This year, we decided to try a different recipe for the gingerbread house. Previous years have been a little hit and miss whether it would stay up or not. I really wanted a house to stay the christmas distance. After some internet browsing we settled on the Paul Hollywood recipe found on the saga website.
Nice straightforward recipe. The main differences for me was that the syrups were a measured amount (my previous recipe was spoonfuls of syrup which is why I believe my results have not been consistent) and the ingredients are put together by bread crumbing the dry ingredients and then adding the wet. This gave me quite a soft dough but after resting it in the fridge for the recommended time it firmed up nicely.
Pros – What I liked about this recipe was that the dough rolled out nicely and after baking there was hardly any spreading of the mixture. The shapes stayed true which made putting the house together much easier. The house stayed up for days and days, even once we started to nibble at bits of it.
Cons – The downside was, no offcuts – caused in the past by the spreading and then the need to trim 😉 The other big difference for us was (I felt) it simply wasn’t as tasty as my previous houses. The gingerbread had a much drier texture, more biscuity and wasn’t particularly well flavoured.
It’s tricky to know which way I will go next year as it was lovely to have a house look fab for so long but I missed the flavour of old faithful.
Anyway, enjoy the pics. As always, decorated with royal icing and a selection of sweets and treats.
Week 11 – a weekly challenge is proving to be more of a challenge than I can manage!!!
So here I am, 11 weeks into this challenge I set myself with no make or bake achieved this week. Not the plan for this blog.
However, as we all know life can get on the busy side. I have been busy spending time with my offspring. Mainly the youngest who popped home Wednesday evening for a long weekend home. We have tackled lots of very important issues over tea and pastries, including but not limited to – what colour sofa should we get next? whats for dinner? and is it ok to have a nap now? Really important stuff. We did also discuss this blog and things that we could incorporate into it and so it was decided that this week I could write about things I would like to make and do and take the opportunity to point you all at some of the wonderful blogs and websites out there that I use for inspiration.
Moogly – this is pretty much my top go to blog for crochet inspiration. Tamara Kelly is the lady behind this work. Its a great site full of top 10 patterns for various things. Lots and lots of free patterns. It is an American site so generally using US terms for crochet patterns.
Attic 24 – love this site, particularly for colour inspiration and stitch choices. She has beautifully clear instructions. Her blankets are a thing of beauty and kits can be bought too.
Ravelry – this is a fabulous resource that I’m sure most of you have come across before. Lots of free patterns as well as paid for patterns.
Etsy – again another that most are familiar with. I have used this particularly to buy patterns for baby shoes as well as slippers. There are tons of free patterns out there but sometimes you need the security of a tried and tested pattern. With paying for a pattern you often get the support of the designer as well. Two girls patterns are a huge favourite and really great for responding to questions too.
Den Dennis – a designer from the Netherlands. The Amigurumi patterns on this site are a mixture of free and paid for and also a mixture of languages. Although a lot of the patterns are available in English. Do try some of the free patterns to get an idea of he puts his patterns together. You can buy patterns on Ravelry and Etsy too though. Great value patterns, easy to follow and consistently good results.
All about Ami – another great site for amigurumi, household items and clothes to make. Her site is a treat for the eyes too, I may have a go at making her gorgeous cardigan in the Autumn.
Its all in a nutshell – Esther runs this marvellously generous, fab site full of wonderful ideas and superb video tutorials. Lots of CALS (crochet alongs) to be inspired by.
Look what I made – another fabulous crochet site featuring most famously Sophies Universe. Dedri Uys is the designer of this blog. Featuring loads of free patterns that you will need to make 🙂
Crystal and Crochet – this site, run by designer Helen Shrimpton features paid for and free patterns. The mandala madness is a must 🙂
The Friendly Red Fox – my latest find and love, full of free patterns and super tutorials. A must if you love Amigurumi.
BBC good food – this site is so easy to use. You can search by ingredient, recipe or keyword. Because it is such a reliable site and utilises so many chefs works, you can pretty much use just this site.
