Apple and blueberry muffins

Maybe it’s because The Great British Bake off is back on the TV or maybe because I’m getting my baking mojo back, whatever the reason I am rediscovering why I enjoyed baking. I am not making as detailed cakes as I once used but opting for quick bakes that can easily fit into my daily routine and still taste good; muffins, biscuits even bread that doesn’t take a great length of time. You’ll have noticed that I occasionally dabble in eggless baking, the texture and taste is different to that of an egg based cake but only those who are cake connoisseurs or are told about the lack of egg would most likely notice the difference. 

Tuesday night I had Bake Off on in the background but not sure if other avid fans of this television show feel the same but this series isn’t holding my interest. I was on in the background while I busied myself experimenting with a new recipe I had found for blueberry and apple muffins through Google from netmums.comApple Blueberry muffin batter_WebThe mixture looked ok, I don’t think I over mixed the batter and it definitely looked lumpy as the recipe said it should. Where I fell down was the timing, every oven is different but I think I just have a special one that either wants to cook food too quickly or wants to take its time, in this case it was the latter. The recipe said the muffins should take about 10-12 minutes to cook on gas mark 6, mine took about 16-18 minutes. I was concerned about overbaking them as they started to brown but when poked with a skewer there was still a bit of wet mixture attached.

Apple blueberry muffin_WebThe end result was better than I expected, I did think they felt a bit soft but were cooked but that can happen with additional liquid from fruit but they were holding their shape and not falling apart when they were removed from their cupcake cases. As always I have willing guinea pigs who give honest reviews, my work colleagues;

  • the blueberries gave a jammy texture
  • it was light with a nice texture
  • they were a bit soggy probably caused by the apple but tasted nice!  

Here is the Netmums recipe if you want to try it out.

Ingredients

  • 256g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 220g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 apple (large)
  • 150g raspberries
  • 2 eggs
  • 120ml milk
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200’C/400’F/Gas mark 6
  • Line a muffin tin with muffin cases
  • In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients together
  • Beat the milk and egg together lightly, add the melted butter and then add the apples and raspberries
  • Mix gently into the dried ingredients until just combined (the mixture will look lumpy, but that’s okay!)
  • Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden, well risen and firm to touch
  • Remove from the oven and cool in the tray for 5 minutes, then remove from the tray and leave to thoroughly cool on a wire rack

 

Latest attempt at eggless baking

The Great British Bakeoff is back on our screens and on the new TV channel, Channel 4 with the exception of old blue eyes; Paul Hollywood, new presenters. I did find that the last years series on BBC One wasn’t has good as the previous series so thought the revamp and the current changes would be a good move, breath some new life into the programme. I was wrong. Presenter Noel Fielding has a witty personality which I just feel is being suppressed, it’s like he is on his best behaviour not to offend anyone, and I’m waiting for him to break free. It could just be me and maybe I’m being a little unreasonable but I don’t think the talent is has high as some of the bakers from past series, let’s face it no one has been able to top lion bread. There are a few bakers that have won me over, Yana, Julia and Liam. He was robbed of star baker, think Facepalmsomeone needs to check that it is only tea in Pru and Paul’s mugs when they have to such an important decision. The introduction of Caramel week was interesting, though I think I will stick to buying stroopwafels, not a single baker was able to get the caramel right in the technical challenge, what was that all about?

I haven’t tried any of the bakes from the show but have been having my own little challenges. I back on the eggless baking trying to find a perfect go to eggless cake recipe. I personally don’t have any concerns baking with eggs but over the years I have come across people for whatever reason don’t eat eggs be it an allergy, religious or vegan or simply don’t like to eat eggs.

I am getting closer to reaching my goal with my recent attempt, think I may have found the ideal recipe from Carve your Craving. The mixture makes your own buttermilk by adding vinegar to milk and letting it curdle, I just bought buttermilk. I thought my mixture looked a bit too dry in the notes it says to add water but I didn’t read this part and added a few extra table spoons of buttermilk and chocolate chips. You can use an electric mixer but a trusty old hand whisk did the job.

