Banoffee Pie – The easy way.

One of the best things about the summer holidays is how much free time I have to experiment and try out new recipes. I was invited out for dinner a few weeks ago and I hate turning up empty handed so I offered to take dessert. Knowing both people liked banoffee pie I thought I’d give it a go. The recipe for banoffee pie that I followed was simple, quick and tasty and as you can see from the pictures below: foolproof.

20120828-080749.jpg

20120828-080800.jpg

20120828-080809.jpg

20120828-080819.jpg

20120828-080828.jpg

However, next time I make it I am definitely going to try to make banoffee pie from scratch as it might take longer but I’m sure the results will be even tastier and more impressive!

Just a short one this morning as I go back to planning! Happy Tuesday!

We all want some chocolate pudding.

My favourite chef is Nigella Lawson. I love her books, I love her tv show and I adore her recipes and haven’t found a single one yet that is impossible to make or uses difficult to find ingredients.

My blog post today brings you my favourite, ok top 5, Nigella recipe. Introducing to you Nigella’s Glitzy Chocolate Puddings

They are ever so easy to make and the approval they receive when you first reveal them and then the pleasure they elicit when they are sampled make you want to deny the simplicity of both the ingredients and the method.

20120827-081310.jpg

As you can see from the picture above, they are delicious with raspberries as a ‘healthier option’ and as well as sprinkling with Crunchie as the recipe suggests to add the glitz, I’ve added flakes of chocolate and for our engagement BBQ last year I served them with Sainsbury’s Sugar Stars. Clotted cream or double/whipped cream also add an extra level of naughtiness to these small, but perfectly formed puddings. I cannot go on enough about how highly I’d recommend these puddings. A fail safe for any dinner party occasion.

Savoury muffins part 2

I finished yesterday’s blog post with the promise of savoury muffins. I return, via a trip to Heathrow having dropped off my future brother-in-law, having fulfilled this.

Meet my breakfast muffins.

20120826-144502.jpg

I made the base for the muffins following this recipe: Base for savoury muffins

Helped my the husband to be who was my very able assistant in this, I then added 2 rashers of bacon (diced and fried), a tin of beans (150g tin) and 5 cocktail sausages (cooked and quartered).

20120826-144803.jpg

20120826-144829.jpg

20120826-144838.jpg

It sounds odd & extravagant but the small quantities of each ingredient meant that each of the 12 muffins I made had enough of each without being too much.
Once the mixture was combined I topped half with mushroom slices and all with a small amount of grated cheese.

I baked them for 20 minutes and then poked them with a knife to check they were cooked all the way through. I was a little worried by the bean juice but surprisingly they were exactly the right consistency!

20120826-145415.jpg

20120826-145424.jpg

This success has definitely proved that I am able to add my own twists to recipes.

Savoury muffins

I have a confession to make. Please don’t judge me. Sometimes I just don’t fancy something sweet. I’ll happily bake a batch of cupcakes for school or for friends but sometimes all I want is a savoury treat. There, it’s out in the open now.

A short while ago my friend baked some spinach and ricotta and some date and pancetta muffins. They were superb but I just knew they wouldn’t get eaten in my house so I searched around for some ‘plainer’ recipes.

The first muffin search term I used was ‘Marmite muffins’ as it’s an ingredient we always have in the house. I used the recipe from this website: Cheese and marmite savoury muffins

They were so easy to make and turned out like this:

20120825-083425.jpg

As I had friends over of an indoor picnic I decided to try another batch of something a bit different. Meet my cheese and bacon muffins:

20120825-083530.jpg

This is the recipe I followed: Cheese and bacon muffins

Inside they looked like this:

20120825-083800.jpg

They were deliciously light and had just the right amount of each ingredient to flavour the muffin. I’ll admit that I haven’t been brave enough to steer away from cheese based muffins, but who knows. It’s a bank holiday weekend and we’ve got a trip to the airport tomorrow so I may just have to whip up a batch of savoury breakfast muffins trying a new recipe! I’ll keep you posted.

Going to the chapel and we’re going to eat cake.

I’ve got weddings on the brain at the moment! Having spent the day working on my wedding dress yesterday it’s all I can think about! I will occasionally blog about my forthcoming wedding, although once term starts again I won’t have as much time to think about it.

We’re doing our wedding on a budget, because, although it’s an important day my fiancé and I know that it’s the vows that matter and everything else will just be good fun. I managed to pick up my dress for £37.50 from the Monsoon sale and I can’t describe it in great detail but it’s ivory and plain. I had tried on some dresses in Candy Anthony, all with a red petticoat, so of course I had to have one. Unfortunately Candy Anthony was a little out of my budget but the dresses were amazing and the staff were so kind and helpful.

My mum and I spent yesterday afternoon making a two tiered, bolt red petticoat and although I have to go back today to help it’s significantly cheaper than buying. Hobbycraft had all of the materials we needed too which made it easier. In total my wedding dress has reached the grand sum of £87.50!

20120824-062728.jpg

We began by making the top band before moving on to cut panels of dress net.

