add the eggs one at a time.
Add the vanilla extract/paste.
Add the sifted flour and baking powder and fold in.
Spoon half of the batter into the tin.
Add half of the berries.
Spoon the rest of the batter on top of the berries.
Add the rest of the berries onto the top of the cake.
Mix the crumble four and butter by running together until the mix resembles bread crumbs and add the sugar.
Sprinkle the crumble mix on top of the cake and place in the oven for around 50 mins until cooked.
Cool the cake in the tin.

This is not a pretty cake and has a certain tartness to it, which always goes down well in our house. But it is delicious and goes down well with a cup of tea in the afternoon when your fingers start to wander towards the biscuit tin!
Enjoy! X

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Birthday Ladybirds

It is Mama's birthday and it has called for something a little bit special. I really wanted to do an all singing all dancing tiered cake, but as there is only going to be 7 of us and a gorgeous puppy, it might have been a little bit excessive (especially as each tier would have fed about twenty people!!!). I asked J what I should do and was met with the answer; "Spiders and bats.". After pointing out that maybe Grandma might not be as keen on this, he suggested ants. Again I pointed out that this might not make the best decoration for a cake. After ten minutes of discussing (ahem arguing ) and discounting ideas as broad as crocodiles and penguins (???), we settled on ladybirds.
We made a strawberry jelly cake (as per previous post) and baked it in a bundt style tin. Then we made some sugar paste ladybirds and baby ladybirds to decorate the top of the cake.
As time was against us, we just sprinkled the top of the cake with green edible glitter and attached the ladybirds to the top of the cake with buttercream.
Needless to say that the entire thing got devoured within quarter of an hour. Not bad going for the seven of us!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Baking for Babies

A couple of months ago two fellow bloggers, Dolly Bakes ( www.dollybakes.co.uk )and Mummy's Little Peeps ( www.mummyslittlepeeps.co.uk ) announced a call to arms. The idea was a rather fabulous one, they decided to hold a pop up bakery in a local venue in order to raise funds for the local neonatal unit. The announcement came for bakers young and old to join forces and bake goods to be sold at a summer fayre, which the public could come along and buy whilst also enjoying an array of stalls, including face painting, vintage clothing, sweets and even a vintage photo booth! Brilliant!
I jumped at the chance to help support such a worthy cause and began to decide on what to bake. After an initial obsessive patch of brainstorming, I had a million and one ideas on what I wanted to make for the big day. However, fast forward two months to this Thursday just gone and I still had not made my mind up.

My initial plans and preparations had all gone to pot, what with Si being away on a vintage car rally for the week and my crazy need to paint and decorate part of downstairs in 2 days, whilst simultaneously dealing with builders, visiting family and a marauding 2yr old. Why do I do these crazy things, I ask?

On the last minute, I decide to make some unusual cupcakes which involved arts and crafts to make them quite unusual. It called for a trip to hobby craft, which was endured with a screaming toddler who would only be appeased by a human sized bag of chocolate buttons they were selling off and letting him be in sole control charge of a drag along basket, which kept taking out rather large displays every 5 minutes! Not a great start! On returning home, I also realised that the idea, whilst being a good one, was not a very practical one, so the plans had to be changed again. I settled on a plain cupcake and baked 48 of the lovelies and decorated them with edible glitter and some sprinkles. I then stupidly left them to one side whilst I tended to J's bedtime routine.

Mistake number one was letting J see then in the kitchen, mistake number two was to have left them on the dining table. Mistake number three was not taking any photos. Mistake number four was leaving J alone whilst I ran to get pj's etc. All I can say is that it was pure carnage, that required a thirty minute scrub in the bath and an hours cleaning once I had managed to get downstairs!!!

On top of that I had also used up most of my ingredients on the original batch of cupcakes. After scrabbling around in the cupboards for some additional ingredients, I settled on Almond and Raspberry Cupcakes (recipe below) with a Vanilla and home made Raspberry Coulis icing and some Vanilla Fork Biscuits.

