Sunday, 4 March 2012

Fruit Bread :)

the recipe is actually for raisin bread but i turned it into fruit bread with a bag of mixed dried fruit because it was all we had, but i think it tastes extra nice with all the variety - my brother even said it tastes like english pannetone, high praise indeed! the recipe comes from Hugh's River Cottage Family Cookbook, which i was given when i was a wee girl and have loved ever since!

when looking at this delightful photo of ingredients, use your imagination and pretend there's a jar of fast action yeast on the right hand side, silly me forgot to get it out for the photo (must be old age :P )
i like to this this bread is much richer and dessert-ier with the inclusion of the milk and the egg, it sort of enriches it.

i used some of my dad's homemade marmalade :) he makes about 10 or so jars every year, from scratch, gives a couple away and eats the rest throughout the year - he's the only one in the family who will eat it on toast, so he eats A LOT of marmalade! when i make this again i think i'll make the effort and try to cut up the orange rind segments because i think it would be nicer to have them scattered throughout the loaf rather than whacking great chunks of rind here and there.

kneading dough is very soothing, it allows you to keep your hands busy whilst leaving your mind to mull over lots of different things - plus it makes you feel less guilty when you eat the finished product, think of all that exercise you've just done! make a loaf of some sort every week and you'll have guns of steel :D

leaving dough to rise is one of my least favourite activities when baking - i always mean to get some homework done, or to start drafting the blogpost, but my mind is always drifting back to the dough in the other room, whether its doubled in size yet, or if i put enough yeast in, so i'm never as productive as i'd like to be :)
the finished loaf will be slightly browner than you might be expecting on the top, but to be honest, you start off at such a high temperature, its not unusual, plus, after you coat it in that gloriously sticky, shiny glaze which is just a simple sugar syrup, you won't even notice it! don't worry if it cracks either, it tastes exactly the same either way.

500g Strong White Bread Flour
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Fast Action Yeast
150g Raisins or Mixed Dried Fruit
125ml Milk
125ml Warm Water
1 Egg
2 tbsp Orange Marmalade
1 tbsp Sugar
2 tbsp Water

Put the flour, yeast, salt and fruit in a large bowl.
Mix the water, milk and egg in a jug, pour into the flour mixture and add the marmalade.
Stir with a spoon until its too difficult to stir, and tip out onto a floured surface.
Knead for 10-15 minutes, adding more flour if its really sticky, until its smooth and elastic, and bounces back when you poke a finger into it.
Leave the dough to double in size covered for 2 hours in a warm, dry place.
Punch the air out of the dough and knead lightly for a couple of seconds.
Shape into a tight sausage shape, and place in a greased loaf tin.
Leave to rise again for 20-25 minutes.
Place in a preheated oven at 220 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn down to 190 degrees for 15-25 minutes.
Take out when smelling lovely and giving a hollow sound when you tap it on the bottom.
Dissolve the sugar in the water over a gentle heat, and then bubble away for a minute or two.
Brush over the warm loaf.

Enjoy slightly warm and sticky with salted butter and a hot cup of your favourite tea! yumsss

Sarahhh xxx

Thursday, 23 February 2012

New Year, New Me?

i've given up on explaining my absences, you've heard it all before :) so ive decided this time i'm not gonna make any promises of updating my blog regularly or anything like that, because i cant keep to that, i'll be disappointed in myself and you'll go without again! so im just going to update when i can, if i can, and if every now and then i have to update with a chatty post, i hope you guys dont mind :)

so i thought i'd kick this off with really introducing myself. i love getting to know bloggers and vloggers, having glimpses into their lifestyles and what they do aside from baking.

my name is sarah, im 18 years old and i live in england! i currently study a levels at college in the subjects chemistry, biology and psychology (yeah, you guessed it, im a science nerd!) whilst desperately trying to keep up with a social life and carry on with my baking, sewing and knitting. i am hoping for a career in medicine, and so whenever it comes to a choice between hobbies and studies, studies always have to take priority. im majorly interested in genetics and the big bang theory, and love the colours royal purple, teal and mustard yellow :)

any other questions, or perhaps you want to introduce yourself, please comment below!

