Saturday, 31 August 2013

Cartoon Saturday, Capt. Cakeman on Evap and Condensed, plus GBBO Week 2

Firstly a cartoon which I've shown before, but is kinda apt for those of you in the UK, this weekend...

Captain Cakeman is here...

Hi Katie,
Evaporated milk and condensed milk are very different products. Let’s start with Evaporated.
Evaporated milk is ordinary milk which has had around 60% of it’s water content removed. It is then canned and the cans are heated to prevent bacteria growing, giving it a long-shelf life. This heating process gives the sweet taste evaporated milk has. I have read that if you add enough water to evaporated, you end up with regular milk again! Not sure if that is true, as the sweet flavour might make it taste a tad different.

Now, condensed milk is milk which has sugar added to it, and had some of it’s water content removed. Due to the amount of sugar added (about 45%) it is a much thicker product, used in many recipes. Condensed milk without the added sugar used to be quite common but is now nearly unheard of. Like evaporated milk, canned sweetened condensed milk has a very long shelf life.

The two are not interchangeable in recipes! I hope this answers your questions Katie.

And lastly GBBO week 2, thought of the week - Poor Lucy, I'm not saying I could do any better, but I thought the bread was supposed to be a showstopper - not a doorstopper!!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Chocolate Covered Breadsticks

Did you watch the Great British Bake Off? Have we all been baking breadsticks then? No? Neither have I!

But breadsticks did give me a great idea for a very quick and simple edible treat that would be great for kids parties.

I bought a couple of packs of plain breadsticks from the supermarket and pimped them with melted chocolate and sprinkled different toppings on the chocolate. I don’t know about you, but I have loads of leftover jars of sprinkles in my drawer, crying out to be used.

They were so easy and cute to look at. Like I say, great for kids to knock up and enjoy. But then I made some with plain chocolate and nuts, coconut and salt. All of a sudden these child-friendly snack-sticks became elegant party nibbles for grown-ups!

 So, take your pick – kids party or adults soiree! Either way these are delicious

2 packs of plain breadsticks (make your own if you wish!!)
150 grams white chocolate
150 grams plain chocolate
Toppings (such as sprinkles, chopped nuts, sea salt)

You guessed it, melt the chocolate (microwave or bain marie)! Dunk half the sticks in the chocolate of your choice and sprinkle with any topping you so desire.

Place the sticks on greaseproof paper and allow the chocolate to set by placing them in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Now, as Ina would say, how easy is that!!


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

GBBO Cartoon Time!

Stretching things a bit I know, but sort of GBBO themed...

Monday, 26 August 2013

Baking Mad Challenge - Strawberry Flapjacks

I was recently contacted by the good people over at brilliant baking website Baking Mad, asking if I would like to take part in a challenge, which was to remake any of the recipes on their website.

I poured over the numerous recipes on the site and really couldn’t decide; should I make one of their scone recipes or cheesecake recipes for example?

In the end I settled on making Strawberry Flapjacks. They looked delicious and I remembered seeing some lovely looking strawberries in the supermarket the day before. Why not cling on to the tastes of summer whilst we can?

Also, there is nothing to beat the smell of oats and syrup baking together. It’s a smell that really takes me back to my childhood – my mum and gran used to make syrupy, oaty biscuits when I was younger - delicious (maybe a future bake to share with you). Here’s how I made the flapjacks:

Yield: An 8” round flapjack

85 grams, unsalted butter, softened
85 grams light muscovado sugar
150 grams porridge oats
150 grams washed and chopped strawberries
3 tablespoons golden syrup

Grease an 8” round cake tin and pre-heat your oven to 180oC.
In a bowl mix together the butter and sugar until smooth, fluffy and light in colour.
Add the syrup and mix this through. Next add the oats and mix thoroughly, before adding the strawberries and mixing them through too.

