Friday, 30 December 2011

Mary-Anne's Melting Moments.

      These are currently my complete favourite sweet treat. I cannot begin to describe how utterly gorgeous they are! Cake sex! Messy, make you moan, and finished far too quickly.
      Ahem....Anyway, this was my third attempt at making these and they finally looked like what they're supposed to look like. The recipe is from Mary-Anne Boerman's blog and is a recipe she used in the Great British Bake Off.

  • 250g Plain flour
  • 58g Cornflour
  • 58g Icing sugar
  • 250g Unsalted butter at room temp.
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract.
  • Food colouring (Optional)
For the filling:
  • 125ml milk
  • 2 tbsp Plain flour
  • 110g Unsalted butter at room temp.
  • 110g Caster sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • Seedless Jam  
  1. Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and mix together until pale and fluffy.
  2. Add vanilla extract and mix in.
  3. Sift the flour and cornflour, add to the butter mixture and mix well until smooth.
  4. Now, if you want, you can add a line of food colouring to the inside of a piping bag, this will pimp the biscuits up, or you can have them plain. 
  5. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle.
  6. Pipe circles of the mixture onto a baking paper lined baking tray. Pipe a circle of about 3-3.5cm diameter finishing in the centre and lifting the nozzle to form a small peak. Place each swirl at least an inch apart. You should get about 30 biscuits from the mixture at this size.
  7. Place the trays of biscuits in the freezer for 15-20 mins. This will help them hold their shape when baked.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c Fan
  9. Bake the biscuits for about 12 minutes until pale golden and turning very slightly brown at the edges.
  10. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Be gentle with them.


  1. Put the milk and flour in a small saucepan and heat whilst whisking.
  2. Keep going until the mixture thickens, then keep going for 1 more minute.
  3. Pour the mixture onto a plate and cover, leave to cool completely.
  4. Beat the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy, and then beat a bit more, the more pale and fluffy the better. 
  5. Add the cooled milk mixture and vanilla extract and mix in for at least 10 minutes.
  6. Put 3-4 tbsp of jam into a bowl and stir for a bit with a fork to even any lumps in the jam out.
  7. Using a teaspoon, spoon jam onto the bases of half the biscuits.
  8. Spoon the buttercream mixture into a piping bag fitted with the large star nozzle and pipe mixture onto the bases of the other half of the biscuits.
  9. Put jammy halves together with creamy halves.
  10. Sprinkle with a little icing sugar.
  11. Eat. Moan with joy. Realise they've all gone. Cry. Return to Step 1....

The red swirls would have been more defined if I'd been less generous with the food colouring.

THE nicest buttercream!

Melt-in-the-mouth gorgeousness!

Some tunes for these beauties because they're the best!

Dear melting moments, nothing compares to you....
"It's been 7hrs and 15 days..." Yes, but enough about your marriage Sinead!

Robert Smith heard about these and then wrote Just Like Heaven for them! Oh yes!

..and then you eat them all :( and you think Good thing, where have you gone?

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Critters Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream covering.

So I thought, hmmm, what can I make my Sister for Christmas, I know! A cake with all her animals on! One text later I regretted this idea - 2 dogs, and now others had increased to 11 rabbits and 19 guinea pigs! (These numbers were out of date by the time the cake was eaten haha!)  Still, the modelling practice would be good, especially seeing as all modelling I had ever done in 41 yrs was, um, disappointing. So challenge on!

    I used the cake and buttercream recipe from Sara's Cooking Diary with the only change being that I used 23cm/9" spring-form tins as I wanted as much top surface as possible for the animals. It still made a plenty deep enough cake. I thought the sponge was just right for a large cake, not too light and fluffy, not too heavy, just about the right body and texture, and mixed with the buttercream it was very, very nice! I will be using this for a choccy cake again :)

  • 250g Dark Chocolate
  • 170g Unsalted butter at room temp.
  • 350g Light brown sugar
  • 3 Large free range eggs
  • 370g Plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 500ml milk at room temp
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract.
For the buttercream:
  • 175g dark chocolate
  • 225g Unsalted butter at room temp.
  • 1 tbsp milk at room temp.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g icing sugar

