Wednesday, 30 May 2012

London Bound!

Cakeyboi is off  to London to see the Queen!
He'll be back soon though, with some new baking ingredients, reviews of some London bakeries and maybe a photo or two of some lovely looking cakes!


Monday, 28 May 2012

Great British Bark




I love making Bark. It is such an adaptable recipe and makes a great gift for someone. It’s not too common this side of the ‘pond’ but it’s basically a sheet of chocolate (milk, plain, white – your choice) with things like fruit and nuts embedded into it. Click here for a ‘proper’ explanation http://www.word-detective.com/2011/07/bark-candy/. Bark seems to come from the likeness to tree bark, as it’s broken into chunks, apparently similar to the tree variety! I first discovered Martha Stewart’s version, which uses rice krispies, white chocolate and crushed candy canes (it’s a Christmas one).

But ever since, I have been pimping it for different seasons. I hope to bring you my different variations over time.

But as we are heading toward a very British summer what with the Jubilee (I’m not a Royalist but it’s good to party!) and the Olympics, plus all the Union Jack adorned items in the supermarkets, I thought why not come up with a Great British Bark?



I mostly use the staples of white chocolate and rice krispies in my bark and this version was no exception. But I wondered what else I could use. The kind people at M&M’s have brought out a red, white and blue variety, so they would be perfect I thought. But what quintessentially British item would be good to put on top? Custard Creams I realised – so here is how I made it:

200g white chocolate, broken into pieces
500ml of rice krispies (pour up to that level in a measuring jug)
A large bag of Red White and Blue M&M’s
8 Custard Creams, each chopped into 8 pieces
Some Red White and Blue Sprinkles

I melted the chocolate in a bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water. I then added the rice krispies and mixed thoroughly. Taking a large cookie sheet/baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, I poured the melted chocolate/rice krispie mix onto the sheet and with a rubber spatula spread this out as thin as I could, without seeing pieces of the greaseproof paper peeking through. This is where you get to be a bit creative by adding your toppings in any way you like. I first took the M&M’s placing them randomly on top of the choc/rice mix. I then took the custard creams and randomly dotted them around the mix. Lastly I poured over some red, white and blue sprinkles I had. Then taking another sheet of greaseproof paper, I placed this on top and gently pushed all the toppings into the choc/rice mix, sort of smoothing over with my hands. I removed the top sheet of paper and popped the tray into the fridge until the white chocolate was re-set, at least 1 hour. When set, I took it out of the fridge and carefully peeled the slab of chocolate from the greaseproof paper. Then using my hands, broke the slab into random chunks – et voila - Great British Bark!

If you try this at home, let me know how it turns out!


Saturday, 26 May 2012

Eurovision Cake





The Eurovision Song Contest has always been a constant in our lives. Like good old Queen Liz (topical) or Coronation Street (not liking it at the moment, stopped watching it) it’s always been there. It’s as camp as Christmas and always good for a laugh at other countries’ eccentricities!

My friend Ewan always throws a Eurovision party and in the past few years I have been baking cakes to take along, with the flag of the host nation on top. I’ve done Norway (never took a photo of that one), Germany and



 this year’s host Azerbaijan (see pic at top). The first year I took along the Union Jack, but that would have been pretty samey each year, and well, it was probably the only time I would get to do our flag as we have zilch chance of winning ever again (shall I be eating my words instead of the cake Hump??).



The party itself is always hilarious – we all put money into a sweepie and draw countries at random. Whoever has the winning country keeps all the dosh. And you have to drink constantly whilst your country is performing. Plus you have to take along food and drink of a participating country – thank goodness for the East European section in Tesco!!

Anyway, it’s always nerve wracking to see what flag I’ll have to be making the following year. Let’s pray Macedonia doesn’t win! Have you seen their flag??

The cake is a yellow cake - same recipe for the Watermelon cake, minus the food colouring and chocolate chunks. And the frosting is cream cheese frosting - same recipe as topping for Sweetza but in greater quantities. And the fun part is sourcing toppings, for Azerbaijan I used a white chocolate star and moon, green sour apple sweets, raspberries and blueberries!

