Teeny Tiny Easter Eggs

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Happy Easter!

   29th April 2014

Teeny Tiny Easter Eggs

OK, so it is really a week past Easter, but we were away visiting family and then we came home, and well, I forgot a little, and then I got caught up in remembering my new blog idea and then realising it was the 25th April which is Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand so I then had a mad panic trying to get the A is for ‘Anzac’  blog post out there (woop I succeeded!) but then I re-remembered my Easter baking and well, here I am. I joined a group through a well known social media site to try and meet other mums, I was ridonkulously scared about joining but my amazing friend made me do it and I am so glad she did. I have been 100% welcomed into the group, all the ladies are so nice and supportive in every way. And even though we probably all joined for the same reason (there’s only so many nursery rhymes I can sing to my darling son, and the postman – don’t ask!) I think I may have found some true friends, and friends for our boy. I have completely thrown myself into the group, going to as many meet ups as possible on top of visiting children’s centers so when one of the ladies suggested an Easter party at her house (brave brave brave!) I thought why not make my contribution in cake form. I will admit I did some searching on the internet for a little bit of inspiration but the actual inspiration came from a cake I made for a work party ages ago, and some mini mini chocolate eggs I had found from a local shop. I also wanted to make it baby themed to fit in with the whole mummy-baby group. I stuck with vanilla and strawberry jam and then spent an afternoon (in between feeding, playing, amusing the postman and changing nappies) making fondant decorations; carrots, fencing, flowers and babies. I actually made two fondant babies, one using a mould, the other free-hand and dressed both up in nappies and bunny ears. Why make two? Well I actually made a few using the mould, and when they were still ‘naked’ Mr. Egg walked in from work and exclaimed that they were a bit freaky and “why does it have such a detailed bum?”. He wasn’t convinced when I added the nappy, saying they still looked weird and too ‘real’ so I then made the free-hand baby which was more like the fondant models I usually make and more to his liking. I’m not sure which I preferred, I liked the bunny ears on the moulded baby, but also liked the cartoony-ness of the free-hand baby (I couldn’t quite get the bunny ears right). I have put both in the picture and I’ll let you decide which you prefer! The party was amazing, and the hostess excelled herself with so many crafts and activities for the older children whilst also managing to cuddle the babies and make cups of tea and coffee for the grown-ups (I’m at the stage where I can make a cup of tea but don’t seem to be able to drink it hot!).

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The ‘freaky’ baby Mr. Egg vetoed

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Fencing, carrots and a bunny’s bum

For the actual Easter weekend we managed to travel up to my parents house and see all my siblings and their partners not just for Easter but also for my big sister’s birthday. We played some games (‘adult’ pictionary is somewhat more fun than the children’s version), ate some chocolate, some homemade by my very talented big sister and had a really good family meal with all the grandparents. Then I forced them all into photographs with our baby who naturally got bored and cried; posing with his uncle and the pint-sized drumkit was probably a step too far. Or perhaps he didn’t want to dirty his Derby County football kit sitting on his Liverpudlian supporting uncle’s knee! I hope you all enjoyed the long bank holiday weekend with your families!

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Flower pots, more fencing and teeny ladybirds

 

Happy caking, One Egg xxx

Alphabet Bakes: A is for ‘Anzac’

25th April 2014

A is for ‘Anzac’

Given my lapse in blogging, what with having a baby and moving house, I thought it was time I did something to make me blog more; more blogive so to speak (if that’s even a word!). So I had a little idea, although knowing my luck it’s already been done by someone else. I thought I could work my way through the alphabet and for each letter I would bake about something relating to that letter and blog about it. Simple. Having a chemistry degree I did think to use the periodic table and bake my way through the elements, but elements such as antimony (Sb) and hafnium (Hf) may prove a little too challenging. Cobalt would perhaps be one of the easier options (Co – cookies?) but the headache I gave myself thinking about what I would bake, or even the time it would take to come up with ideas, I decided to stick with the alphabet. Although even ‘A’ seemed slightly challenging. The first thing I thought of was Anzac biscuits, but my younger sister suggested Angel Food Cake, which we both thought very similar to Angel Cake; layers of pink, yellow and white sponge with a fondant icing topping, almost like a half-hearted Battenburg. Turns out the Angel Food Cake is something completely different and given I don’t actually own the right tin I stuck with Anzac. (Please don’t hold it against me that I had already given up on the periodic table and was now also giving up on the first letter).

