Friday, 30 September 2011

Pear upside down cake

I'm not a big fan of pears but i love them in this cake (I know I am one of those strange people) its also a cheeky way of getting my kids to eat them but this cake is not for me it is for the in-laws today (they helped with the dreaded MOT, which if you read my last post was due its MOT and Failed so they are helping with the cost of repairs)
I also seem to have lost my deep cake tin so I have used a shallow one for this and I am hoping it goes OK

what you need:
3-4 pears (you may need more it just depends on the size) peeled, cored and cut in half
7oz butter softened (I use softened butter as I no longer own a whisk, it died a deaf after 10 years of use)
7oz caster sugar
3 eggs
8oz self raising flour (sifted)
4 tbsp milk

what you do:
preheat your oven to 170 o'C  and grease your cake tin with butter and place you pears into your cake tin

In a bowl cream your butter and sugar until it is nice pale and creamy

Beat in all your eggs and milk(make sure they are fully incorporated)

Fold in your sifted flour

pour your cake mix over your pears and make sure it even ( I tend to tamp the tin gently on the work
surface to help it get in all the nooks and crannies) smooth over the mix with your spoon.

place it in the oven mine goes on my bottom shelf and I bake mine for 60 - 70 minutes (this is based on my oven so you might want to do a skewer test after 50 minutes)
leave the cake in it tin for 5 minutes then remove and allow to cool on a wire rack

Happy baking

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Ice Fingers

Ok so if you have got this book (The great British bake off how to bake) then you most probably know what I am going to write about, I was sat watching the girls on the bake off making these iced buns and really fancied one but with money being tight this week, (the dreaded MOT week and to boot the car tax needs redoing, stupid I know should have spaced them out)  I thought I would look in the cupboard and see if I have the ingredients and as luck would have it (never seems to be around when I play the lotto though) I have all the ingredients so I thought I would give it a go.

What you need:
2 baking sheets lined with baking paper
500g strong white bread flour
2 x 7g sachets of fast action dried yeast
50g caster sugar
40g unsalted butter
2 large eggs room temp
10g salt salt crushed
150ml lukewarm milk ( a couple of seconds in the microwave does the trick)
100ml water

what you do:
put most of the ingredients into a large bowl keep with your hand until you get a dough. This does take a while so be patient do this until you have a nice smooth dough.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 mins. Please don't be stingy it must be kneaded for the full ten minutes (it helps the yeast and makes a nice smooth dough)
Put some flour into your bowl just a sprinkle (I do this as I once had a bread dough stick to my bowl, this was before I knew I had to knead for 10 minutes but I now do it out of habit) Return the dough to the bowl
and cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for a hour, If you have a nice hot day like we have then stick it outside on a chair and let the sun work for you.
tip you dough out onto a nice and lightly floured work surface and divide your dough into 12, if you want them all to be the same they should weigh about 2 1/2 oz each.

Roll the dough onto balls and then into fingers, now if you have ever played with plasticine and you make a snake its a bit like that, but these need to be about 12 . 5 cm long.

place the fingers onto your baking sheets, make sure you leave space between them. Leave these uncovered  for 40 mins in a warm place.
About 30 mins in the rising time preheat your oven to 200.
Bake on the bottom shelf (again i did this because my oven is old) for about 10 mins. take them out and give them the tap test that you do when baking bread they should sound hollow if they don't then put them bake in the oven again.
Once they are cooked put them straight onto a wire rack to cool

Once they are cool decorate them with icing (icing sugar mixed with water I put lemon juice in mine) let the icing set, now if you want cream and jam in slice them in the middle and put it in.

Ok so mine do not look as good as what they did on the British bake off but they tasted good. Now if you don't eat them on the same day then stick them in the fridge to stop the icing melting. Not sure how long these keep for as mine only lasted 2 days.

Happy Baking

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Royal Icing. Flooding Technique

I have always struggled with getting the icing just right and I still struggle but so far this recipe is the closest I have gotten. You'll have to forgive me with the pictures on the finished biscuit as I did these without nozzles. When I have the right nozzles, hoping to get the decorating bottles as it will be easier with the pressure. I will up load what I have done.