Cakeyboi is a huge Eurovision fan too….


Thursday, 24 May 2012

{REVIEW} Poundland's Instant Cupcake

Well, having a (very) quick mooch around my local Poundland - what did I happen upon? Only an Instant Cupcake(?) - 'Just Add Water' it proudly declared. What -  did it grow like the magic beanstalk in the fairy tale?? No, it apparently just grows in an 800w microwave.



So I invested my hard earned £1 and thought - how bad can it be? Read on.


The sealed cup had inside a small sachet of powder - Powdered Sugar, Wheat Flour, Egg Powder, Corn Starch and some other very unpronounceable scientific sounding ingredients to be exact. 'Pour in 30ml water' the directions stated - that's two tablespoons to you and me.







It then said mix together for 3 to 4 minutes. Now I am not an expert by any means, but I was very concerned with over developing the gluten in the wheat flour (yeah right), so my instant cupcake wouldn't be too tough. After 2 minutes it looked mixed, and I was bored, so I shoved it in the microwave 'on full power for 1 minute'.

It pinged, my excitement was peaking, and I opened the door.




Hmmm - it looked like anaemic steaming sponge, had no smell to speak of and was slightly domed. That small puddle of cake batter had certainly risen.



I couldn't wait any longer - I was just too eager to try the  baked nuked item. I took a pastry fork and pulled at the sponge. It had a very weird like rubbery consistency and was very aerated - hence having to mix the thing for so long. I was glad I hadn't stirred for the further 2 minutes - it might have taken over the kitchen like a scene from the 1950's B Movie 'The Blob'. It had no taste what so ever. I had tried sprinkling on some 'chocolate marshmallow' popcorn seasoning, but even that couldn't override the blandness.

I realised it hadn't stuck to the sides and it came out of the paper cup very easily, quivering on the plate like mutant jelly. I couldn't face anymore and fed it to the bin. My recommendation - buy Poundland's pre-baked cupcakes - 6 for £1 - if you really are desperate for inexpensive cupcakes!

The Instant Cupcake gave Cakeyboi the 'boak'....




Monday, 21 May 2012

Sweetza - or the fake-out take-out!

Sweet Pizza


You would be forgiven for thinking the above picture is of a hot pizza fresh from the delivery man - Disneyboi certainly thought he was having pizza for dinner when I showed it to him. But no, Cakeyboi has not gone all savoury - the pic is of a 'Sweetza' I made at the weekend.

The base is not pizza dough, but Blondie - a bit like Brownie without the cocoa powder added. I used the Blondie recipe at the following link http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/blondies/ . Luckily I had the butterscotch chips on hand (see previous post), but you could use white chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or leave them out altogether. And instead of the usual square baking tin, I used a metal pizza dish and baked it until it looked sort of done, about the 18 minute mark. It was spread out over a larger area, so didn't need as long to bake.I then let it cool completely in the tin. I then up-turned it, keeping everything crossed that it didn't fall apart. Which it didn't, peeling off the baking paper in one go. Success! Now the decorating.



I had bought some Raspberry Dessert Sauce from the supermarket and swirled this on the base, to look kind of like tomato sauce. I then took some fruit I had bought, and chopped it up - sliced strawberries (pepperoni?), red grapes (olives?), green apple with the skin on (green pepper?) and pineapple, which just needed to be pineapple really. I then made up a quick cream cheese frosting,

4 ounces full-fat cream cheese
1 ounce softened unsalted butter
Half tsp vanilla extract
4.5 ounces of icing sugar

Firstly mix the cheese and butter really well, until combined, stir in the vanilla and then slowly stir in the icing sugar (or your kitchen will not know what has hit it!), This should be a nice spoonable consistency, but if not add a few drops of milk, until it runs off your spoon. I then dribbled the frosting on top too look like melted cheese. And last of all I grated white chocolate on top to look like grated Parmesan.