  1.  Grease and line 2 x 23cm tins, or as I do now spray lovely non-stick spring-form tins with even lovelier cake release spray. 
  2. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a bowl over a saucepan of water or in a microwave heating with 30sec bursts. Don't stir the chocolate while it's being melted. Allow the chocolate to cool a bit.
  3. Preheat oven to 180c/170c fan/Gas 5
  4. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until pale and smooth
  5. Separate the eggs, beat the yolks and slowly add them whilst mixing.
  6. Add the slightly cooled chocolate and mix well.
  7. In another bowl sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt.
  8. In a jug mix together the milk and vanilla extract.
  9. Alternately add a third of dry ingredients and third of the the milk to the chocolate mixture and mix well. Repeat until the dry ingredients and milk are all added.
  10. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
  11. Carefully fold in the whisked whites to the mixture with a metal spoon until fully mixed in, be gentle, you don't want to beat the air out of the whisked whites.
  12. Divide the mixture equally between the 2 tins.
  13. Bake for approx 35 minutes, until risen and a skewer comes out of the centre clean.
  14. Leave the cakes to cool for 10 minutes, then tip out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
For the buttercream:

  1. Melt the chocolate as above and leave to cool a while
  2. I did the following in a food processor, but you're welcome to hand beat it. In a large bowl beat together the butter, milk, vanilla and icing sugar until completely mixed.
  3. Add the slightly cooled chocolate and mix until creamy and smooth. If the mixture seems to runny, add more icing sugar.
  4. I mated the 2 top sides of the sponges together so that the bottom and top of the cake were flat. Test the two sponges together and if necessary, trim off any bits of the mating faces to help the sponges sit flat.
  5. Add buttercream to one surface and sandwich the sponges together. If you are icing the sides as well as the top then use about a third of the mix. If you're just doing the sandwich and top then use a half (It will be quite thick, which is fine :) )
  6. Use a palette knife to apply the buttercream to the rest of the cake.
  7. I found the buttercream to be quite solid at fridge temp but less so, but not runny, at room temp.
  8. Eat! or decorate further.

    Half the army of animals ready and willing!

    Stanley Dog - The first animal I made and the only one I was happy with.

    Rocky the Shug.

    Now mothers, tell your children, not to doooooooo what I have done.... The Animals - House of the Rising Sun.

    A single Animal doing his thing whilst Rita Moreno tries to sing Fever. Just brilliant!

    And finally, I think there's enough animals for them to have a Carnival.... Saint-Saens - Aquarium

    Finally, finally. Seeing as I made this for my Sister it's a fine excuse for slipping in some awesomeness from Groove Armada - Look Me In The Eye Sister.  I was thinking that i got carried away with Gingerbread Glastonbury until I saw this :D Just brilliant Vid!

    Wednesday, 28 December 2011

    Gingerbread Glastonbury.

    Being born a few miles from the Pilton site I've always been proud, when living in the area, of having the best festival in the world on my doorstep. Each time I've been leaves so many life long memories of all the bands, comedians, cabaret and theatre acts, and other festival goers. From the deepest, stickiest mud to the hottest, dustiest, heatstroke inducing years, and from camping the full five days, to helping out on the sewage side of things (Imagine being up to the tops of your wellies in human....nevermind) and popping home each night to a nice shower and bed. Glastonbury is the sweetest festival, and so...

    Sweet indeed! There must be at least, oooh, 50 calories in this :) Hundreds of thousands of Jelly babies rockin it in front of the famous Gingerbread Pyramid stage. (I think it's Jelly Baby Bloc Party playing, but they've forgotten their instruments. Silly Jelly BabyBloc Party!)

    •  200g butter
    • 85g Caster Sugar
    • 85g Brown Sugar
    • 150g Golden syrup
    • 500g Plain flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
    • 1 tbsp Ground ginger
    • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
    • 1 Large egg white
    • 300g Icing sugar
    • Decorations.

