Monday, 9 January 2012

Nightswimming // REM

Happy New Year!

I started 2012 with a new job, and I'm walking every day, which is really nice. However it means I arrive at work hungry and have been purchasing crappy croissants from Sainsburys, which isn't great.

So I decided for my Spontaneous-Sunday bake I would make some kind of muffin, preferably with some kind of fruit and oats.
However being a spontaneous bake I didn't have too much to work with.

Here is how to make 12 of my Breakfast Muffins;

280g Plain Flour
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1/8 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
115g Soft Brown Sugar
100g Sultanas
100g Chopped Apple
2 Eggs
250ml Milk
6 tbsp Sunflower Oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Handful of Pumpkin Seeds
Handful of Sunflower Seeds

-Preheat over to gas mark 6. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cases.
-Sift flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into a bowl. Stir in the apple and sultanas.
-Beat the eggs in a jug along with the milk, oil and vanilla extract.
-Add to dry ingredients and mix well.
-Fill the cases with the mix and sprinkle the seeds over.
-Bake for 20 minutes until well risen, golden brown and firm to the touch.
-Leave in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

One day we will wow you with a cakes rising time lapse - that day will come after we clean the oven window.
Libby's notes;
-I accidentally used SR flour, instead of plain. They haven't turned into the monsters I imagined so maybe that was ok.
-I used up the last of my brown sugar sprinkling it on top of the seeds as there was too little to bother with putting back into the cupboard.
-I managed to put an eggy whisk into J's coffee. I wouldn't recommend this.

Verdict (By Jonny) - They were delicious!
Not too sweet so good for breakfast but filled with flavour the warm cinnamon and soft apple went really well with the crunch of the pumpkin seeds on top. I'm not entirely sure that they'll last until tomorrow morning.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Pump It Up // Elvis Costello

I like Halloween. Haven't really done anything proper for a few years due to Whitbying. But this year as we were about, and due to some clever point of sale pumpkins (I'm a serious sucker for point of sale marketing) we ended up making a pumpkin pie, and buying some Montezuma's chocolate frogs.

Both tasted pretty rank, but I enjoyed the baking, and setting up these photos was great fun.

From now on I might use shitloads of candles in every photo we do.

The frogs were too dark for my sweet tooth, and were grainy. They were also battered due to poor packaging.

The pie was pretty rank, but custard with the addtion of mashed up pumpkin doesn't really sound like a partnership made in heaven.

Happy Halloween!!!!

(Jonny Helm carved the pumpkin for me.. I think he is amazing)

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Some Kind of a Summer // David Cassidy

I received an interesting text message from Becci, while on the way to visit her. It contained the following picture;

And I thought '....dear god'

At the time Jonny and I were en route to Becci's to enjoy a relaxed evening of socialising nothingness. Jonny suggested I review the sandwich, which contains clotted cream, strawberry jam and strawberries.
Over the course of our journey we sort of came to the conclusion that it was similar to a cream tea, but wronger. I thought I would never get the chance to review it, as it's not something I would condone by purchasing.

But when we arrived at Becci & Chay's we were confronted by the sight of the end of this sandwich - saved for us to try. Chay justifies it in the video.

I went first.

I have said before that I don't really like eating cream. Clotted cream is a rare exception to this, I will enjoy it on a scone, as long as I don't get any 'top'. But I  especially don't like cream from Tesco.

Then Jonny had a go.

It was horrible. And I'm going to blame it's existance on Wimbledon Fortnight. Bastards.
First you make commuting through Wimbledon complete hell for two weeks ('Oh! Oh! The tennis! Did you see Pat Cash?! Oh what a dish. What's that? You like my Wimbledon Umbrella? Yes, yes, I bought it especially to hit commuters in the face with when we get back to the station, or just to stop them getting where they're trying to go, awfully good sport in a downpour.') then you create a fucking awful sandwich.

Monday, 13 June 2011

I Can't Live With You // Queen

This song is my favourite Queen song. Its probable that I love it so much because everytime I hear it I think of being in the kitchen in Forest Hut, my favourite room in my favourite house.
I think the last time I was there was back in January, which was aaaaaages ago. Too long.It wasn't the best trip, it probably wasn't the best time to go in hindsight.

But I made a key lime pie. It's not something I'd ever done before, but wanted something easy, and when looking at the ingredients list (biscuits, butter, cream, condensed milk, limes) it just looked like it was going to be lush.

It really was. It was a bit stressful to make. I've said this before - Forest Hut is a dumping ground for things that aren't quite good enough to have in your full-time house (Mouse Trap with half the parts missing? That was one of the most dissapointing moments in my life, and I'll rant about it to anyone that will listen) so if you bake you're doing it on limited equipment.
The thing missing for this was some kind of grater/zester for the peel of the lime. Jonny worked really hard peeling and chopping about 8 limes to get the zest, and I looked at the product of about an hour of hard labour and said 'No.' Now I wasn't just being a bitch, I for once was going on my instinct that chucking in a load of pithy, lumpy zest would ruin my smooth, creamy pudding.

Jonny later concurred that I was right, and it was such an excellent pudding that it did not need the zest.

Just remembering this has made me want to make another. Here's the recipe!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

I Want It All // Queen

I love Nutella. Oh I love it so much. It's incredible. Nothing really compares to it. My favourite thing ever and my favourite thing to do with it is make hot chocolate. I first learnt that it's best to make Hot Chocolate with proper, real chocolate, not some powdery gumf, at William Curley, as it's much, much nicer. You don't get that horrible powdery texture. It's not watery and it's as sweet as you want it, not as sweet as the manufacturer of said gumf wanted it.
I fall back on this information in times of need - you know those times when you want to eat a kilo of chocolate but only have a few squares? Turning it into hot chocolate always made it last much longer.