When we rocked up on the morning of the big day, I was staggered by just how many people had baked and brought cakes and bakes to be sold. There was such an array of beautifully iced and decorated cakes, it took all of my will power not to launch myself head first into what can only be described as cake heaven!!!

The whole day was fantastic and the ladies had done a magnificent job of organising the event, helped by many amazing people. Going forward the only other thing I can say now is that I really hope they make this an annual event!!

Almond and Raspberry Cupcakes:

145g caster sugar
145g self raising flour
225g unsalted butter
115g light brown sugar
110ml double cream
55ml milk
4 eggs
75g ground almonds
Best quality raspberry jam
1tsp almond extract
1tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas4/350f and prep a muffin tray with muffin cases.
Beat butter in a bowl until fluffy and add the sugars. Cream together, then add the eggs one at a time. Beat for about 5 mins.
Stir in the almond extract and gradually add the dry ingredients. Mix well.
Add milk and cream and mix.
Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases to about half full.
Place in the centre of the oven for about 15-20 mins.
Remove and cool.
Once cool, using a sharp knife, remove a small circle from the top of each of the muffins and spoon in a tsp of Raspberry jam into each cake.
(don't add the jam whilst baking, as I learnt, as the jam will sink to the bottom of the cakes)
Replace the cake lids you cut off and top with vanilla icing and drops of raspberry coulis.

All in all I was rather pleased with them, considering I only had 1 hr to make them and get them down to the fayre. Though definitely next time, I will put the jam in at the end of cooking and cooling, as above.

Happy Baking!!


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Strawberry Jelly Cake

Yet another cake club has come around and today's theme is "Sweets for my sweet". Cue memories from my youth ( yes I can remember that far back!!!) of Cherrylips, Cola Bottles, Fruit Salads and Blackjacks, along with going to the corner shop with 10p, that my sister and I had managed to alleviate from our dad, for ten penny sweets. Fantastic!

Originally, I toyed with the idea of doing a Cola Cube Cake and even purchased the cola crystals from the local sweet shop, but at the last minute bottled it in favour of a Strawberry Jelly Cake. And I am do glad that I did!

The idea came about from yet another tried and failed attempt to get J to try something new. I bought a couple of packets of jelly and attempted to get him to try and eat some. Needless to say no amount of Si and I trying to eat it and make mmmm noises would even get him to take even a bite.

So here I was left with a whole pile of jelly and no idea what to do with it. I HATE waste and needed to come up with something to do with it. So an idea formed. Would it work in a cake? The answer is a massive resounding yes!!!

The recipe is super easy, yet yields a huge reward. You need to make a plain vanilla sponge (my favourite recipe is below) and bake in a round cake tin. Allow it to cool completely and then turn the cake upside down.
Grab a skewer and stab holes all over the base of the cake, taking care to not go all the way through the cake. You probably want to only go about two thirds of the way through the cake. Make up two packets of full fat jelly with 100ml of cold water and microwave for about 1 min / 1min 30, until it is liquid and mix to make sure all of the jelly has melted.
Si then came up with the genius idea of syringeing the jelly into each of the holes until all of the liquid had been soaked into the bottom of the cake, taking care not to let any of the jelly roll down the sides of the cake, as this would lead to the cake sticking to the plate it was on, and trust me it is near impossible to get off again without leaving half of the cake behind!
Transfer the cake, covered to the fridge and let it set overnight. Serve by itself, or even with vanilla ice cream!!
Also we store ours in the fridge to keep the jelly set.

Vanilla Sponge Recipe
200g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
200g caster sugar
200g unsalted butter at room temp
4 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

Preheat the oven to 180C fan/350F /gas 4 and grease and line a baking tin
Mix all the dry ingredients together and add the wet ingredients. Then mix in a stand alone mixer or with an electric hand mixer for about 2 mins.
Place ingredients into the tin and bake for about 20-30mins until a skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Waist not want not!