    • Make cardboard templates of what you want to build, be it a house, Pyramid Stage, or VW Campervan. I sellotaped mine together first, just to check it all worked.
    • Line enough baking trays with baking paper.
    • Melt the butter, caster sugar, brown sugar and syrup in a suacepan.
    • Sift the flour, bicarb, ginger and cinnamon together. 
    • Add the melted butter mixture and mix well until a dough forms.
    • Flatten the dough ball to 2cm thick, cling film, and place in the fridge for at least 30 mins
    • On a floured surface take some of the dough, or all of it depending on the surface size you have to work on, and roll out to about 5mm thick. Place on the templates and cut out with a knife or roller cutter. Place the cut out gingerbread onto the lined baking trays.
    • Place the trays in the freezer for at least an hour.
    • Preheat the oven to 180c/170c Fan/Gas 4
    • Bake the pieces for 12-15mins.
    • When cooked, move the gingerbread on the baking paper to a cooling rack.When cooled stiff, they can be removed from the baking paper to finish cooling.
    • Freezing before cooking helps the gingerbread hold it's shape during cooking but when totally cool you can put the pieces up together to see if there are any areas that have gone out of shape. Any trimming can be done with scissors, gently.
    • Make the 'cement' for the grand design by mixing together the egg white and icing sugar in a bowl. The cement needs to be able to be piped but not so runny that it runs off a spoon. Add more icing sugar if the mix is runny. Place how much you think you may need into a piping bag with a 2-3mm hole or nozzle.
    • Put cement on the edges to be joined and build, build, build. At this point you may need an extra pair of hands or three, or in my case a variety of beer cans a tub of salt to hold sides together until they dry. Vertical or self supporting sides can be left unsupported after about half an hour, just don't breathe on them! Leave the structure to dry overnight. The remaining icing mix needs to be covered, or placed into an icing bag with a small hole/writing nozzle, to stop it drying.

    A Naked Pyramid Stage.
    • You will of course now have your decorations ready and an exact plan of what you're doing with them! Haha. Ok, Grab the decorations you have, the smaller ones like little pearlescent balls or choc drops can be attached with a line of icing on the structure, for the larger ones like the smarties, choc buttons I found it easier to apply icing to each sweet and then stick to the build. 
    • For this, I used Curly Wurlys, Chocolate buttons, Jelly Beans, Jelly Babies, Chocolate chips, Smarties, Soft shimmer pearls, Silver shimmer spray for the stage floor, and White Regalice for the pyramid tip. Oh, and some grey Regalice for the crowd's 'Pigeon-on-stick' :)
    • Let your creative juices run wild. There are plenty of Gingerbread House images you can google for inspiration, and have a gander at these beauties!
    • Stare at your creation and go WOW!  Show your friends, this will help them become convinced that you're insane.
    • Eat, though probably not all at once because that would be insane.

    Entered in The Great British Baking Club's Gingerbread house challenge, it was a joint winner of 'Most creative interpretation of a Gingerbread house' (I think they made a special category for special entries lol) along with @cakeboule's awesome Gingerbread VW Campervan! :)

    I miniaturised myself, jumped in a tiny helicopter and took this footage :)

    So, onward to some tunage! Sticking to the Pyramid stage to start with, which I rarely do at Glastonbury, kicking off with the only time I've managed to see Muse do Citizen Erased. It was emotional.

    ...and then, whilst lots of strange people were sat in a couple of fields watching a game of football, the rest of us were enjoying the delights of Glastonbury, including a bloomin good shout-a-long with the following two...

    Not normally my kind of thing but this blew me away! Energy and Soul incarnate! Blasting the Other Stage Janelle Monae - Tightrope

    One of the reasons I had to go back in 2010, after a long break, was seeing this on TV. Pendulum, I think, reaching the zenith of their career with their 2009 Glastonbury set. Gives me goosebumps watching this, and I wasn't even there lol. The 2011 Pyramid set just didn't cut it for me. It felt, lacklustre. 
    2009 - Pendulum - The Other Stage - Different & Remix of Clavin Harris's I'm Not Alone.

    Moving on to the awesomeness of the Theatre and Cabaret @ Glasto

    ...and finally, Arcadia Spectacular! The South-East doing what it does... (Full screen HD required :) )

    And finally, finally! Chase and Status - Sweet Sensation from 2011. THE Biggest set to hit West Holts for, well, ever! :) (Although, I missed a bit due to ambling down from, um, Radiohead in The Park I think (?), and thinking Chase started half an hour after they did lol)

    As you can see from the videos, I think I captured the minute details of the Pyramid stage, from the regular June snowfall, right down to the Smarties light system :) Long Live Glasto!

    P.S. I'm sooooooo sorry Michael, it was the beer :)

    P.P.S. 14/2/12 - A massive thank you! to the wonderful Glasto peeps who have posted Gingerbread Glasto on the Festival Site! I am one big messy grin! 

