Emma baked and decorated some Halloween themed cupcakes today:
Emma made this cheesecake today. The recipe came with some money-off vouchers for Oreos so we decided to make the recipe using the genuine article instead of a cheaper substitute biscuit.
A couple of weeks ago I made a German Friendship Cake which was used a sweet yeast based starter. After making the cake I gave a portion of the starter to my mum so she could have a go at making it, and kept the rest of the starter going by repeating the feeding and stirring process.
I had read somewhere that the starter can be used to make pancakes. Since today is Good Friday, and the end of Lent, I thought it would be a good time to have a go at making them, so that Lent started and ended with pancakes.
I poured a few tablespoons of the starter into a hot oiled frying pan and cooked for a minute or so on each side. The pancakes started to bubble nicely and looked quite promising while they were cooking. The end result wasn't quite as good as I was expecting, they were still a bit doughy in the middle. I added a bit more milk to the mixture and gave it a second attempt.
The plain pancakes were a bit sweet but they went well with a bit of lemon juice. I didn't get the cooking time or temperature sorted properly since each pancake was still a bit soft in the middle. It was an interesting experiment but I will stick to the traditional pancake batter in future.
Just over a week ago I exchanged sourdough starters with a colleague in work. I gave her some of my wild yeast starter and in return I was given a tub of Herman starter.
The Herman starter mix is made using flour, sugar, milk and yeast. Unlike the traditional bread starter, which ideally should be fed every day, the Herman starter is only stirred each day and fed on the 4th and 9th days. The feed consists of equal quantities of sugar, milk and flour.
On the 10th day, the cake is ready to make. Take 1 cup of starter and add all the other ingredients, mixing well to make a stiff batter. As usual, I made a few substitutions based on what we had in the house at the time. I used:
- 1 cup of sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups of plain flour
- ⅔ cup of vegetable oil
- 2 medium eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 medium sized apples, chopped but not peeled
- 1 cup of dried mixed fruit
- 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp of mixed spice
- 2 tsp baking powder
I poured the mixture into a couple of loaf tins and sprinkled them with demerara and a little melted butter. I then covered them loosely with foil before baking them at gas mark 4 (180 °C). One of the cakes was ready after an hour, the other was in a deeper tin and took nearly twice as long.
The apples help to keep the cake nice and moist. I think it would work just as well with pears, and possibly using apricots instead of the mixed fruit.
Our semi-regular trip to Pizza Express for St. Valentine's Day.
Click on the thumbnail to view the image
We bought a big tub of mascarpone the other day which means we have had to find enough ways to use it before it starts to go off.
The first use was nice and straightforward: We dolloped a bit on a toasted hot cross bun.
Today I made a chicken and butternut squash risotto following the standard risotto method: I fried some diced squash, finely chopped leeks, garlic, and a pinch of dried chilli. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before but when we have a glut of chillies, I make my own dried chilli. I slice the chillies in half lengthways then put them on a sheet of kitchen roll in a small metal tray, which I then put on the radiator for a week or so. I then smash the chillies up using a small food processor.
Back to the risotto. After adding the chilli I added risotto rice and home made chicken stock. When the rice was roughly half cooked, I added some diced cooked chicken and a generous pinch of salt. When it was all fully cooked I added a generous heaped tablespoon of the mascarpone and stirred it in. The risotto was very rich and creamy and the mascarpone seemed to help keep it fairly firm, instead of going sloppy which can sometimes happen when I use ordinary cream cheese.
Tomorrow I will make a pasta bake. The mascarpone and a beaten egg should hold the pasta together well so it doesn't collapse too much when I serve. I will find out tomorrow.
This afternoon we made some cupcake (or to be more accurate, Emma made them while I helped weigh out the ingredients). The cakes contained:
- 3oz margarine
- 4oz sugar
- 8oz flour
- 3 eggs
- just over half a tub of glacé cherries
They were baked for about 15 minutes at gas mark 6 and left to cool before being topped with a chocolate buttercream.
