Saturday, 30 June 2012

Strawberry and Raspberry Millefeuilles

Week 27, Bake 27.

I have never really been a fan of Millefeuilles, I don't really see the point. To be honnest they seem fiddely, difficult to hold and generally really messy (and I am messy enough as it is!). But I needed an idea for this weeks bake as the origional idea I had, I decided that actually I will make that for my parents when I visit them over the summer. So I made Millefeuilles, as I thought I could make only a few as it is just me eating them.

My experience of baking them has not changed my view of them, I still don't see the point! They are fiddely, difficult to hold, worse to assemble and quite messy. The positive of this experience is that at least my puff pastry making has gotten much better.

  • 150g of plain flour
  • 150g of butter, salted
  • 1 teaspoon on lemon juice
  • ice cold water
  • flour for dusting
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • 150ml of double cream
  • 125g of marscapone (I used a lower in fat version, otherwise these bakes will be the death of me!)
  • 2 tablespoons of icing sugar
  • 100g of caster sugar
  1. In a large mixing bowl sift the flour and add in the cold cubed butter.
  2. Now, using your fingers rub the butter and flour together.
  3. Bring this together into a ball by adding in the lemon juice and enough water to bring it into a slightly sticky ball, using a knife.
  4. Chill in cling film in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  5. Now, dust a surface with a good amount of flour and roll out the ball into a long triangle.
  6. Fold the pastry into three and the turn it (to make your first turn) and roll it out again. Do this until you have two turns then pop it back in its cling film and rest it in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  7. Continue this pattern, doing two turns at a time, until it has been turned 6 times.
  8. Now rest it for a further 15 minutes.
  9. Pre-heat the oven to 220c and roll out your pastry one final time. Try and make it into a square or retangle by cutting off any loose edges.
  10. Then prick with a fork, sprinkle some sugar over the top and lay on a baking tray with greeseproof paper, then pop it in the oven.
  11. Cook for 15 minutes.
  12. Meanwhile make your sugar bowls. Do this by melting the caster sugar in a saucepan. DO NOT STIR IT. When the sugar starts to melt, turn the pan from side to side to allow the sugar to mingle.
  13. Grease with olive oil the outside of a small bowl (I used a small pudding pot). Put this on greeseproof paper, so it doesn't get stuck down.
  14. Once the sugar is melted, allow to cool slightly and then using a spoon twizzle the sugar around the bowl making a criss cross pattern.
  15. Leave it to one side to set.
  16. Remove the puff pastry from the oven and carefully transfer it to a cooling rack.
  17. Whilst this is cooling make the cream mixture. Whip the double cream until it forms soft peeks.
  18. Now add in the marsapone and one tablespoon of the icing sugar, then beat until it forms stiff enough peeks to pipe.
  19. Slice the strawberries so that you can layer them in the Millefeuille.
  20. Once the puff pastry is cool, you can start to assemble.
  21. Carefully slice the puff pastry, I made cut mine to 10cm by 5cm and for each Millefeuille you will make, you must cut 3 rectangles.
  22. Now, place the first rectangle on your plate. Pipe a layer of the cream mixture onto the pastry, them assemble your strawberries.
  23. Next, pipe another layer then pop on the next puff pastry triangle very carefully.
  24. Pipe some more cream then place on your raspberries, fill in any gaps on the layer with cream then carefully place on your final layer.
  25. Finally dust the top with the remaining icing sugar.
  26. Now carefully remove the sugar bowl and place it next to the Millefeuille, pipe some cream in the centre then place any remaining strawberries and raspberries in the bowl.
And your done! A very fiddely bake and if you are slightly dyspraxic like I am a nightmare of a bake! However they are rather tasty so all the stress does just disappar when you eat them!

Monday, 25 June 2012


Today I decided that I would go to Stourhead. I got up early to make the most of the day as the weatherman promised me that it would be sunny, sadly I was disappointed... it was overcast. Gutted as I had been planning to go to Stourhead since I moved to Somerset I went about my day... off to the post office, a bit of food shopping and then the sun slowly peeked out of its cloud. So I grabbed my camera, my phone, a bottle of water and I was off!

Driving down the A361 with 'Bring me sunshine' blasting on my car radio I happily arrived at Stourhead within 20 minutes (thanks to the help of my dear Sat Nav). I last went to Stourhead when I was a child, probably about 9 or 10 and therefore my only memory of it came from years of watching that scene in Pride and Prejudice where Mr Darcy proposes to Lizzie (the first time). So I was very excited, sadly that sun was not coming out to play but I was there and determined to make the most of it!