The result was very convincing as pizza. When I tried it, I had to keep reminding myself it was sweet not savoury. And my myriad of guinea pigs loved it. The Blondie base was delicious - buttery and almost a treacle like flavour. With the sweetness of the fruit and frosting it balanced really well. One to try for surprising someone - or just for the sheer indulgence! Oh and thank you to the pizza shop for letting me have the box for free!!




Saturday, 19 May 2012

Butterscotch Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

Butterscotch Cookies


I have a confession - I am a total Yankophile! When it comes to many aspects of US life, I love it. And that includes American food. I can sniff out shops, that stock American goods, whichever city I am in in the UK. On a recent trip to Glasgow I visited Lupe Pinto’s (http://www.lupepintos.com), which specialises in Mexican and US foods. I picked up a few bits and bobs, including some Butterscotch Chips, which I had seen elsewhere, but never bought.




So I wondered what recipe I could come up with to incorporate them in. And I was in the mood for cookies, so thought butterscotch and cinnamon would be a good combo. Recipe is as follows,

Ingredients

300g light brown sugar
225g softened unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups of porridge oats (not instant ones!!!)
190g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
180g Butterscotch Chips

Method

Preheat your oven to 180oC.

In a bowl, combine the sugar and soft butter until light and creamy. If you have a stand mixer or hand mixer, use that as it makes it so much easier! Then blend in the egg and vanilla extract, until totally combined.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, bicarb and salt with a whisk. Then stir these into the butter/sugar mix until totally combined. Add your oats and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon (you need muscles for that bit) then add the butterscotch chips and mix through.

Taking a cookie scoop, place a mound of the cookie dough on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. I put around 8 mounds on one sheet. They are quite domed so to flatten them a little I took a glass, dampened it’s bottom, pressed it in sugar, and then used the glass to press down on the mounds a little. Coat the glass bottom in sugar between each cookie.

Pop your baking sheet into the oven for about 8-10 minutes. The cookies will start to go golden around the edges. When you have removed them from the oven, slide your baking paper (with the cookies intact!) onto a cooling rack to prevent further cooking. Repeat until all your dough has been used up.


The recipe yielded about 32 very delicious cookies. The buttery sweetness of the chips, mixed with the subtle spice of the cinnamon, along with the heartiness of the oats, makes this a very satisfying cookie.



You can buy the butterscotch chips online, but I would also recommend Dr Oetker's fudge chunks, which are available in the UK. Substitute one whole bag instead of the chips. Cut them in half and they make a good alternative. 

And back to American foods - why oh why oh why oh why are Froot Loops still not on the UK market??? Or Peanut Butter M&M’s??? Or - oh you get the idea!

Cakeyboi is a bit of a Yankophile too…


Thursday, 17 May 2012

Lorraine Kelly aka Watermelon Cake

A few weeks back I decided to enter a competition on the Lorraine show, for the Cake Club segment. The idea was to submit a recipe for a cake made in your family for generations, something with a bit of a tale to it, that kind of thing.
So I dusted off my recipe folder and decided to concoct a new cake using an older recipe - which was courtesy of my late Great Aunty Mary who married an American Serviceman. She lived in the US for years, but was based over here for a while at the Edzell Airbase. Anyhoo, she used to make us fab birthday cakes and I decided to adapt one of these.
The recipe was for a basic 'yellow' cake, which I added some almond extract to and dark chocolate chips. But my secret weapon was going to be the fluffy marshmallow frosting - with the taste of watermelon. I found a website recently (http://www.thecakedecoratingcompany.co.uk) which supplies concentrated flavourings for baking and confectionery and I had recently purchased watermelon extract. So I decided to not flavour the whole cake (too intense) but only the outer frosting - dyed vivacious green. To the cake batter itself,  I added pink colouring and dark chocolate chips (to look like the seeds).
The cake turned out a gaudy, marshmallowy homage to the watermelon and the verdict by all my eaters was a big thumbs up.



But alas, my entry to the Cake Club was not successful. I console myself with the thought that it may have looked like nepotism a wee bit as Lorraine lives quite nearby. Hey, I am allowed to delude myself!

Cakeyboi had his own homage to watermelons...


