Gone Crackers!

 DSC_0826   So we’re in the second week of the Great British Bake Off and it was biscuit week! That and my boyfriend and I had the sudden and insatiable need to eat cheese and crackers one evening led to my first attempt (and of course, experimentation) at making crackers! I decided to use a basic recipe for crackers and add different flavours. The recipe I chose was:  

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-crackers-at-home-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-186144

It proved to be a great basic recipe, although I think next time I’ll roll mine slightly thinner to get more of a snap when you bite into the cracker. I tested multiple toppings including sesame seeds, smoked paprika, garlic salt and parmesan and olive. The parmesan and olive worked particularly well, as did the garlic salt; I think the latter would work best with cheese. I’ll definitely be trying this recipe again soon to perfect my favourite cracker!

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The Wedding Cake Saga Part 1

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I hear wedding bells!! Two of my good friends have got engaged recently and have asked me to make their wedding cake! Your wedding cake is obviously a huge thing so I’m honoured to make one for such good friends. It’s going to be a long journey with lots of cake testing (it’s a hard life isn’t it?) and I thought you lovely readers might want to follow the journey so here’s part 1!

My friends are planning some really interesting things for their wedding and want to surprise people and that includes the cake… How do you surprise someone with cake I hear you ask? And no, I’m not planning on jumping out at people with cupcakes… I’m planning hidden designs and surprising, unique flavours.

The plan is to have a three tier cake, decorated with ombre style icing. I’ve not fully iced many cakes because I’m a big fan of buttercream and just haven’t attempted it much. Nonetheless, when I saw this ombre cake in BBC Good Food Magazine, I couldn’t wait to try it and it immediately sprung to mind when I was asked to make a wedding cake.

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/raspberry-caramel-ombre-cake

The cake itself was just a necessary perk and was moist and rich and full of caramel with bursts of raspberry.

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The icing was what I really focussed on… Unfortunately, I had to run out of the house in the middle of making the icing so it had to go in the fridge for an hour or so and had a few lumps as a result but never fear! The graduated colour was what I really wanted to practise and I was surprised at how beautiful it looked. I definitely love this style and will be trying it again with a range of different icing types and colours to find out the best combination for covering the wedding cake.

This was also the first time I’ve ever made anything out of icing and I chose to make pink roses as my first attempt. What do you think?

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The next part of the saga will probably be practising the bottom tier… a checker board Battenberg cake! I know you’re all dying to see what that becomes of so keep your eyes peeled for the next installment!

Oreo Cupcakes

At risk of being pelted with cake decorations, I am about to make a dangerous admission… I don’t like cupcakes. At least, I don’t like what cupcakes have become during the cupcake boom of the past few years. When I was growing up, if a cake was made at home and individually sized, it was called a fairy cake and cupcakes came in a pack of six from Lyon’s, they were chocolate flavoured and distinctly flat (and absolutely delicious I must add). 

 

However, for the past few years, cupcakes have become the fairy cake’s more dominant big brother and, for my liking anyway, have been covered in too much glitter. The frosting is crunchy and grates on the teeth and I generally preferred the buttercream topped fairy cake, perhaps with some sneaky sprinkles. Or so I thought and I have avoided cup cakes ever since until my boyfriend’s sister suggested I try making oreo cupcakes. I have been obsessed with oreos for years and they can lure me into most recipes so I decided to give it a go. What did I discover? Those crunchily iced, hard cup cakes were an unfortunate incident that’s kept me from enjoying cup cakes all these years. Apparently, if cup cakes are done right, or at least home made, they can taste delicious and have endless possibilities. My faith in the cup cake has been restored! 

I particularly loved this recipe because there is half an oreo nestled at the bottom of each cup cake and the frosting was spot on – not too sickly but tasted enough of oreo to tie the cake together like an oreo cake sandwich. My boyfriend and I both agreed that they were absolutely delicious but would have benefited from a layer of jam above the oreo just to give it a kick and next time I make these, I’ll definitely be trying that for a sudden burst of fruity flavour amongst the chocolate. I’ve always enjoyed the combination of oreo and strawberry anyway so I think it would work really well. 

