Sunday, January 31, 2010

Butter free sponge cake attempt

So my sister's birthday has come and gone, so a cake was obviously made! Sadly we were very low on decorating equipment (a new piping bag would be the most revered of presents if anyone feels so inclined...) so it is not my finest of cakes by any means. But I tried, for the first time, a butter free sponge cake from Rachel Allen's Bake. (Note to all- do not get rid of the egg whites when adding the egg yolks to the mixture as you'll need them later on...) It actually turned out okay! I was a bit apprehensive as the egg whites took absolute ages to come to 'stiff peaks' and my arm was a tad sore from beating. But I got there in the end and it looked pretty well. Sad part of this baking excursion- Siob had gone out with the neighbours and didn't return until after I had left to head back to college, so I ended up getting none of the cake :-( But by all accounts the cake was rather lovely. The siblings loved the excessive chocolate in the decorating (I think everything I bake has chocolate in it somewhere) but the parents thought it was too sweet. However, I was more concerned about the sponge in this particular cake and they all enjoyed it, so I'm happy with that! One of the brothers kindly took the photo of the cut cake there.

Don't judge me on the decorating...I was low in supplies...

Goodies for Epilepsy Ireland

This week is RAG week in college and to accompany my friend's poetry/spoken word jam in the marquee, I've just baked a few goodies to sell at it to raise money for this year's charity Epilepsy Ireland. Some regular butter cookies, cupcakes (chocolate and plain- though pretty much all decorated with chocolate...) and apple cake are all ready to go now! I wanted to do some fancy butter cream icing for the cupcakes, but that wouldn't end very well on the bus journey down to Dublin...O_O Also I thought basic goodies would be easiest in general to transport down with me whilst also being lovely to munch on whilst listening to some stories/ poems:) If only I could somehow provide tea...

As you can see- I got a gift of fabulous butterfly cookie cutters from a dear friend when I was stressed. Much love to Laura K! And a cookie on the way for you;)

I've been falling behind in my baking due to a few weekends spent away from home- Jen is very intimidating with her constant updates! But I promise I shall keep on top of things. My dissertation is not far off now, which means I will need an outlet for my procrastination...:)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Breakfast at Tiffany's birthday present

Here's a craft post for the blog- over the summer, my lovely and fabulous friend Mary turned 21. I introduced her to the equally fabulous Breakfast at Tiffany's quite a while ago during a tea and movie day and, having just finished college with a first class honours and it being her 21st, I wanted to get her something special. Putting the two together, I thought of something from Tiffany's. It's expensive, so I ventured online and managed to get her a fabulous necklace there:) The plan was a-go go!
A week before her party, I started giving her clues as to what the gift was. Needless to say clues like 'take away coffee cup', 'crocodile shoes' shed no light for her. But I guess that was a good thing! If you know the movie, you will know of the Cracker Jack box within the story. Soooo- I decided to put the gift within a Cracker Jack box, which I would make. I Googled the box and made some poor
attempt at it anyway and made an Audrey birthday card to accompany it. Just thought I'd add it here cos I was quite proud of putting it all together:)

Birthday cake fail!

Some cakes don't always go to plan and last January (which means another is due soon...*gulp*) I made my sister's birthday cake. To try and prevent heartache, I greased and floured the tins beforehand, but no, it was not meant to be. When I popped out the cakes (while still warm. Do not do this!), one broke in to 3 pieces. Knowing my super baker aunts were coming over and my Nana, I was putting myself under pressure to make a cool cake, so when it broke, I broke! However, after I calmed down a bit, I decorated it to the max and made sure my mom cut it so that the guests didn't get the broken side and were unaware:) Even if it is desperately wonky looking...

Note to all: use baking parchment for cakes. Best invention ever and guarantees a no tears baking experience!

Lemon Easter Nest Cake

Last Easter we were going to my aunt's for dinner (really means: a day of none stop eating her amazing food) and Mom said I'd bake something, so I made an Easter-style lemon sponge cake. I didn't want to make a big 2 tier cake incase it went to waste, so I just left it as a single tier with lemon butter cream icing, Flake bits around the edges and Cadbury Easter Eggs on top, making it look somewhat like a nest I think:) I hope you like it!:)

Chocolate cake for you, chocolate cake for me

We all love chocolate. I am slightly shocked (and appalled) when someone says they're not a fan of it. Weirdos. So before a trip to my friend Jo's during the summer, I tried out Jamie Oliver's chocolate party cake from his cookbook The Return of The Naked Chef and it is bang on. I found Rachel Allen's one turned out a bit dry for my liking and I think the noticable difference is how the cocoa for Jamie's is mixed in with 4 tablespoons of boiling water and so is a paste when added to the flour mixture and not just a powder.
Strawberries just had to go in to the cake, and I went a bit wild with them, slicing them and placing them between the 2 sponges with the chocolate butter cream icing and a drizzling of melted chocolate (note- the cake is not for the faint hearted!) as well as on top of the cake.
I then melted chocolate and poured it over the top; viola- a dreamy chocolate cake that will take about 4 people the guts of 2 lazy days to eat. It's far from perfect looking, but I didn't mind once I tasted it. All it would then fit in cos it was so tall was a big shoe box. I eventually got it to Jo's after delicately moving it accordingly with road turns on the bus for three hours:)
Must be served with pots and pots of loose tea:)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

'Tis the season to bake non-stop!

Christmas is as good a time as any to spend days elbow deep in flour and parading your floweriest apron (amazingly suitable 21st birthday present!) around the kitchen. I was going to my roomie's house (well, roomies last year. We will always be each other's roomie!) in Navan for a day of tea and fun and decided to bake her 'Love Actually', cookie style. Seeing as we watched it countless times last year, I found it to be more than fitting:)

They were just easy butter cookies dipped in icing sugar and red food dye (2 coats) and then sprinkled with melted chocolate. My mom has a pretty handy collection of baking equipment, so I dug out the letter cookie cutters and you might be able to tell that the only letter missing was 'E'. So I had to delicately press the 'F' and add a leg...

Another seasonal baking day saw me making cookies for neighbors and friends with more lovely cookie cutters. I spread strawberry conserve (mushed up in a mug. I find it spreads easier than normal jam. Available in Aldi) on some of the cookies and then dipped them in melted chocolate for a little surprise come munching time:) Some are sprinkled with coconut though for a little snow effect and a coconut loving friend:)

This Christmas season, my family had a surprise party for one of my aunts. The lady is a reknowned baker and cook and I always semi-regret (practice makes perfect) offering to bake something (or my mom saying I'll bake something) when I know she's going to be tasting it! So I thought I'd go safe for the party and made a platter of plain cupcakes decorated with chocolate butter cream icing topped with a Jelly Tot and sprinkled with icing sugar and bits of Flake. Mmm.