Gastronomically Terrific

June 16, 2015

Icthus cheese straws

Filed under: biscuits, Easter — Tags: — lawsonanna @ 9:55 pm

I decided to make these just before my mum was visiting for the week, knowing that she loves cheese straws. Can’t say I mind eating them, either.

I assumed these wouldn’t take too long to make. In terms of mixing the dough, I was right. It’s slightly different to a normal dough in that you add celery salt, paprika, grated Red Leicester cheese and cheddar.

Cutting out the straws, however, was a total faff. Once you’ve rolled out the dough, the recipe states that you should cut out 6 inch long pieces which are quarter of an inch wide. Now, I don’t know if y0u’ve ever cut food into 1/4 inch (or 6mm) pieces, but it’s SMALL. And once you’ve cut out these tiny straws, you need to bend them over into fish (icthus) shapes. If they don’t break at this point, they will when you pick them up to put them on the baking tray ready to go into the oven. Somehow I managed to salvage a number of them, but in the end I gave up and just did larger fish shapes.

They only take 10 minutes or so in the oven (if they’re larger they take a little longer), but regardless of the faff above, they’re pretty tasty. Hubby and I ate a third of them the evening I made them – and had to resist eating more so there were some left for my mum. Oops. I would advise not trying to make them 6mm wide each though – you don’t need to for them to taste (and look) good.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris, Judith Merrell, pg. 50-51

June 12, 2015

Easter bonnet cake

Filed under: Cake, Easter, gift — Tags: , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:37 pm

Easter bonnet cake from front sideAnother recipe that I made for my mum’s birthday, even though it’s officially an Easter recipe. I’ve been wanting to make this for ages (it looks good in the photos, and sounded pretty easy to make considering the potential end result), and messing up the rest of my mum’s present (basically I ordered the wrong thing) meant it was a good excuse to make this.

The cake itself is simple – it’s just a basic lemon sponge cake. The only difference is you bake it in a Pyrex dish so that it gives the right shape for a bonnet. It’s the decorating that takes time. You place the cake on a circle of icing, then cover the cake with icing after you’ve used a cake cooling rack to mark out squares. You then make flowers out of icing to place around the edge of the cake, and tie a ribbon around the bottom of the cake (which is a great device for hiding the joins in the icing!). Finally, you can create some icing butterflies to add to the cake. All relatively easy if you have the right cutters – which, for the most part, I did. And I was relatively pleased with the end result.

Unfortunately however, unlike the Mothering Sunday sweets, I didn’t get to try any of this (when offered, I foolishly went for the flapjacks. Yes, they were good – but I know what flapjacks taste like), so I can’t say if the cake was tasty or not. My mum told me it was good though, so I guess I’ll choose to believe her.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris, Judith Merrell, pg. 38-39

June 10, 2015

Lamb skewers

Filed under: Easter, lunch, meat — Tags: , , , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:24 pm
Ready for the oven...

Ready for the oven…

Something I thought it might be nice to try making myself for lunch, these lamb skewers were actually really easy to make. The evening before I mixed together the (really rather tasty) marinade of olive oil, sherry and garlic, cut up the lamb and soaked it in the marinade.

The next day all I needed to do was cut up some pepper and courgette, peel a couple of shallots, and thread all of this (along with some button mushrooms and apricots) onto some skewers, interspersing the vegetables with chunks of marinaded meat. It took ten minutes to cook it all under the grill, and (along with some leftover rice and peas) I had a really tasty, if rather large, lunch ready really rather quickly.

... and ready to eat

… and ready to eat

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, by Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris and Judith Merrell, pg. 32-33

May 10, 2015

Easter nest torte

Filed under: Cake, Easter, party — Tags: , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:04 am

Easter nest torte CUThe last of my three Easter bakes, this one was somewhat more complicated than the other two. I have made it before, which helped, and I really wanted to give it a go because it has a chocolate mousse layer – something you can’t really eat when pregnant, and there were three no-longer pregnant ladies in the house (me included) for our Easter weekend gathering.

There are four stages to making this cake. The first is to make a basic chocolate sponge, so it starts off fairly easily.

The second stage is to make a chocolate collar to go round the cake, which you need to do once the sponge has baked (so you can measure its exact circumference). Making the chocolate collar is simply a case of melting some dark chocolate and pouring it onto a strip of greaseproof paper that you’ve measured out to the right size. The tricky bit is getting the chocolate at the right time so you can wrap it around the cake without it breaking.

The third stage is to make the chocolate mousse by egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and milk. You then boil more milk, pour it over the egg yolk mixture, and cook them together gently. You then add the gelatine and chocolate to the mousse. Once the mousse has started to thicken, you add whipped cream and then pour the mousse mixture onto the top of the chocolate cake.

Once the cake has been in the fridge for a couple of hours, the fourth and final stage is to add shards of chocolate (I used Flake) to the top of the mousse layer, and some Mini eggs in the centre to make it look like a nest.

Not a recipe I attempt often because it is quite complex (made even more so by the fact that I use Vege-gel so my vegetarian husband can eat it), but if you manage to make it work, it looks and tastes amazing!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Simply Cadbury’s Chocolate. Joanna Farrow, pg. 120-121

All the Easter cakes

All my Easter bakes

May 9, 2015

Bunny muffins

Filed under: Cake, Easter — Tags: , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:46 am

Bunny muffins The second of my three Easter bakes, this was another easy choice from Hallelujah! Easter.