so again, i'm not promising anything, but i really hope i can update semi-regularly for the rest of the year :)

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Happy Birthday Mr Butcher!

a loooooong time ago my local butcher held a cake competition for his birthday, so naturally, i gave it my best shot!

i actually came out with 2nd place and a £5 prize, which was really great because it was only the second time i've baked for people who aren't my family or friends, and normally i'm wierdly self concious about my baking, it's like - they judge my cake, they judge me! anyways, here are some lovely photos of the cake itself (sorry theyre so bad, they were taken very late at night!)
so, it was a triple layer devil's food cake, sandwiched with vanilla buttercream and covered in white fondant (sadly the fondant was bought, not home made, but we can't ask for everything!) the writing is just pink water icing piped using the smallest nozzle i could find.
around the edges i modelled fondant sausages, bacon and drumsticks, in keeping with the butcher theme!
i created a sweet little fondant butcher complete with apron and stuck him on top with a bit of raw spaghetti to hold him in place

hopefully this will be the first in a number of steps to increase my confidence in my baking!

au revoir,
sarahhhhhh xxxxx

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

August 2011 Favourites

i'm so sorry for being so absent lately! but, as i promised, is my monthly favourites from the baking blogging world :)

1. my favourite bake: (as i haven't posted any this month, i'll just choose one from my whole blog) Bonfire Cupcakes!
these bring with them hope of warm cosy evenings by the fireplace in my front room, with a cuppa watching a good film (x-men, superman, batman, spiderman, captain america - i looove superheros) and they taste awesome too!

2. my favourite sweet bake from another blog: Red Velvet Cheesecake! from 17 and Baking
i love 17 and baking, perhaps because i am also 17 and baking! (eventhough she is no longer 17 :P) and i also love red velvet and cheesecake. so putting them together equals the awesomest (yes, that is a word) dessert i have ever seen!

3. my favourite savoury cake from another blog: Jalapeno Popper Dip! from Brown Eyed Baker
i don't know whether this really counts as a bake - but to be honest, i don't care! i love love love spice, and this dip looks epic! i just need an occasion to make it, or i'll end up just making it for myself and greedily eating the whole thing in one go...

4. my favourite topping/decorating technique: Tesco's Fondant Icing!
normally i really detest ready made icing, it doesn't taste very good and you never really know what went into it. however this month i got into a bit of a sticky situation and had to rely on a couple packs of this stuff, and guess what? i don't regret it! it was lovely and soft, and didn't taste too bad!

5. my random favourite: iced lattes!
i don't know why i hadn't tried them sooner! i have become completely addicted to these - whether bought from costa coffee or made by myself at home, i've been drinking these till the cows come home!!

well, thats another month passed, hasn't time flyed??

sarahhhh xxx

Sunday, 21 August 2011

a not-so relaxing summer break :)

i'm pretty sure you guys are wondering where i've been all summer long, seeing as i'm not going to school :)

well, to tell you the truth, i'm not on holiday or at the beach or out with my friends, i'm working 9-5!!!

so mon-fri there's not much time to bake, plus, i've been preparing for my UKCAT test (medical school entrance test) for the last month so all my free time left is spent on that!

luckily, or not so luckily depending on how you see it, i have my test tomorrow morning, so after that you can expect some more bakes :D

thanks for sticking with me!

and just while i'm here, i'll share with you a song that i can't stop playing, it gets me so upbeat!

Foster the People - Houdini

seriously, listen to it, it'll just make you want to smile and dance! perfect for those times when you feel down trodden and limp :P

sarahhhh xxxxx

Saturday, 30 July 2011

July 2011 Favourites

so, i've decided that at the end of every month i'll do a round up of some of my favourites of the month:

1. my favourite bake (that i've done)
2. my favourite sweet bake from another blog
3. my favourite savoury bake from another blog
4. my favourite topping/decorating technique
5. my random favourite

so, i guess that's pretty much self explanatory, so let's kick off my July favs :D

1. my favourite bake: Soda Bread!
i loved this bake simply because of how quick and easy it was, and how delicious the results were!

