Gastronomically Terrific

November 30, 2014

Christmas cake bites

Filed under: Cake, Christmas, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 8:01 pm

Whilst this is a Christmas recipe, I didn’t make it for Christmas itself. I wanted to use it as a test run for a bake that I would potentially make somebody as a Christmas present. As it happened, it worked out well because my family decided to visit right over the weekend in November that I made these bite-sized cakes, meaning they had somebody to eat them!

The bites themselves taste OK; you make them in a similar way to normal Christmas cake, by soaking apricots in alcohol for a day or so, then adding lots more fruit, sugar and flour to the recipe. You then bake the traybake for an hour or so before covering it with marzipan and icing. What you don’t do is leave the cake for weeks soaking up the additional alcohol you add to it – which, it turns out, is exactly what makes Christmas cake taste so good. These little bites are serviceable enough, but somehow lack that excess that ‘real’ Christmas cake provides. I decided they weren’t quite special enough to get upgraded to present status.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection, pg. 197

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November 29, 2014

Bonfire cake

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 3:54 pm

15 Slice of bonfire cakeSo, almost immediately after Halloween comes Bonfire Night in the UK (5th November). So obviously you need a cake for this occasion too! The cake in question this time around was this bonfire cake (which, finally, I have a photo of)!

I’ve made it a couple of times before, and it always proves to be pretty popular. The cake itself is ginger, but you add a chocolate buttercream and then cover it in matchmaker sticks and colourful sweets (in my case Smarties, because that’s what I like) to make it look like a bonfire. We actually used mint matchmakers this year because that’s what we had lying around, but the ginger does taste better with the orange ones.

The recipe also suggests that you add sparklers and light them for a proper bonfire effect, but as we would have had to find time to go to a proper fireworks store to source this, we decided not to bother. It still tasted good, even if it didn’t look quite so pretty!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Baking, Making and Sharing, pg. 52

November 28, 2014

Grasshopper pie

Filed under: biscuits, Cake, Sweets, Uncategorized, vegetarian — Tags: , , , , — lawsonanna @ 7:45 pm

Another Halloween treat, I wanted to make this for an event so that Dan and I wouldn’t be the only ones eating it. This was because a significant element of this pie is marshmallow, which Dan won’t eat as a pretty strict vegetarian. As it turned out, I ended up using vegetarian marshmallows anyway (which really don’t taste all that different), so Dan did get to try it. I have no idea why, but at the end of October normal marshmallows (and more specifically plain white ones, which is what I was after) disappeared from the shelves everywhere. We hunted in a number of shops before giving in and using a health food shop to buy the veggie version.

Anyway, onto the pie – which, by the way, tasted amazing! I will definitely be making this again. You begin by making a chocolate biscuit base (just like a cheesecake base). You then melt down your marshmallows, add a little green food colouring and some peppermint essence, and top the base with this. Chill this in the fridge before whipping cream and adding this to the top of the pie. Finally, because this was Halloween I endeavoured to make some chocolate bats by melting some dark chocolate, then cutting out bat shapes. They didn’t look great, but definitely added to the lovely minty taste of the pie. The pie went down really well with everybody who had some.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days, pg. 45

November 27, 2014

Spider web chocolate fudge muffins

Filed under: Cake, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 7:35 pm

With Halloween approaching, I wanted to make some suitable cakes. I’ve made this before, and they’re both fun to make and taste pretty good. They’re a slight variant on a standard fairy sponge cake – the muffins include light muscovado sugar and caster sugar, along with a carton of soured cream. Nothing too unusual, but not what you’d necessarily ordinarily put in your fairy cakes.

The fun part of the baking comes with the icing. You melt white and dark chocolate separately, spread one of the two colours on top of the muffin, then use the other colour to pipe circles. You then use a cocktail stick to turn those circles into spider webs.

I’ve done this before and it’s worked pretty well, but I wasn’t that pleased with the result this time. I thought it looked pretty amateurish, and ended up selecting specific ones to take to a friend’s house for her Halloween party – even then, I didn’t think they looked that good. People at the party were a lot more forgiving and said they looked amazing, but I know I can do better! They did taste alright at least.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: BBC GoodFood website

November 26, 2014

Rice and peas

Filed under: lunch — Tags: , , , , — lawsonanna @ 7:24 pm

By rice and peas, I mean risotto – but a fairly basic risotto. I found this recipe whilst going through my cookbooks looking for things to make at Christmas, and thought it might be something that my two-year old son would like (note: his favourite foods are peas and noodles).

As I said, this is basically a risotto (and I still have no photos, sorry). It basically contains pancetta, rice, white wine, peas, and chicken stock, so it’s not too complex. I cooked the meal for both of us for lunch, and whilst I thought it was OK (although a little bland – we tend to spice our risottos up a fair bit), after a short while my son thought it was amazing, and started to request it for at least every other meal. I’m not that enthusiastic about cooking risotto. Maybe it was the wine…?

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: The Daily Cook Book, 29 July, pg. 187

November 25, 2014

Hot chocolate pudding

Filed under: Cake, pudding, Uncategorized — Tags: , — lawsonanna @ 7:16 pm

This is another recipe that I made for Dan and I in the run-up to Christmas. Whilst I have been doing a lot of Christmas baking, I didn’t want Dan and I to end up with no tasty treats whilst this was going on. I fear it might have had the opposite effect and I’ve been baking a little too much… but we’ve ended up with some tasty treats because of it!

Another thing I’m afraid I don’t have a photo of, possibly because we were both far too desperate to eat the chocolate pudding the minute it appeared!

Again, it’s not a difficult pudding to make. You melt some chocolate, add eggs and sugar, then fold in some flour. It then takes approx. 10 minutes to bake in the oven; the whole thing only takes half an hour or so to put together, and tastes pretty good. There’s nothing particularly spectacular about it, but if you want a chocolate hit, you could do worse. Of course, if you want a really big chocolate hit, you should be making Nigella’s chocolate pudding for Christmas pudding haters with hot chocolate sauce.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Chocolate!, pg. 43

November 24, 2014

Sticky ginger marmalade loaf

Filed under: Cake, Uncategorized — Tags: , — lawsonanna @ 7:11 pm

Once again, it’s been some time since I’ve updated this blog. This isn’t due to a lack of baking – in fact, more the opposite. I’ve been baking and cooking a fair bit, especially with Christmas on the horizon (albeit a lot of my baking has made it’s way to the freezer for the time being). I just haven’t had the time to write about what I’ve done!

This sticky ginger marmalade loaf was a fairly simple bake – just mix everything together in a bowl (wet ingredients first, then beat in the dry ones), and bake for an hour. It also had the benefit of using up the ginger preserve we had lying around in the fridge.

There’s not a lot to say about this bake really – it does what it says on the tin. It’s a relatively good example of a ginger marmalade loaf. Nothing spectacular, but perfectly serviceable if you like ginger marmalade loaf!

PS No photos again I’m afraid – we’ve been truly rubbish at photo taking recently. I promise to try harder with the Christmas bakes.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Daily Cook Book, 15 January, pg. 21

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