Monday, 1 May 2017

Hello Kitty Cakes and Francis Quinn

Well its been a while! Life with 2 children makes it hard to do anything! Not that I am complaining really as I love it!



Last year I won some tickets to go to the Cake and Bake show in Manchester. I went with a friend from my baking group and we had a lovely time wandering round looking at everything. There were some celebrity bakers and we stumbled across a 'Lounge' area where you booked an appointment with a host of Bake Off people that were there so we signed up to see Francis Quinn!! I was very excited and couldn't wait to speak to her ! But we had to think of a baking query to ask as this was the idea behind the meet and greet.  Neither of us could think of a question!! Then I randomly thought of this Hello Kitty baking Mould that I had bought ages ago and every time I used it the cakes would be all squished when they came out......



mmmm look delicious right?

Of course they look like Hello Kitty !


Frances is such a lovely person - we chatted on the sofa for ages and it was like chatting to an old friend! She lives in Market Harborough which is where I grew up so we discussed all the best cake shops in the area and both agreed that the muffins from Hambleton Bakery are the best that there are.  She said that she was working with the bakery on a few things Quintessential Jaffa cakes are one of the many things she is working on at the moment which I will check the next time I am there!!Also we both had a mutual love for this fantastic farm shop called Farndon Fields. There is a lovely tea room, lots of local produce grown on the farm, fantastic butchers , beautiful flowers and pretty gifts. I always pop in when I go back to see mum - they have the best new potatoes, strawberries and asparagus that I have ever tasted and am happy to pay a little more... however I digress...
There were no awkward silences talking to Frances! She showed us her notebook that she uses when she is working on her projects - she is so talented, I loved all her sketches. After a good 20 mins chat she asked us our baking dilema! And I explained about the cake moulds - she told me to grease them well and when the cakes were cooked to put the whole thing in the fridge or even the freezer to cool, something I hadn't thought of, I am not the most patient of bakers and tried to get the cakes out as soon as they came out of the oven! Big Rookie mistake! Our lovely chat came to a close and we had to have some photos.....


Surprised!


So a week later I had another go at making these cakes and did as she suggested and am pleased to say they worked!! I was so pleased...






Friday, 11 November 2016

Pampers Baby Dry - Review

I have been reviewing Pampers Baby Dry on behalf of SuperSavy Me a website that offers reviews and opportunities to try new products. So I entered to try the Pampers Baby Dry nappies and was lucky to have been chosen to try them out or rather Henry was trying them.
 I normally buy the cheapest nappies that are about and this is usually a supermarkets own brand so it was great to try something that I don't normally use.








So what did I think? To be honest I was very impressed. Firstly they are a lot slimmer and less bulky than other nappies I have used so putting trousers over them was a lot easier! They also feel really soft so they feel nice against your little ones derriere!. Finally they were great for nights . They kept Henry dry all night long and didn't leak which is a bonus!

Overall I was really pleased with them and shall be using them as my first choice now. Thanks to SuperSavyme for the opportunity to try them.


Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Great British Bake Off

So an end of an era.... The bake off as we know it is coming to an end. I am very sad as I love the bake off - it works perfectly with Paul and Mary and cheeky Mel and Sue. Not sure what the new version will be like next year but I am sure that I will watch it!

This year I decided to have a go at a few of the technical challenges and some of the bakes..... It was hard work doing this each week so I missed a few of them! I also joined in with the Twitter peeps which was fun as there were some lovely comments.. I am starting to get the hang of this Twitter thing !

So for the first challenge I made some Jaffa cakes. They looked simple to make and they were and I would probably make them again and this time try to make them neater!

It was a bit fiddly getting the chocolate on and the kitchen looked a nightmare!
Another challenge was a Drizzle cake - one of my favourites and I decided to have a go using my Bundt tin and I was really pleased how it came out...



This was a classic Lemon Drizzle cake - my favourite!


Next it was Viennese whirls - again something I hadn't done before. I had some help from Molly on this one...


She drew the circles that I needed to pipe the biscuits on to


In Hindsight I realised that I made these too large! They tasted lovely but were very rich you could only eat one!!


The next challenge was Gingerbread houses and I didn't have time to make these! So I made some Gingerbread cupcakes with lemon icing sprinkled with mini gingerbread men.

These were very easy and delicious and would make them again.

Next up was a Bakewell Tart - again one I haven't made before, I'm not too keen on the icing so I did a 'drizzle' effect!


