Monday, 20 March 2017

Keyboards and Knives - a wee gift guide


We’ve had a bit of a disaster in the kitchen this week! We are waiting on workmen coming back to fix a big leak in the outlet pipe.

We’re having to use our utility room for washing up and I’m afraid nothing was baked this weekend, what with workies removing kitchen cabinets to get to pipes, the contents of cupboards everywhere, a complete guddle as you can imagine.

Not to fear, this provides me with the opportunity to share with you a couple of items I have been sent to try out, which would actually make good last minute Mother’s Day pressies.

Firstly, not food related (unless you are a food blogger), but something the majority of us use on a daily basis. A keyboard from Penclic.


I was sent their C2 wired mini keyboard. I have been giving this a try at my work over the past few weeks, rather than in the study at home.

The keyboard is a Scandinavian design which features full functionality with ergonomics meaning this is a very comfortable keyboard to use. It’s much smaller than my old keyboard and has a 5mm profile so your wrists are in a much more natural position meaning less chance of developing repetitive strain injury.

It’s very quiet too, so no clunky clicking of keys when I am typing (I’m quite fast actually!). I do like this keyboard and will continue to use it.

The only down side is the lack of a number pad at the side. But this is easily remedied by hitting numlock and using letter keys assigned a number in the same format as a number pad. But I have gotten used to this already. (It's also a Grroovy keyboard - check the 'Alt Grr' key above!)

It’s available online coming in at £45.99. Penclic also sell wireless versions and they come in white too.  Check out Penclics full range of keyboards, pen shaped mice and more.




Next I was sent a knife set from Edge of Belgravia. This is the Precision Chef Knife set and features 6 knives.  These are the Chef knife, bread knife, slicing knife, fish filleting knife, a ‘deba’ knife based on a traditional Japanese salmon knife and a paring knife. The knives come in black stainless steel for the blade, extremely sharp and apparently easy to sharpen, which I haven’t had to do yet. The handles are award winning in their design and feel smooth to grip plus do look very stylish.

These look so cool on our worktop and even more so in the black diamond knife block Edge of Belgravia also sent.  This is described as a unique floating knife design which looks reminiscent of a rough cut diamond.

It holds up to 11 knives and the knives slide into the block effortlessly.

My only fear of the knife block is the open design. As the sides are exposed, curious little fingers could easily be cut if grabbing the block. Having said that I would hope households with children would keep knives out of reach from children.

That is my own little criticism, but perhaps me just being extra cautious. It’s absolutely fine for an adult only household like ours.


The black knives and block, both designed by Christian Bird complement our black worktops perfectly.

These would make a great gift for a mum who loves to cook. Or anyone who loves to cook.

The set of 6 Precision knives retail at £99.90 on the Edge of Belgravia website along with the Black Diamond knife block which comes in at £79.90.


Disclosure Statement: I was sent the above items free to review. Any opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Red Velvet Cookies

red velvet cookies made for a Red Nose Day bake sale

I'm bringing you a few treats to possibly make at your Red Nose Day Bake Sale. You are having one aren't you?

24 March sees Comic Relief's Biennial fundraising Red Nose Day event. The charity which helps disadvantaged people here in the UK and in Africa too, will be hosting their ever popular telethon on the night with a host of celebrities erm, hosting. The night will also include the much anticipated Love Actually mini sequel, well worth donating some dosh for!


This year I chatted to TV's Carrie Grant to find out her thoughts on the day, and already made some cherry almond cream cheese treats as a suggestion for your bake sale. This time here is my recipe for red velvet cookies.

red velvet cookies made for a Red Nose Day bake sale

In truth, I had hoped they would be a more vivid red, rather than a brick red colour. Nonetheless, these tasted smashing and with a dusting of icing sugar over the top, no one would know!

red velvet cookies made for a Red Nose Day bake sale

If you wanted a more reddish hue, go for less cocoa, use goat butter (which tends to be less yellow than regular) and clear vanilla extract which you can find online. All of these tips will make your red velvet cookies 'pop' (I don't know why I don't take my own advice!). Add as much red food colouring as you think is necessary by the way, but gel colouring is best.

red velvet cookies made for a Red Nose Day bake sale

You will notice in the ingredients below, vinegar is included. This is quite normal in red velvet treats and you don't taste it in the finished bake. It reacts with the bicarb and gives a bit more leavening apparently!

