• 22Aug

    Blackberries

    Me and my children gathered these blackberries on our way back from the library, I had meant to bring tubs but had forgotten and was sad about this as we passed a rather abundant patch of briars when my 7 yr old had an idea – we drank the water out of her water bottle and the babies beaker and then filled them with black berries. When we got back I rinsed them and froze them reasoning there wasn’t enough there to do much with.

    A quick tip is if you find they have lots of grubs or maggots in them then just give them a little soak in a weak solution of water and table salt, this extracts the bugs!

    So having assessed the local forage a bit better this year than I managed last year, I have decided that I want to attempt black berry wine for which I need a lot of black berries – looks like we are going to be out picking most days!

    Jean has requested crumbles and Mary cakes – I like to make ‘blood’ pies for halloween as well which I freeze. I think my main limit is going to be freezer space. We also spotted elderberries, rose hips, sloes, damsons, crab apples and haws so all I need for hedgerow jam is some rowan berries! People have been asking me if I am going to make it again and having already received a lovely jar of black current jam from one friend I feel I should get cracking!

    I am still sadly awaiting an allotment but some of the best forage I found last year was along the pathway next to them last year.

    I am still sorely missing the Perri Pear tree though that I used to get the pears from at the old house but I have just discovered that there are such things as community orchards so I am hoping we can get involved in same way with these things.

    My favourite book for forage is still Food For Free by Richard Mabey – I have a very old copy but there are upto date ones with photographs and stuff.

    The recipe I use for hedge row jam comes from a Womens Institute book.

  • 19Aug

    mini vegan banana bread

    Ingredients:

    3 really ripe bananas (if you do not have ripe bananas freeze unripe ones and then defrost them – they will turn brown)

    150 g/5 oz of soya or veg oil marg/spread

    150 g/5 oz of sugar

    175 g/6 oz of self raising flour

    1 teaspoon of vanillia essence

    1/4 of a cup of frozen red currents

    Method:

    Pre-heat oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees C/350 degrees F, mush the bananas up in a bowl, combine them with the flour, sugar and marg until creamy smooth. Add in the frozen red currents – if they are not frozen they will just squish into the mix turing it pink.

    Put in cake cases, filling them to a third and place in the oven for half and hour/30 minutes.

    Remove and place on a cooling rack.

    If you wish you can make up a sugar icing to poor on the top or use red current juice mixed with sugar and leave to dry giving a crunchy topping.

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  • 19Aug

    Cakes! Creativi Tea

    I have just hosted my second ever Creativi Tea – an event were people come to our house for a day of creative pursuits – we make things, bake things, and create things. I was a little out of practice with cakes but made some lemon rose cakes, plant pot cakes which were plain vanillia with flower toppers and last but not least my improvised mini banana bread with red currents, in berry cases from Lakeland – these were the vegan option.

    mini vegan banana bread

    I put out my one remaining butterfly food tray with crisps and did my standard plates of sandwiches – a couple of people have asked if we can do cake decorating at the next Creativi Tea which might be fun :)

    rose cakes for Creativi Tea

  • 18Mar

    Preparing to bake for Red Nose Day

    This red nose day I baked red nose cake pops. These are the basic cake pop recipe you get with machine covered in red fondant icing. These were incredibly popular.

    Cake Pop red noses

    I made gluten free vegan rice and banana scones.

    Red nose day cherry cakes

    Some without icing!

    Banana and rice flour scones

    Same recipe was used for the dinosaur cakes – this year red noses were nose-a-saurs so I thought dinosaur cakes would work well.

    Wheat/Gluten Free Vegan dinosaur cakes

    Recipe will be in a later post. I also made basic cupcakes in red cases.

    On the actual Friday I went along to Centre Arts in Cheltenham were they had their own Red Nose Day stuff going on!

    Red Nose Day Giant Cup Cake

    This giant cupcake red nose day cake was auctioned for £45 and was made by Vanilla Pod Bakery.

    And this fun giant red nose was made by a lady at the centre. With fresh orange juice soaked cherries!

    Red Nose Cake

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  • 11Nov

    This week we went to London and visited our favourite chocolate place one of Paul A. Young’s shops. This time we went for the one in the one at The Royal Exchange. I just love the smell – it doesn’t smell of fat like most chocolate places but more of the warm spiced cocoa that I imagine the Aztecs and the Incas had.

    Sarah Snell-Pym in a Paul A. Young Chocolate Shop

    My husband got me chocolate covered coffee beans which he has hidden from me so I don’t scoff the little delicates! To me they have slightly too much chocolate on but are a much nicer roast of bean than the ones you pick up in Neros. When you go to Paul’s shops or watch him on Youtube (like when your struggling to make nice chocolates for you little girls birthday coughs) you get a real sense of this is chocolate as an art form. The prices of course reflect this but I would rather save up and have these chocs than loads of the other stuff and too be honest I should not be eating a lot of the sweet stuff anyway!

    I also could not resist the book on chocolate that he’s written – I am planning to make chocolates for christmas after my resent successes with the process (I was heating the chocolate above its tempering point I didn’t know it existed nor that you could put it back or not heat above it to melt the choc so my chocolates were basically melting at room temp and their surfaces were all marred by just removing them from the moulds and they were not crisp but like an over warm chocolate bar you’ve left in the glove compartment). The book is full of ideas I can’t wait to try :)

    Chocolate and chocolate book by Paul A. Young

    I was also given a bunch of moulds by a friend who is moving to america at the end of the year. Roll on the chocolate tasting erm testing erm making erm eating.

    My husband bought himself some Marmite chocolate – Paul’s chocolate is the only stuff he will eat. He has also promised to try and get the book signed for me – which would be lovely.

