2014-08-17 08.35.25

Welsh Cakes/ Pices Ar Y Maen- The Great British Bake Off Big Book Of Baking.

Who else is excited by the return of The Great British Bake Off?  Me, me, me!  Though I’m the only one in our house who watches it.  My husband nicknames it “The Great British XXXX Off” but who cares?  I love it and enjoy baking recipes from the accompanying book.  Series 5 this year is no exception and I was pleased to get my hands on a copy of The Great British Bake Off Big Book Of Baking!

There are lots of interesting and innovative recipes in the book but sadly some recipes are repeated from the very first book The Great British Book Of Baking.  To those who have just got into the series this is fine but for me who has followed GBBO from the very beginning you do feel a little bit cheated.

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So excited to get back from my holiday to find this book waiting for me when I got home!

One such recipe was the one for Welsh Cakes.  I have previously blogged about Welsh Cakes as I adore them in a post about Welsh Baking on our holiday in Ceredigion last year.  To me, they are utterly addictive and the rest of my family feel the same.  I first tried them when I was a student in Bangor back in the early 1990s and have loved Welsh Cakes ever since.

So as it was my daughter’s GCSE results day I wanted to make Welsh Cakes for breakfast as a special treat.  They were simple to make: cubes of butter rubbed into sugar and plain flour with a hint of mixed spice added for flavour.  Currants or raisins are then added along with an egg yolk and milk to turn them into a dough.

After the dough is made you roll out the dough on a floured work surface and cut out circles with a fluted cutter.  Then, when you are ready you cook them on a griddle or flat frying pan. You usually cook them for about 2 minutes or so each side so they are golden brown.  The Welsh cakes puff up a little when they are cooked.

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Here are four of the Welsh cakes in my flat griddle frying pan. You don’t need to grease the pan.

As soon as my kids realised I was making Welsh Cakes they flew downstairs.  I couldn’t cook them fast enough, it’s like Pancake Day in our house.  They definitely are addictive! I got about 18 cakes out of the dough and when I got ready with the camera I found they had disappeared!

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That’s all that was left for me,slightly burnt too as hubby was asking me something at the time I was cooking them!

Happy Baking!  Or should I say Pobi Hapus?

Love Sam xx

2014-08-03 19.00.03

Man Quiche from Holly Bell’s Recipes From A Normal Mum.

About a month ago I was really excited when Holly Bell’s new book “Recipes From A Normal Mum” came out.  Series 2 Great British Bake Off Finalist Holly has been a great favourite of mine and I love following her page on Facebook, reading her Recipes From A Normal Mum blog and her Twitter feed seeing what recipes she creates for her young family.   I like her recipes very much because not only are they imaginative, they use easy to find ingredients that can be bought locally and not just in an expensive or exclusive shop. I also get bored cooking the same things week in week out- not Spag bol or Shepherd’s Pie again?

So when my copy of Recipes From A Normal Mum popped through the door on the last day of term I couldn’t wait to open the package and look through the book.  I wasn’t disappointed.  There were loads of recipes I could tempt not just my family with.

One recipe which caught my eye was the “Man Quiche”.  I love the humorous titles Holly gives her recipes and wondered what it was to make it into a Man Quiche.  She explains in the recipe introduction: “Imagine my surprise when after bagging my old fashioned husband he revealed a penchant for quiche.  My Dad had always held firm that real men don’t eat quiche.  It turns out that very rarely dads can be wrong.”  Well Holly my husband is old fashioned, too and prefers meat and two veg type meals to pasta, etc. but he loves quiche.  I knew he would enjoy this one as he loves leeks and mushrooms so in this case it definitely was a “Man Quiche”  What a shame the other man (or almost man as he’s 14 years old!) in our household turned his nose up at the quiche and said he wasn’t eating it.  Nothing new there, then!

So, one Sunday afternoon when I was busy trying to meet myself going backwards I started off making some parmesan cheese flavoured shortcrust pastry.  I’m ok at making shortcrust now and I allowed time for it to chill in the fridge.

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Weighing out the cubes of cold butter needed to make the parmesan shortcrust pastry.

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The shortcrust pastry dough made in the traditional method before being wrapped in cling film and being chilled in the fridge.

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The pastry rolled out and in the 23cm round tart tin. I pricked the base a few times with a fork then put it in the oven to blind bake with my ceramic baking beans inside.