20120824-062837.jpg

20120824-062846.jpg

We used the step by step guide from; Petticoat

It’s well explained and easy to follow. I also made a long sash using the polka dot fabric.

Anyway, as I was saying – weddings on the brain! This has been the year of weddings. We’ve had 4 this year and we’ve got one left to go. One of my best friends got married in June & not only was I asked to be his best person but I also made their cake. It’s such a big thing for me and I really wanted to know if I could produce a cake big enough to feed 200 people.
I rented the tins cheaply at £1.50 per tin, whatever the size, from a local cake shop for a long weekend. The requirements I was given included the 2 bottom layers being fruit cake and then chocolate and then plain sponge.

For the fruit cake I used Delia’s largest fruit cake recipe and then split it between the 2 tins; Delia’s scaled up fruitcake

The chocolate cake was the Victoria sponge cake I blogged yesterday but with 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder. The finished product looked like this…

20120824-063752.jpg

Again, it was the icing that let me down, but the ribbon hid the few small errors that I made. It has given me the confidence to attempt my own and I was able to prove to myself that it was possible even though I had a good few sleepless nights worrying about it! It was also cheap to do. I like being able to complete projects on a budget and the total cost for tin hire, ingredients and the board was around the £50 mark and it was exactly to the bride and groom’s requirements.

I also spent yesterday putting together the goody bags for the children for our final wedding of the year. I raided Wilkinson’s with my list of 11 names and ages in hand and got each child a crafty project, colouring/brain teaser book, sweets and pencils for under the £50 budget.
As you can see each child has got quite a substantial hoard.

20120824-064607.jpg

I think that’s it for weddings in my blog for a while, hopefully should we complete the petticoat today there may be a picture tomorrow!

It’s my party and I’ll eat cake if I want to.

After spending the day with some close friends at Leysdown-on-sea yesterday I got thinking about all the other occasions that we’ve had get togethers and in all of them we usually have cake of some kind.
So, today’s blog is all about cake. Again. This time, shaped cakes.

Over the past couple of years I’ve spent a lot of time watching Ace of Cakes and I mean, a lot of time. I’ve always enjoyed baking and since I found the Hairy Bakers Victoria sponge recipe I haven’t used another. The recipe is really simple. Depending on how large you want the cake depends on how many eggs you use as this gives the weight for the rest of the ingredients.

Ingredients (for a 9″ circular tin)
3 eggs (weigh these with shells on to get the weight of the flour, sugar and butter)
Butter (I use stork SB margarine)
Caster sugar
Self raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method
1. Set the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
2.Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until soft, using a wooden spoon.
3. In a separate bowl, crack the eggs and then beat with the vanilla essence using a fork until the yolk, white and essence are combined.
4. Alternately sift in the flour and pour in the egg, but use a metal spoon to combine the ingredients.
5. Turn the oven to 180 degrees celsius and pour the mixture into 2 cake tins and bake for 20+ minutes, checking after 20 and cooking until a skewer comes out clean and the top is a golden brown colour.
6. When cooled spread jam and butter cream or whipped cream to ‘stick’ the two layers together and then dust with icing sugar.

A really basic recipe that I hope I haven’t missed anything from. The metal spoon and changing of the oven temperature have always produced really successful cakes so I haven’t changed it since discovering these two ‘tricks’.

The fun bit comes once you’ve made the cake and it’s cooled. Below are some of the designs I’ve produced for friends. None are perfect but they have all been received with amazement. For these cakes I’ve always used a large rectangular tin and used around 6 eggs.

20120823-072503.jpg

20120823-072512.jpg

20120823-072520.jpg

20120823-072526.jpg

20120823-072534.jpg

20120823-072547.jpg

20120823-072615.jpg

The Stitch cake took the longest at 7 hours including baking time. I was covered in blue and pink icing for days after but it was well worth the effort! My aim for next summer is definitely to attend some cake decorating classes to try to perfect the icing as my technique isn’t quite there yet. I’m being given a new cake making challenge soon, to produce a cake to a design but without icing… I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to meet this challenge yet, so eyes peeled in September for the results!

Cupcakes I have loved and lost.

Good morning!

I fully intend on blogging once a day over the summer holidays to share old recipes I have tried and, if the summer doesn’t go too quickly, new ones.

This morning, ice cream cone cupcakes. I made these with friends at the very beginning of the summer after seeing ice cream cupcakes pop up every time I searched online for new ideas. This is what they looked like;

20120822-063642.jpg

For this recipe we followed; Ice Cream Cupcakes

I had a friend who had recently come back from the U.S. and she’d brought back some Duncan Hines Frosting Creation packs. On these cupcakes I used the Cotton Candy flavour.

20120822-065253.jpg

We didn’t have the frosting starter the packet recommended so we just used the fail safe butter, icing sugar & dash of milk and combined the powder. As you can see it was a sturdy icing with an intense colour.

We were quite anxious during the baking process about the cones burning, but the low temperature that the recipe suggests prevents this. Next time I would have filled the cones a little over half-way as the sponge only just came above the top of the cone.

20120822-075344.jpg

All in all though, they were met with approval at my drama group (Out of the Asylum – OotA). Definately worth making even if it is just for the wow factor!