    P.P.P.S. 20/2/12 - He's gone home! Have a lovely long life at Worthy Farm sweet gingerbread child of mine :)

    Wednesday, 21 December 2011

    Cheese and Onion Tear n Share

    A lovely bit of breadstuffs for those of you with friends or a gathering of people to feed. An ace Tear n Share loaf from @officialchefjae's Preheat the Oven Blog with not just a tasty cheesy topping, but the Oooooooh! factor of each piece having cheese and onion in the centre.

    • 450g White bread flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 7g Easy bake yeast (Or one sachet)
    • 300ml lukewarm water (100ml boiling water with 200ml cold water)
    • 2 tbsp Olive oil
    • 1 onion
    • 150g Mature cheddar (About50g for topping)
    1. Weigh a large mixing bowl so you can work out the weight of dough at the end easily.
    2. Sift half flour and salt into the bowl, sift rest of flour and then add yeast and sugar. Mix briefly.
    3. Add the oil to the water and stir, add this to the flour mix whilst stirring. Mix thoroughly then leave covered for 10 mins.
    4. Put the dough out onto a surface. Floured if the dough seems wet, oiled if the dough seems dry.
    5. Knead for 10 mins until smooth and elastic. 
    6. Oil the bowl and put the dough back in, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size. Weigh and subtract weight of the bowl.
    7. Heat a frying pan on a low heat, chop the onion finely and sweat in the pan for 10-15mins.
    8. Put the onion onto some kitchen towel to cool.
    9. Grate the cheese.
    10. Place baking paper on a large baking tray.
    11. Put the dough back on a surface, knock back, and knead for 5 mins.
    12. Divide weight of dough by 19. Take one of these 19ths of dough, shape into an approx 3" diameter circle, add a bit of 100g of cheese and onion (About a 19th of it ;) ) to the centre of the circle and pinch up the edges of the dough circle around it sealing it inside. Place this ball, pinched side down on the baking tray. (You can always grate a bit more cheese)
    13. If you have trouble trying to fit the cheese and onion in the circle of dough you can increase the amount of dough, but you will have fewer and larger pieces, and also 19 makes a nice shaped loaf of 3:4:5:4:3 blobs.
    14. Repeat for the rest of the dough blobs leaving no more than an inch between them on the tray in their 3:4:5:4:3 arrangement (If you have 19 of the little fellas)
    15. Cover, and leave until doubled in size.
    16. When the dough's nearly ready, preheat the oven to 190c/180c Fan/Gas 5
    17. When the dough is ready, sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese over the top.
    18. Bake for about 25mins until golden brown.
    19. Remove from oven, brush with olive oil, leave to cool on a rack.
    20. Party.

    OK, Time for some E P I C    T U N E S !!!! Starting with Dire Straits - Telegraph Road

    Next, we have (Unless I explode during the Blogger youtube search process) Pink Floyd - Shine on you Crazy Diamond Knebworth 1990 Stylee! (You can see me near the middle there somewhere :) )

    And finally,THE BEST BAND called Jane's Addiction EVER!!! with Three Days.

    These are great songs for listening to whilst sitting next to a pond late at night releasing tea lights in little boats, um, or wherever :)

    Banana Bread

    Good 'ole banana bread using up all those over-ripe bananas that end up sat there because you're too busy eating chocolate truffles. A tasty moist little number this one with added fruit and nuts.

    • 250g Plain flour
    • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
    • 1/4 tsp Salt
    • 1tsp Mixed spice
    • 1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon
    • 50g Crushed Pecans
    • 50g raisins
    • 115g Butter - cubed at room temp
    • 115g Soft brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp Honey
    • 2 Free range eggs
    • 4 Bananas - Over-ripe.
    1. Preheat oven to 180c/Gas 4. Grease a loaf tin - approx 23cm L x 13cm W x 7cm D. I also now use Dr Oetker Cake release spray which is bloomin brilliant!
    2. Sift flour, bicarb, salt, spice & cinnamon into a large mixing bowl, add raisins and pecans and mix briefly.
    3. In a seperate bowl cream together butter and brown sugar, stir in the eggs, honey and then the mashed bananas until well mixed.
    4. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and mix together.
    5. Pour into the loaf tin. You can add extra crushed pecans to the top now if required. Push them in slightly as they will roast pretty harshly on top of the loaf.
    6. Bake for approx 60 minutes, until risen, brown, and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
    7. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool.
    8. Eat.


     More bananas!

