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31 Jan 2012

Sweet Treats

When the chill of January seeps into your bones and starts getting you down there's nothing like a little sweet treat to perk your spirits.

29 Jan 2012

Viennese Whirls

Last night I came home from work craving my pajamas, a lazy take away and a evening in front of the TV with Kris and the cats.  Those plans were scuppered by you, Sky Arts.  For some reason or another, the Sky Arts film crew were filming a scene for an upcoming drama in the courtyard outside of my garden.  There were huge lights, cameras, generators and lots of people milling around just beyond my little garden fence.  Realising I wasn't going to get the quiet relaxing night I so craved I took myself to the kitchen for a little therapeutic baking and to keep an eye on what was going on outside, of course.  

The result of my baking were these yummy little Viennese Whirls.  Viennese Whirls were a constant favorite in my childhood home.  The cream, the jam, the delicate crumbly biscuit I mean, what's not to love?!  Sunday morning always saw us gathered round a plate of the adorable cookies, the Sunday papers scattered over the dining room table and a huge pot of tea surrounded by five mugs.  There's something about a Viennese Whirl I find so comforting, I just felt I had to delve back into my past and recreate those lazy Sunday mornings I used to love so much. I mean, I wasn't getting my lazy Saturday night so made damn sure to get my relaxed Sunday morning.

Viennese Whirls

250g unsalted butter, very soft
250g plain flour
50g icing sugar
50g cornflour
1tsp vanilla extract
2tbsp milk

Preheat your oven to 160C and line a baking tray with parchment.  Take a circular cutter, around three inches in diameter and trace 16 circles onto the parchment around one centimeter apart.  Flip the parchment over so the ink is on the bottom.

Place the butter, sugar ad flours into a food processor and pulse to combine.  Once the dough starts to come together scrape the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle.  Pipe whirls of dough onto the lined baking tray using your stencils as a guide.

Bake cookies for 15 minutes, or until just golden and allow to cool on the tray.  Once cool sandwich the cookies together using butter cream and jam.  Eat with a pot of tea and the Sunday papers.  Slippers are essential. 

27 Jan 2012

Holga for Nikon

Last week, my lovely boyfriend came home from work clutching a tiny little parcel.  Upon my inquiring on the contents he handed it over and said 'it's for you'.   Excitedly, and a little suspiciously, I opened the little white box to reveal a teeny lens for my camera.  Closer inspection told me it was none other than a Holga lens purpose built for a Nikon DSLR.  How fun!    We already own several Holga cameras but I'm sure fellow owners will probably share my distaste for the super expensive film and the uncertainty of the image quality.  So many times have I become owner to a little blue wallet full of black prints.  My amazing little lens takes all of that worry away, allowing you to view your images straight away.

I just love the gloomy atmosphere it gives to the image.  Just perfect for a winters stroll down the banks of the industrial River Tyne.

25 Jan 2012

Passion Fruit Curd

Passion fruit is one of my very favorite flavours and I'm always looking for new ways to include this delicious fruit in my baking.  I recently came across a recipe for passion fruit curd in one of my monthly foodie reads and instantly folded the corner of the page for future reference.  And by future reference I mean the time it takes me to get to the market, buy ten passion fruits and arrive back home clutching my bounty with an excited grin on my face.

So far I have slathered this beautiful curd upon home made scones, hunks of sourdough toast, fresh crumpets and have even gone as far as to simply spoon it right into my open mouth.  It really is that delicious!  I would recommend cooking the mixture for longer than the recipe states as this is quite a soft set spread and I'd prefer it a little stiffer.  

Passion Fruit Curd

8 ripe passion fruits
3 large eggs
150g caster sugar
2tbsp cornflour
Put the passion fruit pulp in a food processor and whizz to separate the seeds from all the juicy bits. Scrape into a sieve set over a medium saucepan, pushing through as much pulp as you can. Reserve 2 tbsp of the seeds, then discard the rest. 

Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and set over a low heat. Whisk until all the butter has melted then, using a wooden spoon, stir constantly until the passion fruit curd has thickened to a similar consistency as lemon curd. Don't be tempted to turn the heat up to speed up the process as the eggs will curdle; make sure you stir right around the edge, too, as this is where it might catch first. 

Sieve the curd into a clean bowl to get rid of any eggy bits that may have curdled. Stir in the reserved seeds and cool, before spooning into jars and chilling. Curd will keep in the fridge for a week. Eat smothered on hot buttered toast, crumpets or scones (see related recipes).

19 Jan 2012

Red Velvet

For some reason or another red velvet cupcakes have always alluded me.  Every time I've tested a recipe I was faced with the exact same problem. They didn't rise, they had hard and cracked tops and just didn't look like a cake you'd ever want near your mouth.  I've always blamed the oven, I mean, it can't be me.... can it?

