Recipe Requests

If anyone would like a recipe, baking tips or help with choosing the best baking equipment - please ask!

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oven Overdrive

Had a baking day. Well, couple of hours as we have the FIL here for a few days and I thought some homecooking would be good (he travels a lot so doesnt get too much).

Have done some gingernuts, a lemon cruncy top cake and the treacle bread is in the oven.

The house smells fantastic.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vital Cookbooks

I really should be writing more in here.

I havent done a great deal of baking this past week - but I did knock out a batch of cranberry muffins (Craisins ROCK for this), some cookies and a loaf of bread.

If you havent already have a go at the basic white loaf in the River Cottage Family Cookbook, its really straight forward and turns out really well. It has a couple of good tips in there - high heat for the first ten minutes of baking, then down to moderate, then turn the loaf upside down in the tin, high heat again and brown the base off to finish it.

I picked up the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook as well and it is phenominal. Loads of lovely tips in there - a four week guided plan for creating sourdough starter, and a guide to making croissant ferment. So many things to try, with the croissants being top of the list.

So much to do! So much to do!

But its all good for the Soul ;)

Monday, October 18, 2010


I have been getting things together over the last week for my new bakey projects - cake decoration. It started all innocent-like with getting swept up in the cupcake fever that seems to be taking over everyone. Everywhere you go you see specific tins, cases, decorating supplies and stands - all dedicated to cupcakes. I staved off the urge to go mad for these for a long time, but have eventually succombed to the idea.

Lucky for me, my Mam did a cake decoration and sugarcraft course at college around 13 years ago. She spent an absolute fortune on equipment for her new hobby, and after a couple of years, put down the pastry cutters and palette knife in favour of holistic therapies. I have nicked them. A great big workmans tool kit of goodies. There were even colourants and glitters in there - out of date, mind you, but there none-the-less.

So, I am armed with some equipment, now I need some inspiration. I am after the Martha Stewart cupcake book - I flicked through it in a hobby store the other day and there are some fantastic ideas in there. I need some practise too. I have only done rudimentary piping before, so no doubt will have icing stuck to my glasses before long.

Rock on.

Monday, October 11, 2010

So my eustress trigger is baking. Like you didnt know already.

There are two different kinds of stress - Distress and Eustress. We feel distress when we are unhappy, agitated or anxious about an activity or event, we feel eustress when we are uplifted, focussed and driven by an activity or event.

Something that I teach in my meditation classes is to chronicle your stress levels via events and activities. This can be done over a day, week, year or lifetime. Whatever you need to do in order to get a handle on what consitutes a stress trigger for you.

So - take an average day, average events and figure out a timeline. With each event, give it a stressor indicator from 1 (being not stressful) to 10 (being very stressful). Next look at the type of stress that has occurred. Is it something that has caused distress - anxiety, friction, anger, worry, or eustress - anticipation, excitement, happiness, achievement.

By looking at these things you will begin to figure out what consitutes stress triggers for you. Obviously everyone has different ones, so figuring out what yours are is a valuable exercise. When you hit on a stress trigger, and you are aware of it, you have a greater control over your reaction to it, and thus a greater control over your stress level. If you know that a certain event or situation will set off a distress trigger you can pre-empt your mental and emotional response to it, and diffuse your reaction. And the flip side is that when you recognise your eustress triggers you can encourage and activley enhance the uplifting experience that comes with good stress.

From a daily stress trigger examination, punch it up to weekly, yearly and lifetime. Take all the time you need. You are examining your past emotional and mental responses to stress in order to control your future ones, to allow for a clear-headed response to all levels of stress.

Stress is a part of life. But it doesnt have to be a bad part.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Cakey Disaster

Well it happens ever so often...

I finally got into the kitchen today after a busier-than-usual week doing DIY stuff. I have missed baking. Its such a chill-out activity for me, I can gather my thoughts and focus on each operation of the process. Its a clarity of mind thing.

Anyway, I knocked together a batch of traditional gingernut biscuits to start off, just because there were only a couple of hobnobs left in the packet and you NEED biscuits to live. They are an old favourite, so its a no-brainer when it comes to process. I make them extra gingery and add some cinnamon because thats the way we like it, even though its not part of the recipe.

As I was doing this our next door neighbour who we have been plying with free eggs from our hens, showed up with two massive bags of Bramley apples from his tree. So a Devonshire Apple Cake was decided to be the first option to use some of the apples. I have been meaning to have a go at this cake for a while and have been hanging out and waiting for the apples to start dropping.

So - get the mix together. Its a standard cake mix - flour, eggs, fat, sugar - add some chopped walnuts and sultanas and blitz in the mixer for a couple of minutes. No problem. Grate apples. Prep tim. All the usual stuff. No real difficulty here. Pour in half the mix. Spread out the grated apples and dust with cinnamon. Put on other half of mix.

Dont have the right size cake pan. Oh dear. What a time to find this out. Still, its only an inch under what the recipe calls for so I figure it will be fine. Hm.

The cake goes in and is set for and hour and a quarter. The buzzer goes and I peek in. There is cake mix all over the floor of the oven and down the sides of the pan. Bugger. No worries, so it wont look too good, but at least it should taste nice. I try with the tester and it comes out clean. So out it comes and starts to cool on the wire tray.

After doing a bunch of other stuff (including prepping some raw horseradish from the garden which I will talk about later), making pizza dough and bathing the baby. I come downstairs, have dinner and we are going to have cake and tea as dessert. Slice into cake. Big gooey mess of a cake.

Right now we are about three hours after I starting making the thing and its only just come out of the oven. So either the cooking time is off or the oven is on the blink.

There are some pics to follow, but hopefully it will at least taste nice and be fully cooked by now.

Keep your fingers crossed ;)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

No Baking

I have been redecorating the house so had no chance to get into the kitchen properly.

I am missing it terribly!

Still there is a blueberry muffin recipe to put up soon (with lots of pics) and I am hankering after a lemon cake and some ginger biscuits. I can feel the whole gingerbread season coming upon us..

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Quiche Construction

When I think Baking I usually go straight to the sweet side of it. Cakes, biscuits and even sweet breads, so I thought I would shake up a bit and put down a savory bake - starting with something simple, a quiche.

They really don't take a lot of thought to stick together, and its more a matter of assembly and construction than it is measuring and mixing.

Its helps if you have your own hens, and a ridiculous amount of good, free-range eggs that need using up, but thats just me.

Basics - use a roll out pastry. Yes its a cheat.

Assemble what fillings you would like. In this one I did a basic ham, onion, sweet pepper and cheese.

Beat the eggs  and add some milk to dilute. If you have some cream, chuck that in too. This pie dish was about 8 inches across, and I used half a dozen eggs.

Construct - layer the onions, ham and pepper (or whatever fillings you are using) in the pie dish and cover with the eggy mixture. Top with cheese and a few twists of black pepper, and perhaps some herbs of your choice.

Bake in a medium oven until it is done. Its done when the egg has "set" - you can test by lightly shaking the pie dish - if the egg looks runny then it isnt quite finished.

It should last around three days.

Have fun!