    And MORE!!! Oh wait, no, it's Portishead - Machine Gun Live on Jools Holland's Later :)

    Sunday, 18 December 2011

    Blueberry and Mango Muffins & Introducing Noel....

    Poor little prototype. Noel was a proud, 6 foot tall snowman until I bought him inside in the warm and put him on top of a Blueberry, Mango and Pecan cupcake (Recipe below...)

    Seeing as he's a little Christmassy fellow, I've thrown him into English Mum's Big Christmas Bake Off for a larf :)

    Here you go Noel, some classic '80s for you :) Modern English - I Melt With You

    Which then reminded me of this awesome tune from The Wedding Present - Brassneck

    And to chill Noel out a bit, some Christmassy Darude - Sandstorm :)

    Blueberry, Mango & Pecan cupcakes: 

    These really are quite darn tasty and I'll definitely be making them again. Very quick and very tasty :)

    • 300g Plain flour
    • 2 tsp Baking powder
    • 125g Caster sugar
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 50g Dried Mango pieces
    • 100g Dried Blueberries
    • 80g Broken up Pecans
    • 225ml Milk
    • 125ml Vegetable oil
    • 1 Free range egg.

    1. Preheat the oven to 190c/170c fan/Gas 5. 
    2. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients, fruit and nuts.
    3. In a bowl or jug beat the egg, add oil and milk and mix together.
    4. Add the wet mixture to the bowl of dry mixture. 
    5. Mix together until combined evenly.
    6. Divide the batter between 12 muffin cups
    7. Bake for 20-23mins until risen and golden, test cooked through with a cocktail stick/skewer.
    8. Allow to cool in the tray for 10 mins then move from the tray to a cooling rack to cool.
    9. Decorate (Optional)
    10. Eat (Mandatory)

    Here's the rest of Noel's friends (Apart from the one who sacrificed himself in my mouth) Noel was my first play with Icing so I thought I'd see what else was possible with these learning hands for the other 10. Varying results but I learned things along the way, so that's good then :)

    Tuesday, 13 December 2011

    Russian Honey cake.


         Ah now, this is probably the most impressive cakes that I've made so far. Technically and creatively challenging (For me) but I came out the other side with a cake that looked, and tasted bloomin luverly!
         This is a recipe from the wonderful Mary-Anne Boermans Time to Cook Blog where Mary-Anne has written a lot more about how the cake came about, and it's wonders. Again, pretty much like all my recipes here, Mary-Anne will show you how to make the cake properly, and the following is how I stumbled through it. It is actually good fun to make, even when you're throwing crumbs at the side of it at two o'clock in the morning! Anyway...

    • 3 Large Free Range Eggs
    • 225g Caster sugar
    • 3 tbsp Honey
    • 100g Unsalted butter, cubed
    • 1 tsp Bicarb
    • 450g Plain flour
    • 1 Litre Reduced-fat Creme fraiche
    • 3 tbsp Icing sugar.

        1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/Gas 4
        2. Weigh an empty bowl so you know roughly the final weight of mixture later on.
        3. Place a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add the honey to the bowl.
        4. Add the eggs, butter and caster sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the mix smooth.
        5. Add the Bicarb and whisk for another minute.
        6. Grease and line with baking paper up to 4 20cm x 30cm tins. 
        7. Remove the bowl from the heat and gradually mix in the flour.The resulting mix can vary between putty and rollable dough. Mine ended up a kind of very sticky toffee (Possibly my eggs weren't large enough as not graded ones) and I struggled to spread the mix thinly enough in the tins, and as it cooled more it got thicker and I ended up spreading between 3 tins. But whatever mix you end with, aim to split the dough between 3 or 4 tins. Possibly leave the mix over the saucepan of water, but off of heat to keep it more malleable, or maybe a hot palette knife would spread it easier. 
        8. Bake for 3-4 mins (Maybe 4-5mins for a triple layer cake) until golden brown. Then tip out onto a cooling rack to cool. (If you happen to bake each tin to a slightly different colour, don't worry, you get a more colourful cake ;) )
        9. While they're cooling, put the creme fraiche into a bowl, add the icing sugar and mix well.
        10. When the cakes are cool, stack them together and trim off the sides to make them all the same shape.
        11. Put the off-cuts in a processor and blitz until crumbs.
        12. Place one layer of cake on a cooling rack and spread about a 1.5cm deep layer of the creme fraiche mix over it. Place the next cake on top and repeat, then the next...
        13. Then spread creme fraiche mix over the 4 sides of the cake so the cake is now totally covered.
        14. Place the rack and cake into a large baking tray and press cake crumbs into the sides of the cake.The way i ended up doing it was to have a handful of crumbs up to the side of the cake and push them against it with a knife or palette knife. Excess crumbs will fall into the baking tray and you can use them again. Continue this until the sides are coated. Mine ended up with some crumbs on the top as I started off throwing the crumbs at the side lol, so I added a few more on top to make it look deliberate :)
        15. Cover the cake and leave, preferably overnight, as this allows the moisture from the creme fraiche mix to soak into the sponge making it moist and tangy. So sometime later, you end up with something, like this... :)

