Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Eton Mess Cake

Week 31, Bake 31.

Summer has finally come to England, and it has hit us hard. After weeks of rain we are 'enjoying' 30 degree heat, lovely! And so to celebrate the sun (and I guess the Olympics) I decided to bake an Eton Mess cake. I had thought about doing it for Wimbledon, but I realised if I did it then, I would be eating it by myself... and with the amount of cream and sugar in it I would be feeling guilty for the rest of the year!

Ingredients:
  • 200g of softened unsalted butter
  • 200g of caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 250g of self-raising flour
  • 6 tablespoons of milk
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 1 punnet of strawberries
  • 250ml of double cream
  • 1 passion fruit
Method:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160c.
  2. Beat the softened butter in a large bowl and add the caster sugar then beat until light and fluffy.
  3. In a jug, beat the eggs together, then slowly add them into the butter sugar mixture whilst beating.
  4. Make sure it doesn't curdle, if it does add in a tablespoon of the flour.
  5. Once all the egg is incorporated, add the vanilla essence and mix.
  6. Sift your flour and using a metal spoon fold it into the cake mixture.
  7. Mix in the milk.
  8. Line two sandwich cake tins and greece them. Divide the mixture between the two and put to one side.
  9. Now in a separate clean bowl, beat the two egg whites together until stiff peeks are formed.
  10. Pour in the caster sugar and then whisk once again until soft peeks are formed and the eggs are glossy.
  11. Now divide the meringue between the two cake tins, leaving 2cm rim round the side.
  12. Cook for 35-4o minutes.
  13. Carefully turn them out to cool whilst you take the hulls out of the strawberries and slice them.
  14. Whip your cream.
  15. Now assemble the cake: Place one of the sponges on a plate, spread the whipped cream over the meringue, place your strawberries on top of this and then put the other sponge onto of it.
  16. Now do a big dollop of the cream on top then place any remaining strawberries onto this to hide the cream.
  17. Slice a passion fruit and spoon out its insides. Gently spoon them over the cake and that's it your done!
  18. Remember all the cream, so keep it refrigerated. And enjoy!!!

Friday, 20 July 2012

New York Style Cheesecake with Raspberry Coulis

Week 30, Bake 3o.

I am back home for the summer to help out with my parents B&B. But it also means that I have people to share my baking with so I don't eat it all by myself and get fat. I asked mum and dad what they wanted me to bake whilst I'm here and New York Cheesecake was one of them. So off I popped this morning to get the ingredients and had an afternoon baking. It is lovely to be back in a kitchen where there is not only a dishwasher but an oven which has the temperature markings on it, joy!
Ingredients:
  • 200g of digestive biscuits
  • 75g of melted butter
  • 450g of full fat soft cream cheese
  • 2 large eggs (beaten together)
  • zest of a small orange
  • 90g of caster sugar
  • Assorted berries
  • Raspberries
  • 4 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar plus extra for dusting
Method:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c.
  2. In a food processor crush the biscuits to make crumbs. Melt the butter then mix it into the biscuits.
  3. Press into a 22cm loose bottom tin, using the base of a glass to press it down firmly.
  4. Refrigerate until you need it.
  5. Meanwhile in a large mixing bowl, place the cream cheese, eggs, orange zest and caster sugar and using an electric mixer beat together.
  6. Now pour the mixture over the biscuit base and then carefully place it on a baking tray in the oven.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until there is only a little wobble.
  8. Remove from the oven and cool.
  9. Meanwhile in a saucepan place the raspberries and a small splash of water and simmer until the sauce becomes thickened.
  10. Sieve the sauce into a bowl and then slowly add the 4 tablespoons of icing sugar. Mix and continue adding until it is thick enough to pipe.
  11. Prepare your fruit by taking out the stones and washing them.
  12. Once the cheesecake is cool enough pipe your pattern on it and then arrange your fruit on top with a small dusting of icing sugar.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Winnie The Pooh Embroidery

I started this in January when I was jobless as a bit of optimistic thinking, and like a lot of things didn't finish it. And so as it is now the summer holidays and I have been at my job for a term now I can finish all of my unfinished projects. So here is a picture which I embroidered from one of my favorite books... Winnie the Pooh.

