Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Photos - as promised!

Hi guys.  It is D again.  just popped on to upload the photos as promised.  The photos relate to the last 2 blog entries:

Snow photos first.  Again - the view from my room.

And then the marshmallows follow the snow pictures (naturally - and because I made them first!)...

 Once whipped up and cool, they sit in a tray (sprinkled lavishly with 'marshmallow mix'), uncovered, overnight to allow them to dry out.

The next morning you cover them in the marshmallow mix before cutting up (or if you're like me, you cover them in the mix, flip them over and cover the underside in more mix just before you rush out to work)

Next you cut them up (once back from work in my case) into whatever shapes you want (clearly - I went for the rustic look!) and cover them lavishly in 'marshmallow mix', put them in a sieve and shake off as much excess mix as you can.   Package in an airtight container and consume within one week (or share them with everyone with whom you come into contact the next day).

Creme Brulee next as I had to use the egg yolks...

The finished brulee - complete with shiny and firm top!  Very pleased.

That long-awaited first crack!


And finally - the vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting.  You have to forgive me the images and the icing as these were the last thing I made and I am used to making cupcakes so didn't take as much care as I could have.  They were incredibly light and I took them round to friends for dinner - the verdict was that they would definitely love to have me bring them round again!  Result!  :-)


Only one left...!

Till next time .  Dx

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Delicious desserts!

Hi.  The time ran away with me yesterday and I wanted to let you know that I finally baked! And I did do everything that I thought that I said I would - I baked my cupcakes, made my marshmallows and my creme brulee.  This is going to be a real brief review of the recipes I used.

I got the marshmallows recipe off David Lebovitz's site here and it was fun, hassle free and they look promising!!  They are currently drying out (overnight) so hopefully they will work.  The stuff that's in my baking tins looks (and tastes) better than anything I have bought.  If they work, there is no way that I could ever buy them again!  I would highly recommend trying this recipe.  Besides - they reminds me of the snow. :-)
I also went online for the creme brulee recipe by Angela Nilsen on the BBC Good Food website.  It was fairly easy to follow although it could have been written up more simply.  It was important to read ahead though (Which I don't always do...) and know that you need a fine sieve and a large bowl as well.  Yummy, very sweet custard.  I will be brulee'ing them tomorrow evening so will let you know how they taste.

The cupcakes were from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and I realised just how well I knew the recipe when I knocked them together in under 10 minutes and they rose like never before!!  These really are my cupcakes of choice and I now tweak the recipe as I would have it!  I would highly recommend this cookbook.  they have an unusual and messy mixing method but it works!! I was virtually dust free tonight though which is always brilliant!  So - that was my evening.  What did you do with yours?

I'll post photos tomorrow  :-)   (and I do remember that I owe you snow photos too!)

Saturday, 4 February 2012

I Love It When It Snows!

Hey guys.  It's D again.  I know that I haven't posted for a while but here I go again.  :-)  It started snowing today and I must say  that there are times when I love the snow and times when I am not so pleased with it but the majority of the times I love it - and this is one of those times!

It started snowing as I made my way back from a dash to the catering shop in Clapham North to pick up a catering thermometer before they shut.  I made it and then realised that I didn't need to rush out as James Nicholas opened a really delicious cookshop in Balham.  I love it in there!  Well - I have to say that I went in on  my way back and they DID have a thermometer (which I also bought - taking the other one back), an icing kit and some cute cupcake cases.   as I walked back it started to snow and I decided this was my favourite time to bake!    If I could choose to do anything tonight it would be this...... "sitting in front of the fire, curled up with a soya chai latte and cookie dough ice-cream, watching a good movie with a particular friend".  In the absence of aforementioned company my next best thing is to do something just as cosy - bake!!  What better than to fill the house with warm, sweet aromas that greet you as you open the door - that moment when you leave the crisp fresh cold and enter the warmth of a home?  Not a house, a home.

