Monthly Archives: February 2013

5. Teacakes

Brief post this week – it was all straightforward. This week I thought I do some thing a bit more ‘bread-y’ and after a request for teacakes I thought I’d give them a go (and having done the chocolate variety already). This recipe was another Paul Hollywood from his Learn to Bake book.  First I mixed all the ingredients together (except the fruit).

Raw Ingredients

Raw Ingredients

Once it was together in a rough dough I tipped it out onto the work surface – it looked a bit ropey at this point!

Rough Dough

Rough Dough

After 10 minutes of kneading I put the dough back into the bowl, covered and left to double in size.

Kneaded Dough

Kneaded Dough

After a couple of hours I added the dried fruit – sultanas and mixed peel…

Added Fruit

Added Fruit

…and mixed them into the dough.

Mixed Dough

Mixed Dough

I then split the dough into 8, rolled them into balls, rolled them flat and brushed them with an egg glaze.

Rolled and Shaped

Rolled and Shaped

I then left them again for another hour or so to rise and then popped them in the oven for 15. Easy peasy.

Finished Teacakes

Finished Teacakes

They turned out harder that you would get in the shops – they are more bread like and these are more scone like. But toasted with butter and a cuppa they were pretty damn good! Tasted just like the shop bought ones but more satisfying because I made them myself! In fact, I think I might go and have one now… excuse me.

4. Cake Pops!

I’ve wanted to try cake pops for aaaaaaaaages but never got around to it until this week! I had some left over cake cut offs in my freezer from a novelty cake I carved a few weeks back so decided to use them up. I searched and searched the web for recipes but all involved making a cake and crumbing it, none to use up existing crumbs (I probably should have written down what I did here…) so I decided to wing it! I whipped up some vanilla buttercream and made the cake crumbs as fine as possible and gradually mixed a bit of each together to make a consistency I thought would roll into a ball.

Getting the mix together

Getting the mix together

I made almost the exact right amount of buttercream which was lucky and got the mix to a suitable rolling consistency – not to dry and not too sticky.

Mixed crumbs and buttercream

Mixed crumbs and buttercream

I then rolled the mix into balls with my hands, pressing them together so they stayed in shape. It made exactly 20. Bit disconcerting they kinda looked like meatballs (no horse I promise).

The rolled cake pop balls

The rolled cake pop balls

I then put them in the fridge for a bit while I melted a few candy melts. I had a bag left from my visit to Cake International at the NEC at the end of last year. I had read in one of the recipes that if you just stuck the lolly sticks straight in then the pops would slide off but if you dipped them in candy melts first then they wouldn’t. So I did exactly that and put them back in the fridge for about an hour (or however long it takes to watch an episode of Glee!).

With the sticks inserted with a bit of candy melts melted

With the sticks inserted with a bit of candy melts melted

I then put the rest of the candy melts over some simmering to water to melt. Whilst I was waiting I decided to use a bit of spare sugarpaste to make some ‘tags’ with my initials on to stick on the pops. This might be my new thing to stick on all my cakes – like a graffiti tag but instead a cake tag!

Now this is where it began to go less smoothly. The candy melts had melted but were nowhere near the runny smooth consistency I expected them to be (like melted chocolate). They were far too thick and lumpy and I knew from experience that they would not coat the pops well at all. So after a quick Google I saw that other people had recommended a few different solutions to a similar problem and in the end I decided to add some vegetable shortening to loosen the mix up a bit (Cookeen in my case as it was in the fridge). This worked a treat and added an extra shine too!

Melted candy melts

Melted candy melts

I then dipped all the cake pops in the candy melts to coat them which was rather therapeutic. I decorated with a selection of sprinkles I had in the cake cupboard (if anyone else is taking tips from this, I recommend sprinkling sprinkles, not dipping, as that just gets messy – see ramekin in left of pic) and added my ‘tag’.

Just decorated

Just decorated

I then left them in the fridge overnight to set and see below for the finished pops – quite pleased for my first attempt!

The finished article

The finished article

Close up with my 'tag'

Close up with my ‘tag’

I tried presenting a couple in a bag which looked rather nice I think.

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Taste test: success! Everyone who tried them loved them and I thought the same (even if I say so myself!). I thought that they would be quite heavy and stodgy but they were actually really light and lovely with a cuppa! I’m looking forward to trying them again and getting a bit more creative with the decorations!

3. Chocolate, Orange and Almond Biscotti

Firstly, and most importantly, I got a reply to one of my tweets this week from the one and Paul Hollywood himself, woo hoo! Dreams are coming true already lol!

My tweet!

My tweet!

Having received the new book from the lovely Mr Hollywood as a gift this week I decided to try one of his recipes and so after a quick flick through I decided to try the chocolate, orange and almond biscotti. I’ve never made biscotti before but it looked relatively straightforward.

My new book

My new book

Firstly you basically chuck all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix together. The recipe stated the dough should not be sticky at all but mine was a bit so I added a bot more flour. I didn’t realise there’s no fat at all in biscotti which makes me feel less guilty about eating it!

The dough

The dough

One the dough was out onto a floured surface it had a quick knead and then I divided it into 2 (even used scales to make them exact!) and I rolled the 2 pieces into 2 logs.

Pre oven biscotti logs

Pre oven biscotti logs

The logs went in the oven for about half an hour where they spread a bit and the tops cracked – starting to look a bit more like biscotti at this point.

Post oven biscotti logs

Post oven biscotti logs

Once out the oven, I left the logs to cool for 10 minutes and then sliced them digonally and laid them on their sides. At this point I also ate the cut off ends – just for testing purposes obviously. I quite liked the crisp outside and chewy middle but that’s not really biscotti (as well as eating partially raw eggs…). After the slicing they went back in the over for another half hour to dry out completely.