Anzac, or rather A.N.Z.A.C. biscuits, short for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps., were ‘invented’ as part of the rations for the brave soldiers during World War I as they did not contain eggs and would therefore keep fresh for longer. Soldiers apparently liked them on their own, or crumbled up into porridge when past their best. The truth in this perhaps comes with some speculation as I wonder if desiccated coconut would also be so readily available, but there is nothing like a good tradition, and the biscuits are enjoyed during remembrance of those that lost their lives fighting for justice on Anzac Day (25th April; today!). I do not know the original recipe for these biscuits, and due to the high sugar (golden syrup AND brown sugar) and butter content in today’s recipe I would assume it has been changed over the years to suit the more modern, sugar-loving palate.

The biscuits baked rather well, I was expecting something similar to an oaty flapjacky biscuit and that’s what I got. Not as dry as I thought they might be, but I would prefer a bit of spice; some ginger or cinnamon (but then it wouldn’t be the traditional biscuit). They must of been good though as I had baked them for Mr. Egg to take into work for Friday cake day as I hadn’t been able to make hot cross buns for Easter week as I had done last year. Plus, I’m not entirely sure if this is an actual ‘thing’ or just a ploy of his to make sure he has cake on a regular basis, especially when I said don’t forget the biscuits to which he replied “There aren’t very many, I think these might like to stay at home and not go into the office” as he ran out the door quicker than I could burp the plastic tub.

150 g plain flour, sifted
90 g oats
85 g desiccated coconut
155 g brown sugar (I used granulated brown sugar)
125 g butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
2 tablespoons water

Preheat (fan) oven to 160 degrees.

In a bowl I mixed the flour, oats and coconut. In a pan I melted the butter, sugar and golden syrup. Once melted, I added the bicarb. and then poured this into the dry mix. Once combined I made balls out of the dough and lightly pressed down onto a baking tray. In my oven I baked for ten minutes but then required a further five to get that golden brown colour whilst still being soft and chewy.

 

Oaty and coconutty

The Anzac biscuit; no doubt a welcome sight, together with a steaming cup of tea and memories of home. Ideas for ‘B’ are more than welcome, and I highly recommend having a try of these Australian-New Zealand delights.*

Happy caking, One Egg xxx

*Please note I do not know if this is the ‘true’ recipe, or who was the original baker so I am unable to give them credit for this recipe, despite my attempts.

One Egg, Two Eggs…Three Eggs!

12th March 2014

One Egg, Two Eggs…Three Eggs!

Six whole months since I last posted. SOOO much has happened since then! In my last post I announced that Little Egg was on his/her way and that we were (still) renovating the house we had just bought. Six months on, we are still decorating but Little Egg has well and truly made HIS arrival! That’s right boys and girls, at the end of January we welcomed our bouncing bundle of baby boy joy into the world. Despite all the sleepless nights and dirty nappies our little boy has turned our world upside down. This week he has just started properly smiling and I thought I was pleased when he was finally getting his wind up after feeds (who knew bodily functions could be so pleasing?!), the smiles are something else. Together with the odd ‘coo’ as he shouts at us, the smiles are amazing and my heart swells up with pride at how far he has come in 6 whole weeks. We are still renovating the house, but the progress has come on leaps and bounds, despite furiously painting the kitchen the day before my waters broke (forget curries/pineapples/bouncing on your birthing ball ladies!) we didn’t quite complete everything. The kitchen, bar a few touches here and there is very nearly 100% done. Little Egg doesn’t yet have a nursery, but I think me and Mr. Egg are secretly happy about that as we get to have him in our room that little while longer; there is nothing better than waking up and seeing a baby yawning (pre bottle wanting waterworks that is!) next to you. But I can now bake, and so blog posts will hopefully return :)

This post is therefore my baking antics whilst I have been away. Granted there haven’t been very many! December brought a very large baby bump and a great deal of family time. I have said it before and I will say it again: I LOVE CHRISTMAS!! The best time of year by far. LOVE IT. Love everything about it and most of all I love spending time with my friends and family. The only downfall this Christmas was that I couldn’t really make any goodies for anyone. I didn’t even get to make any mincemeat. Yes, that’s right, we had *whispers* shop-bought mince pies. Yummy, but when you have discovered home-made mincemeat it is quite hard to go back. A very nice upside was that Mr. Egg and I had a little ‘which shop pies taste the best’ competition. Pregnancy is a fantastic excuse to have the odd indulgent moment, regrettably though it resulted in an ever so slight post-pregnancy gain in weight. Well, that’s what the gym is for, right? I was not going to spend the entire festive period without baking at least something, so I managed the annual gingerbread house bake. To try and make up for my lack of baking, I went all out and made a porch area and an ‘annex’ bit on the back. We even put a candle inside to see if the chimney would work. It didn’t. It did provide 15 minutes of delight whilst we smashed the house up and devoured it!