So I picked up a few more ingredients and this is what I have ended up with..

I know that we are meant to be using a cookbook a month but sometimes I think the moment just takes you and you make what your heart fancies.  I have:
double cream, unsalted butter, gelatine, cornflour, plain flour, liquid glucose, icing sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, eggs and an icing kit!  I obviously have the other larder staples (other types of sugar, syrup, milk, etc.).   I am thinking...
- Marshmallows (first time!)
- Iced gourmet cupcakes (not sure of the flavour yet)
- Creme Brulee (I really have to make use of the egg yolks the marshmallows leave behind).

I also plan to go for a walk round the block in the snow at some point!  Watch this spot.  And just because I can - here is a picture of the best mouthful of food I had the other night.  Last mouthful of a supper of sorts...  I was a little proud of the way I managed to capture it - the clarity...

And also just because I can - a little bargain I found when I popped into the farmers market.....  totally lush pork and apple sausage roll.  Yummy flaky pastry and quality meat from the Little Jack Horner's stall.  I also picked up a squirrel pie which I am looking forward to trying in a couple of weeks time...

For now - I better get focused if you are going to get to see anything else on here.  I may pop on to put the snow photos up too.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Melting Moments

Sorry it has been a little while between posts but we will get better at this.  Ok - so it's me again (D).  E promises she'll put a post up soon and I know she will as she tried her first recipe run on Wednesday night (I was out) but came back to see the results.  Now to my post...

The 2nd recipe that I chose to do from our book for this month ( The Primrose Bakery Book) was 'Melting Moments'.  Looking at the picture and the ingredients it promised to be a simple enough biscuit recipe and reminded me of my early cookery lessons at boarding school: nothing like a little nostalgia!

So I came back from a day out determined to make them last Tuesday night.  I knew I had all the ingredients.  For the biscuits these were:
- unsalted butter
- icing sugar
- plain flour
- cornflour
- baking powder
(Actually - I forgot to check on the flour because we always have so much and so many varieties so used self raising flour.  I did choose to also use the baking powder, but used half the quantity)

So once everything was measured out, within reach and sifted I got started.  The first thing the book tells you to do is to sift ALL the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix well with the butter using an electric hand mixer.  A part of me wondered about the frivolity of this and how every time I used that technique I end up with a breadcrumb mixture...  But part of the reason for doing the blog is to follow the recipes 'as they are'!  So I did and yes, I ended up with a breadcrumb mixture and NOT biscuit dough!  Another by product of mixing butter and dry ingredients in this way is that you get a fine dust on everything (although I have a technique that stops this and keeps everything in the bowl.  :-) so be warned!

The next step is supposed to be rolling handfuls of the mixture into balls that you then flatten into your biscuit shape(s) on a tray.  Except that.... breadcrumbs don't hold together like dough does - funny that!  My solution was to add a couple of tablespoons of liquid (milk) to help it to bind and hold together and then got on with it.  At this point, I was a little less than unimpressed (to put it mildly) as I had also not been very successful in my dust-reduction method, either.  I finally got the biscuits into the oven and decided that the best way to better my mood would be to stand in front of the oven and scowl at the biscuits for the entire time they were in the oven (9 minutes)!  Not recommended - but great fun for friends either watching / hearing about it later!

(The bake...)

Despite my mood I was really impressed by the way that they expanded in size (and wished I had spread them out a little more on the tray) and the results weren't too bad.

(These were a little too golden and  misshapen but I was really unimpressed still and so decided these would just 'have to be the ones'.  The end results shows a better reflection of the actual result!)

The icing ingredients:
- custard powder
- unsalted butter
- icing sugar
- water
Not my favourite type of icing as I think we could be more decadent on this front - but that is what the recipe says...)

It was all pretty straightforward and the icing was smooth and easy to spread.

(I was a little heavy handed and uncaring on the  icing - shameful!)

