Thursday, 27 September 2012

Lara Bars




Without going into detail, the end of September is a sad time for my family. Personally, it makes me think of the past and how things might have been.

When I came across something called Lara Bars online, I just knew I had to share them and at this time especially. This will not make sense to most people, but the two are related.

Anyhoo, Lara Bars I have discovered, are healthier sweet treats! Cakeyboi finally goes healthy I hear you cry. Well, personally I believe that everything is okay in moderation and what I usually make are more ‘sometimes’ treats rather than daily pleasures. But the Lara Bars can be made without fat or sugar or gluten, depending on what you put in them. So they are suitable for different types of dietary requirements, or are just nice if you want a sweet treat without much guilt.

The main component of Lara Bars is dates – now don’t click away!! I don’t like dates on their own, but you don’t taste dates in the Lara Bars. And the idea is that you add ingredients that you do like, such as nuts, other dried fruits etc. Stick with me honestly.



I decided to try making two varieties of Lara Bars – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Coconut Lime flavours. The former does have a modest amount of dark chocolate so not too bad!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Lara Bars

Ingredients:
175 grams pitted dates
125 grams low fat peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
50 grams of dark chocolate chips

Method:
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until everything is combined and has formed a sort of ‘dough’. Remove this from the processor and place onto a lightly greased baking pan or other container – I used an old plastic food storage box. Press down firmly on the ‘dough’ and shape into a square or rectangle. Place in the fridge for a couple of hours to set. 



Remove from the fridge,take the Lara Bar block from it’s receptacle – and place on a cutting board. With a sharp knife cut into squares, oblongs, triangles – whatever takes your fancy! The Lara Bars are ready to enjoy. These ones tasted just like squidgy, gooey Peanut Butter and Chocolate bars which I love!

Coconut Lime Lara Bars

Ingredients:
260 grams pitted dates
90 grams dessicated coconut
150 grams whole hazelnuts
Zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon lime juice

Method:
Same as above, except I blitzed the nuts first to give them a head start, then added all the other ingredients and whizzed it up until a ball formed. Place this in a lightly greased receptacle and press firmly into shape. Fridge them for a couple of hours and then chop into bars when ready to eat. These are very fragrant with the fresh lime and have the buttery coconut undertones to compliment this.



Lara Bars are a great find and I will be thinking up other varieties to try over time. I do hope you try these, even if you don’t like dates. They are delicious!

Loved Adored Remembered Always

Monday, 24 September 2012

Portuguese Custard Tarts (Pasteis De Nata)




So, the holiday is well and truly over sadly. Back to sunny Scotland and almost sub-zero temperatures. Funny to think that just last week we were walking along the beach, wearing just our trunks! Doing that on the east coast of Scotland right now could have some dire consequences!!

But, as I promised, in my last post I wanted to bake something that I had on holiday – the custard tarts that I enjoyed. I have seen these called Pasteis De Nata or Pastel De Nata, not sure if one is the plural of the other, but it doesn’t affect how they taste – so let’s crack on.

There are various recipes all over the place, and I cobbled together a few basic ones. I have added cinnamon, which doesn’t appear in a lot of them, but I wanted to include the spice, as it would remind me of the eggy custard that my Granny Hetty made for me when I was little. Also, a lot of the recipes have you making your own pastry. I have one mantra in life (when it comes to baking anyway) and that is ‘Life is too short to make your own pastry’. Particularly when you can pick a ready-made pack from Tesco!

Yield: 12 delicious tarts

Ingredients:
1 pack ready rolled puff pastry
240 ml milk
3 tablespoons cornflour
200 grams caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 egg yolks

Method:
Pre-heat your oven to 180oC. Now, I sprayed my 12 cup square muffin pan with some non-stick spray, not essential, but grease just to be on the safe side! Line each muffin well with puff pastry and trim off any excess. Set pan aside.



Whisk together the 6 egg yolks in a bowl and set aside. In a saucepan place the milk, cornflour, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon, over medium heat, stir until slightly thickened. Now drizzle half of the warm milk mix – VERY SLOWLY - into the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Tipping it all in would result in scrambled eggs, which you really don’t want. Add the yolk mix into the saucepan with the remaining milk mix and heat until boiling and thickened, stirring constantly. 



Remove from the heat and divide the custard mix into the 12 pastry lined wells. 



Pop this into the oven for 20 minutes. The custard mix will rise high during baking and start to darken. Once removed from the oven, it will shrink back and sink slightly which is normal, don’t worry!

Leave the tarts to cool completely and then remove carefully from the pan (I used a small fork to assist me).