Gbread front

Lights are on, is anyone home?

Gbread side

Boiled sweet windows for that extra Christmassy touch

December also shares itself with Mr. Egg’s birthday. For MY birthday two months before I got some hemispherical cake tins and had been dying to try them out. Perfect timing for a Derby County loving husband. I made his favourite chocolate sponge in two hemisphere tins.

Note: organise a stand BEFORE you fill the tins with cake batter not, like I did afterwards, and then frantically try to work out how you are going to stop the tins wobbling about in the oven.

I spent the baking time doing crazy maths with formulae I had t’interwebbed to work out the dimensions of my hexagons and pentagons for the football decoration. I don’t do things by halves when it comes to baking and it’s definitely all in the detail. Mr. Egg was suitably impressed and I managed to impress further when he made a passing comment about it not having a ‘Rammy’ on it. Another t’interweb job to get a picture of said ram, who I then piped on and smugly shouted Mr. Egg back into the kitchen to see.

 3D football birthday cake3D football birthday cake

Valentine’s Day was another big event that I would usually hope to blog about, and in between bottles we did manage to celebrate. Mr. Egg cooked us a mouthwatering starter and stuffed chicken for main and I provided the dessert. Well, a cake but dessert all the same. I baked an orange sponge cake and filled it with chocolate orange mousse. I decorated it with Italian meringue buttercream, which I am planning on writing a blog post about if anyone should be interested, and candy hearts (sugar overload).

I 'heart' you

I ‘heart’ you

I 'heart' you too

I ‘heart’ you too

So there you have it cakers, six months of absence but I haven’t forgotten about you all. I hope you all had lovely Christmas’ and to all those mummy’s and daddy’s (and those yet to be) out there, it really is a special bond you have with your child. Treasure them every day and every night. And to those that did it more than once, I salute you all, you are saints! Saying that, I do hope our Little Egg has a little brother or sister one day (we must be mad!).

Happy caking, One Egg xxx

Kitchens, Cake and Cravings

 30th September 2013

Kitchens, Cake and Cravings

Well cakers, I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last posted! Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about you, quite the opposite in fact. We have finally got ourselves onto that first rung of the property ladder and boy have we jumped in feet first. Mr. Egg got a new job which meant moving about an hour from where we lived. An hour! Hardly any time at all but this was the place where we had met each other, fallen in love, moved in together and set up life as a married couple. Life moves on though and whilst we were extremely sad to be leaving we were ready to start the next chapter of our lives. We spent a good month or so researching the area (sadly no time for cake) and finally found the house that was to become our new home. One tiny bit of paper, a couple of signatures (and a rather large cheque) and you’re officially grown up. This part-house-part-building-site now belongs to us. Or it will do when I’ve doubled my age and the mortgage has been paid off.

Building site it most definitely resembled; there was nowhere you could take your shoes off…not that you would even want to! The place was awful, but we are now well on our way to completing it, and I try to think less restoration nightmare more blank canvas. I didn’t however envisage the time it would take to do things! Forget master plans ornately drawn out; we’ll have plush sofas here, kitchen units there, not to mention the tiered herb/fruit garden outside. As I write we have a fully finished bedroom (carpet and everything!) and the most grown up front room, albeit minus a fireplace (currently sitting in the, unfinished, kitchen). Last night the floor tiles in the bathroom were put down and there are only a few more wall tiles that need cutting and sticking. We are slowly getting there, thanks to some amazing family and friends that have put on their overalls and travelled down to help at a moments notice. My dad in particular has spent the most time, teaching us new techniques and doing a LOT of the work whilst Mr. Egg is at work and I’m baking of the baby variety. Yes cakers, amongst all the stress of upping sticks we have a little bun in the oven. So given I can no longer touch my knees to my chest without a small riot going off we have needed all the help available.

