Monday, December 16, 2013

Snow-flake zimtsterne:: Preparing for Christmas german style

It's advent again that wonderful time of the year when we prepare ourselves for the approaching holiday season. I have never been a big one for advent calendars, we used to get one when we were children but usually something vaguely religious and rarely with chocolate or sweets. None-the-less I thoroughly enjoy this time of year. I revel in the traditions and preparations for the holiday season.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cookies part 2: less healthy but very tasty oatmeal raisin

It's December!! The count-down begins to the baking and food extravaganza that is Christmas. I will of course be partaking, as usual, although with my new location to consider and traveling with food a less than appealing process I imagine that my baking will be condensed into about 24-48hrs when I return home before Christmas Day. I will inevitably share some of the spoils with you in perhaps a Christmas round-up type post.

However now we can return to the second of my cookie series. A less healthy attempt at the oatmeal raisin cookie. These cookies were fun to make, particularly so because I was making them in the dark. For some reason, while our electricity worked perfectly, our kitchen lights fell into darkness last week, which made for entertaining baking and actually quite interesting photography.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Breaking the plans: winter cold beater

Sorry folks there has been a change from our regularly scheduled programming for something much needed at this time of year. It's the time of year when colds and flu run rampant and yet there is no slow down on the demands or deadlines. What is a girl to do?!!

Well they say that the best defense is a strong attack and I belief that in this situation that is very true so let me share with you a recipe that I have been using for a few years to keep colds and flu away, even cure them once they've started. Nope, this is not chicken soup but it does warm the soul. What you might even enjoy more if you are of a certain dietary inclination is that, not only does it not contain meat, but it contains no dairy or animal products at all and can even be made raw if you so wish.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Healthy Oatmeal Cookies

It's no secret that I admire Alton Brown. If there is a baking based episode of 'Good Eats,' that I haven't seen I would be surprised, and quite excited to watch it! In fact, the photo in my title is one of cookies that I made altered from his 'the chewy one' cookie recipe. The episode in which he focuses on chocolate chip cookies. In this episode he explores three different types of cookies; the cakey cookies, the chewy cookie and the thin and crispy cookie. This has inspired me to do a miny cookie series.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Welcome to winter

November is still fall in the states but here it's considered the first month of winter and oh boy can we tell?! It is freezin'!! Strangely it never ceases to surprise me when the temperature appears to shift dramatically overnight and all of a sudden it's a new season. That's definitely what happened here but I am not complaining because I love, love wearing comfy hoodies and winter scarves!

During these colder months one is more inclined to answer the call of the couch and the cake which while we all know is immensely enjoyable may lead to a certain sense of guilt. Well here at TVandCookies it is an aim to make it possible to have dessert any and every day and this is one of those recipes! This banana apple bread is a delicious slice of winter flavour without the guilt trip that cake can so often involve, in fact with these mini versions you can have and eat your whole cake! Another nice element of this bake is that it uses up otherwise less appetizing fruit and I now look forward to seeing browning and black bananas on my kitchen counter.

Monday, November 4, 2013


This week for a bit of a change I'm trying something different. As I mentioned I recently moved to England and this opens up a whole new world of cafes, bakeries and restaurants to my awaiting palate. Therefore I feel that I should include this in this little blog and share a little more of my life. So I'll start today with a little review of a cafe that we visited on a recent trip to Sheffield.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ch-ch-ch-changes and double chocolate chip

So it's been a month.........oops! Honestly there have been some big changes in my life and this has not facilitated blogging, although it should because changes are interesting. Therefore in an attempt to make amends (idk will it?!) I will fill you in on what's been going on and some of the highlights of the last month. But since this is a baking blog it's only right to give you a delicious recipe and set of photos to enjoy as we go.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Breaking Bad macarons and new review

Like so many other people at the moment I am in the middle of the 'Breaking Bad' last few episode mania, every episode that comes out only serves to make the craving stronger, I need to know what's going to happen, I need to know. Safe is to say the obsession has been reignited and with the imminent end approaching all too quickly (yet not quickly enough somehow) it feels like it's a flame so strong that it engulfs everything.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Making your own silicone moulds

