Thursday, 30 June 2016

When Victoria met Frasier and went to Eton (Cake)

victoria sponge, strawberries, eton mess and meringue kisses all in one big creamy cake

It’s Wimbledon fortnight and what food do we associate with the world’s finest tennis tournament? Why, strawberries and cream of course. All the juicy ripe strawberries in the supermarket were tempting me and I grabbed a couple of punnets to whip something up in the kitchen.

Lekue, who make fantastic silicone bakeware, cook and kitchenware had recently sent me their Duo Silicone and Ceramic 6” springform mould. This would be perfect for something which compromised a Victoria sponge, a Frasier cake and some Eton Mess. Hence the name – when Victoria met Frasier and went to Eton.

victoria sponge, strawberries, eton mess and meringue kisses all in one big creamy cake

I decided to layer whipped cream folded with crushed meringue, strawberries, sandwich this between two layers of Victoria sponge, with strawberries around the outside, a nod and a wink to Frasier Cake.
I decided to make some little meringue kisses too, to decorate the cake on top, along with more strawberries.

Mum was coming up for dinner and I thought this would be the perfect cake to make, and would make good use of my new springform mould.

victoria sponge, strawberries, eton mess and meringue kisses all in one big creamy cake

I set about making a basic Vicky sponge using the 4 ounce method (4 ounces each of butter, sugar and flour, plus two eggs). I could bake directly in the mould which comprises a ceramic cake plate, perfect for serving on, and silicone edges which can be peeled easily afterwards.

lekue duo silicone and ceramic springform mould

When the cake had cooled, I split it into two and place the bottom half back in the (now washed) mould. I then cut strawberries in half and placed these around the cake with the pointy bit up the way. I dolloped in the freshly made Eton mess, which I’d used shop-bought meringue in, along with some strawberries I had macerated with sugar.

macerated strawberries

I smoothed this over with an off-set spatula and placed on the second layer of cake, pushing down gently. I dolloped more Eton Mess on top and then placed this in the fridge to chill, until ready to enjoy.

Just before we had dinner, I removed the silicone edges and revealed the gorgeous edges of the cake and adorned the top with more strawberries and the meringue kisses I had made.

meringue kisses

This cake was soooo good and a perfect summer treat for a sunny day with a glass of Pimms on the side. Here’s how I made it.

print recipe

When Victoria met Frasier and went to Eton (Cake)
A victoria sponge, sandwiched with Eton mess, with lots of strawberries and meringues
  • CAKE
  • 115 grams butter, softened
  • 115 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 115 grams self-raising flour
  • 50 grams egg whites (about one egg)
  • 100 grams caster sugar
  • small amount of red food colour gel
  • 400 ml double cream
  • 300 grams strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 to 4 shop-bought meringue nests
Macerate 100 grams of chopped strawberries by mixing them with the tablespoon of sugar. Leave for a few hours, stirring occasionally.Preheat the oven to 90C and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.Make the meringues by beating the egg white with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar a little at a time and continue beating for 5 minutes.With a toothpick, streak lines of red food colouring up the inside of a disposable piping bag.Transfer the meringue mix into the piping bag, snip off the end and pipe little kisses onto the baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, remove and let cool.To make the cake, grease and line a 6” springform mould with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 180C.Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat to incorporate.Fold in the flour, being careful not to overmix.Pour the batter in the mould and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the centre of the cake.Allow to cool for 5 minutes then release the edges and transfer the cake to a cooling rack. Once cooled split in two.Make the Eton Mess by beating the double cream until thick. Crush in the meringue nests and add the macerated strawberries, stirring through to combine.Gather around six strawberries of the same height, cut off the top and cut in half. Place these pointed side up around the edge of the cake. You may need one or two more strawberries, depending on their size.Dollop in around half the Eton Mess and press down with an off-set spatula, ensuring the strawberries around the edges stay intact.Place the top half on the cake and press down gently. Spread the remaining Eton Mess on top of the cake and chill until ready to eat.Just before tucking in, remove the mould and decorate the top with the homemade meringues and more fresh strawberries.Enjoy!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 6" cake

victoria sponge, strawberries, eton mess and meringue kisses all in one big creamy cake

victoria sponge, strawberries, eton mess and meringue kisses all in one big creamy cake

I'm entering this cake into this week's Recipe of the Week, hosted by Emily over at A Mummy Too.

