Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Cakeyboi Alphabet - W

Almost at the end - this week W for Whipped...

Whipping in culinary terms is the process of beating something to incorporate air and therefore increase volume. Egg whites are a good example of this, as they are beaten they increase volume greatly and hold stiff peaks. Another example is cream. And did you know adding sugar and vanilla to whipped cream, gives it another name – Chantilly cream!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Ice Cream Heaven in NYC

It was my plan to eat ice cream at least once a day whilst in New York, but the weather really put paid to that plan sadly.

But I was determined to visit a couple of Ice Cream ‘Parlours’ whilst we were there.

The first one we did visit was the ‘Cold Stone Creamery’. Not many people my side of the pond will be familiar with the Creamery, but they are famous for lots of ice cream flavours and unlimited mix-ins which they incorporate into your chosen flavour, right in front of your eyes. In New York, the Cold Stone Creamery is tucked away in a unit, shared with a Tim Horton’s coffee shop. Just off Broadway and Times Square. It was a very busy Saturday afternoon, and the crowds were horrendous. Disneyboi spotted the store before I did and in we popped.

There were so many flavours to choose from, cookie dough, caramel latte, bubblegum, cinnamon to name but a very few. However, I chose cake batter flavour, which is becoming a bit of a favourite of mine. And to mix-in to this I chose cherry pie filling, rainbow sprinkles and gummi bears. There are tons of other mix-ins I could have had, candy bars, fruit, but I was happy with the resulting flavour. Disneyboi chose Oreo Cookie flavour ice-cream, and before you knew it he was handed a pot of the ice cream and not asked if he wanted any mix-ins. He was disappointed and we were confused. Still, we popped out onto the sidewalk to eat them and he had some of mine. I enjoyed it, and will go back on my next visit!

The other ice cream shop I had been dying to try was the ‘Big Gay Ice Cream Shop’, which I had seen on Food Network a couple times. We struggled to find the store, but eventually did, walking through near monsoon conditions (see pic below) and with Disneyboi’s feet literally bleeding. I apologise to him now, in front of you all, for dragging him there.

However, we both agreed it was worth the trek to the very east side of Manhattan. The store is fun, with unicorns on the wall, lovely staff (who told us they had another location now) and a bench on the inside (well, it was that day) so we could plonk our bums and enjoy their wares. 

They have treats called things like a Bea Arthur, a Monday Sundae, a Gobbler but arguably their most famous ice cream is called a Salty Pimp. This is a cone with soft serve ice cream swirled high, drizzled with dulce de leche caramel, sprinkled with sea salt, then dipped into chocolate which sets hard on top. If you are in New York, I urge you to try this! It was heaven, even though we were exhausted and wet, not your typical frozen treat conditions. 

The chocolate cracked as you bit through to the soft ice cream. Your mouth was filled with the happy caramel tones, before being hit by the sea salt twist. It was an amazing, amazing treat. In fact, it has inspired me to make a cupcake based on those very flavours that I will bring to you very soon.

Apologies for the quality of some of the pictures here – I was a combination of tired, hungry and excited, so they went blurry. But please go to the Big Gay Ice Cream website for a better visual of their frozen delights!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Wimbledon Cartoon Time

Cakeyboi didn't keep his eye on the ball!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Strawberries and Cream Truffles

It’s the start of Wimbledon fortnight and I thought I would make a treat based on that favourite indulgence of tennis spectators – strawberries and cream.

These Strawberry and Cream Truffles are very easy to make, very sweet and easy on the eye, so would look good on any Wimbledon party table. They are made using butter, cream cheese and icing sugar – very simple. I used strawberry flavoured icing sugar, which is easy to come by in the baking section now. But if you can’t find it, you could always add a teaspoon of strawberry flavouring to the mix and a dash of pink food colouring, to get the same effect.

Yield: approx. 30 truffles

113 grams full-fat cream cheese
30 grams unsalted butter, softened
250 grams strawberry flavoured icing sugar
250 grams plain icing sugar
300 grams white chocolate
Pink food colouring (optional)

In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese and butter until very soft and totally combined. Next slowly add the icing sugar, in gradual amounts mixing together until a dough type consistency has formed. Pop this into the fridge to chill for an hour.