These are soft cake like cookies, which is just how I like them!

Here is the recipe:



print recipe

Red Velvet Cookies
Red Velvet Cookies perfect for a bake sale!
Ingredients
  • 300 grams plain flour
  • 25 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 170 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 300 grams granulated sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • Red food colouring
  • Icing sugar to garnish
Instructions
In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb and salt.In a separate bowl, with a mixer, beat together the butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating in between each addition. Add the food colouring and vanilla and beat these in too.Add the vinegar and beat this in. The mix will go lumpy, don’t worry it will come together.Add the dry mix and slowly beat this until you have a smooth batter.Refrigerate for about an hour and when ready to remove from the fridge preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) and line two cookie sheets with some greaseproof paper.Dollop spoonful’s of the mix onto the cookie sheets, spacing apart slightly as they will puff out.With wet fingers, push the mounds down a little.Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or just until the edges turn a darker colour.Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before carefully peeling them from the greaseproof paper and allowing them to cool fully on a cooling rack.When cool, dust with a little icing sugar and your cookies are ready to enjoy/sell!
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 30 cookies approx.



red velvet cookies made for a Red Nose Day bake sale

I'm entering these cookies into this month's Treat Petite, hosted by myself and Kat, The Baking Explorer.


As these are quite cakey in texture, I am entering these into Love Cake hosted by Ness over at Jibber Jabber UK. The theme is a batch of cakes, and these are certainly a batch.


I'm also entering these into this month's We Should Cocoa hosted by Choclette at Tin and Thyme.




Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Cherry Almond Cream Cheese Treats (For Red Nose Day)

cream cheese, icing sugar and almond extract whipped into a dough and topped with a cocktail cherry - all in aid of Red Nose Day

It’s Red Nose Day on 24th March and with that in mind I thought I would share a couple of recipes this month that can be knocked up quite easily for a bake sale on the big day.

I remember the first Red Nose Days back in the late 1980’s – I was at school and it was always a huge event, as it is nowadays.

I got my red nose in Woolworths and back then they were made of hard plastic. You wore it as long as you could before the pain set in – it was like having razor blades clipped to your nose. Thankfully now they are made of a much kinder soft rubbery material and are much more comfortable.

I also remember the singles released. In 1989 it was Lananeeneenoonoo along with Bananarama.

image source

Lananeeneenoonoo was comprised of Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Kathy Burke acting a lot like a badly behaved Bananarama. Both groups were on the single, which was a cover of The Beatles ‘Help’ – I still have my copy on 7” vinyl!

cream cheese, icing sugar and almond extract whipped into a dough and topped with a cocktail cherry - all in aid of Red Nose Day


Back to 2017 however and whilst we may still being doing something funny for money, a lot of folk are embracing that favourite pastime of the UK – baking. And Bake Sales are happening all over the place.

This recipe is super-simple as it only has 4 ingredients – cream cheese, icing sugar, almond extract and cocktail cherries. The icing sugar and cream cheese are whipped into a dough and made into small discs. They are chilled and then with a utensil (I used a wine cork – red wine of course!) a small dent is made in the disc. To this half a cocktail cherry is added.

cream cheese, icing sugar and almond extract whipped into a dough and topped with a cocktail cherry - all in aid of Red Nose Day

cream cheese, icing sugar and almond extract whipped into a dough and topped with a cocktail cherry - all in aid of Red Nose Day

At this stage you can add eyes or a mouth. I used some shop bought candy eyes (this does make it 5 ingredients I’ve just realised) or you could get some black icing, or melted chocolate to add on the fizzog.

