7 Oct 2014

Nigella's Victoria Sponge

Nigella victoria spong

Nigella victoria sponge sandwich

It's my little one's Christening in a few weeks and I've been battling with the decision of whether to make the cake for the Christening or not. Part of me cannot be bothered with the added pressure that a cake for a celebration brings and the other side of me feels it will be an absolute sin to have a shop bought sponge cake sitting on my table, to those who know I bake! What will the people say, when my apple-crumble fans or my cheesecake fans ask if I baked the cake and I say, 'no, Marks & Spencer did'. That's not going to help my street cred' now, is it. But on the other hand, I've got so much other stuff going on, do I really have the time? Not really. You see, baking the cake is NOT the problem, it's the decoration! It's all that icing and fondant stuff! I've not done that stuff before! I see loads of people posting their cake decorating tutorials online, making it seem so simple, but I know I will find it a faff and just an extra step before you can eat the darn cake.

So you know what, I'm going to see how it goes. Take it a step at a time and if my practise runs go well, I will go ahead and make the Christening cake! Take baby steps! So, to start off with, let's get practising on the perfect sponge, in my opinion. This one below keeps winning for me. Adapted from How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

10 Sep 2014

Kit : Essential Baking Tools

Essential baking tools, my top 7 kit | www.bakeandthecity.blogspot.co.uk
9" cake tin, hand mixer, grease proof, baking beans, wooden spoon

I have a small number of things that I really rely on nowadays for baking. A few items that find useful and I cannot compromise on. So, I thought I'd put them all together for you, seeing as some of you are still checking my first Kit post and we've come a little way since then.

1. I never realised how valuable my spring-form loose bottom cake tin would be. This particular size (22cm) can be translated over cakes and Cheesecakes alike leaving easy clean edges when presentation is the key.

2. Silicone Pastry/Basting Brush. I'm always using this, it gets a nice thin coat of oil/melted butter/sugar/chocolate/syrup/ you get the idea, over the surface. I find it easy to clean too, compared to a bristle brush version.

3. These are from my hand mixer. I was solely using a trusty wooden spoon for many years before converting to this. Biggest advantage: Time! Oh yes, it saves me loads and prevents a tired wrist from all that manual mixing  ;-)

4. Too many recipes called for greaseproof paper or parchment of some kind and me previously using tin foil as a substitute just wasn't cutting it. I was trying to be frugal by never buying it, but believe me, I'm loving the benefits (peels gracefully off the edges of cakey Brownies, easing Lemon Drizzle cake out of tight loaf tins, etc.) and I keep a roll in the drawer now.

5. Baking Beans. Needed for blind baking tarts/pie bottoms.

6. My Own Spoon. This spoon is a bit like Kryptonite to the other half, with its bright pink handle. He does not use it and that's perfect for me leaving it exclusive for my baking and not his oily culinary concoctions!

7. Now something a little bit unorthodox for a British kitchen – Cup size measures. I got these because they were so cheap to buy and allowed me to quickly use a US or Australian recipe without having to convert the ingredients on my iPhone App to metric scale. There are loads of US recipes I stumble on so it just makes sense to keep some of these handy! 

27 Aug 2014

Perfect Flapjacks /Oat Bars

Flapjacks Granola oat bar www.bakeandthecity.blogspot.co.uk

Here is a recipe I am going to file under 'instant gratification'!! With only five key ingredients this was in my belly after 55 minutes of me mixing the last ingredient. For me this will be a chewy flapjack recipe I will be using again and again. Adding the hazelnuts, ginger and lemon zest really sets this apart from your ordinary flapjack. And it's a great use of porridge oats! I don't know about you, but I don't think I've ever had porridge oats for breakfast. I'm more of a cereal girl, like Cornflakes, Alpen, Shreddies, that type of stuff.

So here we are, Perfect Flapjacks!

13 Aug 2014

Not quite Dehlia's Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon drizzle loaf www.bakeandthecity.blogspot.co.uk

Lemon drizzle loaf www.bakeandthecity.blogspot.co.uk

If you haven't baked Lemon Drizzle cake yet, what are you waiting for? Here is a more rustic version I've created. Or in other words – the messy icing and crumbs everywhere version. It's far from a beautifully crafted Dehlia Smith version (we love you Dehlia), but who cares – as most importantly it tasted so good, so I'm okay with that ...and looks aren't everything!

You will need a loaf tin, sorry. It's so annoying when a recipe calls for equipment you don't have, isn't it? But if you are fortunate to have this piece of kit... continue. The recipe calls for the zest of one lemon. Yes, use all of one lemon, don't worry, it's not too lemony.

12 Aug 2014

Great British Bake Off

I can't say that I watch a lot of telly, I'm usually one that tunes in to watch something specific and occasionally begins some sort of programme fetish. A few months ago it was The Good Wife, now its The Great British Bake Off on the BBC! The fifth Series has started and last week I tuned in to watch the first episode. Not only do I love to see the GBBO contestants' creations, but I get a buzz from learning the inside tips and tricks to get your cake right – "to prevent your cherries from falling to the bottom when making cherry cake, halve them, then dust them in flour before adding them to batter"  – brilliant!

Whilst watching #GBBO last week, I couldn't help notice that one of the contestants in particular is in need of a strong hairband. No names mentioned, but your strands of overhanging hair are distracting me from what you're baking, please tie all of that hair back properly before Mary Berry finds an extra ingredient in your cake!