Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Fairy Cakes

I had to go to a meeting last night and so rushed off at 7.30 p.m. leaving younger daughter claiming that she wanted to make cakes.

Well, she is twelve and she has had lots of experience from being my trusty little assistant, so I left her to make her own cakes.  I was pleasantly surprised when I came home later to a nice cup of tea and a fairy cake.

She had a little trouble with the consistency of the icing, but that comes with practise and experience, but other than that - I think I had better watch out!

They tasted great and as the Judges on The Great British Bake Off would say - they had the right consistency, they were not dry, nor overcooked, nor undercooked - perfect.

I watched The Great British Bake Off last night (recorded whilst I was out and watched when I got home with my tea and fairy cake) - whilst I do hate the way that the competition takes cakes, puddings and pies so seriously - I do find this programme compelling and look forward to it each week.  Just sorry that next week is the last one!

Hmm, I'm thinking about another fairy cake with my morning coffee - think my daughter might notice that their numbers are dwindling.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Peggy's Apple Cake

Well, I finally made that apple cake for my mother (Peggy) and here is how I did it:

7 oz Self Raising Flour
Half teaspoon of Baking Powder
5 oz Butter
3 oz Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
1 lb Apples - peeled and sliced
2 tbs Granulated Sugar
2 tbs Apricot Jam - heated enough to loosen

Cream the sugar and butter together.  When light and fluffy add the eggs (whisked) gradually.  When the eggs have been incorporated add the flour and baking powder a tablespoonful at a time.

Spread two thirds of the mixture into a prepared tin (in my case I used an 8 inch round loose bottomed cake tin that is approximately 4 inches deep which I buttered and placed a disk of baking parchment on the bottom.  However, this cake is not very deep so a variation of what I used would be just as good).

The apples should already be peeled and sliced - place these on the cake mixture evenly and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.  Dot the heated jam over the apples - although the recipe calls for apricot jam I used strawberry, simply because I had run out of apricot!  Then drop the remaining mixture by teaspoons all over the apples.

Bake at 180 C for 55 minutes until golden brown.  Take out of tin when cold.

The cake mixture is quite dry - however this is as it should be because the apples will add moisture.

The first photograph shows my mother's Kenwood Chef which she gave to me a couple of years ago.  It was puchased in the seventies - as you can tell!  This recipe is also from that time - hence the imperial measurements.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Cakes in Mugs!

Earlier this week The Pink Whisk - showed us how to make cakes in mugs!
I had to try them, so after school yesterday we had a go - surprisingly very easy and tasted good too.

We made both the chocolate and the jam sponge (only photographed the chocolate cakes) - they were more like puddings than cakes and were very filling - when we make them again I would make them for after dinner rather than before because no one wanted dinner after eating these!  Some we had with custard and some with cream. 

Worth making - if only for the novelty value - but did actually taste good!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Random Bakes of Kindness

Vanessa Kimbell, who wrote the cookery book Prepped, posted a blog on suggesting we baked a cake for a deserving person, which she has called Random Bakes of Kindness.  It is such a lovely idea that when I read it I immediately sat and thought about who I could bake a cake for.  Well, I eventually decided on my own mother and here is why:

My mother has been suffering from Parkinsons for a few years now and is slowly becoming less and less mobile.  Whilst we were growing up my mother always baked cakes and even once we all left home she continued, however for the last few years she has stopped.  She has even been giving away her cooking equipment, so when she asked me if I wanted her Kenwood Chef which she had bought in the 70's - I immediately said yes.  I would love a KitchenAid really, but could not bear to part with my mother's Kenwood Chef and have found that I do bake more now that I have it. 

Anyway, I decided to find one of my mother's own cake recipes that she hasn't made for many years and looking through my handwritten recipe book (some recipes of which I have taken from my mother) I came across Apple Cake.  I made a trial cake on Tuesday evening, planning to make another Wednesday morning to take to my parents on Wednesday afternoon (we always visit my parents on Wednesday after school) - however, I forgot to buy more apples on Wednesday morning so decided to make a seed cake instead, which is very easy to make.  My mother loved every mouthful - as did my father - you can't beat the taste of a homemade cake!

