Saturday, 29 November 2014

Razzle Zazzle 'Em

Have you heard of Zazzle before?
To be honest, I hadn’t until a few weeks ago when they contacted me to ask if I would like to try their services. Established in 2000, Zazzle are an online global company where you can find unique gifts and products, some designed by leading world artists.

Or you can also create bespoke products by uploading your own pictures and text. There are literally thousands of items to choose from and I was offered a couple of goodies to try.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Treat Petite November 2014 Round Up

November is almost at it's end and as this post is published, it’s Thanksgiving Day in America. That was sort of the inspiration for the theme this month on Treat Petite.

We wanted you to think of someone who has done something special for you, been there for you – basically someone you would like to say ‘Thank You’ to and bake them something. Some played with that theme a little bit loosely (and in some cases didn’t notice a theme lol)! Still, in the spirit of the ‘Thank You’ theme I would like to thank everyone who took the time to submit their entries regardless. It really is appreciated!

Monday, 24 November 2014


flammkuchen, alsatian pizza, tarte flambee

At my work, buffets are renowned. We used to have them at the drop of a hat for any special occasion such as weddings, baby showers, folk leaving, even Halloween ones. We don’t have them quite as often as we used to now sadly, work is a very busy place and there's not as much time.

But a couple of Christmases ago (sorry for using th ‘C’ word there) one of the bosses brought in something I had never heard of before.

It was a bit like a pizza sans the tomato sauce with lots of charred onions and pancetta over it. Instead of the tomato sauce was a delicious creamy concoction I couldn’t quite place.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

That's What I Call New #3

Today I am away bringing you a few new items from my kitchen, in my feature 'That’s What I Call New'.

This is the third instalment and I have been sent a few of these, free to try out and some that I have purchased myself and love, so wanted to share with you!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Sweet Potato and Banana Squares

biscuit base, sweet potato and banana mousse filling and cream on top

What to do if you have run out of pumpkin?

Reach for the sweet potato of course! This combination of flavours (sweet potato and banana) is something I had heard mentioned briefly on Barefoot Contessa who was baking with pumpkin instead.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Blueberry Muffin Biscotti

I love blueberry muffins. I’m sure I’ve told you that in the past. But, back in my childhood, there was nothing blueberry in the UK at all!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Cakeyboi Radio!

Just a quickie today, I’m still getting over the horror of my radio appearance yesterday on BBC Radio Scotland’s Kitchen CafĂ©.
I’m sure you have heard of car-crash TV, but this was more like car-crash radio!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Maple & Walnut Bagels

Maple & Walnut Bagels

When I set the theme for Treat Petite this month, I had a bake in mind already.

In case you haven’t checked the theme out yet, it’s ‘Thank You’ and I’ve asked all of you to think of someone who has done you a good turn this year, been there for you, that sort of thing, all in the spirit of Thanksgiving. With that person in mind I’d like you to bake them something – Treat Petite styley.

Many moons ago, our local Sainsbury’s made maple flavoured bagels which Disneyboi absolutely adored. We would buy loads of them for that Canadian hit! Then they disappeared off the shelves without so much as a farewell.

Although it’s been many a year, we both pass by the bakery section looking for some maple bagel goodness without any joy.

With that in mind, and to say thank you to Disneyboi for putting up with me during a very mad year of food blogging (we’ve had conferences, GBBO auditions, random meetings in train stations, factory tours, interviews) I decided I would try to replicate those beloved bready O’s.

Maple & Walnut Bagels

I’ve never made bagels before, but did see them being baked on GBBO once. I remember big vats of boiling water and the bagels being plunged in like some poor defenceless lobster.

Nothing ventured however and I found a recipe on-line which I decided to tweak a little.

I added some walnuts for a bit of added crunch. I knew Disneyboi wouldn’t mind as long as there was pancake syrupy flavouring in there.

I was surprised how easy it was. The only bit half tricky was forming the shapes. I plunged my index finger in the middle of the dough ball, and twirled it around like a whirling dervish (whatever that is). And it made a circle of sorts.

