Gastronomically Terrific

April 28, 2014

Easter biscuits

Filed under: biscuits, Easter — Tags: , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:22 pm

Easter biscuitsAn easy bake to use up ingredients I had been baking with over the past week or so, I admit I was a few days late with making my Easter biscuits. I make these biscuits most years, and know basically what I’m doing – although there are a number of variants to the recipe, and I don’t follow exactly the same one every year.

This year I chose to use caster sugar instead of soft light brown sugar (although I think, on the whole, I probably prefer brown sugar in these), and I used orange juice instead of lemon juice. I almost always use lemon juice, but I had an orange to use up in the fridge and no lemon. So that decision was made for me. The recipe is simple – cream together sugar and eggs, add the dry ingredients and juice, then add enough milk to make a dough.

This year, perhaps the most enjoyable part of the baking was letting my 20 month old son get involved in cutting out the shapes. I let him choose the biscuit cutters, then push them down into the dough. Admittedly, he picked completely inappropriate cutter shapes for Easter biscuits, and needed some help with the actual cutting, but overall we both really enjoyed the process. And I made sure I made some traditionally shaped ones too!

Who made it: Anna and Joe

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, pg. 22-23


April 27, 2014

Apple streusel cake

Filed under: Cake, pudding — Tags: , , — lawsonanna @ 9:14 pm
Nice cold, lovely warm, best with custard

Nice cold, lovely warm, best with custard

This was baked as a result of being given apples by family over Easter. They were very cheap when they bought them, and officially past their sell-by date. However, they looked and tasted fine, so I figured that the quickest way to use them up before they went off was by putting them in a cake. So I found this recipe for apple streusel cake in my Cake Days cookbook.

The cake is basically apple crumble with a sponge base. You make it in three parts – firstly you make a flour and sugar topping, then you mix together a sponge cake. You then slice and cut the apples and layer them on top of the sponge cake, before adding the topping.

It’s not a difficult cake to make, and whilst there are a number of layers, none of them take that long to create. The longest aspect of this bake was, for me, waiting for the cake to bake in the oven. The sponge cake took a while to cook, and it’s fairly hard to check because it’s under a layer of apple. But you’ll know when it’s done as your skewer will come out totally clean. if you’re in any doubt, it’s not ready yet. Overall, it’s an enjoyable process with a relatively assured end result.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days, pg. 42-43

April 26, 2014

Hot cross buns

Filed under: bread, Easter — Tags: , — lawsonanna @ 9:14 pm
Hot cross buns and coffee

Enjoying a hot cross bun with coffee

Having not done any baking for a few weeks (a combination of visiting friends, going to conferences and just not having enough time in life in general), the Easter weekend and the fact that the April recipe on my baking calendar was for hot cross buns, seemed to be a good excuse to get back into it.

Another bread recipe, hot cross buns are something that I love but have never made before. Considering my last bread making experience turned out pretty well, I was enthusiastic about giving this a try. It didn’t seem that different to making a standard bread product – with the exception of the crosses I had to pipe on the top (which turned out pretty well), and the addition of raisins and orange zest (which, to me, was a fun part of the process).

Hot cross buns circleOverall, the buns turned out pretty well. They were perhaps slightly denser than your traditional hot cross buns, but once they had been lightly toasted in the oven they tasted pretty good. I made eight large buns though, and that was a fair amount to eat as there was just the two of us. A few days later, I was pretty bored of eating hot cross buns…

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Home Baking Calendar 2014 (April recipe)

April 11, 2014

Chocolate chip and vanilla marble cake

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , — lawsonanna @ 4:38 pm

Choc chip and vanilla marble traybakeAnother gift for my friend with the new baby (the biscuits were really just in case she didn’t like/fancy chocolate, but this was the real treat), this was something I knew that I could make relatively easy, and would have all the ingredients in the house for. Which turned out to be mostly true…

… I needed to buy some chocolate for the topping, but that wasn’t a problem. The problem was the fact that I managed to put the cake in our fan oven, assuming I had put it was on the conventional oven setting. Which meant that, 15 minutes after I added it to the oven, I wondered why I was starting to smell burning. Thankfully, I checked, and discovered what I had done. After turning the oven back to conventional oven, putting the cake a little lower in the oven, covering the (now rather burnt) top of the cake and waiting another 10-15 minutes or so, I did manage to salvage the cake.

I had to cut off a fair amount of the sides, and attempted a neat(ish) job of slicing off the very top layer. The quite-burnt bits were edible (and Dan and I did eat them), but perhaps not the best thing to give away. However, once I drizzled chocolate over the top of the cake (oh yeah, another issue here – crying babies meant that I over-melted the white chocolate. But not to worry, I just used mostly dark chocolate for the drizzling instead) it looked alright, and didn’t taste too bad either.