I missed out a few after this as I couldn't keep up! wasn't too keen on Bread Week so made this delicious Chocolate and Orange Brioche. I couldn't believe how easy it was to make!


 It was a bit time consuming but I quite liked making it in stages ..



This is definitely one that I would make again it was light and melt in your mouth tasty..
I really enjoyed these challenges and love doing things out of my comfort zone. I'm already now for some Christmas Baking challenges....


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Cranberry and white chocolate chip cookies


Hello! I found this in my drafts it is about a year old now! Molly looks so little! I remember these biscuits, they were delicious and I have made them a few times - I made them for a cookie swap that I was involved in last year . The recipe is from Nigellas Christmas book.
Molly thought they were good!

Cranberry and White Chocolate chip cookies
Makes about 30
50g Plain flour
half a teaspoon baking powder
half a teaspoon salt
75g Oats
125g butter
75g dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 Tsp vanilla extract
75g Dried cranberries
50g Pecans roughly chopped
150g White chocolate chips
 ·         Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment
·         Measure the flour, baking powder, salt and rolled oats into a bowl
·         Put the butter and sugars in another bowl and beat togeher until creamy, then beat in the egg and vanilla extract
·         Beat in the flour, baking powder , salt and oat mixture, then fold in the cranberries, pecans and chocolate chips.
·         Roll tablespoonfuls of dough in your hands to make balls and put on the baking tray and squish the dough with a fork.
·         Bake for 15 mins.
·         EAT!
This is taken from Nigella Christmas book















Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Flamingo party for a 4 year old

So Molly has turned 4 and wanted a flamingo party! Ok that is different! I thought she would like a Princess or Frozen party ! Those are her 2 main loves at the moment but she decided on Flamingos after seeing them at the Zoo over the summer.

So I went into overdrive mode and scoured pinterest and Google for ideas and surprisingly there are lots of 4 year olds having Flamingo parties!

I bought Flamingo napkins and straws and then made some Flamingo bunting and Flamingo Cake. We also had a few inflatable flamingos around the room. We played pin the tail on the Flamingo! Flamingo musical statues and the good old Pass the Parcel which I always find quite stressful remembering who has had a go and making sure no one is left out!! This time I was prepared! Every time a child took off a layer I gave them a sticker (flamingo of course!) Genius! worked a treat, I also used this technique for other games and they were all covered in stickers by the end of the party!.


I like any excuse to make bunting as I find it so satisfying! I made lots of it but forgot to take a photo of it strung up..




The best bit for me was getting Molly involved in making the party bags. I took the idea off of Pinterest and used a pink cupcake case and then painted pink on for the rest of the Flamingo. Molly loved it and we were a proper production line as we made 17 of them! Across the middle I wrote the name of each child .




 Inside the party bags were the usual stickers, sweeties and bubbles - I added a cookie mix and cookie cutter for the little ones to make at home .


And finally the cake!!! Now I thought this was going to be easy..... It sort of looks like a Flamingo... Molly was thrilled with it so that is all that matters!

 And here is the birthday girl blowing out the candles


Molly had a lovely time with all her friends and some really thoughtful presents so of course we had to make thank you Flamingo cards.... Again Molly loved helping with her handprint! So pleased how they turned out....


I wonder what she will ask for next year.....

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

My discoveries at the Summber BBC Good Food Show

I was lucky again with the Good Food Show and won tickets!! I was so excited as I really loved the Winter show so had been entering all the competitions I could find to get tickets!
I went with a friend on a Friday this time - Stephen took the day off and looked after the monkeys!! We got there early-ish which was great as it can get so busy that you can't get to the stalls that you want to. I did a bit of research before hand this time on Twitter to see which companies would be there. The bargains I got from the Winter Show were fabulous.

I wanted to get a bottle of gin ( I know my priorities!) and was looking forward to sampling a few of the Gin stalls - I had in my mind a Damson or Rhubarb gin but when I tried this little beauty I just knew I had to have it!



It is similar to Pimms but not as sweet  - it is infused with Earl Grey Tea, borage, lemon verbena and other botanicals. sounds odd but oh it is delicious - served with lots of ice and lemonade.





The only other item I was specifically looking for was something called Brownie Butter.I had seen a lot of coverage about it on Twitter and was very curious  Eventually after looking at the guide a million times and not seeing the stand we found it - It is made by a company called Gower Cottage Brownies It is a business run by Kate who has sold hundreds of Brownies from her place in Wales. The Brownie Butter  didn't fail to disappoint! It is heaven I could (and did) eat it straight from the jar. It didn't last long! We had friends to stay and used it on vanilla ice cream - everyone agreed it was delicious - glad I only bought the one jar!!!!