These custard tarts are actually better than I had in Portugal I have to say and that is probably down to my love of cinnamon. If you don’t like cinnamon or want to be totally authentic then omit it, no harm done. The pastry is lovely with the thick, spiced vanilla filling – and even nicer with a hot cup of coffee! Enjoy :)

I am entering these delicacies into September's Alphabakes challenge, hosted by this month by Caroline Makes and ably assisted by The More Than Occasional Baker. This month the letter is 'P' and luckily both Portuguese Custard Tarts and Pasteis De Nata hit the mark!




Saturday, 22 September 2012

Portuguese Memories




Well, we are back from a lovely few days in the sunshine of the Algarve. My batteries are totally recharged and my skin is a 'few' shades more tan as you might just be able to see above! It really was very hot, the hottest it’s been since Disneyboi and I started going to Albufeira a few years back.


There was lots of cool beer on hand to quench the thirst and more than a few caipiroska’s. This is actually a Brazilian drink that is popular where we hang out in Albufeira. It is basically lime, brown sugar, ice and vodka. But it has got my mind working and you may see influences of this very soon.









This time, I did go looking through the eyes of Cakeyboi a bit more and discovered that the Portuguese have a huge thing for pastries. One pastry in particular, which is very popular, is Pasteis De Nata – a custard tart. I tried one in a Pastelaria with a cappuccino and it was delicious. In fact I will be making these soon, so stay posted.









I always like to try the different varieties of McFlurry wherever we go in the world (a bit like my friend Steph over at Kitchen Frolic), but this time the only differing variety on hand was ‘Magnum’ flavour. It did taste nice however. 



Certainly my favourite find was a concoction called Café Zero. Think of the offspring between a McFlurry and a Starbucks and you have a lovely ice creamy coffee tasting cup of joy. They came in three flavours, espresso, cappuccino and mocaccino. I loved the cap, Disneyboi had a mocha one which he said was more chocolate than anything, but he still managed to polish it off. Delicious.



And, when abroad, I do like to pick up local comics. I have no idea what they are saying in the ‘toons, but I love to see the artwork!



We also visited Faro for the day, and on another had planned to visit a winery, owned by none other than Sir Cliff Richard. Sadly on the day we went to Guia, it was shut. But we were not too down-hearted as we still saw the street named after the 'legend' (and drank plenty of wine elsewhere)!



Overall, a great time and some ideas for treats and toons alike.



Disneyboi got a bit carried away and tried to hitch a lift with a fellow cast member!



(Oh, and I missed Cupcake week when we were away, but there is always next year!)

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Cartoons and Holidays

We are away for a well deserved break in the sun! For the next week I will be putting my feet up, sipping cool beer and looking out for sweet Portuguese treats to inspire Cakeyboi on his return.

Remember to leave your comment to win Cakeyboi's unique mug - click on the logo to your right for details!

Ate mais, tchau!


Monday, 10 September 2012

Carrot Loaf Cake for Mum's Birthday


carrot cake vanilla cream cheese frosting


Well, it was recently my mum’s birthday and as tradition now dictates she came to mines, for Sunday dinner. We usually have her birthday dinner on the closest Sunday to the actual day, but as luck would have it, it fell on that day this year.

So, I cooked with Disneyboi as my sous chef, and whipped up a gorgeous (even if I do say so myself!) main meal of barbecue pulled pork, smashed potatoes and carrot and pea mash, with Parmesan. But enough of this savoury nonsense!

For dessert, and as tradition now also goes, I made a carrot cake, mum’s favourite ‘afters’. Over the years I have made various versions – carrot layer cake, tea cake, cupcakes – but this year it was in the form of a loaf cake. With a thick coating of vanilla cream cheese frosting on top, Disneyboi, the birthday girl and I scoffed a fair portion. But there was still enough left for mum to take a thick slab home!

Ingredients:

Cake:
 160 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
110 grams unsalted butter, softened
100 grams dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium carrots, grated

Frosting:
110 grams full-fat cream cheese, softened
30 grams unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
300 grams icing sugar

Method:
Preheat your oven to 180 oC. Butter a regular sized loaf pan, then coat with flour, tipping out the excess. Leave to the side.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside.
With an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla extract (I used LittlePod’s Bourbon Vanilla Extract – great flavour). Mix until well blended. Slowly add the flour and mix until just combined and no streaks of flour can be seen. Slowly mix through the grated carrot.



Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and pop into the oven for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean, from the centre – you know the drill! Allow the loaf to cool for about 20 minutes and then remove from the pan, using a knife if necessary. Leave to cool completely.



To make the frosting, with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese, until smooth, then add the vanilla paste. You could use extract, but the paste has the nice wee flecks of vanilla seeds throughout. Slowly add the icing sugar, mixing until incorporated. With an off-set spatula, spread this liberally on top of the cooled loaf.

Your carrot loaf cake is now ready to enjoy. The cake is very light and nice 'n' spicy with the cinnamon and nutmeg and vanilla cream cheese frosting is never a bad thing!! I hope yours goes down just as well as ours did. Love ya mum!