These treats need to be chilled before serving. They are soft and pillowy mounds of almondy tasting sweet cream cheese with a tangy fruity burst from the cherry. I used cocktail cherries as they are really bright in colour and they were perfect for a red nose. You could use glace cherries too, but they wouldn’t be quite so bright.

cream cheese, icing sugar and almond extract whipped into a dough and topped with a cocktail cherry - all in aid of Red Nose Day


These are a great item to sell at a bake sale and raise cash for a very worthwhile cause – to help disadvantaged people here in the UK and also across in Africa.


Give these a try and let me know what you think. Stay tuned for more Red Nose Day treats soon.


print recipe

Cherry Almond Cream Cheese Treats
almond flavoured cream cheese fondant topped with a cherry
Ingredients
  • 115 grams full-fat cream cheese
  • 560 grams icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 225 gram jar of cocktail cherries
  • Embellishments such as candy eyes, chocolate etc. for making eyes and a mouth (optional)
Instructions
In a food mixer beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and almond extract (slowly at first or the sugar will go everywhere) until a dough forms.Pinch little mounds, just less than a tablespoons worth and with hands dusted in icing sugar roll them into a ball then flatten slightly into a disk.Place these on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and when all are done, place in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.Take the jar of cocktail cherries and remove half the amount of cherries as there are cream cheese discs.Dry these with some kitchen paper and with sharp knife cut each cherry in half.Make an indentation into each disc (a wine cork is an ideal size) and add the cherry into the hole, curved side up.Add eyes or a mouth at this point if doing so. Refrigerate again until ready to eat/sell!
Details
Prep time: Chill time: Total time: 2 hrs 15 minsYield: 40 treats approx.


cream cheese, icing sugar and almond extract whipped into a dough and topped with a cocktail cherry - all in aid of Red Nose Day

Friday, 3 March 2017

Win a Red Nose Day Bundle



With Red Nose Day just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about Bake Sales. It’s a great way to fundraise as everyone loves cake.



Comic Relief’s main aim is to “bring about positive and lasting change in the lives of poor and disadvantaged people, which we believe requires investing in work that addresses people's immediate needs as well as tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice” here in the UK and Africa.

Red Nose Day, as I’m sure we all know, is held every other year alternating with Sport Relief. It’s a day to do something funny for money or just raise cash in any way we can, including a good bake sale.


To raise awareness of the cause, I have a bundle of Red Nose Goodies to give away – an adult apron, a children’s apron, colouring in book and a kids t-shirt – available in sizes age 2 to 10.

Here’s the official word on these fab prizes:

HomeSense has partnered with renowned fashion and portrait photographer Rankin to create exclusive aprons for Red Nose Day 2017. With all the ingredients to become a design classic, the apron features a selection of unique, quirky and quintessentially British animal portraits including Rankin’s own dog. HomeSense is an official Red Nose Day partner for the third time and this year a host of celebrities have been photographed by iconic photographer Rankin wearing the apron to help raise money for Comic Relief. The campaign is being fronted by the Hairy Bikers, Si King and Dave Myers. The bikers will be supported by a whole host of celebrities including , Nadine Coyle, Pearl Lowe, Nadiya Hussain, Jodie Kidd, Susanna Reid, Kimberley Wyatt, Lesley Joseph & Linda Robson, Una Healy, The Hemsley Sisters, Ella Mills (Deliciously Ella), Fay Ripley, Vogue Williams and Tim Lovejoy.
The adult apron, priced at £12.99, will be available to buy in HomeSense and TK Maxx stores from 13th February and online at tkmaxx.com and rednoseday.com. With at least £5 from every adult apron sale going to Comic Relief, the money will help people living incredibly tough lives in the UK and across Africa.
The HomeSense Red Nose Day range, created by Rankin, also features a new children’s apron encouraging the whole family to join in the bake sale action by getting creative in the kitchen. Further products in the collection include a tea towel and a range of kids T-shirts also a designed by Rankin, as well as a leather journal and a colouring-in notebook.
A spokesperson for HomeSense said: “Rankin has really risen to the challenge with this year’s apron design, encouraging adults and children to get in the kitchen and make their bakes matter.
The quirky and unique design featuring an image of man’s best friend (Rankin’s own dog) and a range of other animals, will encourage people to grab an apron, get messy in the kitchen and support the good work that Comic Relief does to help transform people’s lives here in the UK where we have customers and stores and across Africa.”