I dont know if everyone else is the same, but in our house, the question that is asked on a daily basis is: "What's for pudding?". As a family, we menu plan every week, but the main focus is always on what baked goodies are going to accompany our meals. Even J asks "what's for pudding?" before he will even entertain eating his lunch or dinner, working out whether or not the usual show down of "If you don't eat your dinner, there will be no pudding" will be worth his time and effort!
So picture the joint look of confusion and, dare I say, anguish when Si and J trundled to the cake cupboard (yes people it is that much of an obsession in our house we do actually have an entire cupboard to house just cake) after dinner to find it bare. It was heart breaking. They both had to share a KitKat and some melon. Needless to say I was made to feel a right villain! Si muttering that he did not understand why there was nothing there and J asking confusedly "No cake? But why?".
The reason is simple, the onslaught of my fab new bakey life is taking its toll on the old waist line!!! Not great! As a result evasive action is needing to be taken, so I am putting the family on a diet for a couple of weeks. Not so much J but definitely me, and if I have to go through it, Si too! There is no reason why I should have to suffer on my own now is there?
So I have done some research and have come up with a couple of bakes that I have amended in order to make them a little more waist friendly, but still delicious. As I have explained we are dedicated followers of cake, so a fortnight of no puddings or cake would be too much like torture.
The first cake that I have amended is a carrot cake (my personal favourite).

275g self raising flour (if you want to be ├╝ber healthy you could use 225g wholemeal flour and 50g self raising flour which is just as delicious. The only reason I don't use it here is that a lot of wholemeal in a diet is not great for J and he gets enough elsewhere)
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
140g soft light brown sugar
50g walnut pieces
1 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
225g carrot coarsley grated
425g crushed pineapple pieces, drained
3tbsp sunflower oil
3 medium eggs

I generally omit the walnuts and replace these with raisins or sultanas due to J and personal taste.

If you MUST have cream cheese frosting, I have come across a slightly healthier alternative from an old magazine I got from my mum.

200g extra light cream cheese
70g icing sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Line a 20cm square tin.
Sift the flour and bicarb in a bowl. Add the sugar and mix well to break up any lumps.
Add the walnuts/raisins, cinnamon, pineapple, and grated carrot.
In another bowl mix the oil and eggs together and add to the flour mixture.
Stir until blended.
Pour into the cake tin and place in the oven for around half an hour/40mind. Test with a skewer to see if cooked.
Leave to cool for 5 mins and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

If you are having the cream cheese frosting, beat the frosting until it is smooth and soft and add the icing sugar and zest. Mix. Be careful not to over mix it. If it appears to be runny, pop it in the fridge to help to thicken it up.

Leave the cake to cool completely and spread the frosting over the top.

A great tip for people who bake a lot of cake and always seem to be trying to "eat up" before the cake goes stale, is to cut the cake into the recommended serving suggestion, so with this cake it would be 12, and keep a couple of slices to one side. Wrap the remaining un-frosted cake in individual portions in cling and foil and label. Pop it in the freezer for up to 3 months and whenever you have a craving for something a little bit cakey, remove from the freezer and allow to defrost. That way you will only ever have cake portioned up ready to go and will also not be tempted to finish the entire cake so "it doesn't go off"!

One thing that I did manage to do was to make some cupcakes with the excess batter. I managed to get a total of 13 cupcakes, a true bakers dozen, out of the excess. It is always a bonus to get extra cake!!

Hopefully Swiss family Bakey will not notice too much of a change in taste and fabulosity in our love of all things puddingy! If this cake is anything to go by, I might actually enjoy this dieting malarkey!


Friday, 1 June 2012

Royal Red Velvet Jub-Olympicness!

Of course everyone in the whole country is now starting to get into the swing of the Jubilee and the progression of the Olympic torch. You could say a certain "Jub-Olympicness" has swept the nation. So not to be outdone here is my patriotic offering. Union Jack Red and Blue Velvet Cake.

The recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery and I doubled the original ingredients to make a round 8" cake.

For the red velvet cake

120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
300g caster sugar
2 eggs
20g cocoa powder
20ml red food colouring and 20ml blue food colouring (though I ended up using a LOT more than this trying to get the right colour)
1tsp vanilla extract
240ml buttermilk
300g plain flour
1tsp salt
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
3tsp white wine vinegar
For the cream cheese frosting:

300g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold

You'll also need:

2 x 8" round cake tins

The method is quite a long one, but the details can be found below. The only thing I did change was I divided the mixture into two and added the blue food colouring mix to one half along with half of the cocoa powder and the red food colouring to the other half with the other half of the cocoa powder. The original recipe calls for the mixture to be divided into three tins, but I only used 2 and the cakes turned out perfectly.

http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/475341/Red-velvet-cupcakes

The only thing I would say is that when the cakes come out of the oven, the blue cake may look a little grey, but once you cut into it, I promise it will look blue. When you are mixing the colour into the cake mix, feel free to add as much colour as you like to get the shade desired.

Happy Jub-Olympics!!!!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Pimms O' Clock contd

So I have made it back from today's amazing cake club well fed and truly amazed by all of the fabulous cakes everyone has made and brought with them. There was everything from a Lavender Victoria Sponge to a beautiful raspberry and white chocolate cake decorated with icing bunting. Gorgeous!
There was even a gorgeous lemon cake with meringue icing called a meringue-atan cake!! I have asked for the recipe ( it was devine!) and will share it as soon as I get it!

The thing that astounds me everytime is that there never seems to be the same cake made twice at each event. People's perceptions and interpretations of the themes are always so different and you always learn something new, whether that be a way of decorating a cake or combinations of flavours, like the beet root and chocolate cake (who knew it would be so delicious?) simply decorated with icing and red edible glitter. Stunning!

I get so much pleasure from this club and cannot explain to you how fabulous it really is. You should all find a local group, or start one and go. You won't be disappointed.

Pimms o'clock darling!

As I type this, I am getting ready to attend another cake club and the theme is "Great British Fete". We have to be there in an hour, but I am app excited about my cake that I had to do this before I left!!

The whole idea about cake club for me is that is allows me to push myself, both in skill and imagination. Not for
one minute is the club competitive, or does anyone actually judge anyone else. It is just like minded people meeting up for a slice (or ten!) of cake and a chat about all things cakey. Heaven!

However, I like to push myself and think that there are so many different things you can do with baking, that it would be a waste of my brain to just keep baking the same few cakes that my family know and love. So I relish the challenge of trying to come up with something a bit different when we get the themes through from our club organiser.

This time I went through all sorts of ideas but finally came upon 2 that I have not made before and sounded a bit different. A Lancashire honey cake and a Pimms Cake. I tried both and the Pimms cake won.

The recipe was just a basic sponge mix with the addition of Pimms and lemon juice in place of the milk.

Pimms Cake with Strawberry, Blueberry and Pimms Cream Cheese Frosting.

175g butter
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs
175g self raising flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
60 ml Pimms
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Pre heat the oven to 180C and grease and line a cake tin - I used a round 9" cake tin
Beat together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each one and beat for about 5 mins.
Add the sieved flour and baking powder and lemon zest and mix.
Add the Pimms and lemon juice and mix.
Place into the cake tin and bake in the oven for about 30mins.
This makes 1 x 9" cake.

Frosting
190g cream cheese
40g butter
3 - 4 tbsp icing sugar
3 cap fulls Pimms
Handful blueberries and strawberries blended.

Beat the cheese and butter together.
Add the Pimms and mix.
Add the icing sugar and mix.
Add some of the blended fruit and mix for a min of 5mins until light and fluffy.

I made two layers and spread some of the frosting between layers and topped with some chopped strawberries. Then I laid the top layer on top and piled the top of the cake with some more of the frosting and decorated with a couple
of strawberries.