Place the mixture into the oven and press down so the mixture is smooth and packed together nicely. Place into the oven for 20 minutes, or until the mixture becomes bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.

At this stage I added 50grams of melted white chocolate, drizzled over the top. This wasn’t in the original recipe, but I was melting white chocolate for something else and had some left over.

Lastly I sliced the flapjack into wedges and plated up. These were quite soft flapjacks, the strawberries probably keep the bake moist as they go quite jammy. But they are very, very delicious nonetheless.

So there we have my Baking Mad challenge entry. Pop over and have a look at the tons of recipes they have to offer (as long as you pop back and visit Cakeyboi of course!). Enjoy…

I am also entering these Strawberry Flapjacks into Teatime Treats hosted by Karen at Lavendar and Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked. The theme this month is Flapjacks, Oats and Traybakes, so this ticks the boxes!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Read All About It! Cakeyboi hits the press, Capt. Cakeman returns and week one of GBBO!

If you don’t follow Cakeyboi on Facebook or Twitter you might have missed the fact that recently I was mentioned in my local press. Thanks to coming runner-up in the Renshaw Royal Baby Cake Competition, I made the news, in both the Dundee Courier and Arbroath Herald! Pop over and have a look at my 15 minutes of (local) fame…

Captain Cakeman is back to answer your questions...

Pauline, I think I might know what is going wrong here! I too had trouble with sloppy cream cheese frosting, until I realised I needed to use full-fat cream cheese ALWAYS! You need the fat content in the cream cheese to make the frosting more stable. Light cream cheese and you get a runny consistency. This is one area where you really can’t substitute something a wee bit healthier! I hope this has solved your issue Pauline. If not get back in touch and let me know!

And finally - Great British Bake Off, Week 1, Thought of the Week:
Sue Perkins announces and I quote ‘This year’s judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry’. This year’s? Do they know something we don’t?....

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Speculoos Fudge

My friend and co-worker Charmaine’s 10 year old son has recently discovered the joys of Speculoos. You remember Speculoos – my foodie obsession this year – the little cinnamony biscuits but in paste form. It’s also called Biscoff or Cookie Butter.

I’ve made a frosting from it, blondies and doughnuts. So when Adam decided he liked it, I had to come up with something else to make for him, didn’t I?

I thought I’d be adventurous and attempt Speculoos Fudge – I have never made fudge successfully before, but I am never afraid to give things a bash, so off I set. I used a recipe from the Figgy Bakery website as my inspiration.

It calls for a lot of sugar, so apologies now to Charmaine if Adam’s teeth fall out! But it is delicious. The texture actually turned out like Scottish Tablet, but Speculoos Tablet didn’t have quite the same ring to it! This was surprisingly easy to knock up….

450 grams granulated sugar
125 ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)
250 grams Speculoos
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
adapted from Figgy Bakery

Line an 8”x8” tin with foil and set aside.

In a large bowl mix the Speculoos and the vanilla together. Over in a saucepan, place the sugar and milk and place on medium-high heat. Pop in a sugar thermometer and allow the milk sugar syrup to come to 116oC.

Remove from the heat and pour over the Speculoos. Carefully mix all of the ingredients together until combined. It will be sticky and thick.

Place the mix into the tin and press down firmly. After 10 minutes, score into squares (I didn’t, but it makes it easier to cut when hard). Allow it to cool completely or leave overnight as did.

There you have a crumbly delicious fudgy (tablet-like) cinnamon-esque sweet treat to enjoy. How easy was that?!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Cartoon Time - Empire Biscuit Strikes Back

It's the sequel to Cupcake Wars...

Monday, 19 August 2013

I found my thrill on Cinnamon Hill (and made some Horchata)!

I love, love, LOVE cinnamon. You might be able to tell from the number of recipes I have which incorporate the stuff. Check out my Cinnamon Stacked French Toast, Pennsylvania Dutch Spice Loaf, Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts, to name but a few!

