Thursday, 18 October 2012

In search of my mojo ...


 
I hope that you don't think me rude by my absence over the last few weeks.

In the time since Sam's birthday, life seems to have been incredibly busy and I have had very little time to myself, never mind time to indulge in much baking. In the main, I've had to enjoy others doing it through Great British Bake Off, and while it's been great watching how things panned out (congratulations to John Whaite, this year's winner), it's been too long since I've been in the kitchen for a proper baking session. I'm hoping to rectify that this weekend, and I must admit my baking break has certainly given me some time to plan a few things, which I'm really looking forward to trying out.

Ready for baking
In the meantime, I did manage to try a few things inspired by GBBO, but just really didn't have time to do them justice or blog about them. I took a few snaps though, so thought you might like to see what I got up to. Unfortunately, most of them didn't quite go according to plan.

Fresh from the oven
The pictures above show some Custard Creams using the recipe from Jo Wheatley's book A Passion for Baking. This is the first recipe I've attempted from Jo's book, and have always wanted to try making custard creams. While I love the look of Jo's book, and there are lots of recipes I'm looking forward to trying, this one didn't really work for me. I was having an absolute nightmare baking session though, so can't rule out that it was my baking that went to pot. But while the biscuits baked up well and were lovely and golden, the filling felt a little too runny when I piped it, and the biscuits overall were a little too sweet for my taste. They seemed to get soft really quickly as well. It's difficult to know what to compare them to, though, as I'd never made them before. So I'm going to try some other recipes - if anyone can suggest a good one, please do!

Caramel cake - with some extremely naff feathering
They were the second recipe I attempted on that day though, the other being the Caramel Layer Cake from the latest GBBO book, Showstoppers. Again, this didn't quite work out for me. The main issues were the sponge layers were a little dry, and I think I over whipped the caramel glaze so that it ended up more like airy buttercream than the icing in the picture accompanying the recipe in the book.

Looking more like the book - but then I overwhipped it!
This made the feathering really difficult to achieve (and I botched it totally when I used melted chocolate that was a little too warm to have much control over. Hence the very splodgy effect above).


I really love the idea of this cake though, and will definitely try it again - the salted caramel glaze tasted heavenly - but I may just have a go at doing it my own way.

Melting the butter and sugar for the gingerbread before adding the flour and spices
The next time I managed some baking was a few weeks later, when I wanted to try out my silicone spoon mould from Lakeland. I've seen this used by a number of bloggers to make the perfect sized little biscuit for coffee, either in gingerbread or shortbread. I decided to make mine gingerbread, and inspired by the gingerbread episode on Bake Off, decided to use the recipe from 'Showstoppers'. The irony with this is that I've made gingerbread biscuits a number of times before, and they were great. This time, the dough felt really oily and greasy - so much that I was pretty sure that my baking mojo had deserted me completely and I'd botched up yet another recipe.

Looking rough but tasting heavenly
After filling the mould once, I really couldn't face rolling out any more of the sticky, greasy mass that was coagulating around my hands, so binned the rest. Stupid me.

I had overfilled the moulds slightly, so they rose above the edge. But once baked and left to cool, they little biscuits tasted heavenly. Even Ben, who doesn't normally like gingerbread, decided he wanted to finish the lot before I got a chance to take any pictures of them out of the mould. I was left with one to taste, which Sam promptly decided he was going to literally snatch out of my mouth. Oh well, Sam enjoyed it too and it kept him occupied, gnawing away happily, for the next 10 minutes or so. So you live and learn.

The highlight of the last few weeks though, was the Sourdough class I did with Elisabeth of Cardiff's One Mile Bakery. You may recall my previous post about my Sourdough exploits (read it here), and Dan Lepard's method is the one that worked best for me. However, I've always found that the best way to learn is to have someone who knows what they are doing show you - as you can then ask questions and get instant feedback. I came across One Mile Bakery searching for artisan bakers - and I'm so glad I did. Elisabeth runs her bakery by way of a subscription service, delivering her hand made bread, soups and preserves within one mile of her home. Sadly, I live outside the mile, so don't qualify for the subscription service, but I was pleased to find that she runs classes, and so signed up for the 'Introduction to Sourdough' class.

The product of our day's labour
A couple of weeks ago, along with another bread enthusiast, I spent a day with Elisabeth making four different kinds of sourdough - White, Seeded Rye, Raisin and Coriander Wholemeal, and Potato and Rosemary. We also found time to squeeze in some yeasted white French baguettes. I really enjoyed myself and picked up so many hints and tips about bread making. It was a fantastic day, and I'm hoping to do another of Elisabeth's classes on yeasted breads and preserves.

So that's what I've been up to. Hope you've had a good few weeks.

That ol' baking itch is definitely back, so I'll be hopefully posting something special in the next few days.

Susie

16 comments:

  1. Silicon spoon mould - I have to get myself one of those!! I made custard creams a while back and they were delish! :)

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    1. Yes - I know. I was coveting them and they inspired me to try this recipe. I'll have another look at yours though, as they looked so good! :)

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  2. Oh isn't it awful when things don't work out - it has happened to us all believe me. So glad the bread was a huge success and it looks great.

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    1. Thanks - the bread was great and I'd definitely recommend the course to anyone within travelling of Cardiff, especially if they're interested in Sourdough! :)

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  3. LOVELY to see you back Susie and I know all about losing my Mo-Jo too.....I have to struggle to write lately, as I have been so busy! The bread looks divine though......I am so pleased it all turned out well in the end! Karen

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  4. The caramel cake looks delicious, i also like your decorative skills x

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  5. Wayhey you're back! It's so upsetting having bad baking days, but honestly none of it looks bad! I've been meaning to make custard creams for ages, if I finally get round to do it I'll type up my recipe for you. I love that you used a flower shaped cutter Actually, I got some at Christmas and still haven't used them. Obviously I need to make flower shaped custard creams too!

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    1. Thanks Jo! Yes please - definitely on a search for a great custard cream recipe. And Bourbons! :)

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  6. Wow - what a lovely array of baking!

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  7. Hi Susie - I know you've got your mojo back as I've just been drooling at your chocolate tart. I know how you feel though as I've had similar experiences in the past. I've been wanting to try the custard creams too but not gotten round to it yet. I did try the caramel cake and made my own blunders but it turned out ok. I'm glad your gingerbread turned out!

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    1. Aw, thanks Ros. I'm sure everyone goes through phases like that. Life quite often throws up new things and sometimes you have to ride it out. I'm just pottering around now, doing what I like to do best. :)

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  8. wow. now I feel I've just lost all my mojo or whatever cook's cred I have. that whole table of breads looks just amazing.

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