In the eyes of my guinea pigs these cakes were success; the texture was that of an egg based cake and got thumbs up on the taste, I was a bit concerned they may not be sweet enough but I was Eggless Cupcakes Cooked Webwrong. I was just a bit disappointed with how the top of the cakes looked, I thought maybe I had overbaked them but the actual cake didn’t taste dry. With some icing on top no one who even see what the top of the cakes looked like!

One cake taste tester did say they had turned out nice but they did prefer the egg based muffin. I do think the egg based equivalent was that tad bit fluffier but that could also be down to over mixing the batter slightly. I am my own worst critic. I’ve added the recipe below but do visit Carve your Craving website for the original recipe as there are lots of accompanying pictures and helpful tips, plus lots of other recipes.

Ingredients
  • All purpose flour – 1 ½ cups / 215 grams
  • Granulated Sugar – 1 cup / 214 grams
  • Cocoa powder – ½ cup / 43 grams
  • Baking soda – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Milk – 1 cup / 240 ml
  • Oil – ½ cup / 118 ml
  • Pure Vanilla Extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Vinegar – 2 teaspoon
  • Milk plus vinegar is nothing but buttermilk:) so if u don’t have vinegar use sour buttermilk ( chaas) 1 cup by replacing milk and vinegar
Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degree F or 180 degree C.
  • Line the cupcake tray with cupcake liners
  • Sieve and Mix all dry ingredients (All purpose flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt) in a bowl. Always sieve from a height for tender crumb outcome
  • Now time for liquids
  • Add vinegar to milk and let it stand for a minute .. Stir in oil
  • Use liquid measuring cup to measure the liquids for best results smile emoticon
  • Mix liquid in the dry ingredients – whip with a electric whipper or by a spatula or hand whip only till the batter is smooth and no lumps – don’t over beat – very important
  • Mine is always ready within 30-40 secs.
  • And bake in pre-heated oven for about 18-20 minutes or till toothpick inserted in center of cupcake will come out with few dry crumbs .. Don’t over bake
  • Remove it from oven and after 5 minutes remove cupcakes on wire rack and let them cool completely before frosting.
  • Please follow the given tips – for the best tender moist cupcakes

 

Notes
I recommend adding 1 tsp instant coffee powder to the batter.. It enhances the flavor of chocolate… Do add if not making for kids
Milk plus vinegar is nothing but buttermilk:) so if u don’t have vinegar use sour buttermilk ( chaas) 1 cup buttermilk in place of milk
As there may be difference in flour quality – if you think the batter is too thick add no more than 3 tbsp water – 1 tbsp at a time
use whipping attachment not beaters
Can be stored at room temperature unfrosted upto 3 days in a air tight container
1 week in the fridge
3 months in the freezer

 

 

Healthy = Grumpy

It’s amazing how quickly the weekend goes, come Sunday evening you realise that you haven’t actually done a great deal.

Saturday, the heavens opened up and rained constantly. Heading to the town centre was out of the question, in my mind Christmas is still a while away yet members of the public are already in a frenzy trying to find that ‘Christmas bargain’ whilst in the process forgetting all manners and etiquette. You know the type of people I mean; they come out en masse sometimes in packs to make the rest of us shopper’s lives a misery. Hence no weekend shopping at any shopping centre/complex. I did temporarily entertain the idea that I may brave a shopping centre one evening then woke up from that nightmare. Online shopping it is, shopping online isn’t necessarily cheaper but it is much safer and better for my health and wellbeing!

Slimming World

A few people at work have joined slimming world, one of them being the lady I sit next to. I have tried to be supportive and eat healthier, the fruit got eaten but the rest of the healthy eating and no crisps just made me grumpy. Dieting of any kind isn’t for me, think I’ll stick to trying to find a balance. I need to do something until I can motivate myself to get back into exercise which hasn’t happened yet. If anyone is curious the Fitbit is still in its box.

