Love cakes and baking? Me too!

Welcome to my blog! I hope you enjoy reading about my efforts in the kitchen!

Friday, 25 April 2014

A tantalising glimpse of my behind...

...the scenes cake.
Perhaps that's a rather odd title for a cake, but, to some at least, it may sound a bit more appealing than plain old "lemon cake with lemon cheesecake icing".

Behind-the-scenes cake
Allow me to explain why I'm calling it "behind-the-scenes cake"....

A good quote that I came across recently reads as follows:
"The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel"
It is certainly true that, in the world of social media, we like to put our best foot forward, to project success, and to share our "highlight reel" with the world. When we blog, tweet or update our status, on some level, we're really engaging in a form of self-promotion, from the "#humble brag" to out-and-out, unashamed gloating. Am I wrong? For my part, I've censored any perceived "#baking fails", and generally only blogged about "successful" items I've baked (i.e. things that I think look pretty, professional and inviting), but times they are a-changin'. In the past, I might have omitted the above cake on the basis that it's quite ugly, but now, here I am exposing it to you. You'll just have to trust me when I tell you that it does taste delicious - really moist and tangy, and the mascarpone, cheesecake filling with lemon pulp is lovely. I used a Mary Berry recipe which was featured in a BBC masterclass. You can find it here:

The recipe says to use four free-range eggs, but it doesn't specify whether to use small, medium or large eggs. With my new-found confidence in tweaking recipes and making bold, big-girl baking decisions for myself (see blog below), I decided to throw in an extra egg (I used five medium eggs). This seemed to work well. I also substituted butter for margarine. Is there no stopping me now? 

To make the cake look more pretty, professional and inviting, I would recommend sifting the fondant icing sugar before adding the lemon juice. This will result in a smoother, glossy finish without unsightly lumps. 

 As you can see from this cross-section, my sponge layers aren't very even, as a I made a bit of a hash of slicing each sponge in half. I think I'll use a serrated knife next time.

Anyway, I hope you haven't objected to me exposing my lumpy, behind-the-scenes bits with you. Let's hope it doesn't count as over-sharing.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

White chocolate fudge with red berries - *my own* oh-so-easy recipe

Two years ago, I'd never have had the courage to freestyle in the kitchen. Not even a little bit. I followed every recipe absolutely to the letter in an almost OCD-like fashion. So imagine my pride in devising and creating something all of my own in the kitchen this Easter (albeit only modestly adventurous in its scope... and... alright, quite similar Nigella's rich, dark chocolate recipe for "Chocolate Pistachio Fudge").

White chocolate and red berry fudge

Nevertheless, having made some substitutions and altered quantities to make these fruity beauties, I can happily share the ingredients and method with you knowing that I cannot be accused of plagiarism...

400g of white chocolate (I used milkybars)
1 x 387g can of condensed milk
30g butter
60g* freeze dried berries - I used strawberries and raspberries that were left over from my white choc Valentine's day heart.

* Ideally, increase the volume for berries. I reckon you could take it up to 120g to get the optimum sweet, white choc:tart berry ratio. I only used this small quantity of fruit as that's all I had left over.

1) break the chocolate into squares and put it in a heavy-based saucepan with the condensed milk and butter over a low heat, stirring constantly (white chocolate has a lower boiling point than milk/dark chocolate so it burns easily).

2) Remove from the heat and stir in the berries, mixing well.

3) Pour the mixture into a small foil tray and smooth over the top so that it looks level.

4) Let the fudge cool, then refrigerate it until it's set.

5) Once it's set, cut it into large cubes.

6) Give it to someone you love (could be yourself), and they'll love you right back provided they have a very sweet tooth...

This is a very "full-on", sweet fudge, and not for the faint-hearted! One cube is usually sufficient to take the edge off any sugary craving, I find. Whilst I'm pleased with the outcome, especially given the moderate free-styling, I'll certainly look to increase the amount of fruit in any future batches in order to balance the flavours more effectively.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

# "Two hearts for eatin' together...

...I'm in love, a-whooo...!" Soz, I couldn't resist a cheeky Kylie reference! Sorry I've not posted in a while - this Valetine's post is loooong overdue! I can scarcely believe that I've not baked anything since February (although, strictly speaking, the items below aren't baked).

So... above on the left (or should I say "in the brown corner"), you have my classic, milk chocolate Rocky Road with, Maltesers, mini marshmallows, mars bar slices, cornflakes, raisins and dried apricots. It occurred to me after making this heart-shaped creation that I ought to have have put the marshmallows on last to make this love token a little more aesthetically pleasing (in fact, that's what I did when I recreated it a week later as a gift for my parents). There's a whole lotta brown going on there and it ain't pretty (but it's mighty tasty, and my other half needed no persuasion to tuck right in). On the right, you have a variation on my snowy road/Rudolph's rocky runway: white chocolate replete with freeze-dried strawberries, raspberries and rose petals giving it a festive Valentine's appearance. Much prettier than it's milk chocolate counterpart.

Both love hearts were decorated within an inch of their lives...