One of the things I love most about the Good Food Show is stumbling across something delicious! This is one of those very things - Tortilla mix! Sounds odd but it was yummy. I love a Spanish Omelette and frequently buy the ones that are ready made as proper Tortillas take a long time to cook - all the potatoes and onions cooked in olive oil on a slow heat so that they caramelise does take a while. There is a small business called Zantiago who have slowcooked the onions and potatoes for you so all you have to do is add the eggs! Easy peasy. I cooked this for my 3 year old and 1 year old and they loved it! Unfortunately you can currently only get these in a handful of places in London but they are looking to sells in Delis around the UK.




The other item that I tried but didn't buy at the show but have subsequently is this delicious Ice Cream from a company called Oppo



There are 3 flavours - Salted Caramel with a hint of Lucuma, Madagasca with a hint of Baobab and Mint Choc Swirl with a hint of Spirulina. I tried the Vanilla one at the show and was amazed at how delicious it was and the whole tub only has 82 calories in! They are sugar free ice creams with only natural ingredients to make them taste so sweet. The Salted caramel is absolutely delicious and has a Maple syrup taste to it the exotic sounding  Lucuma is from Peru and is shaped like a melon with golden flesh and a big stone inside. In The Vanilla is has Baobab which is an African plant the pulp is sweet and has a slight tang and according to their website is somewhere between a caramelised pear and a grapefruit! Finally in the Mint choc ice cream is the weirdly named Spirulina! This is a leaf from the South China Sea and provides the deep green colour to the ice cream. I am looking forward to trying this one next - I am sure it will be as delicious as the others.
Finally as we left the Good Food Show there was a Goody Bag with all of these delicious things inside! What a treat!!!!


Overall it was a fantastic day and we didn't even get a chance to visit the BBC Gardeners World show that was in the other hall! Would have liked to have a 2 day ticket to come back again!!! And we didn't watch any of the Chefs in the Super-theatre perhaps I will do next time!!
Really looking forward to the Winter Show now! There is so much to see and EAT!

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Custard Creams and Bourbon Biscuits


I am so slow at blogging! These biscuits are from a couple of months ago - as some of you are aware I belong to a baking group which I love - it is a group of amateur bakers and we meet once a month. Each month has a theme and we are all encouraged to bring a bake sweet or savoury on that theme. Aprils' theme (yes long ago! have been to 2 since then!!) was Best of British I thought long and hard and decided to make Bourbon Biscuits and Custard Creams. I always tend to do a sweet bake ! We also try and make something at each meeting and we made scones. I do love a scone and I don't tend to make them but I had forgotten how delicious they were and have vowed to make some more!




At the time of this event we had moved out of our flat and were renting a friends house for a few weeks whilst we waited to move into our 'Forever Home' which meant that all of my cookbooks were in storage!!!! This was an absolute nightmare for me as I love my books and hate to be parted from them ( we also didn't have a dishwasher which was another crisis! Washing up!!! ) So that meant that I had to use the good old internet for a recipe. 

I decided to use a recipe from a blog as this gives you more of an idea on how to make them and they tend to let you know of any tips and hints. So the recipe I chose for the Bourbons is from Choclette who blogs at Tin and Thyme I am a regular reader of hers and it was lovely to be able to use one of her recipes. In her recipe she adds A Wee Dram to them but I didn't have any alcohol so mine were plain! I also didn't have a special cookie cutter so had to do hearts
They were easy to make thankfully as I was on a bare minimum mixer/utensil mission as it was all in storage! I didn't realise that Golden Syrup was used in these so had to buy some and it came in this lovely commemerative tin which was an added bonus.

 I made a lot of them as there are a lot of people at the baking club and they all like to try everything! I had to do them in batches as there were so many of them and burnt some of them as I wasn't used to the oven!

The custard creams came from Nigellas blog  They were also incredibly easy to make and again I didn't have the correct cutter so they became hearts too.
Both of the biscuits were British to the core using Golden Syrup and Birds Custard.
They tasted delicious and were eaten by the group with glee . I didn't realise just how easy they were to make and I have put the cookie stamps on my Christmas List so that I can make some more.




And not forgetting my homemade scones!!