Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 – The Best of the Boi

2013 was Cakeyboi’s first full year and I thought I would pull together some of the highlights for yours (and mine) delectation.

The year did start off quite quietly. Still learning my trade so to speak.

In April though my friend Jac from Tinned Tomatoes and I were invited to a tour of the Mackays Jam factory, here in Arbroath where I live. It was great to see how the jams and marmalades I grew up with were made. I also made a new foodie friend in Claire, who does the marketing for Mackays. Claire has since started her own baking blog What Claire Baked - check it out.

In May, it was Cakeyboi’s first birthday and one recipe I made to celebrate was very popular. The birthday cake batter bark was cake batter flavour fudginess sandwiched between white chocolate all with added sprinkles. Very delicious.

June was a busy month as Disneyboi and I travelled to NewYork for a joint (early) celebration of my 40th birthday and our 10th anniversary. We visited some places I had been dying to visit for ages, these included IHOP, the Big Gay Ice Cream store and lots of other candy-filled shops of wonder. It was a great, but very damp, experience!

In August Cakeyboi hit the press. After coming runner up in a National Cake Competition two of my local newspapers featured articles about me. The Dundee Courier even visited my dingy wee kitchen and took some photos for the piece.

In September after several months of sorting out, my foodie friend Kat at The Baking Explorer and I launched our own baking, blogging challenge. We toyed with a few names including ‘Four Petites Sake’ before agreeing on ‘Treat Petite’. It’s only a few months old but we are thrilled with all of the entries that our fellow bloggers are entering.

October was a busy bumper month. The BBC Good Food show invited me to be part of it’s Blogger Community, which I accepted straight away. I visited the show and wrote about my day there. This included meeting James Morton from The Great British Bake Off.

I was also lucky enough to interview celebrity chef James Martin.

Also in October I hosted my first Clandestine Cake Club. I joined the Dundee ‘branch’ in April 2012, and later was kindly asked by organisers Jac and Becca to join them as a co-host. My first time as host was great, the theme was Halloween and there were lots of tempting spooky treats to enjoy.

The past couple of months have been hectic, trips to London and York, busy at work, working with the nice people at After Eight, but I did manage to cram in a few festive recipes, including these cute Marshmallow Snowmen above, another recipe hit - if you can call this a recipe!

So that was 2013 in a nutshell. I wonder what 2014 will bring? Whatever it is, I wish you all the best. Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Easy Cheesy New Year Nibbles

It’s nearly New Year. I don’t want to be all ‘Bah Humbug!’ but I’m not a fan of Hogmanay. Don’t know why, but it’s never been my favourite time of year, I’m much more a Christmas person.

We usually watch the London fireworks on the TV, and always say we will go down for New Year to see them first-hand, but always end up going later in the month.

Anyway, I digress! If you are having folk around for New Year, or are staying in with some nibbles and wine, like us, this easy recipe may be for you.

I love those cheesy goldfish crackers and there are others on the market now, such as llama’s and other random shapes. So I have made these addictive cheese crackers in the shape of owls. This may be fitting to eat when watching the ‘Hootenanny’ on the box(!).

This is just like making a cheese pastry - flour, butter, water and cheese, bit of salt and that’s it. Get strong flavoured cheddar, as that is what makes these nibbly delights. You can of course cut into any small shape you fancy. But try make sure they are no more than 1/8 inch thick. Any thicker and they have no crunch to them. They have a scone like texture instead, which is not that bad I suppose.

120 grams plain flour
60 grams cold butter, cubed
Pinch of salt
220 grams strong cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons cold water
Adapted from Food4Tots.com

Pre-heat the oven to 170C and line a couple of cookie sheets with greaseproof paper.
In a food processor pulse together the flour, butter and salt until it resembles breadcrumbs (if you don’t have a food processor, cut the butter in with two knives). 

Place the breadcrumb mix into a large bowl and add the cheese. Mix the cheddar through with your fingers. Add the two tablespoons of water and with your hands mix until a solid ball of dough forms. Split the ball in half and form them into discs.  Wrap each half in clingfilm place into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Take one dough disc out and with a rolling pin, roll the dough out on a lightly floured worktop until it is 1/8 inch thick.

Cut out shapes with whatever cutter you are using and transfer to the prepared cookie sheet. With the leftovers, roll back into a ball and roll out again until is all used up. Repeat with the other disc of dough.

Bake the crackers in the oven for 15 minutes. Let them bake as long as you dare without them beginning to burn. They will turn darker, but this is cheese browning. The darker they get, the crispier they will be.

Let them cool for a few minutes before transferring to an airtight container to store them. They will last for a couple of days if you can resist them that long – enjoy! 

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Treat Petite December 2013 Round-Up

I trust we all had a good Christmas? During December I was overwhelmed with the number of entries into Treat Petite. The challenge is only a couple of months old and I am astounded so many of you have taken the time to kindly enter your delicious bakes. I really appreciate it.

Without further ado, I present your offerings which all fitted into the theme ‘Happy Holidays’!

First entry is from Laura at I’d Much Rather Bake Than… who entered these delicious Christmas Aero Bubbles cookies made with mint Areo Bubbles. She made them after a very busy weekend, which included a trip to the BBC Good Food Show!

Next, Camilla from Fab Food 4 All entered her Finnish Shortbread – made by dipping the dough in egg wash, nuts and sugar. I’ve never heard of that technique before but it does sound very tasty.

Caroline over at Caroline Makes entered these Chocolate Chip Biscotti – this included orange rind, orange juice and ground coriander. That really is a party going on in your mouth!

Jen over at Blue Kitchen Bakes made these lovely little white chocolate tarts. The recipe she used had rose petals on top, but she swapped them for pomegranate seeds, which are very festive.