 

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The recipe can be found here: 

http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/657083

It says makes 11 but I only managed to get 9 out of my mix but maybe I just like extra large cupcakes… 

Tuesdays with Dorie – Gingerbread Baby Cakes

So even though I posted this morning about snow and advent calendars (and this post only just published for some reason), I haven’t felt very Christmassy at all today. Even watching a co-worker put up the Christmas tree didn’t put me in the festive spirit but baking these little cakes did! This is my first Tuesday with Dorie and I think it’s been highly successful! I chose to make muffin sized cakes because I didn’t have small cake pans and I also chose to omit the espresso powder and black pepper because I didn’t have any espresso powder and black pepper always makes me cough. I think the omission of these made the amount of molasses in the mixture too much for me so if I were to make them again, I’d put less molasses in and a little more of the ginger perhaps. I coupled mine with vanilla ice cream and it was a delicious combination… like an adult brownie and ice cream dessert. If you’d like to see how everyone else’s turned out then please visit the Tuesdays with Dorie blog and if you’d like to try the recipe yourself, either buy the book or have a look at this week’s host blog Karen’s Kitchen Stories; thanks to Karen for hosting!

Here’s a couple of photos just to tempt you as well:

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It’s snowing! (On WordPress at least…) and the Good Food Show!

I turned on my blog this morning to find small white circles falling down my screen and confusion ensued! What could they be? Is my computer going wrong? But no! The circles kept coming and I realised that they must be snow! This, combined with opening a chocolate advent calendar, clearly means it’s nearly Christmas! How exciting, I know!

On Saturday, I went to the winter BBC Good Food Show, which of course made me feel even more Christmassy! I’m a firm believer that the Good Food Show is always a brilliant day out; you get to meet some of your favourite chefs, sample products you wouldn’t normally know about and generally just have a good day entirely about food. However, it always astounds me that there is a severe lack of GOOD food to eat for your lunch. Sure, you could queue up for twenty minutes to buy a pork bap for double the price that you would at your local village fete but the alternatives are even worse. I thought I would be fairly safe going to the Good Food show stand but how wrong was I? I had a burnt rosti-topped fish pie that tasted of nothing but black pepper, which made me choke. I followed it with an apple flapjack crumble that mainly tasted of the whole cloves that I found scattered all over it. Sufficed to say, I was not happy and had to take the food back. Now, I know it’s not the Good Food show’s fault as they hired outside caterers but frankly, I wouldn’t hire the company again.

Anyway, that’s enough on the bad points because the good points far outweigh them! I got to see Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, Shelina Permaloo and Jo Wheatley cooking. The highlight however was watching John Whaite, the winner of this year’s Great British Bake Off, demonstrate cooking his festive sticky toffee pudding. He was so natural, didn’t seem nervous and was just so lovely. If he doesn’t have his own television show within the next year, then TV producers are missing a trick! I’m really glad that I managed to speak to him but I’d have liked to have had a proper chat with him. He’s really inspired me further to apply for the Great British Bake Off this year…what do you guys think?

Anyway, I got a few treats to try at the Good Food show (all of the baking persuasion of course) and when I’ve sampled them all, I will be posting my verdict! If you haven’t been to the Good Food show yet, then you should definitely give it a go; it’s a great day out for all the family (and no I don’t work for them!)

Receiving flours…

I’ve never been one for receiving flowers; they make me sneeze, they don’t last very long and they’re very expensive to buy so people simply don’t buy them for me. However, this past weekend, for my 21st birthday, my parents decided to give flours; not flowers, but flours. A large, and rather heavy, box encased in purple wrapping and adorned with ribbons was holding seven types of flour. What a brilliant idea! This not only inspired me to find some interesting recipes to utilise these flours but also inspired me to start this blog. Just for those of you who don’t know but the box of flours concept was from a film called ‘Stranger than Fiction’, which if you haven’t seen, you should; where the main character gives a box of coloured flours to the love interest, who is a baker.

Baking has become somewhat of a ritual for me, it relaxes me and the products are always happily gobbled up by friends and family. It seemed an appropriate time to begin a blog because of this brilliant gift and because I will be embarking on a trip to Paris tomorrow, on which I intend to try out as many patisseries as possible and post about my findings on this blog.

Feel free to write to me about baking if you want to; I can offer advice to beginners and there will be plenty of recipes to come!