What you need:
2 sachets of egg white powder
20 tbsp water
1 lb sifted icing sugar (keep the bag out as you may need more)

What you do:
In a bowl put your egg white powder and water and whisk until frothy

Mix in your icing sugar a little at a time, your icing should hold stiff peaks when ready and you should be able to draw a line through it with out it merging together. If needs be add more icing sugar.

seperate the icing into bowls (the amount of bows depends on the amount of colours you are using)
Add your colours if your icing goes runny add more icing sugar.
Cover your icing with cling film to prevent it drying out.
Put some of your icing into decorating bottles or piping bags, if you are decorating nozzles use a small round tip. nozzles that are not in use you need to cover with a damp towel.
Do all your out lines first.
Water down your icing with 1/2 a tsp of water so that when you count the icing should merge together when you reach 10, if it does not quite merge give the bowl a shake, if it merges it is fine. if it merges before 6 then add more icing sugar.

Put some of your icing into decorating bottles or piping bags, if you are decorating nozzles use a small round tip. nozzles that are not in use you need to cover with a damp towel.
Fill in your pictures.
Hold your cookies by the strongest point a shake the cookie so that your lines merge, use a needle to pop any air bubble and if the icing has not quite reached the out lines use the needle like a paint brush a spread your icing to the lines.

If you want to add a different colour, that is not raised, to what you have done on your decorated cookie then use your watered down icing pipe it onto your cookie give it a shake.

 To do a raised colour let your cookie dry and then use the icing you would for the out lining and draw on top of your icing.

Any left over icing can be stored in air tight containers with cling film pressed on top of the icing to prevent drying out.
I am not sure how long it can be stored for as I tend to use mine within a couple of days.

Happy Baking


Saturday, 24 September 2011

Basic Sugar Cookie

I love biscuits, who doesn't, and I love making these ones as it is so simple and it can be done 3 ways, by hand, in a food processor or with a whisk. I tend to do this one by hand. This mix can also be made and left in the fridge over night, wrapped in cling film, and used the next day.
the amount you get with these cookies depends on the thickness and the cutter you use so I wont tell you and amount, as I don't always end up with a set amount.
what you need:
4 oz butter soft ( I tend to use Stork)
6 oz icing sugar (sifted)
1 egg ( I tend to crack this into a cup and give it a whisk)
3 tsp flavouring/extract use any that you like
14 oz plain flour (sifted in a separate bowl)
2 tsp baking powder

What you do:
Cream the butter and the sugar together until it is nice and creamy
add the egg and flavouring/extract and mix until it is fully incorporated in to the butter.
add the flour and baking powder and mix. The mix is ready when the dough does not stick to your fingers when touched
I tend to wrap the dough in cling film and rest for a bit in the fridge ( I have never left it longer than 24 hours in the fridge, if you leave it over night in the fridge take it out 10 mins before you want to use it so it can come to room temp then knead it for a few minutes), which means I can get every thing washed up and put away pick the kids up from school, if you want to use it on that same day just give it 5 - 10 minutes in the fridge it just makes it more manageable for rolling.
Pre heat your oven to 190 o'C and line you baking tray/sheet with baking paper
Roll it out (do to a thickness that you like) and cut out your shapes place on your baking tray and cook for 10 - 13 minutes, until they turn to a golden colour.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes and then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely. once they are cooled you can eat or decorate.

Happy baking

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Basic buttercream

Ok so you have your cupcake all cooled and ready for decorating first you are going to have to put a buttercream on. I always used to by the Betty Crocker buttercream, but I thought I would be brave this year and start making my own so in may (as you can see all my baking really started in may) I thought I would give it ago  and here is what it fist looked like

As you can see it is flat (not enough icing sugar) and spotty (this is because the butter split from over mixing)
so I posted on face book and one of my friends, Hannah, told me how to make it and how she does hers, this women has serious talent in cake making and decorating department, so I went out and brought myself a cheap piping bag with nozzles and here is what I managed