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

Monday, 27 June 2016

Treat Petite June 2016 Round Up

What a wet month it’s been! Not really summer weather – although there has been the odd glimmer of sunshine here and there. At least this month’s selection of Treat Petite bakes will make you feel warm inside! The theme was Fit for A Queen which could be interpreted in a couple of ways!

First off was Angela at Only Crumbs Remain with her individual Queen of Puddings. Made in glass ramekins – these contained all the layers we are familiar with, in a single serving.

Next we had Helen at Family Friends Food and her cheesy popcorn. Ideal for a garden party!

Helen at Casa Costello made these fun, colourful rainbow pinwheel cookies. These are so bright and would definitely be fit for a queen.

Next up were my sprinkle infused Birthday Cake Bars, a tray bake cut into individual servings, these went down very well at my Baking Club. The colours were very Pride appropriate!

Elizabeth at her Kitchen Diary, made classic M&M Cookies. These are always a hit!

My co-host Kat, The Baking Explorer, also went down the Queen of Puddings route, ingeniously turning these into cupcakes. Too cute!

Choclette over at Tin and Thyme made Strawberry Cream Cakes, perfect for a picnic, or indeed a royal garden party! She used cream instead of butter which gave a lighter texture. These sound very summery.

Kate the Gluten Free Alchemist, entered these Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes with Mocha Frosting, but she didn’t make them. These were the handy work of her daughter – Miss GF. I think Kate has competition on her hands!

Lastly, an entry which didn’t make it on the linky (as it was down I think) but these were entered and would be loved by our Queenie. Becky at Mintcustard made these cute corgi biscuits – peppered with red, blue and white sprinkles!

Thanks to everyone who took part and watch out for next month’s Treat Petite over at The Baking Explorer.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

That's What I Call New #12

Here’s another bunch of goodies I’ve been sent to sample. This food blogging adventure is great fun! I’m sure you will love some of the items below I’ve been sent to try…

JimJams hazelnut chocolate spread – it’s like that ‘other’ chocolate hazelnut spread but has way less sugar and is gluten-free. Still quite high in fat, but less sugar which is the enemy nowadays! It tastes almost as good as that ‘other’ chocolate hazelnut spread and is luverly eaten on toast, baked in some pastry or just from the jar with a spoon! Retails at around £2.79 for a  350 gram jar and can be purchased from Holland and Barrett, Dobbies Garden Centres, Ocado and more. JimJams also sell healthier jams, with high fruit content, marmalades and chocolate spreads which are all that bit more virtuous.

Clif Bars – I do like energy packed Clif Bars. I sometimes have one in my Boots meal deal on a Monday (I get it for £1 along with a sarnie and a drink, so why not?). The peanut butter one I usually get is really good. So when I was sent the coconut chocolate chip variety I was overjoyed that it tasted even better than the PB one. The bars are big, substantial slabs and keep you fuelled and feeling full! Full of protein and fibre, I really recommend these. Around £1.79 a bar from loads of retailers including Holland and Barrett.

Any excuse for some booze and I grab it with both hands. So when I was asked if I’d like to try Cranes cranberry cider – purportedly the first cranberry ‘cider’ in the world, my hands grabbed the keyboard and responded ‘Yes Please’! I was actually sent three varieties of Cranes cranberry cider. The original cranberry one, strawberry and kiwi and raspberry and pomegranate. They were all good – lovely with some ice in a glass on a sunny day. Very refreshing and all flavours were juicier than you would expect from the tart wee berries. Retails at around £24 for a dozen bottles.