Baking has been, unfortunately out of the question. And given our ‘new’ oven was broken until a week ago – it cooked on full power no matter what the setting – virtually impossible!  There are only so many meals a woman can cook on the hob, and no matter how much you try and disguise it pasta will always be pasta. We are still living out of boxes and I cannot for the life of me find anything I need – so much for intricately labelling everything. Note to self: boxes should be numbered, labelled to the dot and placed in room order. Climbing over things to find an airbed (when we had no bed) and only coming across boxes that said ‘bedding’ was not a fun evening. Once the bathroom is finished we are looking to complete the best room of all. The kitchen. The heart of the home, and the room that definitely sold us the house. Even if it is all concrete floor and plastered walls. There is half a kitchen in already, but I need more cupboard and work surfaces and until then baking is on the D/L. Also it’s not exactly practical to even look at a cake tin (if you can find one) if you have to climb over the tile cutter and plasterboard to get to the eggs. But it will be a mahoosively pretty room and I am too excited for words.

This is all very well and good when you’re trying to keep your morale up; one day we will have the kitchen of our dreams and I will be able to take my shoes off to walk around. Not so good when you wake up with a craving for homemade sponge cake. With jam. And buttercream. And icing. The internet has all manner of suggestions to curb the pregnancy cravings, but I am learning that if the craving is bad enough no ‘healthy substitution’ will ever be satisfying. Ever. Nuts and seeds will never be a substitute for a packet of salt and vinegar no matter how much it might be ‘my body’s way of telling me it needs certain nutrients’. The one major craving I have had is for lip curling face pulling sour tastes. Sucking on a lemon just about does it, but it has to be ice cold to get the extra hit. The first time I satisfied my sour craving was when I tasted an apple off the tree in our new garden. Baking apples apparently; my parents pulled their ‘ergh too sour’ faces whilst I happily chomped my way through more than one. Well, it beats kids sweets. Today however I gave in to my cake craving. Now that the oven is working at a normal operating temperature I thought why not? There would be a large amount of cleaning and tidying to do first but it would be worth it for a slice of the good ‘ole homemade. Well, I wasn’t going to venture out in the wind and rain just to buy cake, regardless of how pregnant I may be! I only had to open two boxes before I found a tin, now surely that was a sign? I baked up the simplest of sponges (three eggs, all other ingredients subsequently matching their weight) and given the current glut, a wee bit of lemon. Once cooled I filled it with a lovely thick layer of buttercream and an equally thick layer of lemon curd. Yum. Only six hours till Mr. Egg comes home.

Tick Tock

I washed up and put the kettle on, and it sat there on the side and begged me to cut a piece. Begged me. Looking back, the whole thing was a blur, I think it got the knife out itself and plonked a slice onto a plate, that happened to be out ready, all in the time it took for the kettle to boil. A slice of heaven and a mug of paradise just sitting there. Waiting. Shame not to eat it really.

An extra large slice to beat the cravings

So come January cakers I hope to have a happy, healthy little bundle of joy and a beautifully finished home to bring him/her back to. And of course a kitchen to bake all my goodies in so I can get back to blogging. It may be some time till my next post, but you all know that I am missing you terribly. And don’t forget that every once in a while it is OK to be selfish and give into your cravings, however weird and wonderful they may be.

Happy caking, One Egg xxx

Ladybird Cake Pops

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18th May 2013

Ladybird Cake Pops

Cake pops, lolly cakes, cakes on sticks, cakesickles. Call them what you will but they are one of the ‘in’ things at the moment. I call them a nightmare. I have attempted making cake pops on several occasions. The first time I made them they turned out great, they looked reasonable, they tasted fine and the whole process was fairly straightforward. I was so proud my photographs became the icons for this blog and my social media feed. It all went steadily down hill from there on, regardless of how many books, articles and videos I looked at. Literature all points towards them being really easy to make…providing you have patience (which at times I will admit I forget what this word even means, let alone being able to practice it). They are meant to be ideal if you have small children interested in baking and yet I’m 26 and I struggled immensely. They are great to use up left over cake, providing it didn’t get munched during the carving. And they are meant to be beautifully moulded into any shape imaginable and decorated to match; ladybirds i.e. not spherical was the best I could manage when it came to moulding.