I don't do this at home anymore. Instead I make Nutella hot chocolate. It's easy and delicious. Recipe follows;

Serves 1
300 ml Whole Milk
3 heaped tsp Nutella

1.Measure your milk into a sizeable jug, then pour it into a pan and put it on a medium heat.
2. Into the same jug place the Nutella.
3. When the milk boils pour it over the Nutella.
4. Whisk thoroughly to make a smooth mixture, making sure to get the Nutella from the sides of the jug combined.
5. Work up a nice froth then pour into mug.
6. Drink immediately.

When we were first in the flat I realised I would have to get used to an electric oven, and it followed that I would have to do some baking test runs.
The first test I did I was hankering after something chocolatey. I'd only brought my cupcake tins with me, not a whole cake tin so they would have to do, but I ran into the small problem of having no chocolate to use, and then I saw it!! The holy Nutella, usually reserved for hot chocolates and eating straight from the jar when Jonny isn't looking, like a beautiful beacon of chocolate hope.

I whipped up a normal batch of vanilla cupcakes sans vanilla and at the end bunged in a load of Nutella until it looked chocolatey enough. I should have measured it so I can give you precise instructions, but I was caught up with how much of a genius idea it was.
Then I made some vanilla frosting sans vanilla and did the same again. It makes quite a light brown icing, but it's yummy.

They tasted amazing, and I made three more batches in as many days. I think they've taken over Black Bottomed Cupcakes as my favourite chocolate cake, they're much easier to make.

What Have I Done to Deserve This? // Pet Shop Boys

I have a new job! It's all very exciting. I've been there three weeks now, and it's exhausting but great. Much much better than my old job, which I'd grown really fed up of.
I was very sad to leave when it came to it, but I know that I'll still see the people who made it such a great place to work.

Cakes always went down a storm there, so I made some to take in for my last day. I wanted to do some cupcakes (as they're always easy), one load fruity and one load that are a bit different.

For the fruity ones I found a Hummingbird recipe for Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes. I don't know what it is about that book, I trust it too much. It was completely against my instincts to shovel a load of chopped up strawberries into a cake case, top with batter and bake. I knew they would turn to some kind of horrible mush and the cases wouldn't stand it, but for some reason I trusted the book and did it anyway. They were rank. I left them to dry out over night and took in half of them for work uniced.. I don't know if anyone thought 'bleearrrgh what on Earth is she feeding us?' as they revealed the mess of strawberries at the bottom of the cake. If I make them again I will do it as follows; Bake cupcake as usual. Hollow out some cake, fill with chopped strawberries. Ice. Much better.

For the other batch I did Hummingbird's Marshmallow Cupcakes, as pictured. My thoughts behind this were that they were the girliest cake I'd ever seen, and it seemed entirely appropriate to make a batch for 12 male engineers.

I liked these a lot, a much more logical recipe, and much much tastier.
The only thing I would change would be to make my own marshmallows and fill the cupcakes with the unset goo, rather than melting shop-bought ones.

Lost // Korn

We have been listening to a lot of Radio 4. I suppose it's what comes from not having a television. I am obsessed with Book at Bedtime, though Jonny says I'm never awake for the end. I feel out of sorts if I miss one.

The other programme I rather enjoy is Woman's Hour. Recently we listened to a whole piece on Madeleines, when I realised I've never had one.

Madeleines are small, almond cakes which are baked in a special shell shaped mould. They are a French speciality, made famous by Proust.

So while touring Waitrose with Jonny during one of our weekly shops we spotted a bag of Bonne Maman Madeleines. I was allowed to buy them, Jonny was looking for an excuse to take some photos of my new tea set (more on this in a moment) and I was looking for an excuse to eat cake.

They were ok, a bit boring. We dunked them into our tea (probably not the done thing with a tea set as beautiful as this), which made them soggy. Jonny loved this. I'm not so sure. You got some extra cake at the end of your tea which isn't very nice.
I'd like to try some that aren't mass produced, and also make some of my own as I was given a beautiful mould a few years ago for a birthday, which was a lovely yet daunting gift. I guess hopefully I'll come back to this in the future.

Now for the important stuff! Look at my tea set! Look at it! See how beautiful it is. I am the luckiest girl in the world. I am the proud owner of the most beautiful tea set in the world. It's staggering how in love I can be with some plates.
Where Jonny and I have moved to has some incredible shops, one of which is an incredible vintage interiors shop (I've touched on my secret interior design passion in the past) and I can spend many hours (if allowed) browsing and touching and longing. It is called Nicholas and Steele. The first time I had a proper browse I stumbled on an amazing black tea set, and it was the first I'd laid eyes on that I actually needed. Nothing could match my desire for it.
Unfortunately it sold, but J had wandered in and left his number, and a few weeks later we got a text saying they'd sourced a better set!
This was a much more convenient time, I'd come into a little windfall that I didn't want to waste on nothing, and it allowed me to buy the set which includes 5 lots of delicate tea cups, saucers and cake plates, a milk jug and sugar bowl, and a matching cake stand.

It really is the best set I've ever seen, and I have seen an awful lot of them. It is black, and then it has bright pink big flowers on. I love it.