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Showing posts from August, 2012

Sourdough Loaf

Back in February, one of Mike's colleagues heard about my baking blog. She kindly offered me some of her sourdough starter, called Sophia, whose origins lay in Chicago some 8 years ago. I didn't know much about sourdough at that point, but what I had was all good, and from that knew that an 8 year old starter was not something you'd come across all that often, so I jumped at the chance. A few days later a plastic tub was nesting  in the fridge with a strange, gloopy substance inside. I'd been given some instructions on how to feed her, and referred to The Fresh Loaf - a website devoted to all things bread related, and which includes a brilliant community forum. The first time I fed Sophia, I transferred about half of her to a clean kilner jar, added the refresher of flour and water, and stirred. I couldn't bear to just bin the other half, so began a second jar (now known as Olivia). I began to read up on how to actually transform the alchemy taking place in t

My Perfect Carrot Cake

Necessity quite often is the mother of invention. A few weeks back, I actually tried carrot cake for the first time. Yes I know, 40 plus years and counting, a supposed baking enthusiast, and I've only just had carrot cake. I must admit that while I adore carrots with my roast, I was ever so slightly wary of carrots (or indeed any veg) in my cake. Especially when paired with oil - which I understand is normally something used in carrot cake. Anyway, Mike and I were out and about in town with Sam one day, and went for our usual coffee and a little something.  Shock and horror, though, most of the cake and baked treats had sold out. What was left was a bit of a sorry choice between Victoria Sponge and Carrot Cake. I went for the sponge, but then couldn't believe it when the manager (who was serving us) said that he didn't know what state it was in as it had been sitting in the heat, so if it was dry I could send it back and swap it. Apart from reeling from the brazen w

The ABC Award

Sometime ago, Gem at Cupcake Crazy Gem  honoured me by passing me an ABC award . I know it's really bad, but I've only now really had the time to get around to posting in response (Sorry Gem!). I love Gem's blog. Her zest for baking, and life in general, is so infectious I love reading about what she gets up to. She is also, like me, completely addicted to American baking, and hosts the monthly United Bakes of America challenge. My recent blogging indolence is mainly due to my return to work after maternity leave - and the fact that now there are never enough hours in the day to do all I need to (including sleep!). However, much time has been spent scratching my head about what to write. You see, I lead a probably really boring life, which is very much centred on my family. I'm not sure that that will have sufficient entertainment value for you. Anyway. I decided to bite the bullet and compile an ABC of me, which hopefully will let you know a bit more about me, my 

Caramelised Onion, Tomato and Goats Cheese Tart

I love this recipe. Whenever Mike and I are eating 'posh' and I need a quick starter to rustle up, then this is one of our favourites. I just love the taste of the crumbled goats cheese and the onion, with the little flavour bursts from the cherry tomatoes. It uses ready made, ready rolled puff pastry so is really quick and easy to put together. You can adapt it to make small individual tarts, or one large one as I have here. It's based on an Ina Garten 'Barefoot Contessa' recipe, which I have adapted slightly (the original recipe can be found here ). Caramelised Onion, Tomato and Goats Cheese Tart Ingredients (Serves 4) 1 Sheet ready rolled puff pastry (plus a little plain flour for sprinkling) 1 large Spanish onion, cut into thin slices 1 tbspn olive oil 1 tsbpn sugar 2 cloves of garlic, crushed 2 tbspn white wine 1 tbspn fresh thyme leaves 1 small packet of soft, crumbly goats cheese (not the rinded log) 1 pack of small cherry tomatoes A litt

Blueberry and Cornmeal Mini Bundts

It seems as though I've been back at work much longer than the 8 weeks I have. Already maternity leave seems a dim and distant memory. But ... Yay, Mike and I have the next few weeks off work. Which means I have a bit more time to play with. So venturing into the kitchen yesterday led to these lovely Blueberry and Cornmeal Mini Bundts. The recipe is simple, but the inclusion of cornmeal gives a lovely texture to the cake and slightly crunchy exterior. The fresh blueberries give a lovely little pop of fruit that bursts on your tongue. Very, very delish! The original recipe, from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman, is an American one (and for one large bundt cake), so uses cup measurements - I've included what my 'cups' then weighed in grams as a guide, where this might be helpful. The mix made just enough to fill a Nordicware 6 mini bundt pan. The one I have (see a full picture here - unfortunately I couldn't find a UK example on the net) has some lo

Maple Leaf Cupcakes

It's been a bit quiet on the baking front recently, but as one of Mike's colleagues left the company this week, I needed to get my baking tins out. D'arcy and his family are relocating to Toronto. How exciting is that? And to mark the occasion I wanted to try and make something that he would like. These are chocolate cupcakes, covered in Maple Syrup Frosting, and decorated with little sugar fondant maple leaves. I'm not terribly good with sugarpaste. Sadly, the leaves didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped, as it was difficult to get the colour right with the materials I had. I basically coloured three different shades of fondant - orangey, red and reddy brown - to try and get autumnal shades. Then I cut out different sized maple leaves and pressed them with a veiner. Having left them to dry for about 8 hours (over crumpled baking parchment to get a curled effect), I then dusted them with some gold, brown and terracotta flower dusts. The block colours were