but when she got there the cupboard was bare…

It has been one of ‘those’ weeks. One of those weeks where you plod along quite happily during the working day and then come home to a mountain of bills, delayed trains (the h2b) and a list of household chores as long as your arm. Nevertheless, it’s the weekend and after a lovely evening with my bestie Queenie (who arrived armed with flowers AND wine)…

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I thought things were on the up. Food shop done and an Autumnal, yet soggy walk around Leeds Castle completed I set to work on the h2b’s Gan Gan’s 90th birthday cake. You would have thought this would be easy, but no, this is where I start to feel like Old Mother Hubbard. We had half the required amount of Stork SB butter (which I always use for baking), a third of the amount of self raising flour, just enough vanilla essence and only golden castor sugar. Cue a little stomping, sighing and maybe a few expletives. In the end I used plain and self raising flour with added baking powder, golden castor sugar and half Stork, half regular butter.

This is the mixture before it went in

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One half just out of the oven.

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I then realised that after using up all of the butter in the house I had none for buttercream. Cue more stomping, sighing and expletives until the h2b insisted I stop and leave the house to get the required ingredients. What would I do without the voice of reason that is Chris?!

To finish on a more positive note, the only way is up, right? Happy weekend everyone!

A little of what you (fondant) fancy.

I admit it. I have a problem. I love baking for other people!

After my tea cake escapades yesterday I was feeling a little guilty about how I hadn’t made enough for the staffroom. I had enough to give to my 2 taste testers (Trisha and Becki) and my family-in-law to be, but not enough without leaving us devoid of any.

On the drive back from my h2b’s gan gan I decided I would attempt some fondant fancies… The lessons I learnt from this? Follow the recipe!!! I admit that I tend to glance at recipes, pick out the key bits and then freestyle. This was my downfall today.

For the cake I used my usual sponge cake recipe: I weighed 3 eggs then used this weight for the self raising flour, butter & castor sugar.

I began by beating the sugar and butter before adding the beaten eggs (with a teaspoon of vanilla extract) and sifted flour a little at a time. I use a metal spoon as I heard from somewhere that a metal spoon creates a reaction to make the sponge airier. It always works for me! I then baked for 20 minutes in an oven set at 180 degrees Celsius.

This is where I went wrong. I made buttercream icing using butter, milk and icing sugar and royal icing using food colouring, icing sugar and water. I then cut the sponge without measuring and made clumsy looking squares.

I put a blob of buttercream on each before coating the sponge squares with the icing.

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I then drizzled with orange icing. The h2b laughed at how ‘cute’ they were!

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I doubt Paul Hollywood or Mary Berry would even want to taste them!

They’re not perfect and I’m still not sure they’ll even be taken to school, but I tried and definitely decided that next time I will follow this recipe as Mary Berry definitely knows best!

Time for tea.

Happy Saturday! I have been busy baking since 11 this morning and I have to say I’m quite proud of my results.

Inspired by Salt, Pepper and a Dollop of Cream’s (which is a blog I would definitely recommend following) I attempted my own tea cakes. My only dilemma, I was too impatient to wait and order tea cake moulds. So I used my initiative and used silicone cupcake cases. You’ll have to read on to find out how they turned out…

I made the biscuits first and really took my time over each step. I followed the recipe from The Great British Bake Off Showstoppers cookbook but it’s also on the BBC website here.

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I followed advice and made them approximately 3mm thick and they cooked for 12 minutes. The mixture made 15, 4cm in diameter biscuits.

I then set to work on the chocolate. I tried melting the chocolate over water but managed to knock the bowl into the saucepan and ruin it. I was more than a little annoyed. Nonetheless, I persisted purchasing milk chocolate this time and melting in the microwave. Finally it worked!!

I coated the cupcake cases with the chocolate and when I had finished the first coat, went back and added another layer before the first layer set.

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I also coated only one side of the biscuit with melted chocolate and then left that to set as well.