Nuts in Ya Mouth’ contacted me and offered me nuts in my mouth and cereal. They are a nut roastery based in stratford Upon Avon. I was sent little pots of their flavoured nuts such as cashews and almonds in flavours like sour cream and onion, chilli and Mexican spice. Delicious with the cider (see above). They also offered me a bag of cereal in flavours such as raw granola coconut crunch and cocoa crunch. I opted for coconut variety and had some one morning for breakfast. Sadly this wasn’t for me. As much as I do enjoy healthier cereals, this one tasted a bit too much like eating nuts and seeds for me and although the coconut came through, I really didn’t enjoy it sadly. Perhaps that’s just me! Check out Nuts in Ya Mouth website for full details of their range.

Tempting my savoury buds was ‘I Sea’ Pasta. This is actually tagliatelle made from seaweed. When this was mentioned to me I gladly opted to give this a try. I love seaweed strips as a snack and often buy them from the Chinese supermarket. They are a healthy snack and I love the taste of the sea. The seaweed pasta was equally as good. I soaked mine in cold water and they softened up nicely. I tossed them with a bit of butter, and I know most folk don’t like ‘fishy’ foods and cheese together, but a shaving of parmesan over the top - I was in heaven! A great, healthy meal option, the pasta would also be good tossed with some cooked veggies. I Sea Pasta can be obtained from SeamoreFood and the 100 gram pack I received yields 500 grams once made. This retails at €4.95 a pack.

Lastly Schwartz contacted me and asked if I’d like to try their Grill Mates Homemade Burger mix. I was sent a couple of varieties to try – classic Steakhouse and American Smokehouse. This is a pouch of sauce which you mix with some mince. You then shape this into burgers ready to cook. I actually made mine into meatballs and baked them in the oven. 

You can also make them into koftas as the pack suggests. This is a great way to impart more flavour in your meat and have burgers or whatever shape of meat you like cooked up in no time at all with loads of taste. The packs retail at around £1.49 and can be purchased from most supermarkets.

A great tasty round up I’m sure you will agree!!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Strawberry and Kiwi Bliss Balls

dried strawberries and kiwifruit blended into clean eating healthy energy bliss balls

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that from time to time I like to visit my local Chinese supermarket. It’s a great source of ingredients that you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

On my latest expedition one lunchtime, I came across a packet of dried kiwi fruit.  I love seeing dried fruits and wondering what I could pair them with.

The dried kiwi looked lovely in it’s pack, all glistening green with black specks in the centre.  I decided that strawberry and kiwi are always a good pairing and luckily I had purchased some dried strawberries in Holland and Barrett a while back – ideal.

I got my Optimum 9400 blender from Froothie out of the cupboard and set about measuring the ingredients. I whizzed up the kiwi and strawberry and it was a little dry, so I incorporated a bit of coconut oil into the mix and it became the perfect consistency. If you are looking to buy a blender, I can't recommend the Optimum 9400 highly enough - click on the link to purchase one.

I rolled the ‘dough’ from the blender into little balls which I then dusted in some desiccated coconut, as they were a bit sticky.

dried strawberries and kiwifruit blended into clean eating healthy energy bliss balls

I popped them in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours and then Disneyboi and I shared some later. These are perfect little balls of energy for a pre-workout boost, but actually taste like gummy sweets which kids and big kids like us would enjoy regardless of the fact they contain nothing too bad at all. 

They taste very sweet and would convert anyone who doesn’t think they like ‘faffy’ health foods.

dried strawberries and kiwifruit blended into clean eating healthy energy bliss balls

I’m loving this healthier ‘baking’ at the moment and will have to see what else I can come up with. Perhaps another trip to the Chinese supermarket is back on the cards!

If you can’t get hold of dried kiwi or strawberry in your local shops, they are easily purchased online.