Until earlier this year I did not know that there are different types of cinnamon. I was watching an episode of America’s Test Kitchen who were carrying out a taste test of different cinnamons and they explained that in America they are used to Saigon cinnamon and the rest of the world tends to get Ceylon cinnamon. Both are delicious in different ways.

And did you know cinnamon is the peeled bark of the cinnamon plant? Cinnamon is Indonesian for 'Sweet Wood'. Ceylon cinnamon is sweet and citrus-like where as Saigon cinnamon is sweet and spicy. For me, Saigon is my personal favourite.

Recently I was introduced to a company called Cinnamon Hill who supply fresh cinnamon. I was lucky enough to be sent a pack of their Ceylon and Saigon cinnamon sticks to try along with their very stylish grater and cup set. Cinnamon they explain is best when freshly grated and after trying it fresh, I can certainly vouch for that.

Cinnamon Hill’s cinnamon is freshly picked and their packs are printed with the date it was harvested. The grater, made from honey oak and laser-etched stainless steel, has been exclusively designed for grating cinnamon, straight into the ceramic cup. Pop over to Cinnamon Hill’s website and take a look.

I decided to use the cinnamon in a drink I had tried for the first-time recently in a Mexican restaurant. The drink is called Horchata and if you are not familiar with it, it is a sweet milky drink which is also spicy thanks to cinnamon.

After looking a tons of horchata recipes on-line I decided to come up with a version of my own. A bit of a cheats version, as there is no blanching of almonds or grinding of white rice. Here’s how I made it…

1 tablespoon ground rice
500 ml cold water
750 ml unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon freshly grated cinnamon, plus more to garnish
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Agave Nectar, to taste

In a large jug, combine the ground rice and cold water. Leave this to sit for a couple of hours. I left mine overnight.

After the ground rice has been soaked, pour it into a blender with the almond milk, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and vanilla extract. Blitz for a good 30 seconds. Try a spoonful and add Agave Nectar to sweeten the deal. I used two tablespoons, add as much or as little as you prefer and blitz again for another 30 seconds.

Pour into glasses, filled with ice if you wish, and grate cinnamon on top. Place a cinnamon stick in each glass too if you want to be really fancy.

I love horchata. It is creamy and cold and refreshing. I think my take on it is a perfect cheat’s version – enjoy!

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this post. I was sent the cinnamon, grater and cup free to review and any opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Darling's Coffee Shop

This week I popped into a local coffee shop in Arbroath High Street for (I’m embarrassed to say it) the first time. I met with Sharlene the manager who told me all about the concept behind Darling’s Coffee Shop.

Darling’s is a social enterprise, developed by ENABLE Scotland, which offers young people with learning disabilities the chance to gain skills and experience in the hospitality and catering industry.

They have an array of fine teas and coffees (fair-trade) and delicious looking home baking. On the savoury side they offer freshly cooked snacks and lunches, all made on the premises. I popped into the kitchen to say hi to some of the guys, and the smells that hit me were mesmerising!

Sharlene took me behind the scenes of the coffee shop where she showed me a meeting room where the trainees receive their initial training, before they go on to work in the coffee shop itself. She proudly told me that Darling’s has so far had 40 trainees through their doors, 13 whom have since moved onto paid employment. A great achievement I’m sure you will agree.

All money made by the coffee shop is re-invested in training and support. It helps to create life-changing opportunities for it’s young people.

Sharlene also stressed to me the importance of community spirit and how much she wants Darling’s Coffee Shop to be very much at the heart of Arbroath and it’s High Street. Going by what I saw there is plenty of heart in the coffee shop already.

So much so that Darling’s is up for an award! It is in the running for the RBS Community Project of the Year in conjunction with STV. STV will be airing a show on the nominees in the autumn and when Darling’s broadcast is on and for the following week you can vote for it – I will keep you up-to-date with that, so you can vote along with me.