When you meet a wonderful significant other there is sometimes a double down good outcome because that person has wonderful friends. When I met my handsome, kind and considerate bf I had the honor of being introduced to his welcoming, kind and considerate friends. One of perks of my long time relationship with my bf has been getting to a place where I can call them my friends too, they really are awesome, but I'll stop gushing. Last weekend one of these awesome people called me with an idea - why not throw a surprise party for my bf, long before his birthday, and after the initial shock I thought this was genius. There have been a few surprise birthday parties for my bo (one memorable one including a fountain of cheese!) so he may suspect things if we are sneaking around close to his birthday but miles before it, well I was completely on-board!!

 The only issue was getting together a party in a week and in particular preparing the chess birthday cake that has been promised for the last year!! To the internet - I found chess chocolate moulds easily enough but getting them delivered to where I live was a much bigger problem. Hmm........... maybe I can buy a chocolate chess set, I found one before, so back to the internet. I find a blog post claiming that a local sweet shop was stocking them, the next morning I'm scouring the shelves for anything resembling chocolate chess pieces. I left the store defeated and moved on to the baking stores, every baking store in the city!! I returned home without a mould, but not empty-handed! Silli.creations are a company that give you the ingredients to make your own moulds in any shape you want. So I had a new plan, an opportunity to learn a new skill and a chance to pass my new found knowledge onto you, everybody wins!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Trying a new carrot cake recipe

Recently I had an opportunity to go to an amazing event - a cake and tea tasting evening in the bakery called Carynas cakes. The teas were supplied by the wonderful kingfisher tea with whom I have been obsessed for years. If you ever get a chance to buy anything from them, go for the winter apple and you will thank me!! They advertise it as tasting 'like an apple pie in a cup,' and they are not lying!

Anyway back to the cakes.... so among the many, many delicious cakes prepared by Caryna there was one incredible carrot cake. This cake was beyond words, but I will try, perfect crumb, moist yet light, sweet but not too sweet and, of course, enveloped in the rich, sweet and tart cream cheese frosting that must adorn all good carrot cakes. My boyfriend was immediately enamored by this cake. I managed to get a piece and a half, after my first piece broke, and he stole practically all my cake!

Therefore I knew I needed to get the recipe, so I approached the talented baker at the end of the night and asked about the recipe but I was told that the recipe was top-secret. fair because the cake is awesome. However I cannot stand by and watch another girl making cake that gets that kind of reaction from my man! Therefore I experimented with some recipes given the information that I had and here is my version of the deliciousness

Moist and delicious Carrot Cake cupcakes (inspire by Caryna's Cake and adapted from this)

400g Carrots
150g Pineapple
260g Cake Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
150ml vegetable oil
3 eggs
350g Sugar (yeeeeah, so, these are not low calorie! You've been warned)
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g Walnuts chopped

1- Wash and peel carrots, shredd carrots in a food processor (or with a hand grater). Add the pineapple into the food processor and chop the two together. Or if working by hand chop the pineapple very small, then add to the pineapple and chop both together until very finely chopped.

2 - Line a colander with clean kitchen paper. Pour in the carrot and pineapple mixture and cover over with more kitchen paper. Now squeeze out as much liquid as physically possible and leave sitting while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

3 - Preheat your oven to 180'/350'F. Sieve together the flour, baking powder,soda, salt and cinnamon.

4 - Beat together the eggs and sugar, then add this, the oil and vanilla extract to the flour mixture and mix to combine. Add the dried carrots and pineapple along with the chopped walnuts and mix again to combine.

5 - Line your muffin tray with cupcake liners, or else you could make a cake and grease your tin.

6 - Bake in the oven - 15 minutes for cupcakes, 40 for a large cake.

7 - Cool on a wire wrack and cover in delicious cream cheese frosting.

8 - Enjoy ;)

Just look at that crumb!

Just more proof of how crumbly it is

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wedding dress cupcakes

This weekend I was celebrating the upcoming nuptials of a good friend of mine. It's lovely to see two people that are so wonderful together getting married. This is one of those couples that serve as almost a way-mark for a healthy relationship. In fact I know more than one inspirational couple that got engaged recently. This particular friend is a brilliant combination of practical, hard-working, optimistic and well-balanced and I don't mind telling you that on several occasions during my relationship I have considered what she might do in any given situation when making choices. So now I'm gushing a bit but it is sweet to see people getting their happily ever after.

