Well for goodness sake, how is it March again already!!!

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!!

Cute Agnes

Enjoy,

Lx

Paul Hollywoods Great British Bake off technical challenge – Kouign Amann

IMG_0742 Along with the rest of the nation, my family and I watched The Great British Bake Off, September 17th episode. This featured a technical challenge that required a certain degree of skill in even pronouncing the item they were baking!

Kouign Amann is something I have never come across before, and as we found on the programme neither had any of the bakers. Inspired to try and bake something new and also persuaded by my first born (he wanted to know what they tasted like) I decided to have a go. I do have the current bake off book which is pretty much for sale everywhere but you can also go onto the BBC website for all the bake off news and recipes from each episode 🙂

IMG_0705The recipe for Kouign Amann can be found here

I would stress that you need to read the recipe thoroughly, it is an unusual one. Having said that, it is also a recipe using ingredients you are likely to already have in your cupboards, especially if you bake your own bread.

The other tips (bearing in mind I have made these just once) is that as you have sugar on these they will scorch. The recipe recommends that these are covered with foil halfway through to prevent this. I had run out and you can see how much mine caught from the pictures. You also need to set aside a lot of time, each stage doesn’t take long but you have lots of resting time in between stages. I would suggest that this is the perfect recipe to do on a day when you have lots to do round the house. I was a cleaning demon that day 🙂

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These little creations taste yummy, sort of danish pastry/chelsea bun .They taste lovely warm or cold but my preference is definitely eat them warm. I would think the recipe will work well with some sultanas pushed through it, although I’m sure Mr Hollywood would pout and shake his head at me!! Heigh ho, give it a go 🙂

Kouign AmannIMG_0751

Enjoy,

 

Lx

Banana bread cake a.k.a Banana Breakfast Ring. This is a real keeper, perfect for lunch boxes and as ever easy breezy to make.

IMG_9501As always I have to make the nod to Nigella, Feast. This was the first cook book that I really started to try recipes from. Up until that point I would read cook books and stare longingly at the pictures. Nigella’s book made me want to have a go. Her recipes are easy to follow and that is what I wanted to achieve for my family. A collection of recipes that are reliable, tasty and good value.

Ingredients:

  • 450g mashed bananas. 3 medium bananas is about right, I have never weighed them and the recipe works fine. No stress baking here. Make sure the bananas are very very ripe. You know the ones that sit in the fruit bowl until you throw them away, they are perfect for this.
  • 60ml corn oil. I never seem to have the right oil but vegetable/sunflower, even light olive oil all work fine.
  • 3 eggs, medium
  • zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 325g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. I tend to use vanilla paste for preference but whatever you have is as always fine! 🙂

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees c. My oven is a little feisty so I find that 160 degrees c is about right.
  • Oil your tin of choice, I have ring mould (1.5l) which makes the ring shaped cake that Nigella refers to but use whatever you have. I have also baked this cake using two standard cake tins and adjusted the cooking time. This is a really forgiving mixture so play around with whatever you have.
  • In a bowl put your mashed bananas, add the oil, eggs, lemon juice and zest, vanilla and sugar. Whisk together.
  • Then fold in your flour, bicarb and baking powder.
  • Pour your batter into your oiled tin/s.
  • Bake for around 40 minutes. As I said earlier you may need to adjust this depending on your tin choice. You’ll know it’s cooked when a skewer run through comes out clean and it has a bounce to it when gently pressed. I also find that when the teenagers start appearing it is nearly done. It does smell yummy when cooking.
  • Take it out of the oven and leave it for around 10 minutes before turning it out to cool properly.
  • This cake keeps for a good long while. I can usually add it to packed lunches for the week as well as snacks for after college. You can of course eat it as Nigella intended, for breakfast with a cuppa and a smidge of chocolate spread if you like.

Possibly one of the easiest recipes you will ever make,

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Enjoy,

Lx

Extra lemony lemon drizzle, soooooo yummy in your tummy :)

January is a tricky month to get motivated generally. Last week  my middle son asked me for a lemon drizzle cake. As he is my favourite child (don’t tell the others!) his wish was my command.

The following recipe was taken from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. She has called it the Lemon syrup loaf cake, which is posh for lemon drizzle!

As ever I have tweaked it a teeny tiny bit and have also adjusted the cooking temperature as well. This has been a long period of trial and error for me. I usually find small cakes cook great in my oven but larger cakes can be a bit hit and miss for me. I will of course give you Nigella’s recommended temperature but for my Stoves range oven, fan assist I had to reduce the temperature 20-25 degrees C. Timings remained the same.