Some of the meals that are suggested by Slimming world don’t look too bad but then there are some that look like the person needs to paralyse their taste buds before tasting as the picture alone is enough to put you off trying it. I’m being unfair as many people have successfully lost weight through Slimming World and look great for it. To me it looks like it’s not only helping people to lose weight in a structured way but to also learn to cook more from scratch and forego relying on ready made sauces.

pixlr_201611141123386101Most of my meals are already cooked from scratch just not always by me. Sometimes the ingredients used can be considered a bit rich/fattening depending on which way you look at it. I had a very nice slow cooked lamb dinner over the weekend that was marinated in double cream and yoghurt, the marinate was also used to create the sauce and had a strawberry trifle for dessert; this was shop bought. Neither the lamb or the trifle would be considered healthy and would count as a lot of sins in slimming world but tasted really good!

While I’m coming clean I also baked these oat biscuits and drizzled some dark chocolate over a few of them, I did share them at work.img_05701

I am trying to get the lamb recipe down on paper but I mostly assisted. The oat biscuits I can help with, this was the recipe I used from Allrecipes, the biscuits are quick, easy and only uses four ingredients!

 Christmas Bazaar

Guess who has a biscuit stall next month?

Meee!

These is a local school where since last year I have had a biscuit stall at their summer fete & Christmas bazaar, I must be doing something right as each time a member of the PTA has contacted me to ask me if I’d be interested in coming back each time. The baking does usually take me a day and it is a bit of hard work as I want the biscuits to look visually appealing and then creating the decorate your own gingerbread person kits but I do also have a lot of fun on the actual day, I get to dose up kids with sugar, send them home with their parents who at times are equally dosed up on sugar and caffeine, and I make a bit of pocket money.

Speak soon!

Basildon Baking!

This job and the different extra curricular activities of mine have definitely been keeping me busy!

My main role is reporting but of late I have been getting involved in some of the events the Patient Experience Coordinators arrange or are a part of. The most recent one was Time to Talk where it was all hands on deck and all members of the team were at various locations representing SEPT and showing our support for this excellent cause.20160203_212151[1] I was based in Basildon where the Basildon Disability Equality Forum held a bake off style event in support. I was asked to donate a cake and I could hardly refuse! My cake didn’t win but it was for a good cause so I can’t complain really. Also this baking has created some more opportunities for me.

A lady I work with asked me about making a birthday cake for her husbands 60th, nothingFB_IMG_1455440572355[1] overly fancy but nice all the same. I know not everyone likes fondant icing and buttercream icing is nice but I wanted to do something a little bit more memorable than just a simple victoria sandwich. The birthday boy’s favourite chocolates are Maltesars, he was pleased with the cake.

20160213_193510[1]I sometimes on a whim make a cake for one of SEPT’s volunteers, he out of the blue asked about a birthday cake for his niece, they had been let done by the original cake baker. I said yes as it would be a good opportunity to get back into working with fondant and creating fondant toppers. I’m not going to lie, I did panic a little bit over this cake as I really wanted to do a good job and still wanted the cake to taste good. Overall I think the cake turned out well.

For now my cake baking for others has gone a bit quiet but baking for friends and family still continues, no harm in trying out new recipes when I have ready and willing guinea pigs at work!

Baking success and flops

I’ve been on a baking spree of late, some flops some success but then again ‘practice makes perfect’! My mum bought me an early birthday present, an all singing all dancing Kenwood mixer that comes with a processor and blender attachments. I absolutely love using this gadget, once I had worked out when to use the beater, the whisk and the dough hook I was on a roll.

I know I should have stuck to the tried and tested brownie recipe but decided to try out a new one. It wasn’t a rip roaring success, cooked through round the edges and a bit too gooey in the middle.

IMG_20141016_174835[1]My next ‘new recipe’ to try out was for iced buns. My youngest sister isn’t fond of cake, last year she had a brownie birthday cake, this year she wants an ice bun cake. This was a practice run hence the second number 2 missing a few a buns. I know there are plenty of simpler recipes to follow out there but I have a new book so followed this one. By the following day the icing had started to melt off, fellow bakers if you have a solution to this problem feel free to share.