          8th April 2012 ...and here's a little one I knocked up for my first Clandestine Cake Club meet in Coventry yesterday. Pimped up a bit for the Easter theme. I used 3 9" x 9" tins for this one, but still the same ingredients. I'll make the sponges as thin as they're meant to be one day :D

          Right, Honey cake, Honey, Honeyz, Laydeees all the laydeees (Otherwise known as female humans, or women)
          4 layers of some kick-butt all female action starting with the much underrated Call the Shots from Girls Aloud! (Oh come on, it could have been the Spice Girls :p )

          Blimey, must be hell for them living their entire lives in slow motion! Anyway, next....

          Back to the 90's for a fantastic trio from Minneapolis. Not their best song, but they're pretty thin on the ground on uToob. Jackals by Zuzu's Petals:

          Thirdly, and O.M.G!!! I just found this little rarity. Death by Crimpers - Obsessive. The world famous 5 piece from Oxford! Now, I know what you're thinking, this single version's not as good as the demo, and yes, I agree, but I was at the Jericho for this video shoot, so this will do nicely :D

          For the final layer I was going to put up Robert Palmer's Addicted to Love video, until someone pointed out there was a man in the video!?! Who knew? So I decided to end this gnarled 90's triple-play with a bit more Riot Grrrl action in the form of the magnificent, shadow-casting gloriousness of Babes in Toyland - Sweet '69

          Monday, 12 December 2011

          Chocolate Liqueur Truffles

          Oh wow these were a pain to make! (You enjoyed it really! - Ed) Stress, rushed photos, chocolate everywhere... but, if you make them properly, they're very, very easy and absolutely gorgeous!
          These are from Ruth Clemens's The Pink Whisk where you can find them looking very special and done properly, just how I will do them next time. On Ruth's blog version you'll notice the line "After a lot of trial and error...." This, is my trial and error.

          I'll get to why they were a pain later, but firstly, here is how I will do them next time :)

          For the filling:
          • 300g Plain (50% cocoa is fine, don't use G&B 70% apparently), or milk chocolate
          • 200ml Double cream
          • 2 tbsp Liqueur
          For the coating:
          • 200g Plain (As high % cocoa as you like), or milk chocolate
          • Any decorations eg Glitter, white choc gratings/drizzlings
          1.  Pour the cream into a saucepan on a medium heat.
          2. Chop up the 300g chocolate into small pieces.
          3. When the cream starts to bubble around the edges of the saucepan add the chopped chocolate and let sit for a few minutes.
          4. Then stir well until glossy.
          5. Add the liqueur of choice, or omit all together, and mix well.
          6. Pour the mix into a bowl or tray, cover with clingfilm, allow to cool. Then move to fridge to set for a couple of hours.
          7. When set, scoop out large marble sized blobs of mix with a spoon (I'm going to try a round measuring spoon next time like a melon-baller) and form into rough shaped balls, place these on grease proof paper either on a wire rack or tray. Place back in the fridge for 30 mins
          8. Rinse off your hands in-between balls if they get too chocolatey :)
          9. Take a few at a time out of the fridge and, rolling between your hands, make neater ball shapes and place these on a wire rack. The smaller the balls the smaller the mesh needs to be on the rack. When all the balls are done, place back in the fridge while you melt more chocolate.
          10. Melt the 200g chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, or blipped in a microwave 30 secs at a time until almost all chocolate is liquid. Take off of the heat and stir until all the chocolate is melted. I then sat the bowl back over a saucepan of hot tap water to stop it cooling too quickly.
          11. Melt some white chocolate if required for decoration.
          12. Take the rack of truffle balls from the fridge and sit on top of a sheet of greaseproof paper.
          13. Spoon the liquid chocolate over the truffle balls so they are completely coated.
          14. Before the chocolate sets completely add any extra decoration eg, glitter, drizzled white chocolate.
          15. When the chocolate has solidified move the rack to the fridge to finish setting.
          16. The chocolate on the paper underneath the rack can be spread out and allowed to set to be kept for another time, or eaten :)
          17. These will keep for a fortnight at room temp, or double wrap to seal from moisture and smells and kept in the fridge. Bring back to room temp before unwrapping and munching.