Strawberry Jam Doughnut Muffins

So this weekend has been rather lovely, my big brother has come down from the 'big smoke' (as my dad calls it) to visit me in dear old Somerset. Yesterday we went to Bath, today we went to a giant flea market and tomorrow we will be touring cider makers. So this weeks bake is something for him, Strawberry Jam Doughnut Muffins.

Ingredients:
  • 400g of strawberries, diced
  • 200g of caster sugar (for the jam)
  • A small glug of lemon juice
  • 140g of caster sugar
  • 200g of plain flour
  • 1 tsp of bircarb of soda
  • 100ml of greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 140g of melted butter (plus more for greasing)
  • extra caster sugar for dusting
Method:
  1. Chop the strawberries and place them with a little water into a sauce pan and cook them until the fruit softens. Now add in the sugar to make jam.
  2. Rapidly boil the jam until it is thick enough to do the saucer test. This is where you have a cold saucer in the fridge, put a teaspoon worth of jam onto it, come back 3 minutes later and if it wrinkles when you run your finger through it the jam will be ready.
  3. Once it is ready, cool it in the fridge or freezer (but only to get its temperature down so you can use it in the bake).
  4. Grease a muffin tin with butter.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 190c.
  6. Now, mix the caster sugar, flour and bicarb of soda together in a bowl and set it aside.
  7. In a jug mix the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla essence together.
  8. Now melt the butter and allow it to cool slightly.
  9. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the jug mixture and the butter. Fold in all the ingredients until it is completely incorporated.
  10. Now put a tablespoon or two of the mixture into each of the 12 holes, (this should us about 2/3 of the mixture)
  11. Add a teaspoon of your jam into the center of each muffin hole and and then gently spoon the rest of the doughnut mixture on top.
  12. Pop in the oven to cook for 16-18 minutes.
  13. Once ready, leave them to cool for 2-5 minutes and then on a baking tray sprinkle a fair amount of caster sugar onto the tray.
  14. Pop of the doughnuts out and roll them in the caster sugar.
  15. And then they are ready, lovely to eat warm but remember the jam may be hot.



Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Another day out

Today was actually a nice day! Although the MET Office said that there was a amber warning of rain it was blue sky and puffy clouds today. So I went to Wells and then Glastonbury Tor, I do love having long school holidays. So here are some of my pictures from today;
These swans are all over Wells, they are part of their diamond jubilee celebrations and will be auctioned off for charity in September.

It was the perfect day to go up the Tor, sunny, warm and very very windy. But I love having the wind in my hair so I didn't mind how messy it made it!
It's a long way up to Glastonbury Tor.
And finally a panoramic view, showing the North of Somerset.


Monday, 9 July 2012

Its the summer holidays!

I love my job and I love my holidays and thankfully at my job I get long holidays. So the first weekday of my holidayy I decided to go to Cheddar Gorge. After weeks and weeks of rain, today was the first 'overcast' day and so I decided to go to Cheddar gorge because it is very pretty and because I needed some cheese for lunch! Thankfully on the way I could tick off one of my Enchanted Land places, Rodney Stoke a thankful village.

For those of you who don't know, a Thankful Village is one which had no losses in ww1 and a doubly thankful village is a village which had no losses in ww1 and 2. These villages had their young go off to war and they all came back. Rodney Stoke proudly professes its thankfulness, even in it's village sign. I quickly pulled over the car when I saw that they have a 'shrine' to the fact that they are a thankful village. I drove down this small country lane to find a the church perched on a small mound looking out onto the Somerset Levels

. I walked up to the church and it was locked. Disappointed I turned round to find the key holder (a village oap) who was more than happy to let me go in. He chatted to me for about 5 minutes about the church and the history and then was on his way.

