Sunday, 26 June 2011

Birthday Cup Cakes 'Gluten Free'

I discovered the best book on baking gluten free cakes last summer, 'Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache' by Harry Eastwood.  She uses rice flour, ground almonds and vegetables like swede and butternut squash to substitute wheat flours.

Usually gluten free cakes can be either a bit stodgy and don't rise or just very dry - these are not!  They are beautifully soft and light.

These cup cakes were baked with a little help from my daughter as a birthday gift for my mother-in-law.  Luckily there were a few extra for us.

We baked Cappuccino Cup Cakes with sweet potato and Lavender Cup Cakes with courgette.  Both have a mascarpone frosting.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Saturday Lunch

My Dad is visiting this weekend so I want to make a bit of effort with the food but he's also having to fit in around all the comings and goings and general busyness of the household.  The morning was taken up taxi-ing children to various classes or parties followed in the afternoon with a trip to Port Sunlight for a spot of culture at the LadyLever Gallery

Something quick for lunch was needed and these cheese scones are perfect.  10 minutes to make and 20 minutes to cook they are delicious straight from the oven and topped with some butter.

I've adapted this recipe from my McDougalls Better Baking book which was given to me when I was about 10 from a friend of my mothers who saved tokens from flour bags.  It's very dog eared and has a lot of cellotape keeping it together but I refer to it all the time.

This recipes makes about 6 depending on the size of your cutter but they're not going to go very far so I tend to multiply it by 4 and if there are any left they go in the freezer for another day or a lunch box.  I've also added some crispy onions, you know the sort you get in a tub to sprinkle on salads, soya bacon bits are good too.

200g Self Raising Flour
1/2 tsp Wholegrain Mustard
Pinch of White Pepper & Salt
35g Butter
75g Grated Cheese
30g Crispy Onions
100ml Milk

Start off with the flour, mustard, S&P and butter in your processor or mixer and mix till butter is all rubbed in.  Add the remaining ingredients apart from the milk and combine everything.  Slowly add the milk while mixing until it forms a dough.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead till smooth.  Roll it out to about an inch thick and cut them out using a 3" cutter.  Lay the scones onto a baking tray and brush with milk.  Grate a little pecorino on top and bake at 220C for 15-20 minutes.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Teacup Pin Cushion for the Cheshire Show

The Cheshire WI have a huge marquee at the annual Cheshire Show held in Knutsford and for many it's the main even of the year.  WI members are asked to compete in different categories, ie Baking, Craft, Flower Arranging, Preservation etc.  You can enter as an individual or as a group.  I decided to enter into the spirit and have a go at craft and baking.  This years theme is 'Books Books Books'

My Craft entry is this pin cushion which took for ever but I found I had lots of time recently traveling up and down to london on the train so that helped.  The title of this category was 'A Modern Classic' and hopefully I've interpreted the title well.  I shall find out tomorrow how I've done, let's hope they're not too critical! 

Here's how I did it......... 

First I had to make the flower layers.  I drew each flower onto 'Bondaweb' from a template then ironed it onto felt.  Next each flower was cut out and the "Bondaweb backing removed, I used nail scissors to cut them out as they were so small and fiddly.  Then began sewing each flower together.

 Once the flowers were complete I made a cushion from wadding and muslin to fit inside the tea cup.

I then had to sew the flowers onto the cushion and fixed the cushion into the cup with hot glue.  I also used hot glue to fasten the cup to the saucer

UPDATE - I scored 14 out of 20 and they made the comment that I should have used "More technique, more points"........Well I love it.

Baking for The Cheshire Show

The baking categorie was titled 'Sugar, Spice & All Things Nice' and I made my friend Katrina's apple cake.  I've been looking for a good apple cake recipe for about a year and then whilst at Katrina's one evening she appeared with just what I 'd been searching for.  It's so moist and has big chunks of apple running through it with a few sultanas thrown in for good measure.

I'm sure the WI experts will have something to say about it not being very neat or the fact that they can see marks from the parchment lining the tin but I'm happy with it and like it's rustic-ness.  Everyone who eats it loves it too, including a couple of people I met in London recently!

150g Butter
150g Sugar
3 Eggs
250g Self Raising Flour
1 tsp Mixed Spice
4floz Milk
100g Sultanas
2 Bramley Apples peeled, cored and chopped into chunks
Demerara Sugar

Throw everything apart from the apples, cinnamon and demerara sugar into a mixer and combine.  Fold the apples through and transfer to a 10" x 8" roasting tin lined with parchment.  Sprinkle over some cinnamon and enough demerara sugar to cover it.  You want a nice crust when it's cooked.  Bake for about 45-55 minutes @ 180C or 160 fan oven / 350F / Gas 5.