Here’s how I made them…

print recipe

Strawberry and Kiwi Bliss Balls
Dried kiwi and strawberry pulsed together into little balls of bliss
  • 150 grams dried kiwifruit
  • 75 grams dried strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • desiccated coconut
Place the kiwi, strawberries and coconut oil in the blender and whizz until they form a ‘dough’.Remove from the blender and form small balls, rolling between your hands.Dust the balls in a little desiccated coconut and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.Enjoy!
Prep time: Chill time: Total time: Yield: 16 balls approx.

dried strawberries and kiwifruit blended into clean eating healthy energy bliss balls

Disclosure Statement: I received the blender from Froothie, free to review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Toasted Sesame Houmous with Corn Tortilla Chips

houmous or hummus made with toasted sesame oil and served with homemade corn tortilla chips

Houmous or Hummus – however you spell it, I bet you love it.

In the UK, houmous has grown from being something people thought only hippies ate, to a staple seen in every chiller cabinet up and down the UK’s supermarkets.

houmous or hummus made with toasted sesame oil and served with homemade corn tortilla chips

As Brits, we eat over 12,000 tonnes a year and its popularity shows no sign of waning.

It is high in protein and iron and can help to reduce cholesterol amongst other great health benefits such as fighting cancer and reducing inflammation.

As you possibly know, the main ingredient of houmous is chickpeas (did you know garbanzo beans are another name for chickpeas?) along with olive oil, tahini (sesame paste), garlic, lemon and cumin.

It’s really easy to make in a blender and I love whipping up a batch every now and then in my Optimum 9400 from Froothie. The super blender whips right through the ingredients making light work of the process. (And to clean up after I just add some boiling water, a touch of washing up liquid, pop it on high for a minute and it cleans itself.)

I came across a version of houmous on the Food Network America website which also incorporates toasted sesame oil into the ingredient list.
Toasted sesame oil was something I had never come across until a few years back. For years I had tried to make Chinese takeaway style fried rice at home and could never quite achieve ‘that’ particular flavour. Then I discovered toasted sesame oil in the supermarket and as soon as I opened the bottle, it just smelled of Chinese takeaway. Gorgeous.

When I saw the recipe for toasted sesame houmous, I had to give it a try. And, I loved it. It’s like the regular creamy houmous that we love but with an added toasted, nutty flavour going on. I made a huge bowl for a family gathering and my cousin’s partner practically ate the entire bowl!

houmous or hummus made with toasted sesame oil and served with homemade corn tortilla chips

I also made some tortilla chips to go with the dip which were super easy to conjure up. I used corn tortillas as opposed to wheat ones and this provides a slightly sweet taste and a firmer texture to the chips. I simply cut up a batch of shop-bought tortillas, sprayed them with some low-cal cooking oil spray and baked them in the oven until lightly browned, turning once during cooking time. Sprinkled after with salt, these were a tasty homemade treat to dip into the flavourful toasted sesame houmous.

houmous or hummus made with toasted sesame oil and served with homemade corn tortilla chips

Give this a try as a snack for the weekend, or to watch during the footie!

Here’s how it’s made.

print recipe

Toasted Sesame Houmous with Corn Tortilla Chips
Houmous made with toasted sesame oil and home made tortilla chips
  • 425 gram can of chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 package corn tortillas
  • Can of low-cal oil spray
  • to taste salt and pepper
Place the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini paste, cumin, garlic and oils in a blender and whizz until smooth.If the mix is too thick, add some water to loosen it up to the right consistency.Season to taste with salt and pepper and spoon into a serving bowl and place in the fridge.Preheat the oven to 180C and line a couple of baking sheets with greaseproof paper.Spray each tortilla with cooking oil spray until each side is coated.With a pizza cutter, cut the tortillas into wedges. Each tortilla should yield about 12 wedges.Spread evenly over the baking sheets and bake for 6 minutes, remove and turn over.Bake for another 4 minutes or so until golden brown.Remove from the oven and season with salt and pepper.Remove the houmous from the fridge and pour over more olive oil to garnish.Dig in!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Lots

Disclosure Statement: I received the Optimum 9400 free to review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Birthday Cake Bars

birthday cake bars funfetti sprinkles vanilla almond flavoured cake cut into individual servings

Although I'm baking a bit healthier these days, it doesn't mean that I can't bake treats like these Birthday Cake Bars for my regular baking club!

