Giveaway: Tickets for Cake International

Picture © Daniel Graves PhotographyDo you love cake? Are you looking for inspiration or to improve your sugarcraft skills? If so, I have a great give away for you this week. I’ve teamed up with the organisers of  Cake International – The Sugarcraft, Cake Decorating & Baking Show to offer 5 lucky readers a chance to win a pair of tickets to this fantastic show at the EventCity, Manchester from 7-9 March 2014. Normal advance ticket price starts at £10, so grab yourself a bargain and check out below for how to enter.

With all the latest inspiration, supplies and advice from the baking world, demonstration theatres, special guests (including Mary Berry and Mich Turner) and fantastic special features, this is a treat for any baking fan. It’s high on my list of events for this spring and I definitely plan to settle down to some great talks  in the Author’s Kitchen and I have my eye on a couple of the ticket only demonstration theatre events (chocolate shoes anybody?). You can also  find details of exhibitors, guests and special demonstartions on the Cake International facebook page or follow @thecakeshows on twitter.

How to enter:

If you would like to enter, all you have to do is hit one of the share buttons below, leave a comment, tweet me or send me an email with your contact details. I’ll draw five lucky winners from my virtual hat on 2nd March and winners will be listed here on the blog.

(Please note, a couple of times I have tried to contact winners via their gravatar profile only to find their email address is no longer valid or mis-typed, do check your contact details are up to date if you want a chance to win).

Good luck

Ts and C’s

Closing date is midnight 1st March (UK time) and Tickets will be sent by post following the closing date.

Tickets are for two people on any day (ie 7th,  8th or 9th March)

Travel and expenses costs to and from the venue are not included in the prize

Tickets are not transferable to other events

Cake

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I found this in the kitchen today at Fibre and Clay. I had a teeny slice and can confirm it was delicious! Thankyou mystery baker x

Quick Bake: Butter Biscuits

A little treat, made for Mr T and the teen this week. 3 simple ingredients which most of us have in the  store cupboard. You can add any flavours you like. I used vanilla, but these taste equally good topped with nuts, chocolate chips or dried cranberries as in the photo.

Simply combine 100g very soft butter with 50g caster sugar and 150g of self raising flour. Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence. Once the mixture forms a ball, roll into 2 “logs” and chill for half an hour (or freeze until needed). Slice into discs approx 5mm wide and place wide apart on a greased baking tray. Bake at gas mark 4, they should be ready in 15 – 20 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling tray. I made these with my brownies last week and they thought they were fab!

Hope you enjoy them – this batch made 24 – which should last the family a day or two!

This Week I’m Loving …

In between trying to create a little scrapbook of our Mum and Daughter mini break I’ve been checking out a couple of bakers who blog …

Miranda (Runner Up on the Great British Bake Off), has been quietly working on a book, but her blog has some great bakes from the series, I’ve made most of them and they all come highly recommended by “Chez Todhunter”.

You should also check out Hannah’s Home Baked Blog, a bit of sewing, bit of nattering and some delicious recipes too.

Also, I discovered this lovely little site selling illustrated cards made by Charlotte Strawbridge (thanks to a proud Mummy Brag on twitter – best way to discover new talent!)

I am also still in love with Pinterest, especially being able to look at what others have pinned, a bit of late night mooching led to this beautiful discovery, although I need google translate to make sense of it, the photography is stunning.

I’m also loving, the growing harvest from the allotment, so far this year: peas, beans, spinach, onions, garlic, fresh coriander and enough lettuce to feed the entire village!

Home Made Naan Breads

Mr T is working in Scotland at the moment, so Friday  nights we celebrate his homecoming with lamb curry and naan bread. These are  easy to make, so I’m sharing the recipe with you so you can impress your friends – and wow your kids – they love watching the breads puff up like magic!

Note: I make these in my bread maker, but you can just as easily do them by hand

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp yeast (suitable  for bread makers)

250 g strong white flour

50 g wholemeal bread flour

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

15 g butter

2 tbs natural yoghurt

100 ml water

Method

Lightly whisk the yoghurt into the water, put all the dry ingredients in the bread maker and add the water  mix, followed by a knob of butter.

Use the dough setting and allow the bread maker to do it’s work.

Take the dough out of the bread maker, put it in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or cling wrap. Leave to prove for an hour or two (Or, you can do as I do and make the dough the day before and put the dough in the fridge over night).

When you are ready to cook your breads, set the oven to its highest setting – and do the same with your grill – both need to be HOT. Put a baking tray in the oven. Break off pieces of dough, the size doesn’t matter, it’s personal taste how big or small you like your naan breads to be. 

Take the baking tray out of the oven, place the flat breads on the tray and return to the oven for about 5 minutes or until they have puffed up. Then move the tray to the grill to brown the breads and serve straight away.

You can flavour your naan breads before rolling out, just knead your choice of flavourings into the dough. In our house we like to add plenty of garlic and coriander.  Served cold, these taste great dipped into home made hummous.

Recipe: Rhubarb and Custard Muffins

This recipe is given to you by request of L, who kindly voted for my blog, but said “It needs more baking”. He’s right, the blog has been a bit short on recipes lately. This mainly because “The Teen” has taken over kitchen duties and she’s not so keen to share her recipes with me – or you!

The origin of this recipe is BBC Good Food (most of my inspiration either comes form there or Nigella, if they don’t give me what I need then I tend to make something up). However, I did make a few changes, mainly as it was such a nice day and I didn’t have all the ingredients. I decided to “wing it”, the result was quite delicious. I’m sorry, you’ll have to take my word for it, my camera has had a major fail and neither Hubby nor “The Teen” are home to help me out. If you make these, send me a pic and I’ll post it here.