Since the move I've obviously gained a brand new oven, so now was the perfect time to test my hypothesis!  Was it the evil old oven with the seal hanging off (thanks mister landlord) or was it in fact, me.  Rather than following any old recipe, I took elements of all of my failed attempts and created a recipe which I believe could solve my little problem.  Turns out I was right, it was the bloody oven!  These cakes came out perfectly!  The rose beautifully and have an amazingly light and fluffy texture.

When it came to showing my first red velvet success I instantly knew I had to use my adorable red car cupcake wrappers from Just Bake!  Normally I'm not a fan of cupcake wrappers, too fussy for my tastes but the moment I laid eyes upon these little sweethearts I was smitten.  Reminiscent of the wonderful Orla Kielys car print designs, they're just perfect for showing off your creations.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

65g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
130g plain flour
125ml buttermilk
1 large egg
1tbsp cocoa powder
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp white wine vinegar
1tsp red food colouring paste
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 160C and line a cupcake tray with 12 liners.

Sift together flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt then, in a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk and red food colouring together.  Set aside.

In a bowl attached to an electric mixer whip the butter and sugar together until the mixture turns pale and creamy.  With the speed up high, add the egg and whisk for a few minutes.  Add 1/2 of the flour mixture followed by the buttermilk and colouring before adding the remainder of the flour.  Mix well to combine.

Working quickly mix the bicarb and vinegar together allowing it t fizz up slightly before adding it to the cake batter. Quickly fold in into the cake batter.

Divide the batter between the cupcake liners and bake for 23 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the tin for five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

16 Jan 2012


Someone told me that moustaches are trendy right now.  Fuzzy, soup straining top lip caterpillars...  I have to admit they're just not for me, Munchtashes on the other hand...  A tastier, less hairy option which we ladies can indulge in also?!  Now that I can handle!

9 Jan 2012

Cupcake Push Pops

I recently stumbled upon an amazing idea, an idea so amazing yet so simple that I can't believe I didn't think of it earlier.  That idea is, wait for it.... cupcake push pops!!  Awesome, right?!  I used to love push pops when I was a kid, then when posh pops became like, so totally passé, ring pops were my new love.  Any new and novel way to eat something sweet and I was first in line, pocket money in my clammy, clenched fist.  So when I discovered these cupcake versions I instantly purchased the containers and baked up a batch.  Needless to say my friends were super impressed.  Ooohs and ahhhs were soon drowned out by mmmms as the adorable treats were devoured in an instant.  

The thing I love most about these push pops are the simplicity behind them.  All it takes is a batch of your favorite mini cupcakes, your favorite frosting, some cases and hey presto, you can make push pops.  Just pop a mini cupcake into the case, top with frosting and repeat.  Add a few cute sprinkles and you're ready to paint the town red.

Even little Muffin enjoys them.

Now, if you excuse me.  I have more cupcake push pops to make. 

Lil tip from me, a champagne flute is the perfect size to hold your cases as you pipe.  Just saying ;)

4 Jan 2012

Snapshots of Prague

I thought I'd share some snapshots from my recent trip to Prague.  Prague is the most stunningly beautiful place at Christmas, every door is adorned with a wreath and the scent of cinnamon lingers in the air.  I have never experienced the city at any time other than the festive season (six times and counting) but I'm hoping this Summer I shall rectify this with a trip with some close friends. 

2 Jan 2012

Golden Syrup Pot Puddings

So, here we are, 2012. How bad was it that we started a new year on a Sunday?!  I'm sure all those good intentioned healthy eating resolutions were postponed until today.  Mine certainly were.

For the first time in six year, Kris and I decided to shun the parties, clubs, pubs and firework displays in favour of spending the night in our new home with only ourselves and the cats for company.  A night in with a home cooked meal, a few strawberry beers and rubbish TV was just what the doctor ordered after an exceedingly hectic festive season.

Our New Year was rang in with very full tummies following these delicious pots of syrupy goodness.  Reminiscent of those boil in the tin puddings from my early childhood they're simply sugary sweet tins of nostalgia.  The second I saw these puddings baked in the iconically British Golden Syrup tins I just had to try them.  I've been collecting syrup tins for months just waiting for an excuse to give them a whirl.  If, unlike me, you don't go through tins and tins of treacle you can always bake these little puds in ramekins or heatproof glass jars.  

Golden Syrup Pot Puddings

150g chopped dates soaked in 125ml of hot, black tea for 2hrs
375g golden syrup
50g unsalted butter
150g light brown sugar
2 large eggs
150g plain flour
1tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Drain the dates and put aside.  Whisk butter and sugar together until light and creamy, add the eggs mixing well after each addition.  Add dates to the butter mixture before folding in the flour and baking powder.  

Pour 2tbsp of the golden syrup into each tin, tipping as you pour to coat half way up the sides of the tin.  Divide the pudding batter between the tins and place on a baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the pudding is golden and springs back when you touch it.  Allow the tins to cool for 5 minutes before serving topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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