Archives for posts with tag: Eric Lanlard

English Mum is hosting a ‘Baked With Love Bakeoff’ and now that Owen, my brand new oven, is in full effect, I had to get involved.  I like making Valentine’s day treats for my sweeties and wanted to do something new, so I tried Red Velvet Cupcakes.  I have seen many recipes for Red Velvet Cake, all of which use quite a bit of red food colouring, but the one from Eric Lanlard’s Home Bake is one that does not.  It’s an American style recipe which relies on the chemical reaction between baking soda and white wine vinegar to create the ‘red’ effect.

It was more like a science experiment than baking, but that was part of the fun.

red velvet science experiment

It started out like your everyday cake mixture using the creaming method: butter, sugar, cocoa…

Cocoa powder

Then alternately add buttermilk and flour…

Mix it up

But with this mixture you combine baking soda and white wine vinegar. Vinegar in cupcakes?! okaay…

now for the science bit

Then keep mixing until it becomes a glossy mixture…

glossy mixture

I filled each cupcake cup halfway and popped them in the new oven. (Affectionately named Owen thanks to the suggestion of Leah and Phil).

Owen shows off

Et voila… Cupcakes! They didn’t come out as red as I anticipated, but they taste amazing and are actually really velvety in texture.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

As these cakes are celebrating Valentine’s Day, I decorated them with marshmallow topping (mini G’s favourite) and heart shaped sprinkles.

Valentine's decorations

And they went down a treat with the little love of my life – mini G…

baked with love

Baked with love bakeoff

Ok, in my head I’m singing Madonna’s ‘Holiday’.

It has been about a year since I started this blog and I must say it has been quite a learning adventure.  I’ve met a bunch of fantastic people and made some new (and very good) friends.  But I’m getting off the subject… this post is about Christmas and (X)boxing day.

Holiday part1

Our Christmas was a much more low key affair this year.  Mini G is now at that age where he ‘gets’ Christmas and since last year Martin and I were busy getting Christmas dinner prepared, we didn’t get to play with him. So this year, Christmas dinner was moved to the in-laws and we had a nice, relaxing and very playful morning.

Xmas lego

And playful evening – pass the parcel included.

pass the parcel moustache

But the main attraction was the Christmas pudding made by MIL. Delicious and beautifully lit, if I do say so myself!

christmas pudding

To me Boxing Day is all about food, but ever since getting our Xbox 360 and kinect, I’d been imagining a house full of family where the kids are in the converted ‘game room’ playing Fruit Ninja or Kinectimals and the adults in the kitchen/dining/converted lounge hanging out and enjoying good food.  I thought Boxing Day would be the perfect opportunity, so I deemed 26th December ‘Xboxing Day’. And although certain family members were a little less responsive resulting in less kids than anticipated, we still had a fantastic time.

mini G training Kinectimals cub

Our Boxing Day spread was more than a little awesome, if I do say so myself.  We had a whole roast ‘leftover’ Turkey, Autumnal Slaw from Leon’s book, chutneys, cheeses, homemade bagels courtesy of Nigella’s HTBADG, crisps, fruits, nuts and last but not least egg nog trifle from Eric Lanlard’s Home Bake.

Xboxing day spread pt1

Xboxing day spread pt2

His book is featured on the blog quite a bit throughout this year and this one definitely is worthy of a highlight. His recipe calls for fruit soaked in Grand Marnier, but I opted for Amaretto since I had it in the house. To create the egg nog custard, he used Advocaat. This gave me an excuse to add some to our liquor cabinet and also add ‘Snowballs’ to the menu for our day of Xboxing fun.

egg nog trifle pt1

egg nog trifle pt2

egg nog trifle pt3

egg nog trifle pt4

The key to a good Snowball is 2 shots of Advocaat, 1/4 squeeze of lemon or lime juice shaken up with some ice and poured in a highball glass then topped with lemon-lime soda (Sprite/7up) or lemonade if you are from the UK.

xboxing day snowballs

We even got Nanny & Poppy involved with the Xboxing Day activities. Poppy was a natural on Fruit Ninja. Mini G showed off his animal training skills on Kinectimals and I reigned supreme on XBox Trivial Pursuit.

Poppy playing fruit ninja

One day I’ll have my massive family Xboxing Day, but we may need a bigger house for that one.  Food and family, that is what the holidays are all about for me.  Now on to the New Year’s celebrations…

Mini G made a special request for Halloween cupcakes, which I was all to happy to oblige. His cupcake of choice was carrot cupcakes, but they had to be spooooky. We picked out a recipe together – we used Eric Lanlard’s Carrot Cake recipe from Home Bake.

G and I gathered the ingredients.

Carrots

Oil

We grated the carrots.

Grated carrots

Mini G helped by stirring the eggs into the sugar and the oil.

Mini G helper 1

And then he added the flour into the mixture.

Mini G helper 2

Mini G helper 3

Mini G helper 3

Then he added the carrots, folding them into the mixture and got the batter ready to go into the cupcake cups.

Mini G helper 5

We used spooky spider cupcake cups for the Halloween treats.

