Posts Tagged ‘baking’

2013-09-27 10.53.04

I’m not much of a baker, but I do occasionally get the urge.  I’ve been off sick this week with a cold (don’t be fooled by that mild description, it’s so bad that I’m on steroid tablets for my chest!) and haven’t felt up to doing much, but this morning I just had to do something, so I thought I’d try out an idea I’d had floating about for a while.

I started off by making a spiced chai concentrate, using this recipe.  Many thanks to my friend Dawn for recommending the recipe.

Then I used this recipe to make the sponge.  Please note that I used icing sugar as lots of Googling led me to the conclusion that there is no real difference between powdered sugar and icing sugar other than the name.  I baked mine for 35 mins, but in future would probably check it after 30 mins as the very edges had started to go a bit tough.  I was a tad concerned when it came out of the oven because it looked so flat, but the texture is gorgeous! 

I’ve never made frosting before (only buttercream), so I used this recipe from the BBC site.  I halved the recipe, and added the spiced chai concentrate to taste, but there was still oodles of frosting left over so I would suggest making only a quarter of the recipe as that will still be more than ample to cover the cake! 

Verdict: absolutely delicious, and one quarter of the cake is a nice sized serving which doesn’t leave you feeling too full.  I will enjoy eating the rest of this cake, and will definitely make it again in the future 🙂

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At the end of December I was contacted by a woman who wanted a recipe box.  She’s taking part in a Secret Friend swap and as the person she’s taking care of this year is a recipe collector, she wanted something unique for her.  She’d already seen this, which she partly liked but…

…they can’t personalise anything and I think I would prefer something a little more unique, and UK based.  Do you think you could work with me on something similar but more awesome?

Of course I said I’d be delighted!  I had a bit of a think, and then remembered that back in 2011 I made this memory box.  I really enjoyed making it, but never got round to using it, so the tin has been languishing in my house feeling pretty unloved ever since.  Time to give it a new lease of life!





I stuck to a simple colour scheme of white and lilac cards, and the divider cards (Starters, Vegetables, Fish, Meat, Baking, Puddings, Condiments, Drinks and Miscellaneous) were made using pages from a vintage copy of Mrs Beeton’s Puddings & Pies, embellished with ribbon and little hand-stamped labels.  I know I’m biased, but it does look incredibly pretty – slightly vintage, slightly shabby chic, and totally unique.

For those who like to know these things, the tin measures 21.6 x 9.3 x 8.5cm (WxDxH), and the cards are 10.2 x 7.9cm (WxH).

I hope that the recipient enjoys using it, and I love the thought that she’ll be adding all her own favourite recipes to it over the years to come.

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Our host for February is Rachel over at The Awesome Lady, so please do pop over to her blog to find out who else is playing along.  I’m running really late with my photos this month and spent most of this morning trying to think of things to photograph – eek!



I like to jot down quotes and poems in a wee notebook, which occasionally gets flicked through when I’m looking for inspiration.  This particular notebook isn’t one of mine, it’s a Celeste Frittata creation.


Something I made

Despite the various commissions I’ve done this month, my favourite thing has been this rather frivolous use of time and paint



I love it when a new season is on the horizon: at the moment I’m enjoying early spring bulbs and watching the blossom buds start to swell on trees.



Annoyingly I did actually bake a cake this month, but failed to photograph it!  Instead here’s a quick shot of one of the many, many recipe books littering our kitchen.


Motifs: Triangles

I was really quite stuck for this subject, then I sat down at my desk in despair and when I looked up the answer was staring me in the face: kirigami, stuck to my studio wall!



Rachel will be choosing her favourites over the next week or two, so please do remember to check her blog again later this month.  The favourites from January haven’t gone up yet due to unforeseen circumstances, but Sarah over at Cinders & Rain will have them up in the next day or so.

What’s happening next month with the Crafty Photo Scavenger Hunt?  Ruth over at The Goldhawk Project is our host for March, so please pop along to her blog tomorrow and see what topics she’s chosen.

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22nd October 2012 – “Dimply plum cake

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Home made ciabatta

I don’t think I’ve posted about cooking for a while.  It’s not really my thing (although I’m doing more and more of it) and I usually confine my activities to dinner and the occasional cake.  I’ve never made bread before (unless you count Home Ec at school, when the resulting rolls were so unappetising that even the pigeons didn’t want them…), so this was a first for me.

So what prompted this fit of domesticity?  I’ve given up smoking and as such have treated myself to things instead of tobacco.  One of my treats was a heap of magazines which included this one:

It’s not a bad little magazine actually, I’ve not finished it yet as I got completely distracted by this article:

Lots of bread recipes there, so I thought I might as well try one.  I made this decision at about 10.30pm, and after having a look at the different recipes the only one I had all the ingredients for was the ciabatta.