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As you can see from the above picture I used a hand whisk and it took about 25 minutes of the h2b and I whisking. Well worth it though!

I left the marshmallow to cool for 30 minutes before spooning it into each case, leaving space for the biscuit to fit in. I then added a spoonful of jam to each as I have a weakness for jammy tea cakes before finally fitting the biscuit on top. Then I melted a little more chocolate and sealed the tea cakes.

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Voila, my finished product! The marshmallow is perhaps a little runny but apart from that I’m really pleased. The tea cake moulds have gone onto my Christmas list so that my next attempt can be a little more conformist in shape, but for now, a cup of tea to enjoy my tea cake with.

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Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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Winter’s coming.

Half term is over! However it’s only 7 weeks until Christmas.

Yesterday we decided to have my sister and her boyfriend over for an impromptu roast dinner. I cooked roasted onion soup to start which I served with goats cheese and home made croutons. I used this recipe and took the advice from the comments adding balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. I roasted the onions for 15 minutes before stirring and cooking for a further 15 minutes. It was very well recieved!

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We followed this with roast chicken, steamed vegetables, roasted new potatoes and the h2b made stuffing following this Mrs Beeton recipe and he added a chopped apple. No pictures I’m afraid as it was gone so quickly!

My sister (who works as a baker) brought pudding with her. It was the most beautiful Key lime pie I have ever tasted! She followed this recipe and we finished up for pudding tonight.

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The chicken we bought yesterday was so big that we managed to get another meal (& we will get at least another later this week) out of it. We had bacon and chicken pasta bake tonight.

Ingredients

2 rashers of bacon
A serving of roast chicken
A clove of garlic
Olive oil
Pasta
Cheese
Milk
Butter
Flour
Wholegrain mustard
Mushrooms

Process

Heat the oven to 180°c and put the pasta on to boil.

While the pasta is boiling fry the bacon which has been cut into small chunks with a small amount of olive oil and the crushed clove of garlic.

Add the mushrooms and cook until softened.

When the bacon is cooked add the chicken and fry for about a minute.
Make the cheese sauce by melting a spoonful of butter, then whisking in a spoonful of flour and slowly adding milk until the sauce is quite thick.

Add a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard and enough cheese to taste and then ensure the cheese is melted into the sauce before adding all the ingredients into an ovenproof bowl and covering in grated cheese.

Cook for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is brown.  

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A very warming meal for a chilly bonfire night. Happy Monday and enjoy the week ahead.

double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.

I hope everyone had a great Halloween!

I spent my Wednesday with my best friend Queenie getting ready for our drama group’s Halloween celebrations. Yesterday we made ‘bleeding pumpkins’, white chocolate spider webs and cinnamon apple tombs.

For the ‘bleeding pumpkins’ we mixed up a basic sponge cake (see previous posts).

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This is Queenie hard at work…

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Then we filled the moulds halfway, adding a spoonful of jam and then the rest of the sponge mixture which we had added some green food colouring too.

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The mould was from Poundland and worked amazingly well! As we could only make 4 we used the rest of the mixture to fill up Halloween cake cases (also from Poundland) which we then decorated with cupcake ‘flags’ from Poundland and Wilkinsons.

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The cinnamon apple tombs were just a cooking apple chopped and cooked in a little butter with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg until soft and then encased in tomb shaped short crust pastry. They cooked for 20 minutes in a 200 degree Celsius oven. We then sprinkled them with sugar.

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We made white chocolate spider webs by melting two 100g bars of chocolate and then drizzling it onto grease proof paper. They’re not great but we had fun making them.

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So that was my Halloween! We also went to Dobbies Garden Centre for lunch, had dinner with my best friend (she made amazing chilli!) and made more cupcakes following an American cupcake recipe which I need to get from her as they were deliciously light and fluffy!

Just one final photo to finish…
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Our baked goodies and my best friend Helen at our Out of the Asylum drama group last night.