Enjoy the sunny weekend.

Tracey

Recipe: Rhubarb and Custard Muffins

250g stewed rhubarb (put the chopped rhubarb in a large pan, cover with water, add sugar to taste, about 75g works for me and simmer until soft. Drain off the juices before adding to the muffin mix.

150g soft brown sugar

75ml light sunflower oil

1 egg

Zest of an orange

250ml crème fraiche

300g self raising flour

8 tablespoons of Co-op ready made “fresh” custard (I suppose you could use your favourite brand, but that’s what I had in the fridge).

Method:

Set your oven gas 4.

Line a 12-hole muffin tin with  large muffin paper cases.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, oil, egg, orange zest and crème fraiche until there are no lumps and all are well mixed. Gently fold in the flour and add the rhubarb.

  1. Fill each muffin case to half way with the mixture, then  press in the centre of each muffin with a dessert spoon to make a dip. Fill each dip with a small blob of chilled custard, then gently smooth the rest of the muffin mix over the custard.*
  2. Sprinkle each muffin with a little more soft brown sugar to give a crunchy topping.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until risen and  pale golden in colour.

*The custard will ooze a little, so be careful not to overfill your muffin cases.

These muffins are best eaten warm, not straight from the oven. Alternatively allow to cool and serve chilled.

Cakes I Didn’t Bake

Ever since the teen was a tiny baby we’ve cooked and baked together. As a toddler she would stand on a chair to chop vegetables, stir cake mix and “help”. It wasn’t always easy to be patient “No, that’s enough sugar, aargh – don’t lick the spoon …” You get the idea!

By the time she was 12 she could make a pretty good risotto and at 14 had mastered a swiss roll lighter than air.

Now, she likes to bake alone, to disappear into the kitchen and experiment. It’s been hard for me to give up my kitchen, not to offer advice or as she puts it “Interfere and take over”.

I suppose this is why I invested all that time, in the hope that my love of all things home made might rub off on her and that the family traditions of making and crafting would carry on to the next generation.

It pains me to admit she makes better cakes than  I do, but hey, she learnt from a master!

These are Lemon and Lime

And, these are Chocolate and Nutella

No other news for you really, just wanted a proud Mummy Brag!

Tx

Sour Cherry Scones

This is a recipe for Sour Cherry Scones, inspired  by a recipe shared in my pilates class,you’ll have to take my word for how delicious they are, because the washed out photos don’t do them justice.

Apparently, sour cherries are not so great in home made fudge (which is the recipe on the back of the packet), but R says they are much better in a scone. R told us all about his baking of these scones during a Friday morning class and I just had to try them – he’s right – they are delicious.

So here you are –  my version – a little something for your weekend.

Tx

Sour Cherry Scones

Ingredients:

1 bag dried sour cherries (I used Ocean Spray found in the supermarket)

200g plain flour

50g butter

1 tablespon of baking powder

a pinch of salt

1/4 pint of milk

Method:

Tip the flour, butter, salt and baking powder in a food processor and blend for 5 seconds. Add the milk and blend on a medium speed until the mixture forms a ball. Add the sour cherries and pulse gently until they are distributed through the mixture (or remove the mixture and knead in gently if you want to keep the fruit whole).

Take out of the food processor, roll into a thick, short cylinder on a floured board, cut into slices at least an inch thick.

Place on a baking tray, brush the tops with a mixture of milk and beaten egg and bake in a hot oven* (gas mark 7) for about 15 minutes.

If the scones look like they’re burning, turn the heat down for the last 5 minutes or so.

* My oven is wonderful, but cooks on the cooler side, use your judgement and if you know you need to adjust the temperature then do so.

We enjoyed these sitting in the garden over the Easter weekend, well  when I say “we”, I mean my lovely friend J and I who enjoyed an indulgent day while the menfolk hit the fells!! Needless to say, there were no leftovers for their return. We are consummate professionals when it comes to scones.

So, thanks to R for this week’s recipe – and thanks for always getting my weekend off to such a great start.

Recipe: Chocolate and Blueberry Muffins

You might have thought I’ve been neglecting my baking. Not so, it’s just I haven’t had anything new to share with you. This week I just felt the need for chocolate, but not a cake or a cookie. So I “embellished” my blueberry muffin recipe with a handful of chocolate chunks. It tasted better than it sounds, try it. You might be surprised…

Sunday Baking: Blueberry Muffins

On cold wintry, Sunday afternoons I like to bake. These muffins are a family favourite.   You can substitute the blueberries for other soft fruit, but in our house, blueberries are the most popular, although home grown rasberries come into favour in the autumn. You can use fresh or frozen.

Ingredients:

50g unsalted butter (melted and allowed to cool slightly)

200g plain flour

2 tablespoons of baking powder

50g soft brown sugar

100g natural yoghurt

100ml milk

2 eggs (Ours are free range and mixed sizes, I tend to go for the medium sized ones – occasionally we get a double yolker – it doesn’t seem to affect the results!)

A pinch of salt

100g blueberries

Method:

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder, add the sugar and combine gently. Put the milk, yoghurt, butter and eggs in a jug and beat until combined. Fold into the dry ingredients, the batter should be lumpy, not smooth like a sponge cake. Add the blueberries and divide the mixture between 12 large bun cases.

Bake at Gas mark 6 for about 20 minutes (depending on your oven). I know it’s hard, but let them cool a little before you attempt to eat them. If you  have better self control than us, you can store them for a couple of days in an airtight tin. Best served with a mug of tea (made in the pot) in front of a log fire with the new series of Time Team on TV!!