Maple & Walnut Bagels

After boiling it in the water, which wasn’t too daunting after all, I popped them in the oven, out came chewy, soft, maple flavoured bagels for Disneyboi. And he loved them! Especially with a schmear of cream cheese on top.

And if you hadn't guessed these are my entry into this month's Treat Petite, hosted alternately by myself and Kat at the Baking Explorer.

print recipe

Maple Walnut Bagels
Maple flavour baked into a bagel!
Adapted from Baked By an Introvert
  • 500 grams strong bread flour
  • 2 ¼ tsp dry active yeast
  • 320 ml warm tap water
  • 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 60 ml Grade A maple syrup
  • 100 grams chopped walnuts
In the bowl of a stand mixer, place 250 grams of the flour, the yeast, sugar and warm water. Stir by hand so everything is well combined. Cover and leave to prove for 1 to 1½ hours, until it has doubled in size. Once risen, add the rest of the flour, salt, maple syrup and walnuts to the bowl and with the dough hook attached to the mixer, mix on medium slow for 10 minutes. If the mixture looks too dry and bits are left at the bottom of the bowl add water gradually until it comes together. Cover and prove again for 1 ½ to 2 hours. It will double in size. After it has proved transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead just a little. Divide into 8 equal portions and form these into balls. Cover and let prove for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, bring a pan of water to the boil. After the 20 minutes, flatten each ball slightly and push your finger through the centre of each disc. Twirl each on your finger until a bagel shape is formed. Place each bagel in the boiling water for a minute, then flip over for another minute before draining on a cooling rack. Preheat the oven to 200C and cover two baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Place 4 bagels on each sheet and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, turning once during baking, so the bottom gets browned. Leave to cool, then slice open and enjoy with a filling of your choice.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 bagels

Monday, 10 November 2014

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake

pumpkin cheesecake with spice and coffee

I’m sad. My favourite drink at Starbucks has been and gone for the year. Those pesky red cups have replaced my Pumpkin Spice Latte with Christmas-inspired drinks all too soon.

I love pumpkin spice lattes. They only introduced them in the UK a couple of years ago, after an on-line campaign proved successful. They were an instant hit and were even brought out a month early this year so we could savour them for longer. Still not long-enough in my opinion!

pumpkin cheesecake with spice and coffee

It was cake-club time a couple of weeks ago and I stumbled across a recipe for a Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake on the Kraft website. I loved the idea. My favourite drink in edible form! I knew this would prove a hit at the club – the theme being ‘Favourites’.

The original recipe used a cookie dough type base, but for me a cheesecake is not a cheesecake without a base made from crushed digestives (or graham crackers depending where you are) and butter. So I tweaked it a little to suit.

I still had some tinned pumpkin languishing at the bottom of the fridge and used this, plus for some added authenticity, a sachet of Starbucks Via for the coffee element.

pumpkin cheesecake with spice and coffee

The result was a deliciously rich cheesecake. Pumpkin spices, a little bit of coffee and a crumbly buttery base. Just like my favourite drink, it was so good I made it again to take to my cousins for dinner. And my family lapped it up too.

Here’s my version, tweaked from Kraft.

print recipe

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake
#PSL in a Cheesecake!
  • 250 grams digestive biscuits/graham crackers
  • 125 grams unsalted butter
  • 750 grams full-fat cream cheese
  • 225 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 225 grams pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • half teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3g sachet Starbucks Via instant coffee (I used Colombian)
  • 150 ml double cream
Line the base of a 9” spring-form tin with foil. Crush the biscuits either in a food processor or in a bag and whack with a rolling pin. Melt the butter and pour into the biscuits. Place into the prepared tin and press down firmly to an even-layer. Chill in the fridge for two hours. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the softened cream cheese with the sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla and eggs. Beat until combined. Place 400ml of this mix into a separate bowl. With the remaining mix, add the pumpkin and spices and beat until combined. Pour onto the chilled biscuit base. Add the instant coffee to the 400ml of cream cheese mix and stir until dissolved. Slowly pour this over the pumpkin cream cheese, so it is an even layer. Place the tin in a large roasting pan and pour boiling water into the roasting pan, about 1 inch high. (Double wrap the bottom of the cheesecake tin with foil, to ensure water doesn’t get in). Bake for 45 to 60 minutes. The cheesecake will puff and jiggle. It will also darken on top. The centre will almost look set. Allow to cool fully then refrigerate for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve, whip the cream until thick and spoon over the top of the cooled cheesecake. Sprinkle more of the spices on top for decoration. Slice and enjoy!.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 9” cheesecake