It’s officially been a whole year since my last cake pop incident. Time for another go. The last time Mr. Egg and I literally spat them out; they tasted of lard. How you can achieve this without adding any lard is beyond me. I mean, I can bake a reasonably good tasting cake and if it doesn’t taste great it would probably still get eaten. It’s cake. ‘Nuff said. This post is about my attempt at ladybird cake pops. I say ‘attempt’ as the reaction to the ‘finished’ product from Mr. Egg was “What are they meant to be? [long pause] Oh. Ladybirds. [long pause] Well…what do they taste like?”. Not exactly what I was going for, but an improvement on the year before. Seen as I didn’t have any spare cake bits casually lying around my kitchen (undoubtedly the reason I can’t shift these last few pounds; kitchen pickers wear big knickers etc. etc.) I resorted to baking one. Lemon, my favourite. Given past issues with the popping of cakes I used a recipe from a cake pop book, and followed it all 100%, definitely no substitutions going on in my kitchen today. Once cooled you go against everything you think is right and crumble it up into teeny tiny pieces. You then add a small quantity of buttercream and smush it all together. I should point out that there are implements that you can buy that make the cakes ready popped. I don’t have one, but I imagine the person that invented it had a similar experience to me, and rather than giving up they persevered and made a few people’s lives that little bit easier. I refrigerated when instructed, and when told to ball I got out my meatball scissors (exactly what they sound like; two halves of a sphere on the end of scissors, bought specifically for the cake popping process and only £3; bargain) and made what I thought would look like ladybirds once covered.

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Cake pops can be coated in liquid fondant or melted chocolate. Sounds straightforward? Last year half my pops fell of their sticks, so I made sure the sticks were dipped in the melted chocolate before I stuck them into the cake balls. But to make them smooth it was advised to add a few drops of sunflower oil to make it a bit runnier. I also did this, got into my cake pop stance (similar to my fake tan stance, but that’s not really a story for today) and began with the dipping. Success! It wasn’t smooth, no where near, but it was covered. Brilliant. The next three fell off their sticks, and the rest of the batch was a long battle to stop them falling off the sticks and get them reasonably covered. Easy for children? Well technically I am still a child; I have parents.

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Granary loaf with a scattering of sunflower seeds and lashings of butter

The lesson for today: if something says it’s ‘easy’ it probably won’t be. If something says you need to be patient, you probably should. And if all else fails…make a loaf of bread.

Happy caking, One Egg xxx

Steampunk Top Hat

steampunk_3

6th April 2013

Steampunk Top Hat

I never really understood the notion of ‘Steampunk’; it sort of arrived, or perhaps it was there and I was oblivious to it. Most probably the latter. It’s like ‘yolo’ or ‘texterity’ or ‘being full stopped’ in a text message (for my equally minded readers I will now permit you five minutes or so to look these up); they were invented by someone and all of a sudden everyone was saying it or doing it whilst I was off minding my own business in cakey land. Needless to say, Steampunk is here and I have recreated it in cake form. My version anyway!

One of our best men (we had two; two amazing friends that we couldn’t choose one over the other, so picked both) celebrated his birthday last week. This particular half of the duo is acquainted with the slightly alternative style that is Steampunk. I declared, to no-one in particular, that I was going to make a cake in the style of Steampunk for his birthday: “I will make a cake, cogs and all and it will be good”. I had at this point done some internet searching and was ‘getting myself into character’ – I think one should put one’s all in every project…Annnyway. Being of the fairer sex I slightly wished our best man was too – the corsets and dresses worn by some of the Steampunk ladies are simply stunning with gorgeous material and incredible detail. In cake it definitely has potential, but would also be a very steep learning curve! But he’s a he and whilst all the women are wearing Victorian style finery the men wear top hats and tails. Idea for birthday cake: sorted. All that was left was to actually make it….

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Fondant cogs and screws

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Fondant time piece; very basic detail

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My attempt at making fondant goggles

Cogs and metal work and goggles. My research resulted in these three things being of importance when it came to Steampunk. I tried to make all these things, armed with my paintbrush and several pots of metallic edible lustre dust. Improvisation was at its best here readers; circular cutters made simple cogs, but piping nozzles, straws and ravioli  cutters made the cogs into cogs. There is probably a better way, but I hadn’t done that much research and when it came to making the cake and its details my mind was very much in the ‘idea phase’ and reality hadn’t yet kicked in. I think it worked out ok? I made goggles, although if there is a next time I might try to give them some ‘glass’,  screws, a clock face which could also do with a bit more detail, and a few more cogs. When dry they were made metallic with the lustre dust and I discovered just how fragile fondant can be. I broke a few and I made silent vows to myself that I will look into techniques that make fondant objects stronger, or another method entirely.

