7 Apr 2015

Time for Cake and Online Supplies

cake decorating store | www.cakedecoratingstore.co.uk

Since becoming a new mum, a new 'working’ mum I must add, time has become a big topic. I have to carefully plan my day to fit in the most important of tasks as inevitably, there will be some things that just won’t get done. I find myself writing lists in order to tick off what needs doing throughout the day or to simply remember what needs doing for the day amongst the many other things going round in my head. I still find time to bake a cake though! (ohh yes, there’s always time for that). But every now and then I delegate some shopping chores to our friend – the internet – ordering and getting stuff delivered is a great help. I haven’t quite moved to the realms of ordering groceries online though, but what I do order, is my baking stuff.

The lovely people at www.cakedecoratingstore.co.uk sent me this Cake Tester and a Decorating Turntable. I do wish I had gotten the turntable sooner (especially when baking this), its table rotates very smoothly and I can reach all sides of a cake with minimal effort. It’s also lightweight but sturdy at the same time, making it ideal for my more heavier cakes. The Cake Tester has quite a thin prong and could probably do with being a bit thicker in width to get a better indication of cake consistency, but its super-slim nature would make it ideal for testing delicate cupcakes. I look forward to using the turntable table again especially for fondant icing jobs; and glad to have discovered www.cakedecoratingstore.co.uk for future bakeware supplies. More items for the kit.

15 Mar 2015

Tip 1

That curdling effect you sometimes get when adding eggs to a butter-sugar mixture, won't effect the taste of your cake, but to avoid it, next time add your eggs in batches with a spoonful of flour with each addition!

3 Feb 2015

Almond Shortbread

Almond shortbread

The old shortbread recipe. But this time it's with a twist and one now that I've discovered, will not have me rushing back to the plain run-of-the-mill type. Sorry. These shortbread would be dreamy with a nice cup of tea, ice cream, or a cup of cold milk.

Almond Shortbread
170g butter
100g golden caster sugar 
110g ground almonds 
200g plain flour 
1 tsp finely grated lime zest 

For the sticky caramel gloss (optional)
55g unsalted butter
110g brown sugar
50g honey
handful of whole pecans or whole blanched almonds

Set the oven at 160°C/320°F.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir the ground almonds, flour and zest into the mixture. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Knead the mixture a little to mix it fully until it resembles more of a dough.

Loosely wrap the dough in enough cling-film and gently roll it into an even thick log shape. Refrigerate for around 30 minutes. Remove the dough from the fridge and with a sharp knife slice into biscuits about 5mm/ ¼" thick. Place them on a non-stick baking sheet.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until the biscuits are barely coloured. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

For the caramel gloss (completely optional)
Keep a cooling rack near, you will need it. Combine the butter, brown sugar and honey in a saucepan and stir over medium heat. Simmer the mixture for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and leave to cool no longer than 3 minutes. Carefully dip the shortbread into the warm mixture until halfway. Place on the cooling rack and add a pecan or almond to decorate before mixture hardens. Work quickly repeating until all the shortbread has been used. Leave to cool on the rack for at least an hour, momentarily rotating each shortbread to avoid sticking, until the caramel has hardened.

Adapted from Nigel Slater's almond shortbreads

30 Dec 2014

Top 5 Recipes of 2014

Top 5 Recipes of 2014

I'm wishing you all – especially the 44,000 of you that will click on Lemon Drizzle cake next year
A Happy New Year! What makes the Lemon cake so special for you? Yes it's delicious and delivers results but I seem to get the most ever clicks on that recipe over everything else? You lot need to look at something else. Here: take a look at these: My year's best bites!

1) I found the holy grail of Brownies: These will be my signature Brownies – the slight crust on the outside and soft and chocolate-y on the inside!

2) I liked this recipe as it was simple to do but elegant at the same time. Great for entertaining without the fuss: Thin Pear Tart

3) Here's one I made (10 times) earlier. This recipe was on repeat for about a month. I did like mine with Hazlenuts: Perfect Flapjacks

4) And I found a plain sponge that 'just works': Nigella's Victoria Sponge

5) Last but not least, I need to hurry up and post these: Pecan Pie Bars. Coming soon, I promise!

20 Dec 2014

3 Quick Ways to Soften Butter

quick ways soften butter

So. You're in the mood for baking and you're mind is on cake. It's like your lucky day as all the right ingredients are ready and waiting! You get your measuring scales ready and start on your first ingredient only to read: "160g butter, softened"Darn, you only just removed that butter from the fridge, so it's stone cold!

Believe me, I've been there. Sometimes, I just want to bake something spontaneously and waiting for butter to soften at room temperature is not on my mind. So, it's only fair I share a few ways I go to get that butter the right temperature.

  1. Dice the butter into squares and put into a bowl of warm water. Carefully remove the butter after ten minutes, by which time it should be soft. This is my favourite method as it gets good results all the time. 

  2. Use a rolling pin and bash the butter on a hard surface like a chopping board until flat and squidgy.

  3. If you trust your microwave, evenly dice your butter then slowly heat in the microwave on a 'warm' or 'defrost' setting for a few seconds, but do keep an eye on it.

Ultimately, if you can reach the gold standard of forward thinking and remove your butter from the fridge hours before, then do so and happy days to you! I always find a post-it note seen early in the morning is a great reminder!