Ingredients:

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • zest of 1 lemon ( if you want the extra lemonyness add the zest of 2)
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 4 tablespoons of milk or for my version add 2 of milk and 2 of buttermilk
  • pinch of salt

23 x 13 x 7 cm loaf tin, buttered and lined with greaseproof

For the syrup:

  • Juice of 1 and a half lemons (about 4 tablespoons) although add more or less to taste
  • 100g icing sugar

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C/gas mark 4. As I said in my intro you may need to adjust according to your oven.
  • Cream together your butter and sugar. Do spend a bit of time on this. The more you blend and mix the lighter the cake mixture will be. Cream until smooth and pale.
  • Beat your eggs and add them to the butter and sugar mixture. Add the zest too. Mix well.
  • Then add in your flour and salt, folding them in with a gently touch.
  • Finally add your milk or milk and buttermilk combo.
  • Spoon the mixture into your prepared loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes.
  • While your cake is cooking gently heat the lemon juice and icing sugar for your syrup until the icing sugar has dissolved.
  • Stick a skewer in to check it if cooked. It should come out clean if properly cooked.
  • Immediately skewer your cake all over to create holes that you can then drizzle your syrup into. Pour it slowly or even spoon it on taking care to make sure that the whole cake gets a good soaking.
  • Leave the cake in it’s tin to cool. Do not try and take it out of the tin before it’s cold or risk collapse. Having said that we have done this before. We were too hungry and it smelled too good, so although it collapsed it tasted great 🙂
  • According to Nigella this serves 8-10. In my household it tends to serve a family of five with one who doesn’t like lemon cake! Share if you must, but there is pleasure to be had with a couple of your favourite offspring, a pot of tea and a slab of this cake.

Enjoy,

Lx

Lemon drizzle cake

Really Ugly Chocolate Gingerbread, tastes fabulous though

I have not been baking much lately. Silly really, as it is my greatest ally in the hunt for stress relief. Anyway, decided the other day that we needed something gorgeous to end the day with. So I dug out my old favourite, Nigella Feast, and proceeded to make the Chocolate Gingerbread, with of course a couple of additions of my own.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 125g dark muscovado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 200g black treacle
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml milk
  • 275g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa
  • 175g chocolate chips

For the icing:

  • 250g icing sugar
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 60ml ginger ale

The ingredients above work really well but I have added a few additions of my own.

For Lorna’s icing:

  • 200g icing sugar
  • 2 pieces of stem ginger ( the ones in the syrup) finely chopped
  • A little syrup from the stem ginger jar
  • Some warm water
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C
  • Line a tin measuring around 30cm x 20cm x 5cm
  • In a sturdy, large saucepan put all your sugars, syrups, butter and your spices. Gently melt them together and then take them off the heat. Let them cool a little.
  • In a small cup (I usually use an espresso cup) mix your bicarbonate of soda and the water.
  • To your syrup mixture, beat in your eggs, milk and the bicarb mix. Make sure the mixture isn’t too hot or your eggs will scramble!
  • Then fold in your dry ingredients.
  • The chocolate chips are added then ( this is an easy one to leave out though, the cake is plenty chocolatey already!)
  • Pour your mixture into your prepared tin and bake for around 45 minutes till the top is risen and firm to touch.
  • Let the cake cool on a wire rack.
  • Now this cake is lovely without icing, in fact if you leave out the chocolate chips it has the texture of a jamaican ginger cake and as such is lovely eaten on a Sunday afternoon with a nice cup of tea. However if you are feeling indulgent then the icing is a dead easy addition.
  • For Nigella’s icing – sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. In a saucepan melt the butter with the cocoa and ginger ale and then combine the ingredients to make a gorgeous glace icing. Pour over your cool cake and consume.
  • For my icing – in a bowl sieve your icing sugar and cocoa and add the chopped stem ginger. Then add about 2 tablespoons of your syrup and a little warm water. Mix to the consistency of a pouring glace icing. Pour over your cooled cake.

Well, what can I say. This cake is a family favourite and also keeps for days. In fact the longer it keeps the better it tastes. It’s not the prettiest of cakes, the icing has lumpy bits of ginger in it that somewhat ruin the aesthetic! But it is yummy and that more than make up for it’s ugliness.

Enjoy

Lx

Mini Pavlova with chantilly cream and strawberries.

Well long time no blog again. I really must post more frequently. The whole point of me blogging recipes, was so that my offspring would be able to prepare tasty treats, even if I am unavailable, either through death (bit extreme) or if by some miracle I decide to get a life. Actually kids or no kids I suspect I will always be baking as I do indeed love it. I also love how smiley people become when you have fed them something that clearly delights. The following recipe was one of those happy moments. Downside, I can’t bake this too frequently as it is one of my absolute favourites and I have been known to eat this for breakfast if there happens to be some left over!!

Ingredients:

  • 500g caster sugar
  • 8 egg whites
  • 600ml pot of double cream
  • 1 or 2 teaspoonfuls of vanilla paste
  • Icing sugar ( to taste for the chantilly cream )
  • Fruit of your choice – british strawberries of course at this time of year are the best but raspberries, blueberries work equally well.
  • One or two baking sheets lined with baking parchment.