So far so good!  I was feeling quietly smug and confident thinking, this is going to be a winner here!

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While the case was blind baking I made the filling, here are the leeks and mushrooms frying on the hob.

I was really upset by what happened next!  I was trying to do too many things at once along with trying to rush.  It was getting late and I wanted the quiche ready for when my hubby came home from the race meeting he was at.  I didn’t know what he would have eaten all day.  I’d had a bit of an issue with the Blackberry and Elderflower cake I was baking (more about that here) so I wasn’t in the best frame of mind.  Then to top it all I get the pastry case out of the oven to check on how its going on as it’s blind baking and the next thing the whole bloody quiche case, tin, parchment paper and baking beans all fall out of my hand onto the floor.  The tin dropped onto my toes, but I moved out of the way so quickly I was lucky I didn’t get burnt!  I ran to the cupboard and got my Nordicware cake lifter out and scooped up the case and the tin as best as I could.  Half the case had broken but there was enough to put a little on the bottom but not on the sides!  While I was faffing around with the pastry I found my dog had rushed into the kitchen and had started to lick the baking beans still on the floor!  So I had to get chase him out, scoop up the beans which were still hot from the oven (hadn’t worried the dog though!) and chuck them away.  I was so upset and was crying from frustration.  There wasn’t much food left in the house as we were off on holiday a few days later and I didn’t want to buy too much in for it to go to waste!

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Thankfully all’s well that ends well.  The quiche looked very untidy but I managed to create the filling happily by adding eggs, cheese, double cream and some thyme together and mixing it in with the leeks and mushrooms.  These baked well in the tin on top of the rustic looking pastry.

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The finished Man Quiche.

In the end my hubby rang and said he would be getting his dinner after the race had finished as they were doing the results so I didn’t need to worry about dinner for him.  Both my children turned their noses up at the quiche. My son wouldn’t eat it at all and I forgot my daughter doesn’t like mushrooms! So only I had a slice of it with some salad for my dinner!

The following day I was out for dinner with friends and my hubby was at home with my kids and my daughter’s boyfriend. Apparently hubby had a huge slice of leftover quiche after their dinner and hubby said to my daughter’s boyfriend “It looks horrible but it actually tastes quite nice!” Praise indeed from a man who never gives praise and is more critical than Paul Hollywood, Gordon Ramsey and Simon Cowell rolled into one!  The quiche ended up being lunch for my daughter’s boyfriend the next day as well!

I will definitely bake the Man Quiche again and Holly says “you can add a handful of fried lardons or chopped bacon” which to me sounds like a great idea!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

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Scandelicious Baking- Toscakaka.

I don’t miss baking and eating cakes when I’m on holiday in places like Spain.  I think it’s because it’s far too hot to be thinking about eating cake and I’m not in my own kitchen.  Although the villas we usually stay at have pretty impressive kitchens I’m happier getting a salad ready, cooking something with pasta or warming up croissants!  But as soon as I’m back home, that’s it.  I want to be baking again and eating comfort food.  When we left Spain on Saturday morning it was 30oC, now as I type it’s 14oC.  No wonder I’m craving carbs!  Or maybe it’s the fault of The Great British Bake Off?

Once I was back from holiday and had to get stocked up again in our local Morrisons I thought of what we could have to go after our Sunday lunch pudding.  I didn’t have one single pudding on holiday, apart from a couple of ice creams.  I got out my Scandelicious Baking book which is part of my Cooking The Books Challenge from this month and decided on the Toscakaka.  Of course when I told my kids I was making Toscakaka they started laughing about the kaka bit and said it sounded like cack , I think caca is also French for poo which made them laugh even more when I told them that.  Though in this case I think it’s either Norwegian or Swedish for cake!

Toscakaka is actually a very delicious cake and I’ve been lucky enough to eat it at a local  Scandinavian cafe, called Baltzersens in Harrogate which serves the most yummy cakes.  The sponge base is a light vanilla sponge made with buttermilk and topped with an almond praline.  It isn’t overly sweet which I thought would appeal to my husband.

We ate our dinner quite late that day as a main meal, I couldn’t be bothered with a full roast or anything like that so I made up a lasagne with some salad for our mains followed by a slice of the Toscakaka.  Here’s how it was made:

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First I whisked eggs with sugar and vanilla extract. This had to be done by hand as my hand held mixer has broken.

