Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Home Sweet Home Bake Along (Week 61)

Sorry for the blog silence, the last month ran away with me. I also didn't bake for a while, because I was doing a Whole 30 which was more fun than I thought it would be. I joined instagram and posted nearly all my meals there. I like instagram.

Anyway, Little Boy Red acquired a baby sister the wrong way up, so I baked some chocolate peanut butter cookies for the parents.

I slightly altered the recipe to use up some powdered peanut butter and added some peanut butter chips.

Next up: Shoofly Pie!


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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Weekend pootling

I love that word, "pootling," it is so descriptive, it almost feels onomatopoeic. My life seems not to have been pootling, however, it seems to be whizzing. Whizzing and whirling past me.

Still, there has been enough time for some sock knitting. The yarn is an Admiral R Druck crazy coloured yarn that I probably bought online in a moment of madness. It looks better knitted up rather than still in the ball. It makes me imagine a homestead somewhere in the mid-west. Deserts and oases and fields and livestock.

A panoramic city view for a friend's 30th. I know it isn't old-old, but it is strange to think that we are all turning thirty. Still, the cashiers at the local shop seemed determined to not let me get too complacent at this great age; I was asked for proof of age when buying a cocktail mix there just two days ago.

Which brings me to this rather wonderful quote which was on the wall at Hatchard's, Piccadilly. Excuse the poorly executed phone picture. It says, "Nobody ought to write books before they're thirty. I hate precocity." Nancy Mitford, Wigs On The Green. Good to know I have a little while longer to be precocious then.

Last, but not least, I concluded the shell display in my bathroom, having retrieved a box of shells from my parents'. I believe some of them came from Aden, but that's another story entirely.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Home Sweet Home Bake Along (55-60!)

How was it February since I last posted? Dear me, how time seems to run away. I have been baking, quietly, in the background, although I think I'm rather off kilter with Gill!

I have baked:

A very ugly Flourless Chocolate Cake cake. Like Gill I suffered a spring-form tin water ingress issues, despite wrapping the tin in foil. Soggy edges, but a rather pleasant middle.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Shortcakes - I changed the shape on these to a wedge (for ease) and added white chocolate chips for added excitement. These made a rather excellent Sunday night supper for The Fair Physiologist, The Pure Mathematician in Exile and me.

Chocolate Pie - this one is in fact not 57, but I accidentally made 57 here: Chess Pie when I skipped over Chocolate pie believing I had already made it (I think I had, but not during the bake through) - this is fab - chocolate biscuit crust, chocolate pastry cream/custard/pudding, whipped cream. Everything the doctor ordered.

Vanilla fudge - another somewhat dubious fudge attempt on my part - not sure if it is the sugar thermometer or me, but these needed reboiling. Jolly yummy once finished though! My squares were rather thin because I never seem to have the tins demanded by Home Sweet Home.

Cinder Toffee (Honeycomb) cupcakes. Yum. That is all.

Lemon cake. Stupidly tried to make cream cheese icing on the hottest day of the year so far. Very slide-y layers. Jam oozing. It was like the Princesstarta all over again... Still, a few butterfly sprinkles and all was well with the world again. It was well received, despite its ugliness.

Oh. Yes. I also made some espadrilles. The Kindred Spirit wonderfully bought me all the required items for production two birthdays ago. She visited this week, and I suddenly remembered that amid other projects I had forgotten to make them; so I did. And they were fun, and easy, and I have new summer shoes! Yay!


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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Home Sweet Home Bake Along (53&54/100)

Sorry, another long break. Baking progress has been slow recently, I have tended to stick to things I am familiar with baking, for one reason and another.

The project is edging onwards, however, and Gill and I are in roughly the same area of the book (barring her recent accidental diversion) so I don't feel too off kilter.

First, then were grasshopper squares:

These were possibly the most well received bake I have ever made - needing a kilo of white chocolate, this is perhaps, unsurprising - although I did have to resort to a hand blender and some cold milk after splitting my ganache (white chocolate ganaches are so temperamental, and I never chop my chocolate fine enough, so it's six of one and half a dozen of the other I suppose.)

Second were rose-chocolate cupcakes:

These were surprisingly popular, given how divisive Turkish delight and rose-scented bakes can be. Probably not one I'll make again (unlike the grasshopper squares!) but not a write-off by any stretch of the imagination.

Next up, flourless chocolate cake (I think...)


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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Home Sweet Home Bake Along (48-52/100)

Sorry it has been so long! Life rather got in the way of blogging, although baking did still go ahead. Therefore this post is a bit of a round up of the last 5 bakes from the Home Sweet Home book. These five bakes have taken us past the halfway mark, which is a nice place to be. I have a great deal of sympathy for and growing amazement with Julie Powell (of "Julie and Julia" fame) - 524 recipes in 365 days sounds an absolute nightmare and rather bonkers to be honest. Hey-ho. On with the baking:

First up were: Chocolate Praline Cupcakes. Still got the leftover praline somewhere. Delicious but far too much of it.