After the hour take small 1” balls of the dough and roll these between your hands. It is best to dust your hands with icing sugar, as the truffles tend to stick less. Place these rolled balls onto a cookie sheet lined with greaseproof paper. When you have formed all the truffles, place in the fridge again to chill for 1-2 hours.

Melt the white chocolate in a bowl, over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the pan doesn’t come into contact with the water. When melted, roll each of the chilled truffles in it, coating completely and draining any excess chocolate. Place back on the greaseproof paper and allow to harden in the fridge again 1-2 hours. With the remaining white chocolate, add pink food colouring, and drizzle this over the hardened truffles. Allow the drizzle to set, so back in the fridge for about half an hour.

There you have Strawberries and Cream Truffles. They are best kept in the fridge until you are ready to eat them as they do get quite soft when warm. But once out of the fridge they won’t be around long! Enjoy….

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Cakeyboi Alphabet - V

In the Cakeyboi Alphabet, V is for Vanilla.

Vanilla, the flavour, actually comes from the orchid plant. It is the second most expensive flavouring after saffron, but is widely used throughout the world. In culinary use it comes as a pod, which you split to release the flavoured seeds, as powder or as extract, which contains alcohol. 

And vanilla is the most common flavour of ice cream, often referred to as ‘plain’, but as we all know it is anything but!!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Manhattan = Candyland!

On our recent trip to New York , we visited a couple of candy emporium’s – or sweet shops as I am more inclined to call them!

On our first night there, we popped into the Hershey Store, which is brilliantly decorated on the exterior with loads of ‘candy’.

Now, I know Hershey’s chocolates are not to everyone’s taste, but I do love it’s unique flavour. Fear not though if you are in Manhattan, Hershey’s do way more than just chocolate. They are also famous for Jolly Ranchers, Icebreakers, Reese’s Peanut Butter and Chocolate, Twizzlers and much more. The store sells lots of souvenirs alongside the confections and I picked up a Reese’s coffee beaker, a plastic shopping bag thingy full of Kisses as well as some sweets. There were keychains, photoframes, the usual touristy stuff, but I resisted.

We popped over the street to the M&M’s store, which was really the same as the one in Leicester Square in London, but I did take the snap above of Miss Green dressed as the Statue of Liberty. I always find it strange that M&M’s stores don’t stock other flavours such as Peanut Butter, Coconut or Pretzel, only their chocolate and peanut. Think they are missing a trick there.

Next stop on the candy trail was in New York’s most famous toy shop – FAO Schwarz. This is well known for it’s ‘big’ keyboard which was seen in the 1988 film ‘Big’ starring Tom Hanks. But a huge section of the store was dedicated to sweets or FAO Schweetz  as they called them. They had lots of ‘big’ sweets too, giant gummi bears, mahoosive marshmallow peeps and the gigantic Rice Krispie Treat at the top of the page. I had to take a photo of this, what with Cakeyboi having made a few over the past year!

They also had these ‘Poofy Pops’ which I found very amusing! I don’t think they were intentionally being homophobic about the lolly!!

Aside from lots of other convenience stores where I stocked up on more sweets, we visited Dylan’s Candy Bar on 3rd Ave. Imagine if Walt Disney spawned a Candy Store, this is what it would be like! Dylan’s is famous in the US and is adorned inside with candy EVERYWHERE! The floors, the walls, the ceilings. 


There were three levels  – ground level, with a giant chocolate bunny greeting us, lolliopops on the ceiling and sweets everywhere.

Upstairs had a bar and café, but we didn’t venture too far into there what with lack of time. But the basement level was vast and had even more candy, clothing, sweets for pets, cushions, mugs and everything in between. The songs playing were all on the theme of sweets and when we made a purchase we were told to have a sweet night! It was great fun.