As enchanted land says:
"We come to Rodney Stoke in Somerset we find a village proudly expressing its thankfulness that it offered 17 men and four women to England and all came home safely home. Nowhere else have we found the spirit of thankfulness expressed as in a lovely window here, facing the door as we came in, with these grateful words:


To the glory of God and in thankful remembrance of the safe return of all the men connected with this parish who by land and sea served King and Country in the Great War."

The village only lost four people in the second world war and has a plaque dedicated to them, strangely enough another plaque on another wall documents another person who died in ww2, it is presumed by the villagers that this person was not part of the armed forces when he died but was in a cargo ship at sea (or so I was told by the kind gentleman).

The enchanted land also talks about other aspects of the church which make it special, the tombs of the Rodney family and the pews, which the gentleman who opened the church for me told me about. One the end of each pew is carved wood, two girls (I think they were the vicars
daughters) who taught people of the village how to carve and so each pew end was carved by a different person of the village. One was carved by Reginald Hale: "who left Rodney Stoke to seek his fortune overseas sailing in the greatest ship that ever then had gone to sea, and went down with it on his first voyage. It is one of the sad little postscripts to the poignant tragedy of the Titanic." The pew carved by Reginald Hale is the picture to the right.

As I was leaving the church I bumped into the old gentleman again and he told me how they had a dig recently by the church and found roman pottery and so it seems Rodney Stoke has been part of history for years.

Anyway so from there I drove onto Cheddar and decided to got straight up the gorge. It was so fun to drive up! Yes I am still relatively new to driving and so there are lots of roads round Somerset which I find fun to drive, and this is fun! I stopped at the top (I tried on the way up but it cost £5 to park for the day and as I wasn't going to stay the whole day I kept going) and then decided to go for a walk. Near the top I pulled over and decided to see if I could get a picture of the gorge from the top. But first I had to walk to the top which was a hell of a steep climb! Bearing in mind that there had been a months worth of rain this last weekend it appears I climbed up the route that it must have come gushing down at some point. The footpath is a steep climb, and full of the gorges rocks, on any other summer I am sure it would be bone dry, but today it was very muddy and very slippery! Still I wanted to get a picture at the top (because my dad would be annoyed if I didn't) and I decided to climb it. It was incredibly difficult, but I got to the top and looked around for
the view. I couldn't find the view which is on all of the leaflets (you have to pay for that one) but I did get a lovely view of Somerset. From Glastonbury Tor to the Bristol Channel, and I believe it would be even better if it was a clear day.

At this point I was getting hungry and so made my way back down, which was even more difficult then on the way up. I was over taken by walkers, who were clearly dressed for a walk, unlike me who was in a cardigan, t-shirt, new jeans (which a dog at Rodney Stoke decided to leave his imprint on) and a pair of boots. Anyway, I made it down safely!

I had lunch at Simply Gorgeous a lovely little tea rooms playing 1950's music with 40's and 50's nick nacks dotted about. As I was in Cheddar I had to have a jacket potato with cheddar cheese (it seemed only right). I looked round the village which has some very touristy shops in it and looked to see if I wanted to go to the Cheddar Gorge Explorer thing. I decided not, as it was £18.95 per adult which seemed very steep for me, so I didn't go in the caves or up the tower.

I decided not to walk anymore but instead visit The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company which is the home of the only cheese still made in cheddar. For £1.95 you can see how the cheese is made and watch it being made and then after that you conveniently come out in their cheese shop! I had to buy some of their cheese and splashed out and bought their c
ave mature cheese which tasted amazingly! The best thing about their shop was that you could buy a knife
for 75p in case you 'couldn't wait till you got home'.