          Now, the reason that things went a bit breasts-up for me was that I didn't have a suitable cooling rack for the little balls to sit on when pouring chocolate over them, so I decided that I was going to hold them on cocktail sticks while dipping and dripping choc over them. The thing was to devise a way of standing the now lollipop truffles up to cool and this is how...

          ...came into being. What better than a loo roll covered in baking paper to cool off your lollipop truffles!

           This kind of worked ok apart from the oversight that I either had to hold the truffles over the melted chocolate a bloody long time until excess dripped off, or I could end up with chocolate cocktail sticks as well. (I'm not even going to discuss the idea of a chocolate splattered loo roll (Good! - Ed)) To do all the balls took a very, very, long time during which I dreamt many times of a lovely fine meshed cooling rack, and peered out the corner of my eye at some bread stick dough that was desperate to be made into bread sticks!

          Next time, when I have my cooling rack I'll be using white chocolate for decoration. According to Ruth, this one from Sainsburys is good for the job :)

          After munching sooo many of these I thought I'd go for a bit of sweet stuff... 

          Starting off with the Lou Reed fan baiting Cowboy Junkies - Sweet Jane.

           Mixed in with some lovely gooey classic Blues Brothers - Sweet Home Chicago

          Coated in the lush shiny encapsulating The Beloved - Sweet Harmony

          (You sure as hell aren't going to have bodies like these if you eat too many of these truffles :D)

          Friday, 9 December 2011

          Leek and Potato soup.

          Well, I say Leek and Potato but it usually ends up with other various veggies in it as well, carrots normally, and sometimes a bit of broccoli.
          I started making soups to go with sarnies during the winter months to replace the wonderfully healthy litre flask of coffee I'd get get through before lunch. Now, whilst unemployed, I use it to stop me eating choco based goodies all day, ok, almost stop me...
          It's a lovely, basic, thick and tasty soup to see off any winter chills :)
          Will serve 4-6.

          • 500g pack of leeks (Or approx weight loose)
          • 1 red onion
          • 1 white onion
          • 3 - 4 medium spuds
          • 50g butter
          • 5 medium carrots
          • Chicken or Veg stock (I use 2 Chick oxo cubes)
          • 300ml Milk
          • 1 tsp Salt 
          • A sprinkling of pepper.
          • A sprinkling of Mixed herbs
          • 2 cloves garlic, crushed, or 1 tsp Garlic granules (Optional)
          1. Melt the butter in a 20cm or larger saucepan.
          2. Add salt, pepper, herbs and garlic.
          3. Trim and remove outer leaves of Leeks and chop to 1cm lengths. Add to saucepan.
          4. Chop onions and add to saucepan.
          5. Mix together with the butter mix, cover, and leave on a low heat for 10 mins stirring occasionally.
          6. Put the stock cubes in a jug and add 500ml boiling water to dissolve.
          7. Peel and dice the potatoes.
          8. Peel and chop up the carrots.
          9. After the 10 mins on low heat, add the potatoes and carrots to the saucepan and stir.
          10. Add the jug of stock.
          11. Add the milk.
          12. Top up the saucepan with water to an inch from the top and stir. Put the lid on, bring back to the boil, then leave simmering for 30 mins.
          13. Blend or liquidise. (If using a liquidiser make sure the soup's quite cool just in case your liquidiser jug likes to crack if you put hot soup in it, like, um, mine did years ago and is held together with super glue :) )
          14. Eat, or in the case of it not being eaten straight away, re-heat and eat.

          ...and then I thought, why stick with just one tune!?!

          By the way, these are not suitable for work, kids, sensitive people, or aliens wondering whether or not to spare the human race.

          A Mahooosive track from Chase & Status ft Mali - Let You Go.

          Um, another Mahooosive track from Chase & Status ft Plan b - Pieces :)

          And finally, ooooh! Some Chase & Status ft Delilah - Time :D
          Released with support for:
          REFUGE - For women and children against domestic violence.

