Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Peaches and Cream Heaven!

Yes here I am again, although this week I have been in my tiny kitchen so I can tell you all about my own baking delights instead of commenting on other peoples! This week I settled down for the afternoon to look at my growing selection of baking books and pulled out one of my favourites, The Hummingbird Bakery! What a surprise, I picked a recipe and spent a nice afternoon making it, and yes it was the scrumptious Peaches and Cream Cupcakes!

Everything started off really well. I had all the ingredients, everything was set up, everything mixed well, but then I had to add the peaches to the cream. I made a rookie mistake and didn't read the recipe before I started and simply presumed that I would be making the peaches into a sort of jam or liquid centre, but no, I just had to place sliced peaches to the base of the cupcake containers and pour the cupcake mixture over the top. This caused a few small problems. First of all the peaches were very slippery in their juices so a few peaches were whizzing around the kitchen, second of all, and most importantly was that the juices from the peaches seeped into the cupcake containers making them very sticky and wouldn't dry.

Then I made the silliest mistake of all... I forgot the icing sugar to make my lovely vanilla frosting. Thankfully my lovely boyfriend stopped off at the shops on his way home from work so I could complete my 26 delicious cupcakes! All in a days work!

Well as the famous saying goes the proof is in the pudding, or is that tasting, either way, I couldn't truly blog about my baking accomplishments without having a bite, and I am extremely pleased with the outcome! The cupcake was moist, the icing was heavenly and the texture and flavour of the peach at the end was amazing! Now I couldn't be greedy and eat all of them, so today I took most of them into work, ( I say most I had to keep some for me and Ash). I am very very happy to say that they went down a storm! I think they went better than my gingerbread biscuits. I got a nice little donation from all those who ate some, so I'm sure it won't be too long before I'm spending another day off in the kitchen! I've already concocted a great Halloween selection in my head, I'm just deciding what I can do for the Children In Need bake off that I'm starting in work! So yes, don't worry there are lots more baking blogs from me still to come!


Presentation..................... 7/10 (They look tasty but I think I would like to decorate them in something to show that they have peaches inside... I will have to get my thinking cap on )

Taste.................................9/10 (Scrummy, but I would like to try it with a peach jam)

Value for Money..............8/10 (I've got no real complaints here!)

Would I make it again....... Yes but I think it will be awhile as I've got lots of other fun things to make!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A Spot Of Afternoon Tea

Ahh, sat here with a nice big cup of steaming hot chocolate is the best way to wrap up a lovely baking filled afternoon, spent with my equally lovely friend Hannah Pollard! Both Hannah and I are avid fans of baking and so we had a great afternoon catching up and scouring Bath for all the best baking equipment in all the best baking or kitchen shops. Heaven!

Before we went on our baking crawl of Bath, we stopped off at amazing and very cute cafe, or what I thought was a cafe. I had seen it a few weeks ago when I was looking for Sally Lunns, and decided I would come back when I had the money. It turns out it was not only reasonably priced and incredibly cute, but it wasn't just a simple cafe it was The Bath Bun Tea Shop, in Abbey Green. (For all the students out there that's where the fancy dress shop is, for all the historians its behind the Roman Baths in the square with the hanging tree...)

If you couldn't already tell I really loved this place, with it's great variety of teas, of which I have only tried one but will make it my mission to try them all, but best of all it's afternoon tea which both Hannah and I had was fabulous. Like most afternoon tea's you find in tea shops up and down the country, we were provided with a pot of tea, a fruit scone, a little pot of jam and best of all yummy clotted cream! Not only was this little selection delicious but the scones came out warm from the oven which made my first experience a great one! We were only in there about an hour, chatting away, but it is clear this little tea shop is no secret as there was a constant stream of customers filling up the table and chairs, or simply coming in to buy the historic Bath Bun, created by Dr Oliver, who was most famous for his healthier biscuits. You can read up on this interesting history on their website.

I really would recommend this tea shop to both locals and tourists wanting either a quiet break from the bustle of the town or for the Bath tea shop experience. Although Sally Lunns tea shop is equally as nice, having been there before, it is also a rather popular tourist attraction and can get very busy and a bit of a queue to get a table, so if you want the taste and the friendly atmosphere go to the Bath Bun Tea Shop. They are just round the corner and little lighter on pocket without compromising on the authentic Bath Bun! I have a feeling his will become a regular of mine now...

As you can guess Hannah and I were in very jolly spirits after this and went on our merry way to several baking and kitchen shops eyeing up all the fun Christmas treats and equipment, as well as all the fun aprons, cooking books, tins, piping equipment, bowls etc... Hannah left with a lovely set of Christmas star biscuit cutters and I went off with a gingerbread man and tiny star cutter. If you've read my other posts you'll understand why the gingerbread man cutter was a definite buy, the tiny star cutter was for some festive peppermint creams. You'll know when I've made them!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

My Not So Manly Gingerbread Men

Sorry for the wait, but here I am again! I really have got the baking bug, I can't stop! Every day I have off work I'm itching to get into the kitchen and make something. In fact I'm itching to get into the kitchen when I'm in work! With my lack of baking equipment I'm a bit restricted to making either cupcakes, cookies or biscuits so this week I have made gingerbread biscuits. I say they aren't so manly as they didn't end up being cut with a gingerbread man cutter, I couldn't find one in the shops close to me so I just used a normal pastry cutter! But that didn't make a difference, they were still fun to make and even better to eat!