Rankin said: “When I was asked to create this year’s Red Nose Day exclusive collection for HomeSense I agreed without hesitation. It is a fantastic cause and I knew it would be a lot of fun. What you’re seeing is some of the best talent in the animal business and, although I’m never one for nepotism, my own dog got on the team sheet. I wanted to make these images as cute and fun as possible and I hope I have included something for everyone which encourages both adults and children to get in the kitchen and raise some dough for Comic Relief.”

To be in with a chance of winning these prizes, enter via the Rafflecopter thingamajig below. Leave a comment telling me what you would make for a bake sale. You can also tweet about the giveaway too.

The competition is open until the 10th March for UK residents only. Good luck!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Cakeyboi chats to Carrie Grant for Red Nose Day


Red Nose Day, the fund-raising event from Comic Relief is happening on the 24th March. I recently interviewed TV star and singer Carrie Grant to discuss her involvement with this great cause, her home life with husband David Grant and their four children, Eurovision and baking. 


Q. Carrie, Red Nose Day is just around the corner. Can you tell me why
it is an important charity for you?

A. Ever since Fame Academy did our Comic Relief version of the show I have
loved being a part of the event. I love that it raises money both here and
in Africa for some of those who are struggling the most. My Father is buried
in Sierra Leone so I have a special connection to West Africa and back home
here in the UK our own family have had to access a lot of help with Mental
Health Services so I see the need on a daily basis.


Q.   You raise awareness for children with special needs and your own
children each have learning disabilities including Autism and ADHD. What
challenges can this present on a typical day in the Grant household?

A. The only thing about a typical day in our family is that there are never two
days the same! Each child has significant needs so David and I are usually
desperately running round trying to make sure each child's needs are met,
sharing out the work as we go! One child may need an hour's counselling to
get out of bed, another may be refusing to dress or eat, another may be
being extremely violent so we never quite know what we'll get! I love the
school holidays when it's all so much easier and the kids can move at their
own pace. One of our children only attends school for an hour or so, so we
have to make sure we are there for the school runs throughout the day. This
has meant David and I have to job share. We have at least three health or
school meetings a week so we have to be around for those. Life is full but
our children are amazing and magical and so talented in many different ways.


Q.      There is still a lack of awareness surrounding 'invisible
disabilities'. As a parent of children with such disorders have you
experienced discrimination towards your children?

A. I can't even begin to tell you how bad it is for many parents of high
functioning autistic girls. From GP's not knowing what to look for, to
schools who don't believe there's an issue, to diagnostic criteria geared
towards boys and therefore no diagnosis is given, to CAHMS (Children and
Adolescent Mental Health Services) being so overstretched that your child
has to be suicidal before you can access any help. That's a description of
Services. Then you have the judgement from other parents when your child
melts down in the supermarket. I want to put a big sign above my kids' heads
reading, "Please don't judge, I'm autistic and today is actually a good
day!" Some parents have a terrible time within their families with relatives
blaming parents for their lack of parenting skills. It's hard for parents
and you have to develop a very hard exterior and a warrior spirit!


Q.      I'm a sweet-toothed baking blogger and love baking in my spare time.
Are baking and cooking activities you do with your children and can these be
good therapy?

A. Oh gosh - YES!!!!! My children have a lot of sensory issues, which means
they hear everything at 10 times the volume of a neuro-typical person, they
are extra sensitive to smell, touch, taste, all of those areas. The
advantage of this is that they are brilliant at art and baking and the
creative areas. My children can literally spend an hour with their hands in
a bowl of watered down cornflour! We make cakes, biscuits, pastry etc. We
even have 27th Dec set aside as Pie Day each year.

