Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Baking Cheats

Sometimes, you just want a nice brownie, with no effort of baking and making a mess, right? Sometimes - very rarely, I can think of about two occasions before now - I use cake box mixes. When you're craving gooey fudgey brownie at 3am it's the best way forward!

The one I used this time was just a Betty Crocker mix, similar to this Betty Crocker Brownie Mix . Not the same one, obviously as I'm in England, but the same brand and sort of thing. I have to say I was impressed! The mix is really nice and easy to make and doesn't take too long either. The brownies are really moist and chewy which is a massive bonus; I can never quite get my from scratch brownies to retain their moistness without either being undercooked or just horrible tasting. Something I definitely need to work on!

Anyway. The mix was about £2 (+ an egg) so fairly decent value for money if you don't have the ingredients in or aren't brave enough to make brownies from a recipe. I added chocolate chips sprinkled over the top half way through cooking which was a little misguided as half burnt so next time I'll just stir them through the mix before cooking. They're a nice addition though!

I've been a (kinda) bad baker...

Just a quick post to show you in pictures what I've made recently, as I currently don't have time to write a full one. Full recipes and more pictures coming over the next few days.


Rainbow cupcakes. Better pictures coming, I swear!

Little bit of a cheat, these were made over 2 years ago now. But I used the recipe recently and these are far better than those came out - and I'm planning on making them again soon. 

So guys, stay tuned over the next few days!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Learning Sugarcraft Week 2

Now, as predicted, these are a little bit of a step up from last time. Honeysuckle is a much more fiddly flower with lots of little bits that can snap off if you're a bit heavy handed, like me. Finesse is not a skill I have refined yet!

We started off by colouring the flower paste a light ivory colour, which as you can see went a lot better than my attempt at colouring last week!

(I also managed to finally get myself some flower paste so I can practice at home! Though next week's poppies look like they might take a fair bit of it... I'll probably buy some more.)

It's funny how a few simple steps can make a really nice outcome, isn't it? I'm not confident enough yet to talk you through how to make them; but one day I will. I swear. Until then, here's some photos of the finished thing.

N.B. This one was made by my instructor, she gave it to me after I managed to snap the tail and three of the prongs off of one of mine whilst attempting to dust it. See how much prettier it is?!

My apologies for the slow updating of this blog; I don't get a lot of time to bake and make things really. I've got some important uni exams coming up at the end of August so I'll either be updating very regularly as a procrastination method or hitting the books! Next week we do poppies, then this class ends, which is sad. But I plan to continue practising my techniques etc. and getting better! I'm looking out for a book on sugarcraft flowers, if anyone can recommend one. It's currently either Sugarcraft Flowers or Sugar Flowers for Beginners atm... Not sure which yet!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Malteaser Cheesecake

Om nom nom. No bake, nice and simple, great tasting and easy!

  • 250g digestive biscuits, crushed 125g salted butter , melted
  • 5 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 x 300g tubs Philadelphia cream  cheese
  • 300ml pot double cream
  • 300g white chocolate
  • 200g bar milk chocolate
  • 2 tbsp malt or Horlicks powder
  • Malteasers to decorate

1) Melt the chocolates in two separate bowls (I did one over a saucepan of boiling water and one in the microwave).

2) In a separate bowl, melt the butter. Crush the biscuits by putting them in a sandwich bag and bashing with a rolling pin until most have formed a fine breadcrumb like texture. I like to have a few bigger bits still in for a bit of variety! Add the crushed biscuits to the butter and two tablespoons of sugar and line the base of a spring form tin. Put into the fridge to chill whilst you make the cheesecake.

3) In two separate bowls, add 1 300g pot of Philadelphia and half the cream (150ml). Add the white chocolate to one bowl and the milk chocolate to the other. Beat the white chocolate bowl until smooth with an electric whisk.

4) In the milk chocolate bowl, also add the Horlicks powder and the remaining three tablespoons of sugar. Beat well with an electric whisk until smooth. 

5) When the mixture is smooth enough, place the milk chocolate mixture over the biscuit base. Smooth down as best as possible, and then add the white chocolate mixture. 

6) Decorate with malteasers and chill for 6+ hours before serving.

Recipe adapted from here

Pictures aren't great, I really must tidy up before I bake so I can put them up properly! This cheesecake is lovely and creamy, though it is quite cheesy.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Learning Sugarcraft: Week 1

Part of my 21st birthday pressies was an unsuspecting looking envelope, containing a slip of paper with details of a cake decoration course on. My dearest mum had booked me and her (she knows I don't like going new places alone, and is always happy to try something new!) on the initial flower arranging course. The first night was last Wednesday, and I was really nervous - would everyone else be better than us? What if they're all horrible? What if I can't do it?!

My fears were completely unfounded, as everyone, teacher included, was lovely and really helpful. Me and my mum felt a little amateur as some of the other ladies are serious bakers - One had a toolbox full of stuff! - and have been on other courses, but we soon settled into it and everyone was understanding of the different abilities. We started with a wildflower, who's name I have forgotten, but one that was simply lovely to make and nice to look at too.

I started initially by colouring my flower paste darker than needed, the ideal was a nice pastel colour and as you can see, my red is not a nice pastel pink but a rather dark red! The blue came out lighter but again, not as light and natural as it should have been. My mums are a lot closer to the 'actual' colour they're meant to be - but as pointed out, nature is full of variety and when making sugar flowers, we're not looking for complete unity but a little bit of variation!

I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking, as I think that's all I can say! Next time we're doing honeysuckle which looks more intricate :) And finally we're doing poppies - my mums favourite flower and one that means a lot to me for various personal reasons. Eventually when I've remembered how to make them and had another few goes (note to self'; must buy some flower paste!) I'll write up a short tutorial on this weeks flowers.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Squidgy Double Chocolate Cookies Recipe

3/4 cup plain and white chocolate chips
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup white caster sugar
1/4 cup soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg
2/3 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt

Oven temp - 170oC, for about 5/6 minutes

1) Cream the butter and the sugars together in a large bowl. 

2) Add in the egg and vanilla essence and combine.

3) In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, bicarb. of soda, salt and cocoa powder. Add to the wet mix a few spoons at a time, mixing thoroughly. 

4) Add the chocolate chips and mix again. 

5) Spoon onto a baking tray with a teaspoon to make small cookies.

Recipe from http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/lush-squidgy-double-chocolate-cookies-780