And I did make a purchase of four flavoured chocolate bars, Brownie Batter, Birthday Cake with sprinkles, Angel Food Cake and Bacon flavour chocolate. The first three were eaten in quite quick succession. The bacon is still languishing somewhere…definitely an acquired taste.

New York certainly was a sugar rush! More Americana yet to come…

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Funny Photo Wednesday

Not in the slightest bit baking related, but we came across this shop in New York - we think it was a shop for doggy fashion accessories !!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Cakeyboi takes a bite from the Big Apple!

We are back from New York and I am still exhausted! I have no idea why jet lag affects me so badly.

But we had a fantastic few days in the Big Apple. The reason for our trip was a joint celebration, the fact Disneyboi and I have been together 10 years and I have a certain birthday coming up very soon. Sadly the weather wasn’t the best whilst we were there, but Tropical storm Andrea didn’t spoil our time.

We arrived in a dry Times Square and headed straight for Starbucks as our plan was to keep our caffeine levels topped up throughout our trip, so we could keep going! The rain started not long after and kept going until Saturday and Sunday, which were dry, then the heaven’s opened again on the Monday.

We always get told off for not smiling much in photos!

I had been once before in the 1990’s, but we did all the main sights, as this was Disneyboi ‘s first time. So we saw the Statue of Liberty, went up the Empire State Building, went to the Top of the Rock, saw Times Square, Macy’s, Central Park, walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, you name it.

Our feet by the end of the trip were in agony, as we did walk for miles. We also spent loads of dollars, on useless nick-nacks, and of course food! I plan to write about the places we went for food over the next couple of weeks and even make a couple of sweet treats which were inspired by food I ate on our time away.

We had delicious cupcakes, gooey French toast, soft-serve ice cream, ‘candy’ and the obligatory hot dog and slice of pizza on the savoury side of things.

I plan to hit the gym again this week as my trousers are getting a bit ‘nippit’! But New York was great and sadly seems like a distant memory already. But I shall keep the memory alive here on Cakeyboi at least for a couple of weeks!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The Cakeyboi Alphabet - U

Don't worry, we are nearly at the end of the alphabet!!

I have really struggled with U, but I thought ugh! The noise you make when you eat something you don't like!

Something I have realised since baking so much more, is the old saying, 'you can please some of the people some of the time...'. Not everything I make appeals to everyone, but that doesn't mean it's not good, just that everyone has different tastes. So I don't get disheartened when some of my tasters don't like something, and nor should when baking.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Cherry Cream Ripple Choux Buns

Just back from holibobs, but here is a little something I prepared before I went...

I’ve wanted to try making choux pastry for yonks now. My mind is ingrained with an image of Fanny Cradock beating a pan of choux pastry, in full evening gown on her Christmas special. I didn’t want to don the evening gown mind, just give the pastry a whirl as it is very different to other forms. In fact choux pastry is very wet, made from water, butter, flour and eggs. It’s piped or spooned into shapes then baked, ‘til it has puffed and (hopefully) become hollow. You want it hollow so you can fill it with delicious ingredients such as crème patissiere, or in my case whipped cream swirled with cherry pie filling. I liked the look of swirling the pale cream and bright red fruit, and it tasted delicious too. Lastly I gave the buns a good dusting of icing sugar. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy these were to make…

Choux Pastry:
100 grams plain flour, sifted
150 ml water
75 grams butter
4 eggs, beaten
Pinch of salt
adapted from Rachel Allen: Bake!

300ml whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Bag of cherry pie filling
Icing Sugar to dust.

Preheat the oven to 170oC. Line a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Have another on stand-by as you may need two.

In a large saucepan, add the water and butter. Over low heat, melt the butter, then increase the heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the flour and salt. Stir, with a wooden spoon, until fully combined with the liquid ingredients then return to a medium heat. Stir the mixture until it starts to stick slightly to the base of the pan. Remove from the heat once again and allow to cool for a minute or two.

