Saturday, 30 March 2013

Good Friday baking fever!

Not quite sure what happened yesterday but it would seem that Easter chocolate baking madness descended upon me.... Not content with making one thing I decided to make three....and this from a woman who hardly has any previous history with baking.  The funny thing is that every time I do, bake, I come way from the experience vowing to do it more often as I'd enjoyed myself.  Much like when I make bread there is something incredibly enjoyable about turning doughy mush into something utterly delicious.

Now to be totally transparent two out of the three things have turned out to be exactly that, delicious. Delish Brownies and Candy wood bark.

The third however, utter disaster.  

There's a little Portuguese place near to where I live that turns out the most delicious custard tarts, Pasteis de nata, and a few days ago I had the idea of trying to recreate them without using a recipie.  I mean how hard can it be. Right? Custard, tick, pastry, tick... Wrong wrong wrong....they say pride comes before a fall...and I crashed and burned baby... I bought a sainsbury's ready made  custard, what's good for Delia....and that was my first mistake, whilst busy patting myself on the back for coming up with a speedy solution I didn't bother to read the back of the carton.  If I had I would have seen that it contained sweetners.  Now I understand for some of you that might not be a problem, but I can taste artificial sweetner no matter how much its disguised, and I don't like it.  The second fail, was grabbing filo pastry and not puff.  You might think this is not such a problem, but the construction of filo is totally different to buttery puff pastry. Which has meant the offending article is still inhabiting my fridge waiting for the bird of inspiration to land and turn it into a filo delight as well as a return journey to the supermarket to buy the right pastry.  The idea being to return home and create these little bundles of cinnamon custard heaven.  

Oh if only.  I won't bore you with a step by step guide of my failing, suffice it to say the pastry cases ended up way too thick with the bottoms slightly undercooked and, well I've already raised my issues with the custard.  

Which now also leaves me with what do I do with 10 custard tarts when one of my children is dairy intolerant?  The bin may well be the final option but I'm off to see my folks today for Easter and am taking them with me to see what they think.  I will report back later.  Sorry no photo, didn't feel inspired enough.

Now onto the little bits of heavenly deliciousness.... Chocolate brownies and candy wood bark.  

The  brownies were inspired from  a blog I've been following recently The Londoner A mix of fashion lifestyle and foodie stuff.  The foodie stuff is the draw, and her fashion and lifestyle my occasional guilty pleasure.  They can't be easier.

Delish Brownies

Pre heat the oven to 160 fan, 180 no fan, gas mark 4
Take two boxes of ready made cookie dough and brownie mix.  
Make each one up in separate bowls, following packet instructions, (adding extra 1stp of water and oil to the cookie mix).  
Spread cookie mix into a baking paper lined baking tray. Make sure you spread it all out into the corners, I used my hands for this.  Messy but true.
Then lay two packets of Oreo biscuits on top of the mixture. 
Finally top off with the Brownie mix.
Into oven for 30 mins.
Out and leave to cool a bit but still whilst still warm lift out on to a chopping board. Use the baking paper to help lift it out.   
Slice into what ever size suits your need, serve and eat.  

...and finally candy wood bark inspired from A beautiful Mess blog.  Two gorgeous ladies who are free with their reuse and thrifting ideas which I love as well as posting inventive foodie ideas.

This really can't be simpler.

Candy tree bark
Two bars of dark chocolate
One bar of white chocolate
Bag of gummy bears or midget gems
100's and 1000's if you have or I used Raspberry fruit flakes
1 small bag of salt and cracked black pepper crisps
Crushed up nuts, I used pistachios as I had some in the cupboard.

Melt dark chocolate and spread onto a sheet of baking paper layed on a plate or tray.
Crush up crips and nuts and scatter on top.
Melt white chocolate, I did this directly in the pan but really if you don't want a grainy texture and prefer super smooth, should be done in a bowl over boiling water in a pan.
Spread onto another sheet of paper.
Scatter gummy bears or midget gems, 100's and 1000's or fruit flakes.  I also added a little edible shiny glitter to glam it up a bit.
Put both sheets into the fridge or freezer to cool.
Remove and break into pieces.
Eat and Enjoy...

Happy Easter...x

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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Snow baking and Easter

Now I know I'm probably going to incur the wrath of a few of you but I honestly love all this snow we keep having.  It gives me a great excuse for sitting by my fire in old woolly jumpers that have seen better days and shoving my feet into my old but fab slippers.  

It's also giving me fireside current fireplace does the job but is, to put it bluntly, a hole knocked through a bricked up chimney.  It's rough around the edges and was really only ever meant to be a temporary solution to no fireplace at all.  My dream is to turn it into something more like this.

The only slight spanner to this day dreaming is funds....or coming across a spare oak beam possibly lying next to a dream abandoned wood burning stove casually left lying in or near my living room...needless to say for now, I'm still waiting....but watch the blog for updates on the fire...

The other thing all this snow and frosty weather seems to have done to me is kick start my baking genes.  In the past week I've made a lemon polenta cake, with additional desiccated coconut in it as I didn't have enough polenta and did I mention that it was freezing outside so shopping for extra ingredients just isn't happening?  I wasn't sure if it would work with the coconut, which was an interesting choice of make do ingredient as I don't particularly like desiccated coconut.  However it was blooming gorgeous and so large that there was enough to be divided up between some friends.  I would post a picture of it but sadly this all that's left of it.

And following on from that little success I then made a mind blowingly gorgeous Rhubarb and orange crumble, and I do really mean it was Delicious!! The recipe was taken from 'Bill's Cook Eat Smile' cookery book 

that I bought along with another one called 'Notes from a Swedish Kitchen'.  Both of these little gems were bought during a three hour browse, without my children, through the cookery book section of Waterstone's a few weeks ago.  Both have inspired me with their ideas for seasonal cookery and both are now firmly wedged on my worktop in the kitchen.  Sadly I hadn't the foresight to take any photos of the crumble so you will just have to recreate it for yourself.

Recipe from Bill Collison's cookbook  

Bill's rhubarb crumble
Serves 4-6 (actually did 6)

900g rhubarb cut in 3cm lengths
200g caster sugar
the zest and juice of 1 large orange
1 tsp ground ginger
I then used a packet of ready made crumble mix and added crumbled ameretti biscuits into it for extra taste and crunch.

Pre heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4 and lightly butter a 23 x 33cm ovenproof dish.

Stir the chopped rhubarb with the sugar, finely grated orange zest and ginger in a large bowl, and then spread it out on a baking tray.  Bake in the oven for 10mins or so until soft.

Place the rhubarb in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with the orange juice, spoon the crumble mix on top to cover and return to oven for 45mins.  The top should be golden brown and the juices bubbling up round the edges of the crumble.

Enjoy x

Oh and for the more observant amongst you, YES, I have changed the layout.  I've been reading a few other bloggers and have felt a little inspired to change mine and generally make it more creative and interesting.  One of the things that I really loved was the use of photo's so I will aim to pop some in to each of my blogs and make more effort to take photo's as I'm cooking to inspire you.  I promise to post photo's of both successes and disasters.  I'm not yet done on the makeover but will need to research and read up on how to achieve the final look, so watch this space.  Oh and happy to receive any advice or comments, as usual. 

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