I've drizzled over a little lemon icing but it's also great left plain and eaten with custard

UPDATE - I scored 15 1/2 out of 20 for the cake.  They don't explain how they score unfortunately, it would be helpful.

Wirral Belles at The Cheshire Show

My WI, Wirral Belles also entered two group categories.  The first was titled 'A Travelers Tale' and it's the largest category you can enter needing six different items to display.  Everyone thinks we've been "very brave" as first timers to enter such a comprehensive class but it's a bit all or nothing with us and we thought if we were going to do it we may as well do it big time.

Our chosen book was 'The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe' and We are all so pleased with what we came up with, especially for first timers.  We had The Snow Queens tiara, A chocolate log, forest fruits jam and a knitted lion

My contribution was a box of turkish delight - what a nightmare to make, I shan't be doing that again in a hurry and some meringue snowballs.  Oh, I also made those papier mache rocks that will be featuring in Archie's school play on Thursday.

The second category was smaller with just three items to display and was titled 'Holiday Guide'.  We of course chose Wirral and had a mini beach to exhibit everything.  I made the ice-cream cupcakes and we also had a shell charm bracelet and a fabric picture.

UPDATE - We did so well and are very proud with the results.  The Narnia piece scored 120 1/2 out of 160 and the Wirral piece scored 52 out of 80.  They really loved the staging and interpretation and we got full marks for both, infact we were in contention with another WI for the special staging award.

Can't wait till next year, we'll be more sussed about it all and they won't be able to stop us.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Picnic Lunch [in a loaf]

This was lunch for Lorraine, Louise and myself when we went to the WI AGM at the Echo Arena in Liverpool this month.  I made the middle into bread crumbs and mixed it with pesto then layered it back in with ham, mozzarella, tomatoes, rocket, chicken, boiled egg and roasted peppers.  You could also try it with tuna instead of the meat, that goes really well.

It's best made the day before and tied up tightly with a napkin to compact it all together.  It was rather a lot for 3 but  we coped and even managed to squeeze in a bit of rocky road....or 2!

Archies Red Nose Day Biscuits :)

WOW! look at Archie's 'Red Nose Day' biscuits.  He made these fondant icing faces on digestive biscuits for his class.

Pink And Rosy!

I've made this cake a few times now and it's always received with gasps of amazement yet it's really simple to put together.  Each cupcake is pushed into a block of oasis using cocktail sticks and the gaps are filled with ivy done in the same way.

It makes a good mothers day or birthday cake.  It was once used as a centre piece at an afternoon tea and went untouched for quite a while until guests realised it was edible.


More multi-culoured Cupcakes

White Loaf

Chelsea Buns

First attempt at chelsea buns with my new love of bread making.  It was 2 hours in the making and 10 minutes in the eating.  I had to make one row without raisins for Archie, just not the same though.  Next time I'm going to try it with coconut like my mother used to, that should stir up some memories.

Ishihara Plate- Painting

I can't believe how long it took me to paint this but I love the finished piece.  I had to draw each circle individually in 3 different sizes then painted each one making sure that there were no 2 colours the same next to each other the same size....does that make sense?

Most people get the number straight away but there have been a couple who can't see it and my Father thought he could see a rabbit!  Some have asked why 45, I just liked the shape.

Take the ishihara color vision test HERE 

Lemon Cake [gluten free]

The Blues

Carrot Cake


Sunday, 12 June 2011

School fair 2010

I love baking for the school fair.  I missed this one last year but still managed to get a few things baked.  This year I'll be back in full force with my home produce stall full of the usual pies, scones, cakes and jams.  Saturday 2nd July,West Kirby Primary School, Anglesey Road, wirral.

40th Birthday Cake

This is based on Donna Hay's  chocolate truffle cake recipe.  I can always depend on it's taste and texture to impress.  I sometimes load lots of fruit on top or flowers like this one.  Roses are good too and of course always with a little glitter to add sparkle.  I added orange extract and zest to the ganache or you could try a shot of espresso.

Birthday Cake..... Don't Ask!

'Don't Ask' indeed!  I had a lot of help from the children with this one.  Sean's birthday cake with everything they could find in the cupboard on top.

Birthday Cakes With Fresh Fruit