The cake itself was six lovely layers of caramel sponge; a vanilla recipe I adapted. A birthday cake? Yes. An experiment? Yes. It will be no surprise, given most posts I write are “I tried this…” “I had a go at that…” that my experiments are with flavour also. My friends are given cakes, and they generally come with a warning of “It’s a new recipe…I made it different to what it should be…how about being my guinea pig?”. I went all out for this and even made caramel. Something else I haven’t done before (surprises?!). Mr. Egg made a caramel not so long ago for a Valentine’s Day desert and it was divine. I could do it too surely? Trying to boil sugar, eagerly waiting for that crucial moment when it goes from transparent to golden without forming a solid burnt mess*, is made more difficult when you have a dark pan. Tip for next time: find a light coloured pan. Eventually I didn’t burn the sugar and made a caramel that I could of eaten on its own with a big spoon when no-one was watching. The caramel went into a chocolate ganache which I will admit I may of gotten the quantities wrong as it took hours to set properly. I filled each layer with this calorifically tasty sauce and a sprinkling of fudge pieces and then gave the whole thing a caramel crumb coating. Mouth watering much? For saying I only made this the other week I am now craving cake as I type. Torture!

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Front view

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Back view

I employed the same covering technique I used in my keytar cake to cover this mountain of caramel goodness; covering the sides first and then adding the top piece. I wasn’t too worried about stresses in the fondant as it would all add to the material texture effect. I did however mix some colouring paste with a tiny amount of vodka and then brushed this on in sweeping motions to make it look almost wooden. The cake I should add at this point sat on a ‘brim’; a circular disk of fondant (which at the time of cutting I thought was big enough, but looking back proportionally should of been a bit bigger) with pieces of scrunched up kitchen towel underneath some edges. This would give a lip to the brim of the hat and when completely dry the towels were removed. I added the cogs and goggles with royal icing and my Steampunk top hat cake was complete. Our best man was really pleased with his sort-of birthday surprise (we’d already told him I was making him a cake, but not what it would be), and he knew what it was meant to be which is always a good sign!

Happy caking, One Egg xxx

*Readers, I tried to make a chilli sauce once, forgot to add vinegar to the sugar syrup and ended up with a very black, very solid piece of what I can only describe as rock. Spicy rock. I was nervous once more as I turned on the hob!

Easter Baking

simnel muffin_3

31st March 2013

Simnel Muffins

If out-doorsy is a word then I would say I am probably it. To a degree. I want chickens (for the eggs, I don’t want to deal with all the poop) but I am yet to convince my family I am capable of such a task. I also love camping; we went camping a lot when we were children and being grown up is no exception. Although camping in my book is now more like ‘glamping’ and I scout out new campsites the second we arrive to find the nearest plug sockets for our various pieces of technology. This is after all the 21st Century and as such modern life calls for modern comforts; why deny ourselves these things under canvas? Plus we have a car, and if there is space I will most definitely fill it, so why shouldn’t I bring my fairy lights (solar-powered, naturally) and straighteners and five or more pairs of shoes just in case we go out ‘somewhere posh’. You must ALWAYS be prepared. Inevitably I don’t use/wear any of these things and spend the entire holiday in boots. Apart from the fairy lights; they are almost as important as the tent.

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Simnel muffin with orange juice icing and chocolate eggs

Mr. Egg and I have recently upgraded our tent to one that is a bit bigger and a bit more sturdy. Sturdy being imperative and now ties in my ramble about camping with my Easter baking. One Easter a few years ago we went camping, I had brought some left over simnel muffins and one or two hot cross buns. The weather was even warm enough to melt our Easter egg. Sound perfect? This was the beginning of a camping trip I will be muttering about well into my ninety’s.  After a long day of walking up hills we walked some more miles to the nearest pub and had a wee drink, and when the weather turned we headed back. Cold and wet we tried to cook some tea. The camp cooker decided to stop working and after frantic calls to my camping-pro parents we gave up and ate hot cold cross buns for fear of gassing ourselves or worse, the gas bottle blowing up. That night the snow came and we were woken in the very small hours with the roof of our tent touching our noses. Long story short, the tent was haphazardly bundled into the car, along with most of the mud on the campsite, and me still in my pyjamas I was that desperate to go!