IMG_20141017_160403[1]IMG_20141017_182424[1]My next practice run was a 3D teddy Bear cake. I made a smaller version to get an idea of what I was doing, the bear turned out looking a bit more like a monkey bear than a teddy bear. I know the icing needs a bit of work, I had started to get hand cramp, I know what areas I need to improve on it comes to making the ‘real’ cake for my nieces birthday. If you’re interested in making your own 3D teddy bear cake I originally used this template from Paul Bradford Sugarcraft School IMG_20141012_195200[2]website, there is also a video how to put the cake together. The cake itself is a trust worthy madeira cake, perfect for carving up.

Baking aside I needed some new cake designs and pictures for my baking Facebook and Twitter pages. This is my latest creation.

Iced Buns Recipe

IMG_20141016_174835[1]

If you have a sweet tooth these are perfect, if you’re like me then reduce the sugar a little bit. There are plenty of iced bun recipes out there, but this was the one I recently tried out and turned out quite nice.

From the World’s Best Cakes book by Roger Pizey

Makes 12

Bun Dough Ingredients

30g Powdered Milk

345 ml Water

60g Fresh Yeast I divided this by 3 to use 20g Dry Yeast

2 Eggs

1.1kg Plain Flour

1/2 tsp Salt

140g Castor Sugar

140g Cubed Butter

65 ml Stock Syrup

Stock Syrup

65ml Water

65ml Castor Sugar

Stock Syrup Method

Put water and sugar into a pan and boil until liquid becomes syrupy

 Iced Buns Method

  1. Whisk the powdered milk into the water. Then dissolve the yeast into the milky water finally adding the eggs.
  2. In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and sugar. Then rub in the butter using your fingertips until the mix looks like breadcrumbs.
  3. Make a well in the middle of the flour mix, add the yeast mix in stages mixing in between until you have a firm but supple dough.
  4. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and let it prove in a warm place for about 40 minutes.
  5. After the 40 minute prove knock back the dough then let it prove for another 20 minutes.
  6. Grease and line a baking tray.
  7. Divide the dough into 12 pieces lightly roll the pieces into finger shape buns, though you can do whatever shape you want.
  8. Place each bun carefully onto the tray allowing enough room for the buns to expand.
  9. Then let the buns prove for another 40-60 minutes, until they have doubled in size.
  10. Preheat your over to gas mark 5, 190 C, I used an oven thermometer just to make sure my oven was at the right temperature.
  11. Bake the buns in the oven for about 7-9 minutes until they are golden brown. The time will vary depending on your oven, just keep an eye on them until they are a nice golden brown colour.
  12. While the buns are baking, make the stock syrup.
  13. Once the buns are cooked brush them with the stock syrup straight away, then allow them to cool on a wire rack.
  14. The recipe used fondant icing to ice the buns but I would think any icing would fine. Just make sure the icing is stiff but spreadable. Dip each bun into the icing. You can colour the icing, add hundreds and thousands, whatever you like. I took the measurements for the icing from a Paul Hollywood recipe.

For the Icing

200g Icing Sugar

5 tsp Cold Water

Buns away!

Ask and ye shall receive!

A work friend has got invovled in the baking cinnamon challenge by asking his wife to bake him some cinnamon swirl buns, so technically his wife took part!

 

20140813_CinnamonBuns[1]

The buns were well received by everyone in the office, even the fussy one gave his seal of approval. 😀

Recipe courtesy of my friends wife.

Ingredients

  • Rolls:
  • 350g/12oz self raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g/3.5oz butter, melted and extra for greasing
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 200ml/7 fl oz milk, extra for glazing
  • Filling:
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 55g/2oz brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted

 

Method

  1. Grease a 20-cm/8-inch round tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
  2. Mix the flour, salt, caster sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Whisk the butter, egg yolks and milk together and combine the dry ingredients to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a large piece of waxed paper, lightly sprinkled with flour, and roll out to a rectangle 30 x 25cm/12 x 10 inches.
  3. To make the filling mix the ingredients together, spread evenly over the dough and roll up, Swiss-roll style to form a log. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 even-sized slices and pack into the prepared tin. Brush gently with extra milk and bake in a preheated oven, 180C/350F, for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin.
  4. Make up some runny icing and drizzle over the swirls. Serve warm or cold.