Q.      If you're favourite song were a cake, what would it be?

A. One of my favourite songs is Cameo's "Candy" as our entire family do the
dance to it called The Electric Slide. At weddings we've had about 300
people doing it in one go! In our family it was started by the Jamaican side
but each year more of our white relatives learn it and join in! It's a
dancefloor filler! If it were a cake it would be a Black Forest Gateaux -
because it is one of those things that every generation knows, it's down to
earth and gives you great memories. i.e. I know my kids will talk about this
song in years to come and laugh in the same way as my generation remember a
Black Forest Gateau.



Q.      I'm a HUGE Eurovision fan. You were part of the group Sweet Dreams,
the UK's 1983 entry. Do you have fond memories of taking part in the
contest?

A. I absolutely LOVED doing Eurovision. Representing my country, singing every
day, doing loads of TV, Radio and press - it was a great opportunity. If I
hear the Eurovision theme tune I still get nervous. I thought it had all
been forgotten but when I did Fame Academy suddenly it all came out again.
We came 6th, which at the time was shameful but now is really seen as a huge
success!

Sweet Dreams - (Carrie on the right)

Q.      You were the head judge in this year's jury for 'Eurovision - You
Decide', helping to select this year's entry Lucie Jones ( a great song!). It must
feel quite a responsibility.

A. Actually I was Head Judge last year and the jury's favourite lost! Lucy
Jones is great though and David and I loved her in The X Factor. Great
singer.


Q.      As a busy working mother of 4, do you find time to relax and if so,
what do you do to unwind?

A. I love reading, cooking, hanging out with friends and going on holiday. We
go to the Isle of Wight each year and we love it. It's like going back in
time. I love creating memories for my kids.


Q.       Finally Carrie, charity and raising awareness are things that are
clearly important to you. What are your future plans in respect of these?

A. Oh gosh so much. I want the subject of Girls and Autism awareness to be
raised, I am campaigning constantly around this subject. I want for all
special needs to get greater understanding in society. Two of my children
have ADHD, one has Aspergers and another has Autism and ADHD.
In the healthcare arena I work in I want patients to be able to lead in
their own health. I do a ton of public speaking on this subject and I am
Patient Lead for The College of Medicine. I think it empowers the patient
and ultimately will help to make our amazing NHS sustainable.



Carrie Grant and family are wearing limited edition HomeSense aprons designed by celebrated British photographer Rankin to support Red Nose Day 2017 and help people living incredibly tough lives across Africa and here in the UK. The apron is part of a Red Nose Day 2017 range of products available in HomeSense stores nationwide.

A massive thanks to Carrie for taking the time to answer my questions. Check out my next post, coming soon, for a chance to win a Red Nose Day gift bundle.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Treat Petite - March 2017


It's March and there are tons of crocuses popping up in the grass across from our house. I think spring time is just around the corner and Treat Petite is here again for you to share all of your individual baking achievements which we love to see and share. Thanks to everyone for the flurry of entries in February over at The Baking Explorer.


As you might know, Treat Petite has no monthly theme now, so once again Anything Goes! You can enter anything you like, just remember the Treat Petite rules below...

Treat Petite is for all of those delicious bites, which can be individually portioned. Tray bakes are fine, cookies, cupcakes, brownies, macarons and so on. No cakes, puddings, whole loaves – you get the idea… here are those all-important guidelines:

1. Add your petite treat to the Linky Tool at the bottom of the current month's post by the 25th of the month, midnight at the latest

2. Post your bake onto your blog and link back to Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer, stating who is hosting this month

3. Follow Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer blogs on Google+ (see sidebar links), if you haven't already.

