Saturday, 31 May 2014

Clandestine Cake Club Dundee May 2014

It was another Clandestine Cake Club in Dundee and this time I was host.

It’s actually getting really tricky to find new venues for the club – Dundee has a lot of places, but not all have space for clubs, or are willing to let you have the venue gratis.

A bar had recently reopened in the Seagate area called Cask and Cork. I ventured in and asked if they would be willing to host, and they kindly agreed. What they failed to tell me was that they had a singer on the same night!

I turned up at the bar, and was greeted by my fellow cake clubbers and the sound of the gentleman singing. He had a great voice. Opinion seemed divided though. Some clubbers liked having the music and others found it too noisy! You can’t keep everyone I suppose...

The theme I chose for this Cake Club outing was ‘Childhood Memories’. I asked the bakers to bring along cakes which they may have liked as a child, or baked with an adult when they were young. Or alternatively they could decorate a cake with sweets from their childhood, or even base it on a TV show, pop group or toy they liked when young.

And the cakes did not disappoint.

We had a mandarin gateaux, a rhubarb streusel cake, a classic Victoria sandwich, and a Dorset Apple cake.

Then we had an Oreo cake, a Frasier Cake,  rhubarb and rosewater yoghurt cake and a battenburg.

I know I shouldn't have favourites, but I loved the picture on top of Jane's Rhubarb and Rosewater Yoghurt cake. Oh and I wish Jane's daughter a speedy recovery by the way!

My own creation was a rainbow layer cake which I thought initially represented Multi-Coloured Swap Shop with Noel Edmonds, which I used to love on a Saturday morning. But someone then said it was a rainbow – what about the TV show Rainbow. So take your pick. I also decorated the outside with buttercream and crushed meringue, something I remember from birthday cakes of old. And I then I added some retro sweets on top. Check out my post later in the week to see how I made the cake.

The night was great and everyone took lots of leftovers of cake, and left with a full tummy!

The Cask and Cork was formerly a cinema in Dundee and was transformed into a bar in the early 2000's.

7 Seagate
Telephone: 01382 202212

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Chocolate Lime Krispie Treats + Giveaway Winner

It dawned on me recently I hadn’t made krispie treats in a good while. At the start of Cakeyboi I made them quite a lot. They are easy to put together and I find you can change the flavours up quite a bit.

I’ve made Lemon Meringue Pie flavour, Black Forest, BirthdayCake and more.

And for inspiration this time I looked at the jars of sweets in my local paper shop, ready to be dispensed into quarters, in a wee white poke!

I used to love Chocolate Limes especially. Remember them? An unusual combination of flavour, which makes the two components taste completely different when eaten together.

I loved the hard sugary lime ‘boiling’ on the outside followed by the chocolate centre. How well would these work as krispie treats and how could I get that flavour into said delights?

Well, instead of plain old Rice Krispies, I reached instead for a box of Coco Pops, a cereal I used to shovel into me by the bowlful when I was a child. I believe too, they are called different names in different countries. In the US they are called Cocoa Krispies and Choco Krispies in large parts of Europe. Who knew? So, that was the chocolate part taken care of.

And for the lime, I used, well – a lime! I added fresh lime juice to the marshmallows and sprinkled lime zest over the simple icing I drizzled over the top.

Once they set up, they were a nice alternative to ordinary krispie treats and I may have to think of other chocolate combinations, but for now – here is how I made them!

Yield: 16 squares approx.

200 grams mini marshmallows
30 grams unsalted butter
125 grams Coco Pops
Juice of two limes
Zest of one lime
Icing Sugar (amount will vary)

Grease a pan approximately 8”x12” in size and set aside.

In a large saucepan, place the butter and marshmallows over low heat and stir until they are melted. 

Stir in the juice of one lime. Add the coco pops and stir the mixture thoroughly so all of the cereal is coated with the mallow.

Transfer to the prepared pan and press it down firmly, so it is even all over the top. Allow this to set for at least two hours.

Remove from the pan, after they have set, and cut into squares.

Make a simple icing from icing sugar and lime juice. A few tablespoons of icing sugar and a few drops of lime juice should be enough.

Drizzle this over the top of the bars and sprinkle with the lime zest. Allow the icing to set, about one hour.

And there you have a time machine, transporting you back to those chocolate lime sweeties. But these are even better course! Enjoy…

And congratulations go to Laura from Kent who won the OXO Baking Bundle!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Beef and Onion Scones

Do you remember my savoury chicken and rosemary scones the other week? Well, I thought I would play about with the savoury side again and came up with these beef and onion scones.

I never used to make scones, but I love it now. They are very adaptable and are great either sweet or savoury. These ones were dreamt up because of my love of beefy flavour crisps. Of course, there is no pieces of actual beef, but all the flavour of beef stock cubes.

And to impart the onion flavour, I decided to use those yummy little fried onions that you can but to shake over salads. You know the ones.