Carrot cake fresh from the oven

More carrot cakes

The cake texture was fantastic. This recipe is a keeper!

Carrot cake texture

We decorated the cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting and added some special toppings to create a creepy crawly spider:

Place half a prune in the center of the cake, then cut a cola flavoured sour spagettini into 1 1/4 inch lengths and arrange like spider legs around the prune. Spooooky!

Spooky Spider cupcakes

Spooky halloween cupcakes

Then watch the cupcakes crawl off the plate… YUM!

I Love Cake

It’s that time of year when British apples are coming into season. The autumn season is my favourite food and weather-wise. I know, you say it is still summer, but in the UK not really. So, now I am thinking of all the wonderful ways to use the late summer/early autumn fruits. Originally, I thought about doing an apple pie, but Martin suggested an apple tart. As I had never made one before, I took on the challenge. I turned to Eric Lanlard’s Home Bake for his version of an Apple and Quince Tart. Quinces were not on the menu in our house so they were left out. Here’s my version:

To start, I used 2 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped and placed them in a casserole dish. Then I covered the apples with 3 tablespoons of caster sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a teaspoon of cinnamon. I covered the casserole dish and put in a 160˚C preheated oven for 20 minutes.

While the apples baked, I prepared the pastry. I used ready rolled sweet pastry in a sandwich tin. It’s not the traditional vessel for a tart, but we divide our desserts into portions and freeze them and this is the easiest dish for that. Put the prepared pastry in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Pastry

The apples from the oven will have formed a compote. Mine looked like they exploded and I thought I was going to have to start over, but after the bubbles relaxed and I gave it a stir, it was the perfect consistency. Leave these to cool.

Apple compote

Once your pastry is chilled and your apple compote is cool, start to prepare the apple slices. Using 2 Bramley apples, peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Remove pastry from fridge and spread the apple compote on the bottom of the prepared pastry. Arrange the thinly sliced apples in a circular pattern around the tin. Once the compote is covered by the apple slices, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of caster sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.

Apple slices over compote

Finished apple slices

Bake in the 160˚C oven for 35 minutes. The tart is done when the apples are softened, the edges of the fruit are going a bit crispy and the pastry is a golden brown.

baked apple tart

Leave to cool. Once cooled, brush the tart with sieved apricot conserve. Not only does it make look fancy, it adds a subtle sweetness.

apple tart with apricot glaze

We served our tart with Cornish vanilla ice cream. Serious, YUM!

Apple tart ready to eat

Anyone who knows me from my Seattle days and even my New York days to some extent knows that I bake a mean chocolate chip cookie.  In fact, at one point, they were world famous.  They were shipped to New York when I lived in Seattle, I baked them for bands touring through and I shipped them to a few fans UK when I lived in New York. I used the old faithful Toll House recipe back then and it was a hit. You can’t get Nestle Toll House chocolate chips very easily here and when you do find them, the price is highway robbery.  I settle for either the tiny packs that are on offer at the local supermarkets or I chop up a chocolate bar for chunky chips.

Biscuits or cookies are a favourite accompaniment with tea and coffee in the Punch Comms office.  Generally the boys take turns buying old faves like the hob nob or custard creams.  This time, I said to them, “If you buy the chocolate chips, I’ll throw in the eggs and flour and bake you chocolate chip cookies.”  The challenge was set.

Sugar and butter

Mixing the batter

Since I’d grown so used to the Toll House recipe, I decided to set myself even more of a challenge.  I was going to try a new chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Lo and behold my favourite patissiere, Eric Lanlard, recently featured his Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe on LoveFood.  He hasn’t steered me wrong yet, so I’m giving it a go…

Milk and Dark Choc Chips

Bowl of dough

The recipe itself is a bit different.  This one calls for half the white sugar than brown sugar, rather than the same amount in the Toll House recipe.  It also calls for one egg and one yolk vs two eggs in the Toll House.  And, the butter is melted rather than creamed with the sugar.   I also combined dark and milk chocolate chips just to shake things up a bit.

Scoops of Dough

In Eric’s recipe, he suggests using an ice cream scoop to measure out the cookie dough on to the baking sheets.  This is a great idea.  I always had a hard time making equal amounts of dough with a regular spoon.  I didn’t want such large cookies, so instead of an ice cream scoop, I used a measuring tablespoon.

Cookie Stack

The verdict is in… the cookies are VERY tasty.  The cookies are bit crispier than their Toll House cousins, but very light in texture.  These will go perfectly with the tea and coffee break at work tomorrow. Oh and tomorrow is Social Media Day, a perfect way to celebrate – getting social and eating cookies!

George celebrated her 30th birthday on Tuesday and to mark the occasion, she threw a huge party and no birthday party is complete unless there are cupcakes involved.

Wanting to set a challenge, I decided to test a new recipe. This one was out of my trusty Home Bake cookbook. Everything I have made from this book has been incredible, the cupcakes were no exception. (Eric Lanlard is a genius)

The room was decorated in purple and silver, so I created vanilla cupcakes with purple frosting in purple and silver cases.

And thankfully, the cakes were a hit with the guests, too!

Happy birthday, George! 30 is a great year.

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