4. If you tweet use #TreatPetite and mention @MrCakeyboi and @BakingExplorer - we will retweet

5. Add the challenge logo to the post and 'Treat Petite' as a label to the post

6. Use any recipe as long as the source is noted

7. If you like, add your photo to the 'Treat Petite' Pinterest board (request access from Cakeyboi)


8. Feel free to enter old posts as long as you update the post and meet all the requirements above!

Above all else - have fun!!



Monday, 27 February 2017

Chocolate and Banana Swirled Pancakes

chocolate pancake batter and banana pancake batter swirled together

It’s Pancake Day again. Or Shrove Tuesday to give it its proper name.

It’s quite late this year, I usually always think of Pancake Day as being around the time of the Brits and that has been and gone this year.
chocolate pancake batter and banana pancake batter swirled together

This year Joseph Joseph sent me a couple of their gadgets to use when whipping up my pancakes. 

Whipping is quite accurate as I received a Whiskie – a two in one balloon whisk which has a silicone blade fitted meaning you can scrape your bowl thoroughly too. (Around £10 from the Joseph Joseph site)

chocolate pancake batter and banana pancake batter swirled together

I don’t know about you, and it’s probably just my OCD, but when I watch cooks and chefs on TV pouring their food from a bowl and leaving half the contents in there, it really winds me up! But the Whiskie means that nothing should be left in the bowl. (£15 from the Joseph Joseph site)

I was also sent the Shake-It self tapping sieve. It’s a regular sieve except the handle has a clever sleeve over it, which you use to shake and tap at the same time with one hand – ingenious.

chocolate pancake batter and banana pancake batter swirled together

My pancakes this year are a combination of deep cocoa flavoured batter and a banana infused batter swirled about. They are delicious on their own as chocolate or banana, but the two go so well together I thought swirling them up would be good fun.

Tip: I used frozen bananas for my banana batter. Once defrosted and slipped out of their skins, they are the perfect consistency for mushing into the batter.

Once I’d made the batters separately, I used disposable piping bags to dollop them onto my pre-heated skillet. First I spooned chocolate and banana batter into the same bag and got a marbled effect when I ‘piped’ it on to the cooking surface. Unfortunately, when fully cooked, although they tasted good, the distinctive colours of batter sort of melded together.

chocolate pancake batter and banana pancake batter swirled together

Next I went for putting the batters in separate bags and tried piping half and half for a two tone effect and also going for a Jackson Pollock sort of effect. This involved piping one colour of batter onto the skillet and then piping the other batter on top in a random fashion, this seemed to look the most effective and probably be the one kids would like most.

chocolate pancake batter and banana pancake batter swirled together

I served mine with some chopped bananas, chocolate chips (add a handful of these to the batter too, if you like) and some maple syrup.

chocolate pancake batter and banana pancake batter swirled together


These are so easy (and fun) to make. Here is the recipe:



print recipe

Chocolate and Banana Swirled Pancakes
Chocolate and banana pancake batters swirled together
Ingredients
  • 200 grams self-raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 70 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 500 ml milk (I used soya)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 frozen bananas defrosted
Instructions
Make the banana batter by whisking together the defrosted, mushy bananas with 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and 250 ml of milk.In a separate bowl, sift together 100 grams of flour, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and a pinch of salt. Add the wet banana mix and stir to combine. Don’t overmix, lumps are fine in pancake batter.In another bowl, sift together 100 grams flour, the cocoa powder, the remaining sugar and salt. Add the remaining egg, oil and milk and beat to combine.Preheat a frying pan or skillet over medium heat and grease very lightly with some vegetable oil.Add the two batters by spooning or piping, into whatever pattern you opt for.Cook until bubbles start to appear on top of the wet batter then with a turner, flip the pancakes over for a couple of minutes on the other side. Don’t be tempted to push down the pancakes with the turner, you want the puffiness!Place on a plate and drizzle with maple syrup, some bananas, cream, whatever takes your fancy.Enjoy!
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield:20 pancakes approx.


chocolate pancake batter and banana pancake batter swirled together
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