The perfect example of how to mess up a really easy-to-make cake. But then how to (mostly) bring it back from the brink as well!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book, pg. 78

April 10, 2014

Give-and-take biscuit bake

Filed under: biscuits — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 4:16 pm

Give and take biscuitsAs the recipe for these biscuits makes such a vast amount (60-72), I decided to halve the ingredients. That made about 30 biscuits, which was still enough to feed my parents, my husband, my friend, and my colleague and her husband who have just had a baby (which was who the biscuits were really intended for).

As the recipe suggests, I made three different flavoured biscuits. Cranberry flavour, cinnamon and nutmeg flavour and cherry flavour. My least favourite were the cherry biscuits, but that’s entirely my fault for leaving them in the oven a little too long, and them being rather more crispy than was intended.

The recipe for these mini biscuits calls for the mixture to be rolled out and then put in the freezer for a least a few hours before you cut out rounds. The problem with this is that the mixture is then really hard to cut when you remove it from the freezer, because it’s so hard. I also had a few problems mixing up the pastry in the first place – it was way too wet initially (admittedly, partially my fault for adding too much egg). So I had to add a ton of flour to turn it into a pliable consistency. Unfortunately, in the case of the cranberry biscuits it clearly wasn’t enough flour. When I tried to slice up the frozen mixture, it just fell apart.

I was going to abandon the cranberry mixture entirely, but then decided I could easily roll it into balls. This worked well, and it turned out that when I put them in the oven, they spread out and turned into perfect mini biscuits – better shaped than either the cherry or the cinnamon/ nutmeg ones. A good tip for the future, and probably the way I will form all these biscuits if I make them again!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Cakes, Bakes, Puddings and Prayers, page 32-33

April 9, 2014

Chocolate traybake with feather icing

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , — lawsonanna @ 4:06 pm

Choc feather cake from sideAnother recipe to appease my parents over the Mothers Day (and my birthday) weekend, and also inspired by Mary Berry Cooks, this was one I also wanted to try. I wanted to try it for two reasons – because I love chocolate cake and it looked amazing, but also because I wanted to have a go at the feather icing.

As I mentioned when I wrote about the fairy feather cakes I made back in February, I’m still experimenting with a new type of icing bag – one where you throw the bag away after use, rather than the plastic reusable kind. It sounds wasteful, I know – but they are so, so much easier to use than the cheap plastic variety. Making this proved it.

The chocolate cake itself was easy to make – just a standard, rich chocolate traybake. And because of my lovely new piping bag, it was also easy to decorate. And I really enjoyed the process of creating feather icing that wasn’t incredibly difficult to do! The cake also tasted great, which is of course a massive bonus.

Again, there’s nothing particularly novel about this cake, but it does taste, and look, good – and is really easy to make. A relatively easy way to impress visitors, especially if they are chocolate fans!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Mary Berry Cooks (the full recipe is on the BBC Food website)

April 8, 2014

Three fish pie

Filed under: fish, main — Tags: , , , — lawsonanna @ 3:57 pm
Fish pie with eggs

Three fish pie before the mashed potato topping was added

Inspired by Mary Berry Cooks, which is currently on TV, I decided to make this three fish pie when my parents came to visit for the weekend. Whilst it’s perhaps not the most unusual of dishes, it does lend itself to being made in advance and then just popped in the oven an hour or so before you want to eat it. This was perfect for me because I had a day or two off of work before my parents arrive at lunchtime. So I cooked up the fish mixture, hard boiled the eggs and added them to the casserole dish, and then all I needed to do before dinner was boil and mash some potatoes, and put the whole thing in the oven.

It was a fun dish to make, although there are a fair few bits to it. You need to make a sauce, then cut up the fish filling and add it to the sauce mixture. Of course, this was all made doubly hard by the fact that I was essentially cooking the meal twice – one with fish for most of us, and a vegetarian version with halloumi cheese for my husband at the same time. I ended up cooking each one separately in the end as so many things needed attention at the same time (the eggs, the sauce and you’re chopping fish). And I wasn’t even cooking the potato at this point!

Overall, a tasty dish, and a good one to prepare in advance, but nothing super special to impress anybody; and a fair amount of effort to put in. Fine if that’s what you want, but you need to know what you’re getting yourself into beforehand!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Mary Berry Cooks (the recipe is on the BBC Food website)


April 7, 2014

Banana bread

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , — lawsonanna @ 3:56 pm

Banana breadThis is the March recipe from my Home Baking 2014 calendar which I made when my parents were visiting – mostly as a cake bribe when they looked after our son for the night.

I’ve made banana bread before, and it’s come out fine, but this was a little different – mostly because it included nuts. Now, if it had just been for me I would have omitted the nuts completely, but as it was for others I decided to just add the walnuts, believing that the brazil nuts that the recipe called for was still going a little too far. I thought I was adding a relatively small amount of walnuts, and there would just be a sprinkling of them throughout the cake.

Turns out I was wrong. I left the majority of the banana bread for others to eat, but I did try a slice. And boy, was it nutty. I have to admit I wasn’t particularly sad about leaving this one for other people. Every slice had a very obvious layer of walnuts in it. That will teach me though – if in doubt, leave the nuts out!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Home Baking Calendar 2014, March recipe

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