The cakes themselves are just simple fairy cakes with a lemon flavouring (just add the zest of half a lemon to the basic mixture).

The cakes are then iced with a lemon icing (simply combine icing sugar and the juice of the lemon you just zested).

The most complicated thing about this bake is adding the bunny faces, and even that isn’t very hard – simply add a cut-up marshmallow for the ears, a cut-up marshmallow for the cheeks, a mini marshmallow for the nose, and two Smarties for the eyes.

Flowers, bunny muffins and torte looking down

A selection of my Easter bakes

A really easy bake which, personally, I thought looked pretty good for the amount of effort involved.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris and Judith Merrell, pg. 42-43

May 8, 2015

Rocky road to Emmaus

Filed under: biscuits, Cake, Easter — Tags: , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:30 am

Daffodils I’m probably writing about these a little late, but over the Easter weekend I did a range of baking, primarily in preparation for a Bank Holiday visit and Easter Egg hunt with four toddlers (and their, rather hungrier, parents). This is the first of three bakes I made.

Once again, it’s a relatively simple recipe from Hallelujah! Easter cook book, in order to make my life simple. You melt together butter, golden syrup and chocolate, then add this mixture to bashed up biscuits, raisins and rum. Once the mixture has cooled slightly you add marshmallows (unless you’re making the vegetarian version to keep your husband happy, in which case you leave out the marshmallows altogether. I did both – some wRocky road CUith, some without).

Once you’ve poured the mixture into a baking tin, all you need to do is leave it in the fridge to set. No oven needed, and the result is some very chocolatey rocky road.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris and Judith Merrell, pg. 55

February 26, 2015

Trinity Cake

Filed under: Cake, Easter — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:59 am

Trinity cake with slice cut out from aboveI specifically hadn’t planned to bake much in the near future, knowing that soon there would be a new baby in the house. But this baby is taking their time, so I’ve found myself with a fair bit of spare time. So, on Pancake Day, I was hunting through a Hallelujah! Easter recipe book to remind myself of the amounts needed for pancake ingredients. As I flicked through the book, I realised that a lot of the recipes were pretty simple and used ingredients we already had lying around the house. So I figured it was a good book to use to make relatively easy, simple-to-find-ingredients-for-recipes until this late baby made an appearance.

The first thing I made was the Trinity Cake. I have made this before, but it was a couple of years ago. It’s actually a super-easy cake to make, but made a bit more complex by the fact that each layer is flavoured slightly differently. So there is a vanilla sponge layer, a chocolate sponge layer and a coffee sponge layer. Each layer is sandwiched together with buttercream, and then the top is simply dusted with icing sugar. The only time-consuming element is mixing together 3 different sponge cakes instead of one.

One thing worth mentioning is that the recipe suggests using three 7in round sandwich tins. I used three 6in square sandwich tins – simply because that’s the type of tin I had three of, and I couldn’t be bothered to cook each layer in the oven separately. It turns out that this was the right choice; there was only just enough mixture to cover the bottom of my 6in square tins. It turned out fine, but if you did want to use 7in tins you should probably make more mixture than the recipe suggests (which is 50g of each basic sponge ingredient plus one egg).

For a quick and easy weekend cake, it’s fine – but it’s not very exciting. The flavourings are pretty mellow (although I guess it would be easy to add extra coffee or chocolate for a stronger taste), and it is, when you think about it, just a basic sponge cake. I’m not sure it’s something I would choose to make for a special occasion like Easter though (unless you really are a novice baker).

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter by Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris and Judith Merrell, pg. 56-57

May 4, 2014

Easter nests

Filed under: Cake, Easter — Tags: , , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:15 pm

Easter nests and glassesSomething else that I planned to make over the Easter weekend (funnily enough, what with them being called Easter nests and all), and that got put on the back burner due to all the other activities and baking happening at the time. Instead, they got made over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend for two reasons – because I still had a supply of mini eggs and flakes to use up, and because I wanted fast and easy cakes to make for an impromptu barbeque we decided to have.

Easter nests are actually just chocolate fairy cakes, coated in either a chocolate butter-cream or chocolate fudge frosting, and topped with chopped up flakes and mini eggs. They look pretty good, taste amazing and are (for the most part) dead easy to make. So easy to make, in fact, that Dan did the actual baking on this one. I just did the decoration. I say ‘just’, but I did choose to make a chocolate fudge frosting, which is a little harder than a chocolate butter-cream. But it tastes much richer and, in my opinion, better!

On the whole, these turned out pretty well. The one problem with them was that I couldn’t get the mini eggs to stick. This was entirely my own fault though – I answered the phone as I was adding the frosting to the cakes, meaning there was a bit of a delay between adding the frosting and then the mini eggs. Enough of a delay for the frosting to dry a little too much. Although nobody seemed to mind… I made 12 of these, and after our barbeque, there were only 4 left…

Who made it: Dan and Anna

Recipe: Fairy Cakes by Joanna Farrow, pg. 34-5

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 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)

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