Madhur Jaffrey – Having not been a curry fan for many years, when I finally decided to start having a go at finding flavours that spoke to me, it made sense to look at Madhur Jaffreys books. She has been on the scene for many years, all the recipes that I use from mainly her book Curry Easy have been reliably easy to use and generally these days the ingredients have been easy to source. If you are not a fan of coriander like me then do try some of her recipes. Gorgeous flavours, varying levels of heat and lots that don’t use coriander 🙂
Nigella – not a lot I can say here really is there. I do prefer her sweet recipes with the Christmas recipes being used year on year.
The Great British Bake Off – every year since this cooking programme started there has been a companion book. I have bought almost all of them. You can however get hold of many of the popular recipes on their site direct. My Stem Ginger cookie recipe came from the first Bake Off Book and is consistently my most viewed recipe.
There is so much online these days. It can get a little overwhelming when looking for inspiration. Think that is why my go to list is possibly on the small side. There are of course loads more sites, books, magazines that I use but sometimes it’s nice to have slightly fewer choices to make 🙂
Keep it simple perhaps.
P.S Next week, I will have a few more granny squares made for the 49 week granny blanket as well as something made!! (or not, depends on what inspires me 🙂 )
Ok, so should anyone be paying attention. Last week should have been week 6, but it was sunny and a bank holiday weekend 🙂 So I did other stuff 🙂 Hope you all took advantage of the weather. If I’m honest it was a teensy bit warm for me but no worries it has already cooled down.
Today I have decided to bake a cake. Oh what a surprise she says!!! I really should broaden my cooking and baking, but I do love a cake 🙂
This recipe is from Nigella’s How to be a domestic goddess. As ever I have tweaked the recipe a bit to suit me. The main issue with this recipe (to be fair Nigella does mention this too) is that it can take anything from 30 minutes to 1 hr 10 to cook this cake. It means that you will be oven hovering for a while armed with a skewer!! My oven took 45 minutes to cook this today. You know your oven best, whatever happens, you should start checking from 30 minutes.
225g soft unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs
50g plain flour
225g ground almonds
1/2 tsp almond essence
grated zest and juice of two lemons
21-23cm springform cake tin, greased and lined on the bottom
Now this is where I tweak things slightly. Ground almonds tend to come in 200g bags. This is technically not enough for this recipe if you follow Nigella’s list above. The last thing I want to do when I bake a cake is to buy more stuff than I need, and have it sitting around until I need whats left. So I use my 200g bag of ground almonds and top up with plain flour. I have made it as per Nigella’s recipe and with my alteration. I cannot spot any difference. My other addition is 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate and if you have it a large spoonful of buttermilk or yoghurt. You can leave these additions out but I find they lighten things a bit so the cake is less dollopy !!
Preheat oven to 180 degrees c
Cream together your butter and sugar till light, fluffy and pale.
Beat in your eggs one at a time with a 1/4 of the flour after each egg.
Gently stir in your ground almonds or ground almond/flour combo/bicarb/baking powder and buttermilk.
Then add almond essence and zest and juice.
The mixture will look very close to splitting. First time I made this cake I added more flour because I thought, yikes it is far too wet. Resist, I promise it will be fine. The whole point of this cake is a damp (hence the title) texture. Sounds yuck but tasted scrum.
Pop your mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for around an hour. As I mentioned before, start checking after 30 minutes, popping a skewer in. You want the skewer to come out cleanish. Think damp!! If it looks like it needs longer but is browning too much, give it a tinfoil hat and pop it back in the oven. I would suggest checking every 10/15 minutes or so.
Once cooked, leave it in its tin for 5 minutes to cool before turning it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling properly.
Nigella then tells us to wrap it in foil and leave it for a couple of days before serving. This does of course improve the flavour and texture of this cake but I have never left a cake hanging around for days. It tastes yummy eaten straight away with icing sugar sieved on and served with fresh raspberries and a cup of tea.
P.S As part of this year long project, I decided to make a granny square every week. Colour generally inspired by that weeks make (or what is in my scrap basket!!) This week I have made a lovely raspberry coloured square inspired of course by the raspberries. Really quite liking how the colours are starting to go together.