In celebration of this wonderful occasion I wanted to gift my friend with a special treat and, when asked, she specifically requested red velvet cupcakes. Therefore I present my red velvet wedding dress cupcakes...

The cream cheese frosting has the perfect texture and finish to look silky smooth on the outside while sitting like the skirt on a dress that has been put down and it bunched up on itself.

You will need:
Gum paste
short lollipop sticks
pearl 100s & 1000s
thing ribbon ( in your choice of colour)
a flower press
a rolling pin
corn starch
thick icing and a piping bag
a cutting tool
a ball ended tool
Cake simmer sprinkles
a small paint brush
+ ingredients as listed below

The red velvet cupcakes

275g Plain flour
25g Good quality cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
115g butter (at room temperature)
150g white caster sugar
150g brown caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 whole egg + 2 egg yolks
200ml milk
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp Natural yoghurt
1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
2 tsp red food colouring

1- Preheat the oven to 170'/325'/Gas mark 3.
2- Sieve together the flour, baking soda, cocoa and salt.
3- In a separate jug whisk together the milk, yoghurt and lemon juice. Then add the vinegar and let it sit.
4- In a third bowl, or a stand mixer (I know we're making lots of washing up here!), beat together the butter, sugars and vanilla essence
5- Add the eggs and a tiny bit of the flour to the eggs and beat until smooth
6- Add the red food colouring to the milk mixture. (Side note: this WILL look disgusting-don't be put off).
7- Slowly add the milk mixture and the flour mixture to the sugar and eggs, alternating.
8- Line your muffin tin with cupcake papers and fill each up to half way with mixture and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the sponge springs back when pressed.

The key to my cream cheese frosting has been documented here and the recipe is simple

260g cream cheese
100g Butter
600g Icing sugar

Whip together the butter and cream cheese, beat in the icing sugar slowly and chill before frosting.

For these particular cupcakes I only chilled the frosting for c.10-15mins because I wanted it too be less firm and to droop over itself like the folds of a dress.

Now onto the bodices. For the bodices I used a 50/50 ratio of fondant to gum paste. I then molded them by hand, which was very entertaining as they look like Eva from Wally as you mold them.

To mold the bodices, take a 1" diameter round of fondant mixture and form a cyclinder. Then using a ball ended tool start to push up one side of the top and form a crevasse as seen here. Push down the centre to form a heart shape on the higher part and then smooth the whole thing out.

Then insert a short lollipop stick into the base

Then on the back slice a shallow line vertically running in line with the stick and then push the sides in so that the line is visible but does not cut in.

Using the icing pipe tiny dots, one of each side of the cut line down the back of the bodice. While they are still wet stick a pear 100&1000 onto each dot and let this dry

Mix together some gum paste and red food colouring and then roll out the coloured gum paste dusting it with corn starch to prevent sticking. Then cut tiny flowers with your flower press cutter.
Dust off the corn starch and leave to dry. Then you can add colour accents with more food colour and a little paint brush.

With your icing pipe a tiny line around the middle and stick on your ribbon. Then use the flower to decorate the ribbon and again leave this to dry

Finally to assemble, pipe your frosting onto your cupcake in a spiral from the center until you have reached the edge and then build up to a peak. Then sprinkle the 'skirt' with some cake simmer sprinkles. Finally insert your bodice into the center and then present to your bride to be, yourself or a couple friends and enjoy =)

To my bride-to-be friend/s, wishing you all the happiness and joy that your marriage deserves

Monday, July 15, 2013

Fluffer-nutter Blondies - my love affair with marshmallow continues

The heat is on around here the last week or so. I hesitate to call it a heat-wave because the temperature hasn't really gone above 30'. However, everyone is feeling it, mostly because it never really heats up here. Whenever it does I am reminded of living in the states during the summer. The heat, the humidity, the sound of crickets and the glow of fireflies. I'm even nostalgic for the hum of the air-conditioning and the whir of the fan. During the height of the summer in America I slept with both the air-con and the fan on, which when combined with the crickets and the constant purring of my little furry friend mad for some noisy nights, but I loved it!! Nowadays I sometime replicate that sound with noise maker apps on hot summer nights and I sleep like a baby.