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Monday, 14 May 2012

Cookie Dough Pops

Cookie Dough on Sticks


Okay hands up - who can't resist licking out the bowl when baking? Whether it is cake batter or cookie dough, most folk love to scrape out the leftovers and savour them (including Cakeyboi!).


So, I thought why not skip the whole baking process and just eat the dough? Raw Eggs you are thinking?! Fear not, no eggs in this recipe, just a combination of ingredients which do not need baked and a super easy recipe for you to try with the kids - known as Cookie Dough Pops

Ingredients;
110grams of unsalted butter - very soft
250grams plain flour
200grams of light brown sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Half tsp Almond extract (optional)
1 can (397g) condensed milk
1 bag of dark chocolate chips
200grams of milk chocolate
Lolly sticks

Method;
In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and the butter until light and fluffy. Use a hand mixer if you have one as it makes it much easier. Add in your vanilla (and almond if so inclined). Once combined add your flour and condensed milk. Mix until totally combined and no flour is visible. Add in your chocolate chips, distributing them thoroughly through the dough. Next, resist temptation to eat the dough - or think what the heck and just gorge yourself!



If you have dough left, continue and take a cookie scoop, or spoons, scooping some dough and roll between your floured hands (the dough is quite sticky) placing the balls onto a cookie sheet lined with baking paper. I yielded about 40 balls from my  mix. Next insert lolly sticks into the balls. Once done, place them in the fridge and leave for at least an hour, but longer is better.




When the balls have been chilled, break your milk chocolate into a bowl and melt over a pan of simmering water . Next take your balls and coat them in the molten chocolate. You can then add coverings to your chocolate if you so wish. I used coloured sprinkles, coconut, chili flakes (for the more adventurous) or you could leave them plain, or not even coat in chocolate at all. The choice is yours. Chill again for a couple of hours, until the chocolate is set. They are ready to enjoy.



I would recommend keeping your balls in the fridge as they can get a bit too soft at room temperature. Cakeyboi got a bit confused and kept his balls in the freezer!



Tip: Not that I am advocating theft, but the coffee stirrers you get in coffee shops make fab lolly sticks. Take a couple each time that you are in and they will soon mount up to a nice collection!! I also used white plastic round lolly sticks but the dough slid off these when kept upside down.Alternatively, leave out the sticks and voila you have cookie dough truffles!

Based on a recipe by Paula Deen (Food Network)



Saturday, 12 May 2012

Pecan Mocha Brownies

Mocha Brownies with Starbucks Via


If you are anything like Cakeyboi - you cannot function without your coffee. And recently I came across a recipe for Pecan Mocha Brownies which incorporate Starbucks Via sachets - caffeine and cocoa altogether - as Ina would say - 'How bad can that be??'.



The recipe uses four sachets of the coffee and you can use any of the blends available, but I would avoid the new 'Blonde' roast as it is just a little too mellow. The recipe also calls for pecans, but does state that you can substitute the nuts for alternatives. I plumped for a combo of both pecans and white chocolate chunks. The recipe recommends baking time of 25 to 30 minutes. I went for the lesser of the two, as I like my brownies really gooey, but if you would prefer them a little less on the raw side - I would go for the full 30 minutes, depending on the size of your brownie pan of course!

The result was a delicious brownie, perfect with a good cup of Starbucks Via on the side. If you'd like to make this recipe, it can be found at the Waitrose website.



Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Cartoon time - Going for a Spin

Okay, not every posting will be my chunterings about baking. I might just add a wee cartoon - like the following...

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Here Piggy Piggy...


Inspired by an episode of Ace of Cakes (on Food Network – best channel in the world Sky 262) I decided to make bacon and chocolate chip cookies. Yes, you heard right. I have a ‘thing’ for the unusual.

I searched the Internet for a semi-easy recipe and set about my sweet and salty combination. Now, the recipe did not state whether to use smoked or unsmoked bacon, but I thought the smoked might have been pushing things a little too far. I fried my bacon to a nice crispness (although American bacon always seems so much crispier, why is that?). I let it sit for a while to cool and harden further, then broke it into chunks.

