Lobster burger and cherry beer - yum!

Lobster burger and cherry beer - yum!

Soda bread

Fresh bread is one of the things that all people seem to swoon over. The only issue I find is how long the process takes. Proofing, Kneading etc. can sometimes take a whole day. And although it is worth it sometimes you just don’t have the time.

I found this great recipe for soda bread – which from start to finish (including cooking time) only takes about 50 minutes – perfect for a very cold British day when you just want some warm bread and melted butter.

Much to my delight whist rummaging through the cupboards for some divine condiment to smother the fresh soda bread with I discovered I still had a little for my Fortnum & Mason gold leaf marmalade left (you did read that correct – gold leaf!)

Every Christmas I treat myself to a few jars of jams, curds & pickles from Fortnum & Mason and last December I just couldn’t resist the thought of consuming gold on Christmas morning, delightfully decadent – honestly I’m surprised is has lasted this long.

Raspberry swirl rolls.

The most amazing thing happened the other day – I came home from work and my other-half announced that I was to partake in a treasure hunt (!?!) …. What followed was a series of hidden clues and riddles littered about our house, that would eventually lead me to the most amazing gift ever – something I have been obsessing about forever. My very own Kitchenaid mixer!!! And not just any Kitchenaid – but the limited edition pearlescent and frosted glass bowl mixer – screams were made, fainting considered, baking obligatory.

And so since my wonderful, glorious fiancé loves raspberries I christened ‘the pearl’ (my mixers name) with a batch of sweet raspberry rolls.

I found this recipe a while ago but all the kneading put me off – however now with the dough hook attachment it makes life much easier.

These rolls freeze really well – so it’s worth making a big batch and warming them in the oven whenever you fancy one, Delicious.

After seeing this I NEED to go to Paris 

Apple rose custard tarts

So with Valentine’s Day still lingering in the air, today I wanted to create something with maximum impact and little effort (with a hint of romance)

I had discovered this apple rose tart recipe a while ago and wanted to give it a try.

But today I was feeling a little lazy. So I bought some pre-made pastry, pre-made custard (shock horror!) and decided focus on the ‘apple rose’ element. (More of an experiment to see if I could do it to be honest)

Great - very easy and very very effective.

This would be great for a party as they are very simple to assemble but look like lots of work.

p.s. sorry no step-by-step pics today - being a bit lazy 

Valentine’s pizza 
the food of love? 

Valentine’s pizza 

the food of love? 

The ultimate ‘Mom’s apple pie’ Cupcakes

I love America – I have visited several time and the food haunts my dreams (that’s right … I’m looking at you Texas) and I recently stumbled upon a challenge to create a cupcake that demonstrates ‘American-style baking’. This whole thing seemed right up my street – baking? Creativity? The chance to win a Kitchen Aid? I’M IN!

I came up with several ideas but I felt that apple pie not only screams USA but but also gave me the most flexibility in getting ingredients in the UK and having fun with the presentation.

So, I started with the ‘pie’ idea – I defiantly wanted to use pastry in the cake in some way and have managed to incorporate it (after some trial and error) in both the cake itself and the decoration.

Pie filling:

I wanted to fill the cakes to give them a real ‘apple pie feel’ so I made a very simple (but delicious) filling

1 bramley apple

2 coxs apples

2 tablespoons of demerara sugar

½ lemon zested

½ lemon juice

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Chop up the apples (after peeling and coring) and place in a saucepan

Add the cinnamon, sugar, lemon juice and zest – mix

Place on a low heat and cook till soft and gooey

Simple – or you could by some apple sauce if you’re feeling a bit lazy

Once cooked leave to completely cool

Pastry:

Either make some sweet short crust pastry or buy some pre-made (I bought some as I felt I had enough to do) Roll out, cut to the size of the bottom of the cake cases (12) place into a muffin tin and blind bake (alternatively you could cook a sheet of the pastry, crumble up and place a layer in the base of the cake cases instead)

Once the pastry is halfway cooked – remove baking tray and leave to cool while you make the cupcake mix

Cinnamon/apple cup cakes (makes 12):

4½oz/120g plain flour

5oz/140g caster sugar

1½ tsp baking powder

A pinch of salt

1½oz/40g unsalted butter, at room temperature

2½floz/70ml whole milk

2 floz/60ml apple juice

1 egg

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp vanilla extract

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter together

Once combined

Whisk the egg, vanilla extract, milk and apple juice together in a separate bowl/jug

Pour half of this into the dry ingredients – once evenly combined add the rest and mix till smooth (don’t over mix)

Spoon into the pastry lined cake cases and bake 20-25 mins 170C/325F/gas mark 3.

