Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Unwanted Cake

What a sad story this is! This poor cake just didn't want to be eaten.

I've made this Cappuccino cake a fair few times now, including a couple of birthdays last year, and it's never let me down. It's simple to make and with the decoration being quite plain, it always looks OK too. Unfortunately, this time I really struggled to find people to take it off my hands!

One of my friends had commented on a picture of it on Facebook a while ago saying how much she liked the look of it, so I decided to bake it for her when she came over for a tea a few weeks ago. I was just putting the finishing touches to it the night before (literally sprinkling the cocoa powder over it!) when she texted me to cancel. At the time we were slightly selfishly relieved because it meant we could greedily cut into it straight away and fill our faces.

The next day Mike took a few slices into work for his colleagues... but one of them had phoned in sick. He tried to palm the last slice off on to someone from another office, but he was on a diet. He did end up taking it, but when he brought the box back the next day he said he'd given his slice to someone else. Then another friend came over the next day and I offered her a slice... after a bit of cajoling she did eat it, but picked out all the nuts! Sadly, a few days later, I had to sling the last few slices into the bin as they were starting to go mouldy.

So I felt quite sorry for this cake - I've never had to throw any of it away before! This has always been the cake that's never let me down, that fits so many occasions, that's always come out perfect and been enjoyed by everyone. The saddest thing about this story is that I've actually since tried a similar recipe (blog post coming soon!) which will probably replace this one as my failsafe cake recipe, so I'm sorry little Cappuccino cake, but I think this is the last time we'll see you!

Thanks to Mike for the photos in this post!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Cherry Shortbread Hearts

Last year I started what I think will become a tradition - to bake something heart-themed and therefore slightly cheesy, for Valentine's Day.

This year I've noticed quite a bit of Valentine's backlash, and it makes me kind of sad... I know it's gone very commercial (like everything it seems; is it just me or was Halloween in particular really OTT last year?!) but surely you can enjoy it without having to buy into the commercialism. It seemed that nobody was even bothering to acknowledge it - at work people were saying things like 'we don't need Valentine's Day to show each other we care so we don't bother' - I mean, neither do we, but isn't it just nice to have a day where you can just celebrate what you have together?

Anyway, I digress... so last year I did some heart cupcakes, which I didn't think I was going to be able to top (and I don't think I did) but I want to do something other than cake, since we seemed to have eaten so much of it lately (more on that soon!) but I saw a recipe for these cherry shortbread hearts on the BBC Good Food website and thought I would give them a go especially since I haven't made shortbread yet.

Firstly, I was alarmed by how much butter was in them! A whole pack! It's not called 'all-butter' shortbread for nothing then, is it?! I was also a bit scared that it was a James Martin recipe so immediately thought it would be complicated and feature ingredients that I'd never heard of but it really was so simple and everything went smoothly. I don't know if I was using the wrong size cutter but it made about 22 biscuits and I also made a whole tray of mini hearts to take into work (yes, I had to force some Valentine's spirit into them somehow!) and STILL ended up throwing away some dough!

As is also tradition they had to be encased within something featuring hearts and this year I had the foresight to pick up a box from Clinton's rather than wrestling with an old Celebration's tub and some wrapping paper!


Here are the mini ones all bagged up to take into work.

One of the women in the office wasn't there when I came in with them, and I was so flattered when she tried one and then asked me where I'd bought them from! Hopefully I might get some commissions next Valentine's Day (if they can be persuaded to celebrate it of course!) ....

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Baileys and Chocolate Chip Scones

OK, so the title's not exactly accurate - it was Tesco Finest's version of Baileys, but I can't tell the difference myself!

When I saw The Pink Whisk's recipe for these scones on Friday, I knew that they HAD to be made before the weekend was out! Scones have been on my list of things to make for ages, and I don't like raisins or sultanas so I was in search of something a bit different.

Mike and I are in agreement that these were possibly the nicest things to come out of the kitchen here so far! You could really taste the Baileys!

They were so quick and easy to make aswell - all done and dusted during the course of tonight's Top Gear.

Mike had his with that and chocolate spread, as suggested in the original recipe.

I cheated and got some squirty cream, which made for nice decoration!

We both scoffed two each in one sitting and really had to exercise some self-restraint at that point!

You can get the recipe here. Thanks so much to The Pink Whisk for sharing these beauties!

ETA: Mike would just like me to point out that it was him who did the squirty cream hearts! I couldn't possibly take credit for anyone else's handiwork!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

January: the baking drought

Wow, is it really February already... where is this year going?

Well, this blog has been a bit of a poor show since Christmas. I'd love to tell you that it's because I've been so busy baking that I just haven't had time to show off my efforts, but unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. I was starting to worry that I'd lost the baking love, but I think that real life had just taken over a while - with starting my new job just before Christmas I suppose I've just been trying to find my feet in this new co-habiting plus full-time job routine. And another spanner in the baking works was that we've just got ourselves the Playstation Move, so that along with Little Big Planet 2 meant that after tea we have been tending to sit around gaming and eating leftover Christmas chocolate!

So I just have 4 measly things to share that I made in January, only one of which is baked goods but I'm pleased to say that 2 of them are my own ideas for once.

1. Cheese, onion and parsley mashed potato

Now, mashed potato is one of my all time favourite comfort foods, especially during the bleak days of January. Unfortunately, Mike isn't a massive fan, and I hate seeing his little face fall when I plonk a massive dollop of it onto his plate. So I've been trying to jazz it up a bit, and found that adding some grated cheese, fried onions, black pepper and parsley made it a bit more palatable for him. Personally I still prefer it simply with lashings of marge and black pepper!

2. Carrot and Lentil soup

I went a bit lentil crazy for a week, after seeing a few recipes in the Morrisons magazine (so much so that we've still got boxes of lentil curry lurking in the freezer) and this recipe was perfect to try out my new food processor! It really was yummy and super healthy too! Could have done with being a bit thinner, as I just dumped it all into the blender when really I should have processed it in batches. Hey ho, you live and learn!

3. Ham, cheese and tomato tart

I almost never take any notice of the recipes on the side of packets, but this one on the side on the Jus Roll pastry packs caught my eye and I snipped them it a while back. I just added some red and green peppers aswell and it made a really yummy tea along with some salad and new potatoes, felt a bit more like a summery dish, so can't wait to make it again in the summer and eat it sitting in the sun (if we get any!). It was also good to take the leftovers to work in our lunchboxes!

4. White chocolate and cranberry cupcakes

And finally, some baking! I can't believe these were the only thing I baked in January, but I had some white chocolate and some dried cranberries left over from Christmas so thought I'd better use them up, as well as the festive cupcake cases that I never used either! I just added 75g of cranberries and 100g melted which chocolate to my usual vanilla cupcake mix, and topped with white chocolate fudge frosting. Also, have you noticed the spelling mistake in the above picture?! One of Mike's cheeky friends mixed the letters up while he was over the other week!

Anyway, even though the cupcakes and the cheesy mash are very simple creations, I've been so pleased with them because they are my first little steps at being slightly more adventurous! I've always followed recipes so closely because I'm scared of getting thing wrong, so it must show that I'm getting a bit more confident in the kitchen and not as afraid to try things out.

With Valentine's Day and my best friend's birthday around the corner I'm back scouring blogs and magazine for new recipes and feeling ready to get back into the kitchen.

Welcome back baking mojo, I've missed you!

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