I made the cookie batter – it seemed like a decent enough mix. Then the bacon was added. I used my cookie scoop (one of those fancy ice cream scoops with the release mechanism) and dolloped the mounds of pig meat and choc chips onto the prepared baking sheet. In the oven they went. The aroma was unusual, not altogether unpleasant. And after the allotted time I removed them and let them sit for a while. I tried one, and it wasn’t tooo bad I thought.

I then spilt them into batches, some for my partner, my work colleagues and my friend Claire who I was visiting for dinner the next night – ‘Don’t make dessert’ I said, ‘I’ve baked’. Claire was overjoyed, but then I hadn’t told her what I’d made.

David, my better half, thought they were so-so. Not awful, not brilliant either.
Work colleagues were polite. The crowd was divided. My immediate office felt they were ‘okay’ but then they had to eat them in front of me! The room next door could not finish them but no one told me until after! Then on to Claire’s for dinner. The look of sheer disappointment on her face was palpable! She tried them to be fair, but she felt violated in some way – her beloved chocolate chip cookies with an added hog protein were not to her liking.

So, overall I would say they were not a hit. No one loved them, some ate them to be polite and some people actually got the boak. But should you be brave enough here is the link for the recipe I tried. Good luck and let me know if anyone actually likes them…



Monday, 7 May 2012

Tablet

Bank Holiday Monday -  aside from some very lush Coconut Cupcakes, with a gooey lime curd centre, topped with white chocolate frosting and a sprinkling of lime zest (see below), I decided to try my hand at making that good old Scottish staple - Tablet.







For those of you not in the know, tablet is a (very) sweet treat somewhere between fudge and a coconut ice type texture. Made with sugar, condensed milk, water and butter it is good for inducing a diabetic coma, or increasing footfall in dentist surgeries.
My Granny Hetty was a legend at making tablet and it is the one thing I have never tried. After my Gran passed, my Mum tried to make tablet, but the result was something that I christened toflet - a weird hybrid of tablet flavour but all the stringy, chewiness of toffee (perhaps there is an idea in there somewhere???).
Anyhoo, I found a recipe and dug out a heavy saucepan. Now, no temperatures were mentioned in the recipe and the term 'softball stage' was used - and due to my aversion of manly sports I glossed over this part. I stirred the thing for 20 minutes (despite the recipe saying it should turn caramel coloured after 10, which it didn't).
Enough's enough I thought and removed it from the heat. I whisked it very thoroughly for a few seconds and it suddenly seized on me. I poured  scraped it into the prepared pan and pressed it firmly. To my amazement it did set in parts. But was solid,and crumbly, and delicious! So I have popped the large pieces in some paper 'pokes' and will take them into work tomorrow. And with the leftover crumbly pieces, I have popped them in a little plastic baggy and shoved them in the freezer (you can freeze tablet - who knew!). They will make a perfect sprinkling for my next frosted cupcakes.

The recipe for the coconut cupcakes is as follows (didn't use the cream cheese frosting);
http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/coconut_cupcakes_with_coconut_cream_cheese_frosting/

The recipe for the white chocolate frosting is;
http://www.dianasdesserts.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/recipes.recipeListing/filter/dianas/recipeID/3533/Recipe.cfm

With the cupcakes I waited until they were cool, took a pairing knife and cut a cone shape from the top and then used a melon-baller to remove some more cakey goodness. Piped in some shop-bought lime curd (70p a jar - Mackay's Factory Shop - bargain!) and popped the tops back on. Frosted over the tops, grated the lime zest over them and bob's yer uncle.

I won't pass on the tablet recipe - suffice to say Cakeyboi needs his jackhammer to enjoy his share...

Introduction

Well, I'm starting my blog. Not sure what to say, but I hope to bring some smiles, laughs, ideas, interactive fun.
I love my baking and have my crafty side too. So not everything might be about cakes/sweets. But whatever I do post I hope that you enjoy it.
I'd also like to introduce you to my little friend Cakeyboi who will be getting involved along the way.
Here we go....
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