Monday, 31 October 2011

Meringue Ghosts

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is one of my all time favourite times of year, coming just after Christmas and my birthday in the pecking order. I have such fond childhood memories associated with Halloween. When I was little we used to have epic Halloween parties every year. We lived in a pretty rough neighbourhood so my Mum didn't like the idea of us trick or treating, so she would pull out all the stops and invite all of our school friends round to party it up!

My Dad would play Michael Jackson's Thriller on repeat all night, it was on LP rather than tape or CD so it involved a lot of standing by the record player and lifting the needle back and forth. Those were the days eh?
I remember my sister would always go as a witch and I would go as a vampire, to be honest it was probably just one year but that is the one that stuck in my head.

The food was always classic kids party fayre, sausage rolls, mini sandwiches, crisps, and a cheese and pineapple stick creation made from half a melon and some tin foil...Remember those? Awesome.
One day when I have kids of my own I cannot wait to plan parties and pull out all the stops!

This weekend I decided to get all Halloween in the kitchen and made meringue ghosts and cupcakes. Unfortunately I will not be blogging about the disastrous cupcakes, needless to say they were so bad I actually threw them away! *shudder*

The meringue ghosts on the other hand were a triumph...

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The ultimate comfort pie...

I have never been a huge savoury pie fan, I don't really know why. I love pastry, but fill it with mince beef or creamy chicken and my taste buds just turn off.

There is one special exception to this self imposed rule though, and that is the humble corned beef and potato pie. I know corned beef has a bad reputation and believe me I have had a few people turn their noses up at the mere mention of my corned beef and potato pie, but I defy anyone to turn their nose up after they taste it! It is pure comfort and joy wrapped in a warm pastry coat!

Shortcrust pastry is one of my favourite things to make, it is so simple yet so satisfying. My shortcrust recipe is pretty simple, I have no idea where it came from as I have it scribbled down on a piece of paper that floats around my kitchen but it has been adapted a lot over the years...


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Baking Mad With ...

I got a rather interesting email today, so I thought I would share it with you; my lovely readers. I don't know if any of you saw the Channel 4 series "Baking mad with Eric Lanlard"? I caught a couple of episodes and it was pretty good.
Some parts were a little corny but I picked up a few great tips on cake baking and decorating.

Anywhoo, here is the email...


Monday, 24 October 2011

All the fun of the festival!

I live for the weekends, the promise of uninterrupted all day kitchen time makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I had a cracking weekend this weekend! Lots of cooking and baking on Saturday (blog posts to follow) followed by a trip to the fantastic Durham Food Festival on Sunday.

There were a lot of wonderful food related stalls to behold, from meat, preserves, local beer and cider, to cake, meringues and all things bake-related. I bet you can tell which ones I headed straight for?
There was also a craft section, but I have to be honest and say it was rather underwhelming. Very old-fashioned, over-priced and lacking in variety.

I got chatting to a lady from one of the lovely cupcake stands, Cupcake & Co.(pictured on the left)
I mentioned that I wrote a food blog, and asked permission to take a few photos (I always think its more polite to ask, even though most stand holders commented that nobody ever does) She asked for details of my blog so she could read and when I mentioned the name she recognised it! She had read it before!
I felt all famous for a minute or two, totally made my day.
I also have to mention that her cupcakes were delicious! The Chocolate Marble variety was particularly decadent.

I also found a cupcake stall that was selling edible glitter and sprinkles, I couldn't resist buying a few bits and bobs. (pictures in the middle) Glass Slipper Bakery were also selling cupcakes, cakepops and cakepop kits to try and make them yourself.

Oh and I couldn't not mention the lovely Wham Bam Meringue (pictured on the right), the strawberry meringue I sampled was melt-on-the-tongue fantastic, so light and flavourful. Plus the bonus of it being gluten and fat free.

And now down to the most exciting bit of the day...


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Battenburg and the loss of my baking mojo...

I had a terrible baking weekend, I felt like everything that could possibly have gone wrong, went wrong. Well, maybe it wasn't as bad as all that but it sure felt like it.
I was baking some delicious goodies for my friends Jamie at Home party. (Like a Tupperware party but with Jamie Oliver stuff) I have never baked for a party or occasion before so was a little nervous.

I had wanted to not only bake something delicious but also something pretty so I could show off some of my new skills! But alas, it just wasn't meant to be...


Monday, 10 October 2011

A bit of a scone fail.

My first foray into the world of scones was not a successful one, it was entirely my fault and nothing to do with the fabulous recipe from Edd Kimber.

The dough/scone mixture itself was lovely, looked exactly as it should and I had the highest of hope. However, I realised when it came to cutting out that I didn't have a circular cutter! I had every other shape under the sun from dinosaurs to Christmas trees but alas no circle.

I decided to use a glass instead, so searched my cupboard for something of the right size and settled on my Disney's Camp Rock tumbler (Yes it is mine, no I don't have children.) However, it turns out the thick glass doesn't make for a good scone cutter...


Saturday, 8 October 2011

Weekly Bake-off: Bakewell Bonanza!

This weeks Bake-off challenge was from page 96 of Mary Berry's 100 cakes and bakes; Bakewell Tray Bake.

I am a massive fan of Mr Kipling's bakewell tarts, they are always my go-to cake treat at the supermarket. Unbelievably I have never attempted to make anything bakewell related myself.

Needless to say I was over the moon when this challenge was announced and jumped at the chance to make it....

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Craft North East: How I went cupcake crazy!

As I am sure you have all noticed by now, I am a little obsessed with baking (and blogging about baking).
I spend a lot of my time perusing new recipes, checking out other foodie blogs and making mental lists of things I want to try and bake in the future.

However, some items on my mental lists never make it into my kitchen. Mainly because I am scared, I am big scared-y cat! I see beautiful bakes and drool-inducing photographs and that little voice in my head screams "You could never make something THAT good!" and a lot of the time I listen to that little voice and don't even try!

I have decided that enough is enough! Watching the Great British Bake-off and talking to lovely people on twitter has convinced me that with a bit of practise and a lot of perseverance I can achieve anything I put my mind to! -With the exception of maybe Macaroons, those little suckers look hard!

One thing I have always wanted to try was icing. I wanted to make my cupcakes look pretty as well as be delicious and my past attempts left a little to be desired.

I mean these little cakes were delicious but look like they were iced by a five year old! I may have even lied to people and told them I had a child in the kitchen with me! I needed some serious help in the presentation department!

So imagine my delight when I saw a tweet for a cupcake decorating workshop! It was affordable and being held locally in Newcastle upon Tyne! Needless to say I jumped at the chance.

I even went on my own, which is something I would never normally do....


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Autumn in muffin form.

As previously mentioned, Autumn is my favourite time of year. Great clothes, great weather, and most of all great flavours! My house pretty much smells of cinnamon and nutmeg from September until January, I would bath in the stuff if I could!

After my recent crumble success I decided to get a little experimental and use up some left over ingredients. I had a huge stack of chopped apple and loads of crumble topping left over. I had already made three crumbles and really wanted to try something different. So I flipped through some recipe books, and came across a recipe for toffee apple muffins (James Martin). Then I remembered seeing on Browned Eyed Baker that she had used crumble topping on muffins. An idea started to take shape.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Weekly Bake-off challenge one: Carrot cake with mascarpone topping.

I heard about a great weekly bake-off challenge on twitter, It seemed the like the perfect way to get over the eventual heartache that will come once the Great British Bake Off is finished. *sobs*
Although I have heard rumours of a possible celebrity bake off! Which I am pretty excited about. Who do you think they will get as contestants?

Anywhoo back to the weekly bake-off...
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