Saturday, 8 September 2012

Scottish Food Bloggers Conference




As you probably know, I am quite new to all this blogging malarkey. So when Jac from Tinned Tomatoes asked if I wanted to go the first Scottish Food Bloggers Conference, I immediately agreed. An excellent way to get hints and tips on blogging, great to network with other bloggers and great food I thought.

Jac and I travelled down to Ayr on the Friday and arrived at the venue, Ayr Racecourse the next morning.  We met up with Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen and Lou from Please Do Not Feed The Animals and other fellow bloggers, before being taken to the Princess Royal Suite, which overlooked the fantastic course.

The first part of the day was a talk from Justin Galea, the Melbourne born executive chef of Turnberry Resort, Scotland. He was a fascinating speaker and his story of how he’d left school at the age of 15 and followed his passion for cooking was inspiring.

The second speaker at the conference was Colin Kelly – a specialist in social media. He talked about the use of social media to promote your blog and certainly gave me ideas and tips on how to best use it. Cakeyboi’s Facebook page is looking rather tired and neglected and is an area that I aim to improve over the coming wee while. Colin’s talk certainly opened up eyes about reaching a wider audience and left me thinking that I am perhaps a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to technology (who knew some University’s don’t issue students with e-mail accounts and just rely on Facebook and Twitter?!).



Before we stopped for lunch Donald McInnes, the racecourses executive chef, talked to us a little about his experiences of catering for thousands of people and his use of the local produce available to him. Now, this may be the only time you will see savoury food on Cakeyboi, but the meal Donald and his staff cooked was phenomenal and deserves to be shown to make you all drool.


Warm Butternut Squash and Beetroot Tart with Ricotta Cheese 


Duo of Roast Sirloin of Cairnhill Farms Beef 



Chocolate and Toasted Almond Mousse

After lunch, I really could have done with a nap, but persevere I did. The first speaker of the afternoon was John Cooke, a writer and journalist who gave us an insight into food writing and tips such as imagine as if you are writing to one person, avoid clichés and be concise. Not sure if I manage any of these but hey ho!



Last input of the day was from Darren McKean, a food photographer. Darren showed us some of his work, which put Cakeyboi’s photos to shame and then dispensed his advice on taking the best shots possible. The up shot for me, I thought, was get a better camera! Seriously though, Darren said any camera could work magic just as long as it is used correctly.



The day finished and the bloggers were getting weary. So we hopped on the train home, having enjoyed a fascinating and useful day. I have just given a brief idea of what the day was about, but please visit TinnedTomatoes, Please Don’t Feed the Animals and Farmersgirl Kitchen for different and more in depth views of the day (and better photographs)!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Honey and Ginger Cookies


New Zealand Honey Co.




When the New Zealand Honey Co. asked me to review some of their Manuka Honey I have to admit I was initially a bit hesitant. I am not the biggest lover of honey, but I decided to accept their very kind offer and was sent a jar of Manuka Honey and Root Ginger. I thought I had best try some before deciding what to bake with it, so I whipped off the lid, jammed in a teaspoon and popped some in my mouth. Without wanting to use a hackneyed phrase  - OMG! This stuff is different to other honey I had tried in the past. It is so thick and almost caramel like and the added root ginger gives it a really warm hit. The health benefits of Manuka honey are numerous, including the fact it is antioxidant and antibiotic. All is explained fully over at their site, along with their other products and some (sweet and savoury) recipes to try.

As the flavour was so incredible, I wanted to make something that wouldn’t disguise the taste. I plumped for a simple Honey and Ginger Cookie, where the star of the show would be the honey and root ginger. Very easy to make (and easier to enjoy) the recipe is as follows;

Yield: approx. 24 cookies

110 grams unsalted butter, softened
110 grams of Manuka Honey & Root Ginger
60 grams of sugar
190 grams of plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon salt
120 grams of sugar (for rolling)

Method:
Preheat your oven to 180oC and line cookie trays with greaseproof paper. In a bowl whisk together the flour, bicarb and salt. Set aside.
In another bowl, with an electric mixer, whip together the butter and sugar until light and creamy in colour. Add the honey and beat this until totally combined with the butter and sugar. Slowly add the flour mix until is combined and no streaks of flour can be seen, but don’t over mix. Pop the dough onto some clingfilm and wrap it up, then leave in the fridge for about 20 minutes.



After the 20 minutes, take chunks of dough, rolling it into balls with your hands, then roll the balls in the sugar until totally covered. Place each ball onto the cookie tray, well spaced apart, without flattening. Pop into the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes or until they flatten and turn golden brown in colour. Leave to cool and remove from the greaseproof paper. Repeat with the next batch ( I got 8 cookies on each tray).