I have posted a recipe for a lemon drizzle cake before but I believe that this may be the “one”.
Every time I bake a lemon drizzle I have a problem with it. Under baked is my usual issue but struggle to avoid this without burning the edges and top to a cinder. Anyway my previous post for a Nigella lemon drizzle can be found here, you can see from the pictures that it was definitely on the scorched side. It did taste ok but it wasn’t great.
This recipe can be found in the first Bake off book. This is the book that also gave me the best chewy ginger cookie recipe, click here for that one.
This lemon drizzle recipe calls for the all in one method. It’s not a method I have used really but it truly is about as easy a cake to mix as you can get. As long as you have some sort of electric mixer device 🙂
For the cake mixture
200g unsalted butter, very very soft
250g caster sugar
3 medium eggs, beaten at room temp
finely grated zest of 2 medium unwaxed lemons
250g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100ml room temp milk ( I substituted butter milk as my preference for cakes)
for the topping
100g caster sugar (I substituted icing sugar, works fine)
juice of 2 medium unwaxed lemons
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
A 20cm Springform deep round cake tin, greased and lined with greaseproof paper
Love, love, love this method. Do make sure your butter is super soft and your flour is sifted.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c
Simply put all the ingredients in a bowl and using either a food mixer or hand electric mixer. Blitz till it resembles cake mix.
Dollop your batter into the tin, lightly smooth into the edges, and bake till golden and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Recipe calls for 50-60 mins.
Your oven may mean you need slightly more or slightly less 🙂 start checking after 35 mins 🙂 My oven is definitely on the feisty side and so I probably could have taken my cake out 5 minutes before I did. She’s a little darker than I would have liked but no matter. This cake is all about flavour not looks 🙂
Meanwhile take your lemon syrup ingredients, pop them into a small saucepan and then heat together to create syrup.
Once you have your cake out of the oven. Leaving it in the tin. Poke holes all over it using a skewer/cocktail stick or whatever you have to hand. I did this once with a cork screw with some (not total) success.
Drizzle your syrup over the cake and encourage it to go into the holes. I tend to spoon it on so that I can do this.
Resist the temptation to take the cake out of the tin. You need to let it cool in the tin, while it soaks up the syrup.
Make a cup of tea. Take your cake out of it’s tin, place on a plate, cut a large slice.
Patience rewarded. Om nom nom
It’s really not a very pretty cake, but it is super yummy 🙂 as you can tell from the crumb covered plate at the back there!!!
Not entirely sure that I have thought this through. Whilst having a leisurely weekend with my youngest offspring (I think we relaxed too much) , we have decided that a blog challenge would be “good for me” and her!!! All the lols 🙂
The plan in a nutshell is – once a week, blog about a thing that I have made that week.
The criteria for the things are as follows:
It must be either a baked thing or a crocheted thing.
It must be achievable in a short period of time – either an evening, an afternoon or a weekend. So for arguments sake we have decided on 2-4 hour projects or one, up to 8 hour project. That way I can have time to do stuff I have to do and still feel like I am enjoying my hobbies.
My youngest can set some of the challenges! (yikes)
Blog about the recipe or pattern. Post pictures, how to’s etc every week on a Sunday.
The last was a clever (not really) addition of doing a granny square as well every week, that will over the year form a lap blanket. The colours each week will be inspired by the weather, season or what we feel like! This cunningly should work through my collection of tiny balls of yarn. All about the right size to maybe make one small granny square. At the end of 49 weeks (a number that makes a square) I will choose a colour and a border to put it all together.
As this is the first week, and we have only just planned this plan. I have only one thing to post. It is (drum roll please) the first granny square!! Inspired by the Spring feel of this weekend, I chose to do this in a lovely shade of meadow green. The yarn is Style craft Special DK. This is my go to yarn for pretty much every project. The yarn is consistently reliable and affordable. You can pick this up online really easily from WoolWarehouse or try your local garden centres. A few near me stock it, happy days.