All things considered and the biscuits sandwiched together, all was well.  E had people come round that evening and they were welcomed with the offer of home-baked goods with tea/coffee.  They seemed delighted by the offer and there were a lot less on the plate afterwards than what I expected to see!  The compliments poured out all round and this made me feel better about them all.  So - I would definitely say give them a go at home.  The only thing that I would change is I would say to cream the bitter and the sugar and then add the rest of the dry ingredients - you can still get lots of air in them and keep them light as they ought to be.

At the end - a great little biscuit that goes far... they are incredibly large and incredibly sweet so one is more than ample with a nice rich cup of coffee.  Well worth the grump and well worth putting the effort in.  Recommended but I would make the modifications that I mentioned above.

Two more recipes from me this month, then onto the next cookbook.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Marshmallow Icing

So... this morning I went ahead and woke up early in order to ice my chocolate cupcakes.  i should have ideally done it all on the same day but hey.  The cupcakes were made less than a day ago and so were perfectly cooled and ready to be iced.

The icing involves making a hot caramel sauce and heating it up until it gets to the soft ball stage.  You remove it from the heat and add it add to the egg whites (which have been whisked and form soft peaks).  This all sounds really straightforward but it takes a little while!  you really have got to be patient, vigilant and on your toes with this!  I was patient for about half the mixture and then I thought "why not pour ALL of the remaining hot caramel into the egg whites?"  Well - I can tell you why...the moment I started to tip it all into the egg whites hindsight kicked in - just a little late!!  The entire amount of caramel that I had added in hardened into a ball that would NOT blend in with the rest of the mixture!  Lesson learnt!  I will most certainly spend a few extra minutes getting it right next time!  Anyway - this is sort of what it looked like...

Not too bad I didn't think.  It wasn't as thick as it could have been, especially as only half the caramel had gone into it!  Part of the finish of the icing is the glossy look at the end as well as the texture (which is how it gets its name - marshmallow icing).  It was surprisingly easy to make for my first time and the taste was phenomenal!  Here is what the finished article looked like:

This has definitely overtaken any other icing I have ever made as my default favourite!!  I can't wait to make it again and spend the necessary time making sure all the ingredients are blended together slowly and evenly.  I would definitely recommend this as an alternative to the traditional buttercream or cream cheese frosting.  There was a smooth blending of flavours with the chocolate although I feel that one cupcake was ample to satisfy most sweet fanatics out there.  I can't wait to make it once more and then begin to add little subtle changes and surprises to make it more 'my own'.  Watch this space... 

It was great to share the cupcakes with good friends at a New Years lunch today and they seemed to go down a treat!  I seem to have really gone off chocolate so I will definitely be steering clear of it for my next recipe trial (I think...).  I can't believe that is already recipe one!  Oh - before I go...

one with a little sparkle, befitting welcoming in the new year!

Till next time "Happy New Year"!  

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Recipe one: Hummingbird chocolate cupcakes with Primrose Bakery Marshmallow Icing

Hi.  Welcome to our blog!  This is going to be an interesting year - hopefully one that is full of good food, good experiences and delicious smells in our kitchen! I embarked on our first recipe this afternoon - "start as you mean to go on" as they say.  It was relatively easy to make the cupcakes, if you can forgive the chocolate dust that rise up and rest on everything in your kitchen as you mix the dry ingredients with the butter.  A good trick I have found is to use a clean tea towel to cover the bowl whilst mixing and this eliminates most dust.  Do not, as I did, get your tea towel stuck between the paddles of your electric whisk as this greatly complicates and elongates the process! :-)

Although I (Dudz) have made the cupcakes the review is actually about the marshmallow icing from the Primrose Bakery Cookbook.  The ingredients are as follows:
- granulated sugar
- golden syrup
- water (!)
- egg whites
- good quality vanilla extract

I have made the cupcakes so tomorrow I will make the icing and write the first review....  See you tomorrow.