The cookies are crisp on the outside, but lovely and soft in the centre. The smell of honey is divine. The sweetness tastes amazing and then you get the little nuggets of ginger which add a nice pop of spice. You will love these, so go and bake!

The New Zealand Honey Co.’s new Manuka ‘Plus’ range is available in Morrisons stores across the UK and have a RRP of £9.99. There are different varieties to try including 'Manuka Honey and Lemon' .



I am entering these cookies into November's Alphabakes as the letter if H and honey fits the bill. Alphabakes is hosted alternately by Caroline Makes and this month Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker.

Disclosure Statement: I received the ingredients free, to review them. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. 


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Cartoon Time - Fish Cake

Not sure if a fish cake is a delicacy outside of the UK or not...?




Monday, 3 September 2012

NYC Crumb Cake for Random Recipes #20 (and Tea Time Treats!!)


NYC Crumb Cake Outsider Tart


Well, this is my first ‘proper’ Random Recipe for Dom at Belleau Kitchen. I missed the deadline for August (I am new to this after all) so thought I would get in there early for number 20! In July he asked people to submit pics of their cookbooks (although mine’s are mostly magazines, they were allowed!).



For this month's, there is a new twist in that 'Random Recipes' has got jiggy with another challenge 'Tea Time Treats' (hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked) and mutated into 'Tea Time Random Recipes'. I have followed the rules for number 20 and taken my actual books, closed my eyes, prayed for the best and I couldn’t have asked for better really! Although 'Tea Time' is a British staple, being a Yankophile as I am, NYC Crumb Cake was right up my street (should that be 5th Avenue?!). I think it would certainly be at home alongside other tea time goodies. This is from p130 of Baked in America, the recipe book from the boys at the Outsider Tart bakery in London. I’m sure I had had Crumb Cake years and years ago (although not when I was in the big apple) and liked it. However, I had never made it and I was quite impressed with the results! It comprises a moist cake on the bottom, with huge cinnamon flavour cookie type crumbs atop said cake…

NYC Crumb Cake

Crumb:
225 grams unsalted butter, melted
380 grams plain flour
225 grams dark brown sugar
115 grams light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake:
525 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
225 grams unsalted butter, softened
340 grams caster sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
340 grams soured cream

Method:
Preheat your oven to 180oC. Spray a 13”x9” baking pan with baking spray, line the bottom with baking paper, spray again then coat in flour. Nothing sticks this way.
In a mixer combine the melted butter, plus all the other crumb ingredients and mix until it becomes crumbly looking. Set aside.



For the cake, whisk together the flour, bicarb, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, cream the butter and caster sugar together for about 6 minutes, then add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Now add your flour in three lots to the butter/sugar/egg mix, adding half the sour cream between each flour addition. Mix until just combined. Spoon the thick batter into the prepared pan, coaxing it with a spatula (it is very thick!!). 



Now crumble the crumb topping onto the top of the batter. Big and small crumbs are the order of the day here. Pat these gently into the batter and then pop the pan into the oven. The book says for 45 to 60 minutes. A skewer came out of mine’s clean at 45 minutes, but results will probably vary. I left mine to cool over night. I sprinkled mine with some icing sugar, then sliced it into 24 bars, but realised that the 24 pieces were HUGE and cut each one in half, so yielded about 48 pieces. If you like it bigger, stick to 24!

The cake is moist and light, and the crumb topping, is sweet and spicy with the cinnamon, and almost cookie like. You will enjoy!!


Saturday, 1 September 2012

Cakeyboi – WHAT A MUG!! What a Giveaway!





Hard to believe, but my little blog is 4 months old already. I have learned so much along the way and I have plenty still to discover about the world of food blogging.

Cakeyboi has given me a chance to bake more frequently and share the results with the world – literally. I have visitors from all corners of the globe – hello to you all and thank you for stopping by!

Well, to celebrate Cakeyboi’s 4-month birthday, I am giving away this lovely (unique!) mug, which stars our little sweet friend.

If you would like a chance to win the mug and it’s surprise contents, simply leave a comment on this post.

However If you would like extra entries:

1. Follow Cakeyboi on Google Connect or Networked Blogs (down the side panel) and leave a second comment to say you have done so.

2. Follow @MrCakeyBoi on Twitter and leave a separate comment to let me know you have done so.

3. Tweet the competition using (WHAT A MUG! I'd love to win a unique Cakeyboi mug! #win #giveaway) and leave a separate comment to say you have done so.

4. Like the Cakeyboi Facebook Page and leave a separate comment to let me know you have done so.

If you add everything into one comment you will only get one entry, so remember to write a separate comment for each entry.

The giveaway runs until midnight on Sunday 30 September 2012. This giveaway is open to readers in the UK only.


Good luck!
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