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Keeping in tradition with the addition of marzipan

So with this year’s forecast of snow for the Easter weekend my thoughts went back to that fateful camping trip and I made up a batch of simnel muffins. I also made hot cross buns, but they didn’t last long enough to have their photograph taken. I am told they were tasty, I only had half of one as they went so quick. Although this pleases me as I have since found out if you share a bun your friendship is guaranteed for the coming year. Bonus. Simnel cake I have learnt is traditionally made on Mothering Sunday, which falls in the middle of Lent. Given we are meant to fast from any luxuries during this time I don’t really understand why a light fruit cake is allowed an exception. Perhaps it’s to use up that last packet of marzipan you’ve had since Christmas. Stick it in a cake they said. No one will know the difference.

I can say my memories of THAT Easter weren’t far away when I ran out of mixed spice, dropped an egg and then stood in it, and to top it off tipped the jar of what I thought was a whole nutmeg into my hand and then realised it was ground nutmeg. Gah! Mishaps aside I had another dilemma: when baking simnel muffins, do we ball the marzipan to be in keeping with the tradition? Or do we do something different? I balled. Bad move; to start with not everyone knew what simnel cake was, but Mr. Egg was asked what the hard ball in the middle of the muffin was and if it could be eaten. Bad move indeed. For the second attempt I flattened the ball and put it between two layers of batter before baking. Much better. So if Friday 13th is some people’s nemesis, it would seem I am becoming increasingly unlucky during the Easter period. A time of rebirth? The start of all things new and a sign for what the year has in store for us? Perhaps it is time I start to worry…

Happy Easter readers, and happy caking,
One Egg xx

Madeleines

17th February 2013

Madeleines

Just lately I have been a bit poorly. Not poorly-sick, more getting old before my time sick. I have the back of someone three times my age and it’s been giving me a bit o’ jip. I hurt it a year or two ago and was in agony for weeks and weeks, despite being on heavy pain relief and physio. But in true British fashion I battled through and was doing OK apart from the odd creak here and there. A few weekends ago I was putting up a cake stand for a spot of Afternoon Tea (for my big brother’s birthday) and it gave way. Trip to the doc and I found out I had partially torn the muscles again. Sadface. I thus spent a week propped up with a big stack of tablets (these ones made me feel like I’d been doing shots, I hadn’t slept so well in ages!) and the boredom box aka Mr. television.

Oh my days was I bored. I watched more day time television that I care to admit to, read endless magazines and hobbled up now and again to make myself cups of tea. No moving. No bending. No work. No fun. I have however an amazing husband who kept me entertained when he wasn’t at work; I had breakfast in bad, tea cooked every night. One might say I was (temporarily) a lady of leisure. Without the leisure…thinking about it, probably not the lady bit either. OK, I didn’t do much. I have equally amazing friends who dropped by one evening with flowers and choccies and most importantly, company. The best kind of medicine!

I also watched a film I had recorded over Christmas that Mr. Egg refused to watch with me, stating he watches too many baking programs! It was about a lady who decided to bake all the recipes in one cook book and blog about each one. Perhaps you have heard of it. It was amazing. I have since come to the conclusion that I am seriously lacking somewhat with my blog. I mean, is anyone actually reading this? And more to the point, are you enjoying it? Perhaps I need more focus. What to focus on…that is the real question!

I am now able to move much more than I could. I am still aching but at least I don’t have to plan my trip to the bathroom. I can also put on my own socks. This is an achievement believe me! This morning I thought I would try doing something productive, and inspired by the slight French theme of the film, I made madeleines. I have been searching for a madeleine tin for what seems like ages. I love a new tin; I have a list of things I want to buy (caking related of course) and a madeline tin has been near the top for a long while. Finally the Gods of baking smiled down on my apron strings and I found one! It was also a back-friendly recipe; the butter was melted so no vigorous stirring. I could sit down and do it all, apart from the transfer to the oven. Simple.

