I done steamed me a pudding!!

Being a good wife (!!) I told Simon I’d make anything for pudding on Friday night as I had the urge to bake.

Simon told me he wanted spotted dick. After our childish giggles, I turned to my trusy Be-Ro book to find out how this was made and realised what I already knew; spotted dick is a steamed pudding.

Despite my growing baking knowledge, steaming a pudding is something I was yet to do, usually turning to the microwave for syrup sponges and the like. However, I was desperate to score some major wife points so I set about learning how to do it!!

The pudding mix itself was super easy but so was the whole process! I felt like someone’s grandma folding up the baking paper and foil then wrapping it all up in string. I’m not knocking it, I LOVED feeling like someone’s nan!! I also loved the fact that I was steaming a pudding!!

The end result was DELICIOUS. Apologies for the poor photos but hopefully you’ll get the idea :) 

Faithful bloggees might remember a post I wrote in January where I stated myself as the designated birthday cake maker. It came about because I hadn’t had a birthday cake and came to the realisation that it was because I would need to make it myself!

In honour of my newly realised role, I set myself a mission a couple of weeks ago. For Simon’s birthday this year, I was going to make a monkey cake. Now in my house we have the phrase ‘delicious disaster’ coined. This is used to describe the numerous attempts at baking and cooking which just don’t quite work but are then pretty scrumptious. I am definitely more of a delicious disaster kind of person when it comes to kitchen creations; my deserts are known more for their yummyness than their beauty!

However, I decided I wanted to attempt a cake shaped as a monkey; a task which relies entirely on how it looks! I spent a good week working it out in my head. Once I was decided, I created a full scale model with paper, and a labeled diagram of what each componant part would be. I felt fully prepared.

I baked the cakes ready to go on Thursday night, and set to work on my monkey face cake surgery on Friday. Despite me nearly giving up when the icing wouldn’t stick to the sides (solution - add more icing sugar and stick it in the fridge to solidify for a bit!), I couldn’t have been happy with the results. Hope you like it too :)

Who needs to bake…

…when you find these in your back garden? :)

I bought a pineapple the other day using my tried and tested method of checking for ripeness; try to pull out a leaf from the top, if it comes out easily, it’s ripe!

Unfortunately it wasn’t ripe. It was pretty solid and not entirely pleasant to eat. By the time I’d discovered this it was already chopped into pieces so I thought I’d try and leave it to ripen but following a quick google search, I realised that pineapples never ripen.

Not wanting to waste the whole fruit I decided to poach it in some sugar and water just to encourage it to soften. Given that I’m trying to be healthy, the poached pineapple was intented to be the final outcome, but then that overwhelming Sunday urge to bake took over me and here is the result…

Carrot, pineapple and raisin muffins - click here if you want to have a go yourself :) I added some demerara sugar and oats to the top of each, just because I felt like it!

HEALTHY CAKE ALERT!!

Whilst flicking through an old copy of Good Food Magazine last weekend, I stumbled upon the holy grail of many female bakers: a delicious looking chocolate cake claiming to be low fat.

Whilst I know the oxymoronic concept of low fat cake probably offends many baking (and cake) enthusiasts out there, I am also aware of the eternal tug-o-war which goes on in my body. In the red corner we have my ever increasing sweet tooth with the weakness for all things baked, sugar coated, chocolate covered and sticky. In the blue corner we have the intense desire to fit into (and walk around in) my bikini each summer. The two do not go hand in hand, and unfortunately, cake usually wins.

So when this cake presented itself to me, I knew I would have to give it a go. The main body of the cake was a fat-less sponge. This was not new to me, having used them for swiss rolls and the bases of my homemade jaffa cakes in the past. The filling and topping though were a new-to-me combination of 0% Greek yoghurt mixed with light soft cheese. The filling was then flavoured with a little melted chocolate and coffee whilst the topping was simply sweetened with some icing sugar and vanilla extract.