The dough was really quick to whip up, just five minutes and then it went into the fridge overnight.  The following morning I split it into two loaves, baked it, and it was… delicious!

If you’d like to give it a try the recipe is as follows (though at just £2.90 for the magazine, which has loads of other things in it, you might as well splash out on your own copy).  I made a couple of adjustments, which are noted below.

Ciabatta (makes 2 loaves)

  • 1/2 cube or 21g fresh yeast
  • 700g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-5 stems fresh thyme
  • 1 small sprig of rosemary
  • flour for the work surface and shaping
  • baking parchment

Dissolve yeast in 500ml of ice-cold water.  Mix 600g flour and salt together and add it to yeast liquid. Add olive oil and quickly mix together to a soft dough.  Stir in the 100g remaining flour.  Put dough into a bowl at least twice the size, cover till airtight and leave to rise in a fridge overnight.  Next day, let the dough rise at room temperature for 30 min.  Place the dough on a well-floured surface and halve it (without kneading, so that the air stays in the dough).  Using plenty of flour, shape the two pieces into 30cm long narrow loaves.  Place both loaves on to a baking tray lined with parchment.  Pick the leaves off the herbs and divide over the loaves, pressing down lightly.  Leave for 10-15 mins to rise again.  Bake on the second lowest shelf of a pre-heated oven (200 degrees celcius/gas 6) for about 40 mins.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.

As mentioned above, I did make some changes to the recipe.  I didn’t have any fresh yeast, only the dried stuff in 7.5g packets, so I used one of those.  I also omitted the herbs, sprinkling the loaves with coarse sea salt instead as I wanted a plain loaf with no other flavours.

I seem to be blessed with good luck when trying recipes for the first time (as with my bank holiday baking back in June), and these loaves were no exception.  A nice crust, a good amount of air through the bread (I’d have liked more though – I’ll try with fresh yeast next time), and really tasty.  We had one loaf with dinner that night (cajun chicken gumbo – I’ll write about that another day!), and the other with salami and cheese the night after that.  I will definitely be making ciabatta again now I know how easy it is!

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I’m not really much of a domestic goddess, but every so often I’m seized by the desire to bake something.  This weekend the baking bug came over me and, as everything came out pretty well, I thought I’d share.

First up we have kiwi cupcakes with lime buttercream.  These cakes owe their creation to random fruits in the kitchen, and I adapted a basic recipe.

  • 175g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 175g butter (softened)
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 kiwi fruits (peeled and chopped)

Very simple technique, throw everything except the fruit into a bowl and mix well, then stir the chopped kiwi in at the end.  Pop into cupcake/muffin cases and bake at gas mark 3 for about 20 minutes.  I didn’t measure the buttercream ingredients, but you’ll want butter (softened), icing sugar and lime juice (I’d say approximately two parts icing sugar to one part butter, with enough lime juice to make it taste zingy and help the buttercream flow more easily through your piping nozzle).

Next up we have lime slices…

This is a brilliant, and very easy, recipe from A Beautiful Mess.  I won’t copy it out, just click here to visit their blog and have a look for yourself.  Technically the photo above isn’t of the slices I made this weekend, it’s the batch I made last week, but I thought this photo was prettier (and it shows off my lovely lovely Greengate jug!).  The latest batch of lime slices looks pretty much the same, but I took them out five minutes earlier and the top didn’t split this time 🙂

Last, but by no means least, a plum and honey tea loaf.

This recipe is from The Vintage Tea Party Book (which I’ll be reviewing in the near future).

  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 175ml buttermilk or low fat yoghurt (I used Sainsburys basics natural yoghurt)
  • 125ml honey
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 3 plums (stoned and chopped)

Mix your dry ingredients in a large bowl, mix your wet ingredients (except the fruit) in another bowl.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones, then fold in the plums.  Pour into a greased and floured loaf tin and bake for 50-55 minutes at gas mark 3.  I let mine cool in the tin for a while and then turned it out onto a rack to finish cooling.

The lime slices are my favourite of the three recipes, but the loaf comes a close second.  It’s tasty, but not too sweet (all the sweetness comes from the honey alone), and it’s nice and moist.  It’s a pretty sizeable loaf (I don’t eat a lot of cake, so a full loaf tin is quite a lot!) so I decided to chop it in two and popped half in the freezer so that I’ve got some handy next time I fancy plummy honey goodness.

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Today hell froze over. It must have done, because in a rare act of domestic goddessery I was in the kitchen baking. Scared yet?

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