The recipe is very similar to that of the chicken and rosemary variety…

Yield: 12 – 14 scones

150 grams self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 beef stock cubes, crumbled
1 teaspoon sugar
70 grams cold, unsalted butter, cubed
3 or 4 teaspoons onion salad crispies (more if you like it oniony)
180 ml buttermilk
Coarse salt (optional)

In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, baking powder, beef stock cube and sugar. Add the butter cutting into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or the two knife method. You should be left with pea sized pieces of butter throughout the mix.

Add the onions and buttermilk and mix just until the dry ingredients have absorbed the liquid.
Turn the dough out onto a floured worktop and shape into a rough oblong about ½ inch thick. Cut out shapes (  I used a rectangle cutter) and place the cut scones on to a lined baking tray, slightly apart.

Cover the tray with clingfilm when all scones have been cut out. Place the tray into the fridge for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C in the meantime. After the hour, brush the tops of the scones with a little buttermilk. Grind some salt on top, if using. Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. They will rise and become golden brown on top.

Denise in my office loves my savoury bakes and she snaffled these up. They are great with or without a little butter spread on them. And Joanne in my office said they would make perfect little party hors d’oeuvres spread with a little cream cheese and bit of chive on top.

If you make I hope you do like them. I did think about making more savoury scones with a fish stock cube, but everyone turned their nose up at that idea. What do you think…?

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Chop Chop, Haymarket, Edinburgh {REVIEW}

When I was asked if I’d like to visit Chop Chop Chinese restaurant in Edinburgh's Haymarket and write about my experience, I initially wondered how this would tie in with my baking obsessed website.

I don’t often feature savoury food and let’s face it Chinese restaurants are not usually renowned for their desserts. But how wrong could I be? VERY, it turns out! Read on…

Myself, Jac from Tinned Tomatoes and Genna from Blethering Boys visited the restaurant on Tuesday evening and had what turned out to be one of the most interesting culinary experiences I have certainly had in a while.

We found the restaurant easily, but the yellow exterior really does not convey the magic of what lies inside.
We were greeted by a very friendly maitre d who sat us at our table near to the window. Perfect for taking the food photos.

The maitre d, we forgot to ask his name - but he was very helpful, explained that the food served in Chop Chop is the way in which food is traditionally served in China. It’s very much like tapas in that you order and share lots of smaller dishes with your dining companions.

As both Jac and Genna are vegetarian, and I love my veg, we decided to go for the vegetarian banquet for 4. All of the banquets on offer are totally unlimited if everyone at your table is joining in. This means you can re-order the food as much as you like. Be warned though, the portions are deceptive and are really filling.
For our vegetarian banquet we received vegetable dumpling, in two varieties, a cucumber salad, tofu salad, crispy shredded potato, aubergines, green beans and chilli, boiled rice plus more.

Everything we ate tasted so fresh and was packed full of flavour. When I eat vegetarian, I am always amazed how different the flavours can be in the food. Nothing was bland and could not be faulted at all. We did re-order the crispy shredded potatoes which were amazing.

And as we were reviewing the restaurant, we had to sample the desserts. As I said at the top, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of sweet things. Of course, I was completely wrong. I have never eaten such delicious desserts in a Chinese restaurant in my life. We ordered a sample of most things from the dessert menu (blush!) and we were all blown away!

We had mixed fruit dumplings which Jac likened to little apple pies – they were gorgeous. Then we had peanut dumplings – oh my goodness!! Fried dumplings filled with peanut butter, raisins, sugar and sesame seeds – these could not be any better. Heaven!

We were also given a selection of ice creams and sorbets. We had chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice creams and lemon and mango sorbets. I often think of Chinese restaurant ice creams to be just cheap fillers for the menu. These were not. They were creamy, flavourful and the sorbets were so palate cleansing.

We had a Chinese version of Baked Alaska, called Baked Mongolia, which was ice cream fried in a dumpling. Hot and cold and scrumptious.

Lastly we sample the sugar strung apples. Wedges of apple in a caramelised sugar coating, with sesame seeds. We were confused initially as to why they came on a bed of cucumber, but these prevented them sticking to the plate. 

This dish was served with a bowl of ice water. The idea is that you take a piece of apple, with its stringy wisps of caramel, then dunk it momentarily into the water. The caramel immediately hardens and turns the apples into little toffee apples. Amazing and delicious!

As you can image, all three of us were stuffed to the gunnels, but pleasantly so. This really was a Chinese restaurant experience like no other.

The restaurant has won numerous awards, including the AA Rosette (four years in a row) and it is easy to see why. Aside from the fantastic food, the staff are so attentive and are always close by to answer any questions or take another order.

Chop Chop also has locations in Edinburgh’s Leith area and in Glasgow’s Mitchell Street. I will definitely be returning, and may drag Disneyboi along also as I know he will love the experience.

I may even be tempted to join the loyalty scheme which is free to join. You receive 10% off meals Sunday through Thursday and get 5% off Friday and Saturday. Plus you receive money off vouchers when it is you or your partner’s birthday and your anniversary. Well worth signing up for.

Thank you to the staff at Chop Chop for a great evening! And why not read Genna’s take on the evening at her blog Blethering Boys?