First I went to the gardens as I had to make the most of that little sunshine and I absolutely loved it. When you enter you have to show that you are either a National Trust member or pay, the problem with being single is that the piteous looks you get from the attendants when you say 'one please' (no matter how chipper you are when you say it). Sadly I couldn't walk round the whole of the lake as path repairs were happening but I did manage to have a good walk, followed by some scary looking geese for some of it! I swear they were following me.

After getting slightly lost and wondering into an area I was not allowed in (I always do that, and have no idea how or why), I made my way through a cave, up a steep hill to The Temple of Apollo (where Mr Darcy proposed to Lizzie) and was, I have to admit sad to say that there was no Mr Darcy waiting for me at the top. Never mind, the views were good enough. And of course I stood where Mr Darcy proposed, what Pride and Prejudice Fan wouldn't?

After visiting the gardens, I popped into the church. I always like to visit the church in a village, I guess I should start keeping a list. The church was lovely (even if it was a bit small), you could easily see the Victorian influence with the stain glass windows and the floor tiles. In one corner of the church there was a large branch where people can write their prayer requests on it, I would never normally take pictures of this as I believe it to be rather private but there was one which broke my heart.

A quick lunch (sausage roll and a slice of cake) and of course a cup of tea and I was ready to go again. This time I headed to the kitchen garden (something I love) and the house. After another pitying look when I entered the house, started looking around it (avoiding anyone who looked like they would talk to me about the paintings or the fascinating fabric). One of my highlights would probably be the library, with a beautiful stain glass window. Apparently the house is still lived in and one of the 'drawing rooms' you can see the evidence of this, a drinks cabinet fully stocked, a flatscreen tv with DVDs next to it, but generally this house is still as it was. There are also a lot of paintings to look at, all of far off lands, or naked people and generally displayed in the double height gallery. The pictures which rest on the walls where the grand windows are, are difficult to see due to their dark colours and the bright light behind them. However, this problem has been tackled, all of these pictures are on hinges. So when the lord of the manor wanted to show off his large pictures, he could maneuver them out so that the light could shine on them and the pictures could once again come alive.

My favourite bit of the house? Probably the study, not because it was filled with the works of the great English writers but because I found funny that the Lady of the Manor had Delia's Cheats cookbook placed carelessly on her bookshelf. Even Lady's need to cheat sometimes.

After walking round the house, my feet were becoming tired. So, I thought I would take a short cut, of course not being bothered to read my map might explain why once again I was lost. But thankfully getting lost meant that I came across a beautiful view point and so I got more pictures (even though the weather was now, once again overcast).

So after a long (ish) walk back to my car, my feet tingling, the weather muggy and trying to use my GCSE German to eaves drop on the German tourists in front of me, I decided to go home. I think from now on this will be were I go to think, as it is beautiful and very peaceful. If I had written The King's England, Enchanted Land this would be in it.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

We are half way!

Week 26, Bake 26.

I haven't baked biscuits in ages and recently thought that my bakes were just getting a bit too repetitive; pastry, bread, pastry, bread etc... so I thought that this week would be a biscuit week. So I decided to make lemon Iced Gems, the brilliant treat from my childhood.

Makes approximately 60 Iced gems

  • 150g of salted butter
  • 100g of caster sugar
  • the juice and zest of a lemon finely grated
  • 75g of full-fat cream cheese
  • 300g of plain flour
  • a good pinch of baking powder
  • 100g of icing sugar
  • 50g of butter (for butter cream icing)
  • a splash of milk
  • food colouring
  1. Put the soft butter into a large mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy.
  2. Now add the caster sugar and continue beating.
  3. Pop the lemon zest in and mix it in until evenly dispersed.
  4. Now beat in three teaspoons of the lemon juice and the cream cheese. (Save the rest of the lemon juice for icing).
  5. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and carefully fold it in, using your hands to make a firm dough.
  6. Wrap in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. At this point you can divide it up if you wish to freeze it.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 180c and remove the dough from the fridge.
  8. Lightly flour a surface, then make the dough into a long sausage and continue to make the sausage thinner and thinner until it is about 1-1 1/2 inches wide.
  9. Now flour a knife and slice the dough to make discs. Put the discs onto a baking sheet and cook for 5-10 minutes (or until the discs become lightly golden in coloured).
  10. Now cool them on a wire rack whilst you prepare the icing.
  11. Beat the butter into a small bowl and slowly add in the icing sugar. Once it is all incorporated add a splash of milk.
  12. Divide the icing into bowls then add in a drop of the colour into each (to make them into pastel colours like Iced Gems).
  13. Mix it in then using a large star shaped piping nozzle, pipe a dollop onto each of the biscuits.
  14. Now your done, pop them into your mouth and eat them!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Enchanted Land