Then came: Mississippi Mud Cake; three layers of far too much chocolatey goodness.

Third were Toffee Pecan Thumbprint cookies: Weird cream cheese dough. Not sure I'd bother again, but they were all eaten, so no complaints on that front.

Next up was Peach Pie: Mine was rather more cooked on top than on the bottom, which is the trouble with a non-fan oven, it turns out. Maybe if I put a pound in a pot for every dish the oven messed up I'd quickly save for a fan one. Hmmm, there's a thought. (Also turns out chocolate pie was next, not peach pie, my addled brain went a bit mad there apparently; hey-ho, will make chocolate pie when Gill is making peach pie!)

Then finally came Cinnamon buns: Always amazing, always fun, always eaten. Yum.

Next up: Grasshopper Slices...

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Coconut Marshmallows - Home Sweet Home Bake Along 47/100

I'm getting rather behind in my blogging at the moment. Life seems to have suddenly sped up and five minutes to sit down and blog seems to be a fantasy. Still, that's the way it goes sometimes.

This is the second time I've made marshmallows, and these were rather nice. The coconut stopped them sticking together without making the harsh crispy edges that a cornflour-icing sugar mixture does.

They disappeared pretty sharpish too, when presented at work. They are rather good for topping hot chocolate, the coconut and the chocolate go well together.

250g desiccated coconut
sunflower oil, for greasing
30g powdered gelatine
300g caster sugar
125g golden syrup
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

I'm entering this in #CookBlogShare, hosted this week by Kirsty at Hijacked By Twins



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Next up: Chocolate Praline Cupcakes

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pumpkin Bars - - Home Sweet Home Bake Along 46/100 #CookBlogShare

Hello, my name is Beckie and I am a Pumpkin Spice Addict. Blame the recent trip to the USA, or the general lack of Pumpkin Spice in the UK, owing to an absence of Autumn (Fall) celebrations (Holidays.) Indeed, with the exception of a PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte, obvs) in Starbucks, Kings Cross, I haven't seen any commercial versions of Pumpkin Spice since returning from across the pond. However, whilst over there, I almost certainly drove the American School Friend nuts by consuming my bodyweight in pumpkin scones, spiced caramel apple drinks, PSLs, pumpkin scone cookies, pumpkin spice chai lattes, pumpkin macarons and pumpkin spice ice cream (oh yes, that's a thing - they have it in Trader Joe's - the one supermarket I would bring to England if I could.)

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is these bars were extremely well timed in order to reduce withdrawal symptoms (although the sad lack of self-serve Froyo in the South East of England must be remedied posthaste.) They are moist, and light, and beautifully spiced, and went down a treat once my poor, English, Bible Study Group got to grips with a cake containing pumpkin! Apologies for the lack of photographs, I think the brain was still in the USA when I was baking these.

Also - bonus, I'm hosting #CookBlogShare this week, so welcome if you've joined us for the first time, or welcome back if you're a regular! Do scroll down to link up your recipe.

Recipe (makes one 28x23cm baking tray):
4 large eggs
250ml sunflower oil
360g soft light brown sugar
425g pumpkin puree (from a can)
340g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp salt
120g full-fat cream cheese
50g unsalted butter, well softened
200g icing sugar
(they also suggest 30g of toasted dessicated coconut, which I omitted, and just lightly dusted with powdered cinnamon)
Pithy instructions:
Preheat oven to 170C, line baking tray with parchment. Mix together wet ingredients, sieve in dry ingredients, stir well. Pour batter into tin, Bake for ~30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Cream together cream cheese and butter, mix in icing sugar and beat until fluffy.
Remove cake from tin, smother with icing, slice into squares. Devour.

#CookBlogShare Linky:



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Monday, October 12, 2015

Millefeuille (Great British Bake Off #GBBOBloggers2015)

The astute amongst you will notice a picture of a bowl of jam, and then a millefeuille with a distinct absence of raspberry jam. Unfortunately, the brain was left behind in the USA, the body having only returned from there yesterday morning (hence blog silence for a couple of weeks.)

Still, I made all the component parts, as they did on bake off.

These are incredibly sweet, rich and creamy - no wonder these were the last technical bake - I imagine even Paul and Mary would have struggled to test more than three.

Anyway, here they are, millefeuille for the 2015 Great Bloggers Bake Off Final (recipe here), which is hosted this week by the Boy Who Cooked.

Mummy Mishaps

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chess Pie - Home Sweet Home Bake Along 45/100 #CookBlogShare

This week I am once again hosting #CookBlogShare, and really looking forward to seeing what everyone makes. I am continuing baking through the Hummingbird Bakery book, Home Sweet Home, and we are finally coming up to halfway through! Please read on for more details, or scroll to the bottom of this post for the linky.

Somehow I managed to only take the one photo of this bake - I think I was overly distracted by the Charlotte Russe. Chess Pie is a Deep South pie - the origins of the name are somewhat disputed.