This was our second year taking the Hamster Club to the Tabley Showground in Cheshire. It was quite cold in the tent and the Hamster Club tent would suddenly become very popular and fill with people every time it rained.
Every colour of Winter White. These furry spheres were part of the 'display' to demonstrate the different types of hamster which are kept by members of the club. They spent most of the day lined up asleep but whenever someone got a camera out to take a picture, they would wake up and move. I think this was my third attempt to take their photo. The colours are (from left to right): Pearl, Normal, Sapphire-Pearl, Sapphire.
A giant chocolate muffin which we bought from one of the bakery stands. It was so big it was decorated with smaller cakes.
The recipe came from the Joy the Baker website.
We followed the recipe exactly as written but we had ordinary bakers yeast instead of 'active dried yeast' so ours took a little longer to rise.
It is the monthly cake day in work tomorrow. Normally it is held on the last friday of the month but it's been moved to coincide with Comic Relief day and the cakes are going to be sold for charity.
Since I like lemon drizzle cake I decided to have a go at making an Orange Drizzle Cake, based on the recipe in the Daily Mail. I followed the recipe fairly closely and only made a couple of small changes: I used granulated sugar instead of the caster and icing sugar and I reduced the amount of sugar used in the syrup because my oranges weren't very juicy.
I made one full-sized cake for tomorrow and two small 'samplers' in bun cases for us to try tonight. The cake turned out well - definitely a recipe I'd recommend.
Emma recently bought some professional quality food colouring. She made some 'practice cupcakes' before making a full sized cake.
The first cakes were made by adding the different coloured cake batter to the cake cases.
The colours had settled a bit in the cup cakes.
The full sized cake was built up from several thin cakes which were made individually then assembled.
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Since it is Christmas, there has been a lot of unhealthy (but very tasty) foods being eaten. We made (and ate) 3 different desserts, which I will describe here, and not a single Christmas Pudding in sight.
For breakfast on Christmas Day, we had waffles with fresh cream and ganache. This was accompanied by the traditional bucks fizz, only we made a red bucks fizz using sparkling rose and an orange and raspberry juice.
The next two desserts were larger which we shared when we went to visit friends and family.
Pear Syllabub. The pears were peeled and sliced and poached in a sweet dessert wine. The cake was a simple microwave sponge cake. The syllabub itself was creme fraiche, double cream, icing sugar, the wine from the poached pears, and the juice and zest of 1 lemon, all beaten together. We layered the sponge, pears and cream mixture in a bowl and put it in the fridge overnight.
The roulade recipe was from the Daily Mail 'Weekend' magazine but was similar to a recipe on Delia's website.
This recipe was based on another from Channel 4 which contained turkish delight. As usual we adjusted the recipe according to what we had in our kitchen.
Yesterday I roasted 500g of sweet potatoes for around 1 hour at gas mark 5, until the insides had gone soft and the skins had gone crispy. I scraped the insides out of the skins and put them in a tub in the fridge until we were ready to start the recipe.
The new ingredients were as follows:
500g sweet potato
15 quail eggs (equivalent to 3 medium eggs)
140g light brown sugar
60g dark muscavado sugar
175g dark chocolate
25g ground almonds and 75g ground peanuts
2 tablespoons millet flour
70g fat reduced cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp vanilla extract
no turkish delight
The method was the same as the channel 4 version but we stirred the mixture instead of folding in the ingredients because the mixture was a bit too dry to start with.
This weeks recipe came from the Mail on Sunday. When we first read it, it sounded unusual and interesting. Since we recently tried Chocolate and Beetroot Cake, we thought another strange vegetable cake was worth trying.
The cake came out quite moist and lightly spiced. We made a few slight changes, using allspice instead of ground cloves, and doubling the quantity of cinnamon. You couldn't tell it was tomato soup based unless you tasted carefully and tried to discern the flavour. If you didn't know, I don't think it would be obvious.