So with the combination of heat and humidity this week and the opportunity to attend a party in the house of someone who grew up state side, I knew I would have to bake something truly evocative of that fascinating nation. I found inspiration in the blog of not your mommas cookie but decided to go with a different recipe for ease of handling and the outcome was somewhat addictive.

Wanna bite?

To make these I started with a basic blondie recipe and then added reeses peanut chips and mini marshmallows to give the fluffernutter flavour. Other recipes call for peanut butter in the batter but I find that peanut butter is such a strong flavour that it overpowers the whole blondie. However the affect of the chip is that some bites taste of peanut butter while others have that delicious treacle essence of brown sugar.

Fluffer-nutter Blondies

300g soft brown sugar
300g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
110g unsalted butter
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla essence
90g mini marshmallows
85g peanut butter chips

To decorate
Marshmallow fluff
chopped peanut brittle/chopped peanuts

1. Preheat the oven to 170'.
2. Beat together the butter and sugar until smooth
3. In a separate bowl sieve together the flour, salt and baking powder.
4. Add the egg yolks and vanilla to the butter and sugar, beat together
5. Beat in the flour mixture.
6. Once the dough is smooth, add the marshmallows and beat vigorously.
7. Add the chips and beat one final time.

8. Line a bread tin with greaseproof paper and spread the dough evenly
9. Bake for 50 minutes, remove, slice, seperate the slices and then bake again for another 10 minutes

10. Cool on a wire wrack before decorating with marshmallow fluff and peanut bits.

11. Oh...............and enjoy =)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Want smore biscuit cake?? (Lactose free)

For years and years I have been making versions of chocolate biscuit cake for a variety of events, The ingredients vary based on the recipients (e.g. adding Moro bars for someone whose nickname is moro, pronounced differently) but essentially the process remains the same; chocolate, biscuits, condensed milk and a couple of other essentials. The problem is that not everyone can handle condensed milk and why should a lactose allergy keep anyone from enjoying the craving fulfilling taste sensation that is ewwy gooey!!

Therefore I present for your dietary restricted enjoyment..........

Lactose-free Smores biscuit cake (adapted from Eric Landlard's honeycomb squares)
(makes 24)

225g Butter
4 tbsp Golden syrup
4 tbsp Granulated Sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
400g Dark Chocolate
300g Rich tea biscuits
300g Digestive biscuits (ensure these have no milk whey powder - eg Jacobs low-fat ones)

50g Dark Chocolate (melted)
3tbsp Marshmallow fluff

Melt the butter in a saucepan, while you break the chocolate into little pieces and crush the biscuits in a plastic bag. You want there to be a mixture of large chunks and lots of crumbs.

 Once the butter is melted add the sugar and golden syrup and stir until all the sugar has disappeared and the mixture is starting to bubble up the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate.

Mix thoroughly until all the chocolate has melted and then add the biscuits. Mix thoroughly until all the biscuit is covered, then cut up 100g marshmallow and mix thoroughly.

At this stage you will be very tempted to just eat the whole thing with a spoon, the chocolate is so shiney and melted, the marshmallows will be slightly melted and I won't lie to you.....I took a sample or two..... to quality test it of course ;)

Line a roasting dish with cling-film and pour in the mixture. Cover with cling-film and wrap tightly before chilling in the fridge at least an hour or over-night if possible.

Remove from the fridge and melt the final 50g of dark chocolate. Turn out the biscuit cake and plate upside down. Spoon out small chunks of marshmallow fluff and smear over the top. Using a tiny piping bag dribble the melted dark chocolate over the top. Then slice and as always enjoy =)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Macaroons - (almost) sugar free and so tasty that even coconut haters will fall

Normally at this time of year I want to make nothing more than home-made jam and macarons. This year is no real exception but some days need something different. This week I went to a BBQ and brought some delicious double chocolate chip cookies but I also wanted to bring something a little healthier and decided to go for macaroons.