I know I have already posted a few of my trips to different Enchanted Land places, but I hadn't actually finished the book! Last night though, I finally finished the book and so I can now (hopefully) publish the map of where I intent to go on my trips throughout this Enchanted Land.

View Enchanted Land in a larger map

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Enchanted Land: Chedworth Roman Villa

After I went to Chipping Campden I twoddled on to Chedworth Roman Villa, partly for a cuppa break but partly because it is in my Enchanted Land book. Now I have to admit that on my drive there me and my so-called trusty sat nav had a slight argument (well I shouted at it because I thought we were lost but as it turns out I was about 100 yards around the corner from it). Anyway, thankfully Chedworth Roman Villa is a National Trust property which meant I got in free. If you are looking for somewhere to break a journey as I was, this is the perfect place. Not big enough to feel guilty about leaving early and not small enough not to go. There is a small cafe, a museum and of course the lovely grounds and mosaics.

Enchanted Land describes Chedworth as:
"Far away from the busy world is a Roman house that all may see, the villa at Chedworth cared for by The National Trust. It Lies in a valley like a miniature Switzerland, splendidly excavated and preserved with all its rooms and passages since it was found through a ferret losing its way in a rabbit hole."

A valley which is like a miniature Switzerland? I was there! I love the Alps and yes this valley may not have lived up to my expectations as a miniature Switzerland, but it was beautiful. For the villa, I had to park in the over-flow car park and on my way out do one of the steepest hill starts I have ever done! Anyway, The National Trust have done a brilliant job of creating a modern visitor centre and of course un-covering the mosaics.

The mosaics were alluring and delicate, to be honest I haven't seen mosaics for years. Possibly since my primary school went for one of our many school visits to Fishbourne Roman Villa. They were of course all covered by a modern building and you had the typical 'roman voices' displays playing in the background (which to be honest was rather annoying, now I know why so many people were walking round the villa with audio tour's in their ears). They also had one of those re-enactment people making cloth, not to sound grumpy but they annoy me too!

It is a great place to understand how the roman's lived and what their buildings looked like. And for an afternoon out I would recommend it, yes the valley was not a miniature Switzerland but it was close, just without the clanging of cow bells and no Alps in the distant.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Onion Marmalade


  • 4lb of onions
  • 3 slices of bacon (or use goose fat)
  • 225g of white sugar
  • 125g of dark brown sugar
  • 450ml of red wine
  • 225ml of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of olive oil

  1. Place a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the bacon. Get as much fat out of the bacon and remove once this has been done (you can eat this now if you really want).
  2. Turn up the heat to medium-high; add the onions, salt and olive oil. Stir to make sure the onions are coated with the oil and bacon fat. Cook with the lid on for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes until the onions begin to turn golden brown.
  3. Add the sugar, brown sugar, red wine, and balsamic vinegar. To test if it’s the right consistency, dribble a bit of the reduction on a plate and it still liquid, but slowly slips down the plate after it cools briefly. WARNING: Do not walk away from this once it begins to get close as it may burn.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool before storing. It keeps in the fridge well for at least 2 months.

Onion Marmalade Quiche

Week 25, Bake 25.

Well we are almost half way through now! Exciting. This last week I went to two of my friend's wedding, and as a started we were served an onion tart. Well, this got me thinking about my next bake and I decided to do my own take on it by creating an onion marmalade quiche. When I went home last week, the one thing that no matter how full my suitcase was which would come back to Somerset with me was the onion marmalade I made. So I really wanted to do something with it.