So here she is. Number one of 49, simple Granny squares. DK yarn, 4mm hook, 4 rows. Here is a really simple, clear tutorial for the type I have made. Do have a google though. There are loads of these on YouTube.
Looking forward to seeing how this develops over the next few weeks.
Well, it turns out that 2017 was not my year to blog. I started out with good intentions and many many plans and then it was Christmas! Anyway, January 2018 is here and I found this recipe that I clearly intended on posting last Autumn. No pictures of the finished product but a fabulous picture of my cats, just because!
What a gorgeous Autumn day it is today. Sun is shining, leaves are crisp underfoot and I have been oh so virtuous today. Yoga class first thing and then a smidgen of housework. Socks are paired and the sofa cushions are plumped 🙂
Having had lunch I still feel a tad hungry and yearn for something yummy and homey. Decided to hunt down a decent flapjack recipe.
These days flapjack recipes all seem to be trying to reduce the butter and sugar content in order to make them healthy. Sadly this makes for dry and disappointing flapjacks. If you are after a healthy, low calorie snack that is low in sugar please search elsewhere. This is not the recipe for you! This recipe was found in my old faithful Good Housekeeping Step by Step cookbook. You can always pick up a copy of this somewhere relatively cheaply. I still have my Mums copy from 1957 as well as my shinier version bought more recently with, joy of joys metric measurements.
350g unsalted butter
275g golden syrup
225g golden caster sugar
450g rolled oats
1 tbsp ground ginger
I never seem to be able to completely adhere to a recipe and this one is no exception. I had some stem ginger in syrup in my fridge that looked lonely so I chopped that up and popped it in too. Entirely optional yummy extra. I thing sultanas would work too in this.
Grease and line a tin approx 18 x 28cm (your traybake type)
Heat oven to 180 degrees c
In a large saucepan, melt together your butter, golden syrup and sugar. I added my stem ginger pieces to this too as it will help them combine later.
In a bowl, mix your oats with your ground ginger and then add your syrupy liquid. Stir to combine.
Pop this mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes.
Keep an eye on it. After 32 minutes mine was going just a little to0 dark (rescued in the nick of time, still yum). You want it golden and still squidgy in the middle. Overcooked flapjacks are not yummy and are not worth the calories.
Leave to cool in the tin for a while before lifting out onto a cooling tray. Cut when cold in to 12 squares or 24 triangles depending on how you feel.
For those who really want to know (I didn’t want to know but the book very (un)helpfully gives the calorie count) 517 calories per large square!!! Yikes.
Well the last couple of days have seen a delightful shine in the air. Birds have been chirping, sky is blue with cottonwool balls of clouds dancing along (I know, the words are a tad whimsical but that’s how I feel today 🙂 enjoy it!). My garden is showing signs of life too. Lovely, although it is a teensy bit early so hope we don’t have too much of a downturn on the weather front (forecast is looking a little chilly ahead)
Anyway, I digress. I have found myself recently with a little time off. Apart from napping, I have also been crocheting like a demon and also a spot of baking again. Lovely.
Todays venture has resulted in a batch of lemon curd for my daughter to take back to Uni with her tomorrow so that she can make some lemon curd and white chocolate muffins. Check out my recipe here, for the lemon curd. Keeps for about two weeks in the fridge although we’ve never had it long enough to test that theory!!!
I am hoping she sends me some pics. I have also finally got all the pieces together for my latest blanket, here is a sneak preview of some of the pieces 🙂
The other thing I have been doing is trying to get better at my food photography skills, looking back over the last year to try and find a picture of spring flowers, I stumbled across some pics I took last year that never really got showcased. Apologies for the self indulgence but I really like them despite the fact that one of them is of the peel of a garlic bulb!!! Not to mention that this is the best pic I have produced in the last year (I think!)
I am such a lackadaisical blogger!!! I keep crocheting and lately baking a bit more too. Think to myself, mmm must write up a blog post about that and then promptly don’t. Anyway, the next few posts will (I hope) have new recipes and also some links to some exciting CAL’s (crochet a long) that are coming up or already started.
