Bake Your Cake and Eat It

Sat at the Bumbleblue desk, I was hard at work painting some fabric Christmas puddings. In my cupboard that houses a bit of everything, I found some jute fabric and thought it would make a fabulous base for a Christmas pud.

I started to think about puddings in general and in particular, cake. By the time I got round to sticking the little red button berries on, I couldn’t stop thinking about cake so a little impromptu baking session was necessary!

I’ve still not mastered the art of baking the perfect cake but I’m keeping it simple and thinking that with a bit of practice, one day I will be whisking up sponges and fruit cakes a-plenty!

A little peek through the old cook books and I found what looked like a straight forward, no frills recipe to follow for a madeira cake. Feeling very adventurous and brave, I decided to add a few (a whole pot of) yummy cherries.

 

The fact that it came out of the oven looking like a cake was amazing – but even more incredible was it looked like a cake on the inside too! Granted all the cherries I put in had sunk to the bottom, but I had made a cake that looked, smelt and tasted like a cake so this wasn’t going to get me down.

Happy cake-baking days!

Afternoon Tea

I’m sure most people are aware by now, that when it comes to baking cakes I’m no Mary Berry. Still, I keep hoping one day that natural instinct to bake fabulous cakes and biscuits will kick in.

It doesn’t seem as though today was that day.

I’ve tried scones twice before and neither attempt was that successful. I forgot the eggs the first time, creating scones so hard you could have used them to build houses with. The second batch included all the right ingredients and would have been the right consistency. Would have if I hadn’t rolled them out as thin as biscuits thinking they would rise. I had created what I named ‘scone-scuits’; all the taste of a scone in the handy size and shape of a biscuit (Dragons Den here I come!)

I can honestly say I don’t know what happened with my latest batch. I followed the recipe carefully and stuck to the method. When the recipe told me to ‘…turn the dough-like mixture out onto a lightly floured surface…’ I slopped out a wet, gooey and sticky mess. I’m guessing too much milk.

After using what must have been my body weight in flour, I managed to cut out some scones and get them into the oven. They looked a bit pasty going in…

…At least they came out smelling yummy. They won’t win any W.I rosettes but I’m sure they’ll go down a treat with a cup of tea.

 

Oats So Yummy

After being busy with my day job and orders from the website, I put aside an afternoon to have a bit of time off. It’s great to be busy, but sometimes it’s nice to be selfish with my time.

I decided to give some baking a go and this time, it was my Mums flapjack recipe. When I think of flapjack, I picture yummy, golden, oaty loveliness. A little bit gooey with crunch round the edge and a perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea! Also a perfect excuse to use my new scales.

As I was melting the butter, I started to think about where the idea for flapjack first came from (like you do) Was it an accidental spillage of someones porridge into a cake mix?

Curiosity always gets the better of me and I reached for the laptop. Would you believe it actually originated in Britain, and the name flapjack was being used as early as the 17th Century but at that time, it described something similar to an apple tart. It wasn’t until around 1935 that the humble flapjack took the rolled oats form we know today.

So there you go! Back to my melting butter and the rest of the ingredients…

 

12 oz Butter

16 oz Oats

1 Pinch of Salt

6 oz Sugar

6 tsp Golden Syrup

First melt the butter slowly in a pan. Once it’s all melted, take it off the heat and stir in the sugar and syrup.

Stir in the salt and then the oats last. Mix this all well.

Pour onto your baking tray – not too thin, we want a bit of gooey in the middle!

Put into a preheated oven, gas mark 4 for around 30 – 35 minutes or until golden.

Absolutely delicious and simple enough to make even myself feel like a bit of a chef.

Happy baking!

 

Crumble Delicious

Even though I haven’t really had time to turn around over the last few weeks, I found the time the other night to have another baking session.

I love the idea of baking. Sunshine pouring into the kitchen, birds singing, fresh washing on the line blowing slightly in the breeze….I’m inside effortlessly beating eggs into a perfect victoria sponge – which comes out of the oven complete with cream, strawberries and a dusting of icing sugar.

Ok, so not quite brave enough to tackle a cake yet – my history of icing is enough to warn me off trying to bake a full cake. It ressembled a drizzle cake and I had more icing on the plate than the cake itself. Not very Delia Smith I assure you! However, it seems I’m a master of the crumble. This little beauty was baked to perfection and tasted just as perfect warm with a dollop of yummy vanilla ice cream. Go on, give it a try!

Ingredients;

1kg cooking apples

60g soft brown sugar

half teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tbsp orange juice

180g plain flour

60g sugar

90g butter

Preheat oven to gas mark 6. Peel cooking apples, cut them in half and cut out the cores. Slice them and cook them in a saucepan with the orange juice, spice and brown sugar until soft.

Pour them into a pie dish and spread evenly.

For the crumble, sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small bits and addto the flour. Rub the butter into the flour with fingertips until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Mix in the sugar, spread the crumble over the apples and bake for around 30 – 40 minutes.

Yum, yum, yum…

Been Baking

This weekend, I swapped my paint brushes for a wooden spoon and attempted to make shortbread.

It was the perfect day for it. Outside it was miserable, grey and the rain was pouring down. I felt quite snug in my warm kitchen with a big mug of tea. Even the cat had taken refuge on my chair and had curled himself into the cushions. Not a day to be outside.

Not being an accomplished baker of biscuits, I wasn’t sure what all the terms meant, and being too excited to create something edible, I made my first mistake.

I now know that when a recipe says to ‘soften’ something, it’s something entirely different to ‘melt’. So, one gooey lot of mixture down the drain, I started again, this time letting the butter ‘soften’ on it’s own.

I had a bit of a stab at how to go about ‘creaming’ my butter and sugar together, but eventually ended up on the phone to mum.

My mum’s a bit of a genius.No matter how random the question, she always has a calm yet matter of fact reply that is always right. Do mums have training or is this something that automatically kicks in, in your forties?

How to remove any type of stain, how to turn up a hem to any desired length, the perfect recipe for a victoria sponge without a book …. All skills, I’m afraid, mum hasn’t biologically passed onto me!

After being calmed down by mum, and another cup of tea later, I somehow ended up with a mixture that looked like it should do. Back on the phone again to see how long to leave it in the oven – Surely ten minutes isn’t long enough?

Twenty mintues later, my little cookery journey was at an end, and after making EVERYONE try a bit, my shortbread wasn’t half bad!

If you fancy having a go, this is a yummy recipe – and if I can do it, I think it’s safe to say anyone can!

Ingredients;

500g Butter, softened (not melted)

200g Caster Sugar

2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

500g Plain Flour.

1. Preheat oven to gas mark 4.

2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.

3. Stir in vanilla and add flour. Beat the mixture until all ingredients are incorporated.

4. Flatten your mixture onto a baking tray to about 1cm thickness and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

5. Once your biscuit is cool enough to handle, transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. Cut up into small finger portions and enjoy with a big cup of tea.

Happy Baking!