Divine. I can describe madeleines as absolutely divine. Light, fluffy and extremely more-ish. I added the zest of a lemon to mine as I had one that needed using up and I don’t think they even needed it. Quick and simple to make, hardly any baking time…hardly any eating time either! I read that you should eat madeleines the same day you bake them. I definitely do NOT see a problem with this! Baking the madeleines has cheered me up, and of course writing to my audience, whoever you are, wherever you are out there in the world, has too.

 

Madelines

Hot from the oven, sprinkled with icing sugar and ready to eat

Happy caking, One Egg xx

Keytar Cake

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25th January 2013

Keytar Cake

Have you ever been asked to do something, said yes to doing that something and then thinking what on Earth is that thing I have just said yes to? Well it happened to me! A friend asked if I would make a cake for her fiancé as he would be celebrating his big 4-0 this month. She wanted it to be in the shape of a keytar. What is this ‘keytar’ my friend speaks of?!

*Insert avid internet searching and video watching here*

It turns out a keytar is a cross between a keyboard and a guitar. Except it’s not. It’s more like a really awesome keyboard that you hold like a guitar, and instead of strings has a really cool button that makes what I can only describe in words as a ‘wowwwwwww’ noise. Hmm. I guess I can’t actually describe it in words. Needless to say my musical talent or more my ability to describe high-tech musical instruments is slightly amiss. My caking ability, well, I hope that’s slightly better!

I made a delicious 14 x 9.5 inch vanilla sponge which I cut as best I could into the right shape. Mr. Egg had to do me a wee template which we tried to make as scale as possible. Sadly when you try to squash something that is meant to be nearly a meter long onto a board that’s 35% smaller things start to get tricky, and the amount of cake isn’t going to really be more than a mouthful. Some slight adjustments later and I had a basic outline. I filled the cake with strawberry jam and vanilla buttercream, then crumb-coated with white chocolate ganache. Having tried dark chocolate ganache on my First Cake of 2013 I wanted to give white chocolate a go; despite reading lots of scare stories about splitting I didn’t have any trouble.

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Mini man with mini keytar

I covered the sides of the keytar first, trimmed all the edges and made sure they were stuck down then laid a large piece of fondant over the top. Slightly fiddly, but possible safer than rolling out a humongous piece and draping it over the cake in one big swoosh (I predicted this would mainly involve ripping and possibly cursing of the gods of fondant). For the keys I weighed identical balls of white fondant which I then shaped and stuck on. I attached a ribbon to act as a strap and added the finishing details with royal icing; I didn’t have a nozzle small enough to do ‘proper’ detail i.e. numbers by the keys.

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Band name hand painted with edible silver paint on the back of the shirt of the mini man

Last but not least I sat a mini-man atop his keytar throne and gave him a mini keytar to play. I think I can safely say the keytar cake was a success from the tears in the eyes of the birthday boy.

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Keytar cake completed

Happy caking, One Egg xx

First Cake of 2013

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12th January 2013

First cake of the Year

Christmas has sadly left us for another year and we are spring cleaning the house ready for the new year, wishing we had just a few more lie-ins before work starts again, and not even mentioning the new year diets for fear of upsetting that last piece of Christmas cake. Well, it would be a shame to leave it now wouldn’t it? This new year wasn’t to start with too much gloom for some; my uncle-in-law was out to impress his girlfriend and asked me to make a little cake as a token of his affection. May I add that when I met Mr. Egg I was very shy and his enormous family scared the yolk out of me (He has eight uncles and three aunties. Not to mention all the nieces/nephews/cousins/second-cousins and of course all their children!). This uncle probably scared me the most, but is a bit of a softy now I’ve gotten to know him, so I was more than happy to turn on my oven and get baking.

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Button detail on the back side of the cake

I made a simple 4-inch chocolate sponge which I split into three layers and filled with dark chocolate ganache. There was a bit spare so I made a few truffles. I got an edible-lace mat from Mr. Egg this Christmas and this was the perfect opportunity to try it out. On my second attempt (the first went a bit sticky as I was a bit of an eager-beaver and didn’t let it dry enough) I managed to successfully cut out some details and wrap it around the fondant-covered cake. I added some pearlescent nonpareil for detail and fondant buttons. The top was decorated with piped royal icing which I painted with lustre and a fondant flower. Simple, but effective and most definitely putting those of us who struggle around Valentine’s Day to shame!

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First cake of 2013

Happy caking, One Egg xx