A crochet Summer

Cat Blanket!Well I may not have blogged much over the summer but I was a crochet demon. There has been a miniature baby boom this year and there is another one due next March 🙂

As my children are all grown up now and I didn’t know how to crochet when they were small it has been a real pleasure to be able to produce blankets and booties.IMG_1915

I have been amazed at how long I have maintained this hobby of mine. I do have a habit of flitting from one project to the next. Crochet has truly soothed my creative cravings and my scattered mind 🙂 Double prizes.

The baby star blanket is one of The Crochet Crowds Patterns and the pattern can be found here

The yellow blanket and Dylan’s blanket are both granny squares that have been put together using the join as you go method. The original pattern for Claire’s surprise blanket was a hexie blanket found in Simply Crochet Magazine. Can’t find the original one but they have loads on their site and ravelry has even more.

The little boys shoes are from Two girls patterns, I love these patterns. Fiddly but soo worth it.

Hope you like them as much as me,

Enjoy,

Lx

Baby Alice's Star blanket

Baby Alice’s Star blanket

Amanda's new baby cousins' blanket

Amanda’s new baby cousins’ blanket

Claire's surprise blanket

Claire’s surprise blanket

Baby Dylan's Blanket

Baby Dylan’s Blanket

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Yummy Focaccia style bread

IMG_0011Before I go to far into this recipe, I must thank my daughter in law to be for the wonderful photography. I am truly amazed by how yummy she has made bread and tomatoes look 🙂 Jasmine Poole you are a wonder 🙂 check out her wonderful website 

I have been using this recipe for ages. My kids have referred to it over the years as Your Focaccia. I am pretty sure there was an actual recipe that I followed at some point but I honestly don’t know which one. I often make this when I know I have either the whole family home or friends coming over. It’s an easy to make bread (I think) that I happily serve with olives, antipasti and olive oil with a smidge of balsamic. It also magically turns into burger buns when cut into squares. The other week we had it with roast chicken that had been marinated in honey and turmeric 🙂 The only thing I would suggest is a must is a good solid food mixer. You can of course knead by hand but the mixture is pretty wet so the mixer makes light work of this hard sticky job.

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Ingredients:

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 325ml warm water
  • 10g sea salt, crushed plus extra for sprinkling on top later
  • 7g fast action yeast
  • a good drizzle or 4 of olive oil. I prefer the light one but your choice. Rapeseed oil is good here too although I am sure not correct for a focaccia.
  • dried herbs – rosemary is traditional but I often use whatever is to hand.

Method:

  • In your mixer bowl. Put in your water first and then your dry ingredients. Make sure your salt is away from the yeast. Or even mix the salt in with the water first.
  • Set your mixer with the dough hook to the lowest speed and mix for 10-13 minutes or so. As it is mixing drizzle in a good slug of olive oil. This is easier if you do this fairly early on in the process. You want a lovely smooth dough that’s nice and stretchy.
  • Once mixed, unhook your dough hook and pop a plastic cover of some sort over the top of your bowl. Shower cap is the best way to do this, makes the job so much easier. You can pick them up from eBay easily for pennies or make sure all your friends bring back the shower caps from their hotel stays 🙂 I honestly am never happier than when someone gives me their free shower cap (not used though!!)
  • Leave your gorgeous dough to rise for an hour or so till doubled in size. This can take longer, worry not. Keep it cozy and draught free and that will help.
  • Flour the tray you will bake it on and pop your risen dough on top and gently push it out to a sort of rectangle shape.
  • Leave to prove again for about half an hour whilst your oven heats up to whatever the top setting is.
  • Your lovely dough needs a couple of finishing touches before you stick her in the oven. First give your dough lots of deep dimples with your fingers and then drizzle over some more olive oil. Sprinkle your salt and herbs and then pop in your piping hot oven.
  • Cook at this high temp for the first ten minutes only and then turn your oven down to between 180 and 200 depending on how feisty and fan assisted your oven is. Then cook her for about another 20 minutes. Again you will need to watch and see how fast your oven is. What you want is a loaf that looks golden, smells fab and makes a hole sounds when tapped on the bottom.
  • Cool on a wire rack for as long as the family will allow, although it does slice more easily if it is cool.

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Enjoy,

Lx

Peanut Butter Shortbread cookies with a salted caramel peanut sauce/topping/filling :) and a very messy kitchen

IMG_2158Well after a short break (of many many months) I have decided to bake something new to me.

Over the last year with moving house and an op, I have not baked much. When I have it’s been sticking to the old faithfuls recipes that I know off by heart.

Had a look through my first Bake Off Book and found a recipe for Ruth’s Shortcake Biscuits. The recipe includes how to make a salted peanut caramel, I have never attempted this before. The cunning plan here was to make hubby a batch of biscuits that I would not be tempted to eat. I do not like peanuts at all 😦 YUCK

The end result is supposed to be two biscuits with the caramel filling inside. My caramel was a little on the runny side but as it took me three attempts to get this far I went for it. Not sure i would ever make caramel again, it seems way trickier than I would like for a sauce that could be bought fairly easily in a shop!

Anyway here is the recipe in all it’s complicated glory.

Ingredients for the shortcake

  • 440g unsalted softened butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of good quality crunchy peanut butter
  • 680g plain flour

Ingredients for the caramel filling/topping/sauce 🙂

  • 300g caster sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cold water
  • 100g unsalted butter, diced
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes – to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped salted peanuts

You can also make a peanut praline to crumble on the top but I chose not to make any more caramel at this point. Feel free to experiment, I felt that this recipe had plenty of sugar going on by this point.

Method

  • Cream the butter and sugar together from the shortcake ingredients. Keep going till they are creamy and paler in colour.
  • Beat in the peanut butter.
  • Add sifted flour and bring together to a soft dough. You may need to get in there with your hands but be warned it is super sticky.
  • Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 15 minutes.
  • Roll out dough to a thickness of around 5mm, cut out rounds using a 6.5cm cutter. Chill those rounds for another 15 minutes and then bake in batches on lined baking sheets for 10-12 minutes, 180 degrees C. Once they are golden, pull them out and leave to firm up a bit on the baking tray before transferring to a cooling rack.
  • Meanwhile!! Ha ha ha, make the caramel. I really struggled with this as my sugar kept crystallising . The recipe calls for the water and sugar to go into a deep saucepan and then heat gently till sugar dissolves and then bring to boil. Once sugar syrup looks like a caramel colour take off heat add cream and butter taking care as they will splutter, swiftly mix and place back on heat. Mix on gentle heat for a minute or so to make smooth thick caramel sauce. Add the chopped peanuts and transfer to a heatproof bowl to cool.
  • I found this helpful page on sugar work online which explained some of the science beneath the sticky mess I made. Hey presto third attempt worked. I took it a little over so the caramel is quite dark but I think that takes the edge of the sweetness.

IMG_2153Anyway once you have your component parts and they are cooled you are supposed to sandwich them together. Not sure how my husband is going to manage to take these on a train tomorrow. The cookie is gorgeously short and therefore breaks at the mere suggestion of topping! No idea if these taste any good either, did try them out on the guys that just fixed our windows and they made some Om nom nom type noises so I’m assuming they are good 🙂

Really could have done with Jasmine Poole Photography here today, she always makes my food look really yummy.

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Enjoy,

Lx