Add the eggs, a little bit at a time. Stir completely between each addition. The mixture does break up, but keep stirring and it soon comes together again. Add enough eggs until you get a smooth and shiny ‘dropping’ consistency. You might not need all the egg, but discard what you don’t need, once the pastry gets to the right stage. Next place the mixture in a piping bag, with a plain tip, about ½” wide. 

Pipe bun shapes, like frosting the top of a cupcake, or pipe 5” long fingers, whatever you prefer. I did a mix of the two (but forgot to take a photo). Remember to keep a bit of space between the shapes as they do expand. Pop into the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. They will have become golden and puffed.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before carefully peeling then from the greaseproof paper. Let them cool thoroughly on a wire rack.  You should end up with a crisp shell, which when opened is hollow.

To make the filling, I whipped the cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff. I then took the pie filling and smeared this up the sides of a clean piping bag, before add the whipped cream. Pipe a little on paper as a trial, until the ripple effect appears. Then pipe into your split shells. Lastly, dust with icing sugar and enjoy.

This recipe can be used to make little buns for profiteroles too, just make them a bit smaller and adjust the cooking time accordingly. But it is a surprisingly easy recipe to get to grips with, so give it a whirl!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Normal Service Will Be Resumed Shortly!

We are off on 'vacation' just now. If you would like to find out where, follow Cakeyboi on Twitter and Facebook to see more...

Monday, 3 June 2013

AT LAST! Scottish Tablet

This may not seem like much to you my dear readers, but to me it is phenomenal! I have at long last, at LONG last, succeeded in making tablet!

One of the first posts on Cakeyboi was my failure at making tablet. And to be honest, I have tried before then and a few times since. With no luck. Armed with yet another recipe I found online and with a couple of tweaks, tablet was finally made.

For those not in the know, tablet is a treat, Scottish in origin, which lies somewhere near fudge and toffee on the confectioner line up. Yet, it’s not chewy or brittle like some toffees, nor is it as soft as fudge. It’s sort of crumbly with  a vanilla, sweet, buttery taste. Having said this, the recipe I followed did not use butter, so maybe it’s not real tablet, but it certainly tasted like it and has the same texture.

This is definitely for the sweet of tooth. Once tried, you will be a convert. The recipe involves boiling sugar to very high temperatures, so if you are scared by the thought of molten lava, maybe get someone else to make it for you…

453 grams of sugar (or 1lb)
120 ml milk
397 grams (small tin) sweetened condensed milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
(adapted from All Recipes)

Line an 8”x8” baking tin with foil and grease very lightly. Set aside.
In a large pan place the sugar and 120ml of milk, heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved. Add the tin of condensed milk and bring this to the boil, keep it boiling for 15 to 20 minutes. The mixture will start off a very pale golden colour and turn amber during the process. Don’t stir either when boiling, just keep an eye on it. A good tip I have learned, if you are concerned about something boiling over in the pan, place a wooden spoon, or other utensil across the top of the pan. For some reason, this prevents whatever is cooking from boiling over. Works for me anyway!

The mixture will have become darker as I said and will appear thicker. Add the vanilla (careful as it will bubble severely). 

Remove from the heat and with a balloon whisk, beat the mixture (carefully, molten lava everywhere = not good). Beat it hard and fast for at least 5 minutes. I broke my whisk doing this FYI. The mixture will become even thicker and lighten slightly in colour again. I knew it was ready when I saw wisps of the mixture on the side of the pan crystallise. Pour into the prepared pan and allow this to cool for 10 minutes before scoring the mixture into pieces, with a knife. Actually, I didn’t do this, so when it came to breaking it up, my pieces were sort of haphazardly shaped! Allow this to cool completely, at least 4 hours. The bottom of the pan should not be remotely warm, and then you will know it is ready. Remove from the pan with the help of the foil and cut into the pre-scored pieces.

There you have Scottish Tablet. It’s a sweet and comforting treat, which is a nice alternative to toffee or fudge. And goes great with a cup of coffee. To be honest, I have found tablet making a very perplexing process, and have luckily hit on a recipe (with my own tweaks) which works for me. I hope it works for you too!