 

 

 

 

 

Method:

  • Heat up your oven to 180 degrees C or gas mark 4
  • In a clean bowl ( must be spotlessly clean in order to achieve super stiff peaks on your meringue!!) put in your egg whites and whisk until the mixture is firm and forming those stiff peaks! It should stay in the bowl if you up end it over your head.
  • Then gently whisk in spoonful by sparkling spoonful of your caster sugar. Your meringue should become firm and shiny. Gorgeous like you.
  • Dollop your meringue onto your prepared baking sheets. You can either make one or two pavlova bases with this mix or around a dozen or so mini pavlovas. It really does depend on how generous you are. Don’t make them too small as quite frankly this is not a recipe to worry about portion control.
  • Once you have your pavlova/s ready to go in the oven. Pop them in and immediately turn the oven down to 150 degrees C and then bake for 1 & 3/4 hours for a large pavlova or 30 minutes for the smaller ones. Then turn the oven off and leave the large one in the oven (door open) until it is cool. The little ones can be left in for 30 minutes oven off door shut and then remove from the oven to cool completely.
  • For your chantilly cream, pour the double cream into a bowl and whisk until you have thick custard consistency cream. To this gently whisk in your icing sugar and vanilla paste. I use a hand whisk at this stage as if you over mix your cream will be too think and hard to work with. I find a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar is adequate  but really adjust to suit you and yours.
  • Once your pavlova is cool you can dollop the top with cream and your chosen fruit.

Enjoy

Lx

Vanilla Butter Cream icing

I have had a bit of a cupcake phase over the last few weeks as you can see from the last couple of blogs. Actually, have made a few hundred cupcakes over the last couple of weeks for various events including of course The Diamond Jubilee. The one thing I have been asked for the most is the recipe for the butter cream so over the weekend I finally wrote down the ingredients. Up until last week my butter cream had always been a bit improvised. Actually I still think that you should play around with this recipe if you like, use it as a starting point and go from there.

Ingredients:

  • 125g really, really soft unsalted butter
  • 350g icing sugar
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or paste. The paste is lovely and adds all the pretty seeds to your icing.
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons hot water

Method:

  • Put all your ingredients into a bowl and then carefully, using a wooden spoon initially, combine your ingredients into a paste. You may need to add a little more water, add it in tiny amounts as a little goes a long way.
  • Once you have blended your ingredients you can then start mixing using an electric hand whisk. You can do this manually, but you will be there for ages. With the electric mixer I recommend that you mix your buttercream for at least 3-5 minutes if not longer. The buttercream will become pale, fluffy and creamy.
  • Do taste it, you can add any extra of your original ingredients to this to suit your taste buds. More sugar to sweeten, more butter to add creaminess or more vanilla to get that yummy panna cotta flavour.

Enjoy,

Lx

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Variety pack of yummy treats

A very sad day last week for myself and several colleagues who were made redundant. I was one of the lucky ones and managed to secure another post at the same organisation ( only 2 days a week but should give me more time to bake – YAY positive side )Image

In celebration of all my amazing colleagues ( two of whom have set up a fab new venture http://www.tdp-training.org.uk/ ) I decided to make a selection of yummy treats. Some of my cakes were prettier than others. The Lemon drizzle cupcakes look very sad really but taste so scrumptious I ate 4 before I even got to work. ( I will never be a size 12 again 😦 )

I have posted the recipe for the Millionaires Shortbread before so no need to repeat. The other cakes are both versions of a basic vanilla cupcake recipe, in fact they are based on my Mums original 4,4,4 and 2 recipe which you can find on my home page https://clarkfamilyhandbook.wordpress.com/about/.

Lemon drizzle fairy cakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of 4,4,4,2 fairy cakes. This makes either 16 small traditional fairy cakes as shown above or 9 muffin sized cupcakes.
  • 1 lemon
  • about 50g icing sugar but more or less according to how much of a sweet tooth you have.
  • a skewer or cocktail stick

While your fairy cakes are baking, put the juice of your lemon and the icing sugar into a teeny saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. This only takes moments.

When your cakes are cooked, pull them out of the oven and using a skewer puncture the little cakes all over so that you can then gently spoon on the lemon syrup which will then soak in. This needs to be done as soon as they come out of the oven. Leave your cakes to cool in the baking tin. I was a little impatient removing mine and the cases came away from the cases, not very pretty. They still taste yummy though.

Summer Fruits cupcakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of 4,4,4,2 fairy cakes. This makes either 16 small traditional fairy cakes as shown above or 9 muffin sized cupcakes
  • one 300ml carton of double or whipping cream
  • icing sugar to taste
  • vanilla extract or paste. ( I prefer the paste )
  • fruits of your choice – I used raspberries and blueberries.

This time you need to make sure your cakes are cooled as the cream topping won’t sit well on hot cakes.

Whip your cream and vanilla extract until it is just holding it’s shape. Careful with this as cream thickens all of a sudden. Then with a hand whisk mix in some icing sugar if you like. I like the flavour of this with the vanilla and cream plus it seems to hold it’s shape better especially if your cakes are being iced a few hours beforehand. Once you are happy with this place your mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and then pipe your swirls onto your cakes. Pop your fruits on and then lightly dust the cakes with icing sugar. Gorgeous.

Enjoy

Lx