So I would like to say a huge thank you to Vanessa  for this heartwarming suggestion which I intend to continue with every Wednesday - next week will definitely be an apple cake!

I suggest you read Vanessa's blog and then decide who you can bake a cake for as a Random Bake of Kindness - we can all use a little kindness in our lives whichever form it takes.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Twinings Tea and HP Sauce!

My sister wrote on her blog Magnolia Verandah  that she was unhappy with her Twinings Tea, then I read that Twinings had altered the recipe for Earl Grey tea - I am delighted to read in today's newspaper that Twinings have backtracked and are now reselling the original Earl Grey tea on their website, renamed Earl Grey The Classic Edition - not in supermarkets though.

Maybe if enough people purchase through the website it will be only a matter of time before they put it back on the shelves in supermarkets.

HP Sauce - nothing to do with afternoon tea I admit - however, this is another product that has been altered, this time in response to the Coalition Government's Responsibility Deal - a programme for reducing the level of fats and salts used by food manufacturers.  Whilst I am not a lover of HP sauce I do think that these changes for the sake of change is ridiculous.  Those that are lovers of HP sauce say that the new version is sourer and that there is a definite difference in the taste.

Meddling meddling meddling. 

Friday, 9 September 2011

Chocolate Choux Buns

We made choux buns on Sunday afternoon - the first time I have made choux pastry and it was surprisingly easy!

Here's how we made them:

Heat the oven to 220 C (425F or gas mark 7).  Butter two baking trays and then hold them under the cold tap for a few seconds (no idea why - but I do as I am told).

Sift 65g of plain flour onto a piece of baking parchment and leave to one side.  Break two medium eggs into a small bowl and beat with a fork, set aside.

Cut up 50g of unsalted butter into a saucepan with 150 ml of cold water.  Heat this gently - as soon as it starts to boil take it off the heat and quickly tip all the flour into the pan.  Stir it in for approxmately one minute until the mixture begins to form a ball in the emiddle of the pan.  Let this cool for five minutes.

Add a little egg, stir in well, then repeat until all the egg has been added.  Then put teaspoonfuls of pastry onto the baking trays, leaving a good amount of space between them.

Bake for ten minutes, then turn the heat down to 190C (375F, gas mark 5) and bake for a further 25 minutes until they are puffy and a golden colour.

Take the buns out of the oven and transfer to a wire rack.  Prick a hole in the side of each bun to let the steam out.

In the meantime whisk 200 ml of double cream with half a teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of icing sugar.  The buns take very little time to cool and by this time were ready to have the cream added.  We cut the buns in half and filled with the cream.

We then melted 100g of plain chocolate with 25g of butter and 2 tablespoons of water in a bowl over simmering water.

Once this was smooth and completely melted we spooned the chocolate sauce over each bun and left them to cool.

These ingredients made 16 buns - enough for 4 each!!!!!  We had to taste test them whilst the chocolate was still warm, but enjoyed them better when they were cold and had been in the fridge for a couple of hours.

I think we need some again this weekend!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Salty or Sweet?

After an afternoon spent at Tilbury Fort (see my other blog for photographs) we were disappointed to note that there was no cafe to indulge our longing for afternoon tea.  They sell hot drinks in the shop - from a machine - not quite what I had in mind though, which meant going home to rustle up something sweet to have with our tea!

I had a packet of Feuilles De Brick - which is fine mediterranean pastry - and a pot of ricotta cheese in the fridge.  I simply mixed the ricotta with three dessertspoons of caster sugar and spread this mixture on each layer of pastry - rolled some up into a cigar shape and others in small packages and baked in the oven at 220C for approximately 4 minutes.

A sprinkling of icing sugar and our appetite for something sweet with our tea was satisfied - in no time at all.  The only disappointment was that the pastry was salty - but not so much as to be inedible for a sweet confection.

Next time I will make my own pastry or try to find something "unsalted".

Yesterday, however, was a different story - youngest daughter Sera and her friend Elle - at a bit of a loose end decided to make some cupcakes and decorate them.  They were rather pleased with the results.

No problem deciding what to have for afternoon tea yesterday!!