This post though is motivated by my sweetest, youngest child. In her third year at uni she has decided that it is time to embrace the baking genes that run deep in this family! Text received requesting a recipe for banana muffins. I directed her to my blog as that is where said recipe resides. Shock horror, the offspring has not read my blog. Rude!!!!
Anyway, once over the shock, we discussed the pitfalls of baking without scales and she went ahead and produced a delicious batch of muffins that she shared with her coworkers that weekend. happy days. I am looking forward to the next time she comes home so we can bake something together and post pics.
Although I don’t have a picture of her baking, I do have a really cute picture of Agnes!!
As always, Christmas Eve is made up of me and mine making gingerbread houses. See my previous Christmas posts for recipes (although there are very many fabulous ones online). This year we also made two miniature houses for gifts as well as a gingerbread star tree. I have to say Christmas Eve is truly my favourite day during the festive period. Have a wonderful time, love and sparkles xx
Not much baking seems to be happening these days in my household. The children have grown and are all busy living their lives. There simply isn’t the need for all the baking that I used to do. That coupled with my passion for crochet that has developed over the last few years has meant that baking has slipped from my daily routine.
I decided that this quite possibly was not the way forward for me. Welcome to my mini lime meringue tarts.
Sweet Shortcrust pastry
125g plain flour
50g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 medium egg yolks
50g caster sugar
4 medium egg whites
225g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp white wine vinegar
around 5 – 8 limes (depending on size), squeezed- warm them up first to get lots more juice and zested into the bowl
350g caster sugar
4 whole eggs
Firstly you need to make your pastry as this will need to be rested in the fridge for at least half an hour, an hour is better 🙂 Preheat your oven to 190 degrees c
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry –
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Chuck in your butter
Rub the butter in until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Using a fork you can then add your egg yolk and if needed a tsp or so of water.
Gather the dough together with your hands and wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge.
Once your pastry is rested you can line your tins. I used muffin tins that I had lightly greased with butter. I pricked the bottoms of the tarts and then baked for around fifteen minutes or so until they were just turning golden. Basically you want them around 90% done I think. This recipe was very much about winging it so play with it to suit. You can use baking beans if you wish, up to you. You could also make a large tart as well.
Whilst your pastry is chilling you can get on with your lime curd.
in a double boiler (one bowl over a saucepan of simmering water) pop all your ingredients, whisk together over a gentle heat until the sugar dissolves and then heat gently for around 20 minutes. Leave it to cool, it will get thicker. Hey presto lime curd. This will make a reasonable amount so any leftover curd can be popped into a jar and then stored in the fridge for up to two weeks, yummy spooned straight from the jar into my mouth 🙂 Other citrus fruit works just as well, lemons (obvs) but also orange and although I haven’t tried it I suspect grapefruit might be a bit yum too.
Meringue – whisk your egg whites until stiff peaks form. Mix your cornflour, vinegar and vanilla in a small separate bowl.
Add the sugar whilst whisking, a spoonful at a time. Once your mixture becomes stiff and glossy you can add your cornflour, vanilla and vinegar mixture. Whisk for another minute or so. Pop your meringue into a piping bag or you can spoon on the meringue. Whatever your creative juices require really.
This mixture makes enough meringue for a dozen tarts plus a couple of trays of meringue kisses or you could even make some small pavlova bases. It will depend on how much meringue you got out of your four eggs and how generous you were on the tarts 🙂
In your pre baked tart shells spoon in some curd and then pipe on or dollop on your meringue. Pop into your oven that is now around 190 degrees c for around 5 – 10 minutes, keep an eye, you want the meringue to start browning. Once they are going brown, turn your oven off and leave them in it with the door slightly ajar to finish drying out the meringue a bit more.
All of my recipe components came from the wonderful step by step cookbook by Good Housekeeping. I have had various versions of this over the years including my Mum’s 1957 version. Cannot recommend it enough. You can often find a version in charity shops and pretty cheaply online too. Have a hunt.