The bottom of Cheddar Gorge is very touristy however when you are driving up it, it is peaceful and definitely enchanting.

Anyway after that I went to Axbridge (which I will write in another post as this one is way too long) and then drove back to cheddar as it actually getting sunny! I drove up it again and took pictures but half way up I stopped off for another picture and heard a beautiful noise. Half way up the cliff was a man playing an Alphorn. It was beautiful just hearing this alpine noise echoing through the gorge. A perfect ending to the day.
video

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

A Sleep Mask


The summer sun comes drifting in my east facing bedroom window and I groan. Yes, it is lovely to actually have some summer sun, but not at 7am on my day off. So I decided to do something about it, make a sleep mask. I picked out one of my cute flower fabrics, a lovely embroidery thread and sat at my Singer Sewing Machine stitching away.

So here it is; you need your front piece of fabric, wadding, a backing piece of fabric (I used black piece of silky fabric), elastic fabric and embroidery thread.

Pin the wadding and the front fabric together, then measure out your words. I went for 'sod off'. I thought it would be funny, but I think some of my more strict friends won't like the 'swearing' in this phrase. I used back stitch to do this but there are plenty of other stitches you can do, be as creative as you want!

Now, Pin the wadding/flower layer to the back layer with right-sides facing together. Stitch around the top and bottom of the mask allowing two unstitched areas where you are going to put your elastic. Turn the eye mask inside out and iron.
Now finish off your mask by measuring and cutting your elastic. Turn the sides of the sleep mask in and finish it off by stitching the elastic in place. Do this on each end, and your done!

Monday, 2 July 2012

End of term butterfly cupcakes

Week 28, Bake 28.

I cannot believe that I have worked at my new job for a whole school term now! Admitenly our school terms are about 2 weeks shorter than everyone elses but I can't believe it is actually summer now, mainly because the weather is doing nothing to convince me it is summer. Anyway so as it is the end of term instead of giving sweeties like the other speech therapists I decided to bake cakes. For two reasons, (1) as it would count towards my 52 bakes and (2) despite the fact that I love baking, I don't really like sweets! Shocking isn't it.

When I asked my kids at school if they would like butterfly cakes, the girls looked really excited but the boys shrugged in a 'not bothered' sort of way. Typical boys. Anyway I have to say that my two highlights of this term were seeing the olympic torch and our school street party. Not a highlight was probably when one of my children thought I was 30 (in actual fact im 23!) or when the same child asked why I'm a 'Miss'. Horrible children!

Method:
  • 180g of plain flour
  • 20g of corn flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g of caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinilla extract
  • 120ml of vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 120ml of buttermilk (or 120ml of milk with 1/2 a teaspoon of lemon juice left for 5 minutes)
  • 150g of butter (very soft)
  • Icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vinilla essence
  • a splash of milk
Ingredients:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a seprate bowl break two eggs and whisk them together (if you have an electric mixer use that...I actually don't have one).
  4. Now beat the sugar into the eggs and whisk for another 30 seconds.
  5. Add in the vinilla extract and the oil then beat it in.
  6. Now sift a third of the flour into the mixture and whisk it in. The whisk in a third of the buttermilk and then continue the pattern of mixing the flour and milk in.
  7. Arrange the cupcake cases in your pan and fill them to three quaters full.
  8. Pop in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  9. Once they are ready, leave them in the pan for a minute then transfer them to a cooling rack.
  10. Meanwhile beat the softened butter and slowely add the icing sugar into the butter. To be honnest I cannot really remember how much icing sugar I use, I just do it by taste and sight.
  11. Once the buttercream is quite stiff, add in the vanilla extract and enough milk to make it easy to pipe.
  12. Cut the tops off your cupcakes, making a circle as you go round and then cut the circle into two.
  13. Now pipe the buttercream icing into the exposed cake section and places the spare bits of cake on like wings.
  14. A quick dust with icing sugar and your done!
A simple retro classic.