And as a lover of art, I was also struck by the artwork on the walls of the coffee shop, which is for sale. Local artists from Angus Council’s pARTicipate art group produce the work.

Now that I have discovered Darling’s I will be visiting on a more regular basis, and voting for it to be the RBS Community Project of the Year when the time is right.

If you are on the east coast of Scotland and in the Arbroath area, please do pop along and show your support for the project by enjoying a cuppa and a cake and to meet the great trainees who make Darling’s a very welcoming place indeed.

Darling’s Coffee Shop has it’s own Facebook page and Twitter feed also. Pop over to say hi!

ENABLE Scotland is the country’s largest organisation for children, young people and adults with learning disabilities, their families and carers, established in 1954.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Squashed Smurf S'mores

It’s National S’mores Week (apparently)!

If you are from the UK, you might not know what a S’more even is – but I can assure you they are delicious – and very easy to put together.

S’mores are a campfire favourite – toasting marshmallows over an open fire, before sandwiching the molten sugary treat between two graham crackers along with some chocolate (usually Hershey’s). Now – we don’t get graham crackers easily in the UK, but they kinda have the texture of digestive biscuits, which are an excellent substitute. Hershey’s chocolate is not to everyone’s taste, so some chocolate chips are a perfect go to for this.

And fear not, no need for a campfire; just a bog standard microwave oven will melt the marshmallows perfectly.

I’m using smurf shaped marshmallows my young friend Emily brought me back from her holibobs – where she visited a Haribo factory. Honestly, I was sooo jealous! But any marshmallow of your choosing will do just fine.

Simply layer your biscuit, be it a graham cracker (I found some in my local Chinese supermarket would you believe) or digestive with a marshmallow, or two, and sprinkle with some chocolate chips. Pop in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds. The mallows will puff up so when the time is up you might have to reposition them back onto the biscuit.

Place another biscuit on top to make a sandwich – and hey presto – you have a s’more.

Very easy and great fun for kids – just make sure the mallows have cooled a bit before enjoying.

Disclaimer: No real smurfs were harmed in the making of this treat!

I am also entering this treat into this month's Alphabakes - the letter this month is 'G' which covers the graham crackers in this recipe. Alphabakes is a challenge set by Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline at Caroline Makes...., and  this month hosted by Caroline.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Monday, 12 August 2013

Fried Croissant Dippers

If you are wondering what a Cronut is – where have you been? Cronuts are the latest food fad – basically deep fried croissant dough. Usually in the shape of a doughnut.

They were invented in New York by Chef Dominique Ansel and have become big news. Now, I wasn’t lucky enough to try one when we were in the Big Apple the other month. But you know me, where there’s a will there’s a way!

When I came across cans of croissant dough in the supermarket I thought why not give them a try myself? Then I looked online and saw that a lot of others had gotten the same idea! I wondered how I could change them up a bit, then it hit me.

Why not cut the croissant dough into triangles, like tortilla chips, fry it up and serve it with little pots of jam – or whatever 'condiment' I was in the mood of! Chips and dip have never been so decadent...

1 can of chilled croissant dough
Groundnut or other flavourless oil
100 grams of sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Mix the sugar and cinnamon on a plate and set aside.

Open the can of chilled croissant dough and cut into tortilla chip sized triangles.

In a large saucepan pour the oil about two inches deep. Place on the heat and allow it to come up to 180oC. Keeping the heat steady, fry off three triangles at a time, turning over every now and again so each side is evenly brown.

Remove from the heat with a slotted spoon or tongs and place onto kitchen paper, to absorb any excess oil, for a few seconds. Then roll each dipper into the cinnamon sugar mix.

The hot, fluffy dippers are ready to enjoy, to eat on their own or to be dipped into strawberry jam (as I did), maple syrup, spread with a little PB? It’s up to you.

The dippers were delicious but filling – a very indulgent treat. If you give them a go – enjoy!!