Jac has also written about our visit over at Tinned Tomatoes.

Disclosure Statement: We received our meal for free to review. We were not expected to write a favourable review and any opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Peanut Butter Magic Bars and Giveaway Winner

peanut butter flavour bars with coconut
I’ve been trying to find the definition of a magic bar – and not had much success. But whatever its origins, this Peanut Butter Magic Bar variety is sure to be a hit with anyone who loves the nutty stuff.

They are super easy to make – if you can melt some butter, then you will find these a cinch. You basically layer all the ingredients together, bake and voila! The ingredients consist of a crunch cereal bottom, nuts, sweets, chips, coconut and condensed milk. The condensed milk does the job of keeping everything stuck together after it’s baked and ensures for a rich, sweet taste. I would say, when cutting these up into squares, bars whatever, keep them small as they are so decadent.

I went for a peanut butter variety as I love the stuff and I had recently come across some Reese’s Pieces in a shop, and I had some peanut butter chips at hand. These ingredients can be bought online in the UK if you can’t get hold of them in shops near you. Or, alternatively you could swap the ingredients up – chocolate chips instead of peanut butter ones. Mini  Smarties, or similar instead of Reese’s Pieces.

I used chopped peanuts, but you could use hazelnuts, pecans whatever nut takes your fancy. But a layer of coconut seems to be pretty much standard in magic bars, so don’t change that up, or the condensed milk.
And for the base I used crushed up cinnamon graham type cereal, for another dimension of flavour, but Golden Grahams, or other cereal would work just as well.

Here’s how easy they are:

Yield: 9”x13” pan of magic

150 grams crushed cereal, such as Cinnamon Grahams
115 grams, unsalted butter, melted
125 grams, chopped peanuts (salted or unsalted)
175 grams, peanut butter chips (or similar)
50 grams Reese’s Pieces (or similar)
150 grams, desiccated coconut
1 397 grams, can sweetened condensed milk

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line a 9”x13” pan with greaseproof paper or foil and grease lightly.

In a bowl stir together the crushed cereal and melted butter. Tip this into the prepared pan and spread evenly, so it coats the bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle the nuts evenly over the cereal. Then the chips, Reeses’s Pieces and then the coconut. Finish by pouring the condensed milk evenly over the ingredients.

Place into the oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly brown on top. Keep an eye on it, as it can turn dark brown quickly (mine’s did!).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before carefully removing from the pan using the foil or paper to lift.

Cut into rectangles or squares and your magic bars are ready.

Easy, peanutty, sweet and moist. These bars are certainly magic! Enjoy…

I am entering these Magic Bars into Sarah at Maison Cupcakes challenge 'Dead Easy Desserts' as they are so quick to make! this month it's hosted by Tina at The Spicy Pear.

And as I made these for my lovely colleagues at work, I am entering them into this month's Treat Petite challenge, hosted this month by Kat at The Baking Explorer. The theme is World Baking Day - Who Will You Bake For? 

Also, congratulations to Keith from Mid Glamorgan who won the Gillian Kyle Tunnocks Toe Bag. The bag should be with you soon!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Lemon and White Chocolate Meringue Cookies

I was definitely in the mood for something lighter. My gym mojo is on a bit of a hiatus at the moment and baking is having is undesired consequences. So, I thought – meringues! Okay, packed with sugar, but no fat.

But plain old meringues – not much Cakeyboi magic in that. So, how could I pimp my meringues? Lemon I thought, nice and refreshing. But then I felt like adding some white chocolate too – so I have completely defeated the purpose of making meringues in the first place, but hey these little beauties do taste good enough to make up for that!

You might be wondering where the cookie part comes into this, but in America it seems, meringues are considered cookies. In my Martha Stewart Cookies book there are recipes for meringue cookies. It’s just us Brits that think they should be filled with cream and eaten as dessert!

If you are in the mood for a puckery, tart, sugary confection with a hint of white chocolate running through it – look no further…

Yield: 36 meringue cookies approx..

6 egg whites, room temperature
225 grams granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
100 grams white chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 100C. Line to baking sheets with greaseproof paper.

In the bowl of a mixer whisk the egg whites on low until they get frothy. Add the extracts and turn the speed up to medium. Slowly add the sugar and when fully added crank the speed up to full, beating until the egg whites are stiff and glossy.

Carefully fold in the lemon zest and white chocolate and transfer to a piping bag, fitted with a nozzle big enough for the pieces of chocolate to pass through.

Pipe the meringues onto the prepared baking sheets and place them into the oven for one hour, not opening the door in that time. After the hour, turn the heat to 75C and continue to bake for another 2 hours, or until completely dry.

Let the meringues cool for 30 minutes before peeling them from the paper.

Very easy I’m sure you’ll agree! And they taste crunchy, citrusy and sweet all at the same time. Enjoy…

I'm entering these meringue cookies into this month's Alphabakes hosted alternately by Caroline at Caroline Makes and this month Ros at the More Than Occasional Baker. The letter is E and the predominant ingredient is Egg whites, so I hope that is not too tenuous!!