Laura over at How to Cook Good Food made individual trifles – perfect for Treat Petite. These include the retro delight Caramel Oranges and just look divine. They also have crumbled Christmas cake too, so they scream Happy Holidays!

Louise over at Crumbs and Corkscrews entered these very festive peppermint pinwheel cookies. The colours in them are so vivid. Louise guest posted these into our friend Steph’s Cooke Advent Calendar over at Kitchen Frolic too.

Kate from Veggie Desserts entered these very original mince pies with spinach pastry. I love spinach, but never had it for ‘afters’ although Kate says that the spinach taste doesn’t come through at all. The pies look very festive with the green-hued pastry!

Caroline from Caroline Makes entered another of her bakes – Hershey Kiss Thumbprint Cookies. Caroline said she would love to have used candy cane flavour kisses to make them even more festive, but I think they look great as they are.

Sarah at Maison Cupcake entered her Festive Mini Coffee Cupcakes. They have coffee in the cakes and frosting, plus shards of Aero chocolate atop. Added gold sprinkles make these very festive. Coffee in desserts is a favourite of mine, so thank you Sarah!

Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker was very busy throughout December and entered quite a few bakes. Firstly, she entered her double chocolate and hazelnut muffins. Anything with chocolate and hazelnut is a winner in my books!

She also entered these simple vanilla cookies made with vanilla bean paste. She used festive moulds, so there were snowmen, Christmas trees, gingerbread men and so on.

Sophie over at Feeria’s Cookery Journal made delicious chocolate and raspberry truffles for her mum’s 60th. Lucky mum! They are a very good idea for a holiday treat and are super easy to make too.

Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker entered another of her bakes – Gingerbread Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting! I could die happy with a bowl of that frosting by my side. And gingerbread seems to be such a hit this year in Christmas flavours.

Grace over at Life Can Be Simple entered a couple of her festive bakes – Tiramisu Cake which looks huge! It really sings to the Italian in me – it has coffee liqueur in it, so is another winner with me.

Grace also entered her Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes withCream Cheese Frosting, stating that the sprinkles on them were the happy and the alcohol was the celebrating part!

Corina at Searching for Spice entered her chewy Gingerbread Biscuits. They look delicious and seem such a breeze to make. Gingerbread is so popular this year.

Kate at the Gluten Free Alchemist made these Minty Chocolate Brownies – using gluten-free flour. The stars and glitter are so Christmassy!

More from Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker who made Gingerbread Christmas Tree Cookies. Using different sizes of tree cutters she stacked them up, but kept centres hollow so she could pack them with mini m&m’s – like piƱata cookies! Great idea.

Choclette from the Choc Blog Log sent in her Goat’s Cheese Choolate Truffles.I love that these have ripe goats cheese in them I’m sure the flavour is unique!

A good food blogger friend of mine – Keep Calm and Fanny On entered these vibrantly coloured Petit Fours. They are from Fanny Cradock’s recipe which she features on her Christmas cookery show repeated every year ad infinitum. I love these!!

Another friend of mine – Claire from What Claire Baked made these very festive Christmas Cupcakes – chocolate reindeer and Christmas tree cupcakes. She was giving them out to colleagues – lucky co-workers!!

Our first Antipodean entry to Treat Petite comes courtesy of Green Gourmet Giraffe. Johanne from Melbourne shared with us her Christmas Fudge and what Christmas will be like for her on the other side of the world from us. Her minty caramel layered fudge looks magic.

Charlene at Food Glorious Food brought us her Christmas Brownies – with added glace cherries and brazil nuts. These certainly meet the Happy Holiday criteria!

Caroline over at Caroline Makes entered another couple of bakes. Firstly her Christmas Cupcakes flavoured with brown sugar and cinnamon. Heavenly tastes and they look great adorned with a little cupcake Christmas kit she picked up.

Caroline also entered her Reindeer Pops. These are made from crumbed Madeira cake, dunked in chocolate and have pretzels as antlers and red m&m’s as noses. Too cute!

Elizabeth at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary entered these Whipped Shortbread Cookies which so light. These also featured on Steph’s Cookie Advent Calendar over at Kitchen Frolic.

Another bake from Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker – cornflake Christmas wreaths. These are a Nigella recipe and are made from melted mallows and cornflakes. Shaped into wreaths these look just like the real thing!

Ros also made these Irish Cream Chocolate Truffles– what’s Christmas without a glass of Irish Cream? These look very naughty!

Ros’s last festive bake for us is her Chocolate Orange cupcakes – made with orange frosting. As an added bonus they have a hidden (chocolate) gold coin on the inside. Chocolate Orange is another of those things which instantly remind you of Christmas.

Cupcake Girl from My Cupcake Habit entered these yummy looking ginger stars dusted with loads of icing sugar – makes me think of snow!

Siobhan from  Tasty Recipes and Other Stuff entered her Christmas Tiffin – it was jam packed full of the flavours of Christmas – ginger nuts, brandy, sultanas, raisins and chocolate – this tiffin would keep you very merry at Christmas.

Kat, my co-host from the Baking Explorer entered her MulledWine cupcakes – these actually have mulled wine in them so would pack a punch! The frosting had cinnamon and mixed spiced so would compliment the cupcakes very well.

And lastly my entry – Chocolate Pine Xmas Tree Cupcakes. I used pine essential oil to flavour the chocolate batter and piped mallow fluff on top of the baked cupcakes. Apart from the dodgy white chocolate stars on top, I was very happy with the way they turned out!

And that was Treat Petite for December 2013. A huge huge thank you to everyone who entered. I hope I have got everyone this month, but if not drop me a line! Pop by Kat’s blog soon to find out what she has in store for January.