I ended up making them even less manly by putting lots of girly patterns and designs on them with coloured icing! I've been practing my icing skills as I want to make some fun ones for Halloween, so I made a mixture of hearts and flowers, and some vampires and spiders as well!

I decided to use my brand new biscuit tin for the first time and take a selection of my lovely gingerbread biscuits into work. I was a little worried as I didn't think the icing was very good, and I did accidentally use light brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar, but they seem to have been a success! All of them were gone by my lunch break and I even made five pounds in nice donations which I have put into my baking fund jar.


Presentation............... 5/10 (I'm being a bit harsh because this was only my first attempt and I can definitely do better )

Taste...........................8/10 (I think they might have been better if I had used the right sugar, although the boyfriend said they should be a 9)

Value For Money.........10/10 (Because of the lovely change that my workmates gave me meant that I can make them all over again!

Would I make them again... 100% yes!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Cupcakes vs Cookies

Recently I've been a bit naughty and spoilt myself with both cupcakes and cookies. By making this post it makes me feel a little less guilty as I am now calling it research, ha!

My first treat was a cupcake (or two) from Waitrose. It was a cupcake filled with a raspberry compote topped with whipped cream and decorated with pink nibbed sugar. About two months ago I bought a cupcake from Waitrose which was very similar to this one, except that the raspberry flavouring was in the icing and not inside the cupcake. However, I did not like it, the icing was too dry and it was all too sickly, I think that was perhaps because the cupcake was chocolate with a chocolate flake through the centre. I wasn't impressed. It surprises me that I therefore went for another one, but I was nicely surprised! The cupcake was light and moist and the raspberry compote was lovely and sweet, but not too sickly. The only point I am undecided on is the whipped cream instead of icing. I did like the whipped cream, especially with the little crunch of the pink nibbed sugar, but without icing it didn't feel like a cupcake to me. That didn't stop me eating it, or the one I saved for my boyfriend...

Now for the cookie. Well this was a real treat as a friend in work came in with a nice big box of Ben's Cookies, a little cookie shop tucked away in the Corridor in Bath. This cookie was absolutely delicious, it was chocolate orange and had a huge chuck of chocolate right in the middle! Cookies used to be a regular choice of pudding in my little flat as my boyfriend loves them, but we both agreed to cut back on them (and Dominoes) but I couldn't really say no to a Ben's Cookie! It was so nice and soft, you could tell it had been made that day, I just wish it had been warm that is my only little complaint! I have only had one other Ben's Cookie before, it was a milk chocolate one and was just as nice. What I especially like is that they price the cookies on weight, so if you pick a smaller one not only is it better for your waistline but a tiny bit better for your pocket!
Well, a little...


Waitrose Cupcake
Presentation........... 6/10 (it was a bit smashed in the box and the whipped cream felt lazy)
Taste...................... 8/10 (it was lovely and light, I would like to try it with vanilla icing)
Value for money.... 9/10 (it was in the reduced section)

Would I buy them again..... Yes, but maybe only one this time

Ben's Cookie
Presentation............9/10 (the big chunk of chocolate got an extra point)
Taste.......................9.5/10 (only because I'm scared to give anything a perfect 10)
Value for money....9.5/10 (because although it would have been priced on weight, it was also free)

Would I buy them again.....Yes, definitely.


Between Ben's Cookies and Waitrose Cupcakes, without a shadow of a doubt, Ben's Cookies triumphed! Although the cookies won on this account, I think I will always prefer a cupcake, especially if I have made it myself. They are much prettier, come in lots of different flavours and textures and can be so creative. I love setting aside an afternoon and making a lovely section of cupcakes, they are definitely more of a delicacy. We can go through a bag of cookies in this flat in a matter or days without a thought, but if I make a selection of cupcakes they tend to last a bit longer and I think appreciated more as you can see the effort that has gone into them. Plus they are so much more fun to eat!

Friday, 7 October 2011

The Great British Bake Off Masterclass

Hi all, this is a nice little post on last night's Great British Bake Off Masterclass programme on BBC2! Which if you couldn't already guess by my other posts I loved it! It was amazing to actually sit down and watch both Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood show you exactly how it's done. I'm torn between whether I prefer this to actual show because you see the baking being done at every stage, with perfect little tips from Mary and Paul.

I think the other reason I liked this series is because you could see exactly how the tarts or bread where actually meant to turn out, but you also saw how much hard work it took, did you see how quick Paul was kneading that focaccia bread? You wouldn't need to go the gym if you did that every day, although with the amount of oil that the bread needs maybe it was a worthy exercise!