I will do another blog about nozzles and what you can do with them later.
So here is a buttercream recipe that i use, i used to weigh it all out but now I tend to go by eye

what you need:
350g butter softened
780g icing sugar sifted in a separate bowl
1 tbsp of extract (your choice)
1 tsp of food colouring if using the liquid/ if using the gel then add a little bit at a time until you get the colour you want.
1 -2 tbsp of milk

what you do:
in a bowl put a couple of spoons of icing sugar, your milk give it a mix so you get a paste  then add your butter and some more sugar ( I tend not to use an electric whisk for this, it helps to prevent splitting) add more sugar, your extract and colour. keep mixing and adding more sugar until you get the consistency that you want. You want it so that when you lift up your spoon it holds in place, like a stiff peak on a meringue mix would.

If you find that it is to stiff add a little milk. try not to mix to much as it will split. It is still usable if it splits it just means it is all dotty.

It is all trial and error and getting it to how you like it, but practice and change it to how it suits you.

Happy baking


A Basic Cupcake

Today is my sons 3rd birthday but because he is not a big fan of the 'typical cake',  but he loves cup cakes so we are having cup cakes for a birthday cake, this is his favourite cup cake and all it takes is five ingredients. You can do this 2 ways, I'll give you both ways but i tend to go for the first one I give you. This generally makes 12 but that is using muffin cases so the amount you get depends on the size case

So what you need is:
150g butter
150g sugar
3 eggs cracked into a cup and beat lightly
175g self raising flour
1 tsp of extract (use any flavour you want)

1. what you do:

Preheat the oven to 150oC ( this is based on my oven so if you try 180oC first and then adjust from there) and line your tin with cupcake cases.
Put all your ingredients into a bowl and mix, you can use an electric mix or you can mix by hand, with this one I tend to do the mixing with a wooden spoon mix until all ingredients are combined and its nice and thick and creamy.

Divide the mix between your cup cake case, I tend to do between 1/2 and 3/4 full, once that is done place them in the oven and bake for 10 - 15 mins.
 You want them to be a nice golden colour on top, springy when touched lightly and a skewer to come out clean.
If you find you have a dome top, then reduce the temperature the next time you make them keep doing this every time you make them until you find you get the flat surface.

Leave them on a tray for a few minutes then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.
once they are cool decorate them

2. what you do: ( I find this way the butter splits and the mix is more runny )
Preheat the oven to 150oC ( this is based on my oven so if you try 180oC first and then adjust from there) and line your tin with cupcake cases.
Cream the butter and the sugar together until light and creamy, add the eggs mix until fully incorporated  then fold in the flour.

 Divide the mix between your cup cake case, I tend to do between 1/2 and 3/4 full, once that is done place them in the oven and bake for 10 - 15 mins.
 You want them to be a nice golden colour on top, springy when touched lightly and a skewer to come out clean.
If you find you have a dome top, then reduce the temperature the next time you make them keep doing this every time you make them until you find you get the flat surface.
Leave them on a tray for a few minutes then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.
once they are cool decorate them

Happy baking

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Jo Manships' Soda Bread

One of my Friends came round at the beginning of the year with some Soda Bread for my other half, never having had it before  thought I would give it a go and O MY GOD I had died and gone to heaven, I just had to have the recipe and so she sent it to me but I didn't make any for absolutely ages then in May I thought sod it I would be brave and give it a go (never having made bread that was not done in a bread machine) and it tasted just as good has hers did, well the inside did the outside was a bit burnt, then I made it again the following weekend and my youngest step son tried some, now if he says its nice then it must be cos he is not my biggest fan, it got to the stage where every other weekend I would make this bread we would have a loaf and my dad would have a loaf. So with her permission I am sharing this with you.
 I will tell you you can get 2 decent size loafs out of this recipe or one large one.