Essentially it is a tooth-achingly sweet custard (I thought I'd done something wrong until I read a few blurbs online) with a little cornmeal to make a caramelised crust, all stuffed in a pastry case. It contains diabetes inducing amounts of sugar and is the opposite of anything "clean" or "healthy" - and my goodness me, is it good.

110g cold unsalted butter, cubed
225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
80g caster sugar
1 large egg
100g unsalted butter, softened
400g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
60ml double cream
1 tbsp fine cornmeal
1 tbsp white vinegar.
Pithy instructions:
Pastry: Rub butter into flour, stir in sugar, stir in egg. Bring together into a dough, then into a ball, do not overwork. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30mins, then use to line a 23cm diameter pie dish. Chill for another 20 minutes, then bake blind at 170C for 10 minutes, then remove paper and beans and bake for a further 15 minutes. Leave to cool
Filling: Once the pastry is cool - cream together butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Add eggs one at a time and beat in. Stir remaining ingredients together in a jug, then add to butter mixture. Pour filling into pie crust. Bake at 200C for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 150C and bake for a further 40-45 minutes, until the pie is just set, with a very slight wobble. The top will crack as it cools - this is okay. Chill in the fridge overnight before serving.

Next up: Pumpkin Bars

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Edited to add: if you tweet me @Beckie_A I will retweet your #cookblogshare link.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Charlotte Russe - Great British Bake Off (#GBBOBloggers2015)

After last week's deviation from the technical bake, I've done it again! I'm afraid I lack a rectangular tin, and had no need in my life for a fruitcake with a tennis court on top. Sorry.

Charlotte Russe, however, sounded far more exciting, more stretching, and more likely to be educational. I was intrigued to note that none of the bakers used a traditional Charlotte mould (looks kind of like a squat metal flowerpot.)

Having spent some time back in Practical Cookery, I was also amused to learn that apparently a Charlotte Russe has sponge fingers at the bottom of the mould (so they appear at the top of dish when it is turned out,) and is just a bavarois surrounded by sponge fingers.

The inclusion of a 1/2cm layer of red jelly on top of the bavarois instead of sponge fingers instead is a Charlotte Moscovite. The creations featured on bake off didn't really fit either category!

I, therefore, have made a Charlotte Moscovite - the jelly is raspberry and the bavarois is vanilla.

Jelly (adapted from here):
325g fresh or frozen raspberries
100ml cold water
2 heaped tablespoons caster sugar
7g gelatine
1. Put raspberries, water and sugar into a pan, heat gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
2. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the raspberries and stop them sticking (do not blend them or the jelly will be cloudy).
3. Pour the raspberry pulp through a sieve into a jug, and leave to drain briefly. Top the juice up to 300ml, if necessary, with water.
4. Dissolve the gelatine in the juice, then pour the mixture into the base of a charlotte mould, lined with clingfilm, to a depth of about 5mm. Place into fridge and leave to set.
Sponge Fingers (From Practical Cookery by Ceserani and Kinton)
4 eggs, separated
100g caster sugar
100g plain flour
1. Cream the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until creamy and almost white.
2. Whip the egg whites stiffly.
3. Add a little of the whites to the mixture and cut in.
4. Gradually add the sieved flour and remainder of the whites alternately, mixing as lightly as possible.
5. Place in a piping bag with 1cm plain tube and pipe in 8cm lengths on to baking sheets lined with silicone paper. (I actually piped mine into a lady finger mould tin that I inherited from my grandmother)
6. Sprinkle liberally with icing sugar. Rest for 5 minutes,
7. Bake in a moderate hot oven (200-220C) for approx 10 min.
8. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Once cool, and once the jelly is set, line the charlotte mould edges with the sponge fingers.
10g gelatine
2 eggs, separated
50g caster sugar
250ml whole milk
125ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla essence
1. If using leaf gelatine, soak in cold water.
2. Cream the yolks and sugar in a bowl until almost white.
3. Whisk on the milk which has been brought to the boil and the vanilla essence, mix well.
4. Clean the milk saucepan which should be a thick-bottomed one, and return the mixture to it.
5. Return to a low heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. The mixture must not boil. (Interesting tip: If the custard goes too far and starts to scramble, it can be rescued: remove immediately from the heat and blitz with an immersion/handheld blender - this breaks up the protein chains, and restores the mixture to wonderful smoothness again. This may or may not be from experience.)
6. Remove from the heat, add the gelatine, stir until dissolved.
7. Pass the mixture through a fine strainer into a clean bowl, leave in a cool place, stirring occasionally until almost setting point.
8. Then fold in the lightly beaten cream.
9. Fold in the stiffly beaten whites. (This bavarois is not suitable for infants, the elderly, pregnant ladies, those with a weak immune system nor the paranoid)
10. Leave until the mixture is very nearly set, then pour into the charlotte mould.
11. Chill in the fridge until completely set.

I'm entering this in #GBBOBloggers2015, which this week is hosted by An Organised Mess

Mummy Mishaps

I'm also entering this in #CookBlogShare, which this week is hosted by Snap Happy Bakes