Saturday, 8 November 2014

What To Bake & How To Bake It {Book Review}
It’s that time when we are all thinking about what to get friends and family for Christmas. I don’t know about you, but I think it gets more and more difficult knowing what to get people.

But I was recently sent a book, which I thought would make a perfect gift for any budding baker, or anyone who loves cookbooks in general.

‘What To Bake and How to Bake It’ by Jane Hornby arrived via the postie and I was eager to have a look. The cover alone is visually impressive with a colourful drawing of some of the bakes you will find inside.

There are 50 recipes inside and the sections are split into the following:

Simple Family Baking
Morning Coffee and Afternoon Tea
Special Bakes
Desserts and After Dinner

Each recipe is photographed in easy to follow steps, with photos containing the ingredients and each step of the baking process. So it is ideal for those who may be wanting to get into baking. It really makes the whole process look incredibly simple.

The author Jane Hornby trained as a chef before becoming Cookery Writer and Food Editor of the BBC’s Good Food magazine for 5 years. So you know that with this book you will be in safe hands!

I decided to try one of Jane’s ‘Simple Family Baking’ recipes and went for the Fruity Cupcakes. Here’s the recipe;

Cupcake ingredients
110 grams soft butter
150 grams caster sugar
185 grams plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp salt
2 eggs, room temp
½ tsp vanilla extract
120 ml milk

Fruity Glaze ingredients
65g berries (fresh or frozen and defrosted)
Or 2 large ripe passion fruit
125-150 grams icing sugar

My Cupcake Method:
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a cupcake tray with 12 paper liners
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, sieve the flour, cornflour baking powder and salt.  Add half to the butter/sugar and mix in. Add the eggs, vanilla and half of the milk. Beat until smooth.
Add alternate amounts of the remaining flour and milk and mix in between each addition. Keep mixing until smooth.
Divide between the cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the centre.
Allow to cool fully.

Glaze Method:
Mash the fruit with a fork and sieve in the icing sugar. Stir to combine and spoon over the cooled cupcakes. Allow to set before digging in!

my attempt!
So, as you can see a very simple (yet tasty) recipe, but one which would be great for kids or a novice baker.

The bakes do get more complex, and include:
 fudgy cheesecake brownies
easy bake doughnuts
pumpkin pie
chocolate hazelnut log
mint-chocolate macarons, to name a few.

The step-by-step guide makes it great for anyone to follow and get the hang of.

‘What To Bake and How To Bake It’ is published by Phaidon books, costs £19.95 and is available from Amazon and all other reputable stockists.

Disclosure Statement: I was sent the book free to review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Sweetie Pies (or uses for leftover Halloween treats) and Kleeneze Competition Winner Announced!

pastry-wrapped chocolate candy bars

Not that I have children, but I was wondering what on earth you would do with all those sweets kids pick up on their ‘trick or treating’ expeditions? 

Children must get loads of goodies that you maybe don’t want them to gobble up straight away. Or perhaps, like me, you buy lots of sweets ready to hand out, but end up with leftovers.

So, I thought of a fun way to use fun-size treats (which are always my go to sweets for Halloween hand-outs). It also makes me think of a ‘classic’ Scottish recipe – ‘Deep-fried Mars Bars’ (which I think everybody outside of Scotland mistakenly thinks we scoff all the time).

pastry-wrapped chocolate candy bars

Truth be told, I have had one deep-fried Mars Bar in my life, back in the 80’s when I was at school. Not something I would want to repeat in a hurry!