2. my favourite sweet bake from another blog: Custard Creams! from The Boy Who Bakes
i chose these because i love love love custard creams (maybe more than bourbons, if i dare say so!) and i once made them myself, but lost the recipe, so i'm incredibly excited to find a new custard cream recipe!! plus, these are so pretty and dainty, they'd look adorable with a little china tea set :D

3. my favourite savoury bake from another blog: Everything Bagels! from Brown Eyed Baker

bagels are one of my favourite types of bread which i use to make my packed lunch during the week, so naturally, i was ever so happy to find a bagel recipe that looked and sounded scrummyy!!

4. my favourite topping/decorating technique: Moons and Stars Sprinkles!
i bought these adorable sprinkles at a specialist sugarcraft store in a hidden village in deepest darkest kent, and i've never seen anything like them! theyre so cute, they'd look good on any baked treat!

5. my random favourite: Guacamole!
now that it's bright and summery, i love this dip with wedges or nachos, with salsa and soured cream, and perhaps a little extra hot sauce! i'm a tad contraversial in the family in that i love tomatoes and red onions in my guacamole, but the rest of them don't! if you'd like me to, i can post a recipe for my favourite dip of all time, just pop a comment and i'll see what i can do :D

i can't believe over half of this year has already gone! it'll be christmas soon, not that i'm complaining :)

sarahhh xxxx

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Soda Bread

i think many people refrain from making bread because they think its too difficult, its too time consuming or its vastly more expensive than shop bought bread. well, i'm here to prove you wrong. bread can be just as fun to make as a cupcake, depending on what ingredients you use it isn't all that expensive, and if you're really picky, you can add all kinds of things to a basic recipe.

my mum is usually the bread maker in the house - not that i'm complaining, she makes a damn good loaf! our family eats a lot of bread as toast in the morning and because all of us have packed lunches for work/school, so on an average week, my mum will make 4 loaves of bread, and we'll buy in a loaf of sliced bread too. but my poor mum has hurt her hand, so she can't knead the bread :( we haven't had fresh baked bread for a while now, so i thought, while i'm in the kitchen, i might as well rustle up a loaf of soda bread.

this recipe comes from the River Cottage Family Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Fizz Carr, which i got years back as i christmas present, and i treasure it dearly - it has some amazing recipes.

soda bread is probably the most simple thing you can bake, really, simpler than a muffin, cookie or cupcake! you really just bung everything together, knead it for a minute or so, plop it onto a baking sheet and bake, no time needed to let it rise, as there is no yeast.
buttermilk is normally used in soda bread, but live yoghurt is just as good, if not better! plus, it's cheaper than buttermilk, and more readily available.
bung everything in, and start mixing it together with a wooden spoon - but once you get to this stage, its really important you get your (clean) hands in, and give it a good knead, like any bread. it shouldn't be a sticky dough, just firm and smooth - if it is sticky, add some more flour.
the tighter you form the dough ball, the less likely it will be to spread out, so you'll end up with a more vertical, useful loaf. give it a good, deep cross with a sharp knife - that will give it chance to rise without forming great big caverns on the sides.
see, it may not be perfectly rectangle, or the most aesthetically pleasing loaf of bread, but it is yours, its delicious and you know exactly what went into this loaf.

plus, i had a loaf of bread within an hour of when i thought of making one - perfect timing!

250g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp soft brown sugar
225 ml buttermilk/live yoghurt

dump everything in a big bowl, and give it a good mix with a wooden spoon
get your hands in there - bring it together, adding some more flour if it is too sticky
knead it around the bowl for a minute or so, until smooth but not tough
stick in the oven at 230 degrees for 12 minutes, then turn it down to 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes
it will be done when you tap it on the bottom, and it sounds hollow.

eat warm from the oven, slathered with butter and jam. congratulate yourself for making a loaf of pure brilliance. delicious.

sarahhh xxx