Archives for the month of: January, 2011

While perusing the cookshop yesterday, I thought it would be a great idea to bake cut-out cookies with mini G.  I came home enthusiastic and inspired by all of the baking paraphernalia at the shop.  (I could spend so much money there, but I refrained and only purchased some mini heart decorations and red/white polkadot cupcake paper cups, but that’s for another post).  Mini G did not share my enthusiasm for baking the cookies, he just wanted to eat them.

I have to admit that I’m not that keen on making cut-out cookies. Generally, the dough doesn’t roll properly or maybe it’s my lack of patience, but since having grasped and succeeded with pastry I was confident I could make the cookie dough work.

I love cookie cutters.  I have a very eclectic collection.  I decided I would bring out the cowboy, the cactus, the cat, the dachshund and the latest addition to my collection, the puzzle piece.

For the first time in forever, my cut-out cookies were going well, but on the last batch I noticed that after the 8 minutes they normally take to come out with just browned edges, they didn’t look cooked at all. Much to my dismay, the heating element had decided to blow.  Thankfully, it was the last batch and I was able to salvage them by giving them a blast with the grill, which was still working.

We decided to pass on decorating after the oven gave up the ghost. Mini G prefers them plain, anyway and proceeded to eat about 4 in one go.

The oven has, however, put my future baking projects on hold for a while. Not to mention put a serious spanner in our menu planning.  No roast chicken for me tonight 😦  We’ll just have microwaved popcorn instead…

Last weekend I really fancied making a cherry pie.  I hadn’t had much success with homemade pastry in the past, but the alternative of using store bought pastry for a pie didn’t have much appeal. Since I had so much success with the chocolate cake from Eric Lanlard’s Home Bake, I thought I’d give the sweet shortcrust pastry recipe a try.

While the pastry rested in the refrigerator, I put together the cherry filling.  After perusing many recipes, I put my own together with 2 cans of black cherries – drained, some cherry jam we made in the summer, a bit of cornflour, a bit of sugar and a bit of lemon juice and simmered until it was the right taste and consistency.

Success! The pastry came out perfectly. This book hasn’t let me down so far!  Ideally, I would have liked to make a whole cherry pie with a lattice top, but since it’s just the two of us I made individual mini pies so we could have some now and freeze the rest for later.

I’ll make a whole pie with the lattice top one of these days, but I think I’ll have to double the pastry recipe.  Until then, I’ll just enjoy a mini cherry pie with custard… Eat your heart out Mr Kipling!

I had some leftover cherry filling in the fridge and didn’t want it to go to waste.  I referred to many of my cookbooks for inspiration on how I could best use the fruit and decided on a crumble.  This one included ground almonds which will compliment the cherries perfectly.

The recipe said it served 6 so I cut it in half, but still had extra crumble.  I didn’t want that to go to waste so I got out the damsons we’d frozen in the autumn and made a damson crumble.  Economical and tasty! We’ll be set for desserts for a while.

Today’s baking soundtrack:  Rufus Wainwright

One of my favorite breakfast foods is pancakes. Not the flat things that look like crepes, but proper griddle cakes.  I’m a sucker for a Grand Slam at Denny’s or silver dollars from IHOP, but since moving to the UK, I just can’t seem to get my pancakes right.  I’ll admit, when I live stateside I made my pancakes from a box.  The thing was, it worked.  Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix made really good light fluffy pancakes and her syrup was the perfect compliment.

I am loathe to spend a lot of money on pancake mix from US food suppliers for expats, so I am in search of the perfect pancake recipe.

The one I’ve been reliant on to help me through my pancake fix is Nigella’s recipe from How To Be A Domestic Goddess, but it’s just ok.  I can’t seem to get the texture right with her recipe.

They still make a tasty breakfast, especially paired with the maple syrup direct from Canada’s Costco! Thanks, Uncle Roger!

Through continued practice, I have managed to perfect the technique of flipping them and getting the heat just right. The electric crepe pan comes in handy once again! I will get the recipe right one day, until then… Pancakes anyone?

This was a weekend for make ahead food for the freezer.  It was also a weekend for testing and practicing.  We tested and practiced corn tortillas, pancakes and pastry (but I’ll get to the pancakes pastry later).

One of my very favorite foods is Mexican food and enchiladas are one of my favorite meals in that category. We set out making corn tortillas to be used with the enchiladas, but that didn’t exactly happen.  I’m not sure if was because the Masa Harina was past it’s best by date or we haven’t perfected the recipe yet, but they didn’t come out flexible enough to wrap up for enchiladas.  No worries though, they’ll be perfect for huevos rancheros. I did however practice and perfect my rolling technique and the use of the electric crepe pan in lieu of a comal.

Next up, the red sauce… we made loads as it’s perfect as enchilada sauce or hot salsa on its own.

Since enchiladas were on the menu for dinner, we couldn’t give up.  Store bought flour tortillas would have to do.

We stuffed them with leftover roast chicken and cheese, slathered them with the sauce and covered that with grated cheddar (although we really should have been using Monterey Jack).

Not quite authentic, but tasty nonetheless.  This just gives us an excuse to keep practicing… yum!

I took the cake over to my father in law’s today for an after lunch birthday treat. As chocolate sponge cakes go, this one is at the top.  It was definitely chocolatey enough and not too dry.  I probably could have done with frosting it, but I wanted to try it au naturel the first go round to test the cake on it’s own.

I served it with a fresh vanilla whipped cream (as pictured below), which was a nice accompaniment to the unfrosted cake.

This recipe is a keeper.  Thanks Mr. Lanlard!

For Christmas I received a voucher for Amazon and have decided to indulge in some cookbooks.  After trawling through the many baking books out there, I came across one called Home Bake by Eric Lanlard.  He’s a master patissier who has studied under the Roux brothers, so he instantly had credibility in my eyes.  I have found there are a lot of posers out there when it comes to baking and cooking.  The book arrived on Thursday, giving me enough time to browse through and choose a project for the weekend. When I received it, I was a bit put off by the endorsement by Elizabeth Hurley on the cover, does she even eat cake?  But after reading the recipes, I was confident with my selection of baking book.

Since it was my father in law’s birthday on Wednesday and we are going to see him tomorrow, I decided to bake a birthday cake.  Chocolate cake has always been a tricky one for.  So I set myself a challenge to re-create Eric Lanlard’s “Cake Boy” Chocolate Cake.  The recipe was super easy to follow and well, the proof is in the pudding, or the cake as we have here.  I won’t be able to taste it as the finished product until tomorrow, but if the batter is anything to go by, it’s going to be amazing.

With the price of bread increasing, to save money we decided to make our own baked goodness.  For the price of a 55 pence bag of bread flour, we were able to make 16 bagels.  Take that inflation!

Baking bread always leave me with a sense of satisfaction too.  Maybe it’s the process or just the fact that i love bagels.  It’s nice to know I have these to look forward to for my breakfast and lunches. We’re still perfecting our recipe, so watch this space…

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