Side note: I put extra cinnamon in the filling and gave a light dusting when they were taken out the oven.

 

Crash, Bang, Clean Car and Cake!

Though the sun was shining my weekend was 50 / 50.

No more than 10 minutes after leaving work I received a phone call my sister had been in a car accident! She is feeling the after effects now but otherwise is ok, she has been given some painkillers by the doctor at A&E.

We’re not sure about the survival chances of the car just yet. Everything is going through insurance so will see what the outcome is likely to be, the other party shouldn’t dispute anything as they were the ones at fault. They had not seen my sister’s car and continued to enter the road resulting in the accident.IMG-20140516-FarzanaCar[1]

Friday I had a case of the sneezes and watery eyes, I had hoped it was hay fever. I should be so lucky! Little did I know the sneezes and watery eyes were the beginning of a cold, no thanks to the evil air con that plagues my side of the office.

Despite my developing cold, come Saturday I still looked like I belonged to the human race (make up is a brilliant thing!) and a small miracle happened. Thanks to my youngest brother the inside of my car was cleaned. I forgot to take pictures otherwise you would seen just how bad it was. I can’t remember the last time the inside of my car was hovered, dust was wiped down, I honestly thought it was going to be an impossible task. But my brother took the hoover and did an excellent job!

In the process of car clean up I found

–          4 pairs of shoes

–          1 pair of boots

–          2 shawls

–          A pair of jogging bottoms

–          1 rain coat

–          The shovel I put in the car from the last snow we had in the UK

–          A pair of worn out, torn boxing gloves, these went in the bin

20140517_VeganCupcakes[1]While I was on a roll and craving something sweet I attempted some vegan chocolate cupcakes. For a first attempt they were ok, tasted much better with ice cream 🙂

Sunday the germs took full effect. I would have stayed in bed only the boiler guy was meant to be coming then I was going to my parents for a family barbeque. However the boiler guy didn’t turn up! I texted and phoned him then received a text message with a lame excuse, to be honest I think he forgot!

A builder was also meant to be coming to give me a quote for the shed, he was also a no show!

The boiler guy did come the following evening so I will let that go. The shed builder was meant to come that evening as well, again no show. I’m going to find someone else to come and give mwe a quote.

At the moment I am a recovering master of germs! The battle of the air con continues, the war will only be won when the evil spawn of cold and potential dusty, polluted air has been ripped out! I’m told this will be happening at some point this year, until then, I am going to have to dress like an eskimo for a work!

Girly cake

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my cakes. I’ve been baking, but for one reason or another I haven’t gotten round to sharing the experiences.

I’ve not covered a cake in fondant icing before so thought I would have a practice. Rolled out the icing, so far so good. Came to covering the cake and it all seemed to be going well till the icing started breaking! I patched up the damaged areas the best I could and 20130428_201213_PinkFlowerCake[1]then covered in little pink flowers. I was told by housemate #2 that the cake looked cute and nice…apparently too girly for the baker aka me! I can do girlie if the occasion calls for it 😉

A few weeks back I had bought some flower paste and had a go at making some cute little roses. I’m getting 20130428_202355_SugarPasteRoses[1]better at these 😀

I’m always finding ways to increase my baking repertoire (it’s not a very long list yet) and had a go making a fondant angry bird character.20130427_094642_AngryBird[1] The beak on the bird is a bit big, apart from that, not bad for my first attempt, even if I do say so myself. 😉

A few weekends back my parents came round to put up a shelf for me, for some reason my mum is still concerned about me using the electric drill by myself :-s A friend had already marked up the holes but I didn’t have the correct drill bit at the time. In return, part assisted by the bread machine I made a plaited bread and gave my parents some to take home. I forgot to take a picture of the whole bread, the need to eat fresh, warm, bread with butter was more important.20130428_201059_Bread[1] When I remembered to document my bread baking-ish attempt there wasn’t much left and no one was ill the next day, double bonus. 😀

Sometimes in the morning I don’t have time to grab breakfast, when this happens banana choc chip muffins are just the thing to keep me going for a bit. I know I have a small stomach to be able to survive on one muffin till about 11am. They tasted nice but were a bit dry. I’m going to try out a different recipe next time.