To me this is heaven on a plate. Light and fluffy with a refreshing frosting. Delicious!!

I have to go now as cake club awaits. I'll fill you in later as to how it went and what people thought of the cake.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

I can't believe I have just made butter!!


Over the last couple of weeks, I have been working on a little project, ready for June, so any additional baking has been put onto a bit of a back burner. As a result, there have been a few ingredients quietly losing their best in the old fridge. Included in this was a large quantity of double cream. Now there are many different ways to cook with cream, but as I have not had much time to cook at all, I needed something that would help to preserve it. My first thoughts were freezing it, but there is no room in the freezer due to the amount of cake and bread that is currently residing there! So after chatting with a friend, I decided to try and make my own butter.

The end result was very tasty (if I do say so myself!) and was incredibly easy to make. It is really one of those things that sounds like a complete faff to make and people always seem to be incredibly impressed when you tell them that you have made it, but trust me, it is really worth doing!



First of all you put the cream into a bowl and mix it in a mixer or with a whisk until it starts to turn into a thick creamy mxture. It will go from being cream to an almost curdled, butter like substance, after a few minutes of whisking. Drain off the buttermilk and place the mixture into a muslin cloth inside of a dish.                                                                                                                                                     



Then squeeze the mixture out by wringing the mixture out inside the muslin as tightly as you can, until you have managed to squeeze out as much of the buttermilk as possible. Then decant into a butter dish or into a container and enjoy!! (If you want salted butter, add the salt into the cream mixture before you start whisking, in whatever quantity you like). Super easy and super tasty. You have to try it!





Monday, 23 April 2012

"Cup" Cakes

I have had a highly exciting weekend!! I entered a local bake off. Yes, that's right people, little old moi put her work out there to be judged and it was brilliant. I managed to enter 2 entries. A white cocolate and cardamom cake that I have posted earlier and a batch of three cup cakes.

The criteria was that we were to display the cakes on a cake stand or plate and there should be no more than three on the plate if they were biscuits or cup cakes. So i began to think. WHat could I make that would be a little bt different? I hit the local village for some inspiration. Whilst trawling the charity shops looking for old glass wear or cake stands (this is one of my favourite things to do whilst J is in nursery), I became distracted by a trio of tea vintage tea cups and a milk jug on sale. I was uming and ahing about what I could do with such gorgeous things, when it hit me. I could make "cup" cakes!!!

I have read somewhere that you can bake these beauties in quite a hot oven and they will take the heat quite well, even though you cannot dishwash them or use them in the microwave. I paid my £2 for them and skipped off home to let the alchemy begin.

I first of all made a devils food cake mix and poured about 2 level ice cream scoops of batter into each cup. Then placing them in a muffin tin so that they were supported in the oven and not touching each other, I placed them into an oven pre heated at 170C and baked the cakes for about 12 mins. I literally sat in front of the oven on a chair, watching for any signs of breakages or explosions! Then they emerged in all of their vintage, edible glory:

The idea was to make them look like little cups of tea and have them displayed on a platter:



Here's the finished, displayed product:


And the chocolate cake:



So after a 2hr wait whilst the three judges delberated, the results were announced. I did not earn a place, but we found out that I was only 1.5pts behind the overall winner, with a score of 32.5 out of 40 (the winner got 34). Not bad for a first attempt!

I am now well and truly hooked and am looking for another bake off to enter. So watch this space!!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Oh My Goodness!!!!!!

Well I have attended the first meeting of the Clandestine Cake Club!! It is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! I may sound a little (read LOT) excited about it, but it really is that good! There were over 30 people there and at least twenty cakes to be tried by everyone. My gorgeous friend T came along and the two of us struggled to chomp our way through a third of what delights people had baked for the occasion. At the last count, there were 16 cakes that we had not managed to even get near to trying!