          BOUNCE BOUNCE BOUNCE!!! (after letting soup settle)

          A recipe from Beardyman.

          A classic bit of Beardyman that fits darn nicely here :)

          Thursday, 8 December 2011

          Seeded Semi-wholemeal Bread.

          I started making my own bread about 6 weeks ago. After far too many schoolboy errors, I finally have a staple loaf that I'm happy to eat daily.
          I wanted a bread that would fit happily in the toaster so I wanted it contained by a tin bake, but also I wanted it to sit happily alongside a soup and be flavoursome and healthy-ish.

          • 350g Strong white bread flour
          • 100g Wholemeal bread flour
          • 50g Oat Bran
          • Dried Rosemary (optional)
          • Poppy seeds (optional)
          • Sunflower seeds (optional)
          • Brown Linseeds (optional)
          • 2 tbsp Rolled oats (optional)
          • 1 tsp Salt
          • 7g Easy-bake yeast
          • 280ml warm water
          • 30g butter
          • 2 tbsp Olive oil
          • 1 tbsp Golden syrup
          • Room temp milk to brush top of loaf.
            1. Sieve white flour and salt into a large bowl.
            2. Add as much Poppy seeds and Sunflower seeds as you want, and optional sprinkling of Rosemary.
            3. Add Wholemeal flour, Oat bran, then yeast. Mix with a fork.
            4. Boil the kettle and pour 150ml boiling water into a jug or bowl.
            5. Add the butter to this water and melt.
            6. Stir in the golden syrup and olive oil and then about 130ml cold water.
            7. Add liquid mixture to the flour mixture whilst stirring.
            8. Knead in the bowl briefly to get all the dry and wet mixed together.
            9. Leave for 10 minutes
            10. Place dough on a floured or oiled surface. (Up to you, I usually make the choice depending on how wet/sticky the dough is) and knead for 10 minutes. Oil the bowl slightly, place the ball of dough back in the bowl and turn it to give it a thin coat of oil. Place a clean damp tea towel or cling film over the bowl and leave for about 45 mins to rise. During the 45 mins pre-heat the oven to 200deg c/Gas 6
            11. Punch down the dough (Press your fingers into it and it will deflate) Put the dough back on floured or oiled surface and knead for a few minutes. Press out to about 25cm round, treat like a hexagon and fold in the 6 sides to the centre. Turn it over and shape to fit a 900g or 23cm x 13cm x 7cm greased tin. Punch to fill tin base, cover with damp cloth or oiled cling film, and leave until risen an inch or so above the the tin.
            12. When risen, brush the top gently with room temp milk, and/or dust lightly with flour (I haven't done these both together yet, might cause a black hole or something!) Chuck in the oven for 10 mins, then lower the temperature to 180deg c/Gas 4. Cook for approx another 25 mins.
            13. Check after this time. Loaf should have a nice hollow sound when tapped on the base. (I'm sure someone must have made a loaf drum set. Will check uToob later) If happy with the sound, leave in the tin for 10 mins then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool.
            14. Eat. 

            I then went free-form with the loaves, before then containing slightly in a 9" x 9" tray which just about works :)

            9th April 2012 - I knocked up a little Sun-dried tomato and basil loaf for The Oxford Bake Off recently.

             It was a little experimental number, and blow me down, IT WON!

            It was pretty much based on the normal bread but with added cut up Sun-dried toms and some basil paste. I'll use more quality ingredients at some point :)

            The poor thing just got quickly put together because I was completely focussed on brownies and cake, Id didn't get a good photo, just got dumped on a plate for presentation at the Bake Off, and the gorgeous little fella repaid my lack of effort by winning, and it won me one of these....

            ..from Bakery Bits, which allowed me to make gorgeous loaves like these....

            Hmmm, not a lot of love for Toni Collette :( Guess it's just you and me on the desert island Toni.


            Anyway, back to a tune. Before settling on using a tune that I happened to be listening to during the bake, I did consider either something directly linked to the post, or something along the lines of all those twitter word games #breadsongs #cakesongs etc etc. But I'll stick with a listened to tune for now.


            Seven seeds of Rye
            Wholemeal of the Moon
            Yellow Sub
            Stairway to Leaven
            ....feel free to add your own :)

            The Awesomeness that is MUSE - New Born.

            (Muse also did Bap of the Problematique, and covered House of the Rising Bun :) )