I was having a bit of a rough week at work, Ben and Jerry alone were not making the cut. Off the new shelf came the baking book and brownie cupcakes were made.

Two weekends ago it was a bank holiday weekend in the UK. The weather for once was surprisingly nice. It still rained but on the whole was sunny.  That weekend my sister asked for a chocolate cake with fresh cream. I haven’t worked with fresh cream before and learnt a few 20130505_104605_ChocCreamCake[2]lessons for next time. I had a bit of a nightmare putting the cream onto the cake, think I had over whipped the cake just before it reached the point of becoming butter. Despite my living room looking like a cake crime scene (this happens almost every time I decorate a cake. :-s) the cake turned out looking better than I had expected, and being full of chocolaty goodness. 😀

I recently signed up for a fundraising pack for the charity Sparks, Bake for Bumps campaign. Found out my manager has ok’d it with the big boss for me to bring cakes to work and ask everyone to donate money in a little box which came in my fundraising pack, in exchange for a cake. I test out my cakes on my work colleagues anyway, just this time they will also have to cough up some money. It’s for a good cause, and cute little babies. The money raised goes to funding medical research ‘…to improve the quality of life for children and families affected by serious illness or disability today, whilst seeking ways to better diagnose, treat and prevent these conditions in the future.’ Honestly who can say no to cute little babies?

Exhausted!

20130217_161654[1]Busy bee this weekend!

As I mentioned in my post ‘Wind knocked out of me!’, I made the trial run birthday cake in the shape of the number one. It turned out better than I had expected, especially since the last cake I made was burnt!

This time I took my time and made the cake at my house so there weren’t any parents to drive me round the bend!  As it was a practice run I made a slightly smaller cake. I made a stencil, I didn’t have a ruler so improvised with my debit card. Seemed to work just fine. 😉 20130216_161705[1]

I had started my baking late in the day so decided to cook and shape the cake on the Saturday and decorate it on the Sunday.  Whilst the cake was cooling, I made some lime flavoured cupcakes.20130216_202735[1]  Whilst the cupcakes were cooking and the cake was cooling I had a go at making my own fondant icing. Lets just say it was not a rip-roaring success and leave it at that.
Fortunately I had a back up with shop bought fondant. 20130216_191921[1]After a bit of practice using the lettering stencil managed to produce some not so bad looking letters to spell out nephew #2’s name. The trick was to let the fondant icing dry a bit so it wouldn’t stick to the stencil and come out easily.

Lime cakes cooked and cooling. Time to cut the birthday cake, I surprised myself!

Sunday up early to decorate the cake. I started at 9am,
Surviving on tea, bit of DIY patchwork cake repair I was finished at about 12pm. 20130217_104458[1]My dining table looked like a crime scene, I had a minor accident with the icing gun,20130217_104441[1] I had added more icing forgetting there was already icing in the nozzle bit and pressed the plunger button..oopppss.

All were impressed with the outcome, my youngest sister had the cheek to say ‘Seeing the last cake you made I had no expectations and was surprised the cake turned out looking as well as it did!’.

Then it was off to lunch with youngest brother who is going to help me with the birthday cake and cupcakes for the party on Sunday.

Following lunch with brother, a cup of tea, a Karate Kid film (The one with the bonsai tree) and painting nails it was off to bowling with housemate #2 and her friend. Housemate #2 hadn’t been bowling before, she was completely pants but enjoyed every minute of it whilst she danced her way to the aisle to swing her bowling ball and watch it roll into the gutter then dance her way back to her seat. 😉

If you want Indian or Chinese take away at 8pm on a Sunday night, no problems. But fish and chips, no chance. At least not in my neck of the woods! Housemate #2’s friend had not ever tried fish and chips before (She is also from Martinique), so we were intent on finding someplace that would serve up this delicacy. Alas, dejected and defeated we came home. There we found a takeway menu that lo and behold served fish and chips! We ordered, we ate, we were stuffed!  Concluding my exhausting, busy cakealicious weekend. 😀