Sliced biscotti logs

Sliced biscotti logs

After the second stint in the oven they were left to cool and voila! Done! Easy peasy.

Cooling after the second time in the oven

Cooling after the second time in the oven

Mmmm... close up!

Mmmm… close up!

I boxed up a load for my Mum and Dad as I was seeing them the next day and took some round a friends the day after that. Taste test: passed with flying colours. Everyone seemd to enjoy them, the most successful bake yet I think. Particularly good with a lengthy dunk in tea (although Mr Hollywood recommends a dessert wine) although not too lengthy as my friend discovered as she lost half of hers into her mug. D’oh!

Boxed up and ready to go

Boxed up and ready to go

Until next time…

2. Fondant Fancies

Another week, another bake and I decided to not make it easy on myself again, went with another Mary Berry classic, fondant fancies. Next week I’m definitely going easier (although someone did challenge me to Mille Feuille earlier…). To be fair though these weren’t that difficult technically (or so they seemed) just a right fiddle!

It started with a genoise sponge which involves a lot of whisking (and after that a bit more whisking) over simmering water with an electric whisk. You need an extra hand. And in my case a socket closer to the hob.

Whisking the genoise sponge mix

Whisking the genoise sponge mix

Once all that was done it was into the tin and into the oven. It came out as instructed ‘golden brown and shrinking away from the edges’.

The sponge fresh out the oven

The sponge fresh out the oven

After leaving it to cool (and running 9 miles in the freezing rain FYI), I then I brushed on a layer of seived marmalade and added a layer of marzipan. Not a big fan of marzipan myself but what Mary Berry says goes in my house.

Marzipanned sponge

Marzipanned sponge

I then left it to set for an hour and came back armed with my high school ruler (that’s when you know I mean business). This is where John fluffed it in the GBBO by trying to make them cubes (although he did win in the end so we won’t hold it against him) so I very carefully measured and cut the sponge into 16 (I know there’s 15 in the pic, 1 was off camera taking a moment). Still looking pretty good by this point I think – some slightly sloping tops aside).

The 'fancies' minus the fondant

The ‘fancies’ minus the fondant

Now this was where I expected to add a blob of buttercream (or similar) to the top but alas, Ms Berry says no. So I whipped up the icing and after a LOT of fiddling (and adding a bit of dusky pink colouring halfway to mix it up a bit), I managed to cover all 16 fancies. There weren’t as neat as I would have liked but on the other hand they could have been a lot worse.

Just covered fancies (I had cleaned up most of the drips by this point)

Just covered fancies (I had cleaned up most of the drips by this point)

After they had dried I melted a couple of squares of dark chocolate, drizzled it over the top, washed my hands for about the 97th time that day (seriously – icing everywhere) and stepped back to admire my handiwork. Actually, that’s a lie, I went to the pub to watch England beat Ireland in the rugby and have a couple of ciders.

When I got back the fancies were all dry so I put them in plain muffin cases and voila!

The finished article

The finished article

Taste test: I hate to say it because I was actually rather pleased with the final result, but they weren’t as nice as I hoped. The sponge was a bit dry, not sure why, maybe the sponge was a bit overbaked and as I said before I’m not a massive fan of marzipan. The icing was nice but not what I associate with a fondant fancy but then Mr Kipling could be on his own there. After all, he did tradmark ‘French Fancies’ so us mere cake mortals have to call them fondant fancies and he probably has a slightly bigger operation behind him.

Maybe I will try them again another time. Meanwhile, as nothing’s turning out quite as good as I’d hoped, I might go back to my comfort zone next week to regain some self esteem… Brownie anyone? Cupcake? How about a nice chocolate chip cookie?

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1. Chocolate Teacakes

So I probably should have started easy but for whatever reason I didn’t. I went with Mary Berry’s chocolate teacakes. Oh well…

The other week I bought a silicon mould from Sew White (check it out at http://www.sewwhite.com – cool site) and have wanted to try these for ages anyway so I thought why not!

The mould (www.sewwhite.com)

The mould (www.sewwhite.com)

It all started well – melted the chocolate and made the biscuits. Making the chocolate domes took quite a while trying to make an even shell and constantly moving the mould round so the chocolate didn’t pool in the middle and at this point they looked very shiny!

Chocolate domes (still shiny) and the uncoated biscuits

Chocolate domes (still shiny) and the uncoated biscuits

The part I was most worried about was making the marshmallow but that was surprisingly easy and I coated the biscuits and left everything to cool and set.

All the parts ready to assemble

All the parts ready to assemble

After filling the domes with marshmallow and having quite a bit of chocolate left I realised that the domes were smaller than the recipe catered for so I decided to trim down the coated biscuits so they’d fit more snugly (hopefully!).

The trimmed down biscuits

The trimmed down biscuits

I then put the biscuits on, piped round the edge (made a bit of a mess) and left to set overnight.

All assembled, setting in the mould

All assembled, setting in the mould

In the morning I turned them out the mould and trimmed off the chocolate. The biscuit part at the bottom was a bit messy but the domes were smooth. I was disappointed to see 4 were a bit off colour (guessing a change in temp in the chocolate) but 2 were shiny, woo!

The finished article

The finished article

The 2 shiny ones!

The 2 shiny ones!

Taste test: they went down well – quite rich (considering they were meant to be bigger they were big enough!) and the marshmallow was very vanilla-ry but good. I want to try them again accommodating for the smaller mould and therefore tidier and maybe with milk chocolate as I prefer that to dark.