Coconut is extremely healthy. It's reportedly antiviral, antibacterial and anti-parasitic. The oils in coconut are excellent for hair and nail growth. It's chock full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It's also known for anti-aging and antioxidant properties. So all in all, there's an excuse there for anyone to eat it.

These macaroons are really easy to make and almost sugar free. They went down such a treat at the party that I didn't manage to save any, but photos will follow, because trust me I will be making more.

(Almost) Sugar-Free Coconut Macaroons

500g Shredded coconut
100g Ground Almonds
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp Caster Sugar
10g Stevia
250g 60-70% Dark Chocolate

Preheat the oven to 160'C. Beat your egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form. Slowly beat in your caster sugar and stevia and continue to beat until you have formed a stiff peaks. Mix together the coconut and ground almonds and then fold into the meringue. Scoop into 1/2 balls on a cookie sheet and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the outside it nicely brown and crispy. Then cool on a wire rack. 

Melt 3/4 of the chocolate over hot water, once the first part is melted, remove from the heat and add the rest of the chocolate and mix until melted. Dip the bases of the macaroons in the chocolate and smooth with a spatula before drying upside down on the wire rack. Once the chocolate has set, serve and enjoy =)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Creme Brulee Macarons

If you've read any of my previous posts about macarons you will know that I love to mess with the shells. I guess that it has something to do with a childish instinct to touch the untouchable and make a mess! Something I may not have told you before is that I spend an unreasonable amount of time in very expensive department stores, not trying on make-up, not oogling the beautiful clothes or the expensive jewellery. No, surprise, surprise I spend time drooling over the beautiful and amazing macaron selection!! I have macaron selection menus from Selfridges, Brown Thomas and Cocoa Atelier, I even leave the Selfridge's macaron menu sitting on my make-up table for inspiration.

Frequently, however, inspiration strikes from odd places. When I found this delicious vanilla  bean paste at an unbelievably good price I was determined to use it in macarons. However, how does one adequately compliment vanilla? Sure it goes with almost anything but what will bring out it's sweet smooth taste? Salted caramel and burnt sugar, me thinks. Hence a creme caramel inspired macaron.

Creme Brulee Macaron (more instructional photos to follow)

125g Ground Almonds
175g Extra Fine Icing Sugar
75g Caster Sugar + extra for sprinkling
3 Aged Egg Whites
3/8 tsp Cream of Tartar
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste

1 Can Condensed milk
1/2 tsp Salt

To make the filling submerge the can of condensed milk in water and boil until almost all the water has boiled off twice. Remove can carefully from the water and then leave to coll completely before opening (This is actually dulce de leche but it works for me, u gotta problem with it?? i joke!)

Now beat your egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean bowl, once light and fluffy slowly add the caster sugar and continue to beat until you have reached stiff peaks. In a seperate bowl, sieve together the ground almonds and icing sugar. Fold the almond and sugar mixture into the meringue and add the teaspoon of vanilla bean paste. Continue folding until the mixture becomes smooth and when dropped onto a plates flattens out. Pour into a piping bag and pipe in little 1/2' diametre circles on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Let the macarons sit and set on the counter for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180'. After the shell has set, sprinkle each macaron with a small amount of caster sugar, try if possible to cover the surface of the shell. Then using a blow-torch and a very gentle hand melt the sugar without burning either the macarons or the parchment paper.

Baked the macarons for precisely 10 minutes and then run water between the cooking sheet and the parhment once cooked to remove the cooked macarons from the paper.

Match up your macarons and then pipe a layer of caramel (dulce de leche) on one half. Sprinkle a tiny, tiny pinch of salt (a few grains) onto the caramel and then sandwich with a second macaron. Finally just enjoy =)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pizza crackers

Last week we went to a party of a friend of a friend. I always find it difficult to know what to bring to these situations. What do you do when you know nothing about this person's taste's or food peculiarities and yet want to make a good impression? The only thing I could think to do was take what I know and run with it. The party was a pizza party and therefore the invention of pizza crackers!

One is never enough!