What you need:

1 lb plain flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
1 oz lard
1 - 2 tsp caster sugar
500ml buttermilk

what you do:

Preheat the oven to 200 oC (if you dont have an electric oven look in the section under labels for my coversions regarding ovens)  and butter and slightly flour a baking sheet
(NB must make sure I turn mine on at the wall, we always turn ours off on the wall in case one of the kids try to turn it on even though they know not to)
In a large bowl put the flour, tarter, Bicarb and salt give it a quick mix with your hand,
Add the lard and rub with your hands until it resembles fine bread crumbs
make a well in the centre and add the sugar and the buttermilk and mix (you can either use your hand or a wooden spoon) work this until it is a manageable dough
Flour a worksurface and knead well
If you are making 2 then spilt the dough in half
Place the dough onto your baking sheet, flatten slightly and score the top
Place into your preheated oven and cook for 25 mins or until it sounds hollow.
You may need to adjust the times, if you have read my conversions then you'll understand why, as these times suit my oven.

hope you enjoy this bread as much as me and my family have.

Happy baking

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Oven Temperatures

Ok so another thing I am always having to look up is oven temperatures, I have a electric oven and its very old 10 years to be exact. I have had this since me and my partner got together so in all fairness its owes us nothing and even though it is old and sometimes does not get the right temp (must invest in a oven thermometer) there is just one thing I wish it had is a glass door so that I don't have to keep opening the door and checking on things as I never used to bake so much. So here is a conversion that I go by.

o'C           o'F          Gas Mark
120          250           1/2
140          275            1
150          300            2
160          315           2-3
170          325            3
180          350            4
190          375            5
200          400            6
210          415           6-7
220          425            7
230          450            8
240          475            9


I constantly come across with recipes that call for a cup, and i think what size cup are you using because to me a cup is big but you get those little ones. Then there is the American recipes that call for a stick of butter and i think well how much is a stick of butter. Then there is Australia a table spoon is 20ml but our tablespoons are 15ml.
So here are my conversions

Cup conversions
1 cup of plain/self raising flour, cornflour, custard powder, grated chocolate, raisins, sultanas, icing sugar  = 125g/ 4oz
1 cup butter, passion fruit pulp, caster/granulated sugar  = 250g/8 oz
1 cup desiccated coconut = 90g/3 oz
1 cup flaked coconut = 60g/2 oz
1 cup currents, chopped chocolate, chocolate melts/buttons, = 150g/5 oz
1 cup chopped glace fruit = 240g/7 1/2 oz
1 cup chocolate chips = 175g/6 oz
1 cup hazelnuts = 140g/4 1/2 oz
1 cup chopped hazelnuts = 120g/4 oz
1 cup ground hazelnuts = 110g/3 1/2 oz
1 cup ground almonds, mixed peel = 185g/6 oz
1stick of butter is 4 oz

Liquid Cup Conversions
1/4 cup = 60ml = 2 fluid oz
1/3 cup = 80ml = 2 3/4 fluid oz
1/2 cup = 125ml = 4 fluid oz
3/4 cup = 185ml = 6 fluid oz
1 cup = 250ml = 8 fluid oz

here is my grams to oz (not sure if its right or not but it works for me)
10g = 1/4 oz
30g = 1 oz
60g = 2 oz
90g = 3 oz
125g = 4 oz
150g = 5 oz
185g = 6 oz
220g = 7 oz
250g = 8 oz
275g = 9 oz
300g = 10 oz
330g = 11 oz
375g = 12 oz
400g = 13 oz
425g = 14 oz
475g = 15 oz
500g =  1 lb
600g = 1 1/4 lb
650g = 1 lb 5 oz
750g = 1 1/2 lbs
1kg = 2 lbs

Friday, 16 September 2011

My first ever blog

Hello and welcome
please bear with me as I am new to this, I have never done a blog before. I have wanted to for ages but I have never had the courage to do so.  I am just gonna tell you a bit about myself. I am a stay at home mum of three wonderful children my oldest has just started primary school and my youngest is coming up 7 months old. I started baking when I was a teenager always using the boxes my first proper cake that I made was a basic sponge with strawberry and cream filling but I forgot the strawberries, then I got onto banana loafs and that was it until I moved in with my partner and then I would bake an odd cake when his children would visit, but it did take my until this year to find I have a passion for it, so I have started teaching myself things so nearly every couple of days I am finding myself in our kitchen baking and just giving them away. I was even brave enough to make some cakes for my sons sports day.
So I am going to pass on the things that I have learnt or making and maybe do a book review or 2 as I love reading, especially on the days when I get banned from baking.