The Dundee Baking Club has been going for a good few months now. We were originally the Dundee branch of the Clandestine Cake Club where we could only make cakes.

We decided to ‘go it alone’ and started the Dundee Baking Club instead. This allowed us to bake whatever we wanted – cakes, cupakes, traybakes, sweet, savoury – anything baked as long as it fitted our theme.

Co-host Becca decided the theme this time, it was her birthday the day before, so she chose birthday as the theme.

As ever, it was great fun to see (and taste) how everyone interpreted the theme.

We had our first savoury bake (yay!) – Jackie made delicious sausage rolls. These were the perfect entrĂ©e into the sweet eats on offer also.

Becca made a chocolate condensed milk cake which looked fudgy and gooey. We also had party rings made by Catriona, Jane made a ‘sweetie’ cake adorned with various sweets, there was a strawberry pavlova, another chocolaty cake, a popcorn cake and I made birthday cake bars.

We had our quiz and everyone tucked into the treats as we sat and pondered our questions. A great night was had by everyone.

My treats, the birthday cake bars are really a big sheet cake cut into smaller bite size bars with buttercream on top of them.

birthday cake bars funfetti sprinkles vanilla almond flavoured cake cut into individual servings

To make them into birthday cake bars, they have added sprinkles which are dotted throughout the cake part of the bar. I also covered the buttercream on top of the bars with more sprinkles.

Due to not enough of one kind, I used three different types of sprinkle. Two in the cake batter and one kind on top.

birthday cake bars funfetti sprinkles vanilla almond flavoured cake cut into individual servings

To get a whiter than white buttercream I used goats butter which is paler in colour and clear vanilla extract. The whiteness really stands out against the colour of the sprinkles. But if you can't get hold of clear vanilla or don't want to use goat's butter, regular will of course do.

birthday cake bars funfetti sprinkles vanilla almond flavoured cake cut into individual servings

I also, added aside from lots of vanilla to the cake batter, a little almond extract which gives the birthday cake flavour.

You may know this sprinkle infused treat as funfetti, but whatever you call it, it’s perfect for birthdays or anytime!

Adapted from Food Network, here’s how I made them;

print recipe

Birthday Cake Bars
Cake bars made with sprinkles
  • CAKE
  • 225 grams unsalted butter
  • 340 grams granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 200 grams plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 60 grams sprinkles
  • 225 grams Goat's butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
  • 450 grams icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • more Sprinkles
Line a 9”x13” pan with foil and preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan).Melt the butter in a saucepan and allow to cool slightly.Beat in the sugar.Add the eggs one at a time and beat in, then add the extracts and stir to combine.Sift in the flour and salt and stir through.Add the sprinkles and stir these through then transfer the batter to the prepared pan.Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until edges have browned slightly and a toothpick comes out clean from the centre.Allow to cool completely in the pan.Make the buttercream by beating the goats butter, clear vanilla and icing sugar together. Add the milk and beat this through.Spread this all over the top of the cake when cool, still in the pan.Add more sprinkles then refrigerate to let the buttercream firm up.Cut into bars and keep refrigerated if waiting to enjoy these at a later date.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 24 bars approx.

birthday cake bars funfetti sprinkles vanilla almond flavoured cake cut into individual servings

I am entering this bright rainbow infused treat into this month's Treat Petite as I think it's 'Fit for a Queen' what with Gay Pride this month. The original recipe states that these are bars and not a big cake, so it fits into Treat Petite (honest!).