The final thing that cheered me up was the fact that my very good friend Joey knew I was watching the programme and sent me a link which all of you Great British Bake Off lovers will adore!!! It is a 27 page programme with all the recipes from the final episode, it's great!! It's a little snippet of what the main baking book is, so it's perfect if you're still deciding to buy it or not. Trust me, you will want it! My friend got it off either Jo or Holly's (two of the finalists) twitter page and so I have no problems sharing this little piece of joy with you!

Here's the link just for you! The Great British Bake Off - How To Bake


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

And The Winner Is...

Photo found on The Guardian website

Last night was the final of The Great British Bake Off. It was a brilliant episode to wrap it all up, but I personally was a little disappointed with the result. The winner turned out to be Jo. I'm a bit gutted because I was really rooting for Holly. I thought that Jo's Millefeulles were really messy compared to Holly and Mary-Ann's although I can't say I wouldn't have eaten one if had the chance! I shouldn't be too harsh on Jo as her selection for the street party was probably my favourite of the three, but I thought Holly was so much more talented and by far the most imaginative, did you see her umbrella as a cake display?!

What I can say on the final is that I felt so bad for Mary-Ann, throughout the whole competition she pushed the boat with some of her ideas, but they all fell through last night and part of me really wanted her to succeed. What I was glad to see was what all the contestants are doing now and I must admit I had a little giggle at a few, but i was so happy to see that Jo was possibly setting up her own Patisserie! What I loved more was that Holly might be in the process of getting a book made, I will definitely be keeping a beady eye out in work for that one!

I've just got one problem, what am I going to watch on a Tuesday night now?

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Getting That Autumnal Feeling

Although only two days ago we faced the hottest October on record, a sweltering 27 degrees, today has been more like the October days that I know and love. A little cooler, a little light rain and the nights drawing in has made me want to cook some warming Autumn treats! The first meal I was inspired to make was a classic dish of sausage and mash. It's not anything particularly difficult but I love the buttery mash and the scrumptious lapping of onion gravy... it's making my mouth water all over again!

What I am more impressed with is my attempt to make apple and cinnamon oat cookies. They are golden as the falling leaves outside, they are rustic looking yet moist inside, and what I love most is the amazing smell! I must admit my first batch didn't come out too well, in fact they were burnt to a cinder as I got distracted by the final of The Great British Bake Off, but my second batch are perfect. I can't wait to take a few into work and see what everyone thinks!

My boyfriend just kindly pointed out that I can't really write this blog until I've actually tasted one, ( I was letting them cool), so I am pleased to say, no, ecstatic to say that they are amazing and I'm so proud! Being an oaty cookie I didn't think he would like them much but he was thoroughly impressed... I think these may become a regular on my days off!

If you want to make this recipe for yourself, I found it in Step-By-Step Baking by D.K. on page 190. It's a heavy whopper of a cook book, but I got attracted to the shiny pink cupcake cover, and I am very glad I did.

My Review

Presentation............. 7/10 (I like the rustic look, but next time I might flatten them a little first)
Taste........................ 9/10 (could do with a little more cinnamon, but that's just me)
Value For Money...... 8/10 (it would have been better if id bought the right oats)

Would I make them again...... YES!

The Great British Bake Off Final

Tonight on BBC1 at 8 o'clock is the final of The Great British Bake Off and I can't wait! I missed the series before, but I've been hooked on every episode of this one! I pass by the book everyday at work and I am so tempted to buy it knowing that some of the delicious recipes from the show will be in it... I will just have to wait until payday... or my birthday!

Anyway, the point of this post is about how torn I am about who should win! I think deep down Holly Bell has been my favourite since day one. She did have some competition from Ben but he unfortunately left earlier on. I love Holly's precision and some of her designs have been so creative, I especially loved the episode where she hid a little gingerbread house inside the croque en bouche! I wish I had the skill to be able to make a croque en bouche, let alone a brilliant surprise inside! If you like Holly's recipes like I have then you can follow her via her own website, Recipes from a Normal Mum

However, I can't be too biased I do have to give credit to the two other finalists, Jo and Mary-Ann. I personally love how bubbly Jo is and some of her recipes have looked scrumptious, but for me I personally think that she has had a few too many failures to be able to win. I don't think it would be fair to someone like Holly who has been consistently great throughout the whole series. On the other hand, the little historian in me is rooting for Mary-Ann because you can tell she really has done her research on historical baking and cooking. Although Mary-Ann has also had a few slip ups, it's her twist on old classics that makes me think she might possibly win or at least come second, but I suppose I shall just have to wait and see.

What I am most excited for is the street party! The first reason I'm looking forward to the street party is because I love how quintessentially British it is, it reminds me of the Royal Wedding which happened earlier this year. I can't wait to see all the pretty little cakes they will make, but the main reason I'm looking forward to this last episode is watching the three finalists struggle to make hundreds and hundreds of those scrumptious treats! Not because I'm evil, but out of pure envy, because I doubt I could make so many cakes, partly because I don't have the skill yet, but I have the tiniest kitchen. I'm sure you'll get to see in a post later on!

If you're a big fan like me check out the unofficial website for the show, The Great British Bake Off and make up your mind on who you would like to win, plus lots of the recipes from the show are on their too! Enjoy!