Once cooked (test with a skewer – if it comes out clean they are cooked) leave to cool while you make the icing/frosting and decorations.

Icing/frosting:

9oz/250g icing sugar, sifted

3oz/80g unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ fl oz/12ml whole milk

½ fl oz/12ml apple juice

A couple of drops of vanilla extract

Beat the icing sugar and butter together (if you have a mixer I advise it – my hand held wisk broke half way through – making this by hand was one hell of a job – but I can be done)

Once combined slowly mix in the milk, juice and vanilla extract a few spoonfuls at a time

Beat the hell out of it – it will take time by hand but it will become nice and fluffy

Decoration:

I made some extra pastry and crumbled it up – this is to roll the edge of the cake in once iced (you can leave it at this as it still has awesome apple pie flavour)

I also used some of the spare pastry to make mini ‘pie lids’ – this was great fun and super cute

Once the cakes are iced and crumbed I put one smaller spoonful of the pie filling on top, then adorned it with the mini ‘pie lid’ and a squirt of cream

I was so happy with how these came out – they taste just like apple pie, with a lovely cinnamon background flavour – GLORIOUS!!!

P.S. as you can see I finally invested in an amazing new camera – pro look shots this time :)

Mars bar brownies

I have an ever growing number of cook books (and with my significant other working in a book shop I have a constant supply)

One of my all time favourites is “Marcus Wareing, How to Cook the Perfect…” (Constantly using this book for the scones recipe as well – perfect every time)

While he has the football on I will flick though my books – and realised I hadn’t made an brownies in ages (years ago I used to make these much more)

So I decided to use the brownie recipe from ‘how to cook the perfect…’ as a base for my Mars Bar brownies.

Because I’m lazy today the recipe can be found here

I of course changed it slightly by cutting up a couple of Mars bars and throwing them in right before baking – this give the odd molten caramel bite as you eat them – glorious 

Eight-strand plaited loaf

Long time no blog - life has been a bit hectic and I have been trying to eat a lot healthier (meaning less cakes – I know – depressing) so I haven’t really got round to updating COG till today (its raining and I have a day off work)

Anyway. Following on from the lemon tart I made while inspired by the Great British Bake off, around the same time I also wanted to attempt some bread baking.

On the shows ‘bread week’ they tackled an ‘eight strand plated loaf’ – looked complicated and time consuming – perfect!

I found the recipe they used here

The main complication is the plaiting of the loaf – I personally found it very therapeutic, but I’m odd like that – I know (from watching the show) others would rather gnaw off their own arm.

The best piece of advice I could give is only concentrate on one instruction at a time. It is easy to get confused with instructions like “place 8 under 7 and over 1” but I thought of it like this “place 8 under 7 ….stop…. then over 1” much easier for my brain to compute. 

Tarte au citron / Lemon tart

The lemon tart has been in my repertoire for a while now. I discovered early in my relationship with my other half that if I want to get on his good side I need to make something with lemons! 

This particular tart was a result of us both forgetting our anniversary (I know, I know but work has been crazy for both of us) so this was an ‘apology tart’.

At around the same time I had been enthralled with watching the 'Great British Bake off' and low and behold they has an episode on tarts (with the Tarte au citron being the technical challenge) 

I decided to try Mary Berry’s recipe but with a twist. Where her recipe calls for 4 Lemons I used 3½ and 1 lime (including zest) This gave the tart a lovely Lime background flavour that hit you every so often while eating. most enjoyable!

