Sunday, 30 January 2011

My Little Protegé!

My 11 year old brother has recently gotten into baking, yesterday, he baked these little beauties:
i hope this is not just a one off, and that his interest carries on onto something bigger. who knows, maybe in the future you will see some baking collaborations on here!

for now, he will remain my protegé :)

Chunky Chocolate Cookies

the best bit about comfort baking, is that you can while your woes away into thick chocolatey goodness whilst pretending that your sharing your love with the family. when i think of comfort, i think of chocolate, ice cream, a cuppa and a happy movie. this is one step towards that ideal. i got the recipe from the hamlyn 200 cakes and bakes book, my new love. except me, being the ditzy person i am, used plain flour instead of self raising, so rather than being soft and chewy, they're brittle and crunchy. ahh well, not the end of the world i guess.
now, forget all those people who say 'you must use the best chocolate possible' because, in the case of white chocolate, i don't think you'll be getting your money's worth. i used menier white chocolate, simply because it was in the house and my dad was paying for it :) but if i was buying it myself, you can bet your life that i'd be buying milky bars and dairy milk!
the cookie dough was really, really dry, so i added some water, and it seemed to turn out okay. there also seemed to be more chocolate than dough, but to be honest, i'm not complaining! the more chocolate, the better!
the size of the cookies was a bit hit and miss really, i think it depends on whether you want large millie's sized cookies, or small maryland sized cookies. i went for somewhere in the middle, and just used a golf ball sized ball of dough, and then slightly squished down, not flattened, but just a bit flatter, oval sized.
this recipe made 20 odd cookies (after eating some of the dough - i couldn't resist!) and filled up my cookies jar, making it look healthily stocked :)

75g Butter
175g Caster Sugar
1 Egg
150g Self Raising Flour
2 tbsp Cocoa Powder
100g White Chocolate, chopped
100g Dark Chocolate, chopped
splash of warm water
pinch of salt

cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
mix in the egg, flour, cocoa and salt.
mix in the water until all the flour has been combined and the cookie dough seems to be the right texture.
add the chopped chocolate, and use your hands to mix it evenly through the dough.
roll golf ball sized pieces of the dough and place them on a greased baking sheet, spaced apart.
bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until soft but cooked.
transfer the cookies to a cooling rack immediatly or the cooling chocolate will stick to the sheet.
why couldn't life be as simple as a cookie?
eat warm with a steaming mug of tea, watching sunday morning telly.

sarahhh xxx

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Frosted Banana Bars

these bars are sort of pimped-up banana bread, but hey, i'm not complaining! i got a new cookbook - the Hamlyn 200 Cakes and Bakes, i got it for about 50p cause i had a gift card :) only costs £5 anyway, a good investment me thinks. i found this recipe in the tray bakes section, but i think it deserves to be in the cakes section or the little cakes bit! apologies for some of the slightly shoddy photos, my mum was rushing me out of the kitchen so she could make lunch!
one thing i've forgotten from this photo is the baking powder (this has happened twice now, i really need to check things before i photograph them) the recipe calls for two 175g bananas, i ended up using four small bananas, and now i think about it, a banana that weighs 175g would be MASSIVE. make sure you use ripe bananas - not only will they make mushing them up easier, but they'll sweeten the cake as well.
now, the recipe says to add alternate spoons of egg and flour. i would strongly recommend using a mixer/electric whisk for this. i thought 'ohh, i'll get some exercise and do it by hand' - you won't believe how much my arm ached after this. i actually had to sit down and have a cup of tea before i carried on. i must have mixed for about 15 minutes, gradually adding flour and egg, so, when i make this again, i'll use a mixer FOR SURE.
the frosting was A MENACE. i'm not even kidding - one moment it was really dry and powdery, the next minute it was thick and gloopy and bubbling, so i poured it onto the cake, and it immediatly began to set so fast that it was hard to take out of the pan, most of the sprinkles didn't stick and it just caught me out, to say the least.

175g butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
250g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
2 bananas each about 175g, mashed
50g butter (for frosting)
25g cocoa powder
250g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp milk

cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
add alternate spoonfuls of egg and flour, until its all mixed in.
mix in the bananas and baking powder until just combined.
pour into a greased square or rectangle pan and spread evenly.
bake at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes, until a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean.
tip out of the pan and leave to cool on a rack (if it has risen in the middle, i chose to cut it to level it off, so the frosting sits better and its easier to cut up fairly)
melt the butter in a pan and add the cocoa, cook for 1 minutes, stirring continually.
take off the heat, add the icing sugar and milk, return to the heat.
stir until thick and spreadable, adding more milk/icing sugar when needed.
spread over the cake and QUICK run and get the sprinkles and sprinkle them over.
cut into squares/rectangles, i got about 12.
eat with a cup of tea, after a long day of mixing things.

adios amigos,

sarahhh xx

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Pineapple Upside Down cake!