Back to this treat though, and instead of frying said bars, how about wrapping them in pastry like a little hand-pie? And here in Scotland we call chocolate bars, candy bars, all confectionary ‘Sweeties’. So the name Sweetie Pies was an obvious choice.

I chilled the bars before popping them in the oven as I didn’t want then to run everywhere. I used shop-bought puff-pastry to make things easy and drizzled some chocolate over them when baked – so people didn’t mistake them for sausage rolls!

pastry-wrapped chocolate candy bars

They are fun, perfect for anyone who loves sweet pies and are so much better than a deep-fried Mars Bar!

Here’s how I made them;

print recipe

Sweetie Pies
Sweeties wrapped up in pastry!
  • 2 packages shop-bought ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 15 approx fun-size chocolate bars
  • 1 medium egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 30 grams dark chocolate melted
Chill the chocolate bars in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Unfurl one sheet of the chilled pastry and place the chocolate bars on top in rows, spaced well apart. Make an egg-wash from the milk and egg and brush this over the exposed parts of the pastry. Unfurl the other sheet of pastry and lay over the top of the bars. Gently press in between each bar so the top pastry sticks to bottom sheet . Take a pizza cutter and carefully cut between each chocolate bar. Crimp the edges of each pastry parcel with the tines of a fork. Prick the top of each pastry parcel gently with a fork. Pop into the fridge to chill and pre-heat the oven to 180C. After 20 minutes remove the chilled ‘pies’ and brush the tops with more egg wash. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until lightly golden on top. Allow to cool fully. Drizzle some melted chocolate on top.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 15 mini-pies

And lastly congratulations go to Kevin from The Crafty Larder who won the Kleeneze competition with his Spiced Pumpkin Cake in  Jar!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Treat Petite November 2014

Thank you to all who took the time to enter October’s Treat Petite. Kat’s chosen theme of Trick or Treat was interpreted in so many creative ways.

But, October is now over and we are slap bang in a strangely mild November. I hear that it is to turn chillier soon, so better get those winter coats looked out!

On to the theme for Treat Petite this month, and I am looking for something a little bit different from you all. As you probably know Thanksgiving takes place in the USA on the last Thursday of November (27th this year). A national holiday in America, it is supposed to bless the harvest and the previous year. You've probably seen, on TV, Thanksgiving dinners where everyone gets up at the table and states what they are thankful for.

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK, but I love the sentiment. And this, eventually, brings me to the theme for Treat Petite. I want you to think of someone who has done a good deed for you this year, someone who has been there for you during a difficult time perhaps, or is just generally ‘the wind beneath your wings’. A person you want to say 'Thank You' too.

Now, with that person in mind, I’d like you to bake a petite treat for them. Something you know they will love. Anything at all – be it a basket of muffins, sweets, the usual fare here on Treat Petite. So, let’s get our thinking caps on and spread the thanks!

Treat Petite is for all of those delicious bites, which can be individually portioned. Tray bakes are fine, cookies, cupcakes, brownies, macarons and so on. No cakes, puddings, whole loaves – you get the idea…here are those all-important rules.

1.       Add your petite treat to the Linky at the bottom of this post by the 25th of the month, midnight at the latest.

2.       Post your bake onto your blog and link back to Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer, stating who is hosting this month.

3.       Follow Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer blogs on Google + (see sidebar links), if you haven’t already.

4.       If you tweet use  #treatpetite and mention @MrCakeyboi and @BakingExplorer – we will retweet.

5.       Add the challenge logo to the post and ‘Treat Petite’ as a label to the post

6.       Use any recipe as long as the source is noted.

7.       If you like, add your photo to the ‘Treat Petite’ Pinterest board (request access from me – Cakeyboi).

8.       Feel free to enter old posts as long as you update the post and meet all the requirements above!

Above all else – have fun!!