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All the “dry ingredients” were mixed together in another bowl. In another bowl I was meant to add some buttermilk but Morrisons didn’t have any. I used creme fraiche instead!

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Making the almond praline- by heating butter, brown sugar, flaked almonds and milk in a pan until caramelised.

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The baked cake out of the oven and cooling down on the rack. I left the cake inside the tin as you have to put it back in the oven with the praline topping on it.

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The cake with the praline topping on it, it went back into the oven for about 10 minutes to cook.

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Here is the finished cake after it was turned out onto the cooling rack. Although the sides weren’t very neat it tasted fantastic.

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The flaked almonds look a bit lighter than the ones in the recipe’s picture but I was worried about them burning!

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A slice for me! My hubby had his with a dollop of creme fraiche on the side.

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Leftovers for another day.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Scandelicious- Chocolate Cardamom Biscuits.

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A plate of spiced chocolate biscuits.

A week ago last Wednesday we were meant to be meeting my Mum for the day at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire.  I grew up in Nottinghamshire so Clumber Park was a great spot for us in the school holidays.  Since I’ve grown up and now live in North Yorkshire it’s still only an hour or so’s drive for me so is an ideal meeting place for me when catching up with my mum.  When the kids were younger it was great as they would love feeding the ducks, climbing the trees and running around by the lakeside.  We sometimes took a picnic or if it was cold would eat in the cafe.  We planned this last time to take a picnic, my mum bringing the sandwiches, etc and I’d bring the sweet stuff.  Only in true British style you plan a picnic and the weather forecast is rubbish.  Rain was forecast and we didn’t fancy walking around Clumber Park in the rain and sitting eating a picnic with soggy cakes and sandwiches.  We took a rain check (sorry about the pun!) and decided to meet at Meadowhall for lunch instead.  A good thing too, the heavens opened as soon as I got on the A1 and it didn’t ease off until I was well past Leeds and nearer Wakefield!

So what has this got to do with Chocolate Cardamom Biscuits?  Well as I mentioned before I was in charge of bringing along the sweet stuff so I chose to bake the Chocolate Cardamom biscuits and the Flappenjacken from Signe Johansen’s Scandelicious Baking as my contribution to the picnic.  I had already done the biscuits when we decided not to have the picnic any more.  I thought I’d take them in a box to give to my mum as she would no doubt be catching up with friends or with my auntie but I completely forgot to take them with me.  In the end my family troughed them between us.

So last Tuesday I had decided to bake these pretty biscuits and although mine are slightly different to Signe’s they still tasted great.  When I looked in my cupboard for a jar of cardamom pods they looked well past their best so I chose to add cinnamon instead for the spicy hit.  So in all fairness they’re really Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies!  Also in Signe’s recipe you roll up the dough into a sausage shape and cut off circles from the roll when the cookies have been chilled.  Not here. I chose a heart shaped cutter and chose to roll out my cookies and cut out hearts with them instead.

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Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies or Biscuits, great all year round and was a real treat with a cup of coffee.

I will definitely bake these cookies again, they will be perfect in the winter and at Christmas time. A bag of these would make a lovely present or they would go down well with a scoop of ice cream.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

2014-08-01 13.00.06

Scandelicious Baking- Dime/Daim Bar Muffins.

Last Friday, at the end of the second week of the summer holidays I was at home in baking mode. I’d had the scales and the oven on to bake some cupcakes for my Dad’s cousin’s Golden Wedding Celebration. My two teenagers weren’t coming to the party but I wanted them to have a treat while we were out to have after their pizza.  They love muffins and chocolate so I thought I could try and bake them some Dime Bar Muffins like I saw in Scandelicious Baking by Signe Johansen.

Signe says in the recipe introduction: “These chocolate muffins satisfy a sweet tooth without being too sweet, despite the fact they contain little nuggets of Daim almond praline and are topped with a rich chocolate Daim glaze,”  Sounds good to me!

When I was out shopping the day before I struggled to find the Dime/ Daim bars needed to bake the muffins.  I was in Sainsburys and couldn’t find any on the shelf.  When I asked the assistant if they had any in he said they had stopped selling them.  Why?  I didn’t have time to go anywhere else except a local Tesco where I did find a couple of bars of Dairy Milk with Daim pieces in it.  I hoped that they would work just as well in the recipe.