It was so wonderful to chat to like minded people and chat about all things cakey!! We even managed to bring some cake home. Excellent! The next event for May has been posted and the thinking hat is on for the next cake. Smashing!!!!!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Clandestine Cake Club


So I am stupdly excited (again!!!!). I have joined a local group of the Clandestine Cake Club (website here). It is a group of like minded people who like to bake and eat cakes, who meet up every 4-6 weeks in a secret location only revealed a few days before. For each event, there is a theme and the one for this month is Sugar and Spice. After much searching, Mum came a cross a fantastic recipe in a magazine, that I adapted and have tried out below. I am quite excited about it, because I have never used such an unsual ingredient as Cardamom in a sweet recipe before! The only problem with the cake is that I won't be able to try it until tomorrow. Boo!!! The plus side is that there are 27 people going to the event tomorrow and they are bringing 27 different cakes, of which we are able to bring home a slice of each.
                                                  Bring It On!!!!!!!!                                                                                     




White Chocolate and Cardamom Cake.
Makes one 8” cake.

Cake:

14 Whole Cardamoms
100g White Chocolate
175g Butter, softened
175g Caster Sugar
3 Large Eggs
Finely grated zest 1 Orange
175g Self Raising Flour, sifted
75g Desiccated Coconut
3tbsp Milk


Icing:

75g Unsalted Butter
300g White Chocolate
4tbsp Icing Sugar
Chocolate Mini Eggs to decorate


- Preheat oven to 160C/ 120C Fan/ Gas 3 and grease and line an 8" round cake tin.
-Crush the cardamom pods with a pestle and mortar and remove the pods and continue to crush the seeds until finely ground.
- Break the chocolate into squares and place into a heat proof bowl. Put over a pan of simmering water until just melted, taking care not to let the base of the bowl touch the water. Or melt in a microwave in 30 second bursts, until melted. Leave to one side until the chocolate is cold but still liquid.
- Beat the butter and the caster sugar together. Then beat in the eggs one at a time. Then add the orange zest and the crushed cardamom seeds.
-Gently stir in the flour, coconut and milk and then add the melted chocolate.
- Pour into the cake tin and smooth out the mixture with the back of a spoon. Bake for 40 mins, but check the cake after 30mins. Cover if browning too much. Leave to cool in the cake tin for 5 mins and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
- For the icing put the butter and chocolate into a heat proof bowl and melt as above. Stir in the icing sugar and spread or pipe on top of the cake once the cake has cooled. Decorate with mini eggs.
Note:


The recipe makes one 8” cake. If making a layered cake, double the quantities above and divide mixture into two greased 8” tins. Spread a little of the icing on top of the bottom layer and then sandwich the top layer on top and then decorate as desired.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Baking, Builders and Giraffes

So we have been AWOL for a couple of months, but with very good reason. Si decided that we needed to do some major home improvements that started on the 2nd January this year, and we are still only half way through them! I have been without hot water and gas most days, so the baking has had to be put on hold. Boo!!!  Instead I have been focusing on keeping J from climbing the walls, as we are under house arrest most days, industrial scale cleaning and trying to come up with new and exciting ways to use a slow cooker (Si is now fed up with what he calls "one pots")!

It was with relish, that I offered to make a cake for my beautiful twin nieces 2nd birthday earlier this week. On a rare couple of days of having gas and hot water, I managed to make 2 Griaffe cakes. Using the vanilla custard cake that I made for J's 2nd birthday tractor cake, I managed to carve a 2D shape of a giraffe which we mounted on a basic tray lined with foil. This was then iced directly on the tray and then the background was made by dying desicated coconut with green food colouring and then cutting out little yellow flowers to mount on the background. I do have to say it did look quite effective. Here it is:



Now for some reason, the photo will not rotate. But you can still see how it turned out. This is only the fourth novelty cake I have ever made, and I am quite pleased with it. I have aslo realised how much I have missed baking and making. I just hope that we manage to get some more baking done over the next couple of weeks. We will have to watch this space!