Notable knowledge

1. I used a food processor but you can easily use your hands if you don’t have one. You simple rub the butter into the flour till it resembles breadcrumbs - its best to get someone with cold hands to do this so the butter doesn’t melt

2. If you don’t have baking beans you can use rice

3. You MUST fill the pasty case while in the oven. If you fill it then try to move it into the oven it will spill, and the filling will get in-between the pastry and the tin. This will result in a nightmare struggle to remove the tart from the tin. 

this picture is just so autumn to me - I took this at London borough market - definitely worth a foodie visit 

this picture is just so autumn to me - I took this at London borough market - definitely worth a foodie visit 

Sugar Skull Pumpkin

I am totally in love with Halloween!!! I think I may love it almost as much as Christmas, and although this isn’t a foodie post its a precursor to the now obscene amount of squash recipes I will have to produce 
Every year I insist on carving a pumpkin and I now have a timeline of photos on my wall of pumpkins past.

This year I wanted to make a pumpkin that looked just as good during the day as it did at night. (I travelled across London to try and find a white pumpkin - alas they don’t seem to exist in the UK - spray paint it is then)

With my earlier trip this year to Texas (and the Mexican market in San Antonio) I fell in love with sugar skulls (we managed to pick up some beautiful sugar skull print fabric that is currently being turned onto pillows) I love not only the intricate designs but also just how colourful they are, also the idea of bringing a bit of colour into the usual orange and black colour palette of Halloween made me smile. 

For the ‘night’ shots I also wanted to try playing with glow sticks (I am such a sucker for glow sticks!!!) A while ago I stumbled upon this glow jars tutorial, and have been waiting for an excuse to try it. Halloween was that excuse. So much fun.

Homemade pizza with lashings of Tabasco (I’m obsessed with hot sauces)

Homemade pizza with lashings of Tabasco (I’m obsessed with hot sauces)

Olympics Gold medal Cake

Well the Olympics are over and I’m missing them already – I had become accustom to my daily sport intake, living and working in London made the experience even better. The general attitude of everyone was more upbeat, I got to see a couple of great Olympic football matches and I even got to meet a member of team GB (table tennis – he came into my shop in full GB sports get up) – Olympics! You will be missed.

And every leaving party (or closing ceremony) of course deserves a cake

I wanted to keep this cake pretty straight forward (the truth is it had to travel half way across London on public transport) but I still wanted to celebrate all the gold medals that were won. Sugar work, here I come.

I started with the basic vanilla sponge cake I had used in one of my previous entries (Neapolitan 5 layer cake with ganache drip glaze)

In total I made 5 cakes – each layer was coloured to represent the colours of the Olympic rings.

This cake was always going to be about the icing.

I wanted I golden look but without the use of edible glitter (I don’t know why but I really don’t like that stuff – it just cheapens the look of any cake)

I remembered that I had bookmarked a triple salted caramel cupcake recipe from ‘sprinkle bakes’ that I had been wanting to do for a while.

Although the cupcakes do look great was concerned primarily with the frosting.

I doubled this recipe so I had more than enough to ice all 5 layers of the cake and the decorate the outside

For the ‘gold medals’ – I again used the basic recipe that was on Sprinkles bakes (excluding the sugar crystals), but instead of drizzling the molten sugar to a pattern I simply pored it onto small circles.

Decoration was very simple – I slathered the cake with caramel frosting (including a crumb coat), piped fat blobs the whole way round the edge of the cake, laid the ‘gold medals’ on each blob the adorned the centre with loads of toothpick flags I had previously made.

It was a closing ceremony of sugar – the best kind

Now to get started on the cake for Rio 2016 (ha!)

Notable knowledge

1. You really need to watch the sugar when making the caramel - it will burn very quickly if you leave it on the heat for a moment too long

2. To make the ‘medals’ again you have to work very quickly - the sugar will be rock solid in no time

3. When working with sugar you may think you have ruined your saucepans - the simplest way to clean them is fill them with boiling water and boil on the hob for a few minutes, the sugar will just dissolve away (no scrubbing)

Limited edition Indian spices ketchup!  Brilliant on everything!

Limited edition Indian spices ketchup! Brilliant on everything!