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Dairy Milk Daim Bars, I needed two of these bars. Some pieces were chopped up in the muffins itself, the rest ended up as a chocolate glaze and sprinkled on the top of the muffins!

So on the Friday morning out came my muffin cases and the muffin tin and I got down to work.

The muffins didn’t swell up as much as I thought they would do, so they looked far more like cupcakes than muffins to me.  The kitchen smelled of chocolate heaven and my mouth was watering.  I didn’t eat any though as we were going out that night but I was really tempted!

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Whisking eggs, vanilla and sugar together.

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Folding in the flour and baking powder.

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The muffin batter ready to be put in the cake cases and for the oven.

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The finished Daim Bar Muffins were spread with a chocolate glaze and topped with chopped pieces of Dairy Milk with Daim inside.

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One of the muffins broken up to see what was inside!

Both my children loved the muffins and so did my hubby who had one to “put him on” until we ate at the Golden Wedding Celebration that evening.  He enjoyed it as he doesn’t have a sweet tooth but they still tasted great, just goes to show you don’t need to pack things full of sugar to taste good.  I thought, oh well I’ll have one for breakfast on the Saturday morning but when we got in from the party we found that ALL the muffins had gone!  Oh dear, my cake eating fairies had been at it again.  I’ll just have to go off and bake another batch!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

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Scandelicious Baking- Blueberry and Elderflower Upside Down Cake.

I’m a bit behind with my blog posts recently but I’m trying to catch up with it all.  We had a few mad days before going off to Spain on our summer holidays so cake and baking was the last thing on my mind!  But I always love to have a cake or a pudding for Sunday lunch dessert.  So on the first Sunday back at the beginning of August, it was a busy day as my hubby was out all day doing a classic car rally and I was at home with my two children. The kids were busy doing their own thing as teenagers do and  I had a pile of ironing the height of the Empire State Building. I was just so unmotivated to get it done.  In the end I did about half of it but at least I had some baking to look forward to!

I chose to bake Signe Johansen’s Upside Down Blueberry and Elderflower Cake from her Scandelicious Baking book.  I have tried this delicious cake before in Baltzersens which is a Scandinavian coffee shop in Harrogate.  It is just gorgeous and I love the blueberries glistening like shiny jewels on top of the cake against the pale vanilla sponge.  A pretty cake with lots of flavour but not overpoweringly sweet and sickly.

In the recipe introduction Signe says “This cake doesn’t keep well as the blueberries lose their fresh intensity relatively quickly after cooking so be sure to get your friends around to enjoy it on the day of baking!”

It was a shame I hadn’t got any friends coming round on that day then but I was sure it would go down well with the family when I served it up for pudding. Or so I thought.

On this day I just seemed to have one baking disaster after another.  I was in tears as I had also tried to bake a quiche for our dinner.  We were having our main meal of the day at dinnertime when my hubby was due to get back but I wasn’t sure what time he would be back. The quiche going wrong was another story and I was just so tempted to say “B******r it, lets have a Chinese!” I didn’t have much food in, being as we were off on holiday a few days later I was trying to run stocks down a little.

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The elderflower flavour in the cake comes from this gorgeous elderflower cordial. I recently bought some at the Harrogate Good Food Show from the Belvoir Fruit Farms stand. I love it and have bought more as it’s delicious with fizzy water!

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The elderflower cordial was poured over a large punnet of blueberries.

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In a large bowl I whisked together eggs, sugar and vanilla extract.

Disaster in the kitchen part one started when yet another of my hand held mixers (I’ve gone through about 5 in the last 2 years) decided to pack up.  I have a KitchenAid which I love but my hubby moans about it being in the way in the kitchen when I use it and makes me put it away in the garage or the cupboard every time I’ve finished baking.  This does my head in and isn’t convienient so the handheld one does the trick if I’m only baking one thing at a time.  On a Sunday afternoon there wasn’t time to go and get another one so I used the whisk attachment on my stick blender which isn’t very strong.

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Whisking the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract up.

Then I added spelt flour, ground almonds and baking powder and alternated folding these ingredients into the mixture along with some melted butter and some Greek yoghurt.  I used a large metal spoon but the mixture did seem a little bit runny to me.