These are SO so easy to make and suit any occasion as a present. The buttery taste and texture is exactly like the high end crackers that cost 4/5 quid for a pack of less than 10, so no-one will guess that you made these for next to nothing.

Pizza Crackers (adapted from cracker recipe from Ina Garten)

100g Butter (softened)
85g   Mature Cheddar (grated very fine)                             

160g Plain Flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Basil

Beat together your butter and herbs. Sieve the flour and salt onto the grated cheese and mix. Let the flour sit on the cheddar for a minute before combining the dough. The mixture will be very crumbly but fear not it will come together. Lay out some cling-film onto the counter and pour the mixture onto this. Work the mixture together into one long line of crumbs, about 1 inch in diameter, length-ways in the centre of the cling film. Now roll the cling film around the dough and make it as tight as possible. Squish the dough together and tighten the cling film, twist the ends to make sure it is as compressed as possible, flatten off all the edges so that the crackers are either square or rectangular, then throw them into the freezer for 20 minutes.

(I have found that I can actually make these crackers while simultaneously preparing to head to the party. Just by using this time to go and do my make-up etc and then doing my hair while they bake, it works out really nicely, and makes me feel like some kind of Nigella/ Martha Stewart style powerhouses of female efficiency and etiquette in one!)

Preheat your oven to 180'. Take the dough out of the freezer after 20-30 minutes at most, if you have left it for longer I would suggest letting it de-frost on the counter for a while and cutting a test slice, if the slice cuts cleanly without difficulty then go ahead. However if you cut them while they are too frozen they will break in half and will not cook as evenly. Cut into even (as possible) 1/3 inch slices and lay out onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes on 180' or until brown on the edges and crispy looking. Remove from the baking sheet immediately to stop the baking process and cool or a wire wrack. Then just pretend you are eating a delicious thin crusty pizza, share and enjoy =)

Monday, May 27, 2013

A twist on the cinnamon twist bread

I've seen a few people doing the cinnamon twist breads and I love how this simple technique can reveal such a beautiful and intricate pattern. However if I merely mimicked what others did exactly then what would be the purpose of blogging it, therefore I have decided to change it slightly and make it into a sticky bun style twist bread.

I made this bread for a special breakfast with the bf and it went down very well. I'm sure I have mentioned before that my bf is very honest with his criticism, if he doesn't like something he will say so. However while eating this he repeatedly mentioned how much he likes it and then suggested that we could get more ingredients and make it again - so a positive outcome!

In terms of nuts here I used almonds, but that choice was entirely influenced by availability! THis recipe would work just as well if not better with hazelnuts, pecans or walnuts (perhaps even a combination: it's a free-for-all). Another slight variation that I think would be delicious, but the bf wouldn't like it, would be dried apple pieces!

I've used the same cheat here that I used in the cinnamon rolls previously of using pre-made dough, I know very bold, but it makes it so much more accessible, so try!! ;)

Twisted sticky bread  

2 pieces of dough rolled out to 1/4 inch thickness
3 tbsp Butter
1 agave nectar/honey
2 tsp brown sugar
1tsp vanilla granulated sugar
50g of roasted chopped almonds
2 tbsp sultanas/raisins
1tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt
1tbsp Butter
1tsp brown sugar
1tsp cinnamon

Lay your dough pieces side by side. Melt together the butter,honey and sugar and mix thoroughly. Add in the nuts, spices, salt and sultanas. Take half of this mixture and spread it on the first piece of dough. Spread as much as possible but you don't need to cover every inch. Place the second piece of dough on top of the first, push it down so you can see where the bigger lumps of nuts are. Now spread out the rest of the mixture, making sure to concentrate the mixture into the areas that have less mixture underneath. Now melt the last bit of butter,sugar and cinnamon together and pour this over the top layer and spread it around. Now you want to roll the dough length-ways and then using a very sharp knife cut the roll in half lengthways. Now comes the messy and more difficult part, turn the halves so that the cut side is up and slightly separate the dough . Now put the ends of the sections together on the baking sheet and the twist them around each other, this will be messy and I think it takes a bit of practice to get the perfect twist (something I didn't quite achieve this time).

See what I mean?! It looks like a complete mess and I over twisted one section but do not fret if yours looks messy like this because the baking process is very forgiving.

See how much better it looks!!
The picture makes it look very hard and crispy and the outside of the bread does become very crispy, probably because the butter and sugar spills over somewhat but the dough on the inside is so soft and delicious.

There is the most delicious contrast between the soft dough, the gooey sugar and the crispy bits of crust and nuts. It works so well, in fact, that my bf actually commented specifically on the contrasting textures, which is not how he usually talks about food at all!!So I would definitely recommend trying this, it is beautiful enough to warrant presenting at any fancy breakfast, tea-party or as a dessert. Enjoy =)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Jazzing up the ordinary

There is a lot going on for me at the moment, hence the late post! As many bloggers can probably attest to, when the amount of other things that demand attention build up, the desire to bake builds with them, but the time and focus required is not in such plentiful supply. This last week was my birthday and as I always bake my birthday cake it was fitting that I prepare something. Thing is, I couldn't seem to think of a single cake idea; my head is choc full of various counselling theories, abstacts from a hundred different papers, as well as hundreds of laws and legislation relating to working with vulnerable people and mental health and all sorts. So I asked my brother what kind of cake I should make. He responded in the same way that he ALWAYS responds; within a split second 'Victoria Sponge.' It's his favourite cake, he honestly has it for any situation where there needs to be cake!

I shouldn't have been surprised but I honestly don't fully understand it because this is a guy with incredible taste in food. He cooks the most delicious dinners and the sandwiches that he puts together deserve their own food network show! That might seem dismissive of victoria sponge and it's not meant to be. I like victoria sponge, it's a nice cake but it is a boringly simple cake imao!

However it worked nicely as an idea because it's a simple cake to make and when time is limited; the simpler, the better! However, I wouldn't be me if I didn't try to jazz it up a bit, which he said that he expected also.

So simple steps to jazz up the Victoria sponge. The cake is perfect, for the tiniest adjustment I replaced 1 egg with 2 egg yolks just to make a slightly more tender cake. The real changes came in the strawberry jam filling and the cream.

Instead of a strawberry jam I sliced 2 punnets of strawberries very finely and then sprinkled 1-2 tsp of balsamic vinegar and 1 heaped tablespoon of caster sugar, I mixed thoroughly and let it to sit for 20 minutes.

For the cream I made added 1 tbsp of icing sugar and 2/3 tsp of vanilla bean paste before whipping and then whipped up until it formed peaks.

To assemble in a fun way I laid down the first layer of cake then made a small circle of cream in the centre and surrounded this with the strawberries. I layered on the second circle of cake and then made a small circle of strawberries and piped the cream in circles around this before dusting with icing sugar.

Unfortunately since time was very limited I had to do all of this in my parents house minutes before serving and without my proper camera or baking utensils so you will have to excuse the picture quality and the poor piping but this is it. Trust me though: the taste was flawless!

In case you were wondering, my brother loved it =)

On a related note, I often discuss some of the lovely things I received from friends and family for my birthday and I am actually writing this blog post on one of those very shiny lovely things. However I wanted to show you another one.

I love tea and particularly one of the various fruit or alternative loose teas that are available these days. However brewing a cup of loose tea can sometimes be messy and cumbersome. A few years back my wonderful mother bought me an amazing brewing item in the states which I stupidly left over there when I came home. I have lamented this fact on a number of occassions while using my mother's one. So this year, probably to shut me up as much as anything, my sister sourced this from the internet.

A couple different brands do this so it's not an ad for ingenuiTea
 I shall demonstrate how easy and beautifully this thing works
Pour your loose tea into the brewer
Pour on your hot water

It swirls around and brews

As this tea brews it turns a nice amber colour

Then just pop your brewer on top of any cup
Et voila, a perfectly brewed cup of tea without any floating bits =)
So thank you to my sister for this wonderful present and I would recommend this type of brewer to anyone that enjoys loose tea. Enjoy =)

Honeymoon first Stops: Boston and Las Vegas

We left London on A Saturday afternoon and flew to Boston, arriving in at 7.30pm Boston time. We somewhat regretted flying from London when ...