And the outcome? Well, not bad at all to be honest. No, it wouldn’t stand up next to a decadent mud pie, or some kind of scrumptious gateaux. Nor does it even begin to match the deliciousness of the chocolate ganache cake sampled at The Rude Shipyard this week. However, I really enjoyed it regardless. The sponge was exceptionally light and airy. The cream cheese and yoghurt combination was yummy in a refreshing zingy way. And of course, if it’s low fat, you can have an extra big slice… :)

Click on the photo for the recipe then make it and let me know what you think…

Easter baking

Well, I said I’d be back and I am!

The end of term is upon us, hurrah! It’s been a long one. Well, to be honest, it’s only been 6 weeks since the end of the last holidays but it feels like it’s been a long time. Ask any teacher and they’ll always tell you it’s been a long term; that’s just part of teaching.

We always have a training day at the end of term where we moderate coursework and get on with the million jobs we have been meaning to do but haven’t managed to get around to. 6 years ago I made my department chocolate nests to inject a little Easter cheer into the day and now I can’t imagine not whipping up a batch each year.

This year though, with my long baking absence, I decided to do some other treats. The first being yet another attempt at macaroons. These are a definite nemesis of mine and they’re still not quite right. These are really very scrummy, light and airy but lack the sophistication of the jewelled gems seen in French boutique patisseries. That’s okay, I will keep trying!

I also made a batch of spiced fruit biscuits, inspired both by those fab ‘dead fly’ Garibaldi biscuits from a time gone by and also the flavours of a good old hot cross bun. They are dense, sweet, chewy and crispy and above all, crying out to be eaten with a hot cup of tea.

So, how to come back from such a long sabbatical? Well, I was taking a break from baking more than taking a break from blog writing. It is just unfortunate that they go hand in hand. However, the lack of baking was not having the desired effect on my waistline and instead was make me generally unhappy. Therefore, I’m back!

 

This revelation came to me on Sunday morning. I woke up at my beautiful best friend’s house where she was planning a delicious mothers’ day feast including a passion fruit roulade. Now, roulade is not an item within my baking repertoire, nor is it one I know much about. My Maman isn’t a roulade maker although she does make the best swiss roll around. I know they’re not the same, but they both result in a tasty delicious rolled up creation! Plus I’ve heard she’s mastered the art of meringue for pavlovas recently, so perhaps the roulade is her next quest. But I digress; the only knowledge I have of roulade is the incredible ones made by Simon’s band mate’s mum. And by incredible, I mean seriously incredible. Light, fluffy, creamy and moreish creations which I had not wanted to try and recreate in fear of not achieving the same level of scrumminess. However, Jodi inspired me to give it a go.

 

Having decided on pudding, I thought it best we make a proper dinner party of it and again took inspiration from Jodi, remembering the lamb and feta meatballs we feasted on last summer. The sun was trying to peek out last Sunday so I thought I’d try to harness a summer feel. The meatballs are really unique as they’re packed full of mint, parsley and feta, then sprinkled with yet more feta and toasted pine nuts. All of this served with crusty bread.

 

But remember, I’ve not baked for weeks. Weeks for me feels like a lifetime so I made the crusty bread myself too. Remembering a peculiar loaf I had recently seen on the Hairy Bikers programme, I set about plaiting my already risen bread dough into a rather odd shaped loaf, which actually resembled a raw chicken more than a delicious baked bread. Double risen and egg washed; in it went and out it came. A crazy, crunchy, tasty loaf, perfect for mopping up meat ball juices.

 

And there we have it. Next time I say I’m giving up baking, remind me not to be so silly!

How mean; Anja and Ed go and get married without letting us all come along to share in their celebrations. But then they go and make it all better again by throwing the most fabulous happy party to celebrate. This gave me an opportunity to do some party food making, hurrah! What a perfect day: quiche preparing, cake baking, bun icing followed by a beautiful wedding party. Woop!

So, my first attempt at making bagels. They’re not particulary pretty looking, and if I’m honest they don’t taste entirely bagelly, but they’re not bad. In fact, they’re pretty scrummy :) Hurrah!

The year of the holiday

Holidays booked thus far:

February: Diving in Egypt

April: A week in La Tranche

April: A weekend in Paris

August: 3 and a half weeks in La Tranche

Holidays in the dream stage:

December: New York