this month, i got to choose TSR's bake - so i chose pineapple upside down cake! i found the recipe at Joy of Baking, so i won't list the whole recipe, just the main stages :) i think i actually love tinned fruit more than fresh fruit - i have a love affair with fruit cocktail (maybe fruit cocktail upside down cake would work?) and tinned peaches, anything like that, which is kinda bad because of the amount of sugars in those, so buy the ones in juice, not syrup!
one thing i am also addicted to are glace cherries. i can literally eat a whole pot of them without anything else, mind you, not those lurid pink ones, the ones that are organic and a dark plummy red - my mouth is watering just thinking of them!
i got to have a little fun with the fruit, arranging them wherever fits, and turned out to be very pretty - see, this is not only delicious, its a work of art as well!
it made quite a light batter - i was a bit surprised because of the vanilla essence, butter and egg yolks i would have thought it would be a pale yellow, but maybe its because you whip upp the egg whites separatly? i dunno, but it tastes good, so i guess it doesn't matter that much.
now, the recipe says to leave it for a while to cool down, and then release it from the tin, but if i were you, i'd release it as soon as you take it out of the oven, cause otherwise the caramel will harden and it will stick to the tin, et voila - a ruined cake. however, if you do leave it for a while, and it does stick, just pop it back in the oven for a few minutes, the caramel will soften again, and you'll be able to take it out perfectly!

eat warm with a big spoonful of hot, thick bird's custard after a giant sunday roast,

au revoir,
sarahh xxx

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Great Sandwich Combinations - Part 1

so, i decided that as i eat sandwiches so often, everytime i have a sandwich that makes me think 'man, that was a goooooood sandwich' , i will write it in a blog post, to spread the sandwich goodness :)

so, for my first sandwich, a classic: cheese.

i grated some cheese, added some chopped spring onions and red peppers, mixed in a spoonful of mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and spread the mixture on some buttered granary bread, with some little gem lettuce on top for good measure.

delicious :D

Monkey Bread

some time ago, the guys at TSR chose monkey bread as our monthly bake, but alas, i was a month too late and had no bundt pan. but now i do! i'm a lifelong fan of cinnamon buns, so this recipe seemed awesome. you can find the whole recipe at Brown Eyed Baker!
this recipe called for 3 types of sugar! i was tempted to only use brown sugar, but decided against this as it might seem too strong. also, in this picture, i've forgotten the yeast, so remember, instant yeast!
 the rising takes a while - put it in a bowl and leave for an hour, it should have doubled in size. be careful, if you put it in a place too cold or draughty it won't rise, and you'll have killed the yeast.

then pat it into an 8x8 inch square, and cut it into 64 squares (i used a pizza cutter and it was really easy) and then roll each square into 64 balls, and dip each ball into melted butter and then brown sugar and cinnamon.
then, let it rise again! all this rising is very tiresome for an impatient sarah - but it should be worth it!
pop it into the oven, and after half an hour, take it out, and it will be bubbling and beautiful, finished off with a bit of icing - delicious. now, i know some bloggers only post their successful work, but i am not one of those bloggers, so here you go, my first attempt kinda flopped, but it still tastes good! better luck next time me thinks.

adios my lovelies,

sarahh xxx

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes!

these little beauties are bitesize, syrupy lemon scented pieces of deliciousness. i woke up this morning with an urge to bake - and as i haven't baked since before christmas, i couldn't resist, so i laid down the revision books and went off to the kitchen. originally, they were going to be lemon butterfly cakes, but there was no icing sugar, so i couldn't make some buttercream, instead, i created a warm sticky syrup to pour onto the warm cupcakes, and tadaaaaaa, yumminess.
i used my trusty weight of an egg sponge recipe, works everytime! just a few tweaks, and you can have a large range of flavours, really, as long as you have a steady base, you make just about any cake. also means that you can make cakes in next to no time - the more you do it, the faster you do it!
this gave me the oppurtunity to try out my new cupcake pans - i used no cupcake liners as we only had about 2 in the house, and plus, i think they looked rather sweet without them anyway. they stuck a tiny bit on the first try, but i think that was more to do with them being brand new, as on my second go they came out perfectly!
i also got to use my new cupcake stand! it holds a rather convenient amount of cakes - 23, which means there is exactly one left just for me to eat :)

2 eggs
that weight in self raising flour
that weight in caster sugar and about a cup more
that weight in butter
the zest of 1 1/2 lemons and some more for decoration
the juice of 1 lemon
cup of water

cream the butter and sugar (minus the cup) until light and fluffy.
add the eggs and mix until just combined.
add the half the lemon juice, the zest of 1 lemon and half the flour, mix until just combined.
add the rest of the flour, and mix until light, fluffy, and can hold a shape.
place teaspoons of the mixture into the cupcake pans.
put in the oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes (i have a dodgy oven so need to turn them halfway through, check that you don't need to do that)

whilst they're in the oven, put the cup of sugar, the rest of the lemon juice, and about a cup of water in a saucepan, warm until the sugar is dissolved and the mixtre is slightly thicker.
when they're still warm, prick the cakes twice with a fork and pour over a teaspoon of the syrup.
scatter over some lemon zest for decoration.
(i just realised that picture really looks photoshopped - i promise, its all real!)
eat warm and sticky with a mug of tea. yums

ciao for nowww,
sarah xxx