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Here is the mixture all whisked up.

In the recipe Signe mentions using a 23cm round cake tin.  I didn’t know whether she meant a deep one or a sandwich one. I got the deep one out that I use for Christmas cakes but I think I used the wrong base!  As the cake is an upside down one, I had to put all the elderflower soaked blueberries in first. followed by the cake mixture.  All seemed to be fine until about half way through the cooking time I looked through the oven window and noticed blueberry juice seeping out of the bottom of the cake tin and splashing onto the oven bottom!  I could have cried.  The cake was meant to be in the oven for 30-35 minutes but it got beyond that time and the cake was still raw in the middle.  I kept it in for about 50 minutes in the end but because I’d had the oven door open a couple of times testing the cake it came out with a big dip in the middle.  Then the tears did come and afterwards I thought “Why am I crying over a cake?”

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The finished blueberry and elderflower upside down cake. Complete with sunken middle.

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A slice of the blueberry cake cut up and appearances can be deceptive. It tasted lovely.

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After my daughter also had a slice this is what was left. No one was really that impressed by it, sadly.

When the cake had cooled down and I’d cleared up I found out that my hubby was being given dinner after his race meeting. So a big blueberry cake dessert wasn’t needed after all.  I cut up the cake and asked my children if they would like some.  My daughter loves blueberries and she enjoyed it but my son turned his nose up at it.  I really enjoyed it and would love to try and bake it again another time.  A couple of days later we still had half the cake left so I decided to get it out and see if it was still worth eating.  Unfortunately I dropped the plate and my greedy labrador scoffed the lot!  I was fuming but he obviously liked it as there wasn’t anything but crumbs left on the floor!  Bad dog!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Raspberry Ripple Mascarpone Traybake

This bake was made over 4 weeks ago now and I’d completely forgotten about it.  I don’t know why, just I suppose I was caught up in lots of catching up at the end of term in my day job, coupled with the start of the summer holidays.

On the last morning of school before we broke up for the summer we had our Year 6 Leaver’s Mass. We go across to church and after Mass the parents are invited back to school for tea or coffee and cakes or biscuits. Mostly I end up in charge of the tea urn and serving up the coffee so I thought why not bring something in for the parents to help themselves to?  Sometimes we ask for donations towards the school building fund but I don’t mind, I love baking and seeing people  enjoy what I make.

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Raspberry Ripple Mascarpone Traybake- recipe by Ruth Clemens on her blog/ website The Pink Whisk.

I’d always wanted to have a go at Ruth Clemens’ (Great British Bake Off Series 1 finalist) Raspberry Ripple Cake . It’s on her blog The Pink Whisk, which I really enjoy looking at. I’ve seen how popular this is as I’ve seen other people bake this cake in different ways; as a bundt or as a tray bake. I chose to try out a tray bake as I could cut it up at home and get more portions out of it!  I’m sure it would work well as a muffin or cupcake mix as well.

So after school on the night before the end of term I got cracking. It was really hot as the sun shines in the back ofmy house in the afternoon where my kitchen is.  I had to have all the doors and windows wide open.  I don’t mind this as I hate being cooped up inside when it’s hot and sunny.

I personally thought I should have put more raspberries in the cake and made them more squishy so they blended in more, giving a ripple effect.

For the icing I was meant to use cream cheese but when I went to the fridge to get out my tub of Philadelphia, I noticed three quarters of it had gone!  I think my daughter, who had been at home after finishing all her exams had been eating it on toast or something!  Now I’ve learned to write on the top of my baking things with a permanent marker saying “Do Not Use!” But at the time this was really annoying but gladly I had some unused mascarpone in a tub so that went in the icing instead!

I was really pleased as the traybake slices were popular with the parents and staff.  There wasn”t any left by the end of the session and one parent said it was the best of my bakes she had tried.  I definitely will be making them again!

Now, here are some photos of the Raspberry Ripple Traybake.

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The finished raspberry ripple traybake.

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View from the top.

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I cut up the traybake into pieces beforehand so it was easier to serve.

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The raspberries in the mixture didn’t go all squishy and look rippled but they still looked fine.

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Too tempting by half!

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You could tell which was the more popular cake with the parents! The children liked the chocolate chip bundt though.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx