Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Long Walk, Delicious Scones and the story of how we met Spot.

This past Saturday myself and my friend decided to redo a hike that we had done this time last year. It's a day long hike that covers c. 20km but that's 20km of constant hills!! The last time we did this hike it poured rain from the heavens, we got drowned and the whole experience was more akin to torture than our planned mini holiday. Therefore we set off to conquer this hike without carrying a paddling pool in our boots.

The walk was absolutely brilliant. It was quite tiring, some of those hills just go on forever, but it was a wonderful experience and the views were just amazing!

The view from the top of one mountain
A wonderful long hike like this deserves a delicious treat at the end though and this came in the form of my triple berry scones. Scones + Butter + hot cup of tea = best way to finish any day of outdoors activity.


Recuperation perfected!

Triple Berry Scones

250g    Bread Flour
150g    Plain Flour
25g      Dark Brown Sugar
75g      Granulated White Sugar
1 tsp     Baking Powder
1 tsp     Baking Soda
60g       Butter (Room Temperature)
2           Eggs (Medium)
100ml   Milk
1/2tsp   Lemon Extract
75g       Fresh Raspberries
75 g      Fresh Blueberries
50g       Chopped Fresh Strawberries

Preheat your oven to 205C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Sieve together the flours, baking powder and baking soda. Add the sugar and mix thoroughly.

Add the 1/2 tsp of lemon extract to the milk. Mix, let sit for a few minutes and then beat in the eggs.

Chop up your butter into pieces and then rub these into the flour. You will know it has been thoroughly incorporated when the mixture resembles very tiny bread crumbs with no big pieces.

Making a well in the center of the dry ingredients add the wet mixture and mix to incorporate. The mixture may seem a little dry at first but do not add any more liquid.  

At this point knead your mixture until it goes smooth. If using a stand-mixer, take care not to over knead, stop once the mixture is fully incorporated and coming away from the bowl up onto the bread hook.

Then flour your berries (plain flour) and, leaving a few raspberries to the side, pour the berries into the bowl and continue to mix just until they are evenly throughout the mixture. Stop mixing and add the rest of the raspberries in halfs, then mix gently with a spoon. The mixture will be VERY wet and messy but that's alright, just trust me on this one.

Gently divide the mixture into 9 even portions and roll these gently placing them on a lined baking sheet.

Let the unbaked scone sit for 10 minutes before smoothing with a damp pastry brush, egg wash at this point if you prefer. Then bake for 20 minutes or until they are browned and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Then Enjoy ;)

As close as I've ever come to the original avoca inspiration!

Could you say no?
So Spot! Well Spot(not her real name) was a little friend that we encountered at the end of the long day of hiking. As we entered the last hour, and the last big hill, myself and my friend were warmly greeted by the cutest little dog, jumping up on us and wagging her tail. We searched in vain for our little friends owner and even walked about 15mins backwards adding to our hike but unfortunately no-one could be found.  
We had a hard decision to make but we couldn't dream of leaving this little creature in the woods alone, so Spot joined us for the end of our hike.
She came home with us that night and spent one night away from home before we found the owner via a microchip registration. She was the sweetest most gentle little creature and only wanted love and attention. So although it added significantly to our hike and kept me from my scones for a while, this little face was the highlight of the whole walk.

This reminds me I must say a massive thank you to Lucy for giving me a Kreativ Blogger Award. I will be posting again tomorrow and will write further about her then. In the mean-time I hope you enjoy the scones and the story =)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

AlcoCake Pops - These are my new favourite things

This story starts a few months ago, so please forgive me if I ramble a bit. I had been on a trip to Northern Ireland. As so often during my masters in Belfast, I decided to stock up on the amazing baking products that UK stores have so readily available and southern irish stores are lacking. Among the many things that I bought were some bags of different flavoured candy covering. I left the bags in the cupboard until about 2 months ago. During a time when I was off chocolate and sweets but craving sweetness I opened the orange flavoured candy covering and was immediately hit by inspiration - cointreau cake pops with orange candy covering!

I stewed the idea for a while and looked for a good opportunity to try it out. My brother's 21st birthday was coming up and I thought this was a good opportunity to try them on others. I spoke with my brother and he said the concept was grand but he appeared unenthused. This didn't discourage me as I was full to the brim with enthusiasm and confidence about my idea.

I planned every detail from another trip up north to get ingredients and equipment (cake-pop sticks are not easy to find here) down to the precise proportion of alcohol to cake. The whole process and the recipe (also adapting a lactose free version for myself) took up all the imagining time I had in the gym for a while.

Finally last week the birthday arrived and I spent days making the alco-cake pops and decorating them and then the moment of truth arrived and I presented the pops to my brother and the party-goers. And the result? My brother said they looked amazing and tasted really really good. He seemed to be properly impressed and happy with the outcome and his friends all ate them up. In fact everyone who tried them had the same the reaction so it's safe to say that these were a success...... now to concoct other flavours ;)

Three different covering types
Chocolate Orange Alco-cake Pops

800g Good Dark Chocolate Cake
250ml Double Cream (Alpro Fresh Soy Cream if you're tending away from lactose)
3/4 Tbsp Cointreau
1 tsp lemon extract
34 cake pop sticks
300g orange candy covering or chocolate

Crush up your cake until it's in large crumbs. Add the cointreau into the cream and mix it gently then let it sit for a few minutes. You can whip the cream until it forms peaks (if using ordinary cream). Fold the cake into the cream until you cannot see any white in the mixture. Form the mixture into 34 balls and let them sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Melt a small amount of your candy covering or chocolate and dip the tops of your cake pop sticks before sticking them upside down into the balls. Let these rest in the fridge again for another 30 minutes.

Then melt the rest of your candy covering, stand your alcocake pops upright in some styrofoam (or a box with holes poked in it) and decorate. I dipped some and did a squiggle design on others. My brother actually preferred the squiggle and I think they look more adult somehow. Here they are anyway so you decide.

Wanna bite??

(More pictures coming soon)

So.........that went well......but I'm back with a bang!

At the start of the year I said that I would try to post more regularly and......yeah....that didn't happen =/ Finishing this doctorat...