    (Galaxy chocolate is still best for chocolate fondue!)

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  • 29Oct

    Jean selecting a diddy pumpkin from Primrose Vale Farm Shop

    Primrose Vale Farm Shop has this excellent pumpkin sorter which my kids love! They also have soooo many pumpkins and squashes it is unbelievable. They also had rather tasty apple turnovers which were covered in water icing and chocolate drizzel. They always have a fantastic lot of cakes and things and I also picked up some halloween paster too.

    Witches eat breakfast at Primrose Vale Farm Shop

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  • 07Aug

    Rose Cake close up

    I made these lovely English Rose cup cakes to represent the poses being given out at the Olympics and also as something pretty I could take along to my friends birthday party :)

    They are my a mix of my fresh strawberry cupcakes and chocolate chip cup cakes.

    The icing is butter cream:

    250 g of goats butter

    I start off by adding 100g of icing sugar and then blend it in and continue to add more until the mix is starting to not blend and more. Then I added two teaspoons of rose water for a lovely hint of turkish delight. This blended in gave just the right consistency for piping the icing. I then used strong disposable icing bags with the ends snipped off and a large start nozzle poked to the end.

    I then used a wooden skewer to smear a different food colouring in each bag. I used blue, yellow and the red looking ones were actually a peach colour. These are gell food colourings and not the liquid ones. I then put a third of the icing sugar into each bag and did a spiral out from the middle – I went quiet fast to get the rose effect.

    Two tone blue rose cupcakes Rose cakes on a plate English Rose cakes in cake stand

    English Rose Cakes

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  • 06Aug

    Strawberry and white chocolate sport and GB cupcakes

    These cupcakes were made with fresh strawberries!

    250 g of softened goats butter

    250 g of caster sugar

    300 g of self raising flour

    1 teaspoon of baking powder

    4 eggs

    I creamed all these together and then pre heat the oven to gas mark 4 (180 degrees C) and chopped the punnet of strawberries which I then mixed in gentle to the cake mix. I put a dollop in each cake case and baked in three batches for 30 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven.

    Strawberries

    strawberries in the mix

    Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

    After they had cooled I decorated with with molten white chocolate and sprinkles – the flower design was done using an icing nozzle which is just a slit or letter box shape.

    Cake Topping

    Large bar of white chocolate or white chocolate like cake topping

    Red, white and blue sprinkles or some kind.

    White chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes Red, White and Blue sprinkles White Flower topped strawberry cake

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  • 01Aug

    Tennis Ball Cake

    I adapted a minni cupcake recipe from the Hamlyn book 200 mini cupcake recipes. Their recipe is great and involves lemon liqueur mine does not! There’s are also not tennis balls :)

    I used for the cakes:

    250 g of softened goats butter

    250 g of caster sugar

    250 g of self raising flour

    4 eggs

    3 table spoons of lemon juice

    The rinds of 4 lemons

    I blended these all together and put a dollop of cake mix into each cup cake case and placed them onto the middle tray of my preheated over – gas mark 4 for 18 minutes. The mix did 24 cakes which I cooked in two batches after an initially collapsing failure from trying to do multiple batches in the oven like I do when baking biscuits :/

    Lemon burst cupcakes straight out of the oven

    I then popped them onto a cooling rack.

    Lemon burst cupcakes cooling

    Whilst the first batch was cooling and the second batch was cooking I made the icing.

    200 g of softened goats butter

    5 table spoons of lemon curd

    2 table spoons of lemon juice

    I mixed these together and just kept adding icing sugar until in was a nice spreadable consistency.

    I put a splotch on the top of each cake and spread it.

    Adding the lemon curd icing Spreading the lemon curd butter icing

    I then added bright yellow sugar crystals to the top (I bought these in Sainsbury’s).

    Adding sprinkles to the cup cakes

    I then mixed a little more icing sugar into the left over icing so that it would be a bit stiffer for pipping. I snipped the tip off of a disposable icing bag and filled it with the mix. I then pipped two curves on each cake to represent the white lines on a tennis ball.

    Cakes popped back in baking tray Adding the tennis ball lines to the cup cakes

    The cakes were mistaken as part of the art display :)

    Lemon tennis ball cup cakes Tennis Ball cakes in union jack cases

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  • 27Jul

    Edible Olympic Rings

    I made these ring cakes to celebrate the Olympics today – I put cake mix in our doughnut maker.

    250 g of caster sugar

    250 g of softened butter

    250 g of self raising flour

    4 eggs (I only had two unfortunately which maybe why my didn’t rise correctly)

    4 table spoons of milk

    1 table spoon of vanilla extract

    I creamed these ingredients together and snipped the end off of a disposable piping bag and filled it the cake mix. I then pipped this into the doughnut machine. I had to do a bit of trial and error to work out a good amount. I found filling the troughs up and closing the machine for 7 minutes worked best. I had an issue with them falling to pieces as I was trying get them out of the machine but found that if I slightly over filled so that an apron of escape mix surrounded each ring then I could use this to pull the rings out. I then snipped the excess cake off with scissors.

    putting the cake mix into the icing bag using an icing bag to put cake mis in the doughnut machine cake mix in the doughnut maker cooked ring cakes with over flow of mix Ring cakes cooling trimming the edges of the ring cakes Ring cakes ready to go

    I then poured out a bit of fondant icing mix into five bowls and added food colouring for each of the different rings of the Olympic flag. I then added a bit of water to each until I got the correct consistancy. I then duked the rings and popped them into some nice cake cases that I thought matched the abstract sporty look I was going for.

    Icing sugar ready to go Olympic ring coloured icing

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