  • 125g of plain flour
  • 75g of salted butter cut into cubes and slightly soft
  • A pinch of caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 a tablespoon of milk
  • A couple of mushrooms
  • A couple of tablespoons of onion marmalade (check out my onion marmalade recipe here)
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • A good grating of Cheddar cheese
  • A glug of single cream
  1. Tip the flour out onto a clean surface and make a well in the middle. Now add the cubed butter into the well, half a beaten egg (you will use the other half of that egg later) and the sugar.
  2. Now scrunch the butter and egg together in your hand incroportating the flour whilst doing so. Bring it into a ball, it may be dry so add the milk to incorporate the rest of the flour.
  3. Knead it for a minute or until it becomes a smooth pastry.
  4. Roll the pastry out and fit it into the tartlet tins, then rest in the tins for 20 minutes in the fridge (this should help reduce the pastry shrinking when cooking).
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 190c, then blind bake the tartlets for 15 minutes. Take out the grease proof paper and baking beans (I used rice as I don't have baking beans and I don't really recommend this!). Then pop them back into the oven at 170c to cook for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Take them out and let the cool whilst you prepare the filling.
  7. Slice the mushrooms and cherry tomato's thinly, grate the cheese with the fine side of your grater, then make up your quiches.
  8. Spoon a thick layer of onion marmalade into your quiche bases, then add the mushrooms on top, then layer the cheese and put the tomato on top.
  9. In a jug, beat the remaining eggs and add your cream. Season to preference. Pour the egg/cream mixture over the top of your quiches then finish them off with a bit more cheese.
  10. Cook at 170c for 15 minutes. Then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool (or eat straight away)!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Enchanted Land: Chipping Campden

Yesterday was two of my friends wedding. It was a beautiful wedding and I am so happy for them, but it was a 3hr drive away which meant I had to stay over, which also meant that I had a long drive back today.

I realised that the route I was driving was going to go past 3 Enchanted Land places (well actually a lot more, but these were the closest places). This blog post is about the first place I visited today, Chipping Campden.

Enchanted Land describes Chipping Campden as:

"It has been said that merely to walk down the long street Chipping Campden is a recipe for happiness and from the 14th to the 18th century the men who were building it must have known they were doing a lovely thing. Their canopied doorways, charming gables and oriel windows are all alluring, and crowing this splendid piece of countryside is a stately church filled with beautiful things."

So as you can see, I had to go! And I was not disappointed. Chipping Campden is simply a beautiful village. Made of Cotswold stone it is uniformed with wide streets, dappled by sunlight through ancient trees and enchanting. There is a warning which should come with Chipping Campden, it is a bit touristy and sadly the street is usually filled with cars so 'perfect pictures' are hard to get. I loved how all the modern houses are made with the same stone, and how as you drive out of the village, you drive through a street made up with thatched Cotswold stone cottages.

I was lucky that I visited just after the jubilee and so some of the bunting was still up in the village, so as I wandered around I could hear the gentle breeze blowing the flags, the smell of yellow roses (my favourite) wafting through the air and thankfully a sunny day.

Finally I stopped off at the church in Chipping Campden, I love churches and I love graveyards. I know it is strange but I do find graveyards very peaceful and calming (as long as I'm not in them on a dark windy night). Sadly I couldn't go into the church as there was a service taking place so I wondered round the cemetery, but I think I will have to go back as apparently there are some beautiful things in that church!
So final thoughts (for now) on Chipping Campden, lovely, beautiful, would love to live there, but next time I visit will be very early in the morning so I can try and get some pictures without cars and people in them!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Jubilee Summer Fruit Sponge Cake

Week 24, Bake 24.

As we were given two bank holidays by the Queen this year I decided that I would do another bake for the royal jubilee. I had planned to bake another cake but due to a problem with a lack of blue food colouring on the supermarket shelves I had to change my plans. So here is a basic tray-bake jazzed up with some fresh fruit for a jubilee treat.

  • 175g of caster sugar
  • 175g of butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g of self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 6oz of butter for the icing
  • 12oz of icing sugar
  • 200g (approx) of raspberries
  • 200g (approx) of blueberries
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Now beat 3 eggs together then slowly add the beaten eggs one spoon at a time to the mixture beating it in.
  4. Sift the flour into the mixture and then use a metal spoon to fold in the flour.
  5. Now add the vanilla essence.
  6. Pop in a square or rectangle tin and bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the from the tin then cool on a wire rack.
  8. Meanwhile make your butter icing by beating the butter into the icing sugar. If you need to add a small splash of milk to help the icing to become smooth.
  9. Now spread the icing over the cool